ALVA /// wordsmith

    Textwork : Translation : Training

    ~ consulting specialist ~


    Do your words tell your story?


    In this day and age, it's all about the word. Words are what sell our products and services, show what we're capable of, share who we are and what we believe in.


    But words, languages, are alive, in flux. They evolve.


    Today people are writing more on more types of media than ever. But the rules are changing: what's all-in today may be out tomorrow. Every bit of new changes the way we style our language, and old can get tired, fast. Can your words keep up with the change?

    ALVA /// wordsmith is fully committed to helping you see your projects to completion and your language needs fulfilled.


    • Textwork (content creation, SEO friendly blog post writing, social media updating, editing, proofreading) 
    • Translation (Icelandic to English)  
    • Training in English grammar and writing talents (at any level - effective tips and hacks included!)

    Ever use English?

    For pamphlets, ads, promos and websites maybe?


    For writing emails to clients?


    For international networking?


    Of course you do.


    English is everywhere, it's global. It's the language of business, academics, science. It's social media, it's the internet, it's the entertainment industry, it's your next potential customer.


    ALVA /// wordsmith helps your English speak for you.

  • Send a quick message to ask about ALVA ///

    Do you need some text translated from Icelandic? Let us know.

    If you'd like us to edit or proofread, we can do that too!

    Or fresh content for your website or business blog? Ask for a quote. 

  • ALVA /// iceland

    At the very dawn of the modern blogging phenomenon, there was Iceland Eyes.


    From its simple beginnings as an easy place to share pics of life in Reykjavik, to the content-rich creature it is today, Iceland Eyes has informed and entertained visitors from across the globe.

    select image to visit the world-renowned Iceland Eyes photojournal experience


    Some rave reviews and classy comments:


    "Just beautiful :) Makes me want to take a plane and fly to Iceland." ~ Ward Mertens


    "Magnificent pictures, fascinating observations and culture !" ~ James Pannozzi


    "Oh Maria! Iceland's sun! Thanks for putting up this window to Iceland which is always open, as well as your thrilling literary "adventures" which have inspired my own efforts." 'Professor Batty'


    "Your blog and your photos are just wonderful. It's like a window into a fascinating place and the accompanying text is whimsical, interesting and thoughtful. Thank you for continuing to post to Iceland Eyes!" ~ Truman


    "Just found this blog post with the link to my website about my Eichler home in San Mateo, California. My wife and I have made two trips to Iceland in 2012 and 2013 and we loved everything about your amazing country and the wonderful people who live there. What a surprise to find a link to our home in your blog!" ~ Barry Lee Briscoll


    ( : here's how you can virtually visit Iceland too : )


  • ALVA /// reviews

    join this illustrious crowd:



    Go ahead and let us know if you'd like additional references.

    In the meantime, here's some nice quotes:


    "Maria delivered an absolutely wonderful translation. I'd definitely choose to work with her again."

    -- Björn Th. Björnsson, author


    “Professional and quality text. Thank you.” -- Hrönn Birgisdóttir, National Museum of Iceland


    "We've contracted Maria a number of times in the past decade, and we wouldn't hesitate to do so again for Icelandic to English Translation, back translation in the same language pair, and proofreading of other translator's completed work. She completes on deadline and is easy to communicate with at all stages of the contracting process."

    -- Stef Van De Gehuchte, Blue Lines Translation


    “Maria proofread my doctorate thesis in English on developmental therapy. Her understanding of the English language and sensitivity for text and sentence construction proved invaluable, especially during the final stages of the process. She is dedicated and very much a professional. She worked quickly and well."

    -- Snæfríður Egilsson, professor, University of Akureyri


    "Maria digs for diamonds in her textwork and translation She is awesome at putting my thoughts, and the words of my characters, into perfect sentences with all the emotion and intent intact. Over the past eight years she has translated a film script and a tv series for me, and is the only person I would go to for my Icelandic to English needs."

    -- Þorgrímur Þráinsson, bestselling author


    "Maria is the best English teacher. She taught me that time is precious and accountability is in your hands and if there is something you want in life you can get it, for those who have the discipline, preparation and organization to try. She has strong Leadership Development, and taught me to have it too."

    -- Sigurður Óskar Óskarsson, electronics engineer


    "I was a student of Maria’s at Tækniskólinn for a few semesters from 2012 to 2014, and I can say with a lot of certainty that she is one of the most capable teachers I have ever come across. Teaching English, especially at a higher level is a challenge, to balance the people who are a little more advanced than others with those who need a little more help, but Maria did it with ease. Her relationship with her students is one of the most, if not the most, professional I have ever experienced. She manages to make sure you know you are her equal ­ but that she in many ways knows better, that she is the teacher and that you should view her and respect her as such. She uses her academic experience to her students’ advantage, knowing what’s needed to gain the skills needed to not only pass, but to fly high over your own expectations" 

    -- Vanessa Ólafsdóttir

  • Download the ALVA /// resume

    It's a two-page PDF with everything you need to know, and if anything's missing just send me a message above.


    (Please feel free to ask also about my extensive experience in retail, food hospitality and performance, including those times that I was a trail guide on an Icelandic horse farm, managed catering for theater-level Icelandic films, was head day barista at a classic, newly renovated café in Reykjavik, trained under an award-winning pizza-dough spinner, very successfully sold high-end area rugs, starred in a wide-flung, long-running ad campaign for Iceland's international airport and represented Iceland, twice, live, on the BBC's internationally-acclaimed World Have Your Say radio program:) 

  • ALVA /// rates

    Ekkert fúsk!

    Let a pro wordsmith work your words with you.


    You do have someone edit and proofread before you publish or go to print, right? To find those potentially costly typos and odd word choices? We know you're great in English, but when it comes to the important stuff, the buddy system really can pay off.


    Please contact us (above) for a quote tailored to your specific needs.

    Flat or per-word rates are available for translation, editing and proofing.


    Rush jobs may be charged slightly higher "dramatic emergency" rates (last minute's ok, but you might have to pay;)


    Discounts are offered for tutoring three or more people per session. Great for learning how to own your textbooks into submission, for studying grammar for final exams, or for learning how to craft up a kick-ass essay, every time.

    For Businesses

    In addition, ALVA /// wordsmith offers a service specifically intended for businesses with a high turnover rate for publications in English - both online and in print - including restaurants, hotels and retailers:


    For a monthly retainer ALVA /// wordsmith is on-call for you, day or night, for that last-minute proofing before sending your booklet, weekly menu or poster copy to print, or for a Need-it-Now written website update or last-minute blog post. This package also guarantees your business priority, and the specialty services of an English-language professional a phone call away.


  • ALVA /// maria

    Who is Maria Alva?

    Writing, and words in general, are my passion.


    I'm a native Icelander born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was raised bilingual, in an Icelandic household, and got a top-level education at some of the best schools in California. I was into community activism and leadership, the social (read café/club) scene, as well as competing (and winning!) in academics, dance team and sports.


    It was a great upbringing, right there by the Pacific Ocean, and later in the heart of Silicon Valley and The City proper. But something was missing...I was longing for home.


    My true home, where my heart was: 101 Reykjavik, eastside.


    So I came back, and have been building a sweet life for me and my family ever since


    At some point in my life here in Reykjavik, I was told I needed to be a teacher. Or rather, that I was one, and needed to go get a job doing it and sharing what I know!


    I did as I was told. And as my hundreds of former students can attest, I was all-in when it came to teaching. I asked them for excellency, I believed in them, I knew they could do whatever they put their minds to! I gave them tips and hints and hacks to help them survive the droll world of textbooks and lit and essays and grammar. I helped them see light in the dark world of college English!


    But I had rules too.


    No whining, no excuses, no shifting deadlines. If you missed an exam or failed a test, it wasn't the end of the world - it was what you needed to make up for. Your weaknesses weren't your handicap, they were what you discovered you needed to strengthen. And every person has their weakness...


    Life happens, I'd say. How are you going to show up for it?


    I taught my students to value efficiency, clarity and structure while maintaining their

    flexibility and personal power. It's how I try to live myself.


    Since then, I've moved on from teaching within the "system." The future of learning is real-time, out of the box (the box-shaped classroom!) It's interactive, a pulling-towards instead of a pushing- (or lecturing-) at. I've gone rogue, freelance, and get to use my talents how and where they're best needed.


    I'm extremely solution-oriented when it comes to problem solving and developing new modalities for success. Efficiency, though, never has to mean giving up on levity, humor, compassion, and understanding.


    As a matter of fact, in my world, that's what makes a person, a family, and a company a true success.


  • ALVA /// books & writings


    a love letter to an island

    Written over the course of 88 days in Reykjavik, Iceland, during one glorious and apocalyptic autumn season, this is the story of a girl living on a volcano who knew she was supposed to die.


    Iceland Cool & Crisp

    Published by Bjartur Veröld in 2008, this popular souvenir book is based on the Iceland Eyes website with classic IE photos and descriptive text. Read more about it at Iceland Review. 

    Blue Eyes


    Follow this link for an ever-expanding collection of creative non-fiction, fictional works in progress, academic essays and prose.