Random Thoughts on Mamoru Hosoda’s “Belle”

Carlos and I watched the anime “Belle” by Mamoru Hosoda, as rec’ed by a friend on Twitter. We had MANY THOUGHTS and frequently paused the movie to share them with each other.

All in all, I have zero regrets… BECAUSE MY DREAMS LAST NIGHT WERE HALF-ANIME, HALF-MUSICAL THEATRE, and far more entertaining than they’ve been in a while. WHICH MAKES ME WANT TO WATCH MORE ANIME MUSICALS BEFORE BED.

A few thoughts:

– This movie was really eight movies trying to be one two-hour movie. Very ambitious. Kind of a glorious mess. Lots of emotional whiplash. Perhaps unintentionally comedic because of this whiplash in parts.

– The grief narrative of losing/finding one’s voice and the abuse narrative (both domestic and cyber) were the emotional and moral hearts of the story. When the movie was working its deepest metaphorical magic, it was here. The cloak of bruises. The relationship between the tiny, fragile angel and the dragon beast. Ah! My heart.

– The re-telling of Beauty and the Beast part (which was one of the eight movies this movie was trying to be) was essentially DISNEY’S Beauty and the Beast–both in emotional beats and narration style–almost at the level of pastiche. Not parody. It took itself far too seriously for parody, and I think was done in a spirit of homage not plagiarism, but it came really close.

The re-telling was actually one of the things that didn’t work for me, because “Belle” was using an adult romantic-love narrative to overlay/explain an essentially platonic rescue narrative among child characters. Kind of squicky?

– I kind of wanted the world–both the real world and its cyber counterpart to be a sandbox-style VR experience, so I could just wander around and LOOK AT THINGS. Sometimes it was so visually stunning I almost cried. Sometimes the CGI and normal animation were not… very well integrated. At all. But when it worked, IT REALLY WORKED.

– The music-video-concert-style parts were unexpectedly moving and catchy. They were set pieces, and could stand alone. And might have worked better that way.

– I don’t watch a lot of anime, and looking at some of the intentionally comic moments made me think of the history of Japanese theatre/clowning vs a more Western commedia dell’arte/vaudeville history of theatre and clowning. So much of our (Looney Tunes) early cartoon style comes directly from the vaudeville–slapstick, stock characters, situations.

I think some of the things I don’t connect to emotionally in anime comedy–the stylistic cartoon changes in face and posture, the long pauses, the emotional hyperbole–are simply things I don’t key into historically or culturally. BUT I WANT TO LEARN!

– What was up with the choir ladies? I mean, I LOVED THEM. But they were almost in a whole other movie. CHOIR LADIES, HOW I LOVE YOU. Choir ladies ex machina FTW.

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Shearing Season

for Carlos Hernandez, on February 13th

come here, my curly-headed ram
come lean against my belly, in trust
and in full blissome, give the blossom
of your head unto my shears

tentative at first, then all too ardent
my bladework leaps alive at you
you sit and hum your secret smile
content to barter proficiency for intimacy

then shall I lop at you and chop at you!
hack and whack and saw at you!
snip and clip and rip at you–and only when
I’m through, will I run my fingers
warm over your skull, and shake
your loosened winterfall away

the day before this day, I play
at mourning: extoll the thing
I must, by your request, annihilate
your medusa mane of brown and gray

I tug your curls taut, then let them sproing
and sproinging, think of spring
as you scrub the shrub about your ears
eager to be tidy, greedy to be clean

now shorn, my ram, you move to get the broom
I wrap the clippers and reset the room
you stop me in the middle, as if by chance
“ah, my kindness!” you whisper, and we dance

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Eight Items of Interest

1.) Roaring Back at the Lion of Winter: Readings

On Sunday, February 5th, 7 PM – 8:30 PM EST: a night of 10 readings by authors who will make you kermit-flail, muppet-scream, and MEME ABOUT!

Featuring: Zig Zag Claybourne, Linda Addison, Charlie Jane Anders, Martha Wells, Patty Templeton, LaShawn Wanak, Maria Dong, Michael W. Lucas, Carlos Hernandez, and yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney!

Readings are virtual! Registration is free! Register here at Eventbrite.

2.) Both Saint Death’s Daughter and Dark Breakers made it to Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List–and what a list it is!

That list! Those authors! Their books! I’m so excited! The ones I’ve already read, I want to read again. But then, when would I read all the other ones!

In honor of this, and the forthcoming release of my novel The Twice-Drowned Saint as a standalone book in a couple of weeks, Mike Allen at Mythic Delirium writes:

From now through the official Feb. 7 debut date of The Twice-Drowned Saint, and likely for several days after; we’re offering a two-for-one e-book deal: pay half-price (($7 + $6)/2=$7.50) and get both (Dark Breakers and The Twice-Drowned Saint), in the format of your choice, delivered to your inbox.

3.) The wonderful team at Solaris Books made me this great video and graphic for the forthcoming release of the SAINT DEATH’S DAUGHTER paperback.

(In my head it is always THE PINK PAPERBACK! ALLCAPS!)

Here’s a link to the video on my Instagram page! And here’s the graphic!

4.) I did my first by-myself AMA on Reddit!

I’d done one before with the A Sinister Quarter group, but this was the first I set up on my own. One of the r/Fantasy moderators was reading Saint Death’s Daughter with her book group and invited me to show up so they could ask questions. It was really fun!

Here’s the link if you’re interested in reading the archives!

5.) I finished my outline for SAINT DEATH’S HERALD!

It’s almost 10,000 words! That’s, like, writing a novelette to tell me the story of a novel. It has snatches of dialogue, even a footnote. It’s basically like writing a mini-draft! IT MAY HAVE SAVED ME A DECADE OF WRITING! It’s very EXCITING!

I made a GRAPHIC! It’s very cheerful!

6.) On Poetry

This was sort of a banner week for poetry! On Friday, Patty Templeton and Carlos and I had our second-ever session for writing LAMP, our shared-world poetry anthology about a troupe of actors, fleeing the city Lamp after disaster, trying to find haven in the Grays–the salt marshes–in a little town called Porthole. VERY EXCITING.

Then, on Monday night, we had our Sitzfleisch Poetry Hour (“Anyone can write poetry for one hour a month!”), and I whipped the first movement of “The (Future Former) King of Elfland’s Printing Press” into tolerable first-draft shape!

And also, sometime either last week or this week, I applied for a grant. That was unexpected. I was encouraged by a friend. It’s a lotto ticket, a flare in the dark, but it gave me a new look at my poetry collection, and made me glad I’d put it together at the beginning of January, sort of on a whim!

7.) On Ballads from a Distant Star

Our first get-together/rehearsal is on Saturday! I’ve been learning how to book rehearsal space in New York City, hot damn! I had a meeting with Carla Kissane at Alice’s Tea Cup yesterday, and learned so much. I really want to treat my cast right, and for all of us to have great fun!

Carlos made us this initial graphic. We’re thinking there will be a series of “Missing” posters of each of the miners mentioned.

8.) Negocios Infernales–coming soon!

I know we keep saying that, but we’ve been seeing bits and shimmers of the card layout, and we’re so excited about the rulebook.

Our last Infernal Salon, hosted by the Virtual Gumbo Fiction Salon in January, went so well! (Carlos wrote a new song for Ballads from a Distant Star! In 20 minutes!)

I hope we’ll have more concrete news for you soon!

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Mythic Delirium Zoom Reading with Theodora Goss & C.S.E. Cooney

This event is FREE! And VIRTUAL!

Register at EVENTBRITE (link embedded below) for the email with the Zoom link and Password on the day of the event!

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Boskone 60 Schedule

HYBRID: Darkness in Fairy Tales

Harbor 1 – Hybrid
Fiction, Literature

Sat 11:30 AM
Duration: 01:00

Description Many beloved versions of fairy tales we tell our children are sanitized versions of grim stories, including Grimm ones. We can write the graphic violence and debauchery out of these tales, but should we? What gets lost when we blunt the sharp edges of Cinderella’s story? There’s much to learn about the human condition from these rich sources of psychological drama. And some fine authors have mined the unexpurgated stories. Let’s discuss tales, especially those that may have been overlooked.

Greer Gilman mod
John Langan
Katherine Arden 
Bruce Coville 
C. S. E. Cooney

How to Kill a Character

Marina 3
Writing / Publishing

Sat 4:00 PM
Duration: 01:00

Description Death shouldn’t be easy. Killing characters within a story shouldn’t just glorify death or play to prurient interest. How, when, and why should you end a character so that it serves the greater purpose of the story? Is anyone really safe within a story? Does the audience or their expectations matter to whether killing a protagonist or significant character is appropriate? Does wiping out spear holders matter, and should it?

Max Gladstone mod
Bracken MacLeod 
Brenda Clough
P. Djèlí Clark 
C. S. E. Cooney

Boskone Book Party

Galleria – Autographing
Fiction, Literature

Sat 5:30 PM
Duration: 01:00

Many authors!

Group Reading: Mythic Delirium Books

Fiction, Literature

Sun 11:30 AM
Duration: 01:00

Mike Allen mod
Theodora Goss
C. S. E. Cooney

Kaffeeklatsch 2: C.S.E. Cooney& Carlos Hernandez

Community / Fandom
Galleria – Kaffeeklatsch 2\

Sun 1:00 PM
Duration: 01:00

Carlos Hernandez
C. S. E. Cooney

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Recent Publications and Upcoming Appearances!

AANPX, Volume 4–Limited Print Run!

My newest short story “How the Statue Learned to Dream,” was published by Air and Nothingness Press, in their gorgeous quarterly newsletter AaNPX, Volume 4.

The newsletter is described as:

“Limited edition (First Printing) – 8 pgs. full color, tabloid newspaper sized edition, 100 numbered copies. All orders come wrapped in an archival poly bag with an acid free backer board. $12.00US + $2.25s/h (US Orders) or $5.25s/h (Foreign Orders). How The Statue Learned To Dream features a new story in C.S.E. Cooney’s Desdemona and the Deep/Dark Breakers collection of stories.”

The artwork is by Sarah Marshall, and the whole thing is just truly a beautiful piece of ephemera in the world. I dedicated my story to MaryAnn Harris and Charles De Lint, and donated half my earnings to the Harris/De Lint Recovery Fund. You can read the summary of MaryAnn’s story here at the GoFundMe page.

All my best hopes go to the Harris/De Lint family. This story was trying to return a little of the magic of community that they do so well during this time.

INFERNAL SALON: The Gumbo Fiction Cafe Edition, Thursday January 12th–Virtual

Here are a few details about our show, from our host Tina Jens at the Virtual Gumbo Fiction Salon (find them on Facebook).

Register in advance for the show to get a Zoom EMAIL PASSWORD & LINK:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to join the meeting.

What is an Infernal Salon, you ask?

C. S. E. Cooney and Carlos will be giving every writer a prompt of one or more cards from the very spooky deck that we and artist Rebecca Huston invented for our TTRPG Negocios Infernales.” Once every writer has their prompt, we’ll set a timer for 15 minutes.

When the timer dings, the writers who want to will share their infernally-inspired works with all of us! Much revelry will be had by all.


ADMISSION–we encourage a donation from those who can afford it. We recommend $2 for students/teachers, $4 for others, though any amount is appreciated: paypal.me/TinaLJens, Venmo: @TinaJens

We’ll open up 15 minutes before showtime. Our show is geared toward the commercial genres, but all forms of writing are encouraged.

Galatica Philadelphia Literary Salon: Wednesday, January 18th–in person

From the Galactica Philadelphia website. Please visit to register for this event!

For the first time, the Rosenbach Museum & Library is partnering with Galactic Philadelphia for a speculative fiction literary salon. Hear from Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and C.S.E. Cooney as they read from their latest work and converse with them and other guests in an informal and engaging salon-style conversation. Before the readings, you’ll get the chance to explore the Rosenbach with a tour of Dr. Rosenbach’s library or the Programs Gallery special exhibition. We’ll convene for readings at 6:15 p.m., get books signed by the authors and be entered into a raffle for the chance to win a free book! Finally, although the Rosenbach will close at 8 p.m., the audience is invited to continue their conversation at a nearby pub. 

The authors’ books will be available for sale throughout the evening. Every attendee will receive one raffle ticket (included in your ticket) for a chance to win books of recently published or about to be released books by various authors.

Boskone: February 17-19–in person

I will post Carlos’s and my respective schedules over at hernandooney.com sometime during the next month!

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Early December, Cradled by Waves

At the end of November through the first week of December, I visited my beloved Caitlyn Paxson on P.E.I! The Mi’kmaq Nation calls the Island “Abegweit,” “the land cradled on the waves.”

I’ve probably told you all about Caitlyn before, but I’ll say it again. She’s EXTRAORDINARY.

Caitlyn is a folklorist, museum interpreter, singer, harpist, poet, NPR book reviewer, AND THE MOST FANTASTIC WRITER OMG!

Along with Amal El-Mohtar and Jessica P. Wick, she was an editor of the gorgeous (now sleeping for a 100 years) Goblin Fruit Magazine (archives here, for your finite but also endless pleasure).

She keeps a delicious newsletter called Book and Bramble. SUBSCRIBE! I do!

One of the many awesome things she includes in her newsletter is the monthly wreath she makes–usually with wildflowers and willow withies and grasses found roundabout her farm–and I got to wear December’s!

(Also, BONUS: Caitlyn’s mama makes those SQUID MUGS I’m always going on about–also BAT MUGS! and CAT MUGS! and RAVEN MUGS! and OWL BELLS! and GOBLETS! among others–over at her Etsy shop, Skybirdarts!)

Anyway, Caitlyn and I had a delicious time playing dress up and haunting one of the museums she works at--Beaconsfield Historic House--after hours. With permission, of course.

We decided to dress up at first like grand dames of a certain Belle Epoque-ish era. Then we decided to go full DARK BREAKERS, after my new story collection with Mythic Delirium, and dress up like the fey Gentry creatures who come through the walls at midnight and wreak havoc, mayhem, and mischief!

I mean. We only PRETENDED to. We were very respectful.

We posted SO MANY PICTURES on both her and my Instagram accounts, but I shall also post some here.

I was going to make this post all about all the others things I wanted to tell you too, but we’ll leave it here. For now. There’s always… THE NEXT BLOG POST!


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Ballads from a Distant Star–IN NEW YORK CITY!


My friend introduced me to some folks at Arts On Site, and I proposed a ONE-NIGHT-ONLY performance of BALLADS FROM A DISTANT STAR–and I got it!

PLEASE, book your calendars for MARCH 30TH! There will be two performances: 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM!


BALLADS FROM A DISTANT STAR: Imagine the working families of a 19th Century mining town–sold by the company bosses to bodysnatching aliens, and taken in their silver ship to mine on a distant planet! Imagine how their songs, stories and legends mutate and change over these vast distances! The Pied Piper, the two sisters Shahrazad and Dunyazad (and the murderous king) of 1001 Nights, sundered lovers from folk songs everywhere, Thomas the Rhymer and the Faerie Queen, Two Strange Babes–even the famous and grisly tale of James Wilson, murdered by Burke and Hare! All re-told and re-envisioned as SFF songs, poems, scenes, and monologues–explored by an ethnomusicologist astronaut, looking for answers in the distant stars!



Carla Kissane
Tim Rodriguez
Carlos Hernandez
Amanda Baker

and yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney

Directed by Miriam Mikiel Grill



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Cover Reveal: The Twice-Drowned Saint (Art by Lasse Paldanius!)

In June of 2020, Mythic Delirium released the anthology A Sinister Quartet, which included three novellas by Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen respectively, and a novel by yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney.

Soon, in Februrary 2023, we are re-releasing The Twice-Drowned Saint: Being a Tale of Fabulous Gelethel, the Invisible Wonders Who Rule There, and the Apostates Who Try to Escape its Walls as a standalone novel–with new fabulous cover and interior art by Lasse Paldanius.

Read all about this Lapland-based artist here.

My publish Mike Allen sent me all these great shots of the first box of books arriving to send to book bloggers. If you’re a book blogger and you want a physical or e-book copy to review, let us know!

The pre-order links are still appearing in various places, but they will all be gathered conveniently in one place on Mythic Delirium’s website. Here’s where to find The Twice-Drowned Saint!

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Chapbooks on the Brain

Earlier this month at the World Fantasy Convention, I saw the most FANTASTIC panel about speculative poetry. And while I must say I’ve never fallen OUT of love with it, I FELL IN LOVE A LITTLE HARDER after that panel, and all I wanted to do was write a chapbook.

For weeks I wandered the house, thinking WHAT IS MY CHAPBOOK IDEA?

And then I realized that a long-form narrative poem I’d roughly drafted out is actually kind of an outline-in-verse for a great, long-form narrative-poem-in-poems chapbook idea that I think I might be calling The (Future Former) King of Elfland’s Printing Press.

But that might take a while to get up to submission-speed. And of course, Patty and Carlos and I are working on our Lamp! collaboration, which will be another chapbook-length shared-world poetry collection.

And that’s fine. You know, things take time and all that.


And then I got the idea!

I’ve had this website/blog since 2014. I’d been missing LiveJournal for while at that point, and I had a lot of projects I was really into, and I wanted to be blogging about all and sundry, so I got Julia Rios and Amal El-Mohtar to advise me. And here we are.

It’s not fancy and never has been, but it is so much better than that feeling of missing blogging, and it uploads nicely to my Goodreads and my Amazon Author pages which I normally don’t have very much to do with, other than occasional housekeeping. (I should probably do more.)

But I have, over the years, written many an occasional poem here. And I thought about a chapbook I might call The Day I Superglued the Moon (and other poems). And I could divide them up into these sections:


Of course, by the time I got through sorting them all out, it’s probably longer than a chapbook. More of a collection. And who’s to say who’s publishing such things these days, but it can’t hurt to have a go at further curating the manuscript and seeing what comes of it!

Submissions AHOY!

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