.An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

APOCALYPTO XMAS

I can't believe another year has passed and life is going great. A few years my husband Ray and I started a new Holiday tradition. We make holiday videos, no they really aren't about us just fun videos that we hope will make you smile.
This year we are happy to premiere our latest release, Apocalypto Xmas.

          Click here to view a sneak preview of Apocalypto Xmas 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING WRITERS TELL ABOUT THEMSELVES AND PASS IT ALONG



A fellow writer Georgina Young Ellis, a great writer of time travel novels asked me if I would take part in a blog chain where writers post what they are working on now for the Next Big Thing.  Her third novel, The Time Contessa will be published in Jan.

I am working currently on a blog about everything that has to do with travel  I have been  focusing lately on travel destinations around Southern California. One posting I especially liked writing focused on my hometown and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Next week I will be posting a blog about Slab City, a very interesting community just east of the Salton Sea

Every wondered what a post apocalyptic world would look like. This place will give you a glimpse of a possible future. I have started writing a novel about a future society. 

How did you come by the idea for your blog?
I had so much fun writing about my adventures working on a cruise ship in my novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships and I got so much good feedback from my readers that I just wanted to share more. Also my novel will be featured as Bargain Book of the Day at E Reader News Today on Dec 2. 

What genre does your book fall under?
My book is a funny novelization of life aboard a cruise ship, with travel and romance thrown in. I find it really hard to place it under any one genre.
Who could play these people in the movie?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
Well I wouldn't go for big stars, because mine is a story about ordinary people that anyone can relate to. I would choose Judy Greer for Sarah, she currently plays Ashton Kutcher's ex-wife in Two and a Half Men. My choice for Paul is a bloke named Aaron McCusker, he has been a bar owner on the original, British Shameless for years. In my opinion the best television show in the world. He also has dreamy eyes like my husband.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I wish I could take credit for this but a reader, Janis in Oregon wrote the perfect description on my novel, "This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads." 

What inspired you to write your book and how long did it take you to write it? 
I have always loved to travel. Ever since I was a little girl my favorite hobby was reading novels about far away places, on a hot summer day I would be Mary Queen of Scots locked in the chilly London Tower. When I was in college I studied in Mexico for a semester and after that there was no holding me down. There is a German word for that feeling -- torschlusskpanik the fear of missing the boat. In my case, literally.

While in Boston I was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, I spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. I was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad but on the downside I also watched glaciers melt at an alarming rate in Alaska, snorkeled to coral reefs killed by pollution in the Caribbean, and witnessed the devastation as the Amazon burned. It was the best education I could ever have had. Taking advantage of every opportunity to be a tour guide, I soaked in as much history as I could.

Since I had studied writing at Emerson I knew that when I went to sea I would write about my experiences. Every night spent in the crew bar I chalked up to research. I learned so much about my fellow crewmembers that I just wanted to tell our tales. The fact that my novel turned into a love story surprised me most of all.

I left ships with a handsome Scotsman who became my husband. We moved to Palm Springs and got a job in the casino industry and it is here that we wrote our novel. It is based on our true story only the names have been changed to protect us! So the very long answer is that it took years!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't know if I can compare my book to any other but I do think I like to play romance a bit like Nick Hornby. Men seem to be able to really relate to the characters. But I feel like our travel writing is unique to Ray and I.

To further the chain I will introduce you the Revita Horowitz the author of Daughter's of Iraq, a wonderful story about a family who immigrated to Israel from Iraq. Her new novel Hope to See You Soon, deals with the immigrant experience in the U.S. But just follow this link and she can tell you all about it.
Click here to visit Revita's blog about The Next Big Thing

And if you want to learn more about time travel -
 Here is the link to Georgina's blog Nerd- Girls Romantics and Time Travelers

 About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Thursday, November 8, 2012

TAKE A WALK THROUGH SPAIN - READ ABOUT THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO - GET IN THE KNOW - GET IN THE HOT SPOT

Do you remember the song, it mainly rains on the plains in Spain? Well I am here to tell you it rains all over Spain. I know because I walked the Camino de Santiago, one of the most famous medieval pilgrimages in the world. My husband and I walked five hundred miles across northern starting near the French border and ending at Santiago a beautiful city.

We have written a guest blog about our walk for Get in the Hot Spot, a very popular Australian travel blog. I love this blog because Australia is a place I visited many times over the years when I worked for Princess Cruises. The people are extremely open and very funny. It is great to read travel stories with a little different perspective than we get here in America.

So please visit our post and find out all about Get in the Hot Spot.

        Click this link to read about the Camino at Get in the Hot Spot


Cara and Ray in Santiago


The Camino changed our lives in so many ways that are hard to express in words. We have made a video of our journey and would be pleased to tell you about it.
Please go to www.caminovideo.com to find  our movie 'Camino de Santiago a walkers guide' or
Click here to find our movie at Amazon

Please check out our novel Cruise Quarters A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships about our decade working on luxury cruise ships:


About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I HAVE A GREAT IDEA - FROM IDEA TO INVENTION

I have a great idea. How many times have we said that today it is easier than ever to see an idea come to life? With websites like Quirky and Kickstarter, it is also easier to get feedback and potential financing for your idea. Today I will share a story about a woman who took that idea all the way from idea to invention.

As an inspiration today I am thrilled to present Anne Marie Daniels, inventor of wheel chair covers that are manufactured for Sure Fit. I met Anne Marie when she was leading tour groups on the cruise ships that I worked for. We reconnected after she read my novel 'Cruise Quarters'. She is a cheerful, resourceful person with a tremendous amount of patience. My mother-in- law was in a wheelchair when Anne Marie told me about her idea. I immediately saw the need for her product.  Besides being an inventor, she is an independent contractor, working in corporate events:  meetings, incentive programs and individual events out of Boston. Now I will let Anne Marie tell her story of taking her invention from an idea to a product.

What was the inspiration for your invention.
The covers started with my mother....She was my muse!  She fell and broke her hip, and subsequently ended up in a nursing home, and in a wheelchair.  It was kind of jarring seeing her in that chrome and vinyl contraption. The nursing home also kept rotating wheelchairs, which were different widths. I wanted to find a way to mark one chair that fit her well so she would not end up in uncomfortable, too-narrow chairs. Hence, the concept of the wheelchair slipcover was born! But not until I had scoured the internet and visited several medical supply stores and found out (at that time) that there was no such thing.

 THE LINK TO ANNE MARIE'S WHEEL CHAIR COVERS
After you decided it was a good idea what was the next step?
I started designing various pieces to cover the seat, the back; added a skirt - eventually figured I out how to cover the arms and then I had my final product! 

What were the obstacles that you faced. What is the patent process?
I was fortunate that a patent search yielded no other cover like mine had already been submitted or approved for patenting.  An inventor can submit a provisional patent fairly simply, which protects his design for a year.  I did that, then moved forward with a utility patent to protect the features of my cover.  A design patent only protects the look of your invention.  The biggest obstacle for me was the cost.  Patent attorney fees vary from firm to firm, so it's best to shop around.  It is a very costly process, with no guarantee that your application will be appoved for patenting.

Did you get encouragement or did people think that you were crazy?
I can honestly say that even my four brothers, who would be most critical, never said it was a stupid idea.  They were very supportive.  I never had any negative feedback, which is probably very unusual for a new product design.  Most people 'got it' and wondered why no one had thought of covering wheelchairs before.

How did you find out about the contest.
I was googling around one day and found an inventor's association here in Boston - Inventors Association of New England (IANE) -which meets monthly at MIT.  It serves as a networking tool but most importantly has a featured speaker at each meeting.  One night our speaker was Louis Foreman, publisher of Inventor's Digest magazine and CEO of Edison Nation, a product development company.  I had never heard of Edison Nation!  They produce Everyday Edisons on PBS.  Another one of EN's functions is to partner with companies in search of new products to bring to market.  I submitted my covers to the search sponsored by SureFit slipcovers, which was looking for new solutions in coverings.  My invention was vetted through a 7-step process, investigating my intellectual property, marketability, etc. before the decision was made to present to SureFit.  The rest is history!  

What are your plans now.
Well, I still haven't given up my day job!  I have another idea, but still working on the details -

Since your mother was your inspiration, and she is now deceased what do you think she would say to you.
I think she would be pleased with how far her slipcover has come.  She used to teach slipcovering and upholstery and really appreciated the ones I made for her.  I think Mom and Dad have both been giving the project a heavenly nudge along....

I want this piece to inspire anyone that has a good idea but is scared to try it out.
Associations like IANE here in Boston are located all over the country, so for any inventor looking for some support or inspiration it's a great resource.  There's no need to reveal your invention to receive help.  Attendees are a mix of inventors from those in the thought process to accomplished licensees.

Since This article was first posted  Annemarie has some news to share with us.

Well, pigs have flown and SureFit's version of my slipcovers has finally hit the big time! It debuted around Father's Day, on QVC's "Sunday Mornings with Carolyn & Dan."
Also now available on Costco's website, among others -
 

Click the link below for the actual TV segment - A little iffy on the issue of sizing, but hey, I'm not complaining!

http://www.qvc.com/Sure-Fit-Quilted-Wheel-Chair-Cover-Slipcovers-Decorative-Accents-For-the-Home.product.H199429.html?sc=H199429-User&cm_sp=VIEWPOSITION-_-6-_-H199429&catentryImage=http://images-p.qvc.com/is/image/h/29/h199429.001?$uslarge$

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Thursday, August 30, 2012

THE TOP TEN ROMANTIC MOVIES - FROM THE HOPEFUL ROMANTIC



I was listening to Katy Perry's song Not Like the Movies, when I started thinking about romantic movies and what makes the good ones work. A movie needs a good script, likeable stars and a believable premise. I love movies about ordinary people, who I can relate to. I have to feel like I could be the star in that movie. Those of you who have read my novel Cruise Quarters know that I am the hopeful romantic. So with that in mind I have given you my top ten romantic movie choices.

I hate to know too much about a movie before I see it. I like to be surprised; I only read movie reviews after I see the movie. So I will just give you a teaser about each of my picks, just enough to pique your interest. My movies span decades and continents. I have watched a lot of bad movies so that you won't have to. My top ten list is in alphabetical order. I couldn't pick a favorite.

