Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dragons, Wights, Giants, White Walkers yes! Brown people Not so Much.

First read this where George R.R Martin sort of addresses his franchises race problem.

This jumped out at me:

In June, a fan asked Martin: “There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books?”

Martin replied:

Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest,

Wait..hold up.

So in a fantasy realm that is an analogue of the British Isles…that if you do non racist research you’ll learn is not the fantasy bastion of pure whiteness. We have:

  • Dragons
  • White Walkers
  • Giants
  • Gigantic Wolves
  • Children of the Forest
  • Krakens

ETC

That totally works because well, what is fantasy without fantastical creatures.

But it is so hard to not erase the POC or to use them in deeply racist and problematic ways in the books?

Thinly veiled Latina (hot spicy slutty) stereotypes, people coded as Black referred to as “mongrels” by one of the Whitest White Savioring (Mother) slave lover/dehumanizer, rape rapity rape rape RAPE…all that is completely perfect for an Analogue of some time period in the British Isles that doesn’t fucking exist and that’s all okay BUT it is not okay to put Asian or Black folks in the story?

…………really?

Yes really. It is something I have heard from White fantasy readers since I first wanted to talk about fantasy with other fans when I was a kid.

POC make the story unbelievable.

Even if the people (problematic or not) in the story are described as Black or Asian or Latina they are read as White or if the thing is moved to a visual medium they are magically white or as we found out when the Hunger Games came out, people are disappointed that a character is of color.

Look White authors, white readers this is why POC fans can’t trust you and why we are pissed off.

Look.

If you are going to rely on stereotypes that are harmful to actual readers because you can’t look at POC as full humans or you just won’t, don’t bother.

Stop.

A lot of White authors wring their hands about how “hard” it is to write POC. Look it’s not really that fucking hard if you look at people of color as fully functional human beings. If you don’t actually do that and seriously honest with yourself, I question your motives and everything else.

One of the fundamental ideas about character is that they are in essence fully made beings and if you are a pretty good author you write them with depth.

If you write every other character (even to the non human) with depth and feeling and reduce your token POC to bed warmers, tongueless slaves, slaves or other two dimensional characters I don’t trust you.

As readers if you can legit believe in the perils of White Walkers and that winter is fucking coming and having non white fully formed characters in a story ruins it, well as they say you might be a racist.

Being both a fan and a creator let me show you how I feel about this in a nutshell:

OFFTOFUCK

God damn it.

We live in the fucking future.

It is 20 mother fucking 14 and White people still often act like POC are aliens and there’s no way to actually hear us speak or learn about us without colonizing or assimilating.

Come on now.

Try the fuck harder.

That’s all.


Dear Authors an Open Letter to Writers

Dear Authors,

I recently finished reading Ghost Story by Peter Straub.(This is an affiliate link sorry)

Overall it was an entertaining yarn. I’m not super familiar with his ouevre but some of what I’ve read was pretty good.

And then this.

Okay look, can we stop with the mystical magical negro?

Also can we not denote said mystical magical negro with some heavily antiquated shuck n jive, minstrel (yeah the one Black man in this book…minstrel..you know) every old black man is a blues man who speaks in raspy jazzy baritone with a lot of I be’s and shit.

Fuck.

Really?

REALLY?

I just, y’all.

Can you not?

Just don’t bother if that is the only thing you can think of. Even for a novel with a timeless ageless mystical magical negro, there are other ways of expressing blackness even antiquated blackness.

White writers this is a problem.

So really if you’re not even going to really try to do something outside of the mystical magical shuck n jive I be playin dem blues boss negro, stop.

Maybe I have too much expectation. Or faith in writers who have made more money than I have ever seen in my lifetime that they could (Straub, King, I am looking at you two) think of something else to do.

Mr. Bunny…Bones…whatever his name was from this book was the evil version of the Black man in the book he did with King.

Literally the same rhythms and cadences and manners of speech.

Authors at large, y’all know there are many different accents and types of Black people speech right?

Frankly anything written after the year 2000, come on now.

I feel like these things are again ruining my love of horror.

Ruining it.

I mean okay if you can build a world within the modern world where there are ancient mythological beings who will fuck up your whole life only because they can and they are bored, and you can populate an entire town with interesting people, and you can research enough so that behaviors from specific time periods make sense why is there only that Black man in so many horror stories.

I feel the same way about fantasy stories.

I got two books into the Shannara series and had to quit.

Not too long ago I went on a mission to check out some online horror/sf/f zines.

So much with the Whiteness. To the point where I wonder if classic horror tropes treated outside of European roots would be understood? Accepted?

What is even…ugh.

I’m so frustrated. I want to read shit I like and not feel shitty about it.

Something outside of Whiteness or nah?

Apparently nah.

I don’t want to read another mystical magical minstrelized blues playing shuck n jive negro.

So a lot of stuff is just out.

I am seriously feeling some type of way about this right now. I have a lot of horror/sf/f/ related stuff on my writing bucketlist but I feel like there is no place for me in genre fiction and it hurts my fucking heart.

So really, dear other authors can you not?

Sincerely,

Shannon Barber


Writing Process Blog Tour.

So a new homie Sarah Crawford invited me to participate in this. You can see her contribution over here. Okay let’s go.

1. What are you currently working on?

I am mostly in the process of figuring out how to do my freelance stuff and do my fictions and not completely freak out. One of the things I’m having trouble with is writing some really heavy shit (See here) and remaining engaged but not getting pulled into bullshit or lingering on it.  Because I write about hard shit from a very personal in my feelings perspective, dealing with the hate mail and the rage directed at me that turns racialized very quickly has just been kind of overwhelming.

I did have a bit of a melt down and felt shut down about shit for a minute.

And then I remembered I have shit to do. I have an essay to fix up (it is going to be good wait till y’all see it)  I have articles about self care to write. I have stories to finish.

So that’s pretty much what I’m doing these days.

I feel like I am slowly figuring out how to do more of the writing things while working the day job and keeping myself somewhat emotionally level.

Shit is hard as fuck.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Um.

I don’t really do one genre. I think what makes my work different is that it is written by me. I write about a lot of the same stuff other folks do but it is from my heart and that’s a special place.

3. Why do you write what you write?

Most of the time everything I write starts out for my own amusement. Sometimes I want to play with an idea or method, other times I want to see if I can make something work. Most of all they are the stories I want to read. I think that writing advice came from On Writing but I can’t remember. It has stuck with me and I’ve run with it sometimes to the detriment of my career but that’s okay.

Also sometimes I just want to help other people. I want to be of service and the type of person who writes stuff I needed to see when I was a kidlet.

And sometimes I just have to. I don’t know why but I have to.

4. How does your individual writing process work?

Normally (especially right now due to technological issues) I am writing by hand and at the day job. I do my dayjob shit and have either a word doc or zoho docs open and scribble catch as catch can.

If life was easier/simpler I would be writing regularly at night between say 11 PM and maybe 3 AM.

But life is not fair so I write like a mother fucker every chance I get.

A few random thoughts here at the end.

I really am happy and grateful that I am working through this stuff. For a hot minute I wanted to rage quit freelancing and non fiction all together.

I think what really set me on the edge of saying fuck it was the very instant and hard realization just how hard some people will work to shut down a Black woman. I am not famous, I don’t make a lot of money doing this but I do know that my work matters.

I know that I’ve hit some real tender nerves.

People are so invested in their totally not racistness that they will follow me around the internet telling me how wrong I am any time I open my mouth. I could literally say on twitter or facebook that wiping your ass is awesome and someone would ride into one of my inboxes saying shit like NO NIGGER I WILL NEVER WIPE MY ASS.

It is beyond trolling to the point that some people have taken my words so personally, they believe it is personal between them and me.

It’s not.

I am working hard to return to my state of grace where I write what the fuck I want and give ZERO fucks.

I’m working on it.

I hope I get back to the sweet spot.

 


20 Years.

I realized a few days ago that as of next month, I have been trying to get published/getting published for 20 years.

20 years.

My first publication (I lied) I was 17 and it was a long angsty poem about an older lesbian with auburn colored armpit hair and a very sweet smile.

While I am so full of angst about trying so hard to figure out where my work fits in with the literary world, I’m taking a minute to remember back then.

It was the mid 90s and when I could afford it I would buy copies of Poets and Writers or I would sit with them at the library and copy the names and addresses of literary magazines. I would then go to my high school (while I was in high school that is until 95) computer lab and furiously type up poems and stories in secret. This was of course after weeks or months of rewriting on paper.

Nobody ever really wrote back. I remember crying because I’d spent a quarter of a paycheck my senior year on having nice paper, envelopes and postage. With SASE and nobody wrote back to tell me no even.

That first published poem I submitted under a pen name I told nobody about. I was ashamed and proud. Ashamed because I didn’t feel like I was allowed to be a writer. I should have done better in school, I should have had a better body, I should have been a better daughter, a better person.

I had one little copy of the print zine, I had gone downtown Seattle to Left Bank Books and bought it for a quarter. I may have whispered (I was very shy) to the guy at the register that I wrote a poem in it, or I might have imagined that.

After that when I could afford it I bought literary magazines. Or I bought Poets and Writers. I tried really hard to write what I thought people would want to publish.

I wrote, I cried. I obsessed.

I remember having this obsession with Muses and the nature of them. I wrote about shoveling coal into a furnace. I wrote about my Muses getting naked and fucking each other in my head.

I masturbated while reading Henry Miller and On Our Backs.

I had the seeds of what would later become my love of writing weird syncretic mythologies.

I wrote observational freewrites while I sat on the sidewalk outside of Nordstrom Rack at 6 AM waiting for a but home.

I wrote about a boy who smelled of sweaty boys skin, leather and smoke. I slipped it into his pocket and walked away.

I did not get published in print again for a few years.

At one point I “retired” from trying to be a writer. I was living hard scrabble with a friend, working a minimum wage office job and doing phone sex. I had my first foot fetish for pay thing. I let a man give me money for looking at my cunt.

I started feeling incredibly crazy. I started to journal again and as I listened to men jerking off on the phone I started to learn how to write erotica. I wrote little stories about Puppy training and humiliation. I learned about forced feminization and how much I wanted to do those things.

At the same time I was reading amazing Queer erotica and had a terrible crush on Patrick Califa.

I wrote.

I did not tell a soul. No one.

A while later I got internet access. I found other writers. I posted on Literotica, I posted on other websites. My dear friend Anthony posted my first finished horror erotica piece in his print magazine.

I got paid to write lesbian erotica.

I got lectured by an editor not to be so Queer in the work I was going to be paid to write for him. Not because I did that but because he read my personal sex blog. That was the first time I stood up for myself and my writing to an editor.

I wrote and saved my work on floppy disks I carried in a tiny purple accordion looking thing. I lost work. I cried. I hated computers.

I learned how to submit things via email.

I wrote.

I wrote so much.

I got rejected a lot.

I got published sometimes.

Now in the last ten years I started to stop giving a fuck about what I thought people want to publish. My writing has changed and become something far more indicative of the writer. I stopped forcing myself to adhere to Whiteness. I get published a bit less often.

Around four years ago I made the decision that even if it means I will never have “commercial” success, I will talk about racism in the industry and name names when I need to. I will talk publicly about my experiences and how I feel about them.

I decided to publish things myself even though I’ve been told it will ruin me. I published imperfect work that I am proud of because I made it and I have learned from it. I am not ashamed of that. I have (don’t ask me how) made myself a small niche where I feel good. I feel like I am doing this shit on my fucking terms and it is okay.

Sometimes I am still pretty scared that I will never be published again because I like being published. On the other hand, some days I don’t give a hot fuck.

I write.

I am still doing this and I believe in myself.

I feel good about the shit I write that gets rejected by everyone because it’s not absolutely perfect or because it’s not a “story story” or it’s too dirty for literary magazines, or it is not racial uplift.

It is painful sometimes but I am still doing the damn thing.

Sometimes I help some people.

Sometimes I make people really angry.

Sometimes the scribbles in my notebook are poetry to me and I feel like I’ve shown a bit of my soul even if every editor hates it.

So 20 years in the industry, no fame, no fortune.

20 years and hardly anybody knows who I am and that is okay.

I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be.

Happy Anniversary me.

Happy fucking anniversary.


On E Readers and technological panic.

I was reading around (I lost the link) and came upon yet another article hand wringing about ereaders and ebooks being the death of the paper book.

When I see these arguments almost invariably it comes down to, this is not what I want to do and NOBODY SHOULD.

Since I got a kindle for Christmas it occurs to me that people are really freaking out over nothing.

Rarely do I see any of the panicking ebook freakouts acknowledge how much more accessible a lot of books are for a lot of people.

Let’s talk cost first of all.

I have a metric ton of .99 cent and free books on my kindle. Some of them I got for shits and giggles, some were on sale and others on a whim. Frankly I do not make enough money to read everything I want. And at this point libraries don’t fully serve my needs.

Also it has meant that when I can’t afford the hardcover or first print of a paperback I have other options which is great.

And unfortunately a lot of the critique of ebooks/readers is pretty ableist.

What about people who can’t see well? Elderly people? What about the other functions so many ereaders can do?

I was talking about this with someone who is severely dyslexic and they have an app that reads to them. Hell yeah that means they now have access to ALL the books rather than a few.

Why would that ever be bad?

