Saying Goodbye to 2013

I don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia.  Mind you, the main reason I don’t suffer from it is that normally I’m too spacey to count things or remember what day it is, otherwise I probably would.  This is because, as a writer, I have every superstition ever created, and invent a few new ones every so often, just to keep in practice.  This is the logical result of (at least on the traditional side) my not being able to see direct result from my efforts.  (This is not a criticism of my publisher, it’s the nature of the beast, which reports about a year after the fact, so I don’t know what publicity worked, etc.  Also I have little control over things like covers and distribution which are almost as important as the quality of the writing for how well a book does.)  It is apparently a normal affliction of writers.  Anyway, so I don’t suffer from a morbid fear of the number 13 which is a good thing because this has generally speaking been a horrible year.

It hasn’t been anything big and easy to point to, though, so that I can say “I’m sorry, I caught the gnats, so I’m going to take the rest of the year off and crawl into bed for a three-month sleep.”

Instead, as has happened a couple of times before, this year became a never ending circle of working for a few days, getting too ill to work, rinse, repeat.

Fortunately too, we’ve identified (I think) most of the problems.  One of them has been bedevilling us for seven years or so, and I need to get it permanently fixed, but even partly fixed has shown me that the intake vent in the basement was a bad, bad idea.  Closing that seems to have cut down on the level of respiratory issues, though, of course, after years of irritation my respiratory system is fragile.

We also found that writing weekends away help.  Mind you, this is expensive, and so we had two the whole year.  But I found I can do in two days the work that normally takes me a week or more.  This is proof that part of what is slowing me down (and possibly getting me sick) is doing too much at the same time.

Which led me to examine how much I was doing, and it really is a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I was fully busy with my traditional career (average 4 books a year) then I got the indie stuff which is work of a different kind, at least for now (I’m mostly putting up back list, for now, which only involves some editing, not actual writing.  In fact, what’s holding up what I call the “Darkship cycle” in short stories is the need to rewrite a lot of them since they’re almost 20 years old.)  They involve learning to do covers, learning to format text, the intricacies of the various outlets, etc.  It’s fascinating, and, in a way, fun, but at the same time, it both EATS time and seems to “feed” from the creative side (as do art and cooking.)

Then I’m doing articles for PJM.  I feel awful for having deserted Classical Values this year, but I REALLY couldn’t find the time.  But I do articles for PJM and I started the year by trying to do a blog tour (that collapsed fairly quickly because I JUST couldn’t, but still I must have written around 20k in that.)

Then there are short stories, some for Baen anthologies and some because to be blunt when you get to my point in my career, you owe favors.  So… I was writing five thousand words on a SLOW day before I sit down to “write” real stuff.

The end result was that around September the whole thing shut down and I didn’t feel like writing at all.  My contributions to PJM were almost impossible to keep up (and I ended up with a lot fewer) and even this blog was an effort.

As you know, I’ve made plans to offload a bunch of that work.  There will be a guest post (fixed) once a week, and some weeks there will be two.  Saturdays will be “Blast from the past” posts as well as promo posts, which Free Range Oyster is compiling for me.  Sunday (other than today) will be a link fest of sorts.  That leaves me three posts and two chapters which most of the time I SHOULD be able to finish on Sunday evening.  Or at least it’s doable.  And that will take the pressure off the rest of the week.

Of course, early this coming year, there will a load of unrelated work, because we MUST get this house ready for staging for sale.  We also must find somewhere to rent while selling because (to be blunt) you can’t sell a house with four cats living in it.  I’d like to say that will be easy, but it won’t.  Right after we moved here, I got on the four/six book a year schedule, which means we haven’t even FULLY unpacked, EVER.  So… there’s a ton of stuff to go through/get rid of.  There’s walls to paint.  There’s stuff to decide to put in storage…  It goes on.

And meanwhile I still owe Baen two books — half written — which I need to finish ASAP.  And then I’ve promised fans the sixth musketeer mystery (and some of them are bugging me already.)  And there’s stuff I WANT to do for indie.

It would help if external crisis avoid us this year.  Part of what made 2013 hideous was that we were in uncertainty about Dan’s job for most of it.  As a cashier told me yesterday “These days those of us employed are in living fear of losing our jobs, because we all have friends who’ve been unemployed for years and years.”  That — knock on wood — barring some unforeseen event of the kind that gets us all in trouble, seems to be safe for the next year.  Just the stress off my mind will probably help with health, too.

I’d also prefer — I’d like to say I very much wish — my friends try to stay healthy through 2014.  If you could?  It would be a great favor to me.

And now, I’m going to shut up, go take a shower and work on Through Fire.

I will have a post from one of the people I’m bringing in as permanent rotating guests (aka the raiding party) tomorrow.  I’ll have a “compilation” of links about the year for Tuesday and some sort of “resolutions” (AH) on New Year’s.

