Tag Archives: norwescon

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.


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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!

2016 in Ten Awesome Photos

2016 in Ten Awesome Photos

For the past few years, I’ve assembled a post looking back via photos and reflecting on my experiences over the course of a year. The rule is to do it in ten photos, no more, no less, no excuses. (Check out 2015 in Ten Awesome Photos or 2014 in Ten Awesome Photos if you’re so inclined.) It’s a good way to reestablish what actually happened compared to my own perception. It also slows time down. A lot happens in a year.

After you do something long enough, it becomes a tradition. 2016 has been a tough year for me both creatively, and personally. But for every failure, there has been a success. Moments of dispair have been countered by moments of peace. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize those. Going back through these photos always grounds me and forces me to reflect.

So, with all that said, let’s take a look at my 2016.


2016_10photos_01The start of 2016 was cold and foggy. I took this picture on a long walk near my house early in the year. The themes of this image inadvertently became my themes for this year. If you read The State of the Cycle last December you know that in 2016 I was breaking from The Bell Forging Cycle for a bit and was planning to focus on some new projects. Solitude, contemplation, and a refocusing on my work and my writing were central for me throughout the year.


2016_10photos_02New year, new projects; I dove right in. For those who have followed this blog from the beginning, you’ll recognize the title Coal Belly. It was the first manuscript I tried to shop (and ultimately failed at selling) but the world and the characters never left me. This year I began it anew, refreshed and stripped down and I’m really excited where it’s going.


2016_10photos_03In the spring I returned to Norwescon for my second year. As before, It was a blast. This year I was busy. I spent my time running my table, sat on a few panels, and even managed to do a reading from Red Litten World. You can read a full breakdown in my Norwescon 39 Debriefing post. I will be returning in 2017, I can’t miss the 40th Anniversary.


2016_10photos_04Throughout the year, Kari-Lise and I would occasionally spend a few hours exploring antique stores and junk shops. These forays into the past inspired me to start collecting historical objects from American fraternal organizations and secret societies. It hits a sweet spot for me a blend of Americana, fading history, folk art and the fact some of the objects are just bizarre. I’m sure I’ll gather together a post soon.


My friend Steve Toutonghi launched his debut novel Join! He spent some time with me at Norwescon sharing his book, and I was able to go to a reading and signing of his at a local bookstore. It’s been great to watch him meet readers and share his work with the world. If you haven’t read his novel Join, you need to rectify that now. Check out my review on Goodreads and use the links on his site to pick it up for yourself. (It makes a great Christmas gift.)


2016_10photos_06I was lucky enough to meet Magnus Nilsson, the head chef at the remote two Michelin star restaurant Fäviken in Sweden. It’s no secret Kari-Lise, and I love to cook and were those people who consider ourselves foodies. I really respect Nilsson’s approach to cooking, his focus on simplicity, local ingredients, and the return to basics. He was super gracious. Now we need to plan a trip to actually visit Fäviken.


2016_10photos_07Lilac City Comicon was a smashing success and a bit of a whirlwind. It’s a fun romp full of wonderful people and cosplayers. The community in Spokane is really warm and welcoming. It was great hanging out with my fellow creators, meeting new people, and talking with readers. I’m planning a return this year. Make sure to read the Lilac City Comicon debriefing. I’m happy that it’ll be two days this year.


2016_10photos_08This summer Kari-Lise and I took two weeks to explore the National Parks of California. When I returned, I put together a little trip report detailing the journey. It was a fantastic excursion, full of hiking, marmots, and incredible vista and views. Traveling in the US, and especially in our National Parks, always reminds me that we live in a pretty great place.


2016_10photos_09As with every year, mountains were a reoccurring theme. I find them invigorating creatively and forever humbling. They’re a good place to reset and realize how small and petty my problems tend to be. With the help of some friends, Kari-Lise and I found our favorite trail on Mount Rainier. We liked it so much we returned to it again a month later with some family.


2016_10photos_10My Seattle Sounders won the MLS Cup! It was an incredible comeback season that began abysmally but ended with a run that took them to the playoff and eventually allowed them to win it all on penalty kicks! Also, my favorite player did this. Sounders ’til I die. I can’t wait for the 2017 season.


So, there was my 2016. Narrowing it down to ten photos was difficult, it’s always difficult. There are always things I left out: sporting events, craft fairs, new books, art openings, other hikes, time spent in the mountains, time spent in the desert, time spent on the coast (we went to nine National Parks this year). I took pictures of my food, my research work, my dogs, my rabbits, and so much more. Most of these images came from my Instagram account, if you’re not following me, please do! It’s usually a running record of my weekly activities and pictures of my adorable dogs.

Join me! Why not look back through your own year and narrow it down to ten awesome photos? Post those on your blog and leave me a link here in the comments. I’d love to see what happened in your year as well.

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

This past weekend I attended Norwescon 39 in SeaTac, Washington. This was my second year attending and like last year I had an outstanding time. As readers of my blog know with all my convention appearances, I like to do a debriefing wherein I recap the events, share photos, and talk about what I experienced during the con. (Check out my debriefing from last year.)

It was a wild weekend. I ran my table, sold a bunch of books, sat on six panels, and did a reading. Somewhere in there, I tried to get some sleep. Thankfully, unlike last year, I was not alone for the fours days; this time, I had assistance. My friend and fellow author, Steve Tontounghi came out on Friday and Saturday helped me out at my table and talked to people about his forthcoming novel, Join. And my wife Kari-Lise stepped up and pitched in Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was fun hanging out with them both. With their help, there weren’t any eleven-hours-on-my-feet days for me to deal with like last year. That alone made my time significantly more enjoyable.

Okay, let’s get to those highlights:

Books, Readings, Swag, and More

  • Once again, I sold a ton of books. Many were to new readers who seemed excited about stories set in a post-Lovecraftian world, and many were to my current readers who loved my books and wanted more. It was wonderful hearing directly from so many people and very encouraging.
  • I love when folks stop by and tell me how much they love my covers. I take a lot of time and effort to make sure they are something you’ll be proud of having on your bookshelf and knowing you notice means a lot.
  • This was the first year I handed out badge ribbons. I brought along three: Roader, Shambler, and Caravan Master (the rare one). I made a bet with my buddy Ace that he wouldn’t be able to collect all three. (I only allowed people to draw once.) He won. *grumble grumble* It was fun, and I think it might become a thing for everyone. Still trying to plot out how to make that work.
  • So many people came to my reading! As many of you know, I had the readers of this very blog choose what I read. As decided by the voters with 56.25% of the votes, I read the prologue from Red Litten World. People enjoyed it in all its grisly details. The next day quite a few attendees came to my table and bought a book because they liked what they heard. That made my con right there.

Friends & Fellow Authors


Oh, The Panels!NWC39_Set4

  • The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Battle Royale was easily the best panel I was on, I know I’m not alone in thinking this, here’s proof. It was hilarious, snarky, and a total blast. Big thanks to Matt Youngmark for putting it together and keeping things organized. The format was a bracket-style who-would-win-in-a-fight “discussion” in the end it came down to Rey from The Force Awakens and Marvel’s Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers. I was on team Rey in the final matchup, and sadly by popular vote, she lost. Maybe next year. #ReyWasRobbed. Agree? Feel different? Leave a comment and let me know why!
  • The horror track was really well put together. I was lucky enough to sit in on four different panels and had some incredible conversations about location, inspiration, and how horror is often a reflection of the time in which it is written. The first panel, expertly moderated by Logan Masterson, was about horror’s fantasy roots and stood out as the best of them, a lot of intelligent discussion.
  • The last panel I attended was ‘Level Up Your Self-Publishing Skills’ moderated by Elliot Kay. It was packed, and there was a lot of great questions from those in attendance. I wish it could have been more than an hour. There’s so much more all of us authors on that panel could have said, I wish we had more time. If you ever have a question about self/indie publishing you are always more than welcome to email me at hello@kmalexander.com. I’m happy to offer tips or advice where and when I can. As always, the best advice I can give is this: keep at it, write what you love, and never give up.

Cosplay & Norwesconners

  • Have I mentioned the incredible cosplay, yet? Well, as always it was fantastic, people put in a lot of time and effort, and it showed.
  • Tiny Rey was easily the most adorable cosplayer I saw. Let me go on record saying that I am so stoked to see another female character in Star Wars that young girls can emulate. Mad props to the writers for making that decision. It was needed.
  • Rorschach and I recreated out selfie photo from last year. Here was the photo from Norwescon 39 and the photo from last year, Norwescon 38. Kari-Lise pointed out that they are mirror images of each other. Not intentional and kind of funny.
  • I got a quest from an NPC. It was hilarious. That card is now pinned to my cork board above my desk. Someday I’ll find you drunken ghost.
  • I mentioned this last year, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s remarkable to see the diversity, openness, and acceptance between Norwesconners. The world outside of a convention can be mean. It’s nice to see a place where everyone is super considerate and goes out of their way to be encouraging and welcoming. Norwescon is unique like that.

Little Incidental Highlights

  • The Philip K. Dick Awards, I had a panel and was running a table, so I didn’t get to attend. But congratulations to Ramez Naam for his novel Apex winning the award. Also, congratulations to the special citation winner, Marguerite Reed for her novel Archangel.
  • Sunday’s cello accompaniment was lovely. Is this a regular thing? I remember there was music last year as well.
  • The green room staff, wonderful people there. They made the room a nice respite before and after panels.
  • The Norwescon staff were all really great. Thanks to everyone for making the event such a success. It’s a lot of hard work. Next time you see a volunteer, thank them.

It was a packed weekend, but so worth it. I’m already missing the whole buzz of the convention halls and the enthusiasm from my fellow attendees. There were a few times I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details of writing horror and time just didn’t allow it. It would have been great to have sat in on a panel that was specific to cosmic horror/weird fiction and Lovecraftian mythos, but that might be too narrow for a general sci-fi/fantasy convention like Norwescon.

Sunday night Kari-Lise and I came home exhausted but feeling accomplished. Monday morning, I rolled right from convention mode back into work mode. No rest for the wicked. I’ll see you again Norwescon, until then, it’s back to writing. Time is wasting, and I have many more stories to tell.

I'm Doing a Reading - Help Me Pick the Book

I’m Doing a Reading – Help Me Choose Which Book

Norwescon 39 is just over a week away, and on Saturday night, the 26th of March I’ll be doing a reading! (9:00 PM in Cascade 1, Come see me.) Hooray! In the past I’ve read the prologue from The Stars Were Right, I mean, it’s the beginning, right? It’s a good place as any to introduce people to the world of The Bell Forging Cycle. But I was thinking, Red Litten World has been out now for five months now, and while each book builds off of each other they have been written to be standalone novels, the books can be read in any order. So I don’t have to be worried about spoiling anything. That has tempted me to read the Red Litten World prologue instead.

Instead of hemming and hawing over the decision myself. I figured why not ask you, my community of amazing and loyal readers! Which book do you think I should read? Should it be the introduction with the anur spectacles dealer from The Stars Were Right, or should it be the prologue with the creepy evangelist from Red Litten World? Use the poll below and vote. Voting will continue for a week and end next Wednesday, the 23rd. Whatever book wins will be the book I read at Norwescon!

You can see my full Norwescon 39 schedule over here. Make sure you stop by my table on Writer’s Row and say hello. We can talk about Lovecraft, horror in general, sci-fi, fantasy, the world of the Territories, whatever! I’ll have all three books available for purchase (at the discounted convention price.) You can pick up some free swag and make sure to ask me about how you can get one of my badge ribbons. There is a lot of stuff going on and I can’t wait to hang out with everyone. So vote and I’ll see you at the convention!

K. M. Alexander's Norwescon 39 Ribbons

Norwescon 39 Badge Ribbons

Norwescon 39 is happening in only twenty-five days. This will be my second year attending, and if you’re in the Seattle area March 24-27th, you should come! You can preregister here, only $70 for the four days. It’s a great group of amazing people, and there is a ton to see and do, and plenty of places for you to participate.

If you follow me on Instagram, yesterday I posted a sneak peek of some of the new swag I am bringing to the convention: badge ribbons. Last year I discovered everyone’s affinity for the little things, and I can totally see the draw. They’re fun. Badge ribbons are little pieces of flair you attach to the bottom of your convention badge. They spell out all manner of things. Some are funny, some are silly, some go the way of nostalgia, some are descriptive titles, and some are informative. Throughout the convention, attendees collect these ribbons and attach them to one another, and the length of their ribbon chain grows and grows.

Norwescon Badge Ribbons
Thanks to Newt! (Left) and Loree Parker (Right) for letting me use their photos from Norwescon 38

Loree Parker’s badge was so tall I had to do some fancy photoshop work just to get a portion of her ribbons into the picture, check out the whole thing here. My own badge was a pittance in comparison, only three ribbons (such is the case when you’re trapped at a table. C’est la vie!) Since I am returning this year and a lot more active, I wanted to participate. So, I began brainstorming some ideas for ribbons. What could I bring? Obviously, straight forward advertising on these ribbons is dumb, but I still wanted to tie my ribbons into my books and the Lovecraft mythos in general. I think I settled on a good solution. I am happy to say I will be bringing not one but three ribbons to Norwescon 39. Here they are:

Caravan Master – Silver on Black
Caravan Master Badge Ribbon

Roader – White on BlackRoader Norwescon Badge Ribbon

Shambler – White on BlackShambler Norwescon Badge Ribbon

Like most of my swag, these ribbons are free, but there’s a catch. I’m turning this into a game. Of these three ribbons, you’re only going to get one. To get your hands on these beauties, you’ll need to track me down when I’m at my table on Writers Row (my full schedule is posted here), and you have to ask me about the ribbons. I will then produce THE BOX OF CHOOSING™, and you’ll get to draw a ribbon from the box. Only one ribbon is allowed per attendee, and whatever you draw is your ribbon. We’ll do this until I run out. The Roader and Shambler ribbons are plentiful, but there us only going to be about twenty-five of the rare and elusive Caravan Master ribbons. So, if you see someone lucky enough to get one, give them a sharp salute.

See you in twenty-five days.