Then there’s the whole question of “quality”.

I hate that question.

Who cares really if someone wants to read Sasquatch porn on their ereader. It’s not my cup of tea but if someone wants to read it, awesome they are reading.

A lot of it seems like empty fapping while moaning about how awful something one personally might not be into is.

It reminds me of when writers thought that the ease of indie publishing and blogging etc would let in the dirty heathens without publishing deals.

I was recently reminded of this by one of those hand wringing articles about how awful literature is where the deeply coded language basically said OH NO WHERE ARE THE WHITE MEN.

I just kind of shake my head.

I am really can’t get behind such panicked signs of change. The lit world can’t be only those who are let in forever.

It is so vast, I do actually believe it is big enough for everyone.

I always just want to pat people and tell them to calm down. Literature is gonna be okay. It might not be the literary canon you are used to but that’s good for folks.

Oh also soon I have lots of writing news, AND a round up of books and stuff that I am really excited about.

To that end if y’all have stuff you want me to read or want promoted drop the link here.


Liebster Award

I got tagged by the folks from Hessian With Teeth (which is a great fucking name by the way) so here we go.

First 11 things about me:

  1. One of the reasons I have not yet finished a novel is that I am afraid I can’t do it. I’m working on it.
  2. I really love bugs. I am very into insects because when I was a tween I read a book with a forensic entomologist and have been obsessed since. My favorites are moths of varying species, very large beetles and Madagascar Cockroaches. I love them all so much I plan to get insect themed tattoos on my chest.
  3. I am very into beauty and make up. I love wearing, writing about, researching and wallowing in it. Between you and I was not interested until I figured out how to deal with beauty ideals on my own terms. In other words I figured out fuck em. I have my own ideas about beauty and will indulge myself as I see fit.
  4. We know I’m deep into self care. For me it is a means of survival and I try to treat myself like a fucking queen at every opportunity.
  5. I also really fucking love sharks. Shark week is the best week on TV and I NEEDED megalodon to be real. Like I squee like a cracked out five year old when I see anything about sharks. See this meme I tend to yell that at the tv when shark shows are on: shark
  6. I not so secretly kind of melt/shutdown when really good things are going/happening I get really scared and I want to curl up like a potato bug and freak out. I”m trying to not but it’s hard.
  7. I am a musical fanatic. I listen to a whole lot of music and I can nerd out about musical things for hours. My favorite is connecting music with influences and stuff.
  8. When I am sad or uncomfortable or otherwise need to soothe myself I sing. I love to sing and sometimes have a nice voice. Taking voice lessons to learn to sing properly is on my bucket list. I am a natural tenor and like to sing swing music the most. Although I dream of having a big balls metal voice
  9. I am really very into the idea of living in a large space but I don’t actually want to own property.
  10. Most of the TV I watch is murder. Forensics shows, murdery mystery, recreations. I dunno why but I find it soothing.
  11. Holy shit I’m bad at these.

Now onto their questions.

ur questions for them are:

1) What convinced you to start blogging?

I started blogging a really long time ago. First just for fun and to write down my adventures. And then in the last I dunno six years or so I’ve used blogging as a way to learn how o write non fiction.

2) Do you volunteer? For what cause and why?

I suppose my other blog is volunteerism. I do it because I care about folks. I don’t have the spoons to do a lot of in person stuff but I do what I can for stuff like body politics, sex ed, I will pass along beneficial information to people and stuff.

3) Do you consider yourself an activist?

Yes.

4) What is your favorite genre to read?

JEEZE uh. I don’t actually have one. I go through moods where I read one obsessively until I need a break. Currently I’m reading a lot of memoirs and fantasy.

5) Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by them?

I have a lot of favorites. I reread a lot of Selby.

6) If you could spend the day with any well-known figure (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

Uh.  I am not sure. NEXT QUESTION.

7) What truths, if any, do you hold as self evident? Why?

I believe that the world can be better because it has to be.

8) Do you attend any conferences? If so, which ones any why?

I went to my first one this year. It was way more intense than I expected and I had a series of massive panic attacks, almost pooped my pants (YAY anxiety) but I did a reading and it was great. I also met Roxane Gay and she was super nice to me. I sort of stared at Kyle Minor and then ran away. I met some folks, I did an anonymous postcard exchange, I won some swag and came home with a bag full of journals and things. And a free pen from Cimarron Review and they were very nice. I am hoping to try it again better prepared.

9) What is your dream job?

Writer, freak (as in body modded weirdo), oddities collector, maker.

10) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would make it easier to get people to use their critical thinking skills and understand context.

