Scattered Attention and Updates

When I wrote about how noisy it was in my head and in my house I thought the noise would subside more quickly than it has. The internet noise shifted tone, but did not cease. Which doesn’t surprise me. The internet is always noisy and outraged about some thing. It just bothered me more this time around because the arguments punched some of my personal anxiety buttons. The construction work we were having done to finish a room for my boys is complete. We now have a room that will be ready for occupation as soon as carpet is installed. The quieting of these things has been significantly offset by the fact that we launched our Kickstarter. Then it funded in less than 24 hours. Now I’m hoping very much that we reach the $150,000 stretch goal so that we can afford to create and print the in-world book 70 Maxims for Maximally Effective Mercenaries. I’m also buried under huge piles of email and the more people who back the project the more email rolls in. My email response time has gone way down and I feel bad about that because the backers deserve better.

On the parenting front, we appear to have reached a stable place. I’m no longer having to respond to emotional crisis multiple times per week. I feel a bit cautious saying that, we haven’t been stable long enough for me to feel secure. I’m also aware that this stable place is not a place we want to stay. There is a big difference between “not in crisis” and “living a full and growth-filled life.” Even with the increased quiet my time and attention are being impacted with extra meetings, managing homeschooling, and figuring out how to switch everything over to a summertime mode. Meanwhile my other son’s teacher seems determined to squeeze in all the assignments she didn’t get done earlier. The onslaught of homework is significant, particularly for my son who has been feeling overwhelmed. Also my teenage daughter has had some standard issue teen drama to work through. (Can I say how light and fluffy that felt to me in comparison to what I’ve helped kids through in the last two years? I kind of want to hug her emotional drama and shout “It’s so fluffy!” like that little girl in Despicable Me.) My college daughter comes home in two weeks and I’m really hoping the carpet is installed in time for me to move the boys out of the room where she’ll be staying.

One of the exciting things this week was that Howard and I decided that I need to be at GenCon this year. We’re running and RPG Kickstarter and then I’m helping make the book. There are things about a community that can only be understood by participating in that community. So off to GenCon I go. Hopefully sometime between now and then I’ll find a way to re-open the writer portions of my brain which have been shut down since some emotional stuff slammed me the first week of March. If nothing else, I’ll get to hang out with all the writer people at GenCon and I’ll get to see our booth crew whom I’ve only had the chance to meet once. I’m really looking forward to it.

Preparing for Planet Mercenary


As the picture says, next Tuesday we’ll be launching our Kickstarter funding drive for Planet Mercenary The RPG. We’ve been excited about this project for quite a while. The thing about running a Kickstarter is that you do all the work to prepare for it, so you can do all the work to run it, so that you can do all the work to create the product, so you can do all the work to deliver on your promises. The whole thing is made out of work and worry. Yet we love this idea. We love the game mechanic that Alan Bahr has created. We love the art that we’ve already got. We’re really excited to see the rest of the art when we have the money to fund it. We’re excited by the stretch goals we’ve got planned. I am really looking forward to holding a book in my hands and knowing that I helped to make it happen.

Today my part of making it happen meant I had to go clean up space in our warehouse/office so that Howard and a crew can film the Kickstarter video. So I spent several hours collapsing boxes and putting things away. I found the piles left over from running a booth at LTUE in February. And some of the stacks of boxes were still sitting around from the massive shipping in November and December. Cleaning was definitely overdue.

Warehouse before

The good news is that most of what was jumbled around is recyclable cardboard. Even better, there is a transfer station down the road which is glad to see all the cardboard we can bring. The warehouse hasn’t looked this good in a long time.

Warehouse after

Tomorrow morning Howard and I will go dress up the front office so that tomorrow afternoon friends can help us film. I’m quite glad we have experienced friends to help, because last time for a Kickstarter video we had me, a camera, Howard in the front room, and no editing. We’ll do better this time.

New Cover for Cobble Stones Year 2011


I’m pleased to announce that Cobble Stones 2011 has a new cover. I’m so very pleased with how it turned out. The cover designer I worked with was brilliant and she created something much better than the one I put together for myself. This cover does a much better job of conveying what the essays inside are about: growth and overcoming difficult things. The essays inside are the same as they’ve always been. For the first 100 copies, this cover will be a dust jacket over the old cover. After that I’ll print up new books with this cover on them.

You can find the book at our store, amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

My Schedule at LTUE

This Thursday is the beginning of the Life the Universe and Everything symposium in Provo, Utah. LTUE is one of my favorite convention events of the year. It is a perfect event for people who want to create to learn the craft. Particularly since attendance is free to students. Team Tayler will be out in force. Howard, Kiki, and I all have programming. In between the programming we’ll be at our tables in the dealer’s room.

I’m very excited by this year’s panels. They really mixed things up and I’ll get to talk about new things. Here is my schedule:

Finding Your Muse: Anna del C. Dye, Fiona Ostler, Sandra Tayler, Scott William Taylor, M. Todd Gallowglas

Your Workspace: Staying Inspired and effective: Rachel Ann Nunes, Lesli Lytle, Sean Nathan Ricks, Sandra Tayler, Heather Horrocks

Breaking Through Blockages: Figuring out why you’re not writing and taking steps to start. Sandra Tayler
(This one I’m particularly excited about. It is a solo presentation.)

The Weird Worlds of Dr. Seuss: Jess Smart Smiley, Sandra Tayler, Michael Cluff, Daniel Coleman, Steven L. Peck

Learning From Failure: Al Carlisle, Tracy Hickman, Sandra Tayler, Scott William Taylor, Chas Hathaway

Horror fiction, haunted houses, etc. Why are we so fascinated with being scared?: Sandra Tayler, Steven Diamond, Randi Weston, Andrea Pearson

I hope that if you’re at LTUE you’ll stop by and say hello.

Oh the Places I’ll Go

First up, I need to clarify that I will not be at FanX in SLC later this week. The last couple of years Howard and I went all-in for Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. We learned a lot and hope to participate in future versions of these events. Unfortunately for 2015, by the time the dates for FanX and SLCC had been announced, we already had conflicting events on our schedule. We opted out for this year. I must admit that this week I’m very glad that I get to have a normal work week instead of tooling up for a massive convention. Having a major event in January would break my brain I think.

In two weeks I’ll be taking a trip to Chicago, because sometimes I should just go visit my friends even when there isn’t a convention involved.

I will be at LTUE in three weeks. I’m very excited about this. We’ll be fetching Kiki from college, so she’ll be at the event as well. They’ve given her a solid amount of programming, which makes me glad. The remaining Tayler kids are likely to sit the show out at home. Though Patch really enjoyed his day at Salt Lake Comic Con last fall and so he may want to come for a day at LTUE. We’ll see.

For further information regarding my whereabouts in 2015, you can check my newly updated schedule.

Call for Strong Volunteers

UPDATE: Delivery will be happening on Monday during business hours. We appear to have the crew we need. Thank you!

We need heavy lifting help on either Friday (Nov 21) or Monday (Nov 24) to do some box shifting in the Hypernode Media warehouse in Orem UT. We need 4-6 people who are strong enough to lift and stack boxes. 500 of the boxes will be light (slipcases) 200 of the boxes will be heavy (books). We do not have exact hours until the trucking company provides us with a delivery window.

We reward volunteers with food, free merchandise, and gift cards.

If you want to be on the list, email and tell us what times you are available. Sandra will correspond with you to pin down exact times.

We’re expecting a delivery of 32 pallets. Our warehouse has floor space for 15 pallets. This means that as the trucking company offloads the pallets, Sandra needs a crew to be tearing into the pallets and stacking boxes into towers thus making space for more pallets. We’ll be stacking the slipcases up to twelve feet high (we’ll have a nice ladder and, yes, we have pallet wrap to keep the towers stable.) The books will stack about five or six feet high.

Again: if you have time and are interested, please email with the hours that you are available.

I’m Excited for the 2015 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat

Being writer has a specific set of joys and challenges. One of the biggest challenges is finding out how writing can fit with all the other things in life. I’m quite familiar with this, as my writing is often victim to parental priorities. I know I’m prioritizing correctly, or at least sometimes I do. Other times I feel a strange dual guilt that I’m insufficiently devoted to writing because of the other things in my life and that I’m neglecting everything else because of the writing I do. It is a Gordian Knot; a tangle that seems to have no solution. I’ve come at it a dozen different ways and I’ve tried to share those with others in various presentations and private conversations over the years. I’m thrilled to announce that I’m going to get to do so again. This time I’ll be teaching at a venue that is perfectly selected to both ease, and bring to the fore, the challenges of blending a creative life with a family life.

I’ve been asked to teach at the 2015 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat put on by the Writing Excuses podcast team. I’ll be talking to writers and their families about ways they can survive and support the act of creation. The venue for my presentation will be Independence of the Seas, a cruise ship which makes stops around the Caribbean. Why is a cruise ship an ideal venue for this discussion? It is the only workshop I know that actively encourages attendees to bring their families along for the event. This is because cruise ships are designed to house and entertain diverse groups of people. There is childcare and child activities available right there on the boat. The ship is huge with plenty of room for everyone. There will also be attendee-only workshop classes and writing time, spaces that are child-free. This means that it will be a glorious mix of learning, focused creative time, and splendid distractions. It will be a microcosm of how demands for attention must be balanced in regular life. We’ll get to talk about all of that. We’ll have daily examples of how children impact creative work and how the needs of significant others must be weighed against creative time. Then we’ll have opposing examples of how those kids, families, and significant others also make sacrifices to allow for creation. I’m really excited to meet these fellow journeyers, these people who will be with me on the ship, but who are also traveling similar life paths.

I’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m kind of nervous about it. I’ve never thought of myself as a cruise-taking person. Yet the more I’ve heard Mary, Brandon, Dan, and Howard talk about this workshop, the more excited I become for it. For the exact same cost per attendee, this cruise will offer much more than the retreats they’ve been doing at Woodthrush Woods. It will offer more than a hotel offers for small conventions. Instead of having to say “Attendees only” they can say “Sure, bring your kids, bring your boyfriend, bring your mom.” I love that, because the one thing that is most likely to make me skip a professional writing event is if it causes a problem for my family life. The event is still a long way off, not until next September, but I’m already excited to get there. Hopefully some of you can be there too.

Keliana Tayler Freelance Artist

Fifteen years ago I knew a little girl who got a broom for her birthday. She was delighted because it meant she could pack a bag, load up her stuffed cat and play Kiki’s Delivery Service. This is why, when I began this blog and was looking for an online nickname for her, I picked Kiki. Over and over again we came back to the Kiki’s Delivery Service story because it was one about learning to fly and finding your own voice out in the big world. My little girl no longer runs around with a broom. Instead she has taken flight for real. She’s off at college, living on her own and starting up her own business. So in a way I guess she’s still playing Kiki, but then aren’t we all?

One of the things my Kiki is doing is beginning to claim an online identity for her professional self. This is why in the past few months I’ve begun using her real name when I’m speaking of her in a professional context. Though I still use Kiki when blogging family or personal stuff. She is both, really. She is my Kiki girl and she is Keliana Tayler, freelance artist and college student.

Keliana’s art is amazing to me. She does brilliant things with flow and with color. I’m always excited when I hear that she has a commission in progress because I love to see the results. She does everything from quick line sketches to fully-colored character sketches. She’s done book covers and illustrations for stories. Last year she did all of the interior illustration work for a Kickstarted pathfinder book.

All of the images in this post are hers and are used with permission. My job in her story is to be the Mom who waves farewell as she flies off into her adventures. Though in this case I may be the Mom who casually mentions to her friends that her daughter Kiki Keliana has a delivery service freelance art business and could probably use some customers.

If you’re looking for pretty art for your wall, She has an Etsy shop.

If you’re looking for line art for a book interior, she can do that.

If you want an amazing painting. She can do that too.

In fact, you should go look at her gallery on deviant art. She’s amazing and she wants work so that she can fly.

Salt Lake Comic Con: Where to Find Me

For the next three days I’ll be at Salt Lake Comic Con. The majority of my time will be spent at our booth. It is #1600, right across from the Wordfire booth and near a concessions stand. I hope you’ll stop by. The event is much more fun when people do.

This year I’m also on some panels. If you want to hear me talk, come to one of them. Hope to see you there.

Thursday 3pm Room 255C Geek Parenting: Raising the Next Generation of Geeks

Friday 1pm Room 255E From Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind Also Rises: Why We Love Hayao Miyazaki

Friday 6pm Room 255E Writing and Illustrating Books and Comics for Kids

Saturday 5pm Room 150D Structuring Life to Support Creativity

Saturday 6pm Room 255B The Business Side of Your Dreams