Typically this is a tobacco's season of harvest, a time of transformation, when the leaf is made golden by subjection to fire and heat. In his novel "Curing Time," tobacco farmer Hume Rankin endures his own curing time in the summer of 1959. When the rains won't come and the crops wilt in the field, he solicits the magic of an old, blind black woman. She warns of the dangers of calling on the middle world and tells him once those spirits are unleashed, it is they who decide how the spell unfolds. Hume dismisses her warning, to his peril. When his lifelong nemesis, Worth Baker, is found dead, all eyes are on Hume. He faces the all-too real possibility of losing his land, his family and even his life. Sitting in a jail cell, uncertain of his own innocence, he finds himself lost and haunted by the possibility that he may have played a part in his own demise. Author Tim Swink, the grandson of a North Carolina tobacco farmer, has written for several publications, including USA Today. He lives in Greensboro. Softcover, 212 pages, $13.95.