Monday, December 24, 2012

My Favorite Culinary Christmas Tradition

The Simpson Family Christmas Eve Paella

Not a real Paella in the strict sense of the traditional recipe. Once upon a time it was a traditional recipe but over the 40 years since I’ve first prepared it I’ve adjusted the recipe to fit the tastes of my family and the friends who have attended my family’s Christmas Eve celebration.

This is not a recipe of exact proportion this a more of how you feel, how many folks are coming over kind of recipe. Experiment with adding seafood and other vegetable your family may like. This is also a great dish to usher in the new year.

1/4 cup of butter
2 large green bell pepper sliced 
Two or three bunches of green onions sliced
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breast boiled, then sliced small 
4 cups of chicken broth
2lbs or more of polish or smoke sausage sliced
1 lb or more of ham sliced into strips
 3 cups (16 oz) rice
32 oz uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined ( more if you like more sea food)
2 large green bell pepper, diced.

Heat the butter in a pan and saute green pepper and onions until tender remove and set aside.
Cook sausage until done pour off excess oil and set aside in large mixing bowl.
Cook ham until done and mix with sausage.
Sautee shimp until done (do not overcook) retain the juice.
Boil rice in chicken broth until done pour off excess broth.
In a large pan add rice, shrimp, sausage, ham bell peppers, onions and mix together well. Season to taste with salt at this point.

May the joy of the season be with you all year.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy Birthday James Baldwin

Happy Birthday James Baldwin

 When I was young I use to beg my mother to let me stay up late on a school night so that I could watch him on television. He was the first black writer I had ever seen and he was writing about the things I cared deeply about. I was mesmerized by him and soaked in everything he said.  When dad brought  home a copy of the Fire Next Time for a class he was taking  I snuck that book out of his pile and took it to my room. I know now my dad must of know I had it, he saw me sneaking around and reading it, he never asked for that copy  back he just went out and bought a new copy himself:)

In my novel Act of Grace, Mr. Baldwin's book The Fire Next Time show up when  Grace's  english teacher is trying to reach her restless class:

Up front, Mrs. Watanabe began trying her best to get us to explore the finer points of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. After twenty minutes, she realized she was looking at a whole neighborhood of folks whose lights were on, but who were not home. So with a tiny smile that signaled her surrender, she closed her notebook. Then, for the sake of conversation, she asked what she already knew, “so what is everybody planning to do after graduation?”

~Act of Grace. 

 Thank you dad for never asking for your book back.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What I Like to Bring to Book Clubs and Book Signings.

When I attend book clubs or other literary events I like to bring something as a token of appreciation for those who have taken their time to buy and read my book. Usually I show up with a pound cake but other times I bring these wonderful very spicy gingerbread cookies based on a Martha Steward recipe.   

 They are rabbit shaped because the theme of  The Velveteen Rabbit, how to we must accept ourselves as worthy of being loved and how we become real though loving relationships, runs through out my novel Act of Grace. Grace's basket name or nickname is Rabbit for a variety of reasons that are revealed though out the novel.  Below is the recipe incase you are to far away for me to make a visit. Have fun making and eating them.

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

6 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1-1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs slightly beaten

1 cup unsulfured molasses

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder set aside.

In an eclectic mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in spices and salt then eggs and molasses.

Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide in thirds; wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough  ¼ inch  between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer shapes to ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, decorate with raisins, dragĂ©es, and/or red hot candies. Refrigerate about 15 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp but not dark. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. If desired, decorate with Icing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

All the Beautiful Horses

Next novel is about horses and the women of all colors who love them. The plot is still revealing itself to me but I'm a good bit into writing it. I have more research to do.
This is one my favorite pictures. Took it at the Kentucky Horse Park one summer day about 2 years ago. I Remember thinking the horse and the woman were so majestic and graceful. I ride but not this well. Maybe I'll take up some more horseback lessons this coming fall.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes For Everybody!!!!!

True story:

When I first started my writing career some ten years ago I use to go to the Go On Girl Book Club web site and dream that someday my novel would be selected.

The Go On Girl! Book Club is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit organization that supports authors of the Black African Diaspora by choosing one book per month for all club members to read. The Club reading list is formed twice a year. Members read a book each month, meet to discuss it, and then write the author of the book to express their opinions about the work.
 I didn't think it would happen, well, dreams can come true!!

 A few days ago I learned that the Go On Girl Book Club selected Act of Grace for their September  book club selection. As a new author from a tiny independent press this is great news and I am very, very honored.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dream On

A message from the Rabbit Family which includes one shy bear who thinks he is a rabbit with very short ears

"Never Forget Your Dreams"

Please have a wonderful safe holiday and I hope you'll spend a little time thinking about your writing dreams and goals

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Act of Grace is a Winner

May is my birthday month and I'm starting out with a happy gift and blessing.

My novel Act of Grace has been named a 2012 Independent Publisher Silver Medal Award winner.  The IPPY award recognizes and encourages the work of “Publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.” Besides the works of small independent publishers, the IPPYs recognized books from presses such as McPherson &Company, Dzanc Books
, Basic Books, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Carnegie Museum of Arts and Design, Carnegie Mellon University Press, Kent State University Press, The MIT Press, Princeton University Press, and the Stanford University Press. 
So what is Visionary Fiction you might be wondering, well it's considered part of speculative fiction and some label it as fiction in which the expansion of the human mind drives the plot. A good explanation is on Michael Gurian's Visionary Fiction Website
Goodreads also now has a new group for writers and readers of Visionary Fiction.
When I wrote Grace I didn't exactly know what genre it fell into, I just knew it was speculative fiction that leaned more toward the magical realism end of the spectrum. I am happy to have received this recognition, it is truly an honor. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm On The Road !!

I will be talking about my publishing journey and signing books at the

2660 28th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

The topic for this day-long conference will be publishing. Doors open at 9:00 A.M., with registration at 9:15 A.M and runs until 2pm. I will be participating in the afternoon session on Traditional Publishing that starts at 1:00.

Hope you can make it out if you are in the area.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I will be speaking and signing at the VIRGINIA FESTIVAL OF THE BOOK

If you are around please stop by I would love to meet you.

Fiction: Our Cheating Hearts

Sat. March 24th, 2012 - 2:00 PM.

Michelle Donice (The Other Side of Through), Stacy Hawkins Adams (Coming Home), and Karen Simpson (Act of Grace) share stories of betrayal, redemption, and grace.

Location:Central JMRL Library201 E Market Street(434)979-7151

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Way of Looking at Something I Thought I Knew.

Today I'm visiting the blog Broken Teepee

I received a lovely review. Sometimes I am amazed and humbled at what readers tell me about my work. They are able to shed light on aspects of my novel that I hadn't really thought about about and I am grateful for the insight. Perhaps because of the orignal inspiration for the novel I didn't nessarily see the novel as a coming of into Afican American mysticism. But it very much is.

My character Grace as a coming of age heroine put me in mind of my favorite quote by Joseph Campbell where he talks about how we all can all take the hero's path to our greatness or grace.

“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Friday, February 3, 2012


I'm on tour next week more about the destinations starting Monday, February 6th.

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

"One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things."(Henry Miller)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I will be reading from Act of Grace at the 8th Annual Ypsilanti Community African American Read In. This year’s theme is Entrepreneurs Read. What I love about this event is that children under 19 will get to select a FREE book from Nicola's Books. All are welcomed. It promises to be a great event.

8th Annual Ypsilanti Community
African American Read In

Monday, February 6
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Ypsilanti District Library Community Room
5577 Whittaker Rd,
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Day of Service Because We All Can Serve.

My favorite King quote:

"Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love..."

~Dr. Martin Luther King

Chaos or Community? The question King asked is as valid now as it was when he was alive. I'm hoping for... betting on that we will choose community, because King also reminds us that " We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Have wonderful day of service!!