Craft Notes: On voice and tropes.

Okay, first I need y’all to read this and listen to this interview with Idris Elba about playing Stringer Bell. 

Next listen to a couple of minutes of this show from the 90s about horror and in particular the woman who voiced the devil in the Exorcist.

Tuck in, it’s gettin nerdy up in here today.

Now in the Elba interview (goddamn he is just…goddamn) listening to how he talks about how the characters he plays command him, are his new therapists. He says something about the warlord character he plays and he uses the phrase “voice texture”. I heard this interview weeks ago and that phrase has been stuck in my head.

Also, this quote touched me:

“There were so many dark issues explored with my character that I just thought, ‘Can I really pull it across? Can I pull it off?’ ” he said. “I’ve got children. I felt very uncomfortable with being associated with a film that had a character like that. But I realize that my purpose in this world as an artist is to leave an impression.”

If you’ve read a lot of my work you already know I have a thing for the texture of a voice. Whiskey, velvet, promises of sex and death in the tone and timbre of a voice. I am very audibly sensitive to tones, timbre, intent etc in voices and a lot of that fuels my writing. This idea of not only voice in the context of my voice as an author, but voice as in the voice of a character and the feel of that voice is something I love to dig into and play with.

I have mentioned before that I feel like one of my personal abilities *also see things I just love to play with* is making a world or story more intimate. Close. What’s closer than a voice against your skin or ear?

I mention skin because not  everyone can hear a voice in their ear right? We know that but, we know or can imagine what silk feels like, or an emory board.

Another reason I linked these two things are to give you a peek at how other mediums/modes of art inspire me.

I love listening to actors, Foley artists, voice actors etc talk about how they arrive at The Voice or The Sound. There is a certain level of resonance I feel with that. I spend a lot of time in my fiction looking for that moment. The Voice. Sometimes it is literal and I write a few lines and listen to different people speak until The Voice happens or The Sound happens and I’m off to the races.

There are times when this leads to a different POV or at times a whole new story. A lot of this work happens outside of the actual ass in chair part of writing. Often I have one or two lines from any given story I’m working on playing in my head in different tones and voices until it happens.

Currently I’m working on a horror (used loosely) story I’ve been playing with forever. It is a passion story that I originally wrote in a more classic horror possession thing (read the TV tropes thing about demonic possession here) as told by the demon. Then I rewrote it in third person and started over again with a tight first (plural..I’ll explain in a minute) person from the POV of the girl who is possessed.

Now, as I toyed with the passion thing, and how to get a satisfying narrative out of it. I tried researching Judeo Christian demons and coming at it from a this is X demon and this is their, uh.. qualities (?) and telling the story that way. That didn’t satisfy. I toyed with making it some kind of weird auto erotic situation which didn’t pan out.

Ultimately, what I settled on was creating a plural first person POV of Lola and Sam living and using one body with two voices. I spent a lot of time using specifically non gendered language, and using both and We as the central pronouns through the story. This bit is a good example of how I did that:

I panicked and held tight to Sam and we hurled that old bastard off of us, wailing that we would not be torn apart. We waged war for seven days and nights.  We broke one of the priest’s legs, the young one had impure thoughts when we spread our legs and offered him sweet, young virgin pussy.

I worked really hard to go from both the genesis of this relationship with a kind of resolution in under 2k words which has been difficult. I wanted to have very distinct time periods demonstrated by both the evolution of the singular I to the plural I/We and go from Sam and Lola meeting, to being exorcised to living.

I’m in the editing stage and I want to make it a bit more sparingly. I’m working on getting it leaner and more uncomfortable. I want a reader who expects the tragedy of the innocent young girl being possessed and then gaining redemption to be frustrated and made uncomfortable.

Again, this is probably why I have such a hard time in genre markets. But when I write horror, I don’t necessarily want to scare  the reader. I think it’s far more difficult as a writer to create a sense of lasting discomfort. I don’t want the reader to be smiling or feel satisfaction at the end of the story. I want the reader to be kinda mad. Grossed out. Maybe dwelling on something in it that made them uncomfortable.

I really enjoy the idea of taking very literary devices and kneading them into horror.

I want Reign in Blood by Slayer AND I want the Moonlit Sonata.

I want cake AND I want dragon’s breath spicy crispy chicken.

We all know I’m a greedy and promiscuous reader.

Of course, my writing tends to go the same way.

I’ve been writing this while drinking tea and doing stuff for the dayjob.

I think I’m done now.

So there you go, another view into how I function and create. Next time we’ll talk soundtracks and how music gets into my work.

First Lessons of 2016

Oi y’all.

I’m starting out 2016 in the fuckin trenches yo.

I’m learning that writing personally, just about me as a person in any memoirish capacity is just so fucking hard. I am still not used to showing folks my tender belly and I want to scrap it and cry and hide but, that burning in my gut says I’m going the right way.

I’m also very unsure about a lot of things.

I’ve been in such a state for so long that seeing light at the end of the tunnel feels like a lie. I’m angry because I can’t produce the way I used to. I can’t get through my fatigue the way I used to. There have been a lot of nights where I lay in bed in an absolute red rage because I’m awake, but I’m so exhausted I can’t think straight let alone write.

I’m very very angry.

I’m also very ashamed.

I’m disappointed in myself.

And wading through a puddle of shit knee high and feeling like I deserve to be wading through the shit because obviously I suck at everything.

Some of this is my anxiety and insomnia talking. I know that. I recognize that flavor of my own crazy. They chase each other around, getting each other riled up until my hands are shaking and my gut is full of bile and all I want to do is throw myself in a hole and cry for two hundred years. Or die of terror.

This is not a state of being I’m used to. This is not the crazy, I’m familiar with and I feel fairly lost.

My existing crazybrain tells me I should apologize to everyone constantly. Because my exhaustion causes me some memory problems and cognition problems and my bit of dyslexia stands up and joins the party and everything -terrible- in me says, you apologize to that person. If they said something nice to me or have supported me etc.

I try not to but it comes out.

And I’m embarassed.

For the sake of my mental health and my work (note I said mental health first, it took me three tries to do that) I have to sit the fuck down and figure it out.

My approach has been head down and bull through it. Grind my teeth and crave speed because obviously that would solve all my problems right? Get back into that kind of seething constant rage. I’d still be an anxiety riddled insomniac shitbag but at least I’d get stuff done right.

Well judging by my inability to finish SCLAB rewrites, blog posts etc and my struggle doing anything else, that ain’t gonna work.

Instead I will go to the doctor. Hopefully get my hormones checked out because I’m suspicious that part of my current state of being is due to perimenopause (THE FUCKING SWEATING, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL), I have some of my hippy woowoo herbal shit on the way to help me sleep/shit and remain calm.

I suppose this is a confession.

Y’all I’m in deep shit over here.

But I’m shoveling my way out.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom.

I had the distinct honor of working with one of my favorite authors Court Merrigan on some Country Noir for The Big Click Magazine.  So not only is Court a bad ass writer BUT he is a bad ass fuckin editor yo. That little story turned out so much better after working with him. There is something so wonderfully intimate about having someone edit your work who really gets you and trusts you. Go read it. Buy the issue. That story has lesbians, cows, meth and booty shaking.

I’m working with The Stabby again on something I’m really into and is really hard.

So in the big picture of the life of the shit bucket of nerves writer, things aren’t awful. AWP plans are coming together nicely. I have some zine supplies and one of those square things so I’ll have stuff to sell on my person at the thing. I just- yeah.

I’ve mourned my failures. I don’t know if that is a thing you’re supposed to do but I did it. I mourned the hardcore me who could stomp through this level of mental health fuckery.

Now I’m trying to figure it out.

I’m going to work on some fiction.

Take it uh, yeah I dunno.

So things around here might be weird or maudlin or whatever. I’m not sure.

All I know is that I’m listening to my loved ones and not myself this time because my brain is deadass wrong in this instance and that bitch needs to calm down.

I love you all.

That’s it for now.

Stop Picking on White Dudes.

I have been staring at a message that came via the facebooks and it just says:

Stop bullying White men and trying to ruin their careers.

After that scintillating message there were links to some stuff I wrote in 2015 as evidence of my bullying.

Then another account with strangely the same profile photo sent me a message to let me know that not only do people know about my racist misandry, but it is what is keeping me from being a successful author.

They also were kind enough to let me know that my racist misandrist behavior has been noted, NOTED by someone who spent a lot of time googling me and reading stuff I wrote.

Shortly after I read the messages both accounts have been deleted.

While I am terribly flattered. I mean we all know that I have zero desire to write what I’m passionate about, help people, write some beautiful poems what I really want to do is to become the Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature and in my capacity as High Empress,swoop into EVERY home to remove EVERY single piece of literature ever written by a white man from every home.

It is my intention to become all powerful and let the power do what power does.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton


I have to confess. They caught me. It has never been my intention to bring to light the experiences of one Black Woman author to light. Never have I really wanted to talk about and thus be part of banishing the upholding of White supremacy in literary circles, I don’t want to work in an industry that has some awareness of itself, I don’t want to question the gatekeeping-
No, I just want to ruin White men.

I don’t want to educate White Feminists when I talk about racism as it happens in feminism. Nope. I want to use them as part of my nefarious plan to destroy White men.

Rather than expressing my pain and frustration with how the White Broets of the world (and by extension their Nice White Lady counterpart Poets) fuck up my ability to navigate in the world of poetry with their Conceptual Racism.

Y’all caught me.

I confess.

I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life writing, reading, working, sweating, bleeding and driving myself while not making very much money not because I have a passion for the craft.


I want to take your White male writers right out of your hand.

Now I know I’ve talked about being a marginalized person, but I have to tell y’all it was an elaborate ruse.

There is no such thing as privilege and thus I can’t exist as a marginalized person. Feminism is just a cover up for all of us wimmin who can’t attract every Straight White Cis Man we see.

Racism? White men, I apologize.

All this time I’ve been lying.

Racism has absolutely no impact on anyone ever.

It has all just been a part of my plan.

Yes, it has been my sole goal for all these years to ensure that no White Male Writer ever gets anything ever again.

I am so amazed by your insight and bravery in coming forward. I mean, after everything I’ve said about Kenny G. and his ilk, I’m SURE they are ALL in the poorhouse now.

I have so much power in the literary world, I’ve burrowed underground and been hoarding it like some evil Black Lady Dragon.

You got me.

It is because of me that you will not find a single White Cis Dude author on the shelves right now. Why, suddenly the Western Literary Canon is full of brown people, homos and women.

It is why No Man will EVER produce another bestseller, “classic” or anything else.


In my new capacity as Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature, everyone who can read will be forced to burn their books by White Men and read only books by people who are not them.

Forget Fahrenheit 451. This is the mother fucking Literary Apocayplse. This is an extinction event. This is the end of the movie. Game over man Game over.

Face it, my wild social justice warrior agenda has prevailed and now I shall sit back and reap the benefits of what I have sown.

Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature and generally evil indie Black Woman Writer-


2016 Imma eat you.

I had a very nice quiet new year celebration. NYE I made it through my work day and made it home before midnight. Uniballer (my partner) sedated the fuck out of me and fed me. I was so excited I was fighting my sedatives because on Friday we went to go see Star Wars.


No review yet because feelings but I loved it so much. I got teary when Finn came on screen, I got teary when I saw Rey kicking so much ass. I wore my low key Femme Vader Cosplay outfit that I’ve been planning for weeks.


If life were totally fair, I’d probably dress somewhat like this all the time, but yanno snow I don’t drive etc.

Then we went to our favorite buffet for the New Year’s Day eats and holyfuckballs.

What else?

Well, I broke down a little and sat by myself and what’s been going on with me.

I realized that the amount of stress I’ve put on myself about SCLAB, my author newsletter, thinking about launching some other stuff has just not been okay.

I desperately want to do EVERYTHING and do it well. Desperately. To the point I am deeply unkind- no, let’s be honest. I’m fucking myself up. I know full damn well that I can’t write anything good when I can’t be decent to myself. When I add to my own anxiety and panic to the point all I can do is sit at my desk and shake.

I’m having to work really hard on not falling down a self hate filled shame hole because my anxiety has been off the fucking chain lately. I would never treat other people the way I’ve been treating myself and my work.

So I’m working on it.

To deal with some of it I’ve been paper journaling and writing some fiction. I keep having to stop and remind myself that no I am not superman able to leap vomity panic attacks in a single bound.

I don’t totally know how to deal with myself right now.

All that said, while I am trying to take care of myself while I struggle through some mental health shit, things might be weirder and slower than usual.

One thing at a time.

I’ve decided to leave my free chunk of the Daiyu Saga up for a few more days. Go find that here.

2016 I’m gonna eat you like a fucking pie.

I’m gonna be okay. Or at least I’m gonna try.


2015- Girl Bye.


I am ending 2015 in a not great place. I’m deeply, terribly anxious. I am pretty sure this has been fueled by my insomnia and my anxiety fuels my insomnia and I get depressed and I am the Black dog chasing its own tail.


Tomorrow I am going to go see a Star War and will dork out.

As my ride or die most beloved friends have pointed out and as I point out, I have a very bad habit of grinding myself down when I can’t do everything.

I am not going to end my year doing that more than I have been lately.

I won’t let my creative failures dictate how I feel about what I have accomplished because I did a lot this year.

Milcah and I- a couple of poor brown Queers who met on the internet because I had a feeling and went ahead and commented. We put out a fucking book. We have both changed and grown and been through it. We’re doing more.

I met with some of the founders from The Establishment because they wanted to talk to me and work with me. And even though I was so nervous I thought I would shit my pants on the way there, we met and had fun and shared food and ideas and then I wrote this.

Holy shit right?

I wrote a thing back in March and posted it on Medium and as of today it has been viewed 59K times and read 31K. Because I ranted about people talking shit to me about how I like to look. That experience was overwhelming and wonderful. I got messages from middle aged fat ladies who FINALLY wore the magenta tight ho dresses in their closest and glitter and some straight cisdude who wore eyeliner and skinny jeans and crop tops and for the first time in more than ten years a coworker asked me if I was the Shannon Barber who wrote this thing that someone else told them about. That experience has colored what I’m doing next with SCLAB.

I started writing poems again. Better poems. Poems that mean something to me.

That’s not everything but that’s a lot of things.

I spent some time last night during an epic work shift trying to go back and look at what I’ve done. What I accomplished. I had to remind myself that I have had an impact on people. I did readings. I met people who walked up to me and took my hand and said thank you.

I did not make a shitload of money.

My book didn’t become an indie sensation.

And for months I’ve felt like I failed everyone and everything in the world.

2015 has kicked my ass five ways to Sunday, but god damn it, I’m still doing it. I still stand by my decisions, even those that have meant I made less money. Even those that have meant that I have asked for help.

Part of me celebrating shit I’ve done this year I’m offering a free download of my Urban Fantasy novella in progress The Daiyu Saga. Get it here.

Now what am I going to do in 2016?

  • Make SCLAB bigger, better and more.
  • Write a Queen Poems Chapbook.
  • Maybe start up an idea I have.

But first I’m going to take my own goddamn advice. I’m going to deal with this anxiety. I have to say that while I’m going through it, it is really difficult for me to talk to people I don’t already know. So don’t think I don’t see your sweet messages and things. I do, I just can’t.

I’m working on it.

I’m writing.

I’m still fucking here.

So fuck you 2015. I made it.

And fuck you too 2016. Don’t start none, there won’t be none.

I love you all.


Poor Troubled Beasty


Distressed writer at work.

I’ve had a month full of bullshit things happen.

There has been a fall, a lot of anxiety, some depression, I dropped my phone and it’s not really working very well and the screen is fucked. I broke a pair of beloved shoes. The zipper on my only winter coat broke. The laptop cart/desk thing I bought is in fact a piece of shit and the Dude is going to have to McGuyver it to make it work decently/comfortably. My body is suffering a long bout of broken REM sleep insomnia that is making me shake and hurt and I have difficulty doing anything some days.

I’ve failed to get into a position to release the next version of SCLAB on time.

Everything feels pretty fucked.

It’s been a weird time.

The biggest problem has been my inability to let myself do what I know how to do.

I suspect this happens to other writers. My current struggle is pretty all in, physical, emotional etc. I just am not pleased with myself (no actually I’m fucking pissed to be honest) and I doubt my ability to put out another book the way I’m supposed to and produce the print stuff and write my SCLAB blog posts, and my author newsletter and maybe try to get published or write some fiction.

So what do I do?

I sit at my shitty little desk at 2 AM writing. Still trying to catch up from my data losses. Trying not to stress vomit on anything and still feeling deeply disappointed with myself.

The next thing to do is probably scale back. I need to figure out what I can actually do versus what I think I should be doing.

To be honest, I’m pretty stuck on what I think I should be able to do which is fucking everything.

I don’t know.

I’m working on it. Trying not to hate fuck my brain with my own bullshit.

Now it’s not all doom and gloom.

For a bit of good news, head over here and check out a big ole tasty chunk of my urban fantasy novella in progress that I’ve been sharing with folks who support me on Patreon. This is something I’ve been told is a terrible mistake but fuck it. Go to the link download it, read it, enjoy it.

I’m ashamed of a lot of shit, but not of how my work progresses and this little adventure is a natural extension of that. I used to fantasize about reading a first draft, then the next draft and then the final thing to watch how it happens. I was always curious about what is picked to be left in, what’s taken out. How things wander.

What else is coming?

I have no idea.

But here’s to 2016 being better.


I will probably wrap up my Yeah, Write series and tuck those away. I have a bigger idea for it that I will probably start getting out after AWP.

Yeah Write entry#245- Lost Innocent

Lost Innocent


Shannon Barber

I was an Innocent.

For most of my life I did what Innocents do. When the darkness was too deep I looked away. I obeyed the frisson of fear, itching inside my tailbone. Like all Innocents my bones, knew The World and instinct kept me away.

Maybe it was depression or lethal curiosity that compelled me to open my eyes wide and see the door open. The Doorman had a smile as wide as a Cheshire cat and a manner so charming- no it wasn’t his fault. I walked through the door without a light or talisman or fucking clue.

The World opened to me and I thought I was special. The One, magical and chosen.

I wasn’t.

The World is dark, even during the paltry daytime. The air is thick and grimy, you can feel magic born of blood and terror crawl on your skin. The World is not the place of dreams and magical adventures where I got to be so special. It is the darkest of nightmares, the dark that reveals things to you in maddening wafting shadows and plays of dimness.

Sometimes while I’m cowering in some cave or ditch full of lukewarm water and moving things, if this is the warmer hearted sister of Tartarus or a hell of my own making.

My first night here I ran from some wordless creatures that I knew on sight wanted my pain and not my death. Artful sadists with vaguely human forms, not human enough for comfort and too human to not to be horrifying.

I was an Innocent.

I have learned what it is to be prey. I have returned to the primitive and primal. I have reconnected with my own innate animal nature.

All I want is to be an Innocent again.

The World is not for me.

The World….

                        is not for me.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,690 other followers

%d bloggers like this: