Tag Archives: FamilyStory

A #Holiday #Gift and Greeting for You

FROM THE ORR HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE

seasons-greetings-1Happy Happy Merry Merry.

Here is my Christmas/Hannukah gift for you. A Free eBook copy of A Villain for Vanessa at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1533185050. “I was gripped before I was off the first page.” That’s what one reviewer says. I hope you will agree.

More important, dear friends, it is the most blessed season of the year, and at the Orr house we’re feeling grateful for the grace and good will that have carried us through the past twelve months to this present good moment.

Jonathan and I continue to enjoy our cozy city apartment and to run Orr and Orr Contracting with Jonathan as Project Manager and me as CFO. I continue to write romantic suspense novels with A Time of Fear & Loving – Book 5 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series, in progress. We are both glad to be productive and doing work we love.

Our family remains our abiding joy. We will all be together here at Christmas and my birthday on the day after. An added blessing is granddaughter Maya nearby as a freshman at NYU. If we could only get grandson Julian to the city as well, this would be entirely paradise. Meanwhile, daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Luis live just blocks from us, and son Ed and daughter-in-law Deborah aren’t far away in Boston.

Our friends are beloved sustenance as always. We feel privileged to have each of you in our lives. And, finally, our faith lives embrace us and remind us to dwell in gratitude, kindness and love.

We look forward to a new year in the light and wish you, your friends and family joy, contentment and heartfuls of the truest satisfaction life can afford.

Love and Blessings. Alice

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com – Delicious Suspense Spiced with a Love Story.

Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4 – A Villain for Vanessa and Book 1 – A Wrong Way Home – A FREE eBOOK – are both available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Plots Thicken in Mom’s Kitchen – Riverton Road Monday

Bad Mom imageMaybe this is a backhanded way to celebrate post-Mother’s Day. But I can’t help pointing out what great story complications can grow from the seeds of mother-child relationships.

In my workshops on writing mystery and suspense I often mention that there’d be far fewer fictional serial killers if it weren’t for fictional mothers screwing up their sons. Not at all fair to real life mom’s but we’re talking about make believe mom’s.

My favorite example is the super crazy and super delusional villain of Thomas Harris’s The Red Dragon. I don’t believe a writer must provide readers with a reason to like or even sympathize with an evil character. I do believe the writer must give us a way to understand the character.

A brief flashback scene does exactly that in The Red Dragon. A scene in a pantry between then young Francis Dolarhyde and his mother. The details are too gruesome to recount here. I will say that after reading this scene we recognize the genesis of the monster adult Francis to come.

The mothers in my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series are nothing like the Red Dragon mom. But they generate story complications anyway. That’s the role of secondary characters. To complicate plot and add more obstacles the main characters must climb over to succeed.

In the first book of my series A Wrong Way Home the heroine Kara’s mother is no longer around. Still she remains a stumbling block from the past that intensifies Kara’s struggle to come to grips with the present.

The hero Matt’s mother Angela is a continuing character. She’s the matriarch of the Kalli family at the center of the series. I want readers to be drawn to her and empathize with her. But if she’s totally likable she won’t work for the story in terms of causing conflict for other characters.

Angela is a strong woman – mostly in ways we admire and her son loves her dearly. On the other hand – in a past incident he knows nothing about – Angela overstepped a boundary she should have respected. Matt and Kara are now paying the price of his mother’s intrusiveness.

BUT – the story is stronger because of it. More conflicted. More complicated. Creating more trouble for the characters we care most about. Thank heaven for conflict/complication/struggle producing mama’s.  (Find A Wrong Way Home at www.amazon.com/author/aliceorr.)

And wait until you see the plot twists two of these mothers come up with in Book 2.

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 there are moms thickening the plot for sure. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

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

 

 

A Handsome Hunk of Beef – Orr What? Wednesday

A Recipe for Writers (But civilians can try it too)

Jonathan fixes the fence - small imageThis is my husband Sweet Jonathan – foxy at the fence. The recipe is one of his favorite dishes other than me of course. I can smell it slow cooking now. Set up in the early a.m. so I can simply flip the switch later on. In between – because I’m a writer – I compose a sexy scene. Handwritten for a more sensual experience.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 3 pound bottom round roast (or another cut if you prefer).
  • 1 large onion peeled and cut in half-inch slices
  • 1 ½ tsp. each cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 1 cup beef broth or bouillon

Instructions:

  • Mix together cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Wash beef in water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub beef all over with cinnamon etc. mix.
  • Heat olive oil in skillet to sizzling. Brown beef on all sides 2 minutes per side.
  • Place onion slices in a layer to cover the bottom of your crockpot/slow cooker.
  • Place browned beef on top of onion slices.
  • Combine onion soup mix with broth or bouillon.
  • Pour over beef in crockpot/slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 6 hours.
  • [Optional – Add peeled potatoes and carrots cut in large chunks halfway through cooking time.]

This is an author-easy recipe that pleases all the senses with its deep dark aroma – juicy tender texture – reassuring sizzle – and rich reddish-brown color. Plus it tastes delicious. At least that’s what my own handsome hunk (see photographic evidence) Sweet Jonathan thinks. Try it on somebody you love soon and please let me know what they think of this Recipe for Writers.

 GOOD NEWS!!!This post is part of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. Which means there’s a prize in store. A free copy of the ebook version of A Wrong Way Home for one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post. So Comment Away and Win a Read.  Alice

RR

A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1

Going home can be dangerous…

Kara Cartwright returns to her hometown the same night Anthony Benton is murdered. But she doesn’t know anything about that. She only knows she vowed never to come back to Riverton, New York or to see Matt Kalli – the man she once loved and still lusts for.

Matt has made a vow of his own. He’ll never forgive Kara, the woman who loved him then betrayed him nine years ago. And he can’t forgive himself for the way she’s stuck in his heart – and in other parts of his body too.

All these two have in common is sexual attraction and their hatred of Anthony Benton. Now Benton’s dead and people they care deeply about are suspects. That gives Matt and Kara something else in common – a dangerous search for the real killer before he murders again.

A Wrong Way Home is Book #1 in The Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family & others who find safety & a warm welcome at Kalli Corner on Riverton Road. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book #2 in the series and launches on May 15th.

 

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

 

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.

My First Fiction in 16 Years

Before my new suspense-romance novel A Wrong Way Home came out, I’d published eleven novels and two novellas. But that was a fairly long time in the past. In fact, the last of those fiction books appeared sixteen years ago.

First GrandchildThat time period has special significance for me. Sixteen years ago, my first grandchild was born. One look at her, and I fell in love, so deep I could no longer write fiction. For me, creating stories came from that same deep place, and now that place was otherwise occupied.

I’d been a publishing author and a very busy literary agent for a long time by then. I’d enjoyed both of those roles immensely. But this new incarnation was a whole different level of pleasure altogether. There was only one thing I could do. I gave up my publishing world careers and became a professional grandma.

I’ve never regretted that choice for a moment, and now I have another reason to be happy I made it. I spent most of those sixteen years immersed in my family. They became the thing I cared about most and knew best. It’s not surprising that my new novels are all about family, too.

My Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series tells the stories of the Kalli family — specifically, the stories of the four handsome Kalli brothers. At the heart of everything they do, and a lot of what they’re conflicted about, is their family. It was the same with our family.

We didn’t have murders to contend with like the Kalli boys do, but we did have tempestuous times, especially between me and the love of my own life. I like to call him Sweet Jonathan, except when I might be entertaining some murderous fantasies myself.

We are very much in love all the same, just like the couples I write about on Riverton Road are very much in love. So, you might say I didn’t really leave my storytelling life behind during those sixteen years. I was just doing research.

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

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com