Author: Gayle Tiller
Page count: 286
I am a community activist, public relations professional and a former lawyer for senior citizens. I live in San Jose where I am currently working on my next novel.
Tell us about your book:
Dianne Canton is a lawyer whose life is in dire straits. She’s lost her apartment and car. Dianne is living in her rundown office in downtown San Jose. When Emma Watkins knocks on her door, Dianne thinks she is a bill collector. Emma turns out to be a former judge who holds a $73 million lottery ticket that will expire in about 24 hours. Years ago, the media destroyed Emma and her family in a bitter recall election. Emma wants to stop the media from publicizing her name as the winner of the lottery. If Dianne wins Emma’s case, her money troubles will be over. If Dianne loses, Emma will lose $73 million.
How long did it take to write the book?
The first draft of “24 Hour Lottery Ticket” took about two years. The editing was the hard part. I had to delete chapters, add chapters and tighten up other chapters. That process took almost three years.
What inspired you to write the book?
A former co-worker who is an avid writer asked me to join her writers’ group.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I was a member of a writers’ group in which we met on a regular basis. We were required to write pages for our sessions and read our pages to each other.
I perform best when I am under pressure. I also am a procrastinator. On the morning before our meeting, I would write several pages and bring my pages to share with the group.
As for research, I decided to let my imagination rule rather than doing countless hours of research.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope readers find the book both hilarious and suspenseful at the same time.
Where can we go to buy your book?
“24 Hour Lottery Ticket” is available at online bookstores. Local bookstores also can specially- order the book.
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
To read the first three chapters of my book, please visit my web site http://www.24hourlotteryticket.com. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpt from book:
April 19, 2009 1:37 p.m.
I stared at the stack of bills in front of me. After being in law practice as a sole practitioner for three years, I still had a hard time. There were times when I wanted to shut down my office, but I couldn’t. I had no place to go.
The county refused to promote me after I had passed the bar. My boss wanted me to stay at my old job as a housing specialist. She said I didn’t have what it took to be a good lawyer.
I then applied at numerous law firms in Silicon Valley and not one single firm was interested in me. Maybe it was because it had taken me five times to pass the bar and I had graduated with a C average from a fourth tier law school.
Taking hypothetical tests and getting good grades never had been my thing. I was better at real life projects. And for some reason, law firms were more interested in academics than my twelve years of housing experience with the county.
I wanted to practice law so I had no choice but to start my own business. I left my $60,000 a year job and opened an office in downtown San Jose.
I thought clients would come in droves because of the location. It took almost three months before I got my first client. After that, clients trickled in, but not enough to make any real money. I tried everything to increase business: a web site, ads, joining nonprofit boards, and a referral panel but nothing worked.
After three years, my savings and 401k were gone. I was living off credit cards and they were almost maxed to the limit.
I heard a knock at my office door. I glanced at my calendar and it showed that I did not have any appointments. I didn’t want to answer the door. It could be bill collectors and I had nothing to give them.
I ignored the knock and went back to looking at my bills. The knock became louder. I walked to my door, peered out my peephole and saw an older woman.
“I know you’re in there,” she said as she banged on the door. “Open the door now.”
Jesus Christ, these bill collectors were getting bolder. Why couldn’t they leave me alone?
“Ma’am, it’s Sunday. We’re not open,” I responded.
“Dammit, I need to see you,” she snapped.
“I don’t have anything to give you.”
“Stop playing games,” she hissed. “Open the door now.”
“It’s an emergency and I need you to help me on my case.”
Did she say case? Oh God, I hope I hadn’t pissed her off. I opened the door for her and told her to come inside.
The woman walked into my lobby. She was about 5’2″ with a slender figure. Her reddish brown hair was styled in a short cut with wispy bangs that accented her dark brown eyes and diamond shaped face.
The woman’s white cotton pants and lavender short-sleeved polyester-blend blouse complemented her olive skin. Her face looked like she was in her early fifties, but I could tell from her hands and neck she was somewhere in her sixties.
The woman’s face fell as she took in a quick view of my small, narrow lobby. There were a couple of chairs with discolored grayish-white cushions and an old cheap brown metal table that had a few of last year’s magazines on top of it.
She glanced at the peeling brownish-green wallpaper and stained beige carpet. When she made a wry face, I wanted to apologize.
When I had started practicing, my first law office was a lot different. I rented a beautiful loft with large glass windows and hardwood floors. My furniture had been state-of-the-art. Two years later, I moved and sold my furniture, because I wasn’t making enough money to pay the high rent.
I found my current office through a friend. The landlord agreed to rent to me for free in exchange for managing the six office spaces in the building. I was on the bottom floor with two other units and three were above me.
I made a gesture to the woman to sit down. She refused. The woman walked toward me. She then looked me up and down to take in the full length of my 5’10″ height.
