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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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SFWA Announces 2013 Nebula Nominees

The official Press Release:

2013 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2013 Nebula Awards nominees (presented 2014), the nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Best Novel
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)
 
Best Novella
‘‘Wakulla Springs,’’ Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13)
‘‘The Weight of the Sunrise,’’ Vylar Kaftan (Asimov’s 2/13)
‘‘Annabel Lee,” Nancy Kress (New Under the Sun)
‘‘Burning Girls,’’ Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com 6/19/13)
‘‘Trial of the Century,’’ Lawrence M. Schoen (lawrencemschoen.com, 8/13; World Jumping)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)

Best Novelette
‘‘Paranormal Romance,’’ Christopher Barzak (Lightspeed 6/13)
‘‘The Waiting Stars,’’ Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
‘‘They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass,’’ Alaya Dawn Johnson(Asimov’s 1/13)
‘‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters,’’ Henry Lien (Asimov’s 12/13)
‘‘The Litigation Master and the Monkey King,’’ Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/13)
‘‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’’ Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons 7/1 – 7/8/13)

Best Short Story
‘‘The Sounds of Old Earth,’’ Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed 1/13)
‘‘Selkie Stories Are for Losers,’’ Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons 1/7/13
‘‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’’ Kenneth Schneyer (Clockwork Phoenix 4)
‘‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,’’ Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)
‘‘Alive, Alive Oh,’’ Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Lightspeed 6/13)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Doctor Who: ‘‘The Day of the Doctor’’ (Nick Hurran, director; Steven Moffat, writer) (BBC Wales)
Europa Report (Sebastián Cordero, director; Philip Gelatt, writer) (Start Motion Pictures)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, director; Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, writers) (Warner Bros.)
Her (Spike Jonze, director; Spike Jonze, writer) (Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, director; Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn, writers) (Lionsgate)
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, director; Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, writers) (Warner Bros.)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
When We Wake, Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin; Little, Brown)
Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Hero, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
September Girls, Bennett Madison (Harper Teen)
A Corner of White, Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine)

Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Samuel R. Delany
Special Guest: Frank M. Robinson

About the Nebula Awards

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. Voting will open to SFWA Active members on March 1, and close on March 30.  More information is available from http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/how-to-vote/.

 About the Nebula Awards Weekend

The 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend will be held May 15-18th, 2014, in San Jose at the San Jose Marriott. The Awards Ceremony will be hosted by Toastmaster Ellen Klages. Borderland Books will host the mass autograph session from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 16th at the San Jose Marriott. This autograph session is open to the public and books by the authors in attendance will be available for purchase. Attending memberships, and more information about the Nebula Awards Weekend, are available at http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/nebula-weekend/. Membership rates increase on March 1. The Weekend is open to non-SFWA members.

About SFWA

Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.

Since its inception, SFWA® has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers’ organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 2,000 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals.  Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards® for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.

Media: For information on obtaining press passes, interviews with nominees, or questions about the event itself, please contact SFWA’s Communications Manager, Jaym Gates, at communications@sfwa.org.

#sfwa

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Nominate Princess Alethea…for everything!

Okay…not *everything*. But I am happy to report that I have more than one work this year eligible for award nominations! Yay!

*Hero, October 1, 2013

Best Novel /Andre Norton Award

HERO (Fantasy, YA) — Second in the Woodcutter Sisters series of fairy tale mash-up novels. (Think “Once Upon a Time” meets “The Princess Bride”) Saturday Woodcutter is a girl with a sword who is mistaken for a boy through the whole book. She has to rescue Peregrine of Starburn (mistaken for a girl through the whole book) from a witch and a dragon. IT’S AWESOME AND FUN.

*

Best Short Story

There are a handful of original short stories from my WILD & WISHFUL, DARK & DREAMING collection that just released from Alliteration Ink. I will list them all here, starting with my top choice, and what categories they would fall under (depending on which Awards you’re nominating for).

Wild & Wishful, Dark & Dreaming--story collection by Alethea Kontis* “The Were Four” (SF/F, YA) — On Dec 21, 2012, the world didn’t end. Instead, 90% of the people on Earth became a were-creature of their totem animal. This is the story of four high-school aged, misfit, REALLY LAME weres (platypus, piranha, sloth & mosquito) who enter a local Battle of the Bands.

“Blood, Sweat & Tears” (Contemporary, Horror) — The story of a young Romany woman who ghostwrites bestselling novels with a magic potion literally made of of blood, sweat, and tears.

* “Alligator Baby” (Fantasy, YA) — Deep in the Louisiana Bayou, a young orphaned girl petitions the local voodoo priestess to find out what really happened to her parents.(Really hard for me to choose between this one and “The Were Four”–I love them both!)

* “183 Million Light Years from Home” (SF) — A tired young father on a dark, nearly-deserted stretch of TN highway accidentally kills a stranger…and saves the world.

“Confessions of the Ex-Future-Mrs. X” (Fantasy) — A secret, in-depth interview with the woman who almost married Willy Wonka.

*

Also Original to WWDD:

* “Deathday” (Fantasy, Poetry) — A dark love letter to the soul of a girl’s mother on the day she was born.

 

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My 2013 Baltimore Book Fest Schedule

ACK! Too many things going on!

I will only be appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival one day: this FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27TH.

Here’s my schedule:

3:00-4:00pm YA Paranormal/Romance
Location: Maryland Romance Writers Pavilion

4:00-5:45 Workshop: What’s New in Young Adult Fiction: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Location: SFWA Pavilion

I will be around all day (or, as soon as I can arrive) to sign books (I’ll bring as many copies of HERO as will fit in my suitcase). It doesn’t look like there will be much time between my panels, but fear not — I will definitely stick around until everyone has gotten their books properly defaced by MOI!

#SFWApro

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Do Not Miss This

The gorgeous Nebula of Kim Stanley RobinsonI posted a Very Important Essay on the Waterworld Mermaids site today called “How to Lose an Award Without Losing Your Mind.”

All you folks who were there with me (in body and spirit) the night of the Nebula Awards — you’re not going to want to miss this one.

It’s personal. Which means it’s a good one.

xox

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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,
MOM

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ENCHANTED Nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award

I’ve been hoping and wishing and praying for this moment since I bought four boxes of books from my friend back in 2004.

Now, it’s official.

ENCHANTED has made the final ballot for the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I…I don’t even know what to say. Except maybe “thank you” to all the SFWA members who nominated me.

THANK YOU.

My little fairy book is among some great company. (To see the full list of Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury nominees, click here.)

I only hope Miss Andre — and my grandmother — are looking down on me right now with pride.

And now I have to figure out how to get to San Jose in May.
(Cue “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”)

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

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Jan 26th SFWA Music & Authors Event

Here’s the official flyer for the Jan 26th SFWA event at Mad City Coffee in Columbia, MD — if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us. I promise to have some HERO swag!

(I also hear their hummus is to die for. Must remember to bring after-hummus breath mints.)

SFWA Jan 26th 2013 flyer

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Miss Andre and The Norton Award

(This blog is part of the SFWA Norton Award Blog Tour.)

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I don’t really get nervous speaking in front of crowds anymore. Public speaking is one of those skills that can be exceptionally difficult to learn, but well worth braving that initial terror to get to the other side. The biggest benefit is that when someone in an organization is forced to find people who will shamelessly stand up in front of a crowd, your name is easily at the top of the list.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entertained a room full of people at the drop of a hat when a speaker or guest of honor is late or forced to cancel. Stretching your improv muscle is important. Warming up crowds can be a really great game. Telling stories is fun!

And yet, the moment I was asked to present the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, I was both honored to my toes and scared to death.

This should not have been a big deal. Two minutes on stage in front of a bunch of people I know and love. The spotlight wouldn’t even be on me, it would be on the well-deserved recipient. So why was I freaking out?

Because this time, it was personal.

How on earth was I supposed to sum up what Miss Andre meant to me in two minutes…or less? (A tired audience wants you to announce the award and get your behind off the stage tout suite.) I wasn’t sure it was possible.

I only knew Miss Andre for the last few years of her life, but it was one of the most important and valuable friendships I’ve ever had. I wrote in her library, High Hallack. I listened to her stories and her advice. We rolled around in desk chairs and laughed while she read aloud from a book of crazy answers kids had submitted on tests. I enabled her book habit by sneaking her new-release catalogs, even after her personal assistant asked me to stop.

It was a friendship that never would have happened if David Drake hadn’t ordered me to go visit her, and I hadn’t been brave enough to write her that first letter.

Miss Andre and I talked about writing, but we never really talked about her published work specifically. She loved being a librarian above everything else. She didn’t know what to do with an adoring fan, but she knew exactly what to do with a budding young writer in need of guidance and a place to work.

The last time I saw Miss Andre was in 2004 when she sold off High Hallack, piece by piece, to fund the Andre Norton Award. I missed the official sale day, but she still encouraged me to come by and personally helped me sift through the aftermath. It was heart-wrenching. The empty shelves looked like a war zone, but a good chunk of the research library was intact. We spent hours putting together four huge boxes of books (one of which turned out to be my most prized possession…but I didn’t discover that until years later). She sent me a Chinese New Year card in February of 2005 (Miss Andre had cards for every occasion), telling me that the benefit anthology project I was working on was a worthy cause. When she died that March, I was in the middle of a book expo and someone mentioned the news to me off hand. I cried for twenty-four hours straight. The first official Andre Norton Award was presented to Holly Black in 2006.

HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIT ALL OF THIS IN TWO MINUTES?!?

I lost a lot of sleep. I shared my anxieties with my lovely and patient Nebula weekend roommate, Kate Baker. I wrote down some thoughts on a hotel pad and managed to whittle my presentation down to six sentences. It still felt too long. Kate read it over for me and gave it her blessing. I practiced presenting the award out loud, over and over, while donning my glittery dress for the ceremony. There were bets as to whether or not I was going to cry on stage. Kate told me it was all right if I did. Rose Fox gave me a handkerchief, just in case.

And I made it through.

I congratulated Neil Gaiman in passing, as he walked off the stage and I walked on. My legs shook like crazy and I steadied myself on the podium, holding Rose’s handkerchief in a white-knuckled grip. I had written down my six sentences, but I didn’t need them. I remembered to breathe. I spoke loudly and slowly. When I thought I would choke, Connie Willis nodded and gave me courage. When I came to the end, my voice wavered, but I did not cry. And when I announced that the award went to Delia Sherman I smiled in earnest, for her name was the one I had been practicing out loud in the hotel room.

My mother always called Miss Andre my guardian angel. I remember she had a star framed on the wall, just opposite the door of the library, one of those fancy documents from the Star Registry indicating the celestial body that someone had named after her. Regardless of whether that star is recognized by any professional astronomical organization, I know Andre Norton is up there. I am 100% sure she was shining down on me that night. I only hope I did her proud.

(You can watch the ceremony here and see for yourself–I appear right around 1:11:00.)
Click here if the embed code for the video happens to die again.)



Video streaming by Ustream
For me, the best thing about those six sentences is that it got people talking about Miss Andre and the Norton Award. I swapped some great stories that night with SF luminaries I’ve admired my whole life. As far as I’m concerned, this award cannot have enough praise or visibility. I encourage you all to spread the word about the Andre Norton Award to your friends, teachers, and librarians. Especially the librarians.

For the past two weeks, members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have been blogging about the Andre Norton Award–its origins, its importance, and recent books worthy of the accolade. I’m honored to be the final essay in the tour…but I’m not sure I can convey the sheer importance of this award in one blog post, even though I was allowed far more than two minutes and six sentences this time.

What can I say? It’s personal.

 

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Click here for a complete list of past Andre Norton Award recipients and nominees.

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Norton Awards Blog Tour Schedule:
Dec 1 ~ Erin Underwood
Dec 2 ~ Sherwood Smith
Dec 3 ~ Norton Jury Interview by Jenn Reese
Dec 5 ~ Malinda Lo
Dec 6 ~ Lee Barwood
Dec 7 ~ Nancy Holder
Dec 11 ~ Peni Griffin
Dec 12 ~ Beth Revis
Dec 13 ~ Jenn Reese
Dec 14 ~ Diana Peterfreund
Dec 15 ~ Alethea Kontis

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Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Yes, my debut fairy tale novel Enchanted is eligible for the 2013 Andre Norton Award.

Click here to find out more about Enchanted.

 

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My 2012 Baltimore Book Festival Schedule

It’s the time of year again — can you believe it? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the 2012 Baltimore Book Festival! (Sept. 28-30)

I will be making appearances on Saturday and Sunday at both the Maryland Romance Writers Stage and the Science Fiction Writers of America tent. The festival is free to the pubic (though you’ll probably have to pay to park somewhere). There WILL be books for sale. Come see me!

Saturday, September 29

Time: 12:00pm
Panel: TRENDS AND READINGS IN YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE
Location: Maryland Romance Writers Stage
Panelists: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Em Gardner, Alethea Kontis, Lea Nolan, Leanna Renee Hieber
Summary: Authors will talk about what’s hot in young adult romantic fiction and share readings from their latest works.

 

Sunday, September 30

Time: 1:00pm
Panel: WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
Location: SFWA Tent
Panelists: Don Sakers, Sara Beth Durst, Richard White, Jack McDevitt
Summary: Authors share inspirations for plots, characters, and settings. Nothing is too bizarre to discuss!

*

Time: 5:00pm
Panel: MAKING OLD STORIES NEW
Location: Maryland Romance Writers Stage
Panelists: Kate Dolan, Natalie Damschroder, Stephanie Dray (Stephanie Draven), Laura Kaye, Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber
Summary: Authors will talk about how to create engaging fiction based on fairy tales, folklore, mythology, and history, and how to make those old stories new, fresh, and exciting.

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