Why It Ain’t Working. Part I.

It is me.

Hi folks.

I’ve been doing a lot of long term work on my whole indie author shits. I’ve come to some conclusions. I don’t know how many posts there will be. I am going to talk about my failed hustles. I’m gonna talk about myself, my work and what it all means.

I am not gonna name names. Or divulge ALL the details of some things because y’all don’t need to know.

Yes this is negative. It is. It is also part of me being transparent and showing (representation y’all!) failure and figuring out what to do next. Let’s get started.

First let’s talk successes.

Back in 2017, I had two of my most reshared, read, hated and loved pieces published. Well most hated since I wrote at XO Jane but whatever. I also that year wrote a poetry review that was not what the publisher asked for but I was really proud of. –

Actually you know what. I’ve been done this analysis a lot.

Here is what it comes down to.

After many years of the same patterns repeating themselves this is the conclusion I’ve come to.

There is something about me, my work or something that causes folks to think twice about coming through with help. One of the few rules of self promotion that I’ve adhered to for more than a decade at this point is the call to action. If we wanna be a little more woo about it, I ask my community (in this case my readership) for what I need.

Now. I am a very self aware creator. Having cut my teeth in the porn mines I know that not every word I write is for everyone. That is great. I have beloved ones who do not read porn ever and have not read a lot of my work. I have other friends who don’t understand poetry and don’t read my poems. That is fine.

What I have come to understand is this.

I have a little crew of hard core dedicated ride or die supporters. There are about a dozen of them, most of whom have been reading me from my fatty blogger days, from my porn writing days. I can literally name my top ten buyers who have in the last five years been ALL the same people. They are also marginalized people. They are poor. They are disabled. They are just like me.

The level of love and support from them is amazing and continues to be. I’m not talking about them.

The thing is, when I had one serious uh courtship by an agent for a big house, the thing that stuck with me that they told me is this. I can’t believe I remember this so clearly.

Shannon, you are a hard sell.

I feel like I’ve spent all these years trying to “overcome” that.

At this point I don’t have the energy and honestly I feel really terrible knowing that my support system who have the least resources do the most for me and that is devastating to me. Every time I see it I’m thankful and I’m also mad at myself because I’m the asshole I am and people who HAVE money or resources don’t fuck with me like that.

So look y’all.

I’m closing my author FB page. It takes a lot of my spoons and it has put me into the negative as far as profits from my work go. I’m probably going to make a single page store with links to my kindle shits and other formats for that work but I’m retiring from self promo mostly.

I don’t think I will ever create an image that folks with the means can publicly and materially support. That’s who I am. I am not the one and I’ve known that for a decade.

Also real talk. It hurts my heart so bad every time I do the call to action, every time I say please PLEASE and nothing happens aside from my ride or dies. It hurts. It makes me feel shitty and I hate it. And realest of real talk. The only time there is a swell or upswing of support is when I do the public poor person panic (even then meh) or when I’m metaphorically bleeding out about some racist bullshit and that is too much.

I won’t be returning to regular freelance work. Racism, plagiarism and that last major doxxing really killed that for me. I have maybe 2 editors I trust.

Please don’t take this to mean I am not writing. I am. Like a mother fucker. What am I gonna do with the shit I’m writing? I dunno. Maybe I’ll dive back into the delicious obscurity of short fiction where I was most successful but not noticeably so. Or I’ll continue being ain’t shit and flinging stuff into the world.

What I’m not going to continue doing is putting myself in the hands of a community that don’t want me. And y’all, i’m not fishing so lets be real. The community at large has spoken. I hear it. I am not gonna keep trying to make fetch happen.

So for now I will continue with Patreon because at about 220-265$ per month is is the most successful thing I’ve done. Funny thing is, the work I’m putting up at Patreon is work other agents told me was also a hard sell.

I might start putting some non fiction there too? I dunno. Last time I tried to expand patreon I lost a lot of patrons and I can’t afford that.

So yeah. Dassit y’all. It comes down to after years of being told I have ALL THIS MEGA support and not seeing any fruits of it after a decade and innumerable projects, nah.

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Works in Progress and Whatnots.

State of the writer.

I’m drinking a pour over made with Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw coffee. Normally I drink their 454 but this blend is amazing. I added a wee bit of dark brown sugar and it really brought out the chocolatey flavor of this coffee. A fuckin plus.

What else is happening?

Well babes I’m still kind of really struggling trying to figure out how to write at home without a shitload of pain and not having to buy a desk because I don’t have the space. It is super frustrating. My body just cannot take not having some way to sit properly and work. Bummer.

