“Ballad” Blackout Poetry

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The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And like my last post, this one features poetry, but of a different kind. Inspired, in large part, by the preferred art form of Victor Vale in V.E. Schwab’s genius anti-superhero novel, “Vicious”, these are blackout poems, or found poems – created by taking a page of text, selecting the words you wish to standout as an idea on their own, and blacking out the rest. A challenging but sometimes relaxing endeavor, I’ve found.

Below are a handful of such poems that presented themselves to me within snippets of “Ballad”. And because I’m of the opinion that most poems work best when not over-explained, I’m not going to tell you anything else about them, apart from their given titles. Poems’ text repeated below the pics, in case the images don’t show up for you. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

For Lumónd

For Lumond

Circle of the dark

Subtle gold light

(How are you real?)

Look

Understand

See the way

I see you

*

What We Were

What We Were

We were

Good – stunning – altruistic –

Hard – secret – not so secret –

Grim – dear – something approaching horror

Which were you?

*

Best Friendship

Best Friendship

Intimate friends

Which is to say,

Excessive fondness

Obvious dislike

Presence not very much minded

Difficult need

Laugh, elated

Something in some way extraordinary

*

Feel the Music

Feel the Music

Feel the music

Play a dance

Fly with abandon.

I will

*

For a Lover

For a Lover

A look (Take me)

An urgency known by heart in the heavy night (Bless the dark)

…And well into the next

<<<>>>

Voila! Those who’ve read “Ballad”, can you tell from where in the book I found the poems? Whether you’ve read “Ballad” or not, what’d you think of the poems? Do you have a favorite? If so, which and why? (Bear in mind, a blog comment is one of many ways you can enter my Rafflecopter giveaway, perchance to win cool prizes. *wiggles brows*) And to you who haven’t read “Ballad” because you’ve yet to order your copy, now’s the time to change that! It’s yours for the taking via Amazon, CreateSpace, SmashwordsBarnes & Noble, KoboOverDrive… Have at ye!

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

Which of each of the Merry Men’s quotes from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” most fully captures the essence of their respective characters?

Robin Hood: “Bureaucracy. 😛 ”

Will Scarlet: “What’d I just vote for? Wasn’t listening for the first bit, but heard something about ‘Will Scarlet,’ so…”

Little John: “Hmm.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “Well. This discussion has been all very dispiriting, I must say, but I do regretfully conclude that it has no bearing whatsoever on what I have little choice but to do.”

Marion Hood: …

Will: Marion doesn’t seem to say a lot of quintessential-Marion things.

Marion: I’m trying to move the plot along. Y’all wanna sit around and soliloquize, and I’m over here like, We’re gonna die.

Shooting Hood in the Wood

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The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And after a few minutes knocking my head against the blank, white wall of the page, trying to figure out how I wanted to introduce this post and its gallery of images, I came to an inspired remembrance: That sometimes, that’s what bards are for.

So I’m stepping aside ‘til after the main event. Take it away, Allyn-a-Dale!

<<<>>>

An author with a love of tales –

Particularly those retold

About a certain outlaw

And his band merry and bold –

Herself betook and several books

Into the German wood,

To shoot (with camera, not a bow)

A show of Robin Hood.

McKinley 04

Among the many models,

An especial favorite:

A YA reimagining

By another Robin writ.

Cody 02

A new addition to her hoard,

Centered around a Will;

A little younger than her taste,

But she enjoyed it still.

Donald 02

Here, Angus Donald’s grimmer take,

Narrated by myself.

(And purchased, ere the shop passed on,

From a Bristol Ren Faire shelf!)

Lawhead 02

Another tale of Scarlet –

Second in a trilogy

That lends a sort of Celtic air

To Hood’s mythology.

Old Ballads 02

A chance find, and a happy one,

Among used books for sale.

Old ballads – many of Robin Hood;

One even with “Allin a Dale”!

Pyle 05

No such tribute’s complete, says she,

Without a nod to Pyle,

Seen here reposed upon a tree

In harmonizing style.

Shipley 04.2

And last of all, but far from least,

The author’s own addition:

A brand new ballad joins its tune

To the honored Hood’s tradition.

<<<>>>

Beautifully told, thank you, Allyn! There are a few more book-in-the-woods shots where these came from, which will most likely find themselves on display on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

On that subject, don’t forget that following the Outlaws Tumblr is but one of several ways you can enter into my ongoing Rafflecopter giveaway! I certainly hope you’ll take advantage by some means or another; there’s cool stuff to win!

And if you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to drop everything and purchase your copy of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! (Via Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive…Take your pick!) Or, if you’ve already read the book, leave a review! Both are not only ways to earn giveaway points, but to fill an author’s sails with a blessed breeze. ❤

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

What if robin hood were a woman?

Marion raises a brow. “She might have mentioned that before our wedding.”

As told by Robin Hood and LOTR

Hello. Robin Hood, here.

Yes, THE Robin Hood. Unless you’re thinking of another of the countless versions of me. We’re kind of everywhere. For our purposes here, though, consider me “the real one”.

So, maybe you’ve not heard, but it’s Launch Week+ for “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale, the first of a novel trilogy featuring me, my merry band of outlaws, a bit of Arthuriana, Rennie culture, spontaneous song numbers… now I think it over, it really features quite a lot. And somehow, it’s fallen to me to summarize it for you – (with “Lord of the Rings” gifs. Because my author has no sense of restraint) – so you can get a feel for what the book’s about and realize just how desperately you wish to read it.

Ready? Same. Here we go.

Our story’s inciting incident takes place in a picturesque land, far, faraway…

LotR_01_tumblr_mju2ozL3Id1s8dzsqo4_250

…that’s on the verge of falling to Darkness.

Lotr_02_giphy

As the prophecy foretold.

Of course, as far as our hero, Allyn-a-Dale, is concerned, the world’s already ended, because his father just died.

Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes
Dem Frodo-a-Dale eyes

Fortunately, a living wind blows Allyn away from the encroaching doom via magic portal, because that’s just the kind of world it was.

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So Allyn lands in a forest that turns out to be part of another magic world – this one with Faeries…

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…and Merlin…

LotR_06_tumblr_lz36lsbVoN1qixiueo1_500
200% accurate

…who, unbeknownst to everyone living outside his little Renaissance Faire haven, has been looking after a crackerjack team of medieval heroes…

It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.
It may or may not have been Christmas. …Okay, it definitely wasn’t Christmas.

…including a certain legendary archer.

LotR_08_tumblr_ne7fc69EvT1s4s7m3o1_500

Which is all very well and debatably idyllic until something, shall we say, Precious is taken.

LotR_09_giphy

Only one thing to be done about it.

Hit the road.

LotR_10_tumblr_o65prvuiAY1s3ulybo3_250

Act like bosses.

LotR_11a_giphy

LotR_11b_giphy

Get it back.

When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing
When Frodo-a-Dale is completely done playing.

How’s that work out for us? Best way to find out is to read the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! Now available for purchase via Amazon (e-book and paperback), CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive… Basically anywhere they’ll take your money for it is a go.

(No theft, if you please. That’s my business. 😉 )

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

who would win in a fight: merlin or gandalf

Merlin doesn’t fight. He has People for that.

The Mega-Launch of Allyn-a-Dale

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Launch Week? Pfft, no. That’s so Wilderhark Tales. I’ve been waiting on this book’s release since NaNoWriMo 2010. This volume’s the first act in the trilogy of my heart. No way is this Launch Week.

It’s Launch Week+!

A solid month of all things “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! …Which you can at long last purchase in paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace! E-books available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and I’m pretty sure it’s on iBooks, too, but I don’t have the app, so I can’t tell. If any of you happen to purchase “Ballad” through Apple, feel free to flash me the high sign.

In honor of “Ballad”s release, e-copies of its prequel series, The Wilderhark Tales, are price-dropped on Amazon to just 99 cents each, now through July 31! If you haven’t yet, now’s the perfect time to stock your Kindle / e-reader with the collection of stories from Allyn’s pre-Avalon world. Start here with Book One!

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 5

And because I’ve yet to have a Launch Anything without a giveaway, naturally I wanna make it rain with prizes, including:

– A Map of Avalon Faire – Merry Men-signed! (5 winners)

– A Tote Bag from the Ever On Word shop on Society6 – winner gets their pick of any in-store design! (1 winner)

– A paperback copy of “Grace the Mace” by Tirzah Duncan – because she’s my BFF and I support her art (1 winner)

– A custom “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” bookmark created by Chelsea de la Cruz – because she’s another BFF and she supports my art with her art! (1 winner)

To get in on the giveaway, you can hop over to the Rafflecopter and rack up entry points by… buying “Ballad”! Reviewing “Ballad”! Adding “Ballad” to your Goodreads shelf! Leaving blog post comments! Following me on Twitter! Et cetera. You’ve got options, is what I’m sayin’.

