Who Are You Writing For?

I was listening to a podcast and one of the mini assignments was to ask yourself, “Who are you writing for?”

I sat for awhile. I’ve been thinking about it and came up with generic answers like- everyone or myself or people like me or people that like books and lastly, my kids. Do I really want my kids reading about flaying someone alive or playing hide and seek with katanas?

We can rule out my kids. I’m not writing for the haters. People that like to rip other people’s stuff apart while they are working on their “masterpiece” that will never be ready because…just because.

I’m not writing for closed minded people. I have been around a lot of racist black and white folks. These are very narrow minded people. Ask me about my teen years some day, if you are feeling dangerous. These people don’t want to see anything like interracial relationships, let alone interracial friendships because in their mind, you (or whomever) is betraying their race. Bye racists!

Now, who does that leave? Dudes? I have had a lot of guys read my work and like it. Which is super cool. I get a good reaction from dudes. Let’s add “dudes” to the writing pile. Except the time my dad read my worked and promptly called my sister to see if I was okay. We can take dads off the list. They give it a college try but end up concerned about your mental health.

(Imagine me doing that wiping thing with my hands)

Now, do we add chicks? Here’s the deal-some chicks just don’t get me. They don’t get my shit or have soooo many questions that my eyes roll back into my head when I try to explain it. But I do have some chick friends that are awesome and read my shit. Let’s add open minded, non critical chicks to the list.

Notice, dudes and chicks are not black or white. They are just dudes or chicks.

Moving on.

My friend told me she was going to or kinda accidentally used my work in her classroom. It was a super short story under 2000 words. I’m gonna reach out and add teachers to the list.

Okay dude from the “Write Minded” podcast, I know the show was a good while ago, but I’ve got my list: open minded chicks, dudes and teachers.

Oh, and anyone reading this blog post because you fucking rock!

EWF19 (Part 2)

This shall also be known as “The Day I Didn’t Make 10,000 Steps Despite Running All Over Old Town”.

I was better prepared. I was able to eat breakfast, catch a leisure train, listen to a podcast-with my bluetooth headphones (they acted very diva like Saturday) and stroll through the city because I knew where I was going. I even took a picture of this cool sign-near a tarot shop-for my other two sisters.

The picture for my sisters. They both loved the shop was near a house of tarot cards.

I had a jam packed schedule. Working with An Editor was the first one. I have a loud ringing in my ears and really wished one of the Jedi used a microphone. She made some big gestures and I knew she had to be saying something interesting, but I only was able to hear every third word.

The Jedi-Michelle Koufopoulos, Jane Friedman and Laura Chasen (working the hell out of a spanish vibe-again…my heart.)

After the editorial panel was the panel on How to Write Successful Applications for Grants and Fellowships. Jennifer Baker was on the panel. I knew it would be good. She’s my total Type A type-with handouts! handouts!, Hannah Bae (who has the best energy I’ve ever seen. It’s like she shines like a sun) and Kris Zory-King (If you have not ever seen tattoos on a woman, you need to find her. Her fingers left me speechless until I realized I was drooling.) I didn’t get any pictures because there was a handout! It was super cool. It was also the time I ran into my other Fellows and some awesome chicks I met the day before.

Then, we all ventured to lunch. There was funny conversation, which I will cherish and remember. Suffice it to say, we are not fans of the administration in the White House.

We had Writing the Personal Essay with Hannah Bae. I’m telling you her energy and her class. Also, I love handouts. She had a handout. She is now my next favorite to Jennifer Baker.

After lunch is when my footsteps needed to count. I had the essay class with Hanna. I ran down the street for the Social Media for Writers class with Kendra Baker. No handouts but power point presentations! Small class means lots of one on one questions!!! I lost my mind (and came home to change my brand and platform on Monday. She’s a total boss.)

We told Kendra we needed to hot foot it back down the street to “The Path to the Debut Novel” with Angie Kim. She was animated and funny. She also was a lawyer before and had that experience with negotiations that we do not have. I wouldn’t be able to negotiate my way out of a bag. She was super helpful.

After a day of all this, it was time for me to go. I missed two readings but gained so much knowledge that I slept soundly but woke up like Christmas on Monday to get to work.

Long story short, I would totally recommend this to anyone that asked me. Not because I was a Fellow but because of the wealth of information that I learned. I’m still going through Jedi Jane’s powerpoint and all my notes.

I also only made 9,035 steps on Sunday. I was kinda pissed.

If you have an opportunity, go in 2020!

My Weekend at #EWF19 (part 1)

I was chosen to be a Fellow at the Emerging Writers Festival this past weekend. It was sponsored by Old Town Books in Old Town Alexandria, VA.

A few things-being a Fellow means I had to read an excerpt of my writing, I was able to attend all the events and panel discussions and I met a whole bunch of really cool people. I was so excited and I could hardly sleep the night before. I was a bunch of nerves, woke at 5 am, packed too much stuff and sweat through everything I wore.

Great start, I would say.

(One quick thing-I follow Jane Friedman. I saw on her site that she would be at this festival. I decided to sign up for it. When I saw they were offering fellowships, I got super busy. I forgot and actually wrote on my calendar to sleep in that Saturday when I got an email that said I was in! My plans changed fast and I needed a sitter. Thank God for sisters!)

After arrival, I met the other fellows. They were two pretty cool chicks. There was a lovely breakfast served-the awesomeness of it! A Southern breakfast with biscuits, sausage and something I will dream about forever-Nashville Hot Chicken. Oh man, they even had pickles. Sadly, the chicken was in the same tray as the pork sausage. I haven’t had pork since I was 16. It would have been a very, very bad idea. Although I heard it call me when I was getting my picture taken outside.

The chicken is calling to me. I’m trying to look like I have some common sense.
When I finished reading, everyone looked at me and didn’t say a word. I scared them, I think.

Saturday I went to some events-There was the Panel Discussion: Against the Algorithm-Online book communities as resources for emerging writers. The panelists were Lupita Aquino, Amanda Nelson and Kendra Winchester. (I think I now have secret crushes on all these women). The panel was great with a lot of good info.

There was hardly time for lunch because I also attended Fiction Craft Intensive, Polish Your Pitch (with the super awesome Jennifer Baker) and the Publishing Masterclass with Jedi Jane Friedman. She answered just about every question you could answer from getting an agent, to residuals, manuscripts and everything in between. It was a three hour panel and I made it through to about 2.75 hours. I needed to get home.

When I got home, I tried to review what I learned and all the handouts. Which morphed into me passing out on the couch and watching the ID Network. Later, I crawled to bed and slept a dreamless sleep.

I’m a Fellow…check me out…

Emerging Writers Festival

Tracy Cross was awarded the Boston Accent Literary Journal Prize in 2016. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and magazines including, Summer Shorts, Big Book of Bootleg Horror and D’Evolution Z Horror Magazine. An active member of the Horror Writers Association and Ladies of Horror Fiction, the review committee thought she was “very imaginative and well thought out” in her application.

Don’t Sleep Your Local Library

Well, after a long break, I am back. I also wanted to talk about something people need in their lives-a library.

Don’t sleep your local branch. When people come in and tell me they haven’t been to a library, “Like ever” or “In like twenty plus years!” , I want to respond with, “You must be the smartest motherfucker in the world. Imagine not having to need a source for anything because you are the source!!” Alas, I enjoy my job, so I stay quiet and smile.

But, you really should check out your local branch. DC Public Libraries have so many events happening, it’s ridiculous. Last week, I showed “Shazam” at my library and there were people from Fairfax, Va that came. (It’s a hike.) I’ll be showing “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” in the next month.

There aren’t only movies at the library but computers. I know several libraries have gotten new computers. They are so new that even Staff computers are old and out of date. Not that I’m complaining, but you, dear reader- should definitely hot foot it to your library for the computers alone. No, you can’t sit and watch movies all day, like they used to. Now, you can look at all your swanky resume styles in several ways, check out websites and all this other cool shit.

We also have a lot of cultural things happening. My branch has a lot of things from Central America and Mexico happening. I’m not even sure what the PC term is anymore. Anyway, we will be showing a lot of movies and having a slew of events for Hispanic Heritage Month. Give us half a reason to celebrate something and we will put together a program to do it.

Podcasts, job training, computer one on one workshops, help for the homeless, 1-on 1 Ayuda para la computadora (yeah, we do shit in Spanish too), bilingual story time (HELL-story time in English too!), Uno dos tres con Andres (kiddie program and lots of dancing), baby lap time, summer camps for kids-engineering challenges, STEM for toddlers, Saturday Morning Yoga, Career coaching and book clubs (Spanish and English)-these are just a handful of the programs libraries offer.

Not to mention all our online stuff as well-Kanaopy for movies (and all the free Great Courses videos you can stand), RB Digital (cancel your magazine subscription), Freegal (free music downloads) and finally books. So many books-audio books, reading books, large print books are all ONLINE!!

All it takes is maybe two minutes to get a card and use all this free stuff. But y’all out there playin. Okay then.

Because voodoo is awesome!

goofer dust good for what ails ya.

She will make a salt doll poppet with goofer dust to help her.

This is what I’ll be working on next-another short story but with voodoo and futuristic (oh, how am i gonna do that? insert devilish grin…I got a lot of shit on board)…aside from this book I’m writing about magic. I”m holding off on submissions until my mentorship is over. I’ve been getting some kick ass advice and I have a really great mentor.
I want to thank my friend John for looking over my short story with a guitarist because I only know what the internet gives me. And there are not that many articles out about what guitarists do etc.
Not to be cocky, but I’ve got a couple of winners. I feel it.
That’s all folks!

As Above, So Below-Horror Movies and My Body Today

Tuesday, I ate lunch at a local establishment that shall remain nameless. However, that food ripped my stomach in half! It was pretty embarrassing when my therapist stops by and I’m in the bathroom, trying to be fast and discreet.

Here I am, at home, puking and shitting-watching horror movies-in the dark, in my bed, under an electric blanket. At this point, I’m not sure if this is a virus or what. I explained to my daughter that my stomach felt like (shows rocking motion) and she goes, “Oh yeah, you need to stay home. You don’t even look good.” Ahh, she’s always that reassuring kid.

To the point, I’m a horror writer. Sometimes, people want to know where I get my inspiration. Sometimes, people just want to be scared. Either way, I’m waiting for the liquor store to open so I can get my ginger ale and I’m watching for UPS-as I’m sure we have the angriest UPS driver in the world. I signed for a neighbor’s package and he goes, “Why does she keep ordering stuff? She’s never home!” He also had a cigarette dangling from his lip and was very short. He’s going to be pleased delivering to me today, that’s for sure. (“How do you look pale and green and brown? Here’s your package. Don’t sign, you look like a germ!”)

So, back to the crust of the biscuit. I love movies. I love watching most movies but lately, I’ve been in the crush of what I call, “New Horror Craptacular Movies”. I can watch these things on repeat and not give a shit. I’m jumping at the same time, each time. Why? Let’s run down what these movies all have:

  1. A non believer-they never believe what’s happening, no matter who tells them.
  2. A believer-this person runs around with huge eyes, usually screaming and believing in whatever the hell is happening.
  3. the storyteller/historian-located in a church, library or bodega, they usually have all the deets on whatever the mysterious thing is happening.
  4. an idiot-the one person who decides, “You know what, I’m gonna just keep living my life and forget all about this thing bothering us.”
  5. one stupid kid-allow me to quantify-in some movies the kid is smart or the first one to go. You have the stupid kid that provokes or makes said entity angry and just doesn’t seem to get it. Mom is yelling, kid keeps doing dumb shit. Or the kid picks something up and keeps it, not realizing they are taking the entity with them.

Now-onto the list of “New Horror Craptacular Movies”-I own most of these, so trust me, even when they come on tv and I’m running channels, I will sit down and watch. Also, no particular order-I love them all. I’m staying in America with these-but suffice it to say-“Three Extremes”, “Rec”, “The Babadook”, “Pulse”, “High Tension” and “Intacto” are on my list of favorite foreign horror movies. (Dear American Filmmakers-stop fucking with foreign shit. Somehow, these are more terrifying before you get your greasy little paws on them and make a shitty remake. Also, you guys add endings that weren’t there, why? Because Americans need closure. It’s like spoon feeding us horror and I despise it. Look at how much money remakes make versus the original. There are so many undiscovered horror writers out there that can give you a really good horror movie-but no. Gotta not take a chance on a newbie. THIS is why I love A24 and Blumhouse. They will take the chance and make some off the wall shit so good, you walk out of the theater like, “Oh my damn!”)

