Black and White and Red[Eye] All Over

About a month ago, those who check in with my author page on Facebook may have noticed the giddy announcement of my first-ever authorial newspaper interview.

FB Status Screenshot, RedEye Interview

I received a tip from a friend (what up, Stace!) that one Lauren Chval was looking for Chicagoland participants of Nation Novel Writing Month to chitchat with for a piece in the Chicago RedEye (a subset of its parent paper, the Tribune), and you betta believe I passed along word that I’d be interested.

Next thing you know, I’ve got an e-mail from Lauren, kicking off arrangements for us to meet up. (Cue the squeals of honor and delight!) As of this past Friday, the end result of our get-together – “30 Days and 30 Nights to Write” – is online for the world to see! (Article in print, still to come.)

So go check out my story, along with those of two other ChiTown Wrimos. And, y’know, feel free to share it with everyone you know. That’s what I’m doing. ;D

Heck yeah, the interview came with a legit photographer! Photo cred to Andrew A. Nelles
Heck yeah, the interview came with a legit photographer! Photo cred: Andrew A. Nelles

As Seen by Chelsea (SUN’S RIVAL Launch Week Finale)

Book Banner, Sun's Rival

Once upon a time, not many weeks ago, an author was having a chat with one of her staunchest fans and dearest friends, and broached a topic which had been on her mind for, oh, hours at least.

“So, heeey,” she said. “Y’know that one blog post I did, a while back, where I interviewed a reader about their feelings re: ‘Inspired’? I was thinking about doing that again. But for ‘Sun’s Rival’. And possibly with you. I don’t suppose you’d be interested?”

And that author… *solemn nods* …was me.

And that fan/friend was the inimitable Chelsea de la Cruz, who declared herself “UBER HONORED” to take part in such a venture.

And just like that, I had a grand finale post for “Sun’s Rival” Launch Week. ^.^

Chelsea’s lifelong passion for reading prepared her well for this day. “I can’t remember not being addicted to stories and the printed page,” she reveals. “I blame my parents and the bookcase in my bedroom they kept stuffed with books from the time I was a baby until I was old enough to do it myself. The worst punishment I remember receiving growing up was one time when my mom grounded me from reading, and took my books away. One time. I made sure it never happened again.”

Of her favorite genres, authors, and titles, she declares herself, “…a Fantasy and Science Fiction junkie! My favorite story of all time is The Lord of the Rings and its companion volumes. Some other top favorites include The Belgariad and The Malloreon by David Eddings, the Dune Saga by Frank and Brian (mostly Brian) Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, and just about ANYthing by Brandon Sanderson! I also have a great fondness for children’s stories. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, the Redwall Saga by Brian Jacques and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster are just a few of my favorites.”

For years, Chelsea’s top fairytale pick was M.M. Kaye’s The Ordinary Princess. “My mom read it to me and it was our special story,” she recalls fondly. “I consider it the perfect fairytale. I learned much from Princess Amy and Perry.” The Wilderhark Tales debut had a lot to live up to, especially as its author had little to fall back on in the way of friendly bias. “Danielle is a dear friend of mine now, but we were newer Facebook friends back then, through a mutual friend. When she posted the first announcements for The Swan Prince, I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP, and the rest is history! The characters, the setting, the sense of humor… What could keep me away? (*spoiler*: nothing, that’s what!)”

Chelsea’s superfandom over the course of the series has been a staggering joy to behold. Her reviews shine bright on Goodreads and Amazon, her Facebook timeline boasts photographic evidence of her Wilderhark-infested bookshelf, and, c’mon – she surprise-gifted me with custom clay figurines!

Chelsea and figures

To offer her an e-ARC of Book Five was my great pleasure – and, happily, hers as well. “Several [favorite quotes/moments from the series] come from The Sun’s Rival,” she gushes. “One quote that really resonated with me is Lumónd’s ‘Thank you for seeing me.’ I always felt like a wallflower (especially where guys were concerned; I was always ‘just a friend’)  in high school, and that first moment when you feel like someone really sees you as something special in and of yourself is deeply profound and kind of takes your breath away. My heart went out to Lumónd in that moment.”

Which isn’t to say Lumónd hadn’t already caught her inner eye. “Based purely on shallow physical appearance,” she said, when asked which of the Welken kings courting Laraspur’s hand she’d be likely to favor at first glance, “I’d have to say Lumónd. The whole dark, mysterious, edgy thing causes my head to spin and the rest of me to swoon. And I can’t resist a man wearing blue.” (A statement which incited starkly divergent reactions from minstrel in blue Gant-o’-the-Lute and outspokenly pro-red Will Scarlet.)

Chelsea’s Sun’s Rival praise continues, “I really enjoyed the highlighting of family and sibling relationships, both healthy and not healthy. It added depth to some characters I knew already and helped me get to know others better. Having two brothers, it made me laugh and think to see aspects of our relationship reflected in those of the characters.” Speaking of the story’s siblings, and looking forward to the series’ future volumes, she adds, “I’m definitely hoping to see more of the brother kings! … In fact, a spin-off Welken series would not go far amiss, in my opinion…”

While she was in an opinion-offering mood, I asked who she could see playing whom if The Wilderhark Tales were hypothetically adapted for the screen. Chelsea answered with enthusiasm. “Oooh! Head-casting is one of my favorite hobbies! I’ve actually put a lot of thought into this.”

Chelsea’s picks:

Sula = Jennifer Lawrence / Villem Deere = Jude Law

J-Law and J. Law: A match made in Wilderhark.
J-Law and J. Law: A match made in Wilderhark.

Sigmund = Skandar Keynes

…At my suggestion; we’ve agreed upon its perfection.
…At my suggestion; we’ve agreed upon its practical perfection.

Rosalba = Lily Collins / Edgwyn Wyle = Sean Astin

SAM!!! <3
SAM!!! ❤

Wilhelmina (at Edgwyn’s special request) = This horse

“Thank you,” Edgwyn says happily.
“Thank you,” Edgwyn says happily.

Gant-o’-the-Lute = Lee Pace

Someone hand this Elven king a lute.
Someone hand this Elven king a lute.

Viralei = Emmy Rossum

Most importantly, she can sing soprano!
Most importantly, she can sing soprano!

Benedeck = Sam Clafin / Emmelea = Lucy Griffiths

A chance for her to redeem herself after the [Maid] Marian debacle. <.<
A chance for her to redeem herself after the [Maid] Marian debacle. <.<
Laraspur = Eleanor Tomlinson / Ionquin Wyle = Logan Lerman

Based on the previous picks for their parents and grandparents, I can see the family resemblance. ^^
Based on the previous picks for their parents and grandparents, I can see the family resemblance. ^^

Raeóryn = Aaron Eckhart / Lumónd = Benedict Cumberbatch (“THIS PICTURE!!!” Chelsea specifically insists)

Dude, this film series gets Jennifer Lawrence, Lee Pace, AND Cumberbatch?! It’s a Christmas miracle!
Dude, this film series gets Jennifer Lawrence, Lee Pace, AND Cumberbatch?! It’s a Christmas miracle!

And on that note, it’s about time to call this Launch Week a wrap! Big thanks, of course, to Chelsea, and to the second batch of awesome bloggers who’ve hosted a stop on my tour: Laney McMann, Terri Rochenski, Tirzah Duncan, Mere Joyce, Rie Sheridan Rose, and Nicholas Boardman. (Also Mara Jacob and Tyler-Rose Counts ‘n’ Susan Francino, whose posts may or may not have gone live by this one has.) Rock on, you guys!

Everyone’s still got the rest of today to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, so if you haven’t yet, now’s the time! As for the winners of Giveaway #2, let’s have a round of congratulatory cheers for:

Kim Matura!

Chelsea de la Cruz!

Rewan Tremethick!

Abrea Hensley!

You guys have won a signed “Sun’s Rival” bookmark set, and your choice of one of the four Wilderhark Tales “READ” postcards seen here! (Let me know which one you want!) And the winner of all four postcards, the bookmarks, plus a print of the “Sun’s Rival” storyboard art featured here is…

Aisazia!

Way to go, y’all! And gratitude-a-go-go to everyone who has in any way shown their support for my latest Wilderhark Tale.

I see you.

Sun's Rival Launch Week Tour, Novella

Sun's Rival Launch Week Tour, Availability

AmazonCreateSpace / KindleNook

The [Nut]case of the Nader Sequel

Burdin of Choice Banner

When I agreed to let Will Scarlet interview author Alexander Nader as part of the blog tour for his novel debut at the start of this year, I had no idea Will would take this to mean that all Beasts of Burdin-related interviews are now his turf. Guess I’m naïve, like that. So, here we are, with the Burdin sequel on tour. Cue the sketchy saxophone music.

<<<>>>

“Alex Nader. We meet again.” Out of the murky gray of a shady back alley steps the trench-coated, red-fedora-ed figured of Will Scarlet, faux private eye. His smile flashes white in the shadows. “I hear you’ve been busy, but you know me. Rumor and hearsay’s not good enough; I like my answers direct from the source.” He gestures through the door behind him. “Care to come in and answer a few questions?”

Alex*Shakes nervously* I, uh, suppose so, but does that light have to be so bright? I’m sweating over here.

“Oh, sure. Hang on a sec.” Will bends down to fiddle with a mess of cables and gives the fog machine inside the doorway a thump, toning the atmosphere down a few degrees. “There we are,” he says, circling his desk to drop into his chair. “Make yourself comfortable. Now then: Word on the street is Ty Burdin is back. …Well, I say ‘on the street’,” he says, withdrawing a Burdin of Choice paperback from his coat’s inner pocket. “More like ‘in the blurb’. Can you confirm this? Is the hunt for demons back on?”

Alex: It’s true, it’s all true. There’s always a few demons that could use a little off the top. And by little, I mean a lot. And by a lot, I mean their head. It’s a decapitation joke, because, you know, it kills everything and all that. *Laughs nervously, drums fingers on desk*

Will grins and gun-finger salutes. “I see what you did there. Glad to hear Burdin’s trilogy is carrying on apace! My source in the field” – this said with a wink for Danielle who, as ever, is on hand to do the note-taking – “tells me that writing a Book Two can be a whole different animal, compared to writing Book One. What was your experience, as far as Beasts vs. Choice? Which posed the greater challenge?”

Alex: Choice was definitely the bigger challenge because I had expectations to live up to. When I wrote Beasts I had never been published and had nothing to lose. With Choice I have a few fans and people I didn’t want to let down, so that caked on the pressure. Luckily Ty let me borrow some scotch and it really smoothed out the ol’ nerves.

Will’s brows rise. “Generous of Ty, considering he keeps his friends close and his liquor closer. But then, every street-smart character knows that what’s good for the author is good for us all. Speaking of characters, while nosing around Goodreads, I uncovered a review of the book naming Burdin’s secretary Nora as a favorite, using such descriptive terms as ‘absolutely gorgeous’ and ‘nutty as a fruitcake’.” Will coughs a laugh. “I’ve been called both on multiple occasions. From where you stand as author, does it look like Nora’s got the makings of the trilogy’s breakout star, a la that brilliant scarlet swordsman of ‘Outlaws of Avalon ’?”

Alex: Nora is definitely a big part of the series. When I started writing the first book, she didn’t play a very big role, but my first readers loved her so much I decided to step her role up in the series. She’s a lot of fun to write and super important in Ty’s life. He’s a bit of a screw-up and needs people like Nora and Hartnet *clears throat, nudges Danielle* to keep him grounded.

Danielle: Hi-i-i, Hartnet!

“Keep it together, Danielle. I’m on a case. Now,” Will says, turning back to his interviewee, “I don’t wish to alarm you, but I caught some punk on the corner sporting some suspicious swag.” His hand in and out of his coat’s pocket once more, Will extracts a number of photos zoomed in on a colorful flask, a compact mirror depicting a lounging tattooed female, and a beer mug reading St. Sebastian’s Bar & Grill. “Says he got the merch from your e-store. Is he legit?”

Alex: Yup, it’s true. Anyone can go to zazzle.com/Nader_Swag and pick up some awesome Burdin merch. I’ve seen pictures of one of those compact mirrors out in the wild already.

Will’s face lights up. “I was hoping you’d say that. Oy, Danielle! Can we get a poster?”

Danielle: When I’m less broke.

“Sweet! All right, I think I’ve got all I need from the horse’s mouth. Thanks for taking the time to set the record straight. Be seeing you, Nader. And watch out for demons!”

Alex: Hahahaa, I fooled you. I made it almost an entire interview sounding like a real person. You will never know my secret, Scarlet. NEVER! *Slaps interrogation light, runs out front door wearing only boxers and a t-shirt that says, ‘Demons are all in your head’*

Will blinks. Several times.

Danielle: What… just… happened?

“Honestly,” says Will, sweeping his pile of evidence into a desk drawer, “pretty much just business as usual, around here.”

<<<>>>

 

BurdinOfChoice_web

Title: Burdin of Choice (Beasts of Burdin #2)

Author: Alexander Nader

Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing

Release Date: November 10, 2014

Keywords: Urban Fantasy

About the Book: 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?

Alex Nader

About the Author:

Alex lives in the tourist infested hills of east Tennessee with his amazing wife/muse and three superb children. He would tell you more about how awesome they are, but you probably wouldn’t believe him. When he’s not hanging out with them he’s making pizzas and occasionally he jots a few words down. He’s a big fan of good music, good storytelling, and fun, lots of fun.

He once wrote a short story about pirates to his wife via text message that blossomed into a full length novel and never stopped after that.

Goodreads  /  Twitter / Facebook  /  Website  /  Blog

“Burdin of Choice” is newly available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This-a-way to add “Burdin of Choice” on Goodreads, and that-a-way to enter the tour-wide Rafflecopter giveaway.

The Valkyrie Has Landed (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, “Cara Nolan, creation of author Roselyn Hendrickson, describes herself thus:

Undercover reporter and superhero with an unfortunate love of hot chocolate. Also living on the run, avoiding the super-human Registry and my past. Oh, and did I forget to mention I have a giant pair of wings on my back?

“Welcome, Cara!” Will greets the young lady now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – where in the worlds did you get those wings, and do they come in my size?”

Cara’s smile slides off her face. “Uh…” (Behind the curtain, Roselyn face-palms, muttering under her breath, “Of all the questions to start with, Scarlet!”) She clears her throat and shifts uncomfortably. “I, uh, actually, got my wings in an illegal experiment. Because the scientists in charge were trying to get back at my dad. And, uh, the data was all lost after the Registry shut the labs down, so, it’s just the one size. Sorry.”

Will waves it off. “Oh, probably for the best. Wouldn’t want everyone showing up to the party wearing the same wings, would we? So not done. This Registry, though – what’s that all about?”

“Ah, right, the Registry.” Her wings rustle as she leans forward a little. “Well, supers started showing up a little over twenty years ago. Y’know, people with super-strength, flight, invisibility… at first everyone was really excited, but… well, some of them turned to crime. That’s how my mother died,” she adds, fingering the gold cross necklace around her throat. “A couple state governments decided they needed to start keeping tabs on people with super abilities, and eventually the Feds just made it standard across the board. It was a good idea, for a little while, but…” She shrugs. “Well, everything corrupts with enough time. Now they’re not content with just keeping tabs. They’ve started hunting us.”

“#Government,” Will says, nodding. “’Nough said, kid; you’re talking to a Merry Man. Come to think of it, you might have quite a bit in common with our band, what with your undercover reporting on the run, and all. Lord, I hope that’s as cool as it sounds. What’s a typical day like for you?”

“A typical day…” She tilts her head, thinking. “Well, one of the bonuses of not having other obligations is that I usually get to sleep in, unless I have to get an early interview. I tend to have a couple granola bars stashed away for breakfast, then I’ll either find a newspaper and see if there are any super stories to follow up on, or I’ll work on an article. Around evening I’ll start working on more super-heroey things. Crime fighting doesn’t work so well,” she gestures to her wings, “but rescue work is my specialty. If things are quiet, I might drop by Franklin’s place (he’s my publishing partner) and give him one of my finished articles to send out.”

“Good stuff! Now, you mentioned when contacting me that you go by a few different aliases – Cara Nolan, Attica Wood, Valkyrie… How did you come by this collection of names? Did you choose them yourself, or were they given to you? And of them all, which is your favorite and why?”

“Well, obviously Cara is my given name, so it probably doesn’t need too much explanation. Attica Wood is my pen name. The Registry isn’t exactly happy about the articles I’m publishing, I figured why make it easy? Valkyrie, on the other hand…” She grimaces. “Eh, that was a reporter. Most super names come from reporters, actually. It’s not like we can chase supers around with a pen and paper shouting to know what they want to be called. I almost wish they had, though,” she adds grumpily. “I mean, of all the oh-so-creative names…” She shakes her head. “Anyway, my favorite? My real name, of course. Attica is one part of me, Valkyrie is another, but neither of them are really complete. They’re just masks.”

“Duly noted, Cara. Of course, it won’t take your ace-reporting Attica side to dig up my last question for you. Tell me, what is your author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” His eyebrow arches in invitation. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

She gives a mischievous smile and stands, crosses the space between them, and kisses his cheek. “Did that answer that?”

Will grins enormously. “I think I can read between the lines. On that ringing high note, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Roselyn Hendrickson’s work in progress, ‘Flight of the Valkyrie’.

Attica Wood is an undercover reporter trying to bring to light the horrifying secrets of the super-human Registry. Valkyrie is a super with wings obtained in a vindictive experiment. Cara Nolan, the lost daughter of the late Registry agent, Rodney Nolan, is both. Haunted by her heritage and hunted by the Registry, Cara fights to ensure the safety of her kind and her friends… before she’s silenced for good.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “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!”

Whodunit and Y-U-M (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, “Winnie Kepler, creation of author D.J. Lutz, describes herself thus:

I’m a 23-year-old female born and raised in Washington DC, recent college graduate (degree in business marketing and sociology!) currently employed in my grandmother’s diner located in a town so small there aren’t any stoplights until you get out to the highway. I may or may not have a boyfriend, a rookie police officer named Parker. It’s really up to him, I guess, but if I keep pushing him I think he will see things my way. He’s a good looking guy, just kinda oblivious at times. D.J. might be described the same way.

When I’m not baking cookies or slinging coffee at The Cat & Fiddle Café, I keep finding myself solving murders. For a small town, Seaview, Virginia has more than its fair share of people dropping dead. Probably not good for tourism.

Anyhow, Parker does what he can, but the police department always seems to need some extra help. That’s where I come in.

“Welcome, Winnie!” Will greets the young woman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – this sorta-kinda-boyfriend of yours: He’s not better-looking than me, right? Like, scale of 1 to10, where would you place him? And what do you suppose it’ll take to get him to realize that you two are a thing?”

“Can any man be better looking than Will Scarlet?”

Will’s flushed smile says, “Well, not easily, no.

“And you have the pseudo-bad boy outlaw thing going for you – a deadly combination, if you ask me. But, Parker has the guy-in-uniform thing going for him, plus he’s probably an 8 out of 10. Which is good since I think guys who are 10s know they are 10s and as such become unbelievably dorky, obsessive, and narcissistic. Frankly, I have enough drama in my life.”

A delicate cough off-camera sends Will whirling around in his chair. “Nobody asked your opinion on my obsessively dorky narcissism, Allyn!” He turns back to Winnie. “Pardon. You were saying about your 8 of a man…?”

“Parker is the best my small town has to offer, and he treats me well. Intimidated by me is the same thing, right? Anyway, he knows we are an item; he just needs a little help with how he is supposed to act around me. I like to be in charge, but there are, ahem, times I want him to be ‘the man’. Do I have to tell him I like flowers and chocolates? And sometimes a bad guy just needs a punch in the nose. I mean, really, I can’t be expected to do everything around here. Did I mention he has nice eyes? And I purposely washed his uniform shirt in hot water so it would shrink a little bit. Got muscles, might as well show them off, right? Oops, TMI?”

Will grins. “No such thing as TMI, ‘round here. Now, I hear your book, the first in a planned trilogy, is called ‘The Apple Pie Alibi’. Lord, that title’s got me drooling. And you say you bake cookies. Just how big a role do desserts play in your life story, and is it too much to hope that you’ve brought a sampling of sweets with you today?”

“Dessert first, I say! Yes, this first book involves my grandma entering a cooking contest much akin to Food Network’s Chopped series. So D.J. put all of the recipes from those competitors, plus a few from the Cat & Fiddle Café, at the end of the book. Except for one competitor’s idea to have Mexican flan shot from a small hose attached to a miniature train, the desserts are awesome! It gets worse, I mean better, with the second book D.J. is outlining as we speak – The Milk Chocolate Murders. After the trilogy maybe he should write a diet book?”

“If the diet book’s titled ‘Dessert First’, I’m sold!”

“Oh, and I brought some cinnamon-apple crisp cookies, but I gave them to Allyn-a-Dale. Didn’t he mention it?”

Will whips back around. “ALLYN.”

“No one wants to watch you give an interview with your mouth full,” Allyn tosses back.

“Grr, fine. But I’d better not see any crumbs on your pretty face before the end of this. So, Winnie – as far as I know, most diners don’t require their employees to have much of a business marketing and sociology education. What sort of career plans did you have in mind when you went for your degree, and how did you end up in your position at your grandma’s diner, The Cat & Fiddle Café?”

“My parents are private investigators in Washington DC. I grew up watching them work all hours of the day and night, on call every day and all day. I just wanted a nice little office in a nice little (or big) office building. A place I could walk in from the elevator, say hi to Marge the receptionist and then pick up a cup of coffee on my way to my desk. I’d crunch some numbers, design a new product, check sales, all that office sort of thing. Then go home for the day, hit the gym and maybe plan my next vacation. BUT – apparently getting a job is not as easy as I had thought it would be. My dad said something about a wake-up call? Well, long story short, I ran out of cash so my only options were to move back home (yikes) or move in with my grandmother (double yikes!). It helped, though, that she lives above the diner she owns and operates. Free room and board in exchange for keeping the farmers in fresh coffee and ham biscuits while I search for a job. Pssst – don’t tell my parents, but I kinda like it here.”

“Lord help me, this interview’s got me famished. Let’s change the subject. The amateur detective thing. That’s awesome. I would love to get into that, if only I had any real observational skills to speak of. How do you go about solving murders?”

“Well, there’s the usual way: who has the motive and opportunity? The trick is that some people work really hard to hide the motive. So when dealing with a crime – and in little Seaview, Virginia, it always seems to be murder for some strange reason – I don’t trust anyone to be telling me the truth at first. Then it’s all about making the connections. Who is in cahoots with the mailman? Is the mayor really the father of three kids by the wife of the judge? And sometimes you just have to bluff. My dad calls it the ‘poke and hope’ method. You poke a hole in their story and hope the truth comes out.”

“Nice! Of course, my last question for you is no mystery. Tell me, what is your author D.J.’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He wiggles his brows. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I’d go for the kiss, but what if my grandma read this? She’d call me a two-timing hussy and throw me out on the street. Okay, maybe not, but why take chances? So that leaves us with one of D.J.’s deep, dark secrets. Hmmm. There was the time he…dang, here he comes. I’ll talk later about how he passed sixth grade algebra class by writing Monty Python skits the teacher enjoyed. Nice chatting. Gotta run!”

“Great talking to you, Winnie!” Will calls after her. “Now, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor? …And those cookies, dammit?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, passing the cookies along to the hangry host, “was brought to you by D.J. Lutz’s ‘The Apple Pie Alibi’. Quoth one Winnie Kepler:

D.J. has sent off his manuscript to several agents, many of whom wish him the best in his endeavors. Always the optimist, he takes those replies as a good sign. If one of the agents actually does take him on for representation, I hope I am the first to know. In the meantime, I have seen D.J. plotting the second novel in the trilogy in hopes of publishing both next summer through Penguin’s Book Country online writer’s community.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will pauses inhaling cookies to say. “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!”

I’d Tell You, But I’d Have to Kiss You (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 reads the introduction, as provided by author Tirzah Duncan:

Thirteen-year-old Wren has been a servant in the secret assassins’ guild headquarters ever since she can remember. If you can keep away from the boss’s fingers, it’s not bad work—and the assassins might even teach you a few of their tricks over the years.

But when the old boss gets knocked off (you know how it is in an assassins’ guild), the exquisitely handsome man who takes his place is… you know, exquisitely handsome, and Wren will do everything in her power to come to his notice as his most helpful, most loyal, most above-and-beyond servant.

It’s all small errands and daydreams until she stumbles onto the new boss’s most perplexing secret habit.

“Welcome, Wren!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – this new boss of yours: Is he more exquisitely handsome than me? Be honest; I’ve got thick skin. Thick, radiant, reasonably blemish-free skin.”

Wren shrugs one shoulder. “Well. His skin may be far more scarred up than yours, but that’s a plus in my eyes. You’re very pretty, sir, but not my type. Skin and voice and feature, I prefer my men rugged.” She pulls a face. “I say that like I have any man at all.”

“Rugged, hmm?” The corner of Will’s mouth tugs down to a dissatisfied angle. “I expect you’d prefer my cousin Robin to me, then. Meh, well, you wouldn’t be the first. So,” he says, rallying his good spirits, “how’d you get your foot in the door with an assassins’ guild, anyway? One of those ‘not what you know, but who you know’ deals, or…?”

“Mum was with them until a plague took her. I was almost old enough to be of help, so a couple of her friends put up with me until I could. I don’t know how she got the job.”

“Pity about your mother; my long-belated condolences. But hey, focusing on the potential positive…” Will’s brows jump upward. “Have they let you assassinate anyone yet?”

The girl’s eyes widen. “Chance’s Dice, no! I serve assassins, I’m not one myself.”

“Oh, fine; less chance of me getting knifed or poison-darted during the interview, that way. Now, say you were to make a career move. What do you suppose you’d like to do? Got any particular aptitudes you could capitalize on, or dreams you wish to fulfill?”

“Truly? I’d not thought on it. But, well, I do know bits and pieces of this thing and that. I might make a good… I’m not half sure what. Pickpocket, liar, thief, code reader, knife fighter, and so on. I was just interested in learning what they were interested in teaching.” She looks contemplative. “If I ever want to move up, though, I’d only need to improve at what I already know, and I reckon I could be an assassin, or something near it. I’d not thought on it.”

“Well, you’re young yet,” Will says cheerfully. “Time enough to decide what you want to do with your life – especially if you decide to go the ‘truly great legend’ route and live forever, like some of us do. On a maybe, maybe-not related note: About this ‘perplexing secret habit’ of your employer’s. Can you give us a hint about what that secret might be? Or, y’know, just blatantly blab the whole thing?”

She looks offended. “And if I did my job as badly as all that, I’d be long dead by now, Master Scarlet! Only reason I’m telling you any of this is because you’re in a whole different world. But if it’s the boss’s secret, it’s his to tell or keep to himself as it pleases him.”

Will shrugs in good-natured defeat. “Oh, well. Can’t blame me for trying. Speaking of secrets, though, I’ve made no secret about what’s coming next. Tell me, what is your author Tirzah’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He grins. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Wren’s cheeks go a shade scarlet, and she squirms back in her seat. “I told you, you’re not my type. And Tirzah’s not my boss, nor an assassin—” (“That’s what YOU think!” Tirzah yells from the background) “—nor any other part of my guild,” Wren continues, “so I guess I can tell the world what she’d not like it to be knowing.”

“Ohhh, goody.” Will rubs his hands together in anticipation. “Go on, tell all!”

She searches her author’s brain for a moment. “Well, seeing as you all know my crush, you may as well know one of hers. D’you know Mycroft Holmes, as played by Mark Gatiss? Old, funny-looking, always carries an umbrella? Well, she doesn’t half fancy him.” Wren snickers, finding her author’s taste hilariously bizarre.

“I like him for his personality,” Tirzah defends from the background.

“He has the personality of a block of ice,” Wren retorts.

“A block of hilariously snide, very powerful ice,” Tirzah mutters from the background.

“Well defended, Tirzah,” Will chuckles, then leans forward to shake his guest’s hand. “Thank you, Wren, for that revealing end to a charming interview. Give your regards to your boss for me, eh? On the off-chance he ever wants to take a turn in the hot seat, he has only to ask. Now, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Tirzah Duncan’s ‘Cry of the Nightbird’.

Nightbird cover, final

Look—it’s a shadow, creeping on the wall.

Look—it’s a nightbird, feathered, black, and tall.

Look—o’er your shoulder; think ye twice,

Look—out, ye wicked rats, pray he finds ye nice.

Risen suddenly to lordship of the fiefdom of Cavernad, young Ferlund struggles to fill the shoes —and carry on the marriage engagement— of his late father. Doubly sorrowed by the old lord’s death and his duty to part ways with his common lover, Ferlund also seeks to pursue his suspicion that his father’s death was no accident…

Elsewhere in this fantasy-tinged novella, another man is recently risen to power. Joreth, formerly an assassin by trade, is newly the master of the assassin’s guild responsible for the elder Lord Cavernad’s demise. Wren, a servant girl deeply enamored of her new boss, seeks to gain his favor, and happens upon his strangest secret.

A lone vigilante stalks this landscape of cloak and dagger, sense and madness, and grudge and ardor old and new; the preying Nightbird stands in judgement of injustice masked by night or noble station. In this tangle of stale bitterness and fresh affection, who will stand justified, and who will fall condemned? And will the cry of the Nightbird sound loud enough to go down as more than a washerwoman’s four-line ditty?

“That’s ‘Cry of the Nightbird’,” Allyn concludes, “currently available in e-format via Amazon.”

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “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!”

Scarlet’s Kiss and Tell

Ho, Ever On Word readers! Will Scarlet, here. And normally, this would be the part of the week where I’d say, “Welcome, one and all, to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre, yadda, etc., and so on.

But not today.

Now, don’t you panic, you, like, three diehard fans of the feature. (Love you guys, by the way. Rock stars, all of you. Don’t ever change.) I’m not calling it quits on the Saturday skits, and the “Jack and the Genre-nauts” series will resume next week. But if you know me, you know I like to mix things up and try new stuff and generally go as crazy on Danielle’s blog as she’ll let me get away with. (Which is a lot, since I’m totally her favorite. …sorta tied with Edgwyn, but whatever.) So starting soon, there’s going to be a new blog feature here every second Saturday. ‘Cause I don’t just want to run a theatre. I want a talk show!

Here’s the deal: I love meeting new people. It is my absolute favorite thing – along with swordplay and snacks and the entertaining time-sucks of the Internet. Danielle, of course, can only write so many new kids for me to play with. Fortunately, she is so not the only author your world has to offer.

HEY, CHARACTERS! Yes, you – the fictional ones! Can you hear me, out there? I want to talk to you! I want to drag you into my spotlight and show you off to everyone within my online reach! So here’s what you gotta do. You listening? Good. You tell your authors to hit up Danielle’s contact page and give her the following information:

Your name [e.g., Will Scarlet]

Brief character description [e.g., the manic dreamboat of Robin Hood’s Merry Men; friendly, funny, a skilled stage combatant; and did I mention he’s gorgeous, ‘cause wow; also, not full of himself at all; currently craving cookies]

Brief summary of character’s story/book [e.g., um, insert clever blurb here. Danielle’s drafted a few for Book One of the trilogy, but she’s not altogether sure of the worth of any of them, so… Sherwood meets Camelot meets modern-day Renaissance Faire. Plot ensues. It’s epic]

Book’s availability, if applicable [e.g., The Outlaws of Avalon, coming sometime after Danielle wraps up The Wilderhark Tales; stay tuned]

Once we’ve received your preliminary stats, I’ll send you a few interview questions, you’ll answer them, and then Danielle will schedule a Saturday in between Interactive Theatre skits to post our little chat to the blog!

Oh, and one more thing. At the very end of our interview, you’ll have a “Truth or Dare”-esque choice before you: You’ve either got to tell me your author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret, or kiss me. Treat that as punishment or positive incentive as you will. ;D

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.
Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

Sounds totally fun, right? A bit of free publicity for you and your author, a little something to help keep me from going stir-crazy over here… Winning all around! So what are you waiting for? It’s first come, first serve! Unless your author wants to try to coordinate the post with some bookish release or event they’re doing, in which case, work it out with Danielle; she tries to be obliging. Now start clamoring to be a part of this, or it will seriously break my heart. (I do this for YOU, people! …And for me, but for YOU!)

‘Til next time, friends: Scarlet out!