The Moon in the Attic, Part 3

Today, for your reading pleasure, the conclusion of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 2, here.) Enjoy!

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“Goodbye?” I cry. “You’re leaving the sky?”

The moon replies, I’m seriously considering it.

“But, the night!” I protest.

Can get along without me. There are still the stars, after all.

“But, the tides!”

I’ll find a replacement satellite. Your planet’s waters won’t know the difference.

“But… but…!” I’m running low on arguments. “What about me?”

The moon’s song turns sad. I know it will be hard

“Not hard,” I say. “Impossible. Some days, you’re my only light in the darkness. Some days, yours is the only beauty that can reach me. Without that… without you…” Tears ambush my eyes. “How can I last the night?

“Look. I get it. Burnout is a thing – even lunar burnout, apparently. Maybe the rhythm of the heavens is no better than the human rat race. Maybe you need a vacation. And you’re welcome to it! Hideout for a cycle or two. Make my attic your rehab retreat. But it can’t be forever. Please.”

Bawling seems a little more dramatic than I’d planned, but here we are. Blame it on the lateness of the hour. Everything’s awful at two a.m.

The moon’s soft light is like a stroking hand, attempting to soothe. Its music is all shushes and coos.

Suppose, it says at last, we can reach a compromise?

Compromise. Noun. That thing where nobody wins.

Suppose I leave the sky, it muses on, but not your sight?

I sniffle back another sob. “How would that even work?”

Open your eyes.

I do, and move to swipe the tears away, but the moon’s light stops me. It’s brighter than ever. Insistently so. More tears well up against the glare, but never get a chance to fall. The light is pushing back. Pushing… in.

“Personal spaaace!” I wail. “What are you doing?!”

I don’t get an answer. I rub at my eyes, and the huge glowing crescent is gone. Yet, the nighttime attic around me hasn’t dimmed.

A whisper inside says, Look in the window.

Not out the window. In.

There in the glass, my ghostly reflection. And there in my eyes…

Moonlight.

Part 3’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936965233854/

To carry with you, says the whisper, through the dark. I will not leave you, my child.

“Wow,” I say, because wow. “But… what about finding that replacement satellite?”

The whisper sounds like some extraterrestrial cuss. Maybe it’s not too late to get a message to Pluto and Charon. Up on the roof, love, and blink exactly as I tell you

For the end of the story, this seems an awful lot like an incredible beginning.

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Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 2

Today, for your reading pleasure, the continuation of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 3, coming later this week.) Enjoy!

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“Why on Earth is the moon in my attic?”

I don’t expect an answer, given that I don’t expect the moon can talk.

But it can. And does. Not in English, or even in words, but in… well, I guess it would be best described as music.

It says something like hello, and sorry to have disturbed you. I gather that it hadn’t intended to introduce itself until morning.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I say, because polite, inoffensive lies are my conversational default. One day I’ll slip up and tell someone what I really think, and then the world will end.

Truth is, I’m not terribly upset to find the moon in my house. Is this in any way logical? No. Can the ramifications of this event be anything short of disastrous? Likely not. Should I be contacting somebody about this? I don’t know who, but probably yeah.

But the moon knows me. I hear my name in its song.

And I know the moon. Sort of.

In one sense, it’s like a favorite celebrity. I know the moon’s stats. I can list its achievements. I recognize its face every time it shows up in pictures.

In another sense, it’s like an old friend. The sight or thought of the moon warms my heart. I feel the love in its light. It’s just always been there, the way family is.

The shining crescent says, Because family is what we are.

Part 2’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936962803207/

Confusion contorts my face. “Biological?”

It laughs. Nothing so Earthly as that. But you hold a part of me. And so you are my child.

I’m somewhere between touched and giddy. “That’s… special. But why are you here?”

The moon’s music sighs. I am old and tired and thin.

“Like a hobbit spread over too much bread?” I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the quote, but I’m tired, too, if not so old. My head’s too full of missing my pillow to bother with first-rate Tolkien references.

Like a moon, it says, with too many phases behind it. Wax and wane, wax and wane… I haven’t the will to grow full again.

So I’ve come down to tell you goodbye.

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Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 1

Today, for your reading pleasure, the first part of a short story written by yours truly. (Parts 2 and 3 to come later this week.) Enjoy!

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It’s times like these I wish I had a husband.

I’ve told myself I’m not the marrying kind. That my need for solitude and personal space far outweighs my sometimes-desire for romance. That I’d have no hope of a good night’s sleep if I had to share a bed, particularly if my bedmate were known to snore. Or even breathe loudly. Or touch me.

On the other hand, unexplained rustles and thumps in the attic don’t do much toward a restful night, either.

It’s probably burglars. Murdering ones. Or raccoons. Zombie ones. Or a spider of unearthly proportions.

I’m going to die tonight.

Had I a husband, I’d send him up with a broom or a BB gun to take care of whatever unholy pest has come to plague our home. Instead, it’s single, sleepless little me up those stairs. Clutched in my hands, a sizeable stick. Jammed on my head, my Adventure Hat. (Or, for tonight’s purposes, my Guard My Hair From Cobwebs ‘n’ Such Hat.) Tingling in my veins, a potent form of chronic anxiety that can morph into berserker rage at need. …Or anytime I’m harassed by a housefly.

Every dusty step creaks beneath me. Every breath contains a whispered whimper. Have I lived my best life? Have I any regrets? It’s not actually too late to go back downstairs and just burn the house to the ground…

I reach the trapdoor to the uppermost story, and heaven above, there’s a weird glow shining through the cracks. Bright white light, bordering on blue. Not zombie raccoons at all, then. Mutant raccoons. From space.

Therefore, not a spider! That’s some comfort, at least. Feeling slightly less terrified, I push open the door, and…

That is the moon.

That is the moon.

The moon.

Is in.

My attic.

The story’s inspiration.

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Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

Babelin to the Bone (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

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

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “One of her authors, Tirzah Duncan, described her thus:

What does a pretty 1600s German girl, burned at the stake on false charges of necromancy, have in common with a jaded Chicagoan telemarketer? Only the bare bones. Babelin has changed a lot, surviving the centuries as an animate skeleton, but one thing that’s stuck with her is a firm dislike for the death magic that claimed her.

“Welcome, Babelin!” Will greets the smartly-dressed skeleton now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what does it feel like, being nothing but bones?”

“Physically? A bit dull. Some of my senses are gone, some of them are dimmed, and just two – sight and hearing – are completely intact. I’m capable of less pain, which is nice, but I do sometimes miss the vivid sensations and flavors I remember from my full-bodied life. Of course, I’ve probably romanticized them, over the centuries.”

“Nostalgia is kind,” Will agrees. “Certainly more so than the folks who lit you on fire, back in the day. Would you say the charge that got you executed was entirely unfounded, or did you give any reason to believe that you were in fact a practitioner of the dark arts?”

“As unfounded as were most flying around at the time. Frightened people don’t even need a reason, and I gave them this one: I was pretty. I turned people on and I turned them down, so there were enough jealous and disgruntled folk about who wanted badly to suspect me of something. Ah, humans. We’ve been to the moon, but we haven’t changed.”

“Such is life – eternal and otherwise. Speaking of: Unlike other immortals of my acquaintance, you’ve actually lived through and engaged with all those centuries between your birth and now. Worked in a decent amount of international travel, too. Of them all, which has been your favorite time and place, and why?”

skull-selfie

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

Thin gloved fingers lace together. “Hmmn. That’s very relative. Modernity has afforded me the opportunity to communicate and connect with people from a place of anonymity— well, hah, sometimes I have an actual selfie as my icon, but no one assumes it’s actually me. It’s nice to just be taken as a human without having to work through layers of prejudice. Place, though – everywhere has its charms and its repelling factors. Most precious to me have been those times and places where I’ve actually made good friends. There was a washerwoman in London who took it upon herself to scrub me back to whiteness whenever I was looking dingy. She didn’t have a lot to give, but she had soaps and rags, and that was how she knew to reach out to me. Honestly, I didn’t much value cleanliness at the time, but I did value her valuing me.”

“Aww, sweet of her!” Will delights. “Gotta love the good eggs of the world. But I’ve heard rumors there’s a bad one in the area – a dangerous new necromancer, possibly planning something big. Those of us living under the protection of an isle full of Faeries and a wizard may have less to fear than others, but what safety tips have you got for the general public?”

She lets out a whistling breath through her teeth. “I guess the only thing I can suggest is the advice I should follow, myself: educate yourself. There’s a lot of benign necromantic activity in the world, and knowing the difference between simply arcane arts and truly dark arts could save souls.”

“Good to know. And of course we all know what’s coming next: Tell me, what is the biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret involving your co-authors, Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley?” A skull-like grin. “Or would you rather kiss me?

The skull tilts. “You know, it’s been a long time since anyone’s offered. Bring it on – no tongue, though.”

“Fair’s fair,” Will laughs, and smooches her full on the… well, teeth. After a friendly “boop” for her nose [cavity], he calls back, “Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley’s ‘The Dark Siren’, part of the Arcane Arts Anthology – out now as an e-book, paperbacks coming soon!

arcane-arts-cover

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

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

How Now?

How’d the Local Author Fair at the Library Go?

Well enough, thanks very much. Sold a few books (maybe even one or two more than last year? ^^), including a couple copies of My Baby, Volume 1 – i.e., “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. Also got to geek out with one visitor about the Renaissance Faire that inspired aforementioned baby. *waves to Bristol* So yeah, I’ll definitely be back for the 3rd annual event next year – by which time people will be able to purchase the completed Outlaws of Avalon trilogy!

local_author_fair_2017

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How Goes the New Year’s Resolution?

Those who frequent my authorial Facebook page may have seen my pledge to keep my writerly muscles warm by writing a piece of flash fiction every day.

resolution2017

I have thus far remained on the wagon, with results like this, this, and the following to show for it:

He loves to make clothes. And he loves people. And the clothes he makes loves people, too.

His coats wrap their arms around you in a hug. The scarf hangs ‘round your neck with a weight like a friend just come up from behind, pulling you close for a kiss and “how are you today?”

The skirt of your dress swings and frolics about your legs, puppy-like, delighted by your nearness. The stiffer the breeze, the tighter your hat holds your head. “I’ve got you,” it says, in his voice.

The clothes and their tailor – cut from the same cloth.

Brownie points to anyone who can name the inspiration behind that little drabble. ;D And if I stay the course, there will be plenty more flash fics to come – any number of which will likely make their way onto the blog in time.

marriage-cover-final-front

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How are ARC Requests Coming Along?

I’ve had more than zero, but would love to give out more. So if you’d like to read and review an advance PDF of Outlaws of Avalon 2, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”, get in touch! (Contact page) Got book blogger friends? Give ‘em the heads up! I can only spread the word so far on my own; any added reach would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and now inquiring minds want to know: How are YOU?

Of the H[e]art and Home

Today, for your reading pleasure, a piece of flash fiction inspired by a piece discovered via deviartART. Enjoy!

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“But why aren’t you happy?” they asked him. “Who could ask for a more beautiful beach?”

That, Deer thought, was just the trouble. He wasn’t asking for a beach at all.

He supposed it was a pretty place, objectively. White-golden sand with sun-sparkled water. Very… bright. Open. Terrifying.

How could he feel safe with nowhere to hide? Where it seemed like the whole of the sea and the sky could watch him, not to mention all the eyes of the others. He wished for sheltering shadows. He longed for a piece of aloneness.

He asked – without knowing how to ask – for home.

And then, one day, he smelled it, brought over the sea on the wind. Earthier than sand and driftwood. A cleaner wet than the ocean. Green… a greener scent than he had ever known.

Deer followed his nose to the shoreline, looked up through the clouds laid low on the horizon, and there it was: A dream of trees. A fancy of a forest. The wish of his soul, but how could he reach it, this woodland in the air?

“Help me,” he whispered – to the woods, to anyone.

The sound was lost in the sudden rush of a storm, blasting through the smooth, pale sky in a swell of sickly purple and black. Thunder boomed, and to Deer’s horror, a lash of lightning struck one of the far-off forest’s trees. With a gut-turning crack, the tree began its groaning fall, and Deer fell to his knees in the sand, heartsick with fright.

If even his dream was no safe haven, what hope was left to him?

WHUMP.

Deer jumped up to his hooves with a cry. Not two leaps away, the top of the stricken tree lay in the sand. How tall it must have stood, for its fall to have stretched so far – from the beach, all the long way back to…

The forest.

High above, the storm was gone as fast as it had come. No more lightning-lit thunderclaps. No wind but the breeze caught in the fallen tangle of branches. The fluttering green of the leaves beckoned. What are you waiting for?

Deer looked up with amazement into the overhead blue. To think the sky from which he’d itched to hide would grant him such a kindness.

“Thank you,” he said. “For understanding.”

Joy in his bones, home in his eyes, he leapt onto the tree-bridge and ran.

“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland - http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969

“Calm wind in dusk” by Ebineyland – http://www.deviantart.com/art/Calm-wind-in-dusk-630791969

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )

Of the Black, Old and New

A piece of flash fiction by yours truly. Enjoy!

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Spots are the new black.

I don’t know how that got started. The same way any fashion gets started, I suppose. Somebody shows up wearing such-and-such a thing, and it’s probably seven shades of ridiculous, but they wear it with such confidence that everyone assumes it’s the clothes that did it.

The clothes make the man, right? Or the woman. Or the up-and-coming fashionista child. I guess the clothes really do help to make that last one; can’t have a fashionista without fashion; that’s just ista, isn’t it? Generally, though, how you clothe yourself has no bearing on the person you are. You don what you do because you’re you, and your attire’s just an outer reflection of that.

Say you’re someone important. Is it because you’re wearing a coat with big brass buttons and a hat up to there? No, that’s what you wear to show you’re important – or someone who wishes he were, and is hoping to fool the rest of us. You ask me, the only fool’s the one in that mile-high hat. But nobody did ask me. They ought to have. I may not understand the why of fashion, but I always know the what. So when I say that spots are the new black, you can take that to the bank.

“The new black”… I’d certainly like to know how that expression got started. I mean, I can see why a color would aspire to be black. It’s chic, slimming, goes with all the colors… because of course it is all the colors, mixed all together. Black, the everycolor! But then, so’s white. Why not call a thing “the new white”? Don’t tell me it was after Labor Day. No one buys that rubbish rule anymore. If anything, wearing white after Labor Day is the new black.

Spots and white, then. Oh dear, I’ve just caused a spike in the abduction rate of Dalmatian puppies, haven’t I? Never mind the white. If the spots are black, they’ll go with anything; say… black-spotted gold. That could be big, I think; if it can last. There’s only so much that can be done with it. You can’t go out every night in a little black-spotted gold dress. It’s too much of a statement piece, and when you start making the same statement too often, people stop listening. Black-spotted-gold pumps might get their fair share of use. Or a black-spotted gold purse. And you know, I don’t mean to scare the puppies, but furs are coming back. A black-spotted gold fur coat would scream expense – a must, in fashion. Not as loudly as, say, a black-spotted gold cheetah… Or would those screams be mostly coming from passersby? Screams of jealousy, no doubt. Alarm, yes, but largely jealousy. Anyone who can afford to accessorize with wildcats has gone well beyond the cutting edge. Cheetahs as the new handbag Chihuahua. Now that’s confidence!

the-black

The story’s inspiration.

Don’t think you can pull it off? Fine, have it your way. But no one ever made it in fashion by playing it safe. Or playing it sane. Trust me: Madness has ever been the black.

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(Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha. Or if you wish, leave a tip on my GoFundMe page; I’m covered for Outlaws of Avalon 2, praise God, but there’s always Book 3 and beyond… ;D )