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.)


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.


…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!

To Agree to Disagree? That is the Question

Once upon a scroll on Twitter, I came across the following question:

“What’s one thing you and your main character would vehemently disagree on?”

Now, obviously, I’ve got several dozen main characters to choose from. And contemplating overt self-insert characters like Annabelle Iole Gray from the “Inspired” novels and Moon’s Melody from “The Queen’s Lady” (part of “Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea” – newly released!) won’t get me very far, given our major overlap in nature. But surely, I thought, I could pick out a few Deshipley MCs with ideas quite contrary to mine.

And so I have. Let the conflict of opinions begin! (Featuring many an Avengers-related illustration, because ‘tis called for.)


Edgwyn Wyle (MC in “The Stone Kingdom”, “The Seventh Spell”) = Edgwyn and I have actually had a longstanding disagreement demonstrating a fundamental and perhaps irreconcilable difference in worldview. His opinion: It is perfectly okay to slurp one’s soup.

Maybe it’s just as well I never got the chance to marry him.

Avengers Gif_I Don't Like It

Gant-o’-the-Lute (MC in “The Song Caster”, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, “The Story’s End”) = As a virtuoso wandering bard and admittedly something of a superman, Lute believes himself to be the ideal toward which we lesser beings ought in futility to strive – including the author with supposed power of the pen over him. This attitude has caused any number of bitter clashes between us.

Avengers meme_Civil War

Shots were fired. Tears were shed. It’s all in the past now, but only because I guess we’ve mutually decided it’s not a debate worth reopening. Ever.

Mach Jenius (MC in “Out of My Head”) = Quoth our boy Mach:

“I am a brainstorm. And the number one rule of brainstorming? There is no such thing as a bad idea.”

Replied his rival muse:

“That rule,” Luc said through clenched teeth, “is a lie.”

And I’ve gotta side with Luc on this one. This reality I’ve written words in the hundred-thousands to escape is run (quite badly) on bad ideas. Sometimes I’ve dreamt up and thrown out as many as six impossibly bad ideas before breakfast. I understand where Mach is coming from: We often need to shuffle through a few bad ideas before the good ones make an appearance; that’s just the creative process. But to claim that all ideas are equally meritorious in their own way… No, darling Jenius, no.

Avengers Gif_No, Try Again

Abishan (main supporting cast member in “Inspired”, “Out of My Head”) = Not surprisingly, the jungle cat god thinks cats are the best animal. And I mean, I’m practically a cat myself, but dogs, foxes, and krakens are where it’s at, dude.

Avengers Gif_Black Panther Side-eye
Abishan @ me

Liliavaine (MC in “The Surrogate Sea”) = To watch this princess carry on, one would get the impression that it’s better to recklessly go after what you want than to be well-behaved and responsible and maybe not get people killed. Honestly, it’s not even so much that I disagree with that. I’m just too much of a socially anxious, people-pleasing good girl to run away in the night and become the Sea. Bigger disappointment me, really.

Avengers Gif_Black Widow Shrug

Raeve (MC in “A Morrow More”) = This short story heroine (first published in the “One More Day” anthology, re-pubbed in the 2nd edition of “Inspired” when both the 1st edition and the antho went out of print) seems to hold fast the belief that life is inherently worth living, by virtue of it being life. And I’m over here frequently wondering whether death mightn’t actually be the more attractive option. But to each their own.

Arthur Pendragon (MC in “The Once and Future Camelot” … coming sometime this year, if all goes to plan!) = This reanimated king of legend seems to hold fast the belief that people are valuable and worthy of love, by virtue of being people. Oh, sweet Arthur. Too good for this world – too pure. I can only wish to share your heart.

Avengers Gif_I Can't

Johnny Crow (MC in “Deathsong of the Deep”) = This exchange had me shaking my head even as I wrote it:

Molly’s eyes tightened at the corners. “You meant the sort of ridding in which a life is ended before it’s half begun?”

Crow shrugged the shoulder which wasn’t bearing a portion of his weight. “It’s an option.”

“It’s a violation.”

“Violation? Of what?”

“Of a person’s right to life.”

“Right?” Crow’s head tipped to a quizzical angle. “Living isn’t a right. It’s a privilege. If we live, it’s because we’ve been minimally fortunate, not because we /deserve/ to. If living were about deserving, nobody would live long.”

Yeah-yeah-yeah, I know I’ve just been saying that both life and people are bad ideas. And that last line of Crow’s… grr, he’s not wrong. I’m just… very much opposed to the idea that it’s only okay to kill humans who haven’t yet been born to become the humans who’ve actually done things arguably worthy of a death penalty (as opposed to having literally done nothing but exist somewhere they weren’t wanted). That is targeting the entirely wrong demographic, to my view. But this post isn’t about me trying to untangle all my feelings re: life and death, so let’s find another note on which to end.

Avengers Gif_Hulk Punch

Will Scarlet (MC in the “Outlaws of Avalon” series) = Red is the best color, full stop. Enough of anything is never enough. If something scares you, flirt with it. Why plan ahead when you can fly through life by the seat of your hose?

Avengers Gif_Tony Eye-roll

No and no and no.

Also, no.


How about you, fellow writers? Any big players in your body of work with whom you’ll never see eye to eye? And for you readers, an opposite question: Which characters have you encountered whose notions made you go, “YES. My thoughts EXACTLY”? Discuss in the comments!

Which INSPIRED Character Are YOU? (INSPIRED Days)

Who doesn’t love a personality quiz? ^o^

A) Boo to quizzes!

B) Yay, quiz!

If you chose A, this blog post isn’t for you, and I recommend you browse the Ever On Word archives for something better suited to your tastes. But if you chose B, then you are in luck, because some muse put it in my head to create a quiz based on my nearly-six-month-old novel and share it during “INSPIRED Days”!

Inspired Days Button

You can take the quiz via playbuzz.com, and/or right here on the blog. Which of the book’s main cast do you most resemble? Let’s find out!

1) The world is ending. What do you do?

– Run for my life

Try to save everyone


Make smart-aleck remarks

Activate my emergency escape plan

Over-dramatize the whole affair

2) Suppose I told you you’re more powerful than you know?

Inspired, Luc

– I know exactly how powerful I am

Suppose I told you you’re the one who has no idea?

I would strive to use all my power for good

Ah, but do I have the strength to use the power I have?

Hahaha, well, that’s not dangerous at all…

Um, could I get some specifics, Captain Cryptic?

Yves, cropped

3) Preferred mode of transportation?

– On foot

On wheels


Anything but flying


I have to leave the house? Uh, could somebody drive me?

4) Pick an animal:



– Cat



Gryphon, dragon, something epic like that

Abishan, cropped

5) Pick a leisure time activity:



– Eating


Meaningful conversation

Whatever my friends want to do is fine

Wilbur, cropped

6) How social are you?

I love being with people

– I want people when I want them. Otherwise, leave me alone

People? Ugh

I like to be on the fringes

I enjoy spending time with a special few

Imaginary friends preferred

7) Someone’s done you grievously wrong. What do you do?

Abandon them to their fate

Put the fear of God in their hearts

Try to understand the situation from their point of view

Suffer in silence

Express my anguish through my art

– Kill them

Uri, cropped

8) Who’s the boss of you?

I’ll follow any worthy leader

– Boss all you like, but don’t expect me to listen

I call the shots, whether you know it or not


My parents

The voices in my head


9) Who are you hoping this quiz will say you are?

– Abishan. He’s obviously superior

Lucianíel. What the muse wants, he gets

Inspired, Annabelle

Wilbur would be nice, but there are so many other wonderful people to choose from…

Well, it would be pretty lame if I picked all the Uri-est answers and didn’t get Uri, so… let’s not be lame

Whichever is truest

Truth, schmuth, give me one of the cool ones!


If you answered mostly gold = You are Lucianíel! A commanding muse with a love of creation, and an inspiration to us all. You not only have all the bright ideas, you’ve got the finesse to steer everyone toward the fulfillment of your goals. To work with you is a rewarding privilege. To work against you is… unadvisable.

If you answered mostly black = You are Abishan! A god among cats and a cat among mortals, everyone loves you, or they’re wrong. No one needs to remind you of your worth, though you’ll favor them if they do. Bonus points if they feed you.

If you answered mostly green = You are Wilbur! Everybody loves you because you love everybody. You’re caring, compassionate, and stand up for others. Just make sure you don’t forget to stand up for yourself sometimes, too, eh?

If you answered mostly red = You are Uri! Let people say whatever they want about you; whatever you say in reply is bound to be a better zinger. You’ve got plenty of ‘tude and the awesome points to back it up. Like it or leave it, world. Or, y’know what? Leave regardless.

If you answered mostly blue = You are Yves! Your quietness makes you easy to overlook, but anyone who truly sees you knows what a masterpiece you are. Stay on the outside if that’s where you feel most at home. Just don’t let it be because of fear. You’re stronger than that.

If you answered mostly purple = You are Annabelle! You can be a bit of a loony loose cannon, but aren’t all the best artists? You pour your whole self into your passion, perhaps to the neglect of things like, y’know, everyday life stuff. But hey, you can eat breakfast any time; right now, there are adventures to dream!

So, who’d you get? ^^ Share in the comments!

(Also, y’know, Goodreads giveaway, e-book sale for Kindle and Nook, more goodies coming on Thursday, yadda-yadda-yadda. Now tell me who you got!)

Ravens, Wrens, and Writing Desks (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 4)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Ravens, Wrens, and Writing Desks’!”


[The curtain rises on a jungle scene all wet and green, steam rising from the grasses below, water dripping from the broad leaves and vines of prop trees. Making their leisurely way through the fake underbrush are Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter – both carrying hiking gear, the latter dressed up in khaki shorts and a pith helmet.]

Will/Hatter [in an exaggeratedly bad Australian accent ]: Previously in our genre-hopping adventure, we’ve explored the idyllic bed and breakfasts of Hobbiton, New Zealand, and the rugged, dragon-ridden Lonely Mountain. Today, our travels bring us to the wilds of a primeval rainforest!

Allyn/Jack [slapping at biting insects ]: A rainforest even remotely on the way to the North Pole?

Will/Hatter: Sure, sure, all in good— Jiminy Crikey!

[Will comes to an abrupt halt, leaving Allyn behind him no time to do anything but crash into his back. Unbothered, Will points to some high spot beyond the audience’s view.]

Will/Hatter: Why, it’s a gold-crested, tiny-winy thingummy bird!

Allyn/Jack [peering upward ]: That’s a wren.

Will/Hatter: Right, same difference. Extremely rare, those! Next to never seen in these parts!

Either a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) or a Gold-Crested, Tiny-Winy Thingummy (Aviarus nosuchthingus). Hard to tell for sure.
Either a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) or a Gold-Crested, Tiny-Winy Thingummy (Aviarus nosuchthingus). Hard to tell for sure.

Allyn/Jack: Actually, their various species occur in a wide range of habitats, with many preferring Neotropical regions like this.

Will/Hatter [tossing an irritated look over his shoulder ]: Fancy yourself an expert, do you?

Allyn/Jack: I grew up in a forest. I’ve also spent a great deal of time getting dragged around by loons and cuckoos. [pointed look at will ] So yes, I’m familiar with several common birds.

Voice from Above: Common? Nothing common about me!

[With a flutter, Robin Hood drops down onto the stage, a golden circlet on his head, and wearing a great kilt made of feathers of every shape, size, color, and ornithological species of origin.]

Will/Hatter: Ha! What’d I tell you? Gold-crested, tiny-winy thingummy. Sometimes appears like a wren, sometimes takes the shape of a hooded robin. Native to Scotland.

Robin/Bird King: Nothing of the kind. [poses grandly ] I am Raasuii, the Bird King, god of every feathered creature, great and small.

Allyn/Jack: Shapeshifting animal gods? Hatter, do you realize how far off course you’ve led me? This is the jungle of the Abishan!

Will/Hatter: What, that genie you met in the Fairytale Forest during that other adventure of yours?

Robin/Bird King: Genie? Far more than that! The great Abishan is lord over all in this jungle, even his fellow immortals. There are none with more power than he! …Well, maybe one.

Will/Hatter: What one? Which one? Does it start with the letter “M”?

Robin/Bird King: No. Perhaps you will encounter her in your travels. This jungle is, after all, lately part of her domain. But now, it is best you departed this place. There are creatures here less likely than I to see you as anything more than a meal. Even I might be tempted to do you ill if you don’t offer me any incentive not to, hint, hint.

Allyn/Jack: Oh. An offering. Of course. [reaches back into knapsack and withdraws a small pastry ] Perhaps you’d like a snack pie. A number of birds enjoy apple, yes?

Will/Hatter: Mm, pie for dinner. And I’ll throw in a riddle for dessert! This one’s in your honor, your birdship: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Robin/Bird King: Why?

Will/Hatter: Why else?

Allyn/Jack: What??

Will/Hatter: Exactly. Come on, Jack! Things to go, places to see, people to do! Cheerio, Bird King!

[Will drags Allyn away, Allyn tossing the apple pie into Robin’s hands before vanishing offstage. Robin stands blinking at the audience in shock for a long beat of silence.]

Robin/Bird King: I don’t think that man is flying with a full wingspan.


“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘a wren’ and ‘apple pie’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

Of Cats and Other Godlike Entities (INSPIRED Days)

Inspired Days Button

It’s Week One of “INSPIRED Days”! – an approximate month of awesomeness celebrating my J. Taylor Publishing novel as it nears its 6-month semi-anniversary.

INSPIRED being a book absolutely all about the characters, I thought it only fitting that its main cast get in on the fun. So here’s our first guest post of the party, brought to you by the one and only everycat, Abishan! *applause, bows, cans of salmon offered in tribute*


I come from a world of many gods. In my jungle alone, there’s at least one for just about every kind of creature. Of these, naturally, I am the greatest, because I am cats. Not a cat. All cats. Every kind, large and small, their shapes mine to take at my whim. And as everyone familiar with the Internet surely knows, it is the cats, not the humans, who not-so-subtly run the world.

My most human form, as digitally painted by that Danielle person.
My most human form, as digitally painted by that Danielle person.

Accustomed as I am to being at the top of the food chain – literally and otherwise – it came as something of a shock to learn that there are, in fact, powers higher than me. Rulers of worlds that encompass my own. Mighty creators. Masters of fate.

Your Internet knows of them, too. We call them authors.

You might expect a creature of my divinity to resent finding myself thus outranked. And I’ll admit, there are moments when it rubs me wrong; specifically, when my author, Annabelle, shows signs of not having the first clue about what she’s doing. But it’s not all inconvenience. On the contrary, it can be quite pleasant to have someone with the charge of looking after you.

I am equipped to deal with the sort of threats that come with claws and talons, teeth and beaks, muscle, even venom, but worlds of imagination can come teeming with far stranger dangers than that. As my author, it’s Annabelle’s job to see I’m kept safe.

And fed. That’s very important.

Comfort and contentment, likewise important, and Annabelle’s made it her business to provide it all the best she can.

Is “the best she can” always perfect? Not nearly. But I try to be lenient with her. She may be something like a god, but she’s still little enough like a cat.


Thanks, Shan! Reader types who’d love to nab the novel featuring this divine kitty, remember there’s a giveaway on Goodreads with three paperbacks for the winning. Meanwhile, for the e-reading crowd, the novel’s e-version is on sale all month for a crazy-low 99 cents via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So for anyone who hasn’t gotten hold of a copy yet, the time is now!

Inspired Sale, Kindle and BN


**Coming up Monday**: An inspired little personality quiz… ;D

To Skin a Cat (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 10)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘To Skin a Cat’!”


[The curtain rises on the ol’ woodland set. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow paces back and forth among the prop trees, the flowerpot holding his enchanted mother, Wendy, cradled in his arms. A rustling in the artificial bushes behind him sends him whirling around into a martial art-esque stance. Fortunately, it’s only Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan.]

Allyn/Jack [visibly relaxing ]: Back at last. We were beginning to fear you’d been captured.

Will/Woodsman: Yeah, sorry. There was a wait at the Bawling Bagel tavern.

[The purple rose’s leaves flail while Marion Hood provides her voiceover work.]

Marion/Wendy: You stopped at a tavern??

Will/Woodsman: Stopped and started, babe, and every minute worth it. [holds up a paper sack with a smile of victory ] I got the stuff.

Allyn/Jack [dubious ]: Really? The skin of a shape-changer, a constellation on a starless night, and a true-minted Coin of the Realm, all stuffed into a sack?

Will/Woodsman: Well, no, not quite. More like lox and bagels and organic mint chocolate chip muffins.

Marion/Wendy [sarcastic ]: Same difference.

Will/Woodsman: A means to an end. Here, Jack, let’s swap. [replaces the flower pot in Allyn’s hands with the takeout sack ] I’ll take my skeptical rose wife, you take the lox.

Allyn/Jack: I’m not actually hungry.

Will/Woodsman: So much the better. More bagels for me, and the lox aren’t for you anyway. They’re a summoning agent.

Allyn/Jack [warily ]: And just what would you have me summon?

Will/Woodsman [grinning ]: What cat genie can’t resist a bite of fish?

Marion/Wendy [trembling with excitement ]: The Abishan.

Allyn/Jack: The abi-what?

Will/Woodsman: You’ll see in a moment. Call him hither, Jack. Do that “wild creature whisperer” thing you do.

[Still looking uncertain about the whole affair, Allyn pulls a handful of the smoked salmon out of the sack.]

Allyn/Jack: Abishan, whate’er you be,

Follow now my voice to me,

And take the gift I offer thee.

[On an overhead faux tree limb, a black leopard appears and proceeds to pounce on the spot of stage just inches from the toes of Allyn’s boots, much to Allyn’s pantomimed alarm. Incredibly enough, when the cat lands, it is no longer a leopard, but a man-cat creature as featured in Danielle E. Shipley’s recent novel, INSPIRED. /end plug ]

The Abishan: Mm, who could say no to a voice like that? To say nothing of the mouthwatering salmon. [stretches into a feline bow ] What do you wish of me, Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus?

Allyn/Jack: You know of my destiny?

The Abishan [around a mouthful of lox lifted from Allyn’s hand ]: Know of it? I was the first to make mention of it, back in Act 2. I knew one day it would be within my power to help you.

Allyn/Jack: Is it within your power to remove your skin?

The Abishan [pauses chewing ]: My whole skin?

Allyn/Jack: Um, I’m not sure. [turns to Will ] Did the magazine article specify?

Will/Woodsman: Nope, don’t believe it did.

Allyn/Jack: Ah, good. I expect there’s some wiggle room, then. [attention back on the cat man ] What skin are you willing to give?

The Abishan [tail curling side to side as he considers ]: I shall give you my Turkish Angora skin. It will mean the sacrifice of ever taking the shape of that particular breed again, but no great matter. I have many others.

Allyn/Jack: A generous gift, nonetheless. Thank you, Abishan. …Erm, how do we get the skin off you?

The Abishan [grimacing ]: Messily, I fear. You’ll want to lower the curtain for this part. And be warned that I shall most certainly claw you while you do it, and I’ll want an extra helping of salmon when the bloody business is done.

Allyn/Jack [going a bit pale green ]: I do believe this is a task for you, Woodsman. Mother, dear, how about you and I head to the Bawling Bagel? Mineral water’s on me.

Marion/Wendy: I’m for that! [waves a leaf ] Have fun, Peter!

Will/Woodsman [sighing as Allyn exits the stage with the flower pot ]: Oh, sure, leave the dad with all the dirty work. And people wonder why I wanted to never grow up.


“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘bawling’ and ‘bagel’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

The “Inspired” blog tour marches on! (Or Aprils on, by now.) Why, just look at what went down this past week:

Friday saw me interviewed on the JeanzBookReadNReview blog, talking writing, inspiration, favorite characters, and more!

Monday on the blog of Julie Antonovich Reece, I guest posted on my favorite type of hero. (Spoiler alert: Robin Hood’s name may come up. …I may also have used the term “spoiler” somewhat loosely.)

And Wednesday, I reminisce with The Parasite Guy on “Inspired”s fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

We’ve still got a few tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies…of which I now have pics! Check out the charms on these bookmarks, baby (photographed with tons of love in an effort to make up for any lack of skill)!

Inspired Bookmark, Abishan

One lucky winner’s bookmark will come with this sweet kitty – the great jungle god Abishan, portrayed here in housecat form.

Inspired Bookmark, Wilbur

Another’s bookmark will sport the figure of a chess set knight, a fitting representation of the chivalrous Sir Wilbur.

Inspired Bookmark, Uri

Our gal Uri may not be overly endowed with charm, but with this rockin’ little skateboard  attached, this bookmark couldn’t scream “Uri” louder if it had a set of lungs!

Inspired Bookmark, Yves

Finding the right charm for Yves took some doing, but I think those who know him will agree that this little bird in its pretty cage suits the boy quite well indeed.

Inspired Bookmark, Annabelle

I haven’t forgotten Annabelle! What better for a young lady of letters than a charm like a journal in which to scribe her beloved words? ^.^

And for Luc… oh, for our muse Lucianíel, I could scarcely believe my good fortune when I happened upon this little gem. Whichever muse inspired the making of this entirely perfect trinket, thank you! A dozen-dozen times, thank you!

Inspired Bookmark, Luc

Like I said, folks: This is a giveaway you don’t wanna forget to enter!

Psst. Just curious: Which of the bookmark charms are your favorites? ^^

Lions and Tigers and Ducks, Oh My (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 2)

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Lions and Tigers and Ducks, Oh My’!”


[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet in full Merry Men garb, moving stealthily across the stage before a dark forest backdrop, a mysterious bundle cradled in his arms.]

Will [stage-whispering ]: Previously in my first go at contriving the great-granddaddy of all fairytale mash-ups, a young mother’s theft from a heartless Beast’s garden resulted in her self-imposed exile in the cloudlands atop a giant beanstalk. We left the woman pursued by the Beast’s flying monkey horde. But before they could take her baby, she passed the child along to a benevolent soul known only as The Woodsman. [smiles with a tip of the hat at the audience ] That’s me. I’ve been charged with the responsibility of taking this baby to safety, and I mean to see it done. As it happens, I know just the safe house for this sweet little one. Let’s just hope I can get him there before—

[Even as Will speaks, an enormous black lion lunges from behind a prop tree with a menacing roar. Will startles back with a stifled oath.]

Will/Woodsman: Son of a— What’s a lion doing in these woods?! Wolves I’ve felled and witches I’ve dealt with, even once dodged a family of princes enchanted into a flock of evil ducks, but lions, now? Thank goodness The Woodsman always comes prepared!

[Settling the baby in one arm, Will reaches behind him with the other to unsheathe an oversized hatchet from its place at his back.]

Will/Woodsman: Stand down, vicious beast, or you’ll get it right between the eyes!

[The lion draws back with a whimper, spins in a circle, and by rotation’s end transforms into a dark-gray-skinned young man with a cat’s ears and tail.]

Magical Cat Creature [trembling ]: Please, do me no harm, for I intended you none. I only meant to frighten you off. I have social anxiety (often insultingly mistaken for cowardice, it irks me to say), and therefore much prefer to be alone, when at all possible.

Will/Woodsman [lowering his hatchet ]: Oh. An introvert, eh?

Magical Cat Creature [tail dancing gracefully ]: An Abishan. For this little skit’s purposes, consider me a genie of the woods.

Will/Woodsman: Nice! Do I get a wish or three?

Magical Cat Creature: Not you. The baby. He is a child of great destiny. And when the time is right, I shall grant him his heart’s deepest desire. Now, with haste depart from here! The awful Beast’s minions are never far. Though you won’t have to worry about the flock of evil duck princes anymore. [licks his lips ] They were delicious.

[Thus saying, Abishan spins again and, now in the form of a black tiger, exits the stage with a graceful bound.]

Will/Woodsman [continuing his narration ]: Knowing the Abishan’s words for truth, the handsome hero hurries on toward the safe house. [looks warmly at the baby in his arms ] Don’t worry, little cutie. I swear on my lifeblood you shall live to fulfill your destiny. …whatever that may prove to be.


“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘lions’ and ‘ducks.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

In Which You Meet Abishan (INSPIRED Countdown Q and A)

Oh my word, can you believe there’s less than a month to go until the release of my first novel with J. Taylor Publishing? Because believing it is coming a little bit hard, for me!

As a little warm-up to help get all of us into an INSPIRED mood, I decided to sit a few of the novel’s main characters down for a quickie Q&A in which we cover all the basic who, what where, when, and whys. To start, meet Abishan!


Who are you?

He swishes his tail in idle irritation. “If you don’t know, you can’t be local. Every creature in my territory recognizes me for what I am: Their sovereign god, the quintessence of cats.”

What one word do you think best describes you?

“‘Feline’. That covers all the basics; strength, elegance, dignity, all around superiority…”

Abishan Quote

Where do you feel most at home?

“In the sheltered shadows of a lush, green jungle. Or in a warm lap, when the whim strikes.”

When is your favorite moment in “Inspired”?

“Mm, I don’t know. I like it when I’m eating.”

Why do you want your story told?

“Why wouldn’t I? It’s about a cat god. That’s a good story.”



For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

INSPIRED (and Abishan) – coming March 17th!