The Deshipley Holiday E-xtravaganza…and You

“An Ever On Word blog post?” you cry. “After all this time!” you thrill. “Are we at last to pick up where we left off in the chronicle of Danielle’s Bay Area Adventure?!”

Ahhhhhhh, no, not today. My brain, heart, and time are still a bit too full with living the adventure to get it all organized for internet consumption, just yet. However, with The Holidays™ upon us, I realized of a sudden that I wish to celebrate this past year’s tests and triumphs! – to toast the new year and its miracles to come! – and, y’know, if possible, to generate some extra dollars as a buffer between me and continual brokenness. To that end, may I present:

The Deshipley Holiday E-xtravaganza Sale!

For one solid month – from now through January 20thalmost the entirety of the Danielle E. Shipley catalog will be available for 99 cents per ebook!

Via Amazon?” you clarify.

And Barnes & Noble, as well!

All eight volumes of The Wilderhark Tales? 99 cents apiece.

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 5

Inspired” novels 1 and 2? Same.

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”? An outlier: Actually free on Smashwords, December 25th – January 1st. (Cuz third annual Smashwords End of Year sale, yo.) And the follow-up Outlaws of Avalon novels? Again, just 99 cents each from Amazon and B&N.

Ballad and Marriage and Legend

Short story collection “Our Hungering Hearts”? Madcap paranormal “So Super Dead”? High seas fantasy “Deathsong of the Deep”? Fresh-off-the-presses “The Once and Future Camelot”? All! 99! Cents!

And then you’ve got titles like “An Avalon Christmas Carol”, “Truly Great Words Never Die”, “Beyond Her Infinity”, and “Windows and Sol”, which have been priced at 99 cents all along. (Available on Amazon only.)

Add it all up, and you could fill your e-reader with close to everything I’ve ever published for, like, twenty bucks.

Plus, just think: If even only – *does some hasty math* – thirty-ish people did that, I might be in the clear to order the last two pages of illustrations for picture book project “The Princess and the Moon!

Sidebar GoFundMe

“And wouldn’t that just be a Christmas miracle!” you sigh, enraptured.

You are waaay too invested in my life, Voice of Hypothetical You.

And I dig that.

Spend your pennies! Tell your friends! Gift those folks on your list who have everything except a heck-ton of Deshipley fiction! And in case I’m not back on the blog before the dawn of 2020, Happy New Year to you all. ;D

WHAMO! I’d Like to Shake the Academy…

WHAMO LogoHello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And it’s time for another edition of “WHAMO!” (which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier).

Today’s pick, though, isn’t a movie. Instead, it’s that great-granddaddy of television specials honoring the medium of movies itself:

THE OSCARS!

Oscars 2019

The Wikipedia-official description:

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”, although more commonly referred to by its nickname “Oscar”.

The Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast on radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953. It is the oldest worldwide entertainment awards ceremony and is now seen live worldwide.  […] The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best films of 2018, was held on February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre, in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

*Re: the ceremony’s opening ‘boom-boom-claps’* “YAAAASSSS, QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT! You are indeed rocking me!”

“Aaaand there’s the first obligatory political joke of the night. This year’s show doesn’t even have a host, but you can always count on someone stepping up to throw shade at the government.”

“I have not (to my regret) yet seen ‘The Favourite’, but Rachel Weisz was modeling quite The Look while lol-shooting Emma Stone, in this clip.”

“Is sea god Jason Mamoa wearing a scrunchie on his wrist? A scrunchie that matches his suit, no less?”

“And the documentary winner is… that guy climbing Yosemite free-hand!”

“That arch over the stage looks distractingly like a wig.”

“Am I wrong for envying Melissa McCarthy’s presenter outfit? (The answer is ‘yes’, but I’m not letting that stop me.)”

“Freshly-award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter is several layers of #goals. Related note: Wakanda forever!”

