Conversations with . . . Me!

For those of you who have read Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, you might remember Rami Ungar, the wannabe writer cop who kept bedeviling poor Pat.

Today I’m being interviewed by the real Rami Ungar, a real writer, on his blog. It was an interesting interview — for me, anyway — because his questions made me think about my two newest books and to see them in a different light. Please check out the interview here: Conversations with Pat Bertram

At the beginning of the interview, Rami mentions that we met during my cross-country trip, which is true. Rami and his rabbi father invited me to a family dinner when I passed through Ohio, and they apologized profusely for the poor fare. Because it was Passover, there were various dietary restrictions, but even if the food hadn’t been gourmet quality (it was truly delicious), I would have been delighted with the meal. I mean really — Passover with a rabbi? How cool is that! (Another couple of firsts for me: first Passover meal, first visit with a rabbi.)

There was a lot of talk that night — religion, writing, comedy, travel — but what I will always remember is the joy of that simple sentence, a strange one to me, a common one to them: “Pass the matzo.”

Be sure to check out Rami’s post for more about our visit:
https://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/a-wonderful-visit-meeting-with-pat-bertram-in-person/

If that isn’t enough information about me, you can find a previous interview here: First Conversation With Pat Bertram

And interviews with Rami: Conversation With Rami Ungar and  Meet Rami Ungar.

Whew! I’m sure there are plenty of other links connecting the two of us, but these are more than enough for now. Is it any wonder that this fellow writer sneaked his way into my book about older women dancing — and murdering?

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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.

 

Author Karma and Paying it Forward

For more than nine years, I have been interviewing authors, publishers, even book characters for my Pat Bertram Introduces . . . blog. I have promoted almost 500 authors and never asked for a single thing in return. I figured (silly me!) that some of the authors would do something for me as a thank you, but only a handful of people ever offered a reciprocal promotion, and in fact, most never even helped promote their own interview, expecting me to do all the work. Periodically, I would stop doing interviews, but whenever I had time, I would continue doing them, because, well, you never know if the right interviewee would come along and help catapult me into, if not big time, then bigger time. Besides, it seemed the right thing to do. And I did have the blog. . . .

For some reason lately, maybe because I’m trying to promote my books and few writers are doing anything to help, not even something simple like sharing a post on Facebook or retweeting a post on Twitter, the whole thing has struck me as terribly wrong.

So I changed my policy. If you want me to interview you, I’m still willing to do it, but I have made it a requirement that you promote my books in return. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, especially since it can be something simple like tweeting my books (tweeting your own interview is not a promotion for me; it is a promotion for you).

Author karma and paying it forward were big concepts back when my books were first published, but come to think of it, that was mostly talk. Even back then, before the plethora of “indie” authors, no one bothered to return my favor. I suppose it’s understandable — most authors seem to think they are special and so deserve special treatment. After all, generally, they are the only author they know.

But still . . . it’s interesting to me that no author ever asked me why I was interviewing them. They all took my promoting them for granted, as if it was their right.

I sound very bah humbugish, don’t I? So not the spirit of Christmas! But too bad. If you want my help, you help me in return. As simple as that.

https://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ As you can see by clicking on the link, I put the announcement that my interviews were no longer a free service in bold letters. Do you think anyone will pay attention? I don’t.

Wishing you a bah humbug sort of day.

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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.

Now Interviewing Authors

I was talking to someone who writes childrens’ books. He has a publisher, but is on his own to find an artist. He said he hates working with artists, that they make him want to pull out his hair. I understand because I feel the same way about writers. (Except for you, of course!)

I have a couple ofearf blogs where I promote other authors because . . . To be honest, I forget why. Maybe because I thought by helping other authors, the karmic energy would help catapult my books out of obscurity, but it didn’t work that way. And now doing the author interviews has become a bad habit.

I’ve been posting a lot of such interviews lately, and oh, my. I have come to believe that authors don’t know how to read. Or maybe they have such an overweening sense of entitlement because of their “talent,” they think the directions don’t apply to them. Whatever the reason, too many of them don’t follow directions, give only half the required information (such as book title), leave off the questions and post answers that make no sense without the questions, and the most heinous sin of all — write boring responses.

I’d mostly been taking a break from this self-imposed task, so I thought I’d be able to handle the idiocies of it once again, but apparently not. Of course, it could be I’ve just gotten too crotchety to take lightly the idiocies of the world.

I like being nice, but not when being nice makes me feel . . . not nice.

Still, I do have the blogs, and I do have the time, so if you wish me to interview you, and if I haven’t scared you off, click here to find the directions for my Author Questionnaire.
Click here to find the directions for my Character Questionnaire.
Click here to Let me post your excerpt!
And please, please click here learn How To Do an Online Interview

I promise I won’t be crotchety. At least not much.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram 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.

Interviewing . . . Me!

What genre are your books?

A Spark of Heavenly FireAll of my novels have elements of intrigue, adventure, mystery, suspense, romance, history, and some have a touch of science fiction. A Spark of Heavenly Fire, for example, is the story of people who become extraordinary during a time of horror — a bioengineered disease is decimating the population of Colorado, and the entire state is quarantined. One character is obsessed with finding out who created the disease, one couple tries to escape, one woman does what she can to help the survivors. A thread of romance connects all the stories. All these different stories entwined into one makes it difficult to settle on a single genre, though many reviewers call it a thriller, and my publisher, Second Wind Publishing, sells it as mainstream.

What are your favorite genres?

I like to read novels that have it all — mystery, adventure, romance, a touch of strangeness, a bit of truth — but since I can’t find that sort of novel very often, I settle for just about anything. Non-fiction, genre fiction, literary fiction, whatever is at hand.

Do you think you gain sales for your books through blogging?

I know I’ve made a few sales because of blogging, but I don’t think blogs are a particularly good sales tool. I do think blogs are wonderful for connecting with readers once readers have discovered you, they can be a great source for support and suggestions, and they are a way of meeting people who like the same things you do. Mostly though, I just enjoy blogging.

Tell us about your book, Daughter Am I.

Daughter Am I is a young woman/old gangster coming-of-age novel.

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. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians-former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

What similarities if any between your other books and Daughter Am I?

The unifying theme in all of my books is the perennial question: Who are we? More Deaths Than One suggests we are our memories. A Spark of Heavenly suggests we are the sum total of our experiences and choices. Daughter Am Isuggests we are our heritage.

Do you sell your books as an eBook?

My books are all available for sale as ebooks, and the first 30% of each is also available free on Smashwords. The books are also available in print for those who still prefer to own a physical copy of the books they read.

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

25% of the total production of books printed by the major publishing companies are pulped, which is an incredible waste, so I think more books will be digitally printed as needed. It makes sense financially, especially if the cost of production goes down. Ultimately, e-books will become the preferred format for “disposable” books, such as bestsellers that readers will only read once.

If you could give one tip for aspiring authors, what would that be?

I’ll tell them that a book begins with a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written — one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book. After that, who knows, you might even reach the pinnacle and become a published author. All because you set your goal to write one word.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I have a website — http://patbertram.com — where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my books, and my events on a daily basis is here on this blog: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com

All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, and Smashwords. Smashwords is great — the books are available in all ebook formats, including Kindle, and you can download the first 30% free.

What do you do to promote other authors?

I do author interviews and character interviews, and post excerpts on my blogs, and I don’t charge a penny! Of course, since the authors get what they pay for, I can’t guarantee they will sell books because of my efforts, but they will be promoted via Facebook and Twitter. If I you are an author and interested in being interviewed by me, click here to find the directions for my Author Questionnaire. Click here to find the directions for my Character Questionnaire. And click here to Let me post your excerpt!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram 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.

How do you give readers the background information they need?

All my books seem to have a character like Teach, my learned con man from Daughter Am I, who tends to be a lecturer. The hardest part of editing that particular book was to take out everything that wasn’t essential to understanding the story. I worry that Teach’s talk about the history of gold is a bit much, but there is no way to understand why the gold was buried without understanding the history of the era. I did try to space the information to add a bit of suspense at times or to offer a respite from the action at other times.

For Light Bringer, I had to present various conspiracy theories, and instead of having a character like Teach to “teach” the theories, I created a discussion group, each member of which believed a different theory and vociferously defended it while denigrating what the others believed. It was a fun way to present the information without an extended information dump.

Here are some responses from other authors about giving readers the background information they need. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Donna Galanti, Author of “A Human Element”

I try to tease them with only a few descriptive details of backstory and setting as I go along. Give them only what they need at the time. Readers want to feel smart. They like to fill in the blanks, as long as there aren’t too many blanks. I try and look at all backstory and gauge if it serves the story. If it doesn’t out it goes. By introducing questions early on with giving just enough information to keep the story going, we involve the reader, take them along for the ride, and…build suspense. Hopefully!

From an interview with Sam Lopez, author of “Dead Sea”

Disputes between characters can provide helpful information but if there is no conflict, then sometimes you just have to spell out what needs saying.

What about you? How do you deal with exposition and give readers the background information they need?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

Before I wrote A Spark of Heavenly Fire, I did extensive research into pandemics and into the government’s response to such emergencies (I based my fictional response on actual executive orders that Clinton signed), so there wasn’t much change in my understanding of these matters during the course of the book, but there was a big difference in my thoughts about what “they” want us to know and what they don’t. When I learned about Pingfan, the Japanese biological warfare installation where they did horrendous experiments on POW’s and nearby villagers, I thought I’d stumbled onto something really explosive. Yet, as happened to a character in A Spark of Heavenly Fire, the very next novel I picked up used Pingfan as a setting. It got me to thinking about the nature of cover-ups, and many of the discussions in the last half of the book were actual discussions I had with a friend while I was writing the book.

Here are some responses from other authors about how their understanding of the story changes during the course of the book. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Love Notes”

I start the story, my characters finish it. Themes come to me as the book goes on, and often, when it’s totally finished. Sometimes I have to rewrite the beginning of the book, because by the time I’m done, I know the characters so well that I think they would never say or do the things they did at the beginning of the book.

From an interview with Cynthia Vespia, Author of “Sins And Virtues”

Sometimes. That makes it fun though. You expect it to go one way and instead it veers off course and takes you to an entirely new level. For me, when that happens, it feels like I’m reading it myself.

From an interview with Alan Place, Author of “Pat Canella: The Dockland Murders”

My understanding is constantly changing as the character evolve their own lives, I never try to force them to do things that I feel don’t fit.

What about you? Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Describe your writing in three words

Three words to describe my fiction writing:

colorful, character-driven, conspiratorial

Here are some responses from other authors about three words they would use to describe their writing. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Donna Galanti, Author of “A Human Element”

Haunting. Dark. Hopeful.

From an interview with Siobhán Nolan, Author of “Old Man Harry”

Silly, relatable, fanciful.

From an interview with Andrew Scorah, Author of “Homecoming Blues”

Dark, gritty, cool

What about you? How would you describe your writing in three words?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

I don’t generally give advice about book promotion since so many authors are better at selling books than I am, but if I had to, I’d tell other novelists to have patience, stamina, and willingness to give up part of their writing time for promotion. Unless a writer has the benefit of a major publisher’s publicity department, and sometimes even then, he/she will have to spend time promoting their book. It’s not enough to have a blog dedicated to self-promotion or to add thousands of friends on Facebook. You have to give people something to get something — write interesting articles, comment on articles other people write, get to know your Facebook connections. And most important of all, check out Book Marketing Floozy. http://marketingfloozy.wordpress.com It’s an indexed blog with how-to articles on every facet of promotion.

Here are some responses from other authors about advice they would give to other novelists about book promotion. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Debra Purdy Kong, Author of “The Opposite of Dark”

I’d advise writers to use patience and not expect too much right away. Promotion means engaging with others and building a rapport with potential readers. It means building a solid, longterm platform through social networking, blogging, and designing your website. It can seem daunting, but if you limit your time each day, then you won’t risk burnout. And burnout is a big factor for writers who are also actively promoting!

From an interview with Joylene Nowell Butler, Author of “Broken but not Dead”

If you’ve gone to all the trouble of writing and revising and querying, why not market? Why not spend hours blogging and visiting other blogs and establishing a connection to like-minded writers? I’m still astonished when authors tell me they don’t have time to blog and they certainly don’t have time to visit other blogs. They just want to fill your inbox with news of their book and why it’s important for you to buy it. They’re targeting the wrong people. Writers write, readers buy books. Yet how many emails do you receive in a week telling you why you should buy their book?

Promotion is about creating a presence online. But it’s also about getting out and doing readings, signing copies, writing related articles, doing online, radio and newspaper interviews, joining evening events where the opportunity to read arises. It’s about fairs, bazaars, contests, giveaways, and anything else you think will put you and your book in the public eye.

What about you? What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

How do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

RRBookThree SecretsI haven’t been juggling the promotional aspects with the actual writing. I’ve been concentrating mainly on promotion. I have a one-track mind, and for now I am focused on figuring out how to get my books to really take off. I don’t see why millions of people can’t enjoy my books (though so far, they don’t seem to agree). What writing I do falls under the category of promotion, such as blogging and keeping up with my chapters in Rubicon Ranch, the mystery serialization that several of us Second Wind authors are collaborating to write online. You can find the ongoing story here: Rubicon Ranch.

Here are some responses from other authors about how they juggle promotion and writing. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with P.I. Barrington, Author of Isadora DayStar

Promoting and writing? That’s the REAL trick of publishing today. Writing takes time, but for me at least, promotion is constant and at times overwhelming!

From an interview with Beth Groundwater, Author of “A Real Basket Case”

Promotion is something that is ongoing, and which ramps up around the time of each release (every spring and fall for the next two years, at least). I try to focus on the writing and editing I need to get done each week first, then work on promotion later in the day or later in the week after I’ve finished the writing I need to do to meet my deadlines. I have to be very organized and give myself weekly goals to stay on track..

From an interview with Dale Cozort, Author of “Exchange

I tend to do marketing in blocks of time rather than trying to do it at the same time as writing. I have writing days, editing days and marketing days. That fits my somewhat obsessive personality. I’m not sure if it’s the most effective way to get things done.

From an interview with Christine Lindsay, Author of Shadowed in Silk

The marketing and promotional aspects are awful. I love talking to people and making friends, but it’s not easy to always be talking about myself. The phrase “I must decrease in order for Him (the Lord) to increase”  is running through my head quite a bit these days as I try to do my part in the marketing of my novel. It’s not just me that it affects, so I must do my part. But I hope I never sound pushy, but that I encourage someone in everything I say or write.

What about you? How do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

My advice to aspiring authors varies depending on how cynical I am about the book business on a given day.

When I’m philosophical, I tell aspiring writers:

A book begins with a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written — one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book.

When I want to be encouraging, I tell aspiring writers:

Write your book. Rewrite it. Edit it Re edit it. Study the publishing business. Learn everything you can about good prose, story elements, promotion. With so many millions of people out there who have written a book or who want to write a book, the competition is fierce. A writer does not attain maturity as a writer until he or she has written 1,000,000 words. (I’m only halfway there.) So write. Your next book might be the one that captures people’s imaginations and catapults you into fame and fortune. Not writing another book guarantees you will never will reach that goal. It also keeps you from doing what you were meant to do.

When I’m cynical, I tell aspiring writers:

If you aspire to be a writer, write. That’s all it takes.

If you aspire to be a good writer, write — and read. Read how-to books about writing and read good books to absorb good writing.

If you aspire to be a bestselling writer, write, read — and gather luck. Less than 1% of 1% of writers ever attain that status.

Here are some responses from other authors about advice they give to aspiring writers. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Polly Iyer, Author of “Hooked”:

You’ve heard it before. Keep at it. Period.

From an interview with Sandy Nathan, Author of Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

You’ll make more money as a brain surgeon.

From an interview with S. M. Senden, author of “Clara’s Wish”

Write from a place of knowing. Bring your experiences to what you write; be willing to invest a piece of yourself in your writing so it will be real to the reader.

From an interview with Tom Rizzo, Author of “Last Stand At Bitter Creek”

Read—not only for enjoyment. Treat your reading as a study lab, taking note of how the writer lures you into the story, how characters are introduced, and what makes you like or despise them. Reading soaks the brain with ideas and possibilities. And write, of course. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just write.

What about you? What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.