Fun Stuff for Good Readers

Much to my dismay (and yours, I know), ENCHANTED won’t be out in stores until May 8th of 2012. It seems like a long time to wait, doesn’t it?

Of course, in this day and age, we have a lot of other ways to get our fix for books we can’t wait to read (like Tamora Pierce’s and Robin McKinley’s next books).

If you can’t wait to read ENCHANTED, you can always read “The Unicorn Hunter,” which is the backstory for the character Ashes-on-the-Wind. Who is Ashes? Well, she doesn’t appear in ENCHANTED, but her story is integral to the Woodcutter Universe. Which means you just have to pick up John Skipp’s DEMONS anthology and find out!

You can also go onto Goodreads and click on ENCHANTED as a book you’d like to read. My friend (fellow author Cassie Alexander) brought this to my attention last week. I checked, and as of this morning, 546 people have marked ENCHANTED as to-read! I have to say, this far away from the release date, I was floored by the response. So was my publisher. So THANKS , GUYS! YOU ROCK!

The third thing is one of my favorite places to play: Twitter! Leanna was telling me about the random giveaways she does when she reaches certain landmarks of followers…I think this is a great idea! I’m almost to 1900 followers right now — when I reach2000, I’ll give away a print collection of my short stories. How does that sound? But you must be following me on Twitter to enter! Look for the tweet to RT…I’ll be posting it soon!

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Unfollow the Yellow Brick Road

Yesterday, a few people and I were having a discussion about the drama associated with “unfollowing” on Twitter. I’ve discussed this phenomenon before, here on this blog, but I wanted to bring up a few new points.

Here are some reasons I’ve stopped following people on Twitter:

1.) constantly listing their location (damn you, foursquare!)
2.) constantly Blipping music
3.) copious flirting with his/her girlfriend/boyfriend (whom I also follow)
4.) excessive pessimism (don’t bring me down. I’m good enough at that.)
5.) excessive chatter about pets (I follow you, not your cat)
6.) constantly RTing people I don’t follow for a reason (I won’t hit the button first time you RT them. After that, all bets are off.)

The people I wish I *could* unfollow are all of my friends who have one of those unfollow applications. Yes, there are apps out there who will tell you when someone unfollows you. (Apparently there are also ones who will auto-tweet when someone unfollows you…and whoever designed that one should be shot.)

So far, no one has been able to give me a good reason for hosting all these follow-drives, or any good reason for knowing who just doesn’t feel like reading your nonsense today. If you’ve got one, shoot.

Otherwise, if I find out you’re using one of these apps, beware. I love you guys, but I really don’t want to enable that sort of behavior.

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If The Future’s So Dark, Then Why Am I So Excited?

Dark Futures is here, folks! In fact, it’s so here that Jason Sizemore and Dark Quest Publishing have set up their very own Dark Futures website. Be sure to bookmark it and check back frequently — they will be posting interviews with the contributors, stories-behind-the-stories (you know how much fun I have with those), and announcements of all sorts of events and signings all across the country.

My contribution to this one was a collaboration with Kelli Owen (then Kelli Dunlap) called “Black Hole Sun.” (You may remember me talking a little bit about it here.) As promised, Kelli and I have been Tweeting madly from Seth and Sunni’s Twitter accounts, commenting and complaining about the Last Days of the Earth before the black hole strolling through the galactic neighborhood ends the World As We Know It.

Follow Seth on TwitterFollow Sunnie on Twitter

If you are a fan of the book, or a fan of the contributors, or a fan of the publisher, or a fan of Jason, or–heck–just a fan in general and would like to fly a banner on your website, here’s one for your use:

Thank you for your time and attention. Please, sit back and enjoy the darkness.

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Princess Alethea’s Sharktopus Review

I had some of the most fun I’d had in a long time last night. It was a veritable MST3K SharktopusCon on Twitter. Up-to-the-minute popcorn passing up and down the Eastern seaboard as we all tried to outdo each other’s cleverness and summarily died in fits of giggles. My favorite part might have been when Sharktopus himself replied to one of my tweets. Because of course the sharktopus should be Live Tweeting…why not?

