Life Update: A Huge New Chapter!

Well, friends, it’s been a while since I posted here, and I do apologize for that. If you’re following me on any other social media platforms you’ll know the gist of what’s been going on, and if not, I hope this will catch you up on the deets.

On November 4th, 2017, Drew and I packed up a UHaul van with all of our earthly belongings and hitched his old car Betty to a tow dolly on the back, and we left Chicago. Drew had lived there seven years, and I had been there eleven years, but it was high time for a brand new adventure. So off we went, and two days later we arrived in Orlando, Florida. We moved into our new place, began to buy new furniture (we had none with us) and started to settle in to a brand new city where neither of us had ever lived before.

Drew is working at his old job still – they’re letting him work remotely from a different office of the company. I have been working on some audiobooks for award-winning author Candace J. Thomas and also been preparing for upcoming opportunities here. We’re both auditioning and chasing dreams, and treading water till the next thing happens.

As far as creative pursuits go, Drew and I have spent the last seven or eight months taking a break from Disney Odyssey. We intend to get back to it soon, since we have so many still in the bank from the last round of viewings. But we’ve been very busy with Warda, our real creative brainchild.

Warda is a little bit Game of Thrones, a little bit Downton Abbey, with a dash of Agatha Christie thrown in. It’s luxurious and glamourous on the surface with heartfelt conflict and sociopolitical commentary underneath. It’s been a THRILLING experience to share it with the world for the first time – in May we started doing live streams of a roleplaying game set in the world of Warda (using the FATE system rules) on the One Shot Podcast Network’s channel on Twitch. We stopped doing those live streams in October right before we moved (for obvious reason) BUT the second big thing that came out of this venture is the podcast! You can check it all out here or here, or on your chosen podcasting platform. Even if you don’t know anything about tabletop RPGs, it’s a fantastic story, with great performances by all of our players and Drew as our primary GM (I drop in occasionally myself). Give it a try!

Despite the fact that we moved at the beginning of the month, I made sure to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month. This year’s theme and challenge I gave myself were unique: I wrote down short titles or phrases relating to Warda, one prompt for each day of November, and a few extra just in case. I challenged myself to respond to a new, randomly selected prompt every day, writing at LEAST the minimum of 1667 words (the projected daily minimum to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo). I told myself that I could write as much as I wanted, but I needed to have the minimum on each day’s prompt. This was an awesome plan! I gave myself weird and delightful and interesting prompts and I had FUN writing on each of them as the days trucked along. However, sometime in the middle of the month I found myself picking up each day with the previous day’s prompt, wanting to write more and ‘finish’ the scene, only to have the current day’s prompt yet to write. And sometimes I didn’t get to the current day’s prompt. But I didn’t count this against myself, since I was having fun and not censoring myself. I have several prompt yet to do, despite the month ending tonight (and despite the fact that I’ve passed 50k words!) so I intend to keep writing a bit every day and building those muscles up again to where they once were. I have, as you may know, been having some issues with ‘writer’s block’ and ‘impostor syndrome’ and other such hurdles, and I’m determined to shake it all off – FOR GOOD – and press on in my writing experiences and career. I’m looking forward to meeting some Orlando area writers soon – there appear to be several community groups I can join up with to meet fellow writers, take workshops, and support/be supported. I’ve never had a writing group or community before, not really, so I’m not sure what it will be like, but I’m happy to try it all out and meet some new friends!

The other magical thing that happened recently is small, talkative, and extremely cuddly. Yes, that’s right – we got a cat! Well, the cat got us. Found us. Whatever. On October 1st (with only a month left before we were supposed to move) we found a cat in Chicago. We took her inside for the night, then took her and had her microchip scanned the next day. We spent the next fourteen days frantically reaching out to the owners through the microchip company, but despite multiple voicemails and emails, they never contacted us or the chip company again. After ten days in Illinois, that’s animal abandonment, so we unexpectedly (but very, very happily) welcomed Queen Felicia to the family.

 

She hated the truck ride down to Florida but once we got here she was fine. She has filled our days with love, strange chirps, purrs, and nuzzles, and we love her more than we ever thought possible. She found us, and we’re so, so glad she did.

We are both missing our friends back in Chicago, but we’re eager for this new chapter to really settle into a rhythm. So many opportunities await, so many possibilities. We’re happy we made it here safely and we’re happy to get a chance at things we’ve always dreamed of.

Here’s to big leaps, and big dreams ahead!

~Aly

 

Slice of Pie: Danielle E. Shipley’s Wild and Sweet Fairy Tale Journey

For my next trick, I’ll pull a Danielle out of a hat! Or a Danielle-flavored piece of pie. Or a pie. Pie from a hat?

~A Slice of Pie!~

A tasty sample of something fresh cooked up by an artist of my choosing.

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Who are you?

The jury’s still out on that. Our best guess involves aliens and cybernetics, elemental magic and England, an alternate reality or two, and a few dozen people clamoring for control of a single mind. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll go with the name I use when trying to pass for human. Call me Danielle E. Shipley, wordsmith.

LE AUTHOR

Danielle E. Shipley

What’s your thing right now? That thing. You know. That thing over there. What is that?

Ah, this. I was just admiring the newly revealed cover of my next publication. I’ve been cranking out this series of fairytale mash-up novellas since mid-2013, and it’s all scheduled to come to a close this October with “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)”.

story

What do you love about this thing?

Well, for one thing, we’re talking about my book baby. That means I’m going to love it on principle, for it is the work of my hands – of my head – of my heart. Beyond that, the book belongs, in large part, to a minstrel. And a minstrel tale means music wafting through every page. Such stories as these delight me.

What do you hate about this thing?

It’s sad, dang it. And I mean, part of me likes sad. “Sad is happy for deep people,” I’ve heard it said. But good pain is pain nonetheless, and I’m not quite so far gone ‘round the bend that pain is my favorite. It’s also aggravating that I’ve still got several weeks to go before I can share my beautiful agony with the public!

When/how/where can people read the thing?

The official launch date is October 13th, 2015, though chances are people will be able to get their orders in at least a few days early. It will be available in both paperback (via Amazon and CreateSpace) and e-book (Kindle and Nook). And there’s going to be a multi-day online extravaganza party for the book’s release and the series’ farewell, to which absolutely everyone with a Facebook account is invited.

What thing would you do if you had all the money and time in the world right now?

I’m going to Disney World! I’m going to Broadway! I’m sailing the seas on my own pirate ship! I’m building a castle in Sherwood Forest, complete with a private library full of all-ll-ll the books! And I had better save that stop for last, since I’m probably never stepping foot outside that door again. Unless a wizard drops by with an invitation to adventure. Then I might. (Which reminds me, I also need to visit Hobbiton, New Zealand…)

What’s your new favorite thing that someone else has done/made?

My current aural obsession is the soundtrack from Dreamworks’ “The Road to El Dorado”. I’ve been playing the songs into the ground for months, and I’ve yet to get sick of it. So, congrats, Sir Elton John!

ALSO! One Megan Ann Jacobs (we were once Town Criers together at the Bristol Renaissance Faire) has written, directed, and is soon to present an original play! To quote the info on the invite I received:
Alone in a New York apartment, the god of comedy is melancholy, and he wants everyone to know it.

Though bound to find a new person to inspire and complete an unfinished story, Sebastian, the last remaining Greek Muse, mourns the passing of his latest instrument and friend, amusing himself by successfully spooking, pranking, and sabotaging every opportunity for a potential replacement.

Until Nikki.

Driven by her own personal demons, Nikki stubbornly battles with Sebastian for mastery of the apartment. Though fully engulfed in their feud, things get all the more complicated when the two are plagued by an over-involved landlord, a well-intentioned fiancé, and a dramatic Sebastian-orchestrated duel between the two that results in good old-fashioned police intervention. “aMUSEd” captures and explores our tendency to honor the dead by refusing to live, and leads us, through the ancient art of comedy, to live with the past and move forward.

I had the privilege of reading an early draft of the play, which was a delight  – doubly delightful, in fact, because Megan tells me the first spark of inspiration for “aMUSEd” was my very own novel (serendipitously titled “Inspired”). The play’s scheduled to show at Brumder Mansion in Milwaukee, September 25th – October 17th. You can bet I plan to be there!

Possibly the most important question… If your thing was a pie, what kind of pie would it be?

It can only be blueberry. Plenty of tartness amidst the sweet. The deep, dark blue of the sky in the night. And bleeding its juices all over the place, much like the mess it made of my heart.

YE OLDE REN FAIRE PHOTOBOMB of Danielle by me

YE OLDE REN FAIRE PHOTOBOMB (of Danielle, by me)

Danielle is one of the most pleasantly off-beat people I’ve ever met – and we met at the ren faire, so that says a lot. Her tales are fun and lavish and her words are always chosen with mischief, love, and delight. She plays the lute because she’s a hardcore bard, and she rocks out new fairy tales like it’s her job. Which it is. Check her out at Ever On Word and her Facebook author page for more sweet stuff!