And speaking of blog posts: Here, for your convenience, is a look at Ever On Word’s schedule for “Ballad”-related fun (complete with placeholder titles which may or may not give you much idea about the content to come).

Tuesday, July 12 = Introductory Post (you are here)

Thursday, July 14 = An Illustrated Summary of “Ballad”, as told by [wait and see!]

Saturday, July 16 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #1

Monday, July 18 = Shooting Hood in the Wood

Wednesday, July 20 = “Ballad” Blackout Poetry

Friday, July 22 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #2

Monday, July 25 = Diversity and Stuff

Wednesday, July 27 = The Many Faces of Will ‘n’ Allyn

Friday, July 29 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #3

Tuesday, August 2 = The Songs of “Ballad”, as performed by me

Friday, August 5 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #4

Tuesday, August 9 = The Bloopers of Allyn-a-Dale

Friday, August 12 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell #5, and Giveaway Winners Announced

Also, every post (minus the Kiss & Tell interviews, ‘cause I’m arbitrary like that) is going to end with a bonus treat: A selection from a little giggle project I call #HypotheticalFAQs! (Because until “Ballad” starts pulling in some actual frequently asked questions, Will Scarlet and I are not above making them up.)

Anyone else hyped yet? ‘Cause I’m darn hyped, and super looking forward to sharing all this stuff with you – most especially, the book. ❤

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

For each of the Merry Men: What’s one weird thing people don’t know about you?

Robin Hood: “I seriously thought I was going to grow up to be a priest or something.”

Marion Hood: “My eye color. My author’s never been able to decide whether it’s brown or green-hazel or what.”

Will Scarlet: “I am unaccountably fascinated by chickens.”

Little John: “I’m fluent in six languages.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “I would quite honestly rather die than give up a private truth on the Internet.”

A Few Bars of BALLAD: Stanza Three

To my readership in the U.S., Happy Independence Day, one day late! And Happy Release Day, one week early, to “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”!

Today marks the end of the pre-order campaign, though you can still pre-order the e-book (AmazonSmashwords… Barnes & Noble…) right up until next week, at which time the gorgeous paperback will launch into official availability as well. In the meanwhile…

1) “Ballad” and I had the pleasure of being featured on the Clockwork Bibliophile blog of Shannon Haggerty. Enjoy the interview at your leisure; it’s a good’un.

2) As a last hurrah before the BIG hurrah, it’s time for one more [abridged] sneak peek into the book!

Having worked with a professional man-o’-music once or twice before (hi-i-i, Gant-o’-the-Lute), I knew going into the writing of “Ballad” that a novel centering around Robin Hood’s legendary minstrel would by necessity feature its share of music. That means the lyrical prose which, to hear the remarks of reviewers, has become something of a Danielle E. Shipley signature – not to mention literal lyrics, every time Allyn informed his author it was time to insert a song.

Novel, The Musical

The following excerpt showcases the non-literal, narrative kind of lyricism as our protagonist finds himself out of the world he knew and inside the magical world of Avalon Faire. Our first sneak peek gave of us a glimpse of the isle’s Renaissance Faire disguise. Below, if you keep quiet in the trees, you’ll get an eyeful – and an earful – of the true, Fey heart of the place…

It was quiet here. Or he’d thought it so, at first. But Allyn felt, even before his ears quite heard, the faintest strains of music. It did not sound as if the music’s source could be too far off. And even if it were, what had Allyn to lose by turning to follow it? So follow he did, over the weighty, flat land, through the sharp, colorless wood, until the trees thinned almost to ending, and Allyn could make out the lawn beyond, and the people gathered upon it.

Such people! And yet at first, Allyn was hardly aware of them, so enthralled was he by the sound of their music. High and sweet as the love songs of courting birds, the melody of pipes and flutes lilted through the air. Beneath, an aural tapestry of lusty color and texture, woven by the strings. The light percussive beat of drums and bells kept the frolicsome time to which the men and women danced around a leaping fire, and it was their dancing that made Allyn-a-Dale take note of them at last.

[…] No humans he had ever seen could dance as these people could — so full of spirited, easy grace, in spite of this ground which pulled so hard. And yet, if they were not human, then Allyn could not begin to guess what they were. Not winds, from his limited experience; the evening air held calm around them. Nor was there any golden glow of the Sun in them, though Allyn might have conceded a touch of starlight about their night-dark skin. And what, Allyn wondered, as his gaze focused in closer to their ethereal faces, was he supposed to make of their ears? One and all, their ears tapered up into a dainty, leaf-like point.

…No, not all. There was one among them whose ears were wholly unremarkable — or, in the context of the others with her, quite the opposite. Her lithe figure danced along the inner circle of the lawn, her gown swirling just out of reach of the fire. Her long curls fell around her in a dark cascade, nearly black but for the subtle sheen of gold the firelight revealed. Her eyes, too, were of darkest gold, and all but caused Allyn to gasp aloud when he realized they were staring right at him.

Her look was difficult to understand. She appeared neither surprised to see the youth watching from the wood, nor in any way offended. She did not even appear curious. The look she gave him seemed to say, “I see you” — nothing more. And Allyn hadn’t the least idea how he was meant to react.

“Go over there and introduce yourself, of course,” he could hear Father say. “Give her the ol’ minstrel hello!”

The minstrel hello, Allyn repeated, lips twitching their way into something betwixt a smile and a grimace of exasperation. Is there anything that minstrels do not have in a category all to themselves?

“Nothing at all,” Father’s voice laughed. “We’re special that way.”

Allyn shook his head. I’ll not force myself upon festivities to which I’ve not been expressly invited, he thought. However, we might see what may be done in the way of a minstrel hello.

After first pulling a little further back into the trees, his bashful spirit still unsure whether he truly wanted his presence known, Allyn withdrew his lute from its place at his back. Then, his heart’s rhythm aligned to the drums of the sharp-eared folk, their harmonies washing over and through him like a gentle rain, softly — reverentially — he began to join in their song.

Could they hear it, he wondered? Or sense it, this new line of lutesong threading its way through the established tapestry of the strings? If yes, would they welcome it? If no, would he care? If all he did tonight was become a part of the music — if not a part of the company of music-makers — and no one anywhere but he himself was aware of it, would that not, if only for these few minutes, be enough?

Here I am, new world, his fingers played his shy minstrel hello. Wherever I am, I’m here.

As available here = https://society6.com/product/here-i-am-new-world_mug#s6-4369596p30a27v199
As available here = https://society6.com/everonword

And we, too, can say “hello” to the new, magical world of Avalon Faire in just one! More! Week!

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

Coming July 12!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!

A Few Bars of BALLAD: Overture

With 3 weeks ‘til the release of the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (have you pre-ordered a copy yet? Don’t forget there are thank-you gifts to snatch up!), I thought it high time for a bit of sneak-peekery. Today, we get an abridged look at…

The Prologue!

(Or rather, in keeping with “Ballad”s musical themes, the Overture.)

“A prologue, eh?” you ask. …sounding distinctly, now I think on it, like the voice of Gant-o’-the-Lute. “Aren’t those a bit frowned upon, nowadays?”

By some, I suppose. Just as there are those who aren’t big on opening a book through a side character’s point of view. But lookee there – I did that, too!

“This your idea of living on the edge, is it?”

Pfft, hardly. This has nothing to do with writerly rebellion, and everything to do with the idea that sparked this book in the first place: What if what patrons thought was a run-of-the-mill Renaissance Faire was secretly home to the real-life Robin Hood?

Most of the novel is from an insider perspective, but for the beginning, I wanted to show how Avalon Faire looks to an outsider’s eyes – to provide a baseline of normalcy against which all the magic to follow can more vividly pop. Hence the prologue overture, in which Ordinary Gal™ Loren and her sister take in a typical Ren Faire performance, and— well, why don’t you all step up to the Archer’s Green and watch for yourselves? ^^

The map that could be yours, all yours (and outlaw-signed, to boot!) with a “Ballad” e-book pre-order.
The map that could be yours, all yours (and outlaw-signed, to boot!) with a “Ballad” e-book pre-order.

…A man bedecked in a quite official-looking getup — all bright velvets and a hat to beat the band — took his place on a raised platform to one side of the Green. A fawn-brown young woman in a fuss-free gown of darker browns and greens stepped up beside him, the pair of them in the middle of a conversation so loud, it couldn’t have been intended to remain private.

“What say you, my lady?” the man asked, with a hint of swagger. “Is it not a fine day for a shooting match?”

“I daresay, sir,” the woman agreed, hands held demurely not far below the cascade of curls at her back. “But perhaps almost too fine! ‘Tis a fair-weather day, with scarce a breath of wind in the air. Surely anyone with a bow in hand could send an arrow near the mark in such ideal conditions as these — especially as you’ve placed the targets almost insultingly close by.”

“Close by, say you!” cried the man, gesturing toward the row of hay bales marked with bull’s-eyes that stood, to Loren’s mind, a rather intimidating distance from the Green’s edge. “Far enough, I’d say! Would you have me place the mark on the far side of Nottinghamshire? What man would be able to win the prize then?”

The young woman offered a sly sort of bright-eyed smile. “I know tell of one man who could.”

The spectators around the platform began to buzz and chuckle with anticipation, one or two even going so far as to call out the name they guessed was hinted at. The gaudily dressed man’s face grew comically red.

“Who dares speak that name?” he bellowed. “There will be no talk of that rogue here — not while I’m still Sheriff of Nottingham! This is a contest for honest men, not sneaking scoundrels! For men and women who like to earn their gold through fair play and skill, not tricks and robbery! Show these good people the prize, my lady!”

The crowd ooh-ed and ah-ed as the woman held up the shining article for all to see. “Behold,” cried the Sheriff. “The Golden Arrow! Let whoever aims truest today take the prize. And let’s show my lady, here, that there stands at least one in Nottinghamshire who can shoot better than even this outlaw favorite of hers! Who will aim first?”

A dozen hands shot up and waved wildly in the air, Loren’s among them. The woman on the platform made a short show of consideration before pointing the Golden Arrow at a youngster in a chainmail shirt. Loren could have screamed with jealousy; though she wasn’t overly miffed at having not been selected to shoot first, she’d have killed for some awesome chainmail.

[…] Four random others went up in succession. That Loren was not among them was more of a disappointment than a surprise. By this point in her early adult life, she was more or less resigned to the likely truth that she would never be any kind of Chosen One outside of her fantasies.

“It’s probably just as well,” she muttered as a guy in a hooded green poncho shuffled forward to have his turn. “I’d probably just end up hitting something behind me, anyway.”

“Yeah,” said Janey, the nod of her head setting her floppy hat’s bells jingling. “With the bow.”

Loren was still undecided whether to laugh or knock her sister around a little (for the love of all things medieval, she wasn’t that clumsy!) when a gasp went up from the throng. Green Poncho Guy had hit the target dead center! The crowd’s impressed cheers and whistles at their fellow amateur’s lucky shot filled the air, cut short by another startled intake of breath when a second arrow from the same bow zipped forward, splitting the first bull’s-eye arrow right down the middle.

“Ohmygosh…” Loren whispered, even as the Sheriff leaned over the end of the platform and demanded, “You there! Archer! Show your face!”

“Why, my good Sheriff,” Poncho Guy laughed, the casually grand removal of his hood revealing a fall of chestnut hair and a beard-framed grin. “Can it be that you do not know me — again?”

What comes next?! Well, to start, a short wait. But after that, the release of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” in its fantastic entirety!

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

Coming soo-oo-oon!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!

The Mark of an Outlaw

Two things.

1 = Y’know “Manifest Reality”? That horror anthology that came out on Valentine’s Day and features a ~daaaark~  little story by yours truly? Well, today the 24th through Friday the 27th, you can nab an e-copy for F R E E ! Dooo it! Tell your friends! And if, once you’ve read the book, you could do all the authors therein a solid by leaving a review, that would be beautiful of you. ❤

2 = Speaking of e-books, the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” pre-order campaign is still going!

For those who’ve forgotten or hadn’t heard, a quick rundown of what that means:

Step 1: Hit up Amazon, Smashwords, and/or Barnes & Noble and make your early purchase of a “Ballad” e-book – yours to read the instant Release Day hits on July 12. (Also distributed through Kobo and Apple iBooks, if that’s your jam.)

Step 2: E-mail me at Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net with

2a) proof of your “Ballad” e-book purchase (a receipt or screenshot of such will suffice), and

2b) the address to which you would like me to mail your very own print of the Avalon Faire map.

Step 3: Reap your thank-you goodies (i.e, the outlaw-signed map and an exclusive Smashwords coupon to pass along to a friend).

*Offer good through July 5, 2016 (one week ‘til Release Day)*

To those who have already taken advantage of this offer, first of all, THANK YOU! Second, you will get your maps! They are already signed and ready to go in addressed envelopes! It’s just that my post office situation is absurdly complicated right now, so it’s taking way longer than I’d like to get them shipped your way. No one’s more irritated about this than me, but you have my word: The maps will be sent. …maybe around the time Arthur ushers in the second age of Camelot, I don’t know…

But hey, you don’t have to wait ‘til then to see what the maps’ signatures will look like!

Because that is today’s special treat from Ever On Word to you. ^o^

Finding each of the Merry Men’s personal autographs would have been a daunting challenge – (what do I know about handwriting? I’ll probably get investigated for badly forging my own signature, one day) – if not for an assist from a fictional friend. You [barely] know him as Gilbert, the genius coloring book artist who everyone wants to marry. He was gracious enough to both figure out the outlaw band’s writing styles and provide commentary on what each signature says about the character behind it. So without any more ado…

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IMG_2550

Robin Hood

“A bold, sure ‘R’ to establish his mark, followed by a merely suggestive scrawl for the remaining letters. Were it a charitable work done for another, he’d give it more care all the way through to the end, but he never dwells long on himself. No ‘Hood’ or lordly last name present, as he doesn’t see himself in terms of the names given him by others. Inside, he has ever been simply Robin.”

<<<>>>

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Marion Hood

“In contrast, Marion strongly claims and identifies with ‘Hood’ and its associations – wife to Robin, member of Sherwood’s most honorable outlaws, eschewer of decorous noble life in favor of all of the above. Her writing is a legible mix of flourish and precision, grounded but ever ready to dash ahead. Overall, it speaks of balance – her own, and that which she brings to her familial band.”

<<<>>>

IMG_2552

Little John

“Someone of Little John’s extraordinary size in a smaller man’s world does well to learn frugality of space. His writing demonstrates that wisdom (note the economy of two ‘T’s sharing a single crossbar) as well as a quiet protectiveness (the ‘I’ and ‘L’ sheltered beneath), and his steady, level, minimalist nature (no frills anywhere, and most letters of a comparable size / overall shape). And though everyone from his bandmates to casual fans of the Robin Hood legend call him ‘Little John’, his signature identifies him by the name he was given at birth.”

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Will Scarlet

“No, of course he can’t use a black pen like everyone else. It must be red, for the color prompts in him the same gut-level response as the sound of ‘Will’. Most of the lines are hasty and sharp, in so much of a hurry to get to the end that he’s as likely to carelessly throw in extra letters as leave them unfinished. He’s not a man of details, but of vivid impressions. But as demonstrated by the grand, showy ‘S’, he’s never too busy to display his foppish side. He’s also left-handed, which may tell you the smallest of somethings about how his brain works (while leaving the rest an unholy mystery).”

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<<<>>>

Allyn-a-Dale

“For the band’s minstrel, a written signature is less about its visual appearance, and more about the movement of making it – the rhythm in the writing. Each letter flows one into the other, smooth and lyrical. An understated, unassuming signature, yet as full of Allyn as any song he sings.”

<<<>>>

Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

Pre-order today!

Band Signatures

You Can’t Miss It

I made it back to Germany alive! …Which is mostly important because it means that my next novel – i.e. the first installment of my three-part love letter to the Robin Hood legend –  is still on track to release on schedule.

Fact 1: One of the very many things that makes “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” a delight of a book is… it comes with a map.

Ballad Cover, front 02

That’s right. A professionally hand-drawn fantasy map, up at the front of the book. I’m told readers go nuts for that kind of thing, so when I rubbed elbows with a mapmaker at my home Renaissance Faire – (big thanks, Jesse Kennedy!) – you better believe I commissioned him to cartographize* the magical Avalon Faire, home to Camelot’s heroes and Sherwood’s most wanted.

*(Pretend“cartograph” has a verb form.)

But why stop at a map in a book when you can have, say, a print of a map on your wall, too?

Benevolent overlord author that I am, I would like to gift you this.

I would also like to sell a heck-ton of copies of “Ballad”.

I have hopefully thought up a way to achieve both.

Fact 2: E-books of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” are **Now Available For Pre-Order**

…And those who pre-order said e-books will be rewarded.

Step 1: Hit up Amazon, Smashwords, and/or Barnes & Noble and make your early purchase of “Ballad” – yours to read the instant Release Day hits on July 12. (Also distributed through Kobo and Apple iBooks, if that’s your jam.)

Step 2: E-mail me at Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net with

2a) proof of your “Ballad” e-book purchase (a receipt or screenshot of such will suffice), and

2b) the address to which you would like me to mail your very own print of the Avalon Faire map.

Step 3: Reap your thank-you goodies.

*Offer good through July 5, 2016 (one week ‘til Release Day)*

Avalon Faire Map, sneak preview
Avalon Faire Map, sneak preview

Fact 3: You won’t get only a map…

Your prize map will be autographed by none other than Robin Hood and his merry band!

That is, it’s my hand doing the autographing, but I worked out with the band what each of their individual signatures would look like, so huzzah.

What’s more, the first 20 people to pre-order will receive a Smashwords coupon for a second “Ballad” e-book for a friend! Know somebody who you think could use more minstrelsy, magic, or Merry Men in their lives? Give them the coupon with my regards!

And if I reach 50 pre-orders? *wiggles brows* Everybody gets an additional mystery prize.

Whereas if I reach 100 pre-orders, I’ll probably ugly-cry with joy. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

What about the paperbacks?

I’d love to have those available for pre-order too, buuuuut I don’t know how to make that work. So you’ll have to wait ‘til closer to Release Day for a “Ballad” hard copy. And of course, Launch Week will come with its own giveaway prizes, so here’s looking forward to July!

In summary: Maps are awesome. I’ve got “Ballad” and maps. Tell your friends. 😀

Next Day Edit: Apparently I can’t type my own e-mail address. <_< That’s Danielle.E.Shipley@comcast.net, folks. Apologies to anyone who may have tried to contact me without that all-important second C.

Less-Than-Hidden In Plain Sight

Everybody know what day it is?!

“My birthday!” cries Will Scarlet.

No, that was actually yesterday.

“The Ides of March,” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Caesar beware. But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

Elaborate fake shrugs from both. “Then we give up.” “Whatever could it be?” “The suspense!” “Oh, pray, do tell!”

You goof-nuts know perfectly well: It’s Cover Reveal Day for your very first novel!

“Noooooo!” Will gasps in delight.

“Show!” Allyn commands.

Very merrily do I…

Cover and Spine, Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale
(Pictured here: Front cover and spine)

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) — a contemporary YA fantasy coming your way on July 12, 2016!

Huge thanks to Lars and Milan van de Goor for the photography and design!

You can read my thoughts on the cover (and maybe a sneak peek inside of the book itself… *wiggles brows*) via the wonderful volunteers who have joined me in sharing “Ballad”s face on their blogs. (To see me pointing and hollering thanks to them individually, watch my Twitter.) As for here and now, I’mma step aside and let certain other relevant parties share their opinions. Merry Men: Sound off!

Robin Hood

Robin Hood = “Nice,” he says, eyes a-sparkle. “Very ‘spirit of Sherwood.’ Why, the way through the woods looks good enough to commit robbery upon!”

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<<<>>>

Marion Hood = “I love the light,” she enthuses. “You couldn’t do this book’s cover without a touch of magic, and those golden rays provide just that. Plus, how could I not love the robin?”

<<<>>>

Will Scarlet = “Needs more Will Scarlet,” he declares. “Preferably shirtless. Or in lieu of that, at least throw in a showy splash of red, somewhere. But I mean, if we’ve got to go in another direction, this is pretty, too. *Cough*, just not as pretty as me.”

<<<>>>

Little John = *silent nod of approval*

Meekest of Minstrels

<<<>>>

Allyn-a-Dale = “It’s the wrong lute, of course,” he murmurs, with a glance toward me. “A photograph of your instrument, not mine. But the facts aside, the book’s truth shows through rather well. Though it does not show everything – no cover could – I believe it hints at the heart. I can hear my story in it – shining in the sunlight, breezing through the trees, captured in the letterwork’s curves. The music is a match, so I am pleased.”

I could ask for no more. ^o^ …No, scratch that: I could ask that the gorgeous book be out and in readers’ hands YESTERDAY. Alas, we’ve still got a few months to wait. Feel free to add “Ballad” to your to-read list on Goodreads in the meanwhile!

So, world at large – what do YOU think of the cover and novel soon to come? Share below!

Kiss, Marry, Kill

Welcome to the Stranger Than Truth Club Minutes, featuring conversations between me and my closest group of friends – one, my IRL bestie, the rest… a little reality-impaired.

“But what we lack in so-called reality,” Will Scarlet inserts, “we make up for in awesomeness!”

Fact, that.

The way of it is, the Stranger Than Truth Club takes people from all walks of life, universes, times, and species, and brings us together through beautiful, ever-evolving, cross-plane friendships.

I wish I could give you a glimpse into our insightful, loving, hilarious, open community. Unfortunately, I can only give you transcripts of our idiocy.

And so without further ado: Truth is stranger than fiction. We are—

Stranger Than Truth 02

In which the StT gang plays “Kiss, Marry, Kill”. 3 names. 3 choices. Unlimited shenanigans.

<<<>>>

Amie, Tirzah, Apple

Bruno: Sy, you’re into forgiveness, right?

Sy: *flat look*

Bruno: That’s what I thought. It’s all fun and priesthood until you go after his daughter.

<<<>>>

Galahad, Gawain, Gilbert

Arthur: There’s probably a better system to base this around than ‘can I marry Gilbert, please’… And I’d get Looks from Lancelot if I killed Galahad.

Bedivere: Everyone gets Looks from Lancelot, sire. It’s the only look he has.

Arthur: Guess that settles that. Sorry about killing you, Gawain; you gave me exceptional service.

Gawain: Just what everyone wants to hear before his king kills him.

<<<>>>

Lancelot, Mordred, Will Scarlet

Dalvin: The trouble with killing Mordred right off is that you then must kiss and marry Lancelot and Scarlet.

Mordred: You just assume he kills me?

Bedivere: Um, enemy of the state. …But really, of these three, you might make the best husband. I’ll kill Will. He’s a literal red shirt. And that way I get to make out with Lancelot and make him super uncomfortable. He’ll probably punch me.

<<<>>>

Dalvin: I’ll kill Allyn. He’ll appreciate it most.

<<<>>>

Lute, Gawain, Robin Hood

Amie: I’ll probably marry Robin… kiss Gawain… and run from Allyn for the rest of my life.

Robin: We’ll live on the lam. Trust me, it’s fun.

<<<>>>

Arthur, Little John, Gilbert

Robin: A couple of my best friends and Gilbert. Really, Marion. It’s a good thing you’re not on this list, or you know what’d happen to you.

Marion: You’d marry me.

Robin: Under protest.

*

Robin [mutters]: If I were a real trickster god, I could get out of this…

*

Robin: Would everyone – just hypothetically – know I killed Arthur? Or would it be sorta ~mysterious~?

<<<>>>

Tirzah: Weylah can’t pick for Little John. She’s too kind. She’d pick, like, herself, Marion, and… Guy of Gisborne.

<<<>>>

Gilbert, Villem, Sy

Edgwyn: Maybe I’ll be the monster who kills Gilbert so I can kiss Villem and marry Sy. Sy’s my baby; I can’t do anything horrible to him.

Sy: Except kill Gilbert.

Edgwyn: !!! Oh, no! You needed him! This is going to be a very strained marriage.

Sy: Damn it, man, you killed my first choice for husband.

Gilbert: *isn’t sure whether he’s laughing or crying*

Official cinnamon roll of the StT universe.

<<<>>>

Little Allyn: Finally, I get to kill someone! And kiss someone! And marry someone! It’s like everything I ever wanted!

<<<>>>

Lute: You’re in a bad position, Syawn. Everyone knows all your weak spots.

Sy: I know. That’s why I try to keep all the power.

Danielle: Heart on sleeve, hammer in hand. Back up.

<<<>>>

Allyn: I’d have to kill Danielle. It would upset Father least.

Danielle: Nice.

Lute: My books are written.