.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, 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