“Gapeseed” or “Hole-ier Than Thou”

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, since I’ve gotten in the habit of having my vignettes all pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t pop over here real quick and post it for the blog-inclined to see, too!

So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day.

The theme: Earlobes.

The word: “Gapeseed”, a noun meaning “anything that causes stares; or someone who stares”.

The example: Robin followed Allyn’s focused gaze across the lawn toward the ethereal figures dancing in firelight beneath the stars, and chuckled. “The Faeries will make a gapeseed of anyone, eh?”

Allyn came out of his reverie. “Pardon?”

“The Fey folk,” Robin repeated. “A captivating sight.”

“No.” Allyn shook his head. “I mean, yes, they are. Breathtaking. It’s only… many of them wear earrings.”

Robin’s head tipped in puzzlement. “Yes… and?”

The shadow of a furrow appeared between Allyn’s brows. “With their healing magic going strong enough to keep a Faire full of violently killed men alive and whole, how do they manage to maintain punctures for jewelry in their earlobes?”

“Um.” Robin blinked. “…It’s magic?”

“Perhaps I’ll ask one of them,” Allyn said, his attention once more on the Avalon natives’ fluid movement. “If my breath returns to me at their dance’s end.”

“Scarlet” or “Give Him an Inch, and He’ll Talk a Mile a Minute”

Today’s Buccaneer Blogfest mission, if I choose to accept it (and I do), is a bit of merriment known as the character interview.

People who’ve been around the blog a few times know that conversations with characters are right up my alley; I’ve even let a few of them guest blog for me. (Thanks again, Bruno, Allyn, and Lute.) And once I’d done that… well, I kind of sealed my fate.

Y’see, I’ve got this character. Goes by the name of Will Scarlet. Perhaps you’ve seen him on the “Ballad” page. Harder not to have seen him, if you follow the page. He’s a talker, an attention hog, and has been begging me to let him have his own blog for months. That’s not happening. I don’t have the time. But since I’ll be sitting down for a chat with a character today, it may as well be him. (I’d not soon hear the end of it, otherwise.)

Better cut this introduction short, since I know his answers won’t be. Scarlet, come on down!

Will: Yes! Right! Awesome! Hello, everyone, you all look beautiful – I mean that!

Me: You can’t see them.

Will: Maybe I meant “beautiful on the inside”. It’s not all about looks, Danielle, no matter how hot mine are. So! What questions have you got for me?

Me: Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit – A LITTLE BIT, Will – about who you are?

Will: I’m an outlaw undercover at a Renaissance Faire that’s actually Avalon. (Y’know, Arthurian legend? That Avalon.) Anyway, back to me, I’m one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men. Yes, THE Robin Hood. I’m his cousin, as well as his left-hand man, you might say, since Little John snagged the title of right-hand man, and I’m left-handed anyway, so that all works out. I’m also the brains of the group.

Me: Really, Will? You’re actually claiming that?

Will: Well, I mean, not that the others aren’t smart, too. Robin with his leadership savvy, and Marion all on top of interpersonal relations, and Allyn the musical genius, and Little John… well, he’s just big, isn’t he? Intelligent enough, but mostly huge. And quiet. It’s creepy. And okay, so I don’t always act like the brains of the band – or even necessarily like I’ve got a brain in my head. But I totally do! I’d like to see any of the others think up half the stuff I do! Who do they turn to when they need a plan fast? You’re looking at him. Particularly if it’s to do with the Outsiders—

Me: Hold right there. Tell us about the Outsiders.

Will: What? Oh. You know. You people. The modern folks who live outside of Avalon. The awesome ones with computers. Sure, Merlin’s got a computer, too, but what good does that do me? He never lets me use it. I need an iPhone.

Me: Okay, we’re quickly losing the thread of it. Let’s back it up. Now, my dictionary defines “scarlet” as “a strong to vivid red or reddish orange” or “flagrantly immoral or unchaste”. Any of this come into play when you chose your outlaw name?

Will: The red bit, mostly. I love red; so bright and expensive. And my hair’s got some scarlet blended in with the gold, so that’s all very apt. As for flagrant immorality and unchastity—

Me: Not a word.

Will: Coining it. —Well, it’s a bit of a “yes and no”, there. I can be a gentleman, when absolutely necessarily. When it’s not, then God save you. All in good fun, though, you understand.

Me: Yeah, that’d be a “yes and no”, too. Next question: What do you like best about being in the Merry Men?

Will: Um, being awesome? Come on, look at this gig: I got to be a thief led and sanctioned by the most honorable man I know; I get to be practically immortal (did you know that, readers? By virtue of dying a heroic death back in the Middle Ages, and with a little help from Avalonian magic, I get to be eternally young forever! #Winning!); I get to play myself in a Renaissance Faire; I look really good; I—

Me: What does looking good have to do with being a Merry Man?

Will: I don’t know, maybe not much. But muscles developed in fighting for our lives have to help, right? And the glow of fame?

Me: Sure, Will. Last question: Why do you think people should read “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, once it’s published? …Besides the fact that you’re in it.

Will: Ha-ha! Preempted! Well, how about this: Action! Adventure! Mystery! Suspense! Magic and music, witty dialogue, and an all-star cast (naming no names in particular, apparently). I had a rousing time living it, so they’re bound to love reading it. Plus Allyn’s in it. I can mention Allyn, right? He’s not me, and he’s awesome.

Me: Yes, mentioning Allyn is fine. Thanks for your time, Will. It’s been… breathless.

Will: Yes, I do tend to have that effect on women. Pleasure mine, Danielle. Great to be here. An honor just to be nominated.

Me: …Right.

Once everyone out there finds a space to slip a word in edgewise, if you have any additional questions or comments for Will, toss ‘em below. He’ll be only too happy to respond.


This word has two meanings, each equally apt. It means “Christmas” – which, of course, is today. And it means “a Christmas carol” – which, of course, is a song; but it’s also a novella by the well-known English author, Charles Dickens.

            For all that I tend to avoid Dickens’ big, gloomy books, I love his noel. It is neither big nor gloomy, but quick and delightfully stuffed with Christmas spirit (or rather, Christmas spirits – three of them, not to mention the ghost of Jacob Marley).

            Heavily influenced by this 19th-century tale, and featuring the main cast from my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, I give to you “A Merry Christmas Carol”!

* * *

I – Merlin’s Dream

Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He knew it? Not right away. How could one expect him to? Certainly, he was, at one point, aware of getting into bed with the intention of falling asleep soon after. But there is often a period in slumber – sometimes spanning its entire duration, from fuzzy beginning to bleary end – when the one doing the slumbering is quite ignorant of the fact that he is not truly living the events his mind would have him believe he is. Let it be restated here, however, that Merlin was very much asleep. This must be distinctly understood, for, if we were not perfectly convinced that what immediately follows this expository paragraph was the beginning of an extended dream sequence, we would likely find ourselves every bit as confused as was, initially, the man doing the dreaming.

            “A merry Christmas, uncle!”

            Merlin looked up from his paperwork, brows the same silvery gray as the beard hanging low from his chin drawn down in irritated surprise. “Excuse me?”

            “A merry Christmas, I say!” cried the young man again, his handsome, ruddy face aglow with smiles for the ancient wizard behind the desk on the low dais at the office’s rear. “And God save you!”

            “That he save me from your foolishness, Mr. Scarlet, is my daily prayer,” said Merlin, glowering over his spectacles. “What’s all this ‘uncle’ business? And what in the world are you supposed to be dressed like?”

            “Oh, this?” said Will Scarlet, tipping his top hat to a subtly more rakish angle over his red-gold hair. The accessory added an air of style to the outfit which included a vaguely shabby dress coat (burgundy red) and heavy woolen scarf (faded vermillion) informally tossed over one shoulder. “Isn’t it a riot?” he grinned. “Just screams ‘nineteenth-century man aboutLondon’. I thought it the very thing to wear Out caroling this evening!”

            “Out caroling?” Merlin repeated, disbelieving.

            “Yes, you know – going house to house, cheery candles raised high, singing jolly tunes and being offered warming treats like cider and chocolate and cookies and figgy pudding, one can only hope,” he laughed, “since goodness knows we won’t go until we get some!…”

            “Nonsense!” Merlin cut him off curtly.

            Will’s brilliant blue eyes blinked in astonishment. “Christmas caroling nonsense, uncle! You don’t mean that, I’m sure?”

            “I do.”

            “But it’s Christmas Eve!”

            “Yes, I am in possession of a calendar,” said Merlin. “But I don’t see what the day has to do with your going Outside to torture people with your attempts to carry a tune, let alone your insistence on naming me your uncle. You know perfectly well that you’ll not be leaving the Faire – not for caroling, nor for any reason short of a dire emergency of the sort we faced this past summer.”

            Will’s lips puckered into the beginnings of a pout. “Why not?”

            The wizard’s pale blue gaze was hard and sharp as flint. “Really, Mr. Scarlet?”

            “All right, all right, I know your so-called reasons why. Maintenance of secrecy, avoidance of death, so forth and etc. You don’t have to be so cross about it.”

            “Don’t have to be so cross about it…” Merlin muttered, halfway to himself. “What else can I be, when I live in a world with such a fool as this? If you don’t have anything more important to speak of than empty plans and ‘merry Christmas’, then good afternoon.”

            “It would be a great deal of fun, you know,” Will Scarlet wheedled.

            “Good afternoon,” Merlin said again.

            “I don’t see the harm in our going, just this one night. It needn’t be far, it wouldn’t be long… and you know you’d be invited to come along, right? You’re what, a baritone? I’m sure we could work out some killer harmonies…”

            “Good afternoon.”

            Will sighed. “I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute and so much the definition of a spoilsport. But I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last (with little thanks to you). So a Merry Christmas, uncle!”

            “Good afternoon.”

            “And a Happy New Year!”

            “GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Merlin bellowed.

            “Getting out of your office,” Will said cheerfully, already tripping backward to the door. “Good afternoon, by the way.” Pitching his voice a little louder and past Merlin, he called, “Season’s Greetings, Gawain!”

            “And to you, Mr. Scarlet,” came the courteous reply.

            Merlin turned, startled. He hadn’t known anyone else to be in the room. And strictly speaking, no one was. In the wall to the right of the dais, a doorway opened into a dim little cell of a room which, to Merlin’s knowledge, had not been there as recently as five minutes ago. Inside the room, hunched over a guttering candle on a desk of his own – and, it seemed, striving valiantly not to shiver with cold – was the aforementioned knight of Camelot, arrayed rather as if he meant to evoke a nineteenth-century drudge about town.

            “Sir Gawain,” Merlin barked. “What do you think you’re doing, back there?”

            Gawain glanced over, his broad face professionally placid, as was his habit. “Copying letters, sir.”

            Since when was letter-copying in a nonexistent closet a part of a knight’s job description? Merlin had just drawn breath to demand an explanation when another man burst into the office, an eruption of woodland brown and green from head to hood to shirt to hose. Finally, Merlin thought; someone dressed like a normal person.

* * *

(For the continuation of the tale we’ve only just begun, please follow the merry link to the full note on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page. If I haven’t the chance to tell you again before you and my words part ways, Merry Christmas! ~Deshipley )

“Sequel 2”

From the blogger who brought you “Name”… “Read”… and the blockbusting masterpiece “Homeschool… comes a continuation of the commentary on continuation itself. “Sequel” is back – and this time… it’s a sequel.

            Clearly, the end of my last blog piece on this topic didn’t feel like The End. There was another aspect of this “story” that I felt merited discussion – namely, the experience of writing a sequel versus its original.

            As of this piece’s typing up, I am in the middle (or, well, maybe in the first third) of drafting a sequel to the novel that demands near-future publication, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. I wrote “Ballad” as my project for my first-ever National Novel Writing Month. For someone who typically took a couple of months to craft a twenty-five- to forty-thousand word novel, cranking out 50K in thirty days or less proved an appealing and only slightly daunting challenge. “Ballad”s production was a wild ride, my untried characters and I flying along together by the seats of our pants and hosen, with naught but a lengthily drawn-up plot outline to keep us careening down a fairly straight course. It was great fun, and I immensely enjoyed collaborating with my Merry Men for what I expected would probably remain a standalone book.

            Then, in the following months, I, the Men, my writing buddy Tirzah, as well as a growing number of various other characters of hers and mine, took to chillin’ out in an immaterial Sherwood Forest together. The place turned out to be kind of a hotspot for character growth (much to my bullheaded chagrin… and Tailor and Tirzah’s delight). Allyn-a-Dale, in particular, underwent some remarkable evolution, and I had occasion to delve deeper into the psyche certain other members of the outlaw band, also. It eventually got to the point where to not write a second book and share some of this stuff with “Ballad”s future fans would be a literary sin (and that’s not authorial arrogance speaking, that’s Tirzah shouting), so here I am today, trying to make a sequel happen.

            Is writing a sequel easier than writing the original? Some aspects of it can be. Certainly, characterization may come more easily, since I’ve already got some time with most of the cast under my belt. And if I haven’t spent too much time away from the preceding work, then getting back into the rhythm and tone of it for another round will tend to be less problematic than the often rocky start of a completely new project. But on the flipside, I’ve got the additional pressure of wanting to make the sequel good. Bare minimum, on par with its predecessor; ideally, even better. The challenge set before me is to make this second installment feel both agreeably familiar and delightfully new.

            And as I embark on the creation of what I’ve codenamed “Ballad 2”, that’s exactly what it feels like.

            It feels great to hang around Avalon Faire again (and beyond?… You better believe it!). It’s a joy to listen to Allyn think and speak in graceful poetry, and to get high off of Will Scarlet’s incurable enthusiasm. It’s exciting, knowing the curveballs I’m planning to throw at the Sherwood gang, and having no idea what sort of curveballs they’ll end up winging right back at me! Hey for the writing process! (…I cheer, tossing my immaterial cap in the air.)

            Now that I’ve gotten myself good and wound up, I’m going to call this blog piece a wrap and get back to where I left a pair of my outlaws about to get into some misguided monkeyshines. Until next time, readers!

            To be continued?…