The Mark of an Outlaw

Two things.

1 = Y’know “Manifest Reality”? That horror anthology that came out on Valentine’s Day and features a ~daaaark~  little story by yours truly? Well, today the 24th through Friday the 27th, you can nab an e-copy for F R E E ! Dooo it! Tell your friends! And if, once you’ve read the book, you could do all the authors therein a solid by leaving a review, that would be beautiful of you.❤

2 = Speaking of e-books, the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” pre-order campaign is still going!

For those who’ve forgotten or hadn’t heard, a quick rundown of what that means:

Step 1: Hit up Amazon, Smashwords, and/or Barnes & Noble and make your early purchase of a “Ballad” e-book – yours to read the instant Release Day hits on July 12. (Also distributed through Kobo and Apple iBooks, if that’s your jam.)

Step 2: E-mail me at Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net with

2a) proof of your “Ballad” e-book purchase (a receipt or screenshot of such will suffice), and

2b) the address to which you would like me to mail your very own print of the Avalon Faire map.

Step 3: Reap your thank-you goodies (i.e, the outlaw-signed map and an exclusive Smashwords coupon to pass along to a friend).

*Offer good through July 5, 2016 (one week ‘til Release Day)*

To those who have already taken advantage of this offer, first of all, THANK YOU! Second, you will get your maps! They are already signed and ready to go in addressed envelopes! It’s just that my post office situation is absurdly complicated right now, so it’s taking way longer than I’d like to get them shipped your way. No one’s more irritated about this than me, but you have my word: The maps will be sent. …maybe around the time Arthur ushers in the second age of Camelot, I don’t know…

But hey, you don’t have to wait ‘til then to see what the maps’ signatures will look like!

Because that is today’s special treat from Ever On Word to you. ^o^

Finding each of the Merry Men’s personal autographs would have been a daunting challenge – (what do I know about handwriting? I’ll probably get investigated for badly forging my own signature, one day) – if not for an assist from a fictional friend. You [barely] know him as Gilbert, the genius coloring book artist who everyone wants to marry. He was gracious enough to both figure out the outlaw band’s writing styles and provide commentary on what each signature says about the character behind it. So without any more ado…

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Robin Hood

“A bold, sure ‘R’ to establish his mark, followed by a merely suggestive scrawl for the remaining letters. Were it a charitable work done for another, he’d give it more care all the way through to the end, but he never dwells long on himself. No ‘Hood’ or lordly last name present, as he doesn’t see himself in terms of the names given him by others. Inside, he has ever been simply Robin.”

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Marion Hood

“In contrast, Marion strongly claims and identifies with ‘Hood’ and its associations – wife to Robin, member of Sherwood’s most honorable outlaws, eschewer of decorous noble life in favor of all of the above. Her writing is a legible mix of flourish and precision, grounded but ever ready to dash ahead. Overall, it speaks of balance – her own, and that which she brings to her familial band.”

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Little John

“Someone of Little John’s extraordinary size in a smaller man’s world does well to learn frugality of space. His writing demonstrates that wisdom (note the economy of two ‘T’s sharing a single crossbar) as well as a quiet protectiveness (the ‘I’ and ‘L’ sheltered beneath), and his steady, level, minimalist nature (no frills anywhere, and most letters of a comparable size / overall shape). And though everyone from his bandmates to casual fans of the Robin Hood legend call him ‘Little John’, his signature identifies him by the name he was given at birth.”

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Will Scarlet

“No, of course he can’t use a black pen like everyone else. It must be red, for the color prompts in him the same gut-level response as the sound of ‘Will’. Most of the lines are hasty and sharp, in so much of a hurry to get to the end that he’s as likely to carelessly throw in extra letters as leave them unfinished. He’s not a man of details, but of vivid impressions. But as demonstrated by the grand, showy ‘S’, he’s never too busy to display his foppish side. He’s also left-handed, which may tell you the smallest of somethings about how his brain works (while leaving the rest an unholy mystery).”

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Allyn-a-Dale

“For the band’s minstrel, a written signature is less about its visual appearance, and more about the movement of making it – the rhythm in the writing. Each letter flows one into the other, smooth and lyrical. An understated, unassuming signature, yet as full of Allyn as any song he sings.”

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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.

Pre-order today!

Band Signatures

The Face of Grace

The word on the street: Tirzah Duncan – author of vigilante tale “Cry of the Nightbird” and the chilling “Of Mice and Monsters” (Beyond the Wail paranormal anthology) – and, y’know, my homegirl since NaNo 2010 (aka The Year of the Ballad) – has a new novella up her sleeve.

Grace has always been there for her mother, ever since she was old enough to bite the legs of those thugs and leeches that called themselves lovers. Ever since she was old enough to understand the world in a way her mother never would.

Now, she comes home every winter with blood money from a year of running with a band of sellswords. No more scrounging in midden heaps and cutting purses for a low court lord to survive the lean months.

But this year, home is as dangerous as the battlefield. Tensions are running through the street courts of her old slums, while a new and daunting lover has confounded her safeguards and gotten at her mum–and now they’re all tangled in a vicious turf war.

Is one lone mercenary enough to protect her own? Can she trust anyone else to do the job?

Y’wanna see the book’s cover? Pfft, rhetorical question. You absolutely do. Because it is all-caps BOSS.

grace-the-mace-cover

See-ee-ee? I mean, the shine on that buckler alone… *standing ovation* Mad praise to the cover artist for this ridiculous masterpiece.

If you’d like to read a sneak peek of the story, you’ll find a few excerpts waiting for you on Tirzah’s blog, The Ink Caster, and scattered throughout her Tumblr, The Muse’s Thrall. And if you’re ready for the full novella (as professionally proofread by yours truly, thank you very much), then you’re in luck, because Tirzah’s aiming to launch her book baby sometime next month. So keep your eyes open as June nears. And in the meantime…

What do you think of your first look at “Grace the Mace”?

You Can’t Miss It

I made it back to Germany alive! …Which is mostly important because it means that my next novel – i.e. the first installment of my three-part love letter to the Robin Hood legend –  is still on track to release on schedule.

Fact 1: One of the very many things that makes “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” a delight of a book is… it comes with a map.

Ballad Cover, front 02

That’s right. A professionally hand-drawn fantasy map, up at the front of the book. I’m told readers go nuts for that kind of thing, so when I rubbed elbows with a mapmaker at my home Renaissance Faire – (big thanks, Jesse Kennedy!) – you better believe I commissioned him to cartographize* the magical Avalon Faire, home to Camelot’s heroes and Sherwood’s most wanted.

*(Pretend“cartograph” has a verb form.)

But why stop at a map in a book when you can have, say, a print of a map on your wall, too?

Benevolent overlord author that I am, I would like to gift you this.

I would also like to sell a heck-ton of copies of “Ballad”.

I have hopefully thought up a way to achieve both.

Fact 2: E-books of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” are **Now Available For Pre-Order**

…And those who pre-order said e-books will be rewarded.

Step 1: Hit up Amazon, Smashwords, and/or Barnes & Noble and make your early purchase of “Ballad” – yours to read the instant Release Day hits on July 12. (Also distributed through Kobo and Apple iBooks, if that’s your jam.)

Step 2: E-mail me at Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net with

2a) proof of your “Ballad” e-book purchase (a receipt or screenshot of such will suffice), and

2b) the address to which you would like me to mail your very own print of the Avalon Faire map.

Step 3: Reap your thank-you goodies.

*Offer good through July 5, 2016 (one week ‘til Release Day)*

Avalon Faire Map, sneak preview

Avalon Faire Map, sneak preview

Fact 3: You won’t get only a map…

Your prize map will be autographed by none other than Robin Hood and his merry band!

That is, it’s my hand doing the autographing, but I worked out with the band what each of their individual signatures would look like, so huzzah.

What’s more, the first 20 people to pre-order will receive a Smashwords coupon for a second “Ballad” e-book for a friend! Know somebody who you think could use more minstrelsy, magic, or Merry Men in their lives? Give them the coupon with my regards!

And if I reach 50 pre-orders? *wiggles brows* Everybody gets an additional mystery prize.

Whereas if I reach 100 pre-orders, I’ll probably ugly-cry with joy. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

What about the paperbacks?

I’d love to have those available for pre-order too, buuuuut I don’t know how to make that work. So you’ll have to wait ‘til closer to Release Day for a “Ballad” hard copy. And of course, Launch Week will come with its own giveaway prizes, so here’s looking forward to July!

In summary: Maps are awesome. I’ve got “Ballad” and maps. Tell your friends.😀

Next Day Edit: Apparently I can’t type my own e-mail address. <_< That’s Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net, folks. Apologies to anyone who may have tried to contact me without that all-important second C.

This is Only the Beginning

Everybody know what day it is?!

“Cover Reveal Day!” cries Will Scarlet.

No, that was actually two days ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts and Impressions

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

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

Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse

Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse

Annabelle detail

Annabelle detail

Abishan detail

Abishan detail

Yves detail

Yves detail

Knight detail

Knight detail

Light detail

Light detail

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

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

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

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

Less-Than-Hidden In Plain Sight

Everybody know what day it is?!

“My birthday!” cries Will Scarlet.

No, that was actually yesterday.

“The Ides of March,” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Caesar beware. But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

Elaborate fake shrugs from both. “Then we give up.” “Whatever could it be?” “The suspense!” “Oh, pray, do tell!”

You goof-nuts know perfectly well: It’s Cover Reveal Day for your very first novel!

“Noooooo!” Will gasps in delight.

“Show!” Allyn commands.

Very merrily do I…

Cover and Spine, Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale

(Pictured here: Front cover and spine)

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.

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) — a contemporary YA fantasy coming your way on July 12, 2016!

Huge thanks to Lars and Milan van de Goor for the photography and design!

You can read my thoughts on the cover (and maybe a sneak peek inside of the book itself… *wiggles brows*) via the wonderful volunteers who have joined me in sharing “Ballad”s face on their blogs. (To see me pointing and hollering thanks to them individually, watch my Twitter.) As for here and now, I’mma step aside and let certain other relevant parties share their opinions. Merry Men: Sound off!

Robin Hood

Robin Hood = “Nice,” he says, eyes a-sparkle. “Very ‘spirit of Sherwood.’ Why, the way through the woods looks good enough to commit robbery upon!”

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Marion Hood = “I love the light,” she enthuses. “You couldn’t do this book’s cover without a touch of magic, and those golden rays provide just that. Plus, how could I not love the robin?”

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Will Scarlet = “Needs more Will Scarlet,” he declares. “Preferably shirtless. Or in lieu of that, at least throw in a showy splash of red, somewhere. But I mean, if we’ve got to go in another direction, this is pretty, too. *Cough*, just not as pretty as me.”

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Little John = *silent nod of approval*

Meekest of Minstrels

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Allyn-a-Dale = “It’s the wrong lute, of course,” he murmurs, with a glance toward me. “A photograph of your instrument, not mine. But the facts aside, the book’s truth shows through rather well. Though it does not show everything – no cover could – I believe it hints at the heart. I can hear my story in it – shining in the sunlight, breezing through the trees, captured in the letterwork’s curves. The music is a match, so I am pleased.”

I could ask for no more. ^o^ …No, scratch that: I could ask that the gorgeous book be out and in readers’ hands YESTERDAY. Alas, we’ve still got a few months to wait. Feel free to add “Ballad” to your to-read list on Goodreads in the meanwhile!

So, world at large – what do YOU think of the cover and novel soon to come? Share below!

Reads and Trees (Love-a-Thon 2016, Mini-Challenge)

LoveAThon 2016

I’m back with more Love-a-Thon fun! This time, a mini-challenge:

We all love books, but there are other things we’re passionate about too! Mash-up a non-bookish hobby/passion/talent/fandom with your bookish life. Do it through photos, art, videos, etc. Get as creative as you’d like!

If there’s one thing I love the way I love books – one thing that provides me a soul-nourishing escape the way they do – it’s the forest. So for this post, I trawled Tumblr for images combining the bibliophilic with the woodsy. Here are some of my favorite finds. Enjoy!

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*

Photo credits to:

http://bibliowitch.tumblr.com/post/138683408460/went-hiking-today-and-of-course-took-my-book-along

http://evenings-inside.tumblr.com/post/138309450171

http://koffeebook.co.vu/post/139014464659

http://toxicsugarcubes.tumblr.com/post/138402323645

http://untrustworthyreader.tumblr.com/post/139109186520/new-on-my-reading-list

http://bitingalaxy.tumblr.com/post/138570027598

https://matches-inthe-glitter.tumblr.com/post/138487505980/fairy-tale-aesthetic

http://let-theoceandrain.tumblr.com/post/139042202810/you-are-nature

http://ice-queen-of-hell.tumblr.com/post/138629097615/arbores-loqui-latine-the-trees-speak-latin

http://perdida-entre-las-palabras.tumblr.com/post/139056247886

http://bogotaotonal.tumblr.com/post/138874496602/leyendo-en-el-parque-foto-por-bogotaotonal

http://ther-happy.tumblr.com/post/138484758914/each-time-you-read-a-book-a-tree-smiles-knowing

http://supernaturalshadowplay.tumblr.com/post/138807327396/bookish-shadow-playing-i-took-a-break-from

http://pollyandbooks.tumblr.com/post/138584951107/dreams-of-japan-by-shima-on-flickr

http://alittlebookblog.tumblr.com/post/137891047959/papercutpages-the-woods-are-lovely-dark-and

http://insidethebookreader.tumblr.com/post/132299347054

Any of you know of more gorgeous photos in this vein? Throw ‘em at me in the comments; I will gladly gaze. ^o^

Hello-o-o, Love-a-Thon 2016!

LoveAThon 2016

It’s Love-a-Thon time! Brought to us by our happenin’ hosts, Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Hazel (Stay Bookish), and Mel (The Daily Prophecy), we’ve got a weekend of book love all throughout the blogosphere.

There are a ton of activities planned over the next two days, and Lord only knows how many I’ll have the time and social energy to participate in (probably not a ton). But I for sure wanted to get in on the fun some way, so let’s start out with… *roll of drums* …the introductory questionnaire!

What’s your name?

The name’s Danielle E. Shipley – or Deshipley, for short. I will also answer to “The Cool One”, once we’ve all had a good laugh.

Where in the world are you blogging from?

Just north of Chicago, currently, though I’ll be headed back up to room with my BFF in Germany, soon. Chicagoland’s my birth place and lifelong residence so far, but Europe feels closer to home.

How did you get into blogging in the first place?

Aforementioned BFF talked me into it, saying it would be of some benefit to me as an author, and possibly even fun. She wasn’t entirely wrong.

How did you come up with your blog name?

Brainstorming with BFF and my character friends, we happened upon and liked the double entendre of Ever On Word. 1, the play on “ever onward”, which is kind of like an unofficial motto of mine. 2, the fact that I’ve pretty much always got at least one MS Word document open – usually two to five. And probably at least half-a-dozen Internet tabs. I’m a multitasking mess.

What types of posts do you do on your blog?

It’s varied, through the 5-ish years I’ve been online. At the beginning, I just selected a word I thought could inspire a few hundred more, and cheerily babbled about it. Once I started publishing stories – as a part of assorted anthologies, or in my own self-published books – it’s been tempting to talk about them ALL THE TIME, but I make sure to mix it up. I’ve also done shout-outs for other people’s publications and reviews of books I’ve read (when I can organize my impressions enough to write ‘em), shared original flash fiction and poetry, and for a while, my character/muse/BFF #2 Will Scarlet liked to take over with a screwball stage show and character interviews. So a little bit of everything, or a lot of nothing, depending whether it’s me or Will in charge.

Best blogging experience so far?

Probably gotta give this one to Save-a-Word Saturday, a retired meme from The Feather and the Rose. I had a great time discovering archaic words and incorporating them into fun little vignettes. I miss the weekly challenge, but it’s not the end of the road for my micro-fiction. One of these days, they’ll be a book. Stay tuned.

zRavenKing

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

Three jump readily to mind!

1 – “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the Raven Cycle series, and I’m sad for it to end, but that doesn’t make me want the fourth and final book in my hands any less urgently!

zSavageSong

2 – “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab. It’s about music and monsters and by V.E. Schwab. I’m in.

3 – “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” by Danielle E. Shipley. Seriously. It’s Book One of the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy – aka, the writing project dearest to my heart. Minstrelsy, magic, mayhem … and best of all, Merry Men! I Robin-Hood-fangirled my way through this thing, and I’m SO BEYOND EAGER to finally share it with readers! (And I’m totally offering eARCs in exchange for honest reviews. Hit me up if you’re interested!)

zHamilton

4 – okay, this where it gets tougher. Let’s go with… “Hamilton: The Revolution” by Lin-Manuel Miranda / Jeremy McCarter. Don’t know whether I’ll ever get to see the musical onstage, but I’ve been sucked down the “Hamilton” hole via the soundtrack, and I love behind-the-scenes stuff for movies ‘n’ musicals, so I’d eat this book up.

Some Kind of Happiness

5 – …what else is even happening this year? *skims to-read list* Oh, okay, how about “Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand. It’s got a fantasy forest and a protagonist who shares my depression struggle. I’m bound to get something out of it.

Sigil of the Wyrm

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

I’ll bet you anything that not enough people are reading “Sigil of the Wyrm”. Go read “Sigil of the Wyrm”.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Pretty sure my Will Scarlet has totally claimed that spot.

Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

Kelsier from Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”, please!

What would your dream library look like?

Spiral Staircase

It’s in a castle. (Books.)

In a forest far, far away. (Books.)

The room is drenched in sunlight. (So many books.)

Cozy window nooks in blue and gray, with an ever-changing view of a lake. (Beautiful books.)

Everything is wood. (Books, books, books.)

Except the spiral staircase (wrought iron, probably ) going up to the balcony (of EVEN MORE BOOKS).

Those rolling shelf ladder things are up there (‘cause what better way to reach ALL THE BOOKS?).

Throw in a piano and invisible servants to bring me tea, and I’ll probably never leave this room. (Home is where the books are.)

That’s it for my intro post. Looking forward to hopping around the other participating blogs to see what all the awesome kids are up to. ;D I’ll probably have at least one more Love-a-Thon post up later today, so stay tuned!