Tag Archives: reading

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.

Norwescon 39

My Norwescon 39 Schedule

Norwescon 39 is just around the corner (57 days!) and yesterday I received my tentative schedule! Last year I ran my table and had a blast. But this year, things are going to be a lot busier. As before, I’ll be back with another table among Writer’s Row, plus I’ll also be participating on panels, and I’ll be doing a reading on Saturday night. It’s going to be fun.

Full details are below. I tried to link to the blogs or twitter accounts for the panel’s moderators and my fellow panelists. I’m honored to be sitting next to such talented folks. I’m excited to hang out with everyone again. Listing all this out got me excited, I can’t wait.


THURSDAY, MARCH 24th

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row
Details: Once again I’ll be headquartering myself at a table. Of course, I’ll bring along copies of all The Bell Forging Cycle books and, like last year, I’ll also have a bunch of free swag: stickers, buttons, and bookmarks galore. Stop on by, say hello. I’ll sign your books. We can talk cosmic horror, indie publishing, cover design, world building, weird fiction, Lovecraft, and pretty much whatever else you feel like.

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM — Horror’s Fantasy Roots

Location: Cascade 10
Moderator: Logan L. Masterson
Panelists: Jason Vanhee, Nathan Crowder, K. M. Alexander
Details: Join Logan L. Masterson, the other panelists, and myself as we discuss a time when the darkness was fought back with swords and sorcery as we explore the roots and the muddy line between fantasy and horror.

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row


FRIDAY, MARCH 25th

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writers Row

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM — Horror Influences

Location: Cascade 9
Moderator: Nina Post
Panelists: Morgue Anne, Alex C. Renwick, Lisa Bolekaja, K. M. Alexander
Details: Join Nina Post as she talks with myself and the other panelists on who inspired us to write and create horror and on what scares us. Should be a good time.

1:00 PM – 7:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row


SATURDAY, MARCH 26th

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM — SF/Fantasy Battle Royale

Location: Cascade 9
Moderator: Matt Youngmark
Panelists: Erik Scott de BiePeter Orullian, K. M. Alexander
Details: Who would win in a fight? A fast-paced, bracket-style, breathtakingly unscientific showdown to determine this year’s Ultimate Fictional Champion. Ready…? Fight! This will be fun.

9:00 PM – 9:30 PM — Reading: K. M. Alexander

Location: Cascade 1
Moderator: K. M. Alexander
Details: Hey, look at this, I’m doing a reading! Before you hit up a room party or turn in for the evening why not come by and let me read you a creepy excerpt from one of my books. Which one… well, I’m not sure yet! (I might have a little poll to decide. Stay tuned.)


SUNDAY, MARCH 27th

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM — Horror As a Mirror

Location: Cascade 13
Moderator: Jeremy Zimmerman
Panelists: Jude-Marie GreenKate Jonez, K. M. Alexander
Details: What does the horror genre tell us about the culture in which it was written? What does today’s horror tell us about modern society? And as a creator, how do we craft stories that have a greater impact by reflecting on things that resonate more deeply with our audiences? Join us for this thought-provoking panel.

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM — Location: Horror’s Unsung Character

Location: Cascade 10
Moderator: Laura Anne Gilman
Panelists: Lisa Bolekaja, Arinn Dembo, Logan L. Masterson, K. M. Alexander
Details: Where a story is set lends itself to the impact of that story. Whether you set your story in a crumbling castle, a small town in Maine, or a sleek office tower, how do writers craft a setting with staying power? Come for favorite examples and ways to build your own and play against expectations to greater effect.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM — Writer’s Row

Location: Writer’s Row

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM — Level Up Your Self-Publishing Skills

Location: Cascade 12
Moderator: Elliott Kay
Panelists: Matt Youngmark, Ryan Macklin, K. M. Alexander
Details: Elliot Kay leads us in a discussion on self-publishing. How do you find a good editor or cover artist? What’s your pricing strategy? Does free work? What are the best keywords to use? How do you get reviews? We’ll discuss the best practices for putting out a professional product and the current strategies for finding success.


You can preregister for Norwescon 39 here and get passes to all four days for only $70. There’s also a lot of information at Norwescon.org including details on this year’s guests of honor, The Philip K. Dick Awards, Doubletree hotel information, and a lot more. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

Friday Link Pack 12/11/2015

Friday Link Pack 12/11/15

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, my weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! If you missed the post, please be aware, the Friday Link Pack is being sunsetted at the end of this year.

All right, business done, let’s get to it.


WRITING:

The Importance Of Jumping The Shark As Early As Possible
Charlie Jane Anders, the author of the forthcoming All the Birds in the Sky, discusses how jumping the shark as early as possible will help establish the weirdness in your worlds without having to alienate your audience from stranger things to come.

Dealing With The Protagonist Who Won’t Talk to You And The Character Who Refuses To Be Cut
We have all been there, we’re ready to write, but we’re struggling with a particular character. Something about them gnaws at us, making them tough to write. What do you do? In this post, Lauren Sapala offers advice about dealing with problem characters head on and how you can overcome those blocks.

‘Based On A True Story’: The Fine Line Between Fact And Fiction
What happens when the lines between fiction and nonfiction begin to blur? Geoff Dyer and others explore this idea in this fantastic piece for the Guardian.

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves
While the accessibility of streaming media is incredibly handy, is there a case for having shelf after shelf of books for children to peruse? Teddy Wayne makes the case in this article for the New York Times.


ART:

Get Ready To Appreciate The Fantasy Art of Frank Frazetta on a Whole New Level! [NSFW]
In the sixties and seventies, it was Frazetta who defined the look of Conan the Barbarian and much of the swords and sorcery era. Recently a cache of early Frazetta’s sketches, drawings, and watercolor paintings went up for auction, and we can appreciate his skill on a whole new level. [Thanks to Steve for sharing this with me.]

An Octopus Typewriter by Courtney Brown
For her piece for this years California Sculpture SLAM, Oakland artist Courtney Brown brought out Self Organization a 1938 Underwood typewriter that has seemingly come alive. Make sure to check out the creation process on Brown’s site as well.

Perfect Faces And Bodies Evanescing Into Rough Pastel Brushstrokes
Painter Meredith Marsone’s juxtaposition of the delicate and beautiful with the chaotic and raw create pieces that are both intimate and yet melancholy. Beautiful work.


RANDOM:

The 2015 Lovecraft-Inspired Gift Guide
Just like last year, I put together a handy little gift guide for the Lovecraft fan in your life. I cover everything from books to music to apparel and games. Lots of neat stuff.

Yule Log 2.015
The tradition of the Yule Log is a strange one, but sitting around a comfy fire and telling stories is something I can get behind. Yule Log 2.015 is a collection of short films created by various artists that hope to bring the Yule Log tradition into the digital age. It’s fun stuff. What’s your favorite?

Where’s Me a Dog? Here’s You a Dog: the South’s Most Unusual Regionalism
Language is a fluid thing it shifts and changes Across countries, within states, even among cities. Atlas Obscura delves into the strange world of grammatical variations throughout America centered around one strange turn of phrase.

Ghost Streets Of Los Angeles
BLDBLOG takes a look at streets of Los Angeles that have long since disappeared but who’s scars have remained. A cool look on the evolution of a modern city.


WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Aokigahara
“Aokigahara, also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees, is a 35-square-kilometre (14 sq mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.

The forest has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, and it is a notoriously common suicide site (in which 57 took place in 2010). For this reason, a sign at the head of the main trail urges suicidal visitors to think of their families and contact a suicide prevention association.”


H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Man of Stone
A trip to visit strange lifelike statuary deep in the Catskill Mountains goes awry in this story collaboration with Hazel Heald.


GIF OF THE WEEK:World's Best Eagle.