Coming Soon: A Second Helping of Shorts

Once upon a time, a certain author received notice that – because publishing is a weird, uncertain animal – all of her short stories released through various Xchyler Publishing anthologies were on the verge of going out of print, and all the rights reverted to her.

As it happened, only half of the prophecy came true. A few days of negotiations among the anthology contributors prevented the removal of the endangered titles from Amazon. Even so (because, like I said: Weird, uncertain animal), her stories’ rights were our author heroine’s, to do with as she wished.

Xchyler Antho Lineup 3

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

And what I wish is to reprint all four of my short stories first published with Xcyhler – urban legend-esque “Two Spoons” (“Legends and Lore”), fantastically bromantic “Reality As We Know It”  (“The Toll of Another Bell”), eccentric fairy tale “A Mind Prone to Wander” (“Steel & Bone”), and deadly “Date Due” (“Beyond the Wail”) – in a brand new, exclusively Danielle E. Shipley-authored collection.

So that’s what’s gonna happen!

As I type, I have an artist working on the cover I’ve envisioned – no other than the talent behind the faces of “Outlaws of Avalon” 1.5 and 2.5, the charming Hannah Vale. I dug my stories’ files out of the crowded archive that is my authorial past, and have begun organizing them for their new format. And wow, actually looking back at the stuff I wrote up to 4 years ago is weird.

Specifically, it’s weird when the old work’s a short story. With novels and novellas, I have clear memories of writing them. I’ll come to a passage and recall, oh yeah, I was sitting in that spot when I typed it … or I’d been working that job when I scribbled down that plot idea … or that character put up a fuss when I almost said [blah-blah-blah] instead of [yadda-yadda]… The fact that those works were longer made them, by necessity, more of a journey; a struggle; an author-and-muses collaboration. Whereas my Xchyler short stories all pretty much happened like this:

Xchyler anthology contest: “Here, have a general writing prompt.”

Me: “I don’t know if I—”

Me a few minutes/hours/days later: “Never mind, I know. From first line to end, I know.”

Me, over the course of 3 to 10 days: *copies down the fully formed tale onto the laptop*

It’s all over so surreally quick, I barely feel like I’m part of the process. So maybe putting these stories out a second time, all by myself, will be a good bonding experience. Maybe by the end of the project, my heart will better know these four fun-size word babies as my own.

If nothing else, it’ll be something to help tide us all over while we wait for the debut of “So Super Dead” in the fall!

So, stay tuned for the reveal of the collection’s title, cover, and blurb. In the meantime, if YOUR brains have managed better than my defective model to hold onto any interesting memories of short stories, written and/or read by you, feel free to chat about ‘em in the comments!

Book Spine Poetry Prophecy

Word on the ‘Net is April’s been National Poetry Month – i.e., the perfect excuse to finally get around to posting this book spine poem I composed back in February, inspired as I was by the Alexa Loves Books-hosted 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon.

Some of you may recall the last time I shared such a poem (during the 2014 Love-a-Thon, as it happens.) Proud as I was of that piece of art, I do believe I like this one even better. Probably because it strikes me as sounding like some epic, ancient prophecy. Complete with rhymes. ^o^

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Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 1

One more day on the Isle of Sound and Wonder inspired the Seventh Spell:

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 2

Transparent ink. The violet hour. The toll of another bell.

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 3

The Song Caster unhinged the door in the mountain; splintered the spirit war.

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 4

Vicious, marvelous spirit’s end – mistborn legends and lore.

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This lyrical omen brought to you by…

One More Day by L.S. Murphy and others (including yours truly) – available here

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer – my review here

Inspired by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

The Seventh Spell (Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales) by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

Transparent by Natalie Whipple – my review here

Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun – found here on Goodreads

The Violet Hour (The Violet Hour #1) by Whitney A. Miller – found here on Goodreads

The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology by yours truly and others – available here

The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales) by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard – my review here

The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet – my review here

Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard – my review here

The Spirit War (Eli Monpress #4) by Rachel Aaron – my review here

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – my review here

Marvelous (The Books of Marvella #1) by Travis Thrasher – found here on Goodreads

Spirit’s End (Eli Monpress #5) by Rachel Aaron – my review here

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – found here on Goodreads

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions by yours truly and others – available here

Got any cool book spine poems of your own – oracular or otherwise? I do hope you’ll share!

Real World Problems (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

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

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

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

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

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Our guest’s roommate describes him thus:

Singer… well, he’s been through a lot, over the last year or so, and it’s left him with a lot of emotional damage. The sweet, openhearted little boy he used to be isn’t as easily seen, anymore. …if he’s still somewhere in there at all. I’ve got to hope he is.

“Welcome, Singer!” Will greets the young man now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how in the world are you so freaking pretty??”

Singer’s chin tips to a scornful angle. “It’s nothing to do with your world at all – not your proper world, though perhaps a bit like this in-between place where you host your show. People in the Abréal can look any way they wish at any given time, so appearance doesn’t count for much.”

“No, I’d imagine not.”

“That’s just it: Imagination. The Abréal is essentially ruled by it. People in the Réalis – the real world, you know – like to say such things as, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it,’ but for them, it’s not true. For us, it is. …or ‘was’, for me and Row.” Singer’s full lips turn down into a petulant frown. “Now we’re stuck in the real world with the rest of the ineffective dreamers.”

“About you and Row,” says Will. “I’m told the two of you are something called a ‘kindred pair’. What is that, exactly? Like a couple, or…?”

“A romantic couple?” Singer scoffs. “Nothing of the kind. It’s more of a spirit-level symbiosis. We need each other. Supposedly.” He scowls, gaze slanting away beneath his long lashes. “I don’t suppose there’s much good either of us can do the other, now.”

“No?” says Will, his manner all of concern and of listening. “Why not?”

The colors in Singer’s face abruptly shift – already fair skin gone whiter, save for the angry red high in his cheeks, eyes snapping bright. “What is this, a talk show or a therapy session? Never mind why. Ask something else.”

Will waves a hand of resignation. “Fine. How’s merry old England? It’s literal ages since I’ve been.”

“Well, I haven’t made it all the way out to Nottinghamshire, but London’s not so entirely dreadful, just… inflexible. You wouldn’t believe the trouble it is just to make breakfast! Got to actually walk into the kitchen, physically pull out the food which you’ll need to have gone out and bought, and take time to fix it into something edible, only to realize you can’t conjure any tableware out of the air!”

“Bloody hell,” Will observes.

“It is, too. But Row insists we’ll manage. And really, we haven’t any other choice.”

“There is one choice left before you: The infamous final question! Will you tell our mutual author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He smiles winsomely. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

For the first time, something smile-like lurks behind Singer’s eyes and mouth. “I don’t think Danielle would be terribly mortified were I to share the secret behind my story.” Definitely smiling now, he looks slyly beyond the host. “But Allyn might be.”

The dismay in Allyn’s off-camera voice is evident. “You’re going to tell everyone that?”

“It’s that or kiss Will,” Singer says flippantly. “And one or the other of us might enjoy that too much. I’d rather drop this little fact: I, Heartsinger of the Abréal, am essentially an alternate reality version of Allyn-a-Dale.”

“Several layers of reality removed,” Allyn is quick to emphasize.

“Yes, I know.” Singer slumps deeper into his chair. “You’re the likeable one.”

Will leans across to pat Singer’s hand. “Likeable characters are overrated. Say, Original Allyn – how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, happy for the subject change, “was brought to you by Danielle E. Shipley’s ‘Reality As We Know It’, a short story included in the ‘Toll of Another Bell’ fantasy anthology (officially launching tomorrow, available for preorder now, online Release Party tomorrow at 6pm Central).

The Toll of Another Bell

In a realm of infinite possibility, impossibility, and immortality, a broken boy begs to die.

Devoted childhood companion to the shattered Singer, Row will do anything to resurrect his friend’s will to live, including join him in exile in real-world London, where if the grueling battle against unemployment doesn’t kill you, the dodgy neighbor in the upstairs flat just might.

But as Singer’s grief festers and eviction looms, even irrepressible Row begins to doubt whether single-minded determination is enough to make ends – and two hurting hearts – meet.

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

A Book’s First Breath

If you’ve read my latest Wilderhark Tale (or snuck a preview of the next installment in the series), you know I love me some fantastic elementals. For that reason, the opening story in upcoming fantasy anthology “The Toll of Another Bell” struck a particular chord with me.

For my stop on the “Toll” blog tour, I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with that story’s creator. Give it up, readers all, for Jodi L. Milner, author of “Breath”!

Toll_Webkit_TheNovel

Me: Regale us with the tale of your decision to submit to Xchyler Pub’s fantasy anthology. Did you have the idea for “Breath” in mind beforehand, or did you craft it especially for the contest’s theme: “Out of This World… True Story”?

Jodi: “Breath” was one of those stories that flowed out of the ether back in 2013. I had to write it down but then didn’t know what to do with it. When I saw Xchyler’s call for entries for their fantasy line I felt it was worth a try, and I’m super glad I did. Being part of the X team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing career.

Me: Which of your story’s characters is your favorite? …shows up most clearly in your head? …was easiest/most difficult to write?

Jodi: Wow, this is tricky. Each of my characters represents one of the world’s creative elements, earth, wind, water, fire, and life. If forced to pick, I’d say my favorite of the bunch is Terran, the earth guardian. He’s the strong silent type, and I find those very appealing. The most fun to write were the twins, Ventus and Aquata, the air and water guardians. Fauna, the main character was the hardest to write because I felt enormous pressure to make her emotional responses feel authentic.

Me: Your own contribution aside, which of the stories from “The Toll of Another Bell” did you most enjoy reading?

Jodi: Again, that’s tough. Each story is so very different that it would be unfair to select a favorite. In this anthology you can find everything from whimsy to horror, and so many different facets in between. The writing is excellent (if I’m allowed to judge) and reading through its pages is a journey that will not soon be forgotten.

Me: Is “Breath” your debut published work?

Jodi: Yes, “Breath” is my first baby to grow wings and take flight and it has been so thrilling that I can’t wait to publish again.

Me: Whilst creeping on one of your blogs, I saw you’ve got a trilogy planned – the Stonebearer Series. What can you tell us about that? ^^

Jodi Milner 200x274

Jodi: I think most authors have that one project in the background that they always keep working at with hopes that one day their talent will grow to match the ambition and scope required to do it justice. The Stonebearer Series is mine.  It is my first serious attempt at writing an epic fantasy novel series and hopefully one day I’ll feel it’s ready to be published as well.  The story itself is wrapped around a world where a secret society of immortal magic users is challenged by a demon who threatens to push it into extinction.

Author Bio:

Jodi Milner lives among the most epic vistas of the Rocky Mountains in Utah and uses them for inspiration when writing fantasy. When not shepherding her children, she dreams of magic and getting a good night’s sleep. She’s published fiction and poetry in the online literary magazine Soft Whispers.

Website | Blog | Facebook Twitter Google + | Goodreads |LinkedIn Pinterest

Jodi L. Milner, one talent of many (including yours truly) featured in “The Toll of Another Bell”!

For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic!
^ For my thoughts on the full anthology, click the pic! ^

Toll_Webkit_Available

The book is currently up for preorder! There’s a tour-wide giveaway happening here and now, and the anthology’s Release Party is this Saturday; I hope to see you all there for the fun and games!

A Review Miraculously Free of Bell Puns

Be proud of me. I thought of two such puns without hardly trying. But seriously, folks…

The Book: “The Toll of Another Bell”, edited by McKenna Gardner.

Genre: Fantasy short story anthology.

Blurb: A collection of out-of-this-world short stories that ring true in mortal hearts.

The Toll of Another Bell

“Breath” by Jodi L. Milner: The Guardian of Souls realizes her life is incomplete and sacrifices everything to find what’s missing.

“Awareness” by Timothy Vincent: To achieve the status of Magi, Jyn must pass his father’s ultimate test.

“Phoenix” by Elise Stephens: Orion loses his wife on their wedding day and uses dark magic to seek her in the afterlife.

“Life Under Research Conditions” by Thaxson Patterson II: Can a bioweapon possess a soul and make choices to save humanity?

“The Year of No Foals” by Scott E. Tarbet: A miraculous colt and a mysterious old man bring healing to a family ripped apart by tragedy.

“Naoki No Yokai” by F.M. Longo: Yokai have overrun a local village, and it’s up to Saga Naoki to discover the reason why.

“Jilted River” by Ginger Mann: An Appalachian fairy tale attracts visitors to a state park, but then they start to disappear.

“Tower Gods” by J.R. Potter: A thirteen-year-old boy with an oxygen mask befits the role of hero in Watcher Benson’s eyes.

“Reality As We Know It” by Danielle E. Shipley: Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“60 Seconds to Midnight” by TC Phillips: Fleeing an ancient evil, a young woman from amongst the stars finds unlikely refuge on Earth.

My Thoughts: As one would hope of a fantasy-themed collection, “Toll” displays a vast diversity of imagination. But more than only stories to tickle your flights of fancy, these are, on the whole, stories to make you feel. Stories where the pain of what’s lost is but one turn away from the finding of something more.

Some highlights for me as a reader included Jodi L. Milner’s elemental myth “Breath”; the humor winking from F.M. Longo’s tale of spies and samurai, “Naoki no Yokai”; and “Phoenix”, Elise Stephens’ modern retelling of the Orpheus/Eurydice tragedy, the prose holding my heart like a melancholy song. There’s more powerful music to be discovered when a family goes up against a siren in Ginger Mann’s “Jilted River”, and a meticulous balance of fatal magic awaits in Timothy Vincent’s “Awareness”. Readers whose tastes lean in a more Sci-Fi direction may find particular enjoyment in Thaxson Patterson II’s out-of-this-world creations in “Life Under Research Conditions”, or young Kip’s larger-than-life summer adventure in J.R. Potter’s “Tower Gods”.

If I had to choose a favorite story from the collection (excluding the title attached to my own name, of course), I think that honor would go to “The Year of No Foals” by Scott E. Tarbet, a homey, futuristic yarn that reads like it could have happened yesterday or a generation ago. The blend of ordinary and extraordinary is magic and left me smiling. And I strongly advise that all comers stick around for the book’s world-hopping, mind-bending, heart-pounding adventure of a finale, “60 Seconds to Midnight” … though maybe not right before bedtime, lest TC Phillips’ horrific Daimons hunt you down in your dreams.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Xchyler Publishing delivers another worthy anthology in “The Toll of Another Bell”. Yeah, you should read it! Preorder the Kindle e-book now, and it will deliver to you just as soon as it launches. January 31st, y’all! – same day as the online Release Party. Be there and play for free stuff! Anyone who had a chance to make it out for the Xchyler release party for “Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions”* knows it’ll be a good time. (:

*Speaking of “Legends and Lore”: Read it? Loved it (or didn’t)? Don’t let Amazon’s customers miss out on your thoughts – share them in a review! All its authors will thank you. ^_^

An Introductory Chime

Only two-and-a-half weeks to go until the official release of Xcyhler Publishing’s new fantasy anthology, “The Toll of Another Bell”! (Which is available for preordering, by the way!) High time for a sneak peek at my story therein, I say. So here, to tease and tantalize, is the opening scene from “Reality as We Know It”.

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Chapter heading by D. Robert Pease, the talent behind the cover/interior design of “The Toll of Another Bell”.
Chapter heading by D. Robert Pease, the talent behind the cover/interior design of “The Toll of Another Bell”.

My Singer has asked to die again.

I heard it with my own ears, though of course he didn’t come to me. He never does, anymore, and it’s no use going to him. He doesn’t want anything I have to give. And so he goes to the judges.

I watch from a distance, my inner vision blurring my immediate surroundings while the image I desire comes into focus. As ever, my sight is set on Singer, seeking to see as he sees. He sits on his heels before the three judges in their room of shifting walls, dark and defiant, daring them to refuse. I pray they will, and fear they won’t. Though elected by the various peoples of the Abréal to maintain some sense of order within it, they are as susceptible as any of us to quirks of chaos.

Judge Ffionn’s shining eyes regard the small, slender supplicant from above. The massive fox towers over everyone else, even though his pillow seat rests no higher than theirs. In measured tones, he says, “We have already granted you death, Heartsinger. Death once a day—random time, random cause, life restored at midnight. Why is that not enough for you?”

“I’ve told you.” Far away, I cringe at my Singer’s voice, harsh and beautiful as a winter wasteland. “I want to see her now.”

Beside the great fox, Judge Rowan’s rapid blinking is not enough to prevent his tears’ escape. They trickle in rivulets from the corners of his flame-blue eyes, down the handsome planes of the face we almost share. As a rare duplicate pair—both of us one and the same person, me made in his image and brought into this world at a different life stage—there’s a lot we share more absolutely. Our root name, Rowan Charles. Our genetic makeup. Our inevitable love for our Singers. “And if we let you decide when you go,” he says wretchedly, “if you return to life at the stroke of twelve only to snap your fingers and die again at twelve-oh-one, how is that any different than permanent death?”

Singer does not meet his gaze. “I might choose to live here, sometimes.”

“Might you?” says Judge Ffionn, his drawl heavy with skepticism.

In his lap, Singer’s hands curl tight into fists. The cascade of black hair down the back of his elegant frock coat shifts in a breeze of his bottled emotions’ making. “I might.” His gaze snaps up. “If there were anything here worth living for.”

I double over with a whimper of pain. Singer, my Heartsinger, you don’t mean that, you can’t. Or perhaps my old Heartsinger couldn’t have meant it. There’s no telling with this new creature. Since death first came to the Abréal a year ago, I’ve known less and less who this Heartsinger is.

While I curl in on myself, Judge Ffionn’s snarl rips through the air. “Careless words! It was words such as those that ended your mother, boy. Would you allow yourself to become like her killer?”

Singer recoils as if slapped by Ffionn’s mighty paw.

“Leave him alone,” Judge Rowan moans, dropping his face into his hands. “For pity’s sake, leave him alone.”

Ffionn jabs his claws toward the young man before them. “The pup’s got more than enough self-pity. He needs none of mine.”

“Can you wholly blame him?” Rowan demands. “We conjured the boy to give him a good life; one better than the first Singer ever had. This world gave him a mother’s love, then it ripped her away! Is it to be wondered he’s come to hate living here?”

“This,” Singer hisses through gritted teeth, “isn’t living.”

“No,” the third judge says quietly. “No, it’s not. And perhaps that’s your trouble.”

Judges Ffionn and Rowan’s gazes, Heartsinger’s, and mine fix on the inscrutable eyes of Judge Soothsinger. The first Singer. Judge Rowan’s Singer. A Singer so near and so far from what mine has become.

The judge with the face and voice of an angel addresses his younger duplicate. “How many forms have you adopted this last year?”

My Singer’s shoulders move in a petulant shrug. “A girl. A goat. A grownup. A griffin. I’ve lost count.”

I remember each phase as if it were last week—which one of them may well have been. Hard to tell for sure. Time doesn’t mean a lot here. It’s marked out less in minutes and hours, days and years, than in changes. And Heartsinger’s changed more than most. From an adolescent boy to a girl, in the days when he loved me enough to think he might like to be my wife, once we were older. From a girl to a goat-legged faun, with me flitting about in the form of a fairy companion while he frolicked in the fields. From a faun to a grownup, in an exasperated attempt to be seen by the judges as more than a child, and me gamely aging up to twenty-one with him. From there to a griffin, in response to his craving for flight, and for death. Back when the blood of conjured prey was enough. Before he begged permission to spill his own.

“And why have you settled on none of these forms, or on any other?” Soothsinger asks.

The Toll of Another Bell

My Singer—male, human, and aged down to eighteen years old, for now—shrugs again, frowning fiercely to hold hopeless tears at bay. “Nothing sticks.”

Soothsinger nods with an enigmatic hum. Absently, his pale fingers strum the air like strings, pulling music from nothing. The sound looks like snow at sunrise, and smells like distant stars. “The Abréal,” he says, “is a world of infinite possibilities, and impossibilities. We create our environment. We create ourselves. We construct and deconstruct; build and rebuild; watch Rome rise and fall, all in a day. In asking for death, you ask for permanence—one of the very few things outside this world’s power to give.”

Ffionn asks his fellow judge, “Have you a solution to offer?”

“Yes,” says Soothsinger, stilling his fingers. “I propose we send him to the Réalis. With Row. Permanently.”

Judge Rowan chokes on his breath. “To the real world?”

I gasp. “With me?”

Quick as thinking, since a thought’s all it takes to traverse space here, I appear before the judges, still keeping a respectful distance from Heartsinger, who gapes at his duplicate.

As do we all, he knows of the Réalis—the world alongside our own. We are that world’s dreams, they are this world’s stories. And some of us, I’m told, exist in both places at once, having been born there only to be conjured here at the judges’ whim.

We call the world real—not because it is any truer than ours, for it’s not, but because it is fixed, its base rules inflexible, unaffected by the merest wish of its inhabitants. Heartsinger rasps, “Why would anyone want to go there?”

Judge Soothsinger answers, “To live.”

“That,” Judge Ffionn says thoughtfully, “is not such a bad idea.”

“Consequences,” Judge Rowan muses. “Actions that matter. The constraints of a world of immovable fact.” His eyes light up with swiftly building energy. “Do you know, that might actually be just what he needs!”

“It’s madness,” Heartsinger whispers, terror in his eyes.

“I love madness!” I cheer, my own eyes a mirror of my older self’s. “Come on, Singer, think of it! We’ll have our own place, just you and me! And we’ll have to get jobs, so we can have money, so we can pay for things, ‘cause this”—I conjure a mug of tea in my hand—“doesn’t happen out there! It will be an adventure!”

And he’ll see. Once the poor dear’s lost everything but me, he’ll see I’m enough, just as he’s always been enough for me. That’s what Singers and Rowans are to each other: a kindred pair. It’s why the judges conjured me, back when Heartsinger and I were both small. In his grief over his mother, my Singer has forgotten. But maybe a new life in a new world will remind him.

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To be continued upon the launch of “The Toll of Another Bell”, coming in with a bang-up Release Party on Saturday, January 31st!

Your thoughts on the story so far, readers mine? ^^

Out with the Old, In with What’s Next

So long, old year! Helloooooo, 2015! And how better to ring in the New Year than with Ever On Word’s official reveal of the cover of my next publication? Those of you who bump elbows with me on Facebook and Twitter may have seen this already, but it’s still just as purty the second (or, if you’ve been staring at it like I have, the umpteenth) time around!

The Toll of Another Bell

The Toll of Another Bell (now on Goodreads! Add away!), a Xchyler Publishing fantasy anthology including my own short story, “Reality As We Know It”!

A voice from the back calls out, “What’s your story about, Danielle?”

Well might you ask, anonymous person who is not Will Scarlet at all.

In a realm of infinite possibility, impossibility, and immortality, a broken boy begs to die.

Devoted childhood companion to the shattered Singer, Row will do anything to resurrect his friend’s will to live, including join him in exile in real-world London, where if the grueling battle against unemployment doesn’t kill you, the dodgy neighbor in the upstairs flat just might.

But as Singer’s grief festers and eviction looms, even irrepressible Row begins to doubt whether single-minded determination is enough to make ends – and two hurting hearts – meet.

This story and more are coming for ya on January 31st, along with the book’s Release Party! More on that as the date nears.

Now, then – in other headlines…

What’s New for Ever On Word?

For the last good while, I’ve been largely sticking to a three-day blogging schedule, with posts of various sorts on Mondays and Thursdays (book reviews, blog tour stops, snippets of fiction, miscellaneous chatter…), and Will Scarlet shenanigans on Saturdays. That’s been going all very well for me, but with all the other writing / rewriting / editing / publishing I continue to heap upon my plate, I’m ready to ease up on myself just a tad.

So from here on into the indefinite future, I’m cutting back to two regular posts a week – Scarlet’s stuff on Fridays (starting a week from tomorrow), and whatever else I wanna on any other weekday selected at my discretion. It’s a new year, baby. I’m gonna try this “flexibility” thing the kids keep talking about; see how it affects my quality of life.

Other resolutions of sorts for the year to come include:

My nocturnal experiment

– Get the remaining Wilderhark Tales (Books 6, short story collection 6.5, and 7) out into the world

– Figure out the steps required to run away to Germany to become a butler*

(*If you think I’m joking, think again.)

– Rewrite an old novel of mine into publishable shape

– Remember the encouragement that bolstered my poor little authorial heart upon reading this and this – each of them pieces worthy of “HYSRT! (Hey, You Should Read This!)” posts in their own right, but if I don’t stick them in here now, I may never get around to sharing them, so let’s seize the moment

– Continue seeking the balance between pushing myself and abstaining from self-cruelty

– Don’t lose the internal good I gained over the long, hard slog of 2014

*turns mic out toward the audience* What’s next for all of you? ^^