I know I’ve been quiet here in blog land, but I have a great excuse. I’ve been busy writing and illustrating Call of Elespen! I’m up to Chapter 13 now, with a total word count of 41,069.
I’m not going to tell you anything at all about the following illustrations, posted in no particular order. I’ll let you wonder what’s happening based on what you see. You can click on each pic to see a larger version.
Which one do you like the most, and why? Let me know in the comments! Feel free to ask a question if you have one. I’ll answer anything that’s not a spoiler. 😉
All images are Copyright 2017 Missy Sheldrake, so please don’t share without crediting me.
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!
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! ❤
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:
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:
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!
Writing is a funny thing. For me, it comes in bursts. There are days when I wake up early and write well into the morning, and days when I sit restlessly at my keyboard, desperate for an idea.
I finally broke through my snowday-related writer’s block and wrote two chapters yesterday. I’m really hoping to keep my momentum despite a busy weekend coming up, and a busy beginning of next week, too.
Here’s the current status of Call of Brindelier, Keepers of the Wellsprings Book Three:
Percent Complete: 80-85%
For me, a long nature walk helps me get through a block. I find myself inspired by music, art, and television. How do you break through your writer’s block? Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Every once in a while I offer my ebooks for free to give readers a chance to jump into the Keepers of the Wellsprings series. I’m excited to announce that Call of Kythshire is FREE from 2/23-2/25 on Amazon!
My debut novel is a five-star fantasy series hailed for its thoughtful and detailed world, its entertaining twists and turns, and its strong female protagonist.
A swordfighting squire must unravel a sorcerous plot which threatens the peace of her country, Cerion, and the existence of its allies, the mysterious and secretive fairies of Kythshire.
Here’s a fabulous review I received on Goodreads from Owen O’Neil, author of the Loralynn Kennakris series:
I found this to be a quite enjoyable fantasy novel with an engaging main character and an intriguing plot that developed nicely. The world was introduced in enough detail to keep me informed without being burdensome, and the story is a good mix of lighthearted elements with more serious action. The prose is uncluttered and avoids straying into otiose verbiage in an attempt to achieve a “fantastical” effect.
The story is told in first-person, present-tense, which is not my favorite narrative style as it often leads an author into distracting circumlocutions to overcome this style’s inherent limitations, but it works here. For me, this choice did not add a great deal to the story; I think it could have been told as effectively in another style, but it flowed well and kept me engaged. The only drawback—and it is a minor one—is that as the narrative progressed and the cast of characters grew, the limitations imposed by the POV resulted in me finding some the secondary characters a bit indistinct, which made them a little hard to keep track of at times. But I wasn’t unduly bothered by this, and I feel this was probably better than introducing potentially awkward elements to give additional context and background.
Overall, I found this story to be an superior effort, especially for a debut novel, and I would recommend it as an enjoyable fantasy that leans to lighter side. I will be reading the next book.
A lot of the first book of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, Call of Kythshire, happens in one setting: the guild hall of His Majesty’s Elite. This setting is one of my favorites in the books, because it’s a place that I feel like I’ve actually been to. I can picture the splintered wood benches in the sparring square, hear the ring of Benen’s hammer from the forge, and smell the wood smoke from the great hearth in the meeting hall.
The artist in me feels that art (and writing) is created to be seen, shared, and entertaining, so I’m sharing my books for free with you this week in the hopes that you read them and truly enjoy them. If you do, please share them with a friend or even better, write a review! Reviews are so important to the author. Ratings are one of the first things prospective readers look at on the book’s listing to decide whether a book is worth reading.
My goal in publishing these books is to entertain and delight. I’m not looking to be the next millionaire author or J.K. Rowling, but I do want people to read and enjoy and maybe drop me a line to let me know what you loved about my stories.
I hope you read Call of Kythshire this week! Here’s one of my favorite scenes from the book, in which Azi and Rian meet Flit for the first time: Read the rest of this entry