Tag Archives: A Spark of Heavenly Fire

Excerpt from A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Pat Bertram

ASHFborderStraight from today’s headlines! In the novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram, hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. In an effort to stop the disease from spreading beyond the state of Colorado where the disease originated, the entire state is quarantined. In this dangerous world, Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.


After an uneventful day at work, Kate hurried home through the silent streets. More than half the houses she passed had fluorescent orange dots splashed on their front doors indicating that someone had died within. Beside some of those doors were small shrines or memorials—artificial flowers, crosses, dolls, teddy bears. Other houses were unlit, mute testimony that entire families had died.

A white unmarked delivery van stopped in front of a house that already had one fluorescent dot on the door. When two men jumped out of the truck and ran up the porch steps, she knew that soon another orange mark would appear next to the first.

She could hear the men lamenting the loss of the Broncos while they waited for someone to answer their knock. It seemed strange that they spoke of such a prosaic matter. Shouldn’t they be crying, “Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead,” as their counterparts during the Black Death had done?

As she neared the house, she could see the door open. An old woman with bowed head and trembling shoulders stood aside to let the two men enter.

Kate had passed the house by the time the men emerged with their burden, but she could hear the thud of the body when they threw it into the van.

She thought of Greg and how he had cradled Mrs. Robin’s body in his arms as he carried her down the alley and how he had gently laid her under a tree.

And how he had said he liked her, Kate, very much.


Until November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)


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.

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What If an Entire State Were Quarantined? by Pat Bertram

People are being quarantined in Texas today, healthy people who simply hosted someone who was ill with Ebola. What if the disease spreads? What if more cases are found? What if a whole town or maybe a whole state were quarantined to prevent a pandemic?

These what ifs formed the premise of my noveASHFbordersml, A Spark of Heavenly Fire. The disease in the story is not Ebola, the avian flu, or any known disease, but a lab-created disease that had its origins in biological warfare experimentation. This fictional disease was created to be unstoppable, to wipe out entire populations. And it fell into the wrong hands.

Because the disease began in Colorado and that is where most of the victims lived — and died — the entire state is quarantined and martial law is put into effect. The seemingly inhuman measures that take place in the story to keep the non-sick under control are all probable since they are based on executive orders Clinton signed into law. The wonderful thing about writing such a book is that I didn’t have to imagine any of the horrors. Our own president did the work for me.

We are coming up on the supposed anniversary date of the publication of A Spark of Heavenly Fire. (I say supposed because although it wasn’t published until March 25, 2009, Amazon lists the publication date as .November 23, 2008.) I hope you will check out this still relevant novel, thinking as you do so of the small quarantine in Texas (small in numbers, and perhaps even small in consequence, but huge to the people whose freedom is being denied). It happened to them. It could happen to you.

To celebrate this faux anniversary, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)


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.


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A Gift for a Grief-Stricken Friend by Pat Bertram

Grief: The Great Yearning by Pat BertramI haven’t really promoted my book Grief: the Great Yearning, which chronicles my thoughts and feelings during the first year after the death of my life mate/soul mate. It seemed crass and insensitive to capitalize on people’s grief, though the book has been a big help to many who have suffered a significant loss such as a husband or a parent. As one person said, “Grief: the Great Yearning is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

If you need a gift (or a stocking stuffer) for someone who is grieving, please consider giving them a copy of Grief: the Great Yearning. It might help to bring them comfort knowing that someone else has felt what they are feeling.

The print version of Grief: The Great Yearning is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. You can even give the ebook in any format as a gift. Just go to Smashwords and click on “Give as Gift”.

If there are people on your Christmas list who like to read, please check out my other books. I’m sure they’d like at least one of them!


More Deaths Than OneBob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in SE Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. At her new funeral, he sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on?

Click here to read the first chapter: More Deaths Than One


A Spark of Heavenly FireIn quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease, investigative reporter Greg Pullman risks everything to discover the truth: Who unleashed the deadly organism? And why?

