Behold the Brainstorm

So, back at the end of May, I revealed the ridiculously perfect cover for the re-release of my first published novel, “Inspired” – coming better than ever to an online retailer near you in Spring 2018! I also mentioned that the book’s got a never-before-released sequel, which will be coming out at the same time.

I’d thought to share Book 2’s cover probably sometime in June, buuut my cover artist just fell out of communication with zero explanation. (Which, wow, okay, is exactly why I have trust issues.) Fortunately, I discovered a fantastic Plan B. …Or should I say, Geneva B. Thanks to her, Book 2 has a face! And today, you get to see it.

First, the blurb, so you have an idea what you’re in for:

For a brainstorm like Mach Jenius, the rules are made to be broken.

So when a twist of the plot – and of the very laws of reality – thrust masterful muse Lucianíel and his character children into the nonfictional world, Mach swoops into the void left behind, eager to stake his own creative claim on author Annabelle Iole Gray.

But getting replaced in his involuntary absence has Luc feeling, well, unamused.

If Annabelle’s friends fight their way back into her imagination, newcomer Mach will be flat out of luck, out of a home, and out of an artist to fulfill his mad purpose.

Fortunately, he’s never out of ideas…

And now,




behold the cover of




Out of My Head”!

Cover 2 w Text, front

Hello-o-o, Mach Jenius. ^o^ Deciding on his look for the cover was tricky, because he rarely chooses to look the same way twice! But together, he and I settled on an appearance that works to represent him as a whole, and the artist made it happen with her signature flair for color.

How ‘bout a look at Book 1 and 2 side by side?

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Each stylistically different, both entirely awesome. Which, come to think of it, is a perfect metaphor for Luc and Mach.

I can’t wait to give you guys this duology! …But I gotta, because Outlaws of Avalon 3 comes first. So let’s all just try to keep our heads ‘til then.

If the muses allow. ;D

(Feel free to add “Out of My Head” on Goodreads!)



Feeling [Re]Inspired

Printers Row Lit FestSo, here’s what’s new. I’ve got a little book-a-palooza coming up in a couple weeks – the Printers Row Lit Fest. Sunday, June 11 (Day 2/2 of the event) from 2 – 6pm, I’ll be in a tent with a number of other members of the Chicago Writers Association (check out the Facebook event page here for more details on exactly where to find me!), hawking my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon series, and talking up the re-release of my first published novel, “Inspired”.

The re-launch date won’t hit ‘til next spring, but the rebooted cover art I commissioned is newly completed (give or take whatever last-minute tweaks I’ll need to make for printed-book purposes), and given the huge crowds Printers Row attracts,  it would just seem like too big a waste to not show off what I’ve got.

Besides, this is publishing. Teasing a book’s face almost a year before release is pretty much par for the course.

All that being said, who’s ready for an on-blog cover reveal RIGHT NOW?

Y’all are?

You’re su-u-ure?

Then feast












Cover w Text 06.3, front

AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaahhh, is it not AMAAAAAZING? Could this author and muse pair look any more fantastic?! Enormous thanks to Gizelle Baluso (seriously, Gzel – ALL. THE. THANKS) for making it happen … and for working on the cover to the never-before-released sequel. #StayTuned

And now, a moment to refresh our memories of what “Inspired”s all about!

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.

See you again in two weeks, when I may or may not be ready with a recap of my first time selling at Printers Row. ^o^

Of Cabbages and Book Making

The time has come (the author said) to talk of many things:

Of novels and their sequels – books and their coverings –

And why the day ducks stay in rows is when the pigs have wings.

Of Lemons and of Lemonade

Those of you following me on Twitter may have caught this vague reference to some of my latest news, earlier this month.

JTP News 1

While those who keep up with me on Facebook will have gotten a brief, but more concrete explanation.

JTP News 2

Receiving that kind of e-mail from your publisher is probably NOT on any author’s list of to-dos, but there you are. J. Taylor Publishing has de-listed their catalogue of books from all retail channels and reverted the rights to their respective authors. What this means:

1 = “Inspired” and the “One More Day” anthology are no longer being printed and sold.

1.5 = Congratulations to any of you who’ve already bought your copies – you’re now in possession of a literary rarity. They’ll be worth big bucks once I finally attain author superstardom!

2 = I dunno about the antho, but if I want “Inspired” back up for sale, I’mma have to put it there myself. Which, I mean, I had already been planning to do, once the novel’s rights came back to me. That just ended up happening a couple years sooner than I expected.

So! Look for the re-release of “Inspired” in Spring 2018, complete with a brand new cover, probably some bonus short stories thrown in at the end, and – guess what? – a delightful sequel! I’ve been sitting on “Inspired 2”s manuscript for a little while, now, and am very much excited to get it out in the world alongside its predecessor, just as soon as I’ve finished with my scheduled plans for The Outlaws of Avalon. Which serves as a perfect segue into my next topic…

Of Trials and Traveling

To quote myself:

Hello, all! Author Danielle E. Shipley, here. And this is my tale:

I’ve recently published the first novel in the three-part story of my heart: The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy (a contemporary fantasy retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with some Arthuriana and Renaissance Faire fun thrown in). With Book 1, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, out in the world, it’s time to ready Book 2 for its March 2017 release. But I’ve run into some unforeseen difficulties.

You see, I’ve been living with a friend in Germany for the past few months, with the intention to stay until next year. However, the situation unexpectedly changed, requiring my return to the U.S. this fall. …Meaning my travel expenses and the cost of Book 2’s cover design will land in my lap at roughly the same time.

As an author – particularly a largely unknown, self-published one – I don’t make a lot of money. Truthfully, at this stage, I’m investing far more in my career than it’s earning back. With time, effort, and luck, that may change. Until then, if I want Book 2’s cover to look every bit as beautiful as “Ballad”s, I could really use your help.

My cover designer’s fee comes to 750 euros. Convert that to U.S. dollars, add in the usual percentage owed to the site hosting this campaign (*tips hat to GoFundMe*), and a fundraising goal of $875 should see me through. The bill comes due at the cover’s completion, which I aim to attain by November’s end. I understand that not everyone can afford to support me by purchasing my books, just now. But if each of you reading this made even a small donation to this campaign – 1 to 5 dollars, 10+ if you’re a Robin Hood-level hero – it could add up to what I need to keep me fiscally afloat.

I would be enormously grateful for whatever amount you can give – so much so, that I happily pledge to thank every donor by name within the acknowledgement pages of Outlaws of Avalon 2. (Unless, of course, you indicate that you’d like to be lumped in with “Anonymous”.)

It’s the characters that make my stories come alive. It’s me that puts it all on the page for readers to experience. And this time around, it’s you that will help make the novel’s face a reality. Bless you for it.

~ Danielle

That’s right – I’ve taken a chance and started a GoFundMe campaign! I very much hope you’ll do me the grand favor of donating and/or sharing the link with others who may be in a better position to give.


Callooh! Callay! Your help I pray!

(My thanks for listening. ^.^)

This is Only the Beginning

Everybody know what day it is?!

“Cover Reveal Day!” cries Will Scarlet.

No, that was actually two days ago.

“St. Patrick’s Day,” says Allyn-a-Dale.

The snakes of Ireland beware. But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

“All right, then – out with it,” says Will. “What’s the occasion this time?”

It’s the 2-year anniversary of my first published novel, INSPIRED!

Allyn’s brows fly upward. “Two years already! …Or ought I say, only two years? How time does race by at a crawl.”

True dat. Either way, this milestone calls for revels. So I’m providing goodies of two different sorts.

1) “Thoughts and Impressions” – an INSPIRED excerpt, as read by me

Because nothing jinxes my ability to get through a few paragraphs without blunders like trying to capture it on camera. XD But we got the video in the end. Click here to view!

Thoughts and Impressions

2) “This is only the beginning” – INSPIRED doodles, as sketched by me

Because I don’t take nearly enough time to draw self-fan-art, these days.

Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse

Full sketch-dump, as dictated by my muse

Annabelle detail

Annabelle detail

Abishan detail

Abishan detail

Yves detail

Yves detail

Knight detail

Knight detail

Light detail

Light detail


I feel a little bad that there’s no Uri representation in this piece. Then again, Annabelle and Wilbur were deprived of speaking parts in a video excerpt where everyone else got to talk. So, y’know, fair’s [un]fair.

Happy anniversary, dear novel o’ mine! May this day’s tribute inspire old readers to revisit your pages, and new readers to discover all the stories you have to tell.

Join the celebration! Share your INSPIRED thoughts and impressions in the comments!

We Are Most Amused

Once upon a while back, I told you about how my fellow Bristol Ren Faire Town Crier alumnus set me up with my first-ever author event with her writing group. Among many other worthy highlights, I made mention of the fact that I’d been privileged to read an early copy of a script my host was working on – a little something inspired by my very own “INSPIRED”.

Fast forward to the present, where the show has moved from page to stage. “aMUSEd”, written and directed by Megan Ann Jacobs, is aliiiiiiiive! And you’d better believe I was there on opening night!

aMUSEd, cover photo

Me and my Daddy, awaiting curtain-up!

Me and my Daddy, awaiting curtain-up!

aMUSEd, centerfold

Presented by the Milwaukee Entertainment Group, “aMUSEDd” was staged at a lovely old-homey bed and breakfast, the Brumder Mansion. The mansion’s owners, Tom and Julie Carr, are not only the providers of the show’s venue, but its producers. Like my own family’s residence, the Brumder has been around since the Victorian era. Unlike our home, it has a gorgeous little threatre in its basement.

aMUSEd, Brumder Mansion

Interior shots of but one of the Brumder’s fancy rooms. (Hi, Dad! Hi, piano I refrained from playing!)

Interior shots of but one of the Brumder’s fancy rooms. (Hi, Dad! Hi, piano I refrained from playing!)

aMUSEd, stage

The stage in all its pre-showtime glory.

The seed of a single inciting incident has bloomed and branched into two magnificent tales. In the first, the untimely end of the author of Lucianíel, muse and light elemental, became Luc and Annabelle’s story, as novelized by yours truly. In the second, the death of Anita (Lori Morse) sends Sebastian, Muse of Comedy (Josh Scheibe) into a slump of poltergeist-esque depression as he does all in his power to keep any new tenants from taking over his late instrument’s apartment. Too bad for Sebastian, Nikki (Madeline Bunke) doesn’t plan on going anywhere – not least because, following a tragic loss of her own, Nikki’s had as tough a time as Sebastian moving forward.

Good thing they’ve got each other! And when I say “good thing”, I mean “hilarious thing”.

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

But it wasn’t all laughs. Both I and the light elemental looking out from my head had our hearts battered by Sebastian and Anita’s relationship. The deep connection between Muse and vessel of inspiration is a precious thing, and Scheibe and Morse played it for every bit of pathos it was worth. To watch their characters’ time together come to an end was a bittersweet thing indeed.

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

aMUSEd pre-production, N and TThen out steps Bunke as Nikki, giving Scheibe a run for his money in the category of “most comedic facial expressions ever”. Gotta love when silent gags and dialogue work hand in hand.

Also making his presence known in a big way was Nate Press as Tyler, the overloud, oversharing, and basically over-the-top landlord trying to juggle a reputedly haunted unit and his own relationship issues. Although I’d never want such a someone all up in my personal space in real life, it was a wicked delight to watch everyone else onstage have to deal with his escalation factor.

Rounding out the cast were Olivia Gonzales as Kasey, the NYPD officer who gets called into this apartment’s shenanigans one time too many (no-nonsense cop, meet ALL the nonsense!), and Phil Stepanksi as Ryan, Nikki’s long-suffering fiancé who’s got longer suffering ahead of him before this Muse-bestirred mess resolves. Word to the wise: Don’t let an immortal touch your cell phone. Or your frying pan.

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography;

All told, this was a fun production, one that both my novel’s protagonists and I deem an excellent portrayal of the magic of stories and the souls that give them life.

Hats off to Megan Ann Jacobs and everyone involved! The show runs at the Brumder through October 17th, so if Milwaukee’s not beyond your reach, I urge you to get out there and be very much “aMUSEd”!

Alone in a New York apartment, the god of comedy is melancholy, and he wants everyone to know it.

Though bound to find a new person to inspire and complete an unfinished story, Sebastian, the last remaining Greek Muse, mourns the passing of his latest instrument and friend, amusing himself by successfully spooking, pranking, and sabotaging every opportunity for a potential replacement.

Until Nikki.

Driven by her own personal demons, Nikki stubbornly battles with Sebastian for mastery of the apartment. Though fully engulfed in their feud, things get all the more complicated when the two are plagued by an over-involved landlord, a well-intentioned fiancé, and a dramatic Sebastian-orchestrated duel between the two that results in good old-fashioned police intervention. “aMUSEd” captures and explores our tendency to honor the dead by refusing to live, and leads us, through the ancient art of comedy, to live with the past and move forward.

Megan’s bio (as lifted from the “aMUSEd” playbill): Megan studied English and theatre at Wisconsin Lutheran College. There she played Becky in Becky’s New Car, Lady Macbeth (act 2) and ensemble in, In Spite of Thunder, and Sarah in New York, to name a few. Since then she has worked for Theatre Unchained, Memories Dinner Theatre, and she is thrilled to add the Brumder to the list. aMUSEd marks the beginning of both Megan’s career as a playwright and director. She is beyond grateful for the faith, trust, and support the Milwaukee Entertainment Group has given her. Megan is very proud to announce that after making its world premier on this stage, aMUSEd will be produced at two other Theatre Companies this year: The Bay Players & Memories Dinner Theatre. Megan would like to tank this dedicated cast and crew for all of their hard work and talent. Without them these words would never have left the page.

My little Luc in a lightbulb approves.

My little Luc in a lightbulb approves. ^_^

Up There with the Best of ‘Em

After I-forget-how-long of knowing this was coming but waiting until I had more details to begin blasting the news from the rooftops, I am all kinds of pleased to announce…

Best of LSQ

(That’s “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years”, for those who for whatever reason can’t see the “ooh-ah”-worthy cover image.)

Luna Station Press is proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our flagship Quarterly with this special anthology. The writers gathered in these pages, from every corner of the globe, are explorers of wonder, magic, and places beyond the stars. They are also explorers of what makes us human, in heart, mind, and spirit. Come explore the best we have to offer, as we look back fondly on the last five years and look ahead at what’s to come. Featuring fifty stories by emerging women writers, with cover art by Hugo award-winner Julie Dillon.

Longtime Ever On Wordians may or may not recall it, but it is Luna Station Quarterly, online speculative fiction magazine for authorial women of all stripes, that bears the distinction of being the first entity ever to accept and publish a Danielle E. Shipley short story – the hundred-word flash fic “Still Broken”, subsequently republished in “The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)”. Since then, it’s been my honor to contribute a number of posts to the LSQ blog, as well as two more short stories – one of which also appears (in much-expanded form) in “The Sky-Child”, the other of which appears… that’s right… within “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly” anthology.

Anyone remember “Train of Thought”, my short-‘n’-sweet companion piece to “INSPIRED”? Well, editor Jennifer Parsons set me squealing by ranking it among her top fifty LSQ stories to date! Color me chuffed – and that goes for Luc and Annabelle, too.

So, who wants a copy of this big, bad fella? It can be yours via Amazon or direct from LSQ – (the latter comes with a coupon code!) – all proceeds to benefit the ongoing production of Luna Station Quarterly.

Who knows? Maybe with your support, another crazy little writer gal will earn her first publication credit in this online mag. ^_^

Fashionably Late to the Party

*rolls out of bed*

*checks Twitter*

*sees this post*

Muse Party Blogfest

Me: “Wait. What? Muse Party Blogfest?! Holy Moe, this has to happen!”

Will Scarlet: “YE-ESS! Party, party, party!”

Me: “Um, actually, I was thinking about this for Luc and Annabelle.”

Will: “What? I— Oh. …Yeah. Sure, I guess… whatever.”

Me: “Dude, we party all the time. Let the fictional author with her card-carrying muse have some fun.”

Will: Will they have fun?”

Me: “Only one sure way to find out.”


Who is your muse (or character)? Tell us a little bit about him/her and why you brought them.


Hi! I’m Annabelle Iole Gray, author of… well, nothing famous yet, but I’m in my teens; there’s still time. This is Lucianíel. Luc, for short. He’s a light elemental who showed up in my dreams, one night, all suave and too beautiful by half, offering to take me on as his artist. I shoulda read the fine print, there, but it’s worked out all right. And— um, I’m sorry, who are you?

“Will Scarlet. Don’t mind me. My author and I are doubling with you ‘n’ Luc. That’s cool, right?”


“This is not my fault. -_-”

What are you guys wearing? Dressing up or keeping it casual?

If I’m going to bother to leave the house, even if it’s just for a bookstore or library run, I’ve got to fancy up – even if it comes out a bit… random. For tonight, I pulled out my black hoodie waistcoat (technically just a vest, but calling it a waistcoat makes it sound classier), over a technicolor leopard print dress, over black leggings, with gold gogo boots borrowed from my sister. Also, my treble and bass clef earrings.


Thanks… Will, was it? Anyway, Luc’s wearing what he always is: The well-pressed suit with the Mandarin-style jacket, the dark color in striking contrast with his white-blonde hair, gold eyes, and overall luminescent complexion. Did I not say “suave and too beautiful by half”? Zero hyperbole.

“I’m going in a ‘modern Merry Men’ direction,” Will inserts. “Close-fit jeans, casual tunic, jaunty hat and killer boots… all red, of course.” He jerks a thumb behind him. “And Danielle’s still in her PJs.”

“I didn’t know we were going out, okay?!”

It’s a potluck! Did you bring something yummy?

We were supposed to bring food? Um…

Luc’s bell-like voice rings out, “Leave it to me, my dear.” And at the speed of light (yes, literally), he’s gone and back bearing a tray of fresh fruit kabobs.

“Fruuuuuit! My favorite! Luc’s my hero!”

“Way to make me look bad, dude,” Will grumbles. “You couldn’t’ve grabbed a box of donuts with my name on it while you were out?”

Luc gives Will a flat look. “You. Are. Crashing.”

Open bar! What are you both drinking (booze or otherwise)?

I’ll have the lemonade iced tea, on the rocks – with a bottle of sparkling fruit-flavored water for my fellow author, here.

“Hey, thanks!”

“Ale or root beer. Surprise me. Luc, do you drink? Or eat? Or anything?”

He doesn’t require it, no. Brew up the right pot of tea, though, and he’ll take it with two sugars, no cream, scalding enough to kill a man.

Wallflowers or social butterflies?

Hahahaha, parties terrify me. Won’t stop me trying to strike up loud conversations with everyone who looks remotely friendly, though!

“Good call. If we instigate the interactions, no one can sneak up on us before we’re ready.”

Luc prefers to just hover and watch. And your Will Scarlet has already flirted that half of the room to its knees.

“Of cour— WILL! Stop making out with the couch!”

“Would you let me schmooze, please? I’m trying to network; maybe pick up someone interested in coming onto my talk show! Also, the couch is a good kisser.”

“Gimme strength…”

What song(s) will you and your muse sing for karaoke?

After Will and Danielle are done with their Disney medley, Luc, whadda you wanna do? You think they’ll have the backtrack to the Phantom’s solo in “Love Never Dies”? I know it speaks to you, having lost your first beloved author and all.

“I am no performer of art,” he demurs. “But by all means enjoy yourself, Annabelle. Something from that boy band you wanted to marry in your preteens, perhaps.”

I didn’t want to marry the whole band. Just my should’ve-been soulmate.

What’s your favorite party game?

Anybody here know how to play Guesstures? Or, ooh, what’s that other one…?

“Catch Phrase?”

YES! Oh, and Mad Gab!

“And Spin the Bottle!”

Luc’s brow drifts upward. “Hoping to score with the couch again?”

Party Games

Which one of you is more likely to end up dancing on a table top?

*everyone points to Will Scarlet*

*…dancing on a table top*

Has your muse been a good date and would you ever hang out with them again?

Luc’s been a class act, same as always. Anytime he inspires me to take him out again is fine by me!

“Scarlet’s been Scarlet. We’re inseparable anyway. Thanks for putting up with us, Annabelle.”

Hey, characters will be characters, right?

Will Scarlet winks. “Always.”

Any other author ‘n’ muse/character pairings want to join the party? Hop in with the host, The Faux Fountain Pen!