Category Archives: Sketches and Illustrations

It’s today!! Call of Hywilkin is here!

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It’s today!! Call of Hywilkin is here!

Author’s Note: This post was written before coffee.

It’s release day! I can’t stand it, I’m so excited!! Call of Hywilkin is finally available for sale on Amazon, and you are definitely in for a treat if you get it! You’re going to meet so many amazing characters and go on such an adventure!

You’ll meet Wyvern:

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“Talk plain to me. You know I don’t like all that frilly talk.”

 

 

And Tulya:

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“I am not porcupine.” 

And Kenrick:

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“Mentalism, my dear, is not like other schools of magic.”

And Pippa:

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“How can I keep it out when it is all I ever see? Night. Always, night.”

And you’ll travel with old favorites like Azi and Rian:

 

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“A screech from the darkness…a strange glow fills the space like cool, blue moonlight.”

Flitt:

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“Want to play?”

And of course, Tib!

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“I just want to do what I want, and I don’t want to answer to anyone.”

And don’t forget Celli and Quenson!

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“What have you done to this girl? What dark magic is this?”

You can order Call of Hywilkin by clicking  here.

All the other books in the series are available for free today only! (March 3, 2017) Click here to download them!

 

Less Than a Week to Go!

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Less Than a Week to Go!

EVERYONE! I am so excited for the week ahead. Call of Hywilkin has its official release this Friday, March 3. To celebrate, I’ll be offering Call of Kythshire, Call of Sunteri, and Call of Brindelier for free for that one day only!

Are you ready to explore Hywilkin? Here’s a desktop wallpaper I made with some of my favorite illustrations from the book. Feel free to download it and use it (personal use only, please)!

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My website is all ready to go, with a face lift to match the color scheme of the new book. I invite you to read an excerpt from the book (spoiler-free) and check out the illustration gallery (not so spoiler-free).

This week also happens to be #RobotPartyWeek. I’m told it has nothing to do with robots or parties, but anyone following the hashtag on Twitter will find free books from fantastic indie authors! Check it out this week, the week of Feb 26-March 4.

Speaking of #RobotPartyWeek, my friend and fellow indie Christina McMullen has a few things planned over on her Vampires & Robots blog. Says she: “All week long, I’m featuring new releases from a variety of sci-fi and fantasy authors. We’ve got flying cars, snarky adventure seekers, pantsless elves, and an outspoken fairy. Plus, alien robots from outer space run amok and only the book world can save us!”

I’m also working on a fun interview between Flitt and a character created by author Ember Winters which she’ll be posting this Friday, and I’ll have a fun Realm Explorers by Annie Douglass Lima interview going up March 6 telling all about the Known Lands.

With all that to look forward to, it’s going to be a great week! What do you have going on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Book 4, Draft 2 Finished!

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Book 4, Draft 2 Finished!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished my second draft of Call of Hywilkin! That means all that’s left to do is some proofreading, formatting, and making sure my illustrations are spaced through the book in a way that makes sense.

I’m hoping to have a release date for you soon, and I expect that date to be in early March.

Book Four was a real challenge for me to write.  There were many stops and starts which made me worry that the plot was stilted and choppy. I was so relieved during my read-through to find the opposite to be true. There is so much action and emotion in this book. It’s packed full of all of the characters you’ve grown close to, and a few new ones you’re sure to love. I truly can’t wait to share it with the world!

Here’s a preview illustration of Flitt, who’s as cheeky as ever in this book.  If you like the image, I have a whole line of products available for sale on redbubble.

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Finally, I have a favor to ask. If you’ve read any of the books in this series and haven’t written a review yet, please consider reviewing them on Amazon. I’m especially grateful for reviews of Call of Brindelier, book three in the series. Thanks so much, and check back for more news coming soon!

 

The Gilt Cage: An Excerpt

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The Gilt Cage: An Excerpt

An excerpt and illustration from Book Four of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, coming February 2017:

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Kenrick casts his spell, and the sparkling pillars of the cavern shift. In their place, rough-hewn walls of gray stone surround us on all sides. Saesa and I jump to our feet. As our surroundings settle into place, the first thing I notice are the cages. Masterfully wrought in iron and plated with gold, they are stunning works of art in themselves. What they hold, though, is heartbreaking.

I recognize many of the prisoners held within from Tulya’s paintings: A man with a hawk’s beak and splendid feathers, and a girl with quills like Tulya’s own. Another man, much older, sits cramped in his cage, his long spotted tail lashing weakly as his matted ears twitch. There are a dozen or more here, all caged, chain-bound and rail-thin. The scene passes by us at a walking pace, even though here in the cavern we haven’t moved.

“Hali,” Tulya cries in anguish as the older man’s cage drifts past. Rian shifts closer to me and takes my hand, gazing at the scene with a mix of wonder at the Mage’s spell and distaste at the endless rows of cages on display.

We pause at one gilt cage holding a woman in plate mail armor. The braid at her shoulder is unraveled and frayed. Her face is cast down, her hands clasped at her chest in a meditative pose. A beautifully engraved sign at her feet reads:

Rare Cerion Specimen. Paladin. Emotion control. Ally to fae-kin. Dangerous. Do not speak to exhibit.”

“Mum,” I whisper in horrified disbelief.

***

Prepare yourself for the coming adventure! Meet Azi, her foes, and her allies in the Keepers of the Wellsprings Books 1-3 available on Amazon Kindle. Click here for more information.

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The images and excerpts posted in this blog are copyright 2016 author/illustrator Missy Sheldrake and cannot be reproduced without the express permission of the artist/author.

 

Everything but Writing

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Everything but Writing

I spent my morning doing everything but writing. I have no excuse, but I do have a pretty graphic with an excerpt from Call of Kythshire to show for it, so I’m going to just leave that right here:

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In this excerpt, Princess Margary is reading to her from an old storybook. This scene is the catalyst for the climax of the book. This is the point where my readers have told me they couldn’t put it down. I hope you liked it. If you did, you can Click here to buy a copy for your Kindle. Thanks for reading! ❤

Summertime Switch

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Summertime Switch

There’s a bit of a theme going on between my author friends and myself. Some call it Summertime Slump. Our brains seem to turn to mush in the summer, and the ideas and stories just don’t flow. I’m right on that bandwagon, but this morning I’ve decided to change my perspective and call it the Summertime Switch.  Read the rest of this entry

Call of Brindelier is Coming!

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Call of Brindelier is Coming!

Okay, I am going to try to keep this short. I’ve been so hard at work getting Book Three ready for all of you that I’ve otherwise been a Very Bad Author and haven’t been updating my blog! I hope you can forgive me.

June is promising to be an exciting start to an even more exciting summer as I delve into a new writing project that I hope to share with you very soon. Don’t fret, though, I’ll still be working on the Keepers of the Wellsprings in the meantime!

Call of Brindelier is the third full book in the series, and I’ve decided there will be at least two more books to round the series out after this one. Azi and Rian have a lot of adventures left to face, along with Tib and a new character who’s introduced in Book Three: Celli! Celli is a scrappy street fighter with a penchant for pick-pocketing, who gets caught with the wrong crowd in a major way. She’s sort of like Tib, but with fewer morals.

Here she is sneering at Dub, an assassin who you might remember from Call of Sunteri. Dub plays a much bigger part in this book. I’ve grown pretty fond of that guy.

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Celli and Dub had a fun first meeting.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One of Call of Brindelier:

     This room is strange. It’s dark, and the floor is covered with gold tiles in the shape of a sunburst that starts in the center and goes out toward the walls. Each point of the sunburst creeps up to an alcove in the wall, and each alcove holds an empty pedestal. I think about going to look at one closer, but before I can move, Quenson appears in the doorway.
He’s flanked by two guards: a woman and a man both wearing heavy chain mail. They post themselves just inside and eye me with caution while the Sorcerer approaches me. I don’t let them intimidate me. With him standing as close to me now as we were in the alley, they don’t matter, anyway. He’s even more handsome than I remembered.
“Sybel has outdone herself,” he says as he circles around me, looking me over.
His tone makes my cheeks go hot. He’s dangerous, I know, but that excites me. All I want is his approval. I want him to admire me. I want to always be close to him. I want to show him that I can do anything for him. Whatever he needs me to do. I watch him come around to face me again, where he stands and looks at me without a word. He’s not wearing his veil here. His face seems older than it did in the street, wiser and more impressive. With his eyes on me, suddenly I feel like a child about to be scolded.
“I’m sorry,” I blurt out. “I won’t fail you again.”
“I believe you,” he says. “You will begin by never speaking unless spoken to.”
I nod my agreement and he smiles at me. I want him to keep smiling. I want to be his favorite. I never want to make him scowl.
“This is Dub,” he says after a long pause. It takes me a moment to realize there’s someone else here. He’s been lurking against the wall all this time. He steps out of the shadows as Quenson introduces him.
He’s in his twenties, maybe, lean and strong, and dressed all in leathers like me, except they’re black. His face is coarse with whiskers, and one eye is covered with a patch. The most remarkable thing about him, though, are all the knives. I can count at least a dozen strapped to his torso, his belt, his arms, and his legs. I wonder how many others he’s concealing.
His one good eye looks me over like Quenson did. Except when he does it, it makes me uncomfortable. I square my shoulders and cross my arms and raise my chin, trying to seem bigger. Tougher. He smirks, but doesn’t say a word.
“Go.” Quenson says.
Before I have time to think, Dub leaps at me, his knives flashing. He swings and I duck and roll away. He throws a blade, and I somersault and narrowly dodge the attack. His knife clatters and skids across the floor. I tumble to grab it and another one of his blades slices my sleeve as it whizzes past. I don’t know why, but this guy is serious. He means to kill me.
With Dub’s knife tight in my grip, I charge him. He’s nearly twice my size but I don’t care. If he wants to kill me, I’m going to make it difficult. He’s ready for my attack though. As I swing to stab him, he sheaths a knife and grabs my arm, twisting it painfully behind my back. He’s strong, but I’m a fighter. I elbow him hard in the ribs and kick him between the legs until he doubles over. That makes him loosen his grip on my arm, so I spin and punch him hard in the face. His nose cracks and he curses.
Quenson’s laughter somewhere to the side of the room is a musical sound that echoes up to the high-domed ceiling and back down again. It reminds me of how much I want to please him. It makes me fight harder.

If you like what you’ve read, you can click here to preorder Call of Brindelier! Thanks!

 

 

 

Title Reveal and Update on Book 3!

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Title Reveal and Update on Book 3!

I have been busily typing away at the next installment of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series. Book three is well underway, and I’m confident enough to be able to announce the title: Call of Brindelier!

Here’s the current status of my work in progress:
Draft: 1
Words: 140,425
Chapters: 41
Percent complete: 90%

Pending release date: May, 2016

Not only have I broken through my writer’s block, I’m also busy with illustrations. Here’s a taste of some of the images you’ll see gracing Call of Brindelier’s pages:

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And just for fun, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3: The Satchel (Tib)

A brush of cobwebs against my skin. I step into the unseen. Into the shadows. Mevyn’s gift. Valenor’s lesson. A gift is not a trick. They taught me that. Sometimes, a gift is necessary. Sometimes it’s the last hope for something better. This time, it’s for something nobody else has dreamed up yet. I adjust the blade strapped to my back. It’s longer. It stretches up over my head farther than I can reach. Flatter, too. Twisted. Perfectly worked by Sir Benen.

Zeze walks in front. Gets people to jump away or risk tripping over her. Some of them kick at her. I make a mental note of them for later. We travel this way for a while. Slinking on foot. Sticking to shadows. Out of the tucked-away street where Azi’s guild keeps their hall, past the castle, through the market. Past the lifts to the docks. I pause here. Watch the Mage at the wall as he raises his arms. Bulky muscled men crank the cranks. The lift creaks and squeals and bumps along the cliff face. Crates jostle and threaten to fall, but the Mage keeps them safe. His spell is a powerful one. It makes the load lighter. It keeps it protected. It’s necessary. Even the Princess thinks so.

This goes on all day into the dusk. Mage spells. Crates. Boxes. People. Animals. Up and down, never stopping. Workers working. Ships loaded and unloaded. Cargo in. Cargo out. In the summer, the Mages keep things light and safe. They protect from wind and rain and sea salt. In the winter, they melt the ice. Every spell drains a drop from Kythshire’s Wellspring. A drop, a stream, it doesn’t matter to them. The port gets busier. Their work needs to be done. Nobody thinks of the fairies. Why should they? To them, the fae don’t exist. Legends. Stories. Mention them and they call you a simpleton. A liar. A tall tale-teller.

I slip away from the port. When I’m done, they won’t need magic anymore for that task. My way will be better. My way will preserve the Wellsprings. Kythshire’s and Sunteri’s, too. I’ll sell my machine to them, then I’ll find another need to fill. Rian says we’ll always have a need for magic. He says the arts are getting more popular by the season. It’s harder to get into the school now. The Academy. They’re very careful about who’s allowed to learn its secrets. I’m glad. Magic is selfish and dangerous. It ruins people. It destroys things too easily. They shouldn’t trust just anyone with it.
Zeze knows the way to Redstone. I follow her without thinking past the bright white walls of the Academy. Past the dorms and the stables and the rows of merchants in the main square. Through to the poorer places. The places you don’t really notice when you first come to Cerion. The places you walk by without looking too hard. The places you try to avoid. When I first came to Cerion, I didn’t think anyone here was poor. In Zhaghen, they’re everywhere. Spread out through the city, right in the open. Begging. Coughing. Crying.

It’s different here. They have their place, neatly tucked away. Dark, stinking rows of red-brick houses. Houses so old and ignored that they might crumble to dust with one careless bump of a cart. Redstone Row. It used to be a small part of the city, but now it’s growing. The king is too distracted to pay his people the attention they need right now. Everyone’s talking about it. They say he doesn’t care. He doesn’t see them like he used to. The people aren’t important anymore. He’s too focused on his son. On the trials.

Whispers that Cerion’s age of peace is coming to an end echo from the shadows here. As I trudge through the filth of these forgotten streets I understand why. I slip from the shadows. Stop in the usual places. Unload my pockets slowly into outstretched hands. Coins. Rolls. Fruit. Trade them for smiles, for thanks. For information. Dreiya talks to me with a baby on each hip. Her husband is at a meeting. A secret rally. He’s a master stone carver. Worked for the Royal builders. They stopped working last year. Nothing left to build, they said. No orders from His Majesty for new construction.
Lots on this row are in the same boat. No work because Cerion is fading. It’s happening slowly, just like it did in Zhaghen. Just like there, the poor are the first to see it. Just like there, powerful men sit in their towers, too caught up in their own problems to care. While things are getting worse in Cerion, in Sunteri things are getting better. The new princess is helping her prince. They’re working to rebuild the kingdom. Their first step was to make strong rules against magic. Guiding the royal treasury away from the Mage scholars and into the hands of the poor.

Maybe Princess Sarabel should come back. Maybe she’d see what’s happening. Tell her father. Snap him out of his selfish misery. Show him how skinny everyone’s getting down here.

I turn the corner, straight into a gang of boys. Their backs are turned to me. Some older than I am, some younger. All dirty. Scrappy. Grouped around something. Their arms are linked together to keep whatever’s inside from getting out. I step closer and peer in. A fray. A fistfight. A girl dressed in tatters fighting a dark-skinned boy in fine clothes. He doesn’t know how to fight. He’s grabbing at her hair. Kicking. Thrashing a lot and missing. She’s better at it. She lands a punch to his gut. A kick to his hip.

