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SFWA and OSC Signing Pics

I went to NY on Monday afternoon. Came back to DC Tuesday night and went straight to the OSC launch of Pathfinder at the Borders in DC. (I haven’t seen Scott in forever, I wasn’t going to miss that!) Wednesday morning I got up, packed, and that afternoon drove to FGB’s parents’ house near the coast. Of course, I packed the wrong cord to upload the pictures, which is why it’s taken me so long to post this. (Well, that and I didn’t want to be horribly rude and spend the whole time on the computer, trying to juggle files.)

New York was wonderful, and a whirlwind. Dearest Leanna collected me off the bus and we went straight to her television studio dressing room so I could change for dinner. (Because The Big Apple has a dressing room every ten feet — my second choice was a phone booth, of course.) From there we caught a cab to the Aspen Social Club for the Codex Writers Dinner, where we met Lawrence & Valerie Schoen, Mary Rodgers, and Jamie Todd Rubin.

From there we walked the short block to Planet Hollywood for the SFWA “Mill & Swill” soiree. What with the move from TN and everything, I’ve been considerably off the SFF radar, so I admittedly spent more time catching up with old friends than I did meeting new folks. (Which is typically what happens when one puts a bunch of introverts in a room with too much liquor and not enough quiet spaces.) I did a tad bit of schmoozing, however, and ended up spending most of my time with my two new best friends: Kelly and David Forbes. Thank you, Murphy, for introducing me to them AFTER I left PA, where I was about twenty minutes from their house. Grr.

Mary Robinette Kowal was far too busy doing the VP thing with the entire room, so I only managed to speak with her for about five minutes, long enough to pass on my love to her parents and snap this picture of us so I could show all of you her smashing red dress. I covet.

It was both a long night and not long enough, and I was so dizzy when I got back to Leanna’s apartment that I simply fell into bed and passed out…waking up pink windows full of a magnificent sunrise. Leanna and I stopped at the Dorchester offices for coffee on the way to the bus stop so I could say hi to some old, dear, and much-missed friends, and then a fairly-late bus stopped for boarding in the middle of the road and whisked me away back to the Emerald City of DC. I survived both the bus trip and the metro, and–somewhat worse for the wear–got picked up at the station by FGB to be whisked away again to Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder signing at the Borders in DC.

As tired and miserable as I was I might have skipped it, but I haven’t seen Scott in a ridiculously long time (read: years), and I felt like the bad niece for not catching up with her favorite uncle. Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a signing that lasted three hours, so Scott and I didn’t get to talk much, and we had to wait forever to do so because we didn’t realize that buying the book FIRST is what gave us a spot in line until it was far too late.

The best part, though, was during the Q&A, when a woman in the front row raised her hand and asked about Scott’s role as a teacher. She mentioned that she had been to a signing a few months ago by one of his students, and asked if Scott had similar success with many other students. I immediately shoved AlphaOops: H is for Halloween in the air (I had brought a copy to give to Scott) — when he noticed, he laughed and asked me to stand up and brag to the audience. It couldn’t have been better had I planned it. And all the waiting was worth it just for this hug.

Check out the rest of the pictures from my NY trip and the signing here!

(And no, before you ask, I will not be reviewing Pathfinder for IGMS. We sort of see that as a conflict of interest. Which means I get to read it and enjoy it…and then maybe tell you what I think of it here on the blog. But only if I feel like it.)

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Long Weekend

I’m a child of the Old Generation…I enjoy spending time with the family (even if it’s watching 17 hours of the Cake Boss marathon). I feel like staying on the computer for long stretches of time is kind of rude. So you’ll have to forgive me if the blogging is sporadic until we get back home on Monday–whatever time I’ve had to catch on the computer I’ve been using to add words to the novel — which will no way hit 50K by December 1st, but I might get a comfortable 30+, which I’m happy with. That’s a number a girl can finish into a full book by the end of the year.

I’m also still stunned by the color that’s hung around till the very end…it seems only fair, since 95 degrees blanketed this year from April to October. Here on the coast of VA there are roses still in bloom, and trees whose colors seem to defy the spectrum with their beauty. FGB says they make the ground look like it’s covered in Fruity Pebbles. Heehee…that they do.

One last PSA — I mentioned it on Twitter & FB but it’s important enough to mention here again — be sure to shop this weekend at as many (or more) independent stores than you do retail chain outlets. Yesterday, FGB and I only shopped at indie stores, from our very first cup of coffee in the morning. There was no crush of people and all the clerks were knowledgeable and attentive and not stressed out. As much as I enjoyed the peace I wish it had been busier — having a sister with her own “shop around the corner”, I know how important the holiday season is for them.

Please, go out of your way if you have to, but buy some local artwork. Shop some local merchants. Spread some holiday cheer. That’s what the Holiday Spirit is all about. You’ll be glad you did.

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App Annoyances While Adventuring

Getting my iPhone was a huge technological leap that aided my presence on social networks and the intarwebs in general. One of the great things I had come to rely on while on the road was the WordPress app, from which I could moderate my blog comments, make posts, even include pictures.

I use the past tense, because I haven’t been able to make the WordPress app on my phone work for several months now. It crashes every time I try to sign in. I’ve sent crash reports, I’ve deleted it and added it again, I’ve written bad reviews and posted them on the app along with all the other people who can’t seem to sign in. It’s considerably annoying.

Does WordPress really not care about fixing this? Anybody have any other ideas about what I can do?

In the meantime, I’m still on Twitter while on the road (crossposting to Facebook), though I may be looking for a different app than TweetDeck in the near future as well. *sigh*

Aren’t we a bunch of spoiled children?

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Still Swimming

Hey! Popped my head above water just to let you know that I’m still working on the book, with a brief pause to work on some Xmas projects, and I’ll be on the bus to NY and the SFWA reception tomorrow.

Supposedly the bus has wifi, so if I don’t get too motion sick I might be able to update you a little more from the road. Or I might write a couple more reviews or work on another chapter for the book.

What’s your vote?

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Happy DAPPER Day!

In celebration of today’s release of Jim McCann & Janet Lee’s Return of the Dapper Men, I have changed my profile pics on both Twitter and Facebook to this Dapper version of MOI! Janet drew this last year for the “Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome” serial (which, like Dapper Men, was *also* inspired by a J.K. Lee Christmas ornament).

Janet asked me what I would like for my author pic, so I’m sure I said “something steampunky…with a top hat!” And this is what I got!! What do you think? She just knows I look good in red.

I am so very excited about this graphic novel release — it’s one thing when two of your longtime friends get to work together on an awesome project, and it’s quite another when that project pops up on MTV, Ain’t it Cool News, USA Today, and the NYT Christmas Gift List. (!!!)

I mean, seriously, Janet, could you make it HARDER for a little sister to keep up with you? Sheesh!! All I did was get reviewed!

Be smart and get your hands on this book before it has to go to reprint — click here to purchase Return of the Dapper Men from Amazon.com. If you’d like to know a little more about the book, click here to watch the YouTube trailer. (Warning: you will be instantly sad that this is not an animated series.)

Click here to visit Janet’s Etsy shop and purchase some beautiful and inspiring Christmas ornaments of your own! They are limited edition original sets every year, so if you see one you like, get it now. They are light and easy to ship, so they make great gifts. And what could be a better gift than original artwork on your Christmas tree?

Janet is just that awesome. Which is why she gets to be the Aviatrix.

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Location, Location, Location

Dear writers: when it’s a gray and gloomy day outside, find a place to write that inspires you. Pretend you’re not in your house but instead a villa that you’ve rented for the week. The dishes, the lawn, the errands — those are someone else’s problems. Right now, all you need to worry about is hot coffee/cocoa, a roaring fire, and words on the page.

This is my writing spot:

Feel free to snag this picture for your desktop if you don’t have access to a space of your own. You can pretend those are your cute feet. You can even pretend that this is a Real Fire — unfortunately, this is one of those gas-burning jobbers that gives me a wicked headache after about ten minutes.

