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National Poetry Month, Day 16

I fell in love with this poem because it was the one that Anne of Green Gables performed enthusiastically to a surprised and welcoming crowd. By rights I should have fallen for “Lady of Shalott” in a similar fashion, but for whatever reason I’ve never quite warmed to the Arthurian legends.

A thief in love? MUCH more my speed. And thanks to Lorena McKennit, I have memorixed far more lines of this lengthy piece than I ever thought I would.

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The Highwayman
By Alfred Noyes
PART ONE

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

PART TWO

He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
Marching—marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

. . .

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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Sarah Interviews Princess Alethea

I was recently contacted by a high school student named Sarah K, asking for my answers on a survey she was doing for her English class…she had chosen “authors” as her demographic.

I was so intrigued by her questions that I asked if I could post them here, and she said yes. Thanks, Sarah!

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Taking Care of Business, original film posterName: Alethea Kontis
Age: 38
Race: French Canadian/Greek American
Gender: Female

What qualities do you consistently put into the protagonists of your novels? Why?
All of my protagonists have a weakness. (This weakness is usually a weakness I have as well.) In the course of the story, they are challenged and forced–at some point–to overcome this weakness.
Nobody wants to read about perfect characters! I want to read about characters like me. We might not have the same color hair or eyes or skin, but maybe she’s scared of crowds or he’s done some terrible things in his past that he regrets…and through that porthole I become that character I’m reading. I want that to happen to my readers, too.

How has being an author changed you?
I have always been a writer–I have been writing creative things down and submitting them for publication since the age of eight. Being an author as a career is a different story entirely. I have become a loud, colorful celebrity, the freak I wish I had met when I was twelve so that I knew being like this–painting my face and dyeing my hair blue and waking up with glitter on my pillow–was a valid life choice. When I was a teen, I was quiet and frumpy and hid in the corners, watching and collecting misfits. Now I jump into whatever situation scares me and live my life in such a way that I will always be able to tell great stories.

How does love in the real world compare to fictional love?
A wise man told me once: “The difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” There are different kinds of love, and different kinds of pain, and the more you live, the more you discover. I’m still a work in progress.

If you truly had the power to change anything about the world, where would you start?
I would give everyone in the world a huge injection of self-confidence and a good night’s sleep. I honestly think this is the solution to World Peace.

What is the difference between reality and perception?
When I was a teen, one of the movie posters on the ceiling above my bed was Taking Care of Business. It had James Belushi surfing on the roof of a fancy car and the tagline: “You are who you pretend to be.” As a child actress, this line always spoke to me and, when I was brave enough, I lived the life I wanted instead of the life I felt that had been forced upon me. Bad things happen to everyone. Good things happen too. THAT is reality. Perception is what you choose to do with that.

What is truth?
That’s an easy one: ME! Truth is my first name. “Alethea” means “truth” in Greek. I was named after a character Jodie Foster played in an episode of the TV show Kung Fu — a little girl that bravely chose not to tell a lie. Trust me, it’s as much of a curse as it is a blessing!

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National Poetry Month, Day 15

Reportedly, this is the world’s shortest poem, attributed to Ogden Nash (but under debate):

Fleas
Adam
Had ‘em.

Ogden Nash did, however, pen these shortie-but-goodies:

Parsley
It’s gharsley

and

I like mustard
Even on custard

and

The trouble with a kitten is THAT
Eventually it becomes a CAT.

This may have been at the heart of why I loved Ogden Nash so much as a child — everything was poetry, no matter how long or short, how serious or funny.

EVERYTHING.

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National Poetry Month, Day 14

Also in 10th grade, each of us had to choose a song for class and discuss the poetry of the lyrics. Casey chose “Pure” by The Lightning Seeds…our favorite song that year. I went more Broadway and selected “The Rose”, written by Amanda McBroom and made famous by Bette Midler in the 1979 film of the same name.

“The Rose”

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin’
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.

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Princess Alethea Rants “Clever Gretel”

Happy Monday — a new fairy tale rant is live!

Today, Princess Alethea rants about the Grimms’ tale “Clever Gretel.” Watch, enjoy, and share! xox

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National Poetry Month, Day 13

This is just to say…that what I really wish I still had is Josh Rayner’s parody of this poem he wrote me in 10th grade that started out, “I burned your newly-finished novel yesterday…”

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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A Sad Day

AlphaOops: The Day Z Went FirstI am sad to report that after eight happy years, Candlewick is finally putting ALPHAOOPS: THE DAY Z WENT FIRST out of print in hardcover.

There are only about 50 left in existence — if you’ve ever wanted one–for you or as a gift for a friend — now’s the time to pick one up. You guys get whatever you want, and then I’ll buy the rest.

I still hate that this is happening before AlphaOops: Christmas ever had a shot. There is a sadness in my heart, deep down, and I’m not sure it will ever go away. <3

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0763627283/wwwaletheakon-20

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National Poetry Month, Day 12

In honor of Charlie’s USA Today debut:

“See them in the windows
See them everywhere
Shapeless little creatures
Called the Teddy bears.”

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In Which Charlie Rules the World

Yes, I am a grown woman who sleeps with a teddy bear. In fact, that teddy bear is so famous, he’s in my professional author bio.

“Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.”

Today in USA Today’s Happy Ever After Blog, Joyce Lamb interviewed a bunch of romance authors about their favorite childhood toys. I told her about Charlie and sent her a photo that I had taken during a photo shoot in Vermont with my niece Alexa.

Check it out — Charlie got TOP BILLING! In USA TODAY!
(And if you ever wanted to know Charlie’s full name, here’s your chance to find out…)

I am such a proud mama today. *beams*

Three cheers for Charlie!

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The Lost Art of Everything

Lee mermaid avatarI’m over at the Waterworld Mermaids today discussing the Lost Arts of the Twenty-First Century…like handwriting, phone etiquette, and some other fun things I stumbled upon while doing an internet search that I never would have considered.

http://waterworldmermaids.com/2014/04/the-lost-art-of-lost-arts/

What do you think is becoming a New Lost Art?

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