In Which Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids

GRTTWaK logo*points to the title* Were you aware there’s a podcast wherein the premise is just that? I was not, because when it comes to podcasts, I am generally unaware.

But Canada-based GRTTWaK came to my attention via that occasionally-useful-albeit-mostly-irritating pillar of social media, Facebook. More specifically, via this post on the Chicago Writers Association page.

GRTTWaK FB Invite

An open mic night for diary entries, angsty teenage poetry, short stories, etc.? I have a whole fireproof box FULL of that stuff, and absolutely NOBODY who wants to hear a word of it!

Nobody, that is… until now.

I e-mailed Dan Misener for further info on how to participate, then dug into my archive of journals to pick out the perfect 5-minute excerpt.

…Wow, was it hard to find. I, uh, may have spent most of my youth complaining about family, swooning over the Backstreet Boys, and fetishizing characters in an unrelenting slurry of fanfic. It was retrospectively terrible, and I began to despair.

But then! My saving grace: ~ Song lyrics ~

GRTTWaK, Stage and Me

Before Gant-o’-the-Lute and Allyn-a-Dale, there was… a long list of other characters you may or may not ever meet, and for whatever reasons, they all felt compelled to try their hand at song composition. From the pile, I selected two love songs penned by teenaged boys who liked girls (because what else would a then-teenaged girl who liked boys write?). And with these time-capsule treasures in pocket, I sallied forth to the appointed Top-Secret Underground Location.

(You think I’m joking, but legit – the location was and is secret, and that’s all you’re getting out of me.)

Dan, his wife Jenna, and the sound guy (also named Dan; as a Dan[ielle], I felt right at home) were all delighted and copiously relieved that I’d shown up – because, they explained, it’s kind of hard to do the show when none of the readers show up. Happily, a nice full roster of readers did in fact show up for that night’s event – plus a pretty full house of a crowd – and in due time, the reading commenced.

GRTTWaK, Dan Reads

Dan himself opening the show with a lil something penned in an old school notebook.

I ended up being number three in the lineup, all a-jitter, because not only was I going to read a song… I was going to sing one.

Song #1’s melody eluded me, and thus was only recited; but to this day, I’ve found myself from time to time singing Song #2. So hang the fact that my voice is always the first part of me at risk when I’m nervous (or angry, or otherwise flooded with fight-or-flight chemicals). I love singing, and I love attention, and darned if I wasn’t going to combine the twain when given the chance.

Happy news: My performance was well-received! Produced more audience laughter than the ballad’s fictional writer intended (sorry, Michael old boy; sometimes our pain is funny), but also got plenty of applause and compliments during intermission. (My voice did me proud after all. ^_^)

GRTTWaK, Miseners and Me

Post-show pics with Jenna and Dan.

And meanwhile, there were a good dozen other performances – including journal entries, letters to friends at summer camp’s end, 3rd-grader short stories, love songs written by actual teen boys (turns out my efforts weren’t far off the mark!), obituaries for dearly departed grandparents, transcriptions of dreams, and more. Fun times for all – and, as I informed the creators afterward, a good and important opportunity for those of us with a lifetime of words in want of willing ears.

So if podcasts are your thing, totally check out “Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids”. No guarantees, but you might just get an earful me crooning to imaginary girls. And if you catch word of the show coming to a stop near you, consider signing up to share your scribbles of yore! Turns out there’s an audience for it after all.

Advertisements

Beautiful Books (Out of My Head and Into Yours)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

Consider this the sequel to last month’s Beautiful Books post, in which I gushed about the pair of novels scheduled to release (and re-release) in March of next year – “Inspired” and “Out of My Head”!

*

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

*laughs and laughs and weeps and laughs at my current mental state* But hey, let’s not blame the novel! After all, I had the good sense to make myself NOT do NaNo this year, leaving me free to have internal breakdowns over other things – like my baby sister’s recent wedding, and my imminent move across the country, and the fact that I had a clear plan to read 3 specific books this month, but then borrowed 4 million different library books instead…

I don’t know what to say about that one.