Click here to read the first chapter of: A Spark of Heavenly Fire


DAIWhen twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Daughter Am I


Thirty-seven years after being abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Colorado, Becka Johnson returns to try to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? And why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? And what do they have to do with a secret underground laboratory?

Click here to read the first chapter of: Light Bringer


Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

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“A Spark of Heavenly Fire” Embodies the Essence of Christmas

Washington Irving wrote: “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.” As I read these words several years ago, I could see her, a drab woman, defeated by life, dragging herself through her days in the normal world, but in an abnormal world of strife and danger, she would come alive and inspire others. And so Kate Cummings, the hero of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire (released by Second Wind Publishing) was born. But born into what world?

I didn’t want to write a book about war, which is a common setting for such a character-driven story, so I created the red death, an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease that ravages Colorado. Martial law is declared, rationing is put into effect, and the entire state is quarantined. During this time when so many are dying, Kate comes alive and gradually pulls others into her sphere of kindness and generosity. First enters Dee Allenby, another woman defeated by normal life, then enter the homeless — the group hardest hit by the militated restrictions. Finally, enters Greg Pullman, a movie-star-handsome reporter who is determined to find out who created the red death and why they did it.

Kate and her friends build a new world, a new normal, to help one another survive, but other characters, such as Jeremy King, a world-class actor who gets caught in the quarantine, and Pippi O’Brien, a local weather girl, think of only of their own survival, and they are determined to leave the state even if it kills them.

The world of the red death brings out the worst in some characters while bringing out the best in others. Most of all, the prism of death and survival reflects what each values most. Kate values love. Dee values purpose. Greg values truth. Jeremy values freedom. Pippi, who values nothing, learns to value herself.

Though this book has been classified by some readers as a thriller — and there are plenty of thrills and lots of danger — A Spark of Heavenly Fire is fundamentally a Christmas book. The story begins on December 2, builds to a climax on Christmas, and ends with renewal in the Spring. There are no Santas, no elves, no shopping malls or presents, nothing that resembles a Christmas card holiday, but the story — especially Kate’s story — embodies the essence of Christmas: generosity of spirit.

(Why does A Spark of Heavenly Fire begin on December 2 instead of December 1? Glad you asked that. All through the writing of the book, I kept thinking: if only people could get through the first fifty pages, I know they will like this book. So finally came my duh moment. Get rid of the first fifty pages!! With all the deletions and rewriting, I couldn’t make the story start on December 1 as I’d originally intended, but that’s okay since it didn’t end on December 25 as I had hoped. The story overgrew it’s bounds, but the symbolism still held since it ends around Easter.)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Heavenly-Fire-Pat-Bertram/dp/1935171232/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842 (You can download the book in any ebook format, including a format for palm held reading devices!! Even better, you can download 30% absolutely free to see if you like the story.)

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spark-of-heavenly-fire-pat-bertram/1100632312?ean=9781935171232&itm=2&usri=pat+bertram

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Everything in Service to the Story

I’ve been retyping some of the outtakes from A Spark of Heavenly Fire. These are the scenes I deleted from the book (and apparently also deleted from my computer, hence the retyping). Since the story takes place in December, and this is December (as if you didn’t know) I thought I would celebrate by posting those scenes on my blog.

I expected to be embarrassed by my puerile writing, but some of the deleted work was surprisingly good. The scenes were nicely set up, fairly well written, and advanced the plot, but unfortunately they did not serve the overall story.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn while writing is that everything in a novel is in service to the story. Nothing stands alone — not the writing, not the characters, not the plot, not the individual scenes. Perhaps what I’m talking about is balance and flow. If a good scene stops the flow, it’s not a good scene. If a minor character is so weighty that he overbalances the hero, his scenes need to be restricted. A couple of the scenes worked quite well to show the onset of martial law in quarantined Denver, but they were from the standpoint of Jeremy King, the hero of the secondary story. Kate was supposed to be the driving force of the book, and she barely showed up in the first fifty pages. So poor Jeremy had to go.

If you’d like to see my outtakes, you can find them here:
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #1
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #2
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #3
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #4
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #5
A Spark of Heavenly Fire Outtake #6

Pat Bertram is also the author of More Deaths Than One and Daughter Am I.


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A Spark of Heavenly Fire Pre-Anniversary

Is there such a thing as an anniversary before something happens? A pre-anniversary? The first chapter of  A Spark of Heavenly Fire begins on Friday, December 2, which means the year in which the story takes place will be 2011. I didn’t specifically choose that year, but certain events needed to happen on weekends, others on weekdays, and the year ended up being 2011 by default. I never mentioned the year in the book, so it’s mostly a trivial issue. Today is the two-year pre-anniversary of the onset of the story, however, and to celebrate, all month long I will be posting outtakes of the book on my blog.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Somewhere along the line I deleted the computer version of the first draft (or perhaps there wasn’t a computer version. I wrote it before I had a computer). I dug out my handwritten copy and am retyping some of the deleted parts. And there are a lot of them! The original draft was over 118,000 words, the final version less than 95,000. At least 4,000 of those words were justs and onlys and thats and beginning tos, which I worked hard to eradicate, so I don’t intend to bring them back, not even for curiosity’s sake.

Still, there many scenes that I deleted in order to get to the action quicker. Like many new authors, I frontloaded the book with information that slowed the story. I kept thinking that if only people could get past the first fifty pages, they would like the book — it’s a solid story with solid characters in a disasterous situation that could actually happen. A real breakthrough in my writing occurred when I realized that no one would wade through fifty pages to get to the good part, so I needed to eliminate those pages.

Included in the eliminated pages was a substory about a real estate agent and a retired defensive back who had once been part of the legendary Bronco defense team The Orange Crush. The realtor was so sex-starved that she would do anything, even turn a blind eye when he started molesting her daughter, in order to keep him in her life and her bed. I was going to post the deleted scene here, but it’s way more graphic than I realized. Whooo! It’s one thing putting a scene like that in a book, and another to post it where anyone can take a peak. I’ve saved it, though, and perhaps one day I will find a use for it.

I also deleted many less than stellar scenes, but included a brief mention of the action in flashbacks or dialogue. It got the point across without the sludgery of the original version.

I never quite knew what to do with the handwritten draft, but I’m glad I kept it. And who knows — someday I might be so famous (or even better — infamous) and the thing will be worth a lot of money.

Read the outtakes of A Spark of Heavenly Fire on: Bertram’s Blog 
Read the first chapter of the published version here:
A Spark of Heavenly Fire 
Free download: get the first 30% of A Spark of Heavenly Fire free at Smashwords
Read blurb (or buy!) at  Second Wind Publishing: A Spark of Heavenly Fire

Pat Bertram is also the author of More Deaths Than One and Daughter Am I.


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Share in the Fun of Daughter Am I

It’s almost three in the morning. This will be the fourth night this week I stayed up late to prepare a blog, update a website, or plan a cyber party. No one is making me do all this work — it originates in the same place where once the writing came from. The need to write will come back some day, but for now the need to let people know about the books I have already written consumes me. I want people to share in the fun of Daughter Am I, the journey of discovery, the reluctance to turn each page because when they do the story will be that much closer to the end.

The first step in introducing my new novel to the world was my cyber launch party, which is still going on. You can find games, puzzles, and a sampler giveaway at my “DAUGHTER AM I HAS FINALLY BEEN PUBLISHED! LET’S PARTY!!” party. If you haven’t already stopped by, just click on the link and you will magically be transported to the festivities. You don’t even have to dress up — you can wear your ratty old jeans and bedroom slippers, and no one will ever know!

