Ay listen.

Hi babes.

Can we talk about some shit I’ve been learning lately?

First thing I’ve not learned but we’ll say that has been reinforced to me is that, a lot of general promotional advice is woefully out of date. It doesn’t account how a lot of us have our links on platforms like FB throttled so hard, even our “close” friends don’t see them.

So I kinda am trying to make a deeper peace with that. I’m working on it.

The other thing is that, I’ve noticed that even with me taking pains to reduce how much stuff I give away, I STILL don’t really generate things that are buyable by my general audience across a few platforms. How do I know?

Medium for instance. I currently have 19 pieces behind the paywall, a good variety of type of content. Here in 2019 I’ve made less than a dollar. I mean…my read ratio regardless of topic or length is under 2 out of 10. Then of course when I can read stuff on medium, I see a LOT of bullshit that makes hundreds of dollars likely.

It makes me tired.

I’ve been using KoFi for almost a month exactly and have three things to read. One poem, two essay type things. And goose eggs.

I talked about it on my main fb account a while back. And funnily enough when I said, don’t blow smoke up my ass if you’re not going to at the very least share, my share rate went from few to literally 2-4. And so did engagement.

So really, I’ve learned that the call to action, the asking my community for help etc etc. Ain’t for me. I’ve tried. I’ve modified my tone, I’ve changed what I’m giving, etc. I think I can make some peace with that. Silence and inaction says volumes. More so when the folks who do the share because they don’t have $$ to support, are literally the same 4-6 people it has been for a decade. That’s my real audience. They are the real Gs and I’m not talking about them.

What else?

In terms of Gasoline Heart here’s some interesting things. (NOTE TO SELF ASK PUBLISHER FOR NEW BOX O BOOKS) Some of the folks who’ve read it, really loved it. one of the things I’ve seen in several reviews are along the lines of, HOW DID I MISS THIS/THE WORLD MISS IT?

Easily. SO the above issues. I mean, a few people (the book has been out for a while now) who’ve known me for a long time have said, I didn’t see X links. Sorta believable. Also I am not represented, I am not a darling, I am not very famous or really even connected in the poetry world. So yeah, you won’t find my lil book in lists and shit. That is just how it is.

Also, I learned that I do not have the cash on hand to be trying to get my lil book awards. Shit is expensive. In secret I spent a few months last fall really dedicating hours of my week to submitting to free publicity or award things with my lil book. The hours cost me in terms of spoons and time not spent writing and netted me one very nice rejection letter.

And real talk. I STILL can’t get poetry published. At last submission spree, even with mentioning the book and including a poem or two from it, I don’t really get no love from the lit poetry world. That’s fine but it also means that I’m chasing my tail trying to promote my fucking book.

So yeah. That’s been a struggle but I’m glad I did it. I can see the whole pathway and what obstacles exist for me in particular and that I don’t honestly have the spoons to try to get around them. So I do what I have energy for.

NON BULLSHITS.

So last year I decided to focus more on getting back into the fiction world and boy howdy. Quite a few years ago I had about a 60% acceptance rate in the short fiction world. That was huge.

My return to it has been fucking lit.

This year I’ve placed stories in two anthologies that are both HUGE DEALS to me. Huge. I got an experimental horrory story into Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England

I was REALLY nervous because the story was an experiment. It is a Black story and I haven’t really been in the horror community for a while.

THEN I got a little tiny horror story accepted over at Heavy Feather (will announce when it goes up). The editor Jason dropped me a note months ago and I FINALLY made something I’m into.

And then, I got the notification and one of the best damn acceptance notes ever. My lil supernatural noir story got into the Gimme the Loot: Stories Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G. Forthcoming from Clash.

The uniting theme in these is that, I’m at my best when I write what the fuck I want to write. I think freelancing really kind of crushed that in me to a degree. Yes there are some publishers who have been all the way the fuck in with me. But, largely that is not the case. This is the same thing with the flirtations with agents and mainstream publishing.

It is like, OKAY we fuck with you but about 40% so dial it back.

I don’t write great things with that in mind. I don’t write great things when I’m trying so hard to get paid what I’m worth.

All of this is really about me pupating so I can in fact find my place in the lit world. Someone who was trying really hard to be encouraging was comparing me to two very famous, very amazing Black writers and y’all, it made me cry. I like both authors. But, I am not like them and cannot be.

I hate this whole struggle between wanting a seat at the table, wanting some “success” (as termed by our culture) and just wanting to be my weird little self, make some writing, make some pomes, do my shit and maybe sometimes be shown appreciation in the form of coins.

I’m working on it. One lil thing at a time.

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Featuring- Caroline Blicq of Hexennacht.

Hello my friends.

A very long time ago on a blog far far away, I liked to post little interviews with folks I like. I decided that, we’re gonna do that here.

I’ll be featuring writers, artisans, other folks I find cool. First up the amazing scent witch Caroline Blicq, head spoopy babe in charge of and creator of Hexennacht. What is Hexennacht? First some background.

In the aforementioned blog far far away, I met someone who introduced me to the world of hand made perfume oils. For a good portion of my adult life, I was one of those people who would chase down the hood guy who sold oils out of his backpack, or I’d go to the Pan-African import stores for perfume oils. I love them.

I’ve used lots of brands and have a small but delicious collection. Right now, Caroline makes my faves.

hexen
[image description: HEXENNACHT in stylized font]
Before we get to the interview, let me give y’all a little review.

First of all, Caroline creates scents that are evocative, skin loving and frankly every one I’ve tried including my first order of currently unavailable scents, has just been delicious. My tastes tend to run to darker scents. I like notes like tobacco, leather, honey, candles, incense. My first two favorites were these:

Coffin Nails – Tobacco leaves, tobacco flower, whiskey, ginger, anise, coriander, clove, spices, fruitwood sap, juniper berry, hay, vetiver, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla pods, tonka bean, honey.

AND another classic fave:

Papa Legba – Aged dark Maduro cigars, spiced vanilla, beeswax votives, golden honeycomb.

If you click around the scent descriptions, you’ll Caroline has a nice hand at both humour and scent description. These perfumes are extra, the packaging is extra and much to my delight the human I adore, Caroline is also extra af.

Now, my last order was just a beauty. Check it out:

20190205_164713
[image description: a black package with silver writing on it that has my name on it, Shannon  a heart and a planchette shaped logo with Hexennacht in silver ink]
One of the reasons I love handmade items is, I like to feel special. Caroline puts care into her packaging and even just the touch of having my name written all pretty like that makes me really happy.

20190205_164903
[image description from the left: two sample sized vials of perfume oil. The top one is labeled Holy Water, the bottom is labeled Morning Star. In the middle there is a brown toned sticker with a photo of a pentegram on a wooden floor, it says hexennacht in lower case letters. On the right there are two perfume oil roll ons, the left hand one is labeled Black Phillip and the one on the left is labeled The Gunslinger.
Now, ahem. Y’ALL. Black Phillip is so fucking sexy. I feel like a whole ass Love Witch when I wear it. The description:

Black Phillip – black amber, dragon’s blood, black musk, tonka, black oak, firewood embers, black currant, soft woods, black pepper.

On my skin, immediately upon application I smell mostly the dragon’s blood and musk. Once it dries down it turns into this lightly sweet, peppery warm amazingness.

The Gunslinger I got for my partner (who by the way will wear whatever I put on him and perfume isn’t a thing that must be gendered), well actually I got it for me but it smells better on him.

The Gunslinger – Hints of sulphurous gunpowder, smoky, dark, mildly sweet, and spicy with notes of smoke and wood.

I LOVE the note of gunpowder. LOVE IT. It does not work with my body chemistry and turns weird and sour. On the partner, it is a sharp smell that mellows into that mildsweetness on his skin. Pure. Hotness.

Today I am wearing Inferno – orange pekoe tea, orange, clove, cinnamon, ginger. Y’alls. There is a tea here in WA that is so good and she managed to not only capture it, but on the skin it just smells so warm and soothing and another sexy scent. This scent is so fucking sexy, a straight woman kinda hit on me while we were sitting next to each other on the bus. That is how good she is.

Caroline’s scents are beautifully complex and so easy to wear in ways that have a low impact on folks around you. You can adjust the intensity to your own preferences. If you don’t like scent on your skin, try it in a scent locket. I have one I wear sometimes if I just want something to lift my mood.

NOW my loves, meet the divine Caroline.

What’s your name/pen name: Caroline Blicq

First tell my friends as much as you’d like to about yourself and your work.

I’m a Canadian transplant, and have lived in Seattle for 22 years. I started out making herbal infusions, tinctures, and tisanes 25 years ago, and over time, it gradually evolved into perfumery.

How do you like to work? Do you need your workspace to be any particular way?

I like to work in either complete silence or loud music. There’s no in-between. I also NEED to have an inordinate amount of “alone” time. I’ve always thrived on having minimal interpersonal interaction, and thankfully, working out of my home makes that possible. As far as my workspace goes, it doesn’t appear to be in any set “order”, but I know exactly where every single one of my 300+ blends is located at any given moment. For that reason alone, I’ll never be able to have assistants, but then again, that would cut into my alone time, so it all works out very well for me.

Who are your favorite artists or authors?

“Music: Kate Bush, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder.
Authors: Paul Beyerl, Judika Illes, c.s. lewis, Stephen King, Joe Hill”

Do you have any memories of the first piece of art or literature that really moved you?

I was OBSESSED with Lynda Barry’s graphic novels as a teen. I still am.

What makes you ridiculously happy?

Music, my home/sanctuary, my family, getting to make a living doing what I love the most.

Do you still feel awe? If so what fills you full of it? If not, tell me.

I was gifted a Hawaiian vacation last year, and snorkeling with tropical fish is by far the most amazing, exhilarating thing I have ever done in my life. I’m obsessed with going back there someday.

Free for all: Tell me something good. (Yes I did just quote Chaka Khan at you)

It’s 2019. I’m having to dig deep to come up with something good these days. Is it re-election time yet? Haha-

Extras?

Shop: http://www.hexennacht.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hexennacht.scents
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1510610669028654/

 

First Side Hustle of the Year Updates.

OKAY.

Hi y’alls.

Folks ask me so I will probably do a monthlyish hustle update. (Medium links are paid links)

Medium still fails, my stats, these are not ALL of the things behind the paywall just the “top”:

Adventures in Being Black in Public $5.99
How to Learn to Write Non Fiction $0.00
This is America II $0.00
Post FatAss: Current RageAss. $0.00
Dear White Feminists. 2018 is coming. $0.00
How to Make a Witch II $0.00
How To Diversify Your Literary Publication $0.00
Self Care Like A Boss $0.00
This is America $0.00
So a bit from my top earner for the month:
The weight of that look, the look Black folks who are in situations where they are the only Black person there, or are visibly in distress know. The curled lip, the purse clutch, the sneer, the loathing. It is the look when you are both invisible and hypervisible. I was already panicky, trying to text my partner through my tears, terrified that (not logical but….) immediately the money I’ve been working so hard to save would be gone, that someone would fuck up my credit I’ve worked so hard on, everything.”
I wrote about a real bad day. I wrote from my aching heart about a really bullshit ass experience of my Blackness. it hurt. It hurt to read.
On average when I bleed out on the page this way, using Medium I might make 5$. When I’m exhausted angry and hurt, sometimes I make a little cash. For instance, this article I made about 13$. A record high. This piece was ghosted by four editors at ladymags who’d asked for this sort of thing. Two rejections because it is strident. So I took to Medium.

I will go out on a limb and speak for a lot of us othered folks. We cannot and do not want to continue giving free, amazing scholarly lessons on basic don’t be a racist. It is damn near 2018 and our fucking world is burning. Want to be the best gosh darned intersectional (also please interrogate your use of that word and if you don’t already know, find out about where it comes from) feminist ever?

Do the work.

Some stats for that piece:

Published 

VIEWS BY TRAFFIC SOURCE
353.

So frankly, y’alls. This is a large part of why I am in the process of redoing how I work. Honestly, letting it ALL out like that might be cathartic sometimes but it also is so much labor. And aside from maybe one magazine I can think of, even when that sort of work is asked for I’m not the one getting those bylines so no $$.

In other hustle news. My Etsy store will be closing on 2-15. I kept loose track and worked well over 75 hours on etsy stuff in the last quarter of 2018 and that made my hourly rate less than a dollar so. Nope.

What I am doing is making room for a big, shoot the moon, HOLY SHIT I AM DOING THIS SHIT type thing. I’m not ready to share ALL the details but, I’m taking a big fucking risk and I am so excited about it.

What else is happening?

I’m reading a few really good books right now. I’m getting ready to roll out some new shits. Since The Evil Empire   I mean Amazon changed their affiliate program I’m working on a WHOLE ass page of hand picked books and links.

I’ve also got a directory of Black Patreon creators going and I’ll be going live with it soonish.

I’ve got a real hankering to provide some more resources up in this bitch so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll be back probably next week where I’m going to need to talk some shit about people who try to sell best seller secrets willy nilly.

OH and if you are or know Black creators on Patreon drop them links for me please!

 

A Real Round Up

HEY.

So I’ve decided to do a whole ass second but better year end wrap up for my writing shits this year.

First check this shit out in another window. I minor tweet stormed about my work this year.

All righty then.

I realized as I was doing those tweets that, this year has been pretty lit.

I was feeling pretty down about the failures of the year. None of my side hustles really worked out.

I made less than 50$ with both Etsy and medium and that really sucks. I mean, it hurts me on so many levels.

That said.

I wrote like a mother fucker and wrote exactly what the fuck I wanted when I wanted. I finally fully divested myself from trying to be a freelance super earner. Like there are literally two editors I will pitch to and dassit.

I learned that finally, I can say I’m okay with being unable to financially sustain my creative life. It sucks but I can’t force folks to do shit.

All I can do is do what I do.

I was really feeling like, all this, all the angst and crying and stress just made me the worst.

I dunno y’all. I may not be able to like, pay bills with the words but fuck I write like a mother fucker regardless.

So what is happening in 2019?

I’m making moves.

Patreon stuff is happening, I’ve got a lot of plans.

I’ve also realized that part of what has freed me to write the way I have been this year is that, I’ve been learning to accept some things that are real for me.

  1. My obscurity frees me. I have a job that basically sort of pays the bills. So, I don’t have to eat shit when I freelance. I can say no and I have learned to say no. I had a piece that was commissioned and was a pretty good payday. After realizing that the editor and I were quite far apart on what we wanted. I let it go and put it on Medium.
  2. Speaking of Medium. The other edge of my obscurity is that, regardless of what folks say, 80% of my audience refuses to give my work material support. Folks don’t share, don’t clap on medium etc etc. I don’t know why. Some folks tell me to trust my community to come through and, well frankly most of the time they don’t. It hurts but whatever.
  3. I AM going to write the shit anyway. I’ve tried to stop but nah son.
  4. I am allowed to work this out however the fuck I need to.

Those things have led me into some stuff I’m VERY excited about and will share with y’all soon.

Overall 2018 beat the dog shit out of me. I wrote some of my best shit and it was lowkey sorta okay.

NOW. Over at medium behind the paywall but this is the friend link. A lesson on how I learned to write non-fiction.

Hustleverse and Art and Shit.

OOOKAY y’alls.

I’m on my hustle and we got THINGS HAPPENIN.

Let’s start with some evil empire (amazon) links.

An older book of mine I put together as part of my beginning idea of showing how the sausage is made is Wayward WordsI transcribed things out my notebooks, some flash pieces and poems. I talked a bit about them. It’s a little thing you can read on your Kindle app and enjoy for a little bit.

Next up, I was in Thuglit Issue #5 and that was a fave story I’ve done. I’ve really enjoyed running around in crime fiction and the whole issue is pretty solid.

Want something a little racier? I was in an issue of Infernal Ink with some pyro crime erotica. Get U SOME!

Full disclosure about my amazon links. I get a few cents on clicks and buys. They discontinued their store program so I will be making a page of book recs with said links. Yes I know terrible however, bitches gotta eat.

Now some more direct stuff.

These links will give me more cash in hand.

I’ve reopened my Etsy Store. I’ve included a brand new Etsy exclusive essay. I’ve reopened Etsy to get ready to list some handmade shawls and I’m pretty excited.

I’m also still fundraising. We’ve got almost 1400$ all in for lingering move related bills and staying alive. I hate it but, we gotta stay alive.

If you’re a paid Medium member. I put a new thing behind the paywall. Claps are free y’all know. Also, if you’re paid and like what I’m doing, throw some claps on other pieces.