*Having spent several seconds devouring a dazzling J-Lo/Chris Evans combo with his eyes* “…I’m sorry, I haven’t heard a word they said. Which award are they presenting, right now?”

“Hannah Beachler, aka that gorgeous jungle flower fumbling for her production design victory speech on her phone, is the realest thing I’ve ever seen, and I love her.”

“I’m stealing that outfit from Jennifer Hudson and putting it on Danielle so she can unleash her biggest fabulous.”

*Re: James McAvoy/Danai Gurira presenting for Best Sound Design* “Slaaayyy, Okoye! You’re so good at it! (Side note: If James wants to play cousin Robin Hood, like, ever, that offer’s on the table.)”

*Re: Keegan-Michael Key’s entrance* “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”

“Those umbrellas look like an alien invasion, but thanks, Bette Midler, for performing a song much adored by certain of Danielle’s characters.”

*When the “Black Panther” clip plays … and ends* Will: “No! MORE!”

Allyn-a-Dale: “You could have just put in the DVD, but no, you said, ‘Let’s watch the Oscars.’”

“Academy Museum of Motion Pictures? That’s gonna be a thing? Danielle, can we go??”

“Groundbreaking animated masterpiece beats out even mother-loving Disney for Best Animated Feature! History is made! Sing hey and huzzah for ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’!”

“Anyone else crept out by that camera cut to Willem Dafoe during the ‘Spider-Verse’ acceptance speech? Was that an intentional throwback to yester-Spidey?”

“Okay, but where is my John Mulaney/Peik Lin buddy movie, tho?”

“Aw, man – bet you that woulda been the commercial break where I’d get a cool first look at a ‘Lion King’ remake trailer, if I’d watched this live.”

“If Merlin had said a decade ago that we could look forward to a love duet between Lady Gaga and Rocket Raccoon, no one would have taken him seriously.”

“Wait, Jessica Jones is pregnant?? (Is Luke Cage the father? Or does comic book canon not really affect Krysten Ritter’s day-to-day?)”

“ARGH, I’d managed to forget we lost Stan Lee! Thanks for throwing me back into mourning, In Memoriam!”

“So, Willem Dafoe got a role as Van Gogh, and… nobody told Vincent’s biggest minstrel fan, Allyn? Rude.”

“There’s a movie that’s just called ‘The Wife’? Not even gonna try to dress it up with a descriptor or anything? What comes next – ‘The Daughter’?”

“Olivia Coleman’s acceptance speech for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is the best of heartfelt British comedy.”

“What the— ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ wasn’t nominated for anything? But it was practically the most perfect film of the year! C’MON, Academy!”

More Coherently Summarized:

Was I entertained? Yes. Can the Oscars get by without a host? Clearly, though neither Danielle nor I would cry boo to them giving the spot back to Hugh Jackman. While I would not at all call myself a fan of the drama factory that is Hollywood, I can’t help but get hype for all the glittery glitz and glamour of Oscars night. Movies are AMAZING, and taking time to recognize not only the big stars that are the face of the films but also the categories of artists working their wizardry behind the scenes is awesome. Even if my top picks don’t score every accolade I think they deserve, there is something to be said just for being nominated. (Looking at you, ‘Black Panther’. You’re totally Best Picture of 2018 in my heart.)

Where are the POC?

More specifically, what is up with not giving ANY kudos to “Crazy Rich Asians”? Sure, there was black power aplenty, up onstage and onscreen, and several shout-outs to the Spanish-speaking community and immigrants in general. That’s all very well, good, and trendy, but is the Academy just going to ignore that “Asians” ran away with the box office? Don’t tell me a romantic comedy can’t be taken seriously as high art, because bullsh*t. That movie was gorgeous. It had scope. And intelligence. And an incredible cast made up almost entirely of a demographic that’s suffered every bit as much racist garbage in this country as any other person of color. (Japanese internment camps, anyone?) I don’t know which stuffy white dinosaurs voted to sweep “Crazy Rich Asians” under the red carpet, but this medieval Merry Man is handing out an entirely unofficial Tied-For-Best Picture Oscar. So there.

