Troll the Ancient Dickens Carol

We’ve still got several sleeps to go ‘til Christmas, but the holiday cheer is here with the release of “An Avalon Christmas Carol (An Outlaws of Avalon Novella)”! The e-book’s on Amazon for only 99 cents, so you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy, stuff it into your stocking e-reader today!

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To celebrate, here are 12 Days of Christmas fun facts about the book, its making and inspirations, etc.:

1 = Some of my stories take days, weeks, months, or even years to plan. But I had my little “Christmas Carol” spoof mapped out start to finish in just one day!

2 = …With the second day spent re-reading the Charles Dickens original, to thoroughly familiarize myself with the sandbox I’d be playing in.

3 = Perhaps my favorite characters to cast were the three Spirits. I don’t want to give away who’s who (let the readers be surprised, Danielle!), so let’s just say that some parallels presented themselves very nicely.

4 = The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy focuses more on the Sherwood side of things, leaving the Camelot crowd to take a backseat. But mourn ye not, Arthuriana fans! I’ve got a novel planned just for the Once and Future King ‘n’ ‘em, too. And in the meantime, we’ve got the holiday novella, which gives us our first glimpse into the mind of my Merlin.

5 = Here’s a blast from Christmas Past: Perhaps my earliest “Christmas Carol”-related memory is watching a stage production of the story and feeling bewildered as to why the show would end with Scrooge on the floor, traumatized by his visit from Marley’s ghost. Turns out it was only intermission. Little Danielle was much relieved.

6 = My all-time favorite “Christmas Carol” character? The ever-merry Nephew Fred. No wonder Will Scarlet was so quick to snatch up the role in the parody. ;D

7 = Do you know, I’m not even sure why I love “A Christmas Carol” so much. Apart from Fred, it’s not the characters. It’s not that the plot grips me, or the message that speaks to me. It’s just… always been there, in one telling or another. Its familiarity makes it feel cozy and comfortable and, well, like Christmas. Guess I’m kind of a sucker for nostalgia. X)

8 = Gracious, 12 facts is a lot…

9 = Brainstorming cover ideas before artist Hannah Vale offered her services, I’d considered trying to get a photo of my lute Rosie in the snow. Allyn looked askance at that notion, and was glad I went the commissioned illustration route. Rosie probably is, too.

10 = Talking of lutes, it’s possible (unlikely, but possible) I could’ve gotten though “Avalon Christmas Carol” without a minstrel song number from little Allyn/Tiny Tim, if Dickens hadn’t straight-up written:

…And by and by they had a song, about a lost child travelling in the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, and sang it very well indeed.

Welp. That did it. Destiny spake. Hence Allyn’s “Little Lost Winter Traveler” song.

11 = …Which I recently figured out how to play on Rosie.

12 = You can watch us perform the song here!

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And that is that. Off you go, now. Buy. Read. Tell your friends. (Review!) And God bless us, every one.❤

Sneak Peek: An Avalon Christmas Carol

The December 6th release of “An Avalon Christmas Carol” – essentially, the Outlaws of Avalon Holiday Special™ – is only a week away! To mark the occasion, here’s an early glimpse into the e-novella’s opening pages. Y’know. So you can get an idea of what you’re in for. ;D

<<<>>>

“A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

Merlin looked up from his paperwork, his brows – a silvery gray a match for the beard hanging low from his chin – drawn down in irritated surprise. “Excuse me?”

“A Merry Christmas, I say!” cried the young man again, his handsome, ruddy face aglow with smiles for the ancient wizard behind the desk on the low dais at the office’s rear. “And God save you!”

“That he save me from your foolishness, Mr. Scarlet, is my daily prayer,” said Merlin, glowering over his spectacles. “What’s all this ‘uncle’ business? And what in the world are you supposed to be dressed like?”

“Oh, this?” said Will Scarlet, tipping his top hat to a subtly more rakish angle over his red-gold hair. The accessory added an air of style to the outfit which included a vaguely shabby dress coat (burgundy red) and heavy woolen scarf (faded vermillion) informally tossed over one shoulder. “Isn’t it a riot?” He grinned. “Just screams ‘nineteenth-century man about London.’ I thought it the very thing to wear Out caroling this evening!”

“Out caroling?” Merlin repeated, disbelieving.

“Yes, you know – going house to house, cheery candles raised high, singing jolly tunes and being offered warming treats like cider and chocolate and cookies and figgy pudding, one can only hope,” he laughed, “since goodness knows we won’t go until we get some!…”

“Nonsense!” Merlin cut him off curtly.

Will’s brilliant blue eyes blinked in astonishment. “Christmas caroling nonsense, uncle! You don’t mean that, I’m sure?”

“I do.”

“But it’s Christmas Eve!”

“Yes, I am in possession of a calendar. But I don’t see what the day has to do with your going Outside to torture people with your attempts to carry a tune, let alone your insistence on naming me your uncle. You know perfectly well that you’ll not be leaving the Faire – not for caroling, nor for any reason short of a dire emergency of the sort we faced this past summer.”

Will’s lips puckered into the beginnings of a pout. “Why not?”

The wizard’s pale blue gaze was hard and sharp as flint. “Really, Mr. Scarlet?”

“All right, all right, I know your so-called reasons why. Maintenance of secrecy, avoidance of death, so forth and etc. You don’t have to be so cross about it.”

“Don’t have to be so cross about it…” Merlin muttered, halfway to himself. “What else can I be, when I live in a world with such a fool as this? If you don’t have anything more important to speak of than empty plans and ‘Merry Christmas,’ then good afternoon.”

“It would be a great deal of fun, you know,” Will Scarlet wheedled.

“Good afternoon,” Merlin said again.

“I don’t see the harm in our going, just this one night. It needn’t be far, it wouldn’t be long, and you know you’d be invited to come along, right? You’re what, a baritone? I’m sure we could work out some killer harmonies…”

“Good afternoon.”

Will sighed. “I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute and so much the definition of a spoilsport. But I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last (with little thanks to you). So a Merry Christmas, uncle!”

“Good afternoon.”

“And a Happy New Year!”

“GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Merlin bellowed.

“Getting out of your office,” Will said cheerfully, already tripping backward to the door. “Good afternoon, by the way.”

<<<>>>

christmas-carol-cover-w-text

Sorry, Merlin, but the shenanigans only go deeper down from here – as hinted at in the book’s blurb…

Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that

And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?

In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.

One week to go, then we’re ringing in the Christmas season, Outlaws of Avalon style! Feel free to pre-order and/or add to your Goodreads “to read” list now!

Cover Reveal: Outlaws of Avalon 2

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It’s the week of Thanksgiving (here in America; pretty sure the Canadians already had theirs), and today I’m thankful that it’s finally time to show the world the face of the Trilogy Of My Heart, Part 2 – more officially titled, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2).

If you’ve been following along with my GoFundMe (thanks again to all the wonderful people who spread the word of the campaign and/or donated to fund the cover!), you’ve already read the book’s summary…

There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.

As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.

…as well as a number of sneak-peeky snippets.

“Villain!” cried Sir Liam.

“So some have called me,” said the archer, nodding. “Still others call me simply ‘Robin Hood.’”

*

“This new ‘Marriage’ show is going to be a big hit with our Robin Hood fans!”

“Is that a bona fide Merlin prophecy, or old-fashioned optimism?”

“Logical extrapolation, boy. People who love everything to do with Robin Hood will tend to love everything to do with Robin Hood. With math that basic, who needs prophecy?”

*

“A three-judge panel? Excellent beginning! Robin, you can be the cool, charming one, Marion can play the ultra-encouraging one who could find something positive to say about a tone-deaf kitten trying for the lead in ‘Lassie: The Musical,’ and lucky Allyn, you get to be the vicious one who tears everything he sees and hears scathingly apart!”

“Starting with this idea?” said Allyn.

Now it’s time to unveil what my donors’ generosity and the combined talent of Lars and Milan van de Goor have produced. Y’all ready?

