Updates, Books and readings.

First up let’s talk about the books I’ve been reading. Yes Evil Empire affiliate links ahead.

BOOKS Y’ALLS!

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi. AHEM. Y’all. I will do a full dorktastic review after a reread but um. OKAY> AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSHIT SON. If I’m gonna be fancy, this is the Diasporic Dream of Baby Potato me. If I’d had this book at a crucial point in my youth, I probably wouldn’t have given up all magical type literature for more than a decade. A complaint I’ve seen around is that it isn’t a complex plot etc and I think that is misguided. This is a book intended for teen readers so, adult epic fantasy lovers probably won’t like it. That said, I love this book. The magical systems, the world building, the evolution of the characters AND I HAPPEN TO KNOW THE NEXT ONE IS ON DECK. A really wonderful read, if you’re Black and know smol Black humans who like magic, get on this.

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. I’m on my reread of this book so I can do a review and y’all. I think someone gave me a copy of this book and said, read this you’ll like it. I do like it. Gabino has a gift for coming out swinging and the pace is not fast but it feels relentless. It is dark and violent and there is grace in his characters. If you like it dark and violent and pretty, read it. Bigger review soonish. ALSO check out his work in a fave magazine of mine, Shotgun Honey.

Other book news I’m hype about. Y’all know I love me some Joe Clifford and I happen to know that his book Junkie Love has a fancy new print coming up in Sept with a whole new forward by another of my beloved writers Jerry Stahl WHO also blurbed Gabino’s book. I’m really hype for that.

What’s good lit world?

I’ve been reading some great stuff. I’ve made a habit of checking tweeter in the morning and y’alls I know so many fucking great writers.

Go read this by Kristin Chang in the Offing. It is so beautiful and just…I made a velociraptor noise while reading because WOW.

My friend Chiwan Choi wrote this and holy fuck it is beautiful. If you meet him, go to one of his events or just see him on the street you should buy him some cookies immediately.

Podcaster and all round bad ass homie Nia Levy King is running a fundraiser and please check it out. Donate, share it. These books are so important. This is vital work.

Y’all know that one of the few places I feel good about freelancing at is Wear Your Voice Magazine. My last piece there is one of the best I’ve written and they need help. Indie media is so important so again, check out their Patreon and if you can’t support, please for real y’all share the links.

Let me take a break here to say again.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t contribute financially. SHARE THE GODDAMN LINKS. It is free. It takes two seconds and if you knoiw 2k more people, or different people than I know, that is more eyes, more eyes means more opportunities for support so get on it.

What have I been doing?

WELL I have been a busy wee beast. I poeted at an event last night and it was really nice. I read at an event called Margin Shift and Y’ALLS! A thing happened for the first time. TWO PEOPLE there had seen me read previously. And said so. Also I talked to other writers/people about my work and stuff and didn’t pee myself or faint.

I sold some books, folks enjoyed the reading a lot. Overall it was on the way better end of reading in Seattle. I’ll write more about that later.

I had this wee witch poem published over at Yes, Poetry.

I’ve been using Medium as a bit of a clearing house of sorts for stuff I have in drafts, stuff living on my phone. Funnily enough. Now that I’m not doing any paid content, both engagement and readership has gone up. In March/April when I wasn’t really posting I had about 400 reads. Posting a few times a month, my reads are in the thousands.

So it holds up my point that a LOT OF PEOPLE including those who already pay for Medium don’t give a fuck about tossing me a few coins.

Sooo new stuff over there. Including a lil screed on how yes the fuck I will unfriend people over politics and I ain’t ashamed.

OH also earlier in the week I posted up a little essayish thing and free bite of the Daiyuverse. Go visit Bayou Cane, meet the St. Pierre family and get you some free shit to read today.

Last thing, as a way to encourage myself to do more digital arts, I opened a red bubble shop with a few prints. More are coming.

OH ONE MORE THING. Come sign up for my loveletter. It was a newsletter but mostly I talk about being a creative person, struggles, fun shit, tell you how much I love you. No spams. All ham. Loveletter link was busted and is all fixed up.

Dassit for now.

 

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True Story time! Gender, Queer AND OMG BOOKS.

Hello friendos.

I haven’t posted for a while because my life is still pure chaos and I am not moved and yeah…shit is a lot.

Recently a wee Babby Queer asked me how on earth I found information about Queerness and Gender before the Internet.

Oh Boo.

Okay.

Some of these will be evil empire affiliate links because your host is a bitch that gotta eat.

Let’s talk about what had happened.

As a baby potato, I realize looking back I did not buy the concept of there only being Boys and Girls. The extent of my understanding was this. Way back in the 80s I remember seeing a man in half man/half woman drag on TV and I thought he was the most perfect human to ever exist. Man? Woman? Both? I thought both and perfect.

That was it. I didn’t feel the need to think about my own gender multiplicity, it just was how I was and it was fine.

What started me questioning the fluctuating nature of my gender was my taste in books. To be real about it, when I was in high school I started reading a lot of very dirty books. If it was even Queer Baity, I was into it. At one point when I was 19 or so, I realized that as a reader, I identified with varying gendered people in those stories. In my fantasies (wank file) sometimes I was the virginal girl, I was the rent boy, I was the big dirty daddy and it felt the most natural to me.

I read a lot of real filthy gay smut. I emulated those writers and I read gay fiction and I remember in particular finding Kate Bornstein’s book Gender Outlaws- y’all. Shit fucked me up. Until the day I found that book in a Gay owned bookstore where I’d been introduced to Dennis Cooper and Carol Queen and Patrick Califa and the amazing porn magazine On Our Backs and sex work and all of these things exploded my understanding of how I perceived not only my own gender but that of others.

My mind was blown.

There were OTHERS.

Gender as I experienced it wasn’t some weird delusion or fetish. It took me a long time to understand that but, the list of books linked below is absolutely a big part of that. Remember I’m old y’all. I had no google, no tumblr or twitter. I had books. Books I skipped eating to buy. Books that were so precious to me I couldn’t share them with others.

Like most things in my life, it started with books. With me realizing that while yeah there’s some weird shit happening in my head, I wasn’t/am not alone.

Now this is why I am so strident about representation. Because I was a lonely baby potato and even through the sheer Whiteness of the stuff I was reading, I saw I wasn’t alone. Those early books gave me the courage to find those people in meatspace. I gravitated towards other queers, transfolks, genderqueer folks who also didn’t know the term genderqueer.

Learning that beyond the canon of the Western everything, there were and are genders beyond a prescribed binary blessed me.

Now how about some things?

I wrote some stuff about gender.

Find my amazon list (I will add more) of stuff I was reading/have read since.

Further Fuckitlist things and comforts.

Comforts first.

I really love audiobooks and stories. I have some faves y’all should know about.

First one right now I’m listening to one of my favorite voice talents read a story I have been into since it came out. Buried Eyes by Lavie Tidhar.  That swords n sorcery n guns n shit stuff is pretty awesome. You should buy all of Lavie Tidhar’s work cause it is really friggin good. The reader is Graeme Dunlop who has a lovely voice and is very emotive and really good.

Actually just dive in at the linked podcast site and find stuff.

Another fave is this story called Gig Marks from Pseudopod. Y’all it is so damn good I think of it all the time. I love a great ghost story and it is perfect.

In my backpack I have copies of Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir by my beloved friend Jenny Forrester. Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life by Kim Addonizio.

All nice things I am enjoying.

What am I writing? I started a weird bird person story here’s a bite:

Mr. Peach White likes to walk with his wing just around my shoulders. He forgets how short my legs are compared to his and I must always adopt a rolling bird waddle to keep up with him. He speaks a mile a minute, informing me about the children, trouble in the local rookery, the gossip from the cranes who fly the river and return with mail and messages. He snorts and shakes his crest when we pass a seabird colony full of the howling of the gulls and cormorants.

“So you see, Mary of Brown skin, it must be quite impossible to make peace with these strange creatures. These odd drab birds that fly with misery from the north. What need of them, have we? Our city is a place of-” He stops talking, distracted by something or other and I catch my breath a bit. I would never deliberately slow him down, he is one of my regular customers, but I do appreciate it when something catches his eye. “Mary, Miss Mary of Brown Skin, look there.”

He points one white wing and I have to stand on tiptoe to follow the direction of his pointing. “Um, can you lower your wing a little bit please?” I sound like a mouse but, Mr. Peach White burbles an apology and lowers his wing so I can see over it. Across the river there was a dust cloud full of ruckus of some sort. Squawking, rough shouts from working laboror human humans. Mr. Peach White is notoriously and insatiably nosy, he gathers me under one wing and hustles me to the nearest weaverbird.

What the fuck is this? I don’t even know. Except that the end is gonna be kinda gory but romantic? I like the idea but why bird people? I find the idea so terrifying I can’t stand myself.

What else?

I’m working on this literary, memoir related, observational thing and I CANNOT for the life of me figure out how I want to write it and I’m getting on my own nerves. My first attempt started out way too academic, the second was closer ish but not there yet. My head is SO FUCKING FULL and I just….

I mean what if I could just reach in, give the ole brain sponge a squeezy squeeze and Voila essay falls out of my nose. Shit, at this point I’d take it if it dribbled out of my butt.

At least I feel like I’d be deeper into this fucking thing than I am. Can y’all tell I’ve about run out of patience?

I’ve mentioned my impatient studiousness but for fuck sake I JUST WANT TO WRITE THE SHIT ALREADY.

But I also kinda don’t because I’m not ready.

OH let us talk of shit I’ve kicked off my Fuckit List.

I wrote this review for ROAR. I feel very good about it. Read it.

I also sent a few like major swing for the fences pitches last week. Baby needs shoes and bylines.

I’m having one of those weeks when part of my fuckit list involves a big ass project that just seems like too much. I’d need:

  • Start up funding (I could likely contribute a bit but I’d need to crowdfund the rest and well…that doesn’t work for me)
  • To stop writing other projects/things for at least 3-4 months.
  • Help with reach from folks who haven’t shown up for me in the past.
  • Opportunity to work on this thing without worrying about how much it is costing me.

Today, I feel like these seemingly few things are never going to all align. I’m frustrated. I don’t -want- to have to make a whole business. I don’t want to work that as an extra full time job because, I’m not in a position to just leap and assume everything will be fine. I’m responsible for another human being staying clothed, housed and fed.

Also honestly, as I’m researching I’m just- I don’t want to. I don’t. I just want to make enough money in life to maybe not be triggered to fuck on payday, or be able to buy vegetables whenever I want some and maybe, MAYBE buy some fucking underwear without feeling guilty or otherwise fucking up my budget.

And no it isn’t that I don’t work. I work hard at maintaining the quality of life I have.

The super extra frustrating thing is I already fucking know that the path above, isn’t the one I goddamn want. I don’t want to try and run a business and write and live. I’m super extra tired of wanting to or needing to feel like I HAVE to try doing this in order to live and maybe come up a tiny bit.

I am not looking for some rags to riches come up thing.

I just want a bit less stress and maybe a nice place to live.

And maybe do some good and make a little coin.

But nah.

This post also brought to you by someone who thought it was helpful to tell me how much I don’t believe in myself or want a better life because I won’t not work my regular job for 6 months to MAYBE find a better position…like.

What the fuck good would coding or other certs do me if I lost my place to live or am unable to provide for my family?

When I asked if she’d like to pay my expenses she got angry and just kept giving me that be your own boss schtick like it is gospel and it pissed me off.

Okay I’m frustrated and upset and I’m gonna not do that for a while.

Dwelling in Darkness

Before I get to the darkness, some light. My first fiction publication of the year has gone live at the new magazine Rigorous. Read my cowboy/mermaid myth here. I’ll nerd about it later because I worked on it for months and the original inspiration might make y’all giggle.

I’ll nerd about the origin story for that piece later this week.

Per usual, when things are pretty much non-stop bullshit, I turn to the darker end of lit for comfort. Let’s talk about what I’ve been reading/listening to.

House of Horrors: The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler. (Amazon affiliate links ahoy y’all.)This book is pretty dingdang good. I actually followed this case with a lot of interest because really we don’t get to see/read about a lot of non-white serial killers. This book was missing the racial analysis I was craving, something more in depth than poverty and shit. BUT, that said a lot of the early history and behaviors of this killer cut across racial lines to intersect with other serial killers. Pretty good read.

I also reread Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Y’all if you’ve never read this book please read it. This one is a hard one for me to read. Every time I read it, the sameness of many of the struggles I have as a Black person are devastating. On the other hand, I also am soothed by the rhythm of this book and the familiarity. Read the thing.

I have a habit of dipping back into the darkness as y’all know.

May I also suggest some of my fave noir?

I really loved this piece in Out of the Gutter, The Flash Fiction Offensive. Initiation by Brendan Bakala.

For some other noir reading, may I suggest back issues of Thuglit. Like issue #5 (I’m in this one) I also suggest reading stuff by the publisher of Thuglit Todd Robinson. He’s good people and his writing is fucking tight. Read The Hard Bounce. I really fell in love with his characters Boo and Junior. His work is vivid and has a beating heart. Get into it.

Lamentation by my homie Joe Clifford, another one that I love. Y’all, like get on that. It is a series and it’s good.

Want something lighter?

Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba) by my dude Daniel Jose Older. If I’m not mistaken, this is the last in the Bone Street Rumba series (noooooooooooooooo) and it is so fucking good. It’s just, god damn it. I love this world so much I never want it to end for purely selfish reasons. Just…start at the beginning and read them all.

For an intense but not totally heart breaking read, start up the Broken Earth books by N.K. Jemisin. Start with The Fifth Season. If you like your fantasy with some literary bent and really detailed and showcasing some major, major researching skills, get it. These books are gorgeous.

If you need to get really sucked in deep into a whole other world, read The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. I liked this book, it wasn’t totally what I needed but it is very very good and goes deep into world building and the language is beautiful. 

Thing is, right now we all need some fucking space that isn’t littered with the actual fire that is burning up America right now and fixing to light up the rest of the world.

Don’t feel bad if you need to get away because we all need some of that lately.

What have I been doing?

Well I’ve been writing poems and SCLAB and a few stories. Trying to hang on to my sanity.

Before I go, how about a look at a bite of a hood noir story I started. Another one with a brother and sister duo, I’ve got a thing for that.

“You-‘

Tyrell heard his sister yelling from the front hall all the way into his office and cringed.

“Rusty ass. No account ass. Trifling ass. Shitty ass mother fucker.”

He heard her stomp past his door, steady talking shit.

“One more fuckin’ time I gotta do some nasty shit like that, you gonna take a dick for the team. Chicken ass, scary ass, useless looking bullshitting ass, but you’re better at this Tye Tye, lying ass-“

Her voice muted as the bathroom door slammed. Tyrell heaved a sigh and made a gesture at the other man in his office.

OH one more thing.

My birthday is in March and per request here is my wishlist.

Hustlin’ Hustlin

So.

I am on that hustle because frankly I want to buy some summer clothes that fit my ass and my aesthetic. Also baby got bills to pay.

I also decided to do a digital version of my poetry chapbook The Motherfuckess Manifesta And Other Poems. The print version will be handmade and not the exact same book. I am taking my time with that because I’m terrible at book building.

 

You can go check that out here. I also relisted my Lovecrafty Story Doe Mouse. Deer Mouse. Rabbit and Bunny.  I even added a tiny bonus Crawling Chaos story.

