On Me and Matrimony

Ah, Valentine’s Day – or Singles Awareness Day, as I’ve heard it alternatively called.

Like most holidays, it’s just another day to me. But what with the upcoming release of Outlaws of Avalon 2 – “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” – perhaps it’s no surprise that the other day found me with marriage on my mind. My dreams around that much-romanticized institution have certainly undergone a number of transitions, through the years. From innocent…

5-year-old Me: *wants to marry Aladdin*

Aladdin: *is with Jasmine*

5yo Me: “Oh. …Okay, but can I be Aladdin, though?”

*

Tween Me: “Boys are gross.”

Grownups: “You won’t always think so. ;)”

Future Me to Tween Me: *whispers* “Spoiler alert. Everybody’s gross.”

me-to-me

…To psychotic…

Teen Me: *wants to marry Kevin of the Backstreet Boys*

Kevin: *is already married*

Teen Me: “That’s too bad.” *shoulders imaginary shotgun* “…For his wife.”

*

Teen Me: *wants to marry a certain boy from art camp*

Teen Me: *follows him everywhere until he’s sick of me*

Future Me: *bumps into the boy again at a concert* … *also, his fiancée*

Future Me: *smiles the smile of the Forever Alone™ *

*

New Adult Me: *scans every male face encountered, searching for husband potential*

New Adult Me: *is continually confused/disappointed that not one outing yet has resulted in a “how I met your super-cute billionaire grandfather” story*

*

New Adult Me: *wants to marry Edgwyn Wyle*

Edgwyn: *is already married*

New Adult Me: “WHY? Whyyy did I write that?!” *curses self for a fool*

whyyy
Because of course his wife was the only thing standing between me and this fictional character…

…To pessimistic.

Mid-20s Me: “If I truly loved a man, could I really condemn him to a life of matrimonial bondage to an asexual head case like me?”

BFF: “You maybe shouldn’t, no.”

Mid-20s Me: “Nobody asked you, villain.”

*

Mom: “Your special someone is out there.”

Late-20s Me: *smiling the smile of the Forever Alone™ * Okay.

*

Late-20s Me: “If only I could just marry Will Scarlet and call it a day.”

Will: *laughs too loud and long for anybody’s comfort* “Babe, I love you like no other, but not in a million universes would that work.”

Which brings us to this fine February 14, 2017. ^_^

Me after Germany: “I would rather die than live in a house with some man in it again.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “To be fair, you would rather die than do most things, these days.”

Me: “True. Say, Allyn, what are your thoughts on marriage?”

Allyn: *shrugs* “I was raised in a fairytale world. What do I know?”

Me: “Once your second novel is through with you, maybe a little more…

*

marriage-cover-final-frontThere’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.

As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.

(Also, the door’s still open for folks interested in an early read ‘n’ review of the book. Hit me up if you want in!)

Burning Bridges (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every other Friday—” says Allyn-a-Dale.

“Barring an influx of Kiss & Tell interviews or some such, evidently,” Will inserts.

“—Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Burning Bridges’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a Japanese-style footbridge over a faux pond covered in water lilies. The backdrop is painted with colorful, Impressionistic strokes, and prop weeping willows sway in the breeze of offstage fans. Also weeping, Will Scarlet stands in the bridge’s center, clutching a small, ribbon-bound bouquet of flowers to his chest. Enter Allyn-a-Dale.]

Bridge

Allyn [with a gasp, hastening to the bridge ]: Will! Whatever’s the matter?

Will [in between sobs ]: It’s Chelsea.

Allyn: Chelsea de la Cruz?

Will [theatrically struggling to keep it together ]: I was supposed to meet up with her, and I figured I’d do it here – since, y’know, we wanted someplace romantic, and Yves said it’d be cool if we used his little Monet-esque garden hangout spot from INSPIRED – and I was gonna give her flowers and tell her how awesome she is and how looking at her face just makes me wanna kiss it like she’s on my talk show

Allyn: Yes, and? What went wrong?

Will [sniffling ]: Well… I may or may not have been flirting with this other girl on Facebook…

Allyn [mouth in a grim line ]: Meaning you definitely were.

Will [hangs his head ]: I never thought it would upset Chelsea! I mean, come on, I flirt with everything! Sarcophagi and people’s couches, manspreaders, the fine line between genius and crazy… You can’t take it personally! [hiccup ] But she obviously did, because she… she…

Allyn: She what?

Will [falls to knees, head thrown back in a howl ]: She JUMPED! She posted a picture of a bridge on my Facebook timeline, and said she was jumping!

Allyn: Oh, my word…

Will [clutching at Allyn’s shirt, voice gone completely tear-clogged ]: By boor, sweed Chelsea… Brovider of such brilliant Interactive Theatre skid brompts as Hobbid spoofs and Candy Dragons and the Buffwolf… and by rebrobate ways have destroyed her will do liiiiiive!

Allyn: Your lack of enunciation is having a similar effect on me. Get a grip, Scarlet! It may be there is yet time to forestall any drastic measures on Chelsea’s part. That photo she posted on your timeline – did she include a location?

[Making noises less intelligible by the moment, Will pulls his phone from his pocket and hands it to Allyn. A few taps and slides on the touchscreen later…]

Allyn: All right, there’s the bridge picture. [reading the caption ] “Hashtag am jumping”, “hashtag… for joy”?

Will [tears abruptly ceasing ]: Wait, what?

Allyn: Will, you idiot, she says she’s excited for your scheduled hangout, and she’s waiting for you! …On a bridge on her plane of reality, by the way.

Will: Oh. Right. I guess that makes more sense than a corner of Danielle’s novel, huh? Shoot, I’d better get moving before she thinks I stood her up. [leaps to his feet, vaults off the bridge and off the stage ]

[Shaking his head, Allyn begins tapping the phone’s touchscreen anew, narrating his online message aloud.]

Allyn: “Allyn here”… “Will on his way”… “$5 says he flirts with his own tear-puffed eyes.”

Will [calling from offstage ]: In my defense, they’ll be red! Hashtag hot.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to – appropriately enough – audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘the Buffwolf’ and ‘bridges (especially the romantic kind)’. …Not to mention the true story upon which this skit was based.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Wilderhark Six Launches Out to Sea

Happy book birthday to “The Surrogate Sea”!

We’ve got a big Launch Week ahead of us, thanks not least to the number of topnotch bloggers who’ve been so good as to volunteer as hosts for my virtual book tour. See the end of this post for the full schedule, and be sure to check out all the tour stops as they go live so you don’t miss out on any of the special features!

Where to Get the Book

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Novella

Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales novellas is available to purchase in both paperback (Amazon and CreateSpace) and e-book (Kindle and Nook). If you haven’t ordered your copy(ies) yet, now’s the perfect time – because, as always, you’ll not only get a fantastic story, but those purchases will get you raffle points in my weeklong giveaway!

What You Could Win

One set of all 3 “Surrogate Sea” portrait bookmarks (as designed by Wilderhark artist extraordinaire, Yana Naumova)

OR

One set of 6 Wilderhark banner bookmarks (as seen in descending order among my blog’s sidebar miscellany)

OR

One super-special, limited edition, behind-the-scenes “Surrogate Sea Word-Sketch Book”, featuring not only all of the cool content shared throughout the blog tour, but also artwork created by the one and only Tirzah Duncan and yours truly.

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Giveaway

How to Enter

Buy a copy of “Surrogate Sea”, print or e-book = 10 raffle points

Buy a copy of any other Wilderhark Tale, print or e-book = 10 raffle points

Buy a copy of any other title with my name on it (Inspired, One More Day, Legends and Lore, Toll of Another Bell) = 10 raffle points

Surrogate Sea and Me 1

– Review “Surrogate Sea” on Amazon / B&N / Goodreads / Your Blog = 7 points for each instance

– Change your social media profile pic to the “Surrogate Sea” cover for the week (Tuesday through Monday) = 7 points

– Share/Tweet about “Surrogate Sea”s launch = 1 point for each time

– Share/RT any “Surrogate Sea”-related post I tag with: *Share/RT for entry in #WilderharkTales6 giveaway!* = 1 for each time

*** And don’t forget to let me know – via Facebook, Twitter, or the comments below – when you’ve earned an entry, so I can make sure to keep all your points tallied! ***

Blog Tour Schedule

Follow along with these fine blogger friends!

Thursday, March 19th =

Jodi L. Milner, Author (Spotlight)

Tuesday, March 24th =

Book Marauder (Spotlight)

D. Lee Jortner (Author Interview)

The Flight Reflex (Guest Post)

Shout with Emaginette (Guest Post)

Wednesday, March 25th =

The Black Hound’s Daughter (Letter from Author to Character)

Laney McMann (Flash Fiction)

Thursday, March 26th =

A Drip of Truth (Flash Fiction)

Dreaming Awake (Character Profile)

The Ink Caster (Character Interview)

Rie Sheridan Rose – The Bardabee Poet (Letter from Character to Author)

Friday, March 27th =

Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Flash Fiction)

The Feather and the Rose (Author Interview)

Scribbler’s Sojourn (Poem)

Saturday, March 28th =

Flame Writer (Character Interview)

Four Thousand Words (Author Interview)

YA Chit Chat (Character Profile)

Sunday, March 29th =

Mere Joyce (Spotlight)

The Parasite Guy (Character Profile)

Monday, March 30th =

Julie Antonovich Reece (Flash Fiction)

OriginiquEquanimity (Guest Post)

Ravenhart (Guest Post, Author Interview)

Rewan Tremethick (Author Interview)

The Storm of the South (“Surrogate Sea” Bookmark Giveaway)

One week* ‘til the launch of “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”!

*(Though, WHEE! You can totally order it early! Like, NOW! Pre-order the Kindle e-book here! Or the paperback here or here! Or the Nook e-book here!)

Also known as, a perfect day to show off a little Wilderhark swag, a quickie peek at a related snippet from the book, and – oh, yeah – let you know that, this week only, in honor of the upcoming release of Book Six, you can get the Kindle e-book of Book Five for just 99 cents!

That’s right – “The Sun’s Rival” Kindle e-book can be yours (or your friends’, or their friends’…!) at a delightfully discounted $0.99. Because while Book Six can absolutely be enjoyed on its own, the series is best experienced from start to end. ^_^ Spread the word!

Sun's Rival 99 Cents

And now, brought to you by the talented hand of Wilderhark Artist Yana Naumova, here’s the bringer of rain and master of guile, Austeryn, Wind of the South!

Austeryn, art gallery size

<> ~ <> ~ <>

The expression on Austeryn’s face was impossible to read. “My daughter has fallen in love with Ionquin Wyle?”

“Yes, after she saved him from her storm, the other day.”

“So you have taken her place…”

“That’s right,” Liliavaine said, bracing herself as the wind drew forward, in case he intended another wrathful attack.

But on the contrary, Austeryn only clasped his liquid-and-air hands to her shoulders, his lips stretched into a seemingly delighted smile. “Thank you, Liliavaine. You have done both Muirigan and me a great service.”

Liliavaine ducked her head. “I am pleased to hear it, though I confess I agreed to my part in this with little thought to charity. I only wished to be the Sea that I might…” Shyness tinged her cheeks pink before she finished, “That I might seek a love.”

“Seek a love?” Austeryn chuckled. “That would be an awkward thing. You’re already married.”

Liliavaine’s head jerked up, her eyes round with shock and brows knitted in confusion. “Married?! No I’m not! To whom??”

Ticking off the points on his fingers, Austeryn replied, “Item one, yes, married. Item two, yes you are. Item three…” He smiled. “To me.”

<> ~ <> ~ <>

“The Surrogate Sea” in its entirety officially launches Tuesday, March 24. In the meantime, who’d like to win a bookmark with the Austeryn portrait shown here? There are five ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Order your copy of “The Surrogate Sea” via any of the links shared at the beginning of this post, and comment here with the word, “Ordered!”

2) Add “The Surrogate Sea” to your Goodreads shelf and comment here with the word, “Added!”

3) Order your 99-cent Kindle e-copy of “The Sun’s Rival” (or, if you already own the e-book, gift one to somebody! Or both! Still just 99 cents!), and comment here with, “Just bought Book 5!”

4) Comment here with your answer to the question, “What is your favorite kind of weather and why?”

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

And/or 5) Incidentally, it’s the 1-year anniversary of INSPIRED! ^o^ So, leave your favorite quote from the book below, and it’s a giveaway entry, yo!

One winner will be selected at random and contacted over the weekend. Best of luck to all entrants!

Book Banner, Surrogate Sea

The Sea’s storm brought them together, and the Sea’s rules will keep them apart, unless the mute but melodious Muirigan can find another to take her place, freeing her to pursue the human man she loves. But when her plan collides with the schemes of the sly South Wind, a princess’s agenda to look for love in all the most fantastic places, and a prince whose head and heart have been long years at war, the result is a tragedy of errors from which the world might never recover.

The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)

“The Surrogate Sea, more than any other Wilderhark tale to date, takes the heartstrings and pulls them out from under you. There is fury, ecstasy, heartache, and resignation to be found within these pages beautifully bound up in true love and tragedy as only Ms. Shipley can.” – early praise from reader Chelsea de la Cruz

The Princess and the Sea (“Surrogate Sea” Bookmark Giveaway)

Two weeks* ‘til the launch of “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”!

*(Though, WHEE! The Kindle e-book is available for pre-order NOW!)

Also known as, a perfect day to show off a little Wilderhark swag and a quickie peek at a related snippet from the book. ;D Brought to you by the talented hand of Wilderhark Artist Yana Naumova, here are (left to right) Muirigan, daughter of wind and water, and Princess Liliavaine of Denebdeor!

Lily and Muirigan, art gallery size

<> ~ <> ~ <>

Muirigan shook her head sorrowfully. I cannot survive beyond the reach of my greater self.

I cannot leave.

Unless… Muirigan turned to Liliavaine, her eyes alight with some new hope.

“Unless what?”

Unless I were not the Great Sea, she wrote.

Unless someone else were the Sea.

Someone like you.

“Me?” The human princess gaped. “But that’s absurd. One does not simply wake up one morning and decide to become the sea!”

True, Muirigan agreed.

But the Sea can decide to pass her greater self onto another.

That is how I became the Great Sea, and how Mother became the Great Sea before me.

Everything must die, but there must always be a Sea.

<> ~ <> ~ <>

“The Surrogate Sea” in its entirety launches Tuesday, March 24. In the meantime, who’d like to win a bookmark with the portrait of Muirigan and Liliavaine shown here? There are two ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Pre-order your Kindle e-copy of “The Surrogate Sea” and comment here with the word, “Pre-ordered!”

2) Add “The Surrogate Sea” to your Goodreads shelf and comment here with the word, “Added!”

And/or 3) Comment here with your answer to the question, “If you could wake up as anyone different, just for a day or three, who would you choose and why?”

One winner will be selected at random and contacted over the weekend. Best of luck to all entrants!

Book Banner, Surrogate Sea

The Sea’s storm brought them together, and the Sea’s rules will keep them apart, unless the mute but melodious Muirigan can find another to take her place, freeing her to pursue the human man she loves. But when her plan collides with the schemes of the sly South Wind, a princess’s agenda to look for love in all the most fantastic places, and a prince whose head and heart have been long years at war, the result is a tragedy of errors from which the world might never recover.

The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)

“Seriously. These books just keep getting better and better! Danielle Shipley has…written a book that totally tugged at my heartstrings and made me love her characters more and more!” – early praise from reader Emerald Barnes

The Prince and the Forest (“Surrogate Sea” Bookmark Giveaway)

Three weeks ‘til the launch of “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”! Also known as, a perfect day to show off a little Wilderhark swag, a quickie peek at a related snippet from the book, and – oh, yeah – let you know that, this week only, in honor of the upcoming release of Book Six, you can get the Kindle e-book of Book Three for just 99 cents!

That’s right – “The Seventh Spell” Kindle e-book can be yours (or your friends’, or their friends’…!) at a delightfully discounted $0.99. Because while Book Six can absolutely be enjoyed on its own, the series is best experienced from start to end. ^_^ Spread the word!

Seventh Spell 99 Cents

And now, brought to you by the talented hand of Wilderhark Artist Yana Naumova, here’s the dreamy Crown Prince of Denebdeor, Ionquin Wyle!

Ionquin, art gallery size

<> ~ <> ~ <>

The sky was still the pearly gray of predawn when the prince stepped beneath the canopy of leaves. Almost at once, a sense of calm began to settle over him, the undercurrent of unrest carried within him for what felt like a lifetime now melting into the shadows. After a period of unhurried walking, Ionquin simply stood, head tipped back and eyes closed, content to breathe in the air saturated with quiet and stillness and that near-inexpressible essence of the woods – what he’d come to refer to as “the time of the trees”.

When his eyes opened, they were met by those of an even deeper, greener hue than their own, gazing from a face which seemed somehow both older and younger than it looked. Ionquin recognized the man right away – if a man he could rightly be called – and greeted him politely. “A good morning to you, Wilderhark.”

“And to you, Prince Ionquin,” the forest replied, his voice like the rustle of the leaves inside of him. He stepped closer, towering a full head taller than Ionquin (who was by no means short), those ancient eyes scrutinizing the young man’s face. “What unhappiness brings you here?”

<> ~ <> ~ <>

“The Surrogate Sea” in its entirety launches Tuesday, March 24. In the meantime, who’d like to win a bookmark with the Ionquin portrait shown here? There are three ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Add “The Surrogate Sea” to your Goodreads shelf and comment here with the word, “Added!”

And/or 2) Order your 99-cent Kindle e-copy of “The Seventh Spell” (or, if you already own the e-book, gift one to somebody! Or both! Still just 99 cents!), and comment here with, “Just bought Book 3!”

And/or 3) Comment here with your answer to the question, “Where is your happy place?”

One winner will be selected at random and contacted over the weekend. Best of luck to all entrants!

Book Banner, Surrogate Sea

The Sea’s storm brought them together, and the Sea’s rules will keep them apart, unless the mute but melodious Muirigan can find another to take her place, freeing her to pursue the human man she loves. But when her plan collides with the schemes of the sly South Wind, a princess’s agenda to look for love in all the most fantastic places, and a prince whose head and heart have been long years at war, the result is a tragedy of errors from which the world might never recover.

The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)

“As usual, Ms. Shipley has spun a tale that kept me riveted and on the edge of my seat. … If you haven’t read this spectacular series, I suggest you start from the beginning and give yourself the gift of [the] Wilderhark Tales.” – early praise from reader Kim Matura

Shine On, SUN’S RIVAL!

Ladies and gentlemen, the day of “The Sun’s Rival” has dawned! It’s up in paperback (Amazon, CreateSpace) and/or e-book (Kindle, Nook)! Let the wild rumpus commence!

Sun's Rival Launch Week Tour, Novella

And by “wild rumpus”, I mean this blog tour-wide Rafflecopter giveaway in which there are such goodies to be won as sun and moon heart pendants, selected chapters with author and character commentary, a complete set of signed bookmarks, and an e-copy of the book.

As brought to you by the PendantLab
As brought to you by the PendantLab Etsy shop

“Hold on a moment,” says Laraspur. “Did you say ‘blog tour’?”

That I did! For some jolly good friends of mine, all of whom ROCK, have volunteered to spread the “Sun’s Rival” love on their blogs during Launch Week. ^_^ Watch this space (and my Twitter feed, and quite probably my Facebook author page) for links as the posts go live!

“This Rafflecopter business, though,” inserts Ionquin Wyle. “That’s a bit of a departure for you, isn’t it? Don’t your Wilderhark releases usually come with some little hand-drawn raffle?”

Indeed they do. And I’m a sucker for tradition. So for this release, I’m running TWO giveaways!

“Lunacy!” cries Edgwyn Wyle.

If generosity counts as madness, Edg, the white coats would lock you up long before me. ;D Now, here’s how to earn entries for Giveaway #2:

Post about “The Sun’s Rival” giveaway on Facebook+1 (there is no limit on how many times you can do this; each new share/original post earns you another point)

Share a selfie of you with your Wilderhark swag = +3 (pose with a paperback, your e-reader, any prizes you’ve won in past Wilderhark Tales giveaways… I’d just love to see how they make you smile!)

Become a fan of the Wilderhark Tales on Pubslush.com = +3 per title (“Swan Prince“, “Stone Kingdom“, “Seventh Spell“, “Song Caster“, “Sun’s Rival“)

Buy a copy (e-book or paperback) of “The Sun’s Rival” via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CreateSpace+10 (incidentally, an Amazon paperback purchase comes with a free Kindle e-version. Juuust so you know. ^.^)

Leave a review on Amazon and/or B&N and/or Goodreads of any available Wilderhark Tales title = +10 points for each (and yes, copy/pasting the same review to all sites is totally legit! …Reviewing without having actually read the books first? Not so much. Maybe don’t do that)

Buy a copy (e-book or paperback) ofLegends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions” = +7 (plus the warm glow that comes of knowing you’ll be supporting not only me, but all the other awesome authors in the collection!)

Buy a copy (e-book or paperback) ofOne More Day” = +7 (in honor of my anthology publication from last year sharing a release day with “Sun’s Rival” ^_^)

Tra-la. Tons of points, easily earned. Just be sure to let me know when you’ve fulfilled a task (comment on this post, tag/mention me on Facebook/Twitter, whatever), and into the raffle your points go.

Five winners will receive a signed bookmark set, and their choice of one of four Wilderhark Tales “READ” postcards (featuring the ridiculously adorable clay art of fan/friend Chelsea de la Cruz) displayed below!

"Swan Prince" desgin, with Sula and Villem
“Swan Prince” design, with Sula and Villem

"Stone Kingdom" design, with Edgwyn and Rosalba
“Stone Kingdom” design, with Edgwyn and Rosalba

"Seventh Spell" design, with Villem, Gant-o'-the-Lute, Edgwyn, Sula, and Rosalba
“Seventh Spell” design, with Villem, Gant-o’-the-Lute, Edgwyn, Sula, and Rosalba

"Song Caster" design, with Gant-o'-the-Lute
“Song Caster” design, with Gant-o’-the-Lute

Additionally, one of those five winners will get the bonus of **all four postcards** and a Secret Prize to be announced at the end of Thursday’s post. Stay tuned!

Moonlight Reflections (“Sun’s Rival” Tease & Giveaway)

With a week and a day ‘til the December 2nd release of the “The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)” – (although, BIG HONKING NEWS, the Kindle e-book is now available for pre-order, whee-ha!) – here’s a peek at what’s coming in the novella – as well as a chance to win one of Wilderhark artist Yana Naumova’s gorgeous bookmarks!

<> ~ <> ~ <>

“Enjoy the clear skies while you can,” the voice he despised above all others spoke from behind him. “It won’t last forever.”

“Nothing does,” said Lumónd – in a considerable act of self-will, keeping the sudden tension in his jaw out of his voice. He cast a cool glance over his shoulder. “You’re up late, brother. Is it for no reason other than to follow me?”

His brother advanced ‘til they stood side by side, then took just one step more. Lumónd couldn’t even be certain whether the show of dominance was done deliberately, or if it was simply Raeóryn being Raeóryn.

“I expect we’re both here with the same motive,” said the golden king. “Room to breathe.”

Then you ought to have stayed inside, Lumónd thought frostily. For the two of them together, there was never room enough.

If Raeóryn felt the same way, he refused to show it – only inhaled long and deep, then released the air in a satisfied ahhh. “The day went well,” he observed.

Lumónd nodded, conceding the statement’s truth. The princess and her parents had responded favorably, as of course no one had ever doubted they would; not with his dazzlingly charming brother doing most of the talking. On occasion, the conversation drew onto the verge of turning in a precarious direction. Raeóryn’s aforementioned dazzle had deflected most of it. When necessary, Lumónd had discreetly taken care of the rest – particularly during dinner, at about which time he could see his brother’s naturally persuasive energy begin to fade.

If all went as hoped, everything would be made known soon enough, with no more need for secrets. Until then, best to keep quiet certain… irrelevancies. For now, Princess Laraspur would remain in the dark.

Lumónd, art gallery size

Laraspur. Lumónd closed his eyes, his mind’s eye gazing upon the sleeping princess. Her hair tumbled across her pillow, framing the pale circle of her peaceful face in the moonlight. His heart trembled at the very sight of her.

“Stop that.”

Raeóryn delivered the command like a backhand. Lumónd held unflinching.

“Why?” He slid his eyes around to point at his brother behind lashes raised only partway. His mouth’s corners curled upward, defiant. “Just because you can’t?”

“Because,” said Raeóryn, his gaze hot enough to blister, “she is not yours.”

“Nor is she yours.”

A dismissive sniff of a breath. “Don’t let’s play games, little brother. We both know there is no question—”

“Oh, none at all,” Lumónd said bitterly. “There never is, with you. Everything in your world is so perfectly ordered. Dawn in the east and dusk in the west. Spring follows winter, and summer, spring. And given a choice between you and me, certainly no young woman in possession of her senses would choose me.”

“And we will assume,” said Raeóryn, in patronizing tones, “that Princess Laraspur is in possession of her senses and shall remain so, will we not?”

Lumónd refused to dignify that with a response.

Raeóryn tipped his head back, contemplative gaze on the patterns of stars overheard. “I do wonder,” he mused, “why you even bothered to come here.”

With a shake of the head like a shrug, he turned on his heel and departed, leaving Lumónd alone with the empty night.

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I dunno, guys – looking at that utterly stunning Lumónd bookmark, there might be someone out there willing to choose him over their senses. (*coughs* *volunteers as tribute* *coughs*) And as of now, that author-signed bookmark is up for grabs. I’ll tell you how to win it, after a quick word from an advance reader on why they love “The Sun’s Rival”, as quoted from Goodreads*:

“I adore how [Shipley combines] fantasy, adventure and romance into a story I can’t put down. I have read all the Wilderhawk Tales and each one is better than the last.” – Kim Matura

*Speaking of Goodreads, I’ve got another giveaway going on over there. (Does my mad generosity have no end?!) From here ‘til Release Day, enter to win one of five beautiful paperbacks of “The Sun’s Rival”! …or order it now. Either’s awesome. ^_^

And now, the question of the day: What choice(s) have you made in spite of sense, and how’d that work out for you? ^^

Answer below, and one commenter (chosen at random one week from today) shall win the prize. Good luck to all entrants, and here’s counting down the days until “Sun’s Rival”s release!

Time-Honored Traditions (“Sun’s Rival” Tease & Giveaway)

With one month ‘til the December 2nd release of the “The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)”, here’s a peek at what’s coming in the novella – as well as a chance to win one of Wilderhark artist Yana Naumova’s gorgeous bookmarks!

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“A tradition of strange adventures, you say?” Raeóryn tipped his head in interest. “And what was the nature of your adventure, Princess?”

“Oh, I haven’t had any.”

“…Yet,” Raeóryn suggested.

Laraspur’s brows drew together in a pensive frown. “I’m not altogether sure I want one. I wouldn’t mind traveling to far-off places, as I daresay that much would be all very exciting. But whenever my parents talk about it – or, rather, don’t talk about it – just for a moment, their eyes turn so weary and sad, it makes me wonder at adventure’s cost. I think… I think they must have come very close to losing each other.”

“And the thought of losing someone you love frightens you?”

“Of course,” said Laraspur, brows now rearranged in an expression of confusion. “Does it not frighten you?”

“Frighten? No.”

“If that does not frighten you,” Laraspur said slowly, “then either you have never known fear, or you have never known love.” She stared him full in his molten eyes, though it almost hurt her own eyes to do so. “Which is it?”

Raeóryn, art gallery sizeRaeóryn gazed back at her intently. “I have never known fear,” he said. “And I have never known love, until the moment I saw you.”

Laraspur’s heart fluttered wildly. Until the moment I saw you… It was almost enough to wipe her mind of every other thought.

Almost.

“What of Lumónd?” she managed to ask. “Do you not love him?” Perhaps one could not expect everyone to feel as close to their brother as Laraspur did to Ionquin, but surely Raeóryn and Lumónd must feel some love for each other.

For the briefest of moments, fast as her parents’ weary sorrow, she saw something flare behind the king’s eyes. “I will not speak ill of my brother to you,” he said. “It would not be seemly, given that we both seek your hand. But I will tell you there is no love lost between us. There is a reason it is customary for a kingdom to have only one king.”

“Is there a reason yours has two?”

Raeóryn turned to face the east once more, his eyes tightening ever so little. “Welken is a very large place. Larger than you might imagine. It was determined long ago that so great a realm ought not to be ruled by one king alone, and so it has always had two. I, personally, do not see the sense of this. I would be fully capable of managing all of Welken on my own; though, of course,” he added, the resentment leaving his face in an instant as he smiled down at Laraspur, “I should be very glad to have a queen at my side.”

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Phew, is it just me, or does gazing at that super-hot Raeóryn bookmark kind of raise the temperature around here? ;D And as of now, that author-signed bookmark is up for grabs. I’ll tell you how to win it, after a quick word from an advance reader on why they love “The Sun’s Rival” (as quoted from Goodreads*, where you can totally add this upcoming Wilderhark Tales to your “want to read” shelf):

“Beautifully written, The Sun’s Rival lives up to the series’ reputation! It brings a delightful mix of old, familiar characters and introduces intriguing new ones who leap off the page right into the mind’s eye! In a nice change of pace we get to spend a bit of time with some of our favorite characters relaxed in their normal (for fairytale royalty) lives. This story brings wonderful depth to the family dynamic, highlighting sibling relationships in particular, both healthy and unhealthy. … The Sun’s Rival does not disappoint!” – Chelsea

*Speaking of Goodreads, I’ve got another giveaway going on over there. (Does my mad generosity have no end?!) From here ‘til Release Day, enter to win one of five beautiful paperbacks of “The Sun’s Rival”!

And now, the question of the day: What’s an adventure, great or small, that you would love to have?

Answer below, and one commenter (chosen at random one week from today) shall win the prize. Good luck to all entrants, and here’s counting down the days until “Sun’s Rival”s release!

The Sky-Light’s Shadow (“Sun’s Rival” Tease & Giveaway!)

With two months ‘til the December 2nd release of the “The Sun’s Rival (Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales)”, here’s a peek at what’s coming in the novella – as well as a chance to win one of Wilderhark artist Yana Naumova’s gorgeous bookmarks!

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Chancing to look upward, Laraspur spied a small, pale shape in the sky – a half-disc of shadowy white in the expanse of blue. The sight bestirred a memory. A dark, warm whisper of a long-ago night.

The sun envies the moon, her ear remembered her father’s tender murmur, because the moon can stay in the sky all day and nightIt is just that we cannot always see his light, because the sun shines so much brighter…

That was how she felt today, Laraspur realized. Rendered invisible by the brilliance of her sisters. Outshone by their impossible beauty. The moon nobody saw for the light of the sun.

Staring at that faint shadow-light above her, Laraspur whispered: “I see you.”

Laraspur, art gallery size

“Lar?”

Turning, Laraspur beheld her brother stride over to tower above her. “What are you doing out here?” he asked. “The party’s inside.”

Striving to keep her tone light, Laraspur replied, “I just felt like being alone, for a bit.”

“Would you not rather dance?”

“Not really,” she lied.

One princely eyebrow lifted in an expression of smiling invitation. “Not even with me?”

“Don’t be kind, please,” said Laraspur, turning away. “I’m sure you have your pick of girls with which to dance.”

“Who’s being kind?” said Ionquin. “I want to make all the other young men jealous when they observe that I am partnered with the most graceful dancer here.”

Laraspur was not fooled for a moment, but gave him her hand nonetheless. If nothing else, any young ladies looking their way might be made to feel jealous – so long as they were unaware that the dancers were brother and sister…

Besides, Laraspur adored dancing. Loved losing herself in the movement. As she spun ‘round the terrace with Ionquin, the skirts of her perfect dress swirling around her, Laraspur felt her self-pity melting away, and could even imagine that someone watching her right then could find her beautiful – little knowing that two someones were doing precisely that.

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Make that at least three someones; looking at the Laraspur bookmark pictured above, I can certainly find her beautiful! And as of now, that author-signed bookmark is up for grabs. I’ll tell you how to win it, after a quick word from an advance reader on why they love “The Sun’s Rival” (as quoted from Goodreads, where you can totally add this upcoming Wilderhark Tales to your “want to read” shelf):

“This is a beautiful, creative retelling of Psyche and Cupid, with elegant, gorgeous imagery. Powerful as a sunrise, but gentle as moonlight, this story will sweep you away on a storm. With the return of favorite characters, and the introduction of several new ones, The Sun’s Rival is a lovely addition to The Wilderhark Tales, and probably my favorite book in the series so far.” – Kimberly Kay

And now, the question of the day: When do you feel most beautiful?

Answer below, and one commenter (chosen at random one week from today) shall win the prize. Good luck to all entrants, and here’s counting down the days until “Sun’s Rival”s release!