Category Archives: Storytelling

Character is Everything in Storytelling – My Greatest Heroine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfWe create many heroines in many stories. I believe our most powerful heroines re-create pieces of powerful women we have known. The quintessential powerful woman in my life was my maternal grandmother. Whenever I write a strong woman – as I do every time I write a woman as hero – Grandma is part of her in one aspect or another.

In the novel I am about to publish – A Villain for Vanessa – the heroine travels a long way into the unknown to find what she hopes will be a better life. Grandma did that in the late 1890’s. The exact year differs in different research sources. As with many family stories there is disagreement on the details. Debate runs rampant regarding the why or how or what.

What isn’t disputed in the case of Grandma’s migration is that she traveled alone. She was a small town girl of eighteen or nineteen or maybe twenty depending on which source I credit. She sailed from England in what I imagine was the lowest class of passage and entered this very new world for her by way of Canada.

My best guess from the bits and pieces of fact I’ve found is that her expenses were paid by a family with several children. They were bringing her to what would one day be my hometown in the remote northern region of New York State. The same region where my newest novel and the three before it are set in a fictitious town named Riverton.

The family that bought Grandma’s steamship ticket was previously unknown to her. So was the climate where she would live. I imagine her caring for the children of strangers through the shock of her first frigid North Country winter. I remember her incredible garden when I was a girl and wonder if she was recreating the warm springtime English gardens of her own girlhood.

I’ve studied the customs and fashions of the specific time period when she migrated. I picture her in a white shirtwaist and dark skirt and of course a hat being greeted by people she’d never laid eyes on before. No relatives or friends had preceded her to America. She was on her own. That took courage. It was a wonderfully brave act – the behavior of a heroine.

My Uncle John had a picture on his wall of Grandma at that young age. Her hair was pulled up in a kind of Gibson Girl poof with a bow in back. But it was her eyes that captured me. They were young and most likely blue. Her skin was pale and most likely blushing. Grandma was beautiful. I wish I’d inherited that picture. I carry it in my head and heart instead.

Above all I carry in my head and heart the gentle smile in that picture. The same smile I would bask in decades later when she taught me which flowers to harvest from her amazing garden and exactly where to cut each stem. Nowadays I bask in her more aged smile gazing down at me from another picture on my wall in this room where I write.

She did her best to instill in me the courage it took to put her button-shoed foot on that lonely ship from Plymouth. The example of her courage carries me through challenge and heartbreak and triumph too. I in turn instill that courage in the strong women I write. There is something of Grandma in each of them. Not only her bravery but her loving heart too.

That’s why my heroines are so dear to me. I believe character is everything when it comes to storytelling. Everything good in my life began with Grandma – including the strong women who grace my stories. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. The photo here is of Alice Jane and me Alice Elizabeth at two and a half already modeling my model heroine.

 

Alice Orrhttp://www.aliceorrbooks.com https://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter https://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

RR

A Villain for VanessaRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. Official launch June 17 – will be available here. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE eBook at the same site and most other online book retailers.

Introducing Starla Kaye – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: How can I give you a special pre-Thanksgiving treat?

Answer: I can introduce you to a special author – Starla Kaye.

ABOUT STARLA KAYE

Starla KayeStarla has been writing and publishing in various romance sub-genres and formats for twenty years. Her first published book Tug of Love was a sweet romance published with iUniverse Press. These days she mostly writes much edgier romances with an erotic or slightly naughty focus.

Starla enjoys creating strong-willed and independent heroines who butt heads with equally determined and slightly domineering men. She finds her hero his perfect match. She also makes him the perfect match – either happily for now or happily ever after – with the woman who wins his heart. Each is challenged by the other. Because love isn’t easy after all.

Starla has published 20 novels, 39 novellas, 8 anthologies, 18 short stories, and 3 audio books so far. She writes for Decadent Publishing, Black Velvet Seductions and Blushing Books.

Contact Starla Kaye any of these links. She’d love to hear from you.

Website: http://starlakaye.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/starla_kaye

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StarlaKayeWriter

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/starlakaye/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Starla-Kaye/e/B002ZH8K3U

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5494986-starla-kaye

Authors Den Page: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?authorid=151725

Printable Book List(s)   http://starlakaye.com/my-books/my-complete-book-list/

ABOUT STARLA KAYE’S LATEST BOOK

Starla Kaye Book Cover Trusting Love Again

Contemporary Romance – Published by Black Velvet Seductions

 

All she wants is to start over, live a peaceful life…

After an abusive marriage and an ugly divorce, Toni needs to rebuild her self-confidence and start a new life in her hometown. Going home again and confronting people she’d hurt when she’d left is never easy. She’d hung onto the idea of buying a long-abandoned old house and remodeling it to help her recover. But a man from her past has recently purchased it for his business. That’s her emotional breaking point and she does something reckless. Now she must pay the legal consequences of her foolish actions…by working for him.

All he wants is to focus on his work…

Chad’s job as a lawyer working to protect the rights of the abused elderly consumes his time and energy. It cost him his marriage and an aborted child he hadn’t known about. Now he works harder, guards his bruised heart. Yet the return of someone he’d held secret feelings for comes back to town. She upsets his world, starting with minor destruction of his business property and causing him minor injury. He shouldn’t become involved in helping this troubled woman, yet he can’t keep from doing so.

Two heart-damaged people have trouble trusting love again.

Buy Trusting Love Again at….

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Trusting-Love-Again-Starla-Kaye-ebook/dp/B017RNS888/ref=sr_1_1?tag=geolinker-20&ie=UTF8

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trusting-love-again-starla-kaye/1122924735?ean=2940156674237

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/trusting-love-again/id1057415027?mt=11

Kobo:   https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/trusting-love-again

Smashwords:   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/591678

An Excerpt from TRUSTING LOVE AGAIN

He glanced at the young woman standing close by, worrying her lower lip. “Maybe you should call—”

“What? Call my father? Because I’m acting a little wild?” Toni snorted and cut him off. “I have every right to act upset. Yet another man has messed with me, lied to me.”

His angular face tightened in annoyance. “I still have no idea what you’re talking about.” He stepped closer and reached for her.

“No!” She jumped back, breaking off the other stiletto heel, and barely managed to keep from falling. Her entire body tensed.

A memory flashed into her mind. Stanley had grabbed her arms during their last argument right after they’d eaten a special meal she’d prepared for him. His grip had been agonizingly tight. When she’d hissed in pain, he’d shoved her away. She’d landed hard on the floor, knocking her head against the dining room table. After a half-second of possibly regret, he’d turned and hurried out of the house. No apology.

“Antoinette,” Chad said again, sounding cautious.

She pushed the recollection away and looked at Chad. His expression appeared concerned. Again, he inched forward and tried to reach for her.

“Don’t touch me!” she gasped, batting his hand away, dropping the heel and purse. She hated that she was reacting this way but felt helpless to control it.

“What’s your problem?” Appearing confused, he moved toward her once more.

Panicked, defensive, and determined to stop him, she snagged the iPad from his grasp, flung it away. It crashed into the nearby towering, leafless elm tree. The sound of cracking glass made her flinch. What had she done?

Footsteps behind her on the sidewalk pounded in her direction. The young woman on the porch gasped and Chad’s father walked behind him.

“Have you been drinking?” Chad’s tone dripped with disgust as he seemed to sniff for hints of alcohol.

Her cheeks flamed. “No, I haven’t been!” she bit out. It was humiliating to realize that her brother must have told Chad about her drinking problem, something he must have read in the gossip columns.

His vivid blue eyes didn’t look as though he believed her. His jaw taut, he latched onto her left forearm before she could move. He gripped her tightly.

No! Panicked, she drew on the self-defense lessons she’d learned after the separation. With a palm strike, she gave a hard jab to his shoulder.

“What the hell?” he snapped, jerking but not releasing her. His arm was stretched out between them.

Heart racing, she hit his elbow with another palm strike. This time he lost his grasp on her arm and glowered at her in frustration and pain. She sensed he would reach for her again, but she couldn’t let it happen.

Another Excerpt from TRUSTING LOVE AGAIN

“I feel like such a wimp, letting him get to me again.” She moved away and walked over to slump down on the sofa. “All it took was hearing his voice.”

Chad closed the door and took a calming second before he faced her. “You’re not a wimp. That scumbag should be locked up for what he did to you.”

The color had returned to her face once more and she gave him a fragile smile. “I’ve come to realize that everything that happened wasn’t all his fault.”

He blinked at her. “What?”

She shrugged out of her coat and let it fall behind her. “I allowed it to happen, and not just because of the whole love, honor, and obey stuff. I was blinded by his charm, and his ease at throwing me apologies is not an excuse. I saw through them. But I wanted to believe in the magic of love too much. I wanted him to be the Prince Charming of my dreams. He wasn’t. He’d never been that, not even when we started dating. I was just too determined to make him into it.”

“You always were a romantic.” He remembered how much she’d liked the Disney movies, especially the ones with happy endings for one couple or another. Ted had done his best to avoid them. Beauty and the Beast had been her favorite; The Little Mermaid was another one Chad knew she’d watched over and over. To his friend’s disbelief, he had sat with her in the Thornton family room and watched both of them one day when she’d been miserable with the chicken pox. She’d been ten, he fifteen. He’d taken a lot of ribbing from Ted for doing it, but he’d done it anyway. Did she even remember that time?

She gave him an amused smile. “I don’t watch Disney movies anymore. Well, not like I used to do.”

He glanced at the coffee table and the thick paperback lying on top, a romance novel. After what she’d been through, it surprised him. “I would have expected you’d be reading a murder mystery or something dark.”

She shrugged. “I still enjoy a good happy ending, particularly a story that pulls my heart strings. Just because there isn’t such a thing in my life, doesn’t mean I don’t want it for others.”

He understood why she felt that way, but it bothered him. “You shouldn’t give up, Antoinette. Give yourself some time. Don’t rule out having something special because of one jerk.”

A Much Hotter Excerpt from TRUSTING LOVE AGAIN – Enjoy!

“You’re taking so long,” she said breathlessly, frowning.

“I guess it’s time to get started.” He stroked his thick shaft while she shivered with anticipation. Their gazes met and he gave a wicked grin. “Thank you for letting me do this.”

He stroked himself again, then guided the cock until it touched her pulsing, swollen lips. The sight was exciting to watch, but she had to turn her head away. She didn’t want him to see how badly she wanted him. It would be there in her eyes, she was certain of that. She braced herself mentally and physically. And waited.

But he didn’t keep her in suspense for more than a second. He gripped her hips with his big hands and the elastic bandage rubbed lightly against her. She barely had time to think about it before he drove deep inside her.

“Ohhh. Oh my,” she gasped at the fullness.

“Are you all right?” he asked in concern. He held still in her body and she quickly adjusted to the thick invasion.

She pressed backward and his balls met her bottom. She shivered, longing for more.

“I take that for a ‘yes.’” He pulled nearly out as she moaned in disgruntlement. He chuckled and thrust deep once more. “Demanding woman, aren’t you?”

Every inch of him smoothed against her sensitized skin, rubbed places inside her in such a delicious way. But a demanding woman? It had been a long time since she wanted a man to have his way with her. Stanley’s way had never been enjoyable, at least not for her. A thought which annoyed her. Stanley was in her past. Chad just might be her future. An idea that worried her.

Enough thinking about that! “How about speeding it up a little?” she beseeched, quivering all over.

“Yes, ma’am.” He began driving back and forth as she’d requested. His grip on her hips tightened and she heard his heavy breathing.

A part of her braced for roughness, for his undeniable power over her. Not Stanley. Remember that.

He eased back on the rhythm, moved more gently. “I want this to be good for you, Antoinette.”

She could sense how much this slowing down was costing him and that knowledge endeared him to her even more. He wanted to make her climax first. Another special gift from him. The notion, along with the steady drive in and out, touching the most intimate part of her, had her panting. She squeezed her eyes shut as the sensations built.

Thank You Starla from your host Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Christmas Novella in Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. Buy it at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.

A Taste of the Holidays

Alice's Broken Corn Bread

At the holiday season I love to fill the house with the aroma of good cooking – especially the sweet spice kind. But I must confess I don’t like to work too hard at it.

The result is Alice’s Sweet Spice Corn Bread. This is an easy recipe. An almost but not quite ready-made recipe that begins with a box and ends with a fragrant kitchen and a non-yeast bread that partners very well with other holiday flavors.

Start with two eggs and a third-cup of milk. Beat them together in a small bowl and set aside. To a separate larger bowl add an 8.5-ounce box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Maybe there are other brands that will work but inexpensive Jiffy is what I’ve always used.

Now for my added personal touch. Into the corn muffin/bread mix – whisk two tablespoons of brown sugar – light or dark as you prefer. Add one teaspoon of cinnamon and a half-teaspoon of nutmeg plus a quarter-teaspoon of allspice. That’s the sweet spice part.

Add the egg-and-milk mix to the corn bread-spices mix. Whisk some more but not too much – only until everything is moistened. Otherwise the bread will turn out tough and we don’t want tough bread. We just want to be tough cookies. Please forgive the lame kitchen humor.

You’re not quite done yet. Fold in a handful or two of raisins or dried cranberries. I prefer dried cranberries. Chopped dates or dried blueberries are other possibilities. For Christmas I add candied fruit – the kind my mother used in her actually delicious fruitcake. But not too much candied fruit. It’s heavy and can keep the bread from rising.

Let the batter sit for four minutes or so. Meanwhile coat a 3.5 by 7.5 inch loaf pan well with nonstick spray. Add the batter. I like to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Colored sugars are another festive holiday choice. Don’t use too much or it. Just a sprinkling.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Try not to over-bake it.

Now for my Special Serving Suggestion. To make your bread look just like mine in the photo. Drop it on the floor. Make sure nobody’s watching. Pick it up quickly. Dust it off. Place it on a pretty holiday plate. Serve with a smile.

This recipe first appeared in my newsletter – Orr What? News – which features free books and other giveaways too. If you’d like to receive future issues free by eMail – go to my website and sign up. Click here to do that http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

Alice Orr

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense SeriesA holiday bargain for just 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC. Enjoy!

The Tooth of the Matter – Orr What? Wednesday (on Thursday)

My Feet 5-5-15I was aware all of a sudden that I was about to pass into a life-wrenching experience. Let’s refer to this experience as Extreme Dental Modification or EDM for short.

This EDM period would require mass quantities of money or a plethora of plastic accompanied by a crush of credit fees. This was the first life wrench to anticipate and it’s a big one.

The financial threat was scary but – for the sake of honesty – I must confess my true terror. In this world and maybe especially in this culture we are schooled to be vain. I never missed a single one of those classes. EDM would threaten my vanity big time.

My surgeon told me to expect a three to four month window for procedures and healing. Three to four months? That’s not a window – it’s a crater blown out of the wall of my life. Including the entire holiday season. My favorite time of year and full of socializing – face to face.

“Okay, Alice. Calm down,” I told myself. “No need to add angina to the mix.” Still I could feel the quips sprouting about liquefied turkey for Thanksgiving and cookie crumbs for Christmas. I envisioned our blender in burnout mode. I also envisioned myself in the mirror.

That was the true terror. The look of the thing. Alice as desiccated apple doll. Plus no lipstick. Lipstick would call attention. But I love lipstick. Especially in fall when I switch to scarlet. I not only wouldn’t be able to wear scarlet lipstick – I wouldn’t be able to say scarlet lipstick.

I resolved that the only visual anyone would see of me for the next four months is the accompanying one. Note the scarlet toenails. Then the dentist walked in – not the scalpel-toting surgeon – the common sense toting dentist. He said the most amazing thing.

“I think we should consider going another way.” In that instant the story changed. The future was once again bright as the star atop our Christmas tree and the sheen of my toothy grin.

Don’t you just love endings with a twist and a hero dentist and the villain EDM vanquished? Not to mention the scarlet lipstick.

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

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn  – coming soon – is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Villain for Vanessa will be Book 3.

All of my titles are available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.

 

Binge Watching and Binge Reading – Riverton Road Monday

Alice's Nancy Drew TitleI not only love writing series. I also love reading series. This love affair began in my childhood Nancy Drew Books days. Of course reading under the covers with a flashlight. What better way could there be to experience The Secret of the Old Clock?

Did you know I wrote a Nancy Drew once just for the thrill of being Carolyn Keene for a month or two? It went to #2 on the kids’ bestseller list. Talk about fulfilling a childhood dream. I loved doing it. But I only wrote one. I don’t know why since I enjoyed being a teen again.

The title by the way was Danger in Disguise – and I’m flabbergasted to find it still available. D in D is even an eBook though I wrote it long before that format existed. If you don’t believe me – check this out. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HB62LKI.

I digress. Because what I’ve really been thinking about is how binge television-watching may be conditioning all of us to be ripe for binge book reading too. As in series – series – and more series. This is great news for writers. But it’s great news for readers also.

When I get my teeth into a story that carries me along lickety-split and absorbs me with its absorbing characters – it puts me in a foul mood to read THE END. I want to stick with this story. Most of all I want to stick with this experience. I want to be carried along and absorbed some more.

We’re all getting a succulent taste of this these days via television series. Look at the excitement accompanying anticipation of every new Downton Abbey season. In fact some of us have been so afflicted with separation trauma at season’s end that we binge the whole thing again.

We not only binge that preceding season – we often return to previous seasons and binge those too. Some of us even search out full seasons of Upstairs Downstairs just so we can remain in that delicious Brit place of “Blimey” and “Egad.”

We have been captured. We have been seduced. We have been immersed. We have lived in that delightful though obviously idealized milieu for episode after episode and we can’t stand to leave it. That milieu is what I’ve written about in previous posts as “the world of the series.”

We not only want to spend a bit of watcher time there. If the truth were told – many of us would love to live there and fantasize doing so. I’ve heard there are Downton Abbey parties where people dress in pre- or post-World War I posh and affect lock-jawed nasal accents.

My granny was British and tried to make me British as well so I’m all for this. She and I would have tea at four with little sandwiches and cookies – or biscuits as she called them. She taught me conversation. First I’d talk then she’d talk while I listened instead of itching to talk again myself. Those were the rules.

I digress yet again because what I’m really all for is the long game of story-loving and storytelling. This is the antidote to the here-this-nanosecond-gone-the-next attention span. Or maybe it debunks the myth of that phenomenon. Maybe the internet and the screened device haven’t rendered us all incapable of long-haul commitment after all.

My vote goes with debunking the short-span myth and hanging on to my devices too. What glass-half-empty person said we can’t have it all anyway? I’m definitely down with the have-it-all faction – for my stories if nothing else. I say old chap. Might you jolly well feel the same?

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

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn  – coming soon – is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Villain for Vanessa will be Book 3.

All of my titles are available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.

 

Write It Down – Ask Alice Saturday

Idea LampQuestion. What is your biggest mistake as a writer?  Answer. Sometimes I don’t write important things down.

 I know this has happened to you too because it happens to everybody. You have a knock-your-socks-off idea. It’s so good you are blown away. You can hardly believe this super great fortune has been given to you.

What has been given is a thing of perfect beauty and elegant symmetry. Best of all – it is just right for you and what you need to accomplish. I call it the Idea from Heaven. Because nothing short of paradise could deliver such a priceless gem.

This concept has struck you so deeply and moved you so profoundly you are certain beyond any possible uncertainty it has imprinted on your psyche forever. All the same you know you should write it down immediately.

But for some reason – often fairly trivial – that notetaking moment isn’t altogether convenient at this particular moment in time. You don’t intend to put it off for long – only until whatever you’re into right now is out of the way.

Besides – this is the Idea from Heaven. The bolt of lightning that has zigzagged across the deepest blue of blue skies. You absolutely will not forget it… Except you do forget it.

You look for it – maybe only minutes later – and it is gone gone gone. You search and search. You employ every memory jogger trick and technique you’ve ever heard of but all you can recall is the feeling.

All that remains is a whiff of the euphoria this once-in-what-feels-like-forever idea carried with it. Everything else has disappeared – evaporated – turned invisible like the words on those plastic-faced pads I had when I was a kid.

Maybe you had one too. You write or draw or doodle on the surface. Then you pull off the plastic covering and every mark goes with it. Finito forever. The true tabula rasa.

This is what happened to the notion that was bound to catapult you to the stars but has now flitted off – like a fickle tease – to another imagination never to return. Brain science may have a theory or twelve about this phenomenon. Or maybe the universe if just screwing with you.

Whatever the explanation the upshot is always the same – at least for me. I’m plunged into mourning. The Kubler-Ross five stages of adjusting to great loss lie ahead. And it is all my fault because all I had to do was write the damned words down. But I did not.

This happens to me less these days. I’ve learned to value these brainstorms as I do the ornaments that festoon the branches of my holiday tree. Those ornaments were made by my grandchildren and I accord them the love and attention and tender care they deserve.

I write my brainstorms down – even if I have to resort to my Idea Lamp. Because the goddess of creativity is a jealous gal and if I don’t do due diligence when gifted by her – she will get me good.

So – WRITE IT DOWN. And always remember that the only thing worse than great loss is those blankity-blank five stages of grief.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

                                                                             RR

 My eBook A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – is FREE online. My 13th novel   A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available too. Find them both – along with my other titles – at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E. I wrote their ideas down.

 

 

Ginny Gives Us the Skinny – Riverton Road Monday

Interview with Ginny Simmons at Ginny’s Coffee Corner in Riverton NY

Go Confidently Mug on DeskCurious Questioner: Excuse me, Ginny. I understand you own this place. Could we possibly sit down for a minute and talk?

Ginny Simmons: We can talk, honey. But I hardly ever sit down. Why don’t you just try to keep up while I take care of my paying customers?

CQ (Hurrying after Ginny between pink and white booths as she refills mugs from the carafe in her hand.): What’s it like to be a woman running a business in a town like Riverton?

GS: Good morning darlin. (Ginny bends over a table while the man she’s greeted with a smile and a wink stares as if in a trance at her ample cleavage.)You just let me know if there’s anything else you need.

CQ (Still shadowing Ginny as she leaves that table and steps back to survey the room with booths along one side and a counter along the other.): Do you always flirt with your customers like that?

GS: Honey, you asked me what it’s like to be a woman doing business in this town. My business is hospitality and most of the people who come in here in the morning are men on their way to a long day of working hard. My job is to put a little lift in their step and a big smile on their faces.

CQ: And they know there’s nothing more to it than that?

GS (Turning with a hand on her hip toward CQ): Well, honey. If they don’t, they aren’t old enough or smart enough to be drinking anything with caffeine in it.

CQ: I’ve heard you know a man named Gus Kalli. Is he old enough and smart enough?

GS (Starts to walk away then doesn’t.) Gus Kalli is more than enough of just about everything. But most of all he’s more than enough of a man to take care of his family. Those four handsome hunks of son he has couldn’t have a better father than Gus. He’s been known to take in strays too, kids and even adults who need the kind of family that gives a hoot what happens to you. His wife Angela’s a good sort too. If she wasn’t, I might take a run at Gus myself. But she is, so I won’t. You can quote me on that.

CQ: It’s my understanding that the Kalli’s have been in the middle of serious trouble more than once. The kind of trouble that has go do with murder. What do you think about that?

GS: Well there, honey. It seems to me you shouldn’t talk about understanding much of anything if you don’t know life’s got trouble in it for everybody, here in Riverton and everyplace else in this world. You’ve just got to have what it takes to stand up on your hind legs and take care of business. The way the Kalli’s always do and the way I’m going to do right now.

GS flashes a smile and a wink before leaving CQ behind and moving on to the two gentlemen in the next booth): Good morning sweethearts. What can I do for you today?

RR

 A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O, This is Alice’s 13th novel. Stop on over for a cuppa at Ginny’s Coffee Corner and a good read too. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

Win a mug like the one in the picture above by sending an email to aliceorrbooks@gmail.com that says “I want to have a cuppa with Alice.”

 

I Can Go Home Again – Riverton Road Monday

Alice at SRWA Workshop - August 1994I was in Saratoga Springs this past weekend. More specifically I was in the North Country where I grew up and where I’ve set my first romantic suspense novel series. I’ve been writing this series for months now but I haven’t been back north physically or geographically or emotionally in quite some time.

Those trips I did make were mostly to campuses and groups of other writers from other locales. Or I’d be staying with somebody I’d known a long time. Actually visiting the small town of my friend’s individual life – more than I was visiting the landscape surrounding that life or the general presence of the people who live there and make it what it is.

This trip was different. I was generously hosted by Joyce – a lovely lady I’d previously met but didn’t know well. Staying at her comfortable home gave me distance from the intense personal involvement and long-shared personal history that usually accompany my North Country jaunts.

Yet there we were – Joyce and I – in her kitchen until almost 1 a.m. talking about some very personal details of our very personal lives. That’s pretty much characteristic behavior in our pocket of the northeast. We cleave fairly close fairly fast and – on short acquaintance – trust each other with intimate details of our lives. At least we women do.

Even beyond that delightful person-to-person sharing the trip was an extraordinary experience. Despite the brevity of my time back home I remembered – both on the surface and deep down – what it feels like to be where I was born and raised. Where I became so much of what constitutes the human being I am.

Then all of a sudden I was in the middle of a group of authors who are another deep part of back home for me.  We share a passion for writing but much more than that. They come from where I come from. Most of us grew up there. We know the weather and the character of the place and the character of each other.

That afternoon I remembered how I feel a certain amount more at ease among people I share so much with underneath whatever surface differences there may be in our individual lives. I also remembered how much I like the people I come from. How much I in fact love them.

I’ve been a lot of places since I was last really back home. This past weekend brought me out of that away-ness and those other places just long enough and profoundly enough for me to feel all the way inside the North Country again.

I can’t tell you how much all of this means to me on several levels that run straight to the center of my heart. Except I guess I have just told you. I re-read this post and find myself stumbling around my mind in search of a way to bring you inside with me. Inside my Riverton stories which are the subject of these Monday meanderings.

Of course Riverton is back home and this past weekend I discovered I truly can go home again. Not only in the pages of my stories but on an Amtrak train as well. Up the gorgeous Hudson River at sunset to a place where when I’m bound to go there – gracious and giving North Country folk are bound to take me in.

Special thanks to Sally Booth and Saratoga Romance Writers – SRWA – for our years together. That’s us in the photo in 1994. Thanks for this past weekend too. I hope I can keep coming up with pretexts to travel north and regale you with what’s on my mind at the time until you’re terminally sick of me. May that malady not afflict you any time soon.

RR

A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Officially launches with summer on June 22nd but is already available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. This is my 13th novel and it’s all North Country all the time. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

How to Knock Their Socks Off on Page One – Ask Alice Saturday

Socks Knocked Off imageQuestion: How do I write an opening that knocks their socks off?

Answer: Let’s talk about openings that keep the footwear solidly in place.

This is my second “Ask Alice Saturday” post about story openings. This should tell you how critical I believe they are. This is also “Ask Alice Saturday” happening on Friday because I’m on the road tomorrow debuting a new workshop called WE’VE GOT THE POWER: How Choice Changes Everything about Publishing Today. Wouldn’t it be great to see you there?

Back to story openings. First there’s the nineteenth century standby – the weather. Contemporary writers too often forget what millennium we’re in and default to this outdated opener. As a general rule weather is a non-starter start – a wheel spinner – a bore.

UNLESS – the weather is actually foreshadowing. A haunting hint at what’s to come that sets the reader on edge. OR – a blatant contrast with what’s to come that sets the reader up to be shocked and surprised. In each of these cases there’s a plot purpose for the meteorological beginning. Otherwise it’s just – ho hum – the weather.

Ho hum no-no number two. Transportation scenes. On a plane or in a car are the transportation alternatives most popular with writers. Unfortunately cars and planes are confined spaces. This dooms your opening scene to a static bit of non-business. Talk talk talk and little action.

UNLESS – the vehicle is involved in a chase. OR – is about to crash. OR – is being hijacked. OR – is the setting of a truly traumatic character interaction. All of these are high tension situations that serve the purposes of a taut story line.

A high tension situation gives your story and your reader a slam bang start. Slam bang is the pace to pursue when crafting the opener for any piece of writing – fiction or nonfiction. Start slam-bang into the middle of things where the action is for fiction. Start slam-bang into a high interest anecdote for nonfiction.

Don’t ease us in. Drop us in. Straight to the thick of things before we have a chance to get away. Or put the book back on the bookstore shelf. Or stick the magazine back on the newsstand rack. Or switch the device to a different screen. Hook us into intensity before we can make any of those dismissive moves.

Do this and we’ll be hanging on your every word and hungry for more. Plus we won’t want to walk away and leave our knocked-off socks behind.

RR

A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launches with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and by the end of the Prologue you just might be barefoot. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

 

Gramma’s Dandelion Wine

I don’t know how my proper English grandmother would feel about being represented by a recipe for spirits. I found it in her notebook recorded in a lovely but substantial hand. Substantial enough to be read many decades after it was written.

The ink is faded of course. Real ink like the kind that used to come in bottles and inkwells. The pages are soft with age and worn off at the corners. I touch them carefully for fear they will disintegrate into powder.

The pasteboard covers are separating at the spine. The original brown was probably dark but is now a dusky shade. She wrote “Cook Book – Mrs. Boudiette – 467 Holley Street – Watertown NY” on that cover – referring to herself in properly modest fashion without her first name.

This inscription tells me something about the age of the notebook. Grandma lived on Holley Street long before they moved to the tall brown house on West Main where I spent the happiest hours of my childhood with her in her kitchen during the 1940’s.

I run my finger over the letters she wrote. My hand touching the place where her hand had been. She died when I was only seven years and three days old but she has been deeply entrenched in me ever since. Everything good that has happened in my life began somehow with Gramma.

Only two dates are eMe & Grandma Gardeningntered in her notebook. November 1, 1927 after her recipe for Apple Jam. March 9, 1931 on the page with Tasty Salad.

Other entries include “How to Remove Ink from Clothes” and “Receip for Tanning Hides.” Bless you Gramma for that.

And here is her Dandelion Wine.

Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette’s Dandelion Wine (In Her Own Words)

 6 quarts fresh heads of dandelion blossoms in stone jar or granite. 1 gallon hot water poured on the blossoms. Put aside for 3 days and nights, then strain through a cloth. Now add 3 pounds sugar, juice of 2 lemons and 3 oranges. Add one-half yeast cake. Pour mixture into a stone jar and let it stand 4 days and nights. Then strain again through a cloth. Bottle. Let stand in bottles with corks set in loose until it stops working. Otherwise it will blow off or break bottles. After it stops working cork tightly and store where cool.

Shared by Alice Jane’s Granddaughter — February 21, 2015 – The picture is of me and Gramma in her garden when I was two and a half years old. Find my books at amazon.com/author/aliceorr.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.