What else?

You can also read more flash by me over at Catapult. 

I think that’s all the news for now. I’ll be starting to deliver some brand new stuff to folks who support me via Patreon. Shit is getting exciting up in there.

What else is happening?

Essentially, I’m struggling to settle into my new/current experience of poverty. Those first couple of months of the increased cost of living haven’t been gentle. I have stress rashes, I’ve had panic attack shits and I’ve choked myself out creatively speaking. Shit is so hard.

BUT, I’m trying really hard not to completely freak out.

I’ve got some freelance paychecks coming in later this month and next month.

I’m sort of on target with writing new stuff ish.

I’m trying.

But shit is fucking hard y’all.

That’s it for now. We may or may not step into The World tomorrow. I have a thing for that, but it’s not quite what I want. I’m on that heavy experimentation tip again so we’ll see if I can pull it off.

 

Yeah Write Entry #209- Book Slut

 

Book Slut: An Ode to Challenged Books

by

Shannon Barber

One of my fondest memories as a reader is the year when I was a tween I decided to read every book on the 100 most challenged book list as published by the King County Library System. One by one I devoured every one and thought about what made them so terrible in the eyes of a few people.

I cried. I got angry. I was sad. I read things I didn’t entirely understand and would return to years later. I read books I had no interest in and couldn’t connect to.

Given the frothy mouthed things I’d read about book censorship debates, I fully expected to be twisted by my adventure. I expected that I’d be struggling with being a drug addled, teenaged prostitute who was pregnant and running away and of spectacularly loose morals. I was under the impression that reading these books, that letting their wicked ideas into my head would change me.

I was down for it and I waited for some shift in my brain to happen. I waited for the inevitable rejection of my budding personal system of morality and ethics to dissolve under the weight of books like Private Parts by Howard Stern or The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison to just happen.

I waited.

I read more books.

I started reading really dirty books by Henry Miller, Anne Rice and other perverse people. I daydreamed about being a beautiful gay boy and having Kerouac or Burroughs or Corso as my lovers. I thought about running away to befriend Alice Walker and sit at her feet to learn to be a writer.

I thought about my Queerness and how to deal with it.

I turned 16 and started trying to plan a life as a writer.

I wanted a girlfriend.

I still hadn’t been ruined by my promiscuous reading.

I exposed myself to violent texts, queer sex, drug use, prostitution, smoking, bullying, offensive language, adult situations, weird or extreme political viewpoints- I didn’t only expose myself to these things I craved them. I gorged on them.

Inside those inappropriate pages I found visions of myself. I discovered worlds I might not have been able to reach out and touch, but that made sense to me and thus helped the outside world to make sense to me.

I was still a child.

When I had problems and questions I didn’t have the voice to ask, they were inside books. When I wanted to be deliciously terrified, books were there. When the whole world seemed too big and terrifying, I had books.

For every person who says that children or teenagers shouldn’t read this or that, I say calm down maybe you shouldn’t read it.

I joyfully encourage the kids and the teens and everyone to read promiscuously. Read things that churn your stomach. Read things that terrify you. Read about people you hate. Read.

The world is waiting for you and if you are a tween like I was, it just might save you.

###

PS for some more info on banned or challenged books, read here.

Y’all are not ready.

I have been sitting on a major secret.

I am super proud to announce that Milcah Orbacedo is opening a brand new press called MotherBlazing Books and I am her first author.

We are going to do SO MUCH together.

There will be special edition print books, ebooks, a brand new website AND TEE SHIRTS.

I am so so happy to be doing it this way. Coming up I’m also going to talk about how meaningful it is to me to be bringing my first not published by me print book into the world with someone who really sees who I am and values me for who I am and who I trust and love.

This is the publishing I want.

Now I am super exhausted and I have been bursting to tell everyone.

To keep up on what’s going on and to see when the new website drops like the bass you can come like my author page on faceook.

I hope you all come along for the ride because it’s going to be fucking great.