How it happened: I belong to a Children’s Literature Critique Group called Pen and Ink. Kris Kahrs, our devisor of interesting things for us to do, suggested we four needed to have an online presence in the Children’s Book writing world. On October 28th, 2009, I wrote my first Pen and Ink blog post, November is Officially Write a Novel Month.
In order to get the information to write it, I had to register for the 2009 NanoWriMo . I had no intention of joining that year's marathon. But my inner voice kept nagging me. You signed up for it. The least you can do is try. So on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 I sat down at my computer with not an idea in my head. On November 30th I finished the first draft of an adult time travel romance, Second Chances.
I couldn't wait to show it off. But, of course it wasn't in any shape to be seen. My first drafts are illegible. I’m a terrible typist. In April 2010 I showed it to my sister, Kelly, who is my biggest fan and she loved it.
Then I got sidelined by unexpected open heart surgery. Life is full of second chances. In 2011, two rewrites later, I ran it by a few agents. No response.
At the 2012 Brenda Novak's On-line Auction for Diabetes Research, I bid on a critique from Soul Mate Publishing and didn't win it. But I liked the sound of the company. I got their submission guidelines and queried them. By 2012, I knew I needed an eBook publisher. There is a logic problem if two women in their sixties time travel back to 1969, and it's published later than 2014
I got a request from Cheryl Yeko asking for a more complete synopsis. I revised the synopsis and sent it to her with hope in my heart. She replied requesting the full manuscript. Needless to say, I was over the moon. Four days after sending her the manuscript, Cheryl sent me a letter, detailing revisions to be made before they could offer a contract.
Now I don't have a romance critique group, and I felt odd sending it through Pen and Ink because it's a children's book writers critique group and Lupe's a guy and I was afraid his eyes would bleed. But they said send it. So I did and, chapter by chapter, Kris and Hilde and Lupe helped make the manuscript so much better. I sent it back through one more time for a full read. I also sent it to Nancy Stewart, a fellow Guardian Angel Publishing writer who returned it with a fabulous line edit.
In June, 2013 I sent the heavily revised manuscript to Cheryl. Four days later I got a contract offer. (HAPPY DANCE at home, on the phone, and on the internet.) After four more rounds of edits, two cover tries and a name change (Seems there are a lot of books titled Second Chances. Soul Mate publishing had accepted three.) Time and Forever hit Amazon on January 29, 2014.
I wasn’t sure how younger readers would react to the heroines being in their sixties. The response has been lovely. Readers want to know the need for love goes on and that Happy-Ever-After can occur later in life.
This year, it became eligible for contests and Anne and I are both nominees in the Time Travel Category in InDTale Magazine’s RONE Awards. How cool is that?
SO VERY COOL!
Time and Forever is available on Kindle, in paperback, and as an audio book (if you own the Kindle book, you can buy the audio book for 1.99 Stephanie Bentley, the narrator did a wonderful job.)
1969. Love was free, man walked on the moon, and Sherry and Lorena found the loves of their lives. Sherry shared a kiss that dreams were made of, with a stranger on the tube in London. And ran away. Lorena found the love of her life in Los Angeles and married him.
2014. Sherry’s a successful businesswoman with two grown sons. Lorena’s an actress on a popular sitcom. Sherry’s husband dumped her for a younger woman eighteen years ago. Lorena’s husband died of cancer.
Sherry wants a second chance at Love. Lorena doesn’t believe that’s possible. But when a glitch in a Virtual Reality Adventure game sends them back to the real 1969, anything can happen.
“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.”
While not devouring another delicious book from the New York City Public Library, she pursued her acting career, keeping herself financially afloat with temp work.
She met and married her true love and got to sing in a Broadway musical. They moved to California where they could pursue TV and Film. Two children and two grandchildren later, Susan is still a bookaholic and absolutely believes in magic and Happily Ever After.
Besides being a novelist and an actress, she is also a children’s book writer.
Susan B. James is the grown up pen name for Susan J Berger ans she lives in Los Angeles.
To connect with Susan, check out her blogs:
Susan B James
The Pen and Ink Blogspot
And through Social Media:
Facebook Author Page
Twitter I tweet as SusanJBerger
Thanks for blogging with me today, Susan and best of luck with your RONE Nomination! I read Time and Forever and loved the second chances!
Readers----leave a comment and you will be in a drawing for one of TWO e-books of Time And Forever!