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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!

I’ve been doing some research on Vampires–yep, Vampires, thanks to the third book in my Apprentice Angel series. Tentatively titled Unworldly Angel, the plot revolves around a young girl who’s really into *gasp!* Vampires! Something I swore I’d never write about but…never say never, right? Anyway, I started researching Vampires and I kept getting lots and lots and OMG, tons of sites dealing with Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series. Now, I’ve never read the first word in any of her books but when you’re researching Vampires, the Twilight series is all the rave right now and you can’t get away from it. Seeing all the sites, I couldn’t help but click on a few. The first one I ran across that had me stopping to read was called Reasoning with Vampires where the blogger first read the series then posted about the many mistakes/errors in the books. From the blog:

Before I had any right to dismiss Twihards or criticize the psychologically unhealthy relationship model that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen present, I felt obliged to read the books. So I did. All four novels, one novella, and an incomplete document in portable format.  The content lived down to my expectations, but I was unprepared for how poorly crafted the saga is.

Pretty funny stuff–and boy, I can’t tell you how much I would hate to see my own books held to this kind of scrutiny!

From Reasoning with Vampires, I found another blog, Mark Reads, where the blogger reads books and reviews them chapter by chapter, including the entire Twilight series. Hilarious, so much so I’ve added it to my Favorites list and am slowly, slowly, like I’m savoring every word of every post, working my way through his reviews. Like I said, he doesn’t concentrate solely on the Twilight books but since my chief interest right now is with Vampires, I haven’t clicked on any of the other chapter-by-chapter reviews although I hope I’ll find the time to read them all one day.

Anyway, I’ve made my way through the first two books, Twilight and…uh-oh, can’t remember the title of the second one…Eclipse? No, New Moon. Yeah, that’s it, New Moon. After the last chapter of New Moon, there’s a post entitled “Mark Reads ‘The Story Behind the Writing of New Moon’” from Ms. Meyer’s own website. And it was in that post that I finally–finally!–found something I disagree with Mark about–sort of–and OMG, I hate to say it, agree with Ms. Meyers–um, partly, anyway.

She writes:

…I am a character writer. I write my stories because of my characters; they are the motivation and the reward. The difficulty with strong, defined characters, though, is that you can’t make them do something that is out of character. They have to be who they are and, as a writer, they’re often out of your control.

Mark’s response:

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. There are few times you have ever kept your characters consistent. May I remind you of the bizarre, unnatural things you’ve made Jacob do? You are ABSOLUTELY in control of your characters! THEY ARE NOT REAL PEOPLE.

The thing is, I understand exactly what Ms. Meyer is saying. She has a point about strong characters being the “motivation and reward”–and I have to add that was beautifully expressed!–and she’s also right when she says “you can’t make them do something that is out of character.” Except, according to Mark, Ms. Meyer manages to do that a lot. And judging from Mark’s chapter-by-chapter reviews of the first two books in the series, I have to say Ms. Meyer’s characters are definitely inconsistent.

And if they are, that’s all on Ms. Meyer. There are times when my characters do what they want instead of what I want. Yes, characters, as Mark says, are not real people but they can certainly drive the story down a different road than the one the author had in mind. And I know Mark is talking more about keeping the characters consistent, which is a must, but I have to say I’m with Ms. Meyer on the strong characters “are often out of control.” Witness Betty Sue in Storm Shadows. I almost didn’t finish that book because she was so adamant about taking the story in a completely unexpected directionand it’s not always easy to force a character to do something they don’t want to do. They may not be real but when you’re the author, they are very real to you and sometimes it’s impossible to argue with them.

But, and this is a big BUT, if they’re acting out of character, it’s your job as the author to take over the wheel and drive them in the right direction–even if you have to sneak and do it!

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…

I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to do much of anything except revisions on the book I’m writing with my sister, Whistling Woman, about our great aunt Bessie’s life growing up in Hot Springs, NC, at the turn of the 20th century.  It’s finished.  Yay!  But now comes the hard part; editing and revising.  I usually don’t like that part but with this one, I’m really looking forward to doing the final edits because Christy and I are planning on meeting in Hot Springs when we get to that point.  Another yay!

At the same time, I’m still polishing my older woman/younger man contemporary romance novella, Strict Policies.  And when all that editing gets to be too much, I’m working on the next book in my Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows.  Really hope I get this one finished quicker than I did the second one!

Other than that, I’ve been canning quite a bit–my pantry is overflowing!–and putting the garden to bed for the winter–just in time, we had our first frost last night.  Des and I are still walking every day and we’re really enjoying it…for the most part.  Had an encounter with the wicked witch of the neighborhood yesterday but more on that later.  That little event deserves an entire blog post all its own!

I got a great review for Storm Shadows the other day from Amelia Richard at Cata Romance.  4.5 stars!  Yippee!  Here’s Amelia’s teaser:  STORM SHADOWS makes the supernatural seem genuinely real with clever writing and an innovative premise.

Finally, I have an interview up on Susan Whitfield’s blog today.  Lots of fun to do–and believe me I didn’t think I’d ever say that about an interview!  Hope you’ll drop by and check it out!

Back to the edits…

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!

I’ve been meaning to get this post up for days now but never got around to it.  Sheesh, all these promotions are clogging my brain and since I have a hard time remembering things even when my mind is firing on all cylinders, I’m starting to wonder if I even have even one functional brain cell left.

Warning:  BSP ahead!

Are you still here?  Yeah, so okay, I’m in the Author Spotlight this week on Long and Short of It and I really hope you’ll hop on over and leave a comment on one of my guest blogs.  As an extra, added incentive, you can email the answer to the question beneath the blurb under my book covers and you’ll be entered for a free signed copy of Snow Shadows and a large Storm Shadows coffee mug.  So go on, you know you want to–or at least I hope you do!

Little side note here to the Red Sox–Stop Getting Hurt!  I love that you’re playing your hearts out and that you’ve worked your way into 2nd place in the AL East but seriously, the injuries have to stop.  Then again, maybe they don’t, maybe this is the perfect time to have all these injured players.  If you get it out of your system now, maybe that means the entire team will be healthy come September and everyone knows, the most important baseball is played in September.  Well okay, maybe not the most important, I suppose that would be in October but in order to be around in October, you have to play well in September, right?

Anyway, please stop with the injuries because it breaks my heart when I see any one of you go down and not just because that threatens our chance at a spot in the post season.  I understand that you’re playing to win, and I commend you for that, but I also want you all to be healthy.  Okay?  Okay!  Now, go out there and win one for the Gipper…no, wait a minute, wrong sport, go out there and win one for my Grand-niece Gabi who’ll be making her first appearance around September 8th.  She’s bound to be a true Red Sox fan, if her mom and I have anything to say about it, and I’d love nothing more than to be able to tell her when she’s older that her team won the World Series the year she was born in honor of her birth!

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…

First up, Betty Dravis just put up a fascinating interview on the Dames of Dialogue blog with Dr. Linda Salvin who is a psychic with a radio show that just went national.  You don’t want to miss the her interesting story about her life and how she got to where she is today.  It had me saying “Wow!” in several places.

Second, I’ve put up with the “Are you sure you want to navigate away from this page?” messages every time I try to post a link or insert and image into a post for the last few weeks.  That seems to be fixed now but what’s up with the non-response when you click on “My Dashboards?”  That’s extremely irritating!  I haven’t had many issues with WordPress since I set this blog up years ago but this one’s getting under my skin.  Hope it’s fixed soon!

ETA:  And of course as soon as I posted this, the problem seems to have been fixed.  Grrr…and thanks WordPress!

Third, did you notice the new book cover over in my sidebar?  Storm Shadows has arrived!  Well, in e-book anyway.  It’s up on Fictionwise and to my surprise, it’s one of the books on their home page today.  I just checked and the Kindle version is up too.  Woo-hoo!  Time to do some Snoopy dances…

Except it’s very hard to be happy right now.  My father-in-law had another stroke last week, just when he was doing so well after the one he had on the day before Thanksgiving, and this time the doctors are saying they can’t do anything for him.  My sister-in-law, Jennifer, put up a moving post on the Caring Bridge site yesterday about saying good-bye to him.  I almost couldn’t read the whole thing because I was crying so hard but she wrote a loving and eloquent tribute to her dad.  Needless to say, family and friends are all praying hard for him.