Hello lovelies. Today I’m over at my other home, The Sisterwives. On Monday Briton, aka Punk Rock Papa, wrote a hilarious post about inappropriate humor. Today, it’s my turn. I’m not the funniest person in the room, never will be. But I’m a real good side kick. I can run with your jokes and play off of them and I can laugh until I’m wheezing like the Marlboro man.

Join me, will you? Come read all about my neurotic tendencies and my love for dark humor and my fear of cursing. It may offend you. If so, well… I’m sorry. Wait, no I’m not. Well, kind of. Oh, hell, just go read it. (I love you guys, srsly.)

I’m Offended That You’re Offended…. (warning: may offend)

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You know how you’re reading a book and the characters become real and you feel like you know them? And you get sucked into the story and time seems to stand still while you’re reading? And you find yourself choked up and holding back tears… and then your palms are sweating with nervous anticipation as your eyes scan each word hungrily? And you finish the book with a sigh. You’re on a little bit of a high. You’re spent, yet twitchy. Twitchy because you want more. 

Book hangover. 

That is what happened to me when I finished Order Of Seven by Beth Teliho. And the coolest part? I got to interview her…

 

Writer-ly Questions:

Do you have a writing routine? Do you have a way of getting into the “headspace” you need before sitting down to write? 

I don’t have a routine, but I probably need one. When I wrote Order of Seven, I wasn’t blogging or involved in any social media. Now? Writing is an entirely different animal. I have to force myself to stay away from Facebook, emails, and the blog until I’ve written for my second novel. This is so much harder than it sounds! So for now, my routine is constantly changing and evolving. Some days I fail miserably. Some days I rock out 2,500 words. Just depends.

What was the hardest part of writing the book? 

The sheer tenacity it takes to muscle through to the end. You crawl and scrape through self-doubt, distractions out the wazoo, and days when you lack inspiration. It takes mule-like stubbornness and enormous belief in your story to make it happen. And then you have to edit it. << IN.SANE.

Do you work with structure or outline? Or do you wing it and go with the flow then organize after the fact? 

I call myself a “burst writer”. I stew with an idea in my head for weeks or sometimes even months – I call this the percolation period – during which I scribble endless notes (in brand new notebooks because… office supplies) about characters, scenes, and details. I try to have the conflict and purpose worked out before writing, because without them you don’t have a story. Then BAM, I’m at the computer day and night until I have a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a hideous monstrosity at this point (the original draft of Oo7 was near double what it is now), but I have a story to whittle and shape.

Questions about the book, Order Of Seven:

What sparked your interest in the paranormal?

It’s always been fascinating to me. I’m the (weirdo) curled up on the couch on a Friday night watching Ancient Aliens, A Haunting, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Children, Long Island Medium, etc. I love those shows. I’ve always been a little offended I wasn’t born with a paranormal gift.  I feel like I should have one. Can you do anything about that, Gretchen?

*author’s note* Beth, if I had the power to grant paranormal gifts, I would totally hook you up. Telekinesis? E.S.P.? What’s your flavor? Also, Ghost Hunters! I love that show. 

How long was this story (or the idea of it) in your head before you started writing it?

Some of the characters from Oo7 were in my head for years before I began writing the novel. I still have a notebook from 2004 with the names Devi and Nodin scribbled in the margins. I didn’t write seriously until years (and two kids) later, but when I did, I began what was supposed to be a short story, but turned into what I’d started years earlier in that notebook. It amazes me to think how it’s come full circle.

This book feels very connected to nature and the spirituality of the natural world. What is the significance of nature to you and/or to this book.

EVERYTHING. It’s probably no surprise that this book is incredibly personal to me. Probably more so than any novel I’ll write in the future. I’ve been asked which character in Oo7 is me, and my answer is simply: all of them. I’m Devi, Joe, Nodin, Ben, Baron…these are all pieces of me, and woven through them and in the message of the book are my philosophies, doubts, fears, inspirations and hopes.

Questionable questions:

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?

Use all my available credit to book an impromptu trip to Mexico. I was waitressing and had zero savings, but I was in love. I married him so I got my money back eventually. haha

Do you ever write naked? (This is for our dear friend Lizzi)

Only while texting Lizzi. Otherwise I have a strict dress code of cowboy boots and a tutu.

Tattoos. Do you have one? Do you plan on getting one (or more)?

I have three and plan on getting several more. It’s been two decades since I’ve been inked, but it’s high time I get back under the needle. I’ve been waiting for the right time and the right inspiration.

What is it with guys and tattoos that is so hot?

I DON’T KNOW BUT I’M UNDER THEIR SPELL AND DON’T WANT TO LEAVE

***

About Order Of Seven:

Eighteen-year-old Devi Bennett is surrounded by mysteries: her unknown heritage, a recurring dream about an African tribal ceremony, an inexplicable attachment to a certain tree and a psychic ability she’ll never understand—unless she finds her biological parents.

Things take a shocking turn when she meets Baron, an intense and alluring energy healer who receives prophetic dreams which all seem connected to her. Devi must rely on an empath, a seer, and Baron to help research her roots to discover who she is and what she is capable of. But when Baron’s visions lead to an ancient legend which may link to her birthright, Devi learns her gift is more imperative than she thought imaginable.

Equal parts suspenseful and sexy, philosophical and adventurous, Order of Seven delivers a story that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the hands that carry fate.

 

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BETH TELIHO is a writer, artist and tree hugger who lives in Texas with her husband and two adventurous sons. Restless in the mundane, she writes about the abnormal, paranormal and otherwise fantastical because that’s what quickens her heartbeat. She laughs at inappropriate jokes, and prefers spicy food and margaritas to almost anything. One day, she hopes to live in a treehouse, where she can be an eccentric introvert with at least seven cats.

 

 

Amazon pre-order: http://www.amazon.com/ORDER-SEVEN-Beth-Teliho-ebook/dp/B00U2VX80Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425150180&sr=8-1&keywords=order+of+seven%2C+beth+teliho

Visit the author at her website: www.bethteliho.me

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/writerbisme

Twitterverse: @beth_teliho

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/bethteliho

Goodreads giveaway, running Feb 23 – March 23: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24994112-order-of-seven

Isn’t Beth the coolest person ever? Are you dying to read this book? Do you think she should show us a picture of her in the tutu and cowboy boots? Talk to me!

 

 

 

 

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I met him in our college Spanish class. After admiring him from afar for the better part of a year, we fell into a heated relationship. I was crazy about him.  Our relationship was tumultuous. Until it wasn’t. Eventually the passion was gone.

We were living together, making a home and making plans. Three years together and talk of a future, but I knew it wasn’t working.

I tried to save us. For well over a year I tried. He was pleasantly apathetic.

Eventually I was done.

He called. He wrote. He begged me to give him another chance. He promised to make changes. Things I had pleaded for, he now promised to deliver.

It didn’t matter.

I was done.

That’s how it works. You try. You fight. You fight for your relationship.

Until you’re exhausted and tired from all of the effort. Until you realize you’re the only one putting in the effort.

It’s that cold realization that is the nail in the coffin of a relationship. The loneliness that comes with the scratching and clawing for love… and looking around and realizing that no one else is getting their hands dirty. The harsh loneliness of sharing space with someone.

That was a long time ago. Just after that relationship ended, I fell in love with my husband. I was gun-shy and not looking for romance. I tried to talk my way out of it. I told him I had fears. I told him that I needed more than he could give. I couldn’t live a life of complacency.

I told him that I get bored easily.

He promised our life would never be boring.

I told him I need passion. I needed fire.

He promised a lifetime of passion.

I told him I needed someone who wouldn’t give up easily.

He promised me he would fight for me. For us.

That was over 18 years ago. Three houses, three kids, three dogs ago. A lifetime ago.

It hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Hard because we all have something, something that burdens us. Something that lives deep inside of us and comes out sideways. Hard because we’re all pretty messy inside. Hard because all of things that we all carry are forced to mingle with all of the messiness of this person you share a life with. And they bump up against each other and they feed each other and they confuse each other. And sometimes they hurt each other.

So what do you do with all of this?

You pick a fight.

You pick a fight with yourself. For yourself.

The fight you choose is the fight to become a better you. You trudge into the stagnant waters of long held pain and damage. You wade into the muck and you start cleaning it up. You fight through all the barriers and the defenses that we each cling to like a tattered blanket of comfort. You get dirty and you fight.

You fight through all of this because it’s the only fight you can really win. You can’t fight for him. It’s not about fixing him. If it was, there would be no break ups. There would be no divorce. The idea of fixing the person you love, of fighting his battles? That’s just a fantasy. His issues are his. They are borne of different things than yours. You can try to fix them but it will be fruitless. You can spin your wheels for a lifetime trying to fix someone else. Focusing on them and all of their stuff. This won’t get you far, I promise. It’s a twisted path to bitterness and disappointment.

But you can fight for you. You can work through all of your stuff. Recognize it. Deal with it. Learn from it. It may give you some peace and strength. It may stop the cycle of your stuff feeding his stuff and the chaos of emotions that tag along with that. It may give him enough room and space to see that something’s changed and that maybe, maybe he can start to work through his stuff too.

Regardless, you fight for you.

I picked this fight in recent years. It has been scary and hard and at times I’ve come close to giving up. But now I’m starting to see what comes after the fight. Some peace. Some healing. The burden of all of my stuff is much lighter and I feel more free. I am not so weighed down. I’m not as confused by my emotions. The other side of the fight with myself is a good place to be.

My husband has also picked his fight. He’s trekked into the depths of what burns deep inside of him. He’s never been one to be complacent or apathetic. Eighteen years and it’s never been boring. I’ve seen him refuse to give up and refuse to let me be the only one fighting.

I think back now, to that day years ago. The day I tearfully told the man I loved what I needed. What I thought was impossible for someone to give. The day I thought I should give up on love because my expectations were too high and unattainable.

He didn’t try to change my mind or my expectations.

He accepted the challenge and the needs of a naive young woman who thought she knew what she needed.

I never needed him to fight for us.

But he gave me things I didn’t know I needed. He did more than share space with me. He didn’t just sit and watch me fight my battles. He listened. He supported. He loved. And when I wanted to give up on my demons? He started fighting his. He showed me that vulnerability is the bravest place to be. He got his hands dirty with me. In fighting for himself he showed me just how much he loved me. The lengths he would go to to be better for us.

I didn’t need him to fight for us.

I needed him to wage his own fight.

I didn’t need him to fight for me.

I never needed him to fight for me.

I’m capable of doing that for myself.

I can fight my own battles.

“All your life you’ve never seen
woman, taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?” 

-Fleetwood Mac, Rhiannon

There are two things that get me so excited I can barely contain myself. Well, three, but this isn’t that kind of blog now is it? I’m talking about discovering new music and new books. Music and books are (almost) everything. Both can touch your soul, transport you, intoxicate you.

That’s why I’m so incredibly lucky to know Helena. Because Helena is words and music. She lives them, breathes them and (thank god) writes them.

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Yes, that Helena. Dilettante, author, music aficionado. Helena who introduced me to Jessica (who still haunts my darkest dreams), Helena who wrote the amazing Memoirs Of A Dilettante (which I gobbled up like a bag of white cheddar popcorn), Helena who is a virtual walking encyclopedia of music (good music that is- we’ve had wonderful Facebook chats where she’s introduced me to some kick ass music.)

Today Helena is announcing her forthcoming Memoirs Of A Dilettante, Volume Two.

Eeeekkk!!!  I know! It’s so damn exciting!

Coming Spring 2015.

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Cover art by the supremely talented writer/ artist/ poet Hastywords.

And to whet your appetite and hold you off ’til Spring, here’s a little somethin’ somethin’ about the book:

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two is the second collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia. 

Speaking of Arcadia, this volume delves into Helena’s childhood, as she revisits what she calls the Arcadia of the mind — that place that keeps us trapped and holds us back from our potential. Some of her most personal stories are included here, interspersed with hilarious stories of misadventure. It’s not a novel, really, and it’s not a memoir, by the strictest definition. But most of what follows, as they say, is true. Sort of. Almost. From a certain point of view.

Discover Helena’s tales for the first time or all over again, with new notes and annotations for the culturally impaired — or for those who just need to know what the hell was going through her mind at the time!

***

Helena is going to be running a crowdfunding/pre-order campaign at Pubslush, a community focused solely on indie writers, and has set up a profile there to launch Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two.

For more information, and to follow the progress, Become a Fan at http://HelenaHB.pubslush.com

And in case you’re not yet familiar with Ms. Helena… 

The 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 populous 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.

In 2014, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, several e-books which now make up Volume Two, as well as a multimedia collaborative piece of meta-fictional horror entitled JESSICA.

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One is available HERE in e-book for Kindle or HERE in paperback.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell.

Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or http://whoisjessica.com or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat.

Check it out, check her out (her blog, I mean) and let me know what you think! All praise and thanks may be left right here in Comments….

 

A little over a year ago I met Kelly of Are You Finished Yet. She was one of the first bloggers I started engaging with in my blogging infancy. She allowed me to sit at the “cool table” and made me feel included and not at all stupid or out of my league. Since then I’ve gotten to know Kelly much better. I’m a huge fan of her writing, but I’m an even bigger fan of her spirit which shines through her writing. But who knew that in addition to writing for her award-winning blog and raising her children that she was cooking up something else?

9780692311011.MAIN (1)That’s what. In all her ample spare time she’s been writing and illustrating a book! Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out how to change my blog header. Ahem, anyways, this book you guys. It’s awesome. It’s a story your kids will love. One you will love. And the pictures? I pause in the middle of reading it to my five year old just to study the pictures! There’s so much detail and character and life in these drawings.

So to celebrate this new it’s-awesome-and-should-be-on-your-kids’-shelves book, I got the opportunity to interview Kelly! It was almost like having a real life conversation with her, which is so cool. Especially since as I read her answers I was giggling and talking out loud. To myself. *evidence of my crazy will be in italics after Kelly’s answers*

Enjoy!

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Is “mayhem” a term used often in your family? Should we assume that come Friday the Suellentrop household is one big party?

Absolutely. In fact, weekends at our house is where I got the title for the book. My husband started referring to that time as Absolute Mayhem, because it meant we were all home and weren’t as dictated by a schedule. Mostly it meant he had more time to have fun with the kids. To this day, when he gets home from work on Fridays, he opens the door and says “Absoluuuuuute… ” and the kids yell, “MAYHEM!”    

*Aw, your husband sound like such a fun dad! I want to be at your house on a Friday sometime to yell out “Mayhem!” I’ll even do a cheer or a cartwheel or somethin’, ok?*

What sparked the idea for this book?

Like I said, it all came from this little tradition my husband started. Now to be clear, the mayhem at our house  isn’t quite what it is for Lulu and Milo. Like, my kids get to have soda and we have movie nights or something. But I loved the idea of how even mundane things can feel special when you are able to break out of the routine of the week. Everyone looks forward to the weekend for one reason or another. And I wanted to capture that little feeling of anticipation and magic we can feel in our everyday lives, while still honoring the hard work and responsibilities that make us appreciate the times we get to have fun.

*I LOVE movie night! And I get what you mean, everything is more fun on the weekends! Except for laundry.*

I love the illustrations! How did you hone your drawing skills? Did you have any formal art education?

Drawing has always been one of my creative outlets, even as a kid. I used to spend hours in my bedroom listening to music and drawing people out of my teen magazines. I took art all throughout high school and some in college. I wanted to minor in art, but as an English major, I had a hard time keeping up with all the time-intensive art projects on top of the copious amounts of reading I had to do. So you could say my formal art education ended there. But I have never really put down my drawing tools, and I have spent  a lot of time over the last few years studying the work of other children’s book illustrators, as well as playing around with my own characters until I came up with Lulu and Milo.

*I was an English major too! That is so rare in the blogging world, right?*

Where and when and how do you write?

I keep myself on a schedule with my blog, Are You Finished Yet. I post every Tuesday, so that forces me to keep writing even when life gets busy. Now that both of my kids are in school all day, it is much easier to find the time. I have come to treat it like you would any other job. I drop my kids off at school, come home, get some breakfast and tea, and go to my office. (My husband and kids converted our extra bedroom into an office/art studio for me this past Mother’s Day, and that really helped me get into the mindset that I am now writing for a living.) I spend most of the day there working on things related to the book and writing upcoming blog posts until it’s time to get the kids. But you know, even though I have time during the day, I do find that I often get most inspired late at night. Sometimes I stay up late and run with it, and sometimes I will simply jot down notes and tackle it the next day.

*Schedule? Hmm… interesting concept… And what is it about writing in the wee hours? Is it the quiet or just our creative time? Whatever it is I blame it for my puffy eyes and my morning disposition.*

What advice or words of wisdom do you have as a bonafide published author?

That just sounds weird. Because I always thought of authors as eccentric, super-smart people who pounded on typewriters in front of sun-filled windows and hung out at coffee shops with other eccentric, super-smart people. And now I’m an author. But I write in between loads of laundry, hang out in carpool lines, forget what I went in to the kitchen for, and have trains of thought interrupted  when I realize I need to run to Walmart for toilet paper and spaghetti sauce. I mean, like, I’m just a person. But maybe that’s the wisdom here. We’re all just people. Like, Oprah’s just a person. And that means if you’re a person you can become a bonafide published author… or Oprah.

Oh, and patience, hard work and faith are probably good things to have as well.

*Ooh! Ooh! I want to be Oprah! Can I be Oprah? That sounds like fun! Plus, she’s a bonafide published author too! See, two birds… wait… sorry. Forgot to turn on the dryer… damn you laundry!*

Do you have more mayhem brewing? Will we get to see more of Lulu and Milo in the future?

Well, I live with two sources of constant inspiration: my kids. I wrote Aboslute Mayhem with the intention of it being the first in a series of Lulu and Milo stories, and I have the beginnings of about three more manuscripts floating around at the moment. The question right now is, which will become book #2.

*As long as we get to see more of Hippo too. He’s my favorite.*

***

Isn’t Kelly awesome? I know you’ll love her book. So will your kids and nieces and nephews and cousins… And one of you will get to win one right here! Just leave a comment or question and I will randomly choose the winner! Easy! And if you don’t win? No worries! You can go here: http://www.amazon.com/Absolute-Mayhem-Kelly-Suellentrop/dp/0692311017/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1415717713&sr=8-2&keywords=absolute+mayhem

and here: http://kellysuellentrop.com/

So, speak to me people! Do you think we should all show up at Kelly’s house on Friday? What do you look forward to on the weekends? Are you dying to know who Hippo is?

 

Today I’m opening up my home (because this place is very much like my home) and inviting someone very special in. This is one of those guests you make a of fuss over. You break out the good wine and the best glasses. You light the candles and put on some funky new music because you really want to impress her. You play it cool while trying not to jump up and down and squeal. So in my best casual voice, I’ll invite you to join us. Sit down, pull your feet up and get cozy because our favorite Dilettante, Helena Hann-Basquiat is here. And she has a story that will entertain and delight you. It will leave you wanting more, which is good since the next chapter is only a few days away and will be appearing on Samara’s blog. This is the second chapter so if you haven’t read the first, you must go over to Lizzie’s place and read the beginning. Enjoy my sweet friends and be sure to comment and tell Helena how much you adored her story…

***

“Do you think he could be the one?” the Countess Penelope of Arcadia (which would appear to be a quiet little town where people frequently break into song) asked.

“What?” I laughed. I’d been hearing the name Spenser in association with pretty much everything for the entire week after my brief encounter with the bartender who had been nice enough to find me ruby red grapefruit juice so that I could have a proper greyhound. (I actually had three, darlings, and loosened up nicely).

“You know,” Penny said. “The one to break the curse so that you don’t have to remain a beast the rest of your days and I don’t have to be, um… hey Helena, if I were part of an enchanted castle, what kind of furniture do you think I’d be?”

“A toilet,” I said, rolling my eyes at her. “Now eat your pancakes, Lady Flushington, we’re going to be late for the train.”

“You know, I’m going to let that slide, Helena, because I love you so much,” Penny said, frowning.  “After all, it’s a castle, right, and as all of the humans have been enchanted, the only person who would need a toilet would be the beast – that’d be you, by the way – and so I’m sure you’d have your own toilet. I would be a toilet in one of the guest bathrooms that never get used anyway. So if you want to shit on me, you’ll have to find some other way.”

I resisted the urge to change the subject into the dangerous messages for girls in that movie, or to suggest that the whole thing is akin to Stockholm Syndrome, and should have starred Patty Hearst as Belle.

Instead, I changed tactics.

“You let him call you Penelope,” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t let him do anything,” she replied with an eye roll of her own.

“Yet,” I winked, and Penny had no words. She just gaped at me, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Finally she laughed at me.

“Whatever,” she said, and downed the rest of her coffee. “Let’s go.”

Penny knew already what I hadn’t even considered. Penny is far more attuned to what’s going on than I am – I quite frequently have my head up my ass, and not in a good way.

Is there a good way to have your head up your ass, Helena?

I think there is in France, darlings.

But as for me, I thought that Penny had fallen for the handsome bartender – the way she was going on about him, I’m sure you would have thought that, too.

So when Penny showed up with him that night, I was sure that my suspicions were confirmed.

Here’s where I confess to some of that bad behaviour I alluded to before, darlings. I don’t know whether I was jealous (and in retrospect, isn’t that a laugh and a half) or if I was just feeling maudlin and bitter, but rather than be my charming and entertaining self, I spent the evening complaining about men. In fact, I pulled out my stories, some of which you’ve already heard, as case studies as to why men cannot be trusted, why men are dogs, and why the only good thing about a man is between his legs, and how thanks to modern technology, I could buy one of those at the store.

I got caught up in heartbreak, self-absorbed and full of poison, and talked all about old boyfriends, but most especially Robert, who I’d left my home for and moved all the way to California to be with. I reminisced about a time we’d found ourselves drunk and naked on the private beach of some music producer in Malibu, and how we, as I so charmingly put it, re-enacted the zodiac symbol for Cancer in the moonlight, with the surf crashing on the beach behind us.

A hint for you, darlings – it looks very much like the number that can be expressed by the mathematical equation 70 – 1 = X.

Solve for X.

I got drunk, and railed about love. I was a complete and utter mess. I talked about wonderful things, and I talked about horrible things, and the underlying theme began to slowly come into focus, and that was:

“Why am I alone? What’s wrong with me?”

Spenser looked shell-shocked, but then he did something that made me feel both silly and at the same time a little better.

He shrugged, and then crossed his legs in the Lotus position, and lowered his hands, palms up, onto his knees.

“Om, llama llama llama,” he deadpanned, and I confess I broke out laughing, and then excused myself. I locked myself in my room and cried into my pillow. I was embarrassed and angry with myself. I felt like I’d just vomited all over Spenser, and as, at that point, I was still pretty sure Penny was interested in him, I felt terrible. If I ruined it for her, I’d never forgive myself.

When I re-emerged, Spenser had left, which was the plan all along, and Penny was waiting for me on the couch, watching Sherlock and no doubt fantasizing about her beloved Cummerbund Bandersnatch.

“Well, that could have gone better,” she said, and the fact that she hadn’t slipped into her trademark Dickensian street urchin voice told me that she was serious.

“I’m sorry, Penny, I don’t know what came over me,” I hung my head. “I hope I didn’t screw things up for the two of you.”

“The two of us?” Penny laughed. “Are you blind. Excuse me – are you fucking blind? It’s not me that he’s taken with. God, Helena, you really are rusty. You’re all he talks about – where’s Helena? When are you going to bring Helena back around? Take me to your Helena… and so on.”

“Oh, please,” I said, waving her away with the back of my hand.

“Oh, please yourself,” she snapped back, and then put a hand over her mouth. “Oh, wait, is that what you were doing in your bedroom all this time?”

“Not amused,” I said.

“That’s my line,” the Countess said, slipping gently into a posh, Windsor Castle-esque accent. “Cheerio. Tut tut. Yes. Quite. Off with her head.”

“He’s a child,” I said, not meaning to be cruel, but Penny nonetheless was not amused.

“We are not amused,” she said. See – I told you she wasn’t amused. “Besides, my good woman, he’s not a child. He’s actually…”

She mentioned an age that was almost, but not quite ten years younger than I. He was about mid-way between Penny and I, and to me, the logical choice would have been Penny. Penny’s pretty awesome, and don’t ever tell her I said so, but damn that girl is beautiful. Like, traffic stopping gorgeous. She doesn’t see it, and certainly, hers is an unconventional beauty (you may recall her black, sometimes pink, sometimes blue, sometimes green, sometimes orange hair, and her penchant for dressing like a gothic version of Alice in Wonderland) but for those with eyes to see, Penny is something to fantasize about.

“But what does he want with me?” I asked. At some point – perhaps it was earlier in the evening when I’d spilled all my messy past all over the floor – I seemed to have lost my self-esteem.

“Well, with the way he was looking at you, I’d say he wants…”

Penny mentioned a few things that I wouldn’t find objectionable, and a few I’d never heard of.

“Do people really do that?” I asked her, intrigued.

“Well, I may have made that last one up,” she admitted. “But doesn’t it kind of sound fun?”

“I’d be worried about getting toothpaste in sensitive areas,” I said.

“Yeah, but his breath would be minty fresh afterward.”

“You’ve given this quite a bit of thought, haven’t you?”

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t exactly have a boyfriend,” Penny explained.

“And I don’t know if I’m ready for one,” I said, giving Penny an awkward grin.

“And yet, you’re curious,” Penny said, brightening. “Admit it. You’re like that monkey that goes on an ether bender and bites the man in the yellow hat.”

“I don’t think George ever bit the Man in the Yellow Hat, Penny.”

“Well, not in the actual books, no. It was in one of the deleted scenes.”

“I see,” I indulged her. “Well, sure, I’m curious. Curious enough, I suppose.”

“Great,” she said. “Then tomorrow night, you and I will be going out. There’s this ‘80s cover band called Duckie’s Pompadour playing at a club downtown, and Spenser will be there.”

“Duckie’s Pompadour?” I laughed. “John Hughes is spinning in his grave.”

“Not at all,” Penny said. “You’ll love it. They play pretty much every song from Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, you name it.”

“Oh, but Penny – I made a fool of myself tonight,” I said, shaking my head. “Don’t you think I scared him off?”

Penny laughed. “I don’t think you get it – he’s positively enamoured with you. It’d take more than a little maudlin misandry to frighten him away. Just wait until he sees you in the midst of a depressive episode, or – hey, you want to get some Chinese food? Huh? Get that all-important MSG headache experience out of the way for the poor guy?”

“Gee thanks, Penny. I don’t know about this. I don’t know if I can face him again after tonight.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t know. You had no idea he was here to see you.”

“I don’t know,” I repeated.

“And you won’t know until you give it a chance,” she said, staring at me with her big brown eyes. “Please Helena? Say you’ll come.”

I didn’t want to, darlings. I tried to say no.

“I am disinclined to acquiesce…”

“Great, it’s settled!” Penny interrupted. “Tomorrow night at nine!”

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The 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 populous or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them. Some people attribute her with inventing the Ampersand, but she has never made that claim herself.

Earlier this year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and has finished Volume Two and is in the editing process.

Volume One is available HERE in e-book for Kindle or HERE in paperback.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat

-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr
-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr

 

“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same ole plot”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

Earlier this summer one of my favorite bloggers nominated me to participate on The Writing Process Blog Tour. My first thought was process? You mean there should be a process? My second thought was me? You want to know how and why and what I write? I find how others write fascinating so I was excited to be included.

Gene’O is the brilliant mind behind Just Gene’O and Sourcerer Blog and  contributor at Part Time Monster. If you check out his blog and cruise around a little you’ll see why I’m a fan. Probably one of  the most versatile bloggers, he writes about music and comics and does photoblogging as well. And when he finds a cause or injustice he needs to write about, watch out. Needless to say I was flattered that he asked me to participate.

Now on to the questions about my writing (gulp) process….

Why do I write what I do?

Quite simply, I write about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it’s lighthearted commentary or observations. Sometimes I write album reviews or profile songs I have “playing on repeat.” Literally. I get obsessed with new music. In college my roommates had to hide my new Phish cd from me. I occasionally write about my kids and parenting. Other times it’s about issues I’m passionate about. If someone says something really stupid and misogynistic I’ll probably write about it. Racism, feminism, poverty, injustice to marginalized people, these tend to be the things I feel the need to speak out about. I also enjoy the opportunity to exorcise some anger when writing about things that get me fired up. The thing I love about blogging is I make the rules and I can write about what I want when I want. Isn’t that we all love about it?

How does my writing process work?

Music.

The name of my blog is from “Across the Universe” (The Beatles). That song sums up everything I feel about writing, about life, about this blog.

I start every blog post with a lyric from a song. I do this for a few reasons. Music is my favorite medium. It has always been what inspires me. I don’t have any musical talent, but it’s been a part of my life since I can remember. At times a song lyric or song title inspires an idea for a blog post. Other times I finish a post and have to search for a lyric that seems representative or connected in some way to what I wrote. And I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the mood of a song dictates what type of writing I do. I try to just go with it and let it guide me.

Which brings me to the second part of my process. I try to write by instinct or inspiration. If I start writing and I don’t feel something I stop. My dashboard is full of unfinished posts. Some of them I’ve revisited after months of languishing and finished them with a new thought or direction. The seed may have been planted but not ready to produce until much later. Others may never see the light of day. I try not to sweat it.

I prefer to write on my laptop but have notebooks full of writings and scribblings and notes. I use these when I need to write on the go. Carpool line has seen some scratchings. Swim practice has become a surprisingly fruitful place for writing. The white noise of swimmers rhythmically moving in sync through the water is quite calming. If I’m desperate and am caught without my laptop or a notebook I’ll reluctantly type notes in my phone.

And the editing. Dear lord, the editing. And by editing I mean cutting. I tend to be long-winded. I have rarely written something that didn’t need at least 500 words shaved off. This has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from blogging. In every other aspect of life I live by “less is more”. Except for writing. And cheese. And wine. Anyways, editing takes me ridiculously long to accomplish. I’m hoping that as I enter my second year of blogging this part will come easier. (I mean, this whole paragraph was probably completely unnecessary but I’m leaving it in to make a point).

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

Unless you count random as a genre, I don’t know if I have one. And I’m not sure if what I do is any different from any other blogger who writes about issues and music and  any idea that pops in to their head. The difference is in simply that we all have different ways of processing the world around us. We all have different thoughts on any given subject. If I know I want to write about a particular subject I purposely avoid reading blogs or opinion pieces on that topic. I don’t want to be influenced and I don’t want to see that someone has already captured my thoughts. If I see someone expressing what I had intended to say, I’ll abandon the whole idea. I need to know that what I wrote came wholly from me and other than reading articles to gather information, I prefer to write in the dark so to speak. That being said, I am often inspired by what I read from other bloggers.

What Am I Working On At the Moment?

I would love to say I was working on a book. And I was a little, here and there, before I started this blog. It’s been years since I’ve written anything that would be read by another soul, so I have taken a break from working on the book while I hone my writing skills here. Writing for an audience and hitting publish definitely makes you critique and edit and learn. I hope to resume working on my book soon. I’m almost always thinking about it, playing out scenes and ideas in my mind. But right now, this blog is my focus. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to devote more time to it now that I don’t have a little one at home with me during the day.

So that’s it! A peek inside my lack of a process. Now I get to pass the tour on to three bloggers:

Lizzi of Considerings – Life in Silver Linings Lizzi is a generous soul who’s words will touch you. She doesn’t hold back and brings her heart along for the ride. She is one of my favorite bloggers and if you read her blog you’ll fall in love with her too.

Mandi of Cellulite Looks Better Tan Mandi writes with a voice that puts you there. You feel like you are walking along with her, living in her world. It’s an intangible thing and one of those things you wish you could learn but it’s probably innate. Funny, serious and everything in between.

Racheal of Rachealizations Lover of cheese and all things positive. Funny and contemplative and insightful. Check out her blog and see the hidden gems inside.

So get to it people! Share with us the secrets to your madness- I mean writing.