rmack: bookmaker

Throughout history women have stood up, stepped out, and raised voices in the name of dignity, equity, and equality. Sometimes a woman must speak for one, often she chooses to speak for many. In the end, she does what needs doing. She starts something.

Today it's my turn to begin something new. I do this in the midst of a world upended by frustrating, sad, or scary daily news events. But I must go ahead. Why? Because in 2016, after a woman finally won the presidential nomination of a major political party, a door opened. For a while it stood ajar, this or that person slipping by, but now our sisters, woke and rising, are ripping that door from its hinges so everyone can pass through.

Who am I talking about?

The girls, women, and those identifying as female who organized and attended the largest socio-cultural march in herstory. I'm talking about the record number of gals running for office and those already serving in government. They're determined to push past the patriarchy and stake claims on important issues. Also, the females in the film and publishing industries, saying #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #WeNeedDiversity in order to create wide-spread support for any and all victims of harassment, abuse, or oppression. And what about the lady educators and activists, old, young, lesbian, transgender, queer, female-identifying, with skin tones in all colors and shades, who practice and teach dignity, equity, and equality every single day? These ladies model for girls and boys what it means to be emotionally intelligent and fair.

Most recently, though, I'm talking about Emma Gonzalez.

Last weekend a bright, articulate high school student named Emma addressed a crowd of Floridians. She spoke about gun violence and reform. She spoke with passion and honesty. The reason? She's dedicated to taking valued and valuable action so that her school becomes the last to be ambushed by a young gunman. I cried, listening to her speech. I was also inspired. She's not afraid to show how she hurts. She's not afraid to use her power. She's starting something while still in pain and grieving and she's won't take no for an answer. It's not right that she and her classmates have to do this, and some mock them. These kids won't stop though. And I understand why.

In 1983, my sister's friend found a gun and ended up dead. I was in fifth grade and shocked. I wondered about the hunting guns in my house. Locked away and off limits, but...

If someone really wanted to get their hands on them...

The morning after the accident, I watched teachers scrambling, worried, nervous, sad. Discussing gun safety or violence at school was a new. Parents also seemed a little stuck. I mean, kids knew guns weren't toys, but we had little knowledge about how to handle a weapon. In the end, for the time, the adults did the best they could. Still, I have no memories of being advised or counseled after the funeral. It had been an accident, so it was okay to let the whole incident slip from view.

Except, it didn't. At least not for the kids.

We looked at each other differently. We took sadness or depression or risky choices seriously. In short, we vowed to be there for each other. And the pact was set at the local roller rink. I'm serious. On the Friday after the shooting, we showed up like we always did, ready to hang out and be together. The difference that night was the crying. And long talks. We told each other how much we cared, and as the night went on, the support grew wider and stronger and even reached the victim's sibling. A year older than me, the sibling and I were friends because our brothers and sisters were friends. At the end of the night, we stood at the door, hugging. We ran in different circles, but we would always defend the other's safety and well being. It's lucky we didn't have to. And a few years later, we grew apart. But that moment and the entire incident was so powerful for me that I wrote a story* about it. Thirty. Years. Later!

So, here we are. Another school shooting. And when I see people telling Emma and her classmates to be quiet, step aside, and let the adults handle it, it sparks such anger. Hearing these perspectives in real time isn't just important, it's imperative. All the better when it's the perspective of girls and young females. And for me, the way to thank all these girls, gals, females, and women for what they've done this last year is to step through the wide open space they're making and add to the conversation.

With that, I introduce Tara Landers.

Unlike many I've mentioned in this post, unlike Emma, Tara doesn't want her hurt on display. And she isn't comfortable using her power. But despite her pain and grief, if she wants a better world, she must start this minute to change herself and change minds. And with my help, she will.

Tara is the main character in my illustrated novel, Night Flyer, and on Monday March 5, I'll begin sharing Night Flyer's chapters and art in a new storytelling-meets-book-building feature called rmack: bookmaker.

The idea behind rmack: bookmaker is to use this blog and my Patreon page to publish the story and explain the process of designing and independently publishing a book for sale. I've picked Night Flyer as the first rmack: bookmaker novel because of how closely tied it is to our current social and political environments. There's such an urgency around this plot and these characters that it's possible the book won't be finished until some key governmental changes take place. But I won't get ahead of myself. 

This moment is about seventeen-year-old Tara, the luxurious but corrupt city of Meadowlark, and me letting you, readers, have the first look at bringing a book to life. Again, I'll use this blog and my Patreon page as companion sites, with each serving a unique purpose. In the days leading up to rmack: bookmaker's first post, I'll drop in and explain the specifics and some backstory. I sure hope you'll follow along. The best ways to do that are:

1. Sign up to follow this blog. To get email updates, go to the FOLLOW BY EMAIL section in the right hand column of this page, enter your email address in the box, and click the Submit button.

2. Click here to become a storm row studio patron. Patrons get the latest writing and art news (and secrets) before the general public and I have several tier levels, from $1 to $7 a month. Signing up is like taking out a subscription or paying a membership fee and it helps me earn a living from sharing my work. Of course, there's no obligation and you can cancel or upgrade tiers at anytime.

Thank you for taking a moment from your day to hear about rmack: bookmakerTara's been waiting for people to begin embracing the true power of women just so she could step out of the shadows and divulge her secrets. I suppose, with rmack: bookmaker, I'm doing a bit of the same. It's scary, sure, but it's time to start.

*If you'd like to read excerpts of roll, the story loosely based on my childhood experience with gun violence, please click here.


haiku book review


Dana, called to heal.
An ancestor, pushing her
To limits unknown.

a graphic novel adaptation of 
octavia butler's kindred
by damian duffy & john jennings

to read a longer review, please visit: