Big Heart, Little Braveries

I mentioned in my last post that I was working through some personal issues – how else? – by writing yet another sequel to “Big City, Little Magics”.

Since that post (*waves back to distant mid-July*), I am happy to report that:

1) I have bid farewell to a workplace I was more than ready to leave and gained temporary employment elsewhere. To leave the devil I knew was brave. To try my chances with the devil unknown, also brave. Plus the temp gig’s duties include making a lot of phone calls, and if that doesn’t take bravery, what does??

2) Five years after falling into obsession with the soundtrack – and fifteenish months after the heartbreak of our tickets to the show succumbing to the plague – Tirzah and I finally got to watch the musical “Hamilton” onstage. Strangely enough, allowing yourself to reach for a good time can take more bravery than you think. Not just the part where you have to find decent parking in San Francisco, either. The part where you have to make your heart big enough to hold old wounds and new joys together.

3) And oh yeah, I finished the story! A brave project to undertake, yet less scary to try than this series’ first installment. After all, with every little magical tale I create with these characters, the surer I am that it wasn’t a fluke – I’ve really rediscovered my writing.

Presenting my latest from the BCLM world:

*

Once upon a time, there was a road trip…

Farther back.

Once upon a time, there was a slaughter…

Farther.

Once upon a time, an unbearable goodbye…

Back.

Once upon a time, there was a monster…

*

Once upon a time, and again, and again,

Several times upon a time, there was a darkness.

And the dark contained a demon – or, perhaps, a deity…

Certainly, the dark contained a dragoness.

*

But ‘contained’ is not the word. Nothing kept in check about it,

Though she fought to hold herself controlled and tight.

Shadows leaking out the cracks, blackness creeping past the edges,

And we all know only wrongness shuns the light.

Right?

*

What if

Once and twice and thrice the monster reached across the times,

Claiming all the potent power of the inverse of the sun?

What if

Time could be rewritten through the act of self-alliance?

If the dragon truly saves herself in this one?

*

What would having that do?

Dream it true.

*

The Self-Construction of Couch” – now available to read (for free! Or for Ko-Fi tips, if it please ye) on Wattpad.com.

‘Til next we brave this life together,

~ Danielle

Big Struggles, Little Niceties

Couch is having a rough time.

Which is to say, I am having a rough time, and have been attempting to work through some of it via Couch (of “Big City, Little Magics” fame). In some ways, our current struggles are largely unrelated. But in other, more internal ways, we’re both basically fighting the same fight.

I shan’t go into much detail about it right now, because 1) I’m tired and – as I’ve only lately come to realize – 2) I put off reaching out to talk about myself until I feel there’s something nice to share. Still, despite my unhurried pace, I’ve got the majority of the project written; probably only a small percentage to go. Once it’s all finished, of course I plan to upload it to Wattpad alongside all my other “Big City, Little Magics” stories.

And speaking of, I’ve added some fun new fictions to my “Extra-Little Magics” collection. If you enjoyed better getting to know the band through the group text exchanges peppered into Book 2 / “Big Feels, Unlimited Magics”, then these four (and counting?) “Band Chats” should prove a treat! In any case, I had a ton of fun writing them. ^_^

One more nice thing to share: This dope band poster I made for Manchester Leif.

If you think I’m mad I can’t just hop planes of reality and catch one of their live gigs, you’re right.

‘Til next there are nice things,

~ Danielle

Big Feels, Unlimited Magics

So! I recently uploaded the sequel to “Big City, Little Magics” onto Wattpad.com!

And it may actually take me a minute to remember how to talk about it, because my heart’s still living in another story – a related short, set pre-BCLM, entitled “A Thing About Sleeves”.

As I’ve confessed in blog posts past, I’m a little bit obsessed with muh boi Sleeves right now, and this 6K-ish-word story is an attempt to articulate why.

Told in Manchester first-person, it is essentially:

– A tale of friend-courtship ‘twixt a man and a dragon (sing hey all the way for a bromance!)

– A peek into Sleeves’ life prior to slash outside of the band

– A reminiscence of my visit to Hawai’i, some years ago

– A memo to self – (and to whoever else needs to hear it) – that feeling sad is allowed

Unlike BCLM 1 and 2, this story doesn’t include any original song lyrics. But if you want a song that captures the spirit, like, insanely perfectly, check out “Pacific” by Christa Wells.

I just, urrgh, now I’m mad I finished the story, because it means I don’t get to be writing it anymore. Nice going, me. Good luck digging up another happy place.

In any case, that’s now up on Wattpad, too, as a fresh addition to the shorts collection “Extra-Little Magics”.

BUT! Back to novella number two. I didn’t want to figure out a blurb for it, so I let Amygdala ‘n’ ‘em take care of it for me.

*

Amygdala: “Poll question! What’s the best part of the sequel to ‘Big City, Little Magics’?”

Couch: “Why is there a sequel?”

Sleeves: “Pretty sure the author’s just obsessed with us and wanted to see what else we’ll do.”

Manchester: “Authors do be like.”

Harkness: “My favorite part is the conversations like these, because it is fun that we ask and answer such important questions as ‘What is home to you?’ and ‘What do you think red smells like?’ and ‘What do you love about Harkness?’” *smiling sun emoji*

Travis: “I like— well, /most appreciate/ the Manchester POV chapters. Far from easy, but deeply important. I hope they reach the readers who need them.”

Amygdala: “Of which the author was one.”

Amygdala: “Best part in my opinion? Getting a chance to further explore the different social dynamics between our various friend combos within the band. I like us liking each other. :)”

Sleeves: “I like us speaking probable blasphemies while high.”

Couch: “I like the new song.”

Couch: “Not new to us, but to anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.”

Couch: “Edit: /read/ it yet. (The author needs to get around to making audio for this shit.)”

Manchester: “Best part of the sequel? Same as the best part of the original: Friend-family making the most of their magics to deepen each other’s lives.”

Sleeves: “Plus the Pride Night aesthetics.”

Manchester: “Oh, HELL YES, the Pride Night aesthetics.”

Big Feels, Unlimited Magics: More Days in the Life of Amygdala Wroth (and Friends)

*

All that, and they didn’t even mention the cursed laundromat. Ah well, no blurb can contain the whole of a story’s awesomeness.

Let me know if you read and enjoy my new fics! I accept comments, Ko-Fi tips, fanart, and good vibes sent my way in these trying times.

‘Til next we magic,

~ Danielle

Thoughts from Alongside a Lacy Sea

Today (or ‘however many days ago’, by the time this post goes live) I visited a nearby beach.

The day was cold. Or rather, the beach was cold, and silver-toned, and fog rolled overhead like the gray-brown-green surf below. But out of the hills and nearer my neighborhood, the weather was merely chilly, and warmed by shining sun.

The Bay Area – also known, several microclimates stacked inside a trench coat.

Tirzah was further up the beach (the better to catch a little cell service and chat with family), leaving me all by lonesome. Though ‘lonesome’ is hardly the word, what with all the calling gulls, strutting corvids, and healthful quiet time for company. And, of course, the ocean, heaving and frothing and gliding over saturated sands, sliding like rain-patterned lace over satin, shush, roar, sigh…

Seated on a rock, weathering the cold, I got to thinking (by who knows which roads) about the books I’ve published.

First thought: They make me proud.

Swift second thought: They could have been better.

Thought 1: For crying out loud, let me live.

Thought 2: I’m just saying. She could write them better now.

Could I, though? Yes and no.

I’m close to a decade older than I was when I first started self-pubbing. Since then, I’ve written a heck-ton more words. I’ve been exposed to countless more experiences, conversations, points of view, and stories – both fictional and non. I think about more stuff, and from more angles. I have different ideas about how to make a book its best self.

What I do not have – unlike in days of yore – is the mad creative energy to turn every bit of spare time into art.

So, pure theoretically, if I were to write, say, The Wilderhark Tales today, they could be masterworks. But speaking practically, there is no way I would write The Wilderhark Tales today, because I am Tired™.

A comforting thought, then: Writing my books when I did = writing them the best I ever could.

And I mean, the alternative is what? Waiting until you see the Grim Reaper coming for you across the street, then real quick hitting ‘publish’ on that book file you’ve been fiddling with for the last fifty years? ‘Cause that’s pretty much the only way to guarantee that you won’t come up with a better version of the story later.

Done with her phone call, Tirzah rejoined me nearer the waterline. By now, my fingertips numb and yellow from cold, I was about ready to call the beach trip quits. But first, we detoured a-ways to investigate what had one group of gulls so excited. Some sort of driftwood pile, perhaps? Looked kinda like massive bones.

On the way, I shared my proud/discouraging/comforting musings – including a recollection of The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine. Maybe you’ve encountered them. Tiny little fairy story books, some not even a hundred pages long, spinning their take on The Princess and the Pea, Toads and Diamonds, and the like. Just the right size and subject for Early Reader Me. And an inspiring sight for Pre-Publication Author Me, those candy-colored bite-sized books nestled among other full-sized children’s and middle grade titles on the public library shelf.

“See?” they said to me. “Books don’t have to be thick. And they don’t have to be particularly profound. They can be short ‘n’ sweet fairy tale retellings, and still have a place on shelves and in readers’ hands.”

Another comforting thought: Like Levine’s Princess Tales, my Wilderhark Tales don’t need to be redrafted into something they’re not in order to matter. I wrote them as I wished them to be, and those slim, fanciful novellas are good. Imperfect? Yes. Just like every other book I ever read. Ever wrote. Ever loved.

And turns out? That pile of driftwood was massive bones. A whale carcass had made its way onto the shore, and the gulls were rightly excited about it.

All told, an entirely worthwhile beach trip.

Keep Calm and Magic On

Since the writing of my first NaNoWriMo project in ages, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the main cast from “Big City, Little Magics” – primarily with Sleeves and Manchester, who have sort of unofficially taken over socially as my new Will and Allyn.

This is not to say that Sleeves and Manchester are very much like Will and Allyn (or that muh boys Will and Allyn have fully retired from my brain space, because never). One could argue on paper, I suppose, for parallels between Manchester Leif and Allyn-a-Dale – both of them being singer-songwriters, prone to melancholy in the wake of past and/or ongoing tragedies. But I’m not seeing much in common at all between Will Scarlet and dragon drummer Sleeves, save for one important trait: They’re good at getting to the front of my brain and offering on-call life assistance.

Yes, sir, these are indeed my emotional support characters.

A couple attempts at Sleeves sketches, because my obsessions will out. Did not bother trying to include his tattoos, because he had not yet revealed to me what or where they are.

Sleeves serves best when I’m dealing with anxiety or anger (i.e., the majority of the time), because he has astonishing powers of mood self-regulation which I am striving my darnedest to learn for myself. When depressed, though, I’m better off leaning into Manchester, because he gets it, and his gentle, sympathetic encouragement can soothe places that Sleeves’ rougher-edged approach simply will not reach.

I’ve been getting to know these fellas and the rest of the band better not only through informal hangouts, but also via further writing projects. If you liked “Big City, Little Magics”, rejoice, because I have lately finished drafting a number of short stories and a sequel novella! The sequel will probably join BCLM up on Wattpad.com, ere long. And in the meantime, I proudly present:

Extra-Little Magics” – short stories, flash fics, and vignettes set in the world of “Big City, Little Magics”.

Like my first magical Wattpad upload, it’s free to read. (Ko-fi tips not required, but always appreciated.) I shan’t call the project finished, because I anticipate inspiration will strike for more shorts in the months to come, some or all of which will get added to the published collection. The three stories included so far (same ‘semi-mature’ rating / content advisory as the first novella):

“So This is Christmas” = a Sleeves soliloquy, set during BCLM

“Dearer Than Dignity” = a racy dragon romance, set pre-BCLM

“Odd Pod” = reflections on friendship, from one of seal-kind to another, set post-BCLM

Stay tuned for more happy authorial gushing after the sequel novella goes live. I don’t know if any of y’all have the least idea how truly magical it feels to have words dancing through me again after languishing so, so long at the bottom of an empty well. (Fellow artists in the house, maybe you’ve been there.) In lieu of quality therapy (maybe someday…), getting back into writing like this is doing me a world of good. As is making friends with these parts of myself! …plus Sleeves, who – unlike Manchester, Amygdala, and Couch – is not me, and none of us actually have a clue where the heck in the ether of imagination he came from. (It’s like the inexplicable arrival of Gant-o’-the-Lute all over again.)

Until we magic again,

~ Danielle

New Year, New Magics

Happy New Ye—

*pauses*

*notices it’s practically February*

Yeah okay, never mind.

Clearly, I’ve been up to things that are NOT blogging, this past month or so. But I figure now’s as good a time as any to bring you lovely readers o’ mine up to date. To that end, here’s what newer than 2021:

“Princess and the Moon” Thank-You Gifts

F I N A L L Y, I’ve gathered all the goodies promised to my extra-generous GoFundMe supporters! Picture books = printed. Bookmarks = Vistaprinted. Stickers = straight outta my Society6 shop.

Now all that remains is to get them in the mail, which I hope to accomplish tomorrow or next week, depending. I’ve got all the necessary addresses except – *checks notes* – is there a Pam/Pamela Williams in the house? I would love to see your much-appreciate donation rewarded, so… hit me up!

“Big City, Little Magics”

I mentioned in my December post that my last-ditch attempt at NaNoWriMo led me to create a cherished little project full of witches (and not-witches) and dragons and friendship and writerly angst and Bay Area vibes and and and. I am happy to announce that my obsession with the characters has not died, and I’m already several thousands of words into the sequel.

I may also have made several more character pics in various parts of the internet.

Best Amygdala (aka my inner lover of the world and all its magics, big and small. Made here).

Best Couch (aka my neurotic murder dragon side. Made here).

And I have yet to find a doll/avatar maker that does as perfect a job of capturing Manchester (aka my tragic inner artist. …Not Allyn-a-Dale, the one that’s extra me), so have a super cute Sleeves instead (made here).

In very much related news, my Tirzah was gently adamant that I give her a way to share this novella with the world, so… I let her set up a Wattpad account for me. The story can now be read here, for free (along with a blurb that Tirzah was kind enough to write for me, because my inner Manchester and Couch had WAY too many feelings to let me approach it myself without panic attacks). T likewise talked me into getting a Ko-fi account, so folks can leave tips if they found my words particularly delightful.

Which… a lot of people have??

Not left tips (although a few have! And I thank them!), but found my words delightful. “Big City, Little Magics” is in many ways very different from any of my other published works. If my “Inspired” novels were a picture of my mind, this story’s more a picture of my soul – which I guess swears a lot and is hella queer. XD Fair enough if that’s not up the alley of my usual audience. But more than one of BCLM’s earliest readers told me this was just the story they needed. And high goodness knows it’s been just what I needed. So for everyone in that boat, this Wattpad link is for you.

Lest I begin to doubt whether Tirzah’s as in love with this story as I am, she drew me this fan art with one of its quotes. ❤

Miscellaneous

Meanwhile, I’ve maintained a 389-day streak on my Duolingo French lessons. My maidenhair fern is thriving better than ever. (Turns out she’s a small sip of water every day kinda gal.) Work is still a wild and stress-filled ride because, y’know, pandemic. My hair’s grown out long enough that I can put it up in a Killmonger @ the Museum ponytail. And I am working very hard to figure out how best to manage my neurotic murder dragon brain such that I can maybe sometimes relax and have a nice time.

Wish me well (and best wishes back atcha!),

~ Danielle

Quotes and Aesthetics from a Reclaimed Space

From my NaNoWriMo profile:

The artist formerly known as Mastermaid22. … Prolific indie creative in my Young Adult Phase. Melancholy scribbler in my Blue Phase. Fallow Phase has been a silent scream of a 1/3rd-life crisis. Now reaching for a Renaissance.

*

From NaNo forum on wanting to write again, but…:

It’s been four years since I’ve able to start a new novel project. Edit existing drafts, sure. Scribble flash fics and poems and the odd blog post, sure. But that thing that used to give me so much joy – brainstorming and pre-plotting and whipping out thousands of words in service to a shiny new story… I’ve lost that. To depression, anxiety, trauma, and whatever else. And most attempts to rally and try again are quickly shut down by a sense of utter pointlessness. ‘No one’s gonna read it. It’ll fail to sell, just like everything else you’ve put out there. Nobody but your mom truly cares about anything you create. Your art has no value, and if you’re not creating, neither do you.’

It’s a heartbreaking brain-space to live in. And I’ve come close to never-minding signing up for this NaNo at all. Maybe this is my last ride. Maybe if this NaNo brings no joy, I’ll finally quit trying to write novels forever.

Or maybe I won’t.

It’s too early to say. And although I may ‘fail’ as much as the next writer, I’m not very good at all at giving up.

A quick cover concept, thrown together with Artbreeder.com, Photofunia.com, and basic photo editing programs that came with Windows 10.

*

From my novel summary:

My original project = Was not sparking joy.

My Plan B concept, as randomly generated on ChaoticShiny.com = Anti-witches, unicorns and rock stars in modern Rome. Some things you might run into: corruption, dragons, magic and a natural disaster. Don’t forget about the flail, armor, forge, bastard sword, cavern and hill.

The WIP so far = No sign of unicorns, but I’m getting plenty of mileage from the ‘anti’-witch narrator and her wrathful dragon roommate…

*

Amygdala Wroth ~ The Anti-Witch

“I lugged two boxes of your crystals and candles and grimoires up the stairs last night, but you’re not a witch.”

