Friday, October 30, 2015

Cover reveal for A Touch of Passion

A Touch of Passion is a new boxed set, containing full-length Romance novels by wonderfully talented, bestselling authors. Joining me are Mimi Barbour, Tamara Ferguson, Regina Puckett, Suzanne Jenkins, Cynthia Woolf, Traci Hall, and Donna Fasano. 

For the word 'Passion' I found a lovely font called Precious, because I felt that it expresses the meaning of this word by making the capital letter so flowery and romantic. For the image I selected a young woman in a silky dress, made her close her eyes as she dreams about her beloved, and on her hand I placed a pink rose. I positioned it so it nearly falls off from her fingers, as she is so enraptured in her memories.

Here is the spine. My intention was to create a sense of a substantial collection, presented like volumes in an encyclopedia. Therefore, I used golden lettering on dark purple, velvet background. I added the lit and shadowed edges for each spine, to achieve depth. Most importantly, at the bottom of it I added a signature icon from the cover of its standalone novel.

Finally, I built it all up so suggest a perspective, and created a reflection underneath, which adheres to the same rules of perspective. And here is the finished cover:

Lose yourself in a touch of passion. 
Whether it’s the beauty in a song or the magic of a kiss, the agony of heartbreak or the hunger of yearning, explore ecstasy and desire in these captivating full-length novels. Written by bestselling, multiple award-winning, USA Today and NY Times authors, this boxed set has it all: Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Romantic Suspense, Victorian Romance, Western and Literary Fiction. These sensual tales of love will leave you with a smile on your lips and music in your heart. 

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Waiting for the night, for the darkest hour


If I wanted to, I could just extend my arms and hug her, because there she is, opposite me, and the distance... The distance, you see, is so close—but I hold myself back. 
She is looking out the window. 
Perhaps she is immersing herself in the grays and purples quivering there, on the other side of the glass, reaching a blur in the cold October sunlight. Perhaps, with great patience she is waiting there, waiting for the night, for the darkest hour, which is when her image may finally appear. It will come to the surface in front of her as if it were a sunken spirit, rising from the deep. Out of nowhere. 
For now she seems lost, searching for something—perhaps her reflection—in vain. 
I worry about mom, about the little things, which to someone else—someone who does not know her as I do—may seem trivial, insignificant. I worry she is missing her pearl earrings. I must find them for her. The little hole in her earlobe has shrunk away, turning somehow to flesh. 
In a whisper I say, “Mommy?” and wonder how the air vibrates over the tender membrane of her eardrum, how it changes into noise, how she gets it when pitch rises, when it falls. 
Can she sense the change? 
At what point does it translate, somehow, into meaning? By what path does it penetrate, going deeper? Does it excite the nerves, fire signals up there, between regions of her brain?

Coming back to his childhood home after years of absence, Ben is unprepared for the secret, which is now revealed to him: his mother, Natasha, who used to be a brilliant concert pianist, is losing herself to early-onset Alzheimer's, which turns the way her mind works into a riddle. 

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 "A feast for the armchair psychologist. 
Reveals insights that can touch and frighten each of us"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I can sense the edge

It brings back a memory. As a ten year old boy I used to stand right here, leaning against this very door, just as I am now. Wide-eyed I would stare in awe at my dad, watching him go through his morning ritual, which never varied. I can see him so vividly in my mind. 
First, dad would soak a small towel in steaming hot water, and hold it firmly against his face, his eyes winking at me from the fogged up mirror. Then his eyes would turn serious, as he would go back to the business at hand.
He would lift the wet brush, using it to apply shaving cream to his chin, swirling the thing around and around, until the lather had formed into stiff peaks. At this point, he would put the brush down—but not before painting the tip of my nose with a dollop of white, fluffy cream.
Then he would stretch his skin between his fingers, until it was as tight as a drum, and angle the blade to it, and go through his first pass, traveling along the grain, shaving the hair with short, rhythmic strokes, and finishing it off with long ones. At this point he would bend down and let me help, let me lather his face for him, before straightening his back, and coming back up to the mirror, to study his jawline as if exploring some exotic, heavily wooded landscape. Then with a sure hand, dad would go through his final pass—the more dangerous one, when most accidents occur—this time, traveling against the grain.

It must be late afternoon, maybe five o’clock by now. My father, I figure, is about to come back. And here I am: his flesh, his blood. I am looking directly at the mirror, wondering, Where is that boy? Is he lost? Can I still find him, hiding here, inside these eyes? And who are you, I ask myself, a traitor? 
In this spot, I am nowhere. And nowhere is a hard place to escape. So after a while I start wondering, What now? What shall I do? Now that I am home, where can I go? 
I have no will. I have no curiosity. Of its own, my finger is passing with barely a touch along the blade until suddenly, catching on a spot, it halts. Rust, perhaps. I raise my hand over to the light, careful not to tighten my hold over the thing. A cold shine can be seen in intervals, shooting up and down between my fingers along the metallic handle. I can sense the edge. 
I can see my wrist, a vein twisting through it with a hard pulse. I can see the delicate lines, guessing their way across the skin. How frail is life. Better close your eyes. Close your eyes, I say. Do it--

Excerpt from The White Piano

In writing this passage, I drew on two memories: first, the memory of seeing my daddy shave when I was a little girl, which was so fascinating to me back then. And second,  the dark mood that gripped me when he passed away, which inspired me to paint heart-wrenching images, questioning the purpose of being here. 

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“Liberally salted with buttery smooth prose & fascinating insights”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What to expect in our Halloween party

Hi everyone! Can't wait for the event to begin and for the Grand Finale... 
Can you?
Here is what to expect:

Friday, October 30th at 4:00pm PST - Sunday, November 1st at 3:00 PST 
You'll read excerpts, listen to voice clips and watch trailers from our books
Want to increase your chances to win them? 
Then like, comment, or share our posts on the event page

Grand Finale Sunday, November 1st at 4:00 PST
Want to know who won our books, and have spooky scary fun?
Come to our Halloween party!

Haven't joined us yet? What are you waiting for? 

To convert time to your time zone, click here: Time Zone Calculator

As the light becomes sharper, so does his shadow

The rays of the sun are painting the opposite ridge, there at the top of the valley, with warm yellows, glittering golds. But they reach only halfway down, way short of the bluish mist that is still blanketing the bottom of the valley. 
Here, under this cover, it is an eerie sight. One cloud of murk after another drift aimlessly in the air. In the thick haze I step among rocks and bodies, barely noting the difference between one immobile shape and another. I am finding my way by touch rather than by vision. All the while I am grateful, so grateful that the vultures are nowhere in sight. In the distance I spot an outline of a dog here, a dog there, sniffing the remains with their tails between their legs. 
And for the first time in my life I pray for help. I look up the slope searching, hoping for something divine, something that will guide me, show me the path out of this dark passage. I cry out to God, bless me, sustain me, protect me... You are the only shield I have against my foes, the shadow by my right hand. 
Now I hear the babbling of a brook, and before long I am sloshing my way through it. This must be the border, the natural border between us and the Philistines. From here on I am encroaching on the turf of the enemy. I stop to choose five pebbles from the brook. Four of them I put in my pouch, and one in the knot of my sling. 
My wrist is ready. I peer through the mist, listening intently for the voice of the Philistine.
“Coward,” he howls, and his voice rattles me. It sounds so close that for a second, I am stunned.
It is then that rays of light finger the mist, first with some hesitation. Then with a rip, they pierce through it, and are now shining directly upon him. 
His heavy ankles, covered with bronze leg armors, are planted slightly above the level of my eyes, on a ledge up there, at the opposite side. As the light becomes sharper, so does his shadow. With a steep slant, it is cascading over the limestone outcrops. There is Goliath, overshadowing me.