“Give it back!” The rich boy huffs, grabbing at a bag slung across the girl’s chest. It doesn’t match the rest of her. It’s finer. Cleaner. Something’s inside that I can feel, but not see. Something magical. Powerful. Dangerous. Definitely not hers. The boy lunges at her and she swings up with bloodied knuckles. Uppercut to his jaw. He’s thrown back. She laughs. The circle of boys cheers. To them it’s a game. To the boy, that bag is important. He wipes blood from his lip onto his yellow silk sleeve. Pushes himself up. The rest of the boys charge him. Push him down. Kick. The girl joins in.

He doesn’t give in. He keeps trying to get up, even when the flash of a blade catches the sun. That’s when I step in. Zeze goes first. Saunters up to them. The boys in the back of the pack freeze when they see her. They tug at the others. Point. The fight dies down as nudges travel through them into the center. One of the boys tugs the girl’s arm. She shoves him away but Zeze catches her eye. She turns. Lowers the knife.

Cowered against the wall, the rich boy peeks around his upraised arms. Glances at all of them, standing with their backs to him. Staring at me. Waiting.

“What’s the word, Celli?” I ask. Casual. Like I didn’t just interrupt her almost murdering someone. She shrugs. Rolls her eyes a little. She’s my age. Fourteen, maybe fifteen. Cold eyes. Thin mouth. Broad shoulders. The look of someone who’s been fighting for a long time. The other boys step back a little. Watch between us.

“What’s that?” she points to the iron slung to my back.

“Later,” I say. “What’s that?” I point to the bag. She shrugs again.

“It’s my lord’s bag, and she stole it right out of his hands!” the rich boy cries. His accent is thick. He starts to get up, but Celli turns a fist to him and he cowers away.

“That true?” I ask her.

“Nope. This stupid clod left it lying on a stool,” Celli sneers. “So it walked. What’s in here that’s so important?” she asks. Folds open the flap. Reaches a hand inside. The rich boy jumps up. Grabs at it. She shoves him away.

“Give it back!” he shouts. “Don’t touch it!”

“Celli, no!” I try to warn her.

She doesn’t listen. She touches whatever is in there. When she does, she screams. Pulls her hand out. It’s red. Bright red, like the petals of the flowers I used to pick. The color creeps up along her arm, swirling and curling like Mage Mark. She scrambles with the bag. Yanks it from her shoulder. Throws it at the rich boy. The curls don’t stop. They stretch over the skin of her chest, sizzling. She screams. Claws at it.

Get ready for release day by reading the Keepers of the Wellsprings Book One: Call of Kythshire and Keepers of the Wellsprings Book Two: Call of Sunteri!

Azaeli Hammerfel

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Azaeli Hammerfel

imageAzaeli, or Azi, is the main character of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series.  She is the only main character in Call of Kythshire, but she shares the role with Tib in Call of Sunteri and the upcoming third book in the series: Call of Brindelier.

Azi grew up in the guild hall of his Majesty’s Elite. Her parents are Knights. Her caretaker is the guild’s cook, Mouli. Her best friend is Rian, the son of the guild leader, who is also her next door neighbor. Because she’s a girl and most of those she trained with were boys, Azi never had many friends growing up. Her parents and her guild have provided her with a sense of purpose she has never doubted.

She is loyal to King and country, and her dream is to become a Knight like her parents so she can one day stand beside them to protect the peace that Cerion is so well known for.

In Book 3, Call of Brindelier, Azaeli has come into her own.  She’s now a celebrated Knight and a full-fledged member of the Elite, but her allegiance is torn between her beloved country and that of Kythshire.  Her alliance with the fairies there has placed her in a precarious position, and the magic she has earned by helping them is a source of suspicion in Cerion.

Read all about Azi and her adventures in Call of Kythshire, Book One of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, available on Amazon.com

The Hammerfel Residence

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The Hammerfel Residence

I had so much fun creating Azi’s guild hall that I decided to do a close up view of her house, too. This house is where Azi grew up, and it’s a small part of the larger guild complex.  She spends much of her time here in the first book of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series: Call of Kythshire.

Many scenes have played out within these walls.  I even added Flit’s pitcher to the drawing. Do you see it?

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Read all about Azi, her house, and her adventures in Call of Kythshire, available for free on Kindle Unlimited at Amazon.com.