Metaphorically Speaking Mockup

Reflections on a New Old Release

Those with sharp eyes may have noticed that I’ve updated my various banners across most of social media. A few were even kind enough to reach out and ask about it. The reason is, I have another title on my shelves — Metaphorically Speaking: Reflections on Happiness, Success, and Other Fictions.

Yet, while this is a new release, it feels like an older one too. This is because it is a collection of some of the best stories from my blog, which I have since tied together into a more cohesive narrative, along with a few new entries.

It all started one day when I was standing at the base of a literary brick wall and trying to motivate myself to resist the urge to abandon the project or pursue an easier choice of profession. The former engineer in me turned toward numbers. I had an estimate in mind for the final length of the novel I was working on. I determined the difference I still needed to write. I then looked back and calculated how many words I’d written thus far across all my books and my blog to convince myself that a couple thousand more were easy peasey.

That’s when I discovered that I’d written another book without even realizing it.

“What do a child’s invention, one thoroughly spoiled dog, and the occasional business insight have in common? They all serve as sources of inspiration in this collection of personal reflections on success and the ongoing pursuit of happiness.”

Available for purchase at books2read.com/u/mldweq

Unfortunately, once again writing the book proved to be the easy part. Curating the collection would mean picking favorites from among your darlings, which no parent is excited to do. It meant editing the works so that they actually made sense when strung together instead of acting as standalone reads. It would also mean updating verb tenses and eliminating typos that the gremlins clearly had inserted into posts after I’d originally hit the publish button.

It would require me to read through years of material.

Don’t get me wrong. I love reading. It’s just I’m a different writer now than when I first started — I’ve grown with each project. I’ve learned something new. So while I am proud of my early efforts, I have to admit I cringe a little on the inside when I revisit some, much in the same way that I suspect many people react when they share childhood photos with a new friend they want to impress.

I’m also not a fan of reading the same thing again and again with the sole purpose of finding its errors — especially when I know I am the one who created those errors in the first place. It does a bit of a number on one’s confidence.

In addition, publishing the book after all the edits were complete presented a few other challenges. Unlike my fiction, Metaphorically Speaking is my life, or at least it is a snapshot of my life up until the book’s release date. To say this makes me nervous about its public reception is an understatement.

It would also mean I would have to promote it when I was done, unless my goal was to simply fill in more space on my bookshelf for the benefit of me and me alone. This meant I would have to request reviews and more marketing tasks to my already massive daily to-do list.

As a result, I admit I took advantage of every excuse to procrastinate on Metaphorically Speaking’s completion I could find. Then 2020 happened, and I suddenly found myself with more time at home than I than I knew what to do with.

Metaphorically Speaking Mockup

I get it, universe, I needed to finish this book. You didn’t have to take it out on everyone.

I joke about the reasons for lockdown, otherwise I might cry. It’s a coping mechanism I’ve adopted. I’m also not trying to minimize the suffering that so many have gone through. I recognize I have been exceedingly fortunate or blessed (depending on one’s stance on the subject) during this time to have had the opportunity to spend more time with my children, to have remained in relatively good health, and to have maintained a day-job that allowed me the flexibility to stay at home.

However, I will admit that it was easier some days to recognize this than others.

I have since come to the conclusion, it was a good thing I’d drug my heels putting Metaphorically Speaking together. As it turned out, I needed to revisit those stories from my past during the time of COVID. I’ve built a brand around how to appreciate the everyday, and yet, I found I’d forgotten how to do just that.

Revisiting these stories — as awkwardly phrased, or typo-ridden as they were — helped me find myself again. If it can help even one more person find the silver-linings in their life, or if nothing else a reason to smile during a rough time, then all the edits and promotion will be worth the effort.

For this reason, while it is up for sale on retail sites, I am also celebrating its launch (and maybe, just maybe, the eventual return of normalcy) by giving this book away. All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter to request a copy.

Lies and Legacy is go for launch

I’ve hummed the refrain from It’s My Party by Lesley Gore more than once over the last few days. You see, I had every reason to celebrate this week. After seven years of work and over a quarter-million words, I’d finally added the phrase ‘The End,’ to my science fiction trilogy, Project Gene Assist.

Unfortunately, the universe has a funny sense of humor. My series, which, I repeat, germinated in my brain seven years ago, set before and after a perfect storm of abusive technology, economic collapse, and a mysterious illness. The first book is the events leading up to the panic and societal upheaval, the second and third take place in the aftermath.

It was supposed to be thought-provoking, cautionary, and/or escapism.

It was supposed to be set in the future.

Most importantly, it was supposed to be fiction.

My book’s launch was supposed to include a number of things like:

Lies and Legacy

  • Signed paperback copies: sadly, orders of non-essential products that weren’t currently on the shelves have been delayed by major retail outlets. By all means, please order a paperback if interested—just understand it just might not reach you for a few weeks.
  • Light hors d’oeuvres & finger foods: bread and flour are in short supply around here, but that’s not the worst of all. According to my co-workers, there’s even been a run on dinosaur-shaped frozen chicken nuggets in some places.
  • A full house of close friends: if groups weren’t already limited, my current paper product inventory would have required me to ask guests to bring their own roll of toilet paper as an entrance fee.
  • More than one glass of wine: okay, this is still part of the plan—it’s just now happens to be a major part of the plan and the reason hosting a Facebook live event is unlikely to be the best idea for me this week.

So, yeah, the timing stinks. However, while it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to (but I’ll try not to because there are a lot of people out there suffering more than me), I’m going to launch this book and celebrate its release anyway. In fact, I’m making an even more conscious effort during these times to celebrate all my daily wins—big and small.

Other notable wins:

  • Maybe it’s the quarantine/social-distance enforced cooking or maybe it’s the six months of dedicated meal tracking & step counting using the Noom app (affiliate link) but I’ve officially lost all the weight I put on bringing my non-book babies to life.
  • The local paper interviewed me about life as a reluctant homeschool mom & remote full-time worker (my advice to other parents: let things go—like housework or expectations that your kids will quietly sit in the background looking charming and well-behaved while your world is being filmed for strangers to see) – https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article241329721.html
  • I KNOW what my kids did all day at school instead of just hearing a grunt or ‘I forget,’ when asked, and have been enjoying a lively discussion of Roald Dahl’s The Twits (affiliate link) with my 8yo.
  • My kids actually WANT to go back to school (though tell me they are glad I’ve been home with them).
  • I’ve gotten most of my garden planted

Speaking of gardening, the leaves on the trees are budding, which reminds me that just like winter gives way to spring, this time too will someday become a distant memory. While that day can’t get here soon enough, at least I can take some small comfort knowing I controlled what I could. I did my best. I released a book.

You can order Lies & Legacy or start at the beginning with The Fair & Foul

 

 

How to support an indie author for free – a first experience with the Kindle Scout Program

A way to support #indieauthors for free and an Introduction to #KindleScout - www.alliepottswrites.comThis is the launch week for a young adult science fiction book called Joan the Made written by Kristen Pham. While I always enjoy celebrating my fellow indie author’s bookbirthdays, this one is special as it is the first book I helped bring to market through Amazon’s Kindle Scout Program.

I say that like I put in a lot of work.

For those who aren’t as familiar with the ever mysterious world of independent publishing, the Kindle Scout program is a way for authors to get a little financial and marketing boost from the all mighty Amazon without sacrificing all their creative control or signing away their rights for future works in the worlds they create under the guise of non-compete terms.

As I am still in the midst of rewrite, I have yet to try my hand at gaining access to the program with one of my own books, but that didn’t prevent me from seeing first hand what it can do for others.

Enter Kristen.

A few months ago, around the time I was launching my last book, I discovered she’d uploaded a sample of her latest book as well as it’s cover to Kindle Scout. Now all she needed was nominations. I read through the description:

On Joan Fasces’ eighteenth birthday, she discovers that she is cloned from the famous Joan of Arc. But being cloned in America comes at a steep price. Segregated and oppressed, clones are forced to act as docile servants to the rest of the Evolved population. Joan can either run from her fate and spend the rest of her life in hiding, or she can join a Throwback rebellion populated by clones of the greatest leaders in history.

I was intrigued.

I opened the sample. The first chapter caught my attention. I am a sucker for dystopian young adult, even if I know there is bound to be things like a selection ceremony gone wrong and an angst-laden love triangle. Tropes are tropes for a reason. I saw nothing in those sample pages to make me think this book was unworthy of being considered by the powers that be. (I also happen to know that Kristen has had a short story selected as a top ten submission on Wattpad by Margaret Atwood so it was an easy bet.) I pressed a button – Nominate Me.

That’s it.

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A few weeks later I received an email from Amazon informing me that Joan the Made had been selected for publication. Yay for Kristen! A few weeks after that I received another email from Kindle Scout. They were sending me a free advanced copy of the e-book. Yay for me!

I also saw that I’d been given a Scout Score. 10 points for nominating a book. 10 points for having a book I nominated get selected for publishing. 20 points for redeeming my free book. They weigh these points like redeeming the free stuff is the harder part.

Unfortunately, I did not think to sign up for the program using the email associated with my Amazon account which meant, I would not be able to gain an additional 40 points for reviewing the book. Oh, well. I’ve reviewed it anyway, noting I’d received an advance copy as is proper, but my review doesn’t show the coveted verified purchase tag. The unverified status of my review was one of the exceptions.

I noticed that she’d already amassed close to 30 reviews on the US Amazon site, even one from an Amazon top reviewers, and the book wasn’t even live yet, providing authors aren’t the only ones benefiting from this program. I, on the other hand, am still begging and pleading for reviews months after publication. Clearly, once again, I’m doing things the hard way.

I’m not sure how well it would work for later books in a series, but overall, based on what I have experienced, it is a program I will have to seriously consider when its time for me to branch into something new.

Until then – nominate, read, review, and repeat. It’s free!

You may just make an authors year.


Follow-up note: Within days of posting this I received the following note from Amazon: “April 3rd, Kindle Scout will no longer accept new submissions, and you will no longer be able to start a new Kindle Scout campaign. Once the current campaigns end their voting period, you will have until May 31st to log into your Kindle Scout profile, redeem free copies of your selected nominations, and save any info you may want.”

This is obviously disappointing as it was a neat way for emerging authors to gain additional reviews and exposure. I’ll update this post if and when I hear of any potential replacement for the service.

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.

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle by Geoff Le Pard – A Rambling Review

Supporting Indie Authors #book review
background image courtesy of Unsplash.com
I have two children under the age of ten which apparently means that I have two people who can somehow muster the strength to throw every single pillow or cushion off a bed or couch without breaking a sweat and yet can’t seem to muster the energy required to close the door all the way as they run in and out of the house. If this weren’t special enough, the blasts of air-conditioned air they’ve been so generous to share with the wide wide world have become like a welcoming beacon for all sorts of guests of the insect variety.

Particularly flies. There have been so many flies this year.

I will be sitting at my computer, trying to get a post written for you lovely people when buzzzzzz! I will be dive-bombed in the head by a particularly noisy specimen. It’s really beginning to have an impact on my work. To make matters worse, these flies not only don’t have any respect at all for personal boundaries, I’m even starting to suspect they are purposely trying to thwart my writing attempts. Case in point, one morning, I turned my back a second only to find that one had thrown itself inhto my morning coffee. I told it while dumping the mug out, that ruining my coffee was just being cruel, but I don’t think it cared.

I’ve tried the hunt and swat method. I’ve tried the “GUYS, FOR THE LAST TIME SHUT THE DOOR!” method too. Nothing seems to work. For every fly I remove, another one seems to pop up in its place.

It’s like whack a mole, except the only tickets you gain after playing, are receipts from the groceries you’ve had to buy to replace the food they’ve ruined.

It’s also remarkably hard to achieve a zen way of thinking or discuss a life lesson when flies are around, believe me I’ve tried. I guess that’s why kung fu masters in movies are always trying to ask students to catch them. Speaking of flies, I wanted to share another book I’ve recently read.

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle by Geoff Le Pard

First – if sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll turn you off, this is not the book for you. That’s not my attempt at a reverse psychology sales pitch, but an honest warning. Seriously, pick something else.

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Set in the 1970s in Great Britain, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story much in the vein of movies such as Adventureland, American Pie, or The Way Way back, except set on the other side of the Atlantic.

Nineteen-year-old Harry Spittle has returned home from university, only to be told he is expected to pay rent. He takes the first job he can find as a waiter at a nearby hotel, where he gets to know a wide variety of people including sadistic chefs, small town gangsters, pretty girls, and overly competitive pumpkin growers, but really the story is about him getting to better know himself.

I admit, I didn’t immediately follow the story due to British idioms I didn’t quite understand, but once I was more familiar with the characters’ mannerisms, I found it to be an enjoyable read. Often humorous, the descriptions are particularly well done, straddling that fine line between too little and too much. I was especially amused during the scenes featuring Harry’s mother’s cooking. It almost seemed as if the author might have been pulling from personal experience.

But the downside of any coming of age story is the reminder that eventually we all have to grow up. Just as this book made me reflect upon my first summer jobs it is a reminder that one day my children will no longer be children too. I may no longer have to worry about the door being left ajar or the buzzing of flies they’ve let inside, but I won’t hear the sound of their games, their jokes, or their laughter on a daily basis either.

So as much as the buzzing sound annoys me, if it also means I get to enjoy my kids being kids, I’ll guess I’ll find a way to put up with it a while longer.