Act of Grace by Karen Simpson

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Join Karen Simpson, author of the contemporary speculative fiction novel Act of Grace as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October and Novemer 2011 on her first tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Karen Simpson

Karen SimpsonKaren Simpson is passionate about the craft of writing fiction, the art of quilting, and the discipline of historical research. She received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry, M.A. in Foreign and International Trade and a M.S. in Historic Preservation. A historic preservationist trained in heritage interpretation and administration, the subjects and themes of her fiction are often taken from the stories she discovers while doing research for museum exhibits. In 2009 Simpson was awarded the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant.  She is lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Act of Grace is her first novel.

You can visit Karen Simpson’s website at www.karensimpsonwrites, her blog at or connect with her on Twitter at

About Act of Grace

act-of-grace-mediumWhy would Grace Johnson, an African American high school senior, take a bullet to save the life of a Ku Klux Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore?

The question hovers unanswered over Grace’s hometown of Vigilant, Michigan. Few people, black or white, understand her sacrifice, especially since rumor has it years ago a member of Gilmore’s family murdered several African Americans including Grace’s father. Grace doesn’t want to talk about it, but the decision to speak is not hers to make. Ancestor spirits emerge to insist, in ways Grace cannot ignore, that she bear witness to her town’s violent racial history so that all involved might transcend it.

With hindsight made telescopic by the wisdom found in African American mythology and the book The Velveteen Rabbit, Grace recounts a story of eye-for-an-eye vengeance that has blinded entire generations in her hometown. Faced with the horrific crimes that have disfigured her life, Grace wonders if in the end, she can do as the spirits have asked and lead Mr. Gilmore, the town of Vigilant and her own soul on a journey toward reconciliation, redemption and true grace.

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE—RISEMr. Gilmore was supposed to have died that day at the Justice Rally, but I got in the way and now people in my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan, are either calling me an Uncle Tom hero or hissing that I’m a double-stuffed Oreo bitch. Actually I’m neither, but I realize now that one of the reasons why people’s attitudes about me are as nasty as dried snot is because there is a critical lack of information about my motives. Those who love me already understand my reasons. For them, it’s enough for me to say the ancestors made me do it. Other folks, however, especially other folks of color, feel I need to testify about why I, Grace Johnson, a supposedly rational African-American high school senior and honor student committed racial treason.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t say anything. I would just leave everyone in the dark and go on about my business. But, the voices of the ancestors tell me I owe an account of my story as an example of the true meaning of my name. Now, I can blow people off, I can tell them what part of hell to go to and give them detailed directions on how to get there. The ancestors, however, cannot be ignored. They can’t be told to mind their own ethereal business because we, the living, are their business. Pain and suffering have made my hindsight telescopic, so let’s begin at the true beginning, a breath to prime my memory: “Rise, story, rise.

What Reviewers Are Saying

Grace’s intimate narration and folksy-but-modern-Southern-down-home voice immediately pulls the reader into the story. You can’t help but like her: she’s sassy, she’s smart, and when her Nana explains to her that she is to be a conduit for their ancestral spirits, you know immediately that the right girl was chosen for the task.

~Marlon Edwards-The Speculative Literature Foundation

Loved this story. I was even more impressed when I realized that this is Ms. Simpson’s first novel. Her style of writing is just beautiful, as she weaves the character’s stories together in a seamless journey. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but let me just say that this is a timely novel that reveals much about race, gender, and the search for peace across generations. My guess is that there are many among us who will be able to relate to Grace’s journey, as she is challenged by her spirits to push herself further than she ever thought possible. Bravo! I can’t wait for the movie.

~Lisa Ruby

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Karen Simpson’s ACT OF GRACE OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2011 will officially begin October 3rd and end November 23rd. Thank you for your support!

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About Nyx

Podcaster, baker, zine reviewer and maker.

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Book Excerpt, Book Synopsis, Contemporary. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Act of Grace by Karen Simpson.

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