All That Is Hidden

Welcome to Laura DeNooyer-Moore, whose novel about Appalachia comes out of her own experience in Appalachia. Laura is offering an e-book giveaway to one fortunate commenter.

Throw 22 Midwestern education students in a bus and drive them to western North Carolina to help in the mountain schools, and you’ve got a culture clash. Turns out the teacher aids have the most to learn.

Such was my first introduction to southern Appalachia. 

Enter Mr. Woody. He lived forty percent of his life covered in sawdust. He spent half the week in the forest seeking the right wood—the way his family did for generations. His chairs were so solid he could balance each on one leg with all of his weight on it. No doubt he could make a fortune with his chair-building skills. 

Yet he couldn’t tell you how long it took to make one. 

Meet the blacksmith who never advertised. Though he was booked solid with orders, he took his time with 22 college kids. He demonstrated how to forge a fanciful leaf from a hunk of iron, then preached a sermon from Revelation 2 about how the attributes of iron compared to Christ.

Though blacksmithing provided a livelihood, his lifeblood wasn’t from any exchange of money. It came from the instruments of his trade, and the personal exchanges between him and anybody who entered his shop.

To put it in mountain terms, Mr. Woody and the blacksmith cared no more for money than a crow cared for a holiday.

We students also learned mountain clogging, hiked the Appalachian trail, and were captivated by the storytelling magic of Richard Chase, resident folklorist. I was struck by the number of people who created meaningful lives by a route much different than those seeking the prosperity of the American Dream. 

With little money, few possessions, and no races up the ladder of success, these folks still enjoyed rich lives—a foreign concept to me then. No fancy homes, expensive cars, or Caribbean cruises. But they were wealthy with things they could never lose: a richness in spirit, a deep contentment, a joy in daily life, work, and family.

That primed the creative juices: “What would happen with a clash between big-city northern values and southern Appalachian culture?” I wrote a prize-winning short story about it when I got home.

I tucked the tale away but it wouldn’t rest in peace. Over the years, those characters beckoned me back to their hills until I succumbed and wrote their story in novel form.



Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep? Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way. 

She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for romping, a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Nothing ever changed.

Until the summer of 1968. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town. Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father. 

A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.

Purchase here or on my website:   


Laura DeNooyer, a Calvin College alumni, thrives on creativity and encouraging it in others. She teaches writing in SE Wisconsin. She and her husband raised four children as she penned her first novel, All That Is Hidden. An award-winning author of heart-warming historical and contemporary fiction, she is president of her American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. Her new Standout Stories blog features novel reviews and author interviews. 

My website (with book trailer):

My newsletter—subscribe and receive a free prequel:





9 thoughts on “All That Is Hidden

  1. Ooo; I reckon the word I’m lookin’ fer is “intriguing.” Sorry, couldn’t help but channel Appalachian roots there for a second. 🙂 As I read your post, I thought about Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12. Perhaps the secret to living a comfortable life is not in amassing the trappings of this world, but learning to be content with what you are given. Too often, we forget that God owns 100 percent of what we are given. He is the author of our talents, skills, and knowledge. Without Him, we could not achieve anything. With Him, we can do all things. Sounds like an exciting and intriguing read Ms. Laura. Thank you for sharing with us; and thank you for highlighting this new (to me) author Ms. Gail.

  2. This is so reminiscent of my experience many years ago. I had finished business college in my hometown, Asheville, NC, but could not get a job. The old vicious circle: can’t get a job without a reference, can’t get a reference without a job. I went to Huntington Park, CA where my brother and sister-in-law assured me there were plenty of jobs. There were and I stayed long enough to get two good references. When I told my immediate supervisor I was returning to North Carolina, he said: “But that’s Appalachia. Everybody is starving there.” How little we know about how the other half lives! It behooves us not to accept another person’s word but to experience for ourselves, just as those education students did.

  3. Sounds like an interesting study in people, times and the word of God. I look forward to reading it.
    I grew up in a rural area in Minnesota. The attacks on our culture happened in the 60’s as well. We certainly were not as remote, but the attitude that ‘our lives are complete and fulfilling just the way they are’ was being challenged. Our ‘we live in God’s country’ was suddenly not enough. I became a quilter, spinner, weaver, etc in part to keep the arts alive- but that is only a fraction of the life we had.
    Thanks, Gail, for highlighting this book!

    • Interesting that you experienced the clash of cultures in Minnesota during that same decade. How wonderful that you kept the arts alive by quilting, spinning, and weaving! I’m wondering if there are other ways people in that area of Minnesota have kept your culture from being lost.

  4. I moved to Appalachia seven years ago and absolutely love the area–although I’m East Tennessee–not the Carolinas. I’ve loved learning about the area–wrote a book about Stinking Creek, TN. Read a novel about the Blue People of KY. Don’t forget Christy.
    Your book sounds wonderful

    • Thank you, Carol. Yes, there are so many great stories set in southern Appalachia. I’ve been reading quite a few of them lately. “Christy” was always a favorite. You must really love the area since you wrote about it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.