Adventure with us to Jessica B. Bell’s Wayward Home for Lost Characters

adventureswithD-final (1)D: Well, look who’s alive.

A: Really? That’s all you have for me? Not-very-imaginative-snark?

D: Well, it looked like you were in a hurry and I know you want to keep these ‘adventure with us’ guest blog notifications to half a page.

A: . . .

D: OK, fine. It’s been a while. I’m rusty.

A: Don’t worry about it, D. We both are – and while we get our groove back, please head over to the newly-christened dilettante factory, home of the sometimes-twisted, creative brain of H.K. Abell, AKA Helena Hann-Basquiat. It was my honor to write the very first guest blog for the factory – a piece reviewing the upcoming book, Singularity, and exploring just what happens to the stories and characters we don’t write.

D: Should I take what happened to your maybe-possessed, digging-his-own-grave with no memory character as a warning, A?

A: You could . . .

D: But (crosses fingers) . . . ?

A: . . . you could, but then you might get cautious and a cautious Druid is a boring druid. Stay snarky D. You’re not going anywhere.

Revealed: Singularity

Singularity 6 x 9 coverThe time has come.

The time is now.

Singularity is the new novel from Helena Hann-Basquiat, with Sara Litchfield, Sandy Ramsey, Lizzi Rogers and Hannah Sears.

Singularity is the sequel to last year’s JESSICA — a metafictional look into Jessica’s possible pasts.

Singularity is coming August 1, 2015

Singularity is its own novel, and can be enjoyed all on its own, but if you haven’t read JESSICA, GO HERE to read the first chapter or GO HERE to purchase a copy in paperback or e-book.

 

 

 

Changelings on Tour: Helena Hann-Basquiat

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

The one, the only, Helena Hann-Basquiat – everyone’s favorite dilettante

On the 8th * day of the blog tour, Helena gave to me . . . friendship, and time and the very best she has to offer: a voice.

*Of course, the 8th day was yesterday, but a combination of factors, an uncooperative scheduler and a visit to the doctor included, prevented me from posting about it until just now!

Helena Hann-Basquiat is someone you want in your corner. I’ve written about her before, but it bears repeating. She is a steadfast friend, and a writer of uncommon talent. Words, images, terrors, heartbreak and joy pour forth from her pen in ways many writers – this one included – only wish they could master. Add to that her adoration of all things musical (well, all *good* things musical), and Helena is in a word, fantastic. She is the author of several books and short stories, including Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. One (buy it!). You can check out all of them on her Amazon author page.

I actually met Helena through Andra – a random comment on one of Andra’s posts led me to “Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat” and after reading for just a short time, I decided that this lady and I were going to be friends. I think I was just nuts enough (I do talk to a character in my head, after all) that she went along with it for kicks.

Two years later, Helena is one of my sounding boards, a beta reader for Changelings, and a truly dear friend to boot. I was honored when into my hands she put CHUK, the Bayou Bonhomme serial from her blog. It is my pleasure to help shape her creation for publication. It is my pleasure, too, to be a part of the wonderful collaborative world Helena has created through her site and writings. It’s eclectic, supportive and above all, quite talented.

But words don’t just fall forth from Helena. Oh no. There’s another writer, formerly locked up in Helena’s basement, named Jessica B. Bell, and it is from her pen some of the most horrifying pieces man’s imagination can be host to are given life. And I say that with all the love and admiration I can muster. Her stories are fantastic.

A deliciously creepy collaborative piece of meta-fiction, the book born from the collaboration of several bloggers and artists, JESSICA, can be purchased on Amazon, and if you do, there are 50 additional pages to what erupted across the internet. I just finished my copy, and believe me, those 50 pages take a wonderful story and make it so much more!

You can read more about Jessica on her new site, Who Is Jessica? but be sure to stick around Helena’s site to see what she cooks up – there’s the second volume of the Memoirs coming and her diary postings this week hint at an amazing trilogy, the People of the Manatii. So, stop over at Helena’s and tell her I said hi – and Helena, thank you so much for your support, your ear and above all, for being you!

Being the Memoirs…

Life: Postcards from California

Music: The Prettiest Songs I know

Terror: Fear in a Handful of Dust

Fiction: Stardust

Just a taste: JESSICA, Part One

Campfire Tales

Jessica Promo 6D: So, you weren’t wrong.
A: We were suspecting I was?
D: . . . I always suspect you’re wrong – at least the first time, A.
A: Gee, thanks,D.
D: You’re welcome. But in this case, I’m happy to report that you were absolutely correct in stating that something fantastic – something incredible, which would feed off the collaboration of others to create a living, breathing, horror-filled wonderment really would go live on Saturday.
A: Um . . . I’m not sure those are my words, exactly–
D: No, they’re not. They’re better, frankly, but the fact remains. Jessica B. Bell went live with her own online space today, and every “bleeder,” as she so charmingly says, needs to head over to that space and follow it.
A: Indeed – and while you’re there, check out the “From the Editor’s Desk” introduction to Jessica, from yours truly!

Who is Jessica B. Bell?

“It was easily the most frightening moment of my life,” I began. The glow of the fire danced on the faces of the other women huddled around it – not for warmth, exactly, but to better hear the stories.

It’s all we seem to do these days. If you ever see a fire in the woods, chances are we’ll be there. Wherever one or two are gathered, you’ll find us. We love telling our own stories, but what we love even more is hearing the misery of others relived over and over again.

“The water kept rising, but I couldn’t move,” I continued. “Daddy told me I’d be safe in the storm cellar. I wanted to go with him, but he had to find my baby sister. It was my first tornado. We didn’t have them back home in New York, but Daddy’s company moved us out to Wichita, and…

View original post 700 more words

All Hallow’s Eve

I have to say, next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Having a Druid as a character in my head for over 13 years might have something to do with it, but honestly, I’ve always loved this holiday. I dress up every year – in some small way. Lately, I’ve been the Wicked Witch of the East before the house dropped on her. Because sparkly red (or silver – depends on if I’m channelling the book or the movie) shoes are one of the happiest things on earth.

This year, because it’s a Friday, and we have leave to wear jeans (I NEVER give up the opportunity to wear jeans at work), I’m going as a lumberjack.

Because it’s cold.

And because I’ve had this song in my head for days:

Right. So. Halloween. (I swear to the gods, D is groaning in the far corners of my brain. Like painfully. Sometimes torture is fun). Once the sugar-high has subsided, The Boy and I will be capping our month-long scary/Halloween movie extravaganza with the film that inspired it: The Shining. I’ve seen it once, and it’s a slow, creepy burn that still gives me the shudders, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he reacts. This marathon of sorts has been an eye-opener into how the kid’s brain works, and how he perceives things. It’s been amazing.

Jessica Promo 2And second on my Halloween to-dos, did you know there is this fabulously creepy and just plain wonderful serial going on over at casa de Basquiat? You need to check it out, because it is just the best compilation of writing I’ve read in a long time.

JESSICA: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven

Part Eight is going live today. If you do anything today, check it out. I mean it. And go follow Jessica B. Bell on Twitter, because there is something amazing going down on Saturday, and something tells me you’re going to want to be in on it from the start.

And finally, the reason I started this post in the first place – no, not to bombard you with my crowdfunding campaign (although if you haven’t pre-ordered Changelings, please feel free to click the link and do so now!), I had intended to write up a (softly) scary story for Halloween, but then the proofs for Changelings came in and – horror-of-horrors – I found even more typos (it just never ends), so that has been consuming my life for the last several days. Instead of making myself crazy (D: crazier), I decided to repost a story I wrote for a prompt at the Community Storyboard two summers ago. Headless is one of my favorite pieces of writing, and I hope you enjoy it, too.

* * *

Headless

I can't help it. I love those glasses.

I can’t help it. I love those glasses.

Izzie Crane was just this side of miserable. Tarrytown was a sleepy little place. She’d wanted some peace and quiet after divorcing Bob, sure, but this was ridiculous.

Oh well. Her contract at the school was only for a year, and there was no reason to expect that it would be renewed. As much as she disliked the town, so too did the town dislike her.

Well, maybe not all of them. Kat Van Tassel was good fun to hang around with – and the tales that woman could spin! If the upright matrons of this town only knew what their darling really thought of them. . .

She and Kat met for coffee every Thursday. Kat would give her the latest town gossip and a history lesson on the town that beat anything in Izzie’s textbooks. Sometimes Kat regaled her with recent history – dirt on the parents who seemed to live to make Izzie’s day a nightmare. Other times, the stories Kat told were practically ancient.

The Revolutionary War featured heavily in this area of the state and the way Kat told it, nearly every man who fell in that war had taken up residence in a forested hollow just outside Tarrytown. Izzie loved that spot, and she felt lucky that her small rented cottage was on the other side of it. Besides, the old covered bridge seemed like a lovely place for a romantic stroll, and she told Kat so.

“Sure, you say that now,” Kat laughed. “But just imagine walking home – after midnight, of course – and being stuck in that covered bridge, hemmed in by the restless dead. I haven’t even told you about the Headless Horseman, yet.”

Izzie rolled her eyes. “Kat, everyone has heard of the Headless Horseman. Wasn’t he some Hessian soldier who lost his head to a cannon ball?” She lowered her voice until it was just a whisper. “He roams the night looking for his head and woe to those who stand in his way!”

Kat laughed. “You tell a good story there, Ms. Crane, but I wouldn’t scoff at the undead. The Hessian still hasn’t found his head, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one he fancied.”

Izzie grinned. Kat wasn’t going to give it up, but was part of her charm. It certainly made for entertaining company every Thursday. And, her stories helped Izzie get into the spirit of the holidays.

Halloween was just around the corner. Kat and her boyfriend, Brom, were throwing a costume party, and in an effort to help the town accept Ms. Crane, Izzie was the guest of honor. It was Kat’s idea, of course. Brom had all-but spearheaded the effort to make Izzie’s year of teaching a misery. But, he was devoted to Kat, so when he answered the door to Izzie’s cloaked form, he plastered a smile on his face and let her in.

Scary-Jack-o-LanternShe hefted the grimacing pumpkin in her hands and thanked him. He waved her off to the kitchen, where Kat was putting appetizers on a tray.

“Izzie – what are you wearing?”

“I found the horseman’s head,” Izzie said through the cloak she’d rigged to cover her head. She lifted the lid off the pumpkin and pulled out the bottle of wine she’d stored there. “For my hostess.”

Kat shook her head and grinned. “So much for me trying to show you off tonight, Izzie. No one can see you.”

“But think of it this way, Kat – maybe they’ll consider it an honor. Besides, I’m not looking for dates, just a good time.”

“Well, then we’ll have it. Come on, I think I heard the doorbell. Let’s relieve Brom on door duty. I think you should greet the guests.”

Several hours – and glasses of wine – later, the guests were starting to leave. Izzie had delighted Kat by participating in their ghostly tales and revelry. The only one who didn’t seem impressed was Brom, who was now glowering at her from the bar.

Izzie couldn’t decide if he was jealous of her friendship with Kat, or if he was just a bad-tempered grump who disliked outsiders. Regardless, she paid him no mind as she bid her hostess goodbye.

“Be careful, Izzie. Are you sure you won’t let me drive you home?”

“You have had far too many glasses for me to even consider letting you drive me home. Besides, I have the pumpkin. He’ll scare off any ghouls – human or otherwise.”

Kat giggled and waved her off.

The night was cool but Izzie was comfortable in her cloak. The pumpkin was starting to get heavy in her arms, but she wanted it for her cottage. Besides, it was a talisman of sorts, and as the bridge neared, she irrationally felt it might protect her. It was after midnight.

She was happily recounting the night in her head and didn’t hear the sound of hooves on the pavement until a waft of heated air lifted the hem of her cloak. Dead leaves swirled at her ankles.

Izzie turned and nearly dropped the pumpkin. The black horse snorted inches from her face. She slowly, reluctantly, allowed her eyes to travel up the horse’s snout to its rider. He was caped, like she, and headless, too. However, the rider was not holding himself still with terror, like she. The tilt of his shoulders seemed confused. He appeared to be regarding her, wondering.

Izzie lifted up the pumpkin.

“A head for you?” she asked. Her voice quavered.

The rider urged his horse forward a few steps. He leaned down. The stench of brimstone made Izzie wrinkle her nose. She closed her eyes tight. She couldn’t outrun a horse, certainly not one with a rider such as this.

The horseman lifted the pumpkin from her hands. She opened her eyes, surprised, and peered out of the gap in her cloak. She watched with fascinated horror as he settled the jack o’lantern on his headless neck and roll his shoulders, as if adjusting the fit. She nearly fainted when the pumpkin-head turned and looked down at her.

“My thanks. It will do for tonight. May I give you a ride home?”

Izzie stared at the hand reaching down, offering to help her onto the horse. She wondered what he would do if she refused. Hell, what would he do if she agreed? She did notice though, that the smell of sulfur was beginning to wane. And his manner had been nice enough. Maybe all the horseman needed was a head . . .

She took his hand. Hadn’t she been complaining to Kat just the other day that nothing exciting happened in Tarrytown?

“So, do you like ghost stories, Ms. Crane?”

Who is Jessica B. Bell? Find out, if you dare…

Jessica Promo 6Who is Jessica? It’s the collaborative story taking the interwebs by its creepy storm. It’s a hashtag – heck, it’s a Twitter handle, and soon, it will also be a website.

Check out the ongoing serial over at Helena Hann-Basquiat’s internet abode. There are four parts so far for your reading enjoyment – but be warned: you’ll want to start at the beginning to fully appreciate the abyss you’ll be staring into in order to understand the question: who is Jessica B. Bell?

JESSICA: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

And, while you’re over at Helena’s, check out her exciting news on that upcoming website . . .