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.

Spotlight: Helena Hann-Basquiat

pubslushbuttonBy now, everyone knows that Helena Hann-Basquiat is, by far, my favorite Dilettante. And it’s not just because I don’t know too many, either. I do, in fact, know quite a few, although they may not consider themselves as such (usually ‘raconteur’ is a word I hear tossed about, but whatever). But what makes Helena my favorite by far is her passion, her writing, and the creativity that pours out of every facet – and every identity – she owns. Because as we all know, Helena is a construct, just like the mistress of creepy, Jessica B. Bell, is a construct. The brilliance of that construct – and of the man behind it – astounds me every time Ken says, “Hey, get a load of this idea…”

So yes, favorite dilettante, and everyone knows it – but what I’m not certain of is whether or not everyone knows about Helena’s PubSlush Campaign, which went live on Monday.

What is PubSlush?

To use Helena’s own words, the PubSlush Campaign is a way for her to conduct her business and sell her writing direct to her readers and fans (like the Druid and myself) — like a musician selling CDs after the show, or like a street performer passing the hat after a performance.

It’s also the only way to get a signed/personalized copy of Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2. You’ll also have the opportunity to pick up deals with multiple books (signed and unsigned). There are all sorts of wonderful things to be had over there – so you should go. No, it’s okay, I’ll wait.

So, What’s this Dilettante been doing lately?

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

I think the better question is what hasn’t she been doing lately! Seriously, the Dilettante Machine is prolific in the extreme and I love it.

In the last two years, Helena has written and released Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 1, written the sinister bayou serial, CHUK, and developed the short story collection, VISCERA, which will be available for purchase later in 2015. She also tried her hand at NaNoWriMo this November, completing the first book in the People of the Manatii Trilogy. Then there is much-anticipated Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2 and the Shakespearean-styled play, Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. Add to that the variety of creative endeavors she’s treated us to on her blog, Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante, and you have a body of work that is inspiring, to say the least.

Added Fun – More ways to get involved:

The #WhereIsHelena postcard hashtage social media extravaganza! Read more about it here. So long as those postcards keep moving, being Tweeted, etc., Helena will keep handing out prizes – maybe even an e-book of Memoirs, Vol. 2 or Penelope, if you’re lucky!

Bio of a Dilletante

helena-h-bThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she then bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming.

She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn’t think that the general populace or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them.

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

Earlier this 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 or and Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

Unmasked: A love letter to our favorite Dilettante

This is one of my favorite images of the Dilletante.

This is one of my favorite images of the Dilettante.

There’s a rumor going round that our dearest Dilettante, Helena Hann-Basquiat (not to mention her hair-raising alter ego, Jessica B. Bell) has been unmasked. And well, I think the title of the – ah – revelatory post says it all. Helena is the Goddamn Batman. She doesn’t need to be unmasked.

The name and gender of my writerly-friend matters not at all. There is brilliance that flows from that pen, whether it’s styled as Helena’s frank prose, which is at turns, hysterical and heartbreaking , Jessica’s creepy mastery, or Ken’s bitingly-aware vignettes of human nature. That said, I support Ken’s decision – I support Ken and his writing, because I believe in it. I read his words – even the ones I’m supposed to be editing (ha ha, who’s the lucky chick with her hands on CHUK?!) – and I stand in awe of his talent.

Allow me, for those who may doubt, to defend Ken and his decision – either to unmask himself or to write as Helena – before moving on to why it doesn’t matter. If the name and gender is more important than the writing, well, then you’ve come to the wrong place.  A and D are not always myself and the druid – sometimes the voices fail me, and I fall back on snippets of conversation I’ve heard, or the voice of those within my sphere. I’m a writer. So is Helena. It’s what we do!

Not convinced? One of my favorite authors – Barbara Michaels/Elisabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz – has been writing as three different people since the 60s, probably earlier. It’s just, as Helena says in her post, the weird manufactured intimacy of the internet, in which we expect people to bare their souls to those of us who are interested, makes shifting personas to meet a literary need questionable.  We’re just so damn accessible – and I’m a willing participant in forcing that accessibility (case in point, this Twitter post from last night, attempting to entice Richard Armitage to narrate Changelings…. still waiting, Mr. Armitage).

The fact remains: regardless of this amorphous concept of identity, we as readers have lived Ken’s world – in bits and pieces, in snatches of brilliance and outright terror. We’ve been there every step of the way, and who or what our favorite dilettante is matters less than the journey we’ve taken. I know many who will agree with me: It’s a great journey.

That talent that I crow about can take us from laughter to tears in the space of a few sentences – or to a shocked, but amused, gasp if he’s feeling wicked. A year ago, when I was happily promoting the Kickstarter for Memoirs of a Dilettante Vol. 1, I wrote the following:

Through her words, I see her world. Penny is as familiar to me as people I’ve known my entire life, because that’s how Helena invites you into her world. Some of the things you’ll witness there are raw. Some of them are painfully but beautifully honest and still others are downright silly and fantastic. And all of it will keep you captivated. Every last second. You’ll devour her words and in turn, they will devour you, spit you out and leave you satisfied they did.

Ken does a remarkable thing, which is to create intimacy where there could easily be none. The face and the name don’t matter because the writing connects us to a wider range of human experience – connects us to a raw, captivating nerve, which transcends identity because it has the ability to speak to all of us.

I decided two years ago the mastermind behind “Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante” and I were going to be friends. And my nerdy persistence paid off – even though I’m not the greatest friend out there. Nevertheless, Ken, in turn, has persevered, and trusted me with the information of who-he-really-is, and that is a gift I cherish from the bottom of my crusty heart to the ends of my tippy-toes. Furthermore, Ken has trusted all of us with this information. Treasure it. Hold this writer close to your heart and let him weave his magic over you. Because that, more than names, more than genders, is who he truly is, and that is what we’ve been privy to this whole time.

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

Now, Ken has a PubSlush campaign going live in 5 short days. If you’re new here and want to know what all the hubbub is about, check it out. Better yet, head over to “Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante” and read to your heart’s content. You will not be sorry you did. I know I never have been.

~ A and D – otherwise known as Katie Sullivan

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? 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 . . .