Monthly Archives: June 2016

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/.