Tag Archives: Miranda Dickinson

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!

Fab Night In Chatty Thing – 11th June

Watch the Friday Night Special edition of my weekly FB Live show, Fab Night In Chatty Thing!

This week, three amazing Books of the Week you can win, plus an exclusive new chapter of In A New York Minute – my third New York-set Kowalski’s novel. If you loved Fairytale Of New York and I’ll Take New York, you’ll love this!

This video has closed captions embedded into it. To turn them on, select the Settings logo (cog) on the control bar of the player.

A Spooky Treat for you…

Happy Halloween! Whether you’re relishing the prospect of a spooky night or (like me) a total wuss who’d much prefer treats to tricks, I have something to make you smile…

Here’s a free short story with not very scary ghouls, monsters and a very lovely zombie wench, a sprinkling of magic and a sparkle of romance – welcome to Halloween Café!

It‘s Halloween at Tony & Frank’s, a fading Fifties’ themed diner on the outskirts of Dudley and the poor overworked staff face a day dressed in ‘spooktacular’ costumes, thanks to an unwelcome memo from Head Office. Lonely waiter Jon is secretly in love with new waitress Lily, but in their awful costumes and with his own shyness, how will he ever let her know?

But Jon is about to get a Halloween treat – because way above their heads, two unseen observers are watching and hatching a plan to help him. Will the magic work before the end of the spookiest shift of the year?

I write… for her

I’m often asked who you should write for. Is it for a market, for yourself, for an audience? It’s taken me a long time to find the right answer because of course you should write for yourself and keep readers in mind, too. But I think I’ve finally worked out who I’m writing for: it’s all about this tiny photo I keep on my desk:

KIng Eds MeIt’s a very blurry photo of me, taken around 1990 when I was seventeen. I was at sixth-form college in Stourbridge studying for my English, History and Theatre Studies A-levels – and evenings and weekends at home I was working on my very first book.

I hadn’t told anyone I wrote. My family knew I was doing something because I was writing on a travel typewriter I’d been given for Christmas (remember those?) – the kind that became a rather heavy mini-suitcase when you closed the lid. They didn’t know the story I was writing, only the noise it made.

I loved drama and wanted to be an actress. I had a vision of myself as a confident woman one day, striding off into the world chasing after her dreams. On stage I was confident: in person I apologised, worried, played down my own achievements. I thought I was fat. (I wasn’t fat). I had a strong voice but whispered in choir because I’d been told it stood out too much. (It did stand out, that’s what made it awesome). But when I wrote, I could believe anything was possible – even if the many splodges of Tipp-Ex on the pages told a different story.

And then I decided to tell the guy I had a crush on that I wrote.

(You know a story that begins like this isn’t going to end well…)

He was the leading light in my Theatre Studies class and in the amateur theatre group I performed with on Saturdays. I was a T-Bird to his Danny Zuko, the Ugly Sister to his Prince Charming. He agreed to partner with me for a duologue piece as part of our course – the Inspector from J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls grilling Sheila Birling over her mistreatment of Eva Smith. While we were rehearsing alone one lunchtime in the drama studio, I seized my chance.

‘I’m writing a book, actually.’

What I imagined would happen next proves I’m both a writer to my core and a hopeless romantic: I imagined him taking my hand, my hair blowing around my shoulders, the London Philharmonic Orchestra wheeling into the background to accompany my confession with suitably sweeping strings. He would gaze into my eyes, murmuring, ‘I’ve waited my whole life for a woman who writes…’

What he actually said was a little different.

‘You write stories? Shouldn’t you have given that up at primary school?’

And that was when I quit as a writer.

I went home, binned the many sheets of my book, shelved my typewriter and sobbed into my duvet. I didn’t write another story for ten years.

I write for her.

I write for the teenager who believed one idiot instead of following her heart. I write for the young woman setting out into her life longing for adventure who came home and cowered instead. I write for her – because every chapter I write, every draft I finish, every book I edit and see through to publication, is proof she was right. It was possible. It is possible. It’s happening now.

