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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

A new marketing book to practice

Secrets to Effective Author Marketing: It's More Than

AUTHORS HAVE TO LEARN MARKETING

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

It’s subtitled:

It’s More Than “Buy My Book”

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

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

I’m not selling you these books

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

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

Two quick quotes should suffice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I picked that up in my reading.

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

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

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

Without too much further ado: What did you feel?

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

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

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

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

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

“I found it too short. I am used to reading BIG books. Alicia has written a book that is spellbinding and you don’t want the story to end. The characters feel like real people that you meet everyday. A character who has lost her career, living with a chronic illness and still finding love and understanding. I will be reading it again and again.” Sam Umek

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, how to make potential readers want that experience

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

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


She dialed Aunt Ruth’s number by heart.

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

“You can call me, too, you know.”

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

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

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

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

“How is the writing going, my dear?”

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

“What is it, dear?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’s disturbing your peace.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Better not to want?”

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

“I can eat later—”

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

“I love you, Kary.”

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

“Promise accepted.”

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

“You have to ask?”

And that’s why I love you.


So how do I use this?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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