An Ask from the Past

So I’m scrolling my current blog post document, looking for inspiration re: what to write here next, when I come across this list of questions, pasted in from who-knows-where, who-knows-when. Best guess, a fellow blogger of the book-loving variety shared them in a post of their own, once upon a time, and Long Ago Me thought it might someday be fun to post my answers.

Well, someday may as well have come, so let’s see what Much Later Me has to say for myself!

<<<>>>

How old are you? – About an age of Middle Earth older than I was when I first saved these questions. So, almost 30.

What book are you reading? – As of this post’s drafting, I’m a few chapters into “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi, because I was feeling spontaneous at the library and wanted a random something to supplement my mostly YA reading diet.

What are you wearing? – My work shirt (faded denim blue), work pants (khaki), work shoes (black, non-slip), padded teal vest gifted by a fellow Majestic Hotel employee (for purposes of insulation against the arctic expedition that is the storeroom freezer). Also my red headphones, cuz music.

OTP? (One True Pairing; or the people you most want to see in a [usually romantic] relationship whether they are paired together in the book or not) – I’m more of a BROTP kinda gal; best friendship’s where it’s at for me. Sherlock Homes and John Watson. Robin Hood and Little John. More specific to my own spin on that legend, Will Scarlet and Allyn-a-Dale. But if it must be romance… it would probably be that one as-yet-unpublished character of mine and that other as-yet-unpublished character of my writer bestie’s, because non-canonical relationships between our respective creative properties is just how we roll.

Going outside being active or staying in and reading a book? – You are actually trying to get me to choose between walking the wonder-paths of Yosemite and engaging in a good story? Rude and wrong.

What is the last book you read?“Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves”, edited by Anna Angel. ‘Twas an anthology, so naturally I found some short stories better/more engaging than others. *shrug* I’d overall call it okay.

What is the book you’re going to read next? – Either “Violet and Claire” by Francesca Lia Block or “The Near Witch” by Victoria Schwab, since those are the other two library books I brought up with me from Fresno this week. Here’s hoping they’re both good!

Ebooks – yes or no? – 15 times out of 10, I’d rather have a paper book.

Where do you prefer to read? – Just about anywhere NOT COLD will do; the less background humanity noise, the better.

Who is the last person you tweeted? – Direct message? Tirzah Duncan. Otherwise, I think it was a reply to one of the folks behind Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids.

Whose blog did you look at last? – I have no memory of this. I’m so behind on all the blog posts stacked up in my inbox, I can’t even laugh. Odds are, though, that it’s between Paper Fury, The Pixie Chronicles, The Story Sponge, and Nothing By The Book.

Dark Pirate Lord
My look for dark throne occupation = decided, thanks to an afternoon at the Fresno Pirate Festival.

What do you do when someone tells you reading is boring? – Add them to the execution list for once I am become your Dark Lord.

Who is the last author you spoke to? – I actually talk to myself a lot… though not as much as it looks like! (The voices are frequently characters’.)

Who is your all-time favorite book character? – Um… *spins roulette wheel* … Cabeswater.

What is your preferred drink whilst reading? – Tea is my preferred drink, full stop.

If you hated reading, what would you be doing instead? – Living a completely different life. Perhaps under a different name, since actors are often known to change theirs. Catch me on the big screen, how ‘bout dat.

How many bookshelves / bookcases do you have? – Back at my parents’ house? My room had four. Fortunately (and not), that’s also where most of my books still remain. But once I’ve got my own place (as opposed to a Yosemite tent-cabin), book space will be a definite priority!

Insta-love: yes or no? – In the words Denebdeor’s young royals in “The Sun’s Rival”:

Sun's Rival Cover, front

“But what about you, Lar?” asked Ionquin. “You’re just the age for swooning in corridors and losing your eyesight to a fellow’s face over dinner. Have either of them caught your fancy yet?”

“Well…” Laraspur hedged. “It’s rather too early to say, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve only first heard of them a few hours ago.”

“What does that matter?” asked Liliavaine. “Do the words ‘love at first sight’ mean nothing to you?”

“It’s a very pretty phrase, but I don’t know how much it has to do with reality. I’m not saying one need take the Gladiolyn approach and dawdle over falling in love for a year or more. Still, I should think it would take more than just a day.”

“Well, what about a fortnight?” said Ionquin, for thus was the length of time agreed upon between the resident and visiting monarchs that the Welkens might stay on at Denebdeor’s castle before all parties involved reassessed the courtship’s progress.

“A fortnight seems a more reasonable amount of time,” said Laraspur, nodding.

Favorite author? – Maggie Stiefvater, yo.

What is the number-one book on your wishlist?“Vengeful” by V.E. Schwab. Its predecessor was so good. I want the sequel two years ago.

Do you prefer books with female or male protagonists? – I’m good reading either or both. It’s not who the story’s about, it’s how it’s told.

Which is your favorite book-to-film adaption? – The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. …Although, “Aladdin” first rose to prominence in “1001 Nights”, so now I don’t even know what to say.

What is the last song you listened to? – The finale from the musical “Waitress”. Just finished listening to the whole cast recording for the first time, actually, since it occurred to me that I’d only ever heard the abbreviated Sara Bareilles version. It all makes a gal wish she could just watch the full show onstage.

Which do you enjoy reading more – negative reviews or positive reviews? – Reviews with good use of punctuation.

Who are you going to tag? – Ohhh, this was a tagging game? I might have known. Well, I could play by those rules. Or I could cast my vote for anarchy (spoiler: We’re going with that) and decree that YOU can consider yourself tagged, and YOU can consider yourself tagged… EVERYONE can consider themselves tagged!

Answer all the questions on your own blog, or pick and choose a few to answer in this post’s comments.

Or intend to get around to answering someday, only to look up and realize it’s 2023. It’s all valid. X)

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How Far I’ll Go to Be a Part of a Whole New World of Disney Music Mania (You’re Welcome)

Once upon a time, I came across the following image on Twitter, in which some of the biggest titles (and a handful of the lesser-sung ones) in the Disney animated feature songbook go to head-to-head in a showdown of March-mad proportions.

Disney Songs, Head to Head

My immediate response:

Disney Songs, Head to Head 2

My follow-up response: This post, in which I will pit these famed and, in many cases, personally beloved songs against each other, pair by pair, until the last one standing reigns musically supreme! Because why even have a blog if I can’t occasionally detour deep into opinion pieces centered ‘round my childhood cartoons? (See “10 Lessons We Can Learn from “The Magic School Bus”)

So seat belts, everyone, for down memory lane we drive…

Round 1A

“Be Prepared” vs. “Hellfire”

Hmm… The former is more fun; the latter, more disturbing. It takes both to make a great villain song, and neither of these is my fave. But I’ll give this one to “Hellfire”, if for no other reason than it contains chants in Latin.

“Beauty and the Beast” vs. “A Whole New World”

NO FAIR! Both of these beautiful ballads fill me with joy! Bu-u-ut one is Aladdin’s duet, and I am nothing if not a sucker for Aladdin, so “A Whole New World” it is.

“Friends on the Other Side” vs. “What’s This?”

No contest for me. “Friends on the Other Side” is a bop of the fun and mildly disturbing variety. Plus it reminds me of the man. (What man?) The man with the power…

“Part of Your Word” vs. “Let It Go”

Though I can more strongly identify with the character of Elsa (and, quite frankly, should really learn to let some things go), Ariel’s ‘I want’ number plays my heart strings like only a true siren song can. (Gant-o’-the-Lute seconds the motion, and until the day I know how to out-vote him, that’s the end of that.)

“Bare Necessities” vs. “Hakuna Matata”

I have a longstanding mini-crush on the voice of Phil Harris, so Baloo’s philosophy-set-to-music takes the win.

“You’ll Be in My Heart” vs. “Baby Mine”

I mean, if it were just about making me cry, “Baby Mine” might have it in the bag. But based on which of the songs I bothered to load into my old off-off-off-brand mp3 player, it’s clear my preference lies with the Phil Collins original. (What is it with me and singing Phils?…)

“Kiss the Girl” vs. “I See the Light”

Sorry, Sebastian, but not only was your song not particularly romantic, it didn’t even produce the desired result (i.e., the girl getting kissed). Whereas Rapunzel and Flynn’s duet had romance in spades, and if you’re looking to “create da mood”, a world alight in floating lanterns is tough to beat.

