Mo’ Men, Mo’ Merrier

It’s the 1-year anniversary of perhaps my single most personally life-changing project – Book 1 of The Outlaws of Avalon, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. (The Smashwords e-book of which, coincidentally, is currently 50% off!) And how better to celebrate than with the release of a related e-book – Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”!

“Easy,” says Will Scarlet. “Adding more Merry Men into the mix always makes things better. Invite us into your blog post!”

Like that wasn’t already the plan. ;D My question for you all:

Which of the vignettes in the “Truly Great Words” collection is your personal favorite, and why?

“It’s a tough call,” says Robin, “but I think ‘Ostent’ may be the most special to me. A snapshot of a moment where, although I couldn’t do everything I wished to save the world, I could do one thing to make one precious life a little brighter. *cough-ahem-sniff* …Sorry, I, ah, seem to have some Book 3 feelings in my eye…”

TGW, Ostent 01

Easy there, Hood. We’ve got ‘til October. Marion, what about you?

“Well, just about any of them that feature me spending time with my friends will please me,” says she. “So shout-out to the likes of ‘Lumming’, ‘Ludicropathetic’, and ‘Convive’. But if I can only declare one winner, I’ll give it to ‘Alderliefest’, because even if it’s only Allyn and Gawain on camera, the spirit of Merry Men community is strong within it.”

TGW, Alderliefest 01

“I do like that one,” Allyn agrees, snuggling closer to her.

Mr. Scarlet?

“Aw, man, that’s hard. I’m in like half of them!”

*does the math* Something like 64%, actually, you story hog, you.

Will beams. “Well, let’s go with ‘Ecophobia’, because it’s the first to star both me and Allyn. And everything’s better that way.”

TGW, Ecophobia 01

Allyn’s blushing face tries to hide in Marion’s shoulder. And, I mean, she’s got the smallest shoulders in the burly boys club of a band, but sure, dream big. Little John? Your favorite, please?

After a considering pause, he says, “ ‘Fallow’.”

“The poem? But you’re not even in that one,” Will says. “And neither am I!”

And your absence, says Little John’s stare, goes some way toward the pleasing quiet of the poem’s tone.

TGW, Fallow 01

It’s minstrel-written – ergo, bound to please. Speaking of minstrels, Allyn, your time is come. Which story’s your fave?

“ ‘Montivagant’,” he says, no moment’s thought required. “The last of the stories, and the last to star both me and Will.” He turns a shining smile on Scarlet. “Everything’s better that way.”

TGW, Montivagant 01

*rubs own Book 3 feelings out of own eye* I said wait ‘til October, darn it! Here, lemme bring it back with a reminder of Book 2.5’s blurb and pretty little cover:

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestWelcome to Avalon, where truly great heroes – and words – never die.

Join the Merry Men and denizens of Camelot in a collection of flash fiction as neo-“ye olde” as a Renaissance Faire, every slice of their immortal life served up with an archaism ripe for revival – from “accismus” to “Weltschmerz”, with plenty of laughs in between.

Come for the language lesson, stay for the Will Scarlet shenanigans, along with a facet or two of your Fey isle friends that you’ve never seen before.

What about you, readers? Do YOU have a favorite story from “Truly Great Words”? Let me know in the comments – or, better yet, in a review on Amazon (where the book awaits you for just 99 cents!), Goodreads, your blog or social media pages, etc.!

A Merry Indie-pendence Day to You, Too

Should I feel guilty for taking “Independence” – (an actual word) – and “Indie” – (an accepted abbreviation for that word) – and mangling them together in this wise?

Possibly.

But I’ll save my shame for the end of the post. Because before then, I plan to be all kinds of shameless. Promote while the promotions are going on, I always* say.

*(Never before. Never again.)

For real though, it seems like just about everything promo-worthy is happening at once. Such as…

1 – #IndiePrideDay

That was the hashtag going around Twitter, Saturday past. And so I, being the occasional opportunist I am, whipped up a couple of promotional images to share, and spent some time browsing to see what other indie authors had to say for themselves/their work, despite my unfortunate allergy to community.

Also, as of Saturday…

2 – “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” is Half-Price!

…On Smashwords, as part of their Summer/Winter Sale (through July 31st). I should maybe come up with a special promo image for that, too? We’ll see if I bother. In the meantime, if any of you guys or people you know like e-book bargains, check out the whole catalog … or go straight to nabbing your copy of “Ballad”.

