Letters to Camelot: At First [G]Lance

Dear Lancelot,

I must apologize.

It was one thing for Allyn-a-Dale to form a certain impression of you during Books 1, 1.5, and 2 of the Outlaws of Avalon series. He was but a fellow character, with a character’s limited view. And for all his exceptional talents and abilities, soul-reading is not one. Of course he thought you were merely stuck-up.

CamelotQuotes_Lance_LowestofKnights

But I, as your author, ought to have sooner known better. Ought to have taken half-a-moment to scrutinize past your frigid exterior. Ought to have figured out sometime before the third novel I wrote you into that, oh, you weren’t an arrogant asshole, you just had autism.

Also, misery. You had a whole lot of that. (And they say you can’t take anything with you, when you die…)

CamelotQuotes_Lance_King'sChampion

Once I actually went looking inside your head, I found you unexpectedly appealing to write about. Sure, you still pulled some jerk moves; did some people wrong; were as far from perfect as anyone semi-universally agreed upon to have cuckolded his beloved king would have to be. But you’re more than your faults, and bigger than your blunders. And to  my mind, you deserved better than you got.

CamelotQuotes_Lance_BestofKnights

May the future renaissance of Camelot see the wrongs you’ve done (and done to you) made right.

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Lancelot = I don’t know what made me first think so, but now I can’t unthink it: Lance singing “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, ‘Once’) to Arthur would be just a little bit perfect.

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Edit: Sooner than soon, in one respect: The Barnes & Noble/Nook e-book edition is available for pre-order here! Buy now, receive the goods on October 25th! Kindle and print editions, still to come. Stay tuned!

Questions for Camelot

The facts are these: Ya gurl Deshipley is super tired and low on creative energy, right now. But I still wanted to find some way to sorta-kinda make good on Rule #4 of last week’s Sunshine Blogger Award tag.

sunshine-blogger-graphic

So rather than use up all my juice on coming up with interesting things to ask people, I took advantage of this little thing called ‘the internet’ (Will Scarlet told me about it; sounds pretty lit) and scared up this resource full of various getting-to-know-you questions. Now I just needed to find 11 people to do the answering.

Naturally, I turned to “The Once and Future Camelot” – which, lucky for us all, has enough point-of-view characters on cast to pair each one with a question at semi-random. Let’s see what our knights/squires, wizard, half-Fey, etc. had to say for themselves!

<<<>>>

1 = @ Galahad – What do you hope never changes?

The youth sniffs in grumpy disdain. “Most things under Heaven need to change, if you ask me. Which… you have. But,” he allows, glaring thoughtfully at the sky, “if I could see one thing unchanged forever – and if I may permit myself a single self-serving desire – I would hope that, even when we are both grown up and come fully into knighthood, I could yet retain Mordred at my side.” His lips do not quite smile, but they soften. “Sometimes he feels like the only thing that makes this too-unchanging world bearable.”

*

2 = @ Sir Lancelot – What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?

The answer comes sharp and hard, without hesitation. “Arthur deciding he wants me. Not everything that came of it was lucky. But that part was.”

*

3 = @ Queen Guinevere – What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

She hums in thought for a moment, then decides, “While the lack of preparation might render the material a bit disorganized, I could easily spend forty minutes lecturing on Fey culture. Though, a question-and-answer session would probably be better,” she adds, “so as to ensure I hit upon any points the audience most wants to learn. There’s no covering all I know in so short a time, after all; and even what I know may not cover the half of the Faerie world’s complexities.”

*

4 = @ Sir Bedivere – What kind of art do you enjoy most?

“That would be the art of— how does the book put it? Ah, yes.” His grin glints, dagger-like. “Making men squirm. Not to call myself a master of it, but yeah, I basically am.”

*

5 = @ Mordred – How do you relax after a hard day of work?

“A cool bath can wash away any number of hours of labor,” the boy replies, his low voice no less relaxing. “All the better if the bathing takes place in a lively brook, or a fountain, or a lake. I would sleep a whole night long on a lakebed, if I could,” he says, tone wistful. “How in the world did straw-filled pallets become the castle norm?”

