Time May [Kiss &] Tell

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

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and… Nothing.

“Will!” Allyn whisper-shouts. “That was your cue.”

“Wait, what?!” Will’s voice calls from who-knows-where. “The show’s live now?? But it’s Monday! Danielle never announced a blogging schedule switch!”

“As our band leader may have told you, Danielle has been rather busy turning her entire life upside-down,” Allyn points out. “The old schedule’s right out the window. I expect it’ll be like her days in Germany all over again – blog posts if and when she feels like it, no more predictable than that.”

“Fine, fine. Just lemme grab my other boot. Catch a fellow while he’s in the shower, why don’t you…”

Moments later, Will Scarlet himself hastens – smiling, waving, and briefly maneuvering on one foot – onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Sorry about that hiccup, coming out the gate. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Wikipedia has made brief mention of her thus:

In many works outside the Lancelot-Grail inspired tradition[,] Gawain has sisters. They include […] Clarissant in Chrétien’s Cligés […] An important episode [in Perceval, the Story of the Grail] is Gawain’s liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him. This tale also breaks off unfinished.

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Clarissant aesthetic, found via Tumblr.

“Welcome, Clarissant!” Will greets the noblewoman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why have I actually never heard of you until halfway through the drafting of #CamelotWIP? Like, what the high hell, you don’t even show up in our author’s brainstorming notes!”

Clarissant’s mild blink is a peeved cousin of her celebrated brother’s. “To the first, I can only suppose that legend did not find me enough of a villainess to be of concentrated importance to Uncle Arthur’s narrative. Damsels are quested for and forgotten. Girl-siblings, unworthy of mention, unless they provide a nephew of note.” A semi-smile touches her lips. “Only the wicked and the witches leave their mark. Danielle might never have come across my name, were it not for some muse-born conviction that her Gawain had a sister, lost to time. Why she doesn’t seem to have bothered to plan my story arc on paper before working it into her novel, I cannot say. Perhaps she worked out enough of her plans verbally, with Tirzah, that she felt confident she had things sufficiently ordered in her head.”

“What is your arc in the novel? Or, at any rate, what can you tell us of it without mega-spoilers?”

“My part in the tale begins where the first Camelot ends,” says she, tidying any runaway wisps in her thick brown braid. “Its civil war finished and the Round Table decimated, I’m placed in the sideline role oft allotted to women: Alive and alone, left to pick up the pieces. I could have chosen to remain where I was. Instead, I looked to the Fey and seized upon a quest for the future Camelot.”

“Audacity!” Will approves.

“Desperation,” Clarissant corrects. “When you feel you’ve already lost everything, what’s to fear of further risk?”

“That… sounds like a mood I know.”

She studies the sorrow at his smile’s edges. “Yes, I believe we do have that in common, however differently we channel it.”

“Not so very differently, in essentials,” Will maintains. “It’s not as if either of our paths could be called sane.”

“Or called separate,” Clarissant notes. “Indeed, my path intersected with yours in a most astonishing way.”

“And with Allyn’s!”

“Of course with Allyn’s. His powers of protagonism are nothing short of cosmic.”

“Because he is a Chosen One,” says Will. “Whereas you, lady of Orkney, are one who chose.”

“Lady of Listeneise,” says Clarissant, a pleased shade of pink rising in her plump cheeks at Will’s words. “I have been wed and widowed, you know.”

“Belated congrats and condolences. So, now that Danielle’s given you a space in her Camelot legend, what would you most like to be remembered for?”

Clarissant_play
Also, it seems she has lately inspired a stage play! One review found here.

“Part of me would say my destination,” Clarissant says thoughtfully. “Another part would say my journey. Each is its own kind of important, in a tale. Above all, I think I would like to be remembered as my own knight. My own champion and hero, lacking only the title and shiny trappings that would have been mine as they were my brothers’, had I been born a boy. I’d have been one of the Round Table’s best, I don’t doubt.”

“And which side would you have fought for, at Camlann?”

An indelicate snort. “For Arthur’s, naturally. And would have talked my more foolish brothers ‘round into doing the same.”

“Sounds like the right choice, to me! And while we’re on the subject of choices: Tell me, Clarissant, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A smile of epic proportions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, I hardly think our author has much time for secrets, these days. You and I may as well share a kiss.”

Thus saying, Clarissant leans forward to set a kiss each to the smile lines bracketing Will’s mouth. Aforesaid lines crease into their customary position as Will calls out, “Ho, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Once and Future Camelot’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now in paperback (here) and e-book (here and here)

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

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

To Bring the Storm (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “His first entrance in ‘To Walk the Storm’ came with this description:

The Stormbringer appeared. Taller than the most overgrown Great Lander. Stronger than the sturdiest of spine trees. Smooth skin brighter than copper, long hair blacker than core-fire rock, eyes that flashed like his blazing veins of lightning.

“Although, of course,” Allyn continues, “my first introduction to him, in ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’, went more like this:

“Euroval,” said the last of the male winds, the utterance of his name punctuated by an assault of lightning and thunder before he stepped up to present his hand. “Wind of the East.” And at the end of it all, Allyn’s fingers felt warm and dry again, though his whole arm was left tingling and his ears ringing for minutes afterward.

Allyn had never been so politely terrorized in his life.

“Wait…” Will Scarlet’s face has paled from ruddy-golden-fair to seen-a-ghost white. “The Stormbringer is Euroval?!”

“One and the same,” the wind rasps melodically, gusting down into the chair across from Will’s own. His smile glints wickedly. “Nice to see you again, Scarlet.”

“Um, ha! Yes! Totally!” Will falters, his answering smile too wide by half. “Welcome, Euroval! So glad you could join me. First things first – why did no one warn, ah, notify me you’d be coming today?”

Euroval crosses his legs, hair wafting around complacently. “You scheduled an interview with the Stormbringer of the Far Eastern Isles. That is the name my people address me by.”

Will startles. “You have a people?”

“Of course I do. I am the Wind of the East. Thus, the people of the east – the Islanders – belong to me.”

“Why under Welken would the Sun give you a whole region of people to kill with impunity??”

“Kill?” Euroval flashes in disdain. “With an entire world of worthless humans to kill, why would I attack those who belong to me? Who worship me? Who actually care that I exist,” he hisses, “when no one else on earth or in Sky really does?”

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The high-key anxiety radiating from Will takes a sudden dive into something like sympathy. “What makes you think no one else cares?”

Euroval stares Will down from beneath half-lowered lids. “Do you know what my name means?”

“What, Stormbringer?”

“No, fool. Euroval. ‘Realm of nothingness.’ So did the Sun call the Far East’s desert isles, and so did he name me. He thinks me the least of his winds, and my territory the least of his lands. On that last count, the self-important humans of the Great Land agree with him. They live in careless ignorance of my people’s ways, thinking themselves superior simply because they and their land are the larger. You, Allyn,” the wind addresses his great-nephew. “Do you think the traveling Islanders that were your father’s family wouldn’t have sought to move higher in western society, were they allowed? Do you think the famed Gant-o’-the-Lute would have had quite as effortless a minstrel career if he had happened to take after his mother’s dark, foreign looks?”

Euroval returns his full-force glare to Will Scarlet, the crackling air’s movement around him not quite a tornado. “To the world at large, the Islanders and I are all Euroval. Thus do I consider it us against the larger world.”

“Damn,” says Will. “So much for fairy tales. I can’t believe Wilderhark’s racist.”

“Everyone’s racist,” says Euroval, bored. “Every group has a ‘them’ they can blow off as ‘less than us’. For me, as a Welken, that lesser ‘them’ is you humans – excepting the ones from my islands.”

“Huh. So, are the other winds like that about the people in their territories? Aquinore with those in the Farthest North, Austeryn with those in the Farthest South, Vesparya…?”

Euroval laughs a crack of thunder. “Of course not. Aquinore has love for no one and shows no mercy. To be Austeryn’s human favorite would likely mean he extends your life to torture you the longer.”

“(Sounds like an author,)” Will mutters to Allyn.

“And Vesparya…” Euroval flicks a hand. “She’s not worth talking about.”

“(Lesser ‘them,’)” Allyn mutters to Will.

Will inquires of the East Wind, “Do you think having a prominent role in this new short story of Danielle’s will bring you something closer to the recognition you deserve?”

Euroval shrugs. “It’s better than nothing. But the count so far is seven Wilderhark Tales and a short story collection focusing on a silly lot of Great Landers, and the two short stories of ‘Beyond Her Infinity’ that still have a silly lot of Great Landers in them, despite the subtitle ‘Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea’. To date, Danielle knows more words in the language of the Sky than she does in my Islanders’ tongue – several versus zero. So I’m pleased at my story’s publication, but far from impressed at any effort toward… what’s the word humans like fuss about? Equality.”

“Harsh,” says Will. “But not unfair. My final question, however, has ever been asked of all, regardless of race or culture. Tell me, Euroval, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Will’s smile regains its nervous edge. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, do let’s kiss, Scarlet,” the wind purrs, rising from his chair, dragging his host to him with invisible, inescapable force. “For old times’ sake.”

Will accidentally looses a whimper, but rules are rules, and so their lips meet amidst a wild swirl of stage detritus and a dazzling lightning show. The building’s electricity burns out. Will’s hair is a corona of static. Allyn thinks it best to hurry ahead to the word from their sponsor before the whole of the talk show set comes apart.

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” Allyn pitches his voice over the weather, “is brought to you by ‘To Walk the Storm’ from ‘Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (e-book only) for just 99 cents!

Beyond Her Infinity

Once upon a time, you knew tales of Wilderhark’s Great Land.

But what of the Isles to the Far East?

In “Beyond Her Infinity”, Wilderhark Tales author Danielle E. Shipley spins two short stories with leading roles from the fairytale world’s minority culture.

“The Queen’s Lady” – Three gallant royal guardsmen learn just how far one Islander will go for the sake of her friend: Into a strange land. Into a cruel exile. Even into the hands of a darkly dangerous power.

“To Walk the Storm” – With his country falling to ruin, a king sends his heirs in search of foreign aid. But the favor of the Isles’ supernatural patron is not so easily won.

Tales of loyalty. Tales of passion. Most of all, tales of true love.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says numbly, dropped half-breathless back into his chair as the air falls still with the wind’s departure. “Thanks to you, too, Euroval! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

A Melody o’ the Moon (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her introductory paragraph in ‘The Queen’s Lady’ describes her thus:

Quite commonly dark, with eyes like shadows and smiles like a wicked secret. Her hair moved about her head like a rain-laden cloud, vast and black, and some thought it a match for her disposition, which was prone to be as erratic and louring as a flash-and-thunder storm. Still, her heart, for all its grimmer points, was true. In the tongue of her people, her name meant Moon’s Melody.

“Welcome, Moon’s Melody!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – would you say you or Annabelle Gray bear the more flagrant resemblance to Danielle?”

Melody glowers. “Who is Danielle?”

“Who—” Will startles. “You don’t know our author?? Sorry, I just assumed— That is, most everyone else of hers who stops by her blog has been in some sort of communication with her, so… wait, how did you even get on this show, then??”

“I was invited,” Melody snaps – defensiveness in her tone, anxiety in her fingers’ tight grip on her chair’s armrests. “The Azurite Grenadier said someone wished to speak with me about my ongoing ordeal, so I let him lead me hence. Am I unwanted here, as well?”

Queen's Lady 02

“No, no,” Will hastens to assure her. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

Wrong. I’m supposed to be far, far from here – on my island, with my Joy.”

“Your joy?”

“Morning Joy,” says Melody, voice softened by warmth and woe. “My dearest friend in all the world – which I can all the better say now that I’ve seen a bit more of it than just the Isles. Such a very big world,” she sighs. “And so much wrong with it.”

“So I’ve many a time heard Robin Hood lament. Now, word is you’ve been banished from Berulduir’s royal city. Berulduir…” Will cranes around to look at Allyn. “Why does that name sound familiar?”

“Flashback,” Allyn calls out. The stage lights dim, a screen pulls down, and up plays a projection of a scene snipped from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”:

“Here, Will, I’ll do it,” Allyn volunteered. “My name is Benedeck, and—”

“That’s not a name,” Will said tightly.

“Certainly it is. My parents had a double-wedding with a king named Benedeck. Anyway, I’m Benedeck, my wife’s name is Berta, we live in Berulduir—”

“You live /where/??”

“Berulduir. The kingdom on the northern shore of the Peasecod Sea.”

“Never heard of the place.”

“And I’ve never heard of Aberdeen!” said an exasperated Allyn. “Are you going to let me play, or aren’t you?”

“Ha, yes,” Will chuckles as the stage returns to normal. “Official Outsider road trip game. Classic.” Addressing Melody, he asks, “Do you and your three grenadier friends play any games like that while on the road of exile?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Garnet Grenadier wished to,” Melody says dubiously. “He’s a bit of an over-energetic sort; always trying to brighten up the mood. Carries himself rather like you, actually. Looks and sounds a lot like you, too.” She glances past Will toward Allyn. “And the Azurite Grenadier looks and sounds something like you.”

“No surprise there,” says Will, grinning. “Your tale’s autobiographical for our author, Melody. You’re basically her, Garnet and Azurite are repping for me and Allyn, and… hmm, the readers still haven’t properly met the man behind the Iolite Grenadier, for all his importance to Danielle’s head.”

Melody frowns. “So this Danielle suffered what I do? And you two were royal guards?”

“Nothing to do with royalty, no,” says Will. “Not in my case, anyway. We were just the friends there to help prop up her courage when–”

“Some despicable foreign king turned her out?” Melody finishes darkly.

“Pfft. Not a king,” Allyn sniffs. “Just some nobody man who happened to be in a position of power.”

“And what of her Joy?” Melody demands, eyes brimming with tears. “What of mine?”

“Her Joy’s doing just fine,” Will promises gently. “She made it out of her own bad spot all right. As for you and yours, it’s  a fairy tale, love. Happy ever after isn’t guaranteed, but is highly probable. Now onto the ending question anyone could predict: Tell me, Melody, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He beams brightly. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Melody wrinkles her nose. “I don’t kiss men.”

“Women?”

“No.”

“Drat. That doesn’t leave much room for kissing at all.”

“True,” says Melody. “Also true: If, as you say, the whole of my story is essentially a retelling of Danielle’s own experience, it’s bound to contain her secrets. Secret pain, secret fear, secret ways of surviving her nightmare so her friend won’t be without her.”

“Excellent point, well made,” Will concedes. “Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Queen’s Lady’ from ‘Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (e-book only) for just 99 cents!Beyond Her Infinity

Once upon a time, you knew tales of Wilderhark’s Great Land.

But what of the Isles to the Far East?

In “Beyond Her Infinity”, Wilderhark Tales author Danielle E. Shipley spins two short stories with leading roles from the fairytale world’s minority culture.

“The Queen’s Lady” – Three gallant royal guardsmen learn just how far one Islander will go for the sake of her friend: Into a strange land. Into a cruel exile. Even into the hands of a darkly dangerous power.

“To Walk the Storm” – With his country falling to ruin, a king sends his heirs in search of foreign aid. But the favor of the Isles’ supernatural patron is not so easily won.

Tales of loyalty. Tales of passion. Most of all, tales of true love.

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

For All She’s Worth (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

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

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her author summarizes her thus:

Formerly a small-town barmaid, Molly Worth spent a brief stint as a captain of a stolen ship before joining another captain’s crew. Now the cabin boy aboard the Painted Lady, she can be found bonding with a winged child, tolerating cryptic conversation with an alleged witch, and keeping an ear out for the malevolent songs of a sea monster.

“Welcome, Molly-girl!” Will greets the lass now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why are you frowning at me like that?”

Softly, but by no means indecisive, Molly says, “I don’t want you calling me that.”

“What, ‘Molly-girl’? But isn’t that what Crow calls you?”

“Crow is my captain,” Molly points out. “And I didn’t want him putting ‘girl’ where my ‘Worth’ belonged, either, the first time. But he got himself into the habit of it anyway, and I got out of the habit of minding it. From him. You and I don’t know each other yet, so just ‘Molly’ will do.”

“As you like it,” Will concedes. “So help me know you. What is it, exactly, that draws you to the sea?”

“It was the songs, first,” Molly muses. “The ones sailors sing. We get a lot of them, sailors, in Lower Lee, where I lived ‘til lately. They float in from all over the place, and they bring their lore with them, set to song. It makes their adventures and their everyday sound so much more than what I knew of land, and they— well, the songs sounded like the sea smells, if that makes sense to you. I could close my eyes and feel it like a rolling deck and taste it like a salty breeze. It put a hunger in me I didn’t know how to fill, ‘til Jessica came.”

“Jessica being…?”

“The living ship I stole,” says Molly, matter-of-fact. “It’s not only songs, but voices that called me seaward. I heard Jessica’s voice, and it asked me to take her. I heard the voice of the sea wolf,” – her round, brown face clouds over – “which wasn’t exactly a sea wolf after all… I don’t know, yet, what it’s asking of me. I don’t know what it means that I can hear these things that others can’t. I could hope it’s due to my being destined for greatness or made of magic, but more probably it’s a sign of ballad-worthy tragedy. Not best fun to think on it, really.”

“I know minstrels who’d say otherwise, but I’m all for ignoring tragedy in favor of amusing distractions. So, what’s been the funniest thing you’ve encountered on the Painted Lady?”

“The funniest?” Molly stares a while into the thinking distance before replying. “That’s more a question to ask of someone like Murdoch, the navigator. She’s the sort always ready to laugh. I suppose Semsen (boatswain, master gunner, cook, etc.) can be funny, in his sour way. Or maybe it’s only Crow who’s always making jokes of him. The captain seems to share some of your predilection for amusing distractions. As for what’s likeliest to get a smile out of me, that’s got to be little Johnny.”

“Odd,” Will remarks, “when the Little John I know is likeliest to scare the smile right off my face.”

“Johnny, not John. And the ‘little’ isn’t so much a part of his name as a way of saying we’re talking about the boy, not Captain Johnny Crow.”

“And not just any boy, but the boy with wings,” Will notes. “Does he ever take you flying?”

“Not apart from the night we first met, no. His wings are strong, but he’s only a child. He can’t go hauling his elders about for recreation. Our time’s mostly spent talking, or playing cards and such, or oh, you should hear him sing! His voice isn’t for me alone, but it’s no less extraordinary. Just, maybe you should avoid trying to helm a ship, while he does it. Blood could out.”

“Duly warned. And speaking of warnings, be informed that we’re heading now into this talk show’s signature waters. Tell me, Molly Worth, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet’s smile sparkles like a sunlit sea. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Molly considers him solemnly. “I’ve never been one for giving out secrets or kisses, afore now. Then again, I wasn’t one for practically turning pirate until just a short while ago. And yours does look an inviting mouth…” Her gaze travels up from said mouth to his eyes. “What will it mean to you, if I kiss you?”

“Mean? Oh, not much of anything,” says Will, brightly expectant. “Everything in good fun, you understand.”

“All right, then. I suppose we can try it.”

Rising from her chair, Molly crosses the short space between them and touches her lips to Will’s, the act lingering just a little too long for perfect innocence. Scarlet tips a bit forward as she withdraws, as if physically tugged along.

“Good Lord,” says he. “I think I’ve just fallen a little in love with you.”

Molly’s expression crimps frownward. “It will pass. Kiss the arm of your chair, next, and swoon about that. You’re too hopeless by half, Cr— Will Scarlet.”

“Alas for the truth of it,” Will sighs. “Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (both in e-book and, at too long last, paperback)!

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

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

Lifesong of a Sjordan (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

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

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “His captain introduced him thus:

“Narles Semsen, boatswain, carpenter, master gunner, cook…” Crow paused. “What /don’t/ you do, Semsen?”

“Precious little,” Semsen said.

“Remind me to give you a raise, sometime.”

“Welcome, Mr. Semsen!” Will greets the sea dog now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what’s the matter with your face?”

“Referring to this little beauty mark, I take it,” the man drawls, the accent vaguely evocative of something Scandinavian, with a gesture to the scar carved deep into his otherwise handsome right cheek. “One guess if you know him, and two if you don’t. Call it my most obvious souvenir from an early adventure with one Johnny Crow.”

“Oh, no, yeah, I knew about that,” Will waves him off. “I meant, like, do you never smile? You look like you never smile.”

“I’m Sjordan,” says Semsen, expression flat. “Sjorda’s not for smiles.”

“No? What would you say your homeland’s for?”

“Mostly for freezing out the bits you don’t need.” One mouth’s corner twitches into something near a smirk, if not a smile. “Along with some of the bits you do. She’s a land with a heart of ice, is Sjorda. Hard to live with, and harder to live without, if you’re one of hers. Much like the sea, that way. Not to be wondered, then, why so many of hers turn sailor.”

“When did you make the turn, yourself?”

“Early on,” he replies. “All but born on the water. My old granny and dad were fishers, and taught me half I know of living afloat. Then they got themselves killed in a summer storm, leaving me on my own at eleven years old. I maybe could have made something respectable of myself, but chose piracy instead.” He studies one hand’s rough-cut fingernails dispassionately. “Never was one to swallow grief the sensible way.”

“Fascinating,” says Will Scarlet, looking as intensely fascinated as only Will Scarlet can, on the off chance he’s paying attention. “How long before your path linked up with the famed Johnny Crow’s?”

“Just a few years more. Both of us in our teens. Met him by a different name, of course. He wouldn’t be Johnny Crow ‘til after we acquired his ship.”

“How did he come up with his captain name? Did you help?”

Semsen snorts lightly. “For all I know for true, the author just took ‘Jack Sparrow’ and ran down a side street. Far as we were concerned, though, he wanted his birth name, just less done up in Chesney frills and foppery. So he took on the Hornish translation, seeing as Hornwhal’s the brute muscle of the seafaring nations. I had naught and nothing to do with it, same as with any mad decision he makes.”

“Does he not consult with you, then?”

“If I want talk, I’ll take Anafrid,” says Semsen – meaning the Painted Lady’s second-in-command, also Sjorda-born. “If Crow wants talk, he’ll take any wall with an ear. We’re not for talk with each other. Crow’s not my friend, Scarlet. Only my life.”

Will tips his head. “Less than a friend, but more than a captain. And just how do you suppose he thinks of you?”

Semsen’s face looks farther from smiles than ever. “I would suppose he tries not to. I’m not a soul for him to think about, just a body to be used.” A short scratch of a laugh. “It’s the cruelest of ironies, but why should any man ask him for better? If ever I’m done with it, I’ll leave. Until then, I stay. I’ve told you about me and grief.”

“So you have,” Will says wistfully. “And here’s your chance to disclose even more. Tell me, Semsen, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet regards him, eyes full of unspoken questions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Kiss you?” Another snort. “Not for any amount of money you’re offering. And I don’t know about secrets, but there’s one bit of trivia I could tell, regarding Sjorda. Danielle thought at first to call it Ferda, and actually wrote it so in her first drafts, only to realize a wintry country by that name already exists, in the Grishaverse of Leigh Bardugo. It’s first come, first claim, in the creative world, so our girl had to find something else. Maybe I’m biased after the fact, but I like the look and sound of Sjorda better. Like a fjord and a sword and a song on the tongue. I gladly call it home.”

“And I’d gladly visit,” says Will, “up until my necessaries freeze off. Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – coming Valentine’s Day, aka February 14th. (E-book editions available for pre-order here and here.)

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

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

A Chat to Crow About (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “His companions have thought of Captain Johnny Crow or called him thus:

To his biggest feathered fan, he’s ‘the cleverest captain ever’.  To his cabin boy, ‘a cryptic creature who cavorted with seal maidens, seirenes, and sea-blue witches’. To the woman whose heart he’s held close as a second skin, ‘a terrible man’. And were you to ask him, he’d probably say it only gets worse and truer from there.

“Welcome, Captain Crow!” Will greets the gentleman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – where did you get that daring coat?”

“Daring?” There’s an ironic tilt to the smile on Crow’s face, shapely and smooth in spite of years at the mercy of the sea and its weather. “There’s not much daring about wearing a lady’s dresscoat in the privacy of one’s own ship. Were I to go like this ashore in half the northern countries – hair unbound and hatless, women’s outerwear on brazen display, my face… well, my face being my face – Dis only knows what patriarchal fate the local menfolk would think to set upon me.”

Will presses a palm to his own chest. I’m local menfolk.”

“Which is why,” says Crow, crossing one leg over the other and tossing his head back to stare at the ceiling, “I had conflicting thoughts about showing up for this interview. But I can be daring, when the mood gets into me. And in any case, Scarlet, you’d have walked in wearing this coat’s very twin, if matching fashion statements were the done thing. It’s mostly red, after all. As for where I got mine? Nowhere special. Some shop in some town. Stupidly expensive, but it is and isn’t your own money you’re spending, when you’ve found it in the hold of a pirated ship.”

Will sits forward, chin propped on hands and eyes a-dazzle. “You talk like you’ve lived all kinds of adventures.”

“I’ve had my share,” Crow acknowledges. “Hard to help it, when you choose the sea life – or the sea life chooses you. Put yourself in the Sea Queen’s hands, and you’ll likely find it a tempestuous hold.”

“For the benefit of we landlubber types, just who is the Sea Queen, and what are your personal views on Her Majesty?”

“How was it Molly thought of it?” Crow mused, his smile returning warmer than before. “ ‘The reputedly mighty Dis,’ her mind put it; ‘the heart and the ruler of all the world’s oceans.’ That’s what just about any sailor I’ve met would call her, and I’d add nothing to contradict it. She’s my goddess; my boss sitting sovereign in her underwater office, I suppose I halfway think of her. I give her what percentages she’s due and address all my prayers and petitions to her desk. It’s partway just a seafarer’s religion to take for granted, but that could make it sound like she doesn’t really matter to me, and she does. I love her like I did my own mother, rest her soul. My heart calls her a friend, even if I don’t expect the sea calls anyone friend or foe. It’s just a world to hold in balance, for her. Nature isn’t fair, but has no favorites.”

“If Dis were to pick a favorite from among your crew, who would it be?”

A startled laugh from Crow. “I haven’t the first idea how to guess. We’ve all of us chosen her, in our own ways, which is enough to bless or damn us. In her place, I might pick Murdoch, on account of her being an arguably purer part of the sea than others. On the other hand, it’s Anafrid who takes the care to make sure Dis gets all her proper offerings when it might have slipped anyone else’s mind.” He grimaces. “I’d like to think she wouldn’t pick me simply because I’m so pretty, but that’s been the sort of luck I was born to, so why call it impossible? The surest answer, though, would have to be Miss Molly Worth.”

“And why’s that?”

Another smile, just shy of a laugh. “She’s the novel’s protagonist. You want blessing and damning in heavy measure, that’s the position to get.”

“Allyn-a-Dale would agree with you hard. But never-minding favorites, you’ve got one more choice to make: Tell me, Captain, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet sits up hopefully. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

A look of alarm flashes through Crow’s eyes before he pulls his smile back in place. “If you want hilarious, we can talk about Danielle’s struggle to come up with a name for my ship. You see, in the midst of her brainstorming phase, she made the mistake of asking her family for suggestions over dinner. Told them what she had in mind at the moment was something like the [Verb or Adjective] Rook. And somehow her family’s helpfulness degraded into simply proposing the same name over and over. A lot of, ‘How about the Raging Rook?’ ‘Maybe… the Raging Rook?’ ‘Wait, wait, I’ve got it: The Raging Rook.’”

Will Scarlet guffaws. “Small wonder she cut her nets on that side of the boat and went with the Painted Lady instead. Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“The Raging Rook. I jest,” Allyn says sedately, while Will hits the floor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – coming Valentine’s Day, aka February 14th. (E-book editions available for pre-order here and here.)

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

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

A Ghostly Guest, Plus One Xtra (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

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

Allyn says, “The blurb for the novel ‘So Super Dead’ – the release of which is, not coincidentally, today – describes her thus:

Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

“Wait a minute,” says Will, looking around. “While you read the introduction is when the narration’s all, ‘As the guest enters from the other side of the stage’, right? So…” He gestures to the empty chair across from him. “…Where’s the guest?”

“Oh, sorry!” calls a voice from the back of the house – the voice of a different ‘So Super Dead’ protagonist altogether. “I forgot. Brenna is there. You just can’t see or hear her. Because she’s a ghost.” After a moment’s attention focused toward the guest chair, the speaker relates, “And she’s peeved about that.”

“Peeved about which part?” Will asks. “Being here, being undetectable, or being a ghost?”

“All of the above.”

“Hmm. Well, that complicates matters more than usual, but hang all, it’s ‘So Super Dead’s release day, so we’re making this episode work! Allyn, rustle up another armchair! You in the back, come on down! And everyone, give it up for Nicky, aka Xtra-Medium!”

PowerPuff Nicky
Xtra-Medium to the rescue!

As the impromptu second guest heads for the stage, Allyn quotes from memory while rearranging furniture:

Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

“Welcome, Nicky!” Will greets the guest he can see. “And Brenna, if Nicky says you’re here. So glad you both could join me. First things first – if you knew no one would be able to properly interact with you, Brenna, why did you even bother to come here today?”

Nicky glances Brenna’s way, then back to Will. “She says, ‘Nicky’s not technically no one.’ Hey, thanks! …Sort of. And she’d assumed that you would be able to interact with her, since that three-part character Q&A we did, a while back, went without a hiccup. But I guess your talk show follows its own logic?”

“All my special blog features do,” Will says complacently. “And calling it ‘logic’s being generous. Now, Brenna, I know you canonically don’t like much of anything, but if you had to pick a favorite aspect of your newly released book, what would it be?”

“Quote, ‘I like when Thackeray Kyle suffers,’ ” says Nicky, grimacing. “ ‘And the villain, while hideous on the inside, has some irrefutably hot outsides. And I guess I’m Team Luminatrix; she’s mostly legit, compared to the screwball crowd she runs with.’ ”

“What about you, Nicky?” Will asks, his inclusive and encouraging grin getting a return smile out of the ghost interpreter. “Favorite book thing?”

“Well, not to be braggy, but I do like the narrative voice I bring to the story. Fun and informal, but it can go deep, y’know? And, I mean, I get Brenna’s beef with Thackeray Kyle. He did her dirty, no denying that. But, I dunno…” The mutant teen goes slightly squirmy and flushed. “I like it when he talks.

“…Brenna mutters, ‘You like it when anyone talks.’ She has a point. People talking to each other is good for a story, know what I mean? Lack of communication creates plot problems. And lack of dialogue… sure, there are books like that, but they’re not my kind. And on a not-story level – on a life level – you’ve gotta have somebody to talk to. To unburden yourself, or to help figure our what your self is and what it’s dealing with… That’s it, right there: Talking is dealing with stuff. And I’m so super here for that.”

“You’d be surprised how much talking I can do without dealing with jack-all,” Will says cheerfully. “But I like your zeal, kiddo. Now, for one last question before you two spirit yourselves away. Tell me, Brenna-through-Nicky, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A so super big smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Brenna’s all, ‘You can kiss him if you want,’ ” says Nicky, imitating the ghost’s disdainfully flat manner of speech. “But I’m, uh, not really comfortable with the idea of kissing anybody, so… Gee, which of Danielle’s secrets are left to tell?”

Nicky mulls over the matter, before starting slowly, “This book became a lot more her, the longer we went between its first-drafting and today’s publication. When she conceived and wrote it in 2012, she was several months away from her first big dip into the depression that can still knock her down pretty far, a lot of the time. But even before poor mental health hit her personally, there we were: Brenna with what can be easily read as a clinical case; Thackeray with his violent repression of emotion; and characters like me who had to get up every day, wondering if there was a point to our existence – having to seize onto something to fight for. There’s plenty of times, in recent years, when she’s felt so super dead, or wished to be.” Nicky cracks a small smile at Will. “It’s good she’s got close friends like you to help talk her through, Sherwood hero.”

“You’d better shut up before I cry!” Will bawls, already ugly-crying. “Allyn, do something! A word from our sponsor!”

“We’ve already been over most of it,” says Allyn, “but for those who could use the reminder: Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘So Super Dead’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available today via Amazon (e-book and paperback) and Barnes & Noble (e-book only)!

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

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