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 available on Amazon - Pride's Children: PURGATORY. First of a mainstream love story trilogy. And the second, NETHERWORLD, is now published on Amazon, too.

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.

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What do you think?

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

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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.

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Five scenes to finish NETHERWORLD.

But they have to be perfect.

Hang in there – I’m working on it.

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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.

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Flying too close to the sun

Chapter 37 is finished, at 9,274 words for the chapter, 168,958 words total.

NETHERWORLD covers Chapters 21 through 40 in this story.

Since I work only in finished scenes, this means there are only ten scenes left in Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, and I’m getting excited – the last nine are scenes I’ve been looking forward to writing since 2000.

The title of this post is the title of the chapter.

Remember what happened when Icarus did it? Thought so.

I’ve updated the Table of Contents.

I have the cover worked out in my head after some serious thinking about how the three volumes will work together, and, as a bonus, have the idea of the third volume’s cover also percolating but basically decided. The covers will be posted as I get them close to finished.

And the minute all this is published, I will go to the following morning in the story and plunge right into Book #3 of the trilogy – the one that will end the whole story. I hope it will go faster than the 15 and 7 years of the first two.

Advance Reader Copies for reviewers

If you reviewed PURGATORY, I will write to you to see if you would like an electronic ARC of NETHERWORLD to read and review.

If you would like to review NETHERWORLD, but haven’t reviewed PURGATORY, feel free to contact me. I think it’s best to read PURGATORY before reading NETHERWORLD, as the latter starts just a few days after the first one, but they do stand alone even though they share the same main characters, and many secondary ones.

ARCs are extremely close to the finished product; I prefer not to send out unfinished work!

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Prayers and good wishes gratefully accepted.

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PURGATORY awarded Best Contemporary novel 2021

Indies Today have just released their awards for the year 2021 books, and Pride’s Children PURGATORY has been named the Best Contemporary Book. (see new shiny badge!)

My thanks to the judges for their consideration, and I hope many more readers will take the trip with Kary, Andrew, and Bianca through the intersection between Hollywood and the world of writing, especially now that publication is getting very close for the second book in the trilogy, NETHERWORLD.

Again, a big thank you to Jennifer Jackson for her wonderful review. (click on badge!)

An amuse bouche from the Netherworld

I fought with WordPress’ formatting in the current theme (Twenty Eleven), so that I could post the Table of Contents and the beginning of Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD.

It is possible to read this scene (though it might make a bit more sense otherwise) without having read PURGATORY; there are no major spoilers.

I would still recommend reading the first book first, especially since it’s 0.99* (and worldwide equivalents) in ebook until January 20, 2022, but I’m not the reading police, and each book stands alone reasonably well.

Plus you can see my writing style.

And have a bit more of Andrew’s snark.

And I don’t have Book #2 finished yet, and y’all know I’m slow if well-intentioned.

It will remind previous readers of the beginning of Book #1 – as we’re back on Night Talk with Dana the shark.

Watch the NETHERWORLD tab – under construction.

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*An easy way to keep a writer motivated, and now an inexpensive stocking stuffer.

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New editorial review for PURGATORY from Indies Today

“A FLAWLESS LITERARY GEM…”

Woke this morning to a new review on Indies Today.

There is so much to love about this elegant and refined masterpiece, an intimate character study of three dynamic individuals who travel in the same circle for a short time, but whose stories and personalities couldn’t be more different. Mature and deliberate, Pride’s Children: Purgatory is a flawless literary gem that takes readers on a lengthy but worthwhile journey.

Indies Today, Dec. 1, 2021 Jennifer Jackson

It is full of generous words (many thanks to Ms. Jackson).

It’s a little startling, and a little daunting, and, okay, makes you feel very appreciated, when you find your work referred to as flawless and literary and a gem simultaneously by a professional reviewer who doesn’t know you from Eve.

It’s enough to make you print out the review and show it to your friends at the monthly ladies’ luncheon for December 2021. A few of them actually read it. One husband suggested I might have written it myself (but it’s not my style – Ms. Jackson has her own lovely way of phrasing things).

I have then spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to make WordPress let me display the badge in the sidebar – after thirty minutes of fiddling with the widgets section I opted for the clumsy but functional version you see now (I have writing – finishing NETHERWORLD – to do) to your right; I’ll figure it out soon – promise.

It gives me a nice incentive to keep working hard at the end of NETHERWORLD, much appreciated because I’ve had to take a short pause and make sure the plans for the charged end of this volume include everything necessary, don’t burden the reader with anything UNnecessary, end what needs to be ended neatly and satisfactorily, and set up continuing threads and characters efficiently.

Because I will go straight into writing Book 3, and I hope readers will be waiting expectantly, and that the move to California now being over, Book 3 will be a lot faster to write than the previous volumes took (15 and 7 years, respectively).

Pride’s Children: Purgatory is like a colorful van Gogh painting broken into a 10,000 piece puzzle, waiting to be assembled by eager readers looking for a captivating, contemporary story about love, regret, ambition and obsession.

J. Jackson, op cit.

I love that image – and I think it fits what I’m trying to do, including that “Kary struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and her limitations take a back seat to nothing.”

REMEMBER Pride’s Children is a TRILOGY – a single story from beginning to end.

I’m writing as fast as I can. But it is non-standard, and every detail has to be right.

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UPDATE: It turned out to be extremely simple – and clear – in the WordPress help section to post the Indies Today 5* Recommended badge properly. I just hadn’t realized that if you scroll down far enough through the available block types in the Widgets section of Appearance, there is a ‘Custom HTML’ block – and the review site (and others) had provided the html to copy and paste. I am grateful to WordPress for both – and that they are available on the free blogs like mine!

I still find it funny that ‘WordPress’ is not in the WordPress dictionary – it always shows up as a misspelled word with the red line underneath. Apparently, I am easily amused.

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Pride’s Children NETHERWORLD coming early 2022

Almost there!

PIECES ARE COMING TOGETHER

The good news is that NETHERWORLD is taking a lot less time than PURGATORY (7 years and a bit vs. 15 years).

This is in spite of having lost almost a whole year to finding a forever home in California – we moved from New Jersey after selling The house where Pride’s Children was written.

And a lot of time to the pandemic when so many things slowed down as we watched the statistics, waited for the vaccines, entered lockdown, and lived in a much restricted retirement community.

The original years included the heavy-duty extreme plotting, and learning to write to my own standards; the years since the 2015 publication of PURGATORY have included more of my careful inching through the plot, and somewhat less learning the techniques of writing fiction (except when a new kind of scene had to be scoped out – there is always something new that you need to learn how to write).

If you know me or have visited my Writing and everything blog, liebjabberings, you know that whenever I figure out some new tool for the writing toolkit, I sum it up in a blog post, on the off chance it will help some other writer who writes as I do or because I can go back and read my own posts when I need to reload something into my brain. I’m benefiting from that now, as I go back to posts on formatting and covers and language and…

Meanwhile, in the real world

I’m in the Virology Blog!

We writers will take whatever mentions we get, and be grateful for them, so my thanks to Dr. David Tuller, our Public Health PhD from Berkeley, who keeps the room uncomfortably hot for bad scientists and their recommendations for treatment of the great mystery disease ME/CFS (and other post-viral syndromes, now being joined by masses of long-covid victims).

ALL human concerns are suitable for novels, and many times those who have something are best placed to see the implications for the field of fiction – in having a character live through the details real sufferers can’t escape.

Done badly, you have what disabled people call ‘inspiration porn,’ observing life through the lens of “I am SO glad that will never happen to me!” Not particularly inspiring.

Done right, with a light hand and no preaching, the reader will find a richness in the characterization, and, by living along and identifying with the character, can live a life that reveals some of the nuances without having to get the disease. My intent is to make the stakes in this story very very real.

Reviews are always welcome.

I persist in trying to find reviewers who are ‘one of us.’

As one of my favorite reviewers has said (I use his words with his permission):

“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. B. Rose

He has lovely other words I go read when I need a boost – fulsome praise is occasionally necessary when new fiction words are proving slippery (or my brain is fogged – unfortunate speedbump in the production of those new words).

The point is that I don’t expect everyone to like what I write – dense complex novels take time and effort to read AND to write – but, in a world with over 7 BILLION souls, some of whom speak English, I hope to find a lot of readers who want more of what I write. Gotta love math!

Best use of time going forward

Fiction has to come first. You are not following my deathless prose per se. Not here, anyway.

You are here because I’m taking a long time to produce the next book in a trilogy you’d like to keep reading.

So these missives will be relatively rare unless the writing is happening faster than I expect – or I find myself unable to produce acceptable (to me) quality because the brain is fogged again.

Just wanted you to know there is no giving up this task, not while I have any say in the matter.

I know WHAT happens (that’s my job), but I’m having a splendid time discovering what none of us know yet, HOW.

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Please recommend Pride’s Children PURGATORY to your like-minded friends. It is a huge gift to like something well enough to know who else might enjoy it. Word of mouth is the BEST possible advertising!

And, for anyone looking for paper, Amazon is running a sale. I suspect they may have a bit of inventory.

My Patreon is closed for now – not enough subscribers to support the considerable amount of time taken away from writing new fiction – but if PC takes off, it can be revived (I save everything, and there was a lovely start). Getting me to talk about what I’m doing, and pull out some of those interesting cutting room floor edits, is easy. Finding the time and energy, not so much. But I like the idea of having the author be able to provide more to the smaller contingent of readers who can’t get enough – and there is a MASS of stuff already written to pull from. Watch this space.

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NetGalley reviewers please review Pride’s Children

You can see the book on NetGalley here.

I’m trying a new (to me) promotional company, BooksGoSocial, and have Pride’s Children: PURGATORY on NetGalley for the next month through BGS.

If you are a NetGalley reviewer, I would love more reviews – the link to requesting the book is here.

Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD is coming along, and I’m successfully reloading so many pieces of the process back into my brain, while continuing to look for reviews.

Amazon and/or Facebook ads will come along when I figure out how to market a non-genre, mainstream contemporary novel – and have the time to monitor and fine-tune the ads. Fiction first, selling after, so all help gratefully accepted in telling all your friends.


If you are a NetGalley reviewer, of course, you get the books free of charge, and it’s fun to participate in the early marketing. All reviewers must give their honest opinion – and have no connection to the author or book (except via notices such as this one).

THANKS!

Alicia


 

Encourage the writer 0.99 spring sale

Pink background. Test: Structure in a story is like plumbing in a skyscraper: necessary. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

Also necessary for writers who are temporarily still bogged down in the minutiae of moving, is encouragement.

Until further notice – until I’m enough settled to finish NETHERWORLD, the second book in the Pride’s Children trilogy – if you have someone to whom you would recommend it, now is the time to send them a gift email for Pride’s Children:PURGATORY – for a buck.

It couldn’t possibly hurt.

Nor could it possibly hurt to remind them that reviews are also a very good thing readers do for writers.