Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bertram's Kindle Books on sale for $.99

From June 1, 2011 until June 21, 2011, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, More Deaths Than One, and Daughter Am I will be $.99 on Kindle. Now is your chance to indulge!


In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Her new 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. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.

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

$.99 Kindle sale! Click here to buy: A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram


Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her new funeral and sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on? And why are two men who appear to be government agents hunting for him? With the help of Kerry Casillas, a baffling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.

Click here to read the first chapter of: More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram

$.99 Kindle sale! Click here to buy: More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram

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 read the first chapter of: Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram

$.99 Kindle sale! Click here to buy: Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Writing Through Pain, Worry, and Distractions

Those who love to write will find a way to do so most of the time. I’m not sure if it defines the difference between a professional writer or a hobbyist; I’m not even sure a true definition exists, but I do know that the only way to submit completed polished work is to write through difficult times as well as the good. We’ve all had them, those weeks where we can barely get out of bed from fever, pain, worry, or grief. There’s no doubt that sometimes you really do have to step away from the keyboard and process whatever emotional or physical upheaval is happening in your life; but what I’m talking about are the common frustrations, surprises, and worries that force you away from writing for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. This is what May has been about for me.

Now, none of the crappy stuff has been earth-shattering, and for that I count my blessings, believe me. Real life, however, has taken its toll on the number of hours I’ve been able to spend at the keyboard this month. Worsening neck and shoulder pain resulted in two rounds of x-rays, two trips to the doctor, and the first of several trips to the physiotherapist. Of course, this allowed for more reading time—I never go anywhere without something to read.

My daughter’s car accident in mid-May involved taking her to two difference ICBC locations and to the university for class, albeit just once. Thank heaven for buses and others who got her to the doctor and helped her buy a new vehicle. What could have been a nightmare turned into a dodge-the-bullet situation, and for that I again count my blessings. But for a few days there, there was plenty of worry when we didn’t know if there’d be physical repercussions to the crash. Happily, my daughter is fine, and now driving a larger, safer, vehicle.

Anyone who follows my tweets has heard about our kitchen renovation challenges that started on May 2nd. I’m about to start my fifth week without a kitchen sink, but at least I have cupboards and new lighting now. So far, I’ve had seven contractors and delivery people traipsing through my house and into my office where the circuit breaker box is located. It’s been challenging to write when my ceiling is apart and cables are hanging just a few feet from my head, and while someone’s using a power saw in the family room upstairs.

The thing is life is full of these challenges. I could fill pages about all the worries and distractions when my kids were young and our house filled with pets. But you know, I’ve kept writing through it all. From an outsider’s perspective, I suppose this could seem ambitious or obsessive, but the truth is, when something goes wrong, writing is what keeps me sane, calm, and grounded. It’s not only my day job, but my therapy . . . always has been, always will be.

And on a promotional note, I’ll be at the Bloody Words Conference from June 2 to June 5th, which is very exciting. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. Also AllRomance e-books is offering a 50% rebate on any book, including mine, this Memorial Day weekend. Please check them out at http://www.allromanceebooks.com/?gclid=CMDvl4PbmZsCFQk_agodvGuxBg

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, http://bit.ly/i983XE, book trailer http://youtu.be/ojgoDKSW_ck
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Am I Doing Enough?

This week, I read JA Konrath’s blog about how to generate e-book sales. The blog was in response to a question he’s often asked: “How do I make sure I sell lots of e-books”? As you might imagine, there is no magic bullet. No one really knows why some books sell well while others, beautifully written and produced, languish. Konrath offers excellent tips about what works and doesn’t work for him, but what struck me was how much effort he’s put into promoting his work.

He states that most of his job isn’t spent writing, but promoting. He works, on average, 60 hours a week and, while he makes it clear this doesn’t guarantee bestseller status, it does create sales. He used to spend a great deal of time making appearances, having visited over 1,200 bookstores, traveled 40 states, and met with countless librarians, fans, and booksellers. He did a mass mailing to 7,000 libraries, and compiled a mailing list of 10,000 names, as well as attended scores of conventions, conferences, and book fairs. He goes onto say that he doesn’t do appearances anymore because they’re neither time or cost efficient.

After reading his blog, I felt like a lazy slug, and I work at my writing seven days a week. Because I’m trying to be more prolific, I spend more time writing than promoting. Maybe when I have 40 books to my credit like Konrath does, I’ll work more on promoting. Right now, I average 35 hours a week toward writing/promotion, and that’s working everyday of the week. I could probably put in longer days, but it would mean giving up family time, and family is too important to me.

Still, Konrath’s staggering promotional efforts made me take a closer look at my own. I keep records of all the conferences, signings, and fairs that I participate in. To my chagrin, I realized that I’ve only attended 65 events since 1987, and half of those in the last three years. It’s pretty obvious where I need to step up my efforts.

By the way, one of the promotional things Konrath endorses is guest blogging, and I wrote my first one this week on Amy Corwin’s wonderful blog: Fiction Writing and other Oddities. I wrote about the job research I did for The Opposite of Dark. It was a pleasure to write and I was grateful for the opportunity. It looks like I’ll be searching for more opportunities. The blog can be found at: http://amycorwin.blogspot.com/2011/05/guest-blog-debra-purdy-kong.html

JA Konrath’s blog is at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-works-promo-for-ebooks.html

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, http://bit.ly/i983XE, book trailer http://youtu.be/ojgoDKSW_ck
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I Do Signings When I Have No Books

The Southern Indiana Writers have a booth for the third year in a row at the Victorian Chautauqua (summer education/entertainment festival) at the Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville, Indiana. My books are in electronic formats only, so I didn't have anything to sell, personally. I have stories in the Southern Indiana Writers anthologies, but that isn't why I wanted to go.

Some years, we sell a lot of books. Some years, we don't. But we still go, and would go if we knew for a fact we wouldn't sell.


Today, we met a young girl (under 12) who writes stories about her life and publishes them in little chapbooks. Her grandmother wants to collect them and publish them as a perfectbound book. I was glad to introduce them to T. Lee Harris, our production manager, who can help them make that happen.

We met a young woman whose significant other praised her writing and said she needed--NEEDED--to publish her book. We talked to her about the POD publishers we've done business with and about formatting for Amazon Kindle and for Smashwords. She said we'd given her more useful information than she'd collected in months of asking around and reading online.

We met a man with ghost stories and a couple of ghost-hunters and traded craft tips with some kids who help their parents make goat-milk soap and knit goat-wool clothing. We talked with other writers and we talked with would-be writers and we talked with avid readers.

A lot of people looked at our books and took our brochures and bookmarks. I know from the past that we'll run into people throughout the year who will say, "Oh! I saw you at the Chautauqua!" or "I didn't buy anything that day, but I saw one of your books in a store later and I said, 'I know them!' and bought one."

So it probably "pays off" somewhere down the line in money, but the satisfaction is beyond monetary, and that kind of payoff is immediate.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have You Tried Read Dating?

You’ve probably heard about speed dating, but have you heard of read dating? This week I took part in my first read dating event, which was designed to bring authors and librarians together to learn more about one another. Here’s how it worked:

With approximately thirty authors and thirty librarians in attendance, ten tables were arranged in a room at the Vancouver Public Library. Tables were genre specific and accommodated two to four authors. Two or three librarians would visit each table for ten minutes, and during that time authors would talk about their genres and pitch their books. Librarians would ask questions and, if they chose, jot down notes in the pamphlets provided. When the moderator rang the bell, librarians would move to the next table.

As an author, this provided a wonderful opportunity to let librarians know that I exist, and to reacquaint myself with librarians I hadn’t seen in awhile. At the halfway point, we had a much needed fifteen minute break to enjoy food and refreshments. The event was two and a half hours long, and after pitching my books ten times, I was pretty tired by the end of the evening. Each librarian went home with a goodie bag containing books, postcards, bookmarks, and other things.

Since this was an inaugural event, there were a few things that might be changed if it’s held again next year. One of the most important would be limiting each table to three authors. With only ten minutes to speak, some people didn’t get the opportunity to pitch during the short session. Still, it was a fun evening and, if given the opportunity, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Getting to know your local librarians is one of the smartest things a writer can do.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, http://bit.ly/i983XE, book trailer http://youtu.be/ojgoDKSW_ck
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Friday, May 13, 2011

Introducing Imajin Books - An Innovative Publisher of 'Quality Fiction'

In February 2011, an innovative, unique Canadian publisher with an eye on exciting, ever-changing trends and opportunities in publishing, opened its 'doors' to authors worldwide. Owned by bestselling suspense author Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Imajin Books has been in business since 2005, publishing only the author's books up. But now it has a list of debut and established authors who are about to release some sensational reads starting this May.

"Other writers asked me if I'd consider publishing their works and I always said no," Tardif says. "But just over a year ago, I researched the possibilities. With the number of publishing companies that have closed their doors or amalgamated their imprints under one roof, it's a bit risky to start a new publishing venture. But I am a risk taker and I knew I could make this work."

Tardif's goals were simple...

Read more

*Submissions are open until June 30th, 2011.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Big News in Canada's Crime Writing World

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been offered a contract for the second book in my Casey Holland series. The book (title to be determined) will be released in the spring of 2012. It’s been an incredible year of writing and learning; and now I’ll get to work with my terrific editor again.

Last week, the Arthur Ellis Award shortlist was announced, and I although I don’t have space to list all of the categories and nominees, here are two of them. The winners will be announced at the Bloody Words banquet on June 2nd.

Best Crime Novel:
A Criminal to Remember, Michael Van Rooy, Turnstone Press
Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny, Little Brown, UK
In Plain Sight, Mike Knowles, ECW Press
Slow Recoil, C.B. Forrest, RendeVous Crime
The Extinction Club, Jeffrey Moore, Penguin Group

Best First Crime Novel:
The Damage Done, Hilary Davidson, Tom Doherty Associates
The Debba, Avner Mandleman, Random House of Canada
The Penalty Killing, Michael McKinley, McClelland & Stewart
The Parabolist, Nicholas Ruddock, Doubleday Canada
Still Missing, Chevy Stevens, St. Martin’s Press

To see the complete list of nominees go to www.crimewriterscanada.com Crime Writers of Canada is a terrific organization for both published and unpublished writers. If you’re interested in keeping in touch with all Canadian crime writers’ news, events, and awards, please join us!

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, http://bit.ly/i983XE, book trailer http://youtu.be/ojgoDKSW_ck
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Writing Events

At a recent writing festival, a colleague expressed her concern about the poor turnout and sales. She also mentioned that another writer told her that he’d attended many events and sold, on average, one book per event.

I’ve participated in half a dozen writing events so far this year, and because my mystery, The Opposite of Dark, was released six weeks ago, I’m just getting started. Every event I’ve attended has been reasonably well promoted in print and online, but the truth is that you never know how many people will show up, or whether any books will be sold. Sometimes, I’ll present at a well-attended workshop and sell nothing. On other occasions, I’ll read and discuss my book, with maybe seven people in the audience, yet I’ll sell books.

A lot depends on the nature of the event. For example, in my experience, people generally don’t buy books at the workshops I and my co-presenter give, although we’ll have perhaps thirty or more attendees. On the other hand, if I give a reading or am on a panel, my audience is usually much smaller, yet I’ll sell books.

As I write this, our city’s beloved Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of playoffs. If any of my events are held on a night the Canucks are playing, turnout will be small, which makes it difficult to plan events until their season ends.

Event location is also crucial. This week, I had the pleasure of being on a panel with four other writers to discuss mysteries and announce the shortlist of Arthur Ellis Award nominees, but the Canucks were playing that night. In fact, the stadium is in the same neighbourhood as the library hosting our event, and yet the turnout was great. The reason is that the Vancouver Public Library always has a lot of patrons, they happened to be holding a book sale, and announcing our event on their PA system.

Lately I’ve been selling more books in caf├ęs than I have in bookstores. Who knows why; maybe coffee and cheesecake makes people happier and more receptive to buying. The point is, timing and location can certainly help sales, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. What’s important is that one keeps participating and meeting new people, and having fun along the way.

I’d love to know about your bookselling experiences. Any surprises? Disappointments? Huge successes? Please share your thoughts!

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, http://bit.ly/i983XE, book trailer http://youtu.be/ojgoDKSW_ck
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n