Yeah Write #400- Pussy Kills

Yeah Write #400- 
Pussy Kills
by
Shannon Barber

I inhaled deep, blinked slow and spoke softly. “Pussy Kills.” The man standing in front of me smiled, frowned and found a place between the two. He was confused, I was irritated. He thought he was suave, ready to have his first Black girl as he’d already informed me. I wanted to read my book and finish my Jack and Coke in blessed solitude. 

“What?” I smiled and gave him the sweetest look I had on deck. “I said, pussy kills. You don’t want it. Goodnight.” I resumed reading and the hovering bartender pursed his lips, the laughter held in by the grace of the Gods. The bro, then red faced and confused wandered away, muttering about crazy bitches in bars.  

The bartender let the giggles out and slid another Jack and Coke next to my hand and waved off my money. After I thanked him, we had a nice conversation about Suicide Blonde by Darcy Steinke because he’d never seen the edition I had. I told him about how much I wanted to eat Lydia Lunch so I could be with her forever. We became the sort of friends that drank beers out of paper bags together and crawled around used book stores, and over wine and Tom Waits became occasional lovers. 

He was my first of a few gay lovers, he taught me about romance and how to put lipstick on a man with a beard. I taught him about the joys of having multiple imprints of the same book to see the typography changes and how to make a decent cup of coffee. Just before we stopped sleeping together, someone caught us kissing in the bar. When they asked why, he looked at them and said, “pussy kills.”

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Year End Wrap Up Early-

Henlo Friendos.

Welcome to your annual peek inside the working life of yer fave weirdo. Usually I do these later in the year but, I am not doing a lot of writing business for a bit which I will explain.

So we’re gonna talk money, failure, success and whatnots.

Let’s get it in.

Firs thing. Submission stats. 

I lost some of my stats and here is what I have:

My most rejected work was poetry. I submitted 85 individual poems in sets between 1-5. I had 1 accepted for publication

I pitched 18 times Mostly personal essays. 15 were ignored, 1 was written then I got ghosted by the editor. 1 is lost to the ether.

I was asked for this. And after this piece got rejected by everyone (about 11 times or so) Chanda bought it for The Offing. I think they were both some of my best work. 

Moving along to fiction. I submitted 3 pieces. 1 is still out in the wild. The other two got weird rejections.

Let’s talk expenditures.

I spent 132$ on Win Live 365. 

I spent 140$ on hosting.

I spent 15$ running Etsy. Approx.

I spent 50$ on some DIY shit for pomes.

I spent 35$ on some entry/submission fees.

I spent 150$ on misc writing biz related shit.

Next up, let’s talk Patreon.

I’ve offered up approx. 70k words. Monthly, patrons get about 3K on the urban fantasy project and as of a couple of months ago an additional around 2k words in writing lessons.

This year has been pretty weird in terms of how I’m viewing my successes. The statistics on this lil bloggy blog, my Medium account etc on the most superficial level are pretty great. Across various social media, here, tweeter and tumblr and Patreon I have a few thousand followers.

Just for this lil space, I currently have a bit over 600 followers. A few via email.

Generally speaking most posts here (even when I post more regularly) get about 100 views on a great day. On occasion one click out to work I’ve linked, more if it isn’t my work.

My top reads across the board are rando search engine hits from usually weird search strings and then folks read a few things.

OKAY so what does all this mean?

Overall 2018 has been a really hard year. My partner and I moved. A thing that was well planned but, due to circumstances out of our control cost me every red cent I had and then some.

The main computer I work on is useless. It was a trooper. The main problem is that I’ve not been able to buy really quality shit so, it didn’t last long and did not survive a full update to Windows10. I can sorta work online but it is super slow and doesn’t work well. RIP lil Stream.

Soooo I’ve also spent a lot of 2018 evaluating how I work and whatnot. How I hustle, and where I put my limited energy and time.

Here’s the thing.

I still give away too much of my work. I’m in a can’t get published cycle right now and I wrote the shit anyway.

My hustles to make the $$ happen anyway, have failed pretty badly. Using etsy as an example, I did not clear 100$ in profit in 1 full year.

I go back and forth feeling terrible about my inability to figure out what anyone might buy from me. This is mixed up with knowing the hows and whys I can’t get my fundraisers funded etc but, it is super fucking stressful and y’all. 

Y’all some shit is changing.

First major change is that without getting any indications of interest, I have expanded my Patreon offerings without changing the price structure. Fiscally a dumbshit thing to do but whatever. I also have more planned but we’ll talk about that another time.

Until I can afford the Beast Machine I want, posting will remain light. I’m writing as much as I can for Patreon and one other thing. I still have 1200$ of money to make/raise so I can finally pay off our move. Shit is rough but, I’m doing some shit.

I’m writing short fiction again and that feels nice. I haven’t written it in a while. I’m not pitching/freelancing much if at all. I just don’t have the patience to filter my mouth to get work because most of my meatspace life involves me trying to be somewhat chilll.

I dunno what else will happen y’all. Honestly, the move and subsequent money problems has just wrecked me. I keep having Had I only been able to fund my original thing, like I wouldn’t be in this fucking position. But here we are so……yeah.

That’s it. I will probably post some book reviews and other stuff before the end of the year. 

BUT yeah. That’s 2018 in my literary career.

WIPS, brains n things.

Oh HAY BOO HAY.

Few bits of biz first.

Current submissions:

1 languishing poetry submission. I’m pretty sure is a no.

2 Ghosted pitches so also probs nopes.

1 short fiction sub out.

What else?

Y’all remember me yammering about writing classes? WELP I’ve launched it on Patreon and here is how it is workin. If you are a patron, you get it exclusively for a month and then I post it up on Etsy. The first one about writing horror is available now. AND if you drop it in your cart, leave and check your etsy email there’s a fatass coupon too so you can get a few bits from the shop.

Also I finally finished (behind the medum paywall. Feel free to clap etc, help me buy a coffee) my little thing about how my book Gasoline Heart was born. it isn’t quite what I wanted but works.

I also got interviewed about some witch shit by one of my fave folks MIsha over at Patheos. If you are into witch shit, you should Misha .

I’ve got some some other behind the paywall stuff at Medium. Last month with I think about 24 pieces I made $9.85.

What else?

Yers truly has been writing like a mother fucker and playing with new to me shit.

First new to me, I’m dabbling in some New England Folk Horror without a focus on white folks. Harder than it seems. Here is a bite:

She was always like that to me. Spooky. The same way seeing a single deer alone in the morning is spooky. The way she would stand so still, it was easy to not quite see her. Even her posture in those moments was, strangely graceful. Her back was straight, heels planted on the floor and there would be a moment where her body would tilt forward slightly and her head would tilt upwards as if being pulled on a string.  I always figured it for one of those bodily tics we all have and that, was what I loved about her so much.

I’ve got a major plan with this piece and I’m fucking with established lore like I do. I’m enjoying putting it together.

Next thing.

Yesterday, I also apparently started a werewolf story. I dunno what it wants to be. Aside from maybe kinda porny.

“And you got me chicken? I’ll get a pitcher of beer since you’re being all traditional with the gifts and whatnot. If you sniff my butt I’ll lay you out.”

Unable to resist he gave her his best puppy eyes.

“Maybe later?”

She cackled, mouth wide open her big black eyes twinkling.

“Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash Sue. “

Regardless of the seriousness of the problem he’d sought her out to help, it felt good to have that kind of easy banter with another wolf. Once the chicken arrived Latisha ordered the promised pitcher and they both tucked napkins into their collars and went to work in companionable quiet.

What am I reading?

I happen to be reading two books, very different from each other and both blurbed by one of my fave people, Mr. Jerry Stahl. 

First up I was delighted to get an Arc of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption by Joe Clifford. If you’ve been here a while y’all know I fuckin love me some Joe. It has a new forward and it is really a gorgeous book. I’m almost done with read #2 so y’all will get a full review soon.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Y’all. This mother fucker right here. So I reviewed his other book a while back. AND THEN he had the nerve to release a new book. I’m about a quarter of the way in and y’all…goddamn. Just buy it.

What else is happenin?

I’m trying not to be essaying right now because my brainmeat only wants to do the shit that hurts and I’m just not in the mood to bleed. At least not that kind of blood yanno?

If you are doing Nanowrimo or nano anything. GO GO GO GO.

Whatever you’re up to.

Wreck that shit y’alls!

It is LIT- News and whatnots from yer fave weirdo.

Hi y’alls.

It has been a minute. So let’s do an update about my lil lit life.

First thing gosh.

I read for Margin Shift at Lit Crawl earlier this month. If you’re in Seattle, you really should check out their readings. They do regular ones and they are really great. The curation is amazing. I had a wonderful time and wore a HOT ASS outfit.

Also this month, over at Patreon I launched my new patron benefit. Along with the 3k of words in my urban fantasy project the Daiyuverse, patrons are getting a writing craft lesson. The first one was about horror and here’s a little taste:

Let’s pause here and talk a bit about experimenting with the burnt tongue literary device. What I love about it is you can turn it to be comedic, romantic, scary, or just use it as a way to slow the pacing in your work. How do we test out what effect this has?

Read it out loud. The key for me to using this device successfully is that it gives us that slow down. It is natural when we talk to slow it down when we say a phrase that seems weird. Try it out.

