Robin in Da Hood (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.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

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, “Wikipedia describes him thus:

Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English folklore who, according to legend, was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Traditionally depicted as being dressed in Lincoln green, he is often portrayed as “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor” alongside his band of Merry Men. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the late-medieval period, and continues to be widely represented in literature, films and television.

“Welcome, Robin!” Will greets the man now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how totally proud are you of your little cousin for getting his own talk show?”

Robin’s face – markedly like the host’s, particularly in the sparkling blue of his eyes – takes on a smile of good-natured irony. “Oh, I always knew you were destined for great things, Will. You’re just that sort.”

“Ha. Must be something in the genes. You, after all, are only one of THE biggest names in… pretty much ever.”

Well-developed shoulders shrug. “Maybe trailing behind King Arthur. But I’d never grudge a personal friend his extra dollop of fame.”

“Robin Hood and the Once and Future King, immortal BFFs. One doesn’t come across that trope very often.”

“Perhaps not,” Robin concedes. “But there is a longstanding precedent for the combination of my legend and Arthuriana. Look up the old tales of Sir Kay, some time.”

“Have you a personal favorite retelling of your tale?” Will inquires. “Or one that you consider truer to your character than the others?”

“A favorite,” Robin muses, calloused fingers drumming idly on a green-hosed knee as he contemplates the ceiling. “I don’t know that I could single out just one interpretation, but I would say I’ve got a type. Your Errol Flynns and such, the ones that embrace the romance and derring-do of it all, perhaps never minding any pretense of historical accuracy.

“There’s more of a trend these days to go all ‘grimdark’ and ‘gritty’ with everything, turning heroes into antiheroes and, I don’t know, adult-ing everything to the nth power. And that’s all very well, in its place. The world can get ugly, and that takes facing like a grownup. But when I see a little boy prancing through the Renaissance Faire with bow in hand and a pointed green cap on his head, or a little girl rallying her merry band to her side in the name of King Richard, or hear of someone on the Outside committing some act of civil disobedience in order to help the people that the law they’re circumventing can’t or won’t…” His eyes sparkle the brighter. “Those are the best Robin Hood stories I’ll ever know.”

“Pulling away from the legend,” says Will, “let’s talk a bit about the man. What is it you’d want readers and viewers and whatnot to know about you personally?”

“Just that,” says Robin, pointing. “That I am a man first, a legend second. I never aspired to this level of fame. I couldn’t have predicted it. Not saying that I regret or resent it, either. I don’t; usually. It just… all got so much bigger than me.” He spreads his hands, mouth crooked ruefully. “I was just a regular (albeit noble) medieval Englishman, trying to do the right thing, one action at a time. Next thing I know, I’ve got a wizard reviving me from a mortal wound and telling me on I’m TV.”

“Don’t it always seem to go?” Will says cheerily. “Speaking of the inevitable, it’s time for the final question. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” One eyebrow bows upward. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Hmm.” Robin rubs his chin in over-solemn thought. “Seems it would be against the Robin Hood code to betray a lady’s secrets.” A sigh. “Nothing for it, then, but to knock your socks off with the best kiss you’ve had since… well, the last time you found a reason to kiss me.”

With an exultant laugh, Will throws himself into Robin’s lap. “And this, sweet cousin, is why I’d follow you to the edge of eternity and back.” One mouth-to-mouth smooch later: “Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “and a number of enticing prizes for those who care to try for them, was brought to you by the Launch Week+ celebration of The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’ (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, jolly Robin! 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!”

“Ballad” Blackout Poetry

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And like my last post, this one features poetry, but of a different kind. Inspired, in large part, by the preferred art form of Victor Vale in V.E. Schwab’s genius anti-superhero novel, “Vicious”, these are blackout poems, or found poems – created by taking a page of text, selecting the words you wish to standout as an idea on their own, and blacking out the rest. A challenging but sometimes relaxing endeavor, I’ve found.

Below are a handful of such poems that presented themselves to me within snippets of “Ballad”. And because I’m of the opinion that most poems work best when not over-explained, I’m not going to tell you anything else about them, apart from their given titles. Poems’ text repeated below the pics, in case the images don’t show up for you. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

For Lumónd

For Lumond

Circle of the dark

Subtle gold light

(How are you real?)

Look

Understand

See the way

I see you

*

What We Were

What We Were

We were

Good – stunning – altruistic –

Hard – secret – not so secret –

Grim – dear – something approaching horror

Which were you?

*

Best Friendship

Best Friendship

Intimate friends

Which is to say,

Excessive fondness

Obvious dislike

Presence not very much minded

Difficult need

Laugh, elated

Something in some way extraordinary

*

Feel the Music

Feel the Music

Feel the music

Play a dance

Fly with abandon.

I will

*

For a Lover

For a Lover

A look (Take me)

An urgency known by heart in the heavy night (Bless the dark)

…And well into the next

<<<>>>

Voila! Those who’ve read “Ballad”, can you tell from where in the book I found the poems? Whether you’ve read “Ballad” or not, what’d you think of the poems? Do you have a favorite? If so, which and why? (Bear in mind, a blog comment is one of many ways you can enter my Rafflecopter giveaway, perchance to win cool prizes. *wiggles brows*) And to you who haven’t read “Ballad” because you’ve yet to order your copy, now’s the time to change that! It’s yours for the taking via Amazon, CreateSpace, SmashwordsBarnes & Noble, KoboOverDrive… Have at ye!

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

Which of each of the Merry Men’s quotes from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” most fully captures the essence of their respective characters?

Robin Hood: “Bureaucracy.😛 ”

Will Scarlet: “What’d I just vote for? Wasn’t listening for the first bit, but heard something about ‘Will Scarlet,’ so…”

Little John: “Hmm.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “Well. This discussion has been all very dispiriting, I must say, but I do regretfully conclude that it has no bearing whatsoever on what I have little choice but to do.”

Marion Hood: …

Will: Marion doesn’t seem to say a lot of quintessential-Marion things.

Marion: I’m trying to move the plot along. Y’all wanna sit around and soliloquize, and I’m over here like, We’re gonna die.

Shooting Hood in the Wood

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And after a few minutes knocking my head against the blank, white wall of the page, trying to figure out how I wanted to introduce this post and its gallery of images, I came to an inspired remembrance: That sometimes, that’s what bards are for.

So I’m stepping aside ‘til after the main event. Take it away, Allyn-a-Dale!

<<<>>>

An author with a love of tales –

Particularly those retold

About a certain outlaw

And his band merry and bold –

Herself betook and several books

Into the German wood,

To shoot (with camera, not a bow)

A show of Robin Hood.

McKinley 04

Among the many models,

An especial favorite:

A YA reimagining

By another Robin writ.

Cody 02

A new addition to her hoard,

Centered around a Will;

A little younger than her taste,

But she enjoyed it still.

Donald 02

Here, Angus Donald’s grimmer take,

Narrated by myself.

(And purchased, ere the shop passed on,

From a Bristol Ren Faire shelf!)

Lawhead 02

Another tale of Scarlet –

Second in a trilogy

That lends a sort of Celtic air

To Hood’s mythology.

Old Ballads 02

A chance find, and a happy one,

Among used books for sale.

Old ballads – many of Robin Hood;

One even with “Allin a Dale”!

Pyle 05

No such tribute’s complete, says she,

Without a nod to Pyle,

Seen here reposed upon a tree

In harmonizing style.

Shipley 04.2

And last of all, but far from least,

The author’s own addition:

A brand new ballad joins its tune

To the honored Hood’s tradition.

<<<>>>

Beautifully told, thank you, Allyn! There are a few more book-in-the-woods shots where these came from, which will most likely find themselves on display on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

On that subject, don’t forget that following the Outlaws Tumblr is but one of several ways you can enter into my ongoing Rafflecopter giveaway! I certainly hope you’ll take advantage by some means or another; there’s cool stuff to win!

And if you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to drop everything and purchase your copy of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! (Via Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive…Take your pick!) Or, if you’ve already read the book, leave a review! Both are not only ways to earn giveaway points, but to fill an author’s sails with a blessed breeze.❤

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

What if robin hood were a woman?

Marion raises a brow. “She might have mentioned that before our wedding.”

The Grilling of Allyn-a-Dale (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.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

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?”

Allyn looks at his notes, then performs a double take. “It’s… me.”

“Oh, yes? How’s our author describe you?”

“It says,

He’s really something different, that Allyn-a-Dale, but I do believe that under that pathetically earnest exterior, there’s actually some real spirit, and maybe even a modicum of fun.

“Apt,” Will assesses.

Allyn regards him pointedly. “The quote’s from you.”

“And I totally called it. Welcome, Allyn-a-Dale!” Will greets as Allyn grimly picks up his hat and lute and relocates to the chair across from Will’s own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how excited are you that your first novel is finally out?!”

“Somewhat, I suppose,” says the minstrel, curved over his instrument. “That is, I gather that it’s a big deal. I’m certainly quite pleased for Danielle. She has long awaited this release.”

“Well, yeah, but we can listen to her talk about her writerly feelings anytime. This is about you.”

Allyn grimaces. “I never asked for that.”

“Not big on the whole ‘main character’ thing, huh?”

A vigorous shake of the head sets the plume on his hat wagging. “Not by half. That was Father’s business. And I was entirely content to trail in his shadow throughout the concluding Wilderhark Tale*.” He droops. “I’d have gladly carried on like that indefinitely, if he hadn’t died.”

*(Author’s note: “The Story’s End”, currently just 99 cents for Kindle, just like every other Wilderhark Tale! Grab ’em all!)

“But he did,” says Will, not ungently. “Meaning it’s your turn in the spotlight. What did you do when Danielle looked you up with a story proposal, once upon NaNoWriMo 2010?”

Allyn shrugs a shoulder. “I let her find me. I made a start of finding myself with her. The first half of Chapter One was a difficult beginning, but I realized I couldn’t droop along dejectedly forever. A protagonist must be proactive. If I was to be made a main character against my will, I determined that I must strive to be a good one.”

“A brave move, Allyn-a-Dale. And oh, speaking of your will…” Will flashes an expectant grin. “What were your thoughts upon first meeting me? And, y’know, the other Merry Men, but mostly me?”

Allyn’s eyes roll over his smile. “I thought you all more or less peculiar, with you the strangest of all. And I stand by that early impression. Even so, you were on the whole a warm and welcoming group. It was only a matter of time before I began to feel I belonged to you.”

“As you should,” Will approves. “Now, you call yourself a minstrel. What does that mean to you?”

“Why, everything!” says Allyn, straightening at last. “We bards are the voice of music. Father practically had it down to a religion, with him the self-appointed high priest. He left his own lute to my care in good faith, and I endeavor to honor that with my whole heart.”

“So riddle me this,” says Will. “If you could only be one – a strong protagonist, a Merry Man, or a minstrel – which would you choose to be?”

Allyn’s fair face pales further. “That is a choice most cruel. I should need all the strength I could muster to survive the doom you set before me. But if I could have but one, I would dutifully choose minstrelsy, and sing forever a lonesome lament of the friends left behind in Sherwood.”

Will heaves a sigh. “Yeah, that sounds like the Allyn I know.  Let’s lighten things up with one last question. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He winks in slow-mo. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Allyn regards him, his fingers slowly taking up a tune on his lute. “Do you know,” he says impassively, “how close our author came to leaving you out of the book?”

Will stiffens. “Say what?”

“In the brainstorming stage. She was at first undecided whether to round out the band with a Will Scarlet or a Much the Miller’s Son. ‘Twas no more than the luck of a coin-flip, her settling on you in the end.”

“Dear God!” Will cries. “It wouldn’t be the same story at all without me! A literary apocalypse, that’s what we’d be looking at! I think I’m blacking out…”

“Breathe, Will,” says Allyn, rising to deliver the word from our sponsor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment – and a number of enticing prizes for those who care to try for them – was brought to you by the Launch Week+ celebration of ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’ (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says, more or less recovered. “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!”

As told by Robin Hood and LOTR

Hello. Robin Hood, here.

Yes, THE Robin Hood. Unless you’re thinking of another of the countless versions of me. We’re kind of everywhere. For our purposes here, though, consider me “the real one”.

So, maybe you’ve not heard, but it’s Launch Week+ for “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale, the first of a novel trilogy featuring me, my merry band of outlaws, a bit of Arthuriana, Rennie culture, spontaneous song numbers… now I think it over, it really features quite a lot. And somehow, it’s fallen to me to summarize it for you – (with “Lord of the Rings” gifs. Because my author has no sense of restraint) – so you can get a feel for what the book’s about and realize just how desperately you wish to read it.

Ready? Same. Here we go.

Our story’s inciting incident takes place in a picturesque land, far, faraway…

LotR_01_tumblr_mju2ozL3Id1s8dzsqo4_250

…that’s on the verge of falling to Darkness.

Lotr_02_giphy

As the prophecy foretold.

Of course, as far as our hero, Allyn-a-Dale, is concerned, the world’s already ended, because his father just died.

Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes

Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes

Fortunately, a living wind blows Allyn away from the encroaching doom via magic portal, because that’s just the kind of world it was.

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So Allyn lands in a forest that turns out to be part of another magic world – this one with Faeries…

LotR_05_tumblr_o5fs20Ln8X1rol0uno1_250

…and Merlin…

LotR_06_tumblr_lz36lsbVoN1qixiueo1_500

200% accurate

…who, unbeknownst to everyone living outside his little Renaissance Faire haven, has been looking after a crackerjack team of medieval heroes…

It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.

It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.

…including a certain legendary archer.

LotR_08_tumblr_ne7fc69EvT1s4s7m3o1_500

Which is all very well and debatably idyllic until something, shall we say, Precious is taken.

LotR_09_giphy

Only one thing to be done about it.

Hit the road.

LotR_10_tumblr_o65prvuiAY1s3ulybo3_250

Act like bosses.

LotR_11a_giphy

LotR_11b_giphy

Get it back.

When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing

When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing.

How’s that work out for us? Best way to find out is to read the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! Now available for purchase via Amazon (e-book and paperback), CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive… Basically anywhere they’ll take your money for it is a go.

(No theft, if you please. That’s my business.😉 )

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

who would win in a fight: merlin or gandalf

Merlin doesn’t fight. He has People for that.

The Mega-Launch of Allyn-a-Dale

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

Launch Week? Pfft, no. That’s so Wilderhark Tales. I’ve been waiting on this book’s release since NaNoWriMo 2010. This volume’s the first act in the trilogy of my heart. No way is this Launch Week.

It’s Launch Week+!

A solid month of all things “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! …Which you can at long last purchase in paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace! E-books available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and I’m pretty sure it’s on iBooks, too, but I don’t have the app, so I can’t tell. If any of you happen to purchase “Ballad” through Apple, feel free to flash me the high sign.

In honor of “Ballad”s release, e-copies of its prequel series, The Wilderhark Tales, are price-dropped on Amazon to just 99 cents each, now through July 31! If you haven’t yet, now’s the perfect time to stock your Kindle / e-reader with the collection of stories from Allyn’s pre-Avalon world. Start here with Book One!

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 5

And because I’ve yet to have a Launch Anything without a giveaway, naturally I wanna make it rain with prizes, including:

– A Map of Avalon Faire – Merry Men-signed! (5 winners)

– A Tote Bag from the Ever On Word shop on Society6 – winner gets their pick of any in-store design! (1 winner)

– A paperback copy of “Grace the Mace” by Tirzah Duncan – because she’s my BFF and I support her art (1 winner)

– A custom “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” bookmark created by Chelsea de la Cruz – because she’s another BFF and she supports my art with her art! (1 winner)

To get in on the giveaway, you can hop over to the Rafflecopter and rack up entry points by… buying “Ballad”! Reviewing “Ballad”! Adding “Ballad” to your Goodreads shelf! Leaving blog post comments! Following me on Twitter! Et cetera. You’ve got options, is what I’m sayin’.

And speaking of blog posts: Here, for your convenience, is a look at Ever On Word’s schedule for “Ballad”-related fun (complete with placeholder titles which may or may not give you much idea about the content to come).

Tuesday, July 12 = Introductory Post (you are here)

Thursday, July 14 = An Illustrated Summary of “Ballad”, as told by [wait and see!]

Saturday, July 16 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #1

Monday, July 18 = Shooting Hood in the Wood

Wednesday, July 20 = “Ballad” Blackout Poetry

Friday, July 22 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #2

Monday, July 25 = Diversity and Stuff

Wednesday, July 27 = The Many Faces of Will ‘n’ Allyn

Friday, July 29 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #3

Tuesday, August 2 = The Songs of “Ballad”, as performed by me

Friday, August 5 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #4

Tuesday, August 9 = The Bloopers of Allyn-a-Dale

Friday, August 12 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell #5, and Giveaway Winners Announced

Also, every post (minus the Kiss & Tell interviews, ‘cause I’m arbitrary like that) is going to end with a bonus treat: A selection from a little giggle project I call #HypotheticalFAQs! (Because until “Ballad” starts pulling in some actual frequently asked questions, Will Scarlet and I are not above making them up.)

Anyone else hyped yet? ‘Cause I’m darn hyped, and super looking forward to sharing all this stuff with you – most especially, the book.❤

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

For each of the Merry Men: What’s one weird thing people don’t know about you?

Robin Hood: “I seriously thought I was going to grow up to be a priest or something.”

Marion Hood: “My eye color. My author’s never been able to decide whether it’s brown or green-hazel or what.”

Will Scarlet: “I am unaccountably fascinated by chickens.”

Little John: “I’m fluent in six languages.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “I would quite honestly rather die than give up a private truth on the Internet.”

A Few Bars of BALLAD: Stanza Three

To my readership in the U.S., Happy Independence Day, one day late! And Happy Release Day, one week early, to “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”!

Today marks the end of the pre-order campaign, though you can still pre-order the e-book (AmazonSmashwords… Barnes & Noble…) right up until next week, at which time the gorgeous paperback will launch into official availability as well. In the meanwhile…

1) “Ballad” and I had the pleasure of being featured on the Clockwork Bibliophile blog of Shannon Haggerty. Enjoy the interview at your leisure; it’s a good’un.

2) As a last hurrah before the BIG hurrah, it’s time for one more [abridged] sneak peek into the book!

Having worked with a professional man-o’-music once or twice before (hi-i-i, Gant-o’-the-Lute), I knew going into the writing of “Ballad” that a novel centering around Robin Hood’s legendary minstrel would by necessity feature its share of music. That means the lyrical prose which, to hear the remarks of reviewers, has become something of a Danielle E. Shipley signature – not to mention literal lyrics, every time Allyn informed his author it was time to insert a song.

Novel, The Musical

The following excerpt showcases the non-literal, narrative kind of lyricism as our protagonist finds himself out of the world he knew and inside the magical world of Avalon Faire. Our first sneak peek gave of us a glimpse of the isle’s Renaissance Faire disguise. Below, if you keep quiet in the trees, you’ll get an eyeful – and an earful – of the true, Fey heart of the place…

It was quiet here. Or he’d thought it so, at first. But Allyn felt, even before his ears quite heard, the faintest strains of music. It did not sound as if the music’s source could be too far off. And even if it were, what had Allyn to lose by turning to follow it? So follow he did, over the weighty, flat land, through the sharp, colorless wood, until the trees thinned almost to ending, and Allyn could make out the lawn beyond, and the people gathered upon it.

Such people! And yet at first, Allyn was hardly aware of them, so enthralled was he by the sound of their music. High and sweet as the love songs of courting birds, the melody of pipes and flutes lilted through the air. Beneath, an aural tapestry of lusty color and texture, woven by the strings. The light percussive beat of drums and bells kept the frolicsome time to which the men and women danced around a leaping fire, and it was their dancing that made Allyn-a-Dale take note of them at last.

[…] No humans he had ever seen could dance as these people could — so full of spirited, easy grace, in spite of this ground which pulled so hard. And yet, if they were not human, then Allyn could not begin to guess what they were. Not winds, from his limited experience; the evening air held calm around them. Nor was there any golden glow of the Sun in them, though Allyn might have conceded a touch of starlight about their night-dark skin. And what, Allyn wondered, as his gaze focused in closer to their ethereal faces, was he supposed to make of their ears? One and all, their ears tapered up into a dainty, leaf-like point.

…No, not all. There was one among them whose ears were wholly unremarkable — or, in the context of the others with her, quite the opposite. Her lithe figure danced along the inner circle of the lawn, her gown swirling just out of reach of the fire. Her long curls fell around her in a dark cascade, nearly black but for the subtle sheen of gold the firelight revealed. Her eyes, too, were of darkest gold, and all but caused Allyn to gasp aloud when he realized they were staring right at him.

Her look was difficult to understand. She appeared neither surprised to see the youth watching from the wood, nor in any way offended. She did not even appear curious. The look she gave him seemed to say, “I see you” — nothing more. And Allyn hadn’t the least idea how he was meant to react.

“Go over there and introduce yourself, of course,” he could hear Father say. “Give her the ol’ minstrel hello!”

The minstrel hello, Allyn repeated, lips twitching their way into something betwixt a smile and a grimace of exasperation. Is there anything that minstrels do not have in a category all to themselves?

“Nothing at all,” Father’s voice laughed. “We’re special that way.”

Allyn shook his head. I’ll not force myself upon festivities to which I’ve not been expressly invited, he thought. However, we might see what may be done in the way of a minstrel hello.

After first pulling a little further back into the trees, his bashful spirit still unsure whether he truly wanted his presence known, Allyn withdrew his lute from its place at his back. Then, his heart’s rhythm aligned to the drums of the sharp-eared folk, their harmonies washing over and through him like a gentle rain, softly — reverentially — he began to join in their song.

Could they hear it, he wondered? Or sense it, this new line of lutesong threading its way through the established tapestry of the strings? If yes, would they welcome it? If no, would he care? If all he did tonight was become a part of the music — if not a part of the company of music-makers — and no one anywhere but he himself was aware of it, would that not, if only for these few minutes, be enough?

Here I am, new world, his fingers played his shy minstrel hello. Wherever I am, I’m here.

And we, too, can say “hello” to the new, magical world of Avalon Faire in just one! More! Week!

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Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

Coming July 12!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!