Thursday, December 7, 2023


The kittens left more than 24 hours ago, which means I've had no excuse to heat the house above 55. (I have a space heater in my office, so it's not that bad.) Even knowing that there are no kittens in the bathroom, I have checked the browser tab with the kitten cam multiple times. I know I'm not alone!

In other news, all the trees dropped their leaves last night and we've had some rain. The street sweepers were waging a hopeless battle against the leaves this morning, but I think it's going to take more than one attempt to get things under control. (Did I take a picture of the battle? No, I did not. Oh well.)

Pet Picture of the Day

Nightingale is ready for any trouble!

Accomplishments of the Day

  • Relaxed and read Paladin's Faith (the new T. Kingfisher novel) because I've been feeling a little off for the past 24 hours. Is it a cold? Is it just a bad night of sleep? Is it lack of caffeine? Is it too much caffeine? (Okay, it's not that last one. I often have a bunch of caffeine right before bed just so I can sleep.) Honestly, I have no idea what's going on, but I'm fine with just throttling back on doing things for a day or two. Ugh. I suppose I should take a Covid test just to be sure, though my risk is pretty low.
  • Added 427 words to Theoretical Magic.
  • Worked on the newsletter a bit. (No rush — it's not going out until the 16th.)
  • Yesterday's total step count: 10,623. Today's will be about the same.
  • To-do still today: a trip to the grocery store. Normally I walk there, but I need to buy dog food and carrying a 17-lb bag for a mile is a pain in the ass, even when I'm feeling fine, so I'll drive.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023


 I took the Rivers of London kittens back to the shelter today and the house is currently kitten-free for the first time in... maybe four months? I can't actually remember. Normally, I take one group back and bring another home with me, or have one group in the bathroom and another in the office. It's been a while since the bathroom has been empty.

My friends, of course, are funnier that I will ever be:

Anyhow, I make jokes about how there's DRAMA happening at the shelter every time I go in.

The last time I was there, they nearly had to call child protective services because some guy refused to give them information about his daughter who was bitten by a dog. (Don't mess around with the state when rabies is on the line, friends. You won't win.)

A previous time, someone's estranged uncle had taken the owner's dog and dumped it at a park. Another guy works on oil rigs and the people watching his dog let it run loose, but he still owed money for the last time his dog had been at the shelter.

So, today, the appointment was for a time before the lobby was open, and I made a joke about missing out on the drama today. The woman behind the counter started laughing, and that was when I found out why there was a sheriff's SUV and a detective's truck in the parking lot. Some guy had an appointment to come in and he had threatened to "slaughter" all the staff in the past, so they were taking precautions. (There were mental health issues complicating all this.)

Anyhow, the kittens are at the shelter and if you know anyone who is looking for an adorable addition or two to their house, let me know!

Pet Picture of the Day

Lady Tyburn really wanted to get onto my desk.

Accomplishments of the Day

  • Took the kittens to the shelter
  • Write-in in Davis where I only got 500 words written but had a great crepe.
  • Cleaned & disinfected the bathroom where the kittens have been sneezing for two months. This took a while.
  • Remembered Holidailies yet again!
  • Yesterday's total step count: 26,155. Today I will be lucky to hit 10k, but I am exhausted after spending two hours scrubbing kitten snot from the bathroom walls. (Yes, fostering is glamorous!)
  • Still to-do today: Write another 1200 words on the urban fantasy novel.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023


For the first thirty-five years of my life, I was absolutely convinced I always had to follow the most difficult path, just because it was the most difficult. The AP version of a course? That's the one I needed to take. Electrical engineering? That must be my major. Life on hard mode was a core part of my personality.

At some point, I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with taking it easy. You don't have to read James Joyce's Ulysses just because it's the book nobody else can read. Especially if you've tried a couple of times. You don't have to enroll in an MFA program to write fiction. You don't have to go the traditional publishing route of finding and agent and waiting for them to sell your book. You can buy the frozen pie crust if you don't enjoy making your own.

Sometimes — most times — the easy way is the better choice.

Anyhow, I was thinking about this tonight as I was taking the trash bin to the curb for the weekly pickup. For years, I forced myself to remember what day the trash pickup was, which meant that half the time I was dragging the bins to the curb in my pajamas at 6am after I was woken by the sound of the garbage truck. Or I missed the pickup completely.

And then one day I created a reminder on my Google calendar. Now it emails me on Tuesday evenings. (It's a little passive aggressive, though, with its "Have you taken out the trash?" but that's a separate issue.) It's one less thing I have to remember. It's life on easier mode.

Honestly, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be that taking the easy road isn't a bad thing. (But I never would have listened.)

Pet Picture of the Day

This is Molly (of the Rivers of London foster kitten gang). She's a ringleader whenever they get up to mischief, but she has a purr that will lull you to sleep. The fosters are going back to the shelter tomorrow, which is good, because they are getting big, but I will miss them.

Accomplishments of the Day

  • Spent an hour cleaning stuff in the dining room area. I still need to clear off some stuff on the table, but it's better than it was.
  • Remembered Holidailies again!
  • Added 800 words to Theoretical Magic.
  • Mastermind group meeting.
  • Yesterday's total step count: 24,328. Today's will probably be a bit less.
  • To-do: Another 900 words on the urban fantasy book. (I did make it to 1700 yesterday.)

Monday, December 4, 2023

Monster of the Week

Well, at least I made it three whole days before having the "what the heck am I going to blog about?" thought.

Monster of the Week

No, we're not talking romance novels today. (Though, yeah, if I wrote romance novels, that's probably the kind I would write because they are absolutely bonkers.) Instead, I'm talking about the style of TV show I most enjoy.

Monster of the week doesn't imply a real monster — it just refers to there being a new problem that has a complete plot arc during each episode. Think of the old style Batman show. Every week, there was a new villainous plot, and everything was resolved at the end. A lot of popular shows do this, especially police procedurals like all of the Law & Order clones. Star Trek did this. 

Sometimes they will also have a series arc, but for me, that's usually when a show gets into trouble. I don't mind character subplots with people forming new relationships like you would expect in real life, but I don't want a Big Bad who is slowly stalking the main character's family during the entire season. Just give me the monster of the week and let me feel like everything has been resolved when the closing credits play.

Pet Picture of the Day

This is Lady Tyburn (of the Rivers of London foster kitten gang) and Freeway, the cockatiel who loves kittens. I have had this cockatiel for 22 years, and she has flown toward every cat she's ever seen. How she survived in the wilds of the SF Bay Area long enough to nearly starve to death, I will never know.

Accomplishments of the Day

  • Sent "Preparing for Winter with Special Guest Baba Yaga" to my Patreon supporters.
  • Remembered (again!) that Holidailies exists and wrote this blog entry.
  • Added ~700 words to the urban fantasy novel.
  • Spent an hour breaking down boxes in the back room as part of getting the house ready for the pet sitter.
  • Yesterday's total step count: 22,204. Today will likely be about the same.
  • Did not pick up the medical foster kitten from the shelter. (I mean, I offered, but I waited long enough to reply to the email that someone else had already taken her.) Trust me, this is an accomplishment.
  • To-do tonight: add another 1k to the urban fantasy novel. (If I can write 1,667 words every day during November, surely I can manage it at least once during December, right?)

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Glitter Makes Everything Better

If you, too, have no talent at drawing, a short attention span, and a love for creating colorful and shiny things, let me introduce you to acrylic paint pouring with glitter paint!

It's a little hard to photograph these things, so you'll have to use your imagination. But I'm telling you, I walk by my wall of art and think "ooh, shiny!" at least five times every day. They make me happy.

Pet Picture of the Day

This is Nightingale (from the Rivers of London kitten gang). He may look innocent, but he's planning world domination. And that's okay, because he is so soft I will forgive him anything.

Accomplishments of the Day

  • Wrote the rough draft of a short thing for my Patreon supporters. (Preparing for Winter with Baba Yaga) I'll give it a day to settle before I try to make it funnier and then send it out.
  • Edited and posted the episode for Dragon Fortune on Kindle Vella.
  • Remembered (again!) that Holidailies exists and wrote this blog entry.
  • To-do: Add words to the urban fantasy
  • Yesterday's total step count: 21,487. Today should be about the same.

Saturday, December 2, 2023


Coffee shop character of the day:

There was a guy (white, over 6', bulky, short grey/black hair, in his 50s (?), American accent) on the patio who asked us to watch his stuff while he went to the restroom.

His stuff consisted of a laptop and a carton of eggs.

The eggs might have made sense in the summer when the farmers market is just down the street, but the farmers market is closed for the winter. So... where did the eggs come from? Anyhow, then he came back and got on a phone call speaking in... Danish maybe? It was one of those Nordic languages they speak in the bleak mysteries where there is a lot of snow and the detective is slowly drinking himself to death.

So why the eggs? These are the important questions in life, and I'll never know.


Do you read serialized fiction? Since you're reading a blog, I'm guessing the answer is no. I'm not saying you're old or anything, but... Chances are, you're well over forty.

Anyhow, the young kids these days read serialized fiction. There are a ton of apps out there (Royal Road, Wattpad, Radish, and Kindle Vella to name just a few) and the idea is that you can read an episode or two while standing in line or on your break — stories for a world where many people don't have the time to spend reading longer form fiction.

Some authors make a lot of money writing serials. Most of them write steamy romance. But then again, that's true for novels as well. Romance is big, and there are rewards for writing what people want to read. Though I often have a romantic subplot in my books, I don't write pure romance. Don't get me wrong — I'd love to. But if I tried, soon there would be ghosts and a murder and... the end result wouldn't fit in the genre of romance.

So I've been writing a few serials on Kindle Vella, mostly because Amazon was giving big bonuses to authors even if nobody was reading the serial. Amazon has done a terrible job with Kindle Vella. If they'd done it correctly, they'd have taken over the American market by now. As it is, I suspect they'll shut down the platform at some point. But it's hard to be sad about Amazon falling on their face.

In any case, I'll probably stop loading episodes on Kindle Vella after I finish the current serial. It's too much effort for very little gain and I think I have maybe two people reading the episodes. Marketing fiction can be a challenge in general, but I have no idea how to market serials. With a book, I can discount the first one in a series and advertise that. A small percentage of readers will buy the rest of the series, and as long as you end up net positive, it's all good.

With serials, the price is fixed, based on the word count, so you can't discount it. Novel and serial readers are two separate circles on a Venn diagram, so the 2k people who get my newsletter every month aren't interested. How do you advertise to a cold audience?

The big problem here is that I am old (and terrible at marketing) and serials are a younger person's format. Oh well.

Picture of the Day

Here's my foster kitten, the lovely Lady Tyburn. Her right eye is looking really good these days — at one point, I thought the whole eye was toast, so the fact that it's comfortable and she can see with it is awesome. Ty is super friendly and loves to run up to me and boop me in the face with her nose. It's very cute.

Accomplishments of the day:

  • Remembered Holidailies existed and wrote this post!
  • Wrote the Dragon Fortune episode (1300+ words). I'll give it a quick edit tomorrow and then throw it up on Kindle Vella.
  • Went to a write-in at the local coffee shop. It was a little chilly on the patio, but not too bad.
  • Took pictures of Lady Tyburn's eyes and sent them to the foster coordinator.
  • Yesterday's final step count: 25,592. Today will probably be a bit less, but that's fine.
  • To-do still: I'd like to add some words to the urban fantasy novel I worked on in November.

Friday, December 1, 2023

It's Holidailies 2023 Time!

Welcome to the blog! It's time for Holidailies, the daily blogging challenge that runs every December.

In case you don't know me, I'm Theresa, and I'm a full-time author. My cozy mysteries are published under the pen name Tess Baytree, and my science fiction & fantasy books are published as T.M. Baumgartner. (See below for more info if you want to see what I write.) I have an author website, but I try to be more professional over there. This blog gets the random stuff that may or may not be related to my books.

Other things in my life that I tend to talk about:

  • My dog, Georgie, is an adorable grump. Despite being an Alaskan Husky mix, he doesn't like cold weather, so he's mostly curled up on the couch at this time of year. The best thing about have an 11-year-old dog who doesn't like bad weather is that I don't have to leave the house when it's raining.

  • I foster kittens for my local county shelter. Currently, I have four, named after various characters in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London urban fantasy series. Peter, Nightingale, Molly, and Lady Tyburn have been with me for nearly two months now, but I think we've finally got their upper respiratory problems under control, so they'll probably be going back to the shelter for adoption on Wednesday. In the meantime, here's the link to the kitten cam!

  • We just finished National Novel Writing Month and I have a bunch of great writer friends, some of whom I see in real life every once in a while.
So... yeah. If you're looking for deep thoughts, this probably isn't the right blog. But if light slice-of-life is your thing, or you've always wanted to know what a full-time-author-who-will-probably-have-to-get-a-job-next-year does, this is the place to be!

Here's a picture of Molly. She is a wonderful & friendly kitten.

For the record, here are my accomplishments of the day:
  • Got more kitten food from the shelter. (Very important. These kittens are gigantic now.)
  • Wrote 500 words on how the rest of Theoretical Magic, the urban fantasy novel I started during NaNoWriMo, is supposed to go. Some people might call it an outline.
  • Made proofreading changes for the new Penelope Standing novel (Death Paints a Picture), wrote the acknowledgements, formatted the thing, and uploaded the final version to all the retailers 15 days ahead of the release, which is a new record. Some authors don't release books in December, but who am I to learn from the mistakes of others?
  • Remembered that Holidailies starts today and wrote this blog post.
  • Still to-do today: Figure out what happens in the next episode of the dragon serial on Kindle Vella, and figure out what the digital bonus will be for my Patreon supporters. Yes, it's nearly 6pm, but I set my own hours.
  • Step count for yesterday: 21,781. Today will be similar because I've been writing this while walking on the treadmill at 2 mph.
Anyhow, I'm looking forward to reading the other Holidailies blogs!


Want to check out what I write? Here are some series starters that are either free or $0.99:

  • Death Walks a Dog, book one in the Penelope Standing Cozy Mysteries. She's a dog walker in her fifties who accidentally ends up in the middle of a murder investigation headed up by her boyfriend, Jake. One of my reviews says "Greatest couple since Nick and Nora Charles." (Ugh, this sounds very sales-y, but I'm trying to get better at marketing.)

  • The Chaos Job This is science fiction or maybe space opera or possibly a space western. (Are you starting to see why I need to practice marketing?) There are AIs and hidden gods and sheep. My friend Sierra live-emailed me as she was reading and you can see her comments here.

  • All Gremlins Great & Small A veterinarian in a changed world...