Tag Archives: book excerpt

Cover Reveal, and a Dream Come True

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Cover Reveal, and a Dream Come True

When Christina McMullen, one of my favorite indie authors and a good friend, approached me to work on the cover for her book, I admit I was a bit nervous. I mean, I’ve done commissioned artwork for years, so I’m accustomed to doing artwork for others. And I’ve even done book covers, but they were always for my own books, so it was mostly easy to know what to do.

Still, I’d read an early beta copy of the first few chapters of A Space Girl from Earth, and I was hooked. Ellie was a heroine I could really stand behind, and her story is filled with delicious sci-fi, edge-of-your-seat adventure, and heart-string-pulling romance. Admittedly, I haven’t had a chance yet to read through the final version, but it’s next on my list and I’m itching to get to it.

So, with a just a little trepidation because I felt this was a character who deserved a great portrayal, and because I wasn’t sure I was the one to make that happen, I agreed to paint Ellie for Christina. The result, to my delight, is exactly as I (and Christina, thankfully) pictured her. I’m so excited to finally be able to share the final result with you. Here’s Ellie!

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Click the cover to preorder A Space Girl From Earth

Christina was so happy with all of the details I added to Ellie, that she created a separate cover for the Kindle edition of the book with a close-up:

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Click the cover to visit Christina’s blog and read more!

 

I had so much fun working on all of the little details, like the doodles on Ellie’s shoes, and her blue nail polish, and of course her glowing spots!

You can read more about the book, which is now available for preorder, on Christina’s blog. Christina also has some preview chapters up for grabs, so make sure you visit her blog for more info!

Now, as for the second part of the title of this post… a dream come true. Last night when I was reflecting on the anticipation of today and this exciting cover reveal, something occurred to me. Back in my college days, I studied under a sci-fi cover artist named Abe Echevarria. He was my mentor, and he encouraged me to focus on Illustration as a career. Here are a couple of examples of his work:

At the time, I worked hard to hone my skills and emulate his style. I dreamed that one day I could be a freelance illustrator and have my artwork on fantasy book covers. This was back in a time before digital art, when covers were hand-painted with oils or acrylics and canvases were rolled up and shipped to the publisher to be processed for printing. I romanticized what the life of a freelancer would be like, and imagined myself one day in my own studio, negotiating contracts with publishers and seeing my artwork on store shelves. But abstract painting lured me away, and my focus on illustration faded. I spent my graduate studies in the fine art painting studio, and left illustration behind.

How amazing that the faded dream just ended up falling into place, and here I am twenty years later, with my artwork on the cover of someone else’s novel!. And it’s a trilogy, so I’m really looking forward to painting more covers for Christina soon!

Finally, I’d love to share a fun little video of my process. I do all of my artwork on the Procreate app on my iPad Pro, which records time-lapse videos as I work. If you watch closely, you can see all of my reference images popping in and out of the canvas, along with Christina’s suggestions and comments on some of the images. You’ll notice that I sometimes sketch over the reference images to make sure I get proportions and certain features right. This was one of the techniques Mr. Echevarria taught me, though back in college we used vellum, light tables, and projectors for the same process. I really love technology!

If you’d like to discuss cover art or other commissioned pieces, please feel free to contact me through my website: http://www.missysheldrake.com

 

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!

Cover Reveal – Call of Hywilkin

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Cover Reveal – Call of Hywilkin

With my draft in the hands of my beta readers and my Apple Pencil on fire from illustrating, I’ve decided it’s time to reveal the cover of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, Book Four: Call of Hywilkin!

The story takes place in Hywilkin, a treacherous frozen country where the use of magic is forbidden upon penalty of death. Its Wellspring, which lies deep in the center of a towering mountain, has been sealed off from the world for decades.

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Here it is with the rest of the books in the series:

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When I designed the cover, I wanted to be sure it kept with the theme of previous covers while also conveying the dark, dangerous themes of the book. Rian must learn his worth without magic, Azi struggles to maintain balance between her own powers and her duties as a Knight, and Tib delves into the shadowed mysteries of the floating city of Brindelier. As always, their fairy companions guide them on their way, providing advice and encouragement as they work to bolster the Dawn and snuff out the Dusk.

Click here to read more about the Keepers of the Wellsprings series!

Call of Hywilkin will be available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited March 2017! Check here for details coming soon!

Happy Birthday, Sunteri!

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Happy Birthday, Sunteri!

A year ago today, Call of Sunteri, Keepers of the Wellsprings – Book Two, was published. To wish it a happy birthday, I’m offering the ebook for FREE on Kindle all weekend! That’s right, from November 18-20, it’s time to celebrate!

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Even though it’s book two, don’t be shy. Reviewers have said it stands alone well:

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And those who have read the first one love this one even more:

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If that’s not enough to convince you to pick up  your free copy, here’s an excerpt from Call of Sunteri, Keepers of the Wellsprings – Book Two in which Azi, now dubbed a knight, is summoned by a bored Prince Eron for a duel. The prince, who has always had a strange obsession with Azi, is being escorted by her family’s guild to a castle in the north along with his pregnant wife, to shield him from accusations of treason while the princess gives birth to their son. This takes place at a tavern where they’ve stopped to rest.

The courtyard is open to the sky, but closed in on all sides. It’s clean, but run down. The ground is packed dirt and the fountain in the center is cracked and empty. Several royal guards line the peeling stone walls, and two lords Eron’s age lounge in an alcove to one side. The lords are his cousins, Fresi and Kris. They met up with us in the last village, right on schedule.

The prince himself is waiting for me across the yard. He makes a show of his footwork as I approach, demonstrating a fancy combination that seems a little too flowery to have any practical use in battle. I try to look impressed anyway, just to cover up my nerves. The lords call out to Eron, telling him how formidable he looks, applauding his sword dance. When they see me, one of them whistles low.

I bend my knee and bow my head as the prince turns to face me. He lets the tip of his sword drag in the dirt as he comes to stand over me. I curse my heart, which is thumping so loudly that I’m sure he can hear it. He stays there awhile, as if he’s making sure I’m well aware of my place: in the dirt, kneeling to him. Finally, he addresses me.

“Sir Azaeli,” his tone is merry, but his words are slightly slurred. I can smell the drink on him. “Armed and ready, I see.”

“Yes, Your Highness.” I keep my head bowed. I can almost feel his sneer.

“Stand up, then, and show me your skills. I wish to spar with the legend,” he laughs, and the lords in the alcove echo him.

“If it pleases Your Highness,” I say, mustering my patience as I stand up and take my sword from the sheath on my back. One of the lords makes a crude remark, but I ignore it. I’ve trained for this. Thanks to Dacva and his crew, I know how to keep a level head even when my opponent is spitting venom and insults and doing everything he can to rattle me.

I try not to think of how ungrateful Eron has been since Rian and I lifted Viala’s enchantments on him. I try not to let it bother me that he treats me this way, despite all we’ve done and all we continue to do to ensure his comfort and clear his name. He’s my prince. The heir of Cerion. The son of my liege. It’s my duty to respect and obey him, even if he doesn’t return that respect.

We face each other and raise our blades in salute. He eyes me with a hunger that makes me uncomfortable, but I try to ignore it and concentrate on the bout instead. I’m growing used to my new sword, which Da forged for me in the weeks after the battle at Kythshire. It’s lighter than my old one, but the grip is still too new. I miss the one I lost. It was a good friend to me. Still, this one is well made, with a broad blade and a long, slender handle that requires two hands, like my last one.

Lord Kris calls out to start the spar, and Eron advances immediately. His sword is two-handed as well. It’s similar to mine, but richly encrusted with deep red jewels that glisten like fresh blood. Our bout starts smoothly. We’re evenly matched as we swing and parry against each other.

We go on for a while, easily driving one another back and forth across the yard. His style is much showier than mine. I ease up, since he obviously feels like he has something to prove to his cousins. He performs the dance again and arcs the blade in a quick and complicated combination that drives me backwards across the courtyard.

“I’m disappointed,” he announces loudly. “All that talk about your skill, and I’ve got you backed into a corner already.” I raise my sword to block his, and our blades meet at my chest. He presses closer, and I shove him back with all of my strength to gain some ground. He stumbles a little but quickly regains his footing. We clash together again, driving each other back and forth across the space while the young lords call out to Eron, congratulating him for every small advantage he gains over me. Finally, right beside the alcove, I pin him against the wall with my sword.

