Updated: Jan 14, 2019
It's been a while since I wrote. I've been busy preparing Welcome the Little Children, the third book in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries trilogy, for publication this month. (I've posted a mock-up of the cover to the left—and a synopsis below.)
As I worked with Abit Bradshaw on this third book, I often found myself thinking about his revelation in the second book, The Roads to Damascus. When he's in Virginia admiring the wild ponies at Mount Rogers, he tells Della about his new religion—be kind. Simple to say, but not so easy to live up to.
That revelation appeared from somewhere bigger than me. (Writing is wonderful that way.) As I try to practice it, time and again I find myself agreeing with Abit—it's a deceptively simple commandment that's difficult to describe, let alone practice. Sure, we all know about the obvious kindnesses—flowers on a birthday, carrying someone's groceries to her door, paying compliments, and so on. But dig a little deeper, and kindness gets much harder to define.
For example, is it kind to complain? Most of us think of complaining as something to avoid. But let's say you go to a restaurant, and you find the chef's food too salty. Is it kind to send the food back? I can imagine some might say it's better to keep quiet—besides, maybe it's your taste buds. But that silence could eventually mean the chef goes out of business without ever having a chance to remedy her heavy-handed salt habit. That doesn't sound kind to me.
Is it kind to overlook the fact that someone isn't following the rules of an organization, perhaps because they create an inconvenience or hardship? While that may sound kind, what about all the people in the organization who are following the rules? Many may experience inconveniences or hardships because of this so-called kindness. Add in the question of motivation—are we telling ourselves we're being kind when really we're avoiding confrontation, i.e., cowardice masquerading as kindness?—and things get even stickier.
See what I mean? Kindness is not black-and-white easy.
The "be kind" issue threads its way throughout Welcome the Little Children. In the third book of the trilogy, Abit grapples with kindness issues involving family and relationships coupled with his own needs; Della confronts the deeper aspects of kindness when dealing with grief and revenge. When you read the book, you can make your own decision about what's right or wrong—and see how Della and Abit dealt with these thorny issues.
I've often thought this third book would be my last book of fiction. It's hard being an indie author—and even harder to find an agent and publisher. But my decision isn't final. Something doesn't feel quite right about it, especially when I think how long writing has been a vital way for me to get in touch with deep-seated issues and ideas. Writing, especially fiction, brings up so much gold that might otherwise go unmined. And besides, I'd miss Abit. Odd as it may sound, fictional characters often feel like friends and serve as spirit guides in authors' lives.
Whatever, being kind is something I'm going to keep working at. I bet you agree that our current rough-and-tumble world could use a lot more of it.
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Synopsis of Welcome the Little Children
The much-anticipated third book in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries trilogy by award-winning author Lynda McDaniel explores the mysteries and power of family, mothers and children.
*** What Defines Family? DNA or Kindness?
Life hasn’t finished throwing challenges at Abit Bradshaw and Della Kincaid. In the trilogy’s third book, they meet Astrid, a sprite of a girl whose mother has disappeared from her isolated mountain home. When Abit and Della get entangled in the investigation, they are forced to face the complexities of their own families, questioning long-held beliefs and certainties. This story celebrates friends and family, both the ones we are dealt and the ones we choose.
*** Unexpected Consequences
Once again, Abit faces a wide range of human experiences with grace, compassion, and humor. His authentic voice rings true as he rectifies wrongs and tackles transgressions. When he’s faced with a decision that could cost him everything he holds dear, he goes deep within to find the right answers.