And hey, let me know if you pick up any good titles, over there. I’m terrible about actually reading the e-books I’ve already got on my Kindle app (because not even sorry, I’m a hard copy girl), but that probably won’t stop me buying more, if the price is right and the premise intriguing.

Speaking of discounted prices: According to a little notice in my inbox…

3 – Society6 is Hosting a 4th of July Sale!

Society6 Merch

Pictured here, my own personal “Without a Minstrel” mug and “I See You” pillow

Today and tomorrow, everything is 20% off – plus free shipping! So if you fancy any of the merch in my shop, now’s a fine time to get yourself a little something.

And since we’ve got something like an Independence Day theme going, let’s wrap things up with a 4th (of July? Get it? Yeahhhh) and final item. Don’t forget:

4 – Outlaws 2.5 is Available for Pre-Order!

Just a bit over a week ‘til “Truly Great Words Never Die” releases onto Kindles everywhere.

…provided that those Kindles’ owners did right by themselves and purchased a copy.
Truly Great Words promo 04

It’s only 99 cents, and more than worth every penny. So order yours today! Or, I dunno, at least tell somebody else that the book exists, maybe? I’m not feeling the shame yet, but I tell ya, self-promotion is a lot less fun than that holy grail of indie artistry:

Word of mouth.

Stay independent, y’all,

~ Danielle

 

 

 

 

When Is It Poetry?

April, I hear, is National Poetry Month. So here’s a Danielle E. Shipley original. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

I strew the words across the page

– in rage – in grief – in rapture

– in mimicry of what the poets do –

and wonder…

 

When is a thing a story,

and when a song,

and when nothing more than black noise

in the vast, white reaches of space?

 

Here: Haiku and sonnets,

There: Novels and essays,

With free-form musings, both and between.

Where do you sketch the line?

 

HERE LIES THE DIFFERENCE

as near as I can tell:

 

That which we call poetry

is but a work of art that has been

broken just so.

 

So I strew my words across the page

and wonder…

 

Am I a poem yet?

Image via unsplash.com

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

#MARRIAGEofAaD: Launched, Asked and Answered

Happy Launch Day to “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

marriage-cover-final-front

Yes indeed, the second book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy is officially out in the world, and available via CreateSpace (paperback), Barnes & Noble (e-book), and Amazon (both). Do both Reader You and Author Me a solid by nabbing a copy. ^o^

In honor of the day, I’ve put together a fun Q&A based on this “writing ask game” spotted on Tumblr. So, newcomers to the series and old fans alike, behold: A whole host of things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

<<<>>>

Describe the plot in 1 sentence.

If I may wax intellectual…

When budding eros comes up against problematic storge, with hyper philia running amok, it’s anyone’s guess which love will conquer all.

You: Not in Greek, please?

Me: Much love; such angst.

What’s the time period and location in which the novel takes place?

The early 21st century, in a magical island of ancient Britannia disguised as a Renaissance Faire in the American Midwest.

Pick one sight, smell, sound, feel, and taste to describe the aesthetic of your novel.

Sight: An arrow through the heart.

Smell: Assorted flowers.

Sound: An orchestral string section – with featured lute solos.

Feel: A sun-warmed breeze.

Taste: Popcorn, Chinese takeout, and mead.

#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard

#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard

How many times does the word ____ appear in the novel?

No word specified, hmm? In that case, the answer is four. An abbreviation of ‘chrysanthemums’ is spoken as an expletive four times.

Which 3+ songs would make up a playlist for the novel?

The book already includes 3 original songs: A cheery spring lovers’ ditty, a sultry jazz number, and a personal piece straight from the heart of Allyn-a-Dale.

What’s the first line of your novel?

May Ellen fought the growing urge to cry.

(For comparison, the first line of Outlaws of Avalon 1 was: “Loren fought the growing urge to panic.” Makes ya wonder who will be fighting which growing urge at Book 3’s beginning. ^^)

Which character is the best liar? Worst?

1) My kneejerk reaction is of course to say Will Scarlet, but while he’s the one most likely to have half the things out of his mouth be technically untrue, the by far better liars would be Little John and Morganne le Fey – the ones with the perfect poker faces.

2) Probably King Arthur. I don’t think the man has a properly dishonest bone in his body.

Which character swears the most? Least?

1) Will Scarlet, hands down.

2) Leila would never.

Which character is most like you? Least like you?

1) The earliest version of she who would become Loren McCaughley was a straight-up self-insert. And even now that she’s Loren for real, we share a number of traits in common – foremost, a mania for all things Robin Hood and a weakness for minstrels. I am likewise a good deal like her adorkable sister.

2) Temperament-wise, I don’t think Leila and I could be farther removed. She’s all sweet-spirited and kind and patient and incapable of seeing the worst in life. You lost me at “sweet”.

Which character would you most like to be?

I’d say Marion Hood is the most ideally situated. All of the best bits of being a Merry Man, less of the torture that comes with being a main character.

Do any characters have distinctive birthmarks/scars?

Allyn-a-Dale’s emotional scars are practically trademark.

What’s a line of dialogue you’re particularly proud of?

Arrgh, the first one that comes to mind hails from spoiler territory! A certain burn from Little John, near the end of Part Sixth. In lieu of that, have this bit from Allyn to Morganne le Fey:

“You are such a creeper.”

Which line from the novel most represents it as a whole?

Never did one so acutely yearn for discomfort as did Allyn-a-Dale.

That or,

“Even if Merlin has our manhood for this, wasn’t it bloody worth it?”

<<<>>>

Tra-la. And remember, if there’s anything else you guys want to know about “Marriage” that the novel’s text doesn’t answer for you – *points to the comments section* – you’re entirely welcome to ask. ;D

On Me and Matrimony

Ah, Valentine’s Day – or Singles Awareness Day, as I’ve heard it alternatively called.

Like most holidays, it’s just another day to me. But what with the upcoming release of Outlaws of Avalon 2 – “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” – perhaps it’s no surprise that the other day found me with marriage on my mind. My dreams around that much-romanticized institution have certainly undergone a number of transitions, through the years. From innocent…

5-year-old Me: *wants to marry Aladdin*

Aladdin: *is with Jasmine*

5yo Me: “Oh. …Okay, but can I be Aladdin, though?”

*

Tween Me: “Boys are gross.”

Grownups: “You won’t always think so. ;)”

Future Me to Tween Me: *whispers* “Spoiler alert. Everybody’s gross.”

me-to-me

…To psychotic…

Teen Me: *wants to marry Kevin of the Backstreet Boys*

Kevin: *is already married*

Teen Me: “That’s too bad.” *shoulders imaginary shotgun* “…For his wife.”

*

Teen Me: *wants to marry a certain boy from art camp*

Teen Me: *follows him everywhere until he’s sick of me*

Future Me: *bumps into the boy again at a concert* … *also, his fiancée*

Future Me: *smiles the smile of the Forever Alone™ *

*

New Adult Me: *scans every male face encountered, searching for husband potential*

New Adult Me: *is continually confused/disappointed that not one outing yet has resulted in a “how I met your super-cute billionaire grandfather” story*

*

New Adult Me: *wants to marry Edgwyn Wyle*

Edgwyn: *is already married*

New Adult Me: “WHY? Whyyy did I write that?!” *curses self for a fool*

whyyy

Because of course his wife was the only thing standing between me and this fictional character…

…To pessimistic.

Mid-20s Me: “If I truly loved a man, could I really condemn him to a life of matrimonial bondage to an asexual head case like me?”

BFF: “You maybe shouldn’t, no.”

Mid-20s Me: “Nobody asked you, villain.”

*

Mom: “Your special someone is out there.”

Late-20s Me: *smiling the smile of the Forever Alone™ * Okay.

*

Late-20s Me: “If only I could just marry Will Scarlet and call it a day.”

Will: *laughs too loud and long for anybody’s comfort* “Babe, I love you like no other, but not in a million universes would that work.”

Which brings us to this fine February 14, 2017. ^_^

Me after Germany: “I would rather die than live in a house with some man in it again.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “To be fair, you would rather die than do most things, these days.”

Me: “True. Say, Allyn, what are your thoughts on marriage?”

Allyn: *shrugs* “I was raised in a fairytale world. What do I know?”

Me: “Once your second novel is through with you, maybe a little more…

*

marriage-cover-final-frontThere’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.

(Also, the door’s still open for folks interested in an early read ‘n’ review of the book. Hit me up if you want in!)

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!

christmas-carol-promo-type-2

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!

xmas-carol-still-frame

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!