#OHH My Gosh, the Day Has Come!

Our Hungering Hearts, front coverHappy Release Day to “Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”!

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

If you haven’t already ordered your copy(ies) of the e-book edition, you can do so HERE (via Amazon, for Kindle and other mobi file readers) and HERE (via Barnes & Noble, for Nook and other epub file readers) – and/or get the paperback HERE!

Because I’m so pleased about my solo anthology’s launch into the world, I am concurrently launching four new designs in my Society6 shop – one for each of the “Hungering Hearts” short stories. Observe!

1 = #Like An Escaped Convict

Escaped Convict Triptych.png

Again, the Black Man did not smile. Nor did he frown. His thin mouth was straight, his slender brows at rest, his eyes resetting to narrow after their flare of surprise. Measured and silky, he asked, “Where are your people?”

Eyes and thumb still fixed in place, Tidbit half-turned her body toward the swinging double door to the kitchen at the dining room’s far end.

“I see,” he said, flicking a glance where she’d directed, then back down to her. “And do they allow you out here to creep upon their clientele’s tables, or are you an escaped convict?”

– from “Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son”

I don’t expect ol’ Two Spoons to shop my little e-store any time soon, but just in case, I made sure this design inspired by his story included his favorite colors: Red and (most obviously) black.

2 = #Mad Pretty #Pretty Mad

Mad Pretty Quartet

The monarchs would have had yet another catastrophe on their hands if they couldn’t both keep their promise /and/ satisfy the Lord of Wings’ demand. And there was I, an amnesiac orphan. Unclaimed. Unwanted. Unhinged, though no one seemed to notice. And most importantly, a boy pretty enough to pass for a girl.

– from “A Mind Prone to Wander”

A tastefully fractured design for the beautifully insane among you, or, whatever, for the princess looking back at you from the mirror. I don’t know your life.

3 = #Real World Problems

Real World Triptych

As do we all, he knows of the Réalis — the world alongside our own. We are that world’s dreams, they are this world’s stories. And some of us, I’m told, exist in both places at once, having been born there only to be conjured here at the judges’ whim.

We call the world real — not because it is any /truer/ than ours, for it’s not, but because it is fixed, its base rules inflexible, unaffected by the merest wish of its inhabitants. Heartsinger rasps, “Why would anyone want to go there?”

– from “Reality As We Know It”

Why indeed? But hey, if you’re gonna be stuck in this reality of ours, why not weep your tears of adulting exhaustion in an Ever On Word throw pillow that gets you?

4 = #Word Wizard

Word Wizard Triptych

“Shall I be honest with you, Elizabeth?” I asked.

She said, “I wish you would.”

“Well, the truth of it is, I deeply love your work. You have a talent like no other I’ve seen.”

“Thank you,” she said, with the merest dip of her head. Not flattered, not scornful. Simply acknowledging. “I have been called something of a wizard with words. You could say it’s in my blood.”

– from “Date Due”

Whether on a mug that holds your writing beverage of choice, the notebook that holds your brainstorming notes, or the bag that totes your laptop full of story documents, this is a design for all of us who claim the pen as our magic sword. …And for any dragons who crave swaggy book merch for their hoard.

So! That’s what’s new from your gal DEShipley. If you’re in a place to do so, feel free to support my artistic endeavors with your dollars and/or – also of great importance!!! – book reviews. (Go on, don’t be shy about sharing your readerly opinions with Amazon; the Merry Men showed you how easy-peasy it can be!)

‘Til next time, dearies,

~ Danielle

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Did You Kn-#OHH?

So, heeey! As I’ve been mildly remiss in shouting about, these last months, “Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection” (#OurHungeringHearts #aka #OHH) is scheduled to launch in two (2!) weeks.

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

(Have you added it to your Goodreads “want-to-read” list? Because you ca-a-an! You can also pre-order the e-book, via Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble)

Most of my relative silence on the subject has been due to busyness with a hundred other things. Working at Yosemite. Leaving Yosemite. Searching for work in Fresno. Buying a car (which, just… wow. What a process. I’m starting to better understand why “Ballad”-era Will Scarlet elected to acquire transportation the easy way). Not to mention prepping “So Super Dead” – y’know, that other book that’s coming out one month behind “Hungering Hearts”.