I make a noise of disgust into my mug. “The word is dead. Used as a weaponized synonym for ‘woman’, then commercialized by Big Magic because neopaganism sells. I reject any and all affiliation.”

Her brow’s still up, but it’s gone amused. “With what all, exactly? Neopaganism? Big Magic? Women?”

“The second one, for sure. As regards the third, all women are magic. It’s just that not all of us know how to tap into our full power. Hell, maybe none of us do. I probably don’t. But I reach for what I can.”

*

Couch ~ The Dragon Roommate

Things I knew about dragons before ever actually meeting one:

– Dragons hoard things.

– Despite having wings, they can’t actually fly.

– Despite science being unable to account for it, dragons can breathe fire.

– Apart from the wings and the fire … and the scales … and the teeth … and the fact that they routinely get away with manslaughter because everyone’s too scared to prosecute … dragons are virtually indistinguishable from humans. […]

Things I knew about Couch, specifically, before agreeing to become her roommate:

– She has a cat.

– She has turned all of her previous roommates into stone.

– She’s a Scorpio.

Things I am learning about Couch now that we live together:

– Time shall tell.

*

Harkness ~ The Selkie Sweetheart

She’s perfect in the way seals are perfect. Their grace in the water. The sculptural quality of their shape. The silly joy they spark while sitting oh-so-roundly and slapping their tummies and skooching up to nose at wildlife photographers’ cameras.

The light in her liquid-dark eyes is perfect. The dimples in her smile are perfect. Her poetic butchery of her second language is perfect. (Or would English be her third language, after le français and the tongue of the seals?)

The way she drapes herself over Couch, casually cuddly, is perfect, as is the artless glee she takes in any little thing. But no, not artless, because you can tell: She knows the effect it has. She sees the pleasure it brings.

*

From another NaNo forum, on using heartache/trauma as inspiration:

The project I abandoned a few days in and the fresh one I whipped up instead have something in common: A character who used to feel confident about their writing/storytelling ability and found joy in it, but doesn’t know how to get to that place anymore – a loss that not only hurts like the dickens, but really carves chunks out of their sense of identity.

Plan B Project also features someone who’s really excited about a writing project, but hasn’t figured out how to translate that enthusiasm into “the right words” on the page, and another someone whose anxiety and misanthropy are messing with her quality of life.

I wonder how many other issues of mine will out themselves before November’s end…

*

Manchester Leif ~ The Broken Writer

“Do you have any idea,” he says quietly, “how people react when I tell them I’ve written my books?”

“I’d imagine they’d be…” I shrug. “Impressed?”

“Oh, yes.” That chuckle had so little cheer, it should have its card revoked. “Everyone is always very impressed. Incredibly excited. It’s so cool that I’ve written a book. They’ll ask what my work’s about, and where they can find it. And then… Almost no one goes on to buy the book, Amygdala. And of the few who do, almost no one gets around to reading it.”

I almost say, That’s a shame. But that look of his tells me it is more than that. So I say instead, “That’s a tragedy.”

*

Sleeves ~ Just Your Average Guy from the Dragon District, I Guess?

“Work’s only bad when your job sucks,” says Sleeves.

I ask, “Does yours not?”

“Nah, man.” He smirks. “According to society, I’m an Underground fighter slash hitman slash tat artist.”

“Only two of those are true of you,” says Manchester.

*

Travis Marina ~ Born of the Bay

Travis holds out a hand for the labradorite, the May I? implied. I pass it along, and he studies it a moment in a particular kind of silence. “Solid,” he says at last, returning it with a nod of thanks.

In a company containing dragons, a selkie, and me, I wonder whether Travis might low key be the most magical of us.

*

From a third NaNo forum, on failure:

I used to be able to hit 50K in under 30 days, no problem. I was a writer on fire (who, conveniently, lived with her parents and didn’t have to hold down a day job while she pursued her authorial goals).

But this year was different. I knew that going in. My fire has been basically burnt out for a long while. Plus I’m adulting full time, and my mental/emotional health has been feeling the effects of 2020.

Could I have forced myself to reach 50K regardless? Yes. Would any of those words have meant anything to me? No. My real goal this November was to revisit the commitment of writing every day, and searching to discover whether doing so could bring me any joy.

The project I started on Nov. 1 did not end up bringing the joy I hoped. So I switched to a different story, seven or eight days in. I used to be a total Planner; this story came with zero planning, dreamed up in half an hour and then let loose without any idea where the plot was going to go. It’s ended up being a deeply personal, introspective, healing project to uncover, written at about half the speed I’d need for ‘winning’ NaNo.

November is done, with some 31K words clocked in. The story’s… somewhere past halfway through. (Hard to know for sure, without my meticulous outlines of old.) I may not work on it every single day, going forward, or may continue on more slowly. But I’m invested in the writing of it, now. I want to and will finish. I haven’t decided whether I’ll ever try to share the finished story with anyone… I have decided that’s not the part that matters. Not with this one.

I did not hit a 50K win this year. But I’ve found pieces of what I’ve been missing in my spirit. …That is its own kind of winning.

*

Aesthetic images put together with Adobe Spark, mostly using images from Unsplash.com, Picrew.com (oh, and DollDivine.com), a couple photos taken on my phone, and a closeup of Eliot Spencer from the TV series “Leverage”, aka the best modern take on the Merry Men that I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and I finished the story. About 36.5K, all told. You still may never read it. But in some ways, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

Thoughts from the Cage

In “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”, I wrote:

“I’m fine. I just… I don’t belong here […] I hate this place, I hate being trapped! I want to be able to go out and do things! New and exciting things all the time, not the same places and faces day after day. I had that!” he moaned. “And now what do I have?”

* * *

In my journal this past week, I wrote:

Tirzah has asked of me, for her sake, that I [temporarily, while she gives herself to family] be fine. And so I keep my insides quiet. Hold feeling at a distance. Hide away inside of Avalon. (Am rereading my darling trilogy. Am remembering while I fell so hard in love) […]

What is it I’ve missed so much about the Outlaws books? The stories themselves? The people (of course)? The person I was when I wrote them?

“I miss who I was, too,” muses Allyn. “In the better parts of ‘Marriage’ and ‘Legend’. Before Will’s absence broke me.”

“I miss the process,” Will puts in. “The finding of the stories, and living them on paper. Even when it sucked. It’s… what we’re made for.”

I know. Me, too.

* * *

Aladdin_Trapped

* * *

A month into international lockdown, I wrote:

Let’s run away and keep on running

Our leaping hearts leading, breath falling behind

Air frittered away in gasps of laughter

In living faster, racing our colors past all of the lines

 

Higher, farther,

Our inner world lies vast

Haste now, waste not

A dream that may not last

Before your soul’s stuck fast, let’s run away

 

Let’s drive away and keep on driving

Miss me with an exit, we’ll escape beyond

Cruise to the edge of new horizons

I don’t mind our riding this adventure ‘til the wheels fall off

 

Knowing nothing

Of all that lies ahead

Leaving long gone

The everyday we dread

Before your light’s snuffed dead, let’s drive away

 

Let’s steal away and keep on stealing

All the precious little moments that are ours to take

Share out a cache of mini magics

While we have it, out like a bandit’s just what we’ll make

 

Diving down for

Our treasure sunken deep

Lost then found, all

They said we couldn’t keep

Before your power’s asleep, let’s steal away

 

Let’s feel alive and keep on living

Let’s fall down and fail and keep forgiving

Let’s last the night with the light of the moon

Let’s not stop now, we’ll be out of this soon

* * *

To the Me who penned that song, I write:

‘Soon’ won’t come soon enough.

Most Likely to Feature a Lot of Will Scarlet

So there I was, responsibly sheltering at home (as one does during a pandemic), playing a bit of catch-up with the blog posts in my email, when I finally got ‘round to enjoying this post from the inimitable Story Sponge.

And though I say ‘inimitable’, I am very much here to imitate her example by participating in the “Voted Most Likely” Writers Tag! – the rules of which are these, to quote the Sponge:

One: Thank the lovely blogger who tagged you.

Two: Include a link to the tag creator’s page (That would be the lovely Phoebe.)

Three: Use your own lovely Original Characters (OC’s); don’t use a friend’s characters or characters from your favorite fandom. They can be from any project, so long as you created them. For more fun, try to use as many different characters as possible.

Four: Tag *at least* five lovely blogger friends to play along.

In the interest of adhering to the whole of rule number three, I will endeavor not to simply answer ‘WILL SCARLET’ in 60% of the categories. This may prove challenging, given the do-anything, say-anything, be-anything nature of my Merry Maniac, but we’ll give it our best.

Ready as ever? Onward!

<<<>>>

Most Likely to Be a Poet

Are we excluding professional minstrels? Because Gant-o’-the-Lute, Allyn-a-Dale, Balladry Sol, ‘n’ ‘em are already poets on the daily. On the amateur level, Sir Bedivere claimed he half-fancied himself a poet, back in the day. And he did compose that lovely verse about the Sword in the Stone, as recited in Outlaws of Avalon 1. So for giggles, let’s go with him.

Most Likely to Dance in the Rain

Rain or shine, sleet or hail, on the ground or in the air, the likeliest to be found dancing is Avelaine. And oh, be still my heart, it would be like watching some gorgeous song from my Yanni channel on Pandora turned into Monet colors, but animated into an award-winning short film.

Most Likely to Look Good in a Kilt

Fun story: Long ago, in the first year of the best-friendship between me and Tirzah Duncan, my imaginary friends and I decided to throw her a birthday party (over the phone) at which absolutely everyone wore kilts. (There were also bagpipes and highland battles in a rainstorm, because when a party’s 100% make-believe, you can afford to pull out all the stops.) If I rightly recall, most of the men present looked dang good in their kilts, but the two that stand out most strongly in my memory are Robin Hood and Austeryn, Wind of the South (who is really too dangerous a character to invite to parties, but like I said, we wanted a rainstorm, and that’s very much Austeryn’s department).

Most Likely to Get Punched in the Face

Aaaaaand there’s our first instance of Will Scarlet! (Not saying that Bedivere isn’t easily as likely to make people want to punch him in the face… he’d just move out of the way before the punch could land.)

Most Likely to Drop Everything and Become a Sheep-Herder

If the knighthood no longer called to him, and/or his mother sent a message to the tune of ‘Please come home and help with the family business, boy-o; we’re struggling, here’, Sir Wilbur Lamb would do precisely that.

Most Likely to Be Found in the Library

Since she and I are basically the same person, y’all already know it’s gonna be Annabelle Iole Gray. And if you can’t find her there, try the bookstore.

Most Likely to Sleep Through an Earthquake

Probably the same one who canonically slept through getting murdered and thrown back in time into a tree. That’s right: Will Scarlet again.

Most Likely to Steal Food from Other People’s Plates

Book 1 found him stealing Robin’s French fries. Book 2 caught him swiping hush puppies from Allyn. Book 3’s poached deer hadn’t even been gutted yet before he was wrestling its slayer for rights to the venison. Give it up for Will Scarlet, folks! The man can’t be stopped!

Most Likely to Cheat on a Test

Cheaters? Have I written any cheaters?… Ah! He’s not been published yet (unless you count his AU insert in “Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son”), but there’s this guy, Jason – been a character of mine since, shoot, my preteens – who would completely cheat on a test. Not because he didn’t know the answers! He might or might not have bothered to study for this test. But the point is, low-grade villainy is entirely his aesthetic. He would cheat for cheating’s sake and call it a fun time. He needs more therapy than my imagination can provide.

Most Likely to Say “Oops” After Setting Something on Fire

Hi, Will.

Most Likely

Most Likely to Open an Orphanage

While any number of my large-hearted characters would happily do so, the one for whom it would be most strongly supported by backstory would be Doctor-King Villem Deere. The nuns of Our Lady of Relentless Sympathy’s children’s asylum had his back for the whole of his youth. He would consider it an honor to pay it forward during his reign.

Most Likely to Run Off with the Circus

Ok, but picture an AU in which Molly Worth replaced her seafaring fascination with a circus obsession! Imagine Ringmaster Johnny Crow and his ragtag troupe of performers! Anafrid, tamer of tigers or something! Semsen, unsmiling clown of all trades! Young Johnny the acrobat / the sideshow’s Mythical Winged Boy! Murdoch… trained seal? And I have no idea how to fit the Kraken into this, but apart from that, “Deathsong of the Big Top” is sounding like a must-read.

Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

I mean, Thackeray Kyle’s already done it once. I’m sure he could swing it again.

Most Likely to Fake Their Own Death

In a weird way… Thackeray Kyle kinda already did that, too? More like faking/not-faking his own death/not-death, but yeah, that happened.

Most Likely to Die and Haunt Their Friends

Allyn’s loved ones have died and haunted him on more than one occasion. Brenna Walsh died and haunted, but had no friends. Nicky “Xtra-Medium” Ellenbogen-Jones would likely want to haunt himmer’s friends upon death, but given that s/he is the only one among them with the power to communicate with ghosts, that could prove difficult… Y’know what, let’s go with Molly Worth again. She straight-up pulled that number in-text.

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The End! My thanks, Story Sponge, for providing this exercise’s inspiration. ‘Twas fun! As for tagging, if anyone is a) reading this, b) possessed of original characters, and c) down to blog about their shenanigan likelihood, I dub thee tagged. And if any o’ y’all think I totally should have voted in a different character of mine for this category or that, set me straight in the comments. (Haven’t met any or all of these characters, but want to? Check out my books page!)

Until sooner or later,

~ Danielle

Love, Letters, and a List

Has anyone else taken notice of a trend, lately, in which books are pitched as “a love letter to [this, that, or the other]”? Like, it’s not just a novel set in a city or country, it’s a love letter to that place. No mere story featuring a certain food or cuisine, but a love letter to that gastronomic experience. That character’s journey of self-discovery via an ‘80s pop musician’s body of work / a genre of film / online gaming / illegal goat racing? A love letter to some past or present obsession that made the author the particular brand of weirdo they are today.

As someone who has neither received nor can recall writing any actual love letters (that one epistolary novel from my authorial youth, may it rest in pieces, doesn’t count), I’m not best qualified to decide whether these vogueish descriptions are accurate, misleading, or running all up and down the spectrum in between. What I do know is, they’ve got me thinking:

If the works of Deshipley were letters, what – or who – would be their loves?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash.com

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The Wilderhark Tales = A Love Letter to … True Love

Sure, I could try to break it down book by book – like, “The Song Caster”, love letter to adventure; “The Sun’s Rival”, love letter to the moon; “The Seventh Spell”, love letter to having met Edgwyn Wyle in “The Stone Kingdom” and needing another novella with him in it, pronto. But as a series, the fairytale magic of True Love™ is the heartsong of it all. The love of a princess for her spell-breaking prince; of minstrels for music; of lonely souls for their place in the sky. It’s as cheesy as it is frikkin’ deep, y’all.

The Outlaws of Avalon Novels = A Love Letter to … the Merry Men

By which I mean not only Robin Hood and his legendary band, but also:

– Friendship and

– Bromance and

– Found/chosen families and

– Sherwood Forest and

– Benevolent crimes and

– Renaissance Faire players (especially the ones trained to wave swords about for show).

“An Avalon Christmas Carol” = A Love Letter to … Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Or a fan letter, at the very least.

“Truly Great Words Never Die” = A Love Letter to … Having Fun with Unusual Words

Likewise, to the founders of Save-a-Word Saturday, who are as much to blame thank for the very existence of this little ebook as I am.

The “Inspired” Novels = A Love Letter to … Imagination

…Or so I wrote in the blurb for their companion journal, before I knew it was cool. ‘Tis only true, though. Imaginary friends. Imaginary worlds. The real-life power that ‘just pretend’ can wield. There wouldn’t be an artwork out there worth calling a letter o’ love without it!

“Date Due” = A Love Letter to … Books and Murder

(Make sure to pronounce the latter with a few extra U’s and R’s, for best effect.)

“So Super Dead” = A Love Letter to … ???

I just… I don’t even know. Sometimes the muse frolics down a path of pure absurdity and all you can do is follow, stopping to pluck the dark, decaying flowers along the way. A labor of love? Absolutely. A letter of love? That may be taking it a bit far.

“Deathsong of the Deep” = A Love Letter to … the Kraken, Of Course!

Which isn’t to say that my tentacled lad was given nearly enough page time, because he was NOT. Something about an entire novel of nothing but Kraken killing people and singing to himself being slightly less compelling than the tale of Molly Worth, Captain Crow, and the crew of the Painted Lady. Like that’s an excuse.

“The Once and Future Camelot” = A Love Letter to … Arthuriana

Most specifically, to the ‘Camelot crowd’ I sorta-kinda met in my Outlaws series, but whom I didn’t truly come to know and grow to love until I began unearthing their full story. Heck, some of them even got letters addressed to them by name on this blog (search ‘Letters to Camelot’ in the sidebar), and I’d assuredly compose even more, if Writer Me weren’t lying unconscious somewhere inside my skull. The legend of Camelot’s fall is, as I’ve often labeled it, the absolute saddest tale ever told, and my emotional wreck of a self is Here For It, body and soul.

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Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

Have you encountered any memorable ‘love letter’ descriptions in your media, recently? If your favorite books were love letters, they would be to what/to whom? If you’ve read any of the Deshipley love letters listed above, which most deeply touched your heart and why? Share all in the comments!

Yours with love,

~ Danielle