Kathy Berman is both a member of my Critique Group AND a participant in many of the online forums I belong to (12x12in12, PiBoIdMo).
I truly enjoy sharing a real-life and online relationship with her. We can even chat about our online friends and it makes it all the more real.
As a writer, Kathy's work is playful and insightful. There is no doubt in my mind that her dedication to her craft will pay off BIG TIME!
It is with pride that I introduce another stellar member of my Critique Group, Kathy Berman...
What do you do in real life?
I recently retired from teaching in NYC elementary schools. In between I worked in the NYC garment district as a textile designer. I am now living happily ever after doing what I love to do-- writing children's picture books and creating assemblages and sculptures using found objects.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a kid, I wrote plays with my friends. I became obsessed with incorporating the story with the musical hits of the time. So I guess you could say we put on musicals in the garage that no one wanted to watch, except for the little kids that we bribed. As a teacher, one of my favorite times of the day was teaching writing to my students. It was then that I realized I had stories to tell as well.
How often do you write? Where? What time of day?
I write at least 5 days a week, at any time, even in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.
I try to alternate my writing time with my art, but lately I've been doing more writing, thanks to the motivation I get from the fabulous 12 X 12 group. I usually write on my laptop in every room of the house.That is the one drawback of being a writer, you have to sit a lot, so I move from chair to chair throughout my house. I also write on little pieces of paper that I keep in my purse when I am not home. I should carry a notebook.
What was your favorite story/book as a child? And why?
I have to admit I didn't read much when I was a kid. We didn't have books in the house and no one read stories to us. I came from a family with five kids, so my mom was busy. But my friend had the Walt Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, which totally enchanted my senses. Later on I read the “real” version. I love everything about this imaginative adventure; the illustrations, the characters, the intrigue, language, and drama.
What kind of stories do you like to write? Where do you get your inspiration?
I like to write humorous stories with quirky characters that surprise the reader. I absolutely loved reading aloud to my own children as well as to kids as a teacher. Their reactions are always priceless. Kids, nature and every day life inspire me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. I used to practice being a teacher in my neighbor's garage. We had it set-up with fake black boards and make-shift desks. And now I plan to be a published author (because I'm still growing).
If you could go back in time and tell your eight year old self one thing, what would it be?
Read, read, read.
What was the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?
I have to say, “write what you know” is probably on the top of the list. But reading the current picture book titles as well as the classic is crucial for understanding pacing, structure and voice. I spend many hours reading picture books in the library and at Barnes and Noble. It has given me a sense of what works and what doesn't. SO many great books out there, and so many others, you wonder why they ever got published. My third piece of advice I was given was to join a critique group. I am fortunate to be in Marcie's group. Constructive feedback from my group has been essential to my journey to getting published. Sorry I gave more than one piece of advice, but they have all had an impact on my writing.
Do YOU have a Friendspiration that you would like to introduce us to? If so, email me at email@example.com and I'll make it happen!