The Sinister Quartet: MINI-COOKBOOK, MOSTLY PASTRIES… EVIL PASTRIES

Hallo, beloved readers!

It has now been, let’s see, a fortnight–is it? HOLY MOLY–since A Sinister Quartet came out with Mythic Delirium.

For those of you who are only hearing about it for the first time, let me tell you a little about it. It’s a book of four long-form fiction stories (one short novel: mine; three novellas, by Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen respectively), all dark fantasy or horror, with a few common themes like sibling relationships, familial love, monstrous beings (both of the human and otherworldly varieties), and the old Mythic Delirium standby: “beauty and strangeness.”

The four of us authors have done a variety of things to boost our signal. And hey, all you other authors out there, whose books are coming out in the Time of Covid: we feel ya!

Also, we feel that there are so many more important things going on in the world right now–not only the pandemic, but the protests, especially about Black Lives Matter and police brutality–that making too much noise, joyful or otherwise, about our work just feels weird. Other signals to boost right now! BOOST ‘EM TO THE SKY!

Some of the fun stuff we’ve done can be found on Mythic Delirium’s website, along with the store where you can buy the book! Mike Allen writes:

Mythic Delirium Books is now an affiliate at Bookshop, a new bookselling website born in January 2020 that directs a portion of every sale toward assisting independent bookstores. (Hat tip to Jessica Wick for this development.)

Practically speaking, what this means is there is at last a one-stop shop where you can find all of our trade paperback editions, with quite a few offered at discounts. It’s probably the closest thing we’ve ever had to an actual storefront. Click here to check it out!”

(You can also buy the book most anywhere books can be bought!)

Other fun stuff includes:

A Big Idea post at John Scalzi’s website–in which we all interview each other
A Reddit Ask Me Anything–in which people… DID!
A Booze and Books Feature–in which we, the authors, were guest bloggers and invented cocktails and mocktails! (Or got our friends to do it for us.)
Spotify Soundtrack Playlists–in which we all created soundtracks for our stories, and Amanda made us images for each. (Click on each image; it’ll take you to the Spotify link!)
A Zoom reading, with all of us reading excerpts, plus Q and A at the end
An excerpt of “Twice-Drowned Saint” on the New Decameron Project (and if you’ve not heard of THAT, do you have a treat in store!)
An excerpt of “Viridian” on Amanda’s blog
A pajama party–in which my mom, my husband, and I all dressed up in my mother’s pajamas, and I read them an excerpt of Twice-Drowned Saint, but really the star, as ever, is the cat. Whose name is “Lil Guy Fawkes.” Not my cat. My brother’s cat. But I love him.

MOST LATELY, what I’ve done is put together all the recipes I’ve made–or rather, pilfered–over the last few months, based on our stories, and posted pictures of them here for you, and a few light links.

I hope you enjoy!

SMOOCHES AND SWEET DREAMS–ONLY DREAMS NOW–BUT ALSO, YEAH, MAYBE DON’T READ A SINISTER QUARTET LATE AT NIGHT, LAST THING BEFORE BED…

C. E. E. Cooney

And now for the RECIPES!

(CW: for possible trypophobia)

The Twice-Drowned Saint: Being a Tale of Fabulous Gelethel, the Invisible Wonders Who Rule There, and the Apostates Who Try to Escape Its Walls, by C. S. E. Cooney

“Chocolate Bug,” or “The Eleven-Eyed Brownie”
Ingredients: Extra Gooey Brownie Mix, Candied Eyeballs, Lemon Garish

(follow recipe on the box, plus your own mischievous ingenuity)

An Unkindness, by Jessica P. Wick

Heart of a Unicorn (or Lost Prince) Galette
Ingredients: Pichuberries, strawberries, phyllo dough, honey, butter

(Follow recipes for any “gooseberry/strawberry galette,” only sub in pichuberries)

Viridian, by Amanda J. McGee

Bluebeardy Pie”
Ingredients: Pie shell, blueberries, sugar, forbidden key, blue ribbon, red rose, ruby goblet

(follow the Epicurious recipe for the most part, but we bought our crust, like lazy writers)

The Comforter, by Mike Allen

Meat Pancake Thingie”

(follow Anita Allen’s recipe… below)

Anita Allen‘s MEAT PANCAKE THINGIE

“As always, preheat oven 325 degrees
The first set of ingredients varies by desired density, etc.
Nothing is exact.

Toppings ingredients:
7 Oz ( about 1/2 a small jar) Ragu pizza sauce
1.5 cups pizza cheese blend
6-7 button mushroom stems
2 sweet mini peppers ( or hot if you prefer)
5-7 yellow cherry tomatoes

Pizza “Crust” Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp dried parsley
2tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp steak seasoning
1/2 tbsp Penzeys Spices: Ozark Seasoning
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce
1 egg

Cooking instructions:
Mix like meatloaf.
On a cutting board, press out flat like a patty, about 1/4 inch thick.
Flip over onto lightly greased or sprayed broiler pan.
Smooth lightly (if you press it into the pan you won’t get it out easy to serve it. You want to use a broiler pan so the fats drain out.)
Layer on pizza sauce (about 7 Oz Ragu)
1.5 cups pizza cheese blend: spread to the edges.
1.5 Oz mini pepperoni
6-7 button mushroom stems cut cross wise to make “BUTTONS
2 mini sweet peppers (Hungarian sweet peppers or hot peppers).
Cut crosswise to make rings.
5-7 yellow cherry tomatoes, cut crosswise and wedged into pepper rings, then spread on top.

Bake 325 for 30 min
Cut, serve, enjoy.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Release Day: The Sinister Quartet

Day 2 of being a full-time writer, and… I have a new novel out.

It doesn’t look like a novel, because it’s in a collection with three other novellas, but it’s 20,000 words longer than official novella-length–longer than DESDEMONA AND THE DEEP!–so there you have it.

I’d started a messy af draft more than five years ago, based on a whacko dream I had, and then tried again a few years later, thinking to attempt something more structurally interesting by world-building through cinema and technology, and then I gave up on it and did a bunch of other things, but then Mike Allen was like, let’s do this project; do you have something for me?

and I was like, well, uh. Sort of.

So I did another draft. A full one. It grew from 20000 words to 60000. It grew in form and complexity. It plunged to the depths; it got gross. It brightened, and then went nova, and after that…

Another draft. And another. Three drafts of a novel-length work in 3 months. That was the end of my 2019.

I don’t… think… it’s horror? Though it is horrific. (“Body-horror” is what DongWon called it, gleefully, after hearing a section.) It’s certainly fantasy, and it gets dark. But.

But I have such a WARM, FRIENDLY feeling for the characters–my wry saints, my imperfect Seventh Angel, for Nirwen the Forsaker, for the Bad Uncles, for Jen and Onabrozia, and the poor young idiot Alizar Luzarius. It’s hard to think of them as characters of horror, or products of a dark fantasy, because… because they make me laugh–because I want to sit with them at table, and sing songs together, and go to the latest midnight release in some movie theatre…

The fact that gatherings of friends and movie-watching is as much fantasy now as MY OWN CHARACTERS seems more like the TRUE horror.

And there’s something to be said about a story that seeks to depose monster tyrants and tear down walls.I went as far as I could with the powers I have.

I worked hard, and stretched myself so much I think I probably tore something. Several somethings. What can you do but your best, each time?
So this is my best thing–for now.

My novel is called The Twice-Drowned Saint: Being a Tale of Fabulous Gelethel, the Invisible Wonders Who Rule There, and the Apostates Who Try to Escape its Walls, and it is found in THE SINISTER QUARTET. Out today.

You can order the book from Mythic Delirium’s bookstore, or anywhere books are sold.

EXTRAS:

  • Each of the four authors in The Sinister Quartet made PLAYLISTS to go with our fiction. (Click on each graphic, which will bring you to Spotify)
  • The four authors got together and we did a ZOOM SALON, reading excerpts from The Sinister Quartet, and answering a Q&A from the audience after.
  • The four authors each created a SIGNATURE DRINK to go with our stories on the Books and Booze blog. (Mine is a shrub, no alcohol.)
  • Today (the day I’m writing this, release day) we the four authors interviewed each other for John Scalzi’s blog THE BIG IDEA.
  • Carlos, Mama, and I dressed up in Mama’s pajamas (pictured below) for a Pajama Party, and I read them an excerpt (not the SAME excerpt as above) of The Twice-Drowned Saint as a bedtime story. Cat included.
  • Chapter 2 of The Twice-Drowned Saint (which is really the big opening chapter, as Chapter 1 is a slim little thing) is available for free on the New Decameron Project’s Patreon: if you want to dip your toe in.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Tonight: A Play; Tomorrow: A Ceremony; Next Month: A Nomination

This week is the busiest week of our quarantine-in-exile so far–and of course it is, the weekend before we leave to return to Queens.

There is the Nebula conference going on–with Carlos up for the Andre Norton Award for his Pura Belpré Award-winning Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.

Then I found out today that my novel/la Desdemona and the Deep is a finalist for the Locus Award. The virtual ceremony will be next month, on June 27th.

And then my friend Cavan Hallman, Artistic Director of Mirrorbox Theatre in Iowa, invited me to take a role in The Wooden Heart, the 11th play in their Out the Box series of staged readings of new work since the pandemic hit.

So that’s tonight–and it’s free!–you just have to register. Here’s a little bit about that.

The play is by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Cavan Hallman. It’s a sort of fable/fairy tale, but set in modern day, with people who are familiar. It is absurd and sad and moving. It is about vocation, and grief, and loving, and… eating moss.

The synopsis:

Mitch wants to be a carpenter. Heather wants to be a woodcarver. The wolf wants to be an intellectual. Ruby wants to escape the wolf. The woodcutter wants to escape the narrator. A fable-inspired play about love and wood and finding your purpose.

It’s tonight–Friday, May 29th–at 8 PM Central!

Facebook event (updated Monday of the performance week):  https://www.facebook.com/events/160209582017688/

Direct Zoom registration link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_iEkw73rQSTGt92PiEN1kjg

Shortened registration link:  https://bit.ly/2ZuoXd9

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dealing Out Poetry: Writing Verse Based on the Negocios Infernales Cards

One of the missions of making the Negocios Infernales RPG that Claire and I are working on has nothing to do with the game. We also wanted to make a writing tool to inspire writers and help them break out of their traditional ways of thinking. That, in fact, was one of the stated missions of the sabbatical: using game mechanics and gamic thinking to stretch my writing.

Today was our first official try at using the cards not for the game, but for art. You can judge the results for yourself, but I have to tell you, folks: I am pretty pleased.

Now, Claire is such a poet that she hardly needs anything to write poetry, except perhaps a cup of blackest tea. But she stated that the cards gave her that little nudge that allowed her to unleash things that have been on her mind. It reminds me…

View original post 814 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Tale of Two Cities: Revisited

The house is full of composing right now. That sparked my jealous thing, so I started looking at the ragged lyrics I wrote for my Tale of Two Cities musical.

I’d given it up when I learned there already was a musical. And then didn’t start again because I thought, why adapt Dickens? I’ve got my own stuff to do.

But. There are some lyrics I still really like.

“Let Me Be Steel” from Act II

LUCIE

Lucie, you mustn’t be weak
Yes, you must stop your shaking
Lucie, you must keep your calm
While the whole world is breaking

Lucie the gentle, they say
How her tenderness fills her
Lucie compassionate, mild
Though her mildness kills her

If this is what tenderness brings
Cut it now from my bone
From anguish and impotence
Let me be turned to stone

Let me be steel
Let me be ice and murder
Vengeance, wrath and storm
Let me be steel
A rusted jaw to trap the foes
Who mean us harm

Make me like her–
Madame Defarge, or better–
Madame Guillotine!
An iron blade
A cold machine

Who can obliterate this fear?
Are there no Furies left to hear me?
No bright sword that I might wield
No shield at hand now he’s not near me?
I call down the frost and fire
Come and smother my compassion
For this woman whose desire
Contrives my husband’s execution
Why grieve for her bereavement
When I cannot change the past?
It’s tomorrow I’m afraid of
And the dawn will come too fast!

Lucie, you witnessed her woe
It was seething and wild
Lucie, you looked in her eyes
Saw the eyes of a child

Lucie, you sampled her rage
It’s the poison that eats her
She’ll feed it the requisite flesh
Till at last it defeats her

If this is what bitterness brings
Do I want it for mine?
Delight in the agony
Drink it like dark red wine?

Charles, I blame you
Can one man’s life be worth
A wife and child and home?
I wouldn’t change you
But can his value really be
More precious than your own?

Charles, I understand
It’s not the same, you know,
As saying I don’t mind
Oh, Charles, I think you’ll die of being kind

Charles, forgive me
Your sacrifice is small
Against this vicious flood
How could you live with
Knowing all our years of grace
Were bought with human blood?

Charles, I understand
I will show gentleness
And never let you see
The steel inside that almost vanquished me

And if my life must be a war
Why, then–
There have been wars before!

I’m just one woman
I have one duty
Come here, my Lucie
Mama’s done shaking
She will be strong for you
And she won’t cry anymore

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Content Warning

by C. S. E. Cooney

if that is freedom, fuck it
i don’t want it
to walk bare as a genital wart in the mayo clinic
swollen with liberty, flying the colors of the flag
fuck it, fuck your freedoms
give me plexiglass prisons, given me wardens in hazmat
give me solitary confinement
give me an oubliette
so I can forget
you and your fanfaronade freedoms

to hold my dying elder’s hand in hospice
that is freedom
you, your ilk, you kick it to dust
you kick it to dust with your leather shoes
to meet at feast together, eat together
marry on the day we choose
let our doctors see their children again
such freedom
you crush with as much disgust as the snake
beneath your heel

my venom grows
every night, every morning
chokevine murderthoughts
thorn and strangle me:
the freedom to be kind, to forgive
to live and let live
all flayed away
I am a criminal in my own mind
I deserve my chains

I don’t know what you deserve
(to do time for war crimes is what you deserve)
I don’t know what you think you deserve
but you take it anyway
no matter what it takes away from
all the rest of us

my friend, swaddled like a sarcophagus in the morgue
for one last look at her sister’s face
my friend, in her lonely hotel room, decontaminating her scrubs
while she Skypes with her cat
my friend, who stares out the window as Washington Heights
bangs its pots and pans
so tired, too tired to join the humble éclat, tired
from doing nothing, from staying inside, keeping the city safe

you spit in the face of my friends
you spit in the face of my friends
you little shit
you little shit

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Playlist for The Twice-Drowned Saint!

The release of a short novel, nested inside an anthology along with three very fine novellas (by Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen respectively), is a thing to be CELEBRATED WITH MUSIC!

Before I go further, allow me to link you to THE SINISTER QUARTET anthology! Click and see ALL the places you may purchase The Sinister Quartet from!

The Sinister Quartet, a Mythic Delirium Anthology

Now, below, to celebrate:

The author (moi!) hath made a playlist for THE TWICE-DROWNED SAINT, full of silent movie soundtracks, refugee songs, angel songs, glaciers melting (spoilers, darling), and kitchen heroes.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Dawn Editing: SUPER CLOSE TO DONE

My view at 5:26 AM, right before I got down and dirty with my edits.

OW! MY FUNDAMENT!

Okay, I’ve been working pretty steadily on this writing bench o’ mine (borrowed) (in exile) since 6 AM-ish (well, I did break for breakfast), so I’m gonna stretch a bit. I may be done for the day.

I finished going over the hardcopy of my part of the The Sinister Quartet–that is, my short novel, The Twice-Drowned Saint. (PreOrder WHEREVER!!! Also, INDIEBOUND!)

All I have to do now is input the changes into the document my editor sent me, and I’ll be DONE!

It might take me a few more mornings, but then I shall be TOTALLY SHUCKED OF EDITING DUTIES and FREE AGAIN!

Free to… create RECIPES from our STORIES, and video-edit down my PAJAMA PARTY READING (or possibly re-shoot it now that I’ve re-charged the real camera), and BLOG about THINGS and WRITE POETRY, without feeling GUILTY!!!

AND RETURN TO MY WORK-IN-PROGRESS, Fiddle!!!

I know this work is also part of The Work. And I am SO GRATEFUL I was able to do this last round of edits.

BUT I WILL BE SO EXCITED NOT TO BE DOING THEM AGAIN!!!

Until June. When I get my edits back for Saint Death’s Daughter. Heh heh heh. Then, we start all over again.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

These Great Outdoors; These Indoors Times

Here we are, back in the house I grew up in. I’m even in the last bedroom I had (we tended to play musical chairs with bedrooms as we got older and needed or wanted different things from our living spaces). Currently, when it’s not sheltering guests from the east coast, it is a yoga/meditation room for the two (currently furloughed) massage therapists, one professional dancer, and my awesome mama who live in the house.

Carlos and I are camped out in here, quite cozily. Our bed is a snuggly heap of foam mats on the floor, which is not too different from our futon back home. Mama lent us her desk, and I bought a small, very portable folding desk from OfficeMax. Carlos and I have lined them up side by side right under the window. When Carlos is doing serious writing, he goes out to the front room and sits in the small easy chair by the fireplace, but I like my bench, which reminds me of my writing bench at home.

Right now, he’s sitting at his desk, with Roll20 and Zoom (audio only) open at the same time. Our friends Fran, Tom, DongWon, and Josh are playtesting our tabletop RPG-in-development “Negocios Infernales,” which Carlos has managed to input into Roll20. It’s his third virtual playtest, but the first one I’m here sitting in on. The fact that Carlos got this far in virtual game-building is, to me, terribly impressive. I’d’ve given up crying long ago.

It’s funny, the things each of can do more or less tirelessly that the other finds tedious or all but impossible.

Take game design for example. Carlos spent hours making this virtual play possible. Me, I took a nap. However, for the other game he’s developing–which is a card game called “Favors”–making prototypes requires a lot of cutting and stuffing into sleeves. I CAN DO THAT FOR HOURS. Just give me an audiobook and I’m happy occupied. Carlos hates doing things like that. I tell him it’s because I did office work for so many years. I’m like the resident envelope stuffer.

We both love being helpful to my mama, however. We have that in common. So today, we went out into the alley out back and attacked the chest-high alley plants growing out there. (“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” — Emerson.)

Here is another situation in which we are different:

Carlos in general dislikes gardening, but he loves the weedwhacker. He says it makes him feel like a god mowing down armies. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s mechanized; it is the perfect tool for a job like this. But I? I like CHOPPING THINGS DOWN. And also LOPPING THINGS OFF.

So while he mowed down his grass armies, I went through a pile of tools until I found the LIMB LOPPER. Because there was a huge patch of greenery with stalks as thick as branches. And they needed lopping.

AND I AM YOUR GIRL FOR LOPPING AND CHOPPING. I may have mentioned.

All of which to say, we spent a good hour outside doing yard work. Which we never get to do in Queens (to Carlos’s great joy and contentment; he’d rather be writing) (so would I generally) (but after three years, I was super ready for some yard work).

I say this because this was after I went on a little neighborhood bike ride with my mama. And Carlos and my mama and I spent ten or fifteen minutes in the backyard shadowboxing, wielding bamboo sticks like tennis rackets and fencing foils and the batons from A Chorus Line’s “One.” That’s a lot of fun, physical movement for me. I revel in it. I glory in it. I don’t get this in apartment living.

I’m not sure if I’m losing weight, and I’m not sure I want to know. But I do know that I feel more deeply inside my body. My hands were trembling after all that lopping–I had to hold onto my drink with both hands!–and that tells me I was using and strengthening muscles that probably need it. My thighs are happy from three bike rides this week. Sore, yes, but happy. Also, I squatted down to get something the other day–and then I squatted again to fix it–and sprang back up, and realized my knees hadn’t creaked. I didn’t groan or huff. My legs didn’t complain. And it… it’d been a while.

Right now, Governor Cuomo has extended NY on Pause till May 15th. We’re therefore going to be extending our stay here yet again, for at least another fortnight past our already-extended return date. I’m in a city where most of my mother’s side of the family, and some of my father’s side, lives–and I can’t see them–except a few brothers who drop by and hang around outside in the yard to chat with us for a few minutes once every few weeks. Grocery shopping is stressful (we keep it at a minimum) and my ability to make money through narration is basically null, but…

But, in general, I’m happy. We’re safe. We’re comfortable. We’re among loving family. We take turns making family dinners, or sometimes just scrounging for ourselves. We watch things with my mama–Carlos and I watched the first two episodes of Los Espookys with her, and mama and I watched the new Emma, and alongside Caitlyn Paxson on Skype from Toronto. We kept waggling eyebrows at each other and making inappropriate comments in the chat. We play games at the table from time to time. We plant wildflowers.

And I get to go bike riding, which I’m afraid to do in New York. It’s a solitary activity–even if you’re biking with others–that harms none. I’m very grateful for that. I’m grateful to be here.

I’m worried about everybody. I have friends whose family and friends are dying. I miss being home. Plans for the rest of the summer and year are rippling and shedding. We must remain complex. We must remain flexible. We must remain ready to help.

And I must remember what Carlos says constantly: “Joy is local.” The world is monstrous, but joy is local. Both at once. And infinite else. We must remain complex.

I don’t seem to be any less busy. Not really spending a lot of time binging shows or books. Much is coming due. The trouble is juggling a schedule that seems to amorphous, or assigning priorities. Lists help. Waking up early helps–5:30-6:30. I don’t seem able to wake myself up with any number of alarms, but I’ll get up if Carlos wakes me. Even if the day gets slippery, at least I feel like there was enough of it, if I get up early.

I’m really enjoying writing the second draft of Fiddle, my new novel. It makes me laugh. It’s ridiculous and romantic and bizarre, and it suits my mood.

But I’m taking a break from Fiddle next week to finish copyedits on my ARC of The Sinister Quartet, which is coming out in June. My short novel–about 60,000 words–The Twice-Drowned Saint, will be found therein. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be creating recipes based on all four stories in the book, playlists for my novel, and videos of me reading excerpts.

This is in addition to game designing with Carlos (for his sabbatical, and also because we really want to get Negocios Infernales up and running), and helping him create videos/content for his upcoming book (vigorously virtual) book launch of Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe. He’s been hard (and happily) at work giving virtual presentations for schools and libraries, and that content is just going to accelerate and keeping on coming. I’m very excited for him.

And that’s the state of the Hernandooney Household In Exile.

Oh, and if you’ve read this far–his book launch is on May 5th. He and Rick Riordan will be live on Instagram at 8 PM Eastern, challenging each other to a MYTH WAR in which the loser cuts off all his hair. Carlos made this graphic for it:

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

No Certain Aspects

(A Spell for Mir)

by C. S. E. Cooney

no moon
is rising in this house today
no planet setting, nor sun
is dancing–all is quiet, all is
dark in this
theatre of the heavens

the street
of lights is quenched
stars stuffed under bushels, seats
are empty, the velvet cordons knotted
no movement
in the midnight curtains

yet
there is a ghost lamp
keeping company
with the past
campfire of our phantoms
its own dance, its own dance

somewhere in the abyss
restless colossi
stir beneath cloud forms
dream in crystal coffers of ammonia
beneath adamantine oceans
waiting to rise

waiting to rise, and dress
in finest raiment, leathern slippers
waiting to crawl
through your casement, ring the bell
at your door
waiting to visit your very house

where you have lit a lamp
just for them




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized