Looking for Book Recommendations

The library here is closed until further notice, but luckily for me, they will take orders for books, and I can pick them up at a designated time. (This is so cloak and daggerish, it really tickles my funny bone.)

I do have an emergency stash of books (and an emergency e-stash for when my paper books are gone), but this cloak and dagger service might not be available for long, so I want to make use of it while I can and save my stash. The problem is there are only a few specific novels I want to read, so normally, I just peruse the shelves, grabbing any book with a title that catches my eye and a blurb that sounds interesting.

With the library closed, I cannot do that. Nor can I order any of the novels on my short list since all those would need to come from another library, and I’m not sure if inter-library loan is available during this time.

So, do you have any suggestions of books for me to order from the library? Or an author to research? They have to be traditionally published books (and authors) since for the most part, those are the sorts of books this library has.

Thanks for your help!

And no, this isn’t my library. Would that it were! It’s the library in a monastery in Prague.

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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.

Author Dynasties

I don’t particularly like Sue Grafton’s books, but I do admire her — she left her legacy as is, her series unfinished, and would not allow anyone to step up after her death and keep her characters alive.

Too many authors didn’t make that decision before they died, so their heirs made it afterward. For example, some classics are being brought back to life when authors today write unsanctioned sequels to beloved favorites, such as those who pretend to channel Jane Austen or Daphne Du Maurier. 

One of the few times posthumous writing was warranted was when Robert Jordan died before he could finish his modern classic, the fourteen volume Wheel of Time series. Another writer was hired to work with Jordan’s wife and Jordan’s copious notes to finish the series. Can you imagine going through decades with all those thousands of characters and millions of words only to be left hanging on the wheel without a resolution? So yes, it had to be finished. But once it was, it was done. There will be no more Robert Jordan books.

But some stories and authors’ names that do not need to be kept alive are still going for no other reason than to milk the money machine. 

Some fellow is now writing Michael Crichton’s books. And another fellow is keeping Robert Parker’s Spenser alive. Who needs these books? They are not the author’s words, not the author’s vision — just some pale vision of the vision.

A new thing now is for the literary name is passed to the next generation. Michael Palmer’s son is now writing Michael Palmer books. Lee Child’s son will be taking over is father’s series.

And what the heck is going on with James Patterson? The way he’s spawning co-authors, his name will be one of the last words uttered when the earth falls into the sun.

This is what happens when an author’s name becomes a brand. I never used to pay attention to authors’ names except as a way of finding more books to read, and neither did anyone else, at least not to the extent that holds true today. The title was the main thing; the author’s name almost an afterthought. But branding and modern publishing changed all that. Now it’s the author who’s paramount, and no one cares what drivel is passed along to the reading public under the famous brand. (I got caught with a Michael Palmer book written by his son because the famous name was in huge letters, the title in a smaller type, and the writer’s name all but swallowed up in the graphic on the very bottom. So not nice!)

It used to be as one author’s star waned, another’s would rise, but what’s happened to all those non-rising stars? What will happen to readers when the brands finally are laid to rest? Not that it matters. There are plenty of books for me to read, and when there aren’t any more books that I like, I’ll write more of my own.

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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

 

Virus!

With all the talk about corona virus and how it’s probably a man-made (or woman-made, for all I know) organism that escaped from a lab, it would be remiss of me not to mention my own organism, the red death. The red death only resides within the pages of A Spark of Heavenly Fire, so it cannot harm you (though it might scare you), but it’s deadly for all that. In fact, it’s so deadly and spread so fast from it’s origins in Colorado, that the entire state is quarantined.

You don’t think that’s possible? The technology already exists, and where people manage to break out of the quarantined area, you better believe that people from the surrounding states would not hesitate to shoot an escapee.

Inside the quarantined state, hundreds of thousands of people are dying in Colorado this unstoppable red death, and though many people have given up hope, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

So, if you wish to take a break from talk of the rather tepid coronavirus (the “normal” flu is much deadlier) and experience what a true epidemic would be like, you can read an excerpt of A Spark of Heavenly Fire here: https://bertramsblog.com/free-samples/a-spark-of-heavenly-fire/ and you can buy it from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1630663662/

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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

Every Moment is a Once in a Lifetime Event

When I was at the library a little while ago, stocking up on my reading for the next couple of days, the librarian asked me how I was doing. I told her I was doing great, and it was the truth.

At that moment, I did feel great. And why not? I was at a library, warm and comfortable, rosy from my walk, talking to a very nice woman, filling my carryall with books I want to read. Nothing else existed. Not any pain bleeding over from the past, no thinking or worrying about the future (except for thoughts of cozying up to read later in the day).

I had that same feeling last evening. I was reading a book about a sixty-something cop who was in his final year of work, and no matter what happened, he felt that each moment was golden knowing that the work he loved was coming to an end. I stopped to think about the golden moment I was living through and realized again, as I have done so many times before, that no matter what, each moment of our lives are golden.

Some of those moments are breathtaking, such as watching the setting sun paint the skies gold with a never-again to be seen piece of art.

Some of those moments seem dimmed by the pain of loss or the ache of age, but still, they are special in their own way — once in a lifetime events that will never be repeated in exactly the same way.

Admittedly, when things are difficult or we are in the middle of the seemingly unending angst of grief, it’s almost impossible to see the gold in the moment, but those traumas teach us to live in the moment and not look too far ahead. No matter how agonizing, you can live through the moment.

So later, much later, when joy or peace or wonder unexpected steals over you, you can take the discipline you learned from grief and live in the moment. Experience it as if it were a once in a lifetime event.

Because it is.

Wishing you the joy of your moments.

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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.

Friends Reading Friend’s Books

I visited with a friend this afternoon — I wanted to show her some ornaments I’d bought from another friend, to see if she wanted me to order any for her — and I was amused to see my book on her coffee table. The book is certainly in good company! And it sure tickled me to know she’d been reading it.

It really has been nice, having people I know read my books. Luckily, so far, they’ve liked what they read.

Luckily, too (for you anyway), I have nothing else to say on the matter, so you can spend your time doing something more interesting than reading blogs on the internet. Like reading one of my books, perhaps?

Here is the link for Daughter Am I: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ZVOH2Y/

And here is the link for my author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pat-Bertram/e/B002BLUHUY/

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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.

Accolade!

I got a wonderful compliment yesterday. One of my new friends just finished reading A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and last night when we met at a community event, she raved about the book, and me.

She told she had a hard time getting into the book, not because of a problem with my writing or the story, but she kept being amazed that she knew the person who’d written it. She said, several times, “I didn’t realize I knew someone so smart.” Eventually, she said, she was able to forget that she knew the writer and was able to become immersed in the story. And she loved it.

Admittedly, no one who calls themselves my friend is going to come up to me and tell me I am a rotten writer. (Smiling here — I wrote the word as wrotten. Sounds like it should be a medieval form of the past tense for written?)

At least one person has told me to my face that they weren’t impressed with my writing, and another complained about typos, but neither of these folks are people I have any sort of relationship with. Still, I could see the truth in my friend’s eyes — they lit up when she talked about the book, and even better, she immediately borrowed another. (Several people each bought one of my books, and they are passing them around.)

Her accolade certainly put a smile on my face, but lest you think I’m am letting the compliment go to my head, I should confess I was immediately brought down to earth by a little girl, about ten years old, who told me to get out of her way. (I did because I was too stunned by her impertinence to do otherwise. I was even more stunned by her mother who just stared at me.)

Still, it does my heart good to know that some people are reading — and liking — my books.

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Happy reading!

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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.

GRIEF: THE INSIDE STORY has now been published!

Coping with the death of a loved one can be the most traumatic and stressful situation most people ever deal with. As the bereaved struggle to make sense of their new situation, they often find that the advice they receive is produced by medical professionals who have never personally experienced grief and is filled with platitudes and clichés, and very little practical help. How long does grief last? What can I do to help myself? Are there really five stages of grief? Why can’t other people understand how I feel? Will I ever be happy again?

Grief: The Inside Story debunks many established beliefs about what grief is, how it affects those left behind, and how to adjust to a world that no longer contains your loved one.

Although the subtitle is “A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One,” the book is aimed at those who have lost someone intrinsic to their lives, such as a spouse or life mate, and who now struggle to cope with their new realities. People always want grievers to “get back to normal,” but as Grief: The Inside Story shows, there is no “normal” to get back to back to, but grievers can eventually find renewal in their lives.

For those of you who read — a appreciated — the manuscript (working title “Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief”) please leave a review on Amazon. The more reviews, the better chance Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One will have of getting into the hands of those who need it. Thank you.

You can find Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One here: https://www.amazon.com/Grief-Inside-Story-Guide-Surviving/dp/0368039668/

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Pat Bertram is the also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Twitter. (@PatBertram) Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Proposal for a Book About Grief

The time has come to talk of many things . . . well, one thing anyway. Grief. I need to get going on the proposal for a grief book about the second year and beyond, so I would appreciate any suggestions of topics that you think should be included.

Some topics are obvious, such as The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief and Meeting the Challenges of the Third Year of Grief.

Although I’ve never heard anyone but me and subsequently my blog readers talk about it, apparently there is another massive grief upsurge at the eighteen month mark, which probably should be mentioned.

Also, a few theories I came up with on my own, such as The Half-Life of Grief and Grief and Our Lizard Brain should be included because they are important insights into the grieving process and why it takes so long to come to an accommodation with grief.

During the course of the book, I need to assure people that they are not crazy, that it is normal to still be having upsurges of grief into the fourth year and well beyond when they have lost a fundamental part of their life, such as a spouse or a child. I think it’s important to somehow let the bereft know that it is not their family and friends’ responsibility to keep track of their grieving process. It is theirs alone.

Should I include a chapter geared toward those who haven’t experienced such a great loss to help them understand what their bereft friends and family are going through? Or would this be outside of the scope of this book? Even if the folks the chapter would be intended for didn’t read it, perhaps it would give the bereft one the confidence to speak up rather than wondering if in fact their family and friends are right about them?

Mostly, I want to tell people the truth about grief (my truth anyway), not try to comfort them or offer the typical platitudes such as “grief takes as long as it takes” (because really, when you think about it, that doesn’t say anything at all while giving people the idea that maybe they aren’t doing grief right if it is taking them so long). By the second year, the bereft know grieving is hard, and I think more than anything else, they want that hardship to be recognized and not disregarded as if it were something akin to a self-willed temper tantrum. (Well, more than anything else, what the bereft really want is their loved one back, but giving them this would be beyond the scope of my book.)

At the end of the book, there should be an explicit or implicit promise that yes, as hard as grief is, they can find a renewed interest in life.

Is there anything else you can think of? Anything you would like to see addressed? Any part of the grief process that seems to be overlooked by grief professionals? Anything that I’ve written over the years that should be emphasized?

Thank you for your help. And thank you, from the very depths of my being, for all the support you have given me (and my writing) over the years.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Feasting My Eyes and My Soul

I’d never had any particular interest in seeing Crater Lake, probably because the photos of the lake are so ubiquitous, but everyone I talked to about my return trip recommended that I go. So I did. And wow. Photos simply do not do the place justice, not even my photos. The park is astonishingly beautiful, from Annie’s Spring on the way to the crater,

to the sculpted cliffs,

to the mountains in the distance,

to the lake itself.

If anything, the day was too perfect, at least too perfect for a photograph. While my eyes could distinguish the edge of the lake where the cliffs were mirrored in the water, the camera could not, so the photos came out looking weird with those upside down cliffs.

And yet, totally awesome. I’d planned to stop by, take a photo, and wander around for a few minutes to stretch my legs, but I ended staying most of the day. I simply could not stop feasting my eyes and my soul.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Wilds of Civilization

After eleven years, Sheila Deeth, a fellow author and one of my very first online friends, has become an offline friend! It was a true delight to see her in person, but the truth is, it has made no change in our relationship. We were friends who knew almost everything about each other, and we are still friends. In fact, as with other online friends who have become all line friends, there wasn’t a second of awkwardness. We simply moved from a written relationship to one with sound.

People always worry about my visiting people I don’t know, but after so many years of sharing blogs and books and publishers and moments of our lives, we do know and trust each other. (Assuming one person can truly know another.) And so it was — a simple segue into a new phase.

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I’d been following online the trauma of Sheila’s flooded basement and its resurrection, and I so wanted to see her library. Instant library envy! After seeing it, I teased her that I might never leave. A roomful of books — wow!

Although she mentioned their disappointment in not having a view, I thought they had a fabulous view. Who needs a distant backdrop when one has such great beauty beside one’s own house? I have lived in desert areas my whole life — and make no mistake, Colorado is a desert with one benefit, its white gold (snow) that makes it possible (assuming that one does not have a brown thumb as I do), with a lot of effort to carve out a colorful space for yourself. Seeing so much almost effortless green seems miraculous to me.

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One thing I love about traveling and visiting people is that for a short time I get to borrow someone else’s life, and that night I got to share in Sheila’s after dinner ritual — a cryptic crossword puzzle. I had often come across the puzzles, but the things were too cryptic for me, with a code language all its own, and they helped me crack the code. If I ever come across another such puzzle, I will attempt to solve it, and think of that lovely evening.

Before I left, Sheila took me to the Pittock Mansion

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to see a panoramic view of Portland.

Although I had planned a trip into the wilds of nature, I ended up a trip into to wilds of civilization, and what an adventure!

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Unfinished, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)