Conversations with . . . Me!

For those of you who have read Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, you might remember Rami Ungar, the wannabe writer cop who kept bedeviling poor Pat.

Today I’m being interviewed by the real Rami Ungar, a real writer, on his blog. It was an interesting interview — for me, anyway — because his questions made me think about my two newest books and to see them in a different light. Please check out the interview here: Conversations with Pat Bertram

At the beginning of the interview, Rami mentions that we met during my cross-country trip, which is true. Rami and his rabbi father invited me to a family dinner when I passed through Ohio, and they apologized profusely for the poor fare. Because it was Passover, there were various dietary restrictions, but even if the food hadn’t been gourmet quality (it was truly delicious), I would have been delighted with the meal. I mean really — Passover with a rabbi? How cool is that! (Another couple of firsts for me: first Passover meal, first visit with a rabbi.)

There was a lot of talk that night — religion, writing, comedy, travel — but what I will always remember is the joy of that simple sentence, a strange one to me, a common one to them: “Pass the matzo.”

Be sure to check out Rami’s post for more about our visit:
https://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/a-wonderful-visit-meeting-with-pat-bertram-in-person/

If that isn’t enough information about me, you can find a previous interview here: First Conversation With Pat Bertram

And interviews with Rami: Conversation With Rami Ungar and  Meet Rami Ungar.

Whew! I’m sure there are plenty of other links connecting the two of us, but these are more than enough for now. Is it any wonder that this fellow writer sneaked his way into my book about older women dancing — and murdering?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

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Fun and Clever and Unique

I love talking about my books, though I seldom get a chance. Luckily for me, the following conversation with my sister was caught on text!

SISTER: I’m into chapter 6 of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and I have so many questions and comments!!!!!!

ME: You like it, though?

SISTER: Love it! It’s fun and clever and unique. Is the cover photo actually one of your dance mates?? Is there a Deb character in your class? How fun that you condensed your family into one representative sister and brother.

ME: Almost all the people are real. Yes there is a Deb, though she is a composite character and caricatured a bit. The first few chapters tell the true story of the story so the cover is exactly as described in the book. The woman on the floor is Grace, the one who suggested the project.

SISTER: That is so fun!

ME: Many of the conversations in the book actually took place. Buffy really did say, “I’m not the one who volunteered to be the victim.” Oddly, after the book was written, Grace asked how I picked her. She had forgotten the whole thing was her idea.

ME: Perhaps the only truly fictional character is Pat. I’m not sure she exists. 🙂

SISTER: Pat???? Are you referring to Pat in the Hat? Trust me, she’s very real.

ME: It was fun writing as me. I didn’t have to worry about a character arc. Just show my feelings. It’s amazing how much of those first chapters are as they happened.  The cops kept showing up (going to lunch at a nearby restaurant) and it was a bit freaky to see them when we were talking about killing Grace.

SISTER: And btw, it’s very surreal to be reading a book by Pat featuring a character who is Pat, while texting with Pat (the writer? the person? the character?) hah!

ME: Now you know how it felt writing the book. I kept thinking Grace was dead, and then she’d show up for class. At one point, I really did consider asking one of the lunching cops what the procedure would be if she died, and I remember thinking, “I don’t need to ask. I’ll find out when she’s dead.” The whole thing was totally surreal.

SISTER: I can imagine!

ME: Don’t be surprised if your “surreal” comment shows up on my blog.

SISTER: For the record, I don’t mind being quoted.

ME: Remember that blog I did when I asked you  if it was bizarre reading a sex scene written by your sister? Well, that is one of the highest “hits” on my blog because of the juxtaposition of those two words: s e x and sister. You would not believe how many people in the world google, “how to have s e x with my sister,” or “how to get my sister to have s e x with me,” or the ever popular, “how to f*** my sister.” Truly bizarre.

SISTER: OMG, that is wild. And in the vernacular of today: ew

ME: I know. Totally ew.