As concerns “Inspired”, though, I’ve reached out to quite a number of bloggers, asking if they have any interest in an early read ‘n’ review of the book. Some have even said yes! The reviewer hunt’s stalled out, for a bit, while I focus more on trying to land a job in the state to which I’m relocating. (And, y’know, reading 4 million library books.) But if YOU – yes, you reading this blog post – want a review copy of “Inspired”, let me know! We’ll make it happen!

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Of “Inspired”:

There are people, Luc found, who are very good at having ideas.

Bonus! Of the sequel, “Out of My Head”:

There are muses, Luc knew, who are very good at developing ideas.

(As readers of my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon novels may have observed, I’m big on first lines following a pattern within a series.)

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

While drafting Book 1, it was Wilbur, since he’s based on my favorite character of the time. Then for a while, in the neighborhood of Book 2, I think it was Yves, since I’d grown closer to the character he was based on. XD Now it’s probably Uri – not because of who she’s based on, but just because I enjoy her as a person. A hardass with a heart willing to learn to soften, when necessary. Sayer of things I wish I gave few enough lip tricks to utter in public. Also, one of my small batch of characters who inherited their author’s asexuality. (Or, in Uri’s case, her author’s author’s asexuality. Though, I mean, Annabelle’s ace, too, and sexuality isn’t hereditary, so what am I even babbling about anymore.)

What do you love about your novel so far?

– How the characters’ relational dynamics grow from Book 1 to Book 2

– The narrative’s uniquely changeable style; keeps things interesting for me, even during my umpteenth read-through of the manuscripts

– All the little things from my own life I get to include, since Annabelle’s life is so closely based on mine

– When the language EVOKES THE VERY SOUL of what I’m trying to convey

– Mach x Annabelle (I sibling soul mates ‘ship it)

– Wilbur x Uri (I bromance ‘ship it)

– Yves x speaking (compared to the rest of the cast, he doesn’t do it much, but I like what he says when he does)

– The “Phantom of the Opera”-esque short story in Book 1

– The surprise solution chapter toward the end of Book 2

– I’m not even the illustrator, but can we give it up again for the books’ covers, tho???

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

None that I haven’t already caught and vanquished, I hope!

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Probably middles. Beginnings are often shaky, because every new book is its own beast that you have to learn how to handle. And my sense of urgency tends to kick in toward the end, since I can feel how close that finish line is. Whereas in the middle, I’ve had time to get to know the project, and can just enjoy sinking into the story as it unfolds.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music?

Back when I was in the habit of writing, you mean? <_< I basically just had to shut out the distractions of social media until my brain got lost in building the story’s scenes, word by word. I almost never draft to music – with the notable exception of #CamelotWIP (as I’ve dubbed it on Twitter). For some reason, I really needed noise reminiscent of a Faerie isle for that one. As for snacks, lol, I generally forgot to eat breakfast ‘til 2pm…

What time of day do you write best?

I liked to get cracking first thing in the morning.

My muse liked to show up just after I’d turned off the light for bed.

#rude

1 Light Bulb, Inspired Countdown, long

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I don’t prefer to let anyone see my work until the first draft feels finished. Then I run it all by my writing bestie. Beyond that, I’m okay with sharing short snippets here and there – so long as they don’t give away any important surprises!

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

If my characters need me to. I’ll push myself to my limits and farther, for them.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1) Find out what you love about the writing process

2) Chase that

3) Tell yourself that you can do the hard thing (whether that hard thing is pushing forward, or giving yourself a break)

*

And that is that. To any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year: How’s the first half of November been treating you, and how ready are you and your characters to tackle the last two weeks? ^^

About the Author Bio

Sooo, I’m trying to come up with my next author bio, and it is… unreasonably hard.

Danielle E. Shipley would rather be writing a novel than an author bio.

Because a good bio’s supposed to make me sound interesting, right?

Danielle E. Shipley feels that her books are far more interesting than she’ll ever be. You should read those.

Behind the Books

And relatable. Because, I dunno – the higher the odds of someone reading the bio and going, “Oh, hey! Me, too!” the likelier they are to care about my work?

Like the average adult human, Danielle E. Shipley too has a body comprised of 50 – 65% water.

