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 — http://patbertram.com — 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: http://ptbertram.wordpress.com

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!

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Drifting . . .

I’m sitting here mindlessly playing computer solitaire, not thinking much of anything, just letting old sorrows, lost hopes, and unborn possibilities drift around in my mind like flakes in an old fashioned snow globe.

It’s futile to try to sort out the thoughts. There’s no need to dwell on what is gone and what can never be — those are part of my very being, so that even when the thoughts are not recognized, I feel their importance.

snow globeNor is there any need to dwell on what has not yet happened — although those possibilities are still unformed, I feel their portent.

I’m trying not to rush through this strange hiatus between all the endings and a new beginning. So many people are gone from my life, through death, mental illness, and misunderstanding that sometimes I am overwhelmed by the complexity of starting over alone and wish to make immediate decisions and plans to give me a start on the future. But other times, like now, I am content to let the future take care of itself. There may never again be a time where so much is open to me. When I have to start making decisions, the world will narrow with each choice.

If I continue to do my mostly volunteer work for an online company, I will be tied to the computer for longer than I wish, doing work that has long since lost its appeal. If I were to walk away, I will have to embrace one further loss since this “job” has been part of my life for many years. If I were to get a real job to make my financial situation stronger, I won’t be able to take dance classes. Nor will I have time to write (or rather, not write, which is what I so often do). If I continue to take dance classes, I won’t be able to travel, or at least not much.

I am not yet ready for such a narrowing of possiblitilities even if it means embracing my sorrows and lost hopes a bit longer.

And so I drift.

***

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.

The 9th Annual Short Story Challenge

A friend just sent me information about a writing competition open to writers around the world — The 9th Annual Short Story Challenge. It’s an interesting concept, one of never encountered before. It’s not my sort of thing, but I’m posting the information in case you are interested.

There are 3 rounds of competition.

In the 1st Round (January 16-24, 2015), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.

The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (March 12-15, 2015) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.

Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 1,500 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (April 24-25, 2015).  A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected.

If this sounds like fun to you, it’s easy to register.  First, download and read the Official Rules and Participation Agreement.  Once you have read and understood the terms, you are ready to register by clicking here.  The entry fee is US$45* by the Early Entry Deadline of December 11, 2014 and then US$55* until the Final Entry Deadline of January 15, 2015.

Every writer receives feedback from the judges for every story submitted, and a special review forum is available for the participants to submit their stories for review from fellow writers throughout the competition.  During the Short Story Challenge 2014, there were over 3,300 comments made on the 200+ stories submitted on the forum.  Click here to visit the forums.

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Authors, Would You Like to be Interviewed?

If you are an author, I am inviting you to let me promote your latest book.

I do author interviews and character interviews, and post excerpts on my blogs, and I don’t charge a penny! Of course, since you get what you pay for, I can’t guarantee you will sell books because of your efforts and mine, but they will be promoted via Facebook and Twitter. If I haven’t scared you off, 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!

computerHere are some tips for doing the most compelling interviews:

For my Author Questionnaire, I begin with the question, “What is your book about?” It’s the hook, the reason why we are all at the blog — to know about your book. So, please, don’t start your interview with boring questions like, “Is this your first book?” Why would the reader care if it’s your first book if they don’t know what it is about? And please give the title of your book. If you’ve done your job right, people are going to want to learn more about your book, but if you haven’t provided a title, how will readers know what it is?

Pick ten questions that most resonate with you. Responding, “I don’t know” to a question is a waste of your time, my time, and the reader’s time. If you don’t know, pick a question to which you do know the answer. Giving monosyllabic responses is just as bad. You’re a writer, right? Supposedly you know how to hook readers. So hook them. Tell them something interesting. Most writers say they have no message in their books, that they just want to entertain, so be entertaining.

Almost as bad as “I don’t know” is saying “It’s difficult to describe.” You’re a writer. Take the time to find the necessary words. And please, do not respond to a question with, “You’ll have to read the book.” There are 130,000,000 published books as of this very moment, so people have plenty of options. They don’t have to read your book. You have to make them want to read your book.

