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What Happens When I Ask Carlos for His Sister and Brother-in-Law’s Email and He’s Been Grading Since 4 AM…

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Impromptu Salon for Amal’s Class, Virtual Ottawa, Fall 2021

you say the ocean is the world’s toilet
and you’re not wrong, but
toilet or cradle of life, it was a gift you gave me
that day in Florida, when you sat on the beach, fully clothed,
sand on your jeans, and watched me float for hours
on the tide, my ears full of watersound
my eyes alive with sky, flotsam at peace.
I was in danger, like any human in water, but not
in peril, and afterwards you bought a towel
to dry me, and said nothing as I walked barefoot
to our rental car–even though bare feet scare you,
even though any little bruise on my skin
is the world’s end to you, the death of a thousand cuts.

I’m always a little frightened of the woods
but that doesn’t stop me going there, or the great gift
of green silence, as I try to watch a million leaves
tremble individually in 360°, until my mind dissolves, briefly.
And if a tent near the railroad tracks spurs my heel
and if lostness overtakes my senses (even in this
urban park where no one really can be lost),
and if I fear every stranger I meet on the path
still, I go to the woods, wearing my best walking shoes.
I walk into the woods, so that I may emerge again,
with eyes a little wider, in wild wonder,
as I carry my wilderness away with me like sand in my sock.

My night moods grow darker, but I know to name them now.
Play games to propitiate my frantic grasp at all this slippage
(also which news not to read) (also which subjects to avoid).
Lately, we both notice how I calendar and organize, worry through tomorrow
to stave the night away, and you must say softly:
not right now, not right now.
I need, in night moods, the blood transfusion of fiction,
another brain injected right into my brain,
other worlds than this, other thoughts than mine.
Is it cowardice or medicine? Is it, simply, survival?
Better to face the dragon and slay it, or sneak away sideways,
soft-footed and hobbit-like, invisible, muttering riddles?
My night moods grow darker. But I grow slyer–
and am not yet devoured.

We drew four cards for Amal El-Mohtar’s Literature Class, but chose only three to write about. I chose all but the “Rayo” (Lightning) card.

More about these wonderful cards and the game they belong to:

Follow #NegociosInfernales on IG, the game forthcoming from Outland Entertainment. Also look for updates on Carlos’s and my shared blog!

Follow our Kickstart Upcoming Projects page for Negocios Infernales!

A Little More about 7 Suits of Destino:

(Suits depicted above from top left, clockwise: Sangre, Rayo, Lágrimas, Carne.)

🧜🏾‍♀️ Lágrimas: The Tears of Life
Things break. The world is full of melancholy. But tears can be joyful. Pain can save us. Our insignificance is both woe and comfort. And one never knows what strange secrets the unfathomable seas may hold.

🐷 Carne: The Meat Of Life
Carnality, desire of the flesh, consumption, gluttony. The triumph of self-interest over community. The instinctual and the impulsive. Whatever else we are, we are always our bodies.

❤️ Sangre: The Blood of Life
Loyalty, affiliation, kith, kin, connection. Sacrifice and duty. Some ideas are worth dying for. The desire to be moral, even though you fall short so very, very often. 

💀Hueso: The Bones of Life
We all must perish. Time is relentless, aging and weakening inevitable. What shall be your legacy? Focus on the big picture. Stay strong: until you can’t. And then, when it’s time, die well.

🌬 Aire: The Breath of Life
Intellect, religion, philosophy, art. Dreams, plans, life’s vicissitudes. Fate, ever capricious, blows us to and fro. Rarefied beauty; unspeakable nightmares. And at the center of it all, your soul.

⚡️Rayo: The Spark of Life
Raw power, elemental forces, energy, electricity, fire. The engine of both miracles and cataclysms. The hidden reserves raging in every living thing. And sometimes, those reserves are unleashed: with wild, unpredictable results!

🛸 Espacio: The Spaces Between and Beyond

The immensity of the cosmos humbles us. But if we continue to build marvelous tools and ask hard questions, perhaps someday we will better understand both the universe and our own recondite hearts.

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C. S. E. Cooney and Robert V. S. Redick: Featured Readers at Fantastic Fiction at the KGB!

You’re invited!

Wednesday, November 17th, at the KGB Bar, Robert V. S. Redick and I will be Featured Readers at the Fantastic Fiction series!

Time & Place:

Every third Wednesday of the month at 7pm at the KGB Bar: 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave) New York, NY 10003

Order Robert’s book HERE!

Pre-order my book HERE! (That’s Saint Death’s Daughter). And HERE! (That’s Dark Breakers.)

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Wild Swans

For J-9, though words will never be enough. For now, I wish you Joy on your birthday.

A hundred years and more ago (a hundred eighty-three)
It was that year in ’38 this story came to be
A story rife with wild swans, and of their sister true
But for your sister, now a swan, you tell it new

There was a jealous queen (of course), so perilous and fell
Though in your case, an addict’s rage called down your living hell
The wickedness of each, in turn, turned sibling into swan
Elisa had eleven swans, but you have one

This wicked world would give us toads to uglify our minds
To vanquish energy and will, make tenderness unkind
But fairy tales turn toads to poppies, red as bloodsilk spun
Red poppies had Elisa three, but you have none

In solitude Elisa sat, upon her seat of glass
Exiled, heavy-hearted, driven out into the grass
But when she dreamed, they came to her, those siblings she adored
Twelve siblings strong in blood and bond, but you were four

And here’s where stories fail, my friend, the fishbone in my craw
Here’s the nettles’ scrape and sting that leaves me scalded raw:
Elisa and her wild swans, they triumphed on their quest
They traveled far but broke their spell–in one grand geste

Her brothers bore Elisa high all in a barque of bark
But who’s to carry you, my friend, across this ocean’s dark?
Morgana whispered to Elisa, how to lift her curse
But where’s the fairy’s gift to you, to lift far worse?

But like Elisa bent to toil in graveyard nettles deep
Like Elisa spinning flax, blistered, losing sleep
You’ll yet bend your grief to work and finish what you start:
This story spun for sister-swan, from nettled heart

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Rite for the Next Decade

what I think our next age craves is keyboard’s constant clack
ideas gel, structures misbehave, sideways plot attack

and what of dress-up velvets, outrageous rhinestone gleam?
embrace ourselves, the craven and the brave: hips, belly, rack

kindness, yes, due diligence–and reciprocity
learn our tells, our shifts of favor, that discernment’s not lack

it’s time to topple systems, cultivate our gardens, rest
old empires fell while autarchs raved (an encouraging fact)

not to mention what we can’t foresee and never could
hurdles melt, new skills to savor, exalt in changing tack

what we make, we’ll wage against our heartbreak yet to come
beyond all hells, beyond our graves–our mischievous impact

for Patty Templeton, on the occasion of her 39th birthday
C. S. E. Cooney and Patty Templeton, Chicago, IL, October 2009
Patty Templeton and C. S. E. Cooney, Los Alamos, NM, October 2021,


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Bridge to Elsewhere Reading

Dear Friends,

New York Times bestselling author Carlos Hernandez and yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney are so happy to be hosting the authors of Outland Entertainment’s newest anthology, Bridge to Elsewhere, currently being Kickstarted in the month of November 2021.

The event will be from 8 PM – 10 PM EST on Zoom, and we will cast the recording to YouTube afterwards. We will provide the Zoom link to those who sign up at our Eventbrite page.

A depiction of Bridge to Elsewhere‘s cover, featuring three astronauts, a cat, a spaceship, and an alien world.

Though Outland Entertainment has published numerous anthologies, there was one frontier they had yet to travel: space.

“We welcome you to travel the universe with our crew of twenty authors over the course of seventeen new tales and two reprinted classics. These are not stories of grand battles and war, but of the small choices made by everyday people traveling the stars—and how sometimes small choices have the greatest consequences.”

A depiction of Bridge to Elsewhere, both in its paperback and digital forms.

Not only are Carlos and I both in this anthology, but Outland Entertainment is our publisher for our forthcoming game, Negocios Infernales. When we collaborated on our science fiction short story for this anthology, we used the cards from our game to inspire us!

Join us, as well as a selection of authors from Bridge to Elsewhere, including: Justin Key, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Rhonda S. Garcia. Alexandra Pitchford, Alyx Dellamonica, L.X. Beckett, John Chu, Zig Zag Claybourne, C.G. Volars, E. R. Donaldson, A. T. Greenblatt, Anjali Patel, R. J. Theodore, and Valerie Valdes, along with our esteemed editors Alana J. Abbott and Julia Rios.

Images of the authors of Bridge to Elsewhere (not in the order they are depicted): L.X. Beckett, John Chu, Rin Chupeco, Zig Zag Claybourne, C.S.E Cooney, E.R. Donaldson, R.S.A. Garcia, A.T. Greenblatt, Carlos Hernandez, SL Huang, Justin C. Key, Mari Kurisato, Malka Older, Anjali Patel, Alexandra Pitchford, Jennifer Lee Rossman, R J Theodore, Peter Tieryas, Valerie Valdes, and CG Volars.

Whether or not you attend our event, please consider supporting Bridge to Elsewhere on its Kickstarter page!

Thank you kindly! See you on the 19th!

Yours Truly,

C. S. E. Cooney


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I Missed My Friend’s Birthday, and All He Wanted Was…

Hallo, hallo!

The greater part of my October was a two-week trip to Pennsylvania to bond with my almost-three-year-old nephew while his baby sister was being born an hour away in Pittsburgh. That was great! But I dropped a lot of balls. Juggling balls, that is.

One of them was my buddy Aaron Rosenberg’s birthday. All he wanted was for people to spread the word about his books! Carlos and I bought a few of them for ourselves at Origins Game Fair earlier this month… last month?… recently!… and we look forward to getting to them in our TBR tower!

Aaron’s birthday this year was also his DOUBLE BOOK BIRTHDAY! He released both Cross the Road, the fourth and final e-book in his Time of the Phoenix series, as well as Time of the Phoenix itself, as a collected print paperback.


Time of the Phoenix, Book 4: Cross the Road

The fourth and final tale in the historical dark fantasy series The Time of the Phoenix, Book 4, Cross the Road sees the immortal Phoenix traveling to 1930s New York in the wake of his friend’s death.  

The being who was once Christopher Marlowe is there seeking answers—and vengeance. What he finds instead is a startling new style of music: the Delta Blues.  

But will even pursuing this revelation to its source in the Mississippi Delta help the Phoenix find the answers—and the people—he seeks? Will he have his revenge?  

And after all that, will he find a reason to keep on going? Or is this the end for the avatar of humanity’s creativity, once and for all?

Time of the Phoenix: Collected Paperback

Keeping the flames alive…

In Time of the Phoenix, immortal Phoenix, avatar of passion and individuality, appears at key points throughout history to inspire humanity’s creative endeavors—and stop those who would quench their fire.

In 1593, Christopher Marlowe struggles to complete his latest play—and battles dark forces drowning London in disease, madness, and mayhem.

In Lake Geneva, in 1816, renowned poet Lord Byron gathers several friends at a villa for what becomes a harrowing experience.
In 1920s Hollywood, someone is murdering young women in the silent film world—and it looks like a certain Latin Lover could be the culprit!

In the 1930s, as a new form of music rises from the Mississippi Delta leads to answers, enemies, a chance to settle old scores—and a brand-new King.

From bestselling author Aaron Rosenberg comes a historical dark fantasy thriller about art, inspiration, and the extraordinary sacrifices one man must make to shield mankind from all forms of darkness, even those rising from within.

For completion’s sake, here are the first three books:

Time of the Phoenix, Book 1
: For This Is Hell:

Time of the Phoenix, Book 2: One Haunted Summer

Time of the Phoenix, Book 3: Death in Silents

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And Cherries Are His Favorite Fruit

for Dr. Carlos Hernandez, Professional Professor, Husbandpants
On the Occasion of our 4th Wedding Anniversary, AKA “Flowers and Fruit”

In Rego Park my love does dwell
Between the LIRR and Forest (Park)’s dell
Where loom the brick-faced cliffs and crags
(With balconies I’d give a tit to have)
Where bluejays bray on fire-escapes
And dog-shit sculptures form classic shapes
Near mallow blooming in the sidewalk cracks
(I have an app for flower facts)
Where dogwood, redbud, magnolia, and cherry plum
Flaunt their sex with hither-come–
(And, babe, they ain’t the only ones!
Roommate’s gone, let’s have some fun
We, too, have a horn to toot…
And cherries are your favorite fruit)

Inside our haven-hole, gorilla nest
Our office, restaurant, dance hall, place of rest
Our treehouse, burrow, library, and bower
(That little room where every day you shower
While I grow ranker by the hour
Rich with soil, ripe and fecund, sweetly sour
A fertile field ready for your plough–
Hey! You, me, and your plough make three: “paradise enow”)
Come cuddle close, my love, come coodle near
Thy Borg-black hearing aids in thine ear
Thy wayward curls a three-month thicket grown
Thy warm-knit slipper-socks with pandas sewn
Dessert for dinner renders dinner moot
(And cherries are your favorite fruit)

On weekdays sits my love at work
In flannel jammy bottoms, button-down shirt
How he leans right through the screen to teach
The chasm vastness, fathoms’ reach
Of language: how to navigate its shoals
But first, to build a Ship of Theseus on coals
Of its own rotten planks, set aflame
With incendiary thought and classroom games!
He grades from early dawn to afternoon
Meets students, colleagues, somehow still finds room
For poems and fiction, game design, and play
“Silliness can save us,” so he’ll say
And so, I bleat at him: a goat-girl, randy and hirsute
And offer cherries–they’re his favorite fruit

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Our WindyCon Schedule

We are SO EXCITED to be going to Chicago as Guests of Honor at WindyCon! It’s my FIRST TIME being a Guest of Honor at ANYTHING–except Carlos’s heart. YIPPEE!!!

Carlos Hernandez: Writer Guest of Honor

Junior B/D 10:00 AM Saturday: Reading
A one hour group reading with RJ Howell, Patty Templeton, and Fred Gehm.

Junior B/C 12:00 Saturday Negocios Infernales Game Demo
C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez demonstrate their GM-less, card-based roleplaying games Negocios Infernales!

Junior A 3:00 Saturday: Teaching SFF Writing
Science-fiction and fantasy have more formal presence on college campuses and other schools than ever before. Panelists Richard Chwedyk (M), Tim Waggoner, Brian Pinkerton, and Carlos Hernandez discuss.

Lilac B/D 6:00 Saturday Storytelling and Game Design
The storytelling in tabletop and video games is more important and sophisticated than ever before. Panelists Ken Hite (M), Neil Litherland, John O’Neill, Joshua Doetsch, and Carlos Hernandez discuss!

C. S. E. Cooney: Poet Guest of Honor

Junior B/C 12:00 Saturday Negocios Infernales Game Demo
C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez demonstrate their GM-less, card-based roleplaying games Negocios Infernales!


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Today, As I Eavesdrop…

This morning, Carlos went on a glorious five-minute rant against Socrates and Plato. He’s teaching Plato’s something or other today, and as he TEACHES just like he TALKS, HIS STUDENTS ARE SO LUCKY; IT IS GOING TO BE HILARIOUS.

Also, he must be teaching the Jabberwocky in either that class or the other, because I am hearing BRILLIG and SLITHY TOVE drifting through the house.

Meanwhile, in the next room, Miriam is teaching History of Theatre to another fortunate group of CUNY students. Or maybe this one is script analysis.

“You’re a big drunken knight,” I hear her telling them. “Drinking and gambling.”

Let’s see. My guess? Twelfth Night?

Oh, wait. She just said “King Henry…” So… Falstaff?

Anyway, our apartment is basically a university now.


Thank you, pandemic?

Me? I’m like that Masters student writing her thesis in the library, while Zooming with theatre professionals (Carla Kissane, of Shakespeare Cabaret fame) in my persona as script consultant.

…only the library is my bedroom. (I mean, it kind of is ALSO a library.) And instead of a thesis, I’m writing FIDDLE.

I mean, if I could write FIDDLE for my Masters thesis, I’d go back to school LIKE THAT! But only if they gave me a free ride. LOL.

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