If you really want to know
Think family when you think about the Lottie Albright series. Think tragedy and think murder. And why not? Murder has run through families since Adam and Eve.
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. My parents 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 fiction/non-fiction writing career. 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. At that time, my literary heroes were Wallace Stegner, Paul Wellman, and Paul Horgan, who were all novelists and superb historians and academics. Now I'm in awe of so many writers it would take pages to list them.
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.
My dual/duel history/mystery writing career continued. In 2009 Poisoned Pen Press published Deadly Descent, the first of the Lottie Albright series. That same year I began writing articles and encyclopedia entries for the premier African and African American website BlackPast.org. Plus University of Oklahoma Press was very interested in my book about Nicodemus Kansas. In 2016 OU press published Nicodemus: Post-Reconstruction Politics and Racial Justice in Western Kansas. March 2017 Poisoned Pen published my fourth Lottie Albright book, Fractured Families. Right now, I'm working on Silent Sacrifices.
I attended Kansas State University for two years before marrying Don Hinger and later obtained BA and MA history degrees from Fort Hays State University. For twenty-seven 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. I edited the Sheridan County History Books, a collection of articles and over 500 family stories. This inspired me to write the Lottie Albright series.
Don died in 2007. I moved to Loveland, Colorado in 2008 and in the summer of 2015 moved to Fort Collins. I have three daughters scattered along the Front Range.
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.