The Internet, Twitter, and Other Frustrations

Frustrations abound, the most significant one being a spotty internet connection for two days. It took almost the whole day yesterday to post one not-very-interesting article. Today I’ve been trying to research Twitter and the best way to use the site. I can’t see Twitter as a way of making friends like I’ve done here on this blog and on Facebook, but several people have told me it’s a good way for an author to sell books. Of course, they have also told me I won’t sell books via Twitter because my books are not sold as cheaply as self-published books, so who knows if Twitter will make any difference in my life, but it’s worth a try.

chickenSo many things are confusing when it comes to Twitter. For example, you can only follow 2,000 people, yet the most active people on the site follow more than 10,000. (Apparently, at some point, the cap is lifted.) The limit has something to do with keeping out robot accounts and controlling spam, but it doesn’t make much sense because the number of tweets a person can tweet a day is capped at 1000. I don’t care who you are. Posting 1000 times a day constitutes spam in my opinion!

The most confusing thing is that Twitter will tell you what you are doing wrong, such as unfollowing too many people in a day, but they won’t tell you how many people you can unfollow. I can see the bewildered look on your face as you wonder why you would want to unfollow someone you followed. Well, once you hit 2,000 followers, apparently you can’t add more until you have approximately that many following you, so if you want to follow someone specific, you have to unfollow someone else.

There used to be a service called TwitCleaner that would tell you who unfollowed you (a lot of folks will follow you, hoping you will follow then back, and once you do follow them, they unfollow you) but Twitter changed their API (application program interface), making the service ineffective and it went out of business. Now, though, you can do some of it yourself. If you go to your twitter page and click on “following” you will see all your followers and if they are following you back. If they don’t follow you back and they aren’t someone you are interested in, they are safe to unfollow.

Another thing that is so very confusing is that you can set up your blog and various other sites to post directly to Twitter, which is what I used Twitter for — a place to automatically link my blog posts in the hope of getting someone interested in my articles. But — and this is a big but — what Wordpress posts is the title and link and your name (and theirs), and you get almost no views that way. People like color, graphics, hints of what the blog is about, hashtags (hashtags are like tags on wordpress; they give people a way of finding your posts) and if your blog post is automatically posted on Twitter, all of that is missing.

It’s like A lot of people use sites like that to post articles and comments to all their sites at once, but anything posted from hootsuite is posted outside the parameters of (for example) Facebook’s algorithms. Those algorithms are what dictates who and how many gets to see what you post, and they reward those who garner a lot of interactions. But if you post via a secondary site rather than directly to FB, your “pebble” leaves no ripples.

Then there is the egg situation. If you don’t post a photo for your profile, the empty space where your photo would be looks like an egg, hence the name “egg” for those with no profile picture. Very few people want to deal with blanks, so the general consensus is to ignore eggs. And yet, sometimes eggs are simply those with no time to fill out the information. So do you follow eggs or not?

Lots to think about while I’m waiting for the internet provider repairperson to come. And that, of course, will add to the frustrations, because you and I know the truth. When they get here, the internet will be on one of it’s “up” cycles.

But it’s all part of the game. I’m just glad I’m able to play it, frustrations and all. Maybe someday I’ll even figure out how to make all this information work for me.


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.


Pinning Interest in Pinterest

In a recent discussion about promotion for writers, someone asked what the benefit of Pinterest would be for authors.

I answered: I’m not a fan of Pinterest, so I can’t really tell you the benefits. I do know authors post all sorts of things related to their books, things they are interested in, quotes, whatever. The truth is, though, that anything you do on the internet helps get you noticed, which is a good thing. The secret is to do what is fun for you. Me, I prefer blogging, with a bit of Facebooking. I mostly use Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Linkedin to post blog links. I also used to be a major presence on a couple of now defunct social networking sites that I enjoyed.

Sherrie Hansen does a lot with Pinterest. Maybe she can help answer your question. Sherrie? Sherrie? Any thoughts about Pinterest?

I’ve known author Sherrie Hansen for several years now (online only so far), and she is someone I have grown to admire tremendously. By day, Sherrie operates the Blue Belle Inn B&B & Tea House and tries to be a good pastor’s wife. By night, she writes. I don’t know how she ever manages to do anything else, but she also keeps up with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and probably all the other networking sites, too. And she posts a perfect blog every month for the Second Wind Publishing blog. She uses many lovely photos, tells a bit about her life and how it intersects with her novels, and ends with an inspiring message. Can’t get much better than that! Question Marks and Other Things That Make You Think by Sherrie Hansen is her most recent post. Check it out.

Sherrie kindly posted the following response to my question:

I agree with Pat completely when she said, “Do what is fun for you.” I love Pinterest and think of it as a big file cabinet with color-coded folders for fun things – except that I don’t have to dig through a bunch of papers when I want to go back and find what I need.

One fun way to use Pinterest is to make a folder for each of your books and use them like a story board – pictures of people who look like your characters, links to the location where your story takes places, sites you’ve used for research, clothes of the period or style your characters would wear, basically whatever you want handy when you’re working on your book, and whatever gets you in the mood to write or helps you to visualize people and places important to the story. I’ve also tagged the style of font and photos I want to use on the cover.

On a personal note, I use Pinterest to pin things that I like – songs I want to learn so I can play them with my music group, ideas of things to make with my nieces and nephew, places I’ve traveled to or want to see one day when I’m rich, recipes to use in my tea house or at church events, garden and landscape ideas, and of course, my love of rainbows. If nobody ever sees them but me, that’s fine, because I like using it to organize the things that are important to me and to keep track of things I don’t want to forget about. If someone looks at my pin and thinks – I have a lot in common with this person, or hey, we like almost all the same things, or wow – this lady has great taste, and wants to give my books a try, that’s wonderful. And I have had that happen.

When you pin things, you can click a box to have them shared simultaneously on Twitter and or Facebook. The general rule for social media is to post 80% personal posts so that you are building relationships (which is what social media is all about), and no more than 20% business posts designed to promote yourself or your books. When it comes to sharing personal things or what’s going on in my head, or the bigger scope of my world, it’s a lot easier to quickly pin something than it is to stop and try to think of something clever to say about my day. Both are windows to your personality. Both are important… but it’s nice to have variety – and pictures for those of us who are visual learners and relaters.


Thank you, Sherrie. You’ve even got me interested in playing around with my still mostly empty Pinterest site.


Sherrie Hansen writes romance. Her novels, Shy Violet (coming soon), Blue Belle, Wild Rose, Thistle Down, Love Notes, Night & Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily & Merry Go Round are available from

“You’re Not a Writer”

I have a writer’s group on Facebook with a very narrow focus. I say right up front in the description: “This is a discussion group for the sole purpose of sharing writing tips and techniques so that we can improve our writing.” Nothing but discussions about the process of writing are allowed in the group — no promos, no links to blogs, no sharing regardless of how inspiring the shared photo/article might be, no pleas for “likes”, no discussions of how to self-publish or how to get published or how to sell books. Just writing.

bookAs people try to change the focus of the group to meet their own agendas, the list of “no”s gets longer to keep the basic intent, but there really aren’t rules. Just that single focus — sharing writing tips and techniques so we can improve our writing.

I really hate policing the group — deleting inappropriate posts and remarks. Actually, no I don’t. Since this is a group for writers, one would think they also know how to read — specifically, read the description of the group — so I do feel righteous about banning those who post promos or indulge in self-aggrandizement. Also, since this isn’t a typical online forum but my personal group, a group I’ve kept going for more than seven years, I don’t see any reason to retain discussions that have outlasted their use — for example, when someone asks a question related to their work or when the comments get personal or too repetitious. I don’t particularly like deleting these discussions, but I consider such culling good for the group — keeps it focused on what matters. Writing.

What I do hate, however, is when someone who has interesting ideas tries to subvert the group in ways that are too subtle for me to point out without my coming across as a termagant.

One such writer recently joined, and although the discussions he started were lively, his comments were geared toward his writing career. I deleted one discussion that talked about his achievements, agent, and publisher, more out of irony than anything else. He had posted a nasty comment about a promo that I hadn’t deleted fast enough to suit him (I have a life, folks! Well, dancing), and his discussion itself was a barely concealed promo.

He emailed me, demanding to know where his discussion went. I explained that this was a group to discuss writing, not the business side of publishing. I mentioned that many discussions were left up only a short time, and that in fact, I often deleted my own discussions in the interest of fairness. Things settled down for a while until I noticed an appalling response he left for someone else. Another member asked for help in finding the motivation he needed, and this fellow wrote: “If you can’t sit down and write, it’s because you’re not a writer.” Oh, my. That sure got my dander up.

So I posted a new rule to the group:

I’m adding a new rule, which should have been able to have gone unstated: any member who discourages or tries to discourage another member from writing will be removed. This is a group for all writers, from the wildly prolific to those who struggle for words, from professionals to those who are still dreaming of writing.

He commented: “That’s one more rule than I can keep up with.” His parting remark to me was that my group was like “free speech day in Red China.”

I responded: In the world out there, people may be free to say anything they want, but in here, we are kind, even if it kills us. And if it does kill us, well, there are thousands of writers here who could write a book using kindness as a weapon.

I just checked the group membership list. He’s removed himself from the group. Can you tell I’m relieved?

It’s funny that I have such a strict policy about being kind to other writers because I’ve lost respect for writers as a group. It was different for me when books seemed to be an organic thing that just appeared out of nowhere, but this whole “author as entrepreneur” movement has destroyed that illusion. I get to where the sight of book promos turns my stomach. Making matters worse is the issue of the poor editing I so often encounter regardless of who publishes the books, authors or major publishers.

And yet, and yet . . .

The process of writing is available to all, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks. No one has the right to discourage someone from writing. Besides, by keeping the focus of the group tightly on the craft of writing, I am doing what I can to improve the quality of writing in today’s books.


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.

Fishing for Life in Sacramento

I’m going to turn off my computer for the next forty-eight hours and take myself on a fishing trip. Not to fish for fish, of course — such a hobby is only peaceful for the one fishing; the poor fish are scared, hurt, and fighting for their life — but to fish for life. See what happens when I am disconnected from my usual online pursuits. (The last time I took time away from blogging, I was spending all my time with computer tech guy trying to fix a program that hogged my CPUs, so it wasn’t much of a disconnection from my computer.)

I’m planning on selling my books at a conference in Sacramento with an author friend. I’ve known her so long, it’s strange to think I’ve only visited with her once before. (We met online through our mutual publisher.)  Should be fun, just taking off for a couple of days. Seeing what I can see. Feeling what I can feel.

If you want to contact me, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you in a couple of days. Or whenever.



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.

Are Online Friendships True Friendships?

A few weeks ago, an offline friend expressed reservations about making friends online because she thought we don’t really get to know people online. An online friend also wondered about the trueness of online friendships, though she admitted she considered me a friend. And another online friend (she’s probably more of a mentor since she offers me more support than I offer her) wrote a blog about the meaning of friendship and how that applies to online friends.

digital lifeSo can you have a true relationship online? Of course, though to be honest, I rarely interact with the vast majority of my online “friends”. At one time, I thought it was important promotionally to have a lot of connections, but that doesn’t seem to hold true. Still, it is possible to make real friends online.  In some respects, these real online friendships are based on something deeper and more meaningful than offline friendships because (sometimes) we can connect directly to the mind, heart, or soul of each other. We are basically electronic beings, masses of focused energy, which is sort of what a computer is. We do have a tendency to show our best side online, but that’s not a bad thing. Besides, through numerous blog comments or facebook discussions, the truth comes out.

I have never met some of my best friends. I hope I will meet them someday, of course. (Although some of my hopes for an epic adventure are fading in light of the realities, taking a trip to meet these friends is still possible.) One drawback to such friendships is that it’s hard to hug an efriend, so such friendships to endure might have to go offline. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s enough to celebrate the wonder of knowing someone who lives on the other side of the country or even the world.

The few times I have met an online friend, there wasn’t a bit of awkwardness. It was as if we’d known each other for a long time, which was no surprise because we had known each other for a long time online.

A few years ago I met one such online friend. She came here for a book showing (I call it a showing instead of a sale because we sold so few books) and we got along well. Not only were our attitudes similar, we even dressed alike. Next weekend I will be returning the favor by going there for a book showing.

Friendships of this online/offline variety are not the neighborly sort where you run next door to borrow a cup of sugar or a pinch of salt, but I’ve never had any friends like that. Nor are they the kind who could visit you in the hospital or take you to the airport (though I’m sure they would if they were in the vicinity.) But they are still real friendships. And they are probably longer lasting than other friendships because if they move or if I move, we are still as close as the internet.


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.

Don’t Worry About Me

A night-long session with a technician from Trend Micro, the purveyor of my antivirus protection, wasn’t enough to fix the problem of the antivirus program with a high CPU usage. My computer is slow again today, and again, Trend Micro is eating all my CPUs.

Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days. I’m fine, just nursing an aged and ailing computer. (Seems to be my lot in recent years — nursing aged or ailing people and possessions.) I’m hoping to schedule another session with the technician soon, so they can find the problem.

detectiveWhen I find myself fretting over my slow slow slow computer, I remind myself that either things will work out or they won’t. I’ve already broken my streak of daily blogging, so it’s not as if it’s going to be a major problem if the machine is out of kilter for a while. Besides, a friend of mine discontinued her internet and gave away her computer and, except for a touch of nostalgia at what she used to be able to do, she seems to have suffered no ill effects. Apparently, there is life off line.

Well, of course I know that — it’s just that except for dancing, I’m not particularly fond of my current offline life. Too much to do: getting my father’s house prepared for sale, finishing my started projects, and packing my stuff. But then, if I didn’t spend three hours a day working on my blog, I’d have those hours to do what I had to do and probably wouldn’t still have all those things to do.

But don’t worry — I won’t be getting rid of the internet any time soon.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, on or off line.


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.

Did You Miss Me?

Yesterday was the first day in three and a half years that I didn’t post a bloggery. Did you miss me?

My life has spiraled out of control. Oh, nothing really bad, just a lot of little things — getting estimates on housecleaners to clean the house, arranging for a carpet and tile cleaner, scheduling window cleaners and all the myriad jobs that have to be done in preparation for putting a house on the market. Most of the arrangements are being done by the executor, but because I am here on the premises, a lot devolves on me.

BElectronic worldut that’s not why I didn’t post yesterday. If it had been at all possible, I would have taken a few minutes out of my day just for the discipline of writing, even if it had been at 11:55 pm. But at the time, my computer was being controlled by some guy in India or maybe by then it was the fellow in the Philippines. I lost track.

My computer has been running very slowly. Although I accept that as the price for using an old computer (only in the electronic world is eight years considered old age. To me, this is still a new computer), it seemed strange that solitaire was running slowly too. I wasn’t going to do anything about it because, well . . . because solitaire isn’t the best use of my time, though it is relaxing. I did a system restore to before I noticed the problem, thinking that perhaps one of the updates I’ve downloaded was corrupt, but the computer was even slower. So I checked “processes” on the task manager and discovered that my antivirus software was using all my CPUs.

To make a long story short, after eight hours of their cleaning out my computers temp files (I knew there were three or four, but there must be at a dozen), after installing and reinstalling their software several times, after doing disc cleanups and disc scans for corrupt files, they finally managed to get their program to a workable usage of CPUs at about 3:30am. Way too late to make my blog date or to do anything at all actually except fall on the bed already half asleep.

My hunch is that the program interpreted a corrupt file as a virus and tried to delete it or sequester it, and it didn’t work, but who knows. None of the people who worked on my computer knew, either. So we’ll see how it goes.

And we’ll see if I get back in the mode of daily blogging, or I will use this breaking of routine as an excuse to forego the discipline.


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.


Today I got a friend request from someone I knew online. I thought I’d friended her on Facebook years ago, but I couldn’t remember. I don’t see everyone I’m friends with since Facebook chooses what shows up in my newsfeed, and besides, I’d received a couple of other requests from people I was friends with, but who were separating out their personal connections from their author connections, so it seemed normal to me.

I accepted the friend request, and almost immediately got a message from her. “Hello.” Nothing else just the one word.

I responded, “Hi. I didn’t know you weren’t on facebook. Welcome!”

She: am sorry for me resending you a friend request it is just that i got a trojan virus on my old profile so this is my new account now

I got the gist at one glance — resending me a friend request, trojan virus — and didn’t pay particular attention to the construction of the message other than to wonder if she were using her phone to respond and didn’t bother to be grammatical. So I wrote back, “No problem – about sending me a request that is. A virus and having to start over are big problems. I’m sorry. How are you doing? No new physical ailments I hope.

I unfriended the original her since Facebook has a cap on the number of friends you can have, and there is no point in padding one’s friend numbers with defunct accounts. Then I got this message from the new account:

She: Am good and very much happy now. Do you know Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan?

I started to feel a bit uneasy. This friend would never have said she was happy now. Not that I ever knew her to be either happy or unhappy, but she would simply not have used the word in such a way. She would have offered me a bit of wisdom, would have made a philosophical remark, would have mentioned specifically how she was doing, or would have asked about how I was doing after the death of my father. A bit hesitantly, I typed, “No don’t know that person. I’m so glad you’re happy.

She: Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan? Who work for fedgov to help and support the young and old retired people, in the community department of compensation they are really helping do you got yours from him?

Now I knew something was wrong. This friend is an educated, literate woman, who writes spectacular historical novels, and she would never be so slipshod. Besides, the construction sounded similar to the spam messages I get on my blog as if the translation program the person used was faulty. So I wrote, “Email me, okay?” And then I googled Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan, found out the scoop, emailed my friend and told her what was going on. But she already knew.

I got one final fake message: “Really but i did tallk to him, because when the ups man came to deliver mine for me i did saw your name on the list of those that are going to get it too thats why am telling you if you have got yours from them?”

Apparently, this Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan or whoever is using that name, uses photos from someone’s profile (I thought he/she/it was cloning the account, but apparently it’s simpler than than that), sends friend requests to that person’s friends to try to scam money out of them. This person is offering $150,000 if you make a tax payment of $1000, and is targeting older people both online via Facebook and even by phone. So, beware of Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan or anyone offering you such an improbable deal.

This sort of scam my friend and I got caught up in is called catfishing after the 2010 documentary Catfish about an online romance that turned out to be something other than it was purported to be. Predators use catfishing as a way to trick the unsuspecting into romantic relationships, and as you can see, scammers use it as a means of trying to get money.

Actually, only the name catfish is new, the schemes and scams are old.


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.

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, 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, 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.


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.

You Matter Because

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Click here to find out more about the YouMatter campaign


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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