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. ❤


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

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.”

A Few Bars of BALLAD: Stanza One

2 weeks ‘til the release of the “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, which means two things:

1) It’s the LAST WEEK to take advantage of my pre-order + thank-you gifts offer! Don’t miss out, y’all!

2) It’s time for another sneak peek inside this soon-to-launch novel of my heart – this excerpt introducing its minstrel protagonist, the one and only Allyn-a-Dale.

Of course, readers of my Wilderhark Tales will have already met him, as well as his father. “Ballad”s first chapter (not counting the prologue we sampled last week) picks up not many days after the series’ final book, “The Story’s End”, left off. If you’ve read it, you’ll have a pretty good idea where that places Allyn emotionally. If you haven’t… well, here’s your chance to find out. Come in closer. But quietly, now. This is a somber occasion.

“He looks all wrong.”

Allyn hadn’t meant to say it aloud, but the words had slipped out of their own volition. And why not, when they were only true? Jackillen Gant did look all wrong. Because he was so pale, his shining light dimmed and sparkling energy gone. Because he was so unmoving, when nothing before could ever hold him still. Because he was clothed in expensive finery, golden crown upon his golden head, inside a grand castle filled with everyone from the land’s highest officials to its lowliest farm girls, every one of them come to pay him honor. Because he had once been king, and now he was dead. All of it wrong, so wrong.

“I know,” murmured Dorian — Allyn’s brother, though quite old enough to have fathered him, had the man lying in the extravagant coffin not beaten him to it. Beside the king of the last nineteen years stood his wife, his sons and daughters (a number of them also older than Allyn), and his twin sister and partner in the rule of Carillon, Queen Ioniana, all of whom belonged in this royal setting more than the dearly departed Jackillen did.

More, too, than did Allyn.

“But it’s for The People,” Ioniana joined in the murmuring. “You understand.”

No, I don’t, Allyn thought. He didn’t understand why his father’s funeral had become this long drawn-out ceremony “for The People,” or why it seemed any action taken by Dorian and Ioniana seemed only ever to be “for The People,” or why “The People,” if they’d cared about Father so much, would want to see him made up without his say-so to look like the king he’d never desired to be.

The whole thing was a farce of the most tragic kind. Had Father been there — alive, that is — he’d have shattered the music of mourning with a countermelody of derisive laughter. “There’s a satirical song in here, somewhere!” he’d say, and would then have proceeded to find it and play it to an audience rolling on the floor with hilarity.

The thought caused Allyn’s lips to twitch. “Go on, lad,” he could hear Father’s voice urging, as it had so often when his lips twitched in such wise. “It won’t break your porcelain face entirely to crack the smallest smile.” And often, to please Father, a full smile would follow.

It didn’t now. It couldn’t. Not when his motivation for smiling lay embalmed in unwanted gold.

“Forgive me, Father,” Allyn whispered, his small hand hovering over the glass lid of the casket. “I should not have brought you here.”

Poor, dear Allyn. Little does he know that the tragic end he’s faced is only the beginning. What adventure lies ahead on the mourning minstrel’s path? Short answer: Summarized past the section break below. Full story: Comin’ atcha July 12th!


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.

Stay tu-u-uned!

P.S. — You wanna hear/watch me read this excerpt aloud? ‘Cause you can!


Five Thousand Words’ Worth of Feels

Once upon a time – specifically, on the day I was scheduled to hop a 10-hour flight from Chicago to Amsterdam – I was granted a blessed distraction from my stressful morning full of last-minute packing (and repacking) by a message from friend/fan Jay Cottle. To paraphrase said message:

I’ve read “The Story’s End”, and I have FEELINGS!

As the book’s author, those words alone would have been enough to brighten my heart. But then – THEN – I realized that I was also looking at a series sketches inspired by the book, which caused my insides to go something like:

I’m looking at fan art, and I have FEELINGS!

‘Cause I don’t know about authors in general, but my definition of success prominently features fan art. *starry-eyed smile*

So here we are a month later, with my European river cruise behind me, my 2015 NaNoWriMo won, and me about as settled in Germany as I’m probably going to be before briefly returning to the States. Sounds like the perfect time to finally show you guys Jay’s “Story’s End” pics! #Behold


Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 1
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 2
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 3
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 4
Jay Cottle ''Story's End'' Art 5


If you’ve read the novella, you’ve probably got a pretty good grasp of everything going on in these images. If you haven’t read it – if, indeed, you haven’t even purchased it yet – good news: That is easily remedied!

Big thanks for the Wilderhark love, Jay! And anytime anyone else wants to throw some Deshipley story-related art my way, know that I will be more than happy to receive it. ^_^

Open Journal: #WilderharkParty Recap

The Vent

Transparency. People supposedly like that in an author/artist/celebrity, right? ‘Cause it makes them come off as relatable or human or some such thing.

I don’t know. I can’t think why anyone would really want me to be transparent. What good would it do them to know how I really feel the majority of the time? The truth would sound an awful lot like whining/grousing/b*tching, and there’s already more than enough of that in the world. I don’t want to hear it from anyone else, so why would I foist it upon my public?

But this is an Open Journal post, meaning I’ll come closer to telling the whole truth, instead of just the bits I can deliver with a pleasant smile.

Behind the smile.
Behind the smile.

So. My launch/farewell party for The Wilderhark Tales.

I put a lot of time into planning it. Came up with a variety of content to try to keep guests engaged – games, read-aloud videos, topics of discussion. Worked hard on making the prizes – from fighting a charm onto a chain for a necklace, to formatting and printing pages for a wall calendar. I personally invited all my Facebook friends, and threw the link up in a couple of Facebook groups, and talked the party up on Twitter live, during those five straight days of all-day, upbeat, smile-with-exclamation-points socializing.

I wore. Myself. Out.

Me for five days.
Me for five days.

And I had about five regular guests.

Out of the thirty-ish who said they’d come. Out of the hundreds I invited.

A handful more poked their heads in, on rare occasion. But it was mostly just those stalwart five. And I appreciated their presence.

But transparently? It was nothing like what I wanted.

Other authors – not realer, not better, just not me – get parties and signings and readings in bookstores. That is what I wanted. That is what I tried for months (years?) in advance to get. Y’know what happens when I contact bookstores? I show up in person, and the person to talk to isn’t there. I send them an e-mail, and the e-mail goes forever unanswered. Basically, it’s the same thing that happens just about any time I have to rely on other people for a thing to get done: It doesn’t.

So, yeah. Behind the scenes of the only party I could make happen for myself, I was privately miserable. In between moments of painful excitement when it looked like people might actually be interested in what I was trying to give them. My heart jerked up and down, up and downer, up and downest, all day for five days. I sighed a lot. I cried surprisingly little. By the last day, I kind of got numb. I just wanted it to be over. To not have to care anymore. Since all but five-ish people didn’t.

No I won’t.
No I won’t.

I could start getting really angry now, but it’s not worth it. Instead, let’s cut to a song that pretty much encapsulates how I felt throughout most of the party. (Credit to my sisters, one of whom stopped by a couple times to troll the party. Thanks, Di.)

We ain’t got no money
We ain’t got no friends
Roll up in a Caravan cuz we ain’t got no Benz
We just lost the lotto
We behind on all the trends
But we gon’ keep on rappin’ even though we got no fans (leggo!)

Yo. We out on the floor
We in this heezy all alone
All we wanna do is be successful in our craft
So it’d be nice if we had some support

Don’t worry. I gon’ keep on rappin’ regardless.

For better or worse, I can’t seem to help myself.

The [E]vent

In an effort to go against my personal grain and focus on the positive, here are some of my favorite moments from the party.

– The shameless ogling of Welken lookalikes

– Ionquin Wyle utilizing the phrase “Netflix and chill”

Tirzah’s flawless “Sun’s Rival” selfie

Tirzah's ''Sun's Rival'' Selfie

– The utter adoration from every quarter for Lumónd #TheySeeHim ❤

– The straight-up prettiness of the graphics for the “Words of Welken Translation Game” *pats self on back*

Welken Words, sample

– The fact that I was given cause to look at a side-by-side pic of Edgwyn Wyle and “Once Upon a Time”s Rumplestiltskin

– Me: “Discuss! The Anarchwitch has appeared in a lot of guises, over the course of the series. How do /you/ tend to envision her? What do you suppose she /really/ looks like?”

My sister: “Never heard of her, but I would guess she wears a jacket like this” *posts pic of an anorak jacket*

– When ‘twas agreed that Ruban was the side character MVP (not counting Jeromey Gant, ‘cause hello)

– When Tirzah jumped in with a brand new piece of Gant-o’-the-Lute fan art

Sunrise Lute 2

– Clem


– Maritime legumes

Maritime Legumes

– Tirzah puns

Tirzah Puns

– All the incredibly nice, sometimes profound things my dedicated guests said about The Wilderhark Tales and the people therein … like my little books have deeply impacted their lives or something

The work I do may be for too little. But it is not for nothing.

Godspeed, Wilderhark. And I’ll see ya when I see ya, Ever On Word blog, but for now, I’m Europe-bound. Let the sorta-kinda-hiatus begin!

Something Witchy This Way Comes (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 mutual author describes her thus:

Known by many names and none, a mysterious magic-worker slips seen and unseen throughout the lands and ages, her spellwork leaving a legacy of hearts broken and unified. She’s made her presence felt since the start of the Wilderhark Tales. What part will she play at story’s end?

“Welcome— um, you!” Will greets the woman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – for the purposes of this interview, if nothing else, what do I even call you?”

The woman – her appearance neither fair nor foul, old nor young, eyes dark curtains drawn over the windows to the depths of her – looks unblinking at her host. “You may do as those before you have done and think of me simply as ‘the Anarchwitch’. The title was taken knowing it would be thus used.”

“But it’s not a terribly specific title, is it? There have been any number of anarchwitches harassing the Wilderhark world’s royals, over the years.”

She inclines her head in acknowledgment. “We were numerous, for a time. Now the order is long gone, and I the last remaining.” A wistful shake of the head. “You humans come and go so fast.”

Will raises his brows. “Are you not human, then? One of the Welkens, perhaps? Or another of those what-do-you-call-‘ems – what Princess Liliavaine in Book Six of the series labeled ‘more-than-men’?”

“More, certainly. But what I am is not mine to tell. A secret’s keeping is mine. Its handing away,” she says dryly, “our author’s.”

“Heh, I expect that’s generally so. Still, I hope you’ll indulge me in sharing a few details that never made it onto the page. For example, there’s your relationship with Ursula, sometime queen of Denebdeor. You didn’t seem to like her particularly much, and yet you twice—”

“Thrice,” the Anarchwitch calmly cuts across him.


“Three times I gave her aid.”

Will tallies on his fingers. “The baby thing in ‘Stone Kingdom’, the titular Seventh Spell…” He frowns. “You don’t seriously think of the Tipsilvren disaster as helping, do you?”

The woman’s bearing hardens. “It led her to her heart’s other half – and what’s more, returned him to himself. Were it not for me, he would have been under the careless curse of another for the whole of his days, and Denebdeor forever fallen into ruin.” She relaxes a fraction back into her seat. “I cast my first spell neither against Ursula nor for her alone, but for the betterment of many. Thus have my powers been ever used.”

“Not everyone sees it that way. I hear you caught some reader flak for your actions in ‘The Sky-Child’. Something about your curse on Viralei coming across as over-harsh and emotionally manipulative?”

“Over-harsh?” The witch blinks for the first time since arrival. “She was rude. Ursula’s disrespect to me brought her first curse upon her, and no shortage of death with it. Her second lack of manners provoked her kingdom’s century-long petrifaction. Why, then, would I not see fit to punish one whose words to her would-be lover were not only harsh, but cruel? I will not suffer insults from entitled royals, whether the insult be aimed at me, a common man, or a minstrel as far from common as uncommon can be.

“As for emotional manipulation…” She waves a dismissive hand. “’Twas no love spell I cast. I only held her immobile that she might look at the man of music long enough to see whether his inner song called to hers or not. She was free to reject him again once he’d effected her rescue. That she did not is no doing of mine.”

“For someone not in the business of love spells,” Will observes, “you sure have a knack for playing matchmaker. You ever think about scaring up a true love for yourself?”

“It… has crossed my mind.” Her gaze drifts away. “But for all that the stories in which I’ve played a part may seem to argue otherwise, true love is a rather rare thing. Surely you can see why. Think of the string of improbabilities so often required to bring the lovers together. To connect with one’s heart-match alone, unaided by someone with the advantage of an outside perspective, is but one chance in thousands. I came as close to love as I ever will, in this world, and it was not close enough.”

“Oh.” Will deflates, despondent. “I am so sorry. That’s… that blows.”

A smile-like shadow flits over the woman’s face. “Winds blow, Scarlet. An example of what is being what is. I am less concerned with ‘is’ or ‘was’ than ‘will be’. You have a final question for me, do you not?”

The corners of Will’s mouth thrust upward into his smile’s return. “Like you’d need any special magic to know that. Tell me, Anarchwitch, what is our author Danielle’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” The smile beams brighter in defiance of its earlier dim. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I have told you: A secret’s keeping is mine. You’ll learn no more from any words I speak. As for what a kiss may tell…” Her eyes focus past Will, beyond the camera’s reach. “That knowledge is for him.”

Will turns in surprise. “Allyn??”

Allyn’s voice rises gaspward. “Me?”

The witch rises to her feet, beckoning. “Come forward, child, and hear what I would say.”

In wordless uncertainty, Allyn crosses the stage to stand before her. Just as silent, her hand guiding his chin’s angle higher, she leans in to touch her lips to his, the kiss lasting but a moment, yet lingering outside of time. Before Allyn’s closed eyes flutter open, the Anarchwitch is gone, vanished into the air like a breath released.

“Well?” Will demands, when Allyn stands speechless. “What did her kiss have to say for itself?”

Allyn’s head half-turns Will’s way, the eyes in his lashes’ shadows revealing as little as any witch. “It sounded like, ‘Good luck go with you.’”

“…Huh,” Will says at last. “If that isn’t just about as enigmatic as it gets. What do you think, Allyn? Are you up to giving the word from our sponsor?”

“Of course,” says Allyn, the shake of his head more an attempt to clear it than a refusal of duty. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment was brought to you by the conclusion of Danielle E. Shipley’s Wilderhark Tales novellas, ‘The Story’s End’ – its launch celebration going on all this week on Facebook:

Story's End Cover, gallery size

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you as well, Anarchwitch, wherever you’ve disappeared to. 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. (And seriously? Stop by the ‘Story’s End’ party, if you get the chance. And/or take advantage of the insane price-drop on Books 1 – 6.5 of The Wilderhark Tales on Kindle. 99 cents a pop, man. Take it from a thief – that’s a steal.) ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Wilderhark Series, 99 cents
Click the pic for the series page on my website; convenient sales links await. ^_^