Jessie

Jessie Mihalik has a degree in Computer Science and a love of all things geeky. A software engineer by trade, Jessie now writes full time from her home in Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing co-op video games with her husband, trying out new board games, or reading books pulled from her overflowing bookshelves.

Books, Edits, and New Stories

Today brings an absolute bounty of new books from some of my favorite authors!

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews

First up, happy pub day to Ilona Andrews for Ruby Fever! I’ve been in a horrible reading slump for months, but this book smashed through it. It’s so good! Catalina and Alessandro are perfect for each other and this book is an excellent end to their trilogy. It’s intense, y’all, so block off time to read it straight through. You’ll thank me later! :)

I’m friends with Ilona and Gordon, so I’m biased, but it’s an objectively fantastic book (and series!), and it got a starred review from Kirkus, so I’m not the only one who thinks so!

Two more books out today that I’m excited to read: To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins (two words: Grifter. Heroine.) and Heartbreaker by Sarah MacLean.

I told you today was a book extravaganza! :)

I finished edits on Honor and Shadows, the HTS prequel novelette. The story didn’t change too much, but the word count grew from 10k to nearly 14k because I added a couple of new scenes. It’s off for copyedits, and I haven’t received edits on Capture the Sun yet (but I have seen an early draft of the cover and it’s 😍!), so that means I get to work on something new.

I sent my fantasy romance beginning to my agent, and she enjoyed it and told me to keep going, so I started working on that. It’s (very loosely) inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and I’m having an absolute blast so far.

I wrote 1500 words yesterday, which is a lot for me, and it was joy from start to finish. Earlier this year, I was skating on the edge of burnout, so it’s nice to work on something with no expectations and no deadline. I don’t know if this will end up with a traditional publisher or not, we’ll just see how things go, but I’m hoping to maybe have it written by the end of the year.

Maybe. I’m not going to push myself quite as hard this time around, and I still have edits/copyedits/etc for CTS, plus the holidays, so it might push into early next year.

I’m trying to be okay with that. We’ll see how that goes, too. 😂

In less good news, I heard from my publisher that they will not be printing physical Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of Capture the Sun. (Note: This is for the early reviewer copies only, and does NOT affect the final copies. The book will still be available in print.) There will be e-ARCs, and they are going to try to get me a few bound copies for my standard ARC giveaway, but if you are a reviewer who is used to getting a physical ARC, that won’t be happening this time. Printing and paper costs are through the roof, so they had to make cuts, and unfortunately, CTS was cut.

But since I don’t want to end on a sad note, here’s a picture of my first attempt at Japanese Milk Bread (recipe from King Arthur). It’s a little lopsided because I didn’t exactly divide the dough evenly, but it tastes delicious!

An uneven loaf of Japanese milk bread on a wire rack.

Making it was fussier than my standard sourdough, so it won’t be an all-the-time bread, but it is beautifully soft.

And since I bought real milk for the bread (we usually drink non-dairy milks), I also made the soft cinnamon roll recipe, and that one is a definite win! I’m convinced that coffee and a cinnamon roll is the breakfast of champions. :)

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Kitchen Organization

Despite my best efforts, I did not win a billion dollars in the lottery, so my plans to build a supervillain-esque lair on a yacht and fill it with books will have to wait for another day. I think we might’ve had one number right on the two tickets I bought, so the world remains safe from my floating library—for now. 😈

But since we’re not moving to a new lair, I decided to do some kitchen organization. I started off with new pantry containers, but then the task sort of spiraled out of control, as they so often do.

After the pantry was organized, I decided to tackle the kitchen desk. We never use it because we turned a bedroom into an office, complete with two desks, so the one in the kitchen was just a big empty space in a place where we desperately needed more storage.

I briefly considered trying to get a new cabinet base put in, but that was a whole lot more work (and expense) than I wanted to deal with. So after some dubiously accurate measurements and a bit of research, I settled on buying some IVAR shelves from IKEA because they were adjustable and wouldn’t require drilling any holes in our existing cabinets.

Then, in line with my whole dubious measuring ability, Mr. M and I went to Home Depot and eyeballed a stain color from looking at a photo of our current cabinets.

Master renovators, we are not.

But we are quite lucky (lotto excepted, lol). After cutting down the legs and staining everything, the shelf perfectly fit under the desk. And the stain color? Pretty dang close! Here’s a photo from when I was testing the shelf height:

A dark cherry stained shelf under a built-in desk in the kitchen.

Now I have to decide if I’m going to stain the wooden boxes. They would certainly look nicer, but it’s going to be a real pain to get it even with all those gaps, so they may stay rustically unfinished for now—it’s a feature, not a bug!

Now that both the pantry and desk are organized, I’m starting to feel like the kitchen is finished.

It just took nearly three years. 😂

This week, I’m editing Honor and Shadows, the HTS prequel novelette. There aren’t any big changes, I’m just fleshing out the story a little more, so if you got it as a HTS preorder bonus, you don’t need to buy it unless you just want to.

If you didn’t get it as a preorder bonus, and you want a little peek at Tavi and co before they meet up with Torran, it’ll be available this fall for 99¢ and preorders are up now.

But either way, you should go peep the new cover, because I think it turned out super nice, but I may be a tiny bit biased. :)

The Many Faces of Luna According to DALL·E

A little while ago, Mr. M got early access to DALL·E, the AI tool that generates images based on a text prompt. It’s absolutely incredible, and you’ve probably seen some of the images floating around on social media.

Because he’s married to an author, Mr. M decided to put DALL·E’s might toward creating some new book covers for me. It was close to the release of Eclipse the Moon, so he included Luna in the covers. Here are the results! You can click on the images to get a slightly bigger version.

First, he went with a straightforward request: “sci-fi romance book cover with a woman holding a small white fox-like creature.”

A grid of images generated by DALL·E with random letters grouped into "words" and various women holding a fox-like creature.

You can see that DALL·E really struggles to produce proper words, getting close in a few cases—I’ve always wanted to read ROMANAC RONCK FENCE!—but not really succeeding. And it’s hilarious that it generated a few classic clinch covers, just with one of the humans replaced with a fox. 😂🙈

Okay, but what about retro covers? Behold “1960’s sci-fi book cover of a woman holding a small, white, fox-like creature.”

A grid of DALL·E images in the style of 1960's sci-fi, all kind of teal with pale women holding fox-like creatures.

The vibe feels like 60s SF, but the words are still gibberish.

To get rid of the words, Mr. M moved on to generating art rather than covers. It’s fascinating how different “60’s sci-fi art of a woman holding a small, white, fox-like creature” is from the cover option above.

A grid of DALL·E images with women in white dresses holding a fox-like creature.

The top-right image here is my favorite of the entire experiment. The lady looks absolutely nothing like any of my characters, but she’s so poised, aloof, and elegant—and then she’s holding up Luna with a lobster-claw hand. It cracks me up every time.

Maybe the 70s were a better time for SF art? Let’s find out: “70’s sci-fi art of a woman holding a small, white, fox-like creature.”

A grid of DALL·E images also featuring women in white dresses holding fox-like creatures, but a little softer and trippier.

I could definitely see some of these on a book from the 1970s, so good job DALL·E!

And finally, just for fun, what if the Starlight’s Shadow crew wandered into an anime universe? Behold “a woman holding a small white fox-like creature standing next to a space ship anime.”

A grid of DALL·E images in an anime style with mostly silver-haired women holding up a fox-like creature.

Adorable! 😍 Now I really need an anime studio to pick up the Starlight series just so I can see an animated Luna.

This is such interesting technology, and apparently they just opened it up to a lot more people and are selling commercial rights to the results, which means someone really could make a book cover from the generated images.

Which style is your favorite?

So Proud!!

A man in a red kayak on a wide river with a large metal bridge and the MO capitol building in the background.
This great pic thanks to my sister-in-law!

My brother pedaled and paddled his way across the entire state of Missouri this week, and I’m so proud of him! He completed the MR340, a race on the Missouri River that starts in Kansas City and ends in St. Charles, and he not only finished, but he also finished fourth in his division!

Did you know some kayaks have pedal drives? I didn’t until this week, lol.

If you’ve read Eclipse the Moon, you might’ve noticed that I dedicated the book to my “favorite brother,” which is something of a running joke between us since he’s my only sibling. I’m also his favorite sister (most of the time 😂), and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Fantastic job, baby bro! 🎉

Eclipse the Moon Spoiler Discussion

If you’ve already read Eclipse the Moon and want to discuss it, this post is for you! Spoilers ARE allowed, so if you haven’t read it yet, you may want to hold off on scrolling down.

You’re welcome to ask me questions, and I’ll do my best to answer. It feels like I wrote this book an age ago (or maybe I just aged a lot this year 😂), but I’m still pretty sure I remember what I wrote… maybe. ;)

For real, though, I love Kee and Varro, and I hope you loved them, too!

Last chance to turn back before spoiler town.

Seriously.

Spoilers ahead.

Okay, everyone who is left, have at it! 🎉 And thank you all so much for your support! 💕