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.

Cold and Cozy

Yesterday, the temperature dropped forty degrees, leaving us at forty degrees. It’s gray and windy and the perfect day to cozy up with a hot cup of tea—my first of the season! I’m still trying to use up all of the tea I currently have, but my willpower is weakening as the supply dwindles. If Harney & Sons does a Black Friday sale, I’ll be in trouble.

Today’s pot is a chai blend heavy on the cardamom and cinnamon. Its warm spiciness is a perfect foil for the weather.

Of course, by the weekend it’s going to be back in the eighties, so this is a very brief glimpse of winter. :)

Mr. M and I started playing Diablo IV again. The second season is here, and it brought a lot of small quality of life changes that make the game fun again instead of tedious. Of course, we’re still leveling and just made it to world tier three, so we’ll see if it holds through the end game grind.

We also have Baldur’s Gate 3 to finish and Starfield to start, so we’re not exactly hurting for things to do. I’ve been so braindead lately that even playing games was too much. I started watching King the Land, a kdrama where a rich, entitled (incredibly gorgeous) boss grows a heart for one of his (also gorgeous) employees. So problematic IRL, but so delicious in fiction.

I think I’m on like episode thirteen or so, but then things got tense, and I could see the bleak moment coming, so I’ve avoided watching the last few episodes for like two weeks. That’s where my brain is right now. 🙈

I really need to get some writing done this week, because it’s very nearly November. I briefly considered trying to do NaNoWriMo before coming to my senses and backing away slowly. But if you’re participating, let me know and I’ll cheer you on!

Upcoming Events!

I have two events happening later this month, so if you want to see my smiling face either virtually or in person, I have an event for you!

First up, on Thursday, October 19 at 6:00PM Central Time, I’m doing a virtual reading for Strong Women, Strange Worlds along with five other authors. It’s free to attend, but you need to register in advance. I’ll be reading from Capture the Sun, so if you have a favorite scene you want me to read, let me know!

Strong Women, Strange Worlds presents Third Thursday QuickReads of SF/F/H by K. Ten, D.L. Howard, JL George, C.O. Davidson, Luna McNamara, and Jessie Mihalik. October 19, 7PM Eastern, free on Zoom. Preregister now at

Then, just a couple of days later, on October 22, I’ll be at the Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy in Richardson, TX to support the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. There are still a few tickets available at my table, and there are something like thirty authors attending, so you have a bunch of us to choose from!

Richardson Adult Literacy Center presents Buns & Roses Romance Tea for literacy. Keynote: Alka Joshi, author of the Japur Trilogy, The Henna Artist, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, and The Perfumist of Paris. October 22, 2023, Doubletree Hilton, Richardson, TX

Attending readers get a little present from the authors they sit with and get to mingle with all the attending authors either at the tea and signing or during the VIP reception the night before (with additional ticket). This is your chance to dress up, have fun, and support a great cause all at the same time!

We had last-minute travel for a funeral this weekend and didn’t get home until nearly 2AM last night, so I’m dragging today. The internet was out and our phones didn’t have service all weekend, so I got a lot of chatting and reading done, which was lovely, but now my inbox is exploding a little bit, so I have to wade through that.

I finished reading Fall of Ruin and Wrath by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and enjoyed it a lot, but romance readers should beware the cliff. I’m looking forward to the next book!

Then I started an advance copy of At First Spite by Olivia Dade, and it’s so, so good. It deals with some heavy issues with the kindest, gentlest touch, and there are so many emotions, so deftly written, that it nearly made me cry on an airplane, so now we’re definitely nemeses instead of friends. 😭

One of these days I’ll actually tackle updating my book rec list, but that day is not today. :)

I’m Donnnnne!

The edits on the romantic fantasy are off to my agent, as well as a blurb for both books, a synopsis, and a “mood board” which I’ve never made before, but here we are.

That means with the exception of a few possible tweaks, my part of this process is done for now, so I can play video games all weekend and not worry about it. In the next few weeks, my agent will review the edits, then start working on a submission package to see if anyone wants to buy it. Fingers crossed!

Since I made this mood board, would you like to see it? How about it along with the tiniest little snippet I shared on social media today for the #FridayKiss prompt?

If the answer is no, too bad, this is my blog and I can do what I want. ;)


A collage of several images reflecting a fantasy setting with spooky castles, pretty dresses, a wolf, a rose, a sexy couple, and a library.

Fun fact: while most of these photos are from a stock site, one of them is mine. 👀

The #FridayKiss prompt was “bed” this week, which is why I finally jumped in with a snippet: