Interview with Lynda McDaniel
Tell us about your latest book.
A Life for a Life is set in the mountains of North Carolina, where I spent 15 years living on a farm and later in town. The mystery starts when a young woman is found dead in a wilderness area of those same mountains. The sheriff says suicide; Della Kincaid disagrees. A former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to hunt down the real story—but she's now living in Laurel Falls, N.C., where she's trying to create a new life for herself. Without her usual sources, she turns to an unlikely cast of characters—friends, customers, ex-husband, and forger. With their help, she uncovers how unbridled greed has spawned a series of crimes and sorrows. Along the way, Kincaid discovers what the Appalachian landscape and people mean to her.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Interestingly, it took me almost a decade to write, though not because I was working on it all that time. A couple of factors slowed my progress:
1) I’d been writing this autobiographical novel for a couple of years when I hit a wall. The book just wasn’t exciting to me anymore. I set it aside for a year or so, and that’s when one of the characters, Abit Bradshaw, told me he needed to have a bigger role in the book. I listened to him, and I started writing again, with gusto.
2) The second big motivator involved an epiphany about the lasting effects of my Appalachian experience. It wasn’t that long ago that I realized that everything that’s important to me today—writing, nature, hiking, birds, bluegrass music, environmental issues—all started during my 15 years living in Appalachia. Once I understood this book was as much about honoring the people who made my life so rich as the storyline, the writing went much faster.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I’m exploring some traditional methods such a press releases and bookmarks along with social media, virtual book tours, and e-mail subscribers. Goodreads and Amazon currently figure into my marketing, and I plan to expand to other online retailers, libraries, and some brick-and-mortar stores.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write. I don’t mean that to sound glib, but as a writing coach, I hear a lot about ideas and not as much about the actual writing. “But I’m so busy,” many say. Sure, we all are, but you can honestly write as few as 200 words a day on a regular basis, and by the end of the year, you’ll have a book. Capture your great ideas (they’re precious and ephemeral) and spin them into written stories. For nonfiction writers, you can write a blog every two weeks, and before you know it, you have a lot of chapters for a book, especially if you plan your blogs based on your book’s proposed table of contents.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I had one of those flashbulb moments that I recall as vividly today as when it happened some 40 years ago. I was on my lunch hour at my first job (a boring dead-end one), looking around a bookstore. I picked up a small, remaindered book, “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene, and I was immediately struck by the beauty of his writing. It awoke my love for the written word (and I’ve read it at least five times since). Five years later, I started writing professionally. That’s when I moved to a town of 200 people in the mountains of N.C. Not a likely place for career development, but the director of an Appalachian craft school there asked me if I’d like to learn P.R. I should have asked what that was (I was awfully young!), but instead I said sure. She taught me how to write articles, and I’ve gone on to write more than 1,200 articles for major magazines and 15 books.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
“Your subconscious mind does more writing than you think. ...While you slept, your writer’s mind didn’t. To some extent, a writer is always working.” William Zinsser, “On Writing Well”
I love that quote because it helps me realize that I’m not alone in my writing practice. My subconscious is alongside me, offering insights and inspiration. For instance, I pay close to attention to that liminal time when I first awake. I’m still warm under the covers, and I let my mind wander. It’s amazing what bubbles up. This is when I got the idea for a 900-word article that led to more than $40,000 in writing assignments, including two book deals from a Hawaiian publisher.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Getting to express thoughts and ideas in ways that inspire others. I’ve been a nonfiction writer for much of my career, and I’ve interviewed dozens of people—from artists and entrepreneurs to business leaders and community activists—and helped share their message and mission with a wider audience. I believe their stories have made a meaningful difference in readers’ lives. Later in my career, I also wrote several books about how to write with confidence and creativity. It felt so good to share what I’ve learned the hard way—so my readers and clients can learn an easier way.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My profile and books are on my website www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com, as well as my Amazon Author Page (http://amzn.to/2dY1mq9) and my Goodreads profile (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/543633.Lynda_McDaniel ).
Where can a reader purchase your book?
Amazon and Kindle for now. http://amzn.to/2bEec0Z
By the end of the year, I plan to expand to other online retailers, libraries, and brick-and-mortar stores.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m working on the sequel to A Life for a Life, which will be the second book in the series. Abit—who now prefers to be called V.J.—leaves home to attend school. He meets a lot of new people, including some unsavory folks who frame him for a financial crime he had no part in. Needless to say, Della helps him get out the jam. Along the way, V.J. explores the American South on his own and discovers a big, new world.