Tag Archives: stephen king

It's Raining Books, Hallelujah! It's Raining Books, Amen!

It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah! It’s Raining Books, Amen!

Apologies to the Weather Girls, but I couldn’t resist that title. (Also, I’m surprised at how literal they went with that video. Damn.)

It’s been a wild and strange week so far and I have some positive developments that I want to share. Documenting the journey of writing/publishing/promoting has always been a mission of this blog, both good and bad, and it’s time for some good.

On Sunday, I launched another promotion through BookBub, my second, in it I discounted Old Broken Road to 99¢. (I also discounted The Stars Were Right, because, why not?) I’m happy to report the promo has been a wild success. More than I could have ever expected. Here is Old Broken Road’s ranking at the height of the sale:

Height of Old Broken Road sales!

Sales were solid and steady, and as you can see it became a best seller in quite a few categories. I saw a lot of people picking up The Stars Were Right and Red Litten World, which was encouraging. As a result of this promotion, there are a lot of new readers just now experiencing the Territories for the first time. Welcome to the company, roaders. I sincerely hope you enjoy the ride as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I also hit another milestone, one I am quite proud of:

Author Rank

For a few glorious days, I was listed on Amazon’s Most Popular Authors in Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Kindle. Amazon Author Rank a new-ish list that highlights and tracks the bestselling authors on the platform. I got to be one of them, and for a while, I was ranked higher than two of my writing heroes: Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King. It was a surprise, so much so even I had issues with it.

I’m still sorting through my emotions. I am flattered that so many people decided to jump in a read some of my books, I’m humbled to see that you’re willing to give my work a chance, and I’m excited to hear what you think. Please, feel free to drop me a line at any time good or bad. Don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. Reviews are what allow me to do promotions like this one.

Old Broken Road will continue to be on sale through next Monday. You can find out more on this post including links to all the stores.

#My5: The Bell Forging Cycle

Welcome to #My5, a project that I’ve started, with a few of my fellow authors, across the internet. In this and other posts, we’re going to delve into five things that had influenced our current projects: it could be five people, five books, five songs, five comics or a mixture of some or all—you never know. Why five? It’s an arbitrary limitation, but it’s digestible and prevents these posts from running away from us. If you’re an author and you’re interested in joining us, you can read the introduction post or check out the info at the bottom of this post. So, without further ado, here’s #My 5: The Bell Forging Cycle.


Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, and it’s different for each writer. For me, there are key instances that trigger something in my mind that inspired me to create the world of the Territories.

I tend to pitch The Bell Forging Cycle as “Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy,” which is a relatively narrow descriptive. In my article for Fantasy Book Critic, I described the series as a “dark cyberpunk post-post-apocalyptic dystopian weird western cosmic horror urban fantasy adventure,” which, yeah, was a mouthful. Instead of explaining how all that works, I figured it’d be fun to use #My5 in a way that lets me share how all of those pieces come together.


Five Influences, #1 - The Lovecraft Mythos1. The Lovecraft Mythos

This is the obvious one, but it’s important enough that I need to mention it first. I didn’t start reading H.P. Lovecraft until I was in my early twenties and attending college. While Cthulhu, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth were on my mind, it wasn’t until a conversation in 2007 with my friend, Josh Montreuil, that I had the idea of mixing the mythos with a story like the one I wanted to write.

Longtime readers of the Lovecraftian mythos can see the signs in the world. The books are set in a world rebuilt after Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones returned, caused an apocalypse, and once again faded into myth. Their influence has a fundamental impact on the world. Landmasses have been reshaped, and humanity is no longer alone; exotic species lifted from the mythos now inhabit the world alongside us. Dark cults from stories like The Call of Cthulhu, The Haunter of the Dark, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth have risen to become large organized religions. While a knowledge of the mythos isn’t necessary to enjoy the books, there’s no denying that Lovecraft’s influence is scattered through everything.


Kowloon Walled City2. Kowloon Walled City

It’s probably no secret that I’m a cyberpunk fan. Books like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash, and movies like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are seminal works in my life. Cities of cement and chrome, coupled with the compression of humanity, were a draw for me. In each of those worlds were millions of stories. So, when I discovered a real world example of those strange, stacked cyberpunk cities, I was fascinated.

Kowloon was a densely populated neighborhood that existed in Hong Kong during the middle of the 20th-century. Thirty-three thousand people lived within 6.4 acres of space stacked atop each other up to a height of 140 ft. The result of this mass was an isolated, multileveled community, filled with all manner of individuals, organizations, businesses, schools, and unique cultures. (Check out this fascinating cross section map or this detailed illustration to see how dense it was.) Kowloon’s existence became the spark that eventually became Lovat. It was the real-life example that triggered my concept of the vast megalopolis by the sea.


Five Influences, #3 - The Dark Tower3. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Stephen King’s opus is an early forerunner of genre mixing; an intense blend of western tropes, fantasy locations, and science-fiction problems, mixed with a post-apocalyptic road story starring gunslingers. I started reading the series in high school and quickly devoured what I could until it finally ended in 2004. Up until The Dark Tower series, most of the sci-fi and fantasy I read was fairly conventional.

Seeing this strange new world presented in such a way opened my eyes to what fiction could become. I can still picture walking with the Ka-Tet of Nineteen throughout Mid and Endworld. There is so much to love. The Lobstrosities, Shardik, Blaine the Mono, the city of Lud, the plains of Mejis, the Wolves of Thunderclap, and Devar-Toi are all vivid in my mind, and I continually find myself revisiting the series to this day.

And, if you’re wondering, I absolutely remember the face of my father.


Five Influences, #4 - Bas-Lag

4. China Miéville’s Bas-Lag

I love worldbuilding; I love seeding the potential of new locations and stories throughout prose. If it was King who showed me my first glimpses of weird fiction, China Miéville refined it. Perdido Street Station constructed a world that proved to me that fantasy didn’t have to be elves and dwarves, hobbits and men, orcs and dragons.

His Bas-Lag series—my favorite of which is The Scar—takes those ideas to a whole new level. Strange species crawl through Mieville’s books: bug-headed women, vampires, half-machine hybrids, sentient cacti, tiny gargoyles, disembodied hand-shaped parasites, scabmettlers—the human-like creatures who’s blood congeals to the point that it can become a sort of armor—and that’s just the start. That same approach is applied to everything from governmental structure to economics. Each book opens up new lands and strange new species, and throughout it all, Mieville does it right. He mixes and blends and creates a profound concoction that still stick with me.


Five Influences, #5 - Hellblazer5. HellBlazer (In particular M. R. Carey’s run)

One of the granddaddies of urban fantasy, the Vertigo comic series, follows the magician for hire, John Constantine as he drinks and smokes his way through England, America, Hell, and all parts in between. There is something about his wisecracking ways and indifferent attitude that I love. Constantine is relatable; he isn’t some all-powerful superhero; he isn’t some wealthy playboy; he is a working class stiff who is more clever than good and more determined than heroic.

Constantine is relatable. He is Walter White, a man doing bad things for good reasons. While Waldo Bell isn’t Constantine, there is a similarity between the characters. Both are dogged and driven men who would stop at nothing and go to any lengths to defeat what they see as evil. Heroes don’t always need to be golden paragons of humanity. They can and should be flawed.


So those are #My5, my collection of properties that influenced The Bell Forging Cycle. Each has had a profound impact on me creatively. You can check out my series at bellforgingcycle.com or hit up any of the specific books at the links below to read excerpts and learn more about the world of the Territories.

The Stars Were Right – Old Broken Road – Red Litten World

I’m not alone in collecting #My5! Other authors have joined me and written their #My5. You can find their articles by following the links below. Make sure to look for links at the bottom of their posts as well.


Are you a published (indie or traditional) author who is interested in joining in the #My5 fun? Write your article following the format above (remember, the limit is five), link to your work and others’ posts, and shoot me an email at hello at kmalexander.com, and I’ll add you to the list above and the official #My5 page! You can download the #My5 logo at any of the links below.

Download the #My5 Logo600×600 PNGs: White | Black
1200×1200 PNGs: White | Black
(Vector version available upon request.)

#My5 - Influences, Inspirations, Ideas

Introducing: #My5

Attend any convention, sit in on a reading, or visit panel and during open Q&A, and you’ll hear a common question asked by someone in attendance. It’s a query every author gets. I’ve seen Neil Gaiman blog about it, Stephen King speak about it, and Ursula K. Le Guin write about it. It comes down to this:

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I think people assume that there is some hidden mystery or a big secret in being a writer. However, the truth is that inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere; the smallest thing can spark a multitude of ideas, and it’s different for every author. For me, I can imagine several key instances that have triggered something in my mind, ideas that have taken root and helped construct the world of The Bell Forging Cycle. I want to share those ideas, and I know others do as well, so I am introducing #My5, a new project I’m starting, focusing on inspiration and ideas. The goal is to create a familiar and straightforward format allowing published authors (indie or traditional) from any and all genres to share some of their inspirations for specific projects with their fans and peers. In these posts, writers will list five sources that influenced one of their projects and they’ll link to the blogs of others authors who are doing the same thing. There’s no rule on what you can find inspiring, be it music, television, books, speeches, landscapes, travel, or whatever; it’s all open. The key is that you can only pick five, no more, no less.

So, if you’re a published author who regularly blogs, you’re invited to participate! Just shoot me an email at hello at kmalexander.com and let me know you’re participating. Write your post, publish it, and link to others who have done the same. The goal is to create a network of ideas so we can share our inspirations together. You can download the #My5 Logo using any of the links below.


Download the #My5 Logo600×600 PNG: White | Black
1200×1200 PNGs: White | Black
(Vector version available upon request.)


The first round of #My5 entries are coming really soon. So watch this space and follow me on Twitter! I’ll be posting my own and linking to others. Even the simplest thing can often spark amazing stories and complex worlds; inspiration abounds, let’s explore it.

Friday Link Pack 08/22/2014

The Art of Karla OrtizFriday time! It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!

Writing:

What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard To Catch Your Own Typos
Self-editing can be tough, but why is it so tough? Wired explores this conundrum. (Regardless of your choice in publishing, traditional or indie, I recommend you work with an editor. It’s important.)

How To Promote Yourself And Your Books Without Feeling Like A Soul-Selling, Sleaze-Sucking, Slime-Glob
If you’re in the business of writing then you’re in the business of promotion. Chuck Wendig offers some advice for how to promote yourself without feeling gross.

How To Spend The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day
Mise-en-place, a simple approach to getting yourself focused and ready to produce.

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules For Writers
Great advice from one of the most prolific authors of the century. There’s so much good stuff here I have a hard time picking a favorite.

My SpoCon Debriefing
Last weekend I attended SpoCon in Spokane, WA. I had a great time. If you missed it check out this post to see photos and my highlights.

Free Shipping On The Stars Were Right through Sunday
To celebrate Lovecraft’s 124th birthday I’m offering free shipping anywhere in the US. I might not be able to beat Amazon on price, but I’ll throw in free swag!

Art:

Marilyn Myller
Incredible stop motion short featuring tiny carved foam dolls.

The Art Of Jeremy Chong
I stumbled across Jeremy Chong’s work this last week and a few pieces immediately evoked Lovat for me. Incredible concept work from fantasy to science fiction.

The Art Of Karla Ortiz
Another recent find. Karla Ortiz does great concept art as well, but what really stood out to me was her graphite pieces. (Pictured above.) Her work is stunning.

Clayton Kauzlaric’s Time-Warp Photos Of Seattle
Old lined up with the modern. Love these series. Apparently the old waterfront was significantly cooler than it is today.

Random:

Baltic Heraldry
Family crests from Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania in a 1902 calendar of colour woodblock prints. So much of our pop culture heraldic knowledge comes from countries like England, France, and Germany. It’s nice to see some other european countries highlighted.

Cultivating The Map
Danny Wills explored how survey instruments, cartographic tools, and architecture might work together at different scales to transform tracts of land in the geographic center of the United States. Very cool. Thanks to Todd for sharing this with me.

Humans Need Not Apply
An interesting video exploring the subject of the rise of robots in the labor force and how we’re moving towards a future built mainly by machines. It starts with the transportation and then slowly ripples through the rest of the world. Very much worth a watch.

The Evolution Of Mobile Gaming
A fun interactive article exploring of mobile gaming through the years.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Haunter Of The Dark
A young man investigates an ancient church on Federal Hill and finds more than he bargains for. This was a big influence on Old Broken Road, and one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. The H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast has a fantastic reading of The Haunter Of The Dark available for free, I’d recommend it.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

The coolest.You think this is cool? Check out the video.

Simple As This

Stephen King

Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

I’m not intentionally trying to do a weekly “quote from the masters” thing, I just happened to come across this quote and wanted to share. So, fellow writers, leave a comment and tell the rest of us what you’re reading!