About Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

I write. And I blog. And I love every minute of it. Some day I will be known by the single name - Liebja (lee-ebb-jah), which, as far as I know, I invented when I was 14. A long time ago. My debut novel is now available on Amazon - Pride's Children: PURGATORY. First of a mainstream love story trilogy.

Progress report on Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

Hands holding a clump of soil with a baby plant. Text: We have survived the winter. The goal has not changed. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

ARE GOALS A TEMPTATION TO FATE?

First, a shoutout to Caleb and Linda Pirtle’s new website, Here Comes a Mystery, which is featuring Pride’s Children: PURGATORY this morning. Caleb nails small town America, among many other things, and Linda writes cozies, also among many other things. A real power couple with a wonderful backlog.

Bird in hand: PURGATORY

Pride’s Children continues to slowly find its tribe as I navigate the waters of marketing and advertising and publicity in my slow way – via Amazon ads, a fascinating can of worms. Who knew (okay, I really did) that writing ad copy is trickier than writing 167K novels? But it is the only SURE way to make progress among strangers, and that’s what PC needs: to come to the attention of people who read similar books, and who may give it a chance.

Being in Kindle Unlimited has been good – about half the people who read PC nowadays do so via KU. Sometimes, on a slow week, I get the fun of watching a single reader start – and finish – within a day or so, because Amazon gives me a graph which literally shows pages read.

Bird in egg: NETHERWORLD

The first chapter is finished. The way I write, when I get to that point, the story on the page is as close to the story in my head as it will ever be, full 3D staging and moving actors. When the next chapter is finished, Chapter 21 (I’m keeping the chapter numbering, of what is ONE story, sequential) will go to my beta reader to make sure I haven’t missed something, and, in my attempt to keep the word count down, I haven’t been TOO elliptical.

I have been stalled for a while at the LAST scene in Chapter 22 – the reasons have been physical, and are well documented in my writing blog, and should be of little interest here except that I require use of my fiction writing brain for a usable period of time every day, or progress doesn’t happen.

If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans?

That’s where the question about goals comes from.

I sincerely pray the stall is temporary, and on its way out. I wouldn’t be writing this post – which is a promise – otherwise: there are no other goals before me (except one tiny one, almost finished). This is it.

Kind fellow writers have suggested I try writing other things as a way back in to NETHERWORLD’s complex storyline, but that’s not how it works with me. I am not blocked; I am stalled.

I am waiting for the return of my head writer. Me.

Thank goodness there are flashes. Unfortunately, the ability to write coherent blog posts (if you read them, you may actually notice the progress of that coherence returning) does NOT mean I can write fiction. Fiction is the Queen of writing, and requires the very best you have. I hope she comes back to stay.

And no, I don’t really believe that making plans and having goals is tempting Fate. I think they are just necessary to Life.

Thanks for your patience.

On the other hand, when all this started happening that I’m NOT talking about here, I had figured out how to produce finished scenes about an order of magnitude faster – whew! So it won’t take fifteen years this time.

Recommend Pride’s Children: PURGATORY to all your friends – it’s very encouraging to see sales, and borrows from KU.

Peace out.


Thanks to Stencil for the ability to take a few thoughts and produce a graphic – it’s become a haiku-like experience.

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY Finalist in 2016 UK Wishing Shelf Award

2016 WSA Finalist Logo BW

Pride’s Children is a 2016 Finalist for UK Wishing Shelf Award.

I’m thrilled.

Thanks to British Children’s Book Author Billy Bob Buttons, who initiated the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for children’s and adults’ books.

There are few Awards designed specifically for indies, and most other awards don’t allow indies to apply or put onerous requirements on them (such as publishing other authors as well as themselves in their imprints).

The WSA doesn’t – and you also get to be read by a London and a Stockholm group of readers, and get their feedback – a lovely side benefit.

What about traditional awards?

Most are not open to indies. Period.

Most are also pricey to apply to – the publishers pick which of their ‘sure things’ should be submitted.

Traditional publishers are also very rigid in their requirements for application deadlines, geared toward their very long process of getting a book out. From the time final approval for an accepted book is given, through editing, and galleys, and getting into the publisher’s catalog for the season, can be over a year. Part of that year will fall within the deadlines for the traditional awards, which will accept galleys or advance reader copies in lieu of the finished product.

How is the Wishing Shelf Award different?

Instead, WSA has a rolling three-year application period which makes far more sense for self-publishers – allowing time for proper editing and formatting, and figuring out the ‘ropes’ of publishing.

Authors can wait to see how a book is doing, or re-edit and try again.

In addition, real readers are involved in the process, which started with children’s books being evaluated by real children in schools. The feedback provided by the readers is a valuable part of the submission.

There are no country limitations, either, a  plus in the digital age.

When are the winners announced?

That’s the only part that bothers me: April Fool’s Day in the US.

Cross your fingers with me.

If you liked Pride’s Children, spread the word

easy-xmas-pc

A SALE TO END 2016

If you’ve always wanted to try Pride’s Children – now is the time.

If you’ve read Kary’s story, and wanted to recommend it – now is the time.

If you want to give it to a friend – now is the time.

If you’ve hesitated because it’s long, and you’re not sure, and it seemed too big a commitment – now is the time.

The latest reviews have been amazing

Sam Umek said,

The characters feel like real people that you meet everyday

…One reviewer complained about the length, but I found it too short. I am used to reading BIG books. Alicia has written a book that is spellbinding and you don’t want the story to end.

Pat Patterson, a self-identified ‘simple man, a Southern redneck,’ said,

This book was a feast, and I am quietly stepping into the line for the next one

…Kary is CLEARLY a hero, by any criteria you want to apply apart from armed combat, and she is the center of the book.

…I found myself turning page after page, and DEVOURING the words, licking my lips figuratively at how delicious they were, and thinking: SHE CAN’T KEEP THIS UP! There is no way she can continue to let me walk around and see and hear and feel what the characters are experiencing; except she did.

A Top Reviewer, I am told, said that Pride’s Children was the best 0.99 novel she’d ever read.

If all you want is to know when Prides’ Children: NETHERWORLD comes out

The easiest way is to Follow me on Amazon – you will be notified ONLY when a new book is available.

I plan to write more here about the books, and some followers may prefer to not have that background; if you are not interested in the extra material, unsubscribe from this site, and Follow on Amazon.


Thanks to Stencil for holiday images and the ability to make quick images that look professional, to illustrate posts. If I needed more than a few images a month, I’d get the paid version in a flash.

Especially thanks to those who have written reviews since Pride’s Children came out – I am reliably informed it is doing quite well in that department (27 reviews, 24 of them positive!)

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