<<<>>>

And that’s today’s review! How about you guys? Did you watch the Oscars? Whose wins made you cheer, and who was bloody robbed? What’s your pick for last year’s Best Picture? Who are you wearing tonight? Discuss in the comments below!

‘Til next time, babes ~

Release the #KrakenBook! (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Back in the day,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

Available now!”

“—Would take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“But we’re pulling out today’s skit to mark a special occasion,” Will declares. “Namely, the launch of our author Danielle E. Shipley’s latest novel, ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ (now or soon to be available in paperback, cuz #TechnicalDifficulties, and in two e-book formats, here and here). So make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘Release the #KrakenBook’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a painted backdrop depicting a seascape beneath a twilight sky. Before it stands a makeshift pier, a ship-shaped cutout bobbing behind. Pacing to and fro along the dock is Marion Hood, in a canvas coat and sensible shoes. And sitting upon one of the pier’s posts is the one and only Gant-o’-the-Lute, playing a jaunty, nautical-sounding tune upon a fiddle as he begins the skit’s narration.]

Lute/Narrator: Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town.

Marion/Molly [brooding ]: My considerable imagination notwithstanding, I am hard put, at the moment, to conceive of a fate worse than a half-inevitable marriage to the ho-hum Caylum Buxby.

[An extra spot of light falls upon the ship cutout, whence comes a voice that sends Marion startling.]

Queen Guinevere/the Jessica: What about a half-inevitable death at sea?

Lute/Narrator: A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom.

Marion/Molly: I don’t know about the death part, but a life at sea would be thrilling. Can you really talk?

Guinevere/Jessica: And more.

Marion/Molly: Then let us discuss an arrangement.

Lute/Narrator: It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself.

[Marion steps from the dock and onto a platform on the Jessica cutout’s far side, while Lute and the pier begin rolling offstage, leaving the little ship and her captain alone ‘on the open sea’.]

Lute/Narrator [sounding his fiddlesong’s last notes just before vanishing into the wings ]: …But the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

[The lighting darkens from evening to night, and a new song echoes around the stage – Gant-o’-the-Lute’s voice layered over that of Little John, producing a resonantly high-and-low effect that is as lovely as it is deeply ominous.]

Marion/Molly [in horror and wonder ]: That song…!

[Amidst frenetic flashes of light that may cause seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy, towering shadows writhe over the backdrop.]

Guinevere/Jessica: Oh, no! It’s…!

krockenbook

[From above, Allyn-a-Dale swoops in on a wire, a mechanical pair of black-feathered wings pumping at his back.]

Allyn/Johnny: Hang on! I’ve got you!

[The deathsong duet howling into an angry finish, Allyn scoops Marion from the cutout ship which sinks beneath the stage via trapdoor.]

Marion/Molly: First of all, thank you. Second, who are you? And third, if I may ask – what are you?

Allyn/Johnny: You’re welcome and Johnny and do you know those ancient Grecian depictions of sirens as birds with women’s heads?

Marion/Molly: Our world doesn’t have Greece, but sure.

Allyn/Johnny: Well, my mother was one.

Marion/Molly: A Greek?

Allyn/Johnny: The other thing.

Marion/Molly: Ah, good. That’s easier believed.

[From the wings – (the stage’s wings, not Johnny’s) – emerges a much larger, sturdier ship set piece than hitherto seen, on the deck of which stands Will Scarlet in a flamboyant embroidered coat and excellent boots. …Also Gant-o’-the-Lute, this time playing accordion.]

Lute/Narrator: Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow…

Will/Crow: Ahoy, Johnny-lad! What have you got there?

Allyn/Johnny [coming to deposit Marion onto the ship next to Will ]: I’ve got a Molly!

Will/Crow: #ThatsCanon. Hey, Molly-babe. Y’wanna join the Painted Lady?

Marion/Molly: I am skeptical of you, but all right.

Lute/Narrator: …Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong.

Marion/Molly: Well, dang.

Will/Crow: Aw man, is it my fault?

Allyn/Johnny: I mean, probably.

Lute/Narrator [his accordion taking up a reprise of the deathsong duet ]: Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

Will/Crow: Worry not, Molly! True love always finds a way!

Allyn/Johnny: You say that like this is “The Wilderhark Tales”.

Lute/Narrator [shrugging ]: It’s from the same author, for whatever that’s worth.

[From the opposite wings, Eddie Millerson pokes in his head for a cameo appearance as Caylum Buxby.]

Eddie/Caylum [smirking like he thinks he’s funny ]: What is a Molly worth, anyway?

Marion/Molly [pointing ]: And that is why no one is marrying you.

<<<>>>

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to Danielle E. Shipley and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “the one for writing and publishing ‘Deathsong of the Deep’, and the other for mentioning on multiple occasions how she loved and misses the golden age of Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre.”

“Remember, beautiful audience,” says Will, “that ‘Deathsong’ is currently available as an e-book (here and here), and if it’s not already up in paperback, it should be very soon. If you enjoyed yourselves (or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), be sure to purchase your copy or copies today! (And please-and-thank-you leave a review once you’ve finished devouring the masterpiece, okay? Okay.) Also, don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

30 Things I’ve Done by Age 30

As of October’s end, I have – officially – outlived my 20s.

To Child Me, I’m ancient. To actual ancient people, I’m a child. To new acquaintances who ask my age, I’m a constant surprise, because ‘twould seem I still look like a college kid, notwithstanding my one or two inconspicuous gray hairs.

Based on Twitter memes mocking the concept, I can only guess that there exists Some So-Called Authority trying to dictate exactly what you “ought to” have accomplished by the time you reach your thirtieth year.

I, for one, refuse to waste a moment searching online for what these “ought to”-s might be. At best, it’ll prompt my derisive laughter. At worst, it’ll trigger my brain’s depression chemicals. Forget somebody’s “should haves”. I’ll focus instead on my “did”-s.

…Which by no means need match anyone else’s achievements/experiences! We’ve all done cool or mundane or magical things that others haven’t, and missed out on or chosen to forgo cool/mundane/magical things that others have done. That’s called life, and mine’s just one of ‘em.

Fortunately, I think I may be able to scrape together a list that lets my sleeping depression chemicals lie. In my first 30 years, I have…

1 = Written. A lot. Most of my millions of words may never see the light of day, but a hefty number of them have actually been read by friends and kinfolk, fans and strangers, and even paid for with legal tender, because— well, let’s be real, the “because” deserves its own number on the list.

2 = Published Myself. And been published by others, on occasion, but it’s been mostly me by my proud little lonesome.

NCPL Author Event Display
Display courtesy of my amazing parents who, when I was unavailable to attend an author event across the country last week, volunteered to set up and show up on my behalf. ❤

3 = Fed Waterfowl from a Balcony (Midwest, USA). Because the condo of my earliest youth had a pond in back, and what is bread for, if not getting thrown down to ruin the digestion of muttering ducks and cruel Canadian geese?

4 = Paraphrased Shakespeare from a Balcony (Bamburg, Germany). That one little corner of the cruise-sponsored guided tour demanded my theatrics! And from all I could tell, at least the cute tour guide enjoyed it heartily.

5 = Made Several (Official) Best Friends. The cousin my stay-at-home mom babysat while her parents were at work. (We sometimes see each other at family gatherings, still.) The girl from church with whom I made up silly saying-hello traditions and sillier home video variety shows. (Haven’t heard from her in years.) The pen pal from art camp who acknowledged my characters as people before I’d even embraced the author life. (We emailed back and forth for ages, only for her to simply… disappear… and then reappear on my radar, just the other week! #ThanksForSomethingFacebook) The little sister whose tagalong attentions I shunned, and whose validation for my various artworks I chased, and who is sometimes like my twin born three years late. (We make time to trade inside jokes over the phone and online, every so often.) And – latest but far from least – the writer bestie with whom I make my home.

