Thursday, January 31, 2013

HEAVENLY MOVES cover art

Beautiful job by the artist whose name I do not yet know! I love the colors. (and Mona loves the bass!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Margo Murdock

The Murdock sisters play prominent roles in HEAVENLY MOVES and in Heavenly's life.  The older sister, Mona, is Hev's BFF. Today, we meet the younger (age 21) sister, Margo, known for her red hair, hot bod, grim stare and trademark unlit Marlboro.

"Mona Murdock and I were best friends from way back. Her family moved next door when we were both seven. Six-year-old Margo did not, of course, go around with an unlit cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth. But I contend she already had the grim stare down. I found Margo an unnerving child, as did most everyone."

The Murdock sisters share an apartment next door to the bowling alley, where Margo is the assistant night manager and bartender.

What else?  The girl is a hottie:  "Unlike me or her sister, Margo had to beat guys off with a stick. From a strange little strawberry blonde girl, she'd grown into a beauty. She was a little taller than me, and while I was more or less average in most respects, Margo had the drop-dead, killer body. Plus that red hair (often chemically enhanced) and the unlit Marlboro. She rarely had much to say to people she didn't know, but that didn't seem to deter the opposite sex. If I were male, I would have been scared to death of her and that grim stare, but most guys (and girls) thought she was hot."

Stop on by the Bowl-O-Rama lounge and she'll pour you a cocktail...

 © Amy Briant 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

You Say Tomato

In which I attempt to blog about short stories, but instead end up ranting about Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe, which I actually LOVE.
 
So, yay, I completed a short story last night.

This is where you say congratulations. Instead, you say, "But you're a novelist."

Oh, yeah.  *&^%$#@.

Well, novelists can write short stories, too, right?  If you write enough, you'll have a book of short stories.  Which even less people will buy.

Congratulations!

Seriously, when was the last time you bought a book of short stories?
in my defense, i bought both of these years ago

Which reminds me of a straight friend telling me, oh, your first novel is so great, straight people will want to buy it, too!

Really, Straighty McHetero?  Do you have a lot of books in your house?  Yes?  How many are about lesbians?

The funny thing is while they're thinking "one" (meaning mine) and trying to figure out how to get away from me, I'm smirking and thinking "two" because they also have Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and they don't even freakin' know it's a book by a lesbian about two lesbians!
How did Fannie Flagg do that?  She wrote a book that's clearly, obviously, totally about two lesbians and NONE OF THE STRAIGHT PEOPLE REALIZED IT!!!  They still bought a bazillion copies and made it into a movie that NOBODY REALIZED WAS ABOUT TWO LESBIANS!!!  Except for all the lesbians.  (Straight Person (still):  "No, no, those girls were just friends...weren't they?")

Hats off to you, FF.  I love FGTATWSC!  I just have to figure out how you did that.  Hmmm...

·       set it far enough in the past that straight people think lesbians did not exist then?
·       have the lesbians live together, raise a child together and run a business together, but never touch each other? (do they ever touch each other "on screen" in the book? was there a hug in there somewhere?)
·       have so many different plot lines going on simultaneously that the esbianlays just kinda faded into the scenery... whenever the reader was about to realize "hey, is that chick-" BOOM!  Switch to a different plot line!  bazinga
·       oh, wait, maybe this was it:  never use the word LESBIAN in the book!

Genius.

On a culinary note, I once had fried green tomatoes while traveling through Georgia and they were tasty.

Back to short stories:  Hmmph.  Well, I could post my short story on the internet for free as a gift to readers - a thank-you to those who've read my work before and a hello to those who haven't.  It's true.  I could do that.  When there's a year or more between novels, that would be a way to stay in touch with readers, so to speak.  I'd love it if my favorite authors would do that.  Of course they're all dead.  (fine, fine, not all of them)  (most)  And there are other ways to put the story out there as a single, but...

Speaking of death, I'm dying to share this new short story with you!  It's set in the Old West.  [When lesbians DID EXIST]  It's just so shiny and pretty and new!  So hard not to share.  Guess I keep picturing a shiny, pretty, new book of (unshared) short stories down the line... so pretty
I'd like to think that writing short stories is good for me.  That they're an opportunity to cleanse the palate between novels and/or exercise writing discipline.  Which means churn 'em out quick so I can get back to novel-writing.  Performance so far:  FAIL.  I always set aside a month, tops, and they always take wayyyyyyyy longer.

 But I love writing the occasional short story.

So why not just shut the hell up and post it?  Seems like I did that once before and I got no feedback.  Whatsoever.

Ouch.

Art/Pain/Life/Bazinga.
Let us all reread Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe in the month of February, crack the code of how this became a HUGE bestseller + movie despite being so damn lesborific in March and start our new lives as millionaire-recluse-novelists-to-be in April.  Who's with me?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Thang!

Today's artifact from my upcoming novel, HEAVENLY MOVES, is real.  (just to mix things up!)  Although HM will be my third novel to be published, it's the first novel I ever set out to write. Here's an original handwritten page from the first draft, circa 1993ish:

Whew, A LOT has changed since then!  Like, I bought a computer.  Hello.  I rarely write fiction (other than the quick brainstorm of a note) with pen or pencil these days. I know you can't really see it in the picture, but this page was so fresh and first-drafty that Heavenly (the protagonist) wasn't even called Heavenly yet - somehow, "Jennifer" didn't survive the cut.  (I think she was straight, too - HA!)

20 years ago, I lived in Hev's apartment, 2 blocks from the beach: "...a fuse would blow if you even just thought hard about electricity. Clearly, the place was a tax write-off for the owner. Fine by me—I was thrilled with the cheap rent and hoped they wouldn't be demolishing the place any time soon to build condos."

Alas, they did. The condos go for about $2 million these days.  Hope they re-did the wiring!

I know the page pictured above is hard to read, but you know what won't be hard to read?  HEAVENLY MOVES, coming April 2013!

© Amy Briant 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Jackson Miller

Today we meet another important character from HEAVENLY MOVES... no, wait, we can't meet him because he's missing.  So who is Jackson Miller?

He's the enigmatic figure at the center of HEAVENLY MOVES who's either a villain... a victim... or just some guy who gets really cool mail.

He's the tenant who used to live in Hev's new apartment, but mysteriously disappeared several months ago.

He's the object of her growing obsession:  "Here I was, twenty-two, a college dropout, working for the county and no plans to speak of.  Jesus, no wonder Jackson Miller was filling my head.  He was having way more fun than me and he was probably dead."
 
© Amy Briant 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Thang!

Today's artifact from HEAVENLY MOVES is a clearly genuine Wikipedia article about San Tomas, the novel's setting. Wonder if the graphic will post better here than it did on Facebook...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Mona

Today we meet another important character from HEAVENLY MOVES:  Mona M. Murdock! She's been best friends with Hev since the Murdocks moved next door to the Wilcoxes when both girls were seven. Mona is an aspiring rock star with her band, Bertha's Attic. She's a college drop out who lives with her younger sister Margo in their apartment by the Bowl-O-Rama. Mona is fiery, intense, focused, talented - but not so much on the tall.

"She was just as pale-skinned as Margo, and with the same piercing blue eyes, but with dark brown hair instead of red. She hated being called 'petite' and 'elfin,' but the girl was just small. People always expected Mona to be demure, like it was a rule that short people were more polite. Mona was definitely not polite or demure. Try rude, brash, extroverted, usually loud and always opinionated. Mona's world was black and white and she had no patience for anyone dumb enough to think there might be a gray area."

If Mona had a coat of arms, it might look something like this:
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
© Amy Briant 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekend Sampler

So, the novel is set in 1982 in the Northern California beach/college/tourist town of San Tomas.  The college is UC San Tomas.  It's in the background (all the best characters are dropouts :-)), but here's a brief excerpt regarding the college radio station:

"Somebody had set up a stereo and the college radio station was playing at medium volume. Jimmy Cliff was jamming. The school tried to promote the station as K-UCST, but of course, the call letters were limited to KUCS. Thus, the dorms and many a bumper were littered with butchered stickers extolling the virtues of SUCK."
 
 

© Amy Briant 2013



 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Thang!

Today's artifact from HEAVENLY MOVES comes from the 4th of July party in 1982 San Tomas (the setting of the novel), featuring a snack from the festivities - fortune cookies!  Hmmm, some of those fortunes sound a little dire...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Hev

I now proclaimeth Tuesday to be Tuesday Who Day! Yes, the whirling dynamo of a juggernaut that is my self-promotion will not permit me to take Tuesday off.  Wednesday's another matter.

We start (¡por supuesto!) with the protagonist of HEAVENLY MOVES, the one-and-only Heavenly Wilcox.  Well, I thought she was the one-and-only until I found out there were already 8 Heavenly Wilcoxes on Facebook.  (seriously, parents of America, what is your freaking problem?)

My Heavenly - "Hev" to her friends - is a 22 year old college dropout, living in the Northern California beach town of San Tomas.  Which bears a striking resemblance to Santa Cruz, except, so far, without the roller coaster, which I can hardly believe.  (!)  Hev is often asked to explain her celestial nomenclature:  "...yes, my parents were flower children. Don't even ask what my brother J. D.'s initials stand for. It could have been worse, I guess—Heavenly isn't near as bad as Moon Flower or something. We actually started life as Jennifer and Carl, but somewhere in the sixties, Mom and Dad had our names legally changed in an outburst of peace, love and understanding. Oddly enough, they kept their own."

Don't ask me what J. D.'s initials stand for, either - truly, I don't know.

Hev is super stoked to have moved into her first solo apartment, just two blocks from the beach.  Woo hoo!  (I magically transported an L. A. beach apartment I once was fortunate to have to San Tomas for her)  Hev works as a temp at the county public defender's office doing clerical duties.  (also straight from my bio)  Just to prove I actually can write something fictional, Hev hails from a small town outside Sacramento, CA.  (ha! I have NEVER lived in Sacramento!)

Hev hangs out with the fabulous Murdock sisters, Mona and Margo. The three of them grew up together in that small town and all moved to San Tomas to attend the university there. Mona is short, dark-haired and an aspiring rock star. Margo is tall, red-haired and a hottie.  Hev often thinks about how she compares to them:  "Between these two opposites, I was normal, average and boring. Five foot seven, one hundred twenty five pounds, average build, medium length light brown hair. Not that I was gross or anything, but I didn't have Margo's bone structure or Mona's attitude. I guess my green eyes weren't so average, but who cared. Of the three of us, I was usually noticed last, if at all."

Self esteem much, Hev?  Sigh.  She does have a cool car, though - a primer gray '73 Camaro.  Plus the ability to type seventy-two words per minute, most of them in English.

That's Hev! Whose world is about to get turned upside down in HEAVENLY MOVES.


© Amy Briant 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Next Big Thing - Blog Hop

Phonetically, "blog hop!" sounds like it might be something rude in an Eastern European language, but it's more like a game of tag. A blogger blogs about a certain topic (in this case, 10 questions about your book), then tags another blogger. She posts on that topic and tags somebody else. My thanks to ML Skinner for tagging me on this blog hop!  Check out her blog at www.mlskinner.com/blog4.

I think I was the last one out there to get tagged. So I have no one to tag.  Guten tag!

Let the bloggy hoppin' begin:

1)  What is the working title of your book?
HEAVENLY MOVES is the title.  The working title for a long time was THE LUCKY STIFF, but that changed.  (hey, funny story)

2)  Where did the idea come from for the book?
It all started when I moved into a funky apartment by the beach and kept getting mail for the previous tenant... really cool mail... way better than my own mail, to be honest.  (read all about it http://amybriant.blogspot.com/2011/01/truth-is-out-there.html)

3)  What genre does your book fall under?
1980s rock'n'roll lesbo murder mystery in a Northern California beach town.  With a Rottweiler.  Yeah.  That genre.

4)  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm not sure who would play Hev (short for Heavenly), my protagonist, but Melissa Benoist, who plays Marley on Glee, is PERFECT for Jules, the girl next door!!!
 5)  What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?
In the summer of 1982, Heavenly Wilcox moves into a bitchen beach apartment - only to find herself at the center of a dangerous and tangled web of murder, missing persons, rock 'n' roll and sex with all the wrong people.

(They meant run-on sentence, right?)

6)  What is the longer synopsis for your book?
It's the summer of 1982. College dropout Heavenly Wilcox is thrilled with her new apartment in the Northern California beach town of San Tomas--even with the trombone-playing lesbian downstairs and the surly ex-cop next door. Heavenly (“Hev” to her friends) has a good job at the county Public Defender's office, a best friend in aspiring rock star Mona Murdock, and maybe even a new boyfriend on the horizon, one whose ambitions are exceeded only by his tattoos. So why does she keep thinking about that girl downstairs?

Also fascinating to Hev is the intriguing mail that continues to be delivered for the previous tenant of her new apartment, a man who mysteriously disappeared a few months back. A few harmless questions and one clearly inappropriate use of the county's computer system later, she finds herself at the center of a dangerous and tangled web of murder, missing persons, rock 'n' roll and sex with all the wrong people.

With each new twist and turn, Hev finds it hard to say who's the villain and who's the victim. And it's even harder for her to admit that she is not who she thought she was. The only thing she knows for sure is:  if she can't figure out what's going on, the next victim might just be her!

7)  Will your book be self-published, or represented by an agency?
Neither!  HEAVENLY MOVES will be my third novel published by Bella Books.  Go, Bella!

8)  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Although this is my third novel to be published, it's actually the first novel I ever tried to write. So, while the other two took one-ish to two-ish years to write apiece, I started HEAVENLY MOVES in the early 1990s, got stuck in a major way, took a loooooooong break, picked it back up in late 2008 after finishing SHADOW POINT and finally finished the first draft in July 2009. And then lived in a tent in the woods for a month. But that's another story. So, how long did it take me to write the first draft of HEAVENLY MOVES?  Many, many years.  Finishing that manuscript is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  Don't give up, Aspiring Authors out there!  Perseverance is all.

9)  Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Me - 90% of this book is autobiographical. I'm happy to say murder and (most of the) mayhem fell into the other 10% category.

10)  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Music is very important to me and it saturates this novel. I believe this book is very funny.  I believe it is a thriller.  But it is also a coming out story and an opportunity to reflect on matters such as identity, integrity and that thing each of has hidden deep in the most secret corner of our hearts.

And that's it! I thought about adding a 1980s-themed 11th question, but decided to just stash it in the labels.  If you like what you read above, get ready for HEAVENLY MOVES - coming April 2013 from bellabooks.com, Amazon and other fine retailers.

thursday thang

[Sometimes, even on a Monday, it's a thursday thang]  [especially when blogger is giving you *&^%$#@! when you're simply trying to upload a photo!]

I'm excited to share some glimpses into the world of HEAVENLY MOVES over the next few months. My new novel is all about rock'n'roll, murder, mystery, lesbians, the 80s... let's start with rock'n'roll! I'll post some kind of artifact from the story each Thursday. (real? historical? from the alternate reality of San Tomas, the setting of the novel? a clue to the mystery??? hmmm...)

Here goes!  In the book, the protagonist's best friend has a band called Bertha's Attic (Jane Eyre joke, anyone? :-)) and this was their first self-produced single:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend Sampler

Each weekend between now and when HEAVENLY MOVES is released in April, I hope to give you a little sample of its wondrousness.  (she said modestly)  Rock'n'roll looms large in this novel - specifically, 1980s' rock'n'roll.  Now, for some nefarious reason I can't figure out, the 80s are dismissed and ridiculed. People always brings up Debbie Gibson, Spandau Ballet, Flock of Seagulls...

Well, dude, I Was There!  That stuff was the exception, not the rule. My 80s were filled with great tuneage like Missing Persons, The English Beat, The Cars, Joe Jackson, Prince, Talking Heads... and that's not even talking about the women rockers of the 80s!

All kinds of marvelous music are found in the pages of HEAVENLY MOVES, but for this blog post, I wanted to highlight some of the great female musicians that are playing in the background as my characters go about their business.

First and foremost, Bonnie Hayes!  The book is set in a Northern California beach town south of San Francisco. Bonnie Hayes & The Wild Combo was one of the most popular local acts in those days.  Still one of my favorites - you rock, Bonnie Hayes. Whether you know her or not, you probably know her songs, as Bonnie Raitt and Bette Midler have recorded her stuff.

Other female rockers mentioned in the book include The Go-Go's (of course! it's the 80s!), Rickie Lee Jones (I ditched work, froze my butt in line for HOURS for tickets to one of her shows in San Francisco, almost got beat up and ripped my pants - ah, what a magical night!), Stevie Nicks (specifically the "Leather and Lace" duet from Belladonna with Don Henley) and last, but most certainly not least, the awesome Martha Davis of The Motels.

I hope you sense my passion for this topic!  It was great fun infusing HEAVENLY MOVES with all these songs.  Kept me on my toes, too, research-wise, as I had to make sure the album wasn't released after June 1982 when the novel takes place.  Movies have soundtracks, but novels do, too, don't you think?  If you're familiar with these tunes, you'll be rocking right along with the characters in the book.

As the first line of the book says, "I remember the summer of 1982."  Whether you do or don't, please know that the music of the 80s was killer, dudes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Book!

New year, new novel!  Lots more blogginess on the way in the next three and a half months about my new mystery, HEAVENLY MOVES, coming in April 2013 from Bella Books.

It's about a girl.

Named Heavenly.

Who moves.

AND murder, missing persons, rock'n'roll, a Rottweiler, the '80s and the trombone-playing lesbian downstairs.