Tag Archives: CareerAdvice

How My Heroine Rescued My Writing Career #MFRWauthor #ASMSG #WriterWednesday

Candle imageFor years, I’d 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.

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 Book 5 in my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series titled A Time of Fear and Loving (available September 16, 2017 – see below).

“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.

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

RR

A Time of Fear and Loving will debut on Saturday, September 16th, my 45th wedding anniversary. A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Going to Ground

Question: Where have you been Alice?

Answer: There are times we cannot – and should not – work or write.

Animal in burrow imageWith animals we call it going to ground. They burrow in somewhere out of the flow of their usual lives to rest and heal because rest and healing are required. People go to ground too. We also experience times when recuperation – physical and mental and spiritual – is more crucial than work. Even more crucial than our precious writing work.

This has happened recently to two writer friends and myself for different reasons. I’ll begin with the stories of my writer friends.

In Elizabeth Meyette’s Blog she recently wrote. “I have abandoned the manuscript I’ve been working on for over a year. Making the decision to abandon my draft came after much soul-searching and feedback…” Loss takes us to ground. Elizabeth’s words are a gracious understatement of what she’s lost.

All of us who write understand this. We live with our stories as close companions that preoccupy our hearts and minds and reside in our souls. For a writer the loss of a story is almost as deeply felt as the death of a friend. Mourning is required when we’re forced to set aside such a relationship.

The places within Elizabeth – or any of us – once occupied by that story must refill and come back to life. Until then healing and loving self-care are needed. My hope is that one day her story will return more rich and full than ever and more rewarding too.

My other friend is also a talented writer. Irene Peterson has interrupted her work while she devotes her efforts to someone else. My favorite book by Irene is Glory Days. My favorite aspect of Irene is her giving heart.

She has slowed her writing roll to become caretaker to her husband who suffered a serious injury. How many of us have been halted by similar commitments to help others in our lives? Whether it is for partners or children or aging parents or friends. We recognize the need and sacrifice our time and our energy and our work as Irene has done.

My personal work obstacle is more mundane than Elizabeth’s or Irene’s. I caught a cold that progressed to laryngitis and a wracking cough which won’t let me sleep at night. Medications fog my brain. For days turning to weeks I’ve gone to ground. My comeback is on its way but in the meantime healing is my priority.

Whether the healing is our own or someone else’s we must make room for it to happen until our bodies and our lives return to us the capacity for working and writing again. Until we’re able to emerge into the light of the page once more. I wish us all Godspeed with that.

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

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at My Amazon Author Page.

Let’s All Be Free at Last – Ask Alice Saturday

Celebration image 5Question: It’s Independence Day. What do you want to be free of as a writer?

Answer: I wish for myself and all of my writer friends to free ourselves from the tyranny of our expectations.

I launched a book several days ago. Yet my celebration of that accomplishment is shadowed by my disappointment with myself. What did I not do well enough? What did I do too much?

I’m not saying a thorough debrief isn’t called for at the end of any major undertaking. Of course we should evaluate. Of course we should learn from our mistakes.

What I am saying is this. I find myself and too many other writers failing to congratulate our achievements. Failing to say – “I did that just right.” Or even – “I did that just right enough.”

Someone else had to remind me. “Look how far you’ve come in the past year. Look how much you’ve learned.” Typically I responded with a litany of my sins of omission. The things I’d left undone.

I was altogether wrong in that. A backward glance was in order. As I have absolutely no doubt it is also in order for you. Where were you a year ago today? Where was your career twelve months in the past?

Stop a moment right now. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Cast yourself back a year. Ask yourself this question. “A year ago what were the 3 things I most wanted to accomplish in my writing career?”

Don’t overthink it. Let your first 3 thoughts be your best 3 thoughts. Write each down and leave a generous space blank after it. Put the paper aside and come back here with me for a bit.

In my opinion the worst of our sins of omission is committed when we fail to relish our experience. Stop another moment now and consider what it is we do. We set down words in a configuration that is brand new. Entirely our own creation.

We invent stories. We articulate thoughts. We build pictures from syllables. And if we are doing these precious activities as we should – we enjoy most of it.

This is a gift we’ve been given. A gift worthy of recognition and reveling. When we fail to do so we’ve fallen victim to the tyranny of our own expectations. We have forgotten to honor what we did accomplish by wallowing in what we haven’t yet accomplished.

Return to the piece of paper and your 3 hopeful ambitions for the year just past. After each one record every step you’ve taken along the path to that goal. The short steps – the long strides – the hops and hobbles in between. I’ll do it with you.

Fill the blank spaces. Carry onto the back of the page and across the desk and up the wall. Crowding the room with a record of our writerly deeds. We’ll read them over. Recognize and revel. Then we will have triumphed over tyranny and be free at last. Happy Independence Day.

RR

My current novel is A Year of Summer Shadows – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 2 – available in eBook and paperback at amazon.com/author/aliceorr and other outlets online. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – will be free for download soon at those same outlets. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I set myself free at last to honor them both. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

How I Marketed My New Book – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: How did you go about promoting your new book?

Answer: I developed a Modulated Marketing Plan. I’ll share it with you?

Shout Out imageFirst I established a couple of basic principles. I discovered they are basic with me anyway. Maybe they’ll feel basic for you too.

Do what you’re most comfortable with at the beginning when you’re searching for your rhythm and your groove. Accelerate at your own pace after that. Don’t ever panic. This is three principles rather than a couple – the trio I kept in my consciousness all the way through.

What was most comfortable for me was to write blog pieces. I learned the art of the brief blog entry when I was down-for-the-count for a while with cancer and drugs had shortened my attention span. An editor friend taught me to write short and my blogging career was born.

More recently a well-organized friend got me on a three-posts-a-week schedule. This is Ask Alice Saturday of that schedule. I’m comfortable here so I created Riverton Road Monday too – named after my series – and the first phase of my marketing plan fell easily into place.

Meanwhile the initial step of accelerating at my own pace was to look at what I was already doing that had a marketing angle. For example – what was I doing on social media?

My granddaughter put me on Facebook in the same bedridden period I mention above. I wanted to keep in touch – especially with other writers. Facebook was a comfort zone that turned into a visibility place for me and my books. Though I learned early not to direct market much.

Twitter was another thing entirely. All those postoids streaming past bewildered me until a writer friend turned my on to TweetDeck. Suddenly the incomprehensible stream sorted itelf into manageable lists. I love Twitter now. Though I keep direct marketing at a minimum there too.

Let me speak about indirect marketing. What you’re selling/branding on these media is you. I try to be my best authentic self. My most positive me. If people are attracted to that person – maybe they’ll also want to read my books. Which I do market more directly for a bit at launch time.

Next I got a new website. My old one was about me in a former incarnation. This one is about me in my new incarnation – as a full-time writer. I hired good help and found a visual image I felt represented who I am now. You can check out the results at www.aliceorrbooks.com.

A newsletter is the latest step in my modulated plan. Research told me I like the Debbie Macomber model. Personable. Low-keyed. Not very sexual. The first issue comes out next week. Go to my website address above and sign up if you’d like to see my newsletter too. You could win a replica of my favorite coffee mug in my first-ever giveaway. “Have a Cuppa with Alice.”

This plus some Guest Blogging is most of my marketing so far. A media savvy friend says YouTube is next. That makes me shiver in my summer sandals. But the third principle of my modulated plan is never to panic. Let’s just say I need to work on that one.

RR

 A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 2 – officially launches THIS COMING MONDAY – JUNE 22nd! At http://www.amazon.com /dp/B00ZBOTH5O and lots of other places. This is my 13th novel and I thank heaven for my Modulated Marketing Plan. Feel free to make it your plan too – adapted to the comfort level and pace that’s right for you. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

 

 

Your Place of Maximum Possibility – Orr What? Wednesday

Sky's the Limit imageMy grandmother used to say “Always put your best foot forward.” She could have been speaking to anyone who hopes to be published today. I’m speaking to that very audience and as Grandma’s good girl I say “Always approach publishing from your place of maximum possibility.”

“Where is that place?” you might ask. Your maximum possibility resides in three venues. Today I address the first and what I consider the foremost of those – your writing work. I’ll get to the other two later.

To be in your place of maximum possibility for finding a traditional publisher or a readership as an independent publisher – you must write the very best work you have in you. The very best novel. The very best memoir. The very best nonfiction book. The very best story or article. That YOU have in YOU.

Anything less than your very best won’t be good enough to get you where you want to go in this extremely competitive media environment. On the traditional side agents and editors have piles of pages and a plenitude of digital submissions to select from when it comes to what they will represent or acquire.

“Choose me. Choose me” every eager writer cries. Your voices and mine are among them.

On the independent side readers have a multitude of eBooks and even indie published print books to choose from. We talk a lot about discoverability in the indie community. Those conversations have lurking beneath them our own cries of “Choose me. Choose me” as well.

Whatever your publishing medium choice may be the central question is the same. How do I emerge as one of the chosen? You write something absolutely bang-on terrific. That’s how.

You do that by getting your writer self into study mode. Study authors who are doing it right already. Study books on writing craft that can help you hone your own. Grab most tightly onto the tomes with lots of hands-on exercises. Do those exercises with your current writing project in mind. Because you must take what you learn and practice – practice – practice.

This also means going back to school. Find a writing course taught by somebody who truly knows how to teach. Listen to the jungle drums of student comment to know who that good teacher is. Then don’t miss a single class or blow off a single assignment. Take criticism with gratitude and run with it straight to the best writing you have in you.

Polish your writing until it’s a brilliant gem that will shine like a beacon to light your way from here. Because as you hold this writing gem in your hand and heart – you’ve reached the first great milestone without which the rest of your author aspirations cannot happen. You and your very best work have entered your own Personal Place of Maximum Possibility. And Grandma is really proud of you as am I.

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 I wrote it from my place of maximum possibility. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

How Far You Can Go – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 3 – Orr What Wednesday

Road Runner imageRefresher Course. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 1 – Work Your Butt Off. I told you about a high time I had with a long table full of clients back in my agent days. High in every respect because we were in a revolving restaurant at the top of a fancy hotel. And I got there by working my butt off.

Refresher Continued. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Do Everything Right. I told you about doing something crucial very wrong – my first lunch with an editor. Thank heaven she was a compassionate soul or I’d have made an even bigger fool of myself than I did. BUT I never let myself play the fool again.

Now we’re at Step 3. Which takes me back to the beginning when I had the wild idea to become a literary agent – my previous profession before becoming a full-time writer. Please forgive me if I digress to tell you where that brainstorm bright light epiphany idea came from.

I’d been enjoying a good run as an in-house book editor. I edited mystery novels – intense and demanding – no loose ends allowed. And Regency Romance novels – fun fun and more fun. So I had a good work balance going. Except for one thing. I was employed as an editor but I had the soul of a writer.

An editor’s job is to serve the interests of the publisher she works for. High – perhaps highest – among those interests is contract negotiation. The editor is supposed to get the writer to sign on the line for the least money and the most punitive terms possible. Sorry if that offends anyone. I don’t edit or write for a publishing house any more so I can be straight-from-the-hip all the way.

My main personal problem as an editor was my gift for contract negotiation. For some reason – probably my genetic gift of gab – I could whittle authors and their agents down down and down some more. But I didn’t like myself for doing it. So I decided to switch teams and use my negotiating skills on behalf of writers instead.

Then somebody told me I needed a Business Plan. “Why do I need a business plan?” I asked. “In case you have to go to the bank for a business loan,” was the answer. I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with a bank that would trust me with their money at that tenuous point in my agent life. But I worried myself over the plan thing anyway.

I bought books at my favorite indie store – long-since gone. I researched in the library. This was back when we still did that. I checked out the internet too. What I found were basically templates and templates didn’t say much to me about what I wanted to accomplish in my career.

The truth was – at that point – I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to accomplish in my career. That lack of knowledge became the saving and the making of me as a businesswoman. I didn’t lock myself into specifics because I had no idea what they should be.

A single sentence popped into my head. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I wrote it on a sheet of paper and hung it on my office wall. That sentence turned out to be the brainstorm bright light epiphany I needed because it made all of what came afterward an adventure.

Granted I worked my butt off and enjoyed the successes and hotel-top parties that brought me. I also did my best to do everything right and when I fell sort I learned and changed tactics. The same way I changed tactics after my editor lunch debacle. Beyond that I kept the future open and my Velcro grasp at the ready to latch onto every opportunity that came my way.

Plus – I kept on keeping on in the direction of how far I could go at the fastest pace I could manage. Because – like the Road Runner – I know that Wile E. Coyote is back there. And even though he may not be so wily – coyotes have teeth.

I leap into my new adventure as a full-time writer with all of that in mind. If you asked me what you should do I’d advise the same. Let’s all of us simply See How Far We Can Go. My experience tells me we’ll be in for a happy surprise.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launches with summer on June 22nd. as my 13th novel.  Let’s see how far it can go. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

A Kick-in-the-Butt Starter – Orr What? Wednesday

Kick in the Butt imageI haven’t been blogging much lately and here’s why. I didn’t get off my butt to do it. I was indulging myself. I needed a Kick (in the Butt) Start but I wasn’t in a kicking frame of mind.

Often when I’m doing nothing I read how-to books to create the impression I’m doing something. I finish a few chapters then they languish on my bookshelves – these days on my Kindle Book Shelf.

So I began reading How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. The title appealed for two reasons. First I need to market my new books successfully. Second I doubt I’ll be able to market my new books successfully.

I was looking for specifics from Joanna. Social media tips. Email list building ideas. That kind of thing. I didn’t think I needed her to mess with my psyche. I didn’t want her to mess with my psyche. Consequently that’s exactly what she did.

She began by snooping around in how I spend my time. I was sure I could ace that one because – even in slough-off periods like lately – I’m a hard worker. I was about to skip time management altogether when I remembered the mantra I press on everybody else to Do It Anyway and did it.

How do I spend my time now Joanna asks? Easy question. I listed my activities plus some ways to do more. When is my most creative time? Easy peasy again. Mornings. Where do I want to be in five years? I had some fantasy fun with that one.

Finally – What would I be willing to give up to make time for writing and marketing activities? I’m not going to sell the TV but I can do social media while it’s on. Then it occurred to me to modify the question. How do I indulge myself in ways I could give up to make more time?

Especially how do I indulge myself mentally? I’m going to be very honest as I answer this question here publicly. I hope I encourage you to be equally honest when you answer this question wherever you are privately.

  1. I indulge in brooding. Mostly about things I can’t possibly change. Like other people.
  2. I indulge in worry. Mostly about what’s already happened and thus also can’t be changed.
  3. I indulge in self-doubt. Mostly about what I fear I can’t do but haven’t yet tried.
  4. I indulge in anger. Toward too many irreducible targets to list.

My indulgences occur in chunks of effort and in sporadic moments. Each one is a time waster. How much productive potential would I recoup if I quit them all? There’s a kick-in-the-butt question. Or maybe it’s a kick in the head that I really need. Come on over Joanna. I’m ready.

RR

My next story is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launching with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and it’s a kick-in-the-butt story for sure. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

Social Media and You – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: What’s the most important thing to know about Social Media?Social Media image

Answer: The most important thing about Social Media and You is this. Your Presence there. Your Presence is how you Present yourself. The nature of that Presence should be a conscious – even a calculated choice.

Ask yourself this crucial question. How is it in my best interests to be seen? That means you must first ask yourself another question. Why am I on social media? What do I NEED to get out of being there? That was two questions. I know. So sue me.

Case in point. My last snarky comment – “So sue me” – might be out of sync with the way I want/need to be seen – the Presence I intend to Present. I’m on the internet mostly as a book author. I want to attract people to me. In turn I hope they’ll be attracted to my books.

I want/need to be likable/approachable/pleasant. Somebody you’d enjoy a chat with. Snark may not accomplish those ends. Snark could turn some people off and I must think about that. The point is that I must be what we now call Intentional about such choices.

You should be Intentional too. You might ask “Why bother?” And I would answer “Because of visibility.”

Social media isn’t a peephole only accessible to your chosen friends and followers. Social media is an unbelievably wide picture window. All it takes is Google and your name for anybody and everybody to look through that window at you.

They may be casual browsers or prospective employers or potential consumers of your work. What they see through the world wide web window is the Presence you Present. So you must think very seriously about what you want and need that Presence to be.

If you want/need to be seen as a political firebrand – or any brand of firebrand – rant away. If you want/need to be seen as a sex pot – vamp away. I’ve got no dog in your fight. I’m just advising you to make a savvy and considered choice regarding what breed your dog will be.

Social media as I see it isn’t a come-as-you-are party. It’s a come-as-best-suits-your-agenda party. Is that manipulative? You can bet your pugilistic pooch it is. Oops! Was that me being snarky again? Must be that’s an aspect of the Presence I intend to Present.

RR

 My next story is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launching with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and it is full to the brim with the Presence I intend to Present.  Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.