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Tag: Model for Deception

Hats on Parade

So, in searching for photos for a recent blog posts, I was taken with how many of my photos have me in hats.

This doesn’t look like it, but it was an Easter hat (with Evangeline)

I’m talking about the hats that were NOT costume hats.

One of my many grocery store hats, which are my favorite.

Even to me, some of these hats are odd.

Does it look like I stole this hat from a Leprechaun?

Not to mention this beauty, which I was wearing just this last Christmas.

This hat looks like I’m wearing a mushroom on my head. A sophisticated mushroom, but still.

When my husband and I first met, he wasn’t a fan of hats. He has, however, always been a very tolerant man.

That time this winter when I felt like dressing Secret Agent style, avec hat.

And, wearing my hats, I’ve worn him down. He now loves my hats. Good thing.

I wore this hat ALL last summer.

So, as we roll toward the end of Lent, you can absolutely count on my wearing an Easter hat.

My Easter hat from last year.

You can also count on my sharing it with you!

(If you’ve enjoyed the hat parade, you might enjoy MODEL FOR DECEPTION, my novel featuring Vangie Street, fashion model detective. )

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 cozy 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 ourselves?

The Inappropriate Dress Gene

There I was, stepping into the gala for the graduating seminarians. The seminarians wore black shirts with white clerical collars. I wore a minidress from Billy Bob’s Chinese Laundry in New Orleans. It was leopard-printed. And flocked. 

I can’t help it.

I have an Inappropriate Dress Gene. 

My mistakes are not fashion faux pas. I know exactly how one ought to dress. I was raised by a grandmother who traced her lineage to the banks of Deer Creek in the town of Leland in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. My Bigmama taught me the black dress you wore to a cocktail party Friday night is not the same black dress you don for the funeral Saturday morning. I fully understand the seriousness of dressing appropriately. I just tend to miscalculate. 

I made up this dress by pairing the outer layer of my wedding dress over a black slip dress, and I was asked, “What are you wearing?”

My years practicing law in Jackson, Mississippi were, for the most part, benign—the social pressure squeezing a female lawyer into dressing compliance in the 1980s was fierce. So when I married and moved to Memphis, my dressing kind of spurted free like a spasming tube of toothpaste. At the same time, the sartorial stakes skyrocketed. My then-new husband owns a shopping center wherein is located the swankiest women’s clothing store east of the Mississippi River. One evening we attended a dinner party hosted by the store owners. Determined to put my best fashion foot forward, I arrived at her dinner party wearing a black lace see-through shirt and black bra with a fringed scarf strategically draped across the front. I thought I was so sophisticated. The woman cocked her head at me. “Look at you,” she said, smiling. “Memphis doesn’t dress like that.” 

I took it as a compliment. 

Not so the Cotton Carnival partygoers. When I attended their Mardi Gras party wearing a tiger-printed catsuit, no one would make eye contact. Or maybe it was the wig with its multi-colored, clacking beads. I was Cleopatra—Memphis, capitol of ancient Egypt, get it? No one else got it, either, not one of those sedately-dressed women in long black dresses who considered a feathered mask on a slender stick a costume. Only Preston Shannon, the famous Beale Street singer, appreciated the look.

My beloved black petticoat

I am perfectly familiar with the Backwards Compliment (“Only you could get away with those Python pants”). The Veiled Suggestion (“Now, I would’ve worn that red dress to a Christmas party.”) Not to mention my favorite: the Exaggeration. A friend once reported I’d been seen wearing black leather hot pants to a party. Sure, I had on black leather skirt with a fringed vest. But black leather hot pants? Who even knows what hot pants are these days?

Southerners as a group are not tolerant of those who dress inappropriately. If you think they are,  you’ve never worn a floor-length silky beige dress to the Orpheum Theatre only to have a woman standing outside ask, “Is that your nightgown?” In fact, Southerners go to extraordinary lengths to ensure every person at a party is wearing the exact same thing. If you go off-script, women will glance at their pink-flowered Lilly Pulitzer dresses then deliberately rake their gaze across your silky pink halter top and thread-bare jeans. “Rock-star chic” is not a Southern term. 

My boro-sewn britches

Of course, I could forestall such comments by aiming for the median. Instead, I stand in my closet, hands lifted, and feel the call. If it’s the orange curve-enhancing dress that makes me look like a shrunken version of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, so be it. Only when I find myself in a roomful of knee-brushing Sunday school dresses, do I think, hmmmm. 

I bought that orange curve-enhancing dress for a public reading

And don’t get me started on parties with a theme. The invitation arrives in the mail. I rip it open. “La Moulin Rouge,” it proclaims, a gay Paris scene splashed across the front. Excitement wells, common sense jumps out the window. Surely I should foresee the slim cocktail dresses with pink boas draped around the neck as garnishment. Instead, I deck myself out as a Toulaouse Lautrec painting—chunky boots, ripped petticoat, peek-a-boo bra. The women at the party flip their boas at me. At home, I kneel in my flouncy skirt and pray: “Lead us not into costumed temptation, deliver us from social evils.” 

Imagine this pink skirt with a red petticoat under it, and you’ve got Moulin Rouge

I don’t want to leave the impression everyone judges my dressing a sin. I have those who encourage me in my choices…. you could call them accessories after the dressing fact. From them I get free clothes. I’ve been given a pair of black and white snakeskin boots, a 1920s antique silk blouse, a great-aunt’s mink-collared sweater, and a $25 mermaid-tailed chartreuse gown. Of course, these treasures came to me because the owners won’t wear them.

Dressed for the track in the gifted mink-collared sweater

Now that I’ve worn out my sartorial welcome in Memphis, I’ve taken on New Orleans. For the most part, New Orleans is extremely tolerant of odd dress. But we’ve rented an apartment in the Bywater. It’s a chic apartment. Everyone going to and from wears black. The apartment’s tag line is: ”You Are Beautiful.” I fear the lease has a clause (written in invisible ink) allowing the management to kick you out of your loft if you don’t comply. When management signs off emails with, “Stay Beautiful,” I read it as a threat. 

Oh, and the seminarian’s fundraiser with me in the leopard dress? I listened when I asked my husband what type of party it was, and he said, “I don’t know. Just some type of fundraiser.” I now request copies of every invitation we receive. If I’m going to misstep, it’s gonna be all on my own.

If you enjoyed this essay, take a look at MODEL FOR DECEPTION: A VANGIE STREET MYSTERY. This fun Southern mystery features a fashion model as an amateur sleuth. You’ll love the clothing talk!

Model for Deception

So, it’s a good news/bad news type of deal.

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.

I ADORE this cover designed and drawn by my friend Roy DeLeon and rendered into a cover by Novagiant Media

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.

Onward and Upward!!

Model for Deception at Printer

Practice makes perfect. Okay, not perfect. But better.

Second time around, the formatting and uploading and approval of the novel went SO MUCH SMOOTHER! A proof copy of MODEL FOR DECEPTION  is winging its way to me as we speak. That’s the print version. I’ll take a look at it, and hopefully it will be as expected. Then I’ll send it out to review services to see what they think about it. If they like it, you’ll hear about it. If they don’t, I’ll bury the reviews, and we shall never speak of them gain.

The BIG PLAN is to release MODEL FOR DECEPTION Valentine’s Day 2019.

MODEL FOR DECEPTION is a cozy mystery. Here’s the back cover blurb:

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 cozy 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?

I’ll do a cover reveal later. The cover was drawn by Roy DeLeon, a fellow  Paraclete Press author. Paraclete published Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. Roy wrote Praying with the Body. In addition to being a writer and oblate, Roy’s an artist. He’s very talented. I think the cover for MODEL FOR DECEPTION  is going to be my favorite cover I’ve ever had. I know you can’t wait to see it. <3

Me at Ocean Isle Beach

More to come!

 

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