Ten years ago today, I started a “word wars” chat room because I had a book on short deadline and needed people to prod me to get it done. I invited a bunch of my writer friends and hoped it would last six months.

Today is its tenth anniversary. At least half a dozen of the people who started in the war room with me ten years ago are still there, and there are many, many others who joined a little later, or even quite recently, who are in there working daily, encouraging each other, ranting, occasionally–because a fair number of us are professionals–giving master class discussions, and just getting our butts in the chairs and the words on the page. It’s not a critique room, or a workshop space, or any of that. It’s just a work space, and it’s worked really well for us.

We figure at least fifty books have been written in the war room over the past decade. I’ve written twenty-two in there myself. Michelle Sagara’s written at least a dozen. Laura Anne Gilman’s written at least five by her count, and I don’t know how many novellas. Ellen Million, writing as a Zoe Chant, has written a dozen. Robin D. Owens has written I don’t even know how many–six, eight, twelve, somewhere in there. Chrysoula Tzavelas has written, I don’t know, six? Mikaela Lind has written, I don’t know, several, maybe five? Catherine Sharpe’s written at least a couple. Kari Sperring’s written two or three, although maybe only one of them *in* the war room. Hell, that’s over 70 right there, and there are warriors whose book counts I have no clue about at all. It’s very possible there’s been a hundred books written in there over the last ten years.

I honestly never dreamed it would last this long. I’m really proud of our little community of writers. We’re going to have our first real-world meet-up at Dublin 2019, which at least eight of us will be attending, and I cannot WAIT to get a picture of us all together!

I literally only made two posts in March, one relating my February thinks to done and the other, halfway through the month, explaining my otherwise total radio silence. Now, for the March thinks to done post, I explain the REST of the radio silence. I mean, like, man, I even went to movies! But I didn’t picoreview any of them because I was too goddamn busy!

In March I did a much deeper-dive revision on THE CARDINAL RULE than I expected to. I mean, I’d gone in with the vague intention to Honor The Writer I’d Been and make as few changes as possible. That lasted to the beginning of the first sentence, after which it was clear that NOPE NEWP FIXING THAT WHEE ZOOM THROW THAT AWAY AND MAKE THAT BETTER was actually the name of the game. If I’m understanding the ‘compare documents’ thing I did correctly, there are 6727 lines in the manuscript, and nearly 6000 changes. Almost every paragraph has been touched. Hell, almost every *sentence* has been touched. Entire scenes have been added and clunky parts have been removed.

And yet: the changes should be just about completely transparent to you, the reader. Nothing about the book’s plot has changed at all. There’s one word that couldn’t have been in the book in 2005, when the original edition was published, but aside from that one word, I don’t think that, unless you’ve either read the original dozens of times or read the two books side by side, you’ll see the differences. So that took two VERY SOLID WEEKS of work and I confess I’m really, really pleased with the effort. The book is about 4000 words longer than it was, but I cut at least that much, too, so I’d say there’s probably 10K of (completely invisible, I think) new content in it. It was a hell of a project but I’m super happy with it and can’t wait for it to come out TOMORROW for EVERYONE TO READ!!!

Frankly, that would have been enough Thinks To Done in March. That was big work. However, I also:

– prepped it for publication
– did final edits & revisions for STONEMASTER
– prepped IT for publication
– fulfilled the bulk of the STONEMASTER kickstarter
– wrote a 12K word book proposal
– wrote a 10K word book proposal
– wrote about 20 pages of screenplay
– revised a couple of other proposals
– wrote a little 1500 word thing for my patreon
– went as far as I could in restoring my newsletter that i accidentally deleted all of *cries*
– moved MAGIC & MANNERS from one host to another, a thing I’ve been meaning to do for 2+ years
– flew to liverpool to see Captain Marvel with a friend :)
– and a fug-ton of other administrative/daily life kinds of things that I won’t recount here but yeah I did a *lot* in March.

But it’s okay, because now that I’ve gotten through it, April is almost as busy! O.O

If you’ve been watching me on Twitter the past couple weeks, you know I’ve been eyeball deep in what I’ve been referring to as “The Impossible Task”. It wasn’t an impossible task save that I hoped to get it done in about three days and, uh, well, as you see, it’s now two weeks later… :)

Anyway, the Impossible Task was the deep-dive revision of my 2005 “action-adventure romance*” novel, THE CARDINAL RULE, which was originally written under a pseudonym, and languished in relative obscurity for reasons completely beyond my control. I am completely thrilled to finally republish it (and soon, also, its two sequels) as a C.E. Murphy novel. Although they were never terribly well known, they were well-enough liked by those who read them that over the years people never stopped asking whether there would be more Strongbox Chronicles. I’m delighted to tell those readers that yes, there will be new books in this series. Not right away, because I’ve got a lot of other work to do, but there will be more someday!

When CIA Agent Alisha MacAleer’s cover is blown by ex-lover Frank Reichart, she’s forced into a spy game that draws a curtain back on a world she never even suspected existed….

