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Lunch Money @ CCPL

If you have children and don’t know about the band Lunch Money, you should really get on that.

Here’s a video I took of Lunch Money performing “Going to the Library” at the Charleston Public Library on May 30th. It was so awesome to finally see them play LIVE!!

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Chip In for Gas!

I love this day and age when you can wish for something AND IT ALREADY EXISTS.

Why, just the other day, I was wishing there was a place like Kickstarter where I could set up a page and ask my friends if they’d like to help chip in for gas money on my Book Tour this summer.

Not half an hour later, I had my very own CHIP IN page, and $110 already in my gas fund. (THANK YOU, MY DEAREST FRIENDS!)

I estimate that gas will be about $500 for the trip. If this fund goes over $500, I will use the money to buy EVEN MORE SWAG to give away at my booksignings.

Soteria has also sweetened the pot this morning — anyone who Chips In a bit of cash — even if it’s only a couple of bucks — will be entered to win an original necklace from Dixie Dunbar Studio.

So what are you waiting for? Throw a few bucks in the tip jar. And I’LL SEE YOU THIS SUMMER!!

xox

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope all of my sweetheart friends are having a lovely day today! Did you receive a treat from someone you loved today? Have you treated yourself? Well…for goodness sakes, why not?

Stop over at Dixie Dunbar Studio right now and get yourself something special. For one week only the rest of the month (thank you, Soteria!), use coupon code XOXO to receive 20% off your purchase!

And if you happen to be in Charleston, SC this week, do stop by 192 King Street on Thursday night for a glass of wine to celebrate Soteria and Anne’s post-Valentine’s Day bash!

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The Greatiest Fight of All

I mentioned this story in my RIP message to Whitney Houston on Facebook this morning, and it’s been requested that I expound a bit and tell the whole thing. So here it is: the story of the most infamous, recorded Kontis Sister fight of all time.

Once upon a time when there was no call waiting, only five television stations, and no way to record a show (we called it “The 80s”), one of the most wonderful gifts a child could receive was a cassette player. Even better: a RED one that could play the radio and had DUAL CASSETTE RECORDERS so that one could make one’s very own mixed tapes! Soteria and I received matching cherry red boomboxes one Christmas. That was a good Christmas.

I was a child born to podcast. Some children don’t like the sound of their own voice, but never me. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom and record inspirational messages, urging people to love one another. When I got older, I recorded myself singing. Who didn’t? And on the rare occasion, when we weren’t choreographing dance routines to “Lean on Me” or “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Soteria and I would sing together.

I don’t remember what prompted us to record a duet of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” except that it was one of those songs every little girl loved because she could belt it out at the top of her lungs like “Tomorrow” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It would have been 1986 or so, which would have made me 10 and Soteria  about 8.

The tape recording–which I do hope isn’t lost forever, but I only have a few cassettes left, and little time to sift through them all–started with the two of us singing the song together, pouring every bit of our young hearts and souls into the words…and then Soteria screwed up the lyrics. Being the perfectionist that I was, I argued with Soteria about this. Being the little sister that she was, she argued back. Then followed a resounding SLAP on the recording, and my footsteps as I petulantly stormed out of the room.

There was silence on the tape, and Soteria’s soft sobbing. Then she took a breath and, in wavering, tear-filled tones, finished the song in a solo. “The graaaay-tee-est love of all,” she sang, “is happening to me. I’ve found the graaaaay-tee-est love of all”–sniff–“inside of me.”

Ah, the Kontis Sisters, for whom the term “melodramatic” was never quite enough.

I maintain, if we’d had YouTube back then, we’d be stars right now. Then again, I suppose we still could be…

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1986 Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Della’s going to kill me for this one. 🙂

Merry Christmas!!

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Once Upon a Christmas

I have saved almost everything I’ve ever written. Fiction, I mean, or poetry, or essays for school, for pleasure, and everything in between. I have several drafts of some things. A lot of it is dated. Much of it is not.

I can’t tell you the exact date I wrote “The Sands of Mother Christmas,” but the age of fifteen sticks in my mind. It was May, so that would have made it the end of my sophomore year. I was also pissed at my mother.

Like the date, I don’t remember why I was pissed, just that I was so incredibly enraged that I picked up a black pen and started frantically scribbling this story in a notebook, not stopping to think, just scratching words out and drawing arrows and writing in the margins and moving along. In many ways, this story was the first I ever wrote completely driven by passion. Some days, I wonder where that passion has gone.

I’m also not sure why anger fueled me to write a story so incredibly sweet and pure about two people whose friendship made the world a better place. It was May in the middle of South Carolina. Perhaps peace of mind at the time was as desirable to me as a small, happy town covered in snow.

I did not share the story with anyone at the time. Instead, I typed it all out on our computer (a Leading Edge, as opposed to my mother’s beloved IBM electric typewriter) and waited until Christmas.

It was rare, but sometimes I could be very patient. This was one of those times.

Christmas Eve was always spent next door at the Ordoyne house. Ora and Dale had (and still have) two children–Devin & Megan–that were a little younger than my sister and me, but close enough in age that we ran thick as thieves the entire time we lived there. If there ever was such a thing as a Greek-Cajun background, we had it, and came by it honestly.

The tradition for Christmas Eve was to have fried oyster Po Boys, followed by the adults playing BourrĂ© (boo-ray) or some other card game. We kids would go off and play…which, with our dramatic background, meant we rehearsed an impromptu Christmas pageant.

I don’t remember every song we sang or dance we did or skit we performed in those years, but it was always fun for us, and an amusing treat for the adults. That year I was fifteen, it was a special year. I pulled out my typed pages of “The Sands of Mother Christmas” and read them out loud to a silent room.

By the time I finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Everyone at the Ordoyne house that night remembers that Christmas, and that story. Over the years I’ve tried to revisit it and “update” it…but it just doesn’t sound the same. Anything I try to add just seems to distract from the message of the story.

My friend Gail–the one who submitted AlphaOops for me without me knowing–said that she loved “The Sands of Mother Christmas” even more than the AlphaOops story. We submitted the story to my publisher, but they passed, saying that it was too “Feminist New-Agey.”

Now it’s true that 1.) this story is neither about Santa nor Jesus and 2.) the main characters–Sally and Agnes Nitch–do possess female body parts, but I’ve always been a little confused (and more than a little amused) at that response. “The Sands of Mother Christmas” is about friendship, selflessness, the spirit of the season, and a little homegrown magic. It’s funny what sorts of boxes folks will put things into.

Perhaps one day, this beautiful story will find a publisher who wants to illustrate the heck out of it and share it with the world at large. Right now, I thought it best to put it to good use and include it in the Spec the Halls benefit anthology. All proceeds for this anthology, should you decide to purchase it, go to Heifer International, a non-profit organization whose goal is to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and sustainability. You are also welcome to donate directly to the charity here.

I suspect, in their travels, Heifer International volunteers encounter quite a bit of sand. Perhaps, with a little magic, they could put that to good use.

If you do not have the inclination or wherewithal to purchase the anthology or donate to Heifer International, I would still be happy to share this beautiful story with you. Just drop me a line at akontis at gmail, or fill out the little email form at the top right. No charge at all, just one friend to another. I only ask that you share this story with the ones you love. Perhaps Santa will leave you a little bag of sand under your tree.

Happy holidays, one and all!

Xox
Princess Alethea

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Small Business Saturday

Those of you who already know what I’m going to say can just click this link. *grin*

For the rest of you who stood in line at the Big Chain Stores yesterday to get the Big Deals of the Season…today’s your day to shop from the heart. Yes, it’s SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY… here’s how you can take part! (And not just by “Liking” the page on Facebook.)

As you know, my beloved little sister owns a fabulous jewelry studio in Charleston, SC where she designs amazing unique jewelry: Dixie Dunbar Studio.

When the guys at Best Buy have a decent Black Friday weekend, they get to buy a new yacht. When my sister has a decent Black Friday weekend, she can pay her rent for a few more months. If she has a *really* good weekend, she can even afford to have someone else watch the storefront so she can design & build her inventory and her husband can work on studying for his nursing degree.

If all of my friends stopped by the Dixie Dunbar website and just bought only one pair of earrings, Soteria would have a really good weekend. Please help me help her do this by clicking on the earrings pictured here.

Don’t think you can afford her style? The stinky thing about unique designs is that there’s a limit to what Soteria can put on her website, because she has to squirrel that jewelry away and not sell it in her store. If you’re interested at in any of these designs, I urge you to give her a call (843-722-0006) or send her an email and let her know 1.) what style you’re interested in and 2.) what you’re willing to spend on a piece. Soteria is happy to custom make something just for you! She really is just that talented.

(She has also been asked to design some jewelry for a certain television show being filmed in Charleston…but you didn’t hear that from me. Fingers crossed!)

I implore you all to please support Small Business Saturday. Keep local artists in business. Please buy a pair of earrings for your mom, your sister, your wife, and/or yourself. Here’s that handy-dandy link again for you. And totally tell her The Princess sent you…because that would be HILARIOUS.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours! xox

*

[PS – Yes, Soteria also makes jewelry for men. In fact, she really enjoys the challenge and has some great materials to work with. Call her up and ask her anything!]

[PPS – Tell her the Princess sent you and receive an extra 10% off your order!]

