Monday, Monday

The first Monday after a holiday week is always the worst. Especially since I tend to turn into a vampire when I don’t have to get up for work, going to bed well after midnight and sleeping until mid-morning. This morning’s alarm arrived too early, and I didn’t enjoy it. :)

But Mr. M and I had a nice Thanksgiving. The actual day was pretty chill for us, since we didn’t do Friendsgiving until Saturday, so it was a day for Diablo IV. We’re playing the second season, and got our first character to level 100, then started on a second character.

For me, Diablo has always been a game where I click on bad guys and loot pops out, and this season delivers. There’s an event where you can kill vampires to summon a mini-boss, and it’s in the open world, so random other players can show up to help. If you get a group of like six people, the screen just becomes explosions and loot. It’s awesome! 😍

For Friendsgiving, I made pie, as per usual. After the great Pecan Pie Disaster™ of a few years ago, I always err on the side of too done, but I think I’ve finally got it figured out, and I wrote it down this time! 🎉

I should’ve cooked the pecan five minutes less and the pumpkin five minutes more, but they were both still delicious. :)

A pumpkin and pecan pie cooling on the stove.

On turkey day, I broke down and bought a Kindle Scribe. I’ve wanted one for ages, and nearly bought one in July, but didn’t quite do it. The Scribe arrived on Saturday, and I’m on the fence about whether I’m going to keep it.

Writing on it is surprisingly good, but some of my books don’t support two-column mode in landscape, and that is my preferred reading method for such a large device. That’s how I read on my iPad, and all of my books work there, so I’m disappointed the Kindle doesn’t support it.

It seems to be mostly books I’ve gotten from BookFunnel or ARCs that I’ve sent to Kindle via email, so it’s likely fixable, but opening a hundred books in Calibre and re-exporting them in the right format sounds exhausting, so I might just send it back. Sad face. :(

Today I have to get the rest of the Rocks & Rapiers posts scheduled and then clean the kitchen. It’s a disaster in there and something must be done before they bring in the men in those plastic hazmat suits to declare it a biological hazard.

Wish me luck. :)

Rocks & Rapiers: Chapters 3 & 4

Part of the serial story Rocks & Rapiers

Rocks & Rapiers Chapters 3 & 4 on a background of blue dragon scales with a rock with a sword leaning against it.

Chapter Three

The upper two floor were just as neglected as the bottom two. I didn’t know why Baldric hadn’t made me stay in one of the cramped rooms on the fourth floor that were usually reserved for staff, but I was grateful nonetheless.

I found the cleaning supplies and started opening doors. None of them were locked, so the whole top floor needed to be cleaned. Thankfully, the manor was plumbed, so I wouldn’t have to carry heavy buckets of water up three flights of steps.

I started with the ceilings and walls in each room, knocking down dust and spiderwebs from the corners and wiping down the walls. By the time I was done, the grime had settled enough in the first room to start dusting the furniture.

But first I needed to beat the dust from the mattresses.

I could haul each of them out to the tiny, frozen balcony that led to the roof, or I could… not.

I closed the first bedroom’s door, then pressed a hand to the mattress and coaxed the dust out into a neat pile on the floor.

By the time I had cleaned all of the mattresses, the world was a little wobbly. It had been a long time since I’d used my ability so much, and I hadn’t exactly been sleeping well for the past few weeks thanks to the stress about the rent.

My energy reserves were low, but they would recover somewhat once the sun set.

I clutched the broom close as footsteps echoed up the stairwell. Had Baldric somehow sensed what I was doing? I should’ve waited until he was asleep.

Rocks & Rapiers: Chapters 1 & 2

Part of the serial story Rocks & Rapiers

This week is Thanksgiving in the US, and it kicks off the holiday season, so I wanted to give you all a gift as thanks for your support throughout the year. And since stories are what I do, your gift is a short story that grew into a short novella instead. 💕

I didn’t plan to write another Books & Broadswords story, but a throwaway line in the first story spawned this idea, and it wouldn’t leave me alone, so here we are, and I hope you enjoy it. :)

This story is twice as long as B&B, about 18k words, and rather than posting the short chapters more often, I’m planning to post slightly longer chunks once a week. Happy reading!

Rocks & Rapiers Chapters 1 & 2 on a background of blue dragon scales with a rock with a sword leaning against it.

Chapter One

Wading through shin-deep snow all morning had given me plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of plans conceived in the dark, desperate hours before dawn. But I was desperate, so I trudged onward. This would work.

It had to work.

I was wearing two pairs of socks and fur-lined boots, but my toes were starting to go numb by the time the remote manor emerged from the trees. It was hard to pinpoint exactly why, but the dark stone facade felt unwelcoming in a way that made my instincts prickle. Only the brave—or foolish—would approach such a place.

