The Moon in the Attic, Part 3

Today, for your reading pleasure, the conclusion of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 2, here.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Goodbye?” I cry. “You’re leaving the sky?”

The moon replies, I’m seriously considering it.

“But, the night!” I protest.

Can get along without me. There are still the stars, after all.

“But, the tides!”

I’ll find a replacement satellite. Your planet’s waters won’t know the difference.

“But… but…!” I’m running low on arguments. “What about me?”

The moon’s song turns sad. I know it will be hard

“Not hard,” I say. “Impossible. Some days, you’re my only light in the darkness. Some days, yours is the only beauty that can reach me. Without that… without you…” Tears ambush my eyes. “How can I last the night?

“Look. I get it. Burnout is a thing – even lunar burnout, apparently. Maybe the rhythm of the heavens is no better than the human rat race. Maybe you need a vacation. And you’re welcome to it! Hideout for a cycle or two. Make my attic your rehab retreat. But it can’t be forever. Please.”

Bawling seems a little more dramatic than I’d planned, but here we are. Blame it on the lateness of the hour. Everything’s awful at two a.m.

The moon’s soft light is like a stroking hand, attempting to soothe. Its music is all shushes and coos.

Suppose, it says at last, we can reach a compromise?

Compromise. Noun. That thing where nobody wins.

Suppose I leave the sky, it muses on, but not your sight?

I sniffle back another sob. “How would that even work?”

Open your eyes.

I do, and move to swipe the tears away, but the moon’s light stops me. It’s brighter than ever. Insistently so. More tears well up against the glare, but never get a chance to fall. The light is pushing back. Pushing… in.

“Personal spaaace!” I wail. “What are you doing?!”

I don’t get an answer. I rub at my eyes, and the huge glowing crescent is gone. Yet, the nighttime attic around me hasn’t dimmed.

A whisper inside says, Look in the window.

Not out the window. In.

There in the glass, my ghostly reflection. And there in my eyes…

Moonlight.

Part 3’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936965233854/

To carry with you, says the whisper, through the dark. I will not leave you, my child.

“Wow,” I say, because wow. “But… what about finding that replacement satellite?”

The whisper sounds like some extraterrestrial cuss. Maybe it’s not too late to get a message to Pluto and Charon. Up on the roof, love, and blink exactly as I tell you

For the end of the story, this seems an awful lot like an incredible beginning.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 2

Today, for your reading pleasure, the continuation of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 3, coming later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Why on Earth is the moon in my attic?”

I don’t expect an answer, given that I don’t expect the moon can talk.

But it can. And does. Not in English, or even in words, but in… well, I guess it would be best described as music.

It says something like hello, and sorry to have disturbed you. I gather that it hadn’t intended to introduce itself until morning.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I say, because polite, inoffensive lies are my conversational default. One day I’ll slip up and tell someone what I really think, and then the world will end.

Truth is, I’m not terribly upset to find the moon in my house. Is this in any way logical? No. Can the ramifications of this event be anything short of disastrous? Likely not. Should I be contacting somebody about this? I don’t know who, but probably yeah.

But the moon knows me. I hear my name in its song.

And I know the moon. Sort of.

In one sense, it’s like a favorite celebrity. I know the moon’s stats. I can list its achievements. I recognize its face every time it shows up in pictures.

In another sense, it’s like an old friend. The sight or thought of the moon warms my heart. I feel the love in its light. It’s just always been there, the way family is.

The shining crescent says, Because family is what we are.

Part 2’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936962803207/

Confusion contorts my face. “Biological?”

It laughs. Nothing so Earthly as that. But you hold a part of me. And so you are my child.

I’m somewhere between touched and giddy. “That’s… special. But why are you here?”

The moon’s music sighs. I am old and tired and thin.

“Like a hobbit spread over too much bread?” I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the quote, but I’m tired, too, if not so old. My head’s too full of missing my pillow to bother with first-rate Tolkien references.

Like a moon, it says, with too many phases behind it. Wax and wane, wax and wane… I haven’t the will to grow full again.

So I’ve come down to tell you goodbye.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 1

Today, for your reading pleasure, the first part of a short story written by yours truly. (Parts 2 and 3 to come later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

It’s times like these I wish I had a husband.

I’ve told myself I’m not the marrying kind. That my need for solitude and personal space far outweighs my sometimes-desire for romance. That I’d have no hope of a good night’s sleep if I had to share a bed, particularly if my bedmate were known to snore. Or even breathe loudly. Or touch me.

On the other hand, unexplained rustles and thumps in the attic don’t do much toward a restful night, either.

It’s probably burglars. Murdering ones. Or raccoons. Zombie ones. Or a spider of unearthly proportions.

I’m going to die tonight.

