November used to be my favorite month, because it was the month of my birth and because it was the time the lights went up for Christmas in the city of Porto and also because it was cold but not really cold, so the sort of enjoyable cold that makes it pleasurable to curl up by the wood stove with a cat or three. (Grandma had a big armchair by the stove, and I read in it and the cats slept on me.)

The lights were important because dad used to take me out to the city for a whole day.  We usually went and watched some sports event.  Didn’t matter which, because what mattered was I got to be daddy’s girl for the whole day.  And then we’d eat out, and then we’d walk around the city watching the workmen put up lights.  This was also when street vendors first set up for the holidays, and dad used to get me a toy, which was a big thing because I’d been trained early not to ask to be bought things.  Mind you, the toy was on the level of a macdonald’s toy, but its selection and decision on what to buy made it lots of fun.  The one I remember was a little plastic chicken that laid plastic eggs when you pressed on its back.

Then as night fell, dad would get me a rolled-newspaper-cone of chestnuts and we’d walk around seeing the lights light up.  And then we came home on the double-decker bus and unless it was really full, we sat upstairs, on the seat over the driver so I could pretend to be driving.  Sometimes dad got me chocolate coins or chocolate cigarettes but I had to be careful and not get any on my clothes, because chocolate was one of the things mom was sure I was allergic to.  (Yes, she had some excuse, but also was not very scientific in her observations.)

I wonder if dad had or has any idea how important and magical that annual day out was for me, magical enough that I still warm myself at the memory almost half a century later.

I find my kids have this sort of magical memories, sometimes from things I did just because it was convenient, like take them for high tea after school because Dan was working out of town and neither of them liked the same foods, so cooking dinner was a pain and it was easier to take them for high tea (the shop was on the way from from school) and then give them an egg or hotdog for dinner.  (Instead of cooking three separate dinners.)

Today I start NaNoWrimo to finish Through Fire and Darkship Revolution and — if it works out — to write To The Dragons in full. That way I can send it to Toni while I’m in Portugal for the holidays.  Yes, it’s insane, but one year I wrote two novels — The Musketeer’s Seamstress (might be apprentice) and Plain Jane — so it should technically be possible.

A bad start though.  I woke late because I had disturbed dreams all night of being woven into a wicker mannequin of the sort you use for dresses. I think because my asthma has made a come back in the night.  So I shall use the pump and caffeinate.

And meanwhile you might want to read Amanda Green taking down the Telegraph (it got jealous of the attention the Guardian gets from us and decided to be stupid about Amazon) on Book Plug Friday.

Speaking of Book Plugs, I hope you’re doing better than I because October was dismal.  Mind you, I have nothing new up.  But I’ve heard this complaint enough that I wonder if Amazon saw this downward trend in indie sales, too and hence created KU.  If so, they really need to make it independent of your exclusive status and somehow pay more to the authors, because I don’t think they’re getting enough people in it or enough quality.  The books I’ve got from it tend to be very mixed. At any rate, tying things up in the Kindle exclusive is a bad idea.  Bezos doesn’t need it to beat the competition; all it does is limit the offerings.

Oh, and if you read nothing else this November, go read this John C. Wright gift to his fans.  And then tip him or something, because in a just world this story would win ALL the awards.

And now I go caffeinate.  And write.


94 responses to “November

  1. Happy birthday, whatever day it is (mine is this month, too)

  2. Thanks! For linking to John C. Wright’s gift to his fans. And, it should!

  3. November. The month when we celebrate the thwarting of terrorist by religious fundamentalists – i.e. Guido Fawkes.

    An interesting alternate history would be to figure out what would have happened if he’d succeeded.

  4. You have my birthday wishes, too.

  5. I don’t know about KDP sales (still working on getting a novel ready for it — it’s taking a lot more work than I anticipated when I got the bright idea to dust off one of the novels Baen rejected and put it up), but I do know that Amazon Marketplace sales have been way down for me all October. I’m hoping things start recovering as we move into the holidays, or we are going to be in a world of hurt.

    Amazon has its problems, including the occasional arbitrary and capricious enforcement of policy, but on the whole, it’s been good to us. This December we’ll be celebrating ten years as Marketplace merchants, and during the lean years of 2008-2010 when we’d dropped most of our literary sf cons as money-losers but hadn’t discovered anime cons yet, our Marketplace sales really pulled us through. So I simply can’t see Amazon as the Big Bad it’s being painted as.

