Alethea Kontis

On The Quality of Skin

I’m going to begin this blog post the way I hate people starting emails: with an apology.

I am sorry. I was wrong.

I have, in the past, on numerous occasions, stated vehemently that I do not read reviews for my books. Yes, I will skim through them if my editor sends them to me, because she has taken the time to collect them and copy them and mail hard copies to me, and ignoring her hard work would be a disservice. But I do not want to be one of those people who checks Amazon or Goodreads every day hour minute for affirmation. I do not want to yell and scream and tilt at windmills because some reader called me out for something they obviously misconstrued, or gave me one star in revenge because I cheated during the sixth grade spelling bee. I do not want to be weeping…
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Write What You Know

“Write what you know.”

Ugh.

I hate this cliche bit of writing advice. I first heard it as said to Jo March in Little Women, and then again and again as I dove into the deep, Olympic swimming pool of the writing world.

The trouble with this advice, as with all cliches, is there’s quite a bit of truth in it.

Which is so annoying.

How does one write about magical worlds and special girls with secret powers and evil queens and glittery unicorns when one lives in THIS world? I mean, look around. This world is full of dirty clothes and dirty dishes and traffic jams and bathroom scales and taxes. Taxes, for goodness sake.

Ugh. No way.

The work around this (for me) was to make my life magic. This sounds impossible, but it’s really not. What do you want your forte to be? Become the expert in…
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Happy Solstice!

I love this day of the year. THIS, more than January 1st, is my New Year’s Day.

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, followed by the longest night. (Thus the Yule Log, to light the darkness and keep evil spirits away.)

But what this means ultimately is that after tonight, THE DAYS START GETTING LONGER.

Winter is so difficult. Many of us love the darkness (especially those of us who suffer from migraines), but it’s tough to fight those Circadian Rhythms that tell us to be tired when it starts getting dark outside. It feels like 10pm, but it’s only 6:30. You know what I’m talking about.

Then there’s SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the general depression that the holidays bring to a lot of people…its a tough time of year, folks.

Today I would like you all to take a minute to yourself and light a candle. If you don’t have a candle handy (silly person), then sip a…
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Do You NaNo?

Welcome to November 1st, my watery denizens. You know what that means!

Yes, in writerly circles, November 1st marks the advent of NaNoWriMo— National Novel Writing Month. In short, those who sign up (I believe you can still sign up today) pledge to attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I’m not sure why November was chosen as opposed to say, August, when there are no Holidays and people are expected to go to parties and shop for the holiday season of their choice…but that wasn’t up to me.

My handle on NaNo (as it is affectionately called) is Princess Alethea. I will also be tweeting some of my progress and writing sprints under the #NaNoWriMo hashtag.

I have participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2005, and I have yet to get to 50,000 words. But I still participate every year, and I am still proud when I look at my word count come December 1st.

Now, there are…
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Semantics by Alethea Kontis

“What are you doing out here?”

It had taken him long enough to find her. Holly felt Jacob’s touch on her shoulder but did not turn around. Time was too fleeting. She wanted to revel a little longer in the chill of the dark Spring night, the giggle of the creek below her, the crunch of the grass under her feet. Charlie’s mind hadn’t gotten the grass quite right yet.

“I was scolded for talking to the children,” she said. “So I came out to catch fireflies by the water.” She scooped up a lightning bug that had rested on the branch beside her, serenely blinking like an empty street on the day after Christmas. Holly remembered Christmas, and the little girl who had dreamed about it once. Holly had taken her name.

“Technically it’s not catching when you don’t chase them,” said Jacob.

“Technically it’s not chasing when they…
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#amwriting

There’s a hashtag on Twitter for authors who are writing: #amwriting.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been #amwriting lately, and it’s gone to my head. I need to cut it out. Get with the discipline. Have some accountability.

“Good lord, this sounds like Weight Watchers,” I say to myself at this point, which may sound a lot like what you’re saying to yourself right now.

Sometimes I get annoyed when writers post their word metrics. But why? I can read them or ignore them, at my whim. What’s important is that the writer is WRITING, and those metrics hold them accountable to not only themselves but the rest of the world.

And so, for at least the next month, I challenge you to come along with me and post your word metrics. Be honest. Be realistic. Do it every single day. Remember — even six words is better than nothing. Just like…
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FIX THIS!

There are a lot of books out there.

In the days of Dickens and Hawthorne, writers were worth far more than a dime a dozen (a whole dollar, at least). It was a romantic profession, revered by many and envied by more, so much so that many an impoverished author had a benefactor or two to support them as they honed their craft.

Even taking into account the ones that have gone out of print, time alone has grown the number of books in existence exponentially. Digital publishing has doubled that exponent. Many well-to-do writers aren’t as well off as you’d think. We have to get things like day jobs to support ourselves. As for benefactors…well, there’s always Kickstarter.

What kills me is when an author–I won’t name names, but I will qualify that these authors I’m referring to make enough money to be only authors and nothing else–releases a new,…
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Love, Comma, Yours Truly

“Know the rules, so you know how to break them properly.” –Dalai Lama

*

Depending on the time of day and the amount of alcohol involved, writers can go on for hours debating the differences between “voice” and “style.” As a part time copyeditor, it is my job to recognize an author’s style…and then not mess with it (unless it conflicts with house style–just like in poker, the house always wins).

One of the elements unique to each writer’s style is the comma.

Commas are used for lots of reasons. They can be used in lists of one thing, two things, and a third thing. They are used when addressing someone. They are used when interjecting a thought into a middle of a sentence. Most commonly, however, they are used to designate a pause in the rhythm of the text.

Most commas are legal. I feel confident in saying that because…
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Asking the Right Questions

Hello, world, and welcome to June!

It doesn’t feel like this year should be half over yet. I know that the older we get the quicker time flies, as each second becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of our overall lifespan…but six months into 2011? Really?

And even more incredibly than that…how on earth did I manage to interview 30 authors on my website in the month of May?

It all started out innocently enough: I had a laundry list of authors on my to-do page that needed to be addressed, and I had my fairy goddaughters for Bring Your Child to Work Day. It was a match made in heaven. We came up with a list of fun and silly questions and decided to send them to everyone.

Yes, everyone.

Within a week I had twenty sets of answers from fiction authors whom I’ve known and respected for a…
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Miss Instigator 2011

I blame Saturday morning cartoons.

Even my teenage fairy goddaughters agree: cartoons today stink. The mid-eighties were the best time to be a kid on Saturday morning. Jem, Kid Video, Dungeons & Dragons, The Gummi Bears, The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo, Strawberry Shortcake (the original, non-crappy version)…the list goes on. You have a favorite. You know which one. (Feel free to post it in the comments!)

Even our commercials were cooler. McDonald’s pulled a Weird Al Yankovic on “Für Elise,” the Schoolhouse rocked,  and Fruit Wheats was the “in” cereal. Nowadays, all the fairy goddaughters know is which horrible prescription medication can get them a piece of a civil lawsuit and how much they can save on car insurance.

My little sister and I ate up those cartoons. We’d watch for hours on the weekends. After the VCR was invented (yes, shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs), we…
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