But the rigors of adulting is no excuse! Neither is the fact that I’ve already hyped all of these stories before, when they first released in their respective anthologies. There’s always something new to say, if you’re chatty enough. (Which I very much can be. Will Scarlet came by the trait honestly. Unlike his car.)

In honor, then, of keeping our mouths busy, here’s a tasty array of tidbits I don’t think I’ve shared before (interspersed with stuff I totally shared before, because #NeverForget). DID YOU KNOW…?

– The collection’s first story is just chockablock with aliases. Tidbit, the Black Man, Two Spoons … both the character, and the title. Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son is the title I originally used. Though presented in Xchyler Publishing’s “Legends and Lore” as Two Spoons only, “Our Hungering Hearts” restores the story name to its full, head-turning glory.

– By fun coincidence, all four of the stories in the collection are narrated in 1st-person (which, as one could deduce from all of my published novels and novellas to date, is not my automatic go-to; I’m often more of a 3rd-person gal). And in two of the tales, we’re never given the narrator’s name. It would probably wear me out having to work like that in a full-length work (I wonder how Daphne du Maurier felt about doing so in “Rebecca”), but for short stories, it can be an interesting exercise to see what you gain and/or lose by featuring nameless characters.

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Reality As We Know It’s Heartsinger, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum Ginger Mann.

My Love, My Heart, My Singer: A Walk Through the Abréal

– In keeping with my Wilderhark side, A Mind Prone to Wander draws inspiration from multiple fairytales – Jack and the Beanstalk, Bluebeard, a touch of Beauty and the Beast, and an aesthetic or two from the Arabian Nights.

Date Due is the ONLY story in the book that isn’t based on other characters of mine. Although – (Easter egg!) – one of the books in the story’s magical Library shares a title with another short story in “Beyond the Wail”, the anthology in which Date Due debuted.

– Throwback! Enjoy this sampling of images from the A Mind Prone to Wander Pinterest board, “Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and Beyond”. …and/or click here to visit the whole board!

Mind Prone to Wander, Pinterest

– The twin princesses in A Mind Prone to Wander are mirror images of each other – as are, in a way, their names. Broken into pieces, Bellamy = Belle (beauty, in French) + Amie (friend, in French); and, same but reverse, Caralinda = Cara (dear, in Italian) + linda (beautiful, in Spanish). Yes, we authors do live for this sort of thing.

– If I had to pick a “Hungering Hearts” character with which I most closely identify… Yeah, it’s gotta be the draconic Librarian. Though I must give a secondary shout-out to Row from Reality As We Know It (because, whoof, his dispiriting job hunt has recently become too darn relatable), the parallels between me and the Librarian are blatant. Books. Tea. Questionable sanity. That’s all me. (Also, I half-lied, if setting counts as character: I totally based her house off of mine.)

– Throwback! Read (or reread!) a character interview with Date Due’s word wizard, on the blog of fellow Xchyler alum A. F. Stewart.

Beyond the Wail: Fireside Chat with Elizabeth Young

– If I had to pick a favorite “Hungering Hearts” character… that would be cruel, so I’ll be weak and pick one fave per story.

Two Spoons = the devil’s son himself (because I *heart* me a villain)

A Mind Prone to Wander = Arinward, Steward of Arcan-Nest (because his letters are champion)

Reality As We Know It = can I say the murdering Irishman? Is that allowed?

Date Due = the books (I told you: I’m the Librarian)

– If I had to pick the “Hungering Hearts” story that was most enjoyable to write… I think it was Two Spoons. I ~relished~ that one. The others were more painful, because character suffering. Whereas, for any suffering in Two Spoons, I was in Black Man mode, meaning yes, good, the pain of others; that and a scoop of ice cream, please. That guy would make a great author.

Well, would you look at that: We’ve arrived at a full-length blog post! I guess I had a handful of things left to say, after all. ;D And if YOU’VE got things to say, I hope you’ll put them in the comment section down below.

New Look, Same Great Taste!

Previously on the Ever On Word blog, I teased the sometime-soon re-release of four short stories o’ mine. That soon sometime draws ever nearer – I’m aiming for an August launch date … which somehow is now only a month away?? Where did June go???

But HEY, rather than suffer a panic attack over how swiftly this summer is flying by, how about we have ourselves a little title / cover reveal?

Showing its face for the first time ever, I give you…

“Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Aaaaaand the full spread:

Our Hungering Hearts, full cover 02

Dat back o’ book blurb:

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

HUGE kudos to Hannah Vale for her help in bringing my vision for the cover to life! The background photos, I was able to obtain via unsplash.com; the lettering / general graphic design, I created myself in various basic Microsoft programs. (Because, low-key, I am a baller.) But NO WAY could I have illustrated that symbolic “chalk art” on my own, so for that unique pop of the fantastic, Hannah has all-ll-ll my thanks.

Life is hectic, and my relationship status with the internet = “on again / off again”, but I should have “Our Hungering Hearts” up on Goodreads, ready for your “Want To Read” lists, in the near future. Stay tuned!

Ballad Cover, front 02

In other book news: All July long, its the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! For a FREE ebook of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)”, click here. To browse the full sale catalog, click here.

…And to tell me what you think of what you’ve seen so far of “Our Hungering Hearts”, go off in the comments! ^o^

Camp Q&A, Part 3: So Super Close to the End

Previously on Ever On Word (specifically, here and here), I – and, at her insistence, Annabelle Iole Gray, of “Inspired” fame – got together with the main characters from my next novel (“So Super Dead”) and a whole bunch of questions found via the NaNoWriMo blog.

“Because,” Annabelle inserts, “how better to introduce new fictional folk – to one’s audience, or one’s self – than by means of a totally in-depth author-to-character Q&A?”

Brilliantly drawn character portraits come to mind, but I haven’t decided yet whether to splurge on commissions for that, so … this is what we’ve got to work with.

A big hand, one last time, for the big three of “So Super Dead”: the angry ghost of Brenna Walsh; the Paranormal Reality Channel’s very own Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter; and all the way from Second Earth (better known, here on First Earth, as the moon), aspiring superhero Nicky “Xtra-Medium” Ellenbogen-Jones!

  1. What recurring dream does your character have?

Thackeray: “It’s not a dream. It’s worse, and it’s why I don’t sleep.”

  1. What is the meaning of life to your character?

Brenna: “Didn’t have one. And it’s a bit late to figure it out now.”

  1. If your character wrote a NaNo novel, would they be a planner, pantser, or plantser?

Annabelle: “I’d plan like crazy, only to have my muses hijack everything with their own bright ideas.”

Brenna: “Since when do you get to answer questions?”

Annabelle: “Since I’m the only character here who writes books, that’s when.”

  1. What book does your character pretend to have read?

Thackeray: “Okay, I admit it. Despite my claim to have read through the entire ‘Twilight’ series in the interest of thorough familiarity with all available vampire lore, I didn’t bother to pick up companion novella ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’. Sue away.”

  1. Someone takes undeserved credit for your character’s work. What do they do?

Nicky: “I mean, they say heroism is supposed to be its own reward, so I guess it doesn’t much matter who gets the accolades at the end. That being said, I’d be so super bummed. This is probably another question that gets answered with ice cream.”

  1. What controversial belief or view does your character hold? Why? Do they hide it?

Brenna: “Is the belief that Thackeray Kyle sucks controversial?”

Thackeray: “I have a disturbing number of fans who would fight you IRL over it, but that doesn’t necessarily make you wrong.”

  1. Your character is at a theme park. Where do they go first?

Nicky: “Aw man, is it Disney World?!”

Annabelle: “Lol, where else? I mean, assuming you’ve just saved the world, what are you gonna do next?

Nicky: “I want pics at the castle! With Mickey Mouse ears! Or Minnie Mouse ears? Whichever. Wherever it is you get ears, that’s gotta be my first stop.”

  1. What’s your character’s favorite name?

Thackeray: “Genevieve.”

Annabelle: “Because?”

Thackeray: “Read the book and take a guess.”

  1. What’s the biggest compliment they’d give themselves?

Brenna: “I’m not big on compliments, but I don’t spend half as much time beating myself up as these other two do, so I guess this question’s mine. Um… Badass moments. I canonically have those. Also, I’m a marginally better person than anyone in that book deserves.”

  1. How does your character feel about bugs?

Nicky: “Not a fan, though it’s illegal on Second Earth to squish them on purpose, since you never know whether it’s a bug bug, or a person whose power is to shift into a bug. So you just gotta learn to live around ‘em.”

  1. If your character could hit a reset button on their life, would they?

Thackeray: “God, yes.”

Brenna: “Not actually. I’m not seeing a do-over that would put me in a more advantageous place. Yeah, my death was all kinds of wrong, but at least it’s put me on a course to somewhere. At least vengeance is something to do.”

Nicky: “I’m kind of with Brenna on this one. Life hasn’t been perfect, but it’s brought me here, so I can only hope that here is where I’m needed.”

And with that, our series of questions comes to an end … reminding me that, oh snap, I’d better take steps toward obtaining a proof copy of “So Super Dead” soon, so I can make sure it’s publication-ready by September! In the meanwhile, here’s a refresher on what the novel’s all about:

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!

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!

“Ahem.”

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

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

Well…

“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!

Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “One of his authors describes him thus:

Stolen away as a toddler by a corrupt necromancer and raised as her near-nameless drudge, Kid had nobody to rely on but his own self, until even he and his body began to grow apart. Now this unaging soul roams the earth at will, seeking out the delights of the world of the living before his grown alter ego remakes it all in a more deathly image.

“Welcome, Kid!” Will greets the child bouncing in the air above the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Allyn-a-Dale? ‘Cause it’s uncanny!”

Soul of Kid
As seen on the “Dark Siren”-related Pinterest board, “Bones, Souls, and Hellgates

The adorable boy giggles. Everything about me is uncanny. I’m the bodiless soul of a necromancer! But of course I look like a little Allyn. And of course my body looks like him grown-up. That’s the inspiration behind our characters – from some silly hypothetical scenario Danielle and Tirzah spun out over the phone. Allyn was the Dark Siren, and his younger self was his soul, and I think the knights of Camelot were a team of superheroes, and you were a lovesick maniac.”

“Sounds about right. Getting back to your story proper, what was it like growing up as a forced-labor assistant to a practitioner of death magic?”

“No fun at all,” Kid pouts. “All Mistress Barbara ever did was boss me around. I never got to play outside. I never got to make any friends. I never got to experiment with her books of spells… although I did that anyway, whenever I could do it without her noticing. She wasn’t overly careful about keeping her things warded; or herself, for that matter. Killing her was easy.”

“Um.” Will glances at the camera. “Is this a confession to a murder? Because let me remind you that this is live blog-TV, and I don’t know if I—”

“Oh, it wasn’t me,” says Kid, wide-eyed. “It was my body. That was the night we split, you see – so he could become a more powerful necromancer.” He slumps into his chair – (literally, his ghostly form has sunk partway through the cushions) – muttering sadly, “Souls get in the way.”

“Aww.” Will frowns sympathetically. “So your body hasn’t been much of a friend to you either, huh?”

Voice dropped to an eerie, melodic pitch that sets Scarlet shivering, the soul intones, “The Dark Siren is a friend to no one but death. But,” he goes on more brightly, “I meet other nice people, from time to time. Like the living skeleton I found in Millennium Park! I like her.”

“That’s good. What about ice cream?” Will asks, in pursuit of cheery, death-free topics. “Do you like that?”

Kid pulls a face. “I’m a soul. I can’t eat.”

Will draws back, aghast. “Not even soul food?!”

“Not even corpses,” Kid sighs. “Though those are fun for other things.”

“Haaa, well,” says Will, disconcerted, “there’s time for one more fun thing before we say goodbye. Tell me, what is the biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret involving your co-authors, Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley?” A spirited smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I’ve already tattled on them once,” says Kid, jumping out of his chair. “Kiss me! I’m starved for physical affection!”

“I’ll bet,” says Will, placing a kiss on (and almost through) Kid’s cherubic cheek. In return, Kid’s lips pass through Will’s nose, while his little arms fling around Will’s neck.

“You’re nice, too,” Kid approves. “I hope the Dark Siren doesn’t kill you.”

“Same,” says Will, fondly ruffling the space Kid’s hair does and doesn’t occupy. “Hey, Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by The Dark Siren’ by Danielle E. Shipley and Tirzah Duncan – available now as part of the Arcane Arts Anthology!

arcane-arts-cover

Necromancy killed her body, and necromancy saved her soul. Now all this living skeleton wants is for necromancy to leave her the hell alone. But with a disembodied child-spirit hanging around like a too-catchy tune, and a dread dark-artist preparing to sing the world into its final unrest, our heroine’s left with only one real option: Face the music.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Kid! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”