I grew up on a farm in Lone Elm, Kansas and spent my childhood listening to the world-class story-tellers and natural born liars who populated this tiny community. My father was responsible for my life-long interest in Kansas history, and my mother's matchless insight in people's motivations set the stage for my bent toward writing mystery stories.
When I was in the 5th grade, my teacher accused me of plagiarism and I was devastated. I did write the story. It was a mystery with a complex plot. I was quite close to my father, but he also thought I couldn't possibly have written the story. That hurt even more; however, my first thought was "Wow, I must be good!" The experience launched my literary ego. Three years later, I won the county history essay contest. It was my first taste of fame.
This rocky beginning foretold my curiously tangled writing future. All my short stories published in magazines and anthologies have been mysteries, and Simon and Schuster published my historical novel, Come Spring as mainstream fiction. My literary heroes are Wallace Stegner, Paul Wellman, and Paul Horgan, who were all novelists and superb historians and academics. I'm working on an academic book for Oklahoma University Press about 19th century Kansas African American politicians but my Nancy Drew gene cannot be suppressed.
The Lottie Albright Series is set in Kansas. I'm a native Kansas with a flaming state loyalty. My mystery short stories, historical novels and non-fiction articles usually focus on Kansas, but occasionally my Southern heritage emerges in short stories such as "The Family Rose," which was first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, then later included in two anthologies.
I attended Kansas State University for two years before marrying Don Hinger and later obtained my BA and MA degree from Fort Hays State University. We have three daughters. My master's thesis was "African American Activists: The Pioneer Politicians of Nicodemus, Kansas, 1877-1880." I have completed a novel on Nicodemus, Kansas and am working on a book for Oklahoma University Press.
In 2009 Poisoned Pen Press published Deadly Descent, the first of the Lottie Albright series. The second book. Lethal Lineage was published March 2011. I'm working on Hidden Heritage, book three.
After publishing several short stories in national magazines, and editing a two volume county history project, I completed my first novel, Come Spring. It was published in hardcover by Simon and Schuster, Warner Books in paperback, condensed by Reader's Digest and published in UK and Norway. Come Spring won the Medicine Pipe Bearer's Award in the Spur Award Competition sponsored by Western Writer's of America (WWA). I subsequently published a number of mystery short stories and articles. My short story, "The Family Rose," first published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine was later included in two anthologies, Murder to Music and Death on the Verandah.
For a number of years, we lived in Hoxie, Kansas, where Don owned and operated a livestock truck line. This town was peculiarly well-suited to the writing life. It had fabulous internet service and few distractions. Don died in 2007.
I moved to Loveland, Colorado in 2008 and in the summer of 2015 moved to Fort Collins.
My book for University Press of Oklahoma will be published Spring 2016. The official title is now Nicodemus: Post-Reconstruction Politics and Racial Justice in Western Kansas.
I'm not even close to reconciling or understanding why I simultaneously want to write fiction and non-fiction. I don't care anymore. It's one of my many unresolved conflicts.