Help My Publisher Buy a Maserati

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Countdown to Publication

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

The screen went black.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Strange how?”

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

“What Bob thing?” Chet asked.

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

“I thought it was a movie.”

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

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

And so the saga begins . . .

***

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

Oh, Look! My Book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Chet has become prey.

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

***

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

Kill Your Darlings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Thirty Days Hath September

Am I the only one who has to recite the ditty whenever I need to know how many days in a month? Thirty days hath September, April, June and November . . .

I thought the above was a clever way to begin a blog on this last day of September, but I have no more cleverness with which to follow it up. The month is almost over and tomorrow begins another month, but that’s nothing new or clever. It generally happens every thirty or thirty-one days. Though I must admit, turning over a clean page on my calendar is rather nice.

Not on a lot is written on my calendar for October yet — a couple of birthdays, a notation of when I next need to turn in my time sheet, a reminder to post a pre-blog-for-peace blog on the fourth. (Every year, bloggers all over the world blog for peace on the fourth of November; and this year is no exception.) I also have a note that at the end of the month, my sister will be 21,000 days old. I’m trying to think of something special to celebrate the day, but in the end, I’ll probably just send a text. Since it’s not exactly a Hallmark occasion, no cards or gifts for the special day are readily available.

Missing as yet from October’s calendar is the day of publication, the day my newest novel will be available for sale. When I get that date, I can assure you, it won’t just go on my calendar, but will be blasted all over the internet. Well, blast might not be the word, but I will announce it especially since I know people will want to read a book about God deciding s/he’s fed up with humanity and decides to recreate the world. To be honest, with all that’s going on, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened in real life rather than simply in my febrile imagination.

This upcoming novel is a real departure for me — no mystery or suspense other than the suspense of wondering what God and his right-hand entity are going to do next to our luckless hero and how the poor guy is going to survive the re-creation. But maybe it’s not that big of a departure now that I think of it. A minister once told me, “You have a marvelous ability to write the longest parables in all of literature. You unglue the world as it is perceived and rebuild it in a wiser and more beautiful way.”

This new novel is definitely about ungluing the world and rebuilding it (though whether wiser and more beautiful is still to be determined), so the parable nature is one way it ties in with all my other books. It also has an underlying humor to it, maybe more so than my other books. In earlier blogs, I referred to it as a whimsically ironic apocalyptic novel, also as Humor Metamorphosing into Horror Metamorphosing into Allegory. My publisher is classifying the novel variously as absurdist, urban fantasy, humorous science fiction. Which is another sign of a Pat Bertram novel — one that can’t be easily categorized.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is still the old month, even if it is on its deathbed. I still have September time left to water my plants, walk, work my few hours, and read.

Sounds like a nice way to spend a lovely fall day. Hope you too enjoy your thirtieth day of September. Toodaloo until next month.

***

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

Writing a Book Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Everyday Magic

After the past four days of enumerating and celebrating my blog accomplishments, I woke this morning feeling uneasy. I have spent the past ten and a half years talking about my life, my grief, my feelings, my traumas, and the dramas that seem to follow me. (Before that, I mostly talked about reading and writing, but Jeff’s death blew me wide open, and that was reflected here on this blog.) Suddenly, after all this time, I’m uneasy, unsure that I like people knowing so much about me. It makes me vulnerable, and seems to put me at a disadvantage with people I see in real life. Do I really want them to know my innermost thoughts? Do I really want them to see my soul bared? It doesn’t seem a smart thing to do.

For example, too many people here have guessed the identity of the one person in town I try to avoid (this person’s insulting remarks were the last straw for me and Facebook), and that’s more than I want anyone to know. I’m also not sure how comfortable I am discussing things that bother me when I know the people involved will be reading what I write. I’ve been censoring myself to an extent because of this, but even so, I tend to think I say too much. Still, whatever a person says to an author and blogger is fair game for a writing topic. That’s what I do — I write about what happens in my life and try to find a lesson or gratitude or some sort of accommodation with the occurrence.

But it does make me vulnerable, and I wonder how wise I am to continue with my way of blogging.

One thing in particular happened, a minor occurrence for sure, but I took it to heart. This added to my confusion about continuing the blog path I’m on, mostly because I wanted to write about it and wasn’t sure if I should. And yet, it is a bloggable situation.

The other day, I was driving back from a nearby town when I happened to see a vehicle ready to pull onto the highway. After I passed, it pulled in behind me, and it stayed behind me as we headed into town. This tickled me because it was only the day before that I had seen the vehicle for the first time, and I knew who was driving. It seemed a bit of serendipity, even solidarity, on what is normally a faceless and friendless highway. One of life’s small miracles. Everyday magic.

The other driver’s reaction? That I drive slowly.

Huh? When is driving the speed limit slowly? Well, to be honest, it almost always is. Several cars had passed me, crossing a double-yellow line to get ahead of me shortly before I met up with this particular driver. I wonder what all those drivers would have done if I had been driving 55mph the way I’m supposed to. Driving 65mph is not a good idea for a car with such a small, air-cooled engine, and my mechanic cautioned me about burning out the engine. Still, I sailed along at 65 until we hit town, and then I slowed way down to the new speed limit, and then way, way down when it came time to turn.

I tend to forget that people don’t know there are cars without power steering, power brakes, and automatic transmissions. If you’ve ever driven such a car, you know you can’t slow at the last minute and then careen around a corner. You have to brake in plenty of time, and then downshift to make a safe turn.

Still, this wasn’t the point. The point is that I thought the drive into town was something special, a bit of magic, and the other driver thought I drove too slowly.

I just realized I answered my dilemma. This episode is not a reason to back off from telling my truth, the only thing unique I have to write about, but is instead a reason to keep going. Someone needs to point out the minor miracles, the everyday magic, the important lessons, and the serendipitous moments on the road of life that would otherwise pass unnoticed.

I’m sure my uneasiness will eventually dissipate. After all, considering the myriad heartfelt grief posts I’ve written, I’m no stranger to vulnerability.

***

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.