Truly Great Words Never Die

Say, does anyone around here remember the fun of Save-a-Word Saturday? Well, the best of it is back, and then some! …Or it will be, this July. Behold: Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2.5.

Welcome 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.

Truly Great Words, w text 4

Can we talk about that cover??

“Oh, do let’s!” Will Scarlet jumps in. “That art is phenomenal! Who the heck do we thank?”

That would be Hannah Vale Illustrations and Art, the same talent behind the cover of “An Avalon Christmas Carol”.

“What a concept,” says Allyn-a-Dale, eyes tracing the shape of the lute grown wild. “I hope the like shall never befall my own dear instrument, but visually, it takes one’s breath away.”

Will laughs. “The day your lute becomes a tree is the day you transform into the little blue birdie in its branches.”

Allyn smiles. “There are stranger ways to spend an afterlife.”

As Book 2.5 can attest, along with the rest of your series. X)

Like the Christmas special, “Truly Great Words Never Die” will be e-book only, at least until further notice. So ready your Kindles and compatible apps! Add the title to your Goodreads to-read list! And stay tuned, for the book shall soon be available for pre-order. ^o^

(Interested in reading an early copy in exchange for an honest review? Let me know!)

In Pace Requiescat

Once upon a time, there was a broken author.

Following a period of psychological trauma, she lost her voice – she feared, forever. But broken or not, she tried to put words to paper. And when she could not dream up the tale of another, she transcribed a fragment of her own. Weary and sad, she opened her scribble of a short story with the naked truth: “She felt so very tired…

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

And that short story went on to win a prize in a creative writing contest.

And you can totally watch the footage of me performing the piece – “In Pace Requiescat” – at the award ceremony. (Video, courtesy of my mother; upload courtesy of my father. Thanks, parents! <3)

WNPL Story Read-aloud

Isn’t that something, though? Even mired down at my lowest point – because of that, even – I created something worthwhile.

Don’t get me wrong: If I could go back and avoid that lowest of low points, I would. I’m still not healed enough to work on drafting a full-length novel – a frustration which leaves me feeling pretty blue, some days. And yet, my voice was not strangled wholly silent after all. I wrote this little story, and won a thing. I’ve subsequently written other short stories, which may or may not get accepted where I’ve submitted them. (Still waiting to hear back. *fingers crossed*) I am still making words.

Maybe I’m a little bit dead inside. But maybe I’m a little bit alive, too.

In Pace Requiescat

An Award-Winning Recap

The afternoon of Sunday, April 23rd, found me at Warren-Newport Public Library for the establishment’s 2017 Creative Writing Contest awards’ ceremony.

While the event’s presenter (shout-out to Debbie Hoffman) said at one point that the library’s been running this contest for decades, it’s the first year I’ve ever heard of it (and entered … and won 2nd place in the Adult Short Stories category … and, hence, attended the ceremony), so I had no idea what to expect.

…Apart from somebody forgetting the E. in Danielle E. Shipley. I’ve come to expect that. <_<

Exhibit A

Exhibit A: The Program

In “pleasant surprise” news, it turned out this event wasn’t just about the presentation of awards: All attending authors were invited to stand up and read their winning (or honorably mentioned) entries! So not only did I get to share my art aloud (i.e., one of my favorite things), I got to hear what the cream of the competitive crop sounded like.

The first hour featured the champs from the 3rd – to 5th grade and middle school brackets, short fiction and poetry both. For me, it was quite the throwback to the writer I was twenty years ago. It’s cheering to think that, with continual practice, some life experience, and maybe just a bit of encouragement from programs like this, these kids and their ilk can become the authors of tomorrow. I heartily applaud the pluck it took to enter this contest and perform in the ceremony. Write on, children!

Exhibit B

Exhibit B: Our Future

A brief intermission brought snacks (yay!) and the departure of most of the audience – because let’s face it, if your kiddo went up in the first act, why make the whole family sit through the second? So ‘twas a smaller crowd that heard the winning tales and poems of the high-schoolers and adults.

Exhibit C

Exhibit C: Act II

But a crowd that included my Mom and Dad!

Exhibit D

Exhibit D: Proud Parents

Which is good news for y’all, because otherwise there’d have been no one to record my reading with their phones. ^o^ Keep your eyes open for a future post with the footage!

In the meantime, Danielle Shipley got her winner’s certificate (better luck next time, author with an E.) and probably the most money any short story of hers has ever earned to date. ($30 is a good chunk of change, in unknown-author dollars.) We’ll see if I’m inspired to go another round next year.

Exhibit E

Exhibit [Danielle] E. [Shipley]: It’s official

How Now?

How’d the Local Author Fair at the Library Go?

Well enough, thanks very much. Sold a few books (maybe even one or two more than last year? ^^), including a couple copies of My Baby, Volume 1 – i.e., “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. Also got to geek out with one visitor about the Renaissance Faire that inspired aforementioned baby. *waves to Bristol* So yeah, I’ll definitely be back for the 3rd annual event next year – by which time people will be able to purchase the completed Outlaws of Avalon trilogy!

local_author_fair_2017

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How Goes the New Year’s Resolution?

Those who frequent my authorial Facebook page may have seen my pledge to keep my writerly muscles warm by writing a piece of flash fiction every day.

resolution2017

I have thus far remained on the wagon, with results like this, this, and the following to show for it:

He loves to make clothes. And he loves people. And the clothes he makes loves people, too.

His coats wrap their arms around you in a hug. The scarf hangs ‘round your neck with a weight like a friend just come up from behind, pulling you close for a kiss and “how are you today?”

The skirt of your dress swings and frolics about your legs, puppy-like, delighted by your nearness. The stiffer the breeze, the tighter your hat holds your head. “I’ve got you,” it says, in his voice.

The clothes and their tailor – cut from the same cloth.

Brownie points to anyone who can name the inspiration behind that little drabble. ;D And if I stay the course, there will be plenty more flash fics to come – any number of which will likely make their way onto the blog in time.

marriage-cover-final-front

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How are ARC Requests Coming Along?

I’ve had more than zero, but would love to give out more. So if you’d like to read and review an advance PDF of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”, get in touch! (Contact page) Got book blogger friends? Give ‘em the heads up! I can only spread the word so far on my own; any added reach would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and now inquiring minds want to know: How are YOU?

Second Time’s the Charm

Two orders of business today in this, my second blog post of the new year.

1 = Cook Memorial Public Library District is hosting its 2nd annual open house for local authors – and I’mma be there! Selling books. Signing books. Seeming generally delightful, if all goes to plan.

So if any of you think you’ll find yourself around Vernon Hills, IL, this Saturday (Jan. 14), drop in at the Aspen Drive branch any time from 2:30 to 4pm. Here’s hoping the event goes even better than last year’s!

authorfairbanner2

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2 = CALLING ALL WILLING BOOK-REVIEWERS! We’re only two months away from the launch of the 2nd book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy – “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”. We made its beautiful cover happen thanks to folks stepping forward with GoFundMe dollars. Now the help I’m looking for won’t cost anyone a cent.

marriage-cover-final-front

If you (yes, you, sir/madam/your majesty) want to read and review an ARC (advance reader/review copy) of the latest adventure in Avalon Faire, just declare your interest – in the comments below, or via my contact page – and I’ll send you a PDF.

You: “Oh, cool! What’s the book about, again?”

The blurb: “There’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.”

You: “Nice! But um, what if I haven’t read the first book yet?”

Me: “Ballad”s been up for sale for months. Getchu a copy! Or, if you’re flat broke (we’ve all been there), I can slip you a PDF of that as well; just leave an honest review for Book 1, too, and we’ll call it totally square. 😉

And that, my friends, is that. Clamor away for those ARCs, and stay tuned for the word on how the library event goes. ^o^

Open Journal: Third Person, Inactive Voice

Danielle has mad respect for people who can sing well while in emotional distress. When she’s sad or angry or anxious, vocal control is the first thing to go. She goes all tight – mouth, throat, chest, and deeper – locking up the words, strangling the sound. Forget making music – just talking’s close enough to impossible.

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The more I have to say,

the less I do,

because I know for sure

you wouldn’t hear me.

Once, at her desk, she scribbled that down, and then crossed it out, then got back to numbly performing her day job.

It seems some people spill all their business on social media. Got angst? Throw a wall of text at Facebook, or rant it out in a long thread of Tweets.

Danielle can’t do that.

Or she could, but she doesn’t, because she’s not sure which would be worse:

Being seen as a melodramatic complainer…

…Or not being seen at all.

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Because I don’t have the time, she thought, re: why she couldn’t get in the NaNoWriMo zone this year.

Because I don’t have the energy.

Because I don’t have the inspiration.

Upon further reflection, none of that was the problem.

The problem is that she’s been broken.

During her last days in Germany, someone wrecked her. Knocked her half-senseless with words. It was all she could do to choke out a stammering reply without crying, and face a morning of mandatory socializing without collapsing, and fake a smile that hid the truth she half-wished somebody would see and save her from.

The day before, she’d been working on a story.

In the days since, trying to explore fiction has been like singing in distress.

Two months later, her author self is still locked up tight, and she doesn’t know how to coax it out again.

longhand

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Sometimes, when Danielle’s too upset to talk, she’ll have a character do it for her. Usually Will, if he’s not too upset on her behalf. Or Allyn, if he chooses to favor the conversation with his presence. Or Gilbert, whom you still haven’t met properly, but has been mentioned before a time or two.

Danielle thought of having one of them write this blog post for her. Maybe one of them has. You wouldn’t know. This post’s voice isn’t polished up for show; for sounding how one’s “supposed to” sound. It’s just about forcing the words past a locked-up chest and squeezed-tight throat and clamped-closed mouth, out and free into the open. It’s about speaking the truth aloud (or whatever you call the typed up equivalent), and that’s easier done for Danielle in the third person.

So. Now it’s out.

Which will be worse: Seen, or unseen?

Probably whichever one she has to live through.

Troll the Ancient Dickens Carol

We’ve still got several sleeps to go ‘til Christmas, but the holiday cheer is here with the release of “An Avalon Christmas Carol (An Outlaws of Avalon Novella)”! The e-book’s on Amazon for only 99 cents, so you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy, stuff it into your stocking e-reader today!

christmas-carol-promo-type-2

To celebrate, here are 12 Days of Christmas fun facts about the book, its making and inspirations, etc.:

1 = Some of my stories take days, weeks, months, or even years to plan. But I had my little “Christmas Carol” spoof mapped out start to finish in just one day!

2 = …With the second day spent re-reading the Charles Dickens original, to thoroughly familiarize myself with the sandbox I’d be playing in.

3 = Perhaps my favorite characters to cast were the three Spirits. I don’t want to give away who’s who (let the readers be surprised, Danielle!), so let’s just say that some parallels presented themselves very nicely.

4 = The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy focuses more on the Sherwood side of things, leaving the Camelot crowd to take a backseat. But mourn ye not, Arthuriana fans! I’ve got a novel planned just for the Once and Future King ‘n’ ‘em, too. And in the meantime, we’ve got the holiday novella, which gives us our first glimpse into the mind of my Merlin.

5 = Here’s a blast from Christmas Past: Perhaps my earliest “Christmas Carol”-related memory is watching a stage production of the story and feeling bewildered as to why the show would end with Scrooge on the floor, traumatized by his visit from Marley’s ghost. Turns out it was only intermission. Little Danielle was much relieved.

6 = My all-time favorite “Christmas Carol” character? The ever-merry Nephew Fred. No wonder Will Scarlet was so quick to snatch up the role in the parody. ;D

7 = Do you know, I’m not even sure why I love “A Christmas Carol” so much. Apart from Fred, it’s not the characters. It’s not that the plot grips me, or the message that speaks to me. It’s just… always been there, in one telling or another. Its familiarity makes it feel cozy and comfortable and, well, like Christmas. Guess I’m kind of a sucker for nostalgia. X)

8 = Gracious, 12 facts is a lot…

9 = Brainstorming cover ideas before artist Hannah Vale offered her services, I’d considered trying to get a photo of my lute Rosie in the snow. Allyn looked askance at that notion, and was glad I went the commissioned illustration route. Rosie probably is, too.

10 = Talking of lutes, it’s possible (unlikely, but possible) I could’ve gotten though “Avalon Christmas Carol” without a minstrel song number from little Allyn/Tiny Tim, if Dickens hadn’t straight-up written:

…And by and by they had a song, about a lost child travelling in the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, and sang it very well indeed.

Welp. That did it. Destiny spake. Hence Allyn’s “Little Lost Winter Traveler” song.

11 = …Which I recently figured out how to play on Rosie.

12 = You can watch us perform the song here!

xmas-carol-still-frame

And that is that. Off you go, now. Buy. Read. Tell your friends. (Review!) And God bless us, every one. ❤