Superpower Outage

Once upon a time, an author sat down and dashed off a quick little flash fic about some gender-indeterminate teenager and superpowers and shocking family secrets.

It took practically no time to write, and the author didn’t have any plans for the story beyond ‘The End’. She certainly couldn’t have predicted that the story would one day, and for some while, have a place in an online literary magazine (before said magazine vanished from the ‘net, as these things sometimes do). Or that the short story’s protagonist would make a reappearance as the narrator/one main character of three in a NaNoWriMo novel. Or that, having basically bid farewell to the idea of pursuing traditional publishing, the author would go on to someday produce a gorgeous paperback (and e-book, currently available for preorder via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) all by her independent lonesome.

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

And that novel is “So Super Dead”, to release on September 25th.

And that short story where it all began is, as of now, no longer missing from the internet, because never mind that defunct magazine – you can read the story right here, right now, in this blog post! Even though (full disclaimer) I would have you remember that this story and its world don’t entirely line up with the upgraded version you’ll get in the novel, because the flash fic was just typed up out of the blue with no rhyme or reason apart from from ‘start talking and see what happens.’

…Which, upon reflection, is truly the Nicky-est of story-making methods.

That having been said: Guys, gals, and assorted superheroes, I present to you…

Superpower Outage

So Super Dead 09 - Copy

(Also, since we’re throwing it back this far, here’s the cover idea I put together to go with “So Super Dead” back when it was just a NaNo project waiting to happen.)

<<<>>>

“Nicky, there’s something we have to tell you.”

I flicked my eyes from parent to parent. I’d known something was afoot for a couple of hours, now. They’d been jumpy from the moment I came home from practice, and all though dinner. They kept looking at each other and at me, whenever they thought I wasn’t paying attention. Like I’m not gonna pay attention when they act so fully suspicious, right? It was just as well they decided to sit me down on the couch and say whatever they planned to now, before my head exploded from the suspense.

“Okay…” I said. “So tell me.”

“Nicky, honey,” Mom began. “You know all those superpowers you’ve been noticing lately? The speed and the strength and invisibility and flight and teleportation and telekinesis and communing with dead plant matter, and all that?”

“Ye-eah…” I nodded, like “go on”.

“I suppose you’ve been wondering why you don’t have any powers like that.”

I had wondered.

“Well, Nicky, the fact is…” Dad hesitated a second before blurting, “You’re not like the rest of us.”

Well, no kidding. I mean, the whole personal power outage thing had made that glaringly obvious. All the other kids had at least one. “And if all the other kids jumped off a bridge,” I can just hear some parental voice saying, “would you want to jump, too?” Actually, yeah. Just last week, practically every friend I had had gone bridge-jumping, to see how close to a fatal ker-splat they could come before flying or teleporting or asking the ghost of a grapevine to whisk them out of harm’s way, and I totally hadn’t been allowed to go along. It stank to high heaven.

“So what’s the difference that’s screwing me over?” I asked.

Mom and Dad shared yet another look before Dad cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and laid down the big shocker: “You’re human.”

“I KNEW it! I— Wait, what?”

“You’re a human, sweetie,” said a teary-eyed Mom. “I’m so sorry, we should have told you years ago…”

“What the heck is a human??” I shouted.

“It’s basically like us,” said Dad, “except that you don’t get to do anything cool.”

“Oh, Dear, really,” Mom reproved. “Humans can do cool things, too. Sort of.”

“Like what?” I asked, totally shaken. I mean, what up?! Drop this kind of bomb on me while I’m in the midst of my volatile teenage years, why don’t you! There had better have been some good news on the way.

“Well, humans can, um… they can… create stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Y’know. Art. Paintings and books and music; lovely stuff, all.”

“We – well, you – can make that stuff, too,” I pointed out. “Grandpa made that 4D rock opera experience for your anniversary last year, remember? With his mind.”

“Ah, but you wouldn’t simply be creating with your mind, Nicky.” Mom’s eyes were shining with optimism, now, in addition to tears of sympathy for bursting her freak child’s bubble. “You would actually have to go through a lengthy, frustrating, soul-wrenching creative process! You would have to physically paint the paintings, and write the books, and—”

“Alright, and that’s supposed to be better how?”

“I hear it’s more satisfying,” Mom said brightly.

“I hear it’s more work,” Dad muttered. “I hear it’s a lot of time and effort for a usually disappointing end product.”

“Dear, you’re not helping.”

“No, you know what?” I snapped. “It’s fine. I’m glad Dad’s telling it to me straight. It’s about dang time. How long have you guys known about this, anyway?”

Mom went back to sniffling, so Dad answered, “Ever since we found you abandoned in the mall parking lot as an infant. Whoever dumped you there left you this.”

He reached into his pocket and extracted what looked very much like a cell phone.

My voice trembled. “What is it?”

“What does it look like? It’s a cell phone.”

“Oh.”

“There’s a number programmed into the phone’s speed-dial,” Dad told me, placing the phone in my hand.

“Did you call it?”

“No.”

“Um, why not?”

“We thought we should leave the decision of whether or not to call that number up to you,” Mom wept. “After all, it’s your tale of mysterious origin, not ours.”

Fair enough, I supposed. I eyed the cell phone in my hand, my emotions a-swirl with doubts and desire. You see, I’d always wanted a cell phone, but I’d been hoping for something a little more trendy; this old thing from like a decade-and-a-half ago wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind.

Obsolete tech of lameness aside, though, the moment of truth had come. Time to figure out where I came from, and who my family was, and how in the world this thing called a human had ended up amongst real people, as I apparently had.

I pressed the speed dial button, and brought the phone up to my ear…

“Hello?

“Hey,” I said. “Who’s this?”

Why don’t you know? You dialed.”

“Well, look, no need to get touchy. I just got handed this phone a minute ago, alright? I don’t know who this number belongs to.”

May I ask who’s calling?

“Nicky Elbochen-Jones,” I answered. “…Your child?” I guessed.

Not muddy likely,” said whoever I was talking to. “I died a virgin.”

“You’re DEAD??”

Yeah, why? Who’d you say you are, again?

I threw my hands up in the air in glee, accidentally throwing the dinosaur of a phone across the room and not giving a rat’s tail about it. “I CAN TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE!” I crowed. “I’m not a human freak after all!”

“Oh, yay!” said Mom, giving me a huge hug. “Your father and I must have simply jumped to the wrong conclusion, before. You’re simply a late bloomer.”

“We should have had more faith in you, Nicky,” said Dad, clapping a hand to my shoulder.

I just grinned. Dead people whispering trumps dead plant whispering nine times out of ten. Wait ‘til the kids in my neighborhood got a load of this!

<<<>>>

The End! …Or rather, The Unforeseen Beginning.

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – coming so super soon!

Advertisements

Cover Reveal: Still So Super Death-Filled, But Deeper

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3, headerSeptember is upon us, which means a couple of Ever On Word-related things.

Thing the first: We are now in this blog’s eighth (8th) year of existence! Happy milestone to me!

Thing the second: We are only three (3) weeks away from the release of “So Super Dead” – (you can pre-order the e-book editions now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble!) – a book which will include not only the paranormal young-adult novel of that name, but a sneak peek of the fantasy perhaps-slightly-more-new-adult novel next on my to-publish list.

“What,” you may wonder, “is new adult?” Quoth Wikipedia:

New adult (NAfiction, also rendered as new-adult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.[1] St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’”.[2] New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

By this definition, my Outlaws of Avalon series also skews more NA than YA, by virtue of main(est) characters Allyn-a-Dale and Will Scarlet being eternally 19 and 26, respectively, and Allyn indeed being forced to negotiate new adulthood in a magical Renaissance Faire.

And by that same token, the blurb for this next novel o’ mine would indicate its qualification for new adult status:

Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. 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.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

KRAKEN BOO-OO-OOK! I first-drafted this project during NaNoWriMo 2013, and today, it’s Cover Reveal Time! Introducing the face of…

“Deathsong of the Deep”

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

…designed and executed by yours truly. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to sharing this story with you, but that will have to wait ‘til February. First things first: Gotta give “So Super Dead” it’s time in the sun. (I’d insert some sort of vampire joke here, but Thackeray Kyle’s already giving me looks at the thought, so we’ll just skip along ahead.)

Come back next week for the start of all kinds of fun, “So Super Dead”-hypin’ content, leading up to (and quite probably extending past) the novel’s September 25th release. And until then…

What think of your first look at “Deathsong of the Deep”? Have any of you started reading the book I published last week, “Our Hungering Hearts”? Any favorite books of yours that, whaddaya know, fall into the “new adult” category? Talk to me in the comments below!

UPDATE: We’ve got a Goodreads links, mateys! Want to add “Deathsong of the Deep” to your want-to-read list? You can now do so here!

Did You Kn-#OHH?

So, heeey! As I’ve been mildly remiss in shouting about, these last months, “Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection” (#OurHungeringHearts #aka #OHH) is scheduled to launch in two (2!) weeks.

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

(Have you added it to your Goodreads “want-to-read” list? Because you ca-a-an! You can also pre-order the e-book, via Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble)

Most of my relative silence on the subject has been due to busyness with a hundred other things. Working at Yosemite. Leaving Yosemite. Searching for work in Fresno. Buying a car (which, just… wow. What a process. I’m starting to better understand why “Ballad”-era Will Scarlet elected to acquire transportation the easy way). Not to mention prepping “So Super Dead” – y’know, that other book that’s coming out one month behind “Hungering Hearts”.

But the rigors of adulting is no excuse! Neither is the fact that I’ve already hyped all of these stories before, when they first released in their respective anthologies. There’s always something new to say, if you’re chatty enough. (Which I very much can be. Will Scarlet came by the trait honestly. Unlike his car.)

In honor, then, of keeping our mouths busy, here’s a tasty array of tidbits I don’t think I’ve shared before (interspersed with stuff I totally shared before, because #NeverForget). DID YOU KNOW…?

– The collection’s first story is just chockablock with aliases. Tidbit, the Black Man, Two Spoons … both the character, and the title. Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son is the title I originally used. Though presented in Xchyler Publishing’s “Legends and Lore” as Two Spoons only, “Our Hungering Hearts” restores the story name to its full, head-turning glory.

– By fun coincidence, all four of the stories in the collection are narrated in 1st-person (which, as one could deduce from all of my published novels and novellas to date, is not my automatic go-to; I’m often more of a 3rd-person gal). And in two of the tales, we’re never given the narrator’s name. It would probably wear me out having to work like that in a full-length work (I wonder how Daphne du Maurier felt about doing so in “Rebecca”), but for short stories, it can be an interesting exercise to see what you gain and/or lose by featuring nameless characters.

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Reality As We Know It’s Heartsinger, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum Ginger Mann.

My Love, My Heart, My Singer: A Walk Through the Abréal

– In keeping with my Wilderhark side, A Mind Prone to Wander draws inspiration from multiple fairytales – Jack and the Beanstalk, Bluebeard, a touch of Beauty and the Beast, and an aesthetic or two from the Arabian Nights.

Date Due is the ONLY story in the book that isn’t based on other characters of mine. Although – (Easter egg!) – one of the books in the story’s magical Library shares a title with another short story in “Beyond the Wail”, the anthology in which Date Due debuted.

– Throwback! Enjoy this sampling of images from the A Mind Prone to Wander Pinterest board, “Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and Beyond”. …and/or click here to visit the whole board!

Mind Prone to Wander, Pinterest

– The twin princesses in A Mind Prone to Wander are mirror images of each other – as are, in a way, their names. Broken into pieces, Bellamy = Belle (beauty, in French) + Amie (friend, in French); and, same but reverse, Caralinda = Cara (dear, in Italian) + linda (beautiful, in Spanish). Yes, we authors do live for this sort of thing.

– If I had to pick a “Hungering Hearts” character with which I most closely identify… Yeah, it’s gotta be the draconic Librarian. Though I must give a secondary shout-out to Row from Reality As We Know It (because, whoof, his dispiriting job hunt has recently become too darn relatable), the parallels between me and the Librarian are blatant. Books. Tea. Questionable sanity. That’s all me. (Also, I half-lied, if setting counts as character: I totally based her house off of mine.)

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Date Due’s word wizard, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum A. F. Stewart.

Beyond the Wail: Fireside Chat with Elizabeth Young

– If I had to pick a favorite “Hungering Hearts” character… that would be cruel, so I’ll be weak and pick one fave per story.

