In Which I Battle Like a Bard

Once upon a time, I—

Will Scarlet: “Wait. What do you mean, ‘I’?”

Y’know. I. As in, ‘me, myself, and’.

Will: “But you opened this post with ‘once upon a time’. When you do that, you’re usually like, ‘an author did this or that, and stuff happened, and kingdoms rose and fell, yadda-yadda,’ before finally delivering the big reveal: ‘And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.’”

Allyn-a-Dale: “Wow, Will. Spoilers, much?”

Will Scarlet: “She does it EVERY TIME!”

Not this time! Because I am an unpredictable, plot-twisty wordsmaster, is why.

Now, again from the top: Once upon a time, I came across a Kickstarter / author call for an anthology titled “Sword and Sonnet”. The theme? Battle bards.

Sword and Sonnet

Allyn: “A promising premise indeed!”

Right? So I had me a little brainstorming session, and whipped up a short story featuring a noteworthy minstrel—

Will: “Ha! Noteworthy – like musical notes, right?”

Um, not intentionally. I just meant exceptional—

Allyn: “Like Father?”

No! Like Ballady Sol!

Will: “Cool! So, when does the antho come out?”

A while ago.

Will: “But… you didn’t hype the release at all…?”

Allyn: “Psst. Will. I don’t think her story was included in the book.”

To my disappointment, it was not. Not every excellent story will make every cut. I guess mine wasn’t what they were looking for.

Will: “Well, what the deuce were they looking for?!”

Search me. I haven’t yet read the “Sword and Sonnet” e-copy I received for backing the Kickstarter. Not because I’m bitter! – (*cough* at least, not entirely *cough*) – but because I am really bad about settling down to read non-paper books.

Allyn: “Alas for the world, deprived of your short fiction brilliance. However shall we carry on?”

Pretty sure you’re being at least 80% sarcastic, right now, but there is yet good news. Because you know how I roll, boys: When life hands me a ‘no’…

Will: “You make your own ‘yes’!”

When one publisher closes a door…

Allyn: “You open a window.”

10 segue points to House Gant. Behold the blurb and cover art for…

Windows and Sol: A Bard’s Beginning”!

Once upon a time, ‘wandering songster’ was no kind of career for a woman.

Now one minstrel-in-the-making is going to change Wilderhark’s tune.

From the author who introduced Wilderhark Tales’ Gant-o’-the-Lute and Outlaws of Avalon’s Allyn-a-Dale, a new voice rises into a brave ballad of its own: That of a girl with an ear for music and a heart determined to follow wherever it leads, no matter what forces of man – or of nature – stand against her.

“The Soul Shepherdess” – Young Solwen’s fateful encounter with a man o’ music and his sullen apprentice opens her eyes to the road she’s destined to take, along with the hardship that will be her traveling companion.

“In the Window” – Although Harper Rove-a-Day couldn’t feel less qualified to serve as minstrel master to his extraordinary trainee, he just may have what it takes to learn a lesson or two from /her/.

“The Names She Played” – To hear hidden music is not merely Solwen’s gift, but her only chance in a deadly game with one of the world’s oldest songs.

Tales of singing. Tales of striving. Most of all, tales of true love.

Windows and Sol, cover finished

Coming next week – and available for pre-order now!

Will: “Nice! So you’re re-releasing Balladry’s origin story from the Wilderhark Talettes and debuting the ‘battle bard’ short, all in one tidy package.”

Allyn: “E-book only, same as ‘Beyond Her Infinity’?”

Correct. ‘Tis more cost effective for me, that way. And since I’ve still got a picture book to fund…

Will: Hint, hint, blog readers! Any and all help would be most appreciated!”

…Wow, if I only had a dollar for every interruption in this blog post. Anyway, keeping costs down on my end means better bargains for the readers. Only 99 cents a copy, folks!

Allyn: “Best of luck wished to you and Balladry Sol on finding your rightful audience. They can be hard to reach, but they’re out there.”

And it is with that belief our author battles on.

(And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.)

(Will: “I KNEW IT!”)

Five Thousand Words’ Worth of Feels

Once upon a time – specifically, on the day I was scheduled to hop a 10-hour flight from Chicago to Amsterdam – I was granted a blessed distraction from my stressful morning full of last-minute packing (and repacking) by a message from friend/fan Jay Cottle. To paraphrase said message:

I’ve read “The Story’s End”, and I have FEELINGS!

As the book’s author, those words alone would have been enough to brighten my heart. But then – THEN – I realized that I was also looking at a series sketches inspired by the book, which caused my insides to go something like:

I’m looking at fan art, and I have FEELINGS!

‘Cause I don’t know about authors in general, but my definition of success prominently features fan art. *starry-eyed smile*

So here we are a month later, with my European river cruise behind me, my 2015 NaNoWriMo won, and me about as settled in Germany as I’m probably going to be before briefly returning to the States. Sounds like the perfect time to finally show you guys Jay’s “Story’s End” pics! #Behold

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Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 1
1/5
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 2
2/5
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 3
3/5
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 4
4/5
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 5
5/5

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If you’ve read the novella, you’ve probably got a pretty good grasp of everything going on in these images. If you haven’t read it – if, indeed, you haven’t even purchased it yet – good news: That is easily remedied!

Big thanks for the Wilderhark love, Jay! And anytime anyone else wants to throw some Deshipley story-related art my way, know that I will be more than happy to receive it. ^_^

Open Journal: #WilderharkParty Recap

The Vent

Transparency. People supposedly like that in an author/artist/celebrity, right? ‘Cause it makes them come off as relatable or human or some such thing.

I don’t know. I can’t think why anyone would really want me to be transparent. What good would it do them to know how I really feel the majority of the time? The truth would sound an awful lot like whining/grousing/b*tching, and there’s already more than enough of that in the world. I don’t want to hear it from anyone else, so why would I foist it upon my public?

But this is an Open Journal post, meaning I’ll come closer to telling the whole truth, instead of just the bits I can deliver with a pleasant smile.

Behind the smile.
Behind the smile.

So. My launch/farewell party for The Wilderhark Tales.

I put a lot of time into planning it. Came up with a variety of content to try to keep guests engaged – games, read-aloud videos, topics of discussion. Worked hard on making the prizes – from fighting a charm onto a chain for a necklace, to formatting and printing pages for a wall calendar. I personally invited all my Facebook friends, and threw the link up in a couple of Facebook groups, and talked the party up on Twitter live, during those five straight days of all-day, upbeat, smile-with-exclamation-points socializing.

I wore. Myself. Out.

Me for five days.
Me for five days.

And I had about five regular guests.

Out of the thirty-ish who said they’d come. Out of the hundreds I invited.

A handful more poked their heads in, on rare occasion. But it was mostly just those stalwart five. And I appreciated their presence.

But transparently? It was nothing like what I wanted.

Other authors – not realer, not better, just not me – get parties and signings and readings in bookstores. That is what I wanted. That is what I tried for months (years?) in advance to get. Y’know what happens when I contact bookstores? I show up in person, and the person to talk to isn’t there. I send them an e-mail, and the e-mail goes forever unanswered. Basically, it’s the same thing that happens just about any time I have to rely on other people for a thing to get done: It doesn’t.

So, yeah. Behind the scenes of the only party I could make happen for myself, I was privately miserable. In between moments of painful excitement when it looked like people might actually be interested in what I was trying to give them. My heart jerked up and down, up and downer, up and downest, all day for five days. I sighed a lot. I cried surprisingly little. By the last day, I kind of got numb. I just wanted it to be over. To not have to care anymore. Since all but five-ish people didn’t.

No I won’t.
No I won’t.

I could start getting really angry now, but it’s not worth it. Instead, let’s cut to a song that pretty much encapsulates how I felt throughout most of the party. (Credit to my sisters, one of whom stopped by a couple times to troll the party. Thanks, Di.)

We ain’t got no money
We ain’t got no friends
Roll up in a Caravan cuz we ain’t got no Benz
We just lost the lotto
We behind on all the trends
But we gon’ keep on rappin’ even though we got no fans (leggo!)

Yo. We out on the floor
We in this heezy all alone
All we wanna do is be successful in our craft
So it’d be nice if we had some support

Don’t worry. I gon’ keep on rappin’ regardless.

For better or worse, I can’t seem to help myself.

The [E]vent

In an effort to go against my personal grain and focus on the positive, here are some of my favorite moments from the party.

– The shameless ogling of Welken lookalikes

– Ionquin Wyle utilizing the phrase “Netflix and chill”

Tirzah’s flawless “Sun’s Rival” selfie

Tirzah's ''Sun's Rival'' Selfie

– The utter adoration from every quarter for Lumónd #TheySeeHim ❤

– The straight-up prettiness of the graphics for the “Words of Welken Translation Game” *pats self on back*

Welken Words, sample

– The fact that I was given cause to look at a side-by-side pic of Edgwyn Wyle and “Once Upon a Time”s Rumplestiltskin

– Me: “Discuss! The Anarchwitch has appeared in a lot of guises, over the course of the series. How do /you/ tend to envision her? What do you suppose she /really/ looks like?”

My sister: “Never heard of her, but I would guess she wears a jacket like this” *posts pic of an anorak jacket*

– When ‘twas agreed that Ruban was the side character MVP (not counting Jeromey Gant, ‘cause hello)

– When Tirzah jumped in with a brand new piece of Gant-o’-the-Lute fan art

Sunrise Lute 2

– Clem

Clem

– Maritime legumes

Maritime Legumes

– Tirzah puns

Tirzah Puns

– All the incredibly nice, sometimes profound things my dedicated guests said about The Wilderhark Tales and the people therein … like my little books have deeply impacted their lives or something

The work I do may be for too little. But it is not for nothing.

Godspeed, Wilderhark. And I’ll see ya when I see ya, Ever On Word blog, but for now, I’m Europe-bound. Let the sorta-kinda-hiatus begin!

Something Witchy This Way Comes (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.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

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, “Our mutual author describes her thus:

Known by many names and none, a mysterious magic-worker slips seen and unseen throughout the lands and ages, her spellwork leaving a legacy of hearts broken and unified. She’s made her presence felt since the start of the Wilderhark Tales. What part will she play at story’s end?

“Welcome— um, you!” Will greets the woman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – for the purposes of this interview, if nothing else, what do I even call you?”

The woman – her appearance neither fair nor foul, old nor young, eyes dark curtains drawn over the windows to the depths of her – looks unblinking at her host. “You may do as those before you have done and think of me simply as ‘the Anarchwitch’. The title was taken knowing it would be thus used.”

“But it’s not a terribly specific title, is it? There have been any number of anarchwitches harassing the Wilderhark world’s royals, over the years.”

She inclines her head in acknowledgment. “We were numerous, for a time. Now the order is long gone, and I the last remaining.” A wistful shake of the head. “You humans come and go so fast.”

Will raises his brows. “Are you not human, then? One of the Welkens, perhaps? Or another of those what-do-you-call-‘ems – what Princess Liliavaine in Book Six of the series labeled ‘more-than-men’?”

“More, certainly. But what I am is not mine to tell. A secret’s keeping is mine. Its handing away,” she says dryly, “our author’s.”

“Heh, I expect that’s generally so. Still, I hope you’ll indulge me in sharing a few details that never made it onto the page. For example, there’s your relationship with Ursula, sometime queen of Denebdeor. You didn’t seem to like her particularly much, and yet you twice—”

“Thrice,” the Anarchwitch calmly cuts across him.

“Pardon?”

“Three times I gave her aid.”

Will tallies on his fingers. “The baby thing in ‘Stone Kingdom’, the titular Seventh Spell…” He frowns. “You don’t seriously think of the Tipsilvren disaster as helping, do you?”

The woman’s bearing hardens. “It led her to her heart’s other half – and what’s more, returned him to himself. Were it not for me, he would have been under the careless curse of another for the whole of his days, and Denebdeor forever fallen into ruin.” She relaxes a fraction back into her seat. “I cast my first spell neither against Ursula nor for her alone, but for the betterment of many. Thus have my powers been ever used.”

“Not everyone sees it that way. I hear you caught some reader flak for your actions in ‘The Sky-Child’. Something about your curse on Viralei coming across as over-harsh and emotionally manipulative?”

“Over-harsh?” The witch blinks for the first time since arrival. “She was rude. Ursula’s disrespect to me brought her first curse upon her, and no shortage of death with it. Her second lack of manners provoked her kingdom’s century-long petrifaction. Why, then, would I not see fit to punish one whose words to her would-be lover were not only harsh, but cruel? I will not suffer insults from entitled royals, whether the insult be aimed at me, a common man, or a minstrel as far from common as uncommon can be.

“As for emotional manipulation…” She waves a dismissive hand. “’Twas no love spell I cast. I only held her immobile that she might look at the man of music long enough to see whether his inner song called to hers or not. She was free to reject him again once he’d effected her rescue. That she did not is no doing of mine.”

“For someone not in the business of love spells,” Will observes, “you sure have a knack for playing matchmaker. You ever think about scaring up a true love for yourself?”

“It… has crossed my mind.” Her gaze drifts away. “But for all that the stories in which I’ve played a part may seem to argue otherwise, true love is a rather rare thing. Surely you can see why. Think of the string of improbabilities so often required to bring the lovers together. To connect with one’s heart-match alone, unaided by someone with the advantage of an outside perspective, is but one chance in thousands. I came as close to love as I ever will, in this world, and it was not close enough.”

“Oh.” Will deflates, despondent. “I am so sorry. That’s… that blows.”

A smile-like shadow flits over the woman’s face. “Winds blow, Scarlet. An example of what is being what is. I am less concerned with ‘is’ or ‘was’ than ‘will be’. You have a final question for me, do you not?”

The corners of Will’s mouth thrust upward into his smile’s return. “Like you’d need any special magic to know that. Tell me, Anarchwitch, what is our author Danielle’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” The smile beams brighter in defiance of its earlier dim. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I have told you: A secret’s keeping is mine. You’ll learn no more from any words I speak. As for what a kiss may tell…” Her eyes focus past Will, beyond the camera’s reach. “That knowledge is for him.”

Will turns in surprise. “Allyn??”

Allyn’s voice rises gaspward. “Me?”

The witch rises to her feet, beckoning. “Come forward, child, and hear what I would say.”

In wordless uncertainty, Allyn crosses the stage to stand before her. Just as silent, her hand guiding his chin’s angle higher, she leans in to touch her lips to his, the kiss lasting but a moment, yet lingering outside of time. Before Allyn’s closed eyes flutter open, the Anarchwitch is gone, vanished into the air like a breath released.

“Well?” Will demands, when Allyn stands speechless. “What did her kiss have to say for itself?”

Allyn’s head half-turns Will’s way, the eyes in his lashes’ shadows revealing as little as any witch. “It sounded like, ‘Good luck go with you.’”

“…Huh,” Will says at last. “If that isn’t just about as enigmatic as it gets. What do you think, Allyn? Are you up to giving the word from our sponsor?”

“Of course,” says Allyn, the shake of his head more an attempt to clear it than a refusal of duty. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment was brought to you by the conclusion of Danielle E. Shipley’s Wilderhark Tales novellas, ‘The Story’s End’ – its launch celebration going on all this week on Facebook:

Story's End Cover, gallery size

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you as well, Anarchwitch, wherever you’ve disappeared to. 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. (And seriously? Stop by the ‘Story’s End’ party, if you get the chance. And/or take advantage of the insane price-drop on Books 1 – 6.5 of The Wilderhark Tales on Kindle. 99 cents a pop, man. Take it from a thief – that’s a steal.) ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Wilderhark Series, 99 cents
Click the pic for the series page on my website; convenient sales links await. ^_^

Judging By the Cover…

Quick word from our sponsor (…so, basically me):

Story's End Cover, gallery size

It’s LAUNCH DAY for “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)”! Grab your e-copy (Kindle or Nook) or paperback (Amazon or CreateSpace), and join me for the first day of the fairytale novella series’ last hurrah – the Launch/Farewell Party happening NOW on Facebook. An event of story snippets and songs! An event of games and prizes! Most of all, an event for the readers and characters who came together beneath the boughs of Wilderhark Forest.

Once upon a time, the magical journey began. Now comes the Ever After.

…Also coming now, our regularly scheduled blog post.

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Y’ever see a book cover that made your brain go, “Okay, I want to read you. …So wait, what are you about?” I’ve come across a few like that, in recent times. Shallow of me? Mayhap a little. But hey, if it leads me to a good story, how is that a bad thing?

Book #1: “Dreamstrider” by Lindsay Smith

Dreamstrider

Thoughts on the Cover: [Sur]really awesome.

Description from Goodreads: A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject’s body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighboring kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

Thoughts on That: Not sure how I’ll feel about the political angle, but everything else sounds potentially cool.

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Book #2: “Rook” by Sharon Cameron

Rook

Thoughts on the Cover: Me likey the grayscale with a pop of red. Also the feathers. And whatever happened to Paris.

Description from Goodreads: History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Thoughts on That: A vigilante tale? One has high hopes. ^^

P.S.: Between this post’s drafting and its going live, I’ve actually read the book! Review to eventually follow.

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Book #3: “Child of a Hidden Sea” by A.M. Dellamonica

Child of a Hidden Sea

Thoughts on the Cover: A dynamically-angled illustration of a dude and a child on a ship with…are those runes on the sails? What. Is not. To love?

Description from Goodreads: One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.

The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.

Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.

But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile.

Thoughts on That: From San Francisco to some magical realm in the bat of an eye? Somebody hand me this book!

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Book #4: “Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand

Some Kind of Happiness

Thoughts on the Cover: FOREST! Forest with a center crown, meaning… fairytale stuff? Hoping so, since the only thing better than a forest is a forest full of extra magic!

Description from Goodreads: THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT
• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real—and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination, for fans of Counting by 7s and Bridge to Terabithia.

Thoughts on That: Yesssss, magic forest! Also depression, which is less fun, but… those blue days. I know them. So yeah, between the Everwood and the probable relatability, I could feasibly end up loving this.

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Book #5: “Shadowshaper” by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper

Thoughts on the Cover: Dem colors. And dat hair.

Description from Goodreads: Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Thoughts on That: A little leery at the mention of zombies, but connection with spirits via art? I like the sound of that. This one could weird me out in a good way.

Such are my opinions. Got any of your own? – or some book covers that have caught your eye? Share in the comments!

Fair Wind, Fair Warning

Only one week (holy yipe!) until the launch of “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)” (the Kindle e-book of which is currently available for pre-order, by the way!). To mark* the occasion (*you’ll see in half-a-sec what I did, there), have a look at this gorgeous piece of work from my treasured Wilderhark Artist, Yana Naumova!

Vesparya, color final, gallery size

Yep, the West Wind gets a bookmark, this time around (which naturally will feature among the prizes in my Launch/Farewell Party giveaway). And high goodness, those colors! *breathes deep of her living air in awe*

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Alrighty. Sit ye down, now. Candid chat time.

Some readers have expressed to me that they don’t care for Vesparya, particularly much – at least in conjunction with her love interest gained in Book Six. Come to that, there’s been a fair amount of reader discontent with Book Six in general (along with gratifying reports of reader satisfaction. Subjectivity at work, y’all. ;D). While this is in part due, I think, to a human audience not necessarily “getting” the Welken ethic, it’s also largely to do with the book’s ending.

Wilderhark Tales One through Five concluded with the good ol’ HEA – Happy Ever After. They were simple. They were sweet.

“Surrogate Sea” didn’t play that way.

“Whyever not?” Gant-o’-the-Lute speaks for the people, thrusting an imaginary microphone beneath my nose. “Why break with the tried-and-true formula, author? Were you going for edginess? Shock value?”

Truth be told, I wasn’t going for anything. I just followed the story where it led me, same as ever.

Well, no. Not quite the same.

With Books Two through Five, I had a plan. (Not so much for Book One. That one came before my time as a plotter.) With Book Six, I had ideas. The characters had motivations. The South Wind certainly had a plan, scheming sort that he is. But nobody knew what the ending would hold. It was an ending born not of plans, but of consequences.

Readers may not realize it, since the series got published so fast – eight books in under three years, it’ll soon be – but quite a bit of time passed between the writing of Books One and Six. Heck, there was a significant gap just between Books Four* and Six.

(*Fun fact: I actually wrote “Sun’s Rival” before circling back to “Song Caster”. Lute was not amused.)

Within that passage of time, I changed. (As living people will do.) And when an author changes, stories different than before will tend to find her. I used to have a simple, sweet, Happy Ever After kind of heart.

I don’t anymore. At least, not all the time.

I can still enjoy such tales, presented by others. But the words inside me no longer gravitate toward such an optimistic direction. Now, people die. People lose. People live the conseqences of their (sometimes really ill-advised) choices. No good thing lasts forever. Not every affliction can be magicked away with a kiss. And not even my fairytales can avoid the truth of that.

Hence “The Surrogate Sea”.

And hence “The Story’s End”.

It’s okay if you miss the old me. I miss her, too, sometimes. But it is my hope that going in with fair warning will prepare readers to take the final Wilderhark Tale as it is, not as they might otherwise have expected it to be. I’m not looking to pull the rug out from under anyone. I’m just telling the story I saw, though it break my heart a hundred times to do so.

The new me finds a measure of pleasure in heartbreak written well. Perhaps you’ll find that you do, too.

Sometimes... sometimes.
Sometimes… sometimes.

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Story's End Cover, gallery size

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales”, coming October 13, 2015; now available to add to your Goodreads “To Read” shelf – pre-order for Kindle – nab on Nook – call forth in paperback form via CreateSpace … Basically, waiting to book blast this baby on Launch Day is optional. ;D

Wintry with a High Chance of a Teaser

Quick word from our sponsor (…so, basically me):

My serial Wilderhark Talette continues, today, with Part 4 of “The Soul Shepherdessnow live on Channillo.com. Subscribers, check it out! Non-subscribers… well, I’m sure you can figure out how to remedy that.

And now onto our regularly scheduled blog post.

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Only 2 weeks and a day (can you believe it?!) until the launch of “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)”. To mark* the occasion (*you’ll see in half-a-sec what I did, there), have a look at this gorgeous piece of work from my treasured Wilderhark Artist, Yana Naumova!

Aquinore, color final, gallery size

That chill in the air isn’t just October breathing down our necks. It’s Aquinore, Wind of the North, standing proud on one of three new bookmark designs made just for “Story’s End” – which you can bet will feature in a giveaway during the online Launch Party, coming soon to Facebook. (Drop in! Invite your friends! We’ll party like it’s #WilderharkTales7, up in here!)

Just what role will the Sky’s icy wind have to play in the Wilderhark Tales’ final chapter? That, I’m hardly about to tell you. But if we’re talking of chapters, how’s this for a tease: A peek at the lineup of chapter titles for “The Story’s End”!

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~ A Ballad of Life and Death ~

~ Winter and Spring ~

~ Gant Expectations ~

~ Sky on Earth, Earth in Sky ~

~ The Silencing of Song ~

~ A Lost Lullaby ~

~ The Bard and His Boy ~

~ No Kind of Home ~

~ Whispers in the Night ~

~ Tales of Time Gone By ~

~ Old Friends with New Faces ~

~ The Gant Commission ~

~ The Dark Divide ~

~ Spinning a Long-Ago Spell ~

~ Last Light of the Moon ~

~ The Way through the Window ~

~ A Gathering Storm ~

~ Song’s Finale ~

~ Epilogue: …All the Rest of Their Days ~

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Story's End Cover, gallery size

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales”, coming October 13, 2015; now available to add to your Goodreads “To Read” shelf.