Ted’s reading this book about learning stuff, and the 10,000 hour thing. The author kinda posits that the first 2K hours are foundational, the rest are mastery. I’m generalizing wildly abt the author’s stance here bc, like, I haven’t read it, BUT:

I think that’s a friggin intriguing place to start. Like. Like. I’m sure that over the course of my life I’ve spent somewhere between 5-600 hours studying Spanish. Definitely not more, maybe not even more than 500. But we’ll give me the 600, because what the hell, why not. And I’d say I’ve probably spent maybe 12-1500 hours ACTIVELY drawing, studying drawing, etc. Doing that specific kind of art.

My Spanish is rudimentary. My art skills are such that I’ve said for decades that I’m good enough to see how good I COULD be with practice/how good I’m not.

But looking at both those things from a “2k hours is foundational” viewpoint…I can 100% see how, although they’re very different THINGS, that premise lines up. My art skills are legit 100% better than my Spanish skills. If you want to add writing, which I’ve obviously spent FAR MORE than 10K hours doing, then it maps even farther: my writing skills are FAR BEYOND 1000% better than my drawing skills.

And this, this is the bit that’s blowing me away, I think:

2000 hours is not NEARLY as overwhelming an amount of time to contemplate as 10K hours. 2K hours is one work year.

Obviously there is zero chance I’m going to spend 8 hours a day 50 weeks a year working on Spanish or art, but 2K hours as a foundation feels achievable. And it seems to me that if you put in 2K hours with a certain degree of regularity, you’ve got a certain level of commitment that might make working toward 10K hours more likely.

& I mean, let’s face it: if I spent another 4-600 hours on art, I’d really be quite good. WHETHER I’d do that is another question, perhaps even one not worth contemplating, but it’s certainly less intimidating than considering 8600 hours to reach any sort of level of competency. Another 1500 hours of Spanish would probably land me in “not embarrassed to try speaking it” territory, if not genuine fluency.

So this is a thing I gotta sit with a bit. Or rather…work with, a bit, I think. I’m really intrigued. Hmm!

If you’re just here for the links, here you go: amazon (affiliate link) || barnes & noble || apple || kobo

If you’re here for incoherent squealing on the part of the author, JUST LOOK AT THIS COVER ZOOOMMMMGGGGG!!@!!@!@!E

I wrote this book several years ago, but felt it kind of slid under the radar because it was a commissioned tie-in work (you don’t need to know anything about the world it came from for it to work, though!), and one of the things I’ve wanted to do for ages was re-cover it and re-release it. And now I get to, and I’m SO THRILLED with the cover art!!! it’s SO PULPY! it’s SO COOL! It’s SO AMAZING AND WONDERFUL!!! I put my cover artist through the wringer on this one, but she really came through and I’m SO HAPPY!!!!!


A monster—a mobster—a lover.

Le Monstre aux Yeux Verts, the Green-Eyed Monster, holds Paris under his thumb, but young Amelia Stone vows to free her parents from his influence at any cost. Born to carry the spirit of justice through a new century, she risks everything—even the love of her family’s mysterious Benefactor—to right the wrongs the Green-Eyed Monster has wrought…and in one crumbling moment, she both succeeds, and loses everything…

But when rumor of all-too-familiar danger returns, Amelia fears her long-ago successes were failures after all. A new phantom haunts Josephine Baker, star of the Parisian opera house, and Amelia is determined that Josephine won’t suffer the same losses her own family did many years ago. In order to keep the singer safe, Amelia must face her own regrets, reckon with her oldest enemy…and once more find herself in love’s throes.

Because Hell may have no fury like devotion denied…but by Amelia’s hand, justice will be done.

I came late to pulp fiction, having started to read the John Carter of Mars books shortly before the Disney film came out. There’s a magnificent moment in A PRINCESS OF MARS where John, having learned the Martians are telepathic, has a line to the effect of, “Over the next several days, I, too, developed my telepathic powers,” and, like…then he’s just telepathic after that, I guess! Because why not!

I loved it so much. The total lack of worldbuilding. You just can’t do that in today’s fiction. Just, like, “Welp! Here we are! Let’s go, then!”

So I just really, REALLY wanted to write a pulp novel, and also knew I’d never actually really get around to it, BUT THEN the opportunity TO write one was offered me, and…next thing I knew, I had Amelia Stone, Spirit of Justice, a bisexual badass Black woman in 1930s Paris, falling in love, fighting monsters, and defeating Nazis.

Honestly, in today’s world, who could want more?

I don’t have print editions of the new version of the book yet, but will shortly. In the meantime, here are the links for the ebooks, again! <3 :) linky link links: amazon (affiliate link) || barnes & noble || apple || kobo

Feel free to share and/or use/amend it for your own purposes.

***

To the Irish Government:

I have watched the ‘return to school’ plans develop over the past week with increasing horror and dismay and am now writing to ask you what the actual fuck the government thinks it’s doing.

The HSE’s guidelines indicate a 2-meter, masked distance between individuals is the minimum safe requirement, and that participants in indoors events are to be limited.

Evidence from the United States (see the Georgia overnight camp breakout) indicates that children are not immune to either acquiring or passing on Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases in Ireland are on the rise with some 10% of those cases coming from untraceable sources.

Pubs, where social distancing is difficult to enforce, are not opening.

What part of any of these facts could possibly indicate to the government that an unmasked, 1-meter-distant, 30+ person classroom/hundreds in a building, return to school is in any way safe?

How on earth can this government possibly take the stance that all children must return to school unless they themselves are extremely high risk, regardless of how high risk the people they live with are? How dare you potentially put a child in a situation where they might bring home a disease that could kill their mother? Their father? Their beloved grandparents? How *dare* you?

Did you, as a child, experience the death of a classmate? A teacher? Because I did. Seven times. Do you want to know their names? Do you want to know their ages? Do you want to know the way they died? Because I can tell you. I can tell you, because these things leave scars that last forever.

None of them were in circumstances I could possibly affect. Right now, though, we *can* affect them. How dare you force children into such dangerous scenarios, or force their parents to withdraw them from school with no guarantee of a school place in a post-Covid, vaccinated world? How dare you put parents in a position of having to choose between their children’s safety or their long-term education?

How *dare* you?

How dare you dismiss the health and well-being of the Irish people in order to create a pretense of things being Back To Normal?

Things are not normal. They *will* not be normal until there is a widely-disseminated vaccine. This government must recognize that fact and adapt to it rather than try to force a veneer of normalcy over a world that is wrestling with an unprecedented disease playing out in an unprecedented social structure.

Forcing children back to school will kill people. Those deaths will be on your hands. Even if you don’t feel it, the children who bring home disease to their families will. How dare you even risk the possibility that a child might have to live with that guilt for the rest of their lives? How dare you?

And even if our children come through it with no deaths–and they won’t–we don’t yet know all the ramifications of this disease in the long term. What we do know is already horrific. How dare you risk our children on your convenience? On the conviction that the economy must carry on as before? It needn’t.

A government’s job is to safeguard its people and to provide services that individuals cannot easily provide to themselves. It is the duty of this government to pay people to stay home so they and their children are not at risk, until science and medical technology have caught up to the leading edge of this horrible disease, surpassed it, and overcome it.

How dare you behave as if anything else could be of any importance?

Do your goddamn jobs. Put the health and well-being of the Irish people first and foremost, beyond any other consideration, and don’t force parents into impossible choices.

Furiously,
Catherine E Murphy

My husband is starting a new job on Tuesday (a promotion! Yay!), & upon hearing he was leaving, his coworkers offered the appropriate congratulations and speeches of woe, the latter of which included, “b..b..but…but…pecan pie…???”

So I’m making them a pecan pie, & have finally perfected my process for the recipe I invented several years ago. It is as follows, although it should be noted that I tend to make deep-dish pies, and for your average 9″ pie this should probably be cut in half. Or you should make two. Also an excellent option. :)

CATIE’S PECAN PIE
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/8 cup water
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups pecans, chopped

First off, spray a measuring spoon with cooking spray or something so the molasses will come out of it easily, otherwise you’ll be here all day. Don’t worry about being too exact with it, though. If it’s two tablespoons, ain’t nobody gonna cry. After some experimenting on my end, though, be a bit cautious in going too far over that, because molasses is a very strong flavor and can get a little sharp in the background of the pie.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan with the sugars, molasses, and water. Bring it to a low boil; we’re just trying to make sure the sugars aren’t crystallized in your custard. Okay? Okay. Good.

Put the pan aside to cool a little while while you make your crust & custard. And look. The custard? What I’m gonna describe is ever so slightly finicky. I know, I know, does it REALLY matter? But it does, because this keeps the flour from lumping. So trust me, okay? Okay. Good.

Put the flour in a medium-small bowl. Add the milk & vanilla. Whisk these 3 ingredients into a paste. It’ll only take a minute and the vanilla will make it smell good.

Break one egg in. Whisk it in completely before doing the next, and the next, and the next, and the last.

I know, I know. Does it REALLY matter? I’ve made this pie a dozen times. Tonight’s custard turned out better than any other I’ve done, because I used this process. Trust me. Trust me.

