“Hello, my name is…”

Everybody gets the story this month—Patrons and blog readers and social media followers alike. Everybody. Because I’m the Princess, and I said so.
Hello, My Name Is…
Katy. Simi. Justin. Ursula. Dallas. Kathryn. Bill. An unconscionable amount of good people have left this world since my birthday in January. Want to know the worst part? I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Literally so many people in my life died in the last month that I lost count. 
I light a lot of candles these days. 
Katy died on my birthday. Bianca had whisked me away to Paradise City con in Miami by the time I got the news, so there was no time to grieve. Quincy Allen was around that weekend to provide bear hugs whenever I needed. I left the booth to cry in the bathroom the few times Leanna texted me, but I didn’t respond to her. I was not ready for that conversation. I did not want to “talk to anyone.” I had work to do. So I did it. 
I needed time to think about what sort of farewell I could write to my Audio Dream Girl. I still can’t manage it. There’s just so much to unpack. So much to process. Too much. And now, several weeks later, we’re four or five deaths down the line. 
I feel this way in my career sometimes. The to-do list becomes overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. Logic dictates that I begin with the first item on the list. But that’s not always the thing “speaks to me,” as Sherri Kenyon is so fond of saying. 
Bianca and I were at Orlando Toy & Comic Con when Kathryn went into the hospital. That con only lasted one day, so I was home when she didn’t make it through the second round of surgery. I had time to pray for Kathryn. I had time to grieve. I had time to cry, and scream at the world, and cry again. I cried a lot.
I cried so hard that Tempest came in the room and just hugged me for a while. I told her how mad I was…and how I didn’t feel like I even had the right to be weeping over Kathryn, since I hadn’t had the time to properly grieve for Katy yet. 
Alethea,” she said to me in that no-nonsense Tempest tone of hers. “That’s not how grief works.”
She was right, of course. I so desperately wanted to apply logic to this whole situation. But Feelings took Logic and laughed maniacally while tossing it out the window. 
But that’s me in a nutshell, isn’t it? The perfect fictional offspring of Mr. Spock and Deanna Troi. Though lately I’ve been wondering if I’m going to evolve into the Mad Hatter instead. Maybe I already have.
I don’t know what to say about Kathryn yet either—as Leanna pointed out this morning, we’ll probably have to wait for Dragon Con for those words and feelings to make themselves known to both of us. Kathryn’s spirit will be with us in the Green Room, no doubt about that. 
But Bill…I do have a story about Bill. A funny story. A story that pertains to writing. So everybody gets the story this month—Patrons and blog readers and social media followers—EVERYBODY. And to hell with logic. Because I said so. 
AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First released in the summer of 2006. My very first “appearance” was an official Author Event at Ingram. I’d been an Ingram Book Buyer for six years at that point, and I had attended every Author Event. Every single one. Being able to meet bestselling and debut authors from all walks of life, each at varying stages in their careers—it was the publishing education I never had. 
I also made a lot of friends at Ingram in those six years. I was known far and wide for the Happy Holidays mix-CD I made every December and inter-officed to just about everyone in the company. I learned that the more friends one had at a giant corporation like Ingram, the faster one could get things done. 
So I made a lot of friends. And I did a lot of things. It was incredible amounts of fun. I was the Miss Congeniality of Bookville. 
One of those friends was Susan, the woman in charge of Author Events. The day before my AlphaOops appearance, we had a very important conversation. 
“Susan,” I said. “I need you on Post-its.”
Post-its are a very important thing at Author Events. After the author gives his or her talk, the audience lines up to get their books signed. (Everyone in the audience at Ingram receives a signed book.) One person stands ahead of the signing table, armed with a pad of Post-its. They ask, “Who would you like the book signed to?” They write the name down, spell it properly, and stick it opposite the title page.
In elementary school I was known as “The girl who stars in every play and that PBS show on TV.” People often know my name, but I don’t always know theirs. It’s the down side of a reputation that precedes you.
There were going to be a bunch of people at this Author Event who knew me, but whose names I didn’t know, or who I blanked out on in the heat of OMGBOOKSIGNING. (To this day, I still ask my best friends how to spell their names when signing their books.) I had nightmares of scores of people saying, “Just sign this to me,” as I sat there with zero clue as to who they were. I knew it was going to happen. I just KNEW. So I tried to prepare myself the best way possible: with Susan. 
“I’m on it,” she said.
I had one of most well-attended Author Events in Ingram history. Bigger than Johnnie Cochran. Bigger than Dave Ramsey. Bigger than Al and Tipper Gore. There was standing room only, and people out the door. I told the story of AlphaOops, how it came to be, and how the title was originally The Telaphab from Z to A
“My poor mom and I made so many beaded bracelets with the word ‘TELAPHAB’ on them,” I lamented, and about fifteen people across the auditorium raised their hands. 
They were all wearing TELAPHAB bracelets. 
I was so touched, I almost cried. But I didn’t, because I had work to do. After the round of thunderous applause I walked over to the signing table, already piled high with books. Susan stood at the ready, armed with Post-its and a smile, and we made that signing happen. I signed over a hundred and fifty books that afternoon, and I spelled everyone’s name correctly. 
Later that day, flush with triumph and riding high on the wave of a job well done, I grinned as one of the artists from the ad department stopped by my desk. 
“Hey,” he said. “I couldn’t make it to your event earlier, but I had someone snag me a book. Could you sign it for me?”
“Of course!” I said chipperly, taking out my signing pens. But inside I was freaking out. Because I had no clue what this guy’s name was. 
Book Buyers had no business in the ad department, and the artists almost never left their magical, dimly-lit caves lined with twinkle lights. I recognized him, of course—he was the tall, handsome, really nice one. But what was his name?? I tried to remember where we might’ve met, or at what company function I had seen him last. Nothing. Nothing
“To whom shall I sign it?” If I was really lucky, the book would be for his daughter or something. 
And then those dreaded words left his mouth. “Oh, just to me is fine.”
I opened the book and uncapped a marker. My hand hovered over the page as if I were trying to conjure the perfect inscription. What went through my mind instead was actually a lot of cursing, followed by HOW THE HECK DO I GET OUT OF THIS???
I couldn’t sign this man’s book. I couldn’t. I was just going to have to own up to my ignorance. 
“How do you spell that again?” I asked sheepishly. 
“Bill,” he said. “B-I-L-L.”
Yup. Bill. 
Oh my god, I freaking knew that. I mean, I didn’t know, but I knew. And now I was just embarrassed. I felt my cheeks flush all over again as I bent over to sign the page. 
“Well, hey, Bil Keane only has one L,” I blurted awkwardly. 
Bill Elliott was an artist. He’d know exactly who Bil Keane was. Score one for the nerd girl who read everything she could get her hands on: every single TV guide article, cereal box, and newspaper comic strip—including The Family Circus
I didn’t have a lot of interactions with Bill after that, but I never forgot him after that day. I made sure he got a Happy Holiday CD every year, and every year I was the recipient of one of his original Christmas cards, even after I left the company. 
When Bill was sent home to rest, before the cancer snapped back with a vengeance that surprised even his doctors, Bill drew a new card to thank all of his friends and family for the support they had shown him during his illness. 
IMG_7060The last card. 
But Bill’s message of thanks is universal—it’s what I would say to all of you—my friends, my family—who have supported my artistic endeavors in the past and who continue to support me still. 
Thank you for being one of my reasons to smile. Your compassion and generosity continue to touch my heart in ways I cannot put into words. May your life always be filled with love, laughter, and peace. 
I love you all—every single one of you—right down the the bottom of my illogical, overly-emotional, crazy-filled, tea-drinking heart. 
I will be writing a follow-up essay for my Royal Scholars (after I stop crying) that includes some tips on how to deal with the “Just make it out to me” situation, from both sides of the signing table. If you are not yet a Patron of the Wonderful World of Princess Alethea, I highly encourage you to come join the fun!
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My Coastal Magic 2018 Schedule

cmccTHIS THURSDAY kicks off the weekend we’ve been waiting for all winter long–Coastal Magic Con in Daytona Beach, FL! Dance parties, fun and games, and the opportunity to hang out with some of my closest writer friends ON THE BEACH!

Here’s my schedule for the weekend. (Between panels, you can find me at Leanna Renee Hieber’s vendor table.)


Thursday, Feb 22

4:30-6:30pm — Welcome Mingle

Friday, Feb 23

11:30am — Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow (feat. Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi, Eric Asher, Deborah Blake, and Piper J. Drake)

4:00pm — Paranormal Author Meet & Greet (w/Leanna Renee Heiber & Mari Mancusi)

Saturday, Feb 24

9:00am — Hear, Here! (Audiobooks)

11:30am — Kids Just Wanna Have Fun (Shenanigans and Substance in YA)

12:30pm — Lunch with an Author

4:00-6:00pm — Pubic Book Sale / Signing (The Shores Resort & Spa Daytona Beach, FL)


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In Which Professor Blake Posts My Homework Assignment on the Internet

threeIt’s true: Professor Theodosia Blake, Head Witch of Harmswood Academy in my Nocturne Falls Universe series, was named after my dear friend Deborah Blake.

Deborah is a witchy professor in her own right–she’s written multiple books for Llewellyn on the subject. She also penned a fantastic series based around the mythology of the legendary witch Baba Yaga.

In fact, I first met (read: fell in love with) Deborah when we sat next to each other on a panel at Coastal Magic and she began talking about her series. I thought to myself, 1.) She absolutely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to fairy tales 2.) I need to get this series and 3.) I bet we’d be friends.

Turns out, she was thinking much the same thing! Oh, yeah. KINDRED SPIRITS.

Deborah is going to be part of the cast of Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow when it makes its debut at Coastal Magic this year, so Deborah and I were having an email chat. At which point she asked me if I would like to be a guest on her blog.

“Sure!” I said, because Besphinxed was coming out–it’s the witchiest of all my Nocturne Falls Universe books so far, so it felt entirely appropriate.

“Great!” she said. “Write me 500 words on the nuances of retelling fairy tales from different points of view and have it on my desk by Monday.”

So I did. You can read it HERE.

Yeah, I know…I’ve always been a teacher’s pet. What can I say? I LIKED SCHOOL.

Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content!

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Princess MOI, Down & Dirty on Happy Ever After!


It’s been too long since I joined forces with my dear friend Joyce Lamb at USA Today’s Happy Ever After. So when she asked a bunch of us to contribute to the HEA Valentine’s Day Feature Post, our subsequent emails led to  Joyce saying, “You’ve got a new book coming out? Well, let’s get Down & Dirty!”

TODAY (because we waste no time around these parts), my Down & Dirty interview is live on the HEA site.

This was one of those really fun interviews to do. Not because the answers lent themselves to being so short, but because thinking about them at all made for a really fun time. And as someone who has been on the asking end of as least as many interview questions I’ve answered, I can tell you that an interview where the subject has FUN is one that is definitely worth reading.

Here’s hoping that my Down & Dirty answers are a bright spot to your day today!



Simi Lee

Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content!

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Me and My STARs Featured in Hometown News!

STAR Hometown News clipping It’s always a blast to find yourself in the local paper. Even more interesting is the perspective.

What you see here is a bunch of fun-loving romance writers whooping it up in the Great Outdoors. What I see is the Mikey Mason t-shirt I wore in honor of Mikey making some Grand Proclamation that morning to his Patreon followers…and the heart that Amy gave me after taking this photo, the one I wrote Kathryn‘s name on days later when she was going through her complicated heart surgery. I prayed she was going to make it. She did not. But I will light my candles and smile for her anyway, and dance and sing with my writing friends, because that’s exactly what she would have wanted.

The STARs were my first friends in Florida (apart from Bianca, who kidnapped me immediately and claimed me for her own BFF.) They remain some of my dearest friends to this day. THEY GET ME. It is so important to have people in your life who get you.

As I say in this article: “When I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone. The members of STAR instantly welcomed me and understood how important my career was to me. We brainstorm, share trials and errors, tips and tricks, and support one another as often as we can.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, my Best Beloveds!

Read the full article HERE.

Find out more about the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance HERE.

STAR Valentines Day Hometown News 2018

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There’s Still Time to Help Me Get a Car

Alethea car photoI haven’t had a car for almost two years now. I’m working hard to make this happen, but it’s been a slow process. Tempest helped me set up a site on YouCaring for my Birthday that we called the Birthday Car Fundapalooza, where folks could help pitch in, if they so desired. We made it up to about $1200, but realistically I need to get to $3000 to make this whole business a reality.

