Announcements

Becoming a Patron

After several conversations with smart friends, Howard and I have decided to set up Patreon pages. Patreon is an online service which allows people to give a small amount of money to support an ongoing creative project. It also allows the creators (Howard and I) to provide special perks to our patrons. Howard’s page is to support ongoing work on Schlock Mercenary. My page is to support the creation of my books and blog. I’ve separated out the accounting to make sure that the funds get allocated to the correct projects.

Yes Schlock Mercenary has been paying all our bills for a long time. No it is not in danger of ceasing if people don’t support it. We’re setting up the Patreon because we’ve had people asking us “How do I support your work without buying more stuff?” This is our answer. The same is true of my blog. I’ll keep writing it whether or not I ever get paid. Physical books of my work are more complicated. They cost money to produce and support via Patreon would help me pay for that production.

If you become a Schlock patron, you get access to pre-orders at least two days before they open to the public. You’ll also get sneak peeks at Howard’s creative process. At $2.50 per month or more, you can become one of Howard’s Schlock Troops. That will get you access to early pre-orders, convention exclusive merchandise without attending a convention, coupon codes for our store, and monthly behind-the-scenes peeks at Howard’s creative process. Sign up to become a Patron or a Schlock Troop here.

If you become a patron of Sandra Tayler you’ll get monthly behind-the-scenes peeks at Sandra’s process. There will be coupons for our store. It will be a different coupon than is offered to Schlock supporters. At the $2.50 or more donation level, I’ll also send you a handwritten thank you card once per year. Sign up to become a Sandra Tayler patron here.

Working with Patreon is an experiment for us. All our research tells us it will function as we expect and potentially provide a good experience for everyone. If it turns out to not be a good experience, we have the tools to bring the experiment to an end. Additionally, my creative work has not yet managed to be self-sustaining financially. It needs to find ways to support itself instead of being carried by Schlock. The smartest freelancers have many income streams. I wanted to explore this one.

Westercon July 3-6 Salt Lake City

I’ll be at Westercon this weekend. I’ll be there mostly as support crew for Howard and Kiki, so I expect that if you want to find me and say hello, the dealer’s room is the best bet. Please do stop by. I’ll have Hold on to Your Horses, Strength of Wild Horses and my Cobble Stones books for sale. We’ll also have Howard’s books and Kiki’s art.

I do have a few times where I’ll be on panels.

Thurs 4pm Deer Valley I&II
Schmoozing 101: Making the most of your convention experiences.
Mary Robinette Kowal, Sandra Tayler, Dave Doering.
I’ve been part of a similar panel with Mary before and I’ll bet this one is worth your time.

Fri 10am Salon A
Writing Assistants: What do they do and when do you need one?
Sandra Tayler, Isaac Stewart, Peter Ahlstrom, Chersti Nieveen.
I know all of these people and they know their stuff. It should be a good discussion.

POSSIBLE Friday 2:30 Salon B&C
Women in Fantasy Art
J. Zoe Frasure, Keliana Tayler, Emily Sorensen
Keliana was told that I’m on this panel too, but I haven’t seen that reflected on a printed program. It looks like an interesting discussion whether or not I’m part of it.

Friday 5:30pm Salon B&C
Sparks in the Blood: Insights from a creative family.
Howard Tayler, Sandra Tayler, Keliana Tayler
They’ve put three Taylers on one panel and given us an hour to talk. If we do this right you’ll laugh (a lot), you’ll cry (maybe, just a little), and you’ll learn something useful. Hope you join us.

Saturday 2:30pm Salon A
Writing Children and Juvenile Characters: From Classics to Today
Sandra Tayler, Mikey Brooks, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury
I get to talk about writing for this panel, which makes me happy.

Strength of Wild Horses Available Now


There it is. The Strength of Wild Horses made into a book. I wrote it. Angela illustrated it. Three hundred people backed the Kickstarter project that funded the printing. The books arrived. I sent rewards to Kickstarter backers. And now the book is available. You can buy it in our store by clicking that link or on the picture above. Or on Amazon.com


Don’t the books look pretty together? They match.

It has been a long road getting to this point, but here it is. Excuse me while I go happy dance for a bit.

Scheduling for 2014

Howard just posted his appearance schedule for this year. Most notable: he will not be attending either LTUE or Worldcon because both have direct conflicts with other events. My schedule is much less populated than Howard’s. My currently scheduled public appearances are:

January 17-19 at Legendary ConFusion, Troy, Michigan. They’ve given me some fascinating programming and I’ll likely be spending the rest of my time hanging out where ever the writers are congregating. Though we’ll also spend some time in the Vendor’s room where our books will be on sale.

February 13-15 LTUE, Provo, UT. I hope that I’ll be teaching things there, but I’ve yet to see a schedule. I’ll be running a table in the dealer’s room where my books will be available. I’ll have Howard’s books too. Sharing the table with me will be Nancy Fulda, who is fun and writes things worth reading.

April 17-19 Salt Lake City Comic Con FanExperience, SLC, UT. I’ll likely be there, but I’ll be in full booth support mode rather than author/teacher mode. More details as we have them.

July 3-7 Westercon, SLC, UT. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll get to be on programming or if I’ll be playing support staff. But I’ll be there.

Sept 3-6 Salt Lake City Comic Con. More thoughts on this one after we see how the one in April goes.

Putting together an event schedule is only part of the organization that Howard and I have been doing in the past few days. Howard has come up with a system where he separates his work into creative chunks. The goal is for him to get at least two chunks done per week. This is pretty important because right now we have 102 chunks lined up for the year and more than half of them need to be done by June. Hopefully quantifying the insanity of our schedule will help us actually accomplish most of it. It may work because both Howard and I are motivated by lists.

Howard’s chunk system doesn’t quite work for me, at least not in a straight port across. What I’ve done instead is portion out the hours of my days. I’ll spare you all the hourly details. The part which most closely matches Howard’s creative chunks is that I have two blocks of time per day which I’m declaring to be Project Time. That is ten work blocks per week. At first I’m going to devote 3 of them to warehouse/shipping tasks. I’ll assign the others based on what I’ve got going on. This week I’ve got design blocks and editing blocks. I may discover that I don’t need quite so many warehouse blocks, but I’m still sorting out and setting up over there. Spending some extra time now will have benefits for the rest of the year. Some of those project blocks are going to be given to writing or to doing things which fill my brain with writing thoughts.

At the end of January Howard and I will re-evaluate. This is an important part of setting up new systems and goals, there need to be check points where we decide what is working and what needs to change. Right now, on the first full work day of the new year, things feel good. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’ve often found that days 2-5 are more difficult than day one.

Strength of Wild Horses, Funded and Beautiful


They arrived in a priority mail envelope heavily reinforced with cardboard and bubble wrap. Thirty two hand-drawn illustrations for Strength of Wild Horses. I was not here to open the package, Howard was, so he got to see them first. This is fine, since it is my desk they are currently resting on. I’m the one who is going to get to move these images around on the pages, placing words, and making it all come together into a book. I get to do that because the project funded. That statement deserves repetition and bold text.
The Strength of Wild Horses project is now funded.
I’d have put the text in all upper caps, but that is too much like angry shouting. I feel like happy shouting, but I wouldn’t want any of you to feel yelled at. But you can click on the link and see it all funded.

See Amy, Kari, and Evan? This is how they’ll appear on the back cover of the book. Flying together into an adventure. Seeing them makes me happy. Holding the final book will make both Angela and I very happy. It gets to happen because over 250 people agreed that Amy needs a new adventure.

There are four days left before the funding closes. My emphasis for these last four days will be on spreading the word even further, because every Kickstarter creator I’ve ever known has people who say they’re sad that they missed it. Next week I’ll be trying to get the best possible images I can of the originals. It is hard, because there is an iridescent quality to Angela’s pencil work which can’t be replicated by printing. I’m going to do my best.

This Kickstarter project has felt like a gift. Over and over again I have been moved to tears by the kindness of friends who blogged, tweeted, shared, linked, commented, emailed, messaged, and liked. People spread the word much farther than I could have done by myself. That is a gesture of trust and friendship that I will always treasure. So many people believe in this project and what it can be. They also believe that Angela and I can deliver something worthwhile. I leaf through the pages of originals and know that Angela has truly delivered. Now I’ve got to complete my part. I need to arrange words and pictures. I’ve got to collect order information from my backers, most especially those names which will be printed in the book. I’ve got to prepare the files, send the book to print, and be ready when it comes back. Each backer is a person to whom I’ve made a promise and I’m excited to fulfill those promises. The closing of the Kickstarter is a beginning, not an ending.

