A Not-So-Typical Friday Night in Westerly

16938860_996897307108522_3484143123534822160_nSo, yeah, last year, I sort of semi-committed (just like I just did to that sentence structure right there) to helping run a literary open mic at Westerly’s own Maize ‘N’ Manna Wholefoods.

It’s owned and operated by Susan Ryan-Champouillon–and just by Googling it, you can see how beloved it is. I mean–YELP loves it, and YELP hardly loves ANYTHING!

It’s vegan and gluten free, you can buy bulk there (non GMO, all organic) INCREDIBLY inexpensively, and it has great ratings on The Happy Cow and Trip Advisor, and even has an article in The Mystic Wave about how it’s a great alternative to your usual coffee date.

I’m saying all this because I love the place, and I love Susan. She shows up to EVERYTHING!!! And she brings people. That’s NOT EASY when you’re a small business owner. She’s incredibly supportive of the arts, and Westerly is an ARTS HAVEN.

When I first moved here, I saw how musician-friendly it was. Music venues like The Knickerbocker, Perks and Corks, and The Malted Barley seemed to have something new every night.

15078580_932886153509638_4015885324554023055_nBut there weren’t a lot of places for . . . the written word.

Which is, as you know, my thing.

Five years later, we now have The Savoy Bookshop and Café–and boy, there’s the written word ALL OVER THE PLACE. They host author events and book debuts.

But an open mic for local writers? For the poets and prose scribblers of our town?

That’s all Susan at Maize ‘N’ Manna.

Having a space for young people to read their prose and poetry is Susan’s special and particular mission. From the beginning she’s declared that what she wants most is for the first hour to be devoted to younger writers, the second to adults. Nothing censored, necessarily. Just . . . available.

Now, we’ve been running this open mic at Maize N Manna for about a year now (well, a year next month), and I’ve maybe made it about half the time.  And in that time, nary a young person in sight! Well, twenty-somethings. Sometimes. But no one under the age of 20.

The open mic’s always on First Fridays. And I always MEAN to be there, but I’ve been traveling a lot this year, and somehow don’t always manage to be in town on those days.

However! We do our best with the time we have, as Gandalf sort of said at one point to Frodo, but not really.

In that time, we’ve had tiny open mics, when it was basically Susan and Geno and me.

And then we’ve had slightly larger open mics, with a few friends showing up–sometimes even driving down all the way from Boston, because I have friends in Boston, and they like to come and hang out and support the arts (JULIA RIOS!!!)–or even from as far as Queens, NY (CARLOS HERNANDEZ) for much the same reasons.


It was so exciting!

We had Westerly locals–the nice folks from J Mack Studios, folks from the Savoy, my buddy Marie from Mystic Aquarium, my roommates, more friends of Susan’s. AND we had BOTH Queens and Boston represented! (Thanks again, Julia and Carlos!!!)

16938759_997460483718871_2845432057996800385_n-1WE ALSO HAD YOUNG PEOPLE!!!

FOR THE FIRST TIME, Susan’s DREAM of what her open mic could be came true. There were seven or so 7th or 8th graders, right there, cuddled together, supporting each other, being HILARIOUS, eating Susan’s delicious muffins, and best of all . . . READING THEIR WORK!

One girl stood up and SIGNED while her friend sang a verse from Disney’s “Moana.” Two girls read poetry. Another young man said, “I wrote a book of poetry–but I don’t have it with me,” perhaps implying he MIGHT, another time.

And they ALL sat quietly and were INTENTLY locked on when the other writers read their short stories, chapter excerpts, and poetry.

I think they particularly loved Christa Beauchamp’s short horror piece, which featured two young girls, and Carlos Hernandez’s novel excerpt from his middle-grade WIP Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.

1486905_430603787071213_477990201_nI read “Little Sally and the Bull Fiddle God,” from Goblin Fruit. I prefaced it by asking if they knew about Zeus.

Oh, they did all right.

And they felt EXACTLY LIKE I DID about him. So I think they liked the poem.

Afterward, the kids all rose up and left in a gaggle, taking their bikes back home. Curfew at 8, apparently.

The rest of us moved in a herd over to the Artists’ Cooperative of Westerly.

IMG_6602See, Susan chose First Fridays for our open mic because THAT’S the night of Westerly’s Art Crawl.

Westerly is a pretty hip and happening place on First Fridays. There’s music at several venues, and it’s also the day the gallery shows all new art for the month, with two new featured artists, and a nice wine and cheese spread.

A lot of us went, not only to support the gallery and these featured artists, but because our beloved Betsie Withey (you might remember her: she made my gown for the Nebula Awards ceremony last year) is now a member of ACGOW.

It’s so exciting to see her branch out from her WONDERFUL FAERIE MARKET ETSY STORE to galleries and museum gift shops. Nancy Burns-Fusaro of The Westerly Sun even featured Betsie in her Easy Chair series, here.

So we got to go and drool over the art, and buy ourselves more Betsie flowers.

16508758_10154301292431662_4822693433290309635_nBecause if there’s one thing we ALL need more of, it’s BETSIE FLOWERS!!!

And after that, we took ourselves to The Twisted Vine, where we feasted and ate and drank and laughed, and toasted to the arts, and the artists among us.

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March Forth!

My friend Jeanine said on Facebook yesterday: “Today is my favorite day! It’s the only day that’s a command: March forth!”

51n0yhusxhl-_sy346_Anyway, I loved that, and it feels apropos to mood of the day. March forth. SALLY FORTH. TALLY HO! &c.

Last week, for Tantor Media, I narrated a book by Susan Kietzman, a local (to me) author whose latest, Every Other Wednesday, will be released in April.

The book’s three protagonists are in their late middle age, somewhat bewildered by (and lost in) their newly emptied nests. They are searching for the next big, best thing–and their quest leads into some dangerously murky waters. The narrative concentrates on the deepening friendship between the three women, and on lessons learned, and on the sudden widening horizons of their lives.

13606393Aaaaaaand . . . TOMORROW AT TANTOR, I get to begin Book 1 of the CAT’S EYE CHRONICLES, by T. L. Shreffler.

The first book is Sora’s Quest, and it is full of assassins and blood-mages and cat-headed swamp people and adventure, plus a really fine mud fight!

I am REALLY looking forward to narrating this one! Plenty of characters growling, sneering, spitting, and defying ALL OVER THE PLACE! Not to mention smoldering, because . . . Well. Sexy assassins!

Also! The author was kind enough to provide a pronunciation guide–which was so thoughtful, and which will come in handy!

Later on this month, I start the second book, Viper’s Creed! I am so looking forward to that next prep script! (In fact, I was so excited about the first one that I downloaded it onto my Kindle before Tantor sent me the prep script. Secondary world fantasy, you know–right up my alley!)

b3dndIn the meantime, I have FINALLY finished the first draft of Desdemona and the Deep, third and last of the Dark Breakers novellas, after The Breaker Queen and The Two Paupers.

It is, of course, SUPREMELY DRAFTY, and different than I thought it would be. It needs a new beginning, and a better middle. BUT I REALLY LIKE THE END! (Hint: Phossy Jaw Girls GET THEIR OWN!)

And I like that it’s full of goblins, and fashion, and shenanigans, parasite titans and robber knights, pissed-off unions, Gentry Sovereigns, strange forests, transformation, REALLY COOL MAGIC HATS, and bargains: for lives traded away, for lives wasted in excess, for whatever comes next.

16463089_1484018574962516_7639575509475070300_oMarch is a kind of big deal month, even setting narrations aside.

This coming Thursday, March 9th, The Savoy Bookshop and Café is hosting Caitlin R. Kiernan! She’ll be doing a reading from her new book Agents of Dreamlandand then I get to be the “Q” of a “Q and A” with her.

Right now, even as I type, I have, like, 7 tabs open about Kiernan–website, Wikipedia entry, LJ, that recent Tor.com review of her book. (Her BOOK! Which I read! And which was delicious, and sick, and beautiful!!! Yum. It’d make a fine wine pairing with Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.)

Anyway, I’m excited. CAN YOU TELL??? Here’s the Facebook Event Page for the Kiernan reading/conversation!

THEN! Just after I do pickups for Every Other Wednesday on the following Thursday, I get to go and pick up PATTY TEMPLETON from the AIRPORT!

That’s right, the DREAD Patty Templeton of THERE IS NO LOVELY END FAME is coming to visit ME!

there-is-no-lovely-end-switchbladeTempleton’s been busy all fall and winter moving from Chicago to Durango, CO and becoming a JOURNALIST for DGO Magazine, where she gets to interview rockstars and dinosaur hunters and dance on stage with JIM BELUSHI!

(And, by the way, she did this FANTASTIC piece on the importance of public radio HERE!)

But now she is MINE! ALL MINE, I TELL YOU!

She’ll be joining me, Carlos Hernandez (author of the AMAZING AND INCREDIBLE Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria), and a bunch of local authors/musicians/poets (Jessica Wick, Christa Beauchamp, Ali Lucas, Faye Ringel, Amber Langanke) on March 17th for “Ghosts, Saints, Faeries: Uncanny Stories, Poems and Songs.”

It’ll be held at the Artists’ Cooperative of Westerly! The Facebook Event Page is HERE.

Gosh, I wanted to write all about this last weekend, but I’ll save that for the next blog! COMING SOON!


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Final Boskone Schedule

FRIDAY, February 17th

Friday 6-6:30 PM, Griffin (Westin)

Panel: Name That Magical Creature
Friday 7:00 – 8:00 PM, Burroughs (Westin)

Creatures from all the known worlds and myriad planes of existence are gathered here to be displayed for the entertainment and edification of the public. Our expert zoologists will attempt to identify the various species of wild magical beasts, gathered from dozens of shadowy realms, competing for the ultimate prize. Audience participation is encouraged: bring your favorite creatures to be identified by our panel of virtuoso beast masters.

SATURDAY, February 18th
Panel: Overcoming Stage Fright and Reading Aloud in Public
Saturday 10:00 – 11:00 AM, Griffin (Westin)

Public speaking is often a difficult thing for many people. Authors may find it especially challenging to read their work aloud. Join us for a discussion on how our panelists prepare when having to give talks or readings, and how they’ve worked to overcome stage fright. As time allows, audience members will be invited to come to the front of the room to read a paragraph of their own work, and receive constructive feedback from our panelists.

Panel: Poetry and Performance
Saturday 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Lewis (Westin)

Reading a story aloud and reading a poem aloud take different skills. Or do they? Our panel of poets proffers tips and advice on performing poetry. They will also share some of their own poetry for your listening pleasure.

Panel: How Audiobooks Differ From Books and Why That Matters
Saturday 2:00 – 3:00 PM, Marina 1 (Westin)

Audiobooks are often considered simply ways you can experience books with less effort, or while doing something else (like driving). But must audiobooks be merely epiphenomena of their written forms? How could the genre of audiobooks evolve if the connection with books in print were broken? With text-to-speech software, would they be much different from radio plays?

C.S.E. Cooney, Jeremy Flagg, James Patrick Kelly, Jo Walton
Saturday 3:00 – 4:00 PM, Galleria – Autographing (Westin)

Open Mic: Villains!
Saturday 8:00 – 9:30 PM, Galleria – Stage (Westin)

Live from Boskone … enjoy the unsavory stylings of our program participants and audience members. They share their open mic skills in the second annual Boskone Open Mic, which this year features our favorite fictitious villains! Each person gives his/her best 5-minute villainous performance — story, poem, song, skit, interpretive dance, or whatever! OPTIONAL: For extra-appalling appeal, feel free to come dressed as your favorite fictitious villain!

The Rules:
Boskone members are invited to join our participants in the open mic by signing up for one of the six open slots at the door to the event, which opens for sign-ups at 7:30 p.m. Each performer is given a firm 5-minute time limit (max), including setup time. So a quick transition between acts is key.

SUNDAY, February 19th
Brimstone Rhine Concert”
Sunday 11:30 – 12:00, Lewis (Westin)

Poet and author C. S. E. Cooney performs under her songwriting name, Brimstone Rhine.

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a mythtacular night of story and song

December 2016.
Artists from 6 states & 2 countries.
Classical texts.
Contemporary Mythic Poets.
Original Music.
Over $600 to a local charity.


OVID’S “MEDUSA”/ Song: Cootchie Cootchie, Medusa Baby
(Text for “Cootchie Cootchie” at BR’s Alecto! Alecto!)

PURCELL’S’ “WHEN I AM LAID IN EARTH”/ Song: Dido in Effigy
(Text for “Dido in Effigy” at BR’s Alecto! Alecto!)

EURIPIDES’ “MEDEA”/ Song: Medea’s Dragon
(Text for “Medea’s Dragon” at BR’s Alecto! Alecto!)

HOMER’S “CIRCE” / Song: Circe embedded
(Text for “Circe” at BR’s Alecto! Alecto!)


ACT 2:

Song: Gentle Caliban


Song: Black Widow’s Waltz
Text for “Black Widow’s Waltz at BR’s Headless Bride)

(Text for “Good Neighbors” found at Uncanny Magazine)

Song: Foxgirl Song Cycle 1
(Text for “Foxgirl” at Uncanny Magazine)

(Text for “Pieces” at Stone Telling)

Song: Lady Knight / Pale Lady

(Text for “Abuela” at Uncanny Magazine)

Song: Maggot the Banshee / SHVETA THAKRAR’S “NAGINI’S NIGHT SONG”  / Song: Barrow Brine embedded
(Text for “Nagini’s Night Song” at Mythic Delirium)
(Text for “Barrow Brine” at BR’s Headless Bride)

ARISTOPHANES’ “LYSISTRATA”/Song: Lysistrata, Strut Your Stuff
(Text for “Lysistrata Strut” at BR’s Alecto! Alecto!)

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Hernandez, reading

What strikes me tonight, as Hernandez reads “Entanglements” from new anthology Latin@ Rising, is first, his introduction.

He comes onstage smiling, and he begins by thanking everybody. He thanks the Twenty Sided Store who hosts us, Chris Kreuter for Emceeing us, the audience, everyone.

It is as if the story he is about to tell is his home, and he is set on becoming the host of that small but infinite space. By taking the stage, by expressing his gratitude, he opens his door and ushers us all in.

There is, on his face, an expression of almost beatific sweetness.

It is a smile that hovers over him like a halo. It never quite leaves his face, even during the direst and darkest of passages, but takes on a curve of bitterness here, a pang of helplessness there, shades of rage, or hunger, or desire. Throughout, the glow of that smile lingers at his cheekbones, illumines his eyes.

It always begins and ends with gratitude, with him. As if it weren’t our honor just to be in his presence, listening to him read. And such stories!

Anyway, I have a lot to learn from him. Not least of which, to remember that we must take nothing for granted. This time, this attention, this space, this place, these people. To express our warmest and most genuine welcome in gratitude, to open the door into our stories with joyful grace.

15676457_10154168564226662_4679302845476899268_o 15676522_10154169398871662_9100455306331248575_o

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Krampus, Baby

Krampus baby, slip a birch switch under the tree, for me
Been an awful bad girl
Krampus baby, so slither down my chimney tonight

Krampus baby, a scourging purge with your little lash, then smash
All the bones in my hand
Krampus baby, come slither down my chimney tonight

Think of all the hell I’ve raised
Think of all the fellas that I plagued and hazed
Steep me in your cauldron deep
And cook me till I’m nice and braised

Krampus honey, a suit of fur would just make me purr, for sure
Been a devil all year
Krampus baby, so slither down my chimney tonight

Krampus cutie, there’s one thing that I really do need, to bleed
In a cauldron of limbs
Krampus cutie, so slither down the chimney tonight

Krampus baby, of predators you are the apex, you vex
And you hex all the time
Krampus baby, so slither down the chimney tonight

Come infest my Krampus nest
With flogs and chains and horns and hooves and all the rest
Krampus, I’m obsessed with you
You’re better than the very best

Krampus baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
Yes, I mean through my nose
Krampus baby, come slither down the chimney tonight
Slither down my chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight

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The Archivist

for Jeremy Brett

He was the archivist, hive artist, building bee of book queens
Cataloguer, stargazer, keeper of the histories
Time-tender, mind-bender, guardian of the garden
(Opus-blossom, tome-bloom, orchid of the quarto moon)
Dictionary sentry, vede mecum warden
Softcover sentinel, steward of the volume
Compendium custodian, defender of the lexicon
Minister of monk scrolls, occult apothecary
Poetry protector and conservator of copy
Encyclopedic overseer, dissertation sentry
Omnibusboy, page of pamphlets, prince of printed leaflets
Codex cad, thesaurus rex, treatise tarot reader
Monarch of the monographs, anarchist of albums
Archivist, hive artist, Atlas of the atlas


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Medusa Mia! Pre-Show That Never Will Be!

Due to OUR change of venue, we are unable to get our hands on a projector screen for this SUPERFUN PRE-SHOW Carlos Hernandez and I put together!

What we’d meant to do was have these images, multiple choices, and “unfun” facts for the PRE-SHOW, and then RE-USE the images DURING the show, pairing with the songs we chose them for.

So, after you watch, just imagine REPLAYING it with the following in mind.


(MEDUSA) 1. OVID’S “MEDUSA”/Song: Cootchie Cootchie, Medusa Baby
(DIDO) 2. Dido’s lament “WHEN I AM LAID IN EARTH”/Song: Dido in Effigy
(MEDEA) 3. EURIPIDES “MEDEA”/Song: Medea’s Dragon
(CIRCE) 4. HOMER’S “CIRCE” / Song: Circe embedded


(ARIEL) 1.Song: Gentle Caliban/Liz Duffy Adams’ play: “BECALMED”
(WITCH) 2. Song: Black Widow’s Waltz/“GOOD NEIGHBORS” (Jessica Wick)
(KITSUNE) 3. Song: Foxgirl Song Cycle 1
(WAR) 4. Julia Rios’s “YET I BREATHE”/Amal El-Mohtar’s”Pieces”/Song: Lady Knight / Pale Lady
(ROOSTER) 5. Carlos Herandanez’s “In Lieu of the Stories My Santera Abuela Should Have Told Me Herself, This Poem”
(BANSHEE) 6. Song: Maggot the Banshee
(NAGINI) 7. “NAGINI’S NIGHT SONG” (by Shveta Thakrar) / Song: Barrow Brine embedded
(LYSISTRATA) 8. “LYSISTRATA” SCENE/Song/Parade: Lysistrata, Strut Your Stuff

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Call & Response, by Fran Wilde & C.S.E. Cooney

A Facebook Private Message Collaboration! Sort of by accident. Meteoric brightness in this gray.


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Jack and Jill and the Old Silver Moon

dedicated to Anthony John Woo
inspired by Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meaning of Nursery Rhymes by Albert Jack

Jack, said his sister
I’m thirsty and sore
Let’s seek out the well of the moon
His water so silver
Runs endless and sweet
A drop or I’ll perish soon

Jill, said her brother
It’s thieves we will be
The two of us rascals and lords
We’ll fly to the moon
And we’ll drink of his well
And steal all the gems of his horde

The moon has a cannon
As white as an egg
It blisters and blusters and roars
It blunders and thunders
And CRACK! goes your pate
And down falls your head ever more

Now Jill is a beggar
And Jack is an urchin
And long burn the stars in the night
They watch the youths climb
Through the murk and the grime
To steal them a pail full of light

Boom! goes the moon
And the white cannon fires
And thus a new crater is born
The bucket lies broken
The children the same
With none but the stars left to mourn

Jack, said his sister
We’ve had an adventure
Jill, said her brother, it’s true
And if I must die
Well, I’ll die in the sky
And at least at the end, it’s with you

The moon, he was moved
Like a god on his throne
And so, like a god, he was kind
The dust of their tongues
Did he lay with a kiss
And they turned all to silver so fine

Now Jill is the queen
Of the well of the moon
And Jack is the king of the egg
It’s on them to mete out
their mercy or murder
To children too hungry to beg

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