My new novel, The Prophecy of the Wolf, has been released by All Things That Matter Press! It’s available now at Otherworlds Books and More and Novel Bay in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and Yardstick Books in Algoma, Wisconsin. Readers can also order it from almost any online venue.
I spent three years working on a historical novel that is set in the mid to late 1600s on the Door Peninsula and Washington Island as famous French priests and fur traders started to seriously impact the traditional lives of Native Americans. The Neshnabek, or Potawatomi Tribe, are at the heart of the story as Ogima tells about how he, as a young man, became embroiled in the affairs of Quapaw, a powerful waubeno that has had a vision given to him by a storyteller wolf. Quapaw, because of his shaman visions, starts to try to keep the Neshnabek from falling prey to the fur trade, the beguilement of French trade, and power of Christian conversion. The novel explores the largest themes possible as event follows event, eventually reaching a crescendo that has become a distant legend even in our time. In the process the lifestyle and beauty of Neshnabek civilization and culture becomes a beautiful backdrop to the action.
For World Poetry Day, from my novel, Prophecy of the Wolf, close to being released
The woman wrapped the child against the cold
And walked into the forest where the glow
Of moonlight pooled a deeply shadowed gold
Beneath the trees on softly shining snow.
She gathered wood, the baby on her back,
And built a fire, its warmth a dancing light
Upon a great flat rock protruding black
Into the lake’s infinity of white.
Then, in the dark, sat, death-still, beside
The flames, the baby in her arms, the smear
Of stars above their heads a radiant tide
Of silence singing to the ebbing year.
At last, her voice a permutation slipped
Into the night, she started chanting words
Born deep in spirit as the blackened crypt
Of waters stirred beneath lake ice, and birds,
As black as mourning shrouds, began to fly,
The forest stirring like the waters, wind
A whisper as the baby voiced a tiny cry
And shadowy trees began to sway and bend.
The woman got up on her feet, her voice
As silver as the moon, and sang as deer
Began to bound onto the ice: “Rejoice,”
The woman sang, and as she sang the fear
Felt during hours of pain-filled, labored birth
Dissolved into the biting wind and light
That danced with deer upon the lake, the earth
And living integrated with the night.
In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams has just been awarded the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award for 2019. The award has been around since 1944 and is awarded by the Wisconsin Council of Writers. There have been a handful of years where the Council did not believe an award was warranted.
My publisher, All Things That Matter Press, suggested that I ask my friends and followers to repost this news. I am certainly excited about having this kind of validation for my writing and particularly for this novel. Bennison Books published The Weirding Storm, my epic poem about dragons, kickstarting a writing career that I had largely put aside due to my work with the tribal colleges and universities. I feel a great debt of gratitude to both Bennison Books and All Things That Matter Press for publishing my books. At this point in time I have four novels, one non-fiction book, and two epic poems in print.
In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams is about a black fisher community that settled in the remote wilderness off the coast of the Door Peninsula on Washington Island in the 1850s. Primarily about Joshua Simpson, who is fourteen years old at the start of the novel, it tells the story of an escape from slavery on a Missouri plantation and then the founding of a community on the shores of Death’s Door, a passage between the body of Lake Michigan and the tip of the Door Peninsula.
Under the leadership of the charismatic black Preacher, Tom Bennett, and the help of the Underground Railroad, Joshua, his family, and the other escaped slaves find their dream of New Jerusalem on the island, and then find that discovering paradise is only the first part of their journey.
This, for me, is a great, great day, and I certainly want to thank the Wisconsin Council of Writers. They have made my year!