Empty Chairs

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Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

There will be two empty chairs at our table this year.

One, left just as the party was really getting underway. While the other wouldn’t have surprised me had he stayed well past closing time.

Someone new will have to carve the turkey this year. Another to be among the first to nurse a glass of holiday wine.

No one will worry this year if I take too long in the shower. No one will judge if I go back for another slice of pie.

Two empty chairs, once filled by two very different people.

We’ll be raising our glasses in remembrance this year. However, I’ll try not to dwell on all the reasons to be sad.

In between courses, I’ll gaze out the window. I’ll see the waves on the lake ebb and flow. And like those waters, I know other guests will join us as the years go by. My family will continue to grow.

I am thankful there is room still at our table.

Even if today, it also means there are two empty chairs.

From the archives – 20 ways to procrastinate between now and the end of the year

First, I would like to extend a happy Hanukkah greeting to all those who celebrate, and to once again express my utter envy that you are past the planning phase of your holiday celebrations and are now simply enjoying them.

I, unfortunately, am woefully behind in my preparations due to book launches, holiday parties, general work craziness, and author interviews (thank goodness for problems like mine) but was able to dig up this post from my archives. It was originally written as part of a tree topper charity challenge also known as Hugh’s Photo Challenge, but I find it equally accurate now down to the Star Wars reference (proving history DOES repeat).

And speaking about author interviews, I was a featured guest this week at T.A. Henry’s Authoress Website blog, as part of her kindness challenge which you can read about here. T.A. Henry is a featured author in the Box Under the Bed Horror Anthology, a collection of scary short stories by 20 authors (affiliate link) as well as some very intriguing novels taking place in an alternate history.

I was also a guest on YA Science Fiction author, Kristen Pham’s site talking about the inspiration for my first book in the series, which was a nice reminder for me as to how far these characters have come. You can read that post here, and while you are there, please take a look at Kristen’s upcoming novel, Joan the Made, as I am very interested in learning more about her experience with the Kindle Scout program.


Tree Topper

This is also known as 20 things to do when you are trying to write your weekly blog post, but all you can think about is all the things you have to do between now and the end of the year and how much you want to see Star Wars.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Bring in the mail
  3. Watch as the box tower you made out packages already received and haven’t yet had a chance the inclination to wrap sways dangerously from side to side as you attempt to add one more to the pile
  4. Decide protection of life, limb, and property is worth a few minutes spent wrapping
  5. Run out to the store to purchase more wrapping paper
  6. Issue an all points bulletin on the tape that you could have sworn you left on the table and yet is nowhere to be seen (I believe there is a holiday drinking game or two to go along with this)
  7. Locate lost tape the minute you return to the wrapping area with a new spool
  8. Open another package after realizing the paper you cut for the first package was the wrong size
  9. Treat paper cut
  10. Wonder why you didn’t pay for the gift wrap option when purchasing presents
  11. Pour yourself another cup of coffee / tea / water / wine
  12. Return to the computer to intent to write, only to discover 100 handy dandy rules for evil overlords (which are also good tips for how not to write clichéd villains/confrontation scenes and therefore, valuable research and definitely not a time waster)
  13. Head over to another room to turn on some music
  14. Trip over discarded cardboard
  15. Catch your reflection as you reorganize the pile of excess cardboard waste and ponder whether or not it is time for a haircut
  16. Look again at the package tower and remember why you didn’t pay for the gift wrap option while also forgetting about scheduling a haircut
  17. Return to the computer read about Hugh’s Photo Challenge and his charity, The Dog Trust, and decide that you’d like to support a cause whose mission is to help all dogs enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction while wishing there was a similar one for all people
  18. Take a picture
  19. Eat a cookie
  20. Relax and be happy

Air travel is the worst: 5 quick tips to save your sanity this holiday season

5 quick tips to save your sanity when traveling during the holiday season - www.alliepottswrites.com

The holidays are almost upon us so I thought I would offer a bit of airline and international travel advice I’ve picked up over the years for those, like myself, who are forced to fly cattle class coach when driving (or taking the train) is not an option. Affiliate links are in this post.

  1. The airlines, apparently, like to know if you are traveling with children prior to check-in

My eldest son was still a toddler when I decided to expose him to the joy that is close quarters and recirculated air in a flying tube. I’d done my research. I packed him a bottle to help with the popping of his ears upon take-off and landing. I’d brought a few quiet toys to distract him on the flight. What I hadn’t thought to do was buy him a ticket as I knew he’d be making the trip on my lap. Yes I know, I am brilliant sometimes, but in my defense, I was a new parent and sleep deprived. Thankfully my doctor’s office was willing to fax over a record of his immunizations while the attendant at check-in added him to the manifest. or I might have had one irritated sister waiting for me on the other side.

The lesson here is: don’t make assumptions and call ahead if you have questions.

2. Don’t run to the security check-point like the family in the movie, Home Alone

AirTran Sign 5

Could have fooled me. Image courtesy of flickr.com

You will immediately put airport security on edge and you’ll need that energy to get to your gate later as I maintain that the only flights ever departing from the gates closest to security are only for show. This is especially true at larger airports. Fun fact, terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport’s two terminals is over 570,000 square meters (that’s more than 88 city blocks) and employees enough people to qualify as a large town. I know this because on one of my trips I had to navigate my way through at least half of that space to get from gate to exit/entrance and back again. I think it is their way of ensuring you get some quality exercise in between your flights. Good times.

3. Don’t joke with the security team to be careful with your bag as it might explode

This tip, thankfully, came to me by way of a co-worker whose off-hand comment was supposed to be in reference to how tightly packed her bag was but was taken in an entirely different context by the transit authority.

In fact, it is best you don’t try to joke with the TSA at all. They aren’t exactly known for their sense of humor. The only time I earned so much as a smile was at a tiny airport in the midwest, and only then it was by playing along when the agent was the one to initiate the joke. In case you are curious, I clapped like a game show contestant when I was selected for an extra security screening and the agent said, “tell her what she’s won.”

What can I say, it had been a long day.

4. Don’t conduct calls while you are waiting for your flight using acronyms that can be misinterpreted – they will be

This is another tip my co-worker shared. In my day job the letters BOM stand for bill of material, only we don’t say B.O.M in shorthand conversation. We say ‘bomb,’ and for some reason, fellow passengers tend to get nervous when they hear you complaining over and over in the waiting area about how you haven’t located the final BOM yet. Go figure.

Side note – failure to follow this tip is also a good way to get you that extra special attention I referenced at the end of tip number 3.

5. Upon arriving at your destination, keep your answers to customs questions short and to the point

My husband surprised me with a trip to London this past summer so that I could spend some time with my writing accountability partner as well as attend the International Bloggers Bash. I was excited, but as I was traveling alone, a little bit nervous upon touch down. I have a tendency to speak without thinking when I get nervous.

The custom’s agent asked me if I was there for business or pleasure.

Ummm both?

I see. And where will you be staying while you are here?

With a friend.

Did you meet this friend the last time you were in the UK?

We’ve actually never met before in person.

*blink, blink, awkward pause*

She’s like my pen-pal. We’ve written to each other for months and video-conferenced.

And this is a friend, you say..?

If you blogged you would understand.

Okay, I didn’t say that last line out loud. The way the agent still hadn’t yet stamped my passport and was looking at me as if he had serious doubts about my mental state made me think it was best to shut my mouth.

Also, admittedly most of these tips are for when your feet are still on the ground and not in the air, but that would have been too long a title for this post. I hope that if you are traveling, you travel safe, and enjoy your time whether the place is new or the company well known.


Bonus TipSpeaking of the Bloggers Bash and those across the pond, the event’s founder and author of the non-fiction writing guide, 13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains, Sacha Black, is launching her first YA fantasy novel, Keepers (The Eden East Novels Book 1) on Friday, November 17th. Its a story about a girl who can manipulate the elements, a boy who can manipulate emotions, shifters, sorcerers, mysterious deaths, and the forces of chaos poised to disrupt the very fabric of our existence.

Because if you are going to travel it’s always a good idea to bring a fun read with you (and maybe a good sense of humor).


And finally here are some actual helpful tips

42 Biggest Travel Don’ts Around The World

 Happy Travels

From Visually.

 

 

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 8 – Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge

Tree Topper

This is also known as 20 things to do when you are trying to write your weekly blog post, but all you can think about is all the things you have to do between now and the end of the year and how much you want to see Star Wars.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Bring in the mail
  3. Watch as the box tower you made out packages already received and haven’t yet had a chance the inclination to wrap sways dangerously from side to side as you attempt to add one more to the pile
  4. Decide protection of life, limb, and property is worth a few minutes spent wrapping
  5. Run out to the store to purchase more wrapping paper
  6. Issue an all points bulletin on the tape that you could have sworn you left on the table and yet is nowhere to be seen
  7. Locate lost tape the minute you return to the wrapping area with a new spool
  8. Open another package after realizing the paper you cut for the first package was the wrong size
  9. Treat paper cut
  10. Wonder why you didn’t pay for the gift wrap option when purchasing presents
  11. Pour yourself another cup of coffee / tea / water / wine
  12. Return to the computer to intent to write, only to discover 100 handy dandy rules for evil overlords (which are also good tips for how not to write clichéd villains / confrontation scenes and therefore, valuable research and definitely not a time waster)
  13. Head over to another room to turn on some music
  14. Trip over discarded cardboard
  15. Catch your reflection as you reorganize pile of excess cardboard waste and ponder whether or not it is time for a haircut
  16. Look again at the package tower and remember why you didn’t pay for the gift wrap option while also forgetting about scheduling a haircut
  17. Return to the computer read about Hugh’s Photo Challenge and his charity, The Dog Trust, and decide that you’d like to support a cause whose mission is to help all dogs enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction while wishing there was a similar one for all people
  18. Take a picture
  19. Eat a cookie
  20. Relax and be happy