It’s Release Day for GRUDGING by Michelle Hauck!

Here’s a release I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: GRUDGING, by Michelle Hauck! I have a feeling that, once you read the excerpt below, you’ll be clamoring for it, too.




Author: Michelle Hauck

Pub. Date: November 17, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Format: eBook
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.


The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.


On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.


The Women of the Song.


But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.


A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.


Shortly after the combat, Ramiro made his excuses to the men at the wall and left,
returning to the citadel and taking the stairs to the roof. Some alcalde’s wife from the past had turned this spot into an outdoor garden and dining room, making it a favorite retreat
for many. A peaceful place when he felt anything but.
Other people’s blood spotted his white shirt. Had things gone differently, it could
easily have been his own. He needed a bath and a rest, but his mind hummed from
the conflict, leaving him unable to stop pacing. Cold chills claimed his limbs.
His stomach was sourer than when alcohol had filled it. With no clear single-combat
victory, he hadn’t earned his beard. The night reeked of disappointment.
How long? How long could they keep the Northerners out?
Stars spotted the night sky here, where the citadel met the top of the world. Or so
it had always seemed to him as a child. Life was no longer so certain now that
he was older.
He drew in the cool scent of creeping jasmine, carefully tended and watered by
hand in pots across the rooftop. Colina Hermosa spread before him, a humbling
sight. The city stretched away from the citadel on all sides, a jewel shining
with lights. It spread down the hill, becoming wider and grander as it
sprawled, with imposing avenues and white-clad stucco buildings whose thick
walls and small windows kept out the noonday heat. There was squalor and dirt
as well, fits of temper, rudeness, and often impatience. But the darkness hid
all that, washing the city of its faults and giving it a fresh life until it
tumbled like the sea against the immovable stone walls that now held out the
His heart swelled with love. Something worth defending. Home.
Outside the high, white walls, well beyond arrow shot, was a sight not so welcoming.
There, jammed between the city and a deep, old quarry used to build the city
walls, campfires burned. A red swarm of rage and death, brimstone and smoke,
offering a grim contrast with the peaceful firmament. Not by the hundreds did
they burn, but by the thousands, mirroring the stars in the sky. How many
peasants’ houses did they demolish to feed so much hungry fire? They must be
down to burning cacti. How they kept it up night after night, he couldn’t begin
to comprehend. Salvador had talked on about supply trains and quartermasters, but Ramiro had let his imagination dwell on his first ride instead. An indulgence he regretted now.
If only each fire meant a single enemy, but that was wishful thinking. Each fire
contained tens of men. Tens and thousands. And behind them, the siege machines
waited their turn. A lethal combination for Colina Hermosa.
He touched the spot above his spleen, and whispered, “Santiago, don’t let me give in
to despair.”

About Michelle: 

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. She’s repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

For When You Need a Lift

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.

–Joss Whedon

I keep a digital file called “For when you need a lift,” and I typically visit it about once or twice a month to poke around at all the goodies I’ve saved. It’s stuffed full of emails and notes I like to reread, as well as screen captures of tweets and memes like this quote from Victoria Schwab:

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 12.07.24 PM

But mostly it’s made up of posts and articles from authors I admire that, for one reason or another, bolster my spirits when it comes to writing and creative work. I thought it might be nice to share a list of these resources in case others find them helpful. I’m sure you’ve seen some of these before! 


More Wanda Maximoff, Please

**This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron, so proceed at your own risk!**

There’s been a lot of talk about the Black Widow’s representation in Age of Ultron (AOU), and that’s cool. Conversation is good. I’ve seen the film twice now, and I actually liked her backstory–but enough people are talking about that.

What I don’t understand is why no one’s talking about Wanda Maximoff.


I’m not saying that Ultron passed the Bechdel or anything, but everyone seems to be forgetting that there is another female Avenger now. I’m pretty sure AOU can’t call her the Scarlet Witch because Sony owns the rights to X-Men (although I did find her action figure, so I’m not sure) but that’s who she is, and I seriously loved her.

Wanda’s got a pretty cool arc in Ultron. She’s powerful, and she has agency. As an antagonist, she’s directly responsible for Hulk’s smashing spree. After she realizes Ultron’s out to destroy, she’s the one who foils his plan, paving the way for Vision. 

In the course of the film, she gets to be angry, afraid, and tough. 