The Official Tracy Will Watch Wherever/Whenever List O Movies

  1. Unfriended and Unfriended: DarkWeb
  2. Silent Hill
  3. 30 Days of Night
  4. 28 Days Later-dude, hell yeah
  5. Don’t Breathe (some gross shit happens in this but, why not? It’s Detroit! Rundown, post apoc Detroit)
  6. The Apparation (just to see the chick from Twilight lose her mind, watch the Bucky run around looking oblivious and kid from Harry Potter get scared…yes!)
  7. The Crazies (remake-I know, I know, contradicts what I wrote earlier. Timothy Olyphant has the most bizarre walk, like he was a fat kid and his knees battle for supremacy. Radha Mitchell is just…the living end)
  8. Hereditary (I’m not even. The head chopped off and the brother just leaving the body in the car and going to bed?! Classic! or mom crawling across the ceiling? All the religious symbolism in the last scene? How about the fact that everything was already there and you missed all that shit the first three times you watched it?!)
  9. The Conjuring (the first in the series is always the best. Everything else feels a little sub par)
  10. Dark Skies (this! this is a must see for all kids born in the 70’s. It feels like one of those movies you watch in the summer, in the afternoon because nothing else is on between 2-5 pm. Also, you don’t want to go outside and do anything because it’s so hot. Everything. JK Simmons scares the shit out of me with his seriousness)
  11. The Possession (Poor Jeffrey Dean Morgan can not get a strong enough vehicle for his acting. He destroys it as a dad, but wait, here comes our old Jewish, rapping friend-Matisyahu-doing his demon depossession schtick and the end…damn)
  12. Brightburn (Do not get me started! This film overlaps my little tic list above. Just everything. You don’t expect most of this film to be the way it is, but here we are. I really hope I see at least on kid dressed as this kid on Halloween)
  13. Sinister (The house, Ethan Hawke, that backwards sounding music at the climax. I think somebody still owes me some pants. And this also reiterates my story that kids are pretty much evil.)
  14. VHS ( I saw this with a girlfriend at a midnight show in DC. Man, we walked back to her car and scared the bejesus out of each other. Of course, I was the antagonist saying I heard feet following us, or some kind of ticking. When this older guy-the parking attendant-followed us down the ramp to help us move our car-it was game over. Two hysterical black women screaming in a car and she drops the keys so we can’t get in.)
  15. The Last Exorcism (another under the radar horror movie. Loved it. Loved Cotton running towards the entity. Loved the double jointed actress that didn’t need no double to do her fucking stunts, okay?)
  16. Paranormal Activity-The Marked Ones (this works so much better than the others. Why? See, when you start mixing shit like Santeria or any other religion with some American shit, it will always end in destruction. The fact that the vatos took shotguns to a haunted house will never stop amazing me. Why? Because that’s how shit is in real life! Them Mexicans were not playing!)
  17. Truth or Dare (ah, another Blumhouse box ticker. You got dumb kids doing dumb shit and it just keeps going. It will never end…also like…
  18. Final Destination (where to begin?! Again-ticks all the boxes, I can never get enough of the first two or how the last one loops back into the first?! Yass!!)
  19. Escape Room aka Final Destination 2019 (I said it. Get to the end and see what I mean.)
  20. You’re Next (Let’s go out to the country and kill my folks. You brought your girlfriend?! Yeah, she’s weak and shit. Not gonna do much. Oh, think again!! In an Australian accent, “I was raised off grid and yes, I will kill and/or protect everyone here. I don’t give a shit if it was your brother, he gets a nail to the head. The only movie where the bad guys actually cry.)
  21. The Strangers (took me years to watch that. Something about that movie just scared the life out of me. I refused to watch it forever because it’s so random. Why are you killing us? Because you were home. Fuck that shit, this is why I don’t answer my door if you don’t call me first.)
  22. The Purge (how does Ethan Hawke end up in these things? And dying in most of them? Nobody noticed that? Also how the one black dude made it all the way until the last one before he died. Man, we get treated wrong)
  23. The Bay (just because it’s another one of those-that shit can happen movies)
  24. Happy Death Day/Happy Death Day 2 U (corny, hokey and a whole lot of fun)
  25. The Thing (the original!!! Kurt Russell and Keith David. Classic movie lines, everything…they even added an animal)
  26. Mama (reaching but okay, I’ll watch it. Don’t believe Jessica Chastain’s character but hey.)
  27. Sleight (not as much horror as ORIGINAL!! DAMN Y’ALL, COME ON!! THIS WAS GOOD!)
  28. Get Out (If I didn’t put it down, my black people papers would have been revoked. LaKeith Stanfield’s face works so well. It’s like Toni Collette in Hereditary)
  29. As Above, So Below (You added knights and medieval lore. I’m all the way in on this shit. Even my kid watched it.)
  30. Cloverfield (first horror movie I watched with my niece. We laughed at how each other jumped and peed our pants. I’m a fun aunt.)
  31. StakeLand (you either know it or you don’t)
  32. The Other Side of the Door (not much to say about it. the scenery was nice. I watch when it’s on. I may have a slight crush on Jeremy Sisto)
  33. The Witch (would thous love to live deliciously?)
  34. Vatcian Tapes-give me a good possession movie and I will watch that bitch from beginning to end and beginning again. Others-The Exorcist, Emily Rose, Frailty, Incarnate, The Possession of Michael King, The Deaths of Ian Stone…I’m so fucking in)
  35. Bye Bye Man (ticks all the boxes, again. Hell yeah, super corny awesome!)
  36. The Curse of La Llorona (the inspiration for this list and the movie I will show at my job for Hispanic Heritage Month-as we will be celebrating Mexico!)

