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We’ve started the research on Moonfixer, the second book in the Appalachian Journey series and once again I find myself obsessed with graves. Whereas, with Whistling Woman, we looked–unsuccessfully–for Lucinda’s (Mama in the book) headstone at Sandy Gap Cemetery, this time we’re meeting with more success than I ever dreamed. Of course, it helps that this time we knew where to look. We’d even been there in the past and were present at several of the funerals that took place in the latter half of the 20th century. With Lucinda, all we had to go on was a general vicinity and a landscape that had changed drastically since our day last visited it.

William fletcher & bessie daniels elliott

Fletcher & Bessie Elliott’s tombstone – picture by Ronald Halford

This time, all it took was a Google search for Stone Mountain Missionary Baptist Church. Don’t you just love the Internet? The Google search took me to the Majdan Family History homepage which features a Google Earth shot of the church in question and according to the list of ancestors, we may be related in some way to the Majdan family. Probably only distant cousins but there are a couple of “Elliotts” listed on their page. So, I took a chance and clicked on the Elliotts and lo and behold, that takes you to the Find A Grave site where I found a wealth of information, including pictures of Aunt Bessie’s and Uncle Fletch’s tombstones at Stone Mountain Cemetery–and a lovely picture of the church itself.Clicking through the list of Elliotts buried in Stone Mountain  cemetery, I came across a great (?) aunt, Fletcher’s older brother’s youngest daughter, Lura Elliott Brown, who just recently passed away. So recent in fact (May of this year) that if we’d started earlier on the research, we might’ve been able to meet her. Now, my mission is to hopefully find one of her children and when we finally make it over to the Black Mountain/Old Fort area to do some of the physical research, maybe meet with them.

Oh, and I also sent an email to the Majdan Family History site explaining who we are and asking if it would be possible to meet with them when we’re there in the spring. We’ll see what happens with that!

So, I’m a virtual gravedigger once more–happily digging in cyber-dirt and loving every minute of it!

 

 

the world hasn’t ended which means I need to finish my Christmas shopping! Not that I thought it really would end but still, you never know, do you? And the day isn’t over yet so I think I’ll wait till tomorrow.

Anyway, with all the dire predictons about the end of the world, I spent the last couple of days doing something I enjoyed instead of cleaning house or shopping for Christmas presents: I’ve been researching and believe me, that is something I never thought I’d hear myself say…er, see myself type. I used to hate research so much that I avoided it if at all possible. I mean to the point that it impacted the type of books I wrote. Why write historical with all that nasty research when you can write paranormal and make all that stuff up?

John Warren Daniels

John Warren Daniels

But that changed when Christy and I started doing the research on Whistling Woman. I’m pretty sure it’s because we were researching people who we knew or people who, like that butterfly in the rain forest, may’ve only gently flapped their wing and it sent a ripple through our lives by way of our ancestors. People like our great-grandfather, John Warren Daniels, one of the main characters in Whistling Woman. Isn’t he a handsome devil? Whistling Woman was a four year labor of love and most of those four years were given over to research. We knew we had to get the background and historical facts right and so we buckled down with our computers or traveled to Hot Springs, Marshall, and various other points in Madison County and talked to a lot of people who were all very helpful.And now, we’re getting ready to do it all over again with Moonfixer, the second book in the Appalachian Journey series. Only this time, we’ll be traveling to the Broad River section of North Carolina and though we’ll still be walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, we’ll also be walking in places we’ve been before; Black Mountain, Old Fort, Stone Mountain, the graveyard at Stone Mountain Missionary Baptist Church (click the link for a wonderful picture of the church from the Majdan Family History page) where many of our characters are buried.

Strangely enough, I find myself looking forward to it–which is how I ended up spending what could’ve been the last two days of my life doing research. Who would’ve ever thought I’d enjoy every minute of it?

Christy and I just spent three wonderful days in Hot Springs doing the final edits on Whistling Woman. We stayed at a lovely little cabin right on the Appalachian Trail and a short five-minute walk from town. Surrounded by trees, we read the manuscript out loud, made changes–there weren’t that many!–and enjoyed imagining Aunt Bessie walking down Bridge Street when she was a young woman. She was twenty-one when she moved with her new husband Fletcher Elliott to Old Fort where they lived with his parents until they’d saved enough money to purchase some land of their own. But that’s another story, or as Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story!”

A few more pictures to give you a feel for the place!

   

   

 

Hmm…I guess I should’ve added captions. Going from the top row, left to right, that’s the cabin from the road, the front porch where we worked on the first half of the book, the dining room where we moved when the weather got cold the next day to do the second half of the book, the living room, the kitchen, and the little sun room.

The cabin was perfect and we both hope to go back when we start promoting the book. And, of course, the town of Hot Springs, as always, made us both feel as if we were walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. Not just Aunt Bessie, but Papa, Mama, Roy, Loney, Green, Thee, and Frances Ann, or Jack as my great-grandfather called her. They were all there back in the 1890’s and early 1900’s when the book takes place and every time we visit, it’s almost as if they’re standing there welcoming us home with open arms, especially Papa and Bessie.

Chasing the Brown Mountain Lights

Into the Brown Mountain Lights

Seeking the Brown Mountain Lights

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