This is Only the Beginning

Everybody know what day it is?!

“Cover Reveal Day!” cries Will Scarlet.

No, that was actually two days ago.

“St. Patrick’s Day,” says Allyn-a-Dale.

The snakes of Ireland beware. But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

“All right, then – out with it,” says Will. “What’s the occasion this time?”

It’s the 2-year anniversary of my first published novel, INSPIRED!

Allyn’s brows fly upward. “Two years already! …Or ought I say, only two years? How time does race by at a crawl.”

True dat. Either way, this milestone calls for revels. So I’m providing goodies of two different sorts.

1) “Thoughts and Impressions” – an INSPIRED excerpt, as read by me

Because nothing jinxes my ability to get through a few paragraphs without blunders like trying to capture it on camera. XD But we got the video in the end. Click here to view!

Thoughts and Impressions

2) “This is only the beginning” – INSPIRED doodles, as sketched by me

Because I don’t take nearly enough time to draw self-fan-art, these days.

Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse
Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse
Annabelle detail
Annabelle detail
Abishan detail
Abishan detail
Yves detail
Yves detail
Knight detail
Knight detail
Light detail
Light detail

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

I feel a little bad that there’s no Uri representation in this piece. Then again, Annabelle and Wilbur were deprived of speaking parts in a video excerpt where everyone else got to talk. So, y’know, fair’s [un]fair.

Happy anniversary, dear novel o’ mine! May this day’s tribute inspire old readers to revisit your pages, and new readers to discover all the stories you have to tell.

Join the celebration! Share your INSPIRED thoughts and impressions in the comments!

The Face of Five

Happy (belated) blogiversary to me! September 1st of 2011 saw the very first Ever On Word blog post, and just look at what all’s happened since then: More than 4.5 hundred posts in the archives, blog hops and blog tours, hosting guests and being hosted, pics, gifs, Will Scarlet holding my Saturdays hostage… and, of course, intermittent hurrahs to do with whatever professional publication things are hitting the market. Case in point: Today I am elated to reveal the cover of the fifth book in my series of fairytale retelling novellas. Behold!

Sun's Rival Cover, front

Next to the uncommon beauty of her sisters, Princess Laraspur feels invisible, until she learns the two most powerful kings in the world have their eyes fixed upon her. But the ensuing double-courtship goes horribly awry, requiring Laraspur to brave the secret perils of earth, sea, and sky, on a quest that will try the very essence of her being.

<> ~ <> ~ <>

The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)

I cannot sing the praises of my cover artist loudly enough. Yana Naumova, you knock my socks off harder every time!

Since this cover-revealing anniversary has got me in a festive mood, here are five fun facts about Wilderhark Tale number five!

1) I actually drafted this book ahead of Book Four, because I had an inkling about where I wanted to take this chapter of the series, whereas Gant-o’-the-Lute had yet to divulge his plans for “The Song Caster”.

2) Unlike the other Wilderhark Tales to date, my main inspiration for “The Sun’s Rival” wasn’t a fairytale, but the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche.

3) This is the first Wilderhark Tale driven by sibling relationships, of both the positive and, erm, not to be imitated varieties.

4) It is really hard to compile these five facts for you, because so much of the cool stuff I want to tell you does not comply with the rules of my spoiler-free zone. So I just really need everyone to read this book upon release so we can discuss it freely, okay?

5) This young adult romance adventure is slated to share a book birthday with another publication of mine; J. Taylor Publishing’s “One More Day” anthology (featuring my short story, “A Morrow More”) launched on a December 2nd, too!

“The Sun’s Rival” is currently available to add to your Goodreads shelves (you can do so here. Anytime, now. At your leisure), and will be ready for purchase no later than the official release date of December 2, 2014. ‘Tween now and then, keep your eyes open for excerpts, bookmark giveaways, and any other awesomeness my brain may come up with at the last minute (like it does).

ALSO, I am currently seeking folks willing to give e-ARCs (advance reader copies) of the book an early read ‘n’ review! Qualifications are minimal: Just do your darnedest to read “Sun’s Rival” and post your honest opinion of it (on Goodreads, your blog/social media platform of choice, and Amazon/Barnes and Noble.com), preferably before or on the book’s release date. Interested parties may leave a request in the comments section below or shoot me a message via my contact page.

