Stay on Board or Tumble into a Wallow? #MondayMotivation #MFRW_author #IAN1

smooth-sailing-imageReturned to earth after annual orbit through the Thanksgiving galaxy. Food leftovers provisioned out to freezer or jury-rigged concoctions, some less savory than others. Guest leftovers packed up for mailing, especially the grandson’s electric toothbrush. Extra table leaves packed up also until next feast day.

Re-entry into my newest project also after two weeks’ hiatus and several hiatuses before that one. Lots of reading in between with the comparison bunny hard at work reminding me how far short I fall. My last post here was titled “Your Brain on Doubt.” We write what we need to read.

Prominent among those reading experiences, because of its potential to inspire me off my duff, On Writing by Stephen King. His basic advice vis-à-vis doubt and the comparison bunny et.al. Sit down every morning and do the work. Two-K words minimum. He actually advises more K’s but offers this fallback, perhaps because he is a compassionate man. Or not.

If he were truly compassionate he wouldn’t rob me of my most righteous rationale. The gods of the health glitch, each a miserable so-and-so, have rendered me pretty much housebound. When asked how my work is going I simply say that word, “housebound,” or maybe “shut-in” with the hardliners. Nobody questions me again. They’re too busy offering condolences.

In response to which Mr. King tells the story of his own home incarceration. Leg encased in a medieval-style torture device. Confined to a back hallway. Sweating out a heatwave record breaker with only a small oscillating fan, as opposed to legions of the life-sized variety, for relief. Meanwhile, he’d written the very book I held in my hands.

In my own meanwhile, I was back in Chapter Six. Amanda and Willow race across the countryside propelled by fear of a phantom biker who may or may not be on their trail. I’d lost enthusiasm for their story right up to the moment that same morning when I took the King’s advice and forged ahead, hampered by homebound-ness or not.

“Keep on writing whatever may occur.” I’d signed my own book with those words many times but I hadn’t really paid attention. The phrase was a PR ploy. The thing I should say to be admired or maybe even loved a little, especially by beginners who give love so generously. That morning, at long last, I followed my own admonition.

Afterward I felt good, maybe even fabulous. I contacted my editor to ask if Amanda and Willow can expect her to jump on board, as she has so effectively in the past. But the most crucial questions are these. Will I stay on board myself? OR Will I tumble off into a wallow, as I’ve too often done? Only time, and the status of my word count, will tell.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE. All of Alice’s books are written while on board rather than wallowing.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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Your Brain on Doubt & What to Do About It #MFRWAuthor #Inspiration

flat-tire-image“I’ve watched you grow smaller,” an observant friend once said to me. “as if you are deflating.”

I was stuck in a period of deep doubt about almost everything. I didn’t know what to do with my life or my work or me. “I’m between things,” I’d say to anyone who appeared to care. Actually, I wasn’t anywhere. My friend was right. I’d deflated and needed desperately to pump up again.

Unfortunately, a deflated spirit lacks not only air to breathe but the will and stamina to refill its lungs in the first place. Doubt had taken those good things from me. I was a flat tire. More to the point, my brain was a flat tire, and flat tires don’t get us anywhere.

We all end up in the hardly-moving lane now and then, and doubt is often the vehicle that takes us there. Especially doubt about ourselves. Doubting seems to be an inevitable consequence of living. The trouble is it can zap the will to live, and the joy of that life, flat out of us.

I’m re-inflated at the moment. The last thing I want is another blowout, or even a slow leak into a bad-year tire again. How did I get from flaccid to full-up? What can I do next time I misplace my air lock valve? Here are five specific remedies for my self-doubt days and yours.

Specific #1. Get out from under the comforter. My comforter is blue, the color of melancholy. I hide there and bring other comforts with me – unhealthy food, binge TV and the occasional bourbon coke with a splash of lime. I must drag my bemoaning behind from under all of that.

Specific #2. Cut the to-do list to size. Nothing lengthens a ride in the doubt mobile as fast as piled-on expectations. What needs to be done feels like being expected to prepare a holiday feast by suppertime. How about toast instead? I think I can manage a slice, maybe even multi-grain.

Specific #3. Create a feel-good list instead. What makes me feel better? What ACTivities? I must stand up, get dressed and move. Yoga on the purple mat I bought myself last Christmas. Or a walk around a block or two without my comforter, like Linus’s blanket, trailing behind.

Progress Report. I’m out of the bedroom (#1). I’ve been to the kitchen where I consumed some multi-grain nutrition (#2) and came up with a feel-better action plan (#3). Time to suit up, but first a stop in front of the bathroom sink.

Specific #4. Stare straight ahead. What do I see? I see the hero in my mirror. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t already survived many comforter-craving moments. I chose the choices and did the work that got me to this place, which makes me the hero of my own life story.

Specific #5. Produce a memory of the hero in the mirror. Deep breathing in a yoga pose or puffing down the street, I recall a time I lifted myself toward where I needed to be. I watch, hear and, most important, feel the moment. “I did that,” I say, because I did. No doubt about it.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Got Stress? Grab a Post It. @AliceOrrBooks #WednesdayMotivation #WritersLife

stress-imageI encounter a lot of exhausted people these days. Once upon a time, I prided myself on not being among them but, as we all know, pride is what we exhibit before a fall. That fall did inevitably happen to me, and since then I’ve learned to admit my Energy Bunny is sometimes a lop-eared, droop-tailed mess.

“What’s the matter with me?” I used to ask, while my stamina trickled away. “You’re not as young as you used to be,” my husband would often respond. This, of course, is hardly the smart thing for a man to say to his wife. If you run into him, feel free to mention that. The fact is, I didn’t feel old. I felt tired, but I didn’t know why.

When well-meaning folks suggested my condition was stress-related, my eyes would roll. “Stress schmess,” I’d say to my pompous-ass self. Until the scales were ripped from my bloodshot eyes and I was forced to recognize stress as a buzz killer on several levels, pressing a dead weight on the psyche and the rest of our faculties too.

This revelation occurred during my maximum (to date) stress experience, the struggle with my now long-gone (I hope) cancer. Let me tell you a small story about that period and one of its many disturbing manifestations of stress. Bouts of spontaneous weeping which, for some reason, often occurred in parking lots.

We were living on Vashon Island in Washington State, a generally peaceful place. I suffered tearful breakdowns in just about every parking area of that tranquil town. In front of the Thriftway supermarket. Next to the library. Outside church. In the gravel space south of the arts center after dropping my granddaughter off for ballet class.

Without warning, I’d begin to sob, though inaudibly. My shoulders might tremble, but other than that and my wet cheeks, you could have walked straight past me and not noticed a thing. “Get a grip,” I’d whisper. “You’re weeping in the Thriftway parking lot.” Meanwhile, my fingers did my bidding and gripped the steering wheel in a stranglehold.

Thus attached to my automobile, I would drive slowly home, reminded of a phrase in the Washington State Drivers’ Manual that cautions against operating a vehicle when emotionally upset. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with calling someone up to say, “I just fell to pieces in the parking lot. Could you please rescue me?”

I’ve held myself back from writing here about this phase of my history. “Why should anybody be subjected to my whining?” I asked. Until I recalled Vanessa Redgrave, a personal icon of mine, speaking of a realization she had while acting in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play adapted from Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir.

“We’re all more traumatized than we think,” Vanessa said. By that measure, my parking lot story is appropriate to share because it could be someone else’s story, too. The specifics may vary. A shadowy corner rather than a parking lot. Dulled-out staring into space instead of weeping. The essence of the episode is the same.

Which means I need to come up with an insight, as posts like this one are supposed to do. Whining will not suffice. I must suggest an approach to the problem, an antidote to the syndrome. I suggest Post-It notes. Here’s what I did with them, or what they did for me, during the most stressed-out and exhausted days of my cancer challenge.

Each morning, on a single two-by-two-inch sticky note, I’d write down something specific I could do that day to feel less undone by my situation. A larger surface would have been unrealistic. In my opinion, four square inches of healing at a time is enough to expect of oneself when traumatized.

Some days I did what I had written down, some days not. Still, I persisted, and my psyche was the better for it. If you suspect that we, yourself included, may all be more shaken up by life than we care to admit, you might want to acquire some sticky notes of your own. They come in cheerful colors these days, even day-glow. Cheerful is good.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

 http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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Vanessa Is Finally FREE! #giveaway #FreeBooks #KindleBargain

AliceOrr_AVillainForVanessa_HRGet your free copy of A Villain for Vanessa. Available for 5 days only – Sept. 29 thru Oct. 3 https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01FFZEZSW …

What Readers Say about A Villain for Vanessa by Alice Orr.  “Tightly written suspense wields tension, shifts and twists that don’t let you look away.”  “I was gripped before I was off the first page. That’s a writers’ big gift at work.”  “The mystery gets tighter and tighter while the romance gets hotter and hotter.”  “Gains power like a train descending a mountain, surprising at each unforeseen turn.”  “After this story, I have become an Alice Orr fan.”  “I’m grateful she’s writing in series.”

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4 – A story of tangled roots and tormented love. Two families are shaken to their roots. Vanessa Westerlo must find her roots. Bobby Rizzo is torn between Vanessa and his true roots. They are all tormented by love, both past and too present. Meanwhile a man has been murdered. And that is the most tormented tangle of all. Alice Orr is known for “Delicious Suspense spiced with Romance.” She does it again in A Villain for Vanessa.

 A Villain for Vanessa features the Kalli family and the fortunate people who find safety and welcome at the Kalli homestead. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series and A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Vacancy at the Inn is Book 3 and introduces the Miller family. Find all of Alice’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E.

RR

I’m grateful for the generous reviews that have greeted A Villain for Vanessa and made me feel even more at home in the world of series writing I love. Diving deeper with each book into the town and families and deadly intrigues that are the core of the series is an adventure for me. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me. I love you all. I hope you will love A Villain for Vanessa too.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

RR

 

Going #Home Again. Can We? Should We? @AliceOrrBooks #RomanticSuspense #MFRWauthor

 

Going Home imageEvery story is a conversation with myself as the author and myself as a person. I usually don’t recognize what that conversation is about until I’m at least halfway through the writing. Sometimes, not until I’ve typed “The End.” After publishing four books in my current series, I discover the conversation for me is often about going home. Or about not going home.

In A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1, I knew early on in the storytelling that Kara’s dilemma has been my own dilemma for decades. Can we go home again? Can we return to the place that birthed us and nurtured us? Or, as is sometimes the case, the place that failed to nurture us. The answer is more difficult when we’ve had a hometown experience like Kara’s, the non-nurturing kind with hurtful memories to go with it.

For Kara the dark memory pits have to do with two things, her family and her past relationships with men. She doesn’t want to fall into either of those pits again. Yet, she can’t seem to stay away from Matt, even though she knows for sure that seeing him again will mean heartache for her. He is like the sore tooth she can’t keep from flicking with her tongue, maybe to make certain the pain is still there. Or, more accurately, to make sure the strong feelings are still there. Isn’t that true of most of us at one time or another?

For example, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from signing up for the high school reunion. We shop long and hard for the perfect outfits to display ourselves at our best advantage. We have our hair styled. We struggle to lose weight. We’ve got unfinished business back there. Battlefields we didn’t conquer the first time around. The mean girls. The bad boys. The warm friendships that went cold. We long to write a more satisfying ending to at least some of those chapters.

In my latest novel, A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4, recognizing the Going Home theme came later rather than sooner, probably because the question isn’t so much, “Can Vanessa go home?” as it is “Why must Vanessa go home?” She left Riverton, the remote North Country town that is the setting for this series, when she was so young she barely recalls the place. She fled across the continent long ago with her mother, who now warns Vanessa about her plan to return.

“Don’t be so sure they’ll want you when you get there,” Mom ominously intones, but Vanessa doesn’t listen.

There are clichés for what she does instead. She makes herself the cat whom curiosity might kill. She tempts a fate unimaginable in her wildest dreams, or nightmares. She wakes a sleeping tiger, and her curious kitty could be outmatched by this jungle cousin. She is told more than once, “There be dragons!” in the hidden territory of the past and monsters in the secret depths of its perilous waters. Still, she risks all, including her heart and her life, because there’s a mysterious man in the mix, plus a murderer.

Wouldn’t you do the same if you had a lost family to find? How many times do we poke at a live electrical socket for the sake of family? Especially the factions of family everything, including our own common sense, warns us to avoid. I confess to a headful of singed follicles and a fistful of scarred fingertips from my own forays. There lies the most powerful lure of home. Family. The family of our blood. The family of our hearts. The family of our wishful yearning. We can’t resist it, not Kara nor Vanessa nor you nor me.

What tangled tales those misadventures weave. Tangled and fascinating. So much so I can’t stop telling them and going home to do it, too. Did I forget to mention I was born and raised in a remote North Country town?

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there too. Enjoy!

Alice Orr –

http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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What About Guest Blogging? Should I Bother? @AliceOrr #blogging #IAN1

Ask Alice image 1I recently completed a month-long blog tour. Fifteen guest blog post stops, designed and scheduled by me. I’d previously decided to give up on guest blogging as an effective and worthwhile marketing technique. I’d done it for the three previous books in my indie published Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series, and I had no evidence of much response.

Then a colleague with lots more marketing experience than I possess threw my own long-time mantra back at me. “Do It Anyway!” she said. What were her top reasons for that advice? Being out there on social media. Possible name recognition and visibility. My recent blog tour has brought another reason even more front and center for me. Guest posting establishes relationships with bloggers.

The prevailing wisdom is that we should research our particular writing niche in search of the bloggers with the largest number of Followers and guest post with them. Which makes a lot of sense, if you’re already at least somewhat established in that publishing niche of yours. If you’re not, the reality is this. Many of those most-followed blogger types aren’t interested in featuring as-yet-unknown or beginning writers.

My response to this reality would be another resounding “Do It Anyway!” Because why? Because the future lies ahead, and we have no idea what it may hold.  For example, on this fourth tour I pretty much accidentally tumbled onto a blog site with 3.5 million followers and a generous host. She not only featured me as a guest author on her blog, she also recommended me to another blogger with a similarly large following.

The result? I’ve received more attention on social media, especially Twitter, for my new book A Villain for Vanessa, than for any of the previous books in the series. Plus I learned things I need to know. Like about Triberr and how it works and what I should do about it. Like about how to vary my posts so that they’re not just an excerpt from the book/the cover art/the story summary/my bio/my photo/my social media links/my buy links. The same old same old format.

Another plus is those relationships I mentioned. Not just relationships with the big-influencer bloggers, but with every blogger who hosted me, no matter what his/her Follower stats might be. Every one of them has done me the huge favor of featuring me and my work on their blog site. Every one of those relationships deserves to be nurtured. I’ve already begun nurturing.

How am I doing that? I follow their blogs. I comment on the posts I find there. I promote these bloggers’ new books across my social media network. I’m even buying those new titles and reviewing them on Amazon and Goodreads. You may think this is a lot of work, but nurturing relationships has always required effort. Consider it an investment in your future.

Taking my first steps on this pay-it-forward-with-mutual-support path has taught me another important lesson as well. I am simply having fun. [This post is adapted from a comment I made recently on the ALLi Blog.]

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.

Alice Orr –

http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/

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The I Can and I Will Path @aliceorrbooks #success #motivation #asmsg

Struggling for Success image“Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” Author Mona Risk asked that question in a post about competitiveness and set my mind moving. She’d inspired me to think about Success. What is Success? How do we measure it in our own lives?

I searched for answers in the motivational talks I used to give. I remember those experiences fondly. Words flew out of my mouth, with a laugh line thrown in every now and then. I confess to possessing a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisit my workshop notes now, I’m not looking for laugh lines. I never wrote those down anyway. They simply emerged.

What I’m doing now is listening for words I’ve spoken before and need to speak again. I’m listening for what I’ve said about success. This is what I hear. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there, and as usual I said it to a group of writers. BUT the advice applies to everybody on every path. The group that day was romance writers like myself. Our stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear. We need to do the same in our real-life stories.

We can’t escape the scary things in life. They are always going to be with us. Just like they are always going to be in our stories. Otherwise, our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see the glass shatter and hear it crash to the ground. Most of all, they want to feel chaos erupt.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We must struggle against fear of the sharp, shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. One way to fight back that fear is to change the way we think about the goals we set for ourselves. We must stop thinking of our goals as far away. We must stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow.

Thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It is the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

Let’s talk about you, specifically, for a moment. You need to see your goal as right here, right now. You need to know what you want to accomplish today and make sure you are being realistic about that goal, not defeating yourself before your start by piling your plate impossibly high.

Next, you must see yourself as progressing toward that goal today. At the end of today, if you don’t think you’ve reached your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not at the same place you were yesterday? Measure that achievement by asking yourself this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could manage to do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to cope with today.

If you can say, “I’ve done what I could as well as I could manage to do it today,” then you have succeeded. If you’ve made even a single step forward, despite the obstacles you faced, you are doubly successful today. Think of each of these days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

This smells like sweet success to me and feels like happiness too. So I say to Mona Risk. “It is definitely possible to be successful AND happy.” Now all I have to do is remember those words myself. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. Oh, rats. I must be human.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

Buy Link – http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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Stars in the Dark – Happy Indie Author Day @aliceorrbooks #MFRW_org #asmsg #IAN1

Celebration image 7I’m late for the July 1st Indie Author Day party because, appropriately enough, I’ve been buried under the details of launching my fourth Indie Author novel. A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4.

These details constitute a righteous high pile. So much so I’m inspired to mash our July 1st Indie Author Day celebration together with today’s national one. When my husband Jonathan and I sit on the roof tonight watching the Annual Macy’s July 4th Fireworks display, I’ll be dedicating a generous number of those glorious bursts to the authors who struggle with me in the Indie trade.

Fireworks remind me of stars in the dark. Bright enough to thrust through the city light-shield into visibility by the human eye. A massive tonnage of incendiary power is required to make that visibility happen. The candlepower of city lights is a formidable foe. Much like the challenge of continuing to toil in the Indie vineyard, however far short of a profitable harvest we may be.

We must burn bright and launch a lofty arc – with our ARCs and all the rest – if we are to have a realistic hope of being noticed amidst the glare of those other Indie authors whose harvest has already arrived and borne fruit.

Speaking for me, I’m a long way short of a vintage year, and occasionally the road to market feels too far to walk. When I allow myself this discouraging thought, my own past pronouncements come back to haunt me from years of workshop presentations. One pronouncement in particular. “Do It Anyway!”

These three words are the mantra fueling me toward every place I go and through everything I do. I passed my mantra forward, from the podium to the people in front of me. “However difficult the the path may prove to be. However heavy your load of doubt. If you possess a Passion for the Pursuit – Do It Anyway!”

I’ve stumbled into yet another do-it-anyway situation as an Indie author. Maybe you have too. How are we to manage the “Do” part of my admonition?

Here’s how. We will urge each other on. And in the urging we’ll find the strength and motivation for our own Doing. We’ll email one another and Facebook one another and Tweet like the birds holding forth outside my city window now. We’ll recollect that we still own telephones and call one another too. Most important, we will share what we learn.

United – we will stand and press forward, one step then the next. Divided – well, we won’t talk about that because we don’t intend to let it happen. Instead, we will celebrate one another and christen this Indie Author Month. Because a single day is not enough.

On our own – we may feel like stars in the darkness. Together – we are a blinding beautiful light.

Alice Orr – Website. http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/.

Alice’s Amazon Author Page. http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/. Facebook.   http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/. Twitter. http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/. Goodreads. http://goodreads.com/aliceorr/. Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/aliceorrwriter/ 

RR

A Villain for Vanessa and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.

 

How to Make Giveaways the Best Fun Ever

Coconut Body LotionQuestion: Can you tell us what it’s like to run a non-book giveaway?

Answer: It’s great. I’m in the middle of my second one now.

The first was a replica of the coffee mug sitting next to me this morning. Brown letters on ivory ceramic spell out, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” The mug was given to me by my grandchildren so it is precious and personal. The words are precious and personal too. I smile each time I read them.

This time, I wanted a gift from my new story A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. There’s emphasis on a jacket, but I can’t afford several of those. How about the lighthouse? If somebody sent me a miniature lighthouse I’d think, “One more trinket to dust,” and take it to the neighborhood thrift store that benefits at-risk children.

Back when I was publishing Harlequin Intrigue novels, I had a perfect solution for the giveaway dilemma. I’d embed an item in the story, and give away a replica of it at book signings after publication. My last Intrigue plot is a good example.

Dear Santa’s hero and heroine Vic and Katherine try to save two very at-risk children, Coyote and Sprite, from serious danger during the holiday season. In a poignant yuletide scene, Sprite hangs a sparkling glass angel ornament on an evergreen tree.

