Interview with Lori Berberian Pelentay

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I started out with Kindle, and it interfaces so nicely with my IPad and IPhone, so I've stuck with Kindle. However, you will find me voraciously reading on my Iphone wherever I am...in line at the supermarket, waiting for one of my children, you get the picture!
Describe your desk
Oh boy...that's a loaded question! To the untrained eye, it looks like a mess! But I know where EVERYTHING is! There are piles of paperwork everywhere...all perfectly organized in my controlled chaos! LOL! My computer monitor is covered with post-its with details I need at my fingertips, and I've had the same calculator since 1988...I'm serious! One of those $5 calculators that runs on solar power. It's the only one I like!

I do not write my books at this desk, however. I take my laptop into the kitchen and sit at the kitchen counter, looking out into the garden for inspiration. It's completely clutter free, and allows me the freedom to immerse myself into my world, whether it's a cruise ship, travel agency or Turkey in 1915.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Pasadena, California. I've always been a voracious reader, but never really thought of writing until 1987. My friends, Mary Bowers, Pam Kimmel and I were sitting by the pool reading romance novels...we all decided then and there that we could write better than this author (who shall remain nameless, but who has sold millions and millions of romance novels throughout her career). We worked for over a year on our own romance novel set on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. We never finished because I got a job on board an actual ship in of all places, the Mediterranean!

I didn't pick up a pen again until 2011 when I felt compelled to write a book for travel agents about how to sell cruises. There were so many new travel agents who wanted to pick my brain about how to run their businesses, so I thought why not put it all in a book and make it easily available. Thus my first book, "How to Sell Cruises Step-by-Step" was born!
When did you first start writing?
As mentioned in a previous question, I started writing in 1987 with my two friends, Mary Bowers and Pamela Kimmel. We were so disgusted with the drivel being published as romance novels, so we decided to write our own. Drawing on our own experiences while cruising, we created a story that takes place onboard a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Romance, intrigue and adventure await the heroine, Charlotte (or Charlie as she is fondly called) and her best friend Pamela. We never did publish it, and now, we're not quite sure what to do with it. We wrote it in 1987 and 1988, so it is set during those years...do we update it with all the new technology, such as cell phones and email, etc? Or do we leave it set in 1987, complete with no laptops, big hair and shoulder pads? That is the question being pondered 26 years later!
What's the story behind your latest book?
'How to Sell Cruises Step-by-Step' came from a need to impart my 30 years of travel experience to all the new travel agents I was meeting. Whenever I spoke at a convention, or socialized at a travel agent function, I always met new travel agents with a myriad of questions. It just seemed easier to put all my knowledge into an easy-to-read book that they could have in their office. I've received several emails saying how enjoyable it was reading about how to sell cruises and that they were able to implement the easy techniques in their own businesses.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I never really thought about going the traditional publishing route with my first book, "How to Sell Cruises Step-by-Step." I thought it would be better self-publishing so then I could have the control of where to market my book. I also garnered much higher royalties with each book sold. I wasn't sure if there was a publisher who would be interested in a book that's exclusively for travel agents, so I didn't want to waste any time awaiting answers to query letters, and just got on with the business of publishing it once it was edited and a cover was designed. I can't tell you how happy I am with each email I receive telling me how much my royalties are for the month! I know at any given time EXACTLY how many books I've sold and how much to expect in my bank account!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's something incredible that happens inside when you've completed your book. Each writing session elicits a feeling of accomplishment that I haven't been able to replicate in any other undertaking. It's truly me on the page, pouring out my heart; whether it's a non-fiction book about how to sell cruises, or a historical fiction book (that I'm currently working on) that takes place in 1915, each word, each page is my own creation. That is my greatest joy...the joy of accomplishing something unique that will enrich the lives of others.
What are you working on next?
My current novel is set in Turkey in 1915. It is a story of survival of four Armenians living in a time of genocide. It's a story of hope, love and honor told through the eyes of a young woman who is based on my great-aunt Violet. Violet wrote her memoirs and gave them to me in the hopes that I would write her book and tell the world her story. I have chosen to use her book as a foundation, but expand the story with two other fictional characters who will bring a richness and truthfulness to it. There are some incredible things that happen that are absolutely true, and shed light on this horrible time in Armenian history. Rather than make this story negative and dark, I hope to bring a lightness to it...I will not ignore the realities of the time, but hopefully the good that happened will overshadow the darkness.
Who are your favorite authors?
Of course I love the classics...Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens...all such masterful storytellers! And all wrote amazing characters that live on for centuries!

I am currently enamored of Preston and Childs who write so beautifully and tell a suspenseful tale that keeps me turning the pages. I also enjoy Erica Bauermeister who has an incredible way with words and phrases. Her "The School of Essential Ingredients" is currently one of my favorite books of all time. SO many authors...so many books. It's hard choosing just a few, but these are who I'm currently reading.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Truthfully, for me, each and every day is a GIFT from God! I should have died two years ago, so I am living on borrowed time. I try to see friends every day, and I still have children living at home, so I get up to see them. They are my joy and inspiration! My mom is also alive, so she doesn't let me stay in bed too late! She's a morning person, so she gets feisty around 10am and either calls or comes over to see what I'm doing. Ah, no rest for the weary! LOL! But I'm grateful for every day that I have with her. My work also inspires me...I write at the oddest times, but you must write when the muse moves you, so I always have a notebook and pen at the ready.
What is your writing process?
Ah, this is almost embarrassing! Do you really want the truth? Can you handle the truth? I usually write when I'm in the bathroom! I'll be taking a shower, and the chapter I am working on becomes clear, complete with dialogue, so I'll jump out of the shower, grab a pen and start madly scribbling in my notebook! I also write in the middle of the night. I'll be lying in bed, and again, the writing muse hits, my next chapter becomes clear, and I'll jump up, grab a pen, and I'm off for the next hour or two writing away into the wee hours of the night! Many chapters have been written...on the toilet! Yes, I admit it. It's the only place where I sit with regularity and don't have anyone bothering me! LOL! So, there you have it. The truth about my writing process. But hey, it works! So I don't knock it anymore!
Published 2013-09-25.
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Books by This Author

How to Sell Cruises Step by Step
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 38,100. Language: English. Published: April 28, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Cruises, Nonfiction » Reference » Careers
Whether you are a new or seasoned agent, this beginner's guide to selling cruises provides a checklist of everything you need to know to make cruise bookings. It discusses different cruise lines and elements of a cruise booking, including reading deck plans, money matters, and how cruises work. A bonus chapter teaches how to organize your office, with sample forms for keeping track of bookings.