I’m fixing a hole

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Someone, please find me an iron torch and an epic hero. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Getting your novel ready for its grand debut is like battling a hydra. You make one correction, only to then discover the need for three more. I had grown somewhat obsessed over the last few weeks, a condition that has only gotten worse the closer I got to my launch date (which is next week by the way). I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night worried that there might be some aspect of the reading experience I could still improve.

The boys were taking their bath. Knowing they were occupied for the moment, I decided to sneak away to process yet another last-minute update. They’ll barely notice I am gone. After Lamont caught me in the act, I felt the need to explain what I was up to, and why. He wisely refrained from rolling his eyes. We’ve probably only had this same conversation a half a dozen times over the last month (I have the slight tendency to worry something to death). I was turning to go back to the boys when I saw it – a stream of water coming from the kitchen ceiling. Yes, it was raining out, but my kitchen is on the first floor. Considering we hadn’t recently installed an indoor water feature, there could be only one source.

LT. The boy is currently obsessed with volcanos and waterfalls. He likes the look of thing cascading downward. Sand. A glass of milk. An entire roll of toilet paper. He’s not picky. I must have left a cup within his reach once again (whatever happened to those good old days before he was mobile). I flew up the stairs, stopping at the bathroom door. Sure enough, you could almost make out waves and tidal patterns in the amount of water that covered the tile floor. (I’m a tad surprised NOAA wasn’t already there). I had only been gone a couple of minutes. Five tops! It takes the boy twenty minutes to eat half of a peanut butter sandwich, but he can cause trouble with amazing efficiency.

Ahhhh, children – such bringers of joy and destroyers of all things expensive to replace.

I looked to his brother, who immediately volunteered, “It was LT” as he scurried down the hall. Kiddo is a survivor. He takes after his father.

LT, on the other hand, happily continued to splash, as unconcerned about the pulsing vein in my forehead as he was about the stream flowing downstairs. Scooping our little future delinquent volcanologist out of the water, Lamont and I sent him to bed without a story (the worst punishment this writer could think of at the time – I have since come up with several other things that I would have liked to have done), before we set out to clean up the mess. Several soaked towels later, it occurred to us that we would also have to address the moisture in the space between floors. (Finding mold would make this a horror story)

So in the words of Paul McCartney and John Lennon

“I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go”

Bacon Apple Pie
My bacon apple pie: Warning – bacon has now been linked to cancer. Consider your day ruined.

As October closes, allow me to summarize. My coffee pot caught on fire, a mouse moved into my house, and there is now a gaping hole in my kitchen ceiling. Even so, I still love this time of year. The leaves are changing and autumn brews are back on the shelves along with other seasonal treats. Best of all, by writing this, I am now thinking of pie, Halloween, and Thanksgiving (but not Christmas – stay in December where you belong). I am finally not thinking about what else I could do to the book. It is time to stop worrying about the what ifs and get back to recognizing the what wills.

The water will dry, the mouse will take the bait, and I will enjoy some coffee. All the rest can wait.

It’s the final countdown

If you are reading this, it means that the world has escaped yet another doomsday prediction. Hurrah for us!

This also means I owe you a post, but, unfortunately, my draft folder is woefully slim this week. Perhaps I can interest you in a sampling of some of my favorites from the vault:

You had a week to prepare. What could you possibly be doing other than crafting new amusing anecdotal stories for our reading pleasure?

Funny you should ask.

5 star review

That’s right. I have been querying reviewers and am happy to report that advanced copies of The Fair & Foul received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite.

So that’s great for you, but when can us regular readers get our hands on it?


You know full well that we as a society have evolved beyond patience. We demand an update.

I would love to give you firm dates, but I am finalizing formatting.

You’ve been saying that for months now.

Formatting is nothing to take lightly. I put an excerpt up. Isn’t that enough?

Which you only announced on Facebook. What are you, some kind of cruel tease? We want dates, woman. Dates!

Enter Amazon: Hmm Allie, I really think you need to give yourself a deadline.

I’d love to, but I want to make sure it is perfect.

Have you ever heard the phrase, sometimes you have to shoot the engineer and go to market anyway?

Just what are you implying…

Kindle Accountability
Failure to comply will result in probation from pre-order program for one year.

What is that?!? Did you just issue an ultimatum?

Amazon drops mic and exits without looking back.

Chirp. Chirp.

You were saying?


Available for pre-order now
Available for pre-order now

The final proof is in the mail for the paperback version (I swear!) Once I have proven to myself that typos are minimized, the cover is wrapped correctly and no extra pages have been added (which could be as early as next week), I will be announcing the official launch date for my book. One thing is certain – it will be released before November 4th. It’s the final countdown!

I’ll happily accept any help offered as part of this book launch. Please let me know what you might need from me (in addition to the firm official launch date). Tell your friends. Reblog all you want. If you do, please also feel free to shamelessly plug your own links to your sites, services, books, or artisanally crafted hand goods in the comments below.

Almost according to plan

popcorn spill
Image courtesy of Flickr

Lured by the promise of unlimited popcorn and free movies, I once took a job at one of those giant megaplex movie theaters. I was only in my teens, but so were most employees, and after only a few months on the job I was promoted to Team Leader. My first assignment? Prepare the concession stand for a regular business day.

I was nervous the day I arrive. I had never led a team before, at least not through a corporate mandate, and I certainly had never “opened” a concession stand. I didn’t even know who would be there to help me as Team Leaders were expected to keep the newer hires on point but weren’t responsible for assigning shifts.

Movie theaters feel quite a bit different before patrons arrive. For one, the lights are on at full brightness illuminating all the popcorn kernels, candy wrappers, or greasy fingerprints the cleaning crew missed from the night before. It is also quiet. Almost too quiet.

Another employee entered the lobby, making me jump. It was Sean. Sean had recently been promoted to Supervisor, a rank made obvious by the maroon polyester vest he wore and was technically my superior in this organization (the rest of us wore black). Although I had never worked with Sean, I was relieved as I took his presence to mean that at least one of us had some additional experience.

“So, what do we need to do first?” I asked.

“I was hoping you knew.”

You might have heard crickets chirping had the theater’s speakers, not at that moment, begun to blast a selection of top 40 pop tunes which would repeat on a loop for the rest of the day. We stood there equally dumbfounded for a couple more minutes, but no one else showed with a checklist of opening duties. Training wasn’t the theater’s strong suit.

“Umm, I guess I’ll sweep?” I suggested.

As we finished cleaning the floors and wiping down surfaces, a manager zipped by (they do exist!) “You need to get the butter ready,” he announced before disappearing once again.

Butter package
It definitely does not look like this at the theater and yes, you can believe it is not butter. (Image from Wikipedia)

Lamont loves coating our popcorn in butter on the rare occasions that we get to enjoy going out to a movie, but I’ve seen how it is prepared. Sean and I pulled out several jugs of congealed yellow paste resembling ear wax (really gross stuff), placing them over the dispenser as we continued getting the rest of the concessions ready. Ten minutes later, the butter paste remained firmly in the jar. Examining our handiwork, we realized that we hadn’t turned the warming tray on. “Almost got it,” we joked at our mistake.

The rest of the morning was filled with several other “almost” disasters, to the point of being comical. “Almost” became our inside joke and we were cracking up over our near incompetence by the time the first patron came through the door. Our manager might have wondered what was so funny, had he bothered to check on us more than a passing second, but the important thing was the patrons never knew that their soda had been two seconds from being pure syrup, or that at one point the counter resembled a mountainside avalanche as napkins launched themselves out of their spring-loaded containers.

In the right context, “almost got it” still makes me smile. Had the morning gone as planned, I doubt I would remember it today. It would have been just another day, boring and indistinguishable from the next. Instead, the day’s imperfections made it one of my favorite teenage memories.

With that being said, I have reached the decision to launch my second book, The Fair & Foul under the imprint of Axil Hammer Publishing this Fall. Are there still tweaks I could make to the story between now and then, an adjustment to the font, or layout of the cover? Perhaps, but, there will always be things I could improve. If it had to be perfect, you’d never remember it because it would never be published. While it may prove not to be perfect, I am proud of the story as it stands and look forward to sharing it with you.

The Fair and Foul Cover Reveal

Patience is not a virtue of mine. I hate waiting. I realize it is a necessary part of the publishing process, but oh, how I dislike doing nothing. So I don’t. I find other ways to stay busy.

Last month, I nervously waited for beta readers to get back to me with their comments. I started outlining follow-up projects and writing a few placeholder scenes, but I didn’t want to go too far away from my current project, just in case another round of major revisions was needed. I didn’t want to lose my sense of the characters or the story’s timing. So instead of jumping fully into my next project, I spent some of that time creating covers for my manuscript.

It may sound like I was procrastinating, but it makes the work feel more real and seeing a cover, even a fake one, helps keep me motivated to push through bouts of writer’s block. The mock-up process also helps me with the project’s final development even if I ultimately don’t use any of my creations. For example, if the title doesn’t look good on a cover, I consider changing it altogether, not just the placement. If the back blurb doesn’t stand out, I refine it. Additionally, my designs help me focus my elevator speech and discuss must have elements with graphic/interior artists.

As useful as my mock-ups are, I usually don’t share my actual graphic designs with anyone except the hubby who has been trained to smile and say, “nice work,” even if he is thinking please don’t quit your day job. Only this time he said, “you might have something.” I tinkered with it some more, and then some more until I realized I agreed with him.

Feeling proud, I showed the cover design to my younger sister over the weekend. “Hmm, it looks nice,” she said with a shrug before returning her attention to something else.

Publishing a book is easy. All you have to do is hit the Publish button on any number of publishing sites like Smashwords, Kindle Direct, CreateSpace, Lulu, etc, but pushing that button yourself is hard, really hard. One of the reasons the traditional publishing route is so appealing in the face of lower royalties and smaller advances is because other people are helping you push that button. You get instant street cred. You get to feel shiny and validated. That is until the first negative review comes in. Then you start questioning your work (and worth) as much as the self-published author, but at least the self-published author has the power to make quick changes if needed. The key is to trust your gut and always remember your audience.

While my sister reads often, she is not what anyone would describe as a book nerd. I trust her to tell me when something I do is terrible, but sometimes her polite indifference is as glowing of an endorsement as I am ever going to get. Therefore, without further ado, I would like to reveal my cover (or at least the title) of my second novel – The Fair & Foul: Project Gene Assist Book One.


I am what I am

100th birthday cake
The cake decorator is still ‘icing’ his/her hand after this order

My grandfather’s 100th birthday party took place on board a chartered boat near my father’s house. There were eighty guests, but only a fraction was from my branch of the family tree. The other guests were more distant relations or friends of either my dad or my grandfather. They were people who knew my name, but not necessarily my story and as a direct descendant of the guest of honor (and the host), I was expected to mingle.

For the last decade, if you asked what I did, I would tell you my day job title. Two years ago I might have also admitting doing a little writing on the side if it came up organically in the conversation, but I rarely lead with that information (unless I was specifically at an event promoting the book). Perhaps it was the fact that my second manuscript is done and I’m seeking beta readers (please check out my Coming Soon page to learn more). Perhaps it was the wine. Perhaps it was because we were simply celebrating an achievement of a lifetime. For whatever reason, on that day, I decided to introduce myself first as an author.

Danger Will Robinson
Abort! Abort!

I almost instantly regretted it. A man in the buffet line with me asked if I had read a particular bestseller. I hadn’t. I had however seen the movie (which is a pretty big accomplishment for me considering how rarely I get to go out to the movies). I thought the storytelling was pretty great, and even though I assumed that the book was better, I just hadn’t gotten around to reading the source material. He named another book. It was one I hadn’t ever heard of, but the title sounded like something you would see on the New York Times Best Seller List. When I admitted to missing out on both, the man responded, “and you call yourself a novelist!”

He meant it as a joke, but I was crushed. Doubts danced in my head. What if he was right? Was I a fraud? Was I, in some way, a less legitimate author because I chose to enjoy a movie without reading the book first or because I chose to pick other reads over more popular critical darlings?

I wanted to run and hide, but we were surrounded by water and the buffet line was barely moving. After an awkward pause, the man asked, “well what do you read?” I named some of my favorite authors and some of my favorite books. He blinked. He’d never heard of them. I described amazing world building, their original thinking, and intricate plotting. The man grew quiet as my book nerd flag flew high. By the time we reached the food, my mojo back was back.

The experience reminded me that there is no guarantee that a great book will be a bestseller or vice versa. I knew before I ever started writing that I wasn’t going to sell my work to everyone and this man was not a member of my target audience. He could judge me based on my literary taste if he wanted, but in my opinion, by sticking to only the best seller list he had missed out on just as much, if not more. Perhaps he might never pick up on of my books (ahhhh – the plural sounds so very nice). That’s okay. It won’t make me any less an author, but if I convinced him to try out at least one other unknown then I will consider the conversation a success.

I am what I am
Toot! Toot! image from Pinterest