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!

In case you missed it…

August 8, 2014 by

We’re very excited today because we have big news about both books in the Appalachian Journey series.

Moonfixer CoverFirst, Moonfixer, Appalachian Journey Book 2 is free today and for the next four days so if you don’t already have it now’s your chance to read the next chapter in Bessie’s life! For free! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Here’s the blurb:

In the dawning years of the 20th century, Bessie Daniels leaves her home town of Hot Springs and travels over the mountain with her husband Fletcher Elliott to live in the Broad River Section of North Carolina.
Bess and Fletch stay with Fletcher’s parents for the first five years of their married life with Bessie teaching in a one-room schoolhouse and Fletcher working at the lumber mill in Old Fort while they save to buy property of their own on Stone Mountain.
In 1906, they purchase 400 acres of the old Zachariah Solomon Plantation which includes a small house with a shack beside it, a branch of Cedar Creek, a row of dilapitdated slave cabins…
And ghosts.
Thus begins Bessie’s next phase of life where the gift of sight she inherited from her Cherokee ancestors grows stronger, her healing abilities are put to the test, and she encounters a vicious secret society that tries to force her and Fletcher to turn their backs on a family sharecropping and living in one of the cabins.
When Bessie and Fletch refuse to give in to their demands, the group strikes back, bringing pain and suffering to their once serene existence on Stone Mountain.

WWcover-300The second thing that has us so excited today is the offer of a contract for Whistling Woman, Appalachian Journey Book 1 to be translated to French! So the German version, Madchen, die pfeifen (I really need to learn how to do that a with the two dots over it!) will be out in November and now it’s going to be in French, too! Needless to say, we’re doing happy dances over this.WW-Germancover

We have so many people to thank for the success of this series, our readers who have encouraged and inspired us to continue sharing Aunt Bessie’s story with the world, our dad who is our primary source of inspiration with his love and all the stories he continues to tell us to this day, and most of all, Aunt Bessie who manages to make her presence felt in our life every time we sit down at our computers. Aunt Bessie, we sincerely hope we’re doing justice to your life and that you’re enjoying this “Appalachian Journey” as much as we are!

 

Ignore this post…

August 5, 2014 by

Just trying out the WordPress app for android I just downloaded on my tablet. It’s a bit of a pain in the you-know-what to type using only one finger but the suggested words that pop up on the toolbar across the top of the onscreen keyboard really help. It’s almost like the app can read my mind. Now I need to figure out the icons so I can post this. I’ll figure out how to add a picture later…

New German cover!

July 2, 2014 by

 

Here it is, the German cover for Whistling Woman. I guess I should say for Madchen, die pfeifen since that’s the new title. And I just realized I’ve been spelling pfeifen wrong. Oh well…

Christy and I think it’s beautiful. What do you think?

 

Today’s a two-fer!

June 30, 2014 by

Okay, first, I had to buy a new computer since my last one decided it wanted to retire last week and even though it’s the same model, I’m having trouble getting used to all the changes. Plus, we are experiencing a heck of a summer here in the mountains of western NC with thunderstorms almost every day and once they get started in the afternoon they don’t want to quit. Hopefully, I’ll get this post written and posted before I get tossed off the Internet again.

We have some news to share regarding Whistling Woman and the next book in the Appalachian Journey series:

The German edition of Whistling Woman will be released probably in November and it has been given a new title, Madchen, die pfeiffen and a new cover. Here’s the publisher’s explanation:

…Whistling Woman, which we name “Mädchen, die pfeiffen” in German, i.e., “Girls who whistle” as an allusion to this idea of the whistling woman being a state of mind and appeal to independent-minded women everywhere. It is also the beginning to an old German nursery rhyme that evokes a story long ago. Bessie is shown on our version as a younger woman with her hair loose, and not as her older self to resonate with this theme.

As for the cover, it’s beautiful but for some reason WordPress won’t let me display it. Grrr! I’ll keep trying!

Now, for the second bit of news; Christy and I have finally decided the third book in the series will be titled Beloved Woman. The Cherokee word is Ghigau and here’s a little background on why we chose Beloved Woman as our title:

Ghigau is a Cherokee prestigious title meaning “beloved woman” or “war woman”.

The title was a recognition of great honor for women who made a significant impact within their community or exhibited great heroism on the battlefield. When a woman was bestowed as a Ghigau she was given great honor and responsibility. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghigau)

There’s more to it than that but I see thunder clouds gathering outside my window and I don’t know how long I have before I get kicked off the Internet so I’ll leave you with the (tentative) cover and a promise to share more later.

BWCover1563-1

 

 

 

Cover me…

April 7, 2014 by

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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!

 

Pardon our mess…

March 3, 2014 by

Moonfixer CoverWe are trying to get the blog updated to include Moonfixer (Book 2) and the upcoming Charming Gardeners (Book 3). I hate to say type it, but it may take some time given my tendency to procrastinate. I’ve been meaning to do this ever since Moonfixer was released (way back in December of last year) but kept putting it off and putting it off and putting it off and…well, you get the picture. WordPress is usually very easy to work with but there are days when it makes me want to throw my computer against the wall. On those days, I’ve found the safest response from me is to get off the site and try another day.

Okay, first things first, the blog name has changed to Appalachian Journey (the series title) but the URL hasn’t. It’s still http://whistlingwoman.wordpress.com/. But there’s no guarantee it will stay that way…not if I can figure out how to change it to Appalachian Journey.

