Plan a Blog Tour – My Five Tries to Learn How

Plan a blog tour? For way too long, I had no idea I was supposed to do such a thing, or what it might be. I stumbled upon the yahoo self-publish group and began lurking there. I was amazed and grateful for how much information writers share with each other. As a writer of small town romantic suspense, this site was an internship on my laptop, especially the internship in book marketing I desperately needed.

Still, nobody said, “Plan a blog tour,” in those particular words. I did find out about guest blogpost spots and that I needed to acquire some, which brought up a scary question. Why would anyone want me on their blog? Nobody knew who I was. I hadn’t written a novel in sixteen years, and this was the first book in my first series. The Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series. By now, I know I should tell you the title.

Back then, all I knew was that I could barely find the nerve to ask for posting spots. I was nowhere near the Plan a Blog Tour stage. I’d still never heard those words, but I was aware of how to say “Please.” I did a lot of that until, lo and behold, I had seven appointments with guest post destiny. Too bad I had almost no clue what to post.

On my own blog, I mostly scavenged my many years as a workshop leader for material on how to write novels and get them published. I might have done more of the same in my new guest role if a kindly author I met at a conference hadn’t taken pity on me and said, “You want readers to get to know you and your work.” I responded with something like, “Exactly,” so I wouldn’t come across as a total airhead. What I really wanted to do was kiss the pointy toes of her chic pumps in gratitude, but she’d already disappeared, probably in search of more savvy company.

Meanwhile, in her well-shod wake she’d left a valuable suggestion. I should write about my work, which I took very literally to mean my work process. “I can do that,” I told myself, then set out to write posts about how I wrote. My favorite result was “The Struggle to Escape Chapter Twenty-Nine,” which appeared on Elizabeth Meyette’s blog.

The title basically tells the tale. I was quite far along into the book, and I got stuck. I can be funny, so I peppered the post with humorous bits, but I came closest to what I now consider the Plan a Blog Tour lynchpin when I brought my hero into the post. His name was Matt Kalli, and he said, directly to me, “You have to make something happen here.”

I understood he was referring to Chapter Twenty-Nine of his story, A Wrong Way Home. I didn’t hear him also prodding me to make something happen in Plan a Blog Tour terms. Consequently, with Book 2, A Year of Summer Shadows, I continued to wander pretty much clue-free through the blogosphere. Until Maria Ferrer, a publishing maven who always steers me right, gave me some good guidance by getting me to post an actual excerpt from my book on her blog.

Unfortunately, Maria’s sage advice was forgotten by Book 3. A Vacancy at the Inn is a Christmas story, and Christmas is a heartwarming time. Therefore, I wrote heartwarming guest post recollections from my personal life, about my brother Michael making holiday gifts from found fragments, me discovering Grandma’s recipe for Dandelion Wine, and so on. Barbara White Daille’s blog featured “The Best New Year’s Ever,” about a triumphal moment in my breast cancer journey, but I wasn’t yet traveling the Plan a Blog Tour trail.

Finally, in the middle of guest posting for Book 4, A Villain for Vanessa, I was taught the most powerful Plan a Blog Tour lesson of all. “It’s about the book, stupid.” Kayelle Allen, the amazing founder of MFRW (Marketing for Romance Writers), is too gracious to use such harsh words, but her Romance Lives Forever blog made the truth vividly clear, even to dim-bulb me.

A survey of her site taught me how to Plan a Blog Tour by showing me the essence of what to post at every stop on my itinerary. Interviews about the book. Blurbs for the book. Anecdotes featuring the book. And excerpt, excerpts, excerpts from the book, which were the huge clue I should have retained from Maria Ferrer’s guidance two books ago. At last, my best writer brain was listening, and at longer last, I heard.

The blog tour now happening for Book 5, A Time of Fear & Loving – eleven guest posts from October 16th through 26th – is all about the book. Each post is an excerpt from the story with a provocative, attention-grabbing introduction. I am spotlighting each post across social media, like here on Facebook. Stop by and check out the evidence that, with a lot of help from my author friends, I have now learned how to Plan a Blog Tour.   Alice Orr –

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After blog touring, take the thrill ride that is Alice’s latest story, A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.


The Best Story Idea – Dig Deep – Wait for It

Redge and Alice at Home

A best story idea. In my opinion, this is one of those. It’s about two grandkids, an incontinent dog and how I took the path of most resistance. But first, I must own up to something. I’m not a dog person, which could explain why we had three cats and no dog until 3:15 p.m. one December Saturday. The two grandkids began a ten-day stay with us on that date, and ten days with an eight and three-year-old to amuse can be a challenge, which would explain the dog decision, if it hadn’t already been made several weeks before.

Our granddaughter, the eight-year-old, really wanted a dog and reminded us of this regularly, with dog stories, dog stickers, dog drawings and plenty of dog talk. But, what sent her message straight to my heart was Halloween. After several seasons of princess looks, this year she’d insisted on a brown puppy costume with white spots. Right then, I knew we had to get a dog. Three-year-old brother agreed, though he’d have preferred a dinosaur, and that was the source of this Best Story Idea. Meanwhile, I silenced my personal doubts by asking, “How much trouble can a puppy be?”

We set off for PAWS with small pooch intentions and a pet carrier and collar to match. I’d convinced myself all would be well, until the pooch with the most kid appeal turned out to be something other than a small puppy. He was a large, reddish-brown, part-husky mix titled Taylor and, as it happened, the perfect centerpiece for a Best Story Idea . He needed a home, and the grandchildren wanted to give him one. Plus, the trip to the shelter, combined with the pet selection process, had been long and arduous, and, frankly, I was tired. So, I agreed, though I suspected this was not my own Best Story Idea ever.

We put Taylor on hold while we hurried off to buy a dog crate larger than some apartments I’ve lived in. On the way, our granddaughter came up with Redge as a more fitting name. Taylor sounded too aristocratic for a lop-eared, cross-eyed animal of lumbering dimensions. Exactly how lumbering? I tried to measure him once, but Redge thought we were playing Capture the Tape Measure, along with the measurer’s hand. You’ll have to take my word he was a very large dog. You will also have to take my word that he gradually lumbered into my heart.

There are loads of Redge-experience anecdotes, most Best Story Idea material, many having to do with the fact that being cross-eyed caused him to see anything approaching him as an attacker.He lunged a lot, frightened people a lot, including the grandkids, and, when we tried tethering him for a brief moment of peace, he dragged our sizable dining table across the room. The leading dog trainer in the area finally threw up her hands and said, “Maybe you could find him a home in the country.” Eventually we were forced to take her advice.

That should have been the end of this particular Best Story Idea, except I had some self-examining to do. Why had I brought a dog bred to be a natural chaser into a house with three cats? Why had I taken the path of most resistance to adult common sense and good judgment? The truth was I knew the answer to all my Redge dilemma questions. Back on dog-search day, I’d been impatient and tired and eager to be done with the entire scene, so I latched onto the first choice instead of holding out for a better one.

As writers, we too often do the same when we don’t wait for the Best Story Idea. We latch onto the first word or phrase that comes to mind, or the first character quirk, or the first action gambit. We don’t push ourselves deeper into our imaginations in search of the word that most vividly expresses what we need to say, or the character detail that is less a quirk than a revealing motivation, or the plot turn that grows organically from what has already happened but is nonetheless unexpected.

We don’t wait long enough, or think clearly enough, or exercise our brains hard enough. The resulting scenario lumbers across the page, destroys the furniture it should have polished to a patina and, worst of all, disappoints the readers we were supposed to delight and enthrall with our Best Story Idea ever.

Why not write right past our first, most easily available choices to the better ones lurking further down? Then press on even deeper to the best we have in us, the phrase or detail or event that makes a story come alive and dance into our readers’ hearts, without a hint of lumber in its pace along the path toward an extraordinary read. Which is what occurs when we work hard and wait as long as it takes for the Best Story Idea to appear.

As for my previous reference to incontinence, at the same years-ago moment I was writing the first version of this cautionary tale, Redge was peeing on my kitchen floor. I like to think he was puddling me another Best Story Idea.

Alice Orr –

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Alice writes romantic suspense novels. Check out her storytelling choices in her latest book A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.


The Strawberry Cookie Jar – A Riverton Road Story

The strawberry cookie jar probably wouldn’t have merited a second look from Amanda if she’d been her normal self that day.

“What will you use it for?” William asked.

They’d always been close and shared just about every confidence, so he understood how troubled she was. Her unusual preoccupation with the ceramic strawberry was added evidence of that.

“A cookie jar maybe,” Amanda answered without much conviction.

William lifted the lid of the foot high, fruit-shaped container, which was bright red and dimpled like its real-life counterpart. A cap of ceramic leaves, resembling a section of vine stem, formed the green curlicue handle.

“The top doesn’t fit tight enough,” he said, pushing Amanda’s strawberry cookie jar precariously close to the edge of the makeshift yard sale table. “The cookies will go stale.”

She didn’t reply. He was starting to annoy her. All she wanted was to clutch this comforting object to her bosom where she’d experienced too little comfort lately. She was fast becoming a listless shell of her customary self, and William had been sensitive to that. He’d mixed delicious apricot sours for her at cocktail hour and taken on some of the more tedious tasks of being the husband and wife chef team at Miller’s Inn on Riverton Road Hill. So why couldn’t he also let her cling to this ceramic strawberry cookie jar in peace?

As far as anyone could tell, William and Amanda had passed the seven-years-married itchy period with hardly a blip on the bliss meter. She’d relaxed then, which may have been a mistake because, almost out of nowhere, a renegade thought had begun to plague her, the thought that maybe they should try living apart. She’d been taken completely by surprise. She’d also assumed they would muddle their way through whatever this might be.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t been able to ward off a growing tendency to snipe and bicker, until she feared her nastiness might reach critical mass and she’d collapse in a cloud of self-disgust, like those high-rise buildings they detonate from within to implode straight down onto their own foundations. There were also moments, like a sunny yard sale morning, when her characteristic common sense was replaced by what appeared to be a random obsession, this time a strawberry cookie jar.

“It’s occurred to me that, if I want to hold onto you, I should go along with whatever you want.”

Amanda was so shocked by William’s words she almost dropped her precious, though actually kind of homely ceramic find. He’d always been a feisty guy, making his own rules and sticking to them. They’d gotten along so well partly because her rules were generally in tune with his. Yet, here he was, standing next to a table cobbled together from splintered two-by-fours covered up by a faded tablecloth, talking about capitulation.

What he had said echoed in the rhythm of the car wheels along the high-crowned North Country road all the way home. “Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy, bump. Go along with what she wants.” When she faced William that evening in the narrow living room of their apartment at the Inn, she was still hearing that rhythm and those words.

“What do you think I want?” she asked.

“The way I see it, you should be asking what I think you need.”

Amanda was stunned by his reaction, or lack of reaction, at least in the flatness of his tone. She was even more stunned by having no answer to offer concerning either her wants or her needs, so she waited for him to provide it, like she expected he would.

“You need to get away from this place,” he said, right on cue.

A heated argument followed, with angry accusations and layering on of guilt, like too many married couple arguments. Amanda might have taken her own cue from what William had said that morning and simply gone along with what he said, but she didn’t. The next day, she awoke regretting this and immediately began formulating an apology. Unfortunately, William had already left, and she would never see him alive again.

Meanwhile, the strawberry cookie jar languished in a storage shed for several years until Amanda rediscovered it among dusty packing boxes, red dimples dingy from long neglect, still probably incapable of keeping cookies fresh. She clutched it to her anyway, as she had all those years ago, while feelings from that time flooded back sharp and poignant as a needle behind the eyes, bringing with them William’s words.

“You should be asking what you need.” Maybe she was now ready to search for that answer at last.

Alice Orr –

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Read Amanda’s present-day story in Alice’s new novel, A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Buy it HERE. Buy all of Alice’s books HERE.