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!


“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?


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


(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


(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!


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


(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 )

Open Journal: Muse on the Fritz

#CampNaNo July was a weird one.

I mean, I guess…
I mean, I guess…

April’s laid-back version of the internationally acclaimed National Novel Writing Month was a breeze, with me getting through my edits of “The Sky-Child and Other Stories” easy as a minstrel strumming a lute. Then came July, and I don’t even know where my brain went.

I’d originally planned to collaborate with Tirzah on a superhero novel set in an alternate universe Hawaii. But as the first of thirty-one days of worldwide writing madness drew near, mounting stresses on several fronts compelled me to beg off on beginning that project until another time. (Bless you, my writing bestie, for your understanding.) What I needed, I decided, was something fluffy and fun. And what better fit that description than a continuation of the “Lord of the Rings” spoof I once wrote for Tirzah’s birthday?

StT LotR Bookmarks
Good, clean, stranger-than-true fun.

Featuring (among many others) Edgwyn, Lute, and Rosalba from The Wilderhark Tales, Allyn-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, and Robin Hood from my (coming soon enough to taste, I swear it) “Outlaws of Avalon” trilogy, Tirzah herself, characters of her creation, and yours truly, the first part of my parody of the classic Tolkien novels and their film adaptations was a glorious mess of a romp. I couldn’t wait to pick up where I left off.

Until, like, Day Three or Four.

The view from my Camp NaNo cabin.
The view from my Camp NaNo cabin.

Out of nowhere, I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

I wanted it written. And I wanted to write. But I didn’t want to write that.

I was hungry for words, and apparently running high on inspiration, but satire just didn’t satisfy. I craved additional scenes to insert in “Outlaws of Avalon” Books 2 and 3. I hankered to begin work on a potential Wilderhark Talette idea that had been sitting for a few weeks. I followed my nose to a couple more verses to the start of an Allyn-a-Dale song found years ago. (And accompanied the finished composition on my Rosie, of course.)

Maybe it was a reflection of my less than stable psycho-emotional state. Maybe it was just these unexpected projects’ time to move up from the back burner to the front of the stove. Maybe somebody spiked the punchbowl at the muse party, because it wasn’t just me – basically my whole cabin reported feeling similarly out of whack this time around, so what even, people?

I didn’t end up getting very far on the story I’d planned to. But I remained committed, at the least, to writing more than zero words every day until I hit my overall goal. And when I was working on whatever I guess I was meant to be, I was in my happy place. (Particularly with the “Outlaws” additions, since those books are always my happy place.)

There may be any number of morals, here.

“Same moral from circa NaNo 2014, if you ask me,” says Will. “Again I say: You need a vacation.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

The “Inspired” blog tour marches on! (Or Aprils on, by now.) Why, just look at what went down this past week:

Friday saw me interviewed on the JeanzBookReadNReview blog, talking writing, inspiration, favorite characters, and more!

Monday on the blog of Julie Antonovich Reece, I guest posted on my favorite type of hero. (Spoiler alert: Robin Hood’s name may come up. …I may also have used the term “spoiler” somewhat loosely.)

And Wednesday, I reminisce with The Parasite Guy on “Inspired”s fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

We’ve still got a few tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies…of which I now have pics! Check out the charms on these bookmarks, baby (photographed with tons of love in an effort to make up for any lack of skill)!

Inspired Bookmark, Abishan

One lucky winner’s bookmark will come with this sweet kitty – the great jungle god Abishan, portrayed here in housecat form.

Inspired Bookmark, Wilbur

Another’s bookmark will sport the figure of a chess set knight, a fitting representation of the chivalrous Sir Wilbur.

Inspired Bookmark, Uri

Our gal Uri may not be overly endowed with charm, but with this rockin’ little skateboard  attached, this bookmark couldn’t scream “Uri” louder if it had a set of lungs!

Inspired Bookmark, Yves

Finding the right charm for Yves took some doing, but I think those who know him will agree that this little bird in its pretty cage suits the boy quite well indeed.

Inspired Bookmark, Annabelle

I haven’t forgotten Annabelle! What better for a young lady of letters than a charm like a journal in which to scribe her beloved words? ^.^

And for Luc… oh, for our muse Lucianíel, I could scarcely believe my good fortune when I happened upon this little gem. Whichever muse inspired the making of this entirely perfect trinket, thank you! A dozen-dozen times, thank you!

Inspired Bookmark, Luc

Like I said, folks: This is a giveaway you don’t wanna forget to enter!

Psst. Just curious: Which of the bookmark charms are your favorites? ^^

“Super” or “Guest Post at Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf”

Moonlight Gleam button

Every superhero has an origin story. That goes for us super-writers, too. ;D

What started me off on my relentless quest to bring forth new books from the depths of my heart and share them with the world, you ask? ^^ Well, Lucy from Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf asked first, so if you want the answer, go check out my guest post on her blog!

She was also good enough to throw a spotlight on, “Inspired”, my upcoming novel which is something of a love letter to super-writers, their super-characters, and the super-joy of story-creation. Thanks for hosting me, Lucy!

“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…


* * * * *

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.

“Who?” or “Writer Questions #1”

The all-important questions: Why, where, when, what, and who?

For writers, there’s no right or wrong – only, for each, what’s true.

* * *

Who do you write about?

Ordinary people with everyday-extraordinary lives? Extraordinary people who live out grand adventures? People who thought they were ordinary until adventure found them, and they thus found their extraordinary selves?

(Usually the second or third, for me. I may be stuck in some semblance of the ordinary for now, but I want better for my literary children.)

Do you write people like you? People like your friends? People like people you don’t really like?

(My characters will often share this or that trait with me. And the more time I spend with them, the more they’re likely to rub off, making me more like them. The world better hope I don’t write too many psychopaths.)

Do you like your characters? Which of them do you like most? Which of them don’t you like, yet you find that you love? Who among them are just hard to write for, and why?

(I’ll usually like the main ones, and a number of supporting cast members have worked their way into my affections, too. And there are antagonistic sorts too awful to like that nonetheless intrigue me. Sneaky and/or super-smart types are hard to write for, because their minds work so very differently from mine.)

* * *

Because owls say "Who".And this one is making a dapper face.
Because owls say “Who”.
And this one is making a dapper face.

Who are your inspirations?

Who do you see or hear about that makes you say, “I want to write someone like that”? What types of characters fascinate you? What types repel you and make you yearn to create the opposite?

(Fairytale archetypes and thieves inspire me no end. Characters who make me laugh and feel and want to be them – or, barring that, be with them – are the kind I want to write, in part because writing them can feel so nearly like being them.)

Who writes the way you wish you could? Who’s written what you wish you had? Who has created people that you wish were yours to claim?

(I don’t tend to want to emulate other authors, but I’ve coveted characters often enough. That’s why I love that Robin Hood is in the public domain: I was able to make him and his band my own!)

* * *

Who do you write for?

What sort of person do you envision treasuring your stories? Are they for young children? For angsting adolescents? For angsting adults? For some bored someone on a dreary day, in need of a little magic? For some stuffy someones who think they’ve read it all, and you want to prove them wrong? For some eager someone who’ll read absolutely anything, and you just want to contribute to their never-ending pleasure?

Or do you write for just one special friend? Or just for yourself? Or just for the characters whose stories beg to be told?

(I write for me, and the people inside me, and the people out there like me that I believe exist, just waiting for someone to write the stories they crave before they cave and write them themselves.)

* * *

What about you, readers? What are your “who” answers? Share below!

“HYSRT!” or “The Glass is 2/3rds Full”

As of now, National Novel Writing Month is one-third over. How’s that novel coming, Wrimos?!

…What’s that? Novelist #1 has stalled? Novelist #2 is in a motivation slump? Novelist #3 hasn’t even gotten started??

Dear, dear. Difficult situations, to be sure, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome! You doubt me? Then I would suggest that, hey, y’all should read this.

Not far from this time of the month during last year’s noveling November, she known on the NaNo site as “eehornburg” wrote this piece for her blog, Love Woke Me Up This Morning. Entitled “Go Write Your Novel”, it speaks of the midseason writing struggles with which many of us can relate, and includes a video with a pre-November perspective which could be just the inspiration somebody out there needs to jump back into their languishing novel headfirst – or to actually begin it, for those who’ve dithered over whether or not to attempt this worldwide 50K-in-30-Days madness.

November is young, writers! 10 days gone? Pshaw, 20 days remaining, more like! If you think you’ve got a novel revving its engine inside of you, just waiting for you to give it the green light so it can speed toward completion the way I never hope to see any of you driving on the freeway, then Hey, You Should Write It!

For that sizeable demographic that can’t put words on paper without their coffee, here’s hoping their mugs are at least 2/3rds full, too.

“HYSR/NT!” or “Hey, You Should Read / ‘Narrate This!’ ”

Goodness, how long has it been since I told you that hey, you should read something? That wacky and wonderful summer at Bristol really threw my weekends for a loop, but I think I may finally be in a position to get my posting Saturdays back on track.*

(*Laugh’s on me, folks: I’ve got last-minute plans to spend tomorrow at the 5th annual Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians Renaissance Faire. So… let’s pretend today is Saturday!)

Leading this special feature’s comeback, here’s a piece by Dianne J. Wilson of the Doodles blog entitled, “Inspired by… THAT?” It’s a perfect demonstration of how the most ordinary, otherwise-useless things – from ugly sashes to grocery lists – can turn into artistic greatness (sometimes multiple artistic greatnesses!), with a little help from a creative mind.

So hey, read that – and be inspired!

Even this watercolor painting that I was doing little more than cleaning my brush on could be the first ripple of a brainwave. Creative types looking for a quick challenge, consider this your prompt!


Have you ever wondered what your manuscript, short story, or novella would sound like as an audio book? Are you the kind of writer that loves to hear someone else’s voice reading your work? Then hey, you should read this and weep for joy: The “Narrate This!” contest is coming is coming to the Story Multiverse blog!

I was a happy winner, the last time around, with most of my prize – an audio clip of my Merry Minstrel’s introduction to the magical Avalon Faire – proudly displayed on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” page. (And one of these days, I’ll make myself face the technological drudgery necessary on my end to upload the rest of the file I won. Just ha-a-ad to go all overachiever and make a fancy, subtitled video, huh, Shipley?…)

The contest opens on October 21st. For full details on how you can potentially hear YOUR story read aloud by my blog pal Ben Chiles, then hey, you should read his post explaining all about it. Many will enter (ideally)! May the best of the best win!