Wasting My Author Mind

I’m reading a book that was published a couple of years before The Bob mess, and it gives me the willies since it could so easily reflect what’s happening today with the vaccine.

In the novel, a super-secret organization that is not government sanctioned but that uses the various alphabet agencies as cover for their dastardly deeds is trying to create a new hierarchy. In an effort to control the population, they are injecting people who rebel against this new hierarchy with nanotech implants that assemble themselves in their bodies and brains and turn the injected people into willing robots who will do anything in response to their handlers, even kill themselves.

Not that I think that’s happening in the real world today, but the point is that it could. As in the novel, some of the major players in The Bob mess are a multi-billionaire software mogul with a god complex, a whole stratum of the population that seems to want to remake the world in a way that is inimical to another swathe of the population, and way too many ways of spying on ordinary citizens (satellites, traffic cameras, phones in everyone’s hands).

What is missing in the fictional story is a pandemic and people who are trying to inoculate the whole world with a dubious vaccine. The vaccine might be dubious only in my own mind, but truly, who among us knows for absolute certain what all is in the injection they are so obviously foisting on us? And why, if they want everyone to get the vaccine, do they show commercials of people having needles stuck in their arms? So not a way to convince the needle-phobic to get the shot! Besides which, although they want us to believe that the vaccine protects us against delta and lambda and any other variation, vaccinated people are still getting sick from those as well as the original organism. Lambda is the scariest since it’s said to be able to work around the vaccine’s antibodies.

But what do I know? None of us know the truth of The Bob, the vaccine, the variants. All we know are what we are told by news organizations and political hacks, which might be the true truth, a semblance of the truth, or a wholly manufactured truth. All any of us can do is pick our truth. Although it might seem like it, in this essay, I’m not trying to peddle any brand of truth. Basically, I’m just playing author, combining the two stories — the novel I am reading and the story we’re being told about The Bob — and extending the scenario beyond the original premises as all good authors do.

There are certainly enough wild surmises out there to add plot twists to the story: The Bob being a result of “gain of function” experimentation gone wrong; the whole mess being instigated by a prominent population-reduction activist; the entire scenario being enacted for the purpose of inoculating the world’s population with some sort of chip or nanoconstruct; a dress rehearsal for some future nefarious plot to see what it takes to get us to do what they want us to do.

Instead of wasting my “author mind” on such far-out scenarios as these, I’d be better off trying to figure out some sort of world or a bunch of characters to play with that would carry me from book to book. Because if I were to write this story that’s currently writing itself in my mind, people would yawn at the very thought and put the book down (assuming they picked it up in the first place) with a “Bo-o-o-o-ring. Been there.”

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Huge Spoiler

I recently read a book that still makes me smile even days after I closed the cover, which is a rare occurrence for me. Generally, when I finish reading a book, that’s the end of it. Very few books any more make me think or feel anything but in the moment of reading, and often not even then. But to leave me smiling? Amazing.

The book was science fiction, reminiscent of the movie Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. where two completely different beings from different planets meet and against all odds become friends. I don’t know if that was the purpose of either this book or the movie, but that’s the meaning I got from both of them.

What especially made me smile about the book was the ending, and since I’m going to tell you the story as well as the ending, I’m not going to mention the name of the book. Anyway, the story begins when the human wakes up with amnesia and discovers he is on a spaceship far out in space, which is an amusing scenario to begin with. Well, maybe not amusing, but provocative.

He eventually discovers he’s on a mission to save Earth and that all the other people on the mission are dead. And when he meets the alien, it turns out all the beings on that spaceship are dead, too, so it’s up to the two disparate beings to save their planets. Which they do, of course, because they are heroes, right? Image the fellow’s surprise when he discovers he wasn’t a hero who had volunteered for the mission but a middle school physics teacher who had refused to go when called because he loved teaching and didn’t want to give it up, and so he was shanghaied. Still, he did save the earth, and because he saved the other alien’s life (“other” because each is an alien to the other), he ended up not being able to go to back to Earth and return to his much-loved teaching job. Instead, he ended up on the other planet, which had an atmosphere inimical to human life. So the other aliens built a terrarium for him, keeping him as sort of their pet alien.

