Mini Muses: Behind the Mystery

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head” (both newly available for preorder on Kindle, here and here!), were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Allyn-a-Dale, minstrel to Robin Hood’s Merry Men

As Featured In…: “The Story’s End” (The Wilderhark Tales, Book 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Yves / Avelaine, the boy who dances with death*

*(Which is… not actually how I’ve ever described him, but Allyn just slipped that in there on his own reconnaissance, and I mean, sure, that works)

Mini Muses_Allyn and Yves

How Do You Feel You and Avelaine Are Most Similar?: Allyn stares aesthetically into the distance. “I, too, dance with death… Rather, death’s shadow has loomed large over my life since before my first breath, so I’ve developed some psychoses around it. Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell. And we’re both small, which may not be hell’s fault, and speak with charming accents.”

Most Different?: “Avelaine dances, and harbors a fear of heights. I, canonically, am almost never seen dancing, and I mostly fear social situations, or my dearest loved ones dying violently before my eyes.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Literarily speaking, I best like the ‘Manta and the Mask’ short story embedded in Book 1. Otherwise, it’s this snippet from Book 2.”

“Dur-hur,” said Uri. “I suppose next you’ll tell me how when you were sixteen, you had to run a mile in full armor to meet the lances of your enemies, uphill both ways in the snow.”

Wilbur’s voice hinted at laughter. “Not ‘til I entered the knighthood at twenty, no. The uphill runs in the snow at sixteen were to chase down wayward sheep.”

“I was suffering child abuse,” Avelaine put in from a step behind them. “Uphill. Both ways.”

“’Twould seem Avelaine and I share a similar sense of humor.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “First off, I dislike choosing favorites, so how dare you. Second, I suppose I’ll say Wilbur, because he’s the nearest thing Avelaine has to his own personal Will Scarlet – in the ‘band brother’ sense, not the ‘high-key maniac’ one. You’ve developed another character for that…”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Allyn! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Allyn-a-Dale or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

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Lightbulb Moments: Art Doesn’t Need a Box

Inspired Journal Cover 12, frontAs lately announced, I have crossed a dream off my bucket list and designed a journal, inspired by (appropriately enough) “Inspired”, and its sequel, “Out of My Head” – all three to be released on March 13th (just one month from now, holy moo!).

Because, c’mon. “Inspired” co-protagonist Annabelle lives for her scribble-filled notebooks. And gosh knows she came by that honestly, because I too am a sucker for a gorgeous journal, as “Lightbulb Moments” will definitely be – filled with quotes from both “Inspired” novels, done up so fancy-like that you better believe I’m using some of them as designs in the Ever On Word shop on Society6. For example, a page taken from this little snippet of “Out of My Head”:

“I’m magic!” Mach howls happily. “And that’s what had Luc in a bother. The man’s allergic to wonder and whimsy. He wants art kept neat and tidy between the lines. […] Our story drew its own lines. Some people can’t handle anything outside their little box. But that’s okay! ‘Cause why? ‘Cause art doesn’t need a box to be fantastic!

 

S6_Doesn't Need a Box, travel mug

As of now, the above design is available for purchase on tote bags and travel mugs, stickers and greeting cards… even its very own notebook. ;D

Society6 tryptich_Doesn't Need a Box

As for “Lightbulb Moments” in its full glory, I’ll be giving one lucky somebody a free copy on April 17th. Why then? One, it’s a good friend’s birthday, so I’ve got better odds of remembering the date. Two, it’s a good month after the release of “Inspired” and “Out of My Head”, meaning it’ll give everybody a decent chunk of time to read and review one or both of the books on Amazon, which is – you guessed it! – exactly how you get an entry in the giveaway. Just link me to your review before the April deadline (review both books for double your chances of winning!), and a free “Lightbulb Moments” journal could be yours.

“But wait!” you may cry. “What if I’m a slower reader who needs a little extra time to get through and review a book?” Good news: Advance review PDFs of the “Inspired” novels ARE available! Ask in good faith, and ye shall receive.

