#MARRIAGEofAaD: Launched, Asked and Answered

Happy Launch Day to “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

marriage-cover-final-front

Yes indeed, the second book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy is officially out in the world, and available via CreateSpace (paperback), Barnes & Noble (e-book), and Amazon (both). Do both Reader You and Author Me a solid by nabbing a copy. ^o^

In honor of the day, I’ve put together a fun Q&A based on this “writing ask game” spotted on Tumblr. So, newcomers to the series and old fans alike, behold: A whole host of things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”!

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Describe the plot in 1 sentence.

If I may wax intellectual…

When budding eros comes up against problematic storge, with hyper philia running amok, it’s anyone’s guess which love will conquer all.

You: Not in Greek, please?

Me: Much love; such angst.

What’s the time period and location in which the novel takes place?

The early 21st century, in a magical island of ancient Britannia disguised as a Renaissance Faire in the American Midwest.

Pick one sight, smell, sound, feel, and taste to describe the aesthetic of your novel.

Sight: An arrow through the heart.

Smell: Assorted flowers.

Sound: An orchestral string section – with featured lute solos.

Feel: A sun-warmed breeze.

Taste: Popcorn, Chinese takeout, and mead.

#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard
#MARRIAGEofAaD Moodboard

How many times does the word ____ appear in the novel?

No word specified, hmm? In that case, the answer is four. An abbreviation of ‘chrysanthemums’ is spoken as an expletive four times.

Which 3+ songs would make up a playlist for the novel?

The book already includes 3 original songs: A cheery spring lovers’ ditty, a sultry jazz number, and a personal piece straight from the heart of Allyn-a-Dale.

What’s the first line of your novel?

May Ellen fought the growing urge to cry.

(For comparison, the first line of Outlaws of Avalon 1 was: “Loren fought the growing urge to panic.” Makes ya wonder who will be fighting which growing urge at Book 3’s beginning. ^^)

Which character is the best liar? Worst?

1) My kneejerk reaction is of course to say Will Scarlet, but while he’s the one most likely to have half the things out of his mouth be technically untrue, the by far better liars would be Little John and Morganne le Fey – the ones with the perfect poker faces.

2) Probably King Arthur. I don’t think the man has a properly dishonest bone in his body.

Which character swears the most? Least?

1) Will Scarlet, hands down.

2) Leila would never.

Which character is most like you? Least like you?

1) The earliest version of she who would become Loren McCaughley was a straight-up self-insert. And even now that she’s Loren for real, we share a number of traits in common – foremost, a mania for all things Robin Hood and a weakness for minstrels. I am likewise a good deal like her adorkable sister.

2) Temperament-wise, I don’t think Leila and I could be farther removed. She’s all sweet-spirited and kind and patient and incapable of seeing the worst in life. You lost me at “sweet”.

Which character would you most like to be?

I’d say Marion Hood is the most ideally situated. All of the best bits of being a Merry Man, less of the torture that comes with being a main character.

Do any characters have distinctive birthmarks/scars?

Allyn-a-Dale’s emotional scars are practically trademark.

What’s a line of dialogue you’re particularly proud of?

Arrgh, the first one that comes to mind hails from spoiler territory! A certain burn from Little John, near the end of Part Sixth. In lieu of that, have this bit from Allyn to Morganne le Fey:

“You are such a creeper.”

Which line from the novel most represents it as a whole?

Never did one so acutely yearn for discomfort as did Allyn-a-Dale.

That or,

“Even if Merlin has our manhood for this, wasn’t it bloody worth it?”

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Tra-la. And remember, if there’s anything else you guys want to know about “Marriage” that the novel’s text doesn’t answer for you – *points to the comments section* – you’re entirely welcome to ask. ;D

Hello-o-o, Love-a-Thon 2016!

LoveAThon 2016

It’s Love-a-Thon time! Brought to us by our happenin’ hosts, Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Hazel (Stay Bookish), and Mel (The Daily Prophecy), we’ve got a weekend of book love all throughout the blogosphere.

There are a ton of activities planned over the next two days, and Lord only knows how many I’ll have the time and social energy to participate in (probably not a ton). But I for sure wanted to get in on the fun some way, so let’s start out with… *roll of drums* …the introductory questionnaire!

What’s your name?

The name’s Danielle E. Shipley – or Deshipley, for short. I will also answer to “The Cool One”, once we’ve all had a good laugh.

Where in the world are you blogging from?

Just north of Chicago, currently, though I’ll be headed back up to room with my BFF in Germany, soon. Chicagoland’s my birth place and lifelong residence so far, but Europe feels closer to home.

How did you get into blogging in the first place?

Aforementioned BFF talked me into it, saying it would be of some benefit to me as an author, and possibly even fun. She wasn’t entirely wrong.

How did you come up with your blog name?

Brainstorming with BFF and my character friends, we happened upon and liked the double entendre of Ever On Word. 1, the play on “ever onward”, which is kind of like an unofficial motto of mine. 2, the fact that I’ve pretty much always got at least one MS Word document open – usually two to five. And probably at least half-a-dozen Internet tabs. I’m a multitasking mess.

What types of posts do you do on your blog?

It’s varied, through the 5-ish years I’ve been online. At the beginning, I just selected a word I thought could inspire a few hundred more, and cheerily babbled about it. Once I started publishing stories – as a part of assorted anthologies, or in my own self-published books – it’s been tempting to talk about them ALL THE TIME, but I make sure to mix it up. I’ve also done shout-outs for other people’s publications and reviews of books I’ve read (when I can organize my impressions enough to write ‘em), shared original flash fiction and poetry, and for a while, my character/muse/BFF #2 Will Scarlet liked to take over with a screwball stage show and character interviews. So a little bit of everything, or a lot of nothing, depending whether it’s me or Will in charge.

Best blogging experience so far?

Probably gotta give this one to Save-a-Word Saturday, a retired meme from The Feather and the Rose. I had a great time discovering archaic words and incorporating them into fun little vignettes. I miss the weekly challenge, but it’s not the end of the road for my micro-fiction. One of these days, they’ll be a book. Stay tuned.

zRavenKing

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

Three jump readily to mind!

1 – “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the Raven Cycle series, and I’m sad for it to end, but that doesn’t make me want the fourth and final book in my hands any less urgently!

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2 – “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab. It’s about music and monsters and by V.E. Schwab. I’m in.

3 – “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” by Danielle E. Shipley. Seriously. It’s Book One of the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy – aka, the writing project dearest to my heart. Minstrelsy, magic, mayhem … and best of all, Merry Men! I Robin-Hood-fangirled my way through this thing, and I’m SO BEYOND EAGER to finally share it with readers! (And I’m totally offering eARCs in exchange for honest reviews. Hit me up if you’re interested!)

zHamilton

4 – okay, this where it gets tougher. Let’s go with… “Hamilton: The Revolution” by Lin-Manuel Miranda / Jeremy McCarter. Don’t know whether I’ll ever get to see the musical onstage, but I’ve been sucked down the “Hamilton” hole via the soundtrack, and I love behind-the-scenes stuff for movies ‘n’ musicals, so I’d eat this book up.

Some Kind of Happiness

5 – …what else is even happening this year? *skims to-read list* Oh, okay, how about “Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand. It’s got a fantasy forest and a protagonist who shares my depression struggle. I’m bound to get something out of it.

Sigil of the Wyrm

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

I’ll bet you anything that not enough people are reading “Sigil of the Wyrm”. Go read “Sigil of the Wyrm”.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Pretty sure my Will Scarlet has totally claimed that spot.

Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

Kelsier from Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”, please!

What would your dream library look like?

Spiral Staircase

It’s in a castle. (Books.)

In a forest far, far away. (Books.)

The room is drenched in sunlight. (So many books.)

Cozy window nooks in blue and gray, with an ever-changing view of a lake. (Beautiful books.)

Everything is wood. (Books, books, books.)

Except the spiral staircase (wrought iron, probably ) going up to the balcony (of EVEN MORE BOOKS).

Those rolling shelf ladder things are up there (‘cause what better way to reach ALL THE BOOKS?).

Throw in a piano and invisible servants to bring me tea, and I’ll probably never leave this room. (Home is where the books are.)

That’s it for my intro post. Looking forward to hopping around the other participating blogs to see what all the awesome kids are up to. ;D I’ll probably have at least one more Love-a-Thon post up later today, so stay tuned!

“Q and A”

Fun news, Ever On Wordians: I was extended the honor of writing a guest post for a fellow blogger! (A brief pause whilst I indulge in some excitement-induced hand-clapping.)

In recognition of my knack of harnessing authorial schizophrenia to further my creative ends, Andrea S. Michaels requested a piece on how to engage in meaningful dialogue with one’s fictional characters. It was my pleasure (along with my minstrel’s, my fox’s, my Dream World Deliverer’s, and my tailor’s) to oblige. Hop on over to Andrea’s blog via this lovely little link, and be sure to give my host some love while you’re in the neighborhood. (:

Edit: Should the day ever come that the lovely little link fails (Aragorn insists that it is not this day, but it could be that he’s referring to something else), I’ve included the full “Q and A” piece below. Enjoy!

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“Oh, Author…” (This generally said with a pitying sigh, or perhaps merely a condescending headshake, on the part of my minstrel marvel, Gant-o’-the-Lute.) “Wherever would you be without me?”

I usually try to get around answering that question, on the grounds that the asker’s ego doesn’t need the boost. But the fact is, my writing truly would be worth little without the characters who live the books and, thereby, give them life. The characters make the story, and the author makes the characters (…with “the usual exception” of Gant-o’-the-Lute who, I swear, half-created himself). It is imperative, then, that We the Authors of the World, in Order to form a more-perfect-than-not work of Fiction, do our darnedest to make our characters seem real.

“What’s real in your world about a talking, five-foot-five, practically primatial wild fox in a top hat?” questions Glyph, with a lazy swish of his bright, bushy tail.

Well, of course I didn’t mean “real” in the “being or occurring in fact or actuality” sense. We’re talking fiction; reality need have little place here, but realness is requisite. Therefore, the characters must come across as the “genuine and authentic” sort of real to the readers, which is easiest done when they feel that sort of real to their authors.

So what do you do when you just can’t seem to get a sense of who your characters are? When their innermost hearts are closed to you? When you have no idea how they would react to that wild plot point you plan to throw at them in Chapter Seven because you don’t know what makes them tic? That’s when it’s time for a little Q and A; an author/character chitchat.

“An interrogation under a hot bulb, with everyone and their secondary antagonist sniggering from the other side of the two-way mirror,” grumbles Bruno, because he’s a Mr. Sunshine type o’ teen, like that.

As Bruno’s grousing demonstrates, not every character will be eager to bare their souls to you. Something broad and open-ended like “So, tell me about yourself” may not yield the sort information you were hoping to get. For your more reluctant charries, I would recommend you take a more organized approach. Get together a list of specific questions, and tackle them one by one in a thorough interview. My preferred resource? What I call The Anything and Everything Character Questionnaire.

“…Of doom,” my tailor Edgwyn adds, in the laughing, extra-deep version of his otherwise baritone voice that signifies he’s looking to amuse.

It’s not actually meant to be doomful (despite what Bruno would have you believe) – although, I admit, some questions can be inherently awkward, or else lead unexpectedly to some pretty painful stuff. I’ve had characters break down crying mid-quiz, or storm off in a rage that only a few hours’ timeout could lessen. When you’re talking about anything and everything from their first memories, to their sense of morals, to their love life, you really never know what’s going to come up. And that’s the beauty of it: Just letting your characters talk, and learning what their words reveal.

You could unearth bits of backstory you’d never thought to imagine (for example, extracted from Glyph’s turn at the questionnaire):

Most Prized Possession and Why: It’s bound to be that hat again.

“Because it’s important,” Glyph says. “It was to be my first ever hat, and the payment the spider wanted for it was a damselfly, because her webs had never once caught a damselfly, and she’d grown terribly curious about how one would taste. So I set out to catch the required damselfly, and found one being pursued by a dragonfly. And I decided that I would rather save the damselfly, and kill the dragonfly, and give it to the spider instead. So I did, and she was most excited (because, of course, dragonflies are bigger than damselflies), so I got my hat, and I got Jewel.” (His damselfly sidekick.) “A very good day.”

You could discover secret desires that are a fundamental part of the character’s makeup (e.g., from Bruno’s session):

If Granted One Wish, What Would it Be and Why: “Oh, boy, I get a wish,” he says with lackluster glee. “…I wish that American cheese was actually cheese.”

Or you could watch in amazement as various answers work together in such a way that you’re almost looking at a short story within the dialogue (which would take too much space to illustrate here, so I’ll just hope I’ve managed to build up enough credibility in your eyes that you can take my word for it). And these mini dramas can serve as inspiration for other short stories, or even for new novels. (For goodness’ sake, I hadn’t been planning to write a sequel for my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” until the rich storylines within various Merry Men questionnaires drove me to it!)

Getting to know your characters is one of the best things you can do for your stories. More than that, turning your author/character relationship into one of friendship just makes for a more rewarding experience all around. Isn’t that so, Lute old buddy?

“Oh, absolutely,” he says, tone suggestive of humoring a mental patient.

Ah, well. What’s the life of an author of fiction without a little harmless delusion?