By Cassandra Reinhart, Special to the Independent
With eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren between them, you’d think sisters Nancy Meyer and Susan Lerner wouldn’t have time to write a book.
“We have dubbed ourselves two grandmas with a purpose,” said Lerner, who is 74 and lives in Los Angeles. “We had no idea what we were doing and expected it really never to be published.”
Lerner and her 71-year-old little sister, Laguna Beach resident Nancy Meyer, published their steamy debut romance novel “September Somewhere” this fall. The novel follows three law school classmates through life after college, and the lingering romance and relationship dynamics between the three characters.
“It’s just the relationship, and how they change over the years,” Meyer said. “And there has always been this sexual tension between two of the characters. They all meet somewhere every September.”
The book is more than just a creative outlet for the sisters, it’s also a passion to help find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gherig’s Disease. The disease causes the death of neurons in the brain that control voluntary muscles, eventually impairing breathing. The sisters lost their father to ALS 22 years ago, and have since made helping researchers find a cure their life’s mission. They have dedicated all proceeds from the sale of “September Somewhere” to the Packard Center for ALS research at Johns Hopkins University. So far, they have raised over $1,800 toward ALS research from book sales.
“When we dedicated the book to our parents, our dad really gave us this love of reading and literature, and he passed away from ALS,” Meyer said. “So we decided all the proceeds would go to ALS research. That’s our greater mission now, and we try to teach that giving back to our grandchildren.”
It took the sisters almost two years to write the book during weekend sister retreats and late-night email exchanges. Both are busy beyond grandkids and serve on boards of non-profits; Lerner on the UCLA Semmel Institute and Cedars Sinai hospital boards in Los Angeles, and Meyer on the boards of the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine, the Laguna Dance Festival and the Orange County United Way.
“It took a long time since both Nancy and I have very busy lives outside of this project,” Lerner said.
And as with the juiciest secrets between sisters, they told no one what they were doing, not even their husbands, until they were done with the book.
“We never told anyone else about this project until it was finished,” Lerner said. “Then we gradually admitted to writing a romance novel.”
Both sisters said their families and spouses were wholeheartedly supportive of their venture as authors. The toughest conversation they had was explaining to their 25 grandchildren and great-grandchildren that grandma had written a sexy romance novel.
“We talked to our older grandkids and said, look, your grandmothers are writing this book. We don’t want you to be embarrassed,” Meyer laughed.
This fall the two have been making the rounds at book signings to promote the book, and “September Somewhere” is also now available at Laguna Beach Books, Boulder Books in Boulder, Colo., and on Amazon for $24.99, where it has six five-star reviews from readers. The sisters decided to self-publish the book with the help of a publishing consultant, and aren’t wasting anytime as they are already working on the sequel.
“It was wonderful bonding time for us as sisters,” Lerner said. “We were already very close but this really gave us special time together. Each of us brought something to the writing that the other did not.”