RSS

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.

Yeah.

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!

 

 

#SFWAPro

 

4 Comments | Tags:

My DragonCon 2015 Schedule

Princess Alethea -- DragonCon 2011The con is still two weeks out, so this is subject to change, but here’s what I’ve got right now. Also, not 100% sure I’m walking in the parade yet. Will update everyone when I know for sure.

[Edit: YES I WILL BE WALKING IN THE PARADE. 10am Saturday — look for me with the Dark-Hunters! Xox]

——————-

Title: Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow
Description: Readings, music, & more from a motley band of costumed authors, plus swag!
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Gray Rinehart, Lisa Mantchev, Delilah S. Dawson, Zac Brewer, D.B. Jackson)

——————-
Title: Reading: Alethea Kontis
Time: Sat 01:00 pm Location: Marietta – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis)

——————-
Title: Autograph Session
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: International Hall South – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Sherrilyn Kenyon)

——————-
Title: The Source: Folklore & Mythology in UF
Description: Urban fantasy is rooted in age-old myth, legend, and folklore. Authors discuss influences.
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Chastain ED – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Jean Marie Ward, Jonathan Maberry, Valerie Hampton, Samantha Sommersby)

——————-
Title: An Hour with Sherrilyn Kenyon
Description: The bestselling author of Darkhunter and Chronicles of Nick series answers your questions.
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Augusta Ballroom – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis)

No Comments | Tags: , ,

Princess Alethea’s 7 Dragon Con Survival Tips

My Family Reunion has a logo. Does yours?There are many Rules of DragonCon that those of us who are perennials have adopted over the years. Most of them revolve around elevators (You have to go down to go up. Always make room for the handicapped. Always follow a Ghostbuster) or walkways (Don’t take photos in the walkways. Avoid the habitrails on Saturday night). But more of these have been silently adopted simply for our personal survival.

Here are my top seven (with bonus Pro Tips) – please feel free to add more in the comments!

1.) Plan out your wardrobe, including day-to-day costume/outfit changes. This is a hard-core necessity for the heavy cosplayer, but I highly recommend it even if your choices include what geeky t-shirt to wear on what day. Parade outfits become gross and are typically one-use only. If you’re planning to wear a corset most of the time, also plan a down-time outfit so that you can at least eat or drink one meal comfortably at the end of the day. (The same goes for your shoes!) This plan helps when you’re packing, sure, but in the chaos of the con, something as simple as knowing what you’re going be wearing on each day is a HUGE help.

2.) STAY HYDRATED. You will hear this a lot during the con, because it never stops being true. If you can, buy a flat of water for your room. Carry a bottle with you at all times, and when you finish it, REFILL IT. There are giant water dispensers outside most of the panel rooms, and there are always water fountains outside the bathrooms.

Parade (Dark-Hunters) 2014Pro Tip: Play the Dragon Con Drinking Game. When someone you’re with asks you if you need anything, have them get you some water. If you already have water, TAKE A DRINK (of water, guys, come on). Your friends will notice that you are fading before you do.

3.) Eat something. It’s up to you to know your personal food tolerances. It’s fine if you want to let go and eat overpriced heatlamp stuff from hotel food carts all weekend – at the very least, take a multivitamin every day, willya? My three big trouble areas are 1.) I’m always on the go 2.) I’m usually wearing a corset and 3.) I’m prone to migraines.

My saving graces are protein bars (no less than 10g protein per bar). I pack a variety—especially the Kind bars w/protein. I’m usually so busy I don’t take more than a few bites. But every time someone I’m with asks me if I need anything (See: “Dragon Con Drinking Game”, above), I take a couple of bites (and a swig of water). This way my blood sugar stays up without crashing, and I stay comfortable in my corset. (For about 12 hours anyway.)

Pro Tip: Keep some sort of food on your person at all times – if not for you, then maybe for the person beside you about to go into diabetic shock. I literally had this happen in front of me a couple years ago, and it scared me to death. NEVER AGAIN.

4.) Shower at night. I always take my shower before I go to bed, even if it’s 4am. It can be a struggle, but the mental decompression is SO worth it (as is waking up clean and ready for that next costume and makeup). I also make sure to have a variety of herbal teas on hand in my room (with honey, for when the voice starts to go) to help me calm down and get to sleep.

If you’re like me, you burn like a firework for four days straight – taking a sleeping pill in the middle of all that would absolutely throw me off. Late showers, herbal teas, and aromatherapy are some nice natural ways to come down off that high long enough to catch a few healthy zzzzzs.

No one remembers the Anarchy Cheerleader...5.) Diaper rash cream is your friend. There it is, my dark and dirty secret! Look, folks, Atlanta is HOT in September. You will sweat in places you have never sweat before (especially if you walk in the parade). You will chafe. You may experience heat rash. Happily, there’s help for that! Put some diaper rash cream over your problem areas after you take that shower. Reapply before putting on your costume for the day. YOU WILL THANK ME.

Pro Tip: If you have sensitive skin, check the ingredients on a variety of diaper rash creams. I am allergic to aloe, so I can not use Desitin…but I can use the high powered generic Wal-Mart brand, which is mostly just zinc.

6.) Icy Hot/Tiger Balm is your friend. Feels great on sore muscles and sore feet. (Just don’t put this on directly after that shower unless you really want to feel the burn.) An ace bandage or two is also handy to have, to secure cold towels or ice packs to sore feet. Which reminds me:

7.) Bring a First Aid kit. Include the basics: Headache medicine, multivitamins, Benadryl, band-aids. An ace bandage or two can be a great help. A safety pin can be a life saver. In fact, throw the whole mini-sewing kit in there. And a few temporary tattoos. Because when that giant mysterious bruise of unknown origin appears before your panel with Stan Lee, a temporary tattoo makes a GREAT coverup. If you have roommates, earplugs and an eyemask can also be lifesavers. As will a travel bottle of Febreeze.

There are a bunch of smaller ones that, again, come down to personal preference – bringing bath towels and bath soaps from home, buying all your liquor before you get there, what types of insoles to put in your shoes and even how (and how long) to wear wigs and “travel hair.”

Your turn. What else can I add to this list?

*************

Alethea Kontis is the author of the AlphaOops picture books, Sherirlyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and the award-winning Books of Arilland fairytale series. She is the host of the all-star Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at DragonCon. 

8 Comments | Tags: , , ,

My 2014 Dragon Con Schedule

2014 DragonCon App CodeHey there, everybody! Are you ready for Dragon Con 2014?

Here’s my schedule for the weekend (be sure to download the DC App — here’s the QR code for you!). You may notice my distinct lack of autographing times here…but DO NOT WORRY.

Sherrilyn Kenyon also does not have any officially scheduled autographings — that’s because we will both be signing books at her booth in the Exhibitor Hall at various times throughout the weekend. I will also be signing books at the TAIREN’S LAIR booth, and I hope to also have books with me at the SON OF NO ONE book launch on Thursday night.

I will absolutely be signing books all through Dragon Con! The best way to keep up with me–as always–is to follow me on Twitter: @aletheakontis

Hope to see you there! We’re going to have a blast! xox

——————-
Title: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s SON OF NO ONE Book Launch Party
Description: Join fellow Dark-Hunter fans in celebration of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s new book, SON OF NO ONE — (music provided by DJ)
Time: Thurs 08:30pm Location: Sheraton Grand Ballroom A-F (Length: 3 hours…at least)
Moderator / MC for party

——————-
Title: Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow
Description: A motley band of talented (and costumed) authors offers an entertaining hour of readings, musical numbers, and more.
Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: A707 – Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Gray Rinehart, E. C. Myers, Delilah S. Dawson, Mari Mancusi, Diana Peterfreund)

——————-
Title: Folklore & Mythology in UF
Description: Our panel of authors discusses how they employ folklore and/or mythology in their work.
Time: Sat 01:00 pm Location: Chastain ED – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, Alethea Kontis, Samantha Sommersby, Jeanne C. Stein, Faith Hunter, Suzanne Church)

——————-
Title: Reading: Alethea Kontis
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Edgewood – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis)

——————-
Title: An Hour with Sherrilyn Kenyon
Description: Audience Q&A with the bestselling author of the Dark Hunter, Chronicles of Nick, The League, and Belador series
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Augusta Ballroom – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis)

——————-
Title: Packing a Powerful Punch: YA Urban Fantasy
Description: Authors discuss why Young Adult Urban Fantasy can have just as much visceral and emotional impact as that written for adults.
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: Chastain ED – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Delilah S. Dawson, A. J. Hartley, Mari Mancusi, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, Diana Peterfreund)

No Comments | Tags: ,

Alethea’s BEA 2014 Schedule

Signing at FaerieCon East 2013For those friends attending BEA — here’s where I’ll be:

May 29-June 1
BEA
New York, NY
* Thursday May 29, 11am signing at SFWA Booth
* Thursday May 29, 7pm Audie Awards
* Friday May 30, 2pm signing at SFWA booth
* Saturday May 31 10am signing at RWA Booth

*******************

So far, for side activities I also plan to attend the BAEN party on Friday night, and Lady Jane’s Salon on Monday evening (I’m not performing, just attending).

Also, it looks like I will be signing HARDCOVER COPIES OF HERO during all of these signings. My publisher made it sound like there won’t be enough (or any?) DEAREST ARCs available…but last year I signed about four boxes of HERO ARCs for five hours that weren’t supposed to be there either. So you never know. I won’t hold my breath, and just hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Hope to see you there!

No Comments | Tags: , ,

Princess of Niagara, Part Deux

…and then there was this.
Breathtaking.

Brethtaking Rainbow, Niagara Falls

No Comments | Tags: , , , ,

Princess of Niagara

My favorite photo of the trip so far, I think. Capturing this brief moment made me impossibly happy.

The Niagara Falls Rainbow

1 Comment | Tags: , , ,

AK April Appearances

Hello, everybody!

I’m trying to squeeze everything in before I hie myself back to Florida at the beginning of May…so if you can make it to any of these VA/MD appearances, I would *love* to see you!

14 — WBN reception, Cascades Library, 7pm
16 — WBN reception, One More Page Books, 7pm
17 — Maryland Romance Writers meeting (special guest Kimberly Kincaid!)
22 — World Book Night USA event, Gum Springs Library, 7pm

Beyond that, it’s Teen Book Festival in May (more hugs for Jordan!) and BEA…and then not a peep from me until RWA Nationals! xox

No Comments | Tags:

Give the Gift of Reading

Hero, October 1, 2013Would you like a book personalized & signed by Alethea? Contact One More Page Books in Arlington at 703-300-9746 or via email to place your order.

Online affiliate links for Alethea’s books can be found HERE.

No Comments | Tags: , ,

Young Author Workshops in 2014

Hello, everyone!

Here’s something for you to pass on to local young people who might be interested — classes will be limited to around 20, so be sure to sign up fast!

I will be doing four writing workshops at the Rust Library here in Loudoun County (Leesburg), FOR TEENS ONLY!
Here is the schedule:

Wednesday January 22, 7-8pm
Session 1: What makes a story? How to wrangle your ideas, formulate your plot, and tell a story from beginning to end.

Wednesday January 29, 7-8pm
Session 2: Finish what you start! You have a great beginning, but this could go on forever. Where do you stop? And how?

Wednesday February 5, 7-8pm
Session 3: Get yourself out there! Formatting manuscripts, proper submission etiquette, and how to find the short story market that’s right for you.

Wednesday February 12, 7-8pm
Session 4: But…I’m AWESOME! Dealing with rejection. Dealing with edits and critiques. Discussing the business of publishing.

6 Comments | Tags: , , ,