I’m delighted to join the great gang at Bloodhound Books for my adult contemporary psych thriller. I’ll have more to say about this particular book, but if you love Kendall Roy–flaws and all–and all the messy, ugly family dynamics of Succession, then this is the book for you. Murder in Montauk and Manhattan coming in May 2023.
You get these emails all the time. You know the ones.
Or “We are holding ten gazillion dollars for you as the next of kin of–“
Scams, scams, scams.
But on this particular afternoon in the middle of June, when I clicked on the email from the manager of a digital marketing for a company I’d never heard of and read that I had won the grand prize of a sweepstakes which, in all honestly, I had a vague recollection of entering–and most certainly would not have entered if I had known what the grand prize was. Just one of those things I clicked on in Twitter, of that I’m sure. Because I have no doubt that when I saw the advertisement for the movie Mr. Malcolm’s List, as a huge fan of Bridgerton, Sanditon, and Belgravia (or any period piece with mystery, romance, and intrique), I would’ve clicked or retweeted it without blinking.
My first reaction, and also that of my family, was that it was some kind of scam. It had to be. I mean, I don’t win things. I’ve won two-four bucks at Mega and Powerball, but that’s about as far as my lucky streak goes.
But I quickly did an internet search, and sure enough, there was a sweepstakes for the movie premiere of Mr. Malcom’s List. And from what I could see, there was only ONE grand prize–an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to attend the Mr. Malcolm’s List movie premiere on June 29th.
Okay. It now appeared that the contest was truly legit. But me winning it? And going to NYC for three days to stay at the Plaza Hotel.
Impossible! For many reasons.
First, I’m prone to anxiety/panic attacks. I don’t venture too far from the house. I’ve been this way for years. Therapy, medication, you name it, I’ve done it. I’m a thousand percent better from say, five years ago, but I know my limits. This trip would be pushing it.
Plus, I have a sensitive tummy. Eating out for me is an ordeal. I have to be careful, and there was no way that I couldn’t not consume food while in the city. I’m not that silly or stupid.
Who would watch the grandkids? They were just starting summer vacation. Their parents worked and relied on us. This gave me nightmares.
And our Luna, our Frenchie. Who would care for her? We couldn’t lock her up in her pen for hours on end.
Lastly, I was in a lousy mood due to family/writing/work crisis. The last thing on my mind was going on vacation.
Like I said–impossible. Never going to happen. Finis.
But life had other ideas.
Shortly after getting the first email, others came in quick succession confirming the initial email, offering congratulations, and asking for all the sweet info to get the wheels of my grand prize in motion. At this point, I still wasn’t entirely sure it was on the up and up and honestly, I was trying to think up ways to be disqualified to avoid upset and disappointment. Because, as I kept telling myself, surely a mistake had been made and I needed to get my kids off my back who were insistent that if this was real I was going, come Hell or high water.
I’m writer! A blogger! A screenwriter! A journalist! I told the sweeps people this in the interest of transparency. I mean, if they did a Google search on me, there was plenty there. But alas, they didn’t care, and my kids berated me.
Now I was really stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m fifty miles from Manhattan but it could have been five hundred. Fear, worry, and doubt gnawed at me.
So I did the next best thing: I promptly put it all out of my mind, figuring that the sweepstakes people would come to their senses sooner than later and realize that a terrible error had been made. It happens. I wouldn’t be too upset.
And that was how things were until I received, as part of the prize package, a gift card to SAKS Fifth Avenue.
Uhmmm..it suddenly dawned on me, belatedly, that no one was going to send me a gift card of this value as a scam. And no one had attempted to hack into my checking or savings accounts (yes, that idea had occurred to me).
I was forced to acknowledge that I’d won this sweepstakes. They were expecting me to show up. But with everything else going on, I wasn’t sure if mentally, emotionally, or physically that I could actually do it. I could visualize and think positive until the cows came, do my breathing exercises and OMMM. That’s easy.
But could everything fall into place in time for this trip of a lifetime that was now only days away? My hair? My make-up? And what the hell was I going to wear?
Well, despite the odds, it did.
As destiny would have it, our trip fell on my husband’s 70th birthday, and on July 15th, we be married forty-two years. I saw how excited my hubby and the kids were. How could I let them down?
And that, boys and girls, is how I landed at the Plaza Hotel in a deluxe suite with a King-sized bed with 25 carat gold bathroom fixtures, a Roman tub, had high tea at the Palm Court, rubbed shoulders with the famous and near-famous, and attended the packed premiere of Mr. Malcolm’s List at the DGA Theatre, and lived to tell the tale. And yes, I wore a mask, even in Central Park.
I’m delighted to say that the movie didn’t disappoint. it’s a lushly produced Regency-period rom-com of wit, manners, deception, intrique, and come-uppance. If you love Jane Austen, you will love Mr. Malcolm’s List. As my hubby put it, it’s a chick flick, but a good one.
Did I have some moments? Of course I did. The first night was difficult. I missed the kids and grandkids terribly, And Luna. But I pushed through it and amazed myself, if I’m being honest. And I even ate in a restaurant (yes, it was in our hotel, but I’ll take it).
And now that I’m back home chilling and wondering if that all really happened, I’m percolating new ideas based on my adventures, naturally. I’m a writer. That’s what I do.
I’m thrilled, delighted (fill in the adjective) to say that the wonderfully creative and talented David Deen has agreed to do a series of original character sketches for Violet Yorke. I’ve wanted to do this for the longest time because while I see Violet and all the other characters in my head, I’m not an artist. I can barely draw a straight line. So for inspiration, I’ve been using free stock photos from that era.
But it wasn’t enough. I wanted to see Violet on the page.
This is not my first time working with an artist, so I had a pretty good idea of what I didn’t want.
But finding the right illustrator proved daunting. Because like my determined poor little rich girl, if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. Or not at all. And I was prepared to wait to find the right artist.
And then serendpity knocked on my door.
I am forever in debit to the amazing Kaz Windness http://www.windnessbooks.com/ for hooking me up with David. The moment I saw David’s kid lit black and white sketches, I had chills–no lie. I knew in my heart that I wanted David and when I explained what I wanted to do, my vision and aspirtations, he got it immediatley.
I can’t wait to see what David comes up with, but in the meantime, please check out his work at https://daviddeen.com/
Publishing is usually slow. I mean, things happen at a glacial pace. It was true before the pandemic, but it’s even more so now. You’re lucky if you hear back something either way. And often, crickets is the response.
I started a new project in the fall of 2021. Once the kiddies went back to school in September, a wild idea took over me. I called it THE THING because I was too afraid to say the title out loud.
But this post isn’t about that book.
In early 2021 I finished my second children’s novel. I loved this book, a middle-grade supernatural historical fantasy. And I adored my main character, a poor little rich girl who survives Titanic and crashes her own funeral in 1912 New York City.
My agent at the time did not share my enthusiasm for this book and we parted ways soon after. But I’m a Capricorn. I loved this book to bits.
In October 2021, I pitched my book in a Twitter pitch party and got a like from a good, reputable, indie publisher. I didn’t get too excited because this publisher had passed on an earlier novel of mine and I’ve learned to keep my expectations low. I sent off the requested pages and promptly forget all about as I was too busy with THE THING.
From Thanksgiving on, I kid you now, we are sick. I mean, the whole family. Probably the only one who was spared was Luna, our French Bulldog. Croup, bronchitis, sinus infection, tummy troubles, cold, respiratory virus, possible pneumonia–about the only things we didn’t have was Covid and gout. I’m sick off and on but hey, that’s life.
Then in early December, the publisher from the pitch party asked to read for the entire manuscript. Now to some of you, this piecemeal approach may seem counter intuitive–why not ask for the entire document up front–but this is publishing. Some want five pages, twenty, or fifty. You learn to roll with it and have all these files prepared. Again, I sent the material off, and being as sick as I was, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Until New Year’s Day 2022. I wake up to an e-mail from the publisher asking if we could have a Zoom meeting to discuss the book. Once I get over my shock, I tell myself that must mean good news, right? I mean, no one sets up a Zoom meeting to tell an author to their face that they’re passing unless they’re sadistic and cruel.
My sinus infection still lingering, we have our Zoom meeting. Like a dope, I can’t figure out how to use the camera on my new desktop computer, but I suppose I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. Because I’m over the moon to say that VIOLET YORKE, GILDED GIRL: GHOSTS IN THE CLOSET will be published by Darkstroke Books in 2022. A New Year’s resolution finally come true. I can think of no better way to start 2022 (other than not being sick).
I say it all the time, but for a writer, it’s true.
Never give up.
Never say die.
Keep a box of tissues handy.
And for my next Zoom meeting, I damn well knew how to use the camera.