Here it is.

Front!…

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…And full spread!

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Can I get an “OOH-ahhhh”?! It’s just what I was looking for to accompany the multi-layered love story that is #MARRIAGEofAaD. Soft and spring-like, floral and fey… and, naturally, featuring the all-important lute.

Full novel release = coming in March, 2017!

Call for advance read-‘n’-reviewers = coming in January!

The book’s addition to your Goodreads “to read” list = could happen right now!

Other Outlaws of Avalon goodness (specifically, “An Avalon Christmas Carol”) = currently available for pre-order!

Your thoughts on the newly-revealed cover = in the comments, if you wish it. ^-^

Happy Thanksgiving Week, everyone!

I Quit; Here’s Why

As of November 6th, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I signed up because it’s tradition – as much a part of my Novembers as going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

I signed up because I always think back to my first NaNo in 2010. The rush of the race. The camaraderie on the forums. The blessing of making my Avalon outlaws’ acquaintance.

I signed up because I said I would. I said it because I felt I had to. Felt like I needed someone’s permission not to participate, or a Valid Reason™ not to.

Well, I’m giving myself permission, and declaring my reasons’ validity.

nanowrimo_2016_quitting

I quit because this year, my heart doesn’t have the energy to throw its whole self into a project of any ambition.

I quit because over the first less-than-a-week of this year’s NaNo, I started stories that I quickly became too scared to continue, because how could I give them the tender attention they needed in the scant hours between the new day job and bedtime?

I quit because the NaNo numbers game is not playing well with my depression, and does not suit my process right now.

I quit because I’d rather let myself fall in love with a few hundred words every day – or every two days, or a few days here and there with a rest in between – than miserably churn out thousands of words I don’t have the wherewithal to care about.

I quit because, if I can’t relax into writing, then for the sake of my mental, emotional, and physical health, I really need to let myself find that rejuvenating downtime somewhere else.

I quit this arbitrary writing deadline so that instead I can read and color, play music and play with my nephew, take walks through autumn’s glory, and maybe sometimes just do nothing – all without a self-imposed burden of guilt.

I quit because, contrary to my anxiety’s belief, I don’t actually have anything to prove by forcing myself on.

I quit because I already know I have the discipline to make myself finish NaNo. Now it’s time to exercise one of my weaker strengths: The strength to say “no” and walk away.

I quit because, just as you can come out of a NaNo a winner even without hitting 50K, there are ways to lose even if you do.

So auf Wiedersehen, NaNoWriMo. Maybe next year. Peace out.

(Emphasis, I hope, on peace.)

Cover Reveal: An Avalon Christmas Carol

Once upon a November some years ago, an author was struck with inspiration: Why not combine the characters from what would prove itself the favorite of her series with her hands-down favorite Victorian-era Christmas tale? Y’know; for funzies.

That author, of course – *solemn nods* – was me.

Those characters and that series were the Outlaws of Avalon – with a liberal dose of Avalon’s enigmatic wizard.

That Victorian-era Christmas tale was… well, I expect you could easily guess.

That parody project became a novella with unexpected depth.

And with hearty thanks to the artistic prowess of Hannah Vale – (an artist friend made at, wouldn’t you know it, a Renaissance Faire) – Ever On Word is proud to present the cover of…

An Avalon Christmas Carol

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IS. IT. NOT. EXQUISITE? The holly in the snow! The Fey lights in the tree! The LUTE! Never has a cover illustration been so perfectly in the spirit of both Christmas and Avalon Faire. And speaking of spirits, here’s the book’s blurb:

Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that

And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?

In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.

Things to know about the book:

– It awaits your “Want to Read” click on Goodreads here.

– It will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon. Official release date = December 6th.

– For the immediate future, it will be available solely on Amazon, and exclusively as an e-book.

– But hey, it’ll only cost 99 cents! A Christmas steal!

– …Especially considering that the book will also include two bonus parodies, AND an excerpt from Outlaws of Avalon, Book Two!

