Catering Girl

CateringGirlMaybeFinal

Coming soon on Amazon!

Stand-up comic Frankie Goldberg is one of my favorite characters. She popped into my head while I was stuck in traffic in the middle of Woodstock, New York, and she had a story to tell me. That initial meeting eventually became The Joke’s on Me. But before Frankie reunited with her family, she wreaked a little havoc in Hollywood. Catering Girl is a novella from that chapter of her life.

Frankie keeps getting fired from her day jobs, thanks to her smart mouth and a lot of other bad habits. Now a thirty-something catering assistant on a movie set, she reluctantly agrees to bring a cappuccino to the resident diva. The young star Anastasia Cole is in tears, distraught about disturbing changes in the script. Frankie serves a side of common sense with the coffee, and excited to have an ally, Anastasia offers her the role of a lifetime. It’s not what Frankie had in mind—but being needed might be exactly what she needs.

I’m excited to share a bit of Catering Girl with you here, before I publish it this weekend.

—–

Catering Girl

Chapter 1

I wasn’t supposed to be smoking on set, even though it was an outdoor shoot nearly halfway to the Mojave Desert. I wasn’t supposed to be smoking at all, having promised everyone who still loved me that I’d quit. But lack of sleep and a vicious hangover made for a deadly combination that lowered my willpower to zilch. I’d just lit up, intent on spending my midmorning break in contemplation of my bad habits, when a voice perforated my muzzy thoughts.

“Catering! You there, catering!”

Busted. I ground my cig underneath one designer heel and prepared for another lecture. Snapping his fingers at me was the producer’s son, an entitled little creep with a Napoleon complex and a suspiciously low hairline. Per my contract with the studio, I didn’t have to man my station for another ten minutes. For almost anybody else involved in this movie, I would have hopped to, probably with a joke and a smile, but I had no intention of saluting this guy’s flag any sooner than required.

My deficiency of hop-to did not appear to please him. His eyes narrowed to nasty slits. “What are you, deaf? Cappuccino to trailer three, nonfat milk. Don’t screw it up.”

Speaking of entitlement. “I’m not going in there.” I’d yet to meet the performer in person, but the last coffee jock who’d gone into Anastasia Cole’s trailer had exited wearing the cappuccino, then kept on walking.

If either he or Miss Silicone thought that a slew of forgettable slasher flicks and one Oscar—best supporting actress, in a slow year—earned her the right to go full-on diva, they both had another thing coming. I didn’t care that my teenage nephew adored her and had seen all her movies, some twice.

The heir apparent sighed. “Okay, what’s it worth to you?”

“Excuse me?”

He pulled out his wallet. “Ten bucks?”

Ten bucks? I saw what that putz drove onto the set. My parents hadn’t paid that much for their house. “Fifty,” I countered. “But if she throws it at me, I’m walking, too. And I’ll take the entire catering unit with me.”

I had no authority to pull up stakes, but I’d been working with guys like this for years. It seemed a safe bet that beyond his own imagined influence, he didn’t have a clue who was responsible for what.

A vein bulged on his left temple. “Christ. You’re as bad as the agents. Anastasia won’t do the nude scene, the other producers are threatening to bail, and now the catering girl is shaking me down for a lousy cup of coffee.”

Catering girl? I straightened my spine, which probably didn’t make me any taller than my usual five foot five, sans moussed curls and impractical footwear, but it made me feel more intimidating. “What did you call me?”

He got right up in my face. “Catering. Girl. No power.” He pointed to himself. “Producer. Power. Get the difference?”

I smiled sweetly at him. “Thank you for clearing that up for me. Now let me give you some advice. When Daddy makes you drive to McDonald’s to pick up dinner for the crew, don’t forget the french fries. Makes the union guys pissy.”

Then I turned and started for my car, forcing a cool, confident walkaway so he wouldn’t see that I was having a quiet nervous breakdown over what I’d just done. It was a crappy movie, but I needed this job, bad. In the thirteen years since little Frankie Goldberg had left the East Coast and the comfort of my mother’s brisket, the career as a famous movie star hadn’t panned out. Nor had I been doing very well as a fair-to-middling standup comic. The only marketable skill I had left was a knack for cooking in large quantities. At the moment, I couldn’t afford to put my job on the line just to make a point. I had bills coming due, my beat-up Barracuda was on its last cylinder, and I owed my sister and her current husband, at her last accounting, six hundred and thirty-two dollars and fifteen cents.

It was the fifteen cents that bothered me the most.

“All right,” he said. “Fifty. And I’ll talk to her first.”

I let out my breath. For fifty bucks, I’d even draw a little heart in the foam. “Nonfat milk, you said?”

Gravity Drops on Amazon!

Gravity_coverart_1bHi, everyone! I just wanted to share the news that A Sudden Gust of Gravity is now live on Amazon. This is a story that I’ve wanted to tell for a while, and I’m so excited that it’s finally published.

A little more about the novel:

Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has abandoned her childhood dream of becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He hires her as his assistant for his magic and juggling show; she hopes she can play the role without cutting his giant ego in half.

Devon Park, a surgical resident, is escaping his own problems when he visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.

Convinced the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?

A little sneak preview:

Chapter 1

The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.

She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.

“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.

As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.

She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.

This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.

Christina surrendered.

Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.

It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.

—–

The paperback version is in the works—Art Husband is putting the file together—and it should be available soon. When that’s ready, I’ll set up a giveaway on Goodreads, where you can enter to win a signed copy.

Thank you for your time, and you may now return to your regularly scheduled Internet programming, already in progress.

Halloween Anthology: Boo! Volume Three

Screen shot 2015-10-11 at 6.28.13 PMHappy Sunday! Halloween is almost upon us in North America-land, and with it comes the release of the newest Boo! anthology. Boo! Volume Three contains thirteen Halloween-inspired tales by an eclectic mix of authors, including Ann Cathey, Jen Daniele, Erin McGowan, LB Clark, Mala Rheston, Kristina Jackson, Rich Meyer, David Antrobus, and JD Mader.

Where else can you get that much talent and spooky fun for just 99 cents? Proceeds go to charity, and this year, the DB Collective has chosen The Turtle Island Restoration Project, an organization dedicated to protecting oceans and marine wildlife.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy our stories.

 

 

 

Can I Get a ThunderClap Over Here?

Charlie_Cool_kindle500It might sound like a particularly virulent case of a disease you don’t want, but a ThunderClap does not require a trip to the clinic. It’s a crowdfunding social media deal that is totally free for your network of friends to participate in. If you’d like to get a whole lot of social media attention all at once—say, for the launch of a book, she said coyly—you set up your event, share your link, and when you hit the minimum number of supporters…BAM! It glitter-bombs the interwebs.

Okay, not literally. But if you get 100 people to agree to support your message, via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, every single tweet and post is released on the day of your choosing, amplifying your message.

If you don’t hit the 100-mark, you get bupkes.

Mine was set up for me by the lovely folks at Book Partners in Crime, but it looks fairly straightforward if you’d like to set up your own.

Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 7.56.13 PM

  1. Start an account at https://www.thunderclap.it
  2. Click “start a thunderclap” on the top bar.
  3. Sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account.
  4. Follow the directions to set up your own message.

HeadTalker is a similar crowdsourcing sort of product, but it asks for 50 supporters…a much easier task if you only have a short time to get a message out.

I’d love your help making my first try at these new opportunities a success for the launch of Playing Charlie Cool. If you have a minute and don’t mind voting, here are the links:

ThunderClap   https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/16606-can-charlie-play-it-cool

Headtalker     https://headtalker.com/campaigns/can-charlie-play-cool/ 

If you don’t care for the standard message, you can adjust it a little to your taste. Whatever you put up there is what goes out if we hit the quota.

Thank you for your help! Stay tuned, because on launch day, we’ll be giving away some Amazon gift cards and stuff. More about that later.

Also…if you’re an author or have an event, a cause, or something that might lend itself to a social media boost, maybe you’ll want to try this new tool.

Playing Charlie Cool: Sneak Peek

PlayingCharlieCoolPrelim400Hi, everyone! While Art Dude is finishing the cover, I’d like to share an excerpt from Playing Charlie Cool. The e-book is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can save a buck by ordering now at the introductory price, and it will be delivered to your Kindle when the book is published at the beginning of October. Although it’s a sequel to The Picture of Cool and Don’t Tell Anyone, Playing Charlie Cool is a standalone story. (Scroll down to find out how you can grab a free copy of The Picture of Cool.)

First…what’s Playing Charlie Cool about?

With a few humble words, mayoral staffer Joshua Goldberg comes out to the New York press, resigns his post, and leaves his wife. Three months later, he is still skittish about making his relationship with television producer Charlie Trager public. Charlie understands Joshua’s stress over the divorce and his desire to step back into the political spotlight. But he’s tired of schedule conflicts and frustrated about getting put on the back burner while the pressure ravages the man he loves. Managing some of the most demanding divas in network television has taught Charlie patience. But his cool façade is wearing thin. Longing to ease Joshua’s anguish and burning for control in a situation that seems headed off the rails, Charlie takes a huge risk that could destroy everything he and Joshua have worked so hard to build. Continue reading “Playing Charlie Cool: Sneak Peek”