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Countdown to the Sideshow

Happy Wednesday everyone!  We’re in the final countdown to Dragon Con and this year’s Traveling Sideshow. (Just 9 days left!!)  To help you pass the time, below is a printable coloring sheet of Kit Steele’s fabulous art, commissioned especially for this year’s Sideshow. We can’t wait to see you all at there!

XOXO,

Princess Alethea

 

Coloring Page DC 2017

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Status of the Woodcutter Sisters

I’ve been putting off writing this post. When you read it, you’ll realize why.

Once a week or so, I get an email asking about the fate of the Woodcutter Sisters series.

The short answer: Get everyone you know to pledge their support to my Patreon. When I hit $2500, I will drop everything and finish writing the Woodcutter Sisters, as originally planned. (Seven books in total, Sunday – Monday…and yes, I know exactly what happens)

Woodcutter Sisters 3

The longer answer: Harcourt still has the North American rights to the first three books in the series.

Back in 2014, I was dumped by my publisher and my boyfriend on the same day.

Harcourt had some big reorganization and everyone who ever worked on the Woodcutters left the company. In a way, getting dumped was a blessing–few authors have positive experiences working with a new editor after they’ve been “orphaned.”

It also paved the way for a project I’d pitched that they’d turned down: Writing a short novel based on what happened to Trix in Hero (a storyline they made me remove from the book entirely because “pacing”).

My goal was to finish Trix’s novel and use it to teach myself all the ways of this new-fangled “indie publishing.” I had launched my own small press back in 2005 (Nyx Books), but a lot had changed in the decade since I’d dipped my toe in the print-on-demand business. I did have a leg up, having owned a publishing company before and having a ton of contacts in the industry…but that also made it scarier. Because I knew just what I was getting myself into, and the superior level of quality I expected from my books.

And let’s be honest: mentally, after getting dumped, I felt like a Giant Failure. Plus, remember how 2014 was the year that a bunch of my close friends and family kept dying?

Yeah. One doesn’t exactly snap back from that.

It took a while to get off the ground, but eventually Trixter was published, along with Tales of Arilland (the fairy tale short story collection I’d pitched and gotten rejected) and a few other things. I even wrote a sequel called Trix and the Faerie Queen — not something I’d originally planned, but a plotline I realize I LOVED.

I started writing Thieftess (Thursday’s book). I even had a model do a photo shoot for Thursday’s cover. (Yes, we still have those pics. She is SO Thursday!)

I wanted to  get myself on better financial ground before I completely threw myself into writing the rest of the series. It takes a lot of head space to get into a series like the Woodcutters, and anxieties like “bills” and “utilities” and “credit card debt” and “car repairs” really chip away at that space. (I still have no car, btw. Haven’t for over a year.)

What I found out was: continuing to write in the world of Arilland wasn’t making me significant money. The reason? I don’t have the rights to the first three books. I can’t put them on sale, or make the first one permafree. I can’t offer them up for Bookbub deals.

I make 89.9 cents on every paperback copy of Enchanted sold (as opposed to $2-3 on each indie book sold). I get that money twice a year. And those books aren’t selling particularly well. Enchanted, Hero, and Dearest combined pull in about $2000 every six months. That’s not nearly enough to live on. The up side is, once the sales of those books fall below a certain threshold, I can have the rights back.

So you see my dilemma.

When I get my rights back for Enchanted, Hero, and Dearest, here is the plan:

–Reprint all of the books, with better covers. (I’ll keep the titles, because we’re in this too far to change them now.)

–Release an “author’s preferred edition” of Enchanted, that puts back in most of the 30,000 words the publisher asked me to take out. (A lot of this is about Prince Rumbold, which was published in Tales of Arilland as “The Cursed Prince.” A lot are deleted scenes I read on YouTube.)

–Audible is still interested in producing the rest of the series, when they are published, and Katy Kellgren is still interested in narrating.

What I am doing right now: I am writing.

The Truth About Cats & Wolves: A Nocturne Falls Universe NovelI spent years teaching myself every aspect of indie publishing…and realized the hard way that I’d taken the wrong road by pursuing the Woodcutters. I ended 2016 broke, desperate, and still writing like mad.

I threw everything I had into my career, pulled out all the stops. Thus my recent (and awesome!) endeavors in Nocturne Falls, the “Once” anthologies, and The Simi’s ABCs book.

I also have plans to start a new series–comedy romance, like the books I write for NFU, but obviously more fairy tale based. In fact, I’ve seeded a bunch of characters and worldbuilding into my NFU books already…

Yes. I would like to at least finish Book Three of The Trix Adventures (Trix and the Fire Witch), but as of the writing of this post, my life is All Nocturne Falls All the Time. And traveling with Sherri. And narrating stories for ACX and IGMS. And doing about a thousand other things to try and bring in every penny I can, because I know how fickle this industry is, and I’m still not standing on financially solid ground.

So there you have it. The very long (and mildly depressing) answer.

I would love to be able to write the rest of the Woodcutter Sisters books. As a terminal optimist, I believe that one day, I will be able to. YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

In the meantime…buy a t-shirt! Buy Trixter or Trix & the Faerie Queen or Haven, Kansas! Or any of my short stories or audiobooks! Review them! Buy them for your local library! Share them with friends!

And please support me on Patreon!

All the love in the world,

xox

Alethea

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How Do I Self-Publish a Book? (A List, With Resources)

Alethea-SimiI’ve been asked about self-publishing a lot recently, so I decided it was high time to write up a big, long answer with lots of fabulous and helpful links!

If you are asking yourself “Should I self-publish my book?” — the answer is NO. Self-publishing is a ridiculously hard amount of work (on top of writing your novel in the first place, which was already a ton of work, am I right?). And right now there is a glut of indie-published books out there, which means that once you DO get through the hard work of writing and the harder work of editing and publishing, there’s the virtually-impossible job of actually getting your book actually SEEN and READ by people.

But if self-publishing is so terrible, why are you doing it? Because I’m the stubborn brat who did terribly in English class, but never stopped writing. I got a Chemistry degree and immediately went to work at a bookstore. I moved across state lines and made really bad life choices (I once started a publishing company to impress a boy) and went into debt several times, all for the sake of writing because it is my soul. I was orphaned by two major publishers and still refused to stop writing.

If you are a crazy person like me–and I know you are out there (MY PEOPLE!)–keep reading.

Everyone else: submit your manuscript to an agent or shove it back under the couch, and then go see a movie and be glad I saved you from the really bad decision you were about to make.

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Princess Alethea’s Self Publishing Basics

The Manuscript

When you have finished writing your novel (we’re going to talk about novels here, because picture books are ENTIRELY different horses), you need three different kinds of editors to look at it: a content editor, a copyeditor, and at least one proofreader.

The content editor’s job is to be sure your manuscript makes sense. Is the pacing right? Does it flow? Did you forget to describe a character? Did you leave a plot hole dangling? Did you write an adventure story when you meant to write a romance? (I’ve done this at least twice.) Did you realize you have an underlying theme of loss that you should really explore and carry out through the resolution?

The content editor will give you revision notes. Take a day to scream and cry about these notes, and then sit down and do the work to make your story better. (The content editor’s job is not to find typos, but she might mark a few.) When your revisions are completed satisfactorily, your manuscript goes to the copyeditor.

The copyeditor’s job is to go through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and catch all your typos and grammatical mistakes. They will sort out your hyphens and pry the commas from your cold, dead hands. They will catch inconsistencies or anachronisms. They will point out awkward sentences that should really be rephrased. They will catch that you used the word “small” five times in one paragraph. Once you have fixed all these silly mistakes, it’s time to send your manuscript to the proofreaders.

A proofreader’s job is to catch whatever tiny things the copyeditor didn’t see. In traditional publishing, this is the equivalent of the Advance Readers Copy. My ARCs go to my VIP Review Team and my Brute Squad. There are a couple of readers who I KNOW will catch things my eagle-eyed copyeditor missed, and I pay special attention to those comments.

In the course of my two-decades-plus in the publishing industry, I have professionally held all three of the above positions for major publishers. I am here to tell you that YOU NEED ALL THREE OF THEM. If you are the writer, do not do these jobs yourself. And if you are a writer who CAN do any of these jobs yourself, I bow to you because you are a God.

As in traditional publishing, you should always start with the cleanest version of the manuscript you can. If you are distracting any of these editors with a messy manuscript, it’s possible that they will be concentrating so hard on easily fixable mistakes that they miss something they SHOULD be paying attention to. (And that is often how typos end up in final manuscripts)

My editorial team is made up of my best friend (who happens to be an English professor at a big university), a dear author friend, my fan club, and my mom. It took me a long time to put these folks together, and we are AMAZING. You will find your team. But don’t get discouraged if it takes you a while. And be open to looking in un-obvious places.

Casey has papers to grade, Kat has books to write, and Mom’s not currently offering her proofing services on a professional basis, so I’ve compiled this short list of friends & acquaintances for you to research. Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Some of these folks only do one kind of editing, or for specific genres. Each will charge different amounts. Feel free to tell them I sent you, and BE KIND–these are friends of mine!

Renee Murphy
Shannon Page
Chris Kridler
Laura Anne Gilman
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Spencer German Ellsworth
Literally Addicted to Detail (Chelle Olson)
Melissa Gilbert
Lyn Worthen
John Jarrold
Ashley Davis
Jenny Rae Rappaport
Eschler Editing (Sabine Berlin)
KH Koehler
Michael Kabongo
Laura Helseth
Venessa Glunta

The Cover

Even after all these years and thousands of idioms, readers still judge a book by its cover. Your cover is INCREDIBLY important. I spend a LOT of money on the cover art for my novels, and it it 100% worth it.

My cover artist is another amazing author (Rachel Marks) who is no longer taking new clients (because she also has books to write!). Luckily for you, there are a TON of new, great resources out there for covers–even places that provide pre-made covers!

(I do not have a list of resources for these yet.)

 

The Layout

I am a Mac user, so I have been blessed with the fabulous software that is Vellum. I have been known to tell PC indie authors that it is worth it to buy a Mac, just for the e-book software. And that was BEFORE it could do print layout!

Vellum is magic for e-books. And I suspect I will be doing quite a few print layouts there too, in the future. But outside of that, my go-to for print layout will always be Polgarus Studio. They have made all of my fairy tale books look amazing, and even helped me when I was having massive amount of trouble with Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Their rates are reasonable, communication is excellent, and they provide layout within a week. LOVE THEM.

 

Retailers

There are websites where you can upload your e-book and they will get it out to all the various retailers…but really, it’s best if you do the Big Five on your own: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Google Play. (Google Play is a bit problematic…do some research…but I’ve still got a few books there for now.)

You will need to set up accounts, link bank numbers, and fill out tax forms for each of these sites. It is not a short process. And every time you upload the book, you will need to input the metadata. Another not-short process–while all sites require a lot of the same information, every one is different.

Do you need ISBNs from Bowker? That’s up to you. I bought a bunch way back when they were on sale, and I use them mostly for my print books through Ingram…but if you’re only using e-books and Createspace, you don’t need them.

I use both CreateSpace and Ingram for my print books. I did a lot of research before I made this decision. Did I need Ingram? Probably not–they are expensive, and a hassle–but I did want hardcover books. I hear that Nook is now doing hardcovers. I haven’t looked into that yet. But CreateSpace can get you into most of the sales channels you need.

Affiliate Programs

Make sure you are set up on all the Affiliate programs: Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. I admit, the only one I’ve really seen money back from is Amazon…but you never know. All those nickles and dimes add up eventually. And remember to use these links! I know it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s a good habit to train yourself to get into. DO NOT EVER BUY ANYTHING OFF AMAZON without clicking on a link from a fellow author’s site first. Even if you don’t buy their book, they still get a kickback. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. You have no idea how much!

 

Advertising

The book advertising climate changes every five minutes. It’s true that you have to spend money to make money, but FB ads and newsletter ads and free sites are so prevalent now, it’s tough to make a list of reliable ones. I will say that BookBub ads are still great if you can get them (don’t stop applying!) and Hidden Gems is fabulously reliable for getting ARC reviews!

Also: Be sure to “claim” your books on BookBub and add them to your Amazon Author Profile (make sure you are set up on Author Central) as soon as the buy or pre-order links go live!

Author Central will be indispensable to you as an indie author. Their customer service is bar-none.

 

Audiobooks

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing, you shouldn’t worry about audiobooks just yet. That said, make sure you also “claim” all your books and short stories on ACX. ACX has a ton of great video tutorials…I highly recommend them. And be prepared to spend a lot of money on your narrator–you get what you pay for. My audiobook narrators have blown me away…and brought me some of the greatest joy. Their exceptional performances remind me why I do what I do!

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WHEW! Okay, I know that’s a LOT of material, but it really only scratches the surface. I just want to make sure I properly convey the scope of the GIANT HEADACHE you are about to have for the next two-five years.

And if you made it this far…I wish you all the best of luck in the world. Vaya con dios!

xox

Princess Alethea

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

Follow Alethea Kontis on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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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!

xox

Alethea

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Everythinghas astory.

 

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Hypericon 2017

unnamed

 

Friday June 16th

3:00pm – Fantasy Writing – Alethea & Friends

5:00pm – Opening Ceremonies

Saturday June 17th

12:00pm – Main Event – Alethea Kontis

1:00pm – From Kickstarter to Patreon: Making Donations Work for You

2:00pm – More Than Ideas, Seeing a Writing Project Through

Sunday June 18th

1:00pm – Surprise Q&A

*Copies of my books are available in the vendor room through Gretchen’s Apothecary

 

And don’t forget to follow me on Patreon for all the latest updates on my projects!

 

 

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Faerie Freebies for Fairy Day!

 

Need to feed that
Faerie Tale addiction?
Get 9 Faerie Tale
Books FREE
June 24th
July 1st only!
 
Click on the following links to claim your free books:
 
War of the Fae Book 1 By
Elle Casey
Faelorehn: The Otherworld Series
Book 1
by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Tales of Arilland by Alethea
Kontis
Falling For Fire by Talia
Jager
Dark Promise by Talia Jager
Feyland: The Dark Realm by
Anthea Sharp
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On Reviewing Books

Amazon Review Meme by Alethea Kontis

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WWDD 99 Cent Sale!

In the mood for some dark & twisty stories?  Catch them quick–only 99 cents!

http://amzn.to/1U7AIcT

WWDD

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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.

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

 

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The Trix Adventures Prize Pack Giveaway!

I know you’re dutifully following and sharing all the guest bloggers and reviewers of the Trix and the Faerie Queen Blog Tour…but do make sure that you’re following me on ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA and entering the Prize Pack Giveaway as many times as you can.

Only nine days left!

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April 2 2016

Today is 211th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. Choosing this day to launch the blog tour for Trix and the Faerie Queen was due more to the happenstance of timing than by design, but in hindsight I cannot think of a better time. As I write this, I am sitting in the Aerie of Phoenix Farm. Across from me is the desk where Jane Yolen wrote some of the books that shaped my youth. The walls that aren’t filled with fairy tale collections are lined with wings and witches, maids and mermen. Out across the cloudy gray landscape dotted with the greens and yellows of impatient spring, the church bells chime into the twilight. The house is full of dreamers ready to write the next generation of beautiful books that shape the next generation of impressionable youths. Jane has challenged us all to make the world a better place. I accept that challenge.

Whether or not I succeed is up to you, dear reader.

Trix Woodcutter and I invite you all to join us on this newest adventure. Trix and the Faerie Queen is filled with more talking animals than I ever thought I would write and a journey to a place from my dreams: Under the Hill, to the high seat of the Faerie Queen. There are so many characters in this story (Alastair is going to hurt me when he starts making notes for the audio)–I won’t tell you which one is my favorite. That is a choice you must make yourself.

I could say more about Trix’s story, but I think perhaps I will let the all the wonderful excerpts and reviews posted along this tour speak for themselves. Plus, Jane has just sat down beside me to chat (Jane says hi, by the way), and Heidi will be calling us all down to dinner soon.

As always…adventure awaits!

xox
Alethea

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April 3rd: Wishful Endings
April 8th: Grand Finale

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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