I’m assuming you already chopped your pecans up. If you didn’t, go ahead and do that. Or don’t, as you prefer. I actually like to chop about, IDK, 2/3rds of them? And then leave the rest verging on whole, for Big Chunks Of Pecan. Om nom nom.

Make your pie crust (go on, it’s not that scary. Give it a try).

Then pour the warm sugar mix into the custard, and listen, amis. Again, this is sort of a pain, but it’s the Right Thing To Do: drizzle it in while whisking briskly.

Obviously it takes longer that way, sure, of course it does. But you don’t want to cook the egg with the warm sugar mix, so go slowly. We’re only talking 2-3 minutes anyway, not, like, an hour. Enjoy the scent, bc it’s gonna smell SO GOOD. All that butter & molasses. Mmmm.

Then pour your pecans in & mix until they’re thoroughly covered. Do not, for the love of heaven, whisk them in. I keep doing that and then there’s goddamn pecans stuck in the goddamn whisk and nobody’s happy. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Okay? Okay. Good.

Oh, shit, I told you to preheat the oven, right? Right, go back up to the top and preheat it. 425°F, A Hot Oven. Et voila, by the time you get this far, your oven is preheated. Great.

Pour your pecan custard into the pie shell & put it in the oven. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

REDUCE THE HEAT to 325°F. Bake for at least another 30 minutes, probably more like 45, until a fork inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool. Eat with whipped cream or ice cream, as you like it.

Ted says this is the best pecan pie he’s ever had. I hope it’s the best you’ve ever had, too.

I’ve had A Thought, and tweeted about it some, and now I’m going to discuss it with you!

My Thought was about how much transparency readers want. And…see, on one hand, writers feel like they’re talking about this stuff ALL THE TIME, and it’s information we all know, so it’s sort of hard to tell where the line between “I have told you this one thousand times and you are bored with it” and “this is completely new information to me!” lies. :)

And then the other reason we’re never sure how much we should talk about it is because rolling this information out in numbers can sort of feel like it’s…IDK. Attempting to lay on a guilt trip, or something, which is honestly not the goal! Because, like…there are always reasons people aren’t gonna buy a book! It’s not their genre! They don’t have any spare money right now! They already have a copy! There’s a million reasons! So talking about this is never meant to make people feel badly for not buying a book right now! Okay? Okay! :)

So let’s talk about numbers. Newsletter numbers, specifically, because the people who have chosen to be on my newsletter are my captive audience, and presumably are the most likely to buy any given book. (Join my newsletter! :))

Right now I have about 1630 newsletter subscribers, and in any given month, about 100 people—7% of the subscribers—buy the book I’m promoting that month. That’s pretty reliable.

Now, mostly I count my metrics by Amazon, because like it or lump it, they represent the vast majority of my sales (80 out of those 100 sales mentioned above are Amazon, so it’s literally 4 in 5, except when it’s more than 4 in 5. :)). So 5% of subscribers buy the Project Of The Month on Amazon in any given month.

Right now I’m gonna run the numbers for the release earlier this month, TIMBER WOLF, which is an Amazon-only thing. It’s done really really well.

I’d love to know how many direct sales you think “really really well” means. In fact, I’d like you to tell me in comments, but since I can’t pause this conversation and get that information from you right now, so I’m gonna tell you outright. :) In the 2 weeks since its release, I’ve had 1123 direct sales on TIMBER WOLF.

That’s 4 times the usual number of sales I have in a month. If it’s been a SPECTACULARLY good month, it’s only 3x my number of usual sales; if it’s a particularly BAD month, it’s 6x my usual number of sales, but on average, it’s 4x.

TIMBER WOLF hit #88 in Amazon’s “Bestseller paid sale” ranks at its peak, when it had sold about, mmm, 600 copies? So where I’m going with this is that it takes shockingly few sales, really, to make a ridiculous amount of difference in visibility for a book’s rankings, and those rankings are what show a book to readers I don’t have immediate reliable access to (ie, people who are not on my newsletter mailing list!).

Like, if 10% of my newsletter subscribers buy TIMBER WOLF, it’d impact my Amazon ratings significantly. If 30% did, even now, 2 weeks after release, I might hit the top 50 rankings. 60% might push it to #1, and 75% almost certainly would. 75% sell-through from my mailing list (which, let’s be honest, would be unheard-of levels of engagement for almost ANY mailing list) would double the # of sales since it went live.

So what I was asking on Twitter was, like: here are the numbers. Is knowing that helpful or interesting to you at all? Is that something you’d like me to talk about?