S. O. C. K. S.

I get it from my mother.

You know, that thing we do as writers, where a word like “concinnity” gets stuck in your head, and when you’re reading through the manuscript six months later, the copy editor has wondered why anyone would use concinnity once, never mind thirteen times in one chapter.

My first live, on-air TV interview was seven minutes long. I used the word “absolutely” thirteen times.

Yeah, a lot of authors do it…but I’m smart enough to admit that I come by it honestly. Genetically.

It is what it is.

I’m not a huge fan of the saying: “It is what it is.” Not sure why…probably because I’m a dreamer by trade who earns a living things that are not. Things aren’t what they seem all the time, and contrarywise. But it’s vernacular now, and as a student of language–not just English–I can respect the phrase’s right to exist.

Lately, though, Mom’s taken to saying, “It is what it is. S. O. C. K. S.”

I had NO idea what she meant by this–I figured it was some meme she saw on Facebook, or some family story I hadn’t heard yet, or an acronym from the latest, greatest self-help guru. I didn’t worry about it…I knew I’d hear the story at some point.

This evening, we had a guest for dinner. While cleaning up, Mom and the guest were discussing something that made the phrase appropriate. “It is what it is,” said Mom. “S. O. C. K. S.” After a pause, she said to the guest, “That’s Spanish, you know.”

I was taken aback. It IS Spanish, of course! Eso si que es…which means exactly that: It is what it is. I speak conversational Spanish, and French, and less Greek, and even less Romanian…but it had never occurred to me that Mom might be speaking Spanish. I felt rather foolish.

“It’s easy to remember,” Mom continued, “because it’s spelled just like ‘socks.'”

I resisted the urge to laugh out loud, lest Mom think it was at her expense. She had been spelling out S. O. C. K. S. And that’s exactly what I had been hearing. She wasn’t speaking Spanish, not really, and never had been.

My ear for languages? I get that from my father.

Eso si que es.

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In Which I Have a Problem With Reality

Over at the Waterworld Mermaids today, I discuss my present issue with Reality.

I do encourage you to pop on by. I could really use the advice.

Click here to read “The Harsh Light of Day.”

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Because Mom Might Not Have Seen This

…here’s the story of my awesome Dragon Con & how I hurt my thumb, with pictures!

Now, back to writing. New Chapter to you SOON.

Also…got the first box of HERO in. It’s gorgeous! And the endpapers are GREEN!

Only guess what they forgot to include in the first printing?


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Letter to My Child, Alethea

Yes, Sweetheart, I AM your biggest fan (don’t tell Dad!)

When you were little and they told us you were a gifted child we were so worried that we would somehow let you down as parents. It’s hard enough knowing what to do with a normal child but a gifted one?? What they didn’t tell us was that we need not worry. You would eventually learn to deal with life in your own special way. You would see the good in all things and make magic out of mayhem. Your mind would be able to create fantasy worlds full of love that you would put down on paper and share with the world.

Every time I read your blog or one of your stories I’m amazed at your talent. I am thrilled at your love of life and how you make every moment count for something. You have become a beautiful woman both inside and out. You have much to share with the world and you have found your medium, the written word.

I AM very proud of you. I am proud to say, “THAT’S MY DAUGHTER, PRINCESS ALETHEA!”

We were with you at the Nebulas. We found the live feed on the internet and were not surprised to find you front and center of the camera where you have always been most comfortable. Dad could not remain quiet but had to send you a text. We wanted you to know that we were with you. We will always be with you.

Much love, forever and ever until the end of time,

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35 Things You Didn’t Know About Alethea’s Mom

She posts as “Mom Kontis” in blog comments. Her favorite color is red. She loves the number 35. And so, for Mothers’ Day, I asked her to write for me 35 wonderful things about herself that the world didn’t know. It was hard for her to stop at 35.


35 Things People Don’t (Might Not) Know About Mom Kontis:

1.) 35 is my favorite number. I’ve used it throughout my life. I’ve probably used it 35 thousand times! Or maybe 35 million times.
2.) I’m not a collector of anything except maybe friends.
3.) Money doesn’t impress me – character does.
4.) I love to travel. I can pack in 5 minutes but I hate to unpack.
5.) Just because you’ve died, don’t think we’re done talking. I talk to my old (gone) friends all the time.
6.) I skipped high school but went to college.
7.) I’m a “jack of all trades” and want to know something about everything.
8.) I love to read.
9.) I believe in Karma.
10.) I never have enough time and hate it when I feel my time is being wasted.
11.) It drives me crazy when people don’t use their car blinkers. Please let me know what your plans are when you are driving or I will be in my car screaming at the top of my lungs “Your blinker’s broken!”
11.) I have a “pay as you go” cell phone and have never spent more than $80-$100 in a year and have never run out of minutes.
12.) It drives me crazy to see two or more people (especially a couple) out having dinner and playing with their cell phones/iphones and not talking to each other. Are the people on the other end more important than the people you are with?
13.) My home phone does not have caller ID, or call waiting. Call waiting is just rude. If you hear a busy signal (do you even know what it sounds like?) you know I am home but speaking to someone else. Call back.
14.) I believe in reincarnation.
15.) I don’t know how to whistle. George says that’s how he’s going to find me in our next life (if he remembers!)
16.) I love to troubleshoot and/or figure things out.
17.) I love quiet and I meditate.
18.) I love learning new things and meeting new people.
19.) I still iron clothes – including my husband’s handkerchiefs.
20.) I prayed for wisdom so I might have the answers to help my children with all their life’s problems and realized the best thing for me to do is keep my mouth shut.
21.) I love to make people laugh but it always amazes me when they think I’ve said something funny and actually laugh.
22.) I quit smoking. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
23.) I miss my mother, especially on mother’s day. I sent my mother a Thank You card on my birthday. I learned that from a dear friend.
24.) I can play pool and people think I’m good but actually I’m just lucky.
25.) I love making up rules (go watch “The 12 rules of Christmas” – YouTube)
26.) It drives me crazy to see you driving and on your cell phone. I’m worried for your safety and mine!
27.) My favorite color is red.
28.) I love to play games and will never let you win.
29.) When I first meet people they usually tell me their entire life stories in the first 10 minutes.
30.) I have a hard time remembering names so I try harder.
31.) I balance my check book every month and it reminds me to do my monthly breast exam.
32.) I like to change recipes and make them “my own.”
33.) My favorite vacation place is Greece or where ever my children are.
34.) My favorite car is my old Cadillac 1990 (and I’m still driving it!) My new favorite car would be a Lincoln MKZ (MK being my initials and the Z is for Alethea’s first Alpha Oops book – “The Day Z Went First”
35.) I believe in miracles; I experienced one firsthand on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje with my mother.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Please feel free to leave a comment wishing my mom a very happy mummbledymumble birthday!

