My New Book—and Writers Club

My New Book—and Writers Club

11/21/2020

It's that time of year when we give extra thought to all that we're grateful for. I've got a long list, including your support, the success of the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series, my long writing career, and a new puppy (who's stopped biting so much! ;-).

Book 5 Update

Last time I wrote, I promised a Book 5 update. I don't want to give away too much, but as mentioned at the end of Murder Ballad Blues, Abit and his family do, indeed, head across the pond to Ireland and England. Abit leaves his family in Dublin, where Fiona's relatives now live, and travels to England to see Nigel Steadman, who's living in Hampshire near the New Forest. 

Just the mention of Nigel's name and I bet you you're already expecting trouble. Well, you're not wrong. That bloke seems to wreak havoc wherever he goes!

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Dagnabbit, Those Characters Are Interesting!

Dagnabbit, Those Characters Are Interesting!

08/10/2020

"Characters come alive quickly and get you into their lives with suspense and a great storyline." — L. Jubb

I loved that review because the characters in my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries are the most important part for me. Maybe because I spend all day with them, day after day for months! Here's how they come to me.

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"Murder Ballad Blues" ARC

06/18/2020

I’m happy to report that the fourth book in my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series, Murder Ballad Blues, is in its Advance Reader Copy phase—copies going out to reviewers this week and next. Get ready for another adventure through the mountains of North Carolina (and Kentucky). Abit risks his life in search of a serial killer, locking horns with the local sheriff and the FBI. That’s right—Abit and the FBI ...

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The Real House on the Hill in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries

The Real House on the Hill in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries

05/12/2020

The old house in Hanging Dog, N.C., had an unsettling resemblance to the one overlooking the Bates Motel (though I may be exaggerating with this photo!). We’d moved there when a legal dispute forced us off the land we’d contracted to live on near the Beaverdam community in the N.C. mountains.

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The Real Mildred Bradshaw Behind the Mystery Character

The Real Mildred Bradshaw Behind the Mystery Character

05/12/2020

"That pie ain't never seen no oven," my real-life neighbor, the one I based Abit's mother on in A Life for a Life, said to me as we sat across from each other at a restaurant. Her mouth was full of strawberry pie and whipped cream. Not a pretty sight, and a moment that stung.

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The Real Elbert Totherow Behind the Mystery Character

05/12/2020

"Come on in,” Elbert Totherow said with a voice that could compete against a bullhorn. “I know it looks like we’re moving, but we’re not. We’re here to stay.”

The real man was just as kind as the Elbert Totherow in A Life for a Life. He was a gentle giant who reassured me every time I visited that he’d be there the next time I needed to refill my four-gallon pail of honey.

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How Mystery Characters Are Born

How Mystery Characters Are Born

05/12/2020

Now, don’t laugh, but Abit Bradshaw—a lead character in all four books of the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series, well, I think of him as my boy. Seriously. I (somehow) conjured him, reared him, and now I'm marveling at what a fine young man he's become. I vividly recall the first time he showed up in my writing. I had no idea he was about to make the scene. He just popped into the story and wormed his way into my heart.

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Those Con Artists Were Real!

05/12/2020

It's been more than 30 years, but I vividly remember where I was when I learned I’d been swindled by some pretty impressive con artists. At the time, I worked at the Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. (Abit Bradshaw’s The Hicks—or more formally the Hickson School of American Studies—is loosely modeled after this wonderful school.) Back then, all kinds of people were attracted to the school, so it wasn’t that unusual to see a mother and her two children show up, asking for refuge.

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What About All That Food?

What About All That Food?

05/06/2020

I’m a card-carrying foodie, so it’s not surprising food plays a supporting role in all my novels. The inspiration for those scenes comes from eclectic sources ranging from Appalachian neighbors, a Danish folk school, and one of my favorite restaurants in Washington, D.C.

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The Real Myrtle Ledford

The Real Myrtle Ledford

04/24/2020

Myrtle was every bit as nice as the character she inspired in my first mystery novel A Life for a Life. Maybe nicer. I liked her so much, I brought her back in the fourth book, Murder Ballad Blues, launching September 2020.

She was the perfect example of how mountain folks could be amazingly generous to others, but often felt uncomfortable when favors came their way. “Hey, we’re just happy to help out,” I said. “You’ve had us over and given us all kinds of food you put up. And Roy’s moonshine.”

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