Curses and Dragons

ConFusion Appearance!

January 13, 2014 · Comments Off on ConFusion Appearance!

I’m heading off to the best local science fiction convention a writer could hope for (ConFusion) on Friday in Dearborn (pretend it’s Detroit if you don’t know Michigan very well), and just wanted to — in case you were local and looking to see me — know my schedule.


10am Worldbuilding 101 for Young Writers

11am What you might want to be reading RIGHT NOW
Saladin Ahmed (M), Amy Sundberg, Merrie Haskell, Patrick Tomlinson, Peter Orullian, Gretchen Ash (Erie Room)

2pm Writing Young Adult/Middle Grade
Sarah Zettel, Mike Underwood, Kelley Armstrong, Courtney Moulton, Merrie Haskell (Southfield)

3pm Autographing

4pm Legendary Romance
Jacqueline Carey, Sarah Zettel, JC Daniels, Sam Sykes, Merrie Haskell (Southfield)


11am SodaKlatch – Saladin Ahmed and Merrie Haskell

1pm Reading with Merrie Haskell and Carrie Harris

So in short: I will be around! And per usual, my reading will have lots of fun give-aways.

Hope to see you there!

Comments Off on ConFusion Appearance!Categories: Appearances

It’s Tuesday, Let’s Have a Fairy Tale Song

November 19, 2013 · Comments Off on It’s Tuesday, Let’s Have a Fairy Tale Song

In some ways, this song speaks to why I rewrite fairy tales.


Comments Off on It’s Tuesday, Let’s Have a Fairy Tale SongCategories: Random but Related

Page Number Game: The End & the Final Winner!

November 1, 2013 · 4 Comments

Thank you all for playing  my random little page number game!

Steve Buchheit said: Since I’ve won, I’m not guessing. I just wanted to say, Mer, this is a great contest.

Thanks, Steve!  It was a lot of fun for me too!

Mary guesses: 


Already guessed, alas!


It had all happened in a place so dark that it was hard to remember, a place so deep it that it was starless.


Already guessed, once again.


“She’s not a pigeon.”


“If you control the fire, you control when the iron is hot.”

Gabi’s guesses:


He pulled the mattress off the broken bedframe and stuffed the feathers back inside.  He sewed the mattress, using a nail from his purse as an awl and strips of old sheets for thread, tying each of his stitches like Agnote would knot a quilt.


She heard a comforting sound in the distance: clang, clang, clang, ring.


A pile of thorns lay in a bowl next to Perrotte’s bed, where they glistened malevolently in the moonlight that spilled into her father’s bedchamber.


“My tutor, Efflam, taught me how to build a memory storehouse.”


“When I was little, if I asked questions about the place, everyone shushed me, or told me not to think about it.  So I stopped asking and I stopped thinking about it.  Mostly.”

Michelle Bitner Smith’s guesses:


Had a previous appearance.


“You need proper religious instruction before you move out into the world of temptations and trials.”


Jannet had yanked the first thing out of the closest chest: Perrotte’s prized astrolabe, swaddled in silk.


Already guessed, again.


It was as though another layer had been scraped from a parchment, and the words and images from the soaked-in ink disappeared.


The suddenness of Perrotte’s stone stillness and her tears made no sense to Sand.

Alana Joli Abbott‘s guesses:


“Of course I have an imagination,” she said, sounding prickly again.


Already guessed.


She eyed the kitchen table’s collection of broken and dirty foods.


“Your bed? Your bed, in my father’s room?”


He was reminded again of what it was like taking care of his little sisters.  This would be a temper tantrum then? And he should just ignore it?

Danielle D’s guesses:


“Well.  Here we are, then, trapped in Castle Boisblanc, where everything is broken.”


“We can talk about it,” Perrotte said.  “For as long as you like. For days. For weeks. But I’ll get my way.”


“The hedge–” he began excitedly, but Perrotte was watching Merlin fly off into the deepening hyacinth-colored dusk.


He hadn’t tasted fresh food of any sort in weeks.


Sand tried to sound comforting.  “Some things just wear out, Perr.”

YKL’s guesses:


“Not so old, when she died, and she had been Queen of France twice over, and mother of two daughters…”


He jogged off to the other room, returning with half-blankets piled high in his arms.


She crept down to the kitchen. The falcon’s eyes shown in her candle’s light across the room.

“Did I wake you?” she asked. “Or can’t you sleep either?”

The falcon did not answer. She found that reassuring. Sand’s magic was frightening; she was pretty sure it frightened even him…  but at least animals hadn’t started to speak.


No points awarded–this page is too short and spoilery to pick on.  It starts with “In” however.


Sand woke to the scent of porridge.


YKL, you are the final winner with p. 123.  Please send your mailing address to merriehaskell AT by 11/5 to claim your prize, please!

It was a magnificent race, you all!  I am so pleased there was a hard win, and I didn’t have to resort to figuring out HOW to apply a random number generator (though I did figure it out around noon, which is long after I knew there was a winner but hadn’t finished this entry).

Congrats all, and thank you so much for playing.

→ 4 CommentsCategories: Giveaways

Page Number Game Says Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2013 · 7 Comments

Welcome to the LAST DAY TO ENTER the page number game! THE RULES ARE DIFFERENT, because it’s the last day.

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit, or at least a non-spoilery one.

You may make FIVE guesses.

The last prize is a (currently) rare ARC of The Castle Behind Thorns.  

If no one hits the winning page number (don’t forget the range is between pages 75 and 200), there will be a Sudden Death Round by random number generator.

One of you won something today.

Gabi said: How about . . . 116, 160, 184?

“Sometimes truths are so complicated that it’s exhausting to get them out in the right order.”

Sand imagined a spinning vortex of earth opening like a great mouth and sucking down the whole of a castle.  He knew only one castle, this castle, and the picture in his mind was disturbing.

He lifted his visor. “I’m aware of the thorns,” he called.

Michelle Bitner Smith said: 76, 77, 78

But a good fire couldn’t be rushed, even with a bellows.

Her mere existence changed his world.

He had gotten a little lost in the process of working the hook.  He came back to the world during the quench.  The bubble and hiss of water meeting hot metal was as satisfying as ever.

Mary said: 154, 260, 272

Before he opened his eyes, he could hear gulls calling to each other as they rode the winds.

p. 260 is a repeat, and such a short page, I can bequeath no other offerings from it (it’s the end of a chapter, and a spoilery one at that)

They stood awkwardly together for a moment.  Sand thought: If she were his sister, he would just hug her.

Mary also said: Oops 4 guesses today. 274 as well.

When she first married my father, I–foolishly–told her I loved her.  I didn’t really, but it seemed like the right thing to say to my new mother.

YKL said: I’m almost taking it as my own little victory when I find more food-related snippets. =)

79, 129, 174, and 199

Ugh.  Sorry, YKL, page 79 is impossible to extract a meaningful snippet from.  I did find you a food snippet on 199 to make up for it!

“I don’t know how to feed the falcon.”

The muddy fields were greening, like everything else in the world that he and Perrotte were no longer part of.

Vines that clung to the keep wall for support started to bud — Perrotte assured Sand that they were roses, and they would have rose petals to scent their wash water, and tart rose hips to snack on come autumn.

Gabi also said:  193!

“The artistry in blacksmithing is knowing where to hit, more than your strength of arm.  So the way that works is, the master smith, or in my case, the smith with more experience, hits the pieces with a lighter hammer, and then you, as the smith with less experience, try to hit the same spot with the sledge.  That’s all you have to do, just follow my lead.” 

She nodded, looking a bit unsure of herself, but did not refuse or hesitate.  “All right.  Anything else I should do, oh, master smith?” She gave him a funny little bow, tipping an imaginary hat to him.

Congrats, Gabi!

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Page Number Game with entries from Tuesday, 10/29

October 30, 2013 · 7 Comments

Welcome to another day of the page number game!

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit, or at least a non-spoilery one.  In honor of the second-to-last day of the game, you should restrict yourself to FOUR entries per day (independent of the blog post it’s on) (up from 3).

Whenever someone stumbles on one of my top SIX favorite, non-spoilery pages, prizes are given.  The last prize is a (currently) rare ARC of The Castle Behind Thorns.  

The last two prizes have not been awarded.  See the original entry for details on prizes.

Alana Joli Abbott said: Hmmm, 56, 201, and 142.

Light came from the crack in the ceiling, the dimmest, faintest of lights through the slenderest of cracks, but it kept her from total blindness here in the dark.

Sand wondered if they might starve slowly on asparagus and larks and half-rotten turnips.

Glowing colors showed through fire scale. But the rainbow of tempering colors could only be seen on clean steel by bright daylight.

Michelle Bitner Smith said: 53, 153, 253

p. 53 is a repeat…  and a hard page to find an isolated sentence on, so no sentence is awarded at this time.  p. 153 makes up for it though!

A woman came to her where she clutched the birch tree, a woman dressed in black even deeper than the darkness, a woman without a face, with just a red, empty scar where face should have been.

Sorry, p. 253 is a repeat also.

Gabi said: 97, 114, 273

He served them both bowls of stew, giving her the spoon while he ate with his hands.

He had his mouth open to argue, when from the kitchen door a gentle thump interrupted him.

Agnote is a midwife. 

Mary said: 124, 176, 271

She awakened in a place where darkness was light.

“I know turnip stew is not your favorite–“

“The traitor, Bleyz of Redon, will be executed for his crime of fomenting rebellion among the barons of this countship.”

YKL said: Going for 60, 70, and 261.

Because I know y’all are tired of vegetables:

He put a good porridge on to cook in a copper pod.  He combined oats with dried bits of plum, pear, apple, raisins, and some carefully picked-over crystals of honey.

“Blacksmithing takes strength of eyes and mind more than strength of arm.  I’m plenty strong enough in arm. You are strong enough.”

For a flicker of a moment, the strangers’ aspects changed; shadowy scars appeared across both their necks, and one of the boy’s hands gleamed silver.

Madhavi Chandra said: 8, 13, 196

Over this larger, irregular yard loomed the four-towered keep, the castle’s last bastion against attack.  Here, finally, Sand saw the true sundering of the castle: Daylight shown through a giant crack running north-south through the keep’s walls.

Something else had happened here.  Something that cut leather, ripped apples in half, and tore apart cast iron kettles.  

“It’s a good way to live one’s life,” she said seriously. “To observe, to test, to assess, before trying to bend something.”


Some of you got pretty close.

Some of you ignored previous hints!

The remaining winning page numbers fall in the page 75-200 page range.

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Page Number Game, Tuesday 10/29!

October 29, 2013 · 10 Comments

Welcome to a new day of the page number game!

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit.  Please restrict yourself to THREE entries per day (not per blog post).

If anyone stumbles on one of my top SIX favorite, non-spoilery pages, prizes will be given.

One of you has won something!

Elizabeth Shack said 3, 325:

 Though he saw the castle every day, Sand rarely thought about the place anymore. But to a small child, the split towers were exciting, perhaps a place for great adventure, with a  lost treasure hidden somewhere inside.

“I didn’t want to be greedy,” Perrotte said. “That will teach me.”

YKL said: 74, 150, or 299?

“God’s guts,” she swore, rubbing her scalp.

Blacksmithing appeared easy, on the surface of it–heat metal and bend it!

This will be an honest peace.

Gabi said: Hmm . . . how about 63?

He hit his head on a doorway and died.

Steve Buchheit said: 53, 211, and 298

And what sort of caution would you have learned if I had stopped you?

Your mother loves you, and your saints love you.

Have you come to broker a peace?

Ash said: 198, 194, 126

That was no way to keep a promise to God.

Does magic care about the spirit of one’s intentions or does it care about results?

He wanted to apologize for being so silent and skittish the day before, but he wasn’t sure he was done being silent and skittish.

YKL said: Extra guesses per Monday update: 15, 260, 270
Torn bedsheets made good bandages, and there were plenty of linens to choose from.
The annoyance faded from Perrotte’s face.  Her eyes went wide, and she came forward as though pulled by an invisible rope.
Another group of knights had come to parley–and this time they had a prisoner.
Gabi said: 214!
She thought she might become quite good at smithing someday.

Steve Buchheit said: 1, 98, 280

Sand woke, curled in the ashes of a great fireplace.

“He made me learn to read.  I studied every day with the village priest.  Papa intended for me to go to a university and study there.”

“Your father owes me a life.”

