Tag Archives: blogging

My Ongoing Blog Series You Can Read Today

My Ongoing Blog Series You Can Read Today

There’s plenty of writers on the internet who user their blogging platform to dish out advice on writing or focus on the craft. While that is all well and good, I’ve intentionally chosen to do something a little different with my blog. For several years, among the book updates, pleas for reviews, and general news—I’ve been writing several reoccurring series about all manner of things. Fake swearing, my books, plants, riverboats, history, the list is large and full of interesting things.

In this post, I’ve collected all my ongoing series and have provided links so you can peruse the various categories—I even offer starting suggestions. So, if you’re looking for something a bit different than your standard author-blog content, consider starting with one of these…

Wild Territories

Frequency: When they’re ready
Category: Bell Forging Cycle lore
Current Number of posts:
Three
Start with: Faiths and Creeds of Lovat

It’s always fun to explore the backstory of a series. I love extending some of the lore and legend that surrounds my novels. I’m also a fan of PBS and Marty Stouffer’s Wild America. That all came together for Wild Territories, a series about the extended lore of my books. Currently, there’s only a handful of posts, but with Gleam Upon the Waves coming soon, I’ll have many more on the way.


Garden of Horrors

Frequency: Monthly/Bi-monthly
Category: The natural world is gross
Current Number of posts: Nine
Start with: The Clathrus Archeri

Nature is a wild and weird place, in this series, I take a look at the more unusual bits of the earth’s flora. Generally, it’s pretty gross, sometimes it’s disturbing, but it’s always fascinating to see what sort of bizarre adaptations exist. Sometimes that feeling of disgust can come from the most unexpected places.


Raunch Reviews

Frequency: Monthly
Category: Language
Current Number of posts: Sixteen
Start with: Mork & Mindy/Starsiege: Tribes

The English language is a stupid language. It evolves, steals, shifts and absorbs, and it never looks the same across centuries. Slang is often the driver of this drift. Raunch Reviews is a series about slang, particularly, 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.


Riverboats! Revolution! Magic!

Frequency: Occasional
Category: History
Current Number of posts: Ten
Start with: A Riverboat’s Menu

Researching history for my big ol’ project Coal Belly has given me insight into bits and bobs of history and the details surrounding riverboats—stuff I never learned in school. In these posts, I share my findings, focusing in on the people or technology that made these vessels so unique and sharing a plethora of photos from dusty old archives.


#NoBadMaps

Frequency: Monthly (for 2019, at least)
Category: Cartography/History
Current Number of posts: Nineteen
Start with: #NoBadMaps

This started as a project to help fantasy indie authors develop their own maps for their books and has grown into something much more. Now, eleven brush sets and several tutorials later #NoBadMaps has become something greater, and it’s exciting to see people using these in their work.


Visual Inspiration

Visual Inspiration

Frequency: Occasional
Category: Art
Current Number of posts: Eleven
Start with: Yuri Shwedoff

I’ve been a graphic designer for nearly two decades now; I’m drawn to visual mediums. Often, I come across an artist’s work, be it paintings, concept art, or digital drawings that enliven me creatively. In this series, I share the work of artists who’s work I have found inspiring, perhaps they’ll inspire you as well.


Watching History

Frequency: Occasional
Category: History
Current Number of posts: One
Start with: Watching History 1

When I was a kid, my favorite TV channel was the History Channel. But in recent year, the History Channel has eschewed history in favor of scripted and reality programming. It’s a bummer. Thankfully, the internet has stepped in. There are all sorts of amazing creatives who run YouTube channels with a focus on making history come alive. In here, I share my favorites.


Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

Frequency: Yearly
Category: Cosmic Horror Gifts
Current Number of posts: Five
Start with: The 2019 Lovecraft-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

For the last six years, I’ve been assembling a highly-curated list of cosmic horror goodies that are perfect for yourself or the cosmic horror fan in your life. Books, Games, Music, Apparel, Housewares and a whole lot more! Loads of goodies worth checking out around the holidays or… at any time of the year, really.


I’m really proud of the work I’ve been doing. It’s been nice to work on blog posts in between writing sessions. Keeps me on my toes, lets me explore different concepts, and I think it makes my books better. Hopefully, you’ll find something entertaining or eye-opening among this list.

Have a question, comment, or want to drop me a line? Leave a comment below, or visit the Contact K. M. Alexander page for a list of handy ways you can reach out.


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 →

Farewell Facebook, One Year Later

Farewell Facebook, One Year Later

One year ago today, I deleted my Facebook account. (I laid out my reasoning in this post.) I haven’t gone back, and I’ve had little temptation to return. Since it’s been a full year, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my decision and share what I’ve learned over my last year without Facebook.

I’m still in the ecosystem—much like Amazon or Google, it’s hard to remove yourself from Facebooks grasping tentacles completely. Instagram (from Facebook™) is still in my life, and I share work there frequently. I also use WhatsApp to connect with friends outside of the US. But, if alternatives rose up or if these apps no longer brought me value, I’d consider leaving either of them. Instagram, in particular, hasn’t gotten better.

Much of my suspicions from a year ago were proven correct, and I’m in a better headspace because I’ve left. I don’t have to read cruel, insipid, bigoted, or racist diatribes that were disappointingly common. I’m no longer marketed products I don’t want. My work isn’t walled off in strange little corners. I don’t have Facebook hounding my wallet in a vain attempt to “boost” posts for my “audience.” I don’t have to worry about my private information being stolen or sold. (Not just a Facebook problem, I realize.) Succinctly: I no longer have to engage with nothing for the sake of nothing.


“I no longer have to engage with nothing for the sake of nothing.”


The wicked trick of social media is convincing you that it’s essential. That you’ll lose contact with friends, colleagues, and loved ones if it’s removed from your life. That you’re somehow missing out if you’re not engaged. It sows FOMO to encouraging engagement. Reality couldn’t be further from Facebook’s “truth.” If anything I found the opposite is true. Facebook isn’t essential. This has been the best year on my blog since I started doing this eight years ago. My audience is still here, and I don’t have to wonder if my readers see what I share. It’s all visible. Nothing is hidden. Likewise, I’ve made time for the important things. I’ve stayed connected with relationships that matter. My interests have expanded.

What one chooses in regards to their social media presence is personal. My path might not be right for you. If Facebook brings you joy, then stay on Facebook. But if it doesn’t, then why are you wasting your time? As for me, I’m glad I left. Happy even. It was a big step in decoupling the behaviors built into social media. (Something I wrote about a few weeks ago.) Now, when I sit down to work, the old muscle memory isn’t betraying me by sending me into a path of wasted time and squandered emotional energy.

As I said a year ago: things can always change. Perhaps with a shift in leadership Facebook could turn itself around. Companies change, ten years from now, it’ll be different than it is today. Who knows what the future holds? I have no regrets in leaving, and honestly, I wish I had taken this step sooner. It’s been a good 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 →

Eight Hundred

Eight Hundred

You never think it’ll happen to you and then it does. Since I started writing, I told myself I had thick skin. I believed myself armored with tenacity. But, armor eventually fails. Creative chinks don’t care about our intentions. They reveal themselves in a hundred different ways and often too late.

A book can flop. The most well-meaning comment can eviscerate. Sales numbers can collapse. Positive momentum can falter and then vanish entirely. The list is endless. Any of those can wear you down. They can make you want to give up. They can destroy you.

It happened to me around late-2016/early-2017. The catalyst is unimportant but the outcome isn’t. My armor failed. I felt defeated, and my confidence was shattered. I didn’t know what to do. I felt creatively adrift. That pernicious devil known as imposter syndrome arrived, and he brought his bag of “What Ifs” with him. What if I’m not good enough? What if this story is crap? What if I’m not cut out for this? What if? What if? What if?


“What if I’m not good enough? What if this story is crap? What if I’m not cut out for this?”


I withdrew creatively. I told very few. I kept up appearances, but inside it hurt. Thinking back, it still hurts. But, I kept writing, I drained those emotions out on the keyboard. Time passed. I finished one manuscript, then another—my biggest project to date—there were failed projects in between, unfinished starts, and discarded ideas. There always is. But I kept going. The writing didn’t stop. The writer is tempered by adversity, and I worked through it doubting myself the whole way. Eventually, I returned to the Bell Forging Cycle.

Writing is an interesting endeavor. There are a thousand ways to do it, a thousand voices offering (or selling advice), and numerous experts waxing poetic on a soapbox. It’s no wonder we all get the author equivalent of stage fright. What if someone’s way is better? What if we’re not efficient enough? What if our style changes? What if we’re not striving for the same goals as everyone else? We judge ourselves based on the perceived success of others. It’s no wonder even the masters talk about being stricken with impostorism. In a world of “experts,” it’s become a cyclical feedback loop.

So why all this? Why bare my soul now? This is my eight-hundredth post on I Make Stories. Every two hundred posts, I take a moment and evaluate where I am at creatively. It’s become a tradition. (Previously: 600. 400. 200.) Who knows how many thousands of words I’ve shared here? This silly little site has become a bit of refuge over the past few years—a place to vent, explore, and share—it’s my outlet.

It’s funny how in moments of struggle you forget your successes. I have three books behind me with a slew of fantastic reviews. I have readers who email me with excited questions or words of encouragement. (Or just wondering when the next book is coming.) I have colleagues who trust my opinion on their work. I have a community of creatives around me. When I started this blog eight years ago, I had no idea where it’d go. I had no clue what would happen. I wasn’t classically trained. I had a limited college education. I was a twenty-something kid with big ideas—that’s it.

But, here I am eight years later and staring at the completed third draft of Gleam Upon the Waves, Book IV of my Bell Forging Cycle. For those patiently waiting: we’re getting close.

Interestingly, I am at this point on this project when the 800th post has arrived. Here I reflect. In manuscript land, I’ve reached the moment where it’s time to contact my beta readers. The point where I solicit the first round of feedback on the roughest of stories. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. I can feel those old emotions welling up. Those old doubts that held me in check and slowed me down. I’m worried. I’m scared. I’m nervous. The wound may have scarred over but it still stings. I can hear our ugly adversary cackling “you’re a fraud” in my creative ear. But, I know he’s a liar. I know theirs no truth in that. Perhaps if I had quit, he’d be right. But I didn’t stop. I kept writing. I stuck around. I’ve gotten better. I kept telling the stories I needed to tell. Saying the things I need to say. Sometimes that’s all we can do. Sometimes it’s all we should do.

Right now, Gleam’s a manuscript. Soon it’ll be a book. A book you’ll be able to read. And here we are, eight hundred posts behind us and more stories in the future. Milestones are meant to be passed. Stopping isn’t in the cards. It wasn’t before it most certainly isn’t now.

Post one thousand is somewhere in the future. And who knows where we’ll be then?


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 →

A Little Experiment

A Little Experiment

In the last month, I’ve conducted a little experiment. Namely, when I feel the desire to write a tweet/post/comment in reaction to some bit of news or an event—I don’t. Instead, I’ve begun to write any of my thoughts in a separate document for myself. I get them out of my head, but I keep them private. It’s been personally freeing and creatively invigorating. I expend the emotion, but I don’t need to double down on knee-jerk hot takes. This has allowed me to process better. Now, I find myself reflecting rather than just reacting.

One of the great sins of social media has been its empowerment of inanity. We’ve convinced everyone that every little thought matters and that every emotion is somehow sincere and deserves the world’s attention. That’s just not true. Every little thought doesn’t matter, and emotions lie. But, social media encourages this behavior. It removes critical thought and nuance and often leads to chaos and cruelty. It’s a never-ending cycle, the ouroboros eating itself. One that doesn’t leave the world a better place. Instead, it reinforces tribalism and disregards compromise, consideration, and compassion.

This isn’t to say I’ve cut out social media altogether—I haven’t. I’ve just shifted my focus. Lately, most of my posts have either been the promotion of something I’ve made or written—things I put more thought, research, and effort into than an off-the-cuff post or tweet—or I’ve used my little soapbox to promote someone else. Mentally, it’s put me in a good place. I think it makes for a better web. It’s gotten me to become more action-oriented. It’s removed the performative aspects that are commonplace (and encouraged) in social media. And, I’ve decoupled from the perpetual train of instant opinion. In doing so, I’ve found that I’ve become more thoughtful and empathic in my day to day interactions. I hope, ultimately, this makes me a kinder person.

That’s all a net positive for me. If it sounds interesting to you, I would encourage you to give it a shot. As far as experiments go, I’d say this has been a successful one.

Eight Years of Blogging

Eight Years

Today is I Make Stories’ eighth year.

I don’t typically mark anniversaries around here (I usually take time to reminisce every two. hundred. posts.) but I felt that today it’s essential to pause and thank each and every one of you for reading and supporting me and this blog over the last eight years, seven hundred eighty-four posts, three books, and six manuscripts. What a ride.

Your support means more than words can express. I couldn’t do this without you. Thanks for following, sharing, and commenting over the years. Thanks for the emails and messages of encouragement. Thanks for buying my books. Thanks for leaving reviews. Thanks for telling your friends. Thanks for all that and so much more.

I’m sure there will be further adventures ahead of us, and I’m glad you’re here with me.

 

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.