Making the Best of the Heat of the Moment

making the best of the heat of the moment - www.alliepottswrites.comDo you ever have those moments … the ones that make you realize everything you’ve done over the past several weeks if not months was preparing you for this one specific day or hour?

I had one of those moments recently.

To properly tell you about it though, I need to go back to this summer. We’d invited another family over and decided after the sun began to set, we’d send the kids upstairs where they could watch a movie while the adults continued to chat downstairs.

I escorted the kids to the top of the stairs where I walked into an invisible wall of sauna-like heat. It quickly became apparent that our heater had taken it upon itself to rise up and rebel against the shackles of its thermostatic-overlord’s imposed peace treaty and instead do battle against its arch-nemesis the air conditioning unit. When I’d walked into the fray, both climatic titans had been doing battle for some time, however, the AC was now in a state of retreat.

We shut the unit off and opened all the windows, hoping beyond hope that the artificially heated air could find its way to the greater outside. It was too much to hope for. The ninety-degree temperatures lasted much of the night, and well into the following morning.

We called an HVAC repairman who let us know that a wire had gone bad. A few moments later the AC was once again running as it should. I thought peace had returned. I was wrong.

Fall decided to cut its time with us short this year, hopping over to winter before the leaves could even finish changing their colors. My husband grumbled and moaned about it but after listening to the children and I complain about the chill he begrudgingly went to turn on the heat. Only the heat didn’t come on.

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How is it already November?

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A day passed. Warmer than the last. Then another day. The chill returned. After a few more days of the atmospheric roller coaster, I asked my husband when he’d scheduled the follow-up appointment with the repair service. I learned he hadn’t. Then it grew colder.

My doorbell rang, sending Her Royal Highness into a frenzy. It was the same technician as the one who’d serviced the unit in the summer (who was deathly afraid of dogs – which of course meant HRH wouldn’t leave him alone). He told me it had to be the thermostat. I questioned that as I’d noted the thermostat wasn’t getting power so thought there had to be another problem.

Then he told me it could be the control board on the furnace or maybe still the wiring. He could fix it, he said, but it would be a two-man job and so he’d have to come back another day – which could be a while as they were rather backed up at the moment with other job orders.

I reluctantly agreed and found a sweater. What other choice did I have?

The downside of working from home is the fact that you don’t have the benefit of escaping to another location when things like this happen. While my kids got to thaw at school during the day and my husband was able to work up a sweat running his business, I, on the other hand, spent the next several days trying to write while I huddled next to an ancient space heater.

The weekend arrived. We’d agreed to go camping with the kids’ scout troop back when we thought we’d still be experiencing a Fall this year. It was in the sixties when we arrived at the site and set up our tent. The sun began to set as the troop built up a fire. The temperature dropped. And dropped. And dropped some more.

It was cold enough to allow me to see my breath inside my tent as I burrowed deeper and deeper into my sleeping bag and still the night grew colder. The temperature inside my home, unpleasant as it was, was nothing compared to this. What had we been thinking, agreeing to go camping in mid-November?

But we survived the night and returned home with memories of s’mores, camp songs, and a new pack of dental floss (an award from a campout game), so it wasn’t all bad.

The house was still chilly when we returned home – but it was far better in comparison to what we’d just “slept” through. The technician came back – this time with help. Unfortunately, even with help, the overall the system was still broken. I soldiered on. After all, I’d been through worse.

That is not to say I gave up and accepted my lot. Instead, we called another service who actually managed to correct the problem, though it cost a little of the extra money I would have rather spent on Christmas gifts. However, ten minutes later, I heard the magical whirl of a fan coming back online as heat descended from the ceiling vent. It was glorious.

When I stood around the campfire that night, I’d joked with the other campers that our heat situation had helped acclimate my body to the cold – as if all the days of shivering by my computer were leading up to this moment. However, the hours that followed, proved me wrong. This story doesn’t end with me being able to grit my teeth and deal with larger adversity thanks to a series of trials leading up to this grand event.

No, instead, what I’ve realized is it’s not enough to deal with and work through unpleasant surprises. You also have to be able to keep yourself from settling for less, when it truly matters, even if that sometimes means starting over. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again, and each time it has gotten a little less scary. And that’s a thought that may just keep me warm for many more days to come. (Though finally having a working HVAC system sure helps too.)

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Happy Anniversary and the Difference a Year or Five Makes

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

Sadly neither of those days is today. However, I did receive a message informing me that yet another year has come and gone since I started down this whole blogging thing. I decided to celebrate by reflecting on my original goals and how life (and what I post about) has changed since then.

Happy Anniversary - what a difference a year or five makes - www.alliepottswrites.com

quotes provided by http://www.brainyquote.com

When I originally started out, my intent was to establish a platform in support of my novel, An Uncertain Faith, which is a women’s fiction / cozy mystery mashup (and its sequel is now officially out as well). As it was my first attempt at publishing a book, I knew I was in no position to proclaim myself an expert on either the writing or publishing process, but at the same time, I didn’t want to come across as someone who was simply winging it without a plan by sharing ALL the things I didn’t know.

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt” – various sources, but often attributed to Mark Twain

In the end, I thought the better strategy was to rule out writing as a focus as many other authors tend to do. However, I still liked the idea of sharing tips or tricks, or weekly takeaways I’d picked up along the way, which, over time, proved to mostly center on the lessons I was learning from my kids. Some were sweet lessons, while others were more akin to the following:

“Never have more children than you have car windows.” – Erma Bombeck

This strategy worked for me, though family anecdotes rarely go viral, and when they do, it is usually for the worst sort of things. Nonetheless, the content itself was easy enough to generate. All I had to do was look out my window or down the hall. My weekly posts became a sort of happiness journal – a reminder of all the things I was grateful for, and all the reasons I had to celebrate.

At some point, without intending it, this blog had stopped being a way to promote my books and my writing to a general audience but instead evolved into a way to promote myself to the internal me. I guess that is the magic of writing. You never really know what the end result will be until you first start trying.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

However, my kids started to grow up. They started to read. Even worse, they started having lives and personalities of their own. Unfortunately, a nagging thought began to take hold in the back of my brain: I’m their mom, and they’re still my kids, but was that really enough to give me the right to share their stories (beyond the basic funny thing they’ve said) with the general public, even if I am doing my best to protect things like their faces or their names?

For a time, I thought so, but now I’m not quite so sure.

“Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.” – Cyril Connolly

And so, I’ve found myself scaling their stories back, though they remain ever at the forefront of my mind. At the same time, I’ve grown older evolved too. I’ve moved on from that earlier version of me, the one who didn’t know how much she needed the weekly written reminders of the small joys as much, if not more than, public acknowledgment of the major accomplishments.

I say this because I was able to keep a promise to myself. I took a risk and made a change. I’m now working full-time in the world of online publishing, which in some ways is completely new for me, but in other ways strangely reminiscent of the world of consumer tech, sales, and project management I left behind. Overall, it has been a positive experience, but if I thought I didn’t know a lot about publishing back then… well let’s just say:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

As a result, I’m continuing to give myself permission to mix things up from the way I’ve done them before. Therefore, while this post may have been prompted by a celebration of my blogging longevity, I’ve decided to relax my self-imposed rules for the balance of the year if not a few weeks longer. It’s not a hiatus per se, as I’m going to still try to post as I am inspired, but if life takes precedence over the written word some weeks, so be it.

However, I am also considering posting on a different day or at a different hour, testing, and refining until I find the combination that works within my new normal. (I may also ask my boys to sign a waiver allowing their mother to post with their permission). Who knows what changes life may bring in the coming year? I sure don’t, and that’s okay. Thus far, not having all the answers has worked out for me far better than I could have ever imagined.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I know this small decision might cause additional ripples of change in my future, however, I’m not worried. Because, while I might love consistency and know too well the benefits of having a set schedule can bring, of all the things I’ve learned over the years, appreciating the value of the small things (both the good and the bad) as much as the big things, is the one lesson this blog has taught me how to do best.

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

The aftermath of the storm. A hurricane story that still remains true

Hurricane Florence Storm Track

note – the track has changed a few times since this image was created, but still…

It’s that time of year once again – time to batten down the hatches. For reasons that I hope are somewhat obvious in the image I’ve attached to this post, I may be slow to respond to comments, but I hope you enjoy the post I wrote about another hurricane experience. While I originally wrote this piece a couple of years ago, I find it even truer today than I did when I first published it.


There is a storm coming, and for once I’m not being metaphorical. It’s an actual blow you down and knock you around kind of storm. The kind of storm that gets named as if humanizing it will somehow make it any less dangerous.

This isn’t my first hurricane. That dubious honor goes to a storm known as Hugo. I was just a kid at the time and barely paid attention to the fuss made about the storm on the news. Why should I? It formed far away and was impacting people I’d never met. Going to school and playing with my friends were much more important.

The hurricane weakened as it came in contact with land. I was even less concerned. I went to bed that night thinking that while there might be a few gusts and a little extra rain, the next day would look much like the day before.

When I woke, I noticed that a neighbor’s tree now lay at an angle, its truck split in two. Branches that once reached out and up, not lay on along the street making it appear more like a person performing a yoga child’s pose than a tree. I saw then exactly what a few gusts could do.

But the storm hadn’t just fallen a couple of old trees. The air felt different, so very still and the sky took on an odd yellow, green, gray color. But the most notable difference was the lack of animal sounds. The storm, seemingly, had taken us all by surprise.

Building wrecked by Hugo

What Hugo’s aftermath looked like down the road in SC

We counted ourselves fortunate that there wasn’t more damage. Neighbors helped neighbors. Some offered use of chainsaws, while others helped remove debris. I started to wonder if the storm might actually prove to be a good thing as a party formed in the street in front of my house and several neighbors rolled out their grills to share food with the masses rather than have it spoil in unpowered fridges. No one wanted the hurricane, but at least we all were making the best of the situation. We’d rebuild. We’d grow stronger because that is what we do.

But the power was out and the power stayed out and soon the lasting impacts of the storm began to take their toll. All told, it took nearly two weeks for the power to be restored in the area. My mom, for reasons she hasn’t shared with us, but I suspect have something to do with finding us playing with lit candles without adult supervision, shipped me and my sisters up north to our Grandparents’ house to wait out the repairs like waifs fleeing from war.

I’ve experienced more storms since, some more memorable than others. Storms going by names like Fran, Floyd, and Bonnie. Names that always sound so sweet and unthreatening. It is easy to downplay their danger. Oh, it’s only a category 1 or 2. That’s not all that bad. It’s just wind and no real substance. These things never impact us. We’ll stay indoors today. Maybe stock up on an extra beer or two. And so we go about our day-to-day confident that we’ll be able to ride this storm out the same as we have a dozen times before.

Hurricane Hugo was considered a category 1 storm when its eye crossed over us. That single category 1 storm, which we nearly all ignored, was responsible for multiple deaths, rendered 50,000 people homeless, created damage costing billions, and was able to set back progress by decades, if only temporarily. Hurricanes should never be ignored. Hurricanes always matter.

Okay. You caught me. There is a metaphor here after all.

Matthew (or in this updated post’s case, Florence) isn’t the only storm on the horizon. Another storm is coming. One that affects those in Kansas as well as the coast. But thankfully, while the ocean-churning winds are imminent, we still have a month left to prepare for the other. So, my American friends, take advantage of this time and take this storm seriously. Understand the potential impacts, on others as well as yourself. Research the local issues and the local candidates as much as the national ones. Stock up on pop-tarts and bottled water if that’s your thing. But whatever you do, don’t stay in your homes and think to wait this one out or go out there unprepared.

Never forget, the eye of a hurricane has two walls. While initial after party might be fun – we survived, can you believe it is finally over, I can finally talk to my family a/o neighbors again – the storm’s impact will last longer than you might expect. Elections always matter. So do your homework. And Vote.

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!