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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.

I am here to SPREAD THE GOOD WORD!

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!

Lilac…

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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.

So.

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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The Poison Garden Project

I know I’ve told you all about Betsie Withey. Like when she was making my “Champagne Nebula” gown for an award nomination. Or when I hosted the “Art for Art” series on my blog, in which artists talked about how Betsie Withey’s fiber art inspired them (click through for parts One, Two, and Three).

But I don’t know if I’ve told you about her Poison Garden project.

Possibly, you have seen a few progress photos on her Instagram account. Possibly, you’ve bought a few of her elusive foxgloves or wolfsbanes from her Etsy shop, TheFaerieMarket.

Well. I’m here to show you more. But first let me tell you how it all started.

Betsie and Jess (poet, writer, editor, and literary critic Jessica P. Wick, that is) were visiting Carlos and me for some holiday. Let’s call it Krampus. It might have been any number of holidays. Or perhaps just a weekend of museum visiting and fine dining. Hard to say.

Maybe Betsie was bent over her embroidery. Maybe we were talking of hemlock. Or figs. Or tombstones. At any rate, something in our conversation prompted me to start quoting my favorite bit from The Lancashire Witches by Thomas Shadwell.

Something like:

Henbane, Hemlock, Moon-wort too,
Wild Fig-Tree, that o’re Tombs do’s grow,
The deadly Night-shade, Cypress, Yew,
And Libbards Bane, and venemous Dew,
I gathered for my Charms. Harg.
And I Dug up a Mandrake which did cry,
Three Circles I made, and the Wind was good,
And looking to the West I stood.

(Um. Exactly like that, actually.)

And then I might have said, oh so wistfully, “Betsie, you ever think about turning those mad textile skillz of yours to making POISON GARDEN PLANTS, like the medicine garden they have at the Cloisters?”

(We may or may not have just visited the Cloisters that day. Maybe for the Heavenly Bodies exhibit. Dang, what a great exhibit.)

However it happened, the subject came up naturally. In this version, I’m taking credit for the idea. But Betsie might just as easily have done it. Or Jess, murmuring into our ears like the sinister power behind the throne. Or Carlos, eavesdropping in from the other room.

BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN, Betsie and Carlos were whispering and conspiring, and then–VOILA! Betsie had herself a major commission from my beloved Carlos, AKA Dr. Husbandpants, to invent a whole bouquet of new poisonous blooms, and from them make a wreath for me!

Because, like, I’m the luckiest bride of the curliest-headed English Professor, um, ever?

Now, in case you’re wondering, creating a poison garden from scratch is no easy thing to undertake. Since that inspiring day, it has taken Betsie years of painstaking labor–this, on top of running her own business, and, until the pandemic, working a retail job–to realize her vision.

Betsie had to find examples of leaves and flowers out in the wild and deconstruct them, to see how they were put together, so she could recreate them in silk. When she couldn’t find a live plant, she had to order examples online. She drafted flowers and fungus in drawings and practice scraps. She then created the flowers and fungus again in many hues and shades of dupioni silk, hand-dyed velvet, ceramic, wire, felt, and embroidery thread. She repeated the work until it met her standards and satisfied her. She wove a wicker crown on which to structure it all. Some pieces, she decided, would be free-standing, to clip in and around the hair, or wear as an addition band above the wreath. Some pieces would be part of the wreath proper.

Betsie Withey was, as she always does, making wearable sculpture art.

Well!

As I recently reminded Betsie, my 40th birthday is coming up in December! ALSO, my book, Saint Death’s Daughter–which, yes, has a bit to do with flowers and poisons, and a bit more to do with powers that (like the plants in a poison/medicine garden) can be perilous or helpful depending on their use–is coming out in April.

In other words, this is a perfect time to say: Poison Garden, you are PERFECT as you are! C. S. E. Cooney loves you, baby. And she wants to wear you LIKE WOAH.

To that end, I then I went to visit her at her studio in Westerly and try on all her flowers and fungus and leaves for the first time. I wanted, I told Betsie, for the poison garden to be the aesthetic of Saint Death’s Daughter.

O the wonders she hath wrought! She had made absolute heaps. An actual garden. Enough for, like, fifty wreaths. And some garlands. There were mountains of jewel-bright, lustrous, FATAL artworks just lying around her studio! It was stunning. Breathtaking! Rainbows spilling out everywhere! More tucked away in hidden baskets and drawers.

And, lemme tell you, there were Amanita Muscaria mushrooms FERDAYS.

I played the role of Betsie’s happy model. The artist fitted me as a queen for her crown. But we ALL know who the EMPRESS OF SILK REALLY IS. And we both got to glimpse for the first time an inkling of what the final Poison Garden will look like.

So. Sometime soon, within the next few months, this project will be complete. And on that day, you–yes, lucky YOU–will ALL be able to benefit from Betsie Withey’s extravagant genius! All her extra poisonous plants, along with anything else she cares to make along these lines, will be available for purchase on her Etsy page, with all her other treasures! (And don’t forget: she takes commissions!)

In the meantime, mi enjambre–have some PICTURES!

And don’t forget to support Betsie Withey and artists like her by shopping from independent creators!

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Shakespeare Cabaret: Whores and Weeping Women

I just want to remind you–and remind me, yikes, Carlos and I really need to buy our tickets!–that Carla Kissane‘s amazing, subversive, feminist Shakespeare Cabaret Whores and Weeping Women is next month. Next month!

What’s not to love about this human?

…and, since beginning this blog last week, now I must say… it’s THIS MONTH! THIS MONTH!

October 21st, to be exact! 8:30 PM for Arts On Site: Studio 3R Performances!

You can read all about previous iterations of the show here and watch video teasers and all that!

But for the latest and greatest in updates, may I direct you to: CARLOTTA BEE’S WHORES AND WEEPING WOMEN INSTAGRAM!

I just want to crawl inside this show and live in its fishnets.

I should also direct you DIRECTLY to the ticket site. That gets you to the calendar.

But this one goes directly to Carla’s performance on the 21st (it’s the one at 8:30 PM).

I’m Carlotta Bee’s biggest fan. Other fans will tell you otherwise.

I’ve been helping some with script and structure. As far as the Shakespeare and the songs, Carla (or “Carlotta Bee” as she’s known in this show) has no equal.

Beautifully directed by Miriam Grill and choreographed by Katherine McClintic, this show just about slaughters me. I have been moved to chills and tears and rib-straining belly laughs from the EARLIEST STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT!

I am so excited! Carlos and I will be going together, and I bet we’ll come out SINGING!

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