Hello, my lovelies! As you know, I’ve been spending a lot more time over on Patreon lately. To that end, I’ve decided to move the blogging over there for the forseaable future. This website may eventually be updated with a new landing page (perhaps we’ll add that to the Patreon goals!) but this post will have to do for now. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for updates (see the form on the right) and follow my author page on Amazon to be notified of all new fiction releases — but the most happening spot will be Patreon. So what are you waiting for?
With Dragon Con over for another year, I wanted to say thank you to all my wonderful friends who helped make Princess Alethea’s Traveling SideShow a huge success again this year. Thank you to Leanna Renee Hieber for being my bridge, for making people laugh, and for being with me since the beginning. Thank you to Mari Mancusi for being the most hilarious Katniss while looking fierce as Jedi Rapunzel. Thank you to Gray Rinehart for Ship With No Name, possibly the funniest song I’ve heard in my life. Thank you to E.C. Myers. Eugene my prince, and S.J. Tucker, Sooj my Enchantress, for joining me in my shenanigans and being a part of, what I consider, the best SideShow yet!! But most of all, thank you to my Brute Squad for having my back, joining in the fun, and helping make my SideShow the best it can be!
The Daily Dragon says that Princess Alethea’s Traveling SideShow is a “fantastic event that everyone should experience at least once.” You can read the full (AMAZING) review HERE!
Also, if you enjoyed Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow, please, please go into the Dragon Con app and give us a starred rating! Ratings help the Dragon Con Powers That Be decide which panels/programs will be asked back next year!
And if you love Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow and want to show your support, you can still purchase year’s commemorative original tee! http://amzn.to/2bkBDdf and w/black lettering: http://amzn.to/2bjUG4v
Convention Dates are Fri(9/2/16), Sat(9/3/16), Sun(9/4/16), and Mon(9/5/16).
I will be arriving on Wednesday with Bianca Roman-Stumpff so that I can help her set up in Pop Art Alley on Thursday. Bianca has kindly offered to squirrel some of my books away behind her table–so if I’m not on a panel and Pop Art Alley is open, that’s where I’ll be! Come find us!
Title: The Online YA Community
Description: From Twitter, to YouTube (booktube!), Reddit, podcasting, Goodreads, PATREON – the online YA community is vibrant.
Time: Fri 10:00 am Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Lindsay Cummings, S. Usher Evans, Alethea Kontis)
Title: Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow
Description: Join this motley band of talented (and costumed) authors for an entertaining hour of rants, rap battles, zombie haiku, musical numbers, and more. Swag for the first 40 audience members!
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, E.C. Myers, Gray Rinehart, Mari Mancusi, special musical guest S.J. Tucker)
Stay after the show for an autographing and meet & greet!
SATURDAY 10:00AM — PARADE
Alethea and costumed members of her Brute Squad will be walking in the YA section this year — look for Alethea’s patchwork skirt and her trademark Blue Alphabet Umbrella!
Title: Short Fiction for Fun (and Profit?)
Description: Short stories: equal parts art, science, and kung-fu. How does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? Should every author write short fiction?
Time: Sat 01:00 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Jody Lynn Nye, Delilah S. Dawson, Mercedes Lackey, Patricia Briggs, Alethea Kontis)
Title: Reading: Alethea Kontis
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Edgewood – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis)
Title: Origins: Gods and Monsters in Myth & Folklore
Description: Many of the supernatural beings and magical creatures appearing in Urban Fantasy have their roots in myth and folklore. Our panelists discuss those they feel most influenced by and others they have discovered in their research.
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Chastain DE – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Kevin Hearne, James R. Tuck, Samantha Sommersby, Valerie Hampton, Kathryn Hinds)
Title: Novelizing the Media
Description: Media tie-ins are very popular. Our panelists discuss how this works and their participation in a new superhero anthology.
Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Delilah S. Dawson, Clay and Susan Griffith, Alethea Kontis, Steve Saffel)
NOTE: This autograph session will be held at the same time as The Dragon Awards, for which Trix and the Faerie Queen has been nominated for Best MG/YA Novel. (haven’t voted yet? Go to http://awards.dragoncon.org/ and register right now! No membership needed)
This is the only event on my schedule that MAY change, so keep an eye on my Twitter Feed for any last-minute changes. If you miss me, come see me at Bianca’s table in Pop Art Alley!
Warning: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you would like to continue to believe that my life is a magical fairyland where darkness never falls, read no further.
Yesterday, I relaunched my Patreon Page in a big way. I made it shiny and welcoming and full of enthusiasm, with all the magic of a thousand spoonfuls of sugar. Just like they told me to: Sarah and Casey and Actual People from Patreon (in-person meetings, conference calls, the works).
Which was good, since a lot of that magic was forcibly kindled from a very dark place.
