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.

Pride’s Children is WARM Psychological Literary Fiction

PSYCHOLOGICAL = happens on the inside of a human’s mind

Though into every life some of those people must fall!

I was checking through the pages for both Pride’s Children novels (so far), PURGATORY and NETHERWORLD, on their Amazon pages, and found the following earlier today:

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – #753 in Psychological Literary Fiction

Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD – #660 in Psychological Literary Fiction

It made me think, because I set up that particular category with the following comment from reviewer David Rose in mind:

“…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…”

D. Rose, PURGATORY review (used by permission)

The LITERARY FICTION, psychological, subcategory was coopted by the dark guys

We don’t need ‘psychological’ to represent negative human emotions only; we already have thrillers and ‘noir’ and ‘twisted’ and some really gory stuff.

The category, on Amazon as I just checked, was full of a slew of a majority of novels which would take you to a deep hole with little redemption even mentioned.

Plus a smattering of dark-ish stuff that doesn’t fit other categories, including disturbing works by many authors such as Jodi Picoult, and Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.

Literary fiction is already by definition interested in more than the obvious, but where I see a possibility for exploring, and learning, and changing, many of these books have already made up their minds: it’s a dark place out there, BEWARE!

I’d like to allow for the full spectrum of human behavior

Humans make decisions for all kinds of reasons, change their minds, deal with consequences, make DIFFERENT choices, and have to correct course even when it’s hard.

In a category of books for sale, the balance is lopsided (which is cute in rabbit ears, less so in human behavior).

Positive, not forced or applied from outside, but because writers don’t only choose the knotty problems (or aren’t only rewarded for showing the grotty side of life), but because there is a core of resonance in most humans for the positive, good, meaningful experiences, even when they are not easy to acquire.

That’s what I’m interested in exploring through the characters in Pride’s Children – because Pride can be a deadly sin – or a warm human emotion.

Coming with me?

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Advertisement

Don’t miss the UK Countdown Deal for NETHERWORLD

S A L E!

For my UK readers who said they were waiting for the next book:

The price of the Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD ebook is slated to be its lowest price (£2.99) for a long time starting MONDAY, October 24, 2022 in the UK, at 8am.

If you have an Amazon.co.uk account, this is the time to acquire your copy of NETHERWORLD!

If you choose to review NETHERWORLD, buying a copy allows you to be listed as a ‘verified purchase,’ which carries a higher weight in the algorithms than just leaving a review after reading an ARC. Win/win.

If you have been waiting, now’s the time, and Oct. 24 is the first and least expensive day. The price goes up daily until it’s back at its permanent price, £8.87.

Or you can still join Booksprout – and get an ARC to review.

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Thank you!

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. That’s the part I’m really looking forward to.

Will try to take a shorter time to give you the final volume of the story. I’ve already started writing.

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FICTION must be sold on its own merits

So many possible future paths!

Not the author’s, except in very special cases.

This is true of biographies and autobiographies and memoirs, too – unless you’re a celebrity whose fans will buy anything you produce, just to have a complete set.

Non-fiction is sold on the author’s competence in the field of the BOOK. Would you buy a trail guide from a guy who claims he never sets foot outdoors?

Before you know authors through their fiction

you will buy their fiction only on a recommendation from a good friend, a trusted vetter, or the biggie: how the book grabs you when you give it a few seconds of your time.

An author is someone who has learned – in my case, taught herself – how to access some of the streams of being human, and more importantly than just dipping into them for personal enjoyment, has learned to turn that exposure into stories for other people, for those who don’t have the time or the desire to spend part of their life on the process, but still want the results.

Think. Of a story by Flannery O’Connor. Of what it cost her to write (she died of the complications of lupus at THIRTY-NINE). But all you have to do is find or buy a copy, and you get everything she worked for delivered to your lap! You cannot ever pay her for those hours of labor, but you can enjoy the fruit of her labor, and be transported to the world she wrote about, visit it for a time (it’s kind of scary) and leave it behind.

Whatever input you allow your brain will change you

You can’t avoid it, any more than you can avoid learning at least something from the experiences LIFE puts in your path.

So you have to ask: How do I want to allow myself to be changed? How can I process something which turns out to be negative or toxic for me? Is there input that will do more than entertain, but will allow me to gain understanding or develop empathy? What am I watching/reading – and is it doing what I want?

What will the Pride’s Children trilogy do to me?

It will entertain you.

But it will also make you question how you see friendship, love, commitment, marriage, work, childrearing, and the relationship between the sexes. And a big extra: What are your preconceptions about disability, chronic illness, and the effect of having them on society. One point of view, mine.

But I hope it makes you think what your point of view might be, and whether it’s the right one for you.

And I’d love to hear what you conclude.

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Don’t miss US Kindle Countdown Deal for NETHERWORLD

Sale! TOMORROW!

For my readers who said they were waiting for the next book:

The price of the Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD ebook is slated to be its lowest price ($2.99) for a long time starting WEDNESDAY, October 19, 2022 in the US.

If you have an Amazon.com account, this is the time to acquire your copy of NETHERWORLD!

If you choose to review NETHERWORLD, buying a copy allows you to be listed as a ‘verified purchase,’ which carries a higher weight in the algorithms than just leaving a review after reading an ARC. Win/win.

If you have been waiting, now’s the time, and Oct. 19 is the first and least expensive day. The price goes up daily until it’s back at its permanent price, $9.99.

[It will be Oct. 24 for the Amazon UK site. I’ll send out a reminder, too.]

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Thank you!

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. That’s the part I’m really looking forward to.

Will try to take a shorter time to give you the rest of the story. I’ve already started writing.

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My reach has exceeded my grasp

IT IS MUCH EASIER TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE NOMINATE YOU

Modesty and lack of bragging were bred into my generation by our parents.

But if you write indie, you’re going to be in charge of your own publicity and marketing, and that means doing everything a publisher does for one of their favored authors – up to and including suggesting their authors’ work to the various prize committees who choose the award winners.

Bit of an incestuous circle process, but some competitions that are meant for traditionally published authors actually don’t bar indies from applying.

Whether or not said indies are truly given a blind reading, so there is no bias – assuming the judges MIGHT be biased against SPAs – you’ll just have to trust them if you want your book considered.

If you don’t submit your book for an award

there is very little chance, astronomically small, that you might win that prize.

There is usually an entry fee, often substantial, always non-trivial, and indies have tight budgets: it takes a lot of sales at, say, $2.99 on Amazon and with the 70% royalties option, to cover a $75 entry fee – about 36 sales.

Plus you have to be very sure that your book, considered fairly, is the kind of book which might win that award – or you’re just throwing money down a hole.

And that’s where an honest look at your own work, by yourself or via the reviews people have left, and where you have to decide who is astounded at your writing ability and who is being nice or supportive.

The types of books which have won the award in question in previous years

may help to decide if yours is worth the investment.

You must be prepared to lose.

I’ve just applied for an award I think Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD could conceivably win. It would be a real coup for an indie. And no, unless I win or even get long-listed, I’m not going to name the award – because it’s exactly that reach the Browning quote talks about.

And I’m not that brave.

Things change as you go along

Having PURGATORY named 2021 Best Contemporary novel by Indies Today has emboldened me to seek other awards, because, after how tough on me physically this year has been, I could use a win.

My writing matured between the time I started writing a mystery (1995), and the time I had the idea for Pride’s Children, and acquired polish from then to when I published PURGATORY in 2015.

There were many nice words in the reviews the first book received, and some of those reviews were embarrassingly good.

Chances?

I hope NETHERWORLD is as good as or better than PURGATORY; I think it goes places the first novel in the trilogy wasn’t ready for, and has a powerful ending, but that’s me. It hasn’t received enough reviews yet for me to tell if only my beta reader and I like that ending, or if it’s going to be a game changer.

But then I remind myself that I bought myself an Airwheel S8 as my own 70th birthday present (as my mobility device), because I told myself I would regret it the rest of my life if I didn’t even try – and I’ve had the pleasure of being bionic (and showing off at all occasions – I’m such a ham) for over three years now, and I was right about being able to use a bicycle on a hoverboard to get around.

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Andrea del Sarto – a few more quotes:

By Robert Browning

…Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what’s a heaven for?…

…At any rate ’tis easy, all of it!

No sketches first, no studies, that’s long past:

I do what many dream of, all their lives,

—Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,

And fail in doing…

…Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see,

Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him…

…Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!

Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged

“God and the glory! never care for gain.

“The present by the future, what is that?

“Live for fame… I might have done it for you…

[Thanks to the Poetry Foundation for the text.]

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I’ll post anything that comes from these submissions, but I am so glad I made them.

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Review NETHERWORLD as one of the first

What say the readers?

HOW TO REVIEW NETHERWORLD

Booksprout – a place to get ARCs:

If you would like an ebook ARC, I would appreciate if you would trundle over to Booksprout, create a free reader/reviewer account, search for Netherworld, and download the ARC. You then read, post the review at Amazon, and tell Booksprout (a new UK company which I’m trying out for this book) you’ve done so. Fast and easy – and a big help to me because I don’t have to supervise the process while I’m recovering from some stuff.

Anyone can join Booksprout.

Wait for the October 19 DEAL

If you have followed this blog, you get informed of sales. My first Kindle Countdown Deal starts October 19, 2022, and allows you to buy the book starting at a mere $2.99. Go to the US site on that date and until the countdown is over a week later.

I’m sorry that the Countdown is only available in the US, but that is all Amazon allows.

Over the course of a week, the price will slowly rise to the list price, $9.99, so the earlier you buy, the lower the price you pay.

Buy the book NOW because you can’t wait and don’t want to fuss with the review site

Go to your own Amazon site (the US site is here), and pay full price in your country (I believe going to the US site from a different country will redirect you to you country’s site instead).

Wait a while until I’m better and fully functional again

which is going to take a while. Then contact me at abehrhardt at gmail, and request an electronic ARC.

You should mention in your review that the review is voluntary and not in exchange for anything.

Posting your review

To finish this process you need to be able to post reviews at Amazon, and that usually requires that you have bought things on Amazon, a minimum of $50 worth over the previous year. We buy so much stuff there that it isn’t a problem, but some people don’t, and won’t be able to post.

If you can’t post on Amazon, post somewhere – on your blog, on Goodreads, etc. – and just send me a link so I know where it is. Thanks!

Don’t worry about royalties

I price my books so a full price sale in any format pays me about $6. This is the 70% royalty Amazon offers self-published authors.

What format you prefer – and how much more it costs – depends on Amazon’s costs – and is fixed; paperbacks cost more because of the physical costs of printing and mailing; ebooks are relatively inexpensive because they’re easily delivered to you in bits via the internet.

But my royalty is the same.

Ditto Kindle Unlimited

where I earn about the same royalty if you download the book AND read the whole thing. You have to have the paid KU subscription, and it counts pages.

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So there you have it – how to read Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD and leave a review – in several different forms.

Especially because it will be a while before I can do much actual marketing.

And I am looking forward to every single review.

Thank you!

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And Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD’s paperback is live

From the KDP email Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2022, at 12:10AM

What’s next

  • Availability. It takes up to 3 days for Amazon.com and up to 5 days for other marketplaces to show as in stock. [IT IS SHOWING AS AVAILABLE]
  • Linking. The detail pages of your print book and eBook should link within 48 hours, but it can take up to 5 days. See requirements for linking. [THE PRINT AND EBOOK VERSIONS ARE ALREADY LINKED ON THE PRODUCT PAGE]
  • Product description. It can take 24-48 hours to appear on the detail page. [SHOWING]
  • Look Inside the Book. This feature will be available in 9-10 business days. [CURRENTLY SHOWING A SAMPLE FROM THE EBOOK; NOT YET THE PRINT VERSION – WHICH HAS MY PREFERRED FORMATTING]
  • Book Details. Changes to contributor, series name, series number, page count, description, keywords, and browse categories take up to 72 hours to appear. [ORIGINAL DETAILS ENTERED]

Next for me: waiting

So I still have some waiting to do, but the paperback version has been accepted, and will be available after a few wait periods.

I just ordered a couple of author copies – to arrive Oct. 5-7. Woo hoo!

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NOTE: I price the print volumes so that I get about the same royalty whichever version a reader purchases (around $6.50) – the rest of the cost of a print version is paper, printing, and shipping – which is why ebooks are so much cheaper. But there’s nothing quite like the heft of your own heavy book, so I always get a few paper copies.

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The NETHERWORLD ebook is up at Amazon

Andrew O'Connell stares at the Taj Mahal, rose-colored in the dawn's light
NETHERWORLD ebook is live!

It has been a bit of an odyssey, as the book was finished in March – but cover and formatting were only finalized late last night, and Amazon accepted it in about an hour – record time!

I’ve set up a Kindle Countdown Deal for NETHERWORLD on Oct 19-26, starting at $2.99 and going back to $9.99 by the end, and it is in Kindle Unlimited for those with the KU service. They require that the book’s price not be changed for 30 days before a Countdown – so we have to wait until it’s been published that long.

Meanwhile, it is already available for the hard-core reader. I also set up a Countdown for PURGATORY, to start Sep 21-28, if you haven’t read it.

Good for Christmas presents.

The print version had an unacceptable flaw: on ONE page, the text touched the gutter margin; it is being corrected. ONE page. Picky, picky, Amazon. I like that bots and algorithms can maintain quality – a human would be bored to tears examining every one of 540 pages for minute errors; a computer does it quickly and without errors caused by ennui.

As soon as I have that tiny correction, up goes the paperback; hardcovers for both books will be available as soon as I can make the appropriate cover for PURGATORY (I already have the one for NETHERWORLD).

What can I tell you about NETHERWORLD I haven’t already?

It starts only hours after PURGATORY ends, back on Night Talk in New York City with our late night talk show hostess Dana Lewiston. Will she get some juicy revelations out of Andrew O’Connell, last minute guest?

And what was he doing in Boston that morning?

And what’s with the pigeons?

Dana has a secret, too.

And there is a waltz, and a festive treat. Why?

The fun process of getting editorial and customer reviews has begun

I will be out for some medical stuff for about two weeks – not much will happen until all that is over – we ME/CFS types have such a small amount of energy that appointments and such wipe us out, and we dare not push because the crash could make us permanently worse.

So the part I enjoy, after the book is finished, will be paused (the main reason for this post).

I can’t wait to get to Book 3 of the Trilogy

Life keeps interfering, but

  1. I have a VERY rough draft (which I hope no one ever sees), and
  2. Writing has begun (I couldn’t help myself)
  3. I already have a good idea what I want for the cover!

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You are up-to-date for now – and I’m excited to finally have something to offer readers.

Don’t rush – unless you can’t wait. Oct. 19 will have a Kindle Countdown Deal at a very good price for my doorstopper volume.

Don’t say I never tell you anything!

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Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD cover reveal 2022

My huge gratitude to Bill Peschel for making my ‘vision’ real

WHAT A COVER DOES AND DOES NOT DO

When an author writes genre fiction, savvy readers can tell almost immediately, from the cover, whether the author knows the genre, and some basic details about the type of book it graces.

I write MAINSTREAM CONTEMPORARY LITERARY fiction – indie.

Not that many of us self-published authors (SPAs) do – because it is a category (‘a novel’) that big publishers have claimed as their own area of expertise. Many of the practitioners hope to land a traditional publishing contract, and advance, and what distribution their publisher may give them, depending on the publisher’s expectations that the book will sell enough copies to be a positive influence on the publisher’s bottom line.

There isn’t even a category labeled ‘mainstream’ on Amazon.

Covers in these categories are up to the publisher

with an occasional sop to the author.

Covers are created by cover designers selected by the publisher.

After all, if you have a publisher, your expectation is that you write, they do everything else (including sending you on tour with your book to TV stations and bookstores).

The reality is much more nuanced (ask any author who managed to land a traditional publishing contract, did NOT sell as expected, and after a book or two more, was ‘not renewed’ (i.e., dropped).

The royalties associated with these deals are such that most money is made by the author in the advance, because it never ‘earns out’ – sells enough copies to account for the advance – and then goes into the period in which royalties will be paid by the publisher twice a year.

It’s the dream of many.

It’s the meme of many a movie about writers.

And it must be very frustrating to an author who KNOWS (i.e., is convinced) that if the publisher had made more of an effort, the book might have sold more copies, and their career might have taken off.

Sort of the same mental gymnastics that happen when one buys a lottery ticket.

Genre covers for SPAs

The author can either spend time and effort learning how to do covers, or expend up-front money buying one.

Indie genre fiction is often priced at a few dollars, which means the calculus of the cover cost – and the possibility that a professional cover will help sell more books – can be very off-putting, and many authors do their own (not toting up the cost of the hours of their time spent learning and creating).

So the quandary of the indie mainstream author is creating a cover which will sell

Or, as some of the more stubborn of us aim for, will give the author the control over and input to what is on the outside of the novel they probably spent a lot of time creating.

It’s no bigger a challenge for the SPA than choosing everything else.

But it IS important.

PURGATORY’s cover was completely my creation

J.M. Ney-Grimm, who creates gorgeous covers for her fantasy novels, was my kind mentor, and I learned so much from her I have no idea where I’d begin to credit her input.

The year was 2015, and I spent most of the summer cover-creating and formatting the first volume in the trilogy, and had a blast (and, boy, was it hard work!).

NETHERWORLD’s cover was stuck in my brain

I had planned to do that this time, seven years later, and ran into a long stretch of months of brain fog which had me unable to focus, relearn Pixelmator and all the cover specifications from KDP, and get going on it.

I won’t call it writer’s block; with the ME/CFS, it is physical, has to do with the totality of stress and time and pain and insomnia of the disease; and you think it will last forever. In any case, I was stalled.

A few ideas were coming out – picking a scene representative of NETHERWORLD and then refining it into the second part of a trilogy concept (which has also left me with most of the ideas I need for the third cover). I was able to locate and then license a couple of necessary images from Dreamstime.

I tried finding formatters AND cover creators who would do things as close to MY way as possible – and ran into economics: those who do these tasks for hire, at least the ten or so I communicated with, have to do things quickly and generically with their own software. They were not interested even in finding out what MY way might be.

Until I had the idea of asking a friend, Bill Peschel of Peschel Press. He and his wife Teresa write, publish, and sell their own books over a wide range of fiction and non-fiction topics (I’m currently reading his annotated Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novel, Whose Body). I dared ask, he said he’d try tackling the task, and he’s been wonderful (i.e., able to put up with nitpicking me and MY way), and, among other miracles, essentially got me unstuck from my muddy mental rut – because giving him what he needed to work with gave me a series of small discreet tasks, a great way to tackle an overwhelming problem. My previous post about the cover was one of those small tasks (What did you have in mind?). Bill has been VERY patient and laid back.

Putting the pieces of NETHERWORLD together

Bill has just sent me the final proofed and formatted interior for the paperback version of the new book. Boy, is proofing – and fixing the quirks – NOT fun. But we did it.

I will produce the epub of the interior – I’ve already done it once with Scrivener, and the results were readable. Bill will send me the cover for NETHERWORLD’s ebook, and work on the cover for the hardcover version (which may take a bit more time, since I want to launch a hardcover version of PURGATORY at the same time, which also means relearning my graphics and doing some editing – now that my new Mac is on the way, it will be easier to handle the huge graphics files. I THINK I’ve located the input files – from the 2015 publication – I need.

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Hoping to get something out this week; if not, in the latter part of next week.

I’ll try the uploading – cover and print – when the brain is on tomorrow. Hope there aren’t any bugs to fix!

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NETHERWORLD back cover copy – book description

CONTINUING WITH THE NECESSARY PIECES

While the cover is being created piecemeal, and the formatting goes apace, tasks which I have thankfully uploaded to the friend who is doing the actual work – after which I’m asked to nitpick – I’m doing the remaining pieces only the author can do on Amazon:

Request an ISBN – done.

Fill in the sections for name and title and price and… – working on them.

Getting the files created for ebook and print cover and interior – he’s doing that for me.

Choose paper and distribution and… – working on them.

It moves toward publication – slowly because I’m slow, even with help.

And I don’t worry about it, because working with my friend has given the brain fog a routing – probably because he needs a piece here, a piece there – and reducing the tasks to small bites is one of the strategies for Overwhelming tasks which I’ve use for years.

I thought I had set up Pride’s Children as a series when I published PURGATORY

So I could add the remaining books in the trilogy as they were written and published, and any prequel stories or related stories, but apparently not.

I thought I had done that at the Library of Congress, too, but apparently not.

I think people will be able to figure it out, but I somehow didn’t. No biggie. I’ll give Amazon a call or and email and see if there’s anything I can do – when I have a moment – but it shouldn’t stand in the way of getting NETHERWORLD out there, in an ideal world. Oh, well.

I read the posts I’ve saved, and ran through the blurb books

and wrote a rough draft of the description above.

Thought about it for a while.

Thought about what I’ve been taught – the goal is to have enough ‘above the fold’ (what the reader sees on the book’s page WITHOUT scrolling or clicking) so that the reader will click ‘more’ (or Buy), and read the rest.

I used italics and BOLD to make certain elements stand out.

I moved bits around.

I added the first three lines of dialogue of the first Chapter as a sample.

Moved MORE bits around which gave me two short pointed lines after the blurb title.

And have declared myself satisfied – for now.

What’s there will also be on the back of the printed books

And probably won’t get changed on the back cover, even if I make changes to the book description text on Amazon for marketing reasons. That will be the same as PURGATORY – where you can see my original description.

Because changes to graphics files are never trivial, and I am reluctant to mess with what most readers won’t even notice – the back of the print version.

I also thought about Book 3

which I can’t wait to get back to, and which starts only a few hours after the end of NETHERWORLD.

And I already know almost exactly how that goes. Have even started writing.

But readers will, unfortunately – as I am the proverbial snail – have to wait a while more for.

Oh, to be Kary’s age again – but no one gets that privilege from where I am now in the ‘venerable’ age category. (I refuse to use the other designations.)

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So that’s it for today – another little teasing appetizer – so that at least you get SOMETHING here periodically from me to know I’m not reading books on a beach and eating bon bons.

AND IF YOU’RE PLANNING TO REREAD PURGATORY to be ready for NETHERWORLD – soon is a good time.

I’ll do my best to help with names and storylines from Book 1 – hope to publish something here with some details for reference – but it is lower on the To Do list than I’d like.

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