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AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER–The Unicorn Hunter: A Tale of Arilland

So I tied Bianca to a chair and forced her to listen to “The Unicorn Hunter” on audio…okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much. It *is* still one of my favorite stories. That night, Bianca went to work her shift at Cafe Tu Tu Tango and she started the painting that would become the cover for the second chapbook in the Fairy Tales of Arilland series!

I present to you the AMAZINGLY GORGEOUS The Unicorn Hunter...now available for preorder!

unicornhunter

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Paperback (forthcoming)

Once upon a time, a princess was born with hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood, and skin as white as snow.

After the huntsman and before the dwarfs—while she was all alone in that great forest—the princess met a demon. He was hunting unicorns. And what bait could better snare his prey than the fairest of them all?

This is the secret tale that the princess never shared with the world.
This is the true story.

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You can own your very own print of Bianca’s The Unicorn Hunter cover art–order here: http://biancaart.storenvy.com/products/23186775-the-unicorn-hunter-8×10-print

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

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SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE! April Short Story Workshop for Teens

alethea-class-640x320I am honored to be surrounded by the most amazing people.

Of all the jobs I’ve had in my life–and there have been some amazing ones–I miss my tenure at YAS (the Youth After School program in Northern Virginia) the most. (Yes, I really did work for Parks and Rec. I still have all my polos!)

“I miss working with those kids so much,” I lamented to Tempest.

“Then why don’t you teach an online short story workshop for teens?” she asked.

Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, the announcement existed on Eventbrite. The event got shared a bazillion times. And donations for scholarships came rolling in! We now have over a dozen scholarships available for students: including students of color, black students, and LGBTQ students! (Interested students, apply here!)

The craziest part? I now have enough scholarships to stretch across three or four workshops. The prospect of continuing this venture brings me so much joy! But more importantly: I need students.

If you are or know of a young writer aged 13-19, please share this post with them! The first class technically starts on April 1st, but that’s just when the short stories are due. We’ll start talking in an online group the following Sunday, and each Sunday after that. Since it’s an intimate class this first time around (so far), we’ll pick a time on Sundays that works for everyone.

It has been suggested that I hold the next Teen Short Story workshop in June, when school is over for most teens…so keep your eyes peeled for announcements!

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Description

This writing workshop for young adults aged 13 to 19 will give students the opportunity for in-depth critiques on short fiction from YA, middle grade, and picture book author Alethea Kontis. Participants will learn how to critique and how to incorporate feedback from critiques for revision in a respectful and serious environment that prioritizes craft, community, and commitment to writing.

The workshop begins April 1 and goes through April 29, 2018.

In addition to giving and receiving critique, writers will take part in discussions about publishing, character development, structure, narrative voice, and other elements of short fiction.

Students may workshop original fiction or fanfiction from any genre: fantasy, science fiction, horror, romance, mystery, or literary.

Critique Sessions and Live Q&A will take place on Sunday April 8, 15, 22, and 29. There is no live session on April 1 (Easter). If you cannot make all of the live sessions you can still participate in this class. Writers must be present for their own critique and scheduling for the live sessions will take your availability into account. All peer critiques are due on Sundays.

This class is for any person aged 13 to 19 who has an interest in writing fiction and has at least one complete story to workshop. Stories should be 500 to 8,000 words. It doesn’t have to be polished (that’s what we’re here to help you do!) but it must have a beginning, middle, and end. All stories must be ready to turn in by March 31st.

All members of this workshop will have the opportunity to attend the “Steal Like A Pro – Writing Fiction Inspired By Other People’s Worlds (And How To Make It Your Own)” seminar with Alethea on April 14 for free (optional).

Scholarships

There is finaicial aid available for stuents who cannot afford the class. We will award up to six scholarships for this class.

Technical Requiements

Live Critique and Q&A sessions will take place over Zoom Video Conference software, which is free to download. To participate, students must have a microphone. A webcam is helpful, but not necessary.

Students must have or have access to a Google account/Gmail. Stories will be uploaded to a private Google Drive folder for critique. Discussion will take place on a private Google Groups mailing list.

COME JOIN THE FUN!

CLICK HERE TO ENROLL, OR JUST FIND OUT MORE!

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

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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…

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

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FREE BOOK

Elemental XmasFrom now until Christmas, every order from Princess Alethea’s Swag Shop will receive one free copy of ELEMENTAL!  http://princessalethea.storenvy.com/

While sorting out my library this year, I found multiple boxes of Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology. It was the first book I ever got published, a collection of SF All-Stars edited by me, with an intro by Arthur C. Clarke and a cover by Michael Whelan. I’ve got hardcovers, paperbacks, and ARCs…so if you’d like a particular version, please specify in the notes of your order!

Much love to you all, and Happy Holidays!

xox

~Alethea

 

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WWDD 99 Cent Sale!

In the mood for some dark & twisty stories?  Catch them quick–only 99 cents!

http://amzn.to/1U7AIcT

WWDD

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The Princess Formerly Known as Snow White

The Unicorn HunterReaders often ask me about my favorites. Favorite book that I’ve written. Favorite character I’ve invented. Favorite EVERYTHING. It’s so tough–like choosing a favorite child!

But I will admit…I do have a favorite short story. To this date, my favorite story that I’ve ever written is “The Unicorn Hunter.” I dreamed up the concept a very long time ago: if a certain unsavory character wanted to hunt unicorns, what better bait to use than “the fairest of them all”? But the story never came together. There was something missing. Until John Skipp asked me to contribute a story for his Demons anthology and it hit me. My missing element was A DEMON. Four days later, I wept as I wrote the last line because I didn’t want the story to be over.

Skipp published “The Unicorn Hunter” in his anthology, placing me right next to Neil Gaiman (again!). Apart from that claim to fame–and a very enthusiastic show of support from SF author Cat Rambo–nothing else really happened with the tale. But it was still my favorite.

That’s the thing about favorites. We just can’t let them go. I held onto these two characters so tightly that I wrote them right into the Woodcutter-filled world of Arilland. And when I assembled all of my fairy tale short stories into Tales of Arilland, I knew that “The Unicorn Hunter” had to be first in the Table of Contents.

While no names are used in the short story, it’s clear from the first paragraph which princess is being referenced. And while it’s not terribly obvious when Ashes makes her cameo appearance in Hero, eagle-eyed fans were incredibly excited to put two and two together. As was I.

This interview was posted on a friend’s website right around the release of the anthology. That post has gone the way of the Internet Black Hole–for that reason, I am publishing it again here for you to enjoy.

Perhaps in the next fairy tale anthology, I will include all the Troubadour interviews I’ve done with my characters. Come to think of it…I’m really going to need to write this Troubadour into Arilland, aren’t I? Oh, that will be FUN…

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Interview with The Princess Formerly Known as Snow White

Tales of ArillandTroubadour: I’m here today with Her Royal Majesty Princess Snow White, who has agreed to speak with us about some of the challenges she faced during her tumultuous–and infamous–childhood.

Princess: I agreed to meet with you only because my story-loving aunt sent you. I don’t want to talk about Snow White. She was a silly, stupid princess, and her jealous stepmother killed her. My name is Ashes-on-the-Wind.

Troubadour: Please forgive my impertinence. May I call you Ashes-on-the-Wind?

Princess: You may call me “Your Highness.” And I would thank you to not go transforming what I’m about to say to you into some sappy ballad; I don’t care what Aunt Sunday says.

Troubadour: I’ll do my best, Your Highness. But I really must implore you–the world is desperate to know what happened to that beautiful little girl the Huntsman led into the forest so many years ago. Were you frightened? Did he attack you?

Princess: (sighs and touches her left shoulder, briefly) I wasn’t afraid until he attacked me. But he didn’t get very far. I was saved by a…Unicorn Hunter.

Troubadour: Rumor has it that this Unicorn Hunter was a demon.

Princess: There are no such things as demons or unicorns, and don’t you dare tell the world any differently. I won’t have innocent girls or arrogant men chasing after either. I am the only one who knows what happened in that forest, and you will take me at my word.

Troubadour: As you wish, Your Highness. So this Unicorn Hunter–whatever his origin–saved you from certain peril?

Princess: He did. He needed my virtue intact, you see, to catch the unicorns. One can be the fairest of them all and still lose her virtue. (A far away look haunts her eyes) Instead, I lost my innocence.

Troubadour: The two of you became friends?

Princess: Yes. I believe we did.

Troubadour: Do you and the Unicorn Hunter still keep in touch?

Princess: No. He is…no longer a part of my life. I moved in with a band of hardworking miners and moved on with my life, just as we should move on with this interview.

Troubadour: Yes, Your Highness. One more question, if I may?

Princess: If you must.

Troubadour: It is also rumored that you are currently employed on a pirate ship. Is that correct?

Princess: (Smiles broadly) That is correct! (Pulls a folded paper from her breeches pocket) Here is a list of the captain I serve under, the men I work with, and all our ports of call.

Troubadour: Really?!? (Unfolds the paper. It is blank.)

Princess: No, not really! I used to be stupid, remember? (Drains the rest of her tankard and wipes her mouth on her sleeve) Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a deck to swab. Are we done?

Troubadour: Yes, Your Highness. Thank you, Your Highness.

Princess: No problem. Do send my aunt best wishes. And remember, no sappy ballads.

Troubadour: I’ll do my best, Your Highness.

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CLICK HERE to purchase a copy of Tales of Arilland in paperback or on Kindle — hardcover coming soon!

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Time for Tea…MOVE DOWN ONE

"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” This year is the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I have long since discovered that I can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t like Alice.

Two days ago, Lisa Mantchev and I spontaneously broke out into a dialogue on FB that would have been appropriate at a certain mad tea party. Which reminded me that TODAY IS MY UNBIRTHDAY.

Now, by Mad Hatter standards, a person has 364 unbirthdays (and a stopped watch is correct twice a day). But today–this day right here–is a very extra special unbirthday, and I’ll tell you why.

As most of you know, my *actual* birthday is January 11th. A fortuitous birthday to be sure — easy to remember, no matter which side of the pond you’re from, and pretty darn lucky from a numerological standpoint.

However, as any good Capricorn (and a few Saggitarians) will tell you, any birthday within two weeks of Christmas is just too darned close to Christmas. Everyone is  exhausted–mentally, physically, and monetarily–from the slew of holidays, and your birthday is just one more thing on the to-do list that should have been over already.

Now, I’m a fan of Christmas, so I’m not one of those folks (*cough*Robin*cough*) who goes ballistic if my birthday present happens to have Santas all over the wrapping paper, and after many years I got over the whole “Birthday-Christmas Combo Present” cop-out that most folks take.

No…what really got to me was the month of June.

Every June, giant boxes would show up at our house from all around the world. My mother’s birthday is in June, as is my little sister’s (yes, I grew up with two Geminis and learned how to be strong and patient because of it).  While my father is a Capricorn like me (he shares a birthday with Elvis and David Bowie), June is also Father’s Day.

That’s right–every June our house was like Christmas all over again.

With nothing for me.

Sometime around my thirteenth birthday, I decided that I’d had enough. I announced that I was changing my birthday to June 11th — my half-birthday of sorts — a day that dovetailed nicely alongside the Kontis Birthday/Father’s Day Summer Extravaganza. Everyone thought this was a great idea.

You guessed it: It totally backfired.

Not only did I not get any presents for my *actual* birthday that year, but by the time June rolled around, everyone had forgotten about it. Everyone, that is, except my Memere, who sent me a card (and other cards, randomly, in summers after that because she never could keep my birthday straight).

As written in Enchanted: Some things are meant to be, and some things are meant to be great stories. “Alethea’s June Birthday” is one of the Kontis Classics.

Which brings us to today.

As a Very Merry Unbirthday present to us all, I am super crazy excited to reveal to you the cover of my fairy tale short story collection TALES OF ARILLAND.

Want it on Kindle right this very second? CLICK THE PICTURE. Happy unbirthday!

Want it on Kindle right this very second? CLICK THE PICTURE. Happy unbirthday!

That’s right — those clever folks have already figured out that by clicking the title or cover photo above, you can purchase Tales on Kindle RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. (It’s also been uploaded to Nook, Kobo, iBooks & Google Play, but those sites take longer to go live–check back here for links tomorrow.)

These stories are all fairy tales I have written, and every single one–in some way, shape, or form–relates to the world of Arilland.

It’s a nifty thing. Some of them I wrote on purpose based on Arilland mythos (“Hero Worship”) and some I loved so much that I actually found a way to include it in the Arilland mythos (“Unicorn Hunter” and “Blood and Water”).

You don’t have to have read any of the Woodcutter books to enjoy this collection–though you will appreciate the original novelette of “Sunday” and “The Cursed Prince” history of Rumbold a lot more, I suspect…

What am I doing talking? Shoo! Go forth and read! And be sure to share the magic!

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Happy birthday, Jay.

Jay Vs. The Volcano CoverToday would have been Jay Lake’s 50th birthday.
He almost made it.

Back in 2008, the discovery of Jay’s tumor rattled us all. I’d had my own tumor scare in 2005, so I knew that keeping a sense of humor about the situation was the most important thing. Jay had that in spades. Trouble was…this tumor was not benign. Jay had colon cancer. For real and for true. The freakout ran deep.

But still we kept our spirits up…or tried to. We stayed in touch online. A lot. A bunch of us got together and wrote stories for a private anthology, just for Jay. STARRING Jay.

The editor made a secret link available for the contributors to order a copy if they so desired, but few of those stories ever saw the light of day. One such tale was Eric James Stone’s “The Six Billion Dollar Colon,” which he made public on his blog a year later on International Pixel-Stained Techno-Peasant Day.

Mine was a story of a slightly more personal nature, based on one of my favorite movies of all time: Joe Versus the Volcano. It’s called, appropriately, “Jay Versus the Volcano.” Possibly the closest thing I’ve ever written to fan fiction…and yet, an amazing adventure story all its own.

In honor of Jay’s 50th, I have made “Jay Versus the Volcano” available for free on Wattpad. Click the link here and enjoy.

I just read it over again for the first time in probably six years…I got teary-eyed a couple of times, but I only wept at the very end. This may be one of the best stories I’ve ever written. I’m glad I did it. And I’m glad it was for Jay.

Jay was very much my Epic Hero in Real Life, and I suspect he will continue to inspire me–and my writing–for many years to come.

My toast to Jay:

Jay’s soul brother Ken Scholes is also releasing a story today on Tor.com with Jay in the starring role. Do be sure to click on over to read “Jay Lake and the Last Temple of the Monkey King.”

Break out your Hawaiian shirts, socks, sandals, and tiaras today, folks.
May Jay’s legacy of kindness live in our hearts forever.

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Princess Alethea Featured on Wattpad

"The Monster & Mrs. Blake" by Alethea Kontis, cover art by FuseliI am so excited that my short story “The Monster & Mrs. Blake” is a Featured Story on Wattpad this week!

This story is suitable for all ages, would make a great PIXAR movie, and was originally meant to be read aloud as a podcast, so I highly encourage you to read it aloud to your children. Preferably before they go to bed tonight. 🙂

Click here, or on the cover illustration at the right to read the story (for free!) on Wattpad.

As always, PLEASE ENJOY AND SHARE!

And yes, my memory of this Far Side comic was indeed one of the inspirations for the story:

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