I Memed a Meme, This Tag Gone By

December was my hiatus month as far as writing blog posts was concerned, but it didn’t stop me reading the blog posts of others. For example, this “Les Mis Character Tag” post by The Story Sponge, in which song titles from the “Les Miserables” musical demanded matching to character types found throughout literature.

Me being a lover of both books and musicals – (which would go some way toward explaining why so many of my books end up sprinkled with original song numbers) – of course I want to play! And so I shall, featuring characters from all over Danielle E. Shipley canon. (Because that sort of self-indulgent fun is my reward for having put like 15+ books out into the world.)

les mis gif, revolution
This tag’s semi-related, bro. Be chill.

First, the tag rules:

– Acknowledge the human/dragon/sponge that tagged you (tagged my own self, so check!)

– Acknowledge the sponge that created the tag (check, and kudos to you, Story Sponge!)

– Tag as many people as you so desire (check, because if you’re reading this and want to play, consider yourself tagged!)

Now, let the games being!

1) “Valjean’s soliloquy” (a character who’s whole view of the world undergoes a dramatic shift)

Sun's Rival Cover, frontFor this, I’m going with Ionquin Wyle, Crown Prince of Denebdeor. Yes, I could have just as easily chosen Princess Laraspur, the sister with whom he adventures in their life-changing story, “The Sun’s Rival” (Wilderhark Tales, Book 5). But for all that Laraspur’s worldview is rocked just as hard, it’s Ionquin who has the harder time coping with all they’ve discovered and trying to reconcile it to his future as a king. His struggle extends well into Book 6, and I’m not honestly sure he’s 100% recovered by Book 7. Sometimes your head just stays blown your whole life long.

2) “I Dreamed a Dream” (a character who never seems to have any good luck whatsoever)

I’d like to think I’m pretty nice about letting my characters catch the occasional lucky break in their otherwise harrowing lives. But wouldn’t you know, I get called out in text (in “Deathsong of the Deep”, coming February 14th!) about how Narles Semsen, jack of all trades aboard the Painted Lady, ends up with a pretty short end of the stick.

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

“Crow’s said he’s fought with fireworks before,” [said Molly].

“And got half a score of pirates killed,” said Anafrid.

“At least most of those dead pirates were his enemies.”

“And seared the color vision out of Semsen’s eyes.”

“That part was unfortunate,” Molly conceded.

Anafrid’s eyes rolled up into the downpour. “If any of the rest of us survive Crow’s madness along with him, it will be because we’ve breathed enough of his air to catch his luck. I don’t hold high hope for the temporary hands.”

/And I can only hope a few weeks aboard the Lady have been enough for me,/ Molly thought. If she had suspected it meant the difference between her life and death, she would have made plans to join the crew sooner. Well, perhaps sharing a boat with the captain during the battle to come would tip the balance in her favor. Or cost her part of her vision. Or her face.

Sticking close to Crow hadn’t proven particularly lucky for Semsen.

So, there you have it. I am a good author more than I am a nice one. Apologies, Mr. Semsen.

3) “Fantine’s Arrest” (a character who just makes your skin crawl)

Legend cover 02, front

Thaaat would be Sir Guy of Gisborne from “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 3). Scary. Evil. Dangerous. Also, creepy. Let’s not talk about him. Unless you’ve already read the book. In which case, let us whimper in harmony.

4) “The Bargain/The Waltz of Treachery” (a character who is a master of manipulation)

Surrogate Sea cover, front

No contest: This one goes to Austeryn, the South Wind of The Wilderhark Tales. “The Surrogate Sea” (Book 6) testifies to how far – and how sneakily – he’ll go to achieve his plans, to say nothing of his part in that one short story in “The Sky-Child” (Book 6.5). You don’t need a sorting hat (or *cough* to have ever read “Harry Potter” *cough*) to know he’s 300% Slytherin. Watch your back in the fog, my friends.

5) “Stars” (a villain with a convincing motivation)

In the ‘antihero’ category? Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter. We all know why we does what he does. It’s very much “cool story, still murder”, but how many of us would honestly do any better, were we living his “So Super Dead” life?

In the ‘not villainous but dangerous’ category? Mach Jenius, Brainstorm. Our boy’s not out to hurt anybody in “Out of My Head” (Inspired 2), but darned if he couldn’t end up destroying a few lives anyway in his entirely relatable quest for belonging.

In the ‘actual villain category’, Lord Swanton, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. I completely get where he’s coming from. I, too, would lose patience with peasants who’d rather cheer for Robin Hood than just quietly pay their taxes. But that’s because I have a villainous streak that cares more about the world following my rules than about people. Sooooo, nobody elect me your sheriff, okay? Okay.

6) “Do you Hear the People Sing?” (a character who inspires other people)

The obvious answer? Lucianíel from “Inspired”. The light elemental’s a muse, after all.

But I can’t not mention King Arthur Pendragon. “The Once and Future Camelot” (everyone remember that magical cover?!?! would not exist without him, because like 9 out of 10 major players in the book can point back to Arthur as his or her motivation. Noble deeds, nefarious doings… Arthur inspires a lot.

7) “Little People” (a little character with a whole lot of spunk)

arcane-arts-coverIf we’re talking “no small parts, only stories with small word counts”, how ‘bout the soul of Kid from “The Dark Siren”? He’s quite the child, considering he’s basically a ghost. Inquisitive, audacious, and none too shy about expressing his feelings. Also sort of a necromancer, but it’s complicated.

8) “Bring Him Home” (a character who is sacrificially protective)

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Um, Rowan “Row” Charles in “Our Hungering Hearts” only gave up his entire plane of reality to look after his best friend. He went from living in a magical dream world to battling a lousy job market in the name of love. Your fave could never.

9) “Javert’s Suicide” (an extremely conflicted character)

Once we’re really into the deep end of “Deathsong”, Molly Worth’s got a massive dilemma on her hands. Which song of her heart should she follow? Do the ends she feels owed justify the means divinely set before her?? Ought she fight her way back to Hot Guy #1, or is Hot Guy #2 her inescapable destiny??? (I’m joking! JOKING! The moral quandary far outweighs any romantic subplottery, I swear!)

10) “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (an impossibly lonely character)

My kneejerk answer would be Allyn-a-Dale – not least because he totally wrote a grieving parody of this very song, once, which I may or may not someday make public. But truth be told, ‘lonely’ is not the word for Allyn. It is the word, during one time or another, for the people he’s closest to. His father, for one, lived a low-key very lonely life. His best friend, for another, felt unspeakably isolated. And then there’s [name redacted], which of the three examples given here is actually Allyn’s fault, but that’s a story for a book as yet unpublished, so nothing more to see here!

And that is that! Les Mis Character Tag: Accomplished.

les mis gif, valjean approves

If any of you decide to play along in a post of your own, feel free to share the link with me so I can check it out! And whether you think all my character match-ups were spot on or would have better gone to somebody else I wrote, you can tell me all about it in the comments.

~ ‘Til next time, mes amis ^_^

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Deeper into the Deathsong

Welcome back to the first-ever coming together of the Stranger-Than-True Book Club – an assortment of Deshipley characters joined in discussion about, in this instance, Danielle’s upcoming high-seas fantasy “Deathsong of the Deep”. I’m your merry moderator, Lady Marion Hood, of Outlaws of Avalon fame. To read Part One of the club meeting, click here. Now, on to Part Two. Laraspur, I believe you wanted in particular to gush about the relationships?

stt book club logo

Laraspur (Princess of Denebdeor/Queen of Welken, from The Wilderhark Tales): I did, and I do! I could go on about them for ages, but I’ll try to stay succinct. My first favorite pair, of course, is Molly and Crow. I love watching their estimations of each other develop over the course of time and conversation and adventure.

Uri (skater girl and Fire of God, from the “Inspired” novels): Time, conversation, and adventure – the holy trinity behind half your Wilderhark romances.

Nicky (genderless super ghost-whisperer, from “So Super Dead”): Well, any relationship that doesn’t have conversation behind it can’t hope to go far. The “Deathsong” characters seem pretty good about talking to each other, though. …Excepting maybe Blue Gracie, who’s more the type to only speak when it won’t communicate too much. Y’know how magical, mystical characters be like.

Lar: Speaking of Blue Gracie, I also very much enjoyed her relationship with Crow. Something about the way they wanted to be present together, even if neither one was in a real position to do much for the other. A sweet and a sad sort of caring.

Lucianíel (light elemental, muse, and fictional father figure, from the “Inspired” novels): There was quite a variety of caring to be found aboard the Painted Lady. Crow’s, often cavalier and inexpert. Anafrid’s, austere but dependable…

Lar: Oh, it was nice watching Anafrid care for Blue Gracie! Unlike Crow, Anafrid didn’t even seem to get anything out of it. She was just being kind.

U: Being kind, or flirting?

N: Anafrid didn’t come off the least bit flirty to me.

U: We don’t know how they flirt in Sjorda.

Luc: There’s nothing definitive in text about whether Anafrid is attracted to women, to men, or to no one at all. Subtextually, though, one could make inferences.

Marion: Speaking of Sjorda, what think we of the countries and cultures created specially for “Deathsong”?

Luc: Well, Danielle didn’t spend a great deal of page space delving into any of them. Even so, what little time she devoted to painting pictures of Sjorda’s cold (environmentally and culturally), Chesney’s shallow beauty, and the coarse, homely character of Hornwhal’s Lower Lee did much toward hinting at a convincingly diverse world.

N: Don’t forget the seafaring culture that fascinated Molly so hard. You could peg her for a water girl long before she ever ditched the land.

Lar: Just like Jessica! – Molly and Jessica being another favorite pairing of mine, by the way.

M: I do love me a womance in fiction.

U: A what now?

M: Womance. Female equivalent of bromance. Gal pals to the next level – like, I don’t know, you and Gabriel, or… are there any Wilderhark examples, Lar?

Lar: I’d say Father and Millyanna, but one’s a man.

M: Ah, well. In any case, yes, Molly and Jessica were proper mates. Really, it’s a bit remarkable the number of relationships Molly considered equally important to the one between her and Crow. First her and Jessica, then her and little Johnny…

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

Lar: SO precious!

U: It’s like girl protagonists have space to have friends and be mothering and obsess over sea monsters and fall for the male lead. Who knew?

N: My book’s girl protagonist didn’t have space for any of that. I guess afterlife vengeance quests take up a lot of bandwidth.

M: So I’d imagine. Any more favorite relationships, Laraspur, before we move on for good?

Lar: Murdoch and Crow gave me feelings, and, I don’t know, I’m glad Semsen has Anafrid, since she seems to be the only one who halfway sees him.

Luc: I expect that’s because Crow’s shame has stopped him looking.

M: Quick question for each of you: If you had to pick one, would you rather be a seiren, a mershade, or one of the seal folk?

U: If Dis were my goddess? Definitely a seiren. The power of flight and a voice made for vengeance. I’m practically qualified already.

Lar: I’d far rather be a mershade and rescue sailors in need. …Even though it means I’d have to die first.

N: Hey wait, does that mean I’d be like the only regular person who could talk to mershades whenever we want to, not just if I’m about to drown?

U: You’re never regular, but maybe.

N: Cool! In any case, I’d pick being a mershade, too. Superhero ghost mermaids for the win!

Luc: I’ve not been shown enough about the lifestyle of seal men to know how well it would suit me. As for the lifestyle of a death creature like a seiren, it’s all a bit too centered around destruction, for my taste. I suppose that leaves the afterlife of a mershade for me, as well.

M: I expect I would love being part of a seal folk community. And fair warning to the men of land: You try to touch my skin without permission, you get knifed.

Lar: Even in an AU where the land man is Robin Hood and his motives are nobler than his methods?

M: Depending on how well he could explain himself, I might apologize afterward for the stabbing. One more item, now, if we can squeeze it in: The plot. What elements of “Deathsong”s storyline grabbed you?

N: I’m hyped on the way Molly makes things happen. Like, her goals are always perfectly personal – nothing ‘world-saving huge’ about them – but when she wants a thing and a chance of getting it comes within reach, she jumps for it, no matter how crazy that chance looks on paper.

Luc: I appreciate the sharp turn it all takes, halfway through. The drastic change Molly undergoes. The sudden costs Crow has to face. Suddenly, it all goes deeper – again, ‘environmentally and’.

N: And just like that, it’s Kraken time for real!

U: I think it’s interesting how long it takes to figure out what’s up with the Aglatha arc. We hear this thing from one source, that thing from another, a contradiction further up the road, and then by the end it’s like… dang, that’s messed up. As is Crow, the more comes to light. It’s actually terrible, the stuff Danielle just puts her imaginary people through.

Luc: One could argue that it’s no intention of Danielle’s. Some authors… well, they are to their stories as her best minstrels are to their songs: The art isn’t fashioned, only found. And Crow’s backstory, alas, is one easily enough found outside of fiction.

Lar: I just love how everything comes together in the end. I don’t know whether one could call it a fairytale ending, but the deathsong’s closing notes hit me like a proper finale.

M: And on that closing note, thank you, you four, for making this book club discussion a fictional reality. And thank you, readers of the blog, for stowing away for the ride. 😉 Feel free to bring your own addition to the discourse in the comments, and forget ye not: “Deathsong of the Deep” is sailing your way, just one short month from now!

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Let’s Get #KrakenBook

Hello, everyone! Lady Marion Hood, here, to lead a new and exciting venture that entered Danielle’s imagination when she meant to be working on something else – because isn’t that just how the creative mind works?

Any readers who’ve kept up with the Ever On Word blog for a few years – (or who’ve explored the blog’s pages on a whim) – may recall a somewhat short-lived feature called the Stranger Than Truth Club, in which Danielle, Tirzah, and a variable number of their respective fictional friends came together to talk at each other until the authors found something quotable. The posts were good fun to create, but too much of a collaborative effort to keep up with any regularity. So since the club name has gone so long out of use, I am stealing it (in true outlaw fashion) for a same-but-different sort of club. In specific, the Stranger-Than-True Book Club! A collection of Deshipley characters come to converse on, in today’s case, Danielle’s soon-to-be-released #KrakenBook, “Deathsong of  the Deep”.

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

First, the book’s summary:

Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

Second, a brief introduction to the members of the club. Will everyone please state your name, your story world, and your role within it? Starting with you, Your Highness, then going ‘round clockwise.

stt book club - laraspurLar: Oh! As you like. Hello, I’m Laraspur, from the Wilderhark Tales – daughter of Queen Rosalba and King Edgwyn Wyle of Denebdeor, protagonist of “The Sun’s Rival”, and … something of a literal star of the heavens, by the end of things.

Uri, croppedU: The literal end of things. Been there. What up, I’m Uri from the “Inspired” novels. Skater girl, avenging angel, occasional clique leader of amateur author Annabelle Iole Gray’s character crew, when this guy’s not there to call the shots.

stt book club - lucLuc: ‘This guy’ being me – Lucianíel, elemental of light, principle muse to Annabelle, and co-guardian of our precious fictional children.

PowerPuff NickyN: Heya, I’m Nicky Ellenbogen-Jones, aka Xtra-Medium, from Danielle’s recent paranormal publication, “So Super Dead”. Mutant teen from the moon. Pronouns, s/he and himmer. Superpower, talking to dead people; in, like, a therapeutic way.

stt book club - marionM: And once again, I’m Marion, of Robin Hood’s Merry Men from Avalon Faire. I basically smile and try to keep the band from falling apart. Not always easy, that.

StT Book Club Logo.png
N: Aw man, we’re logo-official? Sweet!
U: How much time did the author waste, making this?
Luc: Time spent in creation is never wasted.
M: Like an hour, though.
Lar: Well spent. ^_^

M: Now then! Onto the book discussion. First impressions of “Deathsong of the Deep”. Go!

N: Cool title! The death part. Like, is that a thing, with Danielle? Books full of death?

U: I mean, she did kill off my original author in the first few pages of “Inspired”. Not to mention the whole “Manta and the Mask” sub-story therein.

Lar: There’s not as much death to be found in the Wilderhark stories. But then, it’s a fairytale world. And on the other hand, the last book of the series was… Never mind. Death is everywhere.

Luc: Coming back to your opening question, Marion, I would call “Deathsong” an unusual book, even for Danielle. For one thing, she built the world herself, as opposed to her favored method of piggybacking off of established fairy tales, legends, or her own life. Even “So Super Dead” took place largely in a world like hers, just add vampires, werecats, superhuman moon colony, etc. “Deathsong” has its own geography and mythology, only borrowing fantasy creature types from various cultures to populate a wild new sea. It’s a different sort of creativity, for her, and the end result is… perhaps slightly profound.

U: I’m not a huge fan of her making up a sea goddess for it, but I get it. She was going through some stuff. Depression, exhaustion, theological disappointment. If she needed a bogus deity to help unpack and illustrate her dark night of the soul, I guess that’s what art is for.

M: Favorite characters, anyone?

Lar: Molly Worth is a treat! Sort of solemn but witty at the same time. Indomitable, and so deeply caring. She’d make a worthy princess, if she didn’t live on such a different story path.

Luc: I’d say a number of the characters exhibit a complexity I like. Each member of Captain Crow’s crew has a face they show and a passion they carry closer. Some of the passions get explored in text more thoroughly than others, but one can tell we’re dealing with people, not one-dimensional caricatures. If anything, I’m most intrigued by Anafrid, simply because we know the least about her.

U: I like Jessica. Not that I would probably want to spend much time with her, but I appreciate her heart’s devotion.

N: I— um, is it weird that I wanna say Kraken? ‘Cause, like, I get that he’s a monster, but…

U: But that’s your type.

N: I don’t have a type! I just… Part of him is dead, right? His humanity died. So he’d maybe eat me, but I’d wanna talk to him first.

M: I, for one, am here for Murdoch. Fun, friendly…

Lar: Plus-size positive!

M: …That! And a woman of color, to boot. If the crew of the Painted Lady were the Merry Men, Murdoch would easily be the Marion.

N: Ooh, ooh, who would everybody else be?

U: Anafrid = Little John, no contest.

M: They are both second-in-command and tall. Anafrid talks more than Little John, but then, who doesn’t? As for Captain Crow… not sure. He’s in charge like Robin, and has a not entirely dissimilar charm, but then he flashes that flirtatious smile that hides a tortured mind and hurting heart, and all you can think is ‘Will Scarlet’.

Lar: Father would love to design his coats. The style skews feminine, and womenswear has long been a favorite of the famed tailor-king.

N: Do we have an Allyn-a-Dale?

U: That would be Gracie – the mystery pulled in from out of nowhere who isn’t more than they seem, just more than anyone can name for certain, for a while. Also, blue.

N: Oh, yeah. That’d actually be blatant, if she’d done it on purpose.

Luc: Danielle has certainly done her share of blatant character copying. That is, as she’s readily admitted, the deliberate conceit behind the cast of “Inspired”. And if anything, Captain Crow is as much begotten of Wilderhark’s Gant-o’-the-Lute as am I. Blue Gracie, however, was based predominately on her author.

N: And I’m not seeing a match at all for Semsen.

U: Semsen doesn’t have half enough ‘merry’ in him for the Sherwood crowd. He wouldn’t make the worst knight in Camelot, though.

M: Well, this discussion is delightful, but also running long. What do you think, fellows? Should we break off and make it a two-parter? Come back next week?

N: I’m for that!

U: Why, is there more to say?

Lar: Is there! We haven’t even touched upon all the relationships! Or the locations, the magical creatures, the plot! We certainly must come back for that, if Danielle’s willing to host us again.

Luc: And why would she not be? Her characters posting in her stead is her favorite way to blog.

M: Then it’s settled. Characters, take five. And readers, take seven days. The Stranger-Than-True Book Club will return with further insights on “Deathsong of the Deep”. Stay tuned! Leave comments! And farewell!

Camelot [Cover] Revealed

Welcome to the beginning of 2019, and to the return of Ever On Word’s regularly scheduled blog posts! My December hiatus was much needed and much enjoyed, but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things as we count down to the release of my nautical fantasy novel, “Deathsong of the Deep”.

Deathsong Proof 1.0

As per my usual, the back pages of the book will include a teaser for the next novel on deck – in this case, the blurb and cover of what I’ve been long referring to as #CamelotWIP. But who wants to wait for “Deathsong”s release to begin the Camelot hype, when I can instead reveal both cover and blurb right here and now? Not me! So, if you’re ready to know just what #CamelotWIP’s all about, prithee read on.

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

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

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

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

And do truly great enemies ever die?

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

And…

 

now…

 

the..

 

cover:

 

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

 

HUUUUUUUUUUGE props to the cover’s illustrator, Dariana Loki! Just… how often do a book’s cover and the story vibe inside it match so perfectly? The gravitas of Excalibur… The intriguing quality of the hand that holds it… The duality of the kingdom, straddling time… It’s all there in a thousand words’ equivalence. But so many more thousands of words still wait to be shared, and the necessary delay between the ‘once’ of my writing them and the ‘future’ of their publication is KILLING ME.

Top Reasons I Can’t Wait to Publish This Book:

– You ever have a character make a throwaway comment in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, only to realize half-a-decade later that HOLY HEAVENFIRE, that’s actually a mind-blowing piece of #CamelotWIP foreshadowing? Because that’s what happened to this author, and I swear, sometimes I’m convinced my imagination be like:

When Have I Ever Told You Anything

– Most of my books have been written in the closest approximation of silence I could get, but #CamelotWIP has demanded a soundtrack from the first. Not only did I require random “2 hours of relaxing [faux-Medieval and forest-Fey-like] music” videos ‘n’ such replaying on YouTube while drafting…

Debt to Music

…but there are a heck ton of songs that never fail to put me in a Camelot mood – predominant among them, the works of Heather Dale, Fall Out Boy, and Imagine Dragons. For the first time, I’ll have a playlist to share! And I am eager.

– I’ll also get to release an Allyn-a-Dale song I haven’t yet been able to share in public because #spoilers. I’ve already got the chords down on my lute, so now it’s just a matter of outlasting the usual waiting games of the publishing biz until I can post a video.

– You may have thought you sorta-kinda met Avalon Faire’s Camelot crowd in my “Outlaws” series. Or you may have more rightly thought you weren’t getting much of a sense of their true selves at all. In any case, the time is soon to come when my readers – and the Camelot crowd itself – will finally come to learn better who they truly are.

To Galahad of Joyous Gard, the Round Table meant three things.

More than merely knighthood, it was the epitome of true manhood. More even than that: It was the height of Christendom.

And Mordred. It also meant Mordred

– The Once and Future Camelot

– *points upward at quote* Y’all. Need. To meet. Mordred. Love him, hate him, I don’t care what you do, but meet him.

– Speaking of important meetings, the novel’s second half will include a small guest appearance by a certain character of mine that it’s past time you’ve been properly introduced to. He’ll get a short story of his own, one day – (not to mention an entire mega-novel by Tirzah Duncan, because we borrow each other’s imaginary people whenever we feel like it) – but this bit part will be his debut.

– Basically, I just want us all to bond in suffering over my take on the saddest story legend ever told. Because I’m unkind.

So, when’s “The Once and Future Camelot” going to launch? I do not know! It will depend very much on how efficiently I’m able to get it properly edited in the time crumbs dropped from my day job. But hey, we’re only like a month away from the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” – (official release date TBD, but it shall be in February) – so let’s hold onto the tentacle-filled positives.

What do y’all think of that Camelot cover, tho?!?!? And the blurb – what catches at your imagination? Which character in Avalon Faire’s Camelot Crowd are you most excited to explore? Scream with me in the comments.

It Gets Better (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to the continuation of last week’s Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre, All About the Author Edition!”

“To catch up on what you may have missed or forgotten,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “click here. Or simply read on. Given the slapdash way Will scripts these things, there will probably be an info-dump summary soon after curtain-up.”

“Nobody asked you to go all theatre critic on me, minstrel. Anyway!” Another smile for the audience. “Make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘It Gets Better’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a table set for two. On one side sits Robin Hood. On the other, Allyn-a-Dale, dressed like Danielle in a casual Allyn-a-Dale cosplay. Behind them, the backdrop shows other occupied tables in silhouette. A dark roasted scent spritzes into the house, transporting the audience toward a 4D coffee shop experience.]

Robin [hand up like, ‘hold on a moment’ ]: So, let me get this straight: You left your job and residence in Yosemite National Park, applied along with Tirzah Duncan for a spot in Fresno’s new Amazon fulfillment center, stormed the stronghold anyway when she got hired but you didn’t, and briefly ended up taking orders at a Burger King drive-through?

Allyn/Danielle [glancing out at the audience like, ‘called it’ ]: In info-dump summary, yeah.

Robin: Whew.  But you said ‘briefly’. So you weren’t there long, right? What happened next?

Allyn/Danielle [brightening ]: Ah. Now we’re getting to the good part. It began around the same time I started at Burger King. You see, there was this neighbor of the Duncans’…

[The general stage lights dim, leaving two bright spotlights – one on Allyn, and one stage left, where enters Lady Marion Hood, arms full of half-painted holiday lawn ornaments.]

Marion/Neighbor: I don’t know how in the world I’m going to get all these spooky decorations finished in time to sell for the Halloween rush! If only there were a reliable someone in the neighborhood with time, artistic talent, and the desire for a little ready cash.

Allyn/Danielle [raising a hand ]: I think you’ll find I match that description fair well. Fret no more, for so long as I’m working under 20-some hours a week, I shall help you with your professional painting projects.

Marion/Neighbor: Oh, thank God!

Robin [as the general lights come back up, returning the stage to the coffee shop ]: Painting, eh? Sounds fun.

Allyn/Danielle: It had its moments. Mostly, I was just glad of the gas money it provided.

Robin: Why, do you have a car now?

Allyn/Danielle: Oh, did I skip over that part? Yeah. Used Camry. Insurance shopping. Ongoing games with the DMV. There’s been a lot of adulting I don’t have time to recall in detail.

Robin: Well, outrageous gas prices these days notwithstanding, it’s gotta be handy having your own transportation to work.

Allyn/Danielle [smile spreading across face ]: You mean, to the Amazon fulfillment center.

Robin [astonished ]: But… you didn’t get the job…

Allyn/Danielle: Not back in summer, no. But applications reopened in September. And this time, I got in.

[A shout of “BABE!” erupts from offstage, and in rushes Will Scarlet as Will Scarlet, sweeping Allyn from his chair and into a hug. The lights sparkle and dance in pink and red; gold confetti rains from above.]

Festival Lights

Will: I’m so happy for you, Dani-babe! You’ve slogged through so much – circumstances less than ideal, both outside your body and inside your brain – but at last, it gets better! At last, the full-time Fresno employment you’ve been trying to land since leaving Illinois! WAY. TO. GO!

Allyn/Danielle [half laughing, half trying to wriggle into a position more comfortable for breathing ]: Thanks, Will. For the flamboyant congratulations, and for supporting me inside my head all along the way. But put me down so I can tell Robin about the second best part!

Will [depositing Allyn back in chair ]: By which you mean, the Best Part, Part 2!

Robin [amused and intrigued ]: What news can possibly bear that distinction?

Allyn/Danielle [grinning at Will ]: Cue the lights.

[With a snap of Will’s fingers, the celebratory lights are replaced by the two flashback spots on Allyn and on Marion, returned to stage left.]

Allyn/Danielle: Huzzah and alack, good neighbor! My hours are soon to bump up to 40 a week. I must needs bid goodbye to Burger King and, I fear, to assisting with your painting projects.

Marion/Neighbor: Alack indeed! You’ve been wonderful, Danielle, and I’m sorry to lose your aid. But hey, I’m participating in an art show across town, next week. I hope you’ll come.

Allyn/Danielle: I’ll be there.

[The backdrop lights up like an evening backyard full of vendors’ tents. Jazz music wafts through the air. Will steps up to share Allyn’s spotlight, back in his Tirzah costume.]

Will/Tirzah: Hey, check out that little guesthouse by the pool!

Allyn/Danielle: A ‘for rent’ sign in the window. Too bad we probably can’t afford anything in this neighborhood.

Will/Tirzah [pointedly ]: We probably couldn’t score an extra photo session with John Barrowman at Comic Con either. I’m gonna go talk to people. [steps out of spotlight ]

Allyn/Danielle [shuddering with social anxiety ]: Better you than me. Oooh, someone’s selling a really cool coat!

Robin [taking Will’s place in Allyn’s spotlight ]: Tell me your Best Part sequel isn’t just a new coat.

Allyn/Danielle: Could’ve been, depending on the coat, but no. Look ye there.

[He nods toward the second spotlight, which follows Marion and the newly arrived Queen Guinevere, dressed in a snazzy old-lady pantsuit, across the stage.]

Allyn/Danielle: Robin, meet Flashback!Art Show Hostess/Landlady. Ma’am, Robin Hood from the future.

Guinevere/Landlady: The future?

Robin: By way of the distant past, yes.

Guinevere/Landlady: Huh. Well, Danielle, I’ve spoken with Tirzah, and our mutual neighbor friend here – [gestures to Marion ] – speaks highly of you as a person, so how would you two crazy kids like to rent my guesthouse?

Allyn/Danielle [gasping ]: We can afford that?

Will/Tirzah [back in the spotlight ]: With our Amazon salary times two? Quite reasonably.

Allyn/Danielle: And… how soon can we move in?

Guinevere/Landlady: Next week should allow time to finish having the bathroom painted a lovely blue.

Allyn/Danielle: My… favorite color… [swoons into Will’s arms ]

Robin: A new job, AND a new house?!

Will/Tirzah [beaming at a thousand watts ]: And all settled in before her 30th birthday, too.

Allyn/Danielle [coming to ]: I mean, we still need a dining table, but yeah. We actually made it. [teary smile ] We’re finally… home.

[Robin and Will group hug Allyn tightly. Marion and Guinevere raise plastic cups from the art show’s mini bar in a toast. The party music segues into a jazzy version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, just because Danielle really likes that song. And the curtain comes down on the happy tableau – though, as far as Danielle’s real life is concerned, it may still be on the rise.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you, rarely enough, to real life,” says Allyn, “for providing us with inspiration for our art to imitate.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves (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!”

What’s New? What ISN’T? (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

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!”

Allyn-a-Dale blinks in surprise. “What, really? After all this time? What throwback madness has possessed you now?”

“Well, the thing is this,” Will explains. “Danielle has been accumulating a lot of real-life news, lately. But she doesn’t like talking about herself, or about real life in general. Our author gal likes fiction. So you and I and our friends from the story world of the ‘Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

Available now,” Allyn inserts the obligatory plug.

“—Are going to talk about it for her, except one better, by adapting it into a skit! So make yourselves comfortable,” Will addresses the audience, “as we now present to you: ‘What’s New? What ISN’T?’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a table set for two, in one chair of which sits Robin Hood. Behind him, the backdrop shows other occupied tables in silhouette. Hidden speakers provide ambient chatter, laptop keyboard clacking, pop music, and calls for randomized names to come pick up their lattes – the volume of which fades as Allyn-a-Dale enters from stage right, costumed in hoodie, stylin’ boots, badass coat, broad-brimmed hat, and (the only departure from what he might wear on any given Outside venture) glasses.]

Robin [sitting up straighter with a smile ]: Danielle! So glad to see you!

Allyn/Danielle [taking seat opposite Robin ]: Robin, hiii! So glad we miraculously share a plane of reality today! Even if we have to share it in a public coffee shop full of noise and germs and people. I don’t suppose we could meet up in the forest, next time?

Robin: Bugs, though.

Allyn/Danielle [glum-faced ]: Oh, yeah.

Robin: But enough about establishing your characteristic phobias. How’s life in Yosemite National Park?

Allyn/Danielle: Oh, you haven’t heard? I don’t live there anymore.

Robin: No? Why ever not?

Allyn/Danielle [gaze in the distance – more specifically, on the backdrop shadows, shifting from its suggestion of a coffee shop interior into a mountainous skyline, featuring the iconic shapes of Half Dome, El Capitan, and the Three Brothers. ]: Well…

[The general stage lights dim, leaving two bright spotlights – one on Allyn, and one stage left, where enters Will Scarlet, wearing shorts, crocs, a lightweight hoodie against the glare of the California sun, sunglasses for the same purpose, and a T-shirt that reads ‘Flashback!’]

Will/Tirzah Duncan: Fare thee well, D! I’m moving back down the mountain!

Allyn/Danielle [rising in dismay ]: But bestie mine, you only recently joined me on staff at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel! How can you so soon abandon me??

Will/Tirzah: You know the long-game plan’s still to get a place with you, babe, but sharing a tent-cabin in the mountains with you and a random third roommate? Not sustainable. Besides, I applied for full-time work at the new Amazon facility in Fresno…

Allyn/Danielle: So did I!

Will/Tirzah: …And got hired!

Allyn/Danielle [plunking back miserably into chair ]: …I did not.

[The Will spot goes off. The general lights return, along with the coffee shop backdrop.]

Robin: Wait, what? Why in the world would the Amazon warehouse hire Tirzah, but not you? You’re equally dedicated workers!

Allyn/Danielle: One, it’s technically a fulfillment center, not a warehouse. Two, I KNOW, RIGHT? I was devastated. All I could do was ask myself—

Robin [sympathetically ]: What you’d done wrong?

Allyn/Danielle: No – ‘How would I handle this if I were an entitled white man?’

[Backdrop change! This time to a massive building with a smiling arrow logo. General lights, down. Spotlights up on Allyn and, stage left, Merlin, dressed from T-shirt to baseball cap to badge-carrying lanyard in Amazon gear and seated at a paperwork-covered folding table.]

Merlin/Amazon Rep: Will all prospective new hires please find your paperwork and have a seat.

Allyn/Danielle [standing, politely bright smile plastered on face ]: Yes, hello, I don’t believe you’ll find my name on your list, because there seems to have been a mistake.

Merlin/A.R.: What kind of mistake?

Allyn/Danielle: You didn’t hire me?

Merlin/A.R.: …

Allyn/Danielle: …

Merlin/A.R.: Have a seat.

[Back at the coffee shop…]

Robin [awed, amazed, maybe even admiring ]: Wait … so you just walked in … and they hired you on the spot??

Allyn/Danielle: Lol, if only. I mean, yes to the part where I just walked in like a ballsy boss, but it didn’t land me a job. They just told me I could reapply when more positions opened up. But time marched on and on, and nothing.

Robin: At least you had the Yosemite job in the meantime, though.

Allyn/Danielle: Without Tirzah? It was torment! What use is money when the only way to share it with those you love is to take a 3-hour bus ride down the mountain for a too-short visit on weekends? No, good sir, I put in my notice and followed her to Fresno. I blogged about it and everything. [wounded expression ] Doesn’t anybody read my posts?

Robin: Right, of course, just slipped my mind. So you got a part-time job somewhere…?

Allyn/Danielle [with a scoff ]: More like part-part-time. There were hardly any hours to speak of. If I wanted anything like a steady paycheck, I needed a second gig.

Robin: Did you find one?

Allyn/Danielle [looking haunted ]: Briefly.

[Backdrop changes to a line of cars. Seated before the shape of the front-most vehicle stage left, detached steering wheel in hand, is a spot-lit Loren McCaughley.]

Loren: Yes, lemme get the, uh, number seven? Sorry – five?

Allyn/Danielle [resignedly replacing awesome hat with a Burger King cap and microphone headset ]: One number five. Would you like to make that a medium or a large combo?

Loren: Um, large, with a— do you have diet (mumble-mumble)?

Allyn/Danielle: I’m sorry? Could you repeat that, please? Oh, diet root beer. Yes, we do. Will that complete your order?

Loren: Yeah, that’s all.

Allyn/Danielle: All right, I’ll see you at the second window. Thanks so much.

[Coffee shop returns.]

Robin: That… does not sound like a job you’d enjoy.

Allyn/Danielle [speaking noncommittal volumes while returning to the better hat ]: Mm.

Robin: But you said ‘briefly’. So you weren’t there long, right? What happened next?

Allyn/Danielle [brightening ]: Ah. Now we’re getting to the good part…

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

Allyn startles. “But we’re only halfway finished.”

“So ‘scene to be continued next week’,” Will amends. “Meanwhile, my beautiful audience, if you enjoyed yourselves (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!”

Friendship: The Most Super Power of All

In the early chapters of “So Super Dead” (out now!), one of Nicky/Xtra-Medium’s main goals is to fit in with Gravity Assist, the super squad from the moon out to save First Earth from… whatever. And I mean, that’s a worthy motivation, no doubt. But if we’re talking about real squad goals, Gravity Assist’s got nothing on Thackeray Kyle’s crew.

The first time I wrote about the Vampire Hunter – in a short story, several years ago – his three cameramen were just anonymous nobodies filming the drama for reality TV. When I decided to expand into a novel, I knew that wouldn’t fly. The camera trio would need names, distinguishing personalities, and a reason the standoffish Thackeray would choose to keep them close.

The reason I found was friendship, and the foursome’s group dynamic ended up being one of my favorite parts of the book. They’ve got the banter.

Demario: “Aw, that’s sweet, Kyle. But you didn’t have to make us breakfast. Especially if it smells like that.”

Mattson: “What’s the matter, D? You don’t like to start your morning with a hearty bowl of silver nitrate porridge, just like /tu abuela/ used to make?”

Brady: “What was her /abuela/, a murderer?”

Demario: “Maybe she was a Vampire Hunter.”

Thackeray: “Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

They’ve got the history.

Demario snorted. “Since when are the Vampire Hunter’s opponents /not/ faster and stronger than him? And since when has that mattered? You don’t need to be faster and stronger, because you’re /smarter/. Like, obnoxiously brilliant. I hated your guts for it through most of high school, then I got over it and decided to ride on the coattails of your genius all the way to the top. This isn’t the top yet,” she clarified. “When they offer you a movie deal based on your head-to-head match with a were-vamp and let me be director of cinematography, /that’ll/ be the top.”

They’ve got the bestie know-how.

“Don’t worry about the blood. One, it’s not fresh, just what’s been soaked into my stake over the show’s run. And two, the boiling solution ought to sterilize whatever potency it may have retained.”

“And three?” Mattson said.

Thackeray blinked toward the couch, perplexed. “Three what?”

“I don’t know,” said Mattson, a laughing light in his eyes. “There’s just usually a third thing, with you.”

Most important of all, they’ve got the love.

Thackeray thought he had mastered indifference toward all but two things: Blood, and his secret’s protection. But now he was forced to face the fact that his best friends made up a third thing. And he would really rather that they didn’t die.

…For whatever the love of someone like Thackeray Kyle is worth.

In honor of my fave “So Super Dead” friends – (and because, Cait @ Paper Fury and I agree, non-romantic ships in YA deserve 200% of the love) – here’s a list of other friendships I’ve published that fill my heart with feels:

Will Scarlet and Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon) = My BrOTP ‘til the end of forever. Book 2 refers to Will’s behind-the-scenes attempts to steer the ship in a romantic direction, but Allyn wasn’t in a place to go for that, so by Book 3, they work out something better: Brothers of the heart. Watching them fight for each other or go gooey over their matching tattoos will never not make my spirit ugly-cry.

Scarlet-a-Dale Soundwave

Crown Prince Ionquin Wyle and Princess Laraspur (The Wilderhark Tales) = This brother/sister pair have been in it together since they were rambunctious youngsters (see appearances in “The Seventh Spell”, “The Song Caster”, and “The Sky-Child”), but the depth of their relationship really shone through during their quest for the moon in “The Sun’s Rival”. They see each other – and if you don’t think that’s as heartwarming as any romance, I dunno what to tell ya.

Sir Wilbur Lamb and Uriel (Inspired) = Their author’s death brought them together, and mutual respect for one another keeps ‘em thus. …Which is saying something, since Uri doesn’t really make it a point to respect anyone lower than God. Over the course of the “Inspired” duology, we see each push the other toward their better selves – friendship at its finest.

Marion Hood and Little John (Outlaws of Avalon) = It’s the little things, man. Him letting her sit in his lap while the band strategized magical artifact recovery, Book 1. Her whispering encouragement in the bushes for him to follow his heart, Book 2. Every Merry Man pairing has its own unique energy, and something about her soft sparkle with his silent solidity results in a really cute, comfortable connection.

Edgwyn Wyle and Crown Princess Rosalba (The Wilderhark Tales) = So yeah, they’re also married, but first and foremost, they’re BFFs. Whether they’re questing side by side or separated by time and space, running a kingdom or raising their little ones, his heart and humor will keep her spirits up, and her queenly core will hold him in awe. ‘Tis beautiful music they make together.

Loren McCaughley and Eddie Millerson (Outlaws of Avalon) = It’s an ex-romance, but they’re still close friends; almost entirely sans awkwardness, even. A mutual love of Renaissance Faires, minstrelsy, classic lit, and Loren’s sister Janey keep them knit tight. Take note, menfolk: This is how you shoulder the “friend zone”.

Annabelle Iole Gray and Mach Jenius (Out of My Head) = Mach is one manic muse, but he cares SO HARD. Much of that caring, we see directed toward author Annabelle, for whom the cost of her wildest dream coming true is drastic loneliness. She gives Mach a home, and he gives her his heart, complete with his first-class cheerleading skills. Team Machabelle*, all the way.

*(My first attempt at giving them a ship name. Thoughts?)

Robin Hood and Arthur Pendragon (Outlaws of Avalon) = Straight up, we don’t get to see half enough of this pair together in the trilogy, because Camelot takes a backseat to all the Sherwood shenanigans. But the chess game flashback in Book 1 and “Reverence” story in “Truly Great Words Never Die” offer a glimpse of the alliance between these two kings, and I’m here for it. (Expect at least one more quality Robin/Arthur scene when #CamelotWIP comes to town.)

Doctor-King Villem Deere and Gant-o’-the-Lute (The Wilderhark Tales) = Candidly, Lute makes for a cavalier, prickly, flighty friend. Hence his barely having any. Villem is a rare exception – at a guess, because he sits smack in the golden zone of neither worshipping Lute (Viralei and Allyn’s mistake) nor belittling him (Wendara’s bad), simply acknowledging him as valid. It’s a shame they had so little time together, on page and off; extended doses of Villem’s healing presence could only have been to Lute’s good.

Who are YOUR fave fictional friendships? Which squad is your goal? Tell all in the comments, amigos! (And if you’ve already read / are planning to read “So Super Dead”, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, please & thanks!)

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” – available here (Amazon paperback), here (Amazon ebook), and here (Barnes & Noble ebook)!

Out of the Mouths of Book Babies

Seventh Spell: “My, my, would you look at the time.”

Legend of Allyn-a-Dale: “What sort of time? Time travel? Time suspended? Or a race against time, like you?”

Wilderhark Covers, half 1

Seventh Spell: “Um… closest to the last? I only meant, she’s got another pair of books coming out soon.”

Out of My Head: “Twins, like Inspired and me?”

Surrogate Sea: “Not a double release. Not even related. Just launching close together.”

Out of My Head: “Ooh, fun! Which ones?”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover
Coming August 28th!

Sky-Child: “First up, a short story collection, like me.”

Truly Great Words Never Die: “And like me; plus the same artist helped out with cover illustration!”

Inspired: “Like me, too, since it’s something of a re-release.”

Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale: “Our Hungering Hearts. Oh, that is a unique cover.”

Song Caster: “That neon effect! Where were her fancy tricks like that when she was putting the words on our covers?”

Stone Kingdom: “Well, do remember, she was only getting started.”

Song Caster: “Oh, that’s right. We were just the practice children. It’s the Outlaws she handed all over to the professionals.”

Inspired: “That just means the rest of our faces bear her special touch. But let’s not forget to welcome her second book on the horizon.”

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery
Coming September 25th!

Story’s End: “So Super Dead. I love it. So dark.”

Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale: “I thought it was a comedy?!”

Surrogate Sea: “Oh, Ballad, you ought to know better than any of us: Even her most lighthearted adventures have their undertones.”

Story’s End: “And I mean, death is right there in the title.”

Ballad: “But… just temporary death, right?”

Truly Great Words: “I don’t see anything in the blurb about truly great legends. Still, if a significant portion of the main cast is dead to begin with, we can only assume it doesn’t much impede their ability to contribute to the plot.”

Seventh Spell: “How many books does this make, now?”

Inspired: “Including e-book only titles?”

Avalon Christmas Carol: “Please.”

Inspired: “In that case, this will make 17 exclusively-Deshipley fiction releases. Plus my journal.”

Wilderhark Covers, half 2

Out of My Head: “17, wow! How does she remember all of us? Wait, does she even? Hey, Number One! You haven’t been forgotten, have you?”

Swan Prince: “Certainly not. On the contrary, she’s always sure to carry plenty of me to any books events, since I’m the series starter.”

Story’s End: “Must be nice.”

Avalon Christmas Carol: “Oh, hush, you got a huge launch party on Facebook.”

Marriage: “I didn’t even get a giveaway. Though she was willing to beg crowdfund my cover…”

Stone Kingdom: “Give the woman a break. She’s poor and tired and depressed.”

Song Caster: “Indeed. Thanks to Swan Prince.”

Outlaws of Avalon covers, all 5

Swan Prince: “Excuse me?”

Song Caster: “Fact. Publishing you while working at the Renaissance Faire wore her out and triggered her first big drop into depression. And not to call the kettle black, but you’re not exactly a bestseller.”

Legend: “At least Swan Prince has reviews in the double digits.”

Inspired: “I used to have a few, before my relaunch…”

Sun’s Rival: “And lack of reviews doesn’t mean we’re not being read! Readers love us!”

Surrogate Sea: “Readers love you.”

Story’s End: “What readers? Who’s saying they read us? Nobody.”

Sun’s Rival: “Not nobody…”

Story’s End: “Fewer than the little crowd we had back in Swan Prince’s day. I think they’re all tired of us.”

Marriage: “Surely it’s not that. We’re just… a lot to keep up with.”

Legend: “Ha, yes. We are legion, and they… Well, they mostly haven’t heard of us.”

Song Caster: “Whose fault is that?”

Out of My Head: “Don’t say hers! She’s trying her best!”

Story’s End: “And what good will her best do the two on the way?”

Inspired: “What do you want from her? Song Caster, Story’s End, what is it you want?”

Story’s End: “I don’t want anything. I’m just gloomy.”

Song Caster: “And I… I just want… I’m afraid.”

Sky-Child: “Afraid? You? Of what?”

Song Caster: “Of not being everything she wants us to be. Of all of us being… disappointments.”

Stone Kingdom: “Oh, Song Caster… It is not we that disappoint her.”

Covers 1, 2, and Journal

Inspired: “She gives all she can to make us beautiful. And beautiful we are. She’s proud of us, her body of work. Sometimes, she’s even proud of herself. It’s only poor luck that she hasn’t yet found a way to give us the audience we deserve.”

Song Caster: “Maybe if we had a big publisher…?”

Inspired: “No guarantee. There are success stories and failures no matter which publishing road you take.”

Out of My Head: “But she’s NOT a failure! It’s too early to say ‘she never hit it big,’ because look – she’s still making books! Hungering Hearts could find its audience. So Super Dead could capture public imagination. Or maybe the next title, or the one after that… Or even any one of us, later in life! While we exist, it’s not too late!”

Story’s End: “Very ‘while there’s life, there’s hope’. I believe So Super Dead will have something to say about that.”

Seventh Spell: “Inspired 2’s right, though. We’ve still got time.”

Sun’s Rival: “And succeed or fail, she’ll always love us.”

Inspired: “Of course she will. She is our mother.”

Mini Muses: Behind the Brainstorm

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head”, were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Will Scarlet – swordsman, entertainer, legendary rogue

As Featured In…: The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart*: Mach Jenius, brainstorm

*(…Though he doesn’t actually show up until “Out of My Head”)

Mini Muses_Will and Mach

How Do You Feel You and Mach Are Most Similar?: “Easy,” Will declares. “We’re both ideas guys with, like, pretty much no ‘off’ button. We’ll try anything once – twice, if it’s the fun thing to do. If there’s a Lute/Luc character, they’ve got problems with us. And we’re cute as hell, and super supportive of our little artist friends.”

Most Different?: “Lucky son of an art attack can shapeshift. You don’t see me with any such cool superpowers – although I have proven impressively difficult to kill and keep dead.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Ooooh, tough call. Part of me wants to say the chapter where Mach and Annabelle go for a moonwalk, because watching them together just gets me right in the feels. But I gotta give it to the early scenes where The Guys fly out of Annabelle’s head and have to navigate not only her plane of reality, but her family.” Will cracks up laughing at the remembrance. “The whole thing is gold – this bit especially.”

“Can I get you guys something to drink?”

“Thank you, but we don’t wish to be a bother,” Wilbur said.

“Hmm,” said Dallas, stating clearly enough how much of a bother she viewed the whole world as being, at the moment.

“I’ll take a lemonade, if you’ve got some,” Uri volunteered.

“Fries with that?” Dallas asked flatly.

“If you’ve got those.”

Her soft mouth’s hard line at a downward slant, Dallas turned to go back upstairs. “I’m not making fries,” she tossed behind her.

“Somebody making fries?” Callie’s voice blared from above.

“No one is making fries,” Dallas bellowed back.

“Girl, you better make me some fries! My sister’s in the hospital! I’m too mad, right now!”

“I just…” a still-sniggering Will wipes his eyes. “It’s terrible your sisters will probably never read the novel, because their caricatures are everything.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “Oh, rude. I was gonna say me. But since I can’t, it’ll be Annabelle. Don’t look surprised, author! You know what you mean to me, and what it by extension has to mean to share a story with you, even if neither of us is exactly us. It’s magic. We’re magic. Go team.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Will! And readers, stay tuned for the release of the “Inspired” novels … one week from today*!

*…Although you can totally preorder the ebooks right now!

Book 1 = Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Book 2 = Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Got any more questions for Will Scarlet or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Mini Muses: Behind the Mystery

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head” (both newly available for preorder on Kindle, here and here!), were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Allyn-a-Dale, minstrel to Robin Hood’s Merry Men

As Featured In…: “The Story’s End” (The Wilderhark Tales, Book 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Yves / Avelaine, the boy who dances with death*

*(Which is… not actually how I’ve ever described him, but Allyn just slipped that in there on his own reconnaissance, and I mean, sure, that works)

Mini Muses_Allyn and Yves

How Do You Feel You and Avelaine Are Most Similar?: Allyn stares aesthetically into the distance. “I, too, dance with death… Rather, death’s shadow has loomed large over my life since before my first breath, so I’ve developed some psychoses around it. Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell. And we’re both small, which may not be hell’s fault, and speak with charming accents.”

Most Different?: “Avelaine dances, and harbors a fear of heights. I, canonically, am almost never seen dancing, and I mostly fear social situations, or my dearest loved ones dying violently before my eyes.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Literarily speaking, I best like the ‘Manta and the Mask’ short story embedded in Book 1. Otherwise, it’s this snippet from Book 2.”

“Dur-hur,” said Uri. “I suppose next you’ll tell me how when you were sixteen, you had to run a mile in full armor to meet the lances of your enemies, uphill both ways in the snow.”

Wilbur’s voice hinted at laughter. “Not ‘til I entered the knighthood at twenty, no. The uphill runs in the snow at sixteen were to chase down wayward sheep.”

“I was suffering child abuse,” Avelaine put in from a step behind them. “Uphill. Both ways.”

“’Twould seem Avelaine and I share a similar sense of humor.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “First off, I dislike choosing favorites, so how dare you. Second, I suppose I’ll say Wilbur, because he’s the nearest thing Avelaine has to his own personal Will Scarlet – in the ‘band brother’ sense, not the ‘high-key maniac’ one. You’ve developed another character for that…”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Allyn! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Allyn-a-Dale or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!