Sk8er Girl: Hey There, Stranger

My convention weekend started a day early — I’m spending the night with Natalie at her hotel so I can be that much closer to the airport in the morning. We went swimming after work (yay, pool!) and then Natalie joined our girl party at the skating rink. Man…after running/walking 100 miles in April, skating was a lot easier than I thought it’d be after 2 months. Kitti & Tracy came along too…and no one fell! It was a great time. We even did the Hokey Pokey!

Yeah. Okay. So…I miss it.

Natalie & Me — cute skating bunnies!

You can check out the gallery of all my Sk8er Girl pics here.

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Jurassic Shark

That’s the name the marketing folks around here are fondly using for Meg: Hell’s Aquarium. Steve Alten came to Ingram today to hang out, tell us a bit about himself and his background, and ultimately left us all pumped up and ready to sell Sno Cones to Eskimos. (That man is an AMAZING salesman!) Steve is just a real, honest-to-goodness go-getter. He was incredibly nice, very approachable…and he has a cool new trailer he asked us to share with you.

Warning: SHARK!!!

Me & Steve, looking like a day at the beach.

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Do it for the Kids

Lillie ( ) sent me a message this morning:

Hey All,

     Just in case someone has something they plan to purchase at Barnes & Noble this weekend, I thought I would pass this along.  My daughter is in the choral program at LaVergne High School and they are having a fund raiser with B&N.  The choral program will receive a percentage of any purchases made at any B&N anywhere with the voucher code 490508 from today 4/30 through Saturday 5/2.  If you are buying something anyway, please take a moment to help out the kids.Thanks!

ANYWHERE. That means ANYWHERE. That means you!
Remember, folks: 490508. You were going to the bookstore this weekend anyway, weren’t you?

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From the Jewelry Box

My little sister Soteria used to call me "Shala." She always got me in trouble, and she could never eat a fudgesicle without getting half of it all over her face. Now, she owns Dixie Dunbar Studio (192 King Street, Charleston SC) and designs necklaces and earrings that are featured in Vogue magazine.

She’s currently working on redoing the Dixie Dunbar website, but in the meantime she’s set up a Picasa album to display her wares. If you can’t stop by the store, feel free to call (843) 722-0006, or drop her an email: dixiedunbarstudio (at)

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Worth a Sunburn

Here are some of the pieces from my manic little art episode this weekend. (This is the first one, just click "Next" to see them all.)

No, I didn’t take pictures of the sunburn.
You’re welcome.

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Go win a copy of Beauty & Dynamite from Apex Books.

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Have a Lovely Weekend

Because if Scalzi can put up a picture of his cat in the window, I can post one of my teddy bear.

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On the Horizon

In the next few weeks I’m redoing my website in WordPress, so I’m putting up a bunch of blog posts I’ll be able to refer back to. I figured I’d repost them to LJ, ’cause…why the heck not? But I’ll save you pain & suffering by putting them behind a cut. If I can figure out how to do that.

My Bio, Behind the Cut

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Alethea Kontis, Princess of the World

I was born an old soul, hyperaware of my own mortality and convinced that true happiness was possibly the hardest thing in the world for anyone to achieve. My earliest memory is me, at four, sitting on the toilet in our small house in Vermont, staring at the 70’s era burgundy and orange wallpaper and thinking, “Great. This is probably going to be my earliest memory.”

I took my time deciding what it was I wanted to be when I grew up because it wasn’t just a passing flight of fancy for me, it was an honest-to-god career decision. The first thing I knew was that I could never be a doctor or veterinarian, because I was too emotionally sensitive to handle the death of a patient. (As a result, I considered “playing doctor” and books about horses a complete and utter waste of my childhood.)

I dabbled in acting at North Springs Elementary school-thanks to our amazing music teacher with an amazing vision, Linda Hall. I had my first part in a major production when I was six-going-on-seven. I played Marcie in “We’re all Stars, Charlie Brown,” and I sang a duet with Pig Pen. Acting was fun. A bit scary…but fun. That was certainly a possibility.

At the ripe old age of eight, I was assigned to write a poem for my 4th grade ALERT unit. It was an octet in almost perfect rhyming verse entitled “Friendship.” I looked at the lines in my notebook, scrawled in my young, round hand, and the world just clicked. I KNEW that I wanted to be a writer.

I wrote and wrote and wrote…stories, poems, greeting cards, pamphlets on why you shouldn’t do drugs…all kinds of stuff. Anything. Everywhere. I read every book I could get my hands on. But I only ever did passably well in English. I never placed in the story competitions in school. I never got into Governor’s School for the Arts.

Ironically enough, my brand of crap was still constantly sought after by friends and family. So I kept on writing for their amusement…and mine.

I was approached after a performance of “Showboat” at a local community theatre by someone from South Carolina Educational Television. They wanted me to come in and read for a part…which I did…and I was hired to star in an earth-loving PBS miniseries called “Pass it Along.”

I told my parents, if the writing thing didn’t pan out, I could always be an actress.

They were speechless. Writing and acting were not careers, they said. They were hobbies. At which point I informed them that I wanted to be a professional hobbyist. It did not go over well.

Since I wasn’t allowed to do what I wanted with my life, I decided to do what I was good at. (Trouble was, I was good at a lot of things.) So I took my time having a blast with my friends in high school, spent as little time as possible in college, and graduated with a degree in Chemistry.

Right after that, my father called in a favor to a friend who worked at South Carolina Electric and Gas and I went one afternoon to look at their labs. I took one step into the clean, white-walled rooms full of neat people in white lab coats and thought: I wonder how long it would take before I snuck in at night and painted the walls rainbow colors…

I went out the next day and got a job at the bookstore in the mall.

I’ve had other kinds of jobs over the past ten years – many of them at the same time – but I’ve never strayed too far from books. I followed my parents to Tennessee and got a job at the Smyrna Public Library. And right before I drained my savings account dry as a result of living for a year and a half below the poverty level, I lucked out and got a job as a buyer at Ingram Book Company. I still did copyediting, book reviews and interviews – anything I could get my hands on. I kept writing, because I loved it.

As a hobby, of course.

There are two checks framed in my library at home. One was the check I received when I was eight for my work on “Pass it Along.” The second I received eighteen years later from Candlewick Press — the first half of the advance for my picture book AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First. I think my degree is at the bottom of a box in the attic. I take a perverse sort of pleasure in the fact that I never earned a dime as a scientist.

The interesting side to my lack of formal education in the arts is that I have no concept of boundaries. Nothing is impossible. Anything goes. I don’t just think outside the box, I sit outside the box and use it as an ashtray. I want to do everything. And I’m working on it.

What is on the horizon for me? Well, I might care if I were interested in the horizon. My happiness lies in finding out what’s beyond it.

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A Rat a Day Keeps the Perky People Away

Pearls Before Swine PLUSH FIGURES. SQUEEE!!! I’ve seen them first hand. They look really, really nice.  I am a huge PBS fan. I interviewed creator Stephan Pastis for the Genre Chicks a while back. Completely fell in love with the man.You should too.

You can get Zebra, Croc, Pig, and Rat for only about $6 apiece, and shipping’s pretty decent…especially if you’re getting all four, like me. And Tracy. And Jenny.

Come on. How can you resist that face?

One of my favorite strips (aka: Why Lee is Going To Hell):

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