Category Archives: Alethea Kontis

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 stories or illustrations.

More than a few were from Ogden Nash, because he’s my favorite.

There’s just something about poetry that transcends. Poetry runs the spectrum from children’s books to greeting cards to Shakespeare. There is, quite literally, something for everyone.

I don’t think poetry should end when April does. We should always find room for little ditties in our lives.

Tell me: Do you have a favorite poet or a favorite poem?

Bonus challenge: Quick! Write something fun!

xox

Pardon Me, Have You Seen My Mind?

Alethea MermaidGrace Under Pressure.

I wish this is how I could describe myself. But my parents named me “Truth” — “Grace” is my cousin. (Technically I have a couple of cousins named Grace, one of whom worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.)

The “Pressure” part, though? Shoot. I’ve got that down pat.

i was that kid who did all her school work at the last minute, even though my parents offered to help me do anything I needed. I was the author who promised to write a book in four months when the first one took me five years. I was the nerd who ran the light board and memorized everyone’s part in the play, qualifying me to understudy for anyone at the drop of a hat.

Even now, looking back, I’m not entirely sure I could chalk all that up to laziness or procrastination. Yes, I put things off…but in doing so I turned that last minute into a powder keg. That fire under my butt forced me to come up with new, fresh ideas in a short amount of time and execute them to the best of my abilities. Some of the results were pretty amazing, too.

I would have totally rocked on a Reality Show.

The up side to all of this? I am incredibly flexible and open-minded, and I am enthusiastic (aka: “stupid”) enough to say Yes to just about anything.

The down side to all of this? Anxiety. Oh my GOSH, the anxiety.

It fuels me…but it sometimes makes me feel like I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. I even have all sorts of fun anxiety dreams to go with this pressure…only they happen after the event is over. Hey, if I can keep it together when I need it, I’ll take it.

It’s also amazing to see what happens when I’m on what I call “Manic Autopilot.” A perfect example happened this past Monday: I was in the middle of packing up my apartment to move to Florida. I was getting phone calls from my mom to discuss new options for places to rent, and phone calls from my agent to discuss brainstorming new story ideas with a new publisher. It was all GREAT AND GOOD STUFF, but it was all happening at once.

Oh, and did I mention that we’re leaving for Niagara Falls on Thursday? Yeah, that too.

In the middle of all of that an email came through, and I misread it. Manic Autopilot took over and I wrote an essay, posted it to this blog, and shared it on social media all in what felt like 3.5 minutes. I dusted off my hands, made some coffee, and moved on to the next thing.

Only…the email wasn’t about posting a blog. The Mermaids don’t even POST on Mondays anymore. *sigh* At least I wasn’t stepping on anyone’s toes…I was just performing on an empty stage.

Part of me thinks it’s hilarious that my default stress reaction is to do MORE work. Part of me wonders if I should be worried about this.

What about you? Do you guys have any interesting reactions to stress or anxiety?

Star of the Really Small Screen

Princess Alethea Rants "The Giant & The Tailor"Good morning, everyone!

I have a new Fairy Tale Rant up on Youtube this morning. Check it out! http://youtu.be/fwqmrUjlRLoEpisode 27: In Which Princess Alethea Rants about the Grimms’ fairy tale “The Giant & The Tailor” (2:58)

Can you believe I’m on Episode 27 already? How time flies…

Back in February, I talked here about some of the basics of vlogging I learned by trial and error. Vlogging really lends itself well to “learning by doing.” As you learn and grow on your vlog, your audience learns and grows with you.

I’ve also learned about new opportunities in vlogging…I mean, if you have the skills, use them, right?

Instagram now has a way for you to post a video instead of just pictures…I think this was a response to the Vine program (which I’m not familiar with, but I do know Instagram!). I tried this out on the day of World Book Night, since it was a lovely day outside and I was already dressed like a princess. I just said something like, “Happy World Book Night, and happy birthday Shakespeare!” — that 10 second video then got posted to Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook…where it was seen by all my friends & fans, and then was shared by the World Book Night folks.

Score one for exposure!

There’s also a new platform called Patreon — a new way for folks to become Patrons of the Arts. I’m still diving into it, but you can put up *something* every *however often*, like a piece of art or a song or a video or a podcast. People then pledge (like PBS!) to donate $X for each *something* that you do.

Here’s the link to may latest video on Patreon if you want to check out the platform: http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=406789&rf=83064

So far, I only have one patron donating $1 per video…but we all have to start somewhere. And if eventually I can get a little Flip camera to help film my videos in different locations (and on something sturdier like A TRIPOD), then hooray! For now, it’s just another place I’m seeding myself to be discovered.

Do you guys play around with different social media? I just love to experiment to see how I can work them into what I’ve already got going. I know of places like Reddit and StumbledUpon, but I’m not as familiar with how they work. Anyone have any insight on those?

Much love to you all — have a great day! xox

Alethea Mermaid

 

 

The Lost Art of…Lost Arts

Alethea MermaidLike many a work of prose, this blog post was born from the merging of two entirely separate ideas.

Idea Number One: I often joke to friends about certain “Lost Arts” of the twenty-first century — habits that are fading out of existence that wouldn’t normally cross the mind of anyone over the age of 25. A few examples:

Handwriting
Journaling
Introducing oneself in person
Politely answering a house phone without caller-ID
Backing up in a car without a rearview camera
Nursery Rhymes

Idea Number Two: Researching is a fabulous rabbit hole. A writer can google “bird wing anatomy” and find herself hours later researching Native American snake myths. (Not that I’ve done this before…ahem…) A few times I have been temped to blog about my researching adventures, and the myriad of things I’ve discovered in my virtual travels.

So in researching what other folks might consider “Lost Arts”, I stumbled upon a few things I hadn’t considered.

The Lost Art of Handpainted Movie Billboards — there is an octogenarian artist in Greece keeping this alive.

The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter — Therapists recommend it, even Abraham Lincoln utilized this practice to keep himself calm. In today’s world of social media, it’s often In Brain, Out Fingers.

The Lost Art of Pickpocketing — Because, really…that’s just too much hard work.

The Lost Art of Quitting — It’s actually okay to let go of the things that don’t matter. Sometimes your pride is just bullshit.

The Lost Art of Sacred Art — No one has time to be Michelangelo or Fra Angelico anymore, leading to Churches of Ambiguity.

The Lost Art of the Baseball Signature — Famous players just don’t have time to sign legibly. (See also: Handwriting)

The Lost Art of Doing One Thing At a Time — Self-explanatory. And I kind of love it.

What are some “lost arts” you’ve noticed in your every day life? Anything in particular  you think might be going extinct in the next few decades?

Mermaids & Friends: Leah Cypess

Good morning, everyone — Alethea Mermaid here, wishing a happy book release week to fellow author Leah Cypess! Her young adult fantasy DEATH SWORN released this Tuesday, March 4th. It’s a gorgeous book…congrats, Leah!

I asked Leah to join us in the lagoon today to talk about three favorite reads. And not just any reads…her favorite WRITING reads. Take it away, Leah!

*********************

Leah Cypess, AuthorI’m going to combine the “three favorite reads” with “three things every writer should know” and give you a list of “three favorite writing advice books.” Is that cheating? As I’m writing this, I don’t know, but if the post is up, I guess it’s not. Either that, or I bribed someone to put it up anyhow.

I read lots of writing books, and most of them have nuggets of wisdom, inspiration, or thoughts to ponder; there are few that aren’t worth reading. But these are my favorites – the ones that, after reading my library copy, I bought so that I could have them on hand and keep them as references. Here are my top three and the reasons they’re on my bookshelf:

How To Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat. Although most useful for mystery and thriller writers, this book has advice on structure and clean writing that would be useful to any writer. It also has a detailed “Four-Arc System for Organizing Your Novel” — which is the closest thing to an outline I’ve ever made use of. Although I am incapable of strictly following an outline, I use this one to help me figure out what’s wrong when my story starts to feel muddled.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. Here are things my characters do on every other page of my first drafts: lean against walls, stare at each other coldly, and smile menacingly. I’m sure your characters have a few tics of their own (narrowed eyes? holding breath? glaring?) So when your editor says to cut out “cold stares” and you have 66 of them, what do you do? Sometimes I watch tv scenes with the emotions I want to show and write down every character gesture and tic I see. And sometimes I open The Emotion Thesaurus, which has an emotion at the top of each page (from “adoration” to “worry”) and a list of facial expressions and gestures associated with that emotion.

The 10% Solution by Ken Rand. This is a really short, concise, hands-on book about how to tighten your writing. I read it about a year ago and am both (a) glad that I read it before Death Sworn was finished, and (b) chagrined that I hadn’t read it before I wrote my first two books!

*********************

Bio: Leah Cypess used to be an attorney living in New York City, and is now a writer living in Boston. She much prefers her current situation. When she is not writing or chasing her kids around (or doing both simultaneously), she is usually… well, let’s be honest; sleeping. But in her rare moments of spare time, she enjoys reading, biking, hiking, and drawing.

Visit Leah at her website: http://www.leahcypess.com/

And be sure to check out her fabulous new title, DEATH SWORN.

Death Sworn, by Leah Cypess

 

The Harsh Light of Day

I seem to be having a problem with reality.

Mom and I just finished watching Austenland, an exceptionally cute romantic comedy that is Every Austenite’s Wish-Fulfillment Fantasy. Not surprisingly, one of the major themes of this flick is wondering just how thin that line is between fantasy and reality.

I read fantasy. I write fantasy. I’ve been a princess and a pirate and a pig-keep and a lady knight. I’ve been a sorceress and a scullery maid. I live the adventure, revel in the romance…and then I finish the chapter and either shut the laptop or close the book. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on What Fantasy Is.

Reality is a bit of a puzzle for me, though.

And don’t even get me started on “Reality” television.

What is reality? Is it paying bills and mowing the lawn and collecting receipts for taxes? Is it the stubbed toes and the tears and the extra fifty pounds? Does “reality” always have to focus on the bad things? Because I know there are happy things too. I know what it is to look into the eyes of a friend you haven’t seen in far too long. I know what it’s like to come home to a house full of a family that couldn’t wait to see you. (Granted, this only ever happened to me once, but it happened.) I know what it’s like to kiss someone you have lost your heart and soul to completely. And sure…that person may eventually be the wrong person, but inside that bubble of a moment life is blissful perfection.

So why is it that when we read that last sentence, when we write “The End”, when the credits roll, that reality seems like such a slap in the face? If our lives are what we make of them, then why does the coming-up-for-air portion feel like such a heartbreak?

Or is it just me? Have I spent too much time writing again today?

When Mom and I finished the movie, we put away what was left of dinner, did the dishes, threw in another load of laundry, and then I came in here to bare my soul and ask the world what my problem was.

What do *you* do when Coming Back to “Reality” seems too harsh for you?

Why We Write Romance

Valentines-day-valentines-day-22236757-2560-1600-300x187Happy Valentine’s Day from the Waterworld Mermaids!!!

We love Valentine’s Day so much that we are celebrating all week long. Ever curious about why the Mermaids write romance novels? Today we decided to share our answers to the question: What made you start writing romance?

Come back tomorrow when we turn the tables on industry professionals with their very own question. Our celebration will wrap on Thursday with a gift card giveaway. Leave a comment today and tomorrow for extra chances to be entered in the giveaway on Thursday.

Enjoy and smoochies!

What made you start writing romance?

Alethea

This should come as no surprise to anyone: Fairy Tales are the reason I started writing romance. Fairy tales are full of fantasy, adventure, magic, mystery, blood, and death…but the tales I always found most interesting were the ones that involved true love. This love might end tragically (The Little Mermaid) or wonderfully (Rapunzel) or coincidentally (Briar Rose) or with a heaping spoonful of vengeance (Snow White/The Goose Girl), but the meeting of two soul mates in these unlikely settings gave me hope that I was not destined to be alone in this lonely world.

Carlene

So the story goes that it was 2008 and I was knee deep into my brand new fascination with Sherrilyn Kenyon and the romance genre. I think it was around her thirteenth or fourteenth Dark Hunter book I’d read when I realized no matter how horrifying or dark the stories became, the couples always clawed their way back out to a happy ending. The stories were so compelling that it honestly took me that many reads to finally figure out that they would all end on a happy note. It also struck a deep chord with me that many of her characters needed redemption and how their path to that came by way of new-found responsibilities toward the person they now loved. I thought about several real-life people I knew and cared about, people with good hearts but who had missed out on that perfect happy ending. I figured out that I could give them that through my stories. I love reading and writing romance! Wishing you all the best on this Valentine’s Day! Fishy Kisses, Carlene Mermaid

Dana

Once upon a time, I was on a preschool board and I became friends with another board member, Anita Clenney. Anita is one of the nicest people on the planet and we kept in contact for years after our preschool days were over. One day we were talking and she said something along the lines of, “Oh I have so much to do. I really need to get back to my manuscript.” Intrigued, I asked loads of questions about her manuscript and discovered that Anita was an up and coming romance writer. As an avid reader with an eye for detail, I was thrilled when she asked me to be a beta reader. What she got back was way more than what I think she was expecting – actually closer to line edits than your typical overall impressions.

I have been working with Anita ever since. I can’t express how excited and proud I was when Anita signed a three book contract later that year. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled for my friend when her first book made the USA Today and New York Times bestseller’s lists.

Being a good friend, it didn’t take long until Anita suggested I put some of my great ideas into a manuscript of my very own. It took several months of her prodding, but now I’m so happy she did. I love the outlet writing gives me and I now understand why I’ve had this constantly running loop of ideas and images floating through my brain all of these years… Writing was what I was meant to do.

Denny

My journey to writing romance started because of a television show. Yep. I fell in love with an old show named Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and no, not Buffy), but the character Spike—but not because of what he was on screen as much as what was missing from Spike’s tortured existence—romance. At the time, I read horror, mostly, and lots of paranormal, but not necessarily romance, except maybe gothic romance and tragic love stories (always liked to sob with my heroines:). But then I discovered fan fiction (which since 50 Shades of Grey, I no longer need to explain:). Fanfiction writers in the Buffy fandom wore obsessive romantics. I read thousands of pages of fan fiction, and wrote 500,000 words of fan fiction myself (and no it wasn’t all one book:). And through fan fiction, I met a writer named Alicia Rasley (I won’t share her Live Journal name here though:), and she introduced me to RWA, and the idea of writing original romantic fiction. That was quite a few years ago, and I had SO much to learn (which I’m still learning), but that’s who and what started my journey in romance. Buffy, Spike, and Alicia Rasley (http://www.aliciarasley.com/).

Diana

I write what I love, and I also write the books I cannot find and would like to see on shelves. The inspiration of strong women who find more than love — they find love with the right guy — proves such men are out there. When they find their happily ever after, it makes me happy. I guess I write because I’d like to spread the happiness around.

Kerri

The summer before my senior year of college, my mom handed me Nora Roberts’ Sea Swept to read. A couple pages in, I was hooked. That summer I read all about the Quinn’s, the Calhoun sisters and the MacGregor’s, and I haven’t stopped reading romance since. I’d always been a writer but I guess I had never found my niche. What really struck me about romance novels was that everyone got a happy ending. For a twenty-one year old about to enter the very scary and unsure “real world,” nothing sounded better than escaping to a place where dreams come true.

Kim

I write young adult romances because I want girls to read about boys who treat them with respect.  I want them to EXPECT that.  To have those high expectations of boys who will grow into men of good character.  To hold out for love.

It’s not that I ever expected my relationships in high school to pan out into a golden anniversary, but those innocent romances helped me discover what I expected from an adult relationship.  And really, when you come to think of it, they’re the same.  I think the only difference is that we become more jaded and insecure as adults, so teen romances are probably the most pure and real ones out there.  When everything is fresh and new and even heartbreakingly real.  I write teen romances because I still remember those feelings quite vividly.  It’s the promise of something special…something magical…something unforgettable.

Pintip

I cannot imagine writing a young adult novel without including some element of romance. I believe first love is integral to the teenage experience. An essential part of understanding who we are is discovering who we can be as a result of another person — a person who brings out the best in us, a person who inspires us to be the best version of ourselves. That, to me, is the definition of true love.

Susan

I’ve loved reading romance since my early teens, when my family made its annual trek to Georgia and visited family. My grandmother lived with two sisters and me-oh-my, they had half a garage PACKED with grocery bags full of Harlequin books from their shared subscription. Unlimited access to these tiny miracles not only kept me quiet, it gave me my early training. Since I never really stopped reading them, I’ve also never stopped wanting to tell my own stories.

 

Your turn. Tell us in the comments why you *read* romance novels?

The Princess and the Vlog

Snow White Fairy Tale RantYesterday marks the release of the 17th Episode of my Fairy Tale Rants Vlog (Video Blog) on YouTube.

17 episodes…in US time, that could be an entire season of a TV show. (In UK time, it could be two seasons.) It feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and it feels like I just started yesterday. No, I’m not Viralnova Internet Famous yet, but it’s only a matter of time for these things. As they say, the key is Content, Content, Content. Post regular content on a regular basis, and the fans will find you.

I guess we’ll see, right? I’ll be sure to let you all know when exactly that happens. 🙂

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some things that I’ve learned about my video blogging experience.

Camera and Microphone: Let’s be honest, I don’t have a huge budget. But I do have a Powerbook with a pretty fabulous webcam and decent microphone, so I use what I’ve got. TIPS: If you project, like me, it’s best to go in to iMovie (or your preferred editing software) before you edit and adjust the volume down so you’re not blasting away your audience. I’ve also learned to make sure that the camera is on a steady surface–the auto-stabilization option in YouTube won’t quite do what you want it to do. The most flattering angle is the selfie angle–high up, looking down on your face. But be careful the audience isn’t looking down your SHIRT.

Lights: Lighting is pretty darned important. I’ve found that the best angle is when I’m facing a daylit window, but the webcam is facing me. Not too sunny, or I get washed out–but with the blinds drawn it gives a nice, even light. Filming at night is the toughest–I just haven’t found a good combination of ceiling lights/floor lamps that don’t cast all kinds of creepy shadows.

EScreen shot 2013-11-05 at 3.31.39 PM.pngditing: I use iMovie, which is pretty user friendly…and if you have any questions, just Google them! There is a YouTube tutorial for EVERYTHING YOU COULD POSSIBLY NEED. The more editing you do, the more you learn. I added a ton to my bag of tricks by putting together my own audiobook trailer just for giggles…I highly recommend it.

Check out some popular video blogs (like John Green’s Mental Floss, or the very fun Lizzie Bennet Diaries) and you’ll see that the most engaging style involves not just choppy jump cuts, but anticipated jump cuts, where the subject of the vlog appears all over the screen…as if he’s having a dialogue between his Smeagol/Gollum self. You may think it sounds nuts, but give some of them a watch and you’ll see. Don’t leave extraneous pauses in your video, even if they’re half a second long. Those half-seconds add up.

Timing: Try to keep your videos to about five minutes or less. Like JK Rowling, the more popular you become, the longer your vlog posts can get, but your audience most appreciates the bite-sized snack version…and it encourages them to click or subscribe for more.

Consistency: It’s okay to miss a week. No one’s going to kill you. But don’t make it a regular thing. I’ve missed two out of the last 19 weeks…one was right at the beginning and one was in the wake of a funeral, for which I asked my viewers to please forgive me. What this means: You will begin to realize that as much as you might want to be in full makeup and costume, it doesn’t always happen. It’s about CONTENT, remember? I’ve done rants without costumes and I even did a rant with no makeup on (yeeeeeah). But you know what? That no-makeup vlog entry is one of the ones with the most hits.

Be Expressive: What I learned while doing podcasts was not to be afraid of my own voice–to go over the top when assuming character voices. What I’ve learned while vlogging is not to be afraid of my own face. It’s true: the more I act like a complete Muppet, the more entertaining the vlog is to watch. So get into what you’re saying, feel the passion, get expressive. And enjoy it! Because your fans can tell.

The Many Faces of Alethea

With that, I urge you all to please check out Episode 17: “Princess Alethea Rants About Rapunzel” if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think.

And if you like it, please share! xox

 

There and…well, Still There

One of my favorite days of the year is December 21st: Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, marking the return of the light to the world and increasingly brighter days, which I’ve found makes me rather happy. It’s a bit of an emotional New Year, inspiring me to a new outlook on life.

I spent most of December 21st, 2013 crying like my heart was broken.

My little sister Soteria called that morning to tell me two things: that Mom and Dad had arrived safely at her house in Charleston, SC from their home in FL the night before, and that she’d gotten the results of her MRI. Turns out the reason her right side had been numb off and on for three months was a severely herniated disc in her neck that was pressing so hard into her spinal cord it was bruising it and cutting off the flow of spinal fluid. But this was nothing compared to Dad, who was apparently in so much pain from his arthritis that he was having a hard time moving around. He’d been telling us over the phone how fine he was, and as soon as Soteria discovered just how fine he wasn’t, she called.

I’m not sure if I cried on the phone, but I certainly sobbed all the rest of that morning.  I forced myself to relax enough to finish my ARC of Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake (which you all need to buy immediately when it comes out in a few weeks, BTW). Sarah’s novels contain a lot of family and a little bit of magic, with a sprinkle of the South and a side helping of hope…and when I turned the last page, I had an epiphany.

There was absolutely no good reason why I wasn’t in Charleston.

Joe and I wouldn’t be picking up his daughters and heading to his parents’ house until Christmas Day anyway, which was the same day my parents planned on driving back to Florida from Charleston, since Dad had to return to work. I talked with Joe — we decided I’d leave immediately for Charleston, and then drive to his parents’ house on Christmas Day from there. I’d only arrive at his parents’ a few hours later than we planned, and were going to take two cars anyway, to accommodate presents. I showered and threw a bunch of stuff in a suitcase. Joe gave me the keys to his car, on which we’d just put new tires, and helped me load the trunk with the Christmas presents my family had all painstakingly mailed to me in multiple boxes over the past few weeks.

I felt a little guilty about driving all their presents back to them…but not too much.

I was on the road by 3pm and in Charleston a little after midnight. I had told Soteria and her husband that I’d be coming, but my parents didn’t know. My family has come to my rescue many a time over the years, and now it was my turn. Needless to say, surprising my parents when they heard voices and shuffled out of the bedroom at 1am was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

Our tired little family had a magical early Christmas morning on December 22nd, full of songs and presents and love. The next two days were filled with the very emotional closing of Soteria’s retail shop in Charleston, and conference calls with our aunt–Dad’s sister–in Baltimore about what to do about Soteria’s MRI.

On Christmas Day, I didn’t drive to Joe’s parents’ house. Instead, Soteria and I got in the car and spent 13 hours driving to Baltimore. On December 30th she had surgery, and we spent New Year’s Eve together in a top floor corner room of Johns Hopkins hospital watching fireworks over the Baltimore Harbor.

Soteria is doing great. We’re recovering at my aunt’s house in Baltimore. Since I don’t have any book events scheduled until Marscon, I’ll be staying here with Soteria. Her follow-up appointment in January 8th, at which point the doctor is sure she’ll be able to fly back to Charleston…and then Dad flies into Baltimore on the 11th for his appointment at Johns Hopkins.

January 11th is also my birthday.

So while it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be yet another fantastical, whirlwind chapter of the adventure that is my life, let’s talk about what I’m most proud of in all this: MY SUITCASE.

I left home at the spur of the moment–packing for three days in sunny Charleston, SC. This could have been a major disaster (Baltimore is significantly less sunny). But for once, my many years of conventioning served me well and I have with me everything I need.

Contents of Alethea’s Magical Suitcase:
underwear & socks & bras
bathroom bag
makeup
yoga pants
jeans
three t-shirts (to both wear and sleep in)
sports bra & running shorts
cute short dress
short black skirt and two nice shirts
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of mary janes

I’m not saying it’s the most *compact* suitcase-packing ever, but I didn’t care, because I was driving.  I had a dress for both the Dixie Dunbar Christmas Eve/Closing party and New Year’s Eve, I had a skirt to wear for the party on New Year’s Day when Nana and I made loukoumades for 3 hours, and my aunt has a small gym in her basement for which I am 100% prepared. (I should add that the suitcase was made even more perfect by the addition of my TARDIS  hoodie, which I’ve been wearing almost every day since early-Christmas. Thanks, Mom!)

Sure, I do laundry every 3 days. Sure, I’ll be sick of these clothes eventually. And I suppose I could go out and buy more things, but I don’t need to.

Somewhere in Northern Virginia there is a tiny Christmas tree in our apartment with unwrapped presents under it for me, and I won’t get to them until after my birthday. It’s a little strange, but so is life. The journey is what it’s all about.

Just make sure you’re packed for it.

*grin*

My question for you guys is: What are some of the items in your suitcase *you* can’t live without?

Happy New Year to all!! xox

 

 

Famous Jammies

There’s a link that’s gone viral — a family’s 2013 Christmas Card performance called “Christmas Jammies.” And when I say viral I mean it — since it was uploaded on December 11, this video has been watched over SEVEN MILLION TIMES.

Here it is, in case you haven’t had the pleasure — it’s really cute & super fun for the whole family! (Here’s the link for those who can’t see the video embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kjoUjOHjPI )

Most of the comments say things like, “I love these people!” and “I want to be part of this family!” when in reality, if most of us presented our kids with matching Christmas PJs on December first and told them we were all going to rehearse a family video that would be LIVE ON YOUTUBE FOR ALL THEIR FRIENDS TO SEE, the result would be massive rolling eyes and filing for emancipation.

These are the things I thought when I watched this video. Did you notice how it’s not only a Christmas card, but also a promotion for their new family business? Yup, snuck that in there with a hashtag and everything.

Those of us who live our lives in front of the world…this is what it looks like.

FUN, right?

I’m a renaissance woman of the 21st century — I’m on just about every social media site and have my own YouTube channel. The Fairy Godboyfriend’s latest idea is for me to play the Marvel Lego videogame on a live Twitch feed so that my fans can watch me play Captain America.

And all of this *is* fun. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t do it.

Except…the part where we can’t go grocery shopping without considering the potential promotional angle, and everyone hates us because they assume we are happy & enthusiastic 365 days a year.

We are the workaholics that never stop…but we love what we do. It helps when our family loves it too.

The up side? We can write OUR ENTIRE LIVES off on our taxes.
And if you’re smiling, then we’re doing our jobs right.

So what’s your take on this viral Christmas business? How many of you think the son or daughter will grow up to be movie stars…and how many think they will simply  demand this video be removed from the internet?