I’m having a really awful day so I’m going to talk more about this project I’m doing.
I’ve embarked on a serious effort to write this Urban Fantasy novella (?) I’ve had on my mind since 2004.
Over on Patreon as I’ve mentioned, I was giving those folks first peeks and then I will be releasing things a month behind. So in July everyone gets a crack at the part I sent out to Patrons in June.
Yesterday I put up a free post, get it here where I wrote a letter about how this started, what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. Here’s a taste:
I debated about doing this and in the end, I want to stay true to my ideals about providing some transparency in my experiences. One of the things that is important to me in my work is that I can provide some bit of lasting information that a young or otherwise hesitant or shy writer might want to see.
So many authors talk about how ashamed, they are of previous works, first novels, the mythical terrible first draft. I have never felt that way. It is deeply meaningful to me to be able to show not only my long time readers but new readers how I have progressed. I am proud of how much I’ve changed and learned. I’m proud of finding my voice and looking back at things I wrote ten or fifteen years ago and saying, look where I was.
I believe there is deep value in not standing in the tradition of the uh, solitary writer who occasionally reveals that they hand wrote a shitty draft of their novel but won’t share what it was like in the trenches.
Naturally, there is the chance someone will steal it. I am willing to risk it.
Get your paws on the whole letter here.
This is not a thing I have seen other folks do so I am winging it.
Here I want to talk about something I just realized while I was talking to my bestie.
This character and story has been brewing for a decade.
First, I want to talk about my motivations for giving people access to what is basically the roughest of drafts of this thing that might or might not become a book.
When I was a kidlet writer, one of the things I could never wrap my head around was the real talk process of writing a novel or longer work. Yeah, there is ass in chair and take notes/outlines, write it long form etc type advice, but what my brain needs a lot of the time is a visual.
I need to see the thing so I can study it.
Another aspect to this is a vulnerability. It’s a very serious feeling of being naked and showing my soft little creator heart to people. More so because this is my first try at something like this and my little baby nerd heart is so all in.
Doing things this way is showing my tender underbelly, showing you (my voyeurs if you wanna be fancy) the magic behind the stories. I want to share how I arrived at decisions, what I am not doing. I want to take folks on the ride with me because riding roller coasters alone sucks.
Writing is such a solitary thing. And at the same time it is a team effort.
By team effort I mean I ask my friends questions. Sometimes not to get an answer, but just to say it out loud and answer it myself.
The other thing that guided me to this particular place is that I am terrified of this kind of vulnerability. It is really difficult for me to be completely open when something is so incredibly important to me. This story and the creation of it is my real, actual bleeding heart and I am not hiding it under a bell jar I’m showing it to people. I’m letting folks touch it and look at it and that scares the actual fuck out of me.
Things that make me feel like this, mean I am doing the right thing for me.
If it gives me bubble guts, I’m on to something.
One of the other parts of this is that I am learning to pull my world together.
This world is part of Seattle and part of many other worlds. I’m learning that I don’t have to put in ALL the shit I love. It’s not my one shot at doing something like this.
This feeling that when I write things that are so close to my heart is is my only chance to get them out has been something I’ve dealt with for years. A lot of that is poverty related. For so many years I was so busy just trying to survive, I had no time or safety to sit and write my heart out. I wrote what I thought would get published and sometimes it did.
That was gratifying. It kept me going for a long time.
Through Patreon and finding that I do actually have an audience outside of my immediate loved ones and chosen family, I’m getting there.
Through reading other authors of color I love I’m getting there.
And I want to share it.
It might be a terrible idea.
This story might turn out to be trash.
So here is a chunk from one of the nanowrimo things that I’m using as source material. This is a whole other story from what I’m doing now and this bit will probably not be in my Daiyu thing.
I’m also considering doing a raffle to name it.
Read more under the cut.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
“Brother King, welcome to Louisiana. Come in and sit down.”
The man in front of me is enormous and dressed in a suit that costs more than my rent. His thoughts are oily, I can feel his sleaze oozing over my skin and I smile at him.
“Thank you for the welcome Mr. Spanghero. I appreciate you seeing me.”
The house is as ostentatious and sleazy as the owner. It is covered in knock off art, glittering cheap things and a layer of filth that only I can see.
He leads me the long way to his study. We sit and he rings a small bell, I cringe. A beautiful blonde woman in a ridiculously close to cheap sexy maid uniform walks out. I can hear her thoughts, she is angry she had to put her high heels back on.
This entire situation disgusts me. I smile and look around slowly, ensuring that he sees my admiration of his glittering castle and busty maid.
He smiles at her.
“Portia, sugar pie would you please make us some coffee and get us some of those fancy little cookies you made the other day?”
She bobs up and down, a short curtsy.
“Yes sir. May I take your jacket?”
She holds her hand out to me and I hand it over, hoping she sees that I am uncomfortable. I look at her face and smile.
“Thank you MIss Portia.”
Her cheeks pinken and she heads out of the room. Spanghero gestures for me to sit down, he picks up a gold box and opens it, offering me a Cuban.
“Don’t tell anybody now, far as anyone knows these are from Miami.”
I take one and make a show of rolling it between my fingers and smelling it.
“Well, thank you sir. A fine cigar is a thing of beauty isn’t it?”
He grins at me.
“Oh yes my boy they do.”
He has his good old boy, I don’t mean any offense smile on. In his head he is wanting to see me get angry or flinch. I grin at him and pluck a cutter and my gold lighter from my pocket. He does the same and we both lean back in our chairs puffing away until Portia returns with coffee and cookies on a silver tray.
I turn to her and let him watch her smile at me, not the small tight smile she gives him but a toothy slightly crooked smile.
“I hope you like cream Monsieur King.”
I smile back at her and hear pure filth stream through her head, she leans over a bit more to drape a napkin across my lap. Spanghero is seething, the last time he made a pass at the girl she threatened to sue. And here she is, all but shoving her bosom in my face.
“That’s enough Portia.”
His tone is tight, struggling to keep that edge of friendliness.
“Thank you Miss Portia I do like cream in my coffee.”
I wait him out, sit back as if nothing has transpired.
“What a nice young lady. The men at her church must positively fall all over themselves for her.”
Spanghero settles and crosses his legs, brandishing his good ole boy smile.
“I tell you what, she is something else. Now, Brother King I must assume that this is no social visit? You are such a busy man and I have done nothing that deserves a visit from a fine man such as yourself.”
Now he is antsy, he wants my black ass out of his house. I get comfortable.
“Well sir, I heard you had a run in with a witch called Pearl. I was wondering if you could tell me about what happened? IN detail if you please.”
This turn in the conversation pleases him. He hates Pearl, that’s good for me.
“Well, as you know we have had an awful time with very aggressive spirits here. Since my dear wife passed and I have been renovating things have gotten markedly worse. I was advised by one of those card readers on the street to consult this Institute. She said she could see in my cards that the problem was greater than a few restless spirits.”
A few restless spirits. He knows better. His land is infested with the evil of his own forbears. His forefathers not only owned slaves but used them as their own personal amusements. THeir name may be largely forgotten to history but he knows and now I know. I nod. Putting understanding and concern in my expression.
“Yes I did read the material you sent over. Tell me more.”
He is just warming up, he really loves this position as victim of something.
“So this girl comes to my house. Slovenly little slattern with her hair all-”
he gestures and makes a face like his is smelling something foul.
“She’s got those what do you call them? Not braids but the other things?”
He nods, his upper lip still curled.
“Yes not professional at all. And she had the nerve to have two homosexuals in tow and some Ching chong I don’t know what. -”
I let the rest turn into white noise. If I listen too closely and hear what he is really thinking I will snap. One of the more unfortunate side effects of hearing in other people’s heads is that I have less and less ability to control my temper.
I listen instead to Portia in the kitchen, another woman there. Somewhere in the house there is a young man, barely out of his teens pining away for Miss Portia. I come back to the conversation as he gets to the salient less racist parts.
“So I watched from the house and there was a stench followed by this awful racket. Like battling marching bands all out of tune playing every version of Amazing Grace that’s ever been thought of. And there was a light and God save me I saw them. All kinds of things, twisted nasty demons and monsters. They just stood there looking down at her. The two sodomites flanked her and the little Chinadoll stood at her right. I thought I was going to see the reality that is Gods Wrath. What I saw was a conversation. Can you believe she had the audacity to speak to them? As if my very soul and property was up for negotiation.”
Of course he isn’t done with the racist part. All of it is the racist part.
“Instead of dealing with the problem she walked away. She sent her minions off and walked right into my house. The audacity of that girl.”
Spanghero rose and began to pace, slowly. I can feel his need for me to pity him but I can’t. I wait for him to continue.
“The way she looked at me, I tell you Brother King. I am positive that I saw the devil in those eyes of hers. All the fires of hell are inside that creature.”
He makes a good show of crossing himself.
“That creature walked right up to me and said she could do nothing for me and informed me that my case with the Institute would be closed. Can you believe that?”
I steeple my fingers and look concerned.
“So you continue to have this problem?”
He sits back down nodding.
“I dare say things have gotten worse. I believe that creature opened up a portal to hell on my very property.”
I can’t hear any more of this. I stand up and lean over him, looking into his eyes.
“Pray with me. Let us see if we can’t do something about that.”
Drinks and cigars put aside we kneel together, his eyes closed, his hands clasped in prayer. As he begins to recite the Lord’s prayer I lean over and murmur in his ear.
“Monsieur Stanghero. In this instance it was not Daiyu who created this problem do you understand?”
His answer is so soft I almost can’t hear it. The special tone and cadence to my speech has done what it needs to. Even though I myself am no assassin I was trained in the assassin’s arts. Translated directly from the original Cantonese this magic is literally called The Fetid Breath. It was once the strict provence of courtesans and house maids.
No one knows how the secret got out of China yet here we are. I am done with this foul bag of fecal matter.
“Sir understand that I do not do this for myself. Not entirely. Understand that this ground is polluted, your bloodline runs with poison. Your forefathers created the problem on this land. You created the problem on this land. You are rapacious, murderous hateful creatures. I say unto you Proverbs 24:20. For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. And you sir are wicked. You have wrought evil in this world and laughed. You sat here, looking at me with your superiority and racism. Now you will pay do you understand?”
“Yes Brother King.”
I close my eyes and lay my fingers on the back of his neck. I concentrate and focus my energy on the delicate matter of altering his autonomic nervous system. The steps to change the specific order of activity takes all of my concentration, I inhale the smell of his skin and hold it while I reorder things in his skull.
I blow slowly into his ear, releasing the command. In seventy two hours his heart will stop. The command comes on the breath as I understand the technicalities of Fetid Breath. My head throbs once hard enough to make me reel a bit. I know my nose is going to start bleeding and I need to wrap this up.
“Now my friend, I bless you in the name of our lord. May his light shine on you and protect you, may he bless your house. And I say Amen.”
The work is done and he smiles at me.
We rise and hug. I take my leave quickly, pleading another meeting. In reality I will spend the next day in my hotel room in the absolute dark. Death magics take everything you have. Outside I step into the town car waiting in the drive and send a silent prayer up.
One less monster to fight.