Friday, September 21, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Kathy Berman

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 and I'll make it happen!


  1. Great interview, and great to get to know Kathy better. I just have to say, Marcie, you have one AWESOME crit group!

  2. It is an honor to be featured on your blog Marcie! Thanks for the intro and your vote of confidence in my dream to get published.

    And yes Beth, our crit group is awesome! Thanks!

  3. This is an amazing idea! Friendship appreciation. I love it! And I loved reading about a fellow writer. It's always inspiring to read about someone else who writes!

  4. It's great to know Kathy and have her as part of our crit group. Her comments are always thorough, insightful and always POSITIVE! Way to go, Kathy. And, as always Colleen- your leadership of this group, encouragement to all its members and your blog are super and so appreciated! Pauletta

  5. Another nice interview for Friendspiration Friday! I love that you always wanted to be a teacher! I'm sure your students benefited greatly from that!

  6. Thanks for your positive comments Pauletta. I really enjoyed our last session, I learn something new each time. And the encouragement we get from the group is such a plus.

    Yes Penny being a teacher had its rewards. I was and still am inspired by children. I love their spontaneity and they are the best audience to write for.

    1. Excuse me for invaiding here, but I Googled Kathy Berman, seeking to find a friend from Cal State Northridge (CA), and this popped up. This Kathy actually looks allot like the Kathy I knew in College, but that puts her in California, and not NY. However , I was sure her famly was in Florida in the early 70's. I am Lynda Faye Phillips-Graduation name, Phillips---I suppose this Kathy Berman could be a relative-but , if not, please excuse the POST. If I am correct, and this is Kathy, the one I knew, Pls tell her I have three childrens' musicals I can't seem to get out there, and am still writing, and am at The IllinoisHarmonyConnection, You Tube, and CDBaby,as "LyndaFaye". I remember Kathy and I were in Education classes together at CSUN. I'm hoping she's the same person!! Thanks! You can have my phone number too...805-616-7394.

  7. 'Write what you know' used to be a vague piece of foggy advice, but FYI, my only published book (so far) is based on a real experience I had as a teacher (Keep Your Ear on the Ball, Tilbury, 2007). So, yep - write what you know!!

  8. Happy to know you better Kathy! Your warmth and generosity comes through in your critiques...which is always a good thing for us artistic types:)

  9. Kathy, it was great learning more about you! You are a consistent and positive presence in our critique group. Your dedication and hard work are evident in your writing and I enjoy reading your work:)