“You’re Dianne Canton the lawyer, right?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I wasn’t sure because you look a lot heavier than your picture.”
Picture? She must mean the picture on my web site. It was over three years old. It was taken when I was in decent shape. But after my break-up with Shawn, I stopped exercising. Luckily, my scale was broken. So I had no idea what I weighed. I was sure that it was a lot, because rocky road ice cream was the only thing that gave me pleasure these days.
“I guess I need to get a new picture,” I mumbled.
The woman made a sour face when she gazed at my stomach. Her look made me wish that I hadn’t worn light-colored jeans, which emphasized my thick thighs and belly and a red t-shirt that tugged against my ample breasts.
She stared at my thick, curly dark hair that fell just below my shoulders. The woman almost formed a smile, but she couldn’t for some reason. She then looked down at the stained carpet and grimaced. She looked back up at my face and focused on my emerald green eyes.
“I can’t believe you thought I was homeless,” she huffed.
“No, I didn’t,” I replied.
“Then why wouldn’t you open the door?” she asked.
“Because I don’t do business on Sundays,” I lied.
“You need to make an exception for me,” she demanded.
“Maybe,” I countered.
“You will,” she snarled as she pulled out an old newspaper.
“Were you in a story?” I asked.
“No, I wasn’t. Just read the numbers.”
I peered at the newspaper. “These are winning lottery numbers from a long time ago. What does this have to do with anything?”
She pulled out an envelope from her purse and removed a faded ticket. She then held it with both hands.
“Look at the numbers,” she said as she showed me the ticket.
I peered at them and smiled. “It looks like you’re the winner.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” she sneered.
I glanced at the newspaper again. “But this newspaper is six months old. Have you filed a claim?” I asked.
“No. It’s due tomorrow.”
My eyes widened. “Tomorrow!” I exclaimed.
“I have 180 days to turn in the ticket and tomorrow is the deadline.”
“But why have you waited so long?”
“Because I didn’t want the publicity,” she replied.
“And now you want to file a claim?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she responded as she put the lottery ticket back into the envelope.
“Why are you afraid of publicity?” I asked.
She inhaled and her hands trembled. She tried to speak, but her lips would not move.
“Ma’am, are you wanted for a crime?” I asked.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” she replied.
“Then I don’t understand why you won’t file,” I said. “The lottery ticket must be worth millions.”
“73 million,” she responded.
“Tell me why you would walk away from 73 million dollars.”
“Because the media destroyed me once and I won’t allow them to destroy me again,” she responded.
“How did the media hurt you?” I asked.
She wiped tears from her face. “They took away everything I had worked for.”
“What is your name?” I asked.
“It’s not important,” she answered.
“I can’t help you if you don’t give me your name,” I said in an irate tone.
“Did you grow up in San Jose?” she asked.
“No, I didn’t,” I replied. “I came here in the late 80s.”
“When in the 80s?” she asked.
“1989, after I graduated from college.”
“Then you wouldn’t know anything.”
“About what?” I asked.
“What happened back in 1986,” she replied.
“No one would care about something that old.”
“You don’t understand,” she snapped. “The media never forgets.”
I wiped my brow. “Ma’am, did you kill someone?” I asked.
“Absolutely not. I’ve never committed a crime in my life.”
“Have you ever been charged with or indicted for any crime?” I asked.
“No,” she responded.
“If you don’t have a criminal history, I don’t understand why you have a problem with turning in your lottery ticket.”
“I told you why,” she murmured. “It’s the media.”
“You won’t tell me what happened and you won’t tell me your name,” I said as I folded my arms. “I can’t help you without this information.”
“My name is Emma Watkins,” she said while glaring at me.
“That name sounds a little familiar, but I can’t place it.”
“I told you that you wouldn’t know who I am.”
“Mrs. Watkins, you have until tomorrow to turn in the lottery ticket,” I said. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
“I’m divorced so it’s Ms. Watkins,” she responded. “And please call me Emma.”
“Okay, Emma. But you still didn’t answer my question.”
“I need you to research whether I can legally avoid publicity. If I can, I will file the claim along with a restraining order that will prevent my name from being released to the media.”
“Why would you need a restraining order? Is there any domestic violence involved in your case?” I asked.
“No, there’s not.” Emma frowned. “Restraining orders aren’t just for domestic violence cases. They’re used in other cases in which the court orders another party not to do something. In my case, the court would order that the lottery is restrained from releasing my name.”
“Now, I understand what you want,” I said.
“Good.” Emma smiled.
I took a deep breath and said, “Emma, I need more information before I can commit to taking your case. Tell me what happened.”
Emma stared into my eyes. She exhaled deeply. “Give me an hour and I will tell you everything.”