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Fun with Mermaids

Looking back on my last few posts there seems to be a theme: projects I was involved in that were just a whole lot of stinking fun. And guess what — this one is too!

The Waterworld Mermaids (of which I am a part) have a big Garden Party bash planned for the month of October over at our site. Free original fiction by a bunch of us (including me–I’m up first!), the inspiration behind those stories, and even a trailer to whet your appetite!

See now, I bet you can’t wait until October first.
Luckily, you won’t have to wait very long!

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66 Twisted Tales

You know those stories that you have so much fun writing and submitting that you completely forget about them until a friend mentions that they’re available for sale? Well, that’s what happened here.

Twisted Tales in 66 Words is a project that Kimberly Raiser came up with on Facebook a while back. She wanted to get 66 stories made up of 66 words apiece (not counting the title), and offered to pay us…was it 6.6 cents a word, or $6.60 for each story…heck, I don’t even remember.

What I do remember is that I had such a blast once I wrote one that I ended up writing a couple more. I told Ariell she should write some too. And then I sent a notice out to all my other idle writer friends on Facebook to challenge themselves if they had five minutes.

This isn’t some groundbreaking work by some major publisher…it’s only 48 pages and it’s on sale at Lulu for a little over six bucks. But how much fun can you imagine friends like mine had in 66 words? The only way to find out is to buy the book.

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Award winning authors…. Stories to break your mind. Within these pages you will find the things that not only go bump in the night, but bring fear to the things that do the bumping. Discover your new favorite authors and let your mind wander and wonder how 66 simple words put together in the optimum use of fright can have such an impact on your slumber. Join us….

Editor — Kimberly Raiser

Authors — Alethea Kontis, K.L. Nappier, Greg Didaleusky, Pavelle Wesser, Machael A. Kechula, Kimberly Raiser, P.S. Gifford, Mark Brand, Kevin Ranson, Ariell Branson, Dave Brookover, Gayla Chaney, Laura Fernandez, Damon Kaswell, Kevin Coryell, John Burridge, Micahel Barnes, Glenda Finkelstein, Gary Roen, Larry Hodges, Mickey Mills, Barry J. House, Rob Crandall, Heidi Ruby Miller, H. David Blalock, Tricia L. Sparks, Brian K. Lowe, Michael Barnes, Joe Balaz

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Blood Oath Reviews

Reviews of a different sort — from the movie that became my second credit on IMDB. (Not only is my name in the opening credits of Blood Oath…it’s even SPELLED CORRECTLY!)

Before you read any–or all–of these, just keep one thing in mind: we didn’t set out to produce Shakespeare. We were a bunch of kids in the woods having a really good time with supersoakers full of fake blood. It was almost everyone’s first time, and it was an incredible (and expensive)  learning experience for us all.

If you want to see the awesome horribleness that is our beloved and infamous Blood Oath, I will have some copies (signed by the director!) for sale at my table at Capclave. See you there!

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Summary: Mr. and Mrs. Krupp wanted nothing more than a healthy child. After several failed attempts, they contacted a mysterious woman who promised them a child but everything has a price. Now the offspring roams the woods as an urban legend, twisted and evil, living off the bodies of those who enter its sanctuary. Today, a group of friends on a weekend camping trip decide to investigate the story. Bad decision! They will have to fight to stay alive, but they will soon pray for death!

Here’s a great review from Matthew Scott Baker: “Let me summarize this film before I review it: FUN.(Read the full review here.)

From DVDVerdict: “Blood Oath is one of the better independent horror films to come around in a long time. It doesn’t take itself wholly seriously, but does remember that shocks and suspense are more important than laughs and lame genre references.” (Read more)

The review in which Cinema Head Cheese says, “I can’t recommend Blood Oath in any way.” (Read more)

And possibly my favorite from BD Horror News, who hated the film so much that “there were so many moments that I would have liked for the killer to break through and put me out of my misery, that I am almost embarrassed.” (Read the rest here)

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Heehee…I can see how this would get addictive. The horrible reviews are EVEN BETTER than the great ones!  I could do this all night!

 

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Still Not An Award-Winning Author

But I still get to be part of this anthology! It includes the top four Intergalactic Medicine Show readers’ choice stories, some more award winners, and other favorites. I’m a favorite! And in seriously good company. AND I’M ON THE COVER.

Table of Contents:

“Trinity County, CA” by Peter S. Beagle
First appeared in IGMS issue #18

“Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain” by Von Carr
First appeared in IGMS issue #17

“The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived” by Keffy R. M. Kehrli
First appeared in IGMS issue #19

“The American” by Bruce Worden
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Silent as Dust” by James Maxey
First appeared in IGMS issue #7

“Horus Ascending” by Aliette deBodard
First appeared in IGMS issue #8

“End-of-the-World Pool” by Scott Roberts
First appeared in IGMS issue #12

“A Heretic by Degrees” – by Marie Brennan
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola” by Jason Sanford
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Beautiful Winter” by Eugie Foster
First appeared in IGMS issue #13

“Blood & Water” – by Alethea Kontis
First appeared in IGMS issue #9

“Mean-Spirited” – by Edmund R. Schubert
First appeared in IGMS issue #16

“Robot Sorcerer” – by Eric James Stone
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“Aim For The Stars” – by Tom Pendergrass
First appeared in IGMS issue #15

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[Update: You can preorder the anthology here from Spotlight publishing — it will ship mid-December.]

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DEMONS On Sale Now!

I am on the back cover AGAIN! Wheee!

From Skipp’s intro to “The Unicorn Hunter”:

After all this evil, I thought some beauty might be in order. So thank God for Alethea Kontis, who brought it and then some, in an old-fashioned mythical context with some new-fangled twists.

This is a very easy story to love. And unless you’re a unicorn, you probably will, too.

I’ll say it again: This is the best story I HAVE EVER WRITTEN. Not kidding I swear. I’m gonna be FAMOUS. Go buy it now. RUN.

Click here to purchase Demons on Amazon!

 

 

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Princess Alethea On Reviews

I tell people I don’t read reviews. That’s not *totally* true.

It is true that I don’t hunt them down–usually my editor will send me the important ones. I have Google Alerts out for things like “Alethea Kontis” and “AlphaOops” in case someone invokes my name and it’s appropriate for me to share a little love and thanks. Sometimes folks will post reviews on my FB wall, and I feel rude not at least checking them out. They went to all the trouble to read the book, after all.

But I don’t go to Amazon, unless I’m snagging a link for one of my books. That number on the screen there is about as “rank” as old Irish cheese. I worked in the industry; I know how little that number actually means.

I don’t care if I’m #13 bestseller in Young Adult—>Fairy Tales—>Enchanted Frogs. In the grand scheme of thing, it doesn’t make a hill of beans. To me, anyway.

And come on, guys. I write reviews. I know how incredibly subjective they are. I never dissuade someone from reading a book just because it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Perhaps my bar is just set a lot higher. My milestones are farther out. Oh, I still have my little wishes: to get a starred review (done), to be in an Ellen Datlow anthology (not yet), to win an award of some kind (not yet), and things like that.

Not looking for reviews does have a downside, like when I finally scrolled down on Amazon and noticed the woman that had posted a review saying how AlphaOops was pretty much responsible for getting her reluctant son to read. I was so honored I cried that day.

But I don’t avoid reviews like I’m in an anonymous program or something. I’ll read it. If it’s horrible, I’ll just make sure they spelled my name and the title correctly. (That, and the correct ISBN, are actually the most important parts of a review. Did you know that?

Right now, what’s making me so excited is all the people who are posting about how much they can’t wait to read ENCHANTED. That is AWESOME.

It’s also a treat for me when I’m singled out during reviews of anthologies. I do a ton of anthologies, so there’s no way I could hunt down all the reviews even if I wanted to…but sometimes they are brought to my attention.

Fir instance, I was scanning through the July issue of Locus to find pictures from the Nebula awards, when I saw a cover that I recognized and stopped. I was honored to have been part of John Klima’s reprint fairy tale anthology Happily Ever After, but this one sentence made my day: “‘Blood and Water’ by Alethea Kontis retells ‘The Little Mermaid’ with the kind of direct force that Datlow and Windling made something of a specialty.” Yes, indeed, that totally made my day.

And Nasrullah Anwar kindly sent me a link to the blog where he reviewed Apexology: Science Fiction & Fantasy. It contained this tidbit: “Another story of note is Unicorn Gold by Alethea Kontis, which again subverts the old myths about unicorns, but gives the single-horned ones the opportunity for a little pay back.”

Being “another story of note” is definitely a step up from “and many other fine stories.” Remember those little milestones I was talking about? This is one of them.

Thank you!

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BBF — SFWA Schedule

For those SF/F geeks, you can find the complete schedule of SFWA-related activities for the Baltimore Book Festival at this link.

Just remember, Leanna and I are both booked solid from about 3pm until 7pm, which means you’ll have to hunt me down at whatever I’m doing to see me. (And if you bring a granola bar, I’ll be your best friend for at least five minutes.)

See you there!

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Pencil Me In?

Because I know some of you book your social calendars MONTHS in advance, here’s the heads up: I will be a guest (along with Sherrilyn Kenyon!) at Mysticon in Roanoke Feb 24-26th.

Holiday Inn – Tanglewood
4468 Starkey Road, SW
Roanoke, VA 24018
540-774-4400

You have been warned!

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Splendora Drive

The first voice exercise that Barbara Samuel had us do was write for four minutes on this topic: Describe the house you lived in when you were seven years old.

Timer set? GO!

Here’s what I wrote:

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I still dream about the house on Splendora Drive. It was in a subdivision called Candlewood, down a long road through acres of pine trees, surrounded by more pine forests on every side. All those trees are gone now and the land has been developed, but back then it was just as described: a candle in the wood. I guess I’ve always been destined to live at the Edge of the Wood.

The best part about being so isolated is that the children had the run of the place. We rode our bikes in gangs up and down the street and through the rough terrain behind our houses. We played football in each other’s yards.

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Of course, I was going to go on about Matt and Andrew, my best friends who lived in the subdivision, but Barbara called time.

Matt grew up and married my best friend Margo. Andrew grew up and became a ninja. Monday was Andrew’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

On Saturday, the WRW had yet another amazing meeting, this month featuring fabulous guest host Barbara Samuel. She presented us with two workshops–one before lunch, and one after our official meeting–about voice and the heroine’s journey, respectively.

For the voice workshop, Barbara ran us through a series of times writing exercises — sprints, if you will — that were less of a challenge to do first thing in the morning than you might think.

Since I don’t really have any other plans for these tidbits, I’ll be posting them here on my blog for the next week or so. Nothing should go to waste, right?

I challenge you as well to take each of these prompts and a timer (set your phone, or the microwave, it’s not tough) and see what you make of them. If nothing else, it’s good warm-up for your brain and reminds you that you CAN get some decent writing done, even if you only have four minutes.

The first exercise I’m going to share with you is one I call “Your Favorite Things.” In about 90 seconds, jot down your 10 favorite things. Don’t make a list that you think everyone else will read & be proud of — be honest with yourself. Whatever comes to mind. Just do it. If you have a little more time, go for 25 — we didn’t have the time, but Barbara said she likes to go to 25 to get a bigger picture.

What she’s looking for is what we spent the whole morning on: our voice. Look at your list as if you were a psychologist asking about your mother. Are you writing true to your own voice, or are you fighting against yourself? If you’re having trouble writing a certain scene or story, this could easily be the reason why. It’s a very interesting little personality test.

Got your timer set? Okay…GO!

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So here’s my list:

1. Rainbows
2. My teddy bear, Charlie
3. My laptop
4. Black-eyed Susans
5. My best friends from high school
6. My books
7. Phone calls from my sister
8. The stories my dad tells
9. Mom’s moussaka
10. Magic

I went a little over and jotted down a few more things, since I knew 25 was usually the goal:
11. The ocean
12. Sunsets
13. Joe’s devious smile
14. Four leaf clovers
15. The Milky Way

Barbara had some of the women volunteer to read their lists aloud. She then asked them what type of fiction they wrote, and we could see how that was (or wasn’t, but in most cases was) reflected in their list. Most lists had things like children’s laughter, or food, or vacation spots. I heard each one of these women and kept looking down at my own list.

I finally leaned over to Mermaid Carlene and whispered, “My list looks like a twelve year old wrote it.”

Most people might have been embarrassed by such a list, but not me. I know exactly which things I value in this life–they are things that make me smile. I hunt down those things and surround myself with them. When I moved to TN I had a series of evacuation dreams. The house is on fire! What do you grab? It was always Charlie and my laptop, without exception. When the tornadoes hit, it was Charlie and me and the laptop in the bathtub.

When I was at my most depressed, I told someone about the prism my mom always hung in the kitchen, and how it used to make rainbows everywhere. I loved that thing. It always made me smile. So I bought a ton of crystal prisms and hung them all over my house. I even have one hanging from the rear view mirror of my car. I am rarely without rainbows. They are very important to me.

I am proud of my list. It’s very me, and very true. And yeah, it maybe looks like a twelve year old wrote it. But so what? I write picture books and young adult fairy tales full of magic and large families and storytelling and true love. I call myself a princess and wear tiaras in public. I know my voice, and I am very comfortable inside it.

So…what’s your voice like?

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