Happy Leap Day!

This week has been a lot, so I’m not entirely sure I’m happy to have an extra day of February, but here we are. The month decided to end on a bang: this week, a friend suffered a loss, and a family member had a health scare, so fingers crossed that March will calm the eff down.

If you’re seeing this on the blog, you might notice the header image has changed. The last one was a little space specific, and now that I’m branching into fantasy, it needed an update. It will probably change again (as my mood changes, lol), but it’s good enough for now. Don’t worry if you don’t see it yet, caching can take a while to refresh.

I finally have the draft contract for Silver and Blood, so it’s edging ever closer to being a book. Publishing moves at the speed of frozen molasses, but it does eventually move. Most of the time. 😂

Book two is started, though not by a lot. It follows so closely on the heels of book one, that I’m sort of half waiting for edits before getting too far in. If I have to change the end of the first book, then it will definitely affect what I’m writing now. But I’m also trying to get a head start so I don’t burn myself in deadline hell this fall. It’s a delicate balance. :)

I also have edits for Books & Broadswords coming soon-ish, so I’ll have plenty of things to keep me busy. I started poking at a new sci-fi idea—two actually—but that’s kind of how my brain works. As soon as I’m supposed to do something, everything else looks so much better. It’s why I refuse to join book clubs: the very moment reading becomes homework, I will refuse to do it.

It’s chilly and gray out today, which hits especially hard when it was sunny and 90°F two days ago. Though, I wouldn’t mind if the rest of the ninety-degree days held off until July.

A girl can hope. :)

But at least it’s the perfect day for potato soup. Mmm, soup. I hope you’re enjoying your extra day!

New Deal! More Books! 🎉

I may have not-so-subtly mentioned that I was writing a fantasy romance and teased the fact that I might have news soon, and guess what? That time is now!

I’ve been sitting on this news for months, and I am extremely delighted to announce that I’ve sold a new Beauty and the Beast-inspired romantasy duology to Avon! 🎉

A Publishers Marketplace Deal Announcement: Author of POLARIS RISING and HUNT THE STARS Jessie Mihalik's SILVER AND BLOOD, pitched as a Beauty and the Beast-inspired romantasy filled with magic and otherworldly creatures, where a beautiful woman with untapped power agrees to brave the dark woods to kill a deadly monster but soon discovers there is more to the forest and its beasts than what she expected-including a powerful, scarred, and strikingly handsome mage, to Tessa Woodward at Avon, in a six-figure deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2025, by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (world English).

Here’s the text:

Author of POLARIS RISING and HUNT THE STARS Jessie Mihalik’s SILVER AND BLOOD, pitched as a Beauty and the Beast-inspired romantasy filled with magic and otherworldly creatures, where a beautiful woman with untapped power agrees to brave the dark woods to kill a deadly monster but soon discovers there is more to the forest and its beasts than what she expected-including a powerful, scarred, and strikingly handsome mage, to Tessa Woodward at Avon, in a six-figure deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2025, by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (world English).

I once again get to work with the fabulous Tessa Woodward, the editor for my previous books, but this time I’ll be on the Avon side of the publishing house rather than the Voyager side, which just means they’re positioning it more as romance rather than SF/F.

Unlike my previous trad books, both books in this series will follow the same couple and end in a HEA—at the end of book two. I’m not going to be too mean at the end of book one, but there is a lot of plot left for book two, which I’m writing now.

Now for the bad news: it’s coming in 2025, and I don’t have an exact date yet. I know that seems like forever away, but it’ll give me time to write the second book, and hopefully they’ll come out fairly close to each other. (Don’t hold me to that, since I have exactly zero control over it, but I’m crossing my fingers.)

Remember that snippet I shared a while back? It was from this book, and I can’t wait for you to meet Garrick and Riela!

There’s a magical castle (with a library!), a mysterious wolf, and of course, a handsome, cursed mage who’s more than he seems.

But, then again, so is she. ;)

Silver and Blood is very loosely B&tB inspired, because it kind of started out that way, then went its own direction, so don’t expect a faithful adaptation. But a lot of the elements are there, so if you’re a fan of B&tB, you’ll probably like it. And if you’re not a fan, you might still like it. :)

Here’s another tiny snippet as a reward for making it this far. 💕 It’s unedited and subject to change.

I glanced at the lake. Even if I could safely get down to the water, which was doubtful, it probably wasn’t any safer to drink than the water from the pipes.

If I understood my magic properly, then I could’ve purified the water in the lake, or pulled it directly from the air. Frustration shadowed my steps. I’d turned aside a literal flood to save my village, but the simplest magic eluded me.

I sighed. I had two options: drink water from the pipes and eat food from my pack, assuming I could get to it, or find the mage and ask him about the water and the kitchen. Pride argued for the first, but I steeled my spine and turned back to the scullery door.

I rounded the corner and paused in surprise.

The wolf and the mage stood in the shadows of the kitchen garden, their eyes glinting. I approached cautiously, not sure which of them was the bigger threat.

“I was just heading inside to look for you,” I said when I was close enough that I didn’t have to raise my voice.

The mage’s eyes flickered over me, then his brows drew together in a scowl. Moonlit magic pulsed and a heavy cloak draped itself over my shoulders. It was a lovely deep gray and far finer than the cloak I’d left behind in my bedroom. With the thick fabric wrapped around me, I could no longer feel the cutting bite of the wind, and warmth began to thaw my chilled skin.

“Do not become ill,” the mage demanded, his tone curt. “Healing is draining.”

“Are you the one who healed me last night?” I asked.

He nodded once, sharply, then turned toward the door. I reached for him before I thought better of it. My fingers closed around the firm muscles of his forearm, hidden beneath the long sleeves of his tunic, and a little zap of awareness darted up my arm.

I let go with a gasp, but his expression remained unreadable. He tilted his head, turning his scars away from me. “You should not be outside after dark. The castle is protected, but the forest is persistent.”

Now I’m off to work on book two. 😘

Books & Broadswords Cover Reveal & Snippet

For those of you who wanted a copy of the Books & Broadswords and Rocks & Rapiers serial stories to keep, since they’ve now been taken down, I present to you, Books & Broadswords, Volume One. It’s up for preorder now, and will be available June 11:

Books & Broadswords Volume One cover. A teal open book, broadsword, and decorative swirls cover a purple dragon-scale background.

This novella-length volume includes two romantic fantasy stories set in a shared world, each with a guaranteed happily ever after, plus a new bonus epilogue.

Books & Broadswords

The only thing Feora likes more than stealing the king’s gold is using it to buy books. But when a handsome, persistent knight interrupts her day, Feora must decide if saving his life is worth revealing her true nature.

Rocks & Rapiers

Zenira never wanted to sell her rock collection, but when the new landowner raises her rent, she’s out of options. Armed with a sketchy rumor about a collector who will pay for stones others might consider worthless, Zenira sets out, but she’s met with an icy scowl, a muddy manor, and the overwhelming urge to mend the mess—owner included.

Preorder Now!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

And before you ask, yes, there WILL be a print version, but it may not go up for preorder. It will be available at release, though, and if the preorder happens, of course I’ll let you know. :)

Some other questions:

So, Volume One? 👀

Yes. There may never be a Volume Two, but I do have a new idea for another story, I just have to find the time to write it. Volume One is there to indicate it’s a collection, as well as leave room for future stories.

Did the stories change?

Hopefully not a lot, but I haven’t gotten the edits back yet, so I don’t know. I also added a brand new bonus epilogue for people who buy the book, so you’ll get a little extra even if you’ve already read the stories.

Did you say bonus epilogue?

Yep! It’s around 5k words, which is about half of Books & Broadswords, so pretty hefty, and it features two chapters: one from Ansel’s point of view and one from Baldric’s. If you wished the stories were open door, this epilogue is for you. If you didn’t… well, maybe skip it. :)

And because you made it this far, here’s a little peek at the epilogue. This hasn’t been edited yet and is subject to change, etc, etc.

This snippet is from Ansel’s POV and takes place ten years after the stories.

“I didn’t realize Baldric had mated,” Feora murmured.

My eyes narrowed at the odd note in her voice. I’d hadn’t spent a decade with a dragon without learning something of possessiveness, but I kept my voice mild as I asked, “You know him?”

“He’s my cousin. We were born around the same time, so we grew up together.” She huffed out a soft laugh. “Or at least as together as dragons ever get. We drifted apart as the years lengthened.”

My jealousy died, and I nudged her forward. “Let’s go say hello.”

The icy dragon’s eyes raked over me before landing on Feora and warming slightly. A wry smile touched his mouth, but it didn’t stop him from tugging his mate closer as we approached.

The woman at his side huffed at him. “Dragon, quit being ridiculous. I’m not going anywhere.”

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.