2020 in Ten Significant Photos

2020 in Ten Significant Photos

Today is December 19th, also known as March 294th, around our house. 2020, man. 2020. I think we can all agree it’s been a terrible year. If not personally, then nationally and globally. And we still have twelve days left. Feels like it’s been forever and yet, somehow, no time at all.

The tradition around here dictates I need to assemble a post wherein I share ten photos from the year representing the most significant moments of my personal past 365-ish days. Normally, I look forward to this, but 2020 was tougher than most. This time around, I wasn’t so eager to ponder how the year went. I didn’t want to dwell on the events that have unfolded. But I did. And below is the culmination of that effort, for better or worse.

The rules are simple but firm, pick ten photos from your past year that are the most significant to you: positive or negative—significance can be found in either. But it can’t be more, it can’t be less. Some moments will have to fall by the wayside—and that’s intentional—culling is essential. It’ll help create a more realistic picture of your year. Some years will be harder than others, and sometimes you’ll need to discover significance in the smaller, quieter moments. The ten are irascible, and they’re relentless. It is the way.

So, enough talk! Let’s take a look at my 2020 distilled into ten significant photos.


The Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland

We began our 2020 by going on a trip to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. Ah, those carefree halcyon days. Feels like a lifetime ago. This time we took an extensive food-focused trip to Portland and Hood River, Oregon. It was easily one of the best trips we’ve taken together and a wonderful way to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. We ate and drank and tasted so many incredible things. I had planned to put together one of my standard travel posts a few months after we returned, but 2020 had other plans. It’s odd to looking back. It feels like a different era.


Amberlynn being cozy. (Photo by my brother, Nick Alexander.)

Not long after our return from Portland, my brother Nick and my sister-in-law Hallie welcomed their second child, Amberlynn, into the world in February. With Liesel and Blakely arriving last year and Amberlynn this year, I now have three nieces that have all shown up in a very short time. Can’t wait to watch them grow up and spoil them rotten. I’ve yet to meet Amberlynn. (Details why in the next photo. You can probably guess.) But, I’m looking forward to the day I do.


Pandemic hair. Pandemic mask. Pandemic isolation.

So, the obvious one—the COVID-19 pandemic. I could wax poetic about everything that’s happened in the last ten months, but we’ve all been dealing with this. What can I say that hasn’t been said already by a thousand other folks? I am tired of staying at home. I miss my family and friends. At the same time, I know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m blessed that I have a job that allows me to do it. Please do what you can to stay safe and healthy. Be kind. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid groups. Get your vaccine when you can. All that stuff.


Not where you want to find yourself at 3AM

2020 was the gift that keeps on giving. Early in the pandemic Tyrant, one of our two old dogs (he’s fifteen!) started having breathing issues one Saturday morning, and we had to take him to an emergency vet. That turned into early morning calls and early morning trips to the pharmacy. The same weekend our other old dog, Suge (she’s fourteen!), had a cyst that burst on her back leg, so she ended up in the doggie hospital for minor surgery. Two dogs. Two hospitals. Many vets. All in the middle of a pandemic. It was an exhaustive and stress-filled four days. Thankfully, both dogs are doing well. Suge is back to her rambunctious self. Tyrant is still sleepy and lazy and gets to take doggy pills three times a day.


Welcome to the CHAZ

Black Lives Matter. I don’t know why that’s a difficult concept for some people to grasp. This summer was similar to summers in other parts of the country. Protests. Marches. Police action. Bits of violence. For a brief moment, Seattle had the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and offshoot of the protests, which drew most of the country’s attention. The outgoing President might have declared Seattle an “Anarchist Jurisdiction” (whatever that means,) but the tales of chaos were greatly exaggerated and largely overblown. Ignore your weird uncle on Facebook. The CHAZ only lasted for a few weeks. Demonstrations there have largely faded away. But the BLM movement rightfully continues, and I don’t think it’ll stop until we see systematic change.


Kari-Lise in front of the titular Night Garden

Kari-Lise revealed Night Garden, her latest solo show at Roq La Rue, and it was wildly successful! It’s strange to have a gallery show in the middle of a pandemic. There was no official opening. No opening night crowds. No afterparty. But the show premiered online and ended up selling out. I feel like I broken record repeating the same thing I do every show, but I think this series was her best work ever. I’m incredibly proud to see how she continues to evolve as an artist. Can’t wait to see what she does next.


Pork chop sandwiches! (Technically pork butt, but references.)

So, I’ve always liked cooking, and this year was no different. If anything, this year I cooked even more, since I had more time at home. I feel like I dialed in my meat-smoking game and got a little better at baking (like everyone else, but I’m still not great.) This little BBQ sandwich was 100% made from scratch. Smoke pork butt. Steamed/Fried sourdough half-way buns. Homemade dill pickles. Homemade pickled onions. Stone ground mustard. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I made it more than once.


Sunset on the Colvos Passage

In October, we briefly escaped one house to retreat to another. We rented an incredible cabin on Vashon Island, only a ferry ride away from Seattle. We spent a week on the island. We hiked, explored, cooked, relaxed, read a ton, soaked in a huge bathtub, took showers in an outdoor shower. I also took the time to revamp this website. And we were able to do it with proper social distancing! It was a chill and relaxing week away from the world and unplugged from a stressful news cycle. We loved it so much we are planning a return visit in January. So don’t be shocked if a similar photo appears in next year’s list.


I voted! You voted! A lot of us voted!

One of the wildest and most important elections in my lifetime happened, and what an election it was. Records were smashed. Norms were abandoned. Lawsuits were filed and quickly tossed out when no evidence could be presented except for wishes, hopes, and dreams. (Turns out wanting something to be true won’t make it true.) It was great to see so many Americans actively involved in the civic process. King County, Washington (where I live) had an 85% turnout, which I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It made me really proud of my city, county, state, and country. Nice work, America. Let’s keep this trend of civic involvement going.


New floors and a fantastic built in room divider bookcase built by my pal Steve.

It’s hard to encapsulate this in a single image. Like much of the world, 2020 became the “Year of the House” for the Alexanders. This had been the plan for us before the pandemic set in, and we had been saving toward it for a while. We bought this place in 2010, which means we’ve been living in our house for a decade, and it was past time to put a little love back into the place. That means, among other things, new paint, new roof, new floors in several rooms, lots of love pour into the garden, new countertops, that fantastic bookcase in the picture above, and we’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel. It’s been awkward, stressful, and a bit odd at times juggling all this work with the pandemic, but we think it’ll be worth it.


In Conclusion

Looking back at everything that happened in 2020, I was surprised to find how much significance happened even while I spent most of my time here at home. The ten photos above don’t begin to cover everything that happened. My sister-in-law’s father, Tom, passed away, a dear man, and we could only send condolences from afar. Friends and family got sick, and not just from COVID. Pets passed away. People lost jobs. There were the forest fires and the awful weeks of smoke that blanketed much of the PNW. MURDER HORNETS.

But it wasn’t all awful events. New hobbies were found. New skills explored. Moth & Myth continued its wild growth and is leaping into a new phase of business. Friends published books. Friends made art. Friends had shows. Friends wrote new books and game systems. We all learned how to video conference (for better or worse.) There was good to be found even among the muck. I’m not going to miss 2020. It might have been an awful year, but it’s probably been one of the most notable years of my life.

So, how about you? What did you experience in 2020? What are your ten? Assemble them and leave a comment with a link! Let us all know about the significant events in your year.


Want to revisit my photos of past years? The experiences then seem almost charming now. Just click on any of the links below and check out my pictures from that specific year. I find it fascinating to watch subtle changes year over year.

2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 20182019


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The Poison Garden

The Poisoned Garden

This weekend, Kari-Lise and I will head to Portland, Oregon for the opening of VEILS at Talon Gallery where Kari-Lise will be debuting the first five pieces from her 2018 series, The Poisoned Garden. The show opens on Saturday, February 17th, and we’ll both be in attendance. If you live in Portland or the surrounding area come on by and say hello. We’d love to see you. The opening reception is from 6pm–9pm. The exhibition will be on display through March 12th, 2017, and it is both free and open to the public.

I’m so stoked this is finally reaching the public. There is a narrative aspect to The Poisoned Garden that really draws me in as a storyteller, and the series is shaping up to be a favorite. Kari-Lise is really throwing herself into the work, and it shows. Afterwards, you’ll be able to view all the pieces at Talon Gallery’s website, feel free to contact the gallery directly to inquire about any particular piece. I’m excited the initial debut of The Poisoned Garden is finally seeing the light of day.

Kari-Lise Alexander — “The Find” (Detail)
Kari-Lise Alexander — “The Find” (Detail)

Kari-Lise Alexander [Left] “Summer Dream” 10″x10″, Oil on Panel [Right] “Alone Amongst the Irises” in the studio
Kari-Lise Alexander — [Left] “Summer Dream” 10″x10″, Oil on Panel [Right] “Alone Amongst the Irises” in the studio
There are a few more pieces in this set that I’m not previewing here. To see them you’ll need to subscribe to Kari-Lise’s newsletter or come to the show. A collector’s preview is coming later this week, it’s easy to sign up: click here to subscribe.


🎬 Overlooked Details

If you haven’t taken the time, make sure to watch the short documentary about Kari-Lise’s work: Overlooked Details, An Artist’s Journey, directed, edited, and filmed by Scott R. Wilson. (It partially documents her work on Inflorescence.) It’s fifteen minutes long and very much worth your time. It’s a raw, heartfelt, and vulnerable glimpse into her journey. I’ve embedded it below, and I recommend watching it full screen. You can view the full credits here.


🖼 Previous Work

Interested in seeing Kari-Lise’s previous shows? I’ve written about them before, and I’d encourage you to check them out, there is some excellent work, but it’s also amazing to document her growth as an artist:


See you Saturday, Portland!

✨🎨✨

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 →

Come See Me at OryCon 39!

Come See Me at OryCon 39!

This Friday, I will be heading south to attend OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It’s my first time participating, and I’m excited to meet the community and learn the ins and outs of a new convention. I’m on quite a few panels (Yay!) I’m looking forward to discussing Nanowrimo, PNW ghosts, and all the various fantasy topics with my fellow panelists.

view my full schedule →

Oh, don’t forget, I’m doing a reading on Friday night! It should be fun; I think I’ll read from either The Stars Were Right or Red Litten World, we’ll see. Nothing like a little light-horror to set the evening mood, right?


🗺 Where I’ll Be

Short Answer: All over! Say hi!

Long Answer: I’m not running a Writer’s Row table at OryCon. Like Norwescon 40, I wanted to focus on being a participant and not try to juggle panels, readings, and also run a table. I love doing it, but it’s exhausting. So, look for me in the halls. Say hi! Ask me for a ribbon. (See Below.) I’m always happy to sign anyone’s book, and I’ll have some with me if you want to purchase a copy. Books are still $10 at conventions. Yep, I can take credit cards.


🧟‍♂️ Badge Ribbons

Badge Ribbons will be back for 2017I have heard rumors that badge ribbons are something that exists at OryCon. Those who have been following the blog for some time know my love of badge ribbons. I even wrote a post about them last year. Yes, I will have my ribbons with me. 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.


📱 Get Sched

OryCon uses Sched to share the schedule with the attendees. It’s a handy site that will let you keep track of your schedule and see what’s going on around the convention. I highly recommend signing up and adding my panels to your schedule. That way you don’t miss anything.

To find me: first, tap the Menu, tap “Speakers,” scroll until you see "K.M. Alexander" then tap on my name. Hooray!
To find me: first, tap the Menu, tap “Speakers,” scroll until you see “K.M. Alexander” then tap on my name. Hooray!

Once you navigate to my profile, you see a list of all my panels. Add them to your schedule at your leisure. It’s a handy way to keep track of everything you want to see. You can also just click here and get to my profile that way.


I think that’s all the little particulars for OryCon. I’ll be active on Twitter, you should follow me over there. I also share photos on Instagram. I hope everyone enjoys the con. Stay safe, be respectful, and have fun. I’ll see everyone on Friday!


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 →

Orycon 39 - Oregon’s premier science fiction & fantasy convention

My Orycon 39 Schedule

It’s November 1st! That means in a few weeks (17 days), I’ll be making a pilgrimage to the lovely city of Portland, Oregon where I will be attending Orycon 39. This will be my first Orycon, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m not running a table, but I’ll be on a whole bunch of panels, and on Friday night I’m doing a reading! As with previous conventions, I’ve listed out my schedule below. Find out more about my fellow panelists by clicking on their names, links go to their respective corners on the web. Buy their books, bring ’em with you and get ’em signed. As before, it’ll be a blast sitting alongside such talent.

If you see me in the hallway, feel free to say hello! I’m happy to join in on a game, grab a beer, or just talk shop. I’m the big guy wearing all black.


🗓 FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17th

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM — The Paranormal as Metaphor

Location: White Stag
Moderator: Blythe Ayne
Panelists: Mike Chinakos, Ann Gimpel, Rachel Swirsky, K. M. Alexander
Details: Is a vampire ever just a vampire?

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM — Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting

Location: Wenatchee, Room 166
Moderator: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Panelists: Elliott Kay, S. B. Sebrick, K. M. Alexander
Details: Every great spell or power has a disclaimer attached. Join our pros as they address the balance of having compelling and powerful magic in fantasy while avoiding making it a panacea or Deus ex Machina.

7:30 PM – 8:00 PM — K. M. Alexander Reading

Location: Millennium Falcon, Room 252
Moderator: K. M. Alexander
Details: Hey, would you 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 listen to me read a creepy excerpt from one of my books. Which book? We will see.


🗓 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18th

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM — Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not?

Location: Spokane, Room 256
Moderator: Lee French
Panelists: Josh Boykin, Jason M. Hough, Jennifer Linnaea, K. M. Alexander
Details: National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) has caught on and gets bigger every year. What it’s all about, where to sign up, and whether it’s a good idea to participate. The pluses and pitfalls of writing a novel in the month of November.

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM — Fantasy with Non-European settings

Location: Pendleton
Moderator: Fonda Lee
Panelists: Alma AlexanderLeah CutterJoyce Reynolds-Ward, K. M. Alexander
Details: Laura Anne Gilman’s Devil’s West, Nisi Shawl and Everfair, my Goddess’s Honor series, and others all have non-Western settings. What are the others? Why are they important?

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM — Ghost in the Vegan Bar

Location: Lion Kings Den, Room 266
Moderator: Shawna Reppert
Panelists: Tori Centanni, K. M. Alexander
Details: The Pacific Northwest is known for our haunted spots. Where are they? What are their stories? Where is the “proof”?


🗓 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19th

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Overturning the Cart

Location: White Stag
Moderator: Alma Alexander
Panelists: Eva L. Elasigue, K. M. Alexander
Details: Revolution and rebellion in fantasy fiction.


As always, I’m planning to be active on social media throughout the weekend. I’m (@KM_Alexander on Twitter and @KMAlexander on Instagram) follow me! You can register for Orycon 39 here and get passes to all three days for only $65. There’s also a lot of information at 39.OryCon.org including details on this year’s guests of honor, activities, events, information on the hotel, and a lot more.

Orycon 39 is coming, Portland. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

My Cthulhu Con Schedule

CthulhuCon PDX Vendor Room Romp

Want to hear my book pitch? Well, last weekend I was lucky enough to be recorded giving my pitch alongside other vendors in the Dealers Room at CthulhuCon PDX. You can watch it below:

I come in around 5:28. Big thanks to Cat from the Northwest Horror Podcast for putting this all together and sharing it with the internet. She’s posted the full list of vendors with links to their site over on their blog and you can check it out here. (Also, you should subscribe to their podcast via iTunes or Stitcher. It’s a lot of fun.)