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Royal Baker: This Month’s Cookie Reveal–Koulourakia

It’s that time of the month again! That’s right…the reveal of the cookie going to everyone on my Royal Baker tier! Last month was baklava, which is everyone else’s favorite. This month is one of MY favorites: koulourakia!

Koulourakia is typically known as an Easter cookie (thus the twisty design also used with Easter breads) — but Mom always made these for us around Christmas. They’re buttery, far less sweet cookies, and they pair fabulously with coffee and tea. (Almost like a shortbread!)

Depending on your family’s area of origin and traditions, these cookies might be laced with almond, orange, rose water, or anise. My family, happily, is of the “almond” variety. With a little vanilla thrown in for fun, too.

I still like making these around Christmas, rolling out sheets and sheets of sough while watching “White Christmas,” usually, or one of the other movies on my Alethea Yearly Holiday Movie List.

Does your family have cookies you only ever make at certain times of the year? Or things you make at a time when you’re not traditionally supposed to?

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Want to receive homemade Greek pastries every month, along with an ALL ACCESS PASS to Alethea’s Official Storm Chaser Diary and Pics? Become a Patron of the Princess today! Pledging as little as $1 a month gets you exclusive access!

 

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[StormChasing] Once In a Lifetime

I’ve had people say some strange things to me this past week, so I feel like it’s time to clear something up. This Storm Chasing event really is a Once In a Lifetime opportunity.

And when I say that, I mean: I have never done this before, and I will more than likely never do it again.

May is the height of storm chasing season in Tornado Alley. May is also one of the busiest convention seasons. Mo*Con, Wiscon, Nebula Awards Weekend, MegaCon…the list goes on.

I’ve had to turn down a lot of things in order to keep May 2018 clear on my calendar (and my May 2019 is already booked full, just in case you were wondering).

There are a couple of definitions for Full-Time Writer. There’s the kind of writer whose books (or spouse, etc) bring in enough to make ends meet, and then there’s the kind who’s really a freelancer with 624 jobs.

I’m the latter.

I write both fiction and non-fiction for paying outlets. I pick up podcast narration gigs whenever I can. I sell books online. I gather up my inventory and jump in the car with Bianca whenever she says, “I’m doing this comic con/street fair/whatever and you’re coming with me. Let’s go.” I write essays, take pictures, make baklava, and buy gifts for my Patrons. I’ve started teaching online writing workshops.

And this doesn’t include the promotion, the direct mailings, the prep work for presentations at conferences and school visits, the complete overhaul of my website, all the books I must read to review, and writing manuscripts and pitches for my agent to present to publishers (on top of juggling all the publishers and published books I already have).

Plus…you know…eating and sleeping and hydrating. (Tempest would like you to know that I’m not good at ANY of these things.)

Yes my job is “portable,” and I can do it from anywhere in the world (and have, in emergencies), but detours don’t make my to-do lists any shorter. Expensive detours —like storm chasing—don’t make my utility bills magically disappear either.

So please don’t think that my upcoming Storm Chasing Adventure is just some joy ride for me, or a new way of life I’ve suddenly chosen to lead.

I’m going to learn all I can and experience all I can in this unique window of time—how ever long the universe chooses it to be. I’m going to live every moment…and then sum up as many moments as I can in the Daily Storm Chasing Diary I compile for my Patrons (since they are helping to fund this trip!). I’m going to write up a million notes, and then most likely use them in a book (or twelve) down the line.

I’m looking at storm chasing this May like a trip to Hawaii, or Antarctica. This is a once in a lifetime chance for me, folks. I mean to look back on this summer one day and remember all the good times I had…all the things I learned…and all the friends I was able to share it with.

xox
~Alethea

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Remember: My Patrons will be receiving an ALL ACCESS PASS to Alethea’s Official Storm Chaser Diary and Pics! Become a Patron of the Princess today! Pledging as little as $1 a month gets you exclusive access!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in these posts are mine, and based on my personal experiences. I do not speak for the greater, established storm chasing community at large. Nor should these posts be used for scientific reference. Any mistakes made here are my own.

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[StormChasing] #FriendlyFriday Features Storm Chasing Master Chris Kridler!

Over on Patreon, Sarah and I run a feature every week called #FriendlyFriday, where we tell you all about my fabulous friends and what brilliant things that they are up to!
Since I am gearing up for my Storm Chaser Apprenticeship, I thought I should take a moment to tell you a little bit about the woman who helped inspire it: Chris Kridler! Chris is the author of the novels Funnel Vision, Tornado Pinball, and Zap Bang.
“Most chasers have a great reverence for the sky and a scientific interest in the weather, even if they aren’t scientists. As a photographer, I find storms challenging and enthralling. I don’t chase them to face death.” — Chris Kridler

 

Each Spring she heads for the middle of the US–Tornado Alley–to record and photograph some of the deadliest storms in our country. And this year I am riding shotgun!
Besides taking some breathtaking photos of these storms, Chris records all the data that comes along with them.  From precipitation to temperatures, the recorded information is used by scientists and storm chasers to help track down Plains supercells and tornadoes, Florida storms and tropical weather (hurricanes). 
She has been on hand for some of the worst storms in the last 20 years, including the EF3 (initially reported EF5) tornado at El Reno, Oklahoma in 2013, which was the widest ever recorded at 2.6 miles and took the lives of three well-respected storm chasers and at least 17 others. She will be the first person to tell you how dangerous storm chasing can be, but also how necessary it is for us to record and understand them. 
tornado“I would hate to see an end to storm chasing. Even though it’s a hobby for me, as well as a professional interest in terms of photography, it’s also been important to weather reporting, research and warnings over the decades. I’m not going to pretend that all storm chasers are virtuous life savers, because most of them aren’t. But most are good people who are happy to share what they know and respect the weather and others – who, like me, enjoy the beauty of the Plains, the challenge of forecasting, and the pleasures of traveling through middle America with friends. I fell in love with chasing when I took a storm tour in 1997. Since then, I’ve chased with friends or on my own all over Tornado Alley and beyond. I’ve given presentations about it. I’ve satirized it in novels. I’ve taken photographs I couldn’t get any other way. And I wouldn’t trade a minute of it, except for the moment when I learned that Tim Samaras and his crew were killed.
Friday was a terrible day, but I still want to see more storms. They are the only impartial and unstoppable forces in this drama, and they will still spin across the Plains, beautiful and dangerous, whether or not there are witnesses.” — Chris Kridler, on El Reno
I’ve ordered my special Storm Chaser tiara (more on that later!) and my #OzorBust t-shirt, I’m almost ready to hit the road with Chris! I hope you’ll follow along at home as we head out on our adventure this May. I can’t wait to see what the sky holds in store for us!
xox
Princess Alethea
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Remember: My Patrons will be receiving an ALL ACCESS PASS to Alethea’s Official Storm Chaser Diary and Pics! Become a Patron of the Princess today! Pledging as little as $1 a month gets you exclusive access!

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What’s Your Damage, Heather?

Heather HaydenIt’s been a while since I’ve sat down with my friend Nick Kaufmann, so it was lovely to be invited onto his blog to chat about what I felt was “The Scariest Part” of Besphinxed.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Besphinxed is a paranormal rom-com, not a horror! There’s some conflict and tension, sure…but the book isn’t SCARY.”

And this is where I say: Just because a book or story isn’t a horror, that doesn’t mean I didn’t scare myself while writing it.

So what was “The Scariest Part” of Besphinxed for me? Click here to read and find out!

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Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content! https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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“Hello, my name is…”

Everybody gets the story this month—Patrons and blog readers and social media followers alike. Everybody. Because I’m the Princess, and I said so.
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Hello, My Name Is…
Katy. Simi. Justin. Ursula. Dallas. Kathryn. Bill. An unconscionable amount of good people have left this world since my birthday in January. Want to know the worst part? I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Literally so many people in my life died in the last month that I lost count. 
I light a lot of candles these days. 
Katy died on my birthday. Bianca had whisked me away to Paradise City con in Miami by the time I got the news, so there was no time to grieve. Quincy Allen was around that weekend to provide bear hugs whenever I needed. I left the booth to cry in the bathroom the few times Leanna texted me, but I didn’t respond to her. I was not ready for that conversation. I did not want to “talk to anyone.” I had work to do. So I did it. 
I needed time to think about what sort of farewell I could write to my Audio Dream Girl. I still can’t manage it. There’s just so much to unpack. So much to process. Too much. And now, several weeks later, we’re four or five deaths down the line. 
I feel this way in my career sometimes. The to-do list becomes overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. Logic dictates that I begin with the first item on the list. But that’s not always the thing “speaks to me,” as Sherri Kenyon is so fond of saying. 
Bianca and I were at Orlando Toy & Comic Con when Kathryn went into the hospital. That con only lasted one day, so I was home when she didn’t make it through the second round of surgery. I had time to pray for Kathryn. I had time to grieve. I had time to cry, and scream at the world, and cry again. I cried a lot.
I cried so hard that Tempest came in the room and just hugged me for a while. I told her how mad I was…and how I didn’t feel like I even had the right to be weeping over Kathryn, since I hadn’t had the time to properly grieve for Katy yet. 
Alethea,” she said to me in that no-nonsense Tempest tone of hers. “That’s not how grief works.”
She was right, of course. I so desperately wanted to apply logic to this whole situation. But Feelings took Logic and laughed maniacally while tossing it out the window. 
But that’s me in a nutshell, isn’t it? The perfect fictional offspring of Mr. Spock and Deanna Troi. Though lately I’ve been wondering if I’m going to evolve into the Mad Hatter instead. Maybe I already have.
I don’t know what to say about Kathryn yet either—as Leanna pointed out this morning, we’ll probably have to wait for Dragon Con for those words and feelings to make themselves known to both of us. Kathryn’s spirit will be with us in the Green Room, no doubt about that. 
But Bill…I do have a story about Bill. A funny story. A story that pertains to writing. So everybody gets the story this month—Patrons and blog readers and social media followers—EVERYBODY. And to hell with logic. Because I said so. 
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AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First released in the summer of 2006. My very first “appearance” was an official Author Event at Ingram. I’d been an Ingram Book Buyer for six years at that point, and I had attended every Author Event. Every single one. Being able to meet bestselling and debut authors from all walks of life, each at varying stages in their careers—it was the publishing education I never had. 
I also made a lot of friends at Ingram in those six years. I was known far and wide for the Happy Holidays mix-CD I made every December and inter-officed to just about everyone in the company. I learned that the more friends one had at a giant corporation like Ingram, the faster one could get things done. 
So I made a lot of friends. And I did a lot of things. It was incredible amounts of fun. I was the Miss Congeniality of Bookville. 
One of those friends was Susan, the woman in charge of Author Events. The day before my AlphaOops appearance, we had a very important conversation. 
“Susan,” I said. “I need you on Post-its.”
Post-its are a very important thing at Author Events. After the author gives his or her talk, the audience lines up to get their books signed. (Everyone in the audience at Ingram receives a signed book.) One person stands ahead of the signing table, armed with a pad of Post-its. They ask, “Who would you like the book signed to?” They write the name down, spell it properly, and stick it opposite the title page.
In elementary school I was known as “The girl who stars in every play and that PBS show on TV.” People often know my name, but I don’t always know theirs. It’s the down side of a reputation that precedes you.
There were going to be a bunch of people at this Author Event who knew me, but whose names I didn’t know, or who I blanked out on in the heat of OMGBOOKSIGNING. (To this day, I still ask my best friends how to spell their names when signing their books.) I had nightmares of scores of people saying, “Just sign this to me,” as I sat there with zero clue as to who they were. I knew it was going to happen. I just KNEW. So I tried to prepare myself the best way possible: with Susan. 
“I’m on it,” she said.
I had one of most well-attended Author Events in Ingram history. Bigger than Johnnie Cochran. Bigger than Dave Ramsey. Bigger than Al and Tipper Gore. There was standing room only, and people out the door. I told the story of AlphaOops, how it came to be, and how the title was originally The Telaphab from Z to A
“My poor mom and I made so many beaded bracelets with the word ‘TELAPHAB’ on them,” I lamented, and about fifteen people across the auditorium raised their hands. 
They were all wearing TELAPHAB bracelets. 
I was so touched, I almost cried. But I didn’t, because I had work to do. After the round of thunderous applause I walked over to the signing table, already piled high with books. Susan stood at the ready, armed with Post-its and a smile, and we made that signing happen. I signed over a hundred and fifty books that afternoon, and I spelled everyone’s name correctly. 
Later that day, flush with triumph and riding high on the wave of a job well done, I grinned as one of the artists from the ad department stopped by my desk. 
“Hey,” he said. “I couldn’t make it to your event earlier, but I had someone snag me a book. Could you sign it for me?”
“Of course!” I said chipperly, taking out my signing pens. But inside I was freaking out. Because I had no clue what this guy’s name was. 
Book Buyers had no business in the ad department, and the artists almost never left their magical, dimly-lit caves lined with twinkle lights. I recognized him, of course—he was the tall, handsome, really nice one. But what was his name?? I tried to remember where we might’ve met, or at what company function I had seen him last. Nothing. Nothing
“To whom shall I sign it?” If I was really lucky, the book would be for his daughter or something. 
And then those dreaded words left his mouth. “Oh, just to me is fine.”
GAH. 
I opened the book and uncapped a marker. My hand hovered over the page as if I were trying to conjure the perfect inscription. What went through my mind instead was actually a lot of cursing, followed by HOW THE HECK DO I GET OUT OF THIS???
I couldn’t sign this man’s book. I couldn’t. I was just going to have to own up to my ignorance. 
“How do you spell that again?” I asked sheepishly. 
“Bill,” he said. “B-I-L-L.”
Yup. Bill. 
THIS WAS BILL ELLIOTT. 
Oh my god, I freaking knew that. I mean, I didn’t know, but I knew. And now I was just embarrassed. I felt my cheeks flush all over again as I bent over to sign the page. 
“Well, hey, Bil Keane only has one L,” I blurted awkwardly. 
Bill Elliott was an artist. He’d know exactly who Bil Keane was. Score one for the nerd girl who read everything she could get her hands on: every single TV guide article, cereal box, and newspaper comic strip—including The Family Circus
I didn’t have a lot of interactions with Bill after that, but I never forgot him after that day. I made sure he got a Happy Holiday CD every year, and every year I was the recipient of one of his original Christmas cards, even after I left the company. 
When Bill was sent home to rest, before the cancer snapped back with a vengeance that surprised even his doctors, Bill drew a new card to thank all of his friends and family for the support they had shown him during his illness. 
IMG_7060The last card. 
But Bill’s message of thanks is universal—it’s what I would say to all of you—my friends, my family—who have supported my artistic endeavors in the past and who continue to support me still. 
Thank you for being one of my reasons to smile. Your compassion and generosity continue to touch my heart in ways I cannot put into words. May your life always be filled with love, laughter, and peace. 
I love you all—every single one of you—right down the the bottom of my illogical, overly-emotional, crazy-filled, tea-drinking heart. 
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I will be writing a follow-up essay for my Royal Scholars (after I stop crying) that includes some tips on how to deal with the “Just make it out to me” situation, from both sides of the signing table. If you are not yet a Patron of the Wonderful World of Princess Alethea, I highly encourage you to come join the fun!
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My Coastal Magic 2018 Schedule

cmccTHIS THURSDAY kicks off the weekend we’ve been waiting for all winter long–Coastal Magic Con in Daytona Beach, FL! Dance parties, fun and games, and the opportunity to hang out with some of my closest writer friends ON THE BEACH!

Here’s my schedule for the weekend. (Between panels, you can find me at Leanna Renee Hieber’s vendor table.)

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Thursday, Feb 22

4:30-6:30pm — Welcome Mingle

Friday, Feb 23

11:30am — Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow (feat. Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi, Eric Asher, Deborah Blake, and Piper J. Drake)

4:00pm — Paranormal Author Meet & Greet (w/Leanna Renee Heiber & Mari Mancusi)

Saturday, Feb 24

9:00am — Hear, Here! (Audiobooks)

11:30am — Kids Just Wanna Have Fun (Shenanigans and Substance in YA)

12:30pm — Lunch with an Author

4:00-6:00pm — Pubic Book Sale / Signing (The Shores Resort & Spa Daytona Beach, FL)

 

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In Which Professor Blake Posts My Homework Assignment on the Internet

threeIt’s true: Professor Theodosia Blake, Head Witch of Harmswood Academy in my Nocturne Falls Universe series, was named after my dear friend Deborah Blake.

Deborah is a witchy professor in her own right–she’s written multiple books for Llewellyn on the subject. She also penned a fantastic series based around the mythology of the legendary witch Baba Yaga.

In fact, I first met (read: fell in love with) Deborah when we sat next to each other on a panel at Coastal Magic and she began talking about her series. I thought to myself, 1.) She absolutely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to fairy tales 2.) I need to get this series and 3.) I bet we’d be friends.

Turns out, she was thinking much the same thing! Oh, yeah. KINDRED SPIRITS.

Deborah is going to be part of the cast of Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow when it makes its debut at Coastal Magic this year, so Deborah and I were having an email chat. At which point she asked me if I would like to be a guest on her blog.

“Sure!” I said, because Besphinxed was coming out–it’s the witchiest of all my Nocturne Falls Universe books so far, so it felt entirely appropriate.

“Great!” she said. “Write me 500 words on the nuances of retelling fairy tales from different points of view and have it on my desk by Monday.”

So I did. You can read it HERE.

Yeah, I know…I’ve always been a teacher’s pet. What can I say? I LIKED SCHOOL.

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Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content! https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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Princess MOI, Down & Dirty on Happy Ever After!

HEA

It’s been too long since I joined forces with my dear friend Joyce Lamb at USA Today’s Happy Ever After. So when she asked a bunch of us to contribute to the HEA Valentine’s Day Feature Post, our subsequent emails led to  Joyce saying, “You’ve got a new book coming out? Well, let’s get Down & Dirty!”

TODAY (because we waste no time around these parts), my Down & Dirty interview is live on the HEA site.

This was one of those really fun interviews to do. Not because the answers lent themselves to being so short, but because thinking about them at all made for a really fun time. And as someone who has been on the asking end of as least as many interview questions I’ve answered, I can tell you that an interview where the subject has FUN is one that is definitely worth reading.

Here’s hoping that my Down & Dirty answers are a bright spot to your day today!

xox

~Alethea

Simi Lee

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Support Alethea Kontis on Patreon–even a $1 pledge gets you access to exclusive content! https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

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Me and My STARs Featured in Hometown News!

STAR Hometown News clipping It’s always a blast to find yourself in the local paper. Even more interesting is the perspective.

What you see here is a bunch of fun-loving romance writers whooping it up in the Great Outdoors. What I see is the Mikey Mason t-shirt I wore in honor of Mikey making some Grand Proclamation that morning to his Patreon followers…and the heart that Amy gave me after taking this photo, the one I wrote Kathryn‘s name on days later when she was going through her complicated heart surgery. I prayed she was going to make it. She did not. But I will light my candles and smile for her anyway, and dance and sing with my writing friends, because that’s exactly what she would have wanted.

The STARs were my first friends in Florida (apart from Bianca, who kidnapped me immediately and claimed me for her own BFF.) They remain some of my dearest friends to this day. THEY GET ME. It is so important to have people in your life who get you.

As I say in this article: “When I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone. The members of STAR instantly welcomed me and understood how important my career was to me. We brainstorm, share trials and errors, tips and tricks, and support one another as often as we can.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, my Best Beloveds!

Read the full article HERE.

Find out more about the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance HERE.

STAR Valentines Day Hometown News 2018

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There’s Still Time to Help Me Get a Car

Alethea car photoI haven’t had a car for almost two years now. I’m working hard to make this happen, but it’s been a slow process. Tempest helped me set up a site on YouCaring for my Birthday that we called the Birthday Car Fundapalooza, where folks could help pitch in, if they so desired. We made it up to about $1200, but realistically I need to get to $3000 to make this whole business a reality.

And there’s always Patreon — subscribe to the Wonderful World of Princess Alethea and get a certificate proclaiming you a member of the Royal Court of Arilland, a smile in your email every Monday, a random goodie in your mailbox every once in a while, the chance to enter to win mystery prizes, and–depending on your support level–get access to exclusive content!

Sarah and I have made it our goal to get the monthly pledges on my Patreon page up to $1000 before the end of the year. We’re going to be putting out a LOT of fun content this year.

Want in on the fun? CLICK HERE. We’d love to have you join the club!

 

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