This Sunday Sketch is something I think about a lot…What if fairies are everywhere, hiding in plain sight?
If you’ve read my books, you know each title refers to the place where the book is set. The series starts with Call of Kythshire, which focuses mainly on Kythshire and the wide variety of fairies who live in its enchanted glens, forests, and mountains. From there we have traveled to Sunteri, Brindelier, and Hywilkin.
The Known Lands, as I call the world of the Keepers of the Wellsprings, are as vast and varied as our own. Like ours, so are its people, geography, and creatures. Look at the map above, and you’ll notice one continent which has been largely ignored in the series up until now: Elespen.
I’m not sure I’ve made an official announcement yet, and so I’ll take this opportunity to do it. The fifth and final book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series will be titled Call of Elespen!
Elespen is a land of jungles and deserts, geographically inspired by areas of Africa and India. I love the idea of long forgotten ruins, overgrown with lush jungle plants and inhabited by stealthy, mysterious magic.
You can see a few more inspiring images on my Elespen Pinterest board.
Elespen has been mentioned a few times in my previous books. Mya was born there, and Tib sailed down its Jairun River on his way to Cerion in Call of Sunteri:
(AUTHOR’S NOTE! Don’t be afraid! The following excerpt is spoiler-free!)
We sail into the mouth of the river they call Jairun. I don’t like it. We move slower here through the center of Elespen. The jungle creeps into the water on both sides of us. Days more of this. Days of watching jungle become village and jungle again, and then sand and only sand as far as I can see. An ocean of sand. Too much like Sunteri. Too much like the home I never wanted to see again. I feel the panic rise in me. I don’t want to be in the desert.
Yes, sleep. I curl up in the safety of the fore nest, and when I wake the stars stretch out endlessly above me. Noise. Lapping and chatting. Laughing and shouting. Bargaining. Unloading. The thud of the hull against the pier as they tie it up.
“Boy!” Cap shouts. I slip down the ratlines and drop to his side. The deck is deserted except for the pair of watch guards at the gangway. I stand straight and look Cap in the eye, as he has told me to do. It keeps a man honest, he says, to meet his crew’s eyes.
“Sir!” I shout. He taught me to do that, too.
He tells me I’m a hard worker. I have earned five copper, which he jingles in a pouch. I like the sound of it. I have never held coin before. It has more weight than I expected. He tells me I can go ashore if I want to, and then he goes back below. I peer out at the city. Cresten. Capital of Elespen. It’s different from Zhaghen. Cleaner. Brighter, even in the starlight. Noisy, but the noise is happier. They don’t have towers here to watch and rule over them. Just a castle, low and sprawling. Music drifts merrily from the taverns into the street. People in beautiful colors dance in the glow of torchlight. Others toss coin at them. Even in the night, merchants in booths cook and sell. The aroma is exotic and flavorful. My mouth waters.
I hope you’re as excited as I am to finally get to Elespen, where tribes of elephant riders lurk in the dense jungle, and even the vegetation itself can’t be trusted. I won’t say any more here, you’ll just have to wait until the end of the year when Call of Elespen is released, and read for yourself!
Check back soon for more updates, and be sure to click here and join my mailing list for upcoming contests and promotions!
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:
And you’ll travel with old favorites like Azi and Rian:
And of course, Tib!
And don’t forget Celli and Quenson!
All the other books in the series are available for free today only! (March 3, 2017) Click here to download them!
As an artist and a visual person, it’s really difficult sometimes to just leave things be, visually. Because of that, the covers of my books have undergone a few changes since the series began. Admittedly, there were more changes than there probably should have been.
It’s because of this that my paperback covers vary slightly from my ebook covers. When I first designed the cover for Call of Kythshire, I fell in love with the curly Respective font, which reminded me of Mage Mark:
Since I first published my paperbacks with this cursive font, I have felt the need to keep it consistent throughout the series whenever I release a new paperback, even though later versions of my ebook covers look like this:
I changed the title font of this cover so it reads better in a thumbnail on a webpage like Amazon. I’d love to change my paperback titles to this font as well, but I understand that my readers prefer consistency across all of their copies. For that reason, the Call of Hywilkin paperback cover looks like this:
Tada! Isn’t it pretty?! I’m so excited about this book, I’m going to tell you a little secret. It’s available now for pre-order! Click here to grab it!
March 3 is the official release date for Book 4, and I’m planning a big promo for that day. Check back here for details, coming soon!
An excerpt and illustration from Book Four of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, coming February 2017:
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.
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.
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!
Even though it’s book two, don’t be shy. Reviewers have said it stands alone well:
And those who have read the first one love this one even more:
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.
For more details about this series or to sign up for my mailing list, visit my website: www.missysheldrake.com
It’s time to spice things up a little with an Amazon giveaway for the first book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series: Call of Kythshire! Here’s the link to enter to win your illustrated Kindle ebook copy:
Fellow authors, do you have a giveaway or promo going on? If so, feel free to post the details in the comments. Good luck!
I would love to write an eloquent blog post about how thrilled I am to have been reviewed by the prestigious Reader’s Favorite editorial team, but it’s very difficult to do so while I’m bouncing up and down from excitement. So I’ll just put this right here:
“In Call of Kythshire, the first book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series by Missy Sheldrake, Azaeli Hammerfel is a young girl training to become a Squire and join His Majesty’s Elite. After a hard fight to earn the honor, she is shocked to discover that her name is left out of those going on the King’s Quest. Her parents and the rest of her guild are going, even a rival she soundly managed to beat has been bestowed the honor. Despite the slight, she doesn’t get a chance to dwell on the injustice long, as tragedy befalls the party. Her mother is missing and her father is gravely injured, raving about mysterious creatures. Determined to find out what happened, Azaeli enlists the help of her best friend Rian. Together they discover the existence of fairies as well as the plot to wipe out the mysterious creatures and steal their magic. Now, Azaeli must not only find out what has happened to her mother but save the kingdom whose fate lies in the balance.
Call of Kythshire by Missy Sheldrake is an engaging young adult fantasy novel. The text is enhanced by bright and lively illustrations that detail many key scenes and characters. Sheldrake unfolds the plot at just the right pace, doling out mystery and intrigue in such a way that Call of Kythshire is nearly impossible to put down. The romance is light and sweet, as most of the focus is on Azaeli’s personal growth as opposed to romance. Still, Rian and Azaeli work well together, sacrificing and helping each other achieve their goal which is a big theme in Call of Kythshire. An enjoyable read for fans of young adult fantasy.”
-Kayti Nika Raet for Readers’ Favorite
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:
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! ❤
After a long summertime hiatus, I’m finally hard at work on Keepers of the Wellsprings, Book Four: Call of Hywilkin! Yay! I just started writing Chapter 5, with the working title “Inside the Wall.” Any idea what it could mean? I’ll give you a hint with the opening line of the book:
If you’re a reader, you know how important a book’s opening line is. For authors, it’s something some of us really agonize over. It needs to set the tone for the entire book, and pull the reader in with enough information to tell what’s happening and leave you wanting more.
If you’re an author, I’d love for you to share your first line here, with a link to your book or website! If you’re a reader, sit back, enjoy the comments, and maybe you’ll open the door to your next big adventure!