Thanks in the meantime to all the awesome people who are helping me share the face of “Sun’s Rival” all over the interwebs; you guys get all the Cyber Brownies of Gratitude. ^_^

So-o-o-o? What’s everybody think of the cover?! 8D

Character Casting Call (INSPIRED Days)

Inspired Days Button

It’s Week Three of “INSPIRED Days”! – an approximate month of awesomeness celebrating my J. Taylor Publishing novel, of which yesterday marked its 6-month semi-anniversary of publication! *huzzahs, hurrahs, sings a round or two of “For He’s It’s a Jolly Good Fellow Novel”*

In honor of the occasion, here’s a piece of flash fiction I whipped up a couple months back, all about one of the many ways a muse may assist his author in finding inspiration. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Next,” the voice like bells rang out from the doorway. O was on his feet in an instant. This is it, he thought, smoothing a hand over his hair and down his shirtfront. Don’t screw it up.

O walked in with all the confidence he could scrape together, then uneasily wondered whether they were looking for confidence. What if they wanted someone shy? The posting, written in lights in the ether, hadn’t specified. Confidence seemed the safest bet for first impressions, though, so he kept committed to that.

Inspired Mock Cover
My early vision for an INSPIRED cover, as created by me.

The dark girl seated at the desk smiled, and the glowing-bright man seated in the air beside her beckoned O further in. The door closed behind him – from all appearances, on its own power. “Hi-hi!” the girl chirped. “I’m Annabelle. This is my co-executive, Lucianíel. And you are?”

“O,” said O, shaking the girl’s hand. “Or, something with an ‘O’. Possibly multiple ‘O’s. That’s all I’ve got for sure.”

“Fair enough,” she said. She turned to her floating, glowing co-exec. “How do we feel about Orlando?”

“Donovan, I think,” Lucianíel’s voice rang again.

“Orlando Donovan, then. We’ll hold onto it for later.” Scribbling the name on a notepad with one hand and gesturing for O to sit with the other, Annabelle said, “So, O. Let’s chat. What do you know about yourself?”

“Well, I’m a guy.”

“A good starting point,” said Annabelle, her curly cloud of hair bobbing with her encouraging nod.

“And I’m a killer.”

Her brows rose. “Oh?”

He nodded. “I have to be. I mean, I have to kill. It’s a psychological need. If I don’t, I’ll, I dunno. Get sick. Go crazy. It’s in my twisted nature. Also, I have really arresting eyes.”

“I noticed,” she said. “What are they, blue?”

“I think so, yeah. Kinda flickers between that and gray, but I’m leaning toward blue. Or… do you think I could have eyes like a raven?” he asked hopefully.

Lucianíel tipped his head. “Are you a raven? Descended of ravens or tied to them in any way?”

“Shape-shifting raven?” Annabelle inquired.

O shook his head. “I didn’t mean literal raven’s eyes. Just their color. Y’know how the feathers are just so black they shimmer, like, purple and green and blue? It would be incredible to have eyes like that!”

“Hmm.” Annabelle chewed on the cap of her pen. “Amazing eyes do not in themselves an amazing character make. The psychological need to kill is something, I suppose, but even that on its own is a little… so-so.”

Why do you need to kill?” Lucianíel probed, his own incredible eyes on O intent. “Whence came this vital need?”

O shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I’m really not sure. It’s something in my makeup. In my blood.”

“So this is not unique to you? There are more of your kind?”

“Sure. Or there were.” O shrugged. “I dunno. I might be the last, or separated from them. I feel separated,” he realized, of a sudden. “Isolated. I might not even know what I am, and that there are more like me. I feel like the only one.”

“Aww,” Annabelle said, absently sympathetic. A good half of her attention was on the fat little paperback in her hands, its pages well-worn and flipping with familiar ease beneath her fingers. “Dominic… Donahue… Here we are: Donovan. Celtic, Irish. Strong fighter, dark chieftain.” She turned wide, eager eyes on Lucianíel. “That could apply to a race of raven people quite well! A noble family name. Maybe he’s a long-lost prince!”

“Perhaps crows instead of ravens,” Lucianíel suggested. “Murder, and all.”

“A murder of crows – brilliant!” Annabelle cried. “Yes, yes, yes! You, young Donovan,” she said, stabbing a finger across the desk, “are a prince among crows! There was a conspiracy—”

That would be the ravens,” said Lucianíel.

“Say what?”