I Too Am Water

People want to know about where you live, what you do when you’re not writing, whether you’ve got any kids or pets or a high-school-sweetheart-turned husband, some “fun fact” that marks you as just quirky enough… Or maybe they don’t? But a lot of author bios I’ve read include them, so I guess that’s the formula.

Danielle E. Shipley’s only public high school experience was a semester of driver’s ed. When she accidentally wrote the wrong phone number on the form for her learner’s permit, the teacher snarkily assumed it was her boyfriend’s digits, little knowing that Danielle would make it to age 29-and-counting without acquiring a single boyfriend, and will most likely die entirely un-romanced. …Unless you count that one imaginary woodland creature who wished so hard to woo her. And I mean, she had to turn him down, so there you go.

Except I don’t want to be formula. Surely the best author bios stand out from the crowd!

DANIELLE E. SHIPLEY. ‘NOUGH SAID.

Is there any way I can accomplish this without straight-up lying?

Danielle E. Shipley is the bestselling, prestigious-award-winning author of the most popular books on shelves today. Big-name reviewers are calling her, not the next, but the OG J.K. Rowling. She’s pledging her latest billion dollars toward the construction of a colony of castles on officially-recognized planet Pluto. She’ll be the first to live there, with her husband Captain America and a domesticated fox.

Pluto by Bourelle Photography

That time I WAS Pluto.

…Or worse, telling the unedited truth?

Danielle E. Shipley is too sad and tired for any of this.

Too Done

Okay. Deep breaths, wordsmith. You can do this. What’s a winning combo of author facts, fiction, and form?…

Author Photo, Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley – author of fairy tales retold, legends reimagined, and other expressions of wishful thinking. In the past, she’s worked as a librarian in a kindergarten, a Towne Crier in a Renaissance Faire, and a butler in Germany. In another universe, she’s a tenor on Broadway, a wandering minstrel, or at the very least a Dark Lord singing about world domination. Born, raised, and homeschooled in the Chicago area, she now resides primarily in realms of her own making, along with her crazy crew of character children. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

Hmm. A little lacking in science stats and Pluto love, but it may do.

So much for my musings on bio-writing. Anyone else got any tips, quips, or anecdotes on the subject? Drop ‘em in the comments!

Beautiful Books (and the Big Ideas Behind Them)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Beautiful Books Meme

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

I enjoyed taking part in the Beautiful People meme, that one time in August, and I’ve enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month several times, though not this year. Fortunately, you don’t need a NaNo project to take part in Beautiful Books. Any story in progress will do. So I’m jumping in with my debut novel, scheduled to re-release in a brand new edition, March of next year – “Inspired”!

*

Cover w Text 06.3, front

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve got brainstorming notes on the earliest iterations of “Inspired” going back to May 2011, and the first draft came out over the following December. The spark behind it all started around the NaNo before, when my (brand new, at the time!) best friend and I created the Stranger Than Truth club. Originally, the novel was going to feature not just one author navigating the fictional realm, but two, imagining in tandem. And there’s still room for that to happen, if I ever get around to a sequel centering on that. I just felt there was a lot of groundwork to lay down first.

Describe what your novel is about!

Happy days – I’ve got a blurb ready. ^o^

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.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Oh, the “Inspired” gallery on my website may have a few applicable images…

PhotoFunia-Luc and Jean

Inspired, Only the Beginning, 02

Inspired Avengers

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Whoof, there’s a lot, so let’s restrict it to three words each:

Lucianíel = That lightbulb moment

Abishan = Just… total cat

Wilbur = Chivalrous sweetie pie

Uri = Entirely judging you

Yves= Smol, with secrets

Annabelle = Danielle E. Shipley

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Step 1 = Talk to myself in a Word document until I’ve got a fairly solid idea of the book’s shape.

Step 2 = Outline chapter by chapter, to ensure every puzzle piece gets slotted in somewhere.

Sometimes, Step 3 (or 1-and-a-half, or at whatever point on the list I feel thus compelled) = Ask the characters questions so that I can begin to hear their voices in the answers.

