Nerdy Nerdy- Use of the Chorus and stuff.

HI babes. Let’s pretend it is all fine and talk. We’re doin Real fuckin Hot Nerd Shit bitch.

SO first thing also some awesome announcements.

An anthology I’m in titled Would But Time Await is coming out later this year from Haverhill House. This was my first try at Folk Horror and I am absolutely amazed to be in an anthology with so much talent. For real it is a hella good book.

It is extra good news because that submission was my first in the horror world in about five years. Also I worked so damn hard on that piece because I had a vision and the editors even when a few things didn’t make sense, they worked to understand and leave my story. I’m so happy.

Second good news. I wrote a SUPER difficult for me because I was experimenting thing. It is a chonky light sf, post apocalyptic, Black, Queer lil sploosh of horror fucking love story. A LOVE STORY. A bite and a link.

“What were you saying?” Khalid/a was smiling, flashing a gold tooth. “Are you serious about babies?” They nodded, still smiling. “We have a lot of savings and I may or may not have found us a place. You wanna see?” Viola’s face lit up from within, she made her cute squealy noises until Khalid/a sat up and reached for one of their tablets. Khalid/a opened the photo collection they’d been hiding in a subfolder of junk. Viola’s little intake of vibrational breath tickled against their arm.

We’ll nerd about that later on.

NOW let’s get down on the Chorus.

My first exposure to the Chorus was when I read Oedipus Rex when I was in the 7th grade. I’d just finished reading King Lear for the first time and I wanted a new challenge. Gosh I loved Greek lit at that age. I still love the idea of the Greek tragedy. I love to play with it in varying ways. WHOA if you’ve been with me for a while, don’t stare at me like that. I don’t hate the WHOLE literary canon gosh.

Okay so why am I using the device of the Chorus in an urban fantasy novel? It is weird but hear me out.

One of the things I love in a movie is knowing a lot as I’m in the position of knowing a lot of shit voyuer. Not quite an omniscient POV but more like, the level of knowing that means you cringe and yell at the TV, DON’T GO IN THERE. I really want the usefulness of say a VO but not that.

Now how about a look at the Chorus as they are in this iteration of the Daiyuverse?

Many of the witches of the world we’re sure are gasping in horror. How dare we malign the great mother. How dare we show such a lack of sufficient awe for the green and sorrowful wickedness of nature themselves. That is fine. We know. Many of us held our own Goddesses so close. We carried their effigies on our backs, we laid ourselves open from crotch to bowels for her.

We understand. We respect and love the holiest of things and we also love it enough to see it for what it is. Magic is nature and nature is, was and will end up being the most wonderful thing in our many worlds. We know. Many of us still find ourselves prostrate in prayer or washing the feet of prostitutes forever because our faith remains and holds to the immense power of our mother and our father. 

Mather? Fomther? We have no right word. It doesn’t matter.

We digress. As always.

What matters is that Tombstone made as much sense as Babylon and Lothal the Kingdom of Kush and at the feet of Shaka and cuddled to the breast of Nefertiti, in Xi’an, Lothal and many other places. Our point is the beginning of anything is a filthy terrible business and riddled with garbage from the end, that is okay. It is as things must be.

Now, within the text I’m left justifying their text because I want it to be very apparent how not of the same world the rest of the characters are. The Chorus is a character of themselves, they are a kind of meandering will tell you stuff but in their own good time sort of character.

In terms of methodology and fitting this into the structure here is how things are looking right now. I have notes about this to keep myself on task.

Chapters include individual character stuff, I’m not doing first person in this go round to help keep things on task for myself.

Within the chapters we get to see/deal with various characters. I was gonna do character headings for that but I hated it so no.

I’m using some epistolary type elements in the text as well. Journal entries, some prayers, prophecy and center justifying those.

The chorus has their own heading and as you see justification.

In my fantasies, an audioversion of this book would be a full cast production. Full cast but not rewritten as a teleplay. Read full cast. I don’t even know if that specifically is a thing but it is the thing I’d want.

Interestingly, I had used the Chorus in the original iteration of the Daiyuverse. I thought it was not appropriate for urban fantasy because…reasons?

Fuck that.

I was talking to another writer yesterday and my mantra in terms of writing is, do what the fuck you want. Try it.

I am going to -try- to do a promised to friends vid about this but really. I keep saying, if you wanna try something try it. It might suck. That’s okay if it sucks. It might be awesome. If you are self isolating, this is a perfect time to let yourself play.

Now, another lil bite from the ‘verse and a link.

A few drops in his glass, she watched it swirl into the amber liquid before turning to offer his drink. “Come on Possum, drink up big boy.” She fed him the drink, holding his head gently and letting the liquid pour between his lips. His eyelids fell to half-mast and she murmured, “yes, that’s it. Let Mama take care of you. That’s right, drink it all up Possum.” 

She’d had his cards and aura read long before she’d let him see the goodies. He was ripe to be controlled, easily influenced and in dire need of a fine, heftily bodied lovermother. Once the drink was down his gullet she let him lean his head on her breast and snake his arms around her hips, he pressed his cheek to her belly and hummed as content as any milk drunk babe at a breast. 

Ida Marie normally wouldn’t allow any man, such intimacies but, she liked her Possum. Really, Howard as a sweet man. So lost and unhappy with himself but at the same time so full of tender exuberant love. She stroked his head. “Ida Marie, my sweet. You are a balm for my soul. Oh, how I love you.” The tincture she’d dropped into his drink was getting him right where she needed him.

See more here and get ALL the access for 1$+ a month. No tiers, all access, no bullshits.

 

 

Some Craft Notes from the Daiyuverse.

Hello friend.

In case you don’t know what the title references let’s talk about that. The Daiyuverse is the patreon based project I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

TL:DR it is an ongoing novel/lla about a Black queer magical girl named Daiyu. It is urban fantasy that takes place in Seattle, down the west coast etc.

What I’m doing is wanting to show how the sausage is made. One of the things I could never grasp as a writer was the how books are born. We don’t get to see Stephen Kings (aside from twitter) fuck ups. For 1$+ I’m giving a new whole ass story thing and you get a front row seat to how it happens.

That means, readers get to read my all caps freak outs, notes to self, parts I hate all of it. Unedited and raw.

Now you got the basics. For a while I did what I call cycles. I have this undying love of a big world to write in and instead of doing a traditional novella as planned, I called them Cycles. I was really wanting to create a sort of not quite linked short stories but things you could read out of order and the story would still be awesome.

In Cycle 1 I was working off of quite literally a finished Nanowrimo project with the same characters and my original characters for my cast of main characters. I didn’t know what I was doing.

I got upset with what I was doing and scrapped Cycle 1 and started Cycle 2. I was playing a lot with the order of things, the POVs and a lot of stuff and last month well, I decided Cycle 2 was also finito.

SO Last month on Patreon I announced and posted that we’re doing a whole ass real book. WHOA.

I’m using cycles 1 & 2 as well as very old stuff I wrote related to it for research material.

Now one of the best parts about doing Patreon for me as a creator has been getting to play. Through my attempts at freelance and some other stuff, the Daiyuverse has been what I do to unwind. It is the writer at play. It is a real life look at how I create and how I make stories. How I make mythos.

Now the most exciting part of this iteration of the verse is that, it starts out in fucking Tombstone AZ in the 1800s. I had notes from last year about how I wanted to use that location and some other stuff I’d taken out. So WE STARTIN OVER.

An excerpt:

In town as Nathan was being welcomed into the Emryss household, a high yellow beauty woman was escorted off the 1 PM stagecoach, the man waiting for her took his hat off and everyone saw the smitten idiot grin. “Ida, my Ida you made it. I’m so happy.” She allowed him to take her gloved hand and kiss it, she felt the weight of eyes on them and when she turned her head to meet the gaze of a frowning priss in an ugly blue dress she smiled, wide and sunny as all outdoors. 

“Hello my love.” Her raspy little baby voice sent a pure chill down the man’s spine. She was just as perfect as she’d been when he found her in New Orleans and fell head over heels in love. From her bright tignon to her big black doe eyes she was just, everything he remembered and more. “Ida, I’ve got the room you requested and if you’ll just follow me, we’ll get you settled.” 

Ida Marie Rufus walked with her back straight and her head up, she felt the looks and met each with cool ease. The man at her elbow continued to yammer about her room, the mines, the wild nights she only paid half attention, the man was a means to her arrival, and he’d served most of his purpose. They passed a bustling brothel and she could feel the spellwork, they slowed, and she smiled at a doe eyed black-haired beauty leaning against a pillar.

“Hi pretty.” The woman had a drawl and her carmine lips promised sins Ida might have been tempted by had she not had work to do. She smiled back and nodded, “afternoon ma’am.” The look that passed between them had recognition and knowledge, hustlers know hustlers and witches know witches. The man immediately had the idea he’d take Ida to the saloon later, he’d heard things about women like her, especially the ones from New Orleans and the doves in Tombstone had just as wild a reputation.

That is from the beginning. I also brought back the use of the chorusdevice from the original. I’ve always loved that part of Greek tragedy and in this ‘verse have wanted to make them their own character because I want the reader to know most of everything. It might not be clear but I’m imagining folks reading and just yelling at the story, OMG NO DON’T.

Another thing I’ve used the Daiyuverse for is experimentation. Play. I’ve used the universe as a backdrop for other stories. For instance I wrote a Daiyu story called The Beloved of Colel Cab. A queer teen romance story. My first and so far only.

See me read it here:

Or since the audio is low read it here. 

And I’ve also used Daiyu and a set of characters created by a friend to explore a more bad witch, Lovecraft influenced horror series over at Wattpad. There are four parts so far to Deacon and Daiyu- Adventures in the Daiyuverse. Those stories are absolutly grown folks biz.

So let’s talk about what I’m doing with Daiyu now. Starting the real deal novel I decided I wanted to set the stage. It is magical, brown, queer and my goal is to really set the stage for the next part of the adventure. I’m planning on this portion lasting about a quarter of the book so the reader, (omg that’s YOU) has this kind of broad view of how shit got started.

I’m working off of the original magical theory and questions I had.

What if, magic is all over? What if, some POC got together to preserve their ancestral magics and learn how to magically defend themselves from bad things? What if, there is every “cycle” (for our purposes a cycle is not a measure of number of years but of who is a living person in the world) there are some people who can do a kind of magic that is either (cliche) world saving or world ending?

What do you do?

What if that witch is one of your kids?

How does magic work? etc etc.

I’ve been so excited about it, I’ve almost got a FULL thing about how magic in the Daiyuverse works and how I came up with it. That will be a Patreon extra in May. I will also be offering up a spreadsheet of the cast of characters for Patrons.

I’ll probably be adding more Daiyu related stories around.

So that’s the big announcement. Feel free to go check it out. Some of y’all might be saying BUT SHANNON what to we actually get?

For 1$+ per month (I only have one tier I am VERY committed to keeping this as financially accessible as I can) you get everything I post at patreon. Generally it is at the very least 3k+ words or so of the story and a letter. Some months I may post extras. I don’t have a schedule for this because frankly my readership there was not into it and I don’t want it to suck for folks.

So go check it out. Share it with friends who like hella Black, hella Queer magic. And maybe weird western stories.

thanks babes!

A Peek into the Daiyuverse

Hello darlings.

Here I present you with part of a more difficult part of the Daiyuverse Cycle 2. Writing and introducing this character was really hard for me. In this section we meet Daiyu’s first ex wife Nanita. In this cycle Daiyu and folks in her world are youngish, not quite total adults yet.

Here’s the chunk and after we’ll talk some about Nanita and her magic.

She winced when she felt the cold bony fingers of her mother’s shade pinch her ear. 

“Girl, don’t you sass me. Now, you know what you need to do. Get to work, she ain’t ready and things are comin’ on.” 

She smiled at the reflection of her Mother. 

“Yes ma’am.” 

Later after Nanita’s baby had been fed, settled in a warm place and was asleep they sat on the back porch. The air was warm and pleasant, the night gently noisy.  

