Now Interviewing Authors

I was talking to someone who writes childrens’ books. He has a publisher, but is on his own to find an artist. He said he hates working with artists, that they make him want to pull out his hair. I understand because I feel the same way about writers. (Except for you, of course!)

I have a couple ofearf blogs where I promote other authors because . . . To be honest, I forget why. Maybe because I thought by helping other authors, the karmic energy would help catapult my books out of obscurity, but it didn’t work that way. And now doing the author interviews has become a bad habit.

I’ve been posting a lot of such interviews lately, and oh, my. I have come to believe that authors don’t know how to read. Or maybe they have such an overweening sense of entitlement because of their “talent,” they think the directions don’t apply to them. Whatever the reason, too many of them don’t follow directions, give only half the required information (such as book title), leave off the questions and post answers that make no sense without the questions, and the most heinous sin of all — write boring responses.

I’d mostly been taking a break from this self-imposed task, so I thought I’d be able to handle the idiocies of it once again, but apparently not. Of course, it could be I’ve just gotten too crotchety to take lightly the idiocies of the world.

I like being nice, but not when being nice makes me feel . . . not nice.

Still, I do have the blogs, and I do have the time, so if you wish me to interview you, and 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.
Click here to Let me post your excerpt!
And please, please click here learn How To Do an Online Interview

I promise I won’t be crotchety. At least not much.

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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.

Collaborating on an International Novel

Yesterday I wrote about collaborating on the Rubicon Ranch mystery series, but that wasn’t the only collaboration I’ve done. I also worked on Break Time with authors I met online, some of whom were good friends of mine even though we have never met. Break Time was supposed to be similar to the Rubicon Ranch series, where the authors took turns writing chapters, with each round of chapters delving deeper into the mystery and the relationship with the deceased and the other characters. Because we had decided on a time travel and Steampunk theme for Break Time, the characters lived in different eras. It was hard to intermix the individual stories as we did for Rubicon Ranch, so in the end, Break Time was published as an anthology, with each story being connected by my character’s story.

Break TimeMy character, Flo Giston was the widowed daughter-in-law of the time traveler. She is grieving the loss of her husband Robert, but when she goes back to the past for the second time, she is shocked to realize how her feelings have changed. In this excerpt, she is standing outside the house, watching her husband, her past self, and the Gistons:

So far, the Gistons hadn’t noticed her, and perhaps it was just as well. Robert had never seemed to be able to handle one of her; two might overtax his feeble imagination.

Horrified at the direction of her thoughts, Flo slipped back into the lab. She’d loved Robert dearly, had mourned him twice, so what prompted her to be so dismissive of him now? Remembering how besotted she’d been, she wondered if love hadn’t been the blessing she’d always presumed it to be, but had instead been a prison, keeping her emotionally shackled to a man for whom she had little respect.

They’d had a good life, though, and had only lived with the older Gistons for two years until Robert had saved enough to buy a starter home in Sun City, a new village on the eastern plains of Colorado. Robert appreciated the proximity to his parents’ place, but Flo loved the house itself with all its new appliances run by steam from a nearby plant.

The sex had also been good. She’d always enjoyed the small buzz of pleasure she’d felt in her husband’s arms. Then an appalling idea hit her. What if the sex hadn’t been good? Robert had been the only man she’d ever made love with, so she had nothing to compare the experience to except the romance novels he hated her reading. She’d always suppressed her passionate impulses since Robert had been satisfied with a quick in and out every Saturday night, but what if there were more to love—and life—than what she’d shared with her husband?

She put a hand to her mouth to stifle a gasp. What would the rest of her life be if death hadn’t parted them? Would she have been the anxious dowd she saw on the porch with Robert, or would she have turned into her mother-in-law, hiding her intelligence and passion behind increasingly vibrant raiment?

While all the authors of the Rubicon Ranch writers were from the USA, the Break Time authors spanned the English-speaking world — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, western USA, central USA, southern USA. Now that I think of it, Break Time was an incredible accomplishment — a truly international book. You can buy Break Time at Amazon.

About the authors of Break Time:

Joylene Nowell Butler, Metis Canadian, lives in Cluculz Lake in central BC with her husband and six stray cats. In her spare time, she teaches T’chi.

Dale Cozort, a computer programmer, lives in a college town near Chicago with his wife, daughter, three cats and a lot of books. He is a long-time science fiction fan and writer.

Suzanne Francis has written two series of novels set in a fantasy universe of her own creation. British born, she presently makes her home in Dunedin, New Zealand.

J. Conrad Guest lives in Michigan and is the author of seven novels including the time travel novels, January’s Paradigm, One Hot January, and January’s Thaw.

J J Dare is a native of Louisiana and has been an author since age seven. Love for the amazing worlds the written word opens up keeps Dare writing, mostly mysteries, thrillers, and dramas.

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA.

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.

 

Collaborating on Writing a Mystery Novel

Someone asked me today how it was possible to do a book collaboration with people I’ve never met. The simple answer is “email,” but that is really no answer because it leaves a lot out of the process, such as how I got the idea for such a collaboration, how I found the authors, and how we managed to write a cohesive book (three books, actually).

A few years ago, I did a round robin with a group of writers, where we each took turns writing the story. It was fun and frustrating at the same time because it seemed as if some of the authors tried to sabotage the others by introducing silly elements. I wondered if it were possible for a group of authors to do some sort of book collaboration, but with the authors having sole control of their character to keep anyone from sabotaging what the original creator of the character might wish to do.

I broached some of my fellow Second Wind Publishing thriller writers and asked if they would be interested in doing such a project as a blog promotion. Several agreed to try the experiment.

It took a long time before a singlRubicon Ranche word was written because each author had his or her own vision of the project. Some demanded a contract for when the book was made into a movie (this was before a single word was written, mind you). Although the book was always intended to be available on the Rubicon Ranch blog, some of the authors thought we should post all but the last chapters and make people buy the book to find out what happened. I did agree to the contract, but refused to agree to cheating readers by withholding the ending.

We decided on a murder mystery, beginning with a child found dead in the desert, and continuing with each of the authors creating a character who had reason to kill the little girl. But we couldn’t agree on how to resolve the murder. Some of the authors wanted to know the killer ahead of time to make it easier to write their chapters, some wanted to be the only one to decide on the killer, some (me) wanted us to write the book first, then all decide on who did what and why.

By the time we actually started writing, the whole collaboration had moved away from my original idea of a blog promotion where the writers would post their own chapters with no one having to shepherd the book through to completion, and I ended up being den mother, drill sergeant, secretary general, and editor all rolled into one. (The authors were busy so they didn’t always get their chapters done on time and often didn’t have a chance to read the previous chapters so inconsistencies kept creeping in.)

And all this was done by email. Lots of emails.

Despite various starts and stops, confusions and conflicts, we did finish the book. Although it turned out to be a good story, it was a far cry from the fun and easy collaboration I had envisioned, so I tried again with a sequel. And then again. By the time we did the third book, the kinks were ironed out, the authors got their chapters in on time (mostly), and some of them finally understood what I had originally intended, for the collaboration to be sort of a literary role-playing game.

All three Rubicon Ranch novels are available to read online at http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com.

Or, if you prefer to read on some sort of e-reading device, you can click here to download a free ecopy of Rubicon Ranch Book One: Riley’s Story in the ebook format of your choice from Smashwords.

Click here to download Rubicon Ranch Book Two: Necropieces in the ebook format of your choice from Smashwords. Only 99 cents!

Rubicon Ranch, Book Three: Secrets is coming soon!

Although the books are part of a series, with many of the same characters, they can be read as stand-alone novels.

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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.

I AM Writing

My publisher sent me a message asking that I continue to write. He said, “You’re a wonderful writer and you do no service to yourself, Literature or anyone by saying you’re not going to write; after what you endured with your family (your dad and schizophrenic bro in particular—and the story isn’t over, is it), you have the material for a companion volume to Grief: The Great Yearning —of which I still sell a lot of copies. I want you to keep writing.”

As much as I appreciate the affirmation from my publisher, my life is so up in the air right now, without anything to tether me to the earth (except perhaps my dance classes), that I don’t know if I will ever write another book, though eventually I would like to finish the books I have started, including the book about my dance class. But the truth is, whether I continue to write books or just my daily posts, whether I publish with Second Wind or simply publish on this blog, I am writing because blogging is writing, too.

Anyone who writes is, of course, a writer, though the facility of self-publishing unreadable, unremarkable, and unworthy books has fudged the lines. It used to be that “real writers” were chosen by faceless editors working for megacorporations, but now writers are chosen by themselves, leaving readers floating in a sea of gutless books. (Gutless because so many books have no core. Gutless because so many writers never really risked anything.)

It used to be that money made a writer. If you earned your living by writing, you were a writer. Sometimes it was acclaim by the self-appointed literati that made a writer. And sometimes it was fame that made a writer. But mostly, it was sales. Money.

It still is sales that make a writer . . . to a certain extent. I know many so-called writers who toss out a book they wrote in a month with little editing, and people buy the books for some unfathomable reason. (Unfathomable to me, anyway.) I know other writers — excellent writers who actually have something to say, who work at their craft, and who write the best book possible no matter how long it takes — who have few sales.

So what makes a writer? Since writing is basically a form of communication, perhaps readers make a writer. And I have readers galore — on this blog, anyway. Some of my posts have had more than 10,000 readers. (But, keeping things realistic, some of my best posts had less than 100.) Maybe it’s the ability to touch people’s lives through words that make a writer, and that I have done by being willing to open up and tell the truth about my life. I many never write a book about my dealings with my dad and brother, but here on this blog, I have already written the story as it happened.

I always wanted to be a writer, and for many years it saddened me that I didn’t have the talent. Well, by dint of hard work, I learned how to write. Even found a publisher who loved my books. I just never learned how to sell enough books to make a living at writing, so I’ve never considered myself a real writer.

But I am.

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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.

If you Like Science Fiction …

My friend and fellow author Dale Cozort, a brilliant scientist/historian who delights in playing with alternate histories, is taking part in the Kindle Scout program. I hope you will consider nominating Dale for his new science fiction book Snapshot. Dale explains:

SnapshotI’ve been working on the Snapshot universe for over five years. I think it’s a spectacular idea. Here is what it’s about:

For eighty million years, the Tourists have been taking Snapshots of Earth, exact replicas of continents. Each Snapshot goes into its own snow-globe-shaped artificial universe. Snapshots are connected like a string of pearls by vents high over their oceans.

Snapshot people and animals quickly diverge from the real world, creating a universe where humans and animals from much of Earth’s history explore, fight and sometimes meet themselves. In October 2014, the Tourists take a North America Snapshot, cutting everyone in that copy off from the real world, but letting them fly to Snapshots where dinosaurs roam, where Indians rule North America or where Soviets or Nazis rule Europe. They may also confront the menace that lurks on the other side of a wind-swept Antarctic Snapshot.

This new Snapshot catches Middle East Analyst Greg Dunne rushing toward Hawaii to join his wife, his unborn sons and his extended family at a family reunion. The Snapshot doesn’t include Hawaii, so it cuts Greg off from everyone he loves. It also thrusts him into the aftermath of a hidden, decades-old massacre, part of a struggle between Germans from a pre-World War II European Snapshot and ranchers from Korean War-era US-53 Snapshot. The prize: a thinly settled North America-sized Madagascar Snapshot, much like the Wild West or the Australian outback. Whoever controls the Madagascar Snapshot controls communications between dozens of Snapshots.

