Interview With the Goblin Princess

Once_Upon_a_QuestBlackbird Publishing interviewed me about my story “The Goblin and the Treasure,” my contribution to the new anthology Once Upon a Quest.

The story is based on a fairy tale most people have forgotten (or never knew in the first place): “The Goblin and the Grocer” from Andrew Lang’s Pink Fairy Book. I have always loved the message of this tale, which is essentially about how books can magically change one’s life for the better.

My heroine, however, is based on this AWESOME cover. Kira Kobold is one of the youngest soldiers who fought (unwillingly) in the Evil Queen’s army. Now that the war is at an end, the only work for someone like her is if she’s lucky enough to be chosen for a quest by the High Wizard Zelwynn.

Which she is, of course, along with a growly ogress, a surly dwarf, a dimwitted troll, and an overly optimistic goblin. This wasn’t exactly the quest she was looking for…but often the treasures we seek are not the ones we find in the end.

CLICK HERE to read the interview!

There’s more about this story, about me, and about what you can look forward to in the VERY NEAR FUTURE…

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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.
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. 
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.”
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. 
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. 
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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NEW RELEASE ALERT–The Glass Mountain” A Tale of Arilland

Happy book birthday to The Glass Mountain! The first in a long line of books for both me and Bianca to sign at conventions…

On the way to her wedding, brave and clever Princess Sabine falls into a Glass Mountain, where she is trapped with a crotchety, smelly man she calls “Old Rinkrank.” The two form a unique, unlikely friendship while working to escape.

Alethea Kontis’s take on this classic Grimms’ fairy tale is a dark, yet optimistic novelette of magic, mystery, and love.


Preorder e-book and paperback: Amazon | Nook | Kobo | iTunes

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FREE BOOK ALERT! (Also, Enter to Win 45+ Chick Lit Novels)

Love to read romantic comedy & chick lit?

Enjoy the chance to win 49 romantic comedy & chick lit novels from your favorite award-winning and bestselling authors, plus a brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet!

You’ll also receive a collection of free ebooks just for joining!

Check out all the book covers here!

The Grand Prize winner receives an e-reader and all participating books. One runner-up receives all books.

This is the last day to enter! Participating is easy — just CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!


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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.)


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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Princess MOI, Down & Dirty on Happy Ever After!


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!



Simi Lee

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NEW RELEASE ALERT: Besphinxed (Nocturne Falls Universe)

Happy book birthday to Besphinxed, the third installment in my Nocturne Falls Universe mini-series!

e-book and paperback: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Heather Hayden has everything a young witch could desire: beauty, money, popularity, and exceptionally strong magical powers. Too bad she’s also got a dysfunctional family that couldn’t care less about her and a Head Witch who’s watching her every move. Heather has no idea what she wants. But she’s pretty sure it’s not some low-rent cat shifter boy from goddess-knows-where, despite the fact that their paths keep crossing again and again…and again.

Owen Liddell is in big trouble. A hundred years ago, a descendant of Arachne tricked him into staring into the eyes of the Great Sphinx, leaving him bespelled into the form a cat. Now Arachne’s sisters have found him again and placed one of their own as a substitute teacher at Harmswood. And if that weren’t bad enough, destiny got involved, tangling his heart up with the most popular witch in school: his best friend Kai’s sworn enemy.

Can Owen escape the evil spider sisters, thwart the spell, rescue the girl, save his friendship and pass his finals all before Zombie Prom? It seems unlikely. But unlikely things are known to happen in Nocturne Falls…

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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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NEW RELEASE ALERT: Once Upon a Quest (Fairy Tale Anthology)

The “Once Upon” series has been so much fun to be a part of…I’m honored to have been included since the first volume. We’ve done Curses and Kisses…this time, it’s all about Quests!

And THIS COVER! Christine shared the art she was going to use before I started writing my story, and I was so incredibly inspired that the character Kira Kobold was 100% based on our cover model. Like, I’m not even kidding. The way I set up my computer screen, “Kira” stared at me with all that warrior-like intensity the entire time I was writing.

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 10.04.04 PM

When adventure calls, the bold of heart will answer…


LIMITED TIME: 99 cents across all platforms!

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Contains Alethea’s short story “The Goblin and the Treasure,” a fairy tale retelling of Hans Christian Andersen.

Out-of-work soldier Kira Kobold is handpicked by the High Wizard Zelwynn to go on a quest. Her companions? A growly ogress, a surly dwarf, a dimwitted troll, and an overly optimistic goblin. The goal? To find the Lost Treasure of Zelwynn, misplaced long ago somewhere in the Great Mountains. This wasn’t exactly the quest she was looking for…

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