Not Cowering, Not Courageous

What if there were hundreds of thousands of people dying in Colorado alone, not just the 987 who have died so far? Would you have the courage to live, to fall in love, to open your home to those less fortunate, to try to find out who unleashed the microscopic beast as my characters in A Spark of Heavenly Fire did?

Apparently, I wouldn’t. I’m following orders and staying home. Alone. Not much courage in that. No spark of heavenly fire, either, that’s beaming up and blazing in this dark hour of adversity.

I’m not exactly cowering, but I am paying attention to the stay-at-home order even though most people in my age group aren’t. Little by little they are claiming their lives, going out and doing non-essential things, getting together in small groups. If my knee were healed, I might join some of them, especially those who meet outside, but my knee makes me feel vulnerable. I’ve also spent so much time alone that I fear my immune system isn’t exactly in tip-top shape, so I’d be especially susceptible to any small illness that comes along.

So, not cowering, not courageous. Just pragmatic.

I do worry, though. I have spent so much time in the years since Jeff died trying to be sociable despite my inclination to not go out, that I fear this time of being forced into staying home will make it all but impossible for me to gain the energy to overcome my natural hermit tendencies. I used to say “yes” to all invitations because that forced me out of my nest, but now I find myself saying “no.” Eventually, people will stop asking.

Although I do believe that The Bob was never severe enough to merit the measures that were taken to keep us home and to “flatten the curve” to keep the ill from overwhelming hospitals (the projection of deaths was built on a flawed model that was discredited months ago), I would probably have stayed home anyway. I tend to catch things easily and be sick longer than most people — and did so even when I was younger — that I have learned to take extra precautions, though I admit, those precautions probably would not have been as strict as the stay-at-home orders.

Luckily, I have the choice. Luckily, I have a lovely house in which to stay home.

And luckily for you, for the next month, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available as a free download from Smashwords in all ebook formats. You can find the book here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

I figure that by the time the world gets back to normal — or as normal as it will ever get — people will be sick of the very word “quarantine,” and won’t want to have anything to do with novel diseases or diseases in a novel, which is why I giving it away now. I hope I’m wrong about people not wanting to read about devastating diseases after this is all through because A Spark of Heavenly Fire is more than a story about a pandemic — it’s the story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

It certainly is not about a woman who stayed home. Where’s the story in that?

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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.

At it Again

It seems rather unfair that while we are dealing with isolation and the effects of the current crisis, we are still having to field spam calls and emails. You’d think they’d give us a rest from their machinations, but apparently uncertain times make people ripe for the picking. And these callers are not minor players, but corporations in themselves — big business.

Something else that’s adding to the burden of isolation is this allergy season. Everyone I know who has been sick enough and worried enough to get tested for The Bob turned out to be negative for any virus and positive for allergies. Is this a worse allergy season than normal? I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be any information on any other medical crisis. All that anyone talks about is this novel virus, which I have dubbed “The Bob” because of a bit of dialogue in A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

Speaking of other medical crises — whatever happened to the seasonal flu? According to various articles before the onslaught of The Bob, this had been a particularly bad and atypical flu season. It started earlier than normal and with the wrong flu strain. Generally, the A types of flu came first, followed by the B types, but this year, the B came first, followed by a long A and B surge. According to the CDC, as of February 12, 4.6 million flu cases had been diagnosed so far this year. Then came all the talk about a novel virus, and that was the end of the information about this atypical flu season. What happened to it? Did it simply disappear? No one is saying.

Oops. Here I am at it again — talking about the ramifications of The Bob. I was going to stay away from any more discussion about this situation because it seems to upset people, but then came a whole slew of spam calls as well as learning about friends’ allergy problems, and it got me started questioning again.

Well, in for a penny in, for a pound or maybe, since I’m not British, in for a dime, in for a dollar. A friend sent me a link to a television interview with two doctors from Accelerated Urgent Care in California who have studied immunology and microbiology extensively. Whenever they’d say something that echoes my concerns — that isolating healthy people is damaging in the long run because it is the contact with all sorts of pathogens that builds up our immune systems, and that delaying non-viral-related hospital visits will place an undue strain on hospitals after the restrictions are lifted — the interviewers would interrupt and try to get them back on the party line: lockdown good; business as usual bad. The doctors very patiently stuck to their script and managed to say what they needed to, not just about the immune system but about seeing abuse and suicides on the rise.

Although it seemed to make the interviewers nervous, the doctors weren’t wearing masks because, as the doctors explained, they knew the truth how the immune system worked. They also said now that so many people have been tested and found to have or have had the disease, the fatality rate is so very much lower than was predicted. And that hospitals are way below capacity, doctors and nurses are being furloughed, and that anyone who dies with the coronavirus is considered to have died of the corona virus.

Perhaps that’s where all the seasonal flu deaths have gone? Swallowed up in The Bob statistics?

I don’t know, but it is a question I don’t see answered anywhere.

In case you haven’t yet downloaded a free copy of my novel  A Spark of Heavenly Fire about a novel pathogen that caused a pandemic and forced Colorado to be quarantined, click here to get your free ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

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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.

Unspeakable Truths

I don’t know the truth of what’s going on. No one knows, though most of us read a few articles, see a few videos, watch the news, talk to friends, and so we think we do. Not even the people the “conspiracy theorists” think are behind the current situation know the truth. There are folks so deeply entrenched into the power structure of the world economy and have been for so many years, that we see only their minions.

Although I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I have spent most of my life researching conspiracies, trying to find the truth. (Keep in mind that researching back then wasn’t a matter of googling a few sites and watching a couple of videos. It meant books, and books, and more books. It meant studying research papers and tracking information through various sources.)

That’s all I’ve ever been interested in — the truth. Whether it’s the truth of religion, politics, history, science, life, death, it’s all fair game to me. Truth has been a lifelong pursuit. In fact, when I was in eighth grade, we were assigned to create the front page of a newspaper, including headlines, articles, etc. My newspaper was all about the meaning of nursery rhymes, and back then it took some digging to find out some of those meanings. For example, “Ring-around the rosy” originated as a rhyming song about the black death —“We all fall down.” Mary, Mary, quite contrary supposedly tells a grim tale about Mary Tudor.

One thing I did learn during a lifetime of research (two lifetimes if you include Jeff’s historical research in addition to mine) is that often a so-called conspiracy is merely a plan someone or a group of someones makes and doesn’t tell anyone.

Is what’s going on today fulfilling some people’s agendas? Probably. However it started, however anything starts — whether by accident or design — there is always someone who is ready to make a profit from it, either in money or power. There will also always be people who believe there is an agenda even if they can’t agree on what that agenda might be, and there will always be those who don’t. It doesn’t make a difference, really. We still have to deal with each day as it comes and to protect ourselves however we can.

Although I have been trying to find out how some influential people are using this situation to promote themselves and their businesses (destroying small businesses in the process), I don’t know if I care what the truth is. Whether this is the simple pandemic we’re told it is or whether there is some nefarious purpose behind it, knowing won’t change anything. Besides, the truth doesn’t always set us free. Sometimes it only serves to make us sad and weary and so very, very discouraged.

When I was writing A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about biological warfare that mirrors this situation in sometimes eerie ways, I needed a substory and, as often happens, I found a clue in the very next book I read, and the pursuit of that clue led me to a place called Pingfan and added a depth to my novel I could never have imagined.

By that time, I thought my knowledge of man’s and woman’s inhumanity to their own kind made me shockproof, but even I was appalled to learn about Pingfan. For those who have read A Spark of Heavenly Fire — no, I did not create Pingfan. I don’t have that sort of inhumane brain. General Ishii created the place.

General Ishii was the leader of the Japanese germ warfare program. It’s ironic, but the Japanese had no interest in biological warfare until the Geneva Protocol’s 1932 ban on biological weapons. Ishii concluded the ban meant they were an effective means of fighting a war, so he persuaded the imperial army to let him establish a biological warfare installation. The army granted permission in 1937.

They built the installation in Manchuria near a village called Pingfan, forty miles outside of Harbin, and it was huge—a town in itself, actually, and self-supporting. In addition to living quarters and the research facilities, which included a separate compound for plague research, there was a school, a railroad siding, an administration building, a crematorium, a powerhouse, a hospital, an airbase, and farms for raising food and livestock. A high wall topped with barbed wire hid the facility from view. A moat lay beyond the wall to trap any intruders, and an electrified fence surrounded the inner perimeter to prevent escapes.

Three thousand doctors, scientists, technicians, and soldiers worked there. The output was staggering. They grew and experimented with all kinds of diseases and bio-weapons. And they had the capacity for producing twenty million doses of vaccine annually. Radiating out from Pingfan were eighteen other biological warfare stations, each staffed with three hundred people. Many of those stations were on mainland China. The whole program was administered by an organization with the innocuous name of Boeki Kyusuibu, which means Anti-Epidemic Water Supply Unit.

The Japanese conducted their experiments on Chinese villagers and POWs—mostly Chinese, but also American, British and Australian prisoners. (Many of the soldiers from the Bataan death march ended up there.)

Hundreds of American POWs died torturous deaths, and if by chance any of them survived one experiment, they were immediately put to use in another. Thousands upon thousands of Chinese were also killed—at least a hundred thousand, perhaps as many as a million—but the Japanese admitted to only a thousand. (And now the Chinese have their own bio-labs.)

The Japanese conducted all sorts of experiments.

Using planes, they scattered rice and wheat mixed with plague.

They dropped anthrax bombs designed to shatter into a thousand pieces of shrapnel. A single scratch from one of those fragments caused death in ninety percent of its victims.

They injected their victims with diseases, fed them cultures of diseases, exposed them to clouds of diseases in gas chambers, then killed them at various stages of the diseases, and performed autopsies on them. They performed some autopsies while the victim still lived.

They poisoned thousands of wells in Manchuria with cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. Interestingly, a regiment of Japanese soldiers unknowingly drank from one of those wells. Thousands died.

They also infected fleas with botulism, put them in balloons, and let them go, hoping they’d reach the United States. Many of the balloons did reach the western coast, but luckily the fleas had all died.

In addition to bacteriological experiments, the doctors had conducted experiments on frostbite. Victims were taken outside in the coldest months of the year and forced to immerse their hands and feet in barrels of cold water. They were kept outside until their extremities froze, then were taken back inside so the doctors could investigate means of treating frostbite.

The doctors had also done blood work experiments. In an effort to discover if blood other than human could be used to treat wounded soldiers, prisoners had been drained of their own blood and infused with horse’s blood. All died.

After the war, Ishii ended up in the custody of the United States. He told them about his germ warfare program in exchange for immunity. The U.S. concluded that the potential benefits of the research outweighed the demands of justice. No war crimes were ever brought against Ishii, and the whole thing was covered up. Ishii retired to a village named Wakamatsu-cho, where he lived on a pension provided by the U.S. government until his death in 1959.

None of the other doctors involved ever charged with war crimes, either.

The pathology squad leader who had conducted live autopsies became a professor at Kyoto University. He later became a professor emeritus of the university and a medical director of the Kinki University at Osaka.

The doctor who had fed typhoid germs in milk to prisoners, and who had been responsible for certain types of germ bombs, became a professor of bacteriology at Kyoto University.

The frostbite expert joined the faculty of Kyoto Prefectural Medical College and later became its president.

The premier germ bomb expert joined the Japanese National Institute of Health, where he continued his bacteriological research.

The hematologist opened a blood bank that eventually became one of the most successful multi-national medical supply and pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The only reason any of this became public knowledge is that many years later, when some of the American victims applied for help through the VA, they were told their records were sealed, and that what they had experienced had never happened. They fought for their truth, and won.

Was that the end? Of course not. There’s always someone trying to make a bad thing worse. For example, the Russians built an underground facility capable of growing eighty to one hundred tons—tons!—of the smallpox virus every year. Even worse, they modified it genetically, combining the smallpox with Ebola and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, a brain virus. Worst of all, the collapse of the Soviet Union left hundreds of biological research scientists unemployed. Many of them took the smallpox with them when they went to work for other countries like Libya, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, India, and maybe even Israel and Pakistan. And of course, the United States.

So, do I think some powerful people are using this current situation for their own ends? You bet. Do I know that those ends are? I can guess, but even that would fall short of the truth, because some truths are so horrific and unspeakable that only masterful psychopaths can imagine them. I no longer even have the heart to write about such crimes, which is why only my first four books are based on various conspiracies.

If you’re interested in reading A Spark of Heavenly Fire, it’s still available as a free download from Smashwords. Click here to get your free ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

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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.

Free E-Book!

For the next month, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available as a free download from Smashwords in all ebook formats. You can find the book here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

I figure that by the time the world gets back to normal — or as normal as it will ever get — people will be sick of the very word “quarantine,” and won’t want to have anything to do with novel diseases or diseases in a novel, which is why I giving it away now. I hope I’m wrong about people not wanting to read about devastating diseases after this is all through because A Spark of Heavenly Fire is more than a story about a pandemic — it’s the story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

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?

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 the world, but mostly Colorado where the disease originated. 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.

It sounds like us, today — the crisis crystalizing our lives and showing us what we value most.

Click here to get your free ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

Below is the video trailer for A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

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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.

The Bob

In the following scene from A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about a novel disease, investigative reporter Greg and his editor Olaf are talking about an article on the pandemic Greg is hoping to write.

—-

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartily.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it.

Olaf tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

—–

And it works for me. From now on, I’m going to call this current novel virus “The Bob.” No insult meant to any Bob living or dead, but I need a different name to call this disease because I am already sick of seeing its name wherever I go on the internet and hearing it out in public. And anyway, I named the disease many years ago back when I didn’t know any Bobs.

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

Living in my Own Story

I am feeling very déjà-vu-ish these days, as if I’m living in the pages of one of my books. (A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the story of a quarantine in Colorado where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. Insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled. And is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1630663662/)

Now that was a real pandemic, my red death. What we’re going through now is . . . I don’t know what it is, but it seems more fictional than my fictional disease. Truly, this panic over a rather tepid pandemic has me mystified. Maybe young folks would have an excuse because they haven’t lived through any of the previous named flus (Russian, Swine, etc.) , but most of them seem to be blasé since they are not being hit hard. But for the rest of us? I really don’t get it.

The Russian Flu killed 1 million from 1889 to 1890

The Spanish Flu killed 40-50 million from 1918-1919 (20% of the world’s population)

The Asian Flu killed 1.1 million from 1957 to 1958

The Hong Kong Flu killed 1 million between 1968-1970

The Swine Flu killed 200,000 between 2009 to 2010

Seasonal Flu (the various flus that hit us every year) kill between 300,000 to 600,000 every year.

The Coronavirus has killed 6,500 from Nov 2019 to March 15. 2020, which means we’re almost halfway through the typical period it takes for one of these named flus to run its course. People keep citing statistics, such as the rapid spread rate, the extreme potency of the organism to prove how important the hype is. And yet it is nowhere near as potent or rapid spreading as all the previous flus no one cared about.

The closest thing to this particular reaction that I have seen was the swine flu of 1976. There was a panic to create a vaccine with the ultimate goal of vaccinating 80% of the citizens of the USA. They reached 25%. And all that panic came from a single death. One death. That’s it. The vaccine caused more deaths than that, along with major problems for a lot of the vaccinated people, including an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Because of that ridiculous mess, and because of being forced to get such a dangerous vaccine or risk losing my job, I will never follow the party line (either party line) when it comes to any sort of flu, epidemic, or pandemic, no matter how wild or how tepid.

Yes, I know. People are dying. For them and those who care about them, it’s a sad and terrible thing, but going by strictly by the numbers, it’s not that big of a thing. And it might never be. I’m not saying taking precautions is wrong, because it isn’t. In fact, most of the precautions, such as washing one’s hands, staying home when sick, and distancing oneself from those who are ill are things we should have all been doing anyway. If we had, there’s a good chance the deaths from seasonal flu would not be nearly as great.

Even if it turns out there are 200,000 to a million deaths from this thing, it’s still pretty much status quo for a virus, whether novel or known.

The main difference between this and previous outbreaks is, as one friend pointed out, an overactive media and an even more overactive social media, both of which seem to revel in riling people because riled people are involved people. (Involved in the story, that is, not necessarily involved in finding solutions to the story.)

I love the internet. I love interacting with people all over the world. But this current reaction has me wanting to hunker down and quarantine myself from all the hype.

Luckily, a friend is coming to stay for a couple of days, so I’ll have other things to think about than living in my own story.

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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.

Virus!

With all the talk about corona virus and how it’s probably a man-made (or woman-made, for all I know) organism that escaped from a lab, it would be remiss of me not to mention my own organism, the red death. The red death only resides within the pages of A Spark of Heavenly Fire, so it cannot harm you (though it might scare you), but it’s deadly for all that. In fact, it’s so deadly and spread so fast from it’s origins in Colorado, that the entire state is quarantined.

You don’t think that’s possible? The technology already exists, and where people manage to break out of the quarantined area, you better believe that people from the surrounding states would not hesitate to shoot an escapee.

Inside the quarantined state, hundreds of thousands of people are dying in Colorado this unstoppable red death, and though many people have given up hope, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

So, if you wish to take a break from talk of the rather tepid coronavirus (the “normal” flu is much deadlier) and experience what a true epidemic would be like, you can read an excerpt of A Spark of Heavenly Fire here: https://bertramsblog.com/free-samples/a-spark-of-heavenly-fire/ and you can buy it from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1630663662/

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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

Accolade!

I got a wonderful compliment yesterday. One of my new friends just finished reading A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and last night when we met at a community event, she raved about the book, and me.

She told she had a hard time getting into the book, not because of a problem with my writing or the story, but she kept being amazed that she knew the person who’d written it. She said, several times, “I didn’t realize I knew someone so smart.” Eventually, she said, she was able to forget that she knew the writer and was able to become immersed in the story. And she loved it.

Admittedly, no one who calls themselves my friend is going to come up to me and tell me I am a rotten writer. (Smiling here — I wrote the word as wrotten. Sounds like it should be a medieval form of the past tense for written?)

At least one person has told me to my face that they weren’t impressed with my writing, and another complained about typos, but neither of these folks are people I have any sort of relationship with. Still, I could see the truth in my friend’s eyes — they lit up when she talked about the book, and even better, she immediately borrowed another. (Several people each bought one of my books, and they are passing them around.)

Her accolade certainly put a smile on my face, but lest you think I’m am letting the compliment go to my head, I should confess I was immediately brought down to earth by a little girl, about ten years old, who told me to get out of her way. (I did because I was too stunned by her impertinence to do otherwise. I was even more stunned by her mother who just stared at me.)

Still, it does my heart good to know that some people are reading — and liking — my books.

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, 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

Happy reading!

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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.

Free Samples!

If you have not yet read any of my books, or if you haven’t yet decided which of them to read, here is an opportunity to sample all of them. Simply click on each of the titles below to read the first chapter free online.

    • Unfinished — While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own…
    • Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare — When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Pat starts writing, and then . . . the murders begin.
    • A Spark of Heavenly Fire — In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease, investigative reporter Greg Pullman risks everything to discover the truth: Who unleashed the deadly organism? And why?
    • Daughter Am I — When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead.
    • Light Bringer — Thirty-seven years after being abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Colorado, Becka Johnson returns to try to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? And why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen?
    • More Deaths Than One — Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in SE Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. At her new funeral, he sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on?
    • Grief: The Great Yearning — Not a how-to but a how-done, a compilation of letters, blog posts, and journal entries Pat Bertram wrote while struggling to survive her first year of grief. “This is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Different Kind of Christmas Story

No Santa 🎅, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, 🎁 nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but still,  A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

Kate isn’t the only point of view character in the book — the story is told by four different characters who show four different ways of dealing with the horror of the red death that descends on Colorado right before Christmas. Kate is the spark of heavenly fire, the woman who blazes with generosity during this dark hour of adversity. Two of the other characters are the opposite — they do everything they can to ensure that they survive. And then there is Greg, a reporter, who is consumed with finding the truth of the red death.

I’ve always liked the following scene, which takes place between Greg and Olaf, his boss:

***

“How’s the research coming, Greg?” Olaf asked, a shade too heartilty.

“I feel as if I’m drowning in paper.”

“So I see,” Olaf said, laying a hand on the stack of Takamura’s articles. “Mind if I look?”

“Help yourself. They belong to the newspaper.”

Olaf settled himself in his customary chair with a handful of the papers. A minute later, he raised his head.

“How do these guys get anything printed? If my reporters turned in work as incomprehensible as this, they’d be out of here so fast they’d think they were flying.” He glanced at the papers and shook his head. “Even the titles are incomprehensible. ‘Imitating Organic Morphology in Micro-fabrication.’ I don’t even know what that means.”

“Me neither,” Greg said, thinking if he had to wade through this sort of stuff to learn about the red death, the earth would fall into the sun long before he read half of it. He put his hands together as if in prayer. “Please tell me it’s not written by John Takamura.”

“It isn’t. Doris Stefano, Melanie Levy, Andrew Forbes, and Lee Nishimura collaborated on this particular gem.”

Good. That meant he had to scan it for Takamura’s name instead of reading the entire thing.

“These two are by Takamura. ‘Self-Dispersement of Genetically Enhanced Corn,’ ‘Deviant Behavior in Recombinant Plant Parasitoids.’” He tossed the sheaf of papers back onto Greg’s desk. “Better you than me.”

“What do these guys do?” Greg asked. “Take a course in obfuscation?”

“Probably. Convoluted writing and obscure terms are a way of intimidating the uninitiated, keeping the profession closed to non-scientists, and adding to the scientific mystique. Just think, if diseases had names like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, doctors wouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money they do now.”

Greg laughed. “That’s an idea. They do it for hurricanes, why not everything else?” He mimed seizing the phone and dialing. “Mr. Olaf? I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Bob.” He hung up his imaginary receiver and looked inquiringly at his boss.

Olaf nodded. “Works for me.”

***

Click here to read the first chapter of A Spark of Heavenly Fire

Click here to buy A Spark of Heavenly Fire

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.