Love, Letters, and a List

Has anyone else taken notice of a trend, lately, in which books are pitched as “a love letter to [this, that, or the other]”? Like, it’s not just a novel set in a city or country, it’s a love letter to that place. No mere story featuring a certain food or cuisine, but a love letter to that gastronomic experience. That character’s journey of self-discovery via an ‘80s pop musician’s body of work / a genre of film / online gaming / illegal goat racing? A love letter to some past or present obsession that made the author the particular brand of weirdo they are today.

As someone who has neither received nor can recall writing any actual love letters (that one epistolary novel from my authorial youth, may it rest in pieces, doesn’t count), I’m not best qualified to decide whether these vogueish descriptions are accurate, misleading, or running all up and down the spectrum in between. What I do know is, they’ve got me thinking:

If the works of Deshipley were letters, what – or who – would be their loves?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash.com

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The Wilderhark Tales = A Love Letter to … True Love

Sure, I could try to break it down book by book – like, “The Song Caster”, love letter to adventure; “The Sun’s Rival”, love letter to the moon; “The Seventh Spell”, love letter to having met Edgwyn Wyle in “The Stone Kingdom” and needing another novella with him in it, pronto. But as a series, the fairytale magic of True Love™ is the heartsong of it all. The love of a princess for her spell-breaking prince; of minstrels for music; of lonely souls for their place in the sky. It’s as cheesy as it is frikkin’ deep, y’all.

The Outlaws of Avalon Novels = A Love Letter to … the Merry Men

By which I mean not only Robin Hood and his legendary band, but also:

– Friendship and

– Bromance and

– Found/chosen families and

– Sherwood Forest and

– Benevolent crimes and

– Renaissance Faire players (especially the ones trained to wave swords about for show).

“An Avalon Christmas Carol” = A Love Letter to … Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Or a fan letter, at the very least.

“Truly Great Words Never Die” = A Love Letter to … Having Fun with Unusual Words

Likewise, to the founders of Save-a-Word Saturday, who are as much to blame thank for the very existence of this little ebook as I am.

The “Inspired” Novels = A Love Letter to … Imagination

…Or so I wrote in the blurb for their companion journal, before I knew it was cool. ‘Tis only true, though. Imaginary friends. Imaginary worlds. The real-life power that ‘just pretend’ can wield. There wouldn’t be an artwork out there worth calling a letter o’ love without it!

“Date Due” = A Love Letter to … Books and Murder

(Make sure to pronounce the latter with a few extra U’s and R’s, for best effect.)

“So Super Dead” = A Love Letter to … ???

I just… I don’t even know. Sometimes the muse frolics down a path of pure absurdity and all you can do is follow, stopping to pluck the dark, decaying flowers along the way. A labor of love? Absolutely. A letter of love? That may be taking it a bit far.

“Deathsong of the Deep” = A Love Letter to … the Kraken, Of Course!

Which isn’t to say that my tentacled lad was given nearly enough page time, because he was NOT. Something about an entire novel of nothing but Kraken killing people and singing to himself being slightly less compelling than the tale of Molly Worth, Captain Crow, and the crew of the Painted Lady. Like that’s an excuse.

“The Once and Future Camelot” = A Love Letter to … Arthuriana

Most specifically, to the ‘Camelot crowd’ I sorta-kinda met in my Outlaws series, but whom I didn’t truly come to know and grow to love until I began unearthing their full story. Heck, some of them even got letters addressed to them by name on this blog (search ‘Letters to Camelot’ in the sidebar), and I’d assuredly compose even more, if Writer Me weren’t lying unconscious somewhere inside my skull. The legend of Camelot’s fall is, as I’ve often labeled it, the absolute saddest tale ever told, and my emotional wreck of a self is Here For It, body and soul.

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Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

Have you encountered any memorable ‘love letter’ descriptions in your media, recently? If your favorite books were love letters, they would be to what/to whom? If you’ve read any of the Deshipley love letters listed above, which most deeply touched your heart and why? Share all in the comments!

Yours with love,

~ Danielle

Time May [Kiss &] Tell

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo“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.”

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and… Nothing.

“Will!” Allyn whisper-shouts. “That was your cue.”

“Wait, what?!” Will’s voice calls from who-knows-where. “The show’s live now?? But it’s Monday! Danielle never announced a blogging schedule switch!”

“As our band leader may have told you, Danielle has been rather busy turning her entire life upside-down,” Allyn points out. “The old schedule’s right out the window. I expect it’ll be like her days in Germany all over again – blog posts if and when she feels like it, no more predictable than that.”

“Fine, fine. Just lemme grab my other boot. Catch a fellow while he’s in the shower, why don’t you…”

Moments later, Will Scarlet himself hastens – smiling, waving, and briefly maneuvering on one foot – onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Sorry about that hiccup, coming out the gate. 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, “Wikipedia has made brief mention of her thus:

In many works outside the Lancelot-Grail inspired tradition[,] Gawain has sisters. They include […] Clarissant in Chrétien’s Cligés […] An important episode [in Perceval, the Story of the Grail] is Gawain’s liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him. This tale also breaks off unfinished.

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Clarissant aesthetic, found via Tumblr.

“Welcome, Clarissant!” Will greets the noblewoman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why have I actually never heard of you until halfway through the drafting of #CamelotWIP? Like, what the high hell, you don’t even show up in our author’s brainstorming notes!”

Clarissant’s mild blink is a peeved cousin of her celebrated brother’s. “To the first, I can only suppose that legend did not find me enough of a villainess to be of concentrated importance to Uncle Arthur’s narrative. Damsels are quested for and forgotten. Girl-siblings, unworthy of mention, unless they provide a nephew of note.” A semi-smile touches her lips. “Only the wicked and the witches leave their mark. Danielle might never have come across my name, were it not for some muse-born conviction that her Gawain had a sister, lost to time. Why she doesn’t seem to have bothered to plan my story arc on paper before working it into her novel, I cannot say. Perhaps she worked out enough of her plans verbally, with Tirzah, that she felt confident she had things sufficiently ordered in her head.”

“What is your arc in the novel? Or, at any rate, what can you tell us of it without mega-spoilers?”

“My part in the tale begins where the first Camelot ends,” says she, tidying any runaway wisps in her thick brown braid. “Its civil war finished and the Round Table decimated, I’m placed in the sideline role oft allotted to women: Alive and alone, left to pick up the pieces. I could have chosen to remain where I was. Instead, I looked to the Fey and seized upon a quest for the future Camelot.”

“Audacity!” Will approves.

“Desperation,” Clarissant corrects. “When you feel you’ve already lost everything, what’s to fear of further risk?”

“That… sounds like a mood I know.”

She studies the sorrow at his smile’s edges. “Yes, I believe we do have that in common, however differently we channel it.”

“Not so very differently, in essentials,” Will maintains. “It’s not as if either of our paths could be called sane.”

“Or called separate,” Clarissant notes. “Indeed, my path intersected with yours in a most astonishing way.”

“And with Allyn’s!”

“Of course with Allyn’s. His powers of protagonism are nothing short of cosmic.”

“Because he is a Chosen One,” says Will. “Whereas you, lady of Orkney, are one who chose.”

“Lady of Listeneise,” says Clarissant, a pleased shade of pink rising in her plump cheeks at Will’s words. “I have been wed and widowed, you know.”

“Belated congrats and condolences. So, now that Danielle’s given you a space in her Camelot legend, what would you most like to be remembered for?”

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Also, it seems she has lately inspired a stage play! One review found here.

“Part of me would say my destination,” Clarissant says thoughtfully. “Another part would say my journey. Each is its own kind of important, in a tale. Above all, I think I would like to be remembered as my own knight. My own champion and hero, lacking only the title and shiny trappings that would have been mine as they were my brothers’, had I been born a boy. I’d have been one of the Round Table’s best, I don’t doubt.”

“And which side would you have fought for, at Camlann?”

An indelicate snort. “For Arthur’s, naturally. And would have talked my more foolish brothers ‘round into doing the same.”

“Sounds like the right choice, to me! And while we’re on the subject of choices: Tell me, Clarissant, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A smile of epic proportions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, I hardly think our author has much time for secrets, these days. You and I may as well share a kiss.”

Thus saying, Clarissant leans forward to set a kiss each to the smile lines bracketing Will’s mouth. Aforesaid lines crease into their customary position as Will calls out, “Ho, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Once and Future Camelot’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now in paperback (here) and e-book (here and here)

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Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Clarissant! 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 talk to Danielle about getting them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Once and Future Favorites

As of last week, the Artist Artwork Formerly Known as #CamelotWIP is out in the world. In celebration, I’d like to take a moment to carry on with what I’ve been doing since, like, 2016: Gush about my utter infatuation with this book.

Seriously, I’m not remembering if any other writing project of mine has made a hostage of my imagination like this. Not to play favorites but… no, actually, yeah, that’s exactly what we’re playing. Behold, a few (dozen) of my favorite things about “The Once and Future Camelot”!

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~ Favorite Character ~

Why would I even ask myself this when there’s no way I can answer it? I went into drafting this book with a spiked interest in some of the characters and their complicated plot, but it wasn’t until I was neck-deep in the ruins of Camelot that I realized I was falling in love with everyone around me.

With Gawain for his strange serenity; with Lancelot for his rough-edged passion; with Mordred for his secret heart; with Arthur for his impossible love. My spirit tangled with the rich emptiness of Morganne’s. My blood burned in tandem with Bedivere’s. My— well, let’s not go so far as to say ‘love’ is what I feel for Merlin; my inner Will Scarlet’s got too much to process for that.

Anyway, I honestly cannot point to any single character as my certain favorite. Just follow the pain, and you’ll find my heart there.

~ Favorite Relationships ~

(Just went ahead and used the plural, so I can point to more than one. ^o^)

– Galahad x Mordred, because y’all already know I’m here all day for a big ol’ bromance.

– Arthur x Robin Hood; see reasoning above.

– Gawain x Guinevere, because it’s so low-key and tangential yet grounding for both of them to have each other. I think they mutually see one another (in the “Sun’s Rival” sense) better than any other pairing in the story, and something in me takes a relieved sort of comfort in that.

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Favorites to Play the Cast of #CamelotWIP, as seen on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr

~ Favorite Chapter ~

Book 1, Chapter XV. The one I spent all the chapters that came before it absolutely itching to write. The one that could arguably stand as a satisfying short story all on its own. The one that’s been sending delicious thrills through my bones at the very thought of it for three years and counting. That chapter.

~ Favorite Scenes/Moments ~

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In no particular order…

– The birth of Excalibur

– Knight vs. Hell-beast

– Wizard vs. Lady of the Lake

– Mordred in the rain

– Orkneys in the stable

– “A moment to confer”

– Spring Break Faeries

– Prayer room rebellion

– Arthur x Lancelot, shortly after Now

– Two willing tools of enemies

– Two dragons on the roof

– Two roads diverged in a legend, and he… he chose the harder treachery… and that has me over here bawling.

~ Favorite Narrative Voice ~

I originally thought I could write an entire novel from Morganne’s point of view. I would come to learn that this would not be a viable option. The thing about Morganne is – as once I put it in a Twitter post – she’s basically got ‘magical depression.’ She’s incapable of generating her own emotions, making her POV a necessarily dispassionate experience. It’s a fascinating space to put myself in for the odd chapter here and there, but for a whole book? Exhausting just to contemplate.

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For a minute later on, I thought I could tell the book’s second half in Bedivere’s voice. Again, that turned out to be a no, but for opposite reasons. Bedivere’s got feelings and opinions about everything, and if he chooses to talk about it at all, it’ll be in the most smart-alecky way possible. While this can be fun, and makes for hilarious irreverent monologue/dialogue, he couldn’t give all the other characters’ inner lives justice if he tried (which he probably wouldn’t).

All that having been said, those two were still probably my favorite first-person voices to use in this predominantly third-person novel.

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~ Favorite Songs I Associate with #CamelotWIP~ (as shared on its page on my website)

~ Favorite Quotes ~

Not by any means a comprehensive list, but some of the standouts include…

– The room was thick with breath arrested.

– “Up, Galahad, son of Lancelot du Lac, Champion of the King, and so forth.”

– It was the Age of Chivalry. Unrequited love was the new black.

– Then up goes his head, no matter how heavy. Up goes a smile, no matter how sad.

– “Amendment,” I allow. “I apologize for the villainy.”

– My formative years were all prayers, rites, and living in hope that movable type would someday replace copying the Holy Book by hand.

The cost of immortality? A silent chuckle. Immortality.

– “The sun favors those brave of face.”

– Feeling I must tell you, choosing to say nothing: My kindest, cruelest way of holding power over you…

– Mordred’s lashes, doom of adoring maidens…

– “What else?” said Robin Hood. “Call our congressmen.”

“I would know him,” I point out, and you shoot me a glare of irritation.

“Of course you would. And were it practical to wave you about like a divining wand over every man I met, so would I. But you are not a /tool/, Morganne.”

My lips play the part of a smile. “Meaning I am not biddable.”

You nod your hair into your eyes, shove it back again. “Meaning I need something that is.”

Camelot Tweet, BedivereIsOnFire

<<<>>>

Have you started reading “The Once and Future Camelot” yet? If yes, what are your favorite parts or aspects of the book, so far? If no, but you think you might get around to checking it out eventually, what are you most looking forward to? (Or, hey, did you perchance have a favorite part of this blog post?) Gush along in the comments!

The [Once and] Future is NOW!

After months of hype, #CamelotWIP is a work-in-progress no longer. That’s right: “The Once and Future Camelot” is now published!

And when I say “months of hype”, I basically mean… well, I’ve talked about it a lot on Twitter. Had a number of tie-in blog posts. Tha-a-a-at’s about it.

Was a time I’d have organized a giveaway, reached out to a legion of advance reviewers, maybe tried to put together a blog tour. But that was the ‘Once’ Deshipley. The ‘Future’ Deshipley has had neither the time nor the energy for that level of hoopla.

I’ll tell you what I do have, though: A truly great imagination that never dies. And with it, I invite you to join me in pretending that this epic novel got the promotional campaign it deserves. Heck, if we’re dreaming, let’s go all out and pretend this epic novel got a blockbusting theatrical trailer! I’ll even provide the script, complete with dialogue and imagery lifted straight from the actual book. ^_^

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[A knight and a lady engage in passionate goings-on. Murmurs of “Oh, Lance…” and “My queen…” and such in between kisses. Romantic music swells. Candlelight brightens and blurs the scene.]

Sir Bedivere voice-over: “I’ll give ‘em this.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere on a modern family room couch, munching on nachos.]

Bedivere cont.: “That was a lot more tastefully done than a number of comparable scenes we’ve viewed.”

[In the light of the television, Sir Lancelot glowers.]

King Arthur, warningly: “Bedivere.”

Bedivere: “I’m just looking for silver linings, my liege. Related point: The guy they cast to play you. Very pretty.”

[Cut to another dimly lit castle setting and a teen boy (Mordred).]

Mordred: “I believe that statement was technically treason.”

[Quietly epic music]

[Onscreen writing: EVERYONE KNOWS THE STORY.]

Elaine voice-over: “Arthur Pendragon is the chosen King… Chosen not only of the Sword, but of Heaven. And to serve him is to know Heaven on Earth.”

[Montage of a young Galahad taking in his first awesome sight of Camelot… overhead shot of the famed Round Table… Guinevere being presented to Arthur for marriage… knights bowing, banners flying, Excalibur gleaming, yadda-yadda…]

[Onscreen writing: NOBODY KNOWS THE TRUTH.]

Future Lancelot, at Merlin’s computer desk: “Tell me what happened.”

[Cut to Past Lancelot, on trial before the Round Table.]

Future Lance cont., voice-over: “Tell me it wasn’t like that.”

[Montage of basically everybody, Past and Future, looking various shades of miserable, angry, distressed…]

Merlin voice-over: “We cannot move forward until we’ve put what’s behind us to rest. …And I am not the one to remind you.”

[Restless music]

Morganne le Fey, as seen through a scrying bowl: “Merlin… What has caused you fear?”

[Cut to Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, rising like a beautiful menace from her mist-veiled waters.]

Merlin voice-over, ominous: “She’s coming.”

Morganne voice-over: “She could not do it alone.”

[Montage of the Black Knight fighting… Lancelot scowling at who-knows-what… a horned Faerie boy vanishing with a grin into a puff of purple smoke…]

[Onscreen writing: HOW DID THEY FALL?]

Past Lancelot: “I’m… sorry.”

Galahad, flinching away in fury: “Sorry? For which sin sorry?”

[Cut back to Vivienne in the lake, taunting.]

Vivienne: “Can it be that I foresee what you have not?”

[Cut to scene of epic Camlann battle.]

Vivienne cont., voice-over: “Have you yet to dream what’s coming?”

Merlin voice-over, sounding thoroughly shook: “I suppose it was simply time.”

[Cut to a tearstained Allyn-a-Dale.]

Allyn: “How long before we stop believing time to be our ally?”

[Onscreen writing: HOW WILL THEY RISE?]

Past Guinevere, in a courtyard: “I would have you fight for Arthur.”

Future Lancelot, in a parking lot: “It will take all of us.”

[Cut to Arthur, first Past then Future, looking grim as he prepares to pronounce judgement.]

Arthur voice-over, vehement: “If I am ever to be a king again, it will be because I stand up and choose to act like one.”

[Cut to Morganne blowing a bowl of magic smoke into Arthur’s face, rendering him unconscious.]

Morganne voice-over: “We stand as we see fit, little Pendragon. Trust no one any further than that.”

[Chorus of Imagine Dragons’ “Warriors blasts.]

[Montage showing Sirs Gawain, Lancelot, and Bedivere looking knightly… a monstrous dragon spewing a ball of fire… the Green Knight swinging his broadaxe in the forest, transitioning to Guinevere striking a blood-splattering blow with a sword in the moonlight… Arthur fighting shadow creatures in some nightmarish wasteland… some vaguely undead-looking figure blowing to nothing in a gale-force wind… Merlin’s eyes glowing white amidst a galaxy’s worth of burning stars…]

[Music quiets]

Merlin voice-over: “Things happen as they’re meant to.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere, chilling out of medieval uniform.]

Bedivere, flatly: “Things. Not a political scandal, not the unraveling of Camelot… just things.”

[Cut to Future Gawain, pleasantly smiling.]

Gawain: “That’s easily remedied.”

[Title card: THE ONCE AND FUTURE CAMELOT]

Future Bedivere: “A lot’s changed since before.”

Future Arthur: “I wouldn’t say ‘changed.’ I’d say ‘been brought to light.’”

Future Bedivere: “That does sound sexier.”

[Onscreen writing: IN PAPERBACK AND EBOOK NOW]

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THAT’S the kind of hype I’m talking about! If you are now dying to see the movie… erm, that is, read the book, grab your paperback copy here, and/or ebook here (Barnes & Noble / Nook / epub) or here (Amazon / Kindle / mobi)! All purchases, reviews, and word-of-mouth sharing shall be most appreciated.

See you around Avalon,

~ Danielle

Letters to Camelot: At First [G]Lance

Dear Lancelot,

I must apologize.

It was one thing for Allyn-a-Dale to form a certain impression of you during Books 1, 1.5, and 2 of the Outlaws of Avalon series. He was but a fellow character, with a character’s limited view. And for all his exceptional talents and abilities, soul-reading is not one. Of course he thought you were merely stuck-up.

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But I, as your author, ought to have sooner known better. Ought to have taken half-a-moment to scrutinize past your frigid exterior. Ought to have figured out sometime before the third novel I wrote you into that, oh, you weren’t an arrogant asshole, you just had autism.

Also, misery. You had a whole lot of that. (And they say you can’t take anything with you, when you die…)

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Once I actually went looking inside your head, I found you unexpectedly appealing to write about. Sure, you still pulled some jerk moves; did some people wrong; were as far from perfect as anyone semi-universally agreed upon to have cuckolded his beloved king would have to be. But you’re more than your faults, and bigger than your blunders. And to  my mind, you deserved better than you got.

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May the future renaissance of Camelot see the wrongs you’ve done (and done to you) made right.

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Lancelot = I don’t know what made me first think so, but now I can’t unthink it: Lance singing “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, ‘Once’) to Arthur would be just a little bit perfect.

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Edit: Sooner than soon, in one respect: The Barnes & Noble/Nook e-book edition is available for pre-order here! Buy now, receive the goods on October 25th! Kindle and print editions, still to come. Stay tuned!

Questions for Camelot

The facts are these: Ya gurl Deshipley is super tired and low on creative energy, right now. But I still wanted to find some way to sorta-kinda make good on Rule #4 of last week’s Sunshine Blogger Award tag.

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So rather than use up all my juice on coming up with interesting things to ask people, I took advantage of this little thing called ‘the internet’ (Will Scarlet told me about it; sounds pretty lit) and scared up this resource full of various getting-to-know-you questions. Now I just needed to find 11 people to do the answering.

Naturally, I turned to “The Once and Future Camelot” – which, lucky for us all, has enough point-of-view characters on cast to pair each one with a question at semi-random. Let’s see what our knights/squires, wizard, half-Fey, etc. had to say for themselves!

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1 = @ Galahad – What do you hope never changes?

The youth sniffs in grumpy disdain. “Most things under Heaven need to change, if you ask me. Which… you have. But,” he allows, glaring thoughtfully at the sky, “if I could see one thing unchanged forever – and if I may permit myself a single self-serving desire – I would hope that, even when we are both grown up and come fully into knighthood, I could yet retain Mordred at my side.” His lips do not quite smile, but they soften. “Sometimes he feels like the only thing that makes this too-unchanging world bearable.”

*

2 = @ Sir Lancelot – What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?

The answer comes sharp and hard, without hesitation. “Arthur deciding he wants me. Not everything that came of it was lucky. But that part was.”

*

3 = @ Queen Guinevere – What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

She hums in thought for a moment, then decides, “While the lack of preparation might render the material a bit disorganized, I could easily spend forty minutes lecturing on Fey culture. Though, a question-and-answer session would probably be better,” she adds, “so as to ensure I hit upon any points the audience most wants to learn. There’s no covering all I know in so short a time, after all; and even what I know may not cover the half of the Faerie world’s complexities.”

*

4 = @ Sir Bedivere – What kind of art do you enjoy most?

“That would be the art of— how does the book put it? Ah, yes.” His grin glints, dagger-like. “Making men squirm. Not to call myself a master of it, but yeah, I basically am.”

*

5 = @ Mordred – How do you relax after a hard day of work?

“A cool bath can wash away any number of hours of labor,” the boy replies, his low voice no less relaxing. “All the better if the bathing takes place in a lively brook, or a fountain, or a lake. I would sleep a whole night long on a lakebed, if I could,” he says, tone wistful. “How in the world did straw-filled pallets become the castle norm?”

*

6 = @ Morganne le Fey – Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

Her blink falls slow and rises slower over a midnight gaze. “I don’t know that one could say any of us have truly accomplished anything. In the smaller scheme of things, however, I would list those with the name Pendragon. My mother, who learned exclusive magic and rose to Queenship of all Faeriekind. My father, a nobody who rode a random stroke of luck all the way to a throne of his own. And my half-brother, who has held onto his heart even as he’s given it freely away, and thereby gained the hearts of legions in return.”

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

*

7 = @ Merlin – When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

“When people come to me, it’s usually for answers,” the magician says shortly. “When people leave me, it’s usually without answers. Maybe someday they’ll figure that out and stop wasting their time and mine.”

