Frigid Temperatures on the Way

I spent the morning getting my yard ready for the frigid weather that’s headed our way. I did one last watering, then stored the hoses and insulated the outside faucets.

And I planted bulbs.

After last year’s fiasco, where I planted many bulbs and almost none came up (due probably to my following directions and not watering them during the early spring drought as I probably should have), I hadn’t planned to do any more bulb gardens, but I donated a few dollars to the Arbor Day Foundation, and they sent me bulbs for a purple garden.

I followed their directions exactly. Dug down deep to loosen the soil in the whole garden area (as difficult as it was, it was easier than it sounds because this particular garden is only about two-and-a half by four feet), planted the bulbs at the requisite depth, and watered extremely well.

I took a picture of my garden, but it looks like . . . dirt! So here is the photo of what it would look next spring in the hands of a real gardener:

Halfway through all this work, I wondered if I was jumping the winter gun because I was HOT. By the time I finished rolling up the hoses, however, cold winds had sprung up, bringing a promise — or a warning — of cooler weather. Although the high today will be near seventy, the low tonight will be in the twenties, and tomorrow we won’t warm up beyond the mid-forties. Saturday will be warm again, in the seventies, and then it will get really cold, down to 10 or 15 degrees with a high around freezing. Brr. Just the thought makes me shiver.

Luckily, I just stocked up on tea! Nothing warms me — body and soul — like a special tea. The one I’m drinking now is called Breakfast in Paris, and is a combination of black teas, lavender, bergamot oil, and vanilla. Very nice! Though truthfully, I could still enjoy the tea if frigid temperatures weren’t on the way.

***

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Help My Publisher Buy a Maserati

If we sell enough Bob, The Right Hand of God books, my publisher says he will be able to buy a new Maserati. I doubt his choice would be purple, but still, it’s a pretty car.

I’m not sure if this desire of his for a new Maserati is a real wish or if it’s more a metaphor for selling a ton of books. Well, several tons. A ton of my books would be about 3,000 of them, and there’s no way the profits on that would get him anything but a junker. Still, it’s a goal to reach for, and then once that’s reached, we can aim for another ton.

And I? What would I buy from the proceeds of all these tons of books? There’s nothing I need right now, though I must admit financial solvency would be nice.

What would be even nicer is if large numbers of people read and enjoyed the book. I wouldn’t mind if fame didn’t come along with the the sales of those tons of books because fame is overrated. But I would like people to recognize the name of the book, maybe even my name as an author. And I’d like to be able to say, “I sold a ton of books,” and know it was the literal truth.

To help us reach this tonnage, after you read the book, I would appreciate your leaving a review on Amazon. It’s a relatively easy way of supporting the author you love (me).

***

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Yay! Publication Day!

Bob, The Right Hand of God has now been published! I am thrilled and delighted that Stairway Press took a chance on this novel. It’s special to me because it’s the last one that Jeff helped me brainstorm. His death put a hold on the book, and it took years for me to find the courage to finish it, but I did. And now look!

I can’t wait for you to meet Bob. In his own words:

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

When Bob appeared on television with this announcement, Chet Thomlin thought it was a segment from a science fiction movie.

Then people began to disappear.

And the world began to change.

Now you can experience that change yourself!

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Beaming Light

Today’s tarot card pick was the sun, or as this particular deck calls it, “The Beaming Light.” That’s the only sun I get today since the real beaming light is hidden behind clouds, a rarity in these parts. Still, the sun card is sufficient since it speaks of glory, gain, riches, success, creativity, and happiness.

I like the coincidence of the sun being the nineteenth card of the major arcana and this is the nineteenth day of the month. I’m not reading anything into that coincidence because I don’t think such a fluke has happened before, so there doesn’t seem to be any meaning to such a concurrence — it’s simply time for the numbers to coincide.

There is another interesting coincidence, however, that I would like to read something into (assuming there is any truth to the tarot). I did an online reading at a tarot site today, and the final card (the likely outcome) was the sun, too.

Which means to me that the significance of the sun is doubly correct! The sun certainly is bringing brightness to my day. Although tomorrow is the official publication day, my newest book, Bob, The Right Hand of God is available for sale on Amazon right now, a day early.

Such a pleasant surprise!

You can buy the print book today and have it delivered to you in about a week. Click here to order: Bob, The Right Hand of God. Or you can buy the Kindle version today and it will appear on your Kindle tomorrow. Click here to purchase: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

So yes! This is definitely a day of beaming light and happiness and all the good things I could wish for myself. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the “sun” comes true too — the glory, gain, and riches that will come from people discovering, reading, loving Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Countdown to Publication

It’s only ten days until the publication of my new novel, which will be published on October 20, 2020. If you would like to be notified by email when the book is available, click here: Bob, The Right Hand of God, sign up for email notifications, and Amazon will let you know the minute it is for sale. Meantime, here are a couple of brief excerpts to whet your interest:

The screen went black.

“Something must be wrong with the cable,” Isabel said. “I’ll call them tomorrow.”

After thirty seconds of whistles, hums, and buzzes, the picture came back on. Instead of the anchorperson, the head of a gnomish man with a round, bespectacled face, a bald pate, and a receding chin filled the screen.

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do. For another thing—”

Isabel clicked off the television and stood up. “We must have missed the news.”

Clutching the remote, she stalked to the guestroom and shut the door.

Chet continued to stare at the darkened screen. He would have liked to see more of Bob—looked like it could have been an interesting science fiction movie—but dealing with Isabel exhausted him. He didn’t have the energy to get up and manually turn the television back on.

[The next day, John the butcher stopped by Chet’s pet store with entrails and such for the reptiles. They talked for a bit, then John started to leave, hesitated, and turned back.]

“Does it feel a little strange to you today?”

“Strange how?”

“I don’t know. Just a creepy feeling I have, like a storm’s coming.” John twitched his shoulders. “Probably nothing. Maybe I let that Bob thing get to me.”

“What Bob thing?” Chet asked.

“Some guy pulled an April Fool’s prank last night. Hacked into the television signal. Claimed he was The Right Hand of God. Silly, but I’ve been feeling creepy all day.”

“I thought it was a movie.”

“Nope. A friend of mine at Channel Ten told me they lost the signal for about five minutes.”

Chet shivered. “Now I’ve got the creeps. Thanks a lot.”

And so the saga begins . . .

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Oh, Look! My Book!

My new novel will be published on October 20, 2020. If you’d like to be notified by email when it’s available, click here: Bob, The Right Hand of God, sign up for email notifications, and Amazon will let you know the minute it is available.

All Chet Thomlin wants is to be left alone to care for the abandoned and neglected animals at his store, Used Pets, but his obnoxious customers and clinging mother make life miserable. And nothing ever seems to change.

On April Fool’s day, a gnome-like little man appears on television. He introduces himself as Bob, the Right Hand of God, and says that as part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park.

Chet laughs at the prank, but then bizarre things happen. Carrier pigeons return, millions of them, darkening the sky as they hadn’t done for over a hundred years. His mother and her entire subdivision are wiped off the face of the earth. And his friends disappear.

On Easter Sunday, a bright light appears, and Bob tells the remaining population of Denver that if they enter the light, they will be safe from the reconstruction zone. Chet watches people enter one by one, but he refuses to step forward, thinking that he’d rather have his freedom than to be in a dubiously safe place.

The light fades, and Chet gets what he wanted. He is left alone. Well, except for Bob. Bob won’t let him be. Bob calls Chet on his now defunct cellphone, taunts him, plays with his senses. Being chosen by The Right Hand of God is no fun!

Even worse, Chet gets more change than he can handle. Plumbing and all other signs of civilization vanish. Denver becomes a prairie of blue flowers that sweep into an inland sea where a prehistoric monster lives. Volcanoes grow at his feet.

And Chet has become prey.

Maybe going into that mysterious light wouldn’t be so bad after all . . .

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Kill Your Darlings

“Kill your darlings,” is a quote by Stephen King. No, it was William Faulkner. No, it was Agatha Christie. No, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well, of course, they all said it, but the first use of the construction appeared in print a hundred years ago by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who urged wannabe writers to murder their darlings. (Quiller-Couch was the inspiration for Rat in “The Wind in the Willows.” It’s amazing the things you can find out with a bit of research!)

By definition, darlings — those parts of our manuscripts that we love even when they don’t advance the story — are painful to kill, but some are more painful than others. Originally, More Deaths Than One was designed to be a series of stories told to Bob Stark (so named to remind me that he seems an ordinary fellow, but is stark of speech). It was through listening to the various stories that he was to discover the truth about himself, but though the idea had merit, the first draft was terrible. Bob barely surfaced in his own story, and the storytellers themselves seemed disembodied. I rewrote the book several times, trying to find the right way to tell the story, but it wasn’t until the fourth draft when I gave Bob a love interest, a waitress he met at a coffee shop, that the story took off. He had someone to butt heads with, someone to ooh and aah over his achievements, someone to be horrified at what had been done to him.

After the story took focus, the original idea of Bob learning about himself from tales told to him had to be scrapped, and some of those tales — those darlings — had to be scrapped. It was hard to get rid of those sections, but I did it for the sake of the story.

In my soon-to-be-published novel, I didn’t have any darlings — at least, I don’t think I do — because as I was writing the book, I remained focused on what I needed to accomplish. This is the first book I wrote with a theme in mind, and that helped considerably. If something didn’t further illuminate the theme of freedom (how much freedom we’re willing to give up for security, and how much security we’re willing to give up for freedom) I didn’t even bother to develop the scene.

Not everyone is able recognize let along kill their darlings, especially if those darlings are the whole reason for writing the book. For example, I just finished reading a novel that had been given to me by a friend of the author. It was readable, but his darlings destroyed the story. The book reads as if it’s a roman à clef, a story of the author’s struggle with alcoholism, which would be fine if that’s what he wanted. But apparently, he also wanted to write a political thriller, which gave the book a rather strange duality, as if two different stories had been cobbled together.

Authors, of course, can write whatever they wish, with unkilled darlings galore. But once they decide to write a particular type of story, they have to focus on the story they want to write, and to edit out anything that doesn’t fit. (Like a sculptor, chiseling away at all of the marble that doesn’t benefit the artist’s vision.)

Because the first half of this particular book was all about the personal story, the second half with the political intrigue was shortchanged. The author relied too much on current events to piece the story together, which kept him from having to fully develop the president or the situation he was involved with. The author just assumed everyone would know. Even worse, there was no conflict in the political part of the story, just internal vacillation as the character tried to decided if he wanted to finish the course of action he had started.

The author would have been so much better off using the personal part to add depth to the political part. Also, adding conflict to the political intrigue would have turned it into the thriller the blurb described.

The only reason this matters to me is that I read the book. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have cared because I wouldn’t know.

I suppose more than anything, this book is a reminder to myself to kill my darlings or, even better, don’t bring them to life in the first place.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Writing a Book Summary

Blogging is easy for me. It’s mostly a matter of letting my stream of consciousness flow through my finger tips onto the page. There’s not a lot of thinking, because either the thinking has been done or my thoughts are being processed as I write. The only time it’s hard is when my mind is blank — it’s hard to stream something that isn’t there. Often, though, I can start writing and an idea will show up that I can develop into a blog post, even if it’s only to say that my mind is blank.

Writing novels isn’t that difficult once I get started. It’s more a matter of sitting down and working out the puzzle and trying not to get bored by the necessary scenes. (The scenes that are necessary to the story, but that have been in my head so long it seems as if they’ve already been written.) What’s hard is getting started. To me, writing a novel is about finally getting the story out of my head, but if there is no story caroming around trying to get out, I have no real impetus to write.

Writing at someone else’s request is whole other situation. It feels too much like homework, and although I never minded homework when I was young, at least I don’t think I did, my mind now balks at having to do something by request.

This latest “something” isn’t onerous. It just feels like it because of the aforesaid balky mind. I’m supposed to be writing a summary of my soon-to-be-published book (my publisher is aiming for October 20!). Even though it’s been a while since I last worked on the book, I mostly remember it. (I’m looking forward to the day I completely forget so I can read it as if it’s new to me.) I just need to summarize it in a way that will entice everyone to read it. Because of course everyone will want to read the book, they just don’t know it yet. And it’s not as if I have to write a synopsis of the whole thing to get a publisher interested, because he already is interested and working on putting the book together. All I need is a short 300 word blurb and a longer 3000 word summary.

Shouldn’t be difficult, right? But apparently, I prefer to write about writing the blurb than to actually write it.

You’d think I would have been smart enough to have already written it, knowing the book was going to be published, but somehow, just like with homework, I’ve put it off until the last minute. (Actually, that’s not true. For the most part, I think I did homework right away so I wouldn’t have it hanging over me.) In this way, at least, I was much more disciplined as a child.

But I am thinking about the synopsis, so that’s something, right? Maybe if I think about it long enough, it will pretend to be a blog post and I can just let it flow through my fingers onto the page.

Then the real work starts: a bio. You’d think after almost 3,000 blog posts, many of them about my life, it would be easy to come up with something interesting to say in a bio, but nope. Total blank.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.