The next step in introducing Daughter Am I was setting up a blog tour.  A five week blog tour! Believe me, I did not intend for the tour to be so extensive, but the first person who agreed to be a host requested November 12, the next person requested October 18, and just when I had finished filling all those dates, I got a request for November 21. So — a new challenge for me. I like challenges, but 70 blog posts in five weeks? Whew! (Why 70 instead of just 35? Because each day I will have to introduce that day’s host and post the link on my own blog.)

The next step after that will be . . . hmmm. Haven’t gotten that far yet. But I’ll figure something out. Something fun. The one thing I have learned in my first six months of being a published writer is that promotion is just another word for party. So, let’s party! The drinks are on me.

Daughter Am I is Pat Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

DAIDaughter Am I: When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians — former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.


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Happy Bloggiversary to Us!

One year ago today, we at Second Wind Publishing started to blog. Many of us had never blogged before, but we wanted a forum to connect with our readers, and so we learned. While learning how to blog, we also learned how generous readers are with their comments, and we would like to thank all of you for your support. Click here for: Goodies and Giveaways.

To celebrate this anniversary, Second Wind authors talk about their experiences with blogging.

More Deaths Than OnePat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire: I have more blogs than one, so I was familiar with blogging when I joined the authors here at Second Wind Publishing Blog, but it has been a wonderful experience participating in the growth of this blog with its fantastic array of posts. Wishing us all — authors and readers alike — a happy new blogyear!

Images of BetrayalClaire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny: I’ve never been afraid to try new things, but my biggest problem has always been time. I didn’t know where I would find time to post blogs every few days in my already tight schedule. I started slowly, writing about writing and posting every couple of weeks to my blog and the Second Wind blog. Now, I actually enjoy blogging and I spend a lot of time on my own blog. Visit me if you get a chance.

Loving LydiaAmy De Trempe: author of Loving Lydia: For me, posting a blog was harder than writing a novel and it took some time before I became comfortable.  I wondered what I should write about and if I had anything intersting to say.  Now I find it to be a fun activity and have enjoyed posting to both Second Wind and my personal blog.  More importantly, I’ve found I really enjoy reading the posts of others and comments from readers. It has opened up a world for me that I barely knew existed.

False PositiveJJ Dare, author of False Positive: It’s been an interesting blog ride for me. Finding something new to say was daunting the first couple of times. I got over the initial “oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-going-to-talk-about” reaction fairly quickly. Instead ofagonizing over a post (and rewriting and rewriting the week prior to my turn atthe blog), I’m at the point where I can zip a blog post off with only a littlebit of editing. I’d have to say blogging is helping me in my own writing – I’m honing a fast write and never look back style 🙂

front-sta-195x304Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato: I appreciate being able to tell followers of the Second Wind Publishing blog the evolution of my debut thriller Staccato from inception to publication to promotion. Sharing the journey through a series of articles in order to show the entire path this writer took, as well as what pitfalls I encountered along the way, has been a pleasure.

Buried in Wolf LakeChristine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County and Buried in Wolf Lake: Last year I barely knew what a blog was and hadn’t read one. Pat Bertram asked if she could post an article I had written for my fellow Second Wind authors about my first book-signing experience on her blog. Okay, sure. Suddenly, a link appeared on an email. I clicked it and there on the Book Marketing Floozy blog was my article. It was like magic. I have learned a bit since then, but haven’t been able to carve out the time to develop my own blog, or update my website. I post blogs on the Second Wind Publishing WordPress site. Mostly, I enjoy reading what the other authors write, on WordPress and Facebook. I recently joined Twitter and will try to figure that out one of these days. Blogs have opened a whole new world for me!

