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Today’s my birthday and I’ve spent the day doing only things I enjoy doing.  I started the day reading, and with the exception of a few phone calls from family and friends, managed to while away the entire morning lost in a book.  After a completely non-nutritious lunch, I decided the next thing I wanted to do was work on the most important thing in my life right now: Whistling Woman.

First a little backstory; Whistling Woman is a book my sister, Christy Tillery French, and I co-wrote about the life of our great aunt.  It’s part fact, part fiction, and includes a lot of the stories we grew up hearing from our dad and our great aunt Bessie when she was alive.  Christy calls it faction–love that word!–and it works but I’m not really sure what recognized genre it would fall under.  Historical fiction?  Southern literature?  Whatever, it takes place in Hot Springs, North Carolina, in the late 1800’s and there’s quite a bit of history and folklore pertaining to the mountains of western NC, as well as the family stories.

We finished the book a couple of weeks ago and since then have been trying to decide which way to go now that the manuscript is complete.  We first thought, try for an agent and hope they can sell it to one of the big publishers in NY.  But then we started thinking about the time factor.  While you could say the book was inspired by our great aunt’s life, the real inspiration is our dad.  He told us most of the stories that play such an important part of the book, and he continues to tell us the stories today–thank God!  But you see, Daddy will turn 83 years old next month, and while he’s healthy and he comes from a family that is long-lived, you just never know.  One of his oil paintings will grace the cover and it’s very important to us to be able to give him the book so…we started looking at smaller publishers and POD publishers.  Still a wait in most cases so then we started thinking of self-publishing, something both of us swore we’d never do.

Oh, how the not-so-mighty have fallen.  Yep, we’ve decided the thing to do is self-publish.  Not only does it give us more control over the book and how it’s presented, it’s a lot quicker.  As an added bonus, we wouldn’t be under contract with a publisher and any money the book makes comes back to us without anyone else taking a cut.

Can we all say Scrooge-alicious?  I can and I do because while I have been making money with my writing and I know Christy has too, this is a book from our hearts, a true labor of love, so why share the money from our hard work with someone else?

So, that’s how we came to the decision to self-publish.  And today, on my birthday, I decided to get down to business.  I sent an email off to a local printer, BP Solutions in Asheville, to a woman who comes highly recommended by a member of one of the writing groups I belong to–thanks Celia!–and less than 5 minutes after I pressed “send” I get a phone call from her.  Hmm…as Aunt Bessie would probably say, it’s a sign.  I have to say I agree with her.

I also have to say, if being a self-published author is half as fun as being a traditionally published author, it’s going to be a heck of a fun ride!  Oh, I know, it’s a big change and one that will involve a lot of hard work, but it’s a change that has me excited and looking forward to what comes next.  Not a bad 56th birthday present, if I do say so myself!

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A few things on my mind this morning:

1.  Red Sox! Sweep! Yankees!  ‘Nuff said!

2.  Jacoby Ellsbury is my new dream man.  Okay, well, not so new since I did a post about a year ago about him and how I thought he would make the perfect model for my hero in Snow Shadows, but did you see him steal home last night against the Yankees?  Wow!  How fast is that guy anyway?  Faster than a speeding bullet–well, maybe not, but he’s fast!

3.  Authors on MySpace that friend you and then you only hear from them when they’ve got a new book.  I know that’s just promotion but for some reason, it really bugs me!

4.  Spring and planting my garden which still isn’t done because we’ve been going through something of a mini-monsoon season here.  Thankfully, it seems to be over at last!

 

5.  Mockingbirds.  I have a mockingbird that comes to my suet feeder two or three times every day.  After s/he eats his/her fill, s/he perches on a branch in my hackberry tree and sings his/her little heart out.  Amazing the number of bird songs the s/he knows!

6.  Dogs are wonderful creatures!  No matter what kind of mood I’m in, mine never fail to get at least a smile out of me, and most of the time, a full-out belly laugh.  Gotta love them and be thankful for them!

7.  Oh yeah, did you hear?  The Red Sox swept the Yankees!  Yippee!

8.  Spring cleaning.  Yep, it’s that time of year and no matter how much I don’t want to, I have to do it because that’s how I was raised.  Bleh!

9.  31 Days to Build a Better Blog–I’ve fallen way behind on this one and don’t know if I’ll ever catch up.  We’re on day twenty-something and I just now got my elevator pitch for the first day’s assignment.  Double bleh! 

