By Debbie Adams
dadams@ourvalley.org

Three local authors and an illustrator from Buchanan-based SDC Publishing, LLC, will set up booths at this year’s Vinton Dogwood Festival on April 27: mystery and suspense novelist Dr. L. Lincoln Clark, artist and illustrator Holly Clary, author of fantasy Suzanne Barron, and SDC Publishing founder Allen Mahon, who also writes historical fiction.

Cutline for Dogwood authors photo # 1 (by Debbie Adams): Three local authors and an illustrator from SDC Publishing, LLC, will be setting up booths at the Vinton Dogwood Festival to sign and sell their books and talk with budding authors about joining the SDC family. Shown left to right are illustrator Holly Clary, author and founder of SDC Publishing Al Mahon, and author Dr. L. Lincoln Clark.

Visitors to the Dogwood Festival are invited to stop by their booths, take a look at their books, chat, and purchase a book (or several), which they will sign. Mahon will be available to talk with budding (or established) authors and illustrators who might like to join the SDC Publishing family.

Clark has written a trilogy of suspense novels— “Inherit the Wind,” “Inherit the Land,” and “Inherit the Blessing”— based on a continuing cast of characters. “Inherit the Wind” opens with a pregnant Virginia, running for her life, pursued by her evil sister-in-law who wishes to inherit the family fortune. She falls in love with a crotchety author who assists in her rescue.

That lays the foundation for “Inherit the Land.” The two marry but tragedy strikes once again. When their son is kidnapped, they search for him with the assistance of an FBI agent. Virginia ends up kidnapped as well.

Clark includes many twists and turns in her novels. In “Inherit the Blessing” readers discover that Virginia is pregnant once again, but unsure if the father is her husband or the FBI agent. There’s a court battle before the series reaches its conclusion— at least Clark is pretty sure this is the concluding novel in the series. Not to give away any secrets, but Clark consulted with her own physician on how to humanely bring resolution to the illness of one character from the series.

In between books two and three, Clark took time to write “Maddy and Me” about two teenage girls growing up in the 1960s— set in a small town very similar to Vinton. Clark says it is also “loosely autobiographical,” based on antics and adventures with her best friend. There’s a trip to see the Beatles in Washington, D.C., concerts at Victory Stadium, and learning to play the clarinet.

Clark has lived most of her life in Vinton and graduated from William Byrd. She and her husband and “best supporter” David (Bill) Clark have been married for 45 years. She taught World History to 14- and 15-year-olds for most of her 34-year career in education at Hidden Valley Middle and High Schools.

She says she wrote poetry and short stories earlier in life but spent her teaching career doing a different type of writing with lesson plans and history lessons.

Clark is Mahon’s first published author. They met through the Lions Club. He commiserated with her about a bad experience she had in publishing the first edition of “Inherit the Wind.” They ended up collaborating on a second edition of the book, which was published in 2017, and have worked together ever since. Clark said, “Al takes great pride in the works he publishes, reads every manuscript, and tells the authors how to make their work better.”

Holly Clary is an elementary art teacher. She spent several years as a classroom teacher and now teaches art at Breckinridge, Eagle Rock, and Buchanan Elementary schools in Botetourt County.

Providentially, she taught with author and reading specialist Rhonda McDonald, who had worked with Mahon and SDC. McDonald was looking for an illustrator for her new children’s book, “Fables from the North,” and asked if Clary would be interested in taking on the task.

The book retells fables set in the Arctic, populated with orcas, puffins, musk oxen, polar bears, and a majestic moose, beautifully drawn by Clary.  She read McDonald’s work; created a PowerPoint of reference images after much research; sketched out the 30+ preliminary drawings on the manuscript; then collaborated with McDonald to fine tune the images.

Clary says this is her first work as an illustrator and she had no idea what a time-consuming process it would be, possibly “the biggest project” she has ever taken on. Illustrating was on her “bucket list” but she had no idea the opportunity would come so soon.

She began working on the project over summer vacation and made good progress, but things slowed down when school started again– but she persevered and met her deadline.

Her procedure is to make a pencil sketch, fill in with a layered watercolor technique, and then add details with colored pencils. She repainted the first illustration in the book that involves the aurora borealis possibly 14 times looking for perfection before learning to pace herself.

Clary will be signing and selling copies of “Fables of the North” at the Dogwood Festival. She will also be selling her art prints of landscapes, animals, and nature. She does art on consignment as well.

Suzanne Barron writes fantasy. Her young-adult fantasy novel “Wings of Time: Breaking Darkness,” the first of a trilogy, is set around and underneath Fairy Stone Lake in Patrick County.

The story begins as 18-year-old Hallie O’Meara travels from her home on the Eastern Store to her first summer job at Fairy Stone State Park. She meets the mysterious Liam White and they begin a romance. The plot also involves moonshining, bootlegging, corruption, prejudice, and the iron mines in the area. Barron is a nurse practitioner with Carilion specializing in women’s health.

Al Mahon founded SDC Publishing after “my first novel with an independent publisher, came close to costing me $3,000. I wanted to offer a less expensive way to publish books for myself and for other authors.”

He writes historical fiction, but also non-fiction works and has published a biography of a World War II hero, “Ned’s Journey,” turned into prose from the notes of Ned Daugherty’s daughter.

His latest is a series of books documenting the McEwan family’s saga across the milestones of American history. “The Footlocker: Book 1 Discoveries and Beginnings” introduces a modern-day Vietnam veteran and short story writer who inherits an old farmhouse after the death of his father. In exploring the home, he finds an attic full of family journals and diaries dating back to the French and Indian War. Mahon will continue the series with novels on that war, the American Revolution, the journey of Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and more.

He says that he has a folder on his desktop labeled “books in the womb” with a myriad of ideas for future works.

Mahon and his wife Randee, who handles the financial aspects of the publishing business, live in Buchanan.

Mahon says the thrill of publishing his own book and holding it in his hands for the first time is an experience he is eager for other authors and illustrators to feel. He says most authors “do a dance when they hold their first published copy of their work.”

The consensus of the group is that success in writing is putting your emotions down in words so that a complete stranger experiences those same emotions when reading your work— that’s the payback.

SDC currently represents seven authors and three illustrators— people he thinks of more as a family than a business— “people you would be friends with anyway.”

SDC Publishing will be setting up in two booths at the Dogwood Festival in downtown Vinton on April 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information on SDC Publishing, LLC, is available at www.sdcpublishingllc.com/.

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