Free Review Copy of Unfinished

Stairway Press has just informed me they have review copies of UNFINISHED to give away! If you would like to review this novel about the secrets a grieving widow uncovers when she goes through her deceased husband’s effects, please leave a comment on this blog. Reviews are to be posted on Amazon and at least one other place, such as your blog if you have one, Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook. Stairway Press would also like permission to post the review on their website.

The review doesn’t have to be brilliant, just a few words to tell your honest opinion of the book and how it made you feel.

If you’ve already read the book, and have not left a review, please leave a review on Amazon. As Stairway Press said to me in a recent email, “Your book is good. It should please readers and fan word-of-mouth flames. But, it’s just sitting there looking at us as if it expects us to do something.”

So, let’s do something! Even if you don’t want to review the book, please share this post so that it can reach as many people as possible. Thank you.

Click on the cover below to read the first chapter and see if Unfinished is something you’d like to read and review.

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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.

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Author Arc

There are only two days left of my novel writing month. Unlike the National Novel Writing Month in November, which is about writing 50,000 words in a month, I had no goal except to work on my book every day. The first four days of March were dedicated to editing and reading what I already had written — it’s impossible to finish writing a book if you don’t know what it’s about, and I’d let the poor thing lie fallow for so many years, I’d forgotten many of the details.

Two days of the month were wasted from a novel writing point of view as I celebrated Jeff’s death with tears and sorrow (though not, of course, wasted from a purely personal point of view). I did open the manuscript and stare at it for a while both those days, which has to count for something.

It is interesting that I should be working on this particular book around the anniversary because it was the last book where Jeff offered any input — he always helped with making sure the men thought and acted like men. Some people were disappointed with my last two books —  Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinished — both of which were written long after his death so they lacked the male point of view that kept my first four books from slipping into girlishness. And I have to admit, both Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinished are “girlier” than my first four novels, which I doubt Jeff would have liked. But the way I figure, if he didn’t want me to write fiction geared more for women, then he shouldn’t have died.

I have a hunch my male characters in the book I am writing now are losing their edge, but I don’t think it matters. The theme of the story is freedom. How much freedom we are willing to give up for safety, how much safety we are willing to give up for freedom, and in the end, since freedom is an illusion, it’s about embracing responsibility. So, if in this third part, the characters are different from the first two parts, it can be chalked up to character arc rather than author arc.

Usually about this time, as I am sliding down to the end, I have another book in mind, but not this time. One idea I had was to write a murder mystery when/if I ever hiked long sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’d probably scare myself half to death writing about death in the wilderness on such a hike, but it certainly would give a book immediacy if I were sort of living it as I wrote it. Another idea is to do a sequel to the book I am now finishing. Two babies were born in completely different circumstances in this newly created world of mine. One of the babies is named Eve. The other Adam. It does call out for a sequel doesn’t it? And yet, this book is more or less a one-note story. Once the gag is played out, I’m not sure what’s left.

Anyway, considering how long I’ve been working on this book, I shouldn’t count my ending before it’s hatched — if I get sidetracked again, it could be years before I get back to it.

I will extend my novel-writing month into April, however, even though I only have half the month to write since I will need at least a week to prepare for my trip. (It’s not just a road trip and a camping trip and a hiking trip, but also a backpacking trip, a city trip with a fancy night on the town, and various and sundry other excitements.) After that week of preparation, I will be leaving. Although I have been calling this my May trip, I will be leaving in April since I have to be back the last week in May to practice for a performance. Let’s hope I don’t lose the dances somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. They were both difficult to learn.)

Does talking about my book constitute working on it? No, I guess not. So, back to work I go, constructing a world and many dangers for my poor characters to suffer through.

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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.

Reviewers Wanted!

Stairway Press has just informed me they have review copies of UNFINISHED to give away! If you would like to review this novel about the secrets a grieving widow uncovers when she goes through her deceased husband’s effects, please leave a comment on this blog. Reviews are to be posted on Amazon and at least one other place, such as your blog if you have one, Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook. Stairway Press would also like permission to post the review on their website.

The review doesn’t have to be brilliant, just a few words to tell your honest opinion of the book and how it made you feel.

If you’ve already read the book, and have not left a review, please leave a review on Amazon. As Stairway Press said to me in a recent email, “Your book is good. It should please readers and fan word-of-mouth flames. But, it’s just sitting there looking at us as if it expects us to do something.”

So, let’s do something! Even if you don’t want to review the book, please share this post so that it can reach as many people as possible. Thank you.

Click on the cover below to read the first chapter and see if Unfinished is something you’d like to read and review.

***

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.

Free Samples!

If you have not yet read any of my books, or if you haven’t yet decided which of them to read, here is an opportunity to sample all of them. Simply click on each of the titles below to read the first chapter free online.

    • Unfinished — While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own…
    • Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare — When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Pat starts writing, and then . . . the murders begin.
    • A Spark of Heavenly Fire — In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease, investigative reporter Greg Pullman risks everything to discover the truth: Who unleashed the deadly organism? And why?
    • Daughter Am I — 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.
    • Light Bringer — Thirty-seven years after being abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Colorado, Becka Johnson returns to try to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? And why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen?
    • More Deaths Than One — Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in SE Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. At her new funeral, he sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on?
    • Grief: The Great Yearning — Not a how-to but a how-done, a compilation of letters, blog posts, and journal entries Pat Bertram wrote while struggling to survive her first year of grief. “This is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

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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.

Spending My Words Wisely

I hope you’re not expecting words of wisdom tonight — I spent all my wise words on my book.

Yep. My book. Imagine that! Although I don’t hurt from whatever popped in my thigh yesterday, I thought I should take it easy, so I spent the day inside. Writing.

It’s been years since I spent so much time in one day on a book, and it was actually fun. I had several stray scenes that I’d once written but had no idea how to incorporate into the book, and now they are all connected to the story but one. That one remaining stray scene is a sex scene that I don’t really remember writing, but I’m glad I did because I don’t have much inclination to write sex scenes anymore, and it was an important scene. So yay! The scene is already written. Problem solved.

Except for that one scene, though, I am to the point in the book where I can write chronologically again, which will be good since telling the story as it happens keeps me in the story.

One thing that might be disappointing is that so many of my minor characters are more caricatures than fully rounded characters, but since most of them are going to disappear, does it matter? Besides, the story is from a single point of view, and since the hero was the group outcast and scapegoat, there wasn’t really much opportunity for him to get to know them.

Since the beginning of March when I embarked on this personal novel writing month, I have added a good 3,000 thousand words to the story, though I still have a minimum of 15,000 to go. I worry that the book will be too short — generally stories that take place in alternate or fantasy worlds are rather long, but those books are usually also told from multiple points of view with multiple subplots. But when you have a single main character, once that character has changed to become what the story needs him to become and has done what the character needs to do, the story must come to a close.

Meantime, my hero has embarked on a journey, so there is still a long way to go, both in the writing and in the story.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Here is a very brief excerpt from my book that amused me today:

Unable to see more than a few inches in front of him, he stopped. He felt a hard push on his back and realized the sheep was prodding him with a hand-like hoof. Or a hoof-like hand. His brain seemed to skip a cog, and for a moment he had the light-headed feeling that none of this was real—not this world, not the storm, and certainly not the sheepish humanoid. Another prod from the sheep. The cog slipped back into place, and he bowed under the weight of reality.

 

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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.

Polka-Dotted Loin Cloths

I have my decade-old manuscript open on my laptop, so the first thing I see when I lift the lid is the last thing I wrote. And this is what greeted me today:

The polka-dotted loin cloths and cave girl outfits did not disappear, but Bob did.

Seeing that sentence amuses me and makes me excited about working on this new/old book. Not excited enough to actually write, you understand, but enough to keep me thinking about writing. Still, any kind of excitement when it comes to my writing is a good thing.

Actually, I have been writing a few words each day — nothing immortal, just brief bits to connect stray scenes. Much of what still needs to be written are the day-to-day activities of the characters, with enough interaction between the secondary characters and the hero so you get to understand them and their group roles and perhaps care when they meet their ignominious end.

After that, there is the whole last part of the book where the characters that remain find a place to settle down before they are whapped with one final horror.

But, until then, a whole lot of daily details need to be written. Thousands of words worth.

You never know — I might actually write a few of those words today.

Well, perhaps later.

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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.

Day Body, Night Mind

I never considered myself either a day person or a night person, and now I see why. I’m both. Or neither.

It seems as if physical activity suits me more in the morning. Before taking dance classes, when my times of exercise were at my discretion rather than scheduled classes, I always preferred to stretch and do weights first thing, then immediately go out walking in the cool of the day.

And mental activity suits me more at night. Late at night, when my brain comes awake, acuity and creativity are stronger than any other time, which is why, when I wrote, I always wrote at night.

Sounds good? Right?

Well, no. It was fine when I was younger and not so physically active, but now my poor tired body shuts down before my brain awakens.

Oddly, though I have trouble falling asleep at night, I have no trouble at all dozing off when I want to do something intellectual. Last night, I actually fell asleep while I was writing. Doesn’t bode well for my writing career!

Still, I did manage to add a few words to the poor moribund manuscript. Now let’s see if I can stay awake long enough to add a few more words tonight before I collapse.

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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.

On Writing: Potential Discrepancies

In a scene in my work that’s still not progressing, I have my characters roaming a hostile landscape in nothing but Tarzan and Jane outfits. Until a few days ago, they wore their normal clothes, including shoes.

Keeping that in mind, can you spot the potential discrepancy in the following excerpt?

Faint screams became deafening as Chet approached. Christopher rolled around on the ground, ignoring Francie’s pleas to hold still. The others huddled off to the side. The eyes they turned to Chet had a blankness in their stare.

Chet rushed to Francie’s side. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. He tripped and fell an hour ago, or maybe two minutes or two hours. Out here, there seems to be no time.”

“Did he break a bone?”

“No. He looks fine, but he won’t stop screaming.”

Chet knelt on one knee by Christopher, then immediately jumped up, his kneecap burning as if impaled with a thousand splinters. Gritting his teeth, he limped to a hassock-sized rock, perched on the edge of it, pulled his knee to his chest to study it, but could see nothing out of the ordinary.

“. . . wrong?” Francie said, the rest of her words drowned out by Christopher’s screams.

Chet glanced at her and found her looking at him, a crease of concern between her brows.

“I don’t know what’s wrong.” He exaggerated the words so she could read his lips, and touched his knee to show here where he hurt. The touch made him gasp with pain. He turned his knee toward the sun to get a better look, then he saw them—hundreds of tiny blond filaments sprouting from his skin. They came out easily; the hard part was finding them all. What were they? Leftovers from a furred plant that had disintegrated in the heat? Not that it mattered where they came from. Just something else to watch out for.

When he could finally touch his knee without hurting, he hunkered by Christopher’s side and began removing the filaments. Francie’s eyes grew wide with comprehension, then she too set to work.

Christopher’s screams subsided to sobs then whimpers.

I’m sure you didn’t spot the discrepancy. In fact, I didn’t either at first. So, here’s the problem: they aren’t wearing shoes now, right? And had been wearing them until a few days previously? Which meant their soles weren’t yet acclimated to walking barefoot. Then why didn’t all the characters feel the splinters on the bottoms of their feet?

That’s as good a starting place for today’s writing session as any. Now I just need to figure a way around the problem. And hope there aren’t any more potential discrepancies.

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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.

Marching Along

March begins tomorrow, and suddenly, it feels as if the the months are speeding by too fast. January seemed about three months long, and February about three days. At the rate I’m going, March will feel like three hours, and that is not enough time to do everything I need to do. Like print out more information about campsites and such for my May trip. Like get strong enough for a short backpacking trip. Like convert a bit of fat into muscle. Like work on my poor abandoned book.

In January, when I decided that March would be my novel writing month and marked “book” on my calendar, I felt as if I had forever to get in writing shape, and suddenly, here I am on the cusp of the month, and all I’ve done to prepare is drag out my printed copy of the manuscript.

I truly have no specific intentions other than to spend a bit of time every day focused on the book and maybe move the story along a bit. I have no word count goals, not even any expectation of finishing the book. I should be able to do that, right?

We shall see.

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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.

Una Tiers Interviews Madame ZeeZee

Interview by Una Tiers, author of LETTUCE READ WILLS, DOROTHY DAISY, NOT SAFE FOR THE BANK(ER), JUDGE vs NUTS, and DIE JUDGE DIE, available at http://amzn.to/1cOxMz6

I want to introduce you to my fellow writer, Pat Bertram. She has authored several books and is a particularly generous person when it comes to helping authors. Today I’m interviewing one of her most recent characters, from her book, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare.

Welcome, Madame ZeeZee, and thank you for taking time to sit down with us. For those who aren’t familiar with you, you run a successful dance studio where there was a recent murder of one of your students. Since that time, inconsistent stories about you have surfaced. I’m certain you would like to set the record straight.

Inconsistent stories about me? I never heard any. Too busy with my studio, I guess.

We notice that you don’t advertise for new students. How do people find you?

At the beginning, it was word of mouth, but after the murder and all talk on Facebook and Twitter and the local newspaper, I got a lot of new people. Most left after a few classes. People today have no discipline. They think they can come to class and start dancing with the group without even learning the steps.

Madame, rumors are that the dance studio is owned by a reclusive retired movie star who values her privacy. Please give us a hint of who it is.

Retired movie star? No. Retired professional dancer? Yes. You want a hint of who owns the studio? It’s me. And I’m not reclusive. I just like being quiet when I go home after work.

While you’ve always denied being related to Shirley Maclaine, are you sticking to that story?

Of course I’m sticking to that story. It’s the truth. I’ve danced with Shirley, but I’ve danced with a lot of other people, too, like June Allyson and Dick Van Dyke.

You rarely dance with your classes. Do you practice alone or take classes elsewhere?

My dream is to go back to Hollywood and take classes when I retire from my studio, but it’s too long a commute from Peach Valley. I do dance with my classes, especially the more advanced ones. We perform at luaus in the summer and on various other occasions, so if you know anyone who’d like to hire us, let me know.

We understand you’ve been married several times, would you tell us the number or if it is indeed over twelve?

What? You must have me mixed up with another Madame ZeeZee. I’ve only been married twice.

Would you ever relocate for love?

No. I’m happily married. And even if I weren’t, I wouldn’t relocate for love. I’m too independent, I guess. Besides, my house is exactly the way I like it, and I intend to stay there until the end.

How many countries have you lived in as an adult?

As an adult? One. Maybe two depending on how you define “lived in.”

In the book, Pat seemed to blame herself for the deaths of your dancers. Do you blame her, too?

Pat thinks too much. She needs to learn to just let things go. If I blamed her, I’d have to blame myself and all the rest of us who talked about killing Grace, but it wasn’t any of our fault. Well, except for the murderer. She was totally at fault.

If you could choose one author, living or dead, to read about your story, who would it be?

Pat Bertram, of course, but she wouldn’t need to read about my story because she wrote it.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes. Never stop dancing.

Thank you, Madame Zee Zee.

And thank you all for visiting with Madame ZeeZee and Una Tiers. Be sure to check out Interview with Fiona Gavelle, a Character in “Judge vs Nuts” by Una Tiers.

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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.