I haven’t been blogging much (probably another good thing), but those of you in touch with me on social media (especially FB) know this has been a pretty tough year for me. Yes, it seems that my body is falling apart, and no one’s sure why. I’ve subjected myself to six straight months of doctors and medicines and physical therapy trying to reverse the damage…or at least, slow it down.
Turns out, being in pain and brain-fuddled from various drugs doesn’t exactly put your mind in the best of places. On top of which, you know, some serious LIFE happened. Pretty rough and important stuff. It doesn’t stop just because you need to take a moment. Annoying, right?
At the conventions I went to anyway–on one leg and boatloads of medicine–friends asked me how I was doing. How I was really doing. I told them I was really okay. Because, in my mind I was, of course. Why wouldn’t I be? I had to be okay, or I wouldn’t have been able to Do All The Things That Must Be Done. I am a Magical Princess, and Magical Princesses are always okay!
It never occurred to me to tell them that I wasn’t okay. Even if, deep inside, my body was screaming from tip to toe.
The first draft of my “Why is Alethea on Patreon” statement was too long and so incredibly sad that a rewrite was “strongly suggested.”
I won’t repost all of that here (you’re welcome), but I will tell you about three very important bits.
1.) I’m in a decent amount of debt. Not impossibly so, and nothing I haven’t gotten out of before, which is why I took the risk. One does not leave an abusive relationship and move halfway across the country without risk. I decided that my quality of life was worth it, and I wasn’t wrong. But that was 2014, and things haven’t exactly bounced back yet because:
2.) My books are not performing as well as they should be. There are several reasons for this. One, is that I haven’t sold a new picture book yet (but I have three manuscripts I am actively working on RIGHT NOW, fingers crossed!). The second is that I haven’t been physically (or mentally) able to produce the massive quantities of fiction I want to produce. The third is that I feel obligated to finish the Woodcutter Sister series.
You’d think this last one wouldn’t put a wrench in the works, but it does. Harcourt still holds the rights to the first three books in this series, and will for some time. In order for me to make a real go of it at this self-publishing game, I need to have a WHOLE series in which ALL the books belong to me. Yes, I have an idea for what this series would be. I have LOTS of ideas. The problem is, I need to find a way to pay the bills with what I’m working on NOW so I can clear the decks and make that happen.
3.) I needed to find happiness again. Almost a decade ago I shattered into a million little pieces, and Princess Alethea rose from those ashes. I know how to find my happiness. Friends ask me for advice about this all the time. But even princesses, when left in the darkness for so long, can forget the reasons they get up in the mornings and why on earth they would ever smile. Social media became little more than a painful daily reminder of all the things I didn’t–and might never–have. Down and down the spiral went. I could sense the madness around the corner, and I had to nip it in the bud.
I moved to Florida FOR A REASON: to rebuild the Kingdom in my head. MY Kingdom. Consciously or not, I’ve been putting all the pieces into place this whole time.
Giving up the Fairy Tale Rants last year was harder than I ever thought it would be. Even though it didn’t pay the bills, every time I heard about a young person who sat down and mainlined all 55 episodes, it made my heart sing. For all that I do, I have always been a performer. My books, my videos, ME…all of these things are meant to bring joy to other people. My picture books readers, my romance, SF and horror friends, my fellow convention artists and cosplayers, my listeners and viewers. MY FAMILY.
Like Bilbo, I was starting to feel like butter scraped over too much bread. Relaunching the Patreon seemed the best way to gather all of ME in one place.
“And so I put a call here out into the world: if you have ever loved my writing, if you have ever met me at a convention, if you have ever admired my costumes, if you have ever read my essays, if you have ever watched a Fairy Tale Rant video, if you have ever liked something I’ve said or shared on social media, I invite you to my Kingdom where rainbows are seasonal and the flowers bloom all year round and exotic birds are as prevalent as exotic Pokémon…and there is glitter in the floorboards.”
If you love ME, and the magic I bring to the world, please click over to Patreon and help support this endeavor.
(At the very least, watch the video, because it’s 100% ME. And my friends. And my family. And Snake Plissken. And Groot. It was incredibly fun to make, and I made it for you!)
Thank you, my friends. I really do love every single one of you. You are my world. My magical, wonderful world.
Faerie Tale addiction?
July 1st only!
Book 1 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
1 & 2 by Alexia Purdy
by C.J. Pinard
by Tara Maya
Today on the Waterworld Mermaids, I tell the whole story of how a podcast with my 11-year-old Fairy Goddaughter turned into the surprise of a lifetime!
Congrats, Princess Allie!!! We love you! xox
(I should totally have my own television show with this title. Right? Netflix, call me.)
It sounds like such a small thing, doesn’t it? Yet, this sprain was severe enough to keep me on the ropes until the day before my flight left, waiting for the Orthopedic doctor to officially declare the injury “non-surgical.” It also kept me off my feet. Even though I was cleared for takeoff, I could not walk. Nor could my bad neck & shoulders handle crutches or a wheelchair. Thankfully, we live in the age of the knee scooter. Renting one of these made BEA and the Nebs possible for me. Difficult, still…but possible…and that happy thought propelled me right into Chicago.
A good thing, because that first day was hell.
Wednesday’s schedule was the most packed: Fly in to Chicago. Get to the Palmer House hotel. Extract BEA go-bag and drop the rest of luggage off with bellhop. Get to BEA and SFWA table. Meet with Ingram Spark. Change in bathroom for Audie Awards black-tie gala. Get to Audie Awards. Have champagne and pray Katy Kellgren walks away with Best Female Narrator of the Year again. (I’m her lucky charm, dontcha know.)
Even before the sprain, I was glad that my toughest day would happen first. The first day of a conference is the day fueled by the most adrenaline, and I was counting on that. Especially now that I had to do it all on a scooter.
Mom still thought I was crazy. I brushed it off. I’m young! I’m adventurous! I can do this! Think of the stories I will have to tell!
By the time I got to the Palmer House, the bloom was definitely off the enthusiasm. TSA had put me through so much grief that I wept once I reached the terminal. (If you are traveling while disabled, wear shorts or pants. Know your rights. Also know that 95% of the other passengers in wheelchairs are ambulatory. TSA is spoiled by this. If you are not able to stand or walk, TSA agents will make sure you are aware just how much of an inconvenience you are to them. You will be punished by waiting and condescension, and you will receive the wrath of the overworked and underpaid.)
And this was all before I fell off the plane. Yes, when I arrived in Chicago I was made to disembark in the middle of everyone, when I wasn’t ready, and a physically capable person was not present to help me off the plane. So the tiny flight attendant (and all the passengers behind me) watched as my scooter and I went sprawling onto the ground.
Discovering later that my shampoo had leaked all over my bathroom bag was almost silly. But I pulled up my bootstraps, pulled out the bag containing my glitter dress for the ceremony that night, and went up to where the books and bags were being organized and assembled for the Nebulas.
Normally, I’d be helping with that. It’s a task Peggy Rae Sapienza conscripted me into many years ago, and whenever given the chance, I cheerfully pitch in. Except, with the scooter, I was forced to keep quiet and stay out of everyone’s way.
I took the opportunity to relax and chat with Lawrence Schoen until Beth Dawkins and Fonda Lee were ready to head to BEA. I got to the show floor, met the fabulous Derek Kunsken, and then rushed off to my meeting.
The Spark meeting went great. I came away with good info and better contacts. Plus, I got to hug some old friends, which is never a bad thing. It was tough tearing myself away to change, Superman style, in a show-floor bathroom…an experience with which I am not unfamiliar. Once tiara bedecked in glitter and red silk, I made my way to the very long taxi line. (The BEA show greeters were incredulous and very complimentary of my transformation.)
My day was looking up.
I got to the planetarium just in time…and was greeted by a HUGE flight of stairs. If one cannot walk, the sight of the front of the Adler Planetarium is daunting, to say the least. But I was ushered in the back, up an elevator, and through secret hallways behind exhibits that made for a rather fun adventure! I saw more old friends, hugged Katy and wished her luck.
This Audie Awards was bittersweet, as it was my last ceremony as a judge. It has always been one of the highlights of BEA for me. And though I am sad to no longer be part of the judging process, I am up to the challenge of creating audiobooks so fabulous that I am able to return in the future as a nominee. (Fingers crossed!)
Speaking of nominees, I ran into my dear Ann Leckie, whose publisher had invited her to attend in celebration of her nomination for Ancillary Mercy. From then on, Ann and I teamed up–she made a wonderful date! Paula Poundstone was the emcee that night, and we laughed through the entire ceremony. Ann, sadly, didn’t end up with an award…but Katy did. Yes, my Audio Dreamgirl Katy Kellgren received the Audie for Best Female Narrator of the Year for the FOURTH TIME. And for the fourth time, we took pictures and danced in celebration.
Well, as much dancing as one can do on one leg. Trust me…the smiles were large and the glitter was high. My first and toughest day of conferencing had come to such a fabulous finale that it was worth all the pain and aggravation I had suffered that morning.
Ann’s publisher put us in a car back to the Palmer House, at which point I collected my bags and went up to the room to wait for Kate to let me in.
I was all smiles. “I have had an absolutely magical night,” I told her.
“I have a story for you,” said Kate. She knows how much I love stories. “You are going to lose your shit.”
After the day I’d had, I was a little apprehensive. “In a good way, I hope.”
Kate looked at me pointedly. She helped me lug my bags into the room and allowed me to sit before telling me the whole story of how she’d just won a Guardians of the Galaxy date with Chris Pratt.
All that pain and aggravation.
Totally worth it.
Compared to the magic of that first day of BEA/Nebs, the rest of my con report seems rather dull…but I promise, there was just as much wonderfulness to be had as there was exhaustion.
Most of Thursday was spent on the BEA floor, manning the SFWA booth with Derek and fellow Codexian Dawn Bonnano, chatting with old friends and new folks who will one day be old friends. I was exhausted by closing, bid all of my show floor friends farewell, and then played the Poor Pathetic Girl card to get me and Dawn to the head of the taxi line.
That night I met up with fellow YA authors Adam Selzer and his wife Ronni — Adam is one of those people I have known for so long online that it felt weird meeting up and realizing that we had never before actually met in person. Well, we’ve fixed that now, haven’t we? And thank goodness! Ronni brought my dearest Zoriada Cordova and Amber Sweeney in tow, which was a super nice surprise, and then they all traded up to the Sourcebooks party, leaving me and Adam to our own devices.
Which was PERFECT, really since 1.) I hadn’t yet braved the streets outside the hotel and 2.) Adam is a professional Chicago tour guide. We didn’t go too far, because of the scooter and my increasing level of exhaustion, but it was lovely to have even that small taste of Chicago while I was there!
(Aside: I later discovered that the Terracotta Warriors were on display at the Field Museum, and was seriously depressed that I didn’t have two feet or the energy with which to go. Much to my delight, Bud Sparhawk and his wife had gone, and he was all too happy to share his pictures of the exhibit with me one night in the con suite. Thanks, Bud!)
The rest of the weekend was a blur of surprises, happiness, glitter, and exhaustion. I was on two panels that were incredibly well received, and later met with pros from both ACX and Patreon to dream up exciting plans for the future. Somewhere in there was a business meeting…and a volunteer breakfast (I received a beautiful certificate!)…and a mass book signing. And somewhere in there I went back to the room so tired that I broke down in tears. Maybe more than once. I can’t remember.
Kate and I might have been rooming together, but we were both so busy we barely saw each other after that first night.
Bringing 100% of your awesome to two conventions is tough enough. Bring it all on one leg…honestly, I’m not even sure how I did it. Much of the time, I psyched myself out by convincing myself that I was Acting Disability Quality Control. I was THRILLED that such a to-do had been made over accessibility at the last World Whatever conference, and that Nebula Weekend had stood up to say WE ARE ACCESSIBLE. (Thank you, SFWA!)
There were no panels presented from a dais. A couple of times I had to ask security to lead me to special secret lifts (I felt like Harriet the Spy in the dumbwaiter!), but none of the events were held in places I couldn’t get to. Even the Award Ceremony — seating for the groundlings was up a small set of stairs, but there was a special section behind the banquet tables for those of us who couldn’t climb them.
I have to admit: by the time the Nebula Ceremony rolled around, I was so wiped out that I almost skipped it. I knew I’d have to be escorted up a special lift, so I did miss the reception. I compromised by allowing myself to deprincess a little. I took off the corset. I let my hair down. I even left the tiara in the room. And you know what? No one cared.
In fact, so many of my finely-dressed friends were thrilled to see me as they walked in and out of the banquet hall, we decided that I should host a Red Carpet pre-show next year. I became happy that I’d made the effort to come down for the festivities. I joked with John Hodgman as I wheeled into the room. Sam J. Miller was my hero and snuck water to my seat before the show started. And then Henry Lien walked on stage for the Commander Stardust musical performance and blew us all away. “Radio SFWA” is still stuck in my head.
It was a beautiful ceremony. John Hodgman was a perfectly amusing and respectful emcee. And Tom Piccirilli’s photo at the end of the In Memoriam slideshow made my eyes leak all over again.
I miss you, Unca Pic. Forever and always.
I am incredibly proud of all the nominees and winners of this year’s Nebula Awards. I am incredibly happy about all the old friends I saw and thrilled about all the new friends I made — I wish us all the best of luck in our future endeavors. I’m also incredibly proud of all the volunteers: Derek, Beth, Terra, Dawn, Steve, Kate–ESPECIALLY KATE!–and so many others who made this year’s BEA and Nebula Awards weekend run incredibly smoothly.
Steve said at our little Dead Dog party (yes, I ate Chicago pizza but I scraped all the cheese off…shhh, don’t tell!) that the worst thing about a con with so few hiccups was that there was so little to write about.
I find I don’t have that problem. My only regret is that I was having so much fun that I kept forgetting to take photos. (That’s okay, though, John Scalzi was present with his fabulous camera-fu to make up for it!)
I am happy that I made the journey, despite every hardship. So happy, in fact, that I went ahead and bought my membership for Nebula Weekend next year. I look forward to doing all this again on two legs.
Pittsburgh, here I come!