The chapters will resume first week of January.  Meanwhile, go pet your cats or something.  Years ending in 13 are very hard on cats (everyone knows that.)  So, go do what you can.


88 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to 2013

  1. Uh, oh. Sarah has been kidnapped by space aliens in mid sentence . . .

    I think you’re still doing too many things, but for you, this could be seen as taking a break.

    Maybe you could combine a few things? Once you’re done with Rogue Magic, instead of starting a new book (unless this has been useful for you) maybe edit one of those “Darkship cycle” shorts and put it up? Or put it up to get responses before you rewrite. You can always save the comments and refer to them whenever you have the time and inclination to edit.

  2. Granted, my brain is in the pre-lunch fog, but did I miss something? Does something come after “Oh, yeah,” or is it a humorous artistic mechanism that I’m ruining by asking?

    Beyond that, I will be cheering and jeering the departure of old man ’13 with a vengeance. It’s not been as turbulent for me as for some, and I’m grateful for that, but it’s been…befuddled. And I’ll be glad to cross the mythical boundary into a New Year! Maybe this is the year I get some benefit from the mythical boundary and the cultural gestalt and group consciousness and resolutions and such. Whatever. I like 4’s, so it’s gotta be better.

  3. On goodreads, we are opening the New Year with The last Unicorn.

    and for February, you can now nominate a theme. (We’ve done Classic Fantasy and Classic SF thus far.)

  4. My mother taught me a valuable tool that I hated as a kid: if it hasn’t been unpacked in two moves, you’ll only miss it if you open the box to see what it is… so throw out the box unopened.

    Calmer Half had his heart attack as he finished moving into a new place, and another move later, he’s now unboxing and sorting. It’s painfully alternating between “why did I box up the junk mail and keep it for two moves?” And “I loved this gadget! I haven’t needed it in years, but I don’t want to get rid of it!”

    1. well, I KNOW I’m missing about half my research books and have to assume they’re boxed somewhere. I’ve replaced about a third of the missing ones, but not all. So, boxes still need opening.

      1. I understand; I’ve been telling Calmer Half that any book he’d end up buying again should be kept. The spare linens, the rug backers for the rugs we haven’t put out, even the rugs themselves, but not the peter capstick books, eh?

              1. Actually, that’s “Death in the Long Grass”, followed by “Death in the Dark Continent” and “Death in the Silent Places”. He’s also got one called “Safari” which was sort of a travel guide to conducting a big game safari at the time he wrote it. I expect a lot of the info in it is somewhat out of date, but it’s been a while since I read it.

              2. Death in the Long Grass is an excellent place to start. Calmer Half knew Peter Capstick when the gentleman lived in Newlands (a Capetown suburb), and has the highest respect for him. (And a few stories not included in the books, related over a beer or at the range.)

              3. Oh yes, start with “Death in the Long Grass.” You’ll never look at outhouses quite the same way after you read it. And if you can find them, and like hunting and wildlife stories, I recommend Jim Corbett’s books about his time as a park ranger in India.

                1. Well, I’m a little late but I’ll fifth Death in the Long Grass. If you think Capstick’s life was interesting you might check out Sasha Siemel. The only book of his I have is Tigrero! and it is a great read. I would recommend getting it at the library if at all possible however, I found mine on the Salvation Army shelf for $.50, but it was valued at $400, so a little bit steep to pick up for a pleasure read.

                  1. You guys are awesome! I thought I’d never heard of him, but a book on the practical aspects of a safari sound like something I ought to have . . . so off I go to Amazon . . . The Maneaters of Tsavo! I loved that book when I was a teenager! And that one, and . . .

                    I love refinding an old favorite author!

        1. I met Peter Capstick in the 1980’s through a mutual friend, when he was living in Cape Town. Interesting man – one of the few born raconteurs I’ve had the privilege of meeting. (The late George McDonald Fraser is probably the best raconteur of them all among modern authors.) Peter introduced me to ‘mini-sniping’, which is one of the most challenging shooting sports I’ve ever encountered. If you’re interested, see:

          1. Part of the challenge being to afford and set up those fine air rifles. Not least because their import seems even more haphazard these days.

  5. I suspect the uncertainty in the air is affecting (afflicting?) a lot of people. I know that’s easily 60% of what was eating me this fall, and as you say, Sarah, even those with full-time jobs are looking over their shoulders. There’s a sense too of “Its going to be bad, but how bad?”

    Ah well, perhaps next year will be less of a flood. I mean, after all, we know that there will be 1) far too many political commercials (in the US), 2) there will be a scandal with the Olympics, 3) a politician will misbehave, 4) a pop-culture person will misbehave, and 5) the Middle East will be the Middle East. That cuts down on the macro-scale uncertainty at least. *warped grin*

  6. Moving (and getting ready to move) is very very interesting. [Sad Smile]

    Right now I’m planning (cross fingers) to be moved out of the house into my new apartment by Jan 6th.

    Of course, the REAL FUN will be deciding to do with the stuff (of my parents) that I’m not keeping.

    By the way, take care of yourself Sarah. We don’t want to have to “break in” a new author. [Very Big Grin]

    1. It is my version of the title, too.

      Well, in my dream world, I start making 500 a month from the indie stuff, which would allow us probably (carefully husbanded) two writing weekends a month. That would also mean Dan would get his space operas out finally.

          1. Well, there’s only so much time you can spend not writing. Might as well get some writing done in the interims.

            1. I have been given to understand by certain publications of impeccably salacious repute that a real man should be able to resist writing for enormous amounts of time. Why, I myself have avoided writing at least six novels this year!

          2. Wasn’t it Lazarus Long who observed that there’s only so much time even the most lecherous can spend “engaged” so to speak?

      1. So, if we buy you an “Insane” level sponsorship, are we allowed to specify that it be devoted to writing and canoodling weekends, plus a case of halfway decent port?


  7. We have been having inversions here off and on (every other day) and I can tell the difference. When my sinuses feels like someone is stomping on them, I just can’t write. I have been crocheting and knitting instead. I need to write. *sigh You have my sympathies. Good luck and good health in the new year.

        1. yeah and in L.A. inversions are constant… and right now we’re seeing around thirty degrees difference between night and day…

          1. Carson City Nevada here – usually the wind blows them out– and yes the temps are pretty low —

            Do you live outside LA? I used to go to San Diego for Xerox training. The techs didn’t like to go into LA because of a lot of the problems there (traffic, people, gangs). That was in the 90s…

  8. Sarah I do have leftover used boxes from my last move and if you want to rent something small you can leave your boxed books in my basement I have 2 unused bedrooms and a mainly unused living area in my basement. The basement is furnished so the boxes will be kept dry.dry.

    1. We are getting rid of most of my books, except the collectible/signed (a small lot, mostly Baen) and the research, which WILL have to be accessible and probably out wherever we rent.

  9. 2013 was a good year for us because we are no longer dog-less. Work was incredibly exhausting in 2013. We are back from 4 months in Portland, OR, and it feels like moving back home. We haven’t finished unpacking yet. We had a quiet restful Christmas. We’ll go to Montgomery hopefully next year.

    We are planning to go to the hill country for our anniversary next year. We will have a mini Hun meetup(4 people so far.).

  10. My spouse was laid off this year, asked to stay on a little longer to close down the project, then found a new local job at exactly the last minute to avoid actually not having work. Jobs in his field in this geographic area are scarce; most of the time, jobs in his field require a long distance move. I decided to take the attitude that we WOULD be moving, so I poured energy I didn’t have into move prep on the house. Oh, one more wrinkle — both our children are trying to launch into college, so moving away would not help at all for them; two years from now, I would expect they would be fine, but not this year. During all the turmoil, it felt like a horror theme park roller coaster ride; now in the aftermath, it feels like I was ill to death’s brink and am slowly blinking in the muted sunlight and beginning to recover my strnegth. So yah, it was a tough year. May 2014 be better for all the good Lord’s creatures.

    1. Yep. About same here, if you count in that older boy took about a year worth of classes in one semester, which meant not only no help around the house, but I kept having to figure out where he’d last seen his head (you know what I mean.) Younger boy added second major. Older boy applying to medschool (which is an insanely convoluted process.) Now we wait to see if he’ll be accepted, which will mean dislocation. Want to get our investment out of this house, but … we’ll see.

  11. I am a triskadekaphile! I figure that the good luck that all those ‘phobes are ignoring has to go somewhere, so why not to me who invites it? No lottery wins so far, but nothing really horrible has ever happened to me on Friday the 13th, and this 13 year of the century has been ok. Not super bad, not super good.

    Good luck and good health to Sarah, her family and all of the Horde who see this.

  12. I’ll have to go counter to the general trend.

    KDP assures me that I published six books and one short story this year. Book number seven ought to go live tomorrow.

    I know I lolly-gagged and delayed the last few steps on some, but for a year that I felt like I’d accomplished very little, that’s a pretty good string of fishies I seem to have landed. Guess I ought to stop calling this a blah year.

      1. Yeah, early in the year I finally put up Dark Lady and Growing up Magic. And under my pen name “Zoey Ivers” for YA adventures, The Barton Street Gym and Chicago. Then in August, Young Warriors. Another “Zoey” with Demi God. And now, sneaking in under the wire, God of Assassins.

  13. “Triskaidekaphobia?” The episode where Kirk’s caged with that blond in the skimpy silver suit? What’s scary about that?

  14. Any year that my husband spends more than half of it away is a bad one! But, we did get our new son, the girls grew in knowledge and orneryness, etc…….

  15. Going to do my best to stay healthy in ’14. I have too damn much to do and have little to show for ’13. :/

    Start of ’14 doesn’t look shiny. Sister in law’s pneumonia was either misdiagnosed and is really bronchitis or has developed into it. She generously shared with us at Christmas and my mom is hacking her lungs out in the next room and I am fighting it off one cup of tea at a time.

    But, yeah. I *am* trying. You stay well next year too and we’ll both be more at ease. :B

      1. Oh, yes. Or a cup of boiling water to open up the airways and hydrate you, a spoonful of honey to soothe the throat, a splash of lemon juice, and a shot of whiskey to make you feel better and sleep easier, all mixed together… mmmm….

      2. They really are. I finally managed to bully my parents into drinking some a few hours ago. Ranted at them for a good ten minutes about how I squeezed the lemons for them and all they had to do was put the toddies together when they were ready and nooooo…! etc. So dad relented and made them both one and I didn’t hear a cough out of them the last hour or so before they went to bed. Might not have heard it, but certainly no hacking. 😡 So I’ll probably make myself one later just to be on the safe side.

  16. 2013 has been another year in which my Calmer Half didn’t die, so I find it’s a good year. (He’s only done it once, but one heart attack was one too many for my peace of mind.) I’m still employed, Calmer Half’s indie publishing is doing well, and we are owned by a cat again. May have been a really rough ride, but overall, it’s been an uphill climb.

    Still wish I’d flown more, and lost fewer good friends and friendly acquaintances to the grave, gone on more road trips and had fewer arguments, but I’ll take what I can get. Next year should be better, ’cause I’m going to make it so.

  17. Financial stress has been building on me for the past 3 years, and it has finally snapped. Not in a good way, but perhaps it will free me up to do more, anyway. I’ve said before that I’m going to lose the house because of the changes in health insurance. Now, I have come to realize that, after January, I won’t be able to pay the mortgage any more. We should be able to sell the house for enough to pay off the mortgage, plus having a few thousand left after the Real Estate commissions are paid, *IF* we can finish up the repairs and cleaning that need to be done first. However, those will take a few months, yet, and we still want younger son to stay in his current school until he graduates. I really don’t know what the mortgage company’s reaction will be – I have heard of some interfering with people trying to sell their houses, if they are behind on their payments.

    1. Oh, and my father just passed away, this afternoon, at the age of 90, so don’t worry if I don’t show up here for a few days or a week or so.

      If that seems like a low-key mention of such a thing: I’ve already gone through all the emotional stuff in my head over the past several months, as he got weaker, so it wasn’t as much a traumatic event for me as it often is for many people.

      1. My sympathies and understanding. Having aging parents myself it is with mixed feelings one approaches their loss. I suspect in the immediate aftermath it will be less troubling than in the years to come, when you are past the loss and dealing with the absence.

    2. A mortgage company cannot legally interfere with a sale that pays off their lien. They can only be troublesome if you are trying to get them to agree to a short sale.

      If you get to that point, get a real estate agent experienced in short sales in your area.

      If you are not behind today, you have plenty of time.

  18. Somewhat on a tangent, I petted one of my cats for the first time the other day. Well petted might be an overstatement, but I touched him on the head for a stroke while he was eating food I had put out, before he backed off.

  19. Rotating guests??? Like those racks of meat sausages I see offered up at C.M.O.T. Dibbler’s Kwikee-Mart? I have me doubts about that being a good idea, m’dear, but if you serve up the mystery meat I’ll tray a bite.

    As for minding my health, just because you ask this will NOT be the year I take up learning to ski-jump (or to ski, for that matter) and shall instead take up tamer recreational pursuits. Anybody know anything about this Minoan Bull-Dancing I been hearing ’bout? Do they do it to a polka or a bossa-nova beat?

    1. They do something similar in Pamplona, I understand.
      I’m pretty sure the Spaniards do not regularly call cows “Bossy” like it might be traditional here in the US, but I’m certain when she heads off in her own direction they are sure to shout, “NO, ¡No Va!” and I am sure they will polk-a you if they are not polled.
      These are, of course, extremely weak puns, and I can only hope to redeem myself by suggesting that the best manner in which to poll cows is to call them by phone during the dining hour when you are sure to catch them at home.

      1. Well played, sir. I rather fear my punster has been preoccupied since hearing Jingle Bells as background music and is now working with vikings singing “What fun it is to ride and sing. A slaying song tonight. …”

  20. I am not triskaidekaphobic, but I was not pleased with this last year. I feel next year will be better.

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