WHAMO! #Jack #Giants #Slaaay

WHAMO Logo

Hello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And it’s time for another edition of “WHAMO!” (which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier).

Today I’m going to revisit a recent watch that may or may not have scared the hose off me for life, ye olde fairytale-style:

“Jack the Giant Slayer”

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

The IMDb-Official Description:

The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds.

From Warner Bros. Pictures; directed by Bryan Singer; starring Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan McGregor.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

“YASS to rhymes that go beyond the basic ‘fee, fie, foe, fum’ original. Loved it when Danielle did it in ‘The Sky-Child’, lovin’ it now.”

“Nice back-and-forth, in the prologue, between Little Jack and Little Princess Person. And YOU GO, QUEEN, for encouraging your little queen-to-be to have adventures! Take note, monarchs and/or parents everywhere.”

“Okay, I’m well aware the Jack actor isn’t Merlin from BBC’s ‘Merlin’, but, I’m sorry, my brain is going to spend the whole movie refusing to understand the difference.”

“Oh, look – Jasmine’s visiting the marketplace. Go meet-cute with Aladdin, princess.”

“Captain of the Guard Guy’s cute. Just… observing.”

“Psst. Jack. Where’s your horse?”

“Eyyy, Evil Stanley Tucci. Whatcha schemin’?”

“Aww, don’t be like that, Uncle. In defense of the beans, there was a monk…!”

“Aww, don’t be like that, King! Your wife was so cool, before she died of Fairytale Dropsy…”

“THAT’S a hat! Hat approved! Our princess knows how to hat!”

“Ahh, so that’s why we don’t get the beans wet.”

“A twister! A twister! The shack’s headed over the rainbow!”

“Um, maybe don’t let Evil Stanley Tucci join the beanstalk expedition?”

“Okay, Captain of the Guard Guy, you officially had me at ‘tally-ho’. Calling it now: You’re my favorite. …who weirdly reminds me of cousin Robin Hood, for some reason? The low-key adventuresome English accent, mayhap.”

“And THAT’S why we shouldn’t let Evil Stanley Tucci join the beanstalk expedition!”

“Oh no. Oh boy. Here there be giants, and that guy over there is right smack in the danger zone of ‘semi important-ish, but decidedly below main character status’. He fee-fie-foe-finna die.”

“AAALKJASLDFSACKK, why is the giant that fast?!?!!!? Big creatures shouldn’t get to be fast, Little John!!!”

“Haha, that giant sounds weirdly like Davy Jones from ‘Pirates of the—’ Wait, what? That IS Davy Jones?! Bill Nighy in da house, with first line parallels to die for! (Pun absolutely intended.) I should’ve known; the beanstalk is practically the kraken.”

“ *whimper-screeches something incomprehensible while his recent death prediction comes mercilessly true* “

“ARGHH! Princess! Robin Hood Guy! JACK, SAVE THEM!”

“Daaaang, credit to the king where it’s due: He’s not one to pansy out when it looks like time to do the hard thing.”

“Soooo, I know Jack and the princess are supposed to be the endgame romance here, but counterproposal: Jack x Robin Hood.”

“DON’T DIIIIIIIEEEEE!”

“Is he gonna die?”

“HE DIDN’T DIE!”

“Oh, snap, HE died!”

“Oh no…”

“OH no oh no oh no…”

“WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE.”

“Oh, God Almighty save us, HE’S NOT DEAD—”

“ *screaming, cringing, flailing in his lady friends’ laps* ”

“C’mon, don’t die, c’mon, don’t die…”

“WHOA, what a way to die!”

“Okay, phew, yes, day saved by— him??? Why not the princess?! The princess totally should have saved the day, dude – I don’t care who the title names as giant slayer! Still: Day saved. Thank goodne— NOPE, NopeNopeNope, I did NOT need that ending. I’m not sleeping tonight. Anxiety attacks ever after, the end.”

More Coherently Summarized:

Definitely less of a fairy tale for kids than for, I dunno, whichever crowd wants to see people getting their heads bitten off by CGI titans. And I mean, I love an adventure. I do. Sing hey for throwing yourself face-first into danger, death be hanged. But that’s when I’M the one in danger! I can die as many times as you like. Less fun is watching that happen to characters I care about – and I have a bad heart condition that makes me care way too much about way too many characters, okay?!?

Biggest complaints, though: 1, the princess didn’t get to do jack. 2, Captain Robin didn’t get to do Jack.

Regarding the first, you could see the writing in Act 1 setting Princess Isabelle up to be a gal raring to live her own adventure. But all the script gave her for the rest of the story was the usual Distressed Damsel role. Kidnapped by the krakenstalk. Captured by the giants. Rescued by The Hero Men™. Running and/or hiding while The Hero Men™ fight. Lame, but redeemable, if only she’d been the one to defeat the giants in the end. And she COULD have! She totally could have, and there I was, 100% expecting she would… then she didn’t. Because writers – even well-intentioned ones; even progressive ones; even ones fighting uphill not to fall into the story trap The Patriarchy created; yes, even my own beloved author – have the darnedest time letting women in a man’s story do anything that would mean the man’s ultimate upstaging. It’s just, the movie’s prologue had led me to believe that this was Isabelle’s story, too. Oh, well.

As for the second complaint, I maintain that there was chemistry – and desire, at least on Captain Robin’s part. Leave it to a mainstream movie not to go there. XP

Where are the POC?

So, am I remembering wrong, or were there ZERO (0) faces of color to be seen anywhere in the film? Maybe I missed somebody in a crowd scene somewhere, but even if we want to credit them so far as too assume that, crowd scene representation alone is pretty weak sauce. And we’ll just be generous and choose to assume that none of the giants were supposed to be of color, because I know DARN well that we all know better than to have the only non-whites be the monstrous bad guys, riiight?

C’mon, y’all. I don’t care if the movie was set in Fantasy Medieval England. I don’t care if it was set at the bottom of a bucket of white paint. Non-Caucasian people were not invented 40 years ago. They existed everywhere, and they did stuff. And even if they didn’t, they exist NOW, and a substantial number of them know how to act. GIVE [clap] THEM [clap] WORK [clap]. /End yelling.*

*…About this.**

**…For now.

<<<>>>

And that’s today’s review! What think ye? Have any of you seen this movie? Were you planning on it? (Are you now, since I did such a super fun job of hyping it up?) Any other fairy tale retelling films you wanna recommend, or warn me away from? Put it all in the comments! ‘Til next time, babes ~

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In Which Will [Scarlet] Watches Movies, Has Opinions

Hello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here.

Why? As in, why me, instead of Danielle, whose web space this supposedly is? Because I have an idea for a blog series, that’s why! Nothing as off-the-wall as “Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre”, nor as titillating as “Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell”, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it just the same.

WHAMO Logo

I call it “WHAMO!”, which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier.

That pretty much lays out the premise, right there. As for the “why” behind the idea, I’d say Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2, makes that fairly self-evident as well.

“You said we aren’t to allow ourselves to get too close to Outsiders anyway.”

“Yes, I did.” Will nodded. “I know I said that, and it’s very good advice. But, Allyn — she’s invited us to the movies!”

Allyn only looked at him.

“The mo-o-o-ovies!” Will reiterated. “[…]Big screen! Popcorn! 3D glasses, if we’re lucky! Do you have any idea how much or how long I’ve wanted to go to a movie? This is my dream, Allyn! You wouldn’t dance a merry jig all over the grave of your best friend Will Scarlet’s dream, would you?”

There you have it. I love movies. #ThatsCanon

So let’s kick off the series with a classic film I only saw for the first time this summer:

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Breakfast at Tiffany's poster

The IMDb-Official Description:

A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building, but her past threatens to get in the way.

From Paramount Pictures; directed by Blake Edwards; starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

“ ‘Moon River’! I know that song! Not well enough to sing it without screwing up half the lyrics, but Danielle, didn’t the pianist play it on that river cruise through Europe? Such nostalgia!”

“Hello, Upstairs Asian Caricature Neighbor Guy. When was this movie made?* How much offensive racism should we brace for?”

*(Answer: 1961. Ren Faire huzzahs to anyone who happened to just know that.)

“Hello, Leading Man Neighbor! Aren’t you just Ken Doll cute. Allow me to stare at you with a little too much interest.”

“Milk in a martini glass. I mean, why not.”

“Hahahahaha, get a still frame of his face reacting to this woman! That is the face of realizing you’ve stepped into a Manic Pixie Girl’s movie and she don’t need no man to dream it.”

“THAT’S a hat! Hat approved! Hat coveted!”

“Your ‘decorator’, hmm? Suuure.”

“That was one sketchy weather report.”

“Heck yes, climb in his bedroom window and snuggle with him shirtless. It’s like you read my mind.”

“#PaulBaby *laughs for days*”

“This party scene is killing me in the best way…”

“Creeper alert! Wait … no? … I can’t tell if that’s even creepier or not. What year is it, again?”

“What a cute date day! What a cute couple! I ship it! I wonder when things will go wrong!”

“Aaaand there it is.”

“Fre-e-e-e-ed! Nooooo!”

“Lol, the prospect of prison. That’s always fun…”

“What?! You’re still gonna leave?! Aargh!”

“Ca-a-a-a-at! Nooooo! Seriously, you’re just upsetting Allyn, now!”

“Okay, good, Allyn’s okay now. Huzzah!”

More Coherently Summarized:

That was actually a pretty good movie! Y’never know with “classics” – (no offense, entire Robin Hood legend) – but I’d say this one held up pretty well. The leads had charm, the script was quirky and hilarious, the plot liked to twist away from the predictable formula of modern romantic comedies (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on in the least. I love me some rom-coms. Just, you gotta admit there’s a mold).

Where are the POC?

Though comparatively unproblematic on the whole, for an older film, you gotta cringe a little at Upstairs Asian Caricature Neighbor Guy. No way they’d hang onto that in a modern remake. And, uh, apart from the Asian lady sipping metaphorical tea in the background during party drama and maybe one or two black people in a crowd scene, it was a whole lotta white in Technicolor.

Maybe Danielle doesn’t feel personally affronted by these things, but I’m her brother from another plane of reality, and I watched “Dear White People” on Netflix, so you better believe I try to stay woke.

<<<>>>

So yeah, I think that’s the review format I’ll run with! Whaddaya think, guys? Looking forward to the next installment of the blog series or nah? …It better not be nah, because I’ve got at least two more movies off the top of my head that I’ve recently watched and have opinions about, so this series is here to stay for at least that long. ;D ‘Til next time, babes ~

Mini Muses: Behind the Brainstorm

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: Will Scarlet – swordsman, entertainer, legendary rogue

As Featured In…: The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart*: Mach Jenius, brainstorm

*(…Though he doesn’t actually show up until “Out of My Head”)

Mini Muses_Will and Mach

How Do You Feel You and Mach Are Most Similar?: “Easy,” Will declares. “We’re both ideas guys with, like, pretty much no ‘off’ button. We’ll try anything once – twice, if it’s the fun thing to do. If there’s a Lute/Luc character, they’ve got problems with us. And we’re cute as hell, and super supportive of our little artist friends.”

Most Different?: “Lucky son of an art attack can shapeshift. You don’t see me with any such cool superpowers – although I have proven impressively difficult to kill and keep dead.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Ooooh, tough call. Part of me wants to say the chapter where Mach and Annabelle go for a moonwalk, because watching them together just gets me right in the feels. But I gotta give it to the early scenes where The Guys fly out of Annabelle’s head and have to navigate not only her plane of reality, but her family.” Will cracks up laughing at the remembrance. “The whole thing is gold – this bit especially.”

“Can I get you guys something to drink?”

“Thank you, but we don’t wish to be a bother,” Wilbur said.

“Hmm,” said Dallas, stating clearly enough how much of a bother she viewed the whole world as being, at the moment.

“I’ll take a lemonade, if you’ve got some,” Uri volunteered.

“Fries with that?” Dallas asked flatly.

“If you’ve got those.”

Her soft mouth’s hard line at a downward slant, Dallas turned to go back upstairs. “I’m not making fries,” she tossed behind her.

“Somebody making fries?” Callie’s voice blared from above.

“No one is making fries,” Dallas bellowed back.

“Girl, you better make me some fries! My sister’s in the hospital! I’m too mad, right now!”

“I just…” a still-sniggering Will wipes his eyes. “It’s terrible your sisters will probably never read the novel, because their caricatures are everything.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “Oh, rude. I was gonna say me. But since I can’t, it’ll be Annabelle. Don’t look surprised, author! You know what you mean to me, and what it by extension has to mean to share a story with you, even if neither of us is exactly us. It’s magic. We’re magic. Go team.”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Will! And readers, stay tuned for the release of the “Inspired” novels … one week from today*!

*…Although you can totally preorder the ebooks right now!

Book 1 = Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Book 2 = Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Got any more questions for Will Scarlet 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!

Truly Great Songs, and All That

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestMe: Outlaws 2.5 releases on Wednesday. I need something special to hype the book. But what?

Will Scarlet: I’ve got just the thing! Allyn, you know how our new flash fiction collection highlights 45 different archaic words?

Allyn-a-Dale: Yes…?

Will: Throw together a summary-song that includes every one of them.

Allyn: Wha— Now? Right off the top of my head?

Will: Just that! Can do?

Allyn: Well, I guess this is what Father trained me for. [takes up his lute] All right. Here goes… everything.

Truly Great Words (In Musical Summary)

With Weltschmerz, a tale of our Robin Hood’s woes,

While Simony minstrel philosophy shows.

Tautoosious tells us of two of a kind,

And Senocular means that you’ll six times less likely be blind.

*

In Ostent, a Scarlet autumnal display.

And Gant-o’-the-Lute sighs for days Cumber-free,

Then makes light of normalcy, Natural-ly.

And rather than Reverence, see Hood treat with kings his own way.

*

Though not what he’s used to, you’ll find Natheless

That Sir Gawain likes his queen’s version of chess.

Autological’s tale… well, it is what it is,

While Accismus fakes a concern with the lingerie biz.

*

Deja luDeja lu… Yes, that’s twice the word’s seen.

And next, Sagittipotent shows Robin’s quirk.

Barbigerous and Adoral are comparably themed,

But one’s semi-bromance; the other, not suited for work.

*

In Lumming, two lady friends dance down the sky,

Then one Coxcomb stays true to his legend’s brand.

And Rivelled’s the upside of wrinkles in plans.

As for freeing Scarlet from Durance, we do it – but why?

*

Sherwood Ecophobia? Nay, here dwells my heart,

Among Alderliefest friends ever I’ve had.

And not Tralatiously are these words said:

My Men are all music, and glad am I to play a part.

*

In Gapeseed and Fallow, we follow the Fey.

And where there’s a Countervail, there is a weigh

(Ludicropathatic as that pun may be).

And in Caeseious, see why a census makes no sense for me.

*

Will: THIS IS BRILLIANT! I wanna try!

Allyn: B-but you can’t—

Will: Can, and WILL!

Onto Erinaceous, which may miss the point.

And who needs the Ramage, with bards to throw shade?

To have Truck with us is to have your day made;

No Pandiculation, here! This is one happening joint!

*

Ne-moph-ilous or Nemo-phil-ous? Who knows?

Suffice to say forests are loved by the Hoods.

No place to Convive like the outlaw-filled woods!

…Now watch Allyn Bowdlerize my verses; that’s how it goes.

Allyn: Did I think that proper, I’d do it Amain.

Alas, though, I fear it would not be Condign.

In games of songmaking, the clear Boot is mine.

No need for your face to Incarnadine. Try it again.

*

Will: Well, as you’ll not Beshrew my tuneful Moiety

(A fact which, in truth, Obfuscate-s me like whoa),

I’ll Pore on how to best to end this melody.

…Mm, nope, you just take it. We want it to Fadge well, you know.

*

Allyn: Ultracrepdiarian, I see you’re not;

And thanks to your letting the expert be heard,

This well-nigh Montivigant song that we’ve got,

With its ups and its downs, has at last used the last of the words.

The End

Me [with wild applause]: Huzzah for my Merry Minstrel! …and for his plus-one. X) How could anyone say no to buying the e-book now?

Will: Priced at just 99 cents? They’d be mad not to. Pre-order today, people! If we move enough copies, maybe I can talk Allyn into writing a ‘Thanks for Making Our Author a Bestseller’ song.

Allyn [laughing]: Consider it promised. ^_^

Writing Book Reviews: A Merry Guide

“Hey-ho, all! Will Scarlet, here, luminous fan-favorite* from the lately released Robin Hood fantasy, ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)’. If you’ve chanced to purchase the e-book edition (as opposed to the also-available paperback), maybe you’ll have come across the following message from the author, tucked away at the back.”

Thank you so much for reading my book! I hope you loved it. If you did (or, hey, even on the off chance you didn’t), would you please do me the invaluable favor of leaving a review on your online retailer(s) of choice?

You may or may not be aware of this, but just a few publicly posted sentences of feedback from a reader are a huge deal to the author. So if you’ve got an honest opinion and a handful of minutes, that is all I ask you share with the world. It will be much appreciated.

Thanks once again, and happy reading!

~ Danielle

“And if you’re a reader on the receiving end of that sort of authorial plea, you may have responded with something like this.”

Oh, but I’m no good at writing reviews.

Book Review Guide

“And hey, for all I know, that’s just the plain truth. After all, you’re not the writer here – just a regular person who read a book.

“But guess what, gorgeous? That’s all you need to be! Because your book review doesn’t have to be brilliant; it just has to be honest.**

“Even so, I know consolidating your genuine opinions into a basically coherent review can feel intimidating. That’s where this blog post comes in. A few of my Merry Men friends and I are going to break down the process and show you just how supremely simple writing a book review can be!”

Step 1: Ask yourself, Did I like [insert whatever book title here]?

Marion Hood, adopting the role of Hypothetical Reader A, says, “I absolutely loved it!”

Allyn-a-Dale, as Hypothetical Reader B, says, “I didn’t enjoy it.”

Little John, Hypothetical Reader C, says, “I have mixed feelings.”

“Great,” Will Scarlet replies to all. “Write that down.”

Step 2: See if you can pinpoint any reasons why.

“Reasons?!” cries HRA Marion. “It was just… gaaaauuugh, SO GOOD. So practically flawless! I loved everything!”

An unimpressed HRB Allyn says, “I thought the writing quality was poor. The characters all annoyed me, and the story just felt so… done to death.”

HRC Little John shrugs. “It was interesting to a point, but then dragged too long and got boring. Fun sidekick, though.”

“Fair,” says Will, nodding. “Write that down.”

Step 3: Would you recommend that others read this book?

“READ IT,” Marion demands. “Everybody read it, and somebody make it a movie!”

“If you liked [ostensibly similar book / movie / Broadway show],” Allyn says dubiously, “maybe this book will entertain you. Otherwise, I’d skip it.”

“Fairly sure I’m not this book’s intended audience,” says Little John. “Your mileage may vary.”

“Write that last bit down,” Will Scarlet directs. “And BOOM: You’ve each got yourself a book review!”

Step 4: Post what you’ve got on book review sites (like Goodreads) and dot-coms where the book is available for sale (like Amazon and Barnes & Noble) for the benefit of the author and your fellow bookworms alike!

I absolutely loved it! It was just… gaaaauuugh, SO GOOD. So practically flawless! I loved everything! READ IT. Everybody read it, and somebody make it a movie!

*

I didn’t enjoy it. I thought the writing quality was poor. The characters all annoyed me, and the story just felt so… done to death. If you liked [ostensibly similar book / movie / Broadway show], maybe this book will entertain you. Otherwise, I’d skip it.

*

I have mixed feelings. It was interesting to a point, but then dragged too long and got boring. Fun sidekick, though. Fairly sure I’m not this book’s intended audience. Your mileage may vary.

Will Scarlet grins. “See what I’m talking about? No university-level thesis paper required. Just a few sentences outlining your impression of the book, then choose how you many stars you wish to award. Other valid, even simpler reviews could include:

Super fun. Would definitely recommend.

*

A new favorite. Can’t wait to see what [author name] does next.

*

Reminded me of [some other story]. I really liked it.

“Piece of cake, right? So if you haven’t yet, why don’t you give it a try? For ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’, another Danielle E. Shipley title, and/or any novel, novella, or short story collection that’s had the honor of your readership. Even if you don’t fancy yourself any kind of writer, believe me, friend: Your words have power.”

* “Heck yes, I copped that description of me from a review! ;D”

** “Or, I mean, you could lie, but I’m not sure who that’d be helping, in the end.”

Shooting Hood in the Wood

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

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

And after a few minutes knocking my head against the blank, white wall of the page, trying to figure out how I wanted to introduce this post and its gallery of images, I came to an inspired remembrance: That sometimes, that’s what bards are for.

So I’m stepping aside ‘til after the main event. Take it away, Allyn-a-Dale!

<<<>>>

An author with a love of tales –

Particularly those retold

About a certain outlaw

And his band merry and bold –

Herself betook and several books

Into the German wood,

To shoot (with camera, not a bow)

A show of Robin Hood.

McKinley 04

Among the many models,

An especial favorite:

A YA reimagining

By another Robin writ.

Cody 02

A new addition to her hoard,

Centered around a Will;

A little younger than her taste,

But she enjoyed it still.

Donald 02

Here, Angus Donald’s grimmer take,

Narrated by myself.

(And purchased, ere the shop passed on,

From a Bristol Ren Faire shelf!)

Lawhead 02

Another tale of Scarlet –

Second in a trilogy

That lends a sort of Celtic air

To Hood’s mythology.

Old Ballads 02

A chance find, and a happy one,

Among used books for sale.

Old ballads – many of Robin Hood;

One even with “Allin a Dale”!

Pyle 05

No such tribute’s complete, says she,

Without a nod to Pyle,

Seen here reposed upon a tree

In harmonizing style.

Shipley 04.2

And last of all, but far from least,

The author’s own addition:

A brand new ballad joins its tune

To the honored Hood’s tradition.

<<<>>>

Beautifully told, thank you, Allyn! There are a few more book-in-the-woods shots where these came from, which will most likely find themselves on display on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

On that subject, don’t forget that following the Outlaws Tumblr is but one of several ways you can enter into my ongoing Rafflecopter giveaway! I certainly hope you’ll take advantage by some means or another; there’s cool stuff to win!

And if you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to drop everything and purchase your copy of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! (Via Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive…Take your pick!) Or, if you’ve already read the book, leave a review! Both are not only ways to earn giveaway points, but to fill an author’s sails with a blessed breeze. ❤

<<<>>>

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

What if robin hood were a woman?

Marion raises a brow. “She might have mentioned that before our wedding.”