Tag Archives: Writing Business

The Crucial Cool Read – Ask Alice Saturday

Coolness imageQuestion. You talk about the cool read. Could you explain what that is?

Answer. The cool read is what needs to happen after you finish the first draft of a manuscript.

 We all know we must always submit Only Our Very Best Work. We achieve our very best work by revising. Revision is where Excellence happens. Revision is where a salable story happens.

We must beware of the blush of enthusiasm we all feel when we complete our first beginning-to-end draft of a manuscript. This is euphoria and it is totally misleading.

We are overjoyed to be finished. Certain our story is a thousand percent wonderful. We’ve lost all capacity for critical judgement. We’re in love – in love with our accomplishment. As we well should be. The completion of a first draft is a huge achievement.

BUT we must never submit our work at this point. This is where the crucial cool read comes in. We need to let the manuscript “cool” for a while. A few days at least. A bit longer if possible.

Set the piece aside. Do something else. Give yourself a total break. Or catch up on your social media/internet presence which will also be crucial to marketing your work. Or do some background prep for your next writing project.

Whatever your choice of cooling mode the purpose is the same. To give yourself distance from your creation. To clear your eyes and your mind and your heart so you can come back fresh – with your critical judgement intact.

When you return to the manuscript read it All The Way Through. Preferably in one sitting if you can manage that. If you can’t manage that – as many of us cannot – read it in subsequent sittings with no other writing work in between. You’ve cooled your head. Take full advantage of that.

Then Revise. Prepare for that revision by interrogating your manuscript. Ask it – and ask yourself – Six Crucial questions.

  1. How can I give this work a stronger narrative hook? A more intriguing Story Idea or Premise? A more riveting Dramatic Opening?
  2. The next 3 questions are for fiction writers. How can I make my Protagonist more sympathetic so the reader will really care about this character and thus be emotionally involved? Is my Protagonist a decent, admirable, heroic person?
  3. How can I make the Villain more formidable and still believable so he is a real source of conflict for my Protagonist?
  4. How can I make the Plot work better? Perhaps, by strengthening character motivations?
  5. For both fiction and nonfiction. How can I keep the Middle move rapidly along without sagging or getting muddled? With cliffhangers? With revelations?
  6. How can I make the Ending as satisfying as possible?

Congratulations. You’ve done the work. You’ve taken the truly cool road to producing your hottest work. You’ve earned a euphoria boost. Don’t forget to celebrate your work and yourself.


A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It is also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available at those same platforms including http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. They are both cool reads. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.


The Need for Speed – Ask Alice Saturday

Road Runner imageQuestion. You talk a lot about the positives of Indie Publishing. Is there a negative for you?

Answer. For me there definitely is one negative. The emphasis on frequency of publication.

The three requirements for Independent Publishing success as a fiction writer – according to what I’ve been told – are these.

  1. Write in a popular genre.
  2. Write a series.
  3. Publish every 3 to 4 months. Preferably every 3 months.

I’ve got the first two covered. Romantic Suspense is a popular sub-group of a very popular genre. I’m also writing the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series.

I was doing all right with number three for a while. A Wrong Way Home launched in February. A Year of Summer Shadows in June. Four months apart not three but still in the frequency ballpark.

That looked okay on the calendar but I knew better. Making book number two’s publication date was a stretch for me. An uncomfortable stretch. To accomplish it I did a truly stupid thing.

I rushed the manuscript straight from my editor’s hands into production. I didn’t do the final crucial read-through myself.

I’ve been around way longer than enough to know there are edits only the author’s eyes will see. I rushed it anyway. Because I didn’t want to commit the allegedly deadly sin of letting five months pass between published books.

Since then I’ve committed other sins that also toll the death knell to my frequency of publication. Specifically I’m guilty of wanting and having a personal life. Complete with family and friends and even some fun.

In the 1990’s I set all of those aside to pursue a career as a literary agent. I was all business all the time and the goddess of commerce awarded me well.

What I seem to be experiencing now is a case of Been There Done That when it comes to All Work and No Play Make Alice a Successful Woman.

Whatever the cause may be – I’m just not feeling the need for speed. I fully understand this flies in the face of my having told hundreds of writers in my workshops that they must be Warriors on Behalf of Their Careers.

All the same – I’ve decided not to renew my fast lane pass. Which also flies in the face of the three-prong program for independent publishing success.

I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of worldly successes in my life. Maybe I’ve fulfilled my required quota of those.

Maybe it’s time to seek another kind of success. The kind that perhaps doesn’t involve being a warrior at all.


A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It’s also free at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is also available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. Number 14 will probably take longer to arrive. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.


Poking Around & Making Lists – Orr What? Wednesday

Cliffhanger imageI’m a member of the generation just before the cusp of tech-everything. I was born into pages between hard covers. I’ve lived through soft covers and back into hard ones again. Only now they enclose computers and devices.

I’ve spent too much time hanging off the edge of that cusp. Barely keeping up. Certainly not abreast of the new thing. And there always is a new thing.

Still I’m feeling more in control where I am these days and not because my arm muscles are any more equal to hanging onto the edge of things. I simply have a better fix on where the new tech and the old non-tech fit into my hierarchy of needs.

Succinctly put – new tech for me is about poking around. While old non-tech is – as it always has been – about making lists.

A visitor to my office glanced at my laptop one day and made this remarkable statement. “Do you realize you have the Library of Congress on your desk?”

I did not realize that but it has stuck with me ever since as a pivotal piece of information. Because I know what I’d do if I were left on my own in the Library of Congress with nobody around to badger me with the rules. “Don’t touch that.” “Stay out of there.”

Without those guardians and gatekeepers admonishing me to behave I know exactly what I’d do. I would Poke Around.

The deluge of marketing I’ve created recently – in the preparation for and the wake of launching one book and taking another permafree – has taught me something crucial.

New tech is the seventh heaven of poking around. Not so much for finding answers as for ferreting out directions and discovering approaches.

Poke around over here and you are sent over there. Everywhere you go there’s information. Google a question. Get pages of possibilities. Each page an overstuffed attic of cubbyholes and corners – for poking around.

That’s where old non-tech and Making Lists come in. I cull the pieces of information I’ve poked loose from my new tech explorations. The ones most relevant to my projects. Then I write them down. You read that correctly. I write them down with a pen on paper. Remember them?

I’m personally best satisfied when collecting my cullings in notebooks. Maybe because as a writer I possess a primal urge to see my words in print on pages between covers.

Of course the pages within those covers are in turn covered with lists. I don’t know a multi-tasker worthy of her personal organizing system who doesn’t live by lists.

Thus the Library of Congress meets the moleskin-clad number I carry in my handbag and I am at ease. Perhaps not on the cutting edge but not stretching my poor arms into rubber strings either. I poke around and make my lists and am well served by both.

Now all I need is – well I guess – nothing. Except maybe world peace and a trust fund. We’ll chat about those another time.


 A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. The eBook version of Book #1 is FREE. A Wrong Way Home – at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC and other digital retailers. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I did a lot of poking around and making lists with both of them. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.