Mo’ Men, Mo’ Merrier

It’s the 1-year anniversary of perhaps my single most personally life-changing project – Book 1 of The Outlaws of Avalon, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. (The Smashwords e-book of which, coincidentally, is currently 50% off!) And how better to celebrate than with the release of a related e-book – Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”!

“Easy,” says Will Scarlet. “Adding more Merry Men into the mix always makes things better. Invite us into your blog post!”

Like that wasn’t already the plan. ;D My question for you all:

Which of the vignettes in the “Truly Great Words” collection is your personal favorite, and why?

“It’s a tough call,” says Robin, “but I think ‘Ostent’ may be the most special to me. A snapshot of a moment where, although I couldn’t do everything I wished to save the world, I could do one thing to make one precious life a little brighter. *cough-ahem-sniff* …Sorry, I, ah, seem to have some Book 3 feelings in my eye…”

TGW, Ostent 01

Easy there, Hood. We’ve got ‘til October. Marion, what about you?

“Well, just about any of them that feature me spending time with my friends will please me,” says she. “So shout-out to the likes of ‘Lumming’, ‘Ludicropathetic’, and ‘Convive’. But if I can only declare one winner, I’ll give it to ‘Alderliefest’, because even if it’s only Allyn and Gawain on camera, the spirit of Merry Men community is strong within it.”

TGW, Alderliefest 01

“I do like that one,” Allyn agrees, snuggling closer to her.

Mr. Scarlet?

“Aw, man, that’s hard. I’m in like half of them!”

*does the math* Something like 64%, actually, you story hog, you.

Will beams. “Well, let’s go with ‘Ecophobia’, because it’s the first to star both me and Allyn. And everything’s better that way.”

TGW, Ecophobia 01

Allyn’s blushing face tries to hide in Marion’s shoulder. And, I mean, she’s got the smallest shoulders in the burly boys club of a band, but sure, dream big. Little John? Your favorite, please?

After a considering pause, he says, “ ‘Fallow’.”

“The poem? But you’re not even in that one,” Will says. “And neither am I!”

And your absence, says Little John’s stare, goes some way toward the pleasing quiet of the poem’s tone.

TGW, Fallow 01

It’s minstrel-written – ergo, bound to please. Speaking of minstrels, Allyn, your time is come. Which story’s your fave?

“ ‘Montivagant’,” he says, no moment’s thought required. “The last of the stories, and the last to star both me and Will.” He turns a shining smile on Scarlet. “Everything’s better that way.”

TGW, Montivagant 01

*rubs own Book 3 feelings out of own eye* I said wait ‘til October, darn it! Here, lemme bring it back with a reminder of Book 2.5’s blurb and pretty little cover:

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestWelcome to Avalon, where truly great heroes – and words – never die.

Join the Merry Men and denizens of Camelot in a collection of flash fiction as neo-“ye olde” as a Renaissance Faire, every slice of their immortal life served up with an archaism ripe for revival – from “accismus” to “Weltschmerz”, with plenty of laughs in between.

Come for the language lesson, stay for the Will Scarlet shenanigans, along with a facet or two of your Fey isle friends that you’ve never seen before.

What about you, readers? Do YOU have a favorite story from “Truly Great Words”? Let me know in the comments – or, better yet, in a review on Amazon (where the book awaits you for just 99 cents!), Goodreads, your blog or social media pages, etc.!

Truly Great Songs, and All That

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestMe: Outlaws 2.5 releases on Wednesday. I need something special to hype the book. But what?

Will Scarlet: I’ve got just the thing! Allyn, you know how our new flash fiction collection highlights 45 different archaic words?

Allyn-a-Dale: Yes…?

Will: Throw together a summary-song that includes every one of them.

Allyn: Wha— Now? Right off the top of my head?

Will: Just that! Can do?

Allyn: Well, I guess this is what Father trained me for. [takes up his lute] All right. Here goes… everything.

Truly Great Words (In Musical Summary)

With Weltschmerz, a tale of our Robin Hood’s woes,

While Simony minstrel philosophy shows.

Tautoosious tells us of two of a kind,

And Senocular means that you’ll six times less likely be blind.

*

In Ostent, a Scarlet autumnal display.

And Gant-o’-the-Lute sighs for days Cumber-free,

Then makes light of normalcy, Natural-ly.

And rather than Reverence, see Hood treat with kings his own way.

*

Though not what he’s used to, you’ll find Natheless

That Sir Gawain likes his queen’s version of chess.

Autological’s tale… well, it is what it is,

While Accismus fakes a concern with the lingerie biz.

*

Deja luDeja lu… Yes, that’s twice the word’s seen.

And next, Sagittipotent shows Robin’s quirk.

Barbigerous and Adoral are comparably themed,

But one’s semi-bromance; the other, not suited for work.

*

In Lumming, two lady friends dance down the sky,

Then one Coxcomb stays true to his legend’s brand.

And Rivelled’s the upside of wrinkles in plans.

As for freeing Scarlet from Durance, we do it – but why?

*

Sherwood Ecophobia? Nay, here dwells my heart,

Among Alderliefest friends ever I’ve had.

And not Tralatiously are these words said:

My Men are all music, and glad am I to play a part.

*

In Gapeseed and Fallow, we follow the Fey.

And where there’s a Countervail, there is a weigh

(Ludicropathatic as that pun may be).

And in Caeseious, see why a census makes no sense for me.

*

Will: THIS IS BRILLIANT! I wanna try!

Allyn: B-but you can’t—

Will: Can, and WILL!

Onto Erinaceous, which may miss the point.

And who needs the Ramage, with bards to throw shade?

To have Truck with us is to have your day made;

No Pandiculation, here! This is one happening joint!

*

Ne-moph-ilous or Nemo-phil-ous? Who knows?

Suffice to say forests are loved by the Hoods.

No place to Convive like the outlaw-filled woods!

…Now watch Allyn Bowdlerize my verses; that’s how it goes.

Allyn: Did I think that proper, I’d do it Amain.

Alas, though, I fear it would not be Condign.

In games of songmaking, the clear Boot is mine.

No need for your face to Incarnadine. Try it again.

*

Will: Well, as you’ll not Beshrew my tuneful Moiety

(A fact which, in truth, Obfuscate-s me like whoa),

I’ll Pore on how to best to end this melody.

…Mm, nope, you just take it. We want it to Fadge well, you know.

*

Allyn: Ultracrepdiarian, I see you’re not;

And thanks to your letting the expert be heard,

This well-nigh Montivigant song that we’ve got,

With its ups and its downs, has at last used the last of the words.

The End

Me [with wild applause]: Huzzah for my Merry Minstrel! …and for his plus-one. X) How could anyone say no to buying the e-book now?

Will: Priced at just 99 cents? They’d be mad not to. Pre-order today, people! If we move enough copies, maybe I can talk Allyn into writing a ‘Thanks for Making Our Author a Bestseller’ song.

Allyn [laughing]: Consider it promised. ^_^

Men in Tights, Wizards, and Other Legendry

3 weeks and a day ‘til the release of Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”! As you may have observed via the colorful new image over on my sidebar, the Kindle e-book is currently available for pre-order. And the advance reader copies went out to winners / volunteers / favored friends this past week.

…along with, I belatedly realized, a certain novel cover that I haven’t yet officially unveiled on the blog.

Men in Tights Fail Gif

Welp, there’s only one thing to be done about that: Let the official cover unveiling commence a bit earlier than planned. XD

Wizard Never Late Gif

Pretend this also goes for authors and their covers.

So, for those of you who haven’t already made it toward the end pages of an Outlaws 2.5 ARC … y’all ready for your first look at Outlaws of Avalon 3?!

The blurb:

Long ago: Hailed as heroes, killed as criminals, an extraordinary band of outlaws met their end in Sherwood Forest – all except the four who were supernaturally saved, and the one who did not exist. …Not yet.

Now: With Avalon Faire’s living legends finally free to move between the realms of magic and modernity, there’s no dream too fantastic to reach – including that kept alive by a secret society, awaiting only the right time, and the right minstrel, to rewrite history.

Just when the future seems brightest, the Merry Men find themselves thrust into the past, facing a second chance at the lives they might have lived … or the death they might not have the luck to cheat twice. For the otherworldly Allyn-a-Dale, it’s all in a day’s destiny. For an already struggling Will Scarlet, it’s a nightmare that may prove black enough to break him. And for the whole of the band, it’s anyone’s guess whether courage, cunning, and camaraderie can win out against their most infamous enemies: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and – for once in eternity – Time.

The cover:

Legend cover 02, front

There it is, you guys. Courtesy of Lars and Milan van de Goor: The face of the third and final novel in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy – aka, the books of my heart.

My Precious Gif

…aka, my preciousss

The book’s not coming out ‘til October, so don’t lemme start getting all up in my feelings about it just yet. For now, let’s just celebrate how marvelous the cover looks on this fine day that we’ll pretend I intended as Cover Reveal Day all along!

Men in Tights High Five Gif

Feeling [Re]Inspired

Printers Row Lit FestSo, here’s what’s new. I’ve got a little book-a-palooza coming up in a couple weeks – the Printers Row Lit Fest. Sunday, June 11 (Day 2/2 of the event) from 2 – 6pm, I’ll be in a tent with a number of other members of the Chicago Writers Association (check out the Facebook event page here for more details on exactly where to find me!), hawking my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon series, and talking up the re-release of my first published novel, “Inspired”.

The re-launch date won’t hit ‘til next spring, but the rebooted cover art I commissioned is newly completed (give or take whatever last-minute tweaks I’ll need to make for printed-book purposes), and given the huge crowds Printers Row attracts,  it would just seem like too big a waste to not show off what I’ve got.

Besides, this is publishing. Teasing a book’s face almost a year before release is pretty much par for the course.

All that being said, who’s ready for an on-blog cover reveal RIGHT NOW?

Y’all are?

You’re su-u-ure?

Then feast

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your

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eyes

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.

Cover w Text 06.3, front

AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaahhh, is it not AMAAAAAZING? Could this author and muse pair look any more fantastic?! Enormous thanks to Gizelle Baluso (seriously, Gzel – ALL. THE. THANKS) for making it happen … and for working on the cover to the never-before-released sequel. #StayTuned

And now, a moment to refresh our memories of what “Inspired”s all about!

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

See you again in two weeks, when I may or may not be ready with a recap of my first time selling at Printers Row. ^o^

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