All posts by aliceorrbooks@gmail.com

The Strawberry Cookie Jar – A Riverton Road Story

The strawberry cookie jar probably wouldn’t have merited a second look from Amanda if she’d been her normal self that day.

“What will you use it for?” William asked.

They’d always been close and shared just about every confidence, so he understood how troubled she was. Her unusual preoccupation with the ceramic strawberry was added evidence of that.

“A cookie jar maybe,” Amanda answered without much conviction.

William lifted the lid of the foot high, fruit-shaped container, which was bright red and dimpled like its real-life counterpart. A cap of ceramic leaves, resembling a section of vine stem, formed the green curlicue handle.

“The top doesn’t fit tight enough,” he said, pushing Amanda’s strawberry cookie jar precariously close to the edge of the makeshift yard sale table. “The cookies will go stale.”

She didn’t reply. He was starting to annoy her. All she wanted was to clutch this comforting object to her bosom where she’d experienced too little comfort lately. She was fast becoming a listless shell of her customary self, and William had been sensitive to that. He’d mixed delicious apricot sours for her at cocktail hour and taken on some of the more tedious tasks of being the husband and wife chef team at Miller’s Inn on Riverton Road Hill. So why couldn’t he also let her cling to this ceramic strawberry cookie jar in peace?

As far as anyone could tell, William and Amanda had passed the seven-years-married itchy period with hardly a blip on the bliss meter. She’d relaxed then, which may have been a mistake because, almost out of nowhere, a renegade thought had begun to plague her, the thought that maybe they should try living apart. She’d been taken completely by surprise. She’d also assumed they would muddle their way through whatever this might be.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t been able to ward off a growing tendency to snipe and bicker, until she feared her nastiness might reach critical mass and she’d collapse in a cloud of self-disgust, like those high-rise buildings they detonate from within to implode straight down onto their own foundations. There were also moments, like a sunny yard sale morning, when her characteristic common sense was replaced by what appeared to be a random obsession, this time a strawberry cookie jar.

“It’s occurred to me that, if I want to hold onto you, I should go along with whatever you want.”

Amanda was so shocked by William’s words she almost dropped her precious, though actually kind of homely ceramic find. He’d always been a feisty guy, making his own rules and sticking to them. They’d gotten along so well partly because her rules were generally in tune with his. Yet, here he was, standing next to a table cobbled together from splintered two-by-fours covered up by a faded tablecloth, talking about capitulation.

What he had said echoed in the rhythm of the car wheels along the high-crowned North Country road all the way home. “Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy, bump. Go along with what she wants.” When she faced William that evening in the narrow living room of their apartment at the Inn, she was still hearing that rhythm and those words.

“What do you think I want?” she asked.

“The way I see it, you should be asking what I think you need.”

Amanda was stunned by his reaction, or lack of reaction, at least in the flatness of his tone. She was even more stunned by having no answer to offer concerning either her wants or her needs, so she waited for him to provide it, like she expected he would.

“You need to get away from this place,” he said, right on cue.

A heated argument followed, with angry accusations and layering on of guilt, like too many married couple arguments. Amanda might have taken her own cue from what William had said that morning and simply gone along with what he said, but she didn’t. The next day, she awoke regretting this and immediately began formulating an apology. Unfortunately, William had already left, and she would never see him alive again.

Meanwhile, the strawberry cookie jar languished in a storage shed for several years until Amanda rediscovered it among dusty packing boxes, red dimples dingy from long neglect, still probably incapable of keeping cookies fresh. She clutched it to her anyway, as she had all those years ago, while feelings from that time flooded back sharp and poignant as a needle behind the eyes, bringing with them William’s words.

“You should be asking what you need.” Maybe she was now ready to search for that answer at last.

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

– R|R

Read Amanda’s present-day story in Alice’s new novel, A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Buy it HERE. Buy all of Alice’s books HERE.

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Life Changes When You Start the Day Writing #MFRWauthor #IAN1

The first monsoon clouds from my terrace

On many summer weekends, Jonathan and I leave the city for our camp in the Skylands of northwest New Jersey. Two days later, unfortunately, we return from all of that relaxation with a list of city-life things to do long enough to bring stress barreling back big time.

The next day, an act of iron-bound determination will be required to make myself pick up my notebook or pop up a file in my computer and write. Too often the notebook and the word doc file lose out. The post-weekend lists seem so much more crucial to our weekday existence. They are about keeping our real-world life running on the smooth track rather than the bumpy one after all, which is crucial to the max. That is what I’ve tended to believe most of the time.

But something happened this past weekend at camp that disrupted my customary way of thinking. I started a new book, not an adaptation like my last two books have been. The first, A Vacancy at the Inn, a novella that was orphaned when I decided to leave my agent. The second, A Villain for Vanessa, a re-imagining of a previously published novel whose rights I’d reverted.

This new book is neither of those things. It is a brand-new story, fresh out of my creative brain matter and growing word after word into scene after scene like a miracle on the page in front of me. Maybe that is why, when I work up Monday morning, I ejected the To Do lists from their previous priority position and replaced them with a long writing session. Maybe the magic had me in its thrall.

When the same thing happened on Tuesday morning, my doubts disintegrated. I was enthralled indeed. Caught up in an alternate world of story that seems somehow more truly my reality than my day-to-day down-to-earth one. And here is something else equally enthralling. After each writing session, an aura of the magic remains. My mind feels less fettered. My worries press less heavily. The To Do lists have lost a huge dollop of their tyranny.

Voila. Because I start my days writing, my life has changed for the much, much better. Alice is in Wonderland again. What do you think about that? I think things are getting curiouser and curioser.

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

– R|R

Book 5 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – A Time of Fear and Loving – will debut on Saturday, September 16th, our 45th wedding anniversary. A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4and my other books are available from Amazon HERE.

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Amanda Rescued My Writing Career – Here’s How

Amanda Rescued My Writing Career, but before that was necessary, I would wake up in the morning with an itch to get back to whatever story I was working on at the time. I carried my writing notebook with me everywhere. I even took longer subway routes so I would have more scribbling opportunities between stops. Then, I put my writing notebook aside and hardly remembered where it was.

Before Amanda rescued my writing career, I was despondent. One of my very best friends, my devotion to telling stories, was losing her life right in front of me and I had no idea what to do to save her. Thank heaven I did have enough mind presence left to realize I needed help from an expert and got in touch with a motivational coach. Maybe a professional mojo locator could relocate mine.

To tell you the whole truth, I didn’t really believe it would work. I figured she’d assign me some intriguing creativity exercises. I would complete the exercises, because I’ve always been the kind of student who does the assignment. But, in the end, my motivation to write would continue to be disappeared.

Then we sat down to talk and her first question was this, “Would you mind telling me about your heroine?”

My response was to stare, probably slack-jawed. In the interests of full disclosure yet again, I must admit to you that I had barely thought about Amanda in weeks. FYI – Amanda is the main character of A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5.

Amanda is a widow,” I began, because I needed to say something. Then, I caught myself. I had to qualify that statement. “But she’s tired of being thought of as a widow. She’s ready to come back to life.”

“What kind of life does she want to have now?” Ms. Motivator asked.

I hesitated for a moment before it hit me. I knew the answer to that question as well as I know my own name.

“It’s what she doesn’t want that matters most to her. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted as the always-dependable Miller sister any longer. She wants to break out and become somebody even she doesn’t expect herself to be.”

FYI once more – Amanda’s family owns Miller’s Inn in Riverton NY, and she has two sisters, Bethany and Patrice. We’ve already heard Bethany’s story in Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 3 – A Vacancy at the Inn.

I didn’t hesitate again. Detail after detail tumbled out of me, including some I hadn’t previously imagined. There were murders, even a possible kidnapping. I write Romantic Suspense after all. There was Amanda, of course, and Mike and Willow and Justin and the entire Book 5 gang. Every one of them had returned to life demanding that their story must be told.

Meanwhile, most magically, my love of writing had returned with them, and that is how Amanda Rescued My Writing Career.

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

– R|R

Read Amanda’s story – A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

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