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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…

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At times I love this blog…and at other times I hate it.  I love it because it gives me a place to promote my books, a place to talk about what’s happening in my real life, a place to talk about what’s going on with my writing, and a place to rant and rave if I want to.  But there are times when I hate it because I really don’t feel like writing about anything at all and during those times I always feel guilty because I’m not posting anything new.

Which is why when I stumbled across this post by Carolina on The Lady Bloggers Society  blog, I felt like standing up and cheering for the author!  What she said!  She expressed my feelings so exactly that I felt almost as if she were in my head and knew every thought I’d ever had about blogging.

Are you, like me, a guilty blogger?  If you are, read Carolina’s post and take heart, you’re not alone.  And I have to say, if you are like me and struggling to keep your blog going, check out the rest of The Lady Bloggers Society’s blog.  I bookmarked it because it looks like there are lots of tips and ideas for even the most reluctant blogger and I’m sure I’ll go back to it time and time again.  Heck, I may even join the society–that is, if I ever get over this funk I’m in!

In other happier news, my sister and I just topped seventy thousand words on the book we’re writing about our great aunt’s life growing up in Hot Springs, NC.  We’re to the point where Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch are “courting” which means there’s not much more to tell in this book.  Yippee!  Maybe we’ll meet our self-imposed deadline after all!

And in the strange news category, on Saturday, I was talking to John Waterman who is a co-member of one of the writing groups I belong to, the Western North Carolina Writers’ Guild.  It turns out John’s a member of the Rumbough family who lived in Hot Springs while Aunt Bessie and her family were there.  The Rumboughs were an important family in Hot Springs and at one time, or actually two times, owned the town’s famous resort.  From all my research, I’m pretty sure one of John’s uncles–or cousins, I’m horrible at keeping up with how people are related in families–a Mr. John Rumbough owned the Annex salooon and was a good friend of my great grandfather, John Daniels, the constable of the town at that time.

Six degrees of separation, you say?  Yep, I agree and ever since my sister and I started writing and researching this book, I’m constantly amazed at what a small world it really is!

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.

My 52 weeks of Writing Adventure task for this week was to clean up my blog–specifically my sidebar.  I hated that my book covers were all different sizes so I made myself play with the widgets and finally (!) figured it out.  Sidenote: can anybody tell me why I can’t get more than one “Image” widget to load in my sidebar?  Is it the theme I’m using?  Or is it that WordPress won’t allow more than one?  I almost drove myself crazy with that one and finally decided just to make the pictures of the covers all one size on my computer then load them in one “Text” widget.  It worked and they’re all the same size now–yippee and congratulations to me!

But the real congratulations go out to Linda Houle and Lisa Rene Smith of L&L Dreamspell.  Lisa and Linda are celebrating their third anniversary as a publisher and the release of their 100th book.  Yay for them!

Having experienced the demise of two publishers, one a little over a year old and the other less than a year, three years sounds like an eternity to me.  I love hearing news like that–not only for myself but for all the talented L&L Dreamspell authors, both fiction and non-fiction, that Linda and Lisa have taken under their wing.

Back when I was only published in e-books and there seemed to be publishers failing at least weekly, I remember reading on some of the blogs about the publishing red-flags that all authors should look out for when submitting their work.  One of the them was a publisher that claims they and their authors are all “one big happy family.”  I learned that one the hard way but I have to say L&L Dreamspell is the exception to that rule.  They’re a joy to work with, professional yet caring at the same time, and they do everything they can to make their authors feel as if each of us are a part of their “happy family.”

So, congratulations Linda and Lisa–here’s to many more years and many more books!

Got a question for the more experienced–or perhaps I should say, the more computer-savvy–bloggers out there.   What the heck is the deal with these people who come to your blog and leave comments like the following:

CC8gNK whlmalxnhjfk, [url=http://ngobpdstuqky.com/]ngobpdstuqky[/url], [link=http://kxhymhnynisi.com/]kxhymhnynisi[/link], http://kwgyvvf dasvy.com/?

I get these all the time, both on this blog and on the Dames of Dialogue blogand I have to wonder about the people who leave them.  Do they really expect any blogger to approve their useless and unreadable comments or click on the link they usually include somewhere in that gobblety-gook of letters?  I never do, instead I delete each and every one of them–and yes, I broke the links on this one before I posted it.  Still, I suppose if a reader is desperate enough, they can figure out what I did and reconstruct the URL, but seriously, is there anyone out there who wants to do that?  I doubt it, but just in case, click at your own risk!

Some of them are sneaky though, and actually take the time to type a legible sentence or two that pertains to the entry they’re pretending to be commenting on…but Akismet always catches them and sends them straight to my Spam folder.

Akismet is like a lifeguard who never goes off duty, constantly patrolling the beaches of WordPress, tossing out numerous nets to snare all those unwanted visitors to our blogs, thereby saving us from drowning in the mire of stupid and senseless advertisements for things only an idiot would buy and probably don’t work anyway.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank heaven for Akismet!

I got a phone call from my editor at Red Rose Publishing last night.  Unwilling Angel, the book I have with them, which I was first told would be released in October, and then told it would be released today, September 11th, is now back to October.  Yay!  I was hoping for a later release date, like as close to Christmas as possible, because the story takes place at Christmas.  The holiday isn’t the central focus of the book, in fact, Christmas is barely mentioned, but I really wanted it to come out around Christmas.  Because that’s when people read stories about Christmas, right?  Unless they’re a Christmas junkie like me and start counting down the days in September and keep Christmas decorations up all year–no, not the outside lights, I would never do that, but I do have some of my snow globes and Christmas music boxes scattered all over the house and they never get put away.

So, the new release date for Unwilling Angel is October 9th.  Except wait!  There’s more!  I was just on the Red Rose site and checked the coming soon page to see if the date had been changed and it has.  It no longer says September 11, it says December!  What?!  What!?  Woo-hoo!  That works for me!

But that’s not really why I’m posting this.  Have you checked out the new “Stick this post to the front page” thingie on WordPress?  Awesome!  I’ve been trying for weeks to put the cover of Snow Shadows in my sidebar and never have been able to figure out how to get it up there.  I mean, I followed all the instructions on the “Help” page and I got it inserted into a widget, but when I go to my site, the only thing there is a white box with a little red X in the upper lefthand corner.  Very frustrating!  I finally gave up trying, but with the front page stickie thing, I got it up without a problem.  And I was even able to get the buy links up there!

So I’m doing this totally uninteresting post as a test.  Will the Snow Shadows stickie page remain at the top of my front page or won’t it?  I guess the only way to find out is to click on Publish…

Can someone please tell me what’s up with all these comments I get from auto/life insurance companies and gambling sites?  I mean, come on, what are these people thinking?  They don’t really think I’m going to click on their site and buy insurance from them, do they? 

And the gambling ones, do they think they’re going to suck me into playing a game of black jack or poker–and possibly losing a boatload of money in the process–to them?  Surely not.  Aside from the fact that I’ve only gambled one time in my life–and that at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, where I spent most of my time slack-jawed in disbelief as I watched the people who seemed determined to risk their life-savings on one roll of the dice or turn of the wheel–I would never do that.  I don’t like games–other than baseball–and can think of far better ways to spend my money. 

As for insurance, I leave that to my husband since he’s much more savvy about things like that.  Besides, he’s also, as my niece puts it, Scrooge-alicious, and will spend days researching things like that, looking for the best price he can find.  And once he finds it, watch out.  Can we all say master-horse-trader?  Believe me, car dealers all over western North Carolina have a warning poster about him that they regularly circulate and/or post at their dealerships.  You do not want to go head-to-head with this man when it comes to buying something.  He doesn’t believe in paying full price for anything!  Seriously, back when we used to buy live Christmas trees, he even bargained with the people at the garden center on the price for the tree I picked out.  Talk about embarrassing!  That was the main reason I finally broke down and bought an artificial tree and a slew of pine-scented candles a few years ago.  The smell isn’t as wonderful as having a live Christmas tree in the house, but hey, it’s better than living with that yearly dose of Christmas humiliation! 

Anyway, a word of advice to all you spammers out there; WordPress isn’t the best place for you to be leaving your stupid messages.  Akismet always catches them and marks them as possible spam–thank goodness!–and when I see them I automatically click “delete all.”  So stop wasting your time and go away!

<sigh>  I guess everybody has their own way of amusing themselves, but jeez, I really wish they’d leave my blog out of it!  Surely, they can find some better–read, less annoying!–way to spend their time!

 

That’s a quote from Mark Twain.  I included it as the title of this post because not only is it appropriate to today’s post, it’s the world I’ve been living in lately.

I’ve spent the last couple of days with my head immersed in ancient Cherokee legends as I added some details to my book, Snow Shadows, which the publisher asked for before it goes into editing.  I’ve also been working–sporadically!–on the next book in the series and my sister and I are collaborating on a book based on the life of our great aunt and on the stories my dad tells about his childhood.  Yep, after the cancer scare, we both realized if we didn’t get some of his stories down, they’d be lost forever.  Neither of us are willing to let that happen.

So, we decided to quit talking about it and git ‘er done.  In preparation for the actual writing, we’ve been researching old Southern sayings and life in western North Carolina in the early to mid 1900’s.  And frankly, I’m amazed at all the sites we’ve come across for the sayings.  I do declare, I never knew Southern-speak was so popular, but it seems it is so, there you goAin’t that the berries?  The sayings, as you may have guessed by now, are many and varied, and a few of the sites include an explanation of what they mean–for all those who don’t speak “Southern.” 

Anyway, it’s fascinating stuff and a hoot for me as I grew up hearing quite a few of them.  It’s also turned into an enjoyable way to take a break from writing and I am chugged full and happy as a dead pig in the sunshine!

I am also grinning like a mule eating briars (I used to hear this all the time, and though I haven’t found it verbatim on any of the sites, I have found variations of it) because today, October 25, 2007, my rights for my book officially revert to me.  It’s been a long, frustrating battle with a publisher who at times could make a preacher cuss or hell, [they] could even depress the devil, but now that it’s over, I feel a huge sense of relief and a lovely sense of accomplishment–hence, my mile-wide grin.

The thing is, this publisher isn’t showing any evidence of mending fences with its authors.   I suspect the only reason I finally got a professional rights reversion letter from them is because I threatened to go public with their very unprofessional behavior to various author watchdog sites.  When I did that, I also gave them a 24 hour deadline to respond to me, and lo and behold, I received the reversion letter yesterday.  As of today I am free and clear

…but they’re still stonewalling other authors.  I can’t figure out if that’s good or bad.  Oh sure, it’s bad for the authors they’re not responding to, but could it also be a good sign?  Does it mean they’re willing to fight to keep their business going–which could be very good for the authors who get their rights back because those rights won’t be yanked away from us again by a bankruptcy court if they do go under–or does it mean they’re just being spiteful?

I don’t really know, but I do know they need to step up and address all of their issues instead of popping out of hiding every other week or so to toss another round of excuses in our faces.  I’m sick of that and I just want them to know:

Excuses are like back sides, everybody’s got one and they all stink.  Now, maybe I’m letting my mouth overload my tail but fish or cut bait!  If you don’t, I’m gonna knock you in the head and tell God you died!

You think that’ll get their attention?  Probably not, but giving them down the country sure did make me feel better!

I promised myself I wouldn’t write anything else about the Red Sox until we find out how the ALCS turns out, but I’m fed up with the way the sports media is vilifying one of my favorite players, Manny Ramirez, and I have five words for them: Just. Shut. Up. About. Manny!

I love Manny, even–or perhaps I should say, especially–when he’s just being Manny.  He’s cocky–yes, but he has reason, take a look at his stats, if you want proof.  He’s a smart-ass–yes, and my mom always told me “No one loves a smart-ass.”  Well, sorry Mom, but your daughter is currently crushing on one, and has been ever since said smart-ass became a member of the Boston Red Sox.  He doesn’t always say the right thing–yes, but who of us isn’t guilty of that?  He sometimes acts a little silly–yes, but again, who of us isn’t guilty of that? 

The thing is–are you listening ESPN and all you other sportscasters out there?–Manny is an individual, and as such, he’s multi-dimensional.  His life isn’t always about “Manny being Manny,” nor is it always about “Moonshot Manny” or “Mann Ram.”  It’s not even always about being a basesball player.  He’s a husband, a father, a son–I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Then again, maybe you don’t.  You haven’t exactly impressed me with your intelligence thus far, but back to the subject at hand, Manny…Manny is a baseball player who has a tendency to speak out about certain things or act a little goofy at times, but just because you see his remarks or behavior as innappropriate, that doesn’t mean they are.  What he said the other night about the possibility of losing the ALCS not being the end of the world was, if you take the time to think about it–you do know how to think, don’t you?–dead-on right.  It wouldn’t be the “end of the world,” and as he said, there is “always next year.”

Manny also said, “we just want to have fun and win.”  Hmm…Manny wants to have fun while he’s doing his job.  Don’t we all want that?  Of course we do, and in my opinion, that’s something we could all learn from Manny.  He’s a baseball player, yes, but more than that, he’s having a good time doing what he’s paid to do.  I don’t know about you, but I like that idea.  I personally think the world would be a much better place if more of us were like Manny.  I mean, sure, goals are important, and you should try your best to reach them…but don’t forget to have a little fun along the way.

That’s a lesson for the ages.  I like it much better than the lesson you’re trying so hard to shove down our throats; winning is everything, and individuality is cause for shame and mockery.  Well, winning isn’t everything and individuality should be celebrated, not ridiculed.

So, get off Manny’s back, quit taking his words out of context and trying to make him seem like the biggest idiot who ever walked the earth, much less played the game of baseball, and most of all, grow up!  All your fnger pointing and laughing only goes to show your incredible immaturity…and it’s just cost you one viewer.

(No sportscasters were harmed during the venting of this rant.)

…He opens a window.  Sure, we’ve all heard that old saying or a variation of it at some point in our life, and most of us probably smile knowingly or roll our eyes at the banality of it.  I used to be an eye-roller, but as of today, I’ve joined the ranks of those who wear an enlightened smile.

What changed my attitude?  Well, first, I’ll offer up my horoscope for the day:

The good news is that your career is about to take a very exciting turn — the bad news is that it might also take up a lot more of your personal time, at least for a while. Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge, and you have learned some very valuable lessons. 

I usually don’t pay much attention to my horoscope, just read it and move on, but today it couldn’t be more right.  Take the first sentence, “The good news is your career is about to take a very exciting turn…”  Okay, yesterday I was offered a contract from a print publisher on my sensual paranormal romance, Snow Shadows.  I signed the contract this morning and put it in the mail.  “Exciting turn” is an understatement, and the next part about it taking up a lot more of my personal time is yet to be proven, but it’s probably spot-on…and I don’t mind a bit!  

Now, the second sentence.  It starts with, “Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge…”  Well, my ongoing battle with my other publisher is just that, ongoing, but it does seem to be coming to an end.   Then it goes on to say, “and you have learned some very valuable lessons.”  I certainly have.  And for that I’d like to take a moment here to offer my thanks to the other authors and editors who are going through this battle with me.  They’ve been incredibly supportive, unbelievably generous with their knowledge, and an unflagging source of comfort when I needed it most.

The thing is…with all that’s been happening in my life lately, my faith in God has been on a bit of a down-swing.  I hated that, but I couldn’t seem to stop it from happening.  Then yesterday, when I received the contract offer, I’ll be honest and tell you God was the furthest thing from my mind.  Perhaps I was too excited or maybe I was so high up in the clouds that the thin air was clouding my thinking.  Who knows?  But when I read my horoscope this morning and that old saying popped into my brain, I couldn’t roll my eyes…because I suddently realized I was now living proof of its validity.

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”  Oh, indeed.  The closed door for me was having to fight to get the rights to my book back from a publisher who wasn’t honoring the terms of their contract.  The open window–and in my case I got not just one, but two–is the group of friends who have been so wonderful in a time of need, and the new contract with a print publisher.

God may have closed the door, but he most certainly opened a window…or two.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams