Good News Everyone!

Oh hey you.

Been starved for some good news from your fave Indie writer?

FIRST up!

Check out that beauty! I have a new essay in Issue 3 of Witch Craft magazine. This one is a departure for me, it is about Blackness and witchery and a rejection of White washed witchery. Go check it out here and buy the issue!

Are you in Seattle?

Do you want to see me?

You have two chances in October. First, I’ll be facilitating a little workshop thing through Minor Arcana Press. I get to host a talk and writing session on..>DUNDUNDUN HORROR MOFOS!! Even if you don’t write horror come and check it out. We’ll have a little talk, a little write, some talk and stuff. Y’all know teaching writing is on my bucketlist and this is maybe a preview as to how I want to offer classes. Come on DOWN Y’all. RSVP on facebooks.

Can’t make it to that? Stay tuned because I will be reading the next day with some amazing QTPOC. So keep your eyes peeled.

In celebration of me getting to talk/teach about horror writing, I will post a few free flash/prompt type things so y’all can get your creepy on.

I will also for Spooktober, maybe keep the etsy store open and put together something special.

Hopefully if things continue going in a nice way, there will be some new and extra surprises towards the end of the month.

Come back tomorrow for talk about the Daiyuverse and stuff.

 

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When it Burns or rather I beez in the trap.

Lately, as I’ve been working on The Poems (current name of my untitled poetry book thing) I’ve also been working on some fairly emotionally intense non-fiction.

Today I finished an essay thing that is about how I experience anxiety. It’s not really something I necessarily want people to read, I feel a mix of shame and ridiculousness and like it is a risk I don’t know if I can afford taking. Writing it hurt. I talked a little bit about it on twitter, but the truth is I feel flayed.

I am feeling the mix of feelings where I’m very keenly aware that I have a not entirely unexpected expense (I need to buy a new phone soon) and I know I should write something more saleable and that’s what came out. That piece in particular is like a piece I have out already in that it doesn’t end on a note that really engages with bigger issues. It is intimate in that at the end, we (reader and writer) are face to face, nose to nose breathing the same tainted air that came out of me.

Neither of these pieces (and at least one other that is in progress) is what I intended to write. I wanted to write something bigger, something that engages with the big issues. That at the end comes out like a powerful telling and calling to The Issue at hand. That’s not what happened.

For years, I have avoided writing intimately this way. Mainly because, I don’t always have the wherewithal to cut that deep in that way. I can write about being harassed and being a Black person in the world and what that is really like in this age. I tell myself this is because I’m good at Big Issues. I’m good at making the connection from my lived experience to racism and sexism etc. I know how to do that.

I also lie to myself and say that I’m not good at intimate. That showing my scars this way is not in my wheelhouse. Leave it to the famous lady writers who lead workshops on writing dangerously and writing from the body. I explain it to myself in terms of profit. They are already famous enough to do this and make it. Their bills are paid, mine are mostly but not comfortably. Their risk is as risk goes, not the type of risk that takes food out of their mouths. The risk for me is food off the table.

I tell myself, this is stupid. Why are you doing this? Why can’t you write to sell? Why can’t you write on spec? Why can’t you write something about lipstick that doesn’t involve Blackness or intersectionality? Why can’t you write something that will titillate just enough, but won’t burn? Why can’t you write timely? Why? Why? Why?

Rational writer me understands that these questions are part of my anxiety brain and will pass. That I know why, it’s just not what I do and logically that’s okay. There’s room in the big bad world for all of this and what I do. I know. Sometimes, it’s okay.

And then I poke around in my drafts and I see blood. Part of me sees it wasted, not profitable because I have bills to pay. Part of me sees freedom and my naked heart on a page in a way that baby me would have cherished. That part of me knows that while I have an aversion to pain porn it is important to be a vulnerable, sad, anxious, fucked up Black person with problems. That part of me knows that vacillating between being proud of me for saying HEY I AM FUCKED UP and being ashamed is natural and saying that I do vacillate between those things, is valid and necessary.

I know that.

I feel that, fuck it, I don’t know it, I feel it. That is the level of importance that representation means to me. I know that right now my 39 year old fucked up baby self can be conflicted about this and work on it and express it because that is part of who I am.

I am conflicted and wounded.

I beez in the trap.

I don’t say all of this to engender pity. Don’t feel sorry for me. Understand that my honesty about my situation in life, whatever it is and how I talk about it, isn’t’ about your  out eyes it is about mine. I have to remember that yeah, I’m poor and I’m terrible at ambition in the proscribed ways, and I’m bad at even nodding at journalism and I’m not palatable to a lot of people and it’s fucking great.

It’s not pleasant. It’s not lucrative. It’s not even easy 99% of the time.

But really, if I’m honest-

it is satisfying.

I think baby Shannon would maybe be disappointed that things like dayjobs and bills have an impact on the work but, baby Shannon would read all of this and feel it and feel seen and validated. So right now, I’m okay.

I’m anxious and a jittery shitbucket of terrible feelings-

but I’m all right.

The work hurt but I’m okay.

 

What had happened was.

So officially I’m working on a legit poetry book from Lark Books. No for real like they said my name and I feel like I can tell people, that’s one of the things I’ve been working on really hard.

Lily from Lark peer pressured me into it and it’s pretty fucking great. I find it really scary due to the fact that I still wrestle with considering myself like a real actual legit poet. I don’t know why I resist that so much, it scares me. My poems are not as, uh low key as I make them out to be.

I don’t know. It is the same kind of tension I feel with myself when I think about/talk about being an artist.

It’s scary because it’s vulnerability on a different level than other things. In my head poetry is art and art is being entirely not naked, but armorless.

So this his huge and scary. It is what I’ve spent 80% of my time writing.

The other 20% I’ve been writing some new essays. I’m working on one about all the shit White people say about diversity, inclusivity and whatnot in the literature and goddamn I’m sarcastic.

I’m also uh, working on the Daiyuverse and some fiction here and there.

So blogging has slowed all down, but shit is happening. I’ll post some stuff for funsies soon.

I love y’all.

Also, seriously, this coming month will be a great time to go throw down a buck a month for some Daiyuverse action. Shit is starting to heat up. I will likely release some of the new chapters/rewrites in my Etsy store down the line if folks aren’t keen on Patreon.

Okay, that’s kinda it for right now. I’m in the midst of a major energy crash that is a combo of perimenopause and a migraine that can’t decide if fuck my brain or fuck my brain twice.

Goodnight loves and stars. I miss y’all.

Puppies, Hugos and Good Lordt.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m referencing here have a look.

Looking at a lot of conversations in blogs etc about this whole shitshow y’all, if I’m going to be honest, it really makes me even more hesitant to enter the arena.

A lot of what I’ve seen said by whatever flavor of puppies is automatically booting work that I do out of hand because “message’ which I generally read to mean about anything but White straight men.

For me a lot of my fiction is escape. My non-fiction tends to draw the uh, day to day version of pupppies of one sort or another. The White men who email me to tell me how “loud” and “terrible SJW” I am because I write about my life and that often includes my Blackness. The same type who, when I was just a little online journal writing type, would first ask to see my tits or to meet up and when I said no would call me a nigger bitch.

These are the same type of dudes who will correct me about any number of dumb things usually ending with, well YOU’RE THE RACIST.

And I’ve been following this since it started.

Thing is, the fact that this is still a fucking problem that I watch a lot of authors I respect both personally and professionally either be very stressed out about this or show their racist ass.

I watch and read all the commentary and links. I read a lot of the books in question.

At this point, all this whole situation does is show me more reasons I don’t even want to fuck with the industry.

It’s not that I wouldn’t love getting paid for my genre work, reaching a wider audience and all that shit. I just don’t want it ruined. I don’t want yet another part of my literary life to be speckled with this flavor of bullshit.

