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.

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.

The Secret of the Cards

After almost six months of picking a daily tarot card to study, I’ve seen some trends — out of a total of 78 cards, about one third have not yet shown up, about one third have shown up sporadically, and the final third are constant companions.

One of the cards that turns up frequently is the queen of wands. The court cards (the face cards) are traditionally linked to those asking the question of the cards. In some readings, the court cards are removed except for the card that most represents the querent. (The querent is the one asking the question.) I’d like to think that the queen of wands represents me, both for what I know I am as well as what I would want to be. For example, the queen of wands is adaptable, kind, generous, warm-hearted to her friends, intelligent and capable. Her ways of thinking are varied and complex, but she can grasp the moment and make what she wants of it.

Sounds like someone I would like to be! One thing the card has wrong (or at least one interpretation of the card that is wrong) is the advice not to be afraid to speak up and be heard; no one will silence me. That makes me laugh because Facebook and its minions or algorithms or something has effectively silenced me since it has blocked any link to my blog from the site. In an effort to overcome that block, I reblog this blog onto another blog and post that link, but apparently, their computers can pick up that it isn’t the original link, and hence they subdue it. Instead of the hundred or so people who used to see my blog on FB, now only a handful do.

And FB isn’t the only one who has silenced me — left-leaning folks tend not to like what I say, and override me if we’re in person, or insult me if we’re online. Nothing is worth that. Well, that’s not true — I never let anyone silence me when it came to my grief writings, even though more than one person told me it was time for me to drop the mantle of grief and move on.

But I’m straying from the point, which is learning the tarot.

Although most people use a single deck and learn the cards by the interpretation in the booklet that comes with cards, I use a variety of decks (a different one each month) and a variety of sources, so the interpretation of the card becomes deeper than the few simple words that generally are used to explain the deck. And what I am learning from this is that the tarot seems like a great story and character generator.

Cards have an up and down (called dignified and ill-dignified). I shuffle the cards so they all face the same direction thinking that the world is unfriendly enough without focusing on the shadow side of the world, but the ill-dignified aspect of the cards, especially the face cards, adds an additional dimension to the character — a shadow side. (I prefer to think of it as a shadow side rather than a “flaw” because it isn’t a “flaw” it’s part of the person, just not something to be proud about. For example, the queen of wands can be jealous and domineering, perhaps obstinate, and tending to imagine wrongs done to her.

I’m not yet ready to embark on writing another book, but when I do, I will use the tarot to help flesh out my characters, give them depth. The other cards will help direct the action, sending the characters on various adventures.

Until then, I will continue my study of the cards. Who knows — I might discover something else. The secrets of the universe perhaps, or maybe the secrets of my heart. If nothing else, I will discover some of the secrets of the cards.

***

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.

My “On” Button

Before the election, I talked with a friend one day about all the lies and cheats and deceptions. Like most people, she knew knew these tactics existed, but since she believed the lies told by the alphabet newscasters, she wasn’t aware there was another side.

I don’t often monopolize the conversation, but every once in a while, someone finds my “on” button, and I hold forth. Much of the truth of this past election was hard to find, but if one read more than an article or two, and if one read articles that went against what one happens to think at any given moment, it was a lot easier to piece things together. Also, I’ve studied such things most of my life — people often downplay the unpalatable truth with a contemptuous sneer of “conspiracy theory,” but the truth is, a conspiracy is merely something people in power do behind your back. And politics is full of back door, back room, back stabbing deals that we are not privy to, and if we do happen to stumble on the truth, well, then, they dismiss it by saying it’s just another conspiracy theory or fake news or whatever damning name they want to call it.

That particular day, however, I’d watched the news with her, watched the newscaster show a clip of an interview, then listened to her turn the person’s words upside down to prove a completely different point, then asked a second interviewee a question that would again make a mockery of the truth. The two of them talked about the horror of the event as if it had actually happened, rather than being a total fabrication.

Since I don’t watch the news, this took me aback. That they didn’t even pretend to hide their reprehensible behavior was too much for me. Did they really think we were such fools as to not hear what we originally heard?

Apparently so. Anyway, that got me started.

The friend listened agog as I explained not what we had just seen but also some of the subtle — and not so subtle — lies we’ve been told, explained how they vilified some players while beatifying others, and even explained some of the historical background leading up to this particular political mess. When I realized what I was doing, I apologized.

She said, “I like listening to you talk.” She asked me how I knew everything I did, including all the pieces that went together to make up my books. Then she said, “You must have gone to school for a long time.”

The truth is, I didn’t go to school for a long time. In fact, I have far less formal education than just about anyone I know, but I’ve spent a lifetime reading and researching, listening and thinking to make up for the lack. Even more, I almost never watch television. I didn’t grow up watching like most people of my generation did because my father wouldn’t get one. He wanted us to be independent thinkers, which kind of backfired on him. He wanted us to independently come to the same conclusions he did, and he was appalled to discover that we all turned out to think independently of him.

But that’s beside the issue. The real issue is that a lot of knowledge is hidden in books. Not school books or text books, but . . . books. All kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. If one never reads, one never learns anything but what they are fed.

The first time I realized that tales hid truth was in grade school. For an English assignment, we had to create a newspaper. I thought it would be fun to make the news stories about various fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and in trying to find things to say about these bits of folklore, I happened to come across a book that gave the origins and meanings. And wow! What an eyeopener!

And so began my quest for the truth hidden in books.

If I have ever had a life-long passion, it’s with the truth, reading, seeing that which is hidden that we’re not supposed to know. So far, not all the truth is suppressed, and I’m not sure it can be, but it’s a lot harder to find than on a lighted screen.

I can’t say knowing the truth — at least as much of it as I do — has made me happy. It’s made me more of an outcast than anything (except during my years with Jeff — he was the only other seeker I had ever met, and together we learned a lot). But still, I’d rather know the truth — and if I don’t, I prefer searching for it — even if people don’t agree with me. Sometimes, their disagreement leads me to other paths. So far, none of these paths have set me on a totally different course, though a lot of the paths augmented the ones I was already on.

Searching for truth is like this find the hidden objects game I’ve been playing — it’s about learning patterns, seeing the truth as deviation from the pattern as well as seeing the truth in the pattern.

See what I mean about my “on” button? I had no intention of going into all that, but once I got started, I just kept going.

Luckily for you, I also have an off button.

***

My latest novel Bob, The Right Hand of God is now published!

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!

Next Time

A portmanteau word is a word that combines words, such as brunch, which is a combination of breakfast and lunch, but since a portmanteau is a large trunk, it would make more sense for portmanteau words to be those that carry extra weight and meaning.

Such as “next time.”

I’d never thought of those particular words — they are so common as to be almost meaningless — but a character in a novel I just finished reading believes “next time” are the two best words in the English language. “Next time” is not exactly mellifluous — others words are much prettier, such as ethereal or serene — but the more I think about “next time”, the more I can see what the character means.

“Next time” tells a story. Something didn’t happen the way you planned, you made a mistake, you weren’t quite good enough, but another time will come around where perhaps things will happen the way you planned, you didn’t make a mistake, you were good enough.

“Next time” is actually the premise of most stories. The story of the three bears comes to mind. The first time Goldilocks sits at the table in the bear’s house, the chair was too hard and the porridge too hot. The second time, the chair was too soft and the porridge too cold. But the next — oh, the next time everything was perfect. As simple as the story line is, it’s the basis of many tales, especially the hero’s journey. He tries, doesn’t succeed. Tries a second time, giving it his all, and still doesn’t succeed. But he undergoes a transformation, becoming the hero — the person who can succeed. And the next time he tries, he accomplishes his task. (Technically, I suppose, the middle try is also a “next time,” but in a way, instead of disproving my point, it shows that there is always another next time.)

“Next time” isn’t just about stories. “Next time” carries within itself a whole trunk full of possibilities, of hope, even of miracles. Anything can happen the next time because . . . well, because it’s not this time when so many things are going wrong.

“Next time” offers a promise of a second chance.

“Next time” gives us a chance to be better. To be kinder, more thoughtful, more careful, more whatever we need to be next time.

So, no matter what happens today and in the next several days, take heart that there will be a next time.

***

Bob, The Right Hand of God is now published! 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.

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

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.