After I made a comment to a friend the other day, she said, as if to herself, “Actually.” Then she smiled, not derisively, but in delight.

“Did I say “actually” too many times?” I asked. “I actually do have a tendency to overuse the word.”

She responded, “No, I like it. It’s not a word you hear that often.”

Well, if you hang around me, you will actually hear “actually” a lot. Since I actually do overuse the word, I actually have to go through my manuscripts try to edit “actually” out of my work. (See List From Hell to see what other words I tend to overuse.)

I’d actually never realized I had an actual problem until I once played back a blog radio show where I’d been interviewed. And there it was . . . actually. Actually, there were a lot of “actually”s. I don’t remember how many times I said “actually” in that half-hour segment, but enough that by the time the program ended, I was actually appalled.

The next time I was on blog radio being interviewed, I was very careful with my “actually”s. For a while, I actually tried to censor my everyday speech, but somewhere along the way I actually forgot, so now I’ve reverted to overusing the word “actually. Actually, now that I think of it, I even forgot to de-actually my last couple of finished manuscripts.

I actually don’t know why I use the word so much. It could be from my need to always set the record straight, but I don’t know for sure, actually.


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.

Why “Grief: The Great Yearning” is Important

Yesterday I was on Blog Talk Radio discussing my new non-fiction book Grief: The Great Yearning and explaining why it is important.

I’ve written four novels, all published by Second Wind Publishing, and although I thought the subject matter of each book important enough to spend a year of my life writing and another year editing (to say nothing of the years on the arduous road to publication), I have a hard time telling people the novels are important.

The basic theme of all my novels is conspiracy, focusing on the horrors ordinary citizens have been subjected to by those in power. Most people who have read the books seem to like them (though a few who didn’t like them seemed befuddled by what I was trying to accomplish). Light Bringer in particular seems to arouse a difference of opinion. Written to be the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories, Light Bringer traces the push toward a one-world government back 12,000 years. Based on myths, both modern conspiracy myths and ancient cosmology myths, Light Bringer is a thriller, or mythic fiction perhaps (if there is such a thing). I never intended it to be science fiction since the science is gleaned from ancient records rather than futuristic imaginings, but that is how it is perceived. Still, despite the scope of the book, despite it being my magnum opus and the result of twenty years of research, I can’t in all honesty say it is important to anyone except me. It probably won’t change anyone’s life or anyone’s thinking. For the most part, we bring to books what we believe, and so those who believe in conspiracies see the importance of my novels, while those who don’t have even a smattering of belief that there are machinations we are not privy to might even think them far-fetched.

On the other hand, Grief: The Great Yearning is an important book. It is composed of journal entries, blog posts, and letters to my dead life mate/soul mate, all pieces written while I was trying to deal with the unbearable tsunami of emotions, hormones, physical symptoms, psychological and spiritual torments, identity crisis and the thousand other occurrences we lump under the heading “grief.” Because of this, the emotion in Grief: The Great Yearing is immediate, the experience palpable. This is a comfort to those having to deal with a grievous loss because they can see they are not alone. (One of the side effects of grief is a horrendous feeling of isolation.) They can see that whatever they feel, others have felt, and that whatever seemingly crazy thing they do to bring themselves comfort, others have done.

This book is also important for the families of someone who has suffered a grievous loss. Too often the bereft are told to move on, get over it, perhaps because their families don’t understand what it is the survivor has to deal with. Well, now they can get a glimpse into grief and ideally, be more patient and considerate of their bereft loved ones.

This book is especially important for writers. I’ve mostly given up reading for now because of the unrealness I keep coming across in fiction. So many novels are steeped in death, with bodies piling up like cordwood, yet no one grieves. The surviving spouses think as clearly as they did before the death. They have no magical thinking, holding two disparate thoughts in their minds at once. (For example: I know he will never need his eyeglasses, but I can’t throw them away because how will he see without them?) The characters have no physical symptoms or bouts of tears that are beyond their control. There is no great yearning to see the dead once more (and this yearning is what drives our grief, not the so-called stages). In other words, we are continually conditioned to downplay the very real presence of grief in our lives. If we don’t see people grieve in real life, in movies, in books, where are we to get a blueprint for grief?

As Leesa Healy, Consultant in Emotional-Mental Health wrote, “If people were to ask me for an example of how grief can be faced in order for the healthiest outcome, I would refer them to Grief: The Great Yearning, which should be the grief process bible. Pat Bertram’s willingness to confront grief head on combined with her openness to change is the epitome of good mental health.”

So, yes, Grief the Great Yearning is important, and it was good to have a chance to talk about the book and to spread my message: It is okay to grieve. It is important to grieve. And as impossible as it is to imagine now, you will survive.

If you’d like to listen to me talk (and laugh) and discover that I really am okay despite my continued sadness and occasional upsurges of grief, you can find the show here: Talk Radio Network with Friend and Author Pat Bertram

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning

I am going to be on blog talk radio today!

I am going to be on blog talk radio today speaking to Jo-Anne Vandermeulen. Or should I say, she will be speaking to me? Either way, we will be discussing my new book, Grief: The Great Yearning, why I wrote it, and why the book is important. If time allows, we’ll also talk about how I help other writers and perhaps we might touch on more general topics, such as the future of books. (Jo-Anne wanted a list of ten topics for us to discuss. I guess she didn’t realize I could talk for hours about grief and its unwelcome role in our lives.)

The show is a half an hour, from 6:30pm ET to 7:00pm ET (3:30pm PT to 4:00pm PT). I hope you will tune in to listen, but if you can’t, well . . . blogs are forever, and blog talk is no different. The show will be available whenever you get a chance to check it out. It should be a good show. Not only is 30 minutes a manageable block of time, there will only be one guest (me!) and one host, so it should be a dynamic show. And anyway, you’ve been wanting to hear what I sound like, so here is your chance!

Link to show: Talk Radio Network with Friend and Author Pat Bertram

Guest call-in number: (347) 857-3752

I am Being Interviewed on Blog Talk Radio this Evening

The title says it all. There’s not much more to add. I am being interviewed on Blog Talk Radio this evening. Well, it will be evening if you are on the east coast since the show goes live at 7:00 pm ET, but if you are on the west coast, it will be 4:00 in the afternoon.

Possible topics are:

What kind of books do you write?

Why did you write a book about grief?

Why is your book “Grief: The Great Yearning” important?

Does your past play much of a role in your writing?

How do you help other writers?

Where can people find out more about your books?

(Thank you to everyone who helped me compile this list.)

You can find the show here: Page Turners with Hosts Meg Collins and Nancy Duci DenofioI will be on for an hour, so if you get a chance, feel free to call in. The number to call is: 1-646-595-4478. If you can’t listen to the show live, it will be archived so you can hear it any time.

Help! I Need Blog Talk Radio Topics

I’m scheduled to be interviewed on a blog radio show in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure how that happened because I never actually said I’d do it. Still, there it is. Or rather, there I will be. The problem is, they want me to send them a list of five things I would like to discuss about me and my work, and I don’t have anything in particular I’d like to say. (Seems strange, doesn’t it? It’s their show, so obviously they have some sort of agenda. I have no agenda, yet I have to supply the questions.)

So, I’m asking you: what topics should I send them? Is there anything about my books or writing you’d be interested in hearing about? Any noteworthy questions you were asked in an interview that you’d like to pass along? Any questions about books or writing that haven’t been asked ad nauseum? Anything?

I Asked and You Answered. Thank you!

A couple of days ago I posted a plea for interview questions to submit for my Blog Radio interview on Thursday at 12:30 pm CT, and you generously came up with some wonderful suggestions. I don’t know how closely the moderator, April Robins, will follow the list, but it should give us a great starting place. Thank you all very much!

Here are the questions I submitted:

You are the moderator or co-moderator of four successful Facebook groups. How did you get started, and how did you end up with four groups? What’s the secret to your success with the groups?

How much time and organization does it take to be active in online communities?

Is your Suspense/Thriller writers’ group only for suspense/thriller writers?

Does it make sense to join a FB group, like the ones you host, if the writer writes for the YA audience?

How do you balance your time between writing, blogging, promoting, moderating 4 groups, and other day-to-day responsibilities? Do you have a written schedule or “to-do list”? How do you keep up with it all?

You have three books published. What’s next?

What is the most common question you are asked by fans or would-be writers?

What are your writing goals for 2010?

Which of your books was the hardest to write/most research intensive? What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever faced?

How did you decide your genre?

Please stop by April Robins’ Blog Radio show Red River Writers Live — Savvy Designs on Thursday, January 7 at 12:30 pm CST to hear my responses. You can also call in with additional questions. The call in number is (646) 595-4478. Hope to hear you there!

Blog Talk Two

I just finished being interviewed on blog talk radio, and all things considered, it went okay. Well,  there was that part where my mind went blank and I couldn’t think of a single disease mentioned in A Spark of Heavenly Fire, couldn’t think of a single biological warfare experiment that I researched. Sheesh. I spent years on the research. You’d think at least some of it would have come easily to mind. I did manage to mention a  connection between swine flu and the novel, but still . . . it would have been nice to sound as knowledgable as I am about the horrors of biological warfare and human experimentation. And I talked about the Hanta River in North Korea, when it’s in South Korea.  In the end, though, it doesn’t matter. The story isn’t about disease, though I kill off hundreds of thousands of Colorado residents with the flu-like epidemic I created. The disease, the deaths, the quarantine are all simply the setting for the story of how insomniac Kate Cummings came alive when all around her people were dying.

What does matter is that I didn’t give the right website address for my publisher, Second Wind Publishing. Aaaarrrggghhhh! You can find them at Just goes to show that you can’t take anything for granted. Make sure you have website addresses and other pertinent information right in front of you. Don’t rely on your memory!

I had fun, though. I’d met one of the hosts, Steven Clark Bradley, author of Patriot Acts, through Facebook. We’ve had a few interesting email conversations, he’s participated in some of my discussions, and he did a wonderful review of More Deaths Than One. During the blog talk show he mentioned that he stayed up late one night to read my book –Oh, how I enjoy keeping men up late at night! What power!

We talked about how I got the ideas for my books, talked about the characters, and I got in a plug for my novel, Daughter Am I, which will be published next month. All good stuff. The best thing about Blog Talk Radio is that, like all blogs, it’s forever. So stop by whenever you can. I’ll be there.

Blog Talk Two (Today’s interview): Back Story — The Behind the Scenes Look at Writing a Novel

Blog Talk One (My first interview): Talk to Me: Conversations With Creative, Unconventional People

Steven Clark Bradley’s review: More Deaths Than One

More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire are available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

You can also download the first 30% free at Smashwords

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Call In and Talk to Me! I’m On Blogtalk Radio

On June 16, 2009 I’m going to be interviewed on Rita Schiano’s blogtalk radio show: Talk To Me…Conversations With Creative, Unconventional People. I would love to have you call in with a question. After all, it’s only fair — you get to hear my voice, so I should get to hear yours.

The call-in number is (347) 327-9158

The show is being aired (is blogtalk aired?) at 8:30pm ET at

This is a permanent link, so if you can’t make it during the broadcast, you can listen to me any time. I’ll try to say something worth listening to, but since this is my first live interview, who knows what will happen!

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