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


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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Fairy Tale Video Monday

Here’s your treat for today, from my reading at Capclave this past weekend!

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The 2013 YA Summer Reading Flowchart

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The Young Adult Summer Reading Flowchart

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Leanna Renee Hieber & Alethea Kontis @ KGB, March 20th

FANTASTIC FICTION at KGB reading series, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present:

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul) by Leanna Renee Hieber Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright and author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy series such as the Strangely Beautiful saga, the Magic Most Foul saga and the upcoming Eterna Files series for Tor. She is a four time Prism Award winner and her Strangely Beautiful saga is being adapted into a musical theatre production.
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis Alethea Kontis is the bestselling author of many shiny books for children. Her debut young adult fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the 2012 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. She lately hails from Northern Virginia, and is currently at work on Beloved, the third book in the Woodcutter Sisters series.

Wednesday, March 20th, 7pm at
KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
New York, NY

Readings are always free.
Please forward to friends at your own discretion.

Source Article from

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Lady Jane’s Salon

For those who aren’t familiar with the AWESOMENESS that is Lady Jane’s Salon, this Popular Romance article (and really great accompanying video) gives a fabulous overview of the venue and a sampling of some of the authors they’ve had perform there (including my dearest friends Leanna Renee Hieber and Dianna Love).

Lady Jane’s Salon from Laurie Kahn on Vimeo.


Here are the details for the Lady Jane’s Salon Event this Monday (May 7th) at which I will be appearing with Katy Kellgren to perform a selection from ENCHANTED!

Lady Jane’s Salon, New York City’s only monthly reading series devoted to romantic fiction, now in its fourth year with three satellite salons nationwide…

Join us in May as we welcome the following five great guest authors: Suleikha Snyder, Zoraida Cordova, Kate Cross, Alethea Kontis, and historical fiction bestseller Sherry Jones (JEWEL OF MEDINA, SWORD OF MEDINA), reading from their latest releases.

Admission: $5 or one paperback romance novel. Net proceeds support an end of year donation to a NYC women’s charity. Previous years’ charitable recipient:

Guest authors’ books will be available for sale and signing on site.

For more information, contact Salon Co-founder, Hope Tarr,

On Facebook: Lady Jane
On Twitter: @LadyJanesSalon

RSVP to the Event on Facebook HERE!

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WSFA First Friday — Starring Me!

WSFA — the Washington Science Fiction Writers — invited me to perform a reading of “The Monster and Mrs. Blake” this Friday for their “First Friday” series.

I am so super excited — not only to be able to do this reading in the first place for my new friends, but also to be able to put to use some of the tips that I learned during Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Reading 201 workshop held during Nebula Weekend.

There is also a WSFA meeting that night — the reading takes place at 10pm, after the meeting. I know it’s late, but you don’t have to be a WSFA member to attend the reading. You are all invited to come. Please do! Here are the details:

1st Friday — VA
WSFA’s 1st Friday meeting location, at Sam and Judy Scheiner’s home.

Sam & Judy Scheiner
1518 N. Edison St.
Arlington, VA 22205

People arrive from 8:30 to 9:00 pm. The meeting itself lasts from about 9:15 until 9:45. The rest of the evening is spent socializing, and consuming the provided refreshments. The reading is scheduled to begin at 10pm.

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Audio: “Sol Asleep”

This month’s audio offering is over at Apex Magazine — my reading of Naomi Libicki’s “Sol Asleep.” It’s a far-future tale of a young girl’s…well…insomnia. Among other things.

I love doing these podcasts. I love the challenge. I love pushing myself to try new things. And I love the honor of performing really great material. Jason’s just sent me my next reading gig, and let me tell you: I’m going to have a LOT of fun with this one!

Stay tuned…

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“Dracula’s Winkie” Live Performance from Mo*Con V

Yes, yes…I’m still cleaning up & captioning pictures and thinking about how to sum up my thoughts into a post-Mo*Con post. In the meantime, to tide you over, here is a recording of our now-infamous live reading of Greg “Funky Werepig” Hall’s “Dracula’s Winkie.” (Performers: Alethea Kontis, Greg Hall, R. Scott McCoy)

If you still find yourself with free time on your hands (or you just hate Monday THAT MUCH), hop on over to The Funky Werepig site and have a listen to the “Live from Mo*Con” broadcast. Some great folks, some great interviews, and a lot of laughs.

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Red Qweens & Free Cookies!


That’s right, York PA’s FIRST FRIDAY event this March 5th will be featuring some spectacular events (see a complete list here), including special appearances at the York Emporium by local poet Barbara DeCesare and yours truly Princess Alethea Kontis! We will be “performing” this night…and I happen to have an almost-finished copy of AlphaOops: H is for Halloween
…so who knows where the mayhem will take us!

ConfectionatelyYours also needs your help deciding on their next cookie — the presence of your honorable taste buds has been requested.

Here’s an awesome Facebook Event page if you’re the sort who’d like to RSVP in order to keep a reminder on your calendar! (And in case you’re interested in going to see Alice in Wonderland afterward…)

And look! Here’s a really sweet flyer in case you’re the sort who likes to print things out in Technicolor and then slap them on people’s windshields…or just slap people with them!

The York Emporium is located at:
343 West Market Street
York, PA, 17401

See you there!

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Books on the Bed: Ronia the Robber’s Daughter

(Books on the Bed: Novels and stories I read as a child that still remain in my collection. Recommended reading for all ages. If you can find them.)

The first box I packed during my half-move from Tennessee was for my friend Ariell. She was the first person on Awesome Porch who I ever saw crack a book. (Everyone else here does, but in private apparently.) We started talking and discovered that we had a lot of the same interests. She recommended a few books to me — I’m currently halfway through Barry Lyga’s The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and I’m enjoying it immensely.

In return, I brought up a box of fun books for her to borrow that she’d undoubtedly never heard of…books in my eclectic collection that I’ve been promising to talk about on this blog as my recommended reading list. I started a “Books on the Bed” series late last year with They Call me Boober Fraggle. I’ll now be posting one every Friday. Here’s recommended reading title number two.

Title: Ronia the Robber’s Daughter
Author: Astrid Lindgren
US Pub date: 1983
Status: Available!

“I’ll carry this summer around in my memory as long as I live.”  –Ronia

Everybody knows about Pippi Longstocking, because she’s the one who had the movies. We all wanted to be like her, wearing giant boots, having friends like Tommy and Annika, going on Grand Adventures, and sleeping with our feet on the pillow and our heads at the foot of the bed. (I still do the last one. When I actually *have* a bed. It’s not quite the same on an air mattress.)

But my favorite of Miss Astrid’s heroines is the much lesser known Ronia.

Black-eyed harpie-haired Ronia was born to the Robber Chieftain Matt on the same night a terrible lightning storm split Matt’s Fort in two. When Ronia is old enough to explore the forest, her father advises her to: 1.) Stay away from Gray Dwarves, wild harpies, and Burka’s Robbers (Burka being Matt’s sworn enemy) 2.) Don’t get lost in the woods or fall in the river and 3.) Don’t tumble into Hell’s Gap — the giant split in the fortress.

Ronia encounters all these things…only when she visits the top of Hell’s Gap she finds a boy there about her age–the only other child she’s met in her life. He is Birk Borkason, yes, son of her father’s enemy, and they have moved into the abandoned other half of Matt’s Fort.

Despite their families’ quarrel, Ronia and Birk inevitably become friends. This, of course, leads to hardship and adventure and the limits of how far one must go to heal old wounds.

Ronia — like her cousin Pippi — is one of the original kick-ass heroines. She is beautiful and independent and headstrong and fearless and will fight for what and who she loves. She’s a fabulous role model for young girls today, and I wish there were more like her. Luckily, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is still in print, so she hasn’t gone very far.

Now I wish it was March already. I feel a Spring Yell coming on.

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