“You’re as good as they say,” he says through clenched teeth. “Would you be so skilled with my sword?” He thrusts his hips lewdly. Lord Kris laughs at the prince’s banter. Lord Fresi gives a halfhearted chuckle. Eron keeps his sword up and reaches with one hand to grope my chest plate. I dodge his hand and skip backwards and he comes at me with a new fury that leaves me breathless in my defense. I gain some advantage again and touch him with my blade once, twice, three times. Every time I do, his rage grows. The lords go silent as the spar grows more furious, more dangerous. Eron doesn’t hold back, and neither do I. The clash of our swords rings out loud and fierce over the courtyard. A storm cloud drifts overhead, casting a shadow over us.

My mood shifts. I don’t care if he’s my prince, I want to see him bleed. I want him to hurt. I want him to know that he can’t do what he does anymore. Not to me. Not to anyone. Not with his wife suffering in her room, heavy with his child. This isn’t a game. This is life. His cruelty, his unseemly behavior needs to stop.

He advances and I drive him back with an elbow to his nose. Slash at him with fury, with rage. I know I’m screaming battle cries. I don’t care. I don’t even see his face anymore, I only see the enemy. He has to learn, and I’ll be the one to teach him. My sword is swift and true. It meets its mark again and again. One touch after another, and at first the lords stay silent. The prince stumbles backwards, and when I don’t let up, the guards close in on me, shouting. I drop my sword and start punching. I don’t stop until a heavy hand clamps over my shoulder and drags me back. I blink back to my senses to see Eron kneeling in the dirt, cowering.

When he realizes that I’ve stopped he jumps to his feet, adjusts his chest plate, and raises his chin dubiously. His lip is bleeding and he taps it with his fingertip and looks at the blood with anger.

“I’m bored of dueling,” he says petulantly. “Let’s go for a hunt. My horse!”

He storms off with the lords and the guards trailing after him. The lords look over their shoulders at me as they go with a mixture of awe and fear. The hand on my shoulder loosens a little.

“Great guts, Azi, what’s gotten into you?” I turn to see Bryse looking down at me, his stony gray brow deeply furrowed with concern.

“You really laid into him,” Cort says from behind him.

“I just…I guess I got carried away,” I retrieve my sword and slide it into its sheath with a little trouble, my hands are shaking so hard. I flex my fingers. My knuckles ache.

“Serves him right,” Bryse mutters, “maybe he’ll keep his eyes to himself from now on.”

“Mya won’t like it,” Cort says. “We’re supposed to be protecting him, not killing him in the sparring pitch.”

“I wasn’t trying to kill him,” I say, scowling.

“You sure looked like you were,” Flitt says at the same time Bryse speaks.

“Come on, let’s have a drink. Forget about it for now. No harm done.”

I know as an author I’m supposed to love all of my children equally, but to be honest, Call of Sunteri is my favorite book in the series. I could tell you why, but I don’t want to spoil it. I will admit it’s partly due to a new character named Tib, and his interactions with a mysterious character with ambiguous goals.

Want to read more? Get it free today! Click here!

The Keepers of the Wellsprings series is available on Amazon.com and free to read for members of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

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For more details about this series or to sign up for my mailing list, visit my website: www.missysheldrake.com

 

 

It’s Almost Time!

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It’s Almost Time!

It’s Halloween, that spooky time of year when we’re assaulted by all things scary whether we like it or not. Maybe you’re into the creepy, supernatural side of the holiday, like me, or perhaps you prefer the blood and gore of severed limbs sprinkled across your lawn. Either is fine with me. I don’t judge. I will judge you, though, if you don’t take advantage of the super spooky Monster Weekend book sale event being held by my friends over at SIA this weekend!

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Support for Indie Authors is offering over 70 books starting on October 28, either for free or 99 cents. We hope you’ll take some time between romps with ghosts and ghouls to browse the offerings from these talented indie authors! The sale starts Friday and goes until Monday. You have to be spry, though, because some books are tricky and will only appear for one or two days before they vanish from the event in a puff of creepy mist.

Click here to preview the authors participating in the event.

Click here starting on Friday to browse over 70 free or discounted ebooks.

We hope to see you this weekend! Have a safe and spooky Halloween, and save me some Snickers!

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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!