Tag Archives: New York City fiction

The Inside Story on the “Inside Story” at Bank Street Books

The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators sponsored a nationwide event called “The Inside Story” and I was lucky enough to be part of it at the Bank Street Bookstore on the Upper Westside of Manhattan on Saturday…

Inside Story Event at Bank Street Bookstore - Nov. 2013

The middle initial “J” is VERY popular amongst writers.

Inside Story - waiting in the wings

Here I am “waiting in the wings” next to Paula J. Freedman, author of My Basmati Bat Mitzvah (note her middle initial). She’s a fun lady who used to work with my friend Linda at Scholastic, who was in the audience beaming and snapping these pix with her phone. The lovely redheaded woman (Mackenzie) was timing our presentations on her tablet. It was kinda like the Quick-Fire Challenge on “Top Chef”–only with words instead of prawns.

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Now Paula is doing her thing while I munch away on popcorn. Not really. I was sucking on a Ricola cough drop. Just getting over a cold. (sniff-sniff) Hey, how’d I end up going last anyway?

INSIDE STORY at Bank Street Bookstore - Nov. 2013

My turn! (My backup dancers didn’t show.) I blabbed on and on about how it was a mystery that I wound up writing a mystery. (I still think it’s weird to be able to see faces in the audience. When I used to perform in musicals, the audience was always just a giant dark blob.) Suddenly I realized I was finished because I heard cheers and WILD applause. Well–polite clapping. Hands up, utensils down!

Inside Story Pro Shot 1

One of my official photographs taken by the ever-patient Primwatee Groover. We had the hardest time getting a squintless shot. Every time I smiled, my eyeballs disappeared! She’d say, “Okay, I think we finally got a good one this time…eh, nope.” I couldn’t help laughing my shiny round head off.

Bank Street Bookstore (2)

Then there was mingling, and book signing, and chocolate chip cookie eating, and since it’s nearly impossible to walk out of a bookstore empty-handed, I wound up buying a copy of Maryann MacDonald’s Odette’s Secrets (we share the same agent!) and Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. (He’s a hoot and a really nice guy.) So, THANKS AGAIN, Bank Street Bookstore and SCBWI! Until next time…

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“Happy Trailers To You…” (Book trailers, that is.)

I was really excited to create my own book trailer for Madhattan Mystery but with zero budget, I couldn’t exactly go high tech. I’d have to use what was already at my fingertips: a camera, my imagination, and an old version of Windows Moviemaker. (The newest version wasn’t compatible with my XP operating system. Did I mention I need a new computer?) Since I live in Manhattan, I had tons of fun traipsing around the city, snapping most of the photos myself—but some stuff was impossible to get, like a photo of the abandoned underground train station in Grand Central since the public isn’t  usually allowed down there. But after an online search, I found a great photo by a professional photographer, Sam Horine, who granted me permission to use it. Whew!

More complications were cropping up regarding the rights of a few more photos I had found online, so I ended up having to replace them. My friend, Delores, a second-grade teacher in Chicago, agreed to step in and pose for the character of Aunt Roz; and for the pic of a  homeless woman, my friend, Mary-Ann, volunteered to sit on a dirty curb, wrapped in a blanket, holding a cup of coins. “A friend in need is a friend indeed!” But when it came to the photo representing Kim Ling, I was really stumped. A street smart Asian-American girl with blue-streaked pigtails and an angry expression that makes your skin crawl? Try Googling that! Luckily, a woman in my writing critique group came to the rescue. Her daughter, Catie, was eager to portray the character in a photo shoot and she knocked it out of the park.

Then there was the endless search for the perfect royalty-free music to accompany the video but that’s a whole other story. I’m so happy to have ultimately found a piece called “Sneaky Snitch” by Kevin MacLeod on incompetech.com. Let’s leave it at that.

So I guess my point is that even going the easy route and creating a trailer with still photos was not that easy–for me anyway. It takes a village!

 

“MAD about MADhattan” tour stops at Grand Central Station

 In anticipation of the May 2012 release of my middle-grade novel, MADHATTAN MYSTERY, I’m taking you all on a virtual tour of the many spectacular Big Apple sites that pop up in the book. So, grab your camera and a light snack, hop on the tour bus and LET’S GO!

HAPPY SPRING! Blossoms are popping up everywhere you turn in New York City and tourists are arriving in droves once again. One of the major New York portals that’s always buzzing with excitement is the famous Grand Central Station on 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Actually, its proper name is Grand Central Terminal since it’s a final destination as opposed to just a stop along the way, but most folks call it Grand Central Station regardless. Not simply a transit hub, this 48-acre site is reportedly the world’s sixth most visited tourist attraction boasting approximately 21,600,000 visitors annually. There’s just so much to take in! First off, there’s the jaw-dropping ceiling of twinkling stars and zodiac symbols. In 1998, after a 12-year restoration of the train terminal, it was returned to its original glory. At Christmastime, just look up and you might catch a laser light show dancing across the ceiling timed to your favorite holiday music.

But don’t stop there. Venture on through and you’ll find a variety of shops, bookstores, banks, special exhibits, the Grand Central Market, the New York Transit Museum, and an entire dining concourse ready to please any hankering you’ve got.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dare to venture even further and you may discover secret places—like the unmarked “Whispering Gallery” just outside the Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Because of a series of arches in the hallway, the acoustics are great, and a gentle whisper in one corner can be heard in the opposite corner as clear as a bell. That’s what sets the heroine of my novel, Lexi McGill, off on the craziest adventure of her life. It all starts with a whisper she was never supposed to hear.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 of MADHATTAN MYSTERY.

Lexi swept her sweaty curls up the back of her neck and leaned into her corner to give the Whispering Gallery a try. “Hellooo,” she sang like a bashful ghost. “How are yooou?”

Kevin squealed. “I heard that!” he cried out over his shoulder, then turned back to the wall. “Testing, testing. Do you read me?”

“Totally!” She heard him as clearly as if he were standing right in front of her. “How amazing is this?”

“Okay, listen,” Kevin said, dropping his voice an octave, “I have top-secret information for agent Alexandra McGill. But first you must prove that you’re really you—her. Over.”

“Huh? Oh. I am prrrepared to answer any and all qvestions,” Lexi replied in her best Russian accent, holding in her laugh. “please to prrroceed.”

“Only the real Alexandra McGill would know her home address. Over.”

“Wait, that’s not true, but—okay, it’s tree-tventy-tree Barrett Pond Rrrroad. Cold Spring, New York, von-o-five-von-six.”

“Roger that. Only the real Alexandra McGill would know—her favorite color. Over.”

“Pink. Pale, not hot.”

“Only the real—

“Just get on with it already, bonehead!”

“I’m thinking.” Kevin cleared his throat. “Your mission, Miss McGill, should-a you choose-a to accept,” he said in an even goofier accent than Lexi’s, “is to carry out the original plan—you know, as planned, but—oh, never mind, there’s Aunt Roz! Abort. Abort.”

For more info on Grand Central go to www.grandcentralterminal.com. And be sure to come back to check out Mad About Madhattan Tour Stop #3: The Central Park Carousel.