It’s Monday and my legs are so sore I can hardly walk. Yesterday’s ten-mile hike over rugged terrain probably wasn’t a good idea. Of course, my fifteen-year-old son Cole, and twelve-year-old daughter Emma, managed it like it was something they did every day. I did have enough foresight to leave my adopted two-year-old, Ivy, with a sitter.
That’s why I’m taking her to the office with me today. Guilt. Pure and simple. Although she adores her sitter, Doretha Andrews, she’s happiest when she’s glued to my side. Maybe it’s, even in her short life, the buried memory of finding her mother dead that drives the need to cling to a security blanket, otherwise known as my hip.
Whatever the reason, here she is. Toddling around the office of the Jackson Creek Chronicle like it’s her second home. There are certainly days I feel as if it’s my second home. As the owner and publisher of the town’s only newspaper, those days are more frequent than not. My small staff and I cover everything from who made honor roll to the Jackson Creek Town Council meetings. And of course, the occasional murder.
Nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains, Jackson Creek boasts of its small-town quaintness and gorgeous fall foliage in glossy travel brochures. But being that I make a living uncovering truths, I know first-hand the secrets buried in the hollers and hills of the small North Carolina town have led to broken hearts, broken families, and even murder. Often, in small towns like Jackson Creek, those truths involve friends and neighbors, and on occasion, family.
At the newspaper office, Ivy toddles over to her wooden crate filled with secondhand toys while I check voicemail for messages. She has her own designated corner complete with a pack-n-play for naps and enough toys to hold her interest in ten minute intervals.
Message Received at 7:35 A.M.: Hey Ava, this is Doris Compton. Was just wondering if you’d do a little something in the paper about my granddaughter’s dance recital. It’s this Saturday at the high school. Thank you.
Message 7:18 A.M.: Uh, yeah, Pudge Collins here. One of my beagles ran off last night. Wanted to see if you could put something in the paper. Like a lost and found or something.
Message 7:10 A.M: Hi, Ava, this is Dr. Stevens office calling to remind you of Emma’s dentist appointment on Thursday.
Why did they call the office and not my personal phone? Despite what people believed, they weren’t interchangeable.
Message 6:50 A.M.: Yeah, this is Tiny Cormack, Mack’s Metals. Need to change my ad. Call me.
Message 5:10 A.M.: Hang up
Message 4:30 A.M.: (gruff voice) Why ain’t y’all open? A real paper’d be open 24-hours a day.
Message 2:18 A.M.: (same gruff voice) So, yeah. . .um. . .there’s a news story for you out on Miller’s Pond Road.
Message 1:45 A.M.: (same gruff voice) I’d like to report a murder.
You can read more about Ava in TELL ME NO LIES, the first book in the NEW Ava Logan mystery series.
Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.
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About the author
Lynn Chandler Willis has worked in the corporate world, the television industry, and owned a small-town newspaper (much like Ava Logan). She’s lived in North Carolina her entire life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Her novel, Shamus-Award finalist, Wink of an Eye, (Minotaur, 2014) won the SMP/PWA Best 1st P.I. Novel competition, making her the first woman in a decade to win the national contest. Her debut novel, The Rising, (Harbourlight, 2013) won the Grace Award for Excellence in Faith-based Fiction. Tell Me No Lies is the first title in the Ava Logan Mystery Series with Henery Press.
All comments are welcomed.
Tell Me No Lies is available at retail and online booksellers.