Sample Sunday

If you’ve been wanting to check out my books, now is your chance to read the first chapter of each novel online. Who knows, you might get so intrigued you will want to buy one of the  book to take with you to the beach this summer or read on an airplane. (Or, for my friends in the southern hemisphere, you might decide one is the perfect companion to read by the fire on a chilly winter’s eve.) I hope you will enjoy sampling a “Pat Bertram” book.

More Deaths Than OneBob 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?

Click here to read the first chapter: More Deaths Than One

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A Spark of Heavenly FireIn 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?

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

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DAIWhen 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.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Daughter Am I

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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? And what do they have to do with a secret underground laboratory?

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer

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Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

My Favorite of the Books I Have Written

A friend asked me if I had a favorite of the books I have written. The truth is, each is a favorite in it’s own way.

More Deaths Than OneMore Deaths Than One is my favorite because of all the rewrites. I rewrote it four different times, each time making it better, and so I learned to rewrite and to edit. I also liked the ironies that showed up in the book.

Click here to read the first chapter: More Deaths Than One

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A Spark of Heavenly FireA Spark of Heavenly Fire is my favorite, because halfway through I realized I’d learned how to write, and because it is a solid, classic story of life and love in impossible times.

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

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DAIDaughter Am I is my favorite because of the fun we (my mate and I) had coming up with the great characters, and because it was the fulfillment of a desire to write a “hero’s journey” story.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Daughter Am I

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Light Bringer is my favorite because it’s the culmination of a lifetime of research, combining modern and ancient myths into a plausible whole, and because some of the descriptions were stunningly beautiful.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer

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Grief: The Great Yearning is my favorite because writing it helped me get through the worst year of my life, and because unwittingly, it turned out to be the story I always wanted to write, the story of a love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with wisdom and sensitivity.

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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+

Sample Sunday

If you’ve been wanting to check out my books, now is your chance to read the first chapter of each novel online.

More Deaths Than OneBob 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?

Click here to read the first chapter: More Deaths Than One

***

A Spark of Heavenly FireIn 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?

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

***

DAIWhen 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.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Daughter Am I

***

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?

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

On Writing: Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

There are no bad drivers on the road. All drivers consider themselves to be good drivers, because whatever skill they possess — fast driving, adhering to all traffic rules, weaving in and out of traffic — that is their measure of a good driver. Writing is the same. We use our own skills to determine what is or is not good writing, hence we are all good writers. But some skills supersede opinion: the basic elements of story telling, for example.

The granddaddy of all story elements is conflict. Without conflict you have a story statement, you have a description, you have meaningless dialogue. What you don’t have is a story.

Because of the contests I have been involved with, I have been privileged to read the first chapters of many books by new authors. I’m sorry to say that most of them couldn’t hold my interest. Perhaps reading a chapter or two is not a fair way to test a book, but it is the only way. As readers, we need a book to capture our interest at the beginning then give us a stake in the story and its outcome so that we continue reading. Otherwise, we put the book aside and forget to come back to it.

Most of the new writers offered rebuttals, trying to prove me wrong. To them, their first chapter was important: it set the scene, it introduced the characters, it gave vital information. Perhaps that is all true, but to me, as a reader, the chapter was meaningless. I didn’t know the characters, didn’t care about them, developed no interest in them because there was no conflict. Unless characters want or need something, have something they care about, we don’t care. And if the characters get what they want or need without working for it, we don’t care, either.

Even if your first chapter has no other purpose than to set up the story or to introduce characters, it still must have conflict. According to Donald Maass, agent and author of Writing the Breakout Novel, there should be some conflict on every page. Sometimes authors use arguments between characters to show that conflict, but unless the argument changes the character in some way, no matter how small, the argument comes across as verbiage. If the argument is important to the book, then make it important by tying it to the characters needs and wants or move it to a less crucial part of the book.

One author described a story as getting a character up a tree, throwing rocks at it, then getting it down.

So do yourself and us readers a favor. Get your character up in that tree in the first chapter and throw a rock at it. Then we’ll read further to find out what happens next. That’s all we want. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.

Lack of good driving leads to road rage. Lack of good writing leads to reader apathy. Both conditions are dangerous.