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WelcomeWe’re in Florida this week (that’s our welcoming committe in the picture), enjoying warm weather and lots of sunshine (they’re predicting snow back home on Thursday. Brrr! So glad we’re here instead of there!), spending time with Daddy (we had dinner with him last night and will be spending more time with him tomorrow), hearing lots of stories about his growing-up years (when he lived with Uncle Fletcher and Aunt Bessie) that we plan to use in the next book, and working on the final edits of Beloved Woman (they’re going really well. We’re about halfway through. Yay!). We have a bottle of chardonay chilling in the fridge for our traditional toast when we finish! Christy and I are loving this book and we sincerely hope the readers will too.

We’re eager to get this book released and know many of our readers share that eagerness so to tide you over until we finish, here’s the back cover blurb for Beloved Woman, Appalachian Journey Book 3.

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In the second decade of the 20th century, major world events resonate even on Stone Mountain where Bessie Daniels lives with her husband Fletcher. There’s a great war, one that takes away many young men, including Bessie’s kin, some never to return. Bessie’s role of healer intensifies as she treats those suffering from the Spanish flu and tries to keep it from spreading further on her mountain. She defends a young woman who’s in the middle of a controversy that threatens to tear her peaceful community apart. And she finds herself involved in the suffragette movement as the women of North Carolina fight to gain their fair rights under the constitution.

Then, when one of her family members makes an appalling decision, one that has the potential to damage a child, Bessie impulsively steps in to right the wrong.

Stay tuned! You’ll know almost as soon as we do! And thanks to all of our readers–we couldn’t do this without your continued support and inspiration!

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I’ve been playing around with the cover for Charming Gardeners, mostly because I don’t want to end up in the same boat when we get ready to do the print version as I did when we did the print of Whistling Woman and Moonfixer (text running into the edges of the cover). I admit, I’m a little slow sometimes but when I repeat the same mistake twice, I usually learn not to do it again. I’m pretty sure I’m okay with that part of the cover this time. Now if CreateSpace will only cooperate and give me the right options for the color on the spine and back cover. I can’t know that until I get on there and see what they offer but…fingers crossed!

Also, when I first posted the cover here on the blog, I realized it needed…somthing. More of a contrast between the picture/text and the background. The white background, while it looked clean and pretty, needed to be changed so it stood out a little more and so, thanks to the wonders of technology (I’m blanking on the name of the program I used right now), I came up with the cover you see to the left.

It’s still only a work in progress, but I think I’m getting closer. Still, I’m not completely satisfied with it and can’t figure out how to make it better so…

HELP! Please!

If you saw this in a bookstore or online would it catch your eye? Would you pick it up or click on it to check it out and see if the book interested you. And if not, what would you change? Maybe a brighter color for the background? Or a bolder, bigger font for the title and author name (keeping in mind that it has to fit within the edges of the print version, of course)? Or maybe I should just trash it and start all over?

Okay, go ahead, tear it to pieces and while you’re doing that, I’m going to go hide in a hole and try to get some writing done. Which reminds me, I had a long phone conversation with Daddy over the weekend and he told me at least two stories I hadn’t heard before and reminded me of another one we’ll be sure to include in Charming Gardeners. Yay!

 

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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!

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…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.

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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?

One of the things Christy and I did while we were in Florida last week visiting our dad was to plot out the sequel to Whistling Woman, Moonfixer. Moonfixer is the nickname Aunt Bessie was given by the mountain people in the Old Fort/Black Mountain area where she and Uncle Fletcher went to live after they were married. They called her that because she was tall for a woman and according to our research and our dad, a “moonfixer” is someone who’s tall enough to reach up and “fix the moon.”

While researching the word, we found references on NBA.com to Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the NBA:

“When NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd was a freshman at West Virginia State in the late 1940s, he was the tallest man on campus. At 6-feet-5, it wasn’t uncommon for Lloyd’s friends to jokingly ask him to “fix the moon,” so that the night might fall just so as they went out on their dates….Detroit Free Press.

And we also found a reference to a “Steampunk character with a slight manga style” called Moon-fixer. From Art Flakes (if you click the link, you’ll also get a picture!):

“If you have a bad moon rising, she will fix it right away, so it makes no harm at night.”

We’re still researching as we’ve yet to find where the term originated from but we knew right away it was perfect for the title of the book that will tell about the next part of Aunt Bessie’s life.

001This is one of the first paintings I remember Daddy painting, it’s the back of Aunt Bessie’s house on Stone Mountain (sorry for the color, I really need to take some photography courses!). Daddy has many stories about Aunt Bessie’s time in the Old Fort/Black Mountain area–even more than he had about her time in Hot Springs–because he actually lived with her and Uncle Fletcher for a while. And his brother, our Uncle Ken, has gotten in on the act, emailing us his memories and stories of Stone Mountain, too.

This promises to be a fun book for us, not only because we’ll get to spend time in an area we loved as kids and we have lots of family stories to revisit, but also because part of it will take place during the early years of the 20th century, a very interesting time in history. We’re not sure of the exact time span of the book yet–perhaps the next 30 years?–but we do know it’s going to require quite a lot of research. After all, think of all the changes, electricity, telephones, just to name two, and then there’s the historical events, the first world war, the Spanish flu pandemic, women winning the right to vote, etc. Although, most of that didn’t affect Aunt Bessie’s life up on Stone Mountain, she was too busy teaching in one-room schools and establishing a home for her and Uncle Fletch on the 40 acres of the Zachariah Solomon plantation they puchased for their house–the one Christy and I visited many times as children.

And yes, like the title to this post says, there are magic quilts, white lightnin’, and things that go thump in the church…not to mention ghosts, bootleggers, revenuers, and dead men wielding knives!

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