The Fiction of a Writer’s Life — Alethea Kontis


Alethea Kontis pic 11-13 SmallHi All! I’m back for second week at  A few years ago, back when I worked for a major book wholesaler, I wrote up A Day in My Life for these lovely Magical Words folks.

 My life has changed a LOT since then. The chaos of my schedule, however…not so much.

 Being a full time writer means that I don’t have business hours anymore. There is no longer a time I “normally” get up or go to bed. I have no sense of weekdays or weekends. There is only “working” and “feeling guilty about not working.”

 I travel a LOT now, so much so that I’ve started creating folders for myself with pertinent information for each trip inside. Of course, in order to do this I have to take a day or two out of my schedule and play at being my own personal assistant…but these days, changing hats is kind of like changing character POVs. New day, new chapter, new hat, and onward.

 I can’t even approximate my average day anymore. I have an “ideal” day, where I wake up in the morning, have Joe drop me off at the gym when he takes Ariell to school, write from when I get home to when the afterschool program inevitably calls me in to sub, and then spend the rest of the evening when I get home answering emails and working on blogs, YouTube videos, social networking, and various other promo.

 These days don’t happen as often as I wish them to. In fact, I am now currently sitting in my aunt’s house in Baltimore. I haven’t been home since before Christmas. I planned on leaving for three days and ended up being gone three weeks due to various family emergencies.

 I have to say, I *love* that I have a job that allows be to be with my family wherever and whenever they need me. I have the workaholic’s dream: a job you can take anywhere, work on any time, and never have to retire from. In fact, the more you work, the better it gets.

 2013 was a pretty stressful year for me. My maternal grandmother died. My mom had surgery on both her shoulders. My novel got nominated for two major awards (which I gracefully lost) and selected for World Book Night (which I still kind of can’t believe). I flew far and wide and made new friends all over the country. My niece had emergency major heart surgery, and it was really quite touch and go for a while. I published (or appeared in) four books all in the month of October. I spent Christmas in the car with my little sister, stopping at truck stops all the way up 95 to Baltimore so that she could have emergency spinal surgery right before New Year’s. And I’m still at my aunt’s house because my father is on his way up here too, for a second opinion on the horrible arthritis pain he’s been having.

 That scratches the surface, but you get the gist of the highlights. Everything–even the terrible things–turned out for the best, so I can’t say I hated 2013. I don’t hate any of the years of my life because I’m not the type of person who lives to regret. What 2013 did was teach me the limits of my own physical and emotional strength. 2013 taught me to have poise and grace under pressure. 2013 taught me to be prepared for anything.

 Most of all, 2013 taught me that there would be no more “waiting around for the Muse to visit” or any similar romantic nonsense in my life. If I don’t make things happen, then nothing happens. And that’s that.

I’ve gone back to squeezing time out of my day to work on my never-ending to-do list. I’ll stay up until 2 am a few days a week if it means I can answer a few more emails, or write a few more guest blogs. While I’m between Books Three and Four, I’ll try my damndest to knock out some of the other writing projects I keep on the back burner…and it doesn’t matter what order I do them.  I don’t have just one adventure; I have THOUSANDS.

 Therein lies my freedom, the thing I cling to with all the motivation, inspiration, and hope I can muster. I CAN WORK ON WHATEVER I WANT…just so long as I KEEP WORKING. Just like every project my engineer father tinkered on in his workshop, eventually, it will all get done.

 Every day I work is a day closer to getting what I want, and being who I want to be. And every day I’m away from the computer I try to LIVE as much as I can, so that I always have something to write about.

So this year, I’m going to worry less about structure and worry more about work. This year is going to be all about PRODUCING. I’m going to put lots of good things out into the world…starting with this essay.

What are YOU going to do?

Bio: New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, including The Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her YA fairy tale novel,Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012, was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.You can find Princess Alethea online at:

YouTube (featuring “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants”)
YouTube  (Newest rant — featuring “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants 

HERO last cover Books: Hero (second in the Woodcutter Sisters series) and Wild & Wishful, Dark & Dreaming (short story collection), both released on October 2013. Upcoming: Revised & Extended edition of Beauty & Dynamite (out of print essay collection) in April, and Book Three of Woodcutter Sisters in Fall 2014.    wwdd_full-cover Alethea signed HERO-Alethea Kontis


10 comments to The Fiction of a Writer’s Life — Alethea Kontis

  • “There is only “working” and “feeling guilty about not working.””

    Yeah, that about sums it up. Makes you want to run right out and become a full-time writer, doesn’t it? 😉

  • Coincidentally, YA author Brigid Kemmerer posted a great rant in her Facebook status about this very same thing today. Great Minds rant alike! 🙂

  • Althea, that sounds about right. Squeezing what I can out of each day around the dayjob to get stuff done. I’m pretty much finished my Pitchwars revisions and don’t want to send out more queries until that’s over. I’ve been working on some of the backburner projects in the meantime. I totally hear you about having many projects that could be worked on!

  • I like the sound of worrying less about structure and more about what I get done. My day job ebbs and flows and it’s really hard to schedule time to write–last semester I tried to make a calendar but I had to revise it so much I ended up spending more time on the calendar than I did the writing. This semester I’m not going to make myself a “schedule” and instead focus on writing every chance I get. And I’ll try to minimize the guilt about not writing when I’m, you know, not writing.

  • The coming year for me is filled with deadlines (April 1, July 1, January 1, 2015) and also a couple of releases (a short story on Feb. 19, a paperback reissue in June, a new novel on July 8, another new novel next January). So I’ll be writing and promoting all year. Lots of work, lots of fun, lots to obsess over. The life of a writer . . .

  • Wow, David!
    It is *so* incredibly tough to balance all this, isn’t it?
    We don’t just need business models, we need a Life Coach.

  • Oh Yeah. That’s it exactly! Balance is necessary and so very hard to achieve. And family has to come first which can make it hard on the old wallet.

  • I just shared this on my facebook page, just so I could envy your gorgeous signature in public.


    I am in deep envy.

  • […] Jan 13th: The Fiction of a Writer’s Life — “Being a full time writer means that I don’t have business hours anymore. There is no longer a time I “normally” get up or go to bed. I have no sense of weekdays or weekends. There is only “working” and “feeling guilty about not working.”” […]