I just remembered something embarrassing. *laughs*

My first Usenet/email name/handle/display name was “Storyteller”.

I mean, I was 17, okay? So I can forgive me for being a little dorktastic, but in retrospect it makes me laugh because it’s so…17 and pretentious. Or dreamy-eyed or whatever you want to call it, but as dorky as it was, it was also how I perceived myself, either as I was or as I wanted to be. I wanted to tell stories to people. I’ve always wanted to tell stories to people: my earliest memories of answering “What do you want to be when you grow up?” were with things like “An astronaut/fireman/lawyer/first woman Senator from Alaska* and a writer.” No matter what else I was going to do, I was gonna be a writer, too.

And I did it! I went out into the world and I got published and I’m a writer, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. But while I was doing this job I loved, the industry that supported it…imploded. And it didn’t just implode. It imploded in a way that made it seem like the music industry implosion ten years before had happened in an entirely separate universe.

I mean, the music industry panicked. They introduced DRM and player-specific formats and they started casting away midlist bands that might develop a slow backing in favor of demanding #1 Billboard Chart hits from first-timers and if that didn’t work they could throw them away and try a new band to see if it caught fire. And while they were running in circles, forgetting that they sold content, not CDs or tapes or vinyl, savvy musicians built MySpaces pages and promoted themselves and found audiences that the Big Music Industry Machine wasn’t looking for because those bands and musicians didn’t fit their preconceived notion of the Next Big Thing.

Go through that last paragraph, replace the music industry terms with publishing industry terms, and that’s what’s happened in *my* field.

I *love* my job. I love the people I work with. I love the traditional publishing game, and I don’t ever see myself voluntarily leaving it. But I’m in awe that the publishing industry as a whole has managed to copy the music industry’s errors as if walking in lockstep with them, a decade after the fact.

And I am so, so grateful that part of what *caused* the implosion is another way of getting stories to the readers became available, because–like NO DOMINION–The Redeemer Chronicles didn’t fit anybody’s preconceived notions of a Next Big Thing.

Nobody’s except mine, anyway, and I want to tell that story.

Ten years ago it wouldn’t have been a viable option to even try. Ten years ago, Rosie Ransom would have gotten trunked, because even if I wrote her story, I wouldn’t have had a way to get it to readers. I wouldn’t have the chance to tell people that–okay, yes, of course part of the reason the character is Rosie and that she’s a riveter is because of the iconic Rosie. We all know that.

But my Mom’s name is Rosie, and my grandmother was a riveter. And those things matter to me, just as much as the icon does. More than the icon does, because they are and were real people who obviously helped define who I am. I’ve been asked what makes me write what we now tiresomely call “strong female protagonists” (by which we mean “three dimensional people”), and the question always kind of flabbergasts me. They say write what you know, right? Well, that’s what I know.

I also know that I’m a writer–a storyteller, god help me :)–in an era where the publishing game has changed dramatically, and that I am insanely fortunate to actually be able to talk regularly with many of my readers. I’ve gotten play-by-play agonized responses to books over on Twitter, as readers turn pages and the stories unfold. I’ve gotten emails from people who have been astonished to find aspects of themselves in my books, or who have been inspired to pursue things they might not otherwise have done because of what they’ve read.

Writing–not so much storytelling, perhaps, but writing–is often a lonely pursuit. The incredible thing that is happening here and now is that in so many ways, I am not alone in making books happen. We’re in this together, you and I.

And I cannot possibly thank you all enough. ♥

*I grew up in a very political family, what can I say? :)

**When I say “a teacher how to fly” I don’t mean I meant to be a pilot. No: I would stand on the arm of the couch, announce that I was going to be a teacher how to fly when I grew up, and fling myself into the air in the absolute confidence that one of these times, I was going to soar instead of crashing to the earth. I was going to learn how to *fly*, and then I was by God going to teach everybody else.

Picoreview: Mockingjay Part 1

Picoreview: Mockingjay Part 1

Picoreview: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Pretty good, actually.

I’m not really a fan of the whole split it in two thing, but this worked a lot better for me than, say, Deathly Hallows Part 1 did. I felt pretty strongly that DHP1 could have been neatly tucked into 10 minutes at the start of Part 2 and nothing would have been lost, whereas MJP1 was at least a chance for a lot of emotional resonance. It’s the audience’s chance to see just how badly damaged and PSTD everybody, particularly Katniss, is.

And I gotta say I thought it was the strongest performance I’ve ever seen from Jennifer Lawrence, whom I generally like anyway. She broke my heart repeatedly.

So did Philip Seymour Hoffman, but not because of his performance. It was just that every time he came on screen I went “*damn*” again. Although he did have a few rather lovely moments of his own, actually. Funny moments.

I’m quite looking forward to the final act, and I hope there’s a marathon of the whole shebang somewhere when it’s released. :)

200 backers & climbing!

200 backers & climbing!

The REDEEMER Kickstarter has reached 200 backers and is still climbing! In fact, it’s at 205, actually, and just a whisker under €6k!

It’s got 10 days left (or will by the time most people read this), and I have a dream of reaching 300 backers. It picked up about 25 last Friday alone, so it’s not impossible! But it’s tricky, because reaching new people–

Okay, before I go on, I want to say that what follows is not accusation or frustration or anger or anything. It’s just one of the interesting things not only I, but lots of others, have found about crowdfunding, and it’s one of the things we generally can’t figure out how to squeeze past.

–well, it’s funny. I mean, theoretically reaching new people shouldn’t be all that hard. Between Facebook and Twitter and my blog and G+ and Tumblr and my mailing list (gawd, what a lot of places), I have access, in sheer straight-up numbers, to possibly as many as 10,000 people. A lot of them are probably following me in more than one location, though, so I tend to figure it’s probably more like 3K in actual numbers. So I reckon I’m aiming for about 10% of the audience I can reach with relative ease.

10% doesn’t sound like that much, but it is! It has to be the 10% that hears about the project, is interested in the project, enjoys supporting crowdfunded projects, and is in a position to be *able* to support a crowdfunded project. And probably other variables I’m not able to think of right now. :)

And then from the creator’s point of view, you also want to reach that 10% without driving the other 90% (or even worse, the people you’ve already got!) absolutely bugnuts. Better yet, you want to reach more than 10%! You want to reach ALL of your readers! You want to get them ALL as excited about your project as you are! Without driving anybody bugnuts.

You have no idea how worried creators are that they’re going to drive people bugnuts with their reminders and promotions and all of it. And then the flip side of that is you feel like you’ve been tweetingfacebookingbloggingplussing INCESSANTLY and then three people suddenly say “OMG you’re doing a crowdfund I had no idea!” and run off and pledge and you realize that you’re doing your best and still missing people! So a great many thanks are due to those who *do* see the incessant blogs etc and are patient with them. ♥

And while all of that is going on you’re also trying to figure out how to reach *beyond* your core audience. People signal boosting can make for a great day (like last Friday, with the 25+ new backers! that was so cool!), but there are projects that go viral, and clearly everybody wants *that* to happen. It’s just–how?! Promotion is hard! It’s exciting and interesting, but hard!

(Viral obviously also has to do hugely with emotional appeal on the project’s part–the potato salad guy made people laugh, the Tesla museum made people proud, Amanda Palmer’s stuff makes people feel connected. Believe you me, if I knew what project would touch people like any of those, I’d be running it!)

Anyway, I’m not sure any of this has a lot of profound meaning behind it or anything. Mostly it’s meant to say that I’m having a wonderful time with this project and I’m excited and can’t wait to see it tip over the Magic Funding Number, and that I’ll keep trying to bring backers in and I hope you all can bear with me another ten days! ♥

Recipes: Pecan Pie

Recipes: Pecan Pie

We’re doing American Thanksgiving today and although it’s not on my list of usual suspects, I thought I’d try making a pecan pie. Except I have real issues with most pecan pie, which is generally Far Too Sweet (and I have a massive sweet tooth, so if I’m complaining about something being too sweet it’s weird) and doesn’t taste much of pecans.

So I went and found a no-corn-syrup recipe, but then I lacked some of the ingredients and anyway, I kind of ended up inventing a pecan pie recipe that Ted thought was the best pecan pie he’d ever had.

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
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups pecans, chopped

Toast the pecans in the oven at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until they’re toasted and smell gorgeous. Do not burn!

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the sugars, molasses and water and bring to a low boil (the idea here is just to melt the sugar so it’s not grainy in your pie). Set aside to cool a little while you make your pie crust and the custard mix.

Whisk the eggs, flour, milk, and vanilla together. Whisk the sugar mixture in until thoroughly incorporated. Add the pecans and mix in thoroughly, until they’re entirely coated.

Pour into a prepared 9″ deep dish pie pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325° and bake for at least another 30 minutes. Mine wasn’t done yet then. I turned the heat down even more so the crust wouldn’t burn & baked for another 15 minutes, until a fork poked into it came out clean.

This pie really is all about the pecans. If you have a nice big deep pie dish like I’ve got you can probably increase the custard/sugar mix by about a quarter without risking overflow, but Ted felt vehemently that it was Exactly Right as is. :)


Developing the Redeemer Chronicles

Developing the Redeemer Chronicles

Ted said I oughta do a post about how REDEEMER isn’t Buffy, and I thought that sounded like a cool idea. Also it’s a chance to show you something that happens when you’re trying to promote a project like this, in terms of story development. :)

Admittedly, although the first bedeviled creature Rosie meets in the REDEEMER proposal chapters is a vampire, my idea for these books is really *not* to get stuck in a Vampire Of The Week story but to get caught up with a wide variety of demonic creatures. Buffy’s vampires can’t be cured (save forcing a soul on them), but the whole point of Rosie’s gift is that she *can* save a damned soul–

–but there I was, typing up something like that for a Twitter post, and it came out “Rosie Ransom can redeem a damned soul with a touch–but will she lose her own in the process?”


That, my friends, is the writer brain at work. And now I know that that’s going to be part of the long term story. Buffy’s always been in danger of *dying*. It’s also always been assumed in the Buffyverse that if you die, you go to some kind of Hell–but Rosie’s coming from the other end of the spectrum. In her world, if you die, you assume you’re probably going to some kind of Heaven…except, crap, if her talent leads to damnation…that’s a whole diffn’t kettle of fish. How far can Rosie go before the balance tips? What happens if and when it does?

So now I know why one of the later books will be entitled SALVATION. (Working titles right now: REDEEMER, DEFILER, TEMPTATION, SALVATION, and this could easily be an up to 7 or so book series, so I may need a few more in there…! :))

The truth is there’s a lot going on under the surface for why I want to write these books, too. Foremost–and this is a not-so-secret, at least to me, aspect of it–is that 1945 is a period of major social, political and economic upheaval, which makes it…a perfect lens for looking at today through. *Especially*, to me, the human rights/feminist angle, because Rosie’s part of the first generation of United States women who grow up with the vote. She’s held a job through most of the war. She’s a feminist–and she’s both proud and a little scared of that fact.

And she has friends who wouldn’t regard themselves as such, which is a good source of conflict. She also has–well, she has her Scooby Gang, guys, and one of the things I really want to do is tell a story with an ensemble cast. The Walker Papers are straight-up Joanne’s story, and the Negotiator Trilogy focused on Margrit and Alban. Rosie’s got friends: Irene, Maxine, Hank, Richie. They’re the Scoobies. They have–oh, man, guys, they have so many secrets and I’m kinda dying to tell them but I can’t. :) You can figure out Maxine’s by reading the chapters (but Rosie hasn’t figured it out yet!), and Hank’s will start developing straight off in…chapter four. :)

But even avoiding spoilers, there’s stuff with these characters, things I didn’t necessarily think about when I was writing them initially, that are still reflective of where we are today socially. Hank’s got a physical handicap in a world long before the American Disabilities Act started making the country a little easier for someone with a bad leg to get around in. There’s so much the-way-we-were versus the-way-we-want-to-be that I’d love to be able to quietly highlight in these books, and I’m really looking forward to doing it.

All I need is about 125 more backers. :) The clock is ticking; we’re down to 13 days and counting. I really hope it makes it!

The Redeemer Chronicles Kickstarter: REDEEMER is waiting for you! :)

REDEEMER: Halfway there!

REDEEMER: Halfway there!

Actually, more than halfway there in terms of funding, but today marks 2 weeks into the campaign, with 2 weeks left to go!  In honor of this, I’ve declared it Ask Me A Question day over on Facebook. Because it’s so hard to ask me questions any other time. :)
Still, it’s a fun thing to do (I hope O.O) and an ideal time to quiz a writer. :) So read the chapters, visit the campaign site, ask me questions, and tell your friends to do the same. :)
In the meantime my ears are popping like a goddamn bowl of Rice Krispies. I am sick. of being. sick. :p
Did I say I had to back up AGAIN and delete AGAIN on the frigging Nanowrimo? Maybe. Anyway, I did. It wasn’t quite as bad as I’d feared, only cutting 1K or so instead of 3, but sinc I’m now on the 5th draft and most books take 3 at the most to get to the end, I would really. really. like to get through to the end of the book now. :p
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand on that note if I’m ever going to get to the end of the book I had better stop writing a blog post and go write a book. The writing life, it’s so glamorous…

tollbooth comedy

tollbooth comedy

We were out for a drive the other day and had to go through a toll booth. Ted said to me “Do you have coins,” and I got a 2 euro coin and gave it to him, and he turned and threw it toward the coin basket.

Only he smacked his hand on the closed window and the coin bounced off into the footwell, which pretty well reduced us to hysterical laughter, because it was just so perfectly slapstick. Ted rolled down the window and tossed the coin in and could hardly drive from giggling and was gasping, “I swear I rolled it down! I could have *sworn* I rolled it down,” as we pulled away from the toll booth.

Then, from the back seat, Young Indiana said, “Daddy? Why is my window rolled down?”

Automatic window switches for the win!

things post

things post

I’ve had a constant headache for days. I can’t tell if it’s the lingering effects of this cold (that’s certainly part of it, as my sinuses are not yet clear and my ears are popping and by evening my throat is raw, apparently due to mouth breathing I’m not even aware of) or if it’s my hair, which is at the length that seems to start producing headaches and which I have found myself *particularly* hating during this god-forsaken cold. I should probably not summarily whack it off until the cold, at least, is gone, and I am able to determine whether it’s the hair or the cold causing the headaches.

Work on my Nanowrimo is going very slowly, again in large part thanks to this cold. Also because I’m in a hard stretch of it. Theoretically once I get past this particular bit it’s all downhill from there and it’ll get easier, but since this is the fourth attempt at the middle stretch of the book, I’m disinclined to regard anything about it as likely to follow theory. It’s profoundly unlikely, but I’d *really* like to have a draft of it done by our celebration of American Thanksgiving, which we’re holding on the 22nd. I’d like to spend the last week of November working on MAGIC & MANNERS.

Young Indiana has a rocket toy. For the past two days he’s been landing it on meterorites and comets. ♥ :)

And not to bury the lede, but REDEEMER has passed the halfway mark for funding! And I’ve got a copy editor lined up for the project now, which makes me happy. It’s starting to seem real!

Mikaela’s making me write now, so I’ll stop blogging and actually do my job.

Redeemer milestone!

Redeemer milestone!

EEEE Redeemer has hit 100 €10 backers! EEEE that’s so cool!

Did you see the new reward levels? Hardbacks! Fudge! Random signed CE Murphy books! :) Check out the Redeemer Chronicles Kickstarter! (Actually, check out the sample chapters, too! :))

(Actually, it’s heading for another milestone of 150 backers, which is really cool, too. I have such great readers. ♥!)

In the meantime, I’m watching a bunch of rocket scientists prepare to land a spacecraft on a comet, because I live in the future and I can *do* that. Wow. O.O

Dad dropped by the cafe to say hi today while I was working, and had a cup of coffee, which I said I’d buy for him. He said, “I raised her right,” to the barista on his way out. *laughs*

This morning I tried to set up an email sig for my phone. It came out “debt grim my phone. please expose autocorrect”

I left it like that. :)

Oh, man, speaking of phones. SPEAKING. OF. PHONES. I’d almost talked myself into the Samsung Galaxy 5 (for the value of “talked into” which involves “not actually going to buy unless a very large money frog comes along,” but nevermind that) when the Note 4 FINALLY arrived in the shops. I have so much phone lust. So. Much.

Recommended Reads: Hunter, Tzavelas, Sperring

Recommended Reads: Hunter, Tzavelas, Sperring

The other day on Twitter someone said she’d just finished all the Walker Papers, and now what was she going to read! So I made some suggestions, and not only she but several other people were delighted. So I thought maybe I’d try to make Recommended Reads a regular blog feature (in so far as anything is a regular blog features these days @.@), separate from the Recent Reads I generally try to do.

I figure the point of this isn’t just to list names—I could do that for weeks—but to give a few more in-depth reasons as to why I’m recommending these particular writers. So I’ll start with the three I recommended on Twitter the other day, and we’ll go from there!

Faith Hunter: I specifically recommended Faith to this reader because she’d just finished the Walker Papers and I figured if she liked one 6′ tall, Cherokee-heritage urban fantasy female lead she’d probably like another. It’s shooting close to the mark, and if you’re recommending books to people it’s nice to have one pretty sure fire hit in the list.

I obviously like Faith’s work very much: so much, in fact, that we ended up writing a crossover novella, EASY PICKINGS, which features both Joanne and Faith’s main character Jane. Faith is insanely good at sensory detail—I invariably get hungry for Cajun food reading her books—and she’s got that knack for romance that plays at a level both intriguing and not embarrassing.

Chrysoula Tzavelas: I specifically recommended Soula to this reader because it’s staying within the urban fantasy realm, but straying a little farther away from the Walker Papers: her protagonists are younger, so her books skirt the YA field. She shifts points of view from book to book, making her Senyaza series a much more ensemble cast than the Walker Papers, although it shares some of the more metaphysical qualities (the 3rd book, for example, takes place almost entirely in what Joanne would call the Lower World, although it’s nothing at all like Jo’s Lower World).

Chrysoula uses analogy, metaphor and description beautifully, like, to the level that I was recently enthusing at her about us maybe doing a crossover and then I read some astonishingly beautiful bit of writing in WOLF INTERVAL and was like “except if we do a crossover you will totally show me up as a fake and a charlatan…” :) She also writes terrific stories of female friendship, which is practically unheard of.

Kari Sperring: Kari writes epic fantasy, so I was shooting wider of the mark by recommending her to this reader, but I feel pretty confident that if a reader likes the lyricism of Chrysoula’s writing they’re going to find something to love about Kari’s. I can do, to some degree or another, what Soula and Faith do. Kari’s writing is outside my skill set, and that’s part of why I love it so much.

The pacing of Kari’s writing is very different from the above two writers. Urban fantasy tends to be pretty ruthlessly action-oriented with no space for breathers, but what Kari does is set the reader into a slow current that runs very deep. These aren’t books that throw the stories at you: they unfold the story with beautiful, inexorable strength, and it’s a wonderful journey.