Plus, she totally gets the best shot in the movie:










Book Recommendation Redux: THE MASKED SONGBIRD By Emmie Mears

25302137Title: THE MASKED SONGBIRD (SHRIKE Book 1)
Author: Emmie Mears


Disclaimer: Let it be known that I purchased this book of my own free will and enjoyed it so much that I’m posting a recommendation/review.

I reviewed this book in October when it was released as THE MASKED SONGBIRD. It rereleases today, so it’s a perfect time to remind everyone how incredible it is.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonising her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Superpowers don’t make a superhero. Real strength isn’t something you’re born with — it’s something you build.


I adored this book.

The voice. This voice is everything I want from first person. Gwen is fun to hang around with, and you never quite know what she’ll do next–which is why it’s totally believable that she’d suck down an open beverage when she finds herself in desperate need of one (no spoilers here!).

The story is rigorously true to its own internal logic, and to Gwen’s character. I know her well, so I believe in her choices. She may be hapless from the beginning, as the blurb tells us, but it’s clear she’s tough even before she can leap onto rooftops. She’s good at her job, yet she’s stuck with an evil boss. She’s bad at budgeting, but she doesn’t “solve” the problem by throwing expensive meals/shoes/etc. on credit cards (or hell, even affordable ones–the woman is barely surviving). She has flaws, interesting flaws that directly effect the direction of the novel. She’s also competent enough before she gets her super strength that I believe in her ass-kicking abilities when she does find she has powers–and in the loyalty and kindness that drive her to use them. It’s beautifully done.

The supporting characters are also intriguing. Gwen’s evil boss makes all other evil bosses look like kittens. Her neighbor is a-dor-a-ble. Her flatmate is charming. And her boyfriend…yeah, I think I dated him once. Even those who appear only briefly are memorable and nuanced, which I love–layers and secrets keep me guessing all the way through.

This book strikes a beautiful balance between a fun origin story and a serious contemplation of the price involved in becoming a hero. That choice fascinates me, as do the consequences. I think about it more than I should, probably. I love superheroes. I wrote a novel about superheroes. I was proudly biased when I started reading The Masked Songbird, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was thrilled to see a female superhero who faces these choices and the sacrifices that come with them, who rises to the occasion just like Cap and Spider Man–but (I’m itching to tell you more, but I won’t) brings her own unique spin to the story, too.

What surprised me the most about this novel was its depth of heart. It’s clear from page one that it’s going to be a fun read, but woe betide you if you go in expecting Emmie Mears to pull any punches. She raises the stakes throughout the novel, and she delivers. There’s a line in the climax that hit me so hard I had to put my e-reader down for a few minutes to catch my breath. It’s a moment that could be cheesy, but Ms. Mears pulls it off without sugary sentiment.

Is it too soon to ask for a Gwen Maule TV series? In the vein of Arrow? I’d love that. More importantly though, there’s a sequel on the way–which means lots more quality time with Gwen!


March News Roundup

March flew by, with lots happening on the writing front:

You can still get your hands on the Cactus Heart’s Speculative Issue, e-Issue #11, which I guest edited! It’s $5 for a gorgeous PDF.

And speaking of Cactus Heart, go find their table at AWP, where you’ll be able to pick up a print copy of The Egret’s Crossing: A Collection of Adventure Stories! I have a story in it, titled “The Oft-Mistold Tale of Lord Oliver and the Fae.” You can also order a PDF of the collection here for $5.

As for current projects, I’m in the middle of an epic fantasy novel, which I’m just calling SOULS for now. It has a title, but I don’t feel like broadcasting it quite yet. Don’t have many details to share (gotta stay tight lipped on my early drafts), but you could peek at my inspiration board on Pinterest here. Not much there yet, but it’s growing!

Lots more exciting news will be forthcoming in April–stay tuned!

Some stuff that’s been catching my eye:

Emmie Mears did a badass blog and Vlog series on Surviving the Query Trenches. Watch/read it, then check out the rest of her blog for craft advice, publishing news/opinions, and giggle-worthy Supernatural GIFs. And then buy her books.

Tabitha Blankenbiller is doing us all a service by rounding up weekly publications and awards on her website. And in case she leaves it out of the list, she had a beautiful essay in Hobart last week: Fiesta Barbie.

Kelly Davio’s doing an amazing series on The Butter called The Waiting Room–if you haven’t been reading her posts, you’re missing out.

And finally, Laura Heffernan has an overview of April writing contests (the kind for catching agents): on her blog.