Please welcome Jessie Mihalik to the blog.
Thank you so much to Ilona and Gordon for allowing me to share a snippet of my debut novel, POLARIS RISING, with you all! But first, I want to tell you the story of how I met Ilona and Gordon. They later became my nearby neighbors and dear friends, but I will never forget our first meeting (possibly because it was permanently etched into my brain by sheer adrenaline).
Eight years ago, I signed up for a writing workshop where Ilona and Gordon were one of the professional mentors. I am a huge fan of their books, so I was elated when I found out I would be in their group. Then I remembered that my favorite authors were going to read something I wrote.
And critique it.
There is a special kind of terror in giving something you created to another person for critique, especially if you admire and respect that person. When Ilona announced she was bringing a stuffed animal for us to cuddle while they gave feedback, I was sure it was just for me.
On the day of the workshop, our group met and introduced ourselves, Ilona and Gordon were perfectly lovely, then Ilona handed me the stuffed animal. I was first, and I was sick with nerves. I barely remember any of the rest of the critiques, but I remember mine with crystal clarity.
Despite Ilona’s frequent claims that she’s mean, she was not—not even a little. They were honest and fair and very, very kind. In fact, their encouragement gave me the boost of confidence I needed to think, hey, maybe I can do this.
And I did!
Last year, I sold a three-book series to Harper Voyager. The first book in that series, POLARIS RISING, comes out February 5, 2019. It’s a sexy space opera featuring Ada von Hasenberg, a space princess on the run, and Marcus Loch, the outlaw soldier to whom she offers a fortune to help her escape.
I am pleased to share the following snippet with you. In it, Ada and Loch have agreed to work together to escape, but they have been separated. Ada fears Loch has left without her, trapping her on the ship with a rival House’s soldiers.
Footsteps pounded behind me, closer than I would’ve liked. I darted left at the next hall and hoped Loch hadn’t left yet. With a long straightaway in front of me, I sprinted.
I might not be infinitely capable, but I could run. It was a skill that came in handy more than once over the last two years. I’d chased down thieves and outrun mobs, and, in one memorable case, did both at the same time. I’d also had a few close calls with House von Hasenberg security where literal running was the only way to escape.
And nothing motivated quite like imminent capture or death.
The video drone paced me, but the footsteps fell farther and farther behind. Running blindly when there could be more soldiers lurking ahead wasn’t ideal, but I was out of options. I had to get to that ship.
I turned left and ran down the short hall that would take me back to the main hallway. A right and another thirty meters or so and I’d be there. Please let the ship be there.
I glanced left as I turned right into the main hallway to see if the soldiers’ backup had arrived yet. My body found what my peripheral vision had not—I slammed into a wall of muscle that barely gave under the impact. An arm clamped around my waist to prevent me from rebounding to the floor, and a blast pistol went off behind my head.
The video drone exploded in a shower of sparks.
Loch had already pulled me back into a run by the time my brain caught up with the fact that he hadn’t left. And he was wearing clothes. He looked so much like a merc that it took me a second glance to process that it was really him.
When he pulled me into the port leading to the ship, I resisted. “We need to open the doors. The manual overrides are out here,” I said, trying to pull back. It would be easier to move the moon.
“No time. We’ll blast them,” he said. The doors that enclosed the bay were wired with explosives that could be activated from the escape ship. But that was truly the last resort because it failed as often as it worked.
When Loch didn’t stop to close the port door, I dug in my feet. “The door!”
“No time,” he snarled.
I shook myself loose. “I’m making time. I won’t be responsible for depressurizing half the ship. You go on.”
He left me.
I cursed him silently while I pulled the heavy door closed. If we blasted the outer bay doors with this door still open, every unanchored person in the cargo bay would be ejected into space. And with the ship’s power partially down, I wasn’t sure the safety doors would close to protect the rest of the ship.
While I had no love for the Rockhurst soldiers, they were just obeying orders. The mercs could go to hell, but it would be nice if Captain Pearson’s family could recover his ship in one piece.
I turned and ran for the escape ship. Loch was already closing the door, the bastard. I slid through the narrow opening and kept going. Once I made it to the bridge I realized the ship was already powered up and ready to fly.
Loch shouldered past me and took the captain’s chair. Of course he did. His hands flew over the console with obvious skill, though, so I held my comments. Mostly.
“Stop grumbling and strap in,” he said without looking up.
I dropped into the navigator’s chair and clipped in. A quick look showed that we already had a destination plotted. Before I could check the stats, the outer doors blew and Loch cursed. I looked up from my console and saw that only one of the doors had blown. While the depressurization had slightly opened the other, it was going to be a tight squeeze.
Warnings started blaring as Loch’s hands raced. He unclipped from his seat and moved to the rarely used manual controls.
“What are you doing?” I asked, alarmed.
“Computer won’t take us out,” he said. “Going to have to do it manually.”
I swallowed. I knew how to fly a ship manually—all pilots did in case of emergency. But most pilots practiced just enough to pass the test and to be able to land a damaged ship in a large open field or to dock to a station with docking assist. We did not learn how to finesse an escape ship out of a partially open bay door without tearing a hole in the hull.
“Can you?” I squeaked. I cleared my throat. “Do it manually, I mean. Without killing us.”
His eyes glinted as he glanced at me and his lips curved into a smoldering grin. “Don’t worry. I’m good with my hands.”
Ilona – I am mean. Don’t listen to her. Gordon and I read POLARIS RISING and it’s a good book. But I do warn you, I am very biased here, because we’ve been friends for years, so make sure to read the snippets and samples. There are goodies on her website, too.
A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.
In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.
Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.
When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.
But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .
Preorder links: Amazon | BN | Apple Books | Kobo | Indiebound | GooglePlay
Jessie’s Website: https://www.jessiemihalik.com/
I will definitely check this out!
Sarah K says
Pretty sure I already have this on pre-order! So excited to read it.
Judy B says
(clicks pre-order) This looks just like my kinda catnip. And I live on Rockhurst Road. 🙂
With credentials like that, how can you not order it.
While everyone waits for “Polaris Rising,” they could be reading Jessie’s “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Yes! I discovered the Queens Gambit on this blog and read it as Jessie posted it inline then preordered it and read it in about 2 hours and I’ve had Polaris Rising on preorder for awhile now! Can’t wait!
Me too, I’m eagerly awaiting a sequel to Queen’s Gambit as well!
Yes, me four!!!? I recall when Ilona introduced Jessie’s work/ project on this blog a couple of years ago. Still have the bookmark. Really like her style. So excited to see this star as she begins to ascend. Huge congrats!!
Thank you, Ilona and Gordon, for your work, and for the introduction to Jessie’s. I enjoyed this snippet of Polaris Rising, and then the Queen’s Gambit (which I found after the snippet). Now eagerly awaiting the release of both PR and the sequel to QG.
Yes I loved that one!!! Hope those books will continue as well
Margaret R says
He he he, me likie!
Colleen Curran says
Sounds like a good book. I’ll watch for it and put it on pre-order.
Thank you Ilona and Gordon for sharing this wonderful author with us. I checked Jessie out when you first promoted her ages ago and loved Queens Gambit. Looking forward to Polaris Rising.
PS I really love the family of authors you have. It’s so wonderful that you promote these other talented authors!
Two snorts of laughter during snippet. A protagonist who values running. You got me.
The running part reminds me of Doctor Who! LOL!
Ooh, sounds like a great adventure! Pre-ordered! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Amanda P says
Sound pretty good. I’ll pop off and pre-order now
Congratulations! So happy to see people bring their vision into reality.
And I CANNOT wait, for the space opera. I ‘ve been craving them!
Cheers to all!
Have you read Becky Chambers? She has three books out, so far, from her Wayfarers series. Read and loved the first two books, but haven’t got around to reading the third… so many books, so little time! Also enjoy the Celta series by Robin D. Owens and some series by Anne McCaffrey.
Got it on pre-order. Looks like fun.
I like the premise. I like the snippet. No reason not to check it out.
Meagan Watts says
I received a copy of this at the RWA national conference, read it right away and loved it. Highly recommended!
Meagan Watts says
Just read the snippet…might have to reread the book already, and it’s only been a few months…
Definitely checking this out, thank you. I really liked the snippet.
I had already pre-ordered but thanks for the extra snippet! Looking forward to it.
This is actually funny because I wanted to suggest Queens Gambit to Ilona to read because I know she enjoys a good sci-fi book! I loved queens gambit and am looking forward to this book!
Ooh this sounds good! I’ve discovered so many good reads through you guys ? thank you
Patricia Schlorke says
Thank you for the recommendation. 😀 This book sounds interesting. I will be a new reader and pre-order this book. I use to read space operas, but after a while I lost interest.
When I read the snippet, I thought “Why does Marcus Loch remind me of Curran, especially with that last sentence ‘I’m good with my hands'”?
Ohhh I love Jessie Mihalik! I have been following her blog ever since Ilona posted about her novella she was working on I think a year ago called “The Queen’s Gambit”. Her novella is finished now and you can get the ebook for it. I would for sure recommend it!
Already per-ordered. Just wish it was coming out sooner!
I look forward to reading this! I’ve always enjoyed reading the books recommended on this blog (and I’ve read many of them).
Claire M says
Ooh I’m intrigued! Will be getting this one. Thanks for sharing!
Sounds good !! Great job Jessie!!
Liv W says
Jessie, I can’t believe you didn’t mention that “The Queen’s Gambit” is available (it’s terrific!), and that its sequel that will also be coming out probably in 2019. And then there’s Polaris 2… 😀
It has an audio CD! While I have an Audible membership, I really want to own things, and not have Amazon decide to take it back.
Plus, I have a couple of MP3 players that are MUCH lighter and smaller thanmhy phone, but you can’t do Audible on any of them that I have tried.
Do you live in the US? If so, most libraries have digital books including audiobooks. What each has does vary, though some are open to suggestions. I am able to put on my Sony MP3 players with the library. Not sure if compatible with audible, but my Conan player might work. Can you also burn the audible books onto CD to play on other devices?
Amazon suggested this to me a while ago and I read the sample on their site. It is definitely worth a read. I plan to buy the book.
Congratulations to you! Will definitely be checking it out!
Queens Gambit was good, and Polaris is on pre-order. I’ve even bookmarked her blog, although I don’t stalk it like this one.
Ilona and Gordon – thank you for the lead! Do you have other mentees with promise?
Sandy Williams says
Sexy space opera!!!!!! That’s speaking my language. Excerpt looks like it just might have the perfect mix of adventure and romance. I’m in!
Pre-ordered in the UK 🙂 I love a good space opera but hadn’t been able to find a half decent one in ages. With these guys saying the book’s good, you know it’s going to be great. Absolutely something to look forward to when the Christmas lights disappear and the cold really sets in.
Hum…it looks potentially quite good. But…I’ll only read it if it comes to my library. I don’t like to buy ebooks (because you don’t own them!) and $17 is more than I’m willing to spend for a paperback, especially from an author I’ve never read before.
If I rent it and like it I’ll buy it, though. So hopefully my local library gets a copy.
This Star Wars fanatic is always up for a feisty, rebelious princess space opera 🙂
Just bought Queen’s Gambit, but sadly the publisher wants $14.99 for the kindle of Polaris Rising (in Australia), which I think is a little steep.
Added it as Wishlist so hopefully I’ll come into some money 🙂
Really enjoyed Queen’s Gambit, and just pre-ordered Polaris Rising. You always give great recommendations, or at least, I have nevybeen disappointed.
Hahaha I love it! Thank you for this fun snippet, Jessie! My favorite genre next to Ilona Andrews books … Polaris Rising sounds great so far.
Colleen C. says
I have enjoyed every book Ilona has recommended so I know this one will be good! Space opera, my crack.
Congratulations, and thank you for the snippet! I’ll definitely have to read more. 🙂
Also – love the stuffed animal during critique!! 🙂
Looking forward to it! Congratulations, Jesse!
d LM a says
Hail Author, well met
Welcome to the blog …
I read and immediately preordered. Then tonight I realized I forgot to comment. So here goes. Oh yeah can’t wait for the book. Thanks for the recommendation.
This looks awesome, I’m totally into it. I love the backstory too. But…am I the only one who wants to know what animal the stuffie was? A lion? A black panther? A bouda? A grizzly? A ferret? A Chinese ferret-badger? A wolf?
I also want to know!
Agreed. I read through all these comments to see if anyone else asked.
This sounds like something right up my alley. Thanks for the suggestion. Ya’ll probably added to my list of authors to follow. ?
I like how you push other authors in front of the BDH, both so you get a breather from our hounding, and doing a good deed by promoting other good authors.
Jessie Mihalik says
My deepest thanks once again to Ilona and Gordon for having me! Also, thanks so much to everyone who gave me a moment of time, wrote an encouraging comment, or preordered PR. Ilona and Gordon really do have the best fans! ?
Thank you for sharing the story and the story behind the story. And the stuffie was a…?
Jessie Mihalik says
I don’t remember! ? All I remember is it was snuggly and I was super nervous. I think it might have been a bear? Maybe Ilona remembers.
Yeaaah another snippet ! Can’t wait to read the entire book ! Thank you for the snippet !
Positive and loving vibes ~~~
K D says
You had me at Space Opera 😉
Cheryl z says
I read her first book and liked it very much. Similar storyline so may have been further developed for Polaris. I have already preordered
I look forward to reading this. Good luck!
I remember reading the snippet of Polaris Rising on this site, being delighted and giddy so I wanted to buy it NOW, but and disappointed I was to see I would have to wait. I never forgot about it and often check the release date.