In a Faire Fight

Did you ever hear about the most epic fight I ever saw at the Ren Faire?

(Bristol, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.)

‘Twas my first season on cast as a Towne Crier – also, incidentally, the last season where the Fight Cast played the roles of Merry Men. I forget all the details of the staged encounter, but it involved Robin Hood getting caught on the bridge over Lake Elizabeth, forcing him into an outrageous getaway. It was pretty wild. There were Sirens involved.

And of course, me being an author who would go on to pen a whole series of books centered around my own Merry Men in a Renaissance Faire, you had to know I’d use it as inspiration sooner or later – like, say, in the upcoming conclusion of the trilogy.

Since I daresay most of you missed the instigating show at Bristol, and we’ve still got 2 weeks to kill before Outlaws 3’s release, how about we sneak a peek at that scene now? ^^ You can read it below! And/or watch me read it aloud in this video posted to the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page.


Neither option includes Sirens, alas, but you will be treated to merry banter and wonky math! Plus, the vid features my Disney Robin Hood shirt and, well, the kind of faces I make when performing characters. X) Enjoy!

“Sheriff!” a voice barked from the trees beyond the road, and out of their shadows stepped the archer. He pushed back the hood of green from his head, revealing his waves of brown hair, flashing blue eyes, and slim beard framing both strong jaw and mouth drawn into a hard line of anger. “Leave the innocents of Nottingham in peace. Your quarrel is not with them, but with me!”

“Guards!” the Sheriff shouted, a finger thrust toward the archer. “Take him!”

“Oh, prithee do try,” a voice rumbled low – or high, in terms of altitude. Another man stepped from the trees, towering over the first, and with a stout staff at the ready in his colossal hands.

“What are you waiting for?” the Sheriff berated his men, when they only stood staring uneasily at the black-bearded giant. “Grow a spine among you, cowards! We are many, and they only two!”

“Huh,” said the dark woman just now stepping around the giant, a knife a-twirl in her fingers. “Seemeth to me someone’s count is off, somewhere. How many would you say we are, Robin?”

“Well, of course you and I are one heart joined, my lady Marion,” said Robin, with a warm smile for his wife. “But Little John is easily the equal of any two men, so the count thus far is no fewer than three.”

“And was is not but this morn at breakfast, cousin,” said a man garbed in lavish red, come forward to lean casually against his sword placed point-first in the ground, “that you likened me to a dozen good men?”

“Was it yourself thus likened, Scarlet, or your chatter?” asked Robin.

“Or his share of our breakfast?” said Marion.

Will Scarlet laughed with abandon. “Best take both together, and count me as four-and-twenty!”

With lute on back and staff in hand, a youth in dark blues stepped out to join the party, a curvaceous girl with a half-drawn bow at his side. “The final count, then,” he lilted, “is nine and a score, for we are content to add a pair more.”

The girl with the bow arched an eyebrow. “Are we not one, Allyn-a-Dale?”

“Most assuredly are we, May Ellen,” he soothed. “But I deemed it high time someone tried their hand at a factual tally, and it appeared not as if that one,” – he rolled his eyes – “or four-and-twenty, would be Will.”

By now, the Sheriff’s men-at-arms, who numbered a factual four, were looking less at ease than ever. Seeing this, the Sheriff cleared his throat, and adopted a more levelheaded tone.

“Now, Robin,” said he, “I see no need for us to engage in full-scale battle. What profit is it to either of us to risk so many lives? Let us rather be judicious men, and curtail the shedding of blood.”

“Why, my good Sheriff,” said Robin, dryly. “I knew not that wanton bloodshed was so abhorrent to you. In faith, past action on your part has led me to believe just the opposite. But what solution would you put forth?”

“A contest of champions,” the Sheriff said. “My best swordsman, pitted against yours. Should your man win, I give my word that I will no longer trouble the townsfolk to reach you. Should my man win, your band must give itself up to the Law. Are we agreed?”

While the crowd shouted their opinions on the matter, Robin turned a questioning look on his band. “What say you, my Merry Men?” he asked. “All those in favor of accepting the Sheriff’s terms, say: ‘Hey for merry old England!’”

With one voice, the band cried, “Hey for merry old England!”

“Then we are agreed!” Robin answered the Sheriff. “Send forth your champion.”

Smiling smugly, the Sheriff called, “Stand forward, Sir Guy of Gisborne!”

For the rest of the confrontation (and the rest of the novel, for that matter) be sure to get your copy of “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” – coming in 2 weeks!

A “Ballad” Tour of Bristol

For the first time in a handful of years, the Bristol Renaissance Faire has a bookshop again. This excited me for two reasons.

1 – Bookshop! ‘Nough said!

2 – This presented a possibility that, just maybe, I could see my beautiful book baby, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, sold in the Ren Faire that had inspired it.

Well, I spoke to the shopkeeper, and she seemed favorably impressed by my nerve in pitching the idea. But alas, the deal didn’t go through – which, as one might expect, did quite a number with my depression for several black-and-blue days.

However, a voice that sounded distinctly like my Robin Hood’s afterword spoke in my head, just because you can’t sell the book in Bristol yet, that doesn’t mean “Ballad” can’t visit its mother Faire.

And, as Robin Hood-esque voices often are, it was right.

