‘Expired Listings’ Make for ‘Havoc-on-the Hudson’
Mary Prenon | September 2016
Realtors typically spend a lot of time writing; albeit much of that prose is spent on disclosure forms, e-mails, offers and counter offers. However, at least two Hudson Valley Realtors have taken their experiences to new levels, penning their own novels about life in the fast lane and meshing reality with fiction for some interesting twists.
This month, Dawn Barclay of Keller Williams Hudson Valley in New City, is debuting her new novel, “Expired Listings,” a satiric fictional look into the real estate community set in “Rock Canyon” in the Hudson Valley. Published under the pseudonym D.M. Barr, the book tells the story of how someone is systematically “deactivating” local real estate agents. The protagonist of the story, Dana Black, a very unconventional Realtor, tries to discover the murderer, while avoiding being labeled as a suspect herself.
“I actually started writing this about 10 years ago, but then I put it aside for a long while,” admitted Barclay. About three years ago, she got involved with the Hudson Valley Writers Center and reopened her novel. A New York Times best-selling author she met convinced her to allow his editor to read the book. “I took some of his suggestions, finished writing and started submitting it to agents and publishers.”
Out of 150 submissions, she received two offers of representation and five offers of publication. Ultimately, she decided to self-publish. “I’m such a control freak that I wanted to do things my own way,” she said. “But I had a great team of people for editing and cover design.” In fact, she continued to do some last-minute editing even after the final proofs were delivered.
Barclay is no stranger to being published. Following a successful career in the travel agency business, she began writing for “Travel Agent Magazine” and spent three years there as an editor. Later, she started her own public relations and advertising firm, Dawn Barclay Ink, handling communications and marketing for travel companies.
Still keeping her hands in editing, she furnished articles to the “Travel Market Report” “Travel Life Magazine” and others. During that time she also received a first prize award for her work from the Society of Professional Journalists. However, after her children were born, she decided to give real estate a try, earning her license in 1997.
Barclay has been with Keller Williams since 2013 and “Expired Listings” is a kind of culmination of her writing and real estate experiences. “It’s a lot of suspense and puns,” she said. “While the main character is a travel writer who becomes a Realtor, that’s where the similarities between us end,” she quipped. “The book is funny and thoughtful, and I make it clear in the preface that 99.9% of Realtors I’ve worked with are extremely ethical.”
Meanwhile, Bernice Gottlieb, a broker with William Raveis Legends Group in Irvington, is still basking in the limelight from the success of her recent novel, “Havoc-on-Hudson.” It’s a fictional story about a town called “Hudson Hills,” based on Westchester County’s Rivertowns.
“While the book is an imaginary tale, the dangers that Realtors often face are very real,” said Gottlieb, who seasons her thriller with safety advice for real estate professionals. It was the shocking murder of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter that prompted her to write the book. “What happened to that woman and others in our industry is just horrible, and it really got to me.”
Gottlieb recently held a very successful book-signing event at Barnes & Noble in White Plains. “It was a full house,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it!”
In “Havoc-on-Hudson,” Gottlieb’s main character Maggie Mitty helps police track down a killer targeting real estate agents. “I tried to make it very intriguing, while also including a lot of sound safety advice like having new clients meet you at your office, getting all of their information, making a copy of their license, and using the buddy system for open houses,” she explained. If you’re meeting a new client at a train station, Gottlieb recommends bringing them to your office first to get their information.
In addition to being a new fiction author, Gottlieb is also well-known for her extraordinary efforts in helping local families with international adoptions. Her first book, “Take My Children,” is a heartwarming story of the challenges and triumphs of uniting orphaned children in Korea and Vietnam with American families. Even more amazing was the fact that a number of these children were adopted from a Korean leprosy camp.
Just recently, she was invited to speak to an American Korean business group about her philanthropic efforts. She was also interviewed by the Seoul Broadcasting System about her adoptions and a Hollywood scriptwriter has begun preliminary work on what could be a movie about “Take My Children.” “Once the script is finished, they have to shop it around to see if there’s any interest in producing it,” explained Gottlieb. “It would be very exciting to see who would play me!”
Gottlieb has been a Realtor since 1985 and ran her own firm, Hudson Shores Realty, for 20 years before merging with William Raveis Legends two years ago. “I just love this business,” she added.
Her own adopted daughter, Susannah, is now a professor at Northwestern University and chair of the Literature Department.
Like Barclay, Gottlieb is also an alumnus of the Hudson Valley Writer’s Center. In fact, the two are sharing a booth at HGAR’s Members Day event on October 17 at the DoubleTree Hotel so they can share their books with the entire Realtor community.
Barclay’s book launch/signing party for “Expired Listings” is set for Sunday, October 9, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 pm at Growler & Gill in Nanuet. The book will be available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online retailers. Gottlieb’s “Havoc-on-Hudson” is available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.