E-book at Amazon: The Angry Woman Suite

Hello, and finally! To all who’ve been following this blog—first, thank you!—and to friends and family who’ve asked, here it is, the first announcement:

The e-version of the novel, The Angry Woman Suite (about greed, murder, love gone bad, and imbalance in every single neurotic form there is—and who doesn’t love somebody else’s problems?) IS finally out as an e-book, yahoo! No, double yahoo!

The Angry Woman Suite e-book is now available from Amazon (and soon to be available for the Nook and ipad, too).

Here’s the link to my Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/leefullbright

If you’re partial to print books (who doesn’t love print?), the print version of The Angry Woman Suite (the novel is also about redemption and love gone good—in fact, very good love, and who doesn’t love good love?—and check out the super Kirkus review link over in the right column on this page) will be in the Ingram distribution channel in about a week, and available via both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites shortly thereafter—I’ll shout “when” as soon as I hear.  

And then I will be eternally grateful to each of you (forever) who posts a review or comment to my Amazon listing, and to Goodreads if you’re signed up with them, and to my Facebook page for The Angry Woman Suite, which is www.facebook.com/fullbrightlee

I know it’s a lot, but reviews and comments (especially at Amazon, leader of the free world) are what can set The Angry Woman Suite apart from the—yikes!—1,800,000+++ other books listed at Amazon! It’s truly going to be an uphill battle (and writers never use clichés?). Simply put, I need Y-O-U. 

I’ve just seen the completed back cover text for the print version of The Angry Woman Suite and it goes something like this . . . actually, it goes exactly like this:

A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy’s sometimes excruciating embrace.—Kirkus Reviews 

When overbearing former big band star Francis Grayson mentions the “murdering bitches” who supposedly ruined his life, his resentful stepdaughter Elyse—always on the lookout for simple dirt on Francis—takes note. Intertwining narrative with Francis, Elyse stumbles across glimmers of big murder instead of simple dirt, while Francis moves perspective of his “bitches” back to the 1930s, to his childhood in Pennsylvania. His coming-of-age story centers on a mysterious painting and search for the artist who he believes can fix his feuding family. Aiding him in his quest is his mother’s lover, Aidan Madsen, who not only mentors Francis’ music career, but knows everything about two murders implicating the women in Francis’ family. The three narrators of The Angry Woman Suite—Elyse, Francis, and Aidan—weave together a picture of two disturbed families who meet their match in the young, determined to survive Elyse Grayson, and the human to a fault hero, Aidan Madsen.

 

    Thanks for stopping by!

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New Release Critics’ Pick: The Angry Woman Suite

Hi all, First off, a big SORRY to my poor dear friends reading this and already so over hearing the following, BUT—    

Just. One. More. Time. (promise) . . . so here goes:

My soon-to-be available novel, The Angry Woman Suite, about a Pennsylvania murder and its effects on two subsequent generations, was named a “New Release Critics’ Pick” by Kirkus Reviews last week (google Kirkus online newsletter of 1/4/12).

I did have champagne for dinner that night . . . and that’s all, just champagne.  

Second, while I’m so obviously aboard the “all about me” train tonight, I’d like to talk more about The Angry Woman Suite, starting with the lovely cover design by artist Laurie Fuller, which several people have asked about, as in who is this beautiful woman?

Still others have asked if The Angry Woman Suite is biographical or partly autobiographical (no, it’s not; it’s fiction, although it incorporates many historical elements); and others have asked about the title, if it means what it sounds like; i.e., a bunch of pissed women off their meds.    

The novel’s title refers to a famous suite of (ten) portraits that figure predominantly in the novel’s plot. This collection of paintings is called The Angry Woman Suite.  

The woman on The Angry Woman Suite cover is Magdalene Grayson, the model for this suite of portraits.    

The novel—mystery and love story and coming-of-age (three intersecting stories)—is told by three narrators in different time zones (between the early 1900s and 1968), in Pennsylvania.

Magdalene Grayson is not a narrator, but she is pivotal to the lives of all three narrators.

She is the love interest of one narrator, Aidan, and the mother of a second (more about him later). The third (and lead) narrator is her step-granddaughter, Elyse, who is the glue of the novel (and we know everything about Elyse, every thought in her head, from page one, on). But Magdalene remains a bit elusive, which is why I chose not to make her a narrator: I wanted her elusive. She is a beautiful cipher wrapped up in a riddle—and I think the book’s cover art captures her mystery.

So moving forward with what I love best about writing fiction, creating characters, two excerpts from The Angry Woman Suite follow. Both concern Magdalene Grayson from Aidan’s point of view. But the second excerpt, which shows Aidan’s new, wavering perception of Magdalene, reveals as much about Aidan as it does Magdalene.     

We meet Magdalene briefly when she is in her early thirties—but then, moving back in time, we get another, different picture of her through Aidan’s eyes, when she is sixteen—and it is not love between them. It is not even like.

What it is, is disdain on both sides.   

Because Magdalene is one of those people born observant and curious, and so she questions everything. She will listen, but all the while she’s likely to be thinking, “I wonder when the bullshit ends and your real story begins?” The much older Aidan finds this threatening to his walled-off existence.

This is what Aidan says about Magdalene when she is sixteen, in 1916:

“And from the back of Magdalene, I could tell nothing. I saw only a fall of long blond hair, the way she straightened her broad shoulders, and the dirt on her skirt where she’d been sitting . . . when she turned back around, her pale eyes were anguished. Other than that, she looked fine, same as always: large and awkward for a sixteen-year-old. What I didn’t see was that Magdalene Grayson’s bigness was smooth and symmetrical, even classical. I didn’t see it because, primarily, Magdalene did not impress me, never had. And I had my reasons (and it’s a long list). Let me condense it for you: Magdalene was difficult. She was damn difficult. Even as a first-grader she’d been difficult, restless and moody, regularly declining participation in the schoolyard, not wanting to be in my band, looking at me with disdain, as if she knew more than I.”

But a year later, on the eve of America’s entry into WWI, at Magdalene’s wedding reception—and Aidan has not seen Magdalene during this year—this is what he has to say about the woman destined for imminent widowhood, who will subsequently and unintentionally start a war on their own rural home front while having to choose between two men, and shield her disfigured sister from murder charges. . . .

Again, this is a year later, at Magdalene’s wedding reception through Aidan’s eyes:

“. . . But then, when they were almost on us, Magdalene turned her head. Our eyes locked, as did the breath in my chest.

            “I’ll close my mouth,” Jamie whispered in my ear, “if you close yours.”

            Her beauty was more spectacular than even Lothian’s. Whereas Lothian’s face was soft and oval-shaped, Magdalene’s had become chiseled angularity, fine and even—yet she wasn’t just beautiful. She had mystique, something rarely seen; it was something in her eyes. Tendrils of pale hair escaped the white snood she wore, making a halo around her damp forehead and flushed cheeks, and I sensed rather than heard Matthew’s own soft exclamation when she laughingly brushed Frederick’s cheek with her lips, lips that were wide and red and ripe, parted slightly, teasing, yet weirdly circumspect . . . 

            She was real, the dream existed, and of course she was not a good woman, this lovely dream of mine. How could she be? She’d been a challenging child to put it mildly, so she couldn’t be long-suffering like my mother, or generous like Sahar. No, Magdalene Grayson was interesting. She was inquisitive, fractious, self-absorbed and judgmental. And to top it off she was totally out of reach, and the absolute worst thing in the world for me.

            Of course I wanted her.

            Exhilarated, I looked closer and saw those pale eyes weren’t actually unkind; how could I have ever thought that? It was question I now saw in those eyes, and suddenly I also saw the rub . . .”

 Okay, so what’s the rub? Well, The Angry Woman Suite will be available at the end of February, so stay tuned.

 Not nice, huh? *smile*

However, what the rub is not, in this story, is truth. And the truth is that sometimes when we fall in like/love/lust—as Aidan’s apparently beginning to do—we are compelled to square that decision with a previous assessment. I mean, who’s going to say to him or herself, “I’m attracted to so-and-so because no one sets buildings on fire the way s/he does?”   

No sane person. So the first assessment has to be modified. Also, this last bit of narrative suggests our walled-off Aidan possesses at least a modicum of vulnerability.     

Thanks for coming by, and more on The Angry Woman Suite characters later—and, oh, my “metaphor,” the wooden ship! More on it, too. I’ll walk down to the bay and get new photos (see my post of 1/4/12), and be back with you in a week or so.  

A Million Good Words

Finishing my novel, The Angry Woman Suite, was bittersweet (the sweetness was crossing a finish line—and the bitter was actually about finishing too, as in now what?), but solidifying an agreement with a literary agent was a total woo-hoo. Big-time woo-hoo. Huge. I’d made it. Parteeee. . . .

But—and there’re a hundred but’s in any story—subsequently learning my agent was about to change career paths entirely, just as we were revving our engines and doing well, was the anti woo-hoo.

A big timewaste hiccup on the road to traditional publication. It was back to now what?

Dang. See, I really like The Angry Woman Suite. And not just because I wrote it. I’ve written plenty of crap, so trust me: I recognize crap.

A million good words . . .

If losing an agent is the anti woo-hoo, The Angry Woman Suite is the anti-crap (now that sounds a little Eddie Haskell-ish, ugh)—but (I know, another but) as a story about family and misplaced trust, and losing and winning freedom, The Angry Woman Suite has my heart because it’s the kind of meaty novel I’m always looking to read, like The Great Santini, A Prayer for Owen Meany, or A Thousand Acres—my favorites. Plus it got a million good words from Kirkus Reviews (and they’re tough), who deemed it “exemplary” and “a superb debut.”

It’s a story that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s, in Pennsylvania, and I want it out there—but not just because it’s mine. You know how it is when you meet a new person, and this new person is so interesting you can’t wait to introduce him or her to your inner circle?

It’s like that.

I love this novel’s characters—I love the young Elyse Grayson. She is strong and complex, but resentful (she has good reason, but anger could be her undoing). Her inner journey has been shaped by three men: a wise immigrant grandfather; a troubled stepfather, Francis—and, yes, I love Francis, too. Even when I wanted to bean him, I loved him, because there’s a reason Francis can be so dang weird. And the third is commitment-phobe Aidan Madsen, who knows everybody’s secrets, including the ones about murder.        

They’re all interesting people. So I want to share them. I want to talk about them.

I thought about Query Hell; of again shopping myself and The Angry Woman Suite to agents —oh, don’t make me, my inner put-upon self wailed. Ever see a movie about dancers/singers/actors hitting the pavement (who hasn’t?), going to audition after audition, putting it out there, and often “it” is very good, only to be told, “We’ll let you know”—though maybe no one even made eye contact, and maybe everyone talked during the audition, or worse (I imagine), took phone calls? Oooh, ouch.

It’s not the same in the book world, but it feels like it.     

Writers don’t have to get up on a stage and sing and dance—yet. But debut novelists do face daunting hurdles. Plus, as everyone knows, the publishing industry has changed. Like the weakening of our once healthy newspaper industry, the weakening of traditional book publishing didn’t happen overnight either (and for those who already know where I’m heading with this: Yes, Amazon is actually the leader of the free world). *smile*

I know what I don’t want to know. . . .    

When I was writing The Angry Woman Suite, I didn’t want to know about changes in book publishing, not really. I just wanted to write. So that’s what I did: I wrote and revised for eight years. And when I finished The Angry Woman Suite, a whole different pulled-together world of publishing was looking at me—and I turned away from it. The indie publishing world wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted my original goal: traditional publishing.

I wanted the stamp of approval that going “trad” meant to me. I wanted to be wanted, accepted, and told my work is good. Who doesn’t?

So, when my agent left the business, I dinked around wondering which direction to go next—the old way (wasted time) versus a new way (but I’d no clue where the road to a new way actually started, let alone how to navigate it if I found it).

Then something happened. A friend—probably sick of my whining—recommended I have lunch with a writer he knew, and even set up the blind lunch date for us.  

I’ll call this writer Josh—

Josh is a can’t-sit-still, potty-mouthed traditionally published (and successful) non-fiction writer. 

Over Mexican, Josh told me point blank that the publishing industry’s glory days had ended. As in ENDED.

“You know it’s true,” he said, wiggling all over the place. “You can believe what you want to believe, but fact is that agents—like yours did—are looking for greener pastures. Oh, there’re still those banging the drum of trad is the right way, the only way, and that if you don’t do the so-called right, the only, your finished product will reflect badly and you’ll end up in some ditch with a big ol’ stupid loser tattooed on your forehead. No—wait, make that f’ing stupid loser. But, look, there are always diehards in anything—like what happened in the music industry when that whole world shifted—diehards right and left there too, even after all was said and done.”

Established authors, Josh reminded me, have stuck their feet in indie waters as well. Stephen King’s done it; also Steig Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and Michael Connelly.

And everybody knows what indie writer Amanda Hocking did, and then indie author John Locke, selling one million books through Kindle, Amazon’s ebook distributor.

Can every author do that? Whoa—can everybody do everything?

Uh, I don’t think so. The point is, the Internet and the indie mega sellers made the trads sit up and take a look back at their rear flanks, at the indies closing in.    

“And why wouldn’t authors want to call their own shots?” Josh went on. “I’d do indie, except I write for a company that’s not interested in rocking our publisher. See, going indie, authors get the lion’s share, instead of the smallest share of profit, for their work—makes sense.”    

I hadn’t said a word, my mind’s eye too busy watching a lifelong dream flushing itself down the john.

“So,” Josh summed it up, making it sound easy-peasy, “you need to be part of the indie world, Lee—it’s now, and it’s the future. And then you promote your book via social media—start a blog, for one.”

Really, do I hafta?

That lunch was probably the time to tell Josh he was scaring the shit out of me, and that one of my most humiliating childhood memories was of being afraid to sell Girl Scout cookies—too agonizingly shy. So how’s a shy kid supposed to promote anything when it just feels so ick?

Oh, grow up.

But I wanted to go home and pull the covers over my head and commence bemoaning the apparent fact I’d been born in changing times (as if there’s ever been anything else).  

Besides, I’d no idea how to go indie—is it like going native?   

And then I remembered Kirkus Reviews.

“Okay,” I said to Josh, feeling my way through my brain clutter—actually, what I was about to say, “I hear you, and here’s what I’m thinking,” was a stalling tactic.

I’d read that Kirkus Reviews—the premier book critiquing company since the 1930’s—was now making reviews available to indie authors (I’ve recently read that Publishers Weekly also is, or will shortly).

“I’m going to Kirkus,” I told Josh. “I’m going to send The Angry Woman Suite to them. And if there’s even just one teensy positive word in their review, just anything at all, something I can use on a cover, I’ll consider it a sign. . . . ”

To be continued . . .

Okay, this is getting way too long, and it’s late, so I’ll wrap things for now—but please stay tuned. I have so much I want to say about this journey I’m embarking on (as in, help!), but I’m just getting started (and the story’s going to take longer than one post anyway). More than that, I really, really want company on this trip.

Next post I’ll tell you about the surprise, and building the blog, and the search for the best “author service” company out there—but in the meantime I’d love any feedback—thank you!  

I post on Mondays and Thursdays or thereabouts; and sometimes more, but sometimes less.

The Angry Woman Suite Kirkus Review

 

Fullbright, Lee

Kirkus Review September, 2011

THE ANGRY WOMAN SUITE

Secrets and lies suffuse generations of one Pennsylvania family, creating a vicious cycle of cruelty in this historical novel that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s.

Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all. There’s his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian. For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. He finds a friend and mentor in Aidan Madsen, schoolmaster, local Revolutionary War historian, musician and keeper of the Grayson women’s darkest secrets. In a skillful move by Fullbright, those secrets are revealed through the viewpoints of three different people—Aidan, Francis and Francis’ stepdaughter, Elyse—adding layers of eloquent complexity to a story as powerful as it is troubling. While Francis realizes his dream of forming his own big band in the 1940s, his success is tempered by the inner monster of his childhood, one that roars to life when he marries Elyse’s mother. Elyse becomes her stepfather’s favorite target, and her bitterness becomes entwined with a desire to know the real Francis Grayson. For Aidan’s part, his involvement with the Grayson family only deepens, and secrets carried for a lifetime begin to coalesce as he seeks to enlighten Francis—and subsequently Elyse—of why the events of so many years ago matter now. The ugliness of deceit, betrayal and resentment permeates the narrative, yet there are shining moments of hope, especially in the relationship between Elyse and her grandfather. Ultimately, as more of the past filters into the present, the question becomes: What is the truth, and whose version of the truth is correct? Fullbright never untangles this conundrum, and it only adds to the richness of this exemplary novel.

 A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy’s sometimes excruciating embrace.

Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744