An Illusion of Trust cover reveal!

I wish I could report that I’ve not blogged lately because I’ve been lazing by the ocean and dreaming up lovely stories, but the truth is I’ve been in hell. Well, a hell of sorts. I ran into some trouble formatting the ebook versions of An Illusion of Trust. When I finally escaped, I found the world had moved on without me.

lazy_beachMy problems developed because I tried a different approach this time—taking Word-generated html directly to Calibre for conversion. That process works easily for others, not so for me. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’m persnickety.

I want more control over how my books look than ereaders let me have, which is why I so much prefer formatting books for print. But I’ve learned to compromise on some things and, after progressive steps of simplifying the html, I finally got Calibre to produce the .epub and .mobi files I wanted. I’d done the print formatting weeks ago, so the only thing left to do was create the cover.

I’ve been fiddling with the cover for ages, trying versions with other stock photos before I found the perfect image for this book. But again, for me, it wasn’t suitable out of the box. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. Eventually the changes become minute adjustments and then it’s done.

I revealed the cover to my newsletter subscribers on Sunday. Now, I’m revealing it to you. Just click An Illusion of Trust at the top of this page to see the cover and read a few teasy bits from the book. The countdown to publication begins.

elle

Something old, something new, and a meme that’s blue!

It seems that every time I look up, another month has passed. We’re closing in on mid-August now and I’m trying to ignore that my goal was to have the first draft of my next novel finished by mid-July. But since I added 30,000 words in the last month, I don’t feel too bad. The poor thing’s still nameless, though.

I shared some excerpts with you a few weeks ago, but I cheated a little. I revised to remove any character names because I wasn’t ready to reveal exactly who they were, but I’m tired of all the intrigue. *lol* So, heads up. If you haven’t read The Brevity of Roses yet, you’ll want to do that before the end of the year because my next novel is the sequel.

This time, Renee is the main character. When I began writing Brevity, Renee did not exist. Then, the story took an unexpected turn and a spoiled, rich, young woman entered the picture. She didn’t last long because Renee showed up and told her to take a hike. I loved Meredith. I fell in love with Jalal. Renee captured my heart.

I knew the ending of Brevity long before I wrote it, but in my imagination the story continued. Even as I was writing that novel, I would daydream about what might happen after the last page. My friend Michelle Davidson Argyle said about her first novella Cinders, “Happily-ever-after isn’t as long as you thought.” I mean, really, did you think finding her prince would solve Renee’s problems overnight? I write contemporary fiction, not fantasy.

Speaking of Michelle, she tagged me for the Lucky 7 meme. Jessica Luton also tagged me for a 7-line meme a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve linked to both their posts (click to see what they’re working on). Turning to page 7 landed me right in a passage of suggestive dialogue, which I’ll share, but since I was tagged twice I’ll share a second passage of narrative from another page.

This:

“We can do something about that.” He cups my breast, brushing his thumb against my nipple, and I respond, low and deep.

“How … um …” I still his hand, so I can think. “How do you feel about living there again?”

“I feel good. It feels right. It is just a house, not a monument.” He nuzzles my hair further aside and kisses the back of my neck. “What I said tonight was not spontaneous. I have thought about moving for a while.” Kiss. “You strengthen me, sweet love. You make me whole.”

I turn to face him. “Oh, yes. I feel that … again.”

“Why, Mrs. Vaziri, you have a dirty mind. I said whole, not hard.” He rolls to his back, pulling me on top of him. “But now that you mention it …”

And this:

Jalal drops to his knees, lifts Adam’s shirt, and gently brushes his chin across his son’s belly. This tickle, a secret message of love between father and son, began when an accidental brush of Jalal’s beard rewarded him with Adam’s first real laugh. Too sleepy to laugh now, Adam only smiles and closes his eyes again. Jalal tucks a blanket around him and rises, towering over his son and standing a foot taller than me.

I study him while he studies his son. Jalal was clean-shaven when we met, had always been, as far as I know, but he started growing a beard and mustache on the day Adam was born. He keeps both fashionably shaped and closely trimmed, a fine black etching. A symbol. I’m a father now, it says, a real man.

Now, of course, I’m supposed to pass this meme to seven other writers, but I know some of you have done these memes numerous times this year. So, how about I make this very easy for you to accept again? If your name is on my list, you have the option of writing a post about the Lucky 7 meme OR you can share your seven sentences right here in a comment.

The rules say to go to page 7 of your WIP (or not yet published work), count down 7 lines and then select the next 7 lines. Use your discretion. I’m tagging:

  1. Jennifer Neri
  2. Christa Polkinhorn
  3. Darlene Foster
  4. James Garcia, Jr.
  5. Suzanne Conboy-Hill
  6. Anne Gallagher
  7. Dana Mason
  8. Cathryn Grant
  9. T.A. Olivia
  10. J.C. Hart
  11. Kathryn Magendie
  12. Christi Craig
  13. E. Victoria Flynn
  14. Heather Simone
  15. Natasha Alexander
  16. Laura Best
  17. Cristina Trapani-Scott
  18. Kimberly Packard
  19. Alannah Murphy

Yes, that’s nineteen, but I was tagged twice, plus I added a few more just because. AND if I didn’t tag you, but you’d also like to share your seven in the comments—go for it!

Would you like a peek at my next novel?

Several times in the last six months, I changed my mind about what I should write. Then I chose the novel my heart advised, but I haven’t wanted to mention any specifics about it until I made more progress. I’m still writing the first draft, but I’ve reached the point of no return, and talking about it now will spur me on to the finish. So today I’ll tease you with these bits.

hair_thumb.jpgThe excerpts below are glimpses into some of the story elements—I can’t reveal a major conflict just yet. Since the story is told from my protagonist’s point of view, it’s appropriate to begin with an introduction to her. She looks and speaks like this:

Just as we sit down to dinner, my future flashes before me. Within a few years, I’ll be another rich, suburban mom, shopping in my designer jeans, high-end pumps, and diamonds, driving my Escalade and carpooling to soccer and ballet, scheduling hair, spa, and Botox appointments between luncheons and teas, followed by endless cocktail and dinner parties. In other words, my future sucks.

 

It’s about:

My hands return to my belly. I love this baby. I want this baby. But it isn’t real to me yet. Like the nursery, the baby is wrapped in a dream. A promise not yet fulfilled.

He steps up close behind and wraps his arms around me, clasping his hands over mine. We linger in the embrace for a moment. Does he understand how safe I feel when he holds me?
 

It’s about:

A realtor’s sign is staked in front of the house. I didn’t know the owners, but I’m sad to think of them leaving it. How sad I would be to leave that house. I didn’t want to move away from here. There. I’ve admitted it. That’s why I haven’t settled in. Okay. Now I will. Done and done. His house is my new home.
 

It’s about:

I kneel on the edge of the bed, so I can kiss him. “I love you.” I start to pull away, but he slips a hand around the back of my head and pulls it back to his. His kisses are tender and fierce, hungry and satisfied, sweet and vulgar, always a contradiction, like himself. After a moment, I push him away. “I need a shower.”

“No.”

“I want one, then. Tell that mighty lance to calm down.”

He lifts the sheet and looks down. “Haste ye not, thou mighty lance.”

“Smartass.” I smack him with my pillow and run for cover in the bathroom.

It’s about:

I hate this woman. I despise her. And I’m angry at myself for letting her sit here and humiliate me. She’d love it if I gave her the satisfaction of answering with the No she expects.

I stand abruptly. “Excuse me, I heard a shout from the nursery.” Please let me look steady on my feet and not cry as I leave the room. I make it to the top of the stairs before the tears win out.
 
It’s about:

Are you buying me off? Is this hush money? Throw a little money at me, so I’ll stop questioning my great and powerful husband?”

“Stop being so dramatic.”

“Stop being such an asshole. Ten thousand dollars is a ridiculous amount to have in a checking account.”

“Then transfer it to savings. Or buy a CD. Or bury it in the damned yard.”

“I don’t want it.” I throw the statement to the floor, as if I can rid myself of the money by discarding the evidence of it.

He sighs. “What do you want? Really. What is it? Is it possible for me to do anything that will make you happy?”

“Yes. Stop shutting me out.” He stares at me long enough for me to realize he’s just as angry as I am, and then he walks to the door.

“I suggest you rethink that. Who shut who out first?” In a gesture that feels all too final, he slams the door when he leaves.
 
It’s about:

Everyone tries to act like nothing bizarre happened yesterday, which only makes me feel more like a freak, like I’m too fragile to bear the weight of reality. If I get one more pat on the hand or one more hug I might start screaming. I don’t think anyone has looked me in the eye all morning. I can almost hear the eggshells crunching under their feet.

It’s a relief when the guys and Kristen stumble out to the patio. At least they’re acting normal, sleeping until noon and then fully waking themselves by jumping into the pool.

Ten minutes later, the men exit the house and seat themselves at one of the tables, so I know the food is on the way. “Lunch,” I call out to the swimmers.

Kristen surfaces at the edge of the pool, close to me. “Got your demons back on the leash today?”

