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Status of the Woodcutter Sisters

I’ve been putting off writing this post. When you read it, you’ll realize why.

Once a week or so, I get an email asking about the fate of the Woodcutter Sisters series.

The short answer: Get everyone you know to pledge their support to my Patreon. When I hit $2500, I will drop everything and finish writing the Woodcutter Sisters, as originally planned. (Seven books in total, Sunday – Monday…and yes, I know exactly what happens)

Woodcutter Sisters 3

The longer answer: Harcourt still has the North American rights to the first three books in the series.

Back in 2014, I was dumped by my publisher and my boyfriend on the same day.

Harcourt had some big reorganization and everyone who ever worked on the Woodcutters left the company. In a way, getting dumped was a blessing–few authors have positive experiences working with a new editor after they’ve been “orphaned.”

It also paved the way for a project I’d pitched that they’d turned down: Writing a short novel based on what happened to Trix in Hero (a storyline they made me remove from the book entirely because “pacing”).

My goal was to finish Trix’s novel and use it to teach myself all the ways of this new-fangled “indie publishing.” I had launched my own small press back in 2005 (Nyx Books), but a lot had changed in the decade since I’d dipped my toe in the print-on-demand business. I did have a leg up, having owned a publishing company before and having a ton of contacts in the industry…but that also made it scarier. Because I knew just what I was getting myself into, and the superior level of quality I expected from my books.

And let’s be honest: mentally, after getting dumped, I felt like a Giant Failure. Plus, remember how 2014 was the year that a bunch of my close friends and family kept dying?

Yeah. One doesn’t exactly snap back from that.

It took a while to get off the ground, but eventually Trixter was published, along with Tales of Arilland (the fairy tale short story collection I’d pitched and gotten rejected) and a few other things. I even wrote a sequel called Trix and the Faerie Queen — not something I’d originally planned, but a plotline I realize I LOVED.

I started writing Thieftess (Thursday’s book). I even had a model do a photo shoot for Thursday’s cover. (Yes, we still have those pics. She is SO Thursday!)

I wanted to  get myself on better financial ground before I completely threw myself into writing the rest of the series. It takes a lot of head space to get into a series like the Woodcutters, and anxieties like “bills” and “utilities” and “credit card debt” and “car repairs” really chip away at that space. (I still have no car, btw. Haven’t for over a year.)

What I found out was: continuing to write in the world of Arilland wasn’t making me significant money. The reason? I don’t have the rights to the first three books. I can’t put them on sale, or make the first one permafree. I can’t offer them up for Bookbub deals.

I make 89.9 cents on every paperback copy of Enchanted sold (as opposed to $2-3 on each indie book sold). I get that money twice a year. And those books aren’t selling particularly well. Enchanted, Hero, and Dearest combined pull in about $2000 every six months. That’s not nearly enough to live on. The up side is, once the sales of those books fall below a certain threshold, I can have the rights back.

So you see my dilemma.

When I get my rights back for Enchanted, Hero, and Dearest, here is the plan:

–Reprint all of the books, with better covers. (I’ll keep the titles, because we’re in this too far to change them now.)

–Release an “author’s preferred edition” of Enchanted, that puts back in most of the 30,000 words the publisher asked me to take out. (A lot of this is about Prince Rumbold, which was published in Tales of Arilland as “The Cursed Prince.” A lot are deleted scenes I read on YouTube.)

–Audible is still interested in producing the rest of the series, when they are published, and Katy Kellgren is still interested in narrating.

What I am doing right now: I am writing.

The Truth About Cats & Wolves: A Nocturne Falls Universe NovelI spent years teaching myself every aspect of indie publishing…and realized the hard way that I’d taken the wrong road by pursuing the Woodcutters. I ended 2016 broke, desperate, and still writing like mad.

I threw everything I had into my career, pulled out all the stops. Thus my recent (and awesome!) endeavors in Nocturne Falls, the “Once” anthologies, and The Simi’s ABCs book.

I also have plans to start a new series–comedy romance, like the books I write for NFU, but obviously more fairy tale based. In fact, I’ve seeded a bunch of characters and worldbuilding into my NFU books already…

Yes. I would like to at least finish Book Three of The Trix Adventures (Trix and the Fire Witch), but as of the writing of this post, my life is All Nocturne Falls All the Time. And traveling with Sherri. And narrating stories for ACX and IGMS. And doing about a thousand other things to try and bring in every penny I can, because I know how fickle this industry is, and I’m still not standing on financially solid ground.

So there you have it. The very long (and mildly depressing) answer.

I would love to be able to write the rest of the Woodcutter Sisters books. As a terminal optimist, I believe that one day, I will be able to. YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

In the meantime…buy a t-shirt! Buy Trixter or Trix & the Faerie Queen or Haven, Kansas! Or any of my short stories or audiobooks! Review them! Buy them for your local library! Share them with friends!

And please support me on Patreon!

All the love in the world,

xox

Alethea

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List of Fairy Tales Referenced in Enchanted

Because I get asked this so many times–and because I have the audiobook to refresh my memory–here’s a handy-dandy list for you. I am sure this is incomplete, but at the very least, these are all the stories I meant to include ON PURPOSE.

List of Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and Classic Fantasy Novels Referenced in Enchanted (in order or appearance…mostly)

Madeleine Lemaire - Les fées (1908)1. “Monday’s Child is Fair of Face” (Nursery rhyme)
2. Seventh son of a seventh son (trope)
3. Cu Chulainn (Irish myth)
4. “The Foundling” (Grimm)
5. “The Frog Prince” (Grimm)
6. “Snow White & Rose Red” (Grimm)
7. “The Red Shoes” (Andersen)
8. “The Princess & the Pea” (Andersen)
9. “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (Grimm)
10. The Princess Bride (Goldman)
11. “Rumpelstiltskin” (Grimm)
12. “Rapunzel” (Grimm)
13. “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” (Nursery rhyme)
14. “Jack & the Beanstalk” (Grimm)
15. Robin Hood (English folklore)
16. “The Fairies” (aka “Diamonds & Toads”) (Perrault)
17. “Sleeping Beauty” (Grimm)
18. “What Little Boys are Made Of” (nursery rhyme)
19. “Cinderella” (Grimm)
20. “Snow White” (Grimm)
21. “Simple Simon” (Nursery rhyme)
22. “Fitcher’s Bird” (aka “Bluebeard) (Grimm/Perrault)
23. Comte de Saint Germain (French history/legend)
24. “One for Sorrow” (Nursery rhyme)
25. Tam Lin (Scottish ballad/legend)
26. The Darkangel (Pierce)
27. Beauty (McKinley)
28. The Secret Garden (Burnett)
29. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (Andersen)
30. “The Goose Girl” (Grimm)
31. The Book of Three (Alexander)
32. “The Female of the Species” (Kipling)
33. “Sick” (Silverstein)
34. Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery)
35. Peter Pan (Barrie)
36. “Little Red Riding Hood” (Grimm)

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DEAREST — Adventures on the Intarwebs!

Dearest, coming Feb 3, 2015All the work I’ve done finally comes to fruition. I have seeded the intarwebs with 32 flavors of amazing magic JUST FOR YOU!

Click here to purchase your copy of Dearest today

Follow the February Tour!

1 – Launch
2 – Lilac Reviews
3 – Special post @ Waterworld Mermaids

3 – Coffee Books & Art & The Book Lovers’ Lounge
4 – Special post @ USA Today’s Happy Ever After

4 – Buried Under Books, Mommabears Book Blog, & Rabid Reads
5 – Interview @ J.T. Ellison

5 – Gidget Girls Reading
6 – Zerina Blossom & Geo Librarian
8 – Welcome to Book City
9 – Kelly P’s Blog & Katy’s Krazy Books
10 – Mel’s Shelves & Jan Edwards
11 – Katie’s Clean Book Collection
12 – A Backwards Story
& Wishful Endings
13 – Library of a Book Witch & The Quotable
14 –
Biggest Literary Crushes post on @ Teen Reads
15 – The Written Adventure
16 – My Life Loves and Passion & Colorimetry
17 – I Am A Reader & The Library of the Seen

18 – Special post on @ Dear Teen Me
18 – Printcess & Living a Goddess Life & Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf
19 – 100 Pages A Day & mrsjennyreads
20 – Books and Ashes & Addicted Readers
22 – Miss Little Book Addict YA House of Books
23 – SBM Book Obsession
24 – Deal Sharing Aunt
25 – Min Reads and Reviews
26 – Pieces of Whimsy & Wonderous Reviews
27 – The Scribbling Sprite
28 – Grand Finale

Prism Book Tours

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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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New Videos

It’s been a busy week leading up the Florida move (I say, from a balcony window seat currently overlooking Niagara Falls) — I’ve posted lots of things all over the intarwebs, but I’ve been remiss about linking them on the blog.

So here you go!

Last Monday’s Fairy Tale Rant (remember, if you’d like to pitch in and donate $1 or more for every Fairy Tale Rant that gets posted, head over to my Patreon site and become a Patron of the Arts!)

I’ve also updated the Official ENCHANTED Book Trailer, so that it’s not just for last year’s SYNC program anymore. Please enjoy and share with new friends and fans!

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Princess Alethea and the Power of Words

As promised, here is the small speech I gave at the World Book Night Givers Reception last night at Gum Springs Library. xox

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WBN Loves Cover“Words have power.” This phrase was said by Mama Woodcutter to her youngest daughter Sunday, in my novel Enchanted.

Words have power. We all know this to be true…of course, in my book, I took it literally (no spoilers for those who haven’t read it!).

Words have power. Enchanted contains around 74,000 of them. I’d say that’s a decent amount of power.

If words could be converted into kilowatts, this library could light up the city. But when I say “power” in this context I don’t mean electrical…I mean MAGIC.

And, as I always say, Magic is best when shared.

It was my father who first shared this magic with me, reading to me every night when I was a baby. When I was three, Mom realized that *I* was the one reading, while Dad snored peacefully away on the bed beside me.

THAT’S how powerful words are to me. I never remember learning how to read. It’s like I just knew. To me, words have always been magic.

From that point on, books were my life. They were my favorite things in the world. I was not shy about telling people this, so I always got books as gifts from my family. Some kids get turtles or unicorns or teddy bears–I got books.

I still have the ones that were inscribed to me by my grandmothers and my aunt. Thanks to a plethora of Library Book Sales, I even have a bunch of books inscribed to other people. I love those just as much, even though I never knew the givers or the recipients. It simply adds history to the character of the book itself, giving it a place and a time, a purpose, and a life.

Tomorrow night, World Book Night Givers will be giving life to half a million books all across the United States.

That’s some pretty powerful magic, if I do say so myself.

And what better way to share the magic of reading? It’s so wonderful when a friend puts a book into my hand and says, “You must read this!” There are billions of books out there, but that one made it through the slush pile and was vetted by my very own personal pre-reader. What more could I ask for?

I remember those moments–powerful, strong memories. I remember when the local bookseller handed me the hardcover of Robin McKinley’s Deerskin and told me I was going to love it. I had just graduated high school. Almost a decade later, my co-worker Kitti walked into my cubicle and forced a book into my hands, making me SWEAR I would read it. That book was A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Of course, I am TOTALLY guilty of pushing books off on other people as well. There are books I look for at book sales for the sole purpose of hoarding multiple copies to force upon my friends at will. Some of those titles have been: William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Orson Scott Card’s novelization of The Abyss, and The Monster at the End of This Book, starring Grover. (Still one of the best baby shower gifts of all time!)

Givers, tomorrow night, you will be making these memories. You will be the one who means something to someone so powerfully that they will remember it for the rest of their lives. It may not be the same with every person you hand that book to, but at least one book in that box you’re taking home with you tonight is going to make a difference. And that is a powerful thing.

Because words have power. Words are magic. And magic is best when shared.

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Waiting for Maleficent

(Now I want to write a parody play with this title. But that’s beside the point…)

I was notified yesterday that The Huffington Post had cited THE ENTIRE WOODCUTTER SISTERS SERIES as part of a list of “10 Books to Read While Impatiently Waiting for Maleficent.”

WOOHOOOO!!!!!!!
Yeah, I’m still dancing about it.

To read the article with the full list (which is a great list, btw), check it out here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/colleen-oakes/10-books-to-read-while-wa_b_5090743.html

…and be sure to share it with all the teens, librarians, teachers, and other fairy tale fanatics of your acquaintance!

I *am* part of the horde eagerly awaiting the new Maleficent flick. If you haven’t seen the preview for that yet, watch it here!

 

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WBN Loves Enchanted!

WBN Loves Cover

ENCHANTED is sponsoring the World Book Night Twitter feed today!

If you’re on Twitter, tell @WBNAmerica your favorite fairy tale, using the hashtag #WBNLoves — and thank you for the love!

xox

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Fast Forward TV Interview is Now Live!

The great thing about Snow Days isn’t just how much *you* get done, it’s how much *other people* get done when removed from the distraction of their pesky day jobs.

And…VOILA! My Fast Forward TV Interview is now live. (And the links in Monday’s Fairy Tale Rant have been updated to reflect this.)

Enjoy! xox

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Give the Gift of Reading

Hero, October 1, 2013Would you like a book personalized & signed by Alethea? Contact One More Page Books in Arlington at 703-300-9746 or via email to place your order.

Online affiliate links for Alethea’s books can be found HERE.

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