Talk Nerdy to me- The Origin of the Ghost story Gina Goes Home

Okay buckle up it is fixin to get nerdy af up in this piece today.

Today we’re gonna go all the way the fuck in about a story I wrote last year. Okay you can go read it first or just follow along in another tab, find the chonky baby here.

The Inspiration

I love a good ghost story. I love ghost stories inside of religious mythos, campire yarns. Music, movies, stories I love ghosties. I also love watching paranormal investigation shows. Ghost Hunters, I frickin LOVE Zak Bagins. I watch amateurs on youtube. Love it. That was the initial inspiration.

The other inspo was this. There are theories (no I’m not gonna argue with you if you believe in it or not so don’t) that if you are being haunted, ask the dead what they want. I’ve seen it in movies, referenced in American Gods when Shadow’s dead wife visits and Wednesday asks him if he asked her what she wanted.

The Story

The first thing that this story said to me was, the dead want something. They want someone. They want Gina. I felt like I wanted to tell a story of a modern haunt. Not a historic type thing like a Gray Lady, or even a haunting that would be on an Overlook hotel level.

I really wanted to start small. I call it quaint in the story. I was imagining the kind of hotel you drive by on a roadtrip through the country, not fancy, probably a little shabby but charming. I also wanted to give the reader a clear idea that shit was about to get fucked up.

We get there by the second paragraph, I wasn’t going for subtle. That said, it isn’t the scariest thing, it is if you’re a skeptic you could say that meh, not that bad. See below:

The quaintness of the resident ghosts lasted until 2015. The first report, in the form of a middle-aged shrieking man in basketball shorts and little else came hauling his half naked self-down four flights of stairs. “There, help, please-” Mariah at the front desk had experienced a jumpy guest or two, she had a spare robe behind the desk for such occasions and offered to the gentleman while assuring him she’d check out his room.

This sort of thing happens a lot in hotels. Folks will act up in all sorts of ways and I didn’t want to come right out the gate with the BOO GHOST!

In the next paragraph we have the first instance of what the dead want. If you’ve read me a lot, you know I like to play with repetition for varying effects and in this case, I want the reader to not only hear what the dead want but, at some point it does get unsettling. Who is Gina? Where is Gina? How do we get Gina? What do they want with Gina?

One of the other things I did in this story was get into the body. Horror gives us such a great opportunity to really do things that are not unsettling because they are traditionally creepy but, I think a lot of us have bodily responses to things and sometimes our bodies will duplicate what we’re reading or seeing in sympathy. Looky here:

The sexless whisper was clear as day and came from the still air. She felt no chill, no movement, no sense of another person in the room. Fear gripped her sacrum in cold, hard fingers. Her anus contracted, her whole body tingled, and turned to stone. It took all of her will to take a breath and turn her head to the right. She forced her eyes wide open and saw nothing. She scooted out of the room and stood in the hallway, “oh shit.”

This paragraph is where I get creepy. I didn’t necessarily want to use common ghost tropes to begin with, cold spots, woowoo chain rattling etc. But the body. Those are always my favorite responses when I watch my paranormal shows and I am fascinated with how our bodies do stuff. When your butthole clenches up because oh fuck what the fuck was that. I really LOVE getting into the body. Real talk, I feel like the best way to learn this technique is to write some real nasty erotica. I’m talking super explicit in order to expand your thinking as to how bodies work and can work.

We’ll talk more about that at another time.

Through the next bits I hit on some common ghost/haunting stuff I hear in my shows. Construction riles up ghosts. I was really thinking of something a friend told me about the hotel he’d been working in. They were refurbishing it and the ghosts went buck fuckin wild and caused at least three of housekeeping to straight up fled mid shift.

As we get into some more of the action, I leave little breadcrumbs that these are not white people. That is important to me and interestingly enough, I did have one white reader be not really here for it because the framing of how these non white folks deal with it, is not what we’re presented with in the paranormal stuff I like.

It starts with this:

“Well ma’am, there are unhappy spirits asking for Gina. We’ve done everything, the ofrenda is fresh, the sills and doorways have been protected. Evelyn even brought her Grandfather around to say a blessing.”

This is not for white readers to be honest. This is a headnod to other POC from me. We have an ofrenda, if that’s too much Spanish google it. Also FYI I do not EVER italicize other languages. Fight me don’t @ me.

SHIT I am long winded as fuck. Anyway moving along.

To speed things along, I added some bro type ghost hunters who wanted to provoke and then, I decided to get into the entities. I wanted to explore the maybe was once human but is not totally not type ghosty, along with some lesser ghosties and create a community so they could have a goal. To get Gina.

