Free Book!

On March 25th my new ‘mini-book’ Spinnings goes on sale at Amazon.  FSpinnings Final Coveror the first five days of its publication, you can also download my novel Empire’s Daughter from Amazon for free. This is a limited-time offer…so spread the word and take advantage!

You will have to pay for Spinnings…but it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


Coming Soon! The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale, by Danielle E. Shipley

I’ll be reviewing this novel soon…it looks intriguing, weaving some of my favourite stories into a new setting!

Cover and Spine, Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale


The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale:  The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One

by Danielle E. Shipley

Contemporary Fantasy / Young Adult

Novel Release Date = July 12, 2016

Goodreads Link =

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, jpeg

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?”

The Surface’s End, by David Joel Stevenson: A Review

The Surface's EndJonah, a young man in late adolescence, is responsible for providing his family with game, the major source of meat in their post-apocalyptic world. He’s found good hunting grounds at the edge of the dead zone, the desert known as the Deathlands, but even there the game is growing thin.

A wounded buck, fleeing the pain of Jonah’s arrow, leaves the shelter of the woods to run into the desert; Jonah, who cannot waste the kill, follows. Near where the buck finally falls, he finds a metal wheel…a wheel which is opens a door into another world – not a magical world: this is no rabbit-hole – but an underground city, peopled with the descendants of those who fled a ravaged Earth many generations earlier.

This is the premise of The Surface’s End, a young-adult dystopic science-fiction novel by David Joel Stevenson. I finished the book over two days: it’s short, at about 139 pages on my Kindle app, but it was also compulsively readable. Both the homesteading world of Jonah and his family and their fellow villagers, and the mole-rat like existence of the underground inhabitants were internally consistent and plausible, although both were slightly too one-dimensional, with no hint of strife or disagreement within the homesteaders and no positive aspects to the underground world.


Having the ‘wildlands’ adolescent discover the ‘city’, rather than the other way around, was a nice twist on the young-adult dystopic meme. The inevitable romance between Jonah and Talitha, the girl from underground, is handled sweetly, Jonah’s uncertainty and awkwardness particularly.

For the most part Stevenson’s writing flows smoothly (and occasionally brilliantly, as in the line, referring to the Deathlands: ‘He took his first step into the undiscovered lands.’, an echo of Hamlet describing death as ‘the undiscovered country.’). A minor niggle was that I found the tone and pacing of the narrative did not always reflect the tension and action of the story.

My only other niggle with the story was the scene in which Jonah and Talitha watch a digital feed of the deathbed confession of one of the original founders of the underground city. While it is important, a turning point in the story, the confession goes on too long, unbroken by the reactions and emotions of the two young people watching it.

All in all, though, I’m giving The Surface’s End four stars. It’s a worthy addition to the young adult dystopia genre (personally, I think it would make a good film), and it has enough originality to make it stand out from the crowd.

The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are mine alone.

Book Review Policies

I’ll post this on the book review page on my website as well.

For everyone who has asked (and those who might wish to) I review published or pre-publication work from indie authors.  My preference is for young-adult fantasy/dystopia/sci-fi but will consider other work.  I do accept e-books (actually, I prefer them).

My practice is to share the review with the author before I post to anywhere except my website.  As well as my website, I post reviews to the following sites:  Goodreads, Amazon in the UK, Canada, and the US, and Kobo and Smashwords – but don’t unless the author requests it.

My contact details are marianlthorpe at

Open Mike Night

Our revered and celebrated local bookstore/restaurant/cinema opens its restaurant/bar area to writers on Monday mornings.  It’s just a quiet place to write, with internet access, coffee and tea, and focus.  No instruction, no conversation.

I’ve just started attending this fall.  Sometimes people record on the chalkboard what they are working on – business writing, theses, novels, short stories, memoirs, blog entries.  I use the time to work on Empire’s Hostage. It’s highly productive: there are no distractions, and unlike working at the university library I can leave my laptop and phone on the table when I go to the washroom, or to move my car to avoid a parking ticket.

In a couple of weeks we’re doing an evening session, a salon – basically an open mike night for the writers who write here.  I’m both looking forward to it and apprehensive.  Two of the writers who come on Monday mornings – regulars – have both been nominated for prestigious national writing awards.  And I’m going to read an excerpt from my genre fiction?

But yes, I am.  While I’m in awe of writers who are writing work worthy of major book awards, I’m not one of them. I write to tell a simple story to entertain – and I hope to some extent challenge – young adults (or maybe anyone over the age of twelve) and to explore landscapes, both physical and of the mind.  I do it the best I can, and that’s what I’ll read.  And because I know this city, and the attitudes of those for whom this bookstore is an important part of their lives, there won’t be judgement, or negativity.  We’ll appreciate each others writing, regardless of genre, or publishing contract, or experience. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Editorial Services Giveaway

I am a lucky indie writer.  My young-adult adventure novel, Empire’s Daughter, was accepted for publication by a small press, which meant it received the entire professional editorial process, edited for story, continuity, copy-edited, etc., by two very talented editors.  Sadly the press went out of business – it’s a tough world – before Empire’s Daughter was published, but I benefited enormously and learned a LOT through the months of editing and re-writing. So when I published Empire’s Daughter through Smashwords and Amazon, it was polished to a high standard and has sold well.

This is not an opportunity many new writers get, and it’s one I’d like to pay forward.  So here’s my offer:  I will provide editorial services free of charge to one indie author in each of the following editorial capacities:

  1.  Story review – a read-through of the manuscript, suggestions for expansion/contraction of the story, voice, character development;
  2. Copy-editing – a detailed read of a finished manuscript for typos, grammar and spelling, name change errors, and the like.

Here’s how the give-away works.  First, go into this blog site and read some of my work – there is fiction, non-fiction, verse and a short story to look at.  If you don’t like my writing, then you probably shouldn’t enter. (You can, of course, it’s up to you!)  Then, either in the comments below or by e-mail to marianlthorpe at, let me know the following:

Your name, the name and genre of your work, and whether you want a story review or a copy-edit.  All entries received in the next week will be literally put into a hat (by category) and one name for each pulled out by my husband.

And you must be an author without a book contract.  Those of you with contracts will have access to these services – as I did – so please leave this free opportunity to those who need it.  Clearly, I can’t check this, so you are on your honour on this aspect.

Oh, and the work has to be in English.  I speak execrable French and read it to some extent, but not well enough for this…and that’s the end of my multi-lingual abilities.

Feel free to re-blog!