Dwelling in Darkness

Before I get to the darkness, some light. My first fiction publication of the year has gone live at the new magazine Rigorous. Read my cowboy/mermaid myth here. I’ll nerd about it later because I worked on it for months and the original inspiration might make y’all giggle.

I’ll nerd about the origin story for that piece later this week.

Per usual, when things are pretty much non-stop bullshit, I turn to the darker end of lit for comfort. Let’s talk about what I’ve been reading/listening to.

House of Horrors: The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler. (Amazon affiliate links ahoy y’all.)This book is pretty dingdang good. I actually followed this case with a lot of interest because really we don’t get to see/read about a lot of non-white serial killers. This book was missing the racial analysis I was craving, something more in depth than poverty and shit. BUT, that said a lot of the early history and behaviors of this killer cut across racial lines to intersect with other serial killers. Pretty good read.

I also reread Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Y’all if you’ve never read this book please read it. This one is a hard one for me to read. Every time I read it, the sameness of many of the struggles I have as a Black person are devastating. On the other hand, I also am soothed by the rhythm of this book and the familiarity. Read the thing.

I have a habit of dipping back into the darkness as y’all know.

May I also suggest some of my fave noir?

I really loved this piece in Out of the Gutter, The Flash Fiction Offensive. Initiation by Brendan Bakala.

For some other noir reading, may I suggest back issues of Thuglit. Like issue #5 (I’m in this one) I also suggest reading stuff by the publisher of Thuglit Todd Robinson. He’s good people and his writing is fucking tight. Read The Hard Bounce. I really fell in love with his characters Boo and Junior. His work is vivid and has a beating heart. Get into it.

Lamentation by my homie Joe Clifford, another one that I love. Y’all, like get on that. It is a series and it’s good.

Want something lighter?

Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba) by my dude Daniel Jose Older. If I’m not mistaken, this is the last in the Bone Street Rumba series (noooooooooooooooo) and it is so fucking good. It’s just, god damn it. I love this world so much I never want it to end for purely selfish reasons. Just…start at the beginning and read them all.

For an intense but not totally heart breaking read, start up the Broken Earth books by N.K. Jemisin. Start with The Fifth Season. If you like your fantasy with some literary bent and really detailed and showcasing some major, major researching skills, get it. These books are gorgeous.

If you need to get really sucked in deep into a whole other world, read The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. I liked this book, it wasn’t totally what I needed but it is very very good and goes deep into world building and the language is beautiful. 

Thing is, right now we all need some fucking space that isn’t littered with the actual fire that is burning up America right now and fixing to light up the rest of the world.

Don’t feel bad if you need to get away because we all need some of that lately.

What have I been doing?

Well I’ve been writing poems and SCLAB and a few stories. Trying to hang on to my sanity.

Before I go, how about a look at a bite of a hood noir story I started. Another one with a brother and sister duo, I’ve got a thing for that.

“You-‘

Tyrell heard his sister yelling from the front hall all the way into his office and cringed.

“Rusty ass. No account ass. Trifling ass. Shitty ass mother fucker.”

He heard her stomp past his door, steady talking shit.

“One more fuckin’ time I gotta do some nasty shit like that, you gonna take a dick for the team. Chicken ass, scary ass, useless looking bullshitting ass, but you’re better at this Tye Tye, lying ass-“

Her voice muted as the bathroom door slammed. Tyrell heaved a sigh and made a gesture at the other man in his office.

OH one more thing.

My birthday is in March and per request here is my wishlist.

Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review

Midnight-Taxi-Tango-Hi-Res-635x1024
Yes this is a big ass image. But LOOK AT THIS FUCKING COVER.

This is my review of Daniel Jose Older’s Midnight Taxi Tango. First, I recommend going back here and reading my review of the first novel in this series Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel

Ahem.

The short version goes like this. I devoured about half the novel when it came in the mail, threw it on the floor and just sat muttering, “this motherfucker right here…” it is an excellent follow up to Half-Resurrection Blues. If grown folks urban fantasy and magic is what you like, this shit right here is what you want.

Okay, so I’m going to put a read more cause thar b spoilers and it’s about to get nerdy as hell up in here.

No, seriously, I’m about to dork out on a whole other level and if you want to not witness my nerd meltdown.

Y’all been warned.

Continue reading “Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review”

The Grace of Kings- Review and Musings

I just finished Ken Liu’s epic, The Grace of Kings. I have some thoughts and we’re gonna get kinda nerdy.

I will put a read more in where spoilers start.

The short version. This is a silkpunk gigantic beautiful creation. There is an excerpt here and I highly recommend checking it out.

What I enjoy about this novel is the scope. I have the deepest admiration for writers in whatever genre who can create these huge worlds and do it with a fine enough eye to not lose the reader but still maintain the beauty of a new world.

I love the prose. Love it. The ease of the language that is unfamiliar is really well done. One of the things I am a huge fan of is when an author an take language that is all their own creation and make it seamless within the narrative. This from the glossary is one of my favorite things:

-tika: suffix expressing endearment among family members.

This is not an easy book. There are a lot of things to keep track of and people who aren’t fans of lots of background and detail won’t be fans. There are histories, poems, social information. It is a lot.

Personally, I love that sort of thing so it is right up my alley.

Overall, it is an intense and a lovely read. Totally immersive, almost to the point of distraction for me, but still very enjoyable. I did take a few issues, but there are spoilers, so read further at your own peril.

Continue reading “The Grace of Kings- Review and Musings”

My Book is about to be born.

Do you hear that noise?

The rumbling in the distance is the sound of my guts churning because my book is almost born.

Now you may be wondering, “but Shannon I’m a fucking adult what more do I need to know?”

Well, in Self Care Like A Boss we talk about a lot of stuff. For instance, we talk about disability and thinking about it when we’re able bodied. I give some able bodied to able bodied folks some advice. As in, if someone doesn’t ask you, don’t mess with their wheelchairs or other things.

We talk about what to do when you’re sick and nobody is there to take care of you, dealing with gender and pronouns, pooping, beauty for everyone of whatever gender.

This is not just adulting, we’re talking about thriving and basic survival in a society where a lot of us get the not so subtle message that it doesn’t matter how we live.

We talk about bodies and moving.

SO darlings.

My homies.

Now here is where I’m looking for your help.

If you are willing, here’s how you can help:

  1. Help me get the word out. Tweet, fb, share on various social media the link to my book.
  2. Have a blog? Feel free to snag the image and/or link to put up.
  3. Have a book coming out too? Drop me a link and I’ll post it up.
  4. Have questions? Ask away in the comments.

Now here is the cover:

SELFCARECOVER

Here is the link.

Link to my newsletter.

 

 

Self Promotion Post of all the posts.

august 2015

Portland, on Weds I’m going to be all up in you reading with this group of amazing WOC. Come on out, we might bite and we’re going to light up the night.

Now hopefully I’ll be able to get good video. I’m gonna try to work with my technology to make it work.

Next up, right before Self Care Like A Boss is unleashed on the world, I’ll be reading at Left Bank Books here in Seattle on the 29th. I don’t have all the details yet so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of Self Care Like a Boss our first tee shirt campaign was a success! YEAH. Now if y’all missed it and still want a shirt here’s the deal. We need to snag 10 orders of each style to go to print with them. If you want one, please for real go here and click the I still want one button and share widely.

As we’re running up on the release of the E-book here’s how to keep up. If you tweeter, follow my publisher here. For info on how to pre-order head right here and contact Milcah.

If you are more interested in my fiction, good news. If you have a couple of bucks you can head over to my Etsy store here and get some fiction! When I get home from Portland I’ll be adding some extra goodies for y’all.

Want to do more? I am currently 6$ away from a monthly goal at Patreon of having an extra 9$ a month to tuck into my savings account. Want info? Head over here.

Here’s the thing.

If you’re poor, you can help me out too. I am all in for signal boosts, spread the link to this entry or any of the others listed above. Put my name all over social media if you are so inclined.

Y’all have been so great and I’m so excited about what I’m doing. I cannot wait to have even more good news to share.

Now the author must feed herself before she has a toddler level meltdown.

Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all of you who’ve been reading and coming along with me for the ride.

Lamentation by Joe Clifford. A review.

All right y’all.

Review time.

I got a review copy of Lamentation by Joe Clifford recently and finished reading it last week. I’ve been a fan of Joe’s short work for a long time. I don’t remember where I saw it first, maybe Shotgun Honey or the Flash Fiction Offensive but yeah I dig it.

Let’s go in.

First of all the hardback has a really beautiful dust jacket. I just love it. And we know I’m kind of a sucker for good book design.

Look at it.

lamentation

Super pretty.

Now overall the short review is that I really like this book. I’m going to give it a name in terms of how the subject matter is dealt with and call it Dirty Pastoral. Not dirty like perverse, but dirty as in grimy, it’s a glimpse into the ugly side of living in a small town. This isn’t Charming Small Town America, this is decaying America where if you gotta be there, you have to fight for your bit of okayness.

It is very well written. Had I not known Joe wrote it, I would know he wrote it. The pacing is nice and tight and y’all, the end…I won’t spoil it but I was not ready and had I not been on the bus I would have yelled at the book because that’s how I handle things I love.

Overall, if you like crime fiction and you want something that isn’t just gangsters or big city drug fiction pick it up. (Affiliate link sorry)

Time to get nerdy because there are some things going on that tickled my writer nerd.

First of all I want to talk about the character Jay Porter. Jay is our low key hero and the way he’s written gives me an Everyman who isn’t just bland.

When we first meet Jay he is ostensibly a loser. At first blush, he’s that guy we all know, has a kid and an ex he’s hung up on. He has a shitty job and we’re tired of telling him he can do better. He’s the guy we all know who half the time you don’t know if you want to punch or hug or both.

