Edits Are Done!

I sent off the edits for Capture the Sun to my editor this morning! 🎉 Overall, edits weren’t too bad this time, and I only added about 2k to the manuscript, bringing it up to 111k words. This is pretty much right in line with the other two books. In fact, all of my trad books have been around 110k-115k words, so I’ve got consistency going for me!

An iPad on a bamboo desk with the first two pages of CAPTURE THE SUN showing.

I shared the image above on social media when I was doing a final read-through of the book after most of the edits were done, and I’m sure some of you were yelling “ENHANCE!” like this was CSI (no? just me??), so here’s the full text, since it was too long to fit in an alt tag. It’s not final-final, and it hasn’t been copyedited, but here you go, the opening of Capture the Sun:

I’d sworn I would never set foot on Valovia again, but I was about to prove myself a liar. That fact had never been in question, but I tried to keep the promises I made to myself. The screen in my cabin gently mocked me, displaying a green and brown close-up of the planet while the atmosphere buffeting the ship’s hull grew denser as we sank toward the surface.

Valovia had burned me twice already. I usually learned from my mistakes, but once again the promise of money had overridden my good sense. I mentally winced. My former captain, Octavia Zarola, would be so disappointed in me. Tavi had a strict moral compass. Mine was a lot more flexible.

And a lot more lucrative.

Case in point: the sumptuous first-class cabin surrounding me, paid for by Besor Edfo, my contact and potential employer on Valovia. It was an obvious ploy for him to demonstrate that he had money to spare, since I hadn’t agreed to take the job yet, only to meet, but it was a nice touch. As was the prepaid first-class return ticket.

Besor had offered me a truly ridiculous amount of money to recover a stolen figurine for him. Apparently, he and a rival had been feuding over the piece of art for close to a decade, and it had switched hands a dozen times thanks to the efforts of a few recovery specialists.

Officially, recovery specialists were experts at tracking down items that had gone missing, whether through negligence or theft. But in reality, we were often the reason items went missing.

The book is due out in May 2023, but in case you don’t want to forget, here are some handy links for you. 😉

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

Now I’m going to take the weekend off (woo!), and go mattress shopping (boo!). That sentence was a real roller coaster, lol, but fingers crossed we find something we like that doesn’t cost a fortune. 🤞🏻

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Honor and Shadows, Plus a Tiny Capture the Sun Snippet

Honor and Shadows, the prequel short story set just before the start of Hunt the Stars, is out in just three weeks on November 1!

This was a bonus story for people who preordered HTS, and while the edited version is a little bit longer, it didn’t change too much, so if you got the preorder bonus, don’t feel like you need to buy it. But you can if you want! I won’t stop you! 😂

Honor and Shadows Cover, featuring a woman in silhouette against a space background.

Honor and Shadows is a 10,000-word prequel novelette set just before the start of Hunt the Stars.

Captain Octavia Zarola needs an infusion of credits—fast—if she’s going to keep her close-knit bounty hunting crew paid and fed. Tracking down an escaped embezzler on a backwater planet should be a piece of cake, but bounties are rarely as easy as they seem.

As the crew closes in on their quarry, the hunt becomes entangled with a local criminal overlord, and Tavi will have to decide what’s more important: money or honor, and how much she’s willing to risk for either one.

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

Print books are coming, but I’d really only recommend them if you absolutely adore print, because print-on-demand is expensive, especially for a story that clocks in just under 14k words. (Yeah, I know the official text says 10k, but that’s because I didn’t update it after I edited the story.)

The print books should, if everything goes to plan, be the same size as the trad books, but I haven’t gotten a proof yet to confirm. Fingers crossed!

And now why you’re here: a little peek at Capture the Sun. I’m editing it now, so I shared a couple of very tiny snippets on Twitter yesterday, but here’s a slightly longer look at each of them. They’re not copyedited, subject to change, etc, etc.

Snippet the first:

I was traveling under a false name, so even if he was on the lookout for me—which I very much doubted, my hubris wasn’t that high—he wouldn’t know I was back on Valovia. And Zenzi’s population was over two million, so the odds that we would accidentally meet were incredibly slim.

Still, I crossed my fingers to ward off bad luck.

Nilo had his own gravity, much like a black hole, and in this, at least, I was smart enough not to be drawn in a third time—no matter how much I was tempted by his charming grin and sly wit.

Snippet the second:

I schooled my face into sharp amusement. “Did you forget that I speak Valovan? I’m not your treasure.” No matter how much the endearment made my heart race.

His expression softened and his thumb slid over the sensitive skin above my pulse. “Are you sure?”

It took a mighty effort, but I managed to pull my wrist away from his intoxicating touch. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“We’ll agree to disagree,” he said, echoing my words back to me.

Lexi and Nilo are so much fun! I kind of forgot how much I love this book because parts of it felt like such a slog (thanks, burnout!), but now that I’m editing, I’m delighted that I wrote it, lol. And my editor agrees! She told me it was “absolutely the perfect book for Lexi and Nilo” and if that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is. :)

Vacations and Edits

It’s been quiet around here lately because we just got back from visiting Ms T, my BFF, for two weeks in southern California, which was absolutely lovely. Mr M and I worked during the week, then we did mini-vacations on the weekends. Ms T’s neighborhood had a pool, which meant we got to swim nearly every day after work, so that was awesome.

My magical fantasy romance is now over 18k words and sort of going in an unexpected direction, but I’m still having fun, so I’m rolling with it.

The first weekend in CA, we went to San Diego for a day at the zoo and beaches, then a day at the Miramar Air Show. I can’t remember the last time I went to an air show, but this one was fantastic! It probably helped that Ms T bought us the fancy tickets with reserved seats right in center field and food and a bar. Win win win!

The air show headliners were the Blue Angels, the Navy’s fancy flying group, and they must have nerves of steel, because they flew real close to each other. It was super impressive. Here’s an animated gif as an example. I made it from a video, and I’m not putting it on the page directly because the file is pretty big, but it’s worth the click. :)

Four jets crossing the frame toward each other against a blue sky.
Five jets flying side-by-side as they do a loop in a very blue sky.

Because I spent the day staring at the sky, I sunburned my lips. They are usually protected by the wide-brimmed hat I wear nearly everywhere outdoors, but looking up negated the hat’s shade. Remember to wear SPF lip gloss, future air show goers!

Last weekend, we went to Joshua Tree National Park. Deserts aren’t usually my thing, but it was beautiful. We did it all—sunset, stars, and sunrise—which made for a long but fun weekend. Ms T also convinced us to climb a mountain. It might have been a trail with almost 1000ft of vertical elevation gain, but it certainly felt like a mountain. 😂

A silhouetted joshua tree at dawn.
Sunrise
A silhouetted joshua tree at sunset.
Sunset

Mr M and I took Monday off and went to check out the ocean. Despite all assurances to the contrary, it was freezing cold. Like literal* ice could’ve been floating in it. (*Okay okay, pedants, figurative ice.) We didn’t swim, but we did wade and sit on the beach and watch the surfers, most—but not all—of whom were wearing wetsuits. I salute you, brave wetsuitless surfers; you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.

A selfie of me and Mr M on Huntington Beach Pier with the ocean and the beach in the background.

Then, in an incredible stroke of good timing, edits for Capture the Sun landed in my inbox this morning. My editor absolutely loved it, so I’m relieved. I’ll be editing it for the next few weeks, then we’ll see what happens, because it’s almost time to think about what’s next and what that looks like.

But for now, to the editing cave!

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. :)