Monthly Archives: March 2015

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 20, Scene 6 – END Book 1

This week’s post finishes the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 20, with Scene 6 (1.20.6).

It has been a long process to get this book finished, and posted here every week.

I am grateful to all of you who read along – and for those of you who wanted to read it as a whole, here it is.

After I figure out what I’m doing next to get this actually published, I will post.

There is a round of necessary whole-book edits, but I don’t expect them to be major (pray for me!).

It is my intent to provide electronic Advance Reader Copies (eARC) for those who request them, but I have to master some formatting first. Today I wrestled with the whole in one huge file for the copyright office – enough for one day.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for the continued amazing support – and the friendships I made in the process. It has enriched me in so many ways.

PLEASE comment!

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

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PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 20, Scene 6  [Kary]

Thanks to Quozio for the quote software.


Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2015.

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 20, Scene 5

This week’s post continues the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 20, with Scene 5 (1.20.5). (Next-to-last scene for Book 1.)

I wrote, last week, “No snow any more, warm weather, and I even went out for a short walk yesterday.” I haven’t gone for a walk since.

We had a late snowstorm – 3-4″ of fluffy new stuff – I missed going to a concert because it was supposed to freeze on the roads. Aargh!

Enough! It is now officially spring here, and the weather is all over the place – it will be 60 later in the week and something horrible over night. My head hurts.

I have 20.5 for you, barely dry in the ink from coming back from the beta reader, bless her soul (thanks, Rachel) for the rush (somebody has to see these things before I let them out into the world).

I will not drive myself crazy – but I also like where everything is going (said as a writer, not a reader), and I’ve known this for literally a decade, so I can’t run away now, can I?

Comments gratefully accepted.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

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PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 20, Scene 5  [Andrew]

Thanks to Quozio for the quote software.


Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2015.

What would I do if I got well? Guest post by Gay Lyon

GAY LYON – ANSWERING A CFS SURVEY HAS A COST

This week I once again answered one of those surveys asking “What would you do if tomorrow you were well?” I did it because I know it helps put a human face on this disease. In a positive way, it shows policy-makers that we’re just ordinary people, and it lets them know that ME/CFS prevents us from doing things that healthy people take for granted. It’s designed to tug at their heartstrings, much the way the poster child did for polio.

But I find that answering that question takes a toll on me. It leaves me sad.

In the years I’ve been sick, I’ve learned not to dwell too much on the past, or to think too much about the future. I find it easier to maintain a positive outlook when I take each day as it arrives.

To ask “What would you do if tomorrow you were well?” is really rather cruel. It asks us to revisit the life we imagined we’d have, the life that this disease prevents. It reminds us of the dreams and plans we had, which we’ve had to abandon.

I feel the same deep sadness sometimes when I get a chance to visit my former life for a time. If I’m having a good day and manage to do something I used to enjoy, I find that the pleasure I have in doing it is mixed with sadness. Even something like watching travel programs or cooking shows or home improvement shows, which I used to enjoy, aren’t really enjoyable when I know I can’t actually do those things. Or visiting with an old friend, remembering the things we used to do together and the things we planned, which they now do without me.

I’m generally a cheerful person. And I work at staying that way. I find things to enjoy in my life as it is, here and now, even if they’re small things, like the way the light shines through the leaves, or how my cat bosses me around. I like to think that what my life lacks in breadth, I make up for by noticing details that give it depth.

But every time I’m asked to think about “What if…”, what if things were different, what if I were well, it makes me focus on what’s lacking, instead of what I have. And it leaves me sad for a few days, until I can forget about those dreams and expectations I had, and get back to cultivating gratitude for all that I have.

I’ll probably continue to answer the question when I think it will do some good. But I wonder if the people asking the question know the cost of answer it.

Or maybe it’s just me.

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Thanks, Gay. I don’t think it’s just you.

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 20, Scene 4

This week’s post continues the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 20, with Scene 4 (1.20.4).

No snow any more, warm weather, and I even went out for a short walk yesterday.

I have been working all day on a tax problem – aargh! I wanted to write, I’m ready to write, and I couldn’t take the time. Tax problem is, however, almost finished, so I should be able to write most of 20.5 tomorrow (yeah, the buffer is non-existent at this point).

Don’t worry – I won’t drive myself nuts – but Book ! is almost finished, and my brain keeps leaping ahead to Book 2.

I had a fun thing today – two new binge readers (hi, whoever you are, and welcome) who read the whole of Book 1. Amazing – and put a smile on my face. I would LOVE to hear from them, and hear what they thought.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

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PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 20, Scene 4  [Bianca]

Thanks to Quozio for the quote software.


Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2015.

Writing, death, intellectual property, and me

WHY THE FOCUS ON DEATH AND WRITING?

We are losing our older artists. Which means none of us is immune to Death. Fancy that.

Not that long ago, we lost both Elmore Leonard and Leonard Nimoy.

Sir Terry Pratchett, 66, just died of ‘complications of a chest infection and Alzheimer’s,’ according to the news, and was an advocate of the ‘right to die’ movement. May he rest in peace.

I am fast approaching the same age.

And we all know of writers whose fans are desperately hoping they will finish X before kicking the bucket.

So what do we do about it?

Other than not plan to die (I understand we are subject to the event, but had assumed, in my case, an exception would be made)?

In the same day, I run into, again, Neil Gaiman’s recommendation to write your will so it protects your intellectual property.

Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch have nagged unceasingly (thank you both) for having a tidy intellectual property disposal set up before you die, partly as the result of having had to deal with a huge estate, and partly because they will each leave a huge literary estate.

We need to update our wills. Most people do, even if they wrote one once. And many writer’s wills were written before they had much IP to protect.

I have no published works yet, so I have no actual intellectual property of that sort. But I am approaching publication for the first book of Pride’s Children, and I have a heck of a lot of notes.

What happens to an unfinished story when the writer leaves this mortal coil?

This bothers me, because I have barely approached the end of Book 1, and though I have a very rough draft of sorts for Books 2 and 3 (and 4, if you consider it separate), I worry about leaving people who like the story (a tiny contingent) and the characters without knowing what the end is.

Unless I get to write the remainder of Pride’s Children, it has no real value as intellectual property; it is unfinished, and not important enough to leave to someone else to finish.

Once it IS finished, it will be important for any monetary value my work has, to designate a proper executor for my literary estate, and have it managed to maintain any value it has.

If my disease progresses faster than expected, I hope to have time to leave things tidy.

But in between, if I get hit by a truck, no one will know how Pride’s Children ends. Worse still, I have promised a certain kind of ending, and it is not the least bit obvious how to get from where the last scene is, to this ending. I believe in happy endings, earned.

Solutions?

I have been thinking I need to publish a TV-synopsis-like list of the future episodes, subject to change as it is reworked, or give it to someone as the final post on my blog.

Or better still, publish it on my blog by SCHEDULING it in advance, and moving that publication date forward frequently, so that IF I die unexpectedly, and stop moving it forward, it will get published automatically before someone has the chance to stop my blog from going forward.

I am committed to the story – I know how it ends – what do you think of this idea?

Early morning writing: becoming ME again

STANDARD WRITING PROBLEM: GETTING STARTED, BUTT-IN-CHAIR (BIC)

I have been battling early morning starts.

I got to the computer chair, but I wasn’t making the decision to block the net for several hours and get my writing done, even though that’s what I always want to do, and it’s the only time I can (before the world crashes in and demands things).

So I stopped to have a think – usually a good idea.

DATA: What is actually going on?

And I found that the first thing I was demanding of my bleary-eyed self was a huge decision: blocking out all my writing time, and getting to work.

And I couldn’t make that important a decision – yet. So I’d surf for a while, check the emails, searching for something ‘out there’ that would get me started, all the while dumping the vast garbage dump that is the internet (even when you confine yourself to a few well-known blogs) into my brain for composting.

Don’t even ask me to do yoga or go for a walk – the decision-making engine isn’t on yet, and I wake up stiff as a board.

It occurred to me I was going about it wrong: what if the answer wasn’t ‘out there,’ the trigger, the jump start, the on switch? What if reading and commenting and bookmarking – just because my brain wasn’t up to full speed – was actually physically counterproductive.

One of the most difficult jobs we do is to mine for gold nuggets from the tons of ore – because it takes brain power to mine, and the brain ends up loaded with stuff which must be cleaned out before it can think.

Copying my writing process: who am I?

I do that when I switch pov on my characters: I take some time to ‘become the character again.’ I re-read the character’s last scene, and the end of the previous scene (if the previous scene was a different character). I take the time, think it through.

What if the first thing I have to do every morning, as in every scene, is to become ME again?

Instead of looking at the early morning planning time as: check the to do list, pick the important stuff, load the brain up, whip it into action, hurry, time is running out – what if I see it as (though it doesn’t feel this way – maybe from years of assault?) time to remember who I think I am, and to let a positive attitude (preceded by smile and prayer) to creep into my brain BEFORE I subject it to the long list of things I WOULD do today (most of which won’t get done)?

Am I reinforcing my own brain fog?

What I really want: to write

I am a writer. That is a constant PLEASURE.

Regardless of how my writing time is spent, in principle I allow myself some each day – because that’s what I’d do if I had no pressures on me.

Writing is ME.

Writing is pure JOY – and I do it playing in my own mind, with only myself for company.

Wow.

I don’t need those people I keep looking for on the internet, in my family, in emails which sometimes come but most often do not.

My best play time is spent alone, unless I’m too tired to enjoy it.

Writing is how I communicate with my soul, though I will confess: NOT all of what I think will ever get written. Someone may later read my words and be hurt. I can’t keep frustration – we all have it – completely out, but I try not to do it deliberately, and certainly don’t want people to be hurt by what I really think – which I do only part of the time, anyway. We ALL have relationships with other people which VARY by the minute. Relationships are the sum of what we feel and think PLUS what we let out, conscious that we are not perfect ourselves.

Now that I know what I WANT, what do I DO?

Behavior – which includes speech – IS in our control.

Even thoughts – indulge the thought or work to replace it with a more loving Christian one?

Think of a pink elephant in the room.

Now imagine painting nice blue spots on it with a big brush.

Controlling your thoughts isn’t that hard.

And not having to deal with the huge playground/temptation/bottomless pit that is the internet before I’m even human seems to help. A breather. For my soul.

Update after a week: It is working!

I block the internet for a half hour only, and use that time to just sit at the computer, wake up, start the day by becoming ME again.

I’m starting the day with a brain just a physically muddled – that has to do with the disease, and there doesn’t seem to be a way of modifying it (yet): not caffeine, not breakfast or skipping breakfast, not sleeping little or a lot.

But, the same way I become a character before I write from that pov, I’m becoming myself before I have to face the world with it.

After the half hour, I take a superquick (less than 10 minutes, with the timer on) look through the emails and ask myself if things can wait. 99% of the time they can – and it seems so much easier to re-block the net for a bunch of hours and get to work than it had been.

Lesson: keep watching yourself.

Somewhere in your own data may be the answers to your questions. You know yourself better than anyone.

Does any of this resonate with your process for getting started – and around you wasting your own time? Or is it just me?

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 20, Scene 3

This week’s post continues the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 20, with Scene 3 (1.20.3).

This is NJ. We have lots of snow on the ground, but today’s high temperature was 54°F. Yup.

The snow slid off the solar panels sometime in the last couple of days, leaving them clean and sparkly (the snow grabs onto the dust). We are making our own electricity again.

My darling beta reader Rachel graciously read ahead again – I’m barely keeping ahead of my Tuesday serializing – and I’m partway through 20.5! One after that, and we will be writing To Be Continued – and taking a bit of a breather.

When I remember I started with a buffer of forty scenes before I posted the first one, and up to yesterday had a buffer of 0 scenes, you’ll realize how slow a writer I am. I had hope to post a scene every week/writer a new one every week. Ha!

OTOH, they get so much better with the slow percolating, and the subconscious keeps throwing up stuff to connect in, so I guess it’s necessary stewing time. I’m way too close to it – don’t trust my own judgment any more. It’s up to you guys.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

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PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 20, Scene 3  [Kary]

Thanks to Quozio for the quote software.


Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2015.

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 20, Scene 2

This week’s post continues the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 20, with Scene 2 (1.20.2).

Winter is hanging on, into March.

I took the car to the shop this afternoon, and drove back hours later in falling snow and slush on the roads and everyone in NJ driving very carefully. It makes everyone’s commute longer.

It seems these days everything keeps me from writing, and yet, the writing continues. Carefully selecting and editing and thinking ahead to the next part, while closing this one down, makes for a lot of time to do each of these last scenes in Book 1.

The writing demands to be followed to the bitter end of where the Muse is taking it; I just go along for the ride. I can’t make it deviate an iota from where it wants to go.

I think that is good.

I am now working with no buffer. Sacrifices of goats welcome. If I can just stay no less healthy than I am normally. Colds are circulating everywhere, in this household and my assistants and the grocery store and church…

Pride is a sin for a reason, so I’m not going to worry if I can’t post each week – worry gets in the way of writing. I can’t control what happens any more than you can.

Stay well.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

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PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 20, Scene 1  [Kary]

Thanks to Quozio for the quote software.


Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013-2015.