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.

CamelotQuotes_Lance_LowestofKnights

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…)

CamelotQuotes_Lance_King'sChampion

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.

CamelotQuotes_Lance_BestofKnights

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!

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!

“Reenactment” or “The First Avalon Faire Thanksgiving”

W.A.I.T. Button

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

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

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

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

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you a historical reenactment of the first Avalon Faire Thanksgiving!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a lone spotlight shining on Allyn-a-Dale, seated on a tall stool with a heavy, official-looking tome in his lap.]

Allyn: The year is nineteen-seventy-something-or-other…or roughly eight-hundred years earlier, depending on which side of the great divide you’re watching from – a divide by no means easy to cross. Many lives were lost on the pilgrimage from medieval Sherwood to the New World. Come to that, nobody made it over alive at all.

[A light goes up on Robin Hood, Marion, Little John, and Will Scarlet in front of a forest backdrop, all wearing tall, buckled pilgrim hats, and clutching at the arrows and/or swords jutting out of their bodies.]

Merry Men [in unison]: Unngh! [all fall down dead in a pool of fake blood]

[All light save Allyn’s goes black]

Allyn: Fortunately, their destination’s natives were possessed of powerful regenerative magic, and restored the pilgrims to life.

[The light returns, sparkling off of a glitter-covered cardboard castle cutout. The weaponry and blood has been removed from the Merry Men, who begin to stir and look around them in wonder.]

Little John: Oooh…

Marion: Aaah…

Will: So much wooonder…

Robin Hood: Where are we?

Merlin [stepping into the castle doorway]: Welcome to Avalon Faire.

[All light save Allyn’s goes black.]

Allyn: They’d come to a beautiful land of freedom and bounty.

Will [calling out from the dark]: Freedom?

Allyn: Well, less freedom than some would have liked. You see, the magic that kept the pilgrims alive also kept them bound to within a fairly strict perimeter. They could not leave the Faire.

Will[’s voice in the dark]: Boo!

Allyn: But there were other benefits. Television, for one.

[Light comes up on Will Scarlet lounging on a couch in front of the glitter castle, flipping imaginary channels with a prop remote control.]

Will: Say, wilt thou look upon all the neat stuff that people in the future doth get up to! What’s this? Advertisements and holiday specials all about…Thanksgiving? Hmm…

[All light save Allyn’s goes black.]

Allyn: Always eager for excuses to make merry, Will Scarlet coaxed the pilgrims to make like Americans and adopt Thanksgiving traditions of their own.

[Three spotlights appear in a row on the stage. The Merry Men chase each other through the first, tossing a football back and forth and tackling each other to the ground. …or trying and failing to, in the case of Will smashing ineffectually against the wall of Little John.]

Will: Oof!

[Spotlight #1 goes out and the Men enter #2, where lovely artificial snow tumbles down in flurries.]

Will: Game called on account of a SNOWBALL FIGHT! Get ready for payback, Little John!

Little John: [throws a snowball big as a man’s head in Will’s face]

Will: Oof!

[Spotlight #2 goes out and the Men enter #3, where a feast awaits on a beautifully laid-out table. Seated around the table, the Men clink glasses and pass dishes around and laugh at jokes that nobody made.]

Robin: Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Will: Hahahaha!

Little John: No, seriously.

Will: No, seriously, I ate all the pie.

Marion: Oof.

[All light save Allyn’s goes black.]

Allyn: And that’s how Thanksgiving first came to Avalon Faire, a day of gratitude for life reborn, for family by bond of friendship, and for a home where Robin Hood never again had to make the difficult choice between letting either Will Scarlet or England starve.

Will[’s voice in the dark]: Hilarious, Allyn.

Allyn [closing his book with a laughing-eyed smile]: The End.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘snowball fight’ and ‘pumpkin pie’.”

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

“Shylock-a-Dale” or “The Merchant of Sherwood”

W.A.I.T. Button

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

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

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

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

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Merchant of Sherwood’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a courtroom setup with a forest backdrop. Two tables sit opposite the pulpit serving as the judge’s bench. Seated at the first is Allyn-a-Dale, casting evil glances at the second, where Will Scarlet nervously wrings a handkerchief beside Marion Hood, who’s dressed in a sharp business suit and has stowed her hair away beneath a gentleman’s powdered wig. From his stance beside the bench, Little John speaks.]

Little John/Bailiff: All rise. Honorable Judge Robin Hood, presiding.

[Everyone stands as Robin enters the stage and takes his place behind the pulpit.]

Robin/Judge: Case number eleven-twenty-three, Shylock-a-Dale vs. Antonio Scarlet. What is your suit against the defendant, Shylock?

Allyn/Shylock: Your Honor, I lent the defendant a great sum of money, free of interest, with the understanding it was to be repaid as soon as his fleet of ships returned from their latest venture, or else. But most unfortunately… [fails to suppress a darkly-satisfied chuckle] …his entire fleet has been reported to have sunk in a tempest.

Will/Antonio: Foul! Foul, I say! He put Prospero up to it, I know he did! It wouldn’t be the first time Shylock snuck out of his own play to scheme with the characters from another! Him, Iago, Lady MacBeth, they’re all in on it!

Robin/Judge [with a thump of his gavel]: Order in the court. Pray continue, Shylock. What does your contract with Antonio stipulate in the event he cannot repay the loan?

Allyn/Shylock [grinning wickedly]: In lieu of the money, one pound of flesh.

Will/Antonio [panicking]: I thought he’d accept a bacon-wrapped sirloin! I never would have given my signature if I thought he wanted a chunk out of me!

Allyn/Shylock: Not just any chunk, Antonio. I will have your heart! And maybe a piece of your liver, if you’re still a few ounces shy.

Robin/Judge [frowning]: Why didn’t you have a lawyer look over the fine print for you, Antonio?

Will/Antonio [jerking a thumb toward Marion beside him]: I hadn’t hired her yet. …Him. I meant him. We totally don’t know she’s Portia in disguise.

Marion/Portia [rolling her eyes]: May I approach the bench, Your Honor?

Robin/Judge: Certainly, Counselor.

[Marion steps forward with a copy of the contract in hand.]

Marion/Portia: As you can see, Your Honor, it’s all perfectly clear and distressingly legal. With Antonio flat broke, Shylock is indeed entitled to his pound of flesh. …and only that. [Turns to Allyn in triumph.] If he can carve out a heart without causing any bleeding, fine. But nowhere does it state Shylock has a right to so much as a drop of Antonio’s blood.

Allyn/Shylock [outraged]: The blood is implied!

Robin/Judge: This court does not recognize vague implications as binding.

Allyn/Shylock: But he owes me!

Will/Antonio: I’m willing to renegotiate the terms. As of dinner last night, the offer of sirloin is no longer on the table, but hey, I can pay you in thrills! You ever see a guy juggle flaming knives before?

Little John/Bailiff: You can’t do that in here.

Will/Antonio: Sure I can! I’ve got a guy waiting offstage with flame retardants, just in case.

Robin/Judge: Will…

Will/Antonio: All right, it’s a bucket of soaking-wet socks, but I’m sure that would smother any tiny, incidental blazes just as well.

Robin/Judge [bringing down gavel]: Case dismissed. Trial adjourned. And tell your “guy” to get the laundry in a dryer before it starts to mildew.

Allyn/Shylock [snarling]: I’ll get your heart next time, Antonio Scarlet. Just see if I don’t!

Will/Antonio: If it’s the way to my heart you’re after… [a wink and a smile] …then the next round of bacon-wrapped steaks and ale is on you.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Tyler-Rose Counts,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Shakespeare while juggling flaming knives’ and ‘wet socks’.”

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

“Rivelled” or “A Fictional and Real Life Prize”

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! It’s also the day I announce the winner of my Three Wishes Blog Blitz raffle, so we’ll start with that! Hearty congratulations to… *drum roll* …

Emerald Barnes!

Ya-a-ay, Emerald! You’ve won a lovely little package of prizes related to my upcoming novella, “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)”, and those prizes are:

– A set of three signed “Stone Kingdom” bookmarks, as drawn by the lovely Yana Naumova.

– A print of side-by-side portraits of Princess Rosalba and Edgwyn Wyle, as drawn by me.

– And one automatic entry into the raffle which shall accompany the launch of “The Stone Kingdom” on September 20th – meaning you’ll be eligible to win even more awesome stuff, including a signed paperback copy of the book!

If you’d be so good as to contact me with the address to which you’d like your goodies sent (before next Saturday, please, or I’ll pick a new name to usurp your winnings), into the mail they shall go. (:

And now, on with Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, the “Outlaws of Avalon” trilogy (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, with this week’s vignette all pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t post it here for the blog-inclined to see!

So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day.

The theme: Maps.

The word: “Rivelled”, an adjective meaning “wrinkled”.

The Example:

Her brow creased fit to match the rivelled paper in her hands, Ellie’s gaze darted back and forth, from aforementioned paper to her surroundings and back again, all of it in vain. She was hopeless with maps. Not two minutes through the gates, and she’d already gotten herself lost.

“Your pardon, fair maiden,” a voice spoke from nearby. “Are you in need of directional assistance?”

“As a matter of fact, I—”

She ended in an abrupt squeak as she saw who stood before her – took in the bright blue eyes a compliment to garb of Lincoln green, the bow and quiver at his back, and a less underexposed version of the smile she’d had taped to her bedroom wall since her first visit here, last summer.

“Um, yes!” she forced herself to say, with or without the reliable cooperation of her stuttering heartbeat. “I, uh…” She held out her map. “Where are we?”

“We stand here, good lady,” he said (oh, that voice! That accent! British nothing, he sounded like ye olde heart of England! ), reaching to tap a finger near the paper’s lower right corner. “And whither do you wish to make your way? I find myself with some few minutes of leisure, and would gladly act as your guide, if you so desire.”

If she so desired?! Did the starving peasantry poach the King’s deer?!

“Here,” Ellie said, pointing without hesitation to the map’s upper left. She didn’t remember what was over there, and she didn’t care. She would follow Robin Hood to the very edge of the earth, if offered the chance; barring that, she’d walk with him to the far end of the Faire.

“Durance” or “A Small but Vital Announcement Re: the ‘Ballad’ Trilogy”

It’s Save-a-Word Saturday! For any who need a reminder of/never knew what that means, here’s how it goes:

Save-a-Word Saturday

1) Create a post linking back to the hosts, The Feather and the Rose.

2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)

3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.

4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.

5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!

I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, with this week’s vignette all pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t post it here for the blog-inclined to see!

Before I launch into today’s vignette, though, I have a SMALL BUT VITAL ANNOUNCEMENT to make (as indicated in the post’s subtitle). Hitherto, I have been referring to “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” and its sequels, collectively, as my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale Trilogy” – or, less officially, “the ‘Ballad’ books”. All well and good but, as Will Scarlet pointed out in a guest post, it doesn’t make for the best trilogy title, since only the first book of the three has “ballad” in the name, whereas all three contain “Allyn-a-Dale”. But to simply call it the “Allyn-a-Dale Trilogy” never sat right with me. I mean, what does that tell people who know nothing of Robin Hood’s legendary minstrel? Not nearly enough, that’s what.

So what’s an author to do? What else but have one of those out-of-nowhere “EUREKA” moments while lying in bed! Without even really looking for it, I have tripped across the very name for the trilogy as a whole, and that name is … *pregnant pause for a drum roll* …

The “Outlaws of Avalon” Trilogy.

Will loves the title because it actually includes him. Reader Me loves it because she sees the words “outlaws” and “Avalon” in the same title and starts drooling like Pavlov’s dog. And Wordsmith Me loves it because it encompasses so much more of the overarching story than even a name as lovely as Allyn’s can do. So that’s what I’ll be calling the trilogy from here on in. And I may or may not get around to changing the name of the “Ballad” page, depending on how much trouble it takes to do so. (If not, no worries; the page name still fits Book 1 of the threesome.)

That is all. And now, onto my word-saving civic duty of the day.

The theme: Dungeons.

The word: “Durance”, a noun meaning “incarceration or imprisonment”.

The Example:

He found him lying back on the low stone shelf that served as the cell’s bed, cheerfully whistling at the ceiling. Robin shook his head. Leave it to Will to treat his durance in the castle’s dungeon as no more than part of a game.

Will’s gaze zipped to the door when he heard the key turn in the lock. “Oh, my hero!” he cried, jumping up to his feet. “How long have we got before the guards come running? Should we try to get away clean, or knock them out and use their gear for disguises?”

Robin rolled his eyes. “Nobody’s coming after us, Will. I’ve smoothed things over with Merlin and you’re free to go, so long as you’re never, ever found surfing the corridors with his desk chair again. What I’d like to know is why you thought you could get away with it in the first place! He warned you after this morning’s tomfoolery that your next instance of misbehavior would land you in lockup!”

“Sure, I know. Just as I knew you’d be down here to break me out, like you do.”

Robin’s mouth had to fight to keep from slipping toward a grin to match his too-charismatic-for-anybody’s-good cousin’s. “You do realize you’re not actually living in a Robin Hood adventure story, right?”

“Of course I’m not.” Will clapped Robin on the shoulder as he slipped past him through the door. “It’s a Will Scarlet adventure story, with frequent cameo appearances by that other guy with the bow and arrows. Thanks for the jailbreak, we’ll do coffee later, bye!”