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I’m somewhat better than I’ve been, but I’ve still got a cough and snotty nose. No, I haven’t gone to a doctor, but only because it turns out there’s a shortage of doctors in this town and nobody is taking new patients. We got signed up with a clinic in theory but we still haven’t gotten notification that we’re actually in their system, so…yeah. Anyway. At this point I think I’m going to have healed up before I’m in the system. Whee.

That said, all I want to do today is lie in a lump on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine all afternoon, but I’d have a 7 year old beside me saying, “What? What?” and fake-laughing at things, which wouldn’t really be much fun.

The Wrinkle in Time trailer dropped yesterday and made me cry. Twice. It looks amazing. (“Mommy,” Indy said incredulously, “are you *crying*?” Yes. Yes I was.) Anyway, I haven’t read the book in at least twenty, possibly thirty, years, and I immediately bought a new copy to read it. I didn’t think it would hold up, honestly, but I’ve read the first chapter and so far it’s still amazing.

I also re-read THE HERO AND THE CROWN a couple days ago and for the first time the acid trip battle with Agsded actually made sense to me. I’ve only read the book about forty times, so it’s nice that I eventually became able to really follow that scene.

Also I don’t remember crying through Talat’s rehabilitation before. *wipes eyes*

I made crabapple jelly with the last of LAST year’s crabapples, some cherry jam, pitted more cherries that Dad brought out, and bought some peaches that I need to process today and see if I’ve got enough for jam. I have frozen strawberries, too, and some many-berry mix frozen berries. Jam, glorious jam. :)

There are TWO kittens in the garden. We’re calling them Topsy and Turvy and are feeding them and their mama. I’m waiting for the local rescue people to have a capture cage available, so hopefully that’ll come through soon.

I turned a grant application in last week. I’ve got a book proposal just about ready to submit. I have copy edits to do and need to email my editor about line edits. And…I’d have to look at my to-do list to see what’s next. That’s plenty to get me through the week, though. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’m participating in displacement activities, pretending that organizing a bunch of stuff will get my work done. Obviously I know that’s not how it works, but hey, I’m doing it anyway.

I asked for this perfectly gorgeous blank book for my birthday (and obviously recieved it):

but had no actual specific use for it in mind. I’ve been prodding at habit trackers but basically don’t like any of the digital ones, so I thought what the hell, maybe I’d go old-school analog and try a paper one. I’m hoping it’ll get me a little bit back into the habit of journaling again, too. (I used to be a great journaler, back in the day.)

I think you’ll all agree my first attempt at a habit tracker turned out horribly. The rollerball pen I was using smeared everywhere, and I had no sense of the size I needed to lay the grid out at, and…all kinds of stuff. Live and learn, though, and OH GOSH I GUESS I’LL JUST HAVE TO BUY SOME MICRON PENS JUST FOR JOURNALING WITH O NOES. Probably if I keep it up I’ll eventually figure out a decent grid and everything, but my handwriting will never be magnificently calligraphic or probably even moderately tidy, and I’m just going to have to live with that. Also, I have ink all over my hands. *scowly face*

In other displacement news, I did tackle the Work Thinks To Do list and rendered it somewhat more reasonable. I also had a little talk with myself about the reasons I was procrastinating on some projects, and when we were done having that conversation I told me to get over it and get them done. I hope I listen and obey.

I’m still going to have to…effectively *make* time to do some of the stuff, but I (by which I mean, my husband) solved my laptop hard drive memory problem by suggesting I put my works in project into a directory of their own and sync JUST THAT to Dropbox, instead of my entire Writing Directory. Since I already have a Finished Projects and an Ideas & Inactive Projects folder, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to have a Current Projects folder, and I feel like a moron, but now I’ve got one and the laptop is synced without filling its entire pathetic hard drive. WHICH MEANS (yes, see, there was a point to this paragraph, even though you forgot where it started, didn’t you) that the difficulty of writing in the evenings, post-Indy’s-bedtime, is alleviated; I couldn’t go up to the office because he tends to stay awake even later if somebody’s nearby, but I couldn’t write on my laptop because the Dropbox sync choked the teensy hard drive. So that’s sorted.

Not, of course, that I’m going to do anything as rash as write *tonight*, oh no, that would be madness. But I’m getting myself sorted, bit by bit.

