Tags: cool stuff

Snow White

Call for Pannell Award Nominees

Spread the word!!

The Women's National Book Association wants to know about bookstores in the United States that excel at inspiring interest in reading, as well as creatively bringing books and young people together.  They will present the annual WNBA Pannell Award to two bookstores--one a general bookstore and one a children's speciality bookstore--at the 2010 BookExpo America.  Each recipient will receive a check for $1,000 and a framed piece of original art by a noted children's book illustrator. Nominated stores have the option of making their submissions to the Pannell jury electronically or by sending hard copy materials by mail.

To nominate your favorite bookstore (even your own!) that works within the community to instill the love of reading in young people, please provide the following:

  1)  Name of store
  2)  Address and phone number of the store
  3)  Contact person at the store, including email address (most important!)
  4)  A brief reason (just a sentence or two) of why you believe the store is deserving of this award
  5)  Your name and affiliation to the nominated store.

Please send your nomination to mgjames@eastwestliteraryagency.com.  Deadline for nominations is Jan. 15, 2010.

The Pannell Award was established in 1981 by WNBA, a century-old national organization of women and men who work to promote reading and to support the role of women in the book community.


Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

His bones hit the stones with a crack as the guard shoved him to his knees. They weren't normal playing cards; they all had strange metric road signs on them. And they spoke French.

"Brian Keene," said a terrible voice. A familiar voice.

The burlap sack was ripped from his head. On the throne before him sat the most beautiful woman in the world. Her blood-chestnut hair fell in a shimmering cascade below her generous breasts. Her short red skirt revealed several miles of leg encased in several miles of black-and-white striped tights. The ruby platform slippers matched her dress, the four-inch heels of which he knew masked the blood of men's hearts exceptionally well. Her glistening diamond tiara reflected the bright sunlight and scattered rainbows around her, complimenting the fire in her eyes and the glittery flames that decorated her face, surrounding them. Her crimson lips parted in a gorgeous smile he couldn't help but reciprocate, and he damned himself for his lack of willpower at her feet. Those perfect teeth had fed on many a meager soul before his own, and they would feed on many more when his time on Earth was finished. Which he imagined would be about five minutes from now, give or take. 

She was the Good Fairy who had given him life. She was the Muse who'd ruined it when he'd asked her to. And now she was the Reaper, here to claim what was rightfully hers.

Five minutes or no, Keene decided to spend the rest of his life being true to himself. "You remind me of a princess I know," he said without being spoken to.

"I get that a lot," she said, sotto voce, and then, "My little Bunny Foo Foo. Whatever am I going to do with you?" 

Keene winced. He hated when she called him that. He also hated rhetorical questions.

"Off I sent you, skipping along through the forest, with one warning. Do you remember what that was?"

"Something about field mice?" he asked.

The right shoe shot out and kicked him square in the jaw, the rubies on the toes scraping deep into the skin of his cheek. With his hands bound behind him he couldn't assess the damage, but he could already feel the wetness, taste the blood. As suspected, her shoe still looked perfect, unmarred, and hotter than hell. "I said, 'NO MORE ZOMBIES.'"

"Is that what it was? I'm so bad with French." Expecting the shoe this time, he managed to peek up her skirt before his face hit the stones. Skull panties. The guards propped him back up on his knees.

"I should turn you into a goon," she said.

Keene spat out a mouthful of blood; it shaped itself into a heart on the stones at her feet. "I believe that is the established method."

"And yet, my dearest bunnykins, something about you compels me to go old school." She rapped her emerald scepter three times and bellowed, "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!"

It all happened with a quickness that commanded respect. A playing card obliged and bent himself in half like a table so that Keene's head could be pushed down upon him. He saw the giant shadow of the executioner behind him and had not even the time to wince as the sharp blade bit into his neck, snicker snack. Ninety seconds, he knew. Ninety seconds before he lost consciousness forever. Forever. She smelled like forever.

His head rolled in the pool of blood at her feet and he looked up at her, his new vantage point affording him quite the view, and with his last breath he did the one thing he knew she'd hate, the one thing that grated her nerves more than anything ever had. He'd miss that damn cat.

"Why are you smiling?" she asked Keene's head. "WHY ARE YOU SMILING?!?"

He loved that it was a question she'd never have the answer to. As it happened, he did know a princess, one who had placed his name in a bag with salt and herbs and planted it at the base of her ivory tower by the light of the full moon. She knew a thing or two about magic. And he knew a thing or two about zombies.

He thought about that princess in his last 140 characters before the world went black. Now if only all her father's horses and all her father's men hurried up and got to him before he bled out completely he'd be home in time f--


Today is Brian Keene Must Die day. Brian will be killed in dozens of horrifying ways in blogs across the blogosphere for a very good cause. If you enjoyed this humorous little vignette, please consider making a donation to the Shirley Jackson Awards.

Snow White

Happy Anniversary, Soteria & Charles!

Soteria & Charles have been married two years today -- hooray!

The rest of us remember what was one of the coolest weddings in history -- held at the Charleston Aquarium, my father officiating, Soteria walking down the steps in her customized designer gown to a string-version of The Pixies' "Where is My Mind?", my nephew cracking us all up during the "speak now or forever hold your peace", Monica's amazing flower arrangements complete with fish in the vases, and the dancing. All the wonderful dancing. Including this one. Remember this?

The song is "Burning Down the House" -- the demo tape got yanked off YouTube, but the tutorial is still there:

And here is a clip from the actual dance being performed at the wedding, complete with some of us jokers wearing masks like the tutorial taught us:

The best part, though, was never captured on video -- like most truly best moments are. But those of us who were there remember someone handing the wedding soundtrack to the bartender at the after party, and someone else pushing the tables aside so we could all jump up and do an impromptu recreation of the dance right then and there.

Because all the best people's lives include impromptu musical numbers.

Happy anniversary, Soteria & Charles. Here's to many more awesome years. xox

(Want to wish them happiness yourself? Stop by the Dixie Dunbar Facebook page and send your love!)
Snow White

The Fairest of Them All

Dude...of course I'm totally talking about me. Yeah. That goober there in the picture with the chibi eyes and the face of a Muppet. The one and only Alethea Madeleine Kontis, a.k.a Princess Alethea. Moi.

Yes, Alethea is my real, mom-and-dad given name. The Princess title was inevitable...like a freight train down the track, it was simply a long time coming. Contrary to popular belief, I never wanted to be a princess growing up. I wanted to be an actress and a writer...both of whom were free to dress like a gypsy and run around the yard speaking in a British accent.

Mostly I blame my current Princesshood on Jill Conner Browne who, during a visit to Ingram in March of 2007, bestowed upon me a Big Ass Tiara and proclaimed me Princess of Ingram. When I signed up for LJ they told me I couldn't use my own name as someone had already syndicated it, so I had to come up with something else. BAM. At my best friend Devin's wedding a year later, I made up nametags for Devin's sister, my sister, and myself, declaring that we were Princess Megan, Princess Soteria, and Princess Alethea. I left it stuck on my laptop for a very long time. When I was asked to come up with a title for my review column at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, what name could have been better than Princess Alethea's Magical Elixir? Similarly, when the sideshow idea for Dragon*Con sprang to life like Athena from my cranium...well, you see where this insanity has led.

Type in www.princessalethea.com. Yeah, I went there. Figured if I was gonna do it, I was gonna own it.  I took physics -- that freight train has a lot more inertia than I do, and it would be futile to stop it. A lot less fun, too.

Ultimately, I've found it's easier for people to call me "Princess" than remember how to pronounce Uh-LEE-thee-uh, and I'm totally okay with that. If we only see each other at the odd convention, you really shouldn't have to work that hard. We're there to have fun, not embarrass each other.

Now, according to my magic mirror (which I sometimes refer to as "Google Alert"), there are two other Princess Aletheas on these here intarwebs. One is a Princess in the SCA (Alethea Eastriding, Crown Princess and one-time Queen of the East), and the other is a fan fiction writer. I should not be confused with either of these women -- who I'm sure are very much fabulous in their own special ways.

But let's be clear -- like it says up there at the top -- all the ways about here belong to me.

