From the Writing Mind of Donna Cummins/ Book 3 in The Blacklick Valley Mystery Series–ANGUISH

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I was born (and raised) in a tiny little village in southern Indiana County, Pennsylvania, called Dilltown. I was News Editor of my high school newspaper, The Blue and White Star, and a cheerleader for five years at United, Co-Captain my senior year, as well as a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Yearbook Staff, Chorus, and May Day. United High was such a large part of my life and provided a firm foundation for future endeavors.
In senior year I was awarded a partial academic scholarship from the Mack Foundation which paved the way for my attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana. At IUP, for some odd reason, I majored in Business Education, although English, particularly creative writing, was always my first love. My goal at that time was to become a teacher and, in fact, did teach for a number of years. In college I curtailed my social activities somewhat, spending a lot of my time studying (in order to make Dean’s List each semester and maintain my scholarship) as well as enjoying my newfound freedom.

My books, RAIN OF TERROR and A REASON TO KILL, are both mysteries. Although I have dubbed them The Blacklick Valley Mystery Series, they could each be considered ‘stand-alone’ books. My first book, RAIN OF TERROR, is a mystery/thriller, and the second, A REASON TO KILL, is a mystery/romantic suspense. Although each is based upon a different set of characters, I consider them a ‘series’ because they are both set primarily in the area of Indiana County. RAIN OF TERROR was written to emphasize the vulnerability of our children in today’s society, and A REASON TO KILL was written to bring attention to the horrific crime of domestic violence and the victimization of women.

The books are based in Indiana County…Some of my fondest and saddest, most fearful and most passionate, emotions come from those days of impetuous youth, the commitments of marriage, the responsibilities of parenthood, and the joys and heartaches that result from each. Indiana and Cambria Counties were the settings for all of those life experiences.
Looking back from my current perspective, I think that Indiana County must be one of the most beautiful and intriguing areas in the country. God did not spare His palette of color or design when he painted western Pennsylvania. From the emergence of the first purple crocus through the snow in springtime to the warm and gentle days of summer to the mountainsides painted in shades of red and orange and yellow in autumn to the silent beauty of snowflakes falling on a winter night, I can’t imagine a better canvas to paint a story upon.

As you read you will discover that many of these places are not necessarily in Indiana County but would be familiar to people who live there.

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Conemaugh Lake, Conemaugh River, Conemaugh Gap, Chesapeake Mountain, Route 22, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Green Gables Restaurant, Mountain Playhouse, Vintondale, Monongahela River, Allegheny River, Nittany Lions, Penn State, Heinz Field, Allegheny Mountains, Pennsylvania State Police, Greensburg, Latrobe, Squirrel Hill Tunnel, Appalachian Mountains, Juniata River, and Carnegie Tech. Dilltown is fictionalized as ‘Hillton’ and ; ‘Evanstown’ is a mix of Ebensburg and Johnstown. I call WJAC-TV, ‘WJAK-TV’.

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The primary setting in this book is called ‘Waverly’ which is based entirely upon the town of Indiana, PA. My ‘Waverly College’ is based exclusively on IUP. Anyone familiar with those settings will instantly recognize many references from Philadelphia Avenue to South Sixth Street, from The Oak Grove to the Student Union to John Sutton Hall to Phi Mu Sorority and Sig Ep Fraternity on IUP’s campus. Other references include Shawnee Lake, Conemaugh Lake, Blairsville, Dubois, Route 119, Jeanette, Greensburg, Armagh, Seward, Blair County, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Mountains, Johnstown, Route 22, Pittsburgh Pirates, Hershey, Allegheny National Forest, Pittsburgh International Airport, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Johnstown, Wolf Furniture, Galleria Mall–even the Hillton (Dilltown) Baptist Church and the Waverly (Indiana) Country Club. Also, my fictional ski resort in Aspen is based upon my personal knowledge of Seven Springs Ski Resort.

Writing is first and foremost an emotional outlet for me. Secondly, I write mysteries, in particular, because of the challenge involved–it’s like working a complex puzzle. You have to set up and develop your characters so that they are believable and ones that your reader can relate to; then you must set the stage in a realistic way; ah…the plot–the most difficult part–the questions, the clues, the twists and turns, the suspense, the final revelations, the challenge of bringing it all together. It gives you a rush!

Book 3 in The Blacklick Valley Mystery Series which I plan to entitle ANGUISH….has arrived…                                          Now available in both print and eBook on Amazon.

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After this, my next project will be a collection of short stories and essays–something with a little different flavor. I also expect to put all three books out in audio format as soon as I can find the time.

MYSTERY LOVERS! Get ready for a thrill ride! So much intrigue and suspense for so little money as you are challenged to untangle the web of mystery….

RAIN OF TERROR (Book 1): Enter Blacklick Valley at your own risk–the tale will chill you to the bone.

A REASON TO KILL (Book 2): You’ll feel the pain of domestic violence up close and personal.

ANGUISH (Book 3 – NEW RELEASE! & sequel to RAIN OF TERROR): A haunting tale out of your worst nightmares where darkness never ends….



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