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

Everyone Should Like My Books

If someone doesn’t like one of my books, I feel as if I should apologize, as if I fell down on the job as an author.

Because everyone should like my books, right?

Well, no. Of course, I would like it if more people read my books, though inevitably that would mean more people would dislike one or two. And I would like it if everyone who read my books liked all they read, but that’s not always a feasible expectation.

People don’t all dislike the same book. For some, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare was too girlish. For some, Light Bringer was too complicated. For others, Bob, the Right Hand of God is a bit . . . I don’t know . . . blasphemous, maybe, though it wasn’t intended as such.

I do appreciate the candor (as long as they keep their disappointment between us) and despite my urge to apologize, I try not to take their assessment personally. After all, it was my vision I tried to put into words, not theirs, and to that extent, I succeeded. So, I have no need to apologize or feel bad or have any opinion about other people’s opinions.

I once saw a plaque that I disagreed with when I read it, but now I see the truth of the saying.

What other people think of me is none of my business. I suppose this is the same with my books — that what other people think of them is none of my business. It feels as if it should be my business, since after all, other people’s opinions are what fuels the book market. And writing is my business.

I do know that if one writes to please other people, one ends up pleasing no one, least of all oneself.

Still, I hope you like my books. Or at least one of them anyway.

***

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 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.

Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Go In the Water

Yesterday I posted a favorite scene from my new novel, Bob, The Right Hand of God. It’s such pretty imagery, one of the many scenes that would make this a perfect movie.

Did you think that’s all it was — a pretty scene. Well, at first. Then, just in when you thought it was safe to go into the water . . .

***

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 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.

A Sea of Blue

The following is perhaps my favorite scene in my new novel, Bob, the Right Hand of God:

Chet ran west along the grassy swathe of what used to be Sixth Avenue, seeking the grocery store where he usually shopped. He had seen it yesterday, and he needed to stock up on all the basics, not just food but toothpaste, soap, shaving cream.

Chest heaving, he neared the edge of what was left of Denver. The grocery store was gone. The prairie had advanced a few more blocks, wiping it out. He was trying to remember where the closest stores were in the eastern section of the city when the smell of salt and fish caught his attention.

He stopped and stared. The prairie looked blue like the ocean. Colorado had once been part of a great inland sea. Was the development company bringing it back?

He trotted to the edge of the expanse. Not a watery sea but a sea of blue flowers. Blue bees, metallic-blue wasps, and delicate blue butterflies flickered among blue geraniums, spiky blue lupines, sky-blue poppies, delphinium, columbines, forget-me-nots, periwinkles, deep blue hydrangea.

Awe carried him into the blue.

He tilted his head back and watched a flock of bluebirds limned against the pale blue evening sky.

A chill creeping up his legs brought his gaze back to earth. He stood in water up to his knees.

Shivering, he waded to shore.

Although he lingered by the sea until long after the sun had slipped behind the indigo mountains, he did not see another blue flower.

***

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.

Reviews!

I received a couple of excellent reviews for my novel Bob, The Right Hand of God, which was recently published by Stairway Press. Not that I was worried — I know the book is good (though I’m sure all authors think that about their books) but both reviewers are people whose opinion I value, so I was hoping for good words.

Luckily, both of them liked the book.

Malcolm Campbell, author of Fate’s Arrow wrote: “The book is many things: highly readable, realistic and believable in portraying how the characters react and interact, dystopian in that everything we know is gone and the replacement plan isn’t providing anything better, and (yes) playful. Should the reader laugh or cry? Hard to say. While the ending was predictable, this well-written novel is highly recommended.” Click here to read the full review: https://malcolmsroundtable.com/2020/11/04/review-bob-the-right-hand-of-god/

Sam Sattler of the book blog “Book Chase,” wrote: “Bob: The Right Hand of God is funny and it’s clever, but deep down, it has a message about the important things in life. Pat Bertram has written several books on grief and grieving and she brings that kind of emotional sensitivity even to a farcical tale like this one. If you are looking for something fun to read, this is one you should consider.” Click here to read the full review: https://bookchase.blogspot.com/2020/11/bob-right-hand-of-god-pat-bertram.html

If you, too, enjoyed the book, please leave a review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a full review such as the above two reviewers wrote. It can be as simple as single sentence saying you enjoyed the book, or that it’s the perfect book for these time, or that you’d like to see it made in a movie, or anything. (If you hated it, then never mind.) I would like to see this book find a wide audience. I think people would like it, even those who don’t read much.

If you haven’t yet read the book, 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.

Thank you!

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.