“Ballad” Blackout Poetry

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And like my last post, this one features poetry, but of a different kind. Inspired, in large part, by the preferred art form of Victor Vale in V.E. Schwab’s genius anti-superhero novel, “Vicious”, these are blackout poems, or found poems – created by taking a page of text, selecting the words you wish to standout as an idea on their own, and blacking out the rest. A challenging but sometimes relaxing endeavor, I’ve found.

Below are a handful of such poems that presented themselves to me within snippets of “Ballad”. And because I’m of the opinion that most poems work best when not over-explained, I’m not going to tell you anything else about them, apart from their given titles. Poems’ text repeated below the pics, in case the images don’t show up for you. Enjoy!


For Lumónd

For Lumond

Circle of the dark

Subtle gold light

(How are you real?)



See the way

I see you


What We Were

What We Were

We were

Good – stunning – altruistic –

Hard – secret – not so secret –

Grim – dear – something approaching horror

Which were you?


Best Friendship

Best Friendship

Intimate friends

Which is to say,

Excessive fondness

Obvious dislike

Presence not very much minded

Difficult need

Laugh, elated

Something in some way extraordinary


Feel the Music

Feel the Music

Feel the music

Play a dance

Fly with abandon.

I will


For a Lover

For a Lover

A look (Take me)

An urgency known by heart in the heavy night (Bless the dark)

…And well into the next


Voila! Those who’ve read “Ballad”, can you tell from where in the book I found the poems? Whether you’ve read “Ballad” or not, what’d you think of the poems? Do you have a favorite? If so, which and why? (Bear in mind, a blog comment is one of many ways you can enter my Rafflecopter giveaway, perchance to win cool prizes. *wiggles brows*) And to you who haven’t read “Ballad” because you’ve yet to order your copy, now’s the time to change that! It’s yours for the taking via Amazon, CreateSpace, SmashwordsBarnes & Noble, KoboOverDrive… Have at ye!


Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.


*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

Which of each of the Merry Men’s quotes from “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” most fully captures the essence of their respective characters?

Robin Hood: “Bureaucracy. 😛 ”

Will Scarlet: “What’d I just vote for? Wasn’t listening for the first bit, but heard something about ‘Will Scarlet,’ so…”

Little John: “Hmm.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “Well. This discussion has been all very dispiriting, I must say, but I do regretfully conclude that it has no bearing whatsoever on what I have little choice but to do.”

Marion Hood: …

Will: Marion doesn’t seem to say a lot of quintessential-Marion things.

Marion: I’m trying to move the plot along. Y’all wanna sit around and soliloquize, and I’m over here like, We’re gonna die.

Between Heartbreak and Hope

The other day, I came across this series of tweets from author @veschwab.


For any of you unable to view the screenshots, it reads as follows:

3 years ago, THE ARCHIVED hit shelves.

2 years ago, my first publisher discontinued the series.

2 years ago, my career could have stalled.

2 years ago, I decided to keep going.

2 years ago, I decided to write through it.

By the time THE UNBOUND hit shelves, I’d been told it was over. Told the series wouldn’t finish. Told it was my fault.

And now we’re here together, lovelies. 16 books under contract. 9 on shelves. 7 earning royalties. Thank you for believing in me.

This is Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, guys. The author I discovered when the world could not shut up about her novel of superheroes sans heroes. The author who had me jumping out of bed and running to the door to see if the mailman brought my story of multiple Londons. The one who kept me up at all hours, engrossed in a tale of grief and guyliner. Pretty much the most popular / beloved / raved about author I follow on Twitter.

And this is her backstory.

Vicious Cards, All
To say nothing of my giddy state when these trading cards arrived in the mail.

Reading that was like a left hook to my emotions. I sat there, not quite in tears, my spirit spinning somewhere between heartbreak and hope.

This author life is hard. Not just the writing part, which is its own special breed of struggle, but what comes after:

The constant fight to be read.

To be reviewed.

To be seen at all in this cold and noisy world.

To make a living off of all your exhausting work.

To make any sales, period.

Anyone who tells you, “If you just write a good book, it will sell”? I’d love to live in the reality where that’s true, but tell you what: It ain’t here.

Victoria knows this. Victoria was dealt a blow that could have flattened her – or me – or any of us in such a devastating situation. But she didn’t let the hurt stop her. And look at her now.

Y’know what that says to me? Maybe this isn’t forever. Maybe this blue period I’m slogging through … these on-and-off feelings of anonymity and discouragement, anxiety and fear … maybe this is my “2 years ago”. Maybe I’m still waiting on my “Vicious” to explode and put me front and center on the reading community’s radar. Maybe my “A Darker Shade of Magic” is still out there, poised to become all the buzz.

If I just keep going.

If I just write through it.

We the-“E”-stands-for-“Elizabeth” fantasy authors can be tough to kill.

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^


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.


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!

Top 10 Book(s that I own) Covers I’d Totally Put On My Wall

So I saw this post by The Book Rat that was all like “Top 10 Book Covers I’d Have as Wall Art”, and I was all, aw, man, how fun is that? I wanna do a post like that, too!

And me being the can-do, go-get-‘er-done gal that I am, I began that very hour to scour my shelves* for my picks.

*(Mind you, there’s no law that said I had to limit myself to books I own. I just figured I’d save myself a lot of dithering if I gave myself a solid guideline.)

Behold, therefore, in no particular order, precisely what this post’s title implies: The Top 10 Book(s that I own) Covers I’d Totally Put On My Wall!

1) “The Legend of Eli Monpress” by Rachel Aaron

eli type mockup

Okay, this one’s first for a reason. I fell hard for this cover from the moment I saw it, and I’m still smitten. Between the soft color scheme and the gorgeous rascal popping out of it, I cannot but swoon.

2) “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

‘Cause it’s all coolly villainous, much like the story inside. (My recent review here, for those who’d like a recap.)

3) “The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley

Outlaws of Sherwood

In part because it’s associated with a book/legend I love. Also, archer in the beautifully-painted woods!

4) “Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever” by James Patterson

School's Out Forever

Though, in my opinion, the series took a sharp downward turn following this second book in it, I’ll not let that disappointment sour me on what a cool poster this cover would make.

5) “Stone of Tears” by Terry Goodkind

Stone of Tears

Also on the list of Book 2s with epic cover art, notwithstanding the internal face I make every time I think about the series it belongs to. (It’s not you, Richard; it’s your author’s handling of your story.)

6) “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle

Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Yeah, so what if I already included a Robin Hood book? NO APOLOGIES.

7) “Wildwood Dancing” by Juliet Marillier

Wildwood Dancing

Because the woods don’t need Robin hood to make me happy. A fairytale forest works, too. (Wowza, there’s so much going on in this picture!)

8) “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Peter and the Starcatchers

Because who says fairytales need to be restricted to the forest? Let’s take it to the skies! To the high seas! To by-gosh Neverland! That, and I really like the style/colors/composition this cover’s got going on.

9) Classic Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew covers

Going through the fifty-six covers in my classic Nancy Drew collection, I found I couldn’t decide on just one. What would be awesome is if there were a gigantic poster that featured them all, lined up together in rows. I’d love that!

10) “Rose Under Fire” by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire

I think it’s the gate. Together with the flutter of red and the airplanes in the sky overhead, it just all-around pleases me as an art piece.

Aaand there you have it, folks – my top ten, give or take fifty-six. Time shall tell whether they ever go up on my wall to join the likes of my sketch of Will Scarlet and Edgwyn Wyle clothes shopping and somebody’s awesome photo manip of Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson as LOTR’s Aragorn.

What say you guys? What would be some of your picks for book cover wall art? ^^

No Good Men, But a Darn Good Book

Every now and then, there’s this book that it seems like absolutely everybody is raving about, and I glance at the premise to see if it sounds even remotely up my alley, and what do you know, it actually kind of does, and eventually I just reach the point where I scream in surrender and buy the book, praying it will at least halfway live up to the hype.

Yup, that was the case with the book to be reviewed below. Consider this my contribution to the hype.

The Book: “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy…whatever you call a superhero comic book movie of a novel.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

BlurbA masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question

My Thoughts: In a word, I’d call the book “interesting”. Not “interesting” in the diplomatic way you use it when you’re not sure yet what else you can say about a thing. “Interesting” in that it kept a firm grip on my interest. It didn’t have me racing through the pages in a panic to know what came next; it was too calm a thing for that. But when I was reading, it made me want to read on. And when I wasn’t reading, it made me rather wish I were.* Though I wasn’t emotionally hijacked, I was nonetheless totally invested. I’m not even sure how the heck Schwab pulled that off. (I wonder how much the extraordinary touch of Victor Vale** may have had to do with it.)

* (And once I’d finished reading it, I was bummed for about a day, then shrugged and started rereading it, ‘cause YOLO.)

** (And since it’s asterisk time, can I just say: I love the thing Victor does with Sharpies. It totally goes against my personal code, but no matter; it’s still cool when he does it.)

“There are no good men in this game.”

So spake one of the characters, and may well have spoken true. There was no pure white, and no solid black, leaving the reader to choose a shade of gray to root for. The villain or his wicked archnemesis; pick your pleasure. There were characters I liked more than others, characters I very much wished not to die, and characters for whom I wished the opposite. It was harder to find characters I couldn’t pity. Even the worst of the bad guys had their sympathetic half-a-moments.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): For someone (like me) who frequently finds herself drawn to the villains of a tale by their dark complexity, “Vicious” is a book to savor.

Whaddaya think, readers? Sound like a literary bandwagon you’d be game to hop on? You can sit by me. ^^