I’ve also got some free stuff happening.

Read about why, yes the fuck I will unfriend over politics. And appropriate to this post, a little thing about Making a Difference.

Something that I believe in is, helping folks on a small scale. We can’t all be the viral helpers and sometimes, the best route is to just help folks stay alive.

Can’t buy? Totally okay. Share links. Tell your friends that you have a homie in need who has a variety of ways to provide support.

Show up.

If you don’t want to do that stuff, I got tip jars too.

https://www.paypal.me/WordsnThings

https://cash.me/$weebeasty

https://venmo.com/Shannon-Barber-5

Later this week, I’ll be posting up some new free to read stuff about writing. Follow me at Medium for that. Want a loveletter to your creative heart? Subscribe here and get a tiny vacation weekly from the trashfire world.

Hustlin updates and stuffs.

So I know it has seemed bleak but, here’s the thing. When I figure out how to work, I fuckin work.

The method I’ve adopted for now is write like a mother fucker, accept some freelance, submit to literary shits, get rejected rinse repeat.

My other hustle is my Patreon. Let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t make much at Patreon, a couple of hundred bucks that pays for some bills. It is one of my favorite things. Some of y’all are new so let’s talk bout what I’m doing there. I’m writing an ongoing urban fantasy very queer Black n brown ongoing story. I’m calling each novella length chunk a Cycle and my goal is to just write in this world (a magical Seattle and currently a few other spots) and play.

When I talk about the Daiyuverse this is what I’m talking about. It is where I go to play. I am creating a large magical system, I am connecting POC cultural and diasporic spiritual magics. This is not vaguely European fairyland. It is absolutely Queer and not a White centered world and I just love it. Part of what makes it fun for me is that the curtain is pulled all the way back. We’re into cycle 2 and I’ve left in my own editorial remarks, mistakes, do overs.

This is a naked first draft. This is (to paraphrase Jerry Stahl again) me naked and fucked up at 4 in the morning writing and it is wonderful. I don’t ask for a lot, I don’t do tiered anything. Regardless of how much you are in for, you get usually a little letter and about 3k words of the verse. Sometimes I toss in extras, WIPs, essays or whatever. Once life is settled I’m thinking about doing some Patron only videos about writing or stuff.

It is great.

Now let’s talk freelance. I’ve just made my re-entry into freelance and I am so proud of the piece. You can read it here at Wear Your Voice. CW for racism and some hard shit. One of the reasons freelancing can be the shits for me is that, writing easy stuff is not really my lane. My fluff gets deep regardless of subject matter. I want to write about fuckin eyeliner, I talk about Western Beauty standard bullshit.

As emotionally taxing as my non fiction can be for me to do, it is just who I am as a writer and human. It me. I fought it but, it is just who I am. The same day the above piece went live, I wrote this lil thingy on Medium because some folks were bothering me. I spat it out and kept it pushing which is how I work.

I toss little jokes in with my seriousness because I’m a goofy mother fucker.

One of the things that all the marketing advice for writers in the world won’t give you is that sweetness of connecting with your audience. I know who y’all are and I fucking love the shit out of you. Yes, I do talk about how/when/why my audience doesn’t give a shit but, I know a lot of you do and that’s deeply meaningful to me.

WHen stuff like this column by a fave magical being I know named Misha went live, I read it and got teary eyed at the bus stop because when people tell me that something I said touched them, the fucked up hustling isn’t so fucked up. I’m still poor and not in the best of health but fuck y’all, I do feel the love.

While there has been a pattern of fuckery in my literary world, there is a bigger pattern of when my words do what I want them to and work themselves into another persons heart, that makes it better. When (this happened a while back) a shy young Queer person on the bus, whispers did you write at XOJane about self care to me and when I say yes they light up and say thank you, that is the realest shit. When I get dms saying, yo that poem was fucking fire.

I think a lot of my life has lead me to this point. I’ve made the decision not to play the recommended game. Fuck that game. I’m not going to compromise, I’m not going to shut up, I’m not going to filter myself so I can make money.

I will still freak out about money because I’m poor. I will sometimes write lengthy shit about how much I just want to sell some fuckin stickers or whatever. That said, I can hold that and hold space for doing what the fuck I want to do and writing what the fuck I want to write, because that is who I am.

