Category Archives: Storytelling

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.