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Heart-Shaped Box

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As you know, Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated in my family between father and daughter. Every year, my father sends us all something cheesy and wonderful. This year, my gift was a gorgeous Italian hand-carved alabaster paperweight (pictured here). I love it!

Though this is very much my father’s tradition, I suspect my mother had a hand in it, and not just because she signed her name on the card.

My mother happens to be one of the very few people who has read  my favorite story I have ever written to date. I’ve sold it, but I can’t tell you about it yet. All in good time.

I will hint, though, that it might have to do with a certain princess whose heart was to have been put in a box…

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Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Congrats on surviving 38 awesome years of fun times and freak-outs.

Here’s to 38 more!


Your Princess Daughter
(the middle one)

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Superbowl Smorgasbord

I went to bed with a migraine last night and woke up with it this morning–to say I’m feeling decidedly out of sorts is an understatement. While I hobble like an old woman through my daily chores and decide which fairy tale to read for tomorrow that won’t kill my brain, I thought I’d share with you one of the recipes from our amazing Superbowl Sunday.

There are a bunch of Eagles fans in this apartment, so we didn’t care too much about who was playing the game and concentrated instead on what we were going to eat. Each of us chose a dish to make, so that everyone would be sure to enjoy something.

Our Munchie Menu:
Deviled eggs (Ariell)
Nanny’s potato salad (Kassidy)
Strawberry Pizza (Kassidy)
Spinach & Artichoke Dip (Joe)
Wings (Joe)
Date Layer Bars (Lee)
Mom Kontis’s Sticky Garlic Spare Ribs (Lee)
Buddy Valastro’s Bananas Foster (Joe)

We decided on all of these things earlier in the week and made the definitive list on Saturday — we made sure we had all the recipes and put together a list for the grocery store. And then we realized the dishwasher was broken.

Oh, fun.

I emailed a service request to the apartment complex on Sunday morning, and we headed off to the store.  When we got back, we decided what needed to be prepped first (the Strawberry Pizza crust) — Kassidy started working on that while I did the dishes and Joe cut up the massive pile of ribs we got from Costco into finger-sized pieces.

Kudos to all of us for being an amazing work force — with a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet and no dishwasher, we did a darned fine job and EVERYTHING turned out wonderful. We did scrimp on the chicken wings and bought ready made since we didn’t find any good wings at the store, and we didn’t end up making the bananas foster because we were all SO incredibly tired (and stuffed) by the 3rd Quarter that no one cared.

It was tough to say which dish was the star of the show because everything was so delicious — personally I think WE were the stars of the show for pulling it all off. We all went to bed tired, exhausted and grumpy…but we had a wonderful time.

I put a link to the bananas foster recipe in the menu — here’s the one for Sticky Garlic Spare ribs. The key to this one is getting good spare ribs — the first time we tried this one the ribs were too large and unevenly cut and it was disappointing. This time, it was PHENOMENAL. My mother got a priest drunk to steal this recipe, and it was totally worth it. The best part is how incredibly easy it is to make.

Mom Kontis’s Sticky Garlic Spare Ribs
A bunch of Spare Ribs (boneless are fine–cut finger size, if possible)

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup soy sauce

Boil the ribs for 45 minutes, and then drain. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Pan fry the ribs in syrup (you’ll probably need two pans) until the syrup becomes thick and sticky. (Watch carefully — if the sugar reduces too much, it will burn!)


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Caption Me!

In catching up on things that never got finished during the holidays, I was going through some Christmas photos and came across this:

It just begs for a caption contest, doesn’t it? Give me your best shot — post your best caption (or captions) for this in the comments on my website (let’s say…by Valentine’s Day), and I’ll send a copy of the Dark Faith anthology to the one that makes me laugh the most.

I rarely post these caption-needy pics like this — the last one I put up was the famous John & Krissy Scalzi pic from Penguicon in 2009. They are a lot of fun, aren’t they? I really should do these more often!

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