There you have it. My list of horror movies that I can watch a million times and not be bored. I don’t get inspired from from these movies, but I enjoy them.

Hard Reset

It is June and I’m at an impasse.

I started my writing journey years ago when I was taking ballet after school (and on weekends). I started writing a story called, “The Secret Affair”. It was my version of Dynasty with black folks. The girls in my ballet class caught me and started asking for updates and chapters to read when we took breaks. I hand wrote everything.

I decided to make it into a comic. Not as much success as the written word, so I abandoned it. And our classes were becoming more consuming. Not to mention I had to ride my bike for about 30 minutes downhill and 45 minutes uphill, without having anything but an orange.

Cut to high school, which I despised. I was miserable when I was taken out of public school and put into suburban school. It was mostly black. I shut down more and my writing took a darker turn. When I did write, it was about vengeance and being an outcast with friends elsewhere. My folks divorced and at one point, I thought being a homeless street urchin would have been better than my life. Trust me.

I did what people told me. Take a year off. Get a summer job. The only thing I didn’t do was have sex with this guy that super pressured me and I came to the woeful realization that my high school left me grossly under prepared for college life.

I flunked out.

I worked and wrote. Met some people. Made some memories and ran into old people I knew from high school. We all lived the lie and hugged, said where we were going to school, but I hated all the fakery.

I kept writing. I really got into reading about dystopias because I figured the end of the world was better than the world I was living in now. I felt like an orphan. Parents were focused on other pursuits. Other people thought they were helping by telling me how they failed and how I was smart and knew I would succeed, if I just worked.

What they failed to realize is not having friends or a support system really doesn’t do much for an already depressed person. I felt like my life was slipping away. After the divorce, my parents took away the one thing I had and believed in-ballet.

I imagined myself as a tall, regal, thin black ballerina dancing all over the world. I would have been the only one on stage and hope another little black girl saw me and got inspired.

Instead, I just survived. I didn’t live. I just survived.

Skip a bunch of years to now.

Now, I have awesome writer friends I can reach out to for advice online. I’m closing in on 500 twitter followers and maybe 60 of which I communicate with weekly. I have this website. I’ve been published in the US, Canada and the U.K. I have a mentor ship with a reasonably famous person. And I’m finally getting that degree in writing that has eluded me all this time.

It’s time for a hard reset. I’m old enough to think about my past and see where I can right my wrongs. The problem is the past keeps snaking its way into my brain. I actually told my shrink, “If you could hypnotize me and make me forget from this year to this year, I would be glad. I would never want to know because I would know there’s a reason it’s gone.” They want me to work through it as we cry together.

So, here I go. Everyone makes New Years Resolutions. This seems more feasible. It’s been six months and I’ve done a lot. Not as much as I should or could, but enough to exhaust me. Change begins with me and by writing this down and publishing it, I’ve made the first change.

See y’all on the other side.

Kids Are Evil-Read My Story About It

I love kids. I have three of them but do you ever look at them and think of all the bad things they could do? Like finding a “new rocket” which is a dildo and you have to explain to the parents their new discovery. Or how kids swear they see and hear things that aren’t there? Then, they tell you about what they see and now you are freaked out as well?

Well, I wrote a story and it is here. Published fresh on New American Legends-which is also a brand, spanking new site.

The story is called, “Don’t Go There” and I think it’s scary enough to read during the daytime. This way, you don’t scare yourself as much!