“A-HEM?!”

Oh, sorry, Will Scarlet. And you.

6 = Driven the Dangerous Back-Mountain Roads of Maui. And somehow avoided rolling off a cliff so as to tell the tale!

7 = Memorized “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Which has come in handy during tedious work shifts when I needed to keep my brain musically entertained, let me tell you.

8 = Won Gold Medals in Classical Piano Competitions. In spite of appendages that turn blue with cold when I get super stage fright.

9 = Learned to Actually Love Making Music On My Own Terms. My Bach may be rusty beyond easy repair, but there are songs in my heart that demand to be set free however I’m able. And on that note (pun acknowledged)…

Minstrel Selfie
Click the pic to see my newest song recording shared on my birthday on the Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale Facebook page ^.^

10 = TOTALLY BOUGHT A LUTE. Which was an actual bucket list item of mine, so brava, wannabe minstrel.

11 = Owned a Dog. Good old Maximillian Devineaux Shipley. To this day (well… night?), I have occasional dreams in which I need to feed him or let him out to do his business and wonder why I’m still taking care of a cranky old doggo that got put down in 2012. I guess that’s part of what they mean about those you love never truly leaving you.

12 = Lived in a Tiny German Village. I miss the million wooded trails.

13 = Lived in a Gigantic (Yosemite) National Park. Ditto, plus the rivers and mountains and waterfalls.

14 = Engaged in Some Hippie ‘Trust Fall with the Earth’ Thing. If Tirzah and I ever turn our Yosemite times into memoirs, that story will get told.

15 = Sleepwalked through a Fire Alarm. Would’ve just plain slept it through, but my sisters insisted I evacuate, and were most flustered when I refused to go anywhere before I’d found my socks.

16 = Worn a Back Brace for Scoliosis. Come for the straightened spine, stay for the laugh whenever you can con someone into punching the hard plastic armoring your torso.

17 = Yelled at People in a Faux English Accent for Money. Renaissance Faires: Where Dreams Come True.

Towne Crier Throwback
Photo cred to fantastic Faire photog John Karpinksy.

18 = Gotten Countless Hopeless Crushes. First on fictional people. Then on real people I’d never meet. Then on real people I had met. Then on fictional people I had met… Doesn’t matter where it falls on the chart; everything’s painful.

19 = Realized I’m Asexual. Which hasn’t saved me from painful crushes, but I guess self-discovery is its own reward?

20 = Discovered Why Adults Take Naps. Child Me had no idea.

21 = Watched the Sun Shine Through Falling Rain. I’m not being all deep and metaphorical here. We’re talking literal weather, and it was hecka pretty.

22 = DESPAIRED. I mentioned my brain’s depression chemicals, right?

23 = Become an Auntie. I did not know why aunties fussed about being aunties. Then I got a baby nephew, and darned if he didn’t make off with half my heart.

Baby Nephew and Me

24 = Visited Manchester (England), Unaccompanied. And got a great hat and jacket, while in the neighborhood.

25 = Maybe Figured Out How to Compartmentalize Setbacks So That a Bad Moment, Bad Hour, Bad Morning or Afternoon or Evening Doesn’t Have to Equal an Entire Bad Day, Bad Week, Bad Life. This alone may facilitate me surviving to make this kind of list at 50.

26 = Been Asked, While Eating Meat, Whether I’m a Vegetarian. Another one for the memoirs. <_<

27 = Attended Two Funerals for Strangers, Since I Was in the Neighborhood. And was unable to attend a couple funerals for people I actually cared about. Go figure.

28 = Thrice Been a Wedding’s Flower Girl, Once a Bridesmaid, and Once Maid of Honor. I’ve no plans to ever try my luck as a bride, but there are fictional fellows who could show up and change my mind.

29 = Not Murdered Anyone Yet. There’s still time.

30 = Believed in Magic. Past tense for nothing. I believe in it still.

Happy 30 years of life to me! Wanna help me celebrate? You could make buying (and/or reviewing!) a Danielle E. Shipley book a thing you’ve done – whatever your age. 😉

What’s a cool, mundane, or magical something YOU’VE done with your life, so far? Share below!

The [Re]view from Release Day

Hey, everybody! Annabelle, here – unofficial author of today’s brand new releases: “Inspired” (available here and here, “Out of My Head” (available here and here, and “Lightbulb Moments: An INSPIRED Journal” (right here, folks)!

Covers 1, 2, and Journal

I say “unofficial” because, y’know, I’m technically a character (an AUTHOR character, but still), so it’s Danielle’s name that gets pride of place on the cover and copyright documentation and promo. Her plane of reality = her bragging rights, apparently.

But I was still very involved in the making of these books, meaning it’s only right I likewise be very involved in their Release Day blog post. My role in the latter (apart from the intro, obvs)? Rounding up my muse and character friends and assigning them perhaps the most underrated of all reader-related tasks: Sharing their book reviews.

Certainly, book reviews shared from actual, “real-world” readers would be twice as legit and thrice as thrilling for Danielle, but she has 0% control about if or when those get written and posted on Amazon/B&N.com/Goodreads, etc. That’s what’s great about having characters in your head: You’ve got maybe 11% control of them. ;D

So, time to hear it straight from The Guys. What thought ye all of the “Inspired” novels? ^^

<<<>>>

An Enlightening Work for Wordsmiths (5 stars)

“A unique and colorful exploration of not only the world of writing, but the multitude of worlds behind it. Recommended (if not required) reading for any who wish to more intimately engage with their own acts of creation.”

– Lucianíel, elemental muse

Outstanding! Phenomenal! And Super Fun, Too! (ALL THE STARS)

“I love stories! And this one’s really good! (And by ‘this one’, I mean ‘these two’, because duology. But that’s just a fancy name for a single story broken into halves, right?) My favorite thing about its structure is how it moves around between people and perspectives and planes; no staying still and sitting stuck, no sirree! Comes with a great variety of voice, too. And a lot of the chapters are pretty short, so you can speed right through ‘em, which is good if your attention span is kinda … nonexistent. Things that are existant, in spades: This story’s humor and heart. If you’re not laughing and crying, then wow, what even are you? Gimme your story; I’d love to know it.”

– Mach Jenius, brainstorm

Feline Sidelined, But Otherwise Fine (3 stars)

“If you like stories split up among an ensemble cast, good for you; these books do this. But my main investment was in the extraordinary cat character, and he wasn’t given nearly enough page time. What comes of letting humans do the authoring, I suppose. Aside from the mishandling of [what ought to have been] the main plot, though, the story was interesting enough.”

– Abishan, god of all cats

What a Journey! (5 stars)

“I very much enjoyed watching the characters develop over the course of the duology’s arc. From small and scared, to unafraid of taking rightful space. From hard and closed, to open enough that others might come in. From forlorn and isolated, to joined with loved ones in joy. My heart ached along with each of them upon their varied journeys, and by the end, I simply wanted to squeeze the entire company in a hug! (Fortunately, I believe most of them will let me.)”

– Wilbur Lamb, fantasy knight

Has Its High Points (4 stars)

“Skillfully written. Diverse cast. Ridiculous premise, but arguably in an avant-garde kinda way. Personally, I’d have preferred more action, less philosophizing on art and its making; when plot happened, though, it was cool. And I guess there were worthwhile messages, too, for those willing to receive them. Semi-biblical, in that way. … in a number of ways, come to think of it. But yeah, no, do not treat this as scripture. It’s edutainment at most.”

– Uri, heavenly warrior

An Important Gift (5 stars)

“The first word to mind to describe this story of stories is: Important. And different readers, I expect, will find it so for different reasons. For some, it may prove itself a helpful guide in becoming the writer they wish to be. For others, the emotions will resonate; the grief, the fear, the longing, the loneliness… love and laughter and tastes of euphoria. The second description these stories inspire: A gift. For those who made them, those who lived them… and, one may hope, for you.”

– Avelaine (that is all, and enough)

<<<>>>

Thanks, Guys! And thanks in advance to any and all purchasers, readers, reviewers, and fans of the “Inspired” novels (and its companion journal). Don’t hesitate to let us all know what you think of our art! (And, I mean, if you wanna make fan art, probably only a couple of us would actually die of gratitude, so it’s all good.)

Oh! And about the journal: Don’t forget that Danielle’s got a giveaway going on! One lucky somebody is getting a free copy of “Lightbulb Moments”. When? Winner name selected on April 17th. How do you enter? Pertinently enough, by writing reviews! Just link Danielle to your Amazon review of an “Inspired” novel before the April deadline (review both books for double your chances of winning! Copy the review on the Barnes & Noble site for even more points), and a free “Lightbulb Moments” journal could be yours.

Is that it? Did I cover everything I was supposed to? Gads, this blogging thing isn’t as easy as she makes it look… Lemme check my notes… Um, ‘kay, looks like you should know there are gonna be read-aloud novel excerpt videos hitting the authorial Facebook page throughout today, so keep your eyes and ears open for those. That’s it! That’s all! Happy Release Day to us!

Much love from a plane apart,

~ Annabelle Iole Gray (on behalf of Danielle E. Shipley)

Truly Great LEGEND’s Release

Happy birthday, Kevin of the Backstreet Boys Release Day to “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”! At last, the third and final novel in my trilogy of magically immortal Merry Men is available for purchase – both in paperback (CreateSpace, Amazon) and e-book (Barnes & Noble, Amazon).

Go! Buy! ***Review, pretty please*** I don’t want you here reading a blog post – I want you reading the book!

But for those of you just joining us who don’t know all the excellent reasons why you should be reading the book, here’s a roundup of the “Legend” content I’ve shared over the past weeks:

Things I Love About Outlaws 3 – in which I gush about a few of my favorite #LEGENDofAaD features

Why I Wrote The Outlaws of Avalon – in which I reminisce on the unique reasons behind each Outlaws book’s existence

Villains of LEGEND – in which we meet the bad guys standing ready to antagonize Sherwood’s heroes

An Interview with Will Scarlet – in which the Merry Madman gives an exclusive scoop over on Beyond Your Book (bookauthors.online)

Combination Station: When Legends Collide – in which I guest post re: mashing up Robin Hood lore with Arthuriana on the blog of That Artsy Reader Girl as part of the Magic, Myth, and Mischief event

In a Faire Fight – in which we get to watch a piece of the street entertainment that makes some Renaissance Faires so gosh-darn exciting

The Recap of Allyn-a-Dale – in which Allyn graciously reminds us of the trilogy’s most relevant plot points leading up to the finale

Also, I’ve got a number of new Outlaws 3-inspired designs in my Society6 store. So if you want to support me by adding some pretty mugs, notebooks, and whatnot to your life, shop away.

And oh yeah – I’ve got a Goodreads giveaway going on. Five proof copies of “Legend” from like a month ago are sitting around, begging for loving homes. So now through next Friday, Oct. 13th, you can enter to win one – signed by yours truly. No guarantee what your odds in the raffle will be, though, so were I you, I’d be sure to order a finished copy of the book, too, just in case. ;D

THANK YOU, readers who have journeyed with me to the Faire and beyond thus far. Now to discover where this last stage of the journey will take our outlaws of Avalon…

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.!