Today is the first birthday of Red Litten World, the third installment in my Lovecraftian urban fantasy series, The Bell Forging Cycle. It has been a fantastic launch, and I’ve loved hearing from readers who have enjoyed the book. I’m proud of it. Since it’s been a full year, I felt it was important to celebrate the occasion.
It’s Sale Time
For the next week, Red Litten World is available on eBook for only 99¢! So, if you haven’t read the most recent adventure of Waldo Bell, now is the most affordable time to check it out. Buy five copies! Give them to your family, share ’em with your friends. Hell, send them to your enemies. Hit any of the links below to grab a copy on the cheap.
The discounted sale price will only be available for a week. So, take advantage while you can.
Let’s Talk Reviews
As with most series, there was a significant drop-off in reviews of Red Litten World. Review fatigue is very common for books in a series, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Reviews are not only helpful for other readers; they also allow authors to take advantage of mailing lists, promotional newsletters, and review sites. So if you haven’t had a chance to leave a review of Red Litten World, please, please, please take a few moments and drop one on Amazon and Goodreads. It’d help me out considerably.
Where Are We Going from Here
It’s October, which is usually the month when I release a new title. (Based on the emails I’ve had to answer, many of you were aware of this.) However, there isn’t a release this year. Last December, I wrote a post called The State of the Cycle, where I went into details about the future of Wal’s tale. I invite you to read it if you haven’t. Don’t worry; his story isn’t over yet. There’s plenty more to come; I’m just taking some time to collect myself before I dive back into the madness.
Once again, I need to extend a big thank you to those who have supported me over the years. Thanks to those who have left reviews and told their friends. Thanks everyone who has reached out to me and helped me promote my work. It’s all of you that contribute to making books like Red Litten World possible.
So, today, join me in wishing a happy birthday to Red Litten World. What a gem.
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.
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.
Welcome to Wild Territories, the series where I delve into the expanded lore and explore the inspiration behind small little details scattered throughout my Lovecraftian urban fantasy series, The Bell Forging Cycle. These posts will be spoiler-free, but you’ll probably appreciate them more if you have read any of books in the series. You can buy them here.
In the last entry, we explored The Mysterious Shamblers of the Scablands, and I asked everyone to vote on what topic they would like me to explore in this entry. The votes are in, and in this piece ,we’re going to examine something a bit different. Please join me as we explore part three of Wild Territories: Faiths and Creeds of Lovat.
There is a lot of ground to cover and this is going to be a long article, so if there is a particular religion you’re interested in, use one of the links below to jump to that specific entry. At the end of each feature there will be a link to bring you back to this menu.
Mentioned In:The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World Known Members: Priestess Samantha Dubois, Hagen Dubois, Bishop Dubois Places of Worship: Saint Mark’s (The Stars Were Right) (Pictured)
“The Reunified Church is as old as anything in our ancient world.”
Shortly after the Aligning, most of the fragmented denominations of earth’s former faiths were destroyed or significantly reduce in number. Under the caring and watchful leadership of Ebenezer Alvord, the dispersed congregations were eventually reunited under a single banner, The Reunified Church, eventually establishing a hierarchy of bishops, priests, monks, and nuns. Over the years, their influence widened as congregations began to crop up across the Territories. Missionaries, called Road Priests/Priestesses, crisscross the trails and highways riding small chapelwains pulled by teams of oxen. From these mobile churches, missionaries lead simple services, serve out rust wine, and hear confessions for small communities scattered throughout the Territories.
Historically the Church had existed in Lovat since its rebirth. During the city’s tumultuous early years the Reunifieds were more militaristic and fought an extended religious war against the Hasturian Faith. These ‘Doctrine Wars’ lasted half a century, and as a result, many of the Reunified churches and cathedrals developed a fortress-like appearance. Walls and battlements ring the buildings and armed guards have been seen walking the walls, ever vigilant. While the church has become more peaceful in recent years, it still retains a small but powerful standing army, and Priest and Priestess alike are required to take self-defense classes.
Much of the Reunified faith is a continuation of its ancient Abrahamic religious heritage with a belief centered on a single divine deity. Since the Doctrine Wars, several splinter denominations have eventually spun away from the faith, notably the Reformed Movement, Salamshalla, Reunified Orthodoxy, and the Brethren. While core beliefs in each sect remain similar, overall, the church is considerably different from its pre-Aligning roots. Many of its post-Aligning practices, holidays, traditions, and saints would be unrecognizable to early pre-Aligning practitioners.
Today, many Lovatines respect the church, but Reunified history is not without controversy. While all sects of The Reunified Church openly welcome all species, that has not always been the case. Early in its formation, the church held to a strict human-only policy and banned non-human species from its services. The Purity Movement, a splinter sect of Reunified Brethren led by the charismatic Conrad O’Conner, claim to trace their roots back to the early Reunified Church and continues to preach human superiority and exclusion. Something the church and its sub-sects have vehemently disavowed.
An estimated 28.7% of Lovatines claim some connection with the Reunified Church making it the largest religious organization in the Territories.
Arriving with the emergence of the dauger sometime after the Aligning, The Followers of the Cold Shepherd, more commonly known as the Hasturian Faith, is structured similarity to the early Reunified Church. However, it is ‘Ministers’ not Priests or Priestesses who lead congregations and church members refer to one another as ‘sister,’ ‘brother,’ or the gender neutral ‘sibling.’
The faith centers on the worship of Hastur, a deity of some mystery. Hastur’s origins are strange, and the church’s religious text—The Pallidon—isn’t clear on the subject. Congregations are divided into two wings that teach two separate origins for their god; Monarchists preach that Hastur was once a king of a great golden city while the more Continue reading → Faiths and Creeds of Lovat
Last Saturday was the tenth anniversary of Lilac City Comicon, and I was lucky enough to be there along side my buddy Josh Montreuil. This was my second time at Lilac City and since last year they had expanded into a larger space and quite a few more fans showed up.
As before it was a whirlwind of great people and an overall success for me. I had plenty of books left over from Norwescon [Read the Norwescon 39 Debriefing Here] and I sold a ton at Lilac City. Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement. I sold out of every copy of The Stars Were Right. Which is AMAZING. Thank you to everyone who picked up a book, I left Spokane with a lighter trunk which is always a good thing.
I could ramble on a bit, but let’s get to the highlights. That’s the fun stuff:
The cosplay. Carl, a friend of both Josh and myself, made an astute observation: at most cons you see like one person cosplaying for every ten people. But something about Lilac City really brings out the cosplayers. They were everywhere. There was probably one person cosplaying in every three, and the quality was incredible. (As you can see from the pictures.) Like last year, it was really difficult to choose which to feature. I took a ton of photos.
Obviously selling out of every copy of The Stars Were Rightwas a huge highlight. Spokane really loves my books, and I am both touched and grateful. There were a few people who came back later in the day wanting to buy a copy and unfortunately they had to go without. I’m in the process of replenishing my stock from my store, but there are plenty of places you can still pick it up. Hit the official site for The Stars Were Right where I link to a bunch of locations where it and other books in the Cycle are available.
Seeing my mom, dad, and little sister. Since this is a business trip, I don’t have much time to hang out with family. But it was good to see them even for a brief moment.
Seeing some old friends. It’s been eight years since I moved westward, so it’s nice to catch up with folks and see how things are going.
Watching Josh work on his various sketch commissions. I saw the Grinch and his dog, Ben Grimm, and the always abriffic Doc Savage. (Who is due for his own reboot, let’s be honest.)
Ain’t going to lie, my table looked great.
I had several people who sought me out specifically after picking up and reading The Stars Were Right last year. Everyone was excited to experience more of ol’ Waldo Bell’s adventures, and I was happy to learn how much they loved the first book.
Big thanks to the guy who not only picked up Red Litten World but also bought the current set of The Bell Forging Cycle for his friend as well. As I said on Twitter, that means the world to us authors. Telling your friends about a writer’s work helps keep us writing.
My table was right next to fellow Seattle author Matt Youngmark, and it was great chatting with him throughout the day. Not only is Matt is good people, he’s also the creator of Chooseomatic Books, which is are choose-your-own-adventure novels for adults. They’re great fun and worth checking out.
The Sprocket the Cat cosplay! (See below left.) If you don’t know Sprocket, he’s the mascot for Lilac City Comicon. It’s cool to see he’s got some fans.
The Post-Con Decompression Dinner—It’s nice to relax and have a few beers with fellow creatives after a convention. Thanks as always to Matt, Kevin, Peter, Jen, Lars, and Josh for letting me hang with them and eat Irish food, wax poetic about running a table, and crack stupid jokes.
I was really happy with my experience at Lilac City Comicon, and I am already planning and looking forward to attending next year. It’s a really welcoming crowd and it’s nice to see something like that in Spokane. Right now I don’t have any future appearances scheduled, but that could always change. You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.
Thanks for a great convention, Spokane!
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Last weekend, I finished reading Aldous Huxley famous dystopian novel, Brave New World. It was as good as I remembered and was a pleasure to re-read it during in my “Year of Classics.” But, this isn’t a post about classic dystopian novels; this is a post about storytelling and swag. Say whhhaaaat?
Allow me to explain how I got here. Within the novel, Huxley references “feelies” a sort-of hybrid source of entertainment where all senses are stimulated. While musing over this, I decided to do a little research. So I quickly googled the term and was surprised to learn that “feelie” was not only a Huxley invention (or a college-rock band from the eighties) it was also a slang term used in video games, particularly for a type of swag.
A feelie was the name given to the bonus content included with the boxed versions of video games in the late eighties and early nineties. Props, booklets, coins, runes, histories, cloth maps, and much more. These started with Infocom titles such asZork, Planetfall, and the game version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Now, I realize that tchotchkes or swag is common across a lot of industries, and it’s something that crops up in the book industry as well. Go to any convention and you’ll come away with a haul, bookmarks, pens, bottle openers, tote bags, stickers, rubber bracelets, flyers. It’s popular and plentiful. I always have loads of swag at my table; I know many other authors do as well. Swag in its most rudimentary form is effectively an advertisement; feelies go a step further. They add a little something extra.
For example, Brandon Sanderson sells vials of allomantic metals similar to the ones allomancers imbibe in his Mistborn series. Hugh Howey once gave away Fallout Shelter passes (that doubled as USB drives) from his Wool series. In my own work, you can picture the dust-covered roaders of Bell Caravans wearing patches while on the trail. You get extra information from Wal’s notes scrawled on the Map of the Known Territories. There are hints at the history of the city in the illustrations on the Syringa postcard. These details are what separates a feelie from typical swag, a good feelie helps to expand its world as well as enhance it, they assist in making a fictional world feel real, they establish it as a place you can touch.
I’ve been a big fan of this approach for a long time. To me, it’s another aspect of worldbuilding. Only instead of with writing you’re doing it with objects. The feelie reminds me of an alternate reality game, going beyond the page to establish a real-world presence for our fictional creations and increasing immersiveness. My books have always been seeded with a little something extra so why not carry that over to other outlets as well? I’ve scattered extra stuff throughout websites, in bookmarks, in posts on this blog, and on Tumblr. The Bell Caravan patches come with Caravan Employee Registration documentation, stamped by the Lovaine Caravan Authority, of course, and signed by Wal. (It’s also full of subtle little references.) I find this attention to details adds little extra for the reader who is willing to put in the time. There’s something very engaging when you introduce someone something tangible to connect them to a piece of fiction. To me, that is much more interesting than a tote bag or tee shirt with a book cover on it.
I’m cooking up a few new ideas as well, so there’s always more to come. I’ve been dreaming up feelies for my secret fantasy project, and I have some great ideas for the Coal Belly series, and The Bell Forging Cycle (as I mentioned, some of the latter is already out there, providing one is willing to put in the legwork to discover it.) I love making stuff associated with my world, and I love sharing those creations with readers. (I even give away swag packs for free.)
Now, how about you? What do you think of feelies? Do you prefer them to regular swag or do you find them silly? What has been your favorite feelie you’ve purchased or received? Are you a creator who has made something extra for your world? I’d love to see your creations, and I’m sure others would as well. Feel free to post a link in the comments and share them with all of us.
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.
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 Green, Kate 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.orgincluding 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!
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