Friday, April 14, 2023

My New Computer

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YA Romance Whodunit
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What's new with Ashleigh?

I don't like to complain, so I've probably never told you about my laptop. I got in December 2020 and it was a vast improvement over my previous laptop. I loved how fast it ran and the large screen. It was a fantastic writing tool.

Until one day, it decided to stop charging. I tried replacing the power cord, but soon learned this was a flaw common with these computers. The computer randomly refuses to acknowledge the power cord connection, thus depleting the battery instead of charging it. Long story short, my laptop soon became a desktop.

So, when I was given the opportunity to get a new laptop, I jumped at the chance. Mr. Stevens helped me pick it out (other than keyboard configuration and screensize, I really have no idea what to look for in a laptop) and he ordered one for himself. They were our birthday presents to ourselves.

My new laptop arrived last week, but with preparations for Easter, I didn't get a chance to open it right away. This past Monday was really my first day to play with it.

And man, did I forget how much effort goes into setting up a new computer. Transferring apps, re-logging into all those accounts that automatically log-in. Searching for license keys for programs I purchased forever ago. It took all day.

Don't get me wrong. I love the new computer. Especially the fact that I can take it with me when I leave my desk. However, I have discovered the one thing I dislike the most about getting a new computer: adjusting to the new keyboard. My "page down" and function keys are different. As someone who uses keyboard shortcuts, it definitely is going to take some adjusting.

How about you? What do you hate most about getting a new computer?

Choose Your Own Path Story

The Detention Adventure

You glance between the warning and the necklace a few times.

As the animal advances, you wonder whether it is friendly. Should you run away or stay and find out?

  • Run away
  • Stay and learn more about the creature

Your heart is pounding in your chest, but your curiosity outweighs your fear. What kind of animal is this? It takes a hesitant step toward you, then another. You stay as still as possible, taking slow, deep breaths to avoid moving your chest.

It feels like forever, but eventually the creature reaches you. It is only about waist high. And has a look suggesting it is as curious about you as you are about it. The noise it makes sounds almost like it is trying to say something.

“Free-ond oth-the ond-saca?”

When you don’t respond, the creature repeats itself. It definitely sounds like actual words.

You put on your best apologetic face as you open your arms and shake your head. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand you.”

The creature takes another cautious step in your direction, tilting its head to the side. “Ay-orth-cyn?”

Again, you don’t respond. The creature reaches out an arm. Unlike the rest of it, the hand is not covered in fur. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought it was a lot like your own. Only smaller.

The creature tugs on your shirt. When it traces a finger along the top of your hand, it’s face lights up. “Ayorthcyn!” It repeats the word again and again as it grabs your hand.

Despite its small size, the creature is small. With no effort, it pulls you in the direction where you had first seen it. And man, is it fast! Even with its short legs, you have to scramble to keep up. Probably because it seems to know the location of every rock and fallen branch, jumping them with ease as you stumble over them.

You see smoke in the distance. Is the creature leading you straight to fire? Before you can figure out how to break free, you emerge from the trees. The source of the smoke is directly in front of you. A massive bonfire, the size of a small car, burns directly in front of you. Behind it are a series of log cabins, all with thatched roofs made of straw. Was this some sort of Colonial American recreation? If so, why would this strange creature be tugging on your arm?

“Ayaldwita! Ayorthcyn! Ayaldwita! Ayorthcyn!”

Its shouts bring people from their huts. Although they are dressed strangely, they at least look normal. About your height, although some are taller. Small children peek out from between their legs as the creature pulls you between the buildings.

Behind the cabins is a vast farm that stretches nearly as far as you can see. Just behind it you espy the edges of another forest. Or perhaps this is an oasis within the same forest you just left. You don’t have time to process it, though. The creature drags you past a stone well to a building on the edge of the farm.

“Ayaldwita! Ayaldwita!”

The creature stops abruptly at the entrance, stepping to the side while pushing you toward the opening. “Besteppay! Besteppay!” Gently pressing on your back, the creature sends you inside.

The first thing you notice is how bright the room is. Although the sun is setting outside, it is brighter than day inside. Glancing up, you notice two small orbs floating near the ceiling, the source of the light. Are they same fancy light fixture? If so, why would they be bobbing gently, as if riding imaginary waves?

A noise before you brings your attention to the room. At a table along the back wall sits a man with a long nose and silver hair to his waist. As you take a hesitant step forward, he rises. He is tall and lean, his brown tunic nearly reaching the floor. Peering curiously at you, he tucks a lock of hair behind his ear. Is that a point you see?

