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A Norwescon 40 Debrief

A Norwescon 40 Debriefing

Norwescon 40 is over. I have returned from the land of hotels, fast food, long-term parking, and airplane noises. (Just kidding SeaTac, you know I love ya.) This means it’s time for a con debriefing! This is the post where I recap my experience, share photos, and talk about what happened during the convention.

K. M. Alexander and an Andorian
I met this surly Andorian wandering the halls.

This debriefing will be a bit different from previous posts. I wasn’t tied to a table, and so I got to experience the convention as an attendee as well as a professional. I really enjoyed my time. Let’s break it down by day and hit the highlights…


Thursday, Day 1

This was the quietest of days for me. I worked that day, so I didn’t show up until the evening. Once there, I checked in, got the lay of the land, said hello to a few friends. I managed to take in a few panels and checked out the art show opening before I went to the Small Publisher Party. The party was super crowded. I came late and learned that fashionably late means “no room” something completely different compared to art show openings.


Friday, Day 2

I started the day off with “Advanced Self-Publishing.” It was a great panel with a great moderator (Thanks, Tori!) and really we didn’t have enough time, and this panel could have easily lasted several hours. Loads of information was shared. I hope the audience enjoyed it and learned something in the process.

Afterward, I hung out with Elliott Kay, Annie Bellet and her husband Matt, their friend (and another fellow author) Ann, and the indomitable Jason Vanhee. We talked shop and chatted about everything. It was nice getting to know everyone. (Fun fact, Matt Bellet is the Daredevil featured in my post from last year. I had no idea.)

[Left] This Handmaid was my favorite cosplay costume of the weekend [Middle] Colossus by Josh Foreman [Right] Where I ended up on badge ribbons
[Left] This Handmaid was my favorite cosplay of the convention [Middle] Colossus by Josh Foreman was on display at the Norwescon Art Show [Right] Where I ended up on badge ribbons

My second panel was “Worldbuilding: Alien Cultures that Don’t Dehumanize.” I feel like it was a bit too narrow of a topic, but the discussion ended up being pretty good. Plus, I got to meet Rhiannon Held who ended up on two other panels with me as well.

I attended “Hated It!” that evening, and it was a highlight of Friday. The panel was a celebration of hate towards pop-culture properties moderated by Jason Vanhee. The audience filled out cards of things they enjoyed, and the panel hated on them. Much shade was thrown. As a result, I now hate Arrival, c’est la vie.


Saturday, Day 3

Steve Toutonghi showed up! Steve, Jason, and I spent most of the day together. Which was great. (Next year we need to get Steve on some panels.) My day was packed. My first panel was a return from Norwescon 39: The SF/FANTASY BATTLE ROYALE. It was wondrous, and as expected, it was my favorite panel. They moved us to a bigger room and we nearly filled it. Once again, Matt Youngmark hosted, Erik Scott de Bie and I returned, and we were joined by newcomer Jason Bourget. We made a good team. It was hilarious and raucous. In the end, I regret picking Malcolm Reynolds over Robin Hood the Cartoon Fox. I feel like it set up a chain of events that propelled us toward a painful outcome. Much to my chagrin, Deadpool won.

Ugh, Deadpool.

I hate Deadpool.

Bacchus/Dionysus was wandering the halls
Bacchus/Dionysus was wandering the halls on Saturday.

Thankfully, I was able to wash away the disappointment of the Merc with a Mouth’s championship by discussing “The Changing Landscape of Worldbuilding” which I really enjoyed. My fellow panelists were sharp, and I think the discussion was helpful.

Finally, I wrapped up the day on an evening panel that I had sat on from last year: “Location, Location, Location: Horror’s Unsung Character.” We quickly decided that Location wasn’t unsung in horror at all, it was horror. Plus the audience was great! There was loads of discussion. I like panels that feel more like a chat among friends, and this was absolutely one of those.


“You can put lipstick on a pig, and it can still be worth kissing.”

— In the “Call to Action” Panel


Sunday, Day 4

My morning panel reunited me with Annie Bellet and Rhiannon Held. 10 AM on the last day of a convention can be rough, but a lot of people showed up! We jawed for a while about Urban Fantasy worldbuilding. It was one of the best panels I was on, the crowd was engaged, the room was packed.

Sites from around Norwescon
[Left] Michael G. Munz as Heisenberg, the one who knocks [Middle] Pair of Daleks lurking under the stairs [Right] A cool (highly detailed) steampunk ensemble.

I had one more panel at the end of the day on worldbuilding in Post-Apocalyptic fiction, then had a few meetings before finally calling it a day. When I got home, I was exhausted. I had grand plans to write, but I sat down on the couch, and my body refused to move. I ended up watching Escape from New York on Netflix since my brain didn’t want to do anything else.


