Category: Guest Bloggers

Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram – An Indie Gems Featured Book

Pat Bertram is an accomplished author whose work I love. It’s my pleasure to welcome her to Indie Gems. Indie Gems exists to showcase  fine independently produced books and their authors. Indie Gems has a few rules, to which I will adhere. Pat Bertram and her work certainly fit the criteria for Indie Gems. Pat and I spoke about her novel, Daughter Am I. I wondered about her process as she wrote the book as well as what she had to say to upcoming writers. In addition to her wonderful books, Pat maintains a strong web presence and is  generous in helping other authors. She could give us a seminar on social media, as well as discussing her book! Here we concentrate on Daughter Am I , a suspenseful and fascinating novel.

Sandy Nathan
Indie Gems of Your Shelf Life

Daughter I Am by Pat Bertram

What is your novel Daughter Am I about?

Daughter Am I is the story of a young woman who inherits a farm from her 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.

How did Daughter Am I come to be?

Daughter Am I was the combination of two different stories I wanted to write. I’d read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, and the mythic journey so captured my imagination that I knew I had to write my own quest story. I also liked the idea of telling little-known truths about the mob, and I settled on the story of a young woman going in search of her past. As she listens to stories of old-time gangsters and bootleggers — her mentors and allies — she gradually discovers the truth of her heritage. I’ve always liked stories within stories.

How did you do the research for the book?

Read, mostly. Not all the history in Daughter Am I is from my research, though. I had an historian friend who regaled me with tales of gangsters for many years. In fact, I got to the point where I couldn’t watch a gangster film with him because he’d keep up a running commentary about all the things the filmmaker got wrong, and I’d miss half the story. I did a lot of research myself, though, and it was a special joy when I discovered something he didn’t know! Most of the information isn’t on the internet, but resides in . . . gasp! . . . books.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I had one great obstacle — me! The story came to me all in one day. Even the biggest story problem — why the gold was buried — was resolved that very night when I read a book about the war on gold. Still, even though I knew the story, it took me eleven months to write the first draft. Words come slowly to me. I’m not one who can sit down and just write what comes to mind. I have to dredge the words from somewhere deep inside.

What author influenced you as a novelist?

My biggest influence was Taylor Caldwell. She told wonderful stories that showed history in the context of fiction, and I’ve tried to do the same. She also used a hundred words when a single sentence would have sufficed, and I’ve tried to do the opposite.

What advice would you give to an unpublished author?

Write your book. Rewrite it. Edit it Re edit it. Study the publishing business. Learn everything you can about good prose, story elements, promotion. With so many millions of people out there who have written a book or who want to write a book, the competition is fierce. And, no matter what happens, keep writing.

A writer does not attain maturity as a writer until he or she has written 1,000,000 words. (I’m only halfway there.) So write. Your next book might be the one that captures people’s imaginations and catapults you into fame and fortune. Not writing another book guarantees you will never will reach that goal. It also keeps you from doing what you were meant to do.

Traditional publishing continues to struggle. How has this impacted you as an author?

The main impact comes from the sheer number of books being published now. So many people have given up the dream of their novel being accepted by a traditional publisher and have found alternatives, that an unknown author who signs with a small independent publisher has a difficult time making a name for herself. Other than that, the struggles of the major publishers haven’t really had an impact on me as an author.

What is your book promotion strategy?

I didn’t realize I had a strategy until just now. It’s simple — I promote other authors in the hope that some sort of author karma will find its way back to me and catapult me to stardom. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful writers.

More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram

What are you working on now?

Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by me and a few other authors of Second Wind Publishing.

Residents of Rubicon Ranch are finding body parts scattered all over the desert. Who was the victim and why did someone want him so very dead? Everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s life will be different after they have encountered the Rubicon. Rubicon Ranch, that is.

Who dunnit? No one knows, and we won’t know until the last chapter has been written. You can download the first book in the series free in any ebook format at Smashwords.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Pat Bertram author of Daughter Am I

I have a website — — where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my writing, and my life on a daily basis is by way of Bertram’s Blog.

All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. Smashwords is great! The books are available in all ebook formats, including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

The Magic of Social Networking by Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram

TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER IS PAT BERTRAM. Pat is the author of four acclaimed novels and a master of using social media to promote one’s books and career. Pat demystifies on-line book marketing and presents an array of social media tools for her fellow writers. Be sure and follow the links to her blogs and the resources in the article below. These lead to practical, easy to use information to make you a social media pro.  Pat’s easy, conversational style brings out the social in social media.

I absolutely LOVE Pat’s attitude. She plunges into an area that leaves so many of us confused and overwhelmed and makes it fun!

Sandy Nathan
Your Shelf

* * * * *

Writing a book was hard. Editing it was harder, and finding a publisher even harder. Waiting for it to be released after acceptance was murderous, and now promoting the book is . . .

Daughter I Am by Pat Bertram

Daughter I Am by Pat Bertram

Ha! Bet you thought I was going to say it was hardest of all — most authors find promoting to be an arduous task, but not me. I enjoy it. What’s not to like? I get to meet wonderful people and have wonderful conversations. I get to write articles about anything I want and post them all over the internet. I get to . . . well, those two points are enough. Or should be.

Goethe wrote, “What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” So, gather a bit of boldness and begin. Join sites like Facebook and Goodreads. Add friends. Take the time to get to know people by commenting on your new friends’ content, by sharing with links to some of your new friends’ articles and content. And bit by bit the magic happens.

Let me share some of the magic that has happened to me.

I was a recent guest on Dellani Oakes BlogTalk radio show, “What’s Write for Me”. Being a bit nervous, I posted articles asking for advice on both Gather and Facebook, and I received the most wonderful tips and suggestions. So when I screwed up, it was my own fault. (I stammered a bit, used too many “actually”s but overall I did okay. The worst thing was when I said, “my books are good, but everyone says that, ‘my books are good,’ so it really doesn’t mean anything.” I meant that all authors say it, so it means nothing. But it comes out completely different when you hear it because you don’t hear the quotation marks. Ah, well, all part of the learning process, and that learning process is part of the magic of boldness.)

I had the privilege of meeting Bruce DeSilva on Facebook before he became a bestselling novelist. He introduced me (virtually speaking) to his wonderful wife, the poet Patricia Smith. Or is it his wife, the wonderful poet Patricia Smith? Either way, a remarkable experience.

I managed to impress award-winning ad exec Marshall Karp with the way I promoted his stop at Bertram’s Blog during his blog tour. Still don’t know how I did that. I just thought I was having fun.

I had the honor of hosting Michael Palmer’s very first guest appearance on a blog. How magical is that?

More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram

More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram

Am I bragging? Maybe, but the truth is, I am honored to have met these people and to have shared a moment of their lives. But it would never have happened if I hadn’t created a presence on Facebook and various other social networking sites.

Creating that online presence is part of the magic. This is one time and place where you can be the person you always wanted to be. What image do you want to portray? Witty, wise, intelligent, forward thinking, funny? Down-to-earth, optimistic, casual, youthful, enthusiastic? Helpful, creative, disciplined, worldly, romantic? By acting as if you are that person, you become it. This online persona is not a fabrication, it is the better part of you, the bold part, the magical part.

You might be shy in real life, but on the internet you can be as social as you care to be, and that is the key to social networking: being social. Spamming people with mass emails is not social. Nor is setting up a profile and expecting it to run itself. You need to add friends and take time to get to know them. Update your status frequently (people love to know what you are doing, and what you are eating). Include interesting links so your new friends seek you out. Reward those who post great content by leaving a comment or participating in their discussions. You need to take an interest in them. It’s up to you. You can treat book promotion as an arduous task, or you can be bold, give a bit of yourself, and perhaps create magic.

(If you don’t know how to get to know people on Facebook, start by joining the Suspense/Thriller Writers group. It’s an active group, and you don’t need to be a thriller writer to join, because in the end, we all try to write suspensefully.)

For more information on Book Promotion, see Book Marketing Floozy.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Second Wind Publishing liked her style and published three of Bertram’s books: Daughter Am I, More Deaths Than One, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire. Her fourth novel, Light Bringer, is scheduled for release in March, 2011. Bertram blogs about writing and the writing life at and is the moderator of two online discussion groups that help both new and experienced authors further develop their craft: No Whine, Just Champagne on and Suspense/ThrillerWriters on Facebook. Her website is Pat Bertram’s Website.

EUGENIA LOVETT WEST on Literary Success, Late Blooming Careers & the Craft of Writing

I’m very pleased to welcome guest blogger Eugenia Lovett West. Eugenia has written two enthralling mysteries. The latest, Overkill, came out in December ’09. I don’t know many people of any age who have accomplished what Eugenia has––so let’s hear what she has to say.

Eugenia Lovett West

Eugenia Lovett West

Hi, Sandy. Thanks so much for asking me to blog about starting a career late in life. I hope my story will encourage writers of any age.

After a publishing gap of nearly thirty years, I decided to have a go at the mystery genre. When the rejection slips made too big a pile, I switched gears and self-published the manuscript as a Christmas present for family and friends. The praise was so heartwarming that I entered it in the St. Martin’s Press Malice Domestic contest for first mysteries. Months went by. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then one beautiful morning in June 2006, I sat down at my desk and turned on the computer. There, leaping from the monitor, was an email from the renowned St. Martin’s editor, Ruth Cavin. The book was too international for the contest, but she liked it and offered me a contract for two books.

Believe me, I levitated. For a wannabe published writer with nose pressed against the glass, it doesn’t get better than that. Without Warning was published by St. Martin Press Minotaur in 2007, but I wasn’t about to advertise my age for fear of losing younger readers.

Overkill, the second in the Emma Streat series, came out in December 2009. At this point it felt comfortable to come out of the age closet and admit to being 86. (Note: my editor Ruth Cavin is even older.)

When did I start to write? There was always a fascination with words, no doubt inherited from a long line of preachers and teachers. I had two undistinguished years of study at Sarah Lawrence College, and then a short career at Harper’s Bazaar and the American Red Cross. In 1944 I married a dashing fighter pilot flying out of England with the 8th Air Force. (We had been married 60 years the day he died.) Then came four children and volunteer work.

At last the youngest child was at school all day and there was time to try putting words to paper. Feeling important, I rushed around being a roving reporter for local papers in New Jersey. Journalism was great training and great fun, but suddenly churning out three hundred words wasn’t enough. Why not three hundred pages?

The first book was a disaster. Trash. I tried again, using a sugar plantation in Jamaica WI as a setting. The Ancestors Cry out, an historical suspense, was published by Doubleday and Ballantine.

Why did I start over with mysteries? Partly because they are my favorite escape reads. We know that good will always trump evil. We feel the power of the great absolutes––death, retribution, and punishment. Often there is a nice balance of plot, background, and characters, all moving along at a fast pace, teasing the mind. But, I soon learned that there’s a vast difference between reading and writing mysteries. This is a genre with strict rules: There must be red herrings, clues dropped at strategic points, and a surprising villain.

Sandy, you ask how my characters evolve. The answer is: with a lot of angst. It was hard to create, out of thin air, the main character in a series––the one who is going to investigate the hair-raising disasters. In multiple revisions, my protagonist was named Molly, Maggie, Tory, and finally Emma. She was age 60, then dropped to a median 47. I’m an opera fan, so Emma was once a rising young diva who lost her voice. Luckily, my life (so far) has not included murders, but I knew about being a hands-on mother. And, as the wife of a CEO, I could draw on travel experience––first class or private jet to places like London and Paris.

By now I have come to love my elegant, gutsy Emma. I feel I know her as well as, even better, than my own daughters and I want readers to care about her. This woman has had to dig deep to find strengths to survive, bring criminals to justice, and work thought complicated love interests. Like Emma, we are all, I think, reaching for ways to live out daily lives with strength and courage.

What are the trade-offs of being an older writer? There are pluses to high mileage. We have been around, observed people, gained insight. After endless hours of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, a style evolves. It’s easier to sense what is wrong about a phrase or a character. He/she would never have done that. Eyes never fall to the floor. Like cooking a stew, we throw in all these experiences, stir well, and  hope it’s a winner.

The downside? Even with good health, maintenance of the aging chassis cuts down on valuable writing time. There’s a sense that every day must count. I wish I had experimented with different genres in my twenties. And––I have to keep reminding myself that Emma is of a different generation. To keep current with trends, I rely on daughters and nieces.

As for future plans, children, grandchildren, and extended family take priority, but there are two ongoing projects. One is to put the final touches on an historical suspense novel. This is set in the American Revolution, and focuses on intelligence operations, spies, and threats on George Washington’s life.

The second project is, of course, the third Emma Streat mystery. Right now, new pictures are running through my head like a film, but my goal remains the same: Story is key and it must move fast. I want to catapult readers into a world of strong people working out their problems, a global thread, and high-end settings. Escape is important. I love hearing that my books helped someone through a bad time.

It’s true, I think, that age and creativity can exist happily together, but for the older writer, creativity is a real blessing. It’s great to wake up in the morning with work to do––and it can be accomplished just sitting at a computer.

OVERKILL by Eugenia Lovett West

OVERKILL by Eugenia Lovett West

Eugenia Lovett West’s website.

You can buy OVERKILL, An Emma Streat Mystery, and WITHOUT WARNING on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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