The old man looks behind you. “Birdie? This is say thay?”

You turn to see the creature in the doorway. It is gone. In its place is a child wearing a dark tunic and leggings nearly the same color as the pile of fur on the floor beside it.

“Ayn Ayorthcyn, Ayaldwita. Payet pay insittenday se fyrhath north.”

“Soplisay? Ayn Ayorthcyn?” The old man turns back to you. “You are human?”

You nod, too stunned to speak.

The old man cocks his head slightly. “And how did you arrive here?”

You shrug. “I’m not sure. One minute I was in my school library. The next minute I’m standing in the middle of a forest. I don’t even know where I am.”

The old man smiles. “This is the village of Maguth, in the kingdom of Reeself, the land of Leegpeod. Welcome.”

“How…how do you know my language?”

“That is a long story and it is nearly the hour of supper. Would you like to stay here and eat with us? Or shall we take a walk and I can tell you in the quiet?”

What do you think?

Late For Work

Finally, Karen brings out the contract and passes it to the doctors.

Will they sign it?

  • Yes, Dr. Yeager signs it immediately.
  • No, Dr. Yeager decides he would rather go with another accounting firm.
  • Dr. Yeager would like to think about it and get back to you by end of business day tomorrow.

Dr. Yeager frowns at the paper before him. “I’m just not sure.” He glances at his son before turning to Karen. “Can I have a day to think about it? I’ll get back to you by tomorrow. End of day.”

Karen nods. “Of course. Our goal is to make you as comfortable as possible.”

“Thanks.” He stands, grabbing the folder and turning to his son. “Ready?”

Mike nods. “Sure.” Winking at you, he leans into the table, speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. “I’ll talk to him on the way into the office, but I wouldn’t worry. It’s a done deal.”

You wished you shared his confidence. His father looks anything but certain. Rising, you and Karen shake each man’s hands.

Your boss follows them to the door. “I’ll walk you out.”

As you return to your desk, you replay the meeting in your head. Sure, the beginning was a little rough, but Karen had given the same pitch you’ve heard many times before. Wracking your brain, you can’t remember a single instance when that pitch didn’t land the client. Maybe Mike was right. Maybe Dr. Yeager will sign.

Settling at your desk, you wake your computer and check your messages. The Mitchell account thinks you made a mistake. They’re confident they are earning more than they are spending. Of course, you know they’re wrong. You’re tempted to suggest they stop buying lunch for all twenty employees every day. Instead, you copy Karen on a reply that you will generate a spreadsheet for them when you double-check your calculations. You already have it, of course, but they don’t need to know that.

You read each message in your inbox, deleting them or moving them into client-specific folders. Just as you finish the last message, you a throat clearing at the entrance to your cubicle. You don’t need to turn around to know that cough.

Sure enough, you turn to see Karen hovering, arms folded across her chest as she leans against the wall of your cubicle. “So, how do you think that went?”

Her expression is neutral. What are you supposed to say? “Uh, I believe the younger Dr. Yeager. I think they’ll sign.”

Karen sighs. “Let’s discuss your performance a moment, shall we?”

You wince. “Look, I’m sorry—”

She waves a dismissive hand. “I’m not even going to discuss the coffee. Yes, it was unprofessional, but I would be lying if I said that was the first time that has happened. You handled it well enough. Although you should not have asked the young doctor to help you.”

You shake your head. “I didn’t. I swear. I told him I could do it, but he insisted on helping me.”

Her pursed lips suggest she may not believe you, but she lets the matter drop. “Tell me what’s going on with the Mitchell account.”

You try not to roll your eyes. “They don’t believe they’re earning less than they’re spending. I was about to send them a spreadsheet highlighting everything.”

Karen nods. She spends a few minutes reviewing the rest of your active accounts before giving you a loose warning about improving your performance and leaving. Shaking your head, you get back to work.

Maybe it was the horrible start, but your day seems to drag on forever. By the time five o’clock rolls around, you can’t wait to leave. But the Valley Veterinary account is still giving you trouble. Why won’t those numbers work?

Sitting back in your chair, you rub your eyes. You’ve been staring at it all day. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe if you just give your eyes a rest, the numbers will make sense in the morning.

