Release Day: GRUDGING by Michelle Hauck

Grudging

Title: GRUDGING

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.

Excerpt:

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 Northerners.

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_h (2)

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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook page | Tumblr | Goodreads

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GRUDGING Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Today Michelle Hauck and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for GRUDGING, Birth of Saints Book One series which releases November 17, 2015! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win a copy if the eBook!

On to the reveal!

Grudging

Title: GRUDGING

Author: Michelle Hauck

Pub. Date: November 17, 2015

Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse

Format: eBook

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | 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.

About Michelle: 

michelle_h (2)

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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook page | Tumblr | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive an eBook of GRUDGING. International

Click HERE to enter to win!

Guest Blog on Agent Exclusives

Author Photo - Michelle HauckBy Guest Blogger Michelle Hauck

My contests have put me in a sort of spotlight, being a high profile writer on twitter. I’ve done my share of querying and have heard just about everything. I’ve learned even more for watching and listening, and I tend to get asked for advice when writers just don’t know. One of those topics is agent exclusives.

While I don’t feel there are right or wrong ways to approach this subject, I do feel a little advice might help people make an informed decision. What follows is my opinion only. The answer to this decision will certainly vary depending on who you ask, but here are my thoughts. The best thing you can do is research the topic and go with your gut.

An exclusive is when an agent asks to be the only person to have your material. In other words, they would like first shot at it and want to have it all for themselves. While an exclusive may be a very exciting offer, there are a few downsides you should consider.

Existing Requests- First of all, you might already have a number of fulls and partials outstanding as well as unanswered query letters. If this isn’t your first round of querying, chances are an agent already has your work. Does an exclusive mean you have to withdraw those?

I would consider withdrawing partials and fulls already sent to be rude. It’s like a take back. Opps, I got a better offer, can you trash that sample I sent you? In the small world of publishing, it’s burning your bridges. You’re just not going to do that if you want to work in this business. Not without an actual offer on the table.

So no, you should not withdraw outstanding requests. And you’ll have to tell the exclusive agent that. Likely they won’t expect you to act in any other way and consider the exclusive to be on future requests.

New Requests- Just about every writer queries in batches. Say you sent a batch of ten query letters and one of the agents has come back with the request for an exclusive. The next day a fresh agent may request pages, or a query from three weeks ago comes back with a request, then what do you do?

Without naming names, you’ll have to tell the new agent you have an exclusive with another agent and you can’t send at the moment. Would it be all right if you sent when x time period is up? Then you hope they are still interested and don’t pass right away. In other words, they may say no thanks.

It will look something like this:

Dear Agent B:

I’m so happy to recieve your request for pages of TITLE. Unfortunately I just granted another agent an exclusive until the end of April. May I send TITLE to you when my exlusive expires?

Thank you so much,

Name

Or maybe there is a big contest coming up that you really wanted to enter. If you grant an exclusive, you have to kiss contests goodbye until that exclusive is over. You’ll be cheering from the sidelines.

The person losing out is the writer.

Timing- The length of time requested for an exclusive by an agent can vary from two weeks to a month. You might even be asked only for a week if you are lucky. I’m guessing the usual time period will be a month.

Be very careful if no time period is mentioned. You do not want to give an open-ended exclusive with no close date in sight. You do notwant to be waiting and wondering three months from now and unable to send out fresh queries.

It’s generally considered that two weeks is long enough and a month is being too generous. Some people even opt for just a week. I’d say the standard is two weeks.

Again, the person losing out is the writer because your hands are tied for however long you agree.

Power- An exclusive gives the agent all the cards. Normally when a writer receives an offer, they go to every agent with their query letter or pages and let them know. This is a way for a writer to get multiple offers, and hopefully, gives the writer a choice of agents to sign with. That gives you as a writer a stronger position.

If you grant an exclusive, you’ve pretty much cut out the chances of receiving offers from more than one agent. Especially if the time period on the exclusive is longer. No one else will have your query letter, and there will be less likelihood of having other outstanding material. Basically your choices are down to one. You’ve made the exclusive agent the only game in town.

Again, the person losing out is the writer. In most cases, an exclusive benefits the agents unless you are certain of an offer to follow.

The good thing is most exclusives are rare nowadays. I queried four different manuscripts and got asked for an exclusive only once. It’s very likely the agent will ask for an exclusive simply because it is their company policy. That was the case in my instance. That agent always asked for an exclusive. It was their procedure.

So what can you do?

First, consider the agent. While you don’t want to go about using the term “dream agent,” (If you don’t know about this, it’s basically because word tends to spread in publishing. People get to know each other. If you mention on twitter that you love Agent A, Agent B may not be too thrilled and may consider you already spoken for.) you do want to consider the source. Is this a powerful agency with a lot of top sales? Is this agent someone you believe you’d mesh well with? Does this agent have high profile sales?

You may have followed this agent on twitter and really like their style. Or you may be excited by how much they want to have your book all to themselves.

If that is true, your gut is going to lean toward allowing the exclusive. You might want to craft an answer something like this:

Dear Agent A:

Thank you so much for requesting to read TITLE. I’m excited to work with you. I do already have x partials and x fulls outstanding just to let you know. I don’t feel comfortable granting an exclusive for a month, but would be happy to send no future query letters or requested material for two weeks. I hope this works for you.

I’ve attached TITLE as a Word document. Thank you again. I look forward to hearing from you.

Name

Most agents are used to negotiating on contracts. It’s what they do. Odds are they are going to be fine with two weeks or only a week for an exclusive. If they are serious about the exclusive, then it will be at the top of their reading list already anyway. This limits the time your hands are tied, but still gives them what they want.

If, however, you just don’t believe an exclusive is in your best interest, then you should speak up. Say your query letter is red hot and you are getting tons of requests. Maybe you’ve been in a contest and got many requests. Or maybe there’s a contest coming up you want to enter. It’s not something you have to accept, though most writers are usually willing to grant some time period.

Then your answer would look something like this:

Dear Agent A:

Thank you so much for requesting to read TITLE. I’m excited to work with you. I don’t feel comfortable granting an exclusive at this time as I don’t think it is in my best interests (Or as I plan to enter X contest), but I would be happy to send the material. I hope this works for you.

I’ve attached TITLE as a Word document. Thank you again. I look forward to hearing from you.

Name

In my case, I granted a two week exclusive instead of the month requested. The agent did not get back to me within the two weeks and I nudged gently. They responded quickly to my nudge saying they were still reading and I could query again. After about a month, the agent passed for subjective reasons. But we parted as friends, and the agent was most gracious and understanding. She completely understood my desire to hold it to two weeks. When the exclusive period was up, I nudged with something like this:

Dear Agent A:

I wondered if you had time to finish reading TITLE? Our two week exclusive is ending and I look forward to your thoughts.

Thanks,

Name

So there is my advice on exclusives. Agents are wonderful and I love them, you’ll want to do whatever they suggest, but consider your position also. Be polite, but do what is best for you. Make sure you have an end date and two weeks is a good standard.

Feel free to share your own opinion in the comments and tell us if it has ever happened to you. How did you react and how did your exclusive turn out? I’m curious if anyone’s exclusive led to an offer.

Also if you have other questions for future posts, please shout out to me on twitter.

Blog Tour Banner - Kindar's Cure-2

If you’ve ever participated in Author Photo - Michelle HauckQuery Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam or Sun versus Snow, you know who Michelle Hauck is. Through her query contests, she’s helped dozens of writers connect with agents, and her blog (found here) has tons of success stories that inspire writers to keep going even when the query trenches feel impossible to climb out of. Michelle lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, was published by Divertir Publishing. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Book Cover - Kindar's Cure

Book Blurb for Kindar’s Cure: Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block. No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times. Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess. With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.


Hi Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about your novel! Kindar’s a middle child. Where are you in the sibling order? 

M: I’m actually the eldest of two sisters, so I get to be first to go through anything. I guess in Kindar’s world, I’d be the victim struck down early in the book. 🙂

Besides being stuck in the middle, we learn Kindar is suffering from a life-threatening illness, choke lung. To make matters worse, she’s blamed for the death of her sister (talk about a one-two punch). Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea for this story and what kind of research it involved?

A bad cough gave me the idea for Kindar herself. And I’m a complete pantster. The rest basically came out of thin air as I was writing. I never have an ending in mind or do any outlining. I start with a first chapters and a direction and go from there.  As for research, I do remember checking out castles online for the terms to use. I also checked out poisons and things about medieval life, such as their idea of medicine. I’m sure my search engine must think I’m up to something dark.

Is Kindar’s Cure the first of a series? 

I always intended Kindar to be part of a series, but haven’t found time to write the second book yet. It’s why some things are left open-ended (like the rebels). It’s a project I hope to get back to in the future.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Action scenes have always been difficult for me. Dialogue flows easily and so does most description and character thought, but when you get down to detailing every movement to picture out a fight scene, that’s where I really have to work.

Epic fantasy requires an immense amount of world building. Do you create a storyboard or draw pictures to help you visualize the world?

I’m afraid I’m no artist and a whole lot of lazy. But many of the sites I use in the book are real places I’ve visited. The steamy setting of hot springs where Kindar goes to seek her cure is Yellowstone. The castle I describe is Leeds Castle one of the most beautiful spots I’ve got to travel to. A smaller description of wind blowing grass up a hill is the roads of South Dakota.

One of your readers said your book reminded them of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. How would you describe your writing style?

They did! (says the girl who doesn’t look at reviews) That’s awesomesauce because Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson are my heroes! I model my writing on their style of big, giant-sized epic fantasy stories. Lots of characters. Lots of settings. A big overall theme. Just a little romance. Like Game of Thrones without all the sex scenes but still with chopping off of heads is how my agent describes it.  

What other genres do you write, and what are you working on right now?

I only write fantasy, though I skip around in age categories. I have a middle grade and several young adult stories finished. I would consider Kindar and my latest WIP to be in the adult range or upper young adult. And my middle grade is set in the real world so it’s more urban than epic fantasy.

How long does it take you to finish a draft?

Ah, the sticky question. I’m a little ashamed to say I’m a very slow writer. It’s so cool to dash out a draft in a few weeks. It took ten months for Kindar and the last book I finished took eleven. Then only a couple of months of revision with my critique partners. One good thing about taking so long is that my first draft is pretty much the finished product.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like wearing your clothes backwards or using sock puppets to act out scenes)? 

Um, noooo… I don’t think so anyway. I always have to have music playing in the background. My family is utterly sick of my playlist because I play the same songs over and over. Hey, it’s what always gets me back to the right voice. I prefer to write in the morning. I like to envision a chapter in my head before starting it. I sit at the kitchen table and I can’t write in public. That’s pretty much it.

What are you reading right now?

I go through one or two books a week. Right at this moment, I’m reading a book for an agent I intern with. And I can’t say anything more about that.

Do you create a playlist? If so, what songs go with Kindar’s Cure?

I listened to a lot of Gavin DeGraw and Nickelback, some Theory of a Dead Man. It seems that Chad Kroeger’s voice matches my writing style. Though as I said before my family wants to kill me over this.

If you didn’t enjoy writing, what would you do for a living?

I would want to be a repeat champion on Jeopardy. Complete shyness will keep that from ever happening. J Or maybe something where they pay me to read!

And now some rapid fire questions: How do you take your coffee?

I don’t drink coffee. Make of that what you will.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

That’s too hard. I love so many. Gone with the Wind and The Three Musketeers stick out as my all-time favorites.

What author inspires you the most?

Brandon Sanderson

Food that should be banned from grocery stores:

Peas. Can’t stand the smell.

Food you can’t live without:

Chocolate

The word that describes you best:

Weird. Or so my kids always say.

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. Please check out Kindar’s Cure (links below) and be sure to follow Michelle’s blog and find her on Twitter for great contests and more!

Twitter: @Michelle4Laughs

Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details

Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author

Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure

Tumblr: Michelle4Laughs

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Paperback

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Ebook

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon UK

Kindar’s Cure on Barnes and Noble

Kindar’s Cure at The Book Depository

giphyCLICK HERE TO ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

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EXCERPT

“Princess Kindar, Her Majesty will see you,” a chamberlain barked from her mother’s bedchamber.

Kindar strode forward alone. As the door closed after her, she sank into a deep curtsey before moving forward to the center of the room. Empress Eugenie Stefanous sat before a large mirror, clothed in her undergarments. Seventeen when her first daughter was born, the empress was still young, her belly and hips pleasantly rounded. Her auburn hair fell in a thick mass of long curls around a delicately painted face.

After bearing three daughters, Empress Eugenie had retired her husband, not wanting to ruin the fortunate omen with another child. Now she confined herself to her own amores. The empress’ two current favorites lounged on a chaise. Young enough to be her children, they sported more paint than their mistress. Kindar pushed down irritation that these wretches sat while she must stand.

Behind her mother, the First Minister Hayden wore a military uniform which had never seen a day’s fight. He held a sheaf of papers from which to report his latest information. Information his extensive team of spies provided. “… and the disposition of the Cushwair rebels remains unchanged.” Minister Hayden cut off as he saw her, stooping to whisper into her mother’s ear.

Eugenie lifted her eyes to Kindar’s reflection in the mirror. “I hear your humours are clean this morning, Daughter.”

Suddenly, answers clicked in Kindar’s mind. The physician had been suggested by Minister Hayden as punishment for failing to show him favor. Kindar narrowed her eyes. From such men as this, her mother sought the advice that would dictate her children’s futures. But this meant her mother might be well-disposed toward her. Her optimism grew to a painful intensity. After all, Eugenie needed all three daughters to give weight to the omen. Kindar curtseyed again. “Yes, Majesty.”

“Strange.” The empress turned her eyes from contemplating her own face in the mirror to favor her daughter with a glance. “Your humours are seldom clean.”

“It is more auspicious for the wedding, Majesty, if I’m not bled.”

“Perhaps.” Empress Eugenie set down a thick rope of diamonds and picked up a necklace of pearls. “That gown doesn’t suit you. You look like a scrawny washed-out rabbit. Why did I ever choose it? Never mind, I suppose it will do for you. I have made a decision about your future.” The minister bowed, looking suitably impressed.

“Yes, Majesty.” Kindar waited with a fluttering heart. The throne could not belong to an unmarried woman; the law made that clear. In addition to making her a legitimate heir, a betrothal would give her certain freedoms, such as the end of these painful morning visits. Even if she did not care for the peer chosen by her mother, a betrothal would give her status. She would be higher than Ceria, instead of equal, and able to overrule her actions.