David in Rise to Power

Degas, the French painter, said, "Painting s easy for those who do not know how, but very difficulties for those who do!" You can see how true this is in these three images that depict the same moment in the story, just before the battle between David and Goliath has been decided. The first piece of art that inspired my writing is a gouache painting by Salvador Dali, depicting the moment the pebble hit the giant and the spilling and spreading of blood. The second is by Degas, where we stand close to David and see the arena close to his point of view. And the third is by Bernini, who is known for his dynamic marble sculptures. here he delivers a contemplative moment, depicting David with great warmth as a youth heading for battle.

David et Philistaenus by Salvador Dali, 1964

David and Goliath by Degas

David by Bernini

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ain’t them three sisters gonna curse me, like witches do?

I can hear a noise of some kind, clicking awful close to my ear, on the other side, I mean, Lenny’s side of the bed. I try to stay still, because of this dull pain, and because of wondering if, somewhere deep inside, my baby can feel it, too. 
Then I turn my head—just a little—and take a peak over my shoulder. I glance real quick at that standalone mirror, which is facing away from me. And what do I see reflected there, if not something that’s, like, so strange to my eyes, so unusual, that it makes me want to blink, or wipe them in awe.
Three squares of fuzzy wool are being held there, suspended in midair. Directly behind them hang three shadows, under which you can see three chubby old women, crinkling their noses—long, longer, longest. They’re straining their crossed, beady eyes with great focus, under three pairs of glasses, and clinking, clinking, clinking three pairs of knitting needles, like, all together now! 
And there, on the floor, you can see three balls of thick yarn chasing each other, and from time to time, getting tied in knots, every which way across them fat ankles. 
Anyway, at first glance them old women look kinda similar, like a rough, wrinkled copy of each other, what with those high arched, strange eyebrows. I pinch myself, but they’re still there—in the mirror as well as outside of it—no matter how long I try blinking and wiping my eyes. It takes me a while to tell them apart: 
The one sitting to the left, she’s toothless. The one in the middle has a pimple on her veined temple. And the one to the right, well, her nose isn’t only the longest, but also the knobbiest of all three. 
Wrapped around her neck is a long tape measure, the edges of which roll all the way down and curl there, in her lap, next to a pair of scissors. 
All of a sudden, like something has clicked in my head, I know who she is: this is Hadassa Rosenblatt, known to all as aunt Hadassa—though nobody can tell me exactly whose aunt she is anyway—she was the one spreading nasty, awful rumors about me, saying I was dating some other boyfriend, like, behind Lenny’s back. 
At the time, I decided to make things real easy for her, and told her there’s no need for her to come to my wedding, and in fact it would be so much better if she’d stay as far as she could from me; which made her sisters, Frida and Fruma, stay home, too. Since then, my mind is kinda at ease—except for wondering, Why the gossip? Why did she try meddling in my affairs? And now, ain’t them three sisters gonna curse me, like witches do, in old children stories? 

The three witches appear in many mythologies, including the Greek one, where one spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle, another measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod, and the third was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with her shears. Anita has a memory of the Norse version of the three fates:

He took me to some opera, Wagner I think, which was long and kinda difficult to get, but he told me to listen, and he explained it all to me, and from there I remember them, the three Norns: They spun the thread of fate, and they sang, like, the song of the future. 
Beware, they sang. 
Beware, I tell myself now, as aunt Hadassa holds up the yarn, and snips it.

Anita in My Own Voice
Included in Apart From Love

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Monday, October 19, 2015

That was where the nightmare found me

Contrary to popular belief, I see the brain working together, undivided between its left and right sides. It is overlaying its creative and analytical functions in every task. There are compositional problems to resolve, and color combination methods to gauge when you are painting a picture, at the same time that you are chasing your muse. The same is true for writing a story or composing a piece of music, with the added effect of time: a painting is perceived at once, more or less, while music and story unfold for the listener one note at a time.  

I paint with a pen, write with a paintbrush. My art strives to tell a story, and my stories strive to bring you into the scene being painted! Here is a good example of the mutual influences between art and writing. I painted this oil painting a few years ago, driven to do so by a recurrent nightmare. A few months later I brought it to life in words, and weaved it into my novel, My Own Voice:

Just yesterday—when I laid there in bed, bleeding all day, not even knowing where I was—that was when at last, the dream found me. 
In it, I find myself in a public place, which is strange to me—even though I know, somehow, that I’ve already been here. I’ve visited this place, perhaps the night before. 
It’s raised like a stage, and flooded with light: a harsh glare, which blinds me. For a minute I can’t see nothing in the dark, beyond that ledge—but I know that them faces are out there, blank and blurry. They’re all there, hushing each other, gazing at me. 
I see myself standing there in front of them, naked.
Red-faced, I hunch up as tight as I can. I fold over my thighs, trying to hide, to cover my body, my shame—but my hands, they’re way too small, so my nipple slips out of my fingers. And there it is, circled by light, for all to see, and to jeer at me, and to lick their lips, which is like, glistening out there, tiny sparks hissing in the distance. 
For a little while, my sleep is light. And so—even as I’m looking straight into that spotlight, or like, reaching down to touch the ledge of that stage—I can tell that all this is false, it’s nothing more than a dream. But then I fall deeper, even deeper into it, and now I really believe what I see: 
Some thread is crawling on my skin. Laying across my knees is a strap of fabric, which is frayed and stained, here and there, with my blood. When I pull it in, trying to drape it around me, or use it for a blanket, it resists. It don’t hardly give in, ‘cause it’s tied to something—no, somebody—standing right here, directly over my bare back. 
Me, I don’t want to turn, but I take a peek over my shoulder. Wrapped in layers of rags and straps and loose ends, all of which is tattered and like, drenched in reds and browns, the figure seemed shaky. He lifts one leg, and tries to balance himself, teetering—this way and that—on one foot. His hand tries to touch the back of my neck—and misses it, grabbing a handful of air, instead. 
And his blood-red lips, they’re curled up, in something that looks an awful lot like a smile. A mocking smile, one that don’t change. 
In my dream, my feet must have frozen. I can’t move, can’t run away from him, or even climb off the stage, because at that point I’m weak, and too scared to even breathe, and because of that thread, which binds us. And so, rooted to that spot, I look up at him. At this close range, our eyes meet, and my heart skips a beat, ‘cause at that second, his are empty. 
Suddenly I catch sight of someone else, someone standing way over there, in the distance, behind him; behind the curtains, even. Except for her hand, which is caught in the light, it’s hard to even notice her, ‘cause at first she’s like, real shy, even modest, and keeps herself in the shadows, out of the spotlight. 
But then, she changes. Her long fingers, they’re gathered, one by one, into a fist. And twisted around her little finger, you can find—if you focus—the ends of the rags, and the straps, and the thread, all of which extend from there to here, where he stands; all the way, to the joints of his wrists and his elbows, tying them like, real tight. 
And from backstage, she’s pulling him—raising, dropping, tightening, loosening—making the puppet move, shake, jiggle, even dance on the tip of his toe, and like, bringing him, somehow, to life. I gasp, thinking: she can twist him around her little finger, if she wants to.
Me, I cringe as he puffs, breathing something in my ear. “Go, go back home, go,” says the puppet, in a voice that is not really his. “Go to the place, the place where you came from, you came from. Go back to your ma, ma, your mama.”

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"A literary symphony complete with a cast of likeable, bruised characters"

Monday, October 12, 2015

A richly woven story

Just found a lovely new review for my novel, My Own Voice:

on October 12, 2015
This was written by one of my favorite authors, Uvi Poznansky. My Own Voice (Still Life with Memories Book 1) is another fine example of her story telling ability. It’s as if she paints the story, allowing the reader to find the lush details among the greater canvass of the world she creates. An artist inviting us in to a secret place that leaves us different once we have been there. We first meet Anita at seventeen and follow her as she makes mistakes, learns, falls, grows and questions. The author explores and illustrates the emotions that drive her characters in their decisions and relationships. This is truly a richly woven story. Highest recommendation.