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Splendora Drive

The first voice exercise that Barbara Samuel had us do was write for four minutes on this topic: Describe the house you lived in when you were seven years old.

Timer set? GO!

Here’s what I wrote:

********

I still dream about the house on Splendora Drive. It was in a subdivision called Candlewood, down a long road through acres of pine trees, surrounded by more pine forests on every side. All those trees are gone now and the land has been developed, but back then it was just as described: a candle in the wood. I guess I’ve always been destined to live at the Edge of the Wood.

The best part about being so isolated is that the children had the run of the place. We rode our bikes in gangs up and down the street and through the rough terrain behind our houses. We played football in each other’s yards.

*********

Of course, I was going to go on about Matt and Andrew, my best friends who lived in the subdivision, but Barbara called time.

Matt grew up and married my best friend Margo. Andrew grew up and became a ninja. Monday was Andrew’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!

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Redneck Ninjas

I’ve always been proud of my friends, long before we were US. I knew we were all destined for greatness, not just me, like the psychics had said. We were going to be doctors and lawyers and surgeons and politicians and artists, and we were going to rule the world. Our ovens just hadn’t preheated yet.

Drew Bates and I didn’t know each other very well back in middle school, but I think we went on a couple ALERT trips together, and we had a few really good friends in common. We talk a lot more now than we ever did. Thanks to Facebook, I discovered that we share the same birthday. (Something about us 1-11 babies…) I also discovered that in 2007, Drew was in a car wreck that left him a quadriplegic. Has that stopped him from making things happen? Of course not. Because we are amazing, and we always have been.

Earlier this year, Drew took advantage of the Kickstarter program to pitch his animated series REDNECK NINJAS to Hollywood. He ended up getting far more than the $8000 he’d planned for (Go, Drew!) and then used the money to work up the art and animation necessary. Here’s the pilot teaser for your watching enjoyment:

Kickstarter has this to say about Drew:

Drew Bates was a dreamer, always with his head in the clouds. His friends and family described him as…Unique. Then one day, he discovered he could make a really cool robot voice by speaking into his drinking cup. With sounds bellowing in his ears, he thought, “I want to do this everyday.” He watched countless science fiction movies, and cartoons, played video games, read Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and National Geographic, until he found a sci-fi book at a school book-fair about robots.

Drew bought that book, devouring its content. He took it to school, showing it to everyone that would look. Alas, since most 5th graders weren’t into it, he tried sharing it with his teachers; only his English teacher responded. “Do a book report about it,” she boringly replied. So he set out to writing his report, and when he got to the end, he realized that it wasn’t enough. After collecting his thoughts, he searched the house for supplies, and went to his father’s garage possessed, like a hell-bent mad-scientist in his laboratory. Using a cardboard box, a shoe-box, wood strips, coat-hanger wire, wooden dowels, wagon wheels, Plexiglas, nuts, bolts, nails, silver and red spray paint, even a light-switch, bulb and receptacle, he created a robot. Then using a tape-cassette recorder, he performed his book report using his robot voice, and ad-libbing “if you don’t give Drew an A, I, the robot, will destroy you.”

Drew founded UniquePublications LLC in 2006 to create spec animation concepts. Not your average concepts, but…Unique.

All I can add is that Drew is a fabulously talented and amazing person, and I am so glad that I’ve been able to get to know him better since we’ve graduated. I am incredibly proud of him and can’t support him enough.

To find out more about Drew and his projects, visit the UniquePublicationsLLC website. For updates on Redneck Ninjas specifically, check out the Kickstarter page. You can also friend Drew on Facebook (but be quick about it — he has more friends than *I* do).

To learn more about the Quad Fund (a not-for-profit fund to help those with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) or other disability) visit Drew’s information page here.

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TODAY ONLY – 50% of DDS Jewelry

TODAY ONLY — which means click on this link now — Living Social is featuring Dixie Dunbar Studio as their Deal of the Day.

I still have yet to learn about how Living Social works, but I think if you get the deal, and then share the deal, and then three of your friends get the deal you’ve shared, you get it for free.

I’ll tell you right now, I’m not sharing the deal for my own personal profit (because my sister is the proprietor), BUT YOU SHOULD! Please do! Go forth and multiply!

Also, in the fine print, it *does* say “in store only”. But why on earth would you let that stop you? Pop on over to the website right now and treat yourself to some really nice & affordable earrings. You deserve them. And they make great gifts (which also justifies you buying a pair for yourself)!

Support the arts! Support independent shop owners! Support people who share my DNA!

(And, if you click on the link, you will also find out what really awesome film star will be sporting DDS jewelry to promote her new movie…)

I would say have a lovely Monday, but Mondays typically suck. Make your Monday suck less. Go get yourself something shiny, share a great deal, and make the world a better place. *hugs*

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