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

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.

 

 

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

 

One Nearly Foolproof Way to Achieve Absolutely Nothing

One Nearly Foolproof Way to Achieve Absolutely Nothing - www.alliepottswrites.com #beach #sharks #quotes

“There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.” – P. G. Wodehouse

While the cure for gray hairs might only be death, spending a weekend at the beach accompanied by a handful of close friends, a box of wine, and neither kids nor spouses in sight, sure goes a long way toward treating its spread.

We’d arrived after work Thursday afternoon. The sky was blue and the air was still warm from the midday sun though occasionally gusts kept it from becoming unpleasant. Half of the group had arrived earlier and were already well into relaxation mode as I let the sand fill the space between my toes. I looked out to the sea. We meet again, my nemesis.

The sea waved back.

A surf shop at the beach swears by Sharkbanz, which I also refer as my bat-shark repellent. I can’t say it works, but I can say it hasn’t not worked when I’ve worn mine. Image will take you to affiliate link

To be clear, it is not the ocean I have a problem with, but its denizens. Even so, I looked out to the horizon determined. This was the year. I would go swimming with my friends rather than sit on the shore watching their antics with envy, helpless against my galeophobia (that’s fear of sharks) which seemed to have only grown stronger with every year, exponentially more so since my children were born.

I wasn’t always like this. I am sure once upon a time I was able to view a shark and see it the same way my children do – as merely a large meat eating fish rather than the soulless killing machines they are – a predator so perfect it stopped evolving back with the dinosaurs still roamed. I can blame part of it on my teachers in primary school. You see, and some of you may be shocked to read this, I wasn’t exactly the best-behaved child in the classroom. As a result, I was given the opportunity to earn a bit of extra credit by writing a few research papers. Unfortunately, while the teacher’s changed, the topic didn’t – sharks.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school” – Albert Einstein

I’m sure as far as my teachers were concerned the topic was harmless enough. They probably even thought I would enjoy it. After all, sharks are fascinating as the popularity of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week proves. However, my teachers didn’t anticipate the scope of my imagination. When I read that some sharks, such as the Bull Shark (a highly aggressive species) can swim quite happily in either salt, brackish, or freshwater, my young mind immediately came to the conclusion that they could be lurking in all lakes, regardless as to size or how far a particular body of water happened to be from the ocean.

I became convinced that there was a shark living in the lake near my father’s house. Not wishing to be the only one stuck on land, I convinced my younger sister that there was an invisible shark living in our mother’s pool too. (If you are reading this, sis – love you and happy birthday again).

“Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life” – Charles M. Schulz

Yes - it's a shark in the roof.

Okay – so technically this is not the aftermath of a real Sharknado, but the Headington Shark in Oxford does illustrate my point nicely. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

You laugh, but it could happen. There are several species of animals with transparent skin and much that we haven’t discovered yet leaving underwater. Also, Sharknado isn’t as fictitious as it sounds. Sharks have, in fact, been known to fall from the sky.

You might be wondering then why a person with issues a phobia like mine would enjoy going to the beach as often as I do. All I can say is this – it is the beach.

The sand, the sound, and breath-taking sunsets call to me like a siren. While it very well could lead to my death, I’ve found no other place where the command to sit and enjoy the moment is so strong. I love the mountains too, but while I may be cut off from civilization, I am still compelled to be constantly on the move – to hike, to explore, or to otherwise look for the next spectacular view.

But the ocean is different. Though you might sit for hours in the same spot, the view is never the same. Sands shift and tides change.

The ocean is a good reminder that everything changes with time. People too.

After spending most of my annual weekend ridiculed (gotta love good friends) and afraid last year, I decided enough was enough. While the fear might never go away completely, I would not let it rule me. Watching my friends in the water, I’d remembered a trick for handling my fear. It worked too. As long as I kept my eyes on the horizon and never looked into the shadows, I could wade out as deep as my shoulders. I could even swim a few strokes. Unfortunately, I hadn’t recalled this until it was nearly time to pack up and go home.

But that was last year. This year would be different. I just knew it. I went to bed that night convinced I would stun them all in the morning.

“Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.” – Mike Tyson

The next day rain pelted down courtesy of a tropical depression that had made landfall in Florida earlier that week. It would appear my plans for phobic domination would have to wait.

Proving if you are looking for one nearly foolproof way to achieve absolutely nothing all you have to do is count on the weather.

What are the Odds of?...

and may the odds be ever in your favor…

Infographic courtesy of Visually.
Quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com