Badeaux KnightsSuzette Vaugn, author of Badeaux Knights and Mortals, Gods, and a Muse: In my first blog I talked about my extended family which just keeps growing. Every month it seems we get new authors in our mix that fit with the rest of us. Over the last year we’ve added several authors that seem like they’ve always been here. Amy, Lucy, Deb, Eric, Jennifer, Jerrica, Pat, Sherrie, Mickey, Juliet and the newest member J. Conrad have officially doubled my Second Wind Family. Then we have all you wonderful readers that make our family possible, thank you.

I’ve learned a lot since then too. I’m still working on the whole blogging thing but since I’ve figured out it doesn’t always have to be about writing, I’m doing better. I’ve featured favorite music, books, and slight jabs at my sister on my personal blog and actually have articles in the drafts waiting for those off days where I can’t think of anything.

Hand-Me-Down BrideJuliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride: Blogging seemed one of those internet “too much information” things until I got into it, and began to read the blogs of other Second Wind writers. Blogging keeps you focused on your craft and gets you to work in a briefer, but just as interesting, medium. It feels just one short step beyond the world of the campfire story teller. Personally, it’s been a sort of archeological project. A way for me to excavate  my own store of memory, from times now considered “historical.”  🙂

Thank you everyone for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out our goodies and giveaways.


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Lazarus Barnhill’s Newsletter

            Years ago I had a friend who wrote an article once a month for his company’s newsletter.  And nobody read it.  Tony could write okay.  The problem was his regular piece was always full of nothing but “thank you’s” and “coming events”.  Anytime someone did something noteworthy, he recounted the deed with effusive praise.  Whenever future activities were planned, he would write about them extensively and encourage participation.  By his third newsletter, everyone was ignoring Tony’s articles.

            So as I write this blog entry, I do so with a certain amount of trepidation—because I want to say a big “thank you” to all the kind people who posted such wonderful comments as part of the “Lazarus Barnhill Tribute”.  I’d also like to thank my friends at Second Wind Publishing who promoted and carried this off without me knowing about it until it was at hand.  You’re all delightful and lovely people—in addition to be fine authors.  This is the first time I’ve ever experienced a tribute, and it’s a wonderful, heady experience.

            I must admit, however, there is a dark side to this of which most people aren’t aware.  In the service of full disclosure, I suppose I should be completely candid and say that, without telling our “blog guru” what I was doing, I snuck in and removed all the ugly, hostile comments some people left. . . .  Well, I suppose it’s the thought that counts.  Folks make their tributes in different ways.  As I’ve read and reread the questions and observations about me that I deleted, it dawned on me I should respond to them.  Yes, even warped internet flamers need love and attention from time to time.  So here are some of the less favorable comments and questions along with my personal responses:

            What was your mother thinking when she named her son Lazarus?  Was that lame name the same as your daddy’s?  KDB

            No, my father’s name is not Lazarus.  When Mom named me that she was more than a little cheesed at my father, who at the time of my birth was in the Navy sailing over to Korea to fight a war.  She wasn’t about to name me after him.  Laz is a name that’s appeared in various generations of my family for some time, always accompanied with the hope that the bearer will final achieve something worthwhile. . . .  Now that I think of it, KDB are my mom’s initials.

            You should stick either to romance or to crime/mystery.  Where’d you get the idea you could screw up two genres?  M. Douthit

            You should read more good books.  In fact, you need to visit the Second Wind site.  Many quality romances (like Safe Harbor, Badeaux Knights, Fate and Destiny and A Love Out of Time) have strong elements of mystery and crime in them.  And some outstanding crime books (like Carpet Ride and my own The Medicine People) are full of romantic elements.  It would difficult to find a more heartbreaking romance—with a hopeful ending—than the thriller False Positive.  Murder in Winnebago County actually has a love triangle in it so compelling that Chris Husom’s readers demanded she resolve it in her upcoming sequel Buried in Wolf Lake.  Even though she would deny it, Pat Bertram’s books, especially A Spark of Heavenly Fire, are loaded with complex romances.  It’s a great privilege for me to be published by Second Wind, where authors are not confined to a single genre—which is really just an acknowledgement that a good book may have love, death, laughter, adventure, crime and even the supernatural in it.

