Connecting to the Past

I grew up with a hand-me-down life — most of the clothes I wore were hand-me-downs from a much older, much shorter, and much thinner cousin, which, as you can imagine, gave me a bad body image way before such things were fashionable. (It’s funny to think that people don’t do that anymore — hand down clothes — except perhaps for baby clothes. Instead, we donate garments that no longer please us to the various world-wide thrift stores, and end up destroying the cloth and clothing industries in the very areas that need such industry.) I probably sound ungrateful, but truly, back then I was glad for such “new” clothes, even if they had to be altered to fit me.

I also got my cousin’s outgrown books, which did a lot to counter whatever harmful connotations her clothes might have had. Then, as now, I read in the same way I breathe — inhaling without thinking. It’s just what I do, what I have done from the moment I learned how to read. (I know there must have been a time when I didn’t know how to read, but I don’t remember such a time, nor do I remember learning to read. It’s as if I truly have always read.)

Those books from my cousin were the staple of my early life. I went to the library often during the winter and every day during the summer, but during the times I couldn’t get library books, such as when I was sick, I reread my hand-me-down books. I also read my parents’ books they kept on the bookhselves in the room we called the library. This library was a separate room from the living room, and had shelves for books, my mother’s desk, and the chiming clock that formed part of the soundtrack of my early life. (I even read some of my mother’s old nursing textbooks, and will never forget the garish photos of various organs and diseases. I still have nightmares about the smallpox picture.)

I had most of the Judy Bolton series back then. I don’t remember getting rid of them, but I must have cleared them out during a move at some point. Still, I remember those books with the mottled pink cover (the Nancy Drew covers were the same, only they were blue) as if I’d seen them just the other day.

The point of all this nostalgia is that I found a few of the books on the Gutenberg Project website. I certainly hope the site is as they claim, that these books are in the public domain, because I downloaded the few Judy Bolton’s that I could. And now I am reading them.

I’ve always known that books connect us to the others who have read them, a much deeper connection than from writer to reader. I’ve known that certain books connect us to the ages — to the people long dead who also read those very stories.

What I didn’t realize until rereading these Judy Bolton books is how books can connect us to our past selves.

Although I don’t remember the stories so much, I remember the characters, the feel of the stories, and the feel of the books themselves. And I remember reading them.

I’m holding a Nook in my hand instead of the hard back book, but the words are the same. And I feel . . . timeless. The person I am today is reading the same book I last read fifty years ago. It seems miraculous. The older person who lived so much during the intervening years — loving, sharing, grieving — is, through these familiar words, connected to that girl child who could only dream and hope of a life that was to come.

I imagine there will come a time, perhaps fifteen to twenty years from now when I am elderly and frail and rereading these books, that I will look back to me on this day and think the same of this me as I think of that little girl me — that I was young and still full of hopes and dreams.

I imagine I will think back to all that has connected me to myself through the years, and I will be grateful for all breaths I took and all the books I have inhaled.

***

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

Web Building

I spent a good part of the day working on my website. It had to be updated anyway because of my new book, Bob, The Right Hand of God, but this is more than a simple update. Because of Adobe Flash being discontinued, my ancient website is becoming defunct (even though my site was a plain old non-flash site, with stationary photos and text), I have to learn a new website builder and redo the entire site.

It’s not really all that complicated; it’s more of a matter of learning how to find what I need and to decide what I want to say. To that end, I looked at various examples of author websites, and though it didn’t really help much, it made me feel as if I were doing something to further my “author-ity.”

One of the problems I have that other authors don’t is the variety of genres I work with. Most authors stick with fiction or non-fiction. If fiction, they write one sort of novel, such as romances or mystery or fantasy. If non-fiction, they stick to a certain topic. Although I do stick to one topic with my non-fiction books — grief — my novels span multiple genres.

Back when I was learning to write, all the books said to write in a recognizable genre. You can put romance elements in mystery, or mystery elements in romance, but basically, you need to brand yourself by making sure your stories are predominately one thing. Well, I didn’t do that — I can only write the books that are in my head, after all, and those books ramble all over the genre spectrum. But now I know why it’s important to do what the others said to do and not what I did — it makes it a whole lot easier to figure out what to focus on when promoting yourself, and especially in figuring out what to focus on for a website.

Do I focus on grief? After all, my grief books sell more than the others.

Do I focus on the fiction? After all, most of my books are novels.

For now, I’m doing what a lot of authors do — put up a photo of myself and a gallery of my book covers on the home page, and then feature each book on a separate page.

The hardest part is to find the site in progress. If I go to the web builder page, they don’t seem to recognize what I’ve already done, so I have to click the link in the email they sent when they informed me of the pending changes. (From what one of the tech people I talked to said, I gather there are two distinct builders on my site — a free one that they gave me in exchange for the defunct one, and one I will have to pay for after an introductory period. And it’s the free one that’s hard to find.)

Mostly though, it’s just a matter of doing the work. Luckily, the old site is still up, so I have time to figure it all out and then to do what I need to do to build my website.

***

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

Out With the Old

Sometimes getting to the truth even about something as simple as a web site builder is almost impossible. Not that a website builder is simple by any means, but compared to the big questions concerning life and death, it is simple because there is an answer if you can find someone who will tell the truth.

And therein lies the problem.

About two months ago, I got an email from by website provider saying that with the demise of the Adobe Flash Player, my website will no longer be active, and they are switching me to a new website builder. The original builder, although wieldy to work with, was actually pretty simple to understand. This one, I just stared at in total non-comprehension. I’m not an IT person by any means, but over the years, I’ve learned how to do a lot of things, but this one has me flummoxed because it is so different.

So I called the company, and the person who responded said I didn’t have to do anything, that the tools would do most of the work, and that an actual person would work on the site and get it going for me.

A week later, I got another email from the company, reminding me about the upcoming change, and that I had to take action. So again, I called the company, and the person who answered iterated what the first person had said, and added that an entire division had been added to take care of the conversion.

Well, today, I got another email telling me I have to switch my account over, and that experts are standing by in case I have questions, which is entirely different from their actually doing the work. So I called again, and apparently, those first two guys were wrong. I do have to set up the website myself.

Now, instead of two months to figure out what the heck I’m doing, I have less than two weeks during Christmas season to update the site. Eek.

This guy said that the old website wouldn’t simply disappear at the end of the month, and since I don’t have anything that used the Adobe Flash player, I should be okay, but “should” isn’t much of a guarantee. He also said I have a very old web builder, that it was old when he started working there six years ago (as if six years is ancient history, which in tech terms, I suppose it is.)

The good news is that I will have many more pages at my disposal, the site will be mobile friendly, and it will follow Google’s security guidelines.

Once I get over my snit about being strung along for so many weeks, it might be fun to play around with a new site. At least I hope so.

Now I just have to figure out what pages I want, what I need to put on those pages, what I want to highlight on the front page, and how best to showcase my books.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, offer suggestions of what you like to see in a website!

***

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

Preparing for Grief

An online friend who will soon be experiencing grief due the death of a loved one, asked me which of my books I would suggest she read to help her prepare.

To be honest, there is no way to prepare for such a physical, emotional, and spiritual upheaval. No matter how much we are prepared, the actuality of the experience is more than we could ever imagine because there is nothing that compare. Even people who have suffered comparable losses, such as an undesired divorce, are shocked when they have to contend with death as well as all the painful changes they were expecting.

We simply do not have the capacity for understanding death, what it means to the person dying, what their death means to us. When it happens, all we can do is stand at the abyss, and wonder if our grief will carry us over the edge.

The best way to prepare is to try to keep from falling into the pitfalls of regret and guilt, to try to act in a manner that won’t carry an additional burden into grief. I say “try” because there is no way to prevent such pitfalls. Even though a person might be dying, they are still alive, and life carries with it emotions and actions that that seem reasonable at the time and only in memory prove to be problematic. When one of a couple is struggling to live while the other is preparing to die, emotions run strong. The only time Jeff and I ever got into a verbal altercation was three weeks before he died. The problem is, although we know they are dying, we don’t know it. It seems as if forever after, they will be dying, and so we don’t truly fathom that one day they will be gone from our lives.

All we can do is love the person, do the best we can for them and for ourselves, and try to keep up our strength. A dying vigil is exhausting. Death tasks are exhausting. Grief is exhausting.

All that being said, both my books can help a person get through the lonely years that follow.

Grief: The Great Yearning is a compilation of letters, blog posts, and journal entries I wrote while struggling to survive my first year of grief. As one reviewer said, “This is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Many people use this book as well as my blog posts as a checkpoint to see if what they are feeling is normal, because the truth is, such grief feels anything but normal. They need to read my story partly as a validation of their own experience and to see that they are not alone in what they feel. Grief is horrendously isolating. Few of us know anyone who has experienced grief. Few of us know anyone who is willing to let us talk about how we feel without trying to “fix” us. Death is simply not fixable. It’s something that must be assimilated. And grief is how we assimilate such a profound loss.

Although the official consensus is that everyone’s grief is different, I have found the opposite to be true. We may actually grieve differently in that some people cry, some scream, some become ill, some refuse to acknowledge their feelings, but the pattern of grief after the loss of a spouse, life mate, soul mate is more or less the same for most of us. So this is not just my story, but the story of many grievers I have encountered during the years after the death of my life mate/soul mate.

Grief: The Great Yearning is a personal look at grief from the inside out. Grief: The Inside Story is look at grief from the outside in, written eight years after the onset of my grief. It’s more of a guide, an explanation of the various permutations of grief and how it changes us than simply one woman’s story. Although the book is obviously personal since my grief is the grief I am most familiar with, other people have allowed me to use their thoughts and experiences to create this guide, this explanation of grief and what the experience entails.

Coping with the death of a loved one can be the most traumatic and stressful situation most people ever deal with — and the practical and emotional help available to the bereaved is often very poor. 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 filled with platitudes and clichés, with 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 I don’t often include it with my grief books because it is fiction, Unfinished is also an important about grief. It shows the emotional instability and practical concerns the woman character experiences while her husband is dying and shows the surreal thinking that she experienced after he was died. One reviewer found it unbelievable that a woman who so loved her husband that she experienced so much mental and physical devastation after he died, would act the way she did, carrying on with another man during that last year. But all that shows me is that she was never there. You truly do not know the skewed way one can think when forced into such an untenable situation.

Would anyone believe, considering all my talk of grief, considering our almost cosmic connection, considering all he had meant to me over the decades we were together, that there were times during that last year of our shared life when I hated him, when I just wished he’d die and get it over with? Many of us have been there, and it is a secret we hold close, seldom admitting it even to ourselves. (Thinking back, I’m sure he knew, and I’m sure he never held it against me, though I did.)

I guess, then, after reviewing all my books, a person who wants to prepare themselves for what is coming, should read Unfinished first, then Grief: The Great Yearning, and finally, Grief: The Inside Story.

Fifty Shades of Greed

I recently read Fifty Shades of Black & WhiteThe Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon, written by Mike Farris and Jennifer Pedroza, and published by Stairway Press. As I’m sure you can guess from the title, the publishing phenomenon in question is the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I mentioned in a previous post, Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels were originally published by a small independent publishing company that seemed to specialize in fan fiction, and when The Shades went big, this small publishing company sold the rights to a major publisher. They ended up getting around $35,000,000 just for the rights. The major publisher, of course, earned way more than that, as did the author.

It truly mystifies me why 125,000,000 people bought the book. All I can think is that the world is vastly different — baser and less literate — than I ever imagined it to be. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

This book, Fifty Shades of Black & White, has all the elements of a blockbuster novel because of all those millions of dollars as well as the greed of one of the publishing partners who managed to snag all that cash for herself. The major conflict, too, is a catchy one — the naïve and trusting vs the scheming and manipulative. But what really sticks in my mind and tickles me is the irony.

(What follows in no way gives away the story if you don’t already know it from the news. It’s all in the first chapters.)

Apparently, one of the clauses the greedy partner stuck in the contract she had her trusting friends sign was a non-compete clause. Any time the defrauded woman tried to do anything in the publishing world, she got a cease-and-desist letter from the greedy woman’s greedy lawyer. So she and a fellow refugee from the original business decided to do something different — make soap. They did well, but when some authors they knew wanted to buy soap and put the images of their covers on the soap wrapper for giveaways, the greedy woman got even greedier and threatened to sue if they didn’t stop.

Realizing the greedy woman would never leave them alone, the two refugees finally got a lawyer, not to sue but to try to keep from being sued. Things escalated from there, and the only redress they had was to be proactive and start a suit themselves.

And it’s this irony — more than the millions and the catchy conflict — that makes the story so compelling. If the greedy woman had been satisfied with what she had already absconded with, if she had left the others alone, she would never have been sued.

It just goes to show that one shouldn’t get so greedy that one’s greed gets in the way of one’s own best interests. Or maybe it shows karma at work. Or maybe it shows the necessity of leaving well enough alone. Or something.

It makes me wonder if the greedy woman and her husband are still married. To hide the millions she grabbed, she turned them over to her husband to put into his name and his businesses. Depending on the law of where they lived, if he divorced her, he’d end up with it all. Instant retribution!

Still, I’m satisfied with and amused by ironic twist to the story.

***

If you haven’t already, please check out my new book.

“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.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Fifty Shades of Black and White

I’m reading Fifty Shades of Black & White: The Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon, written by Mike Farris and Jennifer Pedroza, and published by Stairway Press. It took me a few pages to figure out what was going on, because although I knew there was a lawsuit concerning the Shades of Grey trilogy, I was under the impression it was Stephanie Meyers who sued the author of the trilogy for using her characters. But not so.

Fifty Shades of Grey started as fanfiction, taking a couple of Twilight characters and continuing their story. I’d never heard of fanfiction before that, but apparently, it’s a popular thing. I truly don’t understand how it’s legal to steal the characters someone else has created. Isn’t that plagiarism? I suppose it’s one thing to do it online in a group just for fun, but eventually, this particular author changed the names of the characters, published it, and went on to publishing fame. (I was going to say literary fame, but I once read a short excerpt and was appalled at the writing, to say nothing of the porn-ish subject matter.)

The myth surrounding the trilogy is that it was a self-published book that took off all by itself and ending up gleaning a multi-million contract with a big-name publisher. This was frequently talked about in groups where self-published authors hung out, because it gave them hope. After all, if one self-published author could make it big, why not them?

But that wasn’t at all true. She had a publisher. A small independent publisher, to be sure, but still a publisher. And that publisher spent a huge amount of money and time promoting the book.

And that was what the lawsuit was about — one of the publishing partners vs. the others, not between the author who created the characters and the author who also got rich off them. (Apparently, Stephanie Meyers was okay with that particular theft.)

Because these publishers had the book rights, when the book was sold to Random House, the women partners received multiple millions. Well, one of them did, anyway. She managed to keep all those millions for herself by lying and telling the others she was having problems getting the money from Random House. Eventually, a couple of the defrauded women found a lawyer who would take the case.

It’s sort of funny reading this book right now. I’ve been watching Judge Judy with the woman I help care for, and this book seem like an extension of one of those shows where friends ended up being enemies because one cheated the other out of money, but this case went miles beyond a small claims court. All I can do when watching one of Judge Judy’s cases is shake my head, and that’s all I can do reading Fifty Shades of Black & White. It simply stuns me that people can be so utterly without morals, without honesty, without dignity, without any sense of justice. If I were in that situation, I’d be so delighted with the immense riches from my share and glad that my friends also shared in the good fortune, that it would never occur to me to try to take it all.

But that’s what one woman did. And it never even bothered her.

She knew it was wrong because she tried to hide the money, forming a whole pyramid of businesses with her husband to deal with her ill-gotten gains. It shows to me the difference among people: some can do such things, justify it to themselves (or not — maybe they feel no need to justify their actions) and sleep well at night, others of us can’t.

I still remember when I stopped pointing out when a checkout clerk undercharged me. I felt like a thief, but I’d learned that it is even more complicated to right undercharges than it is overcharges, perhaps because they can’t believe anyone would be so honest (or stupid) to bring it to their attention. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had committed major larceny. Even if I had gotten away with it, I wouldn’t have gotten away with it, if you know what I mean.

Truthfully, I especially can’t imagine those numbers — the millions that were awarded to the small company for selling the rights to someone else’s work. Although I’d like to make it big and have to try to deal with such magnificent and munificent numbers, I’m really hoping I sell enough of my newest book to keep from embarrassing my publisher, the same Stairway Press that published Fifty Shades of Black & White.

***

“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.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE Embodies the Essence of Christmas

Washington Irving wrote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” As I read these words several years ago, I could see her, a drab woman, defeated by life, dragging herself through her days in the normal world, but in an abnormal world of strife and danger, she would come alive and inspire others. And so Kate Cummings, the hero of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire was born. But born into what world?

ASHF

I didn’t want to write a book about war, which is a common setting for such a character-driven story, so I created the red death, an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease that ravages Colorado. Martial law is declared, rationing is put into effect, and the entire state is quarantined. During this time when so many are dying, Kate comes alive and gradually pulls others into her sphere of kindness and generosity. First enters Dee Allenby, another woman defeated by normal life, then enter the homeless — the group hardest hit by the militated restrictions. Finally, enters Greg Pullman, a movie-star-handsome reporter who is determined to find out who created the red death and why they did it.

Kate and her friends build a new world, a new normal, to help one another survive, but other characters, such as Jeremy King, a world-class actor who gets caught in the quarantine, and Pippi O’Brien, a local weather girl, think of only of their own survival, and they are determined to leave the state even if it kills them.

The world of the red death brings out the worst in some characters while bringing out the best in others. Most of all, the prism of death and survival reflects what each values most. Kate values love. Dee values purpose. Greg values truth. Jeremy values freedom. Pippi, who values nothing, learns to value herself.

Though this book has been classified by some readers as a thriller — and there are plenty of thrills and lots of danger — A Spark of Heavenly Fire is fundamentally a Christmas book. The story starts at the beginning of December, builds to a climax on Christmas, and ends with renewal in the Spring. There are no Santas, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but the story — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

When you are making out your Christmas lists, I hope you will include A Spark of Heavenly Fire. That should make both of us happy!

You can read the first chapter of A Spark of Heavenly Fire here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/free-samples/a-spark-of-heavenly-fire/

You can purchase the print book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spark-Heavenly-Fire-Pat-Bertram/dp/1630663662/

Did the Macaw Survive?

Someone wrote to me yesterday and said that Bob, The Right Hand of God was a cool book, but he felt bad about Rosemary and the scarlet macaw. Especially the macaw.

There really is no other interpretation of Rosemary’s fate than the one presented in the book, but I thought the macaw had a different end. Looking back, nowhere in the book does it say unequivocally what actually happened to the poor bird, though I had thought it’s fate could be assumed.

Apparently not.

I suppose it depends on if one believes what Bob says, and if one thought there were a stable environment where the bird could be sent, and if Bob were honorable enough to help the poor thing survive. All things that are debatable.

Now I’m curious. Do you think the macaw survived?

None of this, so far, spoils the story since these events took place toward the beginning of the book, so if you respond, I’d appreciate your not mentioning anything that might give away the story.

The book calls out for a sequel, the story of the next generation if nothing else, and your response would help me figure out if (a big if!) I were to write a sequel, whether I should include a mention of the bird or leave the poor thing to its ambiguous fate.

***

“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.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Conundrums

I’m reading a thriller where several people are hunting for some sort of Jewish treasure that Columbus apparently took with him on his final voyage in an effort to protect the articles from the inquisition. The premise of the story is based on the theory that Columbus was a Jew who converted to Christianity as a way of avoiding being tortured and killed, and that his name was not Columbus. Columbus was his adopted Christian name, not his real name. Supposedly, he did not set out on his journey to prove that the earth was round or even to hunt for an easier route to the Spice Islands. He was actually looking for a place where Jews could live in peace, so his backers were predominately Jewish.

I was already aware of these theories, so that is nothing new. What the book did was make me think of what is going on in the world today with all the fights over statues and renaming of holidays.

Columbus Day was originally a New York holiday to honor Italian-American heritage. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the day into a national holiday, and therein lies the problem, including that of a nearby city. A statue of Columbus resides in the middle of that city, a century-old memorial to its large Italian-American population, but a vocal element wants to tear down the statue, as if Columbus were personally responsible for all the ills of this country, which is silly. Columbus never even set foot in North America, and in fact, was only one of the many seafaring people who managed to cross the ocean, some even thousands of years previously.

The truth is, there are no Native Americans. All of us, even the American Aborigines, are immigrants from elsewhere. There are signs that people from all over the world, for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, were enveloped into and contributed to the development of “native culture.”

The problem is not with Columbus but with an overpopulated world — at the time, the arable land in Europe was divided up and owned by the nobility. People with no other options needed a place to go to start a new life, and here was a whole continent (two continents, actually) where few people lived and harsh laws (except for the harsh laws of nature) had yet to take hold.

The wave of Europeans came decades after Columbus’s voyages, so none of that is to his credit or discredit. The times and a dying way of life were the real culprit.

Still, even if you believe the myth that Columbus discovered America, destroying statues of him (which aren’t really of him since no one knows what he looks like) is utterly hypocritical. If people think we are wrong for being here, they can always go back where they came from. Tearing down a statue, renaming a holiday, apologizing for things someone’s ancestors did (not mine — mine were still living in feudal countries and didn’t even come here until the twentieth century) in no way changes the past. No one is seriously considering making reparations and giving the country back to the Indians, and why should they? If the various tribes had been less obsessed with their traditional enemies and had banded together against the new one, they could have halted the population growth at the Mississippi River. At least for a while. But a time that has come, has come. There is no stopping it.

Which brings me to the whole idea of reparations. If the BLM has their way and they are granted reparations, who is to pay them? Those of us whose ancestors were not even here? That’s absurd. So who? England? After all, the slaves were first brought here when the area was still under control of England. And later, the slave area was under the control of the Confederacy. They could be paid with Confederate dollars; I’m sure there are plenty of such dollars in collections. And yet — signs of the Confederacy, such as statues, are being destroyed. If we’re writing history to erase the whole slave era, then who’s to pay? There’s no one left.

Sheesh. Here I’ve been doing so well staying away from the news and local issues and all the conundrums of our times, and an awful book brings me back. (Awful because there are too many separate stories and too much redundancy since each of the stories is basically a repetition — hunting treasure and killing people. Worst of all, huge portions of the book are in Italics, and Italics always tell me that particular portion is not part of the book and so I skip it.)

For my own peace of mind, I might have to give up reading, too.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, 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

Feted!

As if a feast wasn’t enough celebration yesterday, my host and hostess also feted me.

They set up a chair and a table, asked me to be seated, and said that they had a ceremony to perform.

I shook my head, not wanting any part of it (he tends to be a bit of a joker, though not at all mean), but she said, “You’ll like it.”

I sat down and warned them I was not a good sport. And I’m not — I don’t like pranks and practical jokes, and I don’t like being embarrassed, and I particularly don’t like being called a bad sport for putting up with abuse. (Which so often practical jokes are.)

Again, though, my hostess said it wasn’t a problem, that I would like it.

So I sat on my throne, and a minute later, my host dressed as a herald, solemnly marched up beside me and intoned, “By His Lordship of the Shire: Today will auspiciously be remembered as the appointing of She Who Must be Obeyed. In recognition of this momentous occasion, She Who Must be Obeyed will officially be written into the parchment of memories. Whereas her name shall not be forgotten! (Unless erased.)

“Wench, bring forth the quill of everlasting symbols that fadeth not.”

My hostess solemnly marched toward me, holding a pen out in front of her with both hands as if it were a wand or something special, and handed it to me.

Then he said, “Bring forth the parchment that She Who Must be Obeyed may enter her mark upon history.”

She left the room and came back, again, she marched toward me, holding out a tray covered with a fancy cloth. She ceremoniously removed the cloth to reveal a zippered bag. She slowly unzipped the bag, and pulled out my book, Bob, The Right Hand of God.

I laughed. You, of course, have already figured out what was going on, but I was totally surprised. And delighted — both by the ceremony and that they had actually bought a book. When I mentioned my surprise, he said, “Did you doubt we would?” Well, yes. Not everyone who says they will buy a book follow through.

Anyway, I signed the book, we took photos, and then he intoned, “In celebration of this historic occasion, a feast for all! Happy Thanksgiving.”

I must admit, it was a memorable occasion, and she was right, I did like it.

***

“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. Or you can buy the Kindle version by clicking here: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.