What’s new in July?
So much! New home – this urban nomad may be putting down roots, and in the burbs, no less. New book – Dance with Me – coming to an e-book distributor near you in just a day or two. New publisher – Evernight. And, of course, this newsletter.
Welcome to your first issue of Hazel Hughes News, and thank you for subscribing!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure about starting a monthly newsletter. After all, I blog every week and post on Facebook almost daily. I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Goodreads. Enough already, amiright?
But those posts are for everyone. I wanted to have a vehicle to reach out to the people who have read my books and want to read more. People in my inner circle. People like you.
What can you expect from Hazel Hughes News? Well, exclusive excerpts from my latest books and works in progress, for one, as well as first notice about my upcoming releases and events. You’ll also have preferential access to contests and giveaways, like this one:
Dance with Me will be available in most e-book distributors on Tuesday, and by subscribing to this newsletter, you have the chance to get your hands on one of the first copies. Just click on the link. If you win, you’ll also get a $10 Starbucks gift certificate.
(If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Sherry, the heroine of Dance with Me, can’t function without her morning Venti latte. Maybe you’re the same?)
Of course, if you don’t win, you can still get your copy of Dance with Me for less than the price of your favorite Starbucks fix. It will be offered for 25% off on Evernight Publishing’s website for the first week of its release.
Here’s the first chapter – exclusive to Hazel Hughes News subscribers – to give you a taste.
Sherry was seconds from journalistic brilliance when her boss dropped the photo onto her keyboard.
“Just a sec, Frank,” she said, brushing it to the side. “Three Mutilated in Toaster Fire,” she muttered under her breath as she typed the headline, deleted and typed again. “Toaster Maims Family. Yes.” She ran a hand through her silky black hair and smiled up at him.
Maybe maim was too strong a word for a few second degree burns, but she knew Frank would rewrite it anyway. That’s what old-school editors did, and Frank was as old-school as they came. It had been a slow news week in the city. When Sherry got bored, she got creative. Well, that’s what she called it anyway. Frank had a different word for it.
Frank read the headline over her shoulder and shook his head, fighting a smile.
“That’s what I thought.” He pushed the photo into her hand. “This’ll keep you busy ‘til things pick up again.” He started walking back to his office, his faded blue shirt tucked into chinos so old the outline of his wallet was permanently etched into the back pocket.
Sherry glanced down at the headshot. Nice looking, whoever he was. Clear green eyes like sea-glass stared back at her from beneath hooded lids and a tousle of copper-colored hair. Add to that high Slavic cheekbones and a smile that was ten percent sugar and ninety percent spice. But what was with that jewel-crusted satin shirt?
“What the hell is this, Francis?” she called to her boss’s retreating back. He didn’t love it when she called him that, but he let her get away with it as long as she kept delivering stories that generated clicks and sold papers. So far she hadn’t let him down.
He turned and walked back to her through the jumble of desks that was the newsroom of The New York Sun. Most of them were empty at this time of morning, but Sherry could almost see the handful of stringers and interns swivel their ears in her direction.
Frank put his hands on her desk and leaned in, too close. Sherry smelled Marlboros and stale coffee. “Alexi Davydenko. Your next assignment,” he said with a cold smile.
“Ha. Funny. You know I don’t cover the arts. That’s Kim’s beat.” She flicked the photo off her desk with one short-nailed finger. At least she’d stopped biting them. It had been a hundred and seven days, but she didn’t dare let them grow past her fingertips. That would be too tempting.
He crossed his arms, his eyes hard. “Kim’s on emergency leave. She fell down the stairs at 28th this morning. Broke her leg. She’s at Bellvue, getting it set.”
“Well, I’m sorry for Kim,” she lied, knowing Frank didn’t believe a word. It was no secret that she and Kim were far from besties. Kim’s pronouncements about the “it” show of the season made Sherry want to slap the smug grin off her highlighted and contoured face. Kim’s not so subtle digs at Sherry’s utilitarian style didn’t help either. “Maybe one of the interns would like a crack at it. I’m working on…” she started.
“You’re working on this,” Frank said, picking the photo up and slapping it on her desk. The sound made the intern at the next desk flinch. “Interview’s in an hour. American Ballet Company. Broadway and 19th.”
“You can’t be serious.” she said.
“Am I ever anything but?” He flashed her a humorless smile and started walking away. “Check your email. Kim sent you the interview questions from her phone. All you gotta do is show up.” He stopped in the doorway to his office. “I want it filed by four. This is breaking news.”
She wove her way through the desks toward him, waving the photo. “This is breaking news? A man in tights? Whole villages are being wiped out in Nigeria and this is what makes the headlines?”
“Hey. I am literally giving you Prince Charming.” His eyes twinkled. He was enjoying this way too much. “Only you would complain about that.” The door swung shut.
Sherry looked around the newsroom for support, but everyone had their heads down, tapping away at their keyboards. Peter’s desk was empty. Her one friend and ally was in Queens covering a shooting. He got news. She got tutus.
Tempting as it was to hand the assignment off to an intern, she wouldn’t. Frank took a lot of crap from Sherry, but they both knew when he drew a line in the sand, she would keep her toes on the right side of it. With the digitalization of the news industry, a job that covered the rent on her Brooklyn studio wasn’t worth risking for the sake of her journalistic integrity, whatever that meant anymore.
She pushed the photo aside and clicked open her email. “Ballet Hottie”, the subject heading read. She opened it, scrolling through the list of questions, stopping when she hit Kim’s ornate purple signature. “From the desk of Kimberly Clarkson”, it read, the loops of the font as OTT as the bows on the chiffon blouses Kim favored. And as vacuous as her so-called interview questions.
Opening another tab, Sherry typed Alexi Davydenko into the search box. “Royal Ballet Bad-boy Bites the Hand that Feeds Him,” she read. Daily Mail. Not surprising. The Daily Mail could turn a tea-party with the Queen into shocking scandal. She clicked on a link to the Guardian. “Royal Ballet Loses Rising Star,” it read. Much more sensible.
She scanned the article, but there weren’t many hard facts. The Ukrainian dancer had broken his contract for unspecified reasons a year ago. Between then and now, he hadn’t been in the news much. A solo at the Vail Dance Festival. Some commercial work for Dior. She clicked open the link to the video. Black and white. Artsy. Verging on homoerotic.
Not her type, of course. She didn’t go for the self-involved artsy-fartsy creative types. When it came to men, she skewed intellectual. And married. They didn’t make so many demands.
“And how’s that working out for you, Sherry baby?” she muttered under her breath. She looked down at her unbitten nails. One hundred and seven days. And counting.
Sighing, she opened the email tab again and reread Kimberly’s questions, hoping to find something she could sink her teeth into. So he was signing with American Ballet Company. This was breaking news? She shook her head, wishing Peter were here to commiserate with her.
Leaving the photo on the bare surface of her desk and tucking her laptop into the worn leather messenger bag she always carried, Sherry headed for the stairs. Forty-five minutes to get to from Brooklyn to Midtown. She was taking a cab and billing the paper. God help Frank if he didn’t sign off on it.
That’s it for this month. Feel free to get in touch with me on social media. I love to hear from my readers!
Until next month,