Not too long ago I had a pretty good sized list of mags and whatnot that would help me in getting SFWA membership. I had stories ready to shiny up and fling out into the nerdverse. Now, nah.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got the same amount of side eye for the horror areas as well. Especially given some professional organization fuckery that occurred right after getting a pretty warm sell on joining up and getting back into the horror genre in a larger fashion.

I keep telling myself things like the following:

Posi Brain: No, it’ll totally be fine. You’re being paranoid not everything is awful.

Non Posi Brain: Bitch whet? You saw that last note, we got right? You’re being a dipshit. Nothing is fine. Everything is awful.

Remix- repeat.

All this said, I don’t think I’m gonna be fuckin with it. I am stressed out enough. I hear enough about ALL the reasons why anything I say ever whether fictional or not are, somehow the end of White men everywhere.

My audience isn’t huge nor are they throwing big dollars but, I feel like we get each other and that feels good.

That’s how I feel about it for the couple of people who’ve asked me. Basically, I see it and I don’t like it so I ain’t fuckin with it.

Now, speaking to my audience, oh hey you.

Rewrites on The Daiyu Saga have begun and if you want to see the second draft of my first urban fantasy novel as it goes along, all it takes is like 2$ a month and BOOM access to every chapter and love letter that goes along with it. Head over here to check it out.

In other news, I will have some new lit in the etsy shop soon and you can still get this bad bitch right here, for a few dollars. Come get all your life.

 

mfcover

On Pandering and a few Other thoughts.

I don’t feel like linking but there’s an essay going around about the lit world and I’ve seen a lot of fist pumping excitement about it.

My initial response was tepid.

Mainly because these are issues I know I’ve written and talked about and as usual, it’s another topic where I see a lot of folks get excited when a nice White lady says it, when I said it for years I got a lot of very shitty responses.

Part of that is because I don’t say it like this:

Let us not make people at the margins into scouts or spies for the mainstream. Let us stop asking people to speak for the entire cacophonic segment of humanity that shares their pigmentation, genitalia, or turn-ons.

Let us spend more time in those uncomfortable moments when our privilege is showing. Let us reflect there, let us linger, rather than recoil into the status quo.

I say things like yo this is racist.

I say, this is sexist.

I am not a nice White lady so when I buck up against the status quo I become a threat and a bully. White writers presume I don’t understand the differences between aesthetics, technically “good” writing, that I am a fascist and pro censorship, that my knee jerk reactions are bad, that my writing sucks, blablabla. All things that have been said to me personally in the comments, via messages on social media etc. A personal favorite from some dude I’ve never heard of via email, “You’re no Roxane Gay.”

No sir, I am not.

I understand why it is that my own work in regard to certain topics in publishing aren’t met with the same AWWW YEAH response that On Pandering was. I get it.

When Marlon James said that authors of color pander to White women I fist pumped.

My reasons for agreeing with that statement by itself, aren’t the same reasons he gave so let’s talk about that shall we?

Being a Black woman author, I’ve spent a lot of my time yes pandering to White women in lit.

In super seekrit supposedly feminist writer spaces where, I experienced some of the worst abuse, gaslighting and racism of my entire fucking life. Pure disrespect and a boot in the neck wearing White Privilege Nikes that I still feel the bruises from. I discovered yet another literary space where, solidarity and support and professional connections were promised so long as I maintained my Nice Negress face. It got to be straight up abuse and I flounced like a mother fucker to the point where I removed ALL links to my work at my own peril because fuck those people.

This was not one group it was most of them.

I spent months biting my tongue, politely educating, sharing my work on how not to be a fucking racist, and got a lot of bullshit in return.

I remember very clearly just prior to me rage quitting the big super seekrit lady group, a White woman writer/publisher/mover shaker sent me a very long private message on facebook detailing ALL the ways she had decided that because of my aggression (I said no to White women), my “unsisterly attitude” (I said no to White women who were demanding my emotional labor for free and with a smile) and the one that hurt me the most “if you weren’t so aggressive I would have read your piece” (after I linked this piece in a long and awful “discussion” about White women and racism) she went on to explain that she has connections in the industry and if my name came up in her circles she’d be sure to caution people about working with me because I did not lay down and get fucked by her and other White women writers Whiteness hard ons.