These lessons are serious and not. I am keeping them accessible to folks who don’t know a lot of the formal lit terms and easy to do. This isn’t writing esoterica. I love to teach folks to write stuff, or help them write stuff. I am not promising learning to do a best seller or whatever. Just giving patrons some new tools. Now on the hustle tip, it has cost me money to do this. I waffled about doing it because at this point it costs me about 60$ (lowballed like whoa) in labor and lost patron interest.

That said, I really love how lesson one turned out and I’m really looking forward to lesson two. For lesson two I’ll be talking about how I learned to write personal essays and ways to dig in and figure out what you have to say and ways only you can say it.

So you can get in on that for a BUCK A MONTH. For real. Patreon is doing some changes to prioritize tiered patronage. For those unfamiliar basically a lot of creators use the model that you get different stuff depending on how much you pay. I respect that but, honestly I do want to keep these things as accessible as possible and I want those with a buck a month to get as much as those with $15. Check it out here. Also if you’re not interested but want to lend some support, PLEASE share that shit. If you know folks who like magical Black girls and magic and writing, show them the link.

Next thing. My other hustle Medium. Gosh.

So a while back I broke down how the get paid concept at Medium doesn’t work for me for reasons. Read stuff related to that here.

So I’ve been putting a couple of pieces behind the paywall at Medium here and there. I have a total of 222 pieces and 90% of those are free. I have 11 stories behind the paywall currently and with a few of my new ones, I’ve made 6.75 in the last two months.

Right now, I have a memoirish series about my Witchery going. (That is the free read friend link, I’ll talk about that too). Medium introduced “friend” links which give folks free reads. I use those even though it is counter intuitive. It is meh. I still offer up all the shit to very little engagement, folks don’t share when I ask blabla.

That said, I decided that I’m gonna write the shit anyway and likely nobody will publish it so I might as well give myself the wee chance of turning a little profit. Or enough coins to buy a slurpee and a candy.

I just put up a new essay,(cn for suicide, drug use, grief)  it is one that was commissioned about 6 months ago and that I have been going back and forth with an editor about and ultimately I decided to pull it. The distance between what the editor wanted from me and what I am willing to give was too far for too little compensation. Yes I know it is contradictory that I put it on a platform where I will likely not make even as much money but, it is also still fully under my control and presented authentically.

So really as always, if you like the shit share it. Clap on it. That’s it.

SO if you aren’t subscribed already, you should come subscribe to my newsletter. It is less author news than it is a loveletter from my creative self to yours. No spams and it is free.

I’ve been working through a lot of feelings regarding my failure to become or even get in sniffing distance of being financially sustainable in my art. The upshot is that after processing and dealing with feeling ashamed about this failure and having rage about it and bitterness, I’ve emerged feeling okay.

The bottom line is that as I said, imma do this shit anyway so I might as well do it exactly how I want to.

Fuck it.

And that is also why posting here is so slow. I’m using my resources and spoons differently.

What else?

OH THIS SHIT HAPPENED.

So one of my fave folks, Jen Pastiloff who is a badass loving ass damn person and a fine ass writer took this photo with my lil book. THEN she took this photo with another of my fave writers and humans Lidia Yuknovitch and y’all. They gave my work to some folks posted on teh bookface about it and loved the work and y’all. I fuckin ugly cried on the toilet. It means so much to me when I can say something that folks feel.

I think that’s all for now babes. I will probably be in with some other news next week AND probs some more microprose practice.

SO as always share stuff, clap if you have medium. Support living artists blablabla.

Yeah, Write #390- Death in the Jungle

Death in the Jungle

The corner was busy, always busy.  The same grimy business of survival. Cars passed, girls and not girls on the stroll, bindles and cash got passed. Things are the same forever but, folks’ bodies remember it all. It was business as usual in the jungle.  In the bright of daylight when the shadows hide nothing, shots echo.  

But when they all ducked, nothing was there.

Call Her- Microprose Practice

Call Her-

Microprose practice for Christine.

by Shannon Barber

How to raise them, stand hand in hand, speak and dream together. Sing the scabrous music of the Outer God. Call Nephren-Ka, Goddess of Bloody Tongues.  

Sing children. 

Fm’latgh. 

Burn. 

 Call her- 

Leviathan.

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias- A big ass review.

There is gonna be a LOT to unpack.

TL:dr- This is a great fucking book. If you like supernatural, crime and can handle some Spanish get it. Yes amazon link srry.

LONG VERSION. Some spoilers may happen.

I was given a copy of this book a bit after it came out by a dear friend who had read it and decided I HAD to read it.

Zero Saints starts with the kind of wry, first person humor during what builds to be an ass kicking that I like. The first four pages let us know that we’re in for a wild ass ride. The violence isn’t of the sort that is immediate and all the way in your face, Gabino’s style in this book is intimate, we are in Fernando’s skin (at least I am and we’ll get to that) so in the beginning of this book we know a few things. We know Fernando (not his name yet) is in trouble, big fucking trouble.

When I saw the line about Fernando praying to la Santa Muerta, y’alls….my lil woo self got all fucking excited. Following the mention came the first of much Spanish and I have enough Spanish to have gotten the gist of what was going on and this brings me to my first pointed remark. I have seen some reviews (too goddamn many) that make a point to complain about the amount of Spanish. Like…okay I don’t want to quote Junot Diaz but, the quote about folks willing to read Elvish or whatever and who will bitch about Spanish.

There is a lot of Spanish. Personally, I can read more Spanish than I can speak and I am not at all fluent. That said, when I felt like it really mattered, I looked shit up because like most of us I carry a computer in my pocket and the internet exists.

Anyway.

The action picks up very fast and things get real bloody. While the action is revving up, I really love that there is a low key grace in Gabino’s writing. It is brutal, it does go from 10 to 100 and there is beauty there. We know from jump that Fernando is no super badass, his fear is written in a very real way that gives us a glimpse of a well written and rich character.

Details like how Fernando stops being able to really think with everything happening, really grabbed me. This book is a really great example of why I love first person POV so much. Using this POV in this book gives us skin to skin contact, we get to be intimate with the story and with Fernando and that my friends, is my shit.

I don’t want to spoil stuff plotwise so let’s talk about skill and craft.

First let’s talk why I love how Fernando is written and thus love being so close to his skin. Fernando is written as a kind of mysterious type, we get glimpses of a life he’s lived before. he had problems. He has nightmares, he needs oxies to sleep on the regular but in particular during what’s going on in the book. We get this bloody meaty human which in noir circles can be sparse.

Gabino does a few sly little shifts to second person and I am here for it. What makes these so effective is that, the shift slows the eye. We are dragged into the reality of this situation almost gently and then there’s blood and teeth on the floor. Gabino does an excellent job of balancing Fernando’s horrific situation with glimpses into his tender heart.

He has a crush on a girl, this bit when we meet Yolanda is exquisite:

“How do you tell a woman you like that you’re a fucking coward?”

In the context of the things Fernando has experienced, the glimpses of his past we know he is not a coward and this line, just got me. I love a cis het dude with some self awareness and written with tenderness. Yes, this is a violent as fuck book that has a heart. Like most of the noir I love, our main character is someone I want to slap and hug and then put the fuck to bed.

It takes a firm grasp on one’s masculinity and a deft hand to write cis het men with heart. It just does. Especially in noir, especially when there is also violence. Too often, I think a lot of cis male characters wind up being all balls and no heart and that is boring. If you write cis het dudes, read this book.

Now, let’s talk about the super natural aspects of this book.

His use of diasporic spiritual practices is superb. When we meet Consuelo, that is where things get really deep to me. Again, I don’t want to be too spoilery but I do want to mention that, in researching to do this review, I noticed a lot of folks didn’t comment on the loveliness of the spirtuality and how the supernatural is handled in this book. That bugs me.

The introduction of Ogun changes the tone of the situation in this book. When I first read it, I said Oh Shit out loud. The violence and drug dealing by themselves didn’t quite give me the gravity of bringing in Ogun as part of the action. I think other readers, especially those unfamiliar with Afro/Latinx diasporic religions probably missed out on that. I am pretty sure that my familiarity, bred my excitement in this case.

In chapter 5 and the end of chapter 4, the depth of love Fernando is shown really touched me. Again I don’t wanna be spoilery but, the ritual and the egg, that’s fuckin love y’all. The novenas given to Fernando, the way in the book the prayers are set out in full touched my heart. These moments of love and hope are what balance the brutality of much of the book. I think in a lot of other reviews I read, I was missing the appreciation of as I said above, tenderness.

Ahem.

Before I go much further, let’s kind of ease to the end here because I wanna be super spoilery and I hate that.

The introduction of the Russian was another great touch to me and a perfect example of cross cultural understanding. This is transgressive because there is no push/pull in how Nando and the Russian communicate and come together. That is fucking real.

The thing I love best about this book is that without the tenderness, moments of gentle handling and sadness it would STILL be a good book.

Gabino Iglesias is a bad mother fucker.

WITH the tenderness, love, and tears this is a great book. Like most books I love, this little gorgeous thing is meaty. It is bloody not just in the violent sense but in the sense of it having a pulse, this work has a heart that as you are pulled into Nando’s fucked up life, you feel it in your hands.

And okay y’all, I don’t say this often but this book ended perfectly. Just, y’all it fucked me up in the best way. And like books I love, I want more.

What is greater is that I’m more familiar with Gabino’s work and hustle and I am here for it. This book is on my list of recommendations for actually transgressive work that lives outside of the Great White Western Ideals and does so in shining, haunting, bloody fashion.

Go read it. Read Gabino’s tweeter.