Most Likely to Feature a Lot of Will Scarlet

So there I was, responsibly sheltering at home (as one does during a pandemic), playing a bit of catch-up with the blog posts in my email, when I finally got ‘round to enjoying this post from the inimitable Story Sponge.

And though I say ‘inimitable’, I am very much here to imitate her example by participating in the “Voted Most Likely” Writers Tag! – the rules of which are these, to quote the Sponge:

One: Thank the lovely blogger who tagged you.

Two: Include a link to the tag creator’s page (That would be the lovely Phoebe.)

Three: Use your own lovely Original Characters (OC’s); don’t use a friend’s characters or characters from your favorite fandom. They can be from any project, so long as you created them. For more fun, try to use as many different characters as possible.

Four: Tag *at least* five lovely blogger friends to play along.

In the interest of adhering to the whole of rule number three, I will endeavor not to simply answer ‘WILL SCARLET’ in 60% of the categories. This may prove challenging, given the do-anything, say-anything, be-anything nature of my Merry Maniac, but we’ll give it our best.

Ready as ever? Onward!

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Most Likely to Be a Poet

Are we excluding professional minstrels? Because Gant-o’-the-Lute, Allyn-a-Dale, Balladry Sol, ‘n’ ‘em are already poets on the daily. On the amateur level, Sir Bedivere claimed he half-fancied himself a poet, back in the day. And he did compose that lovely verse about the Sword in the Stone, as recited in Outlaws of Avalon 1. So for giggles, let’s go with him.

Most Likely to Dance in the Rain

Rain or shine, sleet or hail, on the ground or in the air, the likeliest to be found dancing is Avelaine. And oh, be still my heart, it would be like watching some gorgeous song from my Yanni channel on Pandora turned into Monet colors, but animated into an award-winning short film.

Most Likely to Look Good in a Kilt

Fun story: Long ago, in the first year of the best-friendship between me and Tirzah Duncan, my imaginary friends and I decided to throw her a birthday party (over the phone) at which absolutely everyone wore kilts. (There were also bagpipes and highland battles in a rainstorm, because when a party’s 100% make-believe, you can afford to pull out all the stops.) If I rightly recall, most of the men present looked dang good in their kilts, but the two that stand out most strongly in my memory are Robin Hood and Austeryn, Wind of the South (who is really too dangerous a character to invite to parties, but like I said, we wanted a rainstorm, and that’s very much Austeryn’s department).

Most Likely to Get Punched in the Face

Aaaaaand there’s our first instance of Will Scarlet! (Not saying that Bedivere isn’t easily as likely to make people want to punch him in the face… he’d just move out of the way before the punch could land.)

Most Likely to Drop Everything and Become a Sheep-Herder

If the knighthood no longer called to him, and/or his mother sent a message to the tune of ‘Please come home and help with the family business, boy-o; we’re struggling, here’, Sir Wilbur Lamb would do precisely that.

Most Likely to Be Found in the Library

Since she and I are basically the same person, y’all already know it’s gonna be Annabelle Iole Gray. And if you can’t find her there, try the bookstore.

Most Likely to Sleep Through an Earthquake

Probably the same one who canonically slept through getting murdered and thrown back in time into a tree. That’s right: Will Scarlet again.

Most Likely to Steal Food from Other People’s Plates

Book 1 found him stealing Robin’s French fries. Book 2 caught him swiping hush puppies from Allyn. Book 3’s poached deer hadn’t even been gutted yet before he was wrestling its slayer for rights to the venison. Give it up for Will Scarlet, folks! The man can’t be stopped!

Most Likely to Cheat on a Test

Cheaters? Have I written any cheaters?… Ah! He’s not been published yet (unless you count his AU insert in “Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son”), but there’s this guy, Jason – been a character of mine since, shoot, my preteens – who would completely cheat on a test. Not because he didn’t know the answers! He might or might not have bothered to study for this test. But the point is, low-grade villainy is entirely his aesthetic. He would cheat for cheating’s sake and call it a fun time. He needs more therapy than my imagination can provide.

Most Likely to Say “Oops” After Setting Something on Fire

Hi, Will.

Most Likely

Most Likely to Open an Orphanage

While any number of my large-hearted characters would happily do so, the one for whom it would be most strongly supported by backstory would be Doctor-King Villem Deere. The nuns of Our Lady of Relentless Sympathy’s children’s asylum had his back for the whole of his youth. He would consider it an honor to pay it forward during his reign.

Most Likely to Run Off with the Circus

Ok, but picture an AU in which Molly Worth replaced her seafaring fascination with a circus obsession! Imagine Ringmaster Johnny Crow and his ragtag troupe of performers! Anafrid, tamer of tigers or something! Semsen, unsmiling clown of all trades! Young Johnny the acrobat / the sideshow’s Mythical Winged Boy! Murdoch… trained seal? And I have no idea how to fit the Kraken into this, but apart from that, “Deathsong of the Big Top” is sounding like a must-read.

Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

I mean, Thackeray Kyle’s already done it once. I’m sure he could swing it again.

Most Likely to Fake Their Own Death

In a weird way… Thackeray Kyle kinda already did that, too? More like faking/not-faking his own death/not-death, but yeah, that happened.

Most Likely to Die and Haunt Their Friends

Allyn’s loved ones have died and haunted him on more than one occasion. Brenna Walsh died and haunted, but had no friends. Nicky “Xtra-Medium” Ellenbogen-Jones would likely want to haunt himmer’s friends upon death, but given that s/he is the only one among them with the power to communicate with ghosts, that could prove difficult… Y’know what, let’s go with Molly Worth again. She straight-up pulled that number in-text.

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The End! My thanks, Story Sponge, for providing this exercise’s inspiration. ‘Twas fun! As for tagging, if anyone is a) reading this, b) possessed of original characters, and c) down to blog about their shenanigan likelihood, I dub thee tagged. And if any o’ y’all think I totally should have voted in a different character of mine for this category or that, set me straight in the comments. (Haven’t met any or all of these characters, but want to? Check out my books page!)

Until sooner or later,

~ Danielle

Love, Letters, and a List

Has anyone else taken notice of a trend, lately, in which books are pitched as “a love letter to [this, that, or the other]”? Like, it’s not just a novel set in a city or country, it’s a love letter to that place. No mere story featuring a certain food or cuisine, but a love letter to that gastronomic experience. That character’s journey of self-discovery via an ‘80s pop musician’s body of work / a genre of film / online gaming / illegal goat racing? A love letter to some past or present obsession that made the author the particular brand of weirdo they are today.

As someone who has neither received nor can recall writing any actual love letters (that one epistolary novel from my authorial youth, may it rest in pieces, doesn’t count), I’m not best qualified to decide whether these vogueish descriptions are accurate, misleading, or running all up and down the spectrum in between. What I do know is, they’ve got me thinking:

If the works of Deshipley were letters, what – or who – would be their loves?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash.com

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The Wilderhark Tales = A Love Letter to … True Love

Sure, I could try to break it down book by book – like, “The Song Caster”, love letter to adventure; “The Sun’s Rival”, love letter to the moon; “The Seventh Spell”, love letter to having met Edgwyn Wyle in “The Stone Kingdom” and needing another novella with him in it, pronto. But as a series, the fairytale magic of True Love™ is the heartsong of it all. The love of a princess for her spell-breaking prince; of minstrels for music; of lonely souls for their place in the sky. It’s as cheesy as it is frikkin’ deep, y’all.

The Outlaws of Avalon Novels = A Love Letter to … the Merry Men

By which I mean not only Robin Hood and his legendary band, but also:

– Friendship and

– Bromance and

– Found/chosen families and

– Sherwood Forest and

– Benevolent crimes and

– Renaissance Faire players (especially the ones trained to wave swords about for show).

“An Avalon Christmas Carol” = A Love Letter to … Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Or a fan letter, at the very least.

“Truly Great Words Never Die” = A Love Letter to … Having Fun with Unusual Words

Likewise, to the founders of Save-a-Word Saturday, who are as much to blame thank for the very existence of this little ebook as I am.

The “Inspired” Novels = A Love Letter to … Imagination

…Or so I wrote in the blurb for their companion journal, before I knew it was cool. ‘Tis only true, though. Imaginary friends. Imaginary worlds. The real-life power that ‘just pretend’ can wield. There wouldn’t be an artwork out there worth calling a letter o’ love without it!

“Date Due” = A Love Letter to … Books and Murder

(Make sure to pronounce the latter with a few extra U’s and R’s, for best effect.)

“So Super Dead” = A Love Letter to … ???

I just… I don’t even know. Sometimes the muse frolics down a path of pure absurdity and all you can do is follow, stopping to pluck the dark, decaying flowers along the way. A labor of love? Absolutely. A letter of love? That may be taking it a bit far.

“Deathsong of the Deep” = A Love Letter to … the Kraken, Of Course!

Which isn’t to say that my tentacled lad was given nearly enough page time, because he was NOT. Something about an entire novel of nothing but Kraken killing people and singing to himself being slightly less compelling than the tale of Molly Worth, Captain Crow, and the crew of the Painted Lady. Like that’s an excuse.

“The Once and Future Camelot” = A Love Letter to … Arthuriana

Most specifically, to the ‘Camelot crowd’ I sorta-kinda met in my Outlaws series, but whom I didn’t truly come to know and grow to love until I began unearthing their full story. Heck, some of them even got letters addressed to them by name on this blog (search ‘Letters to Camelot’ in the sidebar), and I’d assuredly compose even more, if Writer Me weren’t lying unconscious somewhere inside my skull. The legend of Camelot’s fall is, as I’ve often labeled it, the absolute saddest tale ever told, and my emotional wreck of a self is Here For It, body and soul.

