About

Welcome!

I’m Alicia (ah-lee-see-ah). I use the whole thing: Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt. No ‘B.’ No hyphen. And no, I’m not related to Amelia. My middle name is Guadalupe.

In case you are wondering: I knew as a teen living in Mexico that some day I would write, and I invented a name for myself – Liebja (lee-ebb-jah). I remembered it all these years, used it in email addresses and comments, and originally planned to have it as a pseudonym. There was wonder and mystery in being unknown. True anonymity is rare these days, and hard to maintain: I will publish under my complete name, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, but I honor that commitment to writing – and the fact that I invented something Google hadn’t seen until me – by keeping it around. Maybe some day I will be known by the single word.

I cannot not write. Fiction is my hobby – mainstream, SF, mystery, ? – and I will e-publish myself some time in the future when I’m satisfied I’m ready for prime time.

I commented as ABE when I first started, now I just use the whole thing.

My children, who were home-schooled, consider me opinionated and stubborn; they are mostly on their own, and a credit to their parents.

DH teaches physics and chemistry to lucky students at a magnet-type HS, and has no time to have an opinion of me. He and I share a love of science, a home in suburban NJ, a bird-and-butterfly garden, and a chinchilla named Gizzy. [Edited 5/14: Hubby is now retired! and doing a lot of pruning and bike riding.]

WRITING THE HARD WAY: I am a PWC (person with CFS); I try not to let it have more of my life than absolutely necessary, but it’s something I battle every day for possession of my brain. Sometimes I win.

I am teaching myself to walk again: my goal is to hike in the mountains around Seattle, and in Parks, National and otherwise.

I sing, garden, draw a little. I will tackle, subject to energy limitations, any household task short of Heating-and-Air-Conditioning. Including appliance repair. When my brain balks at learning something new, that’s when I know I have to.

I am Catholic, and was born in Southern California; grew up in Mexico; went to the UNAM, Seattle U., and U. Wisconsin-Madison. I have worked for JHU’s Applied Physics Lab, and Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Lab. I am part of a huge extended clan on both sides of the US/Mexico border. I am extremely grateful to have wonderful friends: they are responsible for my sanity, such as it is.

And now that we are introduced, I have to go take a nap.

All material on this page and in this blog is copyrighted. I own the copyright to all material I have created and posted on all the pages of this blog.

37 thoughts on “About

  1. Pearl Kirkby

    My husband says, “She looks like you!” Then, after reading your About, “Hey! She even sounds like you! Except her is CFS and yours is just mean, crazy and a history of mini-strokes!”

    I think he LIKES ya’!!😄😄

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      He had better have said ‘mean’ in a VERY nice tone of voice; I don’t like people who are mean to my friends.

      If he was saying it nicely, it’s okay. We don’t have a lot of control over some things – not as much as people think.

      When I was younger and fit, I thought there wasn’t anything in the WORLD I couldn’t work myself out of. I am here to tell you that’s a lie – you can’t exercise yourself out of CFS, for example – all you can do is make the crashes worse. You can’t exercise yourself out of a stroke – thought rehab can be important. And you can’t really control your weight much – the statistics are that 2% of people manage to lose a significant amount of weight with their doctor’s help, and keep it off 5 years (I can’t find my source).

      You can’t fix many, many things – but you can learn to live with some.

      And BTW, all those ads with perky spry old people – luck! I had planned to spend my retirement years hiking and traveling.

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      1. Pearl Kirkby

        Had to chuckle…the hubby was mostly quoting the kids, who would quote me!

        The worst Robin Williams movie, in my opinion, was “Popeye”; its saving grace is, well, Robin Williams! The hubster loves it. My grands, on the other hand, only like the songs…and their favourite – the one they call my theme song – is the one Bluto sings of himself: “I’m Mean!”

        You see, even though all my children had a father in their lives, real old school family dynamics…and an obsessive work ethic on “Dad’s” part (among other, more ugly issues)…left me in a Mother+Father position, for a very large swatch of the time. “Mean” ALMOST kept the unsavories away from my kids, and tough, ruthless and onery, combined with equally fierce love for my children…ALL children, in fact…meant my house was one of the safest in my neighbourhood. Even in a bad neighbourhood, my authority was rarely challenged…including by the odd drug dealer who thought my porch was a good place to do business…and got the end of a switch for his trouble!

        So, “mean” is actually a sincere term of endearment, when uttered by my family and close friends!!😄

        Control. Part of my philosophy is that we control NOTHING in life beyond our choices. We do what we are able with what what we have, we work around what we lack and we don’t worry about things we DON’T have…rather, we should be concerned with taking care of what we DO have.

        No self-pity (except for those times when we just REALLY need a vacation from “strong”!)…no blame; that’s not to say no anger when others cause us pain. And sometimes it’s difficult not to lash out when your own body betrays you. CFS was suggested when it finally became an “acceptable” diagnosis (too bad my employment and insurance ceased st the same time!), so I did my homework, honed my diet and activity levels and came to the conclusion (read: ‘hopeful’) that whatever goes wrong with the old bod, I can’t go wrong by just taking care of myself like Mama used to do…and time (and soc sec benefits) will eventually tell! Oh, and take strength from those who are even stronger than I, who have overcome far more serious conditions than I’ve ever faced!

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          We share a lot of philosophical points – no self-pity is a biggie. I’ve had it worse than some, but better than so many others. I consider myself blessed many times over.

          As for bodies, well, they will stop serving us at some point…

          And I’m glad ‘mean’ is a term of admiration and endearment – I really don’t like families in which one person seems to be picked on by the others. It is disrespectful – and the kids growing up in that environment learn the very bad habit that it’s okay to call mom ‘dumb’ or dad ‘clumsy’ or worse. I couldn’t live in that environment – too thin skinned not to see the barb underneath. That is meant, even when ‘I was just kidding – why are you so sensitive?’ is applied after the fact.

          Which makes me store that away for a character sometime (a passive-aggressive character). Hmmm.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Pearl Kirkby

          I won’t pretend that my children are perfect and have never been disrespectful, but they have the goodness in them to feel badly whenever they’ve slipped up and they will do their best to make amends. It hasn’t happened more than a few times in all these years, though (except at age 14…horrid year for each of them AND for me!)…and never when they were young.

          Wow, you’re so fortunate…91, 94, 9…what was it for “Mamina”? And just to be able to still gaze upon your mother’s face…even with her so far away…what I wouldn’t give…

          But yes, you’re right that there’s no good age for loss.

          My folks married a year or two after Daddy was released from the Army…combat injured…so of course they grew up during the Great Depression and we reaped the rewards of their survival and wisdom. And what a great time to grow up, even with the Missile Crisis, Civil Defense sirens and drill and, not so much, the Vietnam war. I think, though, that our generation had a pretty decent life.

          Lol…being a child of the Depression, Mama never stopped being frugal, though – and I’ll wager we have that in common also!! I’m glad she was that way, though; it’s how I learned my “be happy w/what you have” philosophy. I’ve enjoyed being fairly well off at times, but I’m much happier when I don’t have a surfeit of money…lower tax bracket satisfies my need for challenge – guess I’m REAL happy right now!!😄😄

          Certainly, the body gets old and worn. I just wish that my ‘can-do’ had kept up with my ‘want-to’ a little better! I also wish that my joints and back had agreed with my Superwoman mentality as a young woman. I really miss all that cartilege😀

          Oh! Just wanted you to know that I jumped on Amazon & read the sample chapters of PC earlier today. AND I read the reviews…that one person, though! There are ways and then there are ways, of giving a less-than-5-star review, and that person was just ill mannered.

          I read a book (I won it in Goodreads Giveaway) called Heng Mountain. I discovered that it wasn’t the book for me, but I still looked at it objectively and tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who enjoyed that type of book…and I think I wrote a good review, WHILE ADMITTING I DIDN’T CARE FOR IT!!

          That reviewer didn’t bother to even consider the fact that the book was just not her cup of tea…and that’s all she had to say! Honestly, there is enough in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon, that if she got the book, it’s on her that she didn’t like it…not your creative ability!

          I just cannot wait to get PC…July can’t come quickly enough!😀

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m working on it! Any constructive criticism you care to offer is welcome – and easiest to use right now, while I’m making changes.

      It’s a hard thing to do – and apparently there are a number of us putting it off. I wonder what the male/female differences might be. Since we are writing about ourselves, is there a difference in the way we are willing to speak about ourselves? I’ll keep an eye out – and check bios of all kinds.

      Also, introverts vs. extroverts might be worth exploring. I’m an introvert who likes people, but prefers them in small quantities at a time. I have extroverted sisters – they’re different. They can handle bunches.

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      1. dgkaye

        You sound a lot like my sister and me, with vast personality differences. I’m very outgoing, but still shy in a crowd.
        I’ve tweaked my bio so many times, and am not near happy with it. I know I have to change again. But like you said, our ‘about’ page can be more fun approach, than our more serious author bios. I must work on that. Time, time, give me more time, lol. 🙂

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          If you can write, and you can, you MAY also have the ability to slip into someone else’s skin.

          I found that the most fascinating part of writing: when I’m writing Andrew, I AM Andrew, as close as I can possibly be.

          So slipping into ‘publicist for my publishing company’ is not as much a stretch as it could be. I wouldn’t have too much trouble praising one of our writers, or making them seem attractive to a potential reader, if I were our publicist. Or I wouldn’t have a job. So that helps – I get some distance. I ask our authors: what are you most proud of? what has changed your life? what has made you the writer you are?

          When not writing their bio, writers can answer these questions. No one says, “Well, I found myself having written this novel, you see…” Because there is way too much work in even the shortest novel for someone not to have noticed themselves doing it!

          And a novelist is fundamentally different from one who has not written a novel. Like being a parent, you’re either one – or you’re not. The writer and the reader (except the reader who is also a writer, and those are the minority) both know that the writer has produced a product for sale, and the dickering is now over terms.

          Publishers and publicists used to serve as middlemen: here is this product produced by a mysterious writer which you will love to read. Suddenly, middlemen have value.

          But the indie writer who is doing everything herself is poking perfect strangers in the street and saying, “This is good. You will like it. Buy my book.” It’s a little less painful is I pretend I’m someone else.

          Lawrence Block said writers are naked under their raincoats, hoping someone will see who they really are anyway. It’s as good an analogy as I’ve found. The boldest writers sell their souls.

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        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          If you read Pride’s Children, you’ll see I did exactly that. Which is why it had to be right. And part of why it took so long to do.

          And why I have to finish the rest and get it all out.

          Kindle Countdown Deal starting tomorrow, btw.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Max Detrano

    Hi Alicia,
    I stumbled on your blog, and have been enjoying the archives. You’ve definitely done the heavy lifting with Scrivener. I’ve been using the program for a couple of years, 9mostly for short stories) and still learning its inuendos. I am ready to tackle the novel (I think). Would it be possible to have a copy of your Scrivener template for organising a novel? It would be much appreciated. All your posts are intelligent and informative. Thank you for your generosity!
    Max

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  3. Janna G. Noelle

    Heya, thanks for following my blog. I’ve been reading yours unofficially for a while now and figured I too should click the button and make it easier. And already I learned something new: I didn’t know your name is pronounced ah-LEE-see-ah.

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      1. Pearl Kirkby

        (Mama’s favourite saying, “You learn something new everyday; the day you learn nothing is the day you just go ahead and kiss your loved ones goodbye…cos yer done.” 😀

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          My grandmother liked that saying, too – and she was tickled pink when she learned her new thing each day.

          Sadly, her last 15 years or so were of learning nothing. She was 94 when she died.

          My mother turned 93 today! Sadly, she hasn’t really been with us for a long time. Before that, she was a force of Nature, and so was my Mamina.

          My daughter knows she comes from a long line of stubborn independent women with long lives. It’s a responsibility.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Pearl Kirkby

          One of my female characters…or all of them…will be uttering, “I’ve no more to learn.” upon the end(s) of their life/lives.

          My mother, too, was a force of nature, though she had to be pushed to the nth degree for it to burst forth; and she got it honest, too, from Granny! My daughters and older grandaughters carry those same characteristics…not many people are bold enough to “test” them!

          Mama passed 2 weeks before 9/11…she had been 70 yrs old for only 3 days. She said, “I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’m of the mind that she knew she had nothing more to learn here. 😞

          I’ve been blessed with children, friends and acquaintences…and a husband…who understand how different being orphaned later in life is. Faith…and my own stubborn determination to perservere (danggg…took me a whole 5 mins to drag up that word!!), not to mention imagining Mama’s constant nagging in my ear (😧😄) have also helped, though. Even through the veil of time she’s a force to be reckoned with!

          You’re fortunate to still have yours, even at a withdrawn 93 (and Happy Birthday to her!!).

          (I think you’re my first hero since 2003! 😄😄)

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        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Stubbornness is a good trait when it isn’t used to always get your way. When I think of what previous generations had to go through – my parents married during WWII – I am grateful my life has been so easy in many ways.

          We writers are a product mostly of humanity having a bit of spare time that wasn’t required just to survive, at least in the quantity we have us now.

          People do write when they’re starving or in other dire circumstances, but it is much rarer.

          I lost my dad two years ago – at 91! Up until Jan. 2014, my kids had four living grandparents 90 and over. It is STILL a huge loss – maybe a bit worse because you were so used to having them there. I don’t think there’s a good age to lose a parent.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. lizamaneli

    Hi Alicia,
    Would it be possible to have a copy of your Scrivener template for organising a novel? It looked eminently sensible to me and would be much appreciated. Your other posts have been very comforting as well, thankyou!

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  5. Rick

    Hello Alicia: I just recently obtained Scrivener and have been a long-time Dramatica user, and would be interested in working with your templates.
    Cheers,
    Rick

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Are you a screenwriter or a novelist, or some other beast? If a novelist, I’d like to know if you’ve published anything with Dramatica – curiosity. Most of the D folk are screenwriters. Maybe we can share notes.

      Question: did you successfully download the template from the blog? If not, drop me a line, and I’ll attach it to an email to you.

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  6. serendipitydoit

    Hi Liebja. Did you know that Liebja means Loveya, although the ‘Ja’ of course means ‘yes’. Thanks so much for your help, wink wink. I did it, and you can check out my first blog, if you can find it, ’cause I don’t really know what I’m doing yet. Now I’ll take a wander through your pages.

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  7. JD

    Hi, I read your post about the Scrivener templates (labels, etc.). Could you please send me your templates? I’m participating in NaNoWriMo 2013 and I’m interested in trying them out. Thanks so much. JD

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