The Watch and Wand – Cover Reveal

Once upon a time a mother and daughter went out for a walk. They chatted along the way, mostly about the daughter’s progress on her latest book project which was underway, but was far from done. The mother innocently asked a question about one of the supporting characters.

A year later, the words End of Book Two, were typed on an entirely different book than the one originally planned, but a book that was so much better than that first draft.

For that, all I can say is thanks, mom.

Fifteen years have passed. The future no longer seems as bright. Between a war declared on all but the most basic technology, worldwide economic collapse, and a plague-spurred global panic, governments have collapsed leaving law and order to be defined by those left behind. Stephen knows he should be grateful, but can’t help wishing his life was more than survival.

That was until he met a girl on the run from a group known as the Watch.

Now, caught between rival factions with their own hidden agendas, Stephen has no choice but to go on a mission to reclaim a piece of missing technology.

He is told the device is the key to a better future, but in the new order, one person’s salvation can be another’s total destruction.

Available December 2017. The Watch & Wand (Project Gene Assist Book Two)

I have a few spots remaining for those interested in receiving an advance copy for reviews. Those interested should contact me at allie AT alliepottswrites.com.

Want to catch up before the big release?

The Fair & Foul: Project Gene Assist Book One can be found at here

“Allie Potts does a marvelous job of creating a group of characters that even above their arrogant brilliance are still only human. Even when all seems lost, and things are piling up against our heroine, Allie consistently throws in a few surprises with things both fair and foul. This book keeps you on the edge of your seat. Well done, Ms. Potts!”

5 stars! – Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

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When life is stranger than fiction

When life is stranger than fiction www.alliepottswrites.comIt is a well-known truth among my friends and family that I am not a good driver.  It’s not for lack of awareness or trying. It’s just not a talent of mine. Recognizing people in a crowd when they are outside of context, such as not realizing the woman in front of me in the check-out line at the grocery store is my son’s teacher until minutes of awkward one-sided conversation, isn’t one either. What can I say? We all have our faults. Now, I’m not the worst on the road, by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s just say I don’t have a career ahead of me teaching driver’s education.

For this reason, I used to think that self-driving cars couldn’t get here fast enough.

I’m not so sure now.

image courtesy of xkcd.com

The magazine, Wired, put out a story about a former employee of both Google and Uber who was at one point was involved with the efforts of both companies to put these driverless vehicles on the roadways. This same engineer may or may not have passed along trade secrets, but the part of the story that really caught my eye was not the corporate intrigue, but the fact that he has founded a religious organization with the stated goal to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”

Then there was this quote by one of his former colleagues –

“He had this very weird motivation about robots taking over the world—like actually taking over, in a military sense,” said the same engineer. “It was like [he wanted] to be able to control the world, and robots were the way to do that. He talked about starting a new country on an island. Pretty wild and creepy stuff. And the biggest thing is that he’s always got a secret plan, and you’re not going to know about it.”

Those of you who aren’t troubled enough by the potential threat of the roboapocolypse can read the full article, entitled “God is a bot, and Anthony Levandowski is his messenger,” by Mark Harris here.

The author of the article asks “can we ever trust self-driving cars if it turns out we can’t trust the people who are making them?” It’s a fair question and one that I might dwell on longer than is probably healthy.

Thankfully, we might soon have other options. Elon Musk, formerly of the company that became Paypal and of Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI, and more recently Neuralink (a company which intends to produce implantable brain to computer interfaces, which is fascinating/troubling in its own right), has come up with a way to travel anywhere in the world in under an hour. All you have to do is board a rocket with the code name BFR as in “Big F—ing Rocket”.  I know – it’s so simple, I can’t believe no one else has already thought of it. You can read more here, or simply watch the video below.

I watched the video with Kiddo and while I was bothered by details such as the sheer amount of energy that would be required to make this a viable option for the general public, both in fuel costs as well as heat released into the atmosphere, he took the entire idea in stride. Considering his is the generation that will most likely see a man or woman not only step on Mars but establish a base on it as well, I suppose his lack of reaction is somewhat understandable.

This same generation, like the millennials that came before, will have grown up in the age of instant gratification. Even an hour of travel is too long. There has got to be a better way! Guess what – the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three scientists who have detected gravitational waves in space caused by the collision of two black holes, thereby proving Einstein’s theory of gravitational relativity, which means that it is actually possible to bend spacetime.

Does this mean I could one day be in two places at once? (The answer is yes if you are an electron as proved by previous Nobel Prize winners)

But even with all these advancements in travel, at the end of the day, I am a homebody. Most weekends I don’t leave my neighborhood (which is a good thing for all considering my aforementioned lack of driving skill). I don’t need to. It is one of those planned neighborhoods with its own parks and a cozy small town center styled commercial hub as well as thick wooded walking/biking trails that make you forget you are in the middle of a city situated hours away from the mountains.

If you encounter a mountain lion

Something tells me this might not be solid advice… (image courtesy of flickr.com)

It turns out, I am not the only one who forgot that key bit of information. I received an alert on my phone from a diligent neighbor which read, “Not to be an alarmist, but I just spotted a 40-pound cat-like creature at the corner. Animal control has been called.”

It turns out that creature may have been a bobcat, but it also could have been a mountain lion based on the witness’ description, which would be no small thing considering cougars have thought to have severely reduced populations, if not be extinct, on my side of the country since 1938.

This caught both my sons’ attention in a way that no rocket, wormhole, or crazed genius intent on ushering in the age of the machines could and I spent the rest of the evening assuring them that a large cat would most likely not attempt to scale our house or enter their bedroom windows. Who needs to worry about what unbelievable news the future may bring when the local reports of the day’s events can be so much stranger than fiction?

Hurricane story – Flash Fiction Challenge #Flash4Storms

Sarah Brentyn aka Lemon Shark has issued a flash fiction challenge in support of hurricane relief.

Tell a story in 50 words or less –

This storm is not our ending. We may be cut off for a time, but this time is only temporary. We will adapt and rise stronger. We will make this world our own. This is our new beginning. We are the Lemurs of Madagascar. Let others see and awwwww.

Source: Lemon Shark | Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Life

The curse of the LEGO tape and the joy of crowdfunding

The curse of the #LEGO tape and the joy of #crowdfunding - www.alliepottswrites.comDeep in a dark and ancient pyramid, a forbidden chest was opened, and an evil the likes of which had never seen was loosed upon an unsuspecting world (well maybe not an ancient pyramid per se, more like a standard rectangular room, but the lighting back there is poor and the box isn’t allowed to be opened unless a parent is in the room. Okay, so the box’s contents probably aren’t evil, but you can’t say they are entirely good either, so I’m going with it).

It was a plot that would turn dreams into nightmares…It was the curse of the LEGO tape.

It all started innocently enough. It was Spring. Perhaps it was the pollen in the air. Perhaps it was the rising humidity. We may never know the reason. But on this day, the computer was on.

“Kiddo, look what I found.” This as become a rather ominous phrase in my house.

“What is it, dad?”

It’s something called LEGO tape.”

“Coooooooooooool. Can we get it?” Considering I’m pretty sure my son is on a singular quest to collect every single LEGO set ever manufactured, I can only imagine what was going through his head as he watched the video play. You mean I can cover my floors AND my walls in LEGOs? Sign me up!

“Well, you see it’s not yet in stores. They aren’t actually making any yet.”

If our son were a robot, I’m sure he would have said, does not compute. “But the video shows it. Right there.”

“That’s just a prototype. This is a crowdfunding site. They are asking money to make more and the people who give them money now will be the first to get the tape when it goes into production.” My husband launched a business several years ago and has a soft spot for others taking the plunge. Therefore, I can excuse the enthusiasm he projects when discussing entrepreneurialism with our children, but it can be contagious.

“Can we give them money?”

“Sure. Why not?” Why not? Is there another question in the English language that deserves more to go unasked?

May

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. I don’t think it was supposed to be ready until this summer.”

June

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. Be patient.”

July

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. They probably ran into a production delay. That happens sometimes.”

August

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet.” At this point you might be realizing my summer devolved into an extended version of the whole, ‘Are we there yet?’ question, which is the second most deserving question to go unasked.

You’d be right.

Still August

affiliate link – go ahead and click it if you are interested. Yes, it is this simple to find in stores.

“We just need to pop into the toy store to pick up a present for your friend’s party this weekend.”

“Okay, mom.”

“Oh, my gosh. Is that what I think that is?”

“It’s LEGO tape. But I thought I was supposed to get it before the stores.”

“Er, I thought so too. Maybe it’s another brand or something.” To be fair, there are now a number of variants in the marketplace. Who knew LEGO tape would have such fierce competition? Maybe had we known, we might not have been so quick to back the product, but those are the risks you take in crowdfunding. It’s also a good reminder to always do your due diligence on any investment.

Yep, still August

“I’m never going to get my LEGO tape.”

“I know you’re disappointed, but things like this happen sometimes. It’s in the stores now. We can get it for your birthday if we have to.”

September

“Hey Kiddo, you got an email from the company. They’ve apologized for the delay. Your LEGO tape is coming. There’s even a tracking number.”

“It’s going to get lost in the mail. I just know it.” Kiddo has a legitimate reason to worry. Our local post office is notorious for missed shipments and delayed deliveries. His disappointment would only be made worse after the build-up of the summer-long waiting game.

The next day

 

The day after that

 

I have to say I grew somewhat troubled by the fact that Kiddo had stopped asking whether the LEGO tape had shipped. Would his very first experience with crowdfunding go on to be his last? He’d been so eager to be a part of something bigger than himself, especially if it resulted in more LEGOs.

After seeing how high his hopes had flown, I hated to see them plummet like this, but this was one of those times that I couldn’t kiss a boo-boo and make it better. He’d taken a risk. It hadn’t worked out. Not everything he tries in life will be a success. He might as well learn to accept that now so he can focus on the positive side. As much as I wish it didn’t hurt so much at the moment, it is our failures that make us appreciate our later successes all the more.

We moved on. We started planning his birthday list.

I received a text from my husband one evening. “LEGO tape came in. He’s a little excited.”

The kids met me at the door and brought me to their rooms, eager to show off what they’d done already. You might have mistaken a day in late September as Christmas morning. If my husband entrepreneurial enthusiasm is infections, it has nothing on the joy that is knowing a child’s wish has come true.

The curse of the LEGO tape - www.alliepottswrites.com

What to get when you don’t want your feet to be the only body part injured during nighttime check-ins

 

How to tame the unruly beast that is the to-do list

How to tame the unruly beast that is the to-do list - www.alliepottswrites.comTo-do lists can be so cute when they are young. When they look at you with those big shiny eyes, begging for your attention, you can’t help taking them home. As you stroke its fur and listen to it emit those adorable sleepy sounds of contentment, you can’t help think of all the wonderful things the two of you will accomplish together.

Then one day when you aren’t paying it enough attention, it piddles on the floor or gnaws a hole in your favorite shoes. Your sleep gets interrupted by late night whimpers or whines demanding your immediate attention. It nips at your fingers with sharp baby teeth and scratches your legs with its razor-sharp claws.

But you let this behavior go. It’s a baby to-do list after all. Mishaps happen. It’s annoying, yes, but all part of the process. You tell yourself it’s no big deal.

The next thing you know, that baby is one hundred fifty pounds of pure muscle more capable of taking you on a walk than you are taking it. The floors are ruined as is the couch, the blinds, and the contents of your closet. You stop having anyone over, too embarrassed to let them see what your list has become. You dread leaving your home, worried about what mess it’ll make while you are gone. What if it gets out? Even worse, what if it finds another list out there and multiples?

It growls at your family. It snaps at your dreams and each day you do nothing your to-do list only grows larger, meaner, and more wild. It’s no longer annoying. It’s quality of life affecting.

You might be tempted to take the to-do list out to the woods and be done with it, but then you remember back to those eyes and the sweet little baby it once was, and you decide to give it one last chance, but deep down you know something has to change. That something is you.

It’s time to take control and tame that unruly beast.

Step 1: Put that list on a diet.

If you aren’t sure of your to-do list’s ideal weight, ask a trusted friend, but chances are you have been feeding it far more than is healthy. Start by cutting back on the filler treats that might make you temporarily feel good, but in truth don’t provide any nutritional value, like agreeing to judge a hot dog eating competition at the local state fair when you also have three missed deadlines already and no experience in the world of professional competitive eating.

Focus instead on limiting your list to three to five lean but high-quality meaty goals and keep your list active with plenty of exercise. Once your list is back in a manageable weight class, you can reintroduce the snacks provided they remain in moderation.

If you are not sure how to do this (it’s harder than it sounds), you may want to check out The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals (affiliate link). Yes, it is a business book, but I treat achieving my big goals as a business and so should you.

Step 2: Establish and Enforce Boundaries

Expect whining from your to-do list, especially in the beginning as it is used to getting its way, but remember its reign over your house is over. Spray bitter apple on things that shouldn’t be chewed. Invest in a fence or limit its range to only certain rooms. Purchase a timer or create a schedule. However you set your boundaries, make sure they work for you because once set, you’ll need to remain firm and let what doesn’t make the list go. As long as you don’t mind the language, I recommend reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (affiliate link)

Step 3: Enlist the help of a trainer

Your to-do list just knocked over Grandma Maude’s vase with its tail.  I get it. Adding more books to read to your list isn’t helping. You’ve maxed out on what you can do alone. If this is the case, I recommend finding an accountability partner. This can be a friend, spouse, colleague, or even a random person you’ve stalked built a relation with online (facebook groups related to your interests are a good place to start). The ‘who’ doesn’t matter. What they do, however, does. This person should be able to regularly help identify priorities and be trusted to hold the leash with a firm hand when your to-do list starts pulling away as it is apt to do.

Step 4: Reward your progress

How to tame your to-do list - www.alliepottswrites.com

Asana Screen Shot

Positive reinforcement works wonders. Just as a dog can learn to associate the sound of a clicker or over-the-top expressions like “whose a good girl/boy? You are!” as praise, your list will respond to seeing tasks getting checked off. Treat each check mark like a big deal it is. If you prioritized your tasks properly, they will be. Don’t keep your accomplishments in your head. Write them down and display them for all your family to see.

Some people might be comfortable working from a scratch pad or a pile of post-it notes, but I prefer using an app like Evernote, Trello or Asana. All have desktop and mobile versions as well as limited, but free-to-use plans. I also like these tools because it makes it easy for me to share my list with my accountability partners, set due date reminders, and upload files related to a task, so pulling it all together later is one task I don’t have to add to a list.

Step 5: Accept accidents will still happen

No matter how well-behaved your list becomes, its heart is still that of a wild beast. Accidents, like forgotten commitments and missed due dates will still happen. Don’t rub your list’s nose in it. Don’t dwell on the failure and whatever you do, if your goals are important enough, don’t ever give up.