11) If you could make a movie, what would it be about and who would be in it?

I would like to make a horror movie with an all POC cast and my own version of the vampire mythos.

~

Okay I’m not tagging people cause I”m a rebel and I’m nursing a migraine hangover.

Other folks should do these.

Um.

OH righty right. I need to get grinding on submissions I only have three out right now and that feels funny to me. I’m ready.

Later I’m gonna talk about some really amazing stuff.

So go do stuff. Answer these questions in the comments with links and stuff.

GO GO GO.

Also head over to my etsy shop (link in the sidebar on your right) and buy stuff. Baby needs some new holes in her face.


This is Not Okay.

Some poet I’ve only heard of a little bit and the Huffington Post did this. Warning it is the “remixed” last words of the young man who shot people at UCSB. I’ve used do not link so they don’t get clickbait money.

One of this persons responses is here.

This is taken from the huffpo page itself:

The aim of this metamodern poem is to turn on their heads the words of hatred Elliot Rodger left behind him as he exited this world. The author condemns in the strongest terms the actions of Elliot Rodger; the aim here is to rescue language from the perversion of language, not to glorify an individual whose actions were incontrovertibly evil. Note that this poem is intended as an address to, not an address from, Elliot Rodger.

Are you fucking joking?

He exited and left hate? No he left blood, death, and families who have senselessly lost their loved ones because they were women or men in the wrong place.

This man killed those people because he hated women. There is no reclamation of that.

None.

Now I’ve only seen this discussed so far at VIDA on their facebook page see that here.

I don’t know if this poet thinks that it will do something great for his career to ride the coattails of the murder of innocent women, or if it is one of those fucking hipster I’m totally not sexist but I’m really fucking awfully sexist type things or what but, this is not okay.

I’ve seen calls about being censored.

Okay you are a professional and educated writer. If you don’t understand that tolerance of bullshit is not censorship maybe your fancy degrees and publication credits are wasted.

I have seen (usually) men do this often because they feel something for their brethren but this faux concern is aimed at the wrong place.

I would like to see Mr. Abramson stand in front of the families of the murdered people and explain to them how his poem is “addressed to” the man who murdered their loved one because he felt entitled to posessing the bodies of “blond sluts”.

How about standing in front of every woman who has ever been terrified and in fear for her actual life because she said no and telling them how on the Huffington Post, how

the aim here is to rescue language from the perversion of language, not to glorify an individual whose actions were incontrovertibly evil. 

This is sick.

This is disgusting.

This is one of the ways we see that there is no respect for the victims in a situation like this because this douchebag thinks that “fixing” the perverted language will do something.

Here is a fact.

The language was not perverted it was crystal clear.

That man hated women.

He felt entitled to getting fucked regardless of his behavior.

Even his family thought he was dangerous.

People died because he couldn’t get his fucking dick sucked.

Where is the poetry to fix the perverted language women hear every day? Where is the remix of the men who chased me for blocks alternately telling me they were going to rape me or that I could get 20$ if I sucked their dicks?

Where is the fix for the times women are called bitches because we have the NERVE to not be sexually available to every dude who wants it?

…………….

nope?

That’s what I thought.

Beyond my general loathing of Clickbait Huffington post nonsense, the fact that this is what the lit world serves up as a response to something that was a.) entirely preventable and b.) so deeply terrifying to so many women I am disgusted.

I am disgusted at the click bait.

I am disgusted with this poet.

I am disgusted that the word censorship has even entered into it.

I am disgusted by the level of privilege it takes to say I don’t want to fight but I like to talk. It is the the same song fake allies use to silence the voices of anyone who makes them uncomfortable.

This entire thing is a circle jerk of privilege and it makes me want to vomit.

Personally given that this writer is now on my radar, I will seek to avoid him and his work entirely. I will warn any women to avoid it. This is yet another instance where I am left wondering, who the fuck is driving the bus.

I had planned on writing about something else but I couldn’t. I hope that after the holiday weekend there is more discussion about this.

Also if you’re going to comment understand that I will not put up with bullshit. None. So don’t.

And let me say this as well.

The real fact is this sort of tragedy is something I think about constantly. As I said in my essay about “Female Privilege”,

What matters is that in my real actual life, at least a few times a month I am forced into the position of being ready to defend myself while taking note of the look of the man/men, while being aware of my surroundings, while being hyper aware that- that night might be the night I get assaulted.

It makes me sick that some douchebag would do this for his own purposes (regardless of his intent) on the back of that kind of pervasive fear.

That’s all. I can’t.


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