*

8 = @ Allyn-a-Dale – What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

“‘How are you?’” The minstrel strums a bitter chord upon his lute. “Rather,” he continues, plucked notes trickling behind him, “it’s annoying when strangers or acquaintances ask, because they’re not truly interested in knowing; won’t really hear any answer but ‘fine’. Yet it’s worse when those close to you ask, because they won’t take ‘fine’ for an answer. They know what you’ve suffered; they’ve read it or lived it with you in the third Outlaws of Avalon novel. But still they ask, as if words can contain what you feel.” He mutes his lute strings with a sigh. “It’s all of it pointless.”

*

9 = @ Sir Gawain – If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

“I expect,” he says pleasantly, “I would spend at least part of the extra time missing the need to sleep. It’s been my sole opportunity, thus far, to allow my mind any respite from active thought. A meditative state comes close, but even meditation is a mental act over which I maintain conscious control. Only unconscious can I experience life beyond the bounds of reason. This question supposes I would no longer require such. Still, a man may wish for that which he can live without.”

*

10 = @ King Arthur – What’s something you are self-conscious about?

“Truly? I don’t know if I will ever not feel self-conscious when someone kneels to me. Even when it’s just Avalon Faire patrons bowing for fun, pretending to believe I’m the king my surviving subjects really do think I am and/or will be.” His Majesty’s grimace is apologetic. “Everyone means well, but I find it, shall we say, emotionally challenging. …Excepting when Robin Hood does it,” he amends, chuckling. “He never takes a knee without a private wink to say he doesn’t believe I’m anything special. It’s a lie, but I need it, and he knows it, and that’s why we’re bros.”

*

And you haven’t yet been properly introduced, but our final question goes to…

11 = @ Clarissant of Listeneise – When do you feel truly “alive”?

“Never am I more acutely aware of how alive I am,” she says grimly, “than when someone I care for has died.”

(From a partial blog post away, Allyn murmurs, “Ah! A fitting answer to ‘How are you?’”)

<<<>>>

What think ye, readers, of Camelot’s answers? What would yours be? And who/what/where do you turn to when your creative energy runs dry? Tell all in the comments!

Letters to Camelot: To She Whose Heart Remains Unguessed

Teen Guinevere
My reblog-with-commentary, as seen upon the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

Dear Guinevere,

I feel I owe you an apology.

When first I wrote of you, in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, I didn’t know the first thing about you. Not meaning you, the legendary queen of Camelot; most of the world knows a thing or two about her. I mean you, eternally alive in Avalon Faire. You, the character. You, the person. You, yourself.

In all honesty, I’m still not sure about how well I know you now.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_01

“Ballad” and “An Avalon Christmas Carol” showed me that you’re big on games. Watching you partake in the Faerie revels of your second novel appearance suggested to me that you were more at home among the Fey than in a castle. In Outlaws 3… erm, I’m honestly not remembering whether you had any page time in that one. I feel like I mentioned your horse…?

Well. The Outlaws series was never about you or yours.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_WhyArentWeRightInside

Then came the drafting and redrafting of #CamelotWIP, and with it, the need to uncover your role in the story – not merely what you did or didn’t do, but why. And in the process, and I made a discovery:

You are not a woman easily known. Not to me, nor to your Faire-mates and family, nor even to yourself.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_WhoseHeartRemainsUnguessed
From the bonus song at the end of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”.

I’ve had one friend accuse me of simply paying you too little attention, because that’s how my brain tries to default with female characters. And I can grumpily admit, while striving to do better, that this could play a part in the matter. But in all fairness, Your Majesty, you are a puzzle. A special blend of subtleties, contradictions, and secrets. If there’s one thing your long years in Avalon have taught you, it is inscrutability.

From what hidden cyphers I’ve been able to decode, though, it’s clear you’re a soul worth half-knowing: Thoughtful, resilient, and brave. Marion Hood knows your value as a friend; Gawain, in particular, as a queen; and Arthur… well, few know how to value individuals the way Arthur does.

CamelotQuotes_Guinevere_AnyStrengthThatNight

You’ll have seen stories portray you just about every which-way, over the centuries. I hope you’ll feel my own account does at least a part of you some kind of justice.

(You’ll have been waiting your whole life for justice, poor girl.)

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Guinevere =  Although “The Willow Maid” by Erutan is no perfect match for Her Majesty’s story, I would say it captures certain facets of the spirit – the softness, sadness, sharpness… and, not least, the soul of the Greenwood.

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Letters to Camelot: Where ‘Pure’ Meets ‘Problematic’

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_01

Dear Galahad,

I am so, so sorry.

Mostly, sorry for making you so much like me.

I don’t think I consciously modeled you after myself, any more than when I created Sheriff Swanton of Nottinghamshire for “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. And yet, you two – (we three) – and weirdly alike.

Your touch aversion = mine. Your unfairly high standards for humanity = mine. Your disinclination to offer forgiveness = yeah, we all three got hit with that one hard.

Camelot Dolls_Galahad x 2
Galahad, as seen in “Once and Future Fan Art

It’s a double shame, because fiction is all too eager to frame ‘religious’ characters as the bad guys. (Something about a shocking number of Christians and so-called Christians throughout history doing a really, really terrible job being the least bit Christ-like.) The minute you walk onto the page, young squire, there is guaranteed to be some reader somewhere who shuts you out, unwilling to see the best of you amid the… less than best of you.

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_02.2

You are far from being the villain in the story of Camelot I found. And yet, how much of the kingdom’s fall was the fault of villains, and how much the fault of its heroes?

I’m sorry that’s hurtful for you to know. But the good news is: Arthur.

If you’re seen as an example of Christianity gone wrong, I hope he’s recognized as Christianity gone right. Not by any means perfect. Not free of mistakes or poor choices. But undeniably and powerfully brimming with agape – God’s own love.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sorry you and I aren’t more like Arthur. Maybe by the time the Age of Camelot comes ‘round again, we’ll have figured out better.

I’m also sorry that, pie-in-the-sky assuming this novel generates a following, you’re gonna get shipped with Mordred. Yes, that’s what fandom is like. No, our shared asexuality (and your probable aromanticsm) will not save you. Apologies again.

CamelotQuotes_Galahad_03

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Galahad = “Stars” from Les Miserables (10th Anniversary Concert version), because ~Righteous Intensity-y-y~

(I guess he’d be singing it about his father, lol-cringe)

<<<>>>

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Once and Future Fan Art

The longer I live, the harder it is to find leisure-time activities that hit that sweet spot overlapping ‘productive’, ‘relaxing’, and ‘fun’.

Also hard to find: Fan art for a novel I’m still a couple months or so away from publishing.

Or so it was, until I followed my muse to AzaleasDolls.com and started playing around with virtual dolls designed to resemble my characters from “The Once and Future Camelot” (#CamelotWIP). And just like that, I had both a low-key pastime to appease my creative urges AND a growing collection of Arthurian portraiture!

So, who’s ready to meet some of the faces from Avalon Faire … and/or from the kingdom before?

<<<>>>

Camelot Dolls_Lance x 3

Name, Title: Sir Lancelot du Lac, King’s Champion of Camelot, Knight of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Strikingly tall and broad of shoulder; face hard as stone beneath his sweep of moonlight hair, silvery gold; advances and blows flowing one to another with the inexorable might of a waterfall. Gawain’s skill, though formidable, looked almost a beginner’s effort next to the ruthless grace of Sir Lancelot.

A Word on the Art: The image on the far left (made in ‘Warrior Maker’) probably has the clearest knightly vibe going for it, notwithstanding its being a bit reminiscent of a Roman centurion. The facial expression is spot on; 10/10 would absolutely see it on Lance’s face at one time or another. In the center is an early sketch effort of mine, produced circa the first-drafting of “Ballad” in late 2010. Not a bad likeness, considering I’d barely even known him or what he looked like. And on the far right, courtesy of ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’, we get Lance as a Jedi! Canonically, there is no reason for him to wield an actual lightsaber, but I think we can agree he’d look amazing doing it.

*

Camelot Dolls_Gawain x 3

Name: Sir Gawain of Orkney, Knight of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Self-Described in #CamelotWIP:

Gawain didn’t want a seat that rolled around, and too much comfort verged on uncomfortable. His was a square, wooden seat, plain and sturdy, the arms wideset – more or less, Gawain expected, what he himself would be, were he a chair.

A Word on the Art: As with Lance, the far left image was made in somewhat limited ‘Warrior Maker’. The belt he wears holds special story significance; the shield’s just because. Center is a sketch I did at the same time – and on the same piece of paper – as Lancelot’s. In a world where art skews toward slimmer characters, I made it a point to attempt portrayal of Gawain’s huskier build. The far right image, meanwhile, was a gift from my BFF+, fellow writer Tirzah Duncan, during her ‘model a heck-ton of Guild Wars II avatars on Deshipley characters’ phase. Maybe it’s just because it came from her, but number 3 is my favorite. ^_^

Fun Bonus: Side-by-side (…-by-side-by-side) portraits of Gawain and his three younger brothers introduced in #CamelotWIP – Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth!

Simulated Orkneys 4

*

Camelot Dolls_Bedivere x 3

Name, Title: Sir Bedivere the One-Handed, Captain of the Round Table

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Self-Described in #CamelotWIP:

“Ah.” The knight cut a canny look the king’s way. “So you like your current events like you like your history.”

“Yes, you could—”

“…Strong, dark, and hellishly hot,” Bedivere finished. “Or is that your coffee? No, it’s your captains.”

A Word on the Art: When it comes to depictions of Bedivere, inclusion of a sword is a must – whether it be a basic ‘Warrior Maker’ blade (far left), a mere hilt with the rest of the weapon implied (center sketch), or some sort of rune-engraved monstrosity of steel larger than its wielder (Guild Wars gift from Tirzah, far right). And as regards that third image, the answer is yes: Bedivere does look every bit that deadly hot on the battlefield.

*

Camelot Dolls_Galahad x 2

Name: Galahad of Joyous Gard

First Introduced In: A #CamelotWIP debut!

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

“You’re like a hawk,” a low voice spoke. “The way your eyes move … The way they pierce. What do they search for?”

A Word on the Art: On the left (via Tirzah and Guild Wars), we see Galahad circa Camelot’s fall, at just about 18 years old. Piercing gaze? Check! On the right (via ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’), I’d say he’s more 14-ish – just a couple years into his training as a squire. Again, lightsaber technology would not be a thing. That sort of saintly-iconic light burst going on behind him, though… that, I would call, if not canonical, then certainly in keeping with his character.

*

Camelot Dolls_Mordred x 2

Name: Mordred

First Introduced In: A #CamelotWIP debut!

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Though more than a year behind in age, he’d grown every inch as tall as Galahad, his form just as powerful, with the sinuous grace of a cat’s tail; his face caught between the softness of a child, the strength of a man, and the splendor of an angel.

A Word on the Art: Okay, show of hands: Am I only one who just wants to squish the boy’s softly-strong-and-splendid angel face?? Tirzhah’s Guild Wars version on the left did a passable job (the eyes, apart from being blue instead of gray, are basically flawless), though the ‘Sci-Fi Warrior 2’ adaptation on the right may have, surprisingly, hit even closer to the mark. And I mean, whatever – if Lance and Galahad have lightsabers now, Mordred may as well be a master of the Force. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*

Camelot Dolls_Guinevere x 3

Name, Title: Guinevere, Queen of Camelot

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Seen by Gawain in #CamelotWIP:

He thought of Guinevere in some half a dozen ways at any given moment. Her Majesty. His uncle’s wife. Something like a second sister, in the absence of his first. The legend-reputed adulteress. The lady of whom he was determined to believe no such thing. The girl plucked first from her father’s home, then from the wilds of the Fey realm, then from Camelot and into an alien place that shared its name but not the half of its soul. He saw them all, layer upon layer upon layer, as she walked the Faire’s streets, or lounged in the castle, or rolled a thunderous strike for the team when she and the knights ventured Outside for the new-formed tradition of Bowling Night.

A Word on the Art: After browsing the site’s options, I found a favorite for Guinevere in ‘Casual Style’. Even then, no single clothing combination could encompass her subtle layers of personality. Hence, a triptych of Outside!Guinevere fashion possibilities.

*

Camelot Dolls_Vivienne x 2

Name, Title: Vivienne, Lady of the Lake

First Introduced In: She was made mention of in “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, but we didn’t actually see her until the holiday dream sequence that was “An Avalon Christmas Carol” (Outlaws of Avalon #1.5).

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

A womanly vision of silver-limned gold, bright as the veiled glow of the moon. Amber skin beaded with water like stars. Ears tapering up like the tip of a dagger. … Eyes an ever-changing shade of silver-blue-green…

A Word on the Art: On the left, an indulgence in a ‘Casual Style’ interpretation of Vivienne. On the right, a far more canonically accurate version via, aptly enough, ‘Elven Portrait’. One thing I appreciated about that one = how I was able to do her ears. Rather than the dainty, pretty little ears traditionally attributed to Elven beauties, the ones seen here read as inarguably inhuman, and even suggest something mer-like, to my eye.

*

Camelot Dolls_Morganne x 2

Name, Title: Morganne le Fey, Faerie Queen

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

Living darkness, drawn in light.

(More detailed descriptions have been given elsewhere, but none could more succinctly capture her essence.)

A Word on the Art: Will Scarlet is of the opinion that ‘Casual Style’ Morganne looks ready to drop it like it’s hot in a music video. He is not wrong. ‘Elven Portrait’ Morganne, meawhile… given the limitations of the medium, that is practical perfection. Nothing but love and respect for my shadowy Faerie Queen.

*

And last for now, but far from the least…

Camelot Dolls_Arthur , Merlin

Names, Titles: Arthur Pendragon, The Once and Future King of Camelot, with Merlinus “Merlin” Ambrosius, King’s Wizard of Camelot

First Introduced In: “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon #1)

As Described in #CamelotWIP:

In some ways, it was like looking at Gawain a few years hence, for the King bore a strong resemblance to his eldest nephew. Just as truly, it was like looking at no other. The King’s smile creased gently around eyes the rich brown of good earth, and warmed Galahad all up and down. Never before had he received a smile like that.

…and…

Though his gray beard hung low and he leaned against the gnarled staff in his hand, the man did not appear at all frail. What could be discerned of his shape seemed strong beneath a strange robe, too elegantly styled for a holy man’s. And perhaps Camelot’s court made a collection of hawks, for the old man’s blue eyes pierced as sharply as any of Joyous Gard.

A Word on the Art: Central as they are to each other’s lives, it’s only fitting that I fashion a piece showing Arthur and Merlin together. Thanks, ‘Tudors Scene’, for enabling the endeavor! We’re off the Arthurian time period by a good 500 years, so definite liberties were taken with the wardrobe; but hey, no lightsabers, this time! Arthur looks too thin, and Merlin doesn’t look grumpy enough by half. Their relational dynamic, however, is coming across just about right.

<<<>>>

What think you, readers? Any favorites among the artworks presented here today? Any recommendations for free online character creators I might wanna play around with? Any super cool Arthuriana art out there that I should see so we can ooh and ahh together? Tell me about it in the comments!

The Umbrella Academy Book Tag (Deshipley Edition, Of Course)

Recent Past Me: “What to blog about, what to blog about, what to blog about…?”

Recent Past Me: *comes across this “Umbrella Academy Book Tag” post on paperfury.com*

R.P.M.: “Perfect.”

Thanks to my housemate living half with me, half on Tumblr, I actually heard about the new Netflix original series in time to hop on the bandwagon (normally I’m five to twenty years behind everything, so this is wild), and just finished watching the first (and, so far, only) season a few weeks ago.

Umbrella Academy Tag

To briefly express my opinions in “WHAMO!” fashion:

– Holy cow, this setup is nuts!

– WAIT, WHAT, SOMEBODY ELABORATE ON THE TENTACLES.

– Reginald Hargreeves is trash.

– Klaus is a Will Scarlet archetype.

– How is this time-traveling hit man so relateable??

– Diego is low-key a mama’s boy and a mom.

– Y’all need to sit down and Talk! To! Each! Other!

– This show is a thin veneer of “cool and funny” over an abyss of PAIN AND STRESS.

– Allyn-a-Dale will definitely be doing Vanya’s look in the last episode for Halloween, this year.

– Well, that had me hooked! Will not be needing Season 2 in my life, thank you, I’ve got enough anxiety as-is.

<<<>>>

Now then! Onto the tag, created by It’s My Birth Write on YouTube. As is my usual, I will be answering these book-themed questions ONLY with titles/characters from the Danielle E. Shipley oeuvre, because 1) these posts get written faster when I can focus in on a narrow category and 2) call it my reward for having self-published more books in the last six years than my burnt-out brain can keep an accurate count of.

1 = HELLO: Name the Best First Book in a Series

Cover w Text 06.3, frontSince two books totally counts as a series, let’s give this one to “Inspired”! It’s got a crazy high-concept premise (fictional folks wandering the line between real and imaginary as they search for a new author to house them / tell their stories). It’s got a distinctive cast of characters (each and every one very much themselves, despite having been deliberately fashioned out of other characters of mine). It’s got heart and angst and eloquent waxing on the majesty of art and its creation! Searches for self and belonging! Elements of mystery! The forging of friendships! Not to mention the Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A. “Inspired” didn’t demand its sequel – (Deshipley don’t do cliffhangers, yo) – but it hinted very politely that it would appreciate one, and “Out of My Head” and I were entirely happy to oblige. Wouldn’t cry boo to a third book, either, if I ever get around to writing one…

2 = THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: Name a Big Book Family (dysfunction is optional)

Wilderhark Calendar, October

You want a dysfunctional family? Look no further than the Sky. The Welkens of the Wilderhark Tales are a hot mess – literally, in the case of the sun king, Raeóryn; anti-literally, in the case of Aquinore, Wind of the North. There’s not one healthy sibling relationship in the bunch.

– Raeóryn puts down moon king Lumónd for being the “lesser” light

– Lumónd (and… basically everyone) disdains Raeóryn for being an arrogant dictator

– The brother winds bully their little sister Versparya (West Wind) for the comparative weakness of her breeze and the immutable strength of being their master’s favorite

– Pretty sure Euroval (East Wind) would be slightly less murderous if he didn’t idolize eldest brother Aquinore so

– Pretty sure Austeryn (South Wind) would sell any member of his family to the devil for a slice of cheesecake; and the winds don’t even eat

3 = THE WORLD ENDS IN 8 DAYS: If You Only Had Eight Days Left, Which Book Would You Choose to Be Your Last Read?

Story's End Cover, gallery size

Fortunately, eight days should be time enough to reread all of my books, since High Goodness knows I wouldn’t choose to spend my last week before the apocalypse toiling at my day job. But for my grand finale read, what could be more appropriate than Wilderhark Tales number seven, “The Story’s End”? In addition to worrying over the whispers of fate that warn the end is nigh, I could follow along one last time on the travels of minstrel marvel Gant-o’-the-Lute and his precious little apprentice, the future Allyn-a-Dale. The story would fill me with melancholy, but maybe also a spark of hope. After all, the end of the Wilderhark Tales was only the beginning of the Outlaws of Avalon. Could be that both Allyn and I are on the brink of an all-new adventure…

4 = SPACE BOY: Name a Character Who Plays the Leader, But May Not Be Cut Out For It

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

That’s probably how Arthur Pendragon would describe himself, the poor dear. The Once and Future King of my “Once and Future Camelot” hasn’t had much opportunity to flex his greatness during his afterlife in Avalon Faire, and it’s not doing healthy things for his confidence. But what’s left of his broken kingdom believes in him! As do I! Pendragon for President, 2020!

5 = THROWING KNIVES: What Literary Weapon Would You Want in Your Arsenal?

Song Caster Cover, full spread updateOoh, make mine the Flute Stone from Wilderhark four, “The Song Caster”! I mean, I’ll need to learn to actually play the flute before I’ll be able to wield its unlimited power. But my sister took lessons for years; I’m sure she could give me some pointers … provided I didn’t tell her she was paving the way toward my long-anticipated rise to Dark Lordliness.

6 = I HEARD A RUMOUR: Name a Book That Has a Misleading Plotline

Swan Prince Cover, full spread updateA misleading plotline? Hmm, that’s a toughie. I fancy myself a pretty straightforward taleteller, all told. Although…! I did try my hand at a novella-long misdirection in book one of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Swan Prince”. Obviously, I’m not going to spell it out here, since it’d be Spoiler City for any readers of this post who have yet to experience my little fairytale debut. (Y’all should read it, though. Might not be as polished, storytelling-wise, as my progressively-more-excellent later works, but a nice little audience rightfully fell in love with it anyway.)

7 = KLAUS: Name a Book That Involves the Dead / Ghosts / Etc.

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe dead, ghosts, etc.? Sound like a bite-sized description of my second-most-recent novel, “So Super Dead”! I mean, the whole plot basically boils down to: Ghost girl, wanting revenge on the undead guy who killed her, enlists the help of kid who can talk to dead people; numerous casualties occur. (Also, I want an AU in which Nicky sits down to give Klaus, if not the entire Hargreeves family, some much-needed, talk-it-out therapy.)

8 = THE BOY: Recommend a Book That Plays with Time (whether it be in dual timelines, involving time travel, etc.)

Legend cover 02, frontLookin’ right at you, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. To quote a reviewer:

Just an aside, if you’ve ever wondered how time travel can reasonably happen, read this. It somehow makes perfect sense. Especially coming from Merlin.

…Which just blew my mind and exploded my heart to read, because y’all don’t even know how much I struggle with time-twisting plotlines, and here’s some stranger saying I nailed it! *high fives, Merlin, medieval Sherwood, Excalibur, and any other magical entity that made this moment possible*

9 = VANYA: Name a Character Who Has Buried Potential

Sir Bedivere the One-Handed. That’s all I’ll say on the matter ‘til we’re closer to launch for “The Once and Future Camelot”. *zips lips*

10 = LUTHER AND ALLISON: Name a Questionable Book Couple, and Why You Do or Don’t Like Them

They may not be my most controversial couple – (that honor probably goes to Austeryn and his wife in “The Surrogate Sea”) – but let’s talk about Gant-o’-the-Lute and Viralei of Carillon (Wilderhark Tales, three through seven). Obviously, what they had is True Love, else the spellwork of a certain Anarchwitch wouldn’t have broken with a kiss. Even so, this minstrel/princess pair seems to argue that a love can be true, yet still be unhealthy. She loved him like a hero. He loved her like music. But I have to doubt that they ever really saw each other, “The Sun’s Rival”-style. Viralei never would have tried to keep Lute in a castle, otherwise. And Lute’s heart, bless and/or shake your fist at it, never really understood the first thing about caring for people in the way that’s best for them. So do I like these two as individuals? Sure. Am I grateful their union gave us Allyn? Absolutely. Do I think their marriage was wise? No, I do not.

11 = HAZEL AND CHA CHA: Pick a Deadly Book Duo

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Let’s just say if Molly Worth and the Kraken from “Deathsong of the Deep” ever decided to tackle a hit list together, it would be some DEATH TO BEHOLD.

12 = GOODBYE: What’s the Best Finale?

“The Once and Future Camelot” will be. Watch this space.

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Ta-da! Wanna be tagged? You’re it! Have you watched “The Umbrella Academy”? Share your thoughts in the comments! Based on my reactions to this show, is there anything else you think I should be watching on Netflix?