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Stick around throughout the next weeks leading up to Release Day, because more peeks into the journal / new Ever On Word shop designs will be coming your way. ‘Til then, my friends…

~ Happy Writing

Mini Muses: Behind the Knight

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head”, were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Edgwyn Wyle, tailor*

*(Tailored service, while you wait; the wait’s well worth Wyle)

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 2 – 7)

“Inspired” Counterpart: Sir Wilbur Lamb, knight of The Order of the Dove

Mini Muses_Edg and Wilbur

How Do You Feel You and Wilbur Are Most Similar?: “Oh, in many ways. Our personalities are basically twins. We love people, and live to care for them. And ‘people’,” he laughs, “very much includes our horses. We’ve also both borne the dubious honor of being our author’s crush. …though I believe he handled it better.”

Most Different?: “He’s much more physically inclined than I am. Not that I haven’t been known to carry an enchanted princess down a beanstalk, when circumstances call for it. But he sees stuffed dummies as a faux opponent for battle exercises; I see them as a place to pin a ball gown in the making. I appear to also be the more outgoing, of the two of us. A bashful sheep, dear Wilbur can often be.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Can it be from Book 2? Oh, good. I like the chapter wherein Wilbur attends a service at Annabelle’s church. It’s a little emotionally trying, in its way, but so very sweet and sincere. Refreshing, too, to see a story where religion isn’t the focus still take a few pages to establish the characters’ spiritual side. I don’t recall having seen that done particularly often, in fiction.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “High goodness, that’s difficult. Ask me to pick among my friends, why don’t you! But perhaps I would say Uri, because … well, this bit says it well.”

“Wait,” said Wilbur, rising after her and – to much face-making on Uri’s part – pulling her into a hug. “How whole you are,” he murmured. “And how much fuller you’ve become since first I knew you.”

“Thanks, man. You’re nice and full-figured, too. Can we not hug?”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Wyle! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Edgwyn or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Lightbulb Moments: You’ve Got to Start Somewhere

What I hope you know = My re-release of “Inspired” and first-time release of its sequel, “Out of My Head” are coming in – *checks calendar* – ohmygosh, just 6 more weeks!

What you may not know (given that I believe this is my first time officially announcing it) = Along with the novels, I’ll be releasing one more special treat. Presenting, the cover of…

Lightbulb Moments: An Inspired Journal

Inspired Journal Cover 12, front

That’s right, readers o’ mine. I have crossed a dream off my bucket list and designed a journal. Because, c’mon. “Inspired” co-protagonist Annabelle lives for her scribble-filled notebooks. And gosh knows she came by that honestly, because I too am a sucker for a gorgeous journal, as “Lightbulb Moments” will definitely be – filled with quotes from both “Inspired” novels, done up so fancy-like that you better believe I’m using some of them as designs in the Ever On Word shop on Society6. For example, a page taken from this little snippet of “Inspired”:

“Well, there’s always an alternate universe! A happier one,” I say firmly. “And after that … or before that? … ugh, who even knows? There are too many stories out there! And I do mean that in the best way possible.”

“Well,” says a smiling, shrugging Wilbur, “you’ve got to start somewhere.”

“Phew. Okay. Priorities. Into the huddle, Guys,” I say. “We’ve got some brainstorming to do.”

S6_Start Somewhere 01 - Copy

As of now, the above design is available for purchase on tote bags and travel mugs, stickers and greeting cards… even its very own notebook. ;D

Society6 tryptich_Start Somewhere

As for “Lightbulb Moments” in its full glory, I’ll be giving one lucky somebody a free copy on – *re-checks calendar* – April 17th. Why then? One, it’s a good friend’s birthday, so I’ve got better odds of remembering the date. Two, it’s a good month after the release of “Inspired” and “Out of My Head”, meaning it’ll give everybody a decent chunk of time to read and review one or both of the books on Amazon, which is – you guessed it! – exactly how you get an entry in the giveaway. Just link me to your review before the April deadline (review both books for double your chances of winning!), and a free “Lightbulb Moments” journal could be yours.

“But wait!” you may cry. “What if I’m a slower reader who needs a little extra time to get through and review a book?” Good news: Advance review PDFs of the “Inspired” novels ARE available! Ask in good faith, and ye shall receive.

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Stick around throughout the next weeks leading up to Release Day, because more peeks into the journal / new Ever On Word shop designs will be coming your way. ‘Til then, my friends…

~ Happy Writing

Mini Muses: Behind the Light

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head”, were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Gant-o’-the-Lute, minstrel extraordinaire

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 3, 4, 6.5, and 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Lucianíel, light elemental muse

Mini Muses_Lute and Luc

How Do You Feel You and Luc Are Most Similar?: “Well, most obviously,” says Lute, “there are the shortened forms of our names. You didn’t stretch yourself terribly far on that one. Then there are his superhuman qualities – the speed, the brightness, the distinctively musical voice… I, in some measure, possess all of these. Furthermore, he’s deeply dedicated to his craft, a very much goal-driven protagonist, and not nearly appreciated enough by his author or fellow characters for all he contributes to the world.”

Most Different?: “The fellow cares entirely too much about books, and deems it necessary to collaborate with inferior creatures to create them, whereas my passions are music and adventure, and I much prefer to pursue them alone.” Lute’s gaze slides unhappily sideways. “I suppose I must also admit that he has proven himself, by far, the better father figure.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “I don’t know about ‘favorite’, but I would be remiss as your imaginary friend not to highlight this particular passage from ‘Inspired’…”

Annabelle gave a ragged laugh. “You don’t have any time to waste, Lucianíel! You are not real! You are a piece of my imagination that is running amok, and who needs to get his ego in line before I start thinking this cute, delusional relationship of ours has gone past its expiration date and needs tossing out! I can’t believe I’m sitting here yelling about this! Go away. I’m reading. Come back when you want to be worth something again.”

Lucianíel’s eyes blazed. “You want to speak of delusions?” he hissed, leaning down until, on the same plane, their noses would have touched. “Here’s one you’d do best to rid yourself of, little girl, before I start forming thoughts of my own – of which I am more than capable, Annabelle Almighty, let there be no mistake about that!

“You and the abishan are under a similar misconception. You think that because you are our author, we should all bow at your feet in unquestioning adoration. But you are not our goddess. You are not our queen. We are gods and heroes, angels and elementals – and you are merely our annoying scribe.”

“I forget, now, what you’d done to set me off like that, but some of Luc’s dialogue there was almost word for word what I once spoke to you. I’m glad to see the moment made an impression on one of us.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “Avelaine,” he says fondly. “Let us simply say he’s based upon a character of great importance to me.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Lute! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Gant-o’-the-Lute or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Time for Tag! (Or So We’ll Pretend)

Once upon many moons ago, The Story Sponge tagged me in a thing – and I’ve finally got the time to play along!

Saruman Time Tweet

I’m carving out the time, okay?

Writers's Book Tag

So: The Writer’s Book Tag. In which writer-life turns of phrase are used to relate to reader-life questions. Lez go!

First Draft: a book or series you have never read before

Ohhhh, plenty. Most notoriously, I have neither read the Harry Potter nor the Game of Thrones books – the one phenomenon because I missed it when it was new, and now it’s too culturally pervasive for me to feel like I have to; the other behemoth because it really sounds a lot more ~adult~ fantasy than I tend to prefer.

Second Draft: a book or series you didn’t like as much the second time you read it

Bonemender Trilogy

The Bonemender Trilogy. Although, I did still really like it the second time around. But when I picked up the first book again last year, I realized it wasn’t actually written as well as I’d remembered it from my teens. (Lord only knows what I’d think if I reread “Twilight” now…)

Final Draft: a book or series you have liked for a really long time

Montmorency Series

Montmorency! My favorite thief living a double life in Victorian England! (I have a lot of favorite thieves, y’all. Gotta be specific.) I totally owe my knowledge of a question’s answer on “Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire?” to this historical fic. And I love how it’s considered YA, even though most of the main characters are adults. Like, see? It’s not the age of the protag, but the voice of the narrative that counts! I call that empowering.

Killing off your Characters: a book or series that made you cry

DANG IT, MISTBORN. Can’t even remember if I shed real tears, but I was BAWLING ON THE INSIDE, several times over the course of the trilogy.

Plot Holes: a book or series that disappointed you

Maximum Ride movie poster

Maximum Ride. I adored Books 1 and 2, but 3 didn’t do it for me, and 4 just turned me away from even bothering with the rest of the series. SO SAD. I did recently find the disappointing movie on Netflix, though, so… that happened, too.

Writer’s Block: a book or series you never finished

Skullduggery Pleasant box set

Soooo many. Haven’t finished the Skullduggery Pleasant series, but not because I don’t want to! It’s just taking forever to find all the later books – and, y’know, the time to read them. Also the Sword of Truth series, because too much horrific gore, not enough focus on the sexy-cinnamon-roll-who-will-cut-you protagonist, Richard Rahl.

Feedback: a book or series you would recommend to anyone and everyone

“I Am Nottingham” by Tirzah Duncan. It’s not anywhere close to finished yet, but even in its WIP state, it is THE BEST Robin Hood retelling I’ve ever known. Like, don’t even make me choose between it and my own Outlaws of Avalon; I will split apart inside.

Aaaand I am probably supposed to tag other bloggers now, but I’m out of time as it is, so if there’s anyone reading this who wants to play? Consider yourself personally invited. And if play along you do, feel free to link up to your posts in comments below; I’m sure to eventually have the time to read them.

P.S. – bonus photos of Yosemite! Shared at the request of The Pixie Chronicles. (See what magic you wield when you leave comments? ;D)

Yosemite_IMG_20180112_100550955_HDR - CopyYosemite_IMG_20180112_104001298_HDR - Copy

Books I’ve Read (and My Characters Recommend) in 2017

As of this post’s drafting, I’ve read* 73 books** this year.

*(or listened to on audio)

**(not counting shorts stories, or the bits of flash fiction I wrote myself, or the draft of Part 2 of #CamelotWIP, or the “Inspired” novels I’ve reread in editorial prep for their release next March…)

Do I remember all of them? No. Have I reviewed all of them? Hardly. Weren’t there a couple of other books I totally told myself I’d read but have yet to get around to? Why, yes. But ignoring all that, I still call this a win of a year for reading. And some of the people in my head got to benefit from the words I consumed as well.

Since I plan to give my life-in-upheaval a break by not blogging during December (apart from that one post I’mma schedule for the first), now’s the time if ever there was to do a recap post of sorts.

I’m not gonna do one, though. My characters are.

Please welcome Will Scarlet, Allyn-a-Dale, Loren McCaughley and Sir Bedivere (all of Outlaws of Avalon fame), and Edgwyn Wyle (from the Wilderhark Tales)! Which books would y’all like to spotlight?

Will Scarlet’s top pick = “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (Mackenzi Lee)

Character Rec'd - Will

“This was SUCH A ROMP, you guys! I wanted Danielle to grab it for me the moment I heard the premise – which she couldn’t actually do, since the book wasn’t even out yet at the time, but it showed up at the library eventually! Monty (the main character, yo) is just ENTIRELY ME. Y’know, if I’d been born in 18th-century England to an awful father, as opposed to 12th-century England to a father I have no memory of. So yeah. This book. My fave. Hands down.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Alloy of Law” / “Shadows of Self” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Also entirely me: Wayne. Y’know, if I were a cheerful kleptomaniac whose brilliant brain makes no sense. Which I am. So obviously I love him. He is the best. Also, Sanderson’s Mistborn books are just awesome. Amazing world-building. Plots like whoa. And did I mention Wayne. We’ve still gotta get our hands on the next book in the series, though, so NOBODY SPOIL IT.”

Allyn-a-Dale’s top pick = “The Hearts We Sold” (Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Character Rec'd - Allyn

“A girl made desperate from abuse sells her heart to an enigmatic demon, meaning she’s now under contract to battle interdimensional portals and the creatures that lurk within. #Relatable The love interest was nice. The narrative voice was casually decent. I liked the parts that hurt.”

Honorable mention(s) = “A Conjuring of Light” (V.E. Schwab) / “Strange the Dreamer” (Laini Taylor)

“More pain! ^o^ At least one of these made Danielle cry; I don’t recall whether the other did, too, or if she only ached. And sorry-not-sorry, but after everything she put me through in my last book, she owes me this means of catharsis.”

Loren McCaughley’s top pick = “Robin Hood” (J. Walker McSpadden)

Character Rec'd - Loren

“Speaking as someone who knows her way around a classic Robin Hood novel, I felt this version was particularly enjoyable. Like, up there with Howard Pyle’s; definitely more fun than Roger Lancelyn Green’s. (We’ll see how it stacks up against Henry Gilbert’s when we get there. Fingers crossed we start reading it on the plane when Danielle leaves for California!) If you’re a fellow Sherwood junkie, do it.”

Honorable mention(s) = “Remnants” (Stacy Xavier)

“Yeah, okay, this and ‘Ivanhoe’ were the titles that Danielle was going to read this month, but then… didn’t?? And both of them have Robin Hood in them, so I’m less than overjoyed at the holdup. But she’ll definitely make a point of reading ‘Remnants’ eventually, because it’s a Hood retelling, inspired by a Hood photo shoot she was in, written by a fellow Bristol Renaissance Faire cast member. In other words, how could she not?”

(Related note: There’s a giveaway for this book going on right now. Just sayin’.)

Sir Bedivere’s top pick = “The Fall of Arthur” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Character Rec'd - Bedivere

“Vexingly, the poem isn’t even finished, so the book’s padded out with the author’s son’s speculations and analyses and other stuff that is not the father of modern fantasy waxing lyrical on my king’s demise. Still, speaking for the Camelot demographic of Avalon Faire, if it’s relevant to the lives we lost, we’re reading it. And this was an interesting take on it all, if incomplete. It left my soul wanting, and isn’t that just what thinking on our fallen kingdom’s all about?”

Honorable mention(s) = “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion” (M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann)

“Yippee, more Camelot – this time in graphic novel form. Arthur was kind of worthless in this one, as were… wow, pretty much all the men, really. Sorry, damsels and dames, you deserved better. But the lion was on his A-game, the story was about on par for a medieval ballad, and the illustrations made things worthwhile.”

And speaking of Wyles: Edgwyn, take us home!

Edgwyn Wyle’s top pick = “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore” (Kelly Jones)

Character Rec'd - Edgwyn

“A Regency-era spy novel with a focus on fashion! As a tailor, I was very much drawn to main character Annis’s attention to one’s attire and its making. And then – (this is in the book’s blurb, right? It’s not spoiling to speak of it? Ah, good) – she discovers she has a magical sewing talent! Imagine my delight. ^_^ I was easily enough able to predict most of the plot twists, but it was good fluffy fun, for all that.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Danielle E. Shipley)

“This late in the year, Danielle’s mostly forgotten she released this novel back in early spring. But that’s in part why she keeps me around: To remember things for her. Thus do I recall this charming love story – a fine match for my fairytale heart. She’s never sure which book in the Outlaws trilogy to name as her favorite, but mine is without a doubt this one.”

Awwwww, thanks, Edg! And thanks to you all, for sharing your literary opinions.

How about YOU, readers? Which tales have filled your year, so far? What do you think you’ll read next? Discuss in the comments!