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.

Once and Future Fan Art

The longer I live, the harder it is to find leisure-time activities that hit that sweet spot overlapping ‘productive’, ‘relaxing’, and ‘fun’.

Also hard to find: Fan art for a novel I’m still a couple months or so away from publishing.

Or so it was, until I followed my muse to AzaleasDolls.com and started playing around with virtual dolls designed to resemble my characters from “The Once and Future Camelot” (#CamelotWIP). And just like that, I had both a low-key pastime to appease my creative urges AND a growing collection of Arthurian portraiture!

So, who’s ready to meet some of the faces from Avalon Faire … and/or from the kingdom before?

<<<>>>

Camelot Dolls_Lance x 3

Name, Title: Sir Lancelot du Lac, King’s Champion of Camelot, Knight of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Strikingly tall and broad of shoulder; face hard as stone beneath his sweep of moonlight hair, silvery gold; advances and blows flowing one to another with the inexorable might of a waterfall. Gawain’s skill, though formidable, looked almost a beginner’s effort next to the ruthless grace of Sir Lancelot.

A Word on the Art: The image on the far left (made in ‘Warrior Maker’) probably has the clearest knightly vibe going for it, notwithstanding its being a bit reminiscent of a Roman centurion. The facial expression is spot on; 10/10 would absolutely see it on Lance’s face at one time or another. In the center is an early sketch effort of mine, produced circa the first-drafting of “Ballad” in late 2010. Not a bad likeness, considering I’d barely even known him or what he looked like. And on the far right, courtesy of ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’, we get Lance as a Jedi! Canonically, there is no reason for him to wield an actual lightsaber, but I think we can agree he’d look amazing doing it.

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Camelot Dolls_Gawain x 3

Name: Sir Gawain of Orkney, Knight of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Self-Described in #CamelotWIP:

Gawain didn’t want a seat that rolled around, and too much comfort verged on uncomfortable. His was a square, wooden seat, plain and sturdy, the arms wideset – more or less, Gawain expected, what he himself would be, were he a chair.

A Word on the Art: As with Lance, the far left image was made in somewhat limited ‘Warrior Maker’. The belt he wears holds special story significance; the shield’s just because. Center is a sketch I did at the same time – and on the same piece of paper – as Lancelot’s. In a world where art skews toward slimmer characters, I made it a point to attempt portrayal of Gawain’s huskier build. The far right image, meanwhile, was a gift from my BFF+, fellow writer Tirzah Duncan, during her ‘model a heck-ton of Guild Wars II avatars on Deshipley characters’ phase. Maybe it’s just because it came from her, but number 3 is my favorite. ^_^

Fun Bonus: Side-by-side (…-by-side-by-side) portraits of Gawain and his three younger brothers introduced in #CamelotWIP – Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth!

Simulated Orkneys 4

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Camelot Dolls_Bedivere x 3

Name, Title: Sir Bedivere the One-Handed, Captain of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Self-Described in #CamelotWIP:

“Ah.” The knight cut a canny look the king’s way. “So you like your current events like you like your history.”

“Yes, you could—”

“…Strong, dark, and hellishly hot,” Bedivere finished. “Or is that your coffee? No, it’s your captains.”

A Word on the Art: When it comes to depictions of Bedivere, inclusion of a sword is a must – whether it be a basic ‘Warrior Maker’ blade (far left), a mere hilt with the rest of the weapon implied (center sketch), or some sort of rune-engraved monstrosity of steel larger than its wielder (Guild Wars gift from Tirzah, far right). And as regards that third image, the answer is yes: Bedivere does look every bit that deadly hot on the battlefield.

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Camelot Dolls_Galahad x 2

Name: Galahad of Joyous Gard

First Introduced In: A #CamelotWIP debut!

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

“You’re like a hawk,” a low voice spoke. “The way your eyes move … The way they pierce. What do they search for?”

A Word on the Art: On the left (via Tirzah and Guild Wars), we see Galahad circa Camelot’s fall, at just about 18 years old. Piercing gaze? Check! On the right (via ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’), I’d say he’s more 14-ish – just a couple years into his training as a squire. Again, lightsaber technology would not be a thing. That sort of saintly-iconic light burst going on behind him, though… that, I would call, if not canonical, then certainly in keeping with his character.

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Camelot Dolls_Mordred x 2

Name: Mordred

First Introduced In: A #CamelotWIP debut!

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Though more than a year behind in age, he’d grown every inch as tall as Galahad, his form just as powerful, with the sinuous grace of a cat’s tail; his face caught between the softness of a child, the strength of a man, and the splendor of an angel.

A Word on the Art: Okay, show of hands: Am I only one who just wants to squish the boy’s softly-strong-and-splendid angel face?? Tirzhah’s Guild Wars version on the left did a passable job (the eyes, apart from being blue instead of gray, are basically flawless), though the ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’ adaptation on the right may have, surprisingly, hit even closer to the mark. And I mean, whatever – if Lance and Galahad have lightsabers now, Mordred may as well be a master of the Force. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Camelot Dolls_Guinevere x 3

Name, Title: Guinevere, Queen of Camelot

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Seen by Gawain in #CamelotWIP:

He thought of Guinevere in some half a dozen ways at any given moment. Her Majesty. His uncle’s wife. Something like a second sister, in the absence of his first. The legend-reputed adulteress. The lady of whom he was determined to believe no such thing. The girl plucked first from her father’s home, then from the wilds of the Fey realm, then from Camelot and into an alien place that shared its name but not the half of its soul. He saw them all, layer upon layer upon layer, as she walked the Faire’s streets, or lounged in the castle, or rolled a thunderous strike for the team when she and the knights ventured Outside for the new-formed tradition of Bowling Night.

A Word on the Art: After browsing the site’s options, I found a favorite for Guinevere in ‘Casual Style’. Even then, no single clothing combination could encompass her subtle layers of personality. Hence, a triptych of Outside!Guinevere fashion possibilities.

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Camelot Dolls_Vivienne x 2

Name, Title: Vivienne, Lady of the Lake

First Introduced In: She was made mention of in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, but we didn’t actually see her until the holiday dream sequence that was “An Avalon Christmas Carol” (Outlaws of Avalon #1.5).

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

A womanly vision of silver-limned gold, bright as the veiled glow of the moon. Amber skin beaded with water like stars. Ears tapering up like the tip of a dagger. … Eyes an ever-changing shade of silver-blue-green…

A Word on the Art: On the left, an indulgence in a ‘Casual Style’ interpretation of Vivienne. On the right, a far more canonically accurate version via, aptly enough, ‘Elven Portrait’. One thing I appreciated about that one = how I was able to do her ears. Rather than the dainty, pretty little ears traditionally attributed to Elven beauties, the ones seen here read as inarguably inhuman, and even suggest something mer-like, to my eye.

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Camelot Dolls_Morganne x 2

Name, Title: Morganne le Fey, Faerie Queen

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Living darkness, drawn in light.

(More detailed descriptions have been given elsewhere, but none could more succinctly capture her essence.)

A Word on the Art: Will Scarlet is of the opinion that ‘Casual Style’ Morganne looks ready to drop it like it’s hot in a music video. He is not wrong. ‘Elven Portrait’ Morganne, meawhile… given the limitations of the medium, that is practical perfection. Nothing but love and respect for my shadowy Faerie Queen.

*

And last for now, but far from the least…

Camelot Dolls_Arthur , Merlin

Names, Titles: Arthur Pendragon, The Once and Future King of Camelot, with Merlinus “Merlin” Ambrosius, King’s Wizard of Camelot

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

In some ways, it was like looking at Gawain a few years hence, for the King bore a strong resemblance to his eldest nephew. Just as truly, it was like looking at no other. The King’s smile creased gently around eyes the rich brown of good earth, and warmed Galahad all up and down. Never before had he received a smile like that.

…and…

Though his gray beard hung low and he leaned against the gnarled staff in his hand, the man did not appear at all frail. What could be discerned of his shape seemed strong beneath a strange robe, too elegantly styled for a holy man’s. And perhaps Camelot’s court made a collection of hawks, for the old man’s blue eyes pierced as sharply as any of Joyous Gard.

A Word on the Art: Central as they are to each other’s lives, it’s only fitting that I fashion a piece showing Arthur and Merlin together. Thanks, ‘Tudors Scene’, for enabling the endeavor! We’re off the Arthurian time period by a good 500 years, so definite liberties were taken with the wardrobe; but hey, no lightsabers, this time! Arthur looks too thin, and Merlin doesn’t look grumpy enough by half. Their relational dynamic, however, is coming across just about right.

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What think you, readers? Any favorites among the artworks presented here today? Any recommendations for free online character creators I might wanna play around with? Any super cool Arthuriana art out there that I should see so we can ooh and ahh together? Tell me about it in the comments!

Walking the Imaginary Walk, Part 2

Hello again, readers of the blog! It is I, Annabelle Iole Gray: Protagonist from the “Inspired” novels, author of various characters of my own, creator of The Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A! ® (“Oh, Yes – We Go There” TM), and of its newest subsection in which we explore how characters walk – and how we authors walk when letting aforesaid characters live through us. Last time, I assessed the walks of my jungle cat god and knight of the Order of the Dove. Let’s see if we have space to get through the rest of my fictional BFFs!

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Uri Shoot 04
Danielle as Annabelle as Uri

Character: Uriel, skater angel.

Punchiest Verb for Her Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): “All swagger, all day,” Uri drawls. “Unless the state of your fallen Earth is actively depressing me. Then my walk’s a slump.”

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): It actually kind of varies? Because she has this habit of letting her movements drag a little before spilling forward; like a musical rubato, made physical. So sometimes it’s head-first, sometimes shoulders or elbows, or even her backside if her delayed momentum spins her around. Wow, weirdly, I never consciously noticed before that this is a thing she does. Why do you, Uri?

A rolling shrug. “Cool apathy meets an authentic need to get somewhere eventually?”

Favored Tempo: Faster than she makes it look. That ‘cool apathy’ drag effect reads as slow, but you best believe she covers ground like she means it.

Other Signature Details: Hands in pockets (pants or hoodie vest) are very much her thing. Also, when walking as her, I will frequently find myself squeezing one arm against my side, as if I’m carrying her skateboard. And how she manages to exude slouching while actually walking fully upright is another heavenly mystery to me.

Uri crooks a smirk. “Heaven loves a paradox.”

*

Yves Shoot 02
Danielle as Annabelle as Yves

Character: Avelaine (aka Yves), French ballerina boy.

“Danseur,” he corrects me, because that’s what his father would do, and like muse, like son, apparently.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): “My verbs will depend,” says he, “on the effect I wish to create. Perhaps I glide, or drift, or softly step. My movement is my art, and can be no static thing. But if one must name a signature, imagine my walk is a whisper; full-body susurration.”

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): Most often, his toes will point ahead, daintily parting the air before him. I, not being any kind of dancer, probably look three kinds of ridiculous trying to imitate him, but whatever – it makes me feel all airy-graceful.

Favored Tempo: Slow as a wafting feather. If he needs to move quickly, he won’t get there by walking; he’ll leap or sprint or simply mind-travel himself across the distance. If he’s walking, it means he’s got time to make a moving sculpture of himself.

Other Signature Details: Avelaine’s really not one for straight lines. When walking as him, I’ll take more of a curving, meandering path, steps sweeping, hands stroking, painting the air with my passage. I’m also likelier to walk on tiptoe, as if one pace away from floating off into the sky.

Not that Avelaine can or wants to float. That’s much more the purview of the next guy on the list…

*

Luc Shoot 07
Danielle as Annabelle as Luc

Character: Lucianíel, elemental of light – also, my muse.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): Certainly ‘stride’. Sometimes even ‘sail’. Very ‘casual runway model’-esque, in any case.

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): I might say chin. Where Avelaine oft goes about with gaze cast down, watching his foot-sketches, Luc’s head is more up-tilted, pulling him onward.

Favored Tempo: “Utterly sluggish,” Luc says, “for one made of light. But at nearer my full speed, no one could keep pace. So for company’s sake, I slow.”

…To something like a normal person’s version of brisk. My body and its material limitations thank you.

Other Signature Details: As previously hinted, Luc floats – almost never coming within an inch of touching ground. But I’ve got a more standard relationship with gravity, so my version of Luc’s walk better  conveys the commanding weight of his personality. His walk is ownership, confidence, pride. The space he takes is his to manipulate. If all the world’s a stage, the muse is the director, and Lucianíel’s walk warmly claims it so. When I walk as Luc, I am insufferable. …but also sexy, if I do say so myself.

*

“Character!” a new voice bursts through me. “Mach Jenius! Brainstorm, bestest of best friends, brother from another plane of reality— Hey! How come there’s no picture of the Overauthor as you as me?!”

1, because Danielle called for the “Inspired” photoshoot a good while before dreaming up the sequel establishing you. 2, how in the world are we supposed to analyze your walk, Mach? You change physicality like I change shirts when I can’t decide which outfit best says ‘a trip to the bookstore, and maybe burgers after.

“Well, yeah, but surely you can work out some sort of pattern! Thinking cap time.” He plops a silk top hat upon what, for now, are close-clipped mahogany curls. “When you’re walking as me, what do you tend to do?”

I dunno. Sorta… throw myself around the room?

“Aha! As if hurled by a wind! Very brainstorm.”

More like hurled by your mad spastic energy.

“But ‘hurl’ is the verb, is the point. And which body part leads the way?”

I’m not sure. Expect plenty of exaggerated arm gestures, though. Entirely the wrong sort of china shop bull. You have broken things through me, Mach. Including, almost, my wrist.

“You had my profuse apologies for that incident, Anna-babe. What’s the next question, again?”

Favored temp—

“Oh, right! Fast!”

We know. Other signature details?

His top hat flaps its wings thoughtfully. (No, it did not have wings two seconds ago.) “Hard to say. Maybe my signature is that I have no signature. I just start moving, and see where I go.”

That you do. And what about your characters, Overauthor? How do they make you walk?

“Phew-boy,” says Danielle. “More like how don’t they? Will Scarlet’s is a heart- or hips-driven thrust – an expansive, pressing forward, in-love-with-the-world sort of walk. Allyn-a-Dale artfully creeps, slips like shadows, while Gant-o’-the-Lute… well, to quote ‘The Sky-Child’:

[He] never walked. He ran, he sprang, he cavorted, he danced; he was one place, then he was another, but he could not be bothered to /walk/ there.

“Sir Bedivere advances like a Winter Soldier. Edgwyn Wyle strolls like he’s shopping the world’s delights. I’ve got a sheriff that saunters seductively, and a dog-lover who bounces and romps, wobbles and wags. Nicky surges forward, then shrinks back, eager and unsure in equal measure. If ever I walked as Captain Johnny Crow – even in sneakers or slippers or sandals – I’d feel like I’m pacing a ship’s sea-salted deck in weathered but stylish boots.” She laughs incredulously. “It’s a wonder I’m ever caught walking as me!”

In that, by no coincidence, we are alike. And with that, this post comes to its end!

Writers in the house: Have you ever noticed – or put much creative thought into – how your characters move? Readers: Have you come across any characters whose manner of movement lives vividly on in your memory? Hop into the comments and tell all about it!

Walking the Imaginary Walk

Hey, guys! Annabelle Iole Gray, here – protagonist from the “Inspired” novels slash author of first, second, and what-feels-like-fifty-seventh drafts of my own books, thank you very much. And today I’m taking the mic on the Overauthor’s* blog to analyze a phenomenon I have not seen discussed nearly enough in writerly circles. …or, like, basically at all.

*(Overauthor. Noun. Definition 1, a cool title I just now coined to refer to an author of an author, e.g. a nonfictional person who has written/created a fictional character that is likewise a writer/creator of fictional characters. Definition 2, Danielle E. Shipley specifically. Definition 3, probably now what Danielle will want to call herself if she ever takes over as her reality’s Dark Lord.)

On the other hand, you’ve got theater circles. In that context, the following is only common: An actor takes on a role – I mean, really embodies it – and it’s not just about speaking the character’s scripted lines, it’s about becoming them head to toe and moving the way they do. …Or the actor just moves the way they always do and gives that signature physicality to the character because, I dunno, that’s what the director was looking for when they cast them, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about!

You see, as a certain stripe of author (do most authors not do this? Am I the weirdo, here? …as usual?), I too find myself moving differently when hosting various persons from the immaterial plane in my material body. Regular Annabelle walks one way while, say, Annabelle-as-Abishan walks another, and Annabelle-as-Lucianíel walks like something else entirely.

To help show you what I mean – since, y’know, I’m not on the same plane of reality as most of this blog’s readers, so you can’t just watch me demonstrate – I have created a little assessment sheet to communicate the character of walks. Consider it a subsection of The Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A! ® (“Oh, Yes – We Go There” TM). We’ll call this PART 3-AND-A-HALF: Walking the Walk.

(And for those of you who aren’t familiar with my close circle of fictional friends, I’ll include brief introductions for each as we go along.)

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Shan Shoot 01
Danielle as Annabelle as Abishan

Character: Abishan, jungle god of all cats.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): After a moment’s search through my head’s thesaurus, he decides upon, “Slink.”

An apt choice, Shan. Yours is a decidedly slinky manner of movement. It’s like every placement of your paw contains a purr. Except for when the verb is ‘stalk’; then the silent sound is a predator’s growl.

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): In any of his countless feline forms, Shan’s nose and whiskers blaze the trail. In his man form (and when moving via mine)… Huh. Interestingly, he likes to make my hands go first. Reaching out, touching things, claiming territory as he passes through it. Apart from that, he’s got a lot of languid hip action – the closest he can come, through me, to simulating the movement of his tail.

Favored Tempo: “Relaxed,” says Shan. “Bursts of speed are best reserved for a hunt’s final pounce or fleeing threats. Otherwise, why needlessly expend energy?”

So, a fairly standard cat-titude.

Shan wrinkles his face and calls out, “Luc! The puns have started!”

From a distance, Luc sighs. “It was only a matter of time.”

Other Signature Details: When walking as Abishan, my footfalls come softer than when I’m merely me. People (*cough* my sisters *cough*) have complained I’m sneaking up on them, when that was never my intent. I also spend the pauses peppered into his progress leaning and lounging on walls and furniture. …or practically rubbing against a bookcase.

“Because you love bookcases,” Shan points out. “They are your pleasure to own.”

Things that are not my pleasure = when you try to make me lick my hand.

His blink stands in for a shrug. “Agree to disagree on best hygienic practices.”

*

Wilbur Shoot 01
Danielle as Annabelle as Wilbur

Character: Sir Wilbur Lamb, Knight of the Order of the Dove.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): Wilbur eyes the options uncertainly. “Do I do other than simply walk?”

Hmm… We could maybe use ‘amble’? That’s defined as ‘an easy gait’ – specifically in reference to a horse, and one could argue you’re the nearest thing to a friendly warhorse we’ve got, around here.

That’s got him laughing. “Wilbur the Friendly Warhorse. I aspire to nothing more.”

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): A bit shoulder-steered, I’d say. His posture is cousin to a hunch – like he’s prepared to duck under a low doorway or bow in deference at any moment, or quietly bearing the invisible burdens of the populace. And if that doesn’t just describe the kind of person he is and life he leads, what even does?

Favored Tempo: “Composedly swift,” he says. “I like to keep just busy enough that it doesn’t serve to dawdle. Slower than that, and I begin to feel like an aimlessly wandering sheep.”

Other Signature Details: When walking as Wilbur, I will tend to place myself more carefully than I do as myself. I-as-Annabelle bump into basically everything as a matter of course, whereas Wilbur is a bull acutely conscious of the fact that he’s in a china shop, and if caution is enough to prevent it, not a single knickknack shall break on his watch. Also, walking as Wilbur always leaves me further back in line or waiting at crossing points, because his chivalrous instincts dictate that all others ought to move ahead of him. Low-key, I don’t often have the patience to walk as Wilbur in a crowd.

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…Whazat? Oh. The Overauthor has informed me that this post is maxing out on word-count. But let no one despair! We’ll get a look at my other character friends’ walks another time; like, probably next week, if nothing more pressing to blog about comes up in the meantime.

Before we go, I’m curious to know: How do you suppose one would best describe your walk? (Feel free to use my assessment questions as a template!) Do you ever get so into a character that you adopt their mannerisms? Chatter away in the comments!

“How’s the Writing Coming?”, Plus the REAL Questions

Once upon a FAQs page made 6 years ago (which is a surprisingly balanced combination of ‘totally outdated’ and ‘still relevant to this day’), the world inquired:

How’s your book going?

To which Past Me replied:

Which one? A few have crossed the divide into publishing territory, and I’ve always got something in [various stages of] the works. Everything seems to be going reasonably well, though – maybe even /unreasonably/ well, depending on who you ask and whether or not they believe I’m a cyborg. If you’re asking how book /sales/ are going, that depends. Have you bought them?

Back then, I basically was a cyborg. I was never not writing. I was cranking out books faster than even my steadiest fans could keep pace with. I was… very much setting myself up for the psycho-emotional meltdown that finally caught up with me around the end of The Wilderhark Tales.

(Like, is there a reason “The Story’s End” dwelt more on death and disillusionment than the fairy tales that preceded it? All signs point to yes.)

So fast-forward to nowadays, when anyone who knows I’m an author will still inevitably ask:

How’s the writing coming?

And, I just…

How's Your Book Doing_via Twitter

…never quite know how to answer that.

Because I haven’t really written anything new since – *checks “Record of Stories Read and Written” document* – February of 2018. Blog posts, sure. Tweets ‘n’ things. A fun song. I’m making words. And I’ve been editing old words into new published books.

But is any of that writing?

Not as I once knew it.

Better if anyone were to ask me:

What are you working on, these days?

That, I could answer.

I could point to my picture-book-in-progress with Hannah Vale.

I could recall that I need to wrap up the little chores standing between me and ordering my first proof copy of #CamelotWIP.

(Why am I dawdling so hard on that? Could it be a subconscious foot-dragging born of the knowledge that, once “Camelot” is out in the world, I’ll be retreating into an indefinite authorial hiatus? Am I hesitant to unbind myself from the shackles I’ve forged from social media and self-promotion and straining to make myself seen by an indifferent world? Do I fear freedom? … Or am I just really not looking forward to all the fiddly work it’ll take to make the cover print right? <_<)

The question nobody asks:

How’s your inner author life?

I’ve had no practice answering that one.

But were I to try, maybe I’d mention the evenings I spend in the company of my characters (and Tirzah’s), listening as they hash out their own lives, their feelings, their fears. It’s not writing – and it may never be writing, as far as these specific storylines are concerned. Not every character crisis can adapt itself into another Outlaws of Avalon novel or “Reality As We Know It”. But in its way, it’s contributing to my craft. It’s growing my empathy. It’s coaching me in character development. It’s generating the stuff of imagination from which all art is born. It is – I must remind myself – worthwhile.

Another answer, and one I could give with some relief: I’m having ideas again. Am brainstorming again. Am rediscovering that itch in my heart that can only be scratched with creation. Even believing in my plan to walk away from my public author persona, for a while, it means more than I can express to realize that my writer spirit is waking up from its coma.

Maybe calling it temporarily quits on trying to sell myself will make room for a creative renaissance.

Maybe I’ll remember how to cyborg and return to writing like the wind.

Or maybe that self is never one I’ll get back, but my new self and her art will have just as much value.

Once upon an author bio page made 8 years ago, you hypothetically asked:

Who does this ‘deshipley’ person think he/she is?!

She’s not so sure anymore.

But she’s curious to find out.