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ENCHANTED Reading Group Questions

...and a REALLY great quote on the front.With the imminent release of Dearest (it’s already in some bookstores!) and the announcement of the Garden State Teen Book Awards (woohoo!), more and more Book Clubs and reading groups are picking up Enchanted.

My bestest friend Casey Cothran was my first writing partner back in middle school — today she is an Associate Professor of English at Winthrop University and teaches a very popular fairy tale class that sometimes even includes Enchanted on the required reading list.  (I like to imagine her students questioning whether or not the author meant something in a particular passage and Casey saying, “I can call her and ask, if you’d like.”)

All of this, of course, made Casey the perfect person to sit down with and come up with a great list of Reading Group Discussion Questions. Please feel free to use these, share these, and add your own in the comments!

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READING GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR ENCHANTED BY ALETHEA KONTIS

1. The stories that Sunday writes “have a tendency to come true” (7). Even if your own stories don’t predict the future, writing in a diary or journal might help you to understand feelings more clearly, to predict how people in your life might act, or to solidify your goals for the future. How else might thinking about Sunday’s special power help you to understand the power (and dangers) of writing things down?

2. Sunday writes that she loves Grumble “with all her heart” (36). Do you think she really fell in love with Grumble? Or, is she only in love with him because she wrote that she loved him in her book? (Remember, the stories that she writes “have a tendency to come true” [7].) Why do you think Sunday wrote about feelings of love? Because her feelings for Grumble were true…or because she wanted them to be true? Do you think Sunday and Grumble were destined to be together anyway?

3. The book opens with the line, “My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life” (1). How might a “happy life” sometimes feel like a curse instead of a blessing?

4. Think about the lives of Sunday and her family. How many of their adventures seem “destined”? What adventures–or aspects of their adventures–do they actually choose for themselves? (You might think specifically about Monday and Wednesday.) What does the novel, as a whole, say about the forces of fate and free will?
5. How does living as an animal affect Rumbold’s mind? His way of seeing and understanding the world?

6. This novel explores the joys and frustrations of a big family. What does the story say about relationships between sisters? About adoption? About sibling rivalry? About teenagers’ frustration with their parents? About losing a sister or brother to distance or to death? About finding yourself?

7. Rumbold’s father is a bad parent. What does this book say about bad parents and bad parenting? Conversely, how does Rumbold’s father compare to Sunday’s parents, who are very active in their children’s lives?

8. What does this book say about the potential for people to change their lives? To make different choices and choose different paths?

9. Discuss the animal transformations in the book. Jack becomes a dog; Rumbold becomes a frog; Wednesday becomes a goose. The author chose these particular animals to match their respective fairy tales (Cú Chulainn, The Frog Prince, Jack and the Beanstalk), but how do you think these transformations affected the characters in question? How might you feel about such a transformation? If you were cursed to live as an animal for a significant amount of time, what would you like to be?

10. Discuss the magic and the mysterious forces of the book. What is the role of Rumbold’s shadow-angel? Do you believe any magic can be used solely for good or evil, or is it always a wild, dangerous thing by nature?

11. The names in the novel are interesting. Do you think some of them give the reader hints about a character’s personality or destiny? Can you “predict the future” and guess what might happen to Sunday’s other siblings?

12. How many fairy tale references could you find in the novel? How many Mother Goose rhymes did you see?

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Goose Girl”

1. “The Goose Girl” is my very favorite fairy tale.

2. Episode 42 was always meant to be a special episode, because I’m a geek.

3. Make sure you have tissues handy.

4. Happy New Year, everyone. I love you all. xox

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Some Sunshine For Your December

Princess Alethea MermaidOver at the Waterworld Mermaids blog today, Carlene and I have cooked up one of the MOST FUN POSTS I’VE EVER DONE. Inspirred by Terra LeMay’s query about nontraditional writing spots, The Mermaid of the East greets The Mermaid of the West with the sunrise and a few of her newly-discovered writing spots.

There is no stand-alone Starbucks in this burg…but that’s okay! I HAVE MANATEES INSTEAD.

Click on over and check out our fabulous pics!

I miss my Carlene…xox

Orion Sunrise

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Gnome”

Curses, blood red apples, glass slippers, magic flutes, lousy brothers, fainting princesses, romance, betrayal, death, and gnomes.

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?!?

Give as little as $1 per episode — CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT FAIRY TALE RANTS ON PATREON!

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Singing, Springing Lark”

As promised, a fairy tale that’s a little less melancholy than “The Death of the Hen.”

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Happy Holidays 2014

2014 Xmas Fairy by Bianca Roman-Stumpff

2014 Christmas Fairy Illustrated by Biance Roman-Stumpff

As promised, here is the Track Listing for my Happy Holidays 2014 mixed CD:

1. Let it Be — Beatles
2. The 12 Days Of Christmas — Straight No Chaser
3. Christmas Paradise — Carole King
4. Winter Song — Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
5. Colder Days — Adam Ezra Group
6. Christmas at the Airport — Nick Lowe
7. One Little Candle — Chicago
8. Little Saint Nick — She & Him
9. Carol Of The Bells — Fleming & John
10. Don’t Forget About Me This Christmas — Danny Fromajio & Peter Hajioff
11. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch — CeeLo Green (feat. Straight No Chaser)
12. Christmas Eve Montage — The Nightmare Before Christmas
13. Silent Night Holy Night (Korean) — DBSK
14. Oh Holy Night — Bastille
15. Change In The Weather — Love Spit Love
16. Baby, It’s Cold Outside — John Lithgow & Bebe Neuwirth
17. Butterfly — Lenny Kravitz
18. Candy Cane Jane — Laurie Berkner
19. Christmas Blessings — Dave Padrutt
20. Indiana Christmas — Straight No Chaser
21. Auld Lang Syne — Barenaked Ladies

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SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER! (There’s a special Christmas surprise in the December letter that you don’t want to miss): http://eepurl.com/YSmS1

Christmas Lee

 

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YouTube Owes Me $68

Seriously...I uploaded my first video onto YouTube on April 17, 2008.

I had buried my ten-year-old nephew Caleb in the sand and I recorded his amusing diatribe as he tried to escape. It’s had a little over 400 views, life to date.

Less than a year later, I recorded my friend Mary’s adorable father demonstrating how to play the musical saw. He was still dressed in his tuxedo, having just returned from a night at the symphony with his wife. That video has over 30,000 views.

Thanks to the success of “How to Play the Musical Saw,” YouTube invited me to be a partner in their AdSense program, meaning that I could make money if I decided to run ads on my videos. I figured “what the heck” and gave it a go. I monetized the applicable videos and went so far as encouraging my friends and family to click on them when they saw them.

That’s right. I actually encouraged my watchers to click through and visit the websites of my advertisers. If I was an advertiser, I would want a million of me.

Now, when you sign up for AdSense, you promise not to spend all day watching your own videos and clicking on all your own ads. I made this promise and never did anything to violate it. I don’t have enough time in the day to do my own stuff, never mind waste hours clicking on YouTube just to earn $0.02.

I knew it wouldn’t be a moneymaker–there are plenty of articles about how much creators *don’t* make on YouTube. But in the publishing world (especially these days) every little bit helps.

The minimum you must earn before AdSense will cut you a check is $100. As of yesterday my earnings total was a little over $68.

Next month, Caleb turns 17.

In April of last year, I launched my vlog series “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants.” Every Monday, I post a short video of myself summing up one of the original Grimm or Andersen or Lang and then chatting a bit about the ridiculous parts. It’s a labor of love that’s gained me more subscribers than views, but it’s kept me going.

The Rants were awesome to have as my year slowly went to Hell in a Handbasket. If you watch the whole series from the beginning, you know when I was in Baltimore for my sister’s surgery, or when I was in Newport News while Granny was on life support. I pulled in guest stars along the way, including my best friend Casey in Charlotte, NC…where I went after breaking up with my significant other and before moving to Florida.

I took a hiatus on the rants after Jay Lake died this summer. I had just gotten back on the horse–I even wrote an essay about vlogging for the SFWA blog!–when my nephew unexpectedly and inexplicably passed away.

I did not explain my absence, I just didn’t vlog. I received fan letters asking if I would continue the rants and I assured them I would. I just didn’t say when.

It was an inspirational STAR workshop led by Roxanne St. Claire that got me back in the race. I decided that the universe–and NY publishing–had beat me up enough. I was going to start self-publishing in a serious way. I was going to assemble my fans–those lovely people I’ve spent a decade cultivating into dear friends–into a Street Team. I was going to revive my old newsletter. And I was going to start ranting again.

All of these things happened in the same weekend. I posted the newest Fairy Tale Rant. I wrote about it in my newsletter. I shared it on Twitter and G+ and Facebook and everywhere else I could think of. I told the Street Team about it, and mentioned that they should click on the ads when they saw them.

Yesterday, I got an email from YouTube (bolding is mine).

Hello,

With our advertising programs we strive to create an online ecosystem that benefits publishers, advertisers, and users. For this reason we sometimes have to take action against accounts that show behavior towards users or advertisers that may negatively impact how the ecosystem is perceived. In your case, we have detected invalid activity on your AdSense account and as a result it has been disabled.

We are limited in the amount of information we can provide about your specific violation. We understand that you may want more information about your account activity. However, in order to protect our proprietary detection systems, we are unable to provide further details.

Essentially, they cut me off and didn’t have to give a reason.

They also kept my $68.

I was allowed to appeal, however, which I immediately did. The appeal was an online form, in which I was given the chance to explain my actions…even though I had no idea why they disabled my account. My best guess was that the Street Team had gone in and watched all my videos and clicked on all my ads.

That’s right, two weeks before Black Friday, I sent a bunch of dedicated fans to click through to all the advertisers on my videos.

Obviously, I deserve to be punished for that.

Very early this morning, I received an email from YouTube saying that my appeal had been denied, and my account was now officially terminated.

I tried to sum the whole affair up to my mother over coffee, and as I was detailing what I had written in my appeal, she held up a hand. “You don’t even know what you’re appealing, am I right?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s true.”

“Then let’s face it. It’s a classic Bait-and-Switch. You were getting close to your $100 minimum and they decided to keep your money. Plain and simple.”

Thanks to YouTube being “unable to provide further details,” I don’t know who is right, me or Mom. Part of me doesn’t want to know, because I don’t like thinking that I live in a world where a huge money-making gigantosaur like YouTube is petty enough to yank $68 away from a struggling, glitter-covered vlogger in a tiara three weeks before Christmas.

The silver lining in all of this is that my fans now don’t have to sit through all the advertising that clutters up my videos. Plus, I can now forward all my links to Patreon, where fans of the series can donate as little as $1 per episode if they like the show, instead of having to click on all those links and pop-ups.

But I’m not going to lie…that $68 still bothers me. And if YouTube was a person standing right here in front of me, I’d probably kick him in the shins.

Bully.

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Death of the Hen”

Episode 38: An uplifting tale where EVERYONE DIES.

Yup.

Enjoy!

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Riddle”

Episode 37: In which Princess Alethea rants about the Grimms’ fairy tale “The Riddle.” Because it’s not a fairy tale without a beautiful, haughty, know-it-all princess!

Read Enchanted …and get Hero too!

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Princess Alethea Rants “The Kid Who Wanted the Creeps”

Okay, okay…I know…that’s not the *actual* title of the Fairy Tale.

Episode 36: In which Princess Alethea rants about the Grimms’ fairy tale “A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was”…aka, “The Kid Who Wanted the Creeps.”

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