Your monthly letter from Sandra
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A highway with cornfields

Letter from Sandra

August 2023

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Dear Reader,

I’m writing this letter to you in a notebook while on the drive home from Gen Con. I will, of course, translate into electrons before sending to you, but for the moment it is me, pen, paper, a moving car, and fields outside my window as Nebraska turns into Wyoming.

So much of the past four months has been focused on Gen Con preparations. It feels odd to be on the other side of things. It helps that the emotional arcs of a big show like this are familiar to me. I’ve been going to large shows for more than a decade, so I recognize the pre-trip anxiety which forms itself into thoughts that we should cut our losses and just stay home. I recognize the exhaustion of having managed to get ourselves and all of our gear transported to the show so that we can begin the work to build a small store on a square of bare concrete, so that we can run the store for four days, so that we can then pack it all up again to transport everything back home. I know the patterns of mid event emotional oscillations. The low points, the lulls  where we wonder why we came, the late night anxiety brain hamsters that interfere with sleep, the moments of being convinced that all my friends only tolerate me because they’re nice people. Then there are the high points, seeing someone nod along and take notes during a presentation, small conversations at the booth, shared laughter over some silly joke, a big sale, the energy and joy in the air of a big event.

Even in the low or anxious points, I can remember and know that when everything is done, I’m always glad that I did the show. I always gain much more than I spend. It is just hard to see that sometimes during the low points of the oscillation. I have to get all the way out and clear before evaluation is possible, so anxiety-based evaluation thoughts can just go sit in the corner until then.
This show reminded me (once again) how much I enjoy teaching and the conversations that spiral out from the panels and presentations. I’ll get to do more of it in the coming weeks as I record each of my Gen Con presentations for my Patreon Community Members. The show also reaffirms for me that I need to get Structuring Life to Support Creativity completed. The book is itself a form of teaching and it is a book that will help create more teaching opportunities for me. I want that, but I have at least two more revision cycles before the book is ready to be crowdfunded.

The last four months were increasingly focused on Gen Con. The next four weeks are a pivot toward looking ahead. I need to finish SLSC. Howard and I need to collaborate to launch the Kickstarter for the next Schlock book. (Hopefully launching August 22. You can sign up to be notified here.) I have more presentations to prep for the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat. And all of this will almost certainly be repeated in the “Looking forward” section of this newsletter. Sorry about that. I’m still very much trying to get my bearings through a haze of post-convention fatigue.

We arrived home safe. We’re partially unpacked. The cats are glad to see us. The kids are glad to see us in much the same semi-interested way that the cats are. I am greatly amused that my adult children never bothered to re-stock groceries for themselves just subsisting on whatever was in the fridge or freezer, but they made a special trip to the store in order to get treats for the cats.

I would like to end this letter with something insightful or inspiring, but those thoughts keep slipping away from me like fish made out of mist. Instead I will lean into the idea that not every communication needs to be polished and focused. Thank you for being here for the somewhat messy unpacking of my post convention brain. By next month I should have my thoughts and my house in better order.
All the best,
Sandra Tayler
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Priorities and Progress
 The month just past:

Most of July was aimed directly at Gen Con preparations. We spent so much time trying to perfect Howard's mobile drawing station, trying to anticipate his needs, trying to figure out how to accomodate his long covid during the necessary exertions of a four day show. Anxiety had a huge footprint because we couldn't know what the show would cost us in terms of his ability to work once we got home.

I succeeded in making 25 creativity kits and several of my favorite moments at the show involved giving those away. I also made up new business cards for myself and then proceeded to never have them on me at the moments when they would have been most useful. (Super cool to give an entire presentation on marketing and then have to fess up that I left my business cards elsewhere. *facepalm*)

We also finished delivering on the Kickstarter for A Little Immortality. The last packages went out while I was away at Gen Con. All that remains is some clean up. Yay!

Attending Gen Con absolutely helped support my priorities of strengthening core connections. (So many friends hugged in person!) Some years it helps to do things like pay down debt, I still haven't done the full accounting for this year, so I don't know where this show landed. I did pretty well at maintaining my specialized diet (no wheat, dairy, or nuts) while on the road by eating a lot of hummus, apples, and summer sausage. It interfered with getting more books on the table, except that I think conventions like this have something of a slingshot gravity-boost effect for our creative work. Everything slows down during the convention, but we can energy and momentum we wouldn't otherwise have.

I feel like July and the first part of August were wisely spent.
 The coming month (August):

My Patreon Readers and Community members picked for me to write a short story about the value of heirlooms and how we attempt to transfer that value across generations. It will be a story with a magic system, and far more compelling than this garbled description makes it seem. I need to get it written soon.

I've also got to launch the next Schlock Mercenary Kickstarter, so a lot of writing energy will be going into marketing efforts for that. Starting next week I need to get back to submitting SLSC for critique, and I need to find time to start revising based on those critiques. I would love to get rolling on House in the Hollow again, but that is lower on the priority list for this month.

I want to record video of all of the presentations I gave during Gen Con and post them to the Community tier of my Patreon. I may schedule them to drop once per month. If I include the presentations that I need to write for the Writing Excuses Workshop, that would give me five months of monthly video drops. I like that idea. A friend even told me about a video editing tool that sounds far less daunting than what I was trying to do before.

Another video effort I want to try is posting short information videos to TikTok. These would be concepts and snippets of things that I pull from SLSC. It feels like a worthwhile experiment both in paying forward with free information and potentially building a marketing path for when I doing crowdfunding for SLSC.

We picked up the Pokemon Go game again while we were in Indianapolis. Continuing to play in Orem will take some more effort, but it has the potential to get Howard out of the house and moving in ways that he hasn't since 2020. I feel like the potential health and happiness benefits of that for both Howard and me are worth the expenditure of time and energy. So this month will feature some Pokemon Go.

I have a medical procedure scheduled next week which I'm not looking forward to. It is a follow up to the throat scoping and dietary changes I had last month. I'm definitely going to lose a day to the procedure itself. I'm hoping I don't lose another couple of days to being emotionally off kilter, which is what happened last month.

It feels like a lot to tackle in what remains of August. We really don't have that much time before we need to pack up and head out to the Writing Excuses Workshop.

 Looking Ahead:
In September I’m attending the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat, which takes place on a cruise ship that travels to Alaska and back. While on the ship I'll get to teach three classes:
  • Living with a Writer
  • Introverts Unite! Building Community to Survive Your Writer Journey
  • Successful Crowdfunding
I'm looking forward to being more student focused because last year I was much occupied with staff-facing tasks.

October continues to be nebulous. It might be empty, it might have a trip in it.
In early November my daughter is expecting a baby. This will be my first grandchild and I'll want to be available to help with that. Late November is Dragonsteel Con. And then I'm pretty much out of year.

The inevitable frustrations and irritations when you take seven people and expect them to share space while undergoing the strains of running a convention booth.

The windshield on my car is cracked and I've slowly been watching the cracks get longer because I keep not having the energy to figure out who to call to have it replaced. Also the other car is making odd clunking noises while turning which I should probably have checked.

The creeping sensation that I'm running out of month.

Having to do a medical procedure that I'd really rather not have to do.

Teaching at Gen Con

Giving away my creativity kits

Getting this newsletter written even though my brain is still convention tired.

 Books read:
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold  A long time favorite comfort read.

 Note that those links are affiliate links to If you shop using those links, I do get a small percentage of your purchase. Also, you can support your local independent book seller. 
Plant growing out of a pink pot, blooming with a yellow brain. arround the brain flower are a calendar, gears, a paper airplane, and some stars.


Sept 2023: Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat Tickets are currently sold out, but I believe there is a wait list.

November 20-21 Dragonsteel Con We'll have a booth in the vendor hall.

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