All posts by K. M. Alexander

About K. M. Alexander

K. M. Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native and novelist living and working in Seattle with his wife, two dogs, and two rabbits. His work explores nontraditional settings within speculative fiction, bending and blending genres to create rich worlds and unique approachable characters.

Four Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

Four Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

If you read my blog, odds are you’re a book lover. And like most book lovers, we all have our favorite writers—folks whose next book we’re eagerly awaiting, authors we reference to exhaustion, and people whose books we’ve read over and over and over. (As of today, for me, that’s Daniel Price’s final chapter in his Silvers trilogy, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and all of China Miéville Bas-Lag books.) The holiday season is the perfect time to continue to support your favorite creators. Below I’ve listed four ways to further support your favorite storyteller (and only one costs money.)

Buy Their Books as Gifts1. Buy Their Books as Gifts

You already own the book yourself, and you probably don’t need two copies on your shelf. But, if you love a book, chances are someone else will as well! Why not gift your friends and family the work of your favorite author? It’s a great way to help influence the growth of an author’s audience, and the added sales will look great when they pitching their next novel to publishers.

Leave Reviews2. Leave Reviews

Reviews are vital to the author/reader relationship. But reviews aren’t for the writer, reviews are for other readers. Your honest thoughts and opinions can convince other readers to pick up the work of your favorite author, and in turn, it can help grow a fanbase. More reviews also unlock opportunities for authors to connect with new markets. They don’t have to be long detailed book reports; a quick review of a few sentences works as well as a long one. (As a reader, I actually prefer them.) So fire up Goodreads or pop over to the ol’ Amazon and let the world know how you felt about your favorite books.

Share Their Work Online3. Share Their Work Online

Most people are active on social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, or perhaps you run a blog like this one. No matter your follower count, you can help out the creators you admire by share their work with others. Talk about your favorite books over the years. Share a passage you love. Draw fan art! Do interviews! Share book! Like reviews, sharing can help expand an author’s audience.

Request Their Books at Your Local Library4. Request Their Books at Your Local Library

Libraries want books people want to read! If your favorite author isn’t there, why not ask the library to stock their books? Many people rely on libraries for discovering new work, and you can help widen your favorite author’s reach with a simple request. Your library will appreciate the effort, and so will your fellow readers.


That’s it! If you’re looking for a way to continue to support your favorite author this holiday season, why not try one of these simple tips? Three of them don’t even cost money, they take very little time, and all of them can have a significant impact on an author’s success. This holiday season, take time to support the creators you appreciate.

❄️🎄❄️


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 →

Raunch Review: Babylon 5

Raunch Review: Babylon 5

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 Review: Babylon 5
Raunch Review: Babylon 5
The Author: J. Michael Straczynski
Work in Question: Babylon 5
The Profanity: “Frag”

Look, it gives me no great pleasure in going after an incredible and beloved science fiction show for faux-profanity related gaffs. And it’s no secret that censor-slips aren’t looked at too kindly around here. But they’re familiar, and if I have to deal with them, you do as well. It’s in the rules or something. Babylon 5’s “frag” is yet one more embarrassment in a long-running tradition among television, so we all knew it’d eventually have its day.

We all know what’s implied. It’s not cute, nor is it all that clever. With one notable exception (“Shazbot”), censor-slips tend to be unimaginative and lazy, and we see that here as well. Four letter word, starts with “f,” you get the idea—nudge nudge, wink wink.

But, “Frag” is worse. Since the Vietnam War, it has become common military slang—and because this is a show with a substantial military theme, we see it used as both a censor slip and in its traditional sense. Which only makes it weirder and adds in awkwardness. It’s easy to see the ingredients that lead to it, but in the end, it does little to enhance the universe of Babylon 5—if anything, its mishmash use takes something away, and that’s the worst disservice dialog can perform within a story.

Score: Half Swear (0.5)

🤬 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 it’ll take a little while before it ends up here. I have a lot of books to read.


The 2019 Cosmic Horror Holiday Gift Guide

The 2019 Cosmic Horror Holiday Gift Guide

It’s Black Friday in the United States, the crawling chaos of American holidays, and the List of Lists is back for its sixth year! Once again, I’ve assembled a highly curated collection of Lovecraft-related items for your holiday season. Here you can find a plethora of paraphernalia for the weird-fiction fanatic, cosmic-horror connoisseur, or mythos maniac in your life. (And maybe a little something for yourself. You need gifts too.) As with previous years, I’ve worked to assemble a list of exceptional items for all ages and budgets.

The list is organized into six categories and ordered by price, making it easy to browse. Have a favorite new-weird, cosmic horror, or mythos-themed item I left off? Leave a comment at the bottom and let everyone know! Appreciate the work I put into this list? Share it with your friends! Happy shopping!

Note: Any Amazon products (mostly the books) were originally linked thru my affiliate program and I’ll receive a small cut. I’m traveling today, but will slowly be changing them to regular links as I have time.


❄️ QUICK LINKS ❄️

Books • Music • Apparel • Games
• Housewares • Miskatonic


❄️ BOOKS

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham JonesMapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
$7.98 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $2.99 (eBook)
Told from 12-year old Junior’s perspective, the story is one part family-struggle and one part ghost-story all woven with a heartfelt earnestness that’s easy to believe and hard to shake. It’s a book about childhood, about family, about heritage, about legacy, and the cost and ramification of all four.


The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by by Kij JohnsonThe Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
$10.30 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $2.99 (eBook)
Professor Vellitt Boe of at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College and her adopted cat, embark on an expansive journey across the Dreamland on the trail of a student who has gone missing after disappearing into the waking world with a lover. Along the way, she’ll encounter old friends as new troubles rumble from the Plateau of Leng.


Agents of Dreamland by by Caitlin R. KiernanAgents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan
$10.60 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $2.99 (eBook)
The mysterious agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. There he meets an unusual contact to exchange information about a bizarre event that happened a week earlier. An event for which neither has an explanation and its ramifications could have far-reaching consequences.


The Stars Were Right by K. M. Alexander
$14.00 + Free Shipping (Paperback) $2.99 (eBook)
With Book Four closing in, now is the perfect time to start reading my Bell Forging Cycle. Follow Waldo Bell as he is sent careening through the multi-level megalopolis of Lovat fighting to clear his name as a bloodthirsty killer stalks him. It’s mystery and monsters, chases and cults, and an ancient evil in a world that is similar but not quite like our own.


A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor JacobsA Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs
$17.99 + Free Shipping (Hardcover) $12.99 (eBook)
Two masterful novellas of cosmic horror in a single volume. Beautiful and haunting, lyrical and evocative, raw and emotional, Jacobs takes cosmic horror to new places exposing our oldest fear while remaining starkly human in the process. One of the best cosmic-horror books in recent memory and one that will haunt you well after you’ve put it aside.


The Grand Dark by Richard KadreyThe Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
$19.50 + Free Shipping (Hardcover) $12.99 (eBook)
This standalone weird fiction novel takes us into the industrial post-war world of Lower Proszawa and its drug-filled and soot-drenched streets teeming with all manner of strange inhabitants. Here we meet a bike messenger named Largo who discovers that peace runs along a knife-edge and a new war always looms on the horizon.


The House on the Borderland First EditionThe House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
$400 + Free Shipping (Hardcover, 1946 First Edition)
“The true note of cosmic horror.” A treasure for any collector. A rare first edition published by Arkham House in 1946. Details from the seller: Black cloth lettered in gilt, fine with age-toned pages in head-chipped dust jacket, else Very Good with crease along top of front panel, dulled spine panel, toned and lightly soiled back panel.


Not finding a book you like? Check out the books featured on one of the previous guides.
2014’s Books2015’s Books • 2016’s Books2017’s Books2018’s Books


❄️ MUSIC & AUDIO

Black Stage of Night by Atrium Carceri & Cities Last BroadcastBlack Stage of Night by Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast
$7.00 (Digital Download) $19.00 (Compact Disc)
I’ve been enjoying the direction in these collaborative albums from some of the industry’s best ambient artists. Black Stage of Night might be the best. It’s firmly dark ambient, and the classic sounds are there, but in this record, the collaborators weave a cinematic layer throughout. It’s an enthralling listen. Lately, it’s become my go-to music when I write.


Eldritch by Markus JunnikkalaEldritch by Markus Junnikkala
€7.00 ($7.71 USD) (Digital Download)
Often Lovecraftian music is associated with metal, and while that’s not a bad thing, I found it refreshing to hear this dark orchestral approach from Finnish composer Markus Junnikkala. Ethereal and haunting, I found myself drawn to this album again and again.


Cosmicism by The Great Old OnesCosmicism by The Great Old Ones
$9.99 (Digital Download) €25.00 + Shipping ($27.50) (2x LP Green)
This French atmospheric black metal band uses the works of cosmic horror authors like Robert Chambers and H.P. Lovecraft as the basis for their lyrics and album themes. Not my style, but their skills are clearly impressive, the music engaging, and they get suggested yearly. If you’re a metal-head or shopping for one this holiday season, do yourself a favor and check ’em out.


An Abhorrent and Ancient SolsticeAn Abhorrent and Ancient Solstice by HPLHS
$12.00 (Digital Download)
I’ve featured the Arkham Carolers before, but this year they’ve put together a collection of 24 of their very best cosmic horror Christmas carols. I’ve always enjoyed a well-done parody, and the HPLS goes all out with this collection. Plus, it includes one of my favorites of theirs: A Brumalian Wish. Festive! Creepy! (Crestive?)


Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock OperaDreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera
$18.92 + Shipping (CD) $35.00 + Shipping (Vinyl)
Who doesn’t love rock operas? Everyone loves them! (Fact.) Thanks to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the holidays are the perfect time to give rock operas to friends and family or pick one up for yourself. Why not give one built around the Lovecraftian story The Dream in the Witch House. It’s marvelous for a holiday jam out session or a multidimensional trip with Auntie Mason.


Cadabra Records' H. P. Lovecraft's the Colour out of Space 2x Lp SetH. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space 2x LP Set
$42.00 + Shipping (Vinyl)
Cadabra Records makes some of the finest vinyl recordings on the market today, and this 2x LP set featuring one of Lovecraft’s most beloved stories is read by the talented Andrew Leman, with a score by Chris Bozzone is no exception. Well worth a place in any vinyl-loving cosmic-horror fan’s collection. (Note: these are preorders, and the final pressing will ship in 4-6 weeks.)


Not finding any music or audio that interests you? Check out one of the previous guides.
2014’s Music • 2015’s Music • 2016’s Music2017’s Music2018’s Music


❄️ APPAREL


Cthulhu Mask Papercraft Template PDFCthulhu Mask Papercraft Template PDF
$4.00 (Digital Download)
I’ve always appreciated the simple geometrics of papercraft masks—reminds me of brutalist architecture. Plus with a little effort, you can make yourself a fun costume for next to nothing. This instant download PDF template will provide you the instructions to become the dreamer beneath the waves.


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, make sure the world knows who you roll with. [From the pages of the Bell Forging Cycle.]


King in Yellow PinThe King in Yellow Pin
$15.00 + Shipping
Stranger: I wear no pin.
Camilla: [terrified, aside to Cassilda] No pin? No pin!
Based on a woodcut by the incredibly talented Liv Rainey-Smith, this pin of the King in Yellow is rendered in bronze and stands at 1.5 inches. If you dig this, I highly recommend checking out Rainey-Smith’s woodcuts as well.


The Crate of Cthulhu Cult RingThe Crate of Cthulhu Cult Ring
$26.66 + Shipping
The Mysterious Package Company makes incredible products, and this ring from their Crate of Cthulhu experience (which would also make a great gift) is a fabulous piece. A strange ring bearing an equally strange symbol. It is believed that the followers of Cthulhu used this ring as a weapon to inject poison into those who come too close to the truth.


Cthulhu Short Sleeve Button-up ShirtCthulhu Short Sleeve Button-up Shirt
$55.00 + Shipping
When it’s time to put away the graphic tees and slip into something more fashionable, consider this 100% cotton shirt from Middle of Beyond. Covered in an all-over print featuring the ol’ dreamer popping up from the ocean to yell at a boat, this shirt makes the bold statement of a graphic-tee but with a touch of collared class.


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.]


Ascension Island Aloha Shirt
$315.00 + Shipping
Here it is, folks. The Cthulhu rayon shirt you always wanted. Nine Lives Brand is producing an extremely limited run, and each shirt is made to order. So if you need an Aloha shirt to go with that Cthulhu tiki mug you bought last year, look no further. Also available in a long-sleeved version. Like this print? It’s also available as the lining of this $1250 Sashiko bomber coat.


Not finding any apparel you like? Check out apparel on one of the previous guides.
2014’s Apparel • 2015’s Apparel • 2016’s Apparel2017’s Apparel2018’s Apparel


❄️ GAMES


A Place for the UnwillingA Place for the Unwilling
$14.99 (Digital Download)
Time is running out. Shadows linger in the streets. The city will die in 21 days in this open-world branching narrative game from ALpixel Games. A fascinating game with a unique art style, intriguing premise, and enjoyable gameplay. A bit of Sunless Sea, Majora’s Mask, and a dash of Lovecraft. Time is ticking, how will you spend your final days in the city?


Gibbous - A Cthulhu AdventureGibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure
$19.99 (Digital Download)
Crazy cultists. Cthulhu. A talking cat. Gibbous takes you on an expansive, traditionally animated, hand-painted adventure. Play as three protagonists and explore a lushly rendered Lovecraft-inspired world, unraveling ancient conspiracies. A comedy cosmic horror adventure made in Transylvania! (I backed this on Kickstarted, and I can confirm it’s a lot of fun.)


Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video GameCall of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game
$24.50 + Free Shipping
Focus Interactive did a decent job with this charming retelling of classic Lovecraftian fiction. It’s an investigative game, with a few action elements that blend several of the mythos’ more popular stories to create a game that weaves a fascinating tale about cults and murder, art and madness, and serves up a few unnerving scenes in the process.


Call of Cthulhu: Starter SetCall of Cthulhu: Tabletop RPG Starter Set
$24.99 + Shipping
It’s the beloved cosmic-horror tabletop role-playing experience in a handy starter set. Using the new 7th Edition rules, you can lead you investigators on their next case as they seek to solve the unthinkable and face the mysteries from beyond. Inside you’ll find everything you need to start playing the granddaddy of tabletop horror.


Lovecraft LetterLovecraft Letter
$29.99 + Shipping

Set in the chaos following World War 1, this 20-minute card game built on the Love Letter system sends 2-6 players on the hunt for a missing family member who has discovered something ominous beneath the sands of Egypt. Will you help solve the mystery or aid in ushering the chaos that looms?


Dogmight Black Walnut Cthulhu Valhalla ScreenBlack Walnut Cthulhu Valhalla Screen
$486.00 + Shipping
These custom Dungeon Master screens are lovingly detailed and perfect for your next Call of Cthulhu session. An easy magnetic design, embedded magnets, plexiglass panels.  Combine it with handy accessories, and you’ll be game masterin’ in style. Feeling over Cthulhu’d—I understand—while sold out, they do take custom The Masks of Nyarlathotep orders.


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 Games2017’s Games2018’s Games


❄️ HOUSEWARES


Cthulhu Xmas Gift Wrap PackCthulhu Xmas Gift Wrap Pack
$15.00 + Shipping
Why not deviate from the norm for your gifts this year. Wrap your presents in 18″x 24″ sheets of Lovecraftian wrapping paper designed by Daniel Gelon featuring the fantastic art of Heather Hudson. Want something a little more unusual than the standard Cthulhu flair? Hudson also sells Dreamland-themed Christmas cards, and delightful Krampus-themed holiday goodies.


Cthulhu OrnamentCthulhu Ornament
$20.00 + Shipping
I’m always wary of sharing Etsy products, not because the work isn’t incredible, but because during the Holiday pieces may disappear quickly. But if this wonderful Cthulhu ornament vanishes before you can nab it, there’s plenty of other beautiful works at Dellamorteco & Co.’s shop. It’s all fantastic work and worth checking it all out.


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.]


Cthulhu Coin SetCthulhu Coin Set
$28.50 + Shipping
Props are a fun way to enliven any tabletop session or the holidays, so this set of 24 coins (ten copper pieces, eight silver pieces, and six gold pieces) is perfect for your next game or family get together. Bargain for souls or leftover turkey with your Aunt, or buy your nephew’s gift from him with handcrafted coinage. Capitalism doesn’t cease under the reign of the ancient ones.


H.P. Lovecraft - Limited Edition Bobblehead

H. P. Lovecraft Limited Edition Bobblehead
$34.95 + Shipping
It’s a well-known fact that everyone loves bobbleheads, even the deep ones! Limited to only 1500 units, this figuring from Rue Morgue Magazine of the father of cosmic horror in all his New England awkwardness stands at 7″ tall, is ready to wobble and bobble on your bookshelf, as he questions humanity’s place in the cosmos.


Calamityware Plate 7: TentaclesCalamityware: Tentacles
$42.00 + Shipping
Something has awoken. Commemorate its reign with these porcelain plates patterned after the elaborate chinoiserie pattern Willow. But, instead of featuring idyllic scenes these highlight various disasters from invasions of Lovecraftian-esque tentacles (featured) to historical sea monsters, vortexes, or zombie poodles. Not what you’re looking for? There’s more coming.


Adam Wallacavage, Chandelier I, 2017Chandelier I
$3500.00 + Shipping
Philadelphia artist Adam Wallacavage creates stunning tentacle-covered chandeliers and lamps in clay and resin. If you’re looking for a nontraditional piece for your home that’ll keep guests talking for generations, you can’t really find anything better. If this beautiful chandelier is a bit out of your budget, Wallacavage also creates unusual candlestick holders.


Not finding a houseware item you like?
Check out the housewares from one of the previous guides.
2016’s Housewares • 2017’s Housewares2018’s Housewares


❄️ MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY


Miskatonic University Silver Key Society pin

Miskatonic University Silver Key Society pin
$17.99 + Shipping
Formed by Henry Armitage in 1929 after the events in rural Dunwich, this pin marks the membership into Miskatonic’s oldest invite-only society. Will you join and learn the mysteries of the order, including the meaning of “751”? Pin measures 1″ across and is dual-plated in silver and gold.


Miskatonic University PennantMiskatonic University Pennant
$25.00 + Free Shipping
What’s the collegiate experience without some collegiate gear? Here we have a classic 9″ x 27″ university pennant to either hang on your wall displaying your boundless love for your alma mater’s sporting teams or to wave at all the intermural sporting events as you sing the fight song and cheer on varsity. Go Miska!


Miskatonic University CufflinksMiskatonic University Cufflinks
$99.00 + Shipping
2019 marks the ninetieth class reunion for the class of ’29! So you’ll want to be sure to look your best so you can impress your fellow centenarian schoolmates. These cufflinks will be perfect. The cufflinks are sterling silver with an antiqued finish and measure 18.2 mm in diameter and 1.5 mm thick.


The Miskatonic PapersThe Miskatonic Papers
$535.00 + Shipping
This limited-edition experimental art book/prop set from Angel Bomb studios is something to behold. Composed of 50 printed pieces, including letters, telegrams, drawings, newspaper clippings, a broadside, burned tatters of found stationery, and a journal that was written by hand and printed by letterpress. An incredible gift for the mythos fan in your life.


Not finding any Miskatonic stuff you like?
Check out the Miskatonic University items from one of the previous guides.
2014’s Miskatonic U. • 2015’s Miskatonic U. • 2016’s Miskatonic U.
2017’s Miskatonic U.2018’s Miskatonic U.


❄️ Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! ❄️

So that wraps up the Sixth Annual List of Lists. Big thank you to the wonderful folks who read this blog, and the gibbering weirdos over at r/Lovecraftr/Cthulhu, and r/WeirdLit who helped me pad out this list. Y’all rule. If I didn’t get to your submission, fret not, there are many more holidays ahead. I appreciate the help.

Do you have a book, game, album, or other weird fiction-related items I should feature in 2020’s Cosmic Horror Holiday Gift Guide? Leave a comment below with links to your favorite goodies for others to see or send me an email as a submission for next year!


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 →

Gifting My Books for the 2018 Holidays

Gifting My Books for the 2019 Holidays

It’s been a bit of an odd year, and strangely, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. And somehow I’m in Hawaii for the holiday? (I’m not complaining, mind.) Despite the 80º weather outside once again, the holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to answer questions about how you can acquire my books for yourself, friends, or family. Much of this remains the same as last year, but there are a few small differences. As always, I break it down into signed paperbacks, regular paperbacks, and gifting ebooks.


Want Signed or Personalized Books?

🖋 Want Signed/Personalized Books?

Order from my store where I sell and ship signed and personalized books. The 2019 deadline to order is December 11th, which is a Wednesday. Any orders beyond December 11th might not get to you in time. (I ship via media mail, and the estimate for that is anywhere from two to ten days.) Remember, this is for US residents only. Shipping internationally is much more complex, and I cannot guarantee Christmas arrival. (Want to work out a different shipping method? Contact me and we can talk.)

I sign everything from my shop, but if you want your books personalized, make sure to leave me a note in the “Notes or Instructions” field during checkout. That’s it! Just click the button below and start shopping.

Order from My Store →

[Note: Due to my personal travel schedule. Order placed between November 27th and December 4th will ship December 6th.]


Ordering Paperbacks From an Online Retailer

📦 Ordering Unsigned Paperbacks from an Online Retailer

Don’t care about signed books? The quickest way to get paperback copies delivered would be by ordering through any of the online retailers. The majority of them offer guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Often they ship for free. (Check their details.) Links to purchase are below.

AmazonBarnes & Noble


Giving eBooks as Gifts

📱Giving eBooks as Gifts

Did you know you can give eBooks as gifts? It’s true! There are options available on every platform except Kobo. So, if there is an eBook reader in your life, you can still send them into the Territories and save yourself a little money in the process. Details for each store below.

Order for Kindle →K. M. Alexander's Books on Amazon Kindle

Instructions:
1. Select the book.
2. Click the “Give as Gift” button.

Order for Nook →K. M. Alexander's Books on Barnes & Noble's Nook

Instructions:
1. Select the book.
2. Click the “Buy as Gift” button.

Order for iBooks →K. M. Alexander's Books on Apple's iBooks

Instructions:
1. Select the book
2. Click “Gift this Book” in the drop-down.

K. M. Alexander's Books on Google PlayOrder for Google Play →

Instructions:
1. Select the book
2. Click “Buy as Gift”


I hope that clarifies the gifting and ordering options for 2019. If you have any questions, you can always leave a comment, or you are welcome to reach out to me via email: hello@kmalexander.com. Thanks for your excitement in the Bell Forging Cycle and your interest in sharing Wal’s adventures with your friends and family. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!

Braun: A Free 16th Century Urban Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy City Maps

Braun: A Free 16th Century Urban Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy City Maps

Many fantasy cartographers were excited when I launched Gomboust, my first brush set focused on the urban environment. I immediately starting making plans to release a second set. After all, what’s a fantasy setting without a wondrous city to explore?

Today I’m proud to release Braun, a 16th-century urban cartography brush set based on the incredible work of Georg Braun take from Civitates orbis terrarum—easily one of the most significant volumes of cartographic antiquity featuring bird’s eye maps of over five hundred and forty Renaissance cities. As you can imagine, this was a massive project, and it involved many more artists and cartographers. (A more extensive list is on Braun’s wiki page.) Georg Braun was the principle on the project, so the naming honor goes to him. Most of the signs extracted for this set came from the prints of Lyon, GhentUtrecht, and a bit from Paris. Every map was a little different, and I focused on making sure the size, print quality, and line work all worked seamlessly together. With so much more out there, I could see a Braun supplement coming in the future as well.

A sample of Braun's brushes

I really like the density represented in these symbols. Every little building is rendered no matter how mundane, and the added detail gives an extra layer of texture to a map. It feels vibrant and alive and has a “lived-in” quality that’s perfect for the right fantastical city map.

As I mentioned when I launched Gomboust, wielding these brushes is more advanced than topographical sets. To capture your vision, you’ll want to plan or at least have a decent knowledge of your tools. Spend some time with the brushes, learn what’s available. Be willing to edit and adjust them, it’ll allow you to make critical decisions and help fully realize your vision.

A second sample of the Braun set

Braun isn’t enormous, but it’s effective. Its simple style and strong linework make repetition harder to spot, especially if symbols are merged and edited together. It includes the following:

  • 20 Single Homes
  • 20 Groups of Homes
  • 40 Small Blocks
  • 30 Large Blocks
  • 35 Unique Blocks
  • 20 Churches
  • 10 Small Bridges
  • 5 Large Bridges
  • 20 Dead Trees
  • 30 Leafy Trees
  • 20 Unique Points of Interest
  • 20 Windmills
  • 10 Crosses
  • 10 Walls
  • 10 Wells
  • 10 Fountains
  • 10 Shadoofs
  • 10 Boats

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work in GIMP) as well as a set of transparent PNGs in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. I’ve separated them by type: City Blocks and Points of Interest & Flora. They’re black, and they’ll look broken if viewed in Chrome, but trust me, they’re all there.


DOWNLOAD BRAUN


As with all of my previous brush sets, Braun is free for any use. I distribute my sets with a Creative Common, No Rights Reserved License (CC0), which means you can freely use this and any of my brushes in commercial work and distribute adaptations. (Details on this decision here.) No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy Braun? Feel free to show me what you created by sending me an email or finding me on Twitter. I love seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers. Let me see what you make!


🌏 Braun In Use

Want to see this brush set in use? I put together a sample map using Braun. There are three versions, a black and white version, one colored, and a decorated sample. Click on any of the images below to view them larger. Perhaps this will inspire you in your projects!

Braun - Example    Braun - Colored    Braun - Decorated


💸 Supporting This Work

If you like the Braun brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my speculative fiction novels. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it. You can find all my books in stores and online. Visit bellforgingcycle.com to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging CycleNot interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.


🗺 More Map Brushes

Braun isn’t the only brush set I’ve released. You can find other free brush sets with a wide variety of styles over on my Free Stuff page. Every set is free, distributed under a CC0 license, and open for personal or commercial use. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that works for your project.

Ogilby - DecoratedOgilby: A Free 17th Century Road Atlas Brush Set

Taken from John Ogilby’s 1675 book Britannia, Volume the First, this set allows the creator to recreate road atlas from the 17th century in stunning detail, placing the traveler’s experience front and center. With over 800 brushes, this is my most extensive set to date and useful for a variety of projects. Several bonus downloads are also available, as well.

Van der Aa Sample Map - DecoratedVan der Aa: An 18th Century Cartography Brush Set

This regional map set is based on a map by Dutch cartographer and publisher, Pieter Van der Aa. It’s a beautifully rendered version of the Mingrelia region of northwest Georgia. While not as extensive as other sets, the size of the map allowed for larger brushes that helps highlight the uniqueness of each symbol. It also features a failed wall!

Gomboust: A 17th Century Urban Cartography Brush Set

My first brush set to focus on creating realistic maps for fantastical urban environments! Gomboust is a huge set, and its symbols are extracted from Jacques Gomboust’s beautiful 1652 map of Paris, France. His style is detailed yet quirky, isometric yet off-kilter, packed with intricacies, and it brings a lot of personality to a project.

Harrewyn: An 18th Century Cartography Brush SetHarrewyn: An 18th Century Cartography Brush Set

Based on Eugene Henry Fricx’s “Cartes des Paysbas et des Frontieres de France,” this set leans into its 1727 gothic styling and its focus on the developed rather than the natural. It’s hauntingly familiar yet strikingly different. If you’re looking for more natural elements, Harrewyn works well alongside other sets as well.

Popple: A Free 18th Century Cartography Brush SetPopple: A Free 18th Century Cartography Brush Set

This set has quickly become a favorite, and it’s perfect for a wide variety of projects. The brushes are taken from 1746’s A Map of the British Empire in America by Henry Popple, and it has a fresh style that does a fantastic job capturing the wildness of a frontier. Plus, it has swamps! And we know swamps have become a necessity in fantasy cartography.

Donia: A Free 17th Century Settlement Brush SetDonia: A Free 17th Century Settlement Brush Set

While not my most extensive set (a little over one hundred brushes), Donia boasts one of the more unique takes on settlements from the 17th century. If you’re looking for flora, I suggest checking out other sets, but if you want to pay attention to your map’s cities, towns, castles, churches, towers, forts, even fountains, then this is the right set for you.

Blaeu: A Free 17th Century Cartography Brush SetBlaeu: A Free 17th Century Cartography Brush Set

Based on Joan Blaeu’s Terræ Sanctæ—a 17th-century tourist map of the Holy Land—this set includes a ton of unique and varied signs as well as a large portion of illustrative cartouches that can add a flair authenticity to any fantasy map. Elegant and nuanced, everything works within a system, but nearly every sign is unique.

Aubers: An 18th Century Cartography Brush SetAubers: An 18th Century Cartography Brush Set

An 18th Century brush set based on a map from 1767 detailing the journey of François Pagès, a French naval officer, who accompanied the Spanish Governor of Texas on a lengthy exploration through Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico. A unique southwestern set with a few interesting deviations—including three volcanos!

L’Isle: An 18th Century Battlefield Brush SetL’Isle: An 18th Century Battlefield Brush Set

A departure from the norm, this set is based on the Plan Batalii map, which was included in a special edition of The First Atlas of Russia in 1745. A detailed view of a battle during the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–1739. Canon! Units! Battles! Perfect for mapping out the combat scenarios in your fantasy stories.

Widman: A 17th Century Cartography Brush SetWidman: A 17th Century Cartography Brush Set

A 17th Century brush set based on the work of Georgio Widman for Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi’s atlas published in 1692. A fantastic example of Cantelli da Vignola’s influence and a solid set for any fantastic map. This is the workhorse of antique map brush sets—perfect for nearly any setting.

Walser: An 18th Century Cartography Brush SetWalser: An 18th Century Cartography Brush Set

An 18th Century brush set based on the work of Gabriel Walser with a focus on small farms and ruins and a robust set of mountains and hills. This is a great brush set to see how Vignola’s influence persisted across generations. It was etched over 80 years after the Widman set, but you’ll find a few familiar symbols within.

Lumbia: A Sketchy Cartography Brush SetLumbia: A Sketchy Cartography Brush Set

A sketchy style brush set I drew myself that focuses on unique hills and mountains and personal customizability. My attempt at trying to channel the sort of map a barkeep would draw for a band of hearty adventurers. It includes extra-large brushes for extremely high-resolution maps.

Lehmann: A Hatchure Brush SetLehmann: A Hatchure Brush Set

Named after Austrian topographer Johann Georg Lehmann creator of the Lehmann hatching system in 1799, this is a path-focused brush set designed for Adobe Illustrator that attempts to captures the hand-drawn style unique 19th Century hachure-style mountains. This set works perfectly in conjunction with my other sets from the late 18th century.


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Gardners, Architects, and... Excavators?

Gardeners, Architects, and… Excavators?

Last night, Kari-Lise attended a conversation with Erin Morgenstern focused around the launch of her new novel, The Starless Sea. I didn’t go—had too much on my plate—but after chatting with her about it, I wish I had made the time. (Isn’t that always the case?)

Based on Kari-Lise’s recounting, during the conversation, Morgenstern hit on something that I strongly feel more writers need to hear. We’ve heard of the term “Gardeners,” authors who plant their stories as seeds and follow those seeds as they grow, and we’ve heard of the term “Architect,” writers who extensively plan their work and follow a tight outline. Both get mentioned all the time. However, Morgenstern doesn’t see herself as either and chooses instead to call herself an “Excavator.”

What that means is, like an archaeologist, she exhumes the story from a mass of writing. She allows herself to fully explore a narrative and then whittle it down in edits. She finds the story by writing and writing and writing. For example, she mentioned that for her bestselling debut, The Night Circus, she wrote pages and pages describing specific locations in the setting, then forced herself in edits to pare things down to a single page. In her most recent book, The Starless Sea, Morgenstern talked about a character who barely gets mentioned in the final manuscript, but one she had written an entire journal for—it let her know the character to their fullest measure. But, in the end, it didn’t serve the story, so she cut it.

She’s mentioned this before but recently explained her approach in an interview with Rachel Barenbaum for Dead Darlings. (I’d encourage you to read the full article.)


“Sometimes it feels more like excavating than building because it’s all there, I just need to figure out how to translate the space into words. I had this sprawling underground library-esque space in my head and it took me a long time to figure out how to wind a narrative through it. I end up writing a lot more than I’ll ever use just to flesh out the world.”


This really resonated with me—what a refreshing approach to creation! So often, we’re reminded to be efficient. We are told throwing away work is a waste of time. Industry-wide we see everyone declare that your next book is what’s more important. It’s the Facebook mantra of “most fast and break things” but applied to storytelling. The Excavator ignores that dogma and serves only the story. It works against the tenets of hustle culture and allows one to fully realize a place, a person, or an event, and it gives permission to take time and to cut what is unnecessary. We say write for yourself, and this is taking that maxim to its furthest reaches. Working as an Excavator—while slower—allows an author to explore a story to its limits, and in the end (based on the quality of Morgenstern’s work), I can see how it makes for a better book.

Maybe we need more than two schools of approach? Perhaps it’s time to add the Excavators into the conversation as another equally valid strategy in writing.


FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: John Atherton, 1975