1/15/2017: Revolution and Postage Stamps

Hey there!

I’m absolutely bursting with ideas after spending a week in a warm, jungle-filled, blue-oceaned paradise, totally immersed in a writerly atmosphere. I can’t wait to share some of them with you over the next week or two!

First thing though: I overestimated how much time I’d have in Jamaica to work on Ninja Writers stuff. I’m just not ready to start the 31 Days of Using Medium series tomorrow. I’m super sorry about that. It’ll start on the first of February (and probably be 28 days!) The good news is that there’s still time to sign up!

Here are some things I found share worthy this week:

1) I spent a lot of time this week, while I was disconnected from almost every thing, thinking about publishing and how I’d really just love to subvert it entirely. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this subject soon, but for now I came across this article on Submittable about how to treat your book like a start-up. This quote resonated especially: “With a book, I’d just put a bunch in your backpack and walk through a neighborhood and try to sell a few. Just do it for 30 minutes every day and see what happens.” My motto for 2017 is just see what happens, (I have it tacked to my cork board and everything) so it felt like magic to come across it in this context. Speaking of, Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl is a very good book on the subject of taking control of your book.

2) In my continuing recent obsession with teensy-weensy indie publishing, otherwise (and more 1990s-wise) known as zines, I read Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk this week. It’s palm-sized, adorable, and packed with all kinds of information about producing zine. And now I’m utterly enthralled with the idea of starting a Ninja Zine distro (which is Zine talk for distribution.) Like Zine-O-Matic, only the subscription envelope would be full of zines produced by Ninjas. Do you have a zine? Are you interested in making one? Hit reply and talk to me!

3) Since I’m in a revolutionary frame of mind, I thought I’d share this with you. Amy Pence-Brown is one of my daughter Adrienne’s professors at BSU. She stood in the middle of a Boise, Idaho outdoor market in her bikini — just to see what would happen. She’s an advocate for body acceptance, which is a subject close to my heart. (Also, she inspired my kid, which makes her a hero to me.) You can read Amy’s blog here.

4) BOOKS: My MFA program requires me to read 10 books per month. That, my friend, is a LOT of reading. This week I’m reading A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademtrieu, who was my mentor last semester. It’s a funny, sweet middle grade story that I’m enjoying greatly. I’m also reading Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon as my craft book for this month. Kleon’s Ted Talk is one of my favorites. He also has a fantastic newsletter, one of the few that I look forward to every week. (I totally stole his format. Like an artist.) I actually ran out of things to read in Jamaica and for some unknown reason the only book downloaded to my new Kindle (don’t ask me why I brought it without actually putting something on it) was a book called Survival Mom. It’s a survivalist manual for moms. It was terrifying on so many levels. (I actually found myself taking notes in my Bullet Journal. And feeling the itch to write another dystopian story.)

5) TV: I didn’t watch much TV this week, but I did catch the first few episodes of Emerald City. It’s NBC’s fairly dark retelling of The Wizard of Oz that’s visually interesting, but leaves me wondering why we need yet another retelling at all. I liked it enough that I’ll keep watching. And I’m beyond excited that Nashville is back on CMT. I only caught the first half of the two hour opener, just before I left town, but it made me so happy. I love this show probably more than I should admit to. I started watching Outcast on Cinemax. Super creepy. Honestly scary. This one’s a keeper for me. Also, I came home to two episodes of the new season of Sherlock on my DVR. YAY!

6) MOVIES: I actually got to watch a bunch of movies this week, two on the way to Jamaica and two on the way home. On the way I watched the new Jack Reacher movie. I wished I’d watched something else. And Denial, which was very good. On the way home I watched an oldie: All About Eve. It’s a great character study, especially about the way women relate to each other. And Mr. Church. I wished (again) I’d watched something else.

7) As part of my New Year’s resolution to both write more letters and get more good mail, I’ve signed up for a couple of things dedicated to snail mail. One is The Letter Exchange, which as been around long enough to be on edition 41 of a three-times-a-year newsletter. It costs $23 a year and reading through the pen pal ads themselves was worth the price of admission. I shared some of my favorites here. I also joined the Letter Writer’s Alliance, which costs $5 for a lifetime membership. You get a cute little membership card, a little patch, and the folks who run it will match you up with a pen pal. I’m going to have to try pigeon mail, just to say I have. My brother and I have had serious discussions about training homing pigeons to carry little messages between us. Next best thing?

8) Speaking of mail: if you send me a letter or postcard, I’ll write back! Shaunta Grimes, P.O. Box 4125, Reno, NV 89501.

9) One more bit of good mail goodness. My friend Rooze, who is a poet and photographer and just absolutely full of magic, has started a snail mail thing. If you support her work on Patreon, she’ll send you postcards and poems and a minimag (AKA a ZINE!) every month. And, guess what? I’m featured in her first zine. Check it out here. Rooze is the one person who has helped me to feel some balance in this weird political atmosphere in the US. She’s running an online book club that is so much more than that. We’re reading The New Jim Crow right now. If you’re interested in joining (it’s free), shoot me a reply to this email and let me know.

10) I’ve really been enjoying Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School podcast. He’s the author of more than one book, but I love The Art of Non-Conformity. We’re living in a post-9-to-5 world, and it’s helpful (to me, anyway), to hear from so many people who are making it work beautifully.

If you enjoyed this newsletter and you’d like to support Ninja Writers, join the club, buy a book, or forward this email to a friend.

Love,

Shaunta

P.S. Here’s a quote from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, from an article in MovieMaker Magazine, that rang my bell:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.

(Emphasis is mine.)

(This quote is in Austin Kleon’s book, too. I guess he stole it, sort of? It made it to my notebook. It might make it to my cork board, as a reminder.)

(What have you stolen lately?)



Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and is the original Ninja Writer.