Extreme Makeover: Wilderhark Edition

Quick word from our sponsor (…so, basically me):

My serial Wilderhark Talette continues, today, with Part 3 of “The Soul Shepherdess” now live on Channillo.com. Young Solwen is moving ever closer to her minstrel destiny – and naturally, she’s singing all-new, original songs about it. Subscribers, check it out! Non-subscribers… well, I’m sure you can figure out how to remedy that.

Also, there’s a Wilderhark extravaganza coming, and you (*points to absolutely everyone*) are officially invited. Check it out!

And now onto our regularly scheduled blog post.

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Once upon a time, an author loved the covers of her fairytale novella series very much.

But then she decided that she could love them more.

For you see, this author was something of a perfectionist, her eye ever open to ways things could be made better. In the case of her books’ covers, they were beautiful to behold. …Up close. But from a distance – or, y’know, a thumbnail image – they didn’t read as well. Moreover, the spines were too plain. Too dull. She wanted to fancy them up a bit, so they better held their own among a whole shelf full of titles.

Fortunately for our author, this series of hers was self-published, so making the changes she desired was as simple (and as frustrating/wearying/time-consuming) as making those changes herself. Thus did she roll up her sleeves, send up prayers for strength, patience, and technological cooperation, and buckle down to get ‘er done.

And that author… *solemn nods* …was me.

And since I was at it, I went ahead and swept the pages again (both paper and electronic) for persistent typos and formatting stuff that bugged me, so now the books’ insides and outsides are better than ever! Although Books 1 and 2 still don’t include pronunciation guides, because… *squints at past self* What was your reasoning, exactly?

Past Me: *shrugs*

Ohhh-kay. For, um, mysterious reasons unknown, then. But those who want reassurance that they’re saying “Harrold Babbit” correctly can always pop onto the Wilderhark Tales page on my website.

In any case: Look ye now upon the before-and-afters of the old and NEW ‘N’ IMPROVED, full-spread covers for Wilderhark Tales One through Six!

Swan Prince Cover, E-book
Before…
Swan Prince Cover, full spread update
…and after!
Stone Kingdom Cover, front
Before…
Stone Kingdom Cover, full spread update
…and after!
Seventh Spell Cover, front
Before…
Seventh Spell Cover, full spread update
…and after!
Song Caster Cover, front
Before…
Song Caster Cover, full spread update
…and after!
Sun's Rival Cover, front
Before…
Sun's Rival Cover, full spread udpate
…and after!
Surrogate Sea cover, front
Before…
Surrogate Sea Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Ta-daaaaaa! You collector types who simply must have every version of everything Wilderhark that you can get your hands on, terribly sorry, but it looks like I’ve given you something new at which to throw your money. And for those of you who’ve been dragging your feet about getting your copies of the Wilderhark Tales, now seems like a shiny time to get your collection going, dontcha think? ^^ Just in time for the series’ end, too

Holler in the comments: What do you think of the makeovers??

Wilderhark Cover Updates 01

Wilderhark Cover Updates 02

Wilderhark Cover Updates 03

Behind the Talette: “Starheart”

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

“One of these days,” says Rosalba, “you shall have to tell me the Stone Kingdom story you heard as a child. I would be most interested to see how it compares with Denebdeor’s history.”

“Uh-oh,” Edgwyn chuckles. “I think you’re giving our author ideas.”

(Heck yeah, she is!)

— from “The Stone Kingdom Character Commentary”

That idea stayed with me, too, prompting me to coax Edgwyn’s favorite childhood tale out of imagination and onto the page. As I settled in to write it, though, I realized it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell. Like Rosalba, I wanted to hear it from Edgwyn! Because as readers of “The Sun’s Rival” (or the first two Wilderhark Talettes, for that matter) can attest, Edgwyn bedtime stories are the bomb-diggity best.

Thus was “Starheart” born. And some folks are in for a special privilege. Because you know Wilderhark Tales book 6.5, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”? Those other stories include “Starheart” – meaning that Wilderhark Talette subscribers get to enjoy this taste of the collection before everyone who has to wait until the whole book releases in July. So here’s lookin’ at you, hipsters. X)

Edg 'n' Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.
Edg ‘n’ Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.

Let it here be known: This story was a joy to write. It’s been so long since I first found my way through “The Stone Kingdom”; I hadn’t even realized how much I missed hanging out with Edgwyn and Rosalba in their relationship’s earliest days.

I also enjoyed getting to explore a bit more of the princess and tailor’s cultures – both through his presentation of a classic children’s tale of his generation, and her overview of a mythology revered as history among the Great Land’s royals. Regarding the latter (and much to the gratification of my realism-loving writing buddy *winks for Tirzah*), it turns out there’s actually a solid explanation for why, as Gant-o’-the-Lute once bemoaned in “The Song Caster”, their world has yet to experience international war.

So whether you’re in it for the worldbuilding or the distinction of reading a story ahead of the crowd, or you’re just hankering hard for a sweet Edg ‘n’ Rose fix, this is a tale(tte) that I, for one, don’t think you oughtta miss. “Starheart” awaits you on Channillo.com; have you got your subscription? ;D

A Taste of Two Talettes

It’s the last Monday of the month, and of as recently, that means that subscribers of my series on Channillo.com get a brand new Wilderhark Talette!

I didn’t get a chance to make a proper big deal about it last time, swamped as I was with the Launch Week of my latest Wilderhark Tale novella, “The Surrogate Sea”. But now that things have calmed down for me as much as they ever will, let me give you a bit more insight as to exactly why you should absolutely buy a subscription to the Wilderhark Talettes.

A sketch of dear Edgwyn as I imagine he looked in his early youth.
A sketch of dear Edgwyn as I imagine he looked in his early youth.

Last month’s series debut was “Horse Friend”, a short story mined from the childhood of everyone’s favorite fairytale tailor, Edgwyn Wyle. Ever wonder just how Edgwyn came to be so particularly fond of horses (as evidenced by his charming relationship with Wilhelmina in “The Stone Kingdom”)? Well, this story shows you just that – along with a little life lesson, because such is the nature of fairytales. ;D Have a sneaky-peeky snippet!

“Buy a horse?” my father said. “But we have no need for another horse. We cannot afford to keep another horse.”

“We need not keep him long,” I coaxed. “The Summer’s End Faire is not far off; we can sell him again there. I will take care of him in the meantime – such good care of him that we’ll make an enormous profit at the Faire! Please, Papa, I’ll do anything, just let me get the horse away from that awful man!”

In the end, my father agreed, and supplied a fair price for his neighbor’s horse. But when I went to make my purchase, Mister Lowam demanded an amount far higher.

“I shall have need of that much, at least!” he said of the sum. “For it is the beginning of the harvest season, and I must have funds enough to hire another horse to bring in my crops, since you would divest me of the one I have now.”

Funds to hire another horse? Another horse for him to abuse as he had Carlyle? I would not hear of it! But could I ask a farmer to abandon his fields at harvest time? Nonsense. Nor could I volunteer the use of one of my family’s horses or the time of my father or brothers-in-law, for they would be kept busy enough tending our own land.

There remained, therefore, only one thing left for me to offer.

What thing? What offer? What’s little Edgwyn got up his sleeve? Well, I’m not about to tell you here and now. Go read the rest to find out!

As for this month’s new Talette, “Heart Pure”, it was a joy to write, as I recall. I further recall my minstrel being annoyed because I was working on this – yet another Edgwyn story – when he thought I should have been writing the first draft of the origin story of Gant-o’-the-Lute. But happy endings all around, because “Heart Pure” got written, and Lute’s story will get its due time in the sun when my next book comes out; stay tuned. (And feel welcome to sign up for the book’s cover reveal, while you’re at it!)

“Heart Pure” takes place in the space between “The Stone Kingdom” and “The Seventh Spell”, and is based upon— well, why don’t you read this tidbit of the Talette and see if you can guess which famous fairytale inspired it.

“I daresay a fabric as wonderful as you’ve described would tempt a disheartening number of thieves,” I surmised.

“Far fewer than you’d guess, actually,” said Arnall, with a more lopsided sort of smile. “For you see, Your Highness, no one who sees the fabric would ever think of stealing it; and any that would steal it, could never see the fabric. As I myself was most amazed to discover, the fabric is so inexpressibly divine that only those of purest heart are granted the gift of perceiving it.”

Really,” I breathed, giving the thought a moment to settle inside of me. Such a fabric was almost beyond my imagination. “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see it… But then,” I said ruefully, and with only half-a-laugh, “perhaps I couldn’t.”

The vendor shrugged. “Well, in all honesty, very few are able to, Your Highness. But that is partly my purpose in coming here.” He regarded me with thoughtful eyes. “For from all I have heard said of the tailor-prince called Edgwyn Wyle, this fabric was made for hearts such as his.”

Wilderhark Talettes

And that, readers o’ mine, is all you’ll get out of me in this blog post. For the whole of the story – and many more to come! – be sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes, one series of many awaiting you on Channillo.com!

From Sea to Surrogate Sea

Ladies and gentlemen,

fairytale fans of all ages,

it is with great pride and pleasure that I now reveal to you

the cover of the sixth installment of The Wilderhark Tales.

Surrogate Sea cover, front

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)coming Tuesday, March 24, 2015!

(Now on Goodreads, for your “want to read” shelf-building pleasure.)

My dear readers, I almost wept when first my eyes beheld the cover artwork for this book. Yana Naumova has outdone herself, and is even now hard at work on the art for the remainder of the series. My darling novellas wouldn’t the same without her. I am all gratitude.

As stated, “The Surrogate Sea” releases on March 24, kick-off day for the now-traditional Launch Week celebration. Several good buddies have already signed on for the blog tour (Tuesday 24 – Monday 30), but there’s always room for more! So if anyone reading this wants in, give me a poke in the comments or via my contact page, and I’ll get the materials to you in good order. The same goes for anyone game for an advance read ‘n’ review of the book; hit me up!

And This Week Only…

..In honor of the upcoming release of Book 6, you can get the Kindle e-book of Book One for just 99 cents!

That’s right – “The Swan Prince” 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. ^_^

Which of the Wilderhark Tales covers have been your favorites so far? ^^ Sound off below!

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 2

“Present” or “Wilderhark 3 Unveiled!”

‘Tis the season of giving, which I suppose goes some way toward explaining why Christmastime and I have such a special bond: I love giving people stuff!

In years past, I got this blog in the Christmas spirit by sharing “Outlaws of Avalon” spoofs of “A Christmas Carol” and “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. That was before I had a full schedule of publication prep to tend to (not to mention Will Scarlet’s crazy Saturday skits, including spontaneous parodies of “The Nutcracker” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”). So instead of writing another Christmas special, today I proudly present to you a different gift: A first look at my next Wilderhark Tales novella’s cover and blurb.

Behold…

the face of…

The Seventh Spell”!

Seventh Spell Cover, front

I swear, I fall in love with each Wilderhark cover from Yana Naumova harder than the last. (Which may or may not have to do with the fact that Edgwyn’s prominence on the covers has been steadily on the rise.) Yup, there’s everybody’s favorite tailor … climbing a beanstalk … with a harp girl… What in the world is going on in this story?? A good question, and one the book’s characters would very much like the answer to…

Back of Book Blurb:

A witch’s attempt to cast one spell too many

casts everyone touched by her previous spells into chaos.

Scattered throughout each other’s pasts, Sula and Edgwyn, Villem and Rosalba,

and the rest of the magic’s affected have a single chance to break this last enchantment

before their “happily-ever-after”-s cease to have ever been.

The Seventh Spell

Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales

<> ~ <> ~ <>

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast;

A princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell;

Bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk –

All within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories –

of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel;

of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball;

of frog princes, and swan princes,

and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea.

Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

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There. Now you know about as much as characters do. Here – as a bonus, know a little bit more!

Full Title: “The Seventh Spell (Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales)

ISBN: 978-0-9891846-2-5

Genre: Young Adult Fairytale

Length: Novella (219 pages)

Release Date: February 5th, 2014 (so close, and yet so far!)

Future availability: Paperback (Amazon.com) and eBook (Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com)

Add “The Seventh Spell” to your Goodreads shelf today!

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So, whaddaya think? ^^ The comment section is all ears! (And if one of the things you’re thinking is, “Boy, I sure do wish I could get my hands on an advance reader copy of ‘The Seventh Spell’,” you’re in luck, because there’s still time to get in an early read ‘n’ review! See here for details.) Feel free to share the gift of today’s reveal with anyone you think would like to see.  (My warm thanks to friends who have already done so.) The gorgeous cat is officially out of the bag!

“First” vs. “Second”

Which is scarier: Releasing your very “preceding all others in time, order, or importance” book, or releasing your “next to the first in place or time”?

On the one hand, Book One of the Wilderhark Tales was my chance to make a smashing first impression. Most of my intended audience had little to no idea who I was, or didn’t know much about my writing style beyond what they’d read in Ever On Word blog posts or the odd short story here and there. Essentially, “The Swan Prince” was my big “HERE I AM” to the world, and set up a precedent for what people could expect, both from my authorial style, and from the Wilderhark series in particular.

To my continual glee, my self-publishing debut was very well received! We got some nice buzz going during the launch week, I’ve accumulated a treasured number of flattering reviews, apparently sales aren’t straight-up dismal, I was able to talk my local library into purchasing a copy (if you happy to be anywhere near Waukegan Public Library, run in there and demand to borrow it!), and – glory of glories – it even won the Reader’s Choice Award during July’s Blogger Book Fair! The Wilderhark Tales were off to a great start!

Then it came time to follow up with Book Two.

I was a little bit nervous going into the publication process for “The Stone Kingdom”. It wasn’t only a matter of putting out a great book anymore; now, there were expectations to live up to.

As I hope should go without saying, “Stone Kingdom” isn’t simply a clone of its predecessor. There are some notable similarities within the storyline, we do see some familiar faces from “Swan Prince”, and there is consistency within the narrative voice. But apart from that (and, of course, the well-known fairytale references), everything’s all new.

What if readers didn’t connect with the new protagonists?

What if they felt the story was somehow a letdown?

What if they thought it was too X or not Y enough or what in the Z was the author thinking?!

Well, it was simply a risk I had to take. I’d written the book. I’d promised the book. By jolly, I was going to deliver the book, and Z take the consequences! (I’m really starting to take a shine to “Z” as an expletive…)

And— say what? How now? Egad, my advance readers gave a really positive response!

Wry wit, clever twists, and, of course, dashing love interests,” they said!

Not only fun and funny, but relevant and wise,” they said!

Even, “I will go as far as to say that this one was better than the first.” (“Eeeeee-wow!!!” I said.)

And Edgwyn has to deal with the fact that everybody loves him. (“‘Nyeh, nyeh,’ she said,” he grumbles lightly.)

Looks like ya done good, “Stone Kingdom”! I am very proud of you.*

*I’ve actually been proud of the book for years before its publication. It’s one of my favorite Wilderhark Tales. ^.^

Books One and Two of  The Wilderhark Tales, as photographed by happy reader Steven Bourelle.
Books One and Two of The Wilderhark Tales, as photographed by happy reader Steven Bourelle.

Hu-u-uge thanks – thanks THIS BIG – to everyone who’s already purchased/read/told me they love “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” so far. (Please don’t forget to tell the retail sites, too, with an honest review! …or a lying review, if that’s how you roll, but I think most of us would much prefer your honesty.) And if you – yes, you; don’t pretend to look innocent, you know I mean you – haven’t experienced the book yet, wait no longer! Nab a paperback via Amazon or CreateSpace, or an e-book for your Kindle or Nook! The people have spoken: The read’s “well worth Wyle”. ;D

“Announcement, Part 2” or “A Fairytale Beginning”

Previously on Ever On Word, Danielle shared the totally super crazy exciting news about her short story’s inclusion in J. Taylor Publishing’s upcoming YA anthology, “One  More Day”. She also indicated that she’s got even more totally super crazy exciting news to share today. And not only was she not lying, she’s too giddy to keep up this third-person introductory paragraph much longer, so she’s/I’m just gonna come out and say it:

I’m self-publishing a book.

I know what you’re thinking:

Yeah, right. April Fools!

…Oh, is that what you’re thinking? Well, think again, folks. I don’t joke about stuff like this.

Wha-wha-WHAT?! But what about the anthology with J. Taylor Publishing??

Yes. That, too. I’m doing BOTH. I am having cake, eating it, and shall be both traditionally and independently published.

Why?

Short answer: ‘Cause I wanna.

Longer answer: To be discussed further in another post.

Now, as for that other thing you were thinking:

Oh, boy! Holy cow! What book?! What’s it called?! What’s it about?! Aw, man, I can’t breathe!

Please breathe.

The book is entitled “The Swan Prince”, and shall be the first of a series of novellas near and dear to my heart, “The Wilderhark Tales”.

Some concept art I did for the book a few years ago. No, this is not the official cover. My ambitions are higher than that.
Some concept art I did for the book a few years ago. No, this is not the official cover. My ambitions are higher than that.

The description below gives a general sense of what the series is all about.

<> ~ <> ~ <>

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast;

A princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell;

Bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk –

All within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories –

of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel;

of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball;

of frog princes, and swan princes,

and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea.

Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

<> ~ <> ~ <>

Book One of The Wilderhark Tales comes soon, good readers! And as the calendar creeps toward the launch date (I’m thinking end of May, early June; standby for specifics), I’ll be sharing behind-the-scenes info on what all has gone into turning the documents on my laptop into a book that I can hardly wait to give to the world!

…Well, sell to the world, mostly, though never fear, there shall be giveaways, too!

So if you’re looking to learn more about publishing independently, to be part of a fairytale phenomenon, or just sorta-kinda love me, this is the blog to keep your eye on!

Oh, and speaking of being part of the phenomenon, the all-call for those who wish to review the book and/or arrange an author interview with me for their blog starts now! I’d like to be able to include some review excerpts within my published book, so if you’d like a chance to have your name appear in my novella, drop me a line in the comment section or via my e-mail, Danielle.E.Shipley[“at” symbol]comcast.net, and we’ll see about getting you a pre-release copy!

DISCLAIMER: Providing a review is not a guarantee that any portion of it will appear in the final retail product. There are space limitations, you know. This does not mean that I am not deeply grateful for every review received – ‘cause I will be! – and I will be glad to share/link to your reviews here on the blog, even if I’m unable to squeeze them into the book’s pages. Also, no payment shall be offered for the provision of reviews. This is a monetary-bribe-free zone.

Coming up next time on Ever On Word: The reason I determined to assert some literary independence!