Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ginger Simpson whose YA book Shortcomings is available from Muse It Up Publishing.
Ginger told me that it was the voices in her head that inspired her to start writing.
"To some that may sound crazy, but other 'pantsers' will understand," she assured me. "Being that type of author is when you want to hear voices, because without them, you're lost. I'm so thankful for the day that Cecile Palmer spun through the revolving door that is my brain and insisted I tell her story. Prairie Peace was my debut novel, and something I'm very proud of even today."
The characters come first for Ginger. She's tried to preplan stories and it just doesn't work. The star of her novel appears in her head with a story to tell and, usually, a full cast of characters already in tow.
"It gets a little crowded in my brain sometimes, but my job—should I accept the challenge—is to show the reader the tale my character conveys," she said. "If my character isn't talking, my fingers aren't typing."
Ginger has just finished a new book, Hattie's Heroes and has been submitted. What started out as a western with one hero turned into a time travel with two heroes. She actually suffered through her first bout of writer's block with this story recently when Hattie turned mute.
"I think it was because we wrote ourselves into a corner we couldn't escape from," she explained. "I shared my dilemma with my good friend and fellow author, Roseanne Dowell, and she made a unique suggestion, which I used to get Hattie talking again. I'm not divulging the suggestion. I'll simply say the story got back on track."
One of Ginger's releases was a remake of one she had previously released, Embezzled Love. Based on a true happenstance, her divorced heroine, Cassie, signs up for a computer dating service and soon learns the cost of a roller coaster ride from hell.
"I had lots of research background on this tale since my sister was the true victim and I know for a fact how everything played out. What I didn't know at the time I wrote the story was she was aware of everything being done to her and by her silence, she permitted herself to be used," Ginger shared. "We haven't spoken in several years, and if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to tell them why or die, I'd be dead. Sad but true. At a time in life when family should be one of the most important factors, some people hold grudges."
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.
"Almost every author is unique despite the myriad of rules and regulations imposed on us. No matter a person's style or voice, a good book will hook the reader from the get-go, put them in the character's shoes, and show them the story from that POV. If you have to keep turning pages, feel the breeze, smell the smells, and cry with joy or pain, then you're reading a novel by someone who knows their craft."
Ginger said one author who really influenced her own writing was Laura Ingalls Wilder.
"If you could search the library checkout cards from my grammar school, you'd find my name numerous times, borrowing each book she wrote. It's because of her remarkable ability to whisk me away to life in the 1800s that I became determined to write my own historical. Now I can't stop. I continued my passion for the old west with Amanda Baker and Cassie Edwards. I wish I could meet them in person and tell them what strong role models they've been for me."
Ginger told me that in most cases not only do her characters come to her with a cast already in place, but the title as well. There was one book she named herself, First Degree Innocence, because that title jumped into her head the moment she started writing the story. She liked it better than the option Carrie Lang gave her.
I asked her about her work schedule, and she told me she was fortunate in the fact that she was retired, so whenever her lead character is talking to her, she is able to write.
"When I worked, I generally spent my lunch hours and breaks trying to catch up with all the yammering I had to put on hold during business hours, and I think I actually wrote my first book courtesy of the university's computer," she confessed. "I'm not as active at writing as I was a few years back, deciding to pay more attention to my husband and grandson, but I still love that I can write whenever I want, and I love that my characters keep showing up with new stories to be told...or shown. "
"What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?" I asked.
"I never really considered myself to be a quirky person. In fact, I'm not even sure I have one. Let me look it up in the dictionary and I'll be right back," she said with a smile. "Oh...a peculiar trait. Don't have any that I know of. I love to laugh and make others join in. I always dreamed of being a stand-up comic, but I've settled for just being able to keep laughter in my life. I don't wear outlandish clothing, I don't have any annoying habits that I'm aware of, so I guess by some standards, I'm just boring."
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Boy, that's a tough one. I started this journey about the time the Y2K bug was all the rage and things have changed so much. I've been contracted twenty-six times, which means I've been through a lot of editing. At first, I relied heavily on that person to be the authority on what was right and wrong, but I soon learned that I have a unique voice, and often, an editor is simply another author with differing opinions. I think the most important tip I can pass along to someone just beginning is to trust your instincts and ask lots of questions. Don't assume just because someone puts something in red on your manuscript, they know all the nuances of writing. It just isn't so."
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