June 23, 2014

Please Give a Warm Welcome To Susan Berger

Welcome to Cheryl’s place! I’m thrilled to have you here.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a chronologically gifted human being who has worn many hats. Actress. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Bookkeeper. Bookaholic. Children’s book writer and now Romance Writer. I am a firm believer in HEA.

I feel so lucky because so many of my dreams have come true.

I fell in love and got married. I got to be on Broadway in a musical. I never dreamed of having children, but my sons turned out to be my best dreams of all.

I had a taste of what it was like to get famous when my husband, Barry Corbin, was one of the stars of Northern Exposure. Watching that cast handle sudden fame was an education.

Barry and I are no longer married, but we still are good friends. Right now he’s in town because he is a regular on Charlie Sheen’s new series, Anger Management. We play trivia together on Tuesdays. And meet up other times for shows or dinner.

My first book, Jamie’s Dream, written with my younger son, Christopher when he was ten, was accepted for publication and published on Chris’s 25th birthday. Since then I’ve had two other children’s books published. In 2011, I signed a contract with Beach Lane Books, Allyn Johnston’s imprint at Simon and Schuster, for my Great American Novel, Log on Log. (My Great American Novel is sixty five words long. Big change from romance writing.)

I got my first television series at age sixty six. Warren The Ape. I didn’t run long, but the rush of being informed I was a regular is indescribable. Last year I celebrated my 70th birthday with a trip to Ireland and Scotland with my sister and brother in law. Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I got a setting and plot for my next romance. The adventures just keep coming.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?

Well. I love doing jigsaw puzzles and beach walks. Right now my other prime obsession is improvisation. I have been taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) for the past year. This is because my son Chris has decided we need to be the first mother/son improv team. This year I started taking classes in long form musical improv. It’s a six or eight person form accompanied by a keyboardist and I LOVE it. Chris changed his mind and decided we will be the first mother son musical improv team. He says in ten years we will be good. I like long term goals.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Revise. It’s a wonderful part of the process. Get a critique group you trust. Join Wattpad. Get a fabulous editor like I did.

As your editor, Susan, thank you. It was a great pleasure working with you on this story. 

What genre or genres do you write?
Romance and children’s picture and mid grade books.

Tell us about your latest release.
Time and Forever, my debut novel released in January is a contemporary time travel romance.
The reviews so far have been very positive. I think I’m up to seventeen of them.

I got one from a woman I never met. 
Margaret C.
This was a very special book that I can resonate with at the age of 65. The pace was wonderful and took you through the twists and turn of a terrific story without letting you get lost.

Time travel seemed a real possibility due the way in which the author told the story, I only wish it was, perhaps we could all go back to meaningful and happy times or at best, have a greater appreciation for where we are now!

I sent a copy of the book to anyone at Soul Mate and Guardian Angel Publishing who said they would be interested in reviewing it. This is from a GAP author. Terry C
Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on the tap and add the bubble bath salts, dry your hands and then grab Time and Forever. Slide down into the froth and read, read, read. Let your children eat cereal for dinner but keep reading. You will love this world Susan Berger has created and you will not want to return. Truly lovely.

I was worried that it might not appeal to younger readers but then I got an email from a colleague of my son’s. Stephanie is in her early thirties and loved it enough to want to record it.

Wow!!! I absolutely loved your book and couldn't put it down! Great job!! I really got into the characters so quickly and had such emotional ties to them right away. I'm very impressed and thank you so much for sending it to me! Having had such a real positive experience reading it, I would love to narrate this book for you if you'd like me to!

Please share an excerpt of your book!

