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 ^_^

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Deeper into the Deathsong

Welcome back to the first-ever coming together of the Stranger-Than-True Book Club – an assortment of Deshipley characters joined in discussion about, in this instance, Danielle’s upcoming high-seas fantasy “Deathsong of the Deep”. I’m your merry moderator, Lady Marion Hood, of Outlaws of Avalon fame. To read Part One of the club meeting, click here. Now, on to Part Two. Laraspur, I believe you wanted in particular to gush about the relationships?

stt book club logo

Laraspur (Princess of Denebdeor/Queen of Welken, from The Wilderhark Tales): I did, and I do! I could go on about them for ages, but I’ll try to stay succinct. My first favorite pair, of course, is Molly and Crow. I love watching their estimations of each other develop over the course of time and conversation and adventure.

Uri (skater girl and Fire of God, from the “Inspired” novels): Time, conversation, and adventure – the holy trinity behind half your Wilderhark romances.

Nicky (genderless super ghost-whisperer, from “So Super Dead”): Well, any relationship that doesn’t have conversation behind it can’t hope to go far. The “Deathsong” characters seem pretty good about talking to each other, though. …Excepting maybe Blue Gracie, who’s more the type to only speak when it won’t communicate too much. Y’know how magical, mystical characters be like.

Lar: Speaking of Blue Gracie, I also very much enjoyed her relationship with Crow. Something about the way they wanted to be present together, even if neither one was in a real position to do much for the other. A sweet and a sad sort of caring.

Lucianíel (light elemental, muse, and fictional father figure, from the “Inspired” novels): There was quite a variety of caring to be found aboard the Painted Lady. Crow’s, often cavalier and inexpert. Anafrid’s, austere but dependable…

Lar: Oh, it was nice watching Anafrid care for Blue Gracie! Unlike Crow, Anafrid didn’t even seem to get anything out of it. She was just being kind.

U: Being kind, or flirting?

N: Anafrid didn’t come off the least bit flirty to me.

U: We don’t know how they flirt in Sjorda.

Luc: There’s nothing definitive in text about whether Anafrid is attracted to women, to men, or to no one at all. Subtextually, though, one could make inferences.

Marion: Speaking of Sjorda, what think we of the countries and cultures created specially for “Deathsong”?

Luc: Well, Danielle didn’t spend a great deal of page space delving into any of them. Even so, what little time she devoted to painting pictures of Sjorda’s cold (environmentally and culturally), Chesney’s shallow beauty, and the coarse, homely character of Hornwhal’s Lower Lee did much toward hinting at a convincingly diverse world.

N: Don’t forget the seafaring culture that fascinated Molly so hard. You could peg her for a water girl long before she ever ditched the land.

Lar: Just like Jessica! – Molly and Jessica being another favorite pairing of mine, by the way.

M: I do love me a womance in fiction.

U: A what now?

M: Womance. Female equivalent of bromance. Gal pals to the next level – like, I don’t know, you and Gabriel, or… are there any Wilderhark examples, Lar?

Lar: I’d say Father and Millyanna, but one’s a man.

M: Ah, well. In any case, yes, Molly and Jessica were proper mates. Really, it’s a bit remarkable the number of relationships Molly considered equally important to the one between her and Crow. First her and Jessica, then her and little Johnny…

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

Lar: SO precious!

U: It’s like girl protagonists have space to have friends and be mothering and obsess over sea monsters and fall for the male lead. Who knew?

N: My book’s girl protagonist didn’t have space for any of that. I guess afterlife vengeance quests take up a lot of bandwidth.

M: So I’d imagine. Any more favorite relationships, Laraspur, before we move on for good?

Lar: Murdoch and Crow gave me feelings, and, I don’t know, I’m glad Semsen has Anafrid, since she seems to be the only one who halfway sees him.

Luc: I expect that’s because Crow’s shame has stopped him looking.

M: Quick question for each of you: If you had to pick one, would you rather be a seiren, a mershade, or one of the seal folk?

U: If Dis were my goddess? Definitely a seiren. The power of flight and a voice made for vengeance. I’m practically qualified already.

Lar: I’d far rather be a mershade and rescue sailors in need. …Even though it means I’d have to die first.

N: Hey wait, does that mean I’d be like the only regular person who could talk to mershades whenever we want to, not just if I’m about to drown?

U: You’re never regular, but maybe.

N: Cool! In any case, I’d pick being a mershade, too. Superhero ghost mermaids for the win!

Luc: I’ve not been shown enough about the lifestyle of seal men to know how well it would suit me. As for the lifestyle of a death creature like a seiren, it’s all a bit too centered around destruction, for my taste. I suppose that leaves the afterlife of a mershade for me, as well.

M: I expect I would love being part of a seal folk community. And fair warning to the men of land: You try to touch my skin without permission, you get knifed.

Lar: Even in an AU where the land man is Robin Hood and his motives are nobler than his methods?

M: Depending on how well he could explain himself, I might apologize afterward for the stabbing. One more item, now, if we can squeeze it in: The plot. What elements of “Deathsong”s storyline grabbed you?

N: I’m hyped on the way Molly makes things happen. Like, her goals are always perfectly personal – nothing ‘world-saving huge’ about them – but when she wants a thing and a chance of getting it comes within reach, she jumps for it, no matter how crazy that chance looks on paper.

Luc: I appreciate the sharp turn it all takes, halfway through. The drastic change Molly undergoes. The sudden costs Crow has to face. Suddenly, it all goes deeper – again, ‘environmentally and’.

N: And just like that, it’s Kraken time for real!

U: I think it’s interesting how long it takes to figure out what’s up with the Aglatha arc. We hear this thing from one source, that thing from another, a contradiction further up the road, and then by the end it’s like… dang, that’s messed up. As is Crow, the more comes to light. It’s actually terrible, the stuff Danielle just puts her imaginary people through.

Luc: One could argue that it’s no intention of Danielle’s. Some authors… well, they are to their stories as her best minstrels are to their songs: The art isn’t fashioned, only found. And Crow’s backstory, alas, is one easily enough found outside of fiction.

Lar: I just love how everything comes together in the end. I don’t know whether one could call it a fairytale ending, but the deathsong’s closing notes hit me like a proper finale.

M: And on that closing note, thank you, you four, for making this book club discussion a fictional reality. And thank you, readers of the blog, for stowing away for the ride. 😉 Feel free to bring your own addition to the discourse in the comments, and forget ye not: “Deathsong of the Deep” is sailing your way, just one short month from now!

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Let’s Get #KrakenBook

Hello, everyone! Lady Marion Hood, here, to lead a new and exciting venture that entered Danielle’s imagination when she meant to be working on something else – because isn’t that just how the creative mind works?

Any readers who’ve kept up with the Ever On Word blog for a few years – (or who’ve explored the blog’s pages on a whim) – may recall a somewhat short-lived feature called the Stranger Than Truth Club, in which Danielle, Tirzah, and a variable number of their respective fictional friends came together to talk at each other until the authors found something quotable. The posts were good fun to create, but too much of a collaborative effort to keep up with any regularity. So since the club name has gone so long out of use, I am stealing it (in true outlaw fashion) for a same-but-different sort of club. In specific, the Stranger-Than-True Book Club! A collection of Deshipley characters come to converse on, in today’s case, Danielle’s soon-to-be-released #KrakenBook, “Deathsong of  the Deep”.

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

First, the book’s summary:

Nineteen-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.

Second, a brief introduction to the members of the club. Will everyone please state your name, your story world, and your role within it? Starting with you, Your Highness, then going ‘round clockwise.

stt book club - laraspurLar: Oh! As you like. Hello, I’m Laraspur, from the Wilderhark Tales – daughter of Queen Rosalba and King Edgwyn Wyle of Denebdeor, protagonist of “The Sun’s Rival”, and … something of a literal star of the heavens, by the end of things.

Uri, croppedU: The literal end of things. Been there. What up, I’m Uri from the “Inspired” novels. Skater girl, avenging angel, occasional clique leader of amateur author Annabelle Iole Gray’s character crew, when this guy’s not there to call the shots.

stt book club - lucLuc: ‘This guy’ being me – Lucianíel, elemental of light, principle muse to Annabelle, and co-guardian of our precious fictional children.

PowerPuff NickyN: Heya, I’m Nicky Ellenbogen-Jones, aka Xtra-Medium, from Danielle’s recent paranormal publication, “So Super Dead”. Mutant teen from the moon. Pronouns, s/he and himmer. Superpower, talking to dead people; in, like, a therapeutic way.

stt book club - marionM: And once again, I’m Marion, of Robin Hood’s Merry Men from Avalon Faire. I basically smile and try to keep the band from falling apart. Not always easy, that.

StT Book Club Logo.png
N: Aw man, we’re logo-official? Sweet!
U: How much time did the author waste, making this?
Luc: Time spent in creation is never wasted.
M: Like an hour, though.
Lar: Well spent. ^_^

M: Now then! Onto the book discussion. First impressions of “Deathsong of the Deep”. Go!

N: Cool title! The death part. Like, is that a thing, with Danielle? Books full of death?

U: I mean, she did kill off my original author in the first few pages of “Inspired”. Not to mention the whole “Manta and the Mask” sub-story therein.

Lar: There’s not as much death to be found in the Wilderhark stories. But then, it’s a fairytale world. And on the other hand, the last book of the series was… Never mind. Death is everywhere.

Luc: Coming back to your opening question, Marion, I would call “Deathsong” an unusual book, even for Danielle. For one thing, she built the world herself, as opposed to her favored method of piggybacking off of established fairy tales, legends, or her own life. Even “So Super Dead” took place largely in a world like hers, just add vampires, werecats, superhuman moon colony, etc. “Deathsong” has its own geography and mythology, only borrowing fantasy creature types from various cultures to populate a wild new sea. It’s a different sort of creativity, for her, and the end result is… perhaps slightly profound.

U: I’m not a huge fan of her making up a sea goddess for it, but I get it. She was going through some stuff. Depression, exhaustion, theological disappointment. If she needed a bogus deity to help unpack and illustrate her dark night of the soul, I guess that’s what art is for.

M: Favorite characters, anyone?

Lar: Molly Worth is a treat! Sort of solemn but witty at the same time. Indomitable, and so deeply caring. She’d make a worthy princess, if she didn’t live on such a different story path.

Luc: I’d say a number of the characters exhibit a complexity I like. Each member of Captain Crow’s crew has a face they show and a passion they carry closer. Some of the passions get explored in text more thoroughly than others, but one can tell we’re dealing with people, not one-dimensional caricatures. If anything, I’m most intrigued by Anafrid, simply because we know the least about her.

U: I like Jessica. Not that I would probably want to spend much time with her, but I appreciate her heart’s devotion.

N: I— um, is it weird that I wanna say Kraken? ‘Cause, like, I get that he’s a monster, but…

U: But that’s your type.

N: I don’t have a type! I just… Part of him is dead, right? His humanity died. So he’d maybe eat me, but I’d wanna talk to him first.

M: I, for one, am here for Murdoch. Fun, friendly…

Lar: Plus-size positive!

M: …That! And a woman of color, to boot. If the crew of the Painted Lady were the Merry Men, Murdoch would easily be the Marion.

N: Ooh, ooh, who would everybody else be?

U: Anafrid = Little John, no contest.

M: They are both second-in-command and tall. Anafrid talks more than Little John, but then, who doesn’t? As for Captain Crow… not sure. He’s in charge like Robin, and has a not entirely dissimilar charm, but then he flashes that flirtatious smile that hides a tortured mind and hurting heart, and all you can think is ‘Will Scarlet’.

Lar: Father would love to design his coats. The style skews feminine, and womenswear has long been a favorite of the famed tailor-king.

N: Do we have an Allyn-a-Dale?

U: That would be Gracie – the mystery pulled in from out of nowhere who isn’t more than they seem, just more than anyone can name for certain, for a while. Also, blue.

N: Oh, yeah. That’d actually be blatant, if she’d done it on purpose.

Luc: Danielle has certainly done her share of blatant character copying. That is, as she’s readily admitted, the deliberate conceit behind the cast of “Inspired”. And if anything, Captain Crow is as much begotten of Wilderhark’s Gant-o’-the-Lute as am I. Blue Gracie, however, was based predominately on her author.

N: And I’m not seeing a match at all for Semsen.

U: Semsen doesn’t have half enough ‘merry’ in him for the Sherwood crowd. He wouldn’t make the worst knight in Camelot, though.

M: Well, this discussion is delightful, but also running long. What do you think, fellows? Should we break off and make it a two-parter? Come back next week?

N: I’m for that!

U: Why, is there more to say?

Lar: Is there! We haven’t even touched upon all the relationships! Or the locations, the magical creatures, the plot! We certainly must come back for that, if Danielle’s willing to host us again.

Luc: And why would she not be? Her characters posting in her stead is her favorite way to blog.

M: Then it’s settled. Characters, take five. And readers, take seven days. The Stranger-Than-True Book Club will return with further insights on “Deathsong of the Deep”. Stay tuned! Leave comments! And farewell!

Camelot [Cover] Revealed

Welcome to the beginning of 2019, and to the return of Ever On Word’s regularly scheduled blog posts! My December hiatus was much needed and much enjoyed, but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things as we count down to the release of my nautical fantasy novel, “Deathsong of the Deep”.

Deathsong Proof 1.0

As per my usual, the back pages of the book will include a teaser for the next novel on deck – in this case, the blurb and cover of what I’ve been long referring to as #CamelotWIP. But who wants to wait for “Deathsong”s release to begin the Camelot hype, when I can instead reveal both cover and blurb right here and now? Not me! So, if you’re ready to know just what #CamelotWIP’s all about, prithee read on.

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.

And…

 

now…

 

the..

 

cover:

 

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

 

HUUUUUUUUUUGE props to the cover’s illustrator, Dariana Loki! Just… how often do a book’s cover and the story vibe inside it match so perfectly? The gravitas of Excalibur… The intriguing quality of the hand that holds it… The duality of the kingdom, straddling time… It’s all there in a thousand words’ equivalence. But so many more thousands of words still wait to be shared, and the necessary delay between the ‘once’ of my writing them and the ‘future’ of their publication is KILLING ME.

Top Reasons I Can’t Wait to Publish This Book:

– You ever have a character make a throwaway comment in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, only to realize half-a-decade later that HOLY HEAVENFIRE, that’s actually a mind-blowing piece of #CamelotWIP foreshadowing? Because that’s what happened to this author, and I swear, sometimes I’m convinced my imagination be like:

When Have I Ever Told You Anything

– Most of my books have been written in the closest approximation of silence I could get, but #CamelotWIP has demanded a soundtrack from the first. Not only did I require random “2 hours of relaxing [faux-Medieval and forest-Fey-like] music” videos ‘n’ such replaying on YouTube while drafting…

Debt to Music

…but there are a heck ton of songs that never fail to put me in a Camelot mood – predominant among them, the works of Heather Dale, Fall Out Boy, and Imagine Dragons. For the first time, I’ll have a playlist to share! And I am eager.

– I’ll also get to release an Allyn-a-Dale song I haven’t yet been able to share in public because #spoilers. I’ve already got the chords down on my lute, so now it’s just a matter of outlasting the usual waiting games of the publishing biz until I can post a video.

– You may have thought you sorta-kinda met Avalon Faire’s Camelot crowd in my “Outlaws” series. Or you may have more rightly thought you weren’t getting much of a sense of their true selves at all. In any case, the time is soon to come when my readers – and the Camelot crowd itself – will finally come to learn better who they truly are.

To Galahad of Joyous Gard, the Round Table meant three things.

More than merely knighthood, it was the epitome of true manhood. More even than that: It was the height of Christendom.

And Mordred. It also meant Mordred

– The Once and Future Camelot

– *points upward at quote* Y’all. Need. To meet. Mordred. Love him, hate him, I don’t care what you do, but meet him.

– Speaking of important meetings, the novel’s second half will include a small guest appearance by a certain character of mine that it’s past time you’ve been properly introduced to. He’ll get a short story of his own, one day – (not to mention an entire mega-novel by Tirzah Duncan, because we borrow each other’s imaginary people whenever we feel like it) – but this bit part will be his debut.

– Basically, I just want us all to bond in suffering over my take on the saddest story legend ever told. Because I’m unkind.

So, when’s “The Once and Future Camelot” going to launch? I do not know! It will depend very much on how efficiently I’m able to get it properly edited in the time crumbs dropped from my day job. But hey, we’re only like a month away from the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” – (official release date TBD, but it shall be in February) – so let’s hold onto the tentacle-filled positives.

What do y’all think of that Camelot cover, tho?!?!? And the blurb – what catches at your imagination? Which character in Avalon Faire’s Camelot Crowd are you most excited to explore? Scream with me in the comments.

Cover Reveal: Still So Super Death-Filled, But Deeper

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3, headerSeptember is upon us, which means a couple of Ever On Word-related things.

Thing the first: We are now in this blog’s eighth (8th) year of existence! Happy milestone to me!

Thing the second: We are only three (3) weeks away from the release of “So Super Dead” – (you can pre-order the e-book editions now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble!) – a book which will include not only the paranormal young-adult novel of that name, but a sneak peek of the fantasy perhaps-slightly-more-new-adult novel next on my to-publish list.

“What,” you may wonder, “is new adult?” Quoth Wikipedia:

New adult (NAfiction, also rendered as new-adult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.[1] St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’”.[2] New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

By this definition, my Outlaws of Avalon series also skews more NA than YA, by virtue of main(est) characters Allyn-a-Dale and Will Scarlet being eternally 19 and 26, respectively, and Allyn indeed being forced to negotiate new adulthood in a magical Renaissance Faire.

And by that same token, the blurb for this next novel o’ mine would indicate its qualification for new adult status:

Nineteen-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.

KRAKEN BOO-OO-OOK! I first-drafted this project during NaNoWriMo 2013, and today, it’s Cover Reveal Time! Introducing the face of…

“Deathsong of the Deep”

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

…designed and executed by yours truly. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to sharing this story with you, but that will have to wait ‘til February. First things first: Gotta give “So Super Dead” it’s time in the sun. (I’d insert some sort of vampire joke here, but Thackeray Kyle’s already giving me looks at the thought, so we’ll just skip along ahead.)

Come back next week for the start of all kinds of fun, “So Super Dead”-hypin’ content, leading up to (and quite probably extending past) the novel’s September 25th release. And until then…

What think of your first look at “Deathsong of the Deep”? Have any of you started reading the book I published last week, “Our Hungering Hearts”? Any favorite books of yours that, whaddaya know, fall into the “new adult” category? Talk to me in the comments below!

UPDATE: We’ve got a Goodreads links, mateys! Want to add “Deathsong of the Deep” to your want-to-read list? You can now do so here!