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Westchester Official Releases First Novel Through ‘Trial and Error’

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Lisa Denig, currently service as Westchester County’s commissioner of human resources, self-published her debut novel, “Trial and Error,” last month.

For years, Lisa Denig had a burning desire to write a book.

As an attorney, particularly during her time as a Westchester County assistant district attorney, she would write frequently, mainly legal briefs as part of her responsibilities.

Throughout her life, Denig has always envisioned herself as a writer, but it was the pandemic shutdown and having some extra time alone that helped fuel her dream of becoming an author.

“I’ve always been creative and I knew I always had this book in me, but when the pandemic hit, that’s when I started to have a little bit of extra time,” said Denig, whose current position is commissioner of human resources for the county. “I’m a chronic volunteer, so I’m involved in things, so all of that shut down, so I was able to find a little time to get it started.”

Last month Denig realized her dream with the release of her self-published novel “Trial and Error.” She fused elements of her personal and professional life for the basis of the story, a divorced mom of two teenage girls who works a full-time job and goes to law school at night.

The main character tries to steer her daughters in the right direction, but has to confront her feelings that she has failed as a single mother. It’s not entirely comforting that generations of parents who’ve had to guide their children through the teenage years, have had similar thoughts.

Denig, a Mount Pleasant resident, said the main divergence in the story from her life is the murder that takes place and the ensuing legal drama that unfolds.

“It’s really about the relationship that this divorced mom has with her two teenage daughters,” she said. “Everything up until the murder is very autobiographical. I wanted to get that down on paper and out because I had a younger daughter, as you’ll see in the book, who was a handful, really difficult, and I was just convinced that I was doing it all wrong, that I was really messing it up.”

While Denig had the general outline for the story, she questioned whether she had the fortitude to complete an entire novel. Denig sat down at the computer, opened a word document and started writing, sometimes in small doses as time allowed.

“I would write five or six pages and may not write again for another two months and then have to come back to it,” Denig said. “So that made it quite difficult, especially with the stream of consciousness being interrupted so often. It would take me a little bit of time to come back to it.”

The pandemic gave her some additional time, but she still was working and generally couldn’t devote long hours to finish the book in a timely fashion. The 213-page novel was completed in about three years.

It helped that one of Denig’s daughters is a travel writer, who frequently has to be in Paris, so she has an apartment there. A couple of times, when her daughter was in the U.S., Denig stayed in the apartment and would write for hours without disturbance.

“I’m forever grateful for her for that,” Denig said. “It did help.”

Denig’s other daughter, a graphic designer, created the design for the book cover.

When she was finished with the writing and the edits, Denig shopped the manuscript to various book publishers, but didn’t have any takers. She decided to self-publish to get the story out, but also to have a finished product that can be shown to publishers in the future.

“I have no connection in the publishing industry, it’s kind of cold-calling them, and I actually got really good feedback from the many agents that read the whole manuscript,” Denig said.

“A lot of book publishers want you to establish that, having you publish your first, and then they’re more inclined to take that chance on you for your second novel of your third,” Denig said. “So I’m hoping that’s the way it works for me.”

On Jan. 21, “Trial and Error” was ready for distribution.

Now that she has an author’s credit, Denig isn’t resting on her laurels. There will be a follow-up book at some point.

The book is available on and at some local bookstores.

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