Progress report on Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

With a long novel, and me not being one of the people who count their drafts in words written (so I can’t put up a progress bar), it is easy to wonder if the writer is on permanent vacation (certain fans of GRRM – to whom I’m certainly not comparing myself – will know what I mean).

Complexity takes more time to set up, and more time to write.

NETHERWORLD has turned out to be significantly harder to get started than I expected, and I’m barely nearing the end of Chapter 1, but a lot of the time since I started writing it in early 2016 has been spent on setting up timelines and plotlines in great detail so that I hope not to have to find out about plot holes the hard way (when Rachel, my lovely beta reader, asks one of her incisive questions).

I’m pretty sure it’s going to go a lot faster from here on (though I may have to slow down a bit at the end to make sure the ending is just right: finishing off a part of the story and setting up the remaining book of the trilogy).

Now that the election is over, writing (which I’m doing instead of following it) has become a refuge, and an easy place to spend my time.

You may be interested in a post on my writing blog about the process, There is always a new writing fear.

And, be assured, I am hard at work. I know where it goes and how it ends, but not the words. And the words, built on a solid structure, are the best part for the writer.

So much to do, so little time, so little brain!

Please talk back.

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – Kindle Countdown Deal

Publication Cover PC B1

FALL QUARTER KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL 2016

If you liked Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, the ebook is on sale in the US and UK until Oct. 18 and 19 respectively, for 0.99.

Amazon US – http://amzn.com/B017AZLTLG

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017AZLTLG


Please recommend it to your friends who would like it, as I go forth renewed by time off with family, and hope to get NETHERWORLD finished sooner rather than later.

PC is up to 25 reviews (including 3 critical ones!), and I would dearly love more so I will be accepted by some of the promotional ebook newsletters. You can also vote reviews up or down if you like or dislike them. I am delighted to hear whatever a reviewer has to say, though I can’t promise the slightest deviation from the track that has been laid down to finish the trilogy – I’m that stubborn.

I love seeing how each reader finds a different book.


My entire life is about to change again: the last chick is leaving the nest, probably for good now, and my time will be divided between finding a permanent home for the rest of our life (gulp!), and writing.

The former task includes getting a house ready for sale. If you’ve done it, you know what that means. If not, I don’t think I can explain what disrupting your entire system – even for a long-term benefit eventually – does to a writer.

But I think time for me to write will increase – it’s been a long, hard haul to get to this point, and family always comes first. (But if it could wait until after 2PM to knock on my door, I would be forever grateful.)

What I have so far – and I’m cagey because my process is extremely erratic, and I won’t make promises I can’t keep – has gone, ultimately, better than expected. Not in speed, but in satisfaction from tackling the new challenges and resolving them.

‘Good’ will be decided by readers. But I have to finish it first.

Themes, casting for Pride’s Children, 2007

Some background

In the summer of 2007, while Pride’s Children was under development, and I had an initial rough draft based on the original Dramatica storyform, life handed me an opportunity, and I grabbed it.

My daughter and three of her friends had been offered an internship at LaSalle University after they won, as homeschoolers, an important science competition. The prize was offered and supposedly won (the university probably expected it to be won by some high school group at an actual school), but the four of us mothers who were the homeschooling parents had to do a lot of pushing and prodding to get the internship to happen.

Finally we came to an agreement: the school would let us live in the dorms during the summer (they were empty), and arrange some daily time at one of their science labs, and there would eventually be a paper presented by the professor and having the girls’ names on it, at the American Chemical Society meeting. I leave off the ACS details and the prof’s name because they never fulfilled that part, despite all our phone calls and emails after the internship ended.

Three weeks were chosen for this internship, and I claimed the right to be the parent chaperone. We would drive down to Philadelphia on Sunday night (one Monday because of the 4th holiday), settle into the dorm, the girls would have their internship during the week, and I’d drive us home Friday afternoon.

They had a ball.

What did you do with YOUR time, Alicia?

I had unbroken time to think. And I used it to do the Grand Reorganization of the plot for all three volumes of the story.

Structure, structure, structure.

Every impossible plot step and twist to turn the implausible story of Andrew and Kary and Bianca into an inevitable and utterly believable end was locked down during those three weeks, in as tangible a form as I was capable of.

Everything that had to happen was examined with a microscope, prodded, probed, and declared viable – or eliminated.

Pride’s Children, the full trilogy, runs on a business management principle: the critical path, which I have modified for my own purposes to mean that each plot step must be the shortest and tightest way to the next, in an unbroken chain from beginning to end. Nothing happens without it being an absolute necessity (in my mind and my story).

Theme and casting notes, please.

From notebook post-LaSalle:


My book is my statement, my mission to the world:

Family matters
Love is based on trust
Children matter – and must be protected
Beliefs are important
Beliefs lead to action
Right beliefs lead to right action
Dignity matters
Good will prevail
Life throws stuff at you
How you handle it is who you are
You can’t stay married to someone who doesn’t want you
Some people are objectively better than others
Evil exists – and can’t be excused
Love transcends age

But at least Firefly reminded me of my capacity for intense love: of a character. Of an actor. Of a story. [read more]

Andrew: a young Rutger Hauer
Kary: Michelle Pfeiffer
Bianca: a young Demi Moore
Michael: Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb – big, tall, smarter than he looks, not as smart by far as he thinks he is.

Comparison to Laura Hillenbrand there, too – if she can do Seabiscuit, I can do PC.


That’s it. The short list – though there are many other themes I could and did add. Loyalty, integrity, the meaning and importance of work, what is unforgivable, what we owe our adult children and the memory of the children we have lost, friendship, Catholic guilt and what it means to accept your responsibilities…

Even hummingbirds.

Everything I love.

 

Preaching to the choir: keep writers sane

A man standing on a rock in sihouette in front of a sunset, with the words: Acknowledging Alicia's Angels, by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardtt

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHOIR

August 22, 2016 at 12:42 PM

My dearest choir:

I think I’m going to name you Alicia’s Angels.

I don’t know exactly how you arrange it among yourselves, but it seems that every time I get discouraged, something pops up:

  • A sale of two paper copies on Amazon
  • Someone reading a few pages on Kindle Unlimited
  • An unexpected review on a blog
  • Another review on Amazon
  • Comments on the blog posts
  • A request for an electronic Review Copy
  • A lovely email with kind words
  • Someone replying to a blog post in a way that shows they got what I meant exactly right
  • An ebook sale
  • The promise of a review
  • Watching how someone on KU reads the whole book in a day or two
  • A reply to my comment somewhere else that carries more understanding than expected
  • An offer of an interview on someone’s blog (which I will respond to when I can – honest!)
  • A kind and accepting response when I think someone might like Pride’s Children, and I offer an electronic Review Copy
  • Hearing other people’s successes
  • Almost forgot: tweeting Pride’s Children for me!

At this stage – newly published author with one book up – sometimes called the ‘dribble’ stage, these notices from other humans keep me sane. I’m not writing in a vacuum. Someone out there likes my writing, and takes the time to say so.

And it keeps me both writing – and connected to the outside world.

For writers who don’t get out much, the connection is vital.

Shameless and continuous self-promotion – becoming ‘that author’ – is bad, so I watch my steps in public. I mention PC, as you’re supposed to do, when it comes up naturally in conversation. I hand out one of my artisanal business cards (with cover and contact information, and yes, the required link to Amazon), but only when appropriate. I don’t talk about it (much) unless asked – so easy to slip over the line and become ‘the bore.’

It isn’t a major problem – I don’t get out much – but every time I see an example of ‘bad author behavior,’ I add it to the list of things not to do.

I’ll figure out the thing to do, one of these days, and we’ll move on to the drip stage, and then the small stream stage…

Meanwhile, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Alicia

 

Pride’s Children summer 2016 sale KCD

paw-ad-7616-hi-res

Summer reading sale until June 30 – Kindle Countdown Deal US & UK. 0.99!

For new followers and readers – and I’m still looking for reviewers (contact me for electronic Review Copies). Please recommend me to your reading friends.

Pride’s Children is up to 20 reviews now on Amazon.com

Do yourself a favor – if at all doubtful, check out the negative as well as the positive reviews; no book is for everyone, and I’d rather you not be disappointed.

I’m up to my ears in writing Book 2 at the same time as I’m trying to do some promotion for Book 1; if anything, I’m even busier than when I was writing and then publishing.

 

 

Worldwide sale means thirteen Kindle marketplaces

Pride’s Children is on sale at ALL worldwide Amazon Kindle marketplaces April 26 to May 1, 2016 – 0.99 everywhere.

liebjabberings

worldwide

IT DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS* – sale details below

Okay; I promised myself this one when my brain-fogged brain figured out that Kindle Countdown Deals are only available for the UK and the US: have a sale EVERYONE who has access to a Kindle or Fire device (or app) can take advantage of.

Amazon is not to blame; country regulations are to blame. At some point in the future, maybe France’s arcane regulations will allow online Countdown sales; don’t hold your breath – the French (or should I say the French government, for good or ill) have all kinds of regulations designed to keep prices for books high, digital books out of the marketplace, and bookstores in business.

It’s their country – their laws and rules and taxes.

The only time it’s my problem is when I wanted to hold a Kindle Countdown Deal for Pride’s Children…

View original post 681 more words

You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’t

let fiction bloomEDITING? REALLY?

Way back in the dark ages, I submitted the manuscript (digiscript?) of Pride’s Children to an organization dedicated to vetting indie novelists, and giving them a ‘Seal of Approval’ which could be used on the cover of their novel to indicate ‘quality’ or ‘goodness’ or ‘lack of indie crap content.’ I will call them XXX.

And then I forgot all about it.

I just received their reply, a reply to which I take a great deal of umbrage.

Here is their email:

Dear Alicia,

I regret to inform you that your book Pride’s Children did not gain XXX approval. Our assessor said that though the book had an interesting premise, it would need a thorough line edit before it could be considered for approval.

In particular, she found the following issues:

Extreme overuse of incomplete sentences to the point where it becomes a repetitive sentence structure.

Too many short choppy sentences and heavily divided sentences make the reading scattered.

Subjects of focus erratic and hard to follow both in paragraph and some sentences:
“True, Thomas Pentell had insisted on an early dinner at Les Cles, almost too early for this Dior- she lengthened her neck, lifted her chin- cleavage only worked if you showed it.”

Breaking the fourth wall (see above sentence – not the only one)

Switching of perspective between first and third person

Too much description – telling not showing

Should you wish to re-submit after having the book line edited, you will need to use the form on the Submission page and pay a fee of $50.

If you are unsure of the difference between a line and a copy edit, please read this article [link removed] on the four kinds of editing

We also recommend you read The Elements of Active Prose: Writing Tips to Make Your Prose Shine

Regards from,

C.J
XXX Submissions

Please note: we do not enter into any discussion on the results of submissions.
Do not reply to this email. No one checks the account, so no one will see it.

—————————

There are many things wrong with this ‘assessment,’ but I summed them up in a short email:

Dear CJ:

I regret to inform you that it is doing fine as it is; any ‘line edit’ would absolutely destroy the style and voice.

The ‘flaws’ you point out are deliberate choices.

Those who like it, love it. It is gathering a nice bunch of reviews on Amazon.

Thanks for your consideration.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, PhD

I sent the email – and then realized there was a donotreply on the email address, so I decided to put it up here instead (though I doubt anyone from XXX will see it).

I have detailed some of those deliberate choices in my post Rules for punctuating consistently: a writer’s unique style.

For example, and to confirm I know the difference between first and third person pov, I use First person and italics to indicate direct internal monologue (ie, an actual thought the character has in exactly those words); there are one or two of those in places where we have access to the character’s thoughts. For indirect internal monologue (general musing), I use Third person and no italics, and that is how we see the story, from the three characters’ points of view. Orson Scott Card taught me how to vary the Third person distance; once you get the hang of it, you can do everything from describing the landscape to being in the character’s head at his/her most intense moments.

I NEVER break the fourth wall.

ALL description is done from the point of view of the characters, a SINGLE character per scene.

And if XXX had bothered to look carefully, the dialogue in that little exchange where Bianca is reviewing in her mind the meeting she just had with Pentell, as she is being driven home, is very carefully marked with single quotes – memories – to distinguish it from the conversation she is simultaneously having with Michael in the car.

It takes a long time for a writer to develop a voice.

You either like what I’m doing – or you don’t get it, and don’t like it, because it isn’t the way you’re used to getting stories fed to you. There isn’t much I can do about that.

But the thought of what a ‘line edit’ from someone like their ‘assessor’ – who has no idea what I’m doing consistently and on purpose – would do to Pride’s Children made my stomach hurt.

Thanks for letting me rant – if you got this far.

Have you had a similar experience with an ‘editor’ – either as a writer or in school? Business English and fiction have no commonalities!

Complete sentences? Really?

Please share your pain.

——-

*Thanks to Stencil for the ability to make 10 free image/quotes per month, more with a paid account.