Snow White

Fiction Sale -- "The Monster & Mrs. Blake" to Story Station

Hooray! Just got notified that "The Monster & Mrs. Blake" has sold to The Story Station! (bev_vincent has a story up there now.) I'm super-excited about this one, because it's one of my absolute favorite stories...and it's for kids!!

Summary: Jeremy Blake has a big imagination. He's eleven years old. He has a monster under his bed. And the monster's getting bigger.  He's too ashamed to tell any of his friends or his father about it, but he finally confesses the details to his mother...who knows a lot more about dealing with monsters than Jeremy ever dreamed.

I liked Story Station because their guidelines said they wanted "stories like Goonies," and that's just awesome. No details yet on when the story will go live -- I'll let you know as soon as I hear.  Squee!!! I really can't wait. You guys are going to LOVE this one.


What I Did Last Night

I bought the masks at Michaels almost a month ago 'cause I thought they were cool, but I didn't know what to do with them. I blame Janet Lee (papillon_enrage ) for putting Wonderland on my brain. I am really, really happy with how cool and creepy they came out.

Next, of course, will be Glinda and the Wicked Witch.

Edit: Just to be clear, I painted and decorated these. The original masks were simply plain papier mache.

AK Reads

Like Falling Off a Bike

There was a minute -- one full, sixty-second interval -- when I had that fish out of water "what the heck am I doing here?!?" feeling. I filled out the "Noises Off" audition application with my name and address....and nothing else. It asked for us to list the last three productions we'd been in, and in what capacity. What WAS the last play we did in High School? The Diviners? No...it was something else, I'm sure of it, but  I wasn't about to ask Patrick and have the rest of them laugh at me. So under Previous Experience I wrote on the top line in big letters: "NOT FOR A REEEEEEALLY LONG TIME."

For other 149 minutes of the audition, I was strangely at ease. Maybe because it was Patrick directing, so I didn't feel like I was being judged. Maybe because it was community theatre and not Carnegie Hall. But I've shaken like a leaf in front of friends and high school audiences in the past. Maybe it's because I've been rejected by so many magazines I don't feel threatened anymore. Maybe it's because I've done massive amounts of public speaking in the past few years and I no longer have any fear of addressing an audience of 20...or 200. (Did you see that the "Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon" at Dragon*Con is being held in one of the Centennial Ballrooms? Holy CRAP! I've made it to Main Programming!!)

I SUSPECT I spent the evening in a happy Zen place because if any of my friends had said, "Hey, Lee, wanna come over tonight and read a bunch of scenes in over-the-top British accents?" My answer would have been an emphatic "Hell, yes! I'll bring the Red Rose tea."

I had SO MUCH FUN. Possibly way too much fun, if that's possible. Patrick had said he wanted over the top...so that's exactly what he got. Most of the time, I didn't even feel like i was auditioning. I introduced myself to the actors both on and off the stage -- I felt like I was there to keep everyone happy and excited, and to read a few scenes as a favor for a friend.

I made it to the second round -- call backs are tonight at 7pm. I brought make-up and different shoes with me to work and I have no idea what the heck I'm going to eat for dinner...which probably means either nothing or this handful of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans I happen to have here in my bag. I'm fine either way. I can't wait!!

Oh -- and people have asked me if I have my eye on any particular part. Are you kidding? Of course not! Once Upon a Time I stole the entire Duchess scene in Alice in Wonderland as the Cook with one line ("Pepper!"). There are no small parts, only silly people.

A special thanks to all my blog-reading peeps, my Facebook friends, and the Twitterverse for the constant stream of good wishes and support. This is so much easier to do with you guys behind me. I have the best friends ever. xox


Discovery Night Launch

Yesterday morning on the radio I heard that the Discovery shuttle launch had been postponed until 11pm or midnight that night, and I seriously debated getting online to see if I could book a quick ticket to see my folks in Titusville. I've seen a shuttle launch live now so it's officially crossed off my list, but a night launch is something special to experience.

Happily, my parents (who now get ringside seats to all the launches) experienced it first hand for those of us who could not be there, and Dad snapped a few great pics.