Beautiful Books (and the Big Ideas Behind Them)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Beautiful Books Meme

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

I enjoyed taking part in the Beautiful People meme, that one time in August, and I’ve enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month several times, though not this year. Fortunately, you don’t need a NaNo project to take part in Beautiful Books. Any story in progress will do. So I’m jumping in with my debut novel, scheduled to re-release in a brand new edition, March of next year – “Inspired”!

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Cover w Text 06.3, front

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve got brainstorming notes on the earliest iterations of “Inspired” going back to May 2011, and the first draft came out over the following December. The spark behind it all started around the NaNo before, when my (brand new, at the time!) best friend and I created the Stranger Than Truth club. Originally, the novel was going to feature not just one author navigating the fictional realm, but two, imagining in tandem. And there’s still room for that to happen, if I ever get around to a sequel centering on that. I just felt there was a lot of groundwork to lay down first.

Describe what your novel is about!

Happy days – I’ve got a blurb ready. ^o^

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Oh, the “Inspired” gallery on my website may have a few applicable images…

PhotoFunia-Luc and Jean

Inspired, Only the Beginning, 02

Inspired Avengers

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Whoof, there’s a lot, so let’s restrict it to three words each:

Lucianíel = That lightbulb moment

Abishan = Just… total cat

Wilbur = Chivalrous sweetie pie

Uri = Entirely judging you

Yves= Smol, with secrets

Annabelle = Danielle E. Shipley

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Step 1 = Talk to myself in a Word document until I’ve got a fairly solid idea of the book’s shape.

Step 2 = Outline chapter by chapter, to ensure every puzzle piece gets slotted in somewhere.

Sometimes, Step 3 (or 1-and-a-half, or at whatever point on the list I feel thus compelled) = Ask the characters questions so that I can begin to hear their voices in the answers.

Cover 2 w Text, front

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Since it’s already been written and published once, at this point I’m just eager to have it back on the market again – and with such a beautiful new face! Plus this time, it comes out with a sequel. I’m always excited to give the world something brand new to read. ^o^

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Oh, perfect, ‘cause there are three different settings.

1 = The Material Plane – aka, the real world. Like Annabelle’s home, inspired by the house where Childhood Me used to visit my dad’s family over Thanksgiving.

2 = The Immaterial Plane – aka, the world of imagination. Where muses live, and where some characters may choose to hang out, if they’re self-aware enough to know they’ve got an author’s mind to roam.

3 = Book Worlds. The intersection of material and immaterial. Fictional, yes, but no less real to the people who inhabit the story. One of “Inspired”s special charms is that it offers a glimpse into several.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Boiled down to one word, Luc’s main goal = security. In this, Annabelle is both a tool and an obstacle, because while she’s willing to be the author for Luc and his loved ones, she’s basically just in it for the fun. Clash of motivations. Expect fireworks.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Nothing like putting in the time on the craft to mature an artist! Not that Annabelle doesn’t still have plenty of growing up to do by novel’s end, but you can see she’s getting there.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Themes… How ideas are planted… How stories grow… How people can blossom, with a little help from their friends – real, imaginary, and in between… As for how I want readers to feel at novel’s end, how else? Of course I want them to walk away inspired.

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And that is that! Related note: I am currently seeking folks interested in providing an early read ‘n’ review of “Inspired”. Is that you? Talk to me!

Over, out, and good luck to any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year. ^o^

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Behold the Brainstorm

So, back at the end of May, I revealed the ridiculously perfect cover for the re-release of my first published novel, “Inspired” – coming better than ever to an online retailer near you in Spring 2018! I also mentioned that the book’s got a never-before-released sequel, which will be coming out at the same time.

I’d thought to share Book 2’s cover probably sometime in June, buuut my cover artist just fell out of communication with zero explanation. (Which, wow, okay, is exactly why I have trust issues.) Fortunately, I discovered a fantastic Plan B. …Or should I say, Geneva B. Thanks to her, Book 2 has a face! And today, you get to see it.

First, the blurb, so you have an idea what you’re in for:

For a brainstorm like Mach Jenius, the rules are made to be broken.

So when a twist of the plot – and of the very laws of reality – thrust masterful muse Lucianíel and his character children into the nonfictional world, Mach swoops into the void left behind, eager to stake his own creative claim on author Annabelle Iole Gray.

But getting replaced in his involuntary absence has Luc feeling, well, unamused.

If Annabelle’s friends fight their way back into her imagination, newcomer Mach will be flat out of luck, out of a home, and out of an artist to fulfill his mad purpose.

Fortunately, he’s never out of ideas…

And now,

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behold the cover of

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Out of My Head”!

Cover 2 w Text, front

Hello-o-o, Mach Jenius. ^o^ Deciding on his look for the cover was tricky, because he rarely chooses to look the same way twice! But together, he and I settled on an appearance that works to represent him as a whole, and the artist made it happen with her signature flair for color.

How ‘bout a look at Book 1 and 2 side by side?

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Each stylistically different, both entirely awesome. Which, come to think of it, is a perfect metaphor for Luc and Mach.

I can’t wait to give you guys this duology! …But I gotta, because Outlaws of Avalon 3 comes first. So let’s all just try to keep our heads ‘til then.

If the muses allow. ;D

(Feel free to add “Out of My Head” on Goodreads!)

 

Up There with the Best of ‘Em

After I-forget-how-long of knowing this was coming but waiting until I had more details to begin blasting the news from the rooftops, I am all kinds of pleased to announce…

Best of LSQ

(That’s “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years”, for those who for whatever reason can’t see the “ooh-ah”-worthy cover image.)

Luna Station Press is proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our flagship Quarterly with this special anthology. The writers gathered in these pages, from every corner of the globe, are explorers of wonder, magic, and places beyond the stars. They are also explorers of what makes us human, in heart, mind, and spirit. Come explore the best we have to offer, as we look back fondly on the last five years and look ahead at what’s to come. Featuring fifty stories by emerging women writers, with cover art by Hugo award-winner Julie Dillon.

Longtime Ever On Wordians may or may not recall it, but it is Luna Station Quarterly, online speculative fiction magazine for authorial women of all stripes, that bears the distinction of being the first entity ever to accept and publish a Danielle E. Shipley short story – the hundred-word flash fic “Still Broken”, subsequently republished in “The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)”. Since then, it’s been my honor to contribute a number of posts to the LSQ blog, as well as two more short stories – one of which also appears (in much-expanded form) in “The Sky-Child”, the other of which appears… that’s right… within “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly” anthology.

Anyone remember “Train of Thought”, my short-‘n’-sweet companion piece to “INSPIRED”? Well, editor Jennifer Parsons set me squealing by ranking it among her top fifty LSQ stories to date! Color me chuffed – and that goes for Luc and Annabelle, too.

So, who wants a copy of this big, bad fella? It can be yours via Amazon or direct from LSQ – (the latter comes with a coupon code!) – all proceeds to benefit the ongoing production of Luna Station Quarterly.

Who knows? Maybe with your support, another crazy little writer gal will earn her first publication credit in this online mag. ^_^

REBIRTH BlogFest: “Wishmaker”

Behold, my entry for the REBIRTH BlogFest (running from this past Tuesday, May 12 through next Saturday, May 23. Interested writers, take note). Enjoy!

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The summer night was warm enough to drive with the top down. Heavy with the breath of stars. Maria Luna’s hair sailed behind her, a silken black banner, as she maneuvered the car ‘round a bend in the otherwise empty road.

A periwinkle blue car. She had always used to talk of wanting one.

The dream ride lurched with its driver’s surprise as a slim shadow separated itself from the silhouette of treetops at the roadside, sailing a wide arc that brought it down and around to cruise abreast with the vehicle.

The one who flies, Maria Luna thought in awe. She hadn’t expected to ever meet any of the old wishes face to face.

“Hey, a new one!” said the shadow that was a girl – her face, form, and voice much like an early-teen version of the young woman in the car. “What brings you out here at this hour?”

Affecting composure, Maria Luna said, “It’s a full moon.”

“So?”

“So come and see.” Maria Luna tipped her chin toward the passenger seat. “Want a lift?”

“No way,” said the girl, tumbling a loop in the air before offering her hand. “Do you?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Maria Luna shook her head. “The drive is part of the wish.”

“Same here for flying. It’s cool.” The girl shrugged carelessly. “I’ll follow along.”

Maria Luna nodded, a-tingle head to toe with an unspoken excitement. It seemed the night held more wonders in store than she’d first supposed.

In time, the travelers by wheels and flight reached the edge of a field of wild grasses. Rolling to a stop, Maria Luna cut the glare of the headlights and noise of the engine, plunging the space into silvery silence.

“All right,” said the girl, arms folded, feet hovering well above the ground. “You had your drive. Are you allowed to fly now?”

Maria Luna shut the car door behind her with a smile. “The wish was a drive to see the moon. It never specified the view had to be from the earth. Take us up, Maria Pan!”

With a crow of delight, the girl seized the woman’s hand and rose higher, the pair’s path doodling invisible designs over the meadow. Maria Luna’s blood raced and thrilled. This was utter magic!

And then, above them – So close!, Maria Luna’s eyes told her, even though her head knew better – there hung the sphere of white, vast and glowing, drenching the heavens in otherworldly light. The biggest, brightest full moon in years, news sources had predicted, and it looked like they’d been right. For a lover of the moon, as she was, it made for a sight not to be missed.

“Why didn’t she just come out and see it for herself?” The girl’s voice poked through the edge of the young woman’s awareness.

“Hmm?”

“Y’know. Her,” said Maria Pan. “The Mother Maria. I mean, I get that she doesn’t like to drive. Or to leave the house much at all, really. But look at it.” She gestured with her free hand to the celestial beauty before them. “How could she not think this is worth it?” Her mouth twisted down with disdain. “How can she be so lame?”

Lame. Maria Luna conceded the term fit the circumstance Maria Pan referenced all too well. A pity, too. A disgusting waste. A life that could be so much more, if only she – Maria, mother of wishes – would actually live her dreams. Instead, hers was the bad habit of creating dreams to do all the living for her.

“She doesn’t wish to be lame,” Maria Luna murmured.

At her side, Maria Pan muttered, “But does she wish not to be?”

Eyes on the moon, Maria Luna said nothing.

They stayed in the sky for as long as the night’s light shined, returning to the ground with the sunrise. That’s gorgeous, too, Maria Luna thought, drinking in the delicate dawn. Fit for a Maria Soleil.

Of a sudden, she noticed Maria Pan’s hand still clung to hers, more tightly than before. A furrow of anxiety appeared between the girl’s fierce, bright eyes – green with an inner ring of purple. Her maker had once thought that would make the coolest combination. “What will happen to you, now that the moon’s gone?”

Touched, Maria Luna ran her free hand through the pixie cut of the wish to fly and never, never grow up. A forever sort of wish, her purpose and existence secure. Not all wishes were made to last so long. The girl will have seen countless sisters come and go. “What happens to the others, when the wish is fulfilled?”

“Depends.” Maria Pan shrugged a shoulder, then cast a grimace behind it. “For some, the end can’t be worse than the start.”

Maria Luna’s gaze followed the girl’s to where the field met a patch of suburban woodland; settled on the collection of graves in scattered rows among a tangle of brush and wildflowers. Though the dates on the headstones varied, each bore the same name: Maria Morte. Every one a testament to a time the Mother Maria had wished to die.

Too many times.

Too much wishing to die. Too much wishing to live. Past time to stop wishing and start doing.

“There will be other full moons,” Maria Luna said. “Other sunrises, and sunsets. There will be music and dramas and people and places. And I’m going to make them mine.”

Maria Pan looked up at her in puzzlement. “That’s not what you’re made for.”

“What I am,” she said, “is what I make me.”

“What you— Wait. Are you…?” Purple-and-green eyes peered closer, then widened as understanding struck. “You’re her,” the girl gasped, startling into the air. “You’re the Mother Maria!”

“I was,” Maria admitted. “But not anymore. Maybe I can’t fly on my own power or change my eyes, but I can become the me I want inside – one who takes hold of the magic within reach. This time, the magic was the moon. And better, as it turned out: It was a friend.”

Taking once more the hand that had lifted her to the skies, Maria smiled widely, the expression mirrored in the impish face above.

Wishes on their own might not be enough. But some were too precious to let go.

REBIRTH Banner BLUE

Better Fashionably Late Than Never

Two things today, Ever On Wordians!

Thing the first: I’ve signed on at the last minute to join the blog blast for Shadow of the Last Men (Next Man Saga #1)” by J.M. Salyards, currently re-releasing through Xchyler Publishing. So behold the trailer!

SoLM_Available_large

J.M. Salyards, About the Author Graphic

For info on the hoopla surrounding the book’s relaunch (did I see something about a giveaway? ^^), check out Xchyler Pub’s homepage.

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Thing the second: It’s Novel Fashion Week 2014! (For real, this time, not like last month’s little tease.)

*Cues up vid to get you pumped, ‘cause you are getting ALL the trailers today*

Novel Fashion Week Vid Still

No, I’m afraid you can’t click the image to make the vid play, this time around. That’s what the link /above/ the pic is for. Sorry for any confusion; I’m technologically lame.

Like I said at the top of August, I’m joining in the event (as hosted by the Kindred Dreamheart blog with a project of Lucianíel-caliber inspiration: A journal entry guest post by INSPIRED leading lady Annabelle Iole Gray chronicling her adventure in cosplaying the widely-varied personal styles of her characters and muse. The super-fun part? The post comes with photos of me cosplaying as Annabelle cosplaying as her characters.

You got to see a great sampling of the shots in my first “INSPIRED Days” post and in my website’s art gallery. Now you can read the Annabelle commentary that goes with it – as well as enter a giveaway in which you can win an exclusive, created-special-for-this-event set of INSPIRED fashion bookmarks, ooh-ah! – by checking out the full post here!

I only made one batch, guys. May the luckiest son/daughter of a gun take all!

I only made one batch, guys. May the luckiest son/daughter of a gun take all!

Stay stylish, readers.

~ Danielle

“Denied” or, in My Case, the Happy Opposite

From the Wilderhark world of “Still Broken” comes a new fairytale of magic at sunset, “Mercy Denied”. More than used to her music inspiring minstrel admiration, Princess Viralei views her latest marriage proposal as anything but extraordinary. The consequences of her refusal, however, will prove to be precisely that.

            (Reader/writerly types, what think of the mini-blurb? ^^)

            I submitted this short story to online speculative fiction journal Luna Station Quarterly (whom, you may recall, facilitated the two-way honor of publishing my drabble this past December), and rather than choose “to give a refusal to [my submission]; turn [the story] down or away”, they accepted the tale for their latest issue! And that issue is now available to be read online here (and is also, I believe, downloadable on PDF)! …Or, if you’d like to skip straight to my story, I’m fine with that, too. (:

            In other joyful acceptance news, the latest issue of Digital Dragon Magazine (more online spec. fic.) also includes a short story of mine – a humorous piece (completely out of the minstrel vein, just to mix it up) entitled “Superpower Outage”. If you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it, that’ll mean double fun points. Come on – you wouldn’t want to deny yourself that. (;