Thus did my most recent trip to Bristol center around a photo project for my personal satisfaction – the best results of which I’m happy to share with you all. Come, readers! Let us away to the Faire!

11 - Map

Though Bristol’s not quite Avalon Faire, one has only to compare their maps to see they share a number of features in common. And speaking of maps…

04 - Cartographer

…Here he is – the talent behind the Avalon Faire map, the Cartographer of the Cosmos himself – Jesse Kennedy! (A most EXCELLENT chap. If you ever get the chance to give him your business, then do!)

01 -Archery

Of course my Robin Hood book had to stop by the archery games.

09 - Joust

And what’s a trip to the Renaissance Faire without a lively joust?

13 - Tavern

Fun fact! I had this building, Tuscany Tavern, vaguely in mind when I wrote this bit of “Ballad”:

For on the steps leading up to a pub on a low rise of hill, there stood Robin Hood, and Little John, too. And perched on the rail above them, a notably smaller young man in deep, vivid blue, holding a lute.

And speaking of lutes…

08 - Jester

…This sculpture, called The Jester, was of course only too delighted to welcome “Ballad” home.

10 - Lake

Bristol’s Lake Elizabeth; the inspiration behind Avalon’s Lake Vivienne. Also the location of an extraordinary fight cast performance, my first year as a Towne Crier – one which further inspired a certain scene in Outlaws 3, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. (Coming this fall!)

12 - Nook

More inspiration! This little nook nestled between shops is behind the following passage from Book 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”:

Will Scarlet cornered Allyn in one of the minstrel’s favored haunts. An unobtrusive courtyard tucked between two vendors’ buildings, it boasted a prettily carved stone bench by either wall, a trellis roof hung with ivy, and a floor of grass and wildflowers growing in the generous spaces between handcrafted ceramic tiles. Like everything to be seen, heard, and felt in the Faerie Glade, the nook was gently enchanting — made even more so whenever Allyn chose it as the backdrop for a tune upon his lute.

And speaking of the Faerie Glade…

07 - Fairie Glen

…The Bristol equivalent is called the Fairie Glen, and boasts this charming display which I’m sure the world’s smallest Fey would find most inviting.

It all goes to show that, even in a real-world Renaissance Faire…

02 - Avalon

…There are pieces of Avalon everywhere. ❤

For more “Ballad” in Bristol shots not pictured here, keep your eye on the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page; I’ll be posting a photo album shortly. And while it’s still a bummer that you can’t get copies of my Outlaws books in Bristol’s bookshop, they are ever awaiting you via my website – including the newly released Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”, and the “Ballad” e-book that’s half-price on Smashwords through the end of July. See you ‘round the Ren Faire!

Diary of an Author in Demand

Believe it or not (go ahead and believe it), I seem to be slowly creeping my way up in the world.

Megan Ann Jacobs: Club leader, Shipley booker, and INSPIRED hyper, student, actor, and playwright…egads, what /doesn’t/ she do?!
Megan Ann Jacobs: Club leader, Shipley booker, and INSPIRED hyper, student, actor, and playwright…egads, what /doesn’t/ she do?!

The “firsts” are rolling in! First self-pubbed novella (yay!), first indie press-pubbed anthology inclusion (oh, wow!), first novel (double wow!), first in-home interview with a pair of schoolgirls (awww!)… and now I can say I’ve had (and made good on) my first invitation* to leave the house and talk to a room of people** about writing!

* Bless you for demanding me, Megan Jacobs!

** The Creative Writing Club of Wisconsin Lutheran College, no less! Bless them, as well!

Also believe it or not, I didn’t actually take the time throughout the day to chronicle the hour-by-hour happenings in a notebook, like one might think a writer would naturally do. So the following journal entries are totally forged after the fact – though I’d like to think I managed to hold onto a ring of authenticity, even so.

* * *

Monday, Apr. 28, 2014, 10-ish a.m.

Camped out on the front steps so I can keep an eye on the street. I haven’t seen Megan since we were Town Criers together at the Bristol Renaissance Faire last summer, and I’ve never seen her car, but once I spot the former, I’ll assume that the latter she drove up in is hers. Or that she’s a car thief. That could prove interesting.

Whoop, I think that’s her! Farewell, Mother! Later, comforts of home! For today, I throw comfort to the wind and talk to strangers!

* * *

After the drive (and little thanks to the GPS that tried to lose us inside a forest preserve, of all things)

Chillin’ at WLC, home of the CWC with which I’ll Q&A. (Acronyms… acronyms everywhere…) While Megan’s taking care of last-minute business for the meeting – ordering refreshments, messaging club members to remind them where we will and will not meet – I’ve been tearing through this script she wrote. “aMUSEd”, it’s called, and just guess what inspired it? INSPIRED, that’s what! Or its cover, anyway! She took one look at the portrayal of Luc and Annabelle, and a little lightbulb full of ideas winked on over her own head.

She only finished the script the night before, so I was the first to read the whole thing! Such privilege!
She only finished the script the night before, so I was the first to read the whole thing! Such privilege!

The best part of all? This play rocks! It had me whimpering in sympathy on, like, page 2, and laughing for pretty much the rest of it. I love emotion couched in comedy. Boy, I hope Megan brings “aMUSEd” to the stage, sometime in the not-too-faraway future. I want in it! Or at least in the audience of it. I’ll take either one.

Aaand now we’re going back into the rain to grab some beverages from the grocery story. Back in a bit, hypothetical diary.

* * *

Later in the Afternoon

Just finished sitting in on Megan’s theatre class. Now we’re in the meeting room with a few earlycomers (sure, we’ll say that’s a word), and I’ll do a more participatory sort of sit-in with them doing their club thing, with my official Q&A portion of our assembly to follow after that. I’ve got no idea how any of this will go down, yet, so I’ll just dive face-first into social interaction and hope it comes off as more endearing than obnoxious. (I can never tell.)

* * *

Looks like we’re all mad here. Cue my Cheshire Cat grin.
Looks like we’re all mad here. Cue my Cheshire Cat grin.

Halfway Through the Meeting

Oh my word, these people are hilarious! They were supposed to all read some prompt-based writing exercise they were assigned, but nobody actually brought in the assignment (ah, college… it’s all coming back to me, now), so President Megan* decided to wing it.

* Nobody’s called her President Megan, but she’s running this show, so whatever, she’s totally President Megan.

She divided the room of sixteen into teams of four, each team writing four stories on the fly, one sentence at a time. I mean, obviously every story is written one sentence at a time, but in this case, Teammate A only gets to put down one sentence before passing the story on to Teammate B, who does the same before giving it to Teammate C, and on it goes to D and back around to A – blather, wince, and repeat, all the while doing the same for the stories begun by Teammates B, C, and D.

If that explanation didn’t make sense, consider it a metaphor for most of the stories we read once we’d finished the game. President Megan was kept busy at the white board, stating on record that much of the stories’ subject matter was in no way a reflection of the values of the Creative Writing Club or its affiliates.

The first disclaimer.
The first disclaimer.
…But far from the last.
…But far from the last.

* * *

Stories Read and Pizza Consumed…

…Up I went to the front of the room to act all professionally authorial and stuff.

After giving the crowd my backstory, I fielded questions about my creative/publishing process, how self-pub works vs. working with a small press, how to sniff out writing opportunities… all that jazz.

The many faces of Danielle E. Shipley attempting to verbally communicate.
The many faces of Danielle E. Shipley attempting to verbally communicate.
The one face of Danielle E. Shipley reading her bio aloud, providing an example of how to speak about oneself in the third person.
The one face of Danielle E. Shipley reading her bio aloud, providing an example of how to speak about oneself in the third person.

Not gonna lie, though: My favorite part had to be toward the end when one of the club members, not nicknamed The Voice for nothing, came up to read the back cover blurb of INSPIRED in the most epic announcer way possible. I mean, having the deeply gratifying pleasure of selling and autographing a few copies of the novel to the room before Megan drove me home was super great, too. But an epic announcer voice reading your words like they’re gonna be a movie next summer* is its own level of cool.

*It is not, to my knowledge, actually going to be a movie next summer. There’s still that script for a play inspired by it, though! Like I said: Creeping my way up in the world. (:

* * *

And that, readers o’ mine, is how it all went down. Totally fills you with a desire to book me for a talk and/or signing and/or live reading, doesn’t it? ;D Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me.

(More photos of the event available in the “Q&A with the CWC” album on my Facebook author page, for those who wish to see!)

“Sophomore” or “Year Two in Review”

Does anyone know what this past Sunday was? ^^ Yes? No? Any guesses? …Put your hand down, I know you know… Actually, okay, go ahead and tell us.

It was the two-year anniversary of Ever On Word!

You’re darn right, it was! As of that Three Wishes Blog Blitz post (there’s still time to enter the raffle, by the way!), I have begun my third year of blogging! And what a year the last has been…

*cue flashback montage*

It started with a serial murder mystery inspired by my first summer on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

In between whodunit episodes, I chronicled my writing progress during National Novel Writing Month 2012, as well as my adventure at NaNo’s Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco.

Ah, San Francisco… What an experience that was – my first time in California! Small wonder I had that brief urge to go all travelog on you.

Once I got back home, things were pretty much business as usual, for a while – y’know, guests posts by a Merry Man and Merry Woman, rescuing words like a language-loving boss on Save-a-Word Saturdays… that sort of thing.

Then the world exploded in a blast of awesomesocks.

Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.
Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.

After years of little to report to inquisitive friends apart from, “yeah, still writing, still hoping, no big breaks yet,” I had not one, not two, but three amazing pieces of publishing news to share, back to back to back! An anthology, self-published novella, and a novel debut, oh my!

It all made for a very busy Danielle, lemme tell you, but I still tried to make time for reading, both for pleasure and as favors to friends. Over the course of Ever On Word’s “being or associated with the second in a series” year, I managed to post reviews for the following:

– “The Man in the Box” by Andrew Toy

– “Spirit’s End” by Rachel Aaron

– “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology”, edited by Penny Freeman

– “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

– “Caged (Holloway Pack #3)” by J.A. Belfield

Not too shabby, for a gal with a weird phobia about writing reviews. (:

I was able to pick up a couple of nice reviews for “The Swan Prince”, too, during the Blogger Book Fair in July. I’d only recently heard of the event, and it was my first time participating – spotlighting fellow authors here at my blog, guest-posting over on theirs, and, ohhhh yeahhhh, winning the Reader’s Choice Award for young adult fantasy, thanks to your votes! 😀

So, yeah. All told, it’s been a pretty big year for this little blog. And glancing ahead at what I know to be coming – (including but not limited to the release of “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” in, like, two weeks) – it’s a safe bet Year Three will be easily as huge. #LezDoThisThang!

“Boot” or “The Salvation of Word-Saving Saturdays!”

I have discovered a life-changing thing, my friends: Setting a blog post to go live at whatever hour you choose whether or not you’re anywhere near the computer at the time! I mean, yeah, I’d heard of other bloggers doing this, but I assumed it was witchcraft (or technological savvy, which in some ways is just as far out of my reach), so I never tried to figure out how it’s done.

Until now.

Do you realize what this means?! Well, here’s a hint: This post has gone live on a Saturday morning. That’s right: Even while I’m off being Elizabethan at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, Ever On Word can participate in Save-a-Word Saturday!

What’s that? It’s been so long since my last Save-a-Word Saturday blog post that its significance escapes you? Allow me to bring you up to speed:

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”, 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”). And now that I’ve learned how to pre-schedule posts, I can display the vignettes here for the blog-inclined to see, too!

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

The theme: Lamp Shades.

The word: “Boot”, a noun meaning “advantage”.

The Example:

The ache in his head pulled Allyn awake. He moaned, then hissed sharply as his eyes opened to a light that intensified the pain twofold. One eye closed against the glare, the other squinted and roved side to side to take in his environment. Stone walls around him. Rich sheets of red and gold beneath him. Will Scarlet’s bedchamber. He moaned again. “What the dale happened last night?”

“Oh, good, you’re awake!” Will’s voice clanged in his ear. “I’ve been half-wondering whether I’d killed you. It’s bloody evening already!”

Allyn’s intended venom-filled glower cut short with another hiss and an arm thrown over his face. “Do something about that blasted light, or you will have killed me.”

“Sorry. Here.” The darkness beyond Allyn’s covered vision deepened. “Your hat will do as a lamp shade, for now, provided it doesn’t catch fire. Sorry about your head, too. I should have known better than to let things go so far; anyone could have guessed I’d have the boot in a drinking game against a featherweight like you. Next time we’ll try for a game you’ve got a shot at win—”

“No more shots!” Allyn wailed.

“Right… bad choice of words. Let me run down to the Glade and see what mystical herby things the Fey Folk have got for hangovers.”

“Roundup 4” or “A Work Week of Saturdays”

Busy as my giveaway for the launch week of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales” kept me, it’s not to blame for the absence of Save-a-Word Saturday vignettes around here lately. Nay, that honor goes to the lord and keeper of my summer weekends, the Bristol Renaissance Faire (which opens tomorrow! Drop on by, if you’re able!).

What’s that? It’s been so long that some of you have forgotten how Save-a-Word Saturday works? Allow me to recap:

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!

Since it’s quicker than blogging it, 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”). For those who haven’t kept up to date on the “Ballad” page, here’s all the word-saving fun you’ve been missing since June!

* * *

June 1/13 – The theme: Tea – The word: “Autological”, an adjective meaning, “self-descriptive, or being a word that exemplifies what it means (e.g. “English” is English, “polysyllabic” is polysyllabic)”.

The Example:

“I say, Robin,” Will Scarlet said of a sudden, scarcely before he’d finished his swallow from a mug of Avalon ale. “You know what’s weird? Here we are, Englishmen so English we’re a part of its cultural heritage – people visiting our statues and supposed gravesites and all – and yet we never drink tea!”

Over the top of his own tankard, Robin’s brows quirked in question at his cousin. “And that’s weird because…?”

“Because we’re English!” Will repeated. “English people means tea – it’s practically autological!”

“Not actually, Will.”

“But practically. You and I are a disgrace to our country, do you know that?”

Robin rolled eyes sparkling with amusement. “Well, you’re welcome to pour yourself a cuppa if you want. Shall I protect what’s left of your honor by disposing of your ale?”

“Now, now,” said Will, drawing his mug protectively nearer to himself. “I never said I minded being a disgrace. All part of being an outlaw, eh wot?”

“That’s the English spirit,” said Robin, raising his tankard in laughing salute.

* * *

June 8/13 – The theme: Hourglasses – The word: “Cumber”, a noun meaning “a hindrance or burden”. (Fun bonus: This was a “word of the day” at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, last year!)

The Example:

If there was one thing Gant-o’-the-Lute missed from before his professional minstrel days, it was the freedom to ignore time completely. With no responsibilities worth caring about, he could live at his leisure, without the cumber of matching his rhythm to the trickle of sand in hourglasses or ticks of mechanical clocks. Even still, though mindful of time he must now by necessity be, he was no slave to it. His only mistress was music.

* * *

June 15/13 – The theme: Travel – The word: “Amain”, an adverb meaning “with full force; at full speed; hastily; at once”. (Likewise a BRF word of the day!)

The Example:

Will Scarlet looked with longing as the herd of patrons poured out the main gates, their day of Faire-going fun at an end. He’d be dashing out with them amain, if he thought he could get away with it, Avalon at his back and the whole Outside world before him to roam as he pleased.

“Do you miss it?” he asked Allyn, beside him. “Being a traveling minstrel, instead of a minstrel stuck in the same place all the time?”

Allyn shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t feel stuck.”

Will crooked a wistful smile. It was nice one of them didn’t.

* * *

June 22/13 – The theme: Porch Swings – The word: “Truck”, a noun meaning “dealings”. (Another BRF word of the day!)

The Example: “All right, think,” Will Scarlet mutters. “We managed to get around that ‘scorpions’ theme, even though we’ve no truck with those. Surely we can do the same with porch swings, never mind Avalon’s utter lack of porches and swings…”

“We could always rig a bench up to a tree limb with rope,” Allyn suggests. “That would be rather like a porch swing, would it not?”

“Well, of course we could, but what would be the point?”

Allyn blinks at him. “There isn’t one. But what with your generally nonexistent truck with forethought, I didn’t think you’d care.”

“Fair enough. I’ll grab a bench, you find a rope, and somebody make some lemonade, ‘cause we’re about to do these lazy summer evenings old school, yo!”

“Yo,” Allyn agrees.

* * *

June 29/13 – The theme: Scarf-a-Scone Saturday! – The word: “Convive”, a verb meaning “to feast together”. (Also a BRF word of the day!)

The Example: “Scarf-a-Scone Saturday?!” Will’s eyes fly wide open. “That’s a thing?!”

“So it would seem,” says Allyn.

Will punches the air. “Oo-de-lally! Scones for everybody! Merry Men, assemble, and let us convive!”

The band stares at him.

“‘Oo-de-lally’?” Little John repeats. “This is Avalon’s Sherwood, not Disney’s.”

“And yet am I a hot fox,” Robin Hood notes.

“And I a classy vixen,” says a grinning Marion.

“And I a narrating rooster, apparently,” Allyn grumbles, taking a bite of blueberry goodness with butter and jam.

“And I—” Will stops short, appalled. “Son of a scone, there’s no Will Scarlet in the movie at all! What in the world were they thinking of?! We should write a letter of complaint!”

“Or eat,” says Little John, stuffing a scone into Will’s mouth.

Will’s muffled reply agrees, “Or that.”

“BBF” or “All’s Fair in Bookish Blog-Hopping”

Ever since joining the cast of the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I automatically associate the acronym “BBF” with the Bristol Buskin Frolic players who sing and dance around the maypole. But that’s not the BBF I’m blogging about today. Right now, we’re talking about the Blogger Book Fair!

July BBF button copyWhat’s that, you ask? Well, to cobble together a paraphrased explanation from the event’s head organizer, Kayla Curry:

The Blogger Book Fair started the summer of 2012 with 40 authors and 75 books. It has grown quickly as a biannual event, much like a blog hop, in which authors and book bloggers can get together and showcase authors and their books. Participating blogs will have giveaways, discounts, and other events you can’t find anywhere else – among them, the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards.

The fair runs from July 22nd through 26th. And guess what? “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)” and I have signed up to participate! (Okay, I did all the signing up. The book just sat there looking pretty.) This means I’ll be hosting 4 other authors here at Ever On Word on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of the BBF week, and they’ll be hosting me. It also means I’ve been entered into the Reader’s Choice Awards competition. *hysterical giggles, wonky breathing, sweating, etc.* So, guys: Read my book? Liked it? Like me the least little bit? Then pretty please— nay, drop dead gorgeous please, vote for me when the polls open. If I win, I’ll get a snazzy button of victory for my blog AND will have “The Swan Prince” featured on the Blogger Book Fair site for a minimum of one year with a link to buy it on Amazon. THAT is a way-cool prize, and we wantsss it, Preciousss.

And speaking of things to be won, during the BBF week, I’ll be hosting another giveaway! Nothing as all-out massive as last month’s Seven Swans a-Winning extravaganza, but there will be another signed paperback copy of “The Swan Prince” up for grabs, along with a set of gorgeous Yana Naumova-drawn “Swan Prince” bookmarks, a-a-and a set of never-before-distributed bookmarks for the upcoming second Wilderhark Tale, “The Stone Kingdom”! Further details to come.

Bristol Buskin Frolic
Yup, here’s the BFF *I* know.

So, yup! Exciting stuff coming, three weeks from now. Hope to see you guys hopping merrily along with me! …which, come to think of it, sounds like a very Bristol Buskin Frolicsome thing to do. Throw on some jingly bells and flowery garlands, and I doubt anyone would know the difference. X)

IN OTHER NEWS: While I was out doing Bristol-related things this past weekend, my leading lady from “The Swan Prince” was sitting down for a character-to-character chat in the first ever Interview Saturday at the Flame Writer blog of Kendra Conine. Check it out to see what secrets (if any) Kendra’s character Ashley was able to coax out of Sula. 😉

“Grauer” or “A Modern Mary Shelley”

Me: Hello, honored guest! Introduce yourself to all the friendly strangers!

Alyson Grauer, author of Mechanized Masterpiece "Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea".
Alyson Grauer, author of Mechanized Masterpiece “Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea”.

Alyson: Hello, strangers-who-are-friendly! My name is Alyson Grauer and while I am originally from Milwaukee, WI, these days I am a Chicago-based writer, actor, and ukulele-playin’ weirdo. I am a big ol’ nerd with a love of film, tv, comic books, video games, and fiction of all kinds. I can be found performing at Piccolo Theatre in Evanston, or at the Public House Theatre in Chicago with Plan 9 Burlesque (most often as a host and uke-playing variety performer), and also at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, where I am often found Making A Fool of Myself In Public.

Me: Public foolery: A most excellent pastime. You’re here, of course, in connection with your recently published work, “Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea”, the grand finale in “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology” (which I reviewed here on the blog last week). But what’s the first story you can remember writing?

Alyson: I recall at a very very young age that I wrote and illustrated a picture book called “Dingo”, about a collie that was like Lassie but less goody-two-shoes. The other early venture I remember was a reboot of “The Wizard of Oz” wherein Dorothy follows the red brick road instead of the yellow one, Toto is the first person narrator, and a ton of excellent Greek mythology references got thrown in along the way.

(Me: *cheers for Greek mythology*)

A: It was about 3/4 done when I abandoned it for other shiny objects, but the idea of a smart-mouthed Toto and a ditzy Dorothy Gale have always been in the back of my head. I don’t think I’d write it again, though, because… y’know. There’s enough Oz rewrites in the ‘verse right now.

Me: Ah, well; maybe your story will reinvent itself into something else, one day. Speaking of stories and their reinventions, how did you hear about Xchyler Publishing’s “Mechanized Masterpieces” anthology, and what compelled you to submit?

Alyson: I try to keep abreast of opportunities via Twitter. It is honestly the easiest, quickest way to find out what agents are looking for, what magazines or publications are having open calls for submissions, and if there is a sweet anthology out there waiting for you. I saw the open call on Twitter and loved the accessible nature of “rebooting” classic literature with steampunk elements. So I spent a few days hemming and hawing on Xchyler’s website before deciding that I had an idea good enough to actually write out and then attempt to submit it. It came kinda close to the wire, too; I got very busy and almost didn’t finish my draft, but I did, thank God, and sent it in.

Me: Which is happy news for the world! Not to be biased, I hope, but your story was one of my favorites in the book, and a great way to cap off the collection. How many ideas did you sift through before settling on your reimagining of “Frankenstein”, and what was it about the story that inspired you?

Alyson: Like I said, I knew right away that I wanted to submit something, but I needed to figure out what classic to base my story on, and how I would infuse the steam. I needed something that didn’t NEED the steampunk but was well suited to it, something that I was passionate about already, and a style that I felt comfortable emulating. I considered Austen, but that dame is a darn tricky lady (huge props to fellow “Mechanized Masterpieces” writer Anika Arrington for awesomely using Margaret Dashwood from “Sense and Sensibility” in her story “Sense and Cyborgs”), and so I continued racking my brains for other ideas. Honestly, one of the first things to mind was “Frankenstein” because I have a long history of fangirling Mary Shelley, but I wasn’t sure how to go about steaming it up.

Mechanized Masterpieces

When I finally realized that my heart lay with Frankenstein, I realized also that there was no way I was going to take the obvious route and tell a gear-grinding version of Victor’s journey. It became clear pretty quickly that I wanted to take an unfulfilled story from the main plot and give it a little more attention. Elizabeth, Victor’s betrothed, is portrayed in the original novel as angelic, loving, pure of heart and utterly characterless except for her devotion to Victor and her horrible death at the hands of the Creature. She’s supposed to be a victim, to infuse Victor’s horrible journey with more pain and suffering. I wanted to tell her side of the story, and I wanted to follow the original novel’s details as closely as possible. I used the landmarks in Shelley’s text of what Elizabeth says and does specifically, but I told the story from her own eyes and gave her a secret history so unusual that not even she suspects the depths of it, and therefore, neither does anyone else!

(Me: My favorite kind of character secret. Keep everybody in the dark until the last minute – up to and including the author, sometimes!)

A: Victor blazes through her world unaware that Elizabeth is anything more than his devoted fiancée, which I thought was kind of fun. And the “punk” earmarks of steampunk are an independent, female protagonist who grows in intelligence and strength despite society’s constraints upon her during that time period, as well as a dash of advanced technology and genetic engineering.

Me: Read it, people. I can’t even tell you about that part that got me all internal-flailing excited. This is a spoiler-free zone, so I guess we’ll just have to talk about something else. Any other personal publishing successes you’d like to crow about, Alyson?

Alyson: This is my first published novella, but last summer I was asked to contribute to the “Tales from the Archives” ebook/podcast anthology from Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine over at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I wrote a short story called “A Trick of Strong Imagination” which is available for 99c on Nook and Kindle, and can be downloaded for free from their website (read by moi, other vocals contributed by David W.M. Kelch, Ben Muller, and Tee Morris). It’s fun, and if you haven’t read the Ministry books, STOP NOW AND PURCHASE THEM – sooooo gooooood.

Me: As someone who’s written multiple works, have you noticed any recurring themes within the Alyson Grauer canon?

Alyson: Recurring themes include pirates, ladies being excellently in charge of their own destinies and comfortable in combat, and elements of a fantastic/supernatural/mythological nature.

Me: Speaking of all things fantastic, our second year on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire is upon us! Will you be reprising your former role, or playing someone new?

Alyson: Buongiorno, my friend! I am happy to return to Bristol as one of those darn ragtag Italians in the Commedia dell’Arte troupe (formerly known as At Your Service). Pedrolino, my role last year, has been laid to rest (at the risk of sounding morbid), but you will get to meet a lovely new lady this year, a not-terribly-bright servant named Coviella! She also plays the lute-a-lele, gets distracted easily, and has a penchant for feathered caps.

Me: Who doesn’t have a penchant for feathered caps? Okay, time for some things in threes. Three of your favorite books, and three random favorite things: Go.

Alyson: Three of my favorite books: “The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle, “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” by Robert A. Heinlein, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.

Three of my favorite (random) things: Heavy thunderstorms during the summer, Benedict Cumberbatch, and really high grade green tea (Gyokuro Imperial).

Me: Any last words (I ask ominously)?

Alyson: Thank you for the interviewythingy and for the support of the anthology! Big Bristol-sized hugs and congratulations on your own endeavors, Danielle! And to those reading: If you’re in Chicago, please feel free to come check out Plan 9 Burlesque’s monthly nerd-themed cabarets at the Public House Theatre. It is always an AMAZING time! Don’t be shy, come introduce yourself sometime. Also check out my nerd blog co-written by Stella Cheeks (also of Plan 9) at Also I’m on Twitter @dreamstobecome. Sorry, that was a lot of last words.

Me: No worries; I don’t grudge monologues to those about to die. X)

In all seriousness, thank you for stopping by, Alyson! My Town Crier self will give Coviella a shout when next we meet in merry olde Bristol. And readers, if you’re on the fence about whether you should check out “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology”, allow me to provide you with a benevolent shove. Go get it; shoo. (And feel free to pick up a copy of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)” while you’re in the neighborhood. Then you’ll be twice as cool.)

“Motley” or “A Little Bit of This and That. …Mostly That, Really”

I chose today’s main title for a variety of reasons – which is only appropriate, given the word’s first meaning: “Having elements of great variety or incongruity; heterogeneous.”

A motley minstrel boy!"Air of Attraction" by Michael Cheval.
A motley minstrel boy!
“Air of Attraction” by Michael Cheval.

It likewise means “having many colors; variegated; parti-colored”, which I like for no better reason than that I like the idea of colors. This adjective can also be a noun meaning “the parti-colored attire of a court jester”, which I like mainly because court jesters often have a minstrel-like role, and if you don’t know I love minstrels, than you haven’t been reading this blog for very long.

Say, does this happen to be the first time you’re reading this blog? If “yes”, hello! Welcome to Ever On Word! Don’t be a stranger. ^-^ If “no,” things around here may still look new to you because, for the second time since this blog’s beginning, I have changed its visual theme.

That’s one of the motley things I wish to mention today. Goodbye, “Connections”, hello, “Rusty Grunge”! Like the background? It’s custom-made. More details on that in a future post.

I also thought it was high time I verbally celebrated my 200th post! It’s a bit past due, I realize; post 200 went up on Christmas. But I’d call late better than never, in this case. So here’s a huzzah for my little milestone. When I hit my first hundred, I celebrated with some personal blog-related stats. In the name of tradition, let’s do it again! In the past hundred posts…

8 were related to publication of short stories of mine. Those short stories include fairytale-based “Mercy Denied” and “Tale as Old as Time”, mythology-inspired “Shadow Lights”, and, what I guess could both be categorized as somewhat supernatural, “Superpower Outage” and “Train of Thought”. 2012 was a good year, Deshipley-short-story-publication-wise. I’ll have to restock my supply of short fiction and keep an eye out for more places to submit!

– (Speaking of fiction, as I usually do), 18 were episodes of two serial stories: The first eight a fairytale comedy, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”, the latter ten a whodunit inspired by my summer employment at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

– (Speaking of the Faire, which I also do a lot), 4 were dedicated to my real-life experience at Bristol, chronicling everything from my audition and the original monologue I performed to the development of my character and Rennie skills, and what a grand impact the summer has made on my life.

– Another 4 included pieces of non-serial original short fiction: The five-minute flash, “The Great Fountain of Dummar”; the spontaneous blog anniversary gift to myself, “The Mysterious Affair of Pansy’s Pearls”; modern parable “Belief or Truth”; and in the form of a poetic parody, my Christmas gift to my readers, “A Visit to Avalon Faire”.

– Another 8 included reviews: Seven book reviews (type “review” in the little search box if you wish to see them; there’s no elegant way to link to all that!), and one review of the latest (*cough* FREE *cough*) album from my favorite Christian rapper, t.Jay.

7 were “HYSRT!” (“Hey, You Should Read This!”) posts in accordance with my 2012 blog resolution to share posts by other bloggers that I felt, hey, you should read. I mean to continue such features throughout 2013, though I think I’ll back off the pressure of trying to find one for every time my posting day falls on a Saturday. Just whenever I randomly happen to find a gem I want to share will be often enough.

3 were guest posts by some of my characters, Bruno, Allyn-a-Dale, and Gant-o’-the-Lute. I’ll definitely have more characters do the talking for me in the future – one, because it’s fun to write in other voices; two, because now that I’ve let a few of the folks in my head have their say, I’ve got others who will be (and have been, Scarlet) clamoring for their turn.

So, that’s pretty much everything I wanted to say, and then some. To the readers who have joined me over the past year, thanks for coming along for the ride. To 2013, let’s do this thing!

“Whodunit 10” or “For Whom the Crier Bell Tolls”

The final episode of the Bristol whodunit is here! With wildcard Town Crier Hannah in the clear, can Emeraude and the others uncover the murderer before the Queen’s parade? Can you?


“A’right, a’right, a’right… think, think, think!”

Emeraude a’Right paced in small circles under the tree, avoiding slipping on its fallen acorns more by luck than any attention paid, for all her concentration was on the current conundrum.

“We’ve missed something. We’ve got to have missed something! The answer’s sure to be staring us right in the face, we’re just not seeing the big portrait, somehow. Let’s take it back to the beginning. When did we last see Jasper Trustworthy alive?”

“At the town meeting, early this morning,” recalled her cousin and fellow Crier, Harold Angel. “Nearly the whole of Bristol was there in the hour before the gates opened, to be sure that all went smoothly for the Queen’s arrival. (And we can see how well that precaution’s paid off…)”

“Right,” Emeraude nodded, ignoring Harold’s characteristically negative mutterings. “So his murder had to take place between the end of the meeting and just past the hour of ten-and-thirty, when Dorcas found him in the lake. Now, you and I were together that whole ninety minutes, Harold – greeted visitors at the gates together, hawked the show at the Three Sheets together, both our bells in our possession the whole time – so that rules either of us out as the killer. Now, Dorcas…”

Emeraude turned to the third cousin and Crier, Dorcas Oddpick. “You saw the body before we did, so you can help us fix the time of death more closely. At what time did you reach the bridge?”

“It was…” Dorcas paused to think, eyes rolled skyward as if the answer were written in the clouds. (Not that such a thing would be of much help to her, given that she was only barely literate.) “Yea, I remember, it was just ten-and-thirty. I know, because I had nearly reached the bridge before, but then I saw that I had forgotten my timepiece, so I had to go back to our room of green get it, and I made sure to check the timepiece when I reached the bridge the second time, to be certain that this time it was properly on my person, and it was.”

“All right, very good. And when you reached the center of the bridge, Jasper was in the lake?”

“Nay, he wasn’t in the lake yet,” said Dorcas. “He was on the bridge.”

“He was??” said Harold.

“Dead already?” asked Emeraude.

“Nay, he was alive. I waved at him, and said, ‘Good morrow, Jasper!’” Dorcas waved in demonstration. “Then I looked over the bridge’s rail, and waved at the turtles, and said, ‘Good morrow to you, Ralph! And to you, Ralph! And to Ralph!’”

“Yes, yes, but what about Jasper?” Harold demanded impatiently.

Dorcas frowned. “Quoth Jasper, ‘Aye, good morrow, Stinky and Flippy and Murky and Jim,’ and any number of names that were NOT those of the turtles. And I made every effort to educate him on the true names of the turtles, but he would relent not, and insisted on calling them by every odious appellation that did enter his dingy top-hatted pate. So I hit him with my bell.”

Emeraude and Harold stared at Dorcas, then at each other, then back at Dorcas to cry in unison, “YOU KILLED JASPER TRUSTWORTHY?!”

The face of a killer?!
(Photo cred to Ivan Phillips)
“Wait, *who* hath killed me, now?!” The dead man can’t believe it!
(Photo cred to John Karpinsky)

“Nay,” said Dorcas, looking affronted. “I merely hit him with my bell. Then he fell over the rail for a nap in the water.”

Harold dropped his face into his hand. “Which degree hath a murder when the killer kills without understanding that a death hath even occurred?”

“I know not,” Emeraude said wearily, shoulders slumped as if under the weight of the earth and its moon. “Nor do I know what is to be done now. How can we lead the Queen’s progress through town with a murderer in our midst?? In our very family?!”

From behind and above, an imperial voice rang out, “Thou canst if we do ask it of thee.”

In that moment, the second death of the day very nearly came to pass, for Emeraude’s heart stood still at the sight of none other than her beloved Queen Elizabeth, sitting in all regal glory upon her horse.

“Your Majesty!” Emeraude gasped, dropping down into a deep reverence.

Her Glorious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I! Long may she reign!
(Photo cred to John Karpinsky)

With a benevolent almost-smile, the Queen’s hand motioned in the “rise up” gesture. “It hath reached our ears what hath transpired, this day,” she informed the Criers. “And while the death of our subject Jasper Trustworthy is most unfortunate, we can lay no great blame on the hand that slew him, any more than we could were the killer a suckling babe with a bludgeon waving in its fist.”

“A most just comparison, Your Majesty,” Harold murmured.

“Therefore,” the Queen continued, “let us put the unpleasant incident behind us, noting only that, in future, it might improve the safety of this town were certain Criers to be given smaller, lighter, and less potentially-lethal bells.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” the Criers spoke as one.

The Queen nodded. “‘Tis well. Now, let the parade begin!”

Overcome with joy, relief, and adoration for her monarch, Emeraude exclaimed, “God Save the Queen!”

“GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!” the answering call rose from every present British soul.

Within moments, the processional line was in order. Bells ringing, brass blaring, drums booming, and all faces bright with smiles, the parade stepped out and around and through the streets of Bristol, its Town Criers leading the way and calling ahead to the masses:

Ring, ring, ring. “Make way!” Ring, ring, ring. “Stand aside!” Ring, ring, ring. “Make way for Her Majesty!”

And the crowds of visitors stood in awe, clapped and cheered, and took instant portraits on battery-powered devices that had naught to do with the sixteenth century, all of them blissfully unaware of the Regina ex Machina-resolved drama that had taken place behind the scenes.

But that’s a Renaissance Faire for you.