Had I a husband, I’d send him up with a broom or a BB gun to take care of whatever unholy pest has come to plague our home. Instead, it’s single, sleepless little me up those stairs. Clutched in my hands, a sizeable stick. Jammed on my head, my Adventure Hat. (Or, for tonight’s purposes, my Guard My Hair From Cobwebs ‘n’ Such Hat.) Tingling in my veins, a potent form of chronic anxiety that can morph into berserker rage at need. …Or anytime I’m harassed by a housefly.

Every dusty step creaks beneath me. Every breath contains a whispered whimper. Have I lived my best life? Have I any regrets? It’s not actually too late to go back downstairs and just burn the house to the ground…

I reach the trapdoor to the uppermost story, and heaven above, there’s a weird glow shining through the cracks. Bright white light, bordering on blue. Not zombie raccoons at all, then. Mutant raccoons. From space.

Therefore, not a spider! That’s some comfort, at least. Feeling slightly less terrified, I push open the door, and…

That is the moon.

That is the moon.

The moon.

Is in.

My attic.

The story’s inspiration.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

#MARRIAGEofAaD: Launched, Asked and Answered

Happy Launch Day to “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

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Yes indeed, the second book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy is officially out in the world, and available via CreateSpace (paperback), Barnes & Noble (e-book), and Amazon (both). Do both Reader You and Author Me a solid by nabbing a copy. ^o^

In honor of the day, I’ve put together a fun Q&A based on this “writing ask game” spotted on Tumblr. So, newcomers to the series and old fans alike, behold: A whole host of things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

<<<>>>

Describe the plot in 1 sentence.

If I may wax intellectual…

When budding eros comes up against problematic storge, with hyper philia running amok, it’s anyone’s guess which love will conquer all.

You: Not in Greek, please?

Me: Much love; such angst.

What’s the time period and location in which the novel takes place?

The early 21st century, in a magical island of ancient Britannia disguised as a Renaissance Faire in the American Midwest.

Pick one sight, smell, sound, feel, and taste to describe the aesthetic of your novel.

Sight: An arrow through the heart.

Smell: Assorted flowers.

Sound: An orchestral string section – with featured lute solos.

Feel: A sun-warmed breeze.

Taste: Popcorn, Chinese takeout, and mead.

#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard

#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard

How many times does the word ____ appear in the novel?

No word specified, hmm? In that case, the answer is four. An abbreviation of ‘chrysanthemums’ is spoken as an expletive four times.

Which 3+ songs would make up a playlist for the novel?

The book already includes 3 original songs: A cheery spring lovers’ ditty, a sultry jazz number, and a personal piece straight from the heart of Allyn-a-Dale.

What’s the first line of your novel?

May Ellen fought the growing urge to cry.

(For comparison, the first line of Outlaws of Avalon 1 was: “Loren fought the growing urge to panic.” Makes ya wonder who will be fighting which growing urge at Book 3’s beginning. ^^)

Which character is the best liar? Worst?

1) My kneejerk reaction is of course to say Will Scarlet, but while he’s the one most likely to have half the things out of his mouth be technically untrue, the by far better liars would be Little John and Morganne le Fey – the ones with the perfect poker faces.

2) Probably King Arthur. I don’t think the man has a properly dishonest bone in his body.

Which character swears the most? Least?

1) Will Scarlet, hands down.

2) Leila would never.

Which character is most like you? Least like you?

1) The earliest version of she who would become Loren McCaughley was a straight-up self-insert. And even now that she’s Loren for real, we share a number of traits in common – foremost, a mania for all things Robin Hood and a weakness for minstrels. I am likewise a good deal like her adorkable sister.

2) Temperament-wise, I don’t think Leila and I could be farther removed. She’s all sweet-spirited and kind and patient and incapable of seeing the worst in life. You lost me at “sweet”.

Which character would you most like to be?

I’d say Marion Hood is the most ideally situated. All of the best bits of being a Merry Man, less of the torture that comes with being a main character.

Do any characters have distinctive birthmarks/scars?

Allyn-a-Dale’s emotional scars are practically trademark.

What’s a line of dialogue you’re particularly proud of?

Arrgh, the first one that comes to mind hails from spoiler territory! A certain burn from Little John, near the end of Part Sixth. In lieu of that, have this bit from Allyn to Morganne le Fey:

“You are such a creeper.”

Which line from the novel most represents it as a whole?

Never did one so acutely yearn for discomfort as did Allyn-a-Dale.

That or,

“Even if Merlin has our manhood for this, wasn’t it bloody worth it?”

<<<>>>

Tra-la. And remember, if there’s anything else you guys want to know about “Marriage” that the novel’s text doesn’t answer for you – *points to the comments section* – you’re entirely welcome to ask. ;D

“Marriage” Excerpt: Counsel of the Stripe

1 week ‘til the release of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (the Kindle edition of which is totally available for pre-order)! Here’s two things to help us bear the wait:

readane-bookweek_lose-yourself

1) Now through March 11: It’s Read An E-Book Week on Smashwords! Just in time to get all caught up before MARRIAGEofAaD’s release, you can grab an e-copy of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon 1) for FREE and/or check out all the other free/discounted e-titles from other authors here in the event catalog. Happy e-reading! ^o^

2) Have another sneak peek into Outlaws 2 below!

<<<>>>

There was a sense of ease between them which had not been there before. Which was doubtless why Loren — with him beneath the pavilion, idling away the minutes leading up to their last pre-season wedding before the make-believe real thing — felt free to ask, “So what’s going on with you and the others, lately?”

“You’ve noticed that, then,” said Allyn, wasting no time or effort on denials.

“Couldn’t help but do.”

“A less perceptive individual might well have done, yet would have come to no worse end; I’d rather not discuss the matter.”

“Are you sure? ‘A flow of words doth ever ease the heart of sorrows.’”

Allyn wrinkled his nose at the phrase. “Quoth whom?”

Loren smiled. “The merry Robin Hood himself. Or so I’ve read.”

Funny – I’ve read the same.

Funny – I’ve read the same.

“Well, be it far from me to abuse any word of Robin’s as strictly false,” said Allyn, plucking at the grass they lazed upon. “Even if ‘twas counsel of that stripe that caused the very trouble I still have no wish to discuss.”

“Well, if you’re going to toss out phrases like ‘counsel of that stripe,’ I am ill-equipped to argue,” said Loren. “I guess we’ll talk of other things. Oh!” She brightened. “How would you like to go out tonight?”

Allyn’s very blood seemed to still. “Go… out?”

“Yeah. I thought it would be fun to get together with a few friends from the Faire and have a little hurrah before Sunday’s reopening. Catch a movie, grab a bite, nothing huge. It’d be me, my sister, you… I was thinking of inviting the other Men, too, but if you’re all on the outs…”

“Oh, erm, yes, that would be frightfully awkward.” Rather like my present position, Allyn thought. “Alas,” he continued, mental wheels revolving double-time, “it is my fate to pass this evening in their company and out of yours. We have to rehearse another of our shows tonight. The Golden Arrow Archery Contest. Some last-minute changes came up, and we’ve got to get it all ironed out before the weekend, you understand.”

“Right,” said Loren, her face indeed displaying understanding, combined with disappointment. “That’s really too bad.”

Allyn nodded, rolling his eyes like an Outsider. “Tell me about it.”

Loren was provoked to laughter. “Go back to talking about counsel of the stripe, Allyn Gant. It suits you better.”

<<<>>>

Trouble amongst the Merry Men? Invitations to illegal outings? What all is going on in Book 2?!

marriage-cover-final-front

There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.

As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.

Ah. So the answer is, “Plenty!” Here’s hoping this week hurries by. It’s high time this book met the world – and vice versa!

“Marriage” Excerpt: To Say or Not to Say

2 weeks ‘til the release of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (the Kindle edition of which is totally available for pre-order)! You all know what THAT means. Or maybe you don’t. I’ll tell you:

Excerpt time! Here’s a glimpse into the one of the novel’s early chapters.

<<<>>>

At the end of his less-than-victorious march home, Allyn found an unexpected someone awaiting him outside his tent. The man stood straight and poised, legs planted apart, hands clasped loosely behind his broad back. A soldier at ease. A sentinel on watch. Allyn almost felt as if he ought to stand in line for a glimpse at whatever inside the tent apparently warranted guarding.

Knights of the Round Table being nearly as difficult to sneak upon as most Sherwood outlaws, Allyn and his visitor saw each other at more or less the same moment. With a muffled clink of the hooded mail shirt beneath his Pendraconic-crested surcoat, Sir Gawain gave a genteel bow of greeting. “Good morning, Allyn-a-Dale.”

gawain

Hiii, Sir Gawain! …or as near as Tirzah Duncan can simulate you in Guild Wars II.

Not really, Allyn thought, but did not say aloud. Gawain was only being polite; Allyn could do the same.

“Good morning. Have you been waiting for me long?”

“Since the final blows of the stave match, no longer. Who won, if I may ask?”

“You may, though you hardly need to.”

“Little John, then.” Gawain nodded, doubtless having expected as much. “Well, I’m sure you make him work for it. But if it is now convenient for you, I would ask that you accompany me to the Quarter. Our venerable wizard has requested your presence in his office.”

“And if it were not convenient for me?” Allyn mused.

Gawain shrugged burly shoulders. “Then I would weigh the inconvenience of coming along against that of Merlin kept waiting unduly.”

Allyn’s lips twitched into a half-smile. “Inconvenience or suicide? Merely allow me a moment to completely dress, and we can be on our way.”

“What does he want with me?” Allyn asked of his escort.

“I couldn’t say.”

Allyn slanted a look Gawain’s way. “Did he say?”

“He did not.”

“Ah. But you could have said what he’d said if he had?”

“If he’d said I should.”

“Suppose he’d said what he wanted, but then said to you that you weren’t to say what he said. Would you say he’d said that?”

Gawain took a moment to untangle the convoluted question before deciding, “Unless he said otherwise.”

“And if he’d said what he wanted without saying whether you were to say it or not?”

“Then, as you asked, I’d have told you.”

“And if I hadn’t asked?”

Gawain’s mouth quirked sideways. “Then we could have gone our entire eternity without having ever had this conversation.”

<<<>>>

And wouldn’t that have been just the darnedest shame. So, what’s Merlin want? What game is afoot? Perhaps the book’s summary might yield a clue…

marriage-cover-final-front

There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.

As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.

Come back next week for another sneak peek! And the week after that… “Marriage” time!

Sneak Peek: An Avalon Christmas Carol

The December 6th release of “An Avalon Christmas Carol” – essentially, the Outlaws of Avalon Holiday Special™ – is only a week away! To mark the occasion, here’s an early glimpse into the e-novella’s opening pages. Y’know. So you can get an idea of what you’re in for. ;D

<<<>>>

“A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

Merlin looked up from his paperwork, his brows – a silvery gray a match for the beard hanging low from his chin – drawn down in irritated surprise. “Excuse me?”

“A Merry Christmas, I say!” cried the young man again, his handsome, ruddy face aglow with smiles for the ancient wizard behind the desk on the low dais at the office’s rear. “And God save you!”

“That he save me from your foolishness, Mr. Scarlet, is my daily prayer,” said Merlin, glowering over his spectacles. “What’s all this ‘uncle’ business? And what in the world are you supposed to be dressed like?”

“Oh, this?” said Will Scarlet, tipping his top hat to a subtly more rakish angle over his red-gold hair. The accessory added an air of style to the outfit which included a vaguely shabby dress coat (burgundy red) and heavy woolen scarf (faded vermillion) informally tossed over one shoulder. “Isn’t it a riot?” He grinned. “Just screams ‘nineteenth-century man about London.’ I thought it the very thing to wear Out caroling this evening!”

“Out caroling?” Merlin repeated, disbelieving.

“Yes, you know – going house to house, cheery candles raised high, singing jolly tunes and being offered warming treats like cider and chocolate and cookies and figgy pudding, one can only hope,” he laughed, “since goodness knows we won’t go until we get some!…”

“Nonsense!” Merlin cut him off curtly.

Will’s brilliant blue eyes blinked in astonishment. “Christmas caroling nonsense, uncle! You don’t mean that, I’m sure?”

“I do.”

“But it’s Christmas Eve!”

“Yes, I am in possession of a calendar. But I don’t see what the day has to do with your going Outside to torture people with your attempts to carry a tune, let alone your insistence on naming me your uncle. You know perfectly well that you’ll not be leaving the Faire – not for caroling, nor for any reason short of a dire emergency of the sort we faced this past summer.”

Will’s lips puckered into the beginnings of a pout. “Why not?”

The wizard’s pale blue gaze was hard and sharp as flint. “Really, Mr. Scarlet?”

“All right, all right, I know your so-called reasons why. Maintenance of secrecy, avoidance of death, so forth and etc. You don’t have to be so cross about it.”

“Don’t have to be so cross about it…” Merlin muttered, halfway to himself. “What else can I be, when I live in a world with such a fool as this? If you don’t have anything more important to speak of than empty plans and ‘Merry Christmas,’ then good afternoon.”

“It would be a great deal of fun, you know,” Will Scarlet wheedled.

“Good afternoon,” Merlin said again.

“I don’t see the harm in our going, just this one night. It needn’t be far, it wouldn’t be long, and you know you’d be invited to come along, right? You’re what, a baritone? I’m sure we could work out some killer harmonies…”

“Good afternoon.”

Will sighed. “I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute and so much the definition of a spoilsport. But I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last (with little thanks to you). So a Merry Christmas, uncle!”

“Good afternoon.”

“And a Happy New Year!”

“GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Merlin bellowed.

“Getting out of your office,” Will said cheerfully, already tripping backward to the door. “Good afternoon, by the way.”

<<<>>>

christmas-carol-cover-w-text

Sorry, Merlin, but the shenanigans only go deeper down from here – as hinted at in the book’s blurb…

Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that

And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?

In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.

One week to go, then we’re ringing in the Christmas season, Outlaws of Avalon style! Feel free to pre-order and/or add to your Goodreads “to read” list now!