Tag Archives: #WriterWednesday

Your Precious Power of Enthusiasm #MFRW_author #IAN #Motivation

family diversity imageI began making presentations to writers many years ago. From the beginning, I had a mission, to share what I know about the publishing world and help writers navigate that world more effectively. The specifics of my message changed as own knowledge changed and grew.

At first, I talked about writing stories. How to create strong characters and put them in a fast-paced plot. How to make a story publishable and readable. Then I became a book editor for a traditional publisher. I learned how a publishing house really works and passed that on.

When I became a literary agent, maximizing manuscript marketability was my daily focus. I even wrote a book about it. No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells (A revised version is now in progress.) Once again, I was passing on what I knew.

Eventually, I moved on from editing and agenting. I’d published several novels with traditional publishers by then, but indie publishing offered new challenges. I’ve brought out a memoir and four novels thus far so I blog about that experience and advise individual authors when I can.

Now, a new message is needed and, along with it, a new mission, to combat the discouragement I find rampant among too many writers these days. My message is one of encouragement for all of us to use our periods of challenge to grow our potential as authors.

As I’ve said many times before, you can and will make it through such periods because you have the skills and resources you need to do so. You can and will make it through because that is your only choice if your passion is to write and bring the gift of your writing to the world.

Talk yourself past the difficult, sometimes scary places. Say to yourself, “I will not be afraid today.” “I refuse to let anxiety infect my spirit today.” Most important of all, “I will not lose sight of my Power of Enthusiasm today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Never relinquish your Powerful Enthusiasm.” I say, Enthusiasm is the energy you need to fuel yourself through testing moments. Enthusiasm puts your psyche on your side where you need it to be. Enthusiasm inspires you to think of each day as a jewel on the thread of your life. Never underestimate the worth of that gem or forget to admire its beauty.

Instead of giving in to doubt and fear, give yourself up to Enthusiasm for your work. Honor how wonderful it is to do something you love, to have discovered your passionate pursuit. Rejoice in the gift and blessing of that discovery as an occasion for Enthusiasm a thousand times over.

In addition to your Precious Power of Enthusiasm, loads of hard work and creativity will of course be required. A satisfying route to take, an adventure you can be proud to pursue, one enthusiastic day at a time.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

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My latest novel A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE.

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Character is Everything in Storytelling – My Greatest Heroine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfWe create many heroines in many stories. I believe our most powerful heroines re-create pieces of powerful women we have known. The quintessential powerful woman in my life was my maternal grandmother. Whenever I write a strong woman – as I do every time I write a woman as hero – Grandma is part of her in one aspect or another.

In the novel I am about to publish – A Villain for Vanessa – the heroine travels a long way into the unknown to find what she hopes will be a better life. Grandma did that in the late 1890’s. The exact year differs in different research sources. As with many family stories there is disagreement on the details. Debate runs rampant regarding the why or how or what.

What isn’t disputed in the case of Grandma’s migration is that she traveled alone. She was a small town girl of eighteen or nineteen or maybe twenty depending on which source I credit. She sailed from England in what I imagine was the lowest class of passage and entered this very new world for her by way of Canada.

My best guess from the bits and pieces of fact I’ve found is that her expenses were paid by a family with several children. They were bringing her to what would one day be my hometown in the remote northern region of New York State. The same region where my newest novel and the three before it are set in a fictitious town named Riverton.

The family that bought Grandma’s steamship ticket was previously unknown to her. So was the climate where she would live. I imagine her caring for the children of strangers through the shock of her first frigid North Country winter. I remember her incredible garden when I was a girl and wonder if she was recreating the warm springtime English gardens of her own girlhood.

I’ve studied the customs and fashions of the specific time period when she migrated. I picture her in a white shirtwaist and dark skirt and of course a hat being greeted by people she’d never laid eyes on before. No relatives or friends had preceded her to America. She was on her own. That took courage. It was a wonderfully brave act – the behavior of a heroine.

My Uncle John had a picture on his wall of Grandma at that young age. Her hair was pulled up in a kind of Gibson Girl poof with a bow in back. But it was her eyes that captured me. They were young and most likely blue. Her skin was pale and most likely blushing. Grandma was beautiful. I wish I’d inherited that picture. I carry it in my head and heart instead.

Above all I carry in my head and heart the gentle smile in that picture. The same smile I would bask in decades later when she taught me which flowers to harvest from her amazing garden and exactly where to cut each stem. Nowadays I bask in her more aged smile gazing down at me from another picture on my wall in this room where I write.

She did her best to instill in me the courage it took to put her button-shoed foot on that lonely ship from Plymouth. The example of her courage carries me through challenge and heartbreak and triumph too. I in turn instill that courage in the strong women I write. There is something of Grandma in each of them. Not only her bravery but her loving heart too.

That’s why my heroines are so dear to me. I believe character is everything when it comes to storytelling. Everything good in my life began with Grandma – including the strong women who grace my stories. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. The photo here is of Alice Jane and me Alice Elizabeth at two and a half already modeling my model heroine.

 

Alice Orrhttp://www.aliceorrbooks.com https://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter https://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

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A Villain for VanessaRiverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4. Official launch June 17 – will be available here. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE eBook at the same site and most other online book retailers.

How to Manage Your Writing Time by Managing Your Writer Psyche

Time Management imageQuestion: What is my biggest writing time management problem? Answer: Me.

If you’d asked me this question last month or maybe even last week I’d have said this. “My biggest problem with managing my time to write is all of the demands made on my hours and my energy and my spirit too. So there!”

Reassessment tells me this is not the true answer to the question. Why not? Because it leaves Me totally out of the equation. As if the power in my life to live my life and parcel out my time somehow resides outside of myself in other people and other circumstances.

The true answer has been banging on my head for a while now. Often from the advice wise friends have tried without success to give me. Also from my own observation of other – or the same – friends. Even from my priest who’s been talking a lot about self-care lately.

My biggest problem with managing to find time to write is the same problem I have with managing too much of my life in general. I simply do not know where to put myself in the lineup of my priorities. As one of those wise friends of mine put it – I don’t put myself at the center of my life.

I’ve been long conditioned for this behavior. My mother used to tell me I wanted to be at the center of things. As if that wasn’t at all where I belonged. Even my sainted grandmother raised me to believe that if I wasn’t making the world a better place I shouldn’t be here.

All of which I interpreted as a clear admonition to put everybody else first. To do everything I could for everybody else whenever possible. And most pointedly – at least in my hearing of it and therefore in my head – that doing for myself or taking care of myself was a bad thing.

BTW both of those women followed their own advice. One of them did so with teeth gritted and resentment in her heart. Happenstance didn’t happen well for her. The other did so with love and kindness in her heart and she fared better. But not as well as she deserved to or should have.

Meanwhile I carried on the family tradition by leaping straight into the helping professions in first one form then others. Schoolteacher. Community organizer. Social worker. Book editor. Literary agent. That last requiring perhaps the most outpouring of self of all.

Guess where most of my time was spent through all of that. On other people’s needs. And where it was not spent. “You have a right to have your own needs satisfied.” That was another wise friend talking to me. My response was to stare at her as if she were speaking a language from an alien galaxy.

I’m telling this story first because I need to tell it. But even more so because almost every writer I know – maybe almost every person I know especially if she’s a woman – needs to hear it. Because so few of us put ourselves solidly at the center of our own lives.

In particular we don’t put ourselves at the center of our writing lives. Ask almost any writer what she’d do if she were truly taking care of herself. If she were truly satisfying her own needs. That writer at her most honest would say this. “I would spend more of my time writing. But I don’t.”

We need to change that. Specifically we need to change our minds about that and our hearts too. Otherwise we will never be able to manage our time or our energy. We will never be able to give our hungry spirits what they require to be satisfied. The opportunity to express themselves.

Not to mention we won’t be able to manage our writing careers either. So there!

 Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com                    http://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter                    http://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks 

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A Villain for Vanessa ECover (1) 100 x 150px - 14.6KB - SmallA Villain for Vanessa – coming soon – will be Book 4 of Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series featuring the Kalli family and the Miller family in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way HomeBook 1 – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of Alice’s books are available at her Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

 

How to Thrive through Downer Times

Black Dog imageLet’s be honest. We all have them. Winston Churchill called them his Black Dog. If Winnie could admit to experiencing the black-and-blue blues so can we.

I’ve heard a lot of folks owning up to exactly that over the past few months. Maybe it’s the failure of spring to arrive. Maybe it’s the refusal of unpleasant realities to stay away.

Whatever the motivation for a trip to Bummerville an escape strategy is needed. May I suggest three steps along that exit route.

First – Don’t Confide in Anybody but Your Journal.

The world runs on gossip. The writer world runs on storytelling gossip. We should be careful not to fuel that ride. I’m saying you shouldn’t trust anyone. I am saying you shouldn’t overestimate anyone.

People can talk without thinking. People repeat things without thinking about the damage they can do. Sometimes they even succumb to the temptation to use knowledge as currency. Especially juicy knowledge.

The more intimate the story the juicier its potential can be. And nothing is more intimate than the insider details of somebody’s emotional meltdown. The tidbit may be told with compassion. “So sorry for her hardship.” Or with bogus compassion. “Soooo sorry for her hardship.”

The result is the same. The subject of the tidbit is portrayed as down and out or on her way to getting there. An image that does her no good no way no time. Therefore Mum is the word.

Second – Smile While your Heart is Breaking.

Some call it behaving as if. Behave as if you’re fine. I know it’s fake. Worse yet I know it’s hard to do. I also know light attracts and darkness repels.

We don’t want to break down the good work we’ve already accomplished. We want to build it further. Maybe we don’t feel capable of that construction effort at the moment but we can manage to maintain a holding pattern if we try.

My brother Michael once gave me some sage advice. He suggested I take acting classes to learn more about creating story characters. I’ve come to understand the added value of making yourself into a story character when it serves your career purpose. As I said. Only your journal page requires full – or even partial – disclosure.

Third – Tell a Bright Tale Until it Comes True.

I believe in the power of professional pretense. That power has more to do with convincing yourself than it has to do with convincing others. You are the one feeling lousy – or lost – or left out somehow. You are the one who must find a way off the down escalator. The real purpose of spinning a positive less-than-total truthhood is to hear it yourself about yourself.

“The future’s so bright I’m gonna need shades.” That’s the prophecy you want to self-fulfill. Keep repeating it to yourself and everybody and one morning you’ll wake up to find those shiny lenses reflecting your vision of yourself come back to full and lovely life.

Alice Orr http://www.aliceorrbooks.com                   http://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter                   http://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks

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A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of Alice’s books are available at her Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

The Real Reason for Writers Conferences


Sunrise New Jersey imageI’m just now emerging from the sweet fog of a weekend writers’ conference.

Why a fog? Because that’s what the misty airlock feels like between conference world and my daily world. A fog of adjustment before re-entry. Why sweet? That’s a more complicated question. The sweetness of the fog is a carryover from the sweetness of the experience and the many nectars of its ingredients.

Is there a downside? Maybe the case of Crammed-Brain Syndrome many of us take with us from two or more days of workshops and panels. Or the soft brace I’m wearing on my wrist after scribbling like crazy in my notebook to capture every morsel of good information.

Otherwise I must begin my entirely personal sweetness recipe with three days and two nights in a hotel. I’ve long maintained  that room service and maid service are among the supreme triumphs of this or any culture. A twenty-four hour snack corner in the lobby runs a close third.

This particular hotel was superb by the way. The bed was just right for my Mama Bear body. The toiletries were top shelf and I did bring all leftovers home with me. Plus I awoke each morning to the glowing sunrise you see above.

The conference luncheon was great. Only a small strip of hotel chicken atop the tasty pasta salad. And the keynoter made this a standout event. Hank Phillippi Ryan is one of the most energetic and inspiring speakers I’ve heard. “You never know” she said. You never know what waits around the next corner. So keep trying. Keep hoping. Keep enjoying. Keep writing.

Of course book signings can be humiliation hell unless you’re a bestseller. I’ll never forget the time I signed next to Nora Roberts. R for Roberts. O for Orr and OMG. The P’s knew enough to stay away. But at Liberty State Fiction Writers Conference the fabulous O-P section placed me between L.G. O’Connor on one side and Caridad Pineiro on the other. Sweet indeed.

Which brings me to the delectable heart of conference world ambrosia. Writers – Writers – and More Writers. At meals. In corridors. In workshop rooms. In the bar. At informal get-togethers and more formal ones. New friends and friends in the making. All members of the writer tribe.

Writers talking. Writers laughing. Writers debating. Writers sharing. Everywhere I turned I found writers on furlough from the trenches encouraging one another to fight through and past whatever obstacles we all inevitably encounter.

So here I am post-fog. Facing the rewrite of Chapter Thirty today and the new write of Chapter Forty to come. Embraced and emboldened by the real reason I attend writers’ conferences. In order to return home afterward reminded of how blessed I am to do this author thing.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com               http://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter                   http://www.twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks  .

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