Susan Berliner is the author of six supernatural thrillers ("DUST," "Peachwood Lake," "The Disappearance," "Corsonia," "After the Bubbles," "Soldier Girl"); three short story collections ("The Sea Crystal and Other Weird Tales," "George's Mother and Other Weird Stories," "Crash Effect and Other Weird Stories"); and a memoir ("Doing the Write Thing"). If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me.
The dreaded apostrophe (for the last time) - February 18, 2024
Although I've blogged about misspelled headlines in February holiday ads for many years, this will be my final post on the subject. Why? I'll explain later.
But first, a short history (and grammar) lesson: When I was a child, we celebrated the birthdays of two presidents: George Washington's (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln's (February 12), with a school vacation day for each birthday. However, in 1971, to create 3-day weekends, the government established a new holiday on the third Monday of February to honor Washington and, in most states, Lincoln.
This redesigned February holiday is called "Presidents' Day," with the apostrophe signifying that we're celebrating more than one president (not President's Day, which would honor just one leader). It's also not "Presidents Day," because it's a "Day for Presidents," which requires the possessive apostrophe.
For many years, retailers and car dealers ran newspaper ads promoting their holiday sales and a majority of the ads contained misspellings. But now, there are barely any ads in newspapers—and I read two New York City dailies. In fact, this Saturday's 20-page main section of the New York Times had just two tiny ads.
So it's not that advertisers are getting this apostrophe right, it's that they're not running newspaper ads. However, I did find one print misspelling: "President's Sales Event All Month Long!" by Nissan of the Bronx.
Online ads are another story since many web advertisers don't seem to care about punctuation. For example, Macy's and MattressFirm are both having a "President's Day Sale."
But my favorite 2024 online ad is by La-Z-Boy. A Google search turned up a "President's Day Sale" and when I clicked to the site, it boasted a "Presidents Day Sale." La-Z-Boy managed to spell the name of the holiday wrong twice!
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Crawling to the finish line - February 12, 2024
I'm coming to the end of the first draft of The Resolve, the dystopian thriller I've been writing for more than a year. At least, I think I'm nearly there. For some reason, Part Two of this book has been a struggle and when I finally finish this draft, I've still got tons of work to do.
But today I wrote a scene I really like and that gives me hope. Also, when I get closer, I've already written two scenes involving the bad guys. Of course, I have to get to that point. And then I have to write an epilogue to tie up any loose story lines.
I can't wait to get there!
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Bookless in Queens - February 6, 2024
Each February, I participate in a Military Bridge card game with long-time friends and about thirty other people in Queens, New York. And every year (except for the pandemic period), I sign my newest book for Harriet, one of the participants.
Here's a photo of the two of us in 2023 when I signed two books because of the pandemic break:
Last week before the game, Harriet rushed over to me, smiling and asking for my latest book.
"I don't have anything for you," I said.
"Oh," she said unhappily, putting her wallet back into her bag. "I was looking forward to reading your new book."
That experience (plus today's Facebook memory of a picture of me with Harriet taken seven years ago) was a reminder of how slowly I'm moving forward with my dystopian thriller, The Resolve, which I'd hoped to publish in 2023. But I still haven't even finished the first draft. I'm now trying to write more each day, two scenes instead of one.
I'd like to have a book for Harriet to read by next February.
TikTok trend - January 31, 2024
I belong to a Facebook group called TikTok for Authors, which sometimes gives me video ideas for that perplexing platform. Recently, a young British fantasy writer posted about one of her videos going viral and since it was a simple idea (and a simple video), I decided to copy the idea.
The author's short video shows her sitting in front of a computer, a puzzled look of her face, and text that reads: "When you're editing and get to a character you don't remember." As of this writing, that video has 292,000 views and 23,000 likes.
A few days ago, I posted a video of me sitting in front of my computer, a puzzled look on my face, and text that reads: "When I sit down to write, but my characters don't talk to me..." Thus far, my video has garnered 320 views and 32 likes.
I've made another video like the one above, which I'll post this weekend. Maybe it will generate more views.
Although the author with the viral video said her book sales haven't increased, I'd still like to get 200,000+ views. It can't hurt.
You can see my TikTok videos here.
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Review request - January 25, 2024
I received a message today from a company offering to find readers to review my books—for a price, of course. But that's not something I want to do. Firstly, I don't sell enough books to afford this service and, secondly, I dislike the idea of paying people (even indirectly) to review my books.
However, book reviews are important, especially to indie authors. You'd be amazed at how much a few kind words on Amazon help writers like myself. So I'm making a request: If you've read and enjoyed any of my thrillers or short stories—or if you've loved another indie author's works—please take a few minutes to post a short Amazon review. It really does generate sales.
Thanks in advance!
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Resourceful characters - January 19, 2024
I'm crawling to the end of the first draft of my dystopian thriller, The Resolve, and a few days ago, one of my characters said she had a plan to distract the villains. The trouble, however, was that I had no idea what her plan was.
This happens to me sometimes when I write: My characters know more about what's going to happen in the story than I do. Yesterday, although I still didn't know the mysterious plan, I was able to write another scene.
But today, I needed to write the scene with the plan I didn't know. I sat down at the computer, started typing, and voilà: My character set up her plan—and it was pretty good.
Thank goodness for my resourceful—and clever—characters!
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College mixer - January 13, 2024
The second part of my dystopian thriller, The Resolve, mostly takes place on a Utah college campus. To make the book more realistic, I like the idea of using an existing school for the setting. However, as I write, I'm finding that plan too limiting.
As a result, I thought about shifting gears: Maybe I should create a mythical Utah college for the book. Such a plan would give me total flexibility to have a college fit the needs of my plot. But I like the authenticity of working with a real school much better.
My latest thought is a compromise. I'll use the name of the real college and the names of many of its buildings, but fictionalize everything else about the campus: a mix and match of reality and fiction. I'm hoping this approach will solve my problem.
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Out of order - January 7, 2024
I'm getting near the end of the first draft of my dystopian thriller, The Resolve. At least, I hope this is true since I've written 54,000 words (many of them not very good).
But in the last few weeks, in addition to writing scenes in normal plot progression, I've written two scenes out of order, both at the conclusion of the novel. The last time I remember working out of order was more than ten years ago with my second novel, Peachwood Lake, when I suffered from writer's block.
The two scenes for The Resolve both involve confrontations with the book's villains. Both times, I thought of the dialogue quickly and rushed to the computer to transcribe the characters' words and actions.
Now to finish the first draft, I just have to write everything leading up to these final scenes. I'm hopeful I can reach this point by February. Fingers are crossed.
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Writing resolutions - January 1, 2024
I'm continuing my tradition of posting writing resolutions that I hope to accomplish each year. My thoughts for 2024 are similar to last year's:
* I resolve to finish writing my dystopian thriller, The Resolve. Although I resolved to finish this book last year, it's been a slow process.
The good news is that I'm nearly finished with the first draft. The bad news is even after I finish it, I still have loads to do, including extensive research that I've been putting off. Lately, I've been working backwards—writing scenes at the end of the book. Now I just have to work my way forward to that point.
* I resolve to finally finish my children's picture book. I've had the idea of a flying car in my head since I dreamt about the story more than 10 years ago. However, I've read that flying cars will be a reality in a few years, so if I don't complete this picture book soon, it will no longer be fiction.
I hope to have different resolutions for 2025. Meanwhile: Happy New Year everyone!
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