A Winter. Broken. – Freebie fiction

HI frens! I have news but we’ll get to it another day. Part of me doing whatever I want to with my words, here is a story inspired by beloved writer Christopher Ropes. I am not sure if this is fan fiction or no but this is inspired by his piece from Nox Pareidolia, which I reviewed back here. So enjoy this lil haunted thingymajiggy.

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Their hold on me had long since loosened. When I went back everything was the same, suspended in time as the snow fell in silent glory. For years I’d heard the whispers in my dreams, seen and felt the gaze of her. My dreams and heart were haunted by the long shadow of her, Moher Hawthorne. I stood in the doorway of one of the rooms, the air was so thin I could see into the Veil and across it. Time moved behind me but not in front of me. For the first time, I understood that I had come home. He had left a hole in the world only I could find.

“Ser Campbell.” I knew her voice. Her shape. I could see just the bare outline of her moving through the still air. When she touched my cheeks with her rough warm hands, the way she smiled down at me I thought I was going to cry but I smiled. “Yes ma’am.” My voice tore at the air, it was never the same after what happened. “You look like him. Come.”

She led me through the house. The empty halls and abandoned rooms throbbed with pain, eons of pain leached into the very earth with blood and terror. It was no haunt, it was the truth I had known elsewhere. “Mother Hawthorne?” She allowed my arm to snake around her waist and she held me close, “yes child?” As we stopped in front of an empty window, I watched the appearance of footsteps in the snow heading away from us and I could hear the echo of her own mad laughter. “I’m afraid. What if, what if he doesn’t want me?”

I let her walk me into the whiteout and I felt her body move with silent laughter. “Hush Ser Campbell. There has been none other than the two of you to end the story.” Before I could respond she was gone, I heard from behind me the rising howl of laughter and felt her spirit rush by and into the whiteness. I heard her cries on the wind, what she’d said to him before she disappeared. I walked into the snow and felt the hood torn from my head and watched the world tilt and slide around me. On the ground I saw a word, and settled down.

The Veil between us had always been thin. I knew that. My life was ruined the day they came. In that when, I lost my Daddy. I had only been 6 years old and they took him, they hurt him, they ruined us. I lost the heart of my Mother that day and until I was 16 all I knew was desperate terror. Until I felt the pull. For a moment, I saw his face in my dreams and he whispered, hope. I carried his whisper inside my soul until I found the place where the Veil would lift and we could be together again.

Time was running out, the snow was slowing and I had to go. I retraced Mother Hawthorne’s steps and took as big a breath as I could. “Thank you! Thank you Mother!” I hollered and gamboled like a newborn fawn, I galloped through the empty hallway cackling and howling with laughter and fear. I was never graceful and the thunder of my steps outpaced the howl of the wind outside. I burst through the right window and I saw him rise from where he knelt writing in the snow. The wind whipped his hood back and I started screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy wait!”

Brother Campbell didn’t know how many times the scene had played out. His last moments with Mother Hawthorne, his own bitter tears. The sudden loss of so much of his own sorrow had left him adrift in time. He was something worse than a ghost and had almost given up. He’d figured himself to have been just a conduit for the others, for Mother Hawthorne. And then through the eternal bellow of the winter storm he heard it and as he turned to face the old g=house he saw. The snow and whatever the Veil was, gave him a split vision.

His living beauty daughter, whole and unharmed juxtaposed against the ungraceful creature galloping full speed at him. There have been precious few who have gone to their real earned eternal rewards. Brother Campbell had given up the comfort of his own suffering for Mother Hawthorne. He had left the last remnants of his own humanity, the last thing to tether him to the Earth he knew for the others. The snow paused almost and there she was. “Daddy! Daddy!”

The sob he’d held in his gut for he didn’t know how long broke. The young person who flung themselves into his arms was not the ravaged 6 year old he’d lost. “Daddy! Daddy!” They were the daughter he could have had, the potential he’d thought existed but never dreamed to hold in his arms. “They call me Ser Chris Campbell. Is that, is it okay?” He wept, his tears stung his frozen cheeks and he felt the smile crack his frostbitten skin and he looked down at them. “Yes. Of course. Of course, my baby. My darling. My love.”

The two hugged and wept, they laughed and understood. When he could speak he finally asked, “how?” Ser Chris smiled up at him, they pointed at the ground where the word he’d written over and again was disappearing under a fresh layer of snow. “You left hope here.” He pulled her hood up and took her hand. They had few real options in the world and he couldn’t stand the thought of returning to the world she’d been taken from. They stood together a ways down the path, they turned to watch the house.

The old house moaned under the weight of the snow and the release of generations of rage and pain. As they watched it began to rot and wither away until all that was left was the rubble of the foundation. “Daddy, we have to go now. They will rest.” They watched the shades of Mother Hawthorne and others run and laugh and fade until they too were gone and there was only the sound of the snow and the Campbell’s breathing.

Brother Campbell looked down into the face of hope and he understood how Mother Hawthorne had looked the last time he saw her. Ser looked up at him, their big eyes full of the brightness of moonlight on snow and they looked at him as a martyr beholds God and he understood. They bent together to write one last thing in the snow. As they set out arm in arm, Brother Campbell’s tears gave way to laughter. He laughed and ser laughed and they understood. They all, understood.

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.

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.

What A Frickin Year bro.

OKAY so let’s do recent news then my annual navel gazing look back at my own fuckery.

First up. My last publication of 2019 is one close to my heart. This essay was solicited, rejected, submitted, rejected a lot. Here is a taste:

Cultures around the world covet Blackness. Our skin tones, our styles, our hair, our features until, those things are attached to an actual Black person. Many of us have lived through harassment, job loss and general public humiliation because our style is too ghetto, our hair is inappropriate. I was raised to conform. Keep my hair straight, not be, act or look too Black. Blackness and my expression of it was constrained by the White gaze.

I was not taught how to love myself or how to be a human being.

III

Nothing about my physical appearance has ever been “right” save for a time during an extended eating disorder relapse when I was thin. Most of my life I have been chunky or fat. I am not able bodied. My teeth are not good. My skin is not clear. My hair is, frequently a mess. What began for me as a shameful secret has become the key to my personal liberation. My morals are, abhorrent to American culture.

Read it here at Queen Mobs Teahouse.

What else? I’ve resumed my newsletter/creatives loveletters. I moved over to Substack so come check em out. The year end big ole chonk one will be out probably soon.

This leads me into a little bit about what I’m doing with my work, what I’m working on and stuff. So I won’t be doing any super deep essays for a while. No new shit about racism, Anti Blackness etc. Y’all I honestly just can’t. I’m burnt out. Uh here’s the thing. I don’t think I will make my writer bones writing that shit. I’m not the one and that’s fine. Yes, I am good at writing those things. Yes, it matters deeply to me but, my language and who I am as a person and how I write just tends to cause problems and I’m tired.

In my continuing quest to figure out how to be more sustainable in my art, this part of my craft is just too much for me right now. The publications that fuck with me, most aren’t able to pay a whole bunch and I’m not mad at them for that, indie media is a struggle. I am very mindful that the payment I can get, often doesn’t counteract the cost of the rest of the bullshit.

This is brought to you by the fact that an entry I wrote here a few years ago, STILL makes white people so angry I get shit about it. I wrote about the experience at the time here. 

Thing is, I’ve long stopped equating the idea of folks seeing my work being totally worth it. Frankly, for me seeing (shit pls do not take this as haterade) that, I can’t be or am rarely considered to be the type of Black writer to get the seat at the table and the cash without a heavy fee (as in, toning it down, blablabla) it just hurts too much.

My body of work is out there. I am free with link sharing but I’m not sure I will do more of that in an intentional manner.

So this is also part of me doing the work of finding my lane. Y’all been here, you know that this is important to me.

Freelancing=not my lane.

Resource creator for my community=not my lane. I’ve failed in that because I don’t think I have the trust of communities I’m in so yeh.

I think that for 2020 I need to focus on just being the little weirdo potato I am. In this long ass process of letting go of one version of being a successful writer, I’m stumbling along and mostly just trying not to be fully lost.

Essentially, I’ll post stuff where/how I feel like in the moment. I’m not going to go real hard about trying to hustle my Medium or Kindle links. I just don’t have the energy to do all that and get pennies in return. It is not only time consuming but also, y’all it just hurts my feelings.

So there tis homies.

I will likely not post again until the new year. So I love you. Thank you for riding with me through the years. We gonna be okay.

Love,

Shannon

 

Updates And Stuff To Read

Hello darlings.

Your problematic fave has some news and stuff to read.

