Tag Archives: blogging

Spam & Comments

Spam & Comments

In the last week, I’ve seen a significant uptick in spam comments here on my blog. Comments aren’t something I get a lot of on this blog and, generally speaking, WordPress’ Akismet service does an excellent job of filtering the noise. But with thousands of spam comments coming in I started seeing several an hour slip through my fortifications. Since I manually approve every comment, spam has moved from annoyance to problem.

At this point, the easiest solution is to turn off comments for older posts. (Spambots are really keen on old posts for some reason.) Most real people don’t comment on older content—so I don’t think it hurts anything killing comments there. Going forward if something strikes your fancy around here, you’ll have seven days to comment. After that comments will be closed.

Have something you want to say to me on older content, new content, or just anything in general. Shoot me an email.

A Brief Hiatus

A Brief Hiatus

For the next week or so, things around here will slow down a bit as I intentionally go internet-silent. Responses to emails and comments will be delayed during that time. Kari-Lise and I are traveling to Amsterdam and Belgium for her birthday and meeting up with our travel pals, Kelcey and Jim. (The same fine folks who joined us in Scotland.) I might occasionally post to Instagram, so I do recommend following me if you’re interested in my travels. I’ll assemble a trip report upon my return!

My current plan is to resume normal blog activities around late-January. But, if you’re looking for something to read in the interim, here are a few of my more popular posts:

See y’all in a week or so!

My Top Five Posts of 2018

My Top Five Posts of 2018

The year is coming to an end in a few weeks, and in these twilight days of 2018, I’m one to reflect on the things I’ve accomplished. Last year, I revisited my top five posts of 2017, and I thought it’d be interesting to do that again this year.

This has been a banner year for my blog—I’ve seen a lot more traffic than I ever have before, which is always exciting. After all, I’ve wanted to make this site my primary focus rather than spreading bits and pieces of myself all over social media. My hope is that this becomes a place where readers can find more than just generic author-bloggy stuff but also interesting content. Based on my top posts, I think I’m finding that balance. So, let’s see what resonated, we’ll start at number five and work our way to number one.


Eight Writing Tips from Eight Different Writers5. Eight Writing Tips from Eight Different Writers

Writers are often asked to offer up their personal “rules” for writing, and unless you’re Jonathan Franzen, other authors (or aspiring authors) love to share and discuss their thoughts. I noticed a correlation between the number eight and decided to riff off that—and then things went out of control. There is good advice to be had here from masters in the field, glean from it what you can.


Mapping Resources for Authors4. Mapping Resources for Authors (and GMs)

My background is in graphic design, and as a reader, a good map has always drawn me in—many fantasy authors (and game masters) need maps for their various projects, and they don’t have the skill set to render them in a useful way. My hope with this post was to deliver a handy guide for the more artistically challenged authors (or GMs) by exploring the map creation software and sites currently available.


Your Fav is Problematic—That's Okay3. Your Fave is Problematic—That’s Okay

If there is one post I am most proud of this year, it’s this one—for a long time I thought it’d be number one. Consider this my manifesto. An appeal for the wicked, as it were. I want you to write fiction that makes people uncomfortable. Give us perspectives outside our echo chambers. Make us care. Let our hearts be in conflict.


The 2018 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide2. The 2018 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

As always the internet loves a good gift guide. For the fifth straight year, my Lovecraftian gift guide has attracted all manner of visitors who are eager to see what strange and unusual items I’ve discovered over the year. This year’s list is no different. There’s a ton of great gifts, and there is still time to get your orders in on many of these products.


That brings us to number one… the most prominent post of 2018 was…


H.P. Lovecraft Really Liked Sending Christmas Poetry1. H.P. Lovecraft Really Liked Sending Christmas Poetry

I’ll be honest, this one took me by surprise. For a while now, during the holiday season, I’ve often shared Lovecraft’s weird Christmas poems, but this rarity quickly took off, in a single day it surpassed all other posts for the year. That’s the weird internet for you. Go figure.


So, there are the top five posts decided by you, the reader! I’m disappointed that none of my Raunch Review series made the top five, but I still have high hopes for those posts. I firmly believe they’ll eventually find their audience and I’ll get some crazy email from someone adamantly disagreeing with my judgments.

Thank you to all my readers who read, comment, and share the stuff I post on I Make Stories. Sharing my posts on your blogs and social media accounts makes a difference. It means a lot to see your excitement and that excitement makes it all worthwhile. With your help, you made 2018 the best year ever, and I’m excited to see what 2019 holds.

❄️ 💀 ❄️


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 →

Quick Hiatus

Quick Hiatus

For the next ten days or so I will be intentionally incommunicado with this blog and the rest of the internet as a whole. Responses to emails and comments will be delayed. Kari-Lise and I will be traveling to New England, where we will be attending a wedding, visiting a National Park, and where I hope to eat a lobster roll (or seven.) I might occasionally post to Instagram, so if you’re not following me over there, feel free.

There are quite a few posts in the hopper (including one already scheduled.) My current plan is to resume normal blog activities around mid-September. If you’re looking for something to read here in the interim, here are a few of my more popular posts over the last few years:

Farewell Facebook

Farewell Facebook

Today, I clicked delete on my Facebook account. It was a long time coming, and I’m not sad to see it go. Facebook has become a behemoth in the last decade, an irresponsible behemoth that created unethical systems used to prey on its users. Participation felt like a taciturn approval, and I didn’t want to validate that sort of behavior any longer.

For creators, Facebook has changed. A once vibrant landscape has slowly walled creators off onto Pages where our projects and content was no longer seen by the very people who were interested. It began to urge us to “boost posts”—five dollars here or a ten spot there. But boosted posts rarely returned worthwhile engagement. Promoting Pages often yielded poor results—likes and shares from shell accounts generated by click farms. Practices Facebook claims don’t exist, but the evidence says otherwise. I’ve watched friends with thousands and thousands of followers grow frustrated as engagement slipped away and the site became a meaningless money pit.

It was also a distraction. Yet one more place to waste time doing nothing. Over the last few years, I’ve shifted away from social media and doubled down on blogging. I love this blog. Here I control my content. If anyone wants to see what I am working on they just have to visit. I share newsphotos, thoughts, and opinions all the time. I get traffic. I get emails from readers. It’s not hidden by algorithms or walled off on some buried Page. It’s all accessible, and that’s glorious. It’s the old web, sure, but it’s reliable.

Things can always change. Microsoft isn’t the same company it was in the 90s. Apple isn’t the same company it was in the late-80s. Facebook ten years from now will be different than it is today. Under new leadership perhaps Facebook could turn things around quickly, but in the meantime, I’m not holding my breath, and I’m not wasting my time. I got books to write.


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 →

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.