“Never Never” Say Never!

As stated at the beginning of the year, my general intention for this blog’s schedule is to post only twice a week. But of course, my general motto for my 26th year of life is “I do what I want”, meaning I’m wide open to spontaneity. So when I came across a call for bloggers interested in joining a cover reveal for an upcoming Peter Pan retelling, I figured why not offer to join in? I’m as fascinated by Pan as the next child averse to growing up!

All that to say, you’ve got an extra blog post coming to you today, Ever On Wordians! And here’s the main event:

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James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

Title: Never Never
Author: Brianna Shrum
Release Date: September 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Feeling Hooked*? Add “Never Never” on Goodreads!

*(Hey, I made it all the way through my “Toll of Another Bell” review post without a single bell pun. I think I’ve earned the use of one lame joke.)

Brianna Shrum

And now, a bit about the author that I’ve “never never” met, but wish all the best with her coming novel. ^_^

Author Bio:

Brianna Shrum lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, two boys, and two big, floppy hound dogs. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She’d totally love to connect with you. You can find her saying ridiculous things on Twitter @briannashrum

What say you, readers? Think this looks like a book you’d enjoy? ^^

A Read for the Archives

This past November was notable for being the first NaNoWriMo in which I not only wrote like a maniac, I did it while also reading through a stack library books. No, I don’t know what I was thinking; yes, I’m mighty pleased for having broken through personal boundaries like an ever-lovin’ boss.

Now that NaNo and “Sun’s Rival” Launch Week are behind me, I can finally start thinking about writing up some reviews, such as this.

The Book: “The Archived (The Archived #1)” by Victoria Schwab.

Genre: Paranormal YA

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Blurb: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My Thoughts: There are books I enjoy. There are books that excite me. And ever so rarely, there is a book where reading it feels like home.

Reading “The Archived” was home.

I think it’s mostly thanks to the prose. Schwab wrote in such a way that pretty much every phrase felt like it just belonged; the kind of writing that reads so easy, you wonder at the amounts of work that had to have gone into the making of the magic.

Of course, in matters of voice, I must give due credit to the speaker – in this case, Mackenzie Bishop. Her telling of the tale held me engaged from start to end, transporting me to and from remembered moments with the grandfather who mentored her and her present life as a Keeper. She finds herself in a challenging position that only gets tougher as the story goes on, and she handles it humanly, full of brave intentions and of choices good and bad.

The Archive itself is a fascinating place, more of a mystery than even Mac at first knows to suspect. (Hats off to Schwab for dreaming up such a premise!) On the other side of things is the normal life she tries to keep separate from her secret job – if getting to live in a cool old hotel counts as officially normal. Also in the almost-too-cool-for-normal category is Wesley, a fun personality in guyliner whom I, for one, would be pleased to make a friend of mine.

As the plot goes on, stakes raise, enigmas intensify, and dangers compound, until the next thing I know, it’s two in the morning, and shut up, bedtime, I’m read— HOLY WOW, I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING, OH NO (in a “yay for shocking revelations” sort of way)!

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Schwab had me at “Vicious”, and “The Archived” gripped me more tightly still. I’ve read a decent number of books, over the course of 2014, and this novel may well tie for favorite. (Sharing the spot with “The Dream Thieves”.) If/when I’ve got post-Christmas book money, this one’s going to have a place on my shelf.

Such are my thoughts on the book. Have any of your own? — on this, or any favorite read of yours from over the course of 2014? Share below!

SUN’S RIVAL Storyboard

Launch Week for “The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)” continues today with a special treat.

Some of you may know, while others may be surprised to learn, that I’ve long harbored the dream of becoming an animator. Blame it on a lifetime love of Disney classics. While, alas, there’s little chance of me going out to develop those skills anytime soon (writing and publishing being my full-time gig, for the foreseeable future), I have taken a stab at one small piece of the animation process: Storyboarding*.

*Storyboard. Noun. A panel or series of panels on which a set of sketches is arranged depicting consecutively the important changes of a scene and action in a series of shots (as for a film, television show, or commercial).**

**Sing hey for the insertion of dictionary definitions! Talk about an Ever On Word throwback!

So here now, for your visual pleasure, is my best attempt to capture a tiny snippet from my newest novella. Enjoy, and then stick around for further Launch Week announcements. ^_^

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Thanks, Your Highnessness Laraspur and Ionquin, for posing for me. X3

In other business, let’s give a big hand to Emma Michaels, Elena “Eve” Jacob, Rewan Tremethick, Michelle Proulx, Kendra Conine, and Anna “Emaginette” Simpson for hosting me on the “Sun’s Rival” Launch Week Blog Tour! (More tour stops to come; stay tuned!) The tour-wide Rafflecopter giveaway is still running, with 5 lovely prizes awaiting 5 lucky winners.

And let’s not forget about Giveaway #2, the full details of which can be found here. …well, not the full details. As I’ve said before, there’s still the Secret Prize to announce. And that prize is… a print of the sketchbook page containing the artwork of the “Sun’s Rival” storyboard above!

So, what are you waiting for? Enter away! And if you haven’t yet, be sure to order your own copy of “The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)!”

Sun's Rival Launch Week Tour, Novella

Sun's Rival Launch Week Tour, Availability

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That’s the Spirit (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, “Author Alyson Grauer describes Aurael thus:

A manipulative, scheming, slippery, chaotic air spirit whose moral code is basically nonexistent.

“Hoo, boy… Welcome, Aurael!” Will greets the air spirit seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how terrified of you do I need to be, right now? ‘Cause my own story may or may not involve an air-spirit-esque creature trying to kill me and my band, so, um, hahaha, yeah.”

“Oh really?” Aurael twists his mouth into a bemused grimace and goes back to peeling the wings off of a dead dragonfly. “Sounds like a good time to me… And terror is in the eye of the beholder, Will Scarlet.” He shrugs. “I’m only really terrifying if I get bored.” He smiles thinly.

“Right,” Will says brightly. “Good to know. We’ll try to keep things interesting, then. I understand you currently find yourself bound in servitude. Just between you, me, and our viewership, how would you describe your employer? Any perks to working for him? Paid holidays, dental, that sort of thing?”

Aurael’s expression darkens, his eyes like blank slates of lead as spiky protrusions begin to bump out from his brow, cheekbones, nose, skull… He clears his throat and the spikes vanish. He smooths his windblown, silver-blue hair back with a narrow glare. “Dante is a disgusting piece of mortality, if you ask me. He’s manipulative and selfish and snide. He’s self-centered beyond all reasoning, and he’s got eyes for nothing but his own power. Everything else is barely a blip on his brain.” His teeth bare for a moment and they’re shark-like and jagged. “But seriously, no perks, no vacation, nothing.” He pouts thoughtfully. “It’s like being the only trick pony at the circus, if you know what I mean. Complete garbage.”

“Man, and I thought working under Merlin in an immortal Renaissance Faire could get old. But your existence is sure to have some bright spots. How about this: Of your island’s few locals and those recently washed ashore, who do like the most (…or most enjoy tormenting), and why?”

Aurael’s eyebrows shoot upwards thoughtfully at this. A mixture of emotions cross his face as he ponders. Then he squints shrewdly. “I’ll never tire of torturing Karaburan,” he breathes slowly, his lip curled. “Witch-born that he is. His nightmares taste the sweetest.”

The authoress, from the back corner, lifts her hand in contestation of this. “Ahem, if you’ll pardon me,” she says neatly, “Aurael’s favorite person in all the world is Mira. You could go so far as to say he treasures her.”

Aurael’s hair curls into hornlike protrusions, coiling tightly as steam begins to rise from his brow. He scowls and says nothing.

“Adores her, even,” Aly adds.

Aurael’s eyes go black and he stares back at his author, daring her to take one more step.

Aly pauses. “Why don’t you talk about Mira, Aurael? I’m sure Will and the audience would love to know what it’s like for an all-powerful, immortal air spirit to pine for, long for, and against all odds absolutely love a little mortal girl.”

Aurael’s body breaks apart like cloud-puffs, and is replaced with the shape of a massive hideous, steel-silver harpy with terrible talons and a flesh-rending beak. He roars at the author, climbing over the chair to get at her, but bashes face-first into an unseen wall of some kind. The author goes back to taking notes in her book, and harpy-Aurael snarls and snaps and claws at the wall for a moment before hunching its shoulders and peering back over its wings at Will Scarlet.

Will gapes blankly until Allyn coughs from off-camera. “Pun unintended, Will, but we’re still on the air.”

“Ha! Yes! Sorry, I got distracted by the, um, distracting things. Something about a flesh-rending beak. Aaaaanyway, getting back to our happy place: If you were to be granted your freedom, Aurael, what do you suppose you’d want to do with your life? Any long-term dreams or ambitions? Where do you see yourself in— wait, how long does an air spirit tend to live, anyway?”

The question seems to pluck at Aurael’s heartstrings – indeed, if there are any left within him – and he sighs deeply, melting back into the demi-corporeal shape of a silvery-blue man with dark, dark eyes. He sits in the chair again with dignity, as though the harpy form had not occurred. “Immortality is different for everyone,” he admits slowly. “I don’t make plans like that, because I have all the time in the world. Or at least, I did, before I got exiled and captured and all of this grand nonsense.” He seethes quietly. “But I’ll get free again. I will. And Dante will be sorry.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it for one moment,” Will says in placating tones. “Of course, a cunning creature like you will have seen my next question coming from a mile off. Tell me, Aurael, what is your author Alyson’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Nerves and excitement roil in his eyes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Aurael considers this with a long, smug stare at the author. The author does not look up from her note-taking. Aurael purses his lips and at last folds his arms, putting his feet up on the chair next to him and slouching like a teenager. “Her secrets guard themselves in plain sight,” says the air spirit. “Now that the book is out, anyone at all might stumble upon them. It’s all downhill from here.” He pauses. “And kissing never did anyone any favors, Will Scarlet.” His eyebrows arch, and he smiles that same snarky grin from before. “But if you’re offering, I don’t bite.” His teeth show a little through the grin, still sharp and menacing.

Aly looks up. “He won’t bite you. But watch out for your soul, please – he’ll jab a straw into you like an orange in the old Tropicana commercials and schhhhhluuuuurrrrrpp.”

Aurael scowls. “I don’t even know what that means,” he hisses.

“I know you don’t.” Aly shakes her head. “Never mind.”

“Yeeeaaah, we’ll maybe take a rain check on that kiss,” Will decides. “Or should I say, a full-on tempest check?”

“You shouldn’t,” Allyn advises.

“Oh, come on, it’s perfectly hilarious! Let everyone in the joke with a quick word from our sponsor!”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn dutifully, “was brought to you by Alyson Grauer’s newly released debut novel,On the Isle of Sound and Wonder’.

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“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thank you, Aurael; you, too, Aly! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Such Stuff as @DreamsToBecome Novels Are Made On

Everybody get excited! A super rad-tasitical gal is coming out with a book!

…No, not me, this time. …I mean, yeah, me, on December 2nd. But BEFORE that, there is THIS!

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

I was clamoring to get my hands on an ARC of this one. Alyson Grauer (known as @dreamstobecome on Twitter) is mah girl — not to mention my Ren Faire workfellow and Legends and Lore anthology sister. I had the utmost faith that her debut novel would be a thing of wowsomeness. Guess who was not disappointed?

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The story swept me along with the ease of a wave in a gale, the author’s skillful choreography of questions, revelations, and points of view holding me in thrall page after page. Perhaps it is in part a testament to Grauer’s love of theatre shining through that I felt (uncommonly for me) less like a reader and more like a wide-eyed spectator watching a play unfold on my imagination’s stage, complete with humorous scripting and fantastic special effects. I enjoyed moving back and forth between the ensemble cast – from the independent Mira, to the guileful elemental Aurael, to the piteous Karaburan, to the assorted castaways caught as pawns in a twisted magician’s plot. I may or may not have stayed up until three in the morning to find out how it all resolved.

You don’t have to be familiar with the Shakespearean work behind the novel to enjoy it, for this retelling stands tall on its own merits. And if you do happen to be a “Tempest” fan, I expect you’ll only find more to love.

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Find Grauer on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

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On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

Heck yes, I’ve already ordered my copy! And you don’t have to wait until the official launch date of November 21* to demand your own. Go forth and experience the wonder. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway going on throughout the blog tour (the full schedule of which can be found here). And be sure to watch this space for the Kiss & Tell show scheduled for the 22nd, when Will Scarlet sits down for a chat with one of Alyson Grauer’s company of castaways!

*P.S. – That’s when the release party’s coming to Facebook. You’re ALL invited! Come play!

Burdin 2, Launch ‘n’ Review

Know what day it is? Huh, huh? Do ya, do ya? Release day for a friend o’ mine’s sequel, that’s what!

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The Book: “Burdin of Choice (Beasts of Burdin #2)” by Alexander Nader

Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

My Thoughts: Ty’s stubborn determination to turn his back on demons, this time around, was good news/bad news for me as a reader. On the one hand, there was the off-color entertainment of Ty repeatedly letting everyone around him know just how far down under the Agency could stick their agenda, as far as he cared. But on the other, his avoidance of anything that even smelled of demon amounted to him avoiding much buildup of a plot. It took most of the book before there was any real edge-of-your-seat action of the sort that kept pages turning in the first volume of the series. Nonetheless, the smart-aleck narration did a bit to help smooth over the pacing issues and kept me from boredom; I continued to enjoy Ty’s relationship with colorful secretary Nora and cool cop brother Hartnet; and the concluding chapters suggest that there’s plenty in store for Burdin and company in the trilogy’s final installment. I’m looking forward to it!

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Well, if you’re looking for your Burdin fix after Book One, you’ll have a long wait for Book Three if you don’t, now won’t you?  And/or, y’know, you could just gaze at this seriously awesome Beasts of Burdin swag, for a while. (Nader’s set up an online store, yo! Somebody buy something with “Danielle E. Shipley” on the cover so I can blow cash on that poster!)

“Burdin of Choice” is newly available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And make sure to come back next Tuesday (not tomorrow; the Tuesday after that), when Alex will find himself once again grilled under the interrogation lamp of a certain scarlet private eye.

Flying Straight Into Imminent Danger

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you ‘Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight Into It (Redesigned)’!”

“Wait, what?” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Will shoves a three-ring script binder into the minstrel’s hands. “Just run with it.”

“O… kay…”

<<<>>>

Allyn/Narrator: In the far-gone year of two thousand and twelve, a naive young authoress with a trusting heart gave unto a company called iUniverse thousands of dollars with which to publish her novel.

Will/Young Authoress [waving a handful of prop hundred-dollar bills ]: Shut up and take my money!

Disturbing Voiceover: Gladly.

Allyn/Narrator: But alas! For this foolish young authoress did not realize the assisted-publishing path was fraught with peril, and the thousands paid were not in value received. Control was relinquished, prices did skyrocket, and the young authoress cried out to the heavens…

Will/Young Authoress: Woe is me! Would that I had done this publishing business myself!

Allyn/Narrator: And the young authoress did take it upon herself to publish the novel, commissioning a talented artist to provide her with a new cover that doth more accurately capture the spirit of her novel. And lo! The new cover is revealed.

[The curtain rises on the larger than life cover, as displayed below.]

Imminent Danger Cover Reveal

Will/Young Authoress: I love it! The lights, the colors! The glitz, the glam! And just look at how it harmonizes with the novel’s blurb!

Allyn/Narrator [taking his cue to begin reading the blurb ]: High school junior Eris Miller thinks she’s having a bad day when her roommate’s boyfriend catches her stepping out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel.

[To the right of the onstage cover, a spotlight falls on a towel-clad Marion Hood.]

Marion/Eris: This is as bad as it gets!

Allyn/Narrator: Then she gets abducted by scaly six-armed aliens with a strange fondness for the color blue, and her day suddenly gets a whole lot worse.

Marion/Eris [getting hauled offstage by a multi-prosthetic-wearing Little John ]: I stand corrected.

Allyn/Narrator: Trapped on a spaceship bound for the slave markets of Sirius B, Eris fears she’ll never see her home again. But then fate whisks her away from her reptilian captors and into the arms of Varrin, a fast-talking space pirate who promises to deliver her safely back to Earth. He claims to have her best interests at heart, but Eris soon discovers that her charming rescuer has a hidden agenda.

[Marion reappears in the spotlight, this time dipped low in the arms of a space-piratical Robin Hood.]

Marion/Eris [breathlessly ]: What aren’t you telling me?

Robin/Varrin [oh-so charmingly ]: That’s for me to know, and readers to find out.

Allyn/Narrator: As they race across the galaxy, outrunning a villainous figure from Varrin’s past, Eris begins to realize that their relationship is putting her planet, her life, and her heart in imminent danger. She knows that trusting Varrin could prove deadly … but what other choice does she have?

<<<>>>

 “Aaaand SCENE!” says Will. “For those of you in the audience crying, ‘Author! Author!’…”

“I’m not sure that’s what they’re crying,” says Allyn.

Ignoring him, Will carries on, “Here’s a bit about the co-writer of our little skit, and the brains and beauty behind ‘Imminent Danger’!”

“See?” says Will. “Did I or didn’t I look just like her during her the show? Mad costuming skillz, yo!”
“See?” says Will. “Did I or didn’t I look just like her during her the show? Mad costuming skillz, yo!”

Michelle Proulx was born on the market moon of Vega Minor where she spent her formative years reading, writing, and gambling at illegal underground jsgarn fighting rings. While en route to Alpha Centauri, Michelle crash-landed her space yacht on the planet Earth. She now lives in Canada and divides her time between observing the local fauna and repairing her star ship.

“Thanks for inviting us to be part of your cover reveal, Michelle!” Will calls.

“She invited Danielle.”

“#PackageDeal. ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”