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)

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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.!

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!)