Time May [Kiss &] Tell

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo“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.”

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and… Nothing.

“Will!” Allyn whisper-shouts. “That was your cue.”

“Wait, what?!” Will’s voice calls from who-knows-where. “The show’s live now?? But it’s Monday! Danielle never announced a blogging schedule switch!”

“As our band leader may have told you, Danielle has been rather busy turning her entire life upside-down,” Allyn points out. “The old schedule’s right out the window. I expect it’ll be like her days in Germany all over again – blog posts if and when she feels like it, no more predictable than that.”

“Fine, fine. Just lemme grab my other boot. Catch a fellow while he’s in the shower, why don’t you…”

Moments later, Will Scarlet himself hastens – smiling, waving, and briefly maneuvering on one foot – onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Sorry about that hiccup, coming out the gate. 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, “Wikipedia has made brief mention of her thus:

In many works outside the Lancelot-Grail inspired tradition[,] Gawain has sisters. They include […] Clarissant in Chrétien’s Cligés […] An important episode [in Perceval, the Story of the Grail] is Gawain’s liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him. This tale also breaks off unfinished.

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Clarissant aesthetic, found via Tumblr.

“Welcome, Clarissant!” Will greets the noblewoman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why have I actually never heard of you until halfway through the drafting of #CamelotWIP? Like, what the high hell, you don’t even show up in our author’s brainstorming notes!”

Clarissant’s mild blink is a peeved cousin of her celebrated brother’s. “To the first, I can only suppose that legend did not find me enough of a villainess to be of concentrated importance to Uncle Arthur’s narrative. Damsels are quested for and forgotten. Girl-siblings, unworthy of mention, unless they provide a nephew of note.” A semi-smile touches her lips. “Only the wicked and the witches leave their mark. Danielle might never have come across my name, were it not for some muse-born conviction that her Gawain had a sister, lost to time. Why she doesn’t seem to have bothered to plan my story arc on paper before working it into her novel, I cannot say. Perhaps she worked out enough of her plans verbally, with Tirzah, that she felt confident she had things sufficiently ordered in her head.”

“What is your arc in the novel? Or, at any rate, what can you tell us of it without mega-spoilers?”

“My part in the tale begins where the first Camelot ends,” says she, tidying any runaway wisps in her thick brown braid. “Its civil war finished and the Round Table decimated, I’m placed in the sideline role oft allotted to women: Alive and alone, left to pick up the pieces. I could have chosen to remain where I was. Instead, I looked to the Fey and seized upon a quest for the future Camelot.”

“Audacity!” Will approves.

“Desperation,” Clarissant corrects. “When you feel you’ve already lost everything, what’s to fear of further risk?”

“That… sounds like a mood I know.”

She studies the sorrow at his smile’s edges. “Yes, I believe we do have that in common, however differently we channel it.”

“Not so very differently, in essentials,” Will maintains. “It’s not as if either of our paths could be called sane.”

“Or called separate,” Clarissant notes. “Indeed, my path intersected with yours in a most astonishing way.”

“And with Allyn’s!”

“Of course with Allyn’s. His powers of protagonism are nothing short of cosmic.”

“Because he is a Chosen One,” says Will. “Whereas you, lady of Orkney, are one who chose.”

“Lady of Listeneise,” says Clarissant, a pleased shade of pink rising in her plump cheeks at Will’s words. “I have been wed and widowed, you know.”

“Belated congrats and condolences. So, now that Danielle’s given you a space in her Camelot legend, what would you most like to be remembered for?”

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Also, it seems she has lately inspired a stage play! One review found here.

“Part of me would say my destination,” Clarissant says thoughtfully. “Another part would say my journey. Each is its own kind of important, in a tale. Above all, I think I would like to be remembered as my own knight. My own champion and hero, lacking only the title and shiny trappings that would have been mine as they were my brothers’, had I been born a boy. I’d have been one of the Round Table’s best, I don’t doubt.”

“And which side would you have fought for, at Camlann?”

An indelicate snort. “For Arthur’s, naturally. And would have talked my more foolish brothers ‘round into doing the same.”

“Sounds like the right choice, to me! And while we’re on the subject of choices: Tell me, Clarissant, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A smile of epic proportions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, I hardly think our author has much time for secrets, these days. You and I may as well share a kiss.”

Thus saying, Clarissant leans forward to set a kiss each to the smile lines bracketing Will’s mouth. Aforesaid lines crease into their customary position as Will calls out, “Ho, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Once and Future Camelot’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now in paperback (here) and e-book (here and here)

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Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Clarissant! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll talk to Danielle about getting them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Once and Future Favorites

As of last week, the Artist Artwork Formerly Known as #CamelotWIP is out in the world. In celebration, I’d like to take a moment to carry on with what I’ve been doing since, like, 2016: Gush about my utter infatuation with this book.

Seriously, I’m not remembering if any other writing project of mine has made a hostage of my imagination like this. Not to play favorites but… no, actually, yeah, that’s exactly what we’re playing. Behold, a few (dozen) of my favorite things about “The Once and Future Camelot”!

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~ Favorite Character ~

Why would I even ask myself this when there’s no way I can answer it? I went into drafting this book with a spiked interest in some of the characters and their complicated plot, but it wasn’t until I was neck-deep in the ruins of Camelot that I realized I was falling in love with everyone around me.

With Gawain for his strange serenity; with Lancelot for his rough-edged passion; with Mordred for his secret heart; with Arthur for his impossible love. My spirit tangled with the rich emptiness of Morganne’s. My blood burned in tandem with Bedivere’s. My— well, let’s not go so far as to say ‘love’ is what I feel for Merlin; my inner Will Scarlet’s got too much to process for that.

Anyway, I honestly cannot point to any single character as my certain favorite. Just follow the pain, and you’ll find my heart there.

~ Favorite Relationships ~

(Just went ahead and used the plural, so I can point to more than one. ^o^)

– Galahad x Mordred, because y’all already know I’m here all day for a big ol’ bromance.

– Arthur x Robin Hood; see reasoning above.

– Gawain x Guinevere, because it’s so low-key and tangential yet grounding for both of them to have each other. I think they mutually see one another (in the “Sun’s Rival” sense) better than any other pairing in the story, and something in me takes a relieved sort of comfort in that.

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Favorites to Play the Cast of #CamelotWIP, as seen on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr

~ Favorite Chapter ~

Book 1, Chapter XV. The one I spent all the chapters that came before it absolutely itching to write. The one that could arguably stand as a satisfying short story all on its own. The one that’s been sending delicious thrills through my bones at the very thought of it for three years and counting. That chapter.

~ Favorite Scenes/Moments ~

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In no particular order…

– The birth of Excalibur

– Knight vs. Hell-beast

– Wizard vs. Lady of the Lake

– Mordred in the rain

– Orkneys in the stable

– “A moment to confer”

– Spring Break Faeries

– Prayer room rebellion

– Arthur x Lancelot, shortly after Now

– Two willing tools of enemies

– Two dragons on the roof

– Two roads diverged in a legend, and he… he chose the harder treachery… and that has me over here bawling.

~ Favorite Narrative Voice ~

I originally thought I could write an entire novel from Morganne’s point of view. I would come to learn that this would not be a viable option. The thing about Morganne is – as once I put it in a Twitter post – she’s basically got ‘magical depression.’ She’s incapable of generating her own emotions, making her POV a necessarily dispassionate experience. It’s a fascinating space to put myself in for the odd chapter here and there, but for a whole book? Exhausting just to contemplate.

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For a minute later on, I thought I could tell the book’s second half in Bedivere’s voice. Again, that turned out to be a no, but for opposite reasons. Bedivere’s got feelings and opinions about everything, and if he chooses to talk about it at all, it’ll be in the most smart-alecky way possible. While this can be fun, and makes for hilarious irreverent monologue/dialogue, he couldn’t give all the other characters’ inner lives justice if he tried (which he probably wouldn’t).

All that having been said, those two were still probably my favorite first-person voices to use in this predominantly third-person novel.

Once and Future Mixtape
~ Favorite Songs I Associate with #CamelotWIP~ (as shared on its page on my website)

~ Favorite Quotes ~

Not by any means a comprehensive list, but some of the standouts include…

– The room was thick with breath arrested.

– “Up, Galahad, son of Lancelot du Lac, Champion of the King, and so forth.”

– It was the Age of Chivalry. Unrequited love was the new black.

– Then up goes his head, no matter how heavy. Up goes a smile, no matter how sad.

– “Amendment,” I allow. “I apologize for the villainy.”

– My formative years were all prayers, rites, and living in hope that movable type would someday replace copying the Holy Book by hand.

The cost of immortality? A silent chuckle. Immortality.

– “The sun favors those brave of face.”

– Feeling I must tell you, choosing to say nothing: My kindest, cruelest way of holding power over you…

– Mordred’s lashes, doom of adoring maidens…

– “What else?” said Robin Hood. “Call our congressmen.”

“I would know him,” I point out, and you shoot me a glare of irritation.

“Of course you would. And were it practical to wave you about like a divining wand over every man I met, so would I. But you are not a /tool/, Morganne.”

My lips play the part of a smile. “Meaning I am not biddable.”

You nod your hair into your eyes, shove it back again. “Meaning I need something that is.”

Camelot Tweet, BedivereIsOnFire

<<<>>>

Have you started reading “The Once and Future Camelot” yet? If yes, what are your favorite parts or aspects of the book, so far? If no, but you think you might get around to checking it out eventually, what are you most looking forward to? (Or, hey, did you perchance have a favorite part of this blog post?) Gush along in the comments!

The [Once and] Future is NOW!

After months of hype, #CamelotWIP is a work-in-progress no longer. That’s right: “The Once and Future Camelot” is now published!

And when I say “months of hype”, I basically mean… well, I’ve talked about it a lot on Twitter. Had a number of tie-in blog posts. Tha-a-a-at’s about it.

Was a time I’d have organized a giveaway, reached out to a legion of advance reviewers, maybe tried to put together a blog tour. But that was the ‘Once’ Deshipley. The ‘Future’ Deshipley has had neither the time nor the energy for that level of hoopla.

I’ll tell you what I do have, though: A truly great imagination that never dies. And with it, I invite you to join me in pretending that this epic novel got the promotional campaign it deserves. Heck, if we’re dreaming, let’s go all out and pretend this epic novel got a blockbusting theatrical trailer! I’ll even provide the script, complete with dialogue and imagery lifted straight from the actual book. ^_^

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[A knight and a lady engage in passionate goings-on. Murmurs of “Oh, Lance…” and “My queen…” and such in between kisses. Romantic music swells. Candlelight brightens and blurs the scene.]

Sir Bedivere voice-over: “I’ll give ‘em this.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere on a modern family room couch, munching on nachos.]

Bedivere cont.: “That was a lot more tastefully done than a number of comparable scenes we’ve viewed.”

[In the light of the television, Sir Lancelot glowers.]

King Arthur, warningly: “Bedivere.”

Bedivere: “I’m just looking for silver linings, my liege. Related point: The guy they cast to play you. Very pretty.”

[Cut to another dimly lit castle setting and a teen boy (Mordred).]

Mordred: “I believe that statement was technically treason.”

[Quietly epic music]

[Onscreen writing: EVERYONE KNOWS THE STORY.]

Elaine voice-over: “Arthur Pendragon is the chosen King… Chosen not only of the Sword, but of Heaven. And to serve him is to know Heaven on Earth.”

[Montage of a young Galahad taking in his first awesome sight of Camelot… overhead shot of the famed Round Table… Guinevere being presented to Arthur for marriage… knights bowing, banners flying, Excalibur gleaming, yadda-yadda…]

[Onscreen writing: NOBODY KNOWS THE TRUTH.]

Future Lancelot, at Merlin’s computer desk: “Tell me what happened.”

[Cut to Past Lancelot, on trial before the Round Table.]

Future Lance cont., voice-over: “Tell me it wasn’t like that.”

[Montage of basically everybody, Past and Future, looking various shades of miserable, angry, distressed…]

Merlin voice-over: “We cannot move forward until we’ve put what’s behind us to rest. …And I am not the one to remind you.”

[Restless music]

Morganne le Fey, as seen through a scrying bowl: “Merlin… What has caused you fear?”

[Cut to Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, rising like a beautiful menace from her mist-veiled waters.]

Merlin voice-over, ominous: “She’s coming.”

Morganne voice-over: “She could not do it alone.”

[Montage of the Black Knight fighting… Lancelot scowling at who-knows-what… a horned Faerie boy vanishing with a grin into a puff of purple smoke…]

[Onscreen writing: HOW DID THEY FALL?]

Past Lancelot: “I’m… sorry.”

Galahad, flinching away in fury: “Sorry? For which sin sorry?”

[Cut back to Vivienne in the lake, taunting.]

Vivienne: “Can it be that I foresee what you have not?”

[Cut to scene of epic Camlann battle.]

Vivienne cont., voice-over: “Have you yet to dream what’s coming?”

Merlin voice-over, sounding thoroughly shook: “I suppose it was simply time.”

[Cut to a tearstained Allyn-a-Dale.]

Allyn: “How long before we stop believing time to be our ally?”

[Onscreen writing: HOW WILL THEY RISE?]

Past Guinevere, in a courtyard: “I would have you fight for Arthur.”

Future Lancelot, in a parking lot: “It will take all of us.”

[Cut to Arthur, first Past then Future, looking grim as he prepares to pronounce judgement.]

Arthur voice-over, vehement: “If I am ever to be a king again, it will be because I stand up and choose to act like one.”

[Cut to Morganne blowing a bowl of magic smoke into Arthur’s face, rendering him unconscious.]

Morganne voice-over: “We stand as we see fit, little Pendragon. Trust no one any further than that.”

[Chorus of Imagine Dragons’ “Warriors blasts.]

[Montage showing Sirs Gawain, Lancelot, and Bedivere looking knightly… a monstrous dragon spewing a ball of fire… the Green Knight swinging his broadaxe in the forest, transitioning to Guinevere striking a blood-splattering blow with a sword in the moonlight… Arthur fighting shadow creatures in some nightmarish wasteland… some vaguely undead-looking figure blowing to nothing in a gale-force wind… Merlin’s eyes glowing white amidst a galaxy’s worth of burning stars…]

[Music quiets]

Merlin voice-over: “Things happen as they’re meant to.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere, chilling out of medieval uniform.]

Bedivere, flatly: “Things. Not a political scandal, not the unraveling of Camelot… just things.”

[Cut to Future Gawain, pleasantly smiling.]

Gawain: “That’s easily remedied.”

[Title card: THE ONCE AND FUTURE CAMELOT]

Future Bedivere: “A lot’s changed since before.”

Future Arthur: “I wouldn’t say ‘changed.’ I’d say ‘been brought to light.’”

Future Bedivere: “That does sound sexier.”

[Onscreen writing: IN PAPERBACK AND EBOOK NOW]

<<<>>>

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THAT’S the kind of hype I’m talking about! If you are now dying to see the movie… erm, that is, read the book, grab your paperback copy here, and/or ebook here (Barnes & Noble / Nook / epub) or here (Amazon / Kindle / mobi)! All purchases, reviews, and word-of-mouth sharing shall be most appreciated.

See you around Avalon,

~ Danielle

Letters to Camelot: Where ‘Pure’ Meets ‘Problematic’

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Dear Galahad,

I am so, so sorry.

Mostly, sorry for making you so much like me.

I don’t think I consciously modeled you after myself, any more than when I created Sheriff Swanton of Nottinghamshire for “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. And yet, you two – (we three) – and weirdly alike.

Your touch aversion = mine. Your unfairly high standards for humanity = mine. Your disinclination to offer forgiveness = yeah, we all three got hit with that one hard.

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Galahad, as seen in “Once and Future Fan Art

It’s a double shame, because fiction is all too eager to frame ‘religious’ characters as the bad guys. (Something about a shocking number of Christians and so-called Christians throughout history doing a really, really terrible job being the least bit Christ-like.) The minute you walk onto the page, young squire, there is guaranteed to be some reader somewhere who shuts you out, unwilling to see the best of you amid the… less than best of you.

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You are far from being the villain in the story of Camelot I found. And yet, how much of the kingdom’s fall was the fault of villains, and how much the fault of its heroes?

I’m sorry that’s hurtful for you to know. But the good news is: Arthur.

If you’re seen as an example of Christianity gone wrong, I hope he’s recognized as Christianity gone right. Not by any means perfect. Not free of mistakes or poor choices. But undeniably and powerfully brimming with agape – God’s own love.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sorry you and I aren’t more like Arthur. Maybe by the time the Age of Camelot comes ‘round again, we’ll have figured out better.

I’m also sorry that, pie-in-the-sky assuming this novel generates a following, you’re gonna get shipped with Mordred. Yes, that’s what fandom is like. No, our shared asexuality (and your probable aromanticsm) will not save you. Apologies again.

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Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

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One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Galahad = “Stars” from Les Miserables (10th Anniversary Concert version), because ~Righteous Intensity-y-y~

(I guess he’d be singing it about his father, lol-cringe)

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!