Category Archives: News

William Pickens

Our Blindness

“To cheapen the lives of any group of men, cheapens the lives of all men, even our own. This is a law of human psychology, or human nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.”

William Pickens


A lot has been on my mind over the last three days. The hate on display in Charlottesville is the antithesis of the America I was raised to believe in, and it sickens me. In the aftermath of an event like this, a lackluster response those from those in power can resonate. It doesn’t take a decent person three days to solidify their opinion on racism, bigotry, and hate.

It can be disheartening to see failures in leadership, and that can bring about cycles of depression and despair. If you find yourself in those places, I would encourage you to stay strong. Do not lose hope. Get active. Be a help to the helpless, be a voice for the voiceless, and defend the defenseless. As I said in November last year: despair isn’t how you defeat evil. Action is.

 

Why Am I Stepping Back From Twitter?

Why Am I Stepping Back From Twitter?

Like everything, this begins with a story. Recently, I started reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, and I’m enjoying it so far. He begins the book with an author’s note explaining how he bends history to serve his narrative. In this introduction, he states that while the book is thoroughly researched, he takes creative liberties in regard to historical figures and battles. (Though I usually find such forewords unnecessary in historical fiction, I appreciated O’Brian’s care, and I know some Royal Navy enthusiasts probably did as well.)

“My point is that the admirable men of those times, the Cochranes, Byrons, Falconers, Seymours, Boscawens and the many less famous sailors from whom I have in some degree compounded my characters, are best celebrated in their own splendid actions rather than in imaginary contests; that authenticity is a jewel; and that the echo of their words has an abiding value.”

—Patrick O’Brian, Author’s Note, Master and Commander

Whenever I start a new book, especially one as lauded as Master and Commander, I do a quick Google search about it. I’m not sure why I do this. Sometimes, it’s to find ephemera I might otherwise miss. Sometimes, it reveals little details not mentioned in the prose. Sometimes, I want to check out maps or illustrations that are not in my copy of the book. Over the course of the search, I stumbled across another book claiming to be the real story of the real master and commander. I have forgotten the title, and, to be honest, it’s not relevant. However, I found it amusing. Here was a book written and published decades years after O’Brian’s novel that pretended to be a response to it. Its author ignored O’Brian’s foreword completely and was like, “NO! You need to tell the REAL history of the Royal Navy’s heroes!”

Which now leads to Twitter. While at a BBQ, I was explaining to a friend how I found this amusing. His comment (I’m paraphrasing): “Funny, that’s like Twitter but before Twitter, and the guy actually took years to write a response.”

I found that comment funny and poignant. Over the last few days, I’ve been dwelling on his statement. It’s resonated with me. In a way, it is like Twitter, but as my friend observed it’s also very different. You see, Twitter removes that time in between. It gives us an instant connection for good or ill. Twitter lets us respond so quickly—we often don’t realize how our comment will make others feel. We don’t take the time to write a well-honed response, we just react. We laude. We celebrate. We resist. We obey. We re-tweet. We sub-tweet. We call out. We insult. We cast aspersion. We make accusations based on 140 characters and a profile picture. Twitter has ceased being a conversation and has become the mass reacting to one another. We’re no longer listening, which means we’re no longer responding.

I don’t want to do that. I’ve seen what the toxic nature of reaction-culture can do to communities. I’m not interested in playing those games any longer. This is why I’m going to shift the majority of my thought back to the humble blog. For me, this format forces solicitude and introspection. It makes me slow down, and it tempers. I never published posts the day I write them (even this one)—I let them sit and simmer which in turn discourages knee-jerk reaction. I have drafts of posts I’ll never publish because I wrote them while my ire was up. That’s a good thing. It lets me get those emotions out without dragging someone else down. It’s therapeutic in a way.

The biggest trick of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, is that you need to be on social media to somehow be successful. It’s a lie. Yes, you need a web presence, and you need to be on social media, but you don’t need to let it control you. There’s a big difference in running a business online versus throwing yourself into the volatile social media landscape. Humanity is just now starting to see where the latter leads, and I’m choosing a different path.


TL;DR—So, what does this all mean?
  • Well, first off, I’m not deleting my Twitter account or anything like that. I still run a business and Twitter is a part of that, and it’s an important part. After all, I gotta keep the lights on and the bills paid.

  • This blog is my primary platform; it’s where I’ll be doing most of my thinkin’. So while I will be posting more links elsewhere (probably a lot of links.) Most of those links will bring you back to here. Likewise, instead of writing Twitter threads, I’ll be writing posts. Posts are easier to read anyway; Twitter is garbage for long content.

  • If you’re interested in continuing to follow me here are a few options:
    • Do nothing and keep following me on Twitter; I’ll continue to post links to news and blog articles there. But my content will primarily live here.

    • Click the “Follow” button in the footer to follow my blog via e-mail.

    • Follow me on Facebook where I also share news and articles.

    • Subscribe to my newsletter; that’s what the cool kids do. It’s where I share news about my books and preview secret stuff like sales and giveaways.

Six Hundred

Six Hundred

This blog is a story in itself. It’s the documentation of a journey. Growing up, I remember my grandmother talking about becoming a novelist. She often spoke of the stories she wanted to share, the memoirs of her life, but she never finished her book. I believe the world is a little less without her words. From the beginning, the intent of I Make Stories was to chronicle my process of becoming a novelist—the good and the bad. As I have shared my experiences, I often wonder: what would have happened if my grandmother had read this blog as a fellow writer? Would she have been dissuaded or encouraged?

On that note, it’s time for a bit of reflection, and hopefully a bit of encouragement. It’s become a tradition around here that every two hundred posts I pause and take a moment and look back at what has happened in the time between. In 2014 I wrote my two-hundredth post, in 2015 I hit number four hundred, and here I am in 2017 looking at number six hundred. It’s been a long trail.

Things haven’t always been easy, but generally, nothing worth doing is easy. Days of discouragement are as common as the days of victory. Even as I write this post, I’ve been struggling through some serious self-doubt. I’ve come to expect it now, it’s a part of creation. Random events interrupt and derail process and progress. Writing takes time and effort, and it can often be a lonely endeavor. It requires a commitment to yourself and often that is more difficult than we realize.


“Milestones are meant to be passed.”


But even with the trials of creative work, things haven’t slowed during the last two hundred posts. Each obstacle has been surmounted and I’ve found successes along the way. I’ve sold a lot more books, many thousands now in total. I’ve hit the Amazon best-seller page multiple times. My presence at conventions has also expanded, and I’ve met some incredible people and new friends along the way.

On the story front, I launched Red Litten World which fans have enjoyed. I’ve finished the first draft of a standalone non-traditional fantasy (the title which I am keeping secret), and I’m nearly done with the first draft of Coal Belly my enormous steampunky riverboat adventure. Then it’s on to book four of the Bell Forging Cycle.

I’d like to think the content on this blog has gotten better as well. I’ve begun to share some of my discoveries in my research and delve into more details in the world of the Territories. There’s also this little thing which fans of the Bell Forging Cycle have yet to unravel. Plus, I have some other exciting plans for the future.

I couldn’t have done this alone. Although she never knew me as a writer, there is something of my grandmother in everything I write and for that I thank her. She might not have told her stories, but she empowered me to tell mine. And of course, there is you; my readers. I couldn’t be here, looking back from post six hundred, without you. Thanks for the passion. Thank you for buying my books. Thanks for reading them, and leaving reviews. Thank you for telling your friends and helping to spread the word. Thank you for the emails and the encouragement. There’s a lot of books out there to read, and I’m so grateful you picked mine.

As before, I won’t dwell here long. Stick with your work fellow creators. Milestones are meant to be passed. Number eight hundred lies somewhere in the distance and who knows what we’ll see in the spaces between.

I’m On Horror Brew

Last week I was lucky enough to join Matt and Cat from Horror Brew, one of my favorite horror-themed podcasts for Episode Thirteen! (Yeah, creepy thirteen! Kismet right?) I had a great time and was happy to be apart of the show. We talked about my books and the world of the Bell Forging Cycle. After that we delve into the weird west and then talked about horror in general; everything from Stephen King’s The Mist to Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. Give it a listen. I’ve embedded it below, so you can listen here or click one of the links and be sure to subscribe!


iTunes • Stitcher • PlayerFM • Libsyn


You can follow Matt and Cat on Facebook, Twitter, Letterboxd, and Instagram. Make sure you subscribe and leave them a review. They put out a great show and are a passionate voice for the horror community. If you’re in the Portland area, check out their weekly horror trivia night at Home, A Bar. It’s a good crowd, and there are usually great prizes. Speaking of…

Horror Brew + K.M. Alexander Giveaway

From now until July 17th you can enter to win a signed copy of my first Lovecraftian urban fantasy novel, The Stars Were Right and a Bell Caravans patch. (I’ll probably throw in some other swag as well.) Entering is super easy, and there are ways you can win bonus entries to better your chances for success. All it takes is a few clicks, enter today and tell your friends!

Enter Today →

A 2017 Lilac City Comicon Debriefing

A 2017 Lilac City Comicon Debriefing

It’s time for a con debriefing! Last weekend, I spent a couple of wonderful days at Lilac City Comicon in Spokane, Washington. This was my third year at LCCC, and like previous years, I shared a table with my good friend Josh Montreuil. This time around the con not only expanded, but it’s now two wonderful days.

[Left] My table setup [Right] An awesome Negan cosplay!
[Left] My table setup [Right] One of my readers sporting an awesome Negan cosplay!

Last year, I sold out of every copy of The Stars Were Right, so I doubled down and brought more with me this time around. Well, Spokane was insatiable, once again I sold out of every copy of The Stars Were Right. Yep, all gone! It was incredible. Easily one of the best two-day stretches I’ve had while running a table at a convention which means a whole lot of new readers have begun to experience The Bell Forging Cycle.

[Left] Josh speaks with a T-Rex [Center] The Log Lady! [Right] A pair of ninja 4 hire
[Left] Josh speaks with a T-Rex, his target audience [Center] The Log Lady! [Right] A pair of ninja 4 hire

Time for the highlights:

  • Friday night’s LCCC Pro Drink & Draw was great. Met some good people and I was able to circle up with some friends. It was a relaxing way to go into a busy weekend.
  • Once again (as the pictures prove) Spokane really went all out with the cosplay. Amazing work by everyone participating, you could see the time people had dedicated to their costumes. I took a ton of photos, and it was tough narrowing it down and picking favorites to share. Great work everyone! (Sgt. Slaughter, see below, was a particular favorite, but that’s the Joe fan in me coming out.)
  • My mom, dad, sister, and my nephew Derek came out to say hello! It Derek’s first convention and it was amazing to see the excitement as he strolled around in his Pikachu costume. He also left with the desire to be a Roader, which I appreciated. Gotta start ’em young. Right?
  • Likewise, Kari-Lise’s cousin Lou and his son Damon also came out. It was great seeing them as well. It’s nice to have a supportive family in the area. (You can check out a pic of Damon below dressed as a ninja.)
  • It was good to hang out with Josh. He had a new comic this year, Triceratots, and a load of prints. People were really excited to meet him and check out his work. Especially giant monster fans. I highly recommend you follow him. He’s got big plans for the coming year. If you want to meet him, I know he’ll be at Coeur d’ Con in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho in August. If you live nearby check his stuff out.
  • The volunteers were fantastic. It needs to be said over and over. Big thank you to them and to Nathan O’Brien for working so hard to make the convention so successful.
  • Several times I had readers drop by and ask about the status of book four. Knowing there is excitement building gets me excited. I really appreciate knowing there are those eager to join Wal in another adventure. I’ve heard it’s going to be a doozy. After all, “He is coming. Can’t you smell it on the wind?
  • Once again it was good to spend time with Matt Nelson, Peter Foglesong, Jennifer Foglesong, and Lars Brown. All our tables were next to each other, and it was great being able to hang out and chat during the downtimes. If there is such a thing as your ‘convention family’ they’re definitely a part of mine.
[Left] Captain America [Center] My nephew Derek as Pikachu and me as an author who only wears black [Right] Geralt of Rivia
[Left] Captain America [Center] My nephew Derek as Pikachu and me as an author who only wears black [Right] Geralt of Rivia
  • I also had several readers come up just to meet me and tell me how much they loved my books. It was amazing and surreal, and it’s interactions like that which really made my LCCC experience. Writing is a solitary gig, and when people take the time to come up and say they appreciate the hard work, it makes it all worthwhile.
  • Since the con was two days, the Post-Con Decompression Dinner became a Mid-Con Decompression Dinner. It was still as great as always. The food and drink hit the spot, the conversation was lively, and it was a pleasant respite in the middle of the festivities.
  • Josh’s sketch commissions were as wacky and wonderful as always, from Daffy Duck as The Scarlet Pumpernickel to a giant antlered bear armed with a great ax.
  • I enjoyed seeing all my old friends who came by to say hello, Angie, Curt, Carl, and Mike (who surprised me from behind his King Kong mask.) It was nice seeing them, meeting their partners and children, and catching up a little bit.
  • I got to nerd it up with a bunch of horror fans. We talked about Lovecraft, Chambers, The Void, Get Out, The Mist, and so much more.
  • I met some new friends as well. In particular, Rob an illustrator who creates some great Lovecraftian illustrations, Devin who was hanging out across from Josh and me, and Michael another illustrator who ran a table next to ours.
  • Did I mention I sold out of EVERY COPY of The Stars Were Right? EVERY. COPY. Seriously. I did. (I have more on order.) It’s awesome to see so many people starting their journey into the world of The Bell Forging Cycle. If you’re one of them, I hope you enjoy the ride.
  • When I got home late Sunday night I was greeted by the nicest email from a reader who had picked up my books and took a moment to drop me a line to tell me she was already loving them. After a long afternoon of travel, it absolutely made my night.
[Left] Sgt. Slaughter [Center] Rebel Pilot [Right] Kari-Lise's second cousin Damon as a nunchaku spinnin' ninja
[Left] Sgt. Slaughter [Center] Rebel Pilot [Right] Kari-Lise’s second cousin Damon as a nunchaku spinnin’ ninja

The expansion from one to two days was excellent, and other pros enjoyed it as well. Clearly, Spokane is hungry for a world-class convention, and Lilac City is stepping up and providing. I’ll most certainly be attending in 2018. I would love to see LCCC expand into open gaming and more panel tracks as well, but I am sure both are coming. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

Want to read about my past experiences? Check out my debriefings for Lilac City Comicon 2016 and Lilac City Comicon 2015. Next up for me in 2017 is OryCon in November! Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.

Thanks for a great con Spokane, I’ll see you 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 →

Come See Me at Lilac City Comicon 2017

Come See Me at Lilac City Comicon 2017

This weekend I will be returning for the 2017 celebration of Lilac City Comicon in Spokane, Washington. This year the convention is two whole days running from Saturday, June 3rd to Sunday, June 4th. If it’s anything like the last few conventions, it’ll be a blast. I’ll once again be sharing a table with comic creator and dinosaur enthusiast Josh Montreuil and we’re both bringing a ton of great stuff.

Triceratots, by Josh Montreuil - debuting at LCCC 2017!
Triceratots, by Josh Montreuil – debuting at LCCC 2017!

I’ll have copies of The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, and Red Litten World. I’ll also have Bell Caravans patches as well as a ton of free swag, stickers, bookmarks, and buttons. In the past, LCCC hasn’t really been interested in my badge ribbons, but I’ll have mine with me, and like other swag they’re free. If you want to draw a ribbon from THE BOX OF CHOOSING™ just ask me and I’ll be happy to let you try your luck. (Full details on the badge ribbons can be read here.)

Sir Montreuil will have his new debut comic, Triceratots, available! I’ve been given a preview, and it’s not only incredibly fun, but it’s downright adorable. If you’re a fan of dinosaurs or know someone who is (I mean, who isn’t?), be sure to pick it up. He’ll also have a bunch of fresh prints and will be available for sketch commissions.

You can find Josh and me at TABLE C10 right in the center of it all. Click the image below to see where you can find us on the full map. It’s like a treasure map, but you’ll be crossing booths filled with cool stuff and not boring desert islands.

I’m looking forward to the weekend, there are a ton talented people participating, and the 1966 Batmobile will be there! Check out the full guest list and complete exhibitor list over at the official Lilac City Comicon site. I’ll see you there!


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 →