Mark Twain - Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Two Most Important Days

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain


This quote resurfaced in an article from 2014 that was shared by my friend and fellow author Michael Ripplinger. The article itself, The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna is an excellent read, and worth spending some time with before the start of a new year—especially if you sit on the cusp of following a dream and you find yourself terrified.

❄️ 💀 ❄️

Merry Christmas

Season’s greetings! I’m spending the day with family, but I wanted to leave a quick post on here wishing you, my readers, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Thank you for making my 2017. Thanks for reading my books and this blog. Thanks for telling your friends and thank you for leaving reviews. I know I say it often, but I couldn’t do this without you.

Scary Solstice by Vasilis Zikos
Scary Solstice by Vasilis Zikos

The artwork above was created by the very talented Vasilis Zikos. You can see a lot more of his work over on his Deviant Art page, and you can follow him on Instagram or Facebook. If you want to add this image to your Christmas decorations, don’t forget you can buy it directly from Deviant Art.

❄️💀❄️

Criticism is Okay - A Twitter Thread

Criticism is Okay: A Twitter Thread

The following is a series of tweets from last night that were well received. I’m reposting them here for posterity mainly, and because it sucks to read Twitter threads. The thread was sparked by a variety of things: my opinions of The Last Jedi (I didn’t like it), how I’ve noticed some creators complaining about criticism and critique in general, and how respectful debate and discussion seems to have disappeared. As with everything on my blog, criticism and comments are welcome.


Know what? You can absolutely dislike something. You can tweet about your hate, and you can write hot-takes all day long on the platform of your choice. Look at you go.

Gotta go fast!


But, you have to be willing to accept that other people may love the thing you despise. Their opinion is just as valid as yours.


Share your opinion. (They’re welcome!) Lay out your case. Invite discussion with those who are willing. But, let them come to you. No one likes the person who saddles up into someone’s mentions/comments to zing ‘em by telling ‘em why they’re wrong.


Oh and understand, if you say something no one likes, they may take their toys and go home. Or just ignore you. Often both. Does it make you wrong? Not necessarily. But it’s entirely within their rights.


Of course, if you listened like a reasonable person and engaged in a respectful manner, you’ll probably come to an understanding. (Fingers in the ears, insults, and shouting isn’t reasonable or respectful.)


This all goes both ways. BTW.


Oh, and the nature of public posts on a site designed for public engagement inherently invites comment. Thems the breaks ’round here. Welcome to the internet. (Yes, even if you’re all: “don’t @ me.” 🤔 Maybe especially.)


Don’t want to discuss? No problem! 🎉 There are tools to help with that as well. Consider a less public forum, make your account private, keep an IRL journal. Also, fan forums/sites exist for this very reason.


I think review, debate, and discussion make creative work better. We can (and should) learn from it. I learned a lot from design critiques in college, and I learn a lot from reviews now as a writer. So, yeah, I’m all for it. Just don’t be *that* person. Ya know?


Should you wish, you can read the tweets over on Twitter. If you have any thoughts or opinions, feel free to leave a comment below.

2017 in Ten Awesome Photos

2017 in Ten Awesome Photos

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

I love doing this.

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


In Conclusion

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

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


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

201420152016


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

Top Five Posts of 2017

My Top Five Posts of 2017

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

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


Making Magnificent Mountains5. Making Magnificent Mountains

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


Riverboats at War4. Riverboats at War

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


How Passenger Airships Work3. How Passenger Airships Work

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


Hunting the Yellow Sign2. Hunting the Yellow Sign

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


And the number one post of the year is…


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

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


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

❄️ 💀 ❄️


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

Revisiting Lovecraft's Holiday Poetry

Revisiting Lovecraft’s Holiday Poetry

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


If you want something creepy, try…

Yule Horror

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


If you want something a bit cheesy

Christmas

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


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

Christmas Greetings to Felis

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


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

Christmas Greetings to Felis #2

Lovecraft’s really loved that cat, I guess.


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

Christmas Greetings To Eugene B. Kuntz et al.

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


If none of those work, and for everything else

See Lovecraft’s other little poems here

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


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


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