Authors: Nicole Conn
Copyright © 2011 by Nicole Conn
Bella Books, Inc.
P.O. Box 10543
Tallahassee, FL 32302
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published 2011
Editor: Katherine V. Forrest
Cover Designer: Judy Fellows
ISBN 13: 978-1-59493-254-0
…my love, my life, my laughter…
Thank you to the following:
First and foremost to Katherine V. Forrest who is the kindest, and Most lovely editor I’ve ever worked with—who always Challenges me to be better, dear and wonderful friend.
And to my family who had to live with me while I was on deadline:
Daisha – fellow book lover & “processor”
Alex – fellow poet & romantic
Lauren – fellow writer & over-achiever
David (DVD!) - fellow-philisopher & playmate
Gabrielle – my fellow artist & BiBi BoBo
& “little man” Nicholas… my fellow cuddler
Nicole Conn has been a die-hard romantic and black and white film fan from the age of ten.
Her penchant for adult and dramatic story telling is evident in latest feature fililmm, Elena Undone touted as “sexy and smart and smoldering.” This classic romance with a twist, also hosts the Longest Kiss in Cinema History, a claim veteran lesbian writer Nicole Conn’s (Claire of the Moon, little man) is thrilled to be held by two women.
Conn’s previous venture, little man, is a documentary she wrote, directed and produced about her own premature son born 100 days early and only weighing one pound. The feature documentary went on to win 12 Best Documentary Awards, along with the prestigious Cedar Sinai’s Courageous Beginnings Award and Family Pride’s Family Tree Award. The film made three TOP TEN FILMS OF 2005 list and Showtime picked up the feature and ran an Emmy campaign on this hard-hitting story about Conn’s son’s premature birth and subsequent 5-month hospital stay in a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.
In efforts to continue her support of other parents who find themselves thrust into the insanity of the NICU, Ms Conn collaborated with Preemie Magazine Founder Deborah Discenza in creating the The Preemie Parent’s NICU Survival Guide: How to Maintain Your Sanity and Create a New Normal published in January, 2010.
Conn’s passion for film carried her through her first feature in which she raised the money, wrote, directed and produced Claire of the Moon, the maverick film about a woman’s journey to her sexual identity. The film garnered rave reviews and paved the way for lesbian themed cinema in 1991. Conn also created a FIRST for lesbian cinema: ancillary in the form of a novelization (in its 15th reprint and 10 Year Anniversary Republish) a making-of documentary MOMENTS (best-selling lesbian documentary ever made), soundtracks, posters, t-shirts, etc. She followed these projects with the award winning short film, Cynara...Poetry in Motion.
A two book deal with Simon Schuster produced the novels, Passion’s Shadow (1995) & Angel Wings (1997), a new age love story. The script adaptation for Angel Wings won the 2001 Telluride Film Festival’s Best Screenplay Award. In another pioneering effort, The Wedding Dress was chosen by AOL Time Warner for its new internet endeavor ipublish, which debuted in June 2001. She Walks in Beauty was published in September, 2001 and is currently in development as a feature film along with several other original screenplays Conn has penned.
Conn achieved industry recognition with her film Claire of the Moon and was a finalist in the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. She believes in giving back to the community and sponsored the Claire of the Moon Scholarship in 1998, awarding second time novelists through the ASTRAEA Foundation.
Well known for her speed, quality and prolific ability to write in many genres, Conn has written five novels, a parent’s guide, two teleplays, eleven screenplays, and has produced four soundtracks.
She is currently in pre-production on “A Perfect Ending,” her next feature which she wrote and will direct this film, based on a story idea from her life and film partner, Marina Rice Bader. Bader and Conn are partners of Soul Kiss Films (Empowering Women One Film at a Time). Conn resides with her life partner, Marina and their family of six (wonderful if precocious) children in Los Angeles.
Best Feature—“Elena Undone”—Audience Award, Reel Pride, Fresno
Best Feature—“Elena Undone” Tampa GLFF
Best Documentary Audience Award, Los Angeles Outfest— “little man”
Best Documentary Jury Award, New York NewFest—“little man”
Best Documentary Audience Award, San Diego Film Festival —“little man”
Best Documentary Jury Award, Chicago Indiefest—“little man”
Best Feature hbo Audience Award, Miami GLFF—“little man”
Best Documentary Jury Award, Philadelphia Int”l GLFF Film Festival—“little man”
Best of the Fest Award, Indianapolis G&L Film Festival —“little man”
Best Documentary—Jury Award Chicago Reeling Film Festival—“little man”
Best Documentary—Glitter Award – LA—“little man”
Best Documentary—Long Island G&L Film Festival— “little man”
Best Documentary—WA DC—Reel Affirmations—“little man”
Palme D’Or—Reel Pride—“little man”
Telluride Film Festival’s Best Screenplay Award—“Angel Wings”
Courageous Beginnings Award—Cedars Sinai, Los Angeles
Santa Barbara Social Justice Award Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
Elena—a Sunday in July…
Elena Winters sat in the stifling heat and wondered if this particular day could possess any less meaning for her than, say, the day before, the Sunday before this one, or any Sunday a month or even a year before now. She then had to force herself to stop retrieving all the other meaningless days she could summon up for comparison. What was the point of delineation without the distinction of preference? Or desire?
She shook her head.
It always takes you therw. kes youe and you cannot go there today…you have too much to do.
The heat was always oppressive this time of year, but even more so now because the aging church’s air-conditioning was on the blink yet again during LA’s third and most blistering heat wave of the summer. Instead of fixing the air conditioner Barry had spent the last of the month’s budget on new flyers, blazoning his picture all over the Holy Church of Light’s publications, flaunting his eager countenance in an endless supply of pamphlets that littered every nook and cranny of the church.
The church, from the outside, looked the part with its beautiful stonework, arches and meticulous landscaping. But it was the inside, once you got past the newly retouched stained glass windows, where the long years of wear showed the daily erosion in chipped pews, stained runners—and the back offices, well, they were a joke with peeling paint, broken floorboards and crammed with junk from the past several decades.
Elena was all too familiar with the manner in which the budget was spread; “Presentation is everything,” Millie would tsk, “we’re not going to sweat the small stuff, but we always want to give the impression that God has truly blessed us.” The air- conditioning had been a bone of contention. Elena and several of the congregants felt it was nonnegotiable, but Millie and Barry had decided otherwise. They had already fought about it twice, and she knew it was pointless to discuss it any further, so she fanned herself with one of his brand-new flyers, glancing over to see how her son Nash was handling this suffocating heat and was delighted to find that he had fallen asleep on his girlfriend’s shoulder. Tori nudged him, until she saw Elena shake her head and mouth,
Let him sleep
God knew she wished she could catch a nap as she vaguely listened to Barry’s rich baritone lull his adoring parishioners into a sustained state of worship. Elena would give him that: He did have a way with words. His cadence was flawless. Between his Georgian southern boy fire-and-brimstone upbringing, his Royal Academy training in London, his years of dogging the theater circuit in New York, his performances had become pitch perfect for the sinner, the ritualist, the fundraiser, and of course Millie, the grand doyenne of The Holy Church of Light, and their most zealously committed leader.
Before Elena’s mind could go into any further restricted territory, she quickly put together a grocery list for dinner. Now that Nash was one of the city league’s star soccer players she planned menus with a genteel balance of protein, carbs and vegetables. She enjoyed feeding her son, not only because his lean and lanky frame seemed to require nutrition every half hour, but because she took great pleasure in watching her fifteen- year- old wolf down every new recipe she could find. Even when she occasionally saw in his square jaw line and deep piercing blue eyes (clearly from Barry as hers were a dark charcoal brown) the signs of manhood, he was still her boy. Her darling sweet moppy-headed boy with his tousled blond locks (another sign of Barry) with curls that were all Elena—along with his heart, body and soul. Her son was the same fierce warrior in the face of the bland and the tepid, except Nash had found a way out, had found a way to save himself from the ordinary by falling in love with the extraordinary: Tori.
She forced her mind back to the menu, which was interrupted by the nagging reminder that the arrer thatchurch’s fundraiser was being held the following week. This meant she would have to gird herself for a slew of meetings with Millie Percival, the omnipresent arbiter of all things Holy Church, and right hand to Barry. If Elena were not so secure in the knowledge that Barry was in love with her, she might find some need for concern over Millie’s obvious schoolgirl crush on Barry. After all, Millie was actually quite attractive, in a beauty queen turned socialite kind of way, her long brown hair always coiffed into a perfect chignon, her finely toned figure clad in chic, if conservative form-fitting suits, and she always laid her pristinely manicured fingers topped with cherry red polish upon Barry’s arm whenever possible. Elena had watched with equal parts amusement and annoyance. Millie’s attraction had grown ever more fervent as the years had passed since Barry had taken over as pastor. Almost a decade ago now. But as with everything Millie had her fingers in, Elena could not take seriously the shy giggles, the overt caretaking because it all seemed so shallow, so gutless, so void of true intention. And though Millie was fond of chatting endlessly about her husband Miles, and his “extremely high position” and “hugely important corporate exploits,” always sighing, “Why, heck, he’s traveling ’round the world like a globetrotter,” Elena knew that meant Miles was out of Millie’s hair, and she was free to do as she pleased. This mostly consisted of her “duty to God” and “taking care of others.” “I was just born selfless,” she constantly extolled, as if it were a curse she had to bear. But what Millie was most fond of reminding everyone, daily, was that “M&M—Millie & Miles—make no mistake” were not only the largest contributors to the church, but their single annual gift out-summed the entire congregation’s tithes put together.