“Birthdays bite,” Sherry muttered.
“Hey, in two more years you’ll be sixty-five.” Lorena raised her glass. “Here’s to Medicare. The best present ever.”
“Cute.” Sherry stabbed Mr. Chow’s chicken satay with an ebony chopstick. “Do you ever feel like something’s missing in your life?”
“All the time.” Lorena expertly chopsticked a mixed water dumpling. “This morning I found my car keys in the fridge under the cottage cheese.”
“I’m not talking about senior moments. Heaven knows I have enough of them. I meant do you ever feel you should be taking another path?”
Lorena glanced around the celebrity-filled restaurant. “Jen Aniston’s waving at you. She probably wants to know why Now and Then is closed.”
Sherry returned Jen’s finger wave. “Halloween tapped us out. We have to restock.”
Lorena smiled back at Meg Ryan. “Ever since that piece on Entertainment Tonight you and your vintage clothing store are more popular than me, and I’m the celebrity.” She offered Sherry a dumpling. “Why would you take another path? You’re rich, thin, and you’ve got a great business. What else do you need?”
“Someone to share it with. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.”
For a moment Lorena’s eyes looked empty. She blinked and the mask returned. “There’s a lot to be said for being alone. You get to eat crackers in bed and you have total control of the remote. If you’re lonely, get a dog.”
“I feel like there has to be more.” Sherry cursed herself for making Lorena think of David and changed the subject. “I got a birthday card from Brittany and Bill.”
Lorena’s eyes frosted over. “How are the Bimbo and the Bore? Still wildly in love with each other.”
“Yeah,” Sherry said morosely. “They want to get together for dinner.”
“Sherry, I get you staying on good terms with Bill for the boys’ sake, but dinner à trois is going way beyond the call of duty. Tell them you have a date with George Clooney and you’re too busy to bother.”
“Yeah. Right.” Sherry inhaled the marzipan aroma of her Almond champagne. Normally she never had a second glass, but it was her birthday and she loved the feel of the bubbles tickling down her throat and forming a pool of liquid courage in her stomach. “You know what? I’m tired of having the only male companionship in my life come from daydreams and romance novels. I want to be loved by a real person. I’m thinking of trying online dating.”
“Are you crazy?”
Sherry rolled her eyes. “I knew you’d say that.”
Lorena's sharp tone attracted the attention of the diners at the next table. “Look! It’s Marley, the secretary on Looking for Love,” the woman informed her companion. She beamed at Lorena. “Hi, Marley.”
Lorena flipped back her streaked blonde bob, and gave the tourists her trademark ditzy smile.
Both women lifted their phones for a picture.
Lorena turned back to Sherry and continued in a lower voice. “You just cued the horror movie music in my head. When it comes to clichés, online dating is right up there with the let’s investigate moment where the heroine takes the flashlight and runs around the creepy house in the dark.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Sherry tried to lift one eyebrow and failed. “Lots of people are finding great matches online.”
Lorena shuddered. “Lots of people are not you. Honey, look at yourself. You’ve got lollipop green eyes and a sweet smile that says Take me. I’m vulnerable. You’d be Little Red Riding Hood inviting in the Wolf.”
“Stop that!” Sherry hated fairytale comparisons. She’d been dealing with them her whole life. “You’re putting me off and I want to be encouraged. I want a chance at true love.”
Lorena passed her hands over her glass. “I am looking into the future and I see . . . You and a Corgi. It’s a perfect match.”
“I don’t want a dog, I want a human,” Sherry retorted.
“I don’t get it. You’ve gone twenty years without anyone. Why now.”
“I was okay alone when I still had the boys at home, but now . . .” Sherry’s smile wobbled. “Now there’s no one to hug me anymore. I miss being touched.” She saw the echo of pain in Lorena’s eyes. Damn! She’d done it again. Sherry downed the rest of her champagne. “The kids are off having their adventures. It’s time I had an adventure of my own.”
“Why don’t you start with a little adventure? One which doesn’t involve the risk of coming home in a body bag.” Lorena pulled out her iPhone. “There’s this place Darien, my trainer, told me about called, The Castle. They’ve got themed restaurants, but their specialty is virtual reality adventures.”
Sherry shook her head. “I’m not into video games.”
Lorena called for the check. “Me neither, but Darien says this is different. It’s a virtual world. And while you’re in it, you have the ability to walk around, eat food, buy stuff, and do pretty much anything you would do in your actual life.” She looked at the email on her iPhone. “A world that seems so real, you won’t believe it’s virtual,” she quoted.
“What kind of world?”
“Whatever you want, I guess. Darien said he and Carl picked Los Angeles in the eighties.”
“Now that’s just gross. Nobody in their right mind would revisit the eighties.” Sherry took the iPhone and studied the email on the screen. “Any era? You know where I’d love to go? London, 1969.”
“It was my first adventure. I had a job with the Marketing Exchange for six months. London was so alive and I loved the clothes and the music, and . . .”
Lorena leaned forward. “How ‘bout the people? Any special person?”
Sherry felt her face flush. She couldn’t tell Lorena about Jeremy. What would she say? I once kissed a total stranger on the tube. And it was magical. “There almost was, but it didn’t come to anything.” She handed the phone back to Lorena. “I’m in. Let’s go to the sixties.” A bubble of fun coursed through her. Or was it the champagne? “Two grown women going on a VR adventure. You think this is the first sign of second childhood?”
“Honey, I never finished with my first.” Lorena scribbled her autograph on the check. “Come on, let’s go.”

What’s your current WIP?

It’s Called Kate’s Hero. It’s a contemporary romance with a touch of magic. I finished the first draft during NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month which takes place in November) Now comes the fun part. Revision! Lots of it.

I also have a children’s non fiction book called How They Wrote it about how famous authors wrote their books. Working on getting permissions for the pictures before I can shop it. I have a mid-grade novel I am still working on called Tasha the Magnificent. It’s about two girls who find a statue in Gramercy Park that they’re convinced is magic. But they can’t get into Gramercy Park without a key.

And finally, where can we stalk you?

Well, I blog with my children’s critique group at the Pen and Ink Blogspot
I tweet at @susanjberger
I write romance as Susan B. James. This is my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SusanJames?ref=hl
I have two author pages at Goodreads
Romance Susan B James
Children’s books Susan J. Berger

As soon as I manage to get a blog up and running for Susan B James, it will appear on my Goodreads page.

If you live in earthquake country or are interested in them, http://www.earthquake-book.com/ is my website for Earthquake! which won an honorable mention in the 2008 Green Book Festival.
I update the earthquake Facebook page with new earthquake information. https://www.facebook.com/EarthquakeBook?ref=hl

Thank you so much for this opportunity to appear on your blog. I wish you many sales and many more books.

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  1. You ask great questions. Thank you.!

  2. Susan, thank you for visiting.


  3. What a lovely interview. I enjoyed the excerpt. I'd like to visit London in 1969. ; )

    1. Well then, Robena, I hope you win. Love your writing.

  4. Hi Susan, Excellent post! I loved reading Time and Forever and look forward to your next release. Best of luck with sales.

  5. What a great interview. Susan, I didn't know you were married to Barry Corbin. I remember him from The Thorn Birds.

    Congratulations on all your accomplishments. You're amazing.

    1. Thank's for dropping by, Cheryl. Yeah, Thorn Birds was 1982. Barry was the workingest actor ever that year. During a break in Thorn Birds, he acted in Clint Eastwood's movie, Honky Tonk Man. He finished Torn Birds on a Saturday, started War Games on Monday and our son Christopher was born Wednesday morning. Chris, his wife Melanie and I went with Barry to the 30 year Anniversary screening of War Games last fall. Barry introduced Chris as a concrete example of how long it had been.

  6. Susan, best wishes on your many writing and other endeavors! You are one busy lady. :)

  7. Wow. you are a busy lady. Loved your interview and really felt as though we got to know you. The books sounds great. I lived in the UK for 30 years. Loved visiting London. Lived in Bristol. Now Downunder.

    1. Maggie, I've always wanted to visit Downunder. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Hi Susan,
    I enjoyed learning more about you, and wanted to let you know I have your book on my kindle and look forward to reading Time and Forever.

  9. What an exciting life, Susan! I loved learning about the many sides of Susan Berger. Thanks for the great photos!

  10. Wonderful interview, Things I never knew, so cool-
    Kit Grady

  11. "Chris, his wife Melanie and I went with Barry to the 30 year Anniversary screening of War Games."


    Was Mr. Broderick there? What's he really like? Did he bring Ms. Parker? What's she really like?

    Still Waiting Log on Log

  12. What an excellent post! I loved Northern Exposure, and really want to read your novel.

  13. Susan,
    What an interesting life you've had. I hope a little bit of it finds its way into your books. Wonderful interview. :)

  14. Thank you all for commenting. I love reading them.