Greg struggles to survive in this cutthroat reality, to remain faithful to a family he may never see again and to find a way back to his original Earth. He is caught between powerful opponents. A rancher who rode a hidden massacre to almost unchallenged political power faces the only survivor of that massacre, a woman driven nearly insane by the experience, but now in her own position of power, plotting revenge.

Snapshot is a fast-paced story of power and revenge set in a unique, marvelously rich universe.

If this story interests you, please nominate Snapshot for Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. It’s a quick process: Click the link https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/332ZJ8YN22MIT, click ‘nominate me’ and you’re done. If Dale’s book is selected, you get a free e-book copy. Sounds good to me!

If the direct link doesn’t work for you, go to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/, then scroll down to the science fiction and fantasy section and scroll left or right until you find Snapshot.

And oh, if you like science fiction, please check out my novel Light Bringer.

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

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: https://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.

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.

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.

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.

Excerpt from “A Spark of Heavenly Fire”

ASHFborderWith all the talk of Ebola, with all the scares and scaremongering, it’s hard for me not to shudder. I’d spent years researching viruses, bioengineering, bioweapons, and human experimentation (experiments humans did on each other) for my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and though I knew what could happen, I always thought that somehow we’d be able to bypass a real epidemic. It’s still possible, though it’s also possible that by the new year, there will be 1,000,000 victims of the Ebola virus.

Here is an excerpt from A Spark of Heavenly Fire detailing some of the things I discovered in my research. Oh, my. What wondrous creatures we humans are! The red death was my own creation, based on viruses that various scientists had played around with.

Excerpt:

Greg was sitting at his computer, trying unsuccessfully to access the Internet, when he heard someone plop down in the chair behind him. Assuming Olaf had stopped by for his morning chat, Greg smiled as he swiveled his chair around.

The smile faded when he saw Clara D’Onofrio regarding him with red-rimmed, feverish eyes that glowed against her abnormally pale skin.

“Are you okay?” he asked, hoping she wouldn’t take offense.

She made a small gesture with her hand as if to brush away his concern, opened her briefcase, and removed a sheaf of papers.

“I spent most of the night researching biological weapons,” she said. “You would not believe the stuff I found. Did you know that the entire genetic code for the Black Death has been mapped, and the genetic sequences have been posted on the web?”

Greg blinked, then shook his head no.

“Also cholera and smallpox. Smallpox! Who in their right mind would mess around with smallpox? It has killed more people over the ages than any other disease, claiming at least three hundred million victims in the twentieth century alone. Why did the World Health Organization spend ten years eradicating smallpox from the face of the earth when scientists all over the world now mass produce it?”

“If they eradicated it, where did the smallpox come from?” Greg asked.

“They eradicated it in the wild, but a lot of research facilities retained samples, including Ft. Detrick in Maryland.”

Clara riffled through her sheaf of papers and plucked one from the bunch. “It says here the Russians built an underground facility capable of growing eighty to one hundred tons—tons!—of the smallpox virus every year. Get this — they modified it genetically, combining the smallpox with Ebola and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, a brain virus.”

“Jeez,” Greg said, feeling sick to his stomach. “As if smallpox by itself weren’t lethal enough.”

“Tell me about it. What’s even worse, the collapse of the Soviet Union left hundreds of biological research scientists unemployed. Many of them took the smallpox with them when they went to work for other countries like Libya, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, India, and maybe even Israel and Pakistan. And of course, the United States.

“Can you imagine what would happen if any of the new strains of the disease escaped from the laboratory? They’d travel around the world so fast and kill so many people, it would make the red death appear inconsequential.”

“No, I can’t imagine it,” Greg said. “To be honest, I have a hard time imagining the red death, even though it’s happening now. It’s too big. Too many have died. I think that’s why I focus on the puzzle aspect — who created it, and why. It’s something my mind can comprehend.”

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Until 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.)

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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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