Debut Novel: Rootwork by Tracy Cross

Spanish moss and the rich, earthy smells of the bayou jump from the pages of Tracy’s debut novel Rootwork. Three sisters, Pee Wee, Ann, and Betty, spend a summer helping their aunt Teddy, a locally notorious conjure woman, in her hoodoo work. Aunt Teddy sends them on all kinds of odd tasks to gather ingredients. Finding herbs and dried snake skins are expected but wait until you find out what goofer dust is! Pee Wee takes to, quickly picking up the trade. She dares dream of leaving her little village and working in a city one day.

That is until a tragic death wrought by those who should protect strikes the family. Darkness and fear descend and Pee Wee must decide if continuing to learn rootwork will bring her closer to her dream.

Coming soon from Omnium Gatherum.

Poetry Featured

I have some exciting news!

My poem “From Ashes, I rise” is being featured on Joshua Lee Ronin’s Ronin Radio. You can join us on the Discord server or via his website. My reading is exclusive only to Joshua’s station and will be on rotation as featured contented until the end of the month.

He is an excellent writer I have connected with through Twitter. I recommend giving him a follow: @joshualeeronin

If you liked the reading and would like to read more of my poetry, you can access my full chapbook here:

Stay cool everyone. It’s been a hot summer.

Until next time.

Book Review: Blue Crayon

“Blue Crayon” is a poetry chapbook about the darkness of mental illness. The opening poem about self-harming with a crayon puts you in Rowan’s shoes as she walks you through the twisting, painful roads of coming of age in the 21st century.

There are some interesting flashes of the fun personality that she can be. I was touched by the note of hope and healing that the chapbook ended on. I hope to see future titles from Rowan with themes of healing and strength. This took so much courage to put down on paper, but I also know the healing effects that writing can have to work out that pain.

My favorite poem was #14. She is crisp, helping to convey the disjointed reality of midnight and how disorienting the depths of depression can be. The lines “my chamomile tea / tastes like / chocolate” lingers as do the rest.

A good quick read. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Mixed Rhythms and Shady Rhymes

Teresa Fowler is snappy, racy, and venomous (in a good way!) in her poetry book “Mixed Rhythms and Shady Rhymes”.  Her poems roll out line after line of wit and clearheaded societal observation. She both builds a picture of our life today in the era of Twitter and podcasts, Woke-blokes and man-splaining, as she critiques that life. She challenges us to think about privilege and blackness, about what it means to “pass”, and how one should respond to those who purport to be allies to those around them.

Teresa is authentic to the #ownvoices movement and never once lets the reader walk away from the fact, holding you gripped in her storytelling. In “Fetish” you fell her hurt through her snaps and clap backs. In “Soul-Mush” you feel her frustration with hookup culture, ghosting, and !#*% boys. She writes, not only with the Millennial voice, but the Black Millennial voice—gritty, but sweet. She is someone who is tough as nails and dares the world to fight her. Her steely truth confronts us in the poems “Get Back to Your Own Country” (“Where is it I should ‘go back’ to?/ On what planet would that be?”) and “Uncivil Service” where she shows us the pain of having her voice silenced, even today in our so-called modern world.

This book was excellent, two huge thumbs up. I can’t wait to see the scathing societal critiques to come.

Three feet from the hill

The precipice of change is an astounding place like the last three feet before you go over the hill on a roller coaster. Full of nervous energy and that scream just bubbling up– or is that vomit, you ask?

I can’t say.

For I never opened my eyes. I’m still hanging on, letting the terror and exhilaration press against my face and comb through my hair.

The Endless Night

I am chopping onions and garlic for dinner and my two year-old is playing with his cars. My house and my home are humming along just fine.

Earlier I had been sent home from work early. The University I work for decided to close campus for the next day and a half due to unheard of cold. The actual air temperature in Minnesota was -23F and, with the windchill, it was well into the -50Fs. These temperatures are no small matter, they are literally life and death.

Right before the water boils and as I am adding more onions to the pan, the power cuts.

Everything–the lights, the stove, and most importantly, our furnace–are plunged into darkness. Fear drops like a rock into my gut.

This can’t be happening.

My son is at my side in an instant, scared of the sudden dark and confused as to what happened.

“Mommy, turn the light on,” he says in his little toddler voice.

I wrap him into my arms, giving him a big hug. It’s for me as much as for him.

“It’s okay honey, I’ve got light,” I say and go searching for candles.

A hundred thoughts are racing through my mind. How long before the power is back on? How long before it’s too cold in the house? What will we eat for dinner without power? What if this drags on for days?

I light the candle and place it on the kitchen table. My plans for dinner are now abandoned and I search the pantry for anything that is ready made.

A quick checkin online tells me my whole neighborhood is down and that Xcel is projecting power will be back on in two hours–7 pm.

I take a very deep breath. It’s going to be okay.

But this is my wake up call. My family and I must stop relying on government and corporations to save us.

I scribble out a quick list, number one being that we need a generator. Just something to get us by while we wait for the power to come back on. Something that will heat our home enough when temperatures are deadly.

The power does not come back on at 7 pm as promised. I maintain my composure and keep our normal routine going.

I give my son a bath and bundle him up like I never have before for bedtime. We read our stories by candle light. I give him a big squeeze and tell him everything is going to be alright. But inside I am freaking out.

At 9:30 pm, I wake to the sound of the furnace kicking on and I notice the nightlight is on again. Relief washes over me.

Never again, I think. Never again will I live with that fear.