Cover 2 w Text, front

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Since it’s already been written and published once, at this point I’m just eager to have it back on the market again – and with such a beautiful new face! Plus this time, it comes out with a sequel. I’m always excited to give the world something brand new to read. ^o^

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Oh, perfect, ‘cause there are three different settings.

1 = The Material Plane – aka, the real world. Like Annabelle’s home, inspired by the house where Childhood Me used to visit my dad’s family over Thanksgiving.

2 = The Immaterial Plane – aka, the world of imagination. Where muses live, and where some characters may choose to hang out, if they’re self-aware enough to know they’ve got an author’s mind to roam.

3 = Book Worlds. The intersection of material and immaterial. Fictional, yes, but no less real to the people who inhabit the story. One of “Inspired”s special charms is that it offers a glimpse into several.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Boiled down to one word, Luc’s main goal = security. In this, Annabelle is both a tool and an obstacle, because while she’s willing to be the author for Luc and his loved ones, she’s basically just in it for the fun. Clash of motivations. Expect fireworks.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Nothing like putting in the time on the craft to mature an artist! Not that Annabelle doesn’t still have plenty of growing up to do by novel’s end, but you can see she’s getting there.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Themes… How ideas are planted… How stories grow… How people can blossom, with a little help from their friends – real, imaginary, and in between… As for how I want readers to feel at novel’s end, how else? Of course I want them to walk away inspired.

*

And that is that! Related note: I am currently seeking folks interested in providing an early read ‘n’ review of “Inspired”. Is that you? Talk to me!

Over, out, and good luck to any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year. ^o^

Truly Great LEGEND’s Release

Happy birthday, Kevin of the Backstreet Boys Release Day to “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”! At last, the third and final novel in my trilogy of magically immortal Merry Men is available for purchase – both in paperback (CreateSpace, Amazon) and e-book (Barnes & Noble, Amazon).

Go! Buy! ***Review, pretty please*** I don’t want you here reading a blog post – I want you reading the book!

But for those of you just joining us who don’t know all the excellent reasons why you should be reading the book, here’s a roundup of the “Legend” content I’ve shared over the past weeks:

Things I Love About Outlaws 3 – in which I gush about a few of my favorite #LEGENDofAaD features

Why I Wrote The Outlaws of Avalon – in which I reminisce on the unique reasons behind each Outlaws book’s existence

Villains of LEGEND – in which we meet the bad guys standing ready to antagonize Sherwood’s heroes

An Interview with Will Scarlet – in which the Merry Madman gives an exclusive scoop over on Beyond Your Book (bookauthors.online)

Combination Station: When Legends Collide – in which I guest post re: mashing up Robin Hood lore with Arthuriana on the blog of That Artsy Reader Girl as part of the Magic, Myth, and Mischief event

In a Faire Fight – in which we get to watch a piece of the street entertainment that makes some Renaissance Faires so gosh-darn exciting

The Recap of Allyn-a-Dale – in which Allyn graciously reminds us of the trilogy’s most relevant plot points leading up to the finale

Also, I’ve got a number of new Outlaws 3-inspired designs in my Society6 store. So if you want to support me by adding some pretty mugs, notebooks, and whatnot to your life, shop away.

And oh yeah – I’ve got a Goodreads giveaway going on. Five proof copies of “Legend” from like a month ago are sitting around, begging for loving homes. So now through next Friday, Oct. 13th, you can enter to win one – signed by yours truly. No guarantee what your odds in the raffle will be, though, so were I you, I’d be sure to order a finished copy of the book, too, just in case. ;D

THANK YOU, readers who have journeyed with me to the Faire and beyond thus far. Now to discover where this last stage of the journey will take our outlaws of Avalon…

The Recap of Allyn-a-Dale

Meekest of Minstrels

Hello, people of the Internet. My name is Allyn-a-Dale, and I have been tasked by my author with preparing us all for next week’s release of the final book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy (the Kindle edition of which is currently available for pre-order).

For perhaps there are those among you who have caught wind of this novel’s coming, and your interest has been piqued, but alas! You have yet to read through the story’s preceding volumes! What’s to be done? How to begin a tale near its end without losing your way? Easily enough, for you have me to guide you. And really, it’s none too difficult a storyline to follow. Each book, so far as I can tell, is built around a single question:

What would it most hurt Allyn to lose?

