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Sol Claire

October 2014

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Oct. 15th, 2014

Sol Claire

REPOST: For the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadors: And the Queen I Loved

I couldn't figure out how to share this on my MOBILE LJ app, but now I'm here with my computer, and I can show you all THIS GLORY OF GLORIES, by poet and writer Jennifer Crow! She wrote it about the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours show we did at Readercon this year, with guest artists Patty Templeton and Nicole Kornher-Stace!
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I've been meaning to write this ever since I saw the BACT show at Readercon. This is respectfully dedicated to my favorite troubadors (unless they hate it, in which case I have no idea how the hell it happened, and clearly I was hacked by some, well, HACK or something).

And the Queen I Loved

There's a beat that moves blood-deep
and soul-wide, a pulse trembling
in the breathless silence between songs.
A reign of music, a queendom of note and word
bounded by their enthroned majesties,
the mysteries in which they initiate us.
A tarot-casting of queens, merciless
in beauty, matchless in wisdom.

And the queen I loved: wasp-sharp
words building a paper nest in the ear.
Dark mother, she may doubt
her crown awaits, but we have already
bent the knee before her.

And the queen I loved: wild sprite
spun of thistledown and profanity,
her tales troubling the steady turn of history,
her snake-oil truths a remedy we drink deep.

And the queen I loved: quiet sorrow
plucking ballads from air and bone
and the rust-red dust of other worlds.
A silk ribbon of song around our throats, our hearts.

And the queen I loved: generous merriment,
sovereign of wonder, her every step crossing
a stage only she can see. She will bow
at the finish, but we are the ones humbled.

And the queen I loved: drawing stairs
from her harp strings, a flight to heavens
unexpected, a honey-drenched dream
from which we awake only reluctantly,
if at all.

What palace can match this court, what earthly ruler
can dream of challenging their supremacy?
A few bars of music, a sentence or two,
and an ordinary room transforms.
What luck, to stumble upon a dream
made flesh for a moment, a vision
spun solid beneath our feet.

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Sol Claire

Breaker Queen: Book One of Dark Breakers

THE BREAKER QUEEN
Book One of Dark Breakers


0BreakerFinal

Elliot Howell is a rising star in the Seafall painting community. He has a promising career as a portrait artist, good friends, and a fabulously wealthy patroness. In other words, he has everything to lose.

Queen Nyx rules the Gentry court in Valwode, the magic country between the mortal world and Bana the Bone Kingdom where goblins dwell. She is powerful, and beautiful, and wise beyond all imagining, but she has no heir to wear the Antler Crown when she is gone.

Elliot and Nyx meet at Breaker House, a building anchored in all three worlds: mortal, Gentry, and goblin. For Elliot, it is love at first sight. For Nyx, loving a mortal man may mean giving up her crown, her country, and her eternal life.

But some things are worth any price.

***


Available for $2.99 on Kindle.

***

Sep. 12th, 2014

Sol Claire

Sigh. She loves me.

People can be mean.

But hell hath no fury like Amal when people are mean to me.

I love poets.

I love Amal.


Originally posted by tithenai at To a Woman Who Crossed My Lady
For csecooney, on the occasion of her encountering some human-shaped scum.


TO A WOMAN WHO CROSSED MY LADY

I see you lurking, seething spite
For one who's done her work just right
Who's bent and borne your vicious ills
Who's wiped your spit, who's mopped your spills
Who's counted out your rumpled bills
And will not keep a penny--

I see you, rotted loathsome blight
Your shrivelled soul a nasty sight
My lady's brilliant, blooming, bright--
I see you gain your vile thrills
From quashing one whose shine, whose skills
Trump you, and yours, and many--

I see you, slimy wretched wight,
With petty twists of nonsense trite--
So certain that you're in the right--
But you have picked a foolish fight.
The look you cast my lady fills
me with a rage my wit distills
Into a poison for my quills--
I'll not ask leave of any

Before I pluck your sneering eyes
And slice a mince out of your thighs
Your viscera I'll itemize
Your organs I will organize
Your agonies and shrillest cries
Shall be my sweetest lullabies!
I'll bake you into apple pies
To feed a tiding of magpies
Who'll take to wing and fill the skies
With scorn for you.

                              It was unwise
To think you safely could despise
My lady.

Aug. 26th, 2014

LANGUID

My Golden Body

Blog!

It has been almost a month since I blogged you!

I was so sick, you know, and reading all kinds of ROMANCE NOVELS, namely Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare, although I didn't much mind my brief foray into Amanda Quick. All of that is Julia Rios Voice of the Rainbow's fault. I can blame her, because she's on her honeymoon and can't contradict me. Okay, so I may have asked her to HOOK ME UP with something LIGHT AND FUNNY and with KISSING.

But then I started to feel better and read things like "Dawn O'Hara: the Girl Who Laughed" by Edna Ferber and Jane Austen's "Lady Susan" which was so funny and mean! And then, as I was feeling better, work has picked up, and I have picked up my bicycle...

...And with my bicycle (thanks to Mike and Anita Allen, via Cat Valente), I have picked up this habit, or rather, "APP," as they like to call it these days called "LOSE IT."

And now everything is about being, like, um, conscious about what is going into my body and what USE I am getting out of it.

And I thought I might as well start biking BOTH ways to work this week, since Sita is off housesitting and pet-sitting, and it's just SILLY to waste gas having her come and pick me up, when I have this PERFECTLY SPLENDID MACHINE powered by the ENGINE THAT IS MY HEART, and I feel very romantic about all of it until I'm grunting up the wobbly cement steps of the cellar, manhandling my bike into the sunlight, and then laboring and gasping up the hills, and getting so RED IN THE FACE (and neck and chest and everything) that everyone at work says "MY, HOW SUNBURNT YOU ARE" and "SOMEONE'S BEEN TO THE BEACH!", and I'm like, just wait 20 MINUTES and you will see that this hectic shade will calm down, it's just that I'm IRISH, you know, and quite FLORID.

(You can recognize that I have been reading REGENCY ROMANCE novels by the number of "quites" I use in a paragraph.)

Okay, okay, but this APP, right??? This LOSE IT thang. One plugs in one's FOOD INTAKE. And also one's EXERCISE. And GOALS FOR THE FUTURE. And it gives you a certain BUDGET of calories one can take in, and when you exercise, it tells you how many calories you've USED.

And here's the thing. I walk, I ride my bike, I whatever. I also EAT. And even a KALE SALAD is rendered inhospitable by the OLIVE OIL one squirts in it with the lemon juice to massage it down to palatability (if that's a word).

And maybe I ought to MEASURE my olive oil. I'm so FLAGRANT with it, and then I err on the side of "two tablespoons" in my reportage on the APP, but what if it's really just two TEASPOONS???

But the POINT is, I biked 17 miles today. And still, by the time I was done with dinner, I was OVERBUDGET for my calories.

So I thought about taking an hour and five minute walk. That's what would have brought me back down. But, as I said, SEVENTEEN FRIKKIN MILES I bike-road today. A frikkin HOUR WALK on top of that? I mean, COME ON!!!

But you know what's awesome?

DANCING.

Dancing is awesome.

25 minutes of dancing? POOF! Magic. I'm 15 calories under budget AND I ate a Lindorf dark chocolate truffle for dessert, HOOYAH!

But here's the thing. I love dancing. I have several set lists (like "Dance in the Morning" and "Dance in the Evening") that I made over the years just because I LOVE dancing, and I love lighting candles in my dark study and rolling up the tapestry on the floor and just going AT IT!

I love the way my hair gets sexy flop-sweat swoopy and falls into my eyes, which are always just so DARK AND ALLURING (too many romance novels, when I start using words like "DARK AND ALLURING") when I dance at myself in the mirror.

And I love my heartbeat.

And I love getting all... oh, you know. GRACEFUL!

Perhaps I would not look graceful to anyone watching me. Which makes it so PLEASING that no one IS watching me. I dance for MYSELF!!!

(Okay, and when Patty Templeton visits me, or Mir, and we go see cool bands, I dance for them too. Because I trust them. Because they never make me feel any LESS beautiful for being with them, although I... Well, Mir, you know, is this professional dancer, so I get kind of WISTFUL, but she SCOLDS me and tells me, "You know how beautiful you are until you get all self-concious???" and that makes me LOVE her, and it makes me WANT to dance with her, even if I am the paltriest N00B!!!)

And so, in a way... Having an excuse like calorie-counting to MAKE MYSELF DANCE? It's amazing!!!

Guess what I was thinking earlier today? Talk about Your Moments of Wistfulness.

I was thinking: "Claire, why doesn't the grown-up world have PLAYGROUNDS for GROWN-UPS???"

I just wanted a fake castle to climb on, you know? And a plastic drawbridge to cross, like, 20 times, trying to escape the dragons or dragoons or whatever. But then I thought, "Hey, the WORLD is a GROWN-UP'S PLAYGROUND." I could, for example, go to the forest and climb on ROCKS, and no one can stop me, because I am a GOSH DANG GROWN-UP!!!

But then I have that grown-up hang-up of going and climbing rocks all by myself, because what if I fell and broke something? Or got attacked by... bears. Or that thing that is worse than bears.

(Too much NEWSFEED. Not enough ROMANCE NOVELS. Blegh. This terrible, frightening, mean world. Lady Susan ain't got nothing on it.)

But THEN I thought that the best thing about being a kid (or a trained actress who has spent TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on her acting training) is that with a little IMAGINATION, a chair can become a ROCKET SHIP!

So when I was dancing tonight, I decided to make my own playground. I used ALL THE LEVELS! I climbed on chairs, and my work bench. I crawled around the floor. I slapped the walls and swung on doors and clung to door frames.

Perimeters, man! Reminding my body that it was better than sitting in chairs all day selling tickets to things. Or even sitting on my GOLDEN BICYCLE OF GLORY and powering its AWESOME GEARS with the ENGINE THAT IS MY HEART.

(And I will always love my nice beautiful bicycling neighbor friend Jack Hanlon for giving me that metaphor, because it is full of HOPE AND FIRE, isn't it, this idea of self, and its heart muscle, powering WHOLE CONTRAPTIONS!!! It makes me feel that I just might survive the zombie apocalypse. That, and barefoot running. I'm really interested in barefoot running…)

And I just wanted to tell you that, before I took a shower. Because I truly am... MOIST. And rather salty. And I read a romance novel tonight as I was eating dinner (but before I danced) instead of writing, but gods, to start writing fiction NOW would take me to MIDNIGHT, but maybe I'll do it anyway, even if I do have to get up in the morning and bike to work AGAIN, because I still have two hours before my eyes start to droop. But anyway, I thought I'd blog, partly to assuage my guilt, and partly because...

Because I just THOUGHT YOU'D WANT TO KNOW. That's why I blog. I think. Maybe I'd do it anyway.

Besides.

I had tea.

CAN'T YOU TELL???

I can tell.

GOODNIGHT! FIND YOUR PLAYGROUND IF YOU WANT ONE!

***

Aug. 6th, 2014

Sol Claire

Three Husbands and a Rooster

I heard two stories the other day, real-world ones, that made me think of new things. And that's worth something, I think. To break the groove of old thoughts.

I'll start with the rooster.

Sita will be going housesitting again toward the end of this month. This time she gets to play farm girl at a house with two goats, a miniature horse, some chickens, a few dogs, and rooster. She is so excited about this. She was telling me all about the goat with the helicopter ears, and the shy horse, and the Great Dane. But the rooster was the most fascinating.

When I think of roosters, I think...

1.) The cartoon Rock-a-Doodle, and that dude Chanticleer
2.) Cock fights in Regency Romance Novels
3.) Annoying dawn wake-up calls
4.) The color red
5.) The inevitable euphemisms

What I DON'T imagine, what I have NEVER imagined, what I could not have MADE UP is a rooster who, when given a chunk of watermelon, BREAKS IT UP WITH HIS BEAK, and then divvies it up amidst his hens. Who herds his hens towards any new bit of food in the yard, making sure they all eat. Who keeps away the hawks AND is a sweetheart AT THE SAME TIME!

It made me think of roosters - of the male animal of any given species, each fraught with its own set of expectations and prejudices - in a whole new light. I mean, WATERMELONS.

I also heard about a woman (a friend of Sita's) who has three husbands. Now, Sita has told me of these friends before. She met them in the SCA out west, and speaking of them always puts a soft light in her eye. One of the husbands recently suffered a massive heart attack and was hospitalized. Hearing about this on Facebook, his wife's friends asked if she was getting enough sleep in between hospital visits.

She replied that she was getting plenty, because she and her other two husbands were on twelve hour shifts. The invalid husband was never alone, and everyone got plenty of sleep. Sita practically started crying when she related this. She wants everyone to have love like this.

When I think of husbands, I think...

Oh, never mind what I think. I started my list and realized the instant word associations don't really bear repeating. Old grooves. Old thoughts. Not even ones I believe anymore. I can do better if I think about it.

But now when I think of husbands, I will think of the three of them and their wife too, somewhere out West in the desert, loving each other, living together. Keeping vigil.


***

Aug. 5th, 2014

Sol Claire

Ride on, little girl

I just got back from a walk, and on my way I saw a little girl on a skateboard.

Actually, she was anywhere from 11 to 13, so not so little, and she was practicing. She carried it from the middle of the road where I saw her. Set it down. Stood upon it, steadied herself, wobbled a little, and prepped a flip that ultimately failed.

But I saw her core was strong.

She reminded me of my friend Francesca, who is teaching herself how to ride a skateboard. She takes her board into the wilderness where no one can watch her, and practices.

Feeling a little shy, I called out to the girl across the street, "How long have you been riding?"

She replied with a laugh, "Not very long."

"You're going to be great," I said.

The girl looked surprised. Then she beamed. "THANKS!"

A woman--I think it was the girl's mother--who was nearby walking the dog, said, "Aww, see?" in a most encouraging and understanding voice.

By that time, I had already passed them and was well on my way. But I couldn't stop smiling.

I like to see a girl on a skateboard.

Years ago, one evening as I presided at a Vespers service at my pastoral musician father's church, he told me, "I like to see a woman vested."

He had a radical twinkle in his eye. It is quite a thing to say in a Catholic Church.

Since then, I have officiated at two weddings. Totally nondenominational. Totally splendid and unexpected and never something I imagined myself doing. I have been Maid of Honor and I have been a bridesmaid, but the wonderful spiritual SURPRISE of life came in my role as the (more or less) high priestess.

The thing is, I like to see a woman vested too.

I like to look in the mirror and see that woman there. Not bound by ancient law or traditions, but in defiance of them. In celebration of community. In love with ritual, even if I have to make the damned ritual up myself.

So. With that in mind, and in my father's tone of voice, I say to myself, "I like to see a woman on a skateboard."

It is like a blessing.

Ride on, little girl.
Rock on, young woman.
Peace.

Jul. 25th, 2014

Sol Claire

Full up, and can hold no more

Two more nights of Cymbeline, then we'll put my Villain Queen to rest. She was far less exhausting than Mrs. Daldry, that fragile beauty, and I'm only now delving into her foul mischievousness, the blackguard, but she'll do. She will do.

Yes. Do't and to bed then, you crafty devil. Then I am done with you.

The hyperbole of theatre is "good for the soul but it's bad for the heart / It's very good for practicing self control / It's very good for morals, but bad for morale..." I mood-swing like crazy. I go from being wildly elated and electric and powerful and doing this thing I love to do, that I'm trained in, that makes me more wholly me, to feeling socially inept, unwanted, unlovely, awkward, and definitely NOT THE RIGHT AGE.

Not that I ever was, if there ever was such a thing as the right age.

And it's tiresome, to be lonely in company. Solitude has its own weight, sure, but its heaviness suffocates more velvetly, without that bitter acid edge.

All that said, that's... That's just the LOW. The lows of now, the lows of theatre, the lows of me. And mostly I'm not there. I don't dwell in the lowlands. I live in the heights. I live high up, both in outer habitat and in inner landscapes. Mostly it's GIDDY FUN to be in a play. And I speak the rest from weariness.

Tonight was lovely. In an odd moment of my theatre life conjoining with my literary life (HAS NEVER HAPPENED REALLY, though the reverse has happened, when I bring performance to my writing, etc), three of my fellow actors, for reasons of being sweet and supportive, read my novella "Martyr's Gem" which recently made an appearance in Rich Horton's Years Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014.

And so, I'm standing there, half-dressed in my royal blue velvets and gold-spangled snood, BEAMING ALL OVER MY FACE, as my fellow actors start talking about what they liked about Martyr's Gem, and Shursta, and Hyrryai, and the whole crew, and the over-arching themes, and catharsis, and world-building, and I can't help it, I start bouncing like a pogo-stick, and I love them all just for... just for being READERS, and for reading ME. And I felt GOLDEN in the glow of their eyes. And happy. And, you know, PAID ATTENTION TO.

"a girl's gotta do, after all
whatever she can
for attention..."

And it did much to wash the rest of it away. The rest of the sting of sadness, and the tiredness, and the readiness to give up theatre and just be a WRITER again, because at least then I can be ALONE with my WISH-FULFILLMENT, and give my inner fiends other meat to feed on than the fleeting fondness of my fellow men.

Oh, it all looks very silly. All of this typing. Here in words.

I AM SILLY. I know it. You don't have to say it. How revoltingly facile, really.

Sometimes I think I'm a great fool to feel anything ever. Wouldn't it be better (much COOLER) to be remote and mysterious and cold?

Sometimes I am that person too. But it never lasts long enough. It always melts in my easy blush of gratitude or of shame.

Tonight I am not cool. But I'm not ashamed either. I am... ZING ZOU ZOU!

All the golden things seem to glitter down at once, don't they? After my last scene, I have a good half hour till curtain call. So I was playing with my new phone, and there received an email from Shveta Thakrar pointing me to K. Tempest Bradford's article in i09 about the week's best short stories.

AND "WITCH, BEAST, SAINT" WAS ONE OF THEM!

AND BEK'S ARTWORK WAS FEATURED!

AND I AM SO HAPPY!

So, I don't even know.

Ice cream.

I know ice cream. With Baileys.

GOOD NIGHT.

***

Jul. 21st, 2014

Sol Claire

The Witch's Garden Series

Two Erotic Fairy Tales from The Witch's Garden...
ON THE SAME DAY!


WITCH, BEAST, SAINT

"I could’ve changed him back. The transformation spell would take research, focus, a not inconsiderable outpouring of stored magic, but in the end, it was entirely doable. Thing was, I rather liked my monster as a monster."

Read it for free on Strange Horizons.


groomingcropped

THE WITCH IN THE ALMOND TREE


In this sensational debut novella of The Witch’s Garden Series, C. S. E. Cooney introduces Mar, a Witch of Doornwald, who goes to her mother’s country home in order to relax from the demands of city life, but finds danger and passion instead. Faced with a haunted grove, a secretive stepfather, a mother who may be sharing her body with an ancient demon, and a mysterious young man named Wraith, what’s a Witch to do?

Save the day. Rescue her mother. Win fair gentleman.

Just perhaps, Mar will also learn that a beguiling stranger’s innocence may be more tempting by far than the attentions of her jaded city lover, that the magic her touch awakens in him might more powerful than any she has seen, and that in seducing his virtue and tutoring him in the erotic arts, she herself may be seduced, body and soul.

Intoxicatingly sensual and deliciously dark, The Witch in the Almond Tree propels you into a world of witches and ghosts, prophecy and carnality that you’ll want to return to again and again.


Now available for sale on Amazon.com

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PREVIOUS PRAISE FOR C. S. E. COONEY

"A headlong romp. . .Sublime, sublime-o." - Sharon Shinn, author of The Shape-Changer's Wife

"Stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible. . ." - Ellen Kushner, author of Thomas the Rhymer

"Funny and horrifying and moving by turns." - James Enge, author of The Blood of Ambrose

"...A lively and engaging narrative voice." - Lois Tilton, The Internet Review of Science Fiction

"Cooney's imagery and invention is as fevered as always. . .and her control of tone is perfect." - Rich Horton, Locus Magazine


***

Jul. 10th, 2014

Sol Claire

First Show

First of all, Amal and Caitlyn... At my HOUSE. In my PURPLE PARLOR.

Life all of a sudden turned into ONE HUGE DRESS UP PARTY. I love to see people wearing my hats. In fact, I sometimes have to gift hats right away to those among us who just LOOK BETTER in them!

Second of all, you know what I am NO GOOD AT DOING? Walking into a place like, say, a coffee shop (Perks and Corks) or a bar (The Malted Barley) and asking if I can leave posters or postcards for upcoming events.

I know I have to do these things. I gird myself to do them, as for war. But they sit languishing (mistyped, just now "stuffed languages") on the kitchen table. Become limp and wrinkled. Doleful. And I with them.

BUT THEN COME THE APOCALYPSE GALS and in they stroll to these establishments, BREEZY AS YOU PLEASE, and they make it all look so EASY. This whole "talking to strangers" thing. Not for me.

Give me an audience to perform for any day of the week, but oh, those HUMAN INTERACTIONS on territory OTHER THAN MINE OWN!!! Is veddy difficult.

I was so grateful they were there to HELP me. (And by help, I guess I mean, "Do it for me while I watched admiringly.")

And speaking of being grateful... You know what else they thought of that would not have EVEN OCCURRED TO ME?

Before the show, they turned to me and said, "Why don't you do the thanks at the end of the show. Since you know everyone's names."

I blinked at them. "The what?"

"The thanks? You know, when you thank the people who are putting us up for the night and are letting us use their house for a house concert?"

"OOOOOOHHHH!!!"

Yeah. I just... Um. Didn't even think about that. And worse, I WOULDN'T HAVE.

So I made up for my atrocious solipsism by thanking everyone A LOT and not only at the allotted time. But now I know better. Maybe. I hope.

The show last night went really well. Last night, I was mostly relieved that it did.

This morning, instead of relief, all I can feel is INEXPLICABLY LUCKY. How did I ever get here? How did it come to be that we get to do this? Together? This singing and this reciting and these sequins and those instruments, and how it all comes together, and how it gets better?

It's like that Greg Brown song:

"If I had known
I'd do it all over again
Some things just get better and better
And better than they already been, mmn, mmn, mmn..."

Next show tomorrow at 4.

Remind me to write a whole post just about my brother, and singing with him.

Photo on 2014-07-09 at 19.24 #4



Jul. 8th, 2014

Sol Claire

An Alphabet of Embers Day 1, now with letters

Originally posted by rose_lemberg at An Alphabet of Embers Day 1, now with letters



In case you missed it, the Kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers has launched last night.  We are kickstarting for an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose.


The book will have beautiful cover art by Galen Dara, and there are so many wonderful rewards – a song by Emily Jiang, a bonus chapbook of science poetry (I will post more on that separately), additional books, posters, boxes of treasure, and even an epic performance of an Eddic poem Atlakviða in the original Old Norse.


And here’s a first of our surprises: the letter you see below is an A of Embers, from an Alphabet of Embers graciously drawn and donated to the project by Bogi Takács. The alphabet includes many other letters, which will appear in our Kickstarter updates! Some of these letters look more like Latin characters, while others are unique to the alphabet, like the letter A below.




A of Embers, by Bogi Takács

A of Embers, by Bogi Takács



Thanks to our wonderful first-day donors, we are 18% to goal. Thank you so much to all who donated and signal boosted! Can we make it to 20% today?


ETA: Hurray, 20% reached! Can we reach 25% on Day 1?


ETA2: HURRAY, and enormous thanks to our wonderful backers, we’ve reached 25%! Can we reach 30%, or $1800, today?


Signal boosting is very much appreciated!



Originally published at RoseLemberg.net. You can comment here or there.

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