“Extract” or “Beginnings and Endings”

Guys, guys, guys! Guess what, guess what, guess what? Today I get to share with you an opening “selection from a writing or discourse” from “INSPIRED”! You want a taste of my novel debuting with J. Taylor Publishing in four months and four days? Then read, I say! READ!

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One: Beginnings and Endings

There are people, Luc found, who are very good at having ideas—needing only to live and to be—not even to think, as active thought might only get in the way. Ideas will fall into their laps, as if from nowhere.

Of course, nothing truly comes from nowhere. Everything must have its start, including—and especially—ideas.

The source of an idea, however, is not always as easily found as the idea itself. Some people remain content never to explore where their ideas began, being merely glad of the results, whereas others become so enamored of beginnings, they have difficulty casting their gaze much further ahead than the starting point.

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Jean St. John was the second sort of person—one full of ideas, brimming with beginnings. As she drove through the gray-covered morning toward her workplace, an ending was the farthest thing from her mind.

Manicured fingers rapped paradiddles on the steering wheel. Vermillion lips murmured nothing in particular, and pulled into a smile. “I dreamed a dream, this night gone by.”

“A dream of me?” Luc asked, glad of the conversation—anything to distract him from the gloom of the sky.

She chuckled. “What else? They’re always of you. You, but not you. His hair fell too short, and I remember something about violins, which has nothing to do with you. Or can you play?”

“No,” he said, dismissively. “My voice is music enough.”

She did not need to utter a word on the matter for him to know she’d always thought so. “And he didn’t glow golden, but almost silver,” she said instead. “Ethereal silver, like bright moonlight on water. Was he water? A water spirit? Mmm, no, far more to do with air. Even fire.”

“A mystery elemental,” he mused. “Sure to be quite the character, my dear. But what is the story?”

She shrugged. “I suppose there’s a romance. He strikes me as the romantic type. And I may have caught a glimpse of her, an inkling of dark passion  …  Who is she? Another elemental. Water to his fire, or earth to his air  …  or a human. Which would be worse?” she asked.

He laughed. “Nothing worse than a human.”

She shot him a wry look. “Luc  …”

“Jean  …” he said in kind. Gaze snapping past her, he barked without music, “Jean!

The word’s echo grew into a thunderous crash as a midsized monster too much in a hurry to heed a red light hit her silver sedan. With nothing to restrain him, as he never wore seatbelts, Luc shot through the shattered windshield and out onto the pavement slick with the remains of scattered showers.

In no pain, but greatly shaken, he rose. The eyes of the driver at fault appeared glazed with confusion. Oh, has ignoring the traffic laws led to disaster? Inconceivable! Luc spared the fool no more attention, turning it all to one who mattered more.

He leaned over the misshapen hood of the stranger’s car to the crumpled door of hers, calling her name. She did not move, and gave no answer, all her ideas leaking away into a crimson pool.

Luc stepped away, his face a perfect, pallid blank, staring at the end of his world.

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Thoughts? Impressions? Riots in the streets demanding the revelation of what comes next? Don’t leave me in suspense! …like I’m leaving you in suspense, waiting for the rest of the novel… Be kinder than me, please. X)

Inspired” by Danielle E. Shipley

Not coming soon enough for Danielle E. Shipley

March 17, 2014, though! 😀

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

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For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

“Journal” or “An Inspired Giveaway!”

Five months until the release of my debut novel through J. Taylor Publishing, “Inspired”!

Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a while to wait. So hey, to help pass the time, how about we have a little giveaway up in here? ^^

Kinda makes you want to have a copy of the anthology for your digital reading device, doesn’t it?
Kinda makes you want to have a copy of the anthology for your digital reading device, doesn’t it?

Or, what the heck. We’ll have two.

The “One More Day” e-ARC contest is closed. Congratulations to winner Eric Wilder! Continue reading for details on the ongoing “Inspired” Journal Contest!

Giveaway One: Courtesy of our friends at JTP, I’ve got an e-ARC of “One More Day” to bequeath unto one lucky somebody! Want a chance to read and review a copy of the YA anthology ahead of everybody who’s got to wait until December? Entry is simple: Just tell me you want in! From those entered, I’ll draw a name and announce/contact the winner on Saturday (Oct. 19), so you’ve got ‘til then to give me a holler. Here, I’ll pause to give you a sec to get your entry in right now.

*time freezes, “One More Day”-style*

. . .

. . .

. . .

Back already? Righteo then, moving on to Giveaway Two:

In the novel “Inspired”, one of the traits that characterizes teen protagonist Annabelle is her journaling habit – she buys them by the armload, fills them from cover to cover with story ideas, even names them. I was the same way, at her age (minus the naming part, which is strange, since I used to name almost everything else), and that phase of my life has left me with several fine, empty notebooks still awaiting someone to put pen or pencil to their pages. I’ll never get around to it, which is why I’m passing the privilege on to seven – yes, I said and meant seven – lucky winners. Take a look at the prizes up for grabs!

Journal Giveaway 01

Journal #One sports a pale green cover, soft and springy to the touch. Also spring-like is the pink flower through which a bright orange rubber ribbon keeps the book snugly closed until you’re ready to write.

Journal #Two is a shiny, psychedelic blue hardcover artfully covered (by moi) in stickers representing countries all over the world.

Journal Giveaway 02

Journal #Three is all class with an exquisitely-bordered hardback leather cover featuring a gentle magnetic clasp.

Journal #Four shares the magnetic clasp feature, meaning your pocket-sized journal will stay safely closed until you’ve gazed to your heart’s content at the bird- and flora-filled cover art suggestive of stained glass.

Journal Giveaway 03

Journal #Five models Australian chic, its cover depicting a kangaroo silhouette leaving tracks across a background of sandy waves.

Journal #Six is softback leather in sophisticated dark brown, perfect for giving your scribbles an air of timeless importance.

Journal #Seven’s hardback cover is a work of still-life art, boasting a stylish assemblage of fruit and calla lilies over a varied pastel background.

Oh, and did I mention that each and every journal will come with a signed “Inspired” bookmark? Because they will. (:

Journal Giveaway 04

So, how can you enter to win one of these seven superlative prizes? (Okay, maybe “superlative” is taking it a bit far, but come on, after that catalog of notebook pitches, I’m running out of descriptors, here!) All it will take is an answer to any or all of the following inspirational questions”:

What’s the greatest idea you ever had?

For the writers/artists out there, tell me about your muse. What does he look like? Describe her personality. How well (or badly) do the two of you get along?

Who or what do you find simply inspiring?

(And if I notice you spreading the word about the giveaway in social media places, you can bet that will up your name’s occurrence in the raffle pool, too. ;D)

Also, tell me which journal you want. List your first, second, and third choice (or heck, you can rank all seven, if you like). The order in which I draw the seven winning names at raffle’s end will determine who gets first pick. Here’s hoping as many winners as possible get one of their favorites!

You have from now until pretty much just before I announce the winners to enter, and that announcement shall go forth on Monday, October 28th. (Because nothing says “happy [two days early] birthday to me” like presents for y’all.)

So, in summary, tell me if wanna win an e-ARC of “One More Day, and answer the questions above in the comments below for a chance to win your pick of journals and an “Inspired” bookmark. And now, one final word from the inspiration behind Giveaway Two…

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

* * * * *

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

“Brainstorm” or “Scattered Showers with a Chance of a Bolt of Brilliance”

National Novel Writing Month begins in just 3 days! And my birthday’s tomorrow! And Halloween’s in between! And the next full moon falls on the 28th! Christmas is coming!

Most of that is irrelevant to this post’s topic. …Or, actually, not quite. You see, today I’m talking about brainstorming – “a method of shared problem solving in which all members of a group spontaneously contribute ideas” or “a similar process undertaken by a person to solve a problem by rapidly generating a variety of possible solutions.” That opening paragraph above is a fine of example of rapid idea generation; I just burst in with any old bit of interesting upcoming date information that popped into my head. If it all didn’t so perfectly illustrate the point of this piece, I might have tossed everything but the first statement out. As it is, I’ve chosen to leave it.

That’s the beauty of a brainstorm: Sometimes the deluge produces more ideas worth the keeping than you dared to expect. Contrariwise, sometimes the ratio of workable ideas to throwaways is like a single raindrop amidst a muddy flood. That’s okay, too. Water recycles. The flood will eventually evaporate, condense into cloud form, and come showering down again, perhaps this time with more usable ideas to show for it.

It’s raining words! Hallelujah!
(Image found on Pinterest)

Hmm… I like the analogy alright, though I suppose I might have found a prettier way to say it, had I given it more time… I’m not putting a huge amount of care into the crafting of this particular post, though. This post, I’m writing brainstorm-style. It’s all about output (with, I admit, a modest amount of compulsive editing; even were this for no eyes but my own, I wouldn’t abide anything that truly makes me cringe). The pretty stuff comes later, when I’m actually writing the novel/short story/whatever the brainstorm’s outlining.

Now, not everybody likes to outline their stories. Not everybody needs to. Some prefer to just figure out the tale as they go, and if they can get a good book out of that, more power to ‘em, I say. But for anything longer than a really quick short story, I can’t do that. I need to get my stats straight first – character info, a relative timeline, which startling plot twist goes where, and how in the world this is all supposed to resolve. To keep track of all of that, the novel needs an outline. And because I have an interest in the different ways writers prep their projects and shall assume that somebody out there feels similarly, here’s a peek at what all goes into a Deshipley brainstorm.

It all starts with a blank document, which quickly becomes less empty as I jot down the date and time. (No real reason for that, it just enables my illusion of organization.) Then I’ll start babbling to myself.

The following is an except from an actual brainstorm doc left to languish in the Possibly Salvageable Junk Pile, with a bunch of nouns changed to protect the innocent ideas which I may yet one day wish to use, in some form:

* * *

So there’s this… young lady of some sort or another. And there are wolf men after her, so she needs protection. She gets a troll. I’m assuming she can’t be an angel, then, because her attitude about this is less than stellar, and angels always have stellar attitudes. But speaking of stellar, maybe she’s a star sprite. Wonder why the wolf men want her… And wouldn’t a star sprite be able to defend herself? Hmm, but maybe a half-star sprite couldn’t. Still unanswered, though – why do the wolf men want her?

…Oo-o-o-ooh… Thought: What if this defender is none other than [insert name of some previously-written-about Character X]? With [Character Y] as his sidekick!!! This would happen before he becomes [some glorious future self], of course… And they could get in league with some genies, too – or at least one, and his gnome. That’ll be nifty, since genies can communicate with the undead.

What in the world would cause such an alliance? And why end the alliance there? Why not scale it back so it’s not Character X and Character Y, it’s just some other troll, some angel, some wolf man, some star sprite, some genie, some gnome… even some human. (“Seven companions… very well! You shall be the Fellowship of the Whatever’s Goin’ Down Here!” “Great! So… where are we going?”)

* * *

*Shikka, shikka, ka-BOOM!*

Pretty chaotic, right? That first downpour often is. But while the brainstorm doc itself probably won’t get any tidier as I go along, the novel it’s trying to piece together will. Maybe some thirty pages of yakking later (a rough average), and likely having gone over the same points over and over again, for the sake of keeping it clear in my head, I’ll have worked out who’s who, what’s what, and when’s when, where, and how – my favorite part of all that being the “who’s who”.

I brainstorm my characters, too, naturally. Sometimes the babbly way seen above – just throwing out anything I think they are or want them to be, for a start, and worrying about what’s actually true later – sometimes via my Anything and Everything Character Questionnaire. …Although for some reason, I usually hold back the in-depth Q&A until after I’ve already given the characters their book; kind of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, some might say, but I find it’s a great way to generate sequels; hanging out with them in an imaginary pillow fort is good for that, too. The bottom line is just to get some idea of who I’m dealing with so it will be that much easier to let them speak through me while we’re all in the story trenches together.

That’s the bottom line of the whole brainstorm, really: The more I know before I start the ride, the smoother it will be. Fewer wrong turns, fewer potholes, better gas mileage, and, uh, better songs on the radio. …That last bit was probably best left out of the analogy, I’ll concede. Unless you’re writing a book with minstrels, in which case, it can’t hurt to know your song numbers in advance.

So, that’s the first step in my magic-making process. What about any other writers in the house? How do you make it rain?

“Train” or “All Aboard the Inspiration Express”

Where does a story idea start?

Real life answer: I might, for example, lament to my mother that I wish I were writing a short story. She would then offer up whatever ideas came most readily to mind in an effort to jumpstart my creative process. Some (read: most) of those ideas will be ridiculous beyond comprehension. Others will sound almost useable. And there are yet others that never make it out of her mouth, denied passage by her less than golden short-term memory.

This may prompt me to mention having read somewhere that people are more likely to forget a thing after having just passed through a doorway, which will in turn prompt Mother Dear to ask, “Why could that be?” Obviously, we’ll decide, it’s because some invisible creature lurking in the threshold is snatching our thoughts as we go by. (The only logical explanation, really.) And from that “orderly succession of related events”, I’ll have my story.

Fantastic answer: I would with humble pride suggest that you read my short story in the latest issue of Luna Station Quarterly to find out. (;