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Month: April 2017

Behind The Scenes: Locations in The Art of Lying

I thought I would start a new series here on the blog called Behind the Scenes.  I’m finishing up my final round of revisions on my current novel, The Art of Lying, and I will be sending it to an editor before self-publishing later this year.  I thought it might be fun to do this Behind the Scenes look at my book and how I’ve been writing and revising it.  Today I wanted to start with Locations.  My book is set in Manhattan, mostly, with some scenes in New Jersey.  When I started this book, I was living in Manhattan so I don’t have a ton of personal pictures to add, but I will add some links to the NYC parks department pictures, Wikipedia, and my own personal Pinterest folder for the book. 

Moving on Up

My main character and her family live on the Upper East Side in a fancy high-rise apartment building.  I lived for many years among those buildings and looked online for a few different types of floor plans before drawing my own – see below for the one I sketched of the apartment.  I adored the UES, Park Avenue with its median parks, and the historic feel to the area with the older buildings and store fronts.  I thought my main character’s Mom would have chosen the UES as the area to move from NJ once they had some wealth, ala The Jeffersons from the 70s sitcom.  When you’re moving on up, you move to East Side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky…..sorry, I was totally singing there, but I’m done now.


Below 14th Street

My main character, Rachel, is an up and coming modern artist with her own gallery show, new money, and a funky artist loft in Downtown Manhattan.  See below for the quick sketch I made of her loft setup.  Her favorite park in the city is Union Square Park.  This park is always bustling with activity from families, shoppers, tourists, and the like.  It has a weekly farmers market that has a ton of stalls and a very active community and neighborhood surrounding it.  Rachel goes on a first date with a young man in the book which I based on an actual restaurant that my husband took me to for our second date (after we saw one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies).  It has diners, bookstores, subway access, and many coffee shops around the area.

The Big Apple

So, Rachel has her artist loft in downtown and she lives uptown, so she spends some time either walking around or on the 4-5-6 subway trains.  This was my old train system that I basically spent my whole commute on so I didn’t need much help here either.  She’s addicted to coffee and right now, Starbucks is the name of the game (I mean, there are at least two spots in the city I can think of that have competing Starbucks either right across the street from each other or down the block from each other) so she does go there quite a bit, or have coffee in her hand from there. Manhattan, where I lived for 10 years, always felt like home and it seemed the perfect place to set my novel.  

Bridge and Tunnel

Rachel and her family came from a small town in New Jersey, but she’s only there two times to visit her Grandfather, so I spent more time on research for the one scene where she visits an old familiar family haunt, Wildwoods Amusement Park. I’ve never personally been there, but I have been to various Six Flags and Disney parks so I understand the basic theme park concept.  I did use their website and pictures found online for layouts and a few ride names. 


Pinterest has been amazing in terms of finding images and maps to use for this project.  If you click here you will be taken to my The Art of Lying board which has images of artist lofts, Union Sq Park, and other images that help me with my novel, including some celebrities that I chose to “cast” and help me “act” out my characters.  It will give you a bit of an idea about what my book and the characters are all like and some ideas about Rachel’s flavor of modern art.  I used this amazing site for everything and will be doing it again on my next big project (hint: it’s set in the circus). 
What else would you like to know about me and my writing process?  I have plans to talk about the music I write to, my favorite Modern Artists and how they inspired me (and Rachel), and possibly my writing space setup (which is still a mess, even though we moved practically nine months ago).  What else would you like to know more about?  Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.  Thanks! 

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Career Day

It has been hard to call myself a writer in the past, but I’ve been pretty serious the last few months about changing my mindset regarding this word and how I apply it to my life, so when the opportunity came about to speak at my son’s school on Career Day as a Writer I hesitated at first, but then jumped at the chance.

I will be completely honest though – I was scared, terrified almost.  I was doubting myself and worried that the kids were going to see right through me.  I was going to be talking to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and I don’t remember much about being that age anymore. I was nervous that I would either talk over their heads or talk down to them.  So I asked my Mom and my husband for advice, and after lovely conversations (and mucho support) I jotted down quite a few notes and ideas the day before.

The big day arrived and I got dressed up – that means the clean jeans, a nice shirt, and makeup – and headed over to the school.  It was a full day, I talked to 6 classes and went from 9 am to 2 pm with a few breaks and lunch.  I got to meet other Moms and Dads (and a few non-parent professionals) in the break room and I noticed almost everyone was nervous.  That actually calmed me down. (Side note: Other people presenting to various classes were nurses, a sign language interpreter, FBI agents, the Fire Department, Police department with MacGruff the crime dog, a professional chef, a chocolatier, and a New York City government official that wore a batman mask!)

The first class was probably the hardest for me, but once I started talking and going through my bullet points in my head and relaxing into the moment, I felt good.  Comfortable even.  The thing that made it especially nice was, for the most part, the kids in all the classes listened really well.  They seemed eager to learn about the different jobs people had and they were prepared with really good questions.  My favorites were:

“Are you famous?” Uhm….no.  

“Do you know anyone famous?” Uhm….no

“What’s your favorite book series?”  The Ramona Quimby books 

“How long have you been writing your current novel?” About 4 years (yikes)

“What made you want to be a writer?” I was a theatre major in college and moved to NYC to pursue that dream, but when that stopped being fun I looked for something else that was creative and gave me the ability to entertain others – my main reasons for acting in the first place – and I’ve always kept a journal so I tried writing and fell in love.

One of the 5th-grade classes had just been involved in a novel writing contest and were especially eager to ask me questions about writer’s block, what to do when you have too many ideas or conflicting ideas, and how I brainstorm and revise my work.  That teacher even asked me if I would be willing to come back next year and help her class with that project again.  I was honored! 

I left the day feeling energized, excited, and exhausted.  I’m a true extrovert but even I left school tired and ready for a nap.  I was also ready to take my career to the next level…I joined an online mastermind group of like-minded newbie writers, I’ve been doing daily mindset journaling, and I’ve been getting my business stuff in order (like a newsletter – coming soon).  Those kids and their amazing questions gave me so much that day, I’m so proud of myself for saying yes in the first place and for not letting fear stop me.