But what’s good tho?

I am doing some new horror that I’m creating from my existing The World mythos. I’ve been wanting to play around and expand it. Also, y’all this is where I’m gonna plug Yeah, Write. I have talked a lot about playing and Yeah, Write is a great way to do that.

What else?

I’m not sure to be honest. My fiction writing is super damn slow for no reason and I’ve been writing essays that hurt my feelings. Like can I fucking not do that?

Also I’ve been poking at the self care book reboot and I feel some type of way about it. I dunno. On one hand, yes a good number of folks have said they want it but I am also too acutely aware of the toll writing it takes on me and given my recent performance in the sales dept, I don’t know if I can afford it.

I have reached the point with my Kindle singles experiment (I also had offered the work outside of amazon) where I’ll leave stuff there but that is also not really a viable method of both getting a little coin for my work and putting it out. Even with advertising designed by someone who is not me, nah.

So I’ve decided that there is not that much of a market for my work. That is fine. I won’t be dedicated myself to trying to make fetch happen. I’m still writing of course. I will submit to places when asked or if I see a juicy call but, yeah. I dunno y’all.

I will continue with Patreon. I average a bit over $200 a month and given that 90% of my audience in general doesn’t see value in purchasing my work, this is a huge deal. In the great big universe of Patreon that is bullshit ass money but, considering my track record with cash and my work it is pretty fuckin amazin.

So yeah. If I get a bug up my butt I might put out new medium content or Kofi or whatever. I might put more stuff on kindle. I’m not pressed about it. None of these things are remotely lucrative enough for me to put in more than a half hour a month at most. 10$ a month at the height (in June) of my side hustles just…nah.

Through this process I’ve been able to cement some things about myself as a writer.

  1. I am not great at on spec work.
  2. Sometimes I do what people who buy books want but, I am not the person they want the thing from.
  3. The writing I can sell, often hurts the most to write and I can’t do it full time.
  4. I’m not super attached to the financials at this point beyond working myself into a deficit of both coins and spoons.

I’m in a fairly peaceful place about this. Yes, I still get kinda really fucking mad when I see concepts I’ve written about extensively get picked up for $$$ when people who aren’t me write them (occasionally close enough to be plagiarism but whatevs) and I still am kinda sad that folks are just not that into me but I’ll live.

Thing is, I’ll be writing whatever bullshit anyway. I know myself. I’ve just really removed the pressure of making it sustainable for myself. Not happening. So yeah.

Stuff will happen. Things will be made to read. Dassit.

Note from Management.

Hello folks.

I just re entered the world after a little staycation. I was struggling after being sick and stressed out for weeks. SO we got a little bidness.

First up. Y’all know I’ve now got a writer biz fb page. And Houston we got a problem. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten an absolute FLOOD of requests for things. Manuscript consult, writing advice, submission advice, promotion requests, requests for me to buy and read stuff.

The problem isn’t that folks ask. It is that all of those requests come from folks who don’t follow or like the page and are similarly demanding in tone. I’ve responded to some but for the most part, I don’t answer and wind up getting more messages from folks. LOOK y’all. I am not a writing stuff vending machine.

I am not really famous so I understand somebody might be taken aback that I have the audacity to charge for services. Consulting on manuscripts regardless of size is work. And it is disrespectful to assume I will do it for free just for shits n giggles. If we don’t know each other and there’s no trade or SOMETHING going on, why would you do this?

Look y’all, I know you are not actually into me or my work if you aren’t aware that I probably don’t have the spoons to edit, sensitivity read and critique a full goddamn novel for free. So look I may close messaging on the page down I dunno.

Next thing that is also kinda struggle related. I’m having trouble working at home. With my back being the way it is, I haven’t found a comfortable way to work and I’m frustrated. Our place is so small I don’t have a desk anymore and working in bed has caused me too much pain. However, we traded for a little (OMG IT IS GOBLIN SIZE FOR ME) recliner and I am going to look into getting a cart to use with it.

What else?

Post sickness and stressbombs got me a little fucked up so my creating things has been weird and not great. I wrote a whole ass story and lost it. As in, I must’ve not saved it anywhere or I hallucinated the whole thing.

So I am kinda struggling right now and spoon juggling to live and shit is hard.

BUT I started a new story featuring twins, demons, noir and this:

She sashayed away and headed for their booth. When Arthur saw her he stood up, a wide smile on his face. He stepped forward and took her hand.

