Guest Tonya Kappes: The life changing actions the pandemic gifted me

Hey readers! Liz here, happy to welcome our dear friend Tonya Kappes, author of the Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery Series back to the blog. Today she’s talking about finding the silver lining in the pandemic cloud…take it away, Tonya!

Y’all, this is some very uncertain times and as a writer who is an extrovert, this whole social distancing thing has been a huge learning curve to me as well as me as a writer. 

It all started a couple of years ago really. No. Not social distancing or the virus, the extrovert writer realizing that she’s actually an introvert. In case you’d not guessed, I’m talking about me, the girl who was awarded the senior award of MOST TALKATIVE. Mmmhmmm…that girl. 

I’ve always fancied myself as an extrovert. Ask anyone who has met me in person, but a couple of years ago I started find peace in nature. We’d rented a camper and did a great it of traveling as well as rented a lot of cabins in the woods. 

After each trip, I found myself in my she-shed (yes, I had a she-shed) writing away in a new series, A CAMPER & CRIMINALS COZY MYSTERY SERIES that was set deep in the Daniel Boone National Park, which is a place I’m very well acquainted with. The park is Kentucky, which is where I live and all of my novels are set. It was no surprise to me when I sat down to write the first word of the series: “A campground?”, that it had to be in the Daniel Boone National Park. 

A million times over I’ve heard different advice from various writers. One that stuck with me is write what you know. I’ve also heard from other writers that this is terrible advice. But it stuck with me. So a couple of years ago, I started to write what I know. 

1. how to write a mystery

2. make the setting of the new series in the Daniel Boone National Park

3. put the sleuth in a camper

Also at that time my cover artist had made some adorable camper covers and it was like fate! I gobbled up the covers and so started the journey of Mae West (no not the actress) and The Laundry Club Ladies. 

Just a little background if you’ve not read the series, Mae married a man with the last name West. The Laundry Club Ladies are a group of local women who like to gather at the local laundromat and of course they have all the gossip in town.

I found myself having so much fun writing this cozy sleuth and this series, that I began to spend more and more time in their world. We started taking more and more trips. Though I’d already known a lot about camping since my parents took me as a child and I raised four boys, so camping was part of our lives. Which my boys are all in their 20’s and out of the house. 

Still…I knew it was a fun cozy mystery series. Then this whole camping lifestyle hit, making the series take off. I’m so grateful for it but there’s been so much I’ve realized about myself writing in the series.

I love nature. Through Covid-19, I sold our family home (yes, I had to leave the she-shed) and bought eight wooded acres in the mountains in Kentucky. We are building on the property, but in the meantime, I also bought an adorable travel trailer camper, which means, I turned into the she-camper! My new office on the property!

Though Covid -19 is nothing anyone of us wanted (which me and my son both had it), we all had to take what we got and live with it. That meant hitting the road several times to get in more national parks, not just the Daniel Boone National Park and having a few of our grown boys to join us along the way. 

Oh, and the writing gig, the camper has been so inspiring that I’m writing over 5,000 words a day and happy to say I just released the 12th book in the series. 

Oh yeah…one last thing I’ve learned, that extroverted girl is mostly introverted and I’m good with that. 


About the book:

Deep in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Mae West has spent the last few years bringing the rundown Happy Trails Campground and the small southern and cozy town of Normal, Kentucky back to a thriving economic community. Mae’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Not only is Happy Trails Campground in the running to be named Campground Hospitality of the Daniel Boone National Park, but she landed the coveted Paddle Fest kayak competition that secures the winner a spot on the Olympic team. When champion and Olympian kayaker Bryce Anderson turns over in his kayak dead…there’s more than paddling going on and his death has been ruled a homicide. News of Bryce’s death spreads fast and Happy Trails becomes the center of bad publicity. Come camping with Mae West and the Laundry Club Ladies as they put their sleuthing, well nosy, caps on and put their skills to the test so they can figure out who killed the Olympian and save Happy Trails from financial ruin.

All books in the series are FREE with #KindleUnlimited

New to A CAMPER & CRIMINALS COZY MYSTERIES series? WELCOME TO NORMAL, KENTUCKY. . .WHERE NOTHIN’ IS NORMAL! To start from the beginning, pick up the first in the series, Beaches, Bungalows, & Burglaries. Happy sleuthing! 🕵️

And be sure to sign up for Tuesday Coffee Chat with Tonya where you will get recipes, giveaways and newsletter only exclusives.

Thanks Tonya! Readers, are you into camping? She-sheds? Tonya’s books? Leave us a comment below!

14 Thoughts

  1. I grew up tent camping in Sequoia National Park with my family every summer, and also camped a lot with girl scouts closer to home in the Pasadena area. These days I’m not sure I could get up from an air mattress on the ground, but a camping cabin or your darling trailer would do just fine! There’s nothing like waking up in the brisk fresh air and starting the morning fire or camp stove. I approve of your series premise!

  2. Best of luck with the new release. I’ve been a fan of this series for a while although Amazon just informed me that I never read book 1 – I fixed that this morning.

    I grew up tent camping with the Girl Scouts and later continued on adventure weekends in college – where I discovered there is (was) such a thing as a Coleman kitchen sink! This summer my husband and I rented an RV to take us from Florida to Maine and I fell in love with the lifestyle. They would make the perfect she shed. Hum….

  3. Some of our happiest and fun times have been since we retired and started taking our bucket list trips to the national parks of this great country of ours. Exploring the beauty and seeing it first hand is an amazing experience that I highly recommend. Although I’d rather rent a cabin than to camp, I’d say do it whichever way makes you happy.

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “KICKBACKS, KAYAKS, & KIDNAPPING”. Love your books!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. I know several folks who are making big changes in their lives right now because of their reflections during this pandemic. While is miss seeing people, this introvert has grown new roots. Congratulations in the writing and the book! So inspiring.

  5. Welcome back! I’ve become more introverted as I’ve gotten older. Either that or all that reading was my way of escaping without me realizing it. I love that you are using your love of nature for your series!

  6. This sounds like a wonderful series. I’ve just bought the 1st one. Thanks for introducing me to your work. Love the idea of your She-camper… Ehehehe.

  7. I consider myself an introverted extrovert. I enjoy my peace and quiet and solitude (although I distract myself with books, TV, and the internet), but I also need to be around people. After two months of lock downs, I reached the end of my introvertedness. If I’m not around people at least once a week (and i mean friends, not co-workers, although I’m still working from home), I really start to feel the isolation. If I didn’t live alone, things might be better in that regard.

  8. Thanks for visiting with us today, Tonya! I have to admit that I am not a fan of ccamping but I do love the idea of a tiny little cottage in which to write! We have a bunkhouse at our summer place that I have my eye on as a possible writing space but I love the idea of a vintage travel camper too!

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