*I* like to pretend I’m on the floor in front of the fireplace at WoodThrush Woods, drinking some of Mary Robinette Kowals‘ parents’ lovely jasmine tea or hot chocolate supply. The winter writers retreats were always my favorite.

[Picture easter egg — those of you who were at WFC in Saratoga will recognize that brilliant blue bottle in the window…]

Now, shut out the rest of the world, clear your mind, take a deep breath, and write, my friends.

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Email and Thanks

In this, the season of Thanksgiving (in the US), let us give thanks to King Fabulous WebMaster Phillip I, who has fixeth the website email form.

I notified him of the problem and he wrote me back immediately, telling me that he had discovered what was wrong. As I am Princess Technoidiot, what I gathered from his missive was: “Lalalalalala cache lalalalalalalalala fixed now“–much in the way of Ginger, the dog from The Far Side.

Thank you, my dearest Phillip, you are a wonder. Comme toujours.

Now, LET THE EMAILING COMMENCE!!

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

New reviews are up in my column at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show!

Title: Warrior Wisewoman 3
Editor: Roby James
EAN: 9781607620617

I’ll admit, when I first received this book and looked at the title, I was slightly concerned that I was getting into part three of a Conan-style fantasy that I hadn’t dived into before . . . but it was recommended by a friend, so in doing my friendly duty I had to give it a shot. And then I looked a little closer at the cover (and remembered that my friends are pretty intelligent people). Vera Nazarian’s classic busts of women against a star-filled backdrop, with some sort of satellites in the foreground, hinted at a bit more than She-Ra and the Power of Grayskull. (Read more…)

Title: Archvillain
Author: Barry Lyga
EAN: 9780546196499

The coolest thing about hunting down authors you really like at conventions is that sometimes they give you free books. The tough thing about hunting those authors down is that you need someone who’s met them before to point them out in the crowd while wandering through Baltimore Comiccon. Otherwise, you’ll pass them three or four times and never even know it. Luckily, this year I had a friend with me to point out Barry Lyga, who gave me a copy of his new YA book, Archvillain. (Read more…)

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If you would like to send me a copy of your SF/F book for review consideration, please mail it to me at:
Alethea Kontis
PO Box 2024
Ashburn, VA 20146

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The Adventures of Backwards Girl

My favorite teacher in high school, Mr. Jon Stafford, taught AP U.S. and European History. I didn’t do very well in history (love kings & queens; hate war & politics), but I looked forward to his class every single day. In addition to our classroom texts, Mr. Stafford had us read Upton Sinclair and Voltaire. He was also a great storyteller himself, and the life lessons I learned from him I carry close to my heart to this day.

One of the most important tidbits (the most important being: “You are the only one who can make you happy“) was about our road of life. He warned us that it would be hilly and winding and sometimes blocked with thorny bushes, but advised that the journey would be rewarding and fulfilling if we chose to make it so.

I listened to Mr. Stafford. I listened enough to completely exempt out of History in college. I listened enough to realize that 1.) I was an optimist of the sort that Voltaire despised, 2.) I was going to decide what made me happy and do that, and 3.) The road was worth traveling, no matter how muddy, murky, and miserable.

I’m one of those people who likes to show up at least five minutes early for everything. Because of that, I normally factor in at least fifteen extra minutes travel time for getting lost…because I usually do. I always get off the interstate one exit before I’m supposed to because I think I’ve gone too far, and I’m so used to missing my turn that it’s really no surprise when I have to go around the block. Of course, once when driving back to Columbia from visiting Casey at college in Clemson, I went the wrong way on I-85 and didn’t realize my mistake until I ended up in Georgia. That’s just how I roll.

Turns out, my life is a lot like that too. In a recent interview at The Qwillery, I talked about how Luc Reid (founder of the Codex Writers) calls me “Backwards Girl” for the strange order in which things constantly happen to me. I’m not quite sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing–essentially, I just jump on every opportunity as it comes and don’t ask questions. I landed a picture book contract with a major publisher without submitting it. I spent the week at Writers of the Future without having won a thing. I was the most popular girl in school when I was nine years old. My very first book presentation was to a standing-room-only auditorium. I got made fun of for hitting the New York Times bestseller list. It’s just how I roll.

I’ve had more than a few book sales and short story sales (the majority of the latter in 2010 alone). Because of that, the sale of Sunday may seem like just another announcement to you. Please let me reassure you that it is by no means “just another” anything. My goal this whole time–even before my Social Studies teacher had me take that make-up test in the back of Mr. Stafford’s classroom and I was so engrossed in his lecture that I knew I had to take that class, no matter what it was–has been to publish young adult fantasy, specifically about princesses.

Fairy tales were my first love, and the obsession from which all my interest in the genres (romance, fantasy, mystery, horror) has sprung. I want to talk to teenagers, misfits like me. I want to share with them the magic and misery of the world. I want to inspire them and remind them that they’re not alone. I want to tell them what I wish I could go back and tell myself at that tumultuous age: Don’t worry so much. Dream as big as you want. Everything’s going to turn out just fine. I want to be their Mr. Stafford.

So how did I get here? This is the question they’re going to ask me now, because I’ve seen enough people ask enough authors. How did you get your first book published? How long did it take you? They ask less out of curiosity and more because they want to follow in the same footsteps. They want Mapquest directions to the magic pill that will make it all happen for them. So here it is–How Alethea Published a Novel in Ten Easy Steps:

Step One: Decide you’re going to be an actress and a writer around the age of eight. Your parents will have kittens, but DO IT ANYWAY. Even if you have to get a chemistry degree to fake them out.

Step Two: Star in a television show before your tenth birthday. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular; a miniseries on ETV will do. (This meant more back when most people had five channels, and PBS was the only one that came in well.) After high school, when you realize you’re not cut out for LA or NY, make a goal of being published by the time you’re 30.

Step Three: Edit a major SF anthology for Tor. (Major anthologies are the second most difficult thing to publish.)

Step Four: Publish a picture book with a major publisher. (Picture books are the first most difficult thing to publish.)

Step Five: Write the encyclopedia for your best friend’s paranormal romance series and hit the New York Times bestseller list. A couple of times.

Step Six: Publish a book of personal essays. Because nothing says SEE? I WAS ALWAYS THIS CRAZY like printing your diary.

Step Seven: Publish a sequel to the picture book. ‘Cause why not?

Step Eight: Get an agent. You’ll need one eventually to do all this work you’re not going to have time to do later.

Step Nine: Start calling yourself “Princess.” If people are going to be calling you names anyway, best to have one already picked out.

Step Ten: SELL THE NOVEL. (Base it on a short story you’ve already sold. It’s like cheating.)

If you follow exactly these ten easy steps, in order, I can guarantee you that in a million years the same thing’s not going to happen to you. (Well, almost guarantee it, because one of you whippersnappers out there will go and prove me wrong now, won’t you? You pesky things.)

Yes, Sunday will be my sixth published book (and if I can sneak another one in before 2012, it’ll be my seventh). But it is the most important book because it is the peak of my journey, the top of the mountain. I can look down from here and see that crazy road I took with its thorns and sinkholes, curving around and crossing back over itself just like Mr. Stafford warned me. Know what else I can see from here? All the other mountains I want to climb and the adventures I want to have in this, the best of all possible worlds. I’ve got my pith helmet and my machete–let’s see where we go from here, shall we?

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Sale: SUNDAY (the novel) to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Here it is, everybody, the big announcement you’ve been waiting for! It’s official: my debut novel SUNDAY has been bought by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for publication!

From Publisher’s Lunch:
NYT bestselling co-author Alethea Kontis’s Young Adult novel debut, SUNDAY, about the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, youngest sister to the other six days of the weeks, who writes stories that may or may not come true, and the enchanted frog/prince who asks her about those stories and may or may not be falling in love with their author, to Reka Simonsen at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency, LLC. (World excluding audio)   dwarren@eastwestliteraryagency.com

Right now, the proposed pub date is 2012…but don’t fret, my chickadees. 2012 is right around the corner. And worry not, for I have many other new and fun things in store for you to whet your appetite until then! I’ll keep you posted!

But in the meantime….PARTAY!!!! WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!

*Princess Happy Dance*

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