Let’s hope this blog doesn’t have the same ew factor.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Killing Grace

Even though it took me along time to decide to write Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare (killing off one’s friends a good way to lose those friends, and I don’t have any to lose), and even though it took even longer to actually sit down and write the book, the writing itself was easy. I used whatever happened in class for inspiration, and if that failed me, I asked one of the characters what she would like to do, and if that failed, I wrote me writing the book. That was fun! Here is one such excerpt:

***

In every mystery story, it seems, there comes a time when the author wants a way to present insights, needs to show state of mind, or simply gets bored with a straightforward narrative and plays at being creative, so the storyteller recounts a dream.

Since I hate dreams, my own included, I usually skip those parts of a book, so I won’t bore you with the details of my dream. Suffice to say that early Wednesday morning, long before the sun gave any indication of wanting to rise, I dreamed I was Grace grieving the death of Pat. I carried the belief I was Grace into the first moments of waking, and for a second I didn’t know if I were Grace grieving for Pat or Pat grieving for Grace.

In the aftermath of that strange duality, when I came fully awake, I lay there wondering about my connection to Grace, wondering if somehow my talking about her death had brought it about. I no longer thought Grace existed in some sort of quantum state, both alive and dead, and all we had to do was find a way to observe her and she’d magically appear back in the studio, smiling up at us, asking why she reclined on the floor.

I do know that anything is possible, that at our most infinitesimal level, way beneath cellular construction and even atomic configurations, we are created from discrete patterns of nothingness held together by a force of energy that could destroy—or build—the universe. Our senses, and ultimately our brains, translate those waveforms into what we see, hear, taste, feel, know.

That is what we have to contend with in our daily lives—what we know. And I know Grace is dead.

(Grief is not always so conciliatory. I know Jay is dead, but I also know he is at home waiting for me. It’s why I continue to hang around this California desert town though I have no real reason to stay now that my father is gone—I’m reluctant to return to Colorado and confront the foolishness of my belief.)

What do I know other than that Grace is dead? Not much, to be honest, though I do believe someone else was involved with her death. There have been times when one or another of us students slipped on a slick patch of the studio floor, so a fall would not be particularly mysterious, but if Grace had hit her head on the barre hard enough to knock herself out, she would not have been able to arrange herself in the position we found her.

So that left me with three conclusions: someone killed her and arranged the scene; someone killed her and Grace managed to drag herself into position during her final moments; or someone found Grace unconscious, moved her, and left her to die.

But why? How could Grace’s death have made a difference to anyone’s life? I’ve heard it said that there are three main motives for murder—sex, power, and money. I suppose sex could be a motive for the murder of a long-married seventy-five year old woman, but it seemed farfetched to me, especially since she appeared to be devoted to her husband. Whatever money Grace had belonged to both her and Charlie so I didn’t see financial gain as a possibility for a motive, either. And power? What sort of power could Grace have exerted on anyone, or someone exerted on her? I thought of Deb eagerly slipping into Grace’s spot at the front of the class, and I wondered if the desire for that sort of power, so insignificant to the rest of the world, could have made Deb want to do away with a woman she might have considered a competitor.

Knowledge, of course, is power. Perhaps Grace had discovered a secret, but among our assorted classmates, who could have a secret so powerful that only murder would protect it?

I hoped the police would find the truth soon, because the dream made me uneasy. If I couldn’t distinguish between myself and Grace, is it possible others saw the same connection? Could I be next on the murderer’s list?

I got out of bed and dressed for the day, vowing to protect myself. But against whom? Margot, the woman Buffy had picked out as the perfect murderer? Or maybe Buffy herself, a woman who knew too much about the ways and means of murdering?

***

Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare for those who love fun, dance, murder, mystery, older women who live with all the verve and nerve of the young, and me! (The main character is named Pat.)

