Category Archives: New York

The Best Place in New York City…

As part of my weekly Facebook Live show, Fab Night In Chatty Thing, I am writing and sharing chapters of my third New York/Kowalski’s novel, In A New York Minute. This week I had to cancel the show because I’ve lost my voice, but I promised to share the latest chapter I’ve written.

In A New York Minute follows the eldest Steinmann brother, Daniel (we met middle brother Ed in Fairytale of New York and youngest brother Jake in I’ll Take New York and readers always ask me what Daniel Steinmann’s story is). On the day he sells his successful psychiatry practice in Manhattan, he chickens out of going to the formal sale meeting (leaving his lawyer to complete it), flees into New York’s Upper West Side, gets caught in a rainstorm and takes shelter in the closest store – a tiny cupcake bakery a few blocks away from a certain magical New York florists, Kowalski’s. Here he meets Maya Christie, working in her sister’s business, wandering when her life is going to start… They become friends and agree to help one another find whatever it is they want the next season of their lives to be.

So, here is the latest chapter: Maya has promised to take Daniel to ‘the best place in New York City’ – and Daniel is about to discover a Big Apple delight you may not find in any guide book…

THE BEST PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY – by Miranda Dickinson

‘This is the best place in New York?’

Beside me, Maya nods.

This place?’

‘Absolutely.’

Until now, I haven’t once questioned anything Maya Christie has told me. But now, standing in the doorway of this small, unassuming space somewhere in the depths of West Village, I’m suddenly on shaky ground.

‘But it’s a—’ I pause, not sure how to express aloud what my eyes are still not certain they’re seeing. ‘—a hair salon.’

‘Mm-hmm.’

I look over from the three overhead hair dryers that look like they landed from space somewhere around 1964, to the next section of the store. ‘And a shoe repairers…’

‘Yup. Best one in the West Village.’

The enormous guy behind the counter grins in our direction and goes back to fixing a heel on a scuffed pair of brogues.

‘And a… what is that at the back?’ There’s another counter there that, like everything else in this place, looks as if it’s been hiding here for decades. Three faded green vinyl stools line the counter, the shine that once graced the chrome of their bases a long distant memory. Beyond the stools and the dusty wood lie shelves of boxes, reaching almost to the ceiling.

‘Well now, that,’ she throws me a happy smile and skips away from the entrance towards the mystery counter, ‘is the absolute best bit!’

She’s halfway across the peach and grey check linoleum when she turns to beckon me. Bewildered, I follow.

A lady under the middle drier scans my progress beneath her row of pink curlers. The shoe repairer pretends he isn’t watching either.

Clearly, I’m missing something. And now I feel like I’m intruding on a gathering of time-frozen ghosts of Manhattan as I scurry after Maya through the dimly lit store. Even the place smells old, like the homes of ancient relatives my dad always farmed me, Ed and Jake out to during the summer break. Sandalwood, floral bleach, old lavender and dust.

When Maya had promised the first stop on our adventure would be the best place in New York, I’d imagined the New York Public Library, Grand Central Station with its star-strewn ceiling, or one of the rooftop viewing platforms scattered across the city. I’d considered it might be a special diner or bookstore or park Maya had grown up loving – I was hoping for that, in fact, to give me a glimpse into the girl I haven’t been able to get out of my head for days. I know what she’s told me. I know what my trained eye as a former psychiatrist suggests – much as I’m trying to ignore the signs now I’m no longer in that profession. But there’s so much more I want to know about Maya.

Is that what this is? It makes literally no sense to me whatsoever, but does this kooky triple-threat store hold a key to who Maya is?

We’ve reached the far counter now and Maya has already hopped onto a stool, patting the frayed seat of the one next to her as she invites me to sit. She looks utterly at ease here, I think. Not like I’ve seen her anywhere else; not even her workplace or the park where we met by chance a few days ago when I rescued her sister’s dog.

I’m fascinated. And I need to know more.

Obediently, I take my seat on the stool next to hers. ‘The best bit, huh?’

‘The very best bit.’ She leans across the counter and taps a brass bell with all the thrill of a kid being allowed to ring it.

As if from nowhere, a middle-aged guy pops up. He’s wearing a striped green and white apron, white open-necked shirt and black jeans and is sporting the most impressive moustache, which could almost have been bequeathed to him by a famous circus showman. Behind his left ear the stub of a yellow pencil nestles against the shock of silver at his temples. He smiles at me and then, when he turns to Maya, he lets out a squeal of delight and leans across the counter to hug her.

‘Bambina! You’re here!’

Maya giggles from somewhere between his arms and his chest. ‘I was missing you, Ciro.’

‘I should hope you were,’ Ciro grins, his eyes sliding to me as he lets Maya breathe again. ‘And you brought someone.’

‘Ciro, this is my good friend Dan Steinmann.’

Good friend…

‘Dan, welcome.’ His handshake is warm as he greets me. ‘I expect Maya’s told you…’

‘I haven’t yet,’ she interrupts.

For a moment I wonder if they’ve done this for other good friends – if I’m just the latest in a line of waifs and strays Maya Christie has rescued from the streets of Manhattan. But then I check myself: clearly this place means something to her. She could have chosen the New York Public Library, or Central Park, or any one of countless wonders New York offers everyone, but she chose this place.

‘What’s the secret?’ I ask, pushing my doubts away.

Maya leans across the counter and pulls a dark green cover off a vertical object shrouded on the counter end nearest the back wall.

My breath catches in my throat.

‘A soda fountain,’ I breathe, taking in the elaborate decoration, the nineteenth century elegance of its design. ‘Is that original?’

Ciro beams. ‘My great-grandfather installed it in 1902, when this place was a neighbourhood drugstore. It’s been serving us here ever since.’

‘Wow…’

‘Can we get two strawberry and peach sodas?’ Maya asks, turning to me when Ciro sets to work. ‘Welcome to the best place in the New York City.’

‘How did you find it?’

She beams, the thrill of surprising me lighting her from the inside out. ‘My mom rented that middle chair.’

I follow her pointed finger to the three hair salon chairs with sixties’ dryers. ‘She was a hair stylist?’

Maya nods. ‘All the years we were at school. Lucy and I would come in to help her set up in the morning, then come straight back here after school to do homework and help out.’

‘And drink sodas?’

‘That too.’ She laughs. ‘But the sodas aren’t all that make this place special.’

‘They aren’t?’

‘Nope. This is where I discovered stories.’ She takes a breath as if breathing a scent from her childhood, savouring it for a moment before she continues. ‘Mom was the only person not related to the Bianchis– everyone else was and is part of one enormous, happy, loud, opinionated family. They couldn’t afford to have their own separate premises for their individual businesses, so they put them all in here. And somehow, despite New York changing the moment you blink, it’s survived.’

Ciro slides two perfect pastel-coloured sodas across to us. Each one has a striped red, white and green straw, a crown of cream and a glossy maraschino cherry, the chill of the drink frosting the sides of the traditional glass.

It’s magical. And, also, crazy. But sipping my soda, exchanging identically gleeful grins with Maya Christie, I can’t imagine anywhere else in New York I’d rather be.

‘So, why are we staring our journey here?’ I ask.

Maya smiles. ‘Because this is the place so many people have figured out what it is they really want. Most of them Bianchi’s, but I think it can help you, too.’

Us,’ I say, quickly.

A patter of pink dances across her cheekbones. ‘Us.’

©Miranda Dickinson 2021 – All rights reserved.

I am writing my third New York and Kowalski’s novel, In A New York Minute, especially for my Fab Night In Chatty Thing viewers. Here I am in a recent show! Catch Fab Night In Chatty Thing, every Wednesday at 8pm, over on my Facebook author page!

#Wurdy5k Treat One: Short Story – New York Spring

I promised on Twitter that when I reached 5,000 followers, I would do something very special. So, welcome to #WURDY5k – five days of exclusive treats to say thank you for your support!

For your first treat, here is New York Spring – a nostalgic New York story with a hint of mystery that I wrote for the lovely Sabine Edwards as part of the Authors For Japan auction. Click the cover to download it free, with my thanks!

New York Spring by

Hope you enjoy the story! Watch out for your second #WURDY5k treat tomorrow…

 

It’s Here! I’ll Take New York heads into the world…

START SPREADING THE NEWS…

I’ll Take New York is published TODAY – and I’m over the moon to share my sixth book with you!

ITNY P-Day cover You can buy your sparkly paperback, ebook and audio editions from:

Waterstones
Amazon
The Book Depository
Hive.co.uk
Tesco.com
Sainsbury’s

It’s the story of Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James and Manhattan psychiatrist Jake Steinmann, who meet at an engagement party as the only two singles and swear a Pact to avoid relationships for ever. Instead, they share their love of the City That Never Sleeps with each other, swapping their favourite places in New York as their friendship grows.

But will the magic of New York City weaken their resolve…?

If you’ve read my first novel, Fairytale of New York, there will be some familiar faces to welcome back: Rosie, Marnie, Ed, Celia, Stewart and Zac are all here, playing their part in Bea and Jake’s tale. It’s my way of writing an ‘almost-sequel’ – letting you know what happens to the original cast of characters without breaking anyone up (or killing anyone off!) Also, if you loved my second novel, Welcome to My World, you’ll meet Harri again and find out what happened next for her! I love the idea that old friends are popping up to join the party and I hope you like discovering their new stories in I’ll Take New York!

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It’s a very strange feeling for me this year as I’ll Take New York hits the shelves. This is my last book for Avon (HarperCollins) and it feels like the end of an era. It’s partly why I wanted to return to New York and revisit the Kowalski’s gang from my first novel, a kind of full-circle journey that represents the last six years of my life. During that time everything in my life has changed: I was discovered on Authonomy.com at the end of 2008 and signed a three-book deal with Avon in 2009, followed by another three-book deal in 2010. I’ve become a Sunday Times Bestseller five times over! My books have gone around the world, to date being bestsellers in four countries and translated into seven languages. My total sales number just below three-quarters of a million books worldwide – which is absolutely amazing! I got engaged in 2011, married Bob in 2012 and we welcomed our gorgeous daughter, Florence Wren, into the world this year. In September last year I finally achieved my dream and became a full-time published author after writing with the day job for five years. And next year, I move to embark a whole new chapter of my writing adventure with PanMacmillan…

Most importantly, more than five people in the world have read (and are reading!) my stories – something I secretly dreamed of from being very little. I never thought I would be able to say that, so having readers around the world is the biggest dream come true for me. If you’ve read my books, thank you. You’re amazing. If you’ve yet to read my books, I hope you enjoy my stories.

So much has changed, so much awaits – so, as I celebrate my sixth novel heading out into the big, wide world today, I’m so utterly grateful for everything that has happened. I really hope I’ll Take New York is a fitting tribute to everyone who has been involved, from my lovely Twitter and Facebook followers who had so much fun suggesting things for the book, to my fantastic agent Hannah Ferguson, who has been the biggest, brightest supporter of my work for years, to the lovelies at Avon and my editor, Katy Loftus – who is an absolute sweetheart and a dream to work with – and to everyone who picks up a sparkly paperback, nestles my book in their e-reader library or snuggles up with the audiobook.

Happy P-Day, I’ll Take New York!

Here It Is!

Well, the wait is FINALLY over! I am over the moon to reveal the cover for I’ll Take New York!

I’m chuffed to bits with it and can’t wait to see the finished paperback cover with its gold foil stars and lettering. It’s out with the eBook and audiobook on 4th December, but you can pre-order it NOW at Waterstones, Hive.co.uk, The Book Depository, WHSmith and Amazon.

Here it is! Let me know what you think, lovelies! x

ITNY Final Cover

Miranda Writes 29 – Overcoming ‘The Fear’…

All this year, I am keeping a video diary about writing and publishing my sixth novel, I’ll Take New York. This week, I have another #getinvolved challenge for Book Seven and talk about facing The Fear as a writer…

I’m getting back to work after a few wonderful months of new-mum-hood and this week have been checking the page proofs for I’ll Take New York – which has been lovely and scary in equal measure. It made me think about The Fear – a phenomenon known only too well to writers. How do you keep writing when the doubts creep in? When the inspiration won’t come and you’re staring at a blank page? In this week’s vlog, I talk about how I tackle The Fear.

Talking of finding inspiration, have YOU booked your ticket for one of my WriteFoxy! Writers’ Inspiration Days in November and February yet? They’re going fast for both dates, so don’t miss your chance to be inspired, fired up and have your love of writing rekindled by an amazing line-up of speakers. All the details are HERE

So, here’s this week’s vlog – enjoy!

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘Si-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ing!’

Miranda Writes 28 – Meet Jake Steinmann

All this year I am vlogging about the writing and publishing of my sixth novel, I’ll Take New York. This week, I have another exclusive extract for you, plus your next chance to appear in Book 7!

Thank you all so much for your brilliant coffee shop suggestions for my first #getinvolved challenge. It was a tough decision, but I have a winner at last… and I’ll tell you who they are in the vlog!

I thought it was about time I introduced you to Jake Steinmann – Ed’s brother from Fairytale of New YorkI’ll Take New York is written from both his and Bea’s perspectives – I haven’t written anything from two points of view before but as soon as I began to write the book I felt that I wanted to take readers inside Jake’s head as well as Bea’s. Jake is travelling from his home in San Francisco back to his birth city of New York after his beautiful wife Jessica unexpectedly files for divorce. He is reeling from the revelation, having believed they had a perfect marriage, and chooses to return to New York to be close to his family and start his business again. It’s a painful decision, but to stay in San Francisco is unthinkable if he has to live there without Jess…

“He could stay in San Francisco, pretending that life was untouched by his wife’s decision to leave him. But he knew, deep down, that to stay in a city in which every street, sidewalk and brick seemed imprinted with her name would be the end of him. Better to nurse a broken heart on the other side of the country…”

The full extract is in the vlog – hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think…

M xx

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, “Ee by ‘eck, look at tha’ cap, lass…”

 

Miranda Writes 25 – hear an EXCLUSIVE extract from I’ll Take New York

All year I’m making vlogs to chart the life of my sixth novel, I’ll Take New York. This week, I have a bit of a treat for you – an exclusive extract from the book!

I’ve been promising to share a sneaky snippet of Bea and Jake’s story with you for some time, so I thought it was about time I did it! Below is just a snippet – but watch the vlog to see much more:

…For as long as she could remember, Bea had dreamed of one day owning her own bookstore.

She had loved books all her life. Real books, not electronic ones. Books you could carry in your bag and read on the subway. Books you could pretend to read in neighbourhood coffee shops while people-watching. Books you could snuggle up with and lose yourself in. Books you could fill your apartment with – packed onto shelves, propping up tables and piled up reassuringly by the side of your bed. If she left home without a book, Bea felt naked, bereft. But then, working in a bookshop meant there were always new friends to make and take home. 

Friends who never let her down. Friends she could trust…

I also answer your questions on my favourite characters and whether I have more stories to tell about them after my books are published. Plus, find out which of my characters will be returning in I’ll Take New York – here’s a clue: one of them comes from another of my novels…

Let me know what you think – I’d love to know if the extract I read in the vlog whets your appetite for more! Or ask me a question for next week… Leave a comment below, tweet me @wurdsmyth or email me at mirandawurdy@gmail.com.

Enjoy! xx

 

 

Miranda Writes 20 – THE BIG TITLE REVEAL!

Drumroll please… I am SO excited to finally be able to share with you the title for Book 6 at last!

The book is actually all written and edited as I’m just over a week and a half away from welcoming Bump into the world and I can’t wait for you to read it. To celebrate the title reveal, I’ve made a little trailer vlog that gives you some sneaky details of what Book 6 is about. Hope you enjoy it – and let me know what you think! xx