Interview: Talking about Grief and Being an Author

What inspired you to write Grief: The Inside Story — A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One?

When Jeff, my life mate/soul mate died, I was completely unprepared for the depth and breadth of my grief. I had never felt such pain, pain that escalated by the minute. I never even knew such pain existed. How could I? I’d grieved the deaths of my mother and my younger brother, but what I felt after Jeff died in no way resembled those earlier bouts of grief.

I started writing about grief not only to make sense of my own feelings but also as a rebellion against a society that reveres happiness at all costs. There is something dreadfully wrong with a society that expects the bereft to hide their grief after a couple of months simply because it makes people uncomfortable to see outward shows of mourning. Seeing grief makes people realize how ephemeral their lives really are, and they can’t handle it (which leaves the bereft, who already feel isolated, totally alone with their sorrow.) It also cracks the façade of our relentlessly glass-half-full society.

People who are grieving often find comfort in the truth about grief and how long it takes because it matches what they feel and it makes them feel not so alone. And so, after years of dealing with my own grief and that of my widowed blog readers, I wrote the book “Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One” to help explain the grief process both to grievers and those who want to understand what their grieving friends are going through.

The earliest incidents you recall from your life where you first felt you had a writer in you?

I loved books from the moment I learned to read, and I often wrote stories and poems, so I always thought I would be a writer. When I quit a job in my early twenties to start my first book. . . [Click here: to read the entire interview]

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 — — 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:

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!


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.

If You Didn’t Get a Chance to Listen to My Radio Interview . . .

Several people have mentioned that they didn’t get a chance to listen to my radio interview on Sunday — it really is hard for anyone (even me!!) to compete with the Academy Awards. If you are one of these people who didn’t get to listen, perhaps didn’t want to listen and are simply using the Oscars as an excuse so you wouldn’t have to hear to me yammer on and on, you’re not off the hook. The interview is posted online for all of eternity (or as eternal as the internet).

I hope you listen to the interview, “The Authentic Woman – with Host Shannon Fisher and Special Guest Pat Bertram.” I am at my charming best, scintillating, even, with flashes of wisdom. (Just don’t count how many times I say “actually.” Eek.) In fact, I’m listening to the podcast now — I wanted to make sure it isn’t an embarrassment. And it isn’t. Actually (there’s that word!) it’s quite compelling.

Part of the reason for it being such a compelling interview is the host. Shannon Fisher was easy to talk to, asked the perfect questions to get me to open up. We started with a discussion about my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire, segued into a discussion of writing, which of course, turned into a mention of Grief: The Great Yearning, and a brief discourse of the grieving process. And continued to talk about life, vulnerability, possibilities.

And part of the reason for the compelling interview is that I didn’t treat it as an interview. We were simply two friends talking. The only glitch showed up at the very, very end. Apparently, the show didn’t click off when it was supposed to, but other than that, we did great for a premiere.

Feel free to listen in to this intimate conversation.

You can find me here:–with-host-shannon-fisher-and-special-guest-pat-bertram (Or click on the photo below.)



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.

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.

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!

Reviewing Interviews

I made it through the first week of my blog tour!! I’m getting to the hard part, though. I have several interviews coming up, and it’s challenging keep from making identical responses to identical questions. There really is only one story behind the writing of Daughter Am I —  I wanted to use the true tales of the Syndicate an historian friend used to tell me, and I wanted to do a mythic journey, so I combined the two ideas into the book —  but I don’t want to bore people bycontinually talking about that not so very interesting inception. So, I wait until very late at night when my defenses are down, and I write what ever comes to mind.

Yes, I know — I keep talking about how words don’t come easy to me, but that’s only when it comes to fiction. When it comes to late night stream of consciousness, well, the words do come. I just hope they are worth reading. I guess we’ll find out. My first interview is today with Shelagh Watkins. Click here to find it.

I must have used up all my words last night for the interview. I’ve been sitting here for the past ten minutes trying to think of something witty to say, or perhaps pithy, but my mind is a total blank. Not good. I have a live chat in a couple of hours on Reviewers Roundup to talk about blog tours, and I need at least a few words for that. Maybe I’ll go take a walk. See if I can find a few words among the fallen leaves.

DAIClick here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Amazon.

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Conversation With Marshall Karp, Author of Flipping Out

Marshall Karp, the author of Flipping Out, is an award winning former advertising executive, a playwright, a screenwriter, and a novelist. He has also written, produced, and executive produced TV shows for all the major networks.  

Bertram: I enjoyed reading Flipping Out. I must admit, you do know how to turn a phrase. You have a marvelous ear for dialogue, and a knack for one-liners. One, especially, sticks out as being memorable. The cops, Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs, are ready to enter a house owned by a murdered celebrity. Terry looks up at the towering stucco columns and says, “Rather phallic. I think they’re art dicko.”

Marshall: Thank you for the kind words about my ear. That would be the left one. The right one is even more amazing. It can actually hear a tree falling in the forest even if I’m not there. Funny thing about art dicko. In my first draft, as they’re about to bust through the door, I wrote something that my editor felt was too close to what Terry had said the first time he saw that house. She told me to come up with something better. Who knew it would turn out to be one of the more memorable lines in the book. I just don’t want it on my tombstone. Marshall Karp, that guy who wrote art dicko.

Bertram: Is there anything in particular you’d like me to say my review of Flipping Out? Any particular passage you’re particularly proud of?

Marshall: Gosh, blurbers have asked me that, but never a reviewer. For sure, don’t mention art dicko. I wouldn’t want Terry’s lapse into sophomoric humor to define me. In fact, few lines from books do justice to the entire book, although an advance reviewer on Amazon picked up an exchange between Terry and Marilyn that tickled me.

My favorite reviews are those that capture what I hope to do best. My goal is to develop characters you just want to be with over and over again. Some authors have had success with worn down, burned out cynical cops, but I wanted real people. I hang out with real cops, and they are incredibly funny – in that business they have to be – it keeps them sane. So I made Mike and Terry human before I made them cops.

I write for people who want three-dimensional characters, real laugh-out-loud humor that is organic to the situation, and plot twists right up to the final pages. And while I make no guarantees, I’d say that a steady diet of my books can also help you lose weight, double your income, and improve your sex life.

I hope that helps.

Bertram: I’m going to use the last paragraph to finish of my review, if you don’t mind. It’s a great quote.

I am so sick of the stereotypical cynical, burned out cop that it’s refreshing to meet some fictional ones who aren’t.

Marshall: I’ve been reading some of your 100 word stories. They’re terrific. How do you do it? It’s an art form (literary form?) I had never heard of before. I was talking to JA Konrath today and saying that I’m not sure I know how to write a short story. I used to write 30-second commercials, but now I’m stuck in the long form. Plus once you wind me up, I tend to get going. That’s probably why my first book was 632 pages.

Bertram: I can’t write regular short stories, maybe because I don’t like to read them, but for some reason I can do the 100-word ones. They are called drabbles, and stemmed from sci-fi conventions where they developed from a novel writing contest.

With a drabble, you have to find the essence — which is why there are so few stories on my Mini Fiction blog. It’s hard to do. And then you have to have a beginning, a middle, an end and a change in the life of a character.

I think of it as a prose haiku.

Marshall: Well, you got me with prose haiku. Here’s an exercise I did at a conference. I don’t know if it fits the drabble parameters — the challenge was slightly different — but it’s only 95 words. So humor me, and tell me if you think it does.

When you work homicide in Southern California you see your fair share of dead celebrities, but this… this is the first one that ever really got to me.

There were deep ligature marks on his white skin, and his once perfect body had been gracelessly dragged to the side of his private pool and left to be further ravaged by an unwilling accomplice 93 million miles away.

“Who,” I sputtered, as the hot Pacific breeze greeted me with the aroma of my first morning cup of death, “who the hell would want to murder Shamu?”

Bertram: It is an excellent blurb that caught my attention, but it’s more of a scenario than a story.

We don’t know who Shamu is, so the last sentence isn’t much of a punch line. And drabbles seem to need a punch line at the end.

Marshall: Shamu is a pretty famous whale. You’re forgiven for not knowing. Damn those pop culture references. They don’t always work.

Bertram: Then I stand corrected. Your story works for a drabble. In fact, it’s very good. But use those extra five words to show that it’s a whale for us ignorant people. Thank you for talking to me. It’s been a pleasure.

Marshall: And thank you for helping support my life of crime.

See also:
Titles: What Makes a Good One by Marshall Karp
Review of Flipping Out review by Pat Bertram
How to Do a Blog Tour by Marshall Karp

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