Early Birds, a Wyrm, and Whatnot (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, “Dawlish, creation of author A.J. Campbell, describes herself thus:

So hey, I’m Dawlish. I’m 15. I like pepperoni pizza and hate diet coke. I live somewhere in the roof-space of Durham cathedral with a load of birds. Actual birds. Jackdaws, mostly. I work for these people called Kate Avery and The Baron – they used to be married or something but they’re not speaking to each other at the moment. Don’t know why. But I owe them big time, and I’m working that off. Mostly by spying on the one for the other. And on this guy called Dick Lampton. He’s kind of an idiot.

“Welcome, Dawlish!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – is that your real name? Or like, a surname/nickname thing? ‘Cause my author’s read through her share of baby naming books, and I don’t believe she’s ever come across the like.”

The girl shrugs, slouching further into her seat. “It’s just a name. It’s mine. I don’t know where it came from. Apparently it’s a place in Devon, but I don’t know, I’ve never been there.” She pauses to pick some of the black polish off her nails. “At least it’s original. Unlike yours. ‘Cause you’re not the same Will Scarlet that the Baron knows, are you? I’ve seen pictures. You look nothing alike.”

Will’s brows arch high. “He knows a me?? Maybe there are parallel universes at play! Lord knows it wouldn’t be the strangest circumstance I’ve been caught up in. Talking of one’s circumstances: What’s it like, having a garret full of Jackdaws as roommates? Come to that, what sort of bird is a Jackdaw, exactly?”

The look on Dawlish’s face is one of disbelief and contempt as she asks, “Where are you from, exactly? Do they not have Jackdaws there? They live, like, all over England, y’know.”

“Well, jolly for England. But it’s been a century or nine since I’ve been there, so I may have missed the species’ discovery. Humor my ignorance?”

She sighs audibly. “They’re birds, about so big… Corvids – that’s the same family as crows and ravens – black and grey. Dark black patch on their head like one of those tiny Jewish things. Very intelligent, very noisy, and they drop feathers everywhere. But I wouldn’t live anywhere without them.”

“What’s a bit of noise and feathers between friends, I always say. Or have never said. I may start saying it. Anyway, these employers of yours – Kate Somebody and The Baron who keeps Scarlet company. If most of your job involves spying on them, you’re bound to know as much as or more than anyone on the subjects. What juicy dish can you share about each of them that won’t get you fired or something? And just what is the nature of the debt you owe them, anyway?”

“I’ve stopped doing the spying thing now. It was getting really boring. Because he’s still blatantly in love with her, and she probably is too only she won’t admit it. It’s like that whole thing on Friends if Ross and Rachel were more sarcastic and English… and probably immortal… and master criminals.”

Will sniggers. “Aw, man, what I wouldn’t pay to watch that TV spinoff…”

Dawlish carries on over him, “They never tell me any of the good stuff anyway – apparently I’m too young or something.” Again, an overly dramatic sigh. “Aaaand I’m not allowed to talk about the debt. Apparently it’s an important plot point or something.”

Will nods, knowing how that goes.

“Also, it’s personal. Look, have you got anything to eat? I was promised dinner if I came and did this, but all I’ve had is some pathetic excuse for tea and biscuits in the green room…”

Off-camera, Allyn says, disgruntled, “What happened to the pizza I ordered in?”

Will turns in surprise. “That was for her?”

“I’d written ‘FOR DAWLISH’ right on the box!”

“Oh. Yeah, I saw that. Guess I was too hungry to make the connection. Sorry about that,” Will addresses his guest sheepishly. “What say Allyn and I take you out for something right after the show? Our treat. We’re nearly done, now. And a little birdie’s probably already told you what the final question is to be. Tell me, what is your author A.J.’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He flashes his legendary smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Dude… I’m fifteen. That would be really weird. And kind of creepy.”

Will coughs into his fist. “…And par for the course. But since I totally ate your pizza, I guess I won’t press the issue. Allyn, how about a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by A.J. Campbell’s ‘Sigil of the Wyrm (Into the Weirding, Book 1)’:

Sigil of the Wyrm, blurb

“As a bit of bonus material,” Allyn continues, “our author’s review of the book is as follows:

Sigil of the Wyrm, my review

You ever enjoy a book too darn much to do more than verbally point and flail? That’s me and “Sigil of the Wyrm”. Fortunately, I had the foresight to scribble down a few of my impressions in real time. So, in lieu of a coherent review, here’s the view over the shoulder of Reader Me:

“Mmm, yum, loving this so far.”

“So lush and English. *elated emoticon*”

“And all the characters are such characters. With smart mouths and secrets and histories. Weirdoes that make you wonder, every one.”

“Delicious, I say! (And if the Baron is legit who I think he is, then the gymnastics of my heart are all the more justified.)”

“So genuinely sad that I’m too tired to continue reading right now. *tragic emoticon*”

“Twists and surprises and cool stuff, and… this is the first of a series, right? Right? Good.”

“Thank you, Allyn – and Danielle,” Will says. “Thanks to you as well, Dawlish. 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!”

<<<>>>

Sigil of the Wyrm, availability

Your copy of “Sigil of the Wyrm” awaits. And don’t forget to enter the tour-long giveaway!

 

Book Release Blog Tour (August 29 – September 5)

Saturday, Aug. 29

Alex Campbell

Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind

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Sunday, Aug. 30

Lurking Musings

Slithers of Thought

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Monday, Aug. 31

The Deep, Dark Library

Cobblestone Scribe

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Tuesday, Sep. 1

Lucy Ayrton, Performance Poet

T.N. Payne, Author

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Wednesday, Sep. 2

Richard A. Usher, Media Creative

Alex McGilvery’s World

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Thursday, Sep. 3

Scott E. Tarbet, Author

Are You Afraid of the Dark

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Friday, Sep. 4

OMega W

Danielle E. Shipley (You are here!)

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Saturday, Sep. 5

R. A. Ridley

Didi Lawson, Author

Musings, Amusings, and Bemusings

Out with the Old, In with What’s Next

So long, old year! Helloooooo, 2015! And how better to ring in the New Year than with Ever On Word’s official reveal of the cover of my next publication? Those of you who bump elbows with me on Facebook and Twitter may have seen this already, but it’s still just as purty the second (or, if you’ve been staring at it like I have, the umpteenth) time around!

The Toll of Another Bell

The Toll of Another Bell (now on Goodreads! Add away!), a Xchyler Publishing fantasy anthology including my own short story, “Reality As We Know It”!

A voice from the back calls out, “What’s your story about, Danielle?”

Well might you ask, anonymous person who is not Will Scarlet at all.

In a realm of infinite possibility, impossibility, and immortality, a broken boy begs to die.

Devoted childhood companion to the shattered Singer, Row will do anything to resurrect his friend’s will to live, including join him in exile in real-world London, where if the grueling battle against unemployment doesn’t kill you, the dodgy neighbor in the upstairs flat just might.

But as Singer’s grief festers and eviction looms, even irrepressible Row begins to doubt whether single-minded determination is enough to make ends – and two hurting hearts – meet.

This story and more are coming for ya on January 31st, along with the book’s Release Party! More on that as the date nears.

Now, then – in other headlines…

What’s New for Ever On Word?

For the last good while, I’ve been largely sticking to a three-day blogging schedule, with posts of various sorts on Mondays and Thursdays (book reviews, blog tour stops, snippets of fiction, miscellaneous chatter…), and Will Scarlet shenanigans on Saturdays. That’s been going all very well for me, but with all the other writing / rewriting / editing / publishing I continue to heap upon my plate, I’m ready to ease up on myself just a tad.

So from here on into the indefinite future, I’m cutting back to two regular posts a week – Scarlet’s stuff on Fridays (starting a week from tomorrow), and whatever else I wanna on any other weekday selected at my discretion. It’s a new year, baby. I’m gonna try this “flexibility” thing the kids keep talking about; see how it affects my quality of life.

Other resolutions of sorts for the year to come include:

My nocturnal experiment

– Get the remaining Wilderhark Tales (Books 6, short story collection 6.5, and 7) out into the world

– Figure out the steps required to run away to Germany to become a butler*

(*If you think I’m joking, think again.)

– Rewrite an old novel of mine into publishable shape

– Remember the encouragement that bolstered my poor little authorial heart upon reading this and this – each of them pieces worthy of “HYSRT! (Hey, You Should Read This!)” posts in their own right, but if I don’t stick them in here now, I may never get around to sharing them, so let’s seize the moment

– Continue seeking the balance between pushing myself and abstaining from self-cruelty

– Don’t lose the internal good I gained over the long, hard slog of 2014

*turns mic out toward the audience* What’s next for all of you? ^^

He Said/She Sighed (HYSRT!)

There will be people, my dear writers, who will tell you that “said” is the old, new, and only black – the final word in dialogue tags.

You may cry (or, according to Them, you may absolutely not cry, nor exclaim, demand, or wonder), “Says who?”

He Said, She Sighed

Not Catherine Austen, that’s who!

In her blog post trilogy “He Said/She Sighed”, Austen has her say on “said”, to which I – speaking as one who’s been jarred aplenty by the overuse of the so-called invisible word, who’ll take colorful and creative variation over bland repetition any day of the week, and who just plain doesn’t like being told which pieces of perfectly proper English I should and shouldn’t use in the stories of my creation – say, shout, and cheer, “Hear, hear!”

Parts one, two, and three give full and humorous vent to Austen’s thoughts on the matter, perhaps flying in the face of advice you’ve had hammered into you from sources innumerable. My advice to you, fellow writers? Hey, You Should Read This! Particularly this summary of the posts’ shining spirit:

It is silly to think there are words denied to writers, that there are entire classes of words off limits to good writing. That is just crazy. Lists of writing tips are shallow by nature – they will never tell anyone how to write well. We must dig deeper for that. Don’t get sidetracked checking off boxes for a paint-by-number book that follows tips like “don’t use adverbs” or “use said as your only dialogue verb.” You don’t have to do that. What you have to do is much, much harder. – Catherine Austen

Any thoughts on “said”, or similar writing advice, you’d like to share? Say on in the comments – here and/or over at Catherine Austen’s blog.

Cry of the Nightbird

“BREAKING NEWS!” Will Scarlet calls out. “Not the bit about how Danielle sometimes lies, claiming Saturdays on the blog are to be mine, all mine, then turning around and using a Friday post as an excuse to bump me off the roster. Nobody’s surprised by that anymore.”

I’m sorry, Will! I fully intended to leave you your Saturdays, despite the whirlwind of my ongoing blog tour. But then something came up!

“Oh-ho, did it ever! No worries, author girl,” he says, with a forgiving clap on my shoulder. “These are ultra-special circumstances.”

I’ll say they are! I mean, it’s not every day my writing bestie publishes her debut novella!

“Nope, pretty much just today,” Will says blithely. “Congratulations, Tirzah Duncan! Love you, ever and always! Danielle, release the Kraken! Whoops, read that wrong. The cover. Release the cover!”

Lol, proudly. Heck, I’m giving this the full Deshipley Book Review Treatment!

Nightbird cover, final

The Book: “Cry of the Nightbird” by Tirzah Duncan.

Genre: Fantasy.

Blurb: “Look—it’s a shadow, creeping on the wall.

Look—it’s a nightbird, feathered, black, and tall.

Look—o’er your shoulder; think ye twice,

Look—out, ye wicked rats, pray he finds ye nice.

Risen suddenly to lordship of the fiefdom of Cavernad, young Ferlund struggles to fill the shoes —and carry on the marriage engagement— of his late father. Doubly sorrowed by the old lord’s death and his duty to part ways with his common lover, Ferlund also seeks to pursue his suspicion that his father’s death was no accident…

Elsewhere in this fantasy-tinged novella, another man is recently risen to power. Joreth, formerly an assassin by trade, is newly the master of the assassin’s guild responsible for the elder Lord Cavernad’s demise. Wren, a servant girl deeply enamored of her new boss, seeks to gain his favor, and happens upon his strangest secret.

A lone vigilante stalks this landscape of cloak and dagger, sense and madness, and grudge and ardor old and new; the preying Nightbird stands in judgement of injustice masked by night or noble station. In this tangle of stale bitterness and fresh affection, who will stand justified, and who will fall condemned? And will the cry of the Nightbird sound loud enough to go down as more than a washerwoman’s four-line ditty?