Happy Viewing, from the Hopeful Romantic

1. 500 Days of Summer - starring Joseph Gordon - Levitt and Zooey Daschanel I saw this movie at a screening sponsored by the Palm Springs Film Society. The writer Scott Neustadter told us that this movie was based on his life story. The movie wanders through your consciousness like time does.

2. Ae Fond Kiss - starring Attat yaqubj and Eva Birthisttle Director Ken Loach This movie has a fond place in my heart because my husband is from Glasgow and lives in a neighborhood that is a mix of native Scots and Pakistanis. If you want to take the pulse of a culture this movie gets it right.

3. The Breakup - starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston How many times have you gone to see a movie and wondered, really why are these people together? A manic Vaughn plays a guys guy to the hilt, a very funny script.

4. Bull Durham starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon This movie is about a minor league baseball team in a small Southern town. It is about a time when summer seemed to last forever.

5. Chilly Scenes of Winter starring Mary Beth Hurt and John Heard This movie is based on a novel by Anne Beattie. It is about that time after college when you are trying to find a life for yourself. Anyone who has ever sat in a cubicle for eight hours a day will certainly relate to this movie.

6. Frankie and Johnnie at the Claire de Lune starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino These superstars play two ordinary people working at a diner in New York City.

7. Modern Romance starring Albert Brooks and Kathryn Harrold Albert Brooks plays a fickle guy who just can't commit. This movie feels like a replay of my dating life before I met my husband. This movie was the first romance I had ever seen that got it right.

8. Starting Over starring Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh Watch this movie and you will know why Burt Reynolds was the biggest box office star for years. I spent most of my single years in Boston where the movie is set navigating through the crazy dating scene and by that I mean most of the men I met were crazy.

9. A Town Like Alice starring Bryan Brown and Helen Morse based on a novel by Nevil Shute This might be bit of a cheat because this is an Australian mini-series. It takes the romance through many years from a Malaysian prison camp to a town in the back of beyond in Australia. This movie captures the awkwardness of reconnection and starting over in a new land.

10. The Year Of Living Dangerously starring Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson See this movie and for a few hours Mel Gibson once again becomes the sexiest man alive. Set amidst a revolution in Indonesia the country provides a dramatic backdrop. The movie provides an unlikely matchmaker in Linda Hunt.  

If any one in Hollywood is listening I have a great story about two ordinary people who meet in a very big world. It would fit in quite nicely at number eleven. 

Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. This novel about her experiences working on a luxury cruise ship is the top rated casino or cruise ship novel at Amazon. This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!" It will be featured at E- Reader News Today on September 3, as bargain book of the day. You can read more of her blog at carabertoia.blogspot.com and please let share your own picks for top romantic movies.

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Friday, August 10, 2012

CAROLINA BEACHES ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD

I am a Carolina girl; I was born in Charleston, grew up in Charlotte and went to school at East Carolina, so I know my Carolinas. I also worked on a cruise ship for five years, and what do cruise ships do? They visit beautiful beaches. Yes, the Caribbean has aqua water, and California has dramatic cliff sides, but I can tell you after crossing the globe you can't beat the Carolinas for the ultimate beach experience.

The ultimate beach experience combines food, fun, fine sand and relaxation with beaches that go on and on and on. My earliest memories are of my father taking us kids to the beach at Sullivan's Isle, an island outside of Charleston. The beach was wide with a sandbar just perfect for a five year old to wander about watching hermit crabs burrow into their holes. Shells were scattered up and down the shore just waiting to be picked up and carried home every week filled with new treasures. The sand was fine, just perfect for building and by mixing the sand with a little bit of water you were able to drizzle the sand onto your masterpiece giving your castle a fairytale effect.

And when the day was over we would visit my aunt's house on the island and shower up.  The best treat of all after a day at the beach was when we would stop off for a seafood dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront. Forget about your diets there is nothing healthy about a meal at the beach but there is also nothing that compares to fresh shrimp fried with a thin coating of flour and egg mixed with just a dash of cornmeal or crab mixed with seasoned breadcrumbs stuffed back into their shells and fried to a golden brown. Throw in a side of crisp hushpuppies with just a hint of sweetness and I am in heaven. Everywhere I have traveled around the world I have tried to duplicate that ecstasy but I can only do it in the Carolinas.

But life is not just a day at the beach. I now I live in California, but sometimes you do get to relive those golden days of your youth. I am very lucky that my best friend has a lovely beach house at Topsail Beach an island just north of Wilmington. I am even luckier that she and her husband love to take us there with them. My friend Penny and I have been going to the beach together since high school when every holiday was a chance to escape to Ocean Drive, where we shagged to beach music under the stars at the bars on the beach.
Breezeway Restaurant - 'No Extra Charge For Sunsets'

Now we are adults who are content to walk on the shore dipping our toes in the surf to cool us down. One day as we cruised up the inland waterway on a motor boat we anchored near a small beach at the tip of the island, and we walked to a sandbar where hermit crabs were still digging their holes. It was a perfect day at the beach and how do you top that off? Well that night we ate my perfect seafood meal at the family owned Breezeway restaurant located on the inland waterway. Their motto is 'No extra charge for sunsets.'  They made the best batch of hushpuppies I have ever tasted but just to be sure I had to ask for refills and I got to wash it all down with home brewed sweet tea. 

That trip was so wonderful I want to beg everyone, before it is too late before summer is over take that trip to the beach, or the lake, leave your cell phone in the car remember what it is to be a kid. Relax, take a walk, swim in the surf, or read a book on the beach. You'll remember how easy it is be seduced by the sound of the sea. 

Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. This novel about her experiences working on a luxury cruise ship is the top rated casino or cruise ship novel at Amazon. This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!" It will be featured at E- Reader News Today on September 3, as bargain book of the day. You can read more of her blog at carabertoia.blogspot.com

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

VINYL IS BACK -THE RETURN OF THE RECORD ALBUM


This year for Christmas I got a just released Coldplay album, yes an old fashioned vinyl album with a paper sleeve! It seemed so substantial compared to a CD. It all began last year when my husband told me that he wanted to buy a record player because he thought music sounded better when the needle hits the record. As a child his father - an opera buff, had owned a beautiful stereo and a huge record collection that was strictly off limits. Growing up Ray listened to most of his music on the BBC's Radio One and the television show Top of the Pops, so he never got to listen to the whole album, only the hits.

My husband is man of many interests, once he asked me to walk 500 miles across Spain, not only did we go we made a movie of our journey. He helped me write a book about our experiences working on a cruise ship. So the fact that we only owned a few albums, old Beatles albums that were framed and hung in our office, didn't faze me a bit. I said sure and wondered where this new hobby would take us.

Well it turns out this new hobby has taken us to thrift stores, the Salvation Army, and yard sales all over California. We attack a thrift store as a team, pull out all of the albums we might fancy, check them for scratches and buy the good ones. In a little over a year we have amassed a fantastic collection of over 400 classic albums for a little over $200. You can buy the same albums on E-Bay but nothing matches the thrill of the chase! Last week when traveling back from a casino reunion at Lake Tahoe we stopped in Bishop California and I found two great Frank Sinatra albums in premium condition. I felt like I had struck gold.

Our collection spans the decades from the fifties to around 1985 when CD's took over. We have records from performers as diverse as the Beatles, Jethro Tull, Blondie and Barry White. It has also introduced us to performers from our parent's generation. When you listen to the smooth sounds of Johnny Mathis or Frank Sinatra you realize why these crooners were so popular. There are also great Broadway soundtracks, like Camelot and The Sound of Music. But it's not just music; learn some history by listening to The First Family a comedic look at the life of John and Jackie Kennedy when they lived in the White House.

This year's Mad Men even had a scene where Peter Campbell proudly shows off his new console stereo housed in a massive wooden cabinet.  Pete marvels at the size of the hi-fi cabinet: “It’s a beautiful piece of furniture. It’s seven feet long.”

Ray proudly displays his collection in the cabinets he built!

Actually records have been cropping up everywhere. In last year's movie Crazy Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling puts the needle on the record as a seductive move. In the show Girls they show Charlie's apartment - a marvel of carpentry. He had custom designed a one room apartment with built-ins to maximize every bit of space, but Ray only noticed the albums on the shelves. Ray had already designed custom shelves to hold his albums. He wanted his albums to face out and be accessible like they were at 'Rockaway Records' in Los Angeles. The store is a great player in the second hand record store scene.

Once you begin looking you realize that albums are everywhere, all the castoffs from all the homes across America, a part of our heritage. They are sitting in thrift stores begging you to take them home and remember what a thrill it was to open that album you had saved all week to buy. Even an article titled 'Turntables' in the July issue of 'Wired' magazine proclaims, "If you care about the sound of recorded music, there's nothing better than vinyl. Even casual listeners can hear how much richer vinyl sounds than MP3s or CDs." As I write this the room is filled with the silken tones of Johnny Mathis.So step back in time and visit that second hand record store and you too just might be seduced.

Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Kindle Fire Dept says - If this one doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will. Cruise Quarters is a romantic comedy about a woman whose unlucky-in-love past is about to meet its match on board a luxury cruise ship departing for exotic ports around the globe. Managing to be informative about cruises and richly detailed with the locales while offering a compelling romance and plenty of laughs, this novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!

 
Click to find Cruise Quarters at Barnes and Noble

Ray and Cara have also produced the number one guide on walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
The Desert Woman calls it inspiring. 
Click the link to find the DVD Camino de Santiago a Walkers Guide at Amazon

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CASINO MOVIES THAT GET IT RIGHT


The April issue of The Atlantic ran a great article about gambling. The title was The Gambler Who Broke Atlantic City. It is a fun article to read and it really explains in an easy to read way about how to win in a casino. Don Johnson is the man who won millions in Atlantic City. The only factual problem was when the author was describing a double down hand; a dealer always turns up their hole card before they hit their hand. But as a casino professional we know that they always get it wrong. It is a rare movie or television show set in a casino that doesn't make some mistake. That is why we took so much care when we were writing Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos And Cruise Ships to get it right.


