Tag Archives: enchanted

Snakes & Snails

I began writing this bog post on April 29th, in the main lobby of the Best Western Westminster, less than an hour after the WRW Retreat officially ended. A few of the Mermaids convinced me to stay on a few extra days with them, to work on my massive pre-book-tour to-do list in solitude and sisterhood.


I have my spoon, and I’m all set to dig my way out of Shawshank. The adventure I’m about to embark upon is a massive undertaking of my own creation, but I am equal to the task because I AM AMAZING.

I am also a mess.

I feel like I’m completely coming apart at the seams. I managed to hold the AWESOME together until last night at dinner, when Robyn Carr told us that everything was going to be all right.

I’ve always said that if I could go back in time to tell my teenage self anything (apart from “Boys are stupid, avoid them at all costs”), it would be just what Robyn said: I know it’s hard right now. This is the hardest part. But everything’s going to be all right.

With that in mind, I present to you:

Princess Alethea’s Fairly Short List of Things No One Tells You When Your First Book is Published

This list always changes. With advances in both technology & social networking, the expectations of authors ten years form now will be vastly different than it is today. As always, your mileage may vary. But as this is what I’ve learned, this is what I mean to pass on to you right now.

1.) DON’T PANIC. Douglas Adams wasn’t joking. In the month leading up to your publication date, you will be overwhelmed. Even if your publisher prints all your promotional material and schedules your entire book tour (for which I will forever be jealous), there will suddenly be a mountain of teeny little tasks that bury you under your to-do list and drive you mad as a hatter.  Any plan you have will be discarded the moment your publicist tell you that you have 48 hours in which to drop everything and write an article for the New York Times or Huffington Post…regardless of whether or not that article ever sees the light of day.

You must also remember Rule Number One when…say…the publisher of your novel declares bankruptcy three days after your book is released…but I digress.

2.) Expect the unexpected. And vice versa. Prepare yourself and at all times have on your person:

Granola bar
Promotional material (bookmarks/postcards/etc)
Business Cards
medicine (Advil, Excedrin, etc)

It is possible that the bookstores will provide all of these things, but it’s more probable that they will have none. If you have it all, that’s a boatload of stress off of you. I suggest making a special “booksigning kit”. Keep it stocked, and keep it with you.

Conversely, don’t expect the expected. All of your friends will offer to help you out in various ways. If 10% of these people come through for you in the way that you expect, count yourself lucky. (My 10% know who they are, and yes, the Mermaids are among them.)

Most of these disappointments will be caused by events beyond your control–funny how those events seem to come from every corner of the universe and conspire against you all at the same time. A very similar thing happens when friends promise to help you move.

You will be disappointed. It’s inevitable. You simply have too many irons in the fire. But with so many irons, it’s okay if a few fall out. And if you leave yourself open to the whims of the universe, you will be pleasantly surprised at the gifts Fate leaves on your doorstep right when you need them. (Mary Rodgers, I’m looking at you, fairy godmother.)

3.) Your publisher will screw something up. These things are so far beyond anyone’s control it’s ridiculous. A bookstore will suddenly put a price cap on all their acquisitions. Your e-book will not be ready by release date. Your name will suddenly disappear of Amazon as the author of the book, and the cover will go with it.

All of these things have happened to me at one time or another. When they do I vent in the manner appropriate (scream, cry, call a Mermaid), and then I straighten my tiara and Tweet to everyone how the world is an amazing place. I do this because FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.

Shit happens. It just does. If you throw a fit & draw attention to it, that’s what people will remember about you. Chances are, your fans will never notice a thing, and your publisher will applaud the fact that you’re not one of those authors.

I could go on, but this is a pretty good start. If you prepare as much as you can up front, you’ll have more time to spare putting out fires o the back end. Three people on your blog tour jumped the gun and posted on the same day while you’re out of town at a funeral? No problem. You planned for this.  If you don’t link to them today, you’ll do it tomorrow. The world will not end. Bookstore signing cancelled because they only received in one copy of book? Smile and reschedule. They will be more embarrassed about it than you.

Whatever happens to you, keep your head held high. The Earth will not stop turning and the sun will come up in the East, just like it always has…and always will.

This is the hard part. We do it because it needs to be done in order for us to keep doing the one thing we love most in the world: Writing.

Launching a book is sweaty and stressful and unromantic. It’s also wonderful and magical all at the same time. You take the good with the bad. We writers are married to this life, for better or worse. Sugar and spice and snakes and snails and all.

Above all, keep your faith.

Because everything is going to be all right.

Author Interview: Princess Alethea Swims with the Mermaids

Alethea Kontis, author of Enchanted

This surprised me. I was nervous. I wanted to conduct the best possible interview ever because I was interviewing the one and only Alethea Kontis. Yes, the New York Times Bestselling author, the multi-published author of the AlphaOops! series, the author of the newly released Enchanted, which is getting RAVE reviews, not surprisingly–and she’s also the founder of the Waterworld Mermaids (and my roomie at the 2012 WRW-DC Retreat). So yes, I was nervous! But if you know Alethea, you know I shouldn’t have been nervous one darn bit. Mainly because she wouldn’t allow it. A charming young woman with an infectious fun-loving personality, and a huge amount of talent, energy and love for writing and for being the best writer she can be, Alethea is fabulous and likely the only Princess I’ll ever know:)…and that’s just fine with me.

It was my pleasure to spend a few minutes swimming in her pond. So, without further adieu, here’s my interview with Alethea Kontis.

Denny said: Let’s get to the facts right up front. What’s your full author name, website, your latest release, the WIP that is keeping you up at night, your agent, your publisher, how long have you been writing…your successes? Yes, I want the mini bio right here, right now!

Alethea said: My name is Alethea Kontis, www.aletheakontis.com, Latest release(s): Enchanted, The Wonderland Alphabet, and my current WIP is called Saturday (sequel to Enchanted). My agent is Deborah Warren (East West Literary Agency).

I have been writing since I was eight years old. I was published by 30 and hit the New York Times bestseller list at 31. I’ve published picture books, short stories, poetry, essays, romance encyclopedias, and now (finally!) a novel. I’ve edited a major anthology, and I have friends in all genres, all over the world. I am a very lucky girl.

Denny said: What’s the best kept secret about your writing process?

Alethea said: Brownies. (The elves, not the dessert. Or the Girl Scouts.) For a bit of milk and honey, I get a lot of work done.

Denny said: What character have you written or are writing that keeps you up at night – just one, please:)?

Alethea said: My most recent obsession was/is a young girl named Ashes on the Wind — the princess formerly known as “Snow White.” I wrote her origin tale as a short story–“The Unicorn Hunter”–that was included in John Skipp’s Demons anthology last year. (You can still read it for free by clicking here. She also appears as a character in the sequel to Enchanted. But it’s not time for me to tell the rest of her story just yet…but I promise you, what a story it will be.

Denny said: What fictional character (book, film, television, comics) has had the greatest influence on your writing style and why?

Alethea said: My writing has been most influenced by the King of Hearts from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” The rhyming and the nonsense and the impossible things before breakfast are all just part and parcel.

Denny said: What book/author is the current “hot read” on your bookshelf?

Alethea said: Right now on my TBR pile are Wuftoom by Mary G. Thompson, The Taker and The Reckoning by Alma Katsu, and Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

Denny said: What’s your favorite drink on a beautiful, not too hot, not too cold, spring evening – and who (fictional or not, friend or family, celebrity or historic figure) would be sitting at your side enjoying that drink with you?

Alethea said: Drink: A hot cup of Greek coffee.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Companion: My Greek grandfather Soterios Kontis–refugee, merchant marine, and pirate–who died before I was born.

Denny said: Who’s your favorite author and what would you ask them if you had the chance (or when you had the chance)?

Alethea said: I’ve sat here for far too long trying to think of a favorite author. I’ve come up with no less than twenty-seven names. But I don’t have questions. The sentiment I would say to all of them remains the same: “Thank you.”

Denny said: Last question…what question have you been dying to answer but no one has ever asked?

Alethea said: Hey, Alethea, where do your own siblings fall into the Woodcutter family? Which children are they most like?

Then Alethea replied: You know, I was hoping that someone would ask me this question–thank you so much for being that person! My eldest sister Cherie is definitely Monday, fair of face. She was once runner-up in the Miss Vermont pageant. Peter has a lot of my brother West at heart–quiet, romantic, and magic with a knife. (Peter isn’t a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do…but there have to be some differences.) I am all of the sisters in some ways, of course, in order to breathe life into them…but I’m most like Sunday. Ironically, my youngest sister Soteria is most like Saturday–strong and soft-hearted, confident and insecure all at the same time.

I would love to make a personality quiz…which Woodcutter sibling are you most like?

Thank you Alethea!

Now visitors, it’s your turn!  Alethea will be stopping by to answer questions and to say hi! We also are offering a book giveaway today to one lucky commenter–a signed copy of Alethea’s new book, Enchanted.  So jump in the pond, and enjoy. 

Pervasive Sexual Innuendo

As promised last month, when I got off on a Hunger Games tangent, this is my actual, intelligent post about Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The King of Hearts recommends beginning at the beginning, and so I shall.

So this novel I wrote (Enchanted) comes out next month, and the reviews (which I read) are pouring in from every direction. These reviews are all over the place–from one star to five stars–but that’s good. I don’t want everyone to love my book. I want some people to love it and some people to hate, because that sparks a conversation, and conversations make the world go round.

But this post is not about reviews. This post is about sex.

One reviewer on Goodreads (who shall remain nameless only because I lack the energy to hunt it down), mentioned that she couldn’t even finish Enchanted because of all the pervasive sexual innuendo.

Now, I’m a fan of reading about sex, but I don’t write about it. And that’s okay. There are plenty more authors (here on this website, even!) who are more talented than I when it comes to writing sex scenes. I like the cheesy, embarrassing, falling in love part of the relationship. I write YA, so this is not a problem. (I also have no problem with YA titles that include sexual situations, so let’s not go there.)

But I was baffled that this novel I wrote was apparently SO RAUNCHY that a reader couldn’t even finish it. And I wasn’t even trying.

GO, ME!!!

My curious cat was satisfied when another reader–who also hated the book–went on at length about why, including and explanation all the “pervasive sexual innuendo” that permeated the first part of the book. (Thank you.)

The hero of Enchanted, Rumbold, grew up as a spoiled brat prince with no mother and a misogynist dad. He had all of life at his fingertips, money was no object, and–oh yeah–he couldn’t die until the frog curse kicked in on his eighteenth birthday. When eighteen came and went and the curse didn’t kick in, he just got frustrated and lashed out.

If you were an eighteen year old boy with all the money and power you could ever want and you couldn’t die, what would YOU do?  WHATEVER YOU WANTED, right? So he did.

Then the curse kicked in, during which time he met the love of his life, and he worried about what she might think of his incredibly sordid past…

(That’s about all I can tell you without getting into spoiler territory)

So here’s what I think: This all boils down to being a matter of Team Edward versus Team Jacob. While I never finished reading Twilight (I didn’t care for Bella and Edward made no sense to me), I’ve consulted with many folks who have. They agreed that it’s fair to say that Edward is the Celibate Guy Who Waits Forever For His One True Love and Jacob is…well…a Wolf.

I never had cause to think of it before, but Rumbold is definitely a Team Jacob kind of guy. He was young. He was a mess. He had opportunities. He took them. He had all the starry-eyed romance ripped from his life when he was a child, and then when he actually found it, he put a lot of work into picking up the pieces.

I suspect this is why Edward made no sense to me. From what little of Twilight I read, he spent about a century and a half alone and going to high school. (Seriously, how much does a guy have to hate himself to go through that torture?) If there was a particular reason that Edward wasn’t looking at every pair of legs that walked by, then I might have been a little more emotionally invested in his character.

I’m guessing that all the Rumbold-haters in the audience are probably of the Team Edward persuasion. But even in my fantasy stories I have to be realistic.

Girls, Ladies, Young Women: The guy you find, that one guy for you, is not going to be perfect. Don’t try to make him perfect. But he’s going to want to be a better man, for you, and that’s what matters.

Those of you on Team Jacob — I highly recommend placing your preorder for Enchanted right now.

Those of you on Team Edward…well, you’re just going to have to wait for the sequel.

Which Team are you? Or do you want to fight with me about Twilight? Bring it on. Conversations make the world go round.