*

6 = @ Morganne le Fey – Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

Her blink falls slow and rises slower over a midnight gaze. “I don’t know that one could say any of us have truly accomplished anything. In the smaller scheme of things, however, I would list those with the name Pendragon. My mother, who learned exclusive magic and rose to Queenship of all Faeriekind. My father, a nobody who rode a random stroke of luck all the way to a throne of his own. And my half-brother, who has held onto his heart even as he’s given it freely away, and thereby gained the hearts of legions in return.”

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

*

7 = @ Merlin – When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

“When people come to me, it’s usually for answers,” the magician says shortly. “When people leave me, it’s usually without answers. Maybe someday they’ll figure that out and stop wasting their time and mine.”

*

8 = @ Allyn-a-Dale – What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

“‘How are you?’” The minstrel strums a bitter chord upon his lute. “Rather,” he continues, plucked notes trickling behind him, “it’s annoying when strangers or acquaintances ask, because they’re not truly interested in knowing; won’t really hear any answer but ‘fine’. Yet it’s worse when those close to you ask, because they won’t take ‘fine’ for an answer. They know what you’ve suffered; they’ve read it or lived it with you in the third Outlaws of Avalon novel. But still they ask, as if words can contain what you feel.” He mutes his lute strings with a sigh. “It’s all of it pointless.”

*

9 = @ Sir Gawain – If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

“I expect,” he says pleasantly, “I would spend at least part of the extra time missing the need to sleep. It’s been my sole opportunity, thus far, to allow my mind any respite from active thought. A meditative state comes close, but even meditation is a mental act over which I maintain conscious control. Only unconscious can I experience life beyond the bounds of reason. This question supposes I would no longer require such. Still, a man may wish for that which he can live without.”

*

10 = @ King Arthur – What’s something you are self-conscious about?

“Truly? I don’t know if I will ever not feel self-conscious when someone kneels to me. Even when it’s just Avalon Faire patrons bowing for fun, pretending to believe I’m the king my surviving subjects really do think I am and/or will be.” His Majesty’s grimace is apologetic. “Everyone means well, but I find it, shall we say, emotionally challenging. …Excepting when Robin Hood does it,” he amends, chuckling. “He never takes a knee without a private wink to say he doesn’t believe I’m anything special. It’s a lie, but I need it, and he knows it, and that’s why we’re bros.”

*

And you haven’t yet been properly introduced, but our final question goes to…

11 = @ Clarissant of Listeneise – When do you feel truly “alive”?

“Never am I more acutely aware of how alive I am,” she says grimly, “than when someone I care for has died.”

(From a partial blog post away, Allyn murmurs, “Ah! A fitting answer to ‘How are you?’”)

<<<>>>

What think ye, readers, of Camelot’s answers? What would yours be? And who/what/where do you turn to when your creative energy runs dry? Tell all in the comments!

On Fictional Faves, Silliness and Song, and Potentially Grape-Related Skills

sunshine-blogger-graphicFor the second time within the same blue moon, I have been officially tagged by The Story Sponge – this time, for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

The rules are these:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you (thank you, Sponge!) and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them (already to-done above).
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post (to-doing and to-done, respectively).
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you (aka, the fun-to-the-11th-power part!).
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts. (Um… I may not know that many nonfictional people. We’ll have to come up with a creative workaround for this bit…)
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions. (Challenge accepted.)

Now, to satisfy a certain sponge’s curiosity!

<<<>>>

1 = What is one phenomenal book that you think more people should know about?

eli type mockup

Not counting the ones I wrote? I’m thinking we must need a bigger fandom for The Legend of Eli Monpress” by Rachel Aaron, because I need more fan art to ogle and possibly a movie/TV series to cringingly anticipate.

2 = Who is one of your favorite fictional characters and why?

Obviously, there are dozens of people I could name here, even if I left my own characters out of the mix. Rather than force myself to choose one here and now, allow me to direct you to a vintage Tumblr post of mine, displaying a short list of heroes, thieves, heroic thieves, and villains/antagonists I would gleefully be or be with for a day.

3 = What is a song that you really love at this moment?

Songs from A Secret Garden

Anytime “Papillon” by Secret Garden pops up on my Pandora, my heart just sighs and sinks into the beauty. The song may be named for a butterfly, but to my ear it is gliding swans and figure skating and snowflakes dancing down to melt into the green of a willow-and-waterweeds garden.

4 = If you could acquire one real-life skill overnight, what would it be? (like the ability to perform neurosurgery or play the accordion or balance a grape on your nose for extended periods of time)

I’m torn between the ability to fluently speak all of the secondary languages I’ve ineffectively studied over the years (Spanish, French, Italian, and for the love of tongues, German), and the power to play anything on the piano, like some Mozart-esque musical maniac.

…Actually, that’s just naming the same skill twice, for what is music but yet another language?

5 = If you could acquire one non-real-life skill overnight, what would it be? (like the ability to breathe underwater or control objects with your mind or balance a grape on your nose for extended periods of time)

TEL *claps* E *claps* POR *claps* TA *claps* TION. I have more places to be than I have time and energy to get there. It’s 2019. Where’s the accessible insta-travel for all? Or, at the very least, for ME?

6 = What book surprised you the most this year, and in what way? (It doesn’t have to be one that came out this year)

Robin-Benway-Far-from-the-Tree

I had not expected Far From the Tree” by Robin Benway to make me cry so much, yet there we were.

Also, I finally ended up reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, and hey, who knew the writing was actually so amusing? (Answer: The basically 3 out of every 4 people on the planet who’ve already reread the book 77 times, that’s who.)

7 = Would you rather be a superhero or his butler?

Fun fact: Being a butler is one of my low-key superpowers.

8 = What makes you laugh? (Besides reading this blog, because I already know I’m hilarious)

Me: “Hmm, what does make me laugh every time?”

Tirzah Duncan: “People falling down.”

Me: *laughs*

Make 'Em Laugh

(Disclaimer: I will not necessarily laugh at people genuinely and perhaps painfully falling down in real life! As a slapstick fictional device, though? Yes. Peak comedy.)

9 = What is something that you know is silly but you love it anyway?

Let’s just say the ‘90s produced a plethora of songs/albums just for kiddos, and my 30-year-old self is nostalgically fond of quite a few. (This answer brought to you: “Bananas in Pyjamas”, “Sesame Street”, “Barney the Dinosaur”, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, “The Little Mermaid” spin-offs, and more.)

10 = Which fictional character would you adopt in a heartbeat?

If I may cheat and name a twofer, I’d snatch up Tod and Copper from Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound”, because ‘heck yes!’ to having a pet fox, and ‘heck no!’ to their canonical life trajectory.

Fox and the Hound

11 = If money was no object, which book would you adapt either into a movie or into a Broadway musical?

OUTLAWS OF AVALON: THE MUSICAL”, pleeeeeease! (On Broadway, or animated by Disney, take your pick.) Or, y’know, I actually do have a trunked manuscript from a decade ago, entitled “Vampire: The Musical!”, which has been begging since conception to make it onto the stage or screen or radio, if I could only figure out how to get it there.

<<<>>>

As for a new set of 11 questions to ask and see answered… that sounds like a bit of fun for a future blog post. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, readers, if you’re just itching to give your own answers to the questions posed above, be ye not shy, but share in the comments!

Letters to Camelot: To She Whose Heart Remains Unguessed

Teen Guinevere
My reblog-with-commentary, as seen upon the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

Dear Guinevere,

I feel I owe you an apology.

When first I wrote of you, in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, I didn’t know the first thing about you. Not meaning you, the legendary queen of Camelot; most of the world knows a thing or two about her. I mean you, eternally alive in Avalon Faire. You, the character. You, the person. You, yourself.

In all honesty, I’m still not sure about how well I know you now.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_01

“Ballad” and “An Avalon Christmas Carol” showed me that you’re big on games. Watching you partake in the Faerie revels of your second novel appearance suggested to me that you were more at home among the Fey than in a castle. In Outlaws 3… erm, I’m honestly not remembering whether you had any page time in that one. I feel like I mentioned your horse…?

Well. The Outlaws series was never about you or yours.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_WhyArentWeRightInside

Then came the drafting and redrafting of #CamelotWIP, and with it, the need to uncover your role in the story – not merely what you did or didn’t do, but why. And in the process, and I made a discovery:

You are not a woman easily known. Not to me, nor to your Faire-mates and family, nor even to yourself.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_WhoseHeartRemainsUnguessed
From the bonus song at the end of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”.

I’ve had one friend accuse me of simply paying you too little attention, because that’s how my brain tries to default with female characters. And I can grumpily admit, while striving to do better, that this could play a part in the matter. But in all fairness, Your Majesty, you are a puzzle. A special blend of subtleties, contradictions, and secrets. If there’s one thing your long years in Avalon have taught you, it is inscrutability.

From what hidden cyphers I’ve been able to decode, though, it’s clear you’re a soul worth half-knowing: Thoughtful, resilient, and brave. Marion Hood knows your value as a friend; Gawain, in particular, as a queen; and Arthur… well, few know how to value individuals the way Arthur does.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_AnyStrengthThatNight

You’ll have seen stories portray you just about every which-way, over the centuries. I hope you’ll feel my own account does at least a part of you some kind of justice.

(You’ll have been waiting your whole life for justice, poor girl.)

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Guinevere =  Although “The Willow Maid” by Erutan is no perfect match for Her Majesty’s story, I would say it captures certain facets of the spirit – the softness, sadness, sharpness… and, not least, the soul of the Greenwood.

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Letters to Camelot: Where ‘Pure’ Meets ‘Problematic’

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_01

Dear Galahad,

I am so, so sorry.

Mostly, sorry for making you so much like me.

I don’t think I consciously modeled you after myself, any more than when I created Sheriff Swanton of Nottinghamshire for “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. And yet, you two – (we three) – and weirdly alike.

Your touch aversion = mine. Your unfairly high standards for humanity = mine. Your disinclination to offer forgiveness = yeah, we all three got hit with that one hard.

Camelot Dolls_Galahad x 2
Galahad, as seen in “Once and Future Fan Art

It’s a double shame, because fiction is all too eager to frame ‘religious’ characters as the bad guys. (Something about a shocking number of Christians and so-called Christians throughout history doing a really, really terrible job being the least bit Christ-like.) The minute you walk onto the page, young squire, there is guaranteed to be some reader somewhere who shuts you out, unwilling to see the best of you amid the… less than best of you.

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_02.2

You are far from being the villain in the story of Camelot I found. And yet, how much of the kingdom’s fall was the fault of villains, and how much the fault of its heroes?

I’m sorry that’s hurtful for you to know. But the good news is: Arthur.

If you’re seen as an example of Christianity gone wrong, I hope he’s recognized as Christianity gone right. Not by any means perfect. Not free of mistakes or poor choices. But undeniably and powerfully brimming with agape – God’s own love.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sorry you and I aren’t more like Arthur. Maybe by the time the Age of Camelot comes ‘round again, we’ll have figured out better.

I’m also sorry that, pie-in-the-sky assuming this novel generates a following, you’re gonna get shipped with Mordred. Yes, that’s what fandom is like. No, our shared asexuality (and your probable aromanticsm) will not save you. Apologies again.

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_03

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Galahad = “Stars” from Les Miserables (10th Anniversary Concert version), because ~Righteous Intensity-y-y~

(I guess he’d be singing it about his father, lol-cringe)

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

In Henrietta, Virginia

Once upon a short while ago, mah gurl alerted me to a certain contest.

Raven Recap Contest

The challenge: To summarize the fantastical events of all four books in The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater – (aka, one of my very favorite series in the known universe) – in 200 words or a 1-minute video.

The prize for three lucky winners, chosen by Maggie herself: An exclusive boxed set of The Raven Cycle, plus the contest’s organizers will share the winning entries on their social platforms.

Raven Cycle, Paper Fury Insta
Photo credit to @paperfury on Instagram

I did not initially think to enter, because condensing the plot of even one novel into a 200-word back-o’-book-esque blurb is struggle enough. (I should know. I’ve only had to do it more than a dozen times for my own books.) How in the world to do it for four???

So I put the notion aside. …And then I got dragged out of bed bright and early by my muse, journaled for about an hour, and wound up with a lovely contender of a poem on my hands, fondly entitled “In Henrietta, Virginia”.

Though I hadn’t the patience to count out the words in my handwritten scribbles*, I could tell at a glance that it totaled past 200. That meant that if I wanted my little labor of love to have a shot in the contest, I’d have to call upon my inner bard and recite the poem at sparkling speed.

*(Having subsequently typed it all out, the exact word-count comes to 271.)

Video, recorded. Entry, entered. Winners – as of this post’s drafting – unannounced.

Certainly, I hope to be among the lucky three deemed a cut above the rest by an idolized author! But even if I’m not, it will be something to suppose that she saw art I made in response to hers, and that it gave her joy. After all, were I the author in Maggie’s place, I’d be giddy over a fandom scrambling to put my beloved story into new words.

Non-Stiefvater readers of the blog, meanwhile, are also perfectly welcome to watch my video (linked here!), and/or read the poem at a less break-neck pace below.

In Henrietta, Virginia

A daughter of seers knows two things for truth.

The first she’s been warned of since earliest youth –

To kiss her true love is to kill. Next, her rule:

Avoid the boys from Aglionby school

in Henrietta, Virginia.

 

She knows no temptation until she knows them

So living, so deathly – a strange constellation:

 

A young man’s form holds an ancient soul

That yearns and journeys the world over,

Desperate to discover why

He lives this second chance at life.

He knows not the depth of his wealth, nor his power,

Only the call of the legend Glendower

in Henrietta, Virginia.

 

A son of a dream dreams a world of his own,

Full of cages to rage in ‘til he reclaims home.

A boy in the dust sells his hands and his eyes.

Could this bondage help free him from family ties?

 

A mantle of green seek a waren of grey.

A poet with blood on his hands finds the way,

Along with a love and a life that he craves,

in Henrietta, Virginia.

 

Their searches converse on a line o’ the ley,

The road of the corpses who walk in the day,

But too fast start to fade, become monstrous shades,

Like nightmares that out of thieves’ dreams claw their way

into Henrietta, Virginia,

 

Where you unearth a tomb, expecting one thing,

Only to find the mad light of a tree.

Where hornets are death, unlike robotic bees,

And all could soon fall to the Unmaker’s sting.

 

Ware the words of the forest, the song of the corvids,

You mirrors, magicians, and dreams:

The way you’ve made is the Raven King’s.

<<<>>>

Any other fans of The Raven Cycle (and/or other Stiefvater works) in the da house?! If yes, how well do you think my poem captured the soul of the series? If no, has this post made you at all curious to give the books a read? All thoughts welcome in the comments!

Life Hands You Blog Tags? Get Scarlet Aid!

What up, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And— you know how sometimes Danielle will be like, “Hey, there’s this fun-looking blog tag going around, and didn’t nobody officially tag me, but I’m strapped for blogging inspiration, so what-to-the-ever, I’mma play along regardless”? Well, plot twist alert, because this time, called upon by name she was to join in The Imaginary Assistant Tag!

The standard rule rundown:

1 = Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their blog (assistants won’t work for ungrateful bosses). Thanks and smooches to The Story Sponge for invoking D’s participation! She may or may not have jumped in anyway, but it feels pretty dandy to receive a virtually engraved invitation.

2 = Link back to the creator of the tag.The ones to thank here are Mariposa Aristeo and her own imaginary assistant, Aberdeen the Authorosaurus, over at Dino’s Digest. So grammercy, you two!

3 = Tag 5-10 bloggers who need assistants (and if they don’t need them, tag them anyway). As usual, we’re blanket tagging. So if you’re a blanket who wants to play—! Lol, I kid. If you’re anyone who wants to play – bedcovering or otherwise – then blog away.

Now comes the main course of the tag – the part that’s all, “Please answer the following questions so the author assistant agency can find the right assistant for you.” Buuut… I’m not gonna let Danielle do that. Because, my author, I love you, but if left to your own devices, you’d probably overthink this thing, when the obvious answer is standing right in front of you and looking very handsome in the process.

So please, allow me to demonstrate what an absolutely PERFECT imaginary assistant I would be!

What type of creature/species would you like your assistant to be (human, animal, dragon, dinosaur, figment of your imagination, etc.) and why?

I am, as it happens, 100% human, if somewhat Fey-affected. (A few decades on the Isle of Avalon will do that to a person … particularly if they brought you back to life there, immediately following your first of several deaths.) But to be at my most effective for you, I shouldn’t stay in your imagination. Free reign to run amok on your plane of reality, that’s what I need! …Wipe that look off your face; I wouldn’t get into that much trouble. Not instantly, anyway.

What do you want your assistant to look like?

Exactly what I do look like, thank you very much! If it ain’t broke, and all that. Medium tall and god-like physique, gleaming red-gold hair and dazzling blue eyes, a smile made for breaking and repairing hearts, and lots and lots of expensive clothes. We should actually probably hit up the mall, first thing upon my arrival. All very “If Will Scarlet Took Me Out”, ya dig?

What qualities are you looking for in an assistant (responsible, lovable, exasperating, etc.)?

Easy: I can do what you can’t. I’m an extravert unafraid of barging in on others’ conversations and laying on the charm. You could focus on just creating stuff, and I’d take care of the rest!

What job(s) would your assistant be in charge of?

Social media presence, promotion, interaction… also meal preparation, so you have no excuse to accidentally starve. Plus I’ll happily take the lead on all your research-related needs. Look-it-up Guy, at your service! Learning’s ten times more fun when you’re doing it through me.

What would you like your assistant to be named?

You’re fine calling me Will, right? And/or Scarlet? It’s what we’ve done for almost a decade, now, so.

What would you feed your assistant (candy, books, pickles, etc)?

You will not feed me anything. I will feed myself everything. That said, I will occasionally drag you out of the house to enjoy ice cream or boba tea with me, and you will like it.

How would you pay your assistant and what benefits would you offer as compensation for their work?

Oh, babe, do not even worry, I would make you so much money, you’d suspect me of thievery. (And, I mean, fair enough.) I’ll take just a big enough slice of the pie to, well, ensure I can keep buying pie. As for benefits, seeing you happy and successful is all my heart desires! Plus vacations to cool places. You’d have to take me along on those.

What special abilities would you like your assistant to have (i.e. ice powers to freeze writer’s block, super strength to break writer’s block, or super stupidity to stare at you while you’re having writer’s block)?

Special abilities? Girl, I’ll have you know I’m endowed with the super-est superpower of all: The power of FRIENDSHIP! Banishing loneliness with a single bound! Stimulating your wit and whimsy with my ‘Yes, And’ way of life! You can bounce your ideas off me like a trampoline, funniest feedback guaranteed! And if/when I catch you pushing yourself too hard, be assured I will force you to take a break before you pull a Hamilton.

Where would you like your assistant to be from (Jurassic Park, Narnia, your head)?

Oh, you know, here and there. Medieval England. A magical Midwestern U.S. Renaissance Faire. Your head, so arguably Fresno. Home is where you set your sword down, I always say, starting now.

Will you solemnly swear you will not fire your assistant in either sickness or in health, for richer for poorer, smarter or stupider, writing or not writing, for as long as you both shall live?

Darling, you could never fire me, because you’ll never have hired me. I don’t work for you; I just work, and it’s for you. Total difference. And even if you someday decide you’re done with being an author – for a while or forever – you’ll still be my author. My Dani-babe. Good luck ever shaking me off.

Scarlet and Me, Together Forever

So, any other authors/artists out there think they could use my matchless Scarlet brand of assistance? While I don’t expect I’d be available to every single one of you full-time, I’m never farther away than a quick message sent to Danielle via blog, website, Twitter, or whatever. Hit me up whenever you need to. Or, if you’ve got different ideas re: the imaginary assistant that would be right for you, tell all about it in the comments!

Until next time, beautiful people! Scarlet out.