Cover Reveal: The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale

Ladies and Gents,

It's my very great privilege to participate in the cover reveal of Danielle E. Shipley's next novel, The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale. Danielle is one of my favorite emerging authors, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into this work. This looks to be one tantalizing series!

Novel Title: 

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale

Series Title, Number:

The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One


Danielle E. Shipley


Contemporary Fantasy / Young Adult

Novel Release Date 

July 12, 2016


Author Website

Cover Artwork by

Lars van de Goor and Milan van de Goor

Novel Summary

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.

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.

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 Miles.

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.


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?”

KINGDOM CITY: REVOLT Blog Tour and Giveaway

Author:  Ben Ireland
Pages: 516
Format:  Paperback, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  publisher
Category:  Dystopian/young adult dystopian
Style:   High tension action/adventure set in a near-future dystopian society, with science fiction and urban fantasy elements, written in a fast-paced style that can be at times gut-wrenching; rare vulgarities, significant violence in battle and in laboratory
Giveaway: Scroll down to enter! or visit Rafflecopter or the XP Facebook page.

Paul Stevens has survived a terrorist attack, medical experimentation, and an attempt by the government to “neutralize” their rogue subjects. However, his escape cost him his wife, and now he battles to overthrow Brian Shuman, the dictator responsible for her death. With the kidnapping of his daughter and the disappearance of his son, he must choose between saving what may remain of his family or the fledgling rebellion on the verge of collapse.

About this book:

People can surprise you. Case in point: at Xchyler Publishing, we conduct short story contests anonymously. That means none of the judges know who have written the submissions they're adjudicating. Thus, it came as quite a surprise to learn that Ben Ireland had written "Kissed a Snake," ultimately a winner that was included in A DASH OF MADNESS: A THRILLER ANTHOLOGY, published in 2013. You see, the Ben Ireland I knew was a quiet, mild-mannered young man who never talked much, who spent a great deal of time chasing after his two young children in the foyer at the church we both attended. He was the youth who graduated high school with my son shortly after his family moved from Australia. Squeaky clean.

THE BOOKMINDER Blog Tour & Giveaway

Author:  M. K. Wiseman
Pages: 444
Format:  Paperback, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  publisher
Category:  Historical fantasy
Style:   High fantasy written in a mature but approachable voice, ideal for young adult and adult market, with good character development and world-building
Giveaway: Scroll down to enter! or visit Rafflecopter or the XP Facebook page.


Sired by magick and violence, sixteen-year-old Liara is found guilty of witchcraft and banished from her tiny village by the very priest who raised, then betrayed her. However, a mysterious mage steps forward to assume custody of her: Nagarath, the Wizard of Parentino, whose secret spellwork has long protected both Liara and Dvigrad from the ravages of war.

Despite Liara’s best hopes, Nagarath refuses to apprentice her to his craft but tasks her instead with the restoration of his neglected library. Liara gleans what magickal knowledge she can on the sly, determined to learn, come what may. But the first test of her stolen knowledge goes awry and renews an evil wizard’s interest in the people of the Limska Draga valley.

Only by tapping Liara’s inherent magick and joining it with his own can Nagarath protect Parentino from suffering a horrible fate. However, her discovery of his secrets destroys their fragile trust and ignites the darker tendencies of her gift. Now, he must rescue her from the influence of his mortal enemy before their powerful new alliance destroys them all.

M. K. Wiseman
Author M. K. Wiseman

About this project:

As a release of Xchyler Publishing, THE BOOKMINDER has probably been the most challenging for me both as editor-in-chief and as the content editor. Since 2013, the manuscript has gone through multiple production delays (can you say two brides?), at least three different content editors, multiple rewrites, a lengthy titling process, and lots and lots of collaboration with the author and our associate editor, Jessica Shen Fessler. With all the hitches, signing the amazing Egle Zioma to do the cover was an effortless slam-dunk. As the first installment of a three-part series, we wanted to get it right, all the work promised to deliver, and I took it on as a personal challenge to bring this project to fruition.

In the interim, Wiseman published two more short stories with Xchyler, including "Downward Mobility" in LEGENDS AND LORE: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions (2014), "Silver Scams" in MECHANIZED MASTERPIECES 2: An American Anthology (2015). Her original work, "Clockwork Ballet" which first brought her to Xchyler's attention, appeared in MECHANIZED MASTERPIECES: A Steampunk Anthology (2013).

Despite all the setbacks, and delays we remained invested in this work because it's a great story. At the beginning of the endeavor, we outlined the entire series, and it promises to be an engrossing and entertaining hero journey that spans a continent. I confess, my love of history and Wiseman's knowledge of her time period strongly influenced our decision, and, just as THE BOOKMINDER provides a glimpse into the Istrian peninsula on the shores of the Adriatic at the time of the Venetian Republic, the Renaissance in full bloom, further installments promise to be as sumptuous as the court of Louis XIV.

Wiseman's world building is imaginative, her magical laws and theories fresh and well-thought-out, and her characters are not your run-of-the-mill YA coming-of-age grist. The setting and the premise are unique, her knowledge of her historical material impeccable. To say this book is well-researched is an understatement. In short, this work has been well-worth the pains of hammering out the challenges, and all of us learned a great deal along the way.

Liara is an orphan, raised as a ward of the Church but forever a second-class citizen in her tiny village due to the origins of her birth. To say she has a chip on her shoulder is an understatement. Liara is desperate for love and affection, but for her this translates into kleptomania and resentment. Not until a rumored mage appears from no where to take her into his custody does she begin to trust and discover there is more to herself than the magic she craves but has been forever denied. Under Nagarath's watchful eye, she at last gains the home she felt she had been denied all her life. And learns to appreciate the gifts she had already been given.

As for Nazareth, he presents as the classic absent-minded professor making all the wrong choices for all the right reasons. His efforts to protect Liara from the secrets of her past produce the opposite of his intent, and threaten to destroy everything Liara has grown to be in his custody. I most enjoy the relationship between Liara and Nazareth that becomes one of equality and mutual trust, and a growing realization that the mage is as much dependent upon Liara's friendship as she is upon his. The big question is, can they get over the wounds of their mutual past before it destroys the future promised by their fragile coalition?

Bottom Line:

Wiseman's characters are multidimensional, flawed, and in serious need of personal growth. They may prove a challenge to readers of fantasy who expect to find their heroes charming and surrounded by a halo of light from the opening page, but the rewards of getting to know them are well worth the effort.

Wiseman doesn't hold the reader at arm's length, but lets her own wealth of experience shine through, her characters getting up close and personal. Doing so allows them to feel meaty, rather than the cloying cotton-candy variety that one finds too often in YA fare. It's also a delight to stumble upon the little Easter eggs nestled within the text, each a small omage to Wiseman's personal experiences as a librarian, musician, and of Croatian extraction.

More cool stuff on this blog tour:

Make sure to follow each stop of the blog tour for the opportunity to enter our give-away every single day. Check out our Rafflecopter giveaway below, or check out the website here.

We're celebrating the release of THE BOOKMINDER by M. K. Wiseman with a blog tour and Rafflecopter give-away! Visit each blog each day for more chances to win lots of great prizes. If you like epic fantasy, you'll love this coming-of-age tale of magic and wizards set in the Renaissance era.

January 9-16, 2016

Saturday, 01-09 Bookwhizz
Sunday, 01-10 M. K. Wiseman
Monday, 01-11 Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind
Tuesday, 01-12 Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Wednesday, 01-13 The Howling Turtle
Thursday, 01-14 Dreams to Become
Semi-short Chic
Friday, 01.15 JD Spero
Books in the Spotlight
Saturday, 01-16 Creativity from Chaos
Rambling Reviews

Don't forget to enter our blog tour Rafflecopter give-away below, on the blogs above, 
on  our Facebook page, or on  Rafflecopter, with daily chances to win!

BEYOND THE WAIL Book Review and Blog Tour

BEYOND THE WAIL: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About today's author: A. F. Stewart:

A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, sword collecting, and oil painting. Ms. Stewart is an indie author with several published novellas and story collections in the dark fantasy and horror genres, with a few side trips into poetry and nonfiction. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

Author Interview:

1. How did you come up with the concept of your story?
I’ve always loved ghost stories, so that’s what I decided on when I went to write my paranormal tale. And since the submission theme of the Beyond the Wail anthology was “Losers Weepers”, the the La Llorona, or “The Weeping Woman” ghost story seemed an ideal place to start. I also threw in some inspiration from the eerie tales of the “White Lady”, an oft repeated ghost phenomenon. I tweaked a few details of the original tale, added some family drama, and I had a story.
2. How did you come up with the title?
The title was simple, I combined the names of the two ghost legends. I put “Weeping Woman” and “White Lady” together, and viola, I had The Weeping Lady.
3. What is your preferred writing genre?
I love writing fantasy, preferably darker tales bordering on horror. The Weeping Lady is actually tamer and slightly more upbeat than much of what I write. Although, it is still rather dark.
4. Who is your favorite author? Who has most influenced your work?
I have two favourite authors, Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay. They are both exquisite writers and masters of storytelling. I adore their work and refuse to choose just one. My biggest influence, though, is Ray Bradbury. His short stories warped my little child brain and imprinted the love of the written word on my grey cells forever.
5. What's up next for you?
I have several stories in the submission process for anthologies, including one for the charity anthology, Christmas Lites V. Plus, I have two novels in various stages of creation, a steampunk adventure book, called Racing the Hellfire Club, and a fantasy novel, The Prophecy of Seven. And there’s always a chance of another poetry book showing up in the near future.

Just for fun nerd list:

  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Both. And yes, you can love both.
  • Hunger Games or Divergent? Neither. Not a big YA fan.
  • James Bond or Jack Ryan? Jack Ryan, definitely. I’m a big Tom Clancy fan.
  • Sherlock: Robert Downey, Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch? As much as I adore Robert Downey, Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch has the edge in the Sherlock department.
  • Spock: Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto? Leonard Nimoy. Part of me still sees Zachary Quinto as Sylar from Heroes
  • X-Men or Avengers? Probably the Avengers, but it’s a tight race.
  • Aliens or Predators? Not big on either. 
  • Minions or Penguins? I love them both, although Pinky and the Brain have top spot in my heart. 
  • Batman or Superman? Batman, always and forever.
  • Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean? Pirates, of course. Pass the rum, boys.
  • Beatles or Rolling Stones? Neither. I’d rather listen to The Doors.
  • Peter Jackson or James Cameron? Peter Jackson. I was a fan before LOTR.
  • Steven Spielberg or George Lucas? Lucas, but that’s just because of the original Star Wars trilogy.
  • Vampires or Werewolves? Probably Vampires, but I like them both.
  • LARP or MORPG? Neither really, but I’ve always wanted to LARP.

Author:  Amanda Banker, Jay Barnson, Julie Barnson, Sebastian Bendix, Tirzah Duncan, F.M. Longo, Ginger C. Mann, Alex McGilvery, L.K. McIntosh, T.N. Payne, Danielle E. Shipley, A.F. Stewart
Editor: J. Aurel Guay
Pages: 396
Format:  Paperback, Kindle, Kindle Select
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  publisher
Category:  Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Style:   Twelve distinct voices, including a range from humorous to eerie to thought-provoking and mind-bending, to tense and perilous ghost stories that tie your gut up in knots. Some stories may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 14.
Giveaway: Scroll down to enter! or visit Rafflecopter or the XP Facebook page.


What is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

About this project:

True confession: I'm not a fan of paranormal or ghost stories. They're just not my cup of tea. I'm so much not a fan, that when Xchyler held this particular short story contest, our third in the paranormal genre, I left judging the forty-four entries up to my compatriots. I just didn't want to go there. And, I trusted them, implicitly. And not without good cause.

SIGIL OF THE WYRM Book Review and Blog Tour

Author: A.J. Campbell
Pages: 312
Format:  Paperback, Kindle, Kindle Select
Publisher:  Xchyler Publishing
Book Source:  publisher
Category:  Urban Fantasy
Style: Magical realism written in an easy, approachable style, incorporating local folklore but set in contemporary Northumbria, UK.
Giveaway: Scroll down to enter! or visit Rafflecopter or the XP Facebook page.

Sigil of the Wyrm by AJ Campbell, book 1 of Into the Weirding

Richard Lampton never believed in fairy tales, so when a stunning stranger at his uncle’s funeral warns him of an ancient family curse, he pays no heed—until a very real wyrm attempts to destroy him. Now, with the help of a homeless runaway, a fledgling jackdaw, and a key none but he can use, Richard must find the courage to meet his death or his destiny as he plunges headlong Into the Weirding.

About this project: 

Sigil of the Wyrm is another Xchyler offering, one I'm quite proud of. AJ Campbell is a "Geordie", what natives of northeast England affectionately call themselves. Although she now lives in the south , her story is a homage to the land of her birth and the local lore that she grew up with. However, when the editor who initially chose to take on this project had to back out, it got stalled. Preserving the British but especially Geordie flavor of the tale meant finding just the right team to pull it off. We didn't want to Americanize it so much it lost its identity.

What color is a polar bear? Redefining ‘adult’ in ‘adult fiction’

[editor's note: the following blog post is published in full on]

Today’s guest post is by Penny Freeman, editor-in-chief at Xchyler Publishing.

Although Andrew asked me to write a blog post for his site some time ago, the date of publication came and went with me still staring at the monitor, unable to formulate my thoughts—or, at the very least, unable to figure out how to adequately express my thoughts in a way that would communicate my intent. Then, I read an op-ed in the New York Times about university students who are so intent on protecting [insert special interest group of choice here] from any sort of offense or emotional turmoil, they are campaigning to restrict freedom of speech and the actual texts used in courses.

Huckleberry Finn had to go because of the N-word. Guest lecturers must be un-invited from speaking because they used the N-word in discussing the evolution of the N-word and its social acceptability. Euclid could not be taught in humanities classes because it might trigger emotional responses in victims of violent crime. Such persons may not feel safe or sheltered in such discussions, so those discussions must not occur. Anywhere. Ever.

I believe this is where we, as Mormon writers, too often find ourselves, and why the term “Mormon literature” causes some readers to roll their eyes in frustration. We are so intent on sheltering the reader from offensive material, we wrap them up in cotton and set them in a cozy egg carton, safely deposited on a high shelf. The problem: when readers happen upon stories that refuse to admit life rarely comes equipped with bubble wrap and packing peanuts, they find the writing shallow and dissatisfying, with little dimension and no color. . . .(cont)

Read the complete blog post here.

Book Review: Wild Secret, Wild Longing (Front Range series)

Book:  WILD SECRET, WILD LONGING (A Front Range Series novella)
Author: Charlene Whitman
Pages: 155
Format:  Kindle
Publisher:  Ubiquitous Press
Book Source:  author
Category:  Historical Romance
Style: Sweet romance in historical Western setting reflecting the social mores of the mid to late 19th century; rich prose with well-defined action sequences and plot tension.


LeRoy Banks has no time for love or romance—he's busy breaking in horses at Whitcomb's ranch. But on the afternoon of his brother's wedding, a grizzly attacks the herd of horses, and though Whitcomb's ranch hands shoot him, the bear lumbers off, injured and enraged. LeRoy, the only competent tracker around, heads out into the Rockies after the bear before it kills again. But not before his ma, a Cheyenne medicine woman, gives him a warning. The mountain holds secrets, she tells him, and LeRoy must not be afraid of what he'll find. Unsettled by her puzzling words, he sets out, unaware of the dangers he is about to face—not just to his life but to his heart.
Geneviève Champlain has spent long, lonely years in isolation in the mountains, her life a trail of broken dreams, loss, and heartache. Her supplies running out, she is teetering on the edge of despair and madness as a snowstorm blows in, signaling an early winter. Her hope is failing—she knows she cannot face another winter alone. Yet she sees no way out. She can never leave her cabin and live a normal life like other women. There is no place for a tainted woman like her in frontier society. Before the storm blows in, she learns the killer grizzly is close by. She has no choice but to head out and try to kill it before it reaches her cabin. Yet when she tracks the bear, she finds something she never expected—something even more threatening than a grizzly.
In this novella, the fourth in a series of Western historical romances, Charlene Whitman proves once again her exceptional skill at combining a believable plot, realistic characters, and delightful prose to draw her readers into her worlds rich with color and texture, light and sound, for a deeply satisfying experience.

My Take: 

LeRoy Banks is a young horse wrangler who also happens to be of mixed race. Dealing with the prejudices of the day proves more difficult for him than his brother who more resembles their white father, rather than their Cheyenne mother, as does LeRoy. However, as Whitman introduces the character, the reader first gets to know the man. His physical features are almost an after-thought. The strengths of his mother and her particular skills figure prominently as the plot unfolds but are skillfully nuanced. While she is an adept healer and somewhat prescient, Whitman chooses to emphasize her love, support, and faith in her son, and his respect for her and dependence upon her wise counsel. There are no caricatures in this story, of any race.