Mini Muses: Behind the Mystery

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head” (both newly available for preorder on Kindle, here and here!), were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Allyn-a-Dale, minstrel to Robin Hood’s Merry Men

As Featured In…: “The Story’s End” (The Wilderhark Tales, Book 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Yves / Avelaine, the boy who dances with death*

*(Which is… not actually how I’ve ever described him, but Allyn just slipped that in there on his own reconnaissance, and I mean, sure, that works)

Mini Muses_Allyn and Yves

How Do You Feel You and Avelaine Are Most Similar?: Allyn stares aesthetically into the distance. “I, too, dance with death… Rather, death’s shadow has loomed large over my life since before my first breath, so I’ve developed some psychoses around it. Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell. And we’re both small, which may not be hell’s fault, and speak with charming accents.”

Most Different?: “Avelaine dances, and harbors a fear of heights. I, canonically, am almost never seen dancing, and I mostly fear social situations, or my dearest loved ones dying violently before my eyes.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Literarily speaking, I best like the ‘Manta and the Mask’ short story embedded in Book 1. Otherwise, it’s this snippet from Book 2.”

“Dur-hur,” said Uri. “I suppose next you’ll tell me how when you were sixteen, you had to run a mile in full armor to meet the lances of your enemies, uphill both ways in the snow.”

Wilbur’s voice hinted at laughter. “Not ‘til I entered the knighthood at twenty, no. The uphill runs in the snow at sixteen were to chase down wayward sheep.”

“I was suffering child abuse,” Avelaine put in from a step behind them. “Uphill. Both ways.”

“’Twould seem Avelaine and I share a similar sense of humor.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “First off, I dislike choosing favorites, so how dare you. Second, I suppose I’ll say Wilbur, because he’s the nearest thing Avelaine has to his own personal Will Scarlet – in the ‘band brother’ sense, not the ‘high-key maniac’ one. You’ve developed another character for that…”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Allyn! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Allyn-a-Dale or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

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Mini Muses: Behind the Knight

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head”, were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Edgwyn Wyle, tailor*

*(Tailored service, while you wait; the wait’s well worth Wyle)

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 2 – 7)

“Inspired” Counterpart: Sir Wilbur Lamb, knight of The Order of the Dove

Mini Muses_Edg and Wilbur

How Do You Feel You and Wilbur Are Most Similar?: “Oh, in many ways. Our personalities are basically twins. We love people, and live to care for them. And ‘people’,” he laughs, “very much includes our horses. We’ve also both borne the dubious honor of being our author’s crush. …though I believe he handled it better.”

Most Different?: “He’s much more physically inclined than I am. Not that I haven’t been known to carry an enchanted princess down a beanstalk, when circumstances call for it. But he sees stuffed dummies as a faux opponent for battle exercises; I see them as a place to pin a ball gown in the making. I appear to also be the more outgoing, of the two of us. A bashful sheep, dear Wilbur can often be.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Can it be from Book 2? Oh, good. I like the chapter wherein Wilbur attends a service at Annabelle’s church. It’s a little emotionally trying, in its way, but so very sweet and sincere. Refreshing, too, to see a story where religion isn’t the focus still take a few pages to establish the characters’ spiritual side. I don’t recall having seen that done particularly often, in fiction.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “High goodness, that’s difficult. Ask me to pick among my friends, why don’t you! But perhaps I would say Uri, because … well, this bit says it well.”

“Wait,” said Wilbur, rising after her and – to much face-making on Uri’s part – pulling her into a hug. “How whole you are,” he murmured. “And how much fuller you’ve become since first I knew you.”

“Thanks, man. You’re nice and full-figured, too. Can we not hug?”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Wyle! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Edgwyn or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Mini Muses: Behind the Light

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head”, were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Gant-o’-the-Lute, minstrel extraordinaire

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 3, 4, 6.5, and 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Lucianíel, light elemental muse

Mini Muses_Lute and Luc

How Do You Feel You and Luc Are Most Similar?: “Well, most obviously,” says Lute, “there are the shortened forms of our names. You didn’t stretch yourself terribly far on that one. Then there are his superhuman qualities – the speed, the brightness, the distinctively musical voice… I, in some measure, possess all of these. Furthermore, he’s deeply dedicated to his craft, a very much goal-driven protagonist, and not nearly appreciated enough by his author or fellow characters for all he contributes to the world.”

Most Different?: “The fellow cares entirely too much about books, and deems it necessary to collaborate with inferior creatures to create them, whereas my passions are music and adventure, and I much prefer to pursue them alone.” Lute’s gaze slides unhappily sideways. “I suppose I must also admit that he has proven himself, by far, the better father figure.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “I don’t know about ‘favorite’, but I would be remiss as your imaginary friend not to highlight this particular passage from ‘Inspired’…”

Annabelle gave a ragged laugh. “You don’t have any time to waste, Lucianíel! You are not real! You are a piece of my imagination that is running amok, and who needs to get his ego in line before I start thinking this cute, delusional relationship of ours has gone past its expiration date and needs tossing out! I can’t believe I’m sitting here yelling about this! Go away. I’m reading. Come back when you want to be worth something again.”

Lucianíel’s eyes blazed. “You want to speak of delusions?” he hissed, leaning down until, on the same plane, their noses would have touched. “Here’s one you’d do best to rid yourself of, little girl, before I start forming thoughts of my own – of which I am more than capable, Annabelle Almighty, let there be no mistake about that!

“You and the abishan are under a similar misconception. You think that because you are our author, we should all bow at your feet in unquestioning adoration. But you are not our goddess. You are not our queen. We are gods and heroes, angels and elementals – and you are merely our annoying scribe.”

“I forget, now, what you’d done to set me off like that, but some of Luc’s dialogue there was almost word for word what I once spoke to you. I’m glad to see the moment made an impression on one of us.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “Avelaine,” he says fondly. “Let us simply say he’s based upon a character of great importance to me.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Lute! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Gant-o’-the-Lute or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Books I’ve Read (and My Characters Recommend) in 2017

As of this post’s drafting, I’ve read* 73 books** this year.

*(or listened to on audio)

**(not counting shorts stories, or the bits of flash fiction I wrote myself, or the draft of Part 2 of #CamelotWIP, or the “Inspired” novels I’ve reread in editorial prep for their release next March…)

Do I remember all of them? No. Have I reviewed all of them? Hardly. Weren’t there a couple of other books I totally told myself I’d read but have yet to get around to? Why, yes. But ignoring all that, I still call this a win of a year for reading. And some of the people in my head got to benefit from the words I consumed as well.

Since I plan to give my life-in-upheaval a break by not blogging during December (apart from that one post I’mma schedule for the first), now’s the time if ever there was to do a recap post of sorts.

I’m not gonna do one, though. My characters are.

Please welcome Will Scarlet, Allyn-a-Dale, Loren McCaughley and Sir Bedivere (all of Outlaws of Avalon fame), and Edgwyn Wyle (from the Wilderhark Tales)! Which books would y’all like to spotlight?

Will Scarlet’s top pick = “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (Mackenzi Lee)

Character Rec'd - Will

“This was SUCH A ROMP, you guys! I wanted Danielle to grab it for me the moment I heard the premise – which she couldn’t actually do, since the book wasn’t even out yet at the time, but it showed up at the library eventually! Monty (the main character, yo) is just ENTIRELY ME. Y’know, if I’d been born in 18th-century England to an awful father, as opposed to 12th-century England to a father I have no memory of. So yeah. This book. My fave. Hands down.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Alloy of Law” / “Shadows of Self” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Also entirely me: Wayne. Y’know, if I were a cheerful kleptomaniac whose brilliant brain makes no sense. Which I am. So obviously I love him. He is the best. Also, Sanderson’s Mistborn books are just awesome. Amazing world-building. Plots like whoa. And did I mention Wayne. We’ve still gotta get our hands on the next book in the series, though, so NOBODY SPOIL IT.”

Allyn-a-Dale’s top pick = “The Hearts We Sold” (Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Character Rec'd - Allyn

“A girl made desperate from abuse sells her heart to an enigmatic demon, meaning she’s now under contract to battle interdimensional portals and the creatures that lurk within. #Relatable The love interest was nice. The narrative voice was casually decent. I liked the parts that hurt.”

Honorable mention(s) = “A Conjuring of Light” (V.E. Schwab) / “Strange the Dreamer” (Laini Taylor)

“More pain! ^o^ At least one of these made Danielle cry; I don’t recall whether the other did, too, or if she only ached. And sorry-not-sorry, but after everything she put me through in my last book, she owes me this means of catharsis.”

Loren McCaughley’s top pick = “Robin Hood” (J. Walker McSpadden)

Character Rec'd - Loren

“Speaking as someone who knows her way around a classic Robin Hood novel, I felt this version was particularly enjoyable. Like, up there with Howard Pyle’s; definitely more fun than Roger Lancelyn Green’s. (We’ll see how it stacks up against Henry Gilbert’s when we get there. Fingers crossed we start reading it on the plane when Danielle leaves for California!) If you’re a fellow Sherwood junkie, do it.”

Honorable mention(s) = “Remnants” (Stacy Xavier)

“Yeah, okay, this and ‘Ivanhoe’ were the titles that Danielle was going to read this month, but then… didn’t?? And both of them have Robin Hood in them, so I’m less than overjoyed at the holdup. But she’ll definitely make a point of reading ‘Remnants’ eventually, because it’s a Hood retelling, inspired by a Hood photo shoot she was in, written by a fellow Bristol Renaissance Faire cast member. In other words, how could she not?”

(Related note: There’s a giveaway for this book going on right now. Just sayin’.)

Sir Bedivere’s top pick = “The Fall of Arthur” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Character Rec'd - Bedivere

“Vexingly, the poem isn’t even finished, so the book’s padded out with the author’s son’s speculations and analyses and other stuff that is not the father of modern fantasy waxing lyrical on my king’s demise. Still, speaking for the Camelot demographic of Avalon Faire, if it’s relevant to the lives we lost, we’re reading it. And this was an interesting take on it all, if incomplete. It left my soul wanting, and isn’t that just what thinking on our fallen kingdom’s all about?”

Honorable mention(s) = “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion” (M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann)

“Yippee, more Camelot – this time in graphic novel form. Arthur was kind of worthless in this one, as were… wow, pretty much all the men, really. Sorry, damsels and dames, you deserved better. But the lion was on his A-game, the story was about on par for a medieval ballad, and the illustrations made things worthwhile.”

And speaking of Wyles: Edgwyn, take us home!

Edgwyn Wyle’s top pick = “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore” (Kelly Jones)

Character Rec'd - Edgwyn

“A Regency-era spy novel with a focus on fashion! As a tailor, I was very much drawn to main character Annis’s attention to one’s attire and its making. And then – (this is in the book’s blurb, right? It’s not spoiling to speak of it? Ah, good) – she discovers she has a magical sewing talent! Imagine my delight. ^_^ I was easily enough able to predict most of the plot twists, but it was good fluffy fun, for all that.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Danielle E. Shipley)

“This late in the year, Danielle’s mostly forgotten she released this novel back in early spring. But that’s in part why she keeps me around: To remember things for her. Thus do I recall this charming love story – a fine match for my fairytale heart. She’s never sure which book in the Outlaws trilogy to name as her favorite, but mine is without a doubt this one.”

Awwwww, thanks, Edg! And thanks to you all, for sharing your literary opinions.

How about YOU, readers? Which tales have filled your year, so far? What do you think you’ll read next? Discuss in the comments!

Recap: It Was Lit

The Struggle™ with feelings of inadequacy aside, Danielle of a Decade Ago would be astonished at Present Me’s “to-done” list. On cast at a Renaissance Faire? Done it. Traveled Europe? Done it. Published books? Done it. Several times. And as of Sunday, I’ve even sold those books at Printers Row Lit Fest!

Here’s how that last item went down:

Printers Row 01

Months Before = I’d originally planned to buy table space on my own. But during a different book-selling gig – a library’s local author open house, back in January – my mom got a tip from another author that signing up as part of a group could be the more economical choice. So I joined the Chicago Writers Association and snagged a time slot with their tent. (There are, of course, other membership perks as well, but the Printers Row tent was my main draw.)

Printers Row 04Days/Weeks Before = This phase included designing and printing out signage, constructing table displays, and ordering a heck-ton of books. You can never how well the merchandise will sell, so I went with higher numbers of Books 1s (“The Swan Prince” for The Wilderhark Tales, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” for The Outlaws of Avalon), second highest with immediate follow-ups (“The Stone Kingdom” / “The Seventh Spell”, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”), and less stock with books further along in the Wilderhark series.

Because I wished to be able to accept credit cards (cash only during the last hours of a book event? Not ideal), I reached out to family friend / professional fashionista / all-around phenomenal human being Peach Carr for advice in this area. Because she rocks, she let me borrow her own portable card reader. Aaaaand because Square refused to cooperate with me directly (more on this in a future review post, methinks <_<), Peach and fam (*waves to Molly and Wayne*) hooked me up with a workaround that involved the lending of iPads, protracted battles with the Technology Fiend, and the juggling of funds. In short, they were my patron angels, and will be richly rewarded when I ascend to my dark throne.

Denebdeor Crest
Noble stag horns and swan wings. It’s like the artisans were in my head.

Day Before = Foreknowledge is a chronic worrier’s best friend, so on Saturday, Mom and I hopped the train downtown to scope out the CWA tent, the better to get an idea of how we’d want to set up the next day. Seeing the space helped firm up the list of things we’d want for Sunday (e.g. anything we could think of to keep an enthusiastic Vesparya wind from blowing all my stuff away), while seeing the Poetic Earth tent full of handcrafted leather goods made me want to spend money I shouldn’t. (I restrained myself, but come on, one of the journals looked like the everlovin’ crest of Denebdeor!)

The Day Of = Never to be outsmarted by horrific city traffic, my parents and I left the house plenty early, and reached our destination with time to spare. Setup was a little hectic, due to wind mischief and authorial nerves, but we got it sorted by the time my 2-6pm selling window opened. Although I started out a little shy, Mom’s energy compensated until I’d warmed up a bit. And before long, the sales were trickling in!

The Carr family stopped by about midway through the day to say hi and buy a copy of every book on the table. (Have I mentioned I love them?) And a little later on, my brother-from-another-mother Cean Gamalinda came to provide a bit of walk-around advertising while I manned the table and Mom ‘n’ Dad got sandwiches.

Printers Row 06
Peach and Me
Printers Row 07
Me and Cean

By the last quarter-hour before 6, the rest of my tent mates had called it a day, and the crowds were close to nonexistent, so we packed it up and went home, weary but satisfied with the day’s blessings. Despite my darkest “what if?” fears, I made back what I spent on the table! (…if not the cost of all the books I brought to sell. But hey, that just means I’ll have the remainder already on hand for whenever the next event comes around.) And outcome aside, I decided I wanted to do this thing, and Danielle and Co. made it happen. So much for inadequacy. ^_^

Best Moments =

For Will: When a young woman named Scarlett bought a copy of “Ballad”.

For the Sun: When a little boy was offered (as an example of all the free designs available) a Lumónd bookmark, but pointed to Raeóryn instead.

For Me: Oh, how to choose?

– When my first book sold, so it was too late to go home with zero sales.

– The first time someone paid with credit card, and after all the trouble beforehand, the sale went off without a hitch.

– The pair of customers with whom I shared high fives over the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

– When one of them came back later like, “Oh, duh, I should have had you sign my book!” Sign it I did; to Emily.

– The little girls who came for bookmarks. Then came again for a Wilderhark Tale. Then came again for another Wilderhark Tale. Then yet again because – oh, yeah! – you buy two Tales, and you get a third free! All of ‘em signed; to Mia and to Averi.

– Averi [looking at “Ballad”]: “Who’s Robin Hood?”

Mia: “What do you mean, who’s—?!?!” *smacks Averi with “The Seventh Spell”*

– Averi [counting her remaining cash for a 10-dollar “Ballad” purchase]: “I only have eight dollars.”

Me: “Y’know what? Take it.”

Because eight dollars is better than zero, and young people who get excited about books deserve good things.

Things Worth Trying at Gigs Like These =

– Freebies, y’all. There are plenty of folks who won’t spend book money, but will take a complementary Wilderhark bookmark and/or sign up to receive an e-ARC of Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”. And yeah, there are also people who insist on walking by emptyhanded, but there’s nothing to be done about that. X)

– Don’t feel comfortable shouting, “Hey, you! Buy my books!” at passersby? Try calling out, “Nice dress!” “Those boots rock!” “I love that color on you!” Maybe they’ll stick around your table a little longer, maybe they’ll just keep walking. Either way, compliments cost nothing (see: Freebies), and you may have made them feel good.

– Price to sell. Offering your $7.99 novella for $5 (buy 2, get 1 free!) may offend your sensibilities – (because for goodness’ sake, your art’s got value!) – but think like a customer. Nice, round, low numbers make for more easily justified impulse buys.

– Hydration. Always a good idea, but particularly when it’s 94 degrees and you’re an introvert expending social energy.

– Bring scissors and extra tape. Even if you don’t end up needing them, your fellow authors or a little girl with a balloon’s ribbon trapped on her wrist just might. (True stories both. And heck yes, we were prepared!)

That One Totally Minor Thing I Woke Up Having an Anxiety Attack About the Next Morning Because I Wish I’d Done It Differently = Nope. Not gonna talk about it. Because it wasn’t a big deal. And everything else was. So there.

Printers Row 02

The Grilling of Allyn-a-Dale (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?”

Allyn looks at his notes, then performs a double take. “It’s… me.”

“Oh, yes? How’s our author describe you?”

“It says,

He’s really something different, that Allyn-a-Dale, but I do believe that under that pathetically earnest exterior, there’s actually some real spirit, and maybe even a modicum of fun.

“Apt,” Will assesses.

Allyn regards him pointedly. “The quote’s from you.”

“And I totally called it. Welcome, Allyn-a-Dale!” Will greets as Allyn grimly picks up his hat and lute and relocates to the chair across from Will’s own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how excited are you that your first novel is finally out?!”

“Somewhat, I suppose,” says the minstrel, curved over his instrument. “That is, I gather that it’s a big deal. I’m certainly quite pleased for Danielle. She has long awaited this release.”

“Well, yeah, but we can listen to her talk about her writerly feelings anytime. This is about you.”

Allyn grimaces. “I never asked for that.”

“Not big on the whole ‘main character’ thing, huh?”

A vigorous shake of the head sets the plume on his hat wagging. “Not by half. That was Father’s business. And I was entirely content to trail in his shadow throughout the concluding Wilderhark Tale*.” He droops. “I’d have gladly carried on like that indefinitely, if he hadn’t died.”

*(Author’s note: “The Story’s End”, currently just 99 cents for Kindle, just like every other Wilderhark Tale! Grab ’em all!)

“But he did,” says Will, not ungently. “Meaning it’s your turn in the spotlight. What did you do when Danielle looked you up with a story proposal, once upon NaNoWriMo 2010?”

Allyn shrugs a shoulder. “I let her find me. I made a start of finding myself with her. The first half of Chapter One was a difficult beginning, but I realized I couldn’t droop along dejectedly forever. A protagonist must be proactive. If I was to be made a main character against my will, I determined that I must strive to be a good one.”

“A brave move, Allyn-a-Dale. And oh, speaking of your will…” Will flashes an expectant grin. “What were your thoughts upon first meeting me? And, y’know, the other Merry Men, but mostly me?”

Allyn’s eyes roll over his smile. “I thought you all more or less peculiar, with you the strangest of all. And I stand by that early impression. Even so, you were on the whole a warm and welcoming group. It was only a matter of time before I began to feel I belonged to you.”

“As you should,” Will approves. “Now, you call yourself a minstrel. What does that mean to you?”

“Why, everything!” says Allyn, straightening at last. “We bards are the voice of music. Father practically had it down to a religion, with him the self-appointed high priest. He left his own lute to my care in good faith, and I endeavor to honor that with my whole heart.”

“So riddle me this,” says Will. “If you could only be one – a strong protagonist, a Merry Man, or a minstrel – which would you choose to be?”

Allyn’s fair face pales further. “That is a choice most cruel. I should need all the strength I could muster to survive the doom you set before me. But if I could have but one, I would dutifully choose minstrelsy, and sing forever a lonesome lament of the friends left behind in Sherwood.”

Will heaves a sigh. “Yeah, that sounds like the Allyn I know.  Let’s lighten things up with one last question. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He winks in slow-mo. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Allyn regards him, his fingers slowly taking up a tune on his lute. “Do you know,” he says impassively, “how close our author came to leaving you out of the book?”

Will stiffens. “Say what?”

“In the brainstorming stage. She was at first undecided whether to round out the band with a Will Scarlet or a Much the Miller’s Son. ‘Twas no more than the luck of a coin-flip, her settling on you in the end.”

“Dear God!” Will cries. “It wouldn’t be the same story at all without me! A literary apocalypse, that’s what we’d be looking at! I think I’m blacking out…”

“Breathe, Will,” says Allyn, rising to deliver the word from our sponsor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment – and a number of enticing prizes for those who care to try for them – was brought to you by the Launch Week+ celebration of ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’ (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!

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.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says, more or less recovered. “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 get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

The Mega-Launch of Allyn-a-Dale

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

Launch Week? Pfft, no. That’s so Wilderhark Tales. I’ve been waiting on this book’s release since NaNoWriMo 2010. This volume’s the first act in the trilogy of my heart. No way is this Launch Week.

It’s Launch Week+!

A solid month of all things “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! …Which you can at long last purchase in paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace! E-books available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and I’m pretty sure it’s on iBooks, too, but I don’t have the app, so I can’t tell. If any of you happen to purchase “Ballad” through Apple, feel free to flash me the high sign.

In honor of “Ballad”s release, e-copies of its prequel series, The Wilderhark Tales, are price-dropped on Amazon to just 99 cents each, now through July 31! If you haven’t yet, now’s the perfect time to stock your Kindle / e-reader with the collection of stories from Allyn’s pre-Avalon world. Start here with Book One!

Wilderhark Covers Lineup 5

And because I’ve yet to have a Launch Anything without a giveaway, naturally I wanna make it rain with prizes, including:

– A Map of Avalon Faire – Merry Men-signed! (5 winners)

– A Tote Bag from the Ever On Word shop on Society6 – winner gets their pick of any in-store design! (1 winner)

– A paperback copy of “Grace the Mace” by Tirzah Duncan – because she’s my BFF and I support her art (1 winner)

– A custom “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” bookmark created by Chelsea de la Cruz – because she’s another BFF and she supports my art with her art! (1 winner)

To get in on the giveaway, you can hop over to the Rafflecopter and rack up entry points by… buying “Ballad”! Reviewing “Ballad”! Adding “Ballad” to your Goodreads shelf! Leaving blog post comments! Following me on Twitter! Et cetera. You’ve got options, is what I’m sayin’.

And speaking of blog posts: Here, for your convenience, is a look at Ever On Word’s schedule for “Ballad”-related fun (complete with placeholder titles which may or may not give you much idea about the content to come).

Tuesday, July 12 = Introductory Post (you are here)

Thursday, July 14 = An Illustrated Summary of “Ballad”, as told by [wait and see!]

Saturday, July 16 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #1

Monday, July 18 = Shooting Hood in the Wood

Wednesday, July 20 = “Ballad” Blackout Poetry

Friday, July 22 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #2

Monday, July 25 = Diversity and Stuff

Wednesday, July 27 = The Many Faces of Will ‘n’ Allyn

Friday, July 29 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #3

Tuesday, August 2 = The Songs of “Ballad”, as performed by me

Friday, August 5 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell Interview #4

Tuesday, August 9 = The Bloopers of Allyn-a-Dale

Friday, August 12 = Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell #5, and Giveaway Winners Announced

Also, every post (minus the Kiss & Tell interviews, ‘cause I’m arbitrary like that) is going to end with a bonus treat: A selection from a little giggle project I call #HypotheticalFAQs! (Because until “Ballad” starts pulling in some actual frequently asked questions, Will Scarlet and I are not above making them up.)

Anyone else hyped yet? ‘Cause I’m darn hyped, and super looking forward to sharing all this stuff with you – most especially, the book. ❤

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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.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

For each of the Merry Men: What’s one weird thing people don’t know about you?

Robin Hood: “I seriously thought I was going to grow up to be a priest or something.”

Marion Hood: “My eye color. My author’s never been able to decide whether it’s brown or green-hazel or what.”

Will Scarlet: “I am unaccountably fascinated by chickens.”

Little John: “I’m fluent in six languages.”

Allyn-a-Dale: “I would quite honestly rather die than give up a private truth on the Internet.”