Look West, dear roader.

Echoes & Updates

Part of the fun with events like this is discovering the trail yourself. That said, things have been somewhat quiet (at least on here.) So a small post to energize the stalwart few still dedicated to discovery wouldn’t be remiss. If you’re one of the marked who’s taken it upon themselves to follow the clues, a big one dropped today over on Instagram.

As always the repository has been updated. Diligence.

Shirley Jackson

Use Fear

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”

Shirley Jackson


Most of us have read Jackson’s famous short story, The Lottery. But, since it’s October and the perfect season for spooky reading, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, easily one of the greatest ghost stories ever written.

👻

Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and Fire

Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and Fire

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Reviews: A Song of Ice and FireThe Author: George R. R. Martin
Work in Question: A Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones
The Profanity: “Seven Hells”

It’s easy to dismiss George R. R. Martin’s epic as just another fantasy. After all, it has all the trappings. But Martin likes to ground these in a grim reality that make the struggles and conflict on the page feel real—almost historical. This is especially incorporated through his in-world religions as well. From the strange faces of the old gods carved into the sides of weirwood trees, to the Drowned God of the men of the Iron Isles, and to the Andal’s Faith of the Seven—with any faith, oaths generally follow. So it’s no surprise Martin went with “seven hells” as his inworld mild-profanity replacement.

As a mild oath, it’s fine. Seven kingdoms, seven gods, seven heavens, seven hells—it makes sense. Likewise, it doesn’t stray too far from English’s own oaths, so there is a recognition factor that comes into play. The familiarity of this profanity is understandable, as in his writing Martin tends to stick reasonably close to actual real-world history and mythology in his work. That makes his bleak world feel more adjacent to our own which works in its favor. All that said, while this is recognizable, it’s not especially original. But it’s not a word to pull you out of the story. Instead, it allows you to glide right past one grim tragedy and onto the next.

Score:  (3.0)

Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Happy October

Happy October

It’s raining outside and my favorite month of the year is finally here, so I’m in a pretty good mood this morning. October is also the month where I usually debut new stuff. While no new books are coming this year, I do have a few announcements I’ll be making. Those lucky Dead Drop subscribers will get to hear it first, and you still have time to join their ranks.

Until all that happens, here’s a fantastic interview with Aldous Huxley that everyone should take time to watch. (Hat tip to Mike Glyer over at File 770 who shared this yesterday.)

Happy October folks!

Learning to Say "No"

Learning to Say ‘No’

Distraction is one of my biggest struggles; something I grapple with on a daily basis. A few days ago, I posted how we as creatives need to choose to make time for our craft. I referred to time as the “currency for creation.” But there’s another metaphor that works just as well: time is the medium from which we craft our creative work. Without time we cannot produce—everything else: charcoal, oil paint, clay, wood, words, everything, is secondary to time. Yet, in an ever-connected world finding those moments can often feel difficult and overwhelming. When we do find the time it’s often fleeting, and we’re bogged down by distraction.

Those called to creation understand this on a very personal level. Obligations already eat away at the narrow slivers of time from which we hone our craft. And the siren call of distraction is always there to lure us away. Occupying oneself into idleness is easy. At the end of the day, the week, the month, the year one looks back and find themselves unfulfilled and wonders: what happened?


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’ At first, it’s terrifying. In our culture of ‘yes’ a word like ‘no’ sounds final. (It’s not, but that doesn’t matter.) Your friends won’t get it. The family won’t understand. Entertainment and Social Media hate hearing ‘no,’ they feed off distraction. Our phones are abuzz with alerts demanding attention. The 24-hour news cycle wants you to believe everything is a crisis. Click ‘yes’ to receive alerts for this random website. It’s endless. Empathy for the creator—when it exists at all—is ephemeral. Dreams and drives get brushed aside as frivolous whims. Oh, that. That’s just a hobby. Nothing will come of that. Do that instead. Watch this. Come here. Go there. Play this. Guilt and shame are wielded with selfish abandon. But it’s for you! They say when really it’s for them.


It was so dumb I had to do it.

Facing those pressures is difficult. We’ve all crumbled and given in, and those slivers of time are lost forever. You don’t get them back. Hence, the lesson of ‘no.’ Learning to say ‘no’ allows us to set boundaries. It establishes what is important and it set priorities. It’s the first step in building a routine, making the work habitual, and living in the moment.

To be effective ‘no’ is something every creator has to master. Shut out the distractions. No, Twitter isn’t important. No, you don’t need to watch that latest reboot on Netflix. No, you don’t need to make that phone call. No, brunch isn’t necessary this weekend. Face the pressure head on, stand your ground, and make the choices for what matters to you. It’s important for our mental health. It’s important for the work. It’s important for creation. ‘No’ lets us carve out moments in time, and after all, time is the true medium.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. Alexander

Want 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 Midsommar Dream

The Midsommar Dream

My friend Redd Walitzki is a wonderfully talented artist who blends watercolor, oil painting, and mixed media on laser-cut panel to create detailed and incredibly vibrant works of art. On September 22nd she launched her latest solo show, The Midsommar Dream at Haven Gallery, in New York. It’s stunning and worth checking out.

I’ve long been a fan of Redd’s work, but this series, in particular, stands out. There is something personal at play in each piece, but that intimate disclosure interlocks with a compelling narrative. The series is more than just magical creatures dancing through a lush dreamscape, Midsommar serves as a treatise on reality itself and the dreams that push at its boundaries.

I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Click on any of them to view larger. Be sure to head on over to Haven Gallery’s website where you can see the whole show.



The Midsommar Dream runs through October 27th, so if you’re in the New York area (particularly Long Island), then I highly recommend visiting. Redd’s use of vibrant color is beautiful on screen but it strongest in person. Be sure to contact the gallery with inquiries about any particular piece.

You can see more of Redd’s past work at her website. Also be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and make sure you subscribe to her newsletter.