Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Thang!

It's hard to keep track of what's fact and what's fiction in HEAVENLY MOVES as the novel is soooooo autobiographical.  (TIP:  I added the good stuff to make it not boring!)

FACT:  In real life, I once worked across the street from the biggest nightclub in Santa Cruz at a pizza place.  Their pizza was Very Good!  [I know.  I ate it almost every day.]  [damn you gluten]

FICTION:  In San Tomas, there's a pizza place across the street from the biggest nightclub in town - the Mongol I mean Moonglow. Thursdays are Dollar Nights at the Moonglow - a dollar to get in, dollar beers and 3 bands!  Such a deal.  And across the street is Rocco's Pizza - THE WORST imaginary PIZZA EVER!

See? It's hard to keep the fiction straight from the fact when even the fiction comes with a coupon.  Ah, well - meet me at Ed's Cafe!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teresday Where Day: San Tomas/Santa Cruz

HEAVENLY MOVES is set in a Northern California town called San Tomas. San Tomas is a fictional version of the real Santa Cruz, CA. Well, actually it's a mishmash of at least 3 different places I've lived, but it's mostly Santa Cruz.
Like Santa Cruz, San Tomas is home to a University of California campus, banana slugs, beautiful redwood forests in the mountains, beautiful beaches on Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean and a (mostly) far-left-leaning populace. Santa Cruz is a crazy and beautiful place as well as a popular tourist destination, famed for (among other things) the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
I highly recommend a visit and, hey, I know just where you can stay!  My former apartment (where the Fabulous Murdock Sisters live in HEAVENLY MOVES) is right across the street (Beach St.!) from the Boardwalk. Unfortunately for the Murdocks, that's only true in the real-life Santa Cruz. In San Tomas, they're not by the beach. But still by the bowling alley!
Anyhoo, that apartment (in real life) is now a vacation rental. Check out this pic:

Now I know this looks totally fake and too good to be true - BUT IT IS 100% REAL!  Promise!  I was just there not too long ago.  They've spruced the place up a lot since I lived there (A. LOT.), but the location was and is the best. That pier out the front window can also be seen from this Boardwalk roller coaster shot:

Next time I'm there, maybe I'll stock the old place with copies of HEAVENLY MOVES.  (let's see, one for the living room, each bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen cabinets, the stairwell...)


Monday, February 25, 2013

So You Say Your Writing's Hit A Brick Wall...

Fortunately, I do most of my writing at night so I don't have to look at the brick building RIGHT across the street. Or the people in it looking back at me.  (insert perhaps my favorite quote from "The Sixth Sense" here:  "STOP LOOKING AT ME!!!")
it's a teeny netbook - you are not a giant
A lovely view is not essential for writing, but it sure would be nice. I used to have this view:
The best Artist's View I've ever seen was the view from my high school piano teacher's piano bench in front of her Mason-Hamlin concert grand.  (now THAT was a piano!) Her house was on a hilly lot, so from her picture window, one could look down and see the gorgeous flower garden on the lower level of her sloping backyard. Very beautiful.  (even by San Diego standards!)

I recently saw a photo of another author's writing space - a screen(ed) porch looking out on a foresty view.  (sorry, can't remember whose view this was)  That would be pretty perfect. Outside-ish, but not with the wind blowing papers everywhere and bugs of every description feasting on my pale flesh.

I love Nature, but why is she always biting me?!

Don't answer that.

All right. Back to the brick wall.

stop looking at me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Bertha's Attic

Yahoo, let's meet the band! To recap:  the protagonist of HEAVENLY MOVES is Heavenly "Hev" Wilcox. Her best friend, Mona, is an aspiring rock star. Mona's band is called Bertha's Attic.
logo created by an internationally famous napkin designer (obvs)
The band's name is a Jane Eyre reference from Mona, the English major dropout - remember Mr. Rochester's crazy wife Bertha who lived in the attic? [or at least upstairs] Mona is the unquestioned (not to mention tyrannical) leader of her band - she writes the songs, sings lead and plays bass. The other members of Bertha's Attic are:

Petey Houlihan, guitar
", freckle-faced and looked like he was about sixteen. At age nineteen, he considered this a serious defect. He had recently dyed his hair jet black after cutting it very short except for one lock falling over his right eye. Which looked ridiculous, but Petey was such a nice boy that nobody wanted to hurt his feelings. He had told us all to call him Peter, not Petey, but who could look at that face and not say Petey?"

Handsome Pete, drums
"...tall and handsome, with hazel eyes, cropped brown hair and a fledgling moustache.... Gorgeous older women (like twenty-four) would show up at gigs from time to time and carry cymbals until they broke a fingernail."

LeClaire, keyboards
"She described her heritage as half Jamaican, half French and half Irish. That was about as much sense as I ever got out of the girl... Her appearance was striking...the audience could see her behind her keyboards with her mirrored sunglasses and beaded braids a-swinging."

And that's Bertha's Attic - coming soon to a Dollar Night near you! Don't forget your ID.

© Amy Briant 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Sampler

Here's a deleted scene (and true story) from HEAVENLY MOVES. Hev works at the county public defender's office. In this scene, she hones her customer service skills:
            "I'd had a few run-ins with other "clients" (as the attorneys called them) before I'd perfected my unflappable work poker face and steely composure. One small scrawny woman in her thirties had insisted she had to see a lawyer immediately, but I knew that office protocol demanded she and the rest of the customers be seen in the order in which they'd signed in. Her agitation escalated to rage, with plenty of shrieking and cussing. For a second, I thought she might come over the counter at me. And it was just a waist-high wooden counter--no bulletproof glass extending to the ceiling. There was nothing but air between me and the criminal element. Luckily (really luckily, as it turned out), when I raised my voice for the first and last time on that job and told her in no uncertain terms she needed to Sit Down And Wait Her Turn, she suddenly and inexplicably caved and meekly complied. Who knows why... When I covertly checked her paperwork later, I saw that she was out on bail for allegedly murdering her common law husband in his sleep. With a claw hammer.
            Ye Gods. And I'd told her (more or less) to shut up and sit down. I never again lost my temper with a client. And I made sure the counter top was always free of sharp objects. Blunt ones too.
            Good times at the Public Defender."
© Amy Briant 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Identifying That Rare Breed, The Published Author, In Her Native Habitat

Dear Reader,

If you, like me, still visit actual bookstores from time to time, keep an eyeball out for another customer who cannot wipe a goofy grin off her face. You may have just spotted an Author who has seen her own book on the shelf:
A Barnes & Noble in a dreary East Coast city last weekend
DO NOT APPROACH THE AUTHOR!!! Although docile in appearance, she may be about to move from the blissful state of LOOK THERE'S THE BOOK I WROTE ON AN ACTUAL SHELF IN AN ACTUAL BOOKSTORE to the more dangerous mindset of *&^%$#@! THAT MEANS MY BOOK IS SITTING ON THE SHELF BECAUSE NO ONE HAS BOUGHT IT.

Also, please do not feed the Author. She could stand to lose a few.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday Thang!

Today's romance-related excerpt from HEAVENLY MOVES is set at the Mongol I mean Moonglow nightclub where all of Hev's friends are off dancing, leaving her to dutifully protect their table and pitchers of beer:

 "A really gross-looking guy popped into my field of vision and asked me to dance. I gave him a small smile, but shook my head no. The song was obviously almost over anyhow, plus I couldn't leave the table, plus he was really gross. Poor thing. On the other hand, everywhere I went, I saw really gross-looking people in couples, so maybe I should spend my sympathy on someone more deserving. Like me."

© Amy Briant 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Sit, Chopper!

