#OHH My Gosh, the Day Has Come!

Our Hungering Hearts, front coverHappy Release Day to “Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”!

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

If you haven’t already ordered your copy(ies) of the e-book edition, you can do so HERE (via Amazon, for Kindle and other mobi file readers) and HERE (via Barnes & Noble, for Nook and other epub file readers) – and/or get the paperback HERE!

Because I’m so pleased about my solo anthology’s launch into the world, I am concurrently launching four new designs in my Society6 shop – one for each of the “Hungering Hearts” short stories. Observe!

1 = #Like An Escaped Convict

Escaped Convict Triptych.png

Again, the Black Man did not smile. Nor did he frown. His thin mouth was straight, his slender brows at rest, his eyes resetting to narrow after their flare of surprise. Measured and silky, he asked, “Where are your people?”

Eyes and thumb still fixed in place, Tidbit half-turned her body toward the swinging double door to the kitchen at the dining room’s far end.

“I see,” he said, flicking a glance where she’d directed, then back down to her. “And do they allow you out here to creep upon their clientele’s tables, or are you an escaped convict?”

– from “Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son”

I don’t expect ol’ Two Spoons to shop my little e-store any time soon, but just in case, I made sure this design inspired by his story included his favorite colors: Red and (most obviously) black.

2 = #Mad Pretty #Pretty Mad

Mad Pretty Quartet

The monarchs would have had yet another catastrophe on their hands if they couldn’t both keep their promise /and/ satisfy the Lord of Wings’ demand. And there was I, an amnesiac orphan. Unclaimed. Unwanted. Unhinged, though no one seemed to notice. And most importantly, a boy pretty enough to pass for a girl.

– from “A Mind Prone to Wander”

A tastefully fractured design for the beautifully insane among you, or, whatever, for the princess looking back at you from the mirror. I don’t know your life.

3 = #Real World Problems

Real World Triptych

As do we all, he knows of the Réalis — the world alongside our own. We are that world’s dreams, they are this world’s stories. And some of us, I’m told, exist in both places at once, having been born there only to be conjured here at the judges’ whim.

We call the world real — not because it is any /truer/ than ours, for it’s not, but because it is fixed, its base rules inflexible, unaffected by the merest wish of its inhabitants. Heartsinger rasps, “Why would anyone want to go there?”

– from “Reality As We Know It”

Why indeed? But hey, if you’re gonna be stuck in this reality of ours, why not weep your tears of adulting exhaustion in an Ever On Word throw pillow that gets you?

4 = #Word Wizard

Word Wizard Triptych

“Shall I be honest with you, Elizabeth?” I asked.

She said, “I wish you would.”

“Well, the truth of it is, I deeply love your work. You have a talent like no other I’ve seen.”

“Thank you,” she said, with the merest dip of her head. Not flattered, not scornful. Simply acknowledging. “I have been called something of a wizard with words. You could say it’s in my blood.”

– from “Date Due”

Whether on a mug that holds your writing beverage of choice, the notebook that holds your brainstorming notes, or the bag that totes your laptop full of story documents, this is a design for all of us who claim the pen as our magic sword. …And for any dragons who crave swaggy book merch for their hoard.

So! That’s what’s new from your gal DEShipley. If you’re in a place to do so, feel free to support my artistic endeavors with your dollars and/or – also of great importance!!! – book reviews. (Go on, don’t be shy about sharing your readerly opinions with Amazon; the Merry Men showed you how easy-peasy it can be!)

‘Til next time, dearies,

~ Danielle

Did You Kn-#OHH?

So, heeey! As I’ve been mildly remiss in shouting about, these last months, “Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection” (#OurHungeringHearts #aka #OHH) is scheduled to launch in two (2!) weeks.

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

(Have you added it to your Goodreads “want-to-read” list? Because you ca-a-an! You can also pre-order the e-book, via Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble)

Most of my relative silence on the subject has been due to busyness with a hundred other things. Working at Yosemite. Leaving Yosemite. Searching for work in Fresno. Buying a car (which, just… wow. What a process. I’m starting to better understand why “Ballad”-era Will Scarlet elected to acquire transportation the easy way). Not to mention prepping “So Super Dead” – y’know, that other book that’s coming out one month behind “Hungering Hearts”.

But the rigors of adulting is no excuse! Neither is the fact that I’ve already hyped all of these stories before, when they first released in their respective anthologies. There’s always something new to say, if you’re chatty enough. (Which I very much can be. Will Scarlet came by the trait honestly. Unlike his car.)

In honor, then, of keeping our mouths busy, here’s a tasty array of tidbits I don’t think I’ve shared before (interspersed with stuff I totally shared before, because #NeverForget). DID YOU KNOW…?

– The collection’s first story is just chockablock with aliases. Tidbit, the Black Man, Two Spoons … both the character, and the title. Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son is the title I originally used. Though presented in Xchyler Publishing’s “Legends and Lore” as Two Spoons only, “Our Hungering Hearts” restores the story name to its full, head-turning glory.

– By fun coincidence, all four of the stories in the collection are narrated in 1st-person (which, as one could deduce from all of my published novels and novellas to date, is not my automatic go-to; I’m often more of a 3rd-person gal). And in two of the tales, we’re never given the narrator’s name. It would probably wear me out having to work like that in a full-length work (I wonder how Daphne du Maurier felt about doing so in “Rebecca”), but for short stories, it can be an interesting exercise to see what you gain and/or lose by featuring nameless characters.

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Reality As We Know It’s Heartsinger, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum Ginger Mann.

My Love, My Heart, My Singer: A Walk Through the Abréal

– In keeping with my Wilderhark side, A Mind Prone to Wander draws inspiration from multiple fairytales – Jack and the Beanstalk, Bluebeard, a touch of Beauty and the Beast, and an aesthetic or two from the Arabian Nights.

Date Due is the ONLY story in the book that isn’t based on other characters of mine. Although – (Easter egg!) – one of the books in the story’s magical Library shares a title with another short story in “Beyond the Wail”, the anthology in which Date Due debuted.

– Throwback! Enjoy this sampling of images from the A Mind Prone to Wander Pinterest board, “Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and Beyond”. …and/or click here to visit the whole board!

Mind Prone to Wander, Pinterest

– The twin princesses in A Mind Prone to Wander are mirror images of each other – as are, in a way, their names. Broken into pieces, Bellamy = Belle (beauty, in French) + Amie (friend, in French); and, same but reverse, Caralinda = Cara (dear, in Italian) + linda (beautiful, in Spanish). Yes, we authors do live for this sort of thing.

– If I had to pick a “Hungering Hearts” character with which I most closely identify… Yeah, it’s gotta be the draconic Librarian. Though I must give a secondary shout-out to Row from Reality As We Know It (because, whoof, his dispiriting job hunt has recently become too darn relatable), the parallels between me and the Librarian are blatant. Books. Tea. Questionable sanity. That’s all me. (Also, I half-lied, if setting counts as character: I totally based her house off of mine.)

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Date Due’s word wizard, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum A. F. Stewart.

Beyond the Wail: Fireside Chat with Elizabeth Young

– If I had to pick a favorite “Hungering Hearts” character… that would be cruel, so I’ll be weak and pick one fave per story.

Two Spoons = the devil’s son himself (because I *heart* me a villain)

A Mind Prone to Wander = Arinward, Steward of Arcan-Nest (because his letters are champion)

Reality As We Know It = can I say the murdering Irishman? Is that allowed?

Date Due = the books (I told you: I’m the Librarian)

– If I had to pick the “Hungering Hearts” story that was most enjoyable to write… I think it was Two Spoons. I ~relished~ that one. The others were more painful, because character suffering. Whereas, for any suffering in Two Spoons, I was in Black Man mode, meaning yes, good, the pain of others; that and a scoop of ice cream, please. That guy would make a great author.

Well, would you look at that: We’ve arrived at a full-length blog post! I guess I had a handful of things left to say, after all. ;D And if YOU’VE got things to say, I hope you’ll put them in the comment section down below.

New Look, Same Great Taste!

Previously on the Ever On Word blog, I teased the sometime-soon re-release of four short stories o’ mine. That soon sometime draws ever nearer – I’m aiming for an August launch date … which somehow is now only a month away?? Where did June go???

But HEY, rather than suffer a panic attack over how swiftly this summer is flying by, how about we have ourselves a little title / cover reveal?

Showing its face for the first time ever, I give you…

“Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Aaaaaand the full spread:

Our Hungering Hearts, full cover 02

Dat back o’ book blurb:

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

HUGE kudos to Hannah Vale for her help in bringing my vision for the cover to life! The background photos, I was able to obtain via unsplash.com; the lettering / general graphic design, I created myself in various basic Microsoft programs. (Because, low-key, I am a baller.) But NO WAY could I have illustrated that symbolic “chalk art” on my own, so for that unique pop of the fantastic, Hannah has all-ll-ll my thanks.

Life is hectic, and my relationship status with the internet = “on again / off again”, but I should have “Our Hungering Hearts” up on Goodreads, ready for your “Want To Read” lists, in the near future. Stay tuned!

Ballad Cover, front 02

In other book news: All July long, its the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! For a FREE ebook of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)”, click here. To browse the full sale catalog, click here.

…And to tell me what you think of what you’ve seen so far of “Our Hungering Hearts”, go off in the comments! ^o^

Whazzup, Writing-Wise

We interrupt my periodic reflections on walking around Germany to bring you – *drumroll* – actual authorial updates!

1) Anthologically Speaking

Guess who’s got another short story slated to appear in an anthology? *points to self* This gal! Coming to you from my word-bro Alexander Nader and his Hair Brained Press, it’s “Manifest Reality”, a horror antho of stories focusing on the twisted sh*t in our heads™.

(To my knowledge, that is not actually the book’s trademark, just how Alex once described it on Twitter.)

Word is the collection should drop around Valentine’s Day – because nothing says “crazy-commercialized day of lovers” like a psychotic tale or thirteen, amirite? Further details to come as time marches on. Stay tuned. (And if you’d like to nab an early copy for review, poke me or Alex. We probably won’t tell you “no” and run you out of town. No promises, though.)

2) Novel News

A large part of #NaNoWriMo2015 was a throwback to my first-ever NaNo, back in 2010. I spent the first half of this past November (yes, even while on a river cruise across Europe – insanity or bust) going through the last big edits on my next big publication. Ladies, gentlemen, and miscellaneous so-and-sos, I am thrilled to announce that my Outlaws of Avalon trilogy will make its debut this summer – beginning, of course, with Book One, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”!

*Not the actual cover*
*Not the actual cover*

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

This is it, you guys! Of all the series I’ve ever written (heck, maybe even among all the series I’ve ever read), this one is dearest to my heart. And now the manuscript is all but complete, the cover art is underway, and the finished product is scheduled to launch this July.

Ballad ARC Request

If YOU are a reader who’s game to give a contemporary Robin Hood fantasy a whirl, I wanna hear about it! Click the pic above to go fill out the request form I figured out how to whip up (*victory dance*), and I’ll send an eARC your way.

“Rejoice, my fangirls-‘n’-boys!” Will Scarlet says, grinning ear to ear. “The wait for my official story draws to a close! Slowly. Excruciatingly so. Rejoice and die of impatience, basically.”

3) [Ever] On the Blog

I haven’t committed to blogging on a regular schedule since I fled to Europe. And you know what? I’m enjoying the freedom more than I thought I would. (Fun Deshipley fact: I don’t tend to enjoy things that lack structure. I’m a darling stick in the mud, like that.)

So for the indefinite future, I’mma keep doing as I’ve been for the last few months: Posting if and when I’ve got something I want to share. And we’ll see how that goes.

4) On Another Book-Related Note

Heeeeeey, people in and around Lake County, IL: One of my favorite childhood hangouts – Cook Memorial Public Library – is hosting a Local Author Open House. And I’m flying all the way back to the States to be there! (And, y’know, to reunite with my family for a bit.)

zLocalAuthorsOpenHouse

This will be my first time as a part of an event like this. I am excited and nervous and pessimistic and hopeful and ready to ROCK. IT. OUT. If you can make it, I’d love to see you there. If I feel like it afterwards, I’ll tell the Internet how it was. (See point 3. 😉 )

Aaaaaand that’s all she wrote for now. Anyone else got any good news to share? The comment section awaits you.

Word Things That Are Happening and Involve Me

So, my name’s on the cover of another book, coming… any day now, I expect.

Ponahakeola Press had a call for ghostly short stories/poems, I had an old piece lying around that I thought might suit, so I sent it in, and many moons later, I’m told that I’m in and the anthology is about ready to go.

Revenant's Caress cover

So any o’ y’all who equate “October” with “read spooky stuff”, here’s one for you.

(Edit, 10/27 = First of the sales links here; yay, CreateSpace!

Edit, 10/28 = Now available on Kindle, too!)

<<<>>>

My name is also attached to a Kickstarter campaign.

Screen-cap from Day 1 of the campaign.
Screen-cap from Day 1 of the campaign.

Project details gleaned from the campaign page*:

*(With asterisk-y asides by me.)

The money raised will be used to create and publish a science fiction and fantasy short story anthology. There will be a mixture of stories by invited authors* and stories submitted during an open call. Initially the anthology comprises ten short stories, but with stretch goals and sharing milestones this may be increased to twenty. At least three of the anthology’s stories will be contributions from the open call.

*Invited authors like yours truly. Kai Herbertz asked me if I’d do him the honor of contributing a story, I gave him the timeframe in which that would be remotely feasible, he said he was cool with that, so okay, looks like I’ll be whipping up a Danielle E. Shipley special**, come December.

As seen near the bottom of the campaign page … minus any yellow scribbles of emphasis.
As seen near the bottom of the campaign page … minus any yellow scribbles of emphasis.

**(Or, quite possibly, a Danielle E. Shipley/Tirzah Duncan special. We’re in talks on a collab inspired by one of our infamous imaginary romps.)

The Anthology will be released on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing and also as a print on demand paperback. Ebooks in Mobi, Epub, and PDF format will be created.

Two language versions will be planned for release. One in German* and the other in American English.

*German? A story of mine in German?? As in, the language with which I am in the process of attempting to make myself bilingual??? What a prospect!

The funding sum is the bare bones minimum to produce the anthology. The more money we raise, the more we can pay authors*.

*I am an author who would dearly like to be paid. Making pennies on my art is like pulling teeth**. Feel free to be generous.

**I would actually probably make a lot more money pulling teeth. Or selling my teeth. Or selling my body on the docks of France.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by… that I could actually make a living…
I dreamed a dream in time gone by… that I could actually make a living…

<<<>>>

Aaaand that’s the latest. Anybody else out there got word news to share? Drop the headlines in the comments.

Graphic Paranormal

So, how ‘bout that time “Beyond the Wail” launched and fellow anthology author A. F. Stewart made a heck-ton of amazing graphics? At least one awesome pic per each of the “12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”. Gaze with me…

<<<>>>

OF MICE AND MONSTERS by Tirzah Duncan: Troubled by ghosts within and without, Benjamin struggles to become the man his girlfriend needs instead of the monster he is.

Of Mice and Monsters

[To the tune of “Space Ghost”]: Ghooooooost wiiiiiiiiind!

(Relevant: That time the Stranger Than Truth club reviewed “Of Mice and Monsters” in their, uh, inimitable style.)

<<<>>>

GO GENTLE by Julie Barnson: After the death of her boyfriend, a young musician uses her talents and a fabled violin to stop the fatal accidents at a dead man’s curve.

Go Gentle

Cool colors reminiscent of a ghost’s chill presence.

<<<>>>

DEAD WATER by Amanda Banker: A stalled truck, an abandoned graveyard, and a town not found on any map take two brothers on a detour they’ll never forget.

Dead Water

Don’t follow that road, boys!!!

<<<>>>

COLD SPOT by Jay Barnson: When a laptop is stolen from their computer security company, two high school buddies go to extremes to investigate. But, will they manage to return?

Cold Spot

Love how it moves from a tech-ish image into a total fade-out. Quite story appropriate.

<<<>>>

THE WEEPING LADY by A. F. Stewart: Eva Douglas must face her mother issues, past and present, when the disappearance of her sister forces a confrontation with a terrifying ghost.

When it’s the artist’s own story up at the bat, it’s no surprise if the muse goes wild. Check out these three variations.

The Weeping Lady

The Weeping Lady 2

The Weeping Lady 3

(Not sure I can pick a favorite. Can you?)

<<<>>>

THE POLTERGEIST AND AUNT BETTY by Ginger C. Mann: Aunt Betty is eccentric, but how much is ghost, how much is medication, and how much is just plain crazy?

The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty

If it isn’t the old Hammond Organ!

(Relevant: That time everyone’s favorite Crazy Aunt Betty hit the stage for Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.)

<<<>>>

THE ‘GRIM’ REAPER by L. K. McIntosh: When a soul reaper loses the source of their power, they must either find the witch who stole it or a new purpose for living.

The 'Grim' Reaper

Ahhh, the fateful antiques shop… *nods knowingly*

<<<>>>

SHRINE OF MIRRORS by F. M. Longo: A spy on a mission becomes a believer in the supernatural when the theft of three ancient relics threaten to bring down the empire.

Shrine of Mirrors

Lovely aesthetic. Seems a view Saga Naoki and company would enjoy, no?

<<<>>>

DEAD MAN HOCKING by T.N. Payne: A world-weary zombie learns to beware what you wish for, and not all sure bets are worth the gamble.

Dead Man Hocking

I don’t care if it is only Kyle: If a zombie comes walking out of that fog, I’m completely done.

<<<>>>

SAINT PETER’S FISH by Alex McGilvery: Sam is a walking disaster of biblical proportions, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to escape, and will the Powers That Be allow it?

Saint Peter's Fish

Sure, the water’s calm now… *waits for the oceanic life to monsoon down* Also, I really like what’s going on with the colors in the second row of text.

<<<>>>

THE DIORAMA by Sebastian Bendix: A play set turns life around for Martin Taper, but things take a turn for the worse when he neglects it and the lonely child obsessed with it.

The Diorama

That’s just a straight-up cool little photograph, man. *remembers associated story* *is crept out*

<<<>>>

And then there’s MINE!

DATE DUE by Danielle E. Shipley: A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Date Due graphic

She used the same image in a warmer shade, too, which I also liked, but this library reads as spookier, and I just tend to lean toward bluer tones in general – in life – so this is the one that gets the coveted blog post spot.

(Relevant: That time Ginger C. Mann went on a character walk with my crazy book lady.)

(See also: That other time, when A. F. Stewart’s Richard Dale had a fireside chat with my Elizabeth Young.)

<<<>>>

What do you think, Ever On Wordians? Pretty darn sweet, or nah?

Thanks for the great graphics, A. F.!

(Relevant: The “Beyond the Wail” blog tour is still going, along with its Rafflecopter giveaway. If you haven’t entered yet, get a move on!)

A Delightfully Grave Announcement

Ladies, gentlemen, and assorted rogues! It is with great pleasure and no small amount of authorial pride that I present to you the first look at my latest anthology project with Xchyler Publishing.

Aaaand cue the vid!


 

Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”, featuring me – not to mention my best friend, Tirzah Duncan. First soul sisters, now anthology sisters, too. It’s a Christmas miracle! …Or, given the book’s release date of October 10th, nearer to a Halloween miracle.

In celebration of the book’s cover reveal, I’m likewise revealing the related Pinterest board that I’ve been assembling since before I even knew for sure that my own uncanny short story had made the cut. So here – have a little library magic, courtesy of “Date Due”.

Also! It’s only a matter of time until we start sending out advance reader e-copies of the book. If you – yes, YOU, sir/madam/your rogue-ship – would like an early read of “Beyond the Wail” for the low, low price of an honest review, give me a spine-chilling shriek of woe! I’ll die of fright. Or hook you up. One of those. ;D

BEYOND-THE-WAIL-front-web

WINGS OF RENEWAL: The Cover Revealed

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you ‘Wings of Renewal: The Cover Revealed’!”

“Wait, what?” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Will shoves a three-ring script binder into the minstrel’s hands. “Just run with it.”

“O… kay…”

<<<>>>

Allyn/Narrator: The future is vibrant, hopeful, and filled with dragons.

[Gant-o’-the-Lute – eyes bright through reptilian contact lenses, resplendent in full-body make-up set to stun – glides over the stage on kite-like dragon wings with an exultant, musical roar.]

Allyn/Narrator: In WINGS OF RENEWAL, twenty-two authors explore the exciting new subgenre of solarpunk through the lens of these majestic creatures.

[A full-length triple mirror unfolds, with Will Scarlet in the center. His reflections appearing to multiply into forever, he raises a megaphone-like device to his mouth, likewise multiplying his voice into that of a small crowd.]

Will/Authors: We are the ninety-nine! Or, the twenty-two, anyway. Behold, our names and short story titles!

[A sweeping score singing from various speakers, a slideshow of the list projects onto the stage’s back curtain, reading as follows:

Brenda J. Pierson – Lost and Found
C.B. Carr – Summer Project
Cj Lehi – Deep Within the Corners of my Mind
Caitlin Nicoll – Glow
Caroline Bigaiski – The Dragon of Kou
Claudie Arseneault – One Last Sweet
Danny Mitchell – Dragon’s Oath
Diane Dubas – The Witch’s Son
Gemini Pond – Fighting Fire with Fire
J. Lee Elloris – The Last Guardian
Jeanne LG – The Stained Glass Dragon
Kat Lerner – Community Outreach with Reluctant Neighbors (alternatively, How to Avoid Cults)
Kimberly Kay and A. N. Gephart – Solarium
Lyssa Chiavari – Seven Years Among Dragons
M. Pax – Wings of the Guiding Suns
Marianne Drolet – The Shape of the Sun
Maura Lydon – Wanderer’s Dream
Megan Reynolds – Petrichor
Mindi Briar – Refuge
Sam Martin – Morelle and Vina
Stephanie Wagner – In the Hearts of Dragons
Tobias Wade – The Quantum Dragon

The music continuing on, the draconified Lute returns to resume his aerial dance, while Allyn wraps up the narration.]

Allyn/Narrator: Whether they irrigate dry terrain or serve as spaceships, are mythic beasts come to life or biomechanical creations of man, these dragons show us a world where renewable energy overcomes gas and oil, and cooperation replaces competition. If you love fantasy/sci-fi fusion, this is an anthology you do not want to miss! So hop on solar wings and follow us into futures that—for all their witches and dragons—are far more possible than they might seem.

Will: And now… the cover!

[The back curtain rises on the larger than life, full-spread cover art, then zooms in on the cover’s front, complete with text – all as seen below.]

Wings of Renewal, full-spread art

 

Wings of Renewal, front cover

Lute: Magnificent, no? [grins and breathes a jet of fire ]

<<<>>>

 “Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to editor Claudie Arseneault,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the information included in this anthology cover reveal production, and to Agata Jędrychowska for the creation of the cover art itself.”

“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!”

The Tour that Keeps On Touring, Part 2

Previously, on the Ever On Word blog

Steel and Bone, cover 3.0

The official blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” has been over for a few weeks, now. So many tour stops! So much content! So much so, that even I – who had a vested interest in the tour – had difficulty keeping up with it all. Between that and the fact that there’s no guarantee which bits of all the goodies provided by the anthology’s authors will see the light of day, it occurred to me that if I wanted to ensure you guys had the best chance of reading the behind-the-scenes info and extras for my own short story in the collection, Ursula would have to take matters into her own tentacles, so to speak.

(*assumed high-fives from all the Disney’s “Little Mermaid” fans in the house. …and my fellow kraken-lovers, because tentacles*

*double high-fives to anyone whose brain read “Ursula” and for a moment thought “Wilderhark Tales”*)

Keeping the good times a-rolling in this blog space, here’s some more bonus content brought to you by Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and beyond!*

*Which, as it happens, is totally the name of my “A Mind Prone to Wander”-inspired Pinterest board.

A Day in the Life of Arinwald, Steward of Arcan-Nest

Pre-sunrise – Grooming with the Lord of Wings. (The castle’s master must look appropriately dashing and fierce.)

First hour of sun – Tour the grounds to ensure all is as it should be. (This duty could technically be delegated to the clockwork roc, but it’s good to get out and enjoy the fresh air of the world above the clouds.)

Pre-breakfast – Feed the various birds too domestic to hunt/scavenge for themselves. Gather the eggs of the castle’s laying hens, from chickens to firebirds, and deliver them to the automated kitchen. (Firebird eggs: The cleaner, hotter fuel for your steam-powered engines.)

Breakfast

From post-breakfast to lunch – Clean (and repair, as necessary) the castle’s clockwork staff. Suffer the Lord of Wings’ grumpiness. Wish the lord’s brother were here to deal with him.

Lunch – Perhaps outdoors, if the weather is pleasant.

Naptime – Preferably in the sun.

From post-nap until dinner – Something, somewhere is bound to have broken again, by now; fix it while sniping about the never-ending maintenance a mechanically-run castle requires. Then on to tapestries, draperies, and other laundry. Break up a cockatrice fight. (Belligerent little devils.)

Dinner

From post-dinner to bed – The evening hours are his to do as he wishes. Read by lamplight. Watch the sun set over the cloudy horizon from atop the outer wall. Trade riddles with ravens and sing duets with nightingales. Stew over every pointless death this castle’s ever known. Count down the days until death’s likely to come again. Wish people would stop being numbskulls. Take a long, hot bath.

Bedtime – To dream of soaring among the stars with his heart’s other half. …wherever it may be.

Interview Q’s, Author A’s

Do you have a playlist for your story?

I’m not one to come up with official playlists, though a mental glance at the setting of “A Mind Prone to Wander” may trigger remembered snippets of “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables or Keith Harkin’s cover of Don McLean’s “Castles in the Air”. But if there’s one song I can think of to best represent the overlapping stories of Rowan, Bellamy, and the Lord of Wings, it’s “Taking Over Me” by Evanescence.

Please provide some insight, a secret or two about your story.

The face of the man who hijacked my NaNo...as seen from two angles at once.
A portrait belonging to the “Singer of Skycastle” novel that was[n’t].
I originally intended “A Mind Prone to Wander” to be a novel, but to my utter shock, it simply refused to be written. I must have come at it from four or five different directions over a good two years, my main character giving me hurt and dirty looks all the way. I’ve never had to wrestle through that kind of writer’s block before, and I hope to heaven I never will again! There was never any real question of giving up, though. I’m tenacious to a fault, like that.

How did you come up with the title?

I’d been thinking of this story’s original iteration as “Singer of Skycastle” for so long, it felt weird calling it anything else. But for the purposes of submission to Xchyler’s anthology contest – and, happily, publication beyond – I wanted something a little more artistic. So I wracked my imagination for the phrase that encompassed the most, story-wise. Given that our narrator’s attention was wont to drift into mad tangents (not to mention The Big Secret he learns ere story’s end), “A Mind Prone to Wander” fit the bill nicely.

Anything else you’d like to share with other writers about the process?

Try, try again. And again. And again and again and again. Sometimes it all comes down to a matter of which one is tougher: The story, or you. And the biggest thing that got me through? Letting go of the parts of the story that just weren’t working. From the beginning, my brain kept getting stuck when I got to a certain point in the plot. Maybe it was part of my subconscious trying to tell me something. Maybe no part of me had any clue, and it was just a truth of the story waiting for me to learn it. Either way, now I’ve got a finished short story, and a bunch of ideas cut free to maybe be a part of a different story one day. I call that a win.

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P.S. – Did you see the time Xchyler Pub and I made of vid of me reading an excerpt of “A Mind Prone to Wander”? Click the pic if not, ‘cause that happened!

Steel and Bone, recorded excerpt pic

The Tour that Keeps On Touring

Steel and Bone, cover 3.0

The official blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” has been over for a while, now. …Plus this special character edition post over on Andi’s ABCs, featuring Rowan Charles/Rowena Charlotte from my short story therein. So by all means, go read that, if only to get an eyeful of the fabulous coat he/she wore during my tale’s opening pages. (Seriously. Coat envy.)

But back to my original point. So many tour stops! So much content! So much so that even I – who had a vested interest in the tour – had difficulty keeping up with it all. Between that and the fact that there’s no guarantee which bits of all the goodies provided by the anthology’s authors will see the light of day, it occurred to me that if I wanted to ensure you guys had the best chance of reading the behind-the-scenes info and extras for my own short story in the collection, Ursula would have to take matters into her own tentacles, so to speak.

(*assumed high-fives from all the Disney’s “Little Mermaid” fans in the house. …and my fellow kraken-lovers, because tentacles*

*double high-fives to anyone whose brain read “Ursula” and for a moment thought “Wilderhark Tales”*)

And so here for you, my Ever On Wordians, I present two of my favorite bonus features for my steampunk fairytale, “A Mind Prone to Wander”!

Where It All Began…

Once upon a time, I wished for a story. More than that – central to that – I wished for a character.

“What about me and mine?”

A vision blew in before my mind’s eye: A wash of blue sky, and a white sea of clouds. A proud ship sailing over the thick, misted swells. And riding the rigging, a beautiful young man. Though I could not yet see him clearly, his beauty was clear as anything.

When he saw that I saw him, he smiled, and asked me, “How would you like to work together?”

I thought I would like it very much. But who was he?

“Yet to be determined,” he said, and hopped down from the ship’s rigging. Rather than landing on the deck or in the sea of clouds, his booted feet touched down on the floor of my room, his long coat briefly flaring behind him. A long, stylish coat, tall boots, and a ship… Was he a gentleman pirate?

“No, not I,” he said, brushing his hair back from his face with slim, shapely fingers.

Then why sail a clouded sea?

He tipped his head and looked at me with an enigmatic smile. “Why indeed. What reasons can you suppose?”

I gave it thought, allowing my imagination to wander, rejecting nothing yet, simply searching until I found what felt the truest. Explorer. Adventurer. Spy. Why a spy? What had a spy to do with a sea in the sky? And did this young, beautiful stranger have what it took to be an undercover man? He certainly had the face to be an undercover woman…

An involuntary flutter of his long lashes told me I’d hit somewhere near the mark. Was that what he was, then? A woman trying to pass as a man?

“Not at all,” he said. “A man trying to pass as a woman. Trying, and succeeding. It’s a part of my mission, you see.”

His mission as a spy?

“Would you like that? Espionage seems beyond you. You scarcely read such things, and never write them. Have you any true interest in attempting it now?”

I didn’t, I admitted. He, himself, intrigued me, and I wished to know him better. But was his a story I was fit to tell?

He asked me, “What is the story you want to tell? I have told you, I am yet to be determined. My story is the same. We can determine it together, if you wish it.”

I did wish it. I had wished it. Here was the very character I’d called for, before I’d even known his name. Come to think of it, I still didn’t know his name. What was it? Or was that, too, yet to be determined?

Again, that enigmatic smile. “I have a name. But if you think I’m simply going to tell you now, right at the start, you are much mistaken.”

Would he tell me nothing?

His eyes of undetermined color shined. “I will tell you everything, for it is a tale worth telling. My name, however, is not the tale’s beginning.”

Then what was?

“The tale began,” he said, “Once Upon An Ending…”

Character Casting

Character Casting_Bellamy, Emma Stone

Princess Bellamy / Emma Stone

“Beside me, Princess Bellamy doesn’t fidget. Doesn’t shiver. She’s tougher than winter, and nearly as icy.”

In accordance with her royal parents’ oath, Bellamy has been groomed since her earliest youth to become her people’s savior, along with her twin sister. …until aforementioned sister disappears without notice. With the lives of her kingdom’s women on the line, Bellamy fiercely turns her back on what she views as her twin’s betrayal, the better to focus on her destiny ahead. But the monster she’s sworn to kill may be the least of what she’ll have to face.

Character Casting_Arinwald, John Rhys-Davies

Arinwald / John Rhys-Davies

Arinwald looks at me, and though his expression is as pleasantly neutral as I’ve ever seen it, his dark-golden gaze pierces like a knife point. “Because whatever I told you would essentially be a lie. And do you know how tiring it is to be always hiding the truth?”

Sharp of eye and blunt of tongue, the beastly Lord of Wings’ steward appears to have these primary functions: Manage his master’s castle, serve his master’s guests (*cough* hostages *cough*), and keep hidden his master’s secrets. Regarding the execution of all three without the castle’s visitors dying, the score so far is death = thirty-eight, Arinwald = zero.

Character Casting_Rowan, Unknown

Rowan / Unknown

And there was I, an amnesiac orphan. Unclaimed. Unwanted. Unhinged, though no one seemed to notice. And most importantly, a boy pretty enough to pass for a girl.

Search though I might, I have no idea who is in this photograph, or even whether the subject is male or female. For the young man called Rowan Charles, that couldn’t be more perfect. After all, the whole reason the king and queen chose him to replace their missing daughter is the hope that the Lord of Wings won’t notice one half of this year’s sacrificial pair is not, in fact, a woman. That the femme-faced co-assassin is out of his mind with inexplicable visions is, apparently, immaterial.

Coming soon: A day in the life of my favorite AMPtW character, and selected questions from the blog tour packet interview. See you then!

P.S. – Have you seen the “Steel & Bone” book trailer? Click the pic if you haven’t, ‘cause wowza!

Steel and Bone, book trailer pic