            You make fun of police officers in The Medicine People.  You should be ashamed of yourself!  Edna S.

            My uncle and great-uncle were policemen in the little country town where I grew up, Edna.  They used to follow me around to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble (or giving them a bad name) and when I got my driver’s license they’d find an excuse to stop me once every week or two.  I’m just getting even with them.  Anyway, the hero of the book is a clever cop and he’s surrounded by smart, ethical policemen who are trying to do what’s right.  I happen to think The Medicine People is actually pretty realistic in its depiction of police.

            Your hero in Lacey Took a Holiday is a kidnapper.  He gives me the creeps.  And the girl who’s the main character is a hooker.  She’s not much better.  Nobody wants to read about people like that.  P.P.

            Don’t I remember you from the romance writing contest?  You really ought to do something about your initials.  Anyway, get the book and the read the whole story.  They both start out as “damaged goods” through no fault of their own (he is an embittered WWI vet whose wife and child died in childbirth; she ran away from home as a teenager after being sexually assaulted and then being blamed for it).  Lacey Took a Holiday is not so different from a lot of modern romances in that the main characters have had prior relationships and endured great pain.  I’ll admit the story is a little gritty and realistic.  Second Wind is thinking about moving it over and making it a mainstream title.

            I understand you removed some of the steamier love scenes of your first two books to make them more acceptable to your readers.  Soon you’ll have another novel, East Light, coming out.  Have you made certain the sexual content is acceptable?  KDB

            Dang it, Mom!  Quit posting on the blog.

            Anyway, thanks for all the good comments.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them.  And now for some upcoming events . . .  —Laz Barnhill


Filed under books, fiction, Humor, Lazarus Barnhill, life, writing

Heroine Smugglers and Aroused Geese

Now that two of my books have been published and a third is on the way, (Second Wind Publishing will be releasing Daughter Am I in August) I don’t feel I have the right to complain about anything — I’ve achieved something that many people only dream of. But I’m going to complain anyway. Or at least state my truth very emphatically. I do not like to proof my books. By the time I get to the proofing/copyediting stage, I have written, rewritten, and edited the manuscript so many times that I find it almost impossible to focus on what is there rather than what I think is there. I also have a little voice in the back of my head whispering that if the story is riveting, if the writing is good, if the characters are real and sympathetic, a mistake or two doesn’t matter.

Perhaps not, but . . .

The other day I was reading a book by an established author, and I came across this line: They were heroine smugglers. Um . . . yeah. Can’t you just see it? Men in enveloping black capes carting dozens of young women in antebellum costumes over the border during the dark of night. Of course, if the heroines were true heroines, they would have heroically rescued themselves, in which case they would not be smuggled, hence there could be no heroine smugglers.

I admit that I’m being silly, but the point is that a mistake or two does matter. (At least one slipped by me in More Deaths Than One, but it is truly difficult to spot and I intend to get it corrected.) So I will grit my teeth, gird my loins, clench my jaw, prepare for battle, and finish proofing Daughter Am I.

For those of you who are going through the same torment, or will be going through it, here are a few tips that I’ve gleaned along the way:

Go slowly and carefully. Use a ruler or your fingers to mark the lines of print and to keep your gaze from sliding down the page. Check to see that hyphenated words at the end of the line are hyphenated properly. You might also try working from back to front like many professional copyeditors do to keep from getting involved in the story, which, surprisingly, does happen even when it’s your book that you’ve read and reread a hundred times.

Feel free to add your own tips to my list. I’ll be glad of any suggestions to make sure I don’t end up with heroine smugglers or aroused geese. Yep, aroused geese was another phrase in the same book. It might be grammatically correct, but idiomatically . . . let’s just say I don’t even want to know what those geese were up to.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, available from Second Wind Publishing.


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