Breakdancing and Art Therapy - How I Reconcile Through Publishing

So I'm writing in a hotel room in NYC with a view of Radio City Music Hall to my right and the church of Saint Patrick to my left. A pile of clothes heaped next to me, somehow taking up more space than my sprawled out 5' 2" frame.

Could never have imagined I would be here even a few months ago. Last night I had a reading and book signing at the ever cool and relevant MoCADA Museum. For the first time, aside from the audiobook recording, I read snippets of the book I wrote for my sister, Nefeterius McPherson, who passed away in March of 2014.

What a strange sensation.

I'm a person who fully accepts that I am quirky, and have for some time. After reading The Ghanaian Goldilocks and F is for Fufu aloud with a good amount of ease, I found myself fumbling for words in front of this small group of supportive, gorgeous listeners. "Um," I began, unsure, "this one, um...this one I've written for my sister and I won't be reading it, 'cause, you passed away and um..."

I don't even know what else I said.
It's not the first time I've found myself unable to read or even share the book I wrote for her.
Once in the airport someone wanted to buy it after I told them I was an author and showed them some of the examples of my books I had on hand, and I hesitated to sell it.
What an unpredictable thing grief is.

My assistant/PR & Marketing Director/lifesaver/lifelong friend smiled sweetly and nodded as I physically reacted to the task at hand with what surely looked like discomfort personified.

I scanned the room and found, unexpectedly, this strange sensation of urge to continue, at least a couple of pages. An inclination to push through what I didn't necessarily want to do but should  anyhow.

Aren't books written to be read?

I was twitching. Trembling. Rubbing my neck with my left hand while my right hand held Auntie Nappy.

I did it. two pages. Then three. Out of order.

But I did it.

It was a big step for me. In acceptance. In healing.

There is power in sharing. I am grateful for the support, any and all genuine support, that I have received in the last 16 months.

In three days she would have been 41.

My latest book, B is for Breakdancing, is a nod to her and everyone everywhere who loves to just let loose, feel the music, surrender to it, and have a good time. The dedication reads: For Noah and Milo, and for their Aunt Nefeterius, who was always the best dancer at any party.

It's true.

The thing I love about visual art, is that you can create your own reality, which exists in its own right. In my books, I like to have Phil (my illustrator) depict her as I will always see her...vibrant, dancing, ALIVE.

Here are a couple of pages from B is for Breakdancing: An ABC Book of Ways to Shake What Your Momma Gave You. I hit the publish button on it this morning, in this hotel room next to a pile of clothes...fighting back tears as I post this, but knowing she'd be more than proud...she'd be delighted and wowed.

"This is beautiful, Tammy," she'd say.

And I'd hear her.
I'd give anything to hear her again.

Nappy striking a pose

My mom, Nappy and me
doing what we've done countless times
in the living room, at weddings...
for no reason at all
The Electric Slide


  1. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your sister, Tamara. What a lovely tribute to her. I bet she is grooving in the clouds right now :)

    Where can I order your books? I have a 14 month old son for whom I'd love to purchase them (as well as 13 and 10 year old daughters who would surely appreciate the aesthetic and soul put into those pages).



    1. Thank you Vashelle! Please email us at [email protected] to order The English Schoolhouse books or visit her website Thanks for your support!!

  2. Your words just made me cry and I wish I was there to hug you sis!! I'm so proud of you and so is your sister!! This is my latest favorite book of yours but I'm sure you'll find a way to top even this one!! I'm doing a lil tootsie roll for you from St. Charles to celebrate yet another wonderful work. Wiped away tears b/c reading this made me emotional!! I love you! I'm there for you always!! And we'll have many more nights like the one yesterday at MoCaDa!! just perfect we are meant for these days!! And it's gonna get greater later! I feel it taste it!! #Bliss Your sister and I are so proud of you!! Keep up the Dope work. and stop that crying! Thugs don't cry 'fo I hit you in the neck! LOL!