Monthly Archives: March 2014

Writers and the Fear of Death

Everyone is afraid, sometime during their life, of Death, the final frontier, the Great Divide, the place no one returns from.

Writers, being fearful creatures, include Death among their many fears. I know I do.

It is the price of sentience, to know what comes, and to remember.

It is an expensive price – but a fair one.

Because of its universal importance, Death gets dealt with by writers.

A lot. Continue reading

Whose voice is it: the writer’s or the editor’s?

In all the posts I see from people recommending that you find yourself a good editor, there is a conception that an editor adds value to the work, and is worth the price paid for her/his services.

It is both horrible – and true.

I read an excellent example recently where a writer posted a paragraph as it had been sent to the editor, followed by the (much improved) paragraph that was returned by the editor. Continue reading

Enter scenes late, leave early

I just got a tip which I’m sure isn’t original (Michael Ferris says so, up front), but I hadn’t seen – about scenes:

“2. Be Late for the Party, and Then Leave Early  You may have read this in other places before, but seriously, in EVERY. SINGLE. SCENE. you want to enter late and leave early.

This goes hand in hand with what I was just saying about writing a fast read, but at the end of the day, you don’t want to describe every little thing. Whether its setting, or character actions, or anything else. Give us just the essentials — and no where does this apply more than to entering late and leaving early.

…One benefit of entering late and leaving early is that the audience has to catch up with what’s going on, thus engaging them. They’re trying to figure out what they missed before they got to the scene, and maybe even what they missed when they leave a scene early. Creating this mental intrigue may only affect people on a subconscious level, but regardless it makes you look like a pro.”

His examples are from scripts, so of course I went and dragged out the beginning of the first scene in chapter 1 of Pride’s Children: Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 12, Scene 1

This week’s post begins Chapter 12, with Scene 1 (1.12.1).

I’ve given up trying to consolidate my chapters until I finish Book 1 – the brain can only handle so many details before failing miserably at something, and I’d rather it be this than something important like, well, like proofreading.

So the Table of Contents still lists individual scene links for the later chapters. I’ve tried to make it easy to click from one scene to the next in the sequence so there is a minimum of mousing to do.

Saturday was 65° in our central part of NJ, today was 33°. I went for a bike ride Saturday, the first of the season (it’s going to snow again maybe tomorrow). The gardening happens a bit at a time when it’s warm enough to go out, and something else isn’t screaming its head off for attention. The crocuses are out – and I brought my first daffodils – whee! – in to finish blooming.

I am happy. I am writing. NEW stuff.

Thanks to for making these inserts/teasers look nice. Really easy – and free.

Additional beta readers welcome – contact me if you’d like to participate (and get to read things earlier).

Typo reports extremely welcome! Thanks!

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 12, Scene 1

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2014.

The curse of the proofreading mind

What is a proofreading mind?

I can’t let an error stand.

When writing what should be first drafts, KNOWING that they will be imperfect, and probably completely changed in the future, I can’t stop my obsessive mind from fixing EVERY typographic flaw, every incorrect word, every piece of misplaced punctuation, every spelling mistake.

I can’t read my own work to EDIT it for CONTENT when the form is somehow wrong. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 11, Scene 4

Snow back – and it was right around 30° all day – brrr! Needless to say, no gardening today. And I didn’t get the daffodils in. In the words of the immortal Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

This week post is the last scene in Chapter 11, Scene 4 (1.11.4).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

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

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

Previous chapter: Chapter 10

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 11, Scene 4  [Andrew]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

A peep of Spring hearkens

It’s the Ides of March, and it’s been a long time since it wasn’t really possible to go out and do much gardening until this late in the year (not that I went out, mind you – but I always told myself I SHOULD get out there before the weeds got started, etc., etc.).

The Problem

When you’re disabled – and trying to use your available brainpower and energy for writing fiction – there isn’t a lot left at the end of the day, and the DECISION to go out is very hard to make.

However, I almost always find that I’m glad I did – when I get out for a while.

And it’s a lot easier to enjoy the necessary chores – which I’m sure God invented just for the purpose of getting suburban dwellers out of the house after Winter – when they aren’t critically late already and the weeds have taken over your whole yard. Continue reading

Meditation on a hard winter

It isn’t even the snowiest winter on record, but I will have to drive home into a huge storm.

I sit in my daughter’s living room, looking out at the crusted snow. I have never seen anyone out this window, and today the yard is covered in deep snow.

A round-faced teen boy is walking toward me down the hillside, toward the chain-link fence at the edge of her yard, taking careful steps in the deep snow.

I look at what he’s after: Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 11, Scene 3

The first of the crocuses are up! Deep purple crocuses, in the sunny patch by the front door.

And daffodils popping up everywhere. Usually at this time of year I have to bring the first ones in to force them, because it gets cold again (which it is going to later this week). It extends my daffodil season – my most favorite time of year – by up to a couple of weeks.

This week’s post continues with Chapter 11, Scene 3 (1.11.3).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

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

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

Previous chapter: Chapter 10

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 11, Scene 3  [Kary]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

The 80/20 Rule in Writing

The 80/20 Rule

The rule of thumb is that 20% of your time spent on anything, including writing, gives you 80% of your final value – and the final 20% of your value costs you 80% of your time and effort.

In writing fiction, the [20% time/80% value] consists of all the preparation work: picking a plot, selecting settings, choosing characters, thinking about themes.

And getting to a competent, if rough, first draft of the complete story.

There is considerable value there already, and it comes after a reasonable application of time and butt-in-chair. It even looks good, reads well, has the feeling of having the gist and gestalt of the story locked in.

Is 80% a good-enough place to quit? Continue reading

Static and dynamic mental friction – a way of looking at CFS brain fog?

I’ve been sitting here, trying to either get myself back to writing – or get something else USEFUL done.

Sub-prime time

I’m below the functional line. Let’s call this ‘Sub-prime time.’

In Sudoku-solving terms, this means it takes me more than 7 minutes (sometimes significantly more) to do the Hard ones. And then I do another, and another, and the results are the same.

I’m awake. It’s an odd feeling to be awake, yet incapable of doing anything actually productive unless someone tells me to.

Like static vs. dynamic friction, it takes more effort to get over the energy line (ie, make a decision) to start doing something useful (not writing fiction – that takes a lot more; filing; simple cleaning; a phone call) than it takes to keep the mind rolling once it has started. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 11, Scene 2

This week’s post continues Chapter 11, with Scene 2 (1.11.2).

I’m trying a new feature – quotes courtesy of different quote-makers. This week’s comes from – free. Let me know if you like the images – I’m picking something interesting in the scene of the week.

Additional beta readers welcome – contact me if you’d like to participate (and get to read things earlier).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 11, Scene 2  [Bianca]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2014.

Writing as a physical and mental state

I commented today on ThePassiveVoice post on Creativity and Madness

“Unfortunately, drugs of all kinds – for sleep and for pain – have somewhat of the same effect.

And some of us find that being properly medicated means we’re also in a state in which that last little creative bit that allows words of fiction to flow out of the ends of our fingertips is muted out of reach. It’s one of the daily hard choices we have to make.”

And it took me until now to realize that, having taken a muscle relaxant dose (half a dose) last night, a very necessary choice for the particular pain that has been bedeviling me for over two weeks, the reason today’s words felt like dead rocks I had dragged from the deepest pool is exactly that: the aftereffect of the drug. Continue reading