I don’t remember how many crystal angels I ordered, but they were everywhere in our house. Plus spools of red ribbon printed with the title and small, clear bags covered in snowflake images. We sat on the floor. My husband Jonathan bagged the angels. I tied ribbons.

I led lots of writing workshops back then. I trundled those packets with me each time, for the book signings after my presentation. More than once, an airport security person stared askance at the x-ray machine. “Angels,” I would say, and they’d let me through.

More recently, I was wishing I’d included Vanessa’s version of a crystal angel in her story, when a solution occurred to me. Much of the book happens at a spa. I’d give away something associated with that setting. That was when the real fun began. Shopping!

I spent happy hours online playing with possibilities. Everything from way-to-pricey items to way-too-chintzy ones. All the while I was circling, more or less deliberately, toward the ideal destination for me. Things that make you smell good and feel better.

I settled on Oahu Coconut Sunset Shea and Vitamin E Body Lotion from Bath and Body Works, a great match for my spa fantasy.

I placed the order, smiling almost as wide as I do when I read my grandkids’ mug. I love giving presents. Don’t you? Soon I’ll be giving presents to contest winners. I can hardly wait for the July 11th drawing. That will be the best fun of all.

 Alice Orrhttp://www.aliceorrbooks.com http://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter https://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks 

RR

Email “I’ll meet you at the spa,” to aliceorrbooks@gmail.com to be entered in the Spa Lotion Giveaway Contest.  A Villain for Vanessa and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and most other online book retailers at their websites.

 

Eight Years Cancer Free Today

Cancer Survivor imageThis visual says it all. The truth about being a cancer survivor. Breast cancer in my case and that of too many women. Women I love. Some are still here with us – with me. Some are not. I miss them. I weep for them. I celebrate their struggle.

We fought a giant though I prefer to call him a monster. A giant is sometimes benign. A monster is not. While I was in the maw of that monster a good friend of mine told me to personify him. My friend was a cartoonist so he’d made a strip of his monster. I’m a writer so I blogged about mine.

My friend was Rick Tuel. Rick is no longer with us – with me. I miss him. I weep for him. I celebrate his struggle. I embrace his wife Mary and rejoice she’s still here to embrace. She’s a survivor of another kind. A caretaker survivor. My husband Jonathan Orr is one of those too. They are everything to us – the diagnosed ones. I salute the caretaker survivors.

We were stronger because we had to be. Annie O’Flaherty was strong of heart because she knew how to love. She knew how to love me. She sent me a picture of an angel descending. The angel did descend and took Annie away. Annie is no longer with us – with me. I miss her. I weep for her. I celebrate her struggle. I embrace her caretaker survivor Jan Phillips and salute her too.

We were happier because we’d learned what matters. Susan Sullivan always knew what mattered and pursued those things of value with determination and vigor. I marveled at her stamina and at the lovely pieces she created for my writing workshop and read with courage there. Susan is no longer with us – with me. I miss her. I weep for her. I celebrate her struggle. Her caretaker survivor was her husband Pat Sullivan. I celebrate him too.

My brother Michael stood tall with a slight dip to one shoulder where he’d carried a heavy bag of newspapers to deliver when he was young. He stood tallest of all on many stages playing many roles and singing many songs always doing both so beautifully I could barely breathe watching him. Michael is no longer with us – with me. I miss him. I weep for him. I celebrate his struggle. He has many caretaker survivors. My son Ed Vesneske jr. is one of them. I embrace him in my heart every day.

I mark my eight-year survivor anniversary by celebrating these heroes and many more. I hope to follow their examples of battling bravely and staying strong and minding what matters and standing tall. Too often I don’t manage all of that. Occasionally I don’t manage any of it. But I manage some of it just about enough of the time to be worthy of my survival.

The problem is that they were worthy of survival too. Rick and Annie and Susan and Michael and legions of others. But they are no longer with us. We miss them. We weep for them. We celebrate their struggle. We vow to be caretakers of their memory. To emulate their example of grace and fortitude and to honor their lives by defeating the monster that took those lives too soon.

Alice Orrhttp://www.aliceorrbooks.com http://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter http://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks