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.

A new marketing book to practice

Secrets to Effective Author Marketing: It's More Than

AUTHORS HAVE TO LEARN MARKETING

I’m reading a new book, Secrets to Effective Author Marketing, Maggie McVay Lynch, from Windtree Press.

It’s subtitled:

It’s More Than “Buy My Book”

I do not know the author, but it came in a bundle from a marketing author (among MANY other things) I DO know (not personally – from her website and a few replies she’s made to the odd comment I’ve made after one of her blog posts), Kris Rusch.

Kris has been extremely generous with her advice on her blog, so I figured the books in the bundle (including her new one, Creating Your Author Brand) would definitely be worth the investment.

I’m not selling you these books

Just telling you where I got the idea that is stuck in my head: how to follow the ideas in Secrets, and not just let them remain ideas in an ebook I’ve read and finished with.

Because the very first chapter struck up a resonance, and my first thought was, “How do I implement this?”

Two quick quotes should suffice:

If you can make a list of the experiences (emotions) your reader feels when reading your book( s) then you are most of the way to understanding what VALUE you have to sell.

If you can sell the value of your book as an experience then you have set a good foundation for marketing.

I am a writer. I create an experience for a reader, deliberately and with malice aforethought… I mean, on purpose.

I have that experience very much in mind (it’s one of my writing prompts for each and every scene) when I write a scene, but it had never occurred to me that I need to do the same thing when marketing.

Because marketing and writing have always been separate jobs, and the marketing has only become a big job for the writer this century, with the explosion of indie writing. Used to be your publisher did the marketing stuff, sent you (if you were so lucky) on a book tour you hoped would open in each bookstore with them having received a big box filled with your brand-new hardcovers.

People in the publishers marketing department wrote the ads, dealt with the media, found reviewers, marketed you and your book.

And I picked that up in my reading.

You can still see it in author bios that use the third person to speak of the author. It’s a lot awkward to do when you’re your own marketing department and copywriter.

It does put the writer into the nitty gritty commerce side of things (Ben Franklin printed and hawked his books), in effect, singing your own praise. More awkwardness.

It occurred to me, though, that I don’t have to – because I have a bunch of, ahem, perceptive reviews, and I can point to them as an external measure of how I possibly hit someone in the gut.

Without too much further ado: What did you feel?

Let me quote (and attribute) some of the reviews that address the question in Maggie’s book as to what emotions readers felt while reading Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – in their own words.

“This novel moved me to anger, compassion, exasperation, understanding and tears. All of these and more. The ending, for example, is something I will never forget. ” Colm Herron

“The author examines what makes us human–our generosity and pettiness, our passions and rationality, our sin and integrity. It’s a journey into heart and soul.” William J. Cook

“You are taken behind the scenes, literally, of the making of a Hollywood movie, and introduced to …wait for it…Penny the dessert girl. It’s the interaction of the big stars with HER that spoke to me the most about the incredibly fine line ALL of them have to walk to retain their privacy, and yet be courteous persons of integrity.

Oh, I loved this book. I did not expect to, and I’m a little bit afraid that I need to check and see if my estrogen/testosterone balance has been maintained.” Pat Patterson

“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. The characters feel like real people that you meet everyday. A character who has lost her career, living with a chronic illness and still finding love and understanding. I will be reading it again and again.” Sam Umek

“Sometimes – rarely – I have no earthly idea why one of Ehrhardt’s characters has a particular reaction or says a particular thing. Sometimes I catch on later, sometimes I don’t. Either way, I read on. Because I don’t have to “get” everything every time. Because I’m trespassing and eavesdropping on another psyche, and it feels natural that I wouldn’t invariably understand.” Marian Allen

“My only complaint is that the ending I’m looking for will have to wait for the next book in the series because this ending is heart wrenching without the continuation.” Cris Goodwin

“And finally it’s a novel about taking risks when your body suffers from a chronic illness. In other words, this is a novel about being human.” A.C. Flory

“I feel Kary’s exhaustion as she copes with the day to day of her chronic illness.” Sue Gately

“Pride’s Children is a contemporary novel, brilliantly written and filled with the raw emotion of characters who smile when necessary, love when necessary, drink far too excessively, and are quite willing to betray anyone who stands in their way. Hearts bleed. Hearts break. Tears flow. Greed runs deep. And pride always goes before the fall.” Caleb Pirtle, III

I’d love to know if you had the same reaction.

Now, how to make potential readers want that experience

I like my cover, and it speaks to me of the yearning that is so much a part of Pride’s Children: wanting what everyone wants, allowing oneself to want.

In this excerpt from Chapter 9, which to me says it all (see underlined section), Kary speaks to her much loved Aunt Ruth:


She dialed Aunt Ruth’s number by heart.

“Kary! What a wonderful surprise! I thought of you this weekend.”

“You can call me, too, you know.”

“I don’t like disturbing you while you write.”

“If I answer the phone, I’m not writing.”

“That’s what you always say when I disturb you.”

“People first. Especially you.” Capturing words next, above everything else.

“How is the writing going, my dear?”

“Very well. The new story is coming almost faster than I can capture it.” Their formal jousting, as ritualized as a quadrille. She exhaled. I haven’t committed—yet.

“What is it, dear?”

“You know me too well, Aunt Ruth. More of the same, I’m afraid.”

“I knew there was a reason to worry. Are you ready to talk?”

Am I ready to talk? Anyone else would push, demand. “No, but I need to.” I should have thought this out, decided where to start— She ran her fingers through her hair, tugged, impatient with herself. “Remember the last time we talked?”

“Stop me if I’m crazy. I’m getting senile in my old age.” She hesitated. “Is it the same man?”

Kary visualized Ruth in her favorite armchair, taking a moment to think before speaking: losing marbles was not a family trait. “Here I thought I was keeping you from worrying. Yes. The same man.”

“Ah. The actor, then. Andrew Connor, or something?”

Am I this horribly transparent to everyone? “It’s complicated.” So, uncomplicate it. “You always get it. O’Connell. He’s a house guest. Part of the time. They’re filming his next movie in town.” See? Was that so hard? “I’ve been invited to watch them film Wednesday afternoon.”

“He’s disturbing your peace.”

Aunt Ruth radar. “Not intentionally. He’s been the perfect guest. But…” Get it all out at once, like an afterbirth. “But yes. Just by existing. The reality is overwhelming…”

“It always is, dear. Good and bad. He is young, for a man. And healthy, isn’t he? They take up so much more space than you think, all that vitality.” Ruth hesitated again. “You are sure…?”

Bless her. “Nothing. Don’t worry.” Lord, the temptation. Enough fascination to pull her hand into his fire. But no, nothing there. “If I were younger.” And beautiful. Beauty deserves beauty. If I weren’t sick.

“A cat is allowed to look at the Queen, Kary.”

“A cat is not allowed to want to be Queen.”

“Better not to want?”

“Better not to want.” It hurt. In the background she heard sounds of people approaching Ruth, asking if she was ready to go in to dinner. Salvation. Kary let out all the air she had been holding in.

“I can eat later—”

“No. Don’t. I just wanted—” needed “—someone to talk to. You’re my someone.”

“I love you, Kary.”

“I know.” It was done. “Now go get your dinner. I’ll call you when it’s over. Promise.”

“Promise accepted.”

The very last part. He certainly needed no more publicity. “You won’t tell anyone.”

“You have to ask?”

And that’s why I love you.


So how do I use this?

The answer seems to me to be to use the book description, somehow, to speak directly to a new reader. To include the combination of wanting someone very badly, but having the sense and the integrity not to reach for him, because it is not in his best interest.

This is not an original idea – it was buried in my subconscious when I read Jane Eyre as a child. I’ve transmogrified it – to suit my story. But I aim for the same quality – and for the reader to see that the decision (it’s not in his best interest) has enough arbitrariness to it that there just might be room for another ending than the one Kary is – with the omnipresence of a censorious society which declares the imperfect not human (or not human enough) – sure she must choose.

My next job is to figure out how the heck to get that into the first paragraph of the book description, above the fold (i.e., what’s visible without scrolling on the book’s Amazon page).

And be cocky enough to reach out for the reader’s viscera from the first words.

Maybe Maggie’s book will help me figure it out.

What was your emotional experience? Every reader creates a unique universe in his or her head.


If you like your writers to consider your emotional experience – which takes a lot more work than just telling you a story – consider purchasing or borrowing Pride’s Children: PURGATORY (if you haven’t) or becoming a patron to support Book 2, NETHERWORLD.

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Pride’s Children has a heroine with ME/CFS

Snail on yellow flower. Text: May royalties for ME/CFS. Diversity in fiction must include disabled and chronically-ill characters. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

AS A MAIN CHARACTER, NOT SIDEKICK


And I’m donating ALL my royalties from sales, and page reads on KU (Kindle Unlimited), for the month of May 2018 to #MEAction‘s fundraiser.


And for heaven’s sake, not one who commits suicide or dies of cancer, thus tidying herself out of the way of normal characters!

But one who lives, breathes, and functions as well as possible – given one of the burdens of being a human: not having everything functioning in tip-top shape OR being reachable by diet and exercise.

Why fiction?

Because fiction creates EMPATHY. Fiction is the only way, short of having the disease, that you can experience what it is really like, how every decision in your life is affected, and how your hopes and aspirations and goals come crashing down when you become disabled.

Why now?

Because May is ME Awareness Month, and many activities are being planned, including the #MillionsMissing demonstrations where we are represented by our shoes – because they can leave home and we can’t in many cases.

It is hard to advocate for yourself and a disease you battle daily – when you have so little energy you don’t manage to brush your teeth some days.

#MEAction is raising funds to fight for people with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a major devastating and debilitating disease which has been ridiculed and ignored by the medical profession for more than the past three decades, and is getting attention now because people with ME/CFS and their allies are demanding it.


If you read Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, and can’t wait for NETHERWORLD, check out the Patreon and become a patron – it’s the only way to get more before this very slow writer with ME/CFS publishes Book 2. And eventually Book 3.

And yes, I’m writing as fast as I can.

 

NETHERWORLD in scenes for the impatient

Not a working button; link below

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

New Patreon site for the few who can’t wait

Please check out the new post on my main writing blog about my reasons for starting up a Patreon project for Pride’s Children 2, or hop on over to my Patreon site itself, where I attempt to explain myself better.

And you’ll be able to read the beginning chapter (Chapter 21 – the numbering from PC 1 is continuous) by the end of the week or so.

This is for the readers who say they don’t want to wait until Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD is complete, formatted, and available in final form, ebook or print, from Amazon.

If you always wondered…

Good reviews from readers hearten writers

WRITING IS A SOLITARY BUSINESS

I’m writing, I’m writing. Except for this week which has been very tough for my family. And, since I started the draft of this post, the flu – which hit me like the meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs, and which I seemed to manage to catch at the EYE DOCTOR’S office, the only time I left the house in forever; waiting with husband, while all around me before and after that remained healthy. ‘To those who have, more is given.’

I spend time every month looking for ways to reach new readers, and connected with D. R. Rose on Goodreads. He was kind enough to write a review I’m still catching my breath from.

He’s recommended Pride’s Children to people who might like it, and also suggested other people to approach.

Because he seemed to understand it so well, and because he gave me permission to use his words, here is the latest review, from D. R. Rose (italics his):

“It was amazing

How highly can I praise this book without looking like a sycophant?

And, why are we having to wait for the next part of the story???

Elegant literary fiction which is also literate, modern, gripping, and extraordinarily entertaining, to label the subject matter a ‘love triangle’ would be like daubing the Taj Mahal with graffiti.

Alicia Ehrhardt takes the reader into the persons of Kary, Andrew and Bianca by turns, and uses this approach with consummate skill to construct characters whom one comes to know, dare I say this? rather better than one knows one’s spouse, or significant other. She does this better than any other author I have yet read. The plot is more than character-driven; there is a sense in which the plot is the characters.

The pace is unhurried, almost meditative at times. By contrast, the tension is considerable, and the reader is kept in suspense all the way to the disappointing end. I have to call it disappointing because Ms. Ehrhardt has clearly planned the whole story across a trilogy, and this is therefore only the first part. Disappointing, because by the time one reaches the end of this first book, one is aching for resolution. Well, I was, at least.

The writing itself is beautiful, witty, and considered. I felt at times that every word had been weighed. Ms. Ehrhardt has created characters of rare power and beauty, whose natures result in relationships of living, breathing complexity. Beside the central three, other characters look quite flat – and yet, they are as developed as most good authors’ central protagonists. The settings and situations are fully realised, being founded upon either the author’s own experience or diligent, exhaustive research. I can’t tell which. Ha!

I cannot recommend this book, this trilogy, highly enough – but not to everyone. This is a book for readers who appreciate literary fiction and a very deeply developed romance with a thoughtful debate on ethics. I believe the pace and the delayed gratification will frustrate many modern romance readers who look for fast-burning romance, titillation, and simple love stories. However, if you are a reader who will appreciate a modern ‘Jane Eyre‘, this trilogy is for you.”

On GR:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2272016993

On Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1JOC3NYAYZAL3/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B017AZLTLG

Thank you so much, David in South Africa.

2018 Sale on Pride’s Children

Special sale to start the year right: $2.99 (or equivalent worldwide) for the rest of January. Post on my other blog has more details.

Direct link to Amazon US.

Makes a nice long read for people with new Kindles.

My apologies for the slow progress, but I can’t not write the scenes the way I want them to be, and it takes time – I hope you will like the results. A new chapter has been sent to my beta reader Rachel, and the one after that is ready to go when she’s ready, and the one after that is well over half written.

Here’s a tiny taste from the epigraphs:


More sorrow is there
Than joy to she who will not
Marry her own kind?

Tahiro Mizuki,
trans. by R. Heath


If I didn’t love this story, I would have stopped this nonsense writing after I finished Purgatory. It won’t let go.

Pride’s Children is on sale now

NEW REASON TO CELEBRATE

There is a reason: milestones should always be celebrated, and PC has several today (must be the eclipse): a Guest Post, a book blogger’s review, and a new Amazon review.

Please click through to Sale honors Guest Post, new Reviews, for the details, or go directly to:

Amazon UNITED STATES

Amazon UNITED KINGDOM

Amazon GERMANY

Amazon FRANCE

Amazon SPAIN

Amazon ITALY

Amazon THE NETHERLANDS

Amazon JAPAN

Amazon BRAZIL

Amazon CANADA

Amazon MEXICO

Amazon AUSTRALIA

Amazon INDIA

And yes, I am writing. And yes, it is going well. I’m biting my nails.

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.