As told by Robin Hood and LOTR

Hello. Robin Hood, here.

Yes, THE Robin Hood. Unless you’re thinking of another of the countless versions of me. We’re kind of everywhere. For our purposes here, though, consider me “the real one”.

So, maybe you’ve not heard, but it’s Launch Week+ for “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale, the first of a novel trilogy featuring me, my merry band of outlaws, a bit of Arthuriana, Rennie culture, spontaneous song numbers… now I think it over, it really features quite a lot. And somehow, it’s fallen to me to summarize it for you – (with “Lord of the Rings” gifs. Because my author has no sense of restraint) – so you can get a feel for what the book’s about and realize just how desperately you wish to read it.

Ready? Same. Here we go.

Our story’s inciting incident takes place in a picturesque land, far, faraway…

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…that’s on the verge of falling to Darkness.

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As the prophecy foretold.

Of course, as far as our hero, Allyn-a-Dale, is concerned, the world’s already ended, because his father just died.

Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes
Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes

Fortunately, a living wind blows Allyn away from the encroaching doom via magic portal, because that’s just the kind of world it was.

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So Allyn lands in a forest that turns out to be part of another magic world – this one with Faeries…

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…and Merlin…

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200% accurate

…who, unbeknownst to everyone living outside his little Renaissance Faire haven, has been looking after a crackerjack team of medieval heroes…

It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.
It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.

…including a certain legendary archer.

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Which is all very well and debatably idyllic until something, shall we say, Precious is taken.

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Only one thing to be done about it.

Hit the road.

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Act like bosses.

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Get it back.

When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing
When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing.

How’s that work out for us? Best way to find out is to read the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! Now available for purchase via Amazon (e-book and paperback), CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive… Basically anywhere they’ll take your money for it is a go.

(No theft, if you please. That’s my business. 😉 )

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

who would win in a fight: merlin or gandalf

Merlin doesn’t fight. He has People for that.

Open Journal: Muse on the Fritz

#CampNaNo July was a weird one.

I mean, I guess…
I mean, I guess…

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

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

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

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

Until, like, Day Three or Four.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There may be any number of morals, here.

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

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

“Girly” or “8 Things My Double-X Chromosomes Have and Haven’t Done to Me”

I can’t remember the context to save my soul, but I’ve yet to forget that one time some boy at karate camp said of me, “Typical girl.” In hindsight, I don’t know why that didn’t make me mad. Call me “typical anything”, these days, and I’ll take ten kinds of offense. The girl part? Whatever. I do happen to be a girl, for whatever that’s worth.

What is it worth, I wonder? How many of my traits might one chalk up to my gender, and how many might appear to fly in the face of it?

*cue the “It’s Time for a List!” song*

…There is no such song? Boo. Well, I compiled a list anyway.

Positive (+) “Of, Relating To, Or Having the Characteristics of a Girl or Girlhood” Points:

1) I like Disney Princesses. That is, I don’t hate them, and I’ll tend to like their movies. A fairy tale where the whole world might break into a song number at any time (including, potentially, the “It’s Time for a List!” song): What’s not to love?

Do I think Disney Princess should count as a “girly” thing? If we’re talking about the characters or their stories, no reason any-old-body shouldn’t enjoy them. Fairy tales for everyone, says I! If we’re talking about the glittery merchandising, um, if that’s your aesthetic preference, go for it, I guess. I personally can only take so much pink fluff.

2) I have a hard time getting into Sci-Fi. Not counting, say, superhero films, which I will dislike or love, depending on my assessment of the production values. Technology and I are bitter enemies, and I don’t enjoy the idea of big, dark, empty, don’t-breathe-wrong-or-you’ll-die outer space.

Do I think Sci-Fi should count as a boy thing? Certainly not. More power to anyone of either gender who has a higher tolerance for it than I. And don’t think I’m not about to give Fortune’s Pawn” by Rachel [Aaron] Bach a fair try, because, hello, she wrote Eli Monpress.

3) I squeal for puppies and babies. Shamelessly.

Do I think puppy/baby love should count as a “girly” thing? Not at all. Guys loving puppies and babies is adorable. (Just one reason of a thousand I love Edgwyn Wyle.)

4) I went through a boy band phase. And when I say “boy band”, I mean the Backstreet Boys. And when I say “phase”, I mean they’ll always be my favorite, even while my obsessions move elsewhere.

Do I think boy band fandom should count as a “girly” thing? That depends. Do you have a sticker of your band favorite’s face in your journal which you proceeded to draw little hearts around and sigh over? Because that sounds pretty girly to me. *Past Danielle hangs her head*

Negative (–) “Of, Relating To”… Okay, You Know the Definition, By Now, We Can Just Say “Girly” Points:

1) I didn’t join the “Lord of the Rings” train for Orlando Bloom. It was the Balrog scene.

Balrog
Marketing: You’re doing it right.

Do I think fascination with monsters should count as a boy thing? Rubbish. Monsters are epic. Frequently terrifying, but epic. And EPIC knows no gender.

2) My time spent on my hair and makeup is statistically zero. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Do I think a time-consuming hair/makeup routine should count as a “girly” thing? Sounds like an actor thing, to me.

3) Shoes and handbags do nothing for me. Unless we’re talking really epic boots that remind me of, say, Robin Hood. Still doesn’t make me want to lug a purse around, though.

Do I think a shoe/handbag obsession should count as a “girly” thing? I lump it all in the “fashion” category, which anyone is welcome to care about so long as I don’t have to. Edgwyn and Will Scarlet, go mall crawling without me.

Outside Edgwyn

4) I am largely indifferent toward chocolate. I don’t dislike it. It’s a nice now-and-then treat, if I’ve got a taste for it. By and large, though? I’d rather have fresh fruit.

Do I think chocoholism should count as a “girly” thing? No way, man. Chocolate is tasty stuff. That I can’t work up much enthusiasm about food, more often than not, is my problem. Have a slice of cake for me, somebody.

(+4) Points + (-4) Points = 0 Gender Arguments Validated

Those are just the attributes I could easily categorize based on what I gather to be female norms/stereotypes/expectations. I don’t think most of who I am is a gender thing, or a race thing, or an age-group thing. On the whole, I’m pretty much a Danielle thing – which is so far from typical, thank you very much, Karate Camp Boy.

How ‘bout you, readers? Where you do feel you fall on the “girly/boyish” spectrum?

“Launch 2” or “We’ve Had One, Yes; But What About *Second* Launch?”

Yeah, that’s probably the look Aragorn’s giving me, too.

…Because I couldn’t resist a “Fellowship of the Ring” quote spoof.

All kidding aside, though:

Dear Readers by Habit or Chance,

This is a request formally welcoming and encouraging your presence or participation in the following event:

The “Cookies & Milk: Volume 2” Book Launch!

When: Today! Friday, May 25th, 2012; 1pm – 9pm (Central Time)

Where: The “Cookies/Milk, vol. 2” Event Page on Facebook

In their ongoing bid to raise much-needed funds for the charity Equipe, the good folks at the “A Cuppa and an Armchair” project is “introducing to the public or to a market” the second volume of their collection of stories for youngsters, “Cookies & Milk”, TODAY! That’s right, it’s happening very soon (or right now, depending on when you’re reading this)! And hey, hey, guess what? This volume contains the story with my illustrations in it! Oooh, I’m so excited!

As with last week’s launch for Volume 1, you’re invited to visit the Cookies/Milk” launch page anytime from 1-9pm (don’t forget, that’s Central Time; check your local time zone) to speak to the contributors and, perchance, to win a free e-book copy of Volume 2 in periodic photo caption competitions. (Ooh, ah!) And just to give a taste of why you really ought to be there, here’s my review of the book that launched last week:

** Like its parent book project, “A Cuppa and an Armchair”, the first volume of “Cookies and Milk” – a lovingly put together pair of children’s tales – is a collaborative work joining authors, illustrators, and the charity Equipe in a twofold mission: To relieve the suffering and poverty-stricken around the world, and to share engaging stories with readers everywhere.

The warmhearted text of Eric White’s “I Love You Each, All, and Every Way!” finds perfect visual accompaniment with Cara Branigan’s sweet and playful illustrations; the story is sure to bring smiles to the faces of youngsters and their narrating parental figures, as it did to mine.

Lynette Davies’ “The Not So Helpful Butterflies” has both a valuable lesson on cooperation among friends and a very special illustrative team in some lucky 5- and 6-year-olds from the Year 1 class of Middlefield Community Primary School.

The cause is a great one, the price is right, and the potential for joy-filled storytime is unlimited. So for those who have little ones they love each, all, and every way, be a helpful butterfly and sit them down with Cookies and Milk, Volume 1! **

Enticed yet? Well, what if I told you that, not only will I be attending today’s launch party, I’ll be hosting? Yes, you read that right. Surely wild horses can’t keep you away, now! Please do drop by and say hello; it will make me feel very special. (:

Spread the word! Tell your friends! Bring some hobbits! I hope to see you there!

RSVP

(You don’t actually have to reply, but you know a blog loves comments.)

“Getting”

(Think you’ve got this blog series’ introduction memorized yet? Let’s see if we can recite it, word for word. All together, now!)

A few years ago, I wrote a short Christmas story in which (nutshell version) fifteen-year-old Al Fischer spends the holiday enthusiastically telling his family everything he loves about the Christmas season.

By purist coincidence (or not…), Al and his author have similar ideas about Christmas. And he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve decided to commemorate our mutual obsession here on Ever On Word by dedicating a series of blog posts to The Top 10 Reasons Christmas Rocks My World.

* * *

#5: Gifts (Getting Them)

            Popping awake at the first spidery crack of dawn. Dashing headlong down the stairs, or perhaps just down the hall. Sliding into a brightly-lit, evergreen home plate, because you are ready to score, and to score big. For many, this is the highlight of Christmas – the point of Christmas – what Christmas means to them, actual reason–shmeason. Quite honestly, even Child Danielle more or less felt this way. (“Happy birthday, Jesus! Now where are my presents?!”)

            Sure, it’s more blessed to give; we’ve covered that. But let us not be so maniacally virtuous that we eschew the joy of getting, for that would gyp two parties of very great pleasure – giver and getter both.

            Last post, I reminisced about one of my favorite gifts ever given. Now for a look back on one of my favorite gifts ever received.

            Once upon a time (a couple months ago), in a land faraway (also known as my living room, which we actually call the “big TV room”, but that’s beside the point), I was celebrating my 23rd birthday with my parents, the sister who wasn’t at “Nutcracker” ballet rehearsal, and my BFFAEAE (best friend forever and ever and ever…) by opening aforesaid BFFAEAE’s snazzily-wrapped, very heavy present. Turns out that the box’s weight was due to its containing the deepest desire of my heart. …Apart from international fame as a bestselling author (which would not necessarily be heavy). …And the materiality-slash-availability of my tailor (whose weight we’ll politely leave out of this). …And superpowers (which might or might not be heavy, dependent on the form my power took).

            That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: It was a chain-mail shirt.

            For the sake of context, let it be known that I’ve been lusting after chain-mail since before I hit my twenties. Part of my annual Renaissance Faire tradition had been to stare with blatant yearning at the assemblage of metal links on display in one of the vending areas devoted to the glorious stuff. I wanted so badly to don the shiny protective gear and feel like Aragorn son of Arathorn (what “Lord of the Rings” fan wouldn’t?), but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on such an impractical item. (If only I had a legion of Uruk-hai to battle, but nooooo.) So no chain-mail for me. Until Tirzah hooked me up.

            And did I mention she gave me a hand-sewn cape, too? ‘Cause she did. ‘Cause she’s an angel.

            There was a good deal of grateful carrying-on, that day. Squealing, cheering, whimpering… I’m a little surprised there weren’t actual tears of joy. I went around in my twenty-pound shirt (and cape, and my minstrel beret) for the rest of the afternoon and evening, quickly-wearied shoulder muscles be darned. Every few minutes, I was forced to announce in a strained whisper to the world, “I have a chain-mail shirt.” The world was happy for me. Tirzah got hugged a lot, and I suffered her to poke my arm and beat me up because, what the hey? I had a chain-mail shirt!

            And that, my friends, is gift-getting ecstasy at its most gift-getting ecstatic. I guess every now and then, receiving can be pretty blessed, too.

            Anyone else want to relive the huge hurrah of getting something that blew your mind? The comment section awaits you!

PerGoSeeMo Psalm 13

Psalm 13. Romans 5:18-19; “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Three Selves in One over new earth and sky,

Seven days spent in creation and rest,

One paradise where Man never need die,

If he can pass this one oh-so simple test

In the face of the Dark One’s fork-tongued lie.

One rule, and that was all. One Man to break it.

One Man to bring the fall, and all Mankind to take it,

In the aftermath of the Dark One’s lie.

Three crosses up on a hill, in a line,

Two bearing Men reaping what they had sown,

One with a heaven-sent pure sacrifice

Soon to serve Man’s sentence entombed in stone,

In wait for the morning when he would arise.

One death in place of all. One Man to take it.

One Man to see the wall ‘tween Man and God and break it

In order that we, too, one day will arise.

“Type”

Have you noticed a pattern in the sort of people you’re attracted to? Do they tend to have short hair, or curly hair, or light-colored lashes? Are they usually artistic, or scholarly, or reckless daredevils? Would you generally rather that they be taller than you, or shorter than you, funny, or serious, or so overly serious that you can’t help but laugh? Ideals will infinitely vary; even individuals will probably change their minds about what they do and don’t like, over time. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a particularly dire question, and yet it’s one we’ve heard before and will doubtless hear again: “What’s your preferred general character or structure held in common by a number of people or things considered as a group or class?”

            …Or, as perhaps you’ve heard it more commonly asked, “What’s your Type?”

            Physically speaking, my tailor fits my Type pretty well; other examples included a previously-mentioned former Backstreet Boy (bonus points for his lovely singing voice, and extra bonus points for when his hair was long), and Aragorn as seen in the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy (bonus points for a having a sword and wearing a cape). But that’s just one type of Type to have – the “Eye Candy Type”, if you will. Suppose you strip away the physicality, and even the materiality, leaving only personality as revealed in the printed word? (I’d say a minstrel took over that last sentence, except it’s all rhyme and no rhythm; my minstrels, they would have me assure you, have better meter than that.)

            We’re talking now about your “Reader Type” – the sort of characters you’re drawn to, that you love to read about. When it comes to my reading, I’ve noticed some patterns there, too – for example, my infatuation with thieves. Charitable outlaws living it up in the forests of medieval England (referring, of course, to Robin Hood and his merry band), ex-convicts stealing their way to a Victorian gentleman’s lifestyle (looking at and loving you, Montmorency), sociopathic kings of criminals who ruthlessly manipulate their way to whatever goals they set (Tirzah Duncan’s Syawn fits the bill; he even plays dirty by trying to pander to my Eye Candy Type, the punk), whatever. If there’s clever thievery going on, my immediate interest level spikes.

            Actually, I’m attracted to cleverness in general; reading about idiots tends to frustrate me no end. And I don’t like reading about people who are just plain bad, unless of course they are supposed to be the villains, in which case I say, “Never mind, bring on the evil!” I like reading about characters who hang around with awesome friends, and share laughs with them, and stick by them in times of exciting crisis. (Naturally, they should stick by their friends in times of boring crisis, too, but I won’t necessarily want to read about it.) And if these characters happen to be handsome, singing swordsmen on the wrong side of the law, so much the better.

            Do an author’s Reader Types influence their Writer Types – that is, the sorts of characters they find themselves attracted to writing? To some degree, I think. If I don’t want to read about it, I don’t want to write it (although I will admit, writing idiots in small doses can be fun). I enjoy writing characters who are cleverer than me (or at least sneakier and quicker on the draw), and who always have time for witty quips with their pals during escapades, and very sinister villains, and I’ve got a handful of thieves (including my own Merry Men, huzzah!). I also spend a lot of time writing musicians – particularly minstrels, which just goes to show that the Reader Type/Writer Type influence goes both ways: Buzzwords like “minstrel”, “bard”, and “lute” send my immediate interest level through the roof since I’ve written “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”.

            And what of you, Ever On Word followers and guests? When it comes to reading – and, if you’re an author, writing – what’s your preferred general character or structure held in common by a number of people or things considered as a group or class? (If you want something to be doubtless heard again, sometimes you’ve gotta say it yourself. 😉 )