“A conspiracy of ravens.” He smiled. “Or an unkindness.”

“Ah, I see. Well, shoot, we’re rolling in awesome titling options, aren’t we?”

“Less awesome than obvious. But they’re as good a starting place as any.”

“In any case,” Annabelle continued, returning to O. “Conspiracy. Somebody wanted you gone, probably so they could cut ahead in line to the throne. That they didn’t just kill you shows it was one of the ravens.” She steepled her fingers, eyes gleaming in the glow of a plot unfolding. “A crow would have murdered you, but for one of the Unkindness, death would be too kind. They snatched you from your people and left you to grow up alone in a world not your own, desperate for the death of others without knowing why; a freak and a monster; friendless.”

O chewed down on his cheeks’ insides, trying to stem the flood of painful heat rising behind his eyes. As she said it, it was true. He wanted friends – of course he did – but how could he ask friendship, ask trust, of someone when he might kill them, or someone they cared about? It was bad enough that he cared. Each and every time. A crow prince raised with the morals of a gentler race. Every day was a battle of nature versus conscience, and he could not let conscience win. It would destroy him.

A tissue appeared before him. “It’s okay,” said Annabelle, gently. “Let it out.”

Taking the proffered tissue, he wept freely, embarrassed but unafraid. He sensed their compassion, the girl and the glowing man. Whatever happened today, however this ended, he had their understanding.

“I think we can work with you,” she said, when O’s sobs had softened to sniffles. “More than that: I would like to work with you, O. How would you feel about getting a story?”

“Please,” he said, a smile braving its way back onto his face. “I’ve been trying to apply for one for ages. You’re the first author who’s seemed to notice I exist.”

“And the last author you’ll ever need to petition,” said Annabelle, smiling wide in return. “You’re mine. Feel free to go hang out, for now. If you need anything, there’ll be other characters to show you around. Luc and I will be in touch when we’ve got more of a game plan for you. Sound good?”

“Excellent. Thanks,” said O, going in for the closing handshake. “I appreciate it.”

“The pleasure is ours,” Lucianíel said warmly. “Next,” he called, the first door swinging open in tandem with a second – the door through which O made his way out into the vastness of his new author’s mind.

“Hi,” he heard her greet the applicant behind him. “Sorry we kept you waiting. People were crying. So. A dragon master, huh? Tell me what that’s like.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for reading! If you’d love to nab the novel chronicling the start of Luc and Annabelle’s partnership, 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 Thursday**: A guest post from INSPIRED’s Uri on reconciling her worldview with the surprise revelation that she’s fictional.

Scarlet’s Swan Song

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

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to a very special 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. Now…” Allyn turns to Will, eyes narrowed. “Why is today’s skit ‘a very special ’ one?”

“Because,” says Will, “today marks the 1-year anniversary of Danielle’s Wilderhark Tales debut, ‘The Swan Prince’!”

Allyn glances at the calendar. “Ah, so it is! Mercy, how recent and long ago that launch date seems. How are we marking the occasion?”

“I was thinking…” Will spreads his hands before him. “‘Swan Prince: The Musical’!”

Allyn’s expression slackens. “Wait, what?”

***Disclaimer: The following song number is the product of Will Scarlet and is in no way affiliated with Allyn-a-Dale, Gant-o’-the-Lute, or any credentialed minstrel to speak of. All character entities featured are intellectual property of Danielle E. Shipley, author of “The Swan Prince (Book One of the Wilderhark Tales)”, and are performing of their own volition.***

<<<>>>

Book Banner, Swan Prince

[The curtain rises, along with a lively overture from the orchestra, on a backdrop depicting the foliage of Wilderhark Forest. Villem Deere stands stage left, Sula stage right, a pair of prop trees between and a bit behind them. ]

Villem: My knowledge base is a showcase of information diversity.

Aced every last final at my doctor university.

Yet there’s one thing I do not, and simply must, know:

What’s with that Sula girl, yo?

[Sula wrinkles her nose, because for no reason beyond a Will Scarlet script would Villem ever say “yo”, but regardless, she sings on her cue, her gaze following Sigmund as he enters the stage and crosses to disappear behind a tree.]

Sula: Neither spring-loaded steel nor that Doctor Deere can break me.

I’ll keep the whole world at arm’s length for everybody’s safety.

But that Sigmund boy’s drawn me since my first entranced stare.

To ignore him’s more than I can bear.

[Now she rolls her eyes, because bear puns? Really? Meantime, the music swells fuller, intensifying in tone, while a swan’s shadow glides over the backdrop.]

Swan Prince Cover, E-book

Villem: Wondering…

Sula: Wandering…

Both: By moonlight.

Villem: What answers…

Sula: What freedom…

Both: Will come with the sunrise?

Obsession, distraction, and grudging attraction in Wilderhark.

When will what’s in the dark come to light?

[The lights on Villem and Sula darken, while a new spotlight shines center stage between the trees, rippling silver like moonlight on water. From his huddled position in the light’s center, Sigmund draws gracefully up to his feet, spreading vast sleeves designed to look like gray-feathered wings. The music slows and quiets to little more than a plaintive oboe.]

Sigmund: Once upon a time, my life looked sublime.

A prince among worse, ‘til a curse brought me low.

Bound now to a lake and this Sula girl’s fate,

Will my tale end in rapture or woe?

[Music builds again for the return of the chorus. Villem, Sula, and Sigmund sing in three-part harmony, as the stage’s lighting shifts moment by moment from night-dim to a glow like the dawn.]

All: Wondering, wandering, by moonlight.

What changes, what choices, will come with the sunrise?

A search for what’s hiding and lost deep inside of great Wilderhark.

When will what’s wrong be made right?

When what’s in the dark comes to liiight!

[Triumphant orchestral finish.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kim Matura,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘university finals’ and ‘sublime’. Thanks also to the main cast from ‘The Swan Prince’ for being such good sports about this. I’d no idea you all had such tuneful voices!”

“And the song?” Will prompts.

“…Could have been worse,” Allyn says grudgingly. “Far better, but also worse.”

“Thank you very much. If you enjoyed yourselves, dear audience,” 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! And if you haven’t yet, consider celebrating the original Wilderhark Tale’s first full year out in the world by purchasing a copy today – through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace…whatever floats your boat – or recommending it to a friend. Until next week: Will and Allyn out!”

“Sophomore” or “Year Two in Review”

Does anyone know what this past Sunday was? ^^ Yes? No? Any guesses? …Put your hand down, I know you know… Actually, okay, go ahead and tell us.

It was the two-year anniversary of Ever On Word!

You’re darn right, it was! As of that Three Wishes Blog Blitz post (there’s still time to enter the raffle, by the way!), I have begun my third year of blogging! And what a year the last has been…

*cue flashback montage*

It started with a serial murder mystery inspired by my first summer on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

In between whodunit episodes, I chronicled my writing progress during National Novel Writing Month 2012, as well as my adventure at NaNo’s Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco.

Ah, San Francisco… What an experience that was – my first time in California! Small wonder I had that brief urge to go all travelog on you.

Once I got back home, things were pretty much business as usual, for a while – y’know, guests posts by a Merry Man and Merry Woman, rescuing words like a language-loving boss on Save-a-Word Saturdays… that sort of thing.

Then the world exploded in a blast of awesomesocks.

Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.
Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.

After years of little to report to inquisitive friends apart from, “yeah, still writing, still hoping, no big breaks yet,” I had not one, not two, but three amazing pieces of publishing news to share, back to back to back! An anthology, self-published novella, and a novel debut, oh my!

It all made for a very busy Danielle, lemme tell you, but I still tried to make time for reading, both for pleasure and as favors to friends. Over the course of Ever On Word’s “being or associated with the second in a series” year, I managed to post reviews for the following:

– “The Man in the Box” by Andrew Toy

– “Spirit’s End” by Rachel Aaron

– “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology”, edited by Penny Freeman

– “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

– “Caged (Holloway Pack #3)” by J.A. Belfield

Not too shabby, for a gal with a weird phobia about writing reviews. (:

I was able to pick up a couple of nice reviews for “The Swan Prince”, too, during the Blogger Book Fair in July. I’d only recently heard of the event, and it was my first time participating – spotlighting fellow authors here at my blog, guest-posting over on theirs, and, ohhhh yeahhhh, winning the Reader’s Choice Award for young adult fantasy, thanks to your votes! 😀

So, yeah. All told, it’s been a pretty big year for this little blog. And glancing ahead at what I know to be coming – (including but not limited to the release of “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” in, like, two weeks) – it’s a safe bet Year Three will be easily as huge. #LezDoThisThang!