My book Maybe the Bird Will Rise is the story of Emerson (Mack) Mackenzie and Tess Cartieri, college loves who find each other again after the death of his wife. Of course, there are obstacles to their being together—namely, distance. As Mack tries to figure it out, he learns that his family history began in the (fictional) Tennesse city Tess lives in—the city of Port Kenneth, Tennessee. His family also has a secret they call the Mackenzie Treasure. He and Tess learn what it is.
And an entire fictional world was born!
The Mackenzie Treasure, it turns out, are people. The formerly enslaved, to be precise. Mack’s many-times-great grandfather engaged in the purchase of humans, but instead of putting them to work on his sheep farm, he educated as many as he could, taught them a trade, and then moved them around the country in hopes of helping them build better lives. He offered that support through generations, if the families so chose.
I am seeking authors of color to write the stories of the Treasure and their descendants. These stories deserve to be told; they need to be told.
At the same time, I am seeking all sorts of diverse authors (other ethnicities, religions, LGTBQ, disabled, military vets, autism spectrum, varying educational backgrounds, and anything else not often represented in today’s publishing landscape) to tell the stories of the people who live in my present-day fictional Tennessee city.
If you are interested in joining the authors of the Tales from the Sheep Farm project, please fill out the interest form.
People are treasures too
The city of Port Kenneth, Tennessee is a rich and vibrant city. Come join us and follow the story of Emerson Mackenzie and Tess Cartieri, college lovers who reunite only to discover Mack’s roots are deep in Port Kenneth history… and parts of that history are dark, and parts of that history are soaked in the crops this area of the country is best known for.
Explore the city through the eyes of a set of diverse and usually marginalized characters who have stories to tell and lives to live. From Jewish street photographer Delia Ford to nonbinary executive assistant Taylor Alexander to Black life coach Serenity Williams—and of course Mack and Tess—the Tales from the Sheep Farm project celebrates all of us and all of our diverse, colorful, ethnic best.
And as this project grows, expect to see stories of the past, of the Mackenzie Treasure. Stories that for too long, history has buried but that need to be told in order to fully understand who we are as Americans, and how much stronger we are when we come together and seek the best in each other. When we treat each other as the treasures we are.