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Princess Adventures: DragonCon 2018

A new episode in The Princess Adventures has been posted — READ IT HERE.

“Dragon Con 2018. Sunday. The day I didn’t win yet another award…”

So much happened on the Sunday of Dragon Con that I had to break it into two parts. This is Part One: The Dragon Awards.

By the time I’ve finished chronicling this year’s Dragon Con, I will have written around 10,000 words. But you know what? I’M GLAD. I’m glad because I am able to process and chronicle this year’s amazing convention and all the magical things that happened to me. Magical things happen every year, but until now I have never had the time (or made the time) to tackle this assignment and see it all the way to the end.

I always give myself some sort of ridiculous arbitrary time limit, but my Dragon Con Report was never going to be done the week after Dragon–I should have never expected it to be. Nor should I put such pressure on myself in the future. Because now that it’s almost done, I feel…whole again. Well, almost whole.

There are still all those storm chasing diary entries and photos…

I’ve released these Princess Adventures to all my Patrons at the $1 Level and up. I do this because it is my main source of income. Funding these adventures has to come from somewhere!

THANK YOU, PATRONS!

xox

Princess Alethea

DragonCon 2018 Sunday Part One

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The Thing About Adventures

DragonCon 2018 PrincessSo here’s the thing about adventures: They are super fun to have. They can also be incredibly difficult to keep up with when you want to write about them.

In preparation for being firmly ensconced in the Northeastern US for the next few weeks, I created a pretty intense “post-DragonCon” to-do list. Yes, I would love to jump right into a new writing project and forget everything else, but everything else includes titles that moved from Createspace to KDP while I was out, NPR reviews that need to be turned in, about half a dozen non-fiction essays and proposals, and a manuscript decent enough to send to Jane and Heidi for Picture Book Boot Camp Part Deux in November.

In addition to all this important stuff, I have: 1.) Storm Chasing Essays, 2.) DragonCon Essays, and 3.) Fall Adventures up North.

See, the adventures don’t stop happening just because I don’t have time to write them all down. I just feels progressively more and more guilty about moving on with my life, while always promising to go back and catch up.

I’ve been telling everyone I’ve seen since May: Storm Chasing really affected me, deep down, in ways I’m still realizing. I came home mentally and physically exhausted, and I did a lot of soul searching. Some of this resulted in pretty life-changing decisions…or, at least, decisions that I hope will ultimately change my life for the better.  (My close friends seem to have utter faith that it will.)

In the meantime, I have my emerald green notebook right here, ready to transcribe all my diary entries, with the proper insight.

However, between then and now, DragonCon 2018 happened. In so many ways–even though it feels like I always say this–it was the best DragonCon ever. Those adventures are still fresh in my mind, broken down by each day of the Con.

The best part is, I’ve had time to process all those, too. In the last couple of years, I’ve had to shift gears so fast after DragonCon that I wasn’t even able to write them in a journal, and some of those beautiful memories were forgotten. In 2016, I was asked to be a last-minute staff addition to a writing cruise (which came with its own family drama) and in 2017 I drove home to Irma.

Now, I will never forget the fantastic time Jane Yolen and I had tromping around wearing crowns and finishing each other’s poetry, or the ten minutes I had one-on-one with Megan Follows, and I will never forget the magical performance that was “The Little Mermaid” Fairy Tale Rant Theatre (thank Jove we got that on camera!), but I know that other precious moments slipped through the cracks.

This year–this phenomenal year of adventures, I don’t want to forget anything. And yet…

Since DragonCon I’ve flown up North and had more amazing times, discovering the Fairyland that is the Colorscape Arts Festival, working in a patisserie full of very expensive (but incredibly delicious) napoleons, and hanging out with the Adam Ezra Group again, since our paths continue to cross like the strands of Pippi Longstocking’s braids.

This is why, when every five minutes someone was shouting across DragonCon that they stalked me on social media, I breathed a sigh of relief. Whether I had time to write it up in beautiful prose or not, these folks had been there for my adventures.

But now that I do have time…where do I begin?

Every so often I’ll flip through a notebook and come across a journal-type entry, in varying degrees of doneness, chronicling one adventure or another. When I have time (ha!) I put those in the Archive folder for my Exclusive Patrons. And I thank Past Alethea for her diligence,encapsulating that memory in whatever scribbles she was able.

But we have to start somewhere, don’t we?

I think perhaps I will start with DragonCon Day One: Thursday. The night of the Stygian Launch Party and Adam Ezra Concert…and super celebrity guest cameo that shocked the heck out of all of us.

I’ll be posting these adventures for Patrons Only–all accessible for only $1. Those dollars help me attend Picture Book Boot Camp, pay for the gas to get there and the hotel stays on either side. They help me get Sarah to DragonCon and buy swag for the Sideshow and get a dedicated camera, so that we will ALWAYS have recordings of Fairy Tale Rant Theatre. And sometimes, they just help me buy a coffee, or a really expensive pastry, when I’m in the perfect place to do so.

Thank you, my friends, for tagging along with me on my adventures. (Because it’s not technically “stalking” when I actually enjoy having you around!)

I treasure you all more than you will ever know.

xox

~Alethea

 

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Part of Your World–Essays, Podcasts, and Awards

Hugo_Logo_1_200pxThe finalists for the 2018 Hugo Awards were recently announced. No surprise, I wasn’t among them.

And yet…I kind of was.

This year, Neil Clarke–of Clarkesworld Magazine–was shortlisted for Best Editor, Short Form, and Escape Pod finaled under Best Semiprozine.

How do I factor into these two things, do you ask?

The answer is here, in my latest essay for Clarkesworld“Another Word: Breathing Life Into Characters.”

I am honored to have been a contributing writer at Clarkesworld and a podcast narrator for Escape Pod over the past few years. I hope to continue this work for many years to come!

Congratulations to all the Hugo finalists!

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For a full list of all my Escape Pod (and other) story narrations, CLICK HERE.

For a list of all my Clarkesworld essays, CLICK HERE.

Support Princess Alethea on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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What’s Your Damage, Heather?

Heather HaydenIt’s been a while since I’ve sat down with my friend Nick Kaufmann, so it was lovely to be invited onto his blog to chat about what I felt was “The Scariest Part” of Besphinxed.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Besphinxed is a paranormal rom-com, not a horror! There’s some conflict and tension, sure…but the book isn’t SCARY.”

And this is where I say: Just because a book or story isn’t a horror, that doesn’t mean I didn’t scare myself while writing it.

So what was “The Scariest Part” of Besphinxed for me? Click here to read and find out!

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Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content! https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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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.

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Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content! https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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Home from Boot Camp with Big Ideas

Hey, everybody! I’m officially home from Jane Yolen’s Picture Book Boot Camp…which means I got in late Sunday night and then spent an entire day in bed in excruciating pain (this whole neck thing is *not* my idea of a good time). I’ll be posting pics here in the near future…and maybe some thoughts…it’s just that everything that happened was so magical and surreal that I don’t know if I know words good enough to explain it. And even if I did, I feel like I should be spending that time working on ALL THE IDEAS I had while I was there! I mean, that was the whole point of going, right? You guys want new picture books from me, RIGHT? Well, hold on to your hats…

In the meantime, I’m over at John Scalzi’s Whatever today, talking about that old chestnut “Everything Happens for a Reason” and why it really deserves a boot to the backside. It’s a great essay…pop by to read it and join the discussion!

I’ve got another doctor’s appointment today, and then it’s CONQUER THE PICTURE BOOK WORLD TIME. Are you ready?? xox Lee

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Waterworld Mermaids LogoWhen it rains it pours. I should know by now that the minute I get home and prepped for NaNoWriMo, I suddenly find myself with multiple meetings and podcast interviews and guest blogs to share. Apres moi, le deluge!

Today, for example, two of my fabulous essays have gone live. The first: My now-infamous monthly blog post on the Waterworld Mermaids. This November me and a bunch of other fabulous author guests are discussing “What’s one thing you cannot write without?” My answer: LOVE.

That’s right. CLICK HERE and see what the tree-hugging hipy-dippy princess is on about now.

My second post is live at Apex Magazine — Apex is hosting their grand yearly subscription drive, and in honor of that they have asked some celebrity guests to stop by and chat about Short Stories. Of course, I jumped at the chance to talk about how I got hooked…and how that contributed to my juvenile life of crime.

Stop by, leave a comment or two, and above all — enjoy yourselves.

Happy November! xox

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The Princess of Many Half-Completed Movements

“She eased closer to him, studying his face. As if he might be someone she knew but didn’t fully recognize. She shifted to one side and checked his profile, reached out like she might ruffle his hair. He was hoping, but she didn’t. She was a girl of many half-completed movements.”
–Tom Piccirilli, November Mourns

Pic & Lee, MoCon IVNovember Mourns was the first thing of Tom Picirilli’s I ever read. The publisher had given me an advance reading copy, which I’d had him sign when we met at Hypericon in Nashville in the summer of 2005. “Met” in the sense of “bonded like relatives from a past life.” I read the book as soon as I got back that weekend, deep in the throes of missing all my new friends…friends that, ten years down the line, have changed my life in so many ways that I’m not sure who I’d be without them.

I rolled my eyes several times while reading, but that last line from the above quote is when I had to shut the book and walk away for a while. My newest bestest friend, whom I’d begun to refer to as “Unca Pic” in all our emails, was a goddamned poet. I had to put the book down because I was actually pissed that he was such a good writer. All poets—even we lapsed ones—have the ability to recognize brilliance in a single line of text.

Unca Pic was fucking brilliant.

After November Mourns, I read my first novel written by the other Guest of Honor at Hypericon that year. I had to put that one down too, because I couldn’t see from crying. The author was Brian Keene. The book was Terminal. And I had just been diagnosed with a tumor.

My tumor turned out to be a congenital birth defect. When Pic was diagnosed with a tumor, it was a tennis ball-sized gob of brain cancer. Pic never did anything small.

Hypericon 2005, well before anyone referred to me as “Princess,” was also the first convention where I got to sit on panels. Sherrilyn Kenyon and I were roommates. When she was struck down with a migraine halfway through the con, I took care of her before stealing her magic platform corset boots and stomping about the place like the confident superstar I was pretending to be.

I was under strict orders not to become friends with Brian Keene—the sworn enemy of my boyfriend at the time. (Pic was okay, though.) Unfortunately for everyone involved, we all fell in love with each other that weekend. “In love” in the sense of “friendships that would span more than a decade.” The boyfriend—who was already cheating on me at the time—didn’t last half that long.

When the boyfriend discovered my new association—a friendship I boldly defended—he punished me with silence. I shattered. Pic was there, on the other end of every email, to pick up the pieces. And when the depression got bad enough, Pic hunted down my phone number and called my house.

I never answered my phone back in those days (things haven’t changed much—I barely answer it now) and no caller ID meant that I screened every call. So imagine my surprise when the machine beeped and a thick New York accent said, “Are you off bein’ stoopid? You don’t return the emails, you don’t answer the phone…who da hell knows what kind of crisis of faith—” At which point, laughing, I picked up the phone.

I never erased that message. I listened to it for years, because it always seemed to apply. I was always having one crisis of faith or another, and Pic was always there for me. When I finally ran away from home in 2009 (in the sense of “quit my abusive job with no notice and skipped town”), the answering machine was packed up with everything else. I became caught up in the drama of moving my life and settling for another dream I thought I wanted, and the emails to Pic stopped. I mean, we kept in touch on Facebook and whatnot, but the therapy sessions had ended.

With Love, Unca PicThat dream burst like a firework, and then took almost four years to sizzle and fade. I sent Pic another email last November (hello, irony, my old friend), catching him up on my latest bit of craziness. He emailed me back as if it had been five days instead of five years—even remembering to call me “Mimou” (my Dad’s nickname for me as a kid—it’s Greek for “monkey”).

He’d been in remission for two years at that point—he was about to go on vacation to San Diego with Michelle, and he was looking forward to being Guest of Honor at World Horror in 2015. I, too, had been invited to be on panels at World Horror, and I had said yes because I’d seen Pic’s name on the postcards. I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Pic didn’t make it to World Horror. By then, his health was back in a steady decline. Michelle was posting for him on Facebook all the time now, updating us on his progress. I sent him another email, but he didn’t respond. I think I knew then that he never would.

Which sort of sucks because I could really use Pic right now. I’ve been in a horrible slump all summer—ever since I got back from the Atlanta/Nashville trip. I’m in my new place here in Florida, and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be because I feel at home here. But I still have a living room and garage full of boxes. I’m still trying to get myself untangled from this most recent ex. I pared everything down so that I could work on two projects this summer and I suddenly find myself in the middle of five. One of those projects is recording and editing the audiobook for Beauty & Dynamite. The only voice I have 100% down—other than my own, of course—is Pic’s.

My house stalled in the midst of renovation. I feel like there’s a missing piece in the puzzle of my career but I can’t put my finger on it. I realized this morning, when I slid to the floor and cried for two hours after hearing the news, that I had become the girl of many half-completed movements. And as much as I wanted to send an email that said, “Help me, Unca Pic, you’re my only hope,” I knew it would be a futile gesture.

He’s still with me, though, out there in a box in the garage, a faded recording on the twenty-first century equivalent of an outdated R2 unit. I don’t need to play it to hear his voice, loud and clear, asking me if I’m being stoopid. Asking me if I’m having another crisis of faith. The answer is yes. The answer is always yes.

But my Obi-Wan has left the building and now I have to face the dark forces of this universe all on my own. Fortunately, his faith in me is the one thing I don’t have doubts about.

Thanks, Unca Pic.
Dear gods, I miss you.

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My “Precious 5-Stars” Essay Now Live at Clarkesworld

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and their own score system. As long as people continue to be unique, diverse individuals, reviews will never be standardized (and thank goodness!). But will Precious Five-Stars ultimately become a matter of pride or a source of punishment for authors today?

Read the rest of the article (and comment) here at Clarkesworld Magazine!

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Like a Box of Chocolates, 2015

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Andre Norton, Grand Dame of SF.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been a decade since Miss Andre left us. When Jay asked me to contribute something to the Andre Norton Books site, I thought it only fitting to offer him the essay I wrote at the time, my eulogy of sorts, entitled “Like a Box of Chocolates.”

Despite her physical absence, Miss Andre’s grandmotherly presence, her nuggets of wisdom, her complete faith in who I was and who I would be…these remain with me. As does the very important decision I made the day she died.

In 2011, I had the honor of presenting the Andre Norton Award at the SFWA Nebula Awards ceremony. In 2013 and 2014, I was nominated for the Andre Norton Award. One of these days, I will win that damned thing and make her proud. Because that’s how these stories are meant to end.

Click here to read “Like a Box of Chocolates” — originally posted on this blog on March 18, 2005.

Norton photo

#SFWApro

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