The clandestine Sicarii have hired Brandon Parker, the brilliant, estranged son of Alisha’s handler, to develop an artificial intelligence capable of enforcing their divine right to rule. No one, not even Brandon’s father, imagines he can do it—not until Alisha herself faces one of the AI’s battle drones in combat. It’s suddenly a race between the CIA, the Sicarii, and Alisha’s mercenary ex, to see who can keep—or steal—the AI for themselves.

No matter which way Alisha turns, she faces new dangers and heartbreaking betrayals. In the end, she has no choice but to adhere to the cardinal rule…

Trust no one but yourself.

*I am terrible at industry romance. One of the readers for the original book said, “This is the least romancey romance I have ever read,” and I’m afraid 15 years and a thorough revision have not made it any more romancey. It’s a rollicking good adventure story, though!

The Author’s Preferred Edition of THE CARDINAL RULE will be available soon!

A while ago I’d gone off to work for a few days and when I returned my sister said, “So how’d you do?” and I said, “Well, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to,” and she said, “Do you ever?” and I felt really called out, like, y’know? @.@ So anyway, I’m going to try not to start these Thinks To Done recaps with “I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to” because…do I ever? :}

So the studio didn’t work out and I decided I’d move into the room in the house meant to be my home office. It took about a week, which is a lot of time out of February, and took the room from looking like this:


to this:

with bonus pictures of the Captain’s Chair, because everybody always wants a better look:

and the extremely important creation of my Wonderful Women Wall, which took a lot of the put-the-office-together time:

The big Rogue poster was a gift, nearly 25 years ago, from Ted and our long-time roommate Shaun. The little fairies are from a college friend, and the little dreamcatcher is from my long-time and best-beloved writing partner Sarah. The hard-to-see Beauty and the Beast print (top right next to the orange one) is an Ursula Vernon print, and the dragon below it was a gift from another college friend. Two more friends gave me the blue and green Gemini print beneath the gold mask, and the Ember pencil drawing on the bottom right in the white frame. I drew the orange “Virgo” myself. Since this picture was taken I’ve added a cross-stitched rose, which yet another friend did from a photograph I’d taken.

This wall means a lot to me. ♥ I can’t, at the moment, find its final piece, which was a gift from my parents, and I’m certainly hoping it’s in a box I haven’t delved deeply enough into yet, because I’ll be crushed if it’s gone missing in one of our moves.

I also, as we all know, DELETED MY ENTIRE MAILING LIST (you can sign up for it again (or for the first time) here! :}) and I spent a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent writing (maybe) trying to recover it, or get new signups, or some combination thereof. I’ve still got another push to do for that, in fact, but it reached about 50% of its former carrying capacity in two weeks, thanks to the generous retweets and signal boosting from others, so that’s something, at least. I sang a chorus from “Livin’ On A Prayer” in thanks to the new subscribers, so there’s that incentive to go sign up… :)

I wrote more of my Rosie the Redeemer meets Captain America fic for my Patreon.

I wrote and delivered a book proposal.

I did a fair-sized chunk of revisions on a book that will soon be re-released.

I went to a few movies and wrote a few movie reviews and read a few novellas, which I’m currently loving (I’ll be writing about them in the next newsletter!).

I HIT LEVEL FORTY IN POKEMON GO!!!! I have never before in my life leveled out in a video game, so this is VERY EXCITING TO ME!!! :)

I did some coloring! That was nice. And a reader sent me a huge set of Prismacolor pencils she was never going to use (“they can spark joy somewhere else!” she said, AND THEY DO), and OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG they’re SO PRETTY!!!

I watched all of Umbrella Academy, which I enjoyed very much, and, oh, I did some actual photography with the real camera, which was nice.

Huh. That’s actually a pretty decent month’s work & stuff, isn’t it? Which is what I was hoping doing a Thinks To Done post would help me realize… :)

This is especially for people coming to Dublin 2019:

If an Irish person (or website, for that matter) tells you something is a 10 minute walk, they are almost certainly lying to you.

It’s a well-intentioned lie. They reckon anybody can walk for ten minutes, I think, so if they say it’s ten minutes, well, that sounds grand and not a bother and you can manage that. But if it is actually a ten minute walk, that is a matter of sheer coincidence and should not be used as a measuring stick for other times you’re told something is a ten minute walk.

Usually a ten minute walk is really about 20 minutes. Sometimes it’s 85.

Everything in Dublin is, according to rental ads, no more than a 15 minute walk from city centre or St Stephen’s Green. Everything in Ireland is no more than a comfortable 10 minute walk from a train station.

Honestly, we’d been here for years, trying to figure this and other similar phenomenon out, when it finally dawned on us that broadly speaking, the Irish people, who love a good story, would rather lie to you than disappoint you. (Of course, you’re definitely disappointed when you discover that the ten minute walk is actually an hour’s slog, but then you’re an hour away from them and they don’t have to face your disappointment…)

Anyway, this is perhaps particularly important for people coming to Worldcon who may have disabilities or difficulties navigating distances. If your hotel website says something’s a 10 minute walk, verify that with Google maps, which is much more accurate.

(All of this brought on by the fact that I was looking at a hotel website for a book today and it said it was a 10 minute walk from a location that it is 100% not a 10 minute walk from unless you are a speed-walker and I thought ‘crap, people are not going to know this…’)