Be Sure to Bookmark Malcolm’s Book Bits Blog

Malcolm Campbell is one of the most intelligent people I have met online, one of the most prolific reader/reviewers, absolutely one of the best novelists (Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, The Sun Singer, Sarabande) and one of the all time great bloggers.

To add to his already remarkable list of blogs (Sun Singer’s Travels, Malcolm’s Round Table, Sarabande’s Journey, Morning Satirical News, and probably several I’ve forgotten) he’s now added Malcolm’s Book Bits and  Notions, where he collects and posts links to articles you would read if you knew they were out there to read.

He lists contests such as WOW! Women On Writing Fall 2011 Flash Fiction Contest, entry fee $10, deadline Nov 30 2011, first place prize $350, 250 to 750 words, number of entries is limited to 300.

He lists feature articles, such as Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal – “Amazon.com has taught readers that they do not need bookstores. Now it is encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers.”

He makes note of reviews, such as Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss, reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth

He gives us something to think of with viewpoints such as Privacy Policy, On the public commodification of privacy by Stefany Anne Golberg

Why isn’t everyone bookmarking this site or following it? It’s one of the best book bits blogs out there. And of course, why wouldn’t it be? Malcolm Campbell runs the blog.

(Can you tell I’m a fan? You should be, too.)

Tomorrow is Blog Jog Day!

Blog Jog is a trot around the blogosphere, each blog linked to the next so that you can explore new blogs with a simple click on the link to the next blog. Many participants will be offering giveaways and contests, and so will I. Anyone who leaves a comment on my Blog Jog post tomorrow, August 7, 2011 will be entered into a contest to win a free download of one of my novels, including my latest, Light Bringer.

Light Bringer tells the story of  Becka Johnson, who had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

Malcolm Campbell, author of  Garden of Heaven,  Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,  The Sun Singer, and  Worst of Jock Stewart had this to say about the novel: Light Bringer is TYPICAL BERTRAM: plots within plots, multiple characters with multiple agendas, fast moving, more than enough mystery and intrigue for everyone, satisfying conclusion.

Author Aaron Lazar has this to say: I’m already a fan of Pat Bertram’s books. I’ve read them all and loved them deeply. But LIGHT BRINGER was something completely new and surprising… surprising in its freshness, originality, its genre bending brilliance. Part thriller, part fantasy, part sci fi, part mystery…its plots were large and complex, encompassing themes that plague us every day; offering social and world commentary blended with weather trend observations (where ARE all those tornadoes and tsunamis coming from??) I do believe Bertram has defined a new genre, and it is a pure delight. Fresh. Original. Riveting. The characters are real and engaging. I particularly enjoyed the bit of romance between Luke and Jane – yes, another subplot. I couldn’t put it down and extend my highest compliments to Ms. Bertram for her supremely smooth writing – there are no hiccups in this book. Very highly recommended.

So stop by tomorrow, leave a comment on my Blog Jog Day blog, and you might win an ecopy of one of my books, including Light Bringer.

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Click here to download the first 20% of Light Bringer free at: Smashwords

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer

Searching for a Genre

I had a book I wanted to write, so I wrote it, following the dictates of the story without regard to the conventions of genre. Now that book — Light Bringer — is close to publication, and I have a problem. How do I sell it?

I received several rejection letters from publishers and editors over the years saying they liked Light Bringer, that the story was unique and well-written but they’d have to pass because they didn’t know how to sell it. My reaction each time was, “What????” I mean, it’s a book — you put it on the shelf in a bookstore and wait for people to buy it, right? Not quite.

Genre is how we classify books, but more than that, it’s about reader expectations. For example, a thriller is a wild ride with a hero and a villain in mortal combat. Readers expect the story to be exciting, the conflict to involve high stakes, the suspense to be cutting. Generally, the story is told from both points of view — the hero and the villain. Light Bringer is suspenseful, does involve high stakes —  the fate of the Earth — and it does have a villain and a hero, but (here is the crux of the matter) which character is the hero, and which is the villain? Besides, as those publishers and editors told me, the book has too many science fiction elements to be sold as a thriller. They also said it doesn’t have enough science fiction elements to be sold as science fiction. Since they didn’t know how to classify the book, they didn’t know how to sell it.

Now that Light Bringer is about to be released by Second Wind Publishing, I need to figure out who will be most interested in reading the book. Readers are quick to penalize writers for failing to live up to genre conventions, and Light Bringer has no clear genre. It’s too contemporary for science fiction, too outrageous for mainstream, too straightforward for a literary novel, too philosophical for action/adventure, too mythic for an historical, too mundane for fantasy, too scientific for magical realism, too western for urban fantasy, too . . . well, you get the point.

In truth, Light Bringer is  more “myth fiction” than science fiction. Instead of basing the story on science (though there is much that is scientific in the book), I based it on myths: ancient myths, modern conspiracy myths, UFO myths, flood myths, historical myths, pyramid myths. The story is the culmination of a lifetime of research, and in following the research wherever it led, I ended up the premise of Light Bringer. Perhaps I discovered some long-hidden truth. Perhaps I created a separate truth. Perhaps I conjured a fantasy.

Whatever it is, Light Bringer deserves a chance. Suzanne Francis, author of The Heart of Hythea called it brilliant. Malcolm Campbell, author of The Sun Singer said “Light Bringer is TYPICAL BERTRAM: plots within plots, multiple characters with multiple agendas, fast moving, more than enough mystery and intrigue for everyone, satisfying conclusion. Great book.”

So now comes the hard part — finding readers.

If you’re interested in taking a peek at Light Bringer, you can find the beginning of the story here.

Tomorrow is Blog Jog Day!

Blog Jog is a trot around the blogosphere, each blog linked to the next so that you can explore new blogs with a simple click on the link to the next blog. Many participants will be offering giveaways and contests, and so will I. Or rather, my publisher will. Anyone who leaves a comment on my Blog Jog post tomorrow will be entered into a contest to win a copy of every title Second Wind Publishing releases in 2011, which will include my book Light Bringer, scheduled to be published in the spring of 2011. So be sure to stop by tomorrow and leave a comment!

Malcolm Campbell, author of  Garden of Heaven,  Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,  The Sun Singer, and  Worst of Jock Stewart had this to say about my upcoming book: Light Bringer is TYPICAL BERTRAM: plots within plots, multiple characters with multiple agendas, fast moving, more than enough mystery and intrigue for everyone, satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed Light Bringer and feel privileged seeing a pre-publication copy.

Light Bringer tells the story of  Becka Johnson, who had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

Pat Bertram, Gangsters, and ‘Daughter Am I’

Day Two of my Virtual Book Tour, and I am still going strong. This is like saying: I’ve just run the second block of a marathon and am still going strong. Most of the tour is still ahead of me, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens, to meeting new people, and visiting new blogs.

Today I am at Malcolm’s Round Table for a discussion of gangsters and Daughter Am I. I’d hoped to include more of Malcolm’s book, Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, in the discussion, but he was kind enough to focus the talk around me and my gangsters. And do I have gangsters! My hero, Mary Stuart finds her grandfather’s little black address book in a secret room of the farmhouse she inherited from him, and she goes on a whirlwind tour of Colorado, Arizona, and on into the midwest searching out the people who knew him. Though in their eighties, none of them are what you would call upstanding citizens, though they are all loveable in their own way. Even Iron Sam, aka Butcher Boy, seemed less lethal than I intended him to be. Of course, he is dying, so he is more concerned with his own death than others’.

See, I’m doing it, too — focusing on my book. So, let’s focus on Malcolm’s novel for a moment. If you are a fan of humorous mysteries with outrageous (though incredibly realistic) characters, you will love Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire by Malcolm R. Campbell. I’m on my second read through. The first time was for the story. This time it’s for Malcolm’s wordsmithery.

So, please join me at Malcolm’s Round Table for a discussion about: Pat Bertram, Gangsters, and Daughter Am I.

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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Research: When Good Books Go Bad

Many good books go bad when the authors refuse to let go of any of their hard-won research and so dump it all in the novel, making the story drag. I have a tendency to put in a lot of information — though I don’t use all my research, not even most of it. In A Spark of Heavenly Fire, I talk (or rather my characters do) about biological weapons, biowarfare, bioengineered organisms because I thought the reality was more frightening than my fiction. For example, The World Health Organization spent years and a heap of money to eradicate smallpox, yet smallpox in ever more virulent forms is stockpiled in labs all around the world. Spooks the heck out of me!

But I digress. Daughter Am I, which will be released in October, was conceived as a way to combine two of my interests at that time — early gangster history and the mythic journey. (You might not recognize the similarity between Daughter Am I and Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz, but all three are based on the same mythic journey template.) In 2007, I entered the book into the first ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) contest, and my prize for being a semi-finalist was a review from Publishers Weekly. After giving a summary of the plot, the reviewer ended with:

While the author certainly researched the history of the Mafia, too many of the numerous historical asides — and subplots — are tacked on under the guise of story time, making the story drag with detail abut Wyatt Earp, the JFK assassination and bootleggers. But underneath the relentless bouts of story time is a delightful treasure-hunting tale of finding one’s self in a most unlikely way.

Too many historical asides? Eek! That was the whole point of the book! I tightened up the story, got rid of the asides that didn’t go directly to character or plot, but still felt a bit uncomfortable with the situation. When I mentioned my concern about the “info dumps” to fellow author Malcolm Campbell, he responded:

Your book is wonderful. Looking into one’s past is powerful stuff, but getting tangled up with a lot of lovable scam artists is a really fresh approach. Your wonderful characterizations—that’s another thing for discussion. It’s a challenge having lots of characters while keeping them from all sounding like oneself.

The “info dumps” as you call them add a lot of depth to the book and are informative and entertaining in their own right. They support the character telling the story. But also, they provided periods of “calm” in what is a frenetic quest that zooms from one unexpected thing to another without pause. We’ve seen “these gangsters” in dozens of movies, and for me, the archetypes are those of the 1940s films my generation grew up on—and that’s appropriate since these guys are elders. They’re a much different breed of cat than we see on modern, street-wise TV shows like, say, DARK BLUE which takes us undercover right into the worst of today’s gangs and thugs.

Whew!

(The first chapters of my books are included in the mystery sampler available as a free download from Second Wind Publishing. Click here: Free Downloads.)

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My Wonderful Surprise!

Among the people coming to my blog for sex with sister tips (it’s up to about 60 a day now) are those who actually pay attention to what I write. I’ve often said I blog for myself, using this space to try to get in contact with the creative within me. Whenever I am stumped at something, whether the direction of my current WIP or my struggles to learn how to become a selling and excelling writer, I come here and let the words flow. Except for that ultimate puzzler — how to promote effectively without annoying everyone to the point that said promotion becomes ineffective — I usually manage to find a way out of my difficulty. That I’ve managed to attract readers is a bonus. That they (you) actually like what I say or how I say it is beyond my ability to describe.

Today I had a wonderful surprise. Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness, nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award. She said: You have only to look at Pat’s blog to realize she’s an inspiration to the world of writers. Pat questions everything. Her wide-eyed enthusiasm and her deep desire to understand the world of the real and unreal has fascinated me from day one. I think she’s covered every aspect of writing there is, only to stop by and see she’s discussing yet another subject that would have never occurred to me. Pat loves writing. Her quest to become the best possible writer she can be is contagious. She loves books. She loves authors. She’s brave, determined and the way she strings words together to form sentences is amazing. Here’s to you, Pat Bertram for venturing into the sometimes scary, but always creative world of creative fiction.

Thank you, Joylene. I appreciate all the comments you have left here on Bertram’s Blog. I also wish you every success — you are my role model.

Passing on the torch, I nominate . . .

James Rafferty has a great blog that ranges from fabulous photos of his travels to informative essays about OneNote
Malcolm Campbell combines a wonderful and poetic way of using words with intelligence and practicality.
Second Wind Publishing — this might be a bit of a cheat since I’m one of the contributors, but when you combine two dozen different authors all with different outlooks and experiences, you end up with a great blog.

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