A collective gasp is followed only by the sound of water dripping off the guys standing at the edge of the pool. I smile and give her a big mental hug. “Thank you for asking. And yes, they’re secured.”

~~~~~

So there you go. I hope something caught your interest. I altered some of the text and removed character names, hoping to keep you in suspense—though I expect some of you are too clever for that.

It’s not as easy as I thought!

Choose one!

“Dear God, think before you speak next time.” That’s the advice a friend gives my main character in The Brevity of Roses. I wish I’d done that before I promised to share my favorite passages of that novel with you. I quickly discovered that’s not an easy task. I love too many of them, but that’s not the only consideration.

What makes a selection a favorite—particularly, among words you’ve written yourself? Is it the actual word choices, the syntax? Is it the emotion evoked by those words? Is it the importance of those words to the storyline? Or could it be just that you know how hard you struggled to get that passage right? Possibly, it’s a combination of many or all of those things.

Though they were among my favorites, obviously, I didn’t want to select passages that revealed key plot elements. (I hate when they do that in movie trailers.) I found myself choosing mainly solemn parts, like this:

It had been a long time since she pulled out, dusted off, and examined the memory of her life immediately following Stephen’s death. At first, grief covered her like skin, defining her, holding her together. Gradually, it sloughed off, and collected into another form—pain without warning, like a cat hiding under the bed reaching out its paw to swat her when she least expected it. Finally, it ceased breathing and became only an object, a fact of her life, but that object cast a shadow—the dark, formless absence of Stephen. This shadow lay over her so long she became oblivious to its presence. Then Jalal lifted it like a veil, and now she craved this new sun-filled life.

and this:

Yet, he haunted her. When she sat alone in the kitchen, the scent of his spices wafted around her. When she walked down the hall, her heels echoed his voice from the living room. While she worked in her garden, his beautiful herb pots accused her. When she woke in the night, for just a moment, she felt his weight beside her. Here, a dried pouf of blue where his can of shaving gel had sat. There, a word he jotted on the scratch pad on the desk—Halcyon. Everywhere traces of him remained, if only she looked close enough.

And she did.

But Brevity’s not all deep and dark, so I looked for something light-hearted, with dialogue, and chose this:

Renee arrived precisely on time, and entered the house without knocking. Jalal noted she wore one of those soft summer dresses instead of her usual tee and shorts. And her hair—set free again—cascaded to her waist. “I didn’t know what we were having for dinner,” she said, setting two bottles on the counter, “so I brought a red and a white.”

Jalal glanced at the labels. “You have excellent taste in wine.”

“No,” she said. “I just used to work in an excellent upscale restaurant.”

“I am preparing fish, so the Sauv Blanc will be perfect.”

“You really cook?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said, “it keeps me from starving.”

Funny. So, you’re a gourmet cook, a renowned poet, a financial genius. What other talents do you have?” She pinched a bite of salad. “Mmmm, that’s good.”

“Thank you. The dressing is my own recipe.”

“And …?”

Jalal glanced up, eyebrows raised.

“I asked what other talents you have.”

He shook his head. “I do not even claim the three you think I have.”

“Well, I’ll judge the first one for myself tonight, but the other two are common knowledge.”

“Oh, yes … what would we do without Wikipedia?”

“Smart ass,” she said.

“Now, that one, I will claim.”

Then, my friend Kasie suggested one of her favorite “fun” scenes. It’s not only fun, but it illustrates the dynamic between Jalal and his mother and sisters, as well as the beginning of Meredith’s attraction to his family. You can read that here: Jalal and the Carpet Weaver’s Daughter. Enjoy.

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A taste of Brevity

The Margaret Merrill rose appears both literally and figuratively in my novel, The Brevity of Roses.

When we had a Costco membership, my husband loved to shop there on the days they gave out free samples in the grocery aisles. Sometimes he took samples of things he doubted he would like because “Hey, it’s free.” Well, today I don’t have any food, but I do have a free sample of The Brevity of Roses for you.

But first, some other business:

If you read my last post, you might have expected a new look to my blog today. It’s coming, but real life intervened and I wasn’t able to finish my new blog header, so stay tuned for the redecorating.

I’m going to tell you why you might want to sign-up for my newsletter. I won’t flood your inbox with chain spam, or get-rich-quick schemes, or sell your email address to marketers. In fact, I won’t flood you with anything, but I will tell you first about upcoming contests or other promotions, and keep you in the loop about my scheduled interviews or guest blog appearances. You’ll also learn how you might get a free copy of Brevity. So read the sample first, and then, if you think you’d like to be a Brevity insider, please sign-up on the Contact page.

Now, for that taste of Brevity. I hope you’ll enjoy Chapter One. (Warning: a sprinkling of strong language.)

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