Click here to read the first chapter of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

Click here to buy Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

 


***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Women With Verve and Nerve

I got a great compliment the other day. A friend I’d named “Jackie” for Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare (I gave all my classmates aliases to protect the innocent and not so innocent) texted me with the message: My cousin phoned me and called me Jackie when I answered. She had read the whole book, loved it, and said that you really had me perfect. So — in my world, you are a big success.

Such great words to hear! I wanted to show older women living with verve and nerve, and I tried to make the characters sound as close to their real life personas as possible, and it nice to know I succeeded.

I don’t know if you can tell much about Jackie from the following excerpt (it seems to be about me more than her), but this is a fun snippet (and from what I remember, the conversation in real life happened exactly as written here:

Class had started during my musings, and I’d automatically followed along with what my classmates were doing until I heard Madame ZeeZee’s sharp, “Point your toes!”

I knew she meant me, and I sighed. I don’t know what I’d hoped for by taking ballet—maybe grace or strength. Even if I were young and slim, I could never become a ballerina. I don’t have a ballet body, or even ballet feet. I have a hard time pointing my toes, and when I stand on the balls of my feet, my heels barely lift off the ground. Luckily, dancing was like writing. I could practice over and over, trying to get it right.

We did chaine turns across the floor, and most of us stumbled as we tried to keep our balance, but Jackie spun like a top, doing a dizzying number of turns. Jackie McDerr looked like a Buster Brown doll with strong cheekbones, bright eyes, and salt and pepper hair cut straight just beneath her ears. She’d taken ballet classes for decades, and I comforted myself with the thought that maybe ten or twenty years hence, I too, could spin across the floor instead of making the few wobbly turns I now managed.

At lunch after class, most of us drooped wearily onto our chairs, but Jackie sat straight and cheery as always. “So, Pat. Have you started to write the book?”

I thought of lying, meeting her perky question with a perky response of my own, but all I managed was the feeble truth. “Nope. Not a word. There’s still so much I haven’t figured out. Everyone needs to have a secret that’s unveiled in the book, but I don’t want to reveal anyone’s real secrets, so I’d have to make something up. And I’m afraid of hurting people with my fictions.”

I imagined a conversation that might result from an untruth:

Husband: Character B is you, right?
Character B: Yes. Isn’t this great?
Husband: And it’s based on your life.
Character B: Yes, but it’s fictionalized.
Husband: So who is this guy you’re having an affair with?
Character B: I am not having an affair.
Husband: You said Character B is you.
Character B: It is. A fictionalized me.
Husband: And Character B is having an affair.
Character B: Yes, in the book I am having an affair.
Husband: So who is he? Do you want a divorce? Is that what you’re saying?
Character B: No. I’m saying I’m character B.
Husband: Do you want to leave or do you want me to leave?

“It’s a big enough responsibility shaping one’s character’s life,” I said, “and to have the real person influence the character. Having the character influence the real person’s life is more responsibility and guilt than I can handle.”

“Maybe it doesn’t have to be a secret, even a made-up secret.” Jackie took a bite of her vegetarian burrito and chewed it slowly. “Maybe you in the book can find out things about us that you in the real world don’t know.”

I took a second to unravel that convoluted sentence. “But how could my character find out things that I don’t know in real life? And what sort of things? They’d have to be relevant to the story.”

“Well,” Jackie said. “Something you don’t know is that I’m a pilot. Maybe that would have some relevancy.”

“Cool!” Rhett shot a fist in the air. “You can fly me to the Philippines to kill my husband, and no one will know I went there.”

Jackie looked from me to Rhett and back to me as if she couldn’t decide if Rhett were being facetious. I shrugged, unable to guess how far Rhett would go to get her way. Nor did I know how far her frankly-my-dear attitude carried her. Did she really not give a damn, or was the attitude merely a conceit she’d adopted because of her name? Maybe it worked the other way—the attitude came first, and then the name.

The whole murder project suddenly seemed impossible. I thought I knew these women I danced with, but I didn’t know them at all. I didn’t even know if the names I knew them by were their real names or nicknames. Or aliases.

What secrets were they hiding behind their innocuous names?

***

Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare is the perfect gift for for those who love fun, dance, murder, mystery, older women living with all the verve and nerve of the young, and me! (The main character is named Pat. Coincidence? Perhaps not.)

Click here to read the first chapter of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

Click here to buy Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Don’t Annoy Me

A friend sent me this mug, and though I laughed at the sentiment, it doesn’t apply to me. I don’t put people who annoy me in my books — I’m more apt to walk away from them, and if I can’t, then I try to ignore them, and if I can’t do that, then I carp about them. (If someone annoys me online, I simply unfriend the person.)

Besides, it’s only when I am near such people that I find them annoying. When I am by myself, they disappear. To put annoying folk in a book would give them a bigger place in my life than they deserve. I’d also have to think about those people, and that is no fun at all!

And then there’s the whole thinking-makes-it-real philosophy. Supposedly, you can make things come true if you visualize them in the smallest detail. If you kill someone in a book, you’re definitely visualizing the act and all the details, so does that mean it could happen? If not, does it mean that the whole visualization technique of making your dreams come true is flawed? (It seems so. It’s never worked for me, anyway.)

The one time I did create a fictional death for someone I knew (I mean someone I know; she isn’t past tense yet!) I had a hard time convincing myself to write the story. Even though it was her idea, I worried that my thinking about the murder would make it happen for real. When I finally did decide to go ahead with the project, I made my internal conflict about killing her part of the story. And it turned out to be a fun book. (That novel, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare is now available for Christmas gift shopping!)

Despite all that, poor “Grace” was never one of those who annoyed me, and by making the book more about me than her, I managed to slide past the necessary visualizations. And oddly, one or two people who did annoy me no longer did after I put them in the book. I guess by writing about them and their quirks, they became understandable.

That gives me another reason not to put people who annoy me in a book. Do I really want to understand such folk? I mean, they are annoying!

Still, now that I have the mug before me, I’d suggest not annoying me. You never know — it might give me ideas.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Peachy Keen

The tenth anniversary of my birth into the online world, the tenth anniversary of my dipping a toe into the blogging stream, passed by unnoticed. For all those years, the internet was a place of refuge for me, a way of both slipping away from and embracing the traumas of my life. For an entire decade, I had to care for the sick and dying; grieve the deaths of loved ones; handle the loss of homes, friends, hopes, and security; deal with the pulverization of my wrist, arm, and elbow. And I survived it all.

Now, this virtual place of refuge has become less of a haven and more of morass of passions, opinions, issues, and divisiveness, making me feel estranged in this oh, so strange non-land. During the decades I lived with Jeff, I had no fear of delving into the truth and voicing my thoughts no matter how far out of the ordinary because they were always received with his respect and understanding. I have tried to continue the path of truth, but in an indoctrinated world, a world where propaganda rules and reason is trumped by passion, I have been rendered mostly mute, which is okay. It’s better for my sanity if I live in the world in I see before my own eyes rather than the world reflected in the vitriolic eyes of the unsocial media.

It’s also better for me to live with my own emotions, not just online, but offline. When my own wild emotions — grief, anger, fear — began to fade, I still felt as if I were drowning in sorrow. Other people’s sorrows. Staying away from those particular people and their problems (no matter how cold that makes me seem) has brightened my life considerably.

Someday, I am sure, I will take to blogging regularly again. Someday . . . when I have something to say.

Meantime, I am trying to wean myself away from Facebook, trying to empty my mind of extraneous thoughts (though, to be honest, my mind is already mostly empty), and trying to enjoy my unlonely solitude — when I am alone, that is. I still take frequent dance classes, and once in a while I even go on a small adventure, most recently to pick peaches in an orchard less than three miles from where I am staying.

(I had to smile at the discovery of the peach orchard. In my latest book, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, I called this community Peach Valley and commented, “nope, no peaches, and not much of a valley, either.” I sure was wrong about that!)

I still have no clue where my life will lead me but there is so much of the country I haven’t seen, so much I haven’t experienced, that I am contemplating another long trip after my hand is completely healed. (The fake elbow works fine but the hand and wrist still don’t always behave, and sometimes they are very painful, though for the most part, they do what I need them to do.)

But for now, there is dancing.

And fresh peach cobbler for dessert.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Story of a Cover

Despite my hesitation about writing a murder mystery starring my dance class (killing friends is a good way to lose friends), I wanted a cover for the as yet unwritten book to help ease me into the project. Grace, the woman who’d volunteered to be the victim, agreed to be the cover girl.

On Tuesdays, ballet comes first, then Arabic. One Tuesday, we were just finished practicing our final combination of ballet steps—glissade, arabesque, pas de bourrrée, assemblé—when Grace arrived, already dressed in her green and beige silk belly dance skirt.

I waved at the older woman. “I brought my camera. I need a photo of your corpse. Will you play dead for me?”

Grace laughed. “Sure. Where do you want me? Over there by the barre?”

I glanced at the corner of the studio she indicated, and shrugged. “Sure. Anywhere is fine.”

I’d expected to have to take several shots to get the pose I wanted, but Grace sank to the wooden floor as gracefully as she did everything else, and lay in the ideal pose.

Right then I knew I could kill Grace. She was just too damn perfect.

And now, finally, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare,my sometimes amusing, always riveting novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class is available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

***

Pat Bertram is the author of four other 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.

Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

I didn’t want to kill Grace—it was her idea. I’ve literarily massacred hundreds of thousands of people, so it shouldn’t have been difficult to do away with one petite older woman, but the truth is I couldn’t think of a single reason why I—or anyone—would want Grace Worthington dead. Though most of us humans frown on murder, we do grudgingly admit some folks are so villainous they need to be eliminated, but no one would consider Grace a villain. She is charming, kind, with a smile for everyone, and the ghost of her youthful beauty is still apparent on her lovely face.

Besides, killing a friend is a good way to lose that friend, and dance class would not be the same without Grace.

I was still trying to make up my mind about killing Grace when several of us dancing classmates met for lunch. After nibbling on salads and sandwiches, we rose and gathered our belongings. I’d hung my dance bag on the back of my chair, and I yanked the bag with more force than I intended. The bag swung out and narrowly missed hitting Buffy Cooper, a tanned, elegant blonde a couple of years older and a couple of inches shorter than me.

Buffy deadpanned, “I’m not the one who volunteered to be the murder victim.”

That cracked me up, and right then I decided I had to follow through with the project. I mean, really—how could I not use such a perfect line?

I turned to Grace. “How do you want me to do the deed?” Since she’d initiated this lethal game, I thought it only right that she got to choose the means of her demise. So much fairer than the way life works, wouldn’t you say? I mean, few among us get to choose our own end. Life, the greatest murderer of all time, chooses how we expire, whether we will it or not.

Grace laughed at my question and said she didn’t care how she died.

But I cared.

Death is often messy — and smelly — with blood and body wastes polluting the scene, and I did not feel like dealing with such realities, especially not at Madame ZeeZee’s Dance Academy.

So begins the story of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, my sometimes amusing, always suspenseful novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class.

Now available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

***

Pat Bertram is the author of four other 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.

“Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare” is Now Available!

Killing friends is a good way to lose friends, even if the murder is for play. When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Then the murders begin. Tapped by the cops as the star suspect, author Pat sets out to discover the truth curtained behind the benign faces of her fellow dancers. Does one of them have a secret she would kill to protect? Or is the writer’s investigation a danse macabre with Pat herself as the bringer of death?

This sometimes amusing, always riveting novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class is now available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare 

***

Pat Bertram is the author of four other 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.

End of the Great Yearning?

My last upsurge of grief came exactly one month before the seventh anniversary of Jeff’s death. That upsurge was so severe, my grief felt raw, as if he’d recently died. I feared a terrible month leading to the anniversary, but there were only a few moments of sadness after that horrendous day. In the two and a half months since the anniversary, I haven’t experienced much emotion, either sad or glad. (Hence the sporadic blog posts.)

It’s as if the great yearning that gripped me for the past seven years took a sabbatical. There’s been no particular yearning to go home, no unbearable yearning to see Jeff once more, no yearning to know where he is or if he is. There’s been no yearning for adventure, no yearning for experiences to prove that I still exist, no yearning for meaning or knowledge or wisdom, no yearning for an end to the loneliness. There hasn’t even been any yearning to express myself. Just a barely swinging emotional pendulum and a quasi-quiet mind.

I thought this hiatus from yearning was due to my arm — not just the shock of the fall, the months of pain, and the horror of having a deformed arm (if you could see my arm, you probably wouldn’t notice the deformity, but what I see and feel is far from normal), but also the torpid backlash from the highly traumatic experience. For more than four months, I’d been mostly housebound and isolated, and I thought the restricted life helped me welcome aloneness. Recently, though, I read that in year eight of grief, people begin to feel a little tired of working so hard that they let go of the busyness, pull back, and go in their alone zone. Apparently what I thought was a stage of my physical healing was actually a stage in my grief healing, though I suppose it could be both — coming to terms with the physical trauma could have helped me come to terms with the residual loneliness of grief. (If this woman’s timeline holds true, next year I will be ready to question my old dreams and start new ones. These dreams are supposed to be magical because they will be from the new me.)

Whatever the reason for this equability, this lazy pendulum swing, this hiatus from yearning — whether it’s due to the destroyed arm or the grief timeline — it’s been . . . different. I’ve been indulging my indolence because . . . well, because . . . why not? Nothing pulls at me. Nothing pushes me. I’m sure some day adventure, responsibility, or need will call to me once more but for now, simply living is enough. After my long months of isolation, I’m gradually picking up my life where I left it when I fell — taking an occasional walk, going to dance classes now and then. Next week I will probably be back at all my dance classes (with a third ballet class thrown in for good measure) as well as continuing my own version of physical therapy.

(The doctor hasn’t yet prescribed therapy sessions for my destroyed arm/wrist/elbow/fingers because he said all the therapist would do is sit me in a corner and have me work my immobile wrist and fingers, and that I can do on my own. Next month, though, I will probably start more advanced therapy. I’m doing well on my own — I can now drive, type, open bottles and doors, make a fist, do curls and overhead presses with a five-pound dumbbell, hold on to a ballet barre, do the requisite hand movements for Hawaiian dances — but I still have a long way to go.)

Oddly, this “active passivity” (for lack of a better term to describe my current state of mind), hasn’t dimmed my appreciation for the small miracles of living. Yesterday I went to lunch with three other women, and in the middle of the meal, it awed me to think of all the life choices and coincidences that led us — a woman born in Taiwan, one born in Singapore, one in Los Angeles, and one in Denver — to that very place.

Soon there will be a couple of more miracles in my life (and yours!) — the publication of two new novels, the first new Pat Bertram books in five years. Next month look for Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, a mystery involving my dance class, and Unfinished, a novel about a grieving woman. (I’ve read too many books where someone dies and no one goes through grief except for a brief bout of tears, or the author tosses in a single sentence about the character going through the five stages of grief, or the author completely skips the first horror of grief and picks up the story years later. I wanted to do tell the truth and show the strength that comes along with the constant tears of breath-stealing grief.)

For the moment, though, I have no real plans and no plans to get plans. I’ll just accept this (possibly temporary) lack of yearning the same way I accepted the great yearning that propelled me for so many years.

Wishing you blue skies and clear days until next time.

***

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.