As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day and the leader of the ghost hunting group was right about one thing. There was something bad. Someone bad, the other dead called him Boss. While the crew gathered themselves, the dead congregated in the basement. While the camera in the corner rolled, the air roiled with orbs and zigzagging streaks of energy.

“Boss? Boss make them get Gina. Bring Gina home.” Some of the hobgoblins grouped together to whisper, “Gina. Where is Gina?” The chorus of Gina and where is Gina and bring her home wavered through the air. “Boss tell them. Tell them.” Something that resided in the crawl space let their high, thin wail out and spoke for them all, “we want Gina. Gina must come home.”

Now, to me it is a bit more frightening to have the ghosties decide to gang up. Then I went into some classic haunting stuff, the cold air, the more traditional type haunt we get to see on the shows.

In order not to totally spoil the rest cause I want you to read it. I really went in on the idea of after the investigators came, how the situation gets solved and as usual, I wrote a not entirely satisfying ending. it ends but I don’t tell you everything that happened because I’m an asshole. I don’t explain who Gina really is, why they want her or anything.

So the overall lesson is this. Try some shit out. I’ve never written a ghost story like this before and I quite enjoyed doing it. Below find some relevant links.

Zak Bagans Demon House lost footage.

Ofrenda altars, also to give an in the know reader a sense of the time of year.

DASSIT. Happy Women in Horror Month!

2019 You Raggedy Motha Fucka.

I am real done with 2019. I made an ever growing playlist I’ve titled 2019 Girl. BYE. Hit shuffle and come climb in my brain.

SO 2020. What is gonna happen?

……….well. Okay I’m so sorry I don’t have a huge special announcement.

I honestly have no clue what is going to happen. For the first time in a while, there is no literary hustle.  None. I have no plans. I have no super secret book plan. I have ideas of course, like we all always got a fuckin idea but, I’m not putting the pressure on to try and write the thing that will bust me into some low level of the mainstream.

Can we have a lil real talk? I had one too many flirtations with said mainstream. One (or fucking a good dozen) too many situations where, my ideas and concepts were SUPER tempting for magazines and publishers but as a person, and the person doing those things was not.

I was let down, defeated and hurt.

That said, all of that and folks straight up plagiarizing me and and and..and my dry pockets took me to a place where I was sad enough to consider just, not doing any of this shit. I needed that. I needed to a.) realize if I wasn’t making any forward progress whatever I decided to do was kind of a moot point and b.) I needed to cry it the fuck out and be mad and get through it.

The way out is through.

NOW.

After a lot of upset and shit going down I realized the most important things:

  1. I am who the fuck I am. A lot of people, A LOT OF PEOPLE hate everything about me. They hate my fiction, they hate my essays, they hate my blog posts, they hate my fuckin face. And that’s fine. I side with Katt Williams on this, they doin they fuckin jobs.
  2. #1 being what it is, why should I break myself down in order to please people who are on a real tip, NEVER going to fucks with me on that level. Even people who know me/are in my community. A lot of people are not checking for me and that’s okay too. It is frustrating because I want to do so much but, it is fine.
  3. MOST IMPORTANT. I’m gonna do what the fuck I want to do.

……………….

So that is the energy I’m taking into 2020.

I will write what the fuck I want. Some of it might be published some not. That’s fine. I’m not going to keep up that lil flame of hope for the mainstream to notice me. I’m tired of that.

Will I write a book? Maybe.

I dunno.

The small plan I have is to get a new smaller computer. I gave the 15″ HP I got last year to my partner for Christmas. I can’t use that machine and yeah.

What else?

I’m doing my loveletters again.

But mostly I am writing like a mother fucker who fears no fucking publishing house.

Basically, I am no longer holding myself to requirements I didn’t make up you know? Honestly, the prescribed path to writer/creative success is not mine. Trying to walk in other folks shoes hurt me so bad. I’m not taking that into 2020.

Dassit babes.

Happy New Year. Please be safe. Use rideshares, don’t drink and drive and let us walk into 2020, like the bad mother fuckers we are.

 

What A Frickin Year bro.

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

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

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

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

III

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

Read it here at Queen Mobs Teahouse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freelancing=not my lane.

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

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

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

So there tis homies.

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

Love,

Shannon

 

Updates And Stuff To Read

Hello darlings.

Your problematic fave has some news and stuff to read.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all my loves.

OH OH wait..hold up.

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

Works in Progress and Whatnots.

State of the writer.

I’m drinking a pour over made with Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw coffee. Normally I drink their 454 but this blend is amazing. I added a wee bit of dark brown sugar and it really brought out the chocolatey flavor of this coffee. A fuckin plus.

What else is happening?

Well babes I’m still kind of really struggling trying to figure out how to write at home without a shitload of pain and not having to buy a desk because I don’t have the space. It is super frustrating. My body just cannot take not having some way to sit properly and work. Bummer.

But what’s good tho?

I am doing some new horror that I’m creating from my existing The World mythos. I’ve been wanting to play around and expand it. Also, y’all this is where I’m gonna plug Yeah, Write. I have talked a lot about playing and Yeah, Write is a great way to do that.

What else?

I’m not sure to be honest. My fiction writing is super damn slow for no reason and I’ve been writing essays that hurt my feelings. Like can I fucking not do that?

Also I’ve been poking at the self care book reboot and I feel some type of way about it. I dunno. On one hand, yes a good number of folks have said they want it but I am also too acutely aware of the toll writing it takes on me and given my recent performance in the sales dept, I don’t know if I can afford it.

I have reached the point with my Kindle singles experiment (I also had offered the work outside of amazon) where I’ll leave stuff there but that is also not really a viable method of both getting a little coin for my work and putting it out. Even with advertising designed by someone who is not me, nah.

So I’ve decided that there is not that much of a market for my work. That is fine. I won’t be dedicated myself to trying to make fetch happen. I’m still writing of course. I will submit to places when asked or if I see a juicy call but, yeah. I dunno y’all.

I will continue with Patreon. I average a bit over $200 a month and given that 90% of my audience in general doesn’t see value in purchasing my work, this is a huge deal. In the great big universe of Patreon that is bullshit ass money but, considering my track record with cash and my work it is pretty fuckin amazin.

So yeah. If I get a bug up my butt I might put out new medium content or Kofi or whatever. I might put more stuff on kindle. I’m not pressed about it. None of these things are remotely lucrative enough for me to put in more than a half hour a month at most. 10$ a month at the height (in June) of my side hustles just…nah.

Through this process I’ve been able to cement some things about myself as a writer.

  1. I am not great at on spec work.
  2. Sometimes I do what people who buy books want but, I am not the person they want the thing from.
  3. The writing I can sell, often hurts the most to write and I can’t do it full time.
  4. I’m not super attached to the financials at this point beyond working myself into a deficit of both coins and spoons.

I’m in a fairly peaceful place about this. Yes, I still get kinda really fucking mad when I see concepts I’ve written about extensively get picked up for $$$ when people who aren’t me write them (occasionally close enough to be plagiarism but whatevs) and I still am kinda sad that folks are just not that into me but I’ll live.

Thing is, I’ll be writing whatever bullshit anyway. I know myself. I’ve just really removed the pressure of making it sustainable for myself. Not happening. So yeah.

Stuff will happen. Things will be made to read. Dassit.

Note from Management.

Hello folks.

I just re entered the world after a little staycation. I was struggling after being sick and stressed out for weeks. SO we got a little bidness.

First up. Y’all know I’ve now got a writer biz fb page. And Houston we got a problem. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten an absolute FLOOD of requests for things. Manuscript consult, writing advice, submission advice, promotion requests, requests for me to buy and read stuff.

The problem isn’t that folks ask. It is that all of those requests come from folks who don’t follow or like the page and are similarly demanding in tone. I’ve responded to some but for the most part, I don’t answer and wind up getting more messages from folks. LOOK y’all. I am not a writing stuff vending machine.

I am not really famous so I understand somebody might be taken aback that I have the audacity to charge for services. Consulting on manuscripts regardless of size is work. And it is disrespectful to assume I will do it for free just for shits n giggles. If we don’t know each other and there’s no trade or SOMETHING going on, why would you do this?

Look y’all, I know you are not actually into me or my work if you aren’t aware that I probably don’t have the spoons to edit, sensitivity read and critique a full goddamn novel for free. So look I may close messaging on the page down I dunno.

Next thing that is also kinda struggle related. I’m having trouble working at home. With my back being the way it is, I haven’t found a comfortable way to work and I’m frustrated. Our place is so small I don’t have a desk anymore and working in bed has caused me too much pain. However, we traded for a little (OMG IT IS GOBLIN SIZE FOR ME) recliner and I am going to look into getting a cart to use with it.

What else?

Post sickness and stressbombs got me a little fucked up so my creating things has been weird and not great. I wrote a whole ass story and lost it. As in, I must’ve not saved it anywhere or I hallucinated the whole thing.

So I am kinda struggling right now and spoon juggling to live and shit is hard.

BUT I started a new story featuring twins, demons, noir and this:

She sashayed away and headed for their booth. When Arthur saw her he stood up, a wide smile on his face. He stepped forward and took her hand.

