Category Archives: adventures

Being a krampus

This fantastic piece of headgear was crotcheted for me by Marieanne McAvoy. It was designed to cut down my peripheral vision, which may help me with not getting so stressed at events.

This is also part of an ongoing exploration for me around what makes me feel more comfortable. I’m definitely happier when what I’m wearing is outrageous. I don’t like presenting in sexualised ways, I don’t even like feeling as though I’m trying to be attractive or appealing any more. I like being a krampus. I’m going to be doing more exploring o a goblin aesthetic as well.


Voices from Hopeless

On the 22nd of January, there will be an online Hopeless Maine festival, which is an exciting prospect. I’ve already got some brilliant content in from people involved in the project, with more to come. One of the things I love about Hopeless is that it has always been a community thing and that’s very much part of what it’s for.

I had a number of reasons for wanting to do this. One is that everyone being online during the pandemic opened up a great many things for disabled people, and now those things are going away again, which isn’t ok. I wanted to offer something. I also know that in the UK January tends to be a miserable month with not much happening, unpredictable weather and post-festive crapness. So I thought it would be nice to do something fun where no-one has to travel.

The third reason is that it’s a good way to promote the Hopeless Maine project as a whole. This is a project that started life as a graphic novel series, but now also has prose books, poetry, a role play game, a tarot deck, songs and live performance and a film in the offing. This event is a chance for me to showcase all the people who have come in to make those various things happen.

You can find out more about Hopeless, Maine over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/

Join in with the online festival over here – https://fb.me/e/19hFkPKC1

Videos are also likely to show up on Youtube after the event and I’ll post about that once I have links.


Doing it for money

Living by creative work is a bit of a gamble, to say the least. Most of my working life I’ve had other jobs on the go as well – often also in publishing, because marketing and editing pay more reliably than writing does.

I spent this last year mostly working on my own stuff, when I wasn’t being horribly ill. Given the many rounds of being horribly ill, it’s as well I wasn’t trying to do much else! But, I gambled on a couple of things and it hasn’t worked out. This happens. Opportunities melt away, or turn out not to be as good as they looked. Currently the entire book industry is being sorely challenged by distribution issues, paper shortages and whatnot, especially in America. Royalty payments are down, because American book sales are really low right now.

What you earn as an author tends to depend on work you’ve done in previous years, and there’s often no knowing how long it will take for the work to lead to money. One of the advantages of self publishing is that you get the work out and sell it. Big publishers move slowly and can take years to make decisions. Graphic novels are slow to make, so the books we’re working on were first drafted ten years ago. With the series complete, that set of books will be more interesting to other publishers, and Sloth may be able to pitch it on – but who knows?

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel in six weeks because someone offered me something like a thousand pounds to do it, and that’s more money than I’d ever made from writing before that point. By the end of it, I had days where I was mostly just shaking and crying – multiple drafts of an 80k novel is a lot to do in six weeks and I didn’t sleep much. I didn’t do another one. I couldn’t have sustained it, although it turned out that my first husband thought I should have done.

I gambled and lost, this year. I lost money on an event where I really needed to come out ahead. Everything has been slower than I needed it to be. Releases are delayed. Various projects have been hit with problems and some things I’ve just had to rethink. Meanwhile energy costs, and food costs are set to rise. I have a safety net, but it’s finite, and shrinking. 

I spent New Year’s eve looking at local employment possibilities. I’ve done all kinds of work along the way, I have no qualms about jumping back in – shelf stacker or dinner lady maybe. My skills aren’t much use for conventional employment outside of publishing, I don’t have a car, and that means I’m pretty much obliged to look at minimum wage jobs if I can’t get the writing based work to pay. At one point a few years ago I was doing half a dozen small jobs to make ends meet, and it was tough. So, I was bracing myself to get back into all of that.

Much to my surprise, I find that instead I’m going to be writing a novel to a tight deadline and for a flat fee. I’ve got three books to read as a matter of some urgency, and I’m going to be flat out for the next eight to ten weeks. So if the blog is a bit brief, or sporadic, this will be why. But it will pay better than being a traffic warden, and I was going to have to lie on that application about how well I handle aggression and conflict situations…


Online and accessible

One of the consequences of so much moving online during lockdowns, is that many people who are normally excluded became able to participate. Clearly we could do more to include people who cannot travel to events, but as the people who always could do the things get back to normal, people at the margins are again left out.

There are many barriers to attending real-world events. Illness and disability can make it really hard to go places. Poverty is a big barrier to participation – travel, accommodation and event tickets aren’t cheap. People who are carers can have a hard time getting out to events. For people on unpredictable zero hours contracts or with massively involved jobs – such as farming – can find it hard to take breaks. When you start to consider the number of people excluded from venue-based events, it’s hard to see why we don’t take this a lot more seriously.

I’ve been involved with online events for years – the Pagan Federation were doing them long before covid struck. I put a lot of content online in no small part because I know what it’s like not to have any disposable income for nice things. But, I want to go further. To that end, I’m organising an online festival for late January. It’s going to be based around the Hopeless Maine project and will include many of the people who are already involved. It should be highly entertaining.

My hope is that I’ll be able to do this every year. January is a miserable time (for me, anyway) and I think getting out to things is harder when the weather is against you. And hopefully it will provide some cheer for people who might otherwise be less cheered.


Trust and inspiration

This is a photo from one of my new ventures. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and at the recent Steampunk event in Gloucester I was able to pull a team together for some improvisation-heavy theatre. I’ve wanted to do scratch theatre in a steampunk context for ages. It has to be a bit cobbled together because we weren’t able to meet before the event for rehearsals and this would always be the way of it with steampunks travelling from all over the place to events.

I wrote an outline. Craig Hallam brought poems – the setup was a literary salon run by a psychopath (me, being Mrs Beaten) with Craig as Hopeless Maine poet Algernon Lear. Other cast members took on characters suitable to the setting, while John Bassett played Reverend Davies.

I’ve been dabbling with plays for years – mostly mumming plays, which are short, anarchic folk plays with a format around death and rebirth. Usually I write characters based either on traditional material, or for the person who will be playing the part. Getting to see someone bring to life a character I did not write for them has been an affecting sort of experience. 

For me, what’s most exciting in this kind of creative project is the mix of trust and uncertainty. I knew I had a great team, and they were willing to trust me that we could do this thing. We had a framework, but no one really knew how any of it would work or what would happen in the moment. And there were some wonderful moments with people interacting, sparring verbally, or at one point literally sparring with a cane and a massive spoon… When people collaborate amazing things can and do happen.

We made a space and a possibility. We held that space between us, and supported each other in being entertaining and funny and a bit weird, and I am really happy with how it all went. There will be more of this, and it means I can include more people.


Book news

I have a number of exciting thnigs going on with books currently – all around the Hopeless Maine project.

Hopeless Maine is now published in America by Outland Entertainment, they’ve just released some prose fiction set on the island.

They’re re-releasing the whole comics series in large, hardbound volumes, and copies of those have started turning up.

We now also have copies of the penultimate book in the graphic novel series – which comes out officially early next year. we’ve started work on the last book in this story, and we do know what happens afterwards…

For those of you not familiar with this project…. Hopeless Maine is a creepy island, lost in time, somewhere off the American coast. It started life as a graphic novel series and has since spawned a role play game, tarot, live performance, prose fiction, poetry, songs, and a film project. It’s a gothic, steampunk sort of a thing, originally the idea of Tom Brown (to whom I am married) but it’s become a large, sprawling international community with all sorts of lovely people getting involved. You can find out more about it over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/


New adventures

Life is changing for me. This year I put down all of the more conventional work to focus on the creative stuff, and getting the creative stuff out there. I have projects that are going places and need more of my time. Of course it is a bit of a gamble, but these days most jobs don’t seem to be that secure or stable.

I have every intention of keeping this blog going and largely still doing the things I’ve been doing. However, for reasons of both interest and practicality I’m going to spend a bit more time blogging about what I’m doing. Much of what’s in the offing should be interesting and there will very likely be photos so I think it might be entertaining to share. The practical side of it is that if I’m doing weekend events I need time off in the week, and there are also some hefty projects on the way. Sharing photos of what I’ve done and updates about what’s happening will not take so much thought for me, so it’s going to be a bit more sustainable.

I spent this last week with an exhibition in my local art gallery. It went really well, although it’s meant a working weekend and not much scope for time off to make up for it, and the glorious prospect of performing at a dark fairy festival next weekend. There should be photos of that, too. There is a little film from the gallery show and once I’ve had chance to out that together, I’ll add it here as well.

In the meantime, here’s Mr Anderson in the gallery.