Proof your interview or guest post. If your interview is full of typos, people will assume that your book is full of typos. If your grammar is sadly lacking, people will assume your book is as ungrammatical. And if your interview is boring, people will assume your book is also boring. So please, spend time on your presentations. It does you no good to carelessly throw together an interview, guest post, or excerpt, and expect readers to instantly fall in love with you and your work.

But most of all, follow the directions. I ask people to submit their interview as a comment reply on the blog, yet every day I get a message from someone asking for my email address so they can send me their interview. Um. No. If I wanted it sent via email, I would have provided the address.

Only about 10% of the people who do interviews for me provide everything I ask, which makes the interview rather a futile project. So, for best results, please FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

An Epic Adventure

During the past couple of years, I’ve been blogging about my yearning for an epic adventure. I’ve talked about walking up the Pacific coast, thru walking the Pacific Crest Trail, getting a small camper to roam the country and visit all my online friends. The last I might still do, but the first two are supreme athletic feats for which I simply do not have the feet. (Or the body, either!)

To me, an epic adventure is more than an athletic feat. It is a transcendental experience, one that allows us to transcend our daily experience, going beyond what we know, and somehow being transformed in the process. Such an endurance test would include physical challenges and encompass the whole range of human emotions.

And such an epic adventure came looking for me.

My Hawaiian dance class was invited to participate in a dance concert put on by the local college. Our teacher picked out two numbers — “Green Rose,” a Kahiko chant, and “Nani Wali Nahala,” a dance using bamboo sticks. (Have you ever seen Donovan’s Reef where the dancers danced with sticks? Our dance was faster and more complicated, but you get the idea.) Then we practiced. And practiced. And practiced.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that I’m musically challenged. My ears hear all the various strains, themes, and tracks of a song as a single entity. It’s very difficult for me to pick out a beat or single note from the mélange. And yet, I was chosen to lead the class out on stage. (It had nothing to do with expertise. It was more of a height thing — the woman at the other end of the stage was the same height as I was, and I happened to be there for all the practices.)

I did learn to pick the right note, count the requisite number of beats before heading into the limelight, and keep time while leading the way, yet it was always an adrenaline-filled, nerve-jangling moment when I made my entrance, whether in class or in dress rehearsal.

This epic adventure spanned five days. Our class’s dress rehearsal on Wednesday. The dress rehearsal for the entire cast on Thursday (a nine-hour endurance test, mostly boredom interspersed with moments of heart-pounding and palm-sweating nervousness when we lined up for our turns). Two performances on Friday. One performance on Saturday evening. A Sunday matinee.

By the end of the day on Thursday, and even after the first show on Friday morning, some of us were wondering if the whole thing was worth it, but by Friday night we got into stride (it helped that as soon as I stepped on stage, we got a big round of applause. Sure made smiling easier!). Saturday slipped by as if this were our new life, and Sunday, though fun, was simply another day. The stage had become our life. Then it was over and somehow we had to come back to our normal lives.

Or maybe not.

Such an epic adventure, encompassing as it did the endurance test of waiting for our turns, the physical feat of dancing, the emotional highs and lows — fun and boring, exhausting and exhilarating, challenging and nerve wracking — had to have changed us somehow. Well, changed me anyway. The others have done such marathon concerts before, but it was a first for me. (Me? Dancing on stage? Seems unreal, to be honest.) Change ripples into our lives, creating a new reality. The odd thing is, I might never notice it. Change might rock our world, but since we rock with it, we are always on sure footing.

Oddly, the thing that made it all seem worthwhile for me during that second interminable day of dress rehearsal, is that whenever any of us questioned why were we doing such a thing, I’d look at us and say with a smile, “but we look so adorable.” And maybe something as simple as that is what keeps one moving ahead on an epic adventure. Because, of course, we did look adorable. It might even have been part of the adventure. We are all long past the “adorable” stage of our lives, and yet, here we are (I’m the second face from the right):

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Murder in 100 Words by Pat Bertram

Tom milled around the prison yard with the other inmates, waiting for the sound of death. There would be no stay of execution for their condemned mate, who would die in a most barbaric way.

“They don’t care that he’s innocent,” Tom said. “As are we all. The system is guilty, but no one wants to buck tradition.”

The thud of the axe made him flinch. He bowed his head out of respect for the dead.

In the silence, he heard the executioner’s voice drifting through the chicken wire fence. “It’s a big turkey. We’ll have a grand Thanksgiving feast.”

***

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.

Winter Heat Blog Hop

I was invited to participate in the Winter Heat Blog Hop. A blog hop is a way of getting to view new blogs that are offering giveaways and opportunities to win prizes. Click here on this blue link to view the entire Winter Heat Blog Hop list!

blog hopb

As for my giveaway:

From now until December 5, you can download the first two books in the Rubicon Ranch trilogy for free. In case you’re not familiar with Rubicon Ranch, it was a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the desert community of Rubicon Ranch and was written online by the authors of Second Wind Publishing. No one knew the outcome of the novels before they were written — we just wrote our characters’ stories trying to prove simultaneously that they were the killer and that they were innocent. A real challenge, but according to Sheila Deeth, writer and reviewer extraordinaire, we succeeded.

Sheila wrote: I thoroughly enjoyed it. Different authors pen chapters from the points of view of different characters. But the end of each tale meshes perfectly with the next, and the story progresses, through twists and turns (and death), to its mysterious, perfectly logical conclusion, while the reader is left to guess, imagine, wonder, and reflect.

Rubicon Ranch

In the first book, Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story, a little girl’s body was found in the wilderness near the desert community of Rubicon Ranch. Was it an accident? Or . . . murder! But who would want to kill a child?

Click here to download a free ecopy of Rubicon Ranch Book One: Riley’s Story (no code necessary) in the ebook format of your choice from Smashwords.

In the second book, Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces, residents of Rubicon Ranch are finding body parts scattered all over the desert. Who was the victim and why did someone want him so very dead? Everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s life will be different after they have encountered the Rubicon. Rubicon Ranch, that is.

Click here to download Rubicon Ranch Book Two: Necropieces in the ebook format of your choice from Smashwords. Be sure to use Code LT25A when ordering to get your free download. Offer expires December 5, 2014

These ebooks will make a great stocking stuffer. Just click on “Give as a gift” on the Smashwords page before proceeding to check out.

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Grief: The Great Learning, Day 423

I’ve saved the letters I wrote to my life mate/soul mate after he died, thinking that one day I would write a sequel to Grief: The Great Yearning, the story of my first year of grief. I’d planned to call the sequel Grief: The Great Learning, and detail the lessons gleaned from the second and third years of my grief. Because I no longer want to keep revisiting such angst, there will be no sequel, so I’m publishing the letters here on this blog as a way of safeguarding (and sharing) them.

Please note that this particular letter reflected what I was feeling three and a half years ago. I am not feeling sorry for myself now — at least, not much. I’ve found a new love (dancing). Although I have largely moved beyond my grief, I still wish I could talk to him, see how he is doing, feel his hug, bask in his smile. I don’t think I will ever lose that desire, ever stop yearning for what I cannot have. His goneness shapes my days somewhat the same way his presence used to. Everything I do is because he is no longer here.

I am more used to the idea of living alone than I was when I wrote this letter, though sometimes it still scares me. But one of the lessons grief taught me is that I can get used to anything, even loneliness and aloneness.

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Day 423, Hi, Jeff.

I went to St. Simons Island where I gave a speech on creating characters. My talk went well — I dazzled. I could see it in their eyes. I met soLighthouseme authors, toured the town, climbed the lighthouse, steeped myself in island culture, even ate fried green tomatoes, though I didn’t like them — too much rosemary. Then, on the last day, I got sick. Might be a cold, might be an allergy flare-up, might be psychological (I couldn’t bear the idea of coming back here rather than to you, and it was a way of keeping me isolated.)

I refused to think about you this past week — didn’t want to suffocate. The stuffiness of tears on top of the stuffiness from being sick would have made it impossible to breathe, but Saturday, my sadder day, I did cry. Just kept crying, crying, crying.

I’m doing okay mostly, but I miss you. I hate that you’re gone, both on your behalf (though I doubt you care) and on my behalf. I still panic at the thought of dealing with life alone. Growing old alone. Dying alone. Living alone. I never expected to be so lonely, but I am. I’m lonely for someone generically and for you specifically. You’re so far out of reach! It seems pathetic that I need you — needed you — to give my life shape, form, focus, but it seems even more pathetic to be alone.

What’s to become of me? How can I go on alone? I know I’m strong enough, but shouldn’t there be more to life than simply endurance?

I miss you. I yearn for you. Just one more word. One more smile. Doesn’t seem too much to ask, but it kills me they are things I can never have again. How can it be over? And how can it still be painful after all these months?

I love you. Take care of yourself.

***

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.

Give a Gift of A Spark of Heavenly Fire for Half Price!

A Spark of Heavenly FireUntil November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)

If you wish to give the ebook as a gift, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire, click on “give as a gift,” fill out all the information required, such as the recipient’s email address. Be sure to enter the coupon code ST33W in the designated box to get your discount.

Though A Spark of Heavenly Fire has been classified by some readers as a thriller — and there are plenty of thrills and lots of danger — A Spark of Heavenly Fire is fundamentally a Christmas book. The story begins on December 2, builds to a climax on Christmas, and ends with renewal in the Spring. There are no Santas, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but the story — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

(Why does A Spark of Heavenly Fire begin on December 2 instead of December 1? Glad you asked that. All through the writing of the book, I kept thinking: if only people could get through the first fifty pages, I know they will like this book. So finally came my duh moment. Get rid of the first fifty pages!! With all the deletions and rewriting, I couldn’t make the story start on December 1 as I’d originally intended, but that’s okay since it didn’t end on December 25 as I had hoped. The story overgrew it’s bounds, but the symbolism still held since it ends around Easter.)

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

When I Have To Leave Here

People ask me what I’m going to do when I have to leave my father’s house now that he’s gone, and I always give them the same answer. “I don’t know.” It’s the truth. I don’t know, and it’s rather liberating for a worrier such as I am not to know and not to care. I do think about the near future occasionally, wondering if something wonderful will come and shove me in a certain direction. (Any sign would have to be an obvious push because otherwise I would miss it or misinterpret it.) But for the most part, I’m enjoying not caring. I have a place to stay tonight and maybe to the end of the year. That seems security enough for me right now.

Other people are more worried than I am about my blank future, and most offer suggestions of what I should do. Often those suggestions reflect more their own blighted dreams than my needs. For example, I applied to mYAMAdventure.com in response to one such dream. The friend who sent me the link can’t do a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and since she doesn’t know anyone who did, she’d like to live vicariously through my hike. (Assuming, of course, I ever do such a dangerous thing.)

I won’t be on the street, that I know — I’ve had an offer of a place to stay in an emergency. Nor will I be destitute. I’ll have enough to get by for a while no matter what happens.

Meantime, I’m clearing out what I can of my still too numerous possessions and packing up the things that I’m not yet ready to get rid of. A year or two of paying storage costs might make me change my mind about what is important, but for now I’m keeping the necessities such as pots and pans, dishes, eating utensils, comforters, a rainbow assortment of towels — all the familiar household goods that will make some future place feel like home. (The urge to chuck it all looms up occasionally, but I’m not quite ready to obliterate my past.) I also have boxes of notes, notebooks, and started novels (one that has yet to be typed up. Yikes), and a few irreplaceable items such as the tables my now deceased brother made for me. (His death started the long siege of losses I’ve suffered in the past eight years.)

The nA Spark of Heavenly Fireon-essentials are harder to know what to do with. For example, I have the handwritten first draft of all my books. I write long hand, silly though that might seem nowadays, but when I wrote those books, I didn’t have a computer or even a typewriter. Just pencil, paper, time, and me. So, do I continue to keep those first drafts? Or do I toss them out? (Not a rhetorical question. I really do want to know.) It doesn’t look as if I will be a brand name author any time soon, so I don’t need them for posterity. And anyway, the published books deviated quite a bit from those first drafts. (In at least one case, the final book resembles the draft not at all.) Unless someone comes up with a good reason for keeping them, out they go.

Such are the small decisions of my life. The major ones might take care of themselves, and if they don’t, well . . . I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

For now I’m basking in the glory of not knowing.

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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