Second, Christy and I both want to thank our readers for the amazing response we’ve received for Moonfixer. We love hearing what you think whether it’s by email (cctillery@yahoo.com), here on the blog (http://whistlingwoman.wordpress.com/) , through the wonderful reviews some of you have left on Amazon, or on our Author Central page (amazon.com/author/whistlingwoman). However you decide to get in touch with us, we love hearing from every one of you and we’re very thankful we have such wonderful readers.

Third, we are thrilled that we’ve heard from, well, I won’t say long lost family members because we’ve never actually met most of you but family members who’ve found our books and either called or e-mailed and introduced themselves to us. Maybe newly discovered family members? Whatever, it’s been such fun to talk or exchange emails (and in some cases, family pictures!) with every single one of you. We’ve now heard from a member of every branch of the Daniels family–Roy, Loney, and Thee–and also from our cousin from the Henderson side of the family, Jackie Burgin Painter, whose books played such a critical part in our research. It’s sort of a new-age family reunion and we’ve loved every minute of it!

Finally, we are working on the third book in the series, Charming Gardeners. The title comes from a Marcel Proust quote: Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our and also because the quote seemed to fit her so perfectly.

Charming Gardeners, Appalachian Journey Book 3

Charming Gardeners, Appalachian Journey Book 3

And now I’ve procrastinated working on the blog enough. If I keep this up it’s never going to get done so time to get back to it but first I’ll leave you with the tentative cover of Charming Gardeners. The picture we decided to use is of Aunt Bessie and our dad gathering herbs and wildflowers (Daddy thinks the dog standing almost hidden over to the right was named Fritz).

To all our readers, thank you for being our personal charming gardeners and making our souls blossom!

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2013 by

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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!

WALKING IN BESSIE’S FOOTSTEPS

October 28, 2013 by

Moonfixer, book 2 in the Appalachian Journey series, begins with Bess moving with her new husband Fletcher Elliott to Old Fort, NC, where they lived with Fletch’s parents until they bought 400 acres of the Zachariah Solomon Plantation on Black Mountain.

Cyndi and I recently paid a visit to Old Fort and Black Mountain to try to get a feel for what Bess first saw in this beautiful area of the Appalachians. Since Bess and Fletch arrived by rail, our first visit was to the Old Fort Train Station and Railroad Museum, home of the original train depot. This museum is easy to find as the main locus point is a tall arrowhead sculpture standing beside it.  We toured this building which looks much as it did in the early 1900s with original walls showing graffiti dating to 1886 and period railroad artifacts. Of particular interest is a large table model old fort train depotshowing the route the train traveled, winding its way through and over mountains. To arrive in Old Fort, Bessie’s and Fletch’s train ride would have taken them though seven hand-dug tunnels and nine miles of track across the Gap (the Eastern Continental Divide is at the top of the Gap) and the Swannanoa Tunnel, 1800 feet long and the longest tunnel on the route at that time. Greeting them would be a manmade geyser, signaling the start of the long climb to Asheville. A disappointment for us was that we weren’t able to visit the geyser since it was closed for repair.

(A winter picture of the museum with the arrowhead statue is shown above.)

We chatted with the docent who knew some of Bessie’s and Fletch’s kin who still live in the area and toured the railroad car which, compared to today’s standards, seemed so bare and uncomfortable. As we walked through the museum and along the wooden platform leading to the car, I could imagine Bessie stepping off the train and looking about, wondering what her life would be like in these mountains.

From there, we went to the Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center where we watched a short video about the construction of the railroad tracks over the mountains, after which we toured the museum, which has an interesting wall depicting pictures with descriptions of herbs used as medicines for different ailments. Since Bessie was a healer and used herbs, an art she learned from her Cherokee grandmother, we found this fascinating. We fell into a conversation with its docent Peggy Silvers who gave us some interesting background about the Copperheads and other secret societies of Western North Carolina and MountainGatewayMuseumafterward emailed us her research about these, including the Red Shirts, which we write about in Moonfixer. Upon leaving, we noticed two log cabins on the property and enjoyed visiting those.

(This is the museum and here are the two log cabins.)mountain gateway cabins

Then it was onto and up winding Black Mountain to Stone Mountain Baptist Church, to visit the graveyard where Bessie and Fletcher are buried, along with Fletcher’s parents, siblings and a host of relatives. This is the church Bess and Fletch attended, and standing there, looking up at the stately white steeple against the beautiful cobalt sky, time slipped away and I wondered if Bessie knew we were there. I suspect she did.

Outside the church is a fountain offering fresh, clear spring water which tastes sweet but is very cold. The graveyard is large and rambling and (I found) somewhat comforting. Graves are marked with monuments elegant and elaborate to simple headstones and even odd-shaped stones. As we walked along, we were thrilled to find graves of people we’ve written about who we feel are old friends. It pleased us to see someone had put fresh flowers on Bess’s and Fletch’s graves. One thing we have learned is that stone mountain baptist churchthey were a well-loved couple.

(Although this picture of the church is dark, it shows the steeple quite well.)

We plan to return for another tour to visit the geyser and Black Mountain Museum. But walking along these paths, going up and down Black Mountain, I wondered if we actually do live in a dimensional world, as some scientists claim, where we might possibly at one particular moment have been walking beside Bessie as she made her way to the Crooked Creek Schoolhouse or Stone Mountain Church. Or perhaps she was with us in spirit, as we often feel she is. I like to think so. Aunt Bessie has been an important part of this journey Cyndi and I are on and we really hope to do her justice by writing the best books we can about her very interesting life and kindly deeds.


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