.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, October 11, 2012


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.

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!


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

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