2023 Update on B1 megadoses, CFS, and writing


I never intended to stop writing blog posts here, and at the books’ site – it just sort of happened, for the usual reason these things happen to me: there is only so much energy left to someone with ME/CFS after dealing with it during a day, and only so much of it doesn’t have active brain fog, and stress makes it worse, never better (I don’t have the equivalent of being able to supercharge with caffeine, adrenaline, or, well, anything).

So ‘things happening’ and climbing to the top of the priorities lists (as they always do) means other things get neglected.

I’ve posted some when I had a little energy, but I have about twelve STARTED posts, six per blog, because when I have an idea I quickly create a new one, think up a temporary title, possibly even create a graphic (thanks, Stencil, for 10 free ones a month), sketch in a few quick notes… And usually follow up. Which I haven’t been up to doing lately.

Erratic is the result. Sometimes people even forget you exist.

And they certainly don’t have time in their lives to track another blogger down.

COMMENTING keeps my hand in

and serves a second purpose: getting the brain cells trained toward thought and typing.

If I find an interesting post, I will leave a comment if I have anything to contribute to the conversation. Bloggers don’t get enough engagement, and they put a lot of thought into the posts, and seem to like even my digressions (ON their topic) enough not to block me. Online I’m more of an opinionated extrovert than I manage in person. I still try to keep it civil and not sound as if I’m the ultimate authority on the subject – my rule for myself is, “If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it at all.” True internet anonymity is not my style.

If I get it wrong, I apologize. Text exchanges inherently lack nuance, and more than once I’ve interpreted something my way and found out from a reply that it was meant some other way. Even with knowing the blog or FB stream, it happens. Twice in the last year the best response was to delete what I said. Not too bad, considering I flap my fingers thousands of times. And have strong opinions of my own.

But commenting doesn’t mean I’m capable of organizing and finishing a post of my own; often it means the opposite.

THE BIG ONE is almost finished

I wish it had been another piece of fiction, but it wasn’t. It was a tax problem which affected me, has taken a lot of time to resolve, and is ALMOST finished, which is why I can START thinking about how to use my time for my writing again.

I like to contribute as much as I can to problems which are partly mine. And this one was big enough that I needed to maintain as much of my usable ‘good time’ for it every day – and ONLY for it – because I have such a small amount of it that it really can’t be split and still get anything accomplished. It also took almost all of my assistant’s time in the two 2-hour sessions I had with her over months, so I got no other benefit from her time most sessions.

But the problem slowly got pinned down and then solved, piece by piece, because I CAN do that, still, if I HAVE to.

I fear for when this is no longer true.

And worry that other things aren’t getting done.

But I refuse to be a parasite just because I am disabled, and I COULD help with this one, so I did.

And I still managed to get Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD published – by spending the money, and having my good friend Bill Peschel do the cover and formatting work. Yes, he was great. No, he’s not making a career of that part of it – he has enough work of his and his wife’s to keep him quite busy, thankyouverymuch.

Otherwise I would be sending everything I could his way. Our loss.

The PHYSICAL parts I will gloss over:

The first was necessary and long postponed surgery (due to the pandemic) last September (which is why I had someone else help get NETHERWORLD out – you never know for sure if you’ll come out of surgery). And a totally unexpected VERY painful recovery and meds mess; mostly over now.

The second, this year, for the fun of it, was a trip to the ER because of chest pain. Did you know that half of the time you have chest pain AND elevated troponin (a cardiac enzyme) levels, it is NOT a heart attack, but you’ve probably done something and deprived your hear muscle of adequate oxygen for a while? But they can’t tell without dragging you to a hospital WITH a cardiac unit, and performing an angiogram to see if any of your stents have plugged up OR you need a new one OR, I assume, something else is wrong. Big fuss. Hospitals (2). Days (3). Recovery (a good week). All of this very difficult when you already have ME/CFS. I will not be doing carpet scrubbing bent over any more. The good new was that I don’t need more stents; the bad part was that I already knew that from the angiogram required prior to surgery last September. And the final word was from the cardiologist who released me who said, “Well, that should be good for another 2 – 5 years,” and who probably wasn’t thinking that I’d had one four months before which should have meant I was okay now. I’m grateful they don’t take chances, but the effect on my tiny life was astronomical.

That’s me ‘glossing over’ anything. For Heaven’s sake, the woman likes to talk! Maybe the second paragraph will help someone else in the future…

Now that I’m supposed to be getting MY life back…

all I want to do is finish LIMBO, and see if I can shorten the 3-5 year expected time to write and publish it.

The other tasks (some of which I’ve been kicking along in little bits of time) include:

Getting readers and reviews for NETHERWORLD. Seven 5* reviews/ratings is a lovely start. Selling one copy in February 2023 is not. ARCs are slowly going out to the reviewers who said they were waiting for it, but it is a long time commitment (about 12 hours to read, plus the time it takes to review), and each ask takes me a couple of days of my tiny bits of leftover ‘second best time.’

Submitting to awards. NETHERWORLD was a Finalist for the 2022 Indies Today Awards, a decent showing for the second novel in a trilogy (PURGATORY won 2021 Best Contemporary novel from Indies Today last year). I’ve submitted to one other award – will know in May – but investigating awards which are good to have has taken a lot of time, and applying to them is getting expensive. I have more to say about help on that front, but won’t, for now.

Marketing. Two attempts to get help from ‘professionals’ have resulted in nothing yet; one of the companies has ghosted me twice (hmmm).

Mainstream literary fiction – the best way to categorize what I write – is a difficult sell if you’re a self-published author; even my Facebook group admin for marketing it has stated they ONLY take their recommendations from regular media (in their case, broadsheets (newspapers) of significant repute which still have review sections). Discouraging.

My somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about how to go viral with literary fiction left me with finding the right influencer as the main method, and I’m trying, but it’s even harder than finding reviewers!

I had at one time the thought of looking at the reviews of popular traditionally-published literary novels – and targeting the readers who DIDN’T like those – until I realized what a huge effort that might be (there were thousands), and decided it would be better to spend the energy writing LIMBO, as having a COMPLETE trilogy is considered far better than having only one or two volumes finished. I’m not sure I believe that – there was a lot of publicity (much of it expensive PAID publicity) for Elena Ferrante’s quartet before the last two came out – but my record for marketing up until now is unprepossessing. At best.


The pandemic – and waiting for surgery – did a number on the fun things here at our retirement community.

I’m now able to go out (when it’s warm enough) and ride around on Maggie (my Airwheel S8, a bicycle seat on a hoverboard) on and off our campus. I’ll have to build up to doing that more – and possibly find new people to do it with.

I will be going back to using our pools, including the nice warm therapy pool I love to bob in for a half-hour or less, followed by the huge but necessary time-wasting of a shower with hair-washing.

I hope to regenerate our folk-singing group, on hiatus because singing in an enclosed space turned out to be a really good way to spread the virus, but will have to find a safe way to do that (a bigger, better-ventilated room would help). It has been so many years since we sang together that it will be practically a new venture.

I’m back to using B1 (150mg of benfotiamine + 500mg of Vitamin B1, 2-3 times daily) plus B12 (liquid B12, dropperful sublingually up to 8 times daily) because they or the combination seems a LITTLE bit better than nothing for getting me to have a usable brain.

And I continue to write better when blocking the internet with FREEDOM or ANTI-SOCIAL for a given chunk of time, so I don’t get sidetracked (I’m easily distractible – shiny!).


All the obvious:

blog posts

sales for the books

publishing Too Late, the prequel short story


finding MY readers out of the vast sea of not-my-readers

maybe some short stories about Kary, Andrew, Bianca – and offspring

the next big writing project/book

publicity of some kind – possibly including me if there is enough interest

the as-read-by-author audiobooks

the easier hardcover and large print books

applying for relevant awards

and always, finding ways to persuade reviewers whose reviews I like that they will enjoy reading MY story, and will possibly encourage me by giving the books one of their lovely reviews.


I think that’s about it. Y’all are sort of up-to-date about my MIA status.

I no longer have a BookSprout account (it didn’t produce a single download or review of either PURGATORY or NETHERWORLD in a year), so contact me (comments or About for the email address) if you would like an ARC and would CONSIDER writing a review; I don’t nag.

If you like my fiction, there’s a lot of short stuff here

I am always honored when a reader recommends Pride’s Children to friends or family. Or BOOK CLUB!

Visit the Pride’s Children blog for more about the books (including questions for book clubs!) and to read the prequel. If you FOLLOW there, you’ll find out more about LIMBO and timing and sales when I send out the occasional email/newsletter.

Pray for stability to my life – it helps the writing.


33 thoughts on “2023 Update on B1 megadoses, CFS, and writing

  1. J Reeve Fox

    Great to hear from you. I’m happy to know some things are going better for you. Such a long blog entry! You are a force! Hang in there! jrf


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      🙂 In person, I watch the other person’s face, and try to stop talking long before their eyes glaze over. On my blog, I know they can stop reading whenever they need to – and suit myself. Getting it all out means I don’t have to write multiple blog posts on the boring subject of “Why I haven’t been blogging.”


  2. Jennifer

    I will hope for stability for you, Alicia. I am so looking forward to ‘Limbo’. THEN, we will be able to talk about the characters (I am reluctant to do so until I have read ALL the books).


  3. cagedunn

    We can but do the things one at a time, but the pool and the singing are the energy fillers – all the time locked down, I prayed to earn enough money to buy my own pool so I could do the therapy at home. It was the best form of ‘fixing’ the less than exemplary body parts.
    Go well into each day, a light to shine on the path forward.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      The best part of the pools (three plus two hot tubs) is that they are someone else’s responsibility to clean, keep the water maintained, deal with the pool furniture and the cover.

      For me, unfortunately, all of the activities are a use of very scarce energy I can’t replace. And our residents in general have abandoned masks, so I don’t feel safe going out much.

      My usual (before last year) was to do the writing – whatever portion of a day that took – and then see what was left – but this is a pretty place, and I should get out more for my mental health. Which is a problem if I’m afraid of catching something when I do go out.

      Nothing fixes anything with this stupid disease. It’s a constant calculus of whether I can do something today without messing up tomorrow’s writing – plus all those maintenance things like seeing a dentist every once in a while, and then paying for that exertion for days whether I want to or not.

      You get used to arranging as much as possible to cope, unless you miscalculate, or something like the hospital ‘visit’ throws you off for days. And to being very stingy with the extras, so your writing happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory

    Don’t ever apologise for commenting! The whole purpose of blog posts is to start conversations. There’s nothing better than waking up to find that people on the other side of the world have left a comment. Actually, I tell a lie, there is one thing better: it’s realising that you’re becoming part of a community. 🙂
    I’m much relieved to know that you are getting over the physical hurdles you faced this last year. The sooner you can get back to writing the better but…within reason! I know you’re always careful, but all our deadlines are self-imposed. Readers will wait.


      1. acflory

        -sigh- I’d like to be one of those writers. Sadly the book buying hordes have been going elsewhere. I’m telling myself it’s because I’m effectively invisible, but on bad days I think they just don’t like me. 😦


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          It is hard to find the right ones; if our kind are x% of the reading public, and 100-x is much larger than x, we have to somehow find the few by methods we haven’t discovered yet.

          I doubt I’m unique, but I’m probably niche, in a small niche.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. acflory

          I think I’m in a small niche as well, Alicia. Sci-fi is still considered to be a male dominated genre with military scifi being the biggest, and most popular sub-genre. The stories I write are probably more scifi than the lasguns and FTL beloved of guys, because 95% of what I write is /possible/, but…I write scifi that focuses on people. That makes it ‘soft’, and most guys don’t like soft scifi. -sigh-


        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Some do – you just have to find them.

          Some of my favorite reviews are from older men who say, “I don’t normally read this kind of book.” Usually, I persuaded them personally to try.

          I got to know their tastes from the Compare Books algorithm on GR; I made a list of books (my Compare Books list), and have approached the ones who indicate they like, say, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, or The Thorn Birds – and write literate reviews.

          Pick your best SF comps – and look for the people who have written good reviews of them.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          When nothing else was working, and I had exhausted the people I had chatted with on the various blogs I follow… It also results, if I get a review, in a high rating. Doesn’t work, after all my effort, about half the time.

          But for me, Amazon ads don’t work. I think it’s because literary/mainstream readers use Amazon differently than genre readers: the lit folk don’t search on Amazon. I think they go prepared to buy something they heard about through one of their vetted magazines, blogs, or newspapers – inexpensively, and without the bother of having to go to a bookstore to purchase (bookstores probably hate this). So ads, which depend on searches and algorithms and bots, don’t get served to them (or get roundly ignored). I may be wrong, often am, but it seems to fit.

          Or I need to redo my descriptions and covers and keywords somehow…

          Liked by 1 person

        5. acflory

          To be honest, all of the ads I’ve seen so far seem like nothing more than a money grab. You pay for /clicks/. To me that’s insane. Luckily I can’t afford ads of any sort so I have to rely on word-of-mouth. One day… lol


        6. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Another thought: it probably doesn’t matter if you’re already famous, but getting to the place where you have name-recognition seems to be incredibly difficult so far (hence my tongue-in-cheek posts on How to go viral) – or very expensive (a proper PR agency), and with many of the things which make a good PR company client – the ability to go on TV if they get you a slot, a nice physical presence, etc. – totally missing in moi, I’m still poking around for a way to get influencers to READ enough to get hooked (if they might then have the interest).

          All pie in the sky for someone like me.

