Beloved Woman Progress Report!

December 16, 2014 by

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.


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!

Beloved Woman Cover Reveal!

December 8, 2014 by

After the readers voted, Kim did a final polish on the brown cover and here it is!


Isn’t that beautiful? I love the series logo she came up with–her idea entirely, I never even thought about having a series logo to specify the number of the book in the series! And she added some blue for those of you who voted for the blue cover.

A little bit of info about the cover: the picture of Bessie is part of a postcard she had made with some other people (I had no idea you could do that). There’s a 1 cent stamp on the back. I can’t find any indication of a date any where. It’s addressed to:

J. W. Daniels
No. 515 Emerald Avenue
Knoxville, Tenn.

And our talented cover designer, Kim, included part of Bessie’s message from the back of the postcard on the cover beside her skirt. It’s a little faded and hard to read but using a magnifying glass helps. Here’s the message on the back:

Hello Papa,

How do you like my picture. The others are Jim and Grace, their two kids. Fletch was gone to a burying is because he isn’t in the picture (not sure about this part but it’s the best I can do, even with a magnifying glass!). Hope you are all well.

Yours lovingly,*


A message from Aunt Bessie–isn’t that fascinating? Kim also took the other people out of the picture and filled in the door beside Bessie. And she cleaned it up quite a bit, too. Here’s a picture of what she had to work with:

05-27-2013 05;53;11PM

And there you have it, an interesting relic of Aunt Bessie’s past turned into a beautiful cover for the 3rd book about her life! It doesn’t get much better than that. I can’t wait to see what happens when Kim turns her talents to Wi–oops! Almost gave away the title to the fourth book and we’re not ready to do that yet!

If you’re an author who needs a beautiful cover–or know an author who needs a beautiful cover–please visit Book Covers Designed by Kim.

Edited: “Yours” added to the closing after Kim sent us this picture of the back of the postcard:


It’s a little tough to read here but if you click on it you’ll get a larger version (I think!). Didn’t we tell you we had a wonderful cover designer?

The readers have spoken and the winner is…

December 1, 2014 by



Thanks to everyone who voted here and on our Facebook pages! You were a great help. We can’t say it enough: We have the best readers EVER!

Kim is working to put the finishing touches to the official Beloved Woman cover. Christy and I are waiting with bated breath–well, okay, not really. We know Kim will get it to us as soon as it’s finished so no worries there. What we are doing is merging all the chapters to one file and then we’ll be editing. Yes, that’s right, Beloved Woman is finished–at least as far as the researching and writing are concerned. Whew! And yes, we did do a few happy dances but right now we’re working on getting all the chapters in the right order which should be finished later today or early tomorrow. And then it’s on to the editing stage. Fingers crossed we’ll make our self-imposed deadline of December 20th!

Thanks again for voting!

Blue or brown? We need your help!

November 25, 2014 by

Our wonderful cover designer Kim (Design by Kimberly Maxwell) has been hard at work on the cover for Beloved Woman (and yes, that means we’re getting really close!). Christy and I chose the cover we liked but couldn’t decide on the color; brown or blue. Decisions, decisions…and then Christy came up with the fabulous idea of letting our readers decide. So, here’s the cover with both color options:


Beautiful, aren’t they? But we need to choose which color; brown or blue and we’re asking for the help of our readers. So, please leave us a comment either here or on our Facebook page and let us know which you like best.

Okay, back to writing (mostly editing at this point. Yay!). If you have the chance, check out the link above to Kim’s website. She does fantastic covers and if you like cats, check out her book, The Friendly Floppy Ragdoll Cat, available in hardback and paperback. It’s a gorgeous book chock-full of pictures and information on Ragdoll cats that she designed and wrote herself. Impressive!


A wonderful day!

November 4, 2014 by

First we received an email this morning telling us that Madchen, die pfieffen (Whistling Woman) was released in print and ebook! Second, a box of free copies arrived by UPS. And third, we’ve already hit a top 100 list on Kindle. We are, as you can imagine, doing happy dances times three!


German Internment Camp in Hot Springs, NC During WWI

October 24, 2014 by

In researching our next book, Beloved Woman, Cyndi and I are discovering lots of interesting historical facts that aren’t well-known. Did you know that during WWI, there was a German internment camp in Hot Springs, NC? Erected on the grounds of the Mountain Park Hotel (now Hot Springs Resort), it held 2200 prisoners. Supervised by the Department of Labor, these men weren’t considered prisoners of war but rather enemy aliens because they were the civilian officers and crew of German and Austrian commercial ships that took cover in American ports when Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 for fear of being attacked crossing back over the ocean.  The officers stayed at the hotel and lived a comfortable lifestyle with heated rooms and electricity while the other aliens resided in barracks built on the grounds of the hotel. The officers played tennis and billiards and bowled in the hotel’s bowling alley while their men busied themselves building two small German villages and chapels out of driftwood from the French Broad River, debris from the Great Flood of 1916 and Prince Albert tobacco tin cans. They even built a german encampment 2carousel with chain-suspended chairs that played music as it turned. 

I’ve placed 2 pictures of these lovely, rustic buildings within this post. In the one to the right, you can see one of the chapels in the background.   

Although the citizens of Hot Springs were wary at first, they soon realized these men posed no danger and allowed officers escorted by guards to have dinner with them and speak before students of the Dorland Institute. A 35-member German brass band played concerts on Sunday afternoons, attended by people from Hot Springs and beyond. Some of the officers’ families moved to Hot Springs and visitation was allowed between the officers and their families in Hot Springs and at the hotel.

The only real discord arose when the citizens realized that the aliens ate better than they did, having meat twice daily while they were bound to honor meatless and wheatless days. Once the DOL learned of this, they required the aliens to observe meatless and wheatless days as well.

german encampment 3In 1920, the government transferred custody of the aliens from the Department of Labor to the Department of War, at which time the DOW decided to send them to a prison camp in Georgia where they would be required to perform labor beside real prisoners of war building roads. No one wanted to leave and a case of typhoid broke out among the aliens – many suspecting they deliberately drank contaminated water so that they could stay.

In the picture above, you can see the detail that went into these small houses. Each had a matching gate and walkway and the aliens heated them with furnaces they built from cast off bricks and stones. One had a miniature widow’s walk and the spindles on one porch railing were made from empty thread spools.

All in all, the people of Hot Springs were proud of this camp and treated the aliens well, so much so that they did not want to leave.

Are you sitting down?

October 14, 2014 by

Christy and I have been a little busy and when that happens this blog is always the first to suffer. Not sure why that is, but we apologize and hope our readers don’t give up on us. All comments have now been approved and replies posted. Sorry for the wait!

Okay, we have some news about Beloved Woman but first we’d like to thank everyone for their patience. We are working on Beloved Woman (in between book festivals!) and as we wrote this phase of Aunt Bessie’s life the focus of the story changed quite a bit so…while the title remains the same, we’ll be changing the cover (again!) and–here comes the sitting down part–there will be a fourth book in the series. No title yet but we plan to use the cover for Beloved Woman because the fourth book will deal with what we thought the theme for Beloved Woman would be. Does that make sense? Probably not, my mind is a little frazzled right now! We’ll do our best to explain why we made the change when Beloved Woman is released later this year but until then we’re not talking because we don’t won’t to give away any spoilers.

So, without further ado…


Oh, boy, I really hated putting that red X over one of my favorite pictures but it had to be done and I assure you, no pictures or characters were harmed in the process–they were only moved forward in time and saved for the fourth, and probably final (but we’re not making any promises!), book in the Appalachian Journey series.

As soon as we have the new cover we’ll post it here and on our Facebook page. Now, I’m going to try to erase that picture from my mind and get back to writing…


Art on the Island

September 25, 2014 by

Just a quick post to let our readers know we’ll be at Art on the Island Arts Festival this Saturday, September 27, on Blannahassett Island in Marshall, NC. The court house in downtown Marshall is where Papa took prisoners when he was constable of Hot Springs. We spent quite a bit of time there when we were researching Whistling Woman–not as much as we did in Hot Springs, but close. It’s a beautiful little town and of course, fall is one of the best times to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gorgeous! We’d love to see you there!


An unexpected surprise…

August 23, 2014 by

Moonfixer CoverGalina Varese posted a lovely blog entry about Moonfixer and added a recipe for Molasses Cookies. These were a favorite of Aunt Bessie’s and her recipe sounds yummy! I’m going to try it if I can ever figure out how to convert the measurements. I’m an absolute idiot when it comes to anything dealing with math but maybe I can find somewhere online that will walk me through it.

It’s so wonderful when readers surprise us like this. Check out Galina’s thoughts about Moonfixer and try her Molasses Cookies recipe at her blog: Chez Maximka.

And if you try the recipe, let us know how it turns out. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind at all if you included the measurement conversions so I can try it, too!

Canning: Then and Now

August 14, 2014 by

006I’ve spent the last three weeks canning various vegetables from my garden and fruit from my favorite local farmers’ market. The other day when I was canning green beans I started thinking about Aunt Bessie–not that she’s ever far from my mind these days as Christy and I work on Beloved Woman, Appalachian Journey Book 3–and how Daddy told me she canned everything. And I do mean everything, squirrel (ew!), sausage, soups and stews, jams and jellies, pickles,and of course, vegetables she grew in her garden. He told me one of her favorite ways to preserve food was stringing “leather britches” of string beans but he said she also canned them.

When I can green beans I use a pressure canner which is recommended for safety purposesand I found myself wondering if Aunt Bessie had a pressure canner. So after I put the jars in the pressure canner and started the timer, I decided to do a little research on canning procedures back in the early 1900s. I learned a few interesting facts:

First, just as I suspected, pressure canners weren’t available to the public until about 1917 or so andpressure_canner when I called Daddy he said Aunt Bessie always used a boiling water canner. My next question was how did she can green beans and other low-acid foods that require a pressue canner today. So I moved on to the history of home food preservation and that’s where I found a goldmine of interesting information.

Jacques-Louis_David_-_The_Emperor_Napoleon_in_His_Study_at_the_Tuileries_-_Google_Art_ProjectFrom Pick Your Own: Napolean is often credited with the invention of modern canning: in 1795 the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 francs for a new method to preserve food. Nicolas Appert suggested canning and the process was first proven in 1806. Until 1858, canning jars used a glass jar, a tin flat lid, and sealing wax, which was not reusable and messy!

Napolean? Wow, never would’ve guessed that!

On the Freund Container & Supply – A Visual History of the Mason Jar (very cool timeline) site I learnedcanning-jars-8.14.13 about the Mason jars we all know and love–they’re not just for canning anymore! They were invented in the early 1800s by John L. Mason who perfected and patented them in 1858. When the patent expired around 1880, other jars followed, including the Lightning Jar (the ones with the metal clamp around the glass lid), Ball jars and then Kerr jars. And the lids went through several transformations, too.

And from Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations (I believe this is a site out of the University of Georgia):

BallCannerIt was recognized that bacteria may be killed at the temperature of boiling water, but that spores retain vitality for long times at that temperature and will germinate upon cooling. The type of sterilizing heat process recommended was fractional sterilization – “the whole secret of canning” (Breazeale, 1909). The complete sterilization of a vegetable required that one heat the vegetable in the jar to the boiling point of water and maintain that temperature for one hour each of two or three successive days. The first day of boiling was to kill molds and almost all the bacteria, but not spores. The spores were thought to germinate upon cooling, and boiling the second and third days killed the new bacteria. If fractional sterilization were not practiced, about five hours of boiling on the first day was recommended.

Yikes! Three days or five hours to can green beans? I love green beans but three days? Like a lot of things we’ve been researching; washing clothes and ironing for example, it sure was a lot harder to can back then. Would I have done it? Probably since that was the only way to preserve food but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I do today. For me, canning is more like a hobby. It’s one of the few forms of cooking I really enjoy. But back when Aunt Bessie was doing it, it was a job–and a hard job at that. Just makes me admire her and all the women of that time period more than I already did!


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