A “Ballad” Tour of Bristol

For the first time in a handful of years, the Bristol Renaissance Faire has a bookshop again. This excited me for two reasons.

1 – Bookshop! ‘Nough said!

2 – This presented a possibility that, just maybe, I could see my beautiful book baby, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, sold in the Ren Faire that had inspired it.

Well, I spoke to the shopkeeper, and she seemed favorably impressed by my nerve in pitching the idea. But alas, the deal didn’t go through – which, as one might expect, did quite a number with my depression for several black-and-blue days.

However, a voice that sounded distinctly like my Robin Hood’s afterword spoke in my head, just because you can’t sell the book in Bristol yet, that doesn’t mean “Ballad” can’t visit its mother Faire.

And, as Robin Hood-esque voices often are, it was right.

Thus did my most recent trip to Bristol center around a photo project for my personal satisfaction – the best results of which I’m happy to share with you all. Come, readers! Let us away to the Faire!

11 - Map

Though Bristol’s not quite Avalon Faire, one has only to compare their maps to see they share a number of features in common. And speaking of maps…

04 - Cartographer

…Here he is – the talent behind the Avalon Faire map, the Cartographer of the Cosmos himself – Jesse Kennedy! (A most EXCELLENT chap. If you ever get the chance to give him your business, then do!)

01 -Archery

Of course my Robin Hood book had to stop by the archery games.

09 - Joust

And what’s a trip to the Renaissance Faire without a lively joust?

13 - Tavern

Fun fact! I had this building, Tuscany Tavern, vaguely in mind when I wrote this bit of “Ballad”:

For on the steps leading up to a pub on a low rise of hill, there stood Robin Hood, and Little John, too. And perched on the rail above them, a notably smaller young man in deep, vivid blue, holding a lute.

And speaking of lutes…

08 - Jester

…This sculpture, called The Jester, was of course only too delighted to welcome “Ballad” home.

10 - Lake

Bristol’s Lake Elizabeth; the inspiration behind Avalon’s Lake Vivienne. Also the location of an extraordinary fight cast performance, my first year as a Towne Crier – one which further inspired a certain scene in Outlaws 3, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. (Coming this fall!)

12 - Nook

More inspiration! This little nook nestled between shops is behind the following passage from Book 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”:

Will Scarlet cornered Allyn in one of the minstrel’s favored haunts. An unobtrusive courtyard tucked between two vendors’ buildings, it boasted a prettily carved stone bench by either wall, a trellis roof hung with ivy, and a floor of grass and wildflowers growing in the generous spaces between handcrafted ceramic tiles. Like everything to be seen, heard, and felt in the Faerie Glade, the nook was gently enchanting — made even more so whenever Allyn chose it as the backdrop for a tune upon his lute.

And speaking of the Faerie Glade…

07 - Fairie Glen

…The Bristol equivalent is called the Fairie Glen, and boasts this charming display which I’m sure the world’s smallest Fey would find most inviting.

It all goes to show that, even in a real-world Renaissance Faire…

02 - Avalon

…There are pieces of Avalon everywhere. ❤

For more “Ballad” in Bristol shots not pictured here, keep your eye on the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page; I’ll be posting a photo album shortly. And while it’s still a bummer that you can’t get copies of my Outlaws books in Bristol’s bookshop, they are ever awaiting you via my website – including the newly released Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”, and the “Ballad” e-book that’s half-price on Smashwords through the end of July. See you ‘round the Ren Faire!

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.!

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

London Rain

I was planning to blog today about this past Sunday – i.e., the day a local library held its awards ceremony for the creative writing contest in which I took 2nd place in my category. Buuut my time got eaten by writing other things, so we’ll recap the ceremony next week. As for today, it’s still National Poetry Month, so here – have a poem, inspired by one of my Pinterest boards.

<<<>>>

London rain.

Water mirrors splashed across the street, holding the sky on the ground.

Look down, look up.

*

London fog.

City wrapped up snug in black and white and smudgy gray.

Make that grey. With an e. Like the earl.

*

London bridge.

Stretched across the Thames (I think).

(I hope) in no danger of falling down.

*

London clock.

Face up high, all round and glowing like the moon.

Likewise, the night’s timekeeper.

*

London red.

On the buses, double-decked. On the boxes, telephone.

Signage: Mind the gap.

*

London rain.

Slicking silver off umbrellas, filling air with petrichor, keeping company with those who walk the paths where Beatles tread, with Sherlock and his game afoot, where vampires slipped ‘tween gaslight shadows, Sweeney Todd sang dark revenge, never-grown-up boys flew star-ward and straight on ‘til morning, while a sword stood in an anvil on a stone awaiting kingly call…

Tales on tales, and worlds in worlds, all there beneath the watchful

Eye of London.

London Rain

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 3

Today, for your reading pleasure, the conclusion of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 2, here.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Goodbye?” I cry. “You’re leaving the sky?”

The moon replies, I’m seriously considering it.

“But, the night!” I protest.

Can get along without me. There are still the stars, after all.

“But, the tides!”

I’ll find a replacement satellite. Your planet’s waters won’t know the difference.

“But… but…!” I’m running low on arguments. “What about me?”

The moon’s song turns sad. I know it will be hard

“Not hard,” I say. “Impossible. Some days, you’re my only light in the darkness. Some days, yours is the only beauty that can reach me. Without that… without you…” Tears ambush my eyes. “How can I last the night?

“Look. I get it. Burnout is a thing – even lunar burnout, apparently. Maybe the rhythm of the heavens is no better than the human rat race. Maybe you need a vacation. And you’re welcome to it! Hideout for a cycle or two. Make my attic your rehab retreat. But it can’t be forever. Please.”

Bawling seems a little more dramatic than I’d planned, but here we are. Blame it on the lateness of the hour. Everything’s awful at two a.m.

The moon’s soft light is like a stroking hand, attempting to soothe. Its music is all shushes and coos.

Suppose, it says at last, we can reach a compromise?

Compromise. Noun. That thing where nobody wins.

Suppose I leave the sky, it muses on, but not your sight?

I sniffle back another sob. “How would that even work?”

Open your eyes.

I do, and move to swipe the tears away, but the moon’s light stops me. It’s brighter than ever. Insistently so. More tears well up against the glare, but never get a chance to fall. The light is pushing back. Pushing… in.

“Personal spaaace!” I wail. “What are you doing?!”

I don’t get an answer. I rub at my eyes, and the huge glowing crescent is gone. Yet, the nighttime attic around me hasn’t dimmed.

A whisper inside says, Look in the window.

Not out the window. In.

There in the glass, my ghostly reflection. And there in my eyes…

Moonlight.

Part 3’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936965233854/

To carry with you, says the whisper, through the dark. I will not leave you, my child.

“Wow,” I say, because wow. “But… what about finding that replacement satellite?”

The whisper sounds like some extraterrestrial cuss. Maybe it’s not too late to get a message to Pluto and Charon. Up on the roof, love, and blink exactly as I tell you

For the end of the story, this seems an awful lot like an incredible beginning.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 2

Today, for your reading pleasure, the continuation of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 3, coming later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Why on Earth is the moon in my attic?”

I don’t expect an answer, given that I don’t expect the moon can talk.

But it can. And does. Not in English, or even in words, but in… well, I guess it would be best described as music.

It says something like hello, and sorry to have disturbed you. I gather that it hadn’t intended to introduce itself until morning.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I say, because polite, inoffensive lies are my conversational default. One day I’ll slip up and tell someone what I really think, and then the world will end.

Truth is, I’m not terribly upset to find the moon in my house. Is this in any way logical? No. Can the ramifications of this event be anything short of disastrous? Likely not. Should I be contacting somebody about this? I don’t know who, but probably yeah.

But the moon knows me. I hear my name in its song.

And I know the moon. Sort of.

In one sense, it’s like a favorite celebrity. I know the moon’s stats. I can list its achievements. I recognize its face every time it shows up in pictures.

In another sense, it’s like an old friend. The sight or thought of the moon warms my heart. I feel the love in its light. It’s just always been there, the way family is.

The shining crescent says, Because family is what we are.

Part 2’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936962803207/

Confusion contorts my face. “Biological?”

It laughs. Nothing so Earthly as that. But you hold a part of me. And so you are my child.

I’m somewhere between touched and giddy. “That’s… special. But why are you here?”

The moon’s music sighs. I am old and tired and thin.

“Like a hobbit spread over too much bread?” I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the quote, but I’m tired, too, if not so old. My head’s too full of missing my pillow to bother with first-rate Tolkien references.

Like a moon, it says, with too many phases behind it. Wax and wane, wax and wane… I haven’t the will to grow full again.

So I’ve come down to tell you goodbye.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 1

Today, for your reading pleasure, the first part of a short story written by yours truly. (Parts 2 and 3 to come later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

It’s times like these I wish I had a husband.

I’ve told myself I’m not the marrying kind. That my need for solitude and personal space far outweighs my sometimes-desire for romance. That I’d have no hope of a good night’s sleep if I had to share a bed, particularly if my bedmate were known to snore. Or even breathe loudly. Or touch me.

On the other hand, unexplained rustles and thumps in the attic don’t do much toward a restful night, either.

It’s probably burglars. Murdering ones. Or raccoons. Zombie ones. Or a spider of unearthly proportions.

I’m going to die tonight.

Had I a husband, I’d send him up with a broom or a BB gun to take care of whatever unholy pest has come to plague our home. Instead, it’s single, sleepless little me up those stairs. Clutched in my hands, a sizeable stick. Jammed on my head, my Adventure Hat. (Or, for tonight’s purposes, my Guard My Hair From Cobwebs ‘n’ Such Hat.) Tingling in my veins, a potent form of chronic anxiety that can morph into berserker rage at need. …Or anytime I’m harassed by a housefly.

Every dusty step creaks beneath me. Every breath contains a whispered whimper. Have I lived my best life? Have I any regrets? It’s not actually too late to go back downstairs and just burn the house to the ground…

I reach the trapdoor to the uppermost story, and heaven above, there’s a weird glow shining through the cracks. Bright white light, bordering on blue. Not zombie raccoons at all, then. Mutant raccoons. From space.

Therefore, not a spider! That’s some comfort, at least. Feeling slightly less terrified, I push open the door, and…

That is the moon.

That is the moon.

The moon.

Is in.

My attic.

The story’s inspiration.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!