Boskone 2019 Overview

I was at the tail-end of my illness at Boskone, and spent a lot of time napping and blowing my nose. However. By Saturday I felt so much better than I had in a fortnight, and by Sunday (today) really well!

I loved singing songs from my three Brimstone Rhine recordings with Faye Ringel and Carlos Hernandez. I perforce made Carlos a bit tardy for his Danes are Delicious playtest on the Gaming Track, having failed to inform ops initially that he’d be playing with me. I hope people forgive him his 15 minute tardiness and place all blame squarely on my head!

Anyone who came to the Brimstone Rhine concert who is interested in listening to MORE music and reading along with the lyrics can find everything I did here: BRIMSTONE RHINE ON BANDCAMP!

I adored reading with E. C. Ambrose, Ken Schneyer, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Clarence Young, and Carlos Hernandez in our Unlikely Imaginarium group reading. Here are some places you can find our work:

Zig Zag Claybourne, AKA Clarence Young, read from the sequel to his The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan.

Cerece Renee Murphy read from her book The Wolf Queen.

E. C. Ambrose read from an unpublished piece, but check out her Dark Apostle series!

Carlos read from Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, out from Disney Hyperion on March 5th. Preorder now!

And I read from my novella Desdemona and the Deep, forthcoming from Tor.com. Preorder now!

… Pardon my imperatives. I just get excited

I was on a panel about music in fantasy, and one on the future of audiobooks. The panelists and moderators on both pretty much blew my mind with the range and depth and force of their knowledge.

Carlos’s last panel today on Exploring Interactive Fiction 101 likewise. High point of my con! My brain was like SCUSE ME CANNOT KEEP SPLODING HOLP PLEEZ! And, honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to five smarter panelists talk about ANYTHING than Carlos Hernandez, Max Gladstone, Erin Roberts, M. C. DeMarco–Moderator–and Andrea Corbin talking about coding, games, narrative, awareness, audience, text, visual arts, and the interactive fiction market. It was ELECTRIFYING!

Perhaps most special (and close to my heart) was the workshop that Carlos and I co-taught (I sort of wrangled him into teaching with me last minute, and I am so so so so GRATEFUL for his graciousness and generosity in doing so!) this morning. I’ve taught it with Caitlyn Paxson twice (and Amal El-Mohtar once), and once by myself at different Readercons, and this summer I’ll teach a variation of it with Martin Cahill at Readercon. I call it “From Page to Stage: Reading Aloud for Writers.”

I see such a need for so many writers who did not have the benefit of any theatre training or even drama class growing up, but who find themselves having to read in public without any tools. If I–and other performance-minded writers–can convey even a few tips and tricks to make this very difficult thing a LEEETLE easier for our fellow artists, I COUNT MY HOUR WELL-SPENT. Five people came, and I think we all benefited from a small, informal, friendly workshop size. So happy. Teaching is not me at my most comfortable–but that just makes me more empathetic towards my students!

Anyway, a concert, a reading, a workshop, two panels! Any time I do more “other stuff” than “panels,” I’m a pretty happy camper. Especially if “other stuff” means reading aloud and singing. Which, in this case, it did.

Thank you, Erin Underwood, Brenda Noiseux, and all the Boskone ops people for all the hard, intricate work you do.

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Best of Uncanny: PREORDER IS LIVE!

It is my honor to appear in the BEST OF UNCANNY, along with many other fabulous fabulists. Go to Subterranean Press to preorder your copy today!

Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas have co-edited and co-published Uncanny Magazine since its launch in 2014. They brought readers stunning cover art, passionate science fiction and fantasy fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, and provocative nonfiction by writers from every conceivable background, including some of science fiction and fantasy’s most fabulous award-winning and bestselling authors. In its first four years, Uncanny Magazine won the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award three times (2016, 2017, 2018), Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas won the 2018 Best Editor—Short Form Hugo Award for their work on the magazine, and numerous stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards– including the novelette “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) which won the 2016 Best Novelette Hugo Award and the novelette “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by  Alyssa Wong which won the 2017 Best Novelette Locus Award.

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Cover Reveal for DESDEMONA AND THE DEEP

When I was a teenager, forever devouring and re-devouring such books as, for example, Winter Rose, and The Riddle-Master Trilogy, I never, not even once–not even when I thought I’d grow up to be a famous author by age 30 (didn’t happen) and have a book out a year (ha!) or two in a good year (double ha!)–ever CONCEIVED of Patricia “A is for AAAAAUUGGGHHH!!!” McKillip blurbing any book of mine.

And since I never got that far, envisioning this gorgeous cover art was so utterly beyond me that teenage-me might have exploded like a confetti bazooka if she tried.

Kinda like I’m doing now.

THIS! COVER!

THIS!!! COVER!!!

With the ANTLER CROWN, my goblins! And the VINES! And the TINES! And the TYPEFACE!

Did not Alyssa Winans (artist) and Christine Foltzer (designer) rock this like a METEOR SHOWER???!!!

And PATRICIA AAAAAAUUGGGGHHH MCKILLIP BLURBED ME!!!

I am so excited, I am CENTER JUSTIFIED!

Er. So . . . Yeah.

Please see Tor.com for more information!

desdemona_final

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Ballads from a Distant Star: Concept Album . . . in the works

I was just chatting with Carlos Hernandez about our upcoming Brimstone Rhine/The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours concept album/spoken word project, Ballads from a Distant Star.

I am EXTREMELY excited about collaborating with my brother Jeremy Cooney and Stefan Dollak again, and Amal says she will SING with me (have I such SOLOS for HER!!!), and it is all very exciting.

My new idea is that the five or so Distant Star Ballads will be woven in with this 4-part spoken word poem I wrote for Mike Allen’s Mythic Delirium.

When I mentioned that, to my surprise and delight, CARLOS SAID HE HAD NEVER READ IT BEFORE!!! How did that happen? But . . . YAY!

So I read it aloud to him.

Go on–you can too, if you like. Just click that link, pals!

And then he told me, “You know, I remember, back in graduate school, first hearing about science fiction poetry and thinking, ‘What is that? How does that even work?’ This,” he waves in my general direction. “This is how it works. I can feel this looping back even now, feeding that lacuna in my education.”

HE SAYS THE DEAREST THINGS!

So that got me all keen to put together that package I’ve been meaning to do for my collaborators. Patty Templeton might be able to do the artwork–she did such a beautiful job on the lithograph for Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and her partner Brett Massé is a graphic designer of no small talent.

But before all that happens, I need to actually, you know, do the work.

After that, the Indiegogo.

Possibly in September. Later than I’d intended, but the year’s already boding to be busier than I thought, what with Carlos’s book Sal and Gabi Break the Universe coming out March 5th from Disney Hyperion, and my novella Desdemona and the Deep coming out July 23rd from Tor.com.

Fingers crossed things’ll slow down in fall–and who knows, maybe by winter . . . per aspera ad astra.

Or maybe I’ll get it all together before then!

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Boskone 2019 Schedule

Dear Everyone who is going to Boskone, and SUNDRY!

I am excited about this year’s Boskone. I really had to train myself to like panels, because they make me feel VERY VERY NERVOUS, but I LOVE and ADORE giving readings and singing in public–both of which I get to do!

Not only that, but Carlos and Faye are both playing with me for the Brimstone Rhine Concert; we even rented a car to haul synthesizer and CAJON! Can we do Lysistrata chant-style, with a drum box? WE’LL SEE, WON’T WE?

I am particularly bouncy re: that first reading there, because look at that LINE-UP! Zig-Zag, Hernandez, Queen Cerece, E. C. Frikkin Ambrose, and my darling Ken–whose Hobbit party I once attended, colorful vest and all.

The workshop I’m teaching I’ve gotten to teach with both Caitlyn Paxson and Amal El-Mohtar before at Readercon–twice, I think? And maybe once on my own. It’s always been very fun and useful, I’ve felt, and I hope it will prove so to a few budding writers who are nervous speaking in public. It will meld really nicely with my audiobook panel.

. . . You know, I find being on panels about audiobooks so much EASIER than ones about writing, because my actor brain loves EVERYTHING and my writer brain is just SCARED. Why is that, Hivemind?!!!

So, here’s my schedule below. See you at the con.

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Brimstone Rhine at the Arts Cafe Mystic, 2015

The Unlikely Imaginarium: A Reading

Format: Reading
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Griffin (Westin)

Authors E. C. Ambrose, C. S. E. Cooney, Zig Zag Claybourne, Carlos Hernandez, Cerece Rennie Murphy, and Kenneth Schneyer gather around the dark bonfire of their collective imagination to tell stories of women, wolves, woods, bones, enraged ninjas, AI toilets, the end of the world, and basically, the whole entire multiverse. Or maybe something completely different. Attend our wild and rambunctious reading to find out for yourselves!

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Me, reading at World Fantasy 2018. By Kathleen Jennings. Live!

Music in Science Fiction

Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 12:00 – 12:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

What part does music play in science fiction? We hear it in films, videos, and even games. What about fiction — how does music enhance the reading experience? Is there a special connection between music and SF that other genres lack, and that goes above and beyond mere sound effects? Let’s talk music and its special interplay with the SF genre.

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Newest Brimstone Rhine album, released 2018. Find us on Bandcamp!

Concert: Brimstone Rhine (C.S.E. Cooney)

Format: Concert
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 16:00 – 16:25, Lewis (Westin)

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Yup. That’s me and cutiepants Carlos Hernandez, giving a concert at the Thunderbird Arts Center. Phoenix, AZ 2017.

Reading Your Fiction Aloud: From Page to Stage

Format: Workshop
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 10:00 – 10:50, Lewis (Westin)

Award-winning author and performer C.S.E. Cooney leads a workshop for writers with little to no public performance training in reading their own work aloud. To people! In public! You’ll learn tips and tricks to captivate your audiences. (Aimed at writers who have had little or no public performance training.)

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I first taught this workshop at Readercon with writers/performers Caitlyn Paxson and Amal El-Mohtar. Together (with a few others) we were known as “The Banjo Apocalypse Troubadours.”

The Future of Audiobooks

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Audiobooks are a hot-and-getting-hotter way of enjoying stories. Join our panelists to discuss audiobook ups and downs, tips for listening, how to choose the ones that are right for you — and what the future holds for the new (and very old) experience of reading by ear.

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Serious Audiobook Narrator Face. Truth is, this is probably as still as my face ever gets in the recording booth. Otherwise, it’s cartoonclownface ALL THE TIME.

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Interview with a Little Red Vampire Reviewer

Dear Readers,

I am excited to present to you my very first EVER interview on my BLOG! I would like to do LOTS MORE! I have IDEAS! But what a great start!

Today I have Andrea Johnson, an avid reader and reviewer of Science Fiction and Fantasy. She keeps a blog at The Little Red Reviewer, and we all wait SLAVERINGLY to hear what she says about our stories.

(Now, you may be THINKING we’re using our Royal Plural HERE, but you can’t be sure, can you? WE MIGHT BE SPEAKING FOR THE HIVEMIND!)

Now Andrea has collected the best of eight years of reviews into a book for our shelfish pleasure (not SHELLFISH, autocorrect!), and she’s running a Kickstarter in the month of January to fund it!

She’s fascinating and lovely and she has books in her TBR pile that haven’t even been INVENTED yet! But I’m getting ahead of myself! Read this interview, and get to know her a bit for yourself.

And then, if you have a few bucks to spare, send them her way at her The Best of the Little Red Reviewer Kickstarter!

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C. S. E. COONEY: Have you always written about the books you’ve read? Do you read differently when you are reading to review a book than when you are reading for pleasure? Are they one and the same? How are the experiences alike or different?

ANDREA JOHNSON: I’ve always enjoyed talking about the books I’m reading. Why am I reading it, am I enjoying it, that sort of thing. Writing about books I’m reading didn’t start until the internet and “blogging” was becoming a thing. Would you believe some of my first pseudo-reviews were on MySpace?

CSEC: MYSPACE! I HAD A MYSPACE!!!

AJ: Through a bulletin board, I’d gotten connected with someone who was started a review journal on MySpace, he mailed me a few novellas, I read them and posted my thoughts. It was way fun! I posted reviews on a few now defunct bulletin boards and e-zines, and many years later, Little Red Reviewer is a happy eight year old book blog.

I do read differently when I’m reading for review, I’m much more focused when I know I’m going to review the book. I like using a blank piece of paper as a bookmark, so I can take notes as I’m reading, even if it’s just a page number where something funny or interesting happened. If I have any guesses about what’s going to happen at the end of the book, I write that down too.

CSEC: (Gosh, that piece of paper thing’s a good idea. I have historically scribbled in the book itself. A big no-no for collectors, but . . . )

AJ: I recently pulled a book off my bookshelf to reread it, and found my old notes still tucked inside! (The whole writing notes on a bookmark thing doesn’t work so well with e-books, I’ve found)

If I’m reading a book with no plans for reviewing it, I might skim portions of it, I don’t mind if I fall asleep while reading and lose my place. If I’m not going to review it, I just enjoy the ride and treat the book like a perfect lazy summer afternoon. If I have no plans to review the book . . . I may not even finish it. When I want something breezy and satisfying with no pressure to review, I’ll pick up an anthology and read just one or two stories. It’s very relaxing!

CSEC: Why do you think reviewing, critiquing, just talking about books is so important—now, and throughout history? What are some reviews you are the proudest of? What would be your ideal reviewing job—if one exists?

AJ: It will always be important to talk about books. It can be any kind of discussion–chatting at bookclub, reviewing, or critiquing. Readers take it for granted because we are used it–books we read change our worldview, they inspire us, they help us understand the world, and different people will experience the same book in a completely different way.   We talk about politics non-stop, right? Why should talking about books be any different?

I’m part of a local sci-fi book club, and my favorite part of our discussions is that everyone gets something different out of the books that we read and discuss. Think about ice cream.

CSEC: Mmmnnn. Ice cream.

AJ: If it’s chocolate ice cream, just about everyone who tastes it will say, “Yep, tastes like chocolate!” With books, one person says it tastes like chocolate, two people say it tastes like cherry, another person says it tastes like mango. They all read the same book, but came away from it with completely different feelings and experiences. Talking about our different experiences reading the same book, it’s a window into how we all experience life in a different way. And I just love that!

My Kickstarter, The Best of Little Red Reviewer, will feature the reviews I’m most proud of. The reviews I’m most proud of seem to be when I didn’t just read a book, I experienced it.  These are books that shocked me, floored me, scared me, bewildered me, amused me. Instead of just reading them, I somehow got the IMAX experience. My review ended up being a reflection of my experience of reading the book. I’ve found that the more I enjoy a book, the less I talk about the plot in the book review. Because when the book is that good, the plot is the often the least interesting part.

CSEC: I love that.

AJ: The writing of those reviews can be an enjoyable intense experience unto itself, and the writing of the review often helps me remember the book even more vividly.

My dream reviewing job? I used to think being a professional reviewer was a dream job. Other than getting some free books, I do not make a penny on writing book reviews. No one pays me for my time or effort, my blog is not monetized, this is not a business, I don’t do this for money. If I did do it for money, I worry it would stop being fun and would just feel like a job. And jobs are a drag! You do them because you need to pay your bills, not because they are fun. I think right now, I have my dream reviewing job. It’s a hobby, I review fun books that I choose, and I don’t have to worry about meeting any style guidelines or deadlines.

CSEC: What are some books either in your To Be Read pile, or that you wish WERE in your To Be Read pile, that you are very much looking forward to—and why?

AJ: My To Be Read pile is completely unorganized with no rhyme or reason with books randomly floating in and out of it on a whim, so I’m going to make this a list of books I wish were in my TBR pile. Books that don’t exist yet, and some that will never exist.

I’d love to read a ton of Culture short stores by Iain M Banks. A sort of “State of the Art” type volume, but all the stories take place in the Culture.

Once upon a time, Catherynne Valente talked about self publishing the third book in her Prester John series (publisher went under after book 2, much disaster all around), or maybe Kickstarting it. She got sidetracked with her Fairyland series and other more marketable and profitable novels, so who knows when or if the Prester John book will happen. In the meantime, I’ll just read the first book over and over and over again.

I hope Steven Brust and Skyler White write a million more Incrementalists books, because I want to read all of them. Every time another side character gets the spotlight, I realize how little I know about that person and their past and that I want to know way more than could ever fit in one book.

THANK YOU, ANDREA!

Now, dear Readers. Go Ye Forth and Help Kickstart THE BEST OF THE LITTLE RED REVIEWER!

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Some S. Pevensie song I’m working on

I found this in my notes, and I think it’s worth working on. But I may have to re-read the books.

Verse 1

Lucy, I would give my arm to comb your hair again

Peter, what I’d pay to play our checker game

Edmund, I’d move mountains just to hear you strum guitar

And I’d never let you near another train

Refrain

I’ll be just like Nellie Bly

Or Ehrhart in the sky

Lion-hearted, valiant, and bold

And I won’t forget our wars

Neither one, forever more

But I think I’ll always fear the cold

V2 something

V3 something even better

Bridge (sometime later)

And Lucy, my Lucy, my Lucy

my Lucy my Lucy!

Every door that I open

Every song I sing true

Every portrait I hang

Is a gateway to you

My sister, my phantom, my empress,

My dream

my emptiness, temperance, trickster, my queen

I long for you!

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Three Now, Three Near, Three Far

The illustrious author Ysabeau Wilce quoted something on Slack the other day that’s been haunting me ever since.

“HAVE NINE IDEAS ON YOU AT ALL TIMES.” — Gustavo Arellano, reporter and author of ¡Ask a Mexican!

She went on to expound on the quote, or perhaps summarize what she remembered: “This is the advice I would give my writers . . . I always told them to have nine ideas on them: three they could do immediately, three that would take a couple of days to gather, and three long-term projects.”

I really liked the idea of having several projects in line and on the burner, ready for when I am ready for them. So I thought I’d do a little mental housekeeping. A little list making. I make them for groceries, after all. And for taxes. And prep scripts. And chores. I get ALL OF THOSE THINGS DONE. So why not writing?

My three for the present all have to do with my novel revisions. Markus (my agent) got back to me in November, and I’m more than a third of the way through them now. My whole goal is to be faster on these revisions than I was on last year’s. (Took me ten months. Count ’em. Ten.)

They won’t necessarily make sense to anyone reading them, unless they have also read one of the COUNTLESS DRAFTS of Miscellaneous Stones: Necromancer, but here they are anyway, for me.

3 NOW

  1. More dark underpinnings in middle.
  2. More of a conscious plan on protagonist’s part, even if these fail.
  3. That thing with the ghost. Fix it.

As for the next bit of planning, I have several projects I want to be working on–including some Brimstone Rhine stuff. And so:

3 NEAR

  1. Ballads from a Distant Star
    1. a.) Send package of Distant Star lyrics and concept to Patty Templeton and Brett Massé for illustrations and graphic design of lyric ebook.
    2. b.) Send same to Jeremy Cooney, Stefan Dollak, Carlos Hernandez (possible other musicians? Tim Rodriguez? Faye Ringel?) for instrumentation ideas.
    3. c.) Collaborate with Amal on a few more song ideas to round out the album.
  2. Dragon poem for upcoming anthology, loosely titled “The Wyrm of Lirr.”
  3. “The Twice-Drowned Saint” novella re-drafted and submitted. (TIME TO TRY AND CRACK THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION MARKET!!! Or, really, anyone who’ll take me is good.)

Meanwhile, we have ambitions for the future, and these are:

3 FAR

  1. Well, you see, Miscellaneous Stones: Necromancer is the first of a trilogy. The second one being called Miscellaneous Stones: Justiciar. (Which word I will have to learn how to pronounce.) Not to mention Miscellaneous Stones: Psychopomp. BOOM!
  2. Possibly collect all three Dark Breaker novellas into novel-shape and try to sell it. And/or put together a new collection of short stories and poems. Mmn. The two Witch’s Garden pieces could go in there. And all kinds of secret, interesting, weird little uncollected things. In fact, wouldn’t THE WITCH’S GARDEN be a WONDERFUL title for a short story collection??? I’d finally get to write “Silver and Bone” for it–my sequel to “The Bone Swans of Amandale” in which Nicolas gets nicked by the Faerie Queen and Greenpea et al have to save him. With MUSIC. TRA-LA!
  3. Also, there’s that not-so-little matter of SHADOWSTALKERS. Possible MAGNUM OPUS, or at least my opinions on graduate schools and what they do to my BEST FRIENDS. In a fantasy setting. With spies and shapeshifters. Right now I am happily collecting, buying, and reading ALL THE BOOKS about the HISTORY of SPIES, so if you know of any good ones (pre-20th century, or even pre-19th, if possible) LEMME KNOW! Especially non-European histories. I have several of those, and two about the United States. One about Washington’s spy networks, and one about THE PINKS–the lady detectives of the Pinkerton Agency–fascinating stuff.

And here we are. I just got freshly excited about the future. So thank you, Ysabeau Wilce (read her books, not joking, just do it), and thank you, Gustavo Arellano–now I want to read your column, among other things!

In the meantime, keeping hopeful is the hardest bit. But that’s my concern for the new year. To remember that the act of sitting and writing is . . . play! It’s the thing I want. The thing I yearn for when I’m not doing it. So I’m gonna stop treating it as a headache and a chore and start WRIGGLING LIKE PAVLOV’S PUPPY every time someone says, “Let’s write!” including me. Wriggling is an instant mood-changer, I’ve found. Wriggling and lots and lots of lightbulbs.

Farewell for now.

 

 

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Meander and Nemesis

the gray gentleman, we called him, smoke-soft, big as a barrage balloon, he wafted into any room and made himself available for affection.

this was Meander, that gorgeous galoot: time was and time again I said I’d marry him if he were a man, so handsome, so courteous, who minds a bit of matted fur on such a magnificent beast?

couldn’t quite grasp it when he was gone. Like a sudden, beloved fog. Gone.

and then, Nems. Nemesis, black beauty, wide-eyed, a cuddler, dapper, slim, always dressed so sleekly in assassin’s colors, but lived to be loved.

when he sickened, like a poet, we all lost our appetites. Tidy little guy, all across the miles, I pictured her holding you. Enviable last hours, but. I wish they weren’t yours.

anyway, this is my letter to you, cats. Cats of my friends, my friends. Who are relentlessly kind to small things. Who save as many as they can. Been a dark few months, but your little lives gave off such light.

your memory for our constellations.

– for Jeanine Marie Vaughn and Rebecca Huston

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Bat-Folk: A Virtual Anthology Based on the Art of Kathleen Jennings

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Remember our “Train To Everywhere“? I thought we would try again, this time with BAT-FOLK!

Last year, World Fantasy-nominated illustrator–not to mention FANTASTIC writer!–Kathleen Jennings sent me two of her Bat-Folk sketches. Just randomly. Out of the Australian blue.

Ever since then, I’ve been meaning to write a piece of Bat-Folk flash or verse, because I love them, because they are ADORABLE! The other day, after those train poems my friends wrote to the photo prompt, I thought, “WHY SHOULD I HAVE ALL THE FUN?”

With Kathleen’s permission, I am posting these pictures. Anyone who wants to write a verse or flash or even just a CAPTION inspired by these Bat-Folk, I will put them up here (with your permission) and Kathleen’s art, all together!

Check out her work at TAUNADEL.

You can also PURCHASE her work at REDBUBBLE. (The scarves alone! The HARPIES SCARVES!)

And NOW, if you wanna play: HAVE AT IT! Flash, poetry, captions, short plays, what have you–in the comment section!

 

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1. bats at the opera

there are bats in the catwalks
they dress in dark coats, and bright dresses
(starched stiffly so they can hang upside down)

arias echoing all around them,
rustling the edges of their wings
until they shift into flight

2.

The skin that curtains—from my arm—
and from the other—too—
lets me create—a sentence like—
“I’m flying”—or—”I flew”—

But dressed—in human finery—
with shawl—and purse—and hat—
makes me no homo sapiens—
but somewhat less a bat—

I won’t remain encaged in clothes—
will not—like humans—preen—
I’ll echolocate—who I am—
when naked—free—I scream—

3.

“Oh, Mr. Bat,” said Mrs. Bat,
A’hanging upside-down,
“Do not you think the night is fine
For going on the town?”

“Why, Mrs. Bat,” said Mr. Bat,
“I love the bright sundown.
It makes the sequins sparkle
On your yellow velvet gown.

I’ll proudly fly beside you
As we promenade the square.
I’ll buy you fruits and flowers
And some moth wings for your hair.”

The missus blush’d to hear him gush;
Her darling thought her fair!
She felt the same about him
In his formal evening wear.

“I long for crunchy katydids!
Let’s call on Mr. Owl.
Perhaps he’d like to join us
On a little insect prowl.”

“My dear, that is a lovely plan!
My stomach starts to growl.
Let’s go before that tiny sound
Can turn into a howl.”

  • Autum Rachel Dryden

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4. Black Tie and Tails

A most formal occasion
An event for top hats and pearls
For flying over the world
Tangled in shadows
Decorated with webs and dew and moonlight

Sonar senses marvel
Yawning caves
Sheer cliffs
Towering trees and wide open fields
Soaring and wheeling
Grinning ear to ear

A nice night for a celebration

5.

Bill: Fly awa’ with me and ‘ang fer a bit, missy?
Charlotte: Of all the…! Do you take me for some common lady of the day?! Be off with you or I’ll alert the constabulary.
Bill: You can turn up yer nose at me all ye like, but yer not in this cave by accident. I’d say yer lookin’ fer a bit o’ rough.
Charlotte: You’re close, you loutish oaf, but…
Lizzie: Charlie, is ‘e botherin’ you.
Charlotte: Ah there you are Lizzie, my bit of ruffle. Do you know this masher?
Lizzie: Oh, that’s just Bill. Don’t pay ‘im no mind. ‘E talks a lot, but don’t get nothin’ back.

6.

“You two! Come forward!”

Alicia Forestall, Countess of Margrave, stepped carefully over the Earl of Annoth, now a brown-grained slug wearing a miniature long-coat and a tiny monocle. The little Earl had been oozing away from the throne for several minutes now, but the pixie on the dais had evidently grown impatient.

Beside Alicia was her husband, Count Fenwick, resplendent as always in cloak and vest, wearing his signature top hat that he still insisted upon, though it was five years out of fashion. She loved him in it, as she loved everything about him.

The Countess did her best to ignore the squeaks, clucks, brays, snorts, hisses, and caterwauls that resounded through the throne room, and bowed before the pixie. She elbowed her husband, who quickly followed suit. The little elf glanced down to his left where the King of Abernia—assuming a fowl could hold that title—strutted in his rooster-sized ermine robe, the scepter of his office clamped in his beak.

“Count. Countess.” The pixie rubbed his hands together. “I have left you to the end for a reason. Alone among your court, you have always been a good advocate for the forest and its denizens. Your stewardship has not gone unnoticed. Therefore I shall bless you with forms that I find most pleasing. You shall have the shape of those creatures who rid the world best of the pests that plague it, who enjoy the dusk when the light is perfect, and who hear the truth echoing from every corner.”

Alicia fingered the black pearls draped around her neck. “Do…do you mean bats, good sir?”

“Yes,” said the pixie, smiling widely. “That is exactly what I mean.”

IMG_4616

7.

Poor naked humans
Clothed only in flesh
No fur
No wings
No skirt or shawl
No cloak
No cap
We pity them at nightfall
Shed our raiment to leave for them
Then fly away.

8.

Meet me in the barn rafters at midnight, my love
I’ll bring us a bottle of sweet sanguine wine
We will sip it and sing of the coming feast
When we rise up and trample the folk of the village

  • Dave Munger

9.

Snow scratched with charcoal, the portraits of the bat couple were there for all the villagers to see when they rose in the morning.

Each one was 38 metres in length, a precision that should have had some meaning though no-one could fathom what it might be.

They studied the crochet pattern of the shawl, walking the wool as they hooked stitches, to make their own copies. The hat maker felted stove pipe after stove pipe, crushing the top just a touch, and the tailor stitched ragged cloaks, barely finishing one before it was sold.

The villagers gathered in the market square, dressed in their finery, black pearls around their necks, or linen waistcoats worn correctly with the bottom button unfastened.

And when they glanced themselves in the windows they realised that the charcoal portraits were no installation art, or guerrilla marketing campaign. They were an invocation, to transform, to take to the skies. To navigate by the echo and the leather wing, and one by one the villagers accepted the invitation and, dressed in the finest shawls and cloaks, took flight into the snow choked sky.

10.

bats

 

11.

When mating season arrived, Lydia would venture out after sunset, carefully dressed in her very best. Once she had attracted an eligible gentleman, they would repair to a nice restaurant; since Lydia refused to wear spectacles, under the impression that they hid her best features, she would simply laugh, hand the menu to her escort, and ask him to select something for her.

It proved to be a most felicitous strategy, since Lydia had borne several children who had grown to successful and independent adulthood. Of course, it was a bit inconvenient, since Lydia had to raise them on her own, but since all the neighboring ladies suffered under the same vexation, she took it as part of the lot of a fashionable bat female.

12.

going about my business for the day,
I notice
the stares, the whispers, behind hands across mouths
is my hat too tall, my cloak too dramatic?
maybe I tied my cravat in a way unacceptable?
nonetheless, I go about my business for the day.
for I am me, I am beautiful, I am bat.

  • Janet Kraner Morse

13. mating season

when last we met, in this
secluded corner of the keep
i faced away, wings splayed
you, sucking me like a fig
i, reimagining your aerials
the formality of the occasion never fails
to stir me, lured by your love sounds
plunging rush of leather, warm sting
back of my neck, all my pearls
trembling, your grip on my thumbs
inexorable

  • C. S. E. Cooney

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