Tag Archives: Heroines

Honor Your Goddesses. Mom Figures, Mates and Mentors

My friend and mentor Paula Scardamalia gave me some good advice recently via a tarot card reading. Paula and the Three of Cups reminded me to honor my goddesses, my designation for the three women pictured on that card which honors the heart, the emotions and our dreams.

I knew at once who those three women were in my life. They fit to overflowing Paula’s criteria for what they should have been for me. They were my supporters when I most needed them and have remained so ever since, even though they have passed on from this plain. They keep me from being overcome and undermined by the obstacles in my path, including myself.

Paula encouraged me to name these women and keep them present in my mind and heart, but most of all to honor them. I encourage you to do the same. Identify your goddesses, name them, honor them. I bestow that honor by writing about my three wonderful women here. I hope you will do the same for the three women who steadfastly urged you toward your light.

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfFirst always among my goddesses is Grandma. Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. She was the bright light of my first seven years and of the past twenty-seven also. I lost her, to some extent, during the forty-plus years between those early and later periods of my life. Maybe because I was bewildered by her sudden absence, hurt and even a little angry at her for leaving me in difficult circumstances with difficult people.

My mother was mentally ill. My father was overwhelmed and increasingly angry. Still, the basic principles Grandma taught me abided somehow. She was my template for how to be a good, caring person who makes the world a better place. She continues to be that model for me. I am grateful she was eventually restored to me. That’s the two of us in the garden when I was two or so.

Marilyn (Swartz) Seven was the first real friend I made after moving to New York City in 1980. I was bewildered yet again and shaken by another loss, this time of the comfortable life I had built upstate. New York was too much for me to handle, or so I thought, and I felt anything but comfortable. Then Marilyn appeared and coaxed me out of the Hell’s Kitchen apartment where I’d been cowering. “Chutzpah,” she said. “We’re going to get you some.”

She dragged me to my first MWA (Mystery Writers of America) meeting and dumped me into a conversation with Mary Higgins Clark. That was my beginner giant step into the publishing world, where I have spent my professional life ever since. We lost Marilyn too, to breast cancer. I miss her spirit and hear her enthusiastic voice in my ear to this day. Because of her, chutzpah became my thing. Thank you, Marilyn.

Artie's DeliSeli Groves called me her little sister, and I was honored by that, as I was honored to know her. Seli’s wit was always with her, lightened by gentleness and good cheer, never harsh. Her smile warmed me through and throughwhenever I was in her presence. We would meet at Artie’s Delicatessen near the corner of Broadway and 82nd Street in Manhattan. I remember sitting in the window with coleslaw and huge pickles in front of us.

Seli was forever teaching me, though never pompously, about life, about people, about writing and publishing. She taught me about Judaism too, and brought me to love its traditions. Of my own religion, she’d say, “Jesus was a good Jewish boy. He went to temple on Shabbat and took care of his mother.” I said Kaddish for her in my imperfect shiksa way every day for a year after her death. I wish I could sit with her in the deli window again and laugh and learn.

These three women, so different from one another in the way they appeared to the world, are together as one in my heart. They blessed me mightily, and I shall honor them as long as I live.

Alice Orr – http:aliceorrbooks.com

AO

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Nobody’s Lukewarm about Kara – Riverton Road Monday

AliceOrr_AWrongWayHome_POD[1][1]I’m not used to readers reacting ambivalently toward my heroines – much less getting upset with them. But that is precisely what’s happening with Kara – the heroine of my 13th novel A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1.

Ordinarily I don’t think I’d have minded much. Except Kara is – now that I think about it – a lot like me. She’s headstrong and opinionated and sometimes abrupt. She doesn’t put up with crap from anybody.

In fact in her first scene with Matt the hero she hauls off and socks him in the kisser. His left cheek to be exact. She has her car keys balled up in her fist when she does it.

Plus – if he hadn’t backed off from his intimidating behavior – she was ready to apply a swift effective kick of her heavy Frye Boots to his private parts.

Maybe this is the New Yorker in me talking but all I have to say so far is this. “What’s not to like?”

Okay. In the interest of full disclosure I admit Kara is impatient. She’s taken some hard knocks in the past. Especially from Matt Kalli – or at least from his family. She is definitely on the defensive with Matt and she can react too quickly.

Some of her behavior can be attributed to her return to her damned hometown. Everything bad she’s ever had to live through – including those hard knocks I mentioned – happened in Riverton. She swore never to come back and she meant it.

She’s been lured here by the one North Country person she unconditionally loved – her Aunt Dee. Even after death she calls Kara to come home and she does.

One would think all the preceding was enough to endure. But in addition the true nemesis of her former Riverton life – Anthony Benton – has been murdered. Kara might be relieved except that people she loves are caught in the prime suspect crosshairs of some bad local police persons.

Consequently Kara has her full feisty on. Just as I would. Just as you might. Or – if you couldn’t manage that for yourself – you might want feisty Kara duking it on your behalf for sure.

Thus – it shakes out that there are Kara-in-my-corner folks who say things like “I loved the saucy independent street savvy heroine.” Versus a curse-that-Kara reader who says “Belligerent and hotheaded Kara comes within the too stupid to live category.”

Obviously we know where I stand. Kara is my kind of gal. Even – maybe especially – when love grabs her by the heart and she scraps and kicks but cannot shake it off.

Please give Kara a chance. My guess is you won’t be able to help yourself. By the end of her story you’ll love her too – almost as much as you love good old lovable me.

Besides – the eBook of A Wrong Way Home is FREE FREE FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC and other online retailers. As I said – “What’s not to like?”

Alice Orrwww.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 it – along with all of my other titles – at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E. I hope you won’t be lukewarm about any of them.

 

 

In Praise of Fierce Women – Orr What? Wednesday

There’s no force as fierce as a woman with a purpose she’s determined to fulfill. This was true as ever last weekend at Liberty State Fiction Writers’ Conference in New Jersey. So much impressed me there but I was most impressed by the fierce women who made the event speak to me in ways I needed to hear.

The first of these women was Rayna Vause the Conference Organizer – fierce with service from my initial sighting of her in the morning until my last after the final workshop was done. Rayna tends to be mild mannered but ferocity is mostly about dedication to a goal rather than personality. Rayna’s goal was to help the rest of us.

She was answering someone’s question when I first spotted her and doing the same when I saw her again at late afternoon. In between – the day Rayna had orchestrated spun around us all. She was fiercely determined that we would have an amazing experience and we did.

After lunch I moderated a workshop titled “Raiders of the Lost Arcs” with Kathryn Craft – a woman who is fierce with knowledge. Her complex subject was story structure and lunch had run long. Kathryn had to capsulize a lot of information into an impossibly short time and she did.

I took so many notes my wrist hurt. I also had an epiphany about my own writing process and how emotional arcs keep a story moving. Or slog to down if not artfully portrayed. Kathryn was determined to enlighten us and we were enlightened.

It was dinnertime when Liz O’Connor – who writes as L.G. O’Connor – joined us at a corner table in the hotel restaurant. Liz and I had been alphabetically slotted next to each other at the book fair earlier. Her energy and enthusiasm were evident from the start and continued through our dinner conversation where I discovered that Liz is fierce with encouragement.

The two other authors with us are at the beginning of their careers. Liz couldn’t have been more generous with her long experience and fund of facts about both traditional and independent publishing. Liz was determined that these new writers would be armed with information for the battle they must wage to become published and they were.

On the train back to New York City I was tired but filled with my own ferocity. Fierce with gratitude for the women with fire in their spirits that sets the rest of us aflame.

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 the heroine is definitely a fierce woman.

 Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

All Scarlett All the Time – Orr What? Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Kara Comes Clean – Riverton Road Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Sleeping with Cheerios

The angels are in the details. And the more specific those details – the sweeter those angels will sing. Nobody knows that better than Stephen King.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-cheerios-cereal-background-image28465937When a refrigerator opens in a Stephen King story we don’t just find ketchup on the shelf. We find Heinz Ketchup on the shelf. Heinz Ketchup is a cultural icon for most of us. We see the dark red through the glass – the white crest shaped label – the metal cap that’s hard to unscrew.

King understands our mental associations with the objects of American life – especially brand name objects. Evoking these iconic associations makes a scene feel more real no matter how outlandish other elements of that scene may be. And we do know Stephen can get outlandish.

Here’s an example from the Stephen King novel Carrie. “The explosion of Toni’s Citgo on upper Summer Street had resulted in a ferocious fire that was not to be controlled until nearly two o’clock in the morning.”

He could have said “the explosion of the gas station.” But “Toni’s Citgo” is much more real. We are right there on upper Summer Street seeing and believing. However incredible the events of Carrie White’s life may be – the specificity of Toni’s Citgo helps us suspend our disbelief.

In another Stephen King example from his novel The Shining Wendy Torrance is terrified of her husband Jack as usual. She “paws through her purse and comes up with an Anacin” after complaining timidly of “a really bad headache.”

“’No Excedrin?’ Jack snaps back. He saw the small recoil in her face and understood.” We understand too and wish we could offer her a Xanax and a ticket out of there.

My personal example resonates more privately. Except maybe if you’ve had a beloved relative in pain and peril and were beside yourself with overwhelming feelings of grief and powerlessness.

This relative was my precious granddaughter and she’d just gone through radical back surgery. I was at her parents’ house exhausted after hours at the hospital. But I couldn’t sleep because I was miserable and afraid. I needed something sweet at a bitter time.

I prowled the kitchen trying not to wake anyone but all I could find was a box of Cheerios. I spirited that box back to my granddaughter’s single bed where I was sleeping – or supposed to be sleeping – while she was hospitalized.

I stuffed dry circles into my mouth as tears wet my cheeks. I woke the next morning with those circles crushed underneath me. I’d been sleeping with Cheerios. If I ever write that full scene – how much less real and resonant will it be if I say I’d been sleeping with cereal?

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

Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com