We Are Most Amused

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

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

aMUSEd, cover photo

Me and my Daddy, awaiting curtain-up!
Me and my Daddy, awaiting curtain-up!

aMUSEd, centerfold

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

aMUSEd, Brumder Mansion

Interior shots of but one of the Brumder’s fancy rooms. (Hi, Dad! Hi, piano I refrained from playing!)
Interior shots of but one of the Brumder’s fancy rooms. (Hi, Dad! Hi, piano I refrained from playing!)
aMUSEd, stage
The stage in all its pre-showtime glory.

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

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

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html
Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html

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

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html
Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html

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

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

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

Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html
Pre-production photos courtesy of Ross Zentner Photography; http://www.rosszentner.com/rosszentner.com/Main.html

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

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

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

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

Until Nikki.

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

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

My little Luc in a lightbulb approves.
My little Luc in a lightbulb approves. ^_^

Chopped Liver Inspiration (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 6)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Chopped Liver Inspiration’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a bedroom set. Not the castle bedchamber set we usually see with the canopied bed and elegant wardrobe, but a modern affair draped with hoodies, hung with dreamcatchers, piled with books. On the colorfully quilted bed sits a girl in her upper teens, typing away at a laptop. Enter Allyn-a-Dale and Will Scarlet, stage left.]

Will/Hatter: Annabelle Iole Gray, I presume?

Annabelle [looking up, startled ]: Um, yes. That’d be me. And you are?

Will/Hatter [with a hat-sweeping bow ]: Artifice Cheshirecott, Mad Hatter, at your service. [gestures to Allyn ] And this is Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus of Fairytale Forest.

Annabelle: Huh. I had no idea I had you in my head.

Allyn/Jack: We’re not in your head. We’re in your bedroom.

Annabelle [leaping back into her bed’s pile of pillows ]: Whaaat?!

[From behind the bed’s headboard, Sir Wilbur Lamb appears.]

Sir Wilbur: Sorry, author. I did tell them you might find it less disturbing were they to manifest in your mind rather than on your plane of reality, but—

Will/Hatter [cheerfully ]: But it’s all the same to me! All planes are my planes. So, where’s Lucianíel? It’s mainly him we’ve come to see.

Annabelle [grumpy ]: Doesn’t that just figure? Couple of cute strangers busting into my room uninvited only to say, “Yeah, hi, we don’t want you.” I’m changing my name to Chopped Liver.

Sir Wilbur: Real name, or pen name?

Annabelle: Both!

Will/Hatter: Aw, don’t take it personally, darling. It’s just we’re in need of some inspiration, and that’s pretty much Luc’s shtick.

Sir Wilbur: Well, Luc doesn’t appear to be around, at the moment.

Allyn/Jack [muttering ]: Probably refusing to lower himself to a bit part in a stage show of buffoons. I should have so much pride.

Annabelle: I could inspire you. What kind of ideas are you looking for?

Will/Hatter: I’m taking Jack, here, on a sightseeing tour on the way to his home in the North Pole. So far we’ve poked around a few corners of fantasy. What genre should we explore next?

Annabelle: List of genres, eh? That’s easy enough. To the Internet!

Allyn/Jack [addressing the audience as Annabelle returns to her laptop ]: Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre wishes to state on the record that neither we nor our affiliates hold to the belief that the Internet is a suitable substitute for a professional muse.

Accept no substitutes.
Accept no substitutes.

Annabelle: Here we go, there’s a bunch of them. Fables and folklore, horror and historical, mystery and— ooh, mythology! You guys should totally do mythology next! I’m halfway to a Greek myths expert; I could give you a ton of high points to hit.

Will/Hatter: Perfect! You’re coming with us.

Annabelle: I—what? How does that even—?

Sir Wilbur: They’ve already roped me in.

Annabelle [tossing closed laptop to the foot of the bed ]: Then never mind how. Count me in!

Will/Hatter: Up to four of us, now. We should really have an awesome group name. Peter Pan had his Lost Boys. Robin Hood had his Merry Men.

Annabelle: Jason had his Argonauts.

Will/Hatter [grinning ]: And now Jack Snow’s got his Genre-nauts. Lead on, Chopped Liver!

Annabelle: Yeah, no, that can’t continue.

Will/Hatter: I thought maybe not.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘the Internet’ and ‘buffoons’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

Character Casting Call (INSPIRED Days)

Inspired Days Button

It’s Week Three of “INSPIRED Days”! – an approximate month of awesomeness celebrating my J. Taylor Publishing novel, of which yesterday marked its 6-month semi-anniversary of publication! *huzzahs, hurrahs, sings a round or two of “For He’s It’s a Jolly Good Fellow Novel”*

In honor of the occasion, here’s a piece of flash fiction I whipped up a couple months back, all about one of the many ways a muse may assist his author in finding inspiration. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Next,” the voice like bells rang out from the doorway. O was on his feet in an instant. This is it, he thought, smoothing a hand over his hair and down his shirtfront. Don’t screw it up.

O walked in with all the confidence he could scrape together, then uneasily wondered whether they were looking for confidence. What if they wanted someone shy? The posting, written in lights in the ether, hadn’t specified. Confidence seemed the safest bet for first impressions, though, so he kept committed to that.

Inspired Mock Cover
My early vision for an INSPIRED cover, as created by me.

The dark girl seated at the desk smiled, and the glowing-bright man seated in the air beside her beckoned O further in. The door closed behind him – from all appearances, on its own power. “Hi-hi!” the girl chirped. “I’m Annabelle. This is my co-executive, Lucianíel. And you are?”

“O,” said O, shaking the girl’s hand. “Or, something with an ‘O’. Possibly multiple ‘O’s. That’s all I’ve got for sure.”

“Fair enough,” she said. She turned to her floating, glowing co-exec. “How do we feel about Orlando?”

“Donovan, I think,” Lucianíel’s voice rang again.

“Orlando Donovan, then. We’ll hold onto it for later.” Scribbling the name on a notepad with one hand and gesturing for O to sit with the other, Annabelle said, “So, O. Let’s chat. What do you know about yourself?”

“Well, I’m a guy.”

“A good starting point,” said Annabelle, her curly cloud of hair bobbing with her encouraging nod.

“And I’m a killer.”

Her brows rose. “Oh?”

He nodded. “I have to be. I mean, I have to kill. It’s a psychological need. If I don’t, I’ll, I dunno. Get sick. Go crazy. It’s in my twisted nature. Also, I have really arresting eyes.”

“I noticed,” she said. “What are they, blue?”

“I think so, yeah. Kinda flickers between that and gray, but I’m leaning toward blue. Or… do you think I could have eyes like a raven?” he asked hopefully.

Lucianíel tipped his head. “Are you a raven? Descended of ravens or tied to them in any way?”

“Shape-shifting raven?” Annabelle inquired.

O shook his head. “I didn’t mean literal raven’s eyes. Just their color. Y’know how the feathers are just so black they shimmer, like, purple and green and blue? It would be incredible to have eyes like that!”

“Hmm.” Annabelle chewed on the cap of her pen. “Amazing eyes do not in themselves an amazing character make. The psychological need to kill is something, I suppose, but even that on its own is a little… so-so.”

Why do you need to kill?” Lucianíel probed, his own incredible eyes on O intent. “Whence came this vital need?”

O shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I’m really not sure. It’s something in my makeup. In my blood.”

“So this is not unique to you? There are more of your kind?”

“Sure. Or there were.” O shrugged. “I dunno. I might be the last, or separated from them. I feel separated,” he realized, of a sudden. “Isolated. I might not even know what I am, and that there are more like me. I feel like the only one.”

“Aww,” Annabelle said, absently sympathetic. A good half of her attention was on the fat little paperback in her hands, its pages well-worn and flipping with familiar ease beneath her fingers. “Dominic… Donahue… Here we are: Donovan. Celtic, Irish. Strong fighter, dark chieftain.” She turned wide, eager eyes on Lucianíel. “That could apply to a race of raven people quite well! A noble family name. Maybe he’s a long-lost prince!”

“Perhaps crows instead of ravens,” Lucianíel suggested. “Murder, and all.”

“A murder of crows – brilliant!” Annabelle cried. “Yes, yes, yes! You, young Donovan,” she said, stabbing a finger across the desk, “are a prince among crows! There was a conspiracy—”

That would be the ravens,” said Lucianíel.

“Say what?”

“A conspiracy of ravens.” He smiled. “Or an unkindness.”

“Ah, I see. Well, shoot, we’re rolling in awesome titling options, aren’t we?”

“Less awesome than obvious. But they’re as good a starting place as any.”

“In any case,” Annabelle continued, returning to O. “Conspiracy. Somebody wanted you gone, probably so they could cut ahead in line to the throne. That they didn’t just kill you shows it was one of the ravens.” She steepled her fingers, eyes gleaming in the glow of a plot unfolding. “A crow would have murdered you, but for one of the Unkindness, death would be too kind. They snatched you from your people and left you to grow up alone in a world not your own, desperate for the death of others without knowing why; a freak and a monster; friendless.”

O chewed down on his cheeks’ insides, trying to stem the flood of painful heat rising behind his eyes. As she said it, it was true. He wanted friends – of course he did – but how could he ask friendship, ask trust, of someone when he might kill them, or someone they cared about? It was bad enough that he cared. Each and every time. A crow prince raised with the morals of a gentler race. Every day was a battle of nature versus conscience, and he could not let conscience win. It would destroy him.

A tissue appeared before him. “It’s okay,” said Annabelle, gently. “Let it out.”

Taking the proffered tissue, he wept freely, embarrassed but unafraid. He sensed their compassion, the girl and the glowing man. Whatever happened today, however this ended, he had their understanding.

“I think we can work with you,” she said, when O’s sobs had softened to sniffles. “More than that: I would like to work with you, O. How would you feel about getting a story?”

“Please,” he said, a smile braving its way back onto his face. “I’ve been trying to apply for one for ages. You’re the first author who’s seemed to notice I exist.”

“And the last author you’ll ever need to petition,” said Annabelle, smiling wide in return. “You’re mine. Feel free to go hang out, for now. If you need anything, there’ll be other characters to show you around. Luc and I will be in touch when we’ve got more of a game plan for you. Sound good?”

“Excellent. Thanks,” said O, going in for the closing handshake. “I appreciate it.”

“The pleasure is ours,” Lucianíel said warmly. “Next,” he called, the first door swinging open in tandem with a second – the door through which O made his way out into the vastness of his new author’s mind.

“Hi,” he heard her greet the applicant behind him. “Sorry we kept you waiting. People were crying. So. A dragon master, huh? Tell me what that’s like.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for reading! If you’d love to nab the novel chronicling the start of Luc and Annabelle’s partnership, remember there’s a giveaway on Goodreads with three paperbacks for the winning. Meanwhile, for the e-reading crowd, the novel’s e-version is on sale all month for a crazy-low 99 cents via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So for anyone who hasn’t gotten hold of a copy yet, the time is now!

Inspired Sale, Kindle and BN

 

**Coming up Thursday**: A guest post from INSPIRED’s Uri on reconciling her worldview with the surprise revelation that she’s fictional.

Which INSPIRED Character Are YOU? (INSPIRED Days)

Who doesn’t love a personality quiz? ^o^

A) Boo to quizzes!

B) Yay, quiz!

If you chose A, this blog post isn’t for you, and I recommend you browse the Ever On Word archives for something better suited to your tastes. But if you chose B, then you are in luck, because some muse put it in my head to create a quiz based on my nearly-six-month-old novel and share it during “INSPIRED Days”!

Inspired Days Button

You can take the quiz via playbuzz.com, and/or right here on the blog. Which of the book’s main cast do you most resemble? Let’s find out!

1) The world is ending. What do you do?

– Run for my life

Try to save everyone

Hide

Make smart-aleck remarks

Activate my emergency escape plan

Over-dramatize the whole affair

2) Suppose I told you you’re more powerful than you know?

Inspired, Luc

– I know exactly how powerful I am

Suppose I told you you’re the one who has no idea?

I would strive to use all my power for good

Ah, but do I have the strength to use the power I have?

Hahaha, well, that’s not dangerous at all…

Um, could I get some specifics, Captain Cryptic?

Yves, cropped

3) Preferred mode of transportation?

– On foot

On wheels

Flying

Anything but flying

Horseback

I have to leave the house? Uh, could somebody drive me?

4) Pick an animal:

Puppy

Bird

– Cat

Sheep

Firefly

Gryphon, dragon, something epic like that

Abishan, cropped

5) Pick a leisure time activity:

Reading

Skating

– Eating

Dancing

Meaningful conversation

Whatever my friends want to do is fine

Wilbur, cropped

6) How social are you?

I love being with people

– I want people when I want them. Otherwise, leave me alone

People? Ugh

I like to be on the fringes

I enjoy spending time with a special few

Imaginary friends preferred

7) Someone’s done you grievously wrong. What do you do?

Abandon them to their fate

Put the fear of God in their hearts

Try to understand the situation from their point of view

Suffer in silence

Express my anguish through my art

– Kill them

Uri, cropped

8) Who’s the boss of you?

I’ll follow any worthy leader

– Boss all you like, but don’t expect me to listen

I call the shots, whether you know it or not

God

My parents

The voices in my head

 

9) Who are you hoping this quiz will say you are?

– Abishan. He’s obviously superior

Lucianíel. What the muse wants, he gets

Inspired, Annabelle

Wilbur would be nice, but there are so many other wonderful people to choose from…

Well, it would be pretty lame if I picked all the Uri-est answers and didn’t get Uri, so… let’s not be lame

Whichever is truest

Truth, schmuth, give me one of the cool ones!

 

If you answered mostly gold = You are Lucianíel! A commanding muse with a love of creation, and an inspiration to us all. You not only have all the bright ideas, you’ve got the finesse to steer everyone toward the fulfillment of your goals. To work with you is a rewarding privilege. To work against you is… unadvisable.

If you answered mostly black = You are Abishan! A god among cats and a cat among mortals, everyone loves you, or they’re wrong. No one needs to remind you of your worth, though you’ll favor them if they do. Bonus points if they feed you.

If you answered mostly green = You are Wilbur! Everybody loves you because you love everybody. You’re caring, compassionate, and stand up for others. Just make sure you don’t forget to stand up for yourself sometimes, too, eh?

If you answered mostly red = You are Uri! Let people say whatever they want about you; whatever you say in reply is bound to be a better zinger. You’ve got plenty of ‘tude and the awesome points to back it up. Like it or leave it, world. Or, y’know what? Leave regardless.

If you answered mostly blue = You are Yves! Your quietness makes you easy to overlook, but anyone who truly sees you knows what a masterpiece you are. Stay on the outside if that’s where you feel most at home. Just don’t let it be because of fear. You’re stronger than that.

If you answered mostly purple = You are Annabelle! You can be a bit of a loony loose cannon, but aren’t all the best artists? You pour your whole self into your passion, perhaps to the neglect of things like, y’know, everyday life stuff. But hey, you can eat breakfast any time; right now, there are adventures to dream!

So, who’d you get? ^^ Share in the comments!

(Also, y’know, Goodreads giveaway, e-book sale for Kindle and Nook, more goodies coming on Thursday, yadda-yadda-yadda. Now tell me who you got!)

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

The “Inspired” blog tour marches on! (Or Aprils on, by now.) Why, just look at what went down this past week:

Friday saw me interviewed on the JeanzBookReadNReview blog, talking writing, inspiration, favorite characters, and more!

Monday on the blog of Julie Antonovich Reece, I guest posted on my favorite type of hero. (Spoiler alert: Robin Hood’s name may come up. …I may also have used the term “spoiler” somewhat loosely.)

And Wednesday, I reminisce with The Parasite Guy on “Inspired”s fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

We’ve still got a few tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies…of which I now have pics! Check out the charms on these bookmarks, baby (photographed with tons of love in an effort to make up for any lack of skill)!

Inspired Bookmark, Abishan

One lucky winner’s bookmark will come with this sweet kitty – the great jungle god Abishan, portrayed here in housecat form.

Inspired Bookmark, Wilbur

Another’s bookmark will sport the figure of a chess set knight, a fitting representation of the chivalrous Sir Wilbur.

Inspired Bookmark, Uri

Our gal Uri may not be overly endowed with charm, but with this rockin’ little skateboard  attached, this bookmark couldn’t scream “Uri” louder if it had a set of lungs!

Inspired Bookmark, Yves

Finding the right charm for Yves took some doing, but I think those who know him will agree that this little bird in its pretty cage suits the boy quite well indeed.

Inspired Bookmark, Annabelle

I haven’t forgotten Annabelle! What better for a young lady of letters than a charm like a journal in which to scribe her beloved words? ^.^

And for Luc… oh, for our muse Lucianíel, I could scarcely believe my good fortune when I happened upon this little gem. Whichever muse inspired the making of this entirely perfect trinket, thank you! A dozen-dozen times, thank you!

Inspired Bookmark, Luc

Like I said, folks: This is a giveaway you don’t wanna forget to enter!

Psst. Just curious: Which of the bookmark charms are your favorites? ^^

Tour for Two, and Two for Tour

It’s another twofer day! First up, a blog swap with author Jessica Dall. I’m on her blog talking about when classic tales are your writing inspiration. And she’s over here, talking about “The Copper Witch ”, her NaNoWriMo novel turned newly published novel! The floor is yours, Jessica.

Part One: The Copper Witch: A NaNo Novel

Jessica Dall

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a crazy time of year for those who have never experienced it. Writers from all walks of life come together to try to write 50,000 words in one month—which can either crash and burn, or actually leave you with a good start to a novel come the end of November. I was very lucky to find myself in the latter camp with my 2011 project, The Copper Witch.

A diehard pantser (someone who “flies by the seat of their pants” when it comes to writing), I started The Copper Witch with very little idea what my plot might be. A few weeks before I had been playing around on ancestry.com and found a name, Adela, which stuck with me for one reason or another. With thoughts of family lineage, this “Adela”, and November 1st arriving, I decided to start writing to see what came out.

Luckily, not having a plan at all didn’t seem to be a problem. I managed to churn out about 60,000 words in November leaving me about 70 percent of the way through what ended up being the original manuscript. Using the holidays to finish up, I started 2012 with something that actually wasn’t half bad for having been written in two months (sure, there were some scenes that had to be cut due to “NaNo babble” but all in all, the story worked). After a quick few rounds of edits/critiques (the critiques forum on the NaNo site is a great place to connect with critique partners) I was willing to consider shopping the manuscript.

TheCopperWitch

While, from the start, I did have positive responses from publishers, I didn’t find anyone interested in offering a contract (or at least a contract I was interested in—there was a UK press who offered an ebook run with possible print run after I decided to pass on). With new story ideas popping up, and NaNo once again approaching, I set The Copper Witch aside for the time being and went back every once in a while to edit when the mood took me.

Come September 2013, I was introduced to 5 Prince Publishing through its founder, Bernadette Marie. After reading some about them, I remembered The Copper Witch, sitting there patiently on my laptop, and pulled it out to see what they thought. From there, it was only a couple weeks before The Copper Witch was sold along with the rest of the Broken Line series—just in time for Book 2 to be shoved onto the docket for NaNoWriMo 2013.

All things said, NaNoWriMo 2014 will be my seventh year in the program, and with the friends I have made there, and the books I have written, I don’t see any end to that involvement in sight. Especially not when I have the rest of this series to write.

The Copper Witch, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance.

Part Two: Meanwhile, on the “Inspired” blog tour…

On Friday, I guest posted on the OriginiqueEquanimity blog about the crazy quirks that make “Inspired”…well, a lot like its author. X)

On Tuesday, Lucianíel took the spotlight (lol, leave it to a light elemental) on The Flight Reflex, blog of my “One More Day” anthology sister Kimberly Kay, guest posting about what he knows best: The work of a muse.

And Wednesday on The Book Diva’s Reads, we looked at book-making from the author side of things with an Annabelle-style 5-step plan to authorship.

Plenty more tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

 

P.S. – Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies. (:

Entertaining Angels (and Blog-Touring Authors)

Two things today! Part One, a guest post and cover reveal from an author pal and her upcoming book! Part Two, a quick roundup of the stops so far on my “Inspired” blog tour. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Part One: Emerald Barnes and Entertaining Angels

EntertainingAngels, banner

Emerald Barnes: I am super thrilled to show you the beautiful cover for my newest and upcoming novel, Entertaining Angels. Again, my cover artist was Natasha Brown, and she is super talented. She brought my disjointed vision to life, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank her properly.

I can’t wait to publish it, which I’m hoping will be in May. That’s what I’m estimating anyway. But, I couldn’t wait any longer to show you my beautiful cover!

EntertainingAngels, cover

About Entertaining Angels:

Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep.

Along comes Zach, the new guy in school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips.

Even as Madison begins to realize that she is more than what she thinks, darker forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. Can Madison find true happiness in her own skin?

<<<>>>

Emerald Barnes: Why is Entertaining Angels so near and dear to my heart? Well, it’s basically my story growing up in high school. Well, I didn’t have a Chase, but I was Madison. I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror because I felt so horrible about the way I looked. All I could see in my reflection was someone who I didn’t think was loveable. I couldn’t even love myself for who I was. I wanted to be skinnier, prettier, and more popular.

Sure, I had friends who were popular, but I could tell the difference in their attitude towards me as opposed to someone more like them, you know the type. Guys were my friends, but they were never interested in me as more than a friend. I was overweight, and I didn’t stand a chance in the high school world. Well, that’s why I thought anyway.

I lived my life in a daydream, hoping that one day God would answer my prayers, and I’d wake up skinny and hot. Little did I know, I was beautiful. I am a daughter of the King, but I didn’t really realize the implications of that phrase until I was much older. I was out of college before I truly understood what that meant.

One night, God spoke to me, not in a loud audible voice or a burning bush, but through song. Beautiful by MercyMe. I was driving home from my cousin’s house late one night when it came on the radio. The Presence of God filled my little Alero, and God told me I was beautiful because He made me. I was His creation, and God only creates beautiful things.

How does this tie into Entertaining Angels? God wanted me to share my revelation with the world, specifically young adults, but I think that even older women need to hear it. We don’t fully understand the implications of what it means to be a child of God.

Do you know how much He loves you? It’s our job to understand how much He does love us, and then, we need to learn how to love ourselves like he loves us. Entertaining Angels is about just that. It’s about one girl’s journey of self-discovery. Madison learns to love herself, and she sees just how important she is in God’s eyes.

It’s important that we love ourselves, and it’s my hopes that this novel does that for women of all ages. This is why Entertaining Angels is so near and dear to my heart.

Are you a book reviewer? If so, please sign up for an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of my novel here.

<<<>>>

EmeraldBarnesAuthorPhotoMarch2014

About Emerald: Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.

She mainly writes suspense/thrillers in the YA genre, but she dabbles in other genres and her books are enjoyed by all ages! She’s constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. She blogs which takes up more of her time than she anticipates but loves it so very much! She’s also a volunteer at the World Literary Cafe which is amazing, and she is a crazy grammar Nazi who proofreads novels!

She’s an auntie to three beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews who take up the other half of her time, but she couldn’t imagine spending her time in any other way!

She’s a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.

Connect with Emerald: Website / Blog / Inspiration Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads  / Google + / Amazon Author Page / Piercing Through the Darkness / Read Me Dead

The Entertaining Angels Blog Tour Schedule:

March 17: The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something year Old Girl

Andrea Buginsky, Author  /  Tammy’s Tea Time 

Rachelle’s Window – Guest Post  /  The Writing Realm – Interview

March 18: ssteinwriting – Interview

Fran’s Stuff Sitting On The Porch With Lynn – Guest Post

Angel Breath Books – Guest post  /  The Serious Reader

March 19: Totally unrelated to this tour is my interview with Angie Brashear.

Sheila Deeth – Guest post  /  The Wonderings of One Person

J.L. Mbewe Ever On Word – Guest Post (you are here! ;D)

March 20: Community Bookstop

Fictional Reality  /  A.R. Silverberry – Guest Post

Bonnie Blythe’s Pure Romance

March 21: The Readers Realm

Blue Brown Books  /  Beck Valley Books

Belindawitzenhausen.com, Igniteyourcreativity.net & WriterzBlox.net

Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista – Guest Post

Part Two: Meanwhile, on the “Inspired” blog tour…

Aptly enough, on Monday we kicked things off with a short ‘n’ sweet interview on the blog of the good folks who helped me get the novel out into the world, J. Taylor Publishing.

That same day found me on the blog of fellow JTP author J.A. Belfield (of Holloway Pack fame), where I dreamed aloud about the 10 ways I would spend the day if I could do it with one of my best character friends, Will Scarlet.

And today, I’m visiting Scribbler’s Sojourn, blog of Terri Rochenski (JTP author of the Pool of Souls), with a letter to my personal muse.

Plenty more tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

P.S. – Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies. (:

“Journal” or “An Inspired Giveaway!”

Five months until the release of my debut novel through J. Taylor Publishing, “Inspired”!

Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a while to wait. So hey, to help pass the time, how about we have a little giveaway up in here? ^^

Kinda makes you want to have a copy of the anthology for your digital reading device, doesn’t it?
Kinda makes you want to have a copy of the anthology for your digital reading device, doesn’t it?

Or, what the heck. We’ll have two.

The “One More Day” e-ARC contest is closed. Congratulations to winner Eric Wilder! Continue reading for details on the ongoing “Inspired” Journal Contest!

Giveaway One: Courtesy of our friends at JTP, I’ve got an e-ARC of “One More Day” to bequeath unto one lucky somebody! Want a chance to read and review a copy of the YA anthology ahead of everybody who’s got to wait until December? Entry is simple: Just tell me you want in! From those entered, I’ll draw a name and announce/contact the winner on Saturday (Oct. 19), so you’ve got ‘til then to give me a holler. Here, I’ll pause to give you a sec to get your entry in right now.

*time freezes, “One More Day”-style*

. . .

. . .

. . .

Back already? Righteo then, moving on to Giveaway Two:

In the novel “Inspired”, one of the traits that characterizes teen protagonist Annabelle is her journaling habit – she buys them by the armload, fills them from cover to cover with story ideas, even names them. I was the same way, at her age (minus the naming part, which is strange, since I used to name almost everything else), and that phase of my life has left me with several fine, empty notebooks still awaiting someone to put pen or pencil to their pages. I’ll never get around to it, which is why I’m passing the privilege on to seven – yes, I said and meant seven – lucky winners. Take a look at the prizes up for grabs!

Journal Giveaway 01

Journal #One sports a pale green cover, soft and springy to the touch. Also spring-like is the pink flower through which a bright orange rubber ribbon keeps the book snugly closed until you’re ready to write.

Journal #Two is a shiny, psychedelic blue hardcover artfully covered (by moi) in stickers representing countries all over the world.

Journal Giveaway 02

Journal #Three is all class with an exquisitely-bordered hardback leather cover featuring a gentle magnetic clasp.

Journal #Four shares the magnetic clasp feature, meaning your pocket-sized journal will stay safely closed until you’ve gazed to your heart’s content at the bird- and flora-filled cover art suggestive of stained glass.

Journal Giveaway 03

Journal #Five models Australian chic, its cover depicting a kangaroo silhouette leaving tracks across a background of sandy waves.

Journal #Six is softback leather in sophisticated dark brown, perfect for giving your scribbles an air of timeless importance.

Journal #Seven’s hardback cover is a work of still-life art, boasting a stylish assemblage of fruit and calla lilies over a varied pastel background.

Oh, and did I mention that each and every journal will come with a signed “Inspired” bookmark? Because they will. (:

Journal Giveaway 04

So, how can you enter to win one of these seven superlative prizes? (Okay, maybe “superlative” is taking it a bit far, but come on, after that catalog of notebook pitches, I’m running out of descriptors, here!) All it will take is an answer to any or all of the following inspirational questions”:

What’s the greatest idea you ever had?

For the writers/artists out there, tell me about your muse. What does he look like? Describe her personality. How well (or badly) do the two of you get along?

Who or what do you find simply inspiring?

(And if I notice you spreading the word about the giveaway in social media places, you can bet that will up your name’s occurrence in the raffle pool, too. ;D)

Also, tell me which journal you want. List your first, second, and third choice (or heck, you can rank all seven, if you like). The order in which I draw the seven winning names at raffle’s end will determine who gets first pick. Here’s hoping as many winners as possible get one of their favorites!

You have from now until pretty much just before I announce the winners to enter, and that announcement shall go forth on Monday, October 28th. (Because nothing says “happy [two days early] birthday to me” like presents for y’all.)

So, in summary, tell me if wanna win an e-ARC of “One More Day, and answer the questions above in the comments below for a chance to win your pick of journals and an “Inspired” bookmark. And now, one final word from the inspiration behind Giveaway Two…

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

* * * * *

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

“Inspired” or “The Story Behind the Cover”

You’ve read the blog posts.

You’ve seen the novellas.

Now at long last, it’s time to show you what a full-length Danielle E. Shipley novel looks like.

I give you… INSPIRED!

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

Back of the Book:

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

* * * * *

How in the world to condense all that awesome story into a single thousand words’-worth of picture on the front of the book? It was by no means easy, I can tell you that!

I knew from the start what I wanted. The tricky part was working within the parameters of reality (which is not my strong suit, hence my career in imagination). Out of a finite supply of stock images, J. Taylor Publishing and I had to search out the ones that best represented the novel’s heaviest hitters, Annabelle and Luc. She was not so terribly difficult to deal with. He, on the other hand… well, I don’t have to tell the artists in the audience what it’s like trying to get any cooperation out of a muse.

After much stress, toil, stress, compromise, and, just for giggles, a little more stress (whose bright idea was it to make me the spokesperson for the demands of persnickety characters?!), we arrived at a cover that was author-, publisher-, and muse-approved.

Idowanna wait ‘til March 17th, 2014 to get this book in your hands! There are so many amazing fictional people for you to meet! So much adventure and drama and whimsy to share!

Gah! Somebody distract me. Talk to me: What do you guys think of the cover and blurb? Anybody out there inspired to give this novel a read, once it releases? ^^

P.S. – You can totally add “Inspired” to your Goodreads shelf, if you wanna. (:

“Lies” or “Writer, Writer, Pen on Fire”

Firstly, a quick shout-out to my sister-o’-the-soul, Tirzah Duncan, because it’s her birthday! If you’ve got a second, pop over to her Ink Caster blog and wish her many happy returns!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Some weeks ago, a darling friend of mine (let’s call her “D’Artagnan”) linked me to an article titled “25 Lies Writers Tell (And Start to Believe)” – basically a back-and-forth between common excuses for writing poorly or not at all and Chuck Wendig’s (author of the article in question) generally funny, frequently colorful, and consistently sympathy-free rejoinders. Some of these “false statements deliberately presented as being true”, I’m guilty of using myself. Some, I’ve scoffed upon hearing from others. And some I don’t believe to necessarily be lies at all.

Rather than leave a several-hundred-word comment on Chuck’s post or confine my remarks to my inner circle of beloved hooligans, I figured that the most useful place for my rebuttal would be here, at good ol’ Ever On Word. (What’s a writer’s blog for, after all, if not the occasional writerly rant?) For a full read of the piece that started it all, click here (warning: Comically-meant profanity abounds). For what I’ve got to say about some of those lies, read on.

1. “I Don’t Have Time!”

Yeah, I’ve used this one. And I know, I’ve got just as much time as anybody else: 24 hours a day, give or take Daylight Savings. But hey, why don’t we artistic types get 30 hours a day? We’d make worthy use of them. We do big things for society. We create societies! Where are our special time benefits, hmm? Value the arts!

2. “It’s Okay That I Didn’t Write Today, I’ll Do It Tomorrow!”

I may occasionally tell myself this, but I never believe it. No, the world didn’t end. And one doesn’t have to write every single day, zero exceptions, in order to produce and improve and stave off debilitating creative withdrawal. But if I’ve gone a whole day without writing anything, that only feels “okay” to me in the loosest sense of the word. (But what do I know? I’m a write-oholic.)

3. “I’ll Come Back To This Story After I Write This Other Story!”

According to Chuck’s admittedly made-up stat, 90% of writers who do this won’t go back to that first story. I’m part of the 10% that’s been known to, but even my project switches are few, far between, and done with caution. There are times when you’ll need a break, and times when you’ve just gotta stick with it. Work on determining for yourself which is which for your writing, and forge on ahead accordingly.

4. “Oh Noes, Writer’s Block Again!”

Oh noes, indeed. I get mini-blocked at the beginnings of most chapters. …and sometimes in the middle. …more rarely, the end. Blocks are part of the process for even the most prolific of us (unless there’s someone reading this who never, ever gets stuck in their writing, in which case, give a holler). So write over it, around it, under it, or through it. Take a side street. Take a stick of dynamite to it. Walk away whistling until the block lets its guard down, then jump back in and shout, “Boo!”, thereby giving the block a heart attack and leaving the way wide open for you. Whatever you’ve got to do to get to the other side, do that. Using the block as a pass to dance off and do anything and everything but write, however, will not get that story written any faster.

5. “I Can Only Write When The Muse Allows!”

“Muses help those who help themselves. Trying to write is the best invocation.” – D.E. Shipley

7. “My Characters Are In Control!”

This is no lie.

Or if nothing else, it’s no excuse. Having a bossy minstrel in your head doesn’t give you leave to crank out drivel and lay the blame for it at his door, heavens no. On the contrary, it means that you’ve got to work harder, better, faster, stronger, and write at the tippy-top of your game to please your merciless dragon of a slave-driving client, lest the story you write him not meet his self-interested standards. Trust me, writers: This simply isn’t a lie worth telling.

9. “I Write Only For Me!”

Perfectly valid. Just don’t expect anyone to pay for your stuff if you didn’t at the very least write it with an audience in mind. Getting the words inside of you down on paper is for you, and that’s wonderful. Sharing the words with others is a group activity, and that, too, is wonderful. It’s helpful to know which wonderful is which before some poor third party is forced to read what should have stayed hidden in the deep recesses of your diary.

12. “I Have Nothing More To Learn!”

You’ll learn better. Or you’ll remain smugly ignorant, in which case I probably don’t want to read your book. I actually quite like Chuck’s response to the “Being a writer can’t be taught” lie: “You can be taught. And you can teach yourself.” My personal favorite way to learn to write? Just keep reading and writing – a lot. You’ll look back and see progress, and you will shout “whoo-hoo”.

15. “If I Write It, They Will Come!”

Please don’t believe this. You’ll be very disappointed when you wake up and smell the rejection letters. Oh, wait, no you won’t, because you’ll be too delusional to have sent out queries in the first place. Never mind. Keep your pretty bubble. If you actually want anyone to know you wrote something, though, I’d suggest working to get the word out. The world doesn’t read minds, you know. (All the more reason for them to read awesome writers’ awesome books!)

17. “This Draft Needs To Be Perfect!”

I’d settle for typo-free. If there’s a perfect book out there, I have yet to read it. There are some really super great ones, though. Aim slightly higher than those.

21. “Writing Should Be Easy / Delicious Misery!”

It’s both. Enjoy the ride. (:

The floor is open for further discussion. What sort of lies or truths do you tell yourself to make it through a novel?