Tag Archives: side life

An ECCC 2019 Debriefing

An ECCC 2019 Debriefing

This past weekend I joined thousands of others in attending the 17th annual Emerald City Comic Con in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. It’s incredible how far this show has come. This year I attended two days, Friday and Saturday alongside my friend and fellow writer Steve Toutonghi. (The paperback for his novel Side Life lands on April 9th, and you can and should preorder it now.)

I didn’t take a ton of photos this time. My iPhone is starting to show its age, and I am less inclined to snap photos as I wander. Besides, photographers more talented than I have it handled. If you want to see the cosplay, SYFY Wire did an excellent job covering the scene. They have galleries for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. I recommend checking ‘em out.


🌤 Friday

Elmore Leonard always said to avoid opening with the weather, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sorry, Mr. Leonard. This past weekend was the first true spring weekend in Seattle, and it was gorgeous. I have to admit I felt a little guilty hiding away inside an enormous convention center rather than being outside. But I pushed those feelings aside and bathed myself in the glow of fluorescent lighting.

Steve and I tend to spend most of our time at the convention around the Writers Block—an extension near Artist Alley with a focus on the literary. That said—in the past few years, throughout the show I’ve noticed more of a book presence. It’s been great to see.

Sci-Fi Adrenaline Rush – (Left to Right) Rob Hart, Peter Tieryas, Madeleine Roux, moderator Jason M. Hough

The highlight of the days was attending “Sci-Fi Adrenaline Rush” moderated by Jason M. Hough with Madeleine Roux, Peter Tieryas, and Rob Hart. The topic centered on high-tension action within science fiction, but when Q&A happened, it became a discussion on craft. Everyone one of the authors had solid advice, and the audience came with some great questions. Really makes me think there should be a regular forum for this sort of discussion at ECCC—a re-occurring panel where people can ask the authors how they approach writing.

After the panel, Steve and I chatted with each of them briefly. When I got home, I bought Roux’s House of Furies, Tieryas’ United States of Japan and preordered Hart’s The Warehouse. I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

The cosplay was unbelievable

☀️ Saturday

We began our day with a game show style panel hosted by author Myke Cole. He did an excellent job, and the audience was lively and invested—the goal was to stump the panelists and overall the audience did just that. That said when it comes to game show formats, I think I prefer the pop-culture Battle Royale competition that Matt Youngmark hosts at Norwescon.

I found a Brom!
I found a Brom!

I spent quite a bit of time wandering the show floor on Saturday. Speaking of Matt Youngmark, I picked up the latest novel in his Futhermucking Classics trilogy from his table. (Managed to score the last copy! Yay me!) They’re always a fun read and Matt has a great sense of humor. I also saw my pal Brom and checked out some of the work of other local artists in the Homegrown section.

The best panel I attended on day two “The Thrill of the Chase” a discussion on YA Thrillers with April Henry, Cat Winters, Deb Caletti, Parker Peevyhouse, and Paula Stokes. There was a lot here, some discussion about craft and approach to thrillers in general. There was a question regarding the drama that seems to vortex around the YA space—and how the authors themselves handle that while writing dark subject matter. Most of them said they ignored it, and that most YA readers don’t pay much attention to Twitter. That makes sense, after all when one is outside of an echo chamber you don’t usually hear anything. A good reminder.

The Thrill of the Chase – (Left to Right) moderator Avrey (whose last name I couldn’t find/remember—Sorry!), Deb Caletti, Cat Winters, April Henry, Paula Stokes, and Parker Peevyhouse

I wasn’t feeling so great Sunday morning, and I had a manuscript to fight with, so I ended up staying home and working on the last day. Unfortunately, I missed a few folks (Sorry, Lars!) which bummed me out. One of the best parts about conventions like ECCC is hanging out with cool and likeminded people.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at ECCC. I do wish there were more craft related discussions—nerding out can be great, but it’s nice to hear others experiences working in the industry. I feel like if I go again, I need to participate more—at the very least run a table. Otherwise, I tend to be aimless and a little restless. (I know, I know, I said as much last year. But I mean it this time.)

Thanks for a great convention Emerald City—it was a lot of fun. I’m sure I’ll see you again.


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 read previous convention debriefing 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 →

My Reading List for 2018

My Reading List for 2018

2018 draws to a close, and I can’t really say I’ll miss it. However one of the best highlights from the last year was reading so many amazing books. Every year I compiled a list of the novels I’ve read over the last 365 days. Everything I this list was pleasure reading, I tend to skip listing research books.


“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
—Stephen King

This list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge but is always a few books longer since I can’t list the books I beta read on Goodreads. Overall, I’m pleased with myself this year. I surpassed my goal (thirty-five) and ended up reading the most books in a single year I’ve ever read.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s vital for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.

Okay, to the list!


📚 Novels

  1. Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4)
    by Max Gladstone
  2. Those Across the River
    by Christopher Buehlman
  3. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) 🎧
    by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2)
    by James S.A. Corey
  5. Railsea …again
    by China Miéville
  6. Foreign Devils (The Incorruptibles #2)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  7. Outlander (Outlander #1) 🎧
    by Diana Gabaldon
  8. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  9. The Etched City
    by K.J. Bishop
  10. The Force: A Novel 🎧
    by Don Winslow
  11. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
    by Robin Sloan
  12. Xenos (Eisenhorn #1)
    by Dan Abbet
  13. Lexicon
    by Max Barry
  14. Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) 🎧
    by Scott Lynch
  15. Poor Man’s Fight (Poor Man’s Fight #1)
    by Elliott Kay
  16. Side Life
    by Steve Toutonghi
  17. Heart of Darkness
    by Joseph Conrad
  18. Rencor: Life in Grudge City
    by Matt Wallace
  19. Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder’s Arc #1)
    by Jeff Salyards
  20. The Stone Boatmen
    by Sarah Tolmie
  21. The Ballad of Black Tom
    by Victor LaValle
  22. Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archives #3) 🎧
    by Brandon Sanderson
  23. All the Birds in the Sky (All the Birds in the Sky #1)
    by Charlie Jane Anders
  24. Sip
    by Brian Allen Carr
  25. Vurt (Vurt #1) 🎧
    by Jeff Noon
  26. The Hike: A Novel 🎧
    by Drew Magary
  27. Fates and Furies
    by Lauren Groff
  28. The Twilight Pariah
    by Jeffrey Ford
  29. City of Stairs (The Divine Cities #1)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  30. Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Dryco)
    by Jack Womack
  31. Borne: A Novel 🎧
    by Jeff VanderMeer
  32. Blackfish City
    by Sam J. Miller
  33. A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata #2)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  34. Lost Gods: A Novel
    by Brom
  35. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) …again 🎧
    by Dan Simmons
  36. Between the Shadow and Lo
    by Lauren Sapala
  37. The Haunting of Hill House
    by Shirley Jackson
  38. Titus Groan (Gormenghast #1) 🎧
    by Mervyn Peake
  39. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1)
    by Robert Jordan
  40. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  41. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  42. Artemis 🎧
    by Andy Weir
  43. Senlin Ascends
    by Josiah Bancroft

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2018:

Vurt by Jeff NoonVurt
by Jeff Noon

A wild trip of a ride. A cyber-punkish exploration of addiction and depravity, but told through the technicolored language of beauty and desire. I was stunned. I couldn’t put it down and months later I still find myself hankering for a jam fix and dreaming of feathers.


🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2018:


A Note: This was so hard. I mean seriously, picking two runners-up was nearly impossible this year. I read that many good books. That said, while Vurt eventually won out there were two others in serious contention.


The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
by John Hornor Jacobs

A masterpiece of modern cosmic horror that grounds itself in humanity. The setting and characters are captivating and unique to the genre. The result is a surprisingly deep novella that recasts cosmic horror’s themes with raw originality. I was enthralled.

Side Life by Steve ToutonghiSide Life
by Steve Toutonghi

Any attempt to encapsulate Side Life in a small review will ultimately do it an injustice. It is a book of facets, and each reflects a theme as varied as the realities explored within its pages. A study on love, loss, and family, an introspection on humanity, reality, and self-identity. Utterly tragic and yet ultimately hopeful.


🎈 Honorable Mentions

This year was different than previous years so I have a few other Honorable Mentions. These are books that resonated with me long after I had finished them and they deserve a little callout. In no particular order…

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
    A modern retelling of The Horror at Redhook.
  • Lexicon by Max Berry
    Language as powerful mind-twisting magic.
  • Sip by Brian Allen Carr
    A post-apocalyptic tale where people drink and become addicted to shadow.
  • The Force by Don Winslow
    A dirty cop tries to navigate his web of lies while protecting his city.
  • Lost Gods by Brom
    A lost soul discovers that purgatory is a dangerous place to live.
  • Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala
    A young alcoholic struggles to find hope in the rainy streets of Seattle.
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
    A spy struggles to solve a murder in a city where dead gods once reigned.

💥 Graphic Novels:

Normally I list the graphic novels I’ve read over the year here.

But… uh, I didn’t read too many graphic novels.

In fact, I read only a handful.

I finished the latest in Matt Nelson’s Catbeard series (Book Five is out! Go buy it, I wrote the forward) and completed my reading in Lars Brown’s Penultimate Quest. (Go buy that as well.) So you get a few recommendations here but no real list. Sorry, perhaps next year?


So, that’s my list! Overall, I’m content with my reading for the year. It’s been a blast to lose myself in so many imaginative worlds and discover new and fresh perspectives on life and humanity. Books are a gateway and one I am eager to step through—so thanks, 2018. Here’s to more books in 2019!

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in the bygone halcyon days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 2016 • 2017

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018.


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 →

An Emerald City Comic Con 2018 Debriefing

An ECCC 2018 Debriefing

At the beginning of March (a few weekends ago, now) I joined ninety-five thousand others in attending Emerald City Comic Con in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. This year the convention was extended to four days—I skipped Thursday but visited Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday. As is the tradition around here, it’s time for a convention debriefing.


🌤 Friday

I had to get a picture of, Android Cosplay's amazing take on classic Nightcrawler
Android Cosplay’s classic take on Nightcrawler

Friday started oddly but finished great. I learned a valuable lesson about con-attendee me—I need to have things to do. The one panel I wanted to attend was full, so I spent a good portion of the day poking around the show floor and getting the lay of the land. I swung by the tables of a few author friends, Lee French had a table, as did Matt Youngmark (Go buy their books!) and I managed to get a few pictures of some great cosplayers. (Including Android Cosplay’s classic take on Nightcrawler in the image on the left.)

Around 2 PM, I took a break and went home to get some writing done. Later, I returned met up with Lars Brown. Lars is a talented comic creator. (His Penultimate Quest series was one of my favorite graphic novels from 2016. You should buy them.) Together, we stuck around the con for a bit, then went to dinner. All in all, it was a relaxing—if not somewhat quiet—first day.


☀ Saturday

On Saturday I was joined by my friend and fellow author Steve Toutonghi (his new book Side Life is coming out in April, you should preorder it.) Together we hit up a bunch of panels. My favorite was probably Books as Flint: Using Graphic Novels to Spark Political Activism. It was a discussion on the power of stories and how graphic novels (this was a comic convention after all) can often bridge the gap and open conversations on topics such as politics, race, religion, misogyny, and bigotry. The panelists were passionate and knowledgeable, and everyone had great thoughts about inclusion and activism in the comic space. Lessons that could easily be applied to novels as well.

My friend (and very talented woodworker) Steve Leroux and his daughter as the Weighted Companion Cube and Chell from Valve's Portal series
My friend (and very talented woodworker) Steve Leroux and his daughter as the Weighted Companion Cube and Chell from Valve’s Portal series

Steve and I also attended Family-friendly Fantasy: Keeping It PG in the Age of Grimdark & Game of Thrones and another on called 10 Points to Slytherin: Why Good Fans Love Evil Characters. Both were excellent and much better than I expected and both sparked some good conversation.

Oh! While waiting for one panel, we randomly slipped into a conversation with Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things, y’all)—it was fun. Lots of kids with questions and Purser was kind, articulate, open, and honest. I’m generally not one for celebrity panels like that, but I found myself enjoying it.


🌧 Sunday

Writing the Future Panel - [Left to Right] Sylvain Neuvel, Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland, Annalee Newitz, Chuck Wendig, Jason Hough
Writing the Future Panel – [Left to Right] Sylvain Neuvel, Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland, Annalee Newitz, Chuck Wendig, Jason Hough
I had only two panels Sunday, and once again Steve Toutonghi joined me. Our first panel was What Do I Read Now (and Where Do I Start)? hosted by a group of local librarians, and the premise was they’d recommended books based on other properties people liked. It was fun. I did take issue when one of the panelists mentioned recommending only finished series. I bring this up because I feel it’s an important topic. The best way you can support a series as a fan is to read it as its published. Waiting until it’s finished can often kill a series. Publishers make decisions based on sales. So even if you want to wait until you have them all, buy the books (or check them out from your library) as they come out. It’ll make a big difference.

Our final panel of the weekend was Writing the Future (pictured above), and it was interesting. The room filled up fast, there was loads of audience participation. Afterward, a friend asked me if I had any new takeaways. My honest answer was no—I didn’t hear anything new or revelatory. If anything it was nice to see veteran writers reaffirm my choices.


Leaving ECCC—for now.
Leaving ECCC

So, that was my ECCC! There was so much I missed, and I felt like I had my schedule pretty well planned. Overall ECCC is excellently run and well managed—I appreciated all the hard work keeping the crowds organized. It’s not simple with that many people, and the staff and volunteers excelled at keeping everything under control. It’ll be interesting to see how it changes as the Seattle Convention Center expands.

I was thrilled I spent the time I did—next year I’m hoping to go longer and actually sit on a few panels and making do some gaming. (Gaming was sorely missing from my ECCC 2018 experience. Would have liked to play Mansions of Madness or jumped into a Call of Cthulhu session.) I also want to extend a big thank you to my friends Steve and Lars for hanging out with me, having friends willing to pal around made a big difference.

Thanks for a great convention Emerald City—it was a lot of fun.


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 read previous convention debriefing 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 →