I felt the same way when I wrote Before Ever After. I’ve lost count of all the “pretend” covers I made for the book. My computer skills are limited at best (uploading photos into Facebook remains a challenge), but that didn’t stop me from copying, pasting, and cropping pictures to give the story a face.
Each mock-up explored different elements from the novel - a sundial, a mosaic, a Volkswagen van – but they had one thing in common: they were HORRIBLE. Don’t believe me? Ask my hubby who mastered the art of mustering the most polite and encouraging smile whenever I'd show them to him and ask, “So, what do you think?” (He quickly learned that the correct answer was the same as the response to the question, “Does this make me look fat?”)
I have since accepted the fact that, just like cooking, designing book covers is definitely NOT one of my talents. (And yes, I will now admit that my white blouse with horizontal red stripes does make my waist look five inches thicker.) Apart from looking like a six-year old’s craft project, there was something missing. The designs failed to capture the essence of the book, the concept of a story being told within a story.
Still, back then, my latest “masterpiece” was there when I needed an image, however crude, to hold in my head whenever I felt like giving up - an image that would make me smile, as I waited.
At long last, I can stop wondering. Before Ever After finally has a real face smiling back at me. In a moment, it will smile back at you too. You will also get to see the premiere of the “virtual tour” we made of “The Slight Detour,” the offbeat European tour Max, my main character, runs in the book. The virtual tour uses quotations from the book as well as images from two extremely talented photographer friends of mine: Cecilia Beltran and Bopet Gillego. (Thanks, guys!! You ROCK.)
For those of you who have not yet read the synopsis of the book, I’m posting it here so that you can have some background on the novel before you watch the tour. If you’ve already read it, please skip ahead, hop on the van and enjoy the tour!
Meet Before Ever After…
Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.
As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts “The Slight Detour,” the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.
So, um, what do you think? Does it make me look fat? ;-)