.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.

Friday, March 23, 2012


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.

Where can readers look up more about your work?
The address for our blogs are:

Click to find Cruise Quarters at Barnes and Noble

Thursday, March 15, 2012


To continue my post about going to see top entertainment in the Los Angeles area without spending a dime. As I said in my last post, to go see a taping, the best site on the Internet for free tickers is www.audiencesunlimited.com but in all my trips to the website I had never seen tickets for Hot in Cleveland, so when I saw them offered I snatched them up. 

Hot in Cleveland is funny, silly and corny, just the humor I can relate to. My novel Cruise Quarters is all about dating and romance on a cruise ship so a show about four single women is right up my alley.
The list of actresses on this show is like a comedienne's hall of fame. Now I know my descriptions of these actresses will be redundant to most of you but I do have readers across the globe and they might have some catching up to do. These are the people we all grew up with. Jane Leeves, Niles crush on Frazier, sweet and pretty with that adorable British accent. Valerie Bertinelli, Americas darling from One Day At A Time, lived the rock star dream marrying and then divorcing Eddie Van Halen. Wendie Malick from Just Shoot Me, she gave narcissism a good name. She may not have married a rock star but Huey Lewis plays her on again off again lover on Hot in Cleveland. Then we have the spectacular Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore where she played the tasty cook show host, to the Golden Girls where she was the hapless Minnesotan. She gets more action on this show than the rest of the girls because she is the immortal Betty White.

We arrived at the studio a few hours early to scope the parking situation out. We were going to return later but a line had already formed. We talked to some people in line and they advised us not to leave. Even though you might have a ticket to Hot In Cleveland, if you weren't among the first to arrive you might not get in to see the show. Apparently, this was the hottest ticket in town, so we parked the car and chatted with a diverse group who spend all of their time catching the latest tapings. One of the girls next to me was a script writing student from UCLA. Her assignment was to watch a real taping of a show.

Well I am happy to report that two hours later we made it and took our spots as 'audience laughers'. The guests that night were a Jonas brother and Jennifer Love Hewitt. The Ladies did not let me down. They were beautiful, funny and sexy. They seemed to be having a great time, laughing at their flubbed lines the outtakes alone could have filled a blooper reel. But that is what makes a live taping so special. Ray and I couldn't decide who was funnier, Betty White or Wendie Malick, but lets fact it the narcissist delivers all the best lines.

Everything played out like our previous tapings. Before the show the warm up comic told jokes, the interns served sandwiches and we laughed until our jaws hurt. The show makes all women want to move to Cleveland, where there seems to be an endless supply of available handsome men, that sure would have improved my dating life. But if you can't make it to Cleveland you can visit the girls in Burbank.

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, March 1, 2012


This weeks blog was written by Ray. I would like to add a disclaimer that we actually sell a movie Camino de Santiago a Walkers Guide a non-fiction account of our walk.

A movie review of The Way by Ray Bertoia:
 I was very excited to finally see a movie that was set on the Camino De Santiago. I hoped it would give a good overview on the trials of walking the Camino while of course the narrative is moved along by the central characters necessary in any drama. Did it succeed? Well yes and no.

The storyline centers around a father walking the Camino in the place of his deceased son and the various characters he meets up with along the way. I'm not going to give away the actual plot here since I don't want to spoil the movie for those who have not yet seen it. As he travels along the Camino various aspects of life on the Camino are gradually revealed to the audience. We see inside a few Refugio's, walk through the forests and spend a little time in some of the towns along the way. Everything is pretty accurate even at the end when the Compostelas are awarded. For those who wish to see an entertaining movie, and also maybe learn something along the way, the film is on the money. An entertaining story and a look at a world you probably didn't know existed.

I don't think however that this film would actually inspire someone to start making plans to walk 500 miles. Perhaps it was the time of year, but to my mind everything looked very bleak. The real camaraderie of the Camino was also missing. Also lacking was the reality of getting up every morning and starting to walk, day after day after day. Where were the aching feet, the absolute exhaustion at the end of some days, even the problem of doing laundry? It seemed that these people never had any of those problems; every day was just another stroll in the park in fresh clothes for them.

I did enjoy all the philosophical discussions about what makes a true pilgrim. Can you go on a bike? Can you stay at a nice hotel? Why are you walking? The competition among the pilgrims from all over the world is always quite amusing. Also I enjoyed the history of the Camino a walk that has inspired people for over a thousand years. To wake up every day and walk the path taken by millions of other pilgrims is quite inspiring.Watching the movie I did get a thrill when I saw the sites I had seen along The Way.

There are plenty of scenes showing the various churches and cathedrals but very little showing the charming villages and the warm hearted locals. Even Pamplona is dismissed as a disappointment, just another town, let me tell you it was quite beautiful.

So overall, if you want an entertaining movie, this is just fine. If the movie peaks your interest then please check out the Camino and if you have a trip like my wife and I then it will be one of the highlights of your life.