Yeah Write #473- Baby Needs

Baby Needs

by

Shannon Barber

The word afraid was nothing to me. I was afraid of plenty of things. Clowns, birds, riding in cars sometimes, the shadowy figures of people on the periphery of my vision. I was afraid most of the time. It sat with me and on me, it was a constant companion for a lonely only child. I liked afraid, afraid felt familiar.

I didn’t know fear, real fear until it reached out with smooth cool fingers and wrapped around my coccyx as I stood on the basement steps of our big house in Tacoma staring down into the dusty darkness. I understood something beyond being afraid or uncomfortable, I began to understand the tingle and the giddy temptation of fear.

Once I had the touch of it, the forbidden knowledge that it could make my spine go icy and electric, I needed it. I started a habit. I had a Jones.

Climb onto the roof of our house and stand there watching like Bat Man.

Climb a tree until even the neighbor boy squealed.

Swing until the world turned upside down and let go.

Leap.

Dad jumping out at me wearing the terrifying two headed mask. I flew up from the basement to the protection of my Mother’s thighs.

I still loved it.

The touch.

My habit never got better. The need is never fulfilled. When the fear comes to teach me to not go in there, don’t fight with that man, I just want more.

For a split moment in time as the fear reaches into me I am an infinite screen. I am five years old and shivering in the dark because my Mom put the clown in my room, I am ten and my teeth are bared in a rictus of terror and rage when I look down the open work stairs and imagine tumbling to my death, I am 21 in a strangers’ apartment, deciding if we’re going to fuck or fight. I am 43 and without a mask.

Afraid is a word that means little to me, I am the same child and walk with afraid as close as my own skin. And now, I know fear. I have fear. Fear loves and abides and waits to take me again and I will give in because, I don’t know anything else.

###

 

 

 

Free smut Tuesday. CW kinky gay smut

No booboo. I’m serious. This is what beloved friends would call, big dickin fight club. You’ve been warned.

BUT I will put it under a cut just in case. I wrote this yesterday. I haven’t written anything dirty in a minute. I was recommended some erotica to someone and this happened. Generally unedited. ENJOY them feels in your pants babe. Even if you’re not gay….just enjoy pantsfeels.

Hold Me Down

Continue reading “Free smut Tuesday. CW kinky gay smut”

Book Review- Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Okay my babes. Buckle in cause I’m about to go in on the homie Gabino Iglesias.

If you haven’t been with me for a while, Gabino is one of my favorite writers. I wrote a review on his book Zero Saints here. Open that in a new window and read it next.

SO lets GET INTO THIS. Coyote Songs* by Gabino Iglesias.

coyote-songs-gabino-iglesias-book-cover
[image description: a book cover with a weathered but beautiful Virgin Mary, the title is in yellow Coyote Songs below that the authors name, Gabino Iglesias.]
The short version is, holy fuck this is an amazing book. It is not for everyone. The TL:DR is coming at you.

It took me weeks to read this book. It isn’t the longest book nor does the frequent Spanish slow me down, it is so fucking rich and beautiful and bloody, it hurt me to read. Yes it is very violent, it is graphic, it is intimate and reaches into your heart and it is so beautifully written. It is fucking brutal and the kind of beating I crave as a reader.

Yeah I know some of y’all are gonna nope out because it isn’t fluffy and that is fine. For me, this type of hard hitting, gut punch writing is my escape.

This book is gorgeous. It is a bloody mouth I would kiss and be happy. I also want to note, if you are averse to needing to look up some Spanish it is also not for you. My Spanish isn’t awesome but, what I couldn’t figure out I looked up and it is worth it.

Gabino has such a masterful touch with the way he uses language. One of my personal favorite things in any type of literary art is when a writer can use use violence with grace. Gabino is excellent at this. There were a lot of times I just put it aside, to let the blood dry and I liked it.

This is gory but not mindless. The depth and care that obviously goes into the violence in Gabino’s work transcends the ew factor. I am not really a fan of silly gore in books. I’ve never been into gore for gore sake horror. I don’t really like the gross out because most of the time it is some shitty bullshit punchline and I don’t fuck with that. What I do like is the use of violence and gore etc in a manner that is both helpful to the story but also just beautifully done by itself.

For me, this is the same thing that allows me to visually enjoy certain filmmakers because I do love something terrible done with grace and beauty. This is also why, when I was a baby potato writer, my favorite writer was Nabokov. For me, the art of transcendence in the context of using your medium to lift the work out of the pile of shit is just magical.

Gabino’s work, especially in this book hits those buttons for me.

Gabino’s work in this book, is transcendental art.

I don’t want to give a lot of plot away because I hate that. I want to talk about a few of my favorite characters.

Alma the artist. I love all of these characters but she feels special to me. This is what got me:

She wanted to shine on the institutionalized racism that made this country a pain for anyone on the “wrong” side of Otherness.

Bruh. The entire passage is so real and so deep. Gabino has an ability to write women, diverse women so well. Yes, even women who have been violated or victims of violence there is that same grace he brings to the other violence in his work. These aren’t tropes. These aren’t vaginas meant to forward a dudes story. That is so important and I want other male writers to do this level of work.

In this book, the characters each have a pulse. They have heartbeats, they are weighty and meaty and some of them are awful.

The prose in general, goddamn. There are multiple times in the book where I thought to myself, you mother fucker that’s amazing. I just love a writer who makes me feel a little jealous. This is beautiful, writing full stop.

Lastly.

This book is a sterling example of why #ownvoices is important. Nobody wants to get dragged like Jeanine Cummins,  and really why read that when you can read this?

Listen. You can google #ownvoices and all the reasons why it is important. What I’m going to tell you is this. If you want publishing to be better, read better. Dassit. Read better and talk about what you’re reading.

Gabino Iglesias is a deeply important writer to me. The literary canon fucking needs him. I need him. Real talk, I revisit Zero Saints (THAT ENDING U BASTARD) often. Y’all. I’m a fan. I’m an admirer. I’m down for this human.

SO go check him out. He hustles hard and has a LOT of things to read so start at twitterkids. You won’t be sorry.

Nerdy Nerdy- Use of the Chorus and stuff.

HI babes. Let’s pretend it is all fine and talk. We’re doin Real fuckin Hot Nerd Shit bitch.

SO first thing also some awesome announcements.

An anthology I’m in titled Would But Time Await is coming out later this year from Haverhill House. This was my first try at Folk Horror and I am absolutely amazed to be in an anthology with so much talent. For real it is a hella good book.

It is extra good news because that submission was my first in the horror world in about five years. Also I worked so damn hard on that piece because I had a vision and the editors even when a few things didn’t make sense, they worked to understand and leave my story. I’m so happy.

Second good news. I wrote a SUPER difficult for me because I was experimenting thing. It is a chonky light sf, post apocalyptic, Black, Queer lil sploosh of horror fucking love story. A LOVE STORY. A bite and a link.

“What were you saying?” Khalid/a was smiling, flashing a gold tooth. “Are you serious about babies?” They nodded, still smiling. “We have a lot of savings and I may or may not have found us a place. You wanna see?” Viola’s face lit up from within, she made her cute squealy noises until Khalid/a sat up and reached for one of their tablets. Khalid/a opened the photo collection they’d been hiding in a subfolder of junk. Viola’s little intake of vibrational breath tickled against their arm.

We’ll nerd about that later on.

NOW let’s get down on the Chorus.

My first exposure to the Chorus was when I read Oedipus Rex when I was in the 7th grade. I’d just finished reading King Lear for the first time and I wanted a new challenge. Gosh I loved Greek lit at that age. I still love the idea of the Greek tragedy. I love to play with it in varying ways. WHOA if you’ve been with me for a while, don’t stare at me like that. I don’t hate the WHOLE literary canon gosh.

Okay so why am I using the device of the Chorus in an urban fantasy novel? It is weird but hear me out.

One of the things I love in a movie is knowing a lot as I’m in the position of knowing a lot of shit voyuer. Not quite an omniscient POV but more like, the level of knowing that means you cringe and yell at the TV, DON’T GO IN THERE. I really want the usefulness of say a VO but not that.

Now how about a look at the Chorus as they are in this iteration of the Daiyuverse?

Many of the witches of the world we’re sure are gasping in horror. How dare we malign the great mother. How dare we show such a lack of sufficient awe for the green and sorrowful wickedness of nature themselves. That is fine. We know. Many of us held our own Goddesses so close. We carried their effigies on our backs, we laid ourselves open from crotch to bowels for her.

We understand. We respect and love the holiest of things and we also love it enough to see it for what it is. Magic is nature and nature is, was and will end up being the most wonderful thing in our many worlds. We know. Many of us still find ourselves prostrate in prayer or washing the feet of prostitutes forever because our faith remains and holds to the immense power of our mother and our father. 

Mather? Fomther? We have no right word. It doesn’t matter.

We digress. As always.

What matters is that Tombstone made as much sense as Babylon and Lothal the Kingdom of Kush and at the feet of Shaka and cuddled to the breast of Nefertiti, in Xi’an, Lothal and many other places. Our point is the beginning of anything is a filthy terrible business and riddled with garbage from the end, that is okay. It is as things must be.

Now, within the text I’m left justifying their text because I want it to be very apparent how not of the same world the rest of the characters are. The Chorus is a character of themselves, they are a kind of meandering will tell you stuff but in their own good time sort of character.

In terms of methodology and fitting this into the structure here is how things are looking right now. I have notes about this to keep myself on task.

Chapters include individual character stuff, I’m not doing first person in this go round to help keep things on task for myself.

Within the chapters we get to see/deal with various characters. I was gonna do character headings for that but I hated it so no.

I’m using some epistolary type elements in the text as well. Journal entries, some prayers, prophecy and center justifying those.

The chorus has their own heading and as you see justification.

In my fantasies, an audioversion of this book would be a full cast production. Full cast but not rewritten as a teleplay. Read full cast. I don’t even know if that specifically is a thing but it is the thing I’d want.

Interestingly, I had used the Chorus in the original iteration of the Daiyuverse. I thought it was not appropriate for urban fantasy because…reasons?

Fuck that.

I was talking to another writer yesterday and my mantra in terms of writing is, do what the fuck you want. Try it.

I am going to -try- to do a promised to friends vid about this but really. I keep saying, if you wanna try something try it. It might suck. That’s okay if it sucks. It might be awesome. If you are self isolating, this is a perfect time to let yourself play.

Now, another lil bite from the ‘verse and a link.

A few drops in his glass, she watched it swirl into the amber liquid before turning to offer his drink. “Come on Possum, drink up big boy.” She fed him the drink, holding his head gently and letting the liquid pour between his lips. His eyelids fell to half-mast and she murmured, “yes, that’s it. Let Mama take care of you. That’s right, drink it all up Possum.” 

She’d had his cards and aura read long before she’d let him see the goodies. He was ripe to be controlled, easily influenced and in dire need of a fine, heftily bodied lovermother. Once the drink was down his gullet she let him lean his head on her breast and snake his arms around her hips, he pressed his cheek to her belly and hummed as content as any milk drunk babe at a breast. 

Ida Marie normally wouldn’t allow any man, such intimacies but, she liked her Possum. Really, Howard as a sweet man. So lost and unhappy with himself but at the same time so full of tender exuberant love. She stroked his head. “Ida Marie, my sweet. You are a balm for my soul. Oh, how I love you.” The tincture she’d dropped into his drink was getting him right where she needed him.

See more here and get ALL the access for 1$+ a month. No tiers, all access, no bullshits.

 

 

How to Fail at Patreon.

Hello my loves.

Sometimes folks have asked about how the writer financials are going now that I’ve pretty much divested myself of really trying to make money writing. I found a new toy to play with so we’re gonna get pretty naked.

Hang in. It is fixin to get HELLA nerdy up in this piece.

Okay so if this is your first time seeing one of these posts from me here is what I’m doing.

I am being transparent about my failures as an artist. I am not being “negative” it is just the truth of my experience so please no lectures. I’m not sad about it, I know what it is, when I do come across generally upset it is because I’m poor. Last thing, I spent a lot of the last half of 2019 ceasing the hustle.

I stopped trying to do freelance work. I closed down my Etsy shop where I had stories and poetry shit for sale. I stopped trying hard to make Medium a good source of income.

Currently here is how my hustle is set up. I post on medium when I feel like it. I share the free to read link and ask that if folks share they use the paid link. This only sort of works. However, in February I made a 8 month record high of $4.

I’ve been doing fiction again and the lit world has been a lil friendly. No, I am not famous enough to make money writing fiction. I just love it and will write it anyway so I’ve been doing some submitting.

Last thing before we get to some numbers. I fail at making my work financial sustainable. That is just what it do.

OKAY. So if you want to see what is potentially possible for writers on Patreon go check out this top 50 list. For context, every total listed is more money than I make in a month between my dayjob, patreonand the occasional bit of other work.

Now I know some folks on that list so I won’t use one of them as an example cause it’d be creepy. I couldn’t find a great example of someone doing what I’m doing so we’ll talk generalities.

My patreon is an ongoing experiment in writing Black, queer urban fantasy. I write a letter to my patrons that often includes writing advice, some craft nerdery and 3k + words of the story per month. That is the ONLY thing that has kept my patrons around.

For me in particular, this is the ONLY thing I can do on patreon and not lose money monthly. When Patreon released tiers, I suggested it and lost about 45$ per month in patrons. The trend is (and yes I have YEARS of correlated data for this) that if I offer more people are less interested.

Here’s the thing. This month I brought home $205.47. I support other creators so I don’t take home the full amount. I rely on patreon to fund things like, me repairing and keeping on top of my credit, I try to use it for my food for work. I use it to pay for things like having a web presence and things are pretty tight.

That said, I lowkey (not related to the pandemic) think that this could be the last year I do Patreon. My engagement and interest in the work I’m doing is at the lowest. Possibly because I embarked on doing a new thing with it. I understand a lot of folks are broke that happens. But over time, I’m seeing less and less folks interested in fucking with me on that level.

And that is really what my failure at Patreon comes down to. I’ve floated the idea to my social media about doing a Patreon for things like essay work like this and this, inside that particular plan, I also talked about doing some Patron only youtube stuff in the vein of For Harriet (whom I LOVE). A lot of people expressed interest when I just kind of blurted it out. When it came time to engage and actually do something…nah.

That is the pattern of my artistic life. I have a very wonderful core of dedicated reader folks. People who share when I ask, who read, engage etc etc. I understand that I am not great for a lot of people because I’m a big mouth asshole. That said I just cannot afford to do these things.

All this said here’s the deal. I am not an entrepreneur. I’m just not. I’ve taken classes, courses, been mentored and real talk I’m just not into it. That is not who I am. In the modern world that is to my own detriment but, I tried.

I am so grateful and in love with my core audience. I love all of y’all. Forever.

I am also going to write/make the shit anyway. I will share as I feel and I’ve FINALLY let go of tying my worth as an artist to these things. I still write essays. I still write craft stuff. I still am figuring out how to offer up some writing classes. I accept that occasionally I make tips or donations and they are amazing but as far as steady income beyond or better than my current Patreon is probs not gonna happen. And that’s fine.

I’ve learned that as a creator, I cannot pressure myself to make it financially sustainable. It is unfortunate that my failures financially mean I have to make a lot of hard decisions that make me feel bad. I may need to give up my website, I may have to give up more of my entertainment budget. And yeah, I would be really excited if I could make that second patreon and make it a thing.

But, I won’t punish myself for it.

I’m going to make my stuff. Write my shit and continue teaching myself what kind of artist I wanna be.

If you are discouraged or devastated about not being able to make money with your art, you aren’t alone and it doesn’t devalue you or your work. Capitalism sucks.

I love you all.

Comin soon, more reviews. Some publishing news and I’m working up some nerdy shit.

Some Craft Notes from the Daiyuverse.

Hello friend.

In case you don’t know what the title references let’s talk about that. The Daiyuverse is the patreon based project I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

TL:DR it is an ongoing novel/lla about a Black queer magical girl named Daiyu. It is urban fantasy that takes place in Seattle, down the west coast etc.

What I’m doing is wanting to show how the sausage is made. One of the things I could never grasp as a writer was the how books are born. We don’t get to see Stephen Kings (aside from twitter) fuck ups. For 1$+ I’m giving a new whole ass story thing and you get a front row seat to how it happens.

That means, readers get to read my all caps freak outs, notes to self, parts I hate all of it. Unedited and raw.

Now you got the basics. For a while I did what I call cycles. I have this undying love of a big world to write in and instead of doing a traditional novella as planned, I called them Cycles. I was really wanting to create a sort of not quite linked short stories but things you could read out of order and the story would still be awesome.

In Cycle 1 I was working off of quite literally a finished Nanowrimo project with the same characters and my original characters for my cast of main characters. I didn’t know what I was doing.

I got upset with what I was doing and scrapped Cycle 1 and started Cycle 2. I was playing a lot with the order of things, the POVs and a lot of stuff and last month well, I decided Cycle 2 was also finito.

SO Last month on Patreon I announced and posted that we’re doing a whole ass real book. WHOA.

I’m using cycles 1 & 2 as well as very old stuff I wrote related to it for research material.

Now one of the best parts about doing Patreon for me as a creator has been getting to play. Through my attempts at freelance and some other stuff, the Daiyuverse has been what I do to unwind. It is the writer at play. It is a real life look at how I create and how I make stories. How I make mythos.

Now the most exciting part of this iteration of the verse is that, it starts out in fucking Tombstone AZ in the 1800s. I had notes from last year about how I wanted to use that location and some other stuff I’d taken out. So WE STARTIN OVER.

An excerpt:

In town as Nathan was being welcomed into the Emryss household, a high yellow beauty woman was escorted off the 1 PM stagecoach, the man waiting for her took his hat off and everyone saw the smitten idiot grin. “Ida, my Ida you made it. I’m so happy.” She allowed him to take her gloved hand and kiss it, she felt the weight of eyes on them and when she turned her head to meet the gaze of a frowning priss in an ugly blue dress she smiled, wide and sunny as all outdoors. 

“Hello my love.” Her raspy little baby voice sent a pure chill down the man’s spine. She was just as perfect as she’d been when he found her in New Orleans and fell head over heels in love. From her bright tignon to her big black doe eyes she was just, everything he remembered and more. “Ida, I’ve got the room you requested and if you’ll just follow me, we’ll get you settled.” 

Ida Marie Rufus walked with her back straight and her head up, she felt the looks and met each with cool ease. The man at her elbow continued to yammer about her room, the mines, the wild nights she only paid half attention, the man was a means to her arrival, and he’d served most of his purpose. They passed a bustling brothel and she could feel the spellwork, they slowed, and she smiled at a doe eyed black-haired beauty leaning against a pillar.

“Hi pretty.” The woman had a drawl and her carmine lips promised sins Ida might have been tempted by had she not had work to do. She smiled back and nodded, “afternoon ma’am.” The look that passed between them had recognition and knowledge, hustlers know hustlers and witches know witches. The man immediately had the idea he’d take Ida to the saloon later, he’d heard things about women like her, especially the ones from New Orleans and the doves in Tombstone had just as wild a reputation.

That is from the beginning. I also brought back the use of the chorusdevice from the original. I’ve always loved that part of Greek tragedy and in this ‘verse have wanted to make them their own character because I want the reader to know most of everything. It might not be clear but I’m imagining folks reading and just yelling at the story, OMG NO DON’T.

Another thing I’ve used the Daiyuverse for is experimentation. Play. I’ve used the universe as a backdrop for other stories. For instance I wrote a Daiyu story called The Beloved of Colel Cab. A queer teen romance story. My first and so far only.

See me read it here:

Or since the audio is low read it here. 

And I’ve also used Daiyu and a set of characters created by a friend to explore a more bad witch, Lovecraft influenced horror series over at Wattpad. There are four parts so far to Deacon and Daiyu- Adventures in the Daiyuverse. Those stories are absolutly grown folks biz.

So let’s talk about what I’m doing with Daiyu now. Starting the real deal novel I decided I wanted to set the stage. It is magical, brown, queer and my goal is to really set the stage for the next part of the adventure. I’m planning on this portion lasting about a quarter of the book so the reader, (omg that’s YOU) has this kind of broad view of how shit got started.

I’m working off of the original magical theory and questions I had.

What if, magic is all over? What if, some POC got together to preserve their ancestral magics and learn how to magically defend themselves from bad things? What if, there is every “cycle” (for our purposes a cycle is not a measure of number of years but of who is a living person in the world) there are some people who can do a kind of magic that is either (cliche) world saving or world ending?

What do you do?

What if that witch is one of your kids?

How does magic work? etc etc.

I’ve been so excited about it, I’ve almost got a FULL thing about how magic in the Daiyuverse works and how I came up with it. That will be a Patreon extra in May. I will also be offering up a spreadsheet of the cast of characters for Patrons.

I’ll probably be adding more Daiyu related stories around.

So that’s the big announcement. Feel free to go check it out. Some of y’all might be saying BUT SHANNON what to we actually get?

For 1$+ per month (I only have one tier I am VERY committed to keeping this as financially accessible as I can) you get everything I post at patreon. Generally it is at the very least 3k+ words or so of the story and a letter. Some months I may post extras. I don’t have a schedule for this because frankly my readership there was not into it and I don’t want it to suck for folks.

So go check it out. Share it with friends who like hella Black, hella Queer magic. And maybe weird western stories.

thanks babes!

Notes from Stay At Home Weirdo

First things first, look at my new baby.

newb b
[image of a Samsung Chromebook]
SO after much trial and error, I was able to get this little beauty with the help of friends for my birthday (it was 03/16) and I love her. This is last years model and she was under 150$. At 11″ and just over 3lbs, this is the perfect machine for me. The full size laptop I bought last year is a fine machine but just not for me. It was too big and I couldn’t figure out how to work on it comfortably for a long time.

She doesn’t have a name yet.

So well. I’ll assume we’re all in a state. And I don’t want to talk about it right now.

Instead let’s talk about some of the stuff I’m working on and reading rn.

Later this week I’ll be reviewing Gabino again because god damn.

Also some AMAZING NEWS. I will be making my Weird Fiction debut this year. I wrote a tiny thing and it will be in a future edition of Weird Whispers from Nightscape Press. I am so excited to work with them and be on their roster. The publishers are good people. The other writers they work with are fucking stellar. Please go check out their store.They publish a lot of good shit.

What else?

I am not working at home for a variety of reasons. I am going to work on the daily. It isn’t awful.

AH so coming up more book reviews. More craft nonsense. I’ve had my lil chromebook *still no name..weird* for a bit and that lil bb is just perfect for me to work on comfortably so, MORE WORDS.

Oh also if you are lacking stuff to read. Head to this new area of my website and you can download pdfs to read. If you are so moved, feel free to tip me out. I’ll be adding more soon.

I’m struggling but trying. I’m working on some things. Including some dorky ass craft notes. I’ve got some Daiyuverse news.…which will probs be part of the craft shit I’m working on.

I think that’s all for right now. Later taters.

Book Review- On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff

Nikki+–+On+Being+Human
[image description: a photo of the book On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking up, Living Real, And Listening Hard
Okay buckle up babes.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll remember Beloved Jen from this post.  AND after months let’s get it going with my review.

At first blush, On Being Human*   and really Jen’s stuff probably doesn’t seem like my shit. Like I hate doing yoga and on the surface at first glance, nah. But, and if you remember from my last post I don’t recall how I got aquainted with Jen but, I’m so glad I did.

The thing I love about Jen and her book is that, it isn’t a blow sunshine up your ass type of book. In terms of memoir, I don’t really like the sunshiney redemption arcs. This book gives us an intimate look at and ride with her through a lot.

We go through death, pain, shame that ride, whew chile.

I love this book because it reflects a lot of the tone and emotion of things I’ve wanted to do in my own work. Less than 20 pages in, is where I got hooked.

“I have spent my whole life trying to hide who I was,”

Full disclosure, when I first got the book I very literally stopped on that paragraph on page 14 and put the book down for two weeks. That was me for so long. For years, I spent most of my energy beating myself with my shame(s). For me when I read memoir, there is frequently a moment like this, I have to put it down and exhale because for a second, I know the writer. I am them.

OKAY on to some nerdy shit.

In terms of memoir I have read them fairly widely. I prefer my memoir to be a little messy, not overly fancy. Jen uses a clarity of language that is plain enough to be very, I hate the word but it is very relatable. Unlike a lot of folks in the self helpy area of the world, Jen is not afraid to say fuck and mean it.

If you follow Jen on social media and you read the book, you know this is real. To steal half of one of her favorite phrases, it is no bullshit. I appreciate that both as a reader and as a writer. Often when folks reach a particular area of fame within their chosen area of the lit world, suddenly they aren’t the person who ever said fuck or shit or how they actually feel about anything.

There is a grace to Jen’s work that is honest and grounded. There is a LOT of woo in the world of self helpy, yoga stuff and this book is not that. There is a depth of exposed humanity that is why I like her so much both as a writer and as a human being. This is work you can hold on to.

This work is meaty and has flesh. It has tears and will probably give you some cries and some giggles. I think there are a lot of us who might see reflections of our own paths in life without the, aspirational aspect of a lot of this type of work that turns me off. Jen isn’t posturing as the person you want to be. In this work she’s showing us her heart and that is what I like.

So TL:DR this is a great fucking book. I will reread it again. I will continue to enjoy her work and humanity and sometimes, this is the best part sometimes, I think of that line from page 14 and I let out a breathe.

Neither of us has to be that person anymore and that is a beautiful thing. This book is about more than a glow up.

Read it. Get to know one of my favorite humans.

Next review we’ll be talking about another fave human of mine, Gabino Iglesias. Stay tuned babes!

Thuglit, White dudes and Hella Gay Crime Fiction

Today is brought to you by the homie Todd Robinson on a podcast. Listen to that here.

So Todd was the editor of Thuglit. I read it a lot. I linked to the issue I was in cause I am V. Proud of that story. But I don’t want to talk craft right now.

Instead I want to talk about being welcomed with big open arms into a genre where, I did not see my ideas reflected and decided to actually dive in. Technically I think my first noir/crime story was actually published in the Flash Fiction Offensive (BIG CW for racialized violence).

I think (SHIT I can’t remember) but I was a lurker in the noir/crime area of short lit for a long time. Y’all know, I do love me some grimy fiction and the FFO piece was a very early example of where I’d want to go with it.

Of all of the areas of the lit world I have been in, this part has been the most open and welcoming. A genre of mainly white men, who have given me space to be Black and queer as fuck. Even when the stories weren’t queer necessarily. And when the stories were queer as fuck, not one concern was expressed.

What’s interesting to me is that, of all of my work over the last 20 years, these stories (more will be linked below) generated the least blowback from other people writing in the genre as well as fans.

When I did this flash piece that was accepted at Shotgun Honey I did prepare myself to hear the usual kinds of shit. I was ready to deal with people “just asking” why the character is Black AND gay. WHY is there a Beyonce reference? I expected to be grilled about it being unrealistic and zero of that happened.

Y’all…it was ZERO. Matter of fact, I remember very well getting a note on twitter from a rando white dude and he told me he was excited to find a Black author in crime stuff. Mind blown.

The reason I was so blown away by that reception is that, in other areas of my work this is not usually what happens. Outside of my ride or die readers, often the responses are a mixed bag of shit. People mad about something and honestly, it can be really exhausting.

Another great experience was when I was asked to contribute to a special issue of The Big click. Country noir. Honestly, this is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever done. It was edited by the lovely Court Merrigan and like working with Big Daddy Thug Todd, it was a really good experience.

Being given the freedom to be Black and Queer and write a story like the Queen of Orla was really precious to me. There were a couple of references Court had to ask me about, but the important thing is he asked me and accepted what I had to say. In none of these instances have I been asked to tone it down.

Folks that read the Orla piece recognized that it was a tribute to the movie Bound. I say it in the story and some of the responses were so good.

There have been times in my literary career where, my Blackness and Queerness has been a problem. Not always in the context of the actual work I’ve done but in being who I am. There was the job I rage quit because the editor had googled me and was uncertain I could write not Black and not Queer in spite of him the day before having told me my sample was amazing.

There have been thousands of hate messages.

These men, really gave me an opportunity to do the shit I love to do and play. I’ve been treated with respect, I’ve been treated with care and my work has been respected and enjoyed. I can’t say that for a lot of the literary world.

ALSO I’ve been able to read and talk to some other fantastic folks. Two of my faves below.

Joe Cliffordof whom I VERY fond of.  He’s a stand up person and his work is fuckin solid man.

And Gabino Iglesias. Read this review, I have a review of his book Coyote Songs forthcoming. TL:DR while reading both times, I spent a lot of time going goddamn this mother fucker and wanting to either hug him or punch him. So, like it is really fucking good.

The moral of the story is this. Sometimes, we get to work with and meet people who defy all of our expectations about how we’ll be treated. The dudes I’m talking about here, (along with some others we’ll talk about later because reasons) really have a special place in my heart. Go read their work.