Oh, speaking of getting sorted, I took the newly-fixed secondhand bike out on its first spin today. It’s fine, a little short for me, but certainly rideable. However, after a 15 or 20 minute ride around (maybe not even that long) my nether regions are quite shocked at my behaviour and would like to lodge a protest with the management. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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June 1, 2017: United States Climate Alliance formed with 3 charter members. Within hours, 7 more signed on with 11 more expressing interest.

Sept 2017: The USCA, backed by 37 member states, Puerto Rico, & Washington DC, is seen as the framework for pursuing the future liberals want.

Dec 2017: All but 4 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, & Alaska) have joined the USCA. The member states demand a constitutional convention.

March 2018: Denied a convention by an increasingly authoritarian federal government, the USCA member states unanimously secede. Alaska, Oklahoma and Alabama join them.

July 4, 2018: The New United States of America government–colloquially known as Los Estados Nuevos–is formed with additional new states of Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and Guam. Much of the framework of the original Constitution is retained; amendments introducing, among other things, campaign reform, equal rights, and anti-gerrymandering strictures are passed. Tens of thousands flee to Texas, now an independent country.

March 6, 2024: Texas petitions to join LEN. The New United States grandfathers it in, but as the 53rd, not the 28th, state of the union. “Remember the 28th” becomes both a battle cry for those who wish to restore the old United States, and an acknowledgement by the new government of necessary change within a republic for it to carry forward.

July 4, 2026: On the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Los Estados Nuevos introduce restitution to African and Native Americans. The Navajo Nation submits a petition to be recognized as an independent entity within the LEN, and for the first time in 150 years, the interior boundaries of the United States, new or old, are re-drawn.

July 4, 2028: Climate warming has held at 1.68 degrees Celsius for two years. Over 170 countries are now functioning on 90-95% green energy. Los Estados Nuevos has reached a 76% renewable energy threshold, disappointing compared to China’s 89% and Germany’s long-held 98% standard. The United States Climate Alliance, still a functioning unit within the LEN, vow to meet Germany’s benchmark by 2030….

(The flag:
the colors and the stars & stripes, of course, represent the traditional USA, but the reduction of the stripes is indicative of moving toward the future. the stars are meant to be a kind of sunrise/starburst, intended to indicate Los Estados Nuevos’ dedication to green energy/forward thinking/a new day. the base of the starburst/sun is the original 10 signators of the USCA, with the rays being the later signatories/rest of the states.

it’s hard to make a sunrise out of stars, ironic as that may be. i’m still not really satisfied but GOSH I’VE STAYED UP ALL NIGHT AND I’M GOING TO DAMN BED NOW)

(wait, before i go, and before people ask: i’m actually thinking about revising this timeline some (it’s a little optimistic) and using it as the basis for the near future/climate change/SF thing i’ve been thinking about for so long. i’ve been utterly stymied…well, for a long time, but particularly since nov 9, and this feels…possible, as a direction to go in…)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I am ALMOST DONE with revisions on BEWITCHING BENEDICT, my little Regency that’s the first of the Lovelorn Lads romance series. It’s a charming, funny little comedy of manners that I genuinely believe anybody who likes my stuff will really enjoy, even though it (*looks furitive, whispers*) hasn’t got any fantasy aspects to it.

The Lovelorn Lads are something of a cross between Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and PG Wodehouse conceptually, in that there are seven Lads who are close friends, and the central character amongst them has a valet who is not only adept at, but necessary to, steering them out of bad marriages and into good ones.

I have *rarely* had as much fun writing a first draft as I did with BEWITCHING BENEDICT, and that’s saying something, because I’m one of those writers who loves writing the first draft and thinks the rest of it is necessary tedium. I’m genuinely looking forward to writing more and I hope everybody’s going to like them as much as I do.

Anyway, with the revisions nearly done, and me with the cover art in my hot little hands, I decided I couldn’t stand to wait another minute and had to show it off. The cover is by Cora Graphics, and the book will be out in…soon! O.O (I want to say June, but that’s probably too ambitious. Probably.)

Cover art: Bewitching Benedict
Young Charles Dalton returns from the Peninsular War with the fond desire to settle back into the bachelor life, but his hopes are upended as the dire news comes that Benedict, one of his favored cadre, must marry at once or lose his inheritance. At the same time, Dalton’s socially conscious cousin Claire comes to London for a Season—but Benedict has already mortally insulted her, and Claire casts her lot with another, leaving Dalton’s beleaguered valet to guide them both into good marriages.

