2017 in Ten Awesome Photos

2017 in Ten Awesome Photos

It’s become a tradition around here to reflect on the past year by sharing ten photos that summarize the last twelve months. The rules are simple: ten photos, no more, no less.

I love doing this.

Selecting my ten forces me to consider my year in a different light, it slows down time. Perception and reality are often wildly different. If you asked me how 2017 was going a few months ago, my mind would have drifted towards the negative. There’s the endless outcry on social media, the seemingly exhaustless supply of terrible news/decisions/people coming from DC, and the reemergence of Nazis and Nazi-sympathizing dickheads. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.

However, when I go back through my year, I see a lot more good than bad. I see momentum. I see friendships, adventure, and change. I see passion. When so much time and energy is devoted to focusing on the negative, one often forgets the positive things that occur. It doesn’t negate the bad. There’s still trouble and tragedy in the world and society must remain vigilant. But this sort of ritual can help one recenter. Try it yourself.

So, with that said, let’s take a look at my 2017 distilled down to ten awesome photos.


At the beginning of the year, Kari-Lise and I took a trip up to Vancouver, British Columbia to celebrate her birthday. We both took a lot of photos, but this picture of Kari-Lise in the Vancouver Art Gallery is the most important to me. In 2018 Kari-Lise and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage, and I cannot think of a better partner in this crazy life than her. She’s there to pick me up when I stumble and raise me higher when I succeed. I wouldn’t be the man or writer I am today without her. I can’t fathom a better way to begin a year than standing by her side and celebrating her birthday. 2017 might have been tough, but with her, I was able to endure.


I marched in the Women’s March. I felt it was important to walk beside the fantastic women in my life. This was their march, not mine. I’m not flamboyant or loud, I don’t chant or shout, but I wanted to stand in support and be present.


In February, eBooks of Old Broken Road went on sale for 99¢, and it was offered to BookBub subscribers. It took off like gangbusters. It was a whirlwind couple of days. I sold thousands of books, and for a brief stint, I ranked among the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors on Amazon, just a titch above two of my idols, Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King. It was great to see so many new readers step into the world of the Territories. (Someone tell ’em to go leave reviews.)


Kari-Lise had another fantastic show! Wake opened April 1st at Thinkspace Gallery, in Los Angeles. Us and several friends, made the trip down to celebrate. (Thanks, Redd, Siolo, and Vinnie.) The show was a success, the turnout was great. I’m really proud of Kari-Lise, and the work she created for this series. Check out the full show over on Thinkspace’s website.


I returned once again to Norwescon. This year my hometown convention celebrated its 40th anniversary, and I was honored to be a panelist. As always, I had an absolute blast. Saw some friends, had some great conversations, learned a lot. I’m hoping to go again in 2018. More more info, check out the full Norwescon 40 Debriefing.


I participated in the March For Science on a rainy Earth Day with Kari-Lise and my little sister. Like the Women’s March, I felt it was essential to me to stand and be present.


Between travel, shows, and work, we didn’t get into the mountains as much as we wanted. But when we did, it was phenomenal. This photo was taken at Otter Falls this summer, it’s one of my favorite spots in the Cascade Mountains.


I finished a manuscript. Coal Belly is a story I wrote a long time ago and attempted to shop. After multiple rejections, I eventually put it aside. But that wasn’t the end. The characters and setting haunted me always tickling at the back of my mind while I worked on the Bell Forging Cycle. I returned to it in 2016, starting from scratch and completely reworking much of the book. It took me almost a year and a half, but I’m immensely proud of the result. I’m in the middle of editing it now. I can’t wait to share it with the world.


I went to Scotland, and it quickly became one of my most favorite places on the planet. (Right up there with Iceland and Norway.) We traveled with some friends for half the time, saw castles, hiked mountains, drank scotches, fell into bogs. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken in my life, and I can’t wait to eventually go back. Read the Scotland Trip Report.


Change occurred. This summer Kari-Lise got into gardening which meant on some level I also got into gardening. We fell in love with the direction our little backyard oasis was taking. But, during a late-autumn windstorm, the enormous fir that had been one of the centerpieces toppled taking out a beautiful maple tree and a large bush with it. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and only the landscaping damaged, but the fall changing our backyard forever. It was tough to swallow. But life is change, and one must adapt. Holding onto the past can be just as dangerous as ignoring the future. So, a few weeks ago I took up a chainsaw and started my (unexpected) winter project.


In Conclusion

As is always the case, it was hard to narrow this down to just ten photos. So much more happened and it was all impactful in various ways. I mean think of the things I’m leaving off! I went to Lilac City Comicon with my pal Josh, I went to Orycon, there were backyard barbecues, mounds of research, multiple art shows, we explored the Pacific Northwest, I read piles of books, and we’re raising insects. But, narrowing the selection to ten is apart of the ritual.

2017 was a tough year, I’m not sorry to see it go. But I’m glad to have lived it. Here’s to 2018.


Want to revisit photos of past years? Click on any of the links below and check out my Ten Awesome Photos from that specific year. It’s interesting to watch subtle changes year over year.

201420152016


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Top Five Posts of 2017

My Top Five Posts of 2017

As many of you know, I’ve been doubling down on my blog versus sharing and spending time on social media. This blog and my newsletter, Dead Drop, are the best locations to discover what I am working on and find major announcements. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Since the year is wrapping up, I thought it’d be great to revisit the most popular posts I’ve shared in 2017. I’m actually really excited about this list. A lot of work went into the posts in this top five, work I was proud to share. It’s nice to see people found them enjoyable. (I’m considering my experiment a success.) So let’s take a look at the best of the best! We’ll start at number five and work our way to number one.


Making Magnificent Mountains5. Making Magnificent Mountains

It’s no secret that I love making maps, and I am a minor participant within several communities across the internet dedicated to the mapmaking process. So I’m not surprised that when I offered a set of 19th-century hachure-style topographical brush for download that people were interested. I plan on more offerings like this one in the future.


Riverboats at War4. Riverboats at War

This year I started sharing research for my manuscript, Coal Belly, in particular, research surrounding American steamboats. In these posts, I offer bits of knowledge and include a whole mess of photos gleaned from the historical record. (Usually the Library of Congress) War, and the history of war, always captures people’s attention, and this post about the brown water navy used in the American Civil War sparked excitement.


How Passenger Airships Work3. How Passenger Airships Work

Airships have always been something of an interest for me. But I never quite understood how they worked as passenger transport. I thought everyone crammed into the small gondola that hung below. So for my own education, I looked into it. What I discovered was something that many others found fascinating making this one of my most visited posts for the year.


Hunting the Yellow Sign2. Hunting the Yellow Sign

Robert Chambers’ collection of short stories, The King in Yellow, features some of my favorite cosmic horror tales. For years, I’ve seen a wide variety of artist renditions of the titular king’s yellow sign, but none of them quite hit the mark. I too wanted to know more. What was this mysterious symbol? How it was described in the work? Why was it rendered in various ways? I wanted to see if I could get to the bottom of this mystery. And a great many of you were just as engaged. Did we solve the secret of the yellow sign? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out.


And the number one post of the year is…


The 2017 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide1. The 2017 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

My Lovecraftian Holiday gift guide is always incredibly popular, so it is no surprise that this post ended up being my number one post for the year. (Despite being the youngest on this list.) It’s full of fantastic gift ideas for yourself or the cosmic-horror fans in your life. I make sure to try and find items for every budget. If you have an idea for next years list, why not shoot me an email and let me know.


So those are the top five posts of the year! I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to those who read, subscribe, and share the stuff I post here on I Make Stories. You make it all worthwhile. Thanks for making 2017 one of the best years for this blog, and stick around, there’s a lot more to come in 2018.

❄️ 💀 ❄️


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Revisiting Lovecraft's Holiday Poetry

Revisiting Lovecraft’s Holiday Poetry

For the last few years, I’ve been sharing H. P. Lovecraft’s strange yuletide poetry here on the blog. Since we’re in the middle of the 2017 Holiday Season (you can tell because it’s snowing), I figured it’d be fun to revisit his poems and collect them into a single place. So sit back, pour yourself some eggnog, mulled wine, or a mug of spiced cider and settle in for some heartwarming “Lovecraftian” poetry.


If you want something creepy, try…

Yule Horror

Lovecraft’s creepy Christmas Poem! It’s got cannibals, chanting, feasts, death, and “pow’rs”! I mean what more could you want in a creepy Christmas poem?


If you want something a bit cheesy

Christmas

Lovecraft writes a Hallmark Holiday Card! It’s saccharine and silly, not something you’d suspect from the grandpappy of cosmic horror.


If you’re seeking a poem for a cat, consider…

Christmas Greetings to Felis

Lovecraft’s wrote a poem for Frank Belknap Long’s cat. No seriously, he sent the cat a poem. Not Frank, the cat, Felis. Happy Christmas, Felis. Sorry, Frank.


If you’re really into cats and that last poem wasn’t enough…

Christmas Greetings to Felis #2

Lovecraft’s really loved that cat, I guess.


If you’re looking for Santa-related poetry, don’t worry…

Christmas Greetings To Eugene B. Kuntz et al.

Gotta go for the classics. This is a Lovecraft poem about Santa: presents, chimneys, and stuff!


If none of those work, and for everything else

See Lovecraft’s other little poems here

You’ll find a few other bits of poetry in this post, from winters greetings to descriptions of pigeons in flight. You know, plenty for everyone!


Lovecraft was both a prolific poet and a prolific Christmas-themed poet. There are a few more poems out there that I’m going to track down over the next year. So enjoy this recap this year and tune in next Holiday Season for more of H. P. Lovecraft’s Christmas poetry.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

A Riverboat's Pilothouse

A Riverboat’s Pilothouse

If the boilers are the heart, the engines the muscles, then the pilothouse is the brain of the riverboat. This small room perched high above the deck controls the steamboat. It is here where the pilot holds court, directing the engines, calling for leads, watching the waters, and guiding the big boat safely along its course.

Pilothouses came in all shapes and sizes, some were fanciful, onion-domed, and decorated with wooden designs known as gingerbread. Others were simple and austere, with little to no decorations and flat-roofed. Early pilothouses were open to the elements, while later pilothouses were glassed in to protect the pilot from the weather.

The expansive pilothouse of an unknown towboat
The expansive pilothouse of an unknown towboat

The enormous spoked pilotwheel was the focal point of the room. It rose arcing from the floor and connected to a tiller rope giving the pilot command of the steamboat’s rudders. Wheels varied in size, but most were quite large. The Steamer Sprague had an enormous wheel that measured over thirteen feet.

Speaking tube onboard the Str. W.P. Snyder Jr.
Speaking tube onboard the Str. W.P. Snyder Jr.

Communication between the pilothouse and the engine room varied from boat to boat. Before the inventions of the engine-order telegraph, pilots communicated by signaling the engineers via bells-and-gongs systems. Bells ropes were pulled and down below bells rang signaling the engineers to stop, start, and reverse engines. Many boats also had a series of hollow (usually one way) speaking tubes which allowed the pilot to get a little more creative in their communication. (See Mark Twain’s copious notes in Life on the Mississippi describing the flowery cursing that was common among pilots and crew.)

Most pilothouses had stoves to keep the pilot warm, and a lazy bench as seating for visitors and guests. Large bells on the roof of the boat signaled the leadsman. Whistles, often controlled by treadles on the floor, allowed the pilot to blow the steam whistle.

Mark Twain, served as Horace Ezra Bixby’s cub pilot on the steamer Paul Jones, a 172′ sidewheeler out of Pittsburgh. He described her pilothouse as “cheap, dingy, battered rattle-trap, cramped for room” but after the Jones, he and his mentor spent some time on a much larger and finer vessel1 and the pilothouse there was entirely different:

“…here was a sumptuous glass temple; room enough to have a dance in; showy red and gold window-curtains; an imposing sofa; leather cushions and a back to the high bench where visiting pilots sit, to spin yarns and ‘look at the river;’ bright, fanciful ‘cuspadores’ instead of a broad wooden box filled with sawdust; nice new oil-cloth on the floor; a hospitable big stove for winter; a wheel as high as my head, costly with inlaid work; a wire tiller-rope; bright brass knobs for the bells; and a tidy, white-aproned, black ‘texas-tender,’ to bring up tarts and ices and coffee during mid-watch, day and night.”

—Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

My new novel Coal Belly is a weird-west steampunky fantasy set on a planet crisscrossed by interlocking rivers. It’s a rough-and-tumble place where riverboats are omnipresent and necessary for everyday life. One of the main characters in the novel is a riverboat pilot, and learning the ins and outs of the pilothouse, how a pilot moved, and how they behaved in their domain was key to making my pilot an authentic character. I’m still hard at work on editing the manuscript (which I finished earlier this year), but I believe people will enjoy reading about her adventures among the Thousand Streams.

Below are some images of pilots and pilothouses which I have collected during my research. You’ll see rooms of all types, from the simple to the more fanciful and you’ll meet some of the people that worked there as well.



The pictures above have been collected over the last five years, so I am unsure where they all come (usually the Library of Congress.) But, they’re all old enough to be in the public domain. In some cases, I did some minor color correction and cropping. I’m happy to answer any questions folks have about any of these images or riverboats in general. (Sometimes it gives me a good excuse to research something.) You can send me an email or leave a comment below. I love comments.

A Riverboat’s Pilothouse is the latest in my series of posts sharing my research for Coal Belly. You can check out the other riverboat-related posts with the links below.


1 It’s possible this was the pilothouse to the Crescent City, he and Bixby worked onboard from April to July of 1857, shortly after serving onboard the Paul Jones. It regularly ran between New Orleans to St. Louis.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

The 2017 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

The 2017 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

December is just around the corner. That means it’s time for my annual Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide! Huzzah! As with previous years, here you can find the perfect curated gifts for the weird-fiction aficionado, cosmic horror fan, or mythos-lover in your life. (Perhaps something special for yourself. You need gifts too.) There’s a lot of great stuff on the list this year, and you’ll find something for all ages and budgets.

As before, I’ve organized the list by category and ordered them by price making it easy to browse. Have a favorite New Weird or mythos-themed item I left off? Leave a comment at the bottom and let everyone know!


❄️ QUICK LINKS ❄️

Books • Music • Apparel • Games • Housewares • Miskatonic


❄️ BOOKS

Hammers on the BoneHammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw
$6.98 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $3.99 (eBook)
More a novella than a novel, Hammers on Bone introduces the reader to John Persons, a hardboiled private investigator hired by a ten-year-old to kill his abusive stepdad. But things aren’t what they seem, and Persons discovers the truth is much dark then he realized.


The Fisherman by John LanganThe Fisherman by John Langan
$11.08 (Paperback) $6.99 (Kindle)
Winner of the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. The Fisherman focuses on a pair of widowers, Abe and Dan, who have found solace in each others company and in fishing. Masterfully written, with an overhanging sense of dread laced with cosmic horror. The result is a sober and somber look at folklore and loss that is dripping with atmosphere.


Winter Tide by Ruthanna EmrysWinter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
$14.29 + Free Shipping (Hardcover) $15.99 (Paperback) $12.99 (eBook)
A twist on historical fiction, Emrys envisions a world where the once aquatic residents of Lovecraft’s Innsmouth were placed in internment camps far from their seaside homes. Emerging from the camps, Aphra Marsh finds herself critical to the government who imprisoned her as they struggle to keep mankind safe from total destruction.


Borne: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeerBorne: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeer
$14.30 + Free Shipping (Hardcover) $10.40 (Paperback) $12.99 (eBook)
Not specifically Lovecraftian, but certainly weird. VanderMeer is back with a tale of biotech gone awry. In a broken future ruled by a giant bear, a strange creature discovered during a scavenging mission might just tip the balance of power and put people in jeopardy.


Red Litten WorldRed Litten World by K. M. Alexander
$15.00 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $4.61 (eBook)
In the third installment of my Bell Forging Cycle, Caravan Master and now Guardian Waldo Bell returns to the multileveled megalopolis of Lovat. Hired by a wealthy patron to investigate a ritual murder he finds himself once again thrust into a conflict that will lead him up into the cities blood-soaked spires.


Engines of the Broken World by Jason VanheeEngines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee
$16.99 + Free Shipping (Hardcover) $9.99 (Paperback) $7.09 (eBook)
This is a hard book to pin down. It’s not Lovecraftian, but the themes are there: ministers speak through animal avatars, mothers sing from beyond the graves, and the world is shrinking. There is a palpable sense of dread that carries the story, amplified by Merciful Truth’s wide-eyed innocence and her outlook on a world that is crumbling at its edges.


Not finding a book you like? Check out the books features on one of the previous guides.
2014’s Books2015’s Books • 2016’s Books


❄️ MUSIC & AUDIO

Allicorn's Into The Cold WasteInto The Cold Waste
£5.00 ($6.67 USD) (Digital Download)
Inspired by the Dream Cycle/Dreamlands from Lovecraft’s often ignored Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath, this album from Allicorn feels like the soundtrack for a movie that should exist. It’s haunting and vast, taking you on a journey that reaches from the deck of the White Ship to the spires of Ngranek itself.


The Dukes Of Alhazred by The Darkest of the Hillside ThicketsThe Dukes Of Alhazred by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
$10.00 CAD + Shipping (CD) $10.00 CAD (Digital Download)
After a decade the latest album from The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets has arrived and fans of the Lovecraftian themed stone rock band won’t be disappointed. It’s catchy, it’s weird, it’s cosmic horror rock. (Make sure to check out the instrumental track Erich Zahn, it’s quite good.)


The Picture in the House LP - PIGAFETTA'S JOURNAL VARIANTThe Picture in the House LP – PIGAFETTA’S JOURNAL VARIANT
$35.00 + Shipping
Cadabra Records specialize in limited presses of weird fiction audiobook records. Quality and details matter and they make sure the art and presentation are perfect for the collector. This latest release features Lovecraft’s The Picture in the House, read by the indomitable Andrew Leman and scored by the amazingly talented Fabio Frizzi.


The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft - Special EditionThe Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft – Special Edition
$75.00 + Shipping
New this year from the HPL Historical Society, this collection of all—yes, every single one—of Lovecraft’s audiobooks comes in its own neat USB stick featuring a silhouette portrait of the father of cosmic horror himself. Over 50 hours of Lovecraftian terror, perfect for your holiday.


Not finding any music or audio that interests you? Check out one of the previous guides.
2014’s Music • 2015’s Music • 2016’s Music


❄️ APPAREL

NecronomiCon Providence Sigil PatchNecronomiCon’s Providence Sigil Patch
$3.00 + Shipping
Love patches and haven’t been able to attend NecronomiCon in Rhode Island? Well, Lovecraft Arts & Sciences’ still sell the con’s sigil as a patch. The patch combines the Eye of Providence with the Elder Sign and is embroidered with a gold metallic thread on a black 2″ patch.


Bell Caravan Patch Now Available

Bell Caravans Patch
$5.00 + Shipping (Order by Dec. 10th for Christmas Delivery.)
This beautiful 3″ patch, designed by illustrator Sean Cumiskey, is the perfect way of declaring your loyalty to your beloved caravan master. Put it on your backpack, a tote, or display it on the sleeve of your jacket, just make sure the world knows who you roll with. [From the pages of the Bell Forging Cycle.]


H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Hard Enamel PinH.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Hard Enamel Pin
$10.00 + Shipping
This Lovecraft Cthulhu hard enamel pin measures 1.5″ tall and comes in a deep green that makes the tentacles glisten!  Each pin comes on the backing card with a rubber clutch. (I recommend upgrading to a locking pin back.) Enamel pins aren’t your thing? The same design is available as teeshirts, stickers, and more.


Cthulhu's ChurchCthulhu’s Church Teeshirt
$30.00 + Shipping
I don’t feature many graphic tees. But this design from Gianni Corniola mimicking the style of stained glass you might find in a gothic church was stunning enough I felt it deserved a bit of attention. It’s a step above most cosmic horror tee shirts.


Cthulhu Idol Necklace (Brass)Cthulhu Idol Necklace
$31.95 + Shipping
Since the publishing of Call of Cthulhu, there has been a lot of Cthulhu idol designs. Everyone has their own vision of Uncle Angell’s horror in clay. This little pendant was a unique take. It’s subtle and effective, it feels ancient but it’s not overdesigned. The sort of thing you’d imagine someone driven to madness would create.


Bell Caravans HoodieBell Caravans Hoodie
$55.00 + Shipping
Join the caravan with this classic zip hoodie with a warm fleece lining. The full Bell Caravans logo designed by Sean Cumiskey is on the back, while the small wheel-and-bell symbol resides on the front. Stay warm, look good, fight the Firsts. [From the pages of the Bell Forging Cycle.]


Cthulhu Silicone MaskCthulhu Silicone Mask
$750.00 + Shipping
Elevate your cosplay game with this terrifying realistic silicon mask sculpted by Andrew Freeman. Created with quality in mind this mask moves and jiggles with a stomach-churning reality. Comes in a variety of colors from “flesh” (pictured) to even stranger patterns. It’s the perfect mask to help you fully realize your character.


Not finding any apparel you like? Check out apparel on one of the previous guides.
2014’s Apparel • 2015’s Apparel • 2016’s Apparel


❄️ GAMES

Manimal SanctuaryManimal Sanctuary – iOS
Free! (Digital Download)
Hard to pin down, Manimal Sanctuary is not a game so much as it’s an experience. You play the role of a benevolent creature watching and devouring the emotion as you following the lives of several characters struggling in a world devoured by gibbering monstrosities. Worth the play. Available on Android. (Low-end VR platform like Google Cardboard required.)


Cultist SimulatorCultist Simulator
$14.00 (Digital Download)
Beginnings have to start somewhere, Alexis Kennedy (creator of Sunless Sea) explores the rise of a Lovecraft-esque cult in a strange little card game. I backed it on Kickstarter, played the Alpha, and fell in love. It’s engaging, its story and its world are rich and fresh, and I can’t wait for its release.


Sunless SkiesSunless Skies
$24.99 (Early Access Digital Download)
Failbetter Games takes the sequel to Sunless Sea from the endless night of Fallen London to the very stars themselves. For Queen and Country, you must explore the Victorian steam-punk skies of the High Wilderness as captain of your own spacefaring locomotive.


Resin Cthulhu Mini175mm Resin Cthulhu Miniture
€46.11 ($55.00 USD) + Shipping
Spice up your next tabletop gaming session with the greatest of great old ones. Spice up your players next encounter with The Revenant of R’lyeh, The Motivator of Madness, The Despair from the Deep, The One, The Only, Cthuuuuuullllhuuuuuu. [Crowd goes insane.]


Arkham Horror Premium FiguresArkham Horror Premium Figures
$62.91—$191.52 + Shipping
If you’re like me, you’re obsessed with the Arkham Horror line of boardgames from Fantasy Flight. (I’m a big fan of Mansions of Madness.) Like me, you might not have the time to paint their lovely little figures. Well, lucky for us, they offer a selection of premium painted figures.


Not finding a game you’d enjoy? Check out the games on one of the previous guides.
2014’s Games • 2015’s Games • 2016’s Games


❄️ HOUSEWARES

Cthulelf!Cthulelf!
Free! (Digital Download)
Writer, cartoonist, and all-around rad person Kate Leth created this adorable little monstrosity for your home! As she says: “The old one rises from R’lyeh to wish you a merry and festive holiday season!” Print yours out and make your home a bit more festive. Check out Kate’s other work as well.


Innsmouth Olde AleInnsmouth Olde Ale
$13.00 (Per Six-Pack)
This holiday season, when you crack open a cold one, have yourself a ‘Gansett. The latest from Narragansett Brewing Company’s Lovecraft series is names after Innsmouth and is a toasty and malted English-style Olde Ale. Something you might find served in Gilman House perhaps?


Cedric's Eatery 11oz. MugCedric’s Eatery 11oz. Mug
$16.00 + Shipping (Order by Dec. 10th for Christmas Delivery.)
It’s cold out and you need a new mug. Why not pick one up from Lovat’s own Cedric’s Eatery located in the entresol between Levels Three and Four. An in-between place for in-between folks. Waldo Bell’s latest hangout. Fill your mug with 11 oz. of bad coffee, your favorite tea, or something stronger. [From the pages of the Bell Forging Cycle.]


Nightgaunt StatuetteNightgaunt Statuette
$25.00 + Shipping
Your bookshelf deserves this little guardian of Ngranek. If he protected the infamous mountain on the isle of Oriab deep within the Dreamlands then he can protect your hardcover collection. Let this little fella carry you away, the way his cousins carried away a young H.P. Lovecraft.


Handmade Cthulhu MugHandmade Cthulhu Mug
$40.00 + Shipping
Whether your drink is coffee, tea, beer, wine, or something a bit stronger don’t you believe your beverage of choice deserves a mug as unique as your interests? Why not pick up this (very) limited handmade Cthulhu mug featuring the great old one gripping a human skull in his mouth tentacles, then smugly challenge all beverages.


Eldritch PipesEldritch Pipes
Prices & Availability Varies
These gorgeous pipes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. They are almost too beautiful to use with each shape being as unique as those who wield them. The pipe pictured is “The Cultist” and is sadly no longer available but there is always a rotating stock so keep your eyes peeled.


Not finding a houseware item you like?
Check out the housewares from one of the previous guides.
2016’s Housewares •


❄️ MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY

Miskatonic Challenge CoinAntarctic Expedition Challenge Coin
$25.00 + Shipping
Challenge Coins have been growing in popularity in fandom (I “blame,” 99% Invisible). So it only makes sense that the Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition be immortalized in a coin of its own. Make sure you have it on you, you never know who might call for a coin check.


Miskatonic University 1928 Lapel PinSterling Silver Miskatonic University 1928 Lapel Pin
$29.00 + Shipping
If you’re looking for something a bit on the fancy side, consider this 3/4″ sterling silver lapel pin from Badali Jewelry featuring the 1928 Miskatonic University seal. Also available as a tie-tack if you’re one of those people who is forced to wear ties unironically.


Miskatonic Varsity HoodieMiskatonic Varsity Zip Hoodie
$75.00 + Shipping
As a student of Miskatonic University, you’re proud of your alma mater. We all know it. So, why not wear your pride on your shoulders? This high-quality hoodie is the perfect way to show school spirit and comes with a varsity pin of your choice to celebrate your accomplishments.


Not finding any Miskatonic stuff you like?
Check out the Miskatonic University items from one of the previous guides.
2014’s Miskatonic • 2015’s Miskatonic • 2016’s Miskatonic


❄️ Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! ❄️

Do you have a book, game, or other Lovecraftian product I should feature in next years Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide? Leave a comment below or send me an email!


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An OryCon 39 Debriefing

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

It’s time for a convention debriefing! A few weekends ago I attended OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It was the smallest convention I’ve attended since 2014’s SpoCon. That isn’t necessarily bad; there are a lot of things to like about smaller conventions. Like Norwescon 40, I attended as a panelist and skipped running a table. So for the OryCon highlights, I think it’d be best to follow in Norwescon 40’s footsteps and break it down day by day.


⛅️ Friday, Day 1

Readings moved to 216
OryCon 39 Readings moved to 216

I left Seattle early and arrived at the hotel around noon. I checked it and saw a fellow author and pal of mine, Elliot Kay. (Go buy his books.) I had a few panels that day. The highlight was the discussion on Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting. My fellow panelists—Elliot among them—were fantastic. The room was full. The conversation was lively. I thought it was great.

Afterward, Elliot and I sat in on Economics in Fantasy. It’s something I thought about a lot while working on Coal Belly, so I was pleased to see it as a topic for discussion. Due to its location near the lobby, the room was a bit noisy, but the panelists were knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the discussion and debate.

I did a reading from The Stars Were Right later that evening. It went well, but it was sparsely attended. Readings had been moved last minute and were in an offshoot room adjacent to a suite. It’s wasn’t ideal. I think it cut down on foot traffic. It was the smallest reading I’ve done. But those who sat in the room seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun.

Afterward, I sat in on another reading and then a reader of mine, and I chatted about the Bell Forging Cycle for a long while. (Thanks, Michael.) I’m always happy to talk about Lovat and the Territories. An excellent way to end the night.


🌤 Saturday, Day 2

Most of my programming was later that day. I grabbed brunch with some good friends and wrote a bit before heading to my panels. The highlight of the day was a tossup between Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not? and Fantasy with Non-European settings.

The Nanowrimo panel was lightly attended but was moderated by another friend and fellow author, Lee French. (Go buy her books.) The audience was engaged. I enjoyed everyone’s questions and hearing other’s perspectives. One audience member decided to answer their phone while a panelist was talking and I can’t believe I have to write this: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s rude, and it disrupts others enjoyment of the convention. If you get a phone call, excuse yourself and go outside. It’s respectful to other attendees and the panelists.

Yup it's me, sitting on a panel.
It’s me! Sitting on Fantasy with Non-European settings panel

Fellow author Fonda Lee expertly moderated Fantasy with Non-European settings (go buy her new book, Jade City, I’m reading it right now and quite enjoying it.) The room was full, and I loved the panel. It was the highlight of my convention. The discussion was stimulating, and my fellow panelists were whipsmart. I learned a lot. I also came away with a ton of great reading recommendations.

My pal Sky came north from Portland, and he spent most of the day with me. Together we hit up some panels, one on Audiobook Technique Presentation with Matt Haynes which was great, and another titled Why Urban Fantasy Matters. It’s always good to have someone to discuss panels with afterward, and I’m grateful Sky came out, his presence made the day better.


🌥 Sunday, Day 3

View from my office for three days
View from my OryCon office for three days

My last day was a quiet one. Not uncommon for most conventions, attendees are exhausted and hungover, and things tend to move a bit slower. I only had one panel, Overturning the Cart: Revolution in Fantasy, and it was one of the first for the day. When my fellow panelists and I arrived, we were worried few would show up. But people began to trickle in. While small, it ended up being a pretty damn fine panel. The audience was engaged. The questions towards the end were great. It was a robust way to end my three days at Orycon.


I arrived home tired but feeling pretty good about the convention and the people I met. It’s proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday delayed this post, and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. If I’m invited back to OryCon, I’d like to get more involved. I’d also like to spend some time gaming. The Call of Cthulhu sessions always clashed with panels, and I wanted to sit in on a game, it’s been far too long.

Smaller conventions are more intimate than their larger siblings, the pace is a bit slower, it’s easier to find parking, panels don’t fill as fast, and attendees are more willing to stop and chat. You don’t feel like flotsam adrift in a sea of SFF-loving bodies. Instead, it’s more akin to a large gathering of friends hanging out and celebrating the stuff they love. You should go next year.

Thanks for a great convention OryCon. I had a blast.


Want to read about my past con experiences from this year? Check out my debriefings from Norwescon 40 and Lilac City Comicon 2017. I’m still planning out my 2018 schedule; have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →