Monthly Archives: September 2013

Inspiration from the quotations file to get the day’s writing started

When I search the web for THE ANSWER, often what I want is something that, just for today, will get me thinking and writing, and the words flowing out my fingertips.

If I’m not careful, it can take several hours – and many blogs and posts – to come up with something to get the juices flowing.

Today I remembered the file where I save quotations I find that have something to say, so I don’t want to lose them.

And I found something from Justine Musk which she has graciously allowed me to reblog. Continue reading

A year of blogging: what did I learn about me, ME/CFS, and writing?

Happy 1-year anniversary to me…

A whole year has somehow gone by since I started this blog in a fit of bravado: do it, or forever hold your peace.

My first post is still true: the only thing I truly fear is being irrelevant. Only time will tell on that one, and finishing Pride’s Children and putting it up for sale.


I have a goal of finishing Volume I this year, and the other two by publication date next year (September). Goals are fuzzy little things, elusive hiders-under-the-sofa. Continue reading

Taking B1 for ME/CFS: consider the writer’s source

This is an update of my experiment with taking vitamin B1 to improve some of the symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, and pain that goes along with my CFS (ME). I promised to report, and I will do these updates until I’m so stable it’s boring, or I decide it isn’t working and stop taking it.

Something odd has happened. I got a lot worse again, and was wondering whether B1 was working, and what was going on. I figured SOMETHING out, and it may be significant, so I’m going to report on it for now – and update as I find out more. Continue reading

Using every trick in the writer’s book: last ditch help to get unblocked

Another way to get over or around a blockage? Get help. Outside help.

Warning: I don’t use this method until I’ve tried everything else to get unstuck; it takes a bit of time, and the willingness to throw open the mind for a while. But if I’m not making progress, even with everything in place, I’m willing to accept help from without. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 7, Scene 1

This week’s post is the beginning of Chapter 7: Scene 1 (1.7.1).

Chapter 6 has been gathered into a single file.

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

Still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

End of previous scene, followed by the link to the new scene:

End of Chapter 6…[1.6.6, Bianca]

“Ah, damn… Just a sec, George.” Andrew stretched rudely, faced her. “Look—I’ll find you. Sometime tomorrow. After dinner? We can work in one of the tents for an hour or two. Might not be until late.”

He’d find time? Wonderful. “It’ll have to do.” What the hell was so important they looked like a funeral? “Goodnight, then.” Warm smile now—counteract the sting. She nodded. “George.” She took her time, made damn sure her walk gave them something to think about.

And thank you so much for making me feel important.


~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 7, Scene 1

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Identity is a complex character: who are you and how does it affect your writing?

Who am I?

I am an American white woman, part-Mexican, Catholic, married, mother of two sons and a daughter, former physicist and present-day writer. I am a successful homeschooling mom, a singer, a blogger. Oh, and I also have CFS and significant back problems which limit my walking.

AnNa D took me to task – thank you, it made me think – when, in a comment on Dave Hingsburger’s  wonderful blog, Rolling Around in my Head, I posted a comment when Dave mentioned a Times Square event featuring people with Down Syndrome in a hugely positive way on the giant screen. I wrote:

    I am not ‘proud to be disabled’ – I did nothing to choose it and it’s not something I would choose for myself again Continue reading

Epistolary evidence: a letter from a character to the author

Getting stuck when writing or revising a scene is different from writer’s block, at least for me, in that I can write about it. Lots and lots of words.

I can ask myself – and my characters – questions designed to get me unstuck, to find out why the scene isn’t making progress in getting written when I already know what has to happen in it.

This time I got a letter from a character. Continue reading

Writing the sludge out: an experiment in hope and brain fog

September 19, 2013 10:51 AM

Every morning, after I swallow 15 pills and a protein shake, I spend the next X minutes trying to wake up, trying to get my head in gear, trying to clean out the mental sludge so I can write.

X minutes is usually 3 − 4 HOURS.

That’s how long it takes me to get disgusted with my surfing enough to stop. ‘Disgusted’ actually means that the brain is making a decision more major than which link to click next, searching for entertainment. And it means we – brain and I – may be able to write now. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 6, Scene 6

This week’s post is the end of Chapter 6, Scene 6 (1.6.6).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

Still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

End of previous scene, followed by the link to the new scene:

End of Chapter 6, Scene 5

“Thanks, George.” Lingering perfume made his head throb. He massaged the muscle between his brows. He couldn’t even fix these things himself. “Tell Grant—keep it quiet otherwise?” The last thing I need….

When they’d gone, blessedly without sirens or lights, he opened the fridge, extracted a beer, downed aspirin with the bitter brew. His fingers probed the pack for another cigarette.

And things were going so well.

~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 6, Scene 6

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Writing a scene spine for an emotional journey using cognitive behavior therapy principles

Readers look for patterns – writers have to provide them. If I give you a list of action, dialogue, thoughts of the pov character, and emotions, my job isn’t half-way done: and you will understandably say it makes no sense.

Somewhere in the course of polishing each scene, I come to the place where the spine for THIS scene, the framework or structure that will create/add/strengthen the pattern for the reader, needs to go from implicit to explicit FOR THE WRITER. For ME.

I’ve talked about such spines: dialogue, chronology, and action all serve as anchors for the writing, a way to provide unity for the mass of contents of all kind that I have decided needs to go in there somewhere. An emotional journey is the spine I need for the scene I’m writing Continue reading

Disability and fear of disability as subtext in fiction

Writers have a unique place in the world. To explore the things we all fear, and report back to the land of the living.

What human would choose to be disabled over able? What human would choose to live in a wheelchair if he could instead choose to walk? What human would select, from life’s options, to not see, to not hear, to not speak? Save possibly those who have already seen, heard, or said too much horror.

We fear disability. We fear weakness. We fear dependence on others – what if they choose to not take care of us?

And we forget, until it is too late, that every one of us is a moment from being disabled.

Or, MORE disabled. Yes, if you are disabled, things can still get worse. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 6, Scene 5

This week’s post is Chapter 6, Scene 5 (1.6.5).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

Still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

End of previous scene, followed by the link to the new scene:

End of Chapter 6, Scene 4

She waved him off, forcing her voice light. “Haven’t had today’s hike.” Her eyes followed the black figure until it vanished around a curve. Can I promise a haven? One of my med students; they never succeeded in flustering me, even when I was younger than they. A friend’s grown child. Pure maternal instinct.

Her knees insisted she sit on a stump. Mount Fire had grown to twice as high.

~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 6, Scene 5

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

The continuing saga of megadoses of vitamin B1, CFS, and writing

The problem with many experiments, especially for people with diseases like mine (CFS), is that you never hear what happened after an initial favorable report, and so are left wondering.

This is similar to what happens to news reports: initial enthusiasm over something interesting, followed by… Nothing!

***CAUTION: I have no medical training – take everything you read here as MY experience, and, if you are interested in trying B1, do your own research, consult your own medical people, read widely, and make your own decisions.***

[Also note: this is Invisible Disabilities Awareness week.]

As I appear to be one of the people with CFS (PWCs) who is BENEFITING from taking megadoses of vitamin B1, and the changes have been significant for me, and are still continuing, I am committing to reporting every couple of months until people get bored, I get completely well, or it stops working for me.

Many people appear to have good results – but I’m a writer and have a blog. I can’t stop myself from pouring details out in 1000-word chunks and sending them out into cyberspace.

I’d also like to hear other people’s results – and I dearly wish there were someplace medical we could all accumulate our anecdotal results and experience.

This is a long post because I want to be able to refer to it, so I put everything into it that I thought might be relevant.

Your results are welcome in the comments. Continue reading

Action anchors: one writer’s way around the dreaded infodump

The Writing Problem Defined: Backstory and Infodumps

I’m revising (okay, completely re-drafting) a scene (12.1) that started with Kary driving down the road, and then backtracked to all the things she’s done for two days (ie, into backstory). The scene crashed.

It started as a short thought about what had just happened. But then, because it had been a while since the character had had a scene in her pov, the backstory got longer and longer – all of it necessary, because this is also the last scene where some of this backstory can go before it is needed in the story.

And by the time it was all in, I had the dreaded infodump: a two-page block of musings and internal monologue that read like a summary of the past month’s soap opera. Eek! Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 6, Scene 4

This week’s post is Chapter 6, Scene 4 (1.6.4).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

Still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

End of previous scene, followed by the link to the new scene:

End of Chapter 6, Scene 3

Grant folded his arms, unconcerned. “He wanted to scope out the countryside before he requires bodyguards.”

“Oh?” The idiot colt had known the whole time—and hadn’t thought to mention it? I could have mined him for information. She’d take care of him, later. “So, which scene was this?” Could Grant tell her interest had suddenly dropped? She didn’t think so. Acting was a useful profession.

I need so many things from him.


~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 6, Scene 4

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.