Since I removed myself from that group and most of the others associated with it, I’ve watched other WOC try so hard to not do what I did.

I watch them and we talk, and they cry and we all burn because unlike me a lot of the WOC writers I am connected have oceans more patience than I do.

The fact is, many White women are in fact gatekeepers. They might not be the gatekeepers of big house publishing, but as publishing in the trenches goes, they are. They are editors and in other positions where many WOC have to choose between pandering, indulging, pleasing those White women or staying true to their vision.

I’ve seen it happen time and again. WOC writers having to fight against “aesthetics” that prevent them from capitalizing or specifying Black, having editors change their work to the degree that it strips racial identity from it, being in a position where they don’t have enough power to really be demanding because let’s face it, if you are not a name authors it is an extra hill to climb to be able to get your work out AND be defiant.

I’ve watched WOC be pushed out of groups intended to be resources and sources of support and opportunity because they got too uppity and refused to be silent when bullshit was bullshit.

It’s happened to me.

I’m sure it’s happened to a lot of us.

So yes, YES many of us have to pander.

We have to learn how to navigate places where Whiteness is wielded like a weapon and it is our opportunities to be published being held hostage. It is fucking up our livelihoods.

So, while we’re all fist pumping about “pigmentation differences” remember that a lot of us who are not name authors, we’re not midlist, you’ve probably never heard of us are already in the trenches. Maybe start with paying attention to what the fuck we’ve been saying for years.

Then fist pump.

Or you know, do something.

Genre Bending Problems.

We know I’m not the most constant when it comes to genre writing. I like to use whatever the story calls for and frequently that means writing in a way that is not standard for whatever genre.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is also a writer and a rabid fan of urban fiction, SF/F and Horror and she is kind of upset about the difficulty I’ve had over the years getting published in those realms.

Generally speaking my first instinct when I don’t manage to get stories into genre publications has been okay, well it’s just not good enough, after all they published X author’s piece and that was amazing.

After that passes, I realize that most of my problem/good thing is that I do genre bend.

While that makes for my work having its own little thing, that is not a thing that a lot of publications are fuckin’ with.

So I hole up and work on stuff. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not super into workshops, but I do have some trusted beta readers and often their responses are like YES YES YES.

However, industry reactions have been tepid. I have gotten some amazing rejections that had the ever hard to come by feedback. One for my story Bernie’s Warg, (BY AND THE WAY, this is my low key way of telling you for Happy Spoopy October, I’m relisting some stuff at Etsy) was that the story was gorgeous, great mix of cultures, but stepped too far (I typed fart… how apt) out of the bounds of the genre of the magazine and there was too much horror.

A horror mag said almost the same thing, but too much of the fantasy.

All in the original long version of Bernie’s Warg got it about 20 rejections, about 5 rewrites, cut about 4K words and the industry still don’t want it.

Folks who’ve read it have enjoyed it.

Now a few years ago I’d have just tucked it away and been sad.

These days breaking into these publications and in genre fiction is not really so important to me. I know how to put stuff out by myself. I know my work is worth a few bucks.

I’m starting to figure out that I will likely not get into the magazines I love so much because I write the way I do. I have tried to change that, to study and emulate more of the traditional forms in the genres I love but it’s unnatural. It’s not really my voice.

It’s my voice speaking, someone else’s words.

I have to thank working with Milcah for me being so comfortable in this position. While my case to be published slowed before we started working together, I felt so weird about it. I felt uncomfortable with my decisions and like I was doing it wrong.

While yes, I want to sell a novel someday.

Yes, I still want to write some great American novel.

Yes, I still want to write a vampire novel.

YES, I still write short stories.

I’m just doing it at my own pace on my own terms and that’s okay.

I don’t have to do things the way other folks do them. And that’s okay too.

Now my darling homiepies.

That’s now a thing, I’m calling everyone homiepie.

I have SO much work to do.

Tomorrow look out for yeah write.

Also later this week a super important announcement.

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.