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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Waterworld Mermaids LogoWhen it rains it pours. I should know by now that the minute I get home and prepped for NaNoWriMo, I suddenly find myself with multiple meetings and podcast interviews and guest blogs to share. Apres moi, le deluge!

Today, for example, two of my fabulous essays have gone live. The first: My now-infamous monthly blog post on the Waterworld Mermaids. This November me and a bunch of other fabulous author guests are discussing “What’s one thing you cannot write without?” My answer: LOVE.

That’s right. CLICK HERE and see what the tree-hugging hipy-dippy princess is on about now.

My second post is live at Apex Magazine — Apex is hosting their grand yearly subscription drive, and in honor of that they have asked some celebrity guests to stop by and chat about Short Stories. Of course, I jumped at the chance to talk about how I got hooked…and how that contributed to my juvenile life of crime.

Stop by, leave a comment or two, and above all — enjoy yourselves.

Happy November! xox

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“Blood from Stone” now live at Apex Magazine

Issue #43 of Apex Magazine is now live! Featuring:

Fiction
Blood from Stone” by Alethea Kontis
Labyrinth” by Mari Ness
Relic” by Jeffrey Ford

Nonfiction
Blood on Vellum: Notes from the Editor-in-Chief” by Lynne M. Thomas
You’re Not Supposed to Write That: Taboos in Speculative Fiction” by Vylar Kaftan
An Interview with Alethea Kontis” by Maggie Slater

Click the links to read for free, or Subscribe:
Apex (ePub/mobi/PDF)
Weightless (ePub/mobi/PDF)
Amazon (Kindle)

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PS: If you are not already familiar with the story of Bluebeard or the “Fitcher’s Bird” tale from Grimm, read it here first. You can also hear ME read it to YOU by following this link.

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The Princess and the Unicorns

A few years ago — 2009 to be exact — I decided I was going to bring the unicorn back. I missed it. Not as something to bastardize or make fun of, but the honest-to-god legendary immortal being of magnificence and power. I remember reading all sorts of historical books about unicorns when I was a teenager, so I started collecting them again.

And then I started writing stories.For who better to bring the unicorns back than a Princess?

Now, selling stories with unicorns in them used to be about as east as selling stories with elves — which is to say, impossible. But I got Beth Wodzinski to cave and buy not only a unicorn story, but a STEAMPUNK unicorn story called “The Giant and the Unicorn,” against her better judgement. And that was just the beginning.

I wrote a postapocalyptic space opera called “The Unicorn Tree” and sold it to an anthology. I wrote what I consider to be the best story I’ve ever written — “The Unicorn Hunter” — for John Skipp’s upcoming DEMONS anthology. I even wrote a very short (500ish-word) new fable about the unicorn for New Myths, but their site went down when I wanted to submit it, and by the time it was back up again, I’d forgotten all about “Unicorn Gold.”

When Jason asked me if I had anything to contribute to his new Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy e-Anthology, I pulled up my fiction file and went through the stories one by one…and found it again.

“Unicorn Gold” is about a selfish prince, and the lessons he learns from trying to snare a unicorn. It’s a lovely little story — I’m so glad Jason came along to rescue it from the depths of oblivion known as the “AK WRITING” file.

I encourage you all to pop over and purchase Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy (only $2.99!) for your e-reader. I am only one of many stories on this fabulous Table of Contents!

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“Dedalus and the Labyrinth“ – J.M. McDermott
“The Imagination Hospital“ – Guy Hasson
“Ride of a Lifetime“ – Patrick S. Tomlinson
“The Komastu“ – Jennifer Brozek
“Stinker City“ – George R. Galuschak
“Tailfeather“ – Monica Valentinelli
“Temple of Regrets“ – Maurice Broaddus
“Haunted Empire“ – Deanna Knippling
“And Night Swallowed the World“ – Paul Jessup
“BollyWorld Gods, Bubonic Men, and the Cyberpunk Samurai“ – O.M.R. Anwar and M. Zak Anwar
“Coming Home“ – Gene O’Neill
“Extremum“ – R. Thomas Riley and Roy C. Booth
“Ride the Wild Wind“ – Gill Ainsworth
“In Her Image“ – Michael A. Burstein
“Unicorn Gold“ – Alethea Kontis
“Gemphalon“ – Elizabeth Engstrom
“G-O-O-D-B-Y-E“ – Nick Mamatas
“Covenant“ – Lavie Tidhar

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In Which Sarah Peduzzi Interviews Me

Sarah Peduzzi, lovely and sweet blog editor over at Apex Book Company, dropped me a line about a week and a half ago asking if I’d be willing to do a guest post for the site.

Jason Sizemore was the very first person in the world to professionally publish my writing (all the book reviews I’d done for the local paper prior to that had been for free). Because of that I will always hold a special place in my heart for Apex (and Jason), so of course I told Sarah “yes!”

The best part was, I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about. I had just launched the Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Theatre podcast project, and since no one knew it was coming, no one had asked me anything about it.I jumped at the chance to do an interview. Who doesn’t like talking about their passions?

Sarah told me I could wait until late March for a slot on the blog, but if I had time right away, I could get the February 10th slot. I had the interview answers to her that Monday.

Click here to read my interview with Sarah about podcasting and my love of fairy tales.

Click here to order your very own signed copy of Beauty & Dynamite (it’s still eligible for the Byte & Sign promotion!)

Click here (and scroll to the bottom) to read some other fun interviews with me.

Click here to read the fun Genre Chick interviews I’ve done with other people.

Click here to see Friday’s xkcd comic.

So…what’s your favorite fairy tale?

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Darkness and Valentines

Know what people love to get for Valentine’s Day? Flowers.

The problem with flowers, though, is that they’re only beautiful for a short period of time. You have to make sure they have fresh water, trim off the dead buds, and then finally toss the whole kit & caboodle in your trash can and scrub the mold out of your vase.

Know what’s better than moldy vases? Books.

Right now over at Apex Book Company, there are a whole lot of great sales going on, and a super-duper Valentine’s Day Promotion.

First, there’s the brand-spanking-new anthology DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS II. If you remember the first volume, it’s kind of like a “best of Apex Magazine” collection. The unique thing about this volume is that while all the stories were published online by Apex, this is the first time most of them (and possibly all of them) have been in print.

DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS II includes my post-apocalyptic Patsy Cline-inspired tale “A Poor Man’s Roses.” The price on this very lovely and very affordable trade paperback is $16.95. But if you order now, you can get DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS I & II for the low price of $25.00. It doesn’t come with a set of Ginsu knives, but Apex won’t rape you for “shipping & handling” like those horrible TV ads. (People pay that much for a $2 bill? Really? Pull the other one.)

If you’d like something a little more personal for your Valentine, might I suggest the Apex “Byte & Sign” promotion? Here’s how it works:

From now until Valentine’s Day, when you buy an Apex book, it will be signed by the author(s) (or the editor for anthologies) AND you will be emailed the digital version (ePub/mobi/PDF) for free.

That’s right — an e-book you can dive into immediately, and then a beautifully personalized book you can give your sweetheart later. It’s literally the gift that keeps on giving!

The Valentine’s Day promotion includes my infamous essay collection BEAUTY & DYNAMITE (which, if you think about it, includes some fairly romantic material and would make a really great Valentine’s gift…why didn’t I think of this before?)

Look at that gorgeous, romantic cover…and you guys know how colorfully decorated my signatures get when I have time. I don’t have a lot of these hanging around to bring to conventions anymore, so if you’re looking for a signed copy, now’s your perfect chance!

(And who knows…maybe if enough folks order it, maybe Apex will let me put out another one. Fingers crossed…)

HAPPY EARLY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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Fascinating New Things

As Murphy’s punishment for staying off the internet yesterday and cleaning the house (like the Fairy Goddaughters’ rooms weren’t punishment enough), I missed a couple of Fascinating New Things:

1.) There’s a new Llamas with Hats episode. I’m guessing I was probably the only one who didn’t Tweet about it, but here’s the link in case you missed it. Explosions, hilarity, death & mayhem, just in time for Christmas. Caaaaaaaaarl…

2.) There’s a new forum up at Apex Book Company. I have a section there, all to my lonesome where you are all welcome to come chat with me! As you know, I’ve had my own forum on the Brian Keene Message Board for a long time, but you have to sign up to read that one. Guests on Apex can read any of the babbling to and from authors, and if you want to post, all you have to do is sign up on WordPress (which you have to do on most blogs/forums nowadays).

Right now it’s just a lonely little place with nobody talking about anything. I think I’m going to pop over and jazz it up a bit. You are absolutely welcome to come by and add your two cents! (Especially if you’ve had too much egg nog.)

TTFN!

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Your Saturday Halloween Happiness

Does it get any happier than this? Ryan Sizemore–son of Apex book luminary Jason Sizemore–age 3, loves his copy of AlphaOops: H is for Halloween.

What a cutie! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a chance to hang with the Sizemore Brood.

Want to send me a picture of you & AlphaOops? Email me at akontis — at — gmail.com.

Have a great weekend!

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HCH<$10 Today Only!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Halloween-o-philes & spooky story aficionados — HARLAN COUNTY HORRORS IS AVAILABLE FOR ONLY $9.57 TODAY ONLY.

That’s what, the price of two Starbucks Frappuccinos? If you already have your copy, now’s the time to get one for that destitute book-loving friend you have that’s been hit hard by this economy. (Nowadays, we all have at least one of those…)

You might remember Harlan as the location of the TV series Justified. Who knew this little-known burg would get airtime on the small screen? Every time I see the show, it’s like a commercial for this book.

My contribution to this cool little anthology is a ghost story with fey undertones called “The Witch of Black Mountain.” I had a really great time doing research for this one — my thanks to Wikipedia and the surrounding national forest websites for providing the backdrop for this story. I wanted to stand in Ennica Jamison’s footsteps. I wanted to walk up that mountain with her and see what she saw. I researched exactly how long that walk would be, what the terrain looked like, the elevation, and what exactly she would find at the top. When I discovered what marked the pinnacle was an abandoned metal lookout tower, the story just told itself to me in my head.

The best review I received for this story was not in print, but came from a friend of mine whose father-in-law lived in Harlan.  He said that when he read the story, he felt like he was there on the mountain with Ennica, too. Mission accomplished!!

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Excerpt from “The Witch of Black Mountain”:

Letting Anthony Gentry get her pregnant was the stupidest thing Ennica Jamison had ever done. Hiking to the summit of Black Mountain to see a witch was the second. It had been a warm November afternoon when she’d left her stolen horse on the path at the base of the mountain; now it was cold and dusk. She placed a foot on the first step of the abandoned lookout tower. She’d been walking for hours, slow but determined, sprinkling what sanity she had left behind her like breadcrumbs in the dirt. She grasped the rusted orange railing firmly with a gloved hand. One last thing left to climb. One last moment before she discovered just how stupid she really was.

She stomped her boots hard on the metal to make sure there was no ice; each step brought one more inescapable thought along with it. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw herself stabbing Anthony in the heart—the heart he didn’t have—so she tried not to close her eyes, but her mind still raced against her will. How he and that bitch Tanya must have laughed at her; how they must be laughing at her still. Her father would be mad that she’d taken the horse out overnight, but he’d be furious when he found out he was going to be a grandfather.

Harlan County Horrors: Order your copy today while it’s still on sale!

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Apex Halloween Sale…and Contest…and Call For Stories

For two weeks only, from October 15th to the 30th, there will be a series of one day specials on select Apex Publications titles. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one book will be on sale at 40% off the cover price and $2.99 for the e-book version for one day only through the Apex Bookstore. The book of the day will be announced early each morning on those three days.

These discounted titles will be:
The Blackness Within
The Changed
Close Encounters of the Urban Kind
Dark Faith
Harlan County Horrors
Mama’s Boy
Orgy of Souls

And the contest? Buy any Apex book between Oct 15 and Oct 30 from the Apex Bookstore and your name goes into a raffle for one of the following prizes:

Grand Prize: A personalized short story critique (up to 7,500 words) with fiction editor Catherynne M. Valente. If you’re not a writer, then we’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card.

1st Runner Up Prize: An Apex Publication Minion pack (T-shirt, a mug and a shot glass).

2nd Runner Up Prize: $10 gift certificate for the Apex Bookstore.

Winners will be announced on the Apex Blog on Tuesday the 2nd of November.

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Jason Sizemore  of Apex has also started an entire line of Zombie fiction, and a website — The Zombie Feed — to discuss books, movies, and the entire zombie zeitgeist.

They are also reading for an anthology of zombie fiction.

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Guidelines page is here: http://thezombiefeed.biz/submissions/

Novella = 15,000-40,000 words
Novel = 40,001-80,000 words

As can be implied by the sizes described above, these are the word counts we’re seeking for each format.

What do we want?
Fast-paced zombie apocalypse fiction! Your zombies can be from any style…Romero, Viral, supernatural, etc.

What to submit?
Please submit the first 5,000 words of your manuscript. If 5,000 cuts your novel off in the middle of a sentence or paragraph, be reasonable and include the rest of the paragraph. Include a short bio and a brief high-level description of your novel/novella.

Rights requested
Exclusive First World English print and digital rights for three years.

Compensation
No advance. Royalty 10-20% against net receipts. Digital royalty of 40% against net receipts.

Distribution, Wholesale, and Marketing
The Zombie Feed is a micro-press, therefore, it should come as no surprise that we’ll be using the POD business model as our sales and distribution format for physical books. This means your book will be available through most online retailers, but not distributed through the brick & mortars. Naturally, your book will be available to the B&Ms, but on a strict no-returns policy (unless they go directly through The Zombie Feed then we’ll do returns).

The Zombie Feed will market your book, though we do hope for author assistance with this task.

Submission Address:
thezombienet at gmail.com

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Contributing to the Lunacy of Minors

Back in July, a bunch of Apex authors received an email from Jason Sizemore outlining another one of his crazy schemes. He was all excited, jumping up and down (one can imagine), frothing at the mouth (one supposes), and going on and on about how great this e-anthology he’s come up with is going to be. He’s offering nickles for reprints and dimes for originals, but it’s going to be available almost instantly for pennies. The stories have to be horror, just horror, no other constraints. It will be a great avenue for promoting Apex and her authors (I always think of that Alien Head as the Queen) and please send Jason something by the end of the month, thanks.

I chuckled as I closed the email and set it on the back burner. I write fairy tales and dark fantasy and the occasional ghost story, but I’ve never just written horror. Hmmm.

I told the Fairy Godfamily about Jason’s email on the way to the beach for the 4th of July weekend. I heard a similar “Hmmm” from Ariell in the backseat. She and I had previously discussed doing a collaboration. Perhaps this might be the venue? I told her I’d forward her the details when we got home. Perhaps we could think of something.

Two days later, Ariell and Kassidy and I were lying on sandy beach towels in massive amounts of pain, having been stung by stupid jellyfish. Tomo, who skedaddled when we spotted the first jelly, was attempting to distract us with a story of some girl in high school who got crapped upon by a seagull and was called an unfortunate name (think “craphead”, only worse) for the rest of term.

“We could write a story about a boy who gets crapped on by a seagull and then kills everyone who laughs at him,” I thought aloud. “A summer teen slasher short story. Why not?”

“You could kill all the kids from Awesome Porch,” offered Kassidy, who is never at a loss for victims.

“I could write the death scenes,” said Ariell, who knows my weakness when it comes to writing. I just don’t get gory.

“We’ll call it ‘Life’s a Beach,'” I said. I pulled out my little yellow notebook and we all decided who should die and how. Ariell took the notes and emailed me the death scenes when we got home. Then she hounded me for days asking if I had finished the story…because Ariell knows all my weaknesses when it comes to writing.

I finished it. For her. We read it aloud to Kassidy, who approved. We sent it off to Jason and crossed our fingers. He responded, highly amused at what we’d done and said it would be perfect for the anthology.

The last time I spoke to Jason, he didn’t even have a title for the anthology yet. I guess he got one quick — Apexology: Horror — as well as a cover, ’cause it went on sale yesterday. Go on, order it. Support Ariell’s first professional sale! For only $2.99, you download a .zip file with all the epub fonts and pdfs your little heart desires. Scanning the ToC, I’m not sure which stories are originals and which are reprints, thought I recognize a few. All I can tell you is, if you’re up for a silly teen slasher story, the one Ariell and I wrote is definitely worth $2.99 all by itself.

Thanks, guys. And congratulations Ariell!

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