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.

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.

The cranberry sauce has landed. A thanksgiving perspective

At the time this posts, I will, hopefully, be well on my way to a tryptophan-induced turkey coma or at least surrounded by the smells of food cooking, children playing, and the near-deafening noise of my family squeezed together under a single roof attempting to engage in conversation over the sound of the football game on tv.

And sure, some of this vision is idealized thinking. In reality, the children’s play has likely descended into high pitched chaos by now. Cans of cranberry sauce may have fallen to the floor adding to the kitchen’s new color scheme and grandpa might say something, well… grandpa-y.

But even this less than perfect vision is still reason for me to be grateful.

The scent of smoke filled the air outside my home last week, caused by several forest fires burning in North Carolina’s Western mountains, nearly 200 miles away. On the other side of the state, flood waters from Hurricane Matthew only recently receded. Power was out and roads were closed for weeks. Many have lost everything due to the rain, and will more due to its counterpart just as the weather to turns cold.

And so I might roll my eyes as I pass the gravy but will raise my glass when it comes time to give thanks and drink deeply. For my more realistic vision of the day, as flawed is it may be, is still filled with food, family, and a roof over our heads.

I hope that you might consider participating in #GivingTuesday if you are in a position to do so, and wish you all, whether you observe the holiday or not, a Happy Thanksgiving.

And for those of you who prefer a little extra reading to football, here is a repost of another of my less than ideal Thanksgiving stories.

Has anyone's Thanksgiving ever gone like this?
Has anyone’s Thanksgiving ever gone this smoothly? (image from

I considered myself fortunate. We were traveling for Thanksgiving, meaning I wasn’t going to have to cook (a good thing for all involved – just ask my hubby sometime about my poultry cooking skills). I didn’t have to clean. All I was expected to do was to enjoy time with my family. Silly me. I forgot that I was traveling with a toddler.

I had barely closed my eyes on Thanksgiving eve when I heard my toddler’s cry in the adjacent room which he was sharing with his brother. I immediately sprang out of bed to see what was the matter worried that might wake up the rest of the household. I was ready to once again hear, “Where Monkey Man?” This time however it wasn’t merely a request to locate his favorite toy, he was sick, and not just with the sniffles.

I rushed him to the bath while the hubby took care of the linens. Eventually, we were forced to turn the lights on while I rummaged through his bag looking for his spare set of pajamas. It turned out I needn’t worry about waking his brother. My eldest didn’t even bother turning over. (Man, I wish I could still sleep like that!)

Cleaned up, my toddler clung to me like a life raft. The hubby passed by carrying our travel toddler cot. (You could smell it from a distance.) Even if we had a spare set of sheets, kiddo wasn’t going to be able to sleep on it again anytime soon. I had resigned myself to a night on the couch or rocking chair when the hubby came by again. This time with a pillow in hand. He volunteered to stay on the couch so that our son and I might sleep more comfortably on a bed.

In hindsight, I think in the end he may have gotten the better end of the deal.

It was still a loooooonnnnng a night. At home, my toddler’s bed is near the ground and has guard rails. My in-law’s guest bed, on the other hand, is very tall and all sides are completely exposed. Each time my kiddo shifted, I worried he might slip over the side and plummet to the ground. I was afraid that the cries we had already heard that night would be whispers in comparison. I tried to pull him back closer to me, but that only served to wake him up enough to remind him that his tummy was still upset.

Several trips back to the bathroom later (progressively less necessary),  I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working. Unless I wanted to be completely worthless the following day, I was going to have to find a way for both of us to sleep. I realized I was going to have to give him more freedom of movement. I placed a few pillows near the bed’s edge, just in case, but then I let him go. Soon I heard soft, contented snores and I allowed myself to also fall into a light sleep.

I awoke hours later to the touch of small fingers on my forehead. (Oh no! Dawn is still hours away – please, please try to go back to sleep!) My little boy whispered, “Where mommy go?”

I answered, “Mommy’s here. Are you okay?” (yep, the couch was definitely the better option)

“I better.” Then no more words. Instead, he snuggled next to me, and the soft snores resumed in short order. Even though I knew right then that it was only a matter of time before I came down with whatever illness my toddler turned outbreak monkey possessed (4 days to be exact), I couldn’t help but smile. I’ll take what I can get.

My toddler used to only want to be with me. Then one day he stopped, and now prefers the company of his dad. All too soon, I know this stage will also be over and he’ll only want to be around his friends. I’ll eventually have to let him find his own way in life, but it is good to know that he’ll still look for mommy now and then.

Miles yet to travel

out of focus road
Image courtesy of Unsplash

From the backseat, Kiddo asked, “how many more minutes?” We’d been on the road for the last three hours, so the bigger surprise was the fact that he hadn’t already asked the same question a million times already.

“We still have a ways to go,” I answered, not exactly excited to reveal that we still had another two hours of windshield time ahead of us.

“But how many minutes until the TV can come back on?”

The in-car entertainment system had only been powered off for a second or so, but the boys were clearly missing the distraction. “Eh, a couple of minutes honey. Maybe three. However long it takes for Dad to fill the car up with gas.

“How many seconds is three minutes?” Kiddo asked.

“One hundred eighty.”

Kiddo paused to take in this information. “Ten, twenty, thirty” I heard him begin.

The boy is feeling clever this morning.

“One hundred sixty, one hundred seventy, one hundred eighty. There. One hundred and eighty seconds. Now can we turn the TV back on?”

Sigh. I was going to have to explain to him that time wasn’t moving any faster for the rest of us just because he had figured out a faster way to count to one eighty. Welcome to Relativity 101 Kiddo. Just then the pump clicked, signaling our tank was full. Before long, we were back on the highway with the sounds of Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse playing over the speaker system. Now I am thinking I am the one in need of a lesson in the manipulation of space-time, because it feels very much like I’ve been here before.

And yet, I feel as if I have gone so very far.

My thanks to everyone who helped make last week’s launch so very special either by checking out my book links, sharing my posts, or simply offering your words of encouragement. I am hopeful that the experience I’ve gained will help me complete my next project that much faster, but I also know not to expect the process to be any easier. I very much appreciate your support.

Be grateful for the little things… even if they have six legs

My house sits on a partially wooded lot, which comes in handy when the leaves begin to fall. Most of the time we can get away with merely pushing the leaves into the natural area and occasionally running them over with our mulching lawn mower.

Unfortunately the leaves aren’t the only things that fall. Often, especially after a storm, our yard will become littered with tree limbs and other small branches. These have to be moved before the lawn mower can come out and also go into their own pile in the natural area.

This Saturday, the weather was beautiful, and the air, while cool, was warmer than it had been for the last several days. We decided it was time to get a little yard work done. At some point during our clean-up, the hubby chose to inspect the stick pile, only to get an unpleasant surprise. He discovered that some pretty nasty bugs had moved in, the kind that aren’t inclined to stick to the great outdoors, and the kind that can do several thousand dollars of damage if left unchecked.

We may live in the Southern US where we pride ourselves on our hospitality, but we did not want to invite these creatures into our house. Something had to be done, and done quickly. We decided present their eviction notice in the form of cleansing fire. Soon the wooden debris was positioned in our fire pit, but hardly any of it was burning. The wood was still too wet from the rain earlier this week. What to do?

While we might not be the most industrious yard care workers, the hubby and I consider ourselves problem solvers. As luck would have it, we had grilled chicken for dinner and still had hot coals smouldering in the bottom of the grill. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! These coals were shoveled into the pit. It was enough. Within minutes, the previously bug infested wood had transformed into a cozy fire helping to keep us warm after the sun set. As the stars came out, the hubby and I enjoyed a glass of wine while the kids happily roasted marshmallows. It was one of those moments you wish you could capture forever.

To think, I might never have had that moment joy if I hadn’t first had a problem.

Later this week, we in the US will be celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday. I, like so many others, will be spending it with family. I am grateful for a good many things that I have: loved ones nearby, food when I am hungry, and a roof over my head. I consider myself very fortunate for having these things, especially when I watch the news and see those that don’t, but I am also grateful for the problems I’ve had, for without them, I might never have become the person I am today.

Fire pit at night
Saturday night at our house, courtesy of my in-house illustrator