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 They are so new that even Staff computers are old and out of date.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!

The Problems of Being Vertical

I have horrible allergies. My sneezes are like full body assaults. My body gives up and quakes with muscle spasms. One would think I have the flu, but no, just allergies.

My allergies would kill The Rock. Destroy him.

And that’s why I am having great difficulty being vertical today. I have things I need to do-homework (lesson planning), queries, hunting for agents but my body has other ideas. It wants me to stay horizontal, let the snot ooze down the back of my throat and make me sound like an old man.

You’ll see. I’ll get these allergies. I’ll get them good and query several publications today. I even made a list. I’ll get my homework done and I’ll even play Uno with my kid. (She will basically serve my ass with a few Draw Fours and Reverses…at least she knows). And I will make dinner.

Muy complicado, but it will be done.

And tonight, I will die. But not without accomplishing something today.

To hell with these allergies.

a formerly happy woman smells a flower and her allergies hit her full time and she is now miserable.  not unlike myself.

Let’s Talk About Asian Cinema and Wong Kar Wai

I have a degree in photography, naturally, I’m drawn to color and light in a much different way than other people. This is why I enjoy the films of Wong Kar Wai. (I also like the work of Takashi Miike and John Woo, but let’s save that for another day).

Barry Jenkins-the director of Moonlight, saw this as well. He said that the way color is used in Wai’s films is very influential. I agree.

What I’ve done is post two videos. The first is Barry Jenkins talking about the effect and influence of Wong Kar Wai’s films on Moonlight.

The second video is the slow motion and beautiful color of Wai’s movies.

Now, why is a writer writing about movies?

Movies are influential. Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 jumps across several timelines and is filmed so beautifully that you can’t help to NOT be inspired by it. I’m not going to offer up summaries of his movies, but I will say that if you haven’t seen them, you should.

There is also a sense of longing in his films. It’s like everyone wants something…they yearn for something that is just out of grasp and they can get it, if they want. If they do, there will be a great consequence for it.

Moonlight movie influence-Wong Kar Wai

The Slow Motion of Wong Kar Wai

Lastly, the obvious visual influence of Wong’s movies over Moonlight.

Influences Wong vs Barry

Powerful stuff.

The films of Wong Kar Wai ( my faves)

Chungking Express (1994)

In The Mood For Love (2000)

Happy Together (1997)

2046 (2004)

Eros (2004) *he did one of three films. His was called “The Hand” and it about a tailor attracted to a high end prostitute. Once again, subtle and beautifully filmed-it’s a must see.

Fallen Angels (1995)

Days of Being Wild (1990)

These aren’t all his movies, just the ones I like. Hopefully, you’ll watch and be influenced as well.

Why I Write

My sister told me to write the story I want to read.

Whenever I’m stuck or simply not feeling it. I always hear those words in the back of my head. Even after spending hours on Pinterest looking at other Writer’s Boards or reading old stories I’ve started and never finished, it all comes down to one thing: movies.

I am a movie buff. I can tell you that Dumplings is a movie I wish I wrote. I think that DC has the better animated canon than Marvel but I appreciate them both. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is way better than Fullmetal Alchemist. I know all the words to Aliens. A movie I thing everyone should see is, A Day Without a Mexican. I prefer independent movies like Series 7: The Contenders, The Babadook, Stake Land over bloated movies like “Insert Any Movie Remake”, The Dark Tower Or Fury Road (how do you call a movie Mad Max and the main character has less than 10 lines, let alone 10 words). These are my choices and I have zero apologies.

As I washed dishes today, I was reminded of why I write. I watched a movie and let me just go over a few things I’ve seen in the last few days:

Black Male Doctor that takes multi ethnic intern under his wing because he’s secretly rooting for her. Oh yes, he’s mean but that’s because he cares.

Black Girl that Saves the Day-movie protagonist lost her memory and despite being all of two years old, little black girl has perfect memories and talks about them like she was older at the time (and she was only two, I mean, hell-now, she’s eight!)  and saves the day. She helps the protagonist remember who she was, despite protagonist getting the shit knocked out of her for over 90 minutes. I’ve never seen an eight year old child look at pictures of themselves as a baby and remember everything that was said around her, about her and by her.  Sheesh.

Sexy Asian Sex Worker that solves murders but can only do so showing you her full naked bush and smeared make up. She works in a sex club (she is a sexy asian exoctical worker, right?) and she runs with her robe open, titties flailing.  Rrrrighttt.

Gay Friend that touches the protagonist’s white shoulder and says, “You should believe in you.” All becomes right with the world and they hug.

Racially Ambiguous Girl that’s not quite black but not quite white but dates white boyfriend and dumps him to find herself. She ends up dating black and everyone laughs and is happy. Fade to black.

Any Spicy Latina starring in the role of chola, gang banger, sexy bitch or whatever Latino stereotype you can think of. But she always got them eyebrows and is muy picante. Maybe her sister is the bad ass in the gang.

Magical Black Best Girl Friend-She stands by while white friend gets herself together with Magical Black Friend’s advice.  Magical Black Best Girl Friend does not have any friends and waits up late at night for white friend to come home from wherever she was and hangs on her every word. She offers more advice and they hug. White friend gets it together and moves on. Hugs Magical Black Best Girl Friend/Sista Friend and drives off into the sunset. Also see Magical Negro.

Culturally Awake/Woke White Person with dreads and black partner. They are so woke that you want to question your own wokeness. But wait! They are super cool and bohemian. They dance on the downbeat and cook some mean collard greens. They also have dreads but it’s cool because they so damned woke. They can get down with any crowd, including that gang banging group of Latinos that just need some love. They also speak whatever language is necessary to save their ass.  So, let them offer the hombres some love.

There is also White Guy With Heart of Gold that Helps Ethnic Groups or People in Trouble and Non-threatening Black Guys.

I could go on, but remember, this was only the last few days.

I write because I like to have a black female protagonist that owns shit. She owns the scene, she kicks ass and everything else. Not only that but maybe she’s mixed (Black and Mexican, Black And Japanese). She may be based on someone I dated or knew. Actual real life people I know and include in my stories in very sly ways.

Don’t give me that shit about, “Well, you’ve got ‘XYZ Vampire Killer’ or the fact that so many Black writers are expanding genres. I get it. But this is about me. This is also about other girls like me that hated not seeing themselves or people like them reflected in stories.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say some shit like, “Well, fuck the fame as long as one person…” Um, no. I want the checks cut to me, I want my shit made into movies and I want to be that famous recluse that people see and thank with a head nod. (I will be with my kid in public and she doesn’t talk much but we are working on it.)

I write what I want to read. I write what I want and I stand by it.

break time!!

I am such a sucker for a good reggae jam. Like old school jams-think Mad Professor-with all the random sound effects, the rhyming style. When this popped up on my instagram-I had to give it a listen and I’ll tell you what. . .(even though my never ending lust for Idris is not a factor) this song is the business! Stop. Play. Dance. Then get back to work because you are fucking awesome!