Mary said: 275, 256, 146

Some things don’t need to be mended.
Removing the skull from the chapel felt like a kind of sacrilege.
There had been a time when Sand had believed that Agnote was calm always.
Mr. Buchheit, please send me your mailing address!
Two prizes left/three days left in the contest! I will now let you know that the remaining winning entries lie between pages 50 and 275.  Spread the word!  The very next entry could contain the ARC winner!

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Page Number Game Monday Update

October 28, 2013 · 2 Comments

Folks, my book with my marked pages is at home.  Woe!  There will be no Page Number Game update until tonight.

However, to make up for that, I will tell you that:

1) it is a new day and you may make 3 more guesses on the weekend post.

2) and a hint as payment for my forgetfulness: there are no winning page numbers higher than 280.

So go back an entry and keep on guessing numbers!


→ 2 CommentsCategories: Giveaways

Page Number Game Entries from 10/24 and 10/25

October 26, 2013 · 8 Comments

Welcome to a new day of the page number game!

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit.  Please restrict yourself to THREE entries per day (not per blog post) for all our sanities.

If anyone stumbles on one of my top SIX favorite, non-spoilery pages, prizes will be given.  Two have already won! Who will be next?  Oh, wait, the answer is below!

One of you has won something!

Ash said: 216?

The coronet and sword of Boisblanc were gone.

YKL said: Turnips, asparagus…I predict more vegetables.

There are definitely some peas yet, YKL!

81, 181, 281

What? You don’t like bloodthirstiness?”

And she would remember that her death had come unjustly, and for a time, she would forget to count the stars.

It took all his willpower to nod and mean it, to not secretly tell himself in the back of his mind that he would lie to her, that he would make the promise and then break the promise.

Mary said: 279, 127, 194

The thorns were their protection as much as their cage.

How could he say, he was afraid that he was a witch?

I know as much about curses and magic as you do.

Steve Buchheit said: 143

Finally, the lancet tip turned palest straw yellow. At last. Sand quenched his first lancet in his slake bucket, and began the next one.

glossaria said: 121, 172, or 304?

He said nothing and she said nothing, as his warm fingers twined with hers.

She handed the bowl back, and at first he thought this was a protest against the turnips.

Somewhat behind her and to the right, on what looked to be an actual throne, sat the Queen.

Small Review said: what fun! Let’s try… 220, 2, 111

“Shhh. Just go to sleep, my lady. Let yourself fall.”

Sand stepped over the broken mantel and crest, shedding ashes on the phoenix’s and swan’s painted feathers as he went.

He worried that once the work started, and she grew tired and dirty, Perrotte might think herself debased, a noble girl learning a peasant’s craft. But when she looked up at him from her first bout with the hammer, trembling with effort and exhilaration, and bearing a streak of ash across her brow, he saw only fierce happiness on her face.

Small Review, you have won the last paperback of The Princess Curse to be awarded in this game.  Email me at merriehaskell AT with your address by Nov 1st to claim your prize. Three prizes left!

This entry will be open until Monday morning, FYI.

→ 8 CommentsCategories: Giveaways

Page Number Game Entries from Wednesday, 10/23

October 24, 2013 · 6 Comments

Welcome to day 3 of the page number game!

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit.  I am amending that you should restrict yourself to THREE entries per day, just ‘cuz it’s going to get ridiculous otherwise.

If anyone stumbles on one of my top SIX favorite, non-spoilery pages, prizes will be given.

One of you has won.  There are now four prizes left.

YKL said: Um, 59.

A girl, dressed in saffron velvet and russet silk, with frizzled golden-brown hair flowing from under a small cap…

Mary said: 277

He shushed her. He could barely hold the whole of this mad idea in his head. All he could see was what needed to be done next, and then he did it, the whole plan only glimmering at the edges of his awareness.

Gabi said: How do you pronounce Perrotte’s name?  And because we can enter 3 guesses . . . 57, 200, 313

Perrotte…  pronounce it Frenchly?  LOL.  It’s NOT like “parrot.”  Pair and rote, pair-rote.  With a gurgly R.  Sand is meant to be pronounced with an “ah” like father instead of an “and,” and also no, you don’t pronounce the D at the end.  But! You all say them how you like to say them, in your mind.  Because I say Sand-like-and except when I’m REALLY thinking about it!  Though I never call Perr “parrot.”

In the chapel, sunlight poured through the colored glass windows depicting the strange life of Saint Melor and his metal limbs.

He’d often considered asparagus a burden.

What did you say that got you imprisoned by Jannet?

Michelle Bitner Smith said: 18

He slept there, the first night, by his fire, under the eyes of the phoenix and the swan.

Mary said: 178

I thought nothing grew here.

Steve Buchheit said: 12

She smelled like… nothing, really.  Stone, maybe.

Alana Joli Abbott said:  How about 42?

He prayed to Saint Eloi to send his stepmother a sign.


Well done, Gabi!  You won a copy of The Princess Curse with page 200 and the burdensome asparagus.  I wish I could quote you the whole scene.  Email me at merriehaskell AT by November 1st with your address to claim your prize.  (Though I think you’ve won something from me before–but still send it to me, please!)

FYI, I left a clue on my author’s page on Facebook.  It’s up to you to find and use it, but it will certainly help you focus your entries in the comments below!

→ 6 CommentsCategories: Books! · Giveaways

Page Number Game Entries from Tuesday, 10/22

October 23, 2013 · 8 Comments

Welcome to day 2 of the page number game!

Give me a page number in the comments and I will post you an excerpt from that page with an Intriguing or Interesting Bit.  I am amending that you should restrict yourself to THREE entries per day, just ‘cuz it’s going to get ridiculous otherwise.

If anyone stumbles on one of my top SIX favorite, non-spoilery pages, prizes will be given.


Mary said p. 93:

She wondered if her old astrolabe and any of her other possessions were still in the castle. She was afraid to find them, though; they must be broken like everything else.

Asakiyume said p. 100:

“Parents never make any sense,” Perrotte said, almost to herself.

Ash said p. 243:

‘A garrison of two hundred men armed with forty-eight hand crossbows, two great crossbows, and about forty thousand arrows and bolts, can hold off an attacking force of several thousand.’

Danielle D said p. 250:

“What is wrong? Who is that girl?” // “A ghost,” Gilles said, swallowing hard.

Danielle D. said p. 28:

Sand’s body felt lighter, like he’d taken off the heavy goatskin coat he wore in the winter.

Danielle D. said p. 90:

Bad sleep was why she had come to be an observer of stars.  Before her father remarried, there had been no questioning of her late nights and lazy mornings, or the reason that she needed doors in a tower ceiling and a servant to come prop them open for her, or star charts, or an astrolabe, or a tutor in the natural sciences.

Madhavi Chandra said p. 325:

“I didn’t want to be greedy,” Perrotte said. “That will teach me.”

Michelle Bitner Smith said p. 17:

Stories didn’t know everything.

Gabi said p. 11:

The body hunched in a haphazard pile of withered skin. Like one of the apples in the kitchen.

Gabi also said p. 300:

(Ooooh, Gabi, this page is sooooo spoilery and so good, and I am sooo sorry that  I have to pick a really boring part.)

The Queen arched an eyebrow at the Princess.

Steve B: said p. 252:

Every word seemed to fall through Sand’s chest and strike his heart, one sickening thud after another.

YKL said p. 101:

He did not look forward to a time when turnips might figure more prominently in their diet.

Mary said p. 198:

He busied himself with his own forge, as though he’d not been staring at the top of her head the last few moments.

Celesta said p. 5:

Sand couldn’t even imagine the force it would take to rip an iron kettle in half without heating it to glowing hot, but it had been done, over and over.

Eddie said p. 107:

She was silent for a moment, still pumping the bellows meditatively. Sand kept an eye on the rate of burn, fretting for the lost charcoal. The castle held a lot of charcoal, but when they ran out, they would be out forever.

And ze winner:

Mary said p. 245:

“If you are trying to antagonize him, you are doing a very good job,” Perrotte whispered. // Sand scuffed his shoe at her. “I’m just telling the truth!” // “You’re very good at telling it in the most maddening way possible.” 

Mary, you won a paperback of The Princess Curse.  Send my your address at merriehaskell AT by November 1.  Five prizes left!  Keep throwing out page numbers–some of you have gotten close!

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