Book One = “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = His father, Gant-o’-the-Lute

Solution = Open Chapter One with Father’s funeral

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

Ballad Cover, front 02

– Allyn – a young minstrel with a heavenly voice, crippling inferiority complex, and a lute he holds more dear than life itself – is from a faraway, fairytale world

– That world is ending

– A talking wind helps Allyn find a different world via an invisible, interdimensional portal

– That talking wind is Allyn’s great-grandmother, making Allyn himself part-Sky

– Being part-Sky has its superhuman perks

– Allyn’s new world is Avalon Faire – which is to say, the legendary Isle of Avalon (King Arthur, and all that), disguised in 21st-century America as a perfectly typical Renaissance Faire

– Because Merlin the prophet-wizard thinks the best way to preserve mythological heroes is to turn them into immortal actors, courtesy of Fey magic, and never let them Outside

– Time may tell

– Avalon’s not just for the Camelot crowd; infamous outlaw Robin Hood and his Merry Men are there, too

– Allyn joins the band

– …Just in time for a Very Important Magical Item™ to be stolen from the Faire

– If it’s not retrieved quickly, the immortals will die

– Under these dire circumstances, the Merry Men are allowed Outside to chase down the magic thief-or-thieves

– Road trip!

– Shenanigans! Most of them Will Scarlet’s

– Danger! Close calls! Fight scene!

– Magic retrieved! But…

– …Just to be safe, Allyn has to do something, um, completely unsafe

– [Climax]

– Everyone lives safe in Avalon forever after

– Seriously. The forecast says “forever”

– Until…

Book Two = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = His father, Gant-o’-the-Lute

Wait, isn’t his father already dead? = Yes he is, but his voice in Allyn’s head isn’t

Solution = Erase Allyn’s memories

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

marriage-cover-final-front

– Allyn’s second summer in Avalon Faire is coming up

– The cast plans a show based upon the legendary romance of Allyn-a-Dale and his lover

– The part of Lover to be played by Loren McCaughley, a modern Outsider whom Allyn accidentally develops feelings for

– Oops

– Allyn does Foolish Things in the Name of Love™, 100% enabled by Will Scarlet

– Time for a bit of Fey culture as Avalon celebrates Midsummer Eve – a night ripe for even more magic than usual

– Allyn tries to enjoy the party, but is a little bit busy missing his father

– He misses Father even more when all memories of him disappear

– …Only to reappear in the form of Gant-o’-the-Lute!

– Meanwhile, Little John does Foolish Things in the Name of Love™, 100% enabled by Marion Hood

– Allyn divides his time between being belittled by his father and swooning over Loren

– Gant-o’-the-Lute divides his time between being a carelessly abusive parent and… well, no, that’s pretty much all he does

– Will Scarlet hates him on Allyn’s behalf

– Date night for all illicit lovers!

– Things do not go well

– Some things get better

– Some things get worse

– Allyn has to suck it up and— oh, look at that, do something completely unsafe

– [Climax]

– Everyone lives safe in Avalon forever after – including Allyn’s and Little John’s girlfriends! – plus they’re allowed Outside, now

– Guess how long “forever” lasts

Book Three = “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale

It would most hurt Allyn to lose… = Not his father, for a change

Solution = Crueler than ever

Important Plot Things to Know ™ =

Legend cover 02, front

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.

There, now. All caught up. Nothing left for you to do but buy the new book once it becomes available. …and, if you would be so kind, to point our way any you know who might enjoy the tale. Truly great legends owe much of their power to word of mouth. 😉 Until next week, readers! *minstrel bow* Fare ye well.

In a Faire Fight

Did you ever hear about the most epic fight I ever saw at the Ren Faire?

(Bristol, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.)

‘Twas my first season on cast as a Towne Crier – also, incidentally, the last season where the Fight Cast played the roles of Merry Men. I forget all the details of the staged encounter, but it involved Robin Hood getting caught on the bridge over Lake Elizabeth, forcing him into an outrageous getaway. It was pretty wild. There were Sirens involved.

And of course, me being an author who would go on to pen a whole series of books centered around my own Merry Men in a Renaissance Faire, you had to know I’d use it as inspiration sooner or later – like, say, in the upcoming conclusion of the trilogy.

Since I daresay most of you missed the instigating show at Bristol, and we’ve still got 2 weeks to kill before Outlaws 3’s release, how about we sneak a peek at that scene now? ^^ You can read it below! And/or watch me read it aloud in this video posted to the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page.

zLegendExcerptVid2

Neither option includes Sirens, alas, but you will be treated to merry banter and wonky math! Plus, the vid features my Disney Robin Hood shirt and, well, the kind of faces I make when performing characters. X) Enjoy!

“Sheriff!” a voice barked from the trees beyond the road, and out of their shadows stepped the archer. He pushed back the hood of green from his head, revealing his waves of brown hair, flashing blue eyes, and slim beard framing both strong jaw and mouth drawn into a hard line of anger. “Leave the innocents of Nottingham in peace. Your quarrel is not with them, but with me!”

“Guards!” the Sheriff shouted, a finger thrust toward the archer. “Take him!”

“Oh, prithee do try,” a voice rumbled low – or high, in terms of altitude. Another man stepped from the trees, towering over the first, and with a stout staff at the ready in his colossal hands.

“What are you waiting for?” the Sheriff berated his men, when they only stood staring uneasily at the black-bearded giant. “Grow a spine among you, cowards! We are many, and they only two!”

“Huh,” said the dark woman just now stepping around the giant, a knife a-twirl in her fingers. “Seemeth to me someone’s count is off, somewhere. How many would you say we are, Robin?”

“Well, of course you and I are one heart joined, my lady Marion,” said Robin, with a warm smile for his wife. “But Little John is easily the equal of any two men, so the count thus far is no fewer than three.”

“And was is not but this morn at breakfast, cousin,” said a man garbed in lavish red, come forward to lean casually against his sword placed point-first in the ground, “that you likened me to a dozen good men?”

“Was it yourself thus likened, Scarlet, or your chatter?” asked Robin.

“Or his share of our breakfast?” said Marion.

Will Scarlet laughed with abandon. “Best take both together, and count me as four-and-twenty!”

With lute on back and staff in hand, a youth in dark blues stepped out to join the party, a curvaceous girl with a half-drawn bow at his side. “The final count, then,” he lilted, “is nine and a score, for we are content to add a pair more.”

The girl with the bow arched an eyebrow. “Are we not one, Allyn-a-Dale?”

“Most assuredly are we, May Ellen,” he soothed. “But I deemed it high time someone tried their hand at a factual tally, and it appeared not as if that one,” – he rolled his eyes – “or four-and-twenty, would be Will.”

By now, the Sheriff’s men-at-arms, who numbered a factual four, were looking less at ease than ever. Seeing this, the Sheriff cleared his throat, and adopted a more levelheaded tone.

“Now, Robin,” said he, “I see no need for us to engage in full-scale battle. What profit is it to either of us to risk so many lives? Let us rather be judicious men, and curtail the shedding of blood.”

“Why, my good Sheriff,” said Robin, dryly. “I knew not that wanton bloodshed was so abhorrent to you. In faith, past action on your part has led me to believe just the opposite. But what solution would you put forth?”

“A contest of champions,” the Sheriff said. “My best swordsman, pitted against yours. Should your man win, I give my word that I will no longer trouble the townsfolk to reach you. Should my man win, your band must give itself up to the Law. Are we agreed?”

While the crowd shouted their opinions on the matter, Robin turned a questioning look on his band. “What say you, my Merry Men?” he asked. “All those in favor of accepting the Sheriff’s terms, say: ‘Hey for merry old England!’”

With one voice, the band cried, “Hey for merry old England!”

“Then we are agreed!” Robin answered the Sheriff. “Send forth your champion.”

Smiling smugly, the Sheriff called, “Stand forward, Sir Guy of Gisborne!”

For the rest of the confrontation (and the rest of the novel, for that matter) be sure to get your copy of “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” – coming in 2 weeks!