by Sarah A. Hoyt
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
I don’t remember—mostly because by the time I was fully cognizant these customs were things of the past—whether it’s a Portuguese tradition (or if it was a family tradition) to set off Chinese Lanterns at New Years, or if it was something done (only?) at the feast of St. John’s.
I do remember dad spending days designing the lanterns and the paper used and the fuel, so that they would burn and fly for a maximum time. (I don’t remember other instances of dad’s engineer mind growing up, though I suppose he was using it at work.) I remember his picking the paper and the colors and everything for maximum effect. (Other men made them of newspaper, and whichever fuel. But you know, my family—shocking, I guess!—tends to overthink things.) And I remember being little and very excited for this. Very excited too for “The children’s calendar”, which was published every year as a supplement of a newspaper that no longer exists. In it they printed a picture per page, and a verse underneath, the verse usually pertaining to some tradition or being a traditional rhyme. (Which btw is a great way to pass history onto kids. Kids love doggerel. I now want to do a USAIAN children’s calendar and December will have some doggerel rhyme about crossing a frozen river to slit throats on Christmas morning.)
Looking back, how technology has changed over my lifetime and what was impossible or very expensive then and is cheap and easy now is dizzying. For instance, that calendar was printed on newsprint, and left it to the parents to cut out each page, glue it to stronger paper or cardboard, and then put a string in to hang. (Yes, I do realize in the US at the same time, they likely would have given a free little calendar, whether glossy or not not sure. But Portugal is consistently 20 years behind the times.)
Anyway, I really anticipated the lighting of the balloon, though I never saw it beyond the lighting and climbing, but it made dad excited and happy and he’d track it as far as binoculars allowed.
Of course sometimes those balloons—fortunately not ours—would land somewhere out of sight of the launcher, on a house or a woods, and burn it down. (Which I suspect is why the custom no longer happens.)
The longer I live the more all my actions seems like that: you plan and work the best you can to make it the best you can, but in the end, for all you know, one of your actions designed for quite a different purpose, will land on someone else, and burn everything they own. Or set things on a course to burn down the world.
You can’t know. Learning to forgive yourself if that happens, is the hardest thing in the world. But if you don’t learn, you never do anything.
So we come to the end of 2020-won, which runs together in my head with its parent year. That I know of—and of course, you can’t fully know—I didn’t burn anyone’s house down.
Was it a good year? Well…. It was a confusing whirlwind of a year. I lost a batch of friends I couldn’t afford to lose, among them L. Neil Smith a loss that cut deep. Some of those I lost were surprise/sudden, like Rick Boatright and Paul Bisdorf. I’m still a little stunned and keep forgetting they are gone. In fact, part of the issue is that the list from these two years is so long that I always forget someone, and then it hurts anew.
I didn’t get nearly as much writing done as I wanted to, but we did manage to find a house, buy it, and are now fully moved in. We’re not unpacked, but it’s proceeding. Annoyingly, I can’t unpack and write at the same time, so both are being annoyingly slow. We didn’t manage to finish getting the house in CO sold, and might need to have some stuff done to it. But we have a plan and dates.
I had a Gofundme, which shocked heck out of me with its results, but this is good as it both makes it so I’m not going insane over how much the house in CO is costing until it sells and for the first time in my entire career has made it possible for me to invest in my writing. (This was not—Mr. IRS man who might be reading this—the purpose of the Gofundme, and nothing was promised those who contributed. But by going over, it had that happy result.) So I’ve hired an editor, and discovered that this for the first time in indie publishing, gives me an external incentive to deliver on time. So Monday Bowl of Red is going to go to the editor. (And will not go by my betas, because it’s so late.) However, the second of Deep Pink (PROBABLY called Deep Water) will go to betas next week, probably Friday or Saturday, G-d willing and the creek not rising.
The editor will get me Darkship Thieves, newly edited, tomorrow, and it will be re-issued or at least go up for pre-order sometime this week.
To that purpose, I’ve purchased a new formatting program, and also what I hope will be a means to sell e-arcs (Not really, but to do a limited-time sale to my fans and those who subscribe to my newsletter (see the little button for Schrodinger’s path on the right side of the screen) which bypasses Amazon and can offer it in various formats (except paper, that will be Amazon) before it goes up for sale on Amazon.
For various reasons, if you have no objections to Amazon and read on Kindle, I’d still prefer you purchase there, but I don’t want to go wide (yet) and I don’t want to miss sales because you’re just not in the Amazon machine.
Other stuff was purchased, because, you know, I’m just starting out as an indie—fortunately no danger of getting stale, when my job has changed completely in the last couple of years—and I need to go all in. All I’ve been doing so far is dipping my toes, and that’s never enough.
Anyway, I’d hoped to be able to test it this week with a couple of short stories, but the unpacking and finalizing of getting things setup in this house (The Coffee SHRINE! but also other things. Like would you believe we had the baseboards removed to install flooring, and have not put a single one int? Some of that happens on Wednesday (Well, Monday I’m sending book to editor, and I have Tuesday penciled in to sleep or run away with a local fan-becoming-a-friend, depending on weather.) But we’re taking it a day at a time, and I’m orienting to write a lot, because that’s what feels like I should be doing.) and other last minute things kind of stopped that cold. Oh, yeah, and all the tools and stuff come with a learning curve. So, I guess I’m going to be writing and going back to school virtually at least.
In case you wonder, no the boxes from Sarah’s garage aren’t forgotten. Younger son has unpacked them, catalogued them and has made up spread sheets. They should happen late Jan or early February.
Anyway, that’s the work side. Not sure about the other stuff, but I’m going to try really hard to finish books that are started and get them out there. There’s a chance it will work, because I don’t want to disrespect my editor’s time. So, there will be more or less, roughly, in order: Bowl of Red (Shifters), Deep Water (Magis), A Well Inlaid Death (Dyce Dare), Rhodes to Hell (Rhodes), Winter Prince (Seasons of war in Schrodinger world universe), The long Purr goodbye (guardian-cats), Hacking the Storm (Earth Revolution-Darkships), Fairy Ring (Magis), Darkship Defiance, Cross Rhodes, Spring Uprising (Seasons of War), The cat Who Came Uptown (guardian-cats), Chalked Outline (Dyce Dare).
And so on, and so forth. I just want to get these crazy people off my brain. Started but not sure where to put them, there’s a multiverse thing called Mirrorplay (The one that starts with “Jump, the Mirror said.” A …. cozy science fiction with someone who much resembles Dyce—called Alien Hunter. An orphan kitten’s mystery. A sword and sandal epic, and a six book series starting with No Man’s Land and ending with Earthman’s Son.
And now you know why I hired an editor. And why I’m prioritizing writing.
Also there will be the Odd fairytales book, which I wanted to get out before Christmas, but foundered on the shoals of “I can’t find anything, because my life is packed.” Well, it’s a little better now, and I have hopes of getting that out in January. (It’s done and edited. It’s just entering a couple of last minute changes and formatting for release in paper and e.)
Anyway, hopefully whatever else 2022 (Yes, I know, it’s 2020 Too) brings, I will get further along on this list that has been growing for something like 10 years while I struggled with health and other things.
That’s work. On the family/personal side, other than losing so many friends this year and still being saddled with double mortgage, the year wasn’t bad. The entire family is alive, relatively well, and working. Dan and I need to get in better shape this year, and lose some weight. On the edge of aging, improving health can make a big difference. And most of our friends and relatives are still alive, including the ones we thought were gonners at some point this year (you know who you are.)
Some things turned out way better this year than we had any right to expect: the house we bought after more or less 2 weekends in this town (well, we visited friends here) turned out to be in a place we like, near things we like to do. It needed a little more cosmetic improvement than we’d been aiming for, but that’s life. There’s a very good chance we’ll enjoy living in this place long term.
Will our balloon crash this year, and burn someone’s house? It’s possible. Will someone’s balloon crash and burn our house? It’s possible. You really can’t make sure you are safe from that.
All you can do is do your best and position yourself as best you can so that you can survive. (Keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.)
On the blog level: Hey, we’re still here. Better than I expected at the end of last year. (Raises champagne glass.)
There will be no post tomorrow (because I’m going head down and writing like the end of the world is coming, so I can get this to editor by Monday and it will make sense and not be written in Martian. Mostly because I don’t read Martian. And neither does my editor.
Everyone waiting for me to read something/answer something, feel free to poke about once a week, because I’m kind of buried, and things tend to get lost when I’m buried.
Until Jan. 2nd.
Let’s go into the New Year full hope and energy and face whatever comes the best we can. Be as determined as Havey in pursuit of pets. (Yes, he’s sitting on my lap as I write this. And won’t move.)