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. 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.

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.

What Would You Like to Ask a Bookstore Owner?

In an effort to combat a certain online megastore from taking total control of the book world, I am going to initiate a program to interview book store owners and give them a bit of exposure on my Pat Bertram Introduces . . . blog,  To do this, I will need questions to pose. Obviously, I will need to ask where their store is located, hours, directions so people can find them. I’ll also need to ask what sort of books they carry and if they special order.

Basic information like that gets boring after a while, so I need some exciting or at least fresh and interesting questions to ask.

For example:

askingWhat book do you wish would sell better?

What little-known book would you like to see make it big?

What is your reading preference?

As you can see, I am having a hard time coming up with interesting questions. If you were going to interview a book store owner, what would you ask? (Ask as a reader, I mean. I know what you’d like to ask as an author!) If you were reading such an interview, what would you like to know? If you are a book store owner, what would you like someone to ask?

Thank you for your help!


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.

Does One Have to be a Coffee Drinker to be a Writer?

I do author interviews on my Pat Bertram Introduces . . . blog, I have a constant feed of authors’ status updates in my Facebook feed, and I participate in several online discussion groups for writers. And always, one word seems to come to the fore: coffee. Coffee seems to be part of the writing ritual, and many authors claim to find inspiration in a cup of coffee. Hmmm. I don’t drink coffee. Am I missing a vital part of the writing process?

Here are some responses to the question of what writers drink while writing. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with: J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop and One Hot January

My morning sessions start with a pot of coffee and a trip to my humidor to select a cigar.

From an interview with: Coco Ihle, author of She Had to Know

I have a wonderful 16 oz. thermos mug that keeps my coffee hot, so I don’t have to get up so often for a refill. My right hand seems to be permanently crooked into the mug holding position.

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

Coffee and Diet Coke are my working poisons. If I could get them both via an IV drip I would, lol!

From an interview with: John Paul Allen, Author of “Monkey Love”

Lots of coffee — two or three pots are a must.

From an interview with: Millicent Borges Accardi, Author of Injuring Eternity

I typically drink Peet’s coffee when I am writing or at my computer.

From an interview with: T. C. Isbell, Author of “Southern Cross”

Coffee, I drink vast mounts of coffee while I work.

From an interview with: Dr. Dorothy McCoy, Author of “The Manipulative Man”

I fix a cup of superb, fresh ground coffee (one should not skimp on coffee).

From an interview with: Jetta Stone, Author of “Silver Moon”

Chocolate and a cup of steaming strong brewed coffee.

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

Coffee. Is there any other?

From an interview with: Steven Hart, Author of “We All Fall Down”

Coffee. Oh yes — coffee.

See what I mean? Coffee. What about you? Do you have a favorite beverage that you drink while writing?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire and follow the instruction.)


Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy 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+

As a Reader, What Would You Like to Ask a Publisher?

My interview blog Pat Bertram Introduces . . . is really taking off. I post author interviews and character interviews, and someone suggested I post publisher interviews, too. Sounds like an interesting idea, especially since I’d like to do more to support small independent royalty-paying presses that publish books by a variety of authors. (Like Second Wind Publishing, the company that publishes my books.)

Before I can do the interviews, I have to compile a list of questions such as my author questionnaire or my character questionnaire. Some of the author questions might be applicable, but I’m more interested in getting behind the scenes of the publishing companies to help readers learn more about small presses. And I don’t want to ask writer-oriented questions such as submission policies and what royalties they pay because I’m trying to steer readers their way.

So, as a reader, what would you like to ask a publisher? What genres they publish, of course, and the criteria they use to choose the books they decide to publish. How they decided to become a publisher might be a good question. What else?

[If you are a publisher who would like to be interviewed, please leave your name as a comment/reply. If you are an author who would like to do an interview for me or have your character do an interview with me, please go to either the  author questionnaire or character questionnaire (or both!) and follow the directions.]

More Blogs Than One

A year ago when I was waiting for my books to be published, I kept myself occupied with setting up a variety of blogs. I told myself I wanted to test blogging platforms so I could help my fellow authors pick the best one for their needs, but that wasn’t my excuse for setting up a bunch of WordPress blogs since I was already familiar with the site. The truth is, I became enamored with the custom colorizer, and ended up with five blogs, identical except for color.

The blue blog, this one — Bertram’s Blog — chronicles my struggles first to become a published writer and now to become a published selling writer. It was my original blog, and the one I still consider my blogging home.

The red blog, Pat Bertram Introduces, was intended to be an authors’ blog, where I introduced the writers I was coming to know via networking sites. When so many of them ignored my invitation to be a guest, I decided to turn it into a blog for interviewing my characters. (I’d forgotten that until just now. Never did introduce them!) To get the blog going, since at the time it was too soon to introduce my characters, I decided to introduce other writers’ characters. If you’d like me to introduce your character or characters, you can find the instructions on the Character Questionnaire page. At the very least, it’s a good way for you to get to know your own characters.

The purple blog, Book Marketing Floozy, was intended to be a blog to promote my books. I was talking (online, of course — that seems to be where my life is lived nowadays) to a fellow author about promotion, and she cautioned me against signing up for too many social networking sites. She said that I ran the risk of becoming a marketing floozy, just popping in to peddle my books, and then disappearing again. Since I’ve never been one to take advice, I signed up for several sites (though in the end, I did more or less take her advice — I spend most of my time on Facebook, Goodreads, and Gather.) And I started the Book Marketing Floozy blog — I decided that if I was going to be a book marketing floozy, then I should flaunt my flooziness. Again, since it was too early to start promoting my books, I started collecting articles about book marketing and promotion by different authors. The site is now indexed for easy reference, but there is no article about my books, though I did mention them in passing in one of the articles I wrote. Too bad. I did like the idea of being a book marketing floozy.

The yellow/orange blog, Dragon My Feet, was an import from Live Spaces. I set up a blog there using a gorgeous dragon template, and since I mostly talked about how I was procrastinating, I called it . . . You get the idea. So now I have a blog name that, while cute, really makes no sense. And the blog itself makes no sense. It’s become a dumping ground for any article that doesn’t fit with another of my blogs. I have guest articles that are too self-promotiony for Bertram’s Blog. I have a few of my attempts at reviewing books. I have photo essays. Checking out the blog just now, I notice that thirteen of the past fourteen posts are related to books in some way. Perhaps I should turn it into a book blog? But that would be work — finding guests, reading books and writing reviews — and I am inherently averse to work.

The green blog, Wayword Wind, is a poor, loveless thing that sits there getting greener by the moment because of all the moss it’s gathering. I have not posted a single bloggery because I have never quite figured out what to do with it. I planned to post articles about the various themes and research in my novels, but alas, I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t already in the books. I should have talked about the swine flu and how it tied into A Spark of Heavenly Fire, but I didn’t. I could talk about the twelfth planet and the various conspiracy theories I mention in my upcoming book Light Bringer, but I won’t. Been there. Done that. At one time I thought of posting quotes and then giving a commentary, but I really don’t have much to say on any subject except writing. I discovered this recently when I started yet another blog simply because I like the WordPress theme. (Do you see a pattern here?) I call it The Mind of Pat Bertram, but since I seldom post to it, you can see how little is actually on my mind. Then I thought of turning Wayword Wind into a blog for posting my progress with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program, but since I haven’t actually been doing the program, it fits more with Dragon My Feet. Because of the way I spelled wayword, it seems the blog should be about writing, but I already have a blog about writing.

So, here’s my conundrum. It’s not as crucial as the one that haunts me about how to promote my books, but it is a niggling one. I have a blank blog!!!!! What do I do with it?

(The title of this article was once used in reference to me by Lisa Brackmann, author of the soon-to-be-released Rock Paper Tiger.)

add to : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

From Conception to Birth: One Book’s Journey to Publication

Today’s guest blogger is Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul , available from Amazon and Second Wind Publishing. We are exchanging blogs, so I will be at Margay’s Blog. Margay writes:

Ah, the first blush of romance. The first time you see the idea, sitting there in the corner of your mind, trying to get your attention in that inconspicuous manner these ideas sometimes adopt. You look away, convinced that there is no way this idea could possibly go anywhere. It’s just a fluke, a fling. Surely, you’ll forget it by morning. But when you look back, the idea is still there, sitting in the corner, flirting with you. So what’s a harmless little flirtation? You approach the idea cautiously, in a manner you hope is suave and sophisticated, but as you get closer, your excitement rises. Your heart begins to race. You lick your lips in anticipation. It’s even more exciting up close. So you flirt with it, spend the night with it, take it home with you. In the morning, you’re surprised that it’s still with you. After two months, you begin to believe this idea has a future. So you cultivate it, give up sleep for it, nurture it as it grows within you. Soon, what began as a nugget of an idea in your mind blossoms into a full-blown creature. It grows within you, like a fetus in a womb, becoming bigger by the month, more substantial. You can almost feel it move within you; you carry it everywhere, wherever you go, it’s there with you. All of your energy is devoted to it.

After a suitable gestation period, your little nugget of an idea, which you have affectionately begun to call “the book” while you search for the right title, is ready to make its appearance. Your months of labor are about to pay off as you prepare to deliver your book into the capable hands of the publisher who will introduce it to the world. But wait, his assistant has to help you clean it up a bit first and you are struck by the niggling thought, What if my baby’s ugly? What if I put this out there and no one likes it? But with the reassurances of your publisher, you clean the book up and send it back, maybe with a prayer or two, and you wait. Now it’s time for your baby to prove its worth.

As you can tell from my whimsical tale above, writing and publishing, to me, often mimic conception and birth. The stages of both are remarkably similar. There is the courtship period when you are first introduced to the idea that will one day take over your life. Followed by the get-to-know you period during which you decide whether or not the idea has longevity and you want to commit to it. Once you make that commitment, there is the gestation period – I think you can guess what happens here. The idea grows and grows, taking on a life of its own, convincing you that you are mad, suffering from a hormonal imbalance, or both. But in the end, it’s worth it because you deliver a rollicking, three hundred page epic that someone is bound to love – and not because they’re related to you.

So I guess you could say that Nora’s Soul is the first of my literary babies. She is almost two months old now, having made her debut in November, and growing stronger every day. Bringing her to the attention of the public is similar to the care and nurturing of an infant, requiring constant vigilance. Yet the pay off is that people are noticing her, some are cooing over her, and others even want to take her home with them. She may just be crawling now, but soon she will gain her legs and walk on her own – -and I will sit back in amazement like any proud mother, thinking, Wow, I can’t believe I created that! And in the grand tradition of mothers everywhere, I will want to create another one, forgetting all of the pains and labor involved in the process. Keep your eyes open for the debut of Nora’s brother, Dante. Thank you for riding along with me on this whimsical journey into my take on writing. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.

Also see: Pat Bertram Introduces Dante, the Hero of Nora’s Soul by Margay Leah Justice.