A face materialized from beneath the slicker. Masculine eyes, as dark as onyx peered at her. “I was wondering the same."
He swept back his hood, allowing his ebony hair to dance in the blustery current. His square jaw and tanned face softened with a smile. “I’m your neighbor from down the street. I thought perhaps you might need some assistance. My sister, Marcie, tells me you live alone. If this storm notches itself up a bit, we’re in for a turbulent night.”
Against warning bells about strangers, she sought escape from the elements. She knew his sister…maybe, the name rang vaguely familiar. “Please, come in.” Linda gestured, but kept a tight grip on the door to keep it from slamming into the wall. Her heart thudded. Would her murder top the evening news? She could just see the headline now, “Stupid woman opens door to stranger during storm.”
A normal morning turns to disaster when a small war party attacks Grace Cummings’ family and slaughters everyone but her. She returns to the Lakota camp filled with hatred, anger and fear, but through the help of another white woman in camp, learns the Lakota way. Broken treaties, dead buffalo, and the white man's foray of gold in the sacred hills give the people reason to defend themselves. When white soldiers invade the camp and presume to rescue Grace, she must decide where her heart lies.
Dakota Plains, 1874
Papa scraped the last speck of egg from his plate and set it aside. "I s’pect Kev and me’ll find gold any day now. People are discoverin’ it all around us. When we make our strike, we can find some land and build a real house. It’s sure to happen soon… afore summer is past and the weather turns cold. In fact, Sassy, you and yer ma might want to start gatherin’ fair-sized stones and rocks for our fireplace." He pointed to the lean-to, still in progress. "In the meantime, Kev and I will finish our temporary shelter, so we can spread out a bit."
No more climbing in and out of a wagon to sleep. Grace clapped. "Oh, Papa, that souds so good." She sobered and flashed the look that always won him over…the half-pout, wistful gaze. "When we finally settle in our real house, it will be near a town, won’t it? Otherwise, how do you expect me to be courted out here in the middle of nowhere?"
"I’m not so sure I want you to be cour..."
He jerked around and looked over his shoulder. "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Kevin asked.
"I hear it, Papa," Grace chimed in. "Sounds like yelling."Her father stood and scanned the horizon. He pointed. "Look. There!"
A group of riders emerged from a dust cloud in the distance. The yelling grew louder as they came closer. The furrows in her father’s brow frightened Grace. "What is it, Papa?"
He darted for the wagon. "It’s Injuns! Hurry! You two women get inside and keep low. Kevin, get yer rifle!"
Grace’s heartbeat quickened and fear clutched her chest, making it hard to breathe. She’d heard about savages, but never saw one up close. She didn’t want to. Her mother stood frozen in place. Grace grabbed her hand and pulled. "C’mon, Mama, we’d better do as Papa says."
They ran around to the back of the wagon, and her mother boosted her up and over the closed tailgate. Grace dove inside, her mind filled with horrible thoughts. Would she get scalped or worse…were they all going to die.
All the while, piercing yells sliced the air while thundering hooves pounded the ground. Realizing her mother hadn’t followed, Grace rose up on her knees and peeked outside. A pack of whooping Indians rode round and round the wagon, their voices creating a din of eerie screams while bullets exploded. The hair on Grace’s arms stood on end. She covered her ears, crouched against the sidewall and prayed the savages would go away. Shots rang out from beneath the wagon when Papa and Kevin returned fire.
Whoa! That got my heart racing! Ginger, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and lived most of my life in California. I started in Southern, ended up in Northern, and lived there for over twenty years. California is filled with type-A personalities and is where road rage was born. I moved to Tennessee in 2004, after I retired, and it was like taking a step into the Twilight Zone. The southern hospitality you’ve heard of is true, but so is the laid-back attitude. Customer service is friendly, but slower than molasses, and people don’t think it’s rude if they don’t return your phone calls. There’s always “Fixin’ to” or “Aimin’ to.” I love it here, though and I wouldn’t go back to California on a bet.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can recall, whether it be Christmas newsletters to family to share the year’s events or creating silly poems or skits for office celebrations. My first novel experience seemed almost like someone telling me a story, and I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. That’s when I discovered I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I’ve never plotted a story. My tales are character driven and unless they talk to me, I can’t write. Luckily, I seem to have a revolving door in my brain, because I’ve yet to run out of people with stories to share. Once I have the story down, then it’s my job as the author to go back and turn it into a novel by adding all the emotions, smells, and conflict. I turn the “telling” into “showing.”
Wow! I’m a panster, too! There aren’t too many of us out there. And like me, you write a lot of different things, including nonfiction. What is your favorite genre?
I started my first novel in 2001 and it was published in 2003. I was honoured to have my first attempt result in a contract.
Given the myriad of westerns I was exposed to while growing up, it isn’t surprising that Western Historical is my favorite. A steady diet of good ol’ TV shoot ‘em ups and reading everything written by Laura Ingalls Wilder probably defined my destiny.
I’ve tried my hand at many genres because the characters that pop into my mind aren’t always toting a six gun or riding a horse. Linda Morrison, my heroine in "Hurricane Warning" showed up one day and wanted me to share the start of her new life in Florida. Divorced and happy to be in a new home, she’s faced with her first threat of a hurricane.
Which have been the hardest genres to write?
Anyone who writes historical novels will tell you that they are much more time consuming because of the research involved. You’d best get your historical details right or you’ll lose credibility as an author in that genre. Historical comes easy to me because I have such a passion for the era and the people who lived back then. What is hard for me is the manuscript I’m trying to complete now. This is the first one story concept that came without a hero or heroine. Instead, like the title, The Locket, the main character is a necklace. Try talking to an inanimate object.
You once shared an experience that you had which led you to believe you were a male in a former life? Can you tell us more, and how that has affected your writing?
I attended a meeting of Astro Soul many years ago with a friend. She was a firm believer in the afterlife, and I guess you could call me a skeptic. After having a “healing” which released adhering spirits from this life and allowed them to “follow the light,” I came away convinced that had indeed been a brick layer and died from a fall from a castle turret. I had suffered severe neck aches for years, and when the spirit shared what had happened and then left me, the mysterious neck aches ceased. Spirits adhere to those familiar to them from another life. They are a drain on your energy and can cause pain relative to your relationship with them. So, next time you’re driving around in your car and think you’re alone…you just may not be. *smile*
That makes me shiver. You said you weren't fearful, but it sounds scary. Anyway, “Hurricane Warning” is your first story with Muse It Up Publishing, but most of your book have been published by Eternal Press. What made you decide to sign with Muse It Up? People are generally leery of new houses.
Lea Schizas is a respected member of the writing community. I dealt with her as an editor and as a friend and peer. She’s been the driving force behind the Muse On-Line conference which draws hundreds of authors, publishers and readers each year. She’s accomplished so much, and she’s detail oriented with I appreciate. I love her team approach, and I can truly say that I feel instrumental in the success I know we’re all going to achieve with her at the helm.
Yeah, Lea is great. No matter how busy she is (and she is BUSY), I always get a quick response. She's always helpful and especially supportive of new writers.
When I was new and naïve. I thought I had landed an agent who was going to do great things for me. She loved my work, gave me all the right assurances, then secured a contract with an Internet publisher that I could have gotten on my own. She insisted the owner swore her house was not a POD press, but as it turns out, it was, and one of the worst I’ve ever signed with. Luckily, I got my rights back and moved on, but without an agent.
I’ve found my niche with e-publishing companies. I can’t write to word requirements. My characters tell me a story and when it ends, it ends. I can’t see going back and adding more verbiage just to meet someone’s idea of what is considered suitable for a novel. Besides, e-publishing is becoming more and more popular with the ever-growing number of hand-held readers available and I’m happy to be a pioneer with ten years invested in the new revolution of reading.
Muse it Up Publishing will release my young adult, Shortcomings, along with my five shorter works. How about some of your Eternal Press releases?
Besides White Heart, Lakota Spirit, most of my backlist can be found at Eternal Press. I guess you could say I’m comfortable there, and they tend to like my writing style. I’m a fan of historical so if you share my passion, then check out Prairie Peace, Sparta Rose, and Sarah’s Journey. My time-travel, Sisters in Time, also has an historical element. I have two more releases coming in 2011: The Locket (a mystery) and Odessa – another historical western.
I've been very happy with Eternal Press as well, and that's where I met you. What has been your most positive writing experience?
Finding out that one of books was named as a finalist in the EPIC Book Contest. Anytime you’re nominated from a field of talent such as those entering the EPIC contest each year, that’s a feeling you can’t duplicate.Which book made the finals for the EPIC? And didn’t you win a “Best of” Award on Love Romances Café last year?
Embezzled Love was my EPIC finalist. The story is based on my sister’s true life experience when she met a man on Match.com and fell in love. I had to struggle hard to find an HEA because the real story didn’t have one, but in fiction, I created what I hoped would happen for her. If you read the book, you’ll see my note at the end and it will all make sense. *Teasing a little here*
In 2009, I was also honored to have Sparta Rose voted the most popular Historical read. To say I was shocked is an understatement.By now readers are going to be beating down your virtual door. How can readers keep in touch?
My author pages at Muse it Up and Eternal Press have all the buy links.
Plus my blog and website: http://www.gingersimpson.com/ and http://mizging.blogspot.com/ Well, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. The multi talented and very humble, Ms. Ginger.Can you tell us about some of your forthcoming books and what you’re writing about now?
I signed six contracts with Muse It Up Publishing for releases scattered throughout 2011. I’m stoked to have so many new stories being released and I need to get on the promotion bandwagon and get busy. You can find them all listed on my author’s page at Muse it Up.