Camp Q&A, Part 2: Because I’m So Super Nosy

Previously on Ever On Word, I began peppering the main characters from my next novel (“So Super Dead”) with a series of questions found via the NaNoWriMo blog. Because the questions were so numerous, we broke off about midway – meaning that there’s plenty more questionnaire fun to be had in today’s blog post!


Yes, Annabelle Iole Gray, co-protag and character questionnaire enthusiast from the “Inspired” novels?

“May one of my characters join in, this time?”


“Come on! You said!”

I said ‘possibly next time.’ This isn’t even next time; it’s the second half of last time. But sure, go ahead and pick a character of yours.

“HOORAY! And oh no. I don’t know which one to pick.”

How about Avelaine? These are my “So Super Dead” MCs, after all, and if any of your characters can be said to fit the morbid theme, ‘tis he.

“Valid. All right, let’s do this!”

Moving forward, then, let us welcome once again: the ghost of small-town teen Brenna Walsh; reality TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter; and Nicky “Xtra-Medium” Ellenbogen-Jones, moon mutant/up-and-coming superhero. Also, ‘the boy who dances with death’, Annabelle’s Avelaine.

  1. What’s the 140-character version of your character’s life?

Nicky: “Lol, no. There’s a reason I’m not on Twitter (besides, y’know, my planet having already moved passed it). Nothing I say has a short version.”

(Annabelle: “Fun fact: Counting spaces but not quotation marks, that response totaled 140 characters exactly.”

Author Danielle E. Shipley: #GetOnMyLevel)

  1. What important statistic would they want displayed above them?

Thackeray: “It would really put a crimp in my hunting style, but think of all the lives it would save were I too carry overhead a tally of all the lives I’ve taken.”

Nicky: “You’d want that?”

Thackeray: “…Yes and no.”

  1. What’s the first thing they would buy if they won the lottery?

Brenna: “A house in a better neighborhood. Some big city where vampires are too chicken to prey. Even if it’s too late for me, at least my uncle could get out of the sticks.”

  1. What profession do they most respect?

Avelaine: “Professional muse.”

Annabelle: “What, just because it’s the family business?”

Avelaine: “And an overall underappreciated one, at that.”

  1. What childhood injustice did they never get over?

Brenna: “Does 17 still count as my childhood? Because MURDERED.”

  1. How would they handle having a panic attack?

Thackeray: “Oh, I have mild panic attacks with some frequency. People generally don’t notice, because my conscious coping mechanism is go very inconspicuously still and quiet, lest I tear somebody’s head off their shoulders.”

Nicky: “…Yeah, head-tearing would be a worse coping mechanism.”

  1. Your character is burdened with an inconvenient superpower. What is it?

Nicky: “After waiting 16 years for my power to manifest, I might think even an inconvenient power was worth celebrating. Or I’d feel like the universe was mocking me further. Dunno, it depends how much glass-half-full energy I have to spare that day.”

  1. If they died and could come back as any person, animal, or object, what would they be?

Brenna: “Come back as something other than a ghost, huh? That has consolation prize potential… Could I be a werecat? Either one with total control over my shifting, or one that never shifts – that’s just in huge monster cat form, all the time. That would be mildly epic.”

  1. What’s the best meal they’ve ever had?

Thackeray: “It actually didn’t come out that great, but I nonetheless quite fondly recall the first Passover dinner my stepmom ever put together for us, as a revised family unit. She’d tried really hard to make it special, and for that reason, it was. Though subsequent culinary efforts on her part may have been more technically successful, that’s the one I get nostalgic about.”

  1. Where would they stand at a dinner party?

Avelaine: “Is it a murder mystery invite-only casual dinner party/gala for friends potluck? Because, apart from the social aspect, that could easily be my scene.”

  1. Who would they invite to the dinner party?

Thackeray: “My kid sister.”

Nicky: “My best friend, Boomerang. And any ghosts who wanna hang out.”

Brenna: “Those ghosts do not include me.”

  1. What makes a perfect day for your character?

Nicky: “The more perfect I can make someone else’s day, the closer to perfect mine is.”

  1. If given the opportunity, would they want to know how and when they died?

Avelaine: “ ‘There are worse things than not remembering one’s story. Like knowing how it ends.’ ”

  1. What’s the one thing they’ve always wanted to do? Why haven’t they done it yet?

Thackeray: “I wanted to go to a prestigious college and have the accreditations to back up my know-it-all side. But I guess becoming a reality TV star was the path of least resistance.”

  1. What do they tend to joke about?

Nicky: “Oh, all sorts of corny stuff. Humor tends to lean that way, on the moon.”

  1. What’s off limits?

Thackeray: “It didn’t take long for me to get really, really tired of vampire jokes.”

  1. Whose wedding would they cross the world to attend? Whose funeral?

Brenna: “I hope Thackeray Kyle tries to get married, so I can rain all kinds of poltergeist wrath down on his marital parade.”

Nicky: “First of all, that’s not great, Brenna. Second, I should really start making a point of going to funerals. Who knows how many recently deceased could use someone to talk to?”

Thackeray: “Third things third: The odds of me getting married are immeasurably low.”

  1. What impossible choice did they make that turned out to be the right one? The wrong one?

Thackeray: “My choices have been neither impossible nor right. Only drastic.”

  1. Your character now has a hype man (or woman). What would they say to get everyone excited about your character?

Thackeray: “This very much sounds like Nicky’s job.”

Brenna: “Yeah, moon freak. What would you say?”

Nicky: “Dudes. I talked about you guys for an entire novel. What more am I supposed to do?”

Avelaine: “Nothing. Factually, hype is the author’s job.”

Danielle: *looks out at the audience* How am I doing?

And oh, would you look at the word count. Methinks it’s time to call this post a wrap.

“But there’s still 11 questions to go!”

Which is exactly what next time is for. Don’t worry, Annabelle, you’re welcome to join us once again – as I certainly hope this blog post’s readers will. ‘Til then, let’s end on a word from our sponsor…

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – coming this fall!

The end of the Camp NaNo character Q&A – coming in some future blog post!


Camp Q&A, Part 1: We Are So Super Doing This

This past month – *waves back at April* – was the year’s first Camp NaNoWriMo. (There’s another camp session happening in July, in case anyone’s interested in signing up. ^o^) And somewhere in there, I came across a character questionnaire—

“Did someone say ‘character questionnaire’?!”

Yes, Annabelle Iole Gray of the “Inspired” novels, I did indeed say that.

“Fun and a half! Where’d you find the questions?”

Fittingly enough, on the NaNoWriMo blog.

“Can I be the one to A the Qs? Ooh, or one of my characters?”

Actually, I was thinking I’d bring in the main trio from my camp project.

“Which was…?”

The refining of my Fall 2018 novel.

“Ah. Okay. I guess that’s… allowed. Just keep us in mind for next time, will ya?”

I shall strive so to do. Now, let’s see what kind of answers we can pry out of Brenna Walsh, Thackeray Kyle, and Nicky Ellenbogen-Jones – the big three of “So Super Dead”!

  1. What does your character do when they think no one’s looking?

Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter: “Kill people.”

(Annabelle, in the background: *spit take*)

  1. What’s the one thing your character would save in a fire (beyond the necessities)?

The ghost of Brenna Walsh: “Would’ve been nice if I could’ve saved my parents.”

(Annabelle: “Well, dang.”)

  1. Who’s on speed dial?

Nicky, aka superhero Xtra-Medium: “Dead people, mostly.”

(Annabelle: “Okay. I’m getting it. This book’s got a theme.”

Brenna: “<_< Did you not read the title?”)

  1. Your character gets turned down for their dream job. What’s their second choice?

Nicky: “If I can’t make a career out of talking to ghosts, there’s always… um… real estate agency? I dunno why that’s the first thing that came to mind, but I mean, I could do worse.”

  1. What would they tell their ten-year-old self?

Thackeray: “ ‘Find a non-vampire-related hobby. Just… trust me on this.’ ”

  1. Where would they want to go on a first date?

Brenna: “First, ew. Second, 24-Hour Pancakes. Third, no.”

  1. What’s the best advice they’ve ever received?

Thackeray: “ ‘Find a non-vampire-related hobby.’ Sorry, Dad. Maybe if you’d been me from the future, I’d have listened.”

  1. What’s the worst advice they’ve ever received?

Brenna: “I’ve lost track. Grownups are always giving crap advice. It’s like they think I care.”

  1. What’s one physical detail they’d change about themselves?

Nicky: “I, ah, well… if I could maybe have, um, one or another kind of standard reproduction system, that would be… special.”

  1. When was the last time they were held? By who?

Nicky: “Oh, my best friend hugs me all the time. He’s demonstrative, like that.”

  1. What’s their favorite thing about their favorite season?

Thackeray: “Winter is quiet. Muted colors. Muffled sound. Nature half in hibernation. I find it restful in a way the rest of the year can’t match. Figures the novel takes place in summer.”

  1. Their wallet gets stolen. What do they do?

Brenna: “Before or after my life got stolen from me?”

Author Danielle E. Shipley: …Before?

Brenna: “In that case, I hate humanity.”

(Annabelle: “My money says that’s her ‘after’ answer, too.”)

  1. Prioritize: Love, money, power, knowledge?

Thackeray: “Knowledge.”

Nicky: “The power of love!”

Brenna: “Waffles.”

  1. What’s something nobody knows about them?

Nicky: “Who my birth parents are, and why they abandoned me and my phone as an infant. Like, the book doesn’t look into it, but low key, you know I’ve got questions.”

  1. What’s in their fridge?

Thackeray: “Whatever my camera crew wants. They’re the ones with opinions on the matter.”

  1. What (creature, object, substance) are they most disgusted by?

Brenna: “Thackeray Kyle.”

(Thackeray: “Way to steal my answer.”)

  1. What’s their second worst habit?

Nicky:Second worst? Um, well, if the first is my tendency to chatter too much, I guess the second would be negative self-talk.”

Brenna: “So… both of your worst habits are talking.”

Nicky: “I’m consistent?”

  1. What are the victory conditions for their life?

Brenna: “There is no winning at life. We’ll see how the rules change once you’re dead.”

  1. In the end, your character fails to save the day. Assuming they survive, what do they do?

Nicky: “See Worst Habit #2. I’ll also probably get ice cream.”

  1. Your character is charged with a crime they didn’t commit. What do they do?

Brenna: “Canonically? Get murdered.”

  1. Your character is charged with a crime they did commit. What was the crime?

Thackeray: “Well, shoot. Sounds like someone found out what I do when no one’s looking.”

And on that full circular note, we’ll pause so as to prevent this post from going on for twice as long. Thanks for what cooperation you had to give, “So Super Dead” peeps! We’ll continue with the questionnaire another day. ‘Til then, let’s remind our audience (of however many plus Annabelle) of the novel’s summary:

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – coming this fall!

The rest of the Camp NaNo character Q&A – coming in some future blog post!

Beautiful Books (and the Big Ideas Behind Them)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Beautiful Books Meme

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

I enjoyed taking part in the Beautiful People meme, that one time in August, and I’ve enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month several times, though not this year. Fortunately, you don’t need a NaNo project to take part in Beautiful Books. Any story in progress will do. So I’m jumping in with my debut novel, scheduled to re-release in a brand new edition, March of next year – “Inspired”!


Cover w Text 06.3, front

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve got brainstorming notes on the earliest iterations of “Inspired” going back to May 2011, and the first draft came out over the following December. The spark behind it all started around the NaNo before, when my (brand new, at the time!) best friend and I created the Stranger Than Truth club. Originally, the novel was going to feature not just one author navigating the fictional realm, but two, imagining in tandem. And there’s still room for that to happen, if I ever get around to a sequel centering on that. I just felt there was a lot of groundwork to lay down first.

Describe what your novel is about!

Happy days – I’ve got a blurb ready. ^o^

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.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Oh, the “Inspired” gallery on my website may have a few applicable images…

PhotoFunia-Luc and Jean

Inspired, Only the Beginning, 02

Inspired Avengers

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Whoof, there’s a lot, so let’s restrict it to three words each:

Lucianíel = That lightbulb moment

Abishan = Just… total cat

Wilbur = Chivalrous sweetie pie

Uri = Entirely judging you

Yves= Smol, with secrets

Annabelle = Danielle E. Shipley

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Step 1 = Talk to myself in a Word document until I’ve got a fairly solid idea of the book’s shape.

Step 2 = Outline chapter by chapter, to ensure every puzzle piece gets slotted in somewhere.

Sometimes, Step 3 (or 1-and-a-half, or at whatever point on the list I feel thus compelled) = Ask the characters questions so that I can begin to hear their voices in the answers.

Cover 2 w Text, front

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Since it’s already been written and published once, at this point I’m just eager to have it back on the market again – and with such a beautiful new face! Plus this time, it comes out with a sequel. I’m always excited to give the world something brand new to read. ^o^

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Oh, perfect, ‘cause there are three different settings.

1 = The Material Plane – aka, the real world. Like Annabelle’s home, inspired by the house where Childhood Me used to visit my dad’s family over Thanksgiving.

2 = The Immaterial Plane – aka, the world of imagination. Where muses live, and where some characters may choose to hang out, if they’re self-aware enough to know they’ve got an author’s mind to roam.

3 = Book Worlds. The intersection of material and immaterial. Fictional, yes, but no less real to the people who inhabit the story. One of “Inspired”s special charms is that it offers a glimpse into several.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Boiled down to one word, Luc’s main goal = security. In this, Annabelle is both a tool and an obstacle, because while she’s willing to be the author for Luc and his loved ones, she’s basically just in it for the fun. Clash of motivations. Expect fireworks.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Nothing like putting in the time on the craft to mature an artist! Not that Annabelle doesn’t still have plenty of growing up to do by novel’s end, but you can see she’s getting there.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Themes… How ideas are planted… How stories grow… How people can blossom, with a little help from their friends – real, imaginary, and in between… As for how I want readers to feel at novel’s end, how else? Of course I want them to walk away inspired.


And that is that! Related note: I am currently seeking folks interested in providing an early read ‘n’ review of “Inspired”. Is that you? Talk to me!

Over, out, and good luck to any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year. ^o^

I Quit; Here’s Why

As of November 6th, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I signed up because it’s tradition – as much a part of my Novembers as going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

I signed up because I always think back to my first NaNo in 2010. The rush of the race. The camaraderie on the forums. The blessing of making my Avalon outlaws’ acquaintance.

I signed up because I said I would. I said it because I felt I had to. Felt like I needed someone’s permission not to participate, or a Valid Reason™ not to.

Well, I’m giving myself permission, and declaring my reasons’ validity.


I quit because this year, my heart doesn’t have the energy to throw its whole self into a project of any ambition.

I quit because over the first less-than-a-week of this year’s NaNo, I started stories that I quickly became too scared to continue, because how could I give them the tender attention they needed in the scant hours between the new day job and bedtime?

I quit because the NaNo numbers game is not playing well with my depression, and does not suit my process right now.

I quit because I’d rather let myself fall in love with a few hundred words every day – or every two days, or a few days here and there with a rest in between – than miserably churn out thousands of words I don’t have the wherewithal to care about.

I quit because, if I can’t relax into writing, then for the sake of my mental, emotional, and physical health, I really need to let myself find that rejuvenating downtime somewhere else.

I quit this arbitrary writing deadline so that instead I can read and color, play music and play with my nephew, take walks through autumn’s glory, and maybe sometimes just do nothing – all without a self-imposed burden of guilt.

I quit because, contrary to my anxiety’s belief, I don’t actually have anything to prove by forcing myself on.

I quit because I already know I have the discipline to make myself finish NaNo. Now it’s time to exercise one of my weaker strengths: The strength to say “no” and walk away.

I quit because, just as you can come out of a NaNo a winner even without hitting 50K, there are ways to lose even if you do.

So auf Wiedersehen, NaNoWriMo. Maybe next year. Peace out.

(Emphasis, I hope, on peace.)

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…

Black and White and Red[Eye] All Over

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

FB Status Screenshot, RedEye Interview

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

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

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

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

So, Wow. THAT Happened. (A Tale of NaNoWriMo in Three Acts)


2014: The year I mean to see my way to the conclusion of the Wilderhark Tales. The first new Wilderhark Tale I’ve written in years, the others close to completed when I decided to take the plunge and publish. For the first time, I’m working under the burden of expectation, and in the countdown leading up to the event’s start, the pressure was driving me nuts, to the point where I said to myself, “Y’know what? Screw this. The only way to be less nonsensically afraid of this thing is to just start writing it. And NaNo is not the boss of you. Now’s neither the time nor the place to be the punctilious rule-follower you’ve ever been. Put on your writer pants and seize the day!”

So on Wednesday, October 29th, I branded myself a NaNo Rebel by starting work on the book’s opening chapter.

My fifth NaNoWriMo, you are the one I reclaimed as my own.

– “NaNoWriMo, What Are You to Me?

Act One

There are some beasts you can face down simply by demonstrating you’re not afraid of them.

And then there’s Gant-o’-the-Lute.

Yes, the minstrel in blue introduced in Book Three and spotlighted in Book Four takes center stage once again in the Wilderhark Tales’ grand finale. And though there were some entertaining highlights along the way, neither of us went easy on the other for this one.

Those who follow along on my author page on Facebook had pretty good seats for the drama.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 1

As one could easily gather from my real-time updates, Book Seven’s been an emotional punch to the face. People who would otherwise assume that a Danielle E. Shipley fairytale series must by necessity have a happy-ever-after ending, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But by Barry Manilow, I made it through the rain. Draft one of the novella = completed. Which left me without only about twenty thousand words to go…

Act Two

The following quotes have been lifted directly from a message thread between me and an anonymous friend.

Me: Seriously. I need to decide what I’m doing after this book runs out. I thought about whipping out some Wilderhark short stories, buuuuuut I’m kind of feeling Wilderharked out, right now, what with all the feels I’ve been going through in that world for the past dozen days. I want something easy. Something fast.

Will Scarlet: Sounds like a job foooooor…!

Me: Pfft. You always want me to write about you. … I don’t want to plan anything, ‘cause planning is work. But when I jump in without a plan, angels lose their wings.

Will Scarlet: It’s only 20K. You can dash off 20K like NOTHING if you just turn your brain off and type. Could be fun. Could be cathartic. How ‘bout a fanfic of your life? I could feature in that, hintity-hint.

Me: That idea is dumb. But it also sounds like a lot of stupid crazy fun.

Spoiler alert: It was all those things. For a happy-go-lucky quartet of days, I babble-typed to myself about what I expect would happen if Will Scarlet were to become an actual physical presence in my life. This is the first NaNo I ever let myself write something with zero expectation of ever charging anyone money for the finished product, which for me, slave to arguably useful pursuits that I am, is actually kind of a zany big deal. And who knows? I might be persuaded to share pieces of the story on this blog, sometime. I mean, if there’s an interest.


Besides yours, Will.

Act Three

And then, out of the blue—


Pardon – out of the scarlet… this happened.

Me: Every time I happen across the info for [this] one publisher’s upcoming short story competition, I think, “Man, I wish I knew the first thing about writing steampunk.” … I do have one idea that I might be able to make work… I’m just chicken to try. ‘Cause visualizing the fancy trappings is hard for me. Plus I’m still psychologically wrung-out from my last book.

“Tell you what, D,” Will says – which always makes me hopeful/nervous, ‘cause he’s about to make me do a thing… “Pause on your Will Scarlet fanfic, and we’ll work on drafting a steampunk submission.”

You’ve all met Will Scarlet, right? So I don’t even have to tell you how big— nay, HUGE of him it was to do that. At that point, I basically had no choice.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 2

And, in an instance of exquisite symmetry, this short story idea begun on November 15, twenty-fourteen was a new manifestation of my old nemesis of a project begun on November 15, twenty-twelve – a tale that, I quickly discovered in this latest attempt to finally see it through to the end, has the same mulish soul it ever did.

NaNo '14, the View from FB 3

Little did this story know, I had a few new tricks up my sleeve.

1 = I’d lowered my goal from a novel to a short story, cutting out all the parts I’d never fully figured out anyway in favor of focusing in on that one piece of the story that I haven’t been able to give up on for the last two years.

2 = The imminence and narrowness of the story competition’s submission window served as concrete motivation to wrestle this thing onto the page once and for all.

3 = Oh, silly project, have you not heard? This NaNo is mine. KNEEL BEFORE YOUR MASTERMAID.

“Pretty sure megalomania isn’t a new trick for you, Danielle.”

But it got the job done, Will, and that is what counts.


As of November 16, I have ripped out my heart for Wilderhark, had a field day with my imaginary BFF, throttled my two-pronged fear of steampunk and a punk of a story, and, incidentally, written over 50,000 words.

NaNo-wise, it’s been a year for the books. ;D

Muse Mug 02.2
I’ll drink to that. …in my new NaNoWriMo mug that’s so perfectly me, it’s not even funny.