Imagine working the cutting room floor: a simple trick for editing your early draft | Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR

Ready or not - the Watch and Wand - www.alliepottswrites.comThis is it. The big launch week for The Watch & Wand and a few wonderful members of the blogging community have been nice enough to help spread the word.

I’ve turned off comments on this post but would encourage you to click on the link at the bottom and maybe poke around on some of the other posts you see there.


From time to time we like to feature insights by other authors here on the blog. This time, Allie Potts, a friend of the blog and victim of our internet show Writers Off Task With Friends, pays a v…

Source: Imagine working the cutting room floor: a simple trick for editing your early draft | Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR

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#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Five

The following is the fifth post in a series of sponsored short stories written using Jamie Cat Callan’s fun and easy to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience). You can read more about Jamie’s other creations at the bottom of this post.

For those not as familiar with The Writer’s Toolbox, it prompts you with a first, middle, and last sentence as well as a series of descriptions, some more random than others, which help your writing pop as well as a protagonist complete with overarching goals and an obstacle to overcome. I absolutely love it.

If you’d prefer to start from the beginning, you can read the first post here.


How I beat writer's block with one creative game - www.alliepottswrites.com“There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father.” Laurie looked up from the script. “I’m not sure about this line. Do you think my character more upset because her father has a thing for Amy, or because she does?”

The waitress shrugged as she poured Laurie another cup of coffee.

“Hmmm, I think it’ll try it both ways in rehearsal and see which one gets the better reaction.” She slapped the pages down on the table next to a dog-eared copy of an old Danielle Steel novel. “Would it kill the writers to give us an entire script to work with all at once?”

“If you are going to order anything other than coffee, I’ll need to put it in now,” said the waitress. “The kitchen is going to be closing soon.”

Laurie sighed. “I have to lose fifteen pounds by the end of next week. I know. You don’t have to say it. My personal trainer tells me he’s never seen me so fit too, but that’s the biz for you. If you ask me it’s completely unnecessary. There is nothing in the script that says the character has to be skeletal thin and my costume designer is having a fit, but what can you do? I was told in no uncertain terms I either I lose the weight or I lose my job. It’s almost as if they are looking for an excuse to renege my contract.”

Laurie raised the mug to her lips and muttered, “I bet the first thing they’ll do is give the role to that woman from the Stop & Shop too. If she wasn’t Leslie’s current favorite …,” Laurie words trailed off. Losing her job was the least of her concerns if anyone heard her badmouthing someone connected to Leslie in public.

“So that’s a no.”

“That’s a no.” The liquid burnt her tongue. If she didn’t need this job to pay her mom’s rent, she’d have walked off the show long ago.

The waitress turned away to serve the table on the other side of the aisle where a pair of men and a woman sat. None of the trio acknowledged the waitress refilling their drinks, too absorbed in a conversation that was growing more animated by the second.

The fresh floor wax caused the waitress to slip on her way back to the kitchen sending her tumbling to the floor. Laurie jumped out of her booth to assist the woman, but the waitress was already upright and heading back into the kitchen before Laurie could reach her.

On her way back to her table she overheard a piece of the trio’s conversation. “He was skating on thin ice – that’s all I can say.”

Laurie slid into her chair and strained her ears while trying to make it look like she wasn’t listening. Whatever the conversation was about, it sounded far more engrossing than re-reading lines from a two-bit script any day.

The sound of the dishwasher in the back shouting something about clean plates and Laurie stifled a curse. The drama going on in the kitchen prevented her from hearing what the woman at the table said next.

“But Daisy would never agree to do that,” said the man seated closest to the aisle. “Not for him. Not for anyone. She would have to know she’d be the first one they’d sell out and risked even more if our father caught up with her first.”

“I’m sure she thought it was the only way to help your mom. Daisy told me her condition was getting worse,” replied the woman.

“And how does getting involved with those people help my mom.”

“Bill, you may want to lower your voice,” said the second man, meeting Laurie’s eyes.

Laurie took another sip of her coffee and shuffled the pages of her script in an effort to look pre-occupied.

Bill ignored his friend’s advice. “If what you say is true, why tell us about it? Aren’t you afraid your own life will be in jeopardy?”

The woman picked at her food. The plate was as full as it had been when the waitress first sat it down. The second man looked at their female companion and then at Bill. “You still don’t get it, man, do you?”

The woman shot a pointed glance his way. “Larry, don’t. Please.”

“What?” Bill asked. “Why?”

The woman continued to look at Larry. “Let’s just say it has to do with the time Leslie called me a leech.”


Will Laurie find a role worthy of her talents? Will the waitress place a worker’s compensation claim? Who is Leslie and why is everyone so afraid? The series is coming to a conclusion.

Jump to part six here.


I believe in this product so much I reached out to its creator, the lovely Jamie Cat Callan, author of the upcoming Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain je ne sais quoi (available January 2nd, 2018) to tell her how much I loved her creation and was beyond thrilled when she allowed me to use her prompts for these posts.

Those who pick up Parisian Charm School will enjoy reading about secrets such as

  • The Charming Benefits of Travel
  • The Art of the French Flirt (And Why Conversation Matters)
  • Food Is Love: The French Dinner Party

You can find a sneak peek here

In addition to her upcoming novel, she is also the author of the books Bonjour, Happiness! , French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, and Ooh La La!: French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day.

Project Gene Assist Book 2, The Watch & Wand – You always have a choice. Make the right one

The Watch and Wand, the latest in the Project Gene Assist #Book Series Launches December 5th www.alliepottswrites.comBarring acts of God or radioactive slime beast hellbent on scaling the largest tower in my city while simultaneously leaving a swart of destruction in its wake, by this time next week, my book children will officially outnumber my human children.

I am going to level with you – it hasn’t been easy.

An Uncertain Faith - www.alliepottswrites.comWhen my first bookborn arrived, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. I did whatever any new bookparent would. First I converted a small underused space on the internet into a cozy little site where my bookbaby and my author platform might grow side by side. I overbought supplies (many of which I hadn’t the first clue how to effectively use) so I might be ready for any occasion. I sent out cards alerting the friends and family. I hung up bright shiny pictures of its cover positioned in various poses and dreamed about all the things I thought it might one day be.

I nested. I sanitized my words. I reached out to other new bookmoms and bookdads for sympathy, tips or other advice.

But I was overwhelmed and no matter how much attention I bestowed, my bookbaby still always demanded more.

I consulted the experts who all agreed that the best thing I could do, for us both, was to give my bookbaby a sibling.

I made a choice.

Project Gene Assist Book 1: The Fair & Foul - www.alliepottswrites.comSo after a lengthy labor of love, culminating on one cold rainy night, my second bookbaby made its grand first appearance. After the launch, I wanted nothing more than to get some rest and enjoy the benefit of my expanded catalog. Only things didn’t work between the two quite as smoothly as I imagined.

For one, the newest edition was a completely different genre, meaning, as I learned in short order, I wouldn’t be able to utilize most any marketing hand-me-downs. Nor did either book’s temperament allow me to bundle them together. Well… shoot.

I consulted the experts once again on what to do. The answer was the same.

Write more books (preferably this time in the same genre).

But at this point, my other children, my human children were no longer going to bed early or taking mid-day naps, nor was the day job getting any less demanding.

Then, to make matters worse, the words stopped flowing. Not all at once, but bit by bit until one day I realized that somewhere along the line, I’d let my story slip.

I found myself at the base of a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I’d created.

I thought about quitting. I thought about it a lot.

I thought about quitting.

But I didn’t.

You didn’t. You could have. You didn’t let me.

I made a choice.

So now I’ve scaled a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I created, only to see another mountain on the other side.

With your continued patience and more than a little of your support, I’ll scale that one too.

Thanks to you all.

I’d never have come this far without you.


Project Gene Assist Book Two: The Watch & Wand officially goes on sale Tuesday, December 5th. (Kindle Pre-order now available). You can read an excerpt here.

#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Four

The following is the fourth post in a series of sponsored short stories written using Jamie Cat Callan’s fun and easy to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience). You can read more about Jamie’s other creations at the bottom of this post.

For those not as familiar with The Writer’s Toolbox, it prompts you with a first, middle, and last sentence as well as a series of descriptions, some more random than others, which help your writing pop as well as a protagonist complete with overarching goals and an obstacle to overcome. I absolutely love it.

You can also read the first post in the series here.


How I beat writer's block by playing one creative game. www.alliepottswrites.com #thewriterstoolbox #shortstory“I like hats.” That’s what Donald said the day before he killed Sally. They were also the last words he spoke to anyone, their boss had seen to that. Frank shared a look with his business partner as Lillian walked into the back room bringing a dark-haired woman in tow.

Frank dropped his brush into a glass of water, enjoying how the leftover paint spread out in the liquid like a red cloud. The movies made his profession out to be much more action-packed than it was.

The movies left out how much waiting was involved. There was waiting for a guest to arrive, then the waiting while fear simmered to a breaking point, followed by even more waiting for a guest to come back to after Donald got through with him or her.

Frank took up watercolors to pass the time. He’d found it excited him and yet simultaneously relaxed him even more than the feel of spandex.  If his therapist was still alive, she might appreciate the fact he’d taken up a hobby.

“Hello Margaret, so nice to see you again.” Frank smiled and gestured for Margaret to have a seat while Donald locked the door, his expression as cold as November in Cincinnati.

“This is all a big misunderstanding,” said Margaret as Frank pulled over another chair and sat down across from her.

“You hear that Donald? It’s a misunderstanding.”

Donald grunted.

“Well now’s your chance to clear everything up. I suggest you use it. What you were up to, that weekend in Duluth?”

“It was the bartender from Seattle. He started to ask questions. I decided the only solution was to seduce him. We went on a date, a couple’s cooking class, and spent the night together. That’s all.”

“Is that so?” Frank arched an eyebrow. His gaze swept her body from toe to the top of her head, lingering on all her curves. She raised her arms, crossing them over her chest and hiding her breasts from view. He shook his head. The woman across from him didn’t have the first idea how to use her body to save her life. She was no calculating seductress. He’d been with enough of them to spot their tell-tale signs. Some people might even say that kind of woman was his addiction. Too bad for us both.

“I’m telling the truth.” Margaret’s eyes darted around the room. “There was a man selling bananas outside. The instructor ran out and had to buy a quarter of his supply. I still have the receipt for the class in my purse. All you have to do is call the number and ask him about it.”

Frank reached out a hand. Margaret drew back. The corner of his lips crept up as he slid the strap off her shoulder. He turned his head. “Lillian, be a doll and check out her story, won’t you?” Donald moved to the side to allow Lillian to pass leaving Margaret alone with the two men.

“So say your story checks out –”

“It will.”

Frank had to admit Margaret had spunk. “That still doesn’t explain why you were seen hightailing out of town.” He leaned back in his chair. “I mean why run if you have nothing to hide?”

“I wasn’t running. I was on my way to see Leslie, just like I promised.”

“Funny. From what I heard, you were spotted going in the exact opposite direction.”

“I can explain that too. I can explain everything.”

Frank snorted. “I’m sure you can.” He motioned to Donald, who approached the chairs and dropped a black leather bag by Frank’s leg. Frank turned the metal dials on either side of the clasp and a latch popped. He pulled the sides of the bag open so that the overhead light could reflect on the metal tools inside. Painting with watercolors wasn’t his only artistry.

Margaret blanched and her shoulders slumped as he pulled out a device with a diamond-sharp edge. “It all started the day Lillian learned to drive…”


Oh dear, things are looking bleak for Margaret. I hope for her sake they believe her story, as unbelievable as it sounds, without things having to get too messy. 

You can jump to part 5 here.


I believe in this product so much I reached out to its creator, the lovely Jamie Cat Callan, author of the upcoming Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain je ne sais quoi (available January 2nd, 2018) to tell her how much I loved her creation and was beyond thrilled when she allowed me to use her prompts for these posts.

In addition to her upcoming novel, she is also the author of the books Bonjour, Happiness! , French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, and Ooh La La!: French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day

Thanks to Jamie, I’ve learned there is a word for a woman who emphasizes a life of passion, expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life’s pleasures. That word is quaintrelle. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that word would look great on my business card.

A season for gratitude: A short and simple, but just as honest Thanksgiving list

A short list of things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving. www.alliepottswrites.comA pair of Thanksgiving trees now stands at attention in the center of my dining room table. They were a project my boys worked on one day with their Nana. They consist a foam trunk with a scattering of bare branches. Red, yellow, and orange leaves, attached by glue, proudly proclaim all the things my children are grateful for this year.

Kiddo’s lists all the things you might expect from a sweet and sensitive nine-year-old. On it, there is mom and dad, his brother’s name, his grandparents, and his cousins.

Then there is LT’s tree and all the previously unsung heroes of my youngest’s truth.

As much as I wanted to laugh at what he chose to be grateful for this year, I can see the kid’s point for each and every one of his selections. And so this year I am attempting to follow his lead and give thanks to my own semi-ridiculous, but no less true, list of things that have made life that much better.

1. Her Royal Highness’s ‘Royal’ Sensibilities

It is a generally recommended that one does not do one’s business where one eats. I believe my dog, Her Royal Highness has this stitched on a pillow somewhere as she would prefer to drag us out in the snow and rain to do her business down the block than within the perimeter of our yard. This, of course, has necessitated many a walk resulting in many of my favorite posts, as well as the occasional swear words.

2. Mexican Restaurants

Specifically the Mexican restaurant close to my day job. While technically a sit-down establishment, the food arrives within minutes of me sitting down no matter how full the dining area is which gives me the ability to eat with time to spare for writing, editing, brainstorming, and other creative ponderings.

3. Bulletproof coffee

I love breakfast. Its one of the few meals I can be trusted to cook in its entirety (most of the time), but I love sleep too, and as a mom with a day job as well as novels to write and designs to create, I sometimes have to choose between the two. When forced, I choose sleep. Who knew that by adding a bit of butter to my morning brew, the drink would tide me over until lunch while giving me a few extra minutes of zzzzs?

4. Turn by turn navigation enabled by GPS

I have gifts – a natural directional instinct is not one of them. If left to my own devices, I can get lost pretty much anywhere. I’ve even managed to get myself lost on a battleship which is no small feat considering you are pretty much restricted to a defined parameter and a handful of decks. If it wasn’t for that lovely voice saying re-calculating when running a quick errand, I might have found myself several states over by now.

5. Podcasts

If I am going to be stuck in traffic, I at least can listen to something as entertaining as it is educational. My personal favorite is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, which is geared toward the indie author, and I enjoyed getting into the Halloween spirit last month listening to Lore and Spooked. This month I’m giving This American Life a try and already have learned quite a bit about US copyright law simply by hearing about how an Indonesian monkey sued a British photographer in our courts.

6. A broken air conditioner

Raleigh, NC isn’t exactly known for its moderate summers, so when our air conditioner broke down not once, but twice this summer, we decided a change of scenery was in order. We spent the weekend in the mountains hiking and hunting for waterfalls. While her Royal Highness wasn’t a fan of the thunderstorm that kept us up all night (nor was I), we all agreed that the steak dinner cooked over campfire flames was one of the best meals this family has ever eaten together.

7. The neighbor’s trampoline

This one was on LT’s list as well and is a story in and of itself. The neighbors down the street had a trampoline and a son who’d recently graduated from high school.

One evening, they asked my husband if he would like to take it off their hands. A week of backbreaking work later in which we’d removed clay and pebble-filled soil over a 14-foot diameter, the corner of our newly leveled backyard became our kid’s (even Her Royal Highness) new favorite hang-out.

It may be old, and it may not be the prettiest, but bouncing and laughing under a blue sky while shaded by more than a few towering trees beats video games most days of the week.

8. Net Neutrality

This is not a joke. In the US, there is a serious concern that regulations currently on the books preventing internet service providers from being able to treat one site’s traffic differently than another’s may be overturned in the coming weeks. While currently, the major internet providers have publicly stated that they remain committed to the concept of net neutrality regardless of legislation, there is no guarantee that this will remain the case in the future.

Those not in the US who generate content should also care because, without net neutrality, US audiences will be further segmented as people opt not to pay for (or are otherwise unable to afford) access to sites the ISP wishes to restrict, disincentivize, or otherwise categorize as premium or exclusive content. This means marketing, which is already tough enough for a small business owner (like an indie author), is going to be even more difficult to navigate and connecting with an audience, an even bigger challenge.

So I am grateful for the net neutrality I’ve enjoyed thus far and would prefer to keep it.

And on that happy note, I will leave you, as Thanksgiving has taught me over the years that you can rarely feast to excess without experiencing at least a little indigestion.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I continue to be grateful for all of you year round and wish you and yours all the best.

He should be grateful for his smile. It’s the only thing keeping him out of trouble some days.


The Watch & Wand Update:

My advance proof arrived last week and it is every bit as wonderful to hold in my hands as I imagined. Going on sale December 5th, 2017, you can read an excerpt here or pre-order for kindle here.