Sharon and I connected through social media. I love how her cover has a rescued dog on it.
Sharon Geltner was a Washington D. C. reporter, wrote for celebrity authors and traveled to exotic places on assignment, including Israel, Egypt, Lapland and Singapore.
Geltner came to Boca Raton, Florida to write for a national newspaper chain. She was briefly a war correspondent in the Mideast. When she revealed that the town’s biggest philanthropist, who claimed to be a “countess,” had bought her illegitimate title, from a con man, there was a battle royal.
The “countess” announced she would cut local charities out of her $22 million will, unless Geltner and her editor left town. This high society “banned from Boca” edict appeared as far away as Frankfurt and Paris. Geltner won a national award for “Outstanding News Reporting” from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Later, Geltner publicized nonprofits with national coverage in the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, etc. One client was a Top 10 CNN Hero, honored by the Obama White House and Oprah Winfrey, who received a free, $9 million Super Bowl ad from Microsoft. Geltner also raised money at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach, with televised fashion shows, including door prizes drummed up from the Worth Avenue Ferragamo.
Today, Geltner teaches, consults and owns the award-winning, multimedia agency, Froogle PR. She is also a multimedia freelancer and professional book reviewer.
Tell us about yourself.
My career has spanned social work, social climbing, social media and more recently, social distancing. Many of my strange and varied experiences have provided fodder for writing novels.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I loved reading as a child and thought it would be a huge accomplishment to write, then publish a book. Then have actual people read it and enjoy it! That would be remarkable.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I love to read twisty thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, humor as well as nonfiction, such as biographies, journalism etc.
I find myself writing in a blend of genres. I think novels are best if there is something unexpected happening. It doesn’t have to be a murder mystery for that to happen. I also like to step out of the confines of any single formula, if I can.
I also enjoy reading comedy, which is a lot harder to pull off successfully than drama. (Any actor will tell you the same, it’s much harder to perform and make people laugh, than cry.)
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
What is your current release or project?
My current book is CHARITY BASHED, a fun, humorous cozy mystery and satire set amongst the elite in Palm Beach, Florida. (Available digital and paperback.)
I am at work on another novel, historical fiction, RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE. It takes place over 60 years and three continents, much of it in Washington, D. C.
Tell us about the key characters.
We have Justine Romanoff, a frustrated reporter who now must flatter the 1% in order to make a living (although she enjoys being on the fringes of the opulence of Palm Beach, Florida.) We also have a cute boyfriend, fun friends (who are reporters but still frustrated!) and lots of frenemies at the office. We also have many characters who may be a tad hypocritical; professing to dedicating their lives (or at least some petty cash) to the vulnerable poor, but are hiding some deep, dark secrets!
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
Ever wonder what REALLY goes on at secretive and posh enclaves such as the Palm Beach Country Club, which was ground zero for the Madoff scandal? The customs, the culture, the back stabbing?
Publishers Weekly, bookstagrammers, book bloggers, Facebook and Instagram book club members, newspapers, magazines and a Top Amazon Reviewer highly recommend this fictional account of the restless and the ruthless. Go behind closed doors and gated communities to find out why.
The plot: after a $10 million donor is found dead in an oceanfront pool; a charity fund raiser stops panhandling amongst the elite, and begins investigating fraud, mayhem, murder and relentless social climbing. In that order.
Share an excerpt.
“My tiara’s too tight.”
It wasn’t the first time I heard that. I raise money for a charity, the Palm Beach Crisis Center. As chief panhandler for a nonprofit next to the richest island in the world, it’s my job to help when jewelry weighs too much.
Mrs. Benjamin R. Ecklund’s soft blond bangs were indeed flattened by her 140-carat gold and diamond coronet. I should have such problems.
“Mrs. Ecklund, you look magnificent,” I said reassuringly. It was the truth. The Palm Beach socialite, who was going to host our charity gala tomorrow at her oceanfront estate, was a stunner. Tiaras on women are like tuxedos on men. Anyone who donned one acquired a sudden regal elegance, often undeserved. Mrs. Ecklund had coronated herself.
Whoever said you can’t buy class was wrong, especially here in south Florida. Not long ago, Brenda was a $23,000-a-year receptionist married to a mechanic at Tombstone Motorcycles in West Palm Beach. She ditched him to marry her elderly, yet frisky boss, one of the richest men in Palm Beach.
Sadly, my powers of persuasion had fallen as flat as Mrs. Ecklund’s hair. “The weight of all these jewels could crush my coiffure and ruin tomorrow night’s publicity photos,” she said.
I tried to look sweet and sincere. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, Mrs. Ecklund. I guarantee in every shot, your updo will look fabulous.”
Brenda Ecklund began to sparkle as brightly as her diadem. When she smiled, she seemed likeable. But the things that made her happy were sometimes a little scary, such as when Mrs. Ecklund got her hubby to cut his children from his previous marriages out of the will.
The jumior Ecklunds’ loss could be my employer’s gain. Brenda wanted to be THE society matron of the island of Palm Beach and step number one, after snagging the spouse and bagging the house, was to host charity galas. That’s why I as here begging for a cut of her dough. We sat in her tangerine velvet-covered dressing room. It wasn’t to my taste, but maybe the Bordello Tropicana stimulated her husband.
How could I flatter Brenda into not making me run to Worth Avenue to borrow a new tiara at this late date? I had a million things to do before Brenda’s shindig tomorrow night to honor Vincent Paul Louis, a Palm Beach VIP. He had pledged a huge donation to the Crisis Center to feed the poor, heal the sick, rehab his sleazy reputation, etc.
Brenda had cause to be nervous about her image. She’d donated a few hundred grand, money from her recent matrimony, or rather, matrimoney, to get the honor of hostessing our ball that required black tie and tiaras.
Brenda peered into the mirror. “Is there a scratch on this tiara?”
I went over for a closer look. “No, I don’t think so.”
Mrs. Ecklund asked, “Do you think my hair looks better up or down in my photos?”
“Hmmmm,” I said. “Well, down really shows off your eyes, but I think I prefer it up.”
“Because it looks more queenly and you’re going to be chairing the event, after all.”
I checked my agenda. I was supposed to suggest that Brenda get temporary lowlights to show off her gleaming gems and then segue into accessories. This could take another 45 minutes at least, but before I could get started on earrings, we were interrupted by her social secretary. She ran in, panting.
“I wanted to tell you before the police came in.” Her face was flushed, her eyes bulging. This could well be a “shoot the messenger” kind of situation.
“Tell me what? Didn’t I already give to the annual Policeman’s Fund?” Brenda sounded annoyed. “Show them around to the servants’ entrance.”
“The police aren’t here to collect money,” the staffer said. “They’re here to collect evidence.”
“Evidence? For what?” Mrs. Ecklund said. “What are they doing here?”
“Oh, Mrs. Ecklund,” the secretary said tearfully. She gathered her courage.
“They found a dead man floating in your swimming pool!”
Do you have a favorite scene?
My favorite scenes are the one that readers say are outrageous and make them laugh out loud. I also get a lot of laughs and some disbelief from the chapters describing the lavish parties for society pets, dogs with their own private chefs and diamond leashes.
But one of the scenes I replay most in my mind is when our hero, Justine Romanoff, is busted in church at a society funeral for wearing castoffs from the deceased (who donated them to a consignment shop while still alive.)
Yep, I had something similar happen, only the guilty object was a Burberry knockoff purse—from Target.
I’m still paying the therapy bills.
What advice would you give a beginner?
If you are an independent author: great, tell your story! But remember that you will have a higher hurdle of proving your professionalism and the inherent worth of your book. Hire a professional editor to improve your manuscript and pay a professional artist to design your cover. Writing is an avocation, but it is also a business. (It takes money to make money.)