“Hello again Tyree, may I say you look beautiful. Thank you.”

He kissed her hand and she lifted her eyebrows at him.

“Thank you for what?”

He straightened and led her to the booth.

“Just-“

He looked her up and down,

“thank you.”

Tyrell really wanted to punch him but restrained himself. If his sister wanted to flirt with Mr Designer shoes, she would. She sat and Arthur extended his hand to Tyrell.

So I’m workin babes.

Next time, soon we’re gonna talk about some things about genre work (as in outside of the literary fiction world) that have shocked me and made me feel good.

OKAY babes. I love y’alls. Be good.

Craft Talk: When things are not going well.

Hello my darling friends.

Today we’re gonna talk about when creating is hard.

I’ve been struggling with my Patreon story this month. I’m struggling getting from point z to point 7.87 and feeling fairly uninspired about it. I’m at the point where I stare at it, mutter fuck I hate you bro and close the doc. That is not really productive so I want to share with y’all some of the things I do to get going.

First thing, I remember this. If you’re an OG here you know how much I absolutely adore Daniel Jose Older. I have his essay bookmarked because I need to absorb the message often. I came up with the very shitty advice that to be a real writer one MUST write every day at a special desk, at a special time of day, with the right coffee cup blablabla. I spent a lot of time in my 20s punishing myself for being unable to work two jobs, take care of my home AND dedicate writing time. That was not good.

Shit happens. I think a lot of the YOU MUST WRITE every day thing comes from the idea that more of us have the privilege of doing that. I put it into the same category as the idea that everyone can and should just quit their dayjobs and follow the stars. Some of us cannot for a lot of reasons. That is fine. What actually matters is that we find ways to fit the work into our lives.

Second thing. I allow myself to do other things. For many years I’ve had a habit of having a good number of things I can work on. Blog posts, my other blog, Amazon releases, other stuff. The way my brain works, if I have a thing I need to figure out I can’t fight myself. If I let the thing simmer in my backbrain, most of the time I figure it out while I’m doing other stuff.

Third. I read a lot. I’m literally currently reading three books:

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Second read before I do a review. Y’all know I fucking stan for his work. Honestly, his book Zero Saints (prev link is my review) STILL has literally the best fucking ending.

Naked: The Rhythm and Groove of It. The Depth and Length to It. By  Nastashia Minto.  Also on my second read ahead of a review. Spoiler alert this is a really beautiful book. Just…gut punched and held and seen and it is so good.

AND my first read of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff. I really love Jen. Like she is very good human people. Seriously, look here where I featured her. The book so far is I love it. More when I finish.

I also will read any and everything that catches my eye via social media. I read some lit mags. I read.

Fourth. Sometimes I do other writing biz stuff. Update my bios (pro tip, save a doc with a short and a long bio so you don’t scramble to make new ones), take care of any things like invoices, updating my submission spreadsheet.

Last, sometimes I just don’t write. I’m very paranoid about disappointing my patrons so I will sorta force it but sometimes I really just don’t.

Now some tips for jumpstarting your brain:

  • If you are working on something long, copy the last say 500 words you did and open a new document. Paste those words and go from there.
  • Write a flash or other stand alone part of the story. Tired of your main characters? Write a scene or something with a minor character or expand on a small event.
  • Let yourself screw up.

Let’s expand on that last bit. A lot of the time what I could call writers block is actually me being afraid to fuck it up. It is a lot of pressure to want to do the thing and just knock it out of the park. That will happen probably at some point but a lot of the time we’re gonna fuck it up.

Art is not a finite resource. You can’t use yours up. It is okay to fuck up. What matters is what you do after said fuck up. For instance, when I was almost to the end of the Daiyuverse Cycle 2 I literally trashed the whole thing. Now, I’m not under like a publishing house deadline so I don’t know how folks deal with that but, I was terrified that the change would screw my patreon forever.

It didn’t.

Also, I’m a write when I can how I can type. Sometimes that means I write on the memo pad on my phone, in microsoft word. Sometimes in a text doc. Or an email draft. I do what feels right and sometimes just gotta calm the shit down and do the thing.

I also have learned that I have to let myself have feelings about the work I’m doing. I will complain on social media, cry to my bestie about the essay I’m writing giving me bubble guts. Sweat, flail, sometimes I get the anxiety shits because of stuff I’m writing and I’ve come to accept that is just part of my process. I can’t do the work and not let it happen in my body the way it does.

OKAY my darling friends.

That is all about the work today. I’ve got work to do. Stay tuned, I’ll have some exciting writing biz news coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Stay Frosty.