10. On a happier note, the Red Sox swept the Yankees this weekend.  Hip, hip, hooray!

11. Cherokee legends about wolves because I just started on the third book in my Eternal Shadows series.  Only about a thousand words in since I’m also working on finishing Winds of Fate, the book based on the legend of Blowing Rock.  I’m expanding it to a full-length book instead of a novella.  Wish me luck!

12. The Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase next week in Flat Rock.  Not exhibiting in this one because by the time I heard about it all the tables were taken, but I’m looking forward to spending time with my sister and mom who are coming over for it, attending some of the sessions and meeting some of the local authors.

13. No number thirteen because that’s unlucky–yep, baseball season is in full-swing and my superstitious nature is too!

14. Writing groups.  I’m a member of High Country Writers in Boone and was a member of RWA.  I let my RWA membership go this year because there’s not a local chapter here in the mountains of NC and I wasn’t getting much from the national membership.  I’m thinking the money might be better spent if I join the North Carolina Writer’s Network.  They have a local chapter which I will automatically be a member of if I join so…

15. A tip for all you authors out there, check OpenZine.  I haven’t joined yet, but an author/publisher has and she’s gotten quite a bit of attention so I think it has real possibilities for authors to market.

Okay, that’s it, except, did I mention the Red Sox swept the Yankees this weekend?  I did?  Well, it bears repeating!

Lots of things going on in my world the last few days and I don’t have a clue where to start talking, er, writing about it.  I guess I should just close my eyes, hold my nose and jump right in.

First–and most exciting!–I have a release date on my book.  August 16th!  Woo-hoo!  Adding to the thrill of that is the fact that the 16th is one week to the day after my niece’s wedding.  Ooooh, August is going to be so hot!  Well, okay, August is always hot in the southeast, but this year there’s going to be a lot of Snoopy dances going on and that’s likely to ratchet up the heat a couple of notches, at least in my world!

Second, there’s news of another e-publisher who seems to be showing signs of going down.  Not saying it’s so, but from all I’ve read over the last couple of days, New Concepts Publishing is acting a lot like Twilight Fantasies acted right before they closed up shop and slinked away into the night.  According to several of their authors, they’re not answering emails, not addressing problems raised by the authors on the authors’ loop, giving preferential treatment to the books written by the owners of the company, not sending books out for reviews, not promoting, etc., etc., etc.  I feel sorry for their authors, because I know how it feels to be treated like that and I’m hoping for the best, but you know me, expecting the worst.  I hope, whatever happens, they at least have the decency to stand up and take responsibility for their actions and not just close up shop, leaving their authors hanging like Twilight did.  

Third, Josh Beckett is injured–oh noes!–and probably won’t make the flight to Japan for the games the Red Sox are scheduled to play there next week.  First Schilling, then Beckett.  This is so not good, but I’m trying to look at it as a blessing in disguise.  I wasn’t too thrilled about the team flying all that way just to play a couple of games then turning around and flying all that way back again just days before the season starts.  And maybe, if this back injury keeps Beckett from making that long flight, he’ll be ready for the season opener here at home–at least I hope so!

Fourth, I’ve been working on updating my website now that I have a release date and I have to tell you, that’s a lot of work!  I’ve got four books releasing this year and I’m trying to get all the info on them straightened out and posted.  Arrgh!  Looks like I need to morph back into a teacher and make detailed plans for every minute of every hour of every day.  I hate that!  But my website looks really good, even if I do say so myself!

Fifth, I caught a post on AOL MLB Fanhouse the other day about Roger Clemens that sent me off into gales of laughter.  It seems the Huntsville Stars, a minor league team in Alabama, have come up with a new logo for their team which includes a rocket.  So, what did they do?  Yep, they offered “Rocket” Clemens a job as their back-up mascot.  He won’t make the millions of dollars he’s used to and thinks he’s worth, but it’s not a bad salary–$25 a game.  IMO, more than he’s worth.  Especially since he’ll only have to work on the days their primary mascot, Homer the Polecat, can’t work.  Here’s the link if you want to read the post.  Warning: if you have a drink in your hands, put it down and swallow whatever’s in your mouth before you read!

http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2008/03/06/roger-clemens-gets-a-job-offer/

Ya’ think he’ll take it?  Doubtful, given his arrogance.  Maybe they should offer him the position of Homer the Polecat–much more fitting, to my way of thinking.  He wouldn’t even have to wear a costume, just a sweatshirt with the name Homer on it.  I think most of the fans, being from the south, will get it.

Sixth, I spent all day Saturday, working on the dedication and acknowledgements page for my book.  The dedication was easy since it’s been in my heart for a long time now, but the acknowledgement page–ack!  Hard!  Well, maybe not hard, but definitely boring.  To avoid even the merest whiff of the “Cassie Edwards thing”, I cited the books and Internet pages I used for my research.  I also added a special thank you to the Lone Wolf site because, hey, they taught me the most important thing of all…

I’m a Twinkie!*  That still makes me smile! 

* https://caitlynhunter.wordpress.com/2007/10/28/im-a-twinkie/

I caught a post over at SB/TB late last week about Cassie Edwards.  It seems she’s released not one, but three books since she was officially outed by the Smart Bitches team as a plagiarist.  Grrr!  I would’ve posted about this sooner, but I had to go see–and hide–the books for myself!

So now that I’ve done my civic author duty and worked off a little of my mad in the process, I have a few things to say about Ms. Edwards’ new books.

First the titles:

Savage Wrongs

Savage Lies

Savage Darkness

What is this, her autobiography in three parts?  Because, you know, those first two pretty much describe her life so far and the last one, IMO, describes that special corner of hell which is at this moment being prepared especially for her.

Beyond that, the word “Savage” really gets to me and I wish, if she continues to write and her publishers continue to publish her–don’t even get me started on them!–she’d drop that word.  Seriously, it makes me want to go for her throat and show her what the word really means!

The thing is…she claims she’s proud of her Native American heritage, but I think that’s just another of her lies.  She probably only says it because she thinks it’ll sell more books.  Come on Cassie, get a clue here!  Every time you use that word in the title of one of your books, it’s an insult to Native Americans everywhere–even me, a Twinkie who only has a tiny little drop of Cherokee blood!  And if you think your ancestors would be proud of you when they saw the those titles, think again.

Okay, so that takes care of clueless Cassie.  Now, on to the next thing that has to do with Native Americans.  On that post, some of the comments had to do with a feather that appears on the cover of the first book listed above–please don’t make me type that word again!–and several people wondered if the feather was supposed to be a quill.  Then some brainless idiot–a relative of Cassie’s, possibly?–posted and said it couldn’t be a quill because “savages didn’t use quill pens.  They didn’t have written language!”

*foaming at the mouth here*

Seriously, I’m almost as pissed about that one comment as I am about the fact that Cassie Edwards still has books coming out.  

Listen up!  The Cherokee have had a written language since 1821 and a newspaper since 1828.  It took 12 years for Sequoyah to develop the syllabary, but once he finished, it took less than a year before every Cherokee speaking person alive could read it. 

I didn’t respond to the comment over there because, well, I hate to call someone an idiot to their cyber-face, but I can’t resist here on my own blog:

Don’t tell me, let me guess, you get all your facts about Native Americans from reading Cassie Edwards’ books, right?  Here’s a sample of the Cherokee written language:  U-nv-tsi-da u-yo-hu-sv*

* brain dead (the closest I could come to stupid in Cherokee)

Edited to add:  Oops!  Forgot the link:  http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/cover_snark1/

Well okay, not so much here in the mountains where it’s another rainy cold day, but in Florida, with less than a week to go until the first game, baseball is definitely getting warmer because…Manny’s in the house!  For the first time since 2005, Manny arrived on time for Spring training, and from his statements to the press he’s ready to play and looking forward to this season.

Could it be his last as a Boston Red Sox?  I have a hard time believing that and hope it won’t happen.  But then, as everyone knows, I’m a Manny Fan Girl.  I just can’t imagine the Red Sox without him, can’t imagine watching a game where there isn’t the Big Papi/Manny threat hovering over the opposing pitcher’s head, can’t imagine a time when another player will take on the job of taming Fenway’s Green Monster.

The Red Sox without Manny?  Say it ain’t so–ever!

And then there’s Jacoby Ellsbury.  I caught an informative and interesting article about him in Men’s Vogue the other day.  Did you know he’s the first Navajo to play in the Major Leagues?  Just another reason for me to appreciate him.  I’m not an official FG of his yet, but the more I learn about him the more I like him and I can see myself becoming one, especially after reading the article.  Here it is if you’d like to read it:

http://www.mensvogue.com/health/feature/articles/2008/03/jacoby?currentPage=1

Like I said, very interesting.  Put longer hair on him and he could be the cover model for the book I have coming out later this year, Snow Shadows.  Yep, he could be my Cherokee shape-shifter, Matt, especially since he spent his time in the off-season beefing up.

Hmmm, I wonder if he’d be open to posing for a pic of a paranormal romance hero who, in my editor’s words is “SO HOT!”  (hee-hee, I’ve been giggling over that little tidbit for days!)

The thing is…I’m about 50 pages into the next book, Storm Shadows (working title), and now I’m starting to worry about making the hero of this one, Matt’s brother Marc, “HOT!”  Can I do it?  Well, the only thing to do is write the story.  And now that I have a picture in my head of Jacoby Ellsbury, I think that will help immensely because the brothers in each of the four books in this series look very much alike, about the only difference being the color of their eyes and the length of their hair.  Jacoby’s is still shorter than Marc’s, but not by much.

So thanks, Jacoby, for the inspiration!

Yesterday I said I would post my thoughts today on the Cassie Edwards plagiarism issue, so here we go…

But first, a warning, this has generated a lot of different feelings in me, so this post may at times veer into rant territory, but these are my opinions and I stand by them.

Feeling number one–astonishment.  This woman is a multi-published, best-selling author.  Why would anybody who’s written over a hundred books feel the need to steal from other authors?  There have been a slew of answers to that question and I’m not going to include them all here.  Suffice it to say, there are some I agree with, and some I disagree with, but since I’m not Cassie Edwards, I’m not going to venture to say why she did it.  The fact is she did it, and now she’s paying for it.

Feeling number two, sympathy.  I’d hate to be in her shoes right now…but sympathy can only go so far.  She brought this on herself and she needs to stand up and deal with it, which leads me to feelings number three, four, and five; disbelief, laced with disgust and cynicism–all of them coming from the teacher side of me.  Ms. Edwards claims she didn’t know what she was doing was wrong.  How could she not know?  One of the first things we’re taught in school is not to copy off of someone else’s paper.  Beyond that, one of the first things we’re taught in life is not to steal.  Those lessons are usually closely followed by the one about taking responsibility for our actions.  Pleading ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no excuse.  I could go on and on about this, but I think it’s enough to say, she was wrong, she knows it, and she’s not willing to stand up and admit her guilt–which pretty much wipes out that small flash of sympathy I felt before. 

The next feeling is one of…um, I suppose you could call it identifying with her to a certain degree.  Like her, I write romance, and also like her, I’m part Native American.  My great-great-great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee and if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m what some people call a Twinkie.  I’m proud of my heritage, despite the fact I have no documentation to prove it, and many of my stories have a strong Native American element woven into them.  Unlike Ms. Edwards, I’m not a history buff, so I don’t write historicals.  I also don’t “borrow” passages verbatim from books I’ve read as part of my research.  Added to that, I would never, never include the word “savage” in one of my titles.  I haven’t read any of her books, but judging by her titles alone, they are offensive and stupid–like I said, my blog, my opinion!  She claims she’s proud of her Native American heritage and yet she uses the word savage in a great many of her titles.  I wouldn’t call that proud, I’d call it insulting.

So, there you have it, a few of the feelings this situation has generated in me, but the thing is…the one emotion that’s been circling over and over in my brain, superseding all the rest is worry.  Yes, worry.  Perhaps it’s egotistical of me, but I’m concerned about how people are going to view my next book when it comes out because it’s based on a Cherokee legend and has several Cherokee characters.  Will they read the blurb, put it back on the shelf and say, “Another Cassie Edwards, I wonder if she’s a plagiarist too?”  And if some day, I’m lucky enough to have one of my books accepted by a big NY publisher and it actually sells a few copies, are people going to pick it up and start googling like mad?

I don’t kid myself, I know the odds of that happening are astronomical, but this whole thing has touched off an inner debate in me about writing.  Should I stop writing about my Cherokee ancestors?  Am I, as some Native American people are saying about Ms. Edwards, just using them to further my writing career?  Is it stealing when I read a legend and it creates a spark for a story?  And even, should I just quit writing altogether?

I guess you know how that last one makes me feel.  It pisses me off, but still…as we’ve all seen from the Cassie Edwards thing, writing is a tough business and every author out there needs to police what they do and make sure their i’s are dotted and their t’s are crossed.  Is it worth it?  Of course it is, if only for the feeling I get whenever a publisher writes and says they like my story and would like to publish it.  Or when someone reads something I’ve written and tells me how much they liked it.  And besides, I’ve never found anything else I enjoy as much.  So, I’ll continue on, all the while doing my best and never forgetting the lessons I’ve learned from this whole messy Cassie Edwards thing. 

And Ms. Edwards, I have a suggestion for you, go to the library and check out Robert Fulghum’s All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  There are a lot of valuable life lessons in there that will benefit anybody, no matter how old they are and no matter how many mistakes they’ve made.  If I were you, I’d pay particular attention to the one about afternoon cookies and milk followed by a nap–maybe that will make this all a little bit easier to bear. 

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams