In Which an Old Tale Shall Shine Like New

Once upon a time, an author wrote of a smile in the dark.

Taking her father’s great hand in her tiny fingers, Laraspur led him to her bed and urgently bade him lay his head on her pillow. […] “Now look!” she said, pointing toward her bedroom window. “Do you see it, Papa? The scary smiling thing? What is it?”

“That?” Edgwyn aimed his gaze as directed and had to quiet a laugh. “Dear heart, that’s only the moon!”

‘Twas but the beginning of a novella-length tale of a large-hearted girl and her quest for the sky, and inspired a number of related art projects from the author – including various drawings, a pretty little song and, one day very recently, an idea for a picture book.

Princess and the Moon, fan art triptych

Mind you, as far as the picture book the author envisioned, her own illustration skills left much to be desired. Thus did she turn to an old Renaissance Faire friend whose fine drawings had paired with other of the author’s works before, inviting her to collaborate on a new masterpiece.

Sun's Rival Cover, full spread udpateAnd that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

That inspirational novella was the fifth of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Sun’s Rival”.

That friend was artist and illustrator Hannah Vale.

And the picture book in the works as we speak is to be called “The Princess and the Moon”.

This is my first-ever effort to make an honest-to-goodness, for-real-and-for-sale picture book (though Hannah has some experience in the area), and I am VERY MUCH EXCITED!

Behold, the back-cover book description:

When a young girl is startled awake by a singular light in the sky, her father spins her a tale made of sunbeams and stardust – the tale of a remarkable princess and the two opposite hearts that loved her. Adapted from “The Sun’s Rival”, Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales novellas by author Danielle E. Shipley, and illustrated by artist Hannah Vale (“The Tale of the Two Royal Sisters”), “The Princess and the Moon” is sure to charm readers young and old, both by day and by night.

Promo Sketch, w text 02

Behold also, the GoFundMe I’ve started to help cover the project’s expenses. (Because quality illustrations cost quantity cash, amigos!)

– Donors of any amount will receive a special thank-you illustration by Hannah Vale.

– Donors of $10 or more will receive one (1) copy of the finished picture book, to have and to hold, to read and to cherish.

– Donors of $30 or more will receive a copy of the book autographed by yours truly.

– Donors of $50 or more will receive book + autograph + a limited edition “The Princess and the Moon” promotional bookmark.

– Donors of $100 or more will receive book + autograph + bookmark + an “I See You” sticker from my Society6 shop (because see you, I do!).

So donate and follow along on the GoFundMe to stay updated on what your dollars are helping to bring into the world! Spread the word to all your picture-book-lovingest friends! And I, for one, shall strive not to bust from anticipation before I’m able to read “The Princess and the Moon” to my beloved baby nephew. ^o^

Excited to see the heart of “The Sun’s Rival” in an all-new format? Have any favorite childhood story book memories to share? Think any other bits from Deshipley canon would make a worthy picture book? Tell all in the comments!

Release the #KrakenTat

Once upon a time, an author sat in a tattoo parlor on the isle of Maui. She wasn’t there for herself, but for her sister, who had taken it into her head to get some fresh ink during their vacation with an uncle, and between the pair of them, the author was the only one old enough to drive the rental car.

So while the sister got her work done in the back, the author passed the time by scribbling semi-illegibly in her journal, the words wandering into a conversation with one of her closest characters about what sort of tattoo she would go for, if ever she did. She was pretty sure she never would, out of fear that she’d decide a month or a year or a decade too late that she was tired of seeing any one design etched permanently onto her person. But if she did…

“A kraken,” the character said, without hesitation. “I could totally see you with a tentacle tattoo. […] Same for something with the moon.”

Because that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And that character – surely to no one’s surprise – was Will Scarlet. Perhaps more surprising, that very day was the one Danielle envisioned the matching tattoos worn by Will and Allyn in “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”.

And most surprising of all, Will Scarlet was 100% on point. Because three years later – coincidentally just weeks after the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” (aka #KrakenBook) – I do most proudly introduce to you… #KrakenTat.

KrakenTat Tryptich
#KrakenTat at 2 hours old.

The Design: Circling the right arm just below the elbow, a musical stave with a treble clef, in which some of the stave’s lines form the irregular peaks and valleys of a soundwave. Rising therefrom, a trio of tentacles, one of which curves possessively around a crescent moon at my wrist.

The Brainstorm Behind It: If I was going to get a tattoo – which I unexpectedly found myself more and more eager to do – it had to be deeply and undeniably me. Hence the tentacles (my soul is a sea monster) and the moon (my soul mate in the sky). I thought at first to have the encircling band in my design look like actual water (my element, naturally), but my searches online for inspiration / a guide for my future tattoo artist yielded nothing that hit me quite right.

What did hit me: Music. (My language beyond words.) And finding an image of a soundwave stave pleased me doubly because, again, “Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” matching tats. (Anything to feel closer to my brothers in Sherwood!)

I wasn’t originally thinking to include the treble clef, but when my artist – (Antonio of Mod&Art Studio) – kept it as part of his rough-draft sketch for my approval, I decided it wasn’t broke and needed no fixing. Also originally, I’d imagined having one or more the tentacles curling all the way around my forearm. But again, the rough-draft sketch didn’t do that, and I liked the way it looked as-was, so I didn’t push the circling tentacles, just the circling stave.

The (3-to-4-Hour) Moment of Truth: The number-one question I’ve received since showing off my new tattoo = “[How much] did it hurt?”

My answer = “It varied.”

Antonio warned me the wrist would likely be the most painful area, and he spoke the truth. On much of my forearm, the pain wasn’t generally much worse than the sensation of a prolonged scratch. On the wrist, though, it felt more like someone was trying to murder me and make it look like a suicide.

I’d hoped Tirzah might be there to distract me and/or keep my spirits up, since she happened to have the day off of work. But alas, the reason she took off work in the first place was because she had a cold, and Antonio requested that she not bring her sniffle-and-cough germs into the workspace. Fair enough. I was on my own.

Fortunately, there was some diversion in the form of a mounted TV bingeing “Good Girls” on Netflix. Over the course of my appointment, I – and a couple of ladies who showed up later to get inked by the other artist in da house – kept us all entertained by offering commentary on the fictional women getting in over their heads in a money laundering racket. And when even that wasn’t enough to take my mind off my arm’s suffering, I internally tapped out and had one of my Camelot knights sit through it for me. (#ChivalryLives)

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190228_152427952_BURST000_COVER_TOP
The tat-in-progress pic sent to Tirzah during a short break in my ow-ow-ow marathon.

Even with the foresight to eat a big breakfast before what I’d been warned would be a 3-to-4-hour job, by the end, my body was very much ready for food and the cessation of toughing out pain. (Just ha-a-ad to insist on inking a full-circle musical stave bracelet, did I? Ow.) I’d planned to remind Antonio I’d mentioned wanting some white ink added to the moon, but the thought of more work on the wrist did not appeal to me at that point, so I let it go. Antonio gave some brief after-care instructions, I paid up, and Tirzah – back just in time to catch the end of my ordeal – treated me to Ethiopian dinner.

Then came the fun part! Aka, anxiety re: what if I somehow manage to screw up my tattoo skin care and EVERYTHING IS TRAGEDY?!

In order to calm myself down, I spent part of the next morning looking around online for second, third, and fourth opinions for the “so, you just got a tattoo” crowd.

A few generally agreed upon do-s and don’t-s:

DO – Keep the skin clean with antibacterial soap (unscented preferred)

– Avoid prolonged exposure to water (especially chemical pool water) and sun

– Use some manner of protection against germs and drying out (Antonio prescribed thin layers of diaper rash cream A+D, applied as needed over the first four days, and Jergens ultra-healing lotion starting on day five)

DON’T – Let the world’s unwashed hands touch your new tat ‘til it’s healed (takes 2 to 3 weeks)

– Over-protect by keeping bandaged in plastic wrap or mega-thick layers of goop, because now the skin can’t breathe

– Pick at the skin when it starts peeling like a sunburn; it’s a normal part of the process and scratching more skin away will just up your chances for infection

– Panic if the area weeps a little clear plasma; this is also fine and normal (vs. colorful and/or smelly discharges, which will want medical attention)

Epilogue:

As I type this, we are a week in and at “peeling like a sunburn” phase. The pain was down to virtually zero within 24 hours, sensitivity has been steadily dropping, and with every day that passes without incident, my fear decreases as well.

Only another week to go, past this blog’s posting, and my tattoo will be just another part of me – albeit one of my cooler outer parts, revealing to the world a few core pieces of coolness that have been inside me all along.

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190301_122242173
Murdoch would approve.

That’s my first tattoo story! Got one of your own to share? See me in the comments!

Hello-o-o, Love-a-Thon 2016!

LoveAThon 2016

It’s Love-a-Thon time! Brought to us by our happenin’ hosts, Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Hazel (Stay Bookish), and Mel (The Daily Prophecy), we’ve got a weekend of book love all throughout the blogosphere.

There are a ton of activities planned over the next two days, and Lord only knows how many I’ll have the time and social energy to participate in (probably not a ton). But I for sure wanted to get in on the fun some way, so let’s start out with… *roll of drums* …the introductory questionnaire!

What’s your name?

The name’s Danielle E. Shipley – or Deshipley, for short. I will also answer to “The Cool One”, once we’ve all had a good laugh.

Where in the world are you blogging from?

Just north of Chicago, currently, though I’ll be headed back up to room with my BFF in Germany, soon. Chicagoland’s my birth place and lifelong residence so far, but Europe feels closer to home.

How did you get into blogging in the first place?

Aforementioned BFF talked me into it, saying it would be of some benefit to me as an author, and possibly even fun. She wasn’t entirely wrong.

How did you come up with your blog name?

Brainstorming with BFF and my character friends, we happened upon and liked the double entendre of Ever On Word. 1, the play on “ever onward”, which is kind of like an unofficial motto of mine. 2, the fact that I’ve pretty much always got at least one MS Word document open – usually two to five. And probably at least half-a-dozen Internet tabs. I’m a multitasking mess.

What types of posts do you do on your blog?

It’s varied, through the 5-ish years I’ve been online. At the beginning, I just selected a word I thought could inspire a few hundred more, and cheerily babbled about it. Once I started publishing stories – as a part of assorted anthologies, or in my own self-published books – it’s been tempting to talk about them ALL THE TIME, but I make sure to mix it up. I’ve also done shout-outs for other people’s publications and reviews of books I’ve read (when I can organize my impressions enough to write ‘em), shared original flash fiction and poetry, and for a while, my character/muse/BFF #2 Will Scarlet liked to take over with a screwball stage show and character interviews. So a little bit of everything, or a lot of nothing, depending whether it’s me or Will in charge.

Best blogging experience so far?

Probably gotta give this one to Save-a-Word Saturday, a retired meme from The Feather and the Rose. I had a great time discovering archaic words and incorporating them into fun little vignettes. I miss the weekly challenge, but it’s not the end of the road for my micro-fiction. One of these days, they’ll be a book. Stay tuned.

zRavenKing

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

Three jump readily to mind!

1 – “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the Raven Cycle series, and I’m sad for it to end, but that doesn’t make me want the fourth and final book in my hands any less urgently!

zSavageSong

2 – “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab. It’s about music and monsters and by V.E. Schwab. I’m in.

3 – “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” by Danielle E. Shipley. Seriously. It’s Book One of the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy – aka, the writing project dearest to my heart. Minstrelsy, magic, mayhem … and best of all, Merry Men! I Robin-Hood-fangirled my way through this thing, and I’m SO BEYOND EAGER to finally share it with readers! (And I’m totally offering eARCs in exchange for honest reviews. Hit me up if you’re interested!)

zHamilton

4 – okay, this where it gets tougher. Let’s go with… “Hamilton: The Revolution” by Lin-Manuel Miranda / Jeremy McCarter. Don’t know whether I’ll ever get to see the musical onstage, but I’ve been sucked down the “Hamilton” hole via the soundtrack, and I love behind-the-scenes stuff for movies ‘n’ musicals, so I’d eat this book up.

Some Kind of Happiness

5 – …what else is even happening this year? *skims to-read list* Oh, okay, how about “Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand. It’s got a fantasy forest and a protagonist who shares my depression struggle. I’m bound to get something out of it.

Sigil of the Wyrm

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

I’ll bet you anything that not enough people are reading “Sigil of the Wyrm”. Go read “Sigil of the Wyrm”.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Pretty sure my Will Scarlet has totally claimed that spot.

Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

Kelsier from Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”, please!

What would your dream library look like?

Spiral Staircase

It’s in a castle. (Books.)

In a forest far, far away. (Books.)

The room is drenched in sunlight. (So many books.)

Cozy window nooks in blue and gray, with an ever-changing view of a lake. (Beautiful books.)

Everything is wood. (Books, books, books.)

Except the spiral staircase (wrought iron, probably ) going up to the balcony (of EVEN MORE BOOKS).

Those rolling shelf ladder things are up there (‘cause what better way to reach ALL THE BOOKS?).

Throw in a piano and invisible servants to bring me tea, and I’ll probably never leave this room. (Home is where the books are.)

That’s it for my intro post. Looking forward to hopping around the other participating blogs to see what all the awesome kids are up to. ;D I’ll probably have at least one more Love-a-Thon post up later today, so stay tuned!

I’d Tell You, But I’d Have to Kiss You (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 reads the introduction, as provided by author Tirzah Duncan:

Thirteen-year-old Wren has been a servant in the secret assassins’ guild headquarters ever since she can remember. If you can keep away from the boss’s fingers, it’s not bad work—and the assassins might even teach you a few of their tricks over the years.

But when the old boss gets knocked off (you know how it is in an assassins’ guild), the exquisitely handsome man who takes his place is… you know, exquisitely handsome, and Wren will do everything in her power to come to his notice as his most helpful, most loyal, most above-and-beyond servant.

It’s all small errands and daydreams until she stumbles onto the new boss’s most perplexing secret habit.

“Welcome, Wren!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – this new boss of yours: Is he more exquisitely handsome than me? Be honest; I’ve got thick skin. Thick, radiant, reasonably blemish-free skin.”

Wren shrugs one shoulder. “Well. His skin may be far more scarred up than yours, but that’s a plus in my eyes. You’re very pretty, sir, but not my type. Skin and voice and feature, I prefer my men rugged.” She pulls a face. “I say that like I have any man at all.”

“Rugged, hmm?” The corner of Will’s mouth tugs down to a dissatisfied angle. “I expect you’d prefer my cousin Robin to me, then. Meh, well, you wouldn’t be the first. So,” he says, rallying his good spirits, “how’d you get your foot in the door with an assassins’ guild, anyway? One of those ‘not what you know, but who you know’ deals, or…?”

“Mum was with them until a plague took her. I was almost old enough to be of help, so a couple of her friends put up with me until I could. I don’t know how she got the job.”

“Pity about your mother; my long-belated condolences. But hey, focusing on the potential positive…” Will’s brows jump upward. “Have they let you assassinate anyone yet?”

The girl’s eyes widen. “Chance’s Dice, no! I serve assassins, I’m not one myself.”

“Oh, fine; less chance of me getting knifed or poison-darted during the interview, that way. Now, say you were to make a career move. What do you suppose you’d like to do? Got any particular aptitudes you could capitalize on, or dreams you wish to fulfill?”

“Truly? I’d not thought on it. But, well, I do know bits and pieces of this thing and that. I might make a good… I’m not half sure what. Pickpocket, liar, thief, code reader, knife fighter, and so on. I was just interested in learning what they were interested in teaching.” She looks contemplative. “If I ever want to move up, though, I’d only need to improve at what I already know, and I reckon I could be an assassin, or something near it. I’d not thought on it.”

“Well, you’re young yet,” Will says cheerfully. “Time enough to decide what you want to do with your life – especially if you decide to go the ‘truly great legend’ route and live forever, like some of us do. On a maybe, maybe-not related note: About this ‘perplexing secret habit’ of your employer’s. Can you give us a hint about what that secret might be? Or, y’know, just blatantly blab the whole thing?”

She looks offended. “And if I did my job as badly as all that, I’d be long dead by now, Master Scarlet! Only reason I’m telling you any of this is because you’re in a whole different world. But if it’s the boss’s secret, it’s his to tell or keep to himself as it pleases him.”

Will shrugs in good-natured defeat. “Oh, well. Can’t blame me for trying. Speaking of secrets, though, I’ve made no secret about what’s coming next. Tell me, what is your author Tirzah’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He grins. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Wren’s cheeks go a shade scarlet, and she squirms back in her seat. “I told you, you’re not my type. And Tirzah’s not my boss, nor an assassin—” (“That’s what YOU think!” Tirzah yells from the background) “—nor any other part of my guild,” Wren continues, “so I guess I can tell the world what she’d not like it to be knowing.”

“Ohhh, goody.” Will rubs his hands together in anticipation. “Go on, tell all!”

She searches her author’s brain for a moment. “Well, seeing as you all know my crush, you may as well know one of hers. D’you know Mycroft Holmes, as played by Mark Gatiss? Old, funny-looking, always carries an umbrella? Well, she doesn’t half fancy him.” Wren snickers, finding her author’s taste hilariously bizarre.

“I like him for his personality,” Tirzah defends from the background.

“He has the personality of a block of ice,” Wren retorts.

“A block of hilariously snide, very powerful ice,” Tirzah mutters from the background.

“Well defended, Tirzah,” Will chuckles, then leans forward to shake his guest’s hand. “Thank you, Wren, for that revealing end to a charming interview. Give your regards to your boss for me, eh? On the off-chance he ever wants to take a turn in the hot seat, he has only to ask. Now, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Tirzah Duncan’s ‘Cry of the Nightbird’.

Nightbird cover, final

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?

“That’s ‘Cry of the Nightbird’,” Allyn concludes, “currently available in e-format via Amazon.”

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Scarlet’s Kiss and Tell

Ho, Ever On Word readers! Will Scarlet, here. And normally, this would be the part of the week where I’d say, “Welcome, one and all, to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre, yadda, etc., and so on.

But not today.

Now, don’t you panic, you, like, three diehard fans of the feature. (Love you guys, by the way. Rock stars, all of you. Don’t ever change.) I’m not calling it quits on the Saturday skits, and the “Jack and the Genre-nauts” series will resume next week. But if you know me, you know I like to mix things up and try new stuff and generally go as crazy on Danielle’s blog as she’ll let me get away with. (Which is a lot, since I’m totally her favorite. …sorta tied with Edgwyn, but whatever.) So starting soon, there’s going to be a new blog feature here every second Saturday. ‘Cause I don’t just want to run a theatre. I want a talk show!

Here’s the deal: I love meeting new people. It is my absolute favorite thing – along with swordplay and snacks and the entertaining time-sucks of the Internet. Danielle, of course, can only write so many new kids for me to play with. Fortunately, she is so not the only author your world has to offer.

HEY, CHARACTERS! Yes, you – the fictional ones! Can you hear me, out there? I want to talk to you! I want to drag you into my spotlight and show you off to everyone within my online reach! So here’s what you gotta do. You listening? Good. You tell your authors to hit up Danielle’s contact page and give her the following information:

Your name [e.g., Will Scarlet]

Brief character description [e.g., the manic dreamboat of Robin Hood’s Merry Men; friendly, funny, a skilled stage combatant; and did I mention he’s gorgeous, ‘cause wow; also, not full of himself at all; currently craving cookies]

Brief summary of character’s story/book [e.g., um, insert clever blurb here. Danielle’s drafted a few for Book One of the trilogy, but she’s not altogether sure of the worth of any of them, so… Sherwood meets Camelot meets modern-day Renaissance Faire. Plot ensues. It’s epic]

Book’s availability, if applicable [e.g., The Outlaws of Avalon, coming sometime after Danielle wraps up The Wilderhark Tales; stay tuned]

Once we’ve received your preliminary stats, I’ll send you a few interview questions, you’ll answer them, and then Danielle will schedule a Saturday in between Interactive Theatre skits to post our little chat to the blog!