“Did you have a nice conversation with your Daddy?” 

Nanita tipped her head back and closed her eyes, listening to the chatter of bugs and the soft lap of the water. 

“Yeah. He said he’s about done for the month and is coming home. Y’all gonna try again?” 

Her cautious tone hurt. Her Mama sighed heavily. 

“It’s not that we gotta try honey. Your Daddy and I love each other very much we just, can’t live together. I won’t bullshit you, sometimes loving each other ain’t enough. It is better for all of us if he and I don’t live together.” 

Nanita nodded, frowning.  

“So, can I ask you something?” 

“Mmhmm go ahead.” 

“You can do that? Like, you don’t have to get a divorce or something?” 

Mama shrugged. 

“I don’t see what good that would do. Neither of us wants to be dating other people. Since we worked out how to get along, things have been good. We don’t fight no more, we make good decisions about you. When we do spend time together it’s good. I think things are just fine.” 

“But how can you be married but like, not together?” 

“Because we grown. Our marriage is what it is and it works for us. Nobody gets to tell us how to be married.” 

“But there’s rules and shit isn’t there?” 

Mama shrugged, made a dismissive gesture. 

“I mean people can say there are rules but, they ain’t my rules so I don’t care. You want to hear the best advice I ever got in my life?” 

Nanita sat up and nodded. She really loved it when her Mama decided to dispense her lessons. 

“If they ain’t fuckin you, paying your fuckin’ bills, or otherwise in a position of power over you, fuck ’em.” 

Nanita clapped a hand over her mouth, eyes wide. Her Mother did not habitually curse, muchless drop the F Bomb in conversation at least not in front of her.  

“Wha- who said that to you?” 

Mama smiled. 

“Your grand mother, my Mama. Mama Jay. First time I came home cryin, because a bunch of light skint fake voodoo queens made fun of me at a gathering. I didn’t have fancy cards or crystals or nothin. I was so hurt and upset. Mama Jay let me cry a while then she made me some coffee and sat me down for one of her come to Mama conversations.” 

Mama smiled as she remembered and as she looked at her daughter’s bright face she saw her own Mother’s eyes. 

“So, we sat just like this, and she looked me dead in my eye and said, fuck those bitches. Then she spat, you remember Mama Jay chewed somethin’ terrible, she spat over the railing and said it again and clapped her hands real hard.” 

Nanita was bug eyed but nodding. She didn’t have many memories of Mama Jay but enough to be able to picture the conversation. It made her smile. 

“She taught me that our magic, don’t come in a pretty package. All the expensive shit in the world is no substitute for what’s real. So, fuck em.” 

Now in my magical system I have Nanita labeled thusly:

Sorceress, mastery over water, unknown

For my purposes, sorcery and witchery are two very different things. For my world here, sorcery is where magic starts to go beyond the known edges of the worlds. In this world sorcery and magic are related like adding and theoretical physics are. They are both math but one is in my brain, way way out on the edge of the universe and the other is right here in my hand.

In my magical system, there is space for the theoretical and the every day practical and that is what as we travel through this verse, will keep us all in the same world. I personally find the idea of incorporating these various magics in a way that gives voice to things that resemble Hoodoo and things that are more like the mythos of various cultures. I want witches who run the gamut and as I imagine it, will represent magic on a very grand scale.

Let’s talk Nanita herself.

So, Nanita started out in my original material as a whole other woman and as Daiyu’s bestie from Brazil. I decided against that because I really want Cycle 2 to be a bit of a coming of age AND some romance and other young adult shit that is hard WITH the magic and stuff.

Now Nanita could have been a very cookie cutter light skint voluptuous Voodoo queen but, I really didn’t want that. I was inspired by hearing her in my head. I’ve talked about this before but a good number of my characters speak in my brain and I was hearing a very broad, slightly slurry Louisana back country accent. It’s a very particular sound and I was thinking of her as a young adult, awkward. Very different from Daiyu in both her upbringing and how she learns her magic.

The upbringing of Nanita and how I want to illustrate her relationship with her parents was really hard for me to figure out. Nanita is very sensitive, (OKAY here is another bite) this tidbit will be one I hope folks think of later on in the verse:

Nanita must have been out there for an hour, she came in, tears gone and cradling a tiny alligator. 

“Mama this one is sick. I gotta see if I can get her to eat. She wouldn’t take the marshmallows, we got any of that fish wet catfood?” 

Her Mama frowned at her from where she stood at the stove dispensing dirty rice onto plates. 

“Don’t tell me you want to bring that gator into the house.” 

Nanita’s plump light brown face sagged, her chin started to quiver and her huge black eyes filled with impending tears. 

“But Mama, Hubie is just a little baby and Delicious can’t take care of him. I can’t just let him die.” 

Before her Mom could respond, Nanita was blubbering and holding the little alligator to her cheek, she keened about how it was so defenseless and just a sharp little baby bunny and how she just had to rescue it. Had to. The dramatics weren’t really necessary but she was her Father’s child. Mama rolled her eyes. 

Writing that level and type of sensitivity with some humour and gentleness. I want you the reader to feel the sort of amused love, a firm support system for Nanita to be a weepy baby sorceress. I really want to set her up to explain and illustrate how her magic works later on and as a counter point to Daiyu emotionally speaking.

Daiyu will have to be a tragic magical Black girl for a while because she needs to learn.

I’ve been experimenting with Nanita for a while and you can read some standalone adventures with her. I’m using some standalone stuff that links to/is adjacant to the Daiyuverse. I mainly use these are exercises and character sketches.

If you want to know more, you too can get monthly Daiyuverse served up hot for as little as a buck a month. A DOLLAR for about three thousand Daiyuverse words and now, a featured essay or extra thing per month so that’s like around five thousand words.

Check it out here.

 

Staying in my Lane- Patreon reprint.

Enjoy a reprint for free from my patreon. To get the file referenced, click here.

