Get your spoilers out of my face, internet

The last line of defence against spoilers. ‘La la la can’t see you can’t hear you, la la la la la’.

I saw a Star Wars spoiler today. Well, some Star Wars conjecture at the least, but in a way that’s still a spoiler.

I never seek out spoilers. The clue is in the name. They spoil the narrative, and a lot of hard work on behalf of the writers, filmmakers and editors in crafting a story that is fresh and exciting until the end is wasted.

For the same reason, I don’t go in for the whole wildly speculating about a story thing that many fans do. For instance, if you look on YouTube, you can find videos half an hour long dissecting the latest movie trailers to explain all the Easter eggs, references, and the potential significance of certain aspects.

I like to go into the cinema, or watch an episode of a TV show, or open a book, without preconceptions. Sometimes I even find the blurbs on the back of books and Blu-Ray cases to be too much of a primer.

So, naturally, I was very annoyed to have unwittingly stumbled upon what may or may not turn out to be a spoiler for the new, new, Star Wars trilogy.

And how did this happen, I hear you ask. Had I typed ‘really big Star Wars spoilers’ into Google? Was I attending the Day 3 Frustrating Know-It-All panel at StaWaSpoilCon17? Had I snuck into the scriptwriter’s house disguised as a watercooler? No.

My only mistake was to be on a newspaper website. Yep, they put the spoiler right in the article headline. I wasn’t even looking at an article related to film, entertainment or culture, so spoiling a Star Wars film I won’t get to watch for another nine months was very far from being at the fore of my mind. In fact, it was behind ‘disprove Bigfoot’.

The spoiler was right in the article headline. It was just sat there in plain sight, as comfortable and confident as a flasher at a nudist beach.

It was hard enough to avoid spoilers when article headlines only hinted at the information they contained. I’ve long since given up trying to avoid prematurely learning of plot points in Game of Thrones: partly because I realised I’m just not that into it, but largely because it was getting impossible to do so.

Assuming for a minute that you were friends with decent, reasonable people, who knew not to post anything explicit about the latest developments on their social media, you still had to navigate a maze of news and blog headlines that became less vague and coy with every season.

Articles accompanying the first couple of seasons would usually have headlines like: ‘GoT fans are distraught after last night’s episode’.

But now they often run along the lines of: ‘From X to Y – we run down the most brutal deaths on Game of Thrones so far’.

At the beginning I said that the spoiler I saw was actually just conjecture. I didn’t read the article, because I don’t want to know what the evidence was either way. At least this way it remains unproven, but the problem is it put an idea in my head that I didn’t have there before (StarWarsCeption).

Regardless of whether or not it turns out to be true, I’m going to watch Episode VIII (say what you like about the franchise – the Star Wars films have done a fantastic job of keeping our Roman numeral game tight) with preconceived notions.

I’m going to be looking for clues either way, and if they start point towards the thing I’ve read being true, that’s going to change the way I experience the rest of the film.

It seems like we are rapidly losing respect for the sanctity of the stories we consume. People give little thought nowadays to pasting the latest film and television spoilers all over the internet.

For instance, I never went to see the film Passengers in the cinema because somebody posted a major spoiler of it on Facebook. They hadn’t intended to – it was just that they had shared a link to a review of it and explained in a status why they disagreed, mentioning their different take on the plot twist.

What particularly annoyed me about this instance was that this person wasn’t even a friend of mine. I’m not connected to them at all on Facebook but, due to the pushy, parent-of-an-introverted-child urging them to ‘go out and play with others’ mentality of social networks, their status appeared in my feed because one of my friends had commented on it – ironically – calling them out for giving away the spoiler.

I want to be a blank slate when consuming stories. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

Clearly I’m being unreasonable, demanding to go on the internet between the release of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Who the hell do I think I am, using newspaper websites to do my job; reading around my interests in my free time; finding tips and ideas to better myself?

Giving away spoilers seems to have become something of an art form these days. It’s like reverse clickbait. Unlike the tired practice of making something pedestrian and planned seem intriguing with the use of a few dire clichés (‘You’ll Never Believe What Rewan Did After Writing This’ – spoiler; went to bed), the art of slapping people in the face with information they don’t want to know is quickly gaining followers.

Sometimes people are going to type things without thinking, and that’s sort of okay. But when you’re writing the headline of an article about a spoiler, it’s bloody hard to not be aware that you are giving away a spoiler.

Is it really so difficult to keep the key information hidden? Would you really harm your rate of engagement if people had to actually read the article to find out what the spoiler was?

Surely not: the type of people you are aiming to attract to an article on Star Wars spoilers are people who are mad for Star Wars spoilers.

People who don’t want spoilers aren’t going to read articles about spoilers, because the information contained within is useless to them. Ergo, why put it in the headline at all?

People who want to know will read; people who don’t will not – nothing changes to the downside, and there are fewer pissed off Star Wars fans floating around the internet.

These sites need the clicks to pay for advertising, but they aren’t going to get clicks from the people who aren’t interested in the article content. So why are they giving that information away in the headline as though it’s a present? Of all the times to be philanthropic…

It’s like offering a lifetime supply of free bacon to vegans, kayaking lessons to a desert tribe, or great literature to fans of [insert author you hate here]*.


*Yeah, that’s right. We did a joke together. Squad goals.

Do you try to keep spoiler-free? Is it getting more difficult, or am I just imagining it? Let me know in the comments section.

*             *             *

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Killer robots – probably not a good idea

MQ-9_Reaper (2007)

This week Stephen Hawking, along with more than 1,000 other experts in the fields of robotics, AI, and the idea of not killing people, signed an open letter calling for the ban of Killer Robots. Actually known as ‘Offensive Autonomous Weapons’, these are drones with built in AI, allowing them to make kill-decisions and fire their weapons without the input of a human pilot. We’re not there yet in terms of technology, but the reality is getting close enough that people like Noam Chomsky felt the need to do something about it.

I think they’re right to seek a ban on this technology. We can’t even make self-service machines for supermarkets that work properly – how on Earth are computer-controlled weapons going to be able to reliably and safely make the right decisions regarding who to shoot at? Or are we going to find situations where a drone stops and repeatedly bombs a small bookshop by accident until a member of the army wanders over and swipes their ID card?

It’s bad enough that killing each other is such a huge part of our existence. Do we really want to take that practice out of our hands? Do we want to autonomise something we should be preventing? I’m not entirely idealistic; I know there are times when bullets are going to be needed because not all people have enough humanity left in them to reason with. But the idea that killing, like shopping or paying the electricity bill, should be automated seems as irrational as being trapped on a sinking ship and using the internet to Google the most efficient way of drowning. We’ve forgotten that killing isn’t a vital part of our daily routine. It’s not like putting the bins out.

Computers shouldn’t be in charge of human life. Arguing about how advanced the AI is or isn’t is in many ways moot. What’s more important is the fact that the drone will never be able to feel. Pulling the trigger, dropping the bomb, will never take a toll on it. Not that soldiers with PTSD is a perk of war, but there needs to be some humanity involved in the decision to take a human life. What makes us better than those who would destroy us is that we feel any pain that we cause. Even if you look at it from a purely objective, evolutionary point of view, an aversion to killing one’s own species is necessary for that species to survive. No one should die without someone, somewhere, feeling something.

The murders that shock us the most are the ones where the killer acts completely nonchalantly afterwards. That lack of compassion or even understanding shakes us to our very core.

So how could we ever be comfortable with a robot that can destroy a town and then drift off silently into the sky, registering nothing more than: ‘Mission Accomplished’?

If Zoella did need a ghostwriter, why is she writing books at all?

Zoella Girl Online
Zoe Suggs – AKA Zoella – with her new book, Girl Online, which has become the fastest selling debut novel of all time. Image Credit: Nerve Media

Beauty and fashion blogger Zoella has become one of the UK’s biggest YouTube stars. With six million YouTube subscribers, nearly 2million Facebook Likes, and 2.6million Twitter followers, Zoella has amassed a legion of fans, and is a demonstration of the powers of social media when used correctly. She’s even released her first novel, although perhaps a writer she is not.

Girl Online has become the fastest selling debut novel of all time, recording 78,000 copies in its first week. The writer part of me wants to be mad about that, but the business part of me understands how branding works, and thinks that’s fair enough. Maybe. Except that it’s now emerging that Zoella collaborated with a ghostwriter to craft her record-breaking debut. Depending upon which sources you trust (from Zoella to the broadsheets), she either had help, a co-author, or someone who wrote the whole book for her.

Penguin, the publishers of Girl Online, have said in a statement, that “to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own”.

Zoella herself has said that she of course had help – this is her first novel, after all. In her acknowledgments she thanks two known Penguin ghostwriters: Amy Alward and Siobhan Curham. Alward was Zoella’s editor for the book, but the extent of Curham’s contribution is what is causing speculation. A deleted blog post from Curham’s blog suggests that a publisher asked her to write an 80,000 word novel in six weeks, which coincides with the timings and lengths of Zoella’s announcements regarding the book, and the book itself. Hardly conclusive, but worth an ‘hmmmm’.

If it turns out that, in fact, Zoella’s only contribution to the book was to have her name put on the front and sign lots of copies, we shouldn’t be surprised. In the same way we shouldn’t be shocked that Katie Price didn’t write any of her books. Or that not every footballer who releases an autobiography has suddenly become articulate and literary enough to tell their own story. It’s not unexpected. But it is wrong.

Here’s why. Zoella is a very talented and hardworking person. She’s done a great thing to become so well known and build her brand. Kudos to her. Vlogging, blogging, social media marketing – that’s her thing. She’s good at that. But if she used a ghostwriter to write her book, she’s pretending to be good at something she isn’t.

The charts are full of books that are being bought because of the name on the cover and not the content of the pages behind it.

We see it a lot with pop stars who suddenly decide they want to be actors. They’re too famous and successful for anyone to tell them the truth – that acting requires a lot of talent and hardwork, and is very, very different from writing and selling a few million albums – so they go for it, and everyone encourages them. It usually turns out to be bad.

Celebrities who use ghostwriters are making it all about branding. The charts are full of books that are being bought because of the name on the cover and not the content of the pages behind it. Sometimes it’s fine – many celebrities and other people have great stories that deserve to be told, but don’t have the skills to express it themselves in a compelling and accurate way. But Zoella’s book isn’t her autobiography, it’s a work of fiction.

If Siobhan Curham wrote Girl Online on her own, she should be getting the credit. She is the writer with the skillset and drive to create the book.

There’s plenty of great fiction out there struggling to get noticed. Fantastic works that deserve much more credit than they are getting, but are ignored because their writers haven’t yet built up a huge platform from which to market themselves. Zoella is a brand, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t use that brand to promote products and make money. But why is she going into fiction when there are a lot of relevant industries she could be working with. As far as I’m aware, Iain M Banks never released his own nail varnish. Robin Hobb doesn’t have her own set of curling tongs on the market. Yet those are products, not works of art. It’s OK to endorse something like that, because no one expects you to do 10 hour shifts in the factory that makes them.

What is worst about this, assuming it is all true, is that it once again reinforces the idea that celebrity is an adequate replacement for talent. If Siobhan Curham wrote Girl Online on her own, she should be getting the credit. She is the writer with the skillset and drive to create the book. Zoella says the characters and story are her own, but a lot of people I have talked to have tried writing a book at some point in their lives. Coming up with a story and characters is only a small part of the process. The part she may have missed out is the hard work and drudgery – the bit where mediocre ideas can be realised as fantastic concepts and situations.

People who can’t really sing have albums in the charts, pop stars are in major Hollywood films (and often doing a terrible job), and people who can’t write books have bestselling novels sitting at the top of the book charts. Why is this happening? Why have we entered an age where having people know who you are is more important than actually being good at something?

But Zoella is talented. It just might be that she doesn’t have the ability to write books (or that she doesn’t know that she has because she has never actually tried it). Why is she diversifying into a format she isn’t familiar with when there are so many natural avenues open to her?

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got to get busy making my name as a writer so I can finally achieve my dream of having my own brand of cupcake moulds.

Do you think Zoella wrote Girl Online? Does it matter if she didn’t? Tell me your thoughts in the comment’s box below.

Black Friday chaos – was it worth it?

"Ima get an Xbox" - "The Shoppers" by William Glacken. Source: Wikimedia Commons
“Ima get an Xbox” – “The Shoppers” 1907-1908 by William Glacken. Source: Wikimedia Commons

UK retailers will be incredibly happy in the run up to Christmas. Some imported products don’t do well in other countries. You’d think that, without the exposition of Thanksgiving the day before, Black Friday would be one of them. It wasn’t.

Retailers expected around £720million of sales, but us British were determined to show that we can become mindless, frenzied madman for a half-price electric toothbrush like the best of them, and racked up £810million worth of online spending. We spent more on Black Friday this year than we did on Cyber Monday for the first time in history. That’s being considered an achievement by some, although if I were to spend a personal best on Batman comics I doubt my fiancé’s first reaction would be to give me a certificate.

I, like so many other British people, watched the chaos in disbelief. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good bargain. I’m just not prepared to take part in a reconstruction of the final battle from The Dark Knight Rises just to save 80 quid on a telly. Bargains are important, and being able to save money is a very useful life skill. But what happened to the thing we British are so valued and famed for: what happened to our decorum?

…if you’re fighting a woman for a pair of knickers, today is clearly going wrong for you.

There used to be a time when we wouldn’t even show any emotion at our own parent’s funerals. And while I’m not saying the displays of emotion should be reserved to doffing our hats and challenging blaggards to duels, I do think perhaps we could do with a little lesson in restraint. After all, if you’re fighting a woman for a pair of knickers, there should be a point where you wonder why today’s going so wrong.

In previous years is was us who looked at the displays of violence and desperation in America’s Black Friday sales and shook our heads. And yet in just a few short years that has become us. Whatever happened to queueing? Whatever happened to the British who would queue through the Apocalypse in order to get on the one spaceship to leave Earth safely? What happened to the people who would rather die than trouble those nice ambulance people?

Could it be the recession? Did Black Friday give us the chance to do Christmas at a more affordable price? It’s nice to be able to spend money again, and spend money we did; John Lewis sold a tablet per second on Black Friday (source: The Guardian). Maybe we were so frantic because we wanted to make sure that our children, families, and loved ones had the presents they deserved this year, without us having to break the bank to do it. Christmas is, after all, a rather strenuous time for family finances. Can anyone really be blamed for trying to save some money?

Build it and they will come. Or, rather: reduce it and they will beat the pants off each other to get to the checkout.

But when you see that the people who were so desperate to get hold of television sets at an £80 discount are now trying to sell them on eBay, you have to wonder.

Should the consumers be to blame? We’ve been conditioned to want things, and it’s natural to want the lowest price. Getting bargains is common sense. Saving money is a talent to be respected. If you leave a plate of biscuits alone in a room with a Golden Retriever for an hour, can you really be surprised when you come back and find that it has eaten them all? Build it and they will come. Or, rather: reduce it and they will beat the pants off each other to get to the checkout.

Britain has managed to survive all the other major sales we get throughout the year. Perhaps the news is just trying to play up to the Black Friday stereotype.

What we have to remember is that ‘Britain enjoys Black Friday deals in an orderly and dignified manner’ would be a very boring news headline. Of course we’re going to hear about the places where people went wild. Of course we’re going to see two people locked in a deadly duel to the death with a pair of ladles over a set of non-stick frying pans. Not everyone went Black Friday crazy. Many people just got on with it, the shops were a little busier, and lots of people got a good bargain. Britain has managed to survive all the other major sales we get throughout the year. Perhaps the news is just trying to play up to the Black Friday stereotype.

But it does leave me saddened. I’m not against consumerism, and I think that what some people call materialism I would call enjoying life. But to see people get this desperate, this frantic, over a saving is rather embarrassing. Fighting over discount televisions…is it really worth it? Is it worth having to be that person: the one on the news, the one at whom the world shakes their heads, just for a bargain?

Did you grab any Black Friday bargains? Tell me your Black Friday stories below.

Danielle E. Shipley book launch – The Sun’s Rival

Those with a particularly sharp mind may have deduced from a short series of dastardly subtle clues that today’s post is going to be about a book launch. Danielle’s imaginative re-tellings of popular fairy tales bring a new level of magic and wonder to the stories we all think we know so well. And now it’s time for the hotly anticipated 5th installment in the Wilderhark Series. So read on folks, and enter the competition to get your hands on some fantastic book-themed goodies.

The NovellaThe SeriesExcerpt
The Author

Spot Danielle E. Shipley in the wild: Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads.


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Halloween Prize book one – The Memory Game by Sharon Sant

Sharon Sant – The Memory Game (YA ghost story)

The Memory Game CoverIf there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying.

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her.

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

The Memory Game is a ghost story like none you’ve seen before.

An amazon bestselling eBook

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About the Author

Sharon Sant was born in Dorset but now lives in Stoke-on-Trent. Aged eight she wrote a poem about ET, which received the ultimate praise of being pinned onto the classroom wall, and from that moment on she knew she’d never stop writing. She graduated from Staffordshire University in 2009 with a degree in English and creative writing. She currently works part time as a freelance editor and continues to write her own stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes across many genres, when not busy trying in vain to be a domestic goddess, she can often be found lurking in local coffee shops with her head in a book. Sometimes she pretends to be clever but really loves nothing more than watching geeky TV and eating Pringles. Young adult novels Sky Song, The Young Moon and Not of Our Sky (the Sky Song trilogy) and Runners were all released in 2013 to glowing reviews. The Memory Game is her sixth novel. She is currently working on a series of Runners prequel stories, the first of which is scheduled for release early 2014.

Twitter: @sharonsant

Sign up to win a signed copy of The Memory Game and four other fantastic novels

Win 5 books for Halloween

How would you like to get your hands on five spooky, scary, or fantastical signed paperback books? I have teamed up with fellow authors Mark Wilson, Sharon Sant, Calum Kerr, and Danielle E. Shipley to create a Halloween-themed prize pot for all the book lovers out there.

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We have an exclusive competition mailing list (which won’t be used for anything else – your details are safe), so all you need to do is enter your email address and on Halloween one lucky winner will be selected at random.

What are you waiting for? Five free books, signed by their authors.

Click the image above to go to the sign up page now!

We don’t want our Scottish brothers and sisters to leave

I’ve toyed for quite a while with the question of whether or not I should write something about the Scottish independence referendum. I have my own opinion, and while I agree that as an Englishman I shouldn’t get a vote, it is my country that will be broken up in the event of a victory for the Yes campaign, so that gives me the right to have an input.

I believe the United Kingdom is better off together. And the keyword is ‘believe’. I’m not telling any Scottish people what to do, or how to vote, or wanting to deny them what they think is rightfully theirs. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media by pro-independence campaigners listing the things that supports of the No campaign are voting ‘against’, including a more democratic Scotland, a fairer society, et cetera. But that’s not true, I’m not talking about the objective truth, but subjective truth. The No campaigners aren’t saying that they believe Scotland will be a better place with independence, but are still voting no regardless. People who are voting No are doing so because they believe the vision that Alex Salmond has promised is not the Scotland he can deliver.

You probably don’t need an English person to help you make your minds up. My input may not sway you. However it is because, like the No campaign, I believe that the United Kingdom is better together, that I cannot allow myself to sit here and say nothing. I can’t claim to support the union if I keep that support to myself.

The thing I think it’s worth remembering is that a lot of the Yes campaign criticise David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and all the other political figures who got involved, for being politicians. Yet at the same time they seem to view Alex Salmond is something else. He’s become a Scottish hero, a crusader for right in Scotland. But he, too, is a politician. He also has an agenda.

Every time the No campaign has issued a warning about independence it’s been seen, labelled, and interpreted as a threat or scaremongering. But the No campaign believes those things to be true. They may be warnings, yes, but they are just doing what they believe they need to do in order to make sure that the Scottish public know exactly what they’re voting for or against. Just because the facts may not agree with your facts doesn’t mean stating them is a threat.

The other trend I’ve noticed is that Alex Salmond and the Yes campaign seem to be working on ideologies and vague promises, rather than deliverable goals. I have read articles by Yes supporters that claim that independent Scotland will end bigotry, for instance. Alex Salmond is painting a picture of independent Scotland as a social utopia. Everyone needs will be catered to; every voice will be listened to; everyone gets a free unicorn. A more democratic Scotland, Salmond says.

And it’s a nice promise. It’s a nice thing to think of, and I totally support the Yes campaigners when they say they are fed up of the Tories, and Westminster. We have all been betrayed by them. However I believe that simply the process of the referendum, and a demonstration by the Scottish people about how much anger there is, has created the realisation that politics in the United Kingdom need to change. David Cameron has openly admitted that he and the Tories aren’t popular, which is the first step towards making changes to bring them more in line with what the voters actually want.

But politics is politics. Alex Salmond, and all the other Scottish politicians who will be elected, will still be politicians. Some of then will still be corrupt, they will still look after their own agendas, they will still ignore the voters if it doesn’t fit with their ideas. There are two things Salmond has done which are demonstrate that he is working to an agenda.

First of all, the ‘Them and Us’ divide he has created is based upon the idea that the English are capable of extreme evils that the Scots would never participate in. As I mentioned before it is Westminster that is viewed as corrupt. The campaign creates the idea that only an English politician can be corrupt. A Scottish politician could never be so selfish, arrogant, or disconnected with his voters. It’s what the man-haters who give feminism a bad name do to –they claim that any evil ever perpetrated by woman is because the patriarch has forced them to. Again, those hardline, extreme feminists believe that a world run by women would be a utopia.

And these are easy claims to make when you have never been in a position to demonstrate their veracity. Similarly I could go around telling everybody that I am extremely brave because I have never been faced with a situation in which courage was required. The fact is at the end of the day you’re voting for people. The vote comes down to whether you think that someone who lives maybe 100 miles away from you is a better person than someone who lives 500 miles away from you.

The other thing Salmond has done is to focus public anger on a wide range of topics against one single target: Westminster. Cameron should recognise this tactic well, as it is the same thing he did when he created a campaign of hatred against people on welfare in order to distract everyone from other Tory mistakes such as the expenses scandal. Salmond has taken the anger of the Scottish people against politicians in general and has directed it at the nationality. Being British is the problem, he claims.

This is just my perspective of an outsider. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, but I can’t claim to support the union if I won’t even voice my opinion about it. I am perhaps in the silent majority of English people who value Scotland as a vital part of our country, and respects the Scottish people as much as any other. Because that’s the greatest tragedy. This referendum campaign has divided as into two separate peoples. Regardless of the result we are already Scottish or English. And I don’t want to be one of the people that gets caught in the crossfire. I firmly believe that with the events going on across the world, we need more unity than ever before. I oppose the idea of Britain pulling out of the EU for the same reason. Together we are stronger, and we have more power. Boarders divide us, spread discontent, and turn neighbours into foreigners. What we need is to come together as human beings, as people, in order to solve a problem.

A change in British politics benefits the rest of the UK as much as it does the Scottish. So stay with us, and let us all work together, united, to change our country for the better.

Cover Reveal: The Sun’s Rival, by Danielle E. Shipley

The Suns Rival Danielle ShipleyThe Sun’s Rival

Next to the uncommon beauty of her sisters, Princess Laraspur feels invisible, until she learns the two most powerful kings in the world have their eyes fixed upon her. But the ensuing double-courtship goes horribly awry, requiring Laraspur to brave the secret perils of earth, sea, and sky, on a quest that will try the very essence of her being.

The Sun’s Rival

Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales

The Wilderhark Tales

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

About the Author:

Danielle E. Shipley Author Photo, Amazon JPEGDanielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it at


“Sun’s Rival” Release Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Future Availability: Paperback ( and and eBook ( and

Add “The Sun’s Rival” to your Goodreads shelf today!

Cover Artist: Yana Naumova


Book Two in progress

TypewriterNext year Laslo Kane will be returning in another paranormal comedy that mixes gangsters and ghosts, trilbies and terror. I’ve been plotting both on paper and in my head, and have recently passed the 10,000 word mark on the first draft.

It’s always great to get back into the creative side of writing. The last few months of Fallen on Good Times were about fine tuning, editing, and marketing. It’s a very binary process, involving reading the text through until my eyes bled, looking for mistakes, inconsistencies, and continuity errors. You always love the book, the story, and the characters, but it wears a little thin.

So to be sitting facing an empty Word document, with nothing but a blinking cursor and a head full of ideas, makes for a very nice change. Hitting those important marks does remind you how far you have left to go, but that’s half the fun. Anything could happen in the other 70,000 words. My writing process is very loose and flexible, so I get to discover the story as I write it. It allows me to have the same experience as you will when you have the finished copy in your hands or on your Kindle. I know roughly what it’s about, but I’ve already digressed from my plot outline in the first 10K, so I have no doubt even I’ll be surprised.

You definitely will. This one’s weird. That much I can already promise.

Photo Credit: Gary Bridgman,

Buy the first paranormal detective Noir starring Laslo Kane: Fallen on Good Times now

Fallen on Good Times Front Cover

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