Oh, and one more thing. At the very end of our interview, you’ll have a “Truth or Dare”-esque choice before you: You’ve either got to tell me your author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret, or kiss me. Treat that as punishment or positive incentive as you will. ;D

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.
Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

Sounds totally fun, right? A bit of free publicity for you and your author, a little something to help keep me from going stir-crazy over here… Winning all around! So what are you waiting for? It’s first come, first serve! Unless your author wants to try to coordinate the post with some bookish release or event they’re doing, in which case, work it out with Danielle; she tries to be obliging. Now start clamoring to be a part of this, or it will seriously break my heart. (I do this for YOU, people! …And for me, but for YOU!)

‘Til next time, friends: Scarlet out!

Meet My Character Blog Tour and “INSPIRED Days”

Blogs are hoppin’ as part of the Meet My Character Blog Tour! Here’s how it works, as explained to me by the author who tagged me:

This tour highlights a main character from your WIP (work in progress), recently published work, or soon to be published work. The person who invites you will have a set day to post. You will post one (or two) week(s) after that, the authors you tag will post one/two week(s) after you, and so on. Here are the questions to answer about your main character:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

2) When and where is the story set?

3) What should we know about him/her?

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

6) Is there a working title for this novel if it is a WIP, and can we read more about it? OR what is the title of this novel and where can it be found?

If a WIP: 7) When can we expect the book to be published?

It is suggested that authors recruit 2-4 others to continue the chain. There is no pressure to have any specific number; this is just for fun and is a nice way to get more cross traffic between all our sites/blogs. Please send the one who tagged you a short bio and any links to blogs, author pages, etc. you wish him/her to use so he/she can tag you in style.

To begin with, then, here’s the bio for my tagger, Salena Casha:

* * *

Salena Casha’s work has appeared in over 30 publications. Her first three picture books were published by MeeGenius Books. She is represented by Carolyn Jenks of the Carolyn Jenks Agency. Her website can be found at www.salenacasha.com.

* * *

I was a while in deciding which of my characters to feature. Gant-o’-the-Lute from lately-launched Wilderhark Tale “The Song Caster”? Marion Hood from my “Outlaws of Avalon” Camp NaNoWriMo project? In the end, I decided to go with the female lead from my novel INSPIRED, since it will serve as a perfect introduction to what I’ve got in store for this blog throughout the month of August. So stick around past the Meet My Character Blog Tour business for details on that!

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

INSPIRED’s FMC (that’s “female main character”, to those unfamiliar with the shorthand) is Annabelle Iole Gray, a fictionalized version of real-life author Danielle E. Shipley. You may have heard of her.

2) When and where is the story set?

The “real world” setting is a modern-day, unnamed Missouri town. Settings on the plane of fiction include (though are by no means limited to) an ancient jungle, a medieval-esque fantasy land, a post-apocalyptic Paris, and hell.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Annabelle loves books. A lot. More than people, with whom she’s suffered a lot of culture clash because, well, she’s an unapologetic weirdo. A hardcore reader, she has no idea, yet, what a great writer she could be, with a little help from a light elemental who’s installed himself as her muse.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

She’s had her head taken over by a group of fictional refugees from the mind of another, lately deceased author. It seems like all fun and games, at first, but it’s only a matter of time ‘til she figures out what Uncle Ben Parker, Rumplestiltskin, and Darth Vader have been telling us all along: With great power comes great responsibility, and all magic comes with a price, though the dark side does indeed have cookies.

Such words of wisdom.
Such words of wisdom.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

To write the stories of all her new character friends – and, ideally, to become rich and famous upon eventual publication of said stories.

6) Is there a working title for this novel if it is a WIP, and can we read more about it? OR What is the title of this novel and where can it be found?

The book’s called INSPIRED, folks, and it’s waiting for you at Amazon (paperback and e-book), Barnes & Noble (e-book only), and Kobo (also e-book only). Oh, and starting tomorrow, there will be a giveaway. And a sale. But more on that in a minute. First, I’ve got tagging to do!

Three author friends o’ mine have volunteered as tribute:

Tirzah Jael Duncan writes novels, short stories, and poetry. She strives to learn the use of a variety of weaponry, from bow and gun to knife and hand. She loves the pen and sword in nearly equal measure.

You’ll also catch her attending St. James Anglican cathedral with reverential glee, obsessing over her favorite fandoms, enjoying her job in customer service a bit too much, role-play storytelling, wandering on late night walks through beautiful places, talking aloud to herself, and trying her hand at theology and philosophy.

She thinks she’d make an excellent companion to rebel time lords and consulting detectives, and is still largely convinced that Narnia is just a wardrobe away.

She wants to be C.S. Lewis when she grows up.

* * *

J. Keller Ford is a Young Adult and New Adult author of speculative fiction. Her short stories, “The Amulet of Ormisez” (Make Believe Anthology) and “Dragon Flight” (One More Day Anthology) are published by J. Taylor Publishing. “The Passing of Millie Hudson” will be released by Hypothetical Press as part of the Reading Glasses Anthology in August 2014. Two of her non-fiction short stories, Baby and Five More Minutes, won reader’s choice awards at www.midlifecollage.com. Her first YA fantasy novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING—her first installment in the Chronicles of Fallhollow trilogy—is complete and under contract negotiations.

When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading. She makes her home on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat.

* * *

Emma Michaels is a multi-talented bookish girl. Not only is she the designer of beautiful covers, but she has many other accomplishments under her belt. She started book blogging in 2009 and was first published in 2010. She started The Writer’s Voice blog in 2011 as a way to help readers get to know authors on another level.

She moved to Washington at seventeen to be with the man that she loves, who asked her what she secretly wanted to be when she grew up. Naturally, she told him that she wanted to be an author, but at the time she thought “it was a pipe dream.” He encouraged her to pursue her dreams and taught her that “sometimes reaching for the impossible can make a world of difference in your life.” Now she is published and reaching well beyond what most people can imagine.

* * *

So now, who’s ready to hear about what I’ve got planned for next month? I call it “INSPIRED Days”! I’ve got a lineup of cool, INSPIRED-themed stuff to share throughout August, including:

– Guest posts from the novel’s main characters

– All-new flash fiction

– And more! (What, you didn’t think I’d spill all my surprises up front, did ya?)

Not to mention (pfft, forget that – I’m totally mentioning it!) my first-ever Goodreads giveaway, with 3 paperbacks of INSPIRED up for grabs!

But wait! There’s STILL more! For the entire month of August, J. Taylor Publishing and I are running a sale: The e-book of INSPIRED = just 99 cents via Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

It all starts Monday (except for the giveaway and the sale, both of which start tomorrow), so stay tuned!

Inspired Days Button

Burdin of Choice Lifted

No, that’s not a misspelling in the title. “Burdin” I said, and “Burdin” I meant, because this is Cover Reveal Day for the sequel to a certain J. Taylor Publishing urban fantasy reviewed here and hyped here with a little help from the book’s author and my scarlet outlaw. So if you were dithering over whether or not to get an eyeful of this upcoming novel’s face, allow me to make the choice easy. Just scroll on down.

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How’s that for atmosphere? Only fitting, I’d say, given what the back of the book has to say about the novel’s insides…

Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

*nod, nods* That is indeed the question. Personally, my money’s on the booze or the Agency. Ty’s track record with demons suggests that they’re the ones who need to watch out.

Meanwhile, the rest of can all watch out for the release of Burdin of Choice” on November 10, 2014.

In Which the Author Interviews the Reader

Once upon a time, a young lady known as Sarnic Dirchi read a book.

“…And I was like, wow,” she says. “This is amazing! I really want to go all crazy questions to the author about so many different things that happened, but I also would love for the author to ask me questions, too! I mean, when I have people read stuff I’ve written, I have a million and a half questions for them. So wouldn’t it be fun if an author interviewed a reader and asked them the questions that they want to know the answers to?”

To that end, S.D. posted a Tweet suggesting that very thing, secretly hoping that the book’s author would take her up on the offer. “Cus I didn’t want to go all crazy fan girl on [the author] and out of the blue message [her] saying HEY INTERVIEW ME AND ASK ME HOW I LIKED YOUR BOOK!, as that would be rather freaky methinks,” S.D. confesses. “But [the author] read my mind and took me up on the idea!”

And that author… *solemn nods*… was me.

Sarnic Dirchi tweet

And that book that inspired it all is, appropriately enough, INSPIRED.

And between reader, writer, and book written, a lovely dialogue was born.

“Reading. Love it to pieces,” says S.D. “It’s always been important in my life…though I didn’t get into serious reading ‘til 4th or 5th grade when I discovered mysteries. Plus it helped that my school started up an A.R. program and I just had to get those points! Whoosh I was off! Tearing through the pages so fast people assume I skim read…which I don’t. I just read fast.”

From there, S.D. went on to become a fantasy fan. “Dragons, magic, different worlds, shape-shifters, epic adventures. That sort of thing. I love stories about the ‘underdogs’ like thieves, slaves, poor peasants and their triumphs at the end.  I do occasionally venture out into other genres, but it’s not often.”

Though not strictly a part of the fantasy genre, S.D. found plenty of fantastic characters in INSPIRED. Musing on muse Lucianíel, she says, “At first he seemed like the ‘father figure.’ The ‘high and mighty’, the ‘all knowing.’ He felt removed from the story; part of it, but not really part of it. The shepherd to the flock, etc. And then he went down the dark path…” Some of Luc’s actions got a real reaction out of her, driving her to cry at the pages, “No! Bad choice! Bad Choice! Don’t do it! … Yikes. Totally scary muse. But oh, the feels!”

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While the character of Jean had a smaller role with far less page time, “From the brief glimpses I got of her, I liked her,” S.D. relates. “She seems a lot like me. Taking inspiration from dreams for possible story ideas. Hasn’t gotten quite around to writing them yet in hard form. … Reading her sudden death was what piqued my interest in this book. … If the author is gone…what then? It also sent me to that ‘AH!! I NEED TO GO WRITE!!!… BUT I WANT TO READ!!!’ tug of war when I actually started reading the book for a bit before I decided to keep reading.”

With the special place in S.D.’s heart for shape-shifters, it’s no surprise she enjoyed the character of Abishan. “I love how he was able to change to different cats,” she enthuses. “He wasn’t just a jaguar, he could be a lynx, a lion, a house cat…and then he can turn human like? Oooo! … Most [shapes-hifters], stick to one shape; him, not so. He’s much cooler than that. … [And] he was excellently portrayed like a cat.”

Of Wilbur’s character, S.D. says, “I loved his introductory chapter. It’s just the sort of story that I gravitate to. Farmboy becoming the great warrior! I loved the writing, the scenery, the details. … It’s like Ranger’s Apprentice, but of course, different. And how Annabelle continues to write him, was great. Adventures all around! … I admit I don’t quite get Annabelle’s obsessiveness over [him]…okay I do get it, but the way it came across, I was like O.o But, but there are more characters! Focus on them too! I want to find out their story! However,” she goes on to theorize, “considering she has ‘angelic Luc’ as her other muse…Wilbur seems so much more forgiving. So I often placed them as Ying and Yang in my head. Wilbur is the sort of muse that Annabelle wants. Luc isn’t.”

Uri, she labeled, “…A surprise. Lol, she seemed like such an out of place character in the beginning of the book. I mean, what teenager goes around thinking in biblical verses and signs and such? Especially when she doesn’t come across as the religious sort at first? I really just marked it down as an author’s idea for a character quirk.” Until S.D. reached the revelation of Uri’s surprise backstory, which she declares to be, “AWESOME.”

As for S.D.’s favorite character, that honor goes to Yves. “He’s the sort of character I gravitate to. Quiet. Has a secret. Could be a dark secret. May have a power that could be harmful. To know that he’s aware of it, and doesn’t share. … The mystery of his background, of what his story was? Interest caught, and not leaving until it has an answer. And then to get the answer. ()_() … Yes. [He] is my favorite. No hesitation.”

Which isn’t to say there wasn’t some love left to throw Annabelle’s way. “I totally admire her…for being able to interact with the characters like they’re real people standing right there in front of her. I’ve only been able to do that with a couple of my own, and so to have her so freely having them surrounding her, interacting with her on a day to day basis, doing activities with her, encouraging her when she doesn’t want to do things, or helping her through problems. Wow. Props to her.”

Standout scenes/images for S.D., who loves getting ahold of mental visuals when she reads, include, “Wilbur’s practice yard. Abishan’s jungle. Yves dancing on the bridge and then high above the ground… Oh! And definitely I enjoyed how you described each character. It wasn’t a list of characteristics, but you worded things in such a way that the image just stuck in the mind. It made it easy to keep picturing them and not have to think ‘Wait…what color was Uri’s hair?’ But definitely the one that stuck in my head and had me replaying it for a couple of days afterwards was [*spoilers, spoilers, move along, nothing to see here*] …  I keep repeating that scene, hope it’s not sounding like a broken record, but I really liked it. Seriously, I can’t get that out of my head.”

When asked if she was struck off the top of her head with songs that matched INSPIRED’s cast, S.D. admitted, “I’m not one of those people who matches characters to music, often. …I’m lucky if I know the name to a song…even luckier if I know the artist. Most of the time I just know the lyrics.”

Even so, she was able to come up with a bit of music for a handful of the characters. “When Wilbur is first introduced in the practice yard I think of the song: “United We Stand” from the movie Quest for Camelot. Uri gives me the impression of: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. With Luc a song that comes to mind is called “Home for Me”, by BYU Vocal Point. … But the rest, it’s overall impressions of scenes, most of them, unsurprisingly centering around Yves.”

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I owe S.D.’s discovery of the novel to a mutual friend: Kimberly Kay. Says S.D., “When she was working on the One More Day anthology, she talked about you a lot, and if she likes someone, they’re definitely someone to like! Especially if they’re funny, and the interviews between the two of you are great! So I meandered my way over to your blog, Facebook, Twitter…etc. And tada! That’s how I found out about you.” Whether or not that alone would have been enough to make S.D. pick up the book for a read, there was one factor that pushed her over the edge. “The beginning sequence of the book, that you shared on your blog, ending with Jean dying sparked my interest. It sounded like my type of story. What happens when your creator suddenly dies? No idea, but I was about to find out!”

While S.D. enjoyed INSPIRED a great deal, she’s still on the fence about delving into my fairytale novella series. “Knowing what Inspired is like makes me want to try out your Wilderhark Tales, especially Edgwyn’s part of the stories as he is my type of character! But at the moment, the series as a whole hasn’t really struck my fancy. However,” she goes on to say of my someday-beyond-the-Wilderhark-Tales Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, “I would love to read about Will Scarlet and the Robin Hood Gang; again, that sort of tale is up my alley in ‘things I like to read.’”

Regarding the possibility of an INSPIRED sequel, S.D. is of two minds. “I’m totally intrigued to see what crazy antics can happen next! But then I’m like O.o why do you need a sequel? As really, Inspired felt like a standalone book. I was happy with the ending (as happy as a reader can be when they want to know more about characters and don’t get the info they crave…), and that it actually felt like an ending and not a ‘wait another year and you can see book 2!’ sort of thing that’s become all too common. That being said, I’m hopeful that a book 2 will expand out the current set of characters…and introduce new characters. I’d also love to see how everyone has evolved since the first book. So yah! I’ve decided that I would look forward to it. What will happen to them next???”

Also on S.D.’s INSPIRED wish-list, “I wish to read everyone’s stories as a whole! The tantalizing pieces I read in Inspired have me wishing to actually have everyone’s books in my hands. Wilbur, Yves, Uri, Shan. I want more!”

Time will tell what my own muses prompt me to deliver to S.D. and her fellow readers next. I can only hope that getting the chance to chat with the author about the story has helped to sweeten the wait. Her closing words would suggest that is the case.

“Thanks so much for the interview D.S! This was a ton of fun. ^^”

The pleasure was mine, S.D.! You’ve been a wonderful audience, and I am nothing but delighted that reading my work filled your imagination to bursting. Now get out there, write your own masterwork, and do it all over again for some other reader. ;D

P.S. – If any other readers o’ mine out there are ever interested in doing something like this, you know how to reach me!

Face of “The Song Caster” Unveiled! (Fairy Tale Fortnight)

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As of Sunday, it’s Fairy Tale Fortnight! – an annual two-week, multi-blog extravaganza brought to you by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story.

Fairy tale lover that I am, I simply had to participate this year. You can check out my guest post on living a fairytale life and a flash fiction fairytale retelling o’ mine featured on A Backwards Story (complete with a **giveaway!**).And I couldn’t think of a better way to kick things off here on Ever On Word than with a cover reveal for the next installment of my fairytale spin/retelling/mash-up series of novellas, The Wilderhark Tales. Ready? You wanna see? Yes, yes?

“Skies above, author, get on with it!”

*cough* Yes, Lute. Behold!

Song Caster Cover, front

Is it not marvelous?!

“Naturally, it is,” says Lute, well pleased. “It showcases me. The rear view, anyway. I see how it is: Edgwyn’s face for two covers, my back for one. Your favoritism is far less than subtle, Danielle.”

The cover is just what I asked for, thank you – or, I’d do better to say, thank you to Yana Naumova, Wilderhark artist extraordinaire.

That’s right, everyone: Back by popular demand (both from readers who loved him in “The Seventh Spell”, and from, well, him), it’s Gant-o’-the-Lute in a book all his own! (Which is totally available to add to your “want to read” shelf on GoodReads, by the way.)

The dull doom of impending marriage at his back and a reticent royal at his side, remarkable minstrel Gant-o’-the-Lute is off in search of adventure, and you can be sure he finds it – complete with much music, magicked maidens, and a dangerous power so great, Lute might for once find himself outmatched.

The Song Caster

Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales

Who’s ready to read more? ^^

No, seriously. Who’s ready to read more? I’m looking for advance readers! If you’re willing to read and review “The Song Caster” ahead of its scheduled release on June 24th, drop me a line via my contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the tale in all its practically completed glory!

“You’ll not regret it,” Luc informs you. “Rumor from amongst the earliest of early reviewers has it this Wilderhark Tale is the best of the lot. Purely a matter of opinion, of course, but as it’s an opinion I second wholeheartedly, might as well call it ‘matter of fact’ as not.”

That’s the spirit. Also in the spirit of Fairy Tale Fortnight and all things Gant-o’-the-Lute, stay tuned during the next two weeks as I share excerpts from a never-before-released (and not entirely finished, yet) story chronicling the life of our minstrel in blue prior to his introduction in Wilderhark Tale #3.

“An inspired treat!” says Lute, delighted.

No – a “Song Caster” treat. “Inspired”s that other book I wrote.

“Hilarious.”

Reviewers have called it witty, yeah.

“Stop.”

*sigh* Yes, Lute.

Soooooo… What’s everybody think of the “Song Caster” cover?!

Secret [of the Souls] No Longer

It’s a Cover Reveal Day for fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Terri Rochenski! Remember last fall when Terri stopped by here with a letter to one of her characters from her novel, “Eye of the Soul”? Well, that novel’s sequel in the works. And just look at how pretty its face is!

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Sword! Castle! Water! Sky! Green eyes! Just throw half of my favorite things all together, why don’t you! Of course, it’s only fitting that the cover be so fantastic. The book is a fantasy, after all.

Meanwhile, on the back of the book…

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Secret of the Souls (Pool of Souls, #2) – coming October 6, 2014! (And now available to add to your GoodReads shelves.)

Whaddaya think, readers? Anybody loving this cover as much as I am? ^^