Boskone 2018 Schedule

Folktales Within Poetry
Friday Feb 16, 2018
6:00 PM
Marina 3
1 hour

All the Universe’s a Stage …
Friday Feb 16, 2018
7:00 PM
Marina 3
1 hour

Reading by C. S. E. Cooney
Saturday Feb 17, 2018
3:00 PM
30 minutes

Open Mic: Myths & Legends!
Saturday Feb 17, 2018
Galleria – Stage
8:00 PM
1 hour

Sound and Fury: Storytelling in Audio Drama
Sunday Feb 18, 2018
Marina 2
1 hour


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for Carlos Hernandez, on his birthday


many are the wonders

of our waterlogged city


one turquoise coat: canal-colored

velvet-silk, with silver lacings

one silhouette of lagoon-maid, sleeping

on mossy steps, hair wet and

red as a painted door

one mask, black as cuttlefish served

in its own ink

one glass stylus, one glass dagger, one seal


then the circus came

and all these marvels



she knew at once

Pasiphaë’s passion, and burned


to behold the Rhinoceros


calm, oblivious beast

mighty in his withers

ignorant of woman

who groans behind her mask


by double-horned desire

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Dark Have Been My Dreams Of Late.

My brain took “smash the patriarchy” very literally last night, as I took a hammer to the head of a Stephen King-esque father-figure (think Rose Madder, The Shining, It), who kept trying to kill me by making me fix the roof, and then boobytrapping all points of access to it.

Finally, when a huge hammer (meant for my head) fell from the roof to my feet, I took it and went after him. He had lined up his wife and children, and was waving a gun around, talking about how he could kill all of them with a single squeeze of his trigger.

I hit him in the head.

He scoffed at me, told me to do better. I hit him again. I kept hitting him, hard. He wouldn’t go down. After one really good blow, he turned to me, eyes kind. In a gentle voice, he said, “Keep hitting me. Don’t stop till its done.”

And he was much more like my father then, and I was crying, but I kept hitting him with a hammer, because he’d kill everyone if I didn’t. He wanted me to stop him. Anyway, brutal.

In another part of the dream, we had a Gaston-like villain shouting racial slurs and abuses at the top of his lungs. A line of Live-Action Disney Princesses stood against him, shouting back in Arabic.

One of the princesses was the Cinderella. She said, “I lied about my age to work here. I’ve been 22 for 15 years. I’m 37 years old. I used to be a janitor.”

She had a sparkling blue ball gown that was an AI. It had been with her since her childhood, and grew as she grew. It had once been sort of like her teddybear and nursemaid/nightgown, and now it was her confidante and Disney Princess costume. And it looked fabulous.

Then I had to teach a class about the anthology Mad Hatters and March Hares to schoolgirls who didn’t speak English, and only spoke a little French.

So in English, French, and really bad pantomime, I started telling the story of Merlin, figuring you have to begin with King Arthur to even get up to speed on Lewis Carroll? I have a strong memory of saying, “Merlin . . . vie . . . backwards!” And walking backwards.

I tried to explain that Merlin would die just as he was about to be born by pantomiming a pregnant woman. This, the girls understood, and all started talking about how many babies they wanted to have.


There was more. But those were the highlights.

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Paris est SUPER-BON!

Things I have learned:

1. My tush is PLUS TROP PLEIN D’AVOIRDUPOIS for Norwegian Air. At least, for the Exit Row seats. (That wasn’t real French, BTW. That was bruised-tush-patois!)  However, bathrooms were convenient! MERCI, MES MILLE BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI!

2. NOTRE DAME IS REAL! It was real in the 12th century, and it was real during ALL THE REVOLUTIONS, and it was real when the Nazis occupied Paris, and it is still real RIGHT NOW, RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET! MERCI, MES MILLE BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI!

3. When you go to buy a BAGUETTE, you must hit up EVERY SINGLE BAKERY and get SEVERAL, and then, as you are walking home, it is IMPERIAL TRADITION to taste them RIGHT AWAY and compare them! The “emperor” in this case being Ellen Kushner. MERCI, MES MILLE BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI! (Et merci, Ellen! Wahoo!)

4. Delia makes really good great good great chicken soup! SUPER-BON! SOUPE AU POULET! MERCI, MES MILLES BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI! (Et merci, Delia! Ga-DOING!)

5. Liz Duffy Adams has a sparkly green coat and she got it for $15 before she came to Paris and it was made for Paris and it was made for her and it was made for her in Paris, et VOILA! MERCI, MES MILLE BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI! (Et merci, Liz! HOT DIGGITY!)

6. Mon mari est très gentil. Il est mon chevalier. Je l’adore. Also, he wiggles.
(Dit-on “remouer” ou “se trémousser” pour “wiggle”, je me demande???)
MERCI, MES MILLE BONNES DÉESSES, MERCI! (Et merci mille fois, mon cher Carlos!)

7. What else? Bakeries? Open air markets? Grocery stores? We’ve been here about 27 hours, 13 of which I was asleep, but so far it’s been all about the food. Writing to come. Soon. Right now, in fact. And so–AU REVOIR, MES BEAUX AMIS!

– C. S. E. Cooney

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New Vlog! SWORD AND SONNET Kickstarter!

I made this VLOG!

I wrote a story for SWORD AND SONNET, an anthology now funding on Kickstarter!

Only five days left to back this great book about women and non-binary BATTLE POETS!

The editors have solicited contributors Alex Acks, Malon Edwards, Spencer Ellsworth, Samantha Henderson, S. L. Huang, Cassandra Khaw, Margo Lanagan, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, Tony Pi, A. Merc Rustad, A. C. Wise, and ME!!!

Then, when it funds, the anthology will open to submissions!


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For Virginia in Autumn


For Virginia in Autumn

for Virginia Mohlere, authoress
by C. S. E. Cooney

to be crushed under-
foot, nor to fall
like a bird at worm
but to walk
as an empress
dispensing autumn
to the populace

she is the untucked
of a tallow tree
pretending to be
wearing her Orion bracelet
pink hair piled
high, a ragged flag
in the face of winter
showing her reds, her reds
her gold

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GILDED SUFFRAGISTS: The New York Socialites who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote

SYNOPSIS (from Tantor)

“In the early twentieth century over two hundred of New York’s most glamorous socialites joined the suffrage movement. Their names—Astor, Belmont, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Vanderbilt, Whitney, and the like—carried enormous public value. These women were the media darlings of their day because of the extravagance of their costume balls and the opulence of the French couture clothes, and they leveraged their social celebrity for political power, turning women’s right to vote into a fashionable cause.

Although they were dismissed by critics as bored socialites “trying on suffrage as they might the latest couture designs from Paris,” these gilded suffragists were at the epicenter of the great reforms known collectively as the Progressive Era. From championing education for women, to pursuing careers, and advocating for the end of marriage, these women were engaged with the swirl of change that swept through the streets of New York City.

Johanna Neuman restores these women to their rightful place in the story of women’s suffrage. Understanding the need for popular approval for any social change, these socialites used their wealth, power, social connections and style to excite mainstream interest and to diffuse resistance to the cause.”


So many reasons! It was beautifully and entertainingly written, for one. Deeply researched. It also seemed to make century-old gossip seem as fresh as the latest scandal-tweet.

It had just enough gilding to make it glitter, and indulged enthusiastically in sartorial and architectural descriptions–but it also (and this was the most shocking yet somehow hideously unsurprising part), took a keen and measured look at erasure in history: how white women have erased black women from the feminist movement over and over again; and how a new generation of the women’s movement will ruthlessly work to obliterate evidence of the old, as if liberation were their–and only their–story to tell.

Though the concentration of this book was focused on the nineteen-teens, it stretched tendrils into the 1890’s, and tentacles into the 1920’s, giving us a hint of whence came this major shift in women’s–and human rights’–history, and where, inevitably, it was going.

THE EXTRA WOMAN: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It

SYNOPSIS (from Tantor)

“Marjorie Hillis was working at Vogue when she published the radical self-help book Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. With Dorothy Parker–esque wit, she urged spinsters, divorcees, and old maids to shed derogatory labels, and her philosophy became a phenomenon. From the importance of a peignoir to the joy of breakfast in bed (alone), Hillis’s tips made single life desirable and chic.

Now, historian and critic Joanna Scutts reclaims Hillis as the queen of the “Live-Aloners” and explores the turbulent decades that followed, when the status of these “brazen ladies” peaked and then collapsed. The Extra Woman follows Hillis and others like her who forged their independent paths before the 1950s saw them trapped behind picket fences yet again.”


Well, for one, I had that song, “Live Alone and Like It,” from Dick Tracy by Stephen Sondheim stuck in my head all week. Here’s Dr. Who’s own Captain Jack (AKA John Barrowman) singing it at a review in 2008, though I’m more familiar with Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall version, from 1992, found here.

Anyway, that was very cheerful. And also–this book, chronologically, follows so closely on the heels of Gilded Suffragists that I about near fell over. It’s like I knew all these things happened in history, but I didn’t understand the order, or how one thing fed into the next, and how the cumulative view brings us to where we are today. This book covers the 1920’s-1960’s, from the flappers, the the Crash, to the Great Depression, to WWII, and then the strange, strange 1950’s, through Kinsey and the 60’s!

And through it all, this woman, Hillis, keeps insisting that women are people, that it was okay to live alone–could even be joyful and glamorous. That it was okay to be single, or divorced, or widowed. That it was okay to be old. That it was your business. That your home was your space to claim.  Not to bother “keeping up with the Joneses” but to pay attention to no one else’s numbers but your own. And to budget the luxuries.

I loved it.


The author Joanna Scutts is curating a special exhibit at the New York Historical Society called “Hotbed.”

…WHICH I PUT IN THE CALENDAR AND I’LL BE GOING TO! It’s on from the first week of November 2017 to March of 2018.

From the website:

Hotbed explores the vibrant political and artistic scene of Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, where men and women joined forces across the boundaries of class and race to fight for a better world. At the heart of the downtown radicals’ crusade lay women’s rights: to control their own bodies, to do meaningful work, and above all, to vote. Immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images—drawn from New-York Historical’s archives and several private collections—bring to life the bohemian scene and its energetic activist spirit. The exhibition is curated by Joanna Scutts, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s History, and Sarah Gordon, Senior Postdoctoral Marie Zimmermann Legacy Fellow in Women’s History, under the direction of Valerie Paley, vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society, and is on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery.”

GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION: Essays on Subversion, Tactical Profanity, and the Power of the Media

SYNOPSIS (from HighBridge Audio)

“As geek culture goes mainstream—from Game of Thrones to the Avengers—it’s never been more important to look at the role women play in it, and the future they’re helping to create. Kameron Hurley’s smart, funny, and profane voice guides readers through the world of fandom and the coming revolution in pop culture.

Kameron Hurley—one of the most influential young voices in science fiction and geek culture—presents The Geek Feminist Revolution: Essays on Subversion, Tactical Profanity, And the Power of MediaThe Geek Feminist Revolution is Bad Feminist for the Comic-Con crowd. This powerful collection of essays is about overcoming misogyny in geek culture, the persistence required to succeed as a woman writing science fiction, and imagining a better world and a better future through the stories we write.”


This was the first of these three books I narrated, and the first piece of feminist non-fiction I ever had the pleasure to put my mouth to. Egad, it set such FIRES in me. I was buzzing for days. It made me feel very fierce, and very informed–particularly since SF/F is the genre I write in, and I kept bumping into names of peers in my field.

But when taken together with these other two books, and thinking about where women are, and where we came from, and what it means to be a woman right now, working, struggling, trying to rise above apathy, and move toward justice, it just . . . it makes me want to read it all over again–this time for pleasure. And buy copies for friends.

It is a very specific set of essays, focused on a particular time (now) and place (the internet, mostly) and community (geeks everywhere!), but some of that specificity has wide repercussions. Gamer Gate, for example, and trolling, and cyber-bullying, and identity, and survival. I recalled it strongly as I narrated the two more recent releases above, and felt the honor of having narrated it all over again.

(Link to comprehensive audiobook discography here.)

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Casa Hernandooney

Carlos, Mir, and I put up all our new bookshelves over the past few days. Because, hey! I MOVED TO QUEENS!

Boy, those two were like SHELF SURGEONS, and I was like their DEVOTED NURSE.

“Yes, Doctor.”
“Allen wrench!”
“Right here, Doctor.”
“On it, Doctor!”
“Thingy. Where’s that thingy…”
“THIS thingy?”

I read the instructions out loud and separated out all the little pieces and handed them things at the right time. They did all the work. Often faster than I could read out the simple instruction.

HA! This is how I like to BUILD!

The house is the most INTERESTING shipwreck, but all the bones are in place to build a PALACE.

The wall of boxes is reduced by 2/3s. The furniture is shifted. A few more rooms to unpack, and art to remix and decide on. The conversation is fluid.

But today? Today we’re taking off, to be quiet and rested. Well, I AM ANYWAY. Hernandez and Mikiel are all like, “I’m gonna write novels!” and “I’m gonna devise theatre pieces!”

(This is Mir’s stage directing reel…)

My favorite thing Mir said today, so casually? “It’s always interesting to work with geniuses.”


She has this TALENT, you see.

You don’t get into the graduate program for Directing at Columbia University unless you GOT IT. And she’s got IT tattooed in blue across her eyeballs! Of course, you can’t see it, because her eyes are blue.

So, here I am on Facebook. But all around me, ART is being done. Because I live amongst GENIUSES.

So, you know. THAT’S OKAY.

And now, I shall go back to watching Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall.

That’s how I started my morning. This one’s killing me:

Also, on top of EVERYTHING???

Today is Will Alexander‘s BOOK RELEASE DAY for A Properly Unhaunted Place! O HAPPY DAY, WILL!

Last Saturday, the three of us went to see him on a panel at Books of Wonder, along with Tui Sutherland, and Sarah Darer Littman. That was so great!

My favorite thing Will said that day was, “Read widely and wildly.”

(Well, that’s what I REMEMBER, anyway. I didn’t have a notebook, and so couldn’t write down all the cool things everyone said. I only remembered THAT one because of the pleasing alliteration!)

But then, just now, on Facebook, he said–about reading aloud–“A book does need to breathe.”

And I can’t WAIT to “breathe” his new book aloud with Carlos on the couch! We’re going to take turns reading chapters to each other. Because… HAUNTED RENAISSANCE FESTIVALS FTW!!!

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Wednesday 12:26 AM

carlos, you’re sleeping; I’m sneaking

out to write this

on naked tiptoe, bump your leg

as I glissade from my side of the futon

touch your ankle in



maybe you, mostly dreaming

think I’m in the bathroom, one of those

night calls, natural


it’s just there was this poem, fueled

by the last dregs of ice tea and



today we

walked the borderlands of lead-dusted

soccer fields, empty picnic tables, while

diamond-cut through chainlink, we beheld

unrealized innovation–

that old abandoned grain-mill in her

havisham wedding shroud, black

mold lace and graffiti greasepaint



just up Columbus Street

the flags of IKEA

brave a breastmilk wind


today we argued about, what?

about benches, about nothing

some little thing that’s nothing

my throat yipped like a hawk scraping her

chalky beak on the ritual blackboard

of atonement:


I shall not speak harshly to those I love

I shall not speak harshly to those I love

I shall not, I shall not . . . 


it’s midnight, and I have this poem to write


your hair?

when it’s long, is a love-letter and

a gallop of cherubs, a hug hello, a detonated poodle

your hair is every ring I want to wear

yet come the shearing season

my name is murder


the shape of your skull is

frozen yogurt sweetness on the sweaty thighs

of August

your eyes sleepy, glitter on your lashes

(see what comes of kissing me?)

you shift your ukulele to your right shoulder

to better take my hand


ah, you’re lovely, you’re lovely,

and i


out of the habit

of poetry



Later that morning, he wrote on my Facebook page:

My love, I have awoken.
You’re sleeping here beside me.
You rose last night to write me

I shudder without moving.
I laugh without a sound.
I wouldn’t want to accidentally wake you

For your sleep was interrupted
Last night for love of me.
I slept through my becoming

But now I am awake, love,
To enjoy the evidence
Of your midnight’s burst of passion-possessed

With me, for me to find today,
Asynchronous of you.
Sleep now. I’ll wake you with kisses at

Carlos Hernandez


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Art for Art 3

To continue our “Art inspired by Art” posts about Betsie Withey’s fiber art (read Parts 1 and 2!), here is a letter J9 wrote to her younger sister . . .

Or did she? Sounds more like Gentry mischief to me–letters winging on leaves and wind from one Faerie court to another. Seelie or Unseelie–who can say?

Well, perhaps the author, 9, can say.

(Her writing can also be found at Nin Nyx Natterings.)

Dearest Q,

I love that these flowers allow us to think to each other! That unaligned milliner… wait, no, that’s not the right word… that’s just for hats. Seamstress? Artist? I don’t know. Whatever she is, the magic that B puts into her creations is amazing! Don’t let anyone in either court know that I thought this, but she is better than any of the royalty in both the Seelie and the Unseelie courts rolled together! 

It has been so long, dear sister. How are your hoards of shining children? And your performances… are you still doing them nightly before the court? Do they still love you? Are you still their darling? 

My cluster of cats are doing well. Many of the Unseelie will rent them to ride into the human world for a day. It has turned into quite a lucrative business! I purchased three more of B’s magical flowers so I could stay in constant communication with my precious pussycats. (I only ever rent out three of my traveling cats at a time so I can easily get to them if something is going wrong.) They works wonderfully! In fact, that is how I tested the things to begin with and I’m considering getting more.

Oh dear! I just got contacted by Nemesis, my small back kitty. It looks like I have to go, dear sister. 

Love always,


Then, Arts and Culture Writer Nancy Burns-Fusaro of The Westerly Sun, did a great write-up of The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly’s new show, and its featured artists–including our Betsie! Read “Stolen Moments” here at The Sun!

Best of all, last Friday, Betsie’s “Perelandra” won BEST IN SHOW: Viewer’s Choice!


What follows are a few other pictures and quotes of long-time Betsie admirers!


“If you’ve ever admired a flower in my hair, you’ve admired Betsie Withey’s art. She’s a genius.” – Amal El-Mohtar (Author, Editor, Poet, and Winner of the Locus and Nebula Awards)


Julia Rios (writer, editor, podcaster, narrator) on her wedding day, with Betsie flower.


Shveta Thakrar: writer, social justice activist, part-time nagini. Photo credit and flower-maker, Betsie Withey


Caitlyn Paxson, writer and storyteller. Costume and photo by Betsie Withey.

A Fairy’s Wish

by Jessica Bigi

Docile is the wind and
crunching of tinny hooves
and flapping of wings as
they spin the spiders silk
into golden threads and
even the fox at play knows
these aren’t just ordinary
woods as the queen drinks
her tea with sweetened
honey the oak ‘ ash ‘ and
willows know there part as
the flapping of wings chime
and million of harps kitting
silks of plumbs and red
threads into cloaks
of leaves for the royal
masquerade not the spider
sad I could sow this fine
docile is the wind and
the crunching of tinny hooves
and flapping of wings as
they spin spiders silk into
golden threads and even
the fox at play knows these
aren’t just ordinary woods
for a fairy’s wish is a
tapestry of leaves

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