What really amused me, though, is at the end of the book, he is again a teacher, teaching young aliens about physics. So he did what he had to do and got to do what he loved to do. A person — or a character — can’t ask for more than that.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Why Don’t People Read?

I read a column in the local paper about why people don’t read any more. His rather glib response to the question was to blame it on the Dick and Jane books schools used to teach reading from 1940 to 1970. Admittedly, those were not riveting books even for a first grader, but some of us still managed to develop a love of reading. Those books fell out of favor more than fifty years ago, so they really have nothing to do with the low book-reading rate today. In fact, most of those who read on a regular basis seem to be those who learned from the Dick and Jane books. Younger folks grew up in a later era with a large array of diversions to choose from, and perhaps books are simply too labor intensive for them, though I don’t know for sure. I do know that many of my acquaintances don’t have the time to read; some can’t sit still long enough; and others just don’t see the point.

To be honest, I don’t care. I read and I have access to a library. That’s what counts to me.

The one thing that the columnist said that struck a chord, and why I am writing this piece, is his comment: “Maybe the government should give people an additional tax exemption for every book report they attach to their tax return.”

Such a brilliant idea! If you take all the money the government hands out to literacy programs and programs purporting to get people to read and put it in a separate account to pay for book reports, it might not do much for literacy, but it sure would be a windfall for us readers.

One of the big problems with getting kids to read is that their parents don’t read books, so they don’t have any reading role models. And since the parents don’t like books, they don’t urge their children to read. But if they got money for each book report they or their kids did? I bet they’d be more willing to help their youngsters read. I imagine there would be a lot of cheating in such a program, but it wouldn’t really matter. If a kid copied a book report from the internet, it would be enhancing their non-game-playing computer skills. And if the parents wrote the reports for the kids, they’d have to at least scan the books, which would allow the kids to see books in their parents’ hands.

Come to think of it, from my standpoint, it might not be such a good idea. I do tend to be rebellious, and if I am being urged to read, I might feel the cold fingers of the government prodding me, which would make me dig in my heels.

Though perhaps not, because . . .

Reading!

It’s what I do.

My Father reading my novel Light Bringer

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Mucking Around in the Dirt

I wasn’t outdoorsy when I was young, nor was I particularly prissy. I was a bit of a dreamer, but more than that, I was a reader. All I ever wanted to do was read, so any digging in the dirt was done vicariously between the covers of books. To be honest, I don’t remember any instance of soil in books, though there must have been. I read stories about farming and archaeology and escaping from prison camps via tunnels, but somehow I never really associated such literary activities with dirt. When I inserted myself into the books I read, I was always relatively clean, no matter what the activity.

As an adult, my jobs were of the clean variety — no getting dirt under my fingernails — and reading continued to be my preferred method of escape and entertainment and education.

So it mystifies me that I’ve become rather fond of mucking around in the dirt. I spent the morning preparing a bed for the daylilies that will be arriving next week, and to fill in the low areas where deep clumps of weeds and grass were removed, I hauled buckets of dirt from a dirt pile left behind when the stumps of my felled trees were removed. A couple of the buckets were pure mud, and I found myself spreading out the damp soil using my gloveless hands. I never even thought anything of it until a person who happened to see me doing so chuckled and said, “I love mucking around in the dirt, too.”

It’s funny sometimes to get a glimpse of how others see us. To me, I was just gardening. It never occurred to me that I might actually like the feel of dirt. And, as it turns out, I do. Usually I wear gloves when I “muck,” but I hadn’t planned on doing anything this morning but a bit of digging, so I’d left my gardening gloves in the garage. I’m glad I did. There’s something so elemental about one’s hands in the dirt; it’s only when we become civilized and have to worry about grooming and manicures and such that dirt on our hands becomes the enemy.

Oh, and reading. One can’t read with dirty hands. To do so seems a desecration of the written word.

I’ve gone through many changes, not just of me but of my lifestyle, during the years after Jeff died, and this mucking around in the dirt is a surprising one, though it does go along with my new-found love of gardening.

***

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

Story Elements

There are certain story elements all new novelists learn if they want to write compelling books. One such element is R.U.E, meaning resist the urge to explain. Too often, new writers fill their first chapters with the myriad details they think is necessary to explain who the characters are and what brought them to their predicament instead of simply diving into the story and trust in the intelligence of the reader to put it all together.

Another major element, perhaps THE major element, is conflict, conflict, and more conflict. Without conflict, there is no story. It’s just a meandering anecdote, though even an anecdote, to be interesting, needs a bit of conflict and some sort of resolution to the conflict.

A third element is . . . the magic of threes. You know about threes, you learn it as a small child with tales such as the three bears and the three little pigs. In fact, you can’t escape threes. They are everywhere. The Three Stooges. Three outs. Best two out of three. Three Faces of Eve. Three Days of the Condor. The Three Musketeers. The magic of threes even works in essays such as this. As you can see, I laid out three story elements rather than two or four.

Apparently, although new writers do well to incorporate such elements in their writing, long-time authors with over a billion books sold (not an exaggeration) don’t have to pay attention to any story elements. The most recent example I came across was so horrendously awful and amateurish, it was laughable.

Throughout the entire book, all the author did was explain. In the first chapter, she must have repeated at least a dozen times that the woman was in love with her house, that she’d had to give up her first child at sixteen, and that a later son was now dead. I got it the first time, and I’m sure even the most unexacting reader would have gotten it by, oh, the second time. The second and third chapters were repeats of the first.

When the story finally got underway, there was zero conflict. In fact, the woman decided to look for her daughter again, even though the first time she searched, many years previously, she’d been told the records had all been burned. So she went to the town where the institution for unwed mothers had been, talked to one person who happened to have been there at the time, and the person told her that she only remembered three names of possible adoptive parents (out of possibly hundreds) because they’d all been famous actresses. So the woman looked up one of the actresses, found that the woman’s daughter (now a grown woman) resembled the birth mother’s mother, and contacted her, and it was the right person.

That’s it. That was the story.

Too much explaining, zero conflict, no magic of threes. The first person she talked to at every step led her directly to the next step. You’d think such a simplistic storyline would presuppose conflict later in the book, but no. That was all there was to the story. The daughter and mother loved each other. The two mothers loved each other. The birth mother’s new boyfriend loved all of them. At the end, the actress dies, which makes the remaining two women sad for a few paragraphs, but then comes the giddy ending that left the original mother and daughter back together where they should have been all along, and loving it.

Sheesh.

To be honest, I can’t really fault the author. The main goal of the publishing industry is not to put out good books but to make money, and apparently, other people don’t mind such execrable writing. I’d just made a mistake in getting the book. I knew what a terrible writer she was (I once studied her books to see what made them so popular, but the only conclusion I came to was her overuse of the word “love.” Her characters love everything). But I am a sucker for the “lost child” genre, and I let myself believe that perhaps she actually had written a book worth reading.

Luckily, there are readable writers out there. In fact, I recently read a science fiction book that still makes me smile. Reminiscent of the movie Enemy Mine, two people from different worlds become friends and allies as they try to save both of their worlds. In this case, admittedly, there was too much conflict and too many plot twists because everything they tried didn’t work at first, which got a bit old. (The magic of three to the third power seems to have been this author’s goal.) But he did a good job of only explaining what needed to be explained at any given moment, mostly the science part of the fiction. But any faults in the execution were negated by the perfect ending.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Mangled E-Books

A few years ago when Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare was first published, a local book club read the book and invited me to be a guest at their meeting. I really looked forward to the discussion because I thought the club would have enjoyed reading a book where one of their members was a character, and where their town itself played a part. If nothing else, I would have thought they would have been interested in what parts of the book were a true reflection of the dance class, and what parts of the book were pure fiction.

As it turned out, it was a miserable experience. Not one person had a question. Not one person had a good thing to say about the book. In fact, the meeting was dominated by a woman who grilled me about the editing. Who edited it? Did you edit it yourself? Did your publisher edit it? Did anyone else edit it?

Then she said she’d never seen so many typos in a single book. The truth is, I’m sure there are some errors, but considering all the people who proofed it for me before I turned it into my publisher, I have a hard time believing that the half-dozen proofers all missed the same myriad errors, though it is possible. It’s almost impossible for any book to be 100% accurate, especially this one considering that my then publisher had a penchant for making unauthorized changes to my books. I didn’t mind another set of eyes, of course, but I let him publish the book with the caveat that he was to inform me of any changes he made. Which he ignored. Foolishly, I did not do a word-by-word check of the book again when I got the proof copy, but I simply could not handle another argument if by chance I found something that needed to be changed. Nor did I ever see an electronic version of the book, so I have no idea what it would have looked like, though, as it turns out, it would probably have been a good idea to check it over.

But I’m getting off the point, which is that book club meeting.

After that woman grilled me about my editing skills, I asked her if she could tell me the pages she found errors so I could perhaps correct them on future editions. She said she’d read the ebook, which didn’t have page numbers, but that there were errors on every “page.” Then, almost as an aside, she asked if there were ever translation errors when a book was made into an ebook. I told her there were often such errors and mentioned a book I was reading at the time where the name of the love interest, Illyena, was consistently mistranslated as Hyena, which had turned a touching story into a farce.

But even that isn’t as egregious a mistranslation as the book I am currently reading. This current book is so badly mangled that way too many passages were almost impossible to understand, such as this one:

“They made a lovely pair, the two women wand honey-skinned, their laughter gay and slim and young ads ruffling in the sultry Puffs Of and sweet, their dark and he and air off the desert.”

Really? This was a passage in an ebook by an internationally acclaimed bestselling author that had been published by one of the biggest publishing houses. How did they ever let such a mess get through?

Still, I bet if he had been a guest at that book club meeting to discuss his book, no one would have thought to grill him about the mangling.

I do know that the typo discussion was a way of putting me down, though I have no idea what I could possibly have done to those unknown women to merit such disparagement. All I know is that I was glad when they went onto other business and I could gracefully make an exit.

***

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare.

Killing friends is a good way to lose friends, even if the murder is for play. When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Then the murders begin. Tapped by the cops as the star suspect, author Pat sets out to discover the truth curtained behind the benign faces of her fellow dancers. Does one of them have a secret she would kill to protect? Or is the writer’s investigation a danse macabre with Pat herself as the bringer of death?

A Small House and a Large Garden

A friend sent me a verse written in the seventeenth century by poet Abraham Cowley:

May I a small house and large garden have;
And a few friends,
And many books, both true.

No wonder she thought of me when she saw that snippet — it seems to describe my life perfectly. A small house, a large garden (not quite yet, but in the making!), a few true friends, and many books, though too few of those books, perhaps, are true. Actually, I don’t own many books except those I wrote, a few reference tomes, some tarot books, and quite a few alchemical texts that I have yet to study. Most of my “many books” are in the library that is a mere four blocks from my small house. As long as I can manage to get there, all those books belong to me. In fact, when I was there earlier today, the only person in the building besides me was the librarian. So, not just a private library all my own, but a personal librarian to take care of all my books!

On the way back from the library, I picked up another two plants for my ever-expanding garden. I was going to say ever-growing, but too many plants haven’t started to flower or even spread. My hanging lobelia is doing fine, though.

And so, of course, are the weeds.

When I returned from my errands, I took the time to mow the weedy lawn. Workers are supposed to come later this week, and I thought it might be a good idea if they could actually see where they needed to work. Of course, my having done the job pretty much guarantees that they won’t come, so I suppose it would have been smarter to leave everything the way it was. But then, if I waited too long, the mower wouldn’t have been able to cut the weeds. As it is, there are a couple of very tall, very tough patches of grass that defeated the mover. It seems as if next on my shopping list will be grass clippers.

I paused here to look up battery operated grass clippers and found one that might be a fun and useful tool to have to help me create my “large garden.” Now I know how I will spend my next paycheck!

***

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

Then More Stuff Happens

We live in an strange literary climate where books published by small independent publishers are held to a higher standard than anything published by one of the handful of major publishing houses.

I’m currently reading a book published by one of the major companies, and nothing happens. Well, that’s not exactly true. Stuff happens. Then more stuff happens. And even more stuff happens. But I am now three-quarters of the way through the book, and all I’ve gleaned from the story is that a lot of stuff happens.

But nothing happens to move the story forward. I presume all this “stuff” — murders, crooks double-crossings, political shenanigans, human trafficking — will lead to a cohesive ending, but I’m not sure if I will ever know what happens. For one thing, the story is too convoluted with at least a dozen point-of-view characters, mostly criminals, and I haven’t sorted all of them out yet. (A serious problem is that too many names are closely related, like Donnie and Danbury and Donaldson). So even if I read to book to the end, chances are I won’t know the whole of it. And for another thing, I’m ready to give up. I really don’t care to read about women (and men) crime bosses and gambling and prostitution and all sorts of other nefarious behavior gotten up to by the bad guys. There has to be at least an equal amount of action by the so-called “good guys,” but so far, I haven’t identified any good guys.

I do know that any such book written by an unknown and published by an independent company would have been panned by any readers, not acclaimed as “gripping,” and “raucous” and “unflinching” and “exceptional.” Though, come to think of it, those are rather namby-pamby words to describe a bestseller, as if even the reviewers had a hard time coming up with something good to say about this book. Actually, looking more closely at the reviews, they seem to be about the series as a whole rather than this particular book, so perhaps the reviewers couldn’t finish it, either.

Although it might seem like it, I’m not really picking on this book, just using it as an example of today’s literary climate. Another book I recently finished by a bestselling author who has been around forever, read like a junior high school kid’s attempt at writing a novel, with way too much repetition and explaining, and way too little in the way of characterization. Still, that book made some sort of sense. Stuff happened, but that stuff seemed to tie into the main storyline.

I suppose I have to take the reader (me) into consideration. I have read so many books (about one a day) for so many decades that I could be a tad jaded.

***

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

Wild Raft Ride of Thoughts

In the book I am currently reading, a couple was chosen by the birth mother to adopt her soon-to-be born baby. All goes well until the child is nine-months old. Then the birth father decides he wants the baby he has never even seen.

This scenario has me whitewater rafting on a wild stream of thoughts, starting with the oft-quoted presumption that a woman’s body is her right. She gets to choose to have an abortion or bring the baby to term. But when does her right end? When the baby is born? If so, why would that be? The child is still part of her, and if you doubt that, ask any bereaved woman who has lost her child — at whatever age — how she feels, and she will tell you she feels as if part of her has died too, as if a limb has been amputated, as if her heart has been scooped out of her body and stomped on.

In other words, whether inside or outside a mother’s body, the baby is still a part of her. So what about father’s rights? In this scenario, it seems as if the only rights he has are those the mother confers on him. Why else would he have any rights? Adding to the whole weird situation, if a woman had a child by another man, then that man’s DNA can migrate to her body from the fetus, so any subsequent baby could have the first man’s DNA, too.

Even if the baby only had the father’s DNA, being a sperm donor or a DNA imparter doesn’t really change anything because our DNA doesn’t necessarily belong to us. It belongs to whoever mines it from our bodies.

That sounds dramatic I know, but the truth is, every time you have blood drawn or any other invasive test, the doctors are mining your body for information. They send it to various labs to be processed. And that part of your body no longer belongs to you. There have been scenarios where a person’s blood was so valuable that the lab company laid claim to it legally. And if the person ever finds out how valuable their blood is (for example, if the person’s blood produces antibodies against The Bob that would protect people forever and against all variants) the person can’t sell it to the highest bidder or even give it away because someone else owns their blood.

In addition, it seems as if aborted babies belong to the abortionist or whoever the person works for because so much medical research, including stem cell research, is done with fetal cells, and where else would the researches get all those fetal cells, unless they are growing them in incubators, which adds a whole other level of insanity to the equation.

Then who does the baby belong to? The midwife or doctor who delivers it? Of course not. It’s the mother’s. She “baked” it. It came from her body. In that case, how could anyone but the mother have any rights? (Though it was not my intention, this would seem to negate the whole child-support question.)

And if we do have rights to our bodies, how can any government mandate any sort of medical procedure, even those they consider as innocuous as inoculations?

I told you this was a wild raft ride of thoughts. As with any wild ride, I’m not sure where I’m going with all these hypothetical questions (meaning I’m not sure what I think and I’m not looking for answers). Mostly I’m taking certain political and scientific presumptions to a logical conclusion, or what seems logical to me. It for sure has nothing to do with my thoughts on abortion, which basically are nonexistent since the issue has nothing to do with me. I have no right to decide what anyone does with any part of their body, though I do give serious thought before I let anything be taken out of — or put into — my body.

***

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

Living Vicariously

I have noticed that while my daily tarot card pick seldom reflects what I am feeling or doing (possibly because I am not feeling or doing much of anything), it sometimes reflects the situation of someone I’ve been talking to, especially if I empathize with them. Just as often, the card seems to reflect the situation of a character in a book I’m reading.

To the extent that the tarot has meaning, and to the extent that I am not reaching far afield to find any sort of meaning in the card, this does seem to indicate that our brains can interpret a fictional world and a fictional experience as being as real as a real-life experience.

Research does tend to corroborate this idea — people who read fiction are more empathetic than those who don’t read. They think better, connect to new ideas quicker, are more able to comprehend other people’s motivations, can understand and accept more easily the idea that others hold beliefs that are different from one’s own.

When testing readers to see what happens to their brains, scientists have recorded noticeable changes in brain chemistry that seem to bear out the idea that the experiences in fiction are in some way interpreted as real. This makes sense when you consider that a story we read becomes a memory as does everything else we’ve ever experienced, so when the brain isn’t focused on daily tasks — or maybe when it is — it plumbs our memories for clues about what worked, what didn’t, and how to proceed.

There are many things I have done in a fictional world, whether one I created or someone else did, that I would never be able to (and certainly wouldn’t want to) experience in real life, such as be a spy in a hostile country, become an assassin or a victim of an assassin, be a psychic, deal with drug problems.

From a young age, long before most kids started experiencing with drugs and alcohol and smoking, I’d developed a fear of addiction because of the books I’d read (though now, I can’t imagine what I was reading when I was a child to give me these ideas), and so I abstained even when pressured and ridiculed. I never understood how people could be so blasé about experimenting. In fact, I was shocked at people’s ignorance when all the class-action lawsuits dealing with tobacco companies showed people the dangers of smoking. How could they not know? It seemed so obvious to me. Apparently, one doesn’t have to personally go through the trauma of addiction to understand how devastating it can be.

This connection between fiction and real memories makes me wonder what I will remember when I get old. Will I remember my life or one of the tens of thousands of other lives I’ve lived vicariously? And will it matter?

***

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