Black Friday: Festival of Leaving by Brenda Cooper

Brenda Cooper

BlackFriday.2012Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Brenda Cooper’s CHARACTER from The Creative Fire.

Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots and avoiding the dangerous peacekeeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship The Creative Fire. Her best friend has been raped and killed, the ship is falling apart around her, and no one she knows has any real information about what’s happening to them. The social structure on board Creative Fire is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom, but she dreams of freedom and equality.

Everything changes when a ship-wide accident reveals secrets she and her friends had only imagined. Now, she has to fight for her freedom and the freedom of everyone she loves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and much more knowledgeable than Ruby. Her weapons are a fabulous voice, a quick mind, a deep stubbornness, and a passion for freedom. And complicating it all—an unreliable A.I. and an enigmatic man she met – and kissed – exactly once—and one of them may hold the key to her success. If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future, and nothing will ever change.

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of The Creative Fire.

Festival of Leaving

BCooper-Creative FireRuby Martin lives in the outer hells of the Generation Ship, The Creative Fire. She is a robot-repair girl with greasy fingernails who has gutter smarts, anger, and ambition.

While the people of The Creative Fire don’t celebrate the traditional winter holidays of Earth (there is no winter inside a space ship), the do have festivals. Readers of The Creative Fire book will see the Festival of Changes. This seems like a great opportunity to provide a glimpse into the Festival of Leaving, which includes an exchange of hand-made or other small gifts. In this scene, Ruby is younger than she is in the book, and this sets up a bit of backstory for readers.

Common was even more crowded that Ruby expected. The sheer number of people crowding the barter tables daunted her, but the Festival of Leaving started tomorrow. She would be expected to trade gifts with the people she loved the most. Ruby had obtained a necklace for her mother and made a clever toy robot for her littlest brother. She’d managed to sew a new shirt for her big brother out of scraps. It hadn’t come out quite right, but she only cared a little since it was Macky. But now she needed the requisite gift for someone outside of her family, the symbol of new family that encompassed everyone inside the metal hull of The Creative Fire. There was no question who she’d choose, but there was a question of resources. The necklace for her mother had taken all of her own trade goods – three more of the small robots made from broken parts that weren’t needed in the recycle bins.

A tap on her arm made her turn to find the target of her gift right behind her. Nona clutched a blanket to her, the edges only a partly frayed. “Hi Nona,” Ruby said. “Is that for your mom?”

Nona nodded, and looked a little bit shy. “I have more shopping to do. I’ll put this away. Will you be here when I get back?”

Ruby eyed the blanket. It was a pretty good find, better than Ruby could have figured out how to get. Ruby had the sinking feeling all over again that her best friend was doing things she shouldn’t. Like letting their oppressor’s kiss her, or worse. Maybe Ruby could ask Nona when she got back. But in the meantime, she needed to finish her own shopping. “Of course I’ll be here.”

“Good.” Nona smiled and turned away, and Ruby pushed back into the crowd. She table-surfed, feeling a little desperate now since Nona would be back and looking for her soon. There wouldn’t be another chance. She searched the faces of the people offering goods, looking for someone who might relinquish something small in trade for a promise of future work.

A bright orange ribbon caught her eye. It would look great in Nona’s hair, and she had a few beads at home she could sew onto the ends. A tall woman presided over the table, talking about instruments with one of the pod’s singers.


Ruby knew her, but maybe not well enough. She’d heard her sing of course, and in fact Bari would surely sing tomorrow. Ruby ran the ribbon through her fingers. It was thick and strong and felt almost new. She looked at Bari, but the woman still hadn’t noticed her. She chanced an interruption. “Bari?”

The tall singer turned her way, and seemed slightly annoyed at the interruption.


“I…I’d like this ribbon. For a friend.” Before Bari could ask her, Ruby continued, “I don’t have anything to trade right now, but I’d be happy to come over and help you clean sometime. Or something.”

Bari pursed her lips and appeared to be thinking.


“I heard you can sing. Will you sing for it?”

Here? In the crowd? Ruby swallowed. She loved singing. She sang while she worked in her apprentice job, cleaning metal parts for robots. She sang when she ran in the park. But she had never sung for anyone else. She nodded, her tongue too thick in her mouth for an actual word to come out as an answer.

“You may pick your song.”

Ruby knew a lot of songs. Festival songs and lullabies and ballads, and even a few quiet protest songs. But all of the opening lines and notes seemed to have fled in that moment. All she could remember was a song she had written for Nona. She had no idea if it was any good. But she had to do something, so she started in.

In the dark of night I feel for a friend,
Need someone to tell my fears to

Her voice sounded shaky and way too soft. So soft Bari might not even be able to hear it. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, shutting out the other people standing nearby. The next two lines came out better.

In the dark of the silent space
Between stars I hear your voice
In the dark of my room I tell
You the secrets of my soul.

There were six more lines. When she finished them all, she opened her eyes. Sound had stopped right around them, and a few people watched at her. They looked like they approved. They smiled. Ruby blushed. She waited to see what Bari thought, clutching the ribbon so tightly she wrinkled the edge.

Bari smiled softly. “Will you promise me something else?”

Her song hadn’t been good enough. It had been too childish. “Yes.”

“Come by my studio the day after the festival, after you get off shift.”

“Okay.” To clean?

“I want to teach you how to sing that even better.”

Bari was giving her a gift right there. A gift that Ruby hadn’t even realized that she wanted. She folded the ribbon and tucked it into her pocket, then faded back into the crowd before Bari could change her mind. Maybe this was the best Festival of Leaving ever.


Meet Brenda Cooper!

Brenda Cooper has been delivering keynote addresses on the future for over a decade. She works with noted Seattle-area futurist Glen Hiemstra and sometimes posts at She is is also the author of four science fiction books, including the Endeavor award winner for 2008: The Silver Ship and the Sea, and the sequels, Reading the Wind and Wings of Creation. Her historical fantasy novel Mayan December was released in 2011. Her most recent novel, The Creative Fire, came out in November, 2012. By day, she is the City of Kirkland’s CIO, and at night and in early morning hours, she’s a futurist and writer.

Brenda CooperContact Info
Website: website
Blog: Blog
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Want to purchase Brenda’s novels?
Ruby’s Song

  1. The Creative Fire

Silver Ship

  1. The Silver Ship and the Sea
  2. Reading the Wind
  3. Wings of Creation

Mayan December

Please help spread the word: Tweet: Celebrate the madness with 32 authors while #giveaways ensue during #BlackFriday (Nov23-Dec24) #paranormal #fantasy

Contest Time!

Thank you Brenda for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!

Brenda is giving away a copy of The Creative Fire. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What type of gift would you make (and give) for the Festival of Leaving? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered. (US/CA only)

Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.

The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways

I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. I would make a quilt from old shirts and other material in a patchwork style…I could even transfer some photos to cloth and add those to some of the squares…lots of memories there and it can keep you warm at the same time

  2. I would make a small scrapbook of memories with small items to invoke memory and a smile :) Thank you for sharing with us!

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