BEWITCHING BENEDICT will be available soon!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’m re-reading the Negotiator Trilogy, which I haven’t done since (before) they were published. I’m doing this so I can write KISS OF ANGELS, which is set (at least partially) after the trilogy, and in some ways I have only a vague idea of what the books are about. I mean, obviously I know what they’re about, but…

Some of you may know that the reason I haven’t written more book-length Old Races stories is that writing the Negotiator Trilogy was…awful. Just awful. Like, I had a small nervous breakdown, writing the third one. The Negotiator Trilogy is 375K long; I wrote well over a million words trying to get there. (For reference, the complete Walker Papers series, including “Banshee Cries” and the NO DOMINION collection, is just under 1.1 million words.)

The first book went through six major, massive revisions before publication.

The second book got an edit letter 6 months late that said “please insert a plot into this book” (that’s not really what it said at all, but that was the solution to what it DID say). It had to be torn apart and a plot forcibly inserted, which required throwing out and completely rewriting about 2/3rds of the book…during the time I was supposed to be writing the third book.

Because the revision letter for book 2 was so late, I’d started WRITING the third book, but because book 2 had no plot, and because there was a character I really desperately wanted to introduce in book 3 who it turned out didn’t belong there, I could not get book 3 written. I wrote between 200-300 pages six times before I got it right, and by that time I doubted myself so much I literally brought the manuscript, in tears, to my husband and said “please tell me if this works at all.”

On top of all that, the copy editor didn’t like my writing style and rewrote huge chunks of my sentences, leaving me to struggle with correcting them (this was before copy edits were done electronically) and leaving errors that remain in the books to this day.

It was an *awful* experience, and it’s why I’ve only ever written short stories and novellas in the world again. Even so it took me years to even consider that.

So! I know what happens in the books, but…not very clearly, because so many versions live in my head, and besides that, it’s been ten years. To write KISS OF ANGELS requires some revisiting of the old material.

I have never, ever (due to the reasons ennumerated above) wanted to re-read the Negotiator Trilogy. I’ve been hoping that they’d turn out to be good enough that, a decade after the fact, they could at least draw me in a little and make a re-read a modestly enjoyable task instead of a sisyphean one.

I’ve just finished HEART OF STONE, and it turns out they are!

In fact, there have been sentences and phrases that, if another author had written them, I would have been envious of the skill and wordcraft there! (That’s a real moment of cognitive dissonance, lemme tell you. :))

Nothing in the story has really *surprised* me, but there have been a number of times where I’ve gone, “Oh yes, this is the thing that happens here, I remember that,” and also, “OH I SEE WHAT I DID THERE, MAYBE NOBODY ELSE EVER SAW IT BUT I SEE WHAT I DID THERE I’M SO FUNNY AHAHAHAH” because I’m a great big dork. *laughs*

One of the things that is *particularly* interesting to me is that I had to work very hard to write Romancy Sensual Sexy Reactions stuff in that book, and I felt like, god, SO heavy-handed, SO awkward, SO awful. But re-reading it? It’s really not any of those things. Which is just fascinating. I mean, I was, like, embarrassed at the heavy-handedness of it all, when I wrote it. (Yes, yes, this from the same woman who wrote THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, but that book didn’t go through the evolution that HEART OF STONE did. TQB was (almost) always supposed to be full of smut. :))

Another thing that I kind of knew but which is much more obvious on re-reading is that holy cats, the short stories have different versions–sometimes MUCH different versions–of the backstory mentioned in the book. Like, there’s stuff in the book that’s just plain wrong, if the short stories are to be believed. Which, IMHO as the author, they are. :)

The nice thing is I’m totally okay with that. I figure two things: One, all of these characters are at least hundreds and often thousands upon thousands of years old, and one can hardly expect anybody to remember the truth accurately over that period of time.

Second, and much more importantly, many of these characters are inveterate liars anyway, and should never be assumed to ever be telling you the truth. (I mean, seriously. You wouldn’t trust Janx or Daisani, would you? You *shouldn’t*, anyway.) :)

Anyway, so now I’m on to reading HOUSE OF CARDS, and I’ll blog about that while I’m finishing it! <3 -Catie

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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C.E. Murphy

July 2017

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