Growing up in households where words and phrases in both Kiowa and Cherokee were spoken and mixed with English, it gave me a unique understanding of language. As my family spoke, someone could be both skaw-stee and mon’sape. Skaw-stee is a Cherokee word that means “stuck up,” and mon’sape is a Kiowa word that means “trouble maker.” Mix these words with other phrases and Indigenized English words like gaa which is the Native version of “golly,” and all of a sudden language becomes a playground of agency. Where this Kiowa/Cherokee/Mexican boy had a canvas of words to create a beautiful new symmetry.

(more…)

“What do you write?” Have you heard that question before? For literary writers this question is like a grain of dirt on the ass cheek of a wild hog running through the brush in the Ozark Hills. Every time I go to answer the question I know what’s going to follow. It’s going to be another question, with a quizzical expression on the questioner’s face, asking me, “What’s literary fiction?”

(more…)

There are some great bookstores in your community. And today is a great day to stop by. It’s independent bookstore day and local businesses need us to shop local to sustain the unique qualities of our specific communities. Local bookstores do great things like support artists, hold readings for children, and give authors a community platform to share their work. If you haven’t attended your local bookstore, please take the time to stop in today. Once we get in the habit of shopping at our local bookstores, we foster a network of creativity, compassion, and spirit.

(more…)

It’s gotten crazy out there. These social media giants are getting more and more ridiculous every day. They’re contributing to the polarization of the politics in America as opposed to just running their companies. Their egos are bigger than their platforms. I’m not going to name any names here so I don’t contribute to their idiocy. But we all know the name of the newest buy out and the one who started it all. At one point, I’d say back in the good ol’ days of MySpace, it was an environment where we could create our own content and engage with each other freely. Now algorithms and propaganda have disrupted our freedom. We no longer have an array of personalities with unique qualities. Now it’s one of two choices. Get in your line and stay in your lane. Way too rigid for my tastes. So I’m back!

(more…)

When we pick up any literary novel we must commit to being an active reader. We can be entertained by the surface plot and the triangulation between characters, certainly. But the purpose of literary fiction is to dive deeper into the text and search for symbols. Not only the symbols that comprise a larger thematic in a storyline, but, more importantly, the symbols that shape the really real world we walk through every day.

(more…)

So I know it’s not cool to say “own voice writer” anymore these days, but we have to give credit to the Native writers writing from inside our own tribal communities. It doesn’t happen as often as you might think. And you know what happens even less? When a debut Native writer from inside his tribally specific and historically targeted community gets a little recognition.

(more…)

“Did you hear about Kaleb Nowater? Maybe his name was Kevin. I’m not sure, but it was a K name for certain. Come to find out, he was sexually assaulted by a worker at that children’s group home. By whom? It was ol’ what’s his face. I forget, but he likes to surround himself with those wannabe artists. Anyway, they fired him because they caught him sleeping during overnight shifts in that poor boy’s room. Awful. And imagine all those artists who just look the other way. I wonder if they know. More so, I wonder if they care more about their reputation than a child getting harmed. Just makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it. Who makes sexual advances on a teenage boy with emotional and psychological issues?”

(more…)

If you’re getting silenced, or an attempted silence, as an artist/writer this is a sign you’re doing something right.  The ACLU has extensive documentation about the rights of artists to speak our minds and advocate for communities.  Intimidation tactics from white supremacists didn’t stop me from writing my first novel, UNSETTLED BETWEEN, and they won’t stop me from writing my “ICW” novel.  Power hungry racists will always fear artists. We have a power they’ll never have: the ability to move audiences to connect with a deeper sense of their own humanity.

(more…)

There I am, like you, and so many writers, sitting at my computer and starting a new writing project.  I’m drawing up characters because this story has been running through mind for years and it’s finally ready to go onto a page.  Since I already have a working idea of who my main character is and her antagonist, I now need to weigh her against Karpman’s drama triangle.  What is her good, bad, and ugly?  This is how I’ve drawn multidimensional characters for over 10 years.  But then two other creative forms changed my approach:  Evolutionary astrology and Stanislavski’s method acting.

(more…)