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.

My opinion of NETHERWORLD Page 99 test

WHAT NETHERWORLD’S PAGE 99 SAYS ABOUT THE BOOK AS A WHOLE

This is temporarily page 99, as the final formatting hasn’t been done, but it works well enough to prove (test) the hypothesis: is this page a satisfactory example of the book as a whole, from the author’s (me) point of view?

Minor but recurring characters are a consistent way of looking at a main character, and this is a very good example, so I’m glad it ended up in the Page 99 position.

Kary has no choice but to go see her lawyer, Joseph Farentz, Esq., whom she originally met at a CFS support group meeting when she moved to New Hampshire – when what she needs isn’t something she can get quickly, and she knows that he can. He is very proud he is still working – even though they share a major illness – as a small-town lawyer. She knows how reduced his abilities are and how limited the time he can keep it up, but accepts him at his own valuation, as she does most people. He has indicated interest in her several times, but she is interested only in keeping him as a friend, and has consistently found a gentle way to turn his attentions down without affecting his ego.

Based on the earlier part of the story, we are about to see what it might take to safely get Kary out of her rural retreat and off to any kind of an adventure: the signature on the papers is that of a famous director who heard about her involvement with Bianca’s screenplay, will be directing Andrew’s next movie, and wants her to come advise on it because his Indian costar’s wife is a big fan of Kary’s novels.

Kary knows it makes no sense – and she couldn’t possibly – but… the hook is baited just right, and she’s very tempted.

Because one of her problems is that everyone seems to have an opinion on what she can do. And she’d rather make those decisions herself, though usually in the negative (first line on page).

I like the Page 99 test.*

**********

Except for posting an updated Page 69 and Page 99 test pages when the formatting finalizes what these would be for NETHERWORLD, I won’t be doing any more of these until LIMBO is written, but it was fun, and allowed me to look at the concept of making sure ALL pages are in some way representative of the novel, the story, and my writing.

If you’re a writer, have you ever tried these on your own work?

If you’re a reader, what will you think the effect on you will be as you get to these pages? I’d love the feedback.

**********

Yes, I’m working on it.

No, this isn’t really a distraction. Think of it instead as ‘freshening.’ And if you don’t know what that is on a farm, go look it up. Another interesting word that says a lot.

And now I’m all interested in getting the final text to the formatter – to see where page 99 ends up – my ‘reason’ for playing with the new toy.

*I still recommend the test and the blog, but am sad to say SPAs are not welcome to apply, though it took some doing to find that out, as it isn’t mentioned.

**********

Advertisement

My opinion of PURGATORY Page 99 test

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – Page 99

99 – A DIFFERENT TYPE OF PAGE TEST

This test comes from Ford Maddox Ford, again via the Campaign for the American Reader blog, but is a different way of assessing a book, and may well be apocryphal, as mentioned in his Page 99 Test post on Aug. 6, 2014, by R. John Williams, Yale professor and author of The Buddha in the Machine.*

In THIS test, Marshal Zeringue asks authors, ‘whether Page 99 reveals “the quality of the whole” about their books.’

That’s a little harder, and the authors who speak about their P. 99 implications have wide and varying opinions about it.

Why is it harder?

Because authors have somehow picked up the notion that they are supposed to let other people – interviewers, reviewers, readers – comment about their work, not themselves, or at least not themselves praising the book.

It means putting my opinions of my own work on record.

Specifically, whether this one page – 99 – is a good way to display the ‘quality’ of the whole.

Funny how that makes my stomach unhappy.

I much prefer the nice comments from reviewers (and usually have no trouble ignoring the less-nice ones).

I’m going to do it anyway

Never waste a good prompt is my motto.

Parental rules to my generation from our parents were meant to keep us from turning into the loud-mouthed, self-centered kid we could have become, because it would mean our parents hadn’t reared us correctly. ‘Children are meant to be seen, not heard,‘ is part and parcel of the same.

I don’t think these rules are followed quite as much any more, but, for example, I never knew my mother thought I had turned out okay until, as a grownup with three children back on a visit to Mexico, I happened to tell her I never felt I had met her exacting standards, and she replied something like, “That’s ridiculous! I brag about you to my friends all the time.”

That was the key. She never told us. And the eldest child does have the tendency to try to please, especially if she’s a girl. I think my four younger sisters figured it out, but they didn’t really leave home (Mexico City) and not come back, as I did.

We had no brothers; I suspect it would have been different, possibly worse, if we had.

I don’t think they meant anything bad by rearing us to enter polite society modestly, when it was our turn, but I was already the odd daughter, the one who wanted to be a scientist, and the nerve endings were exaggeratedly exposed.

Self-promotion is an absolute requirement for indie authors

Many of us aren’t so happy with that part of self-publishing, or maybe it’s only those of use who were older when we started writing.

Or even possibly I missed a lot of changes because, as a Person with ME/CFS, there was little energy left for me and my own concerns after the family got what I wanted them to have from me.

So, do I think that page 99 of PURGATORY reveals the quality of the whole book?

It reveals a lot of the main relationship: Andrew has come to visit for the first time, taking Kary up on a casual offer to drop in if he was in her neighborhood (rural New Hampshire vs. where they met in New York City on Night Talk). The only reason she got a bit of advance warning – less than a minute – was that, due to an overly-aggressive fan, she has had a gate installed at the bottom of her drive, and he had to speak into the CCTV and ask permission to ride his motorcycle up her mountain retreat; otherwise, he would have knocked at her door!

This scene is in Andrew’s point of view (pov), and we haven’t heard from him until this chapter after they said goodbye in NY at the end of Chapter 3.

In the intervening time, Kary was moved to take in the movie Roland, based on the medieval epic poem The Song of Roland, which was the reason he was on the talk show, and was blown away, whereas, being basically a recluse, she’d had no idea who he was when she met him. So their entire relationship is being torn down and replaced though neither of them know it.

The novel has many such accidentally-fraught encounters, each one showing the characters’ behavior under unexpected stressors. And how each character’s inner and outer lives complement each other.

Does this page 99 show off the whole?

It shows Kary’s self-control under extraordinary circumstances – a result of her medical training as a former physician: ‘Never let them see you uncertain.’

I know what is going to happen in scenes – I’m an extreme plotter – but not how, and it’s been fun to essentially listen to the characters to see what they do with my stage directions.

I love that this page has a good example of working characters – so many novel characters don’t seem to do much, but work takes a huge portion of most real people’s lives. They discuss their work – but expectations and reality are at odds.

And it lets a changing inanimate object, the fire in her fireplace, take one of its many mood-setting opportunities. I didn’t grow up with a working fireplace, but after I left home, my parents moved, and the new house’s massive fireplace was used in so many warm gatherings they were almost not complete without a fire (houses in Mexico City usually have neither heating nor air-conditioning, and can be chilly, especially in winter months).

It gives a nod to the relationship between writers and actors which is fundamental to the novels: each asks about the other’s work. She’s been writing earlier, he (and his feet) came from a morning of filming locally. Each is cagey, neither takes the bait to speak at length about themself.

In the whole, I think it does

represent the whole: two of the three main characters, a developing relationship, the settled homestead of the rooted character, the peripatetic nature of a working actor, and something of me as the author.

Not bad for one page!

If I am allowed to say so myself.

*I still recommend the test and the blog, but am sad to say SPAs are not welcome to apply, though it took some doing to find that out, as it isn’t mentioned.

**********

If you’ve read Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, was there enough memorable about Andrew’s first visit that you remembered it?

Had you noticed the recurring fires?

Does this scene make you smile?

What do you think of books where no one seems to be employed?

Did you ever think anyone could make a movie out of The Song of Roland? Did it remind you at all of El Cantar del Mío Cid?

***********

The very first step to a cover: SKETCH

The threat of a cover for Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

THE GAMES HAVE BEGUN

When you find the right people, things move.

Due to the extra challenges I seem to be facing lately, and because I’m getting very antsy about launching Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, whose text has been finished for longer than I expected, I have explored various publishing assistance options – to uniformly fail in finding people who would do it MY WAY.

I have a book out, PURGATORY, for which I had plenty of time, learned graphics (Pixelmator), acquired a cover mentor (thanks, J.M. Ney-Grimm), learned how to format from Scrivener through Word to the final pdf files to upload, etc., etc., in 2015.

It seems quite reasonable to ask someone whom I’m paying to produce the same thing – so they look like a set. Right?

Well, even though the concept seems simple, and I don’t blame them, many ‘professional’ publishing services (all the ones I’ve approached ~ ten of them so far) must make their money by using their preferred software quickly and efficiently, because I had no takers once I explained I’d already made my own design decisions, and wished to keep them.

I don’t have the bandwidth to work with someone learning, or to spend a lot of time going back and forth explaining things, unfortunately, so that avenue didn’t pan out either.

The solution is probably at hand

as I had the inspiration and the sense to ask a friend who has published plenty of his and his wife’s books whether that was something he could see doing – and, if so, what his rates might be.

And got a ‘Yes – let’s try’ back.

I’m still in shock, because I sent him a few emails, and all the images I had accumulated, and a few questions – and the next thing I see (which you won’t, yet – that would be a proper cover reveal) was a cover (he modestly said it was his fourth attempt) that I could have used exactly as it was if I had needed it that fast.

Either they get you, or they don’t

seems to be my fate, and I admit, not to being difficult (every author is picky about their baby), but to being niche (indies don’t often write mainstream – mainstream authors usually want traditional publishers).

He understood everything I said – just as I was starting to think it was me (no, of course not, Alicia).

‘Niche’ means no precedents, no cover tropes to announce the content, and a wide variety of possibilities.

‘Mainstream’ means – for a traditional publisher – giving the cover designer a lot of freedom and latitude and little input from the author. There are some amazing (and probably quite expensive) covers out there that win design prizes. Okay, almost NO input from the author.

And we indies are stubborn.

When do we see it?

Very soon – he is working blazing fast, from what he sent me in a day.

I have a few more things to send him to do a bit of tweaking because we can.

Plus a thing or two about the fonts I should also have sent (but that brain fog has been heavy and dark) from the beginning, and which I will dig out and send today – quibbles.

So what on Earth did he start from?

I put it up there for you as the header image, probably against all reason.

But I thought you’d enjoy the improvement when it comes – though I’m not ready to reveal even that first example he sent yet.

Just see that I actually know what I want, but couldn’t make my brain do the work.

But I’ll get it anyway.

And that makes me happy.

From what he’s already said about formatting, that will be making me happy, too, as soon as I send him the raw materials.

As I’ve always believed – you just need the right person.

**********

The Happy Camper.

**********

Sharing a new toy: NETHERWORLD Page 69

APPLYING Temporary p. 69 TO NETHERWORLD: a preview for readers

This is labeled Temporary for one reason: I don’t have the final formatted version of NETHERWORLD, so this might not even be p. 69 in the final version, but it will serve nicely as a placeholder for now.

From previous post: I was perusing an SFF blog I follow, Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it (highly recommended), I came across a link to another blog, Campaign for the American Reader, (highly recommended) and the Page 69 test. Follow the link for the details, which credit the idea to Marshall McLuhan via John Sutherland’s How to read a novel.

As usual, I learned something new about WordPress

This time it was that it is EASY in the new editor to get an image into a post – create an image block, and just hit CTRL v to paste the image in.

For some reason, I can no longer update my Media Library the was I thought I could, but pasting is MUCH simpler than that, and this post has the image!

It’s a screenshot, so a bit rough.

Problem temporarily solved? Who cares? Twill serve for now.

Temporary p. 69:

This page turned out to be centered on Andrew getting back to Ireland for a too-short visit before heading off to… India! to film another movie.

Andrew is talking to his agent, Maury, on the phone, as the page starts:

Temporary p. 69 for Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

Threads:

  • Andrew is in Ireland, where he’s used some of his movie salary to add a nice recording studio to the family farm
  • His band – The Deadly Nightshades – has gathered for a rare recording session, since he’s now seldom home
  • George, his long-time mate who was his manager during PURGATORY but moved home to help with the family farm (and married his Fiona, with Andrew as Best Man), makes an appearance in NETHERWORLD, the only one until the next volume
  • Maury Gibbs, Andrew’s agent, interrupted the session
  • Reality is intruding, hard: Andrew spends little time in Ireland – and the band is suffering; a planned CD is not moving very fast
  • Andrew wants everything – and it isn’t possible

I’ll replace/add the actual p.69 when I have it – soon!

Still a very useful test, I’d say.

**********

Watch this blog – things are finally starting to happen.

**********

Sharing a new toy: Page 69 test

GOOD IDEA I MISSED: A QUICK TEST FOR READABILITY

When you grow up in two countries, and on top of that get STEM degrees, you miss a few things other people take for granted.

I was perusing an SFF blog I follow, Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it (highly recommended), I came across a link to another blog, Campaign for the American Reader, (highly recommended) and the Page 69 test. Follow the link for the details, which credit the idea to Marshall McLuhan via John Sutherland’s How to read a novel.

Basically, ignore everything else – cover, blurbs, descriptions, reviews, recommendations, etc. – open the actual novel to page 69, and make your decisions based on a single sample page deep enough into the novel to be characteristic.

Being self-centered, I immediately grabbed my paperback copy of PURGATORY, and applied the test to my own work.

And was actually quite chuffed to find it works very nicely as a sample page that covers many of the threads that run through the novel!

For some reason, WordPress is telling me this post does not exist. So, just to be stubborn, I’m going to try publishing it – in which case you might see it.

If not, I’ll eventually win. Possibly it didn’t like me adding a screenshot.

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, p. 69

Well, there it is

I think I won – must have confused something inside WordPress, but it let me publish, so I’ll add a few more words.

Threads:

  • Kary’s house
  • A reference to the show, Night Talk, where the story starts, and the receipt of a DVD of that episode from Dana Lewiston, the host (a recurring character)
  • How a main character talks to herself – she lives alone
  • Why she was on a talk show in the first place: as a person with CFS
  • A reference to a recent episode where an irate fan almost gained entry to Kary’s home – with intent to force her to retract something he read into one of her books
  • And why Kary’s homestead now has a locked gate at the bottom of her mountain.

Hope that’s enough to intrigue, and, of course, you get a taste of my stylistic choices.

I like this Page 69 test. When I have one for NETHERWORLD, I’ll put it up, too. I hope very soon.

**********

Progress: Copyright, Discussion Guide, Permissions, ARC

That I do myself

BUT IT IS A FINITE LIST

To keep you posted:

Registering the NETHERWORLD copyright at the Library of Congress

That was an interesting couple of hours!

After a very long and frustrating process, I regained access to my Library of Congress electronic copyright account, and have REGISTERED the copyright, including uploading the 3.2MB PC NETHERWORLD pdf I just created yesterday, and we are paid – so will just have to wait for the certificate, and am DONE.

I tidied up a number of small things – such as minor formatting on chapter titles – before uploading to LoC.

This is the backup – it contains the full text except for a table of contents, and is not in the final formatting ebook and print readers will experience, and it has some running heads about the pdf itself, but it is an important step because I’ve already had Amazon demand proof I wrote PURGATORY, at which point I was very happy to already have the registration certificate (they gave me a short time period to prove I wrote it OR they would take the book down, and, IIRC, we may have been in the middle of the big move).

These requests are never convenient, and always feel scary, and you wonder why, and whether someone is trying to publish your work under their name… Best to be prepared.

Discussion Guide for Book Clubs for Purgatory

When invited to a book club, I created the earlier version of a set of questions that a book club leader can use to help readers talk about Purgatory.

Those have been reorganized and expanded – feel free to copy/paste into any convenient word processor, and to send them out ahead of time.

Discussion questions help spark thinking about different topics covered by a book, and have no predetermined answers.

Permission to use the KJV quotes for Netherworld

The Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible is copyrighted, and vested in the Crown.

Cambridge University Press manages the copyright for the Crown, and should be consulted when using extensive quotes or commercial uses.

For Purgatory, I requested and received permission by sending them the list of quotes I was using for chapter titles, epigraphs at the beginnings of chapters, and Ethan’s epitaph.

I just did the same for Netherworld – and expect to receive the same permission, as the quotes are unaltered, attributed, and labeled, and used with respect. There are MANY wonderful verses covering almost any topic you can think of. Not everyone has a Christian biblical background, but the KJV is my personal favorite for many of the verses (which modern scholars sometimes translate ‘more accurately’ but less poetically, and language has changed). These are the quotations you remember if you’ve read them.

Since the whole of Pride’s Children is, in many senses, a modern retelling of The Book of Job in the Old Testament, many of those verses are appropriate as epigraphs in the beginnings of chapters, and I enjoy finding the perfect ones.

ARC now needs to be created for reviewers

A big job is to created the interior for the books for uploading to Amazon. But a similar job is to create the electronic Advance Reader Copies that can be sent to reviewers for their reading and comments, and it is good to have those before publication, so that the book launches with some reviews already on its Amazon page.

The eARC will be the same content as the ebook, except that it is not the exact copy of the Kindle Unlimited version, so I’m allowed to send them out and not violate the KU terms and conditions of exclusivity.

They, of course, go out free of cost in exchange for the reviewer considering the writing of an impartial and honest review.

I usually have to go back and forth a bit with the pdf that provides the ebook and print book interior, so I use one of the early versions for my ARCs.

**********

The next big job – because I have to refamiliarize myself with Pixelmator, my graphics program, and update to the current version – is producing all the covers, back covers, and other bits of graphic information for reviewers to use.

And that’s the progress up to May 3, 2022. It’s going much faster than the first time. More when I have it.

**********

The hard part of NETHERWORLD is finished

NETHERWORLD NOW EXISTS

It’s a funny thing about books.

They start out not existing – an idea, notes, thoughts, bits of characterization are not a book (ask anyone who writes).

And then, for me, such a long time goes by before all the organization and notes start to take on form, even though I tell people that Pride’s Children was vouchsafed to me as a unit, with basically all of the major plot points, and the three main characters, and some of the setting coming as a finished story, one I would have read if it had been available.

But that day in 2000 is over twenty years in the past, and, though I’ve worked on the tangible form continuously, it’s been slow going.

PURGATORY was proof

of principle, of the ability to create something that wasn’t there, of the ability to learn how to write, somehow, to the standards of the vast reading background of writers good and bad and in between.

I did that – in late 2015.

I learned every single step in the process between idea and having an ebook and print book available for sale on Amazon. Every speck of that is me.

I had support. And mentoring when I asked for it. The internet is wonderfully supportive for writers who ask questions nicely and have done the work.

I found my cover mentor – J.M. Ney-Grimm – and my beta reader – Rachel Roy Gavris – online, on writer’s sites. I am eternally grateful for their advice and help.

The second book is another kind of proof

The world is full of people who had a very hard time creating the second book. It’s a cliche in traditional publishing: writer debuts to acclaim (the book was written over many years, or in school) – and cannot seem to write another (time pressures, deadlines, expectations). It even has a name: ‘the sophomore slump.’

And now NETHERWORLD exists

The complete story, from a continuation of the faux New Yorker article that begins it, through epigraphs and chapter titles, to ‘TO BE CONCLUDED’ at the very end of Chapter 40, promising the end of the story, the third book of the trilogy, as soon as I can write it (you don’t want to see the very rough draft).

Its cover is in my head. I have a title and cover for the third book, but am not sure I’m ready to commit, so I’ll call ‘LIMBO (& PARADISE?)’ or just ‘LIMBO’ a working title, and see how it goes.

I have a very long list of steps to take for NETHERWORLD, and it’s a little daunting how little I remember from last time, and how the publishing parts may have changed in the interim so I will have to start from scratch on some things.

The good part? Since I work only in finished scenes, and my beta reader processes each chapter as I finish it, the text is final. The editing and proofing is done as I go, and is not a long task ahead of me fraught with potential pitfalls, but a finished chore.

The years of writing, moving cross-country and fitting into a new community, getting back to writing – are finished, too. This is it – our forever home. I may even eventually get plants on the balcony (the writing has been more important up until now).

There is a lot of work to do

This post is part of girding my writing loins to do all those missing steps, from registering a final copy with the Library of Congress, through learning the new Pixelmator version to turn the cover in my head into one on the page, to figuring out again how to run the text from Scrivener through Word to Amazon, this time adding a hard cover version for both books because it is available, and exploring Large Print.

I did the obvious: I’ve contacted various companies for help with formatting and covers – which I would rather pay for than do – but I haven’t found one yet that will do it my way. After several months of looking, I give up. I’m too persnickety, too opinionated, and not the least interested in them putting my second book through one of their templates. And have been told that the covers proposed wouldn’t be similar and they can’t use my fonts.

I should have expected that – but I did have hopes I might be able to get someone else to do the hard work part, and now I don’t. It will, again, take me less time, and cause me less stress, not to try to get other people to do what I want.

It’s entirely MY fault.

So be it.

At least I can say that, when you get one of my books, it’s all me. For whatever it’s worth.

ARCs out into the world

I don’t know when I will have NETHERWORLD available as an ARC for those who are willing to CONSIDER writing reviews, but it’s high on the list.

I have signed up for BookSprout to manage the review copies and reviews – if interested, check it out; it’s set up for a campaign for PURGATORY right now, and I hope some people will read and review it in preparation for reading and reviewing NETHERWORLD. Accounts are free, of course, for readers.

***********

I just thought you’d like to know.

Should mention here that the time between final text and publication is typically 18-24 MONTHS for traditionally-published novels; I doubt it will take me more than 3.

Updates will be here.

**********

Can historical fiction be about 2005?

WHO DECIDES?

‘HISTORICAL NOVEL’ IS A DEFINITION WHICH NEEDS EXAMINING

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to argue that fiction from the early part of the 21st Century can, in some important ways, be considered historical – and I’m only partly tongue-in-cheek.

You decide for yourself.

I have ulterior motives which will be revealed at the end.

The usual, most conservative definition is: fiction from before you reached consciousness, or 60 years ago, whichever is further back in time (Historia Magazine), which quotes

The Historical Writers Association as choosing 50 years in the past, and

The Historical Novel Society as having selected 30 years ago, and

The Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction at an even more conservative 60 years ago.

Readers of ‘historical fiction’ have their own favorite definitions – which I won’t list, as they’re almost as varied as the readers themselves, and include everything from Neanderthals to Diana Gabaldon to, well, however recently your own definition sets the limit.

The 21st Century has been extraordinarily, uh, busy

A short (edited) list of events in a century of unceasing and exponential change, leaving a big bunch out, includes:

  • 2000- USS Cole Attacked
  • 2000-Hilary Clinton Elected to Senate
  • 2000-George W Bush Elected President
  • 2001-9/11Attack on New York and Washington
  • 2001-U.S. and Great Britain Attack Afghanistan
  • 2001- Anthrax Attacks U.S.
  • 2001-Enron Bankruptcy
  • 2002-Congress Authorizes Force Against Iraq
  • 2002- United Airlines Files For Bankruptcy
  • 2003- Shuttle Explodes on Reentry
  • 2003- U.S. Invades Iraq
  • 2003- Blackout in Northeast
  • 2004-Abu Gharib Prison Abuse
  • 2004- 9/11 Commission
  • 2004- President Bush Reelected
  • 2005 Hispanic Mayor of Los Angeles2005
  • 2005- Hurricane Katrina Devastates Gulf Coast
  • 2006- Tesla Roadstar Introduced
  • 2007- iPhone Introduced
  • 2007- Virginia Tech Shooting
  • 2008 Barak Obama to be Democratic Candidate
  • 2008 Lehman Brothers Declares Bankruptcy
  • 2009- Barak Obama Inaugurated President
  • 2009- General Motors Declares Bankruptcy
  • 2010 Affordable Care Act Passed
  • 2010 Elena Kagan Fourth Female Justice
  • 2010 US Combat Mission Ends in Iraq
  • 2011 Osama Bin Laden Killed by US Forces
  • 2012 Hurricane Sandy
  • 2012 Obama Reelected
  • 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing
  • 2014 Janet Yellen to Head Federal Reserve
  • 2015 Supreme Court – Same Sex Marriage
  • 2016-Donald Trump Elected
  • 2017- FBI Director Fired
  • 2017- Equifax Data Breach
  • 2018- Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Accord
  • 2018-Contentious G7 Meeting
  • 2018-US North Korean Summit
  • 2018-12 Russian GRU Officers Indicted
  • 2018-Trump Putin Meet in Helesinki
  • 2018-Trump Addresses UN
  • 2018-Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed to the Supreme Court
  • 2018-Massacre at Synagogue in Pittsburgh
  • 2018-Mattis Resigns After Trump Announcement on Syria
  • 2019-Nancy Pelosi Speaker
  • 2019-Government Shut Down Ends after 35 Days
  • 2019-Mueller Report Released on Trump and Russia
  • 2019-House Votes to Impeach President Trump
  • 2020-COVID-19 Spreads Around the World
  • 2020-Vice President Biden Becomes Presumptive Democratic Nominee
  • 2020-Space-X Launches Astronauts to Space Station
  • 2020-Former Vice President Biden Elected President
  • 2021-Insurrection in Washington- The Capitol is Attacked
  • 2021-Second Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump
  • 2021- Taliban Victorious in Afghanistan US Evacuates 122,000
  • 2022- Supreme Court Rules on Vaccine Mandates

So, if you want to be picky, there has been an awful lot of ‘history’ happening since the turn of this century, compared to many previous centuries, and the pace of innovation and change has been accelerated enormously.

Has it really only been FIFTEEN YEARS since the introduction of the iPhone?

Yup.

And the events I’m writing about in Pride’s Children (the original planned date for the whole story was 2001/2002, but was moved to 2005/2006 when it became obvious I wasn’t going to write it very quickly, and those years worked better for many reasons) are from BEFORE 9/11.

Think about it: there were mobile phones and flip phones, but no iPhones.

For the younger readers (only some of the more widely-read of whom are in my ‘target demographic’) our there, Pride’s Children is ‘before consciousness.’

But I’d like to argue that so much has happened – AND everyone knows about instantly if they so choose – that the actual events of 2005/2006, background to the story – are almost quaint and old-fashioned BY COMPARISON.

Why am I poking at this?

Mostly because ‘historical fiction’ almost means ‘before it affected me’, even for many well-read adults.

It is almost safe to read about events as long ago as 2005 – interesting, a setting for a good story, but not likely oscillate wildly in meaning itself. As, say, WWII events and novels.

And it’s a nice category to list a book in on Amazon – because it’s a huge category with a lot of readers. And, of course, my main bugaboo: mainstream has disappeared as a category.

Read that again: what used to be the LARGEST category of ‘good fiction,’ mainstream fiction or simply ‘novels,’ is not a searchable category on the largest online bookstore in, well, history.

The categories have been sliced and diced and chopped very fine – you can pick a psychological Amish thriller with a strong female lead set in Western Montana. But you can’t browse through mainstream fiction as you used to be able to walk through the fiction section in bookstores, and browse by author.

If you don’t already know what you want, you’re not going to find it on Amazon.

But, if I can recategorize Pride’s Children as 21st Century Historical Fiction – a whole bunch of potential readers might be able to find it – and be intrigued into trying PURGATORY. And then NETHERWORLD, which is about to come out – and stay in a nice safe category of novels set in a reasonable past.

**********

What do you think?

Do I have the ghost of an argument here? Feel free to make your own definition of ‘historical.’

**********

What can I do for you?

A STORY WHICH WILL MAKE YOU THINK AND FEEL.

Entertainment which will fill a large number of hours.

My best writing.

Not to stop until the story is exactly what I want it to be.

Because there won’t be that many from me – I am too slow.

What do other authors promise you?

Aside from their books, other authors seem to be promising more and more these days:

Their presence in person at a conference on a panel.

Their Instagrams.

Their Tik Tok or Book Tok videos.

Their FaceBook pages.

Their bookmarks and book plates and tote bags and the ability to purchase artwork of your favorite characters and cosplay costumes and…

Even their voice on your answering machine (go to Cameo and search).

I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t.

Self-published AND traditionally published authors are having to do more marketing and merchandising and promotion – to stand out in a world where everything flashes and glitters and moves.

Each new thing I can’t do bemuses me more.

I see the rationale – and I’m now farther behind in ‘doing what I should’ than I was when I started writing.

But what do you really need from your books?

To be dragged away to a same/different universe where you can live another life/lives and come back having been someone else for a long while.

You need something that will stick with you long after you close the book.

You need a story.

You need characters you care about living something that makes you want to go with them.

You want surprises, and implausibles turned into possibles, and to know that sometimes the good guys win.

You want something that will drag you back down into its depths if you are foolish enough to open it and start reading (I’ve tried to ‘study’ GWTW a number of times, to see how Margaret Mitchell does it, only to find myself immersed in the story and reading for hours again).

You want something that is uniquely your experience crafted out of the author’s half on the page, because care was given to making sure you are a participant and not an observer.

You want to find YOUR authors, the ones who do this to you.

If you’re my kind of reader – and I hope you are.

**********

Five scenes to finish NETHERWORLD.

But they have to be perfect.

Hang in there – I’m working on it.

**********

Chapter 38 – Be careful what you ask for

The more common quote is ‘Be careful what you wish for – you might get it.’

I have used ‘ask’ for a very specific reason, and this is one of those quotations that are attributed to many in its different varieties, but are not attributable in a particular form to a written source.

A bit of meaningless numerology that amused me: Chapter 38 came in at 8,819 words, but when I went to add that to my running total, I got 177,777 words, and it made me think of a car’s odometer rolling over.

As I said, easily amused.

Each of the novels is twenty chapters, and, as I have numbered them consecutively from Book 1, Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, you can see I’m two chapters – six scenes – short of the end of NETHERWORLD, and even I’m getting excited to write the final form of these scenes.

The end is both a satisfying conclusion to this part of the story, and the beginning of the final part, and has its own theme.

PURGATORY’s theme was friendship, especially the rarer kind of friendship between a man and a woman.

Booksprout.co will be managing my Advanced Reader Copies

I’m trying something new for this year: letting Booksprout get involved in the process of obtaining more reviews for the novels, and, I hope, providing me access to some reviewers I wouldn’t otherwise have any way of contacting.

It’s a trial basis, and may not be the best way to get new reviewers, since that depends on their database including readers for mainstream fiction, but it also will make it a bit more convenient for me in getting the ARCs to reviewers and in listing the results. I’ve been doing that all by hand, one lovely reviewer at a time, and it takes time, time I don’t mind, but time I could use doing the only job no one can take on for me – writing.

Up until now my approach has been to find readers whose reviews indicate they like similar books, and to craft individual letters. I love the results, and have met many people I now consider friends online (not the wrong kind of friends, Amazon!).

But word of mouth is slow because I’m slow, and only adds reviews when I have a bit of extra time that I can’t use for the writing directly.

We’ll see how it goes, and I’m still here and will handle any requests or problems personally, so that won’t change.

The reason I have non-writing time

these last two days is that, as one of the throng of the immunocompromised, I got my 4th shot, and second booster, of the Moderna vaccine – and yesterday was flu-like, but today I have a sore upper arm (not bad) and a general feeling of not being at the top of my usual game, so I’ve been doing a few other tasks.

Can’t wait to get back to 39.1.

All I’ve been contending with is reviewers who don’t accept self-published work but phrase it differently. I told one such – who may or may not change their mind – that self-published books hold up half the sky (probably a bigger proportion of TOTAL books).

I will update NETHERWORLD’s Table of Contents.

**********