My Thoughts: Short answer: OHMYGOSH, MY BEST FRIEND PUBLISHED A BOO-OO-OOK!

*ahem* More professional answer:

This story is rife with suspense and emotion, peopled with characters to love and to hate, to cheer for and to grieve for – not to mention an element just about any book can benefit from: A cool guy in a cloak and mask.

Duncan is a true wordsmith with a sharp poetic style worthy of a shady vigilante’s ballad. I chuckled. I gasped. I had to blink back tears to get through the end. And I’m left with a whetted hunger for the eventual release of the first full-length novel set in this fantasy world.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): “Should you read this?” says Will. “Should you read this?! I dunno, lemme ask. Hey, Danielle – should they read this?”

Dude, I’m only even friends with the girl because her writing lured me in! YES, read her book! Buy it! Tell your friends to buy it! Coerce your enemies into buying it! And did I mention?… All proceeds from the book’s sales are going toward funding Tirzah’s upcoming wedding to her sweetheart in the Air Force.

(Will Scarlet leads the audience in a rousing “AW-W-W!”)

So seriously. As her BFF, critique partner, and maid of honor, I must insist that you purchase “Cry of the Nightbird”. BUY NOW.

…And if you want to pick up a copy of “Inspired” or something while you’re in the neighborhood, I’ll not say you nay.

“Ravin’” or “Slightly More Organized Reactions Re: Another Book I Read”

Taking a breather, now, from talking about that book I launched the other week (*cough* “The Stone Kingdom”, buy it, it’s aweseome *cough*), so I can talk about a different book entirely.

Back in July, I had to indulge in a bit of “talking with extreme enthusiasm” about a book I picked up for no particular reason and loved. I was subsequently encouraged by friends to read a certain other of the author’s offerings and share my impressions afterward. And because I’m of the opinion that one ought to give The People what they want (within reason, if one can, and if it doesn’t appear to be more bother than it’s worth), this blog post exists.

The Book: “The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Genre: Paranormal YA.

Blurb: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. Either you’re his true love … or you killed him.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them – until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, and he’s a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

CA.0808.raven.boys.

My Thoughts: Another book for which I didn’t bother to read the blurb before I dove in. (‘Cause I’m a rebel, y’all. Or just ‘cause I didn’t feel like dealing with any expectations, this time around.) The first half or more of the book moved rather slow, for me. I had more or less figured that this novel and I just weren’t going to connect when – at no specific point that I can pin down as “the one”, so perhaps it was just a gradual thing – the story started to gain momentum, and by the end, I was sold.

Wait. I’m a liar. I think I know the point where the change took place. Alas, it is a plot point of major spoiler proportions, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you what it is. Let’s just say it made my brain go, “Whoa!” and “Aw, man, did I see that coming?… No, can’t say that I did, but it makes freaking sense! Ooh, bravo, Stiefvater; I approve this turn of events very much,” and demand that my hands start turning pages faster.

Since this is a pretty character-driven tale (yay for those), let’s talk about my feelings regarding all those names mentioned in the blurb.

Blue. I liked her well enough. I didn’t get the sense that she was trying too hard in the way that some characters (male and female, but predominantly female) will sometimes strike me as doing. Y’know, “look at me, I’m so XYZ, hear me roar and love me for it,” or whatever. She was just being her, and didn’t do anything that made me smack my forehead and groan over the stupidity of it all, so she stayed well away from my black list.

Gansey. I appreciate that we got to see a good quarter of the story or so from his perspective (his third person perspective, mind you; the whole novel was narrated in third, which, when done well, can be every bit as intimate as first), else it might have been easy to get the wrong idea about him. As was made starkly apparent during some of his interactions with Blue, he can frequently come off as a too-glossy version of himself that isn’t a fair representation of his self as a whole. (Along those same lines, I also felt for him when he got slammed for employing an advanced vocabulary in everyday conversation, since I’ve taken my share of hits for the same, and it’s irritating as all get-out.) Predominantly, I liked him because he cared so profoundly for his friends. True Friendship is as beautiful to me as True Love. …because, after all, it is true love, just of a different kind.

Adam. His stubborn pride made me want to wash my hands of him, sometimes. It was one of those, “no, actually, I don’t get where you’re coming from, but I guess I can semi-respect it anyway,” kind of deals. And he was a nice guy, and I like nice guys, so he got points for that.

Ronan. Not a nice guy. An inscrutable jerk, actually. Fortunately, I can like that kind of guy, too, so long as I don’t have to deal with him in real life. My fave laugh-out-loud line of the book was his, but I can’t share it, as it pertains to The Game-Changing Spoiler.

Noah. I spent some while wondering when this guy was going to contribute anything I cared about to the plot. I didn’t really get him, or get why we were bothering to include him in the gang of Raven Boys. He was on the fringes, and if I’d taken more notice of that fact (which I didn’t, precisely because it all seemed so marginal), it probably would have annoyed me.

I think I ended up loving him most of all the boys.

Why? Spoiler, that’s why.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): If you can’t take the suspense anymore – (what in the name of all mercy is this ever-lovin’ spoiler I keep taunting you with?! You’re about to climb up the walls and pitch a fit on the ceiling!) – then lay hands on the book and go to town. Then join me in anticipating getting hold of “The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)”, which came out September 17th. ‘Cause I want me some more Raven Boys, kids.

On the off chance you’re still on the fence, allow me to direct you to Maggie Stiefvater’s Top Ten Reasons to Read The Raven Cycle. If that doesn’t convince you to give the book a try, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyone else got any opinions on the book? Or opinions on my opinions of it? I pray you, share them below. It’s what The People want.

“HYSRT!” or “Grimm News for ‘The Swan Prince’”

Swan Prince Cover, E-bookI am pleased to present today one of the most entertaining book reviews I’ve ever read. Seriously, all book reviews should be this awesome – and I’m not just saying that because the book under review is my own, “The Swan Prince”.

Eric Wilder of the satirical fairytale news blog The Grimm Report did me the honor of an early read of my upcoming novella, and the result is— well, see for yourself.

* * *

“We at the Grimm Report are interrupting your regularly scheduled, late-breaking news flash to bring you this very important book review. Recently, a super-secret, double-advanced copy of the latest work of author and fellow blog addict, Danielle E. Shipley, came into our possession. We know what you’re thinking. Grimm Report, how d’ya pull that off? The underground magic-bean trade? Lamp polishing? Cut a back room deal with Rumplestiltskin? The answers are no, no, and we’re not at liberty to discuss that.

The truth is Ms. Shipley asked us to read her story entitled, The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales). Well, maybe we asked her. Okay, okay, we begged her. Are you happy? We said please, like four times! And, although she couldn’t see it, we had an intern hold his breath until we got what we wanted. Don’t accuse us of acting childish. Besides, after the intern passed out, we pried him away from the monitor to find a confirmation email in our inbox. So, nanny nanny boo boo!”

* * *

Laughing yet? It keeps getting better. And mixed in with the hilarity is an author-heartwarming assessment of my story! Click here to read the review in its entirety, and just see if it doesn’t make you think of both the Grimm Report blog and “The Wilderhark Tales”, volume one, that Hey, You Should Read This!

“HYSRT!” or “Maybe Half Lots Would Actually be Simpler…”

Dear English,

Though I revel in the art to be made with you, I fully acknowledge that you are ridiculous.

(Yes, ridiculous. “Deserving or inspiring ridicule; absurd, preposterous, or silly”, that’s you.)

You contradict your own rules as often as you follow them, as if you’re not even trying to make sense of yourself. Anyone able to read this blog post in the tongue in which I typed it should give themselves a round of applause. I feel I owe myself a treat just for being able to thus convey my ideas. We’re geniuses, all of us! Geniuses with a dum-dum language!

Go Home, English

This truth was driven home to me after reading a post by Ruth Layne on her blog, Misadventures of a Would-Be Writer. Hey, y’know what, English? You Should Read This. Entitled “Lots of English. Whole Lots”, it points out what a troublesome means of communication you are – not just for brave souls attempting to master you as a second language, but even for your native speakers. Even I, who have heard you spoken since my days in the womb; have spoken you myself since my mouth could manage the phonemes; I who have gobbled through books filled cover to cover with your words, and who have written books, poems, articles, essays of my own – even I do not pretend to wholly understand you!

Fortunately, one does not have to wholly understand a thing to love it.

Love you indeed,

Danielle