Category Archives: Novel

Ryder Rides On

Ryder Syvertsen cover imageMemorial Day is for remembering and on Saturday we remembered an author friend of ours – Ryder Syvertsen who wrote most of his books as Ryder Stacy.

We gathered at a Brooklyn Heights brownstone church in the reception area quaintly referred to as the undercroft. Ryder would have had a witty wisecrack to make about that word. Possibly something to do with the region of the afterlife he expected to inhabit. Ryder was a witty guy. Smart and verbal so his humor was always crackling and on point with a cynical edge that managed to be free of malice – at least of the personal kind.

I can’t imagine Ryder in a church but I can imagine him in Brooklyn where he spent some of his best years. I can imagine him in other contexts too because he was four months older than I am. We grew up in the same times. Though he lived his most formative teen years in Greenwich Village while I was in Northern New York – in a town much like Riverton in the series I’m writing – wishing I could get to Greenwich Village.

Ryder wrote series too. His best known as Ryder Stacy is The Doomsday Warrior Series. Survivalist Science Fiction “set in a Ruined Earth America” his obit says. Ryder died on February 28th after a protracted illness. He wasn’t well enough long enough to catch the indie publishing wave now roaring like a tsunami through the book world. But I can imagine him here with us. Ranting for out with the old and in with the new. And letting his freak flag fly.

Ryder did have a freak flay and a party-down soul too. I knew him mostly from writers’ group parties where he claimed to come because they were “the cheapest drunk in town.” I always understood that he was really there – as we all were – to be among our tribe. The tribe of storytellers that began when language began around campfires where we told our tales in exchange for a shank of whatever might be roasting in the flames.

Ryder wrote in that longstanding noble tradition. So do I. So very possibly do you. Sometimes supper isn’t easy to come by. Ryder struggled with wife Paige Lewis through some lean years. Many of us can identify with that. Ryder isn’t struggling any more. But his tales are still being told. Search for Ryder Stacy or Ryder Syvertsen on amazon.com and you’ll find his stories there.

Buy a book or several. I believe that’s the memorial Ryder would love best. Maybe he’s loving it right now from the place of wild imagining and raucous parties and writing tribe companions where he is bound to be.

RR

 My own latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 12th novel and Ryder would definitely want me to be telling you about it here as I tell you about him.  Alice Orr –

 

Home Is Where the Heart Is – Riverton Road Monday

Riverton Road SeriesIn my adult life I’ve done a lot of what the English refer to as “moving house”. I can’t blame my birth family for my restless spirit and its long-time quest for something new wherever I happen to be. They lived in the same house from the time I was six months old until I left for college. Once the possibility of selling our gray-shingled bungalow was simply mentioned and I cried my eyes out for days.

What is Home anyway? We talk a lot about it. We’re forever searching for one or running away from one or missing one so much we’re stricken with Homesickness. All of which is pretty intense. We’re never lukewarm about home. We either burn to be there or yearn to get away. Anywhere that falls short of that kind of passion for us is just a resting spot. A temporary stopping-off point on the road to our heart’s true destination.

That’s part of what fascinates me about Mark Kalli and Hailey Lambert in A Year of Summer Shadows. They are and always have been Home in terms of the town they live in at least. The town of Riverton, New York. Mark was born and raised on Riverton Road at Kalli Corner in the same homestead with only a few years away for college. But in this story – his story and Hailey’s – Mark finds his own restlessness. To find his own new heart place near Kalli Corner and Riverton but separate from it too.

Hailey’s relationship to home has a more complicated past. As a child home was two places. Her family’s place and her friend Julia’s more stately Hargate House until that went sour.  Her father died soon afterward and her mother lost her bearings. Hailey didn’t feel at home again until she returned to Riverton after her own college years. She’s lived by herself ever since and would be content to go on doing so if not for the confusion Mark Kalli has become and the danger Julia’s reappearance brings.

What remains constant about Home for Mark and Hailey is their love of Riverton. I love Riverton too. The details of this town aren’t just the specifics of Mark and Hailey’s heart place. They’re the specifics of the heart place of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series.  Riverton, New York isn’t only where the stories happen. It is another character in the stories themselves. Riverton’s as real to me as the people who live there and the struggles they go through. And Riverton grows more real with each story of this good town where bad things can and do happen.

Riverton is more than the home of Mark and Hailey and all the rest. It’s the heart of this series because we grow to care more about the place as we travel through each struggle and adventure that erupts there. As we care more the place becomes more real to us. Until – at least in our imaginations – Riverton evolves into a town we can also call Home. I know that’s true for me. After a lot of moving house – when I roam through the streets and mysteries of Riverton I’m Home.

 RR

 My next story is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Available May 15th at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and a home for your heart as well as mine.

 Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

 

Can We Go Home Again? – Riverton Road Monday

High School ReunionEvery 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. Or maybe not until after I’ve typed The End.

In A Wrong Way Home I knew all along that Kara’s dilemma has been my dilemma for decades. Can we go home again? Can we return to the place that birthed us and nurtured us? Or – as is the case with Kara – 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 and the hurtful memories that go with it. For Kara those deep 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 these pits again.

Yet she can’t seem to stay away from one of those men even though she knows for sure that seeing him again will mean heartache for her. Matt Kalli is like the sore tooth we can’t keep from flicking with our tongue. Maybe we do that to make certain the pain is still there.

Isn’t that true of most of us when – for example – we can’t 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. At my age we wish we could afford a facelift.

We’ve got unfinished business back there. Battlefields we didn’t conquer the first time around. The mean girls. The lost boys. The warm friendships that went cold. We long to write an alternate ending to those stories.

“Look at me,” we’d like to say. “See how special I am now. Don’t you wish you’d been nicer to me back then? Sorry. You’re too late to make up for it now.”

That’s the best case scenario. What will the real scenario be? We can’t resist finding out. We can’t keep our tongues off that nagging sore tooth memory. So we clean up as pretty as we can get and trek back home again.

I’ve gone to two high school reunions. One was a disappointment – no closure to be found. The second was very different. Why? Because I stayed away from the mean girls and boys I’d lost and the bad friends. I hung with the folks who’d been my true besties and I had a marvelous time. I also took my husband. He cleans up nice too.

Like Kara I found out that we can go home again. We just have to choose our stopping points wisely. We have to do that choosing with our warm hearts instead of our broken ones.

RR

 My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 12th novel and it’s all about going home again.

 Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

All Scarlett All the Time – Orr What? Wednesday

Scarlett O’Hara was a bad influence on the way I experienced real life romance in my younger days. A dark growling brute carries you to bed and pretty much rapes you. So you fall straight off in love with him. My first marriage got me over that screwed up way of thinking because I’d pretty much found that brute. Which wasn’t the least bit romantic after all.

On the upside – Scarlett will never stop being a positive influence on my romScarlett O'Haraance with life. My favorite Gone With the Wind scene isn’t the one where Rhett hefts Scarlett up the wide staircase with her red dressing gown trailing. The truly indelible scene for me is at the end of the first act just before the Intermission. I’ll bet you remember it too. Who could forget?

Scarlett stands on a hillside as daylight fades. She faces the devastated landscape of what was once her beautiful Tara. In the distance she sees the war ravaged wreck of the gracious antebellum mansion where her story began. She was beautiful then too with her waft waist and ivory complexion and perfectly coiffed hair. Now she’s ravaged too. But she is not devastated.

Scarlett balls her fist tight as she clutches what looks like a grimy radish root. She’s taken a bite of this filthy root then spat it out. With the vile taste of defeat in her mouth she finds what she will need to raise herself up from this rock bottom moment and the patch of scruffy earth where she now stands. She lifts her fist toward heaven and cries out.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

The first time I heard that I knew instantly what it was – a warrior cry. Even as a little girl I understood somehow that this was the spirit I would need in life – a warrior spirit. I was exactly right about that because it is the spirit we all need. We must be warriors on behalf of ourselves if we are to rise above our own inevitable scruffy-dirt-patch experiences.

What Scarlett failed to recognize of course is that one of the most effective ways of lifting ourselves is to lift others also. To become warriors on behalf of one another. Especially on behalf those whose fingers are trembling too badly at the moment to make a fist and brandish it at heaven. We take hold of their shaking fingers. We lift them high with ours and cry out.

“As God is my witness, we’ll never be defeated again, because we’ll never be alone again.”

So – we must work our fingers until they are strong and able. We don’t need a squashy ball either. Life offers lots of opportunity to exercise muscles of resistance. We practice making tight fists by shaking them at every obstacle in our path. We grow our own version of Scarlett’s warrior spirit and have it at the ready as we strike out toward each new scary challenge.

And if the pushback pushes back too hard at times and we have to go to ground for a bit. We simply say. “Fiddle dee dee. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Because tomorrow is another warrior spirit day.

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 My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series  –  Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 12th novel and – believe me – it took a warrior spirit to get here.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Kara Comes Clean – Riverton Road Monday

Some people think I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. But really I have a wound in my heart. In my head I associate that wound with Riverton, New York a place everybody else seems to love.

My memories of Riverton are mostly painful. From my tortured mentally ill mother to my own torRiverton Downtown stock phototured connection with Anthony Benton. He is a cruel man who preys on the vulnerability of others – especially women. I was one of those women when I made the worst choice of my life and turned to him.

I’d lost the man I loved and I was shattered. Anthony Benton promised comfort and protection. He gave brutality instead. Until I was able to escape from him and Riverton and every unhappy memory here. Unfortunately that meant I had to leave Aunt Dee – the one person in the North Country I truly cherished. Besides Matt Kalli the man who had destroyed my heart.

Now Aunt Dee has died and left me her wonderful old house on Flower Street. But there are strings attached and I’m tangled in those strings. That’s why I’ve come back to Riverton where hard memories assault me the minute I drive into town. I’ve remade myself and my life since I left here. I’m no longer shattered or vulnerable. Quite the opposite in fact.

Still all the old hurt and confusion return in an instant. Maybe that explains the impulse to call Matt Kalli. In Riverton less than a half-hour. Already making foolish choices. And I don’t even know yet that Anthony Benton has been murdered.

Discover more about Kara in A Wrong Way Home – Book #1 of the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series – Matt & Kara’s Story. Love and danger feature the Kalli family, the four Kalli brothers and those who find safety and a warm welcome at Kalli Corner on Riverton Road. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book #2 in the series and launches on May 15, 2015.

Find my books at amazon.com/author/aliceorr.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

This is Our Year

AOB Fireworks2Recently a friend of mine said, “This is my selfish year.” She’s an open and generous person so I know she didn’t mean that in a narcissistic way. What she was saying – to all of us – is that it’s time to pay attention to our personal needs and goals. And it’s time to make them a priority, too.

She’s talking to those of us who tend to take care of other people – our partners, our family, our friends, the people we work with – and place ourselves near the bottom of that list. Near the bottom of the list where the dregs are. The dregs of our time, energy and commitment.

We’ve been raised, trained and continually admonished to do this. We’ve been taught that this is the way to be a good person – by not being very good to ourselves. The problem here has to do with Balance. Or, more accurately, it has to do with Imbalance.

Somebody whose word I do my usually inadequate best to follow teaches this. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Loving ourselves is the model for learning to love everybody else. Caring for yourself and caring for others are one and the same. It’s all about balance.

I’m not talking to those limited individuals who only think about themselves. They wouldn’t hear me anyway. Besides, in my experience, they are very much in the minority. Most of us tilt in the other direction.

Most of us are down in Dregsville trying to survive on our own leftovers. Even more unrealistically, we hope we might possibly thrive on those leftovers too. Here’s a hot flash for you. We most likely will not.

I propose an exercise. Please forgive me. I started out as a schoolteacher. Consequently, every problem prompts an exercise. So pull out a legal pad and pencil or whatever your favorite recording device may – electronic or otherwise.

Write down this question. “What do I really want for myself this year?” Not what you want for any of those other souls in your life that I listed above. This time you need to find out what you really want for you and you alone.

Forming the answer to this question may take some pondering. Or it could be right there on the tip of your tongue and at the top of your brain longing to fly forth. Let it be spoken. Allow it to soar. Write it down.

Then just let it sit for a while. In your head, in your spirit and most of all in your heart. Because this is a loving question you’re asking yourself. And it deserves to settle in deep.

Eventually – sooner rather than later I hope – you’ll make a plan. That plan will be the specific steps you must take to get to what you really want for yourself this year. You’ll write those steps down too. Because it’s good to document and this document is a promise to yourself.

Next – and this is your promise to me – you will start taking those specific steps. One by one or maybe even two at a time. Moving steadily toward where you really want to be. You will do that because – This is Our Year.

Find my books at amazon.com/author/aliceorr.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com