Cover Reveal: The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale


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.

Cover and Spine, Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale


Allyn would have known Will Scarlet for a relation of Robin Hood’s even had he not been introduced as his cousin. Though clean-shaven, younger, and framed by thick locks of gold tinged with the color of his name, Will’s face was patently similar to Robin’s, with the same blue eyes that sparkled cheerily at Allyn when the two were presented to each other.

“And where’d you pick this fellow up, then, Robin?” he asked blithely.

“In my tent,” replied Robin, “with Marion.”

Will’s brows leapt toward his crimson cap’s pointed brim. “Wish I were Allyn!”


“Joking, joking,” Will waved aside Marion’s halfhearted rebuke. He coughed. “…Mostly. So, Allyn-a-Dale — looking to join the Merry Men, are you?”

“I don’t really know,” Allyn said doubtfully. “What are the Merry Men?”

To Allyn’s heart-thudding dismay, Will answered, “We’re an infamous band of outlaws.”

“Not really,” Marion hastened to jump in.

“Not anymore,” Little John amended.

“It’s complicated,” said Robin. “But we’re really not at liberty to tell you much more about it until we’ve spoken to Merlin.”

“That would be King Arthur’s chief counselor and illustrious wizard,” Will said in answer to Allyn’s questioning expression. “He literally runs the show around here, so—”

“No,” said Little John, his gaze a grim weight on Will Scarlet.

“Oh, would you chillax, you pedant?” Will huffed, facial muscles ticking with minor irritation. “I know you think the Outsiders have been using the word with nary a care to its meaning, of late, but I know what ‘literally’ means, and in this case, I literally meant ‘literally’!”

The marginal lowering of Little John’s brow silently warned what he would literally do to Will if he said that word but once more.

“And they’re off,” said Robin, shaking his head. “Don’t worry, Allyn, they only bicker like this when they’re both breathing.”

Allyn’s lips twitched toward the beginnings of a smile, but froze halfway, his mind only just now becoming fully conscious of what he’d heard. “Robin,” he said, fighting a sudden swell of anxiety. “Did Will just say we’re off to see a wizard?”

The Author’s Thoughts on the Cover

 The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy is my baby, so I knew its faces had to blow me away. For Book One’s cover, there were a couple elements I for sure wanted to highlight: 1, the forest (because SHERWOOD), and 2, the lute (because Allyn-a-Dale). The rest, I mostly left up to my designers – photographer Lars van de Goor, and his son Milan.

A couple drafts later, this was the gorgeous result. The elegant swirls! The delightful rosette on the spine! Of all the darling touches – a ROBIN perched over “Ballad”s second A! And, of course, the must-have lute sitting sedately amongst the trees.

The minstrel blue, the greenwood green, the magical splash of sunlight… This cover doesn’t just say “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”: It sings it.

About the Author

Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking.

She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany.

She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

Author Photo, Danielle E. Shipley, jpeg



I’m so versatile!

(How versatile am I?)

I’m so versatile, I use varied voices to post everything from writing advice, to poetry, to discourses on politics, philosophy, and God–probably ensuring that I displease at least two-thirds of my audience with every post I make!

For some reason, people decided to make an award for that sort of regular alienation. They’re thoughtful like that. Especially the good journalists over at The Grimm Report, who took some time off from grimly reporting scandalous doings in the realm of fairy tales, and noticed that, boy, I talk about a lot of different things.

Anyway, here are the rules for publicly admitting my versatility:
Number One: List the rules and regulations of this time honored tradition.
Doing that now.
Number Two: Display the badge of the Versatile Blogger Award for all the world to covet.

Versatile. 1605, from Latin versatilis, "turning, revolving, moving, capable of turning to varied subjects or tasks," from pp. stem of versare, "keep turning, be engaged in something, turn over in the mind," frequentative of vertere "to turn" (see versus).Wha-BAM.
Number Three: Include a link back to the blogger who was able to spot your genius.
Number Four: Divulge seven (7) interesting facts about yourself.
Getting there, getting there…
Number Five: Nominate fifteen (15) others for this outstanding achievement.
Fifteen  (15) whole others? Oh my. Well, I’ll see what I can come up with.

Seven interesting facts about me, eh? It would seem more appropriate to list seven versatile facts, showing that, beyond the bloggosphere, I have or am capable of many uses. If I can indeed scrounge up that many–I may be a versatile writer, but let’s see how versatile I am as a person…

1. I’m not bad at fixing house-stuff.
Sinks, hinges, floor tiles… basically, anything you might find broken in a vacated apartment. It comes of being the daughter of a property manager. It comes of many hours holding plumbing parts for Dad and passing him various tools. It comes, in other words, at a price greater than I would have shelled out for it.

2. I can pack a lot of things into a small space.
And I’m unreasonably proud of it. Meat into a freezer, leaves into a green waste can, clothes into a suitcase–I can get a lot of stuff into an improbably small space.
Again, learned this one from my father, the Grand Master Packer. Once, he’d stuffed the trunk and back seat full for travel. Then Mom decided she wanted to take an old-fashioned sewing machine home; the big foot-pedal kind. So Dad unpacked everything, put the sewing machine in the trunk, and 
repacked everything around it. I consider myself to have gained a black belt in his packing dojo, but I will never best the man.

3. I can martial art.
Speaking of dojos and belts and suchlike, I’m a white belt in Jiu Jitsu! #ImpressiveRight? Oh, shut up, I only just started. But I’ve been involved in Hapkido and Silat for longer, enough to get along. And before that, there were four years of fencing. So, some sword, some knife, some hand-to-hand. That’s decently versatile right there! Now, to hope I could defend myself with any of it…

4. I can sew(ish).
Speaking of that old sewing machine, I do have some… I won’t say skill, that’s incorrect. Talent? I’m not sure I have that either. I like to sew sometimes, okay? I designed and made a decent cape, I made a pillow and embroidered a Sig Sauer P220 onto it; the odd project like that.

5. I can climb stuff.
Roofs, trees, walls, that kind of thing. It’s not spectacular, and I don’t think it’s even especially unusual, but it is a tendency I’ve seen declining in today’s youth. Not enough kids finding all the ladder-less routes onto their roofs; not enough falling out of trees onto their foreheads on the sidewalk. Yes, I have done both. Explains a lot, yes?

6. I can draw.
Slightly better than I sew.

This is Syawn, the main character in Ever the Actor. This is also the absolute height of my drawing skill level. Yeah, this took me painstaking hours.

7. I can memorize really well.
Bible verses, dialogues, monologues, and especially lyrics. Anything I put my mind to memorizing, and some things I don’t. I love things with complexity or fiddly bits, like Tom Lehrer’s Lobachevsky and Elements, anything with quickly-sung lyrics like Dr. Suess vs. William Shakespeare, and anything with little to no linguistic frame of reference like the Skyrim theme.
But if I start getting smug over winning an award for memorizing like eighty verses in a week of camp or some such nonsense (Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall), I just remember that there are many people who memorize the entire Tanakh word-for-word, and my ego deflates back down to healthy levels. I’ll bow out against anyone who takes the Pentateuch in stride. O_o

And now to pass the award on to my fellow Jacks-of-many-subjects…

The Retcon Poet
Nothing by the Book
The Literary Man
The Usual Foolishness
Lila’s Twist

That’s fifteen, right? Pretend it’s fifteen. -_-