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.

***

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

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer

Stellar Review for Light Bringer

I got an email from Aaron Lazar this morning. If you don’t know Aaron, you should. He is a fine writer and a contributor to the Murder by Four Blog. He was one of the first to buy one of my books, one of the first people I kept awake at night finishing my book, one of the first (if not the first) who dreamed of my characters!! And now he has joined the club of those who have read (and loved) all of my books. I’m sure he won’t mind if I share his email with you:

Pat, Here’s the mini-review for Light Bringer. Dang, that was one FINE read!

***

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. — Aaron Paul Lazar, author of the LeGarde Mysteries, The Moore Mysteries, and the Tall Pines Mysteries

***

He Mumbled, Groaned, Hissed, Spat, Purred, Whispered

As part of my Daughter Am I Blog Tour festivities, I am exchanging blogs with Aaron Lazar. I am blogging at Murder by 4, and he is blogging here. Lucky for me!  

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at www.legardemysteries.com and www.mooremysteries.com and watch for his upcoming releases, HEALEY’S CAVE (2010), FIRESONG: AN UNHOLY GRAE (2010), and ONE POTATO, BLUE POTATO (2011).  Aaron talks about dialogue tags: 

When I first started writing over a decade ago, I exulted in every new dialog tag I could think up. I preened over “he croaked” and purred over “she grumbled.” Finding new and inventive ways to say “he said” became my quest.

My early works were peppered with gloats, murmurs, and barks. I even started a most coveted (only by me) list. 

How many words can you think of to say “he said” or “she said?” Here are some, in no particular order:

Mumbled
Murmured
Expostulated
Grunted
Groaned
Whispered
Purred
Spat
Huffed
Croaked
Barked
Choked
Queried
Cackled
Harrumphed
Stuttered
Muttered
Moaned
Hissed
Grumbled
Whined
Sang
Twittered
Tittered
Griped
Yelped
Cried
Stammered
Shrieked
Crooned
Wheedled
Retorted
Pressured
Cajoled

How many more can you think of? There are probably hundreds.

Okay, now that you’ve wracked your brain for tantalizing tags, let me tell you one very important lesson.

DON’T * EVER * USE * THEM

What? Such brilliance? Such innovative thought? 

Yeah. Sorry. Forget it. Never use anything but “said,” “asked,” or an occasional “whisper” or “mumble.” 

Once in a great while, if you feel you really need it, slip in a “spat” or “croaked.” But I’m here to tell you that dialog tags, for the most part, should be invisible. “Said,” is invisible. “Asked,” is invisible. “Barked” stops the flow of the dialog. Anything that makes your story stutter needs to be eliminated, including these juicy but totally distracting tags. 

Got that part? 

Now that I’ve encouraged you to use “said,” I’m going to retract it. 

Forgive me, but that’s just the way it is. If you can avoid a tag altogether–through the clever use of action “beats”– then more power to you. 

Here’s an example of changing a passage from lush useless tags, to he said/she said tags, to using beats instead of tags: 

Case A:

          I maneuvered the van around the next pothole, and was about to congratulate myself for my superior driving skills when a series of washboard ruts nearly popped the fillings out of my teeth.
          “Want me to take over?” Tony wheedled.
          “Why? Am I making you nervous?” I retorted, gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.
          “Of course not, sweetums. You’re a great driver. Just thought you might want a break,” he crooned.
          We rounded the bend and the road disappeared. The crater before us could hold three elephants. Big elephants.
         “Whoa! Watch it, honey. Don’t wanna blow a tire,” Tony groaned.

Case B

          I maneuvered the van around the next pothole, and was about to congratulate myself for my superior driving skills when a series of washboard ruts nearly popped the fillings out of my teeth.
          “Want me to take over?” Tony said, leaning on the dashboard.
          “Why? Am I making you nervous?” I said with a frown.
          All smiles, he said, “Of course not, sweetums. You’re a great driver. Just thought you might want a break.”
          We rounded the bend and the road disappeared. The crater before us could hold three elephants. Big elephants.
          “Whoa! Watch it, honey. Don’t wanna blow a tire,” Tony said in a panic. 

Case C

          I maneuvered the van around the next pothole, and was about to congratulate myself for my superior driving skills when a series of washboard ruts nearly popped the fillings out of my teeth.
          Tony braced himself on the dash. “Want me to take over?”
          My knuckles turned white. “Why? Am I making you nervous?”
          “Of course not, sweetums.” He forced an innocent smile. “You’re a great driver. Just thought you might want a break.”
          We rounded the bend and the road disappeared. The crater before us could hold three elephants. Big elephants.
          Tony’s frozen smile barely hid his panic. “Whoa! Watch it, honey. Don’t wanna blow a tire.”

***

These examples aren’t beautifully written or perfectly rendered. But they should give you the gist of what I’m trying to illustrate today. 

Add your own examples below, if you’d like. Let’s see some Case A, B, and C’s in the comments section!

copyright Aaron Lazar 2009

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Blog Tour — Update and Downside

I’ve passed the halfway mark of my Daughter Am I blog tour, and already I’m feeling sad that it’s going to come to and end. I was a bit nervous in the beginning about making such a blogging commitment, but it’s worked out great. My hosts have been very kind, my commenters generous, and the stops have been varied enough to be interesting. You can see the entire schedule here: Blog Tour 2009. The beautiful thing about an online book tour is that if you missed a stop, you can still come to visit, and I will always be there to greet you.

The only downside of my tour so far came today when today’s host didn’t post my bloggery. So I posted it. You can find the interview at: Dragon My Feet. Dragon My Feet is my procrastination blog. It was supposed to be the place where I talked about everything I was doing to procrastinate, yet somehow I never got around to posting what I intended. By default, it’s become a book blog.  Now that I mention it — if you have any promotional materials you would like me to post, such as an interview, a press release, a review by a friend, a blurb, send it, along with a jpeg of your book cover, to pat(at)patbertram.com. I’ll be glad to post it on Dragon My Feet. Don’t forget to substitute @ for (at) when you send the email.

I planned to do a recap to let you know what I have learned so far about blog tours, but I haven’t learned much. At least I don’t think I have. Nor am I sure I’d do it again. Don’t get me wrong — I’d like to. I really have been having fun. It’s  just that it seems so presumptuous to ask people if they will be a host for the tour. It’s a lot of work for them, and I’m not sure what they get out of it. Interestingly, I felt just as presumptuous when I was asking authors if they would like to be a guest on my blog.

If I do it again, I will have the articles written ahead of time. So much less pressure! On the other hand, I did write a lot of articles ahead of time, but then I posted them on my blog, so it sort of defeated the purpose.

Be sure to check back tomorrow — Aaron Lazar, author of the LeGarde mysteries, will be a guest here while I am a guest at his MurderBy4 blog.

Don’t forget, you can download 30% of Daughter Am I free at Smashwords.

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Aaaarrrgggghhhh!!!!! Now I Have to Write a Review!

StaccatoWhile most of the world is talking about the new Dan Brown bestseller, Second Wind Publishing, LLC has quietly released a thriller of its own — Staccato by Deborah J Ledford. You won’t find all the elements that have become Brown’s hallmarks: cartoonish characters, amateurish prose, tin-ear for dialogue, internal inconsistencies. What you will find is a well-written, well-constructed story that will keep you enthralled.

The product description on Amazon says it better than I could: Performed against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Staccato transports readers to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of professional musicians, the psychological twists and turns of its characters, and in the end, retribution that crashes in a crescendo of notes played at the literary pace of a maestro’s staccato. The only drawback to Staccato is that it doesn’t come with a soundtrack — each meticulously chosen piece of music enhances the mood of the scene it accompanies, and unless you are much more informed about music than I am, you will miss some of the brilliance of this composition.

Readers are in for a treat, and me? Aaaarrrggghhhh!!! I have to write another review! Well, I don’t have to, but the book deserves all the attention it can get. So, I will add it to the stack of other books I’ve promised to review, yet haven’t:

Lacey Took a Holiday by Lazarus Barnhill
The Medicine People by Lazarus Barnhill
Steel Waters by Ken Coffman
Toxic Shock Syndrome by Ken Coffman
Mazurka by Aaron Lazar
Heart of Hythea by Suzanne Francis
and now, Staccato by Deborah J Ledford

Although all these books are much more literate, readable, and enjoyable than Dan Brown’s pap, the best I can come up with as a review for each of these deserving novels right now is, “Good book. I liked it and you will, too.”

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Blog Exchange

Aaron Paul Lazar, the author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries, is blogging at one of my other blogs — Book Marketing Floozy. (I split the promotion aspect of writing off of Bertram’s Blog and set it up on a separate blog with an index so the articles will always be easily accessible.) Aaron’s  blog post is Writing Columns and Branding. Stop by and say hi. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

I will be blogging at Murder by 4 today, talking about becoming my own genre. The article was written half-tongue-in-cheek, half seriously, but in the end, one cannot be their own genre. Where on a bookstore shelf would the book be placed? Of course, mine will only be available online for a while, so the bookstore placement is not an issue. I do wonder, though, if people who expect A Spark of Heavenly Fire to be a mystery will be disappointed. The mystery is only a small part of the story, though it is a thread that runs through it.

Either way, publication date is drawing closer. I should get another proof copy in about a week, and if there are no mistakes (keeping my fingers crossed even though it does make typing a bit rough),  it will be available on Amazon a couple of days after that. (It is available for pre-order from Second Wind Publishing.) And then I will be a published author. I wonder if I will feel any different? Well, you will be the first to know.

(And don’t forget to enter my contest so you can win the first autographed copy of More Deaths Than One.)

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Would You Like Me to Interview Your Characters?

I am starting a new blog, Pat Bertram Introduces . . .  where I will be posting interviews with fictional characters. The first interview has been posted: Pat Bertram Introduces Siegfried Marggrander, close friend and brother-in-law of Gus LeGarde, of the LeGarde Mystery series, written by Aaron Lazar.

If you wish a character to be interviewed by Pat Bertram, please answer fifteen to twenty questions from the Character Questionaire Page and submit them in the comment section along with whatever links you’d like included. Be sure to answer in your character’s voice, and be sure you mention the title of the book and who wrote it. If an answer to a question is yes or no, please explain why. (Example: Do you run away from conflict? Yes. Why? I don’t like fighting. See, there was this time in third grade where I got in a fight and . . .) Feel free to include your own questions. The character interviewed does not have to be the hero. Even if you don’t want your character interviewed, you can ask your characters these questions to help you profile them.

  1. What is your story?
  2. Who are you?
  3. Where do you live?
  4. Are you the hero of your own story?
  5. What is your problem in the story?
  6. Do you have a problem the wasn’t mentioned in the story?
  7. Do you embrace conflict?
  8. Do you run from conflict?
  9. How do you see yourself?
  10. How do your friends see you?
  11. How do your enemies see you?
  12. How does the author see you?
  13. Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
  14. What do you think of yourself?
  15. Do you have a hero?
  16. Do you have a goal?
  17. What are your achievements?
  18. Do you talk about your achievements?
  19. Do you keep your achievements to yourself?
  20. Do you have any special strengths?
  21. Do you have any special weaknesses?
  22. Do you have any skills?
  23. Do you have money troubles?
  24. What do you want?
  25. What do you need?
  26. What do you want to be?
  27. What do you believe?
  28. What makes you happy?
  29. What are you afraid of?
  30. What makes you angry?
  31. What makes you sad?
  32. What do you regret?
  33. What is your biggest disappointment?
  34. What, if anything, haunts you?
  35. Are you lucky?
  36. Have you ever failed at anything?
  37. Has anyone ever failed you?
  38. Has anyone ever betrayed you?
  39. Have you ever failed anyone?
  40. Have you ever betrayed anyone?
  41. Do you keep your promises?
  42. Are you honorable?
  43. Are you healthy?
  44. Do you have any handicaps?
  45. Do you have any distinguishing marks?
  46. What was your childhood like?
  47. Do you like remembering your childhood?
  48. Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?
  49. Did you get along with your parents?
  50. What in your past had the most profound effect on you?
  51. What in your past would you like to forget?
  52. What in your past would you like others to forget?
  53. Who was your first love?
  54. Who is your true love?
  55. Have you ever had an adventure?
  56. What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?
  57. Was there a major turning point in your life?
  58. Was there ever a defining moment of your life?
  59. Is there anything else about your background you’d like to discuss?
  60. What is your most closely guarded secret?
  61. What is your most prized possession? Why?
  62. Do you have any hobbies?
  63. What is your favorite scent? Why?
  64. What is your favorite color? Why?
  65. What is your favorite food? Why?
  66. What is your favorite beverage? Why?
  67. What is your favorite music? Why?”
  68. What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?
  69. Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.
  70. What are the last five entries in your check registry?
  71. What are the last three books you read?
  72. If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?
  73. If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?
  74. What makes you think that change would be for the better?
  75. If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?
  76. How do you envision your future?
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