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.

Giving what I have right now.

I can’t be in so much pain and anger today.

That said, I’d like to share some beauty.

First up, please enjoy a little video of me reading my story The Beloved of Colel Cab you may need to crank the volume, my new phone isn’t the greatest for video but here you go. Feel free to share it, like it, subscribe to my youtube channel. I will have more lit vids coming.

If you’d like a copy to read or read along (I am working on a good transcript) click here it is available as a free post at my Patreon. 

I have some new self-care stuff coming. Emergency stuff.

I have a new piece of work a prose-poem thing on Ink Node.

I am very well and truly out of spoons and this is what I know how to do. This is what I can give to my community. Some things from my heart that might be a bit of a respite.

I also offer up the pieces on self-care I wrote a while back and put on Medium. Take them and share them if you know folks who need them. Here and Here.

Check this slipstream flash story. It’s a happy little thing.

And one more, a favorite story of mine. A little Queer Flash fiction love letter to my fellow Brown Femmes. Check the link for the story and an interview.

This is all I have right now. I’m so not okay I have nothin else.

When I have something, it’s yours.

Until then, take care of yourselves and each other and I love y’all.

Baby tries Fantasy. Ft Fancasting

Under the read more you’ll find the whole first page of my second try at fantasy. I tried it before with these characters and tried again. Actually I’ll show you the whole thing I have so far. In FACT I’ll include my fancast for it. Because that is a thing I do often. Also pardon if my train of thought wanders at times I haven’t really slept in two days.

My idea for this is this as follows:

  • Gender markers being fucked with. Our King is a woman named Nailah. Her wizard wears dresses because he likes them. King Nailah is a war king. She is a bad ass with a bad reputation and she likes to seduce everyone and hang out with her fellow warriors. Think Gina Torres would play her in a movie after beefing up a bit. Okay a lot of bit, like Linda Hamilton in T2. See here but picture her with locs and with some facial scars and tattoos.

king

 

  • Her Queen to be, is a literal cat person. So I spent some time studying feline social behaviors, etc. and came up with the assholest cat to be a cat person. Her name is Makatza and she’s somewhat of a mystical figure in this fantasy land. I thought a lot about how to incorporate some really specific cat behaviors into a human sized being. The tail swish, one turned ear, being a demanding but totally loveable little butthole. Imagine she’s furry, her middle body is beigy brown and as her fur goes around her body it turns black. But her fur isn’t like tiger fur, think more downy softy fur. Her ears are black, her tail is black and quite long. She isn’t a shape shifter, she is a cat person. Think a body type like Countess Vaughn here, but a bit less busty.
countess
Imagine her as a cat.
  • Our next important character is called Nazar and he is the King’s bestie, former lover and war wizard. He is also very shy and anxious. In this part of this story (there are longer versions and notes)he’s still a bit young and has a bit of puppy fat yet. But yes this face both the younger and the older are what I imagine when I think of Nazar. He’s very loyal, very good at his craft and is a bit confused as to what role he is to play with the King.
nazar
Nazar the Catalyst as a baby wizard.
  • So far we also get a peek at First Regent Bilale who is like the captain of the gaurd, confidant, tactical expert and potentially the man who will teach our King to be a husband. I haven’t decided yet. Picture this gorgeous gent a bit older and scarred up. Like he’s been swinging axes and shit.
bilale.jpg
I just..well. Yeah look at him.

So far those are most of the major players I imagine in my head. There are some others I can’t totally see yet.

But we see why this could be an issue don’t we?

I’m sure somebody will be asking themselves, but where are the White people Shannon?

Well………

Nope.

This magical land is full of black and brown folks (there is a char I picture as Margaret Cho with her shaved head, but that’ll happen later) but yeah. Naw.

What’s interesting is that one person I floated this idea to give me a little bit of the “but that’s not believable” I almost automatically spat out that Junot Diaz quote about motherfuckers reading shit in Elvish and inquired about how many places in medievil Europe were rocking dragons and shit?

I’m not sure how much of this world, I will create but so far I’m pretty into it. I’m working on word-building, like a whole world that is Earthy but not Earth. I’m working on creating some language, some cultural stuff and so far I haven’t gone off the deep nerd end.

Yet.

So here you go folks. It is my birthday and my present to you is a bit of Cat Rules Queen, a fantasy WIP by yours truly. OH also this is entirely unedited exactly as it came out of my brain. No rewrites/correction so don’t trip.

Enjoy.

 

Continue reading “Baby tries Fantasy. Ft Fancasting”

Yeah Write #253 Id, Raddow and Freud Was On To Something.

Id, Raddow and Freud Was On To Something.

The worst things in The World come from the dreams of children between the ages of two and four. The minds of children at that age are the ripest fruits of terrible creation.

For every elegant Sidus there is a rampant amorphous horror that slides and gibbers and squeals. Things that crawl and move in ways that the adult mind must reject, must believe cannot be real.

They say that all humans are born Generists. As we are born blank slates, ready to be imprinted with civility and humanity, we are born engines of fear. Like many things most humans grow out of it, as they age their wavelengths alter and their nightmares no longer build and create The World. There is a theory among the Professori and other academic or research minded individuals that revolves around the idea that between 2 and 4 our brains are at the perfect moment, we are conscious but not yet at the age of reason. We dream but cannot yet reconcile those as simply bad dreams.

As toddlers we are all the Id unleashed and unchained. Our language is not yet sophisticated enough to do the dreamwork necessary to banish these dreams or shed light on them enough to render the inert. Freud knew:

We assume that mental life is the function of an apparatus to which we ascribe the characteristics of being extended in space and of being made up of several portions [Id, ego, super-ego]. —Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis 

***

A Father sits bolt upright in bed and leaps from the comfort of his blankets into the chill night air. His partner sleeps and their child wails in his room. The sound is high, sharp and full of primitive panic. Without care that he is barefoot and shirtless the Father runs into the small bedroom, he expects blood or an intruder but there is only the child. The child sits up, clutching blankets and screaming the way only small children can.

“Shh, shh Daddy’s here. Daddy’s here, it’s okay, come on, it’s okay don’t cry.”

Wrapped in big strong Daddy arms the child stops screaming and whimpers.

“Daddy? Daddy, don’t want the raddow, raddow Daddy don’t want it.”

The Father frowns, rocking with the child tucked against his chest.

“Shh, it was just a bad dream. Just a bad dream, Daddy’s here.”

The sweating child mutters about raddow and something that says, “thlissss my kid” or something. He doesn’t know. He does what his Father did for him when he had bad dreams. He climbs into the narrow little bed and tucks a stuffed bear against the child and then the child against his chest.

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word-“

The Father closes his eyes, he is so tired. The nightmares have been every night this week. The child watches the darkness with glassy eyes. Daddy falls asleep still singing and the child watches the thing slink out from the shadow of branch on the wall. The child knows, the child hears the chitinous whisper,

“thlisss, my kid. See my kiddie, kiddie.”

The child sees the one luminous eye bright with malice and intent.

There is no more screaming, Daddy is here and the child can’t stay awake any longer. Sleep settles and the thing, the raddow is made and slips out of the world with a whisper and a promise. The child will forget, the father will forget and someday a Warrior or Beholder will happen upon the Raddow and as it whispers to them, all they will think what we all think when we know the thing we fight has come from the mind of a child.

“Fuck I hate kids.”

###

Further on Racial Uplift and Space.

As promised on facebooks I want to follow up this post .

I want to talk first about the feelings of conflict I still have. On one hand, I am still thirsty and desperate for solidarity with other Black people. A large part of that is trauma based in the fact that I had zero Black folks community growing up. Yes, I had family but most of my Black family I didn’t see often.

I spent time in my early 20s venturing into the POC neighborhoods and looking for that solidarity. I went to some community meetings, I went to see some speakers. Unfortunately, I did not really get to talk to folks. I showed up, gothy self in full effect. Loudly out Queer, concerned with the undesirables talking about drug addicts, sex workers, etc. And that did not fit the prescribed narrative of who deserved help and solidarity.

One time sticks out in my brain. I showed up to a talk about various peer to peer community help type thing. I spoke to one of the head dudes about the sex ed curriculum I was developing for young people with a focus on high school age kids, street kids and sex workers. I was so hype for the chance to get some help producing printed materials or getting space.

Now, even though the meeting was in a church I did not realize it was essentially a church approved. I talked passionately about the diaspora and all the dude said was, “you pronounced diaspora wrong” and walked away.

That describes in spirit a lot of my early interactions with the larger Black community. I was pretty bitter about it for a long time and for a minute decided well fuck Black folks.

I stopped that thought, but it was really terrible for me.

Those experiences are what seeded my thoughts about racial uplift.

I had to untangle the why of it and the how of it. The reality is that in a culture that absolutely devalues everything Black until White culture absorbs it until they are tired of it, racial uplift is important.

Everybody wants to be a nigga..etc see Paul Mooney talk about that here.

America loves Blackness until it is attached to an actual Black person.

When I realized that, I realized that while it hurt(s) my heart it is a direct result of White supremacy, racism and the very human need for hope.

For many Black folks, there is so little representation that we scramble and grab at whatever we get. Inside of that action, we start to find the gold. The Uplift. The Maya Angelou’s (but we can’t talk about her history as a sex worker). We buy into the idea that if we can just be better Negroes, if we only hold up our icons who have their pants pulled up and don’t use AAVE, who don’t look thuggish- that is the path to our salvation.

And there we see the failure of respectability politics and where a narrow idea of Racial Uplift falls apart.

This model by showing the shiny White Approved- no, not approved let’s be real tolerated (until they aren’t) icons fails because we’re human and humans are flawed and multifaceted.

Now we come to how I’ve healed myself in regard to that feeling of rejection from my own community.

My hope is wider.

My hope is that as we steam into the future, racial uplift can be expanded to those of us who aren’t “positive”, who aren’t putting on a good face for Whiteness, who are Queer, who are not religious, who are hood as fuck, who are poor, who are trans, who produce art that is disturbing and strange.

Blackness is so hugely beautifully diverse in how we express it, live it, make art in it and about it.

Blackness is so precious because even though not all skinfolk are kinfolk, we don’t have to be kinfolk.

Blackness built an American culture in ways that a lot of people might heavily mourn if it weren’t for us.

Blackness has taught America how to protest.

Blackness is my life. And there is space in the diaspora, in the creative diaspora for me and for you.

At this age and point in my creative life I’m at peace with this. It doesn’t burn my heart when a Black folks thing doesn’t necessarily need my flavor of art but they appreciate it.

I do think that we have a lot of work to do in terms of how we as a people start dismantling racial uplift in the context of putting on that Good Negro dance for Whiteness.  That said, I also believe that we can change that part of our culture and get beyond it.

So there you have it.

 

 

Promote ALL THE THINGS!

Oh y’all. Go get yourself some coffee and then come back because I have MANY things to show you. Per usual any Amazon links will be affiliate links.

Some of this stuff I bookmarked for this other stuff I asked for. All of it is awesome. Hand curated stuff to look at, read, buy and otherwise enjoy.

SO.

First up, my fave Milcah has announced they are relaunching their blog with a WHOLE NEW THING. I’m very excited about it and you can go read about it here.

Next, my friend s. j. bagley turned me onto a new project he got involved with called Thinking Horror. The blurb from Amazon:

THINKING HORROR: a Journal of Horror Philosophy is a nonfiction journal devoted to modern and contemporary horror literature consisting of essays, editorials, and in-depth interviews. The journal will be focused on the contexts and concepts of horror fiction.

I am SO FUCKING INTO IT HOLY SHIT. I just yeah. No for real go check it out at Amazon. I’ve been waiting since he announced it forever ago.

Next a new thing by someone I admire greatly. My friend Aaminah Shakur writing about art and watching you watch art. Y’all, their writing about art even when I don’t understand it just floors me. GO LOOK.

Now how about some poetry? My friend Noemi Martinez has a new piece up that I just love. Check that out here. Also check out Hermana Resist here. Fucking awesome.

My friend Lily has launched something really amazing. I can’t even…I mean. Okay, just go here to facebook (and like her page while you’re there) and look at her message pills. Buy some for someone because it’s a fantastic, loving idea. Lily is fucking magical.

This essay by Sarah Boyle at Gorgon Poetics, YASSSSSS. BURN IT DOWN! Um..that is how I express my love of this sort of thing. BURN IT BURN IT BURN IT!

How about more poetry? Hear my homie Kenzie Allen read her poetry and read the rest of this mag there is a lot of loveliness to be had. AND audio…I swooned.

A writer I adore is doing tiny letter. HOLY CRAP. GO GO GO and get letters from Mo Daviau. It will be great I promise.

WOW. Just going back and LOOKING at all these things is just making me do a little happy wriggle in my chair. I legit know the most talented amazing people in the whole world.

Ready okay let’s continue.

Next up I read this book by Ki Russell a while back and it just stayed with me. How to Become Baba Yaga by Ki Russell..it is just. It’s so beautiful and mystic. I love it so fucking much. Read it.

I came across this piece via my FB feed and it is really great. I am a black woman in the American south. And I’m not leaving by
Latria Graham. It just, yeah it gave me a lot of feels.

MORE POEMS. This time by the delectable Sonya Vatomsky. Their poetry is just…just buy the book.  Their book Salt is for Curing is just..yeah. Go. 

LOOK at how lovely Sarah Khan’s official website is.  Check the photos tab. The b/w shot of the stem and leaf is just..totally my aesthetic and I would put that on my wall.

You want to see some more stuff to check out? My homie Sara Habien does Notes from Elsewhere over at WordRiot and real talk I totally stole the format from there. Go check out more things.

Lynn B. Johnson has the Oldest Blog Alive. And I am so delighted by that. HOW can you not love that?

We have a shy poet in the house too. Bronwyn Petry  has a website and writes and edits and has one of my favorite names. I know that’s a weird thing to say but I think Bronwyn is just a really lovely name okay. Go show some love.

Let’s take a reading break and how about some art? I stumbled across Hal Rotting Graphics on Tumblr forever ago and I just..unf. I want ALL of the things and am probably going to snag a sticker pack for my laptop here soon.

Next up, nerds pay attention. Go like the page for American Witch comics. I AM SO HYPE ABOUT THIS!

Are you Canadian? In or around Toronto and into film? My homie Trista DeVries has somethin for you! Pretty cool magazine on the film scene.

Are you writing things? I have some stuff for my writing friends.

First up read and then submit to Dead Housekeeping. It’s just, heartbreaking and so good. I cherish it while I read it. AND if you’ve been here a while you’ve heard me say it time and again, COME JOIN US AT YEAH, WRITE.  No for real do it do it do it do it.

Need translation? Some bad ass poems? Non fiction? You need to meet Shabnam Nadiya. All the yes.

And we all need more amazing non binary trans-masculine types in our lives right? NO seriously, you do. Meet AJ Ripley and well, you’re welcome.

Listen to Gyda Arber talk about her new really cool project.  It is a podcast AND one you can download and listen to on the go. Fuck to the yes.

Now meet Stephanie Georgopulos. Freelance writer and she runs Human Parts. Awww, yiss.

Speaking of Human Parts, my friend Laurence Dumortier did this really great piece over there. Go read it. 

More stuff to listen to! Katie Klabusich hosts a podcast I really enjoy called The Katie Speak Show. I’m SO here for it. Bookmark, listen love.

More stuff? How about some real good nerd stuff? Via my homie  Alisha Karabinus and her academic team, ALL THE THINGS GAMING! Podcasts, videos awesomeness. If you are trying to get your nerd on in the context of amazing stuff like race and gaming, get it.

I also want you to meet Jen Selk writer and editor of awesome. Reviews, journalism, checkout her statement at the bottom of the page. TROLL BE GONE!

NOW okay this is pretty cool. Via Hanna Brooks Olson and Sarah Anne Lloyd, SEATTLISH. I didn’t realize I KNEW THEM. And that’s pretty fucking cool.

WOW this was a beast. Are you still here? Thanks for hanging out. I’ve been squirreling links away for weeks and I just get so excited about sharing my community with y’all. AND I don’t want you starved for great stuff to read and look at.

What about yours truly?

Well, actually naw. Check out the sidebar for my stuff. We’ll do me another day.

Except to say that I’ve been crocheting again after not doing it for a while and it feels great. I’m working really hard to work up the courage to sell some of my wares. Until then look at this beauty I’m working on now. I will be adding some gorgeous deep, vibrant teal and he’ll be done.

Thanks for reading and as always, if you have stuff you want to share with everybody, LEAVE THEM LINKS BOO!

shawl

Be That Shit.

First behold my fave meme.

dreams

First panel says: Follow your mothafuckin’ dream.

Second panel says: I don’t give a damn if you wanna be a professional Ninja Turtle.

Last panel says: Be That Shit.

I am all about that Be That Shit Life.

So here’s what’s going on in my pursuit of the above.

First thing, I did a great interview for Litcrawl Seattle. Get it here at Tumblr and please feel free to pass it along. My event is this one:

VIDA Presents: Women of Color Prose Reading
Fred Wildlife Refuge, 128 Belmont Ave. E.
With Shannon Barber (Self Care Like a Boss), Jennine Capo Crucet (Make Your Home Among Strangers, How to Leave Hialeah), and Wendy C. Ortiz (Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook).

Um holy shit right? HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.

I am terribly nervous but I got my outfit sorted and what I’m reading and will just…do that shit. If you are there please know I will probably want to hug you but I will be really sweaty.

Next thing, I am launching my own TinyLetter newsletter. Find that here. Look forward to general writing life stuff, appearances, announcements, maybe the odd wee essay. It’s free and I won’t spam you at all. I am very nervous about doing this and it took a lot of me goading myself into it.

It looks like we have a very few 50% off copies of Self Care Like A Boss. Last I heard there were only six left. So if you want it now, grab it. Look out for the next iteration around New Years.

What else is happening?

I am relearning to make zines and will have some to sell over in my etsy shop by Christmas.

Also to celebrate October I’m gettin Spoopy over there and am re-releasing some spooky fiction and for Halloween (also my anniversary with my partner, Old Goths are Old) some brand new Lovecrafty type stuff. Check out what’s available here.

I almost forgot.

I had a reading a couple of weeks ago and I put up one of the pieces I read on Ink Node. I also have a tiny lil video of me reading from Self Care Like a Boss. After I get some sound tests done, I will be posting more videos of me reading and blogging about stuff. It’s gonna be a thing.

What else?

AH yes in the more angsty region of the Be That Shit Life, I decided I’m going to go ahead and try doing a fundraiser to help get me to AWP. I made a huge long list of pros and cons, discussed it with my partner and yeah, it is important to me to go. I’ll do a whole big post about it later after I get things set up.

Later this week more in my Yeah, Write grand experiment. Should I explain about that some this week?

I dunno.

So yeah, go read the things! Check out the Etsy and you my friend, Be That Shit. Whatever you wanna be.