She’s on my desk (flanked by the Tenth Doctor because she’s awesome and deserves it) and I see her every time I sit down to write. I want her to know that she gets to write books for a living. Books that have gone around the world, translated into fifteen languages, read by over a million people. I want her to believe in herself and stop hiding.

The story I started to write after the ten-year hiatus went on to become Fairytale of New York, after years of secret writing. I’m currently writing my twelfth novel and my eleventh, Our Story, publishes on 3rd September. It’s about two people chasing their dream of writing. And the male protagonist is called Joe – which is the name seventeen-year-old me chose for her very first male lead in the book she was dreaming about.

I think she’d like that.

 

I Write for Her

New vlog! New book, new ideas and news

My latest vlog is here and it’s packed with new things!

There’s news about where I’m at with Book 11 (out later this year), my revamped newsletter and brand new Book Club, plus my online shop and exciting things coming later this year, which I’m very chuffed about…

Ask me a question for the next vlog! What would you like to know about writing, publishing, editing and books? Do you have a burning question about my novels, or a writing problem you’d like some help with? You can leave a comment below this post or contact me on Twitter @wurdsmyth, on Instagram @wurdsmyth, on Facebook at MirandaDickinsonAuthor, or via email: mirandawurdy@gmail.com If I answer your question, I’ll give you a shout out in my vlog.

Happy watching! xx

A Special Short Story for Christmas

Happy Christmas, lovelies! I wanted to give you all a little something to say thank you for your support in 2019, so read on for an EXCLUSIVE SHORT STORY…

the-christmas-window-by-miranda-dickinson

Click the link below to read the story!

It’s been a bit of a year this year and there have been lots of challenges both personally and professionally. I celebrated a decade as a published author and saw the publication of my tenth novel, The Day We MeetAgain. I won an award from wonderful writing collective 26 – the first award of my career – and I wrote what I hope will be a career-defining novel that will publish in 2020. I also battled illness, faced scary money worries and had to re-evaluate how I see myself. I’m going into the next decade understanding where I am and believing for better.

So here’s a gift from me to you, to thank you for all of your wonderful messages, book love and support this year and throughout my writing career. I promise you so many more stories to come – and this is the first.

THE CHRISTMAS WINDOW is a short story with snow, love and just a little bit of Christmas magic and I hope you enjoy it. Click the link below to read it.

Wishing you all the brightest things for 2020 xx

The Christmas Window ©Miranda Dickinson 2019

#Wurdy10k – My Gift to Writers

To celebrate reaching 10,000 followers, I’m doing a seven-day extravaganza of freebies, giveaways and competitions. Keep watching my tweets to see all of them! For DAY THREE, I have a very special prize and a big announcement for writers…

Wurdy10k Day 3First up, I have a prize for one published writer (traditional or self-published) and one not-yet-published writer.

For A PUBLISHED WRITER I am offering a free one-hour Skype chat where we can talk about your writing. Whatever you need – whether it’s encouragement, advice, or help – we can cover it during our chat. I want to support authors at all stages of their careers and help you stay in love with your words. However I can help, I will.

For AN UNPUBLISHED WRITER I am offering a free three-chapter critique of the book you are are writing or have completed. I can offer advice on tightening up the prose, creating an opening chapter that will have readers turning the pages to read more and crafting a novel opening that will grab the attention of agents, publishers and readers alike.

To be in with a chance of winning these prizes, email me: mirandawurdy@gmail.com and tell me about yourself and your work – and why you would like to win. The closing date for entries is 30th November 2019.

And here’s my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT for everyone: On THURSDAY 7th NOVEMBER I am hosting the very first WriteFoxyLIVE!

WriteFoxy LOGOWriteFoxyLIVE will be a one-hour Facebook Live event where you can ask any question about writing, editing and publishing. I’ll have lots of encouragement for you and best of all this is totally free! No registration needed, just join me on my FB author page: facebook.com/MirandaDickinsonAuthor. For five years my WriteFoxy events have been loved and enjoyed by writers at all stages of writing, from brand new writers to established authors. It’s a place where you can be encouraged, fall back in love with your words and hang out with fellow wordsmiths. I’ve wanted to make it available to everyone for a long time, so I’m thrilled to be bringing you WriteFoxyLIVE on THURSDAY 7th NOVEMBER, 7.30pm-8.30pm. It’s going to be so much fun!

The Day We Meet Again is coming soon!

I had the idea for The Day We Meet Again two and a half years ago, walking through St Pancras Station in London, when I saw the statue of Sir John Betjeman for the very first time…

Everything appeared in that moment: Phoebe and Sam – the two people who would meet and fall for one another when their trains were delayed; the question of whether you should put your life on hold if love takes you by surprise, even the journeys both of them would take. It doesn’t always happen like that, at least not for me. But the story was instantly one I wanted to write.

As it turned out, Phoebe and Sam would face more delays until I could get them onto the page. But they refused to leave until I did. This year, on 5th September, they will finally star in my tenth novel.

Watch out for a big, sparkly announcement about The Day We Meet Again this Friday (31st May) at 5pm – and keep watching this blog, my TwitterInstagram and Facebook posts for lots more exciting things….

I can’t wait to share Phoebe and Sam’s story with you. It’s been a bit of a long wait, but it’ll be worth it!

TDWMA Proof Spines Stack

 

I have a new single!

One of the things I want to do more of this year is get back to music. I’ve been a singer-songwriter, session vocalist (working with producers across the world) and band vocalist since I was 19, and music has always been a huge love of my life.

M Session PicBut in recent years music has taken a back seat to books and being Mum. While I still gig with my band The Peppermints (who you might know better as The Pinstripes from my third novel, It Started With a Kiss), I haven’t done much with my own songs.

I recorded an album About Time, in 2011 which I self-funded and I’m so proud of it, even if there are about seven boxes of CDs now gathering cobwebs in my shed! It was a dream to record my own music – followed by my book soundtrack EP that I wrote to accompany It Started With a Kisscalled Last First Kiss in 2012.Booklet

For a while I’ve had my music on Soundcloud (click the link to see all my tracks, which you can hear for free) and Bandcamp, together with my music page on Facebook. I’ve written a lot of new songs in the last twelve months, which I hope to record soon – updates when they happen!

I’m currently writing about a musician in my forthcoming novel, The Day We Meet Again – and it’s made me miss music more than ever. So, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and release a single! Why not, eh?

GIVE ME A REASON was originally on the album, and I love it.
You can hear it below – and it can be yours for only £1 – just click this Bandcamp link.

Enjoy! And if you like what you hear, leave a comment below xx

NEW VLOG – My BIG P-Day Surprise!

When I agreed to meet Cathy Bramley for lunch on P-Day for Somewhere Beyond the Sea, I had no idea what she’d secretly planned…

Instead of a quiet lunch and stock signing at Waterstones Birmingham, Cathy had arranged for my wonderful friends Jo QuinnRachael Lucas and my lovely agent Hannah to travel from all over the country to give me the BIGGEST surprise. I have never had a day like it!

I filmed a vlog on the day – you can see how utterly delighted and shocked I was! Apologies for the squeals! I’d expected publication day to be a quiet, little celebration but it turned into the biggest, sparkliest, most amazing P-Day of my career. And it meant so much. I didn’t feel alone, like I’d feared I might. The love I felt from everyone – my lovely friends and the brilliant booksellers at Waterstones Birmingham who were there, everyone who sent me gorgeous messages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – has been absolutely phenomenal and I am completely overwhelmed by it.

Thank you, too, if you’ve bought Somewhere Beyond the Sea in paperbackebook or the utterly wonderful audiobook narrated by Clare Corbett and Jonathan Bailey. Thank you for believing in the story I wanted to tell. It means more than I’ll ever be able to express.

So, here’s the vlog (including the spookily fab accordion player we met playing Somewhere Beyond the Sea as we left the bookshop!). Enjoy! xx