Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

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

Title: Fuzzy Nation
Author: John Scalzi
EAN: 9780765328540

Admit it: it’s a strange title. I figured it was about animals (a lot of animals), or a bunch of fetishists, or a country of very hirsute folk. Regardless of the title, I am a pretty big fan of the author (both on and off the page), so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a review copy. When the book arrived, the illustration on the front had a man in a futuristic flight suit sitting with a funny little guy that looked like a cross between an Ewok and a Mogwai (the Gremlins, not the band). I did not look anything up on the internet, nor did I flip the book over and read the back. It was a John Scalzi book, it was SF, and that was all I needed to know… (Read More)


Title: The Uncertain Places
Author: Lisa Goldstein
EAN: 9781616960148

Sometimes there is magic in every day life. It’s there; you just have to find it. Are your eyes open? Are you concentrating? Because once you start to see it, you’ll never stop. Take Lisa Goldstein, for example.

At the beginning of March, I hit a bit of a wall in this fairy tale novel I’m working on. So I decided to do what most red-blooded authors do in this position: more research. I consider myself fairly well-versed in more fairy tales than you can shake a stick at, but I know I haven’t read them all. I needed to go back to the source. I’ve already taken on the project of podcasting all the Grimms’ tales, so I took out a notebook and concentrated on the Lang fairy books (at least, the three volumes that managed to make it out of storage). I plowed through the Crimson Fairy Book and went straight on to the Red Fairy Book .¬†.¬†. (Read More)


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While You’re Listening…

…I’ll add a bit more to your podcasty day.

There’s a great interview on Pendragon Variety on writing and editing and sundries with my good friend Edmund Schubert, writer and editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. I highly recommend it. There are some good things in here. Plus, Edmund has a GREAT speaking voice. Hearing it just made me miss him all over again.

My favorite line: “The extent of my qualifications was that I was willing to give it a try.”

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Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Theatre: Episode 13

Episode 13: “Old Rinkrank” (4:47)

Since I had Kassidy and Ariell with me for Take Your Princess-in-Training to Work Day, they joined me for this particular fairy tale podcast. We had a great time, so they might be joining me for podcasts in the future…watch for it!


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Writers/Princesses In Training

Hello! My name is Ariell Branson, and I’ll be guest blogging here today for the Princess. Because today is take your kid/fairy goddaughter to work day, which basically means that, instead of learning algebra, or say, “physical education” my sister (Kassidy) and I get to learn to be full time writers. Which, takes a lot more work than you might imagine, on today’s agenda we have:

1. Blogging, because sharing is caring.

2. Recording fairy tales for Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Theater, which is fabulous. Be sure to check that out if you haven’t already!

3. Interviewing authors, because we need to know what kind of questions we’ll be asked when we’re famous.

4. Going to Starbucks, because supposedly that’s how professional writers start their day. And because frappuccinos are fabulous.

5. Experimenting with new smoothie recipes, because, if the writing thing fails, it’s always good to have a backup plan.

6. Lastly, we may go to Sherilyn Kenyon’s book signing, to learn how to deal with pushy fans, of course.

So, hopefully your day will also be filled with hard work, “family,” and just a little bit of fairy dust.

(Picture drawn by Natalie Bennett)

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Shopgirls and GodDaughters

For those of you who might have missed it on Twitter or Facebook — yes, I did get a part time job working in a clothing store. I won’t mention which one (mostly since they’re not paying me to advertise on my site), so I’ll just refer to it as “Le Shoppe.” And in it, I am the Shopgirl.

Tonight was my first night on the job, and we were slammed. My boss just threw me right in the deep end. Wasn’t much I could do but paddle around and ask people if they needed help I didn’t know how to give. But I asked anyway. I smiled and laughed and listened to stories and handed guests off to more experienced employees than me. I folded a LOT of clothes. I broke a sweat. I had a good time. And next time, I’ll know a little bit more. Every time will be a little less daunting.

So I got home from work to a dark house — everyone was ready for bed, it seemed — but the Fairy GodDaughters trickled down the stairs while I was making some dinner to tell me about their days. Some good things, some bad things, more bad things, some cleaning, some homework, and some more cleaning (which they’re doing now…at 10:15pm).

And while I was having my leftover taco, I was informed that tomorrow is one of those “Take Your Kid to Work” days. Apparently, here in my Emerald City, it’s totally okay for your kids to skip school, so long as they tag along to a parental unit’s place of employment. And some places of employment have kid-friendly days…it’s a whole big celebratory thing. (Do you guys have this where you live?)

So guess which work the Fairy Goddaughters chose to go to tomorrow?


That’s right, kiddies…I get TWO — count ’em, TWO — personal assistants tomorrow. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I have a LIST. Oh, yes, do I have a list. Of things they can actually do, that I desperately need help with. And we get to do them all before I leave for the retreat on Friday! Huzzah!

As a bonus — and to properly get the “Writing Lifestyle Experience” — I’ve considered inviting them to the Sherrilyn Kenyon booksigning in Arlington at 6pm tomorrow. That way they get the full effect, right? What do you guys think?

Oh…goodie of all goodies!! I can’t WAIT.


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Princesses and Unicorns

Yes, I’m being silly and trying to review/revise and entire manuscript in just a few days so I can send it off to my editor before the WRW retreat this weekend. (More like the Sherrilyn Kenyon signing in Alexandria on Thursday, actually.)

So only a brief blog from me this morning before I shower and get to work.

In the meantime, check out this really cool article about Unicorns and the Unicorn Tapestries over at Fantasy Magazine.

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The bookmarks have arrived and they look GORGEOUS. I only wish I’d ordered more. But this confirms that the other ” story faces” I’ve prepared will be good to go as soon as I can afford them.

*happy dance*

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My Tab Habit

I have a really bad habit.

I use Firefox for my internet browser…and I do this thing where I leave a bunch of tabs open because there are 1.)stories I want to read 2.) things I want to blog about 3.) reference notes I want to make 4.) stories I want to write or venues to submit to…the list goes on. And so do the tabs. It gets to the point where I’m so incredibly, terribly behind that the tabs — like emails festering in my inbox — start to stress me out when I look at them. So I thought I would share my open tabs with you today so that I might take care of #2 on my list…and then get rid of some stress.

Tab 1: This one’s been up for a while, and I’m embarrassed that I just haven’t taken the time to read it. It’s Ted Kosmatka’s story “In Fall” that recently appeared in Lightspeed Magazine. I met Ted through the Codex Writers Group, and I’ve come to really appreciate his writing. Which is why I clicked on the link in the first place. *sigh* Ted, I promise…I’ll read this. Soon. I encourage any of you who aren’t familiar with Ted to go read it now…if only because you’ll have a chance to make me look bad.

Tab 2: Small Press Paper Golem is opening up to submissions next month for their Cucurbital anthology. Stories must include: a watermelon, a turtle, and a sex worker. Obviously, I’m still stewing on those idea seeds.Feel free to join me.

Tab 3: “The Secret Language of the Fan” — The fabulous Suzanne Lazear hosted this on her STEAMED blog back in…oh my god…January. (I promise I discovered it after that.) In it, Victorian costume expert Karlee Etter explains the various ways that the body language of a fan would be interpreted in Victorian society. TELL me you don’t want to use this in a story? Exactly. Brilliant. And tabbed.

Tab 4: Author Maya Lassiter hosted an interview with me on her “Mayaland” blog in a series called “Why Writers Do What They Do.” In it, I discuss why I don’t believe in Writers Block…despite the fact that I’ve had it once and lived to tell the tale. I might have mentioned this on Facebook and/or Twitter, but Mom doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter, so I try to make sure I always stick these very important sorts of things on my blog. Tab.

Tab 5: SF Signal’s “Mind Meld.” Jason Sizemore suggested a Mind Meld topic on Dystopias. Wikipedia defines Dystopia as “an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian” – an idea that if often leveraged in science fiction. So what are some of the best ones to read? A bunch of really cool SF authors answered this question, and I was one of them. (No, my answer was NOT 1984.)

Tab 6: I’m bidding on something on eBay. The auction ends tomorrow. And NO, I’m not going to tell you what this one is, because you might bid against me.

Besides…I know for a fact that you have at least five really cool tabs open on your browser now with stuff you plan on checking out. You’re welcome!



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Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Theatre: Episode 12

Episode 12: “Clever Gretel” (5:22)

If you’re ever in the market for a peaceful servant, never hire a woman wearing red heels.

Watch Princess Alethea’s Rant about this fairy tale here:

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There’s a Washington Romance Writers retreat coming up here at the end of the month (which is only 10 days away…where has this year gone??). Right about this now is when I usually start thinking, “What sort of swag do I have to give out?” If growing up in publishing with Sherrilyn Kenyon has taught me one thing, it’s Always Make Sure You Have Cool Swag.

I’ve been slowly crunching numbers and debating things in preparation for Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow later this year at Dragon*Con (bubbles and t-shirts and free bags of swaggage, oh my!), but at some point the pots need to come to a boil and that needs to start somewhere. The somewhere I chose yesterday was bookmarks.

A couple of years ago, Sherri designed some gorgeous bookmarks for me to promote Beauty & Dynamite. She recommended that I do them through — I got something like 1000 bookmarks for a decent price. 1000 lasts a long time — I still have a bunch I’m giving out to people (I should hope most of you have one by now). I dug the bookmark she made out of my email files and used it as a template to make some new bookmarks.

Since I don’t have any art for SUNDAY yet, I created nine bookmark styles based on the short stories I just put up on Amazon and B&N. One side of the bookmark is images from five of the covers. The other side of the bookmark is an excerpt — typically the first few sentences from the story — and the cover (I’m rather proud of all those covers I designed last week). The it just has my name and website. Doesn’t need more than that, really. On some there is enough room for me to sign the bookmark…on others there’s not, but I’m happy to let the fiction speak for itself.

I went back to egprint and realized that while the cost of the bookmarks  is relatively cheap, they do charge you a buttload on shipping ($14-15). I remembered that one of my online groups had discussed various bookmark and promo item websites recently, so I dug out those emails and made a list. Here are some things that I found that may be useful to you:

1.) “Standard bookmark size” is not always the same. some are 2×6, some are 2×7. At times you will be offered a 2.5 width, but be wary, as some sites count this as “oversized” and charge more. (I had already created my bookmarks on a 2×7 template, so this factored into my choice.)

2.) This may seem like common sense, but it’s cheaper if you have the ability to design the bookmarks yourself. Sites like and came highly recommended, but their price ranges were far too high for my needs.

3.) You have to pay attention to shipping. Some sites won’t even tell you what the shipping is until you’re almost through the checkout process (which is a bit of a scam, I think). From yesterday’s investigation, you will pay anywhere from $10-$15 on shipping 500 bookmarks. Remember, these prices are charged PER BOOKMARK. Had I done all 9 of the bookmark designs at egprint, the shipping would have been $133 — more than half of what 9000 bookmarks cost. Also remember, the sites will probably tack on a sales tax, so you have to consider that in your budget as well.

4.) [thanks to Lex Valentine, for reminding me about this!] When creating your print items, dpi (dots per inch) is very important. The web supports 72 dpi, but for printing you’re going to want something much higher in resolution. Nothing above 360, though, so that’s a good number to set your template to.

Here are the sites I looked at: — 2×7 — 500 = $25.00 — shipping = $14.85
Next Day Flyers — 2.5×7 or 2×6 — 500 = 41.95 — shipping = $12.07
Got Print — 2×8 — 500 = $27.96 — shipping = $9.23 — 2×7 — 500 = $26.27 — shipping = $12.21

Ultimately, you’re going to pay around $40-45 for 500 bookmarks. Since I had already used egprint once before and were satisfied with their product, I chose one version of the bookmark and ordered 1000 for a total of $45.57. If I like how they look when they come in, perhaps I’ll consider periodically ordering more designs so that I can have a full set before Dragon*Con.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

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