Don't even start me on 'The Cooler' there is no 'Cooler' it was just something made up to sell a movie. Walk up to any dealer and call them 'The Cooler' and watch them cringe, anyway 'The Cooler' wasn't a dealer but a player who stood behind the table. Casinos don't cheat, they may lure you in with bells and neon but the donations you make are purely voluntary.

After we both read the article my husband Ray and started talking about the few movies that have gotten it right. I enjoyed Casino and Bugsy Malone but they were a little before our time. I felt like Owning Mahowny was the best movie about the modern casino business that I have ever seen. This is a movie about an assistant manager at a Toronto branch of a leading Canadian bank. On the weekends he flies to Atlantic City where he gambles hundreds of thousands of dollars. The gambler is played by Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and his love interest is Minnie Driver. It is the most realistic portrait of a compulsive gambler I have ever seen, maybe because it is based on a true story. Set in the 80's before gambling had expanded into all corners of the country. It shows an Atlantic City at the top of its game.


Ray loved Croupier, which I also loved because who doesn't like to look at Clive Owen? Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred an aspiring writer who becomes a croupier to make ends meet and falls under the spell of casino life. Ray said it really replicated his experiences in casinos in London, he learned to deal there and we talk about his training days in our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. The dealers all used to frequent a Greek Restaurant, The Grecian Grill, after the casino closed at night just like in the movie. What male doesn't like to relive his carefree bachelor partying days? There is a heist in the movie with the usual amount of holes in the story but don't let that get in the way because it is the mood and settings that make this movie so great. 
                                                         
Both movies are a few years old so you will probably have to download them or catch them on a movie channel. But if you like to gamble and are interested in what goes on behind the scenes in a casino they are worth a watch. Or you can read all about it in our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos And Cruise Ships.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HORRORS! SWIMSUIT SEASON IS UPON US AGAIN!


What is normal these days? They sell a mixture that contains 15% pink slime and they call it lean ground beef, they put high fructose corn syrup in canned tomato soup, and when you fly on a plane you have to pay to check your baggage. These things happen and gradually we just accept them. And now in clothing sizes who the hell knows what the new Normal is?

I was dragging my husband with me shopping the other day. If he doesn’t like something I wear he lets me know it, so I decided he should go with me while I picked an outfit out, to bypass the insult. We were wandering around the department store where I was trying to find some new t-shirts. Well that might seem easy enough but I wanted a shirt that you couldn’t see through, that you could wash and that came past my belly button so that the top of my ass wouldn’t show every time I bent down.

My sweet husband picked up a t-shirt and held it up for me, “I like this it must be about your size.”

Bless his heart he had picked up a small. “A small are you kidding, have you looked at that shirt.” He held it up and I would have sworn it wouldn’t fit a young child but I looked around and we were in the women’s department.

“Well how about this one,” he reached for a medium.

“A medium, who do you think I am, Paris Hilton?’

“What do you mean - you aren’t a medium?”

“A medium, I hate to break it to you but for the last five years I have been an extra large, not a large but an extra large, and god forbid I ever throw it in the dryer.” I grabbed an extra large shirt and held it up to me.

I could see his confusion. I am 5”5’ and weigh 135 pounds on a good day, 137 on a bad one. A weight that shouldn’t be considered extra large. A weight that wasn’t considered extra large ten years ago. A weight that is a little below normal on the height and weight charts. A weight that I worked damn hard to get to in the last two years. I have lost weight but the funny thing is the more weight I lose the bigger my clothing size. I know there is something funny going on.

I am convinced that all the clothing manufacturers got together and said. Hey, how can we make the American woman feel even worse about herself? We can resize all her clothes. We will base all our measurements on a thirteen year old girl. And since everything is manufactured abroad the manufacturers can send anything over here slap any old size on it and save on materials! It doesn’t mean that the clothes will be cheaper. I keep hoping that since everything is made in China this is only a translation problem and XL really means Extra Lucky.
The perfect fit, a Grecian Slender Suit!
                                                            

But if you won't tell anyone I will let you in on a little secret. I don't dread buying a bathing suit. Would you like to know how you will never again have to stand under those unforgiving fluorescent lights in a retail store fitting room? One of the happiest days of my year is when The Lands' End swimsuit catalog arrives. For the last ten years I have ordered all my bathing suits through the internet. I choose a size larger than my own a 12 instead of a 10, and god bless, besides a great selection they even have long waisted swimsuits.

No, I don't have any affiliation with the company, and I am not getting a free swimsuit. But if they happen upon this blog and they are feeling generous I would love a Slender Suit, holds you in at all the right places, in the Sweetheart or Grecian style in that pretty rose color I saw in the catalog.

In the meantime, we the American consumer will grit our teeth and swallow a Zanax every time we have to go to the mall. It just means that if we find anything that fits we will wear it until the seams dissolve. I don't think it is as bad in Britain when my husband and I go to Scotland to visit his family I always go to Frazer's to  buy clothes because I seem to wear an average size there. As for gifts I never give anyone clothes anymore, I don’t want my friends to unwrap something labeled XL and get insulted.

Yes, our destruction is complete; the sexy, curvy American woman has been replaced by a botoxed, bleached, anorexic model. So I give up and surrender and wait for the day when I become an extra, extra large or extra, extra lucky.

Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships



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Saturday, May 5, 2012

A SHOUT OUT TO THE AMAZON REVIEWER

I was featured as Book of the Day at Kindle Fire Dept. It is such a fantastic description of my story. If you have a minute please take a look.   Click here Book of the Day at Kindle Fire Dept.
                                              
I have a few things to say about the Amazon reviewer, thank you, thank you, thank you. This week my book was featured at Kindle Nation Daily, and the first thing that a potential reader will see will be my Amazon reviewer rating, a 4.8. It is the thumbs up that the people who read my book really enjoyed it and what more could any writer want. Everyone knows that writing is a solitary past time. There are so may hurdles to being a writer that sometimes you wonder why you do it.

I remember how I got started in writing. I was dealing cards in a Lake Tahoe casino. The casino owner was a plumbing contractor from Fresno. The head of security was an ex-Mossad officer and every few weeks we would be strapped down and given lie detector tests. They let porn movies be filmed in the casino and there were rumors that he rigged the slot machines. I’m not sure if that was true but he did manage to get his casino closed down by the Nevada gaming commission, no small feat. One day a sports agent with Hollywood connections played on my game and encouraged me to write down all my great casino stories. That was the day I became a writer, well my script got as far as HBO where it was promptly rejected but that didn’t matter, I was a writer.

A year later I went back to the real world and became a systems analyst by day, writer by night. I lived in Boston, the home of perpetual students and so I was able to take writing classes and join critique groups and get better. After a few years I began working on an MA in writing at Emerson because it had connections in Hollywood. Well, just before I was scheduled to intern in Los Angeles as a script reader I got the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. My choice was spend my dwindling savings on an internship or get paid to see the world. I wasn’t scared of going - only staying. The Germans have a word for it torschlusskpanik, the fear of missing the boat.

I stayed at sea for five years and I would like to say that I wrote every day, but I didn’t. I spent those years soaking up all the history I could. The ship was my home and the crew bar was my living room and the nights I spent there were research since I planned to tell the story of all my crew-mates someday. And then on my last contract I met Ray and my novel became a love story and that surprised me more than anyone else.

We settled in Palm Springs and I began writing my novel 'Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships'. There were years of writing and editing, rewriting and more re-writing but finally I decided my novel was ready to face the world. You think that when it is published the hard part is over but it is only beginning. Then your job as an author is to do everything you can to get the word out to readers and then you wait for that special reader to find you.

But then you turn on you computer one day and you look up your book on Amazon, and you find something like this.
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Ready to Embark on My Cruise
By 
Janis  "Janis in Oregon" (Grants Pass, OR USA) -
Amazon Verified Purchase (This review is from: Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships (Kindle Edition)
This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. While I've been on many cruises, I am about to embark on a 2-week cruise and this book also is kind of a primer for setting sail. It is a fun read with interesting cruising tidbits. Go for it.

Janis from Oregon wrote a review so good that I think it is the perfect sales pitch for my book. She got it. Janis knew exactly what I was trying to do when I wrote my book. That alone makes all the hard work worth it.

It is not easy to write an Amazon review. In fact a large majority or readers never write a review. You have to go back to Amazon after you have read the book and write your review and submit it to Amazon. I also think reviewers like all writers suffer from performance anxiety. They are putting something out there for all they world to see.

But in my mind Amazon reviewers are incredible writers. Randy Benjamin (Netguider) wrote a fantastic review of my book and brought up points in the book that I had taken for granted but that really caught his attention as a reader. He always wanted to know what it was like to work on a cruise ship and now he does.  Dafna Yee loved my three-dimensional characters. I re-wrote my dialogue a hundred times to make my conversations sound natural and nuanced. Patrice Fitzgerald a great writer and the author of the political thriller Running, took my book along with her on a cruise. R.A. Brittan said it was one of the most enjoyable books she had ever read. What author wouldn't be thrilled to read that?

I use Amazon reviews all the time as a reader. I love to know what actual readers are saying about a book because they are the ones who have purchased it. Their opinion can sway me to click that Amazon buy button. I particularly enjoy going back to the review page after reading a book, it is like having you own book club where you get to discuss the book with readers from around the country.

I know that other writers feel the same way about the Amazon reviewer. I belong to 'Writing Kindle Books' a fantastic network of writers. Writers love to post their reviews. They glory in every five star review. Because everyone knows you don't write for the money but to tell your story. And the Amazon reviewer doesn't write for money either but out of the love of books. So thank you to the Amazon reviewer, the people that make it all worthwhile, keep them coming.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'GIRLS' NEED A BASIC STRATEGY OF LOVE


I am a people junkie, I want to know what makes them tick. Why do they do the things they do? Why do they fall in and out of love? Now we need to talk about Girls, the new HBO series. I love it but I will add a warning here it may not be to everyone's taste because it is very graphic. Just like the wonderful British series, Pulling, it is a tale about women in their twenties, trying to find their place in the real world. 

Image Detail
HBO GIRLS
                                                          
I don't know how they did it but the show manages to make sex seem pretty unappealing. My husband says it's almost enough to put you off porn, because we all know that sex with the wrong person sucks, whether you are twenty or sixty. But it brought me back to that terrifying time when life is full of possibilities and fraught with loose connections. I dated guys like Adam, when I didn't know if he was my boyfriend or not but I was too afraid to ask. I also dated guys like Charlie, who I promptly dumped because they were too nice. Sometimes a bad haircut was all it would take and once a guy gut dumped for bringing me a single rose, a very nice gesture.   

In my twenties I was teaching school, high school and though I loved my students, why wouldn't I, we were about the same age!. But the thought of staying in my hometown and teaching for the next forty years filled me with torschlusskpanik, the German word for the fear of missing the boat. I left for California, got a job dealing in a casino and never looked back. My job was sorted out but I still kept dating the bad boy, the elusive, uncommitted one I was going to make fall in love with me.

It took me a long time to sort myself out get married and live happily ever after, but I finally met my Mr. Right, while working on a cruise ship. We decided to tell our story in Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Stand behind a blackjack table for years, deal to thousands of couples and you learn a thing or two about people. Gamblers know that to win at blackjack you have to play basic strategy. In our novel Sarah, (my alter-ego) learns from her past mistakes to write her own basic strategy of love. Maybe hers can help Girls take some shortcuts, but probably not, we all have to suffer our own heart breaks. Girls need to throw away the self-help book they are reading and write their own. Below is Sarah's,  if you come up with a new one leave a comment here or e-mail me at carabertoia@yahoo.com. 


                           Click here for CRUISE QUARTERS


 SARAH SELDON’S BASIC STRATEGY OF LOVE

1. It’s a sure bet that if someone doesn’t introduce you to his family, he thinks there is something wrong with you -- or his family.

2. It is a mistake to fall for a strong silent type; you will get tired of doing all the talking, and he will get tired of doing all the listening.

3. Don’t fall in love with someone who is a challenge; if you want a challenge, go climb Mt. Everest.

4. It is not important that you share all the same interests, only that you are both open to new and different things.

5. Some people think a relationship has to include drama; without drama it can’t be love. Drama is just drama, not love. If you want drama, go see a play.

6. The first time someone cheats is never the last time someone cheats; it is just the first time someone cheats.

7. Never get involved with someone who blames all his problems on others; you will soon be one of the others.

8. Never go to bed with someone if you aren’t sure he will be there in the morning.

9. If there is something wrong in a relationship, you know it. He stops looking you in the eye, he doesn’t call every day. People always have a tell. They always leave a clue, you just have to look for it.

10. The golden rule of love is this: always be with someone who likes you just the way you are, quirks and all. Always love someone just the way they are. You can change sheets, not people.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships



Friday, April 6, 2012

THE BEST PART OF CRUISING - SAILING AWAY FROM IT ALL


People always ask me why I love cruising so much. What makes it so special? They ask me this because I once worked on a cruise ship. I love cruise ships because I love the ocean. But what make a cruise ship so special? Well my favorite thing about a cruise ship is the sail away. I know that you also sail into a port but that usually happens when you are fast asleep in your cabin encased in your soft, high thread count luxury sheets. But sail away is a time when most of the passengers gather on the deck to watch the ship leave a port, drink frou-frou drinks and wave at those unfortunates on the dock that won't be sailing with us. This week I will tell you about my favorite place to sail away from.

My number one place to leave is Venice, and not because I want to get away but because I love Venice so much. In fact much of the first chapter of my novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships is set in Venice. One of most memorable experiences was planning a pizza party on the crew deck. Earlier in the day I had bought cheap bottles of red wine in town but I didn't have to bring the pizzas because onboard an Italian head chef made sure that the pizza was thin and crispy with just a smattering of sauce and cheese that is hard to duplicate in American but can be found in any town in Italy.

The most beautiful sail away in the world - Venice, Italy

The sail away from Venice was set in the late afternoon for the greatest dramatic appeal. The whole city takes on a golden glow. It is a balmy summer day, with the movement of the ship creating a soft breeze on deck. The ship meanders past medieval houses and cathedrals painted in muted earth tone colors. The harbor is crowded with water taxis, gondolas, and boats moving produce and goods through the canals. Commerce moving as it has for thousands of years. While the ship meanders past all of this splendor all the casino staff are lounging on the crew deck, sipping local red wine and chewing on crispy hot, fresh pizza that has just been delivered from the kitchen.

And then we sail past St. Marks Square, if there is a more beautiful place on earth show it to me. Thousands of tourists are gawking at the Doge's Palace and the Basilica waiting for the The Moor to strike his bell. The music from the violinist playing in the square is barely discernable from the ship. The day is perfect, the chance for days like that are why I lived on ships for many years.

I know that some of you have been to Venice, some left by plane where long lines and customs awaited you. Some of you went by train and what a great way to see the countryside. But just for me I will always cherish those sail aways from Venice.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

Friday, March 23, 2012

CARA BERTOIA INTERVIEWED BY AUTHOR MATT POSNER


This week I was interviewed by Matt Posner the talented author of School of The Ages.


What's your name, where are you from, where do you live?
My name is Cara Bertoia and I live in Palm Springs, Ca. It is a beautiful little town on the edge of a very big desert surrounded by chocolate colored mountains.

What do you write and why do you write it?
I write stories about my life, the lives of people around me and I try to write funny and romance is about the funniest thing I can think of.

Recommend to readers a book you have written.
Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos And Cruise Ships is the # 1 cruise ship and the #1 casino novel at the Kindle store. It was chosen as 'Read of the Week' at Tripatini.com.
 

The Review Girl blog raves, "Cruise Quarters is an amazing travel novel which is as much about romance as it is about travel (the novel is based on their real-life love story)."
It is a fun, fast paced tale of working in the casino aboard a Regal Cruises cruise-ship. It is based on a true story and was written by authors who have decades of experience working on luxury cruise ships and in casinos across the globe.

But a reader Janis from Oregon wrote a review that is so good that I think it is the perfect sales pitch for my book:
This review is from: Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships (Kindle Edition)
This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. While I've been on many cruises, I am about to embark on a 2-week cruise and this book also is kind of a primer for setting sail. It is a fun read with interesting cruising tidbits. Go for it.

Recommend to readers a book by someone else.
I would like to recommend three books that address the torture that is dating. I like them because they made me laugh, and I could really relate to the characters. The first is Scratch by Danny Gillan, it is a funny tale about lost love set in Glasgow - my husbands hometown. I had been to so many of the settings in the book I felt right at home. Next is Suzanne Tyrpak, Dating My Vibrator because haven't we all dated our vibrator once or twice. And lastly Dreamboat (The Frisky Chronicles) by Frisky Dimplebums this is just a short read that makes you cringe but you shake your head and go I've been there. Don't forget to read Frisky's biography.

I have Suzanne Tyrpak's book on my Kindle. I could tell some funny vibrator stories, but I'm a young adult author, so....
Okay, just one. When I was in college, I went to a party in a dorm room where two girls lived. One of them (whose name, Tara, I will not reveal) had a vibrator which appeared in the midst of the party. Someone set it down on the tile floor and turned it on, and it spun around and around. You can imagine how funny this would be at a college party. I was sober and I nearly fell over from watching it. Okay, that's it for vibrator stories. Your stories are better than mine, anyway...

Tell an interesting experience from your life as a writer.
After I graduated college I got a job teaching high school in North Carolina. On a summer break I drove across country with two friends and we all got jobs in a casino in Lake Tahoe. Tahoe was a beautiful place and casino jobs were the best ones, especially dealing. They all went home and I stayed. I worked at Caesars Palace for a few years but then I moved to the North Shore of the Lake. The place I worked at was an old school casino it had been a rat pack hangout in the old days and even now autographed photos of movie stars adorn the walls. The casino sat right on the lake and as I dealt I looked out at a beautiful view of the crystal blue lake. The border between Nevada and California ran down the middle of the casino.
 

The owner was a plumbing contractor from Fresno. The head of security was an ex-Mossad officer and every few weeks we would be strapped down and given lie detector tests. They let porn movies be filmed in the casino and there were rumors that he rigged the slot machines. I’m not sure if that was true but he did manage to get his casino closed down by the Nevada gaming commission, no small feat. One day a sports agent with Hollywood connections played on my game and encouraged me to write down all my great casino stories. That was the day I became a writer, well my script got as far as HBO where it was promptly rejected but that didn’t matter, I was a writer.

Tell an interesting experience from a non-writing job you've had.
A year later I went back to the real world and became a systems analyst by day, writer by night. I lived in Boston, the home of perpetual students and so I was able to take writing classes and join critique groups and get better. After a few years I began working on an MA in writing at Emerson because it had connections in Hollywood. Well, just before I was scheduled to intern in Los Angeles as a script reader I got the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. My choice was spend my dwindling savings on an internship or get paid to see the world. I wasn’t scared of going only staying. The Germans have a word for it torschlusskpanik, the fear of missing the boat.
 

I stayed at sea for five years and I would like to say that I wrote everyday but I didn’t. I spent those years soaking up all the history I could. The ship was my home and the crew bar was my living room and the nights I spent there were research since I planned to tell the story of all my crewmates someday. And then on my last contract I met Ray and my novel became a love story and that surprised me more than anyone.

If you had a brush with death, describe it.
One night after dinner a friend and I were walking on the sidewalk in Brookline, Mass. We paused to window shop when a car slammed into a pole just in the spot we would have been if we hadn't stopped to look into that shop. That car would have flattened us, so I feel like I really just cheated death by a few seconds.

What are your views about love?
In my novel Sarah Seldon writes her Basic Strategy of Love.
I will share number 10 with you.
The golden rule of love is this: always be with someone who likes you just the way you are, quirks and all. Always love someone just that way he is. You can change sheets, not people.

Give me a link to a funny youtube video.
This is a funny video we made about Christmas in Beverly Hills a few years ago.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZXbaGCjTmc

Where can readers look up more about your work?
The address for our blogs are:
http://casinosandcruiseships.blogspot.com/
http://tablegamesconfessions.blogspot.com/
http://carabertoia.blogspot.com


 
Click to find Cruise Quarters at Barnes and Noble