          For someone like you, SF is a recognized genre, and everyone knows (?) they need to have more women in it, so there might be a path that involves some traditional publishing (short story mags?) and applying for awards – to build up a presence. It might still be costly, but not the stratospheric costs of traditional PR. I’m sure you’ve tried most of my ideas already, but I keep thinking you have more of a chance of using the establishment to your benefit because SF has so many indies already. Not an expert at all, so I’m probably all wet, but a more level playing field for you maybe.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. acflory

          Fundamentally it all boils down to cost. And luck. I can’t afford to send my books away to competitions where you have to pay to play. Can’t afford ads. etc. And make no mistake, scifi is a man’s game. Yes there are exceptions, like C.J. Cherryh and Cyteen, but even there, Cherryh writes people centric scifi. How many guys would cite her as one of their favourite authors?
          Whether that’s true or not, I don’t actually know where to /find/ scifi readers, so the point is moot. -shrug-


  5. marianallen

    I can’t understand why an agent or book promoter wouldn’t be delighted to take you on. Your books ARE literary, but they’re also damn good stories, accessible on some level to any reader. Having talked to you electronically, I can recommend you to do short presentations on Instagram about your writing. ❤


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks, Marian – it’s annoying that I don’t have the energy for the things that are popular. I’d like to do all kinds of presentations, live interviews, etc.; cons and faires, and library offerings at my local library.

      And then I laugh at myself – I’m so unreliable, physically, that we’d be rescheduling all the time, and disappointing potential fans. I watched the whole Ferrante debacle happen, wishing I’d had the combination of publisher, agent, and publicity – she didn’t show up for a long time! That’s the kind of virality one envies. Somebody paid for it.

      When I started, the intention was to make the books at least pay for themselves. With last September’s surgery, and wanting to get NETHERWORLD out before it in spite of the tax problem, that’s gone out the window for now – but I still wouldn’t change what I did.

      Thanks for the kind words. I’ll figure it out – The books and I WILL get there – just don’t know how yet.


  6. Yorgos KC

    Good luck and best of success with everything. 🍀🍀🍀

    Life has its ways to rob us from time and energy, even without the health issues, so I can only imagine how much harder it can be for you.
    I don’t think any blogger would be displeased with a comment, even if it deviates from the subject. Unless, of course it’s an ill-intended one. After all, it shows – my perspective – that the reader felt a connection with the post, even if it was a different kind of connection than the one posting it thought it might produce. Each of us receive everything with our own unique minds, but that’s the beauty of it.

    I have no suggestions about marketing. I’m a proved failure at it – not that I’ve ever thought I’d be any good at it. If I ever decide to seriously market my work, I’ll go for a professional. But that company that ghosted you… they aren’t professionals, no matter what they claim! 🤨

    Well, I’ll stop here, Once again, best of luck and success with everything!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thank you – I am still careful to not be a pest with comments. It is a privilege to be allowed to comment on other people’s blogs, and should not be abused.

      If I want to say more, I’ll do it on my blog, and credit the source of the idea. Seems the polite thing to do. Many a time I’ve written a nice long comment, realized I’ve done it again, and started the draft of a new post of my own with the long version. I usually leave a much shorter and more appropriate comment on the post that stirred the reaction up. As you might do in conversation.

      Say anything you like – this one was a long one, and a mishmash – just be careful of ‘professionals’, and make sure you can both afford them, and are truly comfortable with the contract terms.

      Much of my problem with some of the marketing pros is that they get paid anyway, and do obvious stuff with no guarantee of results. “We will tweet to our followers” isn’t much of a promise.

      It’s best to have tried doing for yourself, as an indie, what their advertising claims they would do for you – and it shows up how hollow and trite some of their promises are.

      The only true proof is sales you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t employed them.

      If a PR person gets you on the Today Show, and you tried and tried and couldn’t do it yourself, you can credit their connections. But if you’ve never tried it – and the Today Show has a website or a contact form where you can make a case for a guest appearance – try that first. They can help with a lot of stuff, but it is expensive help, and maybe a PA is a better investment – you find the places to try getting gigs on, and let your PA do the paperwork.

      It also depends on what you’re aiming for; I know I want to be the indie Donna Tartt or Elena Ferrante. But I take 10-20 times longer to produce the work. And it has to be on merit, not sympathy. Heart, not inspiration porn. I don’t even want to talk to a promoter or publicity person who isn’t invested in the story, the writing – which makes it much harder.

      And, yes, I DO know what that makes me sound like.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yorgos KC

        Advice taken. And yes, I have seen some of those examples you said on Twitter, and they sound hollow enough even to someone as inexperienced as me.

        Keep your dream alive. Those dreams (or goals) motivate us to do our best. And always remember you are *you* and be happy with the steps you achieve. I’m with you re merit, not sympathy. 😁 And also, yes, both the promoter and the editor won’t do a good job if they aren’t invested in the story.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          They’ll tell you they do a competent professional job for all the books they take on; I do want more – I’m not going to be able to write that many, which is my problem, not theirs – but I need to find my targets, even among the paid promoters. To feel as if I have done the best job in finding them. It is, I think, what kicks in when something needs to be above and beyond.


Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.