Eddie told me he was looking forward to my review….but how could I reminisce about something that’s so once-in-a-lifetime? And, for that matter, something I’ve already Twittered about? The answer is simple. Here, for your reading amusement, are my Tweets From Last Night. (If I had time I’d splice Joe’s in too, but my stomach still hurts from all the laughing and I do need to actually pretend to be social today.)

The premise of SHARKTOPUS, if you couldn’t guess, is that the Navy gene-spliced together this killing machine (a team led by Eric Roberts and a daughter he calls “Pumpkin”). The navy loses control, Sharktopus goes on a killing spree, and both bad acting and horrible special effects awards ensue.

Thank you to everyone who was tagging #sharktopus last night. I’d watch a cheesy movie with you guys any day of the week.

(times are approximate)
9:00pm — Hellooooo, sharktopus!
9:05 — No actual sharktopi were harmed in the making of this movie.
9:07 — LoL! RT @tomokato: Underwater Sombrero would be a great band name.
9:13 — What accent is Pumpkin trying to play, exactly? (She was trying to be British and failing worse than Kevin Costner in Robin Hood.)
9:17 — A magnificent bird is the pelican…
9:21 — This MOVIE is armed and dangerous.
9:27 — I really hope that chick was paid per giggle.
9:31 — Damn! I was tweeting when she took her hair down and glasses off. That was quick.
9:35 — Burning question: are Stacy’s boobs as real as her eyelashes?
9:40 — You’ve got legs. Go get your own dinner.
9:43 — Punch bug WHITE!
9:50 — Remembering high school biology… So does #sharktopus have two mouths and no… EW!
10:00 — #sharktopus is a ninja AND a pirate.
10:05 — Now where did I put those boat keys?
10:10 — Am disappointed that Pez’s head did not pop backwards.
10:13 — “Delivery for a Mister…Sharktopoulous?”
10:17 — For Sale: Gently used jet ski.
10:22 — “Don’t let his death mean nothing.” Like everyone else’s…
10:25 — …and now #sharktopus has pirate radio equipment. Score!
10:27 — Santos was a virgin?
10:30 — I think #sharktopus needs a laptop.
10:31 — RT: List of things that does not stop #sharktopus 1) automatic weapons. 2) yelling NOOOO! (even if you have abs)
10:32 — Huh-uh. The choreographer is SO fired.
10:37 — My stomach hurts. I’m still laughing about the horrible dancing. *snarf*
10:38 — RT: Guess what, dude: yes, it CAN hide. It lives in the ocean. And the ocean is BIG. Like really REALLY big. Also, you’re an idiot.
10:45 — That Man has never shot a gun in his LIFE. Hahahahahha
10:46 — #sharktopus has been taking human anatomy lessons. Well done!
10:49 — I am still unsure as to #sharktopus ‘s motivation.
10:50 — We’re going to need a bigger…river?
10:51 — RT@sharktopus2010: @AletheaKontis My only motivation was to kill all the people who were trying to frame me as a killing machine. #CHOMP #TeamSharktopus
10:52 — LOL #sharktopus just answered my tweet. Best. Movie. Ever.
10:54 — But will #sharktopus find love? And have babies?
10:55 — Pumpkin is still talking and not wearing a bikini. WHY?!?!
10:56 — Because there are so many OTHER kids in the river yelling “Mooooom!”
10:57 — No shirt = BUSINESS.
10:58 — Dude the password is pumpkin.
11:00 — Aaaaaand I’m spent.

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Networking Nitwittery

Look, folks, it’s just common sense. You don’t ask a woman how old she is, you don’t ask anyone how much they weigh, you don’t talk about politics or religion, and you don’t tell someone that you know they’ve unfollowed/unfriended you on the internet.

There is absolutely no situation in which this doesn’t make the other person feel like a jerk, even if they had a valid reason (most people do). And there is absolutely nothing the other person can say to you now that’s not going to look like an excuse.

This is especially horrific if this other person IS YOUR FRIEND IN REAL LIFE.

With all the crazy social networking that’s available now, some folks are obsessed with their electronic footprint so much that they forget about REAL LIFE. You know, the sun that shines and the wind that blows and the rain that falls. The people who smile at you and talk to you and shake your hand. Want to know who I met yesterday? Heather. She works at Starbucks. Want to know how? After a brief conversation while she made my frappaccino, I introduced myself and shook her hand. “You know everybody,” said Fairy Goddaughter the Younger. “That’s because I introduce myself,” I said.

I like people. I like getting to know people. I like finding people who share my interests, and who bring topics to the table that I don’t know much about: exotic world travel, spelunking, ancient musical instruments of Africa. The internet paved the way for the children of the twenty-first century to meet these people all over the world. It sparked a global conversation. It made me feel that I could go anywhere in the world and not be a stranger.

And then it became high school all over again.

I do not understand people on Twitter who only follow people that follow them. Similarly, I do not understand people on Facebook who refuse to accept an invitation from someone they don’t already know in person.  The latter makes a little more sense, if you want to only keep up with family members or keep things “private,” but dude, seriously? If your profile is on the internet, it’s not sacred or safe. Nothing is. And chances are you probably have half these people in your phone book anyway.

Some of those family members on Facebook I wish I didn’t know. They act like idiots, and in any other world I wouldn’t follow them. But I need to follow them so I’m not caught quite so unawares when my mother calls me to tell me someone is in jail. Or pregnant. Or leading a revolution halfway around the world.

All of you people subscribing to any of those services (or who have just memorized their friends lists) that tell you when someone has unfollowed/unfriended you, CUT IT OUT RIGHT NOW. You are doing harm to yourself, both mentally and socially.

I’ve unfollowed a couple of friends, a few times. I’ll give you two examples, and I’ll name names, because these two people are my FRIENDS IN REAL LIFE. If I saw them walking past, I would cross the street to give them a hug. I care about them dearly and value both their insight and opinion. But they both blog A LOT. I’m talking about Jay Lake and Cheryl Morgan.

Back when I was at the day job, I could only check in to Twitter periodically. Between the two of them, Jay & Cheryl could fill up my entire feed for pages. It sucked that I couldn’t read what they were actually saying between their automatic “new blog post” entries, but they could still @reply to me and we could chat that way. And we did. I have their websites bookmarked and we’re also friends on Facebook — it’s not like we were out of touch. Plus, you know…there’s this whole email thing. Jay might have wondered why I added him on Twitter five or six times. Hopefully he didn’t. And if he did, he never said anything. Know why? Because it doesn’t matter. We’re friends in REAL LIFE.

I would like to point out a big difference between Social Networking and REAL LIFE. What you get on Facebook and Twitter is the Real Me, but it’s only about 60% the real me. It’s the Princess Alethea you’d meet while mingling at a party. I don’t blog every time I have cramps or burst into tears (the latter far more often than the former). I don’t talk about money problems, or publisher frustrations, or personal issues. I don’t talk about why I don’t have pets or children. When horrible things happen in my life, I don’t really want you to know. You know why? Because *I* don’t want to look back on my blog and remember that.

One day there are going to be so many visitors to this blog and comments, I won’t be able to check them all. I’m going to miss something clever my mother says — just like I missed someone’s MySpace wedding invitation that one time — and I’m going to be sad about that. But it’s something that happens, and I accept that.

I want people to check in with me because I’m fun and sunshiny and smiley, and occasionally I fall into amazing opportunities…or manholes the size of Mars…and I do it with grace and aplomb and fairy dust. History is written by the victors. I have the ability to write the version of my life I like to pretend I live. If you don’t follow me or friend me or stalk me or whatever, that’s totally fine. I’m sure you have better things to do.

There are jerks out there. You follow them on Twitter. You’ve retweeted them when they asked you to. They have done horrible things to decent people, and you don’t know this because they don’t say, “Hey I cheated on my girlfriend today” or “I swindled my best friend out of $600” or “There’s a twelve-year-old girl in my basement.” What you see of their lives is all they choose to tell you. I simply choose to tell you more. I still don’t tell you everything.

You’re welcome.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go call my mother. xox

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Dark Futures Now Available!

Trade paperback, 278 pages of dystopian SF…Dark Futures is here!

Lost track of which short story this is? Me too. (That’s why I keep this blog.)

Inside Dark Futures is “Black Hole Sun”, my short story collaboration with Kelli Dunlap.

According to the online bookstores, Dark Futures is already available. (only $10.76 at Amazon and B&N) Isn’t technology great?

Kelli and I will begin Tweeting the end of the world from Seth and Sunnie‘s Twitter accounts on September 30th. Follow us on Twitter to continue their story, or type in hashtag #blackholesun (which I swear I will try to remember to do).

Not had enough fiction with Soundgarten titles? There’s a great book with the same title out this summer: Black Hole Sun by fabulous YA author David Macinnis Gill. I loved Soul Enchilada and can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one. It’s got space crabs!!

What can I say? Great minds think alike. (About the title, of course. Not the crabs…)

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What It Takes

It all started with an innocent Tweet, as many things this day and age do.

After a long, magical weekend at Horrorfind, a group of us retired back to Kelli & Bob’s house. The weather was beautiful. Worn out as we were, we decided to just sprawl all over the front porch. There were no theatrics or rip-roaring conversations; mostly we just huddled in silence not wanting the weekend to end. From where I sat, leaned up against the railing at the opposite end, I took a picture so that I would remember that moment forever. And I tweeted it.

And so Awesome Porch was born.

At first it was just an inside-joke, a beloved memory, an endearment between friends who already had pet names for each other: Dickie, Tomo, the gypsy, the hippie, the princess, Anubis, Qwee. And then it started being referenced by other people. Greg Hall mentioned it during his interview with Kelli for The Funky Werepig; he wanted to know how he could be a member and get his own nickname. We all laughed — it’s not like we all carry cards or have a dress code or secret handshake or anything…apart from the odd Anubis gang sign…and the stripey socks…

The joke has been made more than once that if Awesome Porch was a reality show, it’d be watched religiously. Not that we’re not already doing our best populating photo albums and creating Facebook Applications and adding each other into Twitter groups and writing each other into stories. It was the pizza place that clinched it, though. Kelli placed our order for delivery, and instead of saying, “Is that the house with all the Halloween decorations still up?” the guy asked Kelli, “Is that the house with the porch with all the awesome people on it all the time?”

It seems we’re now locally famous. How about that?

And then there are the people who end up tripping into a coveted spot on Awesome Porch, achieving a hug and a nickname and immediate entre into the core group.

Meet Chuck, a.k.a. Justin, a.k.a. JP. Kelli even called him Big Mac for a time, because he worked at McDonald’s, but to us it was just Justin. Justin who lives across the street, who has two younger siblings, who likes Buffy & Angel, and who has someone else’s kidney. Justin’s a good kid. We like Justin.

And then, one ill-fated Saturday night,  Justin threw up all over the bathroom. ALL over the bathroom. I’ll spare you the stories about the light fixture and the broken toilet seat. Needless to say, the hippie is a God.

The next day, when Justin walked back over to prove to us all that he was alive and well, he got quite the ribbing. I was in the living room, listening to the porch through the open front door as they decided what terrible teasing nickname we could give Justin that would torture him for the rest of his life.

“Chuck!” I yelled through the screen door. It was simple, really. Obvious. The porch laughed. And so Chuck was born.

Last weekend, Kelli bought a new toilet seat. As penance, Chuck had to install it. Click on the picture below to forward through the photographic montage.  We’ve still got the old one — I think we’re all going to autograph it and bestow it upon him at the next Awesome Porch gathering.

Toilet seat: $10.

Tossing your cookies until you’re passed out on the bathroom tile: all your pride & humility.

Getting a nickname on Awesome Porch: priceless.

Have you got what it takes to be a member of Awesome Porch?

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Magic in the Air

I had a very surreal moment on Sunday. It was one of those moments where you almost fall asleep, and then you open your eyes and think, “Wait…THIS is reality? Holy crap that’s AWESOME!”

Living here in this house–this house with an Awesome Porch and a Snuggle Couch and a Needy Cat, two of which have their own Twitter account–has been like attending a party I never have to leave. It’s just this constant dynamic state of motion and emotion, full of amazing and smart and beautiful people who add to the hilarity. We are all characters who enhance the plot–none of us are just along for the ride.

It’s magic–this house is full of it–and it’s better when shared.

I woke up laughing for the second day in a row this morning, remembering Kram and his faceplant into the street on Saturday night. The whole scene couldn’t have been pulled off better had it been choreographed–I honestly believe Chevy Chase Himself would have given the boy an award had he been present. It wasn’t just the fall, or that it happened in the middle of a serious conversation I was having with the Gypsy, it was that Kram tripped, fell, and just laid there in the street for what had to have been a full minute.

There was silence as we all watched him. Kelli and I by the Alien Lesbian Cow fence, his friends from the sidewalk above him, and the house & contents of Awesome Porch.  Bob slowly sauntered down the front walk, crossed the street to where Kram laid, and bent down.

“So, how’s that working out for ya?”

Kram got up, brushed himself off.

“What do we say?” the Gypsy yelled at her son from the fence.

Kram raised both hands to his audience. “It’s all good. I’m good. It’s all good.” And his adoring fans hooted and hollered as he walked off the field of play.

There was so much more than that moment, though. There always is. There were pansteaks and pigtails and nail polish. There were stripey socks and toe socks and Twister. There were Ninja Turtles and Snuggie herpes. There was ice and rain and a trip to the adult store and another funeral. There were tummy aches and belly laughs and too much cuddling and not enough sleep. On the last day, there were cookies.

That’s where the Gypsy caught the magic on camera.

Cookie time!

See the magic in the air?

Qwee’s birthday was Thursday, and her favorite cookie in the whole world is a Greek pastry called koulourakia. And as any refugee princess worth her salt never flees without her recipe box, I decided to make them for her. I also decided it would be fun to have a little help from my friends.

When Kelli took the first picture, she laughed and said, “My god, there’s so much flour in the air, the flash keeps catching it. It looks like you’re surrounded by snow. Or ghostly orbs!”

Personally, I prefer to think of it as magic. Fairy dust. Princess glitter. There’s nothing to say that’s not what it actually was.

Awesome Porch is a magic place. Things happen here that don’t just happen everywhere. We’ve all come to accept that. The fun part is, those things still continue to surprise us. Because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Nor do they expect bullhorns and flashing red lights at 8pm on a Sunday.

The house was quite–the first time it had been quiet for weeks. Kelli had found The Philadelphia Story on AMC, heated up a bowl of leftover potatoes, and watched the movie with her eyes closed. I got comfy with a blanket & pillow on the floor. Kram sat on the other end of the couch, playing Mario but still commenting on the film. Lilwenchi sat in the rocking chair with a laptop and headphones, content in her own little world. Until the bullhorns and flashing red lights.

“We’re surrounded!” yelled Kram, leaping to his feet.

“It’s SANTA!” yelled Lilwenchi.

“What the hell?” said the Gypsy, and we all ran out onto the porch in time for the second fire truck to pass by, this one bearing a smiling and waving Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The bullhorn wished us a Merry Christmas. “Hi, Santa! Hi, Mrs. Claus! Merry Christmas!” The four of us jumped and yelled and waved and cheered. The fire truck paused in front of the house long enough to honk and run the siren for us, and the third truck did the same when it passed. The rest of the neighborhood stayed dark. We wondered if anyone else bothered to enjoy the impromptu parade.

Not that it matters what anyone else thinks. Because we did.

We don't need no stinkin' sleigh!

We don't need no stinkin' sleigh!

Awesome Porch = still awesome.

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

Do you think she looks like me?

Do you think she looks like me?

Princess Alethea’s new book reviews are now up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. This month I discuss:

Title: Quatrain
Author: Sharon Shinn
EAN: 9780441017584

My friend Gayle held this book tight to her chest on the day she gave it to me. “I know you really like Sharon Shinn,” she said, “but I have to say, it’s a bit creepy how much you look like this girl on the cover.” Beyond the cover, however, four goodies lay in store like a Whitman’s chocolate sampler for any fan of Sharon Shinn…

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
EAN: 9780439023498

I got Hunger Games and Catching Fire at the same time. I polished off Hunger Games — the first novel of Collins’ trilogy — in one sitting. I allowed myself to stay up until 3 a.m. on a school night just to get to the end. I waited almost a whole week before starting Catching Fire, and I forced myself to read only one part at a time (there are three parts) to space it out a bit (and so I wouldn’t yawn all the way through work the next day). As folks who follow me on Twitter will attest, I finished it right around 3 a.m. as well on that third day…

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