“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.

Suspense/Thriller Writers Self-Promotion Extravaganza!

Every Saturday, I host a self-promotion extravaganza for my Suspense/Thriller Writers Group on Facebook. The extravaganza takes place in a separate group page since there is no promotion allowed on the wall of the Suspense/Thriller Writers group. So if you are an author with a book to promote or a reader who likes to find new books and great blog posts,  you can find the find the event here: Suspense/Thriller Writers Self-Promotion Extravaganza! Just click on “join” and tell us about your book. It’s an open group, so unless you want to post something, you’re free to roam among the selections. I hope you will join us today!

You already know my books, but I’m listing them here as a reminder. If you’d like to read the first chapter of any of the books, just click on the cover.

Light Bringer: Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

DAIDaughter 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. 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.

More Deaths Than One: Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her new funeral and sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on? And why are two men who appear to be government agents hunting for him? With the help of Kerry Casillas, a baffling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire: In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.

***

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.

Suspense/Thriller Writers Self-Promotion Extravaganza!

Every Saturday, I host a self-promotion extravaganza for my Suspense/Thriller Writers Group on Facebook. You don’t have to belong to the group to join the event and participate in the extravaganza, so if you are an author with a book to promote, I hope you will join us! While you’re there, be sure to check out the books of the other authors. You can find the event here: Suspense/Thriller Writers Self-Promotion Extravaganza! Just click on “join” and tell us about your book.

You already know my books, but if you are using Internet Explorer to view this blog, you won’t be able to see the cover images on the sidebar until WordPress fixes a glitch, so I’m listing them here. If you’d like to read the first chapter of any of them, just click on the cover.

Light Bringer: Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

DAIDaughter 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. 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.

More Deaths Than One: Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her new funeral and sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on? And why are two men who appear to be government agents hunting for him? With the help of Kerry Casillas, a baffling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire: In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.

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