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Local murder-mystery author Amanda McKinney has been very busy in recent years and is about to publish her sixth book.

She started by publishing "Lethal Legacy" in 2017. After that, she had a three-book series based in the fictional town of Berry Springs, Arkansas: "The Woods, The Lake, and The Storm."

Her most recent book is "Devil's Gold," the first in what will be known as the "Black Rose Mystery Series."

That's five books altogether -- five and counting. The second "Black Rose Mystery" will be available this spring.

McKinney left an earlier career to be a stay-at-home mom and an author.

She took a very disciplined approach to her writing ("I write every day, no matter what," she said) and, by all appearances, her hard work is paying off.

Her books feature suspenseful murder mysteries that have hints of fear, a bedrock of intrigue and characters who sometimes give in to passions in the midst of life's circumstances.

"I'm a sucker for a good murder-mystery," McKinney said. "When I write a book, my number one goal is to make the reader feel a mix of emotions -- fear, anticipation, surprise, lust; you name it. If he, or she, goes to bed thinking about my book, or stays up all night just to finish it, I've done my job."

"The Woods" was one such example. It featured archaeologist Dr. Katie Somers, who returned to her home town in Arkansas only to find herself way too close to two murders.

At times, she really did not know who to trust, and neither does the reader. One must simply keep reading to find out who is really innocent in the middle of all the investigations.

It was quite a lot for a little place called Berry Springs. But it could have been in almost any small Arkansas town.

"The Woods" is only one of her books but, according to reviews, all of McKinney's stories keep the reader immersed.

So what is it that occurs on the inside of an author so that he or she can create stories that keep people interested?

In McKinney's case, at least, a few things came together to form the necessary drive.

First, she said she has always been a reader. She had a passion for reading and that passion evolved into wanting to write.

She also loves the creative flow that is a part of writing. It happens to artists. It happens in architecture, it happens in crafts and woodworking and in any number of things. It happens with writers too.

"I get to create characters out of thin air," she said, "and build a story around them. I create their strengths, their weaknesses, their physical appearance, their pasts and present. It's so much fun! Shaping characters is one of my favorite parts of writing."

But no writer can simply sit around and wait for inspiration to strike from somewhere beyond the stars.

It still takes a disciplined approach, even when creativity comes in abundance. McKinney said she keeps a good schedule, blocking off time specifically for writing.

It keeps her productive, and it also keeps her tapped into her creativity.

But in any true success story, there are always people who have contributed to what a person becomes, people who have been a great influence in shaping a person's work ethic or circumstances or pathos.

At times, there is one person who seems to stand out above all the others. And in McKinney's case, it was her mother.

"I wouldn't have taken that first step, written that first word, without the support and gentle push of my mom at my back," she said. "She wholeheartedly believed in me and my talent and, because of that, I'm currently writing my sixth book, with many, many more to come."

A person can look at the ingredients of McKinney's experiences and find encouragement as it applies to his own.

Or a person can get a copy of one of her latest novels (on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Apple iBooks) and perhaps find enjoyment and emotional awakening simply in the reading.

Or a person could perhaps do both, because writers have the ability -- with their personal stories as well as their created stories -- to connect with us, move us and, yes, even inspire us.

• • •

David Wilson, Ed.D., of Springdale, is a writer and teacher at heart. His book, "Learning Every Day," includes several of his columns and is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. He may be contacted by email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Local author to publish sixth book

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