How Not to Launch a Book in Ten Easy Steps

This time next week, I’ll officially have four novels with my name on them. Four. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. You would think that this would mean that I’m quite the expert on launching a book, but sadly this is another example of something I’m far more qualified on the topic of what not to do.

1. If it is your first project, don’t wait to start building up a presence on social media, blogs, or working on growing your mailing list until after the book is for sale. For some strange reasons telling people about your book after it is officially on sale doesn’t exactly make for the best opening weekend.

2. If it is a sequel to that first project, consider launching it within a year of the first in the series, if not sooner. You might have been obsessed with your characters and the world over that time, but apparently, readers move on during that time. Readers can be fickle like that.

3. If you do mistakenly wait for more than a year (or five), consider re-reading your original time or two before attempting to write the sequel. You might think the fact that you read and re-read your original novel twenty-gajillion times during the editing process would mean you have your character’s mannerisms and tone etched into your bone. You’d be wrong.

4. If you go ahead and write the novel without revisiting your original story and send out a half-baked manuscript to early readers, don’t be surprised when they tell you your story is flat (but in the nicest, most constructive, supportive way).

5. If you did send out a half-baked story, don’t spend more than a week questioning all your life choices leading up to this moment of misery while pondering if it might be better to change your name and start again in Idaho (which I hear is lovely), or similar place.

6. If you do decide to give yourself a break by pushing out your self-imposed publishing calendar from the Spring to the Fall, don’t think all that extra time means you can’t still be working on it.

7. If the stress of working on a seemingly never-ending project did get to you and you found yourself going on a vacation, savor that time with your family or friends, but know you will have to kick the work into overdrive the minute you get back.

8. If you did allow bad habits to creep back into your process while you indulged in a few weeks of rest and relaxation, write out a marketing and production plan the day you return so you can start planning out your tasks and get your head back into the game as quickly as possible if only to make up for lost time.

9. If the words “marketing” or “production” plan put you on edge, know you are in good company. However, know that you still have to do these things even if you’d rather put your fingers in your ear and sing lalalalalalala. Therefore, you might as well get over yourself and find a way to write that stuff down, but more importantly, follow-through. You’ll save yourself a ton of heartache later.

10. If your eyes completed glossed over #9 as some sort of mental denial, or you are already coming up with a dozen or more reasons why there was always something else more pressing to do, well then you too might just find yourself a week from launch day in a state of mild panic realizing that while you do have a completely re-written book itching to go on sale, you only a handful of advanced reviews scheduled, and absolutely no blog tour stops or social media events planned on your calendar.

It’s not an insurmountable situation, but the alternative is much to be preferred.

And that, my friends, is how not to launch a book.


Living happily ever after is a full-time job.

Uncertain-Confidence-www.alliepottswrites.comCharlotte’s life is on an upward swing. She’s in business with her best friend and her art is finally getting noticed.

Nothing could possibly go wrong … until everything does.

One disastrous night out ends with the sudden collapse of her best friend’s husband, putting him in the hospital and leaving Charlotte to manage things alone.

Uncertain about her ability to keep her business and her aspirations for artistic stardom afloat, Charlotte enlists the help of a stranger who promises to make her dreams come true. But in doing so, Charlotte may learn just how dangerous trusting the wrong person with your dreams can be.

Will Charlotte’s confidence prove to be her greatest strength or will it be her greatest mistake yet?

An Uncertain Confidence is a sweet contemporary story and fast read about friendship, trust, and the lengths we often go to protect those we love.

On Sale Oct 24th

Read an excerpt

If you give your husband a truck continued – The Chuck Box: Part Deux

In my effort to provide a humorous spin on a project taking up space in my garage for far too long, I inadvertently offended the mighty carpenter / do-it-yourselfer / mad-engineer that is my other half by posting an image that did properly convey the amount of hard work he put into his creation, nor its sheer awesomeness.

[Warning! The following is an advertisement and may contain views and opinions that do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial or writing staff of http://www.alliepottswrites.com.

Participants were not paid for their time.]

I give you –

THE CHUCK BOX: Part Deux.

Measuring 33.5″ tall, 60″ long, and 24.5″ deep (0.85m x 1.524m x 0.6223m) and goodness knows how many pounds in its ‘closed’ position, the chuck box (which could also be described as a tiny home kitchenette) has everything one might need to create a home-cooked meal, even when you are miles from home including a working sink operated by a foot pump as well as a double burning gas-powered grill with gas storage tank. Utensils are also within ready reach as are (my personal favorite) a trio of travel wine glasses.

But that’s not all.

The entire top flips a mind-boggling 180 degrees thanks to a well-placed piano hinge. A pair of hidden legs then extends to provide this lucky chuck box owner an extra meal prep counter space.

But your taste buds aren’t the only things to get a workout thanks to this monument of epic engineering.

There’s more?

Feast your eyes on an optional audio-visual extravaganza complete with flat screen tv, speaker system, power bar, remote caddy, and over the air extended antenna. This detachable system is perfect for keeping small children (and those full-grown) entertained for hours and is especially handy during long tailgates throughout football season.

How do all these awesome electronics operate? I’m glad you asked. The A/V system is run off a portable solar panel plus inverter (not pictured), which my other half will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about if you ever ask him.

But wait, we’re still not done!

When it is time to pack up, the entire box closes like a traveling steam truck of old protecting its contents until the next time you journey off to create new memories.

Act Now. Limited Quantities. Time is running out!

I wish I could say contact my other half here for questions about what it would take to get yourself one of these marvels, except we have yet to figure out how to lift the thing high enough to fit on the trailer hitch.

However, knowing my other half, he already has a few ideas as to how to solve that problem as well. My guess? Those ideas will be equally awesome, but take up the remaining space in the garage for the foreseeable future.

Until next time!

 

The great grain-free reboot: a thirty-one-day challenge

“You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven today and we don’t know where she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres

The great grain-free reboot. A 31 day challenge - www.alliepottswrites.com #healthylivingI recently experienced the joy that is the annual check-up at the doctor’s office. After sitting for some unknown period of time under a piece of paper thinner than the stuff I blow my nose with, my doctor entered the room and took a look at my chart. “Have you been exercising?”

I don’t know why she felt the need to ask as we both knew the answer to that question. I’d seen what number appeared on the scale minutes prior and though I have let my hair grow long since my last appointment and was wearing boots at the time, I’m pretty sure those two things combined didn’t weigh enough to fully account for the difference. But I could be wrong. My hair is quite thick after all.

“Yeah, well I kinda sorta stopped going to the gym.” My gym had upped their monthly fee from only an arm and a leg to the whole thing. Being fired by my personal trainer hadn’t helped either (some people are simply un-trainable). “But I regularly take the dog for walks and I do have to run after two boys.”

My doctor raised an eyebrow. Admittedly, I could have found another gym that charged less for a monthly membership, but I’d rationalized, not only would I save money, I had more time for writing this way. (The sacrifices I make for my art)! Besides, walking the solid mass of muscle and squirrel-lurcher-extraordinaire that is my dog, Her Royal Highness, often results in a full body workout.

My doctor put her pen down and made full eye contact. Never a good sign. “You know, after thirty, your metabolism slows down drastically.”

I grimaced. I’d passed that particular milestone … er … it doesn’t matter how long ago – just accept it happened. Okay?

fruit crustini - www.alliepottswrites.com

How I got to where I am – Exhibit A

My doctor didn’t have to say anything more. I knew what she meant. After a winter of excess, it was time to do some damage control. I was going to have to be mindful of what I ate again. In other words – may God have mercy on all my friends, family, and co-workers.

While I agree that lifestyle changes are more effective in the long-term, I decided to kickstart my rebooted effort with a thirty-day (or in this case thirty-one-day) challenge. I announced to the hubby that for the month of March, I would go grain-free, thereby forcing myself to eat more veggies, while still allowing me the occasional bit of sugar (and let’s be honest – a glass or two of wine).

To his credit, my hubby decided to take on a dietary challenge too, choosing to go the ketogenic route or keto for short.

I wasn’t familiar with the ketogenic diet at the time, but now, after a week into our individual challenges, I can say that I believe the butter and egg lobby groups got together to cook this one up and maybe the avocado group too as evidenced by the empty egg cartons that keep appearing on my countertop as if by magic and the wall-o-butter packages that now fill my fridge’s dairy compartment. From my perspective, it seems to be a lot of work (so many labels to read), but we are finding there is enough overlap between the two to keep each other honest.

So far, the kids haven’t noticed we’re doing anything different. They have homemade pizza. We have homemade pizza (albeit with a tapioca and cheese based crust which proved to be pretty yummy and crisper than the cauliflower kind I’d tried before). They have tacos. We have tacos. Okay, ours were more of a taco salad as the “super easy” zucchini tortillas I attempted to prepare for the adults proved to be more dip than a shell (that may have had something to do with the lack of eggs when it came time to make them – see above).

And is it working? One week in and I’m down two and a half pounds, while the hubby has dropped somewhere closer to six. I’d say he is an overachiever, but he can lose that much just from skipping a soda now and then. (Guys, seriously, that is so unfair).

But just as importantly I have yet to take my grain deprived frustrations out on an unsuspecting co-worker or loved one (at least, not that I’m aware of). So that’s a plus.

Will that continue to be the case, or will the news coming out of the city of oaks include a crazed woman demanding spaghetti? Will I soon be able to pass as Cookie Monster’s understudy? Or will the next several chapters of my current WIP include excessive references to cake? Only time will tell. I’m posting this to help me stay accountable. But one thing is for sure – a month from now, with any luck, I hope you’ll be seeing less of me.

Final food for thought (aka related reading)

What poisonous zombie tsunami sharks can teach us about achieving realistic goals

What poisonous zombie tsunami sharks can teach us about achieving realistic goals - www.alliepottswrites.com

“What would happen if a Tsunami came here?” my youngest son asked as he brought over his latest creation. It was a drawing featuring a tiny mound of brown in the lower left-hand corner. A large blue backward C shape filled the rest of the page. I looked at the picture. I looked at my son. Clearly, the island was toast.

“Maybe it would be okay. They might have had advanced warning,” I suggested. “Or maybe there are boats that could help them float away?”

It was a slim excuse at best (I’ve seen what a Tsunami can do to a small boat), but I was going to go with it. My youngest is only five (for another week). Who wants to talk about a disaster from which there is no hope of escape with someone that age?

LT’s eyes narrowed as he glanced at his artwork. “I’ll be back.” He ran off to the other room.

He returned with another drawing of a giant wave. This one even larger than the one before. “How about now?”

Note the use of bold strokes, repeated forms, and the inclusion of a single cloud on an otherwise clear day. Here the artist is expressing the futility of man when confronted by nature’s might.

I looked at the poor island in the picture. Then another feature caught my eye. Dark triangles poking out of the second wave’s curl. “Wait. Are those sharks?”

LT grinned. Both of my children are well aware of my, let’s say, lack of fondness, for Selachimorpha in all its variations and take an inordinate amount of joy in watching my reaction.

“You drew a Tsunami with sharks.”

LT’s eyes twinkled as he nodded. “What would happen, now?” he asked. “Would we die?”

I’m not sweating. “Maybe not. You could punch the sharks in the nose or use the Bat-shark repellent.” LT wants to be Batman, correction – The Batman Weatherman, when he grows up, so it should almost go without saying he’ll have a ready case of Bat-shark repellent on hand for just such an emergency.

“What if they were poison sharks?”

“Poison?! Umm… er… there might be an antidote-”

“What if they were zombies too?”

I blinked. I looked at my husband, was he hearing what I was? His grin matched that of our son’s. Yep. He shook his head at me as if to say, what are you gonna do? I turned back to our little creator of the next made-for-TV, cheesy creature feature. “Poisonous Zombie Sharks? In a Tsunami?”

Poisonous Zombie Sharks - www.alliepottswrites.com

I’m confident sales will smash all box office expectations. (In case you are wondering, yes, this is the sort of thing I do in my spare time).

Okay, I have to admit it’s a genius idea, but every now and then I have to wonder if there is something about that boy that just isn’t right.

LT was almost cackling with manic glee at this point. Delighted with his cleverness, but unable to speak, he could only nod again.

Seeing no alternative – no stick figure on the island representing a scientist who had up until this point been the laughing stock of his profession, but was now humanity’s last hope against the coming killer tide – I had to give up. “Well, I guess, then yeah, we would all probably die.”

Apparently, this was the answer LT was going for the whole time. Satisfied, he ran off to create additional masterpieces.

I’ve mentioned before, my youngest knows how to achieve his goals and close a deal. The first step to doing either is to go in knowing what you want going out.

The same can be said about storytelling. It’s far easier to tell a joke if you know the punchline just as it is far easier to write a book if you know the ending.

But while having a goal in mind can keep you focused, it is also important to allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the plan. I’m pretty sure that the inclusion of poison and zombies was a spur of the moment decision (though with LT one really never knows). All he wanted was for me to confirm that his island was a complete loss, but he allowed our conversation to detour, evolve, and refine until the end result was even better than the one he originally imagined.

Many of us made resolutions at the beginning of the year and many of us have already broken them once or twice. You don’t need my permission, but I want you to know that’s okay. Life happens. Zombie sharks may appear in waves.

The important thing is remembering the reason for the resolution in the first place. Ask yourself what is the underlying need and keep asking until you know the answer by heart and adjust your plan accordingly.

Who knows? When you finally reach your goal and look back, the path you wound up taking might prove even better than the one you first imagined.

 

 

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