Monthly Archives: December 2015

Writers’ Resolution Number One

Idea LampThis is a picture of what I call my Idea Lamp. Things I most need to remind myself about my work are taped and pinned and clamped to the shade and even to the shaft.

The boldest print is allotted to the reminder I need most of all. Though sticky notes encroach nonetheless. “SPEND MORE TIME WRITING” it reads in solid caps and purple Sharpie ink underlined five times.

Those words require that much force of emphasis for me. Especially right now for two reasons. The first is obvious. “At this time of the rolling year…” Charles Dickens would begin. I continue “… I catapult myself into everything BUT writing.

I tell myself I’m doing it for family or for the sake of the season and its spirit or simply because I enjoy the leap. All of these are true but they don’t tell the entire tale or warble more than a few verses of the entire carol.

I’m on vacation to be sure. Vacation from what? Vacation from the problems that writing never fails to impose. Those problems are the second reason I need a resolution with the power of a well-aimed boot behind it to catapult me back to SPENDING MORE TIME WRITING.

My current challenges involve the in-progress fourth novel in my ongoing series. The new story is titled A Villain for Vanessa and it poses special problems. As special as your problems with your current project whatever it may be.

These are the boulders that make up my particular roadblock. We each have our own boulders and our own roadblocks. You and I and everyone else who has ever written down words we hope will be read – from Bob Cratchit’s pen nib to now.

We each have a story of what our individual boulders may be and how formidably they’ve been stacked in our personal path. The common element among us is that all of our boulder blockades are cemented together by doubt.

We doubt that we know what to do or how to do it or even if we can do it at all. Doubt is a killer disease and for us there is only one cure. SPEND MORE TIME WRITING. Write up one boulder and over the next and through the fissures between when we find them.

Write so furiously forward the doubts can’t overtake us – and when they inevitably do – write straight past them and beyond.

Meanwhile keep your Idea Lamp burning bright at this and every other time of the rolling year. I resolve to do the same. Happy New 2016.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn is Alice’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 3 – A Holiday Season Novella. Just 95 cents. The Best New Year’s Bargain Ever at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.

 

A Greeting on the Eve

Christmas in Astoria - 2016Dear Friends.:

Tomorrow is Christ’s birthday. The day after is mine. Talk about going from the sublime to the far less so. All the same today I’m feeling grateful for the grace and kindness that have carried me through this past sometimes challenging year to my present moment of comfort and contentment.

We remain in our New York City home. This is our city apartment tree. Tall and narrow to nestle in a corner and double its light effects in the window. The branches are crowded with ornaments handmade by our grandchildren. You can read more about them at Homemade Ornaments

Jonathan continues to work as Project Manager of our contracting company – a career demanding field that keeps him always alert and growing. More about that at Orr & Orr Contracting Facebook Page which I really need to update once in a while.

I continue to write with two novels and a novella published this past year. Many generous hands and hearts opened to me along the fascinating road of this new adventure. I cherish the warmth of those well wishes and shall never forget them.

Our family remains our abiding joy. Daughter Kathleen and son in law Luis live only five blocks from us and that is most gratifying. Son Ed and daughter in law Deborah and our amazing grandchildren Maya and Julian continue to live in Brookline MA just a ride over the Massachusetts Turnpike or Amtrak’s Northeast Regional line. We see them all often but of course never as often as we’d like.

Our friends are a beloved sustenance. Though we do need to work a little harder to keep those bonds close and caring instead of letting perpetual busyness take precedence. That sounds like a New Year’s Resolution to me. Meanwhile we create delightful fresh connections wherever we go. Especially among our newly discovered church family at Church of the Redeemer in Astoria .

A lovely woman who has been very supportive of me this past year sent me a birthday card. What she wrote inside touched me with the perfection of its sentiments. I hope she won’t mind me sharing them with you. May your next trip around the sun be filled with everything you need and the best of what you want. Enjoy the ride!

Love and Blessings. Alice – December 24, 2015

Ways to Stay in Touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Alice’s Email Address – aliceorrbooks@gmail.com

Website – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter

Twitter – www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

 

The Best Pageant Ever

Christmas Pageant imageWhen I was growing up the church Christmas pageant was a serious event. There were auditions – musical auditions – and even though I sang in the choir and thought I had a lovely voice I never made the cut.

There were rehearsals too. Lots of them as I recall stretching through Advent month with anticipation rising as the weeks passed. The strange thing is I don’t remember a single one of those most likely impressive performances.

Decades later – way past my Northern New York girlhood – my husband Jonathan and I moved to an island in Puget Sound a twenty-minute ferry ride from Seattle. Many things were different in our new home place. Including the Christmas pageant at our small island church.

First of all nobody said anything about auditions. A pageant was listed among the planned holiday events. I waited for an audition schedule to be listed as well but none appeared. I hadn’t even told Jonathan of my intention to try out but eventually I had ask somebody.

“We don’t audition. Everyone participates.”

I had no idea what that answer meant but I didn’t want to appear too eager so I kept quiet on the subject until Christmas Eve. The pageant was at seven in the evening because that was a better time for the children of the parish than the later service near midnight.

Jonathan may have thought midnight was the more adult choice but he’d detected my eagerness as he often detects my secrets. At my insistence we arrived early with home-baked cookies in hand as suggested.

“Are you an angel or a shepherd?”

The question was so unexpected I answered without thinking.

“An angel of course.”

I’d intended that as a rather nervous joke. It was honored all the same and soon a pair of wings was pinned to my back and a halo of silver tinsel garland circled my head.

“This will tell you what to do.”

My dresser thrust the bulletin that was our script into my hand. The line of people behind me was pressing forward so I moved on without asking more. Meanwhile Jonathan was carrying a wooden staff and had a blanket draped over his shoulders. He’d become a shepherd.

Everyone was in a festive mood – much more jolly than reverent – and the following hour was just as joyful. We went forward to the altar when our scripts directed us to do so. We sang carols in unrehearsed voices – “Angels We Have Heard on High” from my contingent.

Wings were askew. Shepherds’ blankets slipped off shoulders. Children giggled and the baby Jesus slept through it all. Eventually most of the congregation was on the altar singing and listening to the familiar nativity story being told by the priest whose halo bobbed over one eye.

A few timid souls still in the pews were our only audience. I was especially glad not to be among them this time because it was the best Christmas pageant ever. And afterward we ate cookies.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn is Alice’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella. Just 95 cents. The Best Price Ever at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.

 

Welcome Barbara White Daille

Here is a special holiday gift for you. Barbara White Daille – an author you should get to know at The Daille-y News if you haven’t given yourself that pleasure already. Barbara shares her own family Christmas tradition from childhood to present. Plus an excerpt from her new novel The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal.

 Barbara White Daille photo

Deck the Halls—however you please! by Barbara White Daille

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. When I was growing up, during the week before Christmas we would all pile into the family’s station wagon. My dad would drive through the neighborhoods in our small town while we checked out the holiday decorations. I was most impressed by the sleighs on the rooftops and the Santas climbing up the chimneys. But I also loved seeing all the lights on the houses, the ornaments parading across the lawns, the fairy lights gracing the trees.

At home, we had decorations indoors, too, of course—lights and tinsel strung around our living room, Christmas wreaths hung from the windows. And while we didn’t have a hearth, we definitely had Christmas stockings to hang in hopes of having them filled by St. Nicholas.

Some years, we had a real tree, but most of the time, we put up an artificial tree that my dad would unbox and string with lights and that we kids would help to decorate.

And you know what?

As expert as I’d become at picking out what I liked and didn’t like on all those decoration-hunting drives around town, it didn’t matter a bit to me whether our tree was real or fake. The type or size or lushness of the tree didn’t matter, either. We could’ve had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and I would have loved it just as much.

My husband and I have a tree of our own now, and every year, that tree also is adorned not with “decorations” but with much love.

Because back when I was growing up and now, it’s never been the tree or the decorations themselves that matter most.

It’s the traditions associated with them, the care and concern that went into choosing or making them, and the beauty of seeing them year after year that make them all so special.

~~~

In the clip below, my hero and heroine are doing some decorating of their own. Neither one knows her grandfather is matchmaking to bring them together. But Andi is attempting to avoid Mitch and is dismayed when he shows up to help her.

Barbara White Daille book cover

She stood straighter. “I don’t need a helper, thank you.”

“Too late. I’m on board. What do you want me to do?”

She turned away and rummaged through a carton of ornaments. “Nothing. I’ve got everything under control.” The words made her think again of her reaction to his kiss. Of her loss of control.

“Andi, walking away yesterday didn’t make me go away. Pretending to be busy here doesn’t mean I’ll disappear. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you?”

“At the moment, you are.”

“Well, that’s a start.”

She shot a look over her shoulder and found him smiling down at her. He was so close, she could have taken a step back and found herself in his arms.

Instead, she shifted aside. “Really, Mitch, I don’t need your assistance.”

“Jed seems to think you do. You and Tina and Jane. And I made a promise. So that’s that.”

She sighed. He had made a promise. And once Grandpa made up his mind about something, that was that. As she had no choice in the matter, she might as well give in gracefully. “Fine. And I’m not pretending to be busy.” She pointed to one carton. “That’s what I’ve got on my mind right now. Decorations for the wedding. Our client requested Christmas lights. You can get started with those.”

She had hoped having him work at a distance would keep him from distracting her, but she could still hear everything he said to her. Worse…or maybe better…she could see every move he made. Who knew hanging a string of lights required so much physical activity? His shoulders flexed, his biceps bulged, and she didn’t even want to think about what happened to the strong muscles in his thighs as he climbed up and down the ladder.

Good thing she had acquired a helper, because she wasn’t getting much work done herself.

~~

Hope you enjoyed the clip.

Happy holidays to all! And I would love to have you share one of your favorite Christmas traditions with us.

ABOUT BARBARA:

Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom.

Barbara’s new series, The Hitching Post Hotel, features a matchmaking grandpa determined to see his three granddaughters wed. The series began with The Cowboy’s Little Surprise and A Rancher of Her Own, and The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal has just debuted. Additional books in the series will be coming up next year.

Where to Find The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal:

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Lawmans-Christmas-Proposal-Hitching-Hotel/dp/0373755961

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lawmans-christmas-proposal-barbara-white-daille/1121775760

Books-A-Million
http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Lawmans-Christmas-Proposal/Barbara-White-Daille/9780373755967

Harlequin
http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=61196

IndieBound
http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780373755967

Kobo
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-lawman-s-christmas-proposal

Where to Find Barbara online:

Website  http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com
Newsletter  http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com/newsletter
Twitter  https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille
Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille

~~~

I’m very pleased Barbara could join us. I’m sure you hear the beat of her warm and generous heart in everything she’s written here. You will find that same heart in her stories. Be sure to comment with your own family holiday traditions. Barbara and I would love to hear from you.

Blessings and Happy Holidays.  Alice

 

Homemade Ornaments

Christmas 2013 -- Tree without lights onThe tradition began with my daughter in law back when our granddaughter was too young to handle anything more dangerous than scissors and glitter. Her mom took over where a hot glue gun was required. The gold and purple stocking at the top of the tree in the photo is an example of one such project.

I don’t honestly know if the stocking was made by our granddaughter or our grandson who joined the glue gun posse a few years later. What I do know is that I dearly love every one of those homemade ornaments.

I’m kind of a nut about Christmas. Maybe because my own birthday is December 26th and somewhere in my soul I imagine the Christ child is sharing a tiny bit of his thunder with me.

Friends and family are aware of this yuletide obsession of mine and the tendency to over-decorate that goes with it. Tree ornaments have been a favorite gift choice for years. The Bloomingdales taxi was also my daughter in law’s inspired bit of glitz in reference to another of my holiday obsessions.

In fact each of the ornaments on that tree is a gift from someone I love. But the homemade ones are all from our grandchildren. Eventually they graduated from scissors and hot glue to dough and paint and the era of the home-baked tree began.

We were living in the Pacific Northwest by then and every year new home-baked ornaments arrived. Carefully crafted and even more carefully wrapped they nestled under the tree they would soon adorn – waiting for Grandma to unswaddle them with a full heart and glistening eyes.

The Santa face and the red flower on a blue background and the brightly colored sun – all in the branches of the photo tree – plus many more. They accumulated as the boughs hung heavier and more precious to me with each passing year. Until it was time to move back home from the northwest to the northeast.

A great deal of packing was involved but none more crucial to me than the packing of the homemade ornaments. Yards of bubble wrap and heavy duty tape were employed. I didn’t care how many boxes it took. And I insisted they were not to travel in the moving van with the rest of our belongings.

My red Jeep Wrangler was being shipped east too. Under my vigilant supervision the cartons of homemade ornaments were stacked inside. Still I was anxious about their fate. Jonathan promised to call me the moment he saw the Jeep at the east coast pickup point.

“The ornament boxes are fine,” he said before I could even ask the question. “Thank you,” I answered. My heart was more articulate as it whispered, “God bless us every one.”

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – A holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC. Enjoy!

 

The Santa Suit

Grandpa SantaThere’s been more than one Santa suit in the history of this particular tradition in our family. The first suit appeared long ago – even before our grandchildren. Santa visited our grown children in those days and always according to the same ritual.

We’d be in the midst of gift giving on Christmas morning when he arrived. “Ho Ho Ho” he’d boom in a jolly voice from the doorway. “Hello Santa” we’d respond with grins plastered across our faces.

“Isn’t that little Eddie?” Santa would ask eldest son who hadn’t been little in quite some time. Santa would then visit each of us with packages he pulled from a bag like the one that hung in our laundry closet.

The first time the Santa suit went public was at the Schenectady, New York YWCA holiday party. Rumor had it that Santa was hesitant about taking his show on the road on a Saturday morning being more accustomed to Christmas midnight creeps and solitary chimneys – until the children were let loose.

They barreled out of a room adjoining the one with the brightly decorated tree. Shouts of “It’s Santa!” filled the air and his mustache twitched into smiling position – swiftly followed by a hearty “Ho Ho Ho.”

At some point Mrs. Santa invested in a second Santa suit made of more substantial material. Velvet in fact with soft white trim. Santa’s beard had grown more curly and lengthy also and the peak of his red hat no longer drooped.

His former suit found a new home with another cash-strapped organization much like the YWCA. Mr. and Mrs. Santa were pleased to know that the long-beloved garment would be gleefully enjoyed by many children for years to come.

Meanwhile our own grandchildren had joined the family and they loved Santa’s Christmas morning visits too. Maybe even more than their parents and aunts and uncles had. Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho” was more enthusiastic than ever.

Nonetheless last year he asked Mrs. Santa a question that troubled her very much. “Do you think the Santa suit is getting a little silly? Maybe they’re too old for it.” The grandkids are twelve and seventeen now.

“Absolutely not” was Mrs. Santa’s vehement answer. “The children would miss it. We all would.”

That was especially true for her and she was quite relieved when he didn’t argue further. Because there are few things as lovable and dear as the Christmas gift of a good man in a Santa suit.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – a Holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC .