Susan Berliner
Welcome to my weird world!


This blog is by Susan Berliner, author of the supernatural thrillers "DUST," "Peachwood Lake," "The Disappearance," "Corsonia," the short story collection, "The Sea Crystal and Other Weird Tales," and the new dystopian novel, "After the Bubbles." If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me.

Killer tagline - January 21, 2019

"One touch and you're dead..."

That's the tagline in my doomsday series, The Touchers, which includes After the Bubbles (Book One) and the soon-to-be-published conclusion, Soldier Girl (Book Two). In these thrillers, monsters—known as touchers—kill people just by touching them.

In this new contest, I'm asking readers to use my tagline to create end-of-the-world scenarios by substituting another method of annihilation instead of death by touch.

How would you destroy the world? "One _____ and you're dead..."

Want to enter? If so, check the Contest details here.

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Revising again - January 16, 2019

A valued reader, who's also an editor and novelist (the best combination!), just finished critiquing Soldier Girl, the sequel to After the Bubbles. In addition to finding a number of typos, the reader alerted me to several problems with the novel—some minor, but a few major.

One important issue: My teen protagonist, Erin, is much too wimpy at times—closing her eyes when she thinks she's about to die, rather than taking action or at least watching what's happening.

The reader also noted instances where characters don't behave as they should­—(e.g. react to pain). Again these are things I didn't realize until now.

It's important to have an objective reader evaluate your novel, even if you think the book is practically finished. Chances are, you'll discover that you need to make changes.

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Outline opinion - January 11, 2019

"I outline. I have to know the beginning and the end...
it's hard enough to find the right words each day;
if you don't even know what's going to happen,
it seems twice as hard."
— Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead's comments about the benefits of outlining make a lot of sense. It's probably easier to write fiction if you know what's going to happen. Nevertheless, I don't outline.

Of course, I know the beginning when I start writing a story or novel. I also know my main characters and have an idea of what's going to happen—but often that's all I have—an inkling.

As I write, my characters take over the action and guide me through the story, often moving the plot differently than I expected. Usually, but not always, they steer the action in a good direction. If the story starts going haywire, I backtrack and rewrite that part. (Even if my characters are the actors, it's still my book, and I'm the director.)

I understand why some authors need to outline, and as Whitehead says, maybe it is twice as hard to write without outlining. But to me, it's not as much fun. I discover the story along with my characters and I want the suspense of not knowing the ending until I have to write it. That's my entertainment.

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Shower power - January 6, 2019

I don't know about other authors, but I do some of my clearest literary thinking while in the shower. That's where many of my perplexing problems with stories or novels in progress are solved.

It happened again yesterday morning. In the shower, I had an "Aha!" moment when I realized a description I'd written in the beginning of my new short story, "FRIENDr," which I didn't understand at the time, made perfect sense. The reasoning must have been lurking in my subconscious, just waiting to be released.

After I figured it out, I wrote a scene in which the main character learns why she received a gift wrapped in Christmas holiday colors (green and red) in March.

It's fun to uncover the secrets in my brain!

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Writing resolutions - January 1, 2019

Happy New Year! I begin each year with my writing resolutions so, without further ado, here are my goals for 2019:

1. I resolve to finish editing Soldier Girl, Book Two of The Touchers, so I can publish the doomsday novel in early spring. This two-part series has taken an extraordinarily long time to write and edit. I'm really looking forward to completing the second book.

2. I resolve to finish editing my second collection of short stories. The thirteen stories are written and somewhat edited. Because these are short stories—not novels (although two are nearly the length of novellas)—this task isn't as daunting as Resolution #1. But editing is still time-consuming. I'm hoping to publish this short story collection in 2019.

3. I resolve to continue writing short stories. I've written one new story and have several ideas for other tales. Now I just have to write them.

Have a wonderful 2019—and happy writing!

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