After I (FINALLY!) finished writing HEAVENLY MOVES, there was one character in particular I really missed. (Yes, I miss imaginary beings. I hope this is not going to be an issue for you.) I'm so excited to introduce you two today. Last week we met Hev's new next door neighbor, the surly ex-cop Werner. Today, we meet Werner's dog - a Rottweiler named Chopper. (yep, 3 books, 3 dogs)

Chopper is a 120 pound goofball of love who seriously needs a bath, but never gets one in HEAVENLY MOVES.  Maybe in the sequel... CHOPPER BATHES... (that was a joke) Anyhow, Mr. Chopper is A Good Dog. He enjoys long walks on the beach, marking his territory and licking things.

"The beach was sparsely populated, so I let Chopper go. He dashed off in pursuit of some seagulls, and to sniff all of the flotsam and most of the jetsam within a hundred yard radius, but trotted back periodically to check in... A stray mutt wandered by and Chopper romped with the pooch good-naturedly, playing the submissive even though he must have had seventy pounds or more on the other dog, which looked to be a mix of Dalmatian, wire-haired dachshund and weasel."

© Amy Briant 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Sampler

Let's sample the who, what, when, where and why of HEAVENLY MOVES...

The WHOs are captured in my Tuesday Who Day posts.

The WHAT, I guess, is the novel itself - coming in April 2013!  Pretty darn soon!

The WHEN is 1982. HEAVENLY MOVES takes place in the summer of that year.

Here's what I looked like in 1982:

The blue pineapples!  The natural hair color!  The unpierced ear lobes!  The alcoholic beverage visible in the lower left corner!  don't hate me because i'm beautiful

Now I'll have to see a picture of what you looked like in 1982 before I allow you to judge me.

Yeah.  That's what I thought.

The WHERE of the book is San Tomas (hint: just south of San Francisco):

That leaves just the WHY.  This was my first novel, although the second to be finished and the third to be published.  I suspect many first novels, especially those that are highly autobiographical, MUST be written lest they burst out the author's chest like in Alien. 
(or Spaceballs)

That's the WHY of this one.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday Thang!

My forthcoming novel is set in the fictional Northern California beach town of San Tomas.  Which bears a striking resemblance to Santa Cruz, CA - a unique and special place! One of Santa Cruz's most noteworthy residents is the beautiful (and... delicious?) banana slug.
This is a real Thang, I swear!  These brightly colored, slimy little dudes (not so little, actually) can be found in the redwood forests and sidewalks of both Santa Cruz and San Tomas, although no mention was made of them in HEAVENLY MOVES.  (a shocking omission!)

They are mentioned in my current work in progress, my YA post-apocalyptic story about some teenagers ALMOST hungry enough to eat a banana slug.  (if only they had vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce in the post-apocalypse!)  Someday, Dear Reader, there will be the San Tomas Chronicles - tales of that mythical region from the past (HEAVENLY MOVES) to the present (a not-yet-written mystery with the working title ABLE WAS I) to the future (THE BOOK OF KELL).

Until then, if you're feeling sluggish, go visit beautiful Santa Cruz (click on that link for a slideshow of gorgeous photos of SC highlights), where the mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz is (you guessed it):

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Who Day: Meet Werner

And then there's Mr. Werner - another character whose first name I do not know. (nor care to) In HEAVENLY MOVES, the aforementioned Heavenly has just moved into a new apartment by the beach. Werner, a former police officer, is one of her neighbors. He lives alone in the apartment next door. (except for a certain Rottweiler) If I had to describe Werner's disposition with a five-letter word starting with S and ending with Y, it would not be sunny.  Surly's more like it. Hev's first meeting with him is not particularly positive:  "...a mean-looking man in his fifties with a pot belly the size and shape of a bowling ball... His graying brown hair was slicked back with some form of petroleum product and his wardrobe seemed focused on polyester."
Personality and wardrobe fouls aside, Werner is an ex-cop who lived next door to the now mysteriously disappeared Jackson Miller. So he's got the skills, the contacts and at least some information... but will he be a help or a hindrance as Heavenly tries to solve the mystery? Find out in April when HEAVENLY MOVES debuts!

© Amy Briant 2013