Before you leave, you make a quick trip to the restroom. You don’t really have to go, but you pass Karen’s office en route. And, you quickly deduce, she left for the day. Making a mental note to arrive extra early tomorrow, you forgo the bathroom and return to your desk. Time to go home. Maybe eat something.

Except, as you make your way to your car, you remember you have no food at home. You can go out to eat, but eating alone is, well, lonely. And costs money. You can order something and bring it home. That might be a little cheaper, but it still costs money. Or you can go to the grocery store, but that will delay eating even longer.

As you climb into your car, you make your decision.

What do you decide?

A Weekend at Munson Manor

Should you greet the newcomers, leaving the professor and detective to start snapping at each other again? Or should you wave politely and invite them to join your tense little circle?

  • Go to the newcomers
  • Wave politely

If you leave, the professor and detective will most likely start snapping at each other again. In the interest of keeping the peace, you wave to the newcomers.

The gray-haired man turns to you with a smile. In direct contrast to Mr. Rollins, the newcomer is smartly dressed in a double-breasted black suit with a matching vest. His perfectly folded pocket square and solid tie are the same royal blue as the dress of the elderly woman beside him. The gathered bodice with a plunging neckline appears to flow freely from her waist. As she turns, you can’t help but wonder whether the pearls around her neck are part of her costume or her own.

The way the woman grasps the man’s arm in both her hands makes you fairly confident the two know each other. When you gesture for them to join you, they slowly make their way toward you while Mr. Rollins returns to the bar.

After the newcomers settle on the unoccupied couch, you turn to them. “Hello. I’m Dr. Poole.”

The woman smiles. “Esther Giles. Nice to meet you.” She gestures to the man beside her. “This is my husband, Andrew.”

The professor glances between them. “Ooh! Are you really married? Like, not just for the weekend.”

Mrs. Giles smirks. “Yes, dear. And what’s your name?”

“Oh. I’m Kai—I mean, Jennie. Professor Jennie Mills.”

“Nice to meet you.” Mrs. Giles sent a pointed look toward Mr. Rollins, but he was too busy glaring out the window to notice.

The professor did, however. Rolling her eyes, she waved a dismissive hand in his direction. “That’s Mr. Rollins. Feel free to ignore him.”

Mr. Rollins grunts, although you cannot tell if it is in annoyance or agreement. Either way, you return your attention to the couple on the couch.

“So, is this your first weekend like this?”

Mr. Giles shakes his head. “This is our third?” He glances at his wife, who nods in confirmation before he turns back to you. “Yes, our third such weekend. We’ve been to others, of course, but this is one of our favorites.”

Professor Mills’s eyes grow wide. “Others? Really? I’ve never heard of this until I booked this one.”

Mrs. Giles nods sagely. “Oh, yes. My favorite was the mystery cruise.”

You frown. “How does that work? I mean, here there’s only a few of us. Aren’t there like thousands of people on a cruise ship?”

“This was a small boat. I think there were twenty of us. It was a cruise along the Mississippi and had a Mark Twain theme. We were all named after his characters. If I remember correctly, Becky Thatcher murdered Mark Twain.”

Professor Mills bounces a little in her seat. “Oh, that sounds so exciting.”

“May I sit here?”

You turn to the unfamiliar voice, a young woman gesturing to the other half of Professor Mills’s couch. Her pale pink dress with the flouncy scoop neck flares from her narrow waist. Although, judging by the way she keeps tugging at it, you wonder if perhaps she would have been more comfortable in jeans.

Professor Mills smiles at the woman. “Of course. I’m Professor Mills. That’s Doc Poole.” She points to you before gesturing to the opposite couch. “And that’s Mr. and Mrs. Giles. They were just telling us about other mystery events they’ve been to. What’s your name?”

The woman bites her lip. “Uh, Elaine. No, wait. Aileen. Sorry. Having trouble remembering everything. But, my name is Aileen Lewis. I’m a secretary at a law firm. How about you?”

“Oh, I’m a history professor.”

Miss Lewis makes a face. “I was never very good at history.” She turns to Mrs. Giles. “What do you do?”

The older woman gestures to her husband. “Mr. Giles worked for the Post Office for over fifty years before retiring last year. I was, am, a homemaker.”

Miss Lewis nods appreciatively. “Wow. Fifty years. That’s a long time.” She turns to you. “You’re a doctor?”

“A physicist.”

“What does that mean? I wasn’t that good at science, either.”

You give a polite laugh. “I study x-rays. Right now, we use them for medicine. But, I’ve been exploring other uses for them. Like maybe we can use them for energy or something.”

“That would be interesting.”

Professor Mills turns to Miss Lewis. “So, what made you decide to come here this weekend?”

“Oh. My cousin came here a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time. She thought I would love it, so she paid for my weekend and everything.”

“Did she come with you?”

Miss Lewis sighs. “No. She couldn’t get the time off work. But I still think this will be fun.”

The butler—what’s his name again?—appears in the doorway. “Sorry to interrupt, but dinner is served.”

As you and your companions get to your feet, he opens the wooden panel in the back of the room to reveal an elegant dining room. Three dark chairs sit on each side of the long table with another at each head. A white cloth covers the table. At each place setting, a small card sits on the plate. Approaching the nearest one, you realize they are your names.

You are sitting at one head of the table. Professor Mills sits to your left. The placard on the right is for Mr. Kline.

Professor Mills takes her seat with a groan. Before you can ask why, Mr. Rollins sits beside her with a smirk. You want to groan, too. Does this mean you will have to deal with their bickering all weekend?

When everyone is seated, the butler gestures to a new person entering the room. Who is it?

Hartfield Chronicles

Hartford Chronicles

Season 5 of Hartfield Chronicles is here!

Melinda loves Pat, but sometimes she wishes he had friends of his own. When he starts spending time with her dance partner, however, Melinda can't help the feelings of jealousy that surface, especially when he starts choosing him over her. Will their relationship survive Pat's new bromance?

Hartfield Chronicles follows the lives of Melinda, Pat, and their friends as they navigate their way through boarding school life. Each episode features two stories, one from Melinda's point of view and one from Pat's, along with an excerpt from Melinda's writing journal. New episodes are published every Friday.

Here's what you missed:

Episode 124
Hartford Chronicles
Episode 125
Hartford Chronicles
Pat and Melinda both visit the infirmary, but for completely different reasons Being sick isn’t fun, for Pat or Melinda

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A Heartbeat Away from You

A Heartbeat Away from You

Fearless Ali—implanted with a pacemaker—sets her sights on a return to the diamond, but her overprotective dad throws her a curveball when he enlists her childhood nemesis to keep her out of the game.

After a daredevil play on the baseball field leads to a four-minute long cardiac arrest, seventeen-year-old Ali Benton is lucky to be alive. Now she wants to make the most of her second chance—and she's not going to let a pesky little pacemaker, or her helicopter dad, slow her down.

Between chairing multiple school clubs and working two jobs to help his single mother pay the bills, Max Delaney has got every second of every day planned. His childhood nemesis, Ali, doesn't figure into any of them. But when her overprotective father offers him cash to keep an eye on her and steer her away from baseball, his plans change.

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      Romanced By The Billionaire

Romanced By The Billionaire
A Fake Relationship-Steamy Enemies To Lovers Series Book

He’s her worst enemy – but she can't walk away.


Harry Roman is a scumbag, and I put just as much energy into hating him as he does into hating me. I don’t care how hot he is, I’ll never fall for his charm. But now I’m forced to live with him, and I’m not sure how long it will be before we’re at each other’s throats…


I've bedded a lot of women, but I've never met any who were like Quinn. She drives me crazy – but as much as I can’t stand her attitude, I’d still like to get my hands on her. And after my late brother’s last request lands me playing dad to his two kids, I have no choice but to go crawling to Quinn for help…

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Can this notorious billionaire playboy and his arch-nemesis see through their differences? And will their mutual contempt spill into something far more steamy and passionate than either of them could have imagined?

Perfect for fans of exhilarating billionaire love affairs, this steamy enemies-turned-lovers romance is a wild ride that juggles family drama with wit, banter, a fake relationship, and a cocky-hilarious billionaire playboy.

      The Clandestine Coroner

The Clandestine Coroner
Fenway Stevenson Mysteries

A secret society. A missing body. A town torn in two.

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When a member of a secret society is found dead in the local temple, Coroner Fenway Stevenson finds herself embroiled in an underground world where no one plays by the rules. The society leader turns hostile, a dead body goes missing, and an embezzlement scheme threatens disaster for the local economy. Can Fenway find allies to uncover the truth before the killer gets away?

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Love Always Wins - Ends 5/1 - Romance April Books - Ends 4/30 - YA
Goodbye Winter - Ends 4/18 - Mystery Spring Forward - Ends 4/22 - Mystery


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