Beautiful Books (and the Big Ideas Behind Them)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Beautiful Books Meme

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

I enjoyed taking part in the Beautiful People meme, that one time in August, and I’ve enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month several times, though not this year. Fortunately, you don’t need a NaNo project to take part in Beautiful Books. Any story in progress will do. So I’m jumping in with my debut novel, scheduled to re-release in a brand new edition, March of next year – “Inspired”!

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Cover w Text 06.3, front

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve got brainstorming notes on the earliest iterations of “Inspired” going back to May 2011, and the first draft came out over the following December. The spark behind it all started around the NaNo before, when my (brand new, at the time!) best friend and I created the Stranger Than Truth club. Originally, the novel was going to feature not just one author navigating the fictional realm, but two, imagining in tandem. And there’s still room for that to happen, if I ever get around to a sequel centering on that. I just felt there was a lot of groundwork to lay down first.

Describe what your novel is about!

Happy days – I’ve got a blurb ready. ^o^

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Oh, the “Inspired” gallery on my website may have a few applicable images…

PhotoFunia-Luc and Jean

Inspired, Only the Beginning, 02

Inspired Avengers

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Whoof, there’s a lot, so let’s restrict it to three words each:

Lucianíel = That lightbulb moment

Abishan = Just… total cat

Wilbur = Chivalrous sweetie pie

Uri = Entirely judging you

Yves= Smol, with secrets

Annabelle = Danielle E. Shipley

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Step 1 = Talk to myself in a Word document until I’ve got a fairly solid idea of the book’s shape.

Step 2 = Outline chapter by chapter, to ensure every puzzle piece gets slotted in somewhere.

Sometimes, Step 3 (or 1-and-a-half, or at whatever point on the list I feel thus compelled) = Ask the characters questions so that I can begin to hear their voices in the answers.

Cover 2 w Text, front

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Since it’s already been written and published once, at this point I’m just eager to have it back on the market again – and with such a beautiful new face! Plus this time, it comes out with a sequel. I’m always excited to give the world something brand new to read. ^o^

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Oh, perfect, ‘cause there are three different settings.

1 = The Material Plane – aka, the real world. Like Annabelle’s home, inspired by the house where Childhood Me used to visit my dad’s family over Thanksgiving.

2 = The Immaterial Plane – aka, the world of imagination. Where muses live, and where some characters may choose to hang out, if they’re self-aware enough to know they’ve got an author’s mind to roam.

3 = Book Worlds. The intersection of material and immaterial. Fictional, yes, but no less real to the people who inhabit the story. One of “Inspired”s special charms is that it offers a glimpse into several.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Boiled down to one word, Luc’s main goal = security. In this, Annabelle is both a tool and an obstacle, because while she’s willing to be the author for Luc and his loved ones, she’s basically just in it for the fun. Clash of motivations. Expect fireworks.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Nothing like putting in the time on the craft to mature an artist! Not that Annabelle doesn’t still have plenty of growing up to do by novel’s end, but you can see she’s getting there.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Themes… How ideas are planted… How stories grow… How people can blossom, with a little help from their friends – real, imaginary, and in between… As for how I want readers to feel at novel’s end, how else? Of course I want them to walk away inspired.

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And that is that! Related note: I am currently seeking folks interested in providing an early read ‘n’ review of “Inspired”. Is that you? Talk to me!

Over, out, and good luck to any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year. ^o^

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A Bit of Beauty in the Midst of My Mess

I could be posting about the massive transitions going down in my life, these days. Or I could finally get around to posting the [currently half-written] call-out review I promised back in my Printer’s Row recap. Or I could try to ignore all these sources of stress and do that one thing I actually enjoy: Sharing stuff about my characters. :DDD

C’mon, I gotta go with that one. I found a meme and everything!

Beautiful People Meme

How the Beautiful People meme works, according to Cait @ Paper Fury:

If you’ve never joined in before, THERE ARE NO RULES!! Haha, just kidding. There are rules which basically include (a) link back to this post, (b) include the blog button somewhere in your post, and (c) consider life as a werewolf.

Done, done, and… wow, as life-altering disorders go, lycanthropy would probably not be the worst.

Anyhow, there are character questions to answer! And I hope y’all have been good little DEShipley fans and read Outlaws of Avalon 2, because I’m giving the spotlight to one of the new residents of Avalon Faire, Loren McCaughley, circa right before Book 3 opens.

So Loren, if I may…

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

“Robin Hood books,” she confesses. “It’s actually horrible. Put a new tale in my line of vision (or an old tale I’ve read a zillion times), and all is lost – most notably, my sense of time and productivity.”

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

“I’ll handle this one,” Marion Hood volunteers, because gal pal privileges. “Positives: Unapologetic sense of self, good work ethic when it comes to her areas of interest – (you should see her progress in lute and quarterstaff!) – and, as all Merry Men must be, she’s a jolly team player. Hmm, as for what I’ve observed of the negative side… Has a tendency to let problems go farther than she should before properly addressing them with the appropriate party. Views the world through a bit of a self-centered lens, on the whole. And, well, she’s an actor. You know how they are.”

Loren snorts. “Says she who’s spent the last 30-some summers doing what, now?”

“Um, playing Maid Marion?” she laughs. “I’d hardly call that acting.”

“A Faire point.”

(Seeing what Loren did there, Marion throws up the finger guns.)

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

Loren shrugs. “Maybe the odd delusional fantasy or two. But come on, I’m already living in a hidden Faerie land, married to a superhuman from another dimension. Why shouldn’t I someday get the chance to rob somebody on the forest highway, too? Apart from the law, which would obviously be outside the point.”

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

“Where does an organized semi-mess fall? I’ll take a 6.”

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

“Do you know how hard it is to not tell my sister that I hang out with the actual Robin Hood?!”

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

“Well I mean, that depends on the venue. First non-date with Allyn versus first date-for-realsies – totally different looks for totally different destinations. But in general, probably dark jeans (or jeggings, let’s not pretend), shoes with some shine to ‘em, a flowy top, and moderate bling. If we’re not leaving the house, I vote jammie bottoms and nerdy tees.”

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

“A few dressy flats, some basic sneakers. WAY too many boots. Same with the sandals.”

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

“No pets, though at this point, I’d take a unicorn.”

Legend proofIs there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

“Ugh. Probably. But according to Marion, I’m not likely ready to deal with it. We’ll see if anything explodes in Book 3.”

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

“Takeout leftovers. I am here for reheated whatever, so long as somebody else made it. The kitchen is not my domain.”

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Thank you, Loren! (And Marion, briefly. ;D) And for the readers currently going, “Man, I really gotta get caught up on the Outlaws books,” you’re not wrong! Only two months ‘til the trilogy concludes with “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. Which means, oh boy, I better get crackin’ on sweeping through my proof copy. …in addition to everything else on my plate. I’ll keep you guys informed once I scrape together the wherewithal. Ciao for now!