At the Car Hospital

I went to visit my car at the auto body shop today, and it’s left me feeling . . . I don’t know. Shaken, maybe. I never wanted to see it in the intermediate stages of restoration — things so often get worse before they get better, and this is so much worse! — but I needed to see if the car was in fact being worked on.

And oh, the poor thing! Makes me wonder if I will regret having all the work done. I am pouring out a lot of money for what is, after all, an ancient vehicle. (I have never done an expensive foolhardy thing in my life, never wasted more than a few dollars at a time, so if this turns out to be a foolish move, then, I’ll just chalk it up to experience.) Even worse, I’m stuck in this vehicleless and homeless state for another month, and the frustration of it all is getting to me. I am an independent soul who hates begging for help, and lately, I am in that situation more often than not, especially since I am running out of people to sponge off of. In the beginning, people felt good about helping, and were pleased to have an opportunity to be kind, but three months is enough to strain everyone’s patience.

One friend said that the reason homeless people end up on the street is that they run out of people to stay with, and I am heading in that direction, at least locally. I’m not in any danger of ending up on the street — I’m not destitute and there are such things as motels, after all, but without a car, I would be trapped.

I suppose it’s good for me to be temporarily embracing such a lifestyle as this, humbling though it might be. Since I have chosen to believe I am where I am meant to be, there could be a reason I am supposed to be hanging around. Or not. It could simply be an ill-fated wind blowing through my life.

Oddly, despite the lengthy restoration process (and the even lengthier wait for the restorer to get started), I still trust this guy. I think he’s an artist who knows what he is doing. And one cannot hurry art. So will this mess end up as a workable piece of art? Only the auto body guy knows.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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 Things Don’t Go as Planned

My housesitting job for July has fallen through. My car still is not finished. Since I don’t have wheels, I haven’t been able to go searching for camping equipment, and since I don’t have a local address, I haven’t been able to order anything online. And so my adventure continues.

I’ll be able to find places to spend the night, places where people won’t turn me away even if they weren’t exactly thrilled about my staying with them, which is nice. I certainly don’t like the prospect of living on the streets in this weather. 105° yesterday. Oh, my. Not that I would have to live on the streets. I could go stay in a motel somewhere, but I’d be pretty much trapped.

My main focus next week will be to see if I can light a fire under the body shop guy. I’ll call, go visit him, see if I can get others to go on my behalf. I understand this isn’t his only job. I understand it’s taking longer than he expected. I understand it’s an old car and needs special care. But enough is enough. (It wouldn’t bother me so much if I still had the housesitting job, but I’m not ready to be out in the world without transportation.) I’ve considered taking a trip by plane or by bus, but if I weren’t here to nag the auto body guy, I might never get the car back.

Meantime, I’m just going with the flow. Waiting to see what if anything transpires. Making lists of people and places to visit. Dreaming about sleeping under the stars (though what good that will do me since without my glasses on, I couldn’t see them anyway).

This isn’t exactly the way I’d planned to spend these months, living on the mercy of friends and acquaintances, but to paraphrase my Aunt Mil, when things don’t go as planned, that’s when the real adventure begins.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

Book Posters

I’m trying to make book posters, sort of like movie posters, but although they look okay here, when I post them elsewhere, they are either smeary, or too much is cut off. Back to the virtual drawing board!

LB poster c

 

More Deaths Than One

 

A Spark of Heavenly Fire

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

Outfitting the Out-Fit

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc) seems to be synonymous with hiking. No matter who I have talked to or whatever blog/discussion group I have visited, inevitably the name of that store has come up as the place to buy everything you need for a backpacking trip. People have extolled the store’s virtues ad infinitum, citing a generous return policy and helpful employees.

Researching backpacking gear and wilderness safety tips have confused the heck out of me. “If you see a bear, look it in the eyes.” “If you see a bear, don’t look it in the eyes.” “Ticks only climb up your legs. They don’t fall out of trees.” “Ticks fall out of trees, so be sure to wear a hat.” “A hammock is the best way to camp.” “Hammocks are illegal in some parks, and besides, they are bear tacos.” “Wear wool.” “Wear synthetics.” So, when a friend invited me to go with her to REI “down the hill” as they say around here, I jumped at the chance. I needed a pair of shoes for walking/hiking, I wanted to get a backpack, and I wished to check out the tents, clothes, and various types of gear available.

The woman in the shoe department brought one pair of shoes at my request. When the left foot fit and the right didn’t, and I asked for suggestions, she just shrugged. I could, of course, have bought the shoes and taken out the offending right insole, but it was glued in. Besides, there was no way I was going to buy a $150 pair of shoes and immediately start cannibalizing it. I might have to do so anyway, because there are various insoles one can purchase that are supposedly better than the insoles that come with the shoes, but I need that to be my choice, not a choice by default. So, not getting any further help from the shoe department, I wandered through the clothes department, found not one garment that would fit, then headed toward backpacks.

I found a backpack that was comfortable, had a fun assortment of pockets, and sported a suspension system that would allow air to get between my back and the pack. When I cornered a clerk and asked for advice, he merely said it was not good for overnight camping, but offered nothing in the way of an alternative, just kept saying I shouldn’t buy the pack. So I didn’t.

I flagged down another clerk and asked about tents. He waved me toward the tents, but very few were on display, so I could get no sense of weight, size, convenience, ease of set up. And there was no one to ask — the clerk had wandered away. My friend showed me various products that she used, which helped me get a sense of what I might need, otherwise I would have left immediately.

I didn’t really think anything else about the trip — the folks I encountered seemed typical bored retail clerks — until a couple of days ago when once again someone recommended REI. I explained the treatment I had received, and he said, “You know why, don’t you? You don’t fit the profile.”

Tahitian CostumeThat took me aback, not just the remark, but his saying it. What had he seen when he looked at me that made him think I didn’t fit the profile? My age? My extra pounds? I have no real body issues. I know what I look like, and I’m fine with it. I certainly don’t spend any time thinking about characteristics others might see as negative. Would I like to be gorgeous, young, fit? I was going to type “yes”, but the real answer appeared on the screen instead: “Not particularly.” My body has its own sort of peasant beauty, thick legs and all, and it’s a lot more fun to wiggle one’s hips in Tahitian dancing when one has hips to wiggle. Most of all, my body works. It does what I ask it with a minimum of discomfort,  It might not always do what my ballet teacher asks of it, but that’s not my problem. I am developing wonderful muscles, so whether or not I can stand in a reasonable facsimile of fifth position is not a personal issue.

It had never occurred to me that I might not fit a profile — any profile — but the more I got to thinking about the man’s comment, the more it bothered me. So I wrote REI, explained the situation, then finished with, “So what if I’m overweight and over age. Is that any reason to treat a customer so poorly?”

The customer service rep apologized and forwarded my email to the store in question. The manager responded, saying, among other things, “It is especially disappointing to know that you did not feel welcomed because of any personal reasons. At REI we have no “profiles”- only a mission to eagerly serve all our guests by inspiring, educating and finding the right products- towards whatever end goal our guests want to enjoy.”

“Because of any personal reasons,” he said. Putting the onus on me, as if I were unduly sensitive. He went on to say, “I’m personally grateful and excited that we have such a variety of people who shop with us to gear up for recreation -no one deserves to have assumptions placed on their passions or abilities because of outward appearances, and at REI we won’t tolerate such behavior -you as our guest deserve better!” Yeah, right. That’s why not a single piece of clothing in the store fit me. They might not have an overt policy of profiling, but they do have a de facto policy. Where are the clothes for the out-fit to wear? (Out-fit because such folk are not necessary unfit, just outside the range of what is usually considered fit.) People twice my size go backpacking. Where were the clothes for those women? Where are the sleeping bags for the short and wide folks. (You can get wide bags, but they are also very long.)

The manager ended his letter by saying he had dealt with the person who had been in the camping department that day, and that he was proud of the service that 95% of his staff gives, and he hoped I would return.

By that time I was sick of the whole mess and wished I hadn’t said anything. So I wrote back, “If I wanted you to deal with your employees on my behalf, I would I have told you in person when I was there. I only wrote when I heard from someone else who had a similar experience with what appeared to be storewide profiling. You assure me that’s not the case. So fine. Nice to know. But there is no guarantee that if I were ever to shop at your store, I wouldn’t once again encounter some of the 5% who weren’t helpful. And it’s too far to go to find out. But thank you for responding.”

So why am I telling you this? I have no idea. Maybe because of the realization that I have no body issues though apparently it looks as if I should have. Maybe because the experience is just another step in the adventure that has become my life. Or maybe because . . . ta-da! . . . it’s a blog topic, and blog topics are almost as hard to find as outfits for the out-fit.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

Finding a Place For Our Dead

In a previous post, when I mentioned my dilemma about what to do with Jeff’s ashes, I said I considered taking them back to Colorado, because that’s where he resides in my head. I know he’s not there, and I know his ashes aren’t him in any way — they are just the inorganic parts of his body. The organic parts went up in flames. (Actually, there are no flames when a body is cremated, just high heat that reduces the body to gases and bone fragments, but “going up in flames” is much more poetic than the reality.) But part of me seems to think his ashes should be where he “is.” Totally illogical, but then, grief is illogical.

Although we who are left behind seldom realize it, the placement of our loved ones is ones is one of the things we need to work through during the grief process. By placement, I don’t mean the physical placement of the body, though that is a current concern of mine, but the psychological placement.

Death is traumatic, and especially traumatic is the death of a soul mate. After years of being closely connected, suddenly the person is gone. It is incomprehensible, this goneness. We feel the void with every breath we take, with every beat of our hearts. And deep within our souls, we shriek, “Where are you?” (This is not always a silent shriek. I used to walk out in the desert calling for him. “Where are you? Can you hear me?” He never answered, of course.)

Even deeply religious people hear the silent call of their souls for their mates. “Heaven” and “God” are every bit as incomprehensible as death, so they offer no concrete answers to the question of where are our dead. Gradually, though, we do come to an accommodation. One woman, whose husband often stayed in a different town because of work, visualizes him in that town, and won’t go there because she doesn’t want to confront the reality. Another woman’s husband often traveled, and she pictures him away on a business trip. In my case, I often came to my parents’s house when my mother was dying, and so when I came here after Jeff died, it seemed as if once again, I’d left him at home while I succored a parent.

None of us believe in any way that our mates are still where we picture them. We feel the goneness too much to even pretend they are still alive, and yet we capture the feeling of how it was when we were separated temporarily so that we can deal with the permanent separation.

One of the oddnesses of my life is that when I remove any consideration of him from my days, I am content, even happy. It’s when I remember that his death is what is allowing me to grow beyond our shared life, giving me the freedom to plan solo adventures without worrying about his well-being, to indulge my perhaps foolhardy whims, that grief strikes me. Even after all this time, I cannot bear his being dead. And so, in my head, he is back in Colorado, waiting for me to come home.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels 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.

No Problem

At dance class today, people were talking about their problems. One person said it was important to be kind, that everyone had a secret problem they were dealing with.

At that particular moment, I was feeling calm, at peace with the world, and fairly cool. (The coolness would wore off quite quickly — the air conditioner in the studio is broken, and it got up to about 103° today.) So said, “I don’t have any problems.”

They came back at me with a stern, “Everyone has problems,” and one woman reminded me that I still don’t have my car. (It’s been at the auto body shop for three months.)

I kept my mouth shut as I so often do now. I get tired of people shooting me down when I talk, so I figure it’s best not to say anything, but the truth is, I don’t have problems. At least not at the moment. I might not have my car, but I have a place to live, a refrigerator full of groceries I purchased, and rides to and from the dance studio. Despite the heat, I have the ability to walk within reasonable distances if I need to get to the store. And I have my computer available to blog or check with online folks.

Next week could be a different matter, but maybe not. A problem is defined as “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” Synonyms are: difficulty, trouble, worry, complication, difficult situation; snag, hitch, drawback, stumbling block, obstacle, hurdle, hiccup, setback, catch; predicament, plight; misfortune, mishap, misadventure; dilemma, quandary.

The way I see it, my life right now is an adventure, and I welcome whatever comes my way. I might not particularly like some of the interpersonal situations I find myself in, but the situations are fleeting and provide me with lessons and challenges. (I tend to brood when people treat me with less than the consideration I feel I deserve, and brooding is such an unattractive response that I would like to overcome that tendency. But even that is not a problem. Just a character trait I don’t admire.)

I’m learning to live in the moment, and not many problems can be contained in any particular moment. Worry is for tomorrow, and tomorrow can take care of itself. As the saying goes, “tomorrow never comes.” Because when today’s tomorrow gets here, it will be tomorrow’s today.

I have no idea how long I can continue this attitude. When problems do show up on my doorstep (assuming I have a doorstep), I’ll deal with them then. For now, I am lucky. I have no problems.
Life is a great big canvas

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

Playing Famous Author

Despite a few minor downturns, for the most part, my life lately has been truly a gift. I am having an incredible time housesitting — I have the opportunity to try on other people’s lives for a few days, which is an awesome adventure. And last night I got to play “famous author.” Well, maybe not “famous.” Maybe just “author,” but it was a fantastic experience for all that.

A local book club chose my novel Daughter Am I for this past month’s read, and they invited me to the discussion. I was afraid the discussion would be stilted because if they didn’t like the book, who would have the courage to admit it with the author sitting right there? But they all liked it for their own reasons.

One fellow seemed a bit tepid at first. He thought it a fun read that didn’t put him to sleep, which in itself is balm to a writer’s ears, but he got enthusiastic about the book when it dawned on him the story was a take-off on The Wizard of Oz. When he said as much, I couldn’t help emitting a triumphant, “Yes!” Although the book wasn’t specifically a take-off on The Wizard of Oz, it was a retelling of “The Hero’s Journey” as described by Joseph Campbell. (Actually, it was more a retelling of the retelling since I read Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey rather than Joseph Campbell’s tome.) And the mythic structure of “The Hero’s Journey” underlies many familiar tales. Not just The Wizard of Oz, but also such stories as Star Wars and King Arthur.

The other fellow in the group didn’t seem all that impressed with the structure or the fun of the story — he was caught up in the conspiracy aspect and his own search for my “truth.” He wanted to know what truth I was trying to illuminate. He thought it was both “Truth” with a capital “T,” and the specific truth that nothing is as it seems — although good is good and bad is bad, good can also be bad and bad can also be good. Again, I was impressed. Because yes, that is basically the truth of this particular book. Or one of them. If characters are true to themselves, then ideally readers can find whatever truth they need from the story, and all those truths are equally relevant.

The women in the group invariably were reminded of relatives or places they grew up, making the book personal to them.

It was a thrill and a true honor to sit around the table, eating delicious snacks and discussing my book. I never imagined such a gathering, never imagined what a privilege it would be to hear what the book meant to readers, never knew how gratifying it would be when people saw what my intentions were in writing the story. I wanted to write books that were simple to read, but had a subtle complexity that those of a more thoughtful bent could find. And apparently I did.

I’m so used to not seeing myself as an author, or as anything special when I do see myself as such because my online community consists primarily of authors. And when everyone is an author, well . . . no one is special. But last night I did feel special. As if I had done something incredible by writing the book.

I had an interesting insight when the topic strayed to other books they had read with despicable characters — I will never be a world famous author or a household name because none of my POV characters are ever despicable. They are kind folk who are nice to each other. The stories are never about their interpersonal conflicts, but their joint conflict with an outside antagonist.

And that is okay. Those are the types of characters (and people!) I want to spent time with.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

Mosquitoes, My Bugaboo

A truly fabulous benefit of living in the high desert is: no mosquitoes!! I am one of those folks who are attractive to the little monsters, so I have always had to be careful not to go out at dawn or dusk, and to tuck my pants into my socks if I do, as well as dab myself with citronella oil, though the oil makes me as nauseous as mosquito bites do. In the desert, though, I have had much more freedom, going outside at any time of night or day.

For some reason, the other day I ended up with a bunch of insect bites on my legs. They seem to be non-poisonous spider bites, but even though the bites aren’t noxious, they itch like crazy, and none of my usual panaceas seem to work. (A Mary Kay dealer suggested using a face mask on new bites because the mask pulls out the excretions, but by the time I heard her suggestion, the bites were a couple of days old.)

These bites reminded me of the dreaded mosquito situation, and their prevalence on various trails, along with ticks. Oh, my.

Everything I have read about long hikes lead me to believe that while the benefits might outweigh the drawbacks, there is a lot of torture associated with such a lifestyle. I am so not into torture, so a lot of my research is about how to eliminate the pain without eliminating the benefits of the experience. (I am not one of those who subscribes to the rather ludicrous philosophy of “no pain, no gain.” What’s wrong with “gain, no pain?”)

In books and even online, people are always blasé about mosquito bites, but the insects are dangerous disease-bearing creatures, and for people who seem especially sensitive to the toxin, they are to be avoided at all costs. Hence today’s research in how to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of the best advice is what I have always followed: stay inside. But that advice is counter to the idea of a hike. Other suggestions stay away from water and stay away from trees. As far as I can see, if one goes for a walk in the woods, it’s hard to stay away from trees. And water seems to be a necessity of life. (I haven’t yet tested this theory. I’ll take the experts’s word for it.) Most important: stay cool and avoid exercise. Is it possible to hike without moving? Something to ponder.

I could follow the dictate to wear white and bright colors since black and dark colors attract the pests, but I have done so with little to no effect.

There are mosquito repellants, of course, though the directions on all the repellants say not to use for extended periods of time and to wash it off as soon as you go inside. But what if you don’t go inside but have to stay outside? And what if there isn’t a way to wash? Minty teas are supposed to help, as does (it is rumored) Skin-so-Soft by Avon. (These repellants work by changing one’s smell.) It’s possible to treat clothes with insect repellant, and to wear various mosquito-net hats, gloves, etc. There are even mosquito net full body suits. Would I wear them? I don’t think so. Just more gear to carry around, and besides, the point is to connect with the world, not to walk around in some sort of see-through Michelin man suit.

Winter hiking is a possibility, especially considering the problems of excessive heat in the summer along with the need to carry a huge amount of water, but winter hiking brings its own problems. I mean, it’s winter!!

When one thinks of walking and hiking, the dangers that are so often mentioned are bears, mountain lions, and other wild creatures. But bugs are my bugaboo. Don’t get me wrong. I like insects and don’t kill them (I always trap them and take them outside so they can come in again and be retrapped). But I draw the line at being eaten.

Note: a bugaboo is something that makes people worried or upset, and is akin to bogey as in bogeyman, coming from a Welsh word meaning “ghost.” Or maybe it is more African in origin, from words meaning “bug.” Any time such a dichotomy exists, I tend to believe in an earlier origin, one that encompasses both meanings.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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 Cloud

A couple of people I know were talking about the cloud the other day — not clouds in the sky, but “the cloud” as in “cloud storage.” One said that there was only one cloud where everything was stored, and  the other, an engineer, kept insisting the cloud must exist somewhere.

I agreed that it must exist somewhere. Nothing comes from nothing, and nothing goes nowhere, though the impression we are given of the cloud is that perhaps it’s a nebulous cloud of electrons that exists to serve us without taking up space.

A bit of research told the truth.

As romantic as the notion might be, the cloud is not cloud at all. “Cloud” is a metaphor for the internet. Apparently, a diagram of the internet, in all its complexity, resembles a cloud. In truth, the “cloud” is/are huge data power centers, with acres of computers, processors, applications, and computer servers. (Servers are computers that supply data to other computers.) Instead of individuals and companies needing to buy massive machines with enormous processing power, they can harness the power of the machines other people own, and instead of warehousing their accumulated data on their own machines, they can rent space in these virtual storehouses, access them remotely, and get the benefits of the massive power structure.

Email systems (such as gmail) which are internet based are not stored on your computer, but in the euphemistic “cloud.” They are stored in someone else’s physical computer center and can be accessed by any computer. Friends who own the various houses where I have been staying, have kindly offered me the use of their computers. If I took them up on their offers, I could, of course, access my emails, FB, and various other sites just by using my password, but many of my files would be inaccessible because they are stored in my personal computer, not somewhere in the internet.

It’s comforting to think of “the cloud” as being a natural resource like the sky clouds, but when you think of the vast acres of these data centers springing up in physical locations around the world, each one costing hundreds of millions of dollars and generating untold wealth for their owners, the comfort vanishes and all sorts of questions arise. Who actually owns the data stored in the “cloud”? What are the stewards doing with the data entrusted to them? And why the heck do we need all that data? Once upon a time, data existed as words on paper, not ones and zeroes stored in and accessed by infinitely complex and massive computing machines.

Once you know that the cloud is a simple word for describing a system that is anything but simple, it’s easy to understand. Or at least understand the concept. For who among us ever understands this electronic web that binds us all together?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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 Hero’s Journey, Daughter Am I, and other Literary Matters

DAIsmallI had a wonderful discussion with a friend today about my books. Actually, there were two discussions with two different friends. One was about the dance studio murder story I’d planned to write using the students from the dance academy as characters, but that is so not a good idea. I don’t want to inadvertently hurt people, and I’ve come to see that what I like about certain people are not things they like about themselves, the interplay I find fascinating might have negative connotations, and the compelling characteristics — characteristics that define the person — are not always admirable. All those are good elements of a story, but in a real-life relationship? Not so good. Still, the idea is percolating somewhere in the back of my head, and maybe someday it will take on such import that I have to write it down to get it completely out of my head.

The other discussion was about books in general. I’ve been staying at this particular friend’s house, and I am still in residence. I will be the guest of honor at her book discussion this Saturday (Daughter Am I is the book being discussed!), and so she’s keeping me captive until the weekend. It’s not a bad idea, keeping me captive, considering my newly gallivanting ways. In fact, I’ve found another housesitting privilege (it is more of a privilege than a job, this staying at other people’s houses) that begins this weekend, so she’s right to remind me of my impending guesthood.

We spent the afternoon discussing books we’ve read and movies we liked, and it made me see the possibilities in writing again. It could be fun to create a world as did Anne McCaffrey. Or maybe it would be fun to jump into a ready-made world, such as regency England with its comedy of manners and rigid rules like Georgette Heyer did. (Maybe creating a character of an old woman because all the usual characters seem impossibly young, even those considered as being on the shelf.). Perhaps it would be fun to write a series, maybe a continuation of my as yet unwritten dance murder book, or a sequel to one of my already written books. (There are all those babies in Light Bringer, after all, and the possibility of more aged gangsters for Daughter Am I.

I don’t have to settle on any one possibility, of course — I could try out all the various ideas to see what sticks, but for now, it’s more important for me to fill my brain pan, stir it all up, then add the heat of imagination and see what (if anything) boils to the surface.

Still, it was nice talking about various literary matters, such as the hero’s journey and how it applies to Star Wars, The Wizard, of Oz, the legend of King Arthur and Daughter Am I. And if that wasn’t joy enough, there still is the bookclub meeting to look forward to.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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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