Tag Archives: bookworm

Writing and Musical Inspiration: Celli

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Writing and Musical Inspiration: Celli

Celli is one of my more tragic characters. Lured in by Sorcerers and twisted to their ways, she quickly became a thrall and plaything for Quenson, who proved to be a powerful and cruel master. Celli’s tale is deep and moving, and I’ll leave it at that because I really want you to read it for yourself.

Sometimes, I find a piece of music which captures a character perfectly. This piece, called Il bell’Antonio, Tema III is the most perfect soundtrack for Celli’s fall into darkness, especially around 4:54 when the notes start to get scratchy and uncomfortable. I hope you listen to it through until the end, and it inspires you as much as it did me.

 

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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

 

Prepping for the Last Book

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Prepping for the Last Book

Guess what?! I just finished reading through the entire Keepers of the Wellsprings series and taking notes for Book 5, which will be the last book in the series! 😢 This illustration represents one of my favorite moments in Call of Hywilkin. 💜💙 If you’ve read it, you’ll understand why!

Over the next few days, I plan to read over my notes and finalize a plan, and hopefully by next week I can really get to work writing! Wish me luck!

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Illustration for Call of Hywilkin, Keepers of the Wellsprings Book 4

Why You Should Read Indies–Or, Hey, Look! Free Books! #SIAFBB

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Why You Should Read Indies–Or, Hey, Look! Free Books! #SIAFBB

Listen, life is stressful. Sometimes we need an escape, and reading will give that you. Who needs a vacation when you can read a book and travel into worlds you never imagined? That’s the reason why I love books so much. They’re a journey into someone else’s life. An escape, just for a little while.

Some may turn up their noses at independently published books. I understand why. We’ve been conditioned to swarm to all the things everyone else likes. What’s the most popular laundry detergent? That’s the one I’m going to buy, then! Traditionally published books are the same. Publishers choose stories based on what they think will be the most popular plot. Whatever will sell best, that’s what they choose to publish. That’s why so many of the books you pick up in your bookstore seem so familiar.

Indie books are different. There’s no filter. No one is deciding for you what you think you’ll like. Indie authors write passionately about subjects close to their hearts. They write because they have stories to tell. They write things you might never have realized you wanted to read until you start, and you get swept up into their beautiful, detailed, intriguing, fast-paced, adventurous, wonderful stories.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of unconventional plots told by indie authors:

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GG Atcheson’s The Legacy Series
This series is one I’m partial to, not just because I had a hand in making the cover. The author masterfully blends aliens and vampires into a fast-paced, compelling plot filled with unpredictable twists and turns. Yes, I did say aliens and vampires. Yes, it’s strange. Yes, it’s incredible. Book Three in the series is 99 cents until April 2. Get it!

 

 

 

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VM’s Sawh’s Hontas (Good Tales for Bad Dreams Series)
V.M. is a wordsmith. His imagery is vivid and compelling. He takes fairy tales and legends we all know and love, and he twists them and spins them until they’re clever, gritty, and more real than our childhood stories could ever portray. My favorite of his was GR3T3L, a tale of two robots stranded on an unfamiliar planet. Hontas is free through the first, and I just added it to my Kindle.

 

 

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Christina McMullen’s Dissonant (Eyes of the Sun Series)
Okay, admittedly I haven’t read the Eyes of the Sun Series (yet). But I have read Christina’s superhero parody A Shot at the Bigtime, and her YA mashup Kind of Like Life is probably my favorite indie book so far. Her writing is cleverly conceived, combining so many plot twists, familiar tropes, and such a tongue-in-cheek approach to storytelling that I fell quickly in love with this author’s style. Dissonant is free March 31. It involves vampires and genetics. I’m dying to read it!

 

Why do indies offer their books for free? To get you hooked. To get eyes on their titles, and draw you in. It isn’t because they’re inferior to traditionally published books. On the contrary, indie books will draw you in like no other books will! I hope I’ve convinced you to explore this world for yourself. If so, it’s perfect timing! Support for Indie Authors is running a free and discount promo this weekend, where you can download over a hundred other titles for free or 99 cents! Click the image below for details, and check out the trailers beneath it for even more exciting titles!

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Fellowship of Fantasy Magical March Giveaway

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Fellowship of Fantasy Magical March Giveaway

 

Promo Image with CoversHere Be Magic …

Enchanted lands, magical creatures, fairies and witches and … space wizards? You bet! We’ve got all that and more for our Fellowship of Fantasy March ebook giveaway. Sixteen authors are offering sixteen adventures, along with a little something extra to make your month magical. Keep reading to learn more and get a closer look at a few books in the bundle.

Elise Edmonds-Where Carpets Fly
Where Carpets Fly
by Elise Edmonds

Elina Faramar finally leaves her family’s flying carpet shop when her father reluctantly agrees she can take magic lessons in nearby Kamikan. Urban life promises adventure, and new friend Kara shows her the sights.

However, Elina soon sees a darker side of life: a foreigner arrested at the circus, forbidden schoolhouse rooms with odd comings and goings, and unsociable pupil Simeon’s shady deals at the docks. Everything seems connected to the volatile neighbouring country of Pallexon, but no one will tell her why.

When Elina and Simeon develop a magical mind link, he seems close to confiding in her. But an unexpected voyage takes Elina and Kara away from answers and towards unknown danger in Pallexon.

Alone in a strange country, with no identity papers, the situation rapidly turns into a nightmare when Kara is mistaken for a spy. With her own freedom at stake, Elina must rely on her wits and magic to save her friend and unravel the secrets of Pallexon.

Intisar Khanani-Sunbolt
Sunbolt
by Intisar Khanani

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

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Have a look at the entire collection of ebooks, and enter below to win them all–as well as a custom wand similar to the ones pictured here–for your very own.

Giveaway runs from March 2-17. The winner will be notified by email on March 18. [FoF reserves the right to substitute the custom wand with something of equal value for anyone outside the US or Canada.]

Click here to enter, and good luck!

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!

Best Sellers! Kinda

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Best Sellers! Kinda

As you probably know if you read my blog last week, I started a free book promo on Amazon Wednesday. I had no idea how it would go. Call of Kythshire was the first to be available free, from Wednesday through Saturday. Call of Sunteri was free on Friday and Saturday.

Overall it was a good run, I think.  Kythshire hit #1 in its category on Wednesday night, and then the two books sat at #2 and #3 Best Sellers for the remainder of the promotion. I had thousands of downloads throughout the promo, which was  really thrilling!

I hope that those who downloaded my book actually read it and enjoy it. I really do. I have said all along that I’m not looking to become a millionaire off of my writing. I do it because I love it. I don’t want it to turn into “work” for me. I just want to share my stories and my artwork with an audience. I want them to lose themselves in the world that I’ve created, just for a little while.

I’m also hoping for a good chunk of reviews. Good ones, hopefully. So, if you have read Call of Kythshire or Call of Sunteri, I’d love it if you’d let the folks at Amazon know what you thought of them! Let me know, too!