“Go the Distance” vs. “How Far I’ll Go”

Toughie! I nurture some nostalgia for the Hercules number, after listening to it on replay during many a babysitting night. On the other hand… Lin-Manuel Miranda and Auli’i Cravalho. *dither, waffle, shillyshally*… Nostalgia tips the balance. I’m voting “Go the Distance”.

Disney Songs, Head to Head 1A
The winners so far…

 

Round 1B

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” vs. “Remember Me”

*guiltily searches “Remember Me” on YouTube, because has yet to see “Coco”, because fail* Hmm. I’m not especially in love with either song, just now, but only one of them comes without memories of having to sit through 3-to-4-hour dance recitals. (Baby Sister, were you in that particular dance? …I ask like you have ever once read my blog. <_<) So I guess I’ll hand this one to the latest Oscar ® winner.

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” vs. “Gaston”

No villain song (as in none; zero; not a one) embodies fun and disturbing like “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. I bow to Queen Ursula and her show-stopping solo. #Goals for days.

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” vs. “Dig a Little Deeper”

Let’s get down to business!

Need I say who’s won?

Only one song’s swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, and all the strength of a raging fire; mysterious as the dark side of the moo-oo-oon! It’s practically an anthem of my generation. (Plus, vocals by Donny Osmond!)

“Friend Like Me” vs. “You’re Welcome”

D’arrgh, I wanna give this one to Genie so bad (because ALADDIN! And Robin Williams, RIP). But Maui’s song is so fun and catchy, it hasn’t left my head since the first time I heard it. So what can I say, except…

“Heffalumps and Woozles” vs. “Pink Elephants on Parade”

Okay, first of all, what weird, pachyderm-hallucinating glue was Classic Disney sniffing? “Pink Elephants” was a bigger part of my childhood, so I’ll go with that, but ye gads all around.

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” vs. “Bella Notte”

Another toughie. Not to call out Sebastian again, but each of these is a better love song than “Kiss the Girl”. And “Bella Notte” is bella indeed, but methinks the “Lion King” number has more going for it – comedy… angst… that dual POV setup it seems I tend to favor… *awards victory to the lions*

“Why Should I Worry?” vs. “Eye to Eye”

*has also never seen “A Goofy Movie”, so back to YouTube* Oh, heck yes, groovy. Can’t get into anything “Oliver & Company” at all, including this sluggish, weirdly messy (albeit worry-free) song. “Eye to Eye” it is.

“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” vs. “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Sing it, Cinderelly. I salute your lovely voice and resilient optimism in the face of cruelty.

Disney Songs, Head to Head 1B
The second batch of songs still standing…

Round 2A

“Hellfire” vs. “A Whole New World”

Aladdin takes it in a landslide!

“Friends on the Other Side” vs. “Part of Your World”

Aw, mannn… I don’t wanna choose… But “Part of Your World” is just better music, so it gets the win.

“Bare Necessites” vs. “You’ll Be in My Heart”

Oh no! Phil vs. Phil! One song so pretty, the other so… completely opposed to my more Bagheera-esque personality. Even so, I’m going with Mowgli’s jungle jam over Tarzan’s.

“I See the Light” vs. “Go the Distance”

Giving it up for the love duet.

Disney Songs, Head to Head 2Ab
Only the strongest survive…

Round 2B

“Remember Me” vs. “Poor Unfortun—”

—ATE SOULS, YES, IT WINS.

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” vs. “You’re Welcome”

Do I need to start singing about the dark side of the moon again? We have our winner.

“Pink Elephants” vs. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

I’m certainly feeling little enough love for elephant nightmares. *more leonine victory*

“Eye to Eye” vs. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

While I enjoyed my just-now-first-time listen to “Eye to Eye”, I’m too much of a dreamer not to go with Cinderella’s song.

Disney Songs, Head to Head 2Bb
Another few bite the dust…

 

Round 3A

“A Whole New World” vs. “Part of Your World”

…Rude. The Aladdin love duet wins, of course, but how dare you.

“Bare Necessities” vs. “I See the Light”

Each makes a different part of my heart smile, so it’s a little bit apples vs. oranges for me, but… Another win for a love duet.

Round 3B

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” vs. “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”

…R.U.D.E. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” forever, but HOW DARE YOU.

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” vs. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

…Shoot. Okay, gotta remember, it’s not “CYFtLT” vs. this particular “ADiaWYHM” Disney channel stars remake, just song vs. song… Looks like the lions take it again.

Disney Songs, Head to Head 3
The final four…

 

Semifinals A

“A Whole New World” vs. “I See the Light”

No hesitation. No prisoners. My ultimate love duet* flies on a magic carpet of triumph.

*(I say “ultimate love duet” like I wouldn’t have to think twice were this song up against Odette and Derek’s in “The Swan [Non-Disney] Princess”.)

Semifinals B

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” vs.—

It don’t matter. Nothing left on that side of the chart can compete.

FINAL ROUND

Disney Songs, Head to Head Finals

And now for the cruelest Disney-song-related question I’ve ever typed.

Which is better:

“A Whole New World” … or “Poor Unfortunate Souls”?

I … *sobs* … have to award … *wails* … the win to … *sucks it up and belts it out*

POOR! UN! FOOORTUNATE SOOOOUUUULLLSSS!

Poor Unfortunate Souls

Not even the most beautiful, nostalgia-filled, crush-saturated love duet can overcome my tentacled inner sea diva witch. More than simply the best villain song of all time, this might just be the most satisfying song Disney ever gave me. For that, it wins it all.

Mic’s on you, fellow Disney fans! Where do you think I got it right, and which of my picks make you want to pound me over the head with your competing fave? Perhaps more importantly, which Disney song is your all-time number one? Holler it all in the comments!

Edit, Apr. 25/18: You guys, I finally saw “Coco”, and it was FANTASTIC. Brilliant. Stunning. It blew my mind and feelings all over the ceiling. 10/10 – strongly co-recommended by Will Scarlet (cuz humor and story) and Allyn-a-Dale (cuz the power of music and dead family). My pick for Best Song Ever still stands, but Best Pixar Movie Ever may have a new winner!

Moving and Stuff

First of all, let’s applaud the fact that today I am just saying no to my usual tendency to overthink blog post titles, since clearly this one was the product of 2.5 second’s thought at most. #FirstIdeaBestIdea

Now, onto the good news: By the end of the month, I will be in California, to live with my BFF!

Aaand the bad news: Most of my stuff will not be there with me.

I can check two bags on my flight. One of those bags must necessarily be my lute (because a wannabe minstrel never changes address without it). And I’m flying restricted economy, meaning there’s no room for a carryon bigger than a laptop case.

That leaves one suitcase of space for my worldly goods.

I am nonplussed.

“Now, now,” says the reasonable part of me. “Stuff is just stuff. Most of us can live with far less of it than we hoard. It’s people that matter.”

Quoth my less strictly reasonable side: “MY BOOKS ARE MY PEOPLE.”

Case Full of Books
Lol, these aren’t even my books. They’re just everything I borrowed from libraries in the last couple weeks, as if I’ve got time to read ‘em all. XD

Sure, I can get by on a fraction of my wardrobe. (Boots excluded! You better believe all my most awesome boots are coming with me.) The art on my walls can be grudgingly done without. Much of the miscellaneous junk accumulated over 29 years of life, I won’t miss.

But what about my personal library?? How can a place feel like home without my shelves upon shelves of novels! Short story collections! Tales behind the scenes of stage and screen! Not to mention the ridiculous number of books I’ve bought but haven’t gotten around to reading yet!

There’s no way I can take it all with me, just now. But how can I leave it behind?

“Speaking as someone who canonically escaped a world’s end with nothing but their lute,” says Allyn-a-Dale, with a sideways look for #BALLADofAaD, “you’ll live.”

“The lute, and the hat,” Will Scarlet adds. “And obviously Danielle will be taking her Allyn hat. And your Scarlet hat, too, right?”

Of course. Awesome hats are in the same category as awesome boots.

''Here I Am, New World'' mug
Maaaybe I’ll have space to take some of my “Outlaws”-inspired mugs with me?

“There you are, then! With lute, hats, and the ever-present voice of your loved ones in your head, you’re off through the air to meet your best friend in a world unknown. Congratulations on your dream come true: You are basically turning into Allyn-a-Dale.”

“Except with a mother who picked up a couple boxes to ship some of your books after you,” Allyn points out.

All true, I suppose. If you can be brave and minimalist, I can strive to do the same. And if my story’s anything like yours where most it matters, then it will be well worth it.

*

THIS JUST EDITED IN: I might not actually be going to live in the house I thought, but instead in… a gloriously gorgeous, naturally magical, so-near-and-yet-so-far-from-the-BFF national park??? Which is arguably even more comparable to the Isle of Avalon, so the metaphor stands; I just can’t even with how unpredictable my life is, anymore.

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…

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!

Villains of LEGEND

I love a good wicked villain! In that respect, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” is a treat-and-a-half for me, because it’s got not just one bad guy, but three. Since you’ve had a chance to meet most of the heroes in Books 1 and 2, how ‘bout we now take a sneak peek at the antagonists of Book 3?

Villain #1 – Lord Swanton, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire

Sheriff_of_Nottingham

Swanton in a single quote: “Something one learns in the position of Sheriff, Locksley: Somehow, the amount a person is able to give always totals less than what can be taken by force.”

Swanton in a scene:

Swanton swept through the door, his brow deeply furrowed and mouth set in a snarl. “Whiners!” he growled, slamming the door shut behind him. “Whiners, every one of them. Nothing but complaints, all day in and out!”

He stalked around the room like a wolf denied an opening to pounce, his voluminous dark robes swirling with every turn. “I am too hard on them, they say, these hedge-born curs. Hard! It is not I that is hard. I am not the law, only its enforcer — and if those under the law like it not, how am I to blame? Yet do they blame me. And I would care not a whit, if they would only do it silently!”

He threw himself down, grumbling, onto the cushion of his high-backed armchair. “Hard… I suppose snubbing the law would be less hard, would it not? Keeping their coppers for themselves instead of paying their taxes, feasting on ill-gotten meat, oh yes, that would be very easy. Nothing easier than utter anarchy! But we do not all have the luxury of turning our back on the law.”

“Is it a luxury, My Lord?” Allyn asked […]

“Indeed,” Swanton seethed quietly, gray eyes glinting. “A priest is bound by God’s law, a king by his own laws, those below by those given from above. We are not to break the rules, but work within them. …Creatively, if need be.

“To live outside of the law is a privilege that none have been granted, and yet will the lowest of men grasp for it. They scorn the governors placed over them, live by no code of conduct but that which they see fit to devise, and laugh behind the backs now bent beneath the double weight of having to deal with such vermin in addition to our own troubles! Time, funds, and effort which might have gone toward easing the burdens of the common folk, allotted instead to hunting down delinquents and meting out their due punishment. And then the whiners complain to me … only to speak praises of Robin Hood on their next breath!

An ill-placed goblet flew from its perch on an end table to crash into the wall opposite Swanton’s chair. … Swanton sat rigid, the nails of his clenched hands digging into his seat’s armrests, sweat beading on the brow over his wildly glittering eyes. “Play for me, Allyn,” he said hoarsely. “Sing.”

Why I love to hate him: Let’s just say… I can relate.

Villain #2: Sir Guy of Gisborne

Rowan Hood cover

Gisborne in a single quote: “The Sheriff cannot do the half of what I can. […] His tied hands cannot reach out and deal with outlaws as they must be dealt with if they are to be beaten: On their own, lawless terms. And so did he turn to me.”

Gisborne in a scene:

It was like looking at a demon. Tall and wiry, clad in black and darkest brown, with a horse head skin — long face and ears, mane and all — draped over him like an unholy masked helmet. His eyes were in shadow. His teeth, bared in grimace or grin, gleamed white […]

“You thought yourself safe, did you not? You thought I would not play your game. But you are not the only one willing to defy the law’s limits in the name of justice. And this is justice most complete.” The voice dripped with gloating malice. “The great Robin Hood, shot down with his own arrow. And though you will not live to feel it, yet will you hang.”

Straightening, he said, “Take him,” and two of his followers nearest at hand moved forward to obey. Then both startled back with a dual shout […] Robin’s body was gone from the tree […]

Alone of those left alive in the open, the horse-hooded man stood statue still. “Did anyone see that?” he asked.

A man at his side exclaimed, “Of course we saw—”

He got no further than that, the sword in his leader’s hand lashing out to cut him off at the neck.

“I ask again,” he said, voice sharp as bloody steel. “Did anyone see that?”

Why I love to hate him: This creeper gives my spirit chills!

Villain #3: …Well, that would be telling.

Gotta keep some surprises for the book, right? But here, we’ll throw in a scene with this reprobate thug:

“A fine day to you, Goodman Clank-and-Clang,” the man in the road said with a distracting smile. How very much like Will Scarlet his cousin could look, when his expression had mischief in store. “Making rather a lot of to-do about your passing, are you not?”

“’Tis to keep the outlaws away,” the driver said snappishly. “Stand aside, will you?”

Rather than comply, Robin tipped his head quizzically to one side. “Are outlaws truly as easily affrighted as all that? I should rather think they would come running from a mile away at what sounds enticingly like a king’s ransom in coins, clinking together.”

The driver grunted. “Only if a king’s captors are like to take payment in pots and kettles in need of a tinker’s repair. Not much worth robbing there, now is it?”

“Rob?” Robin repeated, as if such a thought had never entered his head. “Why, my good fellow, who’s come to rob you? I stand here only to collect the road’s toll.”

“Toll, is it? And how much is the toll?”

“That depends,” said Robin. “How much have you got?”

All this depravity and more, coming to you in 3 weeks! ^_^

Why I Wrote The Outlaws of Avalon

Ballad Cover, front 02

Why I wrote “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws 1) 

– Because it was my first NaNoWriMo, so I had to write something

– Because I saw Robin Hood at the Renaissance Faire, and I wanted to believe he was real

Robin Hood

– Because meeting Gant-o’-the-Lute made me mad for minstrels

– Because the world of Wilderhark wasn’t big enough for its own legacy

– Because I love an adventure with friends (even if the Merry Men and I didn’t know each other as friends just yet)

– Because unbeknownst to Allyn, he had a story that needed telling

– Because unbeknownst to me, I needed my Will Scarlet in my life

– Because I am a runaway to Sherwood

marriage-cover-final-front

Why I wrote “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws 2)

– Because outside his book world, Allyn continued to grow

– Because our mutual friend Tirzah refused to accept the sorry father/son relationship between Gant-o’the-Lute and Allyn lying down

– Because once I’d seen what their love could be, I had to find a way to get it on paper

Loving Father, Loving Son

– Because the classic story of Robin Hood’s minstrel is a favorite of mine

– Because, as Merlin said, “Legend does have a funny way of becoming prophecy”

– Because intending “Ballad” as a standalone didn’t mean I wouldn’t leap at the chance to spend another novel in Avalon Faire

– Because you knew Will Scarlet wouldn’t be content with just one Outside adventure

Legend cover 02, front

Why I wrote “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws 3)

– Because outside his book world, Will was growing, too

– Because unlike Allyn, when Will Scarlet grows, there are hella growing pains

– Because sometimes the struggle is so real, the character needs to get it worked out in book form to deal with it

– Because I, like Allyn, would do just about anything for our Will

– Because I’d been sitting on this really exciting detail from my Merry Men’s medieval lives, and this was my chance to milk it the best I know how

– Because unbeknownst to me, there was a line in Book 1 that pointed right to how Book 3 would end

– Because stories – like destiny – are a weird mix of our choices and the inevitable