Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review

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

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

Ahem.

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

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

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

Y’all been warned.

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

Yeah Write #261- Starveling

Starveling

By

Shannon Barber

As the bass drops she walks out on stage unsmiling. Her gaze floats as she sweeps her long braids off one elegant brown shoulder. She spots her mark easily, a mousy White boy looking at her bouncing breasts with lust heavy cow eyes. She undulates like a snake to the slow, heavy beat, watching him lick his lips as her breasts drop heavy and full from her loosened bikini top.

She gives him a sly look while the DJ does his thing. Money appears as she turns her back and bends over. The mark offers his meager cash shyly, she crawls to him. Her mouth is glossy carmine invitation, her big black eyes full of promises and the certainty that he is the one.

It works. It always works. As her number ends she watches him skitter to the ATM as she gathers her cash.

She’ll make him wait while she freshens up.

“Lia? Girl there is some White dude out here with his rent waiting on you.”

She blows the house mother a kiss and waits another two minutes.

Of course she’s right, he’s waiting with a fist full of cash. He follows like a puppy when she turns to walk into the dim confines of VIP. She watches his Adam’s apple Bob as he swallows hard.

“So, uh, what’s your real name?”

She smiles and drops her silky chemise on his head.

“Shhh “

She moves against him, letting the ring in her left nipple flicker against his lips. He sighs long and from deep inside, his lips drop open in wait of succor.

Two songs and she’s naked. Glorious and dark in the low light, his fingers telegraph desire as the tap and clutch his thighs. When she takes the last of his cash and lets him rest his flushed face on her belly for a moment, she knows.

“Meet me out back in ten minutes. I’ll be done for the night.”

She disappears again, smiling. Making rent is nothing but eating, yes, eating is always the real reward. Eating is why she left The World. She is no Sidus or other beast gibbering in the darkness. She is different. She is always so hungry.

She learned to drape herself in the sweet flesh that draws her prey. She finds the bars and strip clubs and other dark corners where a man gone missing from the ragged edges of polite society is no worry of the world. It is merely a function of the darkness the world denies.

Twenty minutes later she finds him waiting, trembling and full of the idea that he has at last found the one.

“My name is the thousand names for pain and you will learn them all. I am your death, come love me.”

She waits as he decides and his body leans into her.

As they walk away, she murmurs her thanks to the world and the darkness it denies. Tonight she will eat. She will eat.

###

PS,

I’ve missed y’all and The World. If you’re curious the song that inspired this is this Massive Attack cover by Sepultura.

Back on That grind- Back from lala land.

I’m all back from AWP and you can read part one of my series about it here at medium AND over there see video of my full reading from Unchaste.

I’m back at work and back at figuring out what’s next for my writing.

The first thing I got done when I got back was my budget.

Things I absolutely must budget to get done/get:

  • Payback a few lingering AWP expenses
  • A new chair to work in at home. The one I have I can only use it for about 15 minutes at a time before I have back spasms or it comes apart.
  • Fully restock household health stuff.

What else needs to happen?

  • Talk to a dear friend so I can unfuck my chapbook design/layout and get it printed up and signed and in my etsy store.
  • I need to clean up some good vintage Doc martens and other goth shits that don’t fit me anymore to sell.
  • Get together some new stuff to shop around for freelancing.
  • Buckle down on SCLAB stuff.
  • Buckle down on other new sooper seekrit project.

So y’all see that for the next couple of months I really need to up that side hustle cash so I can produce more other stuff. My love stuff.

Now that I’m pretty much used to being back on Mon-Fri at the day job I think I might shoot for one day a week, maybe a Saturday (if I can) to work out of the house. That might take a while because I’m trying to keep some big anxiety down to a dull roar.

Also, my financial situation has taken another downturn. Unfortunately how often I get paid from my dayjob has changed and that working with my rent increase has been really hard. Like super fucking stressful and trying to deal with it has been a challenge.

Sometimes when you’re poor it feels like once you get into the groove of some things, shit just gets yanked out from under you. I’ve felt a deep discomfort my whole life in terms of economic security and now that I’m trying to throw a fucking art in the mix, shit is just hard.

I have to fight myself to not fall into a shame hole that most of my writing doesn’t contribute financially. Or that my crocheting hobby and subsequent yarn stash doesn’t yield extra cash.

I’ve been battling those particular demons really hard. I find myself questioning whether or not I really should have my little coffee ritual at my dayjob.

Whether or not I really needed to buy that beautiful grey paper to print my zines on.

Should I try pitching places I don’t feel good about because they pay?

The shit I’ve done before and KNOW goddamn well isn’t good for me, but I am back in economic trauma feelings and while I’m not drowning, I’m not doing too well. I know that trying to take on something that is equivalent to a part time job as in a freelancing gig will not go well for me so I’m trying not to do that. So yeah. Some shit is going on.

I wasn’t going to mention all that, but I was serious about keeping it 100.

Sooooooooooooooooooo…long story long- I’m changing my grind and trying to up my hustle while being kind of healthy, letting myself sleep and maybe write shit that just brings me joy.

And goddamn it is hard y’all. It’s really fucking hard. This is the artist life and it kind of isn’t awesome.

 

Daydreaming Writer.

Before I get dreamy I am very proud to announce my second ever essay I’ve written about my gender identities. I’m very happy that The Establishment gave me the time and space to write this piece and the time to be scared about it prior to publication. Read that here.

I will talk more about that later on.

So let’s talk about the stuff I daydream about shall we?

When I was a baby writer my daydreams looked like this.

I would travel. I would fuck everyone all the time. I would write, mail things to some patient patron who would then get the publishing together. I’d get drunk in Tunisia and pose nude in Paris, they’d send me a check.

Rinse, repeat, greatness.

I wouldn’t be rich with cash. I’d be rich in lovers, words, experiences and je ne sais quoi. Right?

As a teenager, I imagined myself as a big titty Henry Miller type writing filthy degenerate love letters and having some 30 year affair that people would write about for years to come.

Some lover or other of mine would of course be an artist and would get famous after painting me nude like a Matisse or would photograph me like Frida Kahlo and those would be part of my artistic legacy.

I also dreamed of being somewhat mysterious and reclusive. Maybe seen wading bucky naked in a river, but refusing a lot of press. I’d foment rumours and lies about myself for fun.

Y’all can tell what I was reading at that age.

Fast forward 20 years and while theoretically that dream is one I could hold on to, now my dreams are different.

My artistic daydreams involve things like, what if I could go to one of those writer colony things? What if I could actually afford that without it fucking up my life? What would I even do with 2-6 weeks of time devoted to my art. No commute, no 12 hour work days, just me and my brain and my laptop Petunia.

I’ve thought about it. Friends have sent me some I think I would qualify for. But, per usual my thoughts turn to my actual life. I couldn’t get 2 straight weeks off for AWP/recovery from AWP. Instead of a colony or residency, I wonder if I could get away to a Motel 6 within a 20$ cab ride from my house for a day and night?

I dream of figuring out how to have one day a week for my art. Not house cleaning, grocery/household shopping, working, recovering from the week (at present my health dictates that 1 of my 2 days off a week to be spent mainly in recovery mode) without leaving my partner in the lurch or cutting up our not as much as would be great quality time together?

What else?

I dream about getting an essay into some Big Fancy Ass Publications.

I dream about my work, reaching people who need to hear a voice like mine for whatever reason.

I dream of writing ALL my passion project things while listening to one of my epic playlists in a carefree manner.

I dream of sometimes talking to baby writers.

Maybe a little non academic teaching.

Workshop leading that exists within the framework of stuff I believe about art?

I dream about having the time and energy to get back into photography and taking bus accessible day trips with the Uniballer so we can do that together.

I don’t need that life of leisure and artistic fuckery that I imagined as a kid.

Sometimes I get sad about the artistic life, not lived. The missed events and workshops and colonies and things. Sometimes I get angry and sad. I’ve cried about it. That’s okay.

I let it roll through me. I can’t dwell on the life not lived for too long. I have to go to work, I have to write, I have to get shit done.

Okay I’m going to chill out at the dayjob. Work on some poetry and be that shit.

How it’s going down at AWP

SO okay AWP is next week and here is how it’s going down.

I’m not sure what I’m doing with my hair, I might flat iron it this weekend or just blow dry it and give some fluffy realness.

I will be riding with my REAL FAMILY. If you find me you’ll probably get to meet my Uniballer (my partner), my Wifey (my bestie) and her Husbear.

I’m still slightly undecided about what panels I’m going to but I’ll figure it out.

Now if any of y’all are going and you spot me please feel free to come say hi. I’m fairly sweaty and weird in person and might stare at you bug eyed for a minute but I’ll be fine. Also if you wanna selfie, we shall selfie.

If you want to find me, I’ll be tweeting usually with the hashtag AWP16 or AWP2016.

I’ll be hustling this beauty out of my purse. If you buy one I might even read you something out of it, right out where ever we’re at.

mfesta
The title page of my chapbook/zine titled: The Motherfuckess Manifesta and Other Poems. They are 5$. Hand signed and numbered.

If you’re in or around LA and not coming to AWP, come party and hear me read with some of the most bad ass women writers. Check out the event here.

Let me take a moment to express my love for the Unchaste reading series. Jenny the creator is one of my ride or die type people. If you are in or around Portland, OR, please I encourage you to check out the Unchaste events. Search FB, get on that. Unchaste readings are always amazing and Jenny goes out of her way to curate an actually inclusive line up of readers. So for real, go do the thing.

What else?

I don’t think we’ll have time to do a whole lot of outside AWP things. Due to some vacation time off stuff it is pretty much a hit it and quit it type thing.

Hopefully there will be some video snippets,some action shots. Selfies with other writers. I’m going to try really hard this time not to freak the whole fuck out. I’m ready. I have stuff to sell and know that I belong there as much as any other writer.

I’ll probably schedule some posts and then when I get back I’ll do a big wrap up.

That’s it for today babies.

 

Bad Advice for Writers and Artists.

I wrote over on Medium about the eh, non edible nature of the promise of exposure as payment for work. See that here.

Over the years I have been given a metric ton of awful advice. Some of it has come from a really kind, loving place, people who want me to live the artist’s life.  Some of that advice as loving as it has been to put it kindly tone deaf and as if people don’t know me at all. Or it has come from a loving place full of shiny privileges.

If you’ve been here for a minute you know I’m not the one for that.

So let’s talk about bad advice.

Actually first I want to show you a couple of things. This article about how some very popular positive thinking adages can turn into gaslighting. Read it.

Next I want you to read this by one of my favorite writers Daniel José Older. This is my favorite part:

Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation.  I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life.

My dearest homies. I used to be one of those self-flagellation writers. I really believed that my perceived failures were because I had “excuses” about not writing. Never mind being half homeless, hungry and desperate. Never mind my jobs and hustling. Never mind all of it. The Pantheon of The Most Successful of Us say you write every day. No matter what, otherwise, it’s your own fault if you’re not having the success they have.

I’ve said it before and will always say it. Suffering or hunger or poverty or stress etc don’t always make for the best work.

So no you don’t have to write every day on a work schedule. This is the type of advice that while well meaning ignores things that matter to a lot of us. Jobs we work 12 hours a day, kids we need to care for, school etc. Thing is, these are not “excuses” in that shame inducing sense that you are not trying hard enough or are just being lazy.

So yes, I consider the whole worship of daily writing as being the One Twoo Way to be bullshit.

And frankly if you are gaslighting the fuck out of yourself how can you produce your best most wonderful work?

That said, write as much as you can.

We here at Be That Shit University believe that it counts.

Did you do work on your novel?

Fuck yeah.

Did you write a shittastic poem?

Fuck YEAH.

Did you write a blog post?

FUCK TO THE YEAH!

I am not a believer in fetishizing the process. Finding the perfect chair and the perfect 2 hours of silence or music.

It is a huge privilege to be able to have your ritual and have it be the all of your process.

A lot of us just do not have the time for that.

We don’t have the energy.

We have bills to pay and children to raise and spouses to love and selves to care for.

How about some good advice?

  • Don’t ever stop learning about your craft. Comedy, writing, editing, painting whatever it is. The beautiful thing is that if you can read this, you can googlefy some shit and learn something new any damn time you want to. The gatekeepers of knowledge about your art are not as strong as they used to be.
  • Read promiscuously. Let everything you read leave a mark. If you are a writer especially, you must be a reader. Read outside of your own experience. Read POC, read Queer folks, read YA, just read. If you don’t have time or energy for full books, read blogs.
  • Write that shit. If you have to write on a notepad doc on your phone (AHEM ME), if you need to write with pen and paper, if you need to write a listicle about why Shannon gives such fucked up advice, get it.

The thing is, the proverbial Artist’s life is not for all of us. It would be awesome it it was. It is a life I think I’d like to lead if it were possible without being homeless and starving because neither of those things is fun to me.

Also if you are an advice giver, understand where you’re flinging your advice.

Don’t tell a poor author (like me, this is what spurred this entry) that if I’d just go to more events (that cost me money and don’t pay), took the exposure (that also doesn’t pay or feed me), take more classes from other writers (that costs me money) etc and then be surprised when we don’t react well.

At this point my reaction is always, how much are you paying me, are you paying the equivalent to my wages from my dayjob if I have to try to leave early, are you going to also help me take time off to recover? Paying for transportation? Kicking in so I am able to eat lunch all week?

This is also brought to you by the fact that I would like to create some downloadable writing courses that are inexepensive, accessible to folks, and not just for writers trying to get published. Something low cost enough to be open to most people.

So yeah.

That is the sorta content I’m working on figuring out HOW to make that shit happen.

Now my darling loverfaces.

My official AWP author appearances thing will be going up tomorrow. And I’ll make sure if you’re gonna be around you know how to find me so we can selfie and I can maybe be your literary pusherman.

 

Haterade. Some thoughts.

I just read an article over on Medium called The Cult of CruelIt put me in mind of some of the things people who hate my writing have told me over the years.

Among those who are presumably (as they self identify in comments/messages)  White men the complaints are always somewhat the same (most of these are essentially verbatim):

  • I’m a big racist cunt.
  • I’m a fat bitch.
  • My writing is technically unsound.
  • My writing is too “loud”
  • All I know how to write about is being Black.

Other folks who hate my work and have hated it from when I fatty blogged to everything else. Some tidbits from their feedback:

  • I give terrible advice.
  • My writing style sucks.
  • I use a language I don’t understand.
  • Sometimes I code switch a lot.
  • I’m boring.
  • Repetitive.
  • Shannon just sucks.

Once upon a time I took a lot of this to heart. When I was blogging there was a period of time where I tried really hard to sound more professional. I tried not code switching, I tried to cite only scientific studies and shit. For a while I thought that I had to change these things because critique in whatever form is always valid.

Here’s what I learned and what helped set me free as an author.

In my regular walking around life a lot of people don’t like me. Some because I have a piece of metal in my face, because sometimes I laugh really loud- lots of reasons. For a long time I’ve just accepted that as a thing. My philosophy in my walking around life is as follows:

If I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with, I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with.

Shannon Barber

As a kid I experienced a few years of intense bullying, other heartbreaks and surviving my own depression and whatnot. At heart, I am a deeply sensitive person and for a long time every “criticism” told me how I could improve as a human being.

When I was around 21 I was hanging out with a friend helping him get some drag make up looks together and I remember mentioning that a person we both knew called me a dumb cunt not in a friend type of way and how hurt I was. I cried because I was very nice to this person, never rude or mean and he just hated me.

My friend looked at me and after fussing at me for crying my lashes off said some magic words,

“Who the fuck is that bitch?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. Who was that bitch?

……….

Nobody.

Fast forward to me having opinions on the internet. Given the vile things that folks have said to my face in meatspace, just about everything folks say to/about me online kinda doesn’t make it into my airspace.

Last year my friend Dena wrote this piece at The Rumpus about death threats. She and I were texting about it and I was laughing. The thing is, if I took these things to heart every time, I’d have no time to write.

Every time I’ve had a DM or email telling me I’m gonna get doxxed, raped, murdered etc I’ve had to take time out of my day to figure out what the real threat level is.

When it comes to anything less than threats of physical violence or rape, I kinda don’t care.

When I was writing at XoJane and was told I was being hate read, and watched some of these hate readers realize they ALSO hated my blog previously and then smugly talk about how much I suck, yeah it hurt my feelings. Yes i took some time to try to digest some of what was said to see if I was in fact dead ass wrong.

I went and read the forum thread where I was mentioned a good amount and had a realization that, well fuck I’m just not for these people.

The most sage writing advice I was given once upon a time was that my work in particular is just not for everyone.

When I’m told that I’m being hate read I have learned to not try and engage. When I was writing for XoJane I did ask a few people in earnest what the problem was but didn’t really get solid answers. I also learned that poking a little bit of fun at these folks is a nono.

The biggest lesson I learned is this.

Hate me, my work, my face, my fat ass all you want to. That’s perfectly fine. I know that I am not the flavor for everyone and not everyone is my flavor.

If you’re clicking the stuff I get published to hate read, thanks brosef. I still get paid even if it is a measly 50$ (there I go poking fun again, but seriously, I was told it is laughable to be getting a measly 50$ for an article…LOL) I still get paid.

Next thing, being told I suck probably won’t ever stop me from saying things.

A big one I had to learn is that people hating every word I type doesn’t usually end up in me getting fired from a thing. That was a hard one to really take in. At Xojane after the first go round, I thought I’d be asked not to contribute again because obviously, that was not my audience. I wasn’t asked to stop. I found an audience there in spite of the bullshit.

Here’s the thing.

In the context of the whole world, there are a shitload of people who will never like, approve of or generally give a fuck about me or you.

That being what it is, we don’t have to write to change their minds. You can’t, really. It’s like when someone says to you while you’re walking down the street, “I hate your ugly fucking shoes.” Well, you’re wearing the shoes and walking and that person is not offering to buy you new shoes so you keep stepping right?

Haterade is not really your problem.

If your name is ALL over the place because your thing, whatever your thing is, is going well for you, your haters are just gonna have to put on their big person panties and hardhat and survive.

The next thing is, sometimes Haterade means you are doing exactly what you need to do. You are making some segment of people uncomfortable and it’s unfortunate that they are lashing out at you, but maybe you’re making that bit of difference.

Lastly, I know we all sometimes hate read. The difference between those of us who do sometimes and those of us who take it to asshole levels is that we leave it alone.

Here’s the thing. Hate something you encounter, but don’t follow that person around trying to get them fired, trying to take food out of their mouths etc.

Now, naturally I know there are times when the above is the right action. I believe you know how to use your own discretion.

If things get to trolling or you feel endangered take action. Otherwise, leave them haters alone. They are doing what they do and you can’t fix it or them.

Tomorrow I’m gonna talk AWP and where and how to find me if you’re so inclined.