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Ever On Word_john-jennings-IcT8l8DDek8-unsplash
Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

Have you encountered any memorable ‘love letter’ descriptions in your media, recently? If your favorite books were love letters, they would be to what/to whom? If you’ve read any of the Deshipley love letters listed above, which most deeply touched your heart and why? Share all in the comments!

Yours with love,

~ Danielle

The Deshipley Holiday E-xtravaganza…and You

“An Ever On Word blog post?” you cry. “After all this time!” you thrill. “Are we at last to pick up where we left off in the chronicle of Danielle’s Bay Area Adventure?!”

Ahhhhhhh, no, not today. My brain, heart, and time are still a bit too full with living the adventure to get it all organized for internet consumption, just yet. However, with The Holidays™ upon us, I realized of a sudden that I wish to celebrate this past year’s tests and triumphs! – to toast the new year and its miracles to come! – and, y’know, if possible, to generate some extra dollars as a buffer between me and continual brokenness. To that end, may I present:

The Deshipley Holiday E-xtravaganza Sale!

For one solid month – from now through January 20thalmost the entirety of the Danielle E. Shipley catalog will be available for 99 cents per ebook!

Via Amazon?” you clarify.

And Barnes & Noble, as well!

All eight volumes of The Wilderhark Tales? 99 cents apiece.

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 5

Inspired” novels 1 and 2? Same.

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”? An outlier: Actually free on Smashwords, December 25th – January 1st. (Cuz third annual Smashwords End of Year sale, yo.) And the follow-up Outlaws of Avalon novels? Again, just 99 cents each from Amazon and B&N.

Ballad and Marriage and Legend

Short story collection “Our Hungering Hearts”? Madcap paranormal “So Super Dead”? High seas fantasy “Deathsong of the Deep”? Fresh-off-the-presses “The Once and Future Camelot”? All! 99! Cents!

And then you’ve got titles like “An Avalon Christmas Carol”, “Truly Great Words Never Die”, “Beyond Her Infinity”, and “Windows and Sol”, which have been priced at 99 cents all along. (Available on Amazon only.)

Add it all up, and you could fill your e-reader with close to everything I’ve ever published for, like, twenty bucks.

Plus, just think: If even only – *does some hasty math* – thirty-ish people did that, I might be in the clear to order the last two pages of illustrations for picture book project “The Princess and the Moon!

Sidebar GoFundMe

“And wouldn’t that just be a Christmas miracle!” you sigh, enraptured.

You are waaay too invested in my life, Voice of Hypothetical You.

And I dig that.

Spend your pennies! Tell your friends! Gift those folks on your list who have everything except a heck-ton of Deshipley fiction! And in case I’m not back on the blog before the dawn of 2020, Happy New Year to you all. ;D

To Agree to Disagree? That is the Question

Once upon a scroll on Twitter, I came across the following question:

“What’s one thing you and your main character would vehemently disagree on?”

Now, obviously, I’ve got several dozen main characters to choose from. And contemplating overt self-insert characters like Annabelle Iole Gray from the “Inspired” novels and Moon’s Melody from “The Queen’s Lady” (part of “Beyond Her Infinity: Tales from Across Wilderhark’s Great Sea” – newly released!) won’t get me very far, given our major overlap in nature. But surely, I thought, I could pick out a few Deshipley MCs with ideas quite contrary to mine.

And so I have. Let the conflict of opinions begin! (Featuring many an Avengers-related illustration, because ‘tis called for.)

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Edgwyn Wyle (MC in “The Stone Kingdom”, “The Seventh Spell”) = Edgwyn and I have actually had a longstanding disagreement demonstrating a fundamental and perhaps irreconcilable difference in worldview. His opinion: It is perfectly okay to slurp one’s soup.

Maybe it’s just as well I never got the chance to marry him.

Avengers Gif_I Don't Like It

Gant-o’-the-Lute (MC in “The Song Caster”, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, “The Story’s End”) = As a virtuoso wandering bard and admittedly something of a superman, Lute believes himself to be the ideal toward which we lesser beings ought in futility to strive – including the author with supposed power of the pen over him. This attitude has caused any number of bitter clashes between us.

Avengers meme_Civil War

Shots were fired. Tears were shed. It’s all in the past now, but only because I guess we’ve mutually decided it’s not a debate worth reopening. Ever.

Mach Jenius (MC in “Out of My Head”) = Quoth our boy Mach:

“I am a brainstorm. And the number one rule of brainstorming? There is no such thing as a bad idea.”

Replied his rival muse:

“That rule,” Luc said through clenched teeth, “is a lie.”

And I’ve gotta side with Luc on this one. This reality I’ve written words in the hundred-thousands to escape is run (quite badly) on bad ideas. Sometimes I’ve dreamt up and thrown out as many as six impossibly bad ideas before breakfast. I understand where Mach is coming from: We often need to shuffle through a few bad ideas before the good ones make an appearance; that’s just the creative process. But to claim that all ideas are equally meritorious in their own way… No, darling Jenius, no.

Avengers Gif_No, Try Again

Abishan (main supporting cast member in “Inspired”, “Out of My Head”) = Not surprisingly, the jungle cat god thinks cats are the best animal. And I mean, I’m practically a cat myself, but dogs, foxes, and krakens are where it’s at, dude.

Avengers Gif_Black Panther Side-eye
Abishan @ me

Liliavaine (MC in “The Surrogate Sea”) = To watch this princess carry on, one would get the impression that it’s better to recklessly go after what you want than to be well-behaved and responsible and maybe not get people killed. Honestly, it’s not even so much that I disagree with that. I’m just too much of a socially anxious, people-pleasing good girl to run away in the night and become the Sea. Bigger disappointment me, really.

Avengers Gif_Black Widow Shrug

Raeve (MC in “A Morrow More”) = This short story heroine (first published in the “One More Day” anthology, re-pubbed in the 2nd edition of “Inspired” when both the 1st edition and the antho went out of print) seems to hold fast the belief that life is inherently worth living, by virtue of it being life. And I’m over here frequently wondering whether death mightn’t actually be the more attractive option. But to each their own.

Arthur Pendragon (MC in “The Once and Future Camelot” … coming sometime this year, if all goes to plan!) = This reanimated king of legend seems to hold fast the belief that people are valuable and worthy of love, by virtue of being people. Oh, sweet Arthur. Too good for this world – too pure. I can only wish to share your heart.

Avengers Gif_I Can't

Johnny Crow (MC in “Deathsong of the Deep”) = This exchange had me shaking my head even as I wrote it:

Molly’s eyes tightened at the corners. “You meant the sort of ridding in which a life is ended before it’s half begun?”

Crow shrugged the shoulder which wasn’t bearing a portion of his weight. “It’s an option.”

“It’s a violation.”

“Violation? Of what?”

“Of a person’s right to life.”

“Right?” Crow’s head tipped to a quizzical angle. “Living isn’t a right. It’s a privilege. If we live, it’s because we’ve been minimally fortunate, not because we /deserve/ to. If living were about deserving, nobody would live long.”

Yeah-yeah-yeah, I know I’ve just been saying that both life and people are bad ideas. And that last line of Crow’s… grr, he’s not wrong. I’m just… very much opposed to the idea that it’s only okay to kill humans who haven’t yet been born to become the humans who’ve actually done things arguably worthy of a death penalty (as opposed to having literally done nothing but exist somewhere they weren’t wanted). That is targeting the entirely wrong demographic, to my view. But this post isn’t about me trying to untangle all my feelings re: life and death, so let’s find another note on which to end.

Avengers Gif_Hulk Punch

Will Scarlet (MC in the “Outlaws of Avalon” series) = Red is the best color, full stop. Enough of anything is never enough. If something scares you, flirt with it. Why plan ahead when you can fly through life by the seat of your hose?

Avengers Gif_Tony Eye-roll

No and no and no.

Also, no.

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How about you, fellow writers? Any big players in your body of work with whom you’ll never see eye to eye? And for you readers, an opposite question: Which characters have you encountered whose notions made you go, “YES. My thoughts EXACTLY”? Discuss in the comments!

The Umbrella Academy Book Tag (Deshipley Edition, Of Course)

Recent Past Me: “What to blog about, what to blog about, what to blog about…?”

Recent Past Me: *comes across this “Umbrella Academy Book Tag” post on paperfury.com*

R.P.M.: “Perfect.”

Thanks to my housemate living half with me, half on Tumblr, I actually heard about the new Netflix original series in time to hop on the bandwagon (normally I’m five to twenty years behind everything, so this is wild), and just finished watching the first (and, so far, only) season a few weeks ago.

Umbrella Academy Tag

To briefly express my opinions in “WHAMO!” fashion:

– Holy cow, this setup is nuts!

– WAIT, WHAT, SOMEBODY ELABORATE ON THE TENTACLES.

– Reginald Hargreeves is trash.

– Klaus is a Will Scarlet archetype.

– How is this time-traveling hit man so relateable??

– Diego is low-key a mama’s boy and a mom.

– Y’all need to sit down and Talk! To! Each! Other!

– This show is a thin veneer of “cool and funny” over an abyss of PAIN AND STRESS.

– Allyn-a-Dale will definitely be doing Vanya’s look in the last episode for Halloween, this year.

– Well, that had me hooked! Will not be needing Season 2 in my life, thank you, I’ve got enough anxiety as-is.

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Now then! Onto the tag, created by It’s My Birth Write on YouTube. As is my usual, I will be answering these book-themed questions ONLY with titles/characters from the Danielle E. Shipley oeuvre, because 1) these posts get written faster when I can focus in on a narrow category and 2) call it my reward for having self-published more books in the last six years than my burnt-out brain can keep an accurate count of.

1 = HELLO: Name the Best First Book in a Series

Cover w Text 06.3, frontSince two books totally counts as a series, let’s give this one to “Inspired”! It’s got a crazy high-concept premise (fictional folks wandering the line between real and imaginary as they search for a new author to house them / tell their stories). It’s got a distinctive cast of characters (each and every one very much themselves, despite having been deliberately fashioned out of other characters of mine). It’s got heart and angst and eloquent waxing on the majesty of art and its creation! Searches for self and belonging! Elements of mystery! The forging of friendships! Not to mention the Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A. “Inspired” didn’t demand its sequel – (Deshipley don’t do cliffhangers, yo) – but it hinted very politely that it would appreciate one, and “Out of My Head” and I were entirely happy to oblige. Wouldn’t cry boo to a third book, either, if I ever get around to writing one…

2 = THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: Name a Big Book Family (dysfunction is optional)

Wilderhark Calendar, October

You want a dysfunctional family? Look no further than the Sky. The Welkens of the Wilderhark Tales are a hot mess – literally, in the case of the sun king, Raeóryn; anti-literally, in the case of Aquinore, Wind of the North. There’s not one healthy sibling relationship in the bunch.

– Raeóryn puts down moon king Lumónd for being the “lesser” light

– Lumónd (and… basically everyone) disdains Raeóryn for being an arrogant dictator

– The brother winds bully their little sister Versparya (West Wind) for the comparative weakness of her breeze and the immutable strength of being their master’s favorite

– Pretty sure Euroval (East Wind) would be slightly less murderous if he didn’t idolize eldest brother Aquinore so

– Pretty sure Austeryn (South Wind) would sell any member of his family to the devil for a slice of cheesecake; and the winds don’t even eat

3 = THE WORLD ENDS IN 8 DAYS: If You Only Had Eight Days Left, Which Book Would You Choose to Be Your Last Read?

Story's End Cover, gallery size

Fortunately, eight days should be time enough to reread all of my books, since High Goodness knows I wouldn’t choose to spend my last week before the apocalypse toiling at my day job. But for my grand finale read, what could be more appropriate than Wilderhark Tales number seven, “The Story’s End”? In addition to worrying over the whispers of fate that warn the end is nigh, I could follow along one last time on the travels of minstrel marvel Gant-o’-the-Lute and his precious little apprentice, the future Allyn-a-Dale. The story would fill me with melancholy, but maybe also a spark of hope. After all, the end of the Wilderhark Tales was only the beginning of the Outlaws of Avalon. Could be that both Allyn and I are on the brink of an all-new adventure…

4 = SPACE BOY: Name a Character Who Plays the Leader, But May Not Be Cut Out For It

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

That’s probably how Arthur Pendragon would describe himself, the poor dear. The Once and Future King of my “Once and Future Camelot” hasn’t had much opportunity to flex his greatness during his afterlife in Avalon Faire, and it’s not doing healthy things for his confidence. But what’s left of his broken kingdom believes in him! As do I! Pendragon for President, 2020!

5 = THROWING KNIVES: What Literary Weapon Would You Want in Your Arsenal?

Song Caster Cover, full spread updateOoh, make mine the Flute Stone from Wilderhark four, “The Song Caster”! I mean, I’ll need to learn to actually play the flute before I’ll be able to wield its unlimited power. But my sister took lessons for years; I’m sure she could give me some pointers … provided I didn’t tell her she was paving the way toward my long-anticipated rise to Dark Lordliness.

6 = I HEARD A RUMOUR: Name a Book That Has a Misleading Plotline

Swan Prince Cover, full spread updateA misleading plotline? Hmm, that’s a toughie. I fancy myself a pretty straightforward taleteller, all told. Although…! I did try my hand at a novella-long misdirection in book one of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Swan Prince”. Obviously, I’m not going to spell it out here, since it’d be Spoiler City for any readers of this post who have yet to experience my little fairytale debut. (Y’all should read it, though. Might not be as polished, storytelling-wise, as my progressively-more-excellent later works, but a nice little audience rightfully fell in love with it anyway.)

7 = KLAUS: Name a Book That Involves the Dead / Ghosts / Etc.

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe dead, ghosts, etc.? Sound like a bite-sized description of my second-most-recent novel, “So Super Dead”! I mean, the whole plot basically boils down to: Ghost girl, wanting revenge on the undead guy who killed her, enlists the help of kid who can talk to dead people; numerous casualties occur. (Also, I want an AU in which Nicky sits down to give Klaus, if not the entire Hargreeves family, some much-needed, talk-it-out therapy.)

8 = THE BOY: Recommend a Book That Plays with Time (whether it be in dual timelines, involving time travel, etc.)

Legend cover 02, frontLookin’ right at you, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. To quote a reviewer:

Just an aside, if you’ve ever wondered how time travel can reasonably happen, read this. It somehow makes perfect sense. Especially coming from Merlin.

…Which just blew my mind and exploded my heart to read, because y’all don’t even know how much I struggle with time-twisting plotlines, and here’s some stranger saying I nailed it! *high fives, Merlin, medieval Sherwood, Excalibur, and any other magical entity that made this moment possible*

9 = VANYA: Name a Character Who Has Buried Potential

Sir Bedivere the One-Handed. That’s all I’ll say on the matter ‘til we’re closer to launch for “The Once and Future Camelot”. *zips lips*

10 = LUTHER AND ALLISON: Name a Questionable Book Couple, and Why You Do or Don’t Like Them

They may not be my most controversial couple – (that honor probably goes to Austeryn and his wife in “The Surrogate Sea”) – but let’s talk about Gant-o’-the-Lute and Viralei of Carillon (Wilderhark Tales, three through seven). Obviously, what they had is True Love, else the spellwork of a certain Anarchwitch wouldn’t have broken with a kiss. Even so, this minstrel/princess pair seems to argue that a love can be true, yet still be unhealthy. She loved him like a hero. He loved her like music. But I have to doubt that they ever really saw each other, “The Sun’s Rival”-style. Viralei never would have tried to keep Lute in a castle, otherwise. And Lute’s heart, bless and/or shake your fist at it, never really understood the first thing about caring for people in the way that’s best for them. So do I like these two as individuals? Sure. Am I grateful their union gave us Allyn? Absolutely. Do I think their marriage was wise? No, I do not.

11 = HAZEL AND CHA CHA: Pick a Deadly Book Duo

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Let’s just say if Molly Worth and the Kraken from “Deathsong of the Deep” ever decided to tackle a hit list together, it would be some DEATH TO BEHOLD.

12 = GOODBYE: What’s the Best Finale?

“The Once and Future Camelot” will be. Watch this space.

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Ta-da! Wanna be tagged? You’re it! Have you watched “The Umbrella Academy”? Share your thoughts in the comments! Based on my reactions to this show, is there anything else you think I should be watching on Netflix?

Release the #KrakenTat

Once upon a time, an author sat in a tattoo parlor on the isle of Maui. She wasn’t there for herself, but for her sister, who had taken it into her head to get some fresh ink during their vacation with an uncle, and between the pair of them, the author was the only one old enough to drive the rental car.

So while the sister got her work done in the back, the author passed the time by scribbling semi-illegibly in her journal, the words wandering into a conversation with one of her closest characters about what sort of tattoo she would go for, if ever she did. She was pretty sure she never would, out of fear that she’d decide a month or a year or a decade too late that she was tired of seeing any one design etched permanently onto her person. But if she did…

“A kraken,” the character said, without hesitation. “I could totally see you with a tentacle tattoo. […] Same for something with the moon.”

Because that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And that character – surely to no one’s surprise – was Will Scarlet. Perhaps more surprising, that very day was the one Danielle envisioned the matching tattoos worn by Will and Allyn in “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”.

And most surprising of all, Will Scarlet was 100% on point. Because three years later – coincidentally just weeks after the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” (aka #KrakenBook) – I do most proudly introduce to you… #KrakenTat.

KrakenTat Tryptich
#KrakenTat at 2 hours old.

The Design: Circling the right arm just below the elbow, a musical stave with a treble clef, in which some of the stave’s lines form the irregular peaks and valleys of a soundwave. Rising therefrom, a trio of tentacles, one of which curves possessively around a crescent moon at my wrist.

The Brainstorm Behind It: If I was going to get a tattoo – which I unexpectedly found myself more and more eager to do – it had to be deeply and undeniably me. Hence the tentacles (my soul is a sea monster) and the moon (my soul mate in the sky). I thought at first to have the encircling band in my design look like actual water (my element, naturally), but my searches online for inspiration / a guide for my future tattoo artist yielded nothing that hit me quite right.

What did hit me: Music. (My language beyond words.) And finding an image of a soundwave stave pleased me doubly because, again, “Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” matching tats. (Anything to feel closer to my brothers in Sherwood!)

I wasn’t originally thinking to include the treble clef, but when my artist – (Antonio of Mod&Art Studio) – kept it as part of his rough-draft sketch for my approval, I decided it wasn’t broke and needed no fixing. Also originally, I’d imagined having one or more the tentacles curling all the way around my forearm. But again, the rough-draft sketch didn’t do that, and I liked the way it looked as-was, so I didn’t push the circling tentacles, just the circling stave.

The (3-to-4-Hour) Moment of Truth: The number-one question I’ve received since showing off my new tattoo = “[How much] did it hurt?”

My answer = “It varied.”

Antonio warned me the wrist would likely be the most painful area, and he spoke the truth. On much of my forearm, the pain wasn’t generally much worse than the sensation of a prolonged scratch. On the wrist, though, it felt more like someone was trying to murder me and make it look like a suicide.

I’d hoped Tirzah might be there to distract me and/or keep my spirits up, since she happened to have the day off of work. But alas, the reason she took off work in the first place was because she had a cold, and Antonio requested that she not bring her sniffle-and-cough germs into the workspace. Fair enough. I was on my own.

Fortunately, there was some diversion in the form of a mounted TV bingeing “Good Girls” on Netflix. Over the course of my appointment, I – and a couple of ladies who showed up later to get inked by the other artist in da house – kept us all entertained by offering commentary on the fictional women getting in over their heads in a money laundering racket. And when even that wasn’t enough to take my mind off my arm’s suffering, I internally tapped out and had one of my Camelot knights sit through it for me. (#ChivalryLives)

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190228_152427952_BURST000_COVER_TOP
The tat-in-progress pic sent to Tirzah during a short break in my ow-ow-ow marathon.

Even with the foresight to eat a big breakfast before what I’d been warned would be a 3-to-4-hour job, by the end, my body was very much ready for food and the cessation of toughing out pain. (Just ha-a-ad to insist on inking a full-circle musical stave bracelet, did I? Ow.) I’d planned to remind Antonio I’d mentioned wanting some white ink added to the moon, but the thought of more work on the wrist did not appeal to me at that point, so I let it go. Antonio gave some brief after-care instructions, I paid up, and Tirzah – back just in time to catch the end of my ordeal – treated me to Ethiopian dinner.

Then came the fun part! Aka, anxiety re: what if I somehow manage to screw up my tattoo skin care and EVERYTHING IS TRAGEDY?!

In order to calm myself down, I spent part of the next morning looking around online for second, third, and fourth opinions for the “so, you just got a tattoo” crowd.

A few generally agreed upon do-s and don’t-s:

DO – Keep the skin clean with antibacterial soap (unscented preferred)

– Avoid prolonged exposure to water (especially chemical pool water) and sun

– Use some manner of protection against germs and drying out (Antonio prescribed thin layers of diaper rash cream A+D, applied as needed over the first four days, and Jergens ultra-healing lotion starting on day five)

DON’T – Let the world’s unwashed hands touch your new tat ‘til it’s healed (takes 2 to 3 weeks)

– Over-protect by keeping bandaged in plastic wrap or mega-thick layers of goop, because now the skin can’t breathe

– Pick at the skin when it starts peeling like a sunburn; it’s a normal part of the process and scratching more skin away will just up your chances for infection

– Panic if the area weeps a little clear plasma; this is also fine and normal (vs. colorful and/or smelly discharges, which will want medical attention)

Epilogue:

As I type this, we are a week in and at “peeling like a sunburn” phase. The pain was down to virtually zero within 24 hours, sensitivity has been steadily dropping, and with every day that passes without incident, my fear decreases as well.

Only another week to go, past this blog’s posting, and my tattoo will be just another part of me – albeit one of my cooler outer parts, revealing to the world a few core pieces of coolness that have been inside me all along.

Fresno_Tattoo_IMG_20190301_122242173
Murdoch would approve.

That’s my first tattoo story! Got one of your own to share? See me in the comments!

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!”

I Memed a Meme, This Tag Gone By

December was my hiatus month as far as writing blog posts was concerned, but it didn’t stop me reading the blog posts of others. For example, this “Les Mis Character Tag” post by The Story Sponge, in which song titles from the “Les Miserables” musical demanded matching to character types found throughout literature.

Me being a lover of both books and musicals – (which would go some way toward explaining why so many of my books end up sprinkled with original song numbers) – of course I want to play! And so I shall, featuring characters from all over Danielle E. Shipley canon. (Because that sort of self-indulgent fun is my reward for having put like 15+ books out into the world.)

les mis gif, revolution
This tag’s semi-related, bro. Be chill.

First, the tag rules:

– Acknowledge the human/dragon/sponge that tagged you (tagged my own self, so check!)

– Acknowledge the sponge that created the tag (check, and kudos to you, Story Sponge!)

– Tag as many people as you so desire (check, because if you’re reading this and want to play, consider yourself tagged!)

Now, let the games being!

1) “Valjean’s soliloquy” (a character who’s whole view of the world undergoes a dramatic shift)

Sun's Rival Cover, frontFor this, I’m going with Ionquin Wyle, Crown Prince of Denebdeor. Yes, I could have just as easily chosen Princess Laraspur, the sister with whom he adventures in their life-changing story, “The Sun’s Rival” (Wilderhark Tales, Book 5). But for all that Laraspur’s worldview is rocked just as hard, it’s Ionquin who has the harder time coping with all they’ve discovered and trying to reconcile it to his future as a king. His struggle extends well into Book 6, and I’m not honestly sure he’s 100% recovered by Book 7. Sometimes your head just stays blown your whole life long.

2) “I Dreamed a Dream” (a character who never seems to have any good luck whatsoever)

I’d like to think I’m pretty nice about letting my characters catch the occasional lucky break in their otherwise harrowing lives. But wouldn’t you know, I get called out in text (in “Deathsong of the Deep”, coming February 14th!) about how Narles Semsen, jack of all trades aboard the Painted Lady, ends up with a pretty short end of the stick.

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

“Crow’s said he’s fought with fireworks before,” [said Molly].

“And got half a score of pirates killed,” said Anafrid.

“At least most of those dead pirates were his enemies.”

“And seared the color vision out of Semsen’s eyes.”

“That part was unfortunate,” Molly conceded.

Anafrid’s eyes rolled up into the downpour. “If any of the rest of us survive Crow’s madness along with him, it will be because we’ve breathed enough of his air to catch his luck. I don’t hold high hope for the temporary hands.”

/And I can only hope a few weeks aboard the Lady have been enough for me,/ Molly thought. If she had suspected it meant the difference between her life and death, she would have made plans to join the crew sooner. Well, perhaps sharing a boat with the captain during the battle to come would tip the balance in her favor. Or cost her part of her vision. Or her face.

Sticking close to Crow hadn’t proven particularly lucky for Semsen.

So, there you have it. I am a good author more than I am a nice one. Apologies, Mr. Semsen.

3) “Fantine’s Arrest” (a character who just makes your skin crawl)

Legend cover 02, front

Thaaat would be Sir Guy of Gisborne from “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 3). Scary. Evil. Dangerous. Also, creepy. Let’s not talk about him. Unless you’ve already read the book. In which case, let us whimper in harmony.

4) “The Bargain/The Waltz of Treachery” (a character who is a master of manipulation)

Surrogate Sea cover, front

No contest: This one goes to Austeryn, the South Wind of The Wilderhark Tales. “The Surrogate Sea” (Book 6) testifies to how far – and how sneakily – he’ll go to achieve his plans, to say nothing of his part in that one short story in “The Sky-Child” (Book 6.5). You don’t need a sorting hat (or *cough* to have ever read “Harry Potter” *cough*) to know he’s 300% Slytherin. Watch your back in the fog, my friends.

5) “Stars” (a villain with a convincing motivation)

In the ‘antihero’ category? Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter. We all know why we does what he does. It’s very much “cool story, still murder”, but how many of us would honestly do any better, were we living his “So Super Dead” life?

In the ‘not villainous but dangerous’ category? Mach Jenius, Brainstorm. Our boy’s not out to hurt anybody in “Out of My Head” (Inspired 2), but darned if he couldn’t end up destroying a few lives anyway in his entirely relatable quest for belonging.

In the ‘actual villain category’, Lord Swanton, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. I completely get where he’s coming from. I, too, would lose patience with peasants who’d rather cheer for Robin Hood than just quietly pay their taxes. But that’s because I have a villainous streak that cares more about the world following my rules than about people. Sooooo, nobody elect me your sheriff, okay? Okay.

6) “Do you Hear the People Sing?” (a character who inspires other people)

The obvious answer? Lucianíel from “Inspired”. The light elemental’s a muse, after all.

But I can’t not mention King Arthur Pendragon. “The Once and Future Camelot” (everyone remember that magical cover?!?! would not exist without him, because like 9 out of 10 major players in the book can point back to Arthur as his or her motivation. Noble deeds, nefarious doings… Arthur inspires a lot.

7) “Little People” (a little character with a whole lot of spunk)

arcane-arts-coverIf we’re talking “no small parts, only stories with small word counts”, how ‘bout the soul of Kid from “The Dark Siren”? He’s quite the child, considering he’s basically a ghost. Inquisitive, audacious, and none too shy about expressing his feelings. Also sort of a necromancer, but it’s complicated.

8) “Bring Him Home” (a character who is sacrificially protective)

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Um, Rowan “Row” Charles in “Our Hungering Hearts” only gave up his entire plane of reality to look after his best friend. He went from living in a magical dream world to battling a lousy job market in the name of love. Your fave could never.

9) “Javert’s Suicide” (an extremely conflicted character)

Once we’re really into the deep end of “Deathsong”, Molly Worth’s got a massive dilemma on her hands. Which song of her heart should she follow? Do the ends she feels owed justify the means divinely set before her?? Ought she fight her way back to Hot Guy #1, or is Hot Guy #2 her inescapable destiny??? (I’m joking! JOKING! The moral quandary far outweighs any romantic subplottery, I swear!)

10) “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (an impossibly lonely character)

My kneejerk answer would be Allyn-a-Dale – not least because he totally wrote a grieving parody of this very song, once, which I may or may not someday make public. But truth be told, ‘lonely’ is not the word for Allyn. It is the word, during one time or another, for the people he’s closest to. His father, for one, lived a low-key very lonely life. His best friend, for another, felt unspeakably isolated. And then there’s [name redacted], which of the three examples given here is actually Allyn’s fault, but that’s a story for a book as yet unpublished, so nothing more to see here!

And that is that! Les Mis Character Tag: Accomplished.

les mis gif, valjean approves

If any of you decide to play along in a post of your own, feel free to share the link with me so I can check it out! And whether you think all my character match-ups were spot on or would have better gone to somebody else I wrote, you can tell me all about it in the comments.

~ ‘Til next time, mes amis ^_^