How the Moon Turned Blue

You may or may not have noticed, but on the night of July 31st, we had ourselves a blue moon!

“A blue moon,” Ionquin repeated. “The second full moon in the same month?”

“Just so, Highness.”

— “The Sun’s Rival”

Sun's Rival Cover, front

And as I should very much hope my fans will have noticed, the concept of a blue moon played a vital part in Book Five of my Wilderhark Tales novellas. Although, as I observed in that selfsame book’s limited-edition, special prize of a character commentary…

Sadly, not even a Wilderhark blue moon is actually blue. *grumbles about disappointing misnomers*

“Why not?” Ionquin asks. “It’s your story. Your world. You could have made it blue.”

Could have, yes. But how would I justify it? Why should the moon’s light shine blue just because it’s the second full moon in a month? Just for coolness’ sake? That’s not Lumónd’s style. He’s not showy. Nor is he Gant-o’-the-Lute, whom I could totally see as a moon shining blue just because, 1) he could, and 2) blue.

“What about when the moon shines golden or red?” Laraspur asks. “What’s the reasoning behind that?”

Red could be him in a hideous temper over something. As for golden… perhaps he’s particularly pleased.

“So why not have him shine blue when he’s particularly sad?” says Ionquin.

Which just happens to be every time there’s a second full moon in a month?

“Maybe being full twice in a month makes him sad. Maybe he feels fat.”

Laraspur rolls her eyes. “Because goodness knows I shine blue whenever I feel fat. And anyway, the full of the month is when he’s at his most powerful. He’d hardly be at his saddest then.”

“Well then, maybe whenever he decides to don a particularly blue coat. You know the old saying, ‘The clothes make the moon.’”

“That saying is two seconds old and already past its prime.”

“Fine.” Ionquin throws up his hands in surrender. “No literally blue moons, sad but true.”

So glad I’ve got your consent.

All of which raises the question: Why in Wilderhark do they call it a “blue moon”??

In all honesty, until the recent night I went out to see our own world’s blue moon, I never wondered enough to figure it out. (How my brain manages to world-build at all is an utter mystery to me.) But once I did give the matter a few minutes’ concentrated thought – and a little light research led me to this possible reasoning behind our moon’s rare title of “blue” – the answer plunked into my lap like a fallen star.

First, some necessary backstory, as provided in a bit of Wilderhark flash fiction I wrote I-forget-how-long ago (and which almost made it into “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, but then didn’t, ‘cause reasons). I may one day get around to sharing the full story, but for today’s purpose, all you need is the opening.

Once, not long after the world’s awakening, the Wind of the West asked a boon of the Moon.

“Your Majesty,” she said, with a bow that became a merry somersault ere its end. “The fruit of the steorrow trees in your grove enchant me. Might I have the pleasure of a single seed?”

In mild surprise, the night king of the Sky asked, “And what would a wind do with the seed of a star?”

“Why, plant it, of course,” the wind laughed, “and see what grows!”

The Moon knew the West Wind could mean no harm, for there was not a breath of malice in her essence. And so, as he had steorrow seeds to spare, he granted the gift, to the West Wind’s delight.

She promptly swallowed the diamond-like seed, planting it inside her own self; for so changeable was the form of a wind that it could spawn new life with any living thing. And in hardly any time at all, the West Wind bore her first child: A tree.

The silver sapling grew tall and translucent, like the Moon’s steorrows, and buds appeared all along its spreading branches. But instead of clusters of shining stars, the buds bloomed into flowers as sweet as their mother’s air. And from each blossom sprang a new creature, invisible to all eyes but a wind’s or the Moon’s.

To those few eyes that could see, the creatures were somewhat like in form to a being of Sky, but far smaller – tiny enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and slender as twigs. They flew as a wind flew, eyes shining like starlight, their voices like laughter, or air blowing through chimes.

“What are you, my little ones?” the West Wind asked her litter.

“We are the faer blewn,” they answered, the new name a breath as soft as a summer night breeze.

“And what does that mean?” she asked them.

They looked at one another and answered, “We’re not sure.”

So the wind went to the Moon for his insight on the matter; for, as the keeper of the steorrows and their fruit, he was likely to know better than she.

“They are star sprites,” he told her, upon hearing their name. “Givers of fortune.”

Our fortune?” the wind asked.

“Heavens, no,” said the Moon. “The fate of the Sky was set the day we rose. These sprites are lesser beings, their influence for beings even lesser than they. Their gift, I think,” he said, glancing downward toward the earth, “is for humanity.”

“How lovely!” said the wind, and blew kisses to all the tiny lives new born. “Then fly, little faery whatsits – do your work. And may the world for it better be!”

There. That Welken word: blewn.

I’m uncertain of the exact translation, but the Moon said it’s to do with fortune. And harken back to Book Five, where quoth a certain character, “I have also heard it said … that a night under the light of a blue moon will restore one afflicted with Moon Madness to their rightful senses.

A special moon said to cure Lunacy. I’d call that a fortunate thing, wouldn’t you? Enough so that the night Sky’s king might, in his native tongue, name his rare, healing second fullness in a month a “blewn Lumónd”. And somewhere along the line – the same somewhere in which that world’s humans developed the inaccurate habit of calling the heavens “sky” and the great forest “Wilderhark” – “blewn” came to be misspoken as a word more commonly understood by non-Welken speakers: “blue”.

Voila. One secret of the Moon down, while the rest of him remains the same beautiful enigma he’s ever been. ❤

#ISeeYou
#ISeeYou

Easy as German

In preparation for my eventual move to Germany (yes, that’s happening), I’m making an effort to learn the local language – resource of choice thus far, Duolingo.com.

It’s been a fun challenge. Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache*, but es ist noch kein Meister von Himmel gefallen**, and all that.

*An expression I’m told means “German is hard”.

** Literally, I think it means something about how we don’t fall from heaven already having mastered everything; figuratively, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper
“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper

I’ve noticed something, though. When I first started my Duolingo lessons, I didn’t have much trouble getting everything right. “Hooray!” cheered Early Me. “Das ist einfach!” [“This is easy!”] But as the weeks went on, with me diligently plugging along every day, making langsam [slow] but steady progress, I seemed to be making bothersome little mistakes more often, and having trouble remembering all the words I learned.

“Doggone it!” Later Me gnashes her teeth. “Whatever happened to the saying about the Himmel Meister? C’mon, Danielle – make perfect!”

But it makes sense, really. The more you know, the more there is to forget. And the further along you get in a learning venture, the higher your expectations for yourself, meaning it takes less and less to make you feel like you’re dropping the ball.

Or is that just me?

“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.
“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.

It’s certainly not just me and German. It applies to writing, too.

In my early authorial years – age 5 through 18 or so – writing was a breeze. The words flowed easily almost without fail. The characters’ dialogue practically wrote itself. The plots just happened, no weeks or months of brain-racking preparation required. And revision? Who needed that? These books came out practically ready to sell themselves!

Haaaaaa-hahahahahahaaaaaaaa… *sniffs* *wipes eyes* Ouch, my sides …

“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
Writing used to be easy because, unbeknownst to me, I was writing glorious, golden garbage. Another third of my life later, I now have a better idea of all the ways I can craft a story wrong. And that makes writing much, much harder.

Nevertheless, there is something else learning German and continuing to learn how to write have in common: I’m in it for the long haul!

#Schreibe [#amwriting]

In Which I’m Seen Ravin’ About Another Stiefvater Novel

First “The Scorpio Races”, then “The Raven Boys”, now its sequel… I think it may be time I just go ahead and call myself this author’s fan.

The Book: “The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Genre: Paranormal YA.

Blurb (as set down on the front flap of the book’s jacket): If you could steal things from your dreams, what would you take?

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

Of The Raven Boys, Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Maggie Stiefvater’s can’t-put-it-down paranormal adventure will leave you clamoring for book two.” Now the second book is here, with the same wild imagination, dark romance, and heart-stopping twists that only Maggie Stiefvater can conjure.

My Thoughts: The short version: I want the third book a week ago, please.

The long version: Apart from the characters (which I broke down for ya back in my review of book one), my favorite thing about this book was the way the author says things. She uses language in vivid, unexpected, and often startlingly humorous ways I don’t frequently see and would rarely (if ever) think up on my own. Some small percentage of the time, her choices of phrasing and/or analogy may not quite work for me, but on the whole, I ate it up. Rather than just try to describe it, though, let me give you a taste of what I mean.

The three brothers were nothing if not handsome copies of their father… Declan had the same way of taking a room and shaking its hand. Matthew’s curls were netted with Niall’s charm and humor. And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.

A smile made for war… So much did that line please me when first I read it, I had to write it down by hand. Had I done so with more snippets from the book, this blog post would be largely ready to go, right now. But I didn’t, and I’m not the sort who easily memorizes what I read, so I’ll have to flip through the pages at random to pull out more quotes for you. Let’s see what grabs me next…

The first week of June, Gansey found a headless statue of a bird with king carved on its belly in Welsh. The second week, they wired a refrigerator in the upstairs bathroom, right next to the toilet. The third week, someone killed Niall Lynch. The fourth week, Ronan moved in.

That’s another trait. That matter-of-factness, never mind what an extraordinary thing has just been said. She makes everyday things poetry, and incredible things bluntly simplistic. There’s beauty in the balance.

“So what you’re saying is you can’t explain it.”

“I did explain it.”

“No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format.”

That’s what it’s like, sometimes. Not altogether logical, or logical in a way you can’t quite grasp, but somehow pleasing nonetheless.

I could search through for more examples, but my dislike for skimming would have me reading the whole book all over again – which I will someday happily do, but I am kind of trying to do other things, at the moment.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): If you’re looking for votes, you’ve got a “yes” from me. I don’t even think it’s wholly necessary for you to have read book one first (enough months had passed between my reading of each that I’d largely forgotten the details from the series opener), though obviously I liked that book, too, so there’s another “yes” vote for you; I’m just saying, it can work on its own.

My personal copies of “Dream Thieves” and “Raven Boys”.
My personal copies of “Dream Thieves” and “Raven Boys”.

Such are my thoughts on “The Dream Thieves. If you’ve got any of your own, I’d be pleased to read ‘em in the comments!

“Panegyric” or “The End of Save-a-Word Saturday”

And now for the grand finale (yes, it’s true) of Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

The final theme: Finale.

The word: “Panegyric”, a noun meaning “a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing; a eulogy”.

The example:

Will Scarlet stares ahead, expression dazed, the threat of tears in his twitching eye. “I can’t believe it’s ending.”

“All things do,” Allyn replies, though not without sympathy. “But we’ve made a good show of it, have we not? Every week since the ninth of February – nine whole months of Saturdays out of the year-long existence of the blog hop – we’ve married archaic words with arbitrary themes whilst sharing small glimpses of our story-world that even devoted readers of our future ‘Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy would not otherwise have seen. That is a feat worth remembering with pride, and—”

“I don’t want to hear a panegyric, minstrel!” Will moans in frustration. “I don’t want to lay a lily on the grave of my beloved Save-a-Word Saturdays!”

“A rose, then?” Allyn suggests. “Perhaps a feather, as well?”

“I see what you did there. Seriously, though, we can’t let this end here. I need my Saturdays in the spotlight. More than that: My adoring fangirls need them!”

“But the event’s creators have declared this to be the finale.”

“Yeah, okay,” Will says, pacing back and forth as his mind’s mechanics pick up speed. “So we create a new event. One curtain falls, another rises. Our author’s still got a blog, and we’ve still got mad showmanship skillz. I’ve got it!” He snaps his fingers and spins around to point at Allyn. “Remember that thing we did, once? The ‘Peter and the Wolf’’ thing?”

An involuntary expression of pained horror crosses Allyn’s face. “You’re not suggesting a resurrection of ‘Will and Allyn’s Storytime Musical Theatre’, are you?”

“One better: ‘Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre’!”

“Wait—”

“Right, that’s the acronym. Just think of it!” Will spreads his hands before him, eyes dancing with a manic light. “Every Saturday, you and I and potentially other members of the Merry Men and the ‘Outlaws’ cast in general can do more or less as we’ve been doing all along, except instead of working with themes and ancient words, we’ll be working with suggestions from the audience!”

“What kind of suggestions?” Allyn asks uneasily.

Will Scarlet grins. “Anything they want. They can toss out words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything. We will ‘Yes, And’ the heck out of it like the professional improvisers we are, the audience will wet themselves laughing, and the public attention requirement for my fragile ego’s health will be met. Winning all around.”

“Well,” Allyn says, bracing for the inevitable, “I suppose if the readers would be interested…”

“Pfft, ‘suppose’. Why suppose anything when we can know for a fact? Go on, all you beautiful reader people.” Will gestures to the comment section below with a smile of anticipation. “Lay it on us: What do you want to see next?”

“Montivagant” or “Holiday Is Where the Heart Is”

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, the “Outlaws of Avalon” trilogy (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, with my vignettes generally pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t post them here for the blog-inclined to see!

So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day.

The theme: Journeys.

The word: “Montivagant”, an adjective meaning “wandering over hills and mountains”.

The Example:

The pair lay back on the lake’s bank, eyes on the summer stars, the sleepy silence between them slow to break, until, “If you could journey anywhere,” Will said at last, “where would you go?”

Allyn shrugged a shoulder in the grass. “I’ve never much cared. The ‘where’ means less than the ‘who’. To make my montivagant way to our world’s edge and back with Father was no better or worse than to sit still with him in one place. Only perhaps the latter was the more thrilling,” he supposed, “for being the rarer.”

Will’s head turned Allyn-ward. “So you would be pleased to lie here just like this, night after night?”

“With my band brother beside me?” Allyn touched a hand to Will’s elbow. “Every night forever.”

“Hmmph,” said Will, returning his gaze to the sky. “Well, maybe a stay-still forever with you won’t be so bad.”

Allyn smiled. “Time may tell.”

“Bowdlerize” or “Words and Wallpaper Unfit to Print”

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, the “Outlaws of Avalon” trilogy (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, with my vignettes generally pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t post them here for the blog-inclined to see!

So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day.

The theme: Wallpaper Removal.

The word: “Bowdlerize”, a verb meaning “to remove those parts of a text considered offensive, vulgar, or otherwise unseemly”.

The Example:

“Take it down.”

“But—”

“Take, it, down,” Merlin repeated, each word hard and distinct as the first drops of a freezing rain.

“It will help with insulation!” Will argued. “You know how drafty castles are. And so dreary, with all this dull gray stone everywhere. High time we got a bold pattern and splash of color to liven things…” He trailed off into silence beneath the wizard’s glare, full of sentiment he suspected his sensitive author would be forced to bowdlerize if spoken aloud.

“Mr. Scarlet,” Merlin said quietly. “You will remove every scrap of this hideous wallpaper from the Round Table room by morning, or you will suffer.”

Will swallowed. “Suffer what?”

“Not half of what I do,” Merlin grumbled, stalking away toward his supply of aspirin.

<<<>>>

IN UNRELATED NEWS: If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to enter the “Inspired” Journal Giveaway, where winning the delightful notebook of your choice could be as easy as answering a fun question about muses, ideas, and of course, inspiration. I draw the seven winning names on Monday, so delay ye not!

“Sagittipotent” and the “One More Day” e-ARC Winner!

*Stay tuned at the end of this post for the announcement of the winner of the e-ARC of the One More Day” anthology!*

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, the “Outlaws of Avalon” trilogy (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, with my vignettes generally pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t post them here for the blog-inclined to see!

So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day

The theme: Chandeliers.

The word: “Sagittipotent,” an adjective meaning “having great ability in archery”.

The Example:

“Aaand it’s another bull’s-eye,” Will sighed, plucking the shaft from the straw target. “I hate to say it, Robin, but this is beginning to lose the thrill of surprise.”

Robin lowered his bow, shrugging in acknowledgement. “’Tis the price the sagittipotent must pay, I’m afraid. What would you have me do? Shoot blindfolded and drunk?”

“One, yes, we are so doing that!”

“I wasn’t being serious, Will.”

“Two,” Will continued, “I think it’s time we found you a challenge beyond simply hitting things with your arrows. What say we move this operation into the Round Table room and see if you can’t shoot out the flame of a candle in the chandelier?”

“Tempting,” said Robin. “Honestly tempting. But I don’t believe the residents of the castle would appreciate that.”

I’m a resident of the castle, and I’m all for it! Come on!” Will dashed away across the Archer’s Green, calling behind him, “Last one there buys the ale for the blindfolded and drunk round!”

Shaking his head, Robin stayed where he was, and eyed the straw target in contemplation. Maybe trying to draw the bow left-handed would shake things up a bit.

<<<>>>

And now, the name of the lucky duck who gets to read a copy of the upcoming YA anthology “One More Day” ahead of its December 2nd release…

Eric Wilder!

Congratulations! I’ll be in contact to get you your e-ARC courtesy of J. Taylor Publishing A.S.A.P. You’re in for a treat with the fun variety of stories therein (including, of course, my own contribution, “A Morrow More”.) I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book!

As for everyone else, sit tight. December will be here before half of us are ready for it, and then you’ll be able to scoop up a lovely e-copy or paperback of your own. ;D

<<<>>>

OneMoreDay_Cover-blog

What if today never ends?

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens?
Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying … that’s where you’d be … forever.

Unless …

In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.

How do we restart time?

How do we make everything go back to normal?

The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.

Right now.

What would you do if this happened … to you?