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/

http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/

http://goodreads.com/aliceorr/

http://pinterest.com/aliceorrwriter/

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/

Facebook Page – http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/

Twitter Page – http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/

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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 

Lavish Advance Readers with Love

Spread the Love imageFrom the beginning there have been friends of this writing obsession of mine. Generous souls who gave affection to my possibly foolhardy choice to launch yet another career. I’d edited books and agented authors and led workshops on writing and publishing. Now – after a sixteen year hiatus from writing fiction – I was becoming a novelist again.

“Good for you Alice” those kind friends said.

I also decided to step away from the traditional system that had produced my early novels and given me a successful agenting career. I’d heard about Independent Publishing – or self-publishing in its less hip description. I liked the sound of it either way. Most of all I liked the sound of challenge.

“You go girl” my same friends repeated with some new voices joining them.

The problem was I had no idea how to accomplish any of it. Not a clue how to navigate this entirely new territory. Still the encouraging voices accompanied my stumbling. In fact they not only encouraged – they advised too.

“Do this” or “You might want to consider not doing that.”

I heard and continued struggling until eventually I had a book. The first in a series no less. I called it A Wrong Way Home. The general wisdom was that one or two-word titles performed best algorithm-wise. But I liked the lilt of my longer phrases and stuck with them through book two A Year of Summer Shadows and book three A Vacancy at the Inn. Now number four A Villain for Vanessa waits in the wings.

Amidst the stumbles and struggles I needed readers who would review and post those reviews – first and foremost on almighty Amazon. I turned to my steadfast encouraging friends. Where else did I have to go? A beloved cadre responded. They used their precious time and energy – already in great demand – on my stories which they mostly claimed to enjoy.

“Keep it up Alice” they said. “I’m waiting for the next one.”

Meanwhile I discovered my weaknesses and worked on them. I prayed for my strengths to stay strong. I floundered – barely afloat – in the marketing ocean while my supporters held me above the waves. Those lifesavers are my Advance Readers now. They see the book – usually before its final polish. Their comments guide that process.

“Scrub off this rough spot here. Pay attention to that sloppy writing habit there.”

I hear and listen to their voices. I feel them with me. They are my light. I may appear to give them only an autographed copy in return. But actually they have my heart.

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

RR

A Wrong Way HomeRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. A Villain for Vanessa and my other books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

 

Family Stories and Colliding Memories

Collision imageI’m fascinated by the patchwork we as family members create with our family memories. An incident occurs in our shared past. An important even traumatic incident. The details sear our consciousness. Yet when we compare notes we discover those details differ from one of us to the other. From one family member to the other.

Sometimes the discrepancy is good natured like it could be with my brother and me. We’d debate and tease each other. Maybe even accuse each other of fabrication in the same teasing manner. But that was only with the not-so-touchy bits. Nostalgia rather than gut wrenching. The dreadful stories were just that – worthy of dread – so we mostly didn’t mention them.

We tiptoed around those narratives because they were quicksand. One wrong step and we could be sucked down with no hope of rescue. Rescue from what? Rescue from the collision of my version of reality and his and from the powerful confrontation that might erupt. We had mutually and silently agreed to avoid such battles and generally we did.

Consequently my brother left this earth with all but a few of our most potent shared experiences unspoken. Otherwise the relationship might not have survived as long as it did. Would I have preferred an open field of exchange? Yes of course. Nonetheless I chose silence and dissembling over openness and its fearsome revelatory glare.

Maybe my regret of that sin of omission is the reason colliding stories flow like a brackish river through so much of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series. In the first story A Wrong Way Home Hailey and Julia spend their early years as close friends before being separated for a long and painful time. Their stories of that separation and its origin vary dramatically.

Julia’s mother Virginia’s memories diverge even further as do those of Hailey’s mother Annemarie. What these recollections have in common is their mine field potential to blast both families – their past as well as their present – to kingdom come. And they do. A Wrong Way Home begins with a murder after all and wades through a quagmire of secrets afterwards.

Book 4 – A Villain for Vanessa is rife with the raw material for more combustible collisions. Between Vanessa and her mother Amelia. Between Amelia and her sister Angela Kalli. Among just about everyone involved with the Westerlo side of Vanessa’s family. The explosive tonnage is terrifying. Nobody would want to be in the midst of this family when it implodes.

This is fertile ground for storytelling. But it’s toxic territory in real life. Think about it. Who in your family do you tiptoe around for fear of a collision of your differing truths? What conflagrations have you barely survived when one of those toes slipped into the memory mine field? My advice. When you tell those stories – swear to heaven they are fiction.

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

RR

A Wrong Way HomeRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. A Villain for Vanessa and my other books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

 

Character is Everything in Storytelling – My Greatest Heroine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfWe create many heroines in many stories. I believe our most powerful heroines re-create pieces of powerful women we have known. The quintessential powerful woman in my life was my maternal grandmother. Whenever I write a strong woman – as I do every time I write a woman as hero – Grandma is part of her in one aspect or another.

In the novel I am about to publish – A Villain for Vanessa – the heroine travels a long way into the unknown to find what she hopes will be a better life. Grandma did that in the late 1890’s. The exact year differs in different research sources. As with many family stories there is disagreement on the details. Debate runs rampant regarding the why or how or what.

What isn’t disputed in the case of Grandma’s migration is that she traveled alone. She was a small town girl of eighteen or nineteen or maybe twenty depending on which source I credit. She sailed from England in what I imagine was the lowest class of passage and entered this very new world for her by way of Canada.

My best guess from the bits and pieces of fact I’ve found is that her expenses were paid by a family with several children. They were bringing her to what would one day be my hometown in the remote northern region of New York State. The same region where my newest novel and the three before it are set in a fictitious town named Riverton.

The family that bought Grandma’s steamship ticket was previously unknown to her. So was the climate where she would live. I imagine her caring for the children of strangers through the shock of her first frigid North Country winter. I remember her incredible garden when I was a girl and wonder if she was recreating the warm springtime English gardens of her own girlhood.

I’ve studied the customs and fashions of the specific time period when she migrated. I picture her in a white shirtwaist and dark skirt and of course a hat being greeted by people she’d never laid eyes on before. No relatives or friends had preceded her to America. She was on her own. That took courage. It was a wonderfully brave act – the behavior of a heroine.

My Uncle John had a picture on his wall of Grandma at that young age. Her hair was pulled up in a kind of Gibson Girl poof with a bow in back. But it was her eyes that captured me. They were young and most likely blue. Her skin was pale and most likely blushing. Grandma was beautiful. I wish I’d inherited that picture. I carry it in my head and heart instead.

Above all I carry in my head and heart the gentle smile in that picture. The same smile I would bask in decades later when she taught me which flowers to harvest from her amazing garden and exactly where to cut each stem. Nowadays I bask in her more aged smile gazing down at me from another picture on my wall in this room where I write.

She did her best to instill in me the courage it took to put her button-shoed foot on that lonely ship from Plymouth. The example of her courage carries me through challenge and heartbreak and triumph too. I in turn instill that courage in the strong women I write. There is something of Grandma in each of them. Not only her bravery but her loving heart too.

That’s why my heroines are so dear to me. I believe character is everything when it comes to storytelling. Everything good in my life began with Grandma – including the strong women who grace my stories. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. The photo here is of Alice Jane and me Alice Elizabeth at two and a half already modeling my model heroine.

 

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

RR

A Villain for VanessaRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. Official launch June 17 – will be available here. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE eBook at the same site and most other online book retailers.

Managing Indie Author Expectations

Baby typing imageDaredevil folks say “Danger is my middle name.” My motto is more like “Worry is my middle name. My most recent worry obsession has been what I perceive as my lack of Indie Pub progress.

I work hard at writing my novels and publishing them from my Alice Orr Books company. I have an excellent productivity ethic. My self-discipline standards are high. So why am I not speeding along toward the top of the heap the way I did in previous professional endeavors?

In my past incarnation as a literary agent I employed the same principles I follow now. I figured out exactly what needed to be done and did those things as absolutely right as I possibly could. Which worked like gangbusters on that other work life road. Now – as an independent publisher of my own books – not so much.

I whined about this to another indie author recently. She’s on the gangbusters track for sure. It is true she has a strong background in professional marketing. But I have a strong background in business. Shouldn’t that even us out? Apparently not. “How long have you been doing this?” was her first question.

“I published my first indie novel a year and three months ago.” I’d begun to detect her drift as I said that. I didn’t ask the length of her indie history. I knew she’d been at it for years.

“You’re a baby at this game.” I heard the truth of those words at once and all of a sudden my perspective shifted.

I’m well aware there was a golden opportunity window during which many indie authors were able to grab the brass ring and be pulled to mega sales territory. That was several years ago within about the same timeframe when my wise friend launched her indie career.

I’m also well aware of the deniers who speak out against what they label as negative thinking. “It’s still a wonderful time to indie pub.” They declare this repeatedly and they are right. But they leave out the caveat. That it is not and most likely will never again be those olden golden nearly instant mega sales days.

Here’s the rest of that caveat. It is still a great time to publish our books independently. BUT it will take longer to see positive sales results than in the golden years. AND we will have to work like hell to get there. In other words we’ll have to #1. Figure out exactly what needs to be done. #2. Do those things as absolutely right as we possibly can.

May I add #3? We must perform those essential activities not only as correctly as we can but also for as long as is needed to get us where we want to go. This is the aspect of realistic expectations we have to contemplate thoroughly before deciding whether or not the indie path is for us. Do we possess the wherewithal to keep on jogging for a long run?

I’m hoping I do. I intend to try anyway. I will also take a chew toy along for the tough teething times on this steep learning curve ascent. Meanwhile worrying is premature because I’m just a baby in this indie basket. How about you?

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

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A Villain for VanessaRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. Official launch June 17 – is already available here. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE eBook at the same site and most other online book retailers.