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National Poetry Month, Day 12

In honor of Charlie’s USA Today debut:

“See them in the windows
See them everywhere
Shapeless little creatures
Called the Teddy bears.”

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In Which Charlie Rules the World

Yes, I am a grown woman who sleeps with a teddy bear. In fact, that teddy bear is so famous, he’s in my professional author bio.

“Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.”

Today in USA Today’s Happy Ever After Blog, Joyce Lamb interviewed a bunch of romance authors about their favorite childhood toys. I told her about Charlie and sent her a photo that I had taken during a photo shoot in Vermont with my niece Alexa.

Check it out — Charlie got TOP BILLING! In USA TODAY!
(And if you ever wanted to know Charlie’s full name, here’s your chance to find out…)

I am such a proud mama today. *beams*

Three cheers for Charlie!

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Princess Unbound

I have another fun and quirky interview today — my hosts are the lovely bloggers at Pages Unbound.

I also get to answer my favorite question: the “is there anything we forgot to ask you?”, or what I like to call The Blank Check.

What did I decide to ask myself on this particular occasion? There’s only one way to find out!

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The Tour So Far, In Pictures

An incredibly grand photo essay of my adventures so far!

Do check back — I will be updating the album with my stops in GA and TN before I head home!

Just click on the photo to head to the Picasa Album. xox

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Anthology Builder Interview

Anthology Bulder is this really cool website, created several years ago by my friend & fellow Codexian Nancy Fulda.

For only $14.95, you can create your own anthology from a vast archive of previously published stories form your favorite authors…or authors you’d like to try out. Going to a convention? Create a custom anthology of guests who will be there and get them to sign it…like Nancy did for Nebula Awards Weekend this year.

It’s the Mixed CD of print-on-demand short story collections. And the best part? Every time you choose an author’s story, they get a royalty.

I have enough short stories on Anthology Builder to even have a small, little-known collection of my own — Magic and Monsters.

But my stories crop up on other Tables of Contents from time to time — most recently, my infamous vampire little mermaid story “Blood and Water” (with pirates!) was included in the featured anthology From the Shadows.

Jim Fox asked me a few brief questions about the story (and a few other fun tidbits) to post over on the Anthology Builder blog.

Do be sure to click on over and drop by…especially if you don’t know what Charlie’s real name is…

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

On Saturday, the WRW had yet another amazing meeting, this month featuring fabulous guest host Barbara Samuel. She presented us with two workshops–one before lunch, and one after our official meeting–about voice and the heroine’s journey, respectively.

For the voice workshop, Barbara ran us through a series of times writing exercises — sprints, if you will — that were less of a challenge to do first thing in the morning than you might think.

Since I don’t really have any other plans for these tidbits, I’ll be posting them here on my blog for the next week or so. Nothing should go to waste, right?

I challenge you as well to take each of these prompts and a timer (set your phone, or the microwave, it’s not tough) and see what you make of them. If nothing else, it’s good warm-up for your brain and reminds you that you CAN get some decent writing done, even if you only have four minutes.

The first exercise I’m going to share with you is one I call “Your Favorite Things.” In about 90 seconds, jot down your 10 favorite things. Don’t make a list that you think everyone else will read & be proud of — be honest with yourself. Whatever comes to mind. Just do it. If you have a little more time, go for 25 — we didn’t have the time, but Barbara said she likes to go to 25 to get a bigger picture.

What she’s looking for is what we spent the whole morning on: our voice. Look at your list as if you were a psychologist asking about your mother. Are you writing true to your own voice, or are you fighting against yourself? If you’re having trouble writing a certain scene or story, this could easily be the reason why. It’s a very interesting little personality test.

Got your timer set? Okay…GO!

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

So here’s my list:

1. Rainbows
2. My teddy bear, Charlie
3. My laptop
4. Black-eyed Susans
5. My best friends from high school
6. My books
7. Phone calls from my sister
8. The stories my dad tells
9. Mom’s moussaka
10. Magic

I went a little over and jotted down a few more things, since I knew 25 was usually the goal:
11. The ocean
12. Sunsets
13. Joe’s devious smile
14. Four leaf clovers
15. The Milky Way

Barbara had some of the women volunteer to read their lists aloud. She then asked them what type of fiction they wrote, and we could see how that was (or wasn’t, but in most cases was) reflected in their list. Most lists had things like children’s laughter, or food, or vacation spots. I heard each one of these women and kept looking down at my own list.

I finally leaned over to Mermaid Carlene and whispered, “My list looks like a twelve year old wrote it.”

Most people might have been embarrassed by such a list, but not me. I know exactly which things I value in this life–they are things that make me smile. I hunt down those things and surround myself with them. When I moved to TN I had a series of evacuation dreams. The house is on fire! What do you grab? It was always Charlie and my laptop, without exception. When the tornadoes hit, it was Charlie and me and the laptop in the bathtub.

When I was at my most depressed, I told someone about the prism my mom always hung in the kitchen, and how it used to make rainbows everywhere. I loved that thing. It always made me smile. So I bought a ton of crystal prisms and hung them all over my house. I even have one hanging from the rear view mirror of my car. I am rarely without rainbows. They are very important to me.

I am proud of my list. It’s very me, and very true. And yeah, it maybe looks like a twelve year old wrote it. But so what? I write picture books and young adult fairy tales full of magic and large families and storytelling and true love. I call myself a princess and wear tiaras in public. I know my voice, and I am very comfortable inside it.

So…what’s your voice like?

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Interview with Nancy Fulda

The writers group of which I am a long standing member (the Codex Writers) has been hosting The Codex Blog Tour. A bunch of the members have been hosting interviews and guest blogs with other members on their sites–much like a progressive dinner party, only it’s a traveling sideshow (with which I’m a tad more familiar).

If you’d like to see the entire Big Top and Three Ring Circus that’s been going on, you can click on over to the Codex Blog Tour website, which has a list of what’s been where and when.

You’re also welcome to just keep tuning in right here — while I may be a bit of a late Princess to the Party, I plan on screwing my tiara to the sticking place and muddying my fancy party in the deep waters. Look for some fun and excitement here the next few weeks, folks. It’ll be a blast…and hopefully introduce you to some amazing and talented authors you may have never heard of…or ones you only *think* you know.

Nancy Fulda has the advantage here — she’s already posted an interview with me on her site that was picked up by SF Signal (thanks, guys!) and noted in their tidbits entry with a cover of Beauty & Dynamite.

You guys might know Nancy as the founder of the Anthology Builder site. What? You’ve never heard of Anthology Builder? You need to get your heiny there right now and check it out — especially if you’re going to a convention anytime soon. It’s like a site where you can make your own mixed tape…only you can make your own anthology! That’s right…mix and match form the available stories, choose your own cover and title…and voila! A one-of-a-kind, personalized souvenir that everyone can autograph.

I’ve got a few stories in the ranks there. Don’t know which ones? Hop on over and check it out.

We’ll have more about Nancy later…right now, I’m going to direct you to that short & fun interview she did with me. Find out how “Sunday” the short story differs from Sunday the novel, what I’m nervous about, and the history behind Charlie the teddy bear.

Inquiring mind? Want to know? Click here…and enjoy!

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Have a Lovely Weekend

Because if Scalzi can put up a picture of his cat in the window, I can post one of my teddy bear.

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Exit 75, I’m still alive

(Okay — technically I’m at Exit 76, but that’s how the song goes.)

The area right off Exit 76 is like a war zone. You used to take a left and stop at a traffic light right in front of the new hotel…there’s not a traffic light there anymore. I don’t mean it’s out — I mean IT’S GONE. You can see the stumps where the signs used to be. There’s a trailer set up as a control center for the Sheriff’s department — there must have been 100 cop cars along the street in front and to the side of it. None of the stoplights or streetlights on Medical Center Blvd are working, and The Avenue is completely dark. All I could see were flashing lights and men in reflectored jackets, escorting us along.

Every muscle in my body immediately started to shake. It was the first time today I had really been scared…but I was really scared. Happily, the next major intersection (Thompson Lane) had a working stoplight, and I drove into a land of electricity and life.

A couple of years ago, Mom gave me a timer, so that I never again had to return home to a dark house. I currently have a string of magenta Christmas lights plugged into it. I didn’t have power when I left the house this morning — all I could think as I turned the corner by the Boys & Girls Club was "Please let there be pink lights. Please let there be pink lights." And there were.

My house is in one piece, there are no trees down (hey – maybe my neighbors will now finally get rid of the dead tree on my fence!), and I have electricity.

And, for all of you who were worried about him, Charlie’s safe too. I found him in the bathtub with a bicycle helmet on, along with our usual Tornado Warning gear. That’s my boy.

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