It me y’all.

My dreams may not be lucrative and won’t buy me new make up but, I believe they will fulfill my soul and that my friends is what I want.

That’s all for now. I love y’all.

OH yeah new loveletter later today about trusting your process and taking a leap. Come sign up. No spams. All love for your hams.

Hilarity Ensued.

Okay if you read my last post, you know that I’m rearranging my hustle so I can work. TL:DR version is I’m very tired of providing a whole lot of free content and getting little material support regardless of what I ask for.

Ahem.

So first thing was a lot of sympathy. Messages, notes etc all expressing utmost sadness. I do appreciate it. The writing life is a hard fuckin hustle. Especially for someone like me for LOTS of intersecting simple and complex reasons.

Cool.

What did not happen?

Engagement with material I’ve offered for free and for paid medium users. Nothin. Nada. Fuck all. My current super check from Medium is a whopping zero cents. Between this here lil doohicky, followers at Medium, tweeter etc there are a good few thousand of y’all so honestly sometimes seeing all those juicy zeroes is just…..disheartening.

That said, I do find it dryly (bitterly) entertaining that instead of the free to do shares of shit I get a lot of advice.

Some of it is really bad.

First one, someone I’ve known for literal years suggested I take an internship that is for newbies who need to learn how to get published.

Bro.

BRUH.

HONEY BRUH.

I say this with love. PLS DO NOT GODDAMN DO THIS. Ahem….

I am in fact a professional. I know I am not slinging big dollar bylines but, I do my thing. I’ve been doing it since the late 1990s. I AM AN OLD. I SUBMITTED SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPED WITH TYPED ON A FUCKIN NON HIPSTER TYPEWRITER. I skipped eating to buy stamps and paper. I know how to do publishing.

Yes, wanting to share an opportunity with me is great. However if it comes and it is very clearly not for me, yeah Imma feel some type of way. If it involves moving to NYC on a stipend, NAH I have a tiny family to care for and have a job, if it involves travel I can’t afford it.

Y’alls. I am very very open about my life. I work full time. Yes some stuff has changed since we moved.

Previously, my work days were basically up at 4:45 AM, out the door at six PM,  in the door between 5:30-6PM. Food and bathing and household shit until about 8 or so then attempts at sleep. On a good day I had maybe 2 hours of writing at home before I got too tired.

Currently, I have more time so I’m writing more stuff.

BUT I am still poor. I still have a full time job and a disabled partner to care for. This precludes me doing a lot of things because they cost money, don’t pay and cost time.

I don’t like capitalism but like everybody else I gotta play so I don’t starve to death and die.

Next thing. Do NOT approach me like we’re friends and try to sell me your super best seller marketing secrets. Do. Not. Do.

Look I’m not gunning for sympathy when I talk about these things. I’m open about them because it is a part of the writing life that is hard and just like every other broke fucker with a pen, I’m doing the best I can.

I face obstacles that I want to be open about. Some of them are of my own making. I say that because I have a big goddamn mouth and I acknowledge that my habit of talking about uncomfortable things especially in the context of the lit biz, turns some folks off. That’s fine. I’m not a universally loved flavor of human. Some of the obstacles are because I move around in the body I’m in, with the skin I’m in and that’s just how shit works.

I’m too old to believe that if I just find the magic formula, ALL THE CASH SHALL FOLLOW. I also don’t really want that.

Here’s what I want.

  • Write what the fuck I want.
  • Freelance a little bit with people I trust with my work.
  • Sometimes buy new underpants.
  • Read books.
  • Drink hot beverages.
  • Live.

Thing is, what’s important beyond just wanting to help is taking the extra second to think before you give someone something gross. Don’t insult folks who are in the shit, and know some shit. And yes, you might not mean it but sometimes offering up things that are not possible for people sucks.

Small lit life updates-

  1. Ten subs/pitches out.
  2. Two non response, one form rejection, one warm rejection.
  3. One solicited essay assignment turned in.
  4. MAKE THAT ELEVEN out, I just sent another poetry submission.

I have to go back in time so I can find some stuff to talk to editors I like about. This is the life, I ain’t mad.