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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!

 

 

 

IMG_0629We had a wonderful day at the Old Fort Pioneer Day last Saturday. Beautiful weather although it was a bit cool to start and at times the wind was a little gusty, but overall, a gorgeous day to be outside. We met lots of new readers and a few who were already familiar with our books. Plus, we met two family members, Mary Paris Merriken and Melinda Paris, distant cousins through Aunt Bessie’s mother, Lucinda Henderson. Christy put up a picture of us all on the CC Tillery Facebook page.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Patti Holda, Genealogy Assistant at the McDowell County Public Library who told us she’d had several people come in and request our books so she ordered IMG_0626them for the library. McDowell County Public Library also participates in an Interlibrary Loans program which makes the books available not only in McDowell County but in 65 other libraries in North Carolina.

Added to that, we had people stop by our booth and ask us if we would be interested in attending two other festivals. We were also invited to meet with two production companies about our series in the near future, which is exciting! We’ll keep you posted on events as they unfold. All in all, it was a very good day for us and our books.

IMG_0627We enjoyed some great music, including a man in a kilt walking around playing the bagpipes, and one storyteller who entertained us with stories about the history of Old Fort. We loved hearing him tell about the great flood of 1916 which we wrote about in Moonfixer

The festival offered many interesting demonstrations of everyday life during the Civil War era. Everything from basket weaving to quilting to grinding corn into corn meal like they used to do it. So glad I can go to the grocery store and buy corn meal whenever I want cornbread! And lots of people were there dressed in period dress. All of that was great since we will be writing about that time in our new series, the Brown Mountain Lights Series.

In between the re-enactments of the Civil War battles, there were a lot of soldiers walking around carryingIMG_0627 muskets. Several times during the day, the re-enactors performed a 21-gun salute using their muskets, which was as loud or louder than the cannon, pictured to the right, and which always managed to catch us by surprise. After the second time, we learned there would be two more volleys following the first which allowed us to brace ourselves. That first volley got us every single time though!

FullSizeRenderThe best part for us was that we had time in between all this to discuss the new series and brainstorm on the characters, the setting, the conflict for the first book, and the paranormal aspects and how they’re going to work.

We’re excited about the first book in this new series, and after Saturday, it’s beginning to take shape in our minds. We’ve already written the first two chapters (only a rough draft, they still need a lot of work!) and are looking forward to bringing it to you, our amazing readers, as soon as we possibly can. Stay tuned!

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.

 

 

 

 

Andrews Geyser

Andrews Geyser

Christy and I took a mini-Appalachian Journey of our own Wednesday. We spent the day in Old Fort and after we visited the Gateway Museum and the Andrews Geyser (which was repaired and working this time!) we headed up Stone Mountain to visit Stone Mountain Baptist Church with the graveyard where Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch and many of the other characters who populate the Appalachian Journey series are buried.

Since our husbands were with us to handle the driving, we were able to take a few detours and get some pictures of our old stomping grounds!

Aunt Bessie’s and Uncle Fletcher’s house, May 2015

First, we took the cutoff to Aunt Bessie’s and Uncle Fletcher’s old house. The road is still mostly gravel but the house has been completely remodeled and it’s very hard to recognize unless you know what you’re looking for. There have been so many changes and, of course, it doesn’t help that Christy and I are looking at it through the eyes of childhood memories–I swear this parcel of land was flatter back then! The bridge over the creek in the front is no longer there, the barn has been torn down, and it has a new front porch and new dark siding.

Aunt Bessie and Uncle FletchThis is what the house looked like shortly before Uncle Fletcher died in 1958. I’m not sure exactly when this picture was taken but that’s Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch standing in front of the chimney and that’s how I remember Aunt Bessie so I think I’m safe in saying this was taken sometime in the early 1950s. Even taking into account the trees and foliage, which has grown substantially, the house just appears smaller and more compact in this picture, but maybe that’s just me.

After that, we went on to our grandmother’s house which actually looks bigger since it’s been remodeled and had several rooms added on. Sorry, we forgot to take a picture because the people who bought it, Greg Miller and his wife (I think her name is Sue) were at home and we stopped to talk to them and ask about Camp Elliott. Greg was very helpful and actually took us up to the camp and gave us a tour.

Camp Elliott Lake

Camp Elliott Lake

We hadn’t been to Camp Elliott since our childhood and wow, has it changed. It sits on the site of the old Elliott homestead where Fletcher grew up and the old Elliott graveyard sits. Since it was donated to the boy scouts for a camp long before we were born, we only visited once in our childhood. All we really remember is the lake and a very primitive camping ground. Most recently the camp has been used as a school for boys with behavior problems. They added lots of cabins and a bathhouse plus a kitchen/dining hall, a small community center, and a beautiful chapel.

Stone Mountain Baptist Church and the graveyard haven’t changed much since we last visited. It’s still a lovely little mountain church and though the graveyard has almost doubled in size since we were children, it remains a peaceful and lovely resting place for those residing there.

Camp Elliott Chapel

Camp Elliott Chapel

So, there you have it, another day of walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. It was a wonderful day and driving home we even found a route that’s much shorter and many times more beautiful to get there and back which I hope means more visits in the future!

I’ll leave you with a picture of the Camp Elliott Chapel. Isn’t it beautiful?

 

 

IMG_5169-Mf1-500

To all our readers who have been waiting so patiently for the next book in our Appalachian Journey series…

Moonfixer just went live on Kindle! Yay! For the time being, it will only be available on Kindle but the print edition is in the works as is the audio edition. It will also be available on Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc., in a couple of months–or sooner depending on when we get the formatting worked out. We’ll post here when each version goes live so stay tuned!

We want to thank each and everyone of you for your patience and for making 2013 such a joyful and memorable year for us! We wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a safe and healthy 2014!

I’m going to start this post with an apology to all of you who have commented on one or another blog post…and been soundly ignored. It isn’t that Christy and I don’t appreciate your comments, it’s just that we…okay, more me than Christy, had every intention of responding to your comments but my brain kept shoving them aside and leading me in other directions. Research, writing, promoting, doing interviews for the Dames of Dialogue blog, formatting a book for a friend to put on Kindle, and countless other things have all gotten in the way of my good intentions where this blog is concerned. And yes, I know my priorities are wrong, wrong, wrong!

So, I apologize. I really didn’t mean to ignore you but I did and I’ll do my best not to let it happen again!

nomineecircleOkay, now for the news part of this post: Whistling Woman has been nominated for a Best of the Independent E-book Award in two categories; Best Literary Fiction and Best General Fiction (Mainstream Fiction). We don’t have a clue who nominated us, and I guess it really doesn’t matter, but we are thrilled that someone (or two someones) read Whistling Woman and liked it enough to nominate it for an award.

So, a big thank you to whoever nominated us and an even bigger thank you to all the readers who’ve taken the time to let us know how you liked the book on Amazon, on this blog, on our personal websites, or by sending us an email at cctillery@yahoo.com!

I know many authors have said it before and at the risk of repeating every one of them, Christy and I are grateful to all of you. Seriously, we’d love to meet each and every one of you and maybe take you out to dinner or lunch at our favorite little diner in Hot Springs, or at the very least give you a big hug. Since we can’t do that we’ll have to settle for saying again, thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU TO THE BEST READERS IN THE WORLD! We appreciate your lovely comments and more than that, your support and interest in Aunt Bessie’s story. I’m sure she and Uncle Fletch are smiling down from heaven on all of you.

???????????????????????????????And last but not least, Christy and I will be in Hot Springs on June 15th for the Bluff Mountain Festival. If any of you are in the area, we’d love to meet you–and maybe we’ll have time for dinner at the Smoky Mountain Diner! We’ll at least treat you to a glass of their outstanding iced tea. Also, we’re making plans to go to Old Fort/Black Mountain at the end of this month or early next month to do the fun part of the research for Moonfixer which, of course, means a visit to Aunt Bessie’s and Uncle Fletch’s graves and the site where their house once stood. It will be a homecoming of sorts for us since we spent quite a bit of time there as children but we haven’t been back in years. I’m sure the childhood memories will be flowing…just looking at one of Daddy’s paintings of her house is enough to bring them back for me!

you. 

historymcdowellcountyIt’s no secret I have a love/hate relationship with research. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on the hate end but yesterday, I opened up a book, History of McDowell County by Mildred B. Fossett, I checked out of the library almost two weeks ago. I started flipping through it without much interest…until I found a chapter about schools in McDowell County and at the end there was a list: Former Teachers of McDowell County. Guess who was on that list. Yep, that’s right, Bessie Elliott. It didn’t give any more information like when she taught or what school she taught at, but she was there and it was enough to spark our interest again.

This next bit needs a bit of backstory; from the very first when Christy and I came up with the idea of writing Whistling Woman, we’ve been convinced that Aunt Bessie was sitting at our side guiding our hands as we typed. It’s as if she wanted, and sometimes demanded, her story be told. So we told it, the first part of it anyway, and mostly, we enjoyed every single minute of it. And we knew, we knew, the whole time we were writing it that it was right. We could almost see Aunt Bessie’s smile. But after we finished Whistling Woman and moved on to Moonfixer, the next book in the series, it was as if Aunt Bessie deserted us and writing her life story became more of a chore than a pleasure.

In fact, up until yesterday, I likened writing Moonfixer to trying to shave my legs with only a pair of tweezers…a long, arduous, painful, and almost impossible task. But now…ah, now, Aunt Bessie is back and I can’t wait to see where she leads us this time. Of course, we pretty much know the story and even had the book almost finished, right down to the last line, but it just wasn’t working somehow. It didn’t feel right, didn’t feel like we were telling it the right way.

It’s like I always tell my husband when he asks why I read books over and over again when I already know how they end: it’s not the end that counts, it’s the getting there. To us, the journey is everything and knowing Aunt Bessie, she’ll take us on a heck of a journey with this one, just like she did the last one.

So, here’s to the year of the Moonfixer…part deux!

Oops, I just Googled that phrase to make sure I spelled it right and one of the definitions is an “overly bad sequel.” Yikes! So maybe we should say here’s to the year of the Moonfixer…new and improved version!

about how time flies when you’re having fun? Well, I must have been having a blast in February judging by the date of my last post. Over a month without a single word written on this blog. Yikes! I had hoped to put up at least three posts a week but as you can see, I’ve failed miserably. My only excuse is research and writing has taken up a great deal of my time. That and promoting Whistling Woman which is currently #1 on the Kindle southern and historical fiction list. Woo-hoo! We’re a Kindle bestseller!

Something else I’ve been spending a lot of time on is Photoshop. I bought the program last July and finally got it downloaded (uploaded? I never know which is right!) to my computer. The first picture I added was one we have of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletcher on their wedding day. It’s in pretty bad shape and I have plans to take it to a professional picture restorer (or whatever they’re called) but I wanted to see what I could do with it on Photoshop first.

Here’s the original picture:

BessieFletch300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Told you it was in bad shape but it is from 1902 and was tucked in a small picture album Aunt Bessie gave to our dad before she died. He’d wrapped it in plastic and stored it away for years before pulling it out and giving it to us when we started writing Whistling Woman. This is the only picture we have of Aunt Bessie when she was young and it’s the only picture we have of Uncle Fletcher at any age. Because it was taken on their wedding day, Christy and I have decided it would be the perfect picture for the cover of Moonfixer which starts where Whistling Woman left off–a week after their wedding with their train trip to Old Fort.

Anyway, here’s my first attempt at fixing it myself on Photoshop:

Fletcher and Bessie Elliott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still needs some work but I thought for a first time try it wasn’t too bad. At least I got the edge cleaned up! Here’s the second attempt:

FletchBessie2-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know, too dark so I went back and tried to lighten it up and came up with this:

BessieFletch1_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not real happy with that one either, although you sure can see them a lot better. So, next time, I’m going to work with this one and see what I can do to clean up the background. Photoshop is an amazing program but I have to tell you, it’s terribly complicated to learn. Or maybe that’s just me!

Okay, that’s it for now except to tell you my new goal for this blog: at least one post a week. Surely I can handle that!

…and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.–Thomas C. Haliburton

Stone Mountain Missionary Baptist Church - picture from Find A Grave by Carroll

Stone Mountain Missionary Baptist Church – picture from Find A Grave by Carroll

I’ve spent the last week immersed in genealogy sites while becoming more familiar with my ancestors–both those I actually knew and those I didn’t. And after spending hours on the Find a Grave site, looking at the many “Elliott” tombstones at the Stone Mountain Baptist Church Cemetery, all I can say is Stone Mountain must have, at one time, been crawling with our relatives.One of the things I’ve enjoyed most while doing this research is the names. Names have always been a problem for me when I’m writing, especially for secondary characters. I’ve been known to agonize for hours over a name for one character.

With Whistling Woman, we were lucky enough to have the book The Season of Dorland Bell, written by our cousin, Jackie Burgin Painter who grew up in Hot Springs. Jackie, thankfully for us, did a tremendous amount of research on Dorland Bell, including a list of students’ names from the first years of the school. With that at our hands, all we had to do was look at the list and choose a name–we usually did this by picking a first name at random and then choosing another surname to go with it, instead of using the actual names of people that once attended the school.

With Moonfixer, I don’t think names are going to be a problem either–all we have to do is look at the tombstones of the Elliotts in Stone Mountain Church Cemetery (a huge thanks to the person who downloaded all the pictures to the Find a Grave site!) and that’ll be it. There are so many to choose from;  Doctor (no, that wasn’t his profession, it was his actual name), Daisy, Easter, Taft Commodore, Gemma Alephair, Mintie Jane, Dollie, Lura, and yes, even an Ellie Mae.

In addition to all those wonderful real names, we also have our Uncle Ken (Daddy’s half brother) who read and loved Whistling Woman and now is sending us stories he remembers Aunt Bessie, Uncle Fletcher or other relatives telling him while he lived on Stone Mountain with his mother (Francis Ann–Jack–from Whistling Woman) and her third husband, Boyd Elliott (a cousin of Fletcher’s).

And those stories are chock-full of nicknames (Daddy and Uncle Ken tell us the mountain folks were partial to giving nicknames to people for a particular trait or characteristic): “Stumblin’ Gilliam, “Buttermilk” Stroud, “Bad-eye” Bruce, “Cotton” Davis and his brother “Goober,” and, of course, Moonfixer, the name they gave Aunt Bessie because she was tall for a woman.

Given that, we’ve decided to use some of those unusual nicknames as the chapter headings, like we used southern sayings for the chapter headings in Whistling Woman. So, we have the chapter titles, a good resource for the secondary character names, scads of books and websites dealing with NC history, and most important, lots of family stories. Next up, finish writing the book!

(One interesting note about Aunt Bessie and Uncle Ken; when he was a child she predicted he’d grow up to be a scientist and live far away from North Carolina. He grew up to be a nuclear scientist and lives in New Mexico! You can bet Aunt Bessie’s “gift” will play a huge part in Moonfixer!)

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!

 

 

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