Category Archives: Uncategorized

In which we are associated with the Skelton Crew

This one comes from the fictional side of my life, Hopeless Maine has some cool stuff going on that might be of interest. You may not be shocked to learn that tentacles are involved…

The Moth Festival

Hello people! (and others)
This is going to be longish-apologies.
When we started Hopeless, Maine, more than ten years ago, we decided that if it took off (and there was much daydreaming about this. We haven’t got to the “riches” end of the spectrum, but this was definitely a “rags”time for me) We decided that there would be no mass produced tat associated with the story. (Sal would be cross) We thought maybe we could invite crafters and other makers to make things and mention where the things came from, sort of a thing. Moving ahead in time to last year, I spotted a company who was making *very* cool lovely things in limited editions around some comics I very much admire (Hellboy, BPRD, Locke and Key etc.) These are the sort of things that would be kept and treasured (and not end up in landfills) So, I sent…

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Fluffy doom!

This year, craft and writing have collided for me as Tom and I explore the possibilities of a Hopeless Maine arts and crafts movement. Making things for a fictional island has a definite charm. I’ve been using the approach to rag rugging featured in this blog for some years now (strips of fabric pulled through the hessian backing) . With this piece I was pretty much at the limits of what the form can do – if you click through to the original post, you can see the difference around the teeth between the back and front.

The Hopeless Vendetta

The Hopeless, Maine arts and crafts movement is go!  See the fluffy doom!

We are preparing for an immersive Hopeless, Maine exhibit this Autumn, and are making sculptures, Painted trays (Hopeless, Maine willow pattern!) and now, this fluffy taste of doom- The gravestone skull rag rug! The design is based on the skull motif found on New England slate gravestones. Nimue has made this because she is a genius and made of gothic win (and dark puppies) Below the back of the rug of doom, as it shows how it was done, and also looks rather like a grim mosaic.

Hoping (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

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Some fascinating thoughts about how we make sense of reality….


“We usually describe the world in terms of trees, mountains, rivers, clouds, cars, houses, people, and so on. But a chemist could say: ‘No, this is not how things truly are! The world is basically composed of molecules which are ceaselessly combining one with another at random’. However, a physicist would reply: ‘Not at all! Reality is actually made up of intermingling fields of energy/matter where the dance of waves/particles takes place ceaselessly’.

“Who is right? Who is wrong? All of them are clearly mere conceptual descriptions that can just supply a relative view of reality. We do not actually live in ‘reality’, but rather in a description of it, that is like a ‘bubble’ of concepts and words all around us, which in time builds up a fictitious view of ourselves and the world. Even non-dualism (as any other -ism without exception) is just a conceptual description of…

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A prayer

Do not speak the names of killers.

Let history forget them.

Let us not talk of the causes

For which they claimed to kill.

All their acts were betrayals

All their words were lies.

Let us silence their hatred.

Let our silence be a refusal

Of everything they stood for.


Let us speak of the innocent dead.

The honoured and beloved dead.

Let us name them and remember

The lives they led, the causes they cherished.

Lives greater than their killers aspired to.

Let us share our grief and anger now,

Blaming only the guilty,

Whose names shall be dust.

In time, let us rejoice in the memories

Of those we have loved and lost.


Let us speak the names of healers,

Of helpers and comforters.

Professionals brave in the line of duty.

Let us remember the fortitude of the many,

The courage, integrity and grace,

The best we can be.


Do not speak the names

Of those who discard their humanity

In the name of hatred.


(One of the things I learned while working on When A Pagan Prays, is that prayer itself is sacred expression, and there are no inbuilt assumptions about where it might be directed. You can pray to anything, or anyone, we can pray to each other. That fascinates me.)

Bard of Hawkwood 2017

I had the honour of judging on this year’s Bard of Hawkwood (that’s me second from the left when you get to the image). They were all brilliant in different ways and it was not an easy decision. It is a question of considering literary merit, performance on the day and what the bard will do if given this platform… there were three of us judging and I’m very happy with the choice we made and with what the winner is already doing off the back of this…

The Bardic Academic


IMG_20170501_142057 Centre – Madeleine Harwood, Bard of Hawkwood 2017

3 years ago I set up the Bard of Hawkwood contest to promote community creativity. This, along with Stroud Out Loud! – the monthly spoken word showcase I founded – offers a way for budding bards to hone their fledgling talents in an inclusive, supportive way. It is not the only way of doing things but it works here in Stroud and the Five Valleys, where there is a wealth of local talent and traditions of artistic heritage, alternative lifestyles, radical thinking, and grassroots activity. The Bardic Chair tradition and revival is something I have explored in my book, The Bardic Chair: inspiration, invention, innovation (1st published by RJ Stewart Books in 200, a new edition of the book is forthcoming).

RJ Stewart Books, 2008

The revival of English Bardic Chairs is largely down to one man, Tim Sebastian. The Arch-Druid…

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Things I’m doing

Aside from this blog, I have a number of projects on the go at the moment…

I review Pagan and spiritual books for Spiral Nature –

You can find my Pagan books here and this is my Amazon page which has the fiction on it, and here’s the graphic novel.

I write a monthly column at Sage woman blogs exploring alternative ideas for the wheel of the year.  You can read that here –  I also do a monthly post at The Pagan and The Pen listing new Pagan titles.

Back when Hopeless Maine first came out as a webcomic, we used to do a weekly newspaper for the island. It was a project that got a lot of reader involvement, so, this year after having had a bit of a break from it, we re-launched as a community project. People who want to write stories, or song or poems, share 3d creations, artwork, photoshoots in the style of Hopeless Maine are welcome to do so. You can find that at

I’ve got a few videos up on youtube, you can find those here –

I’m @Nimue_B on Twitter and my facebook is You can also find me on Pinterest, Ello and Linkedin if you’re really determined. I tend to accept friends requests.

Book Review: When a Pagan Prays

It’s always a joy to find someone who gets what I hoped I was doing with a book. It’s also much easier than trying to figure out how to talk about my work, so, here we go – a review for one of mine.

Endless Erring

wappBrown, Nimue. When a Pagan Prays: Exploring Prayer in Druidry and Beyond. Moon Books, 2014.

Nimue Brown, a Druid author who blogs at Druid Life, wrote Spirituality Without Structure (my review of which is HERE) in the space between writing this book, and When a Pagan Prays feels very much like a spiritual successor to the former.

Nimue describes When a Pagan Prays as not one book, but two:

“One of those books is an amateur attempt at some academic writing, featuring comparative religious studies, psychology, sociology and a bit of research. The other book is an experiential tale of what happened to me when I started to explore prayer as a personal practice”.

While I found the academic analysis of prayer (what it is, what it’s for, why people pray etc) interesting, not least because of my own background in religious studies, it’s the “other…

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Morning Cuppa: Letters Between Gentlemen

I’ve never found it easy to talk about my own books – not least because by the time one book comes out, I’m usually busy with the next one. And there’s that whole awkwardness thing about blowing ones own trumpet – the sense that drawing attention to things I do isn’t ok (some post should follow about women, manners and visibility). I am as a consequence of all of this, hugely grateful when other people undertake to talk about my books for me. It’s deeply reassuring to find that people are willing to, as well. So, here we go, a book review…

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s zealously zabutonous parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

Today you find us shamefacedly apologetic that we were not at home last Tuesday; the Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race was afoot and our vile and persistent landlord threw us out before dawn threatening to feed us to his tuffs if we didn’t sell enough lemonade to make last months rent… well all I can say is February is a tightfisted month that slinks by far too quickly without giving a gentleman time to amass the means to pay his dues.

If you are unaware, The Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race takes place annually to herald in the gruelling period of fasting and general abstinence from anything fun which Wizards tell us is essential to commemorate Wiz’s final capture and defeat of The Holy Child before he turned him…

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The Lost Library

Many years ago, before Hopeless Maine launched as a webcomic, we had a paper for the imaginary island – The Hopeless Vendetta, run as a wordpress blog. We were surprised by how interactive it became. Then things got busy, and we let it slide. This year, The Vendetta has been reborn as a community project and we’ve had contributions and collaborations every week for a while now.

This week, an unusually large and dangerous looking fish has beached (briefly) on the coast. Mark Lawrence is the kind of author you can easily find on the shelves of bookstores. We first met him before Prince of Thorns came out (I get book hipster points for that), we love his Broken Empire series. He’s always been very supportive of Hopeless, and for this week’s Vendetta, he adds to the life, or perhaps death of the island with this small tale…

The Hopeless Vendetta

By Mark Lawrence


Four walls, black with the memory of the fire that took the roof. Cold now. Even the stink of char is gone, rain-washed into the gutter. The building is haunted, naturally, how could it not be? What ruin that watches the world from dark windows is free of spirits? But the ghosts here are those of books. The phantoms of hundreds. Untold worlds and lives, riveted to ten thousand pages, each letter a black nail pinning to the page mysteries and marvels, all ready to unfurl in an open mind. They died with a crackle and a sigh and their ashes spiralled glowing into the dark skies of an all Hallows eve. Frogmire Morton built this place and filled it with row upon row of leather-clad tomes, wisdom rubbing worn covers with whimsy. Where they came from, and who wrote them, is perhaps as big a mystery…

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Step into Faerie

This is a very fine book that I want to get onto people’s radar. I’m in the process of reading it for the second time at the moment, and it’s going to be available for review soon, and for general reading this spring. It’s full of folk and faerie, landscape, magic, human cock-up, uncanny things, courage, challenge, love, friendship, questing… so, please saunter across and read the blog, and if you poke about in the blog site, there are more goodies to find, including an excerpt.

The Bardic Academic

A Contemporary Fantasy based upon PhD research into Fairy Traditions and Folklore of the Scottish Borders  – coming soon…

New Version Knowing cover large.jpg Cover by Tom Brown, photography by James Barke 2017

Janey McEttrick is a Scottish-American folksinger descended from a long line of female singers. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she plays in a jobbing rock band, The Jackalopes, and works part-time at a vintage record store. Thirty-something and spinning wheels, she seems doomed to smoke and drink herself into an early grave (since losing her daughter she’s been drowning her sorrows and more besides) until one day she receives a mysterious journal – apparently from a long-lost Scottish ancestor, the Reverend Robert Kirk, a 17th Century Presbyterian minister obsessed with fairy lore. Uncanny things start to happen… She and her loved ones are assailed by supernatural forces, until she is forced to act – to journey to Scotland to lie…

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