Author Archives: Pat Bertram

About Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Great Yearning and four novels -- More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, Daughter Am I, and Light Bringer. All are available from Amazon, Smashwords, and Second Wind Publishing, LLC. http://secondwindpublishing.com

Taking “F” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the sixth day of my current surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “F” things.

Even though we often take family and friends for granted, we do stop occasionally to take them for gratitude, so I am not adding them to this list. I’m more interested in giving thanks for things I’ve never stopped to think about before.

I am especially grateful for:

fingersFingers: I remember the first time I realized my now deceased life mate/soul mate was as interested in me as I was in him. I was in his health food store, and while he was handing me a bottle of vitamin A, our fingers happened to touch. I can still feel the glow from that touch today. Fingers aren’t just a way of connecting with others, but are a way of connecting to the world — through the touch of a petal, the touch of a thorn — but are also a way of connecting to ourselves through the things we create — art, meals, a home. I am especially grateful for my fingers considering the terrible fall I had a year ago that pulverized my elbow, wrist, radius. I still do not have the full use of my fingers, but I am exceedingly grateful for the use I do have.

Feet: Feet keep us connected to this earth. Feet allow us to walk, to move, to dance. Feet are a miracle in and of themselves. Each foot contains 26 bones, and those 52 bones makes up about 25% of the total bones in our bodies. Each foot also contains 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. A true miracle, and something to take for gratitude with every step.

Fate: Whether or not one believes in fate, certain times in our lives do feel fated. In my case, I walked into a health food store one Saturday morning, and there I met the man I would spend the next 34 years with. He died early one Saturday morning, (just after midnight Friday night). That seems fated, too. To come into my life and leave it on the same day of the week.

Failure. I don’t take ever failure for granted, but I never stop to give thanks for the failures that have taught me valuable lessons, such as to pick myself up and try even harder.

Feasts: We so often take feasts for granted, but this month especially, I will be taking feasts for gratitude. I might not be having a Thanksgiving feast, but when we are alive, any meal is truly a feast.

So, what “F” things are you taking for gratitude today?

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Taking “E” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the fifth day of my current surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “E” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Ears. Ears to hear music, laughter, the voices of loved ones. Earlobes from which to dangle beautiful earrings.

Energy. Even when we feel as if we have no energy, we have enough energy to keep our bodies working. And the days when we do feel as if we have energy to spare — what a joy! And despite all the problems that the various sources of energy to keep our houses and cities alive, we still do have energy enough to drive to where we need to go, to warm our homes in the winter and cool them in the summer, energy enough to light the darkness. So, today I will not take energy for granted, but will give thanks for all the energy that comes my way.

Entertainment and enjoyment. We have come a long way from the days when weS humans had to provide our own entertainment, whether telling stories around a community fire, dancing in a neighbor’s barn, or playing musical instruments in a parlor. Now we have instant entertainment, ready for our enjoyment at any time.

Eyes. Eyes to see light and beautiful sites, to see smiling faces, to read print on a page or a reading device.

Eyeglasses. I am especially grateful for eyeglasses, though I tend to take them for granted since they have been perched on my nose (or rather sliding down my nose) since I was ten. Without eyeglasses, I see lights as sparkling gems with halos of brightness, but they are about the only thing I can see better without glasses, so I today I will take my eyeglasses with so very much gratitude.

So, what “E” things are you taking for gratitude today?

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See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude,Taking “D” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Taking “D” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the fourth day of my current surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “D” things.

I dancingam especially grateful for:

Deserts and dessert and the discernment to know the difference.

The desire and determination, the dedication and daring to go after our dreams.

Dawn and daylight, dusk and dazzling sunsets.

Dear and darling and other doting endearments.

Discussions, deliberation, the ability to defend our ideas.

And dancing, of course.

So, what “D” things are you taking for gratitude today?

***

See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Taking “C” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the third day of my latest surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “C” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Dad and meCaring. We are frequently told and so believe that ours in an uncaring society, but the truth is, most of us care. We care about others, we care for them, we take care of them. We care about this world and we care about the creatures that share it with us. There’s a whole lot of caring going on! Today I will be care-full not to take all that caring for granted, but will take it with gratitude.

Cash. In this world of credit and debit, we still have the ability to make simple and anonymous purchases with cash. We can count it without complicated computations, we can tuck it away for an emergency, or we can put it in an envelope and hand it to someone we care about. Although we are headed for a cashless society, I am grateful that we still have a choice.

Choice. So often, it seems as if life tosses us about, and that we don’t have much choice about what we do, who we are, and what happens to us, but there are always choices. To a great extent, we can choose what to eat and when and where. If our job doesn’t suit (or we were laid off) we have the choice of searching for a better job. Even when things don’t work out for us, such as not being able to find a job, we still have the choice of how to deal with the trauma. Having choices is something I choose to be grateful for.

Comfort. In a choice between fashion or comfort, I always choose comfort. No high heels or constricting clothes for me! (Clothes — another “C” to be grateful for!) So, today I will be grateful for all the comforts of home — comfortable clothing, comfortable furniture, comfortable food, comfortable temperatures.

Comforters. Quilts and other comforters make sleeping a pleasure. Friends and other comforters — those who listen to our woes and give us a shoulder to cry on — make life a pleasure.  Thank you to all those who have offered comfort during these past years. I never took you for granted, but appreciated your every word.

So, what “C” things are you taking for gratitude today?

***

See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Taking “B” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the second day of my current surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “B” things.

I am especially grateful for:

balloonsBalloons. Balloons are such a basic decoration/toy that we take them for granted, but they remind us of festive days and simpler times when batting around a balloon could provide entertainment and laughter.

Beauty. So much of the beauty around us we take for granted, and yet there is beauty wherever we look, in the wrinkled faces of old women, the bright eyes of a new friend, the leafless trees of winter and the bare deserts in summer.

Being. We take our being for granted, wandering through our lives, dealing with everyday matters, paying scant attention to the miracle of being. And yet . . . we are. We have being. Wow. How incredible is that?

Blog. We tend to take blogging for granted, so much so that we don’t always value the wisdom we find in blogs in other blogs or the value of what we write in our own blogs, but blogging allows everyone who wishes to write the equivalent of a newspaper column. To be able to say what is on your mind is definitely something to be taken with gratitude, but if people read your words, that is astonishingly wonderful.

Blue. Blue reminds us of eternity. helps us find serenity, promotes creativity, encourages learning, but more than that, blue is a lovely color in and of itself, and is the favorite of most adults.

Body. We are so familiar with our bodies and see them so often, that whether we like the way we look or not, we take our bodies for granted. We take our brains for granted because we never see them, and take our blood for granted until we see it pouring (or even seeping) out of us after an injury. And we definitely take our bones for granted until we develop a problem, but without bones, our bodies wouldn’t be much more than a pile of mush. So today, I am going to be grateful that all these pieces fit together, allowing me to be.

What “B”s are you taking for gratitude today?

***

See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Taking “A” Things for Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Since today is the first day of my current surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “A” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Ability to appreciate. Not just to see, taste, hear something, but to admire it, to recognize its importance and value.

Accelerators. We depend on our vehicles for important things such as going work or to the grocery store where we hunt and gather our food, but we also use them to go see sights far away. Without an accelerator, we wouldn’t be able to do anything with those vehicles except sit in them and dream of other places.

Age. Perhaps youth is wasted on the young as we are often told, but age has its place. Despite the ebbing of energy and health that age might bring, having a few decades of life behind us helps bring perspective, appreciation, perhaps even wisdom, though these things are not prerequisites for growing old. Jerks remain jerks forever, it seems. But still, I have a hunch age would be wasted on the young.

Air. Air gives us life, but it also makes us one with the world, flowing into our bodies via our lungs, and flowing out again. Deep slow intakes of air can calm us. Cool air on a hot day or warm air on a cold day brings us comfort.

Ankles make it easier to walk, to dance, to balance. Without ankles, our lower legs would be like stumps. And who doesn’t admire a well-sculpted ankle?

Arms. We take our arms for granted, but those who have lost an arm through war or an accident or illness know the value of those appendages. Even old, saggy arms are beautiful, especially when they are cradling a baby, hugging a friend, swinging loose and free when we take a walk.

What “A”s are you taking for gratitude today?

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame 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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Thank you, CoCo. By Pat Bertram

Coco Ihle has not missed her blog day ever since she joined this blog after the publication of her novel, She Had to Know. (If you haven’t already read She Had to Know, I recommend this atmospheric mystery set mostly in Scotland.) Because Coco was faced with the threat of Irma and didn’t know if she’d be able to post today she asked me to post something for her. I agreed, seeing this as the perfect opportunity to thank Coco for the role she played in my life.

Coco

In February 2013, Coco posted a blog about being a belly dancer called Belly Dancing…Dangerous?

At the time, I was looking for something to jump start my life. My life mate/soul mate had been dead almost three years, and I was still prone to tears and sadness. Though I was getting tired of the sorrow and the feeling that perhaps I too had died, I didn’t know how to move away from the void. Belly dancing seemed to strike a chord with me since it was vastly different from anything I’d ever attempted (my exploits have generally been more cerebral than physical), but I didn’t see myself dancing. Somehow, what would be alluring for a young woman did not seem quite so exotic for a woman tottering past middle age.

But Coco didn’t agree. She said, “Oh, you’d be surprised, Pat. I taught at Auburn University and my students were all ages. Interestingly enough, the older ones were overall more confident, graceful, and generally more creative than the younger ones. The beauty in dancing, like many art forms, comes from within. Perhaps you may like to try it.”

I thanked her but never really considered taking dance classes. I presumed one had to be graceful, athletic, willowy, and musically inclined, all characteristics that elude me, and yet, late that July I happened to notice a nearby dance studio that taught older adults. I tiptoed into dance on August 7 with a jazz class (jazz because it was the one class I didn’t have to buy any shoes or accoutrements). By mid September, I was taking not only jazz but Hawaiian, tap, ballet, and yep, belly dancing.

To my surprise, I found that learning to dance gave me a vacation from myself and my grief, allowed me to surrender to something greater than myself, offered me a new challenge, and most of all, brought me moments of happiness at a time when I thought happiness would forever pass me by.

Pat

In the intervening years, though I still am not as graceful as I wish, and still am not willowy or musically inclined, I’ve learned dozens of numbers, performed many times with my class, and continue to find joy both in learning to dance and in surrendering to the movement and the moment.

All because Coco put the idea of dance into my head. All because Coco inspired and encouraged me.

So thank you, Coco. I hope Irma treats you kindly.

(P.S. The last I heard, Coco was all right, hunkered down behind hurricane-proof windows at a friend’s house.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of five suspense novels: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, 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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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, 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

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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.

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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.”  Like Pat on Facebook.

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Your Truest Purpose For Existing by Pat Bertram

Once upon a time not so long ago, there was a mythical social networking site for creative types called “Gather.” I call the site mythical because it seemed uncanny and serendipitous the way so many kindred spirits migrated to the site, and also because the defunct site has disappeared into the myth of memory. Was it as special as we all seemed to think? It must have been because in its short history, it affected so many of us in a positive way. In fact, many of the people I have visited on my cross-country trip were people I met on Gather nine years ago, including fellow author Lazarus Barnhill.

Lazarus Barnhill is one of those folks who seem larger than life. Charming and charismatic, unbelievably intelligent and intuitive, and so busy he’s harder to catch hold of than a wisp of cloud. (I’m getting ridiculously eloquent here, but he tends to bring out the best — and worst — in people.)

Several years ago, I interviewed Lazarus for my blog (Pat Bertram And Lazarus Barnhill Discuss Writing as Destiny), but he, being the contrary sort of individual he is, turned the tables and interviewed me. The interview was almost embarrassingly intimate, though I don’t know why. Maybe because it was the first time we ever “talked” and he seemed interested in me at a time when my life was closing in on itself. Maybe because I was open and willing to answer his questions. Maybe because he said such insightful things about my books that I felt giddy. He seemed to see more in my works than I expected people to see, perhaps even more than I myself had seen. But that is the beauty of writing one’s truth. It has a way of making itself felt.

So what does this have to do with today’s blog post? Well, I had a chance to take a look at Barnhill’s newest book, Pastor Larsen and the Rat. The story is about Pastor Larsen, who, in the face of the drudgery, church politics and frustration that are the usual professional hazards of the ministry, is faced with a dangerous and intriguing complication — Ange. No one in Larsen’s close knit congregations knew of the existence of this woman, the daughter of a parishioner who appeared just in time for her mother’s funeral. For Larsen, Ange is more than mysterious. She is alluring, wise and astonishingly intuitive. . . . And then there is the issue of the large rat that seems to be taunting the members of his church.

This is a book that only Lazarus Barnhill could have written. A pastor turned author, Barnhill knows more than most people about what goes on behind the serene countenance of a church, but more than that, he has a talent for mixing the irreverent with the reverent, the salacious with the spiritual, the naughty with the nice.

I asked Lazarus if he were afraid people would find his book controversial. He said, “To a degree. Some will find it profane. I hope some find it insightful and hopeful. Those familiar with religious bodies — and with the way spirituality operates in human life — will not be able to deny it’s honesty — not the sex part, but the organized religion part, and the divine intervention part. Ultimately I hoped when I wrote it that non-religious people would read it for the naughty romance and gain some insight into how the holy is able to work in our midst despite all that religions do to prevent it; and that religious people would ‘force themselves’ to live with the titillation in order at last to read something truthful about their gatherings.”

A love of truth in literature seems to be something that Lazarus and I have in common. Although we want people to read our books for enjoyment, being entertaining isn’t our only reason for writing. We need to tell our truth. Lazarus goes beyond that, believing that “whatever force there is out there in creation (call it God, destiny, a Higher Power or whatever you want) actually wants you to write. When you write, you are fulfilling an essential aspect of your truest purpose for existing.”

Lucky for us, Lazarus Barnhill is fulfilling his destiny.

pastor larsen and the rat

Click here to read an Excerpt From PASTOR LARSEN AND THE RAT by Lazarus Barnhill

What are you waiting for? Click here to buy the ebook: Buy Pastor Larsen and the Rat on Kindle for $0.99 kindle.

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