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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!

 

 

 

We participated in our first spring festival, Greening Up the Mountains, this past Saturday, April 22nd, in the beautiful town of Sylva, NC. We couldn’t have asked for a better festival than this to kick off our spring-fall rounds of attending festivals and meeting old and new readers. It took place in downtown Sylva, with live music, over 200 arts-and-crafts and food vendors, and thousand of attendees, many of whom had dogs in tow.  The picture to the left is of Railroad Avenue lined with vendor booths. Note the steeple in the background, which is now the library but was once the courthouse.

Jackie Burgin Painter, our first cousin once removed (I believe that’s the right terminology – she’s our dad’s first cousin) lives in Sylva. Jackie’s an outstanding historian whose books we used extensively in our Appalachian Journey series. We hoped to spend time with her but due to illness, Jackie couldn’t meet us. But there’s always next year because this is an event we do not want to miss and plan to attend in 2018.

I was curious how the town ended up with such a pretty name so did some research and it all goes back to William D. Sylva, a Danish wanderer who ended up in the small town of Webster, NC (named for Daniel Webster as a concession to the Whig element of the county) one blustery January evening in 1879. Frozen and starving, Sylva knocked on the door of Judge Riley D. Cannon’s house, where he was greeted by General E. R. Hampton, son-in-law of the judge. Judge Cannon welcomed Sylva inside for food and lodging for the night and liked him so well he invited the wayfarer to stay and work for him at his sawmill until he decided where he wanted to settle down. Eventually, General Hampton decided to build a town near Scott’s Creek where he also had a sawmill. When he asked his daughter, Mae, what they should name the post office, she immediately said, “Sylva”, because Sylva was the nicest person she had ever known. Although Sylva suggested they name the town something else, everyone seemed to be in agreement Mae had found the perfect name for the town. I think it fits.

 

 

 

One of the perks that go along with Wise Woman winning the Feathered Quill Gold Award for best historical fiction is they gave us a free ad on their home page. This is the ad we sent them:

They notified us this morning that it was live on their home page and that it’s linked to the book’s Amazon page. We’re so excited about the award and we’re so grateful to Feathered Quill. If you click on the picture of the ad above, it will take you to the Feathered Quill homepage where you can see the ad and (if I did this right) if you click on the ad on their page it will take you to Wise Woman’s Amazon page. Pretty cool, huh?

That’s the headline of the wonderful article Fred McCormick wrote about CC Tillery. We are so grateful to him for his interest in our books and for taking the time to write about them and us. If you’d like to read his article in the Black Mountain News all you have to do is click on Appalachian Journey ends, new series begins and it’ll take you right to it.

Thanks so much Fred! And also we need to give a huge shout out to Sue Miller (she and her husband, Greg, live in our grandmother’s house) for putting us in touch with Fred!

 

…. to announce that both Whistling Woman and Wise Woman are now award-winning books! Yay!

wwshelf-unboundWhistling Woman was named runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound  Best Indie Book Competition.

 

 

 

wisegoldAnd Wise Woman won the Gold/1st Place award in the 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Best Historical category.

 

 

 

Don’t those pretty gold stickers look good? And of course, we have to give a huge shout out to our awesome readers! If it wasn’t for you and your constant support and encouragement there wouldn’t have been a second book, much less a whole series. We are so blessed to have y’all!

 

 

 

heritage-festival-8We’re be selling and signing our books at the Mars Hill Heritage Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 1. We’ve been to this festival one other time, in 2014, and while we enjoyed it, it was a cold, rainy, windy day. Tomorrow promises to be a lot nicer, with temps in the low 70s and sunshine. Ah, fall in the mountains. You have to love it! We will be at Booth 87 on South Main Street (right in front of the book store) from 10 until 4. If you’re in the area, come on by. We’d love to see you!

 

art-on-the-island-web-banner-2016-900x416

We’ll be at Art on the Island on Blannahassett Island in Marshall, NC, this Saturday, September 24th. This is our fourth time attending and we love it every time. Beautiful setting, local arts and crafts, great music, delicious food, and our favorite, meeting and/or seeing our awesome readers! Not sure what the booth number is yet but since the forecast is for partly sunny and very warm we’re hoping for one near where we’ve been for the last 3 years–on the banks of the river and under the trees! If you’re going to be in the area, we’d love to see you!

After Christy found the picture of Aunt Bessie as a young girl with her family, we started thinking about all the pictures our dad has given us of her at different points in her life. Some of them are already posted here on the blog on the “Meet the Characters” page but there are so many more, especially of her in her later years. And yes, I know, I really do need to get back to adding the other pictures to that page, but with working on the first book in our Brown Mountain Lights series, I just can’t seem to find the time.

So, because we’re sure our wonderful readers would love to see them, we decided to do a blog post with all the pictures we have. A sort of walk through Aunt Bessie’s life.

Mama, Papa, & BessieThis is the earliest picture we have of Bessie which shows her as a chubby-cheeked baby sitting on Mama’s lap with Papa beside them. Even looking at the picture through a magnifying glass, I can’t make out what’s on Papa’s lap but it appears to be material of some kind. You can see his boots below it but the rest just isn’t clear. This picture appears on the new front cover for Whistling Woman, the first book of our Appalachian Journey series, propped up against the painting of Miss Cordy by our dad.

bessie and familyNext, of course, is the picture Christy shared with you in the last post which shows Bessie as a young girl, probably between 6 to  8 years old. Of course, I’m only guessing at her age and the fact that we know the family moved to Hot Springs in 1886 when she was 4 years old.

BessieFletch300The next picture we have is of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletcher on their wedding day or shortly thereafter. The note on the back says “Uncle Fletch and Aunt Bessie when they first married”. We know from the Madison County Marriage records that she and Fletch were married in Madison County on February 20, 1902 at age 21 and 22, respectively.  This one appears on both the old and new front covers of Moonfixer, the second book of the series.

05-27-2013 05;53;11PMAfter that, we have the postcard she sent to Papa after he and the rest of the family moved from Hot Springs to Knoxville. There’s no date on what’s written on the back and the postmark is faded but it looks to be 1914 when she would have been 33 years old. This one appears (partially) on the front of Beloved Woman, the third book.

Then, there are several of her with some of her students and one with some womenBessieandfriends friends and relatives. Not sure of the date on any of them so we have no way of knowing how old she was but I’m guessing most of them were taken when she was in her 20s and 30s. Left to right on this one is Aunt Bessie (with her head cut off), Lee Davis, Clarse Davis, Cordie Davis and Aunt Minnie Elliot (sitting down). The pictures of her with her students are on the “Meet the Characters” page here on the blog.

Aunt Bessie and DaddyThe next one is my favorite of all the pictures we have, the one used on the front cover of the final book, Wise Woman. It’s a picture of Aunt Bessie and our dad standing in a field of wildflowers with the family dog, Fritz (you have to look really hard to see him!) off to the right. This one isn’t dated either but it had to be shortly after Daddy moved in with Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch in 1934 which would make Bessie around 43.

Bessie and Fletch outside their houseThen we have one of her and Uncle Fletch standing outside their house by the chimney. Not sure how old they are with this one either or when the pciture was taken but they’re bolth pretty old. I’m guessing it was taken shortly before Uncle Fletch’s death in 1958 which would make both of them in their 70s. You can see Aunt Bessie has a scarf around her neck which she took to wearing in her later years because she had a goiter.

Bessie,Daddy,MamaDaniels,JimmyDavisThis picture is of a much older Aunt Bessie with Daddy, Uncle Thee’s wife, Myrtle (who we called Mama Daniels), and Bessie’s second husband, Jimmy Davis. Not sure when this was taken either, but judging by Daddy, it was sometime in the early to mid-60s. I’m not sure but I think they’re sitting on the steps of our grandmother’s (Jack in the books) house on Stone Mountain. Notice Bessie’s scarf wrapped around her neck. I don’t remember a time when she didn’t wear one!

BessieSquareLast but not least, thanks to Kimberly Maxwell, our awesome cover designer, a close up of Aunt Bessie cropped from the same picture. Since she died in 1970, she had to be in her 80s in this one. She may not look too happy here but this is the Aunt Bessie of my memories and I know from Daddy’s many stories she had a long and happy life and she was, to me, the epitome of a Whistling Woman.