Two Spoons = the devil’s son himself (because I *heart* me a villain)

A Mind Prone to Wander = Arinward, Steward of Arcan-Nest (because his letters are champion)

Reality As We Know It = can I say the murdering Irishman? Is that allowed?

Date Due = the books (I told you: I’m the Librarian)

– If I had to pick the “Hungering Hearts” story that was most enjoyable to write… I think it was Two Spoons. I ~relished~ that one. The others were more painful, because character suffering. Whereas, for any suffering in Two Spoons, I was in Black Man mode, meaning yes, good, the pain of others; that and a scoop of ice cream, please. That guy would make a great author.

Well, would you look at that: We’ve arrived at a full-length blog post! I guess I had a handful of things left to say, after all. ;D And if YOU’VE got things to say, I hope you’ll put them in the comment section down below.

Out of the Mouths of Book Babies

Seventh Spell: “My, my, would you look at the time.”

Legend of Allyn-a-Dale: “What sort of time? Time travel? Time suspended? Or a race against time, like you?”

Wilderhark Covers, half 1

Seventh Spell: “Um… closest to the last? I only meant, she’s got another pair of books coming out soon.”

Out of My Head: “Twins, like Inspired and me?”

Surrogate Sea: “Not a double release. Not even related. Just launching close together.”

Out of My Head: “Ooh, fun! Which ones?”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover
Coming August 28th!

Sky-Child: “First up, a short story collection, like me.”

Truly Great Words Never Die: “And like me; plus the same artist helped out with cover illustration!”

Inspired: “Like me, too, since it’s something of a re-release.”

Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale: “Our Hungering Hearts. Oh, that is a unique cover.”

Song Caster: “That neon effect! Where were her fancy tricks like that when she was putting the words on our covers?”

Stone Kingdom: “Well, do remember, she was only getting started.”

Song Caster: “Oh, that’s right. We were just the practice children. It’s the Outlaws she handed all over to the professionals.”

Inspired: “That just means the rest of our faces bear her special touch. But let’s not forget to welcome her second book on the horizon.”

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery
Coming September 25th!

Story’s End: “So Super Dead. I love it. So dark.”

Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale: “I thought it was a comedy?!”

Surrogate Sea: “Oh, Ballad, you ought to know better than any of us: Even her most lighthearted adventures have their undertones.”

Story’s End: “And I mean, death is right there in the title.”

Ballad: “But… just temporary death, right?”

Truly Great Words: “I don’t see anything in the blurb about truly great legends. Still, if a significant portion of the main cast is dead to begin with, we can only assume it doesn’t much impede their ability to contribute to the plot.”

Seventh Spell: “How many books does this make, now?”

Inspired: “Including e-book only titles?”

Avalon Christmas Carol: “Please.”

Inspired: “In that case, this will make 17 exclusively-Deshipley fiction releases. Plus my journal.”

Wilderhark Covers, half 2

Out of My Head: “17, wow! How does she remember all of us? Wait, does she even? Hey, Number One! You haven’t been forgotten, have you?”

Swan Prince: “Certainly not. On the contrary, she’s always sure to carry plenty of me to any books events, since I’m the series starter.”

Story’s End: “Must be nice.”

Avalon Christmas Carol: “Oh, hush, you got a huge launch party on Facebook.”

Marriage: “I didn’t even get a giveaway. Though she was willing to beg crowdfund my cover…”

Stone Kingdom: “Give the woman a break. She’s poor and tired and depressed.”

Song Caster: “Indeed. Thanks to Swan Prince.”

Outlaws of Avalon covers, all 5

Swan Prince: “Excuse me?”

Song Caster: “Fact. Publishing you while working at the Renaissance Faire wore her out and triggered her first big drop into depression. And not to call the kettle black, but you’re not exactly a bestseller.”

Legend: “At least Swan Prince has reviews in the double digits.”

Inspired: “I used to have a few, before my relaunch…”

Sun’s Rival: “And lack of reviews doesn’t mean we’re not being read! Readers love us!”

Surrogate Sea: “Readers love you.”

Story’s End: “What readers? Who’s saying they read us? Nobody.”

Sun’s Rival: “Not nobody…”

Story’s End: “Fewer than the little crowd we had back in Swan Prince’s day. I think they’re all tired of us.”

Marriage: “Surely it’s not that. We’re just… a lot to keep up with.”

Legend: “Ha, yes. We are legion, and they… Well, they mostly haven’t heard of us.”

Song Caster: “Whose fault is that?”

Out of My Head: “Don’t say hers! She’s trying her best!”

Story’s End: “And what good will her best do the two on the way?”

Inspired: “What do you want from her? Song Caster, Story’s End, what is it you want?”

Story’s End: “I don’t want anything. I’m just gloomy.”

Song Caster: “And I… I just want… I’m afraid.”

Sky-Child: “Afraid? You? Of what?”

Song Caster: “Of not being everything she wants us to be. Of all of us being… disappointments.”

Stone Kingdom: “Oh, Song Caster… It is not we that disappoint her.”

Covers 1, 2, and Journal

Inspired: “She gives all she can to make us beautiful. And beautiful we are. She’s proud of us, her body of work. Sometimes, she’s even proud of herself. It’s only poor luck that she hasn’t yet found a way to give us the audience we deserve.”

Song Caster: “Maybe if we had a big publisher…?”

Inspired: “No guarantee. There are success stories and failures no matter which publishing road you take.”

Out of My Head: “But she’s NOT a failure! It’s too early to say ‘she never hit it big,’ because look – she’s still making books! Hungering Hearts could find its audience. So Super Dead could capture public imagination. Or maybe the next title, or the one after that… Or even any one of us, later in life! While we exist, it’s not too late!”

Story’s End: “Very ‘while there’s life, there’s hope’. I believe So Super Dead will have something to say about that.”

Seventh Spell: “Inspired 2’s right, though. We’ve still got time.”

Sun’s Rival: “And succeed or fail, she’ll always love us.”

Inspired: “Of course she will. She is our mother.”

Tag, You’re First! (Or Something Like That)

Once upon sometime in June I suppose, I discovered (here) a set of questions calling themselves “The First Tag”. The theme? Writerly firsts. The appeal for me? Obvious.

So what are we waiting for? First things first…

<<<>>>

Who was the first character you ever wrote?

My first actually named, wholly original, given-a-full-story character I can recall was Jesse Cassidy – a middle-school-aged tomboy who liked to bake and hated her classmates but ended up spending most of her time with them anyway. Over a number of years, I wrote her a whole series of chapter books, starting with…

What was the first story you ever finished?

… “How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour”. In short summary: Jesse finds herself enrolled in a summer ballet class against her will, and is subjected to the disaster that is her (and her hated classmates’) amateur performance of “The Nutcracker”. In retrospect, it was not a great work of literature. But the fun of writing it ensured I would keep making words until I learned how to do it better.

Old School Oscar, Michael, and Jason
Super old sketch of the three boys Jesse would deign to call her friends.

What was the first piece of writing advice you ever heard? Or what was the first bit of advice you used and it actually worked?

Advice? I don’t know. I’ve spent so much time ignoring the voices around me in favor of the voices in my head, that I can’t recall an answer for this one.

Who was your first villain?

Santa Claus’s murderer.

(Would love to go into greater detail about him, but I’m actually planning to make a draft of his story presentable for publication someday, so we’ll all just have to be varying levels of patient!)

Dark Elf Waits
My first (badly shopped, lol) portrait of my OG villain.

What was the first storyworld you ever built?

My first deliberately fantastical world (not, y’know, what was supposed to be a regular world, but that turned out to have a murdered Santa Claus) was called Ohlhallaveil – or, translated from the High Language to English, the Dream World / World of the Dream. I’m not sure yet how to move forward with the first version of the Dream World I wrote, but different forms of it can be found elsewhere in Deshipley canon. ‘Tis a flexible world, like that. And a persistent one.

World of the Dream 2
Poster concept for Book 1 of my first crack at a fantasy series.

What did your first attempt at worldbuilding or mapmaking look like?

Pretty sure my first cartographic attempts were treasure maps that had nothing to do with writing. I was just a kid who liked using up paper on art projects of questionable worth – maps to nowhere, faux subpoenas, a ventriloquist dummy…

When was your first crush-on-your-own-character? I know it happened, don’t lie to me.

I can sometimes find it hard to discern the line between an actual crush and a non-crush fixation, but there was no denying how hard I fell for Edgwyn Wyle when I met him in “The Stone Kingdom”. Earlier than that, though, may have been a brilliant teacher by the name of Frank Llewellyn. Perhaps not coincidentally, he and Edgwyn had a number of traits in common – big build, warm and friendly nature, green eyes ever twinkling in amusement… I definitely had a type.

What was the first character death you ever had to write and how did you handle it?

Pretty sure that was Santa. My first crack at it lacked the emotional intensity of later drafts, but then, Teen Author Me tended to turn up her nose at killing off characters in the first place.

Don’t worry. She grew into a proper psychopath.

When did you first decide that your book needed a full-blown series?

For Jesse Cassidy’s books, I just didn’t want to stop writing them; I liked throwing her and the other kids into new situations, simply to see how they’d [mis]behave. It was different with, say, The Wilderhark Tales, where I didn’t need there to be more books until I’d happened to write two … and fell for Edgwyn. And with The Outlaws of Avalon, it was going to be just “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (currently available for free, via the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale!) as a standalone, but then the darn characters kept growing in my head, to the point where they needed more on-paper stories to contain them. So you never know from whence the motivation will hail.

When was the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone to write a new genre?

Phenomenon 2
Cover/poster/whatever concept for my ACTUAL first fantasy novel.

I was going to cite Ohlhallaveil again, but I JUST REMEMBERED that it wasn’t my first foray into high fantasy. Before that, there was the world of “Phenomenon” – in which people were born semi-asexually out of a special pool of water, and if nobody claimed you as part of their family that was Bad News, and suddenly – Worse News! – monsters were coming out of the pool and making a menace of themselves, so our heroine – named Heroine – and her friends went off on a quest to figure out the problem’s source, the better to save the day… The book wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but with a bit of revision, I daresay it would be perfectly at home with much of the YA fantasy on shelves today.

Phenomenon, Journey Begins
Illustration of Heroine and friends setting out on their first adventure.

What was it like using a prompt for the first time?

I don’t recall, but I expect it was no more nor less challenging than writing without a prompt. It’s all just putting one word in front of the other.

Opening line: share your first, your favorite, and your most recent.

First, for all intents and purposes:

You know, on the whole, I really love my mom. Seriously. But sometimes, I really wish she were someone else’s mom. Like someone on Mercury, maybe. One particular instance comes to mind.

– “How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour”, circa 2000

Villem Deere 10
My first completed portrait of Doctor Villem Deere.

Favorite – if I absolutely have to choose – by virtue of its simplicity and the pattern it set:

Doctor Villem Deere was not easily surprised.

– “The Swan Prince”, published 2013

Most recent:

The most tiresome thing about war, thought Calia, /born of Knossos, first king of Yassar/, was how it made a hostage of her in the name of preventing her capture.

– A short story (February 2018) I was gonna submit somewhere, but missed the deadline, so it’s chilling out in the drawer for now

What was your first ending like?

“How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour” went out like it came in: With Jesse complaining.

What was the first ship you ever wrote and, be honest, did you make them a ship name?

Hmm… I think Jesse maybe had a crush called Blue Jay, at one point? If ship names were even a thing, way back then, I didn’t know about it. What would they have been, anyway? Blue Jesse? In any case, she went on to get together with her best friend instead, naturally. I guess that pair could have been McCassidy…

What year was your first NaNo[WriMo]?

The year of our Lord, 2010.

Allyn Ballad Cover.png
My first artwork in honor of the NaNo ‘10 novel that first took me to Avalon Faire

Which novel is memorable for being the first one you ever gave up on?

Oh mercy, I’ve given up on any number of novels – not to mention the novels I haven’t given up on per se, I just don’t know if/when I’ll ever pick up work on them again. But the most memorable surrender has to be the second of my two NaNo 2012 projects, “Singer of Skycastle”. I recycled some of it into “A Mind Prone to Wander” (as seen in “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” and soon to be re-released in “Our Hungering Hearts”), but the full-length work I had in mind never made it off the ground. Which only goes to show that you can be a word boss like me and still have a tale get the better of you.

When did you first share your work with someone else and how did they react?

My sisters showed little appreciation for having my dozens of early-author-effort stories forced upon them. X)

<<<>>>

And that is that! Any author types reading this who want to play along? Tag! You’re next! Share your firsts in your own blog post, or down in the comments. ^o^

 

New Look, Same Great Taste!

Previously on the Ever On Word blog, I teased the sometime-soon re-release of four short stories o’ mine. That soon sometime draws ever nearer – I’m aiming for an August launch date … which somehow is now only a month away?? Where did June go???

But HEY, rather than suffer a panic attack over how swiftly this summer is flying by, how about we have ourselves a little title / cover reveal?

Showing its face for the first time ever, I give you…

“Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Aaaaaand the full spread:

Our Hungering Hearts, full cover 02

Dat back o’ book blurb:

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

HUGE kudos to Hannah Vale for her help in bringing my vision for the cover to life! The background photos, I was able to obtain via unsplash.com; the lettering / general graphic design, I created myself in various basic Microsoft programs. (Because, low-key, I am a baller.) But NO WAY could I have illustrated that symbolic “chalk art” on my own, so for that unique pop of the fantastic, Hannah has all-ll-ll my thanks.

Life is hectic, and my relationship status with the internet = “on again / off again”, but I should have “Our Hungering Hearts” up on Goodreads, ready for your “Want To Read” lists, in the near future. Stay tuned!

Ballad Cover, front 02

In other book news: All July long, its the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! For a FREE ebook of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)”, click here. To browse the full sale catalog, click here.

…And to tell me what you think of what you’ve seen so far of “Our Hungering Hearts”, go off in the comments! ^o^

Coming Soon: A Second Helping of Shorts

Once upon a time, a certain author received notice that – because publishing is a weird, uncertain animal – all of her short stories released through various Xchyler Publishing anthologies were on the verge of going out of print, and all the rights reverted to her.

As it happened, only half of the prophecy came true. A few days of negotiations among the anthology contributors prevented the removal of the endangered titles from Amazon. Even so (because, like I said: Weird, uncertain animal), her stories’ rights were our author heroine’s, to do with as she wished.

Xchyler Antho Lineup 3

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

And what I wish is to reprint all four of my short stories first published with Xcyhler – urban legend-esque “Two Spoons” (“Legends and Lore”), fantastically bromantic “Reality As We Know It”  (“The Toll of Another Bell”), eccentric fairy tale “A Mind Prone to Wander” (“Steel & Bone”), and deadly “Date Due” (“Beyond the Wail”) – in a brand new, exclusively Danielle E. Shipley-authored collection.

So that’s what’s gonna happen!

As I type, I have an artist working on the cover I’ve envisioned – no other than the talent behind the faces of “Outlaws of Avalon” 1.5 and 2.5, the charming Hannah Vale. I dug my stories’ files out of the crowded archive that is my authorial past, and have begun organizing them for their new format. And wow, actually looking back at the stuff I wrote up to 4 years ago is weird.

Specifically, it’s weird when the old work’s a short story. With novels and novellas, I have clear memories of writing them. I’ll come to a passage and recall, oh yeah, I was sitting in that spot when I typed it … or I’d been working that job when I scribbled down that plot idea … or that character put up a fuss when I almost said [blah-blah-blah] instead of [yadda-yadda]… The fact that those works were longer made them, by necessity, more of a journey; a struggle; an author-and-muses collaboration. Whereas my Xchyler short stories all pretty much happened like this:

Xchyler anthology contest: “Here, have a general writing prompt.”

Me: “I don’t know if I—”

Me a few minutes/hours/days later: “Never mind, I know. From first line to end, I know.”

Me, over the course of 3 to 10 days: *copies down the fully formed tale onto the laptop*

It’s all over so surreally quick, I barely feel like I’m part of the process. So maybe putting these stories out a second time, all by myself, will be a good bonding experience. Maybe by the end of the project, my heart will better know these four fun-size word babies as my own.

If nothing else, it’ll be something to help tide us all over while we wait for the debut of “So Super Dead” in the fall!

So, stay tuned for the reveal of the collection’s title, cover, and blurb. In the meantime, if YOUR brains have managed better than my defective model to hold onto any interesting memories of short stories, written and/or read by you, feel free to chat about ‘em in the comments!