Unfortunately for me, I was both.

I hitched my pack higher on my back and made my way to the entrance. A shiver that had nothing to do with the cold worked its way down my spine, but I hadn’t come this far to turn back now.

My mitten-covered fist barely made a sound on the heavy door, so it didn’t surprise me when no one answered. I knocked again, and again, and then I tried the handle.

The door opened.

“Hello!” I called through the crack. “Is anyone home? I’ve come to barter!”

Resounding silence answered me. I pushed the door open wider and tried again. “I’m just going to wait inside, if that’s okay with you.”

I stomped the snow from my boots and eased through the doorway. It felt wrong to enter someone’s house without an invitation, but for all the place appeared abandoned, it was warm.

The door closed behind me with an ominous thud. I immediately tried the handle again and the door opened. I was not trapped. I let out a slow breath and tried to get my pulse to settle.

“What are you doing in my house?” a deep voice demanded from directly behind me.

Signed Books for Gifts

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner, and you know what makes a lovely gift? Books! You can get mine signed and personalized from BookPeople, my local independent bookstore. Just give them a call, or put in a very clear note requesting personalization with an online order, and they’ll then let me know to come in and personalize the orders.

Don’t wait too long if you want them in time for the holidays, since the whole process takes a bit of time to coordinate.

If you already have my books or are looking for something else, I also have a whole list of books I recommend, and I’m sure BookPeople would be delighted to ship any of them to your door, too. :)

I went down to BookPeople last week for the Travis Baldree event, and let me tell you, being a professional audiobook narrator certainly levels up an author reading. If you have a chance to go to one of his events, go! I kind of want to buy the audiobook now, even though I’m not a huge audio listener, just because his reading was so good. 😍

In other news, I’m THISCLOSE to finishing the second Books & Broadswords story, which is tentatively titled Rocks & Rapiers. It’s clocking in at about 18k words right now, which is twice as long as B&B, because it went and grew a plot. I think I only have the epilogue left to write, so fingers crossed I get it wrapped up this week.

Over the weekend, Mr. M and I went to the Electrify Expo, and we got to drive electric cars on the Circuit of the Americas track. They limited us to 60mph (boo!!), but it was super fun to drive around the same track that Formula 1 uses. I’ve seen it on TV, but driving it was a whole other experience.

Vinfast was there, which is a company I’d never heard of, but their ride-along person was a track fan, and he acted like a rally passenger, giving us all the info about what racing line to take and when to turn, etc, so that demo was easily the most fun.

The Ford person just fussed at me when the car started beeping because I was approaching the speed limit. Don’t give me a fast car and a long straightaway if you don’t expect me to use it, Ford!

The Volvo people just had their cars hard-capped at the limit, so no fussing required, lol.

Ford also had some pro drivers on hand to do a ride along in a MachE around a short, twisty track, and that was super fun. Going from zero to fast right at the barriers before slinging around the corner with squealing tires really got the adrenaline going. I asked the driver if he liked his job, and he laughed and said it was the best.

Cold and Cozy

Yesterday, the temperature dropped forty degrees, leaving us at forty degrees. It’s gray and windy and the perfect day to cozy up with a hot cup of tea—my first of the season! I’m still trying to use up all of the tea I currently have, but my willpower is weakening as the supply dwindles. If Harney & Sons does a Black Friday sale, I’ll be in trouble.

Today’s pot is a chai blend heavy on the cardamom and cinnamon. Its warm spiciness is a perfect foil for the weather.

Of course, by the weekend it’s going to be back in the eighties, so this is a very brief glimpse of winter. :)

Mr. M and I started playing Diablo IV again. The second season is here, and it brought a lot of small quality of life changes that make the game fun again instead of tedious. Of course, we’re still leveling and just made it to world tier three, so we’ll see if it holds through the end game grind.

We also have Baldur’s Gate 3 to finish and Starfield to start, so we’re not exactly hurting for things to do. I’ve been so braindead lately that even playing games was too much. I started watching King the Land, a kdrama where a rich, entitled (incredibly gorgeous) boss grows a heart for one of his (also gorgeous) employees. So problematic IRL, but so delicious in fiction.

I think I’m on like episode thirteen or so, but then things got tense, and I could see the bleak moment coming, so I’ve avoided watching the last few episodes for like two weeks. That’s where my brain is right now. 🙈

I really need to get some writing done this week, because it’s very nearly November. I briefly considered trying to do NaNoWriMo before coming to my senses and backing away slowly. But if you’re participating, let me know and I’ll cheer you on!