What I really love about how Joe write this character is that we get that loser Everyman vibe but he isn’t pathetic. I personally really am not into the pathetic anti-hero trope. It’s boring.

The thing I find masterful and intriguing is that in the start of the book we get flashes and hints that Jay has an inner life that is beyond his current position in life. He’s not an undercover badass, he doesn’t suddenly find big brass balls, there’s a very tangible realness in Jay’s character that is upheld through the book and I really appreciate that.

The plot revolves around Jay, his speed freak shitbag brother Chris, murder, an ex girlfriend, a baby and a lot of douche bags.

One of the other things that I really love about this book is the lack of machismo. I’ve read too many crime stories and books where regardless of where the hero starts out, at some point he hulks the fuck out and suddenly can do shit. He can shoot, he knows how to handle any situation. He’s like Stallone in fuckin Cobra. (SHUT UP don’t judge me I love that movie)

Most of the main male characters aren’t written to be bad masculinity tropes. There is vulnerability, hurt, there is depth in the presentations of hetero masculinity that I appreciate. It takes someone who can write from a place that is secure in their masculinity to present other men that way.

There are few women in the book. And with those few women they are different from each other. I feel like this is something that was paid attention to. They weren’t all hot versions of the same chick.

I think one of the appeals for me of Joe’s work overall is that it feels rooted. It feels real because things are grimy. This book takes place in this lovely New Hampshire place in the dead of winter and I felt the sadness, I felt being a guy like Jay living in a shit town, with shit circumstances and a dirty life.

Again, I don’t mean dirty in a pejorative sense.

This is dirty like hood life is dirty.

I think for me my enjoyment of this book comes down to the fact that it feels authentic. Granted, I doubt there’s a lot of Black ladies in this town, I feel like I understand it because I like the grimy. Hood dirt is comfortable for me.

Like his book Junkie Love I will come back to this book. This is a world I can get lost in comfortably.

The bottom line is the following:

  • Read this book if you like crime fiction.
  • This is the type of shit I like.
  • Joe Clifford is a fine damn writer.
  • Read his work.

Keep your eye out. The next book I review will be by Kola Boof and I’m probably going to babble about some really awesome things going on. AND some updates on Self Care Like a Boss coming soon.

And let me mention before I forget that if you are one of my Patrons or if you’re interested, head on over there and check it out. I put out a letter and the first in a series of new stories, like serious Urban Fantasy stories that my Patrons get first dibs on. So come drop a dollar in the bucket and get a download.

Yeah Write Entry #209- Book Slut

 

Book Slut: An Ode to Challenged Books

by

Shannon Barber

One of my fondest memories as a reader is the year when I was a tween I decided to read every book on the 100 most challenged book list as published by the King County Library System. One by one I devoured every one and thought about what made them so terrible in the eyes of a few people.

I cried. I got angry. I was sad. I read things I didn’t entirely understand and would return to years later. I read books I had no interest in and couldn’t connect to.

Given the frothy mouthed things I’d read about book censorship debates, I fully expected to be twisted by my adventure. I expected that I’d be struggling with being a drug addled, teenaged prostitute who was pregnant and running away and of spectacularly loose morals. I was under the impression that reading these books, that letting their wicked ideas into my head would change me.

I was down for it and I waited for some shift in my brain to happen. I waited for the inevitable rejection of my budding personal system of morality and ethics to dissolve under the weight of books like Private Parts by Howard Stern or The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison to just happen.

I waited.

I read more books.

I started reading really dirty books by Henry Miller, Anne Rice and other perverse people. I daydreamed about being a beautiful gay boy and having Kerouac or Burroughs or Corso as my lovers. I thought about running away to befriend Alice Walker and sit at her feet to learn to be a writer.

I thought about my Queerness and how to deal with it.

I turned 16 and started trying to plan a life as a writer.

I wanted a girlfriend.

I still hadn’t been ruined by my promiscuous reading.

I exposed myself to violent texts, queer sex, drug use, prostitution, smoking, bullying, offensive language, adult situations, weird or extreme political viewpoints- I didn’t only expose myself to these things I craved them. I gorged on them.

Inside those inappropriate pages I found visions of myself. I discovered worlds I might not have been able to reach out and touch, but that made sense to me and thus helped the outside world to make sense to me.

I was still a child.

When I had problems and questions I didn’t have the voice to ask, they were inside books. When I wanted to be deliciously terrified, books were there. When the whole world seemed too big and terrifying, I had books.

For every person who says that children or teenagers shouldn’t read this or that, I say calm down maybe you shouldn’t read it.

I joyfully encourage the kids and the teens and everyone to read promiscuously. Read things that churn your stomach. Read things that terrify you. Read about people you hate. Read.

The world is waiting for you and if you are a tween like I was, it just might save you.

###

PS for some more info on banned or challenged books, read here.