“Hello again Tyree, may I say you look beautiful. Thank you.”

He kissed her hand and she lifted her eyebrows at him.

“Thank you for what?”

He straightened and led her to the booth.

“Just-“

He looked her up and down,

“thank you.”

Tyrell really wanted to punch him but restrained himself. If his sister wanted to flirt with Mr Designer shoes, she would. She sat and Arthur extended his hand to Tyrell.

So I’m workin babes.

Next time, soon we’re gonna talk about some things about genre work (as in outside of the literary fiction world) that have shocked me and made me feel good.

OKAY babes. I love y’alls. Be good.

Craft Talk: When things are not going well.

Hello my darling friends.

Today we’re gonna talk about when creating is hard.

I’ve been struggling with my Patreon story this month. I’m struggling getting from point z to point 7.87 and feeling fairly uninspired about it. I’m at the point where I stare at it, mutter fuck I hate you bro and close the doc. That is not really productive so I want to share with y’all some of the things I do to get going.

First thing, I remember this. If you’re an OG here you know how much I absolutely adore Daniel Jose Older. I have his essay bookmarked because I need to absorb the message often. I came up with the very shitty advice that to be a real writer one MUST write every day at a special desk, at a special time of day, with the right coffee cup blablabla. I spent a lot of time in my 20s punishing myself for being unable to work two jobs, take care of my home AND dedicate writing time. That was not good.

Shit happens. I think a lot of the YOU MUST WRITE every day thing comes from the idea that more of us have the privilege of doing that. I put it into the same category as the idea that everyone can and should just quit their dayjobs and follow the stars. Some of us cannot for a lot of reasons. That is fine. What actually matters is that we find ways to fit the work into our lives.

Second thing. I allow myself to do other things. For many years I’ve had a habit of having a good number of things I can work on. Blog posts, my other blog, Amazon releases, other stuff. The way my brain works, if I have a thing I need to figure out I can’t fight myself. If I let the thing simmer in my backbrain, most of the time I figure it out while I’m doing other stuff.

Third. I read a lot. I’m literally currently reading three books:

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Second read before I do a review. Y’all know I fucking stan for his work. Honestly, his book Zero Saints (prev link is my review) STILL has literally the best fucking ending.

Naked: The Rhythm and Groove of It. The Depth and Length to It. By  Nastashia Minto.  Also on my second read ahead of a review. Spoiler alert this is a really beautiful book. Just…gut punched and held and seen and it is so good.

AND my first read of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff. I really love Jen. Like she is very good human people. Seriously, look here where I featured her. The book so far is I love it. More when I finish.

I also will read any and everything that catches my eye via social media. I read some lit mags. I read.

Fourth. Sometimes I do other writing biz stuff. Update my bios (pro tip, save a doc with a short and a long bio so you don’t scramble to make new ones), take care of any things like invoices, updating my submission spreadsheet.

Last, sometimes I just don’t write. I’m very paranoid about disappointing my patrons so I will sorta force it but sometimes I really just don’t.

Now some tips for jumpstarting your brain:

  • If you are working on something long, copy the last say 500 words you did and open a new document. Paste those words and go from there.
  • Write a flash or other stand alone part of the story. Tired of your main characters? Write a scene or something with a minor character or expand on a small event.
  • Let yourself screw up.

Let’s expand on that last bit. A lot of the time what I could call writers block is actually me being afraid to fuck it up. It is a lot of pressure to want to do the thing and just knock it out of the park. That will happen probably at some point but a lot of the time we’re gonna fuck it up.

Art is not a finite resource. You can’t use yours up. It is okay to fuck up. What matters is what you do after said fuck up. For instance, when I was almost to the end of the Daiyuverse Cycle 2 I literally trashed the whole thing. Now, I’m not under like a publishing house deadline so I don’t know how folks deal with that but, I was terrified that the change would screw my patreon forever.

It didn’t.

Also, I’m a write when I can how I can type. Sometimes that means I write on the memo pad on my phone, in microsoft word. Sometimes in a text doc. Or an email draft. I do what feels right and sometimes just gotta calm the shit down and do the thing.

I also have learned that I have to let myself have feelings about the work I’m doing. I will complain on social media, cry to my bestie about the essay I’m writing giving me bubble guts. Sweat, flail, sometimes I get the anxiety shits because of stuff I’m writing and I’ve come to accept that is just part of my process. I can’t do the work and not let it happen in my body the way it does.

OKAY my darling friends.

That is all about the work today. I’ve got work to do. Stay tuned, I’ll have some exciting writing biz news coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Stay Frosty.