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I can’t believe an entire baseball season, spring, and summer have come and gone since I posted anything on this blog. To quote Vizzini from The Princess Bride, inconceivable!

Thankfully, the time hasn’t been entirely wasted. I’ve been keeping busy promoting Whistling Woman (the historical southern fiction I co-wrote with my sister, Christy Tillery French under the pseudonym CC Tillery), gardening ( pretty much a lost cause this year), canning (there are so many wonderful farmer’s markets here where I live), and writing (finished Sun Shadows, the third book in my Eternal Shadows series).

Plus, I’ve spent a great deal of time reading (mostly how-to-self-publish and marketing books) and pondering what I’m going to do with Sun Shadows and the final book in the series, Moon Shadows (I’m about 12,000 words into that one). Not to mention, going back and forth with the titles. For some reason, Sun and Moon aren’t ringing any bells for me so I’ve been considering Shifting Shadows for Luke’s story and Eternal Shadows for Nathan’s. Still no decision but I’m leaning toward the latter.

Anyway, the really important decision is “to self-publish or not to self-publish?” I’m pretty sure it’s going to be self-publish if for no other reason than the success Christy and I are having with Whistling Woman on Kindle. We’ve been at number one (knock on wood and fingers crossed against the jinx!) on the Kindle>southern fiction>historical fiction list for a couple of weeks now and we’ve done pretty well with the print version, too. We sold out (well, sold is a relative term, we gave away quite a few of them) the first print run and we’re hoping sales of both the e-book and the paperback will continue to be good through (and hopefully after!) Christmas.

Only time will tell, but the thing is, I’ve found that I really like being in control when it comes to publishing my books and for me, that’s exactly what self-publishing is all about: the author is in control every step of the way and as a result, any profit (or God forbid, loss) is all yours, too.

As the song goes, the times they are a-changin’–or should I say shifting?–and so am I. I want that control and my next book, whether Sun or Shifting Shadows, will be self-published and sink or swim, it’s all on my shoulders. Wish me luck!

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My interview with Long and Short of It Reviews is up on their website today.  There’s also a contest and I’m participating in a chat on their Yahoo group.  Hope you’ll join us!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out their awesome review of Storm Shadows!

1.  My sister and I finished the manuscript for Whistling Woman, the book we’ve been working on for two years about our great aunt’s life growing up in the small town of Hot Springs, NC.  We took a few days, rented a cabin in Hot Springs, and worked on the first edit.  Now we’re in the process of editing it again–this time by email–and are hoping we’ll have it polished by the end of the year.  After that, beta readers!

2.  Although I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo–or whatever it’s called–I’ve been working on the third book in my Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows.  Last Monday, I set a goal of writing a thousand words a day and so far, so good.  A little over 9,000 words and counting!

3.  Edits, edits, and more edits on Whistling Woman.

4.  Working on getting the blog for the Writers’ Guild of Western North Carolina up and running.  Had a minor problem with WordPress–for some reason it wouldn’t let me add widgets to the blog–but that was solved by going to the forum and posting a question which was answered fairly quickly.

5.  The contract with Red Rose Publishing for my novella, Unwilling Angel, expires on the 18th of this month and I’ve been trying to decide what to do with the book when I have the rights back.  Numerous people have advised putting it on Kindle and thanks to one of the members of the Writers’ Guild, who is currently working to get his books on Kindle, I have a pretty good idea of what that entails.  It won’t be easy but I think I’ll probably try. 

Of course, first I have to get the rights back.  As per the contract, I sent two certified letters to Red Rose Publishing 60 days before the expiration date telling them I did not want to renew the contract, but haven’t heard a word back yet.  Which isn’t really a surprise given the problems other authors are having with this publisher.  I’m doing my best to keep an open mind until the 18th then I’m going to send an email to the owner and inform her that per the contract, the rights have reverted back to me and she needs to quit selling my book.  We’ll see what happens…

6.  After a blast of cold weather to start the month, we’ve had a string of perfect fall days here in the mountains.  I’ve been working to get my gardens put to bed while it lasts.   I wanted to plant bulbs but haven’t been able to find the time and I know I’ll be kicking myself next spring.  Oh well…

7.  Still more edits!

8.  Updating my website and this blog with the 2011 EPIC eBook Awards finalist button.  Yep, that’s right, Storm Shadows made it to the finals.  Yippee!  EPICon is in Williamsburg, VA next year and since my sister, Christy Tillery French, also has a book in the finals we’re seriously considering making the drive up there and attending.  I don’t have much hope that Storm will win, it’s in one of the categories that has the most finalists, but who knows what will happen.

9.  Edits, edits, and more edits with a little research thrown in on the side!

10.  More great news on Storm–The Long and the Short of It gave it a fabulous review last week which means it’s up for Book of the Week.  Woo-hoo!  If you’re so inclined, you can vote by clicking here.  That page also gives you access to Xeranthemum’s excellent review, if you’d like to read it.   Here’s a little taste of what the she had to say:

Storm Shadows is a well written and beautiful romance filled with charm, humor, vivid and lively descriptions and a well earned happily ever after sure to make a reader sigh in satisfaction. Despite the conflict, Ms. Hunter wrote a story that is uplifting and optimistic and just plain fun to read.

So, there you have it, the top ten reasons I haven’t posted anything here for almost a month.  As you can see, Whistling Woman is taking up the majority of my time with the Eternal Shadows series running a close second.  Next week it’s going to be all about Storm since I have an interview and a chat scheduled with LASR.  Which reminds me, I need to come up with a contest for the chat.  Better get busy…

Even though fall doesn’t officially start until Wednesday, here in western North Carolina, we’ve been getting a teasing glimpse of autumn with cooler temps at night and apple-scented breezes wafting our way from all the apple orchards in the area.  On Saturday, I spent the day canning apple jelly and of course, I used local apples.  So sweet and juicy.  Did you know that home-made apple jelly has a lovely pink tint to it instead of the fake goldish color of store-bought apple jelly?  So much prettier!

Got a couple of promotions to pass on…first, over at the Dames of Dialogue blog, author Loretta Wheeler is guest blogging and she’s talking about blow-up dolls.  Huh?  Yep, blow-up dolls and how she uses them to enhance her writing.  Funny post!  I guarantee you’ll have a smile on your face after you read it!

Next, my hero in Storm Shadows, Marcus Tassel, is guest blogging on Stacy Juba’s 25 Years Ago Today blog.  Marc talks about the second time he saw his heroine in his visions.  We’d both like to thank Stacy for hosting us on her wonderful blog!

And that’s it from me today.  Off to label my beautiful apple jelly and maybe sit outside on the porch swing for a while and enjoy this gorgeous weather.  Hope everyone has a fabulous fall!

Thank goodness it’s Friday and the final day of my author spotlight at the Long and Short of It!  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed being in the spotlight, and for the most part, I’ve also enjoyed all the other promotions I’ve been doing, but I’m ready to get back to writing now.

One good thing about not being able to write whenever I want to, it just makes me want to write even more.  And while I was suffering from a bit of a block when I started all this promotion, I think that’s over for now.  Hmm…could that be the cure for writer’s block that every author’s been searching for–no time to write because of too many other commitments?  Could be or maybe it’s just that I’m contrary that way.

Whatever, after I clean up a few more summer contests and promotions I’m doing, I’m going to take at least a week to do nothing but write.  Woo-hoo!  In my world, that’s what you call paradise!

So anyway, here’s your little bit of BSP for the day:  on my final day in the spotlight over at the Long and Short of It, I’m talking about my favorite place in the world, the library.  Hope to see you there and don’t forget to enter the contest for a free signed copy of Snow Shadows and a large Storm Shadows coffee mug!

Those are the reasons I haven’t posted anything or gotten any writing done for more than a week now.  My father-in-law passed away last Thursday–RIP Dad, we all miss you–I had a new book come out–Storm Shadows, Book 2 of Eternal Shadows is finally up on Amazon, B&N, and other on-line book sellers!–and what little time I’ve been able to spend on the computer, I’ve spent on promotions–blech!  So…sad, happy, and blah. 

I am not enjoying the promotions but unfortunately, that’s part of being an author so I’m doing it.  What I am enjoying is seeing the results of some of the promos I’m doing.  And a funny thing, since Storm Shadows came out, sales on Snow Shadows seem to be picking up again.  Hmm…guess it’s true what they say, the best promo an author can do is to write the next book and get it out there.

Anyway, I’m working on a post that’ll let everybody know what I’ve been doing and also what I’m planning in the way of contests.  Stay tuned for your chance to win a free book or two…

so you have to believe it right?  Well, in this case I do.  Mr. Wilde, poet, novelist, dramatist, and critic, said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

Life, in this case, is the trial going on in Catoosa County Georgia in which Tonya Craft, a teacher is accused of allegedly molesting three of her students.  I have no idea if Ms. Craft is guilty or not but when I saw her story, I was somewhat astounded because it so closely resembled something that happens in the second book of my Eternal Shadows series–the “art” in this case, though I use that term very loosely!

In Storm Shadows, which will be released soon, by the way, the heroine, Betty Sue Corn, is a middle-school librarian and she is wrongfully accused first of improper behavior in front of her students and then of sexually molesting some of her students.  She is suspended from her job while the school board decides what to do with her and while she waits, Nathan–who’s feels he’s responsible for her suspension–offers her the use of his cabin on Eternity Mountain.  And of course, while she’s there she becomes involved with Marc, one of Nathan’s blood brothers.  Marc, living under the same curse as Nathan and the other two Tassel men, Matt, whose story was told in Snow Shadows, and Luke, whose story is next in Sun Shadows, is an immortal shape-shifting cougar with psychic abilities.  He is determined not to have anything to do with Betty Sue because he’s been “seeing” her for years in his visions and he “knows” if they get involved one of them will die.

Given that I first started writing this book over a year and a half ago and at the time I’d never heard of Ms. Kraft, although she was first accused in 2008, I’d say this one’s a close call.  So what do you think…is life imitating art or art imitating life?

Hmm…maybe it’s a case of six of one, a half dozen of another.  And speaking of another, here’s my favorite Oscar Wilde quote:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”  Love that!

ETA:  Tonya Craft was found not guilty of the charges today.  I’m sure that’s a relief but what happens now?  She’s lost her job, her home, and two years of her life.  I’d say make the students who accused her do something to pay her back somehow…but they’re not even ten years old!

 Available at Amazon, B&N, Powell’s, and Fictionwise!

Okay, so I’ve been playing around on Loldogs.  Guilty as charged, but after reading this post by Lisa Alber on her blog, Lisa’s Words at Play, I started thinking about self-doubt and wondering why so many writers seem to suffer from it.  Then yesterday, I spent a good part of the day reading through the final line edits on my novella, Unwilling Angel, which will be published as an e-book soon and ugh!  Self-doubt reared its ugly snout and took a huge bite out of my ass!

A little back story here, the main character in Unwillling Angel is an aspiring writer who’s struggling with writer’s block.  She’s been working on a YA book since the death of her husband two years before and she’s convinced she has to finish it.  She’s riddled with self-doubt and thinking about suicide when she sees the ghost of her favorite author, Mac McBride.  Only Mac’s not a ghost, he’s an Apprentice Angel sent by the Archangels to help her get her life straightened out.

So, in addition to Lisa’s blog entry, this book has a heroine who is filled with self-doubt, and as I was reading through the final line edits file, I found myself…questioning, deliberating, and thinking of ways I could have written it better, tighter, or even funnier.  In a word, doubting.  And even though I know it’s too late to make any major changes, that doesn’t keep me from wanting to do just that.  

The thing is…I think I could read this book, or actually, any one of the things I’ve written, a million times or more, polishing it with every read-through, and still find things I think need to be changed.  Which got me to thinking, do multi-published authors do the same thing?  Do they suffer from the self-doubt demon?  Does Stephen King?  Nora Roberts?  John Grisham?  Did Shakespeare?  Charles Dickens?  Mark Twain?  What about poets like Emily Dickinson?  e. e. cummings?  Shel Silverstein?

I can’t say for sure because this is only my fourth book–well, really my third since this one was published very briefly before and I guess I shouldn’t count it twice.  It’ll probably be a while before I know the answer to that one, if I ever do, but I have to say, I think maybe they do.  I think, like DeAnna said in the comments on Lisa’s blog, it’s probably hardwired into all authors.  One thing I do know for sure is that right now self-doubt is pretty much a constant companion for me…and I can’t imagine it will ever go away completely.

But that’s okay, I can live with that.  Especially when the self-doubt demon might just work in my favor by making me a better writer.

BTW, my book cover is up on Amazon.  Woo-hoo!  Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it yet.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Why not buy a copy and beat the dog-days of summer by frolicking in the Snow Shadows on Eternity Mountain with Matt and Ellen?

<Sorry, couldn’t resist that little bit of BSP!>

 

So, I topped 35,000 words on Storm Shadows yesterday and was anxious to get back to it this morning.  The words were right there at the front of my mind and when I sat down at the computer, I could just imagine them flowing in an effortless stream from my brain to the keyboard.  I was happy, content, eager to work.  As I waited for the file to open, I sent up a prayer to the Romance gods that the dreaded “Midway Hump” would bypass me on this book.  Then I shoved up my sleeves, flexed my fingers and got busy. 

Less than a minute later it happened.  My muse popped up and shattered my world by uttering three little words.

Her (smirking):  You’re an idiot!

Me (eyes wide, mouth dropping open):  What?  What?  WTF are you talking about?

Her:  Watch your language, who do you think you are, one of your heroes?  I said, you’re an idiot.

Me (blinking owlishly, trying to hold on to my temper):  And just why am I an idiot?

Her (gesturing to the computer screen):  Pay attention to where you’re going with this story.  You can’t do that, it’s inconsistent with Snow.

Me:  I’m not working on Snow Shadows, that’s finished.  I’m working on the second book in the series, Storm Shadows.  Now, go away!

Her (rolling eyes):  That’s my point, Snow’s finished, its in the hands of the publisher, the ARCs have gone out, it’s ready to be printed.  You might even go so far as to say it’s etched in stone.  You can’t change…

Me (jumping up to dance and wave my hands over my head):  Only a couple of more months.  High five!

Her (crossing her arms over her chest):  Do you have any idea how stupid you look?  Sit down, shut up, and most important, listen up!  Your prologue on this one is inconsistent with Snow.  Hell, the whole thing is inconsistent.  Marc is always going on about his fear of death and about dying, you even have one part where he says he’s died before and he’ll do it again.  The curse, you mental genius, the curse, do you even remember the curse?  He’s immortal, he can’t die! 

Me (sitting down and sighing):  I know, but he doesn’t actually die and the legend I’m using for Marc is different.  I can–

Her (shaking a finger):  No, no, no, a thousand times no.  You can’t, and as long as I’m participating in this book, you damn well won’t!  Go back to the beginning and fix it.  Don’t make me get mean, you won’t like me when I’m mean.

Me (sulking):  You’re always mean.

Her:  No, I’m not.  What I am is consistent.  You’re writing a series, constistency is extremely important.  That (pointing at computer) is not consistent.

Me (sneering):  What was it Thoreau said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”?

Her (throwing her hands up in the air):  OMG, you are an idiot.  First, it was Emerson who said that, not Thoreau.  Second, when it comes to books in a series, a foolish INconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.  And the minds of your readers aren’t little.  You don’t think someone will catch it and call you on it?  Quit stalling and change it!

Me:  No!  Look, I know what I’m doing here.  I’m the writer, for God’s sake!  What I’ve done so far will be resolved later in the book.

Her (left eyebrow arched):  And how, pray tell, are you going to do that?

Me (mirroring her move, arching my right eyebrow):  I have some ideas.  You’re not the only one with an imagination, you know.

Her (snarling):  Your imagination is useless without me.  Now, how are you going to fix it?

Me (hunching shoulders):  I don’t know yet, but it’ll come to me.  Maybe I can…no, that won’t work.  How about…no, that won’t do it either.  I know, I know, I’ll…shit!

Her (laughing as she fades):  That’s what I thought.  Tell you what, when you figure it out, give me a call.  

Me:  Wait!  Wait!  Come back!  I need you to help me fix this, I need your input, your creativity, your thoughts.  I can’t–

Her (looking smug, hovering near the ceiling):  Go on, say it.

Me (sighing):  I can’t do this without you.

Her (shaking her head):  Somehow, I don’t think you really mean that.

Me:  I do!  I swear I do!

Her (pointing at the floor):  Not good enough.  Come on, you know the drill.

Me (getting down on my knees):  I’m sorry I doubted you.  Please, I need your help.  If you desert me, I’ll never finish this book.  I’m begging you, don’t go away and leave me here to do this alone.

Her (shoving up the sleeves of her bright yellow sweatshirt with a glowing lightbulb and the words “Muses do it in your head” emblazoned on the front):  Much better.  Now, get up and let’s see if we can fix this mess you’ve made.  Here’s what I’m thinking…

 

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams