Release the #KrakenTat

Once upon a time, an author sat in a tattoo parlor on the isle of Maui. She wasn’t there for herself, but for her sister, who had taken it into her head to get some fresh ink during their vacation with an uncle, and between the pair of them, the author was the only one old enough to drive the rental car.

So while the sister got her work done in the back, the author passed the time by scribbling semi-illegibly in her journal, the words wandering into a conversation with one of her closest characters about what sort of tattoo she would go for, if ever she did. She was pretty sure she never would, out of fear that she’d decide a month or a year or a decade too late that she was tired of seeing any one design etched permanently onto her person. But if she did…

“A kraken,” the character said, without hesitation. “I could totally see you with a tentacle tattoo. […] Same for something with the moon.”

Because that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And that character – surely to no one’s surprise – was Will Scarlet. Perhaps more surprising, that very day was the one Danielle envisioned the matching tattoos worn by Will and Allyn in “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”.

And most surprising of all, Will Scarlet was 100% on point. Because three years later – coincidentally just weeks after the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” (aka #KrakenBook) – I do most proudly introduce to you… #KrakenTat.

KrakenTat Tryptich
#KrakenTat at 2 hours old.

The Design: Circling the right arm just below the elbow, a musical stave with a treble clef, in which some of the stave’s lines form the irregular peaks and valleys of a soundwave. Rising therefrom, a trio of tentacles, one of which curves possessively around a crescent moon at my wrist.

The Brainstorm Behind It: If I was going to get a tattoo – which I unexpectedly found myself more and more eager to do – it had to be deeply and undeniably me. Hence the tentacles (my soul is a sea monster) and the moon (my soul mate in the sky). I thought at first to have the encircling band in my design look like actual water (my element, naturally), but my searches online for inspiration / a guide for my future tattoo artist yielded nothing that hit me quite right.

What did hit me: Music. (My language beyond words.) And finding an image of a soundwave stave pleased me doubly because, again, “Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” matching tats. (Anything to feel closer to my brothers in Sherwood!)

I wasn’t originally thinking to include the treble clef, but when my artist – (Antonio of Mod&Art Studio) – kept it as part of his rough-draft sketch for my approval, I decided it wasn’t broke and needed no fixing. Also originally, I’d imagined having one or more the tentacles curling all the way around my forearm. But again, the rough-draft sketch didn’t do that, and I liked the way it looked as-was, so I didn’t push the circling tentacles, just the circling stave.

The (3-to-4-Hour) Moment of Truth: The number-one question I’ve received since showing off my new tattoo = “[How much] did it hurt?”

My answer = “It varied.”

Antonio warned me the wrist would likely be the most painful area, and he spoke the truth. On much of my forearm, the pain wasn’t generally much worse than the sensation of a prolonged scratch. On the wrist, though, it felt more like someone was trying to murder me and make it look like a suicide.

I’d hoped Tirzah might be there to distract me and/or keep my spirits up, since she happened to have the day off of work. But alas, the reason she took off work in the first place was because she had a cold, and Antonio requested that she not bring her sniffle-and-cough germs into the workspace. Fair enough. I was on my own.

Fortunately, there was some diversion in the form of a mounted TV bingeing “Good Girls” on Netflix. Over the course of my appointment, I – and a couple of ladies who showed up later to get inked by the other artist in da house – kept us all entertained by offering commentary on the fictional women getting in over their heads in a money laundering racket. And when even that wasn’t enough to take my mind off my arm’s suffering, I internally tapped out and had one of my Camelot knights sit through it for me. (#ChivalryLives)

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190228_152427952_BURST000_COVER_TOP
The tat-in-progress pic sent to Tirzah during a short break in my ow-ow-ow marathon.

Even with the foresight to eat a big breakfast before what I’d been warned would be a 3-to-4-hour job, by the end, my body was very much ready for food and the cessation of toughing out pain. (Just ha-a-ad to insist on inking a full-circle musical stave bracelet, did I? Ow.) I’d planned to remind Antonio I’d mentioned wanting some white ink added to the moon, but the thought of more work on the wrist did not appeal to me at that point, so I let it go. Antonio gave some brief after-care instructions, I paid up, and Tirzah – back just in time to catch the end of my ordeal – treated me to Ethiopian dinner.

Then came the fun part! Aka, anxiety re: what if I somehow manage to screw up my tattoo skin care and EVERYTHING IS TRAGEDY?!

In order to calm myself down, I spent part of the next morning looking around online for second, third, and fourth opinions for the “so, you just got a tattoo” crowd.

A few generally agreed upon do-s and don’t-s:

DO – Keep the skin clean with antibacterial soap (unscented preferred)

– Avoid prolonged exposure to water (especially chemical pool water) and sun

– Use some manner of protection against germs and drying out (Antonio prescribed thin layers of diaper rash cream A+D, applied as needed over the first four days, and Jergens ultra-healing lotion starting on day five)

DON’T – Let the world’s unwashed hands touch your new tat ‘til it’s healed (takes 2 to 3 weeks)

– Over-protect by keeping bandaged in plastic wrap or mega-thick layers of goop, because now the skin can’t breathe

– Pick at the skin when it starts peeling like a sunburn; it’s a normal part of the process and scratching more skin away will just up your chances for infection

– Panic if the area weeps a little clear plasma; this is also fine and normal (vs. colorful and/or smelly discharges, which will want medical attention)

Epilogue:

As I type this, we are a week in and at “peeling like a sunburn” phase. The pain was down to virtually zero within 24 hours, sensitivity has been steadily dropping, and with every day that passes without incident, my fear decreases as well.

Only another week to go, past this blog’s posting, and my tattoo will be just another part of me – albeit one of my cooler outer parts, revealing to the world a few core pieces of coolness that have been inside me all along.

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190301_122242173
Murdoch would approve.

That’s my first tattoo story! Got one of your own to share? See me in the comments!

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WHAMO! I’d Like to Shake the Academy…

WHAMO LogoHello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And it’s time for another edition of “WHAMO!” (which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier).

Today’s pick, though, isn’t a movie. Instead, it’s that great-granddaddy of television specials honoring the medium of movies itself:

THE OSCARS!

Oscars 2019

The Wikipedia-official description:

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”, although more commonly referred to by its nickname “Oscar”.

The Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast on radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953. It is the oldest worldwide entertainment awards ceremony and is now seen live worldwide.  […] The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best films of 2018, was held on February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre, in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

*Re: the ceremony’s opening ‘boom-boom-claps’* “YAAAASSSS, QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT! You are indeed rocking me!”

“Aaaand there’s the first obligatory political joke of the night. This year’s show doesn’t even have a host, but you can always count on someone stepping up to throw shade at the government.”

“I have not (to my regret) yet seen ‘The Favourite’, but Rachel Weisz was modeling quite The Look while lol-shooting Emma Stone, in this clip.”

“Is sea god Jason Mamoa wearing a scrunchie on his wrist? A scrunchie that matches his suit, no less?”

“And the documentary winner is… that guy climbing Yosemite free-hand!”

“That arch over the stage looks distractingly like a wig.”

“Am I wrong for envying Melissa McCarthy’s presenter outfit? (The answer is ‘yes’, but I’m not letting that stop me.)”

“Freshly-award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter is several layers of #goals. Related note: Wakanda forever!”

*Having spent several seconds devouring a dazzling J-Lo/Chris Evans combo with his eyes* “…I’m sorry, I haven’t heard a word they said. Which award are they presenting, right now?”

“Hannah Beachler, aka that gorgeous jungle flower fumbling for her production design victory speech on her phone, is the realest thing I’ve ever seen, and I love her.”

“I’m stealing that outfit from Jennifer Hudson and putting it on Danielle so she can unleash her biggest fabulous.”

*Re: James McAvoy/Danai Gurira presenting for Best Sound Design* “Slaaayyy, Okoye! You’re so good at it! (Side note: If James wants to play cousin Robin Hood, like, ever, that offer’s on the table.)”

*Re: Keegan-Michael Key’s entrance* “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”

“Those umbrellas look like an alien invasion, but thanks, Bette Midler, for performing a song much adored by certain of Danielle’s characters.”

*When the “Black Panther” clip plays … and ends* Will: “No! MORE!”

Allyn-a-Dale: “You could have just put in the DVD, but no, you said, ‘Let’s watch the Oscars.’”

“Academy Museum of Motion Pictures? That’s gonna be a thing? Danielle, can we go??”

“Groundbreaking animated masterpiece beats out even mother-loving Disney for Best Animated Feature! History is made! Sing hey and huzzah for ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’!”

“Anyone else crept out by that camera cut to Willem Dafoe during the ‘Spider-Verse’ acceptance speech? Was that an intentional throwback to yester-Spidey?”

“Okay, but where is my John Mulaney/Peik Lin buddy movie, tho?”

“Aw, man – bet you that woulda been the commercial break where I’d get a cool first look at a ‘Lion King’ remake trailer, if I’d watched this live.”

“If Merlin had said a decade ago that we could look forward to a love duet between Lady Gaga and Rocket Raccoon, no one would have taken him seriously.”

“Wait, Jessica Jones is pregnant?? (Is Luke Cage the father? Or does comic book canon not really affect Krysten Ritter’s day-to-day?)”

“ARGH, I’d managed to forget we lost Stan Lee! Thanks for throwing me back into mourning, In Memoriam!”

“So, Willem Dafoe got a role as Van Gogh, and… nobody told Vincent’s biggest minstrel fan, Allyn? Rude.”

“There’s a movie that’s just called ‘The Wife’? Not even gonna try to dress it up with a descriptor or anything? What comes next – ‘The Daughter’?”

“Olivia Coleman’s acceptance speech for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is the best of heartfelt British comedy.”

“What the— ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ wasn’t nominated for anything? But it was practically the most perfect film of the year! C’MON, Academy!”

More Coherently Summarized:

Was I entertained? Yes. Can the Oscars get by without a host? Clearly, though neither Danielle nor I would cry boo to them giving the spot back to Hugh Jackman. While I would not at all call myself a fan of the drama factory that is Hollywood, I can’t help but get hype for all the glittery glitz and glamour of Oscars night. Movies are AMAZING, and taking time to recognize not only the big stars that are the face of the films but also the categories of artists working their wizardry behind the scenes is awesome. Even if my top picks don’t score every accolade I think they deserve, there is something to be said just for being nominated. (Looking at you, ‘Black Panther’. You’re totally Best Picture of 2018 in my heart.)

Where are the POC?

More specifically, what is up with not giving ANY kudos to “Crazy Rich Asians”? Sure, there was black power aplenty, up onstage and onscreen, and several shout-outs to the Spanish-speaking community and immigrants in general. That’s all very well, good, and trendy, but is the Academy just going to ignore that “Asians” ran away with the box office? Don’t tell me a romantic comedy can’t be taken seriously as high art, because bullsh*t. That movie was gorgeous. It had scope. And intelligence. And an incredible cast made up almost entirely of a demographic that’s suffered every bit as much racist garbage in this country as any other person of color. (Japanese internment camps, anyone?) I don’t know which stuffy white dinosaurs voted to sweep “Crazy Rich Asians” under the red carpet, but this medieval Merry Man is handing out an entirely unofficial Tied-For-Best Picture Oscar. So there.

<<<>>>

And that’s today’s review! How about you guys? Did you watch the Oscars? Whose wins made you cheer, and who was bloody robbed? What’s your pick for last year’s Best Picture? Who are you wearing tonight? Discuss in the comments below!

‘Til next time, babes ~

Open Journal: Nocturne of the Soul

It used to be so easy, surfing that rush of creation.

Just write another novel. It would take her, what, a month?

 

That was before.

Before what?

Before.

 

She doesn’t even know what’s most to blame, anymore.

The burnout, that trauma, the crunch of adult life… what does it matter?

 

The result’s the same.

Her identity, sleeping.

She’s barely a writer, now.

 

But those magnets.

Two sets of two-hundred-plus.

Words at the ready, just waiting for something to say.

 

A spirit inside moves her outsides.

Allyn-a-Dale reaches with her hand.

 

They were bought for him, the magnets. Sets inspired

by music and Edgar another-Allan Poe.

Words to which the minstrel cannot but viscerally respond –

 

dark… dead… allegro…

lyrical… symphony… nevermore…

 

He plucks a sentence from the store, drawing it together, swift and sure,

as if he were Michelangelo and the phrase

a sculpture waiting in the stone.

 

Lovely, she thinks,

perhaps content to leave it.

But Allyn’s far from done.

 

Another sentence,

built more slowly, hunting

for the elements desired, feeling out

phonetic rhythm.

 

Words call as only song and the macabre can:

hole and soulstrange and shrouddawn and sky pull at his blood.

But there’s a story forming now in which these have no rightful place.

Another time. Another tale. Today, the song is his,

but played for her.

 

This is how you do it, he tells her

in his fingers’ silent dance.

This is how we breathe.

 

One word swapped, at a thought, for another.

One sentence shifted down, later lines taking its place.

The sculpture in full emerges from marble.

The artist steps back and shoves author forward

in time to ride the crest of the wave.

 

There! The rush. The writer’s high.

Only a breath of the air, but sweet as remembered.

 

Thank you, they tell each other,

and float together.

<<<>>>

Magnet Poetry_Nocturne of the Soul

string every unknown mystery

into some sweet opus

 

face your nocturne of the soul

by singing melancholy moonlight

 

howl down a haunting sonata

 

love softly

& live loud

 

maestro death

conducts his orchestra

 

but I know my power

For All She’s Worth (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logoThe curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her author summarizes her thus:

Formerly a small-town barmaid, Molly Worth spent a brief stint as a captain of a stolen ship before joining another captain’s crew. Now the cabin boy aboard the Painted Lady, she can be found bonding with a winged child, tolerating cryptic conversation with an alleged witch, and keeping an ear out for the malevolent songs of a sea monster.

“Welcome, Molly-girl!” Will greets the lass now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why are you frowning at me like that?”

Softly, but by no means indecisive, Molly says, “I don’t want you calling me that.”

“What, ‘Molly-girl’? But isn’t that what Crow calls you?”

“Crow is my captain,” Molly points out. “And I didn’t want him putting ‘girl’ where my ‘Worth’ belonged, either, the first time. But he got himself into the habit of it anyway, and I got out of the habit of minding it. From him. You and I don’t know each other yet, so just ‘Molly’ will do.”

“As you like it,” Will concedes. “So help me know you. What is it, exactly, that draws you to the sea?”

“It was the songs, first,” Molly muses. “The ones sailors sing. We get a lot of them, sailors, in Lower Lee, where I lived ‘til lately. They float in from all over the place, and they bring their lore with them, set to song. It makes their adventures and their everyday sound so much more than what I knew of land, and they— well, the songs sounded like the sea smells, if that makes sense to you. I could close my eyes and feel it like a rolling deck and taste it like a salty breeze. It put a hunger in me I didn’t know how to fill, ‘til Jessica came.”

“Jessica being…?”

“The living ship I stole,” says Molly, matter-of-fact. “It’s not only songs, but voices that called me seaward. I heard Jessica’s voice, and it asked me to take her. I heard the voice of the sea wolf,” – her round, brown face clouds over – “which wasn’t exactly a sea wolf after all… I don’t know, yet, what it’s asking of me. I don’t know what it means that I can hear these things that others can’t. I could hope it’s due to my being destined for greatness or made of magic, but more probably it’s a sign of ballad-worthy tragedy. Not best fun to think on it, really.”

“I know minstrels who’d say otherwise, but I’m all for ignoring tragedy in favor of amusing distractions. So, what’s been the funniest thing you’ve encountered on the Painted Lady?”

“The funniest?” Molly stares a while into the thinking distance before replying. “That’s more a question to ask of someone like Murdoch, the navigator. She’s the sort always ready to laugh. I suppose Semsen (boatswain, master gunner, cook, etc.) can be funny, in his sour way. Or maybe it’s only Crow who’s always making jokes of him. The captain seems to share some of your predilection for amusing distractions. As for what’s likeliest to get a smile out of me, that’s got to be little Johnny.”

“Odd,” Will remarks, “when the Little John I know is likeliest to scare the smile right off my face.”

“Johnny, not John. And the ‘little’ isn’t so much a part of his name as a way of saying we’re talking about the boy, not Captain Johnny Crow.”

“And not just any boy, but the boy with wings,” Will notes. “Does he ever take you flying?”

“Not apart from the night we first met, no. His wings are strong, but he’s only a child. He can’t go hauling his elders about for recreation. Our time’s mostly spent talking, or playing cards and such, or oh, you should hear him sing! His voice isn’t for me alone, but it’s no less extraordinary. Just, maybe you should avoid trying to helm a ship, while he does it. Blood could out.”

“Duly warned. And speaking of warnings, be informed that we’re heading now into this talk show’s signature waters. Tell me, Molly Worth, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet’s smile sparkles like a sunlit sea. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Molly considers him solemnly. “I’ve never been one for giving out secrets or kisses, afore now. Then again, I wasn’t one for practically turning pirate until just a short while ago. And yours does look an inviting mouth…” Her gaze travels up from said mouth to his eyes. “What will it mean to you, if I kiss you?”

“Mean? Oh, not much of anything,” says Will, brightly expectant. “Everything in good fun, you understand.”

“All right, then. I suppose we can try it.”

Rising from her chair, Molly crosses the short space between them and touches her lips to Will’s, the act lingering just a little too long for perfect innocence. Scarlet tips a bit forward as she withdraws, as if physically tugged along.

“Good Lord,” says he. “I think I’ve just fallen a little in love with you.”

Molly’s expression crimps frownward. “It will pass. Kiss the arm of your chair, next, and swoon about that. You’re too hopeless by half, Cr— Will Scarlet.”

“Alas for the truth of it,” Will sighs. “Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (both in e-book and, at too long last, paperback)!

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Molly! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Release the #KrakenBook! (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Back in the day,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

Available now!”

“—Would take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“But we’re pulling out today’s skit to mark a special occasion,” Will declares. “Namely, the launch of our author Danielle E. Shipley’s latest novel, ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ (now or soon to be available in paperback, cuz #TechnicalDifficulties, and in two e-book formats, here and here). So make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘Release the #KrakenBook’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a painted backdrop depicting a seascape beneath a twilight sky. Before it stands a makeshift pier, a ship-shaped cutout bobbing behind. Pacing to and fro along the dock is Marion Hood, in a canvas coat and sensible shoes. And sitting upon one of the pier’s posts is the one and only Gant-o’-the-Lute, playing a jaunty, nautical-sounding tune upon a fiddle as he begins the skit’s narration.]

Lute/Narrator: Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town.

Marion/Molly [brooding ]: My considerable imagination notwithstanding, I am hard put, at the moment, to conceive of a fate worse than a half-inevitable marriage to the ho-hum Caylum Buxby.

[An extra spot of light falls upon the ship cutout, whence comes a voice that sends Marion startling.]

Queen Guinevere/the Jessica: What about a half-inevitable death at sea?

Lute/Narrator: A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom.

Marion/Molly: I don’t know about the death part, but a life at sea would be thrilling. Can you really talk?

Guinevere/Jessica: And more.

Marion/Molly: Then let us discuss an arrangement.

Lute/Narrator: It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself.

[Marion steps from the dock and onto a platform on the Jessica cutout’s far side, while Lute and the pier begin rolling offstage, leaving the little ship and her captain alone ‘on the open sea’.]

Lute/Narrator [sounding his fiddlesong’s last notes just before vanishing into the wings ]: …But the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

[The lighting darkens from evening to night, and a new song echoes around the stage – Gant-o’-the-Lute’s voice layered over that of Little John, producing a resonantly high-and-low effect that is as lovely as it is deeply ominous.]

Marion/Molly [in horror and wonder ]: That song…!

[Amidst frenetic flashes of light that may cause seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy, towering shadows writhe over the backdrop.]

Guinevere/Jessica: Oh, no! It’s…!

krockenbook

[From above, Allyn-a-Dale swoops in on a wire, a mechanical pair of black-feathered wings pumping at his back.]

Allyn/Johnny: Hang on! I’ve got you!

[The deathsong duet howling into an angry finish, Allyn scoops Marion from the cutout ship which sinks beneath the stage via trapdoor.]

Marion/Molly: First of all, thank you. Second, who are you? And third, if I may ask – what are you?

Allyn/Johnny: You’re welcome and Johnny and do you know those ancient Grecian depictions of sirens as birds with women’s heads?

Marion/Molly: Our world doesn’t have Greece, but sure.

Allyn/Johnny: Well, my mother was one.

Marion/Molly: A Greek?

Allyn/Johnny: The other thing.

Marion/Molly: Ah, good. That’s easier believed.

[From the wings – (the stage’s wings, not Johnny’s) – emerges a much larger, sturdier ship set piece than hitherto seen, on the deck of which stands Will Scarlet in a flamboyant embroidered coat and excellent boots. …Also Gant-o’-the-Lute, this time playing accordion.]

Lute/Narrator: Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow…

Will/Crow: Ahoy, Johnny-lad! What have you got there?

Allyn/Johnny [coming to deposit Marion onto the ship next to Will ]: I’ve got a Molly!

Will/Crow: #ThatsCanon. Hey, Molly-babe. Y’wanna join the Painted Lady?

Marion/Molly: I am skeptical of you, but all right.

Lute/Narrator: …Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong.

Marion/Molly: Well, dang.

Will/Crow: Aw man, is it my fault?

Allyn/Johnny: I mean, probably.

Lute/Narrator [his accordion taking up a reprise of the deathsong duet ]: Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

Will/Crow: Worry not, Molly! True love always finds a way!

Allyn/Johnny: You say that like this is “The Wilderhark Tales”.

Lute/Narrator [shrugging ]: It’s from the same author, for whatever that’s worth.

[From the opposite wings, Eddie Millerson pokes in his head for a cameo appearance as Caylum Buxby.]

Eddie/Caylum [smirking like he thinks he’s funny ]: What is a Molly worth, anyway?

Marion/Molly [pointing ]: And that is why no one is marrying you.

<<<>>>

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to Danielle E. Shipley and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “the one for writing and publishing ‘Deathsong of the Deep’, and the other for mentioning on multiple occasions how she loved and misses the golden age of Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre.”

“Remember, beautiful audience,” says Will, “that ‘Deathsong’ is currently available as an e-book (here and here), and if it’s not already up in paperback, it should be very soon. If you enjoyed yourselves (or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), be sure to purchase your copy or copies today! (And please-and-thank-you leave a review once you’ve finished devouring the masterpiece, okay? Okay.) Also, don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Lifesong of a Sjordan (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logoThe curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “His captain introduced him thus:

“Narles Semsen, boatswain, carpenter, master gunner, cook…” Crow paused. “What /don’t/ you do, Semsen?”

“Precious little,” Semsen said.

“Remind me to give you a raise, sometime.”

“Welcome, Mr. Semsen!” Will greets the sea dog now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what’s the matter with your face?”

“Referring to this little beauty mark, I take it,” the man drawls, the accent vaguely evocative of something Scandinavian, with a gesture to the scar carved deep into his otherwise handsome right cheek. “One guess if you know him, and two if you don’t. Call it my most obvious souvenir from an early adventure with one Johnny Crow.”

“Oh, no, yeah, I knew about that,” Will waves him off. “I meant, like, do you never smile? You look like you never smile.”

“I’m Sjordan,” says Semsen, expression flat. “Sjorda’s not for smiles.”

“No? What would you say your homeland’s for?”

“Mostly for freezing out the bits you don’t need.” One mouth’s corner twitches into something near a smirk, if not a smile. “Along with some of the bits you do. She’s a land with a heart of ice, is Sjorda. Hard to live with, and harder to live without, if you’re one of hers. Much like the sea, that way. Not to be wondered, then, why so many of hers turn sailor.”

“When did you make the turn, yourself?”

“Early on,” he replies. “All but born on the water. My old granny and dad were fishers, and taught me half I know of living afloat. Then they got themselves killed in a summer storm, leaving me on my own at eleven years old. I maybe could have made something respectable of myself, but chose piracy instead.” He studies one hand’s rough-cut fingernails dispassionately. “Never was one to swallow grief the sensible way.”

“Fascinating,” says Will Scarlet, looking as intensely fascinated as only Will Scarlet can, on the off chance he’s paying attention. “How long before your path linked up with the famed Johnny Crow’s?”

“Just a few years more. Both of us in our teens. Met him by a different name, of course. He wouldn’t be Johnny Crow ‘til after we acquired his ship.”

“How did he come up with his captain name? Did you help?”

Semsen snorts lightly. “For all I know for true, the author just took ‘Jack Sparrow’ and ran down a side street. Far as we were concerned, though, he wanted his birth name, just less done up in Chesney frills and foppery. So he took on the Hornish translation, seeing as Hornwhal’s the brute muscle of the seafaring nations. I had naught and nothing to do with it, same as with any mad decision he makes.”

“Does he not consult with you, then?”

“If I want talk, I’ll take Anafrid,” says Semsen – meaning the Painted Lady’s second-in-command, also Sjorda-born. “If Crow wants talk, he’ll take any wall with an ear. We’re not for talk with each other. Crow’s not my friend, Scarlet. Only my life.”

Will tips his head. “Less than a friend, but more than a captain. And just how do you suppose he thinks of you?”

Semsen’s face looks farther from smiles than ever. “I would suppose he tries not to. I’m not a soul for him to think about, just a body to be used.” A short scratch of a laugh. “It’s the cruelest of ironies, but why should any man ask him for better? If ever I’m done with it, I’ll leave. Until then, I stay. I’ve told you about me and grief.”

“So you have,” Will says wistfully. “And here’s your chance to disclose even more. Tell me, Semsen, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet regards him, eyes full of unspoken questions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Kiss you?” Another snort. “Not for any amount of money you’re offering. And I don’t know about secrets, but there’s one bit of trivia I could tell, regarding Sjorda. Danielle thought at first to call it Ferda, and actually wrote it so in her first drafts, only to realize a wintry country by that name already exists, in the Grishaverse of Leigh Bardugo. It’s first come, first claim, in the creative world, so our girl had to find something else. Maybe I’m biased after the fact, but I like the look and sound of Sjorda better. Like a fjord and a sword and a song on the tongue. I gladly call it home.”

“And I’d gladly visit,” says Will, “up until my necessaries freeze off. Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – coming Valentine’s Day, aka February 14th. (E-book editions available for pre-order here and here.)

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Semsen! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

A Chat to Crow About (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “His companions have thought of Captain Johnny Crow or called him thus:

To his biggest feathered fan, he’s ‘the cleverest captain ever’.  To his cabin boy, ‘a cryptic creature who cavorted with seal maidens, seirenes, and sea-blue witches’. To the woman whose heart he’s held close as a second skin, ‘a terrible man’. And were you to ask him, he’d probably say it only gets worse and truer from there.

“Welcome, Captain Crow!” Will greets the gentleman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – where did you get that daring coat?”

“Daring?” There’s an ironic tilt to the smile on Crow’s face, shapely and smooth in spite of years at the mercy of the sea and its weather. “There’s not much daring about wearing a lady’s dresscoat in the privacy of one’s own ship. Were I to go like this ashore in half the northern countries – hair unbound and hatless, women’s outerwear on brazen display, my face… well, my face being my face – Dis only knows what patriarchal fate the local menfolk would think to set upon me.”

Will presses a palm to his own chest. I’m local menfolk.”

“Which is why,” says Crow, crossing one leg over the other and tossing his head back to stare at the ceiling, “I had conflicting thoughts about showing up for this interview. But I can be daring, when the mood gets into me. And in any case, Scarlet, you’d have walked in wearing this coat’s very twin, if matching fashion statements were the done thing. It’s mostly red, after all. As for where I got mine? Nowhere special. Some shop in some town. Stupidly expensive, but it is and isn’t your own money you’re spending, when you’ve found it in the hold of a pirated ship.”

Will sits forward, chin propped on hands and eyes a-dazzle. “You talk like you’ve lived all kinds of adventures.”

“I’ve had my share,” Crow acknowledges. “Hard to help it, when you choose the sea life – or the sea life chooses you. Put yourself in the Sea Queen’s hands, and you’ll likely find it a tempestuous hold.”

“For the benefit of we landlubber types, just who is the Sea Queen, and what are your personal views on Her Majesty?”

“How was it Molly thought of it?” Crow mused, his smile returning warmer than before. “ ‘The reputedly mighty Dis,’ her mind put it; ‘the heart and the ruler of all the world’s oceans.’ That’s what just about any sailor I’ve met would call her, and I’d add nothing to contradict it. She’s my goddess; my boss sitting sovereign in her underwater office, I suppose I halfway think of her. I give her what percentages she’s due and address all my prayers and petitions to her desk. It’s partway just a seafarer’s religion to take for granted, but that could make it sound like she doesn’t really matter to me, and she does. I love her like I did my own mother, rest her soul. My heart calls her a friend, even if I don’t expect the sea calls anyone friend or foe. It’s just a world to hold in balance, for her. Nature isn’t fair, but has no favorites.”

“If Dis were to pick a favorite from among your crew, who would it be?”

A startled laugh from Crow. “I haven’t the first idea how to guess. We’ve all of us chosen her, in our own ways, which is enough to bless or damn us. In her place, I might pick Murdoch, on account of her being an arguably purer part of the sea than others. On the other hand, it’s Anafrid who takes the care to make sure Dis gets all her proper offerings when it might have slipped anyone else’s mind.” He grimaces. “I’d like to think she wouldn’t pick me simply because I’m so pretty, but that’s been the sort of luck I was born to, so why call it impossible? The surest answer, though, would have to be Miss Molly Worth.”

“And why’s that?”

Another smile, just shy of a laugh. “She’s the novel’s protagonist. You want blessing and damning in heavy measure, that’s the position to get.”

“Allyn-a-Dale would agree with you hard. But never-minding favorites, you’ve got one more choice to make: Tell me, Captain, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet sits up hopefully. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

A look of alarm flashes through Crow’s eyes before he pulls his smile back in place. “If you want hilarious, we can talk about Danielle’s struggle to come up with a name for my ship. You see, in the midst of her brainstorming phase, she made the mistake of asking her family for suggestions over dinner. Told them what she had in mind at the moment was something like the [Verb or Adjective] Rook. And somehow her family’s helpfulness degraded into simply proposing the same name over and over. A lot of, ‘How about the Raging Rook?’ ‘Maybe… the Raging Rook?’ ‘Wait, wait, I’ve got it: The Raging Rook.’”

Will Scarlet guffaws. “Small wonder she cut her nets on that side of the boat and went with the Painted Lady instead. Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“The Raging Rook. I jest,” Allyn says sedately, while Will hits the floor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – coming Valentine’s Day, aka February 14th. (E-book editions available for pre-order here and here.)

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Captain Crow! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”