Excerpt, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Writing

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!

Excerpt, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Writing

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.

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

Excerpt, Fiction, Novel, Writing

Running to and fro

Today I write. Today Jalal runs. And today Jalal begins to respond:

As Jalal feared, the tide had not receded enough for him to run past Blue Point, so he doubled back and then continued south. Not far past his house, he spotted her. Running forced him outside his zone of solitude and, in the effort to stave off unwanted contact, he learned to stay aware of his surroundings, to be alert to what moved in and out of his peripheral vision. Renee stood on the first landing of the steps leading down from the pathway.

Her face was in profile. She looked out to sea, or possibly, she looked at nothing. Bundled against the chill and damp, with only a few flyaway tendrils escaping her hooded sweatshirt, he was surprised he knew the shape of her. Her stance, her coloring, the line of her jaw, somehow committed to memory already.

Surely, she would see him in seconds—three, two, now—he passed below her. He didn’t look up. She didn’t call out to him. He felt relieved and disappointed in equal measure.