Tag Archives: Writer

Ryder Rides On

Ryder Syvertsen cover imageMemorial Day is for remembering and on Saturday we remembered an author friend of ours – Ryder Syvertsen who wrote most of his books as Ryder Stacy.

We gathered at a Brooklyn Heights brownstone church in the reception area quaintly referred to as the undercroft. Ryder would have had a witty wisecrack to make about that word. Possibly something to do with the region of the afterlife he expected to inhabit. Ryder was a witty guy. Smart and verbal so his humor was always crackling and on point with a cynical edge that managed to be free of malice – at least of the personal kind.

I can’t imagine Ryder in a church but I can imagine him in Brooklyn where he spent some of his best years. I can imagine him in other contexts too because he was four months older than I am. We grew up in the same times. Though he lived his most formative teen years in Greenwich Village while I was in Northern New York – in a town much like Riverton in the series I’m writing – wishing I could get to Greenwich Village.

Ryder wrote series too. His best known as Ryder Stacy is The Doomsday Warrior Series. Survivalist Science Fiction “set in a Ruined Earth America” his obit says. Ryder died on February 28th after a protracted illness. He wasn’t well enough long enough to catch the indie publishing wave now roaring like a tsunami through the book world. But I can imagine him here with us. Ranting for out with the old and in with the new. And letting his freak flag fly.

Ryder did have a freak flay and a party-down soul too. I knew him mostly from writers’ group parties where he claimed to come because they were “the cheapest drunk in town.” I always understood that he was really there – as we all were – to be among our tribe. The tribe of storytellers that began when language began around campfires where we told our tales in exchange for a shank of whatever might be roasting in the flames.

Ryder wrote in that longstanding noble tradition. So do I. So very possibly do you. Sometimes supper isn’t easy to come by. Ryder struggled with wife Paige Lewis through some lean years. Many of us can identify with that. Ryder isn’t struggling any more. But his tales are still being told. Search for Ryder Stacy or Ryder Syvertsen on amazon.com and you’ll find his stories there.

Buy a book or several. I believe that’s the memorial Ryder would love best. Maybe he’s loving it right now from the place of wild imagining and raucous parties and writing tribe companions where he is bound to be.


 My own 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 Ryder would definitely want me to be telling you about it here as I tell you about him.  Alice Orr –


How I Escaped Chapter 29 – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: What can I do when my story gets stuck?

Alice & Jonathan Wedding Day Answer: I’ll tell you what I did. It happened in Chapter 29 of A Wrong Way Home. I was in trouble. This was the first book in a series and if I couldn’t make this story work I couldn’t make the story work. Still I was worse than stuck. I didn’t want anything more to do with Chapter 29.

The demon in my head even suggested I didn’t want anything more to do with the whole damned thing. The book – the series – all of it. I’d come all this way. I’d written 28 chapters but it was simply getting too hard. That was the theme of my whining anyway. So I tripped into something I do too easily – the avoidance dance.

I decided our bedroom must be rearranged. Heavy furniture needed moving so I recruited my husband. He had no idea I was really avoiding Chapter 29. An important step in the dance is not to tell anyone you’re doing it. After 42 years together my husband knows it’s sometimes better just to go along with things so he hefted the heavy stuff.

[That’s us on our hippie wedding day all those years ago. We weren’t moving furniture or avoiding because we were too busy dancing.]

Back to my story. The bedroom did look better and I gave hubby a hug and loads of gratitude. But Chapter 29 still loomed large on my laptop. I needed another detour. As I gazed around our newly imagined bedroom it occurred to me that we needed to be better entertained there too. Behave. I hear your sniggers. For once I’m not talking about sex.

I decided we couldn’t survive without Amazon Prime on the bedroom TV. Again I enlisted my husband as unwitting accomplice. He was more enthusiastic about this project than he’d been about moving furniture. The prospect of binge watching Ray Donovan all weekend lured him in. He took over the lengthy signup process I dread then binged away.

Unfortunately Monday arrived and Chapter 29 still lurked. I did my best to avoid my laptop. But I was beginning to feel some shame. I needed a truly justifiable diversion this time so I decided to pay the bills. There’s usually nothing I hate as much as the tedium of bill paying. Apparently I hated Chapter 29 more.

Monday turned to Tuesday but not before I developed a convenient cough in between. I told myself I had a summer cold coming on. It was August at the time. My grandmother used to say “There’s nothing worse than a summer cold” and Grandma never lied. So I downed a couple of pills that put my brain in a fog and that took care of Tuesday.

The next morning inevitably dawned and it was just as inevitably Wednesday. Hump Day. The day I had to get over the hump of Chapter 29 or give up altogether. Would the previous 28 chapters ever forgive me if I gave up? Would I forgive myself? Then I remembered that the most important writing exercise is to put your butt in the chair. So I did that.

I opened Chapter 29 and there he was – Matt Kalli – the hero even I’m in love with in A Wrong Way Home. Matt knew I’d been gone but he was only partly happy to see me back. “You have to make something happen here,” he said. “Something that kicks up more trouble between me and Kara.” She’s the heroine I also love in this story.

Suddenly the solution popped into my head. Secrets and Lies. My two favorite plot thickeners are also wonderful story movers. Have somebody keep a secret or tell a lie and the story suddenly gathers new momentum. I needed to plant a lie and a secret here. I went back to the end of Chapter 28 and started planting.

Kara finds out that Matt hasn’t told her something crucial – a lie of omission. But she’s not going to tell him she’s found out – a secret. Matt is worried about where she is at the beginning of Chapter 29. When she shows up she’s boiling angry and won’t tell him why. Kara knows why she’s red-hot mad. We readers know why. Matt has no clue.

This creates tension and drama and a “What will happen next?” feeling. That question and the suspense that come with it carry us all out of Chapter 29 at last. I’m so relieved I can’t help but have a mischievous thought. I even say it out loud. “What if all this red-hot anger in Chapter 29 turns into red-hot lovemaking in Chapter 30?”

Voila! The story is unstuck. And so am I.


 I’m Alice Orr – author of 12 novels, 2 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells – soon to be updated and on sale online. I’m also a former book editor and literary agent. Now I live my dream of writing full-time. Plus I present workshops on writing for publication and/or pleasure. I have 2 grown children and 2 perfect grandchildren and live with my husband Jonathan in New York City. Occasionally we partner each other in the avoidance dance. This is us on our wedding day over 42 years ago – just dancing.

Find my books at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Email me at aliceorrbooks@gmail.com. Visit my website www.aliceorrbooks.com. Regular mail me at P.O. Box 6224 – Long Island City NY 11106. I’d love to hear from you.


Writer’s Business Plan Step #1 – Orr What? Wednesdays

Hard Working Woman imageWhen I started the literary agency that was my last profession before becoming a full-time writer – somebody told me I had to have a Business Plan.

I wrestled with that for a long time. I read books on business plans. I did internet research. The suggestions I found all felt too dry and bloodless for what I was embarking upon. I was beginning an adventure.

So I settled on a single sentence. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I still stand by that sentence. But my experience of running a successful agency taught me this. There’s more to getting where you want to go than that one thing.

Now I’ve leapt into a new professional adventure and I need a new Business Plan. I look back on my former experience and ask myself this question. “What was my finest moment and what made that moment happen?”

The moment memory comes easily. A scene at a national writers’ conference. I’m hosting a client dinner at the top of the conference hotel. Solid windows all around and a revolving floor. The wait staff know it’s to be an evening of endless champagne. We’re celebrating 24 clients nominated for national awards.

I look around at everybody laughing and chatting and ask myself this question. “How can it possibly get better than this?” That was an apex of accomplishment for me. What made it happen? One answer to that shouts out loud and clear. I worked my you-know-what off.

This answer transfers seamlessly to my current adventure as not only a full-time writer but a full-time independently published author too. This is possibly the fullest plate I’ve faced in all of my working life. I’m an entrepreneur again.

How did I manage that so well in my agent days? To some degree I made it up as I went along the same way I make up stories now. Some up-front planning. Then I stay flexible and take advantage of inspiration and opportunities when they come my way.

I also studied everything I could find about the publishing business. Now I study book marketing. I feel close to overwhelmed sometimes by how much there is to learn. But I keep on studying anyway. Plus I try new things and use my ingenuity.

I succeed sometimes. Other times I fall short.  A Japanese proverb tells us to Fall down seven times – Get up eight. I’m far past those numbers now but I keep on falling down and getting up again. I pray I can continue to do that.

All of which amounts to Step #1 of the Writer’s Business Plan. We work our you-know-whats off.


My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Next is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launching with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I worked my you-know-what off on both of them. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com