So don’t let this holiday season pass you by without this magic-packed book in your virtual hands! Get your copy! Spread the joyous tidings to your friends! And do let me and/or Hannah know:

What do you think of the cover? ^o^

What Is Even Happening

We* interrupt this delightful run of flash fiction to bring you a report on current events!

*By which I mean “me, myself, and I”. Unless some character or another decides to jump in with their two cents.

First off, yes, I’ve bid Germany farewell and am back safe and sound in the States. ‘Twas a grand adventure, while it lasted – running on and off from one autumn to another – but I’m glad to be home with my family. And I was all set to chill out in a recovery coma for a few weeks, but then, rather suddenly…

I got a job!

A second job, I should say, since obviously I’m already an author at work. It’s just, y’know, I thought it’d be financially pleasant to also hold down a gig that comes with steady pay. Hence my new data entry position over at [name/location omitted for privacy]. Here’s hoping all goes well, and doesn’t throw too much of a wrench into my plans for…

NaNoWriMo!

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Another National Novel Writing Month is here – the first I’ve ever done while working a full-time day job.

Couple that with the body-and-spirit exhaustion that slowed down my project plotting (or even project settling-upon-and-sticking-with) in October, and who even knows what trying to draft this novel will be like? …or if it will even be a “novel” so much as it is a bunch of fiction-y words just trying to get by together. But I’ll give it my best heroic effort. And speaking of truly great heroes

There’s more Outlaws of Avalon on the way!

To help tide us all over until Book Two drops in the spring, I’ll be releasing a special little stocking stuffer this December: “An Avalon Christmas Carol”. (On Goodreads here.) Eyes open, everyone – the cover reveal’s coming next week!

“It will be gorgeous,” Allyn informs you.

“And the book itself? Too much fun!” Will assures.

So ends today’s broadcast. Any cool news of your own? Toss it in the comments.

Of the H[e]art and Home

Today, for your reading pleasure, a piece of flash fiction inspired by a piece discovered via deviartART. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“But why aren’t you happy?” they asked him. “Who could ask for a more beautiful beach?”

That, Deer thought, was just the trouble. He wasn’t asking for a beach at all.

He supposed it was a pretty place, objectively. White-golden sand with sun-sparkled water. Very… bright. Open. Terrifying.

How could he feel safe with nowhere to hide? Where it seemed like the whole of the sea and the sky could watch him, not to mention all the eyes of the others. He wished for sheltering shadows. He longed for a piece of aloneness.

He asked – without knowing how to ask – for home.

And then, one day, he smelled it, brought over the sea on the wind. Earthier than sand and driftwood. A cleaner wet than the ocean. Green… a greener scent than he had ever known.

Deer followed his nose to the shoreline, looked up through the clouds laid low on the horizon, and there it was: A dream of trees. A fancy of a forest. The wish of his soul, but how could he reach it, this woodland in the air?

“Help me,” he whispered – to the woods, to anyone.

The sound was lost in the sudden rush of a storm, blasting through the smooth, pale sky in a swell of sickly purple and black. Thunder boomed, and to Deer’s horror, a lash of lightning struck one of the far-off forest’s trees. With a gut-turning crack, the tree began its groaning fall, and Deer fell to his knees in the sand, heartsick with fright.

If even his dream was no safe haven, what hope was left to him?

WHUMP.

Deer jumped up to his hooves with a cry. Not two leaps away, the top of the stricken tree lay in the sand. How tall it must have stood, for its fall to have stretched so far – from the beach, all the long way back to…

The forest.

High above, the storm was gone as fast as it had come. No more lightning-lit thunderclaps. No wind but the breeze caught in the fallen tangle of branches. The fluttering green of the leaves beckoned. What are you waiting for?

Deer looked up with amazement into the overhead blue. To think the sky from which he’d itched to hide would grant him such a kindness.

“Thank you,” he said. “For understanding.”

Joy in his bones, home in his eyes, he leapt onto the tree-bridge and ran.

“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland - http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969

“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland – http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969

<<<>>>

(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )