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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.”
GAH. 
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. 
THIS WAS BILL ELLIOTT. 
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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No Thank YOU!

An author doesn’t just write a book. An author writes a story, gives it to her editor, and her editor comes back with a page (or three) of editorial comments that need to be dealt with. The author revises. The editor comes back again (on track changes, if you’re lucky) for more fixes. The author revises. Then a copyeditor comes through to fix things, which goes to the editor, which then gets passed to the author for review. Then a proofreader comes through to fix more things, which goes to the editor, which then gets passed to the author for review.

It is not rare, in the course of getting a novel to publication, that the author (and editor) reads the same book six times. And yet still, after all that, there will inevitably be one or two mistakes in the finished book. To err is human, and I am 100% human (despite the overwhelming fairy tendencies).

So when that gorgeous box of finished books shows up at an author’s door, she revels in it. Smells it. Dances with it. Takes a picture and posts it all over the intarwebs. And then she takes the jacket off and really gives the book that one, final, too-late-to-fix-this-time inspection and hopefully doesn’t find anything.

And that’s exactly what I found! Nothing. Right where the Acknowledgements were supposed to be.

Oops.

Here’s the thing — Enchanted was a five-year labor of love, and in that time, I had a lot of people to thank. My editor cut it way down and then begrudgingly printed it in 2-point font on the very last page of the book…but I was so glad it was there. (Others were not — reviewers have gone so far as to give me crap about my acknowledgements. I promise not to chuckle when *they* get musicked off the stage at the Oscars for going on too long.)

Because of this, I was hesitant to write acknowledgements for Hero. I was also reluctant because I knew I would have to address the death of my maternal grandmother this year, to whom the book is dedicated.  The dedication was written while she was still alive.

Ah, publishing.

As we got nearer the end of the process, my editor contacted me and told me that there would be extra pages in the back of the book, if I’d like to put a bio and write some acknowledgements. I was even welcome to go on at length this time. Ha!

So I wrote them. And I cried. And I sent them in. And my editor was touched. And then somewhere between then and publication, they fell through the cracks.

These things do happen.

In the twenty-first century, however, there are a few things we can do about this. First off, the acknowledgements will be included in the second printing of Hero, thus officially making the first printing a collector’s item. (How ’bout them apples?) The acknowledgements will also be included in the e-book versions of Hero (along with a couple of other minor corrections–NO, I will not tell you what they are or you will only see the blemish). And, because I have the power to do so, I can publish the acknowledgements here–complete with links and pictures–so nothing is lost.

On top of that, now I have several blank pages in the back of my new book in which to doodle pretty things if I have time. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT I’M LIKE. *grin*

So that’s the story of the Hero snafu. Not so bad, in the grand scheme of things. And now, without further ado, I bring to you:

 

Acknowledgements - Alethea Kontis

Publishing is an interesting exercise in time compression and expansion. For instance, it took me almost five years to write Enchanted, but it took many of you less than a day to read it. Similarly, in between writing the dedication for Hero and the writing of these acknowledgments, my beloved grandmother, Madeleine DeRonde, passed away.Madeleine DeRonde

Much like Peregrine’s father, Memere suffered from Alzheimer’s disease—a terrible, horrible thing that sneaks up on you too gradually to notice until it’s too late. By the time my first book was published in 2006, Memere no longer remembered who I was. I still love her with all my heart and miss her every day. I know she would be proud of my silly, shiny books; I only regret not being able to share them with her in this life. So I am here to tell you all right now: Thank those heroes in your life, every single one, as soon and as often as you can.

I would first like to thank the female athletes of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and my sword-wielding angel Lillie Rainey for being personal inspirations for Saturday. Thanks also go out to the staff of Luray Caverns in Virginia—I would not have been able to write about the Top of the World without you!

Big hugs to everyone who made my 2012 Summer Book Tour a reality—I am lucky to have so many friends that I consider family, and I’m honored to be the recipient of your support. Thanks once again to Adam, Turtle, and Josh of the Adam Ezra Group for seeing me off in style, and my undying love to Drew and Laura Williams, Edmund and Terry Schubert, Casey Cothran and Todd Muldrew, Soteria Kontis and Charles Nadolski, Vicki and David Castrucci, Cris Garrick, J. P. and Wendy Stephens, Darra Cothran and Bob Gahagan, Tillman and Laurie Smoot, Cherie Priest, Ken and Marilyn Harrison, David B. Coe, J. T. and Randy Ellison, and Chuck and Lillie Rainey for opening their homes to me as I went about my travels.

Janet Lee, whom I will always admire—thank you and Mike for letting me be your Comic-Con buddy. Thank you to all the members of my convention families, new and old—I would never be able to live without you. And thanks to my dearest Heather Brewer, Kate Baker, Mary Rodgers, and Leanna Renee Hieber for keeping my soul intact during dark times.

Huge mountains of gratitude also go to my crack team at Harcourt—especially Reka Simonsen and Jennifer Groves—for understanding my subversive sense of humor and putting up with all my emails. Nor could I have done all this without Deborah Warren, the best Fairy Godagent a princess could ask for, and Katherine Kellgren, who brought my characters to life in such a way that I fell in love with them all over again.

Last but not least I must thank the members of my very large family. Memere would be happy knowing that she brought together not only a plethora of cousins and friends I might otherwise have never met, but also the four Kontis siblings: Cherie, West, Soteria, and me. I hope the planets align again sooner than seven years from now. And to Joe, Kassidy, and Ariell—my Fairy Godfamily—thank you for keeping my feet tied to the ground while I reach for the stars. You are my heart, and I love you all more than these humble words can say.

The Kontis Siblings -- West, Soteria, Cherie & Alethea

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Thank You, Thank You!

Thank you, bloggers and readers worldwide, for your interest in ENCHANTED.

Trust me, however excited you are about the book, I promise I am TEN TIMES MORE EXCITED. At least. This is my very first novel. It’s something I’ve been waiting my whole life for…and now it’s here.

ENCHANTED has already begin releasing from the HMH warehouse. The Turn the Page signing and WRW retreat is only ten days form now, and shortly after that I will be jetting (okay, bussing) off to New York to start the first leg of the book tour. (Please Chip In for gas money here — my Dad is still matching all funds.)

As the book is imminent–and I need to concentrate on my family and preparations for my Grand Journey–I am hereby placing a moratorium on all personal requests for interviews, guest blogs, ARCs, and review copies of ENCHANTED.

I will happily begin scheduling events again in Late August or September.

As always, you are more than welcome to contact my publicist for any requests you may have:
Jennifer Groves
Harcourt Books
(jennifer dot groves at hmhpub dot com)

Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for the incredibly amount of love and support you have shown me and my book. I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.

There’s a lot going on this summer — here’s too all of us enjoying the ride. See you in the bookstore! (squee!)
Much love,
xox
~Princess Alethea

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So Much to be Thankful For

I am thankful for amazing sunsets that last for hours on long road trips. I have always loved sunsets, ever since I was a little girl taking pictures with her father’s ancient Minolta with the huge telephoto attachment.

I am also thankful for all this fabulous photo technology at our fingertips so that we might share the beautiful visions of my magical life with the world.

 

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You Guys ROCK.

Dude, I went to bed thinking I’d be lucky if one or two people responded to lay eyes on this manuscript real quick. By the time I woke up this morning I had been contacted by TEN PEOPLE, and more have been flooding in who missed last night’s window.

I am humbled at this outpouring of generosity. You guys are amazing. A girl likes knowing that she has friends she can count on.

I am emailing everyone RIGHT NOW. I’ll send the manuscript to the first four people who contacted me — that should be enough for the first pass. I will definitely let you know when I need more eyes.

Thank you again, you guys. This is wonderful. xox

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Just Can’t Help Myself

I was only going to edit one chapter tonight, but everybody went to bed and I just couldn’t stop. Finally, after far too long a time, I am finished with what feels like the umpteenth revision of HAVEN, my YA paranormal/horror novel.

It’s 70K words, and I’m looking for some pre-readers who can get back to me fairly quickly. It’s certainly appropriate for Halloween — if you’ve got the time, please drop me an email and I’ll send it over. If you’ve never emailed me before, just use the email contact icon in the upper right-hand corner of my website. (That way it won’t get caught in spam.)

Thanks!

(I should probably go to bed now…)

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