Serial Fiction

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.

Books & Broadswords: Chapter 2

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 2, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

The dratted knight was once again waiting at the next bend in the road. For the past two hours, he’d ridden ahead, as directed, but only as far as he could see me, or very slightly farther. Then he waited for me to approach before riding forward once more. He hadn’t said a single word to me, hadn’t even lifted an arm in greeting, but he was escorting me nonetheless.

It was two parts infuriating and one part intriguing.

“Wait,” I called as he turned to continue. “If you’re going to keep this up, you might as well ride with me.”

His smile rivaled the sun, and my stomach did a weird little flip that I’d never felt before. Maybe the food at the last tavern hadn’t agreed with me.

“Are you heading to Slyphon?” he asked.

I hadn’t been, but I guess I was now, so I nodded.

He gave my cart a dubious glance. “It’s three days on foot. Do you have sufficient supplies?”

He couldn’t know the crates in my cart held only books, so I lifted my chin. “Of course. Do you?”

He patted the various saddlebags and bundles strapped to Percy. “I always carry extras, just in case.”

Then the exasperating man dismounted and tried to hand me the reins, even as Percy danced sideways. “I will pull your cart while you take a break,” he offered. “Do you know how to ride?”

“No, and I don’t need a break.” Belatedly, I remembered my manners and tacked on, “Thank you.”

We started forward again, a soft symphony of clinking armor, shod hooves, and creaking wheels.

Books & Broadswords: Chapter 1

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 1, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

Happy Valentine’s week, y’all, and welcome to the first chapter of a new serial, a romantic fantasy short story about a woman on a quest to buy books and the handsome, persistent knight who interrupts her day.

This one is for my brother, who gave me the idea. Usually, ideas flow off me like water, since I always have more ideas than time, but this one stuck in my head, and since he wasn’t going to write it—despite me telling him to!—I wrote it for him. Love you, baby bro, and I hope you like what I did with your story. :)

Because it’s a short story of just under 10k words, the chapters are correspondingly short, some exceedingly so, but I’m going to post a couple a week, so you won’t have to wait so long between them.

And finally, this story has no connection to any of my other worlds, including the fantasy romance I’m writing. It’s strictly just for fun. :) Happy reading!

I set the royal mark on the counter, and the merchant’s eyes glowed, first with greed, then regret. “I can’t make change for that,” he murmured, his gaze on the gold coin. “You’ll need to go to the bank.”

“I don’t want change,” I replied quietly, trying to keep the barely contained excitement out of my voice. “I want books.”

The merchant laughed and swept an arm toward the corner of the shop I’d already perused. “You could buy every book I own, and I’d still have to make more change than I have. Go to the bank.”

“I will take them all. Use what’s left to pay off the balance of whoever needs it most.”

His eyes widened. “You’re serious?”

“I am. I made a list of the copies I want. Do you have boxes I can use?”

The merchant nodded and hurried off to find some empty boxes before I changed my mind.

He took the gold coin with him.

I started making stacks of books. When he returned with two large crates, we loaded books into them with quick efficiency. He helped me carry the first crate outside, and he frowned at my handcart.

“You won’t be able to haul all of this by hand,” he said, then sighed. “With the change you’re owed, you could buy a pony and wagon. Wait here, and I’ll get someone to find one for you.”

I stopped him with a hand on his arm. “No need. The cart has a clockwork-assist. I will be fine, but I appreciate the offer.”

The merchant looked skeptical, but he helped me load the rest of the books without a fuss. Then he watched me pull the cart away, easy as you please. Finally, he smiled and waved. “Thank you! I’ll have more books next month, if you’re interested.”

I waved back at him. “I’ll check in the next time I’m in the area.”

I passed a few people on my way out of town, but none of them paid me any mind. The road was empty and the sun was warm, so I made good time. It was midafternoon when distant hoofbeats broke the silence.

The rider was pushing their horse hard, so I moved to the edge of the road to give them room to pass. I shook out my arms and used the excuse to take a break and enjoy the sun.

The Queen’s Triumph Serial is Complete!

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Triumph

The Queen's Triumph. A space opera serial.

Thank you so much for following along as I posted the third and final part of Samara and Valentin’s story. I hope it brought you a little bit of joy in this very difficult year. :)

The whole serial is now available for binge reading, but don’t wait too long because it’ll disappear into the vault in a week or so.

If you’d like a copy to keep, the edited book is out now:

The Queens Triumph Cover. Queen Samara in battle armor, looking at the viewer, holding a gun in front of a planet with rings.

When the Quint Confederacy’s biggest traitor threatens everything Queen Samara Rani holds dear, she vows to show him exactly how she earned her deadly reputation—and why one should never cross the Rogue Queen.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Bookshop

There weren’t a huge number of changes during edits, just some tightening up of scenes, a bit of additional information, and a short bonus epilogue.

And, of course, all of the redacted scenes. 😏😘

Now I have to disappear into the writing cave because New Shiny is due at the beginning of January. I won’t be posting too much for the next few weeks while I’m on deadline, so I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season!

The Queen’s Triumph: Chapter 2

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Triumph

The Queen's Triumph, a space opera serial. Image includes a futuristic spaceship in a gray hangar.

“Do you like it?” Valentin asked quietly from somewhere behind me.

It took two tries before I could swallow past the lump in my throat and force the words out. “What is this?”

I heard him shift. “It’s not perfect, but I tried to get it as close as I could remember. I know nothing will ever replace Invictia, and I’m so fucking sorry you lost your ship because of me. But I’m hoping that you’ll accept Ardia as a poor replacement.” He paused, then tacked on, “Surprise.”

That did surprise a half laugh, half sob out of me. I looked around the room with vision gone watery. It wasn’t an exact replica, but it was such a close match that Valentin must’ve personally specified every detail from memory—and he’d only been on my ship once.

In the soft sunset light still streaming in through the open door to the hall, it was incredibly, unimaginably perfect, and I wanted it more than I’d ever wanted almost anything.

But it was far, far too much.

This ship would easily buy four or five ships of Invictia’s caliber—and that was before you added whatever special stealth technology the ship had.

The door swished closed as Valentin moved farther into the room. He stopped in front of me, expression shuttered. He gently touched my damp cheek. “I apologize. I just thought…” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. You’re welcome to pick whatever ship you like, of course. It doesn’t have to be this one.”

“It’s perfect,” I admitted softly. “I love everything about it. But I can’t possibly acc—”

Valentin interrupted me. “If you don’t accept, then Ardia will sit, unused, in a berth somewhere. I already told you that I’m not replacing Korax, and I won’t sell Ardia. I had this ship trimmed out just for you, so you’d be doing me—and the ship—a favor by accepting.”

I arched an eyebrow, back on firmer ground and glad that he hadn’t made a big deal of my emotional breakdown. “Are you trying to guilt me into accepting a ship?”

He grinned at me. “Yes. Is it working?”