2014 Calendar Available Now, Also Links to Cool Interviews

Today has been a design day. I sent the calendars off to print and I’m putting together our annual Thank you postcard list. We send out these cards to anyone who has purchased things in our store during the year. It is a small thing that we can do for those who’ve supported us. I’m a little later than usual on the postcards this year, so I’ll need to hurry. However the calendar turned out prettier than ever. You can get your own copy in our store. In that store you can find my Cobble Stones books as well as Hold on to Your Horses. All of which make wonderful gifts. You can find all of Howard’s Schlock Mercenary stuff too. Every order will ship from our shiny new warehouse and will be accompanied by a Thank You postcard.

The Strength of Wild Horses Kickstarter is ongoing and doing very well. It is almost 50% funded, which means I still have work to do. Right now lots of that work is not publicly visible. I’m putting together samples of the canvas prints and making a mock up of the book so Angela can see the pictures and text together. I’m also reaching out to organize more interviews and guest posts. I owe a post to Nancy Fulda, but she didn’t wait on me. Instead she wrote a lovely post praising Hold on to Your Horses. You can see it by clicking the link.

I also did a podcast interview with Funding the Dream host Richard Bliss. He spent 20 minutes talking to me about Strength of Wild Horses and how to have two creative careers living under the same roof. I haven’t had time to listen to the whole thing yet, but it is out there and hopefully I say useful things and sound smart. While you’re there, you might want to listen to some of the other podcasts, particularly if you’re interested in running a Kickstarter of your own someday. Richard is where Howard and I learned most of our marketing skills.

Interviews with James Yee and Jim C. Hines

My head is full of thoughts about warehouses, the joys of setting up shop in a commercial building, calendar design, monitoring kids’ online socializing, and whether I’m helping too much with homework. I intend to shape some of those thoughts into words later today. For now I give you two interviews.

Doing interviews is really interesting because the shapes of the questions give me a peek into other creators and their audiences. Yes interviewers are creators. It takes skill to craft a good interview. James Yee’s interviews speak to people who are really invested in Kickstarter and want to know details about how to use it as a tool to create things. His questions reflect that, and I had fun exploring that aspect of the project.

You can read my interview with James Yee over on Kickstarter Conversations.

Jim Hines has been a friend of mine for quite a while now. His blog writing won him a Hugo award for best fan writer. Jim often addresses issues of personal safety, equality, and acceptance, particularly as expressed in the Geek community. But usually when Jim and I are together we talk about parenting because we have kids with similar sorts of challenges. This interview was a lot like sitting down and chatting with my friend Jim, which made it lots of fun. I don’t get to visit with Jim nearly often enough.

You can find Jim Hines’ post over on the Jim C. Hines Blog. While you’re there, you might want to take a glance around. Jim talks about lots of important and interesting things.

Strength of Wild Horses Kickstarter is Live

This morning I pushed the launch button on the Strength of Wild Horses Kickstarter. You can see the project page by clicking on the link. I recommend doing that since the page has pretty pictures. You can also watch the video that I posted about last week. I hope that after you’re done marveling at how uncomfortable I am in front of a camera, you’ll consider kicking in some money to support the project. I love this book and really want to see it made real. If you don’t have a child in your life who needs a book, then perhaps you’ll pass the word along to people who do. Every bit helps, and in fact the most help is when a person, who is not the creator, says “Hey this book is worth looking at.”

This has been a fantastic day. Lots of people have helped spread the word on social media. Friends have been kind and helpful. I’ve got lots of fun interviews and guest posts lined up for the next week. They were really fun to write, having people read them will be fun too. As of this writing the project is 13% funded with 29 days to go. It is a strong start and I’m excited to see how things continue.

Preparing for the Tub of Happiness Reprint

Last week I did a series of tweets talking about going through Body Politic and finding a hundred errors, fixing them, then finding thirty more, fixing those, and finding another dozen. It was an excellent example of iterative publishing. I ended the series by saying that even with all our attention beforehand, we always find mistakes in the finished books. How many? Well take a look at Tub of Happiness to the left. I’ve identified over a dozen things that I want to fix before it heads out for its second printing. That printing is imminent, so if there is a typo or other error in Tub of Happiness that has been driving you crazy, please email schlockmercenary@gmail.com with the error and page number. I may already know about it, but you just might be saving me from holding yet another printed book and finding a mistake in it.

Bits and Pieces of Posts

This week and next week I have so many irons in the fire that there is hardly any room for a fire. I’m not likely to have brain enough to write full and thoughtful blog posts. Yet my brain is thoroughly trained to notice things, think about them, and then hold them until time to write. My brain fills up with fragments, each of which would be a lovely post, but time and I have to march onward. By the time I have space to write there will be some other thought more pressing. So I shall record some of the fragments in the hope that if I pin them down with words, they’ll stop fluttering around in my brain begging for attention I can not spare.

No one told me that the sales people would begin circling the minute my child completed her ACT and declared her intention to both graduate from high school and attend college. Circle they did, first with suggestions of the importance of commemorating high school. Surely my child needed a ring, a jacket, a hoodie, photographs, a tassel, graduation announcements, all with her school logo. I was assured that these things would be forever treasured, just like her years in high school. The brochures were pitched to appeal to nervous/nostalgic teens and parents alike. We got her a tassel. While the pitches to commemorate high school were still in full force we started hearing from colleges. All of them wanted us to know that they were very impressed and giving Kiki a very special opportunity for a fast-track application. They very carefully did not say how much they want our education dollars. Kiki applied to a single school, got in, and began bouncing the rest straight into the trash. I thought that would be the end of it, but today we got the first of a new onslaught. Our child is going to the dorms, surely we want to buy her a super value kit of bedding, laundry hamper, toilet kit, all at extremely reasonable prices. Every where I turn someone is hoping that during this transitional period in our lives we’ll be ready to throw around some money in an effort to appease our emotions. It makes me think of the stories Howard tells about the shark-like tactics of coffin salesmen. They’re worse than used car salesmen because they prey on the bereaved.

This morning I gave the final go ahead for the printing of Body Politic. I will next interact with that book when it shows up at my door. As usual, I do not have time to luxuriate in something completed. Instead I am immediately setting to work on the reprinting of Tub of Happiness and even more critically on the shipping of 30,000 coins. Latest word says that those coins will arrive at my door by Wednesday. Tomorrow I’ll begin triaging to figure out how the shipping processes need to work.

We’re in the last rush to complete school work before the year is over. It makes me resentful of the one last complex project that Patch has to complete. The other three kids mostly have at-school things left to do, not homework.

I spent this morning re-creating financial data after my hard drive crash. It was tedious, but finally validated my tendency to keep paper statements. I’m still maintaining a list of data lost. So far it is only four items long. This is good.

I wish I had more time to luxuriate in the process of helping Kiki prepare for her CONduit show. I would love to do right by her there. Particularly since her latest birthday was not everything she hoped it would be. Yes the circling sales people are right, we are a bit emotional during this transitional phase. I just don’t think that buying her the perfect dorm room trash can will make up for whatever lacks there have been in the past eighteen years. Instead I’ve been trying to soak up normal before normal changes. She graduated from Seminary on Sunday. Next Thursday she’ll don the classic cap and gown and march with her classmates. I don’t know where that will put us all emotionally. We’re in uncharted territory here. The kids afterward will have a road map that they can follow or avoid. For now I’m doing small nice things for Kiki daily between now and the beginning of June. It won’t be enough, or rather, if there hasn’t been enough to date, no last minute effort will fix that. But it feels like the impending launch is a good one. We’re nervous, but ready. Also, we’ve still got months. Graduation closes off high school, but it does not begin college.

Howard is feeling better, for which I am daily grateful.

I read a novel draft for a friend. It was how I spent my Saturday instead of the ways I’d assigned to myself. I love when a book pulls me in and earns my tears. Note, there is a difference between pulling strings and really earning sadness. Also, I love it when I can love the books of my friends.

My poor correspondence box is gathering dust. I hope to write letters again in June.

It is late and there are more irons in the fire for tomorrow.