Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Ink

Once upon a venture to the Fresno Pirate Festival, I came upon an author displaying her literary wares. We exchanged chitchat and professional contact info – (as writer types are known to do when crossing paths in the wild) – and the next thing you know, she’s booked herself a free space on the Ever On Word blogging schedule. (Mine’s a hospitable soul, for a pirate.)

That’s /Captain/ Deshipley, to you.

So settle ye in comfy for…

An Interview with Author Leslie D. Soule!

Me: Tell us about the first story you can remember writing.

Leslie: The first story I can remember writing is one called The Warrior’s Tale, in which my characters go on a series of adventures through the wilderness. It had a very Robin Hood feel to it, and I wrote it when I was really young, probably about 10 or so.

Me: A thousand brownie points to you for uttering the name Robin Hood in your first paragraph! You may stay! Question the next: What is your writing process like? Do you plan and research beforehand, or figure it out as you go? Any special writing habits or rituals you’ve developed over time?

Leslie: So my writing process varies a bit, each time I write a novel. I’ve been participating for the past couple of years in NaNoWriMo, where you try and write a novel in a month, and have to get in around 1,600 words or so per day.

Me: Hail, fellow Wrimo! Although I haven’t had the wherewithal to participate, the last few years, I have very fond memories of my past NaNo adventures. ^_^ But do go on. You were saying…?

Leslie: I usually try and get ahead of the game a bit by using a piece that I’ve already worked on, as I know that I’m bound to skip a day or two, and that extra bit makes me feel better, like I’m not lagging behind on the writing. I usually try and come up with a general idea of where I want the story to go, but I’ve found that it’s more of an organic process than I’d originally thought, and changes come up as you write it. Such as, for the novel I’m currently working on, I ran it by someone and they suggested that I add more characters. As for habits I’ve developed over time, my habit is to get a coffee at Starbucks and try not to write a novel, but just to come up with an interesting scene and sort of go from there.

Me: How do you find your characters? Have any of them just shown up fully-formed in your head and made demands, or are they better behaved than that? Would you consider any of them to be your friends, or is your relationship purely professional? Also, Will Scarlet insists I ask: Would any of them be interested in a guest appearance on the talk show he hosts on my blog?

Leslie: Finding my characters usually comes from being inspired by the works of someone else. Such as, the name of my talking cat character, Greymalkin, is from Shakespeare. He showed up and demanded that I write book 2 in the series, but other than that, they usually don’t give me much trouble. I consider my sorcerer Will Everett to be a friend of mine, and he’s based on an actual guy – a martial arts buddy of mine. I think he’d be interested in a guest appearance on the talk show some time.

Will Scarlet: A Will Basically-Rhymes-with-Scarlet sorcerer, you say? Sounds practically predestined! I’ll be in touch!

Me: What is your biggest, shiniest, most improbable author dream? (A mega-bestseller? A collaboration with a literary celebrity? Your work adapted into a nine-hour opera?)

Leslie: My biggest, shiniest author dream is that my books take off like George R.R. Martin’s have, and that with MY show series, people aren’t disappointed in the ending of it like they have been at *ahem* certain shows. I also want to be able to show up at author events with a giant mechanical/animatronic dragon that breathes fire & releases glittered smoke.

Me: As shiny dreams go, fire-and-glitter-breathing dragons are tough to top.

Will: LORD, yes! Take a page out of Leslie’s dream book, Danielle. You haven’t arrived ‘til you’ve done it with dazzle-matronics.

Me: Which is your Reader Self’s favorite book of all time? (Or, if that’s too cruel a question, you may name three.)

Leslie: I LOVE Tolkien. My favorite books are the three Lord of the Rings books, and The Hobbit, which is its prequel. I’ve always loved Middle-Earth.

Me: I will admit to it being a slow slog for me to get through those books, but thanks to a late-game introduction to the LOTR movies, Middle-Earth and its fellowship of heroes will ever have a place in my heart. ^_^ Now, share a favorite line you’ve written – from a work-in-progress, or already published story, or just something you scribbled and adored.

Leslie: My absolute favorite written line is in my upcoming novel, Retribution, and I don’t want to spoil that part because it’s kind of climactic. But other than that, I particularly like it when Greymalkin admonishes my main character Ash Kensington in book 2 and says, “Who do you think you are – Indiana Jones?!”

Will: I mean… *shrug* Is he/she/they Indiana Jones?

Me: She just told us the name is Ash Kensington, so… probably not?

Will: But who’s to say, though?

Me: Hush, Scarlet. And Leslie, one final question for you: What’s one thing you wished everyone knew about you, but nobody ever asks?!

Leslie: What I wish everyone knew about me was how hard I’ve worked to become a published author, what the journey is like, and how to go about climbing that mountain of authorship that includes writing/getting published/promoting/dealing with difficulties that arise, and such – because it really has taken a lot of effort, and I think that kind of disappears behind the scenes of things, but it makes for much more interesting conversation than just talking about the finished project or my accomplishments.

Me: *nods in sage agreement* The journey is all.

Will: The destination has dragons.

Me: Okay, amending: The journey is, like, a good 80%. Let’s close with an author biographic word from our guest!


My name is Leslie Soule (pronounced “soul” like that part of you that is innate). I am an author who loves to try new genres and Sacramento, California is my hometown. I have an M.A. in English from National University and am a member of the English Chapter of the Sac State Alumni Association. Follow me on Twitter @Falcondraco

Leslie Soule


If you’re an author interested in an interview from me (or a character interested in an interview from Will Scarlet), feel free to hit up my contact page, and we’ll get you aboard the Ever On Word ship as soon as the seas permit. ;D

Hell Hath No Paper Fury (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logoThe curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Actually, our guest isn’t a character, per se, but describes herself thus:

C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her piano and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novels to make you laugh or cry (or both). She never sleeps and believes in cake for breakfast. She blogs at paperfury.com.

“Welcome, C.G.!” Will greets the author now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – any truth to the rumor that you’re low-key three dragons and a cake in a trench coat?”

“Thanks so much for having me, Will! Although  w o w  what an accusation to start with. I am at least four dragons in a trench coat and I keep the cake in my pockets.”

“At least four…” Will’s brows arch high. “Duly noted, and verily impressed. An also impressive fact: You’ve just recently released your second novel, ‘The Boy Who Steals Houses’. Which aspect of the book are you most excited for your readers to experience?”

“Definitely the trauma and heartbreak of my readers while I drink their tears— oh wait um…” C.G. shuffles her notes. “I mean, I’m looking forward to readers getting to meet my motley crew of dysfunctional siblings and the shenanigans that follow a boy named Sam who accidentally breaks into their house and ends up stealing their hearts.”

“Aw, man!” Will twists around in his seat. “Are you getting this, Allyn? Dysfunctional sibling dynamics, shenanigans, and break-ins are three of our favorite things!”

“Um, no, just yours,” says Allyn. “Three of mine would likelier include music, hard-weather friendships, and heartbreak.”

“Hence your soul’s resonance with our guest’s first novel, ‘A Thousand Perfect Notes’. Related questions, C.G.: Of your two protagonists – Beck from ‘ATPN’ and Sam from ‘TBWSH’ – whom did you more enjoy writing, and why?”

“Will!! Are you asking me to choose between my kids?! For shame. I love Beck and Sam both. I loved writing Beck’s carefully built walls of gentle sarcasm and his tenderness towards his little sister and hungry vulnerability for a life where he could have friends and feel safe. And I loved writing Sam’s anxious and soft nature, his absolute need to find a home and belong somewhere, and his super cute dorkiness whenever his crush talks to him.”

“Oh, Sam sounds adorable! I wanna smoosh him with love already! Speaking of things loved, my author Danielle has been much amused by your blog for some time, now – all to do with your excellent voice. Are all Australians so entertaining, or is your online personality something you’ve had to intentionally cultivate?”

“Haha, I mean, are all Americans the same, Will?”

“I wouldn’t know,” says Will, drawing himself up proudly. “I’m Middle English.”

Allyn coughs quietly, “Middle English-American…”

“I’m a well-integrated immigrant, all right?” Back pointedly turned from Allyn, Will gestures to C.G. “You were going to say…?”

“As for my online voice,” she guides them back on track. “I’ve worked hard to develop my writing skills over the years so I’m really pleased it’s turned into being able to blog in a fun and glittery way! I know people who read my books are generally surprised they’re so dark versus my blog being way more lighthearted and comedic. But I like a bit of everything.”

“Variety is indeed the spice of life! And since we’re spicing things up: Tell me, Multi-Dragon Drews, what is your biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Will cranks up the heat on his smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I think I’d rather pour my guts out, thanks ❤ I think my early blog archives were rather mortifying (shhh no you can’t see them! I’ve deleted!) and I do recall once yelling for my dog but I actually yelled my sister’s baby’s name (my dog is Atticus, the baby is Atlas … it was a mistake bound to happen, ok). So the baby just looked at me in sheer wounded terror that I’d yelled at him. I’m a monster. Still atoning for this.”

“That poor child,” Will sniggers. “Remind me to never get a dog, lest I inadvertently shout for Allyn.”

“You’re always shouting for Allyn anyway,” Allyn observes.


“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, hands over his ears, “is brought to you by ‘The Boy Who Steals Houses’ by C.G. Drews – available as of April 4th, also known yesterday, via Amazon, Book Depository, and elsewhere!Boy Who Steals Houses

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, C.G. Drews! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

A Few Bars of BALLAD: Stanza Three

To my readership in the U.S., Happy Independence Day, one day late! And Happy Release Day, one week early, to “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”!

Today marks the end of the pre-order campaign, though you can still pre-order the e-book (AmazonSmashwords… Barnes & Noble…) right up until next week, at which time the gorgeous paperback will launch into official availability as well. In the meanwhile…

1) “Ballad” and I had the pleasure of being featured on the Clockwork Bibliophile blog of Shannon Haggerty. Enjoy the interview at your leisure; it’s a good’un.

2) As a last hurrah before the BIG hurrah, it’s time for one more [abridged] sneak peek into the book!

Having worked with a professional man-o’-music once or twice before (hi-i-i, Gant-o’-the-Lute), I knew going into the writing of “Ballad” that a novel centering around Robin Hood’s legendary minstrel would by necessity feature its share of music. That means the lyrical prose which, to hear the remarks of reviewers, has become something of a Danielle E. Shipley signature – not to mention literal lyrics, every time Allyn informed his author it was time to insert a song.

Novel, The Musical

The following excerpt showcases the non-literal, narrative kind of lyricism as our protagonist finds himself out of the world he knew and inside the magical world of Avalon Faire. Our first sneak peek gave of us a glimpse of the isle’s Renaissance Faire disguise. Below, if you keep quiet in the trees, you’ll get an eyeful – and an earful – of the true, Fey heart of the place…

It was quiet here. Or he’d thought it so, at first. But Allyn felt, even before his ears quite heard, the faintest strains of music. It did not sound as if the music’s source could be too far off. And even if it were, what had Allyn to lose by turning to follow it? So follow he did, over the weighty, flat land, through the sharp, colorless wood, until the trees thinned almost to ending, and Allyn could make out the lawn beyond, and the people gathered upon it.

Such people! And yet at first, Allyn was hardly aware of them, so enthralled was he by the sound of their music. High and sweet as the love songs of courting birds, the melody of pipes and flutes lilted through the air. Beneath, an aural tapestry of lusty color and texture, woven by the strings. The light percussive beat of drums and bells kept the frolicsome time to which the men and women danced around a leaping fire, and it was their dancing that made Allyn-a-Dale take note of them at last.

[…] No humans he had ever seen could dance as these people could — so full of spirited, easy grace, in spite of this ground which pulled so hard. And yet, if they were not human, then Allyn could not begin to guess what they were. Not winds, from his limited experience; the evening air held calm around them. Nor was there any golden glow of the Sun in them, though Allyn might have conceded a touch of starlight about their night-dark skin. And what, Allyn wondered, as his gaze focused in closer to their ethereal faces, was he supposed to make of their ears? One and all, their ears tapered up into a dainty, leaf-like point.

…No, not all. There was one among them whose ears were wholly unremarkable — or, in the context of the others with her, quite the opposite. Her lithe figure danced along the inner circle of the lawn, her gown swirling just out of reach of the fire. Her long curls fell around her in a dark cascade, nearly black but for the subtle sheen of gold the firelight revealed. Her eyes, too, were of darkest gold, and all but caused Allyn to gasp aloud when he realized they were staring right at him.

Her look was difficult to understand. She appeared neither surprised to see the youth watching from the wood, nor in any way offended. She did not even appear curious. The look she gave him seemed to say, “I see you” — nothing more. And Allyn hadn’t the least idea how he was meant to react.

“Go over there and introduce yourself, of course,” he could hear Father say. “Give her the ol’ minstrel hello!”

The minstrel hello, Allyn repeated, lips twitching their way into something betwixt a smile and a grimace of exasperation. Is there anything that minstrels do not have in a category all to themselves?

“Nothing at all,” Father’s voice laughed. “We’re special that way.”

Allyn shook his head. I’ll not force myself upon festivities to which I’ve not been expressly invited, he thought. However, we might see what may be done in the way of a minstrel hello.

After first pulling a little further back into the trees, his bashful spirit still unsure whether he truly wanted his presence known, Allyn withdrew his lute from its place at his back. Then, his heart’s rhythm aligned to the drums of the sharp-eared folk, their harmonies washing over and through him like a gentle rain, softly — reverentially — he began to join in their song.

Could they hear it, he wondered? Or sense it, this new line of lutesong threading its way through the established tapestry of the strings? If yes, would they welcome it? If no, would he care? If all he did tonight was become a part of the music — if not a part of the company of music-makers — and no one anywhere but he himself was aware of it, would that not, if only for these few minutes, be enough?

Here I am, new world, his fingers played his shy minstrel hello. Wherever I am, I’m here.

As available here = https://society6.com/product/here-i-am-new-world_mug#s6-4369596p30a27v199
As available here = https://society6.com/everonword

And we, too, can say “hello” to the new, magical world of Avalon Faire in just one! More! Week!


Ballad Cover, front 02

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.

Coming July 12!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!

To the Wail and Beyond

What is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

It’s the final day of the blog tour for “Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”! – the latest anthology from Xchyler Publishing, featuring my own “Date Due”, my bestie for life’s “Of Mice and Monsters”, and the works of a whopping ten other word-slinging types.

As one of the authors included in the collection, I’ve not bothered to write up a review of my own. But my main character in “Date Due” gave a running commentary of the book for the Halloween-y “Fortnight of Fright” blog hop, and our reading tastes may share some overlap here and there. Check it out at your leisure!

Here and now, however, the spotlight’s on fellow author F.M. Longo, the man behind the anthology’s “Shrine of Mirrors”. One quick Q&A with F.M., comin’ atcha!

Beyond the Wail, Banner

What is your preferred writing genre?

Mystery – because everything I write turns into one. Actually, you can create a mystery in any other genre – paranormal mysteries, romantic mysteries, historical mysteries.

How does writing impact other parts of your life?

It’s the other parts of my life that impacts my writing. I have a solid hour between 4am and 5am every morning to write. After that, I may get 5-10 minutes a couple times a day to add a few lines to my work in progress.

What are some of your other published works?

My earliest published works date to the mid-1980s, and were computer science topics such as “Generating Square-Roots using Newton’s Method,” “Approximating PI with a Buffon’s Needle Simulation,” and “Principles of Parsing Computer Languages”. After that, most of my articles were on photography and music, and then, in the early 2000s, about 100 articles on the history of food.

What is your advice to writers?

Find your own voice. If your writing sounds like you speak, then you’re there. If it sounds like someone else is speaking, go back and rewrite it. Don’t change your voice because it’s more marketable, or closer to what a specific market is looking for; find the market that matches your voice.

What’s up next for you?

I began a new short story series, this time set in contemporary Tokyo. It falls into paranormal territory and, yes, they’re mysteries. There’s two stories so far, and I haven’t gotten around to polishing them up for submission yet. Soon.

Beyond the Wail, The Authors

About F.M. Longo:

F.M. Longo grew up surrounded by books. He started his own personal book collection at the age of seven, filling his shelves with The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, Jr. It wasn’t long before he read his way through the entire works of Christie, Queen, Sayers, Gardner, and Wolfe. He started working in commercial kitchens from the age of fifteen, but he traded his whites for a blue pin-striped suit when he started working in Lower Manhattan, developing financial and communications software for banks, brokerages and other Wall Street companies. He later went back to the kitchen, working as the banquet chef for a large resort, and later, as the executive chef and general manager at a fine-dining restaurant. He is also an accomplished jazz drummer, playing professionally for many years. Now retired, he advises non-profit groups in his area on publicity and advertising. Originally from Stratford, CT, where his four children and seven grandchildren still reside, he currently lives in Woodbury, CT.

Facebook ~ Twitter

Beyond the Wail, Availability


If you haven’t already (or if, what the hey, you wanna do it again), grab an e-book or paperback today! Also, it’s the last day to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and potentially win awesome stuff. So go get ‘em, tiger!

If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour, worry not: I’ve got your schedule hookup below. Peruse as you will. And to any and all who have thus far read “Beyond the Wail”, THAAAAANK YOU. Double thanks if you drop a review somewhere! ^_^


Saturday, Oct. 10 = Danielle E. Shipley (that’s me!)





Sunday, Oct. 11 = Alex McGilvery





Monday, Oct. 12 = T.N. Payne





Tuesday, Oct. 13 = Ginger C. Mann




Beyond the Wail prizes 2
More prizes!


Wednesday, Oct. 14 = L.K. McIntosh





Thursday, Oct. 15 = Jay Barnson




Friday, Oct. 16 = A. F. Stewart





Saturday, Oct. 17 = Amanda Banker





Sunday, Oct. 18 = Julie Barnson





Monday, Oct. 19 = Sebastian Bendix

Beyond the Wail prizes 3
Ever more prizes!





Tuesday, Oct. 20 = Tirzah Duncan




Wednesday, Oct. 21 = F.M. Longo

https://everonword.wordpress.com/ (you are here!)



Beyond the Wail prizes 4

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.)


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.)


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.


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

Go West, Steampunks!


Xchyler Publishing’s first collection of Steampunked classics mined inspiration from the literary treasures of Europe. Now another lineup of authorial talent is back for book two, this time looking across the Atlantic to find their muse.

Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology” launches this weekend, and its blog tour is in full swing. Welcome to my stop, featuring both my review of the anthology and a fun Q&A with one of its authors, M. Irish Gardner!



Meet an MMAA Author!

M. Irish Gardner

A day-dreamer at heart, M. Irish Gardner has dabbled in imaginary worlds from Day One and developed an incurable addiction when she finally began recording her ideas. Her bachelor’s degree in recreation management does nothing for her writing, but she sure knows how to play. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two daughters, and all the characters in her head. Gardner’s first published work, “Reformation,” appeared in A Dash of Madness: A Thriller Anthology.

Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

Share how you came up with the concept for your story? 

This is actually the first time I’ve started a story without a full concept in mind. I found Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A Charm Invests a Face”, and decided to create a story around that. Cyborgs are popular in steampunk. And everyone loves a good gypsy character, so I rolled with it.

Any other published works? 

My only other work is “Reformation” in A Dash of Madness, released June 2013.

What is your preferred writing genre?

I have found that every story I write must have some element of romance in it!

And preferred reading genre?

I love stories that incorporate romance, adventure, suspense, and fantasy, all in one neat little (or big) bundle!


What are your top 3 favorite books?

The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter series

Do you have any particular writing habits?

I like to use alliteration, if that’s what you mean. I also tend to mix up idioms…

Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?

Nope. I’ve learned that my words sound much better than they actually are when music is playing. I have to work in silence so I really “hear” the words.

Panster or plotter?

Short stories – pantser. Full-novels – plotter.

Advice for writers?

Read, then practice. Read, then practice. And don’t give up.

What’s up next for you?

I have a non-fiction piece I’m just wrapping up. It’s about a woman who became very ill while pregnant with her second child and spent three months in the hospital. When she left, she was a triple amputee and blind. She’s been wanting to write her story for six long years, so I was really happy that she asked me to help her. I’m hoping her book will be released in 2015, but we still haven’t finalized a publisher.

Who would you cast for your main characters and why?

Romain Duris

I actually don’t have a solid image in my head for my heroine, but my hero is totally Romain Duris. I was searching online for “French actors” to get an idea of what my character would look like, and as soon as I saw him, I said, “YEP! That’s him!” 😀 I’ve attached the picture I used for inspiration while writing. I think it would inspire anyone…

Author Favorite Things:

– Quote = “Falling flat on your face is still moving forward.”

– TV show = Oh, too hard to choose! I love The Musketeers, Firefly, Vikings, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Chuck, Dexter, Lost, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, New Girl, and many more. Maybe I should watch less and write more!

– Comic book character = I’ve always had a thing for Batman.

– Movie = The Last of the Mohicans

– Candy bar = Three Musketeers

– Junk food = I’m a total sucker for Starbucks hot chocolate and their slow roasted ham and Swiss!

– Place you visited = I was blown away by the Washington coast last summer, but I think Havasu Falls, AZ still beats them all!

– Restaurant = I love good comfort food, so I have many Italian, Mexican, and American favorite places to eat. I had fantastic Indian food last spring in California, though!

– Island = No man is a…?

Thanks, Ms. Gardner! And now, onto…


I had the pleasure of reading this book well in advance of its publication – and a genuine pleasure it was. The assembled authors rose to the creative challenge of turning classic works of American prose and poetry into steam-powered stories to stand on their own.

Of course, sometimes the nostalgia of a familiar premise worked in a tale’s favor; my enthusiasm for the recent TV adaptation of the Sleepy Hollow legend and fond feelings for the cozy cast of Louisa May Alcott’s best-known work further enhanced my enjoyment of Jay Barnson’s “The Van Tassel Legacy” and Neve Talbot’s “West End”, respectively. The fact that I’m a sucker for a charming con game made D. Lee Jortner’s “Payoff for Air-Pirate Pete” and M. K. Wiseman’s “The Silver Scam” a pair of easy wins for me. And if you like your adventure accompanied by automatons with personality, “A Princess of Jasoom” by J. Aurel Guay is the perfect anthology opener.

Whether you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickenson, the sea beasts of Herman Melville and Jules Vernes or the sled dogs of Jack London, or just a reader who likes a good book with a bit of clockwork flavor, this second volume of Mechanized Masterpieces has the makings of a classic in its own right.


Preorder now, join the Release Party on Facebook this Saturday, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Tour Schedule:

February 22 – A Princess of Jasoom by J. Aurel Guay





February 23 – Winged Hope by Megan Oliphant




February 23 – The Van Tassel Legacy by Jay Barnson




February 24 – Invested Charm by M. Irish Gardner





February 25 – Payoff for Air Pirate Pete by D. Lee Jortner





February 26 – Rise of the House of Usher by J.R. Potter




February 26 – The Silver Scams by M. K. Wiseman




February 27 – Nautilus Redux by Scott E. Tarbet




February 27 – Mr. Thornton by Scott William Taylor




February 28 – West End by Neve Talbot




A Book’s First Breath

If you’ve read my latest Wilderhark Tale (or snuck a preview of the next installment in the series), you know I love me some fantastic elementals. For that reason, the opening story in upcoming fantasy anthology “The Toll of Another Bell” struck a particular chord with me.

For my stop on the “Toll” blog tour, I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with that story’s creator. Give it up, readers all, for Jodi L. Milner, author of “Breath”!


Me: Regale us with the tale of your decision to submit to Xchyler Pub’s fantasy anthology. Did you have the idea for “Breath” in mind beforehand, or did you craft it especially for the contest’s theme: “Out of This World… True Story”?

Jodi: “Breath” was one of those stories that flowed out of the ether back in 2013. I had to write it down but then didn’t know what to do with it. When I saw Xchyler’s call for entries for their fantasy line I felt it was worth a try, and I’m super glad I did. Being part of the X team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing career.

Me: Which of your story’s characters is your favorite? …shows up most clearly in your head? …was easiest/most difficult to write?

Jodi: Wow, this is tricky. Each of my characters represents one of the world’s creative elements, earth, wind, water, fire, and life. If forced to pick, I’d say my favorite of the bunch is Terran, the earth guardian. He’s the strong silent type, and I find those very appealing. The most fun to write were the twins, Ventus and Aquata, the air and water guardians. Fauna, the main character was the hardest to write because I felt enormous pressure to make her emotional responses feel authentic.

Me: Your own contribution aside, which of the stories from “The Toll of Another Bell” did you most enjoy reading?

Jodi: Again, that’s tough. Each story is so very different that it would be unfair to select a favorite. In this anthology you can find everything from whimsy to horror, and so many different facets in between. The writing is excellent (if I’m allowed to judge) and reading through its pages is a journey that will not soon be forgotten.

Me: Is “Breath” your debut published work?

Jodi: Yes, “Breath” is my first baby to grow wings and take flight and it has been so thrilling that I can’t wait to publish again.

Me: Whilst creeping on one of your blogs, I saw you’ve got a trilogy planned – the Stonebearer Series. What can you tell us about that? ^^

Jodi Milner 200x274

Jodi: I think most authors have that one project in the background that they always keep working at with hopes that one day their talent will grow to match the ambition and scope required to do it justice. The Stonebearer Series is mine.  It is my first serious attempt at writing an epic fantasy novel series and hopefully one day I’ll feel it’s ready to be published as well.  The story itself is wrapped around a world where a secret society of immortal magic users is challenged by a demon who threatens to push it into extinction.

Author Bio:

Jodi Milner lives among the most epic vistas of the Rocky Mountains in Utah and uses them for inspiration when writing fantasy. When not shepherding her children, she dreams of magic and getting a good night’s sleep. She’s published fiction and poetry in the online literary magazine Soft Whispers.

Website | Blog | Facebook Twitter Google + | Goodreads |LinkedIn Pinterest

Jodi L. Milner, one talent of many (including yours truly) featured in “The Toll of Another Bell”!

For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic!
^ For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic! ^


The book is currently up for preorder! There’s a tour-wide giveaway happening here and now, and the anthology’s Release Party is this Saturday; I hope to see you all there for the fun and games!