IF WILL SCARLET … Went Commercial YA

A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Broke the Economy

By this time, Will would be ready to eat a horse raw, so it would be food court time. A smoothie for me, and maybe some Panda Express. It would be all Will could do to refrain from ordering one of absolutely everything – two, in the case of cookies.

“You know what’s hard?” he’d say, if ever he paused to switch out the inhalation of lunch for that of air. “Self-restraint. Self-restraint is bloody hard, and the bloody point of it is easily forgotten when you feel constantly on the point of starvation.”

“What’s got your metabolism up, dude?” I’d ask – since, when his appetite hits this level of frenzy, there’s usually some sort of emotional trigger behind it. That, or we’re shopping in Fresno and I haven’t eaten enough to suit him, and, oh, Lord have mercy, that aisle has snack cakes in it.

To my surprise, he’d say, “I think it’s you. Shopping with you. It’s exciting.”

Wary face would be wary. “What kind of exciting?”

He’d flash the slightly madder version of his smile. “It’s all the same excitement to me.”

“Yooooou need to learn to differentiate,” I’d assess.

Yooooou need to not be so awesome,” he’d return.

“I really hadn’t thought I was.” I’d gesture helplessly. It’d be like when someone called Annabelle from INSPIRED a strong character all over again. I don’t think of myself as a strong character, or an awesome one. I’m just a person – and barely that. It feels weird when people make a fuss over me, like I’m not just extraordinary (which I know), but wonderful (which I guess I’m too close to see). Extra weird when that person is one of my characters, since I’ve started to figure that their resenting me is just a matter of course.

Will would make a scornful noise. “Don’t be that MC who’s all, ‘But how could he like me? I’m just me! ’ Nobody wants to read about that.”

I’d lean back in my chair, giving him a look. “So you’re trying to set yourself up as one of the interests in my love triangle, now?”

“The best friend boy next door,” he’d say cheerfully. “Been like a brother to you all this time, until suddenly you notice how cute I’ve gotten.” He’d flex a bicep, feigning shock. “Lord-a-mercy, have I always had these guns??”

“Idiot.” I’d throw a balled-up napkin at him. I’d miss. I’d groan. Laughing, he’d bend down to scoop it off the floor to prevent me from getting up and doing it myself.

“Who’s the third, then?” I’d ask. “In the love triangle. There’s gotta be two hot guys fighting over me, or what will I have to dither over in book two of the trilogy that didn’t need to be a trilogy?” Not to hate on YA literature, but let’s face it; there’s a pattern.

“The Resistance?” Will would suggest innocently. “Whether to stand up to the dystopia or just roll over and become a vampire?”

“Now, now,” I’d say, before this turned into a Twi-bashing party. I happened to enjoy the books, thank you very much.

He’d finish whatever I’d left behind of my Chinese. Mostly peas, probably. “I don’t know who the other guy is. We could try to have Allyn take the part, but I can’t see him cooperating. And anyway, that’d be lame, because we’d all know from page one that you wouldn’t pick him. He’s not your type.”

You’re not my type.”

Which would result in him being far more bummed-out than I would like and mumbling that it’s time to go home.

I wouldn’t want our mall trip to end like this. It had been such a great day, ‘til now. But I wouldn’t know what to do to get Will’s spirits back up, until a light bulb would click on over my head, powered by the sight of one of those goofy photo booths.

PhotoFunia-Photobooth 3
Via PhotoFunia

“Hey, Will,” I’d say, tugging on his sleeve. I would point. He would see. His eyes would light up brighter than my overhead bulb.

“Oh, HELL yes!”

In we’d go to take our strip of idiotic pictures. Tongues out. Eyes crossed. Bunny ears over each other’s heads. Probably one where he smashes a kiss to my cheek. Maybe even one where we just look happy and halfway normal. When we got home, I’d tape it to my wall – right between my calendar and the photo manipulation of the Backstreet Boys’ Kevin as LoTR’s Aragorn.

Of everything we bought that day, I don’t think any of it would mean more than that.

[To possibly be continued, if Will happens to compel me to write any more of these.]

If WILL SCARLET … Broke the Economy

A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Took Me Out

Ah, browsing a book store with Will Scarlet… That would be one part potential embarrassment, one part envy over all the books that are on display where my own are not, and the rest of the parts awesome. It would be great having someone to share things with. Point out funny titles and eye-catching covers. I’d take my sweet time over everything, while he’d be zipping back and forth all over the place, grabbing things off the shelves to shove in my face and remarking over it at some indiscreet volume, requiring me to frantically, laughingly shush him.

Some people just have to look with their hands. Will Scarlet is one, snatching at everything that, in his defense, snatched at his interest first. He’d probably make a point of seeking out all the Robin Hood books, just so he could check on the Scarlet representation therein. Books pertaining to Doctor Who and/or Torchwood would also be of interest, along with anything red. If anything came with a button that resulted in light or noise, he’d press it. I’d make a memo to self: Do not take him into a toy store.

Price, meanwhile, would be no object. “Dude,” he’d murmur excitedly, holding up a card. “Abréal credit. Cash for them, no cost for us. We’re going to break the economy.”

Hoo-boy. I wouldn’t even know how to feel about that. I’d maybe figure it out sometime after I made off with a heck ton of books. Supporting the writing community comes first.

He wasn’t kidding, before, about the Build-a-Bear. We head over there next, neither of us too proud and grownup to be seen in the place. I’ve only been in there in earnest twice before, a good while ago. The first time, I got Moot da Bent-Eared Bunny. The second time, it was Shaquandi, the pink teddy I pretty much gave the most ghetto name ever for no reason other than my sisters gave their bears names ending in “-andy” and in my moment of need, the joke answer prevailed.

I don’t know off the top of my head what styles of stuffed animals they’re sporting, these days, though a glance at their website just now [i.e., back around Christmas time] suggests that, HELLO, they’ve got Santa’s reindeer! Methinks Will and I would go straight for that. We’d take the soft, empty skins over to the associate at the stuffing machine, watch them get plumped up with fluff, and do the goofy dance and make the faux-vow of best-friendship that is all apiece of the heart insertion ceremony. Then would come the dithering over what outfits to get our new stuffed buddies, and what in the world to name them.


“Let’s keep this simple,” Will would suggest, holding up his reindeer. “This is Dani Doe.” He’d point to mine. “That is Buck Scarlet. They are our spirit animals in cuddly toy form.”

That would bring a smile to my heart. “So for once, the ceremonial vow of best-friendship will hold true.”

“Absolutely,” he’d say, giving his Dani Doe a full-on face smooch. “Feel free to nickname yours ‘Bucky’, after the Winter Soldier.”

“If my best friend is Bucky,” I’d say, “that would make me Captain America!”

Will would shrug. “My reasoning was just that the Winter Soldier and I are both hot, but sure, you can be Steve.”

Our next stop would be the resident Hot Topic – the chain Allyn once so scathingly derided as an emo-poser that lost all its hipster points the day it sold out to Disney, Doctor Who, and Adventure Time. What I wouldn’t give to remember his cold little tirade word for word.

“Gants,” Will would say, shaking his head at our reminiscence. “Can’t nobody judge harder than a Gant.”

“He may have been half-joking,” I’d say.

Will would raise an eyebrow. “Ever notice how a Gant joke can make its target curl up and want to end itself?”

Will: “Because dat man and his coat, tho.”
Will: “Because dat man and his coat, tho.”

Ouch but true, that.

While Will in his Captain Jack Harkness coat takes selfies with something with Tennant’s face on it for his Instagram – (#FoundMyDoctor #CapTenJack) – I’ll browse all the merchandise I’m normally too cheap to buy, trying to decide just how much I want to take advantage of Will’s cheat of a credit card. The potential breaking of the economy aside, I don’t actually have the storage space for everything I could be persuaded to own. Besides which, I wouldn’t want to feel overly materialistic. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to feel like a chump who could have walked out with anything and chose to decline on no better grounds than half-assed principle. If nothing else, I’d get a couple of Marvel hoodies.

[To be continued…]


A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Were a Super-Powered Plane-Hopper

“You really just stay inside all day, don’t you?” Will would say, everything about his face, tone, and posture inclining toward critical.

“When I can,” I’d say from the comfortable (term used loosely) office space that is my bed. It used to drive me crazy when kids, upon learning that I was homeschooled, would almost invariably ask, “So do you get to go to school in your pajamas?” I’d wonder what the hell was wrong with the world that it was so obsessed with pajamas. I have since come to view the question through a different lens. It’s not about the pajamas. It’s about having to freakin’ get dressed.

“Well, you can’t today,” he’d say. “Get up. We’re going out.”

“Out where?” I’d ask, so I could calculate just how strenuously I’d want to protest.

The exclamatory firework would reply, “The mall!”

All right. Nothing I need too strenuously protest, then. But just as a matter of protocol, I’d have to put up a token resistance. “I’ve got stuff to do.”

“What stuff?” he’d demand specifics.

If the day were like today [meaning when I wrote this, back in November], I would have a blog post to share around Twitter and Facebook – my stop on Aly Grauer’s On the Isle of Sound and Wonder tour. I’d also have e-mails to field, having just sent out a request to three dozen online acquaintances, asking if they’d be game to help me spread the love around during Sun’s Rival Launch Week. (I’ve gotten a few replies already, all of them “yes”-es!) On a related note, I’d have to get the promotional images together so I could get them back to those willing assistors, and who knows how long that could take…

“Yeah,” Will Scarlet would interrupt, “we’re hitting the mall. All this stuff will keep, girl. And besides, I’ve already reblogged you, retweeted you, and shared your Facebook link. Plus I posted a thing on Instagram. Shoot, forgot to cross-post it to my Tumblr, though…”

Because Will Scarlet would be a social media maven. He’d have been on for maybe a week and already have followers in their thousands on any given account. He’s the kind of person I would hate from a distance, if we weren’t the kind of close we are. And besides, one of the top reasons he wants such a huge online presence is so he can more effectively promote me. …and himself, obviously, but that’s one of his reasons behind just about everything.

I would smile my gratitude. “Thanks, Will. You’re—”

“Gorgeous? I know. Now let’s get you dressed. What’ll you wear today? I’m thinking red.”

So shock. Many surprise. Such out of character. Wow.

Outside Will

He would drive, of course. I hate driving, and he enjoys the experience, harkening back as it does to his first big, post-modern adventure in his story world. There’d be singing on the way – the loud, obnoxious kind that driving with friends will sometimes demand, no minstrels around to shame us for the musical butchery.

“Which mall?” I’d eventually think to ask in between laughing fits. “Hawthorne? The Mills?”

“Not the Mills,” he’d say snobbishly. “We could do Hawthorne, though.” He’d flash a grin. “It’s got your Barnes & Noble.”

“Boo-oo-ooks?!” I’d squeal in delight.

“You bet, babe! We’ll get you all nicely buttered up in books, and then we’ll do the real shopping. Hot Topic. Disney store. Food court and Build-a-Bear. The works!”

Sometimes it pays to get dressed.

[To be continued…]

IF WILL SCARLET … Were a Super-Powered Plane-Hopper

A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Showed Up Out of the Blue— I Mean Red

“So, yeah,” he’d say. “I can totally just pop in and out of your head at will. Ha! At Will. Anyway, is there food?”

This would fly in defiance of everything I know and/or speculate about the relation between planes, as featured in such literary masterworks as Inspired. Not the part where Will’s asking about food. That much is par for the course. But be-bopping from the Abréal to the Réalis (as featured in Reality as We Know It, newly-released in The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology) just isn’t done!

“You can’t just do that,” I’d say, because, again, he shouldn’t be able to.

“Yeah, I know,” he’d say, striding into the kitchen. Getting to watch him stride would do wacky things to my lungs. It’s one thing to imagine it. Quite another to see with my own eyes. He’d pull open the fridge and freezer, looking for… well, probably pretty much whatever. “But I’ve developed super powers.”

“How?” I’d want to know. Now that I’ve either gotten over the first wave of shock or, more likely, have overdosed on it to the point that it doesn’t much matter anymore, I can begin to take an authorial interest in the how. One doesn’t like plot holes.

He’d crinkle his face at me – one eye going scrunched. “How in the deuce should I know?”

“ ‘In the deuce’?” I’d repeat. “Pretty sure it’s just ‘the deuce’, man, no ‘in’.”

“Couldn’t just let that slide, could you?”

“Could have, but didn’t. Why don’t you know?”

He’d shrug a shoulder. “Don’t know that either. I guess we could speculate. Can I have ice cream? I’m having ice cream.”

I would point out that, as long as his enjoyment of ice cream doesn’t involve him trying to force feed it to me (as is too often the case when he’s free-riding in my head), he can have all the ice cream he wants without me giving a single darn. This would result in a massive grin on his part, and probably his grabbing a spoon from the silverware drawer to shove directly into the carton of, I dunno, let’s call the flavor cookie dough.

“So,” he’d say, after sucking down a spoonful with relish, spinning around to lean back against the counter by the sink, “what could have happened that resulted in me being able to step in and out of your head as easy as crossing a threshold, but minus the imps?” Thresholder imps, of course, being a reference to another Inspired-world story of mine (which is due to feature in a super special Luna Station Quarterly thing in May. Stay tuned!).

A thought would at that point occur to me. “Wait. How do you know you can get back in? Have you tried?”

“Well, I—” He’d stop. Blink. “No, I haven’t.”

“So what if you can’t?”

“Ummmm, I’m pretty sure I can, but I mean, if you want me to try…”

“NO!” I’d say quickly. “What if you could get back in, but you couldn’t get back out? That would be a stupid waste; we haven’t done anything with you here, yet!”

“Mm, yeah, there’s a good point.” He crams more ice cream into his face, eyes trained thoughtfully toward the ceiling. “Well. What do you want to do, then? I could just stay here, indefinitely. I’m sure people in your head wouldn’t miss me that much. I mean, they totally would, but we’d still be sort of together. Like how you and I were together before I was here, sharing your plane.”

“That wasn’t the best sort of togetherness,” I’d say, already dreading the thought of things going back to normal. Because they’d have to, right? Things that are too good to be true don’t tend to last long.

“Not totally optimal, yeah,” he’d agree. His smile would change, going warmer and more deeply into me. “This is actually great. I never get to look at you, like this. I mean, I’ve looked at you, but…”

“I know what you mean,” I’d say, having observed the same sort of thing during his stride to the kitchen. “This is… we should hug again,” I’d decide. And we would. A longer hug, uncut by shock and the delivery of ponies. He’s a really great hugger. Not quite Edgwyn caliber, but definitely up there. Plus, Edgwyn wouldn’t be outside my head to compete, so Will would have the leg up.

“I am pretty sure I could get back out, though,” he’d murmur over my head. “I can tell. Like you can tell that you can, I don’t know, sing a song. A song you know, but just haven’t gotten around to singing yet, like… are there any songs like that?”

“I don’t know. I tend to sing the songs I know.”

“Well, the point is, you’re not worried that you can’t do it just because you haven’t.”

“That’s not a great metaphor, Will,” I’d break it to him. “I’ve sung songs before. So far as I know, you haven’t been doing much plane-hopping, ‘til now.”

“And how am I ever going to master my power,” he would chide, “if you won’t let me practice? Imagine a superhero movie where the guy gets a power but never tests it out because, oh no, what if he makes the face and it stays that way?! Is that how you make an X-Man? No.”

“Ally-y-yn…!” I’d wail, because I wouldn’t know how to cope with this conundrum.

“Yes?” Allyn would say, through me.

I’d point across the kitchen’s tiny space, tattling, “Will Scarlet’s on my plane!”

“Yes, I know,” Allyn-through-me would say. “He does that now, apparently.”

“That is so weird,” Will would say, because it would be – him listening to Allyn through the author filter instead of face to face, Allyn looking at him through my eyes, my eyes looking at a material Will… yeah, “weird” pretty much covers the basics. Then, “Hiiiiiiii, Allyn!” he’d call.

“Hello, Will,” Allyn would say, tugging my mouth up toward his sort of smile. “You’re very far.”

“Not so very,” Will would say.

“Feels like very, from here,” Allyn-through-me would murmur.

Will’s face would do a different sort of crinkling. A different sort of deep-into-you smile, laced with a grimace. “Aw, Allyn… Are you missing me?”

“Perhaps a little.”

“Want me to pop back in, real quick? Give you a hug?”

“No, wait!” I’d cry. “Allyn, is it safe for him to do that? Could he come back out? How is he doing this?

Allyn would answer evenly, “Yes, it is. Yes, he could. And didn’t he tell you? It’s his superpower.”

“But… but…” I’d probably wave my hands around to underscore my flabbergasticity, like one does. As of that moment, flabbergasticity would be a word. “How did he get superpowers??”

“Vat of toxic waste?” Will would say. “Multi-colored meteor of unknown origin? Bite from a radioactive spider… monkey?”

“You’re guessing!” I’d accuse. “You are completely guessing, and your guesses are getting strange!”

“Don’t ruin the magic!” Will would shout. “Also, hey. Watch this.”

And then the punk would totally hop back into my head and out again before I could die of panic from staring into the eyes of my projected worst-case scenario. Because worst-case scenarios are like Medusa, don’t you know.


“Ta-da!” he’d say with zero apology. He’s an “all’s well that ends well*, never mind that I could have inadvertently doomed us all” sort of guy. (*Or “Ende gut, alles gut,” as they say in German.) “Told you. Just like singing a song.”

“That was not a great metaphor,” Allyn-through-me would tell him. Because when I’m right, I’m right.

Will would stick out his tongue, then polish off the rest of the ice cream.

[To be continued…]

IF WILL SCARLET … Showed Up Out of the Blue– I Mean, Red

A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Could See Me Now

Of course, the great, whopping, elephant-in-the-room question behind this whole premise is, What is Will Scarlet doing in my house? Not just in my head, where he’s been ever since about this time four years ago, from which point onward he’s been gaining an ever more prominent presence, but physically here. Outside of me. On my plane of reality. That shouldn’t be possible.

Not that there’s any reason he’d be content to let that stop him.

Suppose I were to wake up one morning – somewhere in the neighborhood of ten a.m. would be about normal for me (prior to going nocturnal, that is) – and get started on living my day by hefting my Bible from its usual place atop my bedside fireproof box and onto my bed. If that morning were, for the sake of argument, tomorrow, I’d be in the book of 1 Timothy.

So there I’d be, curled double over the book, and I’d hear the clatter of the beaded curtain in my doorway. My door, partway closed, would open, and I’d look up, expecting to see my mother, maybe my sister Dianne. And it wouldn’t be either of them.

“Hey, babe!” he’d say, his smiling eyes all aglitter with excitement.

I would have a heart attack.

Not literally, I hope. I mean, yeesh, of all the inconvenient times to die, or at least need an emergency trip to the hospital. More probably, I’d make some strange choking noises as my gasp goes down the wrong way. Before that, I’d freeze – tighten up much as I do when I notice a horrific bug somewhere in my way-too-close-for-comfort vicinity. I’d get this weird and not altogether pleasant fizzy sensation throughout my body. Here’s hoping I wouldn’t lose control of my bladder. I probably wouldn’t. Let’s say I don’t.

Will!” I’m not sure how my voice would sound. Maybe inappropriately angry. I don’t always handle surprise very well.

He’d raise his brows. “Surprised? You seem surprised. I am not surprised that you’re surprised. I mean, far as you know, there is no way I can possibly be here.”

I’d want to touch him. Partly for proof, partly because Will Scarlet exudes touchability. Before I could decide whether to risk a touch, he’d have flung his arms around me. If I weren’t convinced he were actually himself, I would hate it and possibly injure him. Hugs are a case-by-case basis thing, with me. In the case of Will Scarlet showing up on my reality plane, yes; hugs are acceptable.

But that’s if he shows up in my room first thing in the morning, which is not the least creepy way he could make himself known. Let’s dial down the freak-out factor just a hair.

Suppose we’d moved past the morning. Bible, read. Online accounts, checked. Coconut oil, swished around my mouth. We’ll even go all out and say I’m wearing half-decent clothes today. Real jeans and everything; slim fit. Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, the doorbell would ring. Not the kind of ding-dong doorbell you press a button for. We’ve got one of those by the back door, but it hasn’t worked in years. Then there’s the bell by the side door that only works if somebody somewhere opens their garage or something. We’re not sure what’s up with that bell, but it’s obnoxiously startling, and over-loud to boot. The bell I’d hear, though, is the one for the front door; the one you turn like a key to make it chirpily trill. B-rrring, b-rrring! Bicycle bell-ish.

Though optimism is a hit and miss thing, for me, I’d choose to expect that the bell signals the delivery of a package. I’d try to remember if I’m expecting any new books, and would cynically remind myself, Well, we know it’s probably not Edgwyn Pony. I have completely lost track of how long I’ve been waiting for my custom Edgwyn-inspired My Little Pony doll. Part of me fully believes it will not arrive before Christ’s return.

I’d hustle down the stairs – not in any especial hurry, just rarely one to walk up or down our front stairs when I can bound multiple steps at a time and swing wildly around the corner landing instead. Upon reaching the foyer, I could vaguely see someone’s head through the lace curtain over the door’s window. Rats. I was hoping the delivery guy could just leave the package on the porch so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. On the bright side, what little I can see of the guy looks like he’s got cute potential. A little like Will Scarlet, in fact.

This is the part where my hopes would go into overdrive. Not about the delivery guy being Will Scarlet. Even I know better than to expect that kind of miracle. The kind of miracle I’d expect is that this cute delivery guy and I would somehow hit it off while I’m accepting my package – y’know, I think he’s cute, he thinks I’m cute, he’s got a sexy voice (with, dare I dream, a British accent?) – and we’d exchange e-mail addresses and start up a correspondence, and after a couple months, we’d get together in person to, I dunno, catch a movie, grab some lunch (or, dare I dream, browse a bookstore?), and the next thing you know, he’s my best-ever boyfriend, all Facebook-official, and everyone’s so happy for us, and we’re finna elope to England.

Yeah, that’s where my brain goes every time I glimpse a remotely attractive man.

So I’d wrestle with the front door’s lock for an embarrassing fraction of a minute, finally get the door open, and… wow, this guy really looks like Will Scarlet. Same coppery curls, same bright blue eyes, dat smile, wearing copious amounts of red… It’s just uncanny.

“Hi,” I’d greet him, trying to not sound like a dork, ‘cause this could be it, folks. Today, e-mail; tomorrow, England.

“Hey, Danielle,” he’d say. And that would be weird on all the levels, because one, he thinks we’re on a first-name basis, and two, his voice sounds weirdly like I’d imagine Will Scarlet’s would if he didn’t have to go through the voice scrambler of his author’s throat.

I would say “hello”, this time slow and confused.

“Don’t ‘hehhh-lo?’ me, girl. It’s me! Will Scarlet! I’m totally here! Surprise!”

Cue all the previously listed symptoms of shock and the Will-instigated hug. Holy wow, he smells great.

He’d hold up a small cardboard box. “Brought your package,” he says.

“What package?” I’d ask, still dazed and giddy.

He’d say, like it was obvious, “Edgwyn Pony, of course. It’s a day of flying pigs, up in here.”

[To be continued…]

IF WILL SCARLET … Could See Me Now

If. As in “what if?” Full of possibilities.

Will Scarlet. As in… well, once you’ve met him, you know. Likewise full of it.

And of possibilities, too.

“Har, har,” he’d say, if he were at my side. He’d also be standing in my wastebasket. Unless he were at my other side, in which case he’d be squashing my Bruno Bear. I’d rather he stand in the wastebasket.

Maybe he’d sit on the edge of my bed, up nearer my pillows*, off to my left.

(*But not on them, because I don’t deal well with people actually touching my pillows, especially with their backsides)

That would make sense: He’d be facing the mirror.

“It’s so much better, now you’ve got the mirror over here instead of in that corner,” he’d say, explosively. Most of how he talks is explosive. Exclamatory. Fireworks that explode into glowing exclamation points. “Really changes up the room. New clothing whatsit. System. We call it a system, right?”

“Right,” I’d agree.

“It’s best at night. I mean, not necessarily best, but the way the mirror catches the stars.”

He’d mean the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to my ceiling – as opposed to the stars on the dust cover my mom made for my aforementioned system. The dust cover stars are shades of blue on darker blue, reminiscent of a wizard’s robe. …Not the wizard robe that hangs from the system’s upper rack, which is gray with sky blue lining. A darker blue robe with stars, obviously.

“Y’know what’s gorgeous?” Will would say.

“You?” I’d hazard a guess.

He’d grin. “Yeah.”

And he wouldn’t be wrong.

Even so, he’d be bound to lose interest in his reflection eventually. The sound of my typing would snatch at his attention, and he’d lean over and crane around to get a look at my screen. It’s an awkward angle. He’d fall onto Bruno Bear, and Kibbitz (aka Kibbitzchen, aka Kibbitzi, aka my little fox), too.

I’d make a sound of protestation, rising in volume until he stopped squashing my stuff.

“Sorry, ugh, whatever, sorry,” he’d say – or something in that vein, plus the apology I’d make him give to my stuffed friends. “Can I see, though?”

My mouth set to “grumpy”, I’d turn the laptop around to face him.

“Scroll up a bit?” he’d request, since by now I’ve moved just far enough down from the top of the page that he can’t see it. Back at the top, he’d read aloud. “‘If Will Scarlet ’. Ha!” he’d blast, because any instance of his own name pleases him. He’d get to the part about possibilities. “Double the possibilities! Positive times positive equals a positive. Two wrongs never made a right. Double-A batteries, both with positives. One would go the other way, though, ‘cause circuits or something. Wait – positive plus positive. Triple plus? A double-positive. Is there such a thing as double-positive blood? What’s my blood type, do you think?”

Because that is how Will Scarlet’s brain works.

[To be continued…]

So, Wow. THAT Happened. (A Tale of NaNoWriMo in Three Acts)


2014: The year I mean to see my way to the conclusion of the Wilderhark Tales. The first new Wilderhark Tale I’ve written in years, the others close to completed when I decided to take the plunge and publish. For the first time, I’m working under the burden of expectation, and in the countdown leading up to the event’s start, the pressure was driving me nuts, to the point where I said to myself, “Y’know what? Screw this. The only way to be less nonsensically afraid of this thing is to just start writing it. And NaNo is not the boss of you. Now’s neither the time nor the place to be the punctilious rule-follower you’ve ever been. Put on your writer pants and seize the day!”

So on Wednesday, October 29th, I branded myself a NaNo Rebel by starting work on the book’s opening chapter.

My fifth NaNoWriMo, you are the one I reclaimed as my own.

– “NaNoWriMo, What Are You to Me?

Act One

There are some beasts you can face down simply by demonstrating you’re not afraid of them.

And then there’s Gant-o’-the-Lute.

Yes, the minstrel in blue introduced in Book Three and spotlighted in Book Four takes center stage once again in the Wilderhark Tales’ grand finale. And though there were some entertaining highlights along the way, neither of us went easy on the other for this one.

Those who follow along on my author page on Facebook had pretty good seats for the drama.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 1

As one could easily gather from my real-time updates, Book Seven’s been an emotional punch to the face. People who would otherwise assume that a Danielle E. Shipley fairytale series must by necessity have a happy-ever-after ending, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But by Barry Manilow, I made it through the rain. Draft one of the novella = completed. Which left me without only about twenty thousand words to go…

Act Two

The following quotes have been lifted directly from a message thread between me and an anonymous friend.

Me: Seriously. I need to decide what I’m doing after this book runs out. I thought about whipping out some Wilderhark short stories, buuuuuut I’m kind of feeling Wilderharked out, right now, what with all the feels I’ve been going through in that world for the past dozen days. I want something easy. Something fast.

Will Scarlet: Sounds like a job foooooor…!

Me: Pfft. You always want me to write about you. … I don’t want to plan anything, ‘cause planning is work. But when I jump in without a plan, angels lose their wings.

Will Scarlet: It’s only 20K. You can dash off 20K like NOTHING if you just turn your brain off and type. Could be fun. Could be cathartic. How ‘bout a fanfic of your life? I could feature in that, hintity-hint.

Me: That idea is dumb. But it also sounds like a lot of stupid crazy fun.

Spoiler alert: It was all those things. For a happy-go-lucky quartet of days, I babble-typed to myself about what I expect would happen if Will Scarlet were to become an actual physical presence in my life. This is the first NaNo I ever let myself write something with zero expectation of ever charging anyone money for the finished product, which for me, slave to arguably useful pursuits that I am, is actually kind of a zany big deal. And who knows? I might be persuaded to share pieces of the story on this blog, sometime. I mean, if there’s an interest.


Besides yours, Will.

Act Three

And then, out of the blue—


Pardon – out of the scarlet… this happened.

Me: Every time I happen across the info for [this] one publisher’s upcoming short story competition, I think, “Man, I wish I knew the first thing about writing steampunk.” … I do have one idea that I might be able to make work… I’m just chicken to try. ‘Cause visualizing the fancy trappings is hard for me. Plus I’m still psychologically wrung-out from my last book.

“Tell you what, D,” Will says – which always makes me hopeful/nervous, ‘cause he’s about to make me do a thing… “Pause on your Will Scarlet fanfic, and we’ll work on drafting a steampunk submission.”

You’ve all met Will Scarlet, right? So I don’t even have to tell you how big— nay, HUGE of him it was to do that. At that point, I basically had no choice.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 2

And, in an instance of exquisite symmetry, this short story idea begun on November 15, twenty-fourteen was a new manifestation of my old nemesis of a project begun on November 15, twenty-twelve – a tale that, I quickly discovered in this latest attempt to finally see it through to the end, has the same mulish soul it ever did.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 3

Little did this story know, I had a few new tricks up my sleeve.

1 = I’d lowered my goal from a novel to a short story, cutting out all the parts I’d never fully figured out anyway in favor of focusing in on that one piece of the story that I haven’t been able to give up on for the last two years.

2 = The imminence and narrowness of the story competition’s submission window served as concrete motivation to wrestle this thing onto the page once and for all.

3 = Oh, silly project, have you not heard? This NaNo is mine. KNEEL BEFORE YOUR MASTERMAID.

“Pretty sure megalomania isn’t a new trick for you, Danielle.”

But it got the job done, Will, and that is what counts.


As of November 16, I have ripped out my heart for Wilderhark, had a field day with my imaginary BFF, throttled my two-pronged fear of steampunk and a punk of a story, and, incidentally, written over 50,000 words.

NaNo-wise, it’s been a year for the books. ;D

Muse Mug 02.2
I’ll drink to that. …in my new NaNoWriMo mug that’s so perfectly me, it’s not even funny.