The Start

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As she let out a creative string of curses under her breath, she thought to herself that her editor would have been proud of her ingenuity. Then again, it was probably best that her editor couldn't hear those profanities and, more importantly, the cause of them.

"I never lose my wallet," she moaned to her best friend, Tiffany Waters.

And this was true. A feat which Tiffany had always thought very impressive, given Melodie's rather hectic single-mom lifestyle. Nevertheless, the empty bottom of her purse screamed the truth out at her: she had finally lost something.

"Maybe they'll let you in without it. They might even recognize you!" The cheerful hope in Tiffany's voice was almost too much.

Melodie snorted. "Oh sure, I bet they'll recognize me from that one book I miraculously managed to publish. That should totally be enough for them to let me stroll right in to New York Pitch." Catching herself, she looked at Tiffany apologetically. "Sorry...I'm just a little stressed."

"Yeah," Tiffany sighed. "We won't know anything until we get to the badge ID pickup, and since we're basically there anyways, we might as well go try our luck...or, well, your luck," she added as an afterthought.

This earned a much needed giggle from Melodie. With that they resumed their pace towards the designated check-in location. This was her first time attending the NYC conference, a premier opportunity for authors to launch their manuscript straight into the hands of publishers, provided they were any good. At first Melodie had been reluctant to go, practically whining that she already had an editor. Sunny Singh, the aforementioned editor, had reassured Melodie this wouldn't change their professional relationship.

"Besides," Sunny had baited, "I think you're just afraid to go and pitch your manuscript."

This got the desired rise out of Melodie. It wasn't that she was afraid of the pitch. Rather she worried that this manuscript wasn't even worth pitching. It was a concern she had mulled over in her head numerous times: that she still hadn't written something as good as her first book. Despite Sunny's insistence that her manuscript had merit, Melodie's reservations remained. It wasn't until her fellow author, and best friend, Tiffany, decided to attend the conference as well that Melodie had been sold on the idea.

Together they had planned the trip from Chicago to New York, complete with a plan to bring Melodie's eight-year-old son along. If they were already going to New York in the summertime, they might as well turn it into a vacation. They had booked adjoining rooms at Hotel Pennsylvania, an admittedly retro hotel, but with rates acceptable to a struggling author. Melodie had worried it wouldn't impress her son, but her concerns had been unnecessary. As soon as Bram discovered the Houdini Museum was practically across the street from their hotel, he hadn't talked about much else. Melodie smiled, remembering how he had launched into a detailed history of Houdini's life, much to his grandmother's exasperation. The smile faded from Melodie's lips as she thought about her mother-in-law. It wasn't that the two didn't have a good relationship. On the contrary, Melodie got along very well with Ada Murdock. But thinking about Ada usually led to thinking about James Murdock, something Melodie typically avoided. Still, it was hard to forget a husband who disappeared from his wife and two-year-old son's lives. Melodie shook off the unwanted thoughts. At least Bram still had his grandmother, who had happily agreed to come along on this trip to watch Bram while Melodie and Tiffany were at the conference. Granted, Melodie might not be at this conference after all.

"Photo ID's, please." The woman at the registration table didn't really look like she had meant that 'please.' She also didn't look like she had seen much sunlight lately.

"I've kinda misplaced my wallet. Is there any way I can complete registration without my ID?" Melodie held her breath.

"No ID, no badge." Registration Lady seemed like the kind of person that the concept of 'sympathy' had been lost on.

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