 

What I’m hype to read.

Hello Space Babes. Before we get to the stuff I’m excited to read this summer a few bits of official business.

If you haven’t already, come over to bookface and like my new author page.  I’m just getting rolling and I want y’all to come be a part of the Magical Space Babe Army. Also FYI I will be using amazon affiliate links. Y’all know baby likes makin a few coins.

I’m slowly rolling out some new stuff. At the bottom of this, you’ll find some promo stuff I’ve got going on.

SO holy shit y’all I swear every writer I know has out some great stuff.

First up, do y’all remember beloved Jen from this post? Well her book On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard is out now.   I want to mention one of the 1 star ratings. Look, writers NEED to ask for reviews. This is not unethical this is the modern world we live in. Most writers don’t have the cash to hire PR teams to ask this for them. Don’t let that deter you. Jen is good human people and quite frankly, her methodology of working with folks in an intimate way to help herself AND others is pretty fucking great.

Next up, most delicious Craig Laurance Gidney has a new book out and I am SO READY. A Spectral Hue has landed. I don’t remember how I was introduced to his work, HA no wait I DO remember. It was from this story in Expanded Horizons.  (Side note if you like spec fic you should read ALL their archives. Myself included. There is a WHOLE ass story about that story). Y’all, this book, it looks so good. You can read a chonky ass excerpt over at Heavy Feather Review. 

I am currently reading tiny bits of Naked: The Rhythm and Groove of It. The Depth and Length to It by Nastashia Minto. Shit y’all. This is such a beautiful piece of work. I’m barely halfway through because I want it to last forever. I’ll be doing a big ole review soonish and I HIGHLY recommend you read this book.

OKAY I’m gonna fangirl for a hot second. I’m about to dig into Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets by Feminista Jones. I have been following FJ for years. I really love how she speaks to folks and have been deeply inspired by her in my own work. Y’all, shit just read it.

Next thing I’m super excited about is this slice of fat ass deliciousness. THINKING HORROR: A JOURNAL OF HORROR PHILOSOPHY VOLUME 2: THE HORROR BOOM edited by some real solid folks and y’all. This is 400 pages of deep beautiful thought. Volume 1 was pretty fucking spectacular and if you are super into horror, get it.

The homie Joe Clifford (check here) who’s work I really enjoy has wrapped up the Jay Porter series and you can get ALL FIVE. Y’all, I really like Joe and his work. If you enjoy relatable asshole characters (please read my first link there to get what I’m saying) he writes these lovable dudes so well. Very enjoyable.

For my woo folks, one of my fave magical mother fuckers The Misha Magdalene has a book coming out I’m so excited to read. Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice. Y’ALLS.  I met Misha at a reading I did and they are just a really delightful fucking person. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but, I am SUPER AWKWARD and usually run away from folks at readings and didn’t from Misha. They interviewed me here  and gosh y’all. I am very excited about this book.

Next up a dude I enjoy, Richard Kadrey. I don’t know him well at all but I dig his brainmeats. His Sandman Slim series is probably responsible for my return to reading some urban fantasy noir type shits. He has a new book coming out this month called The Grand Dark. I am so here for it.

I feel like i’m forgetting books…

But for real tho. There is a LOT of greatness out.

OKAY now I’m gonna promo some of my own shits.

First up, I’ve released some stuff on Kindle. Please head on over to the evil empire and check out my author page. So far I’ve got some spec fic, a few old collections I put up ages ago and one really dirty lesbian story. If you do that thing, please follow my author page there and stuff. My kindle shop is going to expand. I am enjoying just putting the things in the world and moving it right along. If you do Kindle Unlimited you can even read some for free.

Next thing, I’ve got a Redbubble merch shop. So far there are some weird graphic things I made AND Magical Space Babe Army merch. Enjoy.

SO hi. If you’re new welcome to the Magical Space Babe Army. If you have a book or something you want folks to see, please leave a link in comments!

 

Don’t Throw That Shit Away

HELLO my favorite Space Babes.

Let’s talk about holding onto your stuff.

I write a lot of shit. I have tons of scraps of stories, bits of poems, lil snatches of research and whatnots. From one of my fave books about writing, the classic On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King,  one of the lasting lessons for me was to stop throwing stuff away. Way back when I was a baby potato, writing in absolute secret I was terrified of anyone finding out and I was so embarrassed by how bad I was at writing, I’d write stories, read them once and tear them up. If I was feeling particularly upset, I’d burn the pieces.

Very dramatic.

Once I started using computers regularly, I did about the same thing. I wrote stuff, decided I was too shitty to live and deleted them. I did this for probably the first decade (from let’s say age 13 through about 24) of me becoming a writer.

After my first reading of On Writing, the first thing I put into practice was not in fact keeping what I wrote. I still had a bad habit of just deleting anything I didn’t believe in immediately. Back then, I was very vested in being published in very specific ways. I was mainly writing a lot of erotica and copy for a few adult sites. I occasionally got a horror publication here and there.

My criteria for what I’d keep or not keep came down to being held hostage by the Literary Canon. Cis, white, hetero unless it was queer for hetero eyes. That was what got me into the industry. I didn’t believe that my secret work (the baby versions of a lot of what I’m doing now) was worth keeping because I was taught otherwise. On occasion, I ventured into literary Black territory and was usually not rewarded in any way by doing so. There was a time when, I had the audacity to be very Black and Queer on the internet and I lost a really lucrative job because after my employer checked my personal stuff (a blog and whatnot) he sent me a very worried email that I couldn’t really write “normal”.

Fast forward to earlier this morning. I was casting about looking for an older story I was thinking about reprinting and I found a treasure trove of things I tucked away in my cloud storage. In the past five or so years I’ve suffered some catastrophic data losses and computers dying and taking years of work with them so, stumbling on things I wrote in 2010/2011 feels so good.

I spent some time reading some of my early noir, I have the first 60 pages of a super natural/werewolf buddy detective thing I wrote way back in 2010ish. I know that much of the going writer culture is to be terribly embarrassed by your old work. Hide that first novel in a drawer, be charmingly embarassed in interviews when asked about your early work.

I reject that entirely. I am not embarrassed that once upon a time I didn’t know how to walk and routinely shit my pants. Now, I can (well I’m not great at it but) walk and I learned how to use the toilet. I’ve evolved. I’m proud of my growth as a human. I am so proud of myself for learning and changing.

From being confined to writing explicit work featuring a LOT of white people to now I have tucked away in a folder erotica that transgresses gender, race, and a few very creepy kings with impunity. It was purchased by a now defunct publisher so I might go ahead and publish it.

Look.

You cannot step back and appreciate your own growth if you hide where you were. I don’t believe in shame about how we become the artists we are. That is why I’m rarely ashamed to show a first draft. I’m rarely upset that I have a snippet of a story that just will never ever work. I’m proud that I’ve found my voice and having this back catalog of stuff that shows me the way I got here is fucking amazing.

Don’t be ashamed.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Play. When I say play I mean just fuck around. Never written sf? Give it a shot. Try stuff. Let go and play on the swingset and write a crappy ass horror story or a super cheesy love story. As I’ve said in my creative loveletters, make something ugly. Paint something, put together a puzzle, just do something. Get a weird idea and see where it goes.

Don’t throw it away.

Okay below, find a good chunk of the weird buddy werewolf thing I started and may yet finish.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw That Shit Away”

Lit News and whatnots.

OH hey you. I got news. You want news?

First, go read my newest piece up at Heavy Feather Review. It is a wee tiny murdery bloody thing.

What else?

I am pretty close to reopening a centralized writer page on facebook. I don’t really want to but, I also need ONE spot to promote shit cause, I’m about to have some shit to promote and doing it EVERYWHERE is just exhausting. That said, I’m going to make it lit af, promote other folks. It’ll be awesome. AND I will invite y’all to follow along.

What am I working on?

Most important thing is The OG Self Care Like a Boss Compendium. What the shit is that? Well y’all, after a heavy amount of straight plagiarism this year alone, I’ve decided to put together a big ass weird guide with everything. I’ll be releasing it on Amazon as both an Ebook and a print book. Currently, it is a big ole chonky 52k words and I’ll probably be adding another 20-25. More info when I get closer to the run up to launch.

What else?

I’m writing like a mother fucker. My economic situation took a bit of a shit but, unlike in previous times, I’m not letting that crush my creative drive. I’m not doing freelance. I haven’t frantically tried to figure out how to get another job. I’m dealing and that is huge.

I know bloggin has been slow af.

OH also, a new thing. You can find a brand new look at some of the self care material and some other stuff over on Kofi. If you see something you like please share it with your people.

The OTHER thing about a new facebook author page is that, I am very likely to use it as a vehicle for writing and craft stuff. So for realreal. Keep your eye out.

If you’ve got projects, books to promo etc. Please feel free to drop links in comments and check each other out.