Author name: 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.

Winter is Here (Again)

It’s cold and dreary today in central Texas. Freezing rain is making overpasses dangerous, so if you’re in the area, be careful out there. Yesterday was 70°F and mostly sunny, so I can’t complain too much, but seeing how this is my blog… yes I can. 😂

The cold makes me want to huddle inside and drink hot tea all day, so that’s pretty much the plan. The fantasy romance is over 30k words now, and I’m still having fun with it, so I’ll be trying to make that word count go up this week. Not having a deadline is super nice, but at the end of the day, I still need to get words on the page.

We spent the weekend playing Satisfactory, and we’re almost through all the levels again. If you’re not familiar, it’s a game about building factories on an alien planet to produce widgets for your company. You start with a couple machines gathering a few resources, then you expand as you get better technology.

Last time we played, we absolutely wrecked said alien planet with miles and miles and miles of conveyor belts and pipes running between the resources and the factories. This time, Mr. M decided to use trucks to move supplies, and it worked surprisingly well! They’re finicky to set up, but once they’re going, they’re far better than they were when we played a couple of years ago. And now I don’t have to feel so bad about destroying nature, lol.

You can also tell which factories he built—beautiful, precise, enormous—versus which I built—sort of slapdash, but gets the job done, and takes waaaaaay less time. :)

We also got to drive an Ioniq 5 this weekend, a car we’ve been trying to buy since they opened “reservations.” I’ll spare you the saga, but it’s been over a year, and I’m unhappy with how Hyundai handled the entire process. But the car was lovely! Supposedly they have one that matches our reservation coming in March, so maybe we’ll get a new car this year. At this point, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Now I’m going to make some tea and some words, and I hope that you’re warm and cosy wherever you are!

My New Precious

I turned in the page proofs for Capture the Sun on Friday, so I got to spend the weekend having fun. On Saturday, we had a lovely dinner with friends we hadn’t seen since before the pandemic, then on Sunday, I built my new gaming PC.

We’ve been meaning to upgrade our computers forever it seems like, but thanks to the aforementioned pandemic, parts have been in short supply and expensive. We built our existing computers in 2013, then upgraded the video cards in 2018, so I’d say we got our money’s worth. Fingers crossed the new systems last as long.

Behold, my new precious!

A small black PC case on a glass shelf under my desk.

Yes, I forgot to take a picture once it was all together until after I’d already put it under my desk and hooked up all the cables. Pretend you see no mess.

We did a mini-ITX build, so the case is adorably tiny, and it has a pop-up handle on top. A handle! Do I need a handle? Yes, absolutely, obviously. 😂

That glorious rectangle of black mesh started out like this:

It may have been ten years since I built a computer, but the process has only gotten easier. All of the cables had nice labels, and the front IO was in one solid block instead of trying to put each connector on the pins individually. There were only two tricky bits. First, an ITX build is tiny, and there’s not a lot of room to work. Getting the cable routing right took some fiddling. The second was the force required to clamp in the CPU: it seemed like A LOT, but it was fine.

Mr. M’s motherboard arrives on Wednesday, so next weekend will be computer building part two. For those of you interested in specs, prepare to be whelmed: we generally build middle of the road PCs with whatever the newest tech at the time is, then run them forever.

The build is in a HYTE Revolt 3 case. The CPU is an Intel 13600k with an ASRock Z790M-ITX motherboard, 32GB of DDR5 memory, a 2TB M.2 drive, and a giant Noctura air cooler, plus another Noctura 140mm fan that didn’t make the first picture. We’re keeping our existing ancient video cards for a bit until the sting of all these new parts wears off, lol.

But considering my previous computer was too old to run Windows 11 and only had 8GB of ram (a lot at the time!), this is a massive upgrade.

We’ve started playing Satisfactory again, and Mr. M was off today, so we spent the whole day testing out the new system. It works! And the CPU temperature stayed reasonable, which is always a concern with these tiny cases.

We’ll probably have to upgrade our video cards when Diablo IV comes out, or maybe Starfield, if it’s first, but for now, it’s perfect.

And so cute! 😍

Capture the Sun Page Proofs

My inbox held a fun little surprise this morning: the first pass pages for Capture the Sun! This is when my little story starts to really look like a book, because it’s the formatted version that will go to print. For example, here is the title page:

Capture the Sun's title page, with the title text in an outline of a burning sun.
Click to embiggen

Isn’t it pretty?? 😍 It isn’t final final, so it could still change, etc, etc, but it usually doesn’t.

The text also is pretty much done at this point, and I’m limited in the number of changes I can make. But this is my last chance to catch any remaining typos or errors, so I’ll be reading the book straight through one more time. Good thing I adore Lexi and Nilo. :)

It’s funny how brains work (or my brain, at least). Because I read every book I write as a book about four times—before sending in the rough draft, after edits, after copyedits, and during page proofs—and that doesn’t even count all the time I spend writing and editing, and I still forget characters and plot. If I went back and read Polaris right now, it would probably be like reading a whole new book.

It’s the same with books other people have written. I’ve literally read the same book twice (not on purpose!) and only had the occasional thought of, huh, this seems kind of familiar, I wonder what other book I’ve read like this? I look in Goodreads, and lo and behold, it was this exact book.

But I guess it means everything is always shiny and new, so it’s not all downsides. 😂

If you want to hear me talk more about writing and my process, I did an interview with Cosmic Circus and they put it up as a podcast, but you can also just listen in the browser. I did this interview back in October, I think, and I’m pretty sure I was in editing hell, so fair warning: I ramble. But hopefully it’s an enjoyable ramble. :)

Back to Work

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2023 already, and I look forward to writing 2022 for the next six months or so until I get used to it. In reality, it still kind of feels like 2020 part four because my sense of time was warped during the early pandemic and never really recovered.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! Mr. M and I went back to our hometown for a week, just in time for the temperature to plummet to -11°F (with a -30° wind chill), so we spent a lot of time indoors—LEGO and boardgames FTW! After nearly twenty years in central TX, I’m not used to the cold. In fact, it’s going to be 75°F today, which is perfect “winter” weather as far as I’m concerned. :)

But now I’m back to work, trying to find the bottom of my inbox and remember how to write.

One of those is going better than the other; I’ll leave it up to you to guess which is which, lol.

The fantasy romance is about 22k words, and the Starlight’s Shadow short story is a little over 5k. I should probably knock the short story out first, because I don’t do well with two projects at once, but I’ve been more drawn to fantasy lately, so we’ll see.

Capture the Sun is nearly done from my side, I just have galley proofs left to do at some point, probably soon-ish. It always both a relief and a little scary to be out of contract: I made it to the end of another trilogy! 🎉 What if I never have another good idea? 😱

Running out of ideas is an irrational fear, since I constantly have more ideas than I possibly have time to work on, but brains don’t always run on rationality—at least, mine doesn’t. But pitching an idea to a publisher who can (and does!) say no is always a little nerve-racking.

Good thing that’s a problem for future me. Present me just has to remember where I was in one of these stories and then make some words happen. Wish me luck!

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from our house to yours! I hope this holiday season brings you peace, joy, and all the best presents from Santa. 💕

A picture of Mr. M and me with a festive background. Happy Holiday from House Mihalik!

I’m so grateful for your enthusiasm and support this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2023 and beyond brings! With that in mind, I maaaay have included a new tiny little snippet of Capture the Sun below, but you won’t tell my editor, right? ;)

Happy holidays and happy reading!

I blinked my eyes open to a room filled with dim light. When I lifted my head, I saw that the glass panels had darkened, shading the room from the blazing sun outside. I glanced down at Nilo and found him watching me with an unreadable expression. “What time is it?” I whispered, unwilling to break the fragile peace.

“Midmorning,” he replied just as softly.

I hummed an acknowledgment and then lay back down. Nilo froze as my head returned to his shoulder, then he slowly, carefully wrapped his arm around me. I wasn’t touch starved, not exactly, but it’d been a while since I’d trusted anyone enough to just cuddle.

Not that I trusted Nilo completely, but I trusted that he wouldn’t take advantage of this.

“You don’t have to stay, if you want to get up,” I murmured a few minutes later. Then I reluctantly added, “I should probably get up, too. We have things to do today.”

Nilo’s arm tightened around me. “I’m exactly where I want to be. Stay. Just for a little while longer.”