Readercon 2016: The Rest of It . . .

A few more highlights! The longer I get away from writing about Readercon this year, the more it evanesces, which reminds me of my favorite line from Strange Days, when Angela Bassett (goddess) says to Ralph Fiennes (demigod), “Memories are meant to fade, Lenny. They’re designed that way for a reason.”

But still!

I began Saturday with a rehearsal up in our room, and then attended two gorgeous readings: Mikki Kendall and Ken Schneyer.

Mikki read her FIERCE AND TWISTED Snow White retelling, and also from a new urban fantasy, and in my opinion, she could have gone on reading and I would have been happy. Mikki may or may not have accused Julia SparkyMonster and I of pressuring her to WRITE MORE FICTION so she can READ IT TO US, but I dunno, does sitting in the front row and batting our eyelashes at the author and bouncing in our seats constitute PRESSURE?

Kenneth Schneyer gave us the first few sections of a novella called “Keepsakes”–which was utterly fascinating, and I wish it were finished and polished and PUBLISHED so I could READ THE WHOLE THING.

Later that afternoon, I went to Mike Allen’s reading (BEAUTIFUL SPIDERS! At least, I think they were spiders. SPIDER MATRIARCH QUEENS! From his short story collection Spider Tapestries). And to Delia Sherman’s reading!

Delia gave us the DELICIOUS beginning of THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE, which I’ve read in several drafts and think is just SPLENDID GOOD FUN. With cats and dogs and were-things and wizards, oh my.

Then I did MY reading. And you know, I love to perform.

I’d vacillated between reading from Bone Swans (again) (because the title story will soon appear in Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas 2016!) (and also two stories are being reprinted in Lightspeed and Apex!) or from “The Two Paupers” (again) (since it’s coming out in Rich Horton’s Year’s Best) . . .

But then I thought, “ALL FIVE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT COME TO MY READING HAVE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE!”

So instead, I read from my BRAND NEW SHORT STORY called “Lily-White and the Thief of Lesser Night.”

As people emptied out of Delia’s stuffed-full reading, I thought I’d have a scattered few friends at my reading. I figured 10 or 15 folks would be a TRIUMPH, but knew I’d be grateful for a handful.

BUT THEN PEOPLE KEPT COMING IN and I got VERY GIDDY! And there were MANY STRANGERS in the room. And I read to them, and they LAUGHED, and it was SO FUN!

Ahem.

I have since learned that “Lily-White and the Thief of Lesser Night” will in fact be published, but more on that later, when allowed.

I was so kerflummoxed by good-reading-adrenalin that I almost forgot to run off to my LADY BROMANCES panel! I’d been so looking forward to this. Check out the description:

Ladybromances. C.S.E. Cooney, Gwynne Garfinkle, Theodora Goss (leader), Victoria Janssen, Navah Wolfe. Our friendships are hugely important relationships in our lives, but fiction focuses primarily on romance. Friendships between women receive especially short shrift. We tend to have many more friendships than romantic partners and they can be just as strong and passionate as romances, so why does romance take precedence? What fiction has displayed strong friendships or romances between women? What kinds of stories would we like to see about this kind of relationship?

I’d read two books this year that impressed me with the core knot of female friends at their center: Nnedi Okorafor‘s Who Fears Death and Sharon Shinn‘s Jeweled Fire. I even wrote about them on Black Gate! I also got to talk about L. M. Montgomery a great deal, which made me happy.

Also, I want to read everything ever suggested by the panel and the audience but stupidly did not write anything down. Or did I? Now I can’t remember if I had a notebook that day.

Really interesting point brought up by audience participant about the presence (or lack) of queer friendships in books. I think there is going to be a WHOLE OTHER panel on the subject COMING SOON! At least, so furthering conversations on Twitter and email seemed to indicate.

Now, as I’m scanning the program grid, I CANNOT BELIEVE I forgot to talk about Guest of Honor Catherynne Valente’s GORGEOUS reading on Friday evening. She read from her upcoming novella “The Refrigerator Monologues,” which are seven “fridged” women from a Marvel/DC proxy comic book world, speaking their stories from the underworld. Oh, it was marvelous wounding. OUT WITH SIMON AND SCHUSTER NEXT YEAR!

We had an AMAZING THAI FOOD PICNIC in Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman’s room that night! It was yummy. And full of BEAUTIFUL AND CLEVER AUSTRALIANS!

And then we had to dash out for a soundcheck.

Now for the Miscellany.

A Most Readerconish Miscellany: Join us for an evening of song, games, laughter, and mystique as we celebrate the varied talents of Readercon guests. This year, come ready to suggest outlandish possibilities which our Guests of Honor will try to turn into a plausible story world! We will also be playing a science fictional version of the popular British game show “Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.” The evening will be emcee’d by Heath Miller, voice actor extraordinaire. We will be raising money for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, so consider bringing money if you’d like to help, but no donation is necessary to enjoy the fantastic show!

I got to sing at this–four new Brimstone Rhine songs, from the forthcoming patron’s album Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir.

I chose the songs particularly because the Miscellany is a fundraiser for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and I wanted the songs to be about strong women (“Apex Predator”), women who rescue women (“Lady Knight / Pale Lady”), how we perceive women from received myth and language and how we can make conscious decisions to resist that and/or change the narrative “Fox Girl Song Cycle 1“), and women friendships (“Maggot.”)

It was my deep soul-pleasure to sing songs I wrote specifically for dear friends/patrons who backed my first album, and for a cause “dedicated for healing, advocating for change.” It’s the best reason to sing. I would sing for healing and change, for surviving and thriving ANY TIME.

Also, I loved performing with Carlos Hernandez and Faye Ringel. They were and are a FRIGGIN DELIGHT to work with.

And ALSO? I laughed my butt off. The British game show and Guest of Honor improv that began and ended the night–I mean, I couldn’t breathe. My face hurt. It was wonderful. WONDERFUL! (And again most wonderful wonderful.)

I think Mike Allen wanted me to come to his party afterward, but I was COOKED. I was in bed by 10. That’s just how I roll these days.

On Sunday I saw two more readings, Gillian Daniels and Elaine Isaak. Gillian read a story of many Deaths (it may have been this one? Death Defying Stunts (Not One of Us, April 2014), and Elaine from one of her E. C. Ambrose Dark Apostle novels. 

Some Readercons, I almost want to skip all the panels and just attend readings ALL DAY. In fact, one could do that, if one wanted. Not that panels aren’t great fodder for discussion, for fomenting future panels, for agitating deeper, more interesting, more diverse stories. Panels are totally necessary. But the readings! The readings. I love to watch a writer at work.

That’s that! When I came home on Sunday night, I found out Bone Swans was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and I think I just laughed for about five minutes.

Then I ate some ice cream.

And that, as they say, was that.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Readercon 2016: Thursday and Friday

I’m well into my work week, catapulted right into it from FULL CON MODE, and this coming weekend, Hernandez and Sita and I are attending a ¡Cuban Party! at our buddy Chris’s house in New Jersey.

(Hernandez is cooking. Very exciting. Droolage. You should see the menu. Shall I post it? I’ll post it.)

MENU:
– Seafood Paella
– Beans & Rice
– Yucca
– Roast Pork
– Boliche ??
– Cuban Bread

Antojitos
– Plantains??
– Avocados (garlic & lime)

Dessert
– Flan
– Guava Paste with mild white semi-firm cheese, honey & mint

There! Good morning!

Readercon, for me, was a solid working con–but not so workaday that I didn’t have time to see panels and readings just for fun!

On Thursday night, I attended the BEES! panel:

Max Gladstone, Natalie Luhrs, Julia Rios (moderator), T.X. Watson. From the serious scientific question of colony collapse disorder, through the also-serious metaphoric House of Evil Bees of Captain Awkward, to Chuck Wendig’s ridiculous #facebees, bees seem to proliferate among the interests of our genre community. Why? Are we in it for the honey or the sting, or is it the combination that attracts us?

At this panel, I first heard the myth about “telling it to the bees,” which I thought was just delicious. It also occurred to me that the royalty-rich language in which we have steeped bee behavior might have obscured that behavior. How useful to have an ancient tradition of metaphor, and how beautiful–but does it bias our perception of an insect that has no notion of monarchy? Also, how bees are almost universally benign in literature (save, perhaps, the Winnie the Pooh incident, but he was being a bit of a sneak thief, posing as a little black rain cloud), whilst wasps and hornets are almost universally malignant.

Anyway. Sweet honey for thought!

Friday, I had one panel–which I last-minute moderated. Panels generally make me anxious, and moderating trebly so. But this one went pretty well.

I had a rehearsal at noon for the Miscellany, with Faye Ringel and Carlos Hernandez. I felt very musicianly, practicing up in our room, uke and synth and all. Faye is a goddess, and Hernandez is an agent of mischievous kindliness, and Chris Kreuter and my mother are just ZE BEST CHEERLEADERS. More on that later.

Unfortunately for me, rehearsals collided with Nicole Kornher-Stace’s reading. I was SERIOUSLY MOPED to miss it. Have I missed a single one of her readings since we’ve started attending the same cons? If so, it was only because I was scheduled against her. She read from her NEW SEQUEL to Archivist Wasp!

Hernandez read at 12:30, from The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, a story called “The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory,” one of his Gabi Réal stories–and one that will be reprinted soon in Lightspeed Magazine! Someone came up to him hours after the reading and told him that the story had been haunting him all day. It’s such a good one. Swoon.

I signed autographs at 3, and unlike the last time I had such a slot, PEOPLE ACTUALLY CAME. Not only that, but Gemma Files, Kathleen Jennings, and Hernandez and I just got to hang out for an hour and talk about books. Mainly about Lymond. Well, and The Heaven Tree. No, actually, I have a whole list. Want my list?

Skull and Hyssop
A Song for Summer
Medensky Square
The Secret Countess (sometimes The Countess Belowstairs)
Bellweather
My Family and Other Animals (BBC)
Strong Poison
Have His Carcass
Gaudy Night
Bus Man’s Honeymoon
The Decoy Bride (movie)
Sunshine on Leith (musical)

At 4, I moderated my panel:

Speculative Retellings. C.S.E. Cooney, Ben Francisco, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kathleen Howard, Catherynne M. Valente. Speculative elements in fiction are not limited to robots and ghosts and dragons. For ages, the stories that get told have almost always been by told straight white able rich men, and there may be no way of separating those stories from the culture of writing today. In stories like Travels With the Snow Queen by Kelly Link, or Shift by Nalo Hopkinson, retelling old stories written by white men becomes an inherent challenge to those narratives, and that challenge itself becomes a speculative element. What other elements can we bring to these stories, and will we ever get to a point where challenging the status quo is not seen as speculative?

This was lovely, and the panelists did most of my work for me. I’m glad I did my research and had questions prepared though. I like to throw the panel open to the audience a little earlier than some, because there are often more questions than we have time to answer, and I like a wider conversation. OR IS IT LAZINESS?

At 5, we had our Clockwork Phoenix 5 Reading:

Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez, Keffy Kehrli, Barbara Krasnoff, Cameron Roberson, Sonya Taaffe, A.C. Wise. Contributors to the bestselling fifth installment in the critically-acclaimed, boundary-expanding Clockwork Phoenix anthology series read excerpts from their stories.

And then, I dunno . . . Dinner?

More later. Gosh. I don’t know how I thought I’d get 4 days plus THE EXCITING NEWS in one post. I mean, this is me we’re talking about here.

I write long.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Readercon Readings, Panels, Concert

FRIDAY

3 PM
AUTOGRAPH TABLE
(AKA, a chance to chat with GEMMA FILES!)

4 PM
SALON 6
Speculative Retellings
Cooney, Francisco, Garfinkle, Howard, Valente

5 PM
ROOM A
Clockwork Phoenix 5 Reading

SATURDAY

2:30
READING!
(AKA “The SUPER LUCKY PRIME TIME Right-After-Delia-Sherman-Reads Slot!)
New short story “Lily-White and the Thief of Lesser Night.”

3 PM
SALON 6
Ladybromances
Cooney, Garfinkle, Goss, Janssen, N. Wolfe

7:30-9:30

SALONS 5-6
A Most Readerconish Miscellany
CONCERT!
This year I get to do four of the new BRIMSTONE RHINE songs, accompanied by Carlos Hernandez on ukulele and Faye Ringel on piano!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hadestown at New York Theatre Workshop

O LADY OF SHADES! Guess what I got to see today?

Anais Mitchell’s HADESTOWN as put on by the New York Theatre Workshop!

Here are a few links for those of you who do not know what this musical is:

Wikipedia! NPR! Amazon!

Oh, and here’s this article I did for BLACK GATE MAGAZINEwhere I interviewed the INCREDIBLE ARTIST PETER NEVINS who designed the CD jacket art for Hadestown! (Well, and all the poster art you see for it too–not to mention for the Child Ballads as well!)

And here’s a review of the Hadestown album that Amal El-Mohtar wrote for Black Gate!

And a YOUTUBE VIDEO of “Hadestown” the song!

I guess…I’ve been with this musical since 2011, maybe 2010, and what I NEVER KNEW (though occasionally hoped for/suspected) was HOW MUCH MUSIC WAS MISSING FROM THE CD!

The CD is maybe more like HIGHLIGHTS.

Sure, you can extrapolate the story from the given material, especially if you read Edith Hamilton’s and Bulfinch’s Mythologies OBSESSIVELY as a child (>.>), but there were ALL THE SONGS I’D NEVER HEARD!

Plus the spare, direct, dialogue/poems that SEEM at first glance-off-the-ear to be too simple, almost facile, and then a slant rhyme catches you off guard, snags you, breaks you… And you think, you think, REVELATION, you think WONDER, you think, COLOSSUS!

My series of Tweets from Intermission:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.35.34 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.36.03 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.36.11 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.36.22 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.36.30 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.36.41 PM

When Hernandez and I emerged from the theatre, we walked arm in arm a while in the sunny breeze–on this, the first truly sultry weekend of late spring.

After a while, I said, “You know…Right before Hermes repeats that line about how we all know how the story ends, but we keep singing it–because it’s the brave thing to do, it’s brave to sing in hopes that THIS time, it will turn out differently… Right before he sang that, I thought, I mean, I KNOW this is going to end the way it does! I even know where on the stage it will happen. I even know HOW it will be lit. But maybe, I don’t know, maybe this time it will surprise me. Maybe they’ll make it out. Even though they warned me they wouldn’t.”

hadestown-1280x720-1280x720And Hernandez said, “I had the same thought.”

The tears were still drying on both our faces.

What catharsis. What ritual. Old and new at once–AND it had me dancing in my seat.

I told Hernandez, “My friends who edit the mythic poetry magazine GOBLIN FRUIT” –incidentally, after we saw the matinee, they went to see the 8 PM performance– “say that the poems most often submitted are Persephone poems. Well, and Mermaid poems. I mean, I myself wrote an Orpheus & Eurydice/Persephone & Hades musical mess in high school. Here’s a juvenilia line by C. S. E. Cooney: “And down the Lord’s stone face ran tears of rusty iron glistening.” 

I looked at him.

“Carlos,” I said, “I’ve been waiting MY WHOLE LIFE to see Hades cry!!!”

He smiled. “You really have, haven’t you?”

And that’s what this musical–this folk opera–did.

It gave me the tears of the Lord of the Dead. And his big baritone bass. And his cynical face.

And it gave me the bright sharp green of Persephone, and the sunlight on her shoulders. And her dancing. HER DANCING!

And it gave me Hermes, who moved as slinky as a mink and as gravely as thunder. With his voice like gravel and the shuffling of a joker deck.

And it gave me the three Fates–who showed their close kinship with the Furies, their howling outrage, their vulturous aspects, their tight harmonies. How I feared and longed for them.

And it gave me fierce Eurydice, strong and bold and mischievous and afraid and hungry and cold.

And it gave me gentle, gentle Orpheus, with his voice that cracked and soared, his voice as pure as a newborn’s, his frailty, his joy.

Flyer-for-Hadestown-500Truly I can say that my favorite German word (not that I know many) was at play here. Gesamtkunstwerk.

So much masterful art went into the making of this uber-masterwork of art. The costumes, the choreography, the lighting, the bone-pale stage tree–roots reflecting branches–the direction, the musicians–ah, the precision and playfulness of the musicians!

It was lovely. It made me want to work.

The flaws–if they should be considered flaws–are in the gender-locked and old-fashioned nature of the myth itself: What is man, what is woman, how do we perceive each other, how they’re ever in opposition?

Even gender-bending the casting would only go a little way in opening up a wider picture.

But perhaps that is not the job of Hadestown. Perhaps it is the job of someone else, who emerges from their katabasis at the New York Theatre Workshop to a world full of what is possible.

“What story can I tell? What story do we already know that we must hear again–but as we have never heard it before?”

Ah. Good theatre always pisses me off and roils me up and makes me very restless. I am grateful for it. It is the flip side to fertile boredom: fertile outrage. Fertile collaboration. Fertile inspiration.

Watching a colossus (like Anais Mitchell, and the folks at NYTW) at works just makes me want to stand on the shoulders of giantesses.


SSPOn ANOTHER NOTE, but apropos:

I got home and found out that filker and “geeky musician” Dr. Mary Crowell is running a KICKSTARTER to fund her new mythic blues/jazz album “Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour.”

Here’s the site!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drmarycrowell/scattering-seeds-on-the-pomegranate-tour-music-alb

I just supported it myself, before listening to the video even. THEN I LISTENED. And I did NOT REGRET IT!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Champagne Nebula: Part II of The Gowning

PORTRAIT OF A GODDESS AT WORK!

OH MY GOSH!

BETSIE WITHEY IS A GODDESS!!!

I said it before in Part I of The Gowning . . . But what the heck.

I’m gonna say it again.

TOTAL GODDESS!

IMG_6167So.

She started out with the pattern.

Well, you’ve already seen the pattern. It’s in PART I! 

But just in case, I sum up.

So she took the pattern, and then she made the dress in muslin.

She made the dress in muslin TWICE! 

IMG_6165WHY? Because she wanted it PERFECT!

Each time she made it, she re-wrote the pattern to fit my non-Vogue-model body EXACTLY!

She followed all idiosyncratic curves, discrepancies, peculiarities, and my STRANGELY ENCHANTED shoulders from which all straps SLIP OFF FOREVER!!!

She wrote all my measurements in her little notebook. Measured and remeasured.

IMG_6184Ahem.

Betsie’s little notebook.

Betsie, writing in it.

Adorbs.

And then.

IMG_6366Then she made the main part of the dress.

Out of the FANCY GOLD STUFF OF GLORY.

(This isn’t even the best part.)

(As Betsie will herself tell you, “My great strength is embellishing. Free-hand embroidery.”)

Then I went a-traveling. I get home, and what has my MAGNIFICENT TEXTILE ARTIST ROOMMATE DONE?

IMG_6602A GREAT DEAL OF EMBELLISHING!!!

TA-DA!

Tomorrow, we pin them on me in the places that will most exactly suit my body.

Oh.

Look.

There’s also a train.

A FRIKKIN FAERIE TRAIN!

SHOWING HERE!

IMG_6611
IMG_6612

IMG_6606
And it’s even PRETTIER NOW, because she made more flowers, and they’re going to sort of ASYMMETRICALLY CASCADE.

And a big one for my hair and a ribbon for my throat, and she’s gonna sew all those little crystals we bought RIGHT INTO THE FLOWERS . . .

AND it is SO BEAUTIFUL, it’s like this living thing, this piece of LIQUID SUMMER SUNLIGHT AND BUTTERFLY FLOWER FLUTTERY THINGS AND I LOVE IT!!!

What’s more.

IMG_5562(I know.)

(Her gifts know NO END!)

She told my beloved Carlos Hernandez that she would make a flower for his hat.

<— This VERY HAT, in fact!

(I got it for him. Birthday present, precious. Gollum, Gollum!)

And these fine items from the VICTORIAN GENTLEMEN’S EMPORIUM:

VestPants,  CravatPin.

 

004312_01002586_01b
002911_01

003190_01IMG_6609So the flower she made?

Will look a bit like this.

With either a tiger’s eye bead in the center, or a dark emerald-colored pearl.

And he will look very fine.

And VERY RAKISH.

Like a Gentleman Cardsharp.

So I’m just sayin’ . . .

BETSIE WITHEY, EVERYBODY! 

Find her at The Faerie Market, on Etsy! 

And I’ll be wearing her art PROUDLY at the Nebula Awards Banquet. Which I’m sort of viewing as Prom for Grown-Ups.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We Are Fools For Love…of ROSARIUM!

In which Carlos Hernandez and I, uh, dance like chickens and sing for Rosarium.

Rosarium didn’t ask us to. Maybe would have paid us NOT to. But we did it anyway.

We’re just that kind of clown.

SUPPORT ROSARIUM! SUPPORT #WeNeedDiverseBooks! LEVEL UP AT INDIEGOGO!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rosarium FTW! On Waking Up, and Making a Vlog…

Today’s my last day of narrating Kameron Hurley’s THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION for HighBridge Audio.

As I’ve been working on this project this week–which is all about, you guessed it, feminism, geekdom, genre, erasure, power, resistance–Rosarium Publishing has been running their Indiegogo Campaign.

I’ve got this odd feeling of unity, because Rosarium is, like, one big act of resistance all by itself. Do you think #WeNeedDiverseBooks? ROSARIUM HAS THEM!

Anyway, I’m a huge fan. I put my money where my mouth is, and now I’m putting my mouth where my money is, I guess!

To that end, I made this wee little VLOG. First thing in the morning. With a hat on.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brimstone Rhine Update!

I know it has been long and long again, faithful backers of Brimstone Rhine!

But I gotcher back! I haven’t forgotten about you!

1. All CDs have been MASTERED and PRESSED and SHIPPED TO ME in a cunning box FULL OF CDs. Yes, CDs!!! THAT YOU HELPED MAKE! Showing here:

FullSizeRender

 

I wasn’t sure that, after all that work, they’d actually, you know, WORK! So I tested one. AND GUESS WHAT IT WORKED!!!

 

IMG_6092

 

MEANWHILE, we’d had our local silkscreening company, the FABULOUS and FABOOSH J Mack Studios in Westerly, make our PRINTS! I picked out a nice thick beautiful paper, and we silkscreened 4 prints per page. Which means…

APPLICATION OF STRAIGHT EDGE AND STRAIGHT RAZOR WHILE LISTENING TO A DOROTHY SAYERS NOVEL ON MY NANO, GA-DOING!

 

IMG_6188

This work will result in a backer, like this backer here, receiving the GOODS, both CD and PRINT, in the mail. SOON!

(Okay, so this backer just happened to be STANDING RIGHT THERE, so I just GAVE him his, all right, but you’ll get YOURS soon enough!)

IMG_6156
We are printing out labels on Sunday. I’ll package everything up this week and hope to ship ’em out by Thursday!

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!!! 

If your ADDRESS HAS CHANGED
since backing the
BRIMSTONE RHINE PROJECT
in February and March of 2015
PLEASE CONTACT ME
with your
UPDATED ADDRESS INFORMATION!!!

In other news, the Dread Templeton, as I think you know, designed the cover for the Backer’s Album, CORBEAU BLANC, CORBEAU NOIR. Showing here:

12487226_10153337700821662_8175891318836792334_o

LIMITED PRINTS will be available for sale sometime soon. I say limited and I mean LIMITED!

And, as all of this is happening, we are slowly but surely working on setting the backers’ songs to ukulele. They were “written” in true Brimstone Rhine style. As in, “scribbled on a notebook with the melody sung into the Voice Recorder app on my phone.” So you can imagine what collaborating with me to find the ACTUAL CHORDS must be like.

ANYWAY! COMING SOON!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Champagne Nebula: Part One of The Singing

This is my first time on the Nebula Nominations ballot. But you know whose first time this ISN’T? My friend, Amal El-Mohtar.

Now, Amal . . .

I have know Amal for nine years now. Nine. That’s an auspicious number, is it not?

She’s one of my oldest friends in-genre, and certainly the first good friend I ever met and made at a con. She’s also one of the most luminous, the most garrulous, the most welcoming, and hard-working, and people fight duels over her, and also she fights her own duels.

This is documented.

What else is documented about Amal El-Mohtar? Oh, you can find much of it here. Formidable woman.

Her story, “Madeleine,” published last year by Lightspeed Magazine, is a Nebula finalist in the short story category. Hernandez and I are trying to make a point of reading them all out loud, before working our way up to longer work. But if we never finish, at least we’ll have started with Amal.

. . . And we did read that wicked funny one about cat pics. That may get its own song.

But here is an idea I had this morning while driving to work. You all get it in its drafty-ass form, with a romantic smudgy filter, right from my MacBook’s PHOTOBOOTH.

I’ve been narrating all day in the studio, and that shows–but I won’t apologize for my voice. It’s just a voice. This is just a song. And it’s all meant in love.

“Madeleine” 

by C. S. E. Cooney

A tribute to Amal El-Mohtar 

Madeleine, where are you going?
Madeleine, where you have you been?
Madeleine, what are you looking for?
Where are you going?

Madeleine, I see you standing there
Is this present or is this past?
Madeleine, what does it matter?
Our love here is meant to last

Touch me, my distant Madeleine
Come, open up your glass
Touch me, is this a memory?
I hear you laughing

Madeleine, I know you’re grieving
Your heart’s so wild and sore
Madeleine, you have a friend in me
I’m your friend forevermore

Madeleine, Madeleine
Hold me
And I’ll find you
I will find you
On the other side of dreaming

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Champagne Nebula: Part I of The Gowning

The closet of my 34-year-old self is my inner six-year-old’s ideal version of her “dress-up chest.”

Due to a lack of storage space in our apartment, I share my closet with my roommate Jess. This is great, because the number of crinolines and shipwreck skirts and bustled black satin things has increased, like, 300%.

Roommate Jess, AKA "The Goblin Queen," who is the only one I know who can combine Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses with corset, antlers, FitBit, and Greek Goddess sea-foam shift, and make it look... cool.

Roommate Jess, AKA “The Goblin Queen,” the only one I know who can combine Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses with corset, antlers, FitBit, and Greek Goddess sea-foam shift, and make it look… cool.

So. To the point of this blog.

Just over a week ago, the SFWA announced the Nebula Award nominations, and my novella “Bone Swans” was among them. It’s not anything I’d looked for; it didn’t occur to me to hope for it–the whole notion is still extraordinary. Anyway.

Bone_Swans_mockup_ALT-1
There’s this Awards Banquet!

And my beloved Carlos Hernandez (author of The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria) will accompany me. And he TOLD me, with a green twinkle in his twinkly green eyes, that I could dress him AS I PLEASE!

…Perhaps I shall do a WHOLE SEPARATE POST on that, because WHOA FREE REIN!

(What happened the last few times he told me I could dress him up. Tee hee.)

He’s so adorable.

 

IMG_2062 (2)

I can’t stand it.

 

20150614_181104 (1)

But I’ll keep him.

 

IMG_3850

Because, suspenders.

As for myself.

Really. I have all these gowns. And sometimes I dress in red-velvet-with-train JUST to go GROCERY SHOPPING. There is a sad LACK of OCCASION to wear pretty things as often as I’d like.

For the Nebula Awards Banquet, I was just going to go through my mighty, magnificent, utterly over-the-top, Looney Tunes-operatic-level-of-thrift-store decadence wardrobe, and choose one of  the many things there.

Typical Go To the Grocery Store Gown... Just kidding; I probably had a reading at the library or something. To which 2.7 people showed up.

Typical “Go To the Grocery Store Ensemble.” Just kidding; I probably had a reading at the library or something. To which 2.7 people showed up. BUT THEY WERE THE RIGHT PEOPLE!

 

IMG_5797

That’s right. Those are BETSIE WITHEY flowers in my hair!!! You’ll find out about those presently.

But.

My other roommate, the one who is NOT poet/writer/editor/artist/shipwreck skirt-and-black-satin-bustle-mermaid Jessica P. Wick, just happens to be an ARCHITECT OF SILK AND PEARL, a textile artist and expert free-style embroiderer, an Etsy business owner and a general über-wunder-MARVELWOMAN!

Roomates Jess (left), in Shipwreck Corset. Betsie (right), wearing some flowers she made.

Roommates Jess (left), in Shipwreck Corset. Betsie (right), wearing some flowers she made.

 

IMG_6037

Betsie and I went to The Breakers mansion today, in Newport, RI to gawk at the gilded cherubs and the marble everything. Twilight fell on the Cliff Walk as we walked, the Atlantic ever to our left. I wore a Betsie flower on my hat.

Yeah.

Basically, what I realized is…

I live with frikkin Betsie Withey.

She made this:

5181050142_dc60ee7ff7_m
And this:

5715284552_c0f49e2b91_m
And this!

betsie-art

AND THIS!!!

tumblr_n9dve9xnFf1tgjpq8o1_500

That’s our friend Caitlyn Paxson modeling. She’s a poet, storyteller, novelist, editor, and singer/songwriter! We love her.

You can find Betsie’s Tumblr here.

And her Etsy shop, The Faerie Market, here.

I live with Betsie Withey, gosh darn it, and today I FRIKKIN COMMISSIONED HER TO MAKE ME A GOWN!!!

A long time ago, I had this random dreamy idea for something called “The Champagne Gown.”

It was just a vague notion of a glittery pink and gold thing. In my head I wore it barefoot for no reason at all. Just traipsin’, ye ken?

But now I have a reason. And I have a pattern. (Vogue something something, size 18–in case you were wondering.) It looks like this:

That's the basic pattern anyway.

That’s the basic pattern anyway.

Today, before we went to visit the Vanderbilts’ “Summer Cottage” in Newport, we went up to Warwick, RI to Jo-Ann Fabrics…

And we picked out the pink and gold materials and embellishment bits for the CHAMPAGNE NEBULA GOWN.

Showing here:

FullSizeRender-2
IMG_6058

FullSizeRender

It's like wearing a certain sort of sky.

It’s like wearing a certain sort of sky.

I sort of view Betsie’s part in this gown-making adventure as the SARTORIAL EQUIVALENT of living with Tita from Like Water for Chocolate.

Betsie Withey pours herself into her creations. Her attention to detail, her lavish love of textiles, her glowing colors, her fantastically detailed embroidery, the happiness she derives from making other people feel beautiful–oh, she is SPLENDID!

I am so proud and excited to have embarked on this collaboration with her. And by collaboration, I really mean…

She does all the work. I do all the wearing. Ahem.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized