Of Music and Dragons and Other Such Magic

Hello. Allyn-a-Dale, here, because Danielle’s too tired to feel like talking but still wanted a blog post written, and we all know to whom this task in such cases fall.

That’s right: To her characters.

In fairness, though, I’m much of the reason behind this post in the first place. You see, she somewhat recently came across another blogger’s post centered around The Imagine Dragons Book Tag (to be explained shortly), and I happen to feel something of a soul connection to multiple Imagine Dragons songs, these days (to be explained or elsewise made evident following the eventual publication of #CamelotWIP). And so it is with less shady side-eye than usual that I take on today’s wordsmithery.

So, The Imagine Dragons Book Tag. The rules are fairly straightforward:

Link back to the tag’s creator (R’s Loft)

Thank the person who tagged you (We encountered the tag on the blog of The Story Sponge, and quoth she, “If you are reading this and you think it looks like fun, consider yourself tagged!” So tagged we are. Our thanks, Sponge!)

Answer the questions (a more-or-less simple matter of matching books to the titles and themes of songs by music group Imagine Dragons)

Tag as many or few people as you like!

As is tradition, all books or short stories used in this post will hail from the ever-expanding works of author Danielle E. Shipley. And because I am bound as a bard to bring music to the masses, be assured that I shall link to all the referenced songs for your listening pleasure. With that, onward we go!

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Gold A Book Where the Main Character Has a Curse (or gift that seems like one)

For stories built upon literal curses, what first comes to mind is the first of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Swan Prince”. The eponymous main character, Sigmund, is bespelled to spend his days as a human boy and his nights as a great gray swan – and by no means is he the only key player in the plot with a life complicated by a witch’s curse, for such is the everyday risk you run in the world around Wilderhark Forest.

Book Banner, Swan Prince

Windows and Sol, cover finished

Less literally, there’s Solwen, also known Balladry Sol, from Danielle’s latest Wilderhark world release, “Windows and Sol”, whose extraordinary affinity for music comes with the curse-like burden of social deviation – for girls, ‘tis said, are not meant to be minstrels. (I doubt that would have stopped Father deciding to raise me as one, had I been born a girl. But then, what use has Father ever had for people telling him things can’t be done?)

FrictionA Book You Resisted Reading Writing

Speaking of Father (which I do not do absolutely all the time, I’ll thank Will Scarlet to remember before he complains to the contrary), there was a certain resistance to the writing of Gant-o’-the-Lute’s origin story, “The Sky-Child”. Not that Danielle wasn’t interested in writing it; she was just more interested in writing other things first. (Mostly things centered around her character obsession of the time, Edgwyn Wyle.) Father was, shall we say, not pleased with the dawdling delay. (Never let it be supposed that the Luc vs. Annabelle standoff  in “Inspired” came from nowhere.)

Book Banner, Sky-Child 2

Cover w Text 06.3, front

And on the subject of “Inspired”, I might mention Annabelle’s notable reluctance to complete her novel’s “Phantom of the Opera”-esque short story, “The Manta and the Mask”. Though I myself cannot but be drawn to the story’s chilling artistry, to dance such darkness upon her laptop’s keys was the most emotionally challenging task Annabelle had yet faced as a writer. One might perhaps not have blamed her for abandoning the project; but bless her courage, she could not abandon its tragic hero.

Monster – A Book with a Negative Character Arc

Manifest Reality cover

Perhaps this calls for a reference to one of Danielle’s less-often-spoken-of published stories, “Sundown” from the “Manifest Reality” horror anthology. Though protagonist Claudia’s hellish descent down the road of vengeance isn’t one to be emulated, Danielle certainly found it satisfying to write. (As satisfying as it would have been to pull a Claudia on the world and its irritations? Possibly not. But life is compromise.)

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

And you’ll not have read it yet, for it has not yet been released (stay tuned), but the arc of a certain character in “The Once and Future Camelot” may or may not take a turn for the negative, when all’s said and sung. One never knows, with wizards.

Demons – A Book Where the Character Has a Secret

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

Well, there’s a broad question, for you. Characters with secrets make the fictional world go ‘round. See again: “The Swan Prince”, built upon the secrets of Sigmund and Sula. Or “The Once and Future Camelot”, where a certain knight has been sitting on a bomb of deceit that’s not far from detonation. Or, a chilling favorite, the bloody secret of Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, in “So Super Dead”. That one gave Danielle nightmares, when first she wrote it. ^_^

Hear Me A Book You Love That People Don’t Seem to Know About

Based on the sluggish activity on its GoFundMe page, not nearly enough people seem to know of picture-book-in-progress “The Princess and the Moon”. And that is a true pity, for it’s a darling story with endearing illustrations by artist Hannah Vale. If you loved reading of Laraspur and Lumónd in the “The Sun’s Rival”, or if you simply have a soft spot for sweet children’s stories brought to gorgeous life in watercolor, then this is a project to get behind.

Promo Sketch, w text 02

America A Book Set in Your State/Country

Again, “Inspired” would fit the bill. Most of it takes place in the area of St. Louis, Missouri – or in Annabelle’s head, which physically amounts to the same thing. Then there are my Outlaws of Avalon stories, largely taking place in and around the Faerie isle of Avalon – which, many would be surprised to learn, has been hiding out for some while in the American Midwest. And forget not “So Super Dead”, which, when not set on the moon, sees most of the action in Las Vegas, at the Hoover Dam, and in assorted nameless little towns in Wyoming.

Outlaws of Avalon covers, all 5

Whatever It Takes A Book Where the Main Character Won’t Give Up, Despite the Odds

Perhaps the most impossible odds were those in “The Seventh Spell”. You think magic gone wrong is trouble enough? Stir a tangle of time travel into the mix. Honestly, were it not for Father having been his usual miracle self in the midst of the mayhem, I don’t expect a happy ending would have had a prayer.

Book Banner, Seventh Spell 2

But for a more everyday sort of bravery, there’s none better than Balladry Sol. She is very much as the blurb describes her: ‘A girl with an ear for music and a heart determined to follow wherever it leads, no matter what forces of man – or of nature – stand against her.’

Song of the Soul Shepherdess, Verse 1
Hear a snippet of Balladry’s minstrel manifesto in this video

Walking the Wire A Book with a Hard-Won Romance

I could answer that. Or I could highlight a theme every bit as meaningful, yet severely underrated: Hard-Won Friendships. …Or, mayhap more accurately, Hard-Won Queerplatonic Relationships. (Feel free to look it up. One basic definition can be found here.)

Beyond Her Infinity

In “The Queen’s Lady” (from “Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea”), we had Moon Melody, determined to act as Morning Joy’s champion at any cost. I defy any fairytale prince to do better by his princess.

And “Reality As We Know It” (from “Our Hungering Hearts”), gave us Row, a lad too good for any world that housed him, and caregiving companion to the deeply troubled Heartsinger. If anyone can out-friend Moon Melody (not that it’s a competition, of course, but if it were…), it’s young Rowan Charles.

Thunder A Book That Rattled You

We’ve no idea, yet, if or when Danielle will get around to publishing it, but writing that one mega-manuscript’s Santa Claus murder scene strongly affected her.

Boomerang A Book You Keep Coming Back To

Well, it’s not every book that inspires her to revisit it as a picture book, so we’ll name “The Sun’s Rival” again.

Bad Liar A Book with an Unreliable Narrator

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

If we interpret that to mean narrators who purposely withhold information, the two that come to my mind are the librarian from “Date Due” (“Our Hungering Hearts”) and Morganne le Fey from “The Once and Future Camelot”. Each one thinks themselves so much the wiser than the rest of us, why trouble our heads with vital details too early in the game?

If, however, ‘unreliable’ is used to mean ‘narrators who aren’t trying to lie, they just don’t know the truth’, that’s more reminiscent of Rowena from “A Mind Prone to Wander” (“Our Hungering Hearts”). That poor soul could hardly tell the sky from the Clouded Sea, and she knew it.

Digital A Book with Lots of Tech/Computers/Video Games

I don’t know about ‘lots’, but “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” – (which, I’ve been told to remind you, is available for free here, through the end of the month) – introduced me to a minivan and a radio, all of it in a technological league well ahead of the fairytale world I’d lately left.

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And with that, we’ll call this round of The Imagine Dragons Book Tag complete. If you wish to play in your own webspace, consider yourself tagged, and feel free to share the link in the comments below, that Danielle might discover where your imagination (and/or dragons) took you.

Now for a minstrel bow – *hat sweeps low* – and a merry farewell.

~ Allyn-a-Dale

In Which I Battle Like a Bard

Once upon a time, I—

Will Scarlet: “Wait. What do you mean, ‘I’?”

Y’know. I. As in, ‘me, myself, and’.

Will: “But you opened this post with ‘once upon a time’. When you do that, you’re usually like, ‘an author did this or that, and stuff happened, and kingdoms rose and fell, yadda-yadda,’ before finally delivering the big reveal: ‘And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.’”

Allyn-a-Dale: “Wow, Will. Spoilers, much?”

Will Scarlet: “She does it EVERY TIME!”

Not this time! Because I am an unpredictable, plot-twisty wordsmaster, is why.

Now, again from the top: Once upon a time, I came across a Kickstarter / author call for an anthology titled “Sword and Sonnet”. The theme? Battle bards.

Sword and Sonnet

Allyn: “A promising premise indeed!”

Right? So I had me a little brainstorming session, and whipped up a short story featuring a noteworthy minstrel—

Will: “Ha! Noteworthy – like musical notes, right?”

Um, not intentionally. I just meant exceptional—

Allyn: “Like Father?”

No! Like Ballady Sol!

Will: “Cool! So, when does the antho come out?”

A while ago.

Will: “But… you didn’t hype the release at all…?”

Allyn: “Psst. Will. I don’t think her story was included in the book.”

To my disappointment, it was not. Not every excellent story will make every cut. I guess mine wasn’t what they were looking for.

Will: “Well, what the deuce were they looking for?!”

Search me. I haven’t yet read the “Sword and Sonnet” e-copy I received for backing the Kickstarter. Not because I’m bitter! – (*cough* at least, not entirely *cough*) – but because I am really bad about settling down to read non-paper books.

Allyn: “Alas for the world, deprived of your short fiction brilliance. However shall we carry on?”

Pretty sure you’re being at least 80% sarcastic, right now, but there is yet good news. Because you know how I roll, boys: When life hands me a ‘no’…

Will: “You make your own ‘yes’!”

When one publisher closes a door…

Allyn: “You open a window.”

10 segue points to House Gant. Behold the blurb and cover art for…

Windows and Sol: A Bard’s Beginning”!

Once upon a time, ‘wandering songster’ was no kind of career for a woman.

Now one minstrel-in-the-making is going to change Wilderhark’s tune.

From the author who introduced Wilderhark Tales’ Gant-o’-the-Lute and Outlaws of Avalon’s Allyn-a-Dale, a new voice rises into a brave ballad of its own: That of a girl with an ear for music and a heart determined to follow wherever it leads, no matter what forces of man – or of nature – stand against her.

“The Soul Shepherdess” – Young Solwen’s fateful encounter with a man o’ music and his sullen apprentice opens her eyes to the road she’s destined to take, along with the hardship that will be her traveling companion.

“In the Window” – Although Harper Rove-a-Day couldn’t feel less qualified to serve as minstrel master to his extraordinary trainee, he just may have what it takes to learn a lesson or two from /her/.

“The Names She Played” – To hear hidden music is not merely Solwen’s gift, but her only chance in a deadly game with one of the world’s oldest songs.

Tales of singing. Tales of striving. Most of all, tales of true love.

Windows and Sol, cover finished

Coming next week – and available for pre-order now!

Will: “Nice! So you’re re-releasing Balladry’s origin story from the Wilderhark Talettes and debuting the ‘battle bard’ short, all in one tidy package.”

Allyn: “E-book only, same as ‘Beyond Her Infinity’?”

Correct. ‘Tis more cost effective for me, that way. And since I’ve still got a picture book to fund…

Will: Hint, hint, blog readers! Any and all help would be most appreciated!”

…Wow, if I only had a dollar for every interruption in this blog post. Anyway, keeping costs down on my end means better bargains for the readers. Only 99 cents a copy, folks!

Allyn: “Best of luck wished to you and Balladry Sol on finding your rightful audience. They can be hard to reach, but they’re out there.”

And it is with that belief our author battles on.

(And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.)

(Will: “I KNEW IT!”)

Open Journal: In Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss

“Should I be doing this?”

Will Scarlet glanced over to the bed from whatever imaginary thing had his attention. “Doing what?”

Danielle sighed. “Reading this book. Listening to this music station. Wearing these particular layers of hooded garments. ‘Doing this.’”

“Why not?” Allyn-a-Dale wondered, half-concealed behind the sunny window seat’s framing curtain, wholly invisible to anyone who didn’t happen to hold him in their imagination. “What else would you be doing otherwise?”

“I don’t know. A million things. Fixing lunch. Taking a walk. Practicing my lute repertoire. Going through my latest draft of #CamelotWIP. Working on a blog post.”

Will’s vision went momentarily meta. “Well, that last one’s actually happening now. But it never really matters what you’re doing, does it, Dani-babe? You always feel you should be doing something else.”

“Two to five something elses,” Danielle corrected. “Too much to do, not enough time or energy or selves to see it done. What I need is a squad of Deshipley clones.”

Allyn’s lips twitched faintly upward. “So they could all moan over each hour as somehow wasted?”

Danielle snorted a laugh. “On rotation, yes.”

“No time is wasted in the pursuit of your bliss,” Will declared.

Dubious, Allyn asked, “Does she have a bliss?”

“Nobody has a bliss, Allyn,” Will said patiently. “Which is why it must be pursued. Now, Danielle, let’s approach this rationally, since I hear that’s a thing people do. Reading a YA novel from the library whilst smooth jazz plays: Does this spark joy?”

Does It Spark Joy

Danielle arched a brow at him. “Not sure the Marie Kondo tidying method translates to the organization of leisure time.”

“Sure it does! Or it should,” Will maintained. “Chores and day jobs aside, if you’re not having fun with a thing, why keep it up? This is your weekend. Your de-stress time.”

“But trying to de-stress is stressful,” Danielle fretted.

Will sighed voluminously. “Darling, I love you, but ugh.”

“One moment at a time, then,” said Allyn. “Danielle, what do you want to do? Not ‘today’, not ‘this afternoon’, not ‘with your life’; just right this moment.”

“This moment? I want… to review my German.”

“Really?” said Will, in honest surprise. “But you haven’t touched your German lessons on Duolingo since… well, since you switched to Italian, which you haven’t touched in ages, either. Why German? Why now?”

“I don’t know.” Danielle shrugged. “I miss it. Not just living in Germany, but reaching to internalize the language. …Not that I ever succeeded,” she brooded.

“There’s success, and there’s SUCCESS,” said Will.

Allyn asked, “Which is which?”

“Easy. The all-caps one is the version that comes with money and legacy and whatnot. Whereas little successes include taking baby steps to challenge or improve yourself or whatever. Example: When everything stresses you out, but you keep looking for different ways to cope and semi-enjoy your existence anyway.” His smile for Danielle was vividly fond. “That’s a little success you achieve on the regular. So go ahead and brush up on your German. And when that stops sparking your joy, go back to your book, or get lunch, or change into a super stylin’ outfit that no one outside will probably get to see. You’re in the driver’s seat. Pick a direction and punch it!” Will took a break from his non-stop pep talk to breathe and look hopeful. “Feeling inspired, yet?”

“…As opposed to merely caught up in a fictional conversation that could have come straight out of ‘Inspired’?” said Allyn.

“Yes and no,” said Danielle. “The struggle goes on, but I need these reminders. Like, frequently. So thank you for delivering this one in a way that met my nagging need to come up with a blog post.”

Will Scarlet winked. “It’s what we do, babe.”

Allyn smiled in agreement. “Call it our little success.”

Open Journal: Nocturne of the Soul

It used to be so easy, surfing that rush of creation.

Just write another novel. It would take her, what, a month?

 

That was before.

Before what?

Before.

 

She doesn’t even know what’s most to blame, anymore.

The burnout, that trauma, the crunch of adult life… what does it matter?

 

The result’s the same.

Her identity, sleeping.

She’s barely a writer, now.

 

But those magnets.

Two sets of two-hundred-plus.

Words at the ready, just waiting for something to say.

 

A spirit inside moves her outsides.

Allyn-a-Dale reaches with her hand.

 

They were bought for him, the magnets. Sets inspired

by music and Edgar another-Allan Poe.

Words to which the minstrel cannot but viscerally respond –

 

dark… dead… allegro…

lyrical… symphony… nevermore…

 

He plucks a sentence from the store, drawing it together, swift and sure,

as if he were Michelangelo and the phrase

a sculpture waiting in the stone.

 

Lovely, she thinks,

perhaps content to leave it.

But Allyn’s far from done.

 

Another sentence,

built more slowly, hunting

for the elements desired, feeling out

phonetic rhythm.

 

Words call as only song and the macabre can:

hole and soulstrange and shrouddawn and sky pull at his blood.

But there’s a story forming now in which these have no rightful place.

Another time. Another tale. Today, the song is his,

but played for her.

 

This is how you do it, he tells her

in his fingers’ silent dance.

This is how we breathe.

 

One word swapped, at a thought, for another.

One sentence shifted down, later lines taking its place.

The sculpture in full emerges from marble.

The artist steps back and shoves author forward

in time to ride the crest of the wave.

 

There! The rush. The writer’s high.

Only a breath of the air, but sweet as remembered.

 

Thank you, they tell each other,

and float together.

<<<>>>

Magnet Poetry_Nocturne of the Soul

string every unknown mystery

into some sweet opus

 

face your nocturne of the soul

by singing melancholy moonlight

 

howl down a haunting sonata

 

love softly

& live loud

 

maestro death

conducts his orchestra

 

but I know my power

A Melodic Memento Mori

Contrary to what any strangers wandering onto this blog post might assume, Ever On Word is not in fact a music magazine. But I’m gonna temporarily act like it is, in celebration of a grand occasion – namely, my outlaw minstrel is dropping an all-new song on his trilogy’s Facebook page today! If that doesn’t call for a special author-to-musician interview, what in the worlds does?

So everyone please join me in welcoming the face of the music industry, Allyn-a-Dale Gant!

zFaceoftheMusicIndustry05.2

Allyn: Simply had to reference that canonical music magazine in my third novel, did you?

DEShipley: Sorry, yep, didn’t have a choice. But let’s get right into it! This new song of yours. How did it come about?

Allyn: Quite differently than my usual, as it happens. Normally, my songs spring up as a natural part of the narrative in my books, or are at the least inspired by them or my relationships with the characters therein. The inspiration for this song was nothing like that. No story involved but this:

Tirzah was driving you to work. And where you go – à la Annabelle Iole Gray and her characters in the “Inspired” novels – any number of your fictional friends will follow. So I was there, as of course was Will Scarlet, and we all of us chanced to find ourselves behind a truck bearing a load of rolled-up carpets. Somebody mentioned the possibility of the carpets flying off the vehicle and impaling us. Will didn’t suppose anyone will have ever expired that way, to which Tirzah and I made an amusing, alternating reply. Something to the tune of, ‘Well, now, Will, surely someone has, once. After all…

Tirzah: There’s a whole lot of world.

Allyn: And a whole lot of carpet.

Tirzah: And a whole lot of people.

Allyn: Everybody dies.

And then and there, we recognized the potential for a song. Thank you, by the way, Danielle, for recording the words directly after, so we’d not have the opportunity to forget them.

DEShipley: Hey, I’m the scribe. It’s what I do. How long did it take you to build a full song around that improvised, spoken-word snippet?

Allyn: I don’t believe I put my mind to it until the following day, or the one after. But once I began actively searching out lyrics and melody, it only took you a few hours to catch up with me. Then a short while with you on your lute to work out the chords. Then most of the next morning to see it all recorded, and voila: ‘Everybody Dies’.

DEShipley: The making of this video was more involved than our typical recording process.

Allyn: Necessarily so. The full song is five verses; just under five minutes long. Your phone showed no interest in allowing a video of that length, so we broke it up into parts – one video per verse, plus the introduction. And you pieced them all together on your laptop. Not a bad bit of editing, considering your lack of skill and resources.

DEShipley: The same lack of skill and resources that stands between us and ever creating a full album of Allyn-a-Dale songs, just yet. I remain hopeful for some future day, though! This plane of reality would be the richer for it.

Allyn: It is already the richer for all you’ve done to share the songs we’ve found together. Every artwork of mine known to this world has you to thank, for only through your voice can I be heard so far from home.

DEShipley: Dang it, Allyn, you’re gonna make me squirm for joy. Speaking of joy, I can’t help but notice how uncharacteristically happy you look, during this song.

Allyn: I’m afraid that’s so. How can I but do? ‘Tis a jaunty song of death. Despite all it’s cost me, I’m quite fond of death.

DEShipley: ‘Everybody Dies’ has got a definite folksy feel to it. Very Johnny Cash, or some such. A stylistic departure from much of the music we’ve heard from you, to date – with the entertaining exception of ‘A Merry Traveling Song’ from your first book.

Allyn: True, my general aesthetic tends toward romantic melancholy. But every now and then, my father’s influence shows through, and out comes the sprightly, satirical wit.

DEShipley: The latter makes for a lot of rapid-fire lyrics to get through. You had my tongue in a twist during more than one take!

Allyn: And yet, you managed. Father selected you as his author for a reason. And that reason certainly wasn’t anything to do with the temperamental compatibility between you.

DEShipley: Lord, no. Well, that’s about all the time and space we’ve got today, if we wanna leave room to share the song’s lyrics. Thanks so much for dropping by, Allyn! And congratulations on yet another musical triumph.

Everybody Dies, still frame 02

“Everybody Dies” (Click here for the video!)

‘Twas a truck on the highway, so I’m told,

Carrying carpets in great, long rolls,

And the car behind thinks it’s going too slow,

So the driver speeds up, as he plans to go around.

 

Wasn’t quite tailgating, but near enough to,

So when the truck braked hard and the carpets flew,

The car’s windshield and driver took one through

Like a javelin’s thrust. Now the driver’s in the ground.

 

Sure, it might seem an unlikely end,

A short way out with surprising long odds,

But, blame it on we mortals or blame it on the gods,

I can say this much, my friend:

 

That there’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta carpets. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a fellow I knew, and no buffon.

Had a long life left; didn’t think he’d go soon.

But then, like a gag from a kid’s cartoon…

Well, you’d hardly believe it if I said.

 

There he was, just walking down the block,

When a snap from above made him stand still, stock.

Up he looked, and plummeting down like a rock,

A piano that landed on his head.

 

Now, it might seem an alarming end,

And so often played for laughs, perhaps too silly to be true,

Yet a man could pass for sillier, and many of them do.

I will say this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta baby grands. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a day not unlike yesterden.

Just an ordinary woman in a plain kitchen,

Prepping food for next day’s lunchbreak, when…

Well, you’d never guess the tragic farce to come.

 

Warming up a can of soup, adding spices from the rack.

Dash of salt, dash of peppercorn – she’s no hack,

But a sip of the soup’s enough to lay her on her back,

For she choked trying to get it in her tum.

 

Yes, it might seem quite the hapless end,

One mere problematic swallow parting body from soul,

But the smallest of mistakes can take the harshest toll.

I have seen this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta peppercorns. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a hockey game at the community rink

For a charity for breast cancer – (have your say in pink) –

So it’s really quite ironic, if you stop and think…

But there’s no good deed unpunished, so they say.

 

A thwack of a player’s stick ‘gainst the puck,

And the shot goes wild! There’s no one struck,

But the scoreboard’s hit. All sparks, no luck.

One inferno later, folks are in their graves.

 

True, it might seem like the worst of ends,

Death by icy immolation while they’re playing for the cure,

But however wrong and random, it’s taxes-sure.

I can vow this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta hockey pucks. Everybody dies.

*

‘Tis a possum in the yard, or a meteorite.

A trip upon a crack of pavement, or a small bug’s bite.

It was laughing too hard with your friends one night,

Or the loneliness of having none at all.

 

In the air, in the water, on fire, on earth,

From the moment we grace the stage at birth,

It’s anyone’s guess, whatever guessing’s worth,

How the final curtain’s gonna make its fall.

 

‘Cause there’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta drama, then everybody dies.

<<<>>>

Let Allyn know your thoughts on “Everybody Dies” in the comments! And if another of his songs are a favorite of yours – or if this new ditty reminds you of some other artist’s work you enjoy – by all means, make mention of that, too. ^o^

Broken Chords, Broken People, Broken Hearts

Greeting, patrons of the blog. Allyn-a-Dale, here. Recently, you had … let’s call it the “pleasure” … of watching Will Scarlet and me perform a skit summarizing our author’s latest life changes, because Danielle doesn’t like to talk about herself. Today, I will be discussing a book she read, because Danielle doesn’t like to write book reviews.

Why when Danielle doesn’t like a task, that task half the time ends up falling to her characters, I’m sure I couldn’t tell you.

In any case, it’s fitting enough that I be the one to review this particular book – because while Danielle found it engaging, ‘twas I the book thoroughly wrecked. First, the summary from Goodreads:

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

“A Thousand Perfect Notes” by C.G. Drews

A Thousand Perfect Notes 1

This book resonated with me deeply. Although my own father / minstrel master was not prone to the brutal rages demonstrated time and again by Beck’s mother (better known, the Maestro), I could empathize all too well with Beck’s near crippling fear. Fear of the Maestro’s painful disappointment. Fear of his failure to personify the prodigy he’s told he must be. Fear that he and his beloved little sister Joey could starve to death or be otherwise damaged beyond repair and the world will never care enough to help them.

Not that he wants to be rescued – far from it. What he wants is to find the strength to stand up for them himself. To keep them safe from all the Maestro’s harms. To bring his inner music to life in peace. But when your abuser and your family are one and the same, fighting back is doubly difficult to do.

His slowly grown friendship with schoolmate August was a spot of sunshine, to be sure. Her unflagging patience with the walls he put up between them and kindness toward boisterous Joey provide a much-needed contrast to the harsh treatment received at home. And small wonder, given August’s passion for looking after forsaken animals. Never fear, however, that this is a tale of a romance conquering all woes. Both Beck and author C.G. Drews know better than to believe in so simple a solution.

To be blunt, Beck’s plight broke my heart. I cringed and mourned from the very first page, and was driven ere long to weeping aloud at the cruelties he suffered. The intersection of music and parental terror cut far too close to home. My compassion goes out to any child – real or fictional – forced to live out ugliness made in the name of beauty. As for the grief-maddened Maestro, I felt for her heartaches, truly I did, but in no wise does the breaking of one’s own dream excuse the breaking of another’s spirit. Sympathetic evil is still evil, and I hope that none who come across it in their own lives will extend it tolerance.

However, for all its agonies, one of the thousand notes the book struck was one of humor. For readers who enjoy a narrative with its share of banter and snark, be gladdened, for you’ll find it here. For those looking for an all-too-realistic Cinderella retelling set in Australia, you’ll find that, too. And for those hoping to pick up a few insults in German, I can direct you to the Maestro.

A Thousand Perfect Notes 2

Well played, C.G. Drews. Both my author and I congratulate you on your debut novel, wish you well in your pursuits to come, and shall continue following the entertaining rambles on your blog, paperfury.com.

Have you read / do you plan to read “A Thousand Perfect Notes”? What’s your favorite Cinderella story? Why the paucity of Australian books? (Is it because the kangaroos eat them?) Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Until next time, good folk – *minstrel bow* – I bid thee fare well.

Mini Muses: Behind the Mystery

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head” (both newly available for preorder on Kindle, here and here!), were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Allyn-a-Dale, minstrel to Robin Hood’s Merry Men

As Featured In…: “The Story’s End” (The Wilderhark Tales, Book 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Yves / Avelaine, the boy who dances with death*

*(Which is… not actually how I’ve ever described him, but Allyn just slipped that in there on his own reconnaissance, and I mean, sure, that works)

Mini Muses_Allyn and Yves

How Do You Feel You and Avelaine Are Most Similar?: Allyn stares aesthetically into the distance. “I, too, dance with death… Rather, death’s shadow has loomed large over my life since before my first breath, so I’ve developed some psychoses around it. Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell. And we’re both small, which may not be hell’s fault, and speak with charming accents.”

Most Different?: “Avelaine dances, and harbors a fear of heights. I, canonically, am almost never seen dancing, and I mostly fear social situations, or my dearest loved ones dying violently before my eyes.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Literarily speaking, I best like the ‘Manta and the Mask’ short story embedded in Book 1. Otherwise, it’s this snippet from Book 2.”

“Dur-hur,” said Uri. “I suppose next you’ll tell me how when you were sixteen, you had to run a mile in full armor to meet the lances of your enemies, uphill both ways in the snow.”

Wilbur’s voice hinted at laughter. “Not ‘til I entered the knighthood at twenty, no. The uphill runs in the snow at sixteen were to chase down wayward sheep.”

“I was suffering child abuse,” Avelaine put in from a step behind them. “Uphill. Both ways.”

“’Twould seem Avelaine and I share a similar sense of humor.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “First off, I dislike choosing favorites, so how dare you. Second, I suppose I’ll say Wilbur, because he’s the nearest thing Avelaine has to his own personal Will Scarlet – in the ‘band brother’ sense, not the ‘high-key maniac’ one. You’ve developed another character for that…”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Allyn! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Allyn-a-Dale or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Books I’ve Read (and My Characters Recommend) in 2017

As of this post’s drafting, I’ve read* 73 books** this year.

*(or listened to on audio)

**(not counting shorts stories, or the bits of flash fiction I wrote myself, or the draft of Part 2 of #CamelotWIP, or the “Inspired” novels I’ve reread in editorial prep for their release next March…)

Do I remember all of them? No. Have I reviewed all of them? Hardly. Weren’t there a couple of other books I totally told myself I’d read but have yet to get around to? Why, yes. But ignoring all that, I still call this a win of a year for reading. And some of the people in my head got to benefit from the words I consumed as well.

Since I plan to give my life-in-upheaval a break by not blogging during December (apart from that one post I’mma schedule for the first), now’s the time if ever there was to do a recap post of sorts.

I’m not gonna do one, though. My characters are.

Please welcome Will Scarlet, Allyn-a-Dale, Loren McCaughley and Sir Bedivere (all of Outlaws of Avalon fame), and Edgwyn Wyle (from the Wilderhark Tales)! Which books would y’all like to spotlight?

Will Scarlet’s top pick = “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (Mackenzi Lee)

Character Rec'd - Will

“This was SUCH A ROMP, you guys! I wanted Danielle to grab it for me the moment I heard the premise – which she couldn’t actually do, since the book wasn’t even out yet at the time, but it showed up at the library eventually! Monty (the main character, yo) is just ENTIRELY ME. Y’know, if I’d been born in 18th-century England to an awful father, as opposed to 12th-century England to a father I have no memory of. So yeah. This book. My fave. Hands down.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Alloy of Law” / “Shadows of Self” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Also entirely me: Wayne. Y’know, if I were a cheerful kleptomaniac whose brilliant brain makes no sense. Which I am. So obviously I love him. He is the best. Also, Sanderson’s Mistborn books are just awesome. Amazing world-building. Plots like whoa. And did I mention Wayne. We’ve still gotta get our hands on the next book in the series, though, so NOBODY SPOIL IT.”

Allyn-a-Dale’s top pick = “The Hearts We Sold” (Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Character Rec'd - Allyn

“A girl made desperate from abuse sells her heart to an enigmatic demon, meaning she’s now under contract to battle interdimensional portals and the creatures that lurk within. #Relatable The love interest was nice. The narrative voice was casually decent. I liked the parts that hurt.”

Honorable mention(s) = “A Conjuring of Light” (V.E. Schwab) / “Strange the Dreamer” (Laini Taylor)

“More pain! ^o^ At least one of these made Danielle cry; I don’t recall whether the other did, too, or if she only ached. And sorry-not-sorry, but after everything she put me through in my last book, she owes me this means of catharsis.”

Loren McCaughley’s top pick = “Robin Hood” (J. Walker McSpadden)

Character Rec'd - Loren

“Speaking as someone who knows her way around a classic Robin Hood novel, I felt this version was particularly enjoyable. Like, up there with Howard Pyle’s; definitely more fun than Roger Lancelyn Green’s. (We’ll see how it stacks up against Henry Gilbert’s when we get there. Fingers crossed we start reading it on the plane when Danielle leaves for California!) If you’re a fellow Sherwood junkie, do it.”

Honorable mention(s) = “Remnants” (Stacy Xavier)

“Yeah, okay, this and ‘Ivanhoe’ were the titles that Danielle was going to read this month, but then… didn’t?? And both of them have Robin Hood in them, so I’m less than overjoyed at the holdup. But she’ll definitely make a point of reading ‘Remnants’ eventually, because it’s a Hood retelling, inspired by a Hood photo shoot she was in, written by a fellow Bristol Renaissance Faire cast member. In other words, how could she not?”

(Related note: There’s a giveaway for this book going on right now. Just sayin’.)

Sir Bedivere’s top pick = “The Fall of Arthur” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Character Rec'd - Bedivere

“Vexingly, the poem isn’t even finished, so the book’s padded out with the author’s son’s speculations and analyses and other stuff that is not the father of modern fantasy waxing lyrical on my king’s demise. Still, speaking for the Camelot demographic of Avalon Faire, if it’s relevant to the lives we lost, we’re reading it. And this was an interesting take on it all, if incomplete. It left my soul wanting, and isn’t that just what thinking on our fallen kingdom’s all about?”

Honorable mention(s) = “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion” (M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann)

“Yippee, more Camelot – this time in graphic novel form. Arthur was kind of worthless in this one, as were… wow, pretty much all the men, really. Sorry, damsels and dames, you deserved better. But the lion was on his A-game, the story was about on par for a medieval ballad, and the illustrations made things worthwhile.”

And speaking of Wyles: Edgwyn, take us home!

Edgwyn Wyle’s top pick = “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore” (Kelly Jones)

Character Rec'd - Edgwyn

“A Regency-era spy novel with a focus on fashion! As a tailor, I was very much drawn to main character Annis’s attention to one’s attire and its making. And then – (this is in the book’s blurb, right? It’s not spoiling to speak of it? Ah, good) – she discovers she has a magical sewing talent! Imagine my delight. ^_^ I was easily enough able to predict most of the plot twists, but it was good fluffy fun, for all that.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Danielle E. Shipley)

“This late in the year, Danielle’s mostly forgotten she released this novel back in early spring. But that’s in part why she keeps me around: To remember things for her. Thus do I recall this charming love story – a fine match for my fairytale heart. She’s never sure which book in the Outlaws trilogy to name as her favorite, but mine is without a doubt this one.”

Awwwww, thanks, Edg! And thanks to you all, for sharing your literary opinions.

How about YOU, readers? Which tales have filled your year, so far? What do you think you’ll read next? Discuss in the comments!

Truly Great Songs, and All That

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestMe: Outlaws 2.5 releases on Wednesday. I need something special to hype the book. But what?

Will Scarlet: I’ve got just the thing! Allyn, you know how our new flash fiction collection highlights 45 different archaic words?

Allyn-a-Dale: Yes…?

Will: Throw together a summary-song that includes every one of them.

Allyn: Wha— Now? Right off the top of my head?

Will: Just that! Can do?

Allyn: Well, I guess this is what Father trained me for. [takes up his lute] All right. Here goes… everything.

Truly Great Words (In Musical Summary)

With Weltschmerz, a tale of our Robin Hood’s woes,

While Simony minstrel philosophy shows.

Tautoosious tells us of two of a kind,

And Senocular means that you’ll six times less likely be blind.

*

In Ostent, a Scarlet autumnal display.

And Gant-o’-the-Lute sighs for days Cumber-free,

Then makes light of normalcy, Natural-ly.

And rather than Reverence, see Hood treat with kings his own way.

*

Though not what he’s used to, you’ll find Natheless

That Sir Gawain likes his queen’s version of chess.

Autological’s tale… well, it is what it is,

While Accismus fakes a concern with the lingerie biz.

*

Deja luDeja lu… Yes, that’s twice the word’s seen.

And next, Sagittipotent shows Robin’s quirk.

Barbigerous and Adoral are comparably themed,

But one’s semi-bromance; the other, not suited for work.

*

In Lumming, two lady friends dance down the sky,

Then one Coxcomb stays true to his legend’s brand.

And Rivelled’s the upside of wrinkles in plans.

As for freeing Scarlet from Durance, we do it – but why?

*

Sherwood Ecophobia? Nay, here dwells my heart,

Among Alderliefest friends ever I’ve had.

And not Tralatiously are these words said:

My Men are all music, and glad am I to play a part.

*

In Gapeseed and Fallow, we follow the Fey.

And where there’s a Countervail, there is a weigh

(Ludicropathatic as that pun may be).

And in Caeseious, see why a census makes no sense for me.

*

Will: THIS IS BRILLIANT! I wanna try!

Allyn: B-but you can’t—

Will: Can, and WILL!

Onto Erinaceous, which may miss the point.

And who needs the Ramage, with bards to throw shade?

To have Truck with us is to have your day made;

No Pandiculation, here! This is one happening joint!

*

Ne-moph-ilous or Nemo-phil-ous? Who knows?

Suffice to say forests are loved by the Hoods.

No place to Convive like the outlaw-filled woods!

…Now watch Allyn Bowdlerize my verses; that’s how it goes.

Allyn: Did I think that proper, I’d do it Amain.

Alas, though, I fear it would not be Condign.

In games of songmaking, the clear Boot is mine.

No need for your face to Incarnadine. Try it again.

*

Will: Well, as you’ll not Beshrew my tuneful Moiety

(A fact which, in truth, Obfuscate-s me like whoa),

I’ll Pore on how to best to end this melody.

…Mm, nope, you just take it. We want it to Fadge well, you know.

*

Allyn: Ultracrepdiarian, I see you’re not;

And thanks to your letting the expert be heard,

This well-nigh Montivigant song that we’ve got,

With its ups and its downs, has at last used the last of the words.

The End

Me [with wild applause]: Huzzah for my Merry Minstrel! …and for his plus-one. X) How could anyone say no to buying the e-book now?

Will: Priced at just 99 cents? They’d be mad not to. Pre-order today, people! If we move enough copies, maybe I can talk Allyn into writing a ‘Thanks for Making Our Author a Bestseller’ song.

Allyn [laughing]: Consider it promised. ^_^

Go Figur[in]e

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you something so, much, cooler!”

“What now?” groans Allyn, ever among the last to know.

“I’ll tell you ‘what now’. No, better: I’mma show it. Get a load of this!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures 02

“Oh!” Allyn brightens. “The figurines fashioned in our likeness, as gifted to our author by dear Chelsea de la Cruz.”

“Heck yes!” Will cheers. “I mean, it was awesome enough when she made the ones for the Wilderhark crowd—”

“As can be seen in the Wilderhark Art gallery on Danielle’s website,” Allyn inserts helpfully.

“Yeah, right, sure. But THEN – out of the blue – Christmas in September! Can we take a minute to analyze the perfection of these pieces? ‘Cause seriously.”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Will

“First of all, let’s talk about my hat. That is a fabulous hat – all red and feathered and vaguely sparkly. And then you’ve got the complimentary redness of my shirt and sorta raspberry-swirlness of my nod-to-hose. Dat belt, tho. And – best thing of all – the 100% symbolic heart of gold!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Chelsea chat

And then there’s my little ALLYN! ^o^

“Down, D,” says Will. “We’re telling it. Allyn-a-Dale, your assessment, please?”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Allyn

“Blue,” Allyn says happily. “A magnificent, marbled blue, like unto a windswept sky.”

“ ‘Like unto’?” Will repeats. “Isn’t that a little much?”

“You said we’re telling it, so let me tell it. Also of note, the cape. A fine, princely garment, that – particularly with its shining chain.”

“I’ll say,” Will agrees. “Mercy, when have you ever dressed up so fancy in real/fictional life, Allyn?”

“A rare occasion or two comes to mind.”

“Well, you look darling as all get-out. That FACE, man!”

“It’s all eyes.”

“Meaning Chelsea nailed it. Is she or is she not the absolute best friend of all time?”

“She certainly ranks in the upper echelons,” Allyn grants. “And we treasure the gift just as we do the giver.”

“Word. (#EverOnIt) Thanks again, Chelsea-babe! Likewise to all the blog readers who ogled these mini masterpieces with us. ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures 01