Quick Thoughts/Highlights

  • The staff of volunteers was great. Thank them.
  • The social media team killed it this year. Follow them.
  • The cosplay as always was wonderful.
  • People were really open and friendly and accepting. I appreciated that.
  • It was awesome spending more time with a few local authors. In particular Jason Vanhee who hung out with me all weekend. But also Steve Toutonghi, Elliott Kay, Annie Bellet, Matt Youngmark, Nathan Crowder, Rhiannon Held, and so many others.
  • My fellow panelists were great. There was a lot of mutual respect and some substantial discussion. I’ve heard there were issues in other tracks, but I have no complaints. The last thing I want to do is waste people’s time. I don’t think we did that. So, yay us!
  • It became apparent to Rhiannon Held and me that there needs to be a panel next year on Weird West. I’m totally planning to suggest and offer to moderate it. So if you’re into horror and cowboys, keep your eyes peeled.
  • I soft-pitched Coal Belly to the audience in one of the worldbuilding panels, and I heard a lot of positive reactions. Yay! It made me excited to keep working on it.
  • I sold books! I didn’t expect that, but I had a few readers return for the next book in the series. Also had some people approach me after panels as well looking to pick up a copy.
  • Not having a table meant I wasn’t in the Dealer’s Room all that much. But I did see a few friends from there. I was a bit bummed we didn’t have time to chat more.
  • It was great to see so many of the same folks in so many of my panels. (Including a lot I remember from last year.) Y’all have good taste.
  • Goodspaceguy was there.
  • I sat in on a few readings. I need to do this more, I always really enjoy them. Both Hayley Stone and Jeremy Zimmerman did a great job. I’m glad I caught both readings.
  • There were quite a few panels I missed because of conflicts. (A few of Elliott Kay’s, at least one of Jason’s, and the Gamemaster’s Manifesto podcast to name a few.) Which is a bummer. But, with a programming track as substantial as Norwescon that is bound to happen. In times like these, I wish I could split myself like Dr. Manhattan.
  • I managed to get up to the game room briefly. It’s lovely up there! I should play a session next year.
  • My one complaint: there needs to be more contrast on the name badges. I appreciate the artwork, but the whole point of the badge is to read folk’s names. When you can’t do that the badge is sorta failing its purpose.

As always, Norwescon 40 was great. I really liked the freedom of not having a table, and would absolutely consider doing this way again. I loved interacting with the Norwescon community, they’re warm and always welcoming.

As for future plans, I’m attempting to get into Crypticon for May, and Lilac City is coming up in June, and I’m hoping to make it to Orycon 39 this November. We’ll see. You can keep track of where I’ll be next and check out previous debriefings from previous conventions on my Upcoming Appearances page.

Thanks for an amazing Norwescon 40. I’ll see you at 41.


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 Norwescon 40!

Come See Me at Norwescon 40

This Thursday, I will be attending Norwescon 40 in SeaTac, Washington. I’m excited! This will be my third year participating, and I’ll be on quite a few panels. There’s a lot of good stuff this year. I’m really looking forward to discussing worldbuilding, talking about self-publishing, and joining in for the SF/Fantasy Battle Royale. (It’s amazing and hilarious, you should come.)

Click here to view my full schedule ↦


Where I’ll Be

Short Answer: All over!

Long Answer:
Unlike previous years, I will not have a home base on Writer’s Row. I wanted to focus on the convention this year, and not trying to juggle panels, readings, and the business of running a table. It is always a blast, but it’s also exhausting. I’ll definitely run tables in the future, but this time around I’ll be in the halls. (Look for the big guy wearing all black.) I’m looking forward to actually seeing things and participating as an audience member. Keep and eye out for me, come up and say hello, I’m a friendly sort.

Obviously, I’m happy to sign anyone’s book! If you want a book for your collection, I will have some with me. As always, books are $10 at conventions.


Badge Ribbons

If you’ve attended Norwescon before you know about the love of badge ribbons. I even wrote a post about them last year. Yes, I will have my ribbons with me this year. To get one, you must find me and ask me for a ribbon. I will give you only one. As before there will be three types. If you collect all three, I’ll give you a FREE signed copy of my first book, The Stars Were Right. It’s not an easy feat. It means you’ll have to do some trading with other attendees.

Badge Ribbons will be back for 2017
The common Shambler and Roader ribbons and the rare silver Caravan Master ribbon. (I only bring a handful of those.)

Get Guidebook

If you’re a Guidebook user (you should be) you can find me on there as well! The app is free and easy to use. Plus, it’s a great way of keeping track of events you wish to attend, and you can set reminders, so you don’t miss anything. I highly recommend it.

Get Guidebook, Find Me
To find me: first, tap the Menu Button, then tap “Attending Professionals,” search for “K. M.” then tap on my name. Hooray!

Have downtime and looking for something to read at the convention? This year, I’m offering samples of my books right on my Guidebook profile! The first four chapters of all three novels are available for free. To find them, tap the menu button in the upper left, then tap “Attending Professionals,” search or scroll to me, and tap on my profile. You’ll see the samples listed under PDFs. Just tap on one and start reading!


I think that’s all the particulars. I’ll be active on Twitter as always, you should follow me over there. I also share photos on Instagram. I hope everyone enjoys the con.I know it’s one of the highlights of my year. Stay safe, be respectful, and have fun. See you Thursday!

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

Introducing: Dead Drop

For the last four years, my newsletter has been titled The Telegram. It was a reference to the telegrams used for communication in my Bell Forging Cycle. To be honest, I always found it a little boring and a bit stodgy. Since I am expanding beyond Lovecraftian horror with my recent projects, I figured it was time for a change. I wanted something fun and fresh, and its own thing, something that wasn’t tied to a specific property.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with something new. As subscribers know my communiqués are rare, at most a handful a year. In some ways, their evanescence reminded me of espionage tradecraft. Secret missives passed from agent to agent in the shadows. This, in turn, got me thinking about dead drops. If you don’t know, a dead drop is a method used to pass information between agents using a concealed location. In the past it has been a hollow spike embedded in the ground or tree, at other times it’s a hollowed-out brick in a wall, and occasionally it’s a freeze-dried rat. While my newsletter isn’t a dead rat (for now), I liked the idea of secret exchanges of information. The name was a perfect fit, and thus, Dead Drop was born.

Going forward, Dead Drop will still operate like The Telegram. It will remain a rare and exclusive club. I’ll keep it reserved for announcements, previews, and such. I’ve been contemplating sharing some of my new work there as well, new chapters and the like. If you’re not a subscriber click the link below and sign up today, it takes only a few seconds.


Subscribe to Dead Drop Today ↦


So long to The Telegraph, and hello to Dead Drop. I’ll catch you in your inbox, agents.

Kari-Lise Alexander's WAKE

WAKE [Update]

As I posted previously, I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, California for the launch of Kari-Lise’s latest body of work, WAKE. While I’ll have more to share about the trip in the future, I wanted to write a quick update letting everyone know that the whole show is now available to view online! Just click below and check it out. It’s incredible.


View WAKE at Thinkspace Gallery ↦


This was Kari-Lise’s first show in the L.A. market, and it was great to see so much support. The crew at the gallery were wonderful. The show looks amazing in the space. I was telling a friend this morning that it was nice to see the pieces hanging on a proper wall. A few fans even made treks from San Francisco and San Deigo to check out the show! Our trip was a blast and it was a whirlwind of a weekend.

Opening Night at Thinkspace Gallery
Opening night at Thinkspace Gallery

If you’re in LA, go check it out. The show will be on display until April 22nd. You can also read more about WAKE and Kari-Lise’s work at any of the links below:

Kari-Lise Alexander's WAKE

WAKE

This weekend, Kari-Lise and I will head to Los Angeles for the opening of her latest show, WAKE at Thinkspace Gallery. The show opens on Saturday, April 1st, and we’ll both be there. If you live in L.A. come on by and say hello. We’d love to see you. The opening reception is from 6pm–9pm. The exhibition will be on display through April 22, 2017, and it is both free and open to the public.

For the last year, I have watched Kari-Lise work through the creation of this show, and I have been amazed by the outcome. I couldn’t be more proud. After launch, you’ll be able to view the full show at Thinkspace Gallery’s website, feel free to contact the gallery directly to inquire about any particular piece. Kari-Lise is also sending out a collector preview to anyone subscribed to her newsletter, subscribe here. I’m excited for WAKE to finally launch so everyone else can enjoy the series. There’s a lot to love.

Night Garden in the Studio
Kari-Lise Alexander — “Night Garden” in the studio
[Left] <em>"Surface"</em> 2016, 12"x12", Oil on Panel [Right] "Wake" 2016, 36"x 36", Oil on Panel
Kari-Lise Alexander — [Left] “Surface” 12″x12″, Oil on Panel [Right] “Wake” 36″x 36″, Oil on Panel
Coyote in the Studio
Kari-Lise Alexander — “Coyote” in the studio
Kari-Lise Alexander "The Arrow" 24"x12", Oil on Panel
Kari-Lise Alexander — “The Arrow” 24″x12″, Oil on Panel

If you’re interested in the work from Kari-Lise’s previous shows, I’ve written about them before, and I’d encourage you to check them out. In late 2015 she released A Lovelorn Theft, earlier that year she shared her 2014 work in Inflorescence. She’s had other shows as well, and you can see these and more of her past work at her website, kari-lise.com.


If you haven’t taken the time, make sure to watch Overlooked Details, An Artist’s Journey, it’s the short documentary about her work, filmed by Scott R. Wilson. (It partially documents her work on Inflorescence.) It’s very much with your time and is an amazing glimpse into her journey. I’ve embedded it below, and I recommend watching it full screen. You can view the full credits here.

My Norwescon 40 Schedule

My Norwescon 40 Schedule

Convention season is just around the corner, and I’ll be starting my year off with the fine folks at Norwescon 40 in SeaTac, Washington April 13th – 16th. This year happens to be their 40th Anniversary, which is pretty dang amazing for a regional convention.

Unlike the last few years (Norwescon 38, Norwescon 39) I won’t be running a table on Writer’s Row. I love doing it, but I wanted to take a break this year and allow myself some time to enjoy the convention. So look for me in the halls! I’m a friendly sort. Stop me and say hi! Let’s play a game or get a beer and talk shop. I’m the big guy in black.

I’ll also be on a few panels and I’ve listed out my schedule below. You can find out more about my fellow panelists by clicking on their names, links go to their respective corners on the web. (Buy their books.) As before, it’ll be an honor sitting among such talent.

Not going to lie, listing all of this out got me excited. Is it April yet?


THURSDAY, APRIL 13th

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM — Art Show Reception

Location: Art Show
Details: It’s an art show! Drink wine, eat cheese, look at art, get introspective!


FRIDAY, APRIL 14th

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM — Advanced Self-Publishing

Location: Cascade 5 & 6
Moderator: Tori Centanni
Panelists: Annie Bellet, Mark Teppo, Elliott KayK. M. Alexander
Details: 
Self-publishing 201! Already self-publishing but want to take your career to the next level? This panel is for you. Pros will discuss how best to brand your books, how to increase sales and visibility, and how to avoid the newest pitfalls. We’ll talk strategy, branding, and how to manage your career so that you have the greatest odds of success.

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM — Worldbuilding: Alien Cultures that Don’t Dehumanize

Location: Cascade 10
Moderator: Liz Argall
Panelists: Stephanie Weippert, Rhiannon HeldK. M. Alexander
Details: 
Set a Cowboy-and-Indian yarn on another planet. Swap the cowboys for space rangers and the indigenes for monstrous aliens – the premise for countless space operas of the pulp era. The metaphor was clear: Native Americans are monstrous. How do you mirror alien societies with their earthly counterparts without portraying non-Western races and religions as inhuman themselves?


SATURDAY, APRIL 15th

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM — SF/Fantasy Battle Royale

Location: Evergreen 3 & 4
Moderator: Matt Youngmark
Panelists: Erik Scott de Bie, Jason Bourget, K. M. Alexander
Details: Who would win in a fight? A fast-paced, bracket-style, breathtakingly unscientific showdown to determine this year’s Ultimate Fictional Champion. Ready…? Fight!

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM — The Changing Landscape of Worldbuilding

Location: Cascade 5 & 6
Moderator: Brenda Carre
Panelists: Raven Oak, Esther JonesK. M. Alexander
Details: Nature is rewriting the once immutable rules of worldbuilding. There’s liquid water on Mars. Who knew? Dinosaurs had feathers. Exoplanets exist in defiance of everything we knew about planetary mechanics. What does it mean for today’s writers when the building of credible landscapes is proving a much more organic and free-flowing process than once believed?

9:00 PM – 10:00 PM — Location, Location, Location: Horror’s Unsung Character

Location: Cascade 5 & 6
Moderator: Jaym Gates
Panelists: Nathan Crowder, Evan J. PetersonK. M. Alexander
Details: 
A returning panel from last year where we discuss the importance of setting on a horror narrative, complete with favorite settings from our panel of horror professionals.


SUNDAY, APRIL 16th

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM — Urban Renewal

Location: Cascade 3 & 4
Moderator: Kristi Charish
Panelists: Rhiannon Held, Annie BelletK. M. Alexander
Details: 
Join our panelists as they discuss the common tropes in urban fantasy and the unique ways in which those themes can be reimagined for the audience.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM — Worldbuilding: This is How the World Ends

Location: Cascade 10
Moderator: Catherine Cooke Montrose
Panelists: Rhiannon Held, Jaym GatesK. M. Alexander
Details: 
Whether you’re writing zombie horror or post-apocalyptic romance, you need to figure out how the broken world got into that state. Super virus? War? Natural disaster? Pros will talk about manufacturing the end of the world as we know it in order to give your post-apocalyptic world a solid foundation.


As usual, I’ll be active on Twitter throughout the weekend. I’m @KM_Alexander, follow me! You can preregister for Norwescon 40 here and get passes to all four days for only $65. There’s also a lot of information at Norwescon.org including details on this year’s guests of honor (Ian McDonald, Cory & Catska Ench, Ethan Siegel, Nancy Kress, and Angry Robot Books), The Philip K. Dick Awards, information on the Doubletree Hotel, and a lot more. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!