Tag Archives: #MFRWAuthor

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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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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Got Stress? Grab a Post It. @AliceOrrBooks #WednesdayMotivation #WritersLife

stress-imageI encounter a lot of exhausted people these days. Once upon a time, I prided myself on not being among them but, as we all know, pride is what we exhibit before a fall. That fall did inevitably happen to me, and since then I’ve learned to admit my Energy Bunny is sometimes a lop-eared, droop-tailed mess.

“What’s the matter with me?” I used to ask, while my stamina trickled away. “You’re not as young as you used to be,” my husband would often respond. This, of course, is hardly the smart thing for a man to say to his wife. If you run into him, feel free to mention that. The fact is, I didn’t feel old. I felt tired, but I didn’t know why.

When well-meaning folks suggested my condition was stress-related, my eyes would roll. “Stress schmess,” I’d say to my pompous-ass self. Until the scales were ripped from my bloodshot eyes and I was forced to recognize stress as a buzz killer on several levels, pressing a dead weight on the psyche and the rest of our faculties too.

This revelation occurred during my maximum (to date) stress experience, the struggle with my now long-gone (I hope) cancer. Let me tell you a small story about that period and one of its many disturbing manifestations of stress. Bouts of spontaneous weeping which, for some reason, often occurred in parking lots.

We were living on Vashon Island in Washington State, a generally peaceful place. I suffered tearful breakdowns in just about every parking area of that tranquil town. In front of the Thriftway supermarket. Next to the library. Outside church. In the gravel space south of the arts center after dropping my granddaughter off for ballet class.

Without warning, I’d begin to sob, though inaudibly. My shoulders might tremble, but other than that and my wet cheeks, you could have walked straight past me and not noticed a thing. “Get a grip,” I’d whisper. “You’re weeping in the Thriftway parking lot.” Meanwhile, my fingers did my bidding and gripped the steering wheel in a stranglehold.

Thus attached to my automobile, I would drive slowly home, reminded of a phrase in the Washington State Drivers’ Manual that cautions against operating a vehicle when emotionally upset. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with calling someone up to say, “I just fell to pieces in the parking lot. Could you please rescue me?”

I’ve held myself back from writing here about this phase of my history. “Why should anybody be subjected to my whining?” I asked. Until I recalled Vanessa Redgrave, a personal icon of mine, speaking of a realization she had while acting in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play adapted from Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir.

“We’re all more traumatized than we think,” Vanessa said. By that measure, my parking lot story is appropriate to share because it could be someone else’s story, too. The specifics may vary. A shadowy corner rather than a parking lot. Dulled-out staring into space instead of weeping. The essence of the episode is the same.

Which means I need to come up with an insight, as posts like this one are supposed to do. Whining will not suffice. I must suggest an approach to the problem, an antidote to the syndrome. I suggest Post-It notes. Here’s what I did with them, or what they did for me, during the most stressed-out and exhausted days of my cancer challenge.

Each morning, on a single two-by-two-inch sticky note, I’d write down something specific I could do that day to feel less undone by my situation. A larger surface would have been unrealistic. In my opinion, four square inches of healing at a time is enough to expect of oneself when traumatized.

Some days I did what I had written down, some days not. Still, I persisted, and my psyche was the better for it. If you suspect that we, yourself included, may all be more shaken up by life than we care to admit, you might want to acquire some sticky notes of your own. They come in cheerful colors these days, even day-glow. Cheerful is good.

RR

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

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

 http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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Vanessa Is Finally FREE! #giveaway #FreeBooks #KindleBargain

AliceOrr_AVillainForVanessa_HRGet your free copy of A Villain for Vanessa. Available for 5 days only – Sept. 29 thru Oct. 3 https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01FFZEZSW …

What Readers Say about A Villain for Vanessa by Alice Orr.  “Tightly written suspense wields tension, shifts and twists that don’t let you look away.”  “I was gripped before I was off the first page. That’s a writers’ big gift at work.”  “The mystery gets tighter and tighter while the romance gets hotter and hotter.”  “Gains power like a train descending a mountain, surprising at each unforeseen turn.”  “After this story, I have become an Alice Orr fan.”  “I’m grateful she’s writing in series.”

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4 – A story of tangled roots and tormented love. Two families are shaken to their roots. Vanessa Westerlo must find her roots. Bobby Rizzo is torn between Vanessa and his true roots. They are all tormented by love, both past and too present. Meanwhile a man has been murdered. And that is the most tormented tangle of all. Alice Orr is known for “Delicious Suspense spiced with Romance.” She does it again in A Villain for Vanessa.

 A Villain for Vanessa features the Kalli family and the fortunate people who find safety and welcome at the Kalli homestead. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series and A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Vacancy at the Inn is Book 3 and introduces the Miller family. Find all of Alice’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E.

RR

I’m grateful for the generous reviews that have greeted A Villain for Vanessa and made me feel even more at home in the world of series writing I love. Diving deeper with each book into the town and families and deadly intrigues that are the core of the series is an adventure for me. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me. I love you all. I hope you will love A Villain for Vanessa too.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

RR

 

The I Can and I Will Path @aliceorrbooks #success #motivation #asmsg

Struggling for Success image“Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” Author Mona Risk asked that question in a post about competitiveness and set my mind moving. She’d inspired me to think about Success. What is Success? How do we measure it in our own lives?

I searched for answers in the motivational talks I used to give. I remember those experiences fondly. Words flew out of my mouth, with a laugh line thrown in every now and then. I confess to possessing a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisit my workshop notes now, I’m not looking for laugh lines. I never wrote those down anyway. They simply emerged.

What I’m doing now is listening for words I’ve spoken before and need to speak again. I’m listening for what I’ve said about success. This is what I hear. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there, and as usual I said it to a group of writers. BUT the advice applies to everybody on every path. The group that day was romance writers like myself. Our stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear. We need to do the same in our real-life stories.

We can’t escape the scary things in life. They are always going to be with us. Just like they are always going to be in our stories. Otherwise, our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see the glass shatter and hear it crash to the ground. Most of all, they want to feel chaos erupt.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We must struggle against fear of the sharp, shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. One way to fight back that fear is to change the way we think about the goals we set for ourselves. We must stop thinking of our goals as far away. We must stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow.

Thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It is the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

Let’s talk about you, specifically, for a moment. You need to see your goal as right here, right now. You need to know what you want to accomplish today and make sure you are being realistic about that goal, not defeating yourself before your start by piling your plate impossibly high.

Next, you must see yourself as progressing toward that goal today. At the end of today, if you don’t think you’ve reached your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not at the same place you were yesterday? Measure that achievement by asking yourself this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could manage to do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to cope with today.

If you can say, “I’ve done what I could as well as I could manage to do it today,” then you have succeeded. If you’ve made even a single step forward, despite the obstacles you faced, you are doubly successful today. Think of each of these days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

This smells like sweet success to me and feels like happiness too. So I say to Mona Risk. “It is definitely possible to be successful AND happy.” Now all I have to do is remember those words myself. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. Oh, rats. I must be human.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.

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

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