How I Nagged Vicki Hinze into Writing Down and Dead in Dixie
Daisy Grant, Heroine
I’m Daisy Grant, the heroine in Down and Dead in Dixie. I’ve been hanging around, waiting for Vicki to get with the program and write my story since 2008. But because I’m quirky, she didn’t think I’d fit in with the serious stuff she was writing. I had to persuade her.
No way was I going to tell her that my book was the start of a new series. She’d still be balking. I had to have patience and persistence. I learned a lot about patience when I was little and my younger brother Jackson and I got out of our mother’s car at the Piggly Wiggly for her to go park and she never came back. We waited all day. I knew she wasn’t coming back. Still, I waited. And I waited for Vicki, too.
I kept zapping thoughts of me into Vicki’s mind. She’s receptive, and if you spark her interest, you might wait, but she does come back—usually on Sunday afternoons. That’s when she writes books for the sheer love of story. That’s where I wanted my story written. So I perfected my aim and zapped her, and before she knew what hit her, she had a hundred pages of my story written!
Then she got sick, so I zapped her again. I know. I’m awful to hit her when she was already down, but I’d waited a long time—from 2008 to 2013. So I lasered her, and I can’t say I’m sorry. She thinks the story came to her all at once with everything in place. Actually, that was me. I’ve been planting story seeds in her head all along. She finally sat still long enough for them to snag her attention.
When she pulled out the hundred pages, I was so excited, I gathered the entire character cast and everyone began zapping her. We were elated—until Lester got over zealous and zapped her hubby–it wasn’t on purpose; he just doesn’t have great aim. Then she started throwing out pages. And the grumbling started. The cast was in an uproar.
Some thought it wasn’t Lester at all. They thought we’d hit her too hard, ganging up on her, and we’d fried her gray cells. I knew we hadn’t. From watching her work a long time, I knew exactly what she was doing. Sloughing the fluff, looking for the heart of the story. She’s brutal at that, but I didn’t want the others discouraged, so I just said, “Trust her. We’ll be okay.”
Of those hundred pages, about four pages made her cut. She ditched the rest. Four out of a hundred? That rattled even me. Honestly, we were all despondent. Mark Jensen, amazing chef and so much more, made us some comfort food to munch on while we waited to see what the woman was going to do with us. Everyone was worried sick we’d get the boot. She has that rule, you know, about refusing to write a story she doesn’t love and on it, she does not for anyone, anytime, for any reason. It’s an ethics and purpose thing. I don’t know the details, really, but she’s a brick wall on that; I’ve seen it.
We waited. . . and waited . . . and waited. I have to say, our hope frayed and shriveled to a thread, but then her imagination fired up and stepped forward. It took courage after all those years of her shutting us down, but it did it. And the next thing we knew, she picked up the pen. We held our breaths . . . anticipating, hoping, praying.
Every fear and failure I’d ever made flashed before my eyes. (Hey, when it takes practice for you to die right, you know you’re a serious work-in-progress, so I’m not kidding when I tell you, I was terrified. Everyone knew it was make or break time; she’d write us now or never!)
She studied the pen. Sighed. The air crackled with tension, and Mark squeezed my fingers so tight I thought he’d snap my bones. “What is she doing?” he asked.
“Muddling through it,” Lester said. He’s my absent-minded neighbor. Well, sort of.
“She’s not.” His companion Emily told Lester. “Plain as day, the woman is fighting between ought to and needs to.”
“Which one are we?” I asked.
“Don’t matter,” Lester said. “She’s gonna do what she thinks she’s supposed to do.”
“Well, that’s us,” I whispered, wondering if I should zap her again. Just to be sure I had her full attention, you know?
But then she did it. She reached for the neon orange journal.
We all knew what that meant, and cheered.
Mark hugged me. “You did it, Daisy! You got her!”
“We all did.” I laughed. “I think Lester’s getting arrested for getting his mail out of the mailbox and me bailing him out of jail is what got her.”
“Naw, Daisy girl,” Lester said. “That ain’t what done it. It was what you did to keep me from getting arrested what done it. She laughed. Out loud, I tell ya. I heard it myself.”
And that secret—making her laugh—is how I, Daisy Grant, Character-in-Waiting, nagged Vicki Hinze into writing my story. I didn’t tell her Down and Dead in Dixie was the start of a new series, Down and Dead, Inc., until she was almost at the end. By that time, I knew we all had wiggled our way into her heart and, I have to say, she gave in pretty gracefully even if she did mutter, “Well, I guess we all do need a few more laughs to go with our bites of food for thought.”
I—we, all of us characters, I mean—happen to agree…
As the author, I just want to add one thing. I knew I was being had. But as determined as these zany characters were, I figured if they wanted their story told that badly, then there had to be something special in it. Now, on the other side, having written it, I believe there is, and so I’ve put the Kindle version on sale for $2.99–to thank Daisy for zapping me (but, man, I hope that doesn’t start a trend)!