And there’s always Patreon — subscribe to the Wonderful World of Princess Alethea and get a certificate proclaiming you a member of the Royal Court of Arilland, a smile in your email every Monday, a random goodie in your mailbox every once in a while, the chance to enter to win mystery prizes, and–depending on your support level–get access to exclusive content!

Sarah and I have made it our goal to get the monthly pledges on my Patreon page up to $1000 before the end of the year. We’re going to be putting out a LOT of fun content this year.

Want in on the fun? CLICK HERE. We’d love to have you join the club!


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A List of Some Awesome Authors on Patreon

_ Believe in Magic _It seems Patreon was on everyone’s brain the other night. While I was at Orlando Book Festival, a few budding authors asked me how to launch a Patreon campaign–I recommended they first Follow a few established authors already there. It’s good to see what variety of content is being created for Patrons right now…because there are some really talented authors out there doing a plethora of really amazing things.

So yesterday I asked my author friends on Facebook to link to their Patreon pages — which was AMAZING, because it seems I have friends on Patreon that I didn’t even know were out there! Like most of y’all, I don’t have the money right now to support every single one, but you can bet I’m going to Follow them and keep on top of what they’re doing. BECAUSE FOLLOWING IS FREE. I highly recommend it!

And then–in a completely unrelated conversation–Mikki Kendall Tweeted this Extremely Important Thing about artists (edited for blog):

Folks get mad about creators “selling out” but don’t seem to understand that most are poor or just barely above the poverty line. There comes a point where you can’t have a day job & make the transition successfully to being a full time creative without sacrifice.

Patreon & Paypal took a lot of pressure off for me. I don’t have to chase checks because I can just write now. I could use more money. We could all use more money I’m sure, but man…that’s so many hours back from pitching & nagging outlets to pay me. I’m way more productive. And I am writing more fiction (better fiction tbh) as well as longform nonfiction.

Because money stress kills creativity. Just so you know. 

I feel bad that more people aren’t getting their work supported so I retweet people’s book posts & Patreons etc. Because I know poverty. I want people to be able to eat & see a doctor & have decent housing.

If you can’t afford to contribute? That’s fine. RT & post it on FB. Do that for whatever stuff moves you. Seriously that does a lot. Matter of fact, reply to this tweet with your Patreons & Paypals & GoFundMe’s etc & I’ll retweet you. Go on.

…and she did. If you want to see an AMAZING collection of artists creating EVERYTHING and making the world a more magnificent place with every breath they take, click here and just skim down Mikki’s Twitter feed. The links are still coming!

But here, for posterity, I will list a bunch of my own friends, and friends-of-friends, and heroes-of-friends who are authors on Patreon. Most of these are science fiction, fantasy, romance, or horror. Some will just plain-old write for money, but many offer additional perks, like writing tips and advice. There are also authors who do art and cosplay, record podcasts, give sneak peeks, and release original videos!

CHECK US OUT, YO. Follow us, support us…invite a little magic into your life!


Alethea Kontis is creating a Wonderful World of Writing and Costuming

Lisa Mantchev is creating An Overabundance of Nonsense

K Tempest Bradford is creating Steampunk Novels Set In Ancient Egypt

Mikki Kendall AKA Karnythia is creating new worlds to escape to via original fiction

John G. Hartness is creating Fiction

CE Murphy is creating short stories
Juliette Wade is creating the Dive into Worldbuilding Show and Workshop
Laura Anne Gilman is creating Fiction
Tobias S. Buckell is creating Fiction
Gareth L. Powell is creating fiction
Saladin Ahmed is creating stories
N. K. Jemisin is creating Fiction
Emmie Mears is creating Science Fiction and Fantasy Universes
Scott Edelman is creating the Eating the Fantastic podcast
Ari Marmell is creating fantasy fiction
Chaz Brenchley is creating Fiction
Tracy Clark is creating Books, Blogs, and Transformational-Life-Courses with Team TLC
Gwenda Bond is creating stories and sharing the process. Welcome to HQ.
Simon Haynes (Hal Spacejock) is creating Novels
Tim Pratt is creating Short stories
Nick Rowan/Angelia Sparrow is creating writing, lovely bits of yarn and more writing
Adam P Knave is creating story of all sorts (comics, prose, and more)
Sephera Giron is creating stories, videos, and blogs.
Rich Larson is creating Speculative Fiction
John C Wright is creating LOST ON THE LAST CONTINENT, a high flown pulp adventure serial
Sue London is creating Books
James A. Owen is creating Words and Pictures
Patricia Loofbourrow is creating the city of Bridges
Matthew Sanborn Smith is creating fiction and podcasts
M. Darusha Wehm is creating books, stories and a cyborg revolution*
Valerie Ford is creating Writing

Don’t see an author on this list? Leave a link in the comments!

Want to link to someone who is an artist or a musician? I’ll make separate posts for those soon!




Everythinghas astory.


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Living in the Future, the Right Way

On Saturday, I woke up sad. I’d had a lovely time at the beach with old friends the day before, but for some reason (which I now blame on ragweed) Saturday morning brought with it a weepy sort of melancholy.

By Saturday night, my heart was full again. I was reminded what an amazing life I lead. And I didn’t even have to leave my house.

Sometime on Saturday afternoon, Jonah Knight emailed me to remind me of something I’d promised him a while back: that for two weeks I’d be sponsoring his new Twitch site, where he is now streaming live performances.

For those who might not remember, Jonah and I met at a Mysticon (Roanoke, VA) back around 2013. We had a mutual friend whose work we admired: James Maxey. In particular, James’s fabulous superhero classic Nobody Gets the Girl. I loved it so much, my blurb is still on the cover. Jonah loved it so much, he wrote a soundtrack for it.

So yeah…we were pretty much destined to be friends. He invited me to be a guest on his podcast. I saw him perform at a bunch of cons. And then he moved to California. BOO.

Of course, with all I’ve had going on this year, I’d totally forgotten about the promise I made him. (Surprise!) I immediately dropped everything, put my ducks in a row, got Jonah’s link, signed up on Twitch, and followed Jonah’s profile.

I also shared his most recent Facebook post, where he announced that he’d be performing a livestream event THAT VERY NIGHT. How fortuitous! I still had so much on my to-do list, but I could stand to do it all while watching/listening to one of my favorite people perform live, right? Why not?

So I tidied up a bit and lurked silently in the chatroom while Jonah warmed up. He already had visitors from Spain and New Zealand online. And he’s in California. And I’m in Florida. Instant global party!

I also worked on my art homework — Bianca has taken to giving me assignments, which I’m totally cool with. She told me to stop working on butterflies for a while and do something different like…chalkboard art! White pencil on black construction paper. Write some quotes in fancy handwriting. Doodle some things. But what was I going to draw?

Well…Jonah was right there, so I let him be my inspiration. I started writing down my favorite lines from his songs. I doodled rocket ships and robots and steampunk gears and stars. And it was wonderful.

I didn’t jump in on the chat until he mentioned my name…and then we interacted in that 21st century way kids do — I spoke via chat, and he answered on the video. He even played “King of Nebraska” as the finale, which totally made my night. I danced around my kitchen and sang along with gusto.

Sometime in the middle of all that, it occurred to me to be present…to look at my life from an outside perspective and appreciate it for what it was. I started off having a crummy day, and ended it with a private home concert, during which the performer talked DIRECTLY TO ME and played me a song.

Even better? The video from that night is up on Twitch, so any of us can pull it up and watch it again. Be sure to follow Jonah — hang out with us for the next couple of weeks and win some things!

The world we live in right now is AMAZING. It’s a world in which Willie Wonka would have had a ball. We can have just about whatever life we choose, with a little bit of effort.

The magic is there. We just have to find it.


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Choreographing the BEST SURPRISE EVER

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!

Click here to find out!

Congrats, Princess Allie!!! We love you! xox

WPA 5-30-16

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The Unbreakable Princess Alethea

(I should totally have my own television show with this title. Right? Netflix, call me.)


Nebulas PostcardNobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Nor does one expect, after months of carefully planning two simultaneous conferences (BEA and the SFWA Nebula Awards weekend), a spectacularly sprained ankle.

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.

BEA 2016A 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!)

The Lucky Star and the Superstar

Alethea and Katy, Lucky Star and Superstar

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.”

Kate Winning

Kate, on winning

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.

The Princess and the Tour Guide

Princess Alethea and Sir Adam Selzer

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.

Commander Stardust

Radio SFWA!

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.

Dead dogs Terra and Derek

Dead dogs Terra and Derek

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!





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