Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to Bookmark Your Brand

AOB Sunrise ImageI said it over and over again back when I was still presenting workshops for writers. “Don’t brand your book. Brand yourself.”

I have a habit of not listening to my advice. Just ask my savvy author friends. They get a kick out of puncturing my pride with my own words on occasion in the form of a humorous anecdote. I could make a column of those witticisms called “What Alice Says vs. What Alice Does.”

To be fair to myself I did pay attention to my message when it came to one thing. The visual that banners the website where this blog appears plus my Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

I thought a lot about that visual. What image best represents who and where I am right now? Not just in my work but in my life as well? I needed inspiration so I went to Shutterstock.com and started clicking through possibilities.

Nothing grabbed me for quite some time but I didn’t mind. Compared to my usual work routine of struggle to make my characters and their actions come to life on the page – searching through hundreds of graphics felt like toddler play.

Then I saw it and I knew. Just as I was thinking I’d have to settle for “good enough” there was “perfect” staring out at me from my laptop screen. It was titled “Sunrise over the Sea” and the colors were glorious. The sky was gold and red-orange and reflected in water that turned to blue-green as it flowed toward me.

This is the way I feel about the place I now occupy and what I choose to do in this place. A new morning filled with promise. The crown of a full life spent doing things I loved – now offering fresh things I love. A dawning with mysterious adventure ahead. What will happen today?

I immediately emailed Kim Killion and Jennifer Jakes of The Killion Group Inc. We were on the same wave length as usual and within hours my sunrise was everywhere. Eventually we’d strengthen the impact with my book covers overlaying the right corner of the banner.

I couldn’t stop smiling. This was my brand. I’d had difficulty understanding exactly what Brand was until that moment. Your brand is You. Not as much what you do on the outside as what you feel – or are in route toward feeling – on the inside. I’d noodled around the edges of that. Even wrote a Blog Post about how long it had been. But the words didn’t sink into my heart before I made the sunrise my own.

Then I designed my first bookmark and that bright gold/magenta/turquoise epiphany disappeared into forgetfulness. It was a beautiful bookmark but it was for one book only. A Christmas novella no less – limited by both its singularity and its seasonal story.

The novella came and went along with the holidays. I gave away more of my thousand bookmarks than I thought I would. The rest were trash but I still liked the bookmark idea. I don’t care if they’re in or out. This is my sunrise time and I do what feels right for me. Right?

That reminder brought my epiphany winging back. “Brand yourself not your book”  goes for bookmarks too. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new Alice Orr Books bookmark so I can send it to Killion. And – you guessed it – the background is my sunrise.

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

RR

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

 

How I Almost Became Riverton Roadkill

A Villain for Vanessa ECover (1) 100 x 150px - 14.6KB - SmallThis boulder was a doozy. In fact it was the mother in law of boulders. Worse than a mother as mothers in law often are. I know because I am one and I suck at it at least half the time.

Back to the boulder. Did you notice how I was avoiding the subject? Because this subject is that painful. It’s about how an entire book died one day. How I got up one morning and knew my current beloved opus couldn’t be allowed to live.

I’d been writing merrily merrily down the plot stream for months. I have the dates somewhere to specify precisely how many months. I can’t look them up because it would make me want to eat my innards.

You know how it is when something you really care about is going smoothly. You chug on with heaven at your heels feeling as if you might break into song and dance at any moment.

Then that story – the one of this joyous experience – takes an unfortunate turn into a byway not even on your map. You had no idea this danger detour existed. If there was a warning sign you weren’t able to see it through your euphoria-tinted glasses. Here’s how that story went for me.

Once upon a morning the princess with a pen awoke in her cozy bed. The one just like her grandma used to make with downy coverlets and tatted pillowslips and everything so white and bright the world sparkled.

Princess yawns and stretches in luxurious anticipation of a creatively fulfilling day ahead. Then she commits her fateful error. The inciting incident that starts the narrative tumbling downhill pell-mell over euphoria smashed flat as Road Runner on the blacktop.

What was the princess’s error? She opened her eyes. Did she find a handsome prince gazing down at her with love and future promise aglimmer between his lush lashes? Fraid not. She found reality beaming ice blue laser shards into her warm reverie. Freezing it tomb cold.

“I can’t write this story,” she cries as the icy razor tip hits its deep down mark and opens the road to devastation.

I cannot tell you how I let this happen because I do not know. The only possible explanation is that an amazing scenario sunk its tentacles into my imagination. With pathos and tragedy and struggle toward redemption all happening to characters we can’t help but love. I leapt into that stream and let myself be carried blissfully onward by its ever-mounting momentum.

Except that – as the fierce glare of my morning revelation made abruptly clear – this wasn’t a story from my imagination. This was a story from my life populated by characters who weren’t characters at all. They were facsimiles of people I cared for who would cease caring for me if I published this book.

The ritual that ensued was fraught and perfunctory at the same time. Notebooks were discarded. Computer files were excised. Sticky notes were unstuck and tossed in the trash.

No evidence of my dumbass brain-fogged maneuver could remain in case I should succumb to a fall on my fat head. No writer detritus from this particular faux pas would be left behind to do its hurtful worst.

I don’t recall exactly how long I languished in the wallow that followed. The boulder continued to block that previous path and would not be moved. I had two choices. Quit. Or put the boulder at my back and begin again. I did the latter.

The result is A Villain for Vanessa – Book 4 – skimming toward you soon along the unobstructed lane of Riverton Road.

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

RR

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

 

Beloved Visitors or On Sodden Toweling

I don’t think of myself as a neat freak though I do feel a visceral attraction to this Julian's Mess 2-2016Mary McGarry Morris quote. “Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be wild and original in your work.”

I’d like to think of myself as wild and original but these days that sounds like it might be tiring. Is it possible to be wild and original in a sitting position – preferably with my feet up? If so I’m on it.

Meanwhile my grandchildren are visiting. My granddaughter has a plus-one girlfriend with her. They’re sharing the larger bedroom in our small urban apartment. The bedroom with the TV large enough to be viewed without super-heroine vision.

My grandson has the smaller bedroom ordinarily referred to as my office. The accompanying photo depicts his manner of clothing storage. From most recently worn on top leading downward from there toward his arrival day outfit.

In service of full disclosure I must admit to establishing the following housekeeping rule. “Please just keep the door closed.” What can I say? I’m an out-of-sight-out-of-mind type of grandma. With the following exception. Bath towels.

I maintained my original pledge to stay out of those rooms during their visits until one particularly humid summer. Point of info. Jonathan and I live in New York City where damp ratchets steadily upward toward dank from June through August.

At the end of the grandkid stay I have in mind we said goodbye with much hugging at the apartment door. After which I was feeling bereft until I ventured into what had been my granddaughter’s room. Different plus-one girlfriend share that time.

The error of my permissive housekeeping approach was obvious as I opened the door and the reek of mildew assaulted me full force. It was apparent I should have practiced towel control. I’d wondered why our supply of bath sheets had depleted over the past few days. Now I knew why.

Sodden toweling decorated the floor – and most disturbingly for me the bed as well – in odoriferous lumps located what seemed to my suddenly disordered psyche like everywhere.

“Accept. Adjust. Adapt.” Three A-words I largely credit with my personal survival in general. In this specific case. Accept that sodden toweling is a given of grandkid visits. Adjust my policy of non-intrusion. Adapt by inspecting their rooms immediately after they leave for whichever sector of Gotham I’ve counseled them to avoid.

Since Adopting – another good A as in advice word – this practice I no longer have to… #1. Fumigate the bedroom carpeting quite as often. #2. Badger Jonathan to flip the mattress quite as often. #3. Convert terminally mold stained bath sheets to cleaning rags quite as often.

We are now entering Day 4 of the current grand-progeny visit. Granddaughter plus plus-one has left for what she promises will be solely a campus visit. They’re both in college search mode. Grandson is in the shower I demanded he take before hand-off to a blessed relative while I prepare for this evening’s family gathering and feast.

Jonathan and I are experiencing increased difficulty with cranking our bodies upright after sleeping on the foldout couch in the living room. Two visit days remain at the end of which we will both be bereft. But right now I believe I may scent eau de mildew in the air.

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

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/. I can’t guarantee that the non-digital versions will be free of mildew.

 

My First Indie-Versary

Anniversary 1 imageIt’s been one year – or will be on February 14th – since I put out my first independently published novel. Twelve months seems too short a time for all that has happened. Especially too short for all I’ve learned.

The most significant thing I learned is I can’t be as independent as Indie sounds. Other authors run the gamut of what it takes to put out a book from start to finish. I admire and salute their fabulousness but I’m not among their number. I need a lot of help.

April Eberhardt tells me I’m what she calls an Assisted Independent Author. In other words I have a team assisting me. The thing I’m most grateful for about this past year is that I was able to find my team and they’re willing to work with me.

My first book was edited by Mary Litchfield Tuel. I’d worked with her before so I know she’s very good. Some huge personal challenges forced her to cut back for a while. But – Hallelujah! – she has put on her editing hat again. Anybody in need of a great editor would be well-served to get in touch with Mary.

Meanwhile I had to push on to a new strategy. A beta reader plus a proofreader. My beta reader is the same guy who did that for me in my traditional publishing days. My handsome hardnosed – when it comes to what does and does not work in a story – husband Jonathan.

My proofreader is another smart head. In fact she’s one of the sharpest people I know. Irene Peterson doesn’t let me get away with anything and – believe me – I try. I attempted to do this part by myself for a while but – although I can spot other people’s errors in their work – apparently I can’t do the same in my own. Thank heaven for Irene.

Another thank you shout goes out to Caridad Pineiro for recommending The Killion Group Inc. They do so much for me. Kim Killion take my ideas and sprinkles them with her mystifying magic to produce the fantastic book covers I’m very proud to have on my work.

Jennifer Jakes – also a Killion Kween – formats my eBooks and my print books and uploads them to their online platforms too. She has also given me enough crucial advice to fill a book all its own. If I were her I think I’d call it Jenn Tells Us When Why and How to Do It Right.

Killion whipped my website into shape as well. The sunrise banner sends exactly the message I want out there about me and my career. “Good Morning Everybody. This is My Brand New Day.” With my book covers added for everyone to see. The three I put out in this sunrise year.

My most recent teamwork leap was into Newsletter Land. I’d have fallen flat on my face if not for Amy L. Heffernan. She takes my copy and makes it beautiful. I was scared to death to try a newsletter. Amy makes it easy-peasy.

What a year! What a lot of work! What a Super Team! I’m thankful and hopeful and full in general – mostly of enthusiasm to start Year Number Two with Book Number Four.

So – do I get a cake with one candle? Yellow cake with chocolate frosting please.

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

RR

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

 

Dollar Sign Dilemma

Dollar Sign imageMost of us would rather admit to how much we weigh or the details of our sex lives than come honestly clean about how much money we do or do not make. In this case how much we do or do not make as Indie Authors.

I’ll admit this much. Our accountant wants to reduce my writing efforts to hobby status. On top of that my 2015 tax statement from Amazon wouldn’t cover my stamp budget and I hardly ever use anything but email.

PLUS yesterday a sister Indie was complaining she only makes a few hundred dollars a month on one of her titles – one of several making money. In other words she could pay what’s now my rent and used to be my mortgage with her earnings. I can’t use those same words about myself.

So – how does the Besotted-with-Indie side of me explain this to the Hardnosed-Business-Gal side of me?

First of course there’s the reality check consideration. I only have three Indie titles published. My previous traditionally published titles don’t count even though they’re out there in bright red Harlequin Intrigue splendor. Only my Indies count toward productivity calculation.

When I was originally thinking about the Indie route possibility the popular wisdom was you must have three to five titles out before you start getting noticed. What I hear now is five to ten titles. So I obviously have a distance to go before I count myself out as a selling author.

Second reality check. I’m not a fast writer. It took me a year to publish those three titles in my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series. When it comes to waiting for a real payday to happen I’d better not hold my breath even though blue is my color.

That’s really all I’ve got for Hardnosed Business Gal. She has to kick Besotted with Indie in the butt to write faster. My money in that gamble – what I can scrape together – is on Not-Going-to-Happen across the board. I manage what I can manage when I can manage it. That’s all.

I guess it’s time to stop bristling when the accountant mentions hobby status. I’m retired after all. Several times retired actually from several ventures where I was searching for tax write-offs rather than taxable income.

Maybe I should be thankful for that. Maybe I ought to stop dancing the I-Think-I-Should-Quit-Writing Mambo every time I hear somebody talking dollar signs. Maybe it’s time to shut up and pray that when I finally have ten titles out the discoverability number won’t have risen to fifteen.

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

RR

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