Spotlight: Helena, the Memoirs & PubSlush, Oh My!

pubslushbuttonWhen we discussed the idea of Helena featuring some of her incredible work from the upcoming Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2 on the D/A Dialogues, I had no idea which piece she’d choose.

I knew they’d all be great – because, frankly, all of them are – but I can tell you right now, the one she chose is perfect.

I mean, perfect. A perfect read. Perfect for this blog, and perfect for me, your faithful author-who-talks-to-a-Druid-in-her-head (because before the Druid, there was Dorothy). So, without further ado, I present to you . . .

The Great and Terrible Countess of Oz

“It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” exclaimed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, which is, in this instance, a county in Kansas by way of Oz. It wouldn’t be the last Oz reference made this weekend. The sky swelled black like a bruise, and the wind howled and threw things around in a poltergeist tantrum.

The cat-like but never cowardly Countess and I had driven through it, swerving to avoid minor debris like small tree branches, and once, a stray shopping cart blowing across the road. I kept my white-knuckled hands tight on the wheel, while Penny twisted and turned in the passenger seat, looking this way and that to see where the storm was coming from; where it was going. We drove right through the middle of it and came out the other side, like we’d gone through a car wash. The rain beat and battered us but did not best us.

When we made it safely home, I made sure to park far away from any trees, and when I saw the debris the next morning, I knew I’d made the right decision. We got out of the car and ran to our door, both of us getting soaked to the bone just crossing the street, and then locked ourselves in for the night, lighting candles and huddling on the floor in the living room, just watching our big bay window in terror as shingles blew off our roof and tree branches broke and fell.

The next morning, we woke up sans power, which means sans air conditioning, and neither Penelope nor I woke up with the cheery disposition of a member of the Lullaby League. I told Penny I was heading out, and asked if she wanted anything. She buried her head in her pillow and told me to go away and come back tomorrow.

“Why don’t you get your lazy butt out of bed and come with me?” I suggested.

“Pay no attention to the girl beneath the blanket! I am the great and powerful…”

“Okay, get up,” I said, pulling the blanket off of her. “If you’ve got the energy for snark, you can come to the store with me.”

“Oh, have a heart, Helena! Can’t you see the circles under my eyes? I didn’t sleep all night!” And then she gave me the most pa-thetic, pitiable look – which she knows full well I am helpless against.

“You know, I shouldn’t let your puppy dog face get to me! I should be on my mettle, and yet, I’m torn apart. Okay, darling, you win. What do you want me to bring you?”

“Bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West!” She demanded weakly, still trying to sleep, before the humidity began to rise again, making sleep impossible. “Oh, and coffee. For the love of Oz, the great and terrible, bring me some coffee. I don’t care how many curly toed Munchkins you have to kill, fa la la la la, blah blah blah, just bring me some coffee.”

“Uh, bring me some coffee… what?”

“Now, bitches!” The Countess demanded mock-indignantly.

“That’s more like it,” I replied.

I went out to try to acquire coffee for the Countess and myself (as no one wants to live with an under-caffeinated Countess, dar-lings) and was confronted with debris the likes of which I’ve never seen. Tree branches had broken and fallen all over the place, and entire streets had been blocked off with yellow police tape. I had to navigate around a labyrinth of newly altered landscape, taking twists and turns, and more than once running into a dead end and having to turn around. There was one rather straw-headed guy trying to direct traffic, but when I asked him which way to go, it became rather clear that he didn’t know any more than anyone else.

“This way seems to be clear,” he said, pointing left, but before I could drive away, he pointed right and added, “but then I haven’t seen too much debris down this way, either.”

“Then again, people do go both ways,” I replied, and was given a confused look by the accidental scarecrow, who just waved me on, unappreciative of my witticisms.

As of this memoir missive, we are still without Internet (oh boo hoo, what a tragedy – do you want us to start an emergency fund, Helena?) and while your sarcasm is always appreciated, there is no need to be concerned for your favourite dilettante and her aristocratic accomplice – we are just fine, thank you very much.

Oh, but anyway, darlings, we’re home – home! And these are my memoirs – and you’re all here – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And… oh, darlings, there’s no place like home!

———–

If you want to read more, BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

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Twelve Drummers Drumming

On the twelfth day of NaNo, my true muse gave to me

Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven snowflakes snowing,

Ten random factoids,

Nine trains a-chugging,

Eight ways of souping,

Seven shows a-sassing,

Six books a-writing,

Five Syllables!

Four pumpkin cakes

Three cough drops

Two cuddly cats

And a family that’s dear to me.

***

I should have known better than to use 12 Days of Christmas as my Non-NaNo anthem – I always get lost around day eight. I suppose it doesn’t help that I also get lost crossing the street – so the two together obviously means I failed to find my way to the computer/blog.

D: But you still managed to haunt Facebook all weekend.

A: Facebook doesn’t require a great deal of thought – just photos, some pithy sayings and cyberstalking – I mean enjoying some of my favorite—

D: Don’t say it. Can we please have a post without Dwarven #majesty?

A: No. The majesty cannot be contained. It must be allowed to flow.

D: You are so strange sometimes.

A: Thank you.

D: So what’s this about souping? Is that even a word?

A: No, but it fit the syllable requirement. Thanks to a week-plus of nothing but soup, the boy went on a diatribe that sounded remarkably similar to Cohen the Barbarian’s lament in Color of Magic

(particularly at 0:58 onward)

D: I see. So the whole household is crazy then, yes?

A: Perhaps.

D: Good to know. And the nine trains?

A: TrainFest. Had to work. Train Guys are pretty cool.

D: And the 10 random factoids?

A: What I call research others may view as procrastination.

D: I see – still having a hard time getting inside Jenny Mallory’s head?

A: Something like that.

D: Just write the bloody thing, A.

A: (Sigh). Yeah. Moving on . . .

YELLOW FLOWERD: Eleven snowflakes snowing?

A: That’s rather self-explanatory, isn’t it? It snowed, D. On November 11 and at roughly 11:11, it started to snow. I’m going to find out who made that wish and—

D: Careful A, you still haven’t quite gotten your strength back. You may just end up giving whoever it was a hug and that just gives out mixed signals.

A: True.

D: And finally, the twelve drummers?

The boy puts together the snare drum from his early Christmas gift . . . only 4 pieces left and a stool . . .

The boy puts together the snare drum from his early Christmas gift . . . only 4 pieces left and a stool . . .

A: Well, it’s more like one awesome kid, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to make enough noise with his very early Christmas gift to sound like 12 drummers.

D: Ah, he can beat the war drum for me any day.

A: Actually, it’s for Jazz Band, but I’ll let him know.

D: You do that, A. So, is this it?

A: It is. The 12 Days of Non-NaNo are over.

D: And what have you learned?

A: That if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard—

D: I mean from blogging A – not from your journey to the Wonderful Land of Oz.

A: Oh. Well then, how about being able to blog about things other than my writing and my topsy-turvy character-rich inner-world.

D: You’re talking about me in that last bit, right?

A: Yes, D.

D: You aren’t planning on eradicating that part, right?

A: (Eye-roll) No, D.

D: Good. Just so we are both clear on that. You couldn’t live without me, anyway.

A: What are you going to do when your books are finally done and out there for the public to enjoy?
D: Well, I was thinking you should retire to someplace warm. I have these aches in my elbows – I’m thinking it’s from the sword – and really, I could do without the early arrival of winter, you know?

A: You are not retiring in my head.

D: Oh, come on, A! You’d miss me if I were gone.

A: . . .

D: You would. Just think about it, A.

A: And the final thing that I learned during my 12 days of Non-NaNo? D is as irrepressible as ever, and never ceases to surprise me. Hope all the NaNos out there are doing well as they approach the mid-way point, and that everyone else is having their own grand time! ‘Night all!

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7

 

Behind the Scenes at the Dainty China Country

A: For Day 2 of the Creative Writing Challenge

D: What have you called it, Fan-Farce?


A: I think it’s appropriate.


D: Well, perhaps not appropriate, but at least you’re not taking it seriously.


A: (Groan).

Double, double, toil and trouble

. . . Sean stood in the doorway, watching them, hating them. He didn’t want to care – their fight, their belief – he wanted it to mean nothing to him.

“You would hate them for their love of country?”

“Pardon?” Sean tried to turn around, but something in that deep voice forbade it.

“Your face, it speaks volumes. You don’t like them. You don’t even respect their fight. They are prepared to die and you despise them. Is there nothing in your life worth that sacrifice? You don’t have to help them, you don’t have to share their belief, but save your contempt for yourself.”

The voice faded and Sean spun, angry words on his lips. The voice and its owner were gone however, and there was no evidence that anyone had been in the hall. Sean swallowed, his words stuck in his throat. He thought back to Maureen, facing Mrs. Mallory and the leaders of the Irish Volunteers by herself.

She was probably having the time of her life, even if she was terrified.

The voice and its message slid from his memory. With one last glance at the men who would soon make history, Sean made his way back to the drawing room. . .

D: What was that, A? Who is chatting up Sean’s mind?

A: I’m not sure. It just sort of happened.

D: A, you may be taking this ‘inspired’ thing a little too far.

A: Perhaps. Are you sure that’s not you?

D: Uh, no. Now, I’m not usually the one to tell you this, but I think what we have is an attack of the darlings.

A: I know.

D: You know what you have to do, don’t you?

A: Find out who that is and thread it better through the story?

D: . . . You could . . .

A: Or I could beat my head against a wall and hope it doesn’t leave a mark.

D: Also an option.

A: I suppose I could just delete it, too.

D: Save it in that overstuffed outtakes file you have. At least until you figure out who it is. And in the meantime, A?

A: Yes?

D: Please figure out where all the home-staging points were for the leaders of the rebellion. If I see the (SOMEWHERE) tag one more time because you have no idea where they might have been, I’m going to take over your hands and start typing for you, too. Take a tip from TerribleMinds and Google Street View the location. There’s no shame in admitting that you’ve forgotten what the city looks like.

A: I have not! I just didn’t have time to put in the descriptions.

D: Right . . .

A: Fine, it’s a good point. Oh, and D?

D: Yes?

A: Who are you and what have you done with my Druid? You’re so . . . so . . . helpful!

D: It’s early yet, A. By the time you get to the breakdown of the rebellion tonight you’re going to be wishing for your fortress of solitude all over again.

A: Gee, can’t wait, D.

The Druid Tells the Tale

D: This is wild, and fantastic and good ol’ Liz would probably have had a fit. A and I love Michael Bradley – Time Traveler’s blog, and between the Conspiracy Theory that Queen Elizabeth I was really a man in drag and the pictures of an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park, we’re both hooked.

A: And Charles over at the Legends of Windemere has some excellent advice on how not to force the reader to suspend belief about your characters’ ability to take a hit: Don’t ‘Black Knight’ Your Characters (Yeah, A: take notes. Bugger off, D.).

D: She’s just so charming. I don’t know how I survived all 1300 years before being cast into the pit that is her mind. For those out there with manuscripts ready for submission (hint, hint, A . . . . ignoring you, D . . . ) Fight for your Write has found some publishers seeking manuscripts. Since not all of you can be wandering Druid/Bards with every hearth eager to hear the tale you tell, it’s a resource worth checking out!

A: I think he’s up to something – he’s being too nice. Anyway, check out The MisAdventures of Vanilla – there’s a new character in town and he gives me the willies: Stan: The Man Comes to Town.

Just click your heels three times

Dorothy Gale

Dorothy Gale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

D: Oh please, A, not a post about your obsession with that girl and her sparkly red shoes.

A: They’re really silver, but Ms. Garland did make the red ones iconic. I have a few pairs myself. Did you know, when I was little, I thought I was Dorothy?

D: I wondered why there was a little dog up here.

A: And I made my mother glitter a pair of my mary-janes.

D: That does not surprise me at all.

A: It really shouldn’t. There’s a reason I found a home at Kalmbach.

D: I thought it was because it was a publishing house.

A: Well, yeah, that’s what I tell people. But really, it’s the sparkle. It reaches down to us in customer service – they can hear it in our voices. (Unless you’re a train enthusiast, and then it’s the steam engines/diesels/something or another/insert your favorite here.)

D: So the show is going well, then.

A: Fan-sparkle-tastic.

D: I have no purpose here.

A: What, you don’t like a little razzle-dazzle? What do you call all those facial and arm adornments, the clasp on your cloak and the embroidery on that flashy tunic you wear while you tell the tale? Hm?

D: They don’t sparkle, A.

A: Same idea, D. If I recall, you seemed to like Niamh’s sparkle.

D: That’s magic, and it’s different. Are you insinuating–

A: It is not different: sparkle is the mortal way of having magic, D. You should know that. You need to go back to Druid School.

D: Druid School?

A: Druid School. Cheer up, D. Have a cookie.

The Druid Tells the Tale:

Razzle-Dazzle indeed. I pretend not to understand the crazy world A inhabits, but Amazon would really like to downgrade both your intelligence and your common sense. Read Green Embers’ opinion piece and visit the Legends of Windemere for a real-life example of this ridiculous practice.

A: And for a little more sparkle in your world, read Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquait, Dilettante. Her unique take on nursery rhymes were a particular delight!

(And, to tease D about Niamh’s sparkle, read on! A!! It wasn’t like that! Muah-hahahaha, payback is mine!)

. . . Colorful hangings, woven by Niamh’s mother, graced the walls. A few, Dubh noted, were newer. These were Niamh’s own, then.

“You’ve gotten better,” he remarked, pointing at one, its tones of rose, yellow and blue twisting a pattern that shifted as he watched. It trapped him in its weave, telling a story. Dubh tore his eyes from it. He didn’t have time for the tales it could tell.

“Sit, Dubh, please. Glowering at the tapestry will not help you find Sean and Maureen any faster.”

“So you know?”

“I know, and I’m not the only one. We felt it, your waking. It has been so long. We thought them all gone from your world, thought you were the last one. It was powerful, Dubh.”

He turned and regarded Niamh closely. Her golden hair was twisted in tight braids and within the intricate weave were glimmering stones. Bits of magic that looked like flowers, but sparkled as she moved, crowned the head that barely came to his chest. She was a woman grown, and she knew power.

“Then you know what happened? You know what I did . . .”

Living in interesting times

Interesting Blog Award

Interesting Blog Award

D: Confucius never said that.

A: Um . . . what?

D: That {pointing}. Your title – it’s not Chinese. It’s not old. And Confucius had nothing to do with it.

A: I didn’t—

D: In fact, he didn’t say half the malarkey you all like to heap on his head.

A: D? Calm down, D. First, malarkey?

D: You get flibbertigibbet, I get malarkey.

A: Oh, D, you do tempt me with tangents and random obscurities.

D: That’s not–

A: I know, D. We made up the curse – some ambassador thought it sounded neat and attributed it to an ancient Chinese philosopher. I know. And I get it: you and Confucius were buds way back when in your time-travelling days, and you take exception to the malarkey. But D, this has nothing to do with whether or not the curse was real or if Confucius said it.

D: It doesn’t?

A: Nope, it has to do with me.

D: You? (Snicker)

A: Don’t laugh too hard, D. To be honest, it’s related to this blog, which we technically share. We were nominated for an award.

D: I think I’m going to refrain from my normal diatribe on the lengths to which your society goes to make itself feel good.

A: Thank you, D. It is a first-world problem, and I’m happy to have it.

D: (Grumble, grumble) So, the award . . .

A: It’s called the Interesting Blog Award. I was nominated by the very lovely Kira at Writing Snapshots  and Wrestling Life. The rules are simple: First, thank the person who nominated you.

D&A: Thank you Kira!!

A: Then, list five random facts about yourself, nominate five other blogs, answer five questions and ask five questions of our own to our nominees.

D: Who gets to answer the questions and the random facts?

A: I think we both can.

D: All right, but then who gets to ask the questions?

A: (Eye roll) We’ll split them – I’ll even let you ask the most, if you promise to keep them fairly straightforward.

D: Are you insinuating—

A: I think we’ll begin. First, our random facts:

A: I gave up Diet Coke for my 32nd birthday, and we think the stock went down because of it.

D: My name means “Black Eyes” even though they’re actually bright blue.

A: The finale of MI-5 made me cry. Fictional British spies made me sob for nearly 5 minutes. I fear for my sanity.

D: (Now she fears for her sanity?!): I was born in 670 AD in what is now the area around Inverness.

A: My son has classier tastes in literature than I do. He loves Shakespeare and has a pet name for Charles Dickens (it’s “Chickens” by the way, and it makes me giggle every single time).

D: I have several tattoos. My favorite is the stylized snake that wraps around my sword arm, but I’m also fond of the raven on the left side of my face. It was never completed because I disappeared into a sidhe mound in Ireland during my training there. When I returned, there was no one to complete it – all those who remembered me had died a generation earlier.

A: I didn’t realize that Han Solo and Indiana Jones were the same man until I was 5. And I was in love with them both.

D: I had only one love of my life, but I lost her when I left to fight a war.

A: Before this foray into the interwebs, I had a website (waaaay back when) called “Letters to Conan O’Brien.” Instead of a restraining order, NBC sent me a contract that made me promise I wouldn’t put up nude pictures, and linked it to the old old old Conan/NBC site in the fan pages section. The site died when I moved to Ireland, but I live in hope that it’s floating around somewehere in the electronic ether.

D: I fought beside fabled kings, warriors and tacticians, including Cu Chulainn, Fionn mac Cumhaill, Brian Boru, William Wallace, and Arthur.

A: Our nominees (They are all awesome people – go visit!):

  1. The Accidental Cootchie Mama http://andrawatkins.com/about-andra-watkins/
  2. Readful Things Blog http://readfulthingsblog.com/about/
  3. The Baggage Handler http://thebaggagehandler.me/about/
  4. The Eye-Dancers http://eyedancers.wordpress.com/about/
  5. Written Words Never Die http://ericalagan.net/ericalagan/

A: Now for our answers:

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

A: I have five – Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Wizard of Oz and Braveheart. . . there are more but those are the ones I’ll watch indefinitely.

D: I’ll go with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Granted, it was also the last film I saw in person.

Who is your favorite author?

A: Depends on the genre, the day, my mood . . . today I’ll pick Frank Herbert, particularly the Pandora Sequence.

D: I always found the Venerable Bede to be amusing.

A: D, you do realize that Bede wasn’t trying to be funny, right?

D: Yes, A – and that’s why I laugh.

Who is your favorite character (can be from a book, movie, or tv)

A: Right now, Tuppence and Tommy Beresford (both the TV and book versions). They are so charming – I love them.

D: I’m tempted to say myself, but that may appear self-serving. I do rather enjoy William Wallace, however. Book, movie or real life, he had such a good way of rousing the troops. He was really quite useful…

A: D… enough.

White Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?

A: Dark! The darker the better!

D: I was always fond of the cocoa bean; I prefer it as prepared by the Aztec mystics, but dark chocolate is quite satisfactory.

If you could do one thing without any repercussions, what would it be?

A: I try to live life pretty close to my desires, but I can’t eat gluten, so. . . eating a Pizza Hut pizza, deep dish (I dream about this some nights – so sad) and second (one is just so hard!), taking the curb during a traffic jam and just leaving all the cars behind.

D: She’s crazy. I can’t compete with that.

A: Finally, our questions:

D: What is your favorite moment in history?

A: If you could eat one food item for the rest of your days, what would it be?

D: What is your fondest childhood memory?

A: If a mad man in a box whisked you away and said you could go anywhere and anytime in the universe, what would you choose?

D: If training, ability and money were not an issue, what would you like to be when you grow up?

A: And we’re done! Many thanks again to Kira for nominating The D/A Dialogues. It’s a giddy moment for us.

D: It looks like I rather overreacted at the beginning of this. It certainly did not go where I expected it to.

A: Well, D, you certainly made it interesting.

D: Nice.