Call of Elespen: Blog Tour and Free Books

Today I have the pleasure of helping another author with the release of her fantasy novel: The Call of Elespen. This is the fifth book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, and I have to tell you, it looks amazing! In addition to being a writer, Missy Sheldrake does her own illustrations, which are absolutely beautiful.

Keepers-of-the-Wellsprings-banner

This epic fantasy series tells the sweeping tale of a time when ruthless Sorcerers threatened the delicate balance of the Wellsprings–secret pools of magic revered and fiercely protected by fairy-kind for decades. 

Today, November 29th, Missy is offering ALL FOUR of the previous novels for FREE in celebration of Book 5′s release! You can find them HERE

About the The Call of Elespen

Call-of-Elespen-Book-Spotlight“Four offerings claimed. Two left. One, I can easily get. Ceras’lain. The other, Elespen. I don’t know much about that place. Only what I saw from the ship while I escaped from Sunteri. A jungle on either side of a wide river. A city I was forbidden to enter. Forbidden, even though I didn’t even realize it at the time…” -Tib, Dreamstalker, escaped slave

“They know our victory is nearing. They know we’re the Champions of Light. They’d rather keep us here, trapped in their lair, distracted from our quest to restore Brindelier and claim the Wellsprings.” -Flitt, fairy companion to Sir Azi Hammerfel

A vindictive Sorcerer King with a century-old grudge has spent decades gathering an army obsessed with claiming what their master feels he’s owed. Threatened by his dark dealings and sinister followers, will the Champions of Light succeed in claiming Brindelier’s Wellspring for the Dawn, or will its vast power fall forever into the hands of the unforgiving Dusk?

Who will triumph, Dawn or Dusk? Ally yourself with dragons, fairies, mages, knights, and muses in the epic conclusion to the Keepers of the Wellsprings series.

A word from the author

When I started writing and illustrating this series, I really wanted to tell a story that was rich with fantasy, but not overly dark or mired with war and violence. I wanted to show the light side of fantasy: the cheerful, magical, uplifting side which I always drink up whenever it emerges in a story, and which always seems to be so fleeting in fantasy tales. I wanted to tell a story that would capture the hearts of young and old alike. Don’t get me wrong, my books aren’t void of conflict and evil. There is mild violence and not-so-mild wickedness, but it’s those moments in my stories which are the fleeting ones. In the pages of my books, you will find fairies, Mages, Paladins, Elves, Dreamwalkers, Princes and Princesses, and even dragons. You’ll travel through a world rich with magic and wonder. You’ll make new, unforgettable friends.

The Call of Elespen: An Excerpt

by

Missy Sheldrake

(In this excerpt, Azi is rudely awakened by her overly excited fairy companion, Flitt.)

After a long day of meetings, planning, and preparing for the Dawn’s next steps, I fall into my bed and bury my face in my pillow. The sweet, familiar lavender and rose fragrance of Mouli’s laundering soap soothes me to sleep almost instantly. I dream of pleasant, fleeting things as I burrow deep into my soft, downy bed.

“Azi,” tiny hands pat the side of my nose and Flitt’s light dances behind my eyelids as she raps on my brow. “Azi,” she whispers again, this time a little more insistently. 

I groan and burrow deeper into my bed in protest, and she tugs at the unraveling strands of my braid. 

“Azi, wake up!” she squeaks just above a whisper. “It’s urgent!”

My eyes fly open. I bolt upright in my bed. My heart races. Across the room, Mercy jumps in its stand. “What is it?” I gasp, flinging my warm, downy blanket away. “Is it the Dusk? Are they attacking?”

One bare foot touches the cold floor as my sword lands in my outstretched hand. I’m halfway to my armor stand before Flitt darts into my face.

“Shh, shh, shh!” she hisses, pressing her surprisingly non-sticky hands to my lips. “It isn’t anything like that! You’re out of sugar cubes again! It’s like Mouli’s forgotten all about me!”

I stare in disbelief at the bright fairy, blinking the sleep from my eyes. Mercy slides from my loosening grasp and floats to set itself in place on its stand. Call of Hywilkin illustrationWith a groan, I fall back into bed and pull the blankets up over my head. 

“You said it was urgent,” I say thickly through a yawn.

“Well, it is. I’m hungry!” Her squeaky voice, muffled by the comforter, drifts closer. I feel her feet on the side of my head and pull the blankets tighter around myself. “I can’t help it if I’ve been up dancing all night while you were being lazy. A fairy has things to do, you know. Important things.”

“Sure, important things,” I yawn again.

“You don’t believe me,” Flitt huffs. I feel her land by my arm. There’s the sound of a scuffle and a tug on the blanket. She manages to get an edge pulled out of my grasp, and she peeks inside. Light bursts from her face, blinding me with sudden, twinkling rainbows. I screw my eyes shut in protest.

“Of course I believe you,” I say, poking my head out into the cold in surrender. “Could you tone it down a little, maybe?”

“Sorry,” she whispers, giggling, and dims her glow. “But you’re awake now! Hurrah!”

“Hurrah,” I mumble, scooting back to prop myself against my pillow. I glance to my shuttered window as I reach for the cup on my bedside table to take a sip of water. The light of the waning moon spills through the slats, competing with Flitt’s colors as it stretches across the floorboards.

I set the mug back on the table and open the drawer, revealing the stash of sugar cubes I’d grabbed earlier on the way back to my room. 

“There,” I say, utterly annoyed.

“Yes!” Flitt squeaks. “You’re the best, Azi. Really.” She dives into the drawer and shoves several cubes into her belt pouch. To my surprise, as hungry as she claimed to be, she doesn’t eat any.

“Do you want to know who I was dancing with?” she asks, now that she’s sure I’m fully awake. She keeps her voice much quieter than usual and glances over her shoulder toward the circle hatch. The ribbons of her skirt rise and fall as she sighs dreamily, twirling in place. “Bet you can’t guess.”

My mood shifts. Maybe it’s because I was just dreaming, or maybe it’s because I’m overly anxious over the looming battle, but something about her here in my room, dancing and glowing in the moonlight, makes my heart swell with love for the little fae. My irritation over being woken up in the middle of the night is easily pushed aside by my affection for her. Just a few short years ago, I never would have imagined a scene like this could be real. If I’d told someone there was a fairy in my bedroom, Uncle most definitely would have had my head examined.

“Hey, Dreamy,” Flitt whispers, diving toward my face. She stops short of my nose and taps it with her finger. “You’re supposed to guess!”

“Oh,” I say. “Um, Twig?”

She shushes me again, clinging to my cheek, and glances toward Rian’s room.

“Not Twig,” she whispers. “And can you keep your voice down?”

“Why?” I ask.

“You can’t answer a question with a question!” she whispers. 

“I didn’t know we were play—”

“Shh!”

“For the ever-loving—” I start to growl, and Flitt squeaks and darts to my ear. 

“I don’t want to wake up Stinky,” she whispers. “When was the last time we had a talk, just you and me, huh? If he comes in here, he’ll stick himself to your face all the way ‘til morning, and I just want to talk to you without him around because you’re mine and I’m yours and just this once I don’t want to share!”

Slowly, I turn my head to face her. She hovers in the air, even with my eyes, her fists clenched at her sides, her cheeks red, her eyes narrowed.

“Flitt,” I whisper, trying hard to keep the bemusement out of my voice, “are you jealous of Rian?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she huffs, crossing her arms. She purses her lips. Her nostrils flare out. This close, I can see the beautiful shift of color in her eyes: fuchsia, orange, violet.

“You are,” I say, biting my lip to keep myself from smiling.

–Excerpt from Call of Elespen, Keepers of the Wellsprings, Book Five, by Missy Sheldrake

About the Author

author picMissy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another for as long as she can remember. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths of her neighborhood, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies in her dreams allow it.

Galleries of illustrations and excerpts from the Keepers of the Wellsprings series can be viewed on her website and blog.

Missy can also be found on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodreads, and Pinterest. Her books are available on Amazon. 

~ jenelle

A New Adventure + Giveaway: The Student and the Slave

Good morning, dear Reader!

3 covers and series title

If you are tuning in from the States, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. And from anywhere else, I hope you had a lovely week of November! Today I have the pleasure of participating in a blog tour for Annie Douglass Lima and her newest book, THE STUDENT AND THE SLAVE, which is part of her fantasy-adventure series. Some of you may remember that I had one of her characters over for an INTERVIEW a while back, which was a lot of fun.

The Student and the Slave is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, set in an alternate world much like our own, but with a few major differences. One of those differences is that slavery is legal in the Krillonian Empire. Slaves wear metal collars around their necks, making their status obvious to all. Another difference is the sport cavvara shil, a popular martial art style of combat in which the opponents face each other with a cavvarach (a sort of sword with a steel hook that protrudes from one end).

cavvarach

StudentSlaveIs this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

The Student and the Slave: an excerpt

In this excerpt, a series of choices have thrust Bensin into involvement in a battle between two street gangs.

The Corner Creepers fought with renewed desperation, as though the two trucks’ approach signaled the end of hope for them. The guy currently going at it with Bensin tried to edge him into the street as though to block the big truck’s way. Out of the corner of his eye he saw several others attempting the same thing. 

The truck slowed, honking, as fighters forced each other into the road in front of it. One Corner Creeper sprang onto its back step, fumbling with the closed metal doors, but a Silverhead leaped out of the pickup and tackled him. The two of them fell onto the asphalt, the pickup barely swerving in time to avoid them.

The man fighting Bensin suddenly broke away and leaped toward the vehicles, club extended, and Bensin was startled to see a knife blade spring out from the club’s tip. Does the one I’ve got have a hidden blade in it too? But there was no time to investigate. Realizing his opponent was planning to slash the tires, Bensin sprinted after him, tackling him there on the pavement, grabbing for his weapon. The truck rolled by inches from their struggling bodies.

Intrigued? Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for a discounted price of 99 cents through November 31st!

About the Author

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern Annie Douglass LimaCalifornia. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the author online:

BLOG

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

GOODREADS

And now for the giveaway! You could win an Amazon gift-card or digital copies of the first two books in the series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

~ jenelle

Scaling the Cliffs of Insanity

If writing a novel is like hiking up Everest, editing that novel can often feel like scaling the cliffs of insanity… while Vizzini is sawing away at the rope you’re clinging to.

Today I’m going to share a little “behind the page” peek at my editing process. I’m going to show you a progression of a portion of a scene from rough draft to almost-final draft, with some screen-shots of my editors’ notes thrown in for good measure.

Rough Draft — Minstrel’s Call, from Chapter 41

The air around her seemed to turn cold and Kaitryn shivered then sighed as the temperature returned to normal. She looked down to see herself clad similarly to Yole. She reached up and touched her face, grimacing as her fingers came in contact with unfamiliar features. Her hair was short and she assumed it was dark as well, she ran her fingers through it, mussing it a little and getting used to the strangeness of it. She wrapped her illusory cloak about her shoulders and set her chin determinedly. The drawbridge was down by now and something was emerging from the shadows within the fortress. 

“We won’t have long,” Kaitryn whispered, “our timing is going to have to be nearly perfect.”

With Kaitryn leading the way they raced along the wall towards the bridge, stumbling a little in places where the ocean water had lapped up on the small amount of shore near the bulwark and made the ground slippery. More than once, Yole had to keep Kaitryn from sliding down into the water. The strip of land got narrower the closer they got to the front gate, until it was nothing more than a narrow ledge. They made it to the bridge and were able to duck down under the great beams just before the creature emerging from the fortress passed over them.

“Zdeanak,” Yole hissed slightly, pushing Kaitryn down further below the bridge. “Who?” Kaitryn asked.

“I’ll tell you later, wait until he passes and then we can duck inside behind him, let me go first and follow as quickly and as closely as you can. Careful…” Yole peered up through the space between the two planks they were hiding beneath, “it doesn’t look as though anyone is watching… now, go now!”

They scrambled silently up the ledge and slipped under the great chain that was attached to their side of the drawbridge. Two silent shadows, they turned the corner and ducked down behind a group of barrels that had been placed just inside the doorway. They stared at each other in terrified elation, they were inside the fortress. Kaitryn poked her head up to risk a quick examination of their surroundings. Immediately before them was a large open area, much like a courtyard except that there were no growing things within it. Beyond the open area were some covered walkways, supported by columns of great diameter. Rising up above the covered walkways was the fortress which they had been able to see the top of from outside the wall. Everything was built out of some sort of dark gray stone, but it was not drab, the stone seemed to have some kind of crystal running through it, for the walls and columns all sparkled in places whenever light was allowed to touch them.

“It’s almost beautiful,” Kaitryn breathed wonderingly.

“If there were some trees or grass and everything wasn’t black or gray,” Yole agreed. “Get down!” A couple of guards or sentries passed by them, almost close enough to touch. Luckily, they were facing the wrong direction and Yole had time to pull Kitry back into their hiding place.

Now… it’s an interesting scene, but there are a lot of extra words in there… and many of them are “weak” words like “seemed” and “something.” And while I personally love adverbs, there are some unnecessary ones in there, as well as repeated words.

Here is a screen-shot of my content-editor’s notes on this section:

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 3.48.14 PM

I’m glad the comments pane in Pages shows up in yellow. Red would be a bit too hard to take… *grin*

Here is the revised version, which I sent to my beta-readers and line-editor… I have AMAZING beta readers and editors, who do a good job keeping me “honest.” Their notes make me a better writer.

Revised Excerpt — Minstrel’s Call, from Chapter 41

The air around her grew cool and Kaitryn shivered then sighed as the temperature returned to normal. She looked down to see herself clad similarly to Yole. She reached up and touched her face, grimacing as her fingers came in contact with unfamiliar features. Her hair was short, she ran her fingers through it, mussing it and getting used to the strangeness of it. She wrapped her illusory cloak about her shoulders and set her chin determinedly. Shadowy figures were emerging from the shadows within the fortress. 

“We won’t have long,” Kaitryn whispered, “our timing will need to be perfect.”

With Kaitryn leading the way they raced along the wall towards the bridge, stumbling in places where the ocean cut into the shore. More than once, Yole had to keep Kaitryn from falling. The strip of land grew narrower the closer they got to the front gate, until it was just a tiny ledge. They made it to the bridge and were able to duck down under the great beams just before the creature emerging from the fortress passed over them.

“Zdeanak,” Yole hissed slightly, pushing Kaitryn down further below the bridge.

“Who?” Kaitryn asked.

“I’ll tell you later, wait until he passes and then we can slip inside behind him, let me go first and follow as quickly and as closely as you can. Careful…” Yole peered up through the space between the two planks they were hiding beneath, “it doesn’t look as though anyone is watching… now, go now!”

They scrambled silently up the ledge and slipped under the great chain that was attached to their side of the drawbridge. Two silent shadows, they turned the corner and hid behind a placement of barrels just inside the entrance. They stared at each other in terrified elation. They were inside the fortress. 

Kaitryn poked her head up to risk a quick examination of their surroundings. Immediately before them was a large open area, much like a courtyard except that there were no plants, no gardens, no grasses. Beyond the courtyard were covered walkways supported by massive columns, and higher still were the tall, flat black walls of the fortress. Everything was built out of a chalky, gray stone, but it was not drab, for the stone had veins of crystal running through it, and the walls and columns all shimmered wherever light was allowed to touch them.

“It’s almost beautiful,” Kaitryn breathed.

“If it isn’t beautiful, it is certainly spectacular,” Yole agreed. “Get down!” A couple of guards or sentries passed by them, close enough to touch. Luckily, they were facing the wrong direction and Yole had time to pull Kitry back into their hiding place.

And here are the additional notes I received back from my editors/betas. 

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 3.31.20 PM

If you can read any of that, the thing I would love to draw your attention to is their reaction to my oh-so-eloquent line, “Shadowy figures were emerging from the shadows within the fortress.”

I can just picture them all shaking their heads at me over this one. Note that one of them didn’t even have a suggestion, but just wrote, “Just… just read this out loud.” Well, at least her faith in my good sense never wavered.

Also, please note the number of comments, tweaks, and suggestions AFTER the first round of revisions! Editing is a many-layered process! 

Taking their notes into consideration… here is the final version (well, before the proofread/polishing, anyway… but that shouldn’t change too much):

Final draft — Minstrel’s Call, from Chapter 41

The air around her grew cool and Kaitryn shivered. She looked down to see herself clad similarly to Yole. Touching her face, she grimaced as her fingers came in contact with unfamiliar features. She ran her fingers through her new hair, chopped short, mussing it and getting used to the unfamiliar feel and marveling that Yole could create such a powerful illusion. She wrapped her raggedy cloak about her shoulders and set her chin determinedly. Together, they crept along, moving towards the land bridge.

Before they had gone very far, they heard a creaking, groaning sound mixed with the clanking of metal. Yole looked up and his eyes widened. “Move!” he hissed, propelling Kaitryn forward and diving after her, pulling her down behind an outcropping of rock.

“Wha…?” Kaitryn began, but Yole’s hand clamped over her mouth, preventing her from saying more.

An instant later, a large section of the wall broke away and swung towards them, one side of a massive gate opening out. Kaitryn’s breath caught as a large green dragon emerged. He flew across the water and landed on the other end of the bridge.

“Zdeanak,” Yole hissed slightly, pushing Kaitryn towards the bridge. “Go!” 

“Who?” Kaitryn asked, stumbling as she scrambled forward and into the space below the bridge.

“I’ll tell you later.” Yole panted, joining her and peering up at the entrance. “No one is watching, come on!”

Holding her breath, Kaitryn followed Yole; together, they slipped around the massive gate. Silent shadows, they turned the corner and ducked behind a stack of barrels just inside the entrance. They stared at each other in terrified elation. They were inside. 

Kaitryn poked her head up to risk a quick examination of their surroundings. Immediately before them was an empty open area, much like a courtyard except that there were no plants, no gardens, no grasses. Beyond the courtyard were covered walkways supported by massive columns, and higher still were the tall, flat black walls of the fortress. Everything was constructed from the same black stone, but it was not drab, closer inspection revealed that the stones contained veins of brilliant crystal, and the walls and columns shimmered wherever light was allowed to touch them.

“It’s almost beautiful,” Kaitryn breathed.

“If it isn’t beautiful, it is certainly spectacular,” Yole agreed. “Get down!” Yole pulled Kitry back inside their hiding space as a couple of sentries passed by, close enough to touch. 

In the end, I cut 148 words from this short passage and cleaned and tightened a lot. Hopefully you can tell the difference! 

If you read all the way through this long and technical post… CONGRATULATIONS! I hope this glimpse into my editing process was useful or informational or entertaining… at the very least.

So tell me: What does your editing process look like?

~ jenelle