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Who’s The Princess?

That’s right. I’m the princess.

Maurice Broaddus just posted this teaser poster for next year’s Mo*Con along with his con report for this year. (Check out his snazzy new website!)  Credit goes to Bob Freeman for its creation.

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Genre Chick Interview: Peter S. Beagle

Alethea Kontis: You call yourself an “occasional musician.” How much do you play/sing anymore?

Peter S. Beagle: I don’t have any regular gigs now, as I used to when I lived in Santa Cruz. I haven’t really had one for well over 20 years. So I sing on occasion, when I’m asked. A couple of weeks ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the annual Nimrod Journal gathering, there was a party, where a lady with a very nice voice and I passed a guitar back and forth. I sang my songs, she sang folk songs. It was nice. I’ve been missing that. My business manager, Connor Cochran, tells me that next spring in Chicago I’m going to get a chance to do a real gig as part of a big weekend art show/music show event based around The Last Unicorn. Going to have to do some practicing to get ready for that.

AK: Tell us about the 52/50 Project. How is it going?

PSB: I should probably take a moment here to explain. The 52/50 Project is basically a demanding birthday present I gave myself back in April, when I turned 70 and simultaneously celebrated the 50th anniversary of selling my first book. The idea was simple. I love writing both poetry and song lyrics, but I hadn’t done either in years, except for sneaking some fragmentary song lyrics into a few of my stories. So at Connor’s suggestion I made the crazy commitment to write a new piece every week for a year, with ten of them based on subscriber suggestions. Every Sunday or Monday I send Connor what I’ve written, then he polishes my “liner notes,” typesets everything, comes up with an illustration, and sends the result out via email to subscribers. Bit by bit we’re recording all of these, too. Subscribers will get free MP3s of those as they’re ready.

AK: Has it been a challenge to produce something fabulous and new once a week?

Lord, yes. No sooner is something online on Monday than I’m worrying about the next week. Usually it takes me until Wednesday or Thursday before I figure out what the hell I’m going to do. Then I have to write it, which is exciting, challenging, and of course scary, too. But we’re at week 30 and I haven’t missed one yet, so I think I’ll make it.

AK: Can people still subscribe? (I do, and I bought a subscription for a friend. I love it!)

PSB: People can still subscribe at http://www.conlanpress.com, all the way through to the end. It’s only $25, and whenever they join they’ll get everything that was done up until then, in one big burst of email attachments. After that they’ll get each week’s new song lyric or poem on the regular Monday schedule.

AK: You travel and do so many appearances–what do you like best about conventions?

PSB: I very much like seeing people I don’t usually see except at conventions–I’ve made some friends of surprisingly long standing that way–and each individual locale has its own peculiar charms. I love the fact, for example, that when we go to Baltimore we always stay with the same people, because April keeps lox in the refrigerator whenever I’m there, and her husband Travis brews beer. You couldn’t ask for more, or at least I couldn’t. And I have my own room there, which is a nice change from the usual run of Motel 6s or Super 8s that Connor and I stay in to save money. (Though even that has had some benefits, because I’ve learned to sleep with the light on while Connor stays up all night working.)

AK: How do you feel about the latest trends in the fantasy genre, such as paranormal romance and steampunk? What themes would you like to see make an appearance…or a comeback?

PSB: One thing I would like to see slack off is the endless factory-made Tolkienesque trilogies. I’m not usually in favor of the death penalty, but for these things I’ve thought about it: felony trilogy writing. But really, I don’t have a sense of trends in any particular field. I just read whatever jumps off the library shelves at me, without much of a particular pattern to it. Fact is, the overwhelming majority of what I read these days is in other fields: mysteries, poetry, biographies, and general nonfiction, especially history. When I read fantasy it tends to be for a project, or else because it’s something written by a friend, or is some old favorite I’m revisiting. I’m always glad–since he is long-gone–that I called Poul Anderson after I reread three or four of his fantasy novels in a row, just to tell him “I know you wrote these 40 and 50 years ago, but I just wanted to let you know that they hold up beautifully. I hope my stuff holds up that late in the game.” It was a joke between us that I loved his fantasy but couldn’t make heads or tails out of his science fiction.

AK: What were your favorite books/poets/musicians as a child?

PSB: Back then I did read more fantasy than I do now, and I’ve always told people that what turned me in that direction was being sent The Wind In the Willows by a favorite teacher while I was sick and staying home from school. For musicians, I loved blues, and my buddy Phil and I grew up particularly interested in Josh White. We were constantly sitting up at night trying to figure out how he did this or that on guitar. Phil got to where he could do an almost perfect vocal imitation of White, and I did pick up a few fingering and tuning things. And I’ve always known way too many Broadway musicals by heart. A couple of nights ago I was watching a program on one of my old favorites, Johnny Mercer, and found myself singing along with very nearly every song on the show. I also listened to classical music because that’s what my parents were always playing. They took me to see Segovia when I was about nine. And by pure chance I came into contact with a lot of ‘50s country music, because one of my friends took pity on me and built the crystal radio set that I was supposed to make for shop class. It would only bring in one station, which played nothing but country music. I was so grateful that I would come home, sit down to do my homework, hook up that crystal set, attach the ground wire to the radiator, put on my headphones, and listen to whatever it brought in. As a consequence I have to have been the only Jewish kid in the Bronx who knew about Hank Williams, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Little Jimmy Dickens, Patsy Cline, and all those folks. I was only 12 or 13 when Hank Williams died, but I understood the grieving in the country music world.

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Horrorfind 2009 Pics

The pictures from Horrorfind Weekend are up! I’ll be posting them to Facebook too, but if you want the captions & tags, you’ll have to check out the official Picasa album. Just click on the big happy family.

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Horrorfind Weekend 2009

I’m home, finally, and I have got to get to bed. Tomorrow expect lots of updates and tons of pictures. In the meantime, please enjoy the BEST PICTURE OF THE WEEKEND, which I believe epitomizes everything about Horrorfind.

What would YOU caption this?

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The Princess and the Dragon*Con (3 of 10)

Number Three of my Dragon*Con Top Ten:
Meeting Paul McGillion
(or: Earth to Atlantis; come in Atlantis)

I mentioned earlier that due to my busy schedule I didn’t have many celebrity sightings this year – celebrity, of course, being someone of esteem that I don’t already have in my phone or on my Christmas card list. The two folks I caught a glimpse of who qualified were Anthony Daniels (C3PO from Star Wars) and Paul McGillion (from Stargate: Atlantis).

Now, there’s a whole story that revolves around the crew of Stargate: Atlantis, a story I promise to tell on the day I meet Jason Momoa and not before. Suffice it to say that it culminated in Janet’s and my hard & fast goal to introduce ourselves to every celebrity within arm’s length, no matter how intimidated, scared, or fangirl we might be.

So there we were in the Green Room. It was late. I was getting punchy. Everyone else was well on their way to being several sheets into the wind. Carl–the Green Room’s very tall bouncer whose job it is to bellow “Last call!” to no objections—offered me some high-octane vanilla cognac from his private flask. Not sure what Mike Lee was drinking, but he was loving the world and tipping well, so it must have been good…but not so good he wasn’t jealous of Carl’s favoritism toward women in low-cut dresses.

I had befriended a fabulous artist named Marrus (pictured right), whose friend explained how creeped out he was that I looked just like Marrus twenty years ago…and still looked quite a bit like her now, plus a few pounds and inches, and minus the frosted hair. We laughed and joked and carried on and yelled plans for the future in each other’s ears. See, once it gets packed and the evening wears on, the Green Room isn’t so much a haven as it is a really crowded bar with great snacks and free drinks. At first you only have to talk above the background music, the beer pong game, and the masquerade…later you have to yell above all the other people trying to be heard above all those other things too.

I followed Mike to the bar the first time as an excuse to walk by Paul McGillion. After like the sixth or seventh time, as folks were starting to head to other parties in anticipation of getting kicked out, I hooked Mike’s arm and dragged him slowly toward the door. I swear he said goodbye to everyone—which included bestowing a giant hug on Paul McGillion. Now, I had no idea Mike knew Paul. For all I know he probably doesn’t. But I stood there and smiled, and courteously after Mike said goodbye, Paul turned to me. And this is what happened.

Lee: (sticks out her hand & shouts) I’m Alethea Kontis! It’s nice to meet you!
Paul: (cups his ear) What!?
Lee: (leans in) ALETHEA KONTIS!
Paul: (smiles) Thank you! Thank you very much!

I tried to say something else just as he tried to say something else, and we both leaned in to scream it again in each other’s ears only to stand there in awkward silence. Paul then kissed me on both cheeks and said, “Have a good night!” Embarrassed, and feeling like I had just had a conversation with someone via tin can and string, I dragged Mike out the door after Janet, Leanna, and Chris.

WHAT had just happened? I touched my cheek. Paul McGillion had kissed me. Does it matter what happened?

The next day I stopped by the Sherrilyn Kenyon booth to tell my story to Eddie and Erin. They were just as confused as I was abou8t what had transpired. “What exactly did you say again?” Eddie asked.

“I just introduced myself,” I said, “and he said ‘Thank you.’”

“What exactly did you say?” said Eddie.

“I’m Alethea Kontis,” I said slowly, enunciating every syllable. There was a pause, and then we all started laughing. My cheeks flushed all over again. “He thought I was saying, ‘I love you,’ didn’t he?”

“That, and he probably thought you were very drunk,” said Erin.

I sighed. Not exactly that ‘meeting of soul mates’ moment that everyone wishes to have when introducing themselves to celebrities they admire. Then again—what is it I say?—some things are meant to be, and some things are meant to be great stories.

The next time we meet, I have a feeling Paul will get a kick out of this one.

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The Princess & The Dragon*Con (2 of 10)

Number Two of the Dragon*Con Top Ten:
Assimilating the Twitterverse

Twitter existed last Labor Day weekend, but it was about as prevalent then as the iPhone. Now that most of the appleminded have wised up and we’re all jacked in,  the Twitterverse was alive and well in the fourth dimension. I tagged all my own tweets with the #dragoncon hashtag, and in the wee insomniac hours before my roommates rose from the dead, I would click on #dragoncon to see what everyone else was saying and doing.

What parties had just ended? What concerts were going on tonight? What cool costumes were floating around? What great panels had I missed? How many people had already stopped at Starbucks and were sitting in the Shatner/Nimoy line? What time were the Thriller dance rehearsals? How much was it to get Patrick Stewart’s autograph? Getting to experience the convention through so may other people’s eyes WHILE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING IT MYSELF was a bit mind-blowing. And excessively cool.

Before I knew it, I was responding to the tweets of perfect strangers. One girl mentioned that she was dressing up as Rose from the 60’s episode — I asked her if she’d worn the same thing to the parade yesterday because I’d noticed that costume. Turns out…it was her! I complimented her on the pink dress, and we commiserated about how we don’t get to watch the parade anymore now that we’re in it. One guy boasted about being part of the Crazy 88s that poured down the escalator during the sold-out Steampunk Ball and entertained everyone who couldn’t get in. I had ordered Kit to take a picture of the group — they looked spectacular, and I told my new friend Will so. He invited me to get in the picture next year, and I took him up on the offer.

The thing was, these weren’t perfect strangers. At any other convention, these would probably have been the folks I found myself hanging out in the lobby with until 2am. Thanks to Twitter, I got to spend my free time seeing the convention through their eyes. I got to make friends with people I might have bumped into many times over the last thirteen years–people who might have been across town…or in the very next room.

We live in an age where people are almost afraid to walk down the street and meet their neighbors…but there are people out there–kind, like-minded people–just waiting to be met. Despite the alien disguises we might don, we’re all human. And, as Twitter only further proves, at Dragon*Con, we’re family.

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The Princess and the Dragon*Con (part 1 of 10)


This entry would have happened earlier, but as many of you know (how many mothers do I have on Twitter?) I came home from Atlanta and promptly got horribly sick. In the last week I’ve caught up on a lot of TV…and I relived Dragon*Con. I searched YouTube for recordings of the parade. I posted all my pics to my photo album, looked through Chris’s and Judy’s, and waited patiently for the fan photos that tagged me on Facebook (okay — which one of you thought I was Sherri’s niece?). I unearthed the famous Thriller video. And I made notes. There’s no way I can ever write a con report that would do this year’s Dragon*Con justice. Last year, I did a top-ten list. Hey! A top-ten list sounds like an awfully good idea, doesn’t it? Let’s start with number one:

 
1.)  Wait…it’s OVER?!? Thirteen years ago, my boss at Waldenbooks dragged me to my first science fiction convention — a little place called Dragon*Con. (I say "little" because it was only in two hotels: the Westin and one other.) One of the first hard-and-fast realizations that hit me was the One Universal Truth of Dragon*Con (apart from: "You have to go down to go up") was that it was impossible to do everything. There was just no way. You had to pick a few authors you really wanted to meet, a few stars you really wanted to see, a few panels you really wanted to attend, and everything else was a bonus. In fact, over the years I found that the more I didn’t plan, the more fun I had. Bonus.

