Writer Gal

Sing the Street of Queens

A fog-swallowed day. He's carapaced to resist it, whatever's coming. Full on weather warrior, that one. Don't ask where he got his old armament, the battered brown kind that deflects acid like raindrops. Bullets or hail, makes no never mind. Might've slaughtered for it, might've bartered for it. A fistful of blueberries or viscera; he ain't telling.

Can hear him before you see him. It's the humming gives him away. Most folks think the Street of Queens can only be survived by slinking by. Head low, shoulders hunched--and for Frig's, Freyja's, and Fraggle Rock's sake don't make eye contact or your ass is last winter's dog scat after the first thaw.

But the humming. That's his secret. How you know it's him. Another day, another sunny smile. Ready for anything, wary as a broken bottle.  He hums and thrums his way across the street. Makes it to the other side, safe. I watch from the window tucked in his right hand. From a hundred miles away, safe in my tower, nose pressed to my mirror, watching.

Trucks swerve to avoid him. Even the cyclists slow their kamikaze velocities--out of respect, see. That music? That's old jubjub. La canción. El encantamiento. That's the secret, he told me once. "You gotta sing your way through this city. Remember that."

Wasn't a lesson so much as a reminder. I too lived among cliffdwellers once, in the City of Drowned Glass. Got soft in this tree-lined place, where the rain is just rain, and the trucks don't have teeth. I admit, I'd rather an ocean than the cicada roar of construction--and when I say cicada, think just popped outta the shell, size of a football field, and yeah, the city's no place for entomophobes. Like I said. Soft.

But my breath fogs the mirror. The cityscape rolls away into gray as he makes his daily commute via katabasis. Green eyes, a slick stairwell, gone.

I'll be joining him soon. Some things you just know. The tune in your throat tells you so. Time to polish my old breastplate to bronzelight. Time to open my mouth and sing.

for Carlos Hernandez
Writer Gal

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.
Writer Gal

Posted by Negothick: FIRST NOTICE! "Our Stories/ Nuestras Historias!"

I'll be going to this, of that you may be SURE!

Originally posted by negothick at First notice!

But you'll be seeing lots more as the time draws near:

Mark your calendars for Saturday April 29, when the Norwich Arts Center will present Our Stories/ Nuestras Historias, a full day of celebrating Latinos in the Arts, the culmination of a month dedicated to that theme. Among the featured poet/ storytellers is someone you may know--SF writer, game designer, and poet Carlos Hernandez, fresh from a triumph in Medusa Mia withcsecooney, now taking center stage.

But it will be a full DAY of fun for all: Peruvian folkloric dancers, open mic for story-telling, a buffet of Mexican delights catered by Mi Casa, and poetry reading by great poet-performers, honoring Bessy Reyna, a poet-community activist-journalist and mentor to a generation of Latino/a poets.

Writer Gal

AUCTIONS FOR ACTION! My Contribution! Benefits ACLU!

9781618730978_bigMy friend Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of ARCHIVIST WASP, created this AUCTIONS FOR ACTION page.


We're here to auction items (art, books, handcrafted items, baked goods, whatever!) to benefit the ACLU. Ongoing as long as there's interest!

Here's how it works:


1.) List each item in a separate post under the "Sell Something" tab.

2.) Set a starting bid and end time, and whether you are covering shipping cost or the buyer will need to pay for it.

3.) When your auction is over, post that it has ended and contact your buyer.

4.) The buyer will provide a shipping address and proof of donation to the ACLU in the amount of the winning bid.

Bone_Swans_mockup_ALT-15.) If you are not covering shipping costs, you will need to get them Paypaled to you by the winning bidder.

6.) Ship your item as agreed upon with the buyer.


1.) Bid on items in their own threads. Note what time your auction is ending.

2.) If you win, provide your shipping address to the seller.

3.) Make a donation to the ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/donate-aclu) in the amount of your winning bid and send the seller proof of your donation.

4.) If shipping costs are not covered by the seller, you will need to pay them to the seller separately.


heap-of-cseI myself have listed two items:



1. World Fantasy Award-winning story collection, BONE SWANS.
2. Papaveria-published poetry collection: HOW TO FLIRT IN FAERIELAND AND OTHER WILD RHYMES (includes Rhysling Award-winning "The Sea King's Second Bride."
3. JACK O' THE HILLS, one of the "Wonder Tales" imprints by Papaveria.
4. THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2016, edited by Rich Horton, including C. S. E. Cooney's novella "THE TWO PAUPERS"

Shipping included. Bid ends December 15th, Midnight EST!
brimming-with-brimstoneBRIMMING WITH BRIMSTONE

1. Brimstone Rhine CD, including two EPs "Alecto! Alecto!" and "The Headless Bride."
2. Brimstone Rhine album print, signed by Brimstone Rhine (AKA C. S. E. Cooney)
3. LIMITED EDITION PRINT of forthcoming backer's album CORBEAU BLANC, CORBEAU NOIR. Art by "The Dread" Patty Templeton, signed by artist and Brimstone Rhine (AKA C. S. E. Cooney

Shipping included. Bidding ends December 15th at midnight, EST.

AGAIN, here's the whole AUCTIONS FOR ACTION PAGE to see all the other WONDERFUL THINGS you can bid on!

Thank you so much,

C. S. E. Cooney

Writer Gal


10255907_10208110816958859_5714001170563328498_oI wish I'd written this review last March.

Carlos Hernandez and I were barely friends then. We'd met briefly at Readercon in 2014, became the most casual of Facebook acquaintances, collaborated on a story in January 2015 on a whim, saw it was good, declared ourselves unwilling to stop writing to each other, struck up a correspondence, and became true friends (and then some) pretty quickly after that.

In those early months of our new friendship, I read Hernandez my collection Bone Swans: Stories, which was about to come out in July 2015. He, in turn, read me his collection The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria, slated to debut in early 2016.

After experiencing his book for the first time, back in March, I could have said, with very little bias--or no more than I have for any other writer in our small, genre-loving, literary community--and with all honesty:

"I don't know the man very well, but his writing! Oh, boy. Let me tell you ALL about his writing."

But now I know the man very well, and love him still more, and there is no hope of any lack of prejudice to rein in my hand from lavish praise or sculpt this review down to the pithiest of paragraphs. But I can start with the first thing I said back then in summary, which I kept all these months to use as the subject line for my eventual review:

"This book is wholly irreverent holy beauty."

ACGTQS is a collection of twelve science fiction and fantasy stories. Most, but not all, take place on our world, right here and now--or maybe just a half a breath into the future. The technologies are plausible, the science keenly researched, and through his large cast of mainly Latin@ characters, Hernandez explores what it is to be human and broken. His characters are "people who have assimilated but are actively trying to reclaim their lives."

And his characters. His characters. He doesn't make 'em easy. "No es facil."

12620866_10156499509145204_2081413353_oNah, Hernandez does 'em "the Cuban way: mix a few shit-jokes and pranks in with the heartbreak"--and as we follow them through their stories, we end up, like them, diced up, bleeding out, trembling on the summit of revelation, or at the chasm-bottom of despair, caught in that breathless gulf between sob and guffaw, and for all this--or perhaps because of it--somehow more whole.

Murderers and murdered (though with a technology called the "eneural" dead sure doesn't mean what it used to mean), reporters, physicists, border police, martyrs, musicians, TV producers, teachers, faithless husbands, feral children (and aren't all children feral, after all?), each character is fully realized, each as faceted as a fly's eye, difficult, exquisitely complex, and so gorgeously, shatteringly human.

I have my favorites. "More than Pigs and Rosaries Can Give," for one--a story about the consequences of sucking ghosts from a bullet hole-riddled wall left over from the Cuban Revolution. For another, the three Gabby Réal stories: "The International Studbook of the Giant Panda"; "The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory"; and "Fantaisie Impromptu No. 4 in C#min, Op. 66."

12562676_10156499509080204_723777974_oWhen I first met Gabby Réal on the page (back in December 2014, just kind of out in the wild in a magazine called Crossed Genres), I instantly knew her for a friend.

Not all fictional characters are folks you'd want to go out for coffee with (well, Gabby would probably drink coffee; I'd drink tea), nor should they be. But Gabby is one of those rare fictions--a woman I want to be when I grow up. She stands alongside the mastercrafted science fiction heroines of Kage Baker and Lois McMaster Bujold. She's quick-tongued, brutally honest, flirty, feisty, and she's lived in the world and encountered its weirdnesses--piano's possessed by their late players, unicorns from another dimension, and what it happens to be like inside an Ailuropoda melanoleuca.

What's more, she's reported on it. Gabby always has a story to tell, and something to take from it.

Plus, I want to go out dancing with her. She's worth knowing. And it's also worth knowing that there are more Gabby tales to come, outside of the three you'll be finding herein.

I've heard Hernandez describe some of his stories fairly flippantly: "The Aphotic Ghost," for example, summarized tongue in cheek as "My Were-Jelly story." Or, cackling to himself, "The International Studbook of the Giant Panda," simplified into, "Oh, that's the one all about Giant Robot Panda Sex."

Neither of which is...untrue.

But while such goofball elevator pitches might get readers to the page, what they'll stay for is the zinging wit his characters often exhibit. The pacing and urgency and breastbone-puncturing adrenalin punch right to the heart of stakes that matter. So much, too, deals unflinchingly with the ferocious melancholy of loss, with gasping moments of drenchingly sensual beauty that surround you like the musk of a fully functioning animatronic animal suit and demand your total surrender.

12620703_10156499509075204_1089676914_oThis book flayed me, man. Pierced me right through--like a pigeon slaughtered by a child priest and offered up to some god in exchange for a desperate favor. (See what I did there? No? You will. Once you read the book.)

I do not regret becoming that sacrifice.


rosarium-musecc-the-peolpe-profiles-carlos hernandezThe author's website

The Awesomeness that is Rosarium Press



When: Sunday, February 7, 2016
What Time: 6 PM - 8 PM
Where: Nuyorican Poets Café
236 E 3rd Street, New York, NY 10009

Writer Gal

Tooting My Own Trumpet Swan: THE BONE SWANS OF AMANDALE (novella) available to read online!!!

Bone_Swans_Bone_SwansGosh. I sort of blew it all on the Subject Line, didn't I?


My nice publisher Mike Allen made it available over at Mythic Delirium so you can read it if you like.

OR YOU CAN BUY THE WHOLE COLLECTION, but this post isn't really about that. It's about HOUSEKEEPING. And DUE DILIGENCE. And. You know. THE SIDE EYE.






So. Yup. Read that, pals o' mine. IF YOU DARE.

Writer Gal



Okay, okay, okay, so today, after BEGGING the INIMITABLE Dr. Carlos Hernandez for computer help, and his most GRACIOUS ACQUIESCENCE, we managed to learn how to do the whole DOWNLOAD CODE thing on Bandcamp, and then hook up with something called MailChimp, and then we sent out special codes to our Backers ($20 and up) to download their copies of our Headless Bride EP!

What does this mean?

It means it's now available for downloading and streaming!


If you are a backer, and did NOT receive your code in the email, and you know you should have, please let me know and I'll send you yours individually! There were a few that gave me some trouble in the past, but only a handful. I have plenty of codes left!

headlessbride art

Writer Gal

THE BALLAD OF RACK AND RHYE: An Homage to Bo Bolander

Just read Bo Bolander's "And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead," published in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57.

So then I wrote this. It's, um, a fan poem. Song. Thing.

Er. Yes. I don't know that I ever cussed so much in a single poem or song before. WELP! FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING!

And... Also. Probably there'll be a ukulele accompaniment sometime in the near future.

For Bo Bolander
By C. S. E. Cooney

Based on Brooke Bolander's And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead
Published by Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57

She is young, she is old, she is gutter-girl bold
With her teeth sharp as moonlight and crystal
She's a skinjob and bum, and the cops have gone numb
In the wake of her knuckles and pistol

She has guns on her hips, she has horns in her fists
And the eye that remain's not for crying
And she spits through the split in her bleeding cracked lips
When he finds her, he thinks she is dying

She is wracked, he is wry, he is wearing a tie
And his two hands are clean as they lift her
She is Rhye, he is Rack, and she's slung on his back
Ah, for fuck's sake--he shoulda just left her

So he sews up her cuts, swabs her wounds spic and span
Then she carries on drinking and brawling
Brings her in from the rain, gives her something for pain
Doesn't say much, but sure as shit's watching

"All right, tell me, my man, why do you give a damn?
What's so beautiful, brave, or alluring?
I'm a dirtbag and hag, and you might say my dad's
Every Tom, Dick, and Alan M. Turing."

He's so cool and composed, looking neat in his clothes
She's a bourbon and cigarette mess
But he smiles and he shrugs, and he toes at the rug
"Hey, we all need a hobby, I guess."

Now her eyes are dead gray, and her hair has gone gray
And her vision's sprayed red with his blood
Bastards blew out his brains, but his essence remains
Buried deep, fast asleep, locked in code

Now the grass it is gray, and the trees they are gray
She is jacked in and fucked up and frayed
She is circuit and wire and electrical fire
And the ferryman has to be paid

Down that dirty canal leading straight into hell
Down that river of dead, choked and swollen
Full of fish-nibbled eyes and those blue-marbled thighs
All the piss, trash, and flesh of the fallen

Dead soldiers, dead agents, punks, pirates, police
And the worm that she killed at age nine
Bounty hunters, mob bosses, no-fucking-great-losses
And that one goddamned kid that one time

Keep moving, keep searching, you street rat, you urchin
Through the Styrofoam, rust, dust, and plaster
Further up, further in, through the murk and the grim
As the air itself tastes of disaster

In the windshield cracks, in the pricks up her back
She is sensing some dark shadow walker
Not a cat, not a rat, not a buzzard or bat
Yeah, she's not a big talker, her stalker

Rhye-That-Was, not That-Is, sprints and grins, feints and twists
She's a shark in the murk sensing slaughter
Fatal furious cat in an alleyway spat
Barracuda in gunsmoke and water

There's that purposeful walk, there's that feral wolf trot
All that bone-sickle burnt-out derision
She is bitter and young, and she'll crush both your lungs
As she pistolwhips you to submission

But Rhye-That-Is-Rhye doesn't curl up and die
Though her foe packs a punch like blackjack
Rhye is chewing on glass, but that cocky dumbass
Get a thumb in her eye on the tarmac

Rack is hog-tied and sore, but he's just as before
Calm and quick-witted, cool and deadpanning
"Here's the kill switch, my girl, won't you give it a whirl
Load 'em up, bright as brass in your cannon."

So she primes up her guns, and she hands him off one
"Rack, I'm trusting you, don't fuck me over."
Now her enemy's back with a pop and a smack
Then a splash, and they're seven feet under

It's a pond of pirhannas, it's Lucifer's sauna
And that bitch is a right bugaboo
And they're losing their vigor till they each pull a trigger
In tandem, like good partners do

Rack's body is dead, so he rides in Rhye's head
It's not first class, but hey--they're still flying
If his code's in her melon, well, hell--it's a fuckton
Lots better than quitting and dying

Do they come back alive, do they sink or survive
Plunged in cyberpunk's bleak purgatory?
Think I'll tell you? You're wrong; this ain't that kind of song
Go and read the original story
Writer Gal

It's a Ludic Kind of Love: On Games, Dates, Playtimes, and Poems

I'll tell you something about my beloved, if you like.

First of all, he wrote this book. But that's not what this blog is about; he wrote that book WELL before we ever met, so I had nothing to do with it. (Although he did read it aloud to me, story by story, and that was very fine. I shall blog more on THAT, later. My short review is: "Wholly Irreverent Holy Beauty." Which requires some unpacking, I think. Story by story.)


This blog is about games.

Because if there's one thing Carlos Hernandez (AKA "Doctor Doctorpants, Professional Professor") is about, it's games. (Except he's about other things too, like all of us, "containing multitudes." Even his Twitter handle speaks to his tripartite vocation: @writeteachplay!) And since he writes and designs games, among all the other AMAZING STUFF he does, he likes to play them too.

Now, I... I am not a gamer. I have gamer friends. I have occasionally sat down (twice, actually) with buddies at a table (once at a coffee table, the other time, we all just sprawled on big fat embroidered cushions on the floor) to play an RPG. I used to play, like, "Clue" and "Yahtzee" as a kid. As an adult, I don't know. Do I still even remember the rules to "Go Fish"?

That said, the gentleman, he likes games.

And during his semester, he gets very busy. He wakes up between 1 AM and 4 AM to grade and plan class. He's editing pedagogical periodicals, he's fine-combing the ARCS of his forthcoming collection, he is sending me FABULOUS TEXTS. So. He does not get to play them very often.


So then I thought, "Why don't we have a little Sunday afternoon DATE, with some PIZZA, and I could learn a bit about GAMES, and he could play something FUN, and it'll sort of being like a kid again, when my brothers all played 'Frogger' on ATARI and'Donkey Kong' on some way-early-version of NINTENDO, and it was all super interesting??!!"

We'd intended that he play Fallout 4, because that's what EVERYONE and their MAMA is talkin' about on the Facebooks. But in the end, on GAME DATE DAY, we ended up playing two other games entirely.

We played "N++" and a thing called "Journey." The first deals with ninjas solving puzzles and getting blown up a lot. And the second is, just... Almost indescribable.

Indescribably beautiful. The strange serenity of isolation, unexpected friendships communicated solely through sound not words, the ebullience and joy of an infinite horizon, ruinous depths and impossible heights, and gods who bend down to show you your life as written on the wall.

I say "we" played because, even though I didn't actually PICK UP the controller, I was actively involved in WATCHING.


Watching is a TOTALLY plugged-in experience when one's beloved ninja-thief keeps getting BLOWN TO SMITHEREENS in puzzle mazes (N++), or is a gorgeous, genderless, childlike desert-spirit skidding along sand dunes and riding updrafts of air with a scarf billowing behind it in the wind, all illuminated in runes, and there are pretty colors and interesting music, and, and, and...

It utterly excites my brain. It makes me want to play. I was not ready that day; I'm shy of new things. But I've been thinking about playing ever since.

All of which to say, I had the most moving, sometimes terrifying, sometimes oddly peaceful, certainly captivating afternoon, all the while engaged in a medium I don't usually bother to give the time of day to.

I started thinking about things I've never had to think about! What makes a game different than a story? Different than film? What is happening in the brain when your own personal agency meets an alien atmosphere created by unknown collaborators; when you must abide by rules in a win/lose situation and you must learn those rules as you play; when you suspend disbelief and engage in pretend like you're a child again, but you problem-solve like an adult; when death is so ubiquitous and entertaining it loses all meaning; or when death becomes, through repetition, a luminous and transcendent mystery once again?

Gosh, it was cool.

Hernandez and I write poems and songs to each other when we have time. We try to make time as best we can in these busy days.

That week, I asked for poems about his game experience on our date day, and he sent me these.

I treasure them. He gave me permission to share them with you.

Actually, Vicariously
by Carlos Hernandez

I kept dying. I'd land
On a mine and explode and
My head would bounce off the black pixel walls
In entertaining ways: even in death, physics is fascinating. Or
I'd miss a jump and the height of the fall
Would cause the sticks of my body
To fly in six different directions,
Artistic blood blooming to emphasize the failure.
Ha ha ha, I said: dead again.
Once more, then; that goal isn't going
To reach itself. A running start,
X to jump, finesse the landing with
The joystick. Or not. Or dead again
And try again and so on.

I've learned not to take my death so hard. It's just feedback
From a world that is, by design,
Forgiving of fatality. Try again
And die again until I don't and learn
And move on to level two. But you:
Barefoot, dressed in morning light
And a diaphanous scarf that from the side of my eye
Were indistinguishable from one another,
Curled on the couch and watching with a cat's intensity
My leaps and launches and experimental
Forays into unanticipatable reactions with
Robot enemies and springboards and homing missiles and
That tracking laser that was
Particularly frustrating, particularly good
At killing me--Love, you love me,
And even in this life of two dimensions,
When failure simply means reset and
Take another try, you bit your Venus's mound
And clenched your whole body like a flexing bicep
And yelled when I died and died and
Only after remembered it was a game, so even
In this hypothetical space of play
Your love arrived and took too hard--thank you for taking too hard--
the hyperbolic suffering that's only there in games
to make winning that much sweeter.

By Carlos Hernandez

My voice is a flute.
I want to tell my friend
That our insectival pointed legs
Can surf the dunes, and
It is such joy to soar over the dunes,
But the breathy tones that I generate,
Though pentatonically incapable of dissonance,
Could mean anything.
I long to be understood; it is
So joyful to surf the dunes.

The gods wear robes of gold and white,
Mostly white. The masks they wear
Have beaks that never open.
They are so large. They radiate a casual terribleness
That is wholly belied by the way
The circles of their eyes blink to serene lines.
I summon a god--the same god as before?--and the god
Reveals a fresco of my past and of my future.
We stand for a moment in wordless audience
With one another before the vision
Vanishes and I move on to other altars
From which I may summon more gods.

I am alone mostly.
The landscape is mostly dunes
Convinced of their own featurelessness.
There are markers that may be graves.
My life began as a falling star;
Was is wise to leave the sky and come to this place
Where loneliness is a kind of reverence?

I have traveled through aqueous air,
Flown on the backs of carpet kites as playful
As fairies or hounds, been attacked by the terrible
Mechanical dragon with the red cyclopic eye that shines
A light that hunts me, seen the scarf that is my life,
That holds the words of power, shrink to almost
Nothing. Now, as I seek the mountain, snow. Deep, slow,
Enervating. The globe of life contracts around me.
My robe and I ice together.
I freeze to death like a cricket in winter.

Again a star!