Jessie

How to Help

The ice and snow have melted and temperatures have returned to normal. Yesterday was 72! Mr. M and I made it through the week with only minor inconveniences—a few downed tree limbs, a loss of power for about thirteen hours, and a need to boil our water.

Others, however, were not so fortunate, and there is a great need in Texas for help and support. Here in Austin, some people were without power for four days or more while the temperatures plummeted into the single digits. The freezing temperatures combined with lack of power broke water pipes in houses, apartments, and water mains. Over 300 million gallons of water were lost to spills causing the pressure in the lines to decrease, which is why we’re all either boiling or have no water at all.

I know times are tough all around, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare here are three places in Austin that could use your help:

If you want to spread your donation across more of Texas, AOC is raising money for twelve charities via ActBlue.

Now I have to try to salvage the rest of February for writing. I don’t know where this month has gone, but I haven’t gotten anything done and it’s making me very anxious. I have another book due in the summer, and I was hoping to get a sekrit side project done, too, but that’s looking less likely. :(

I hope that wherever you are, you’re warm and safe!

Icepocalypse Meets Snowpocalypse

Central Texas has been hammered with weather this week. First we had freezing rain, which weighed down trees and snapped branches.

For those of you who live farther north, our live oak trees don’t drop their leaves in the fall like normal oak trees. Instead, they keep them until spring, when the new leaves grow in, which means when it ices, there is a lot more surface area for ice to collect.

A iced over branch of a live oak with a road in the background.

So far our live oak is holding okay, but we’ve lost two big branches from a cedar tree in the back yard and one big branch from the decorative holly-type tree by our front door. We walked around the neighborhood on Friday and it’s the same everywhere.

So we had ice, then freezing temperatures for several days, then last night, we got 4-6″ of snow. This is the second time we’ve received a decent snowfall this year, when it usually barely snows (just enough to see it falling) once every two or three years. On top of all of that, the temperature fell to single digits, which is the coldest it’s been since the 1980s.

Our snow-covered front yard, where the snow is deep enough that the grass is hidden.

The city has no infrastructure to deal with snow, so the plan is to stay home until it melts. Luckily, we went grocery shopping just before everything hit, so we’re good to sit tight.

But the house is a little more concerning because our houses are not designed to withstand single-digit temperatures. We’re dripping our faucets and hoping for the best, but there are going to be lots of burst pipes in town once it warms up.

It’s been so cold that we’re now having rolling brownouts because the power grid can’t keep up. So far, we still have power, but it’s only a matter of time until we’re hit. In fact, it’s been cold enough that our frost flowers are blooming. When frost weed freezes, the water in the plant is forced out in delicate ribbons of ice, almost like the layers of a croissant or cotton candy.

A frozen frost weed that has produced a frost flower of ice crystals.

If you want a couple more pictures of the frost flower ice, I shared them on instagram.

Overall, we’re fine, just hunkered down and waiting for warmer weather. I hope that wherever you are, you’re also staying safe and warm!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a Loch POV snippet!

Loch POV Snippet! Happy Valentine's Day! with a picture of the POLARIS RISING cover.

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.

Get your copy!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play

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.

Virtual Event with Everina Maxwell and Martha Wells

Everina Maxwell, in conversation with Martha Well & Jessie Mihalik. Hosted by Fountain Books. Sunday, Feb 7, 2021 at 2PM ET.

This Sunday, February 7, at 2:00 PM EST, I’ll be joining Martha Wells and Everina Maxwell for a virtual event to celebrate the release of Winter’s Orbit, hosted by Fountain Bookstore!

I’m a huge fan of Martha Wells’s Murderbot series (though I’m dreadfully behind on reading the last couple), and I’ve heard lots of good buzz about Everina Maxwell’s debut, Winter’s Orbit, so it should be a fun event!

You need to sign up for tickets to attend, but the general admission is free. If you can help support Fountain Bookstore by making a purchase, that would be awesome, too! I hope to see you there. :)

10,000 Snacks and Swoon Awards Voting

10,000 Snacks, a cookbook, by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown

My mother-in-law gave me what is possibly the greatest book ever written: 10,000 Snacks by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown. This is a 1937 masterpiece that reads like it could’ve been written today (but hopefully minus the problematic stereotypes/naming conventions that were popular in 1937).

This book is less about the snacks—most of which sound terrible, to be he honest—and more about the writing. The section on Equipping the Home Snack Bar is especially fun:

One of the greatest appeals of snacking is that it requires neither equipment nor etiquette. All that’s needed is appetite and a lusty interest in proving that fingers really were made before forks.

Yet your beginner, after being thwarted by an obdurate sardine can and finding it still soldered against him, though he’s whacked it on the stove and jumped up on and down on it, finally weakens, give in to civilizing science and buys a ten-cent combinations can opener, bottle cap remover and corkscrew.

[…]

The habit of acquisition creeps up subtly on him. […] After that he’s sunk and goes in giddily for hardwood cheese boards and wire baskets in which to swing his salad lettuces bone dry in the French fashion.

From 10,000 Snacks by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown

I bet you didn’t know a salad spinner dried your greens “in the French fashion.” 😂

There’s also a whole section on popular snacks from countries around the world, including Hawaii which wasn’t yet part of the US, but my absolute favorite entry is from Vatican City:

Wine and holy wafers.

That’s it; that’s the entire entry. :dies laughing:

And, of course, the book doesn’t forget your pets. After all, it takes a lot to get to 10,000 snacks.

Though dogs should be seen and not heard, they will occasionally yap for a little between-meal surprise. A bit of toast or pretzel from your tray, and if it’s a dachshund, and occasional sip from your mug of beer or a pull at your pipe will be appreciated.

Why do only dachshunds get beer and tobacco? No one knows! It was stated as a universal truth and then they moved on to some new pet, like snakes, ant eaters, and lady water buffalos. I sense maybe this section was a little tongue-in-cheek. 😉

There’s also a section with favorite snacks of famous people. I didn’t recognize a lot of the names, but Eleanor Roosevelt prefers hot dogs, Betty Grable prefers Spanish hash, and Ruth Zuckerman (listed as “the gal who typed this book”) prefers southern fried chicken with sautéed sweet potato slices. I’m with you, Ms. Zuckerman.

While the snacks don’t sound great, they are a fascinating look into life in 1937—at least life in NYC, because I doubt the rest of the country was eating fresh oysters with any regularity. I’ve very much enjoyed thumbing through the pages and finding some new turn of phrase or type of snack pretty much every time I pick it up.

Finally, before you go, the final round of the Swoon Awards is open for voting for a few more days. Thanks to you all, both Chaos Reigning *and* The Queen’s Triumph made it into the semi-finals! Thank you so much! 💕 If you feel like voting again, you can vote for up to three books this round, which makes a very difficult SFR category (so many good books!) a little bit easier. :)