A few years ago, the dynamic changed. I started running with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s crew. Derek got me invited as an official guest so that I could moderate the "Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon" — a panel that inevitably packed the Goth track room to its gills every year. The Dark-Hunter Companion hit the streets. I started walking with the Dark-Hunters in the parade. Derek asked me onto other panels. I became friends with some of the staff. They recognized me in the green room. Even after all that, I was surprised when I got my schedule emailed to me to find that I had four panels, an autograph session, and a reading. I suddenly felt like somebody, and it was a little scary.

I shifted my priorities a bit and concentrated on the one thing I wanted to do — hang out with my roommates Chris (Kit) McCormick and Leanna Renee Hieber. Kit and I have known each other since I was 10 (see also: The High School Reunion essays). Leanna and I met a few months ago at BEA, which seems ridiculous even as I type it. Our souls have known each other for a lot longer. This was her first Dragon*Con, and the first time I’d been able to spend quality time with Chris in forever and a day. My first priority was them. My second priority was my schedule. Everything else would be a bonus.

Only…when one is in the parade, one doesn’t get to see the parade. When one is required to speak on panels, one cannot stand in line to attend any others. When one’s autograph session runs an hour long, the Walk of Fame shuts down before one is able to get over there. I hoped I would run into random celebs in the green room or at various parties. Other than Paul McGillion and a brief Anthony Daniels sighting, the only famous people I got to hang out with were the ones I already knew. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But at a con the size of Dragon, one does look forward to making impressive new friends.

At the very least, I walked the Art Show. I bought one piece of art from a new artist. I saw both Exhibit halls and bought both a corset and a Buffy skin for my iPhone (thank you, Pendragon and Dark Horse, respectively). I never saw Felicia Day or William Shatner. I never got to tell Jason Momoa my funny story. I did not have my picture taken with the Doctor Who costume crew (though we did catch a great 10th Doctor on the first day). I did not participate in the world-record-breaking Thriller Dance. And I did not set foot in the Walk of Fame. 

The second I drove up to the Atlanta skyline I took a picture, savoring the moment of anticipation because I knew it would be over sooner that I wanted it to be…and I was right. I had prepared for MONTHS, and here it was, and we were going to have a fabulous time. And we did. A time beyond measure.

The part I didn’t count on, however, was that because I had left so much undone, up until yesterday I didn’t feel like I had actually gone to the convention. It was a really weird feeling.

Especially because my convention experience was in absolutely every other way AWESOME.

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Post-con Princess

This is the scene in my dining room.

It’s looked this way for a week now, because I came home sick from Dragon*Con AND I’M STILL SICK. I’m a healthy person. I’m not used to these illnesses that take two weeks to clear up. After seven days I have to admit…this is driving me nuts. Granted I’ve caught up on pretty much all the TV I’ve ever wanted to watch — my two new favorite shows are "Castle" and "Lie To Me" — Nathan Fillion just makes us authors look GOOD, and Tim Roth is, well, TIM ROTH, only he Hugh Lauries it up a bit.

There’s a Dragon*Con Top Ten post coming. I have notes and everything. I’ve even started writing it. But I also have to get back to other work, and I don’t want to leave you guys hanging.

So here are my pics from yes, the Best Dragon*Con Evar, and here are my best friend and Con Roomie Chris McCormick’s. The Sideshow was standing room only. The Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon had over 1000 people. Our signing lasted two hours. The parade was marvelous.

And I still maintain it was worth every minute of my current misery.
*sneeze*

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Sideshow Flyer

Made of Awesome. Thanks, Chuck! xox

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Dragon*Con Scavenger Hunt!

AnthologyBuilder’s Dragon*Con Scavenger Hunt

Our secret agents are stalking the convention circuit looking for AnthologyBuilder badge wearers. If they spot you, you’ll receive a free gift certificate or anthology!

  • WorldCon
  • Dragon Con
  • World Fantasy
  • Philcon

Badges are reusable, so collect and save them for future events!

How to Win at Dragon*Con:

Since DragonCon is so huge, we’re offering a new way to get prizes: Email a photo of your badge collection (or post it online and send us a link) to badges@anthologybuilder.com. We’ll distribute prizes to the first 100 people who participate. The best prizes will go to photos that:

(1) include multiple badges
(2) include a costume
(3) are unusually inventive

Want to be a Secret Agent?

Send an email to 007@anthologybuilder.com telling us which convention(s) you’ll be attending. Our staff will assign you a mission and provide a small compensation for your time.

My Awesome Badge
:

Jonesing to create your own anthology? Check out AnthologyBuilder’s archives. I’ve got six stories listed there…it’s a good start!

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