 
First, please have a look at this amazing blog post
I was directed to it by K. Tempest Bradford  and have had it bookmarked because the questions in it for non-native authors really got me. Inside my ongoing project the Daiyuverse, several of our main characters are native. I have yet to get into their personal cultures/where they are from because I have plans for it. 
That said, I also am very concerned with staying in my lane. I want to talk about one of the questions from that post. 
Why did you select this particular tribal nation for your story? 
Without revealing too much I want to talk about why I chose X people from the PNW as the tribe of my Crow family. 
First up, it took me sitting down and comparing dates and plot elements and quite frankly location. I have a bit of knowledge about Indigenous people from the PNW. I really wanted to focus one of the Coast Salish peoples because geographically, it works with my needs in creating this work. 
Now, specifically what are those needs? 
  • Representation in an urban fantasy setting.  
  • To explore the impacts of colonization and assimilation on magical POC.  
Those two are uppermost in my thoughts. While I was doing research on creating my native characters, I started to look at the late 1890’s and the forced removal of Native children from their homes during that time. I had read an article about Native boys being forced to cut their hair last year and something clicked for me. I want to go back to that period in time in WA and (we’re getting to it in the verse) follow the fallout from being a victim of that practice to the creation of a space to counteract it. 
I come back to the original question quite often. The way I am working with my native characters, I feel that because I am not working from the perspective of trying to be an expert or speak for these peoples, I can tell this particular story. On one hand, I worry very deeply that I’m on entirely the wrong track here. I in no way want to position myself as an authority or one of those bhole types who thinks just because they can, they should. 
That said, I do want to talk more about why a large part of my cast is native. I really felt like in this world, creating The Institute would play a vital role in the idea of reclamation I thought who that I might meet in the Meat World, would benefit from that here in Seattle. I thought immediately of native people. I was partly inspired by a man I met who is native and we had a really great conversation about how so many of his own relatives were still cut off from their culture and how so many of us Brown folks just don’t have our cultures and myths close to us. 
With that conversation in mind, as well as having followed a lot of the fails of (generally speaking) White authors who decide to write a culture and position themselves as an authority and knowing how terribly that often goes, I am treading carefully and working to stay in my damn lane. My goal with these characters is to have them going through the entirely human struggle of reconnecting with their own roots and using The Institute (in this iteration of the ‘verse we are JUST getting to it) as a counter to assimilation. 
Writing extra-culturally especially when it comes to my fellow POC, is something I am still not sure is the best idea. On one hand, my plot arc for these characters is (at least so far) human first and foremost. They are whole living beings who are not trapped by the Mystical Native (or Negro) tropes. They have some foibles, we don’t know the whole of their history yet but, it is coming. 
I want to quote further from the blog post linked up top: 
The Devil is in the details . . . and the overall tone. Authors can have all their facts historically correct according to accepted sources available. But it is the interpretation of the facts into a story that makes the book harmful or helpful. I’ve seen a number of books that get most of the ‘facts’ correct, but the overall tone is that of stereotypes (which may be difficult for non-Indian writers, agents and editors to see when that has been the prevailing mode of American Indian representation). I’d highly recommend that agents and editors read the Revised Criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti­-Indian Bias. Reading a manuscript through that lens and thinking deeply about Eurocentrism and colonialism will make all the difference. You can find guidelines, suggestions, statistics and a number of resources here at Writing
About Native Americans. It is a long post (as was this).  
Bolding for emphasis. 
My decisions as I work in this ‘verse are deeply influenced by the bolded. I am very mindful that I have the potential to cause harm and am doing the work not to do that. As I get further into the lives of the Crow family, I will start to include more specifics. Where they come from, how they got their names, what the curse on their family is about. I don’t want to spoil things but, most of the hardship they have gone through is a direct result of one of those forced boarding schools. 
I’m being a bit vague because we’re not quite there yet in terms of the story and I don’t want to give too much away. I am getting into some of the back history (before our heroine Daiyu is born) and honoring my native characters and their histories and culture has been uppermost in my mind. 
I’ll revisit this again when we start going back in time some more.  
For now, how about a peek at who I’m talking about here? 
First up Papa. Who along with Daiyu is as far as characters go, essential and part of the backbone of this whole universe.  
I’m keeping a neato spreadsheet with my characters, their full names, associations, list of magical abilities and other notes. I’m not going to give you everything but here’s a taste:
Papa Crow- 
Magical Abilities (so far, subject to change) Cursed-Prolonged life. Powers: charm, tactical aggressive magicks including but not limited to: elemental control, telekinesis, low level telepath (possible mentalist)- 
Nick Names- Papa, Old Crow, Crow, Bird, Nathan
Misc- Daiyu’s God father, estimated age between 180-300 years old, very good liar
Father Crow-
Magical Abilities- Lesser prolonged life curse. Summoning, Apothocary, traditional herbal healing, elemental magics, seer, demonaic tongue
Nick Names- Crow Jr, Black Wing, Joshua
Misc-Papa Crows grandson, inheritor of the Institute
Maria Crow-
Magical Abilities- Demoniac tongue, World walker
Nick Names- Maria- TBA
Misc- Father Crow/Joshua’s biological Mom
~
That isn’t everyone in the family.  
To wrap up, I am still so excited about this world I’m creating. I am very mindful of the temptation to just write what the fuck I wanna write and damn what anybody else feels but that’s not really who I am as a creator.  I am challenging myself here and putting a lot of trust in my readers to let me know if I’ve fucked up.
Does this tickle your fancy?
How about a bite from the current iteration of the Daiyuverse?
Download the PDF to get a context free look at some stuff happening in the Daiyuverse. Want to read more?
One buck a month gets you access to the full novella in progress, usually a love letter or an essay or an extra goodie.
Also, your contributions are real live, tactit change. Your support helps actual human beings and that’s pretty cool.
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Staying in my lane and some other noodling.

Over at Patreon I posted a chapter from my OG Daiyuverse and talked a bit about a chunk of plot I took out of the story. Here have a looksy.

I want to talk a bit more about staying in my lane and how I’m looking to pull inspiration from other cultures in this particular verse.

My particular situation arose from a subplot involving a cultural misunderstanding between a Creole Skinwalker and a young Navajo man over the name Skinwalker. The Creole boys people are able to literally walk in the skin of animals by psychically occupying their consciousness. Navajo Skinwalkers are not that in any way.

While I was making notes and researching this, my uppermost concern was that I wasn’t just being appropriative and grabby because it could make for a shiny bit of conflict. I am working really hard on creating ways of bringing together disparate cultures and creating magical traditions within those cultures and not falling on OH MAGICAL NEGRO tropes.

This bit of storyline in particular, I think I can do without being disrespectful, but in terms of the Daiyuverse it may not happen there. I’m not trying to be hamfisted about it. Also, I wasn’t entirely ready to talk about things like tribal solidarity and how that wound function in a sort of pancultural thing like The Institute, how could a Navajo sorcerer reconcile sharing his cultural religious practices AND his magic with outsiders?

I didn’t have answers for that so- bloop plotline put aside.

And this is where I say, I’m gonna stay in my damn lane.

Too many writers I see decide to take something shiny from a culture and run with it without there being a foundation of understanding of both the shiny bits and the struggles of a culture. Personally, I think that is how we wind up with so many Magical Negroes, and sooper spiritual Native folks etc. Too many people don’t take the time to dig deeper and work from a space where yes, YAY magical and brown, but also, this is shit going on within that culture that would shape this character.

For me, this is where I’ve seen things like the Strong Black Woman that don’t need nobody tropes come from and flourish. Even other Black writers can fall into the trap of wanting so badly to create a bad ass amazing character, that they forget that nobody can be that all the time. In the need to defy negative stereotypes, folks forget the squishy bloodiness that makes us human and characters become cardboard cutouts.

I’m currently re-reading Midnight Taxi Tango: A Bone Street Rumba by  my homie Daniel José Older and this is an area where I will point to and say LOOK at how he builds the humanity of his characters through their moments of weakness. In his universe, he’s populated this book with bad ass killers. These are mother fuckers you should be afraid of.

My personal favorite character Reza (if you haven’t read the book read this short and meet her) is one of the folks to be scared of. She’s confident and a gangster and through her swag and gun toting badassery, we see her afraid. We get to see her heart aching for Angie. We see her in full vengeance mode and she’s a person. 

Daniel took what could have been a badass butch cardboard cutout of a gangster and gave her a pulse.

In the context of my own work, especially within this urban fantasy Seattle/US I’m building, I’m paying close attention to the people who are inhabiting this world. I want them to have life and pulses and I don’t want to reread what I’ve done and wind up rolling my eyes cause I’ve not taken enough care to incorporate what I feel is important into the framework of these people.

I’m also taking an opportunity to poke some meta fun at Whiteness tropes. Especially in terms of the hippy dippy pretendian White lady fucking things up with her ignorance and sealioning (I JUST learned that word and it fit so perfectly in what I had notes about doing) causing problems with the legit magical culture in this world. I’m also doing it in an urban fantasy short that makes fun of the Whiteness of Elves type fantasy and the justification of it being “tradition”.

An interesting side effect of not only Turnip Winning but also of my own reactions and health is that, I’ve found a certain freedom I’ve not felt before and I’ll talk about it more when I don’t have a cold.

That’s all for right now y’all. I’m at work and really tired and about to pound coffee and pie until my teeth vibrate.

I will probably be doing some more process/craft nerdery soon because I have many thoughts.

Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review

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Yes this is a big ass image. But LOOK AT THIS FUCKING COVER.

This is my review of Daniel Jose Older’s Midnight Taxi Tango. First, I recommend going back here and reading my review of the first novel in this series Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel

Ahem.

The short version goes like this. I devoured about half the novel when it came in the mail, threw it on the floor and just sat muttering, “this motherfucker right here…” it is an excellent follow up to Half-Resurrection Blues. If grown folks urban fantasy and magic is what you like, this shit right here is what you want.

Okay, so I’m going to put a read more cause thar b spoilers and it’s about to get nerdy as hell up in here.

No, seriously, I’m about to dork out on a whole other level and if you want to not witness my nerd meltdown.

Y’all been warned.

Continue reading “Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review”

Some thoughts on Genre Fiction, the reader who also writes edition.

Okay for my purposes and thought processes, when I say genre fiction I’m including Horror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, SF, Spec fit etc.

I started reading the last in the Borderland series of anthologies this week. The whole reason I wanted to read it was because I heard Nalo Hopkinson’s piece in it via Podcastle and wanted more of that world.

I also did some research and whatnot and I’m having a problem with this book already.

I learned a bit more about the background of this world and everything and was really looking forward to it.

Going from the impression I got in Nalo Hopkinson’s story, I thought there would be more POC. Four stories in, there aren’t really.

I realize this is supposed to be YA but I had to stop at one point while a White character was giving a character from India the ever charming “but where are you really from” type speech.

I’ve also been sighing with the number of white coded halfies/elves with dreads.

And just like every other fantasy related thing save for the story I already know, everything is White coded for the most part.

I’m sad.

I’m not saying any of the stories are bad. They aren’t really. I also (four stories deep) see that within this framework of interconnected stories and locations, I have yet to see any of the other stories characters interact in a meaningful way with the characters from Nalo Hopkinson’s characters and that feels low key gross to me.

Again my ability to enjoy a fantastical world is pretty broken up because I do feel like there isn’t anything ground breaking about White Elves, with Blonde Hair who are super slim and beautiful and wait REMEMBER THEY ARE WHITE.

Now I have been expanding my reading a bit and doing some study on “Urban” Fantasy.

I’ve been comparing some of the feedback about my own urban fantasy with what I know about the genre.

Several people have said that one of my stories ‘relies too much on horror’ (though it deals wit mythos, Gods, and yes some violence) yet, when I read about the history of the genre and read about the conventions used in the literature, I see a lot of vampires and distinctly horror conventions being included.

Further, I don’t do romance. So there is that.

I thought that writing Urban Fantasy means for me that I can explore the way culterally divergent mythos can blend, how I can use mythos and conventions in a way that is not so firmly rooted in the European/Norse/etc canon.

When I hear the same type of feedback from various sources, I tend to work on whatever it is by researching, reading, rewriting etc.

What I’m finding as I’m doing that with my genre fiction is a pretty strong message that a lot of genre fiction can stand stepping outside of the conventions including those Euro/White roots only so far.

Even when I have conversations about what I’m writing about with a few folks, I have felt the discomfort surrounding my ideas and execution of those ideas.

Also a bit of pushback because this is genre for grown folks. Strippers, street life, in cities, unitalicized Spanish (watch the linked video it is great), etc etc.

I have been spending some time asking for recommendations to read here and there.

Out of four spots with different readers/authors I’ve asked for SF/F/Horror/Spec fic recs for books, magazines and writers.

Every list of recommendations I’ve gotten is the same.

The list of recommended authors is the same give or take one or two. They are all authors, magazines, books I like and some I love.

But is that really all?

My parameters are as follows:

  • POC friendly
  • Not necessarily romance focused
  • Queer focused/friendly.

That is pretty much it.

Given that what I’ve been writing does not really fit into what I’ve been reading in the genre world, as time goes on I am pretty sure I will put some stuff out myself because granted there are a few literary oriented magazines I know of who like the slipstream and genre flavored but most of the literary world shits itself if something is too genre.

I don’t know.

The other side of this problem is that as a reader, I’m just so disappointed so often. If  I’m rolling my eyes because all the Whitey White White WHITE creatures have dreads or give a nod to brown people, or every time there is the Most Magical of Negroes, or whatever it is that just reinforces the idea of the box that genre likes to sit in like an angry cat, I’m just not really reading as much as I want to.

Shit is hard.

I’m disappointed and tired.

That said I am going to keep working on my genre shit. Playing with Gods who step outside their Pantheons (somehow totally okay when Gaiman does it right?), Elven mythos that is not tall white and skinny.

Black fairies.

Shapeshifters trying to live in the modern world.

Yanno.

That shit I like.

Okay that’s all. I’m tired and want to write more.