Tag Archives: reading

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

It’s time for a convention debriefing! A few weekends ago I attended OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It was the smallest convention I’ve attended since 2014’s SpoCon. That isn’t necessarily bad; there are a lot of things to like about smaller conventions. Like Norwescon 40, I attended as a panelist and skipped running a table. So for the OryCon highlights, I think it’d be best to follow in Norwescon 40’s footsteps and break it down day by day.


⛅️ Friday, Day 1

Readings moved to 216
OryCon 39 Readings moved to 216

I left Seattle early and arrived at the hotel around noon. I checked it and saw a fellow author and pal of mine, Elliot Kay. (Go buy his books.) I had a few panels that day. The highlight was the discussion on Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting. My fellow panelists—Elliot among them—were fantastic. The room was full. The conversation was lively. I thought it was great.

Afterward, Elliot and I sat in on Economics in Fantasy. It’s something I thought about a lot while working on Coal Belly, so I was pleased to see it as a topic for discussion. Due to its location near the lobby, the room was a bit noisy, but the panelists were knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the discussion and debate.

I did a reading from The Stars Were Right later that evening. It went well, but it was sparsely attended. Readings had been moved last minute and were in an offshoot room adjacent to a suite. It’s wasn’t ideal. I think it cut down on foot traffic. It was the smallest reading I’ve done. But those who sat in the room seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun.

Afterward, I sat in on another reading and then a reader of mine, and I chatted about the Bell Forging Cycle for a long while. (Thanks, Michael.) I’m always happy to talk about Lovat and the Territories. An excellent way to end the night.


🌤 Saturday, Day 2

Most of my programming was later that day. I grabbed brunch with some good friends and wrote a bit before heading to my panels. The highlight of the day was a tossup between Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not? and Fantasy with Non-European settings.

The Nanowrimo panel was lightly attended but was moderated by another friend and fellow author, Lee French. (Go buy her books.) The audience was engaged. I enjoyed everyone’s questions and hearing other’s perspectives. One audience member decided to answer their phone while a panelist was talking and I can’t believe I have to write this: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s rude, and it disrupts others enjoyment of the convention. If you get a phone call, excuse yourself and go outside. It’s respectful to other attendees and the panelists.

Yup it's me, sitting on a panel.
It’s me! Sitting on Fantasy with Non-European settings panel

Fellow author Fonda Lee expertly moderated Fantasy with Non-European settings (go buy her new book, Jade City, I’m reading it right now and quite enjoying it.) The room was full, and I loved the panel. It was the highlight of my convention. The discussion was stimulating, and my fellow panelists were whipsmart. I learned a lot. I also came away with a ton of great reading recommendations.

My pal Sky came north from Portland, and he spent most of the day with me. Together we hit up some panels, one on Audiobook Technique Presentation with Matt Haynes which was great, and another titled Why Urban Fantasy Matters. It’s always good to have someone to discuss panels with afterward, and I’m grateful Sky came out, his presence made the day better.


🌥 Sunday, Day 3

View from my office for three days
View from my OryCon office for three days

My last day was a quiet one. Not uncommon for most conventions, attendees are exhausted and hungover, and things tend to move a bit slower. I only had one panel, Overturning the Cart: Revolution in Fantasy, and it was one of the first for the day. When my fellow panelists and I arrived, we were worried few would show up. But people began to trickle in. While small, it ended up being a pretty damn fine panel. The audience was engaged. The questions towards the end were great. It was a robust way to end my three days at Orycon.


I arrived home tired but feeling pretty good about the convention and the people I met. It’s proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday delayed this post, and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. If I’m invited back to OryCon, I’d like to get more involved. I’d also like to spend some time gaming. The Call of Cthulhu sessions always clashed with panels, and I wanted to sit in on a game, it’s been far too long.

Smaller conventions are more intimate than their larger siblings, the pace is a bit slower, it’s easier to find parking, panels don’t fill as fast, and attendees are more willing to stop and chat. You don’t feel like flotsam adrift in a sea of SFF-loving bodies. Instead, it’s more akin to a large gathering of friends hanging out and celebrating the stuff they love. You should go next year.

Thanks for a great convention OryCon. I had a blast.


Want to read about my past con experiences from this year? Check out my debriefings from Norwescon 40 and Lilac City Comicon 2017. I’m still planning out my 2018 schedule; have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


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 →

Reading Recommendation: Blogroll #2

Reading Recommendation: Blogroll #2

Last time I did this, it was 2013. So it’s been a ridiculously long time between posts. A lot has changed since those carefree halcyon days of yore. Blogs have fallen off my RSS reader, others have been abandoned, and new ones have risen to take their rightful place. Since it has been internet eons, I thought it was high-time to take a moment and share five blogs I’ve been enjoying over the last few years.


File 770

Mike Glyer’s Hugo Award-winning fanzine is a reliable resource for those who want to stay in touch with the comings and goings in science-fiction and fantasy. If you write speculative fiction, or if you’re just a fan I highly recommend making File 770 a part of your day. (In particular pay close attention to their daily Pixel Scroll.)


Pornokitsch

Don’t let the name fool you, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin run a solid fanzine. While you’ll find the more standard book reviews and opinion articles among their content, Pornokitsch also focuses on sharing longer-format articles. Well written and often thought-provoking these posts make Pornokitsch stand out.


Mythcreants

A blog about RPGs and writing with a focus on gaming and worldbuilding, Mythcreants goes out of their way to be a resource for the creator. There’s a lot of content, from podcasts and how-to articles, all work towards making your work the best it can be.


MONSTER BRAINS

Those who have been reading my blog (and books) for any length of time know that I am a big fan of old art—epsecially the weird stuff. (Heck, the engravings of Gustave Doré features prominently on the covers of The Bell Forging Cycle.) MONSTER BRAINS celebrates the weird old creations and highlights the strange. It’s an excellent resource and a must-follow for monster fans.


Fantasy Book Critic

The good folks at Fantasy Book Critic focus on—as one would expect from their name—reviewing fantasy books. But, unlike many other sites of their size, they’re also active in the indie community and go out of their way to feature articles from newcomers. It’s a great community and a phenomenal blog.


Hopefully, it doesn’t take me four more years before I  serve up another blog roll. In the meantime, I hope you find these five blogs handy. Perhaps they will become regular reading for you as well.

How about you? What are your go-to daily blogs? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Toni Morrison

You Must Be the One

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

Toni Morrison


As I’m wont to do, I’ve been talking with friends about writing. Lately, a lot of our talk has been around the whole work vs. passion and how it plays into success and failure. Writing what we think we should be writing versus writing what we want to write. Today I stumbled across this Toni Morrison quote which hits at the center of it all.

Write your story. The only way to fail in writing is to not write.

Three Quotes on Libraries

Three Quotes on Libraries

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

Ray Bradbury


“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”

Laura Bush


“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower


There’s intent here, a reason why I selected libraries as today’s topic. Consider this a passionate plea in support. Why? Well, yesterday, Seattle Review of Books shared a proposed Republican budget from Texas Representative Bill Flores, chair of the Republican Study Committee. Within their Blueprint for a Balanced Budget (read it at that link) it proposes cutting federal funding for Libraries (less than 0.01% of the budget.)

Appalling as that may sound, it’s a serious proposal and one that could end up on the desk of our new President. I shared it yesterday unsure of how to react. I was stunned and shocked and disappointed. Especially knowing how important the library system has become for our country. The library meant so much to me as a child and remains crucial to me as an adult. In an era when non-profits are struggling to make ends meet the Library system remains a vital institution in helping enrich our communities. Cutting funding is an ignorant and dangerous step in the wrong direction and it baffles my mind that defunding would even be considered.

This morning, my friend Matt Nelson (creator of the wonderful Catbeard the Pirate) joined me in an impassioned plea for the support of American libraries. I highly recommend you read his own thoughts and experiences. You can either start reading using the tweet below or check out this easy to read Storified version. It won’t take long and it’s worth your time.

Yes, It’s Happening in Books

For a while now, in light of the recent string of tragedies we’ve seen in the world, I’ve watched fellow authors make a particular comment. (Most of the time on social media.) It can be paraphrased as such:

“None of the things happening in the world right now are happening in books.”

Okay, I can understand where they are coming from, but such a blanket statement feels a touch fantastical. Yes, the violence, destruction, hatred, and bigotry in books have little impact on the real-life lives of people, and yes, there is a solace there. But, to say those things don’t happen in the pages of fiction feels a little naive. Fiction deals with challenging topics all the time. Look at many popular book series on the market today; nothing is off-limits.

Take J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which began as a children’s book; it danced with bullying, bigotry, racism, and the aftereffects of murder. Harry Potter himself suffers, at the very least, mental abuse at the hands of his aunt and uncle (you could probably argue physical abuse as well.)

The world of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a darling of the YA genre, is horrific. The children of an enslaved populace are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of a wealthy, hedonistic society and its corrupt government. It’s not a pleasant place.

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which is the most mature of these examples, deals with the consequences following a myriad of tragedies. You name it, and it’s there: violence, rape, murder, torture, war, slavery, incest, rebellion, terrorism, bigotry, regicide, patricide and on and on and on and on. The novels are laden with grim events.

That is how it should be. It is what makes fiction so great. Fiction is a safe space that lets us confront those problems; fiction lets us experience both the beautiful and the terrible. It allows us to see different perspectives that we may never face in our daily lives. That kind of intellectual experience hones us as people. It makes it possible for us to build up generous amounts of empathy, so when real-world problems confront us (and they will, believe me), we will have the tools to face them. As Neil Gaiman so eloquently explained in his essay Little Triggers,

“There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the Web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.”

It does a great disservice to hand-wave away the terrible and sometimes disturbing themes of fiction. If anything, I believe that they should be celebrated. The personal value brought on by these perspectives is unmeasurable to us as a society, and thankfully—unlike real life—if a book ever gets to be too much, we can always close it for a little while.

Come See Me at Norwescon 39

You are all probably aware by now that starting this Thursday I will be attending Norwescon 39 in SeaTac Washington, and it’s going to be a busy four days. Not only will I be running a table on Writer’s Row, but I will also be on quite a few panels, and I’m doing a reading Saturday night. Come on by and say hello!

You can click here to view my full schedule of panels. If you’re a Guidebook user (and you should be, it’s a handy app), you can find me on there as well. When I’m not on a panel, look for me at table 43. I’ll be beneath a big Bell Forging Cycle banner. You can also click the image below to see where I will be hanging out most of the time.

Come see me at Norwescon 39

On Friday the 25th, my good friend and fellow author Steve Tontounghi will be helping me out at my table. His incredible debut novel, Join, comes out in a little under a month (April 19th) make sure to ask him about it. He has some cool custom badge ribbons and a few advanced review copies of Join to giveaway. So keep and eye out for him!

My table is going to be full! Like last year I will be bringing copies of my books and all three The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, and Red Litten World can be purchased at a special convention price. Plus, I’ll also have Bell Caravans patches for sale as well. As with previous cons, there will be plenty of free swag: stickers, bookmarks, buttons, and my super cool badge ribbons.

Finally, until Wednesday, you can still vote for which book I’ll read from Saturday night. Right now Red Litten World is ahead, but The Stars Were Right is close right behind it. Nothing like listening to me read some Lovecraftian urban fantasy right before your evening starts. If you haven’t already, click here and vote.

Norwescon 39 starts in 4 days! Looking forward to seeing everyone there.