An essay I’m terribly proud of finally found a home. Head on over to Queen Mobs Teahouse to read my ‘Make Me a Monster‘ essay. This essay which is, me at my rawest and realest got itself a lot of rejections included one that was from a solicited submission.

How about some hustle updates? Recently, Medium has changed how they calculate payment. I have put some new stuff over there and in absolutely non shocking news it doesn’t do well. I am trying to stop hurting my feelings with analytics but, frankly while yes I make about .60$ more a month or so, most people aren’t interesting. So on one hand, yay I made 1.87$ last month, I also offered up more than a few thousand words.

Other hustles, the holiday patreon drop off has begun. I’m not super worried about it. That is just what it do. Also as history has shown me, when I’m talking expansion that drives off patrons still so…eh.

On to Amazon. In the kindle publishing thing if you make your work available for Kindle unlimited you can make a bit of coin from page reads. I do not have any page reads since Sept 7. No sales of any of those pieces since Sept 25. I did one two week run of advertising to people I don’t already know. 600 impressions, 0 clicks, 0 sales. So I ate up my profits. I might make .52$ by new year. In total, for 2019 I made 35.46$ Minus advertising and when I tried FB advertising, my profit is about 4$. My two fave things I have available are the tiny horror collection Flashes of Discomfort. And the short story Bernie’s Warg. Those are affiliate links.

I think that’s it for hustling. I am trying really hard not to focus on it. It is so hard when you know that just a little more financial success would change so much. It is also hard because I know how I am and frankly, like I have said eleventy times before, I’m gonna write the shit anyway.

So I distribute stuff as I see fit. I’m doing really well at noting when things flop and why. I’m doing better at not getting bogged down in my financial failures. Emotionally, having my work not read/enjoyed etc isn’t the part that burns and that is so frustrating to me. It is a struggle but, we out here.

I think that’s all for now. 2020 is lookin up. I have one for sure thing that’ll be out third quarter. Maybe I’ll stop fucking around and write a real book. Another one. I dunno.

That’s all my loves.

OH OH wait..hold up.

I might be relaunching my creative loveletter thing. I am not sure yet. Stay tuned.

But what now?

HI Space Babes!

Things are gettin kinda cool again?

So post writer hustle life, I’m finding the joy in writing fiction and non fiction that I’m pretty sure nobody wants to publish. Waaaaaaaaat? I know right? Here’s the thing. I don’t go into the lit streets assuming that everyone wants to publish my genius words. A lot of folks don’t and that’s okay.

Once upon a time during my most prolific and successful (in the context of how much I got published) eras, I was in the headspace I’m in now.

I am writing whatever I want. Might it get read? I dunno. Will anyone but me like it? Dunno. Don’t care.

Thing is, I write a LOT of things other people don’t like or don’t like enough to expose their readership to. I always have.

Currently I feel like I can write my stories and fling them at the lit streets and see what happens. So what is happening?

GOSH y’all. I’ve been just scribbling away, stretching my fiction muscles. I’m playing and when I can play I write some cool shit.

One of the things I’ve learned through this HELLA painful trying to make money as a creative thing is that, I have a tendency to restrict myself when I really want to try and make money. I get deep in my own head about the ways in which a lot of the work I enjoy producing, doesn’t sell.

On a deeper level, I have also had to learn to navigate real trauma. As I’ve mentioned before if you’ve been here a while, I’ve been plagiarized many times. Concepts I started writing about a long time ago have been lifted sometimes verbatim. I’ve seen my pitches ignored only to read that thing in a magazine two weeks later.

This is real and having to learn that it was really happening and not just happening to me fucked me up. I have also had to learn to deal with being gaslit about this by (lezbereal White women in writing groups), other writers and whatnot.

SO.

In my retirement from that fuckery, because god damn it it IS FUCKERY, I am at play.

I am as I said previously, as free a mother fucker as I can be. And it is good. SO how about a lil bite of something I”m cooking up?

Fuck. Fuck fuckfuck fuck, fuck fuck; I didn’t realize I was muttering until my phone dinged softly in the pre-dawn darkness, “yes Melissa?” My voice assistant calls me by my real name, I was also startled when it piped up. “Shut up Binky.” I named it Binky, I liked to pretend I still had someone to bitch to about dumb things. Binky shut themselves down and I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark sweating and muttering, fuck. Fuck fuck. Fuck fuckfuck.

Soon my loves, we’re gonna have some new fun shit here. So enjoy babes.

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.

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.