Alethea Kontis

Bon Voyage: Locations in Writing

Notre Dame MontrealBonjour la lagune!

This past Sunday–my last official day in Vermont–my sister and her husband took me on a drive up to Montreal for the day. Despite life’s craziness, I’d thankfully had the presence of mind to grab my passport in anticipation of such an adventure.

Vermonters drive up to Montreal regularly: for an event, for the day, or for a weekend getaway. My brother-in-law used to deliver lost bags from the Burlington airport, which took him into Montreal so often that he makes both a fantastic driver and tour guide. We ate sushi and Greek food, visited the Notre Dame Montreal to light a candle for my nephew, and even stopped at a Chapters and Indigo so that I could sign some books (hooray, Canada for stocking all my YA novels!).

Mom and Dad and Soteria and I moved away from Vermont when I was six, so I hadn’t…
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No Such Thing

Vermont in the FallI do not believe in Writers Block. I do not believe in The Muse.

Writers who reference these things frustrate me.

I believe in the power of sitting my lazy butt in the chair in front of my computer and forcing myself to work, however much I don’t feel like it. I believe in Momentum.

Princess Alethea’s First Law of Writing Momentum: A writer at rest stays at rest. A writer in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.

And boy, can the Universe dole out some forces.

In the last nine months, I have dealt with a lion’s share of this crap–literally nine months from the posting of this blog–it started with driving my sister to Baltimore on Christmas Day so that she could have emergency spinal surgery at Johns Hopkins. Since then I have dealt with the illness and recovery of both…
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Using Your Power for Good

Princess Alethea MermaidA few years ago, I played a joke on the internet.

I was meeting up with my Aunt Theda in Baltimore — as many of you know, my Aunt Theda Kontis is a well-known ENT and Plastic Surgeon. She has her own practice, but she still teaches and consults every so often at Johns Hopkins. On this particular day, she let me know that it would be easiest to meet up with her by coming through the ER entrance.

So, for funsies, I took a picture of the ER sign in the Johns Hopkins parking garage and said something flippant.

Within 45 minutes, I had about 28974 Tweets and FB messages asking if I was okay. I received texts from multiple friends, including my sister, and then finally one from Aunt Theda (who had talked to my sister) that said, “You should call your mom.”

So I called Mom, who…
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Denny S. Bryce Wins 2014 Golden Heart

In which our very own Denny Mermaid receives the 2014 Golden Heart Award for Romantic Suspense…and we couldn’t be prouder! (As the following video will attest...)

CONGRATULATIONS, DENNY!

Mermaids & Friends: Deborah Harkness

Hello, all — Alethea Mermaid again here, in the lagoon with an author celebrating the release of her new book tomorrow: Deborah Harkness!

We’re all very excited about THE BOOK OF LIFE, the highly-anticipated final installment of her bestselling All Souls Trilogy.

Deborah joins us in the lagoon today to answer some questions about writing, and her new book. Take it away, Deborah!

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In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!

There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some…
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Mermaids & Friends: Corinna Smith

I have a huge girl crush on Corinna Smith. She’s incredibly talented, kind, a great teacher, and loves kids…and she’s gorgeous to boot! I admire this woman down to my toes–er–fins. Really…she’s just magic. (She’s even a mermaid. I swear!) And her birthday was July 5th — happy belated birthday, Corinna!

Corinna had her violin stolen shortly after she joined up with the Adam Ezra group, who launched a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to buy her another one. She plays like a dream and is a phenomenon on stage…you just have to see her to believe it.

So hie thee to an Adam Ezra Group concert if they happen to be playing in our area. In the meantime, feel free to friend Corinna on Facebook…and check out her awesome interview, right here, right now!

[Edited to say: I think I always knew making music was like writing…but I wasn’t quite sure JUST how much until I read Corinna’s answers here. See? Magic.–AK]

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Lazy Mermaid…Lazy Writing

Alethea MermaidSo…I have this HUGE issue with lazy writing.

It is so annoying to me when an author works to set up a convoluted setting or plot line at the beginning of his or her story, and then instead of following the thread logically through to the end, makes up something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and solves the problem with that instead.

Anton Chekhov said: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

His comment was more about including extraneous information. From my perspective, it should also apply the other way around…if you include the gun. USE THE GUN. Don’t have the murder victim hanged in the end for no good reason.

There’s a book that’s a PERFECT example of this that I use…
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Life After the Six-Fingered Man

Inigo Montoya: Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.

Westley: Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.

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The goal of every aspiring writer is to be published.

Maybe that publication comes in the form of a review, an op-ed, an article, a short story, or–*gasp*–even a NOVEL. Hooray! You’ve finally published a novel!

Now what do you do with your life?

Welcome to the Inigo Montoya Dilemma. In The Princess Bride, Inigo dedicated his life to hunting down the six-fingered man who killed his father. After the six-fingered man was dead (spoilers!), Inigo found himself at a loss as to what to do next.

I think every one of us feels that moment in life–after college, after children,  after the marathon, what have you. Writers especially are keenly aware of this. They publish the novel, and…
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Mermaids & Friends: Sandra Tayler

Today, the Mermaid Lagoon is proud to host the fabulous Sandra Tayler!

I had the honor of being a backer of Sandra’s Kickstarter campaign for her second picture book, The Strength of Wild Horses. I asked Sandra if she might stop by and share a little bit about her experiences, both as a writer of books for headstrong young girls, and as the proud owner of a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign.

Take it away, Sandra!

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* What inspired you to write picture books?

My daughter was in the middle of a particularly difficult kindergarten year. It was the kind of year that has visits to the principals office and lots of conferences with teachers. Through it I watched my daughter start coming to the conclusion that she was a bad person because she was always in trouble. I knew she needed a story that let her see that ideas are separate from ourselves and that they can be steered in good ways or…
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May Day, Play Day

I welcome you this first of May A day for work, when work is play The storms of April passed on through I’m thrilled that I survived…are you?

*giggle* Yes, I did just write that poem while I was sitting here. Silly, I know. But it’s something I created that didn’t exist before, however small. And that counts for something.

Poetry was my first love as a young writer (when I say “young”, I mean “eight years old”). Anything could be a poem. There were no rules. Or, rather, there were rules, but only if you wanted them.

April is (was) National Poetry Month — on my blog every day for the entire month of April I posted one of my favorite poems, aong with a story about how I loved it and what it meant to me. Some of the poems were written by women, some by men, some by me. Some were short, some were long. Some had better background…
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