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!

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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.

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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!

Of Truth and Transformation

Today, for your reading pleasure, a pair of flash fiction pieces lately written by yours truly. Enjoy!

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Sometimes 15, sometimes 16. As early as 12 years old, as late as 20. Every body develops in its own time. But whenever the time comes, the process is the same.

They build their cocoons – of wood or of words, of cotton or of clay, of music, of color, of big, bright ideas – and they slumber.

When they awake, when they emerge, they are transformed, no two just alike.

Some are grown bigger, some grown smaller. Some are a rainbow, others clear as a bubble. Some grow scales or other armor, some soften and warm.

The lucky ones grow wings.

<<<>>>

“Hold still, Daddy! I’m making you pretty!”

“Making me pretty?” A puff of indignation. “Am I not pretty to begin with?”

An apologetic shake of the head. “No. Maybe a little handsome, but not very pretty at all.”

“Hmmph. That’s hardly fair, when you’re entirely pretty even without getting all painted up.”

A little hand pats a large one before returning to its work. “It’s okay, Daddy. You’re important things other than pretty.”

A pout. “That so?”

“Oh, yes. You’re strong, and a hard worker, and you always give me half of your molasses pies at lunch.”

A thoughtful nod. “That’s true.”

“There, then. Pretty isn’t everything – though you will be, once I’m done with you!”

A quiet smile. “I can hardly wait.”

artists__workshop_by_juliedillon-davg99l

(Image credit: “Artists’ Workshop” by juliedillon)

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Also, I’m still looking for folks interested in an early read ‘n’ review of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”! Hit me up if you want in. ^_^ )

How Now?

How’d the Local Author Fair at the Library Go?

Well enough, thanks very much. Sold a few books (maybe even one or two more than last year? ^^), including a couple copies of My Baby, Volume 1 – i.e., “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. Also got to geek out with one visitor about the Renaissance Faire that inspired aforementioned baby. *waves to Bristol* So yeah, I’ll definitely be back for the 3rd annual event next year – by which time people will be able to purchase the completed Outlaws of Avalon trilogy!

local_author_fair_2017

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How Goes the New Year’s Resolution?

Those who frequent my authorial Facebook page may have seen my pledge to keep my writerly muscles warm by writing a piece of flash fiction every day.

resolution2017

I have thus far remained on the wagon, with results like this, this, and the following to show for it:

He loves to make clothes. And he loves people. And the clothes he makes loves people, too.

His coats wrap their arms around you in a hug. The scarf hangs ‘round your neck with a weight like a friend just come up from behind, pulling you close for a kiss and “how are you today?”

The skirt of your dress swings and frolics about your legs, puppy-like, delighted by your nearness. The stiffer the breeze, the tighter your hat holds your head. “I’ve got you,” it says, in his voice.

The clothes and their tailor – cut from the same cloth.

Brownie points to anyone who can name the inspiration behind that little drabble. ;D And if I stay the course, there will be plenty more flash fics to come – any number of which will likely make their way onto the blog in time.

marriage-cover-final-front

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How are ARC Requests Coming Along?

I’ve had more than zero, but would love to give out more. So if you’d like to read and review an advance PDF of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”, get in touch! (Contact page) Got book blogger friends? Give ‘em the heads up! I can only spread the word so far on my own; any added reach would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and now inquiring minds want to know: How are YOU?

Of the H[e]art and Home

Today, for your reading pleasure, a piece of flash fiction inspired by a piece discovered via deviartART. Enjoy!

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“But why aren’t you happy?” they asked him. “Who could ask for a more beautiful beach?”

That, Deer thought, was just the trouble. He wasn’t asking for a beach at all.

He supposed it was a pretty place, objectively. White-golden sand with sun-sparkled water. Very… bright. Open. Terrifying.

How could he feel safe with nowhere to hide? Where it seemed like the whole of the sea and the sky could watch him, not to mention all the eyes of the others. He wished for sheltering shadows. He longed for a piece of aloneness.

He asked – without knowing how to ask – for home.

And then, one day, he smelled it, brought over the sea on the wind. Earthier than sand and driftwood. A cleaner wet than the ocean. Green… a greener scent than he had ever known.

Deer followed his nose to the shoreline, looked up through the clouds laid low on the horizon, and there it was: A dream of trees. A fancy of a forest. The wish of his soul, but how could he reach it, this woodland in the air?

“Help me,” he whispered – to the woods, to anyone.

The sound was lost in the sudden rush of a storm, blasting through the smooth, pale sky in a swell of sickly purple and black. Thunder boomed, and to Deer’s horror, a lash of lightning struck one of the far-off forest’s trees. With a gut-turning crack, the tree began its groaning fall, and Deer fell to his knees in the sand, heartsick with fright.

If even his dream was no safe haven, what hope was left to him?

WHUMP.

Deer jumped up to his hooves with a cry. Not two leaps away, the top of the stricken tree lay in the sand. How tall it must have stood, for its fall to have stretched so far – from the beach, all the long way back to…

The forest.

High above, the storm was gone as fast as it had come. No more lightning-lit thunderclaps. No wind but the breeze caught in the fallen tangle of branches. The fluttering green of the leaves beckoned. What are you waiting for?

Deer looked up with amazement into the overhead blue. To think the sky from which he’d itched to hide would grant him such a kindness.

“Thank you,” he said. “For understanding.”

Joy in his bones, home in his eyes, he leapt onto the tree-bridge and ran.

“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland - http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969
“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland – http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )

Of the Black, Old and New

A piece of flash fiction by yours truly. Enjoy!

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Spots are the new black.

I don’t know how that got started. The same way any fashion gets started, I suppose. Somebody shows up wearing such-and-such a thing, and it’s probably seven shades of ridiculous, but they wear it with such confidence that everyone assumes it’s the clothes that did it.

The clothes make the man, right? Or the woman. Or the up-and-coming fashionista child. I guess the clothes really do help to make that last one; can’t have a fashionista without fashion; that’s just ista, isn’t it? Generally, though, how you clothe yourself has no bearing on the person you are. You don what you do because you’re you, and your attire’s just an outer reflection of that.

Say you’re someone important. Is it because you’re wearing a coat with big brass buttons and a hat up to there? No, that’s what you wear to show you’re important – or someone who wishes he were, and is hoping to fool the rest of us. You ask me, the only fool’s the one in that mile-high hat. But nobody did ask me. They ought to have. I may not understand the why of fashion, but I always know the what. So when I say that spots are the new black, you can take that to the bank.

“The new black”… I’d certainly like to know how that expression got started. I mean, I can see why a color would aspire to be black. It’s chic, slimming, goes with all the colors… because of course it is all the colors, mixed all together. Black, the everycolor! But then, so’s white. Why not call a thing “the new white”? Don’t tell me it was after Labor Day. No one buys that rubbish rule anymore. If anything, wearing white after Labor Day is the new black.

Spots and white, then. Oh dear, I’ve just caused a spike in the abduction rate of Dalmatian puppies, haven’t I? Never mind the white. If the spots are black, they’ll go with anything; say… black-spotted gold. That could be big, I think; if it can last. There’s only so much that can be done with it. You can’t go out every night in a little black-spotted gold dress. It’s too much of a statement piece, and when you start making the same statement too often, people stop listening. Black-spotted-gold pumps might get their fair share of use. Or a black-spotted gold purse. And you know, I don’t mean to scare the puppies, but furs are coming back. A black-spotted gold fur coat would scream expense – a must, in fashion. Not as loudly as, say, a black-spotted gold cheetah… Or would those screams be mostly coming from passersby? Screams of jealousy, no doubt. Alarm, yes, but largely jealousy. Anyone who can afford to accessorize with wildcats has gone well beyond the cutting edge. Cheetahs as the new handbag Chihuahua. Now that’s confidence!

the-black
The story’s inspiration.

Don’t think you can pull it off? Fine, have it your way. But no one ever made it in fashion by playing it safe. Or playing it sane. Trust me: Madness has ever been the black.

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )

Of Freedom and Far Horizons

First, if you haven’t yet, check out my #AuThorsday interview on the blog of Sunshine Somerville. Good Outlaws of Avalon talk!

Second, for your reading pleasure: A pair of drabbles (stories exactly 100 words in length) inspired by pieces discovered via deviartART. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

I thought, She’s small enough to fit inside my suitcase.

So in she went.

The airport never questioned it and, despite the flight attendants’ judgment, I kept the case in my lap in the air.

We traveled the skies, and then overland by bus, and underground by train – everything blurring past like some long-ago memory.

The broad, winding rivers carried us through enchanted country, beneath the same moon that rises over everywhere.

We posed before windmills, cathedrals, the ruins of castles.

She saw much of the world. Or, well, it saw her.

The dear little thing napped the whole time.

“Enchanted Traveler” by RachelRose - http://rachaelrose.deviantart.com/art/Enchanted-Traveler-277152930
“Enchanted Traveler” by RachelRose – http://rachaelrose.deviantart.com/art/Enchanted-Traveler-277152930

<<<>>>

He’d started with vessels tied up at the docks, then scaled it down from there.

Ships in bottles. Ships in paintings. The ship on his great-auntie’s brooch.

He’d heard it said – no, read it on a poster – that a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. And he first of all agreed, and second of all freed the glossy ship from its motivational prison.

Things with sails were meant for sailing, and his fingers were meant for magic. If his liberations made him a pirate, he didn’t much care. The sea’s far horizon was calling.

“Set them free” by alltelleringet - http://alltelleringet.deviantart.com/art/Set-them-free-328051603
“Set them free” by alltelleringet – http://alltelleringet.deviantart.com/art/Set-them-free-328051603

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )

Of Artist and Muse

Today, for your reading pleasure: A pair of short stories inspired by pieces discovered via deviartART. Enjoy!

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Well? said the art. How’s it coming?

“Getting there. Just a little more detail.”

And I’ll be beautiful, right?

“You’re beautiful now. You’re just not finished.”

I don’t see why not, the art sighed. You’ve been working on me forever.

“Well, you have forever. You’re a timeless creation, and sure to outlive me. That’s part of the point of you.”

Only part? What’s the rest?

“Oh, mostly just the joy of watching you come alive.”

You dearly love me, don’t you?

“Yes, I dearly do.”

Tell me why.

“Because you don’t know, or because you like to be told? Don’t tell me I’ve passed on my fragile ego.”

Like artist, like art! Now tell me.

“Because you’re you. And because you’re me. Because you keep me breathing.”

Like your lungs?

“More like my heart.”

And when you’re done with me?

“Oh, my little masterwork. That will never happen.”

“Art” by kowelvain - http://kowelvain.deviantart.com/art/Art-288792411
“Art” by kowelvain – http://kowelvain.deviantart.com/art/Art-288792411

<<<>>>

You never gave up.

Never stopped searching.

Never stopped chasing your muse.

You fought on without me. Strained through the dark for glimmers of genius long after you’d forgotten how to hope.

I’m sorry. I should have slowed to let you catch me. Should have stayed to help you find your way.

I was wrong to let you suffer so, but don’t you see? I couldn’t bear to end it.

It filled me, somehow, watching you empty. It thrilled me to feel your dreams fall and fade with every failure.

I was a dreadful muse, but you…

You inspired me.

“Old Piano” by Alicechan - http://alicechan.deviantart.com/art/Old-Piano-378814958
“Old Piano” by Alicechan – http://alicechan.deviantart.com/art/Old-Piano-378814958

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )