How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Light Bringer, my most recent release from Second Wind Publishing, stewed in my brain pan for several years before I actually started to write it. It was the first book I conceived, but I couldn’t figure out who my alien characters were, where they were from, how they traveled here, and why they came, so when other stories captured my imagination, I followed my enthusiasm. In between finishing my various novels, I worked on Light Bringer, trying to develop the idea and research the specifics. If you include my research, which I’d been doing for decades before the story ever entered my mind, you could say the idea for the book had been developing for about thirty years.

Here are some other authors’ responses to the question of how long the idea had been developing before beginning to write their stories. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Jerold Last, Author of “The Ambivalent Corpse”

It took a while for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book. In this case “a while” spanned 12 years. The major challenges for me are finding the time to write and the discipline to edit the dialogue and descriptive passages over and over until things feel right and pass my wife’s critical evaluation. I haven’t needed to spend much time on research as yet, since I’ve lived in the locations that the books have been set in.

From an interview with Guy Harrison, author of “Agents of Change”

For over a year, if you can believe it. I originally wrote Agents of Change as a television pilot script around this time last year. As an aspiring screenwriter for many years, I finally got tired of banging my head against the wall as I attempted to sell the script.

This past October, I finally asked myself “what if I wrote a novel?” I really believed in the television pilot’s concept but knew I needed to rework it for the purposes of a book. It’s darker than the television series would have been. Truth be told, I actually like it a lot better as a novel.

From an interview with Dale Cozort, Author of “Exchange”

For this particular book, almost twenty years. I know that because I came across a notebook with dated entries from when I was in my late teens outlining some of the ideas. That’s unusual for me. Most of my stories go from concept to writing within a year or two. I had the idea for Exchange long before I had the maturity or self-discipline to write it.

From an interview with Stephen Prosapio, Author of “Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum”

Funny in that this story had to “brew” quite a while, Pat. I thought up the rough idea for GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM after my first novel DREAM WAR didn’t sell to the Big Six publishers. I didn’t quite pitch it right to my agent though, and she suggested I go with another idea I had at the time (a vampire novel). Unfortunately, I got blocked with that idea and came back to the TV Paranormal Investigator angle. Pitching it a second time to my agent went much better. She gave me some great advice. Thus, GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM (GoRA) was the easiest novel to write thus far. I wrote the first draft within 3 months.

From an interview with Ellis Vidler, Author of “Cold Comfort”

Cold Comfort took about a year to write and five more to revise till I felt it was right. The first one, Haunting Refrain, took eight years to complete. I’m getting better.

From an interview with Joylene Nowell Butler, Author of “Broken but not Dead”

Too long. Someone asked me the other day about my mother and it occurred to me then that the day she died I’d written the first four pages of “Broken but not Dead”. I gave them to her to read, then retired for the night. When I got up the next morning the pages were on the dining room table with spelling corrections and a note that said she liked it very much. I didn’t realize then that she’d passed. That was October 16, 1999. It takes me a long time to write, and I don’t think it’s because I’m slow. I work on so many different projects at the same time and I like to take breaks and distance myself often.

So, How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

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What inspires you to write a particular story?

Like most writers, I’ve written the beginnings of a few books that have gone nowhere. I have zero interest in pursuing them. On the other hand, for various reasons, the books I did write took hold of my imagination and didn’t let go until they were completed. For example, A Spark of Heavenly Fire came about because of a Washington Irving quote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” I loved the idea of a woman who felt half-dead when everyone else was doing well, but in a time of dying, she came to life. Since I didn’t want to do a war story, I created a plague — the red death. I had fun with that, and the story so captured my imagination that I had no choice but to pursue it.

Here are a few inspirations other authors. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

I was inspired to write Disco Evil because I believe everyone deserves a fair go and that people who go out of their way to be nasty to others really do build up bad karma for themselves. I happen to like quest/adventures stories so that’s how Ghost Dance came about. Two of the women in Ghost Dance are based on certain stand up and be counted sort of ladies I know and love in real life.

From an interview of Malcolm R. Campbell, Author of “Sarabande”

“The Sun Singer” is about a young man’s solar journey. I wanted to look at the other side of the coin, so to speak, and write about the lunar-oriented ordeals of a young woman. Sarabande, my protagonist first appeared in “The Sun Singer.” However, I have written her story so that it can be read as a standalone novel, a woman’s story that could be whole in and of itself.

From an interview of J J Dare, Author of False Positive and False World

I was inspired to write about hidden government agendas and their devastating aftereffects when I thought about why we, as a nation, involve our resources in other nations’ conflicts. My biggest inspiration: the eternal, What if?

From an interview of Joylene Nowell Butler, Author of “Broken but not Dead”

Honestly, one day it occurred to me that there weren’t enough stories about fantastic 50-year-old women. I wasn’t quite 50, but decided that while it might be nice to be young and beautiful like Cheryl Ladd and all those other famous ladies from my era, there’s nothing quite like the wisdom and empowerment that comes with age.

I was inspired to write the book after reading some nonfiction books about contemporary domestic slavery and human trafficking.

From an interview of Sheila Deeth, Author of “Flower Child”

Actually it was a writing competition at our local writing group. The prompt was to write a short piece inspired by music, and I had John Denver’s Rhymes and Reasons spinning around in my head — For the children and the flowers / Are my sisters and my brothers… I found myself putting a childhood misunderstanding together with my adult experience.

If you’re a writer, what inspired you to write a particular story? If you’re a reader, what inspires you to read a particular story?

Introducing Joylene Nowell Butler, author of “Dead Witness” and “Broken But Not Dead”

Someone left a comment on my blog the other day, then apologized for intruding where he didn’t belong. This worried me. I wondered what I had done to make anyone feel unwelcome. Then it occurred to me that I have made so many friends here that perhaps it seems like a private blog. When you talk about the important things in life (writing, grief, life itself) you connect quickly, even though the commenters might live in such mythical places as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Georgia (USA).

Joylene Nowell Butler was one such commenter who has now become a friend. We have never met, might never meet (though I would like to), but the connection is very real. She eased a terrible time in my life with her wisdom and sympathy, with her steadfast presence. I’m ashamed to admit, I am remiss about returning the favor and visiting her blog, A Moment At A Time On Cluculz Lake, though I intend to get over there more frequently. She has insightful posts, wonderful guests, and gorgeous photos of Cluculz Lake in Canada.

Joylene is the author of suspense thrillers Dead Witness and Broken But Not Dead. In honor of our friendship and the publication of her second book, I am gifting her with a mini blog tour.

I am interviewing her today on another of my blogs. Click here to find the interview: Pat Bertram Introduces . . . Joylene Nowell Butler, Author of “Broken but not Dead.” I always enjoy hearing (seeing) how other authors view writing and the writing life. Don’t you?

Click here to read an excerpt from: “Broken but not Dead” by Joylene Nowell Butler

More than three years ago, I posted an invitation to interview characters, and she was one of the few who took me up on my offer. It impressed the heck out of me! (That was how and where we met.) Here is that interview: Pat Bertram Introduces . . . Valerie McCormick, Hero of “Dead Witness” by Joylene Nowell Butler

Click here to read an excerpt from: “Dead Witness” by Joylene Nowell Butler

Thank you for everything, Joylene. I hope you have a fantastic New Year, filled with hope and peace and many wonders.

Joylene Nowell Butler Likes DAUGHTER AM I!

If you haven’t yet met Joylene Nowell Butler online, you should. She is a delightful person, wonderful author (Dead Witness, and Broken But Not Dead), and marvelous blogger. Her blog is a great site to browse. She posts gorgeous photos of Cluculz Lake in Canada. She offers valuable information such as how to beat writer’s block. She often has guests on her blog, other authors you either know or want to know, such as A.F. Stewart, who talked about the 5 best ways to promote your books on a budget during her latest visit.

And she writes insightful book reviews. She says, among other lovely remarks, that my novel Daughter Am I is a character-driven page-turner. Every person has a distinct and endearing voice. Their very persona jump off the page. Even the character of cold-blooded killer Iron Sam comes alive in a way most writers can only dream of creating. The dialogue is sharp and concise and very believable. The descriptions are familiar, yet crisp and original. The prose are smooth and straightforward, and not once did Miss Bertram use terms or language that pulled me out of the story. I was her captive audience for three days. I could have read it faster, but frankly, I didn’t want to say goodbye to these wonderful characters. ” (Read the entire post here: Review of Daughter Am I. Be sure to read the comments! I got such a kick out of seeing people talk about my book.)

How can you not like someone who loves your book? You can find Joylene at her blog, A MOMENT AT A TIME ON CLUCULZ LAKE. Tell her Pat sent you.

Tell Them Pat Sent You

I am doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which is why I am temporarily back to blogging the way I started out — a post a day. It’s been fun; I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed blogging. I started this blog soon after I hooked up to the internet because I heard that all authors should have a blog as the foundation for promotion. I hadn’t a clue what a blog was, hadn’t any idea what blog platform to use, but wordpress seemed intuitive to me, and so I signed up — a bit timidly, I admit. That timidity didn’t last long. I took to blogging like a frog to a bog, and never looked back.

The fun of blogging comes in saying whatever you wish, but the most fun is saying something that touches people enough that you get comments and have conversations. Thank you, everyone, for making this such a great experience.

A special thank you to frequent commenters: Carol Ann HoelMalcolm R. Campbell, Carol J. Garvin, Sheila Deeth, Joylene Nowell Butler, Leesis. Not only have they helped me through a very dark time in my life, which is reason enough to salute them, they all have wonderful blogs of their own. Clicking on their names will take you to those blogs. If you leave a comment, tell them Pat sent you.

DEAD WITNESS IS WORTH EVERY PENNY by Joylene Nowell Butler

I have a very special guest today, the wonderful Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness. Not only is Joylene an indefatiguable blogger and generous friend to published and unpublished writers alike, she is a talented writer with one book published and a second on its way next year. I am thrilled that she consented to be a guest here today! Joylene says:

Have you ever wondered why you put so much time and effort into writing that story — only to receive enough rejections to wallpaper a small room?

Some writers say they write because that’s who they are. Some say it’s not a choice but a destiny. Others say it’s for the simple joy of writing a good book. I say it’s all three.

But how do you know if you’ve written a good book?

I had a conversation at my first signing that went something like this…

He picked up a copy of my book, looked it over, then set it down. “Nice cover. Dead Witness, eh? What’s it about?”

“It’s the story of a Canadian woman kidnapped by the FBI. They fake her death, make her family believe she’s dead, and convince her that if she doesn’t stay dead, the killer will go after her children.”

 “Sounds interesting.”

“It is. But what makes this story different is Valerie finds the courage to defy the FBI and go after the killer herself.”

“Sounds a bit daffy.”

“Not at all. She’s willing to risk her life to save her daughters.”

“She still sounds crazy. How much is the book?”

“Twenty dollars.”

“That’s expensive for a novel.”

“That depends on what a few night’s entertainment is worth to you.”

He shrugged and bought a copy.

The next morning he emailed to say, “Joylene, I stayed up all night reading your book. I could not put it down. Thank you for writing such a good story. Yes, it was worth every penny.”

I’ve received many responses like this since publishing Dead Witness in July 2008, but that first one – well, it was my first. Yes, I wrote Dead Witness because it was a story inside of me fighting to get out. And yes, I write because that’s who I am; I can’t imagine not writing.

Marketers tell you that you must believe in your work to be successful. But until I heard from my readers, for years (24 to be exact), I never truly believed in my ability. Those responses were a validation. If they loved my book, then it must be good. They weren’t family and friends; they had nothing to gain by lying.

One day I received a bad review, and something very special happened. Instead of becoming an emotional cripple and folding like an accordion, I realized that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I know Dead Witness is a good book, and I know I can’t please everyone.

If you’re a writer, then write. Learn your craft. Know that if you doubt your ability, time and effort will diminish that doubt. One day you’ll be overwhelmed with the most powerful and beautiful feeling ever: My book is worth every penny.  

* * *

Joylene Nowell Butler was born in Manitoba and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She attended Douglas College and Simon Fraser University. In 1992, she and her husband retired to a community in central BC called Cluculz Lake. There, Joylene wrote 4 other books and is currently working on her sixth. Her novel Broken But Not Dead will be released in 2011 by Theytus Books.

See also: Dead Witness Excerpt by Joylene Nowell Butler
                Pat Bertram Introduces Valerie McCormick, Hero of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler

Prolific Blogger Times Three

The blogosphere has spoken. For two years I have kept up this blog to little acclaim, and now that I’ve taken a step back for a short while, barely blogging once a week, I have won not one, not two, but three prolific blogger awards! So now that the blogosphere has spoken, what is it saying, that I’m more interesting when I don’t blog? That I should hurry back and refocus my energies on blogging again? I hope it’s the second. Perhaps by the end of this month I will be able to return to a more regular blogging schedule, but until then, you should check out the blogs of those who gave me the awards. They really are prolific and terrific bloggers!

 A.F. Stewart’s Blog

JaxPop, Haunted City Writer

Joylene Nowell Butler, One Moment at a time on Cluculz Lake


Congratulations are especially in order since blogging on a regular basis is giving way to microblogging on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Friendster, particularly among young people. Apparently, the long form of blogging, which tends to be 300-500 words, is way too involved and time-consuming for the younger set. Those of us over thirty are still plogging away.

And while I have your attention: are you a romantic who loves baseball? Be sure to enter J. Conrad Guest’s contest, and you might win a signed copy of his novel Backstop and a signed baseball. All you have to do is write 200 words about a romantic baseball date, either real or imagined. 200 words? Not much for all you prolific bloggers out there! Send your entry to secondwindpublishing@gmail.com.  I’ll put in a good word for you. (Now you only have to write 199 words!)

Books Make Good Christmas Gifts

Of course books make good Christmas gifts. You know that. Here’s a list of books you may not have heard of by relatively unknown writers — at least they are relatively unknown at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two or even all of the authors are household names by this time next year.

The Medicine People by Lazarus Barnhill is a deceptively lighthearted mystery with great characterization and surprising twists and turns.  Why has triple murder suspect and fugitive Ben Whitekiller returned to his hometown to give himself up? Click here to read the first chapter.

Staccato by Deborah J. Ledford is a well-orchestrated thriller about three world-class pianists, two possible killers, one dead woman and a great mental soundtrack for those who know music. Ledford draws you into her world and doesn’t let go until the final crescendo. Click here to read the first chapter.

Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire by Malcolm Campbell: Though Jock Stewart is a throwback to the Hollywood’s film noir reporters, Campbell’s delight in words and wordplay shows through the hardbitten shell, and the novel has a gleeful undertone. Click here to read: an excerpt or the first chapter.

Heart of Hythea by Suzanne Francis is an epic novel full of romance and adventure, with a strong female protagonist who isn’t always sweetness and light. Suzanne’s world is filled with colorful details and captivating characters. Click here to read a synopsis and an excerpt.

Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler is a novel of international intrigue and danger with a hero who fights criminals and the FBI to take control of her life “with every ounce of fury a mother can possess”.  Click here to read the first chapter.

Lacey Took a Holiday by Lazarus Barnhill is an unlikely romance between a man who has lost everyone he ever cared about and a womanwho has been betrayed and abused by every man she has ever met.  Click here to read the first chapter.

And be sure to check out the books from Second Wind Publishing Company. You might even see a familiar cover or two.

Sharing a Thanksgiving Day Card With You

I received this card from Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness, and decided to share it with all of you. Thank you, Joylene!

Message in a Blog-gle

When Margay Leah Justice from Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem invited me to be a guest, she said, “November is going to reflect the themes of gratitude in honor of Thanksgiving, so if you can work up a post along those lines that ties to you as a writer and/or the theme of your book, that would be great, especially if you could tie the two together.”

Of all the topics I’ve discussed during my blog tour, this one gave me the most difficulty. I have plenty to be thankful for, it’s just that I couldn’t think of a single original idea. So, what did I do? I did what I always do when I have a writing problem to work through — I blogged about it. A couple of days ago, I posted this note:

I’ve agreed to write an article about giving thanks, and I have no idea what to say. I am thankful for many things — for my online friends, for my fans (odd to think I actually have fans!), for my publisher who understands my books even better than I do — and yet it’s not the sort of article I would want to read, so I’m looking for a different angle — a hook — and not finding it.

The wonderfully generous and supportive A. F. Stewart commented: I’m thankful for art, nature, Hugh Jackman, that I have an almost zero chance of being eaten by a shark or velociraptor.

My good friend Joylene Nowell Butler commented: Giving thanks for literary critics. What would our little corner of the world be like if we weren’t aware of some literary critic ready to pounce on our books and scream bloody murder that we wrote a disgusting book! Makes me pay attention to every tee and every I.

Susan Helene Gottfried, who maintains the incredible Win a Book site, commented: turn the topic on its head. When did you FAIL to be thankful? How did that teach you the value of giving thanks?

Great ideas, all of them, but Ms. Stewart’s comment gave me my hook. I am thankful I have almost zero chance of being eaten by a velociraptor, but my hero in my poor stalled work-in-progress is in such a danger. (Or he would be if I knew what a velociraptor was.) So, here is my hook: I am grateful that I am not a character in one of my books!

I am also grateful for my blog readers. They never fail to offer support and suggestions, and they are not afraid to let me know when I am wrong.

Thank you.

You can find today’s blog tour stop here: Grateful to be an Author

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