Tag Archives: K. M. Alexander

What I’m Excited About: Coal Belly

Hey folks, time to take a break from writing and discussing RPG games (and how I like them as creative tools for writers).

Now I’m going to talk about reading.

I try to broaden my reading horizons from time to time. Try is the operative word. When I had an opportunity to read some books indie-published by an author in my writing group that was firmly outside my usual reading coterie, I welcomed the opportunity with perhaps some minor trepidation.

K.M. Alexander’s weird fiction series, The Bell Forging Cycle, has three books so far. I didn’t relish telling a growing friend who gave great writing advice his style of writing wasn’t for me. What if I couldn’t bring myself to read book two (Old Broken Road)? Also, I’ll admit I wasn’t very excited about reading something “self-published”.  All I knew about self-pubs at the time was the worst FUD distributed by two types of sources. Traditional publishers and reviewers with obvious skin in the game continue to rail against self-pubs even today. Also, multiple people I know have read and reacted poorly to something written and published by a person (often their neighbor or family member) who clearly had no understanding of what is actually involved in the publishing process or frequently even the writing process.

It turns out, there was absolutely no cause for concern. I finished The Stars Were Right rarely putting it down over a single weekend. I’ve since read the rest of The Bell Forging Cycle, and I can’t imagine a sci-fi/fantasy fan who wouldn’t enjoy following along with Waldo Bell’s trials and triumphs in the strange yet familiar multi-tiered city of Lovat. It’s such a rich and intriguing world. I could imagine myself visiting Lovat, and I sure wish I could.

The Point–

K.M. has just finished a zero-draft version of Coal Belly, and I’ll be gnashing my teeth and wailing until I can get my hands on it. Coal Belly isn’t a new installment in The Bell Forging Cycle, it’s a new novel with a whole world of fascinating characters, stories, and ideas behind it.

Mr. Alexander can surely explain it better than I:

–REBLOGGED–

Last weekend, after a year and eight months, I finally hit print on the final chapter of my latest novel, Coal Belly. The first of what I hope to be a trilogy. Right now, it weighs in at 190k words, and I expect it to grow. Long time readers know this isn’t the first time I’ve written […]

via So, Coal Belly is Done… Sorta — I Make Stories

I’ll keep this short.

15MinuteClock120511300x300

K. M. Alexander posted a quote that struck a chord. For over a month now, my entire writing existence has centered around the idea he recently espoused here.

It works. I sit at the computer, and I say, “For the next 15 minutes there is nothing but writing.” Then I set a timer, and I go. Sometimes I get 350 words of total crap. Other times I can barely force 190 words, and none of them seem great. Other times, I feel like it’s all coming together. I feel like I’m writing something I would enjoy reading.

The other times are starting to outnumber the rest. It’s a good feeling.

Now back to work.

Friday Link Pack 1/29/2016

Just when I thought I’d done something as haphazardly and last-minute as humanly possible — I’m writing a Friday Link Pack post at 10 PM EST on Friday via airplane wifi in extremely turbulent air bound for snowy Salt Lake City after a long week of strenuous vacationing. Oh well, here goes nothing!

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As a reminder, because I know you all read two weeks ago and remember, I’m collaborating on #FLP posts with Drew Gerken, who wrote a great one last week. Check it out over on his blog.

WRITE-ING (Note to self.)

So you want to be a writer…
This is a lovely post by Hugh Howey about writing and what it takes. For example, don’t give up before you’ve started. Credit where credit is due on finding this one: thanks, K.M. Alexander!

How To Write Super Sharable Content For Your Author Blog
Yes, I’m coming back to Lauren Sapala again. I saw this one come up on my list yesterday, and it’s pure gold. I’m going to start following this advice once I start writing again in earnest next month! Did I mention that aside from offering great advice on Twitter and her blog, Lauren is a writing coach for hire?

CREATIVITY/INSPIRATION

Bluescreen Launch Series
One of my favorite Young Adult authors, Dan Wells, has been writing a series of pre-launch posts on his blog for the first book in a new series, Bluescreen. Check this one out and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, give it a go.

SCIENCEY

Sweat Puns Galore!
I could write several. More than several. What I can’t do is make this stuff up. Soon we will have wrist-attached sweat analyzers that can detect things like hydration levels, glucose, sodium, and body temperature. Imagine the applications just for diabetics.

GIF OF THE WEEK

Hoping for a landing less interesting than this:

Friday Link Pack 1/15/2016

HERE I AM — writing comments on other people’s blogs instead of writing my own posts. I mentioned recently that I’m planning to recommit to posting here in February. Let’s jumpstart that a bit.

It's Alive

Beginning NOW, I’ll be posting a Friday Link Pack every other week opposite this fine fellow. Drew is a friend and a member of, not one, but two of my writing groups. He’s a super talented writer and an all-around fantastic individual. You should follow his blog: Write Brained Ramblings. I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that Mr. Gerken and I didn’t come up with this idea entirely on our own. Our fellow writing group member, and considerably more accomplished friend (and… cheerleader?), K. M. Alexander has written 100 (ONE HUNDRED!) Friday Link Packs over the past couple years. As his writing career has put him in a place where many of his readers are now fans and not just other writers, he has passed the torch on to us. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow K. M.’s blog. I’ll cheat and link to one of his recent posts below.

Anyhow, here is last week’s installment in case you missed it: Friday Link Pack: 1/8/16

WRITE-ING (Note to self.)

Self Critique and the Road to the End
Fellow writer and friend, J. Rushing said all the right things to motivate me today. He has a delightful blog and his reminisce/advice here is beautiful prose in and of itself aside from its obvious extrinsic value. Looking forward to more from him soon.

Cildaire, a Fledgling World: A History
Nope. I don’t think I’ve linked to Drew enough. Why do you ask? Just one of his many talents, Drew Gerken, is a master worldbuilder. Check out this first post in a series that promises to keep your creative juices flowing.

CREATIVITY/INSPIRATION

David Bowie on Stardust
Going back to the father of the link pack on this one. Great way to send him off, K. M. What a week. Bowie and Rickman. A couple of gentlemen I admired for years. Bowie, though, was an inspiration as an artist AND a creative. Rest in peace, fellas.

SCIENCEY

NASA’s Propellantless EM Drive
The article is a little dense; click at your own risk. The gist is this: a drive for spaceflight that doesn’t require propellant means we could create generational extra-solar colonization spaceships. We could send people to other planets! It would take multiple lifetimes to get there, but we could do it! This is not science fiction, folks.

Nadine the Human Robot
It’s a good thing this needs no words because I have none.

GIF OF THE WEEK

rickman.gif

I’ve Failed The World Of Writing

haventReadPotter

It has been brought to my attention that I have failed the writing community at large because I haven’t read the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (yes, I just linked to Wikipedia for Harry Potter). I will attempt to remedy this by at least reading the first installment after I finish the book I’m currently reading, Red Litten World by K. M. Alexander.

Now let me add my own, “you’ve failed the writing community if you haven’t read”: Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I know- it’s an entirely different genre. It isn’t even FICTION!

mansearchformeaningThis book will transform the way you think about the motivations of characters in desperate situations.

This book enlightens you on the motives of men driven to do horrible things.

This book may well change your life for the better. It has mine. Thank you, Meri!

Frankl was a Jew in a concentration camp. He saw some of the worst of the human condition imaginable. He also happened to be a trained psychiatrist who observed and later documented the ordeal.

If you are a writer, read this book. If you are not a writer, read this book.

I’d love to hear from you. What is your “you’ve failed the writing community if you haven’t read” book?

Small update: I’m still working on Rue From Ruin – Part 5. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it!

Rue From Ruin – Part 4

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t know what it is, go here.

This is the last time I’m going to write recognitions for folks who’ve helped out directly on a part. I’ll move all of them to the main Rue From Ruin page soon. In the meantime, I need to say this now. It’s important because, without these fine people, you wouldn’t be reading Part 4 today.

So much great help from Meri. She spotted all the really dumb stuff I was doing and she found it while suffering from a horrible cold. What an amazing woman! I’m blessed beyond belief to have her as my wife. My teen sons also took turns reading although their feedback was more along the lines of, “Ooo! Pretty good, Dad!”

Big thank you to the beta readers who provided some wonderful critique and helped me add more story that might have gone missing otherwise. J. Rushing, K. M. Alexander, and Drew Gerken all pitched in. Each of them had a unique perspective and I appreciate them immensely. They don’t even know. Srsly.

—-

Rue From Ruin – Part 4

hellhall

Imprisonment

I’m being marched through the center of a village at gunpoint by a fourteen-year-old girl, I think to myself. I wonder how pathetic it must look. Vanity isn’t a major weakness of mine, but I’m not immune to it either.

A tall young man, several years my junior, lounges against the wall in front of the small building we head toward. Incredibly, the squat stone structure appears to serve as police, fire, and La Poste for the little hamlet. The youth stares at me, but the girl with the shotgun ignores him and his sickly complexion. There is something familiar in his dark hazel eyes; I can’t place it. As we breeze past him, I’m unable to stop staring back.

“Watch where you’re going, scruffy-man,” the tall teen says and nudges my ribs with her 28-gauge. I turn around just in time to stop myself from walking right into the doorjamb of the building we are entering. She says, “I am the gracious host, am I not, señor?”

I nod agreement, not trusting my tongue to be civil.

It won’t do any good to snap at her, I remind myself. However, if I hadn’t taken the tincture in time… I shudder and try not to think about it.

We resume walking through the door of the multi-purpose building. I catch a whiff of something pungent that causes me to stop like a car in one of the crash test commercials. I feel the shotgun barrel dig into my back as the girl presses forward, not anticipating my sudden halt.

I know this scent.    

The girl sighs, impatient, and we continue down the narrow stone hallway past the shuttered window where La Poste customers fetch their mail. The odor is so strong it’s becoming overpowering. I can almost see it. After ten meters, the hall opens up into a tiny room with a small rectangular table, covered with a black and white checkered tablecloth. A man in a rumpled uniform sits behind it. The officer barely registers to me because my sinuses are reeling in the overpowering smell of HIM. I swear the odor emanating from the small window on his cell door is practically visible, with sickly green tendrils of smoke-like stench reaching for my nose.

“Hola, papa,” the girl says to the man at the table. “This Americano was trespassing by the old well on the Laurent property.”

I barely notice her speaking, because this is it! At last, the end of my search! I’ve found René Demons. And soon, he will pay so dearly for what he has done.

After I get some answers, I remind myself.

The man in the chair straightens and says something in thickly accented English about, “… night for trespass … go in morning.” He waves a hand toward the open door of the second holding area. It’s barely a closet, and his daughter gives me a nudge toward it. I try to catch a glimpse into the window where the sickly scent-tentacles are reaching out. No luck. I listen for any movement in the cage and hear none.

Of course, Demons probably knows I’m here. I haven’t said anything, but he’s always been very canny at running from me; the monster must know I am near. He can’t be allowed to escape, but I also can’t see a way to get to him now without slaughtering the officer and his daughter. As badly as I want the Professeur, I don’t wish to harm these people.

Deadlocked by indecision, I allow myself to be herded into my tiny prison, hardly noticing as the door grinds shut behind me. Once in the cell, I sink to sit on the cot. It’s barely larger than an oversized camping cooler, and no softer. That doesn’t matter. All I can think of is how I’m going to rend the Professeur’s flesh in the most painful ways.

After sitting for a while, fantasizing, I start to consider the questions I’m going to ask him in the morning. Why turn me into this… thing? Why let me go home to my family as if nothing were wrong?

Why the hell didn’t he just give me some answers that day? I’m clearly delirious. He’s been running from me because he knows I’m going to kill him. How could he have any doubt of my intention?

Exhaustion and the droning on of the father and daughter eventually lull me. A night of rest will ease my fatigue and help me deal with him in the morning, the rationalized thought comes thickly as if bubbling up through molasses. I fall asleep sitting on the cot, back against the wall, chin on chest.

——

The dream always brings back every painful reminder of what I felt like waking up on the morning when they died. I’ve dreamt it more times than I can count. It goes like this:

I’m looking up at the ceiling and note with morbid fascination that there appears to be something crimson speckling its powdery, popcorn texture. I roll over on the slick, hard surface, nearly naked in my shredded clothing from the night before. I’m covered in sticky red blood and, in fact, am lying in viscera in the middle of our kitchen floor. Their dead and waxen faces are waiting for me as I roll to my knees in the ichor. The bright red lifeblood spattering them is a stark contrast to the porcelain of their features. There is so much of it.

Everywhere.

The details of the night before are hazy, but I do remember coming home and feeling terribly sick. I went straight to my bed to lie down and was frustrated and worried that the Prof had gone off his rocker. He had taken a phone call earlier in the day, I think. Shortly after hanging up, he had left for a few minutes and then he came up behind me and injected me with a hypo of what I think was his own blood. I recall his crazed screeching about it being the only chance.

I called security immediately, and the Professeur fled the lab. I tendered my resignation in disgust and left the office to return home after making my report.

No longer able to keep my thoughts to myself, I remember getting up and coming to the kitchen. Always my sounding board, my wife was there sitting at the table with little Kara. I sat with them and ranted on about the incident. Marilyn, ever rational, reminded me that some blood tests were probably in order. Just to be sure I wasn’t infected with something dangerous like HIV. How I wish I would have left the house right then to follow her advice. Instead, I complained and whined and said I would get checked in the morning.

Then the change started coming on. I felt the terrible pain of displaced bone and muscle and ligament for the first time. The dread of a strange, overpowering hunger and the anticipation of sating it.

To my utter dismay, shame, and heartbreak, there are only two human beings I’ve ever killed in the throes of my curse: my wife, Marilyn, and my daughter Kara.

After awakening and sitting up to the scene of their deaths, I collapse back to the floor. Salty tears of despair flow freely, and somehow I can’t seem to breathe. Finally, a cry that sounds like the mating call of a grizzly bear escapes my lips. Once released, the wracking sobs won’t stop for what feels like hours.

When the tears finally run dry, I make a solemn vow to my dead family: I will make vengeance my life’s last goal.

——

The door swings open, and a man in a fireman’s uniform is speaking to me in French. Still mostly asleep, I don’t understand a word of it. I wipe the wetness of the drool from my chin. But, unfortunately, it has also soaked a portion of the overall I’m still wearing. There is a large salty-edged saliva stain on the front. It must look ridiculous.

The man motions me to leave. Finally! I wipe the sleep from my eyes; stand and follow him out. I’m groggy, but I still notice the open door to the other cell. I sniff the air, and although the scent is still there, it’s somehow weaker, less overpowering. My worst fear of the previous night is realized. They’ve let him out while I slept!

Sniffing the air, I catch a tendril of scent leading out of the building. He is still very near.

I don’t much care what the Frenchman is yelling after me as I sprint out of the building at full tilt.

Attention To Detail Is A Must

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Hello, World! I’m back with a short post today because I’m ironing out the revisions for Part 4 of Rue From Ruin.

In the meantime, something exceptional arrived in the mail today. You could call it an early birthday present.

I recently ordered some swag from K. M. Alexander‘s website, and this is the first day I got to hold it in my hot little hands. I haven’t reviewed K. M.’s books here, although I have on Amazon and Goodreads.

I can sum his work up in two words: READ IT.

The world of Waldo Bell is so wonderfully realized and beautiful. Upon reading The Stars Were Right I immediately despaired that I would ever achieve such mastery in the craft of writing. I asked K. M. how he got everything so perfect, and I’ll paraphrase his response: “My work wasn’t always this good. The books are what they are as the result of a lot of hard work and practice.”

The words had the intended effect and I continued to work on my writing.

It goes without saying that he is also incredibly attentive to details. Any work K. M. puts his name on is delightfully fantastic. To illustrate this point, I’m going to share some unboxing photos I took today.

My lesson for the day (mainly for myself) is that great art requires a creative, attentive, and detailed mind. It is inspiring to see what can be produced by someone who has honed these skills.

Enjoy the pictures and please ignore the fact that I’m a horrid photographer.

Envelope with the stamp of the City of Lovat.
Envelope with the stamp of the City of Lovat.
Look what's inside!
Look what’s inside!
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The patch I ordered and a caravan employee registration form to go with it. It even has Waldo Bell’s signature!
Bookmarks, stickers, and pins. Such cool swag!
Bookmarks, stickers, and pins. Such cool swag!