The good news: I requested a Kirkus Reviews of Model for Deception: A Vangie Street Mystery. This is what I call my “fashion model detective novel.” Here’s the book jacket on the novel:
Vangie Street is older—thirty-two to be exact—when she takes up modeling in the “big city” of Memphis. She loves showing the fabulous clothes almost as much as she loves her pound-puppy Retro, her cute if slightly decrepit Midtown cottage, and her hunky new boyfriend Nash. Life is perfect—until an expensive earring shown by Vangie’s modeling partner Heather Jackson disappears at the Memphis spring fashion season kickoff. When Heather herself disappears, Vangie must use her “clothes whisperer” intuition to puzzle out the truth of what’s going on….and keep her own self out of trouble. Model for Deception is a Southern mystery featuring fashion model Vangie Street who reads people by their clothing choices. Vangie’s sleuthing insights leave us wondering: what exactly do our fashion choices reveal about us?
Kirkus reviewed the mystery. They liked it. Because Kirkus is known for being persnickety, I was glad about that. Here’s my favorite part of the review:
“What raises the novel a cut above the standard mystery is Vangie, the story’s narrator. She is a smart, sarcastic, fashion-obsessed 30-something who has a large metal cutout of Elvis Presley gracing her front lawn. It is just fun spending time with her. Dialogue is fast and edgy…A well-paced, offbeat mystery with a healthy dose of snark; fashion statements abound.”—Kirkus Reviews
I thought to myself, when I’m ready to release the book, I’ll certainly use this review. (You can read the full review here.)
Fast forward to yesterday: I got an email from Kirkus telling my the review of Model for Deception had been selected to be featured in the Kirkus Reviews’ monthly magazine. Less than 10% of indie novels get selected. (Because I’ve gotten more than one faux award— “Congratulations, we’ve selected you for the grand opportunity to pay us money!”—I was glad when research revealed no hidden charges and a grand group of authors who have been featured in the past.)
So what’s the bad news? I wasn’t quite ready to release the novel (y’all know how much I’ve got going on). But to get the punch from the exposure, I need to do it.
Sooooooooo—here’s the cover reveal!!!!
Model for Deception is available for purchase in print on Amazon and coming soon in ebook.
When the feature appears in Kirkus Reviews in March, I’ll share that with y’all as well.
I am soooo excited to announce The Next Big Thing. Here are a few hints:
It’s a collaboration.
It’s a novel.
It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever done.
(Drum roll please): The Next Big Thing are special edition novels written by me and hand bound by artist and bookmaker Marisa Whitsett Baker.
Is that not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard of? I know, I know—I’m biased. But I can’t tell you how it felt to hold the sample copy Marisa made for me. I’ve had, what, four books published now? But this is super special.
Let me be more specific, because I find that folks can be a bit confused by this concept (who wouldn’t be—I sort of made it up.) I have written a novel. It is entitled The Hart Women. Marisa will hand bind each copy of the novel. Every single copy of the novel. Marisa is a talented and experienced journal maker (and former bookseller—yep, she’s done it all). She will create a diversity of looks from which readers can choose. The novel will then be released at book launches, parties, readings. That’s the hard copies. The Hart Women will be available in ebook as well, but no mass produced paperback or hardback copies.
Before I ran with this idea, I talked to a bookseller in Bay St. Louis. He is typically a phlegmatic man, but he loved the idea. So did a bookseller Marisa spoke to. This was empowering. The concept is the very opposite of trying to sell as many books as possible, and ebooks, and books for .99 each. It’s more like tiring of downloads and going back to vinyl.
Enough of process and presentation. Here’s a summary of the story, which was workshopped at Richard Bausch’s Moss Group, read by members of my RUMP Writing Group, and revised a million times:
THE HART WOMEN
“The Bible teaches us to keep our hearts unattached to places of this earth for, so tethered, they can never fly free; but try as I might, I cannot dislodge from my soul the house on St. Lawrence Street.” Emily Fielding
The house at 1011 St. Lawrence Street once rang with joy. Now, the porch sags, the window panes run with cracks. In one generation, the home that nurtured the wealthy Mississippi Hart family sits abandoned. Did tragedy undo the family, or did the family create its own misfortune? The story begins in 1968 Fairview, Mississippi, when Poppa Sam Hart dies…. Told through the eyes of eighty-year-old Emily Hart Fielding, The Hart Women explores the corrupting influences that entangle the human heart. Emily’s discovery of the forgiveness she seeks for a lifetime of choices will stay with the reader long after the book is finished.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Cover reveal (heck, the whole durn book) in March
Details on scheduling your own book launch party or ordering your copy to be shared on this very website.
After a period of letting the Paper Mache dry (tick, tock), I added two more layers of Paper Mache, with the final one being copy paper because supposedly that would absorb less paint. I deflated the beach ball (slowly, the instructional video warned, but I’m here to tell you, it won’t deflate any other way), and removed the beach ball.
When I tried the mask on, it rolled around uncontrollably on my head. I went back to the instructional video and found their Part II where, unlike the final shot of Part I where the chick was gleefully showing off her big head, they gave instructions for a helmet to stabilize the ball. Fortunately, I had my hard hat! I fixed it inside the ball.
That done, I painted on a base layer of silver paint and let that dry. (As I write this, it sounds like a lot of drying, but the entire process took 2-3 days). After studying photos for an embarrassing amount of time, I painted stripes of Modge Podge into the mask, and sprinkled the stripes with silver glitter, regular (not super fine—yes, there are 3 different grades of glitter, I’ve learned.)
I next made some accessories (yep, accessories), and it is now finished.
I know I said I’d reveal the nature of the costume, but at this point I might want to take guesses as to what this is supposed to be. It seems a little unfair—you will never guess without the rest of the costume. I promise I will model the entire costume on Mardi Gras Day!
My Mardi Gras costume this year involves a big head mask. I knew I wanted to Paper Mache it (I did a LOT of Paper Mache when I was making crosses—I bought the sectioned frames artists use to stretch canvas, put them together for the correct size, then Paper Mached them either as a base to further decorate or with colored tissue, etc as the frame itself) but I didn’t know what to use as the Paper Mache form. The mask must be big enough to fit over my head. It has to be spherical. One of the miracles of nature is how many spheres naturally exist because creating a sphere is bloody hard.
I researched a lot. I had some failures.
Everyone kept saying use balloons, but, again, it needs to be round, not oblong or pear shaped. Finally, I found a site that recommended a beachball. Genius! I found one to buy locally in February (not a small feat), and I was in business.
I gathered my supplies.
It didn’t take long to get on the first coat. I’ll do two more then be back to describe the decorating and (Big Secret of the Big Head) what I’ll be when I wear it.