Thank you all so much for your comments! I read every one, and it was such a joy to celebrate the wins this year, both big and small. I hope you all have a lovely holiday season and a very happy new year!
The random number generator has spoken, and here are the winners! Please follow the links to ensure it was your comment that was selected, since there were a few duplicate names.
WINNERS: Please send me an email at mihalikwrites at gmaildotcom with the subject line ARC Winner. If you’d rather not figure out my SUPER SEKRIT email riddle, you can also use the contact form. Include your name, address, and who you would like me to sign the book to (or if you prefer no inscription). Please use the same email you used to comment.
The cover for Eclipse the Moon is here, and it’s absolutely lovely!! Am I awful to tease you with this when Hunt the Stars isn’t even out yet? Yes. Am I doing it anyway? Also yes. :)
The cover will be going up on retailers soon, and I wanted to ensure you all got the very first peek at it! Behold:
Eclipse the Moon will be out in July of next year, so it’s not too long of a wait after HTS. I’m not putting the cover copy here just in case anyone wants to avoid all spoilers for HTS (they are very generic/minor), but you can find it over on the book page behind a spoiler tag.
If you’d like to get your preorder on, here are some handy links for you. (And thank you!!)
Now, for a teensy snippet. This is not at all spoilery for book one, so enjoy this little peek at Kee and Varro!
I checked on the other plants, making sure they were healthy and strong. I talked to them as I worked, telling them how nice it was that they were growing food for us, and how pretty they looked with their green leaves and strong roots. It was mostly happy nonsense, but I’d read an ancient study that said plants did better when they were spoken to, and I tended to anthropomorphize them anyway, so talking to them came naturally.
I noted the tomatoes and other veggies that were ready for harvest and put them into the log so Tavi would know what was available for dinner. If she didn’t harvest them tonight, I would pick them tomorrow and put them in the galley for everyone to enjoy.
By the time I was done, several hours had passed. I hadn’t heard a peep from Varro, so I hoped he had fallen asleep. With nothing else to do, I approached the arbor on soft feet.
Varro’s head was tipped back, his breathing deep and even. I hesitated for a moment, then slipped into the arbor and sank into the chair beside his. I stared at the leafy vines overhead and enjoyed a moment of peace as the sweet smell of honeysuckle drifted around me.
“You talked to the plants,” Varro said, his voice low and rough. I bet he sounded just like that in the morning, sleepy and rumpled after a night in bed.
Heat crept into my cheeks at the imagined visual, and I redirected my thoughts to a safer subject. I peeked at him, but his eyes remained closed, so I went back to staring at the ceiling. “I thought you were asleep.”
“It’s harder to sneak up on me than you might imagine. Your approach was quiet but not that quiet.” After a pause, he added, “But the talking was nice.”
“It’s supposed to help the plants grow better, and it gives me something to do.”
“I enjoyed listening to you. It was soothing.”
I laughed quietly. “Most people would disagree.” I rolled my head toward him with a grin. “Have you considered that you may be part plant?”
“Mmm,” he murmured without opening his eyes, “perhaps that is why I’m drawn to sunshine.”
I glanced at his sun-kissed skin before reminding myself that he wasn’t for me. I purposefully kept my tone light. “Well, it’s hard to get sunshine in a spaceship, but you’re welcome to hang out in here with me for the rest of the week and pretend. If you want, I’ll even babble at you like you’re a plant.”
He slanted a glance at me, his eyes dark and fathomless. “I would enjoy that. Thank you.”
Let’s try this again! Turns out, I’d shared yesterday’s snippet before (thanks to LucyQ for the catch!), which is what I get for trying to blog while the A/C people were in and out of the house, asking questions and taking over the office.
But now all of our duct work is now done, and hopefully our office will no longer be a sauna in the summer. Of course, it’ll probably be next summer before we find out if it worked, but if nothing else, we have a new, highly efficient air conditioner with a fancy allergen filter. Maybe cedar season won’t be so miserable this year.
Enjoy the new snippet, and if you’d like to preorder, I’ve left some handy links below. :)
The door to the garden slid open, and Torran made a soft sound of surprise. “This is the garden,” I said. “Keep an eye out for Luna. She likes to hang out in the corner.” I waved to the back corner with the little green arbor.
When Torran didn’t say anything, I turned around. His face was alight with something like longing before he caught me looking and wiped the expression away. “This reminds me of home,” he said simply.
I wavered, torn, then my damn traitorous heart made the decision for me. I knew longing. “Come on, it gets better.”
I led him to the arbor and gently swept aside the hanging vines. Luna was on her perch, curled into a ball with her nose tucked under her tail. Apparently she thought a nap in the greenery was better than a tour with Kee. The burbu opened one sleepy eye and chirped at me. “Go back to sleep,” I said softly. “We’re just going to be here for a minute.”
Torran stood frozen behind me, so I pointed at one of the chairs. “Sit there and relax while I gather some herbs. It helps.”
He folded his long frame into the low chair and for the first time, I saw some of the tension drain out of him. He tipped his head back and closed his eyes. When he wasn’t busy glaring at everything, he really was beautifully built. I let the vine curtain fall closed before my wayward thoughts got me in trouble.
Normally, gathering basil was super quick, but I puttered around the garden for ten minutes before harvesting what I needed. I returned to the arbor and peeked inside. Torran had slouched down in the chair and Luna was curled up on his chest, purring, while he gently stroked her with one hand.
A riot of emotions clamored through my system.
Sprawled in the chair like an indolent king with his distinctive Valovian eyes closed, he looked like a heartbreakingly handsome man who had been conjured from the ether specifically for me. And the illusion didn’t shatter as much as I thought it would when he cracked one eye, his expression as open as I’d ever seen it. “Finished?”
This morning, I sent off my edits for Hunt the Stars. I added about 6k words, bringing the total manuscript to just under 113k, which falls right between Aurora Blazing and Chaos Reigning.
This was a pretty fast edit for me because I usually plan for about a month, and I finished in under two weeks. I’ve now read this story more times than anyone should, and I still love it, so I hope you all will, too.
Bree, half of writing duo Kit Rocha, read an early copy (before I was done editing, even!) and had a few very nice things to say about it over on Twitter, including, “Ok I just finished my early copy of Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik and somehow it’s my favorite thing she’s written yet, it’s AMAZING…” which made my whole weekend, y’all. 💕😭
Here’s a little snippet of the first chapter to celebrate turning in edits. This hasn’t been finally approved or copyedited, so it’s still subject to change, but I won’t tell if you don’t. :)
And, in case you missed it, HtS is now available for preorder. The cover isn’t up yet, but I’ve seen a rough draft and it is IN-CRED-I-BLE! 😍 I can’t wait to share!
I leaned against my ship’s cargo ramp and watched with narrowed eyes as four soldiers in Valovian armor stalked through the landing bay. This was a human station in human space—Valoffs shouldn’t be here. Yes, we were at peace—for now—but both sides had made it clear that they preferred it when everyone stayed in their own sectors.
The soldiers moved from ship to ship. At each, the group leader spoke to the ship’s captain for a few minutes before continuing on. They moved like Valoffs rather than like humans wearing stolen armor, so I raised my mental shields as they approached. It wasn’t easy for a human to learn to shield against Valovian abilities because we had no natural defenses, but I’d learned the hard way during the war. Certain death provided excellent motivation.
The leader was male: tall and muscular, with thick, black hair, dark eyes, and skin a shade or two lighter than my own golden tan. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place him. He was encased in layers of synthetic black armor from neck to feet, and I knew from experience that it would deflect all but the strongest plas pistols and blades. It had exactly two weaknesses, and you had to be within reach to exploit either of them.
The group stopped several paces away, but even at this distance, their leader looked almost human. In general, Valoffs had a wider variety of hair and skin color and were a little taller than humans, with a slightly finer bone structure. However, their eyes were the biggest giveaway. Their irises were often threaded with multiple vibrant colors, and they had better-than-human night vision. They spent a lot of time in the dark—days on Valovia were only ten hours long.
I know many of you have been yearning for a little peek into Loch’s head, so because this is the month of love, I decided to deliver. Happy early Valentine’s Day!
And if it also helps me procrastinate on the projects that I’m supposed to be working on, well, win, win. 😘
If you haven’t read Polaris Rising yet, then this snippet probably won’t make much sense. But you’re in luck! PR is on sale for just $1.99 this month (international pricing will vary), so if you want a copy of your very own (or if you know someone who would enjoy it), now is an excellent time to pick it up.
This snippet is from early on, when they are first escaping from the mercs and Rockhurst, in chapter three and four. Happy reading!
The princess was having a nightmare—again. I intentionally banged my hand against the console, which had been enough to rouse her out of her dreams before, but she just whimpered and continued to shift in the cot.
“Ada, wake up.”
She ignored me. I tried to return the favor, but she made another small, hurt sound, and it was all I could take. I might be a monster, but I wasn’t the kind who let others suffer when I could prevent it.
I unclipped from the captain’s chair and cautiously approached the cot. I didn’t think she was faking, but I’d been burned too many times to lower my guard now.
The blankets were twisted around her body and she clutched a sheathed knife in one hand, her knuckles white around the handle. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one who slept with a blade close, but I wondered what had happened to make the daughter of a High House so cautious.