    • marketplace is sucking for me too.

      • What kind of things are you selling on Marketplace? We started in 2004 with our book inventory from our sf-convention bookselling business, and later expanded to add the toys and Hallmark ornaments.

        Back in 2006 and 2007, we could count on selling at least one item every day, sometimes two or three. During the Christmas season I’d have so much stuff to ship every day that I’d have to use a laundry basket to carry everything. After the 2008 market crash, we had a noticeable downtick in the level of sales, but they stayed steady. We might have times when we’d go a day or two between sales, but usually we could count on one or two sales a day, enough to make a slow but steady income from it.

        This month, I’ve been averaging about one item a week. That’s not a good thing, and I’m really hoping things will pick up for the holidays, because otherwise we’re going to be in a world of hurt after Grand Rapids Comic Con (our last con of the year, held the weekend before Thanksgiving — we don’t have another con scheduled until Indiana Comic Con in March, although we’ve got applications in at anime cons in late January and early February).

        • Book inventory. Yep, that’s the average for me too.
          Before we move we have to get rid of considerable backlog of sewing materials, so son and I were thinking of running up dinosaurs, bears (I want to do Henry Bear Tudor and his six wives) and put them on etsy. Etsy might not be a bad idea for ornaments. At least some friends are having luck with it.

    • Happy birthday and best wishes for a successful NaNoWriMo!

      I’m crossing my fingers that the release of _Elizabeth of Vindobona_ and “The General’s Leman” will kick sales back up. Two months without any new releases seems to have hurt, the August and September slumps notwithstanding.

    • Amazon has its problems, including the occasional arbitrary and capricious enforcement of policy …

      Because agents, editors, publishers, book distributors and bookstores never do anything like that, right?

      Just ask them.

  6. Odd side comment, have you considered doing Lulu or CreateSpace paperbacks? I bought “Catspaw” and think my mom would really enjoy it but she doesn’t have a Kindle and when I’ve suggested it she’s at best lukewarm. A Kindle is a pretty pricey gift to give to give her just one book but if it had a Lulu or Createspace paperback it would already be in her stocking for Christmas.

    Although it’s not your book I suspect the same will happen eventually with yours, I want to give it to someone not yet on the eBook train.

    Also, because you don’t have enough to do, as soon as we get the Darkship collection I’ll get it but I’m reading the individuals on KU instead of buying. I’m also up for more Wise Old Owl universe stories (assuming they are different).

  7. You know, Sarah, if you ever decide to write an autobiography about growing up in Portugal, I would buy a copy, and I think so would a lot of other people. (I know, you have plenty of projects already, LOL!) I really enjoy the snippets you post on here about your childhood, and your thoughts on political systems, as well.

  8. Happy birthday!

  9. “I woke late because I had disturbed dreams all night of being woven into a wicker mannequin of the sort you use for dresses.”

    Were gentle, kind pagans doing the weaving? Because I think I saw that movie. 🙂

    • {channeling my pagan friends} That was just Roman propaganda! {end channeling}

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        If it was really just propaganda, they would have been able to co-opt those faiths instead. The Romans were really good at co-opting religions. The exceptions being those really stuck on murder, that having been made illegal, and the Judeo-Christian faiths, because those were even more fundamentally insane by the standards of the times. We don’t notice the latter because we are still broadly influenced by Christ to the point that many of the mores of the Romans and Greeks look crazy to us.

        • Oh, yes. Most neo-pagans would have gone to the lions even faster than the Christians, because on top of being atheists, they were practicing active impiety.

  10. My trending was down, slowly, over the third week of October, but I released book 3 and things started trending up again. Then on Thursday they took back off.
    I also put my series into KU, (as mentioned elsewhere) and that’s trending up rather well too. Right now I’ve got three books in the top 100 of three categories, and as an author am in the top 100 of like five.
    Of course I’ve sorta trained my readers to expect a book about every month and a half right now, so I suspect the day job is gonna suffer over the next six weeks as I try to push out book four by Christmas. I was going to write a sci-fi book and hold off book four another month or two, but the lure of sales (money) is proving rather strong. I know book four will sell very well. The sci-fi book (which is a sequel to a story written three years ago) may not.

  11. Happy Birthday from yet another November-Birthday-Boy.

  12. Sales definitely suck.

  13. I started my life reading Heinlein (after “Fun with Dick and Jane” and “Space Cat meets Mars”) back in the good old days when he and Asimov both wrote teen science fiction. As I moved up to Heinlein’s adult offerings, one recurring theme was that the difference between publishers and cat fish was that one was a scum sucking bottom dweller and the other was a fish. (Baen Books being an exception.)
    My major question with some e-books is why do they cost so much? I especially love the low cost, some times short length novellas, both from Sarah and Dave Freer, because everything they write is good. Also, I’m a lot more willing to risk $2.99 on an unknown to me author than the list price of a Hatchette book. Kindle exclusive is a *bad* idea, because if I really like a book, I want a hard cover.
    I don’t really ‘rev-up’ for Christmas until late November. It might be that Virginia is a little warmer than Colorado, our leaves are still about a week from optimal. But the crisp Autumn weather is a wonderful change from our hot and humid summers. It might be that unlike Sarah, who any little toy made happy, my family is a real pain to buy for. Only my Mother, before she passed away, was easy. Este Lauder youth dew.

    • Kindle exclusive allows you to have paper, jut not be in B & N or Kobo, which of course, all the big operations are.

      Yeah. I have Witchfinder up at 6.99 for complex reasons, but I’ll be taking it on sale for the holidays.

      • You can still have paper in both B&N and Kobo, Kindle exclusive only applies to eBooks.
        As for Kobo, since the big book ban a year ago my sales there have been almost zero. Yes, my books went back after five or six months, but the book ban did what the publishers wanted it to do, it broke the back of Kobo sales because Kobo gave in.

        I’ll be surprised if Kobo is still in business a year from now. Amazon and B&N are now pulling all their sales from what I’ve seen. The market does not appreciate shotgun censorship.

        As for B&N, it really depends what you’re selling. Their key demographic is women over thirty. If they’re the ones who are interested in what you’re writing, you probably do want to be there. One of my pen names has nice steady sales there, but little elsewhere.

        So if you’re not selling a lot on B&N, and you are on Amazon, you might want to consider Kindle Exclusive. I’m giving it a test run myself right now.

  14. If your Father has passed, (I don’t remember whether you’ve said) then I’m sure he knows. I mean, what use is graduating if you can’t review how you did on the tests? If he hasn’t, by all means tell him. Actually telling people what they have meant to you is, I am convinced, one of the big pass/fail points in this life. One of the blessings of my Life is that my Father started getting ready to pass a good twenty years before he actually did. When he started saying “You know, I’m probably not going to live out the decade” I wanted to shake him and yell “You can’t die now, I’m not done with you!”, but I gradually became accustomed to the idea. My Lady, bless her, pushed me to spend time with my Folks, knowing that we didn’t have forever, and we talked a lot. I argued politics with Father and while he didn’t agree with me on everything (he lived, by preference, in the 18th century) he did tell me, once, that I reminded him of HIS father. I take that thought out and treasure it when I get to feeling down. I hope I said something to him that mean one half as much. I tried to.

    • My dad is still alive. He is 84 and a great part of the reason I HAVE to go over in the holidays. Not that he’s poorly. He comes from tough as old leather stock, and if he’s sick no one has told me. But I know he stopped driving. And he’s moving a little slower and going out to see games less. And he’s the last one of his siblings left alive. And the last time I was there, almost four years ago, he treated the cemetery like social hour, visiting and talking to me about everyone.
      It worries me.
      I think he knows how much I love him. We don’t… How do I put this? Dad doesn’t like words. Except in poetry, which he writes. (And btw he lives by preference in the Roman republic at least in reading.) I think if I told him how I feel it would embarrass him mortally.

      • You know your Father best, of course, but I’d chance it; a little reminiscence about good times. He might be embarrassed, but I suspect the memory of what you said would warm him.

        Regardless, I’m glad to read that he’s still with us, and hale.

      • This is why I now fly back east to visit my parents at least every Thanksgiving, regardless of work or the cost. My Dad is in his 90’s and my Mom is almost there as well.

      • I don’t normally say anything about emotional stuff with parents. But you might try talking to him. It might surprise you.

        I was fortunate enough to have two very emotional talks with my day. One three years after I got out of the service. One a month before he died.

        Most people that knew the family back then would tell you that he and weren’t close. Actually they would tell you we didn’t get along.

        And we didn’t really. I tried him endlessly. Not because I could, but because something was driving me.

        One night, three years after I’d separated from Uncle Sugar’s OD Machine, he had me over one night, after making sure my mother and sister were out doing something, and my brother involved elsewhere.

        I knew it was something tough for him when he called me by my short name “Gus”. His voice got choked up, and he told me how tough it had been particularly through the years I was in school. I don’t think he ever really got around to saying what he intended to, though he did tell me that I was the most stubborn SOB in his experience, and he’d learned to respect me because of that. Somewhere along the line I told him I understood. He asked if I really did, and I nodded.

        From that point on we never argued again, even when we disagreed. Whatever emotion or emotions you want to call it/them we understood though no else did.

        I was nearly done raising my daughters when I had a hunch if I didn’t go see him again, I wouldn’t be able to. Where I couldn’t express myself that time in ’75, I thought I could in ’98.

        Like him, I didn’t mention the word “Love”. Neither one of us really needed it. I did tell him that I respected him always, and that I appreciated the confrontations and differences we had during my youth. That I’d realized a long time ago he recognized that I was obsessive {to an extreme}, and he was doing all he could in his way to channel the energy in a nondestructive way. That the many head butting sessions we’d had were actually good for me, and had made a better man out of me.

        It worked, he broke up. It might have sounded kind of mean, but he was a macho old Mick, and that’s how we talked to one another.

        He died a month later. I’m still grateful today I had the chance for that one last talk.

      • Being embarrassed, even mortally so, is not the worst thing a man can experience.

        Just a: Don’t do it in public b: Don’t dawdle over it; like removing a bandage, the rule is make it quick as possible c: Don’t dwell on it afterwards (phrases such as “If you ever speak of this I will have to kill you” are not entirely inappropriate d: Don’t make a big deal of it. Deliver it in an offhand way — “Its funny, I was remembering the other day how we used to …” — and if possible divert the emotion to something he can endorse — “… and I’ve wondered how good a job I’ve done gifting the boys with such memories.” — and offer reassurance to you.

        Watch John Ford movies for tips on how such indirect conversations can be handled.

      • All I know is that you regret the things you didn’t get a chance to say.

  15. It’s your birthday? (or at least your birthday month?) Congratulations 🙂

  16. BobtheRegisterredFool

    A) I’m already slacking on NaNoWriMo. I haven’t written any fiction all day, even if I’ve given some lectures on technical matters.
    B) Well, I’ve recovered a bit, will see how the rest goes.
    C) Amanda is wrong. When is the last time anyone saw Damian Walters in public?

    First, Amazon ginned up #GamerGate to serve as a smokescreen and a distraction.

    Then, they started kidnapping various hostile media figures, and filming their decapitations.

    Few have noticed because Amazon has hired ghostwriters to replace them. Amazon is doing this because they plan a marketing ploy when they are ready to sell the boxed set of DVDs.

    Brazil does not want you to know that Emperor Jeffrey has already taken over a portion of their territory. The Emperor is holding off the formal announcement until he has a solid start on the first of the great works of the Bezos dynasty, purging many world media organizations of the supporters of pedophilia.

      • I’ve never taken part in the whole nanowritemore thing, I already write at least 1K of words a day when I’m busy, 3K to 6K when I’m not. Writing is now my profession, so I sort of feel like I’d be cheating if I took part.
        This is to encourage those not writing to write after all, isn’t it?

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Totally not cheating.

          If you want to write something longer, if you want to see if you can squeeze in another 50k? a month…

          • I’ve done 50K a month, I’ve done 60K a month (twice), I’ll probably do 50K this month (if work and the holiday doesn’t get in the way) because I need to write and publish another novel by Christmas.
            So, I guess what I’m saying is that for me, I don’t really see the point, I’m already writing for the best motivation: Sales & my readers. I don’t see what the event will garner me, because I don’t need the bragging rights. And I sure don’t need any extra motivation 🙂

        • The purpose is to encourage writing. This’ll be my 12th Nano and my reasons for doing it have shifted somewhat. AS they say… the only flying guilt monkeys that come after you are the ones you summon to yourself. Some people use it as their designated time to experiment. Others use it as a designated time to crank out new material and spend the rest of the year editing. Yet others use it to finish that project… you know THAT one, everything from the novel that stubbornly refuses to get written, to that one they’ve dreamed of, to finally getting all the way to the end. The ‘pure form’ is starting a novel on the 1st and writing a 50k word novel by the 30th. (even back in the day they acknowledged that that might not be a full novel and had helpful suggestions for ‘quick finishes’ that could then be suitably revised.) They’ve had people rebelling since the first day and cheerfully encourage it.

          • I think this is my ninth. My first year I got maybe 6,000 words. The next year showed me that I could write a lot more than I had thought. I’ve been hitting 50K for a while, but I’ve always used it for all those other reasons wyrdbard supplies–including drafting the first half one November and the second half the following August during NaNo Camp. This is my first year of doing one start to finish (knock wood), and I’m feeling very virtuous.

    • Birthday girl

      Bezos Dynasty? Oh YEAH! I bet it will be utterly Bezontine … write it!

  17. NaNoWriMo starts for me in about an hour. I think I made a mistake in getting everything else done first, since there is a definite fatique factor setting in. But I’m committed to doing it.
    But first, a nice video chat with my grand daughter in Washington State.

  18. Astrosorcorer

    What is “To the Dragons”? I’d like to know more of this upcoming project.

    • I have three free chapters in the subscribers area. This is not a shill to subscribe, because I’m going to need to move over to patreon and it’s going to be a mess.
      It’s sort of Dragon Riders of Pern meet Starship Troopers with a dash of romance, a bit of alternate history and the dragons are shape shifters. Shake it well and pour. The people who’ve read it seem to think it’s okay.

      • Eamon J. Cole

        I — I —

        I WANT!

      • …seem to think it’s okay.

        By this, Our Hostess means her subscribers took to torches and pitchforks and storrmed up that damn windy road up the hill to the Hoyt Writing Castle to INSIST that she hurry up and write it (after the other stuff she has to finish up, of course).

        SInce this happens almost every time she posts over in subscriberland, this gets reported as “…seem to think it’s okay.”


        • I didn’t have a pitchfork …

          • Okay, and one undead roman with a hayfork.


            • Minor quibble — the undead are not afflicted by nits (professional courtesy) and therefore no need to pick them.

              Dust mites, however, are a different matter.

              • So if dustmites subsist on dead skin, wouldn’t they be the reason we’re not hip deep in the undead? NO the thos fastidious enough to avoid the dustmites of DOOM remain with us to carry the hay forks and such?

                • Darn you, Autocorrect; Darn You to Heck!

                  (Second sentence should start “Only those fastidious…”)

        • “her subscribers took to torches and pitchforks…”

          I dunno about that metaphor. It calls to mind images of a monster being released from the castle to lurch down the road towards the village. 🙂

      • “It’s sort of Dragon Riders of Pern meet Starship Troopers”

        Hmmm… probably my two favorite settings. I might be mildly interested in preordering it for the Kindle when possible and then obsessively checking daily to see if it’s out yet, if that’s the kind of thing you would consider as expressing interest.

  19. No NaNoWriMo for me. I’ll be without writing computer for a week, but with toddler. Aunt Red is going to be a wee bit busy running after Wee Bit. I do have 18700 words on the fantasy novel, and 22K on the WWI book, though.

    • Feed Wee Bit some Halloween candy and a cup of coffee, for me.

      • We had that batch of (little) kids scream by last night. I think the Moms In Attendance had said something like “First, drink this Espresso, and then you can only eat HALF of the candy you get while we are out on our rounds, and That’s Final!”

        On second thought, it makes more sense that they were Aunts In Attendance.

  20. Early birthday wishes!

  21. I tried to subscribe, but it refused to do a yearly deal. You can select a year, but when you go to the next page, it has changed to a monthly.

  22. OK, I did the monthly

  23. I thought about doing NaNo but I have enough projects to take my time. Half of them are writing related (I need to finish a book, and the related cover, have another I’m starting) and several art related projects. That’s not even counting RL stuff… and is just my own project list.

  24. Sarah, sent you the belated promo a little bit ago. Couldn’t get to my work email at the moment, so let me know if it doesn’t go through again and I’ll resend it before I leave for worship services in the morning.