Thursday, February 28, 2019

Guest Post Lynda McDaniel - Appalachian Mountain Mysteries

Today I welcome author Lynda McDaniel who's got a great guest post about her Appalachian Mountain Mystery series.

He’s been stealing hearts since he debuted in 2016. Originally a supporting character, Abit shot to top billing when readers demanded to spend more time with him. Challenged at home, school, and the playground, he finds hope again when Della Kincaid buys the store next door. The three books span 20 years of his life.
Della moves to the mountains of N.C. and pours herself into the store she bought from Abit’s father, but somehow cases of murder, missing persons, and other misdeeds find their way to her doorstep.
Click the covers for the Amazon purchase link
One mysterious death. One lazy sheriff. Two seekers of truth.
Della Kincaid escaped to the mountains of N.C. to get away from it all. Didn’t work. She discovers a dead woman in the wilderness and gets embroiled in the investigation. The sheriff says suicide; Kincaid says murder. As a former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to chase the truth. But without her usual sources, she turns to an offbeat cast of characters—friends, forger, former husband, and new neighbor Abit Bradshaw, a challenged boy who’s spent the first 16 years of his life plagued by small-town bullies and family lies. They team up to search for answers to the possible murder—and to make peace with  their own lives. 

Big con. Missing money. Wounded pride. It’s a long journey home.

Four years after that fateful summer in A Life for a Life, Abit Bradshaw faces the biggest challenge of his life. A family of con artists has fleeced his school and cast suspicion on him. With the support of Della Kincaid and Alex Covington, he sets out on a life-changing journey to find them and get payback. Abit draws on every ounce of courage he can muster as he searches the Virginia mountains and encounters a slew of characters—from sinners to saints. Will he have enough faith in himself to finish his quest? Or will the con artists, as too often happens, get the last laugh? 
Missing mother. Neglected children. Lost love. Abit and Della have their work cut out for them.
Meet Astrid, a sprite of a girl whose mother goes missing from her isolated log cabin. Abit Bradshaw and Della Kincaid get entangled in the investigation, searching for answers from the mountains of N.C. to the streets of D.C. Along the way, they come face-to-face with the lies and secrets plaguing their own families. Meanwhile, Abit struggles with a decision that could cost him everything he holds dear.
Reviewers have compared Lynda McDaniel's Appalachian Mountain Mysteries to To Kill a Mockingbird and her storytelling style to that of Fannie Flagg. If you like page-turning dramas without over-the-top violence—but packed with suspense and character-driven stories—you’ll love this series. 

Lynda's guest post:

Appalachian Memories
“Won’t burn,” my landlord, Vester Bradshaw, called out as I stacked firewood on our porch next door.
My husband and I had just finished bow-sawing a good supply in anticipation of the fast-approaching winter. I was sweaty and tired, and I can still hear the irritation in my voice when I asked, “What do you mean? It’s wood!”
“Green,” was all he’d say, succinct being as much a part of the local dialect as words.
And he was right on two counts:
1.     The wood was too green to burn and
2.     I was so green I barely knew which end of a match to strike.
We were emigres from the big city, seeking a simpler life in the mountains of North Carolina. While living there for 15 years, I made mistakes by the wheelbarrow load, but I wouldn’t take anything for that experience. All the things I enjoy today—writing, hiking, gardening, putting food by, wildflowers, birds, bluegrass music—took root then.
Memories tend to fade, but my years in Appalachia stand out, the people still as vivid as when I first met them. So naturally, as a professional writer, I often mused about capturing their stories in fiction. Only I didn’t. I kept putting it off for so many (stupid) reasons.
It wasn’t until I moved away to Washington, D.C. to pursue my magazine-writing career that my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries began to percolate. Maybe because I didn’t move alone. All those colorful mountain folks moved right along with me and wouldn’t give me any peace until I wrote their stories.
Pundits say “write what you know,” so I started the first book, A Life for a Life, with me in the guise of Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter who escaped Washington, D.C. for the N.C. mountains, where she ran a general store modeled after a store I once owned. I flip-flopped our histories a bit, but otherwise Della and I have a lot in common. (Full disclosure: I was never a crime journalist, and no one ever pointed a gun at me; the offbeat artists I profiled were about as wild as things got.)
Some of my favorite mountain friends and neighbors morphed into my fictional characters. Cleva Hall, Della’s best friend, was fashioned after a generous (in body and spirit) woman who taught me how to can tomatoes and make blackberry jam. Elbert Tutherow, the gentle giant of a beekeeper, really did say to me every time I stopped by for honey, “Come on in. I know it looks like we’re moving, but we’re not. We’re here to stay.” His front porch was permanently stacked with what looked like the dregs of many a yard sale. The longer I lived in Appalachia, the more I understood that when things were that hard to come by, they were even harder to part with.
For the setting, I fictionalized Linville Falls into Laurel Falls and borrowed real places like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt. Pisgah Inn, and Campbell Folk School. I don’t have the space here to share how much I loved that school and what all I discovered there (including my love of writing). I set the second book, The Roads to Damascus, at the school and gave a cameo to its two fine cooks. They really were “a couple of wildcats,” but they baked like angels, including the apple nut cake Abit’s mother bakes in the first book. They were kind enough to share that recipe with me (something mountain cooks rarely did), and now I like to pay it forward by sharing the recipe too:
Back then, all kinds of characters were attracted to the Campbell Folk School, so it wasn’t unusual to have a mother and her two children show up, asking for refuge. They worked their way into our hearts with the saddest story about needing a place for the mother to die. We supported them however we could—companionship, food, money. We even hosted a benefit bluegrass concert for them.
But it was all a big con.
A few months later, the trio skipped town, stealing something far more valuable than the worldly goods we’d given them. Young and naïve, I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around their flawless scheme—but I sure enjoyed exacting my own kind of revenge when I made them the villains in The Roads to Damascus.
My favorite character—Abit Bradshaw, fictional son of Vester Bradshaw—never lived in North Carolina, at least not on our earthly plane. I had no idea he existed until the day he showed up while I was writing. I found I liked spending time with Abit so much, I kept writing scenes for him. And when the reviews came in? Readers told me they couldn’t wait to meet Abit again. That’s why he takes the lead in The Roads to Damascus and shares top billing with Della in the third book, Welcome the Little Children.
Along the way, Abit has taught me so much. Especially the epiphany he has at the end of the second book. I was as surprised as Della when Abit shared how he plans to live the rest of his life. In fact, what he discovered continues to inspire me—every day. You may scoff and say, “Well, of course you know all that—you made it up.” But actually, no; I really hadn’t seen life quite that way—until Abit showed me.
Writing is funny that way. The most interesting things come up and out of somewhere deep inside when you start writing. I don’t know why it works that way, but the act of writing unlocks amazing treasures. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I think you’ll enjoy my free novelette, Waiting for You. I’ve pulled back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls. You’ll discover how Abit lost hope of ever having a meaningful life and why Della had to leave Washington, D.C. Your free copy is waiting for you at
About the author:
I've been writing for a long time, and I've loved (almost) every minute of it. My career got its start in an unlikely place—a town of 200 people. I worked at the Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, where I wrote newsletters and press releases, articles and ads. Once I saw my first published article, I was hooked.

I’ve gone on to write more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters, and dozens of blogs. I'm proudest of the 18 books I’ve written, including my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Series. The way I see it, books are to writers what pentathlons are to athletes: endurance.​

For the past 10 years, I've also enjoyed serving as a writing coach to clients who wanted to write well at work and on their own books. Like my client Larry Gildersleeve, author of Dancing Alone Without Music, who told his alumni newspaper, College Heights Herald, that I "converted him from professional business writing to creative fiction." I learn a lot from my clients, too, and together we're bringing our writing dreams to fruition.


  1. Thanks for sharing Debbie. I enjoyed Lynda's visit. I have read quite a few books set in the Appalachian Mountains so this appeals.

    1. I thought the same thing Kim. Thanks for stopping by

  2. Thanks, Kimberly. I'm glad you enjoyed my musings about an amazing time in my life. It was quite a while ago, and yet the experience is still so vivid. Just last week, I discovered that one of the Renaissance musical instrument makers I met back then is still thriving. It was a thrill, all over again.
    All the best,

    1. That must have been quite a thrill Lynda. I can relate a bit as I enjoy learning the backgrounds of my favorite bluegrass artists and many come from this area. Thanks for sharing your story with us :)

  3. It must be fun for a writer to create a new series and feel like they are "real". Oh yes, green wood no good at all at least until the next season.

    1. I really enjoyed a look into the creation of this seres Kathryn. Thanks for commenting!

  4. This sounds really good. I've read a few books from Appalachia. I really enjoy visiting the area. Thanks for sharing.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

    1. Yeah I love the characters from this area of the country Melanie, so colorful