We are moving ever closer to the second book in our Brown Mountain Lights series, tentatively titled Seeking the Brown Mountain Lights, and that means our cover designer, Kim Maxwell, has started working on the cover. I met her for lunch Tuesday to talk about the design. This one is proving to be a challenge but I’m sure Kim will overcome any and all obstacles and create another gorgeous cover like she always has in the past.

This will be the sixth cover she’s designed for us. It all started with Beloved Woman, the third book in our Appalachian Journey series. And we were so impressed, we asked her to do or re-do all of our books.

 

Next, we asked her to re-design the cover of the second book,  Moonfixer , because we weren’t satisfied with the one we had which we made. It was just too dull and though it had the picture of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletcher taken on their wedding day we didn’t like it very much. It just didn’t feel like it fit the book so … enter Kim.

We liked what she did with the other two so much we asked her to re-design Whistling Woman, the first book in the series. She changed that one by photographing the picture of Miss Cordy, adding the picture of Mama and Papa with Bessie as a baby and a few sprigs of cedar. I had the pleasure of watching her set it all up using my husband’s grandmother’s old cedar chest as the base. It was fascinating all the things she checked and double checked before she was satisfied with the picture.

The next one she did was the final book of the series, Wise Woman. For this one, Kim and I met for lunch then drove around till we found a place we could pick some of the beautiful purple asters that bloom here in the late summer/early fall so she could use them on the cover. After she put it all together, it was beautiful and ended up being my favorite cover.

When Christy and I decided to write another series we knew right away we wanted Kim to do the covers. The first book in our Brown Mountain Lights series, Through the Brown Mountain Lights, added a few extra hurdles for Kim. First, she would need to go to Morganton and shoot a picture of Brown Mountain and also, she would be designing this one without much if any help from us. For the Appalachian Journey series, we had numerous pictures of Aunt Bessie and pretty much  knew which one we wanted to use for each book but for this one we really didn’t have any idea of what to use. No worries, Kim to the rescue.

The writing of the second book in the series is finished which means the hard part for us pretty much done. All we have left is the editing, polishing, and formatting it for e-book and print. While we do that, Kim’s working on the cover which I know will be gorgeous like all her other ones have been. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

If you would like to read more about how Kim creates our beautiful covers, check out her blog: Covers, Cats and Clicks. That will take you to a page that lists all the posts she’s done about our books.

 

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Sorry we’ve been AWOL for so long but we’ve been busy writing the second book in our Brown Mountain Lights series, tentatively titled Searching for the Brown Mountain Lights. More on that later …

First, I want to share some news with our awesome readers. Our  publisher who did the French translation of Whistling Woman, Les deces arrivent toujours par trois, asked us to participate in a free giveaway to French readers. The book will be available free for a short time starting on November 6th. So, if you’re fluent in French or know anyone who is, you might want to check it out, and to our French readers who have made the book so popular, thanks so much! Like all our readers, we are blessed to have you!

Christy and her husband came over the mountain last week and spent several days so Christy and I could visit various libraries in the area. That’s the beautiful Burnsville library in the picture. It had been a while since we’d done this and we were thrilled to find most of the libraries already had copies of our books, including Through the Brown Mountain Lights, the first book in our Brown Mountain Lights series. We were even more thrilled to find out they had ordered them after receiving several requests from their patrons to stock the books.

We also visited several stores and were pleased with the interest they showed in displaying and selling our books. Not just bookstores but hardware stores, general stores, and stores that cater to area tourists.

We’re happy to say, we are now available in lots of area libraries and various stores around western North Carolina. We’re putting together a list for our website where the books are available and will post that in the near future.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Aunt Bessie’s cabin on Stone Mountain. It now belongs to David Gilliam (relative of the Possum Gilliam we write about in the Appalachian Journey series). He and Becky Bussert, owner of Smith’s Old Country Store in Black Mountain (who also sells our books) had arranged a get-together for us with several people or relatives of people Daddy knew while he lived with Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch. It was incredible to finally put a face with the stories we grew up hearing and to hear more stories and see the house where we visited our great aunt when we were children. David’s brother Jake, who built the cabin and is now deceased, kept in mind the old house and it looks very much as it did when we were kids. David now rents it as a vacation rental cabin and, according to the guest log, it’s very popular. We wondered if anyone ever hears the slave ghosts Bessie heard but forgot to ask David.

In the picture: Becky Bussert, Janice Means, David Gilliam, Joyce and Lawrence Elliot (Uncle Fletch was his uncle). Lawrence’s sister, Lois, was also there but had to leave early.

Why, you may ask, are you running around western North Carolina instead of writing? Well, that would be because we finished writing the second book in our Brown Mountain Lights series and decided to take a little break before we dive into the hard part, editing, editing, editing and polishing until we have the final draft ready to publish. We’ll announce its release here and on our CC Tillery Facebook page, so stay tuned!

That’s it for now. Have a fabulous weekend, everybody!

 

This past Saturday, September 30th, we participated in the Art on the Island Arts Festival on Blannahassett Island in beautiful Marshall, NC. This is the only town I am aware of that has an island in the middle of its downtown area, and it is just gorgeous. The weather couldn’t have been better with sunny skies and mild marshall3temperatures. And talk about ambience! Fantastic live music (was that Santana I heard?), great food from the Sweet Monkey Cafe, artisans selling their wares, and even a blacksmith in the midst demonstrating his art. And dogs, my favorite animal, galore. I tried to get a picture of Cyndi at our booth but she ducked just before I clicked. If you look closely, you can see her trying to hide behind the mum. Gotcha, Gik!

Although this is the smallest festival we’ve attended yet, we were thrilled to break another record while meeting new and past readers. Georgeann at Penland Department Store in Marshall told us she had sold out of all books but one in the Appalachian Journey series so placed an order for more books as well as book 1 of the Brown Mountain Lights series. We were marshall5asked to do an interview on a live radio show around Halloween and are really looking forward to that. And met a couple who lived on Brown Mountain and were more than willing to share their fascinating recollections of seeing the Brown Mountain lights on “many” occasions. Both admitted to now being firm believers that there is something mysterious and unexplained about these lights.marshall1

Next up: the Mars Hill Heritage Festival in Mars Hill, North Carolina. They’ve placed us close to the bookstore, which is exactly where we wanted to be. This is a really fun festival in this marshall2small college town, with close to a hundred booths including diverse and talented artisans and vendors, live music, activities for children, and food and drink. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll drop by and say hello. So far, it looks like the weather will be perfect and what better way to spend your day than participating in a fall festival in the mountains of North Carolina?

 

 

Friday and Saturday, September 8th and 9th, we participated in the Historic Morganton Festival in beautiful Morganton, North Carolina. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, with gorgeous cerulean skies dotted with puffy white clouds and highs in the 70s. Or for a mfbetter site, being placed on the lawn of the historic Old Courthouse, which is where William Waightstill Avery shot his nemesis Samuel Fleming, and which we write about in our book Through the Brown Mountain Lights.

This is the largest festival we’ve yet attended with close to 1000 vendors and I would estimate fifty thousand or more attendees. Somf2 many, the streets were packed throughout the festival. During the day, the crowd was entertained with live music (at one point, I wondered if Tina Turner was actually there!) with live concerts each evening. We loved it when a bluegrass band set up next to our booth and played during the afternoon.

We were pleased when several of those who bought books commented they had read about us in the paper and wanted to come meet us. And even more thrilled when Ed Phillips, Director of Tourism at the Burke County Tourism Development Authority, stopped by to chat and ask if he could add our book to an exhibit he’s putting together about the Brown Mountain lights.  Ed is mf3known for the symposiums he holds on this subject and we’re looking forward to visiting Morganton when he unveils the exhibit around Halloween. We had fun chatting with readers, always asking if they had seen the Brown Mountain lights. More than a few actually had and it was fascinating listening to their stories and descriptions about the lights, which only made them more mf7mysterious to us the more stories we heard.

Our cousins Mary Paris Merriken and Melinda Paris stopped by. We’re related to them through Lucinda Henderson, Bessie’s mother. I knew we were descendants of Clan Henderson through Lucinda, but Melinda and Mary told us we are descended from several other clans in Scotland, one of which is the Balfour clan. Didn’t Diana Gabaldon write about a Balfour in her Outlander series? Whether she did or not, it’s great knowing we can definitely claim Scottish heritage. Mary has done extensive research on Bessie’s cousin Frank Henderson, the first man to die in the electric chair in North Carolina (skeletons in closets, right?), and is planning a book which we look forward to reading.

All in all, we had a fantastic day with the added bonus of breaking our sales record. We’ve been so blessed with these festivals and library and book club presentations and signings this year, and appreciate more than we can ever express our fabulous readers, who are always so inspiring and mf5encouraging. Y’all are absolutely the best!

Up  next: Art on the Island in Marshall, NC on September 30th, and the Mars Hill Heritage Festival on October 7th.

We’re giving away audiobook downloads of our latest book, Through the Brown Mountain Lights. Interested? Email Christy at ctfrench252@aol.com for the code and instructions for downloading. We don’t have many left, so first come, first served!

We’re sure you’ll enjoy the voice of our producer/narrator Reagan Boggs. She’s also a singer and songwriter and is the perfect voice for Lizzie and the other characters.

We hope our fabulous readers are enjoying a fun-filled summer. We’re hard at work on the next book in our Brown Mountain Lights series and looking forward to its release this fall.

 

We had the best time at the Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs this past weekend! Nice weather–look at that beautiful sky!–live bluegrass music, lots of readers, some known and some new. This is a special festival for us because it’s the first one we ever attended, instilling in us a love for these events. This past Saturday was the fourth time we’ve participated and although you might think attending the same festival in a town as small as Hot Springs year after year would get old, all we can say is it doesn’t. Every time we go, we come away surprised, inspired and happy.

We started off the day selling our first books before the festival even started then moved on to have a record number of sales before lunch. This was a complete surprise for us as usually this festival is slow in the mornings and we make the majority of our sales during the afternoon. But this time, we broke our top sales record before noon.

Things slowed down a bit after lunch but the readers kept coming and by the end of the day we’d sold completely out of Whistling Woman and Through the Brown Mountain Lights! I won’t say it’s getting old in the case of Whistling Woman, since we’ve sold out of it at other festivals we’ve attended, but when we realized we’d sold out of Through the Brown Mountain Lights … well, I’ll just say there were multiple happy dances going on, in our heads, of course. And by the end of the day, despite the fact we couldn’t get our Square to connect so we could accept credit cards, we’d not only broken our all-time sales record, we shattered it. More happy dances!

But as always, the best part of the day was seeing our readers, both the ones we’d already met and the new ones, talking to them about the Appalachian Journey series and introducing them to the new series. We can’t even begin to tell you how much the favorable response inspires us to continue writing. We’ll definitely be keeping that feeling close as we finish the next book in the Brown Mountain Lights series.

This year, while there were fewer vendors at the festival, there was a much larger crowd. We saw some family members we’d met before and also met some new ones (a huge thank you to our ever supportive reader and cousin many times removed, Mary Paris Merriken) which we always enjoy. We had people who came specifically to the festival to see us and get books signed and people who came to buy print books even though they had already purchased the series on Kindle.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and though we enjoyed the new sales record and the sellouts, we have to say, the best part was the reunions with known readers and family members and meeting new ones. And once again, we have to say it, we are so blessed to have all of you in our corner!

Oops, I almost forgot, be sure to watch our CC Tillery Facebook page this week. We’ll be announcing a give-away!

We’re continuing on with festival season and this past Saturday, June 3rd, we participated in the Gold Festival in Old Fort, NC. It was a beautiful day with temps in the low 80s and a nice breeze, comfortable enough that we didn’t have to resort to the improvised “air conditioner”. Although this is a relatively small festival, the turnout was fantastic and we had a fun day chatting with artisans, meeting readers, selling and signing copies of our books, and listening to live music while watching people pan for gold in the mountain stream that runs behind the Gateway Museum.

We always love feedback from our readers and a highpoint of our day was when a reader who bought the Appalachian Journey books at the Donut Festival in Marion a couple of weeks ago stopped by to tell us this series has become her favorite, that they made her laugh and cry and touched on all emotions, and she wished she could find more books as well written as ours.  Another highpoint was when Becky Bussert, co-owner of Smith’s Old Country Store in Black Mountain (the very store we always walked to when we visited our grandmother) came by to talk about placing our books in her store and showed her fabulous retail skills when she pitched the books to passersby.

And I guess all our faithful readers know what’s coming next … I know we say it a lot but it’s so true, we have the most awesome and inspiring readers!

Since the area is so beautiful, we wanted to take pictures to share with our readers. The first one below was taken on the drive to Black Mountain/Old Fort. It’s easy to see why they’re called the Black Mountains and look at that gorgeous sky. Next shows a group of people at the stream panning for gold. The third is one of the bands, which was awesome – the singer’s voice reminded me of  Stevie Ray Vaughn. And the last is of some women line dancing to Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama”.  Never have I connected Bob Dylan to line dancing but, dang, they were good.

Next up: Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, this Saturday, June 10th. Hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area! Oh, and we’ll have free audiobooks to give away so look for the announcement on our CC Tillery Facebook page!

 

We had a great time at the 2nd Annual Carolina Donut Festival this past Saturday, May 20th, in Marion, NC, hosted by Mr. Bob’s Donuts. (If you haven’t tried their donuts, you really should – absolutely the best we’ve ever tasted.) Marion’s beautiful downtown Main Street was lined with vendor booths and thousands of attendees throughout the day. Although the temperature got hot as the day went on (upper 80s), we were blessed with a cool mountain breeze and a portable air conditioner built by Christy’s husband Steve out of a cooler and batteries. As always, we had fun meeting and visiting with readers but an added bonus was receiving invitations from three different organizations to do future presentations.

So far, we’ve met quite a few people who have seen the Brown Mountain lights, two of whom said the ones they saw were amber in color, and one man, a historian, telling us they were different colors. We really love the mystery surrounding these lights and are fascinated hearing these stories, and hope to hear more as we go along, especially when we get to the Morganton Historical Festival this fall.

A bit of history about Marion:  It was founded in 1844 and named in honor of Brigadier General Francis Marion, an American Revolutionary War hero whose flare for guerrilla warfare earned him the nickname “Swamp Fox”.  It’s motto is “Where Main Street meets the mountains” and that couldn’t be more apt. It’s a gorgeous town, surrounded by green mountains and blue sky.

donutfestival7Next up: The Gold Festival in Old Fort, NC, on Saturday, June 3rd. Come join us for what promises to be a fun event. They’re even going to be panning for gold in the mountain stream behind the Gateway Museum!  panning for gold

We’ll be participating in the 2nd Annual Carolina Donut Festival in beautiful Marion, NC on Saturday, May 20th, from 10:00 – 4:00. The festival will also feature a 5K Dash, Carolina Donut Festival Car Raffle, Donut Pageant and a donut eating contest. There will be booths filled with artisans and specialty donut makers, so if you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by for what promises to be a fun event and some amazing donuts!

donutfestival.2017

Christy and I were invited to give a presentation at the beautiful Old Fort Library yesterday and we had such a good time. It’s getting so we enjoy these short events more than the festivals. They don’t take up a whole day and we get to know our readers more since it is a smaller crowd and we can spend one on one–or should I say two on one? — time with them.

Yesterday was especially fun for us because almost everyone who was there either knew Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch, and in some cases, Daddy, too, or they had relatives that knew them. And the best part, they knew most of characters we wrote about in the books and kindly shared some stories about them with us. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a very long time. The hour and a half we spent with them was like going to a family reunion or homecoming.

So, a word of thanks to Ashley Salazar for inviting us to speak. She did a fantastic job with the set up. And thanks to all the ladies that came out to meet us: Becky Bussert, Janice Means, Mary Lee Lytle, Kiesa Kay, and Karen Nilsen, just to name a few. I would love to relay the stories they told us … but who knows, maybe we’ll end up writing them instead. But first, we need to finish the second Brown Mountain Lights book!

 

 

 

Through the Brown Mountain Lightss

Brown Mountain Lights Book 1

Wise Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 4

Beloved Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 3

Moonfixer

Appalachian Journey Book 2

Whistling Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 1

Madchen, die pfeifen

Whistling Woman (German)

Les deces arrivant toujours par trois

Whistling Woman (French)

Christy Tillery French Cynthia Tillery Hodges