So there you have it, a picture journey through our Aunt Bessie’s life. I hope you enjoyed the trip!

 

Just a quick post to let everyone know we’ll be selling and signing books in the Appalachian Journey series at Old Fort Pioneer Day this Saturday, April 23rd from 10:00-5:00. Looks like a fun day in the mountains with beautiful weather predicted. This festival offers something for everyone: bluegrass music, crafts demonstrations, Civil War reenactors, antique cars and equipment. For the kids, there will be storytelling, games, animals, wagon rides and more. Not to mention a variety of food! For more info, check out this article in The News-Herald.

If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by and visit. We would love to personally thank our fabulous readers who have taken this series far beyond what we ever expected and who continue to keep these books on bestseller lists.

 

 

 

 

We spent last weekend in beautiful Morganton, North Carolina researching the new series–and enjoying some really awesome scenery, including Brown Mountain, Table Rock, and lots of historical buildings in downtown Morganton. It’s an amazing place and we met some very helpful and informative people who helped us get a feel for life in the town and around Brown Mountain in the 1850s which is where and when the first book of our next series takes place.

This one is going to be a little different from the Appalachian Journey series … it’s still historical fiction with a touch of romance–well, maybe more than a touch, we haven’t exactly figured that out yet!–with a bit of paranormal thrown in. We’ve been trying to decide what genre it will fall under but haven’t had any luck yet. Historical Paranormal Fiction? Paranormal Historical Romance? Whatever, think Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series only in 19th century Appalachia.

MorgantonWelcomeCenterAnyway, back to our research trip. We’ll start with the town of Morganton, First up, we visited the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center and met Ed Phillips, the town’s Director of Tourism. Ed was very welcoming and helpful (the same can be said for all the people we met). He’s directed several symposiums on the Brown Mountain Lights and knows quite a bit about them, the legends behind what causes them, and the general area (most of which we’re keeping under our hats for now since we don’t want any spoilers to get out about the series).

MorgantonPublicLibraryEd also directed us to the historical Morganton Courthouse, a gorgeous building, and told us to see Joan Malloch, the President of the Board of the Morganton Historic Foundation. Joan walked us through the building and shared numerous stories about its history and some of the notable trials that took place there. She also told us about the Charles McDowell, Jr. House which still stands on the grounds of the Quaker Meadows Plantation–no pictures of that. That’s the courthouse to the left. Isn’t it gorgeous? Wish we had gotten a picture of the winding staircases on both sides.

 

MorgntonHistoryMuseumAfter we left the courthouse, we went to the Morganton Historic Museum and talked with the people there and then the Burke County Public Library’s North Carolina RoomOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA where we met Dottie Ervin who was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the town. She spent a long time pulling files for us to look at and told us about Demon’s Hill where they used to hang people. The library and the grounds surrounding it are … I’m running out of words …beautiful, gorgeous, stunning … how about breathtaking?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd finally, after all that, we drove up to the overlook to see Brown Mountain. That’sOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA it on the left, on the right of the “V” in the mountains. It was right at sunset, so we didn’t get to see any lights, and truthfully, we weren’t sure we wanted to see them after hearing the legends. (Some people believe whenever the lights are seen, people disappear. Yikes! Don’t want that –we have a book to write!) The picture on the right is of Table Rock. Sorry it’s not very clear! We were in a moving car when we took it!

And that about sums up our weekend in Morganton, except to say we spent a lot of time talking about the book, we know our protagonist’s name and the names of the sisters who find her on Brown Mountain and take her in, and we have the time, setting and a tentative outline for the first book. And we also have an opening we both love, so now, all we have to do is start writing. Fingers crossed it goes as well as our trip to see the setting.

For those fans of our Appalachian Journey series, we’ll continue with our readers’ favorite themes, herbal medicine (as well as other forms of medicine practiced at that time), Native American legends and culture, and stories about the Appalachian mountaineers along with historical events of the time. Stay tuned for updates!

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