The other day I was reading a writing blog and one of the pieces of advice being offered was that as soon as you know what you are going to write, get a cover for it and post it. It makes it more real for everyone. I took that to heart and today I went to Fiverr.com and found a graphic artist who was willing to make up a cover for me for five bucks. Now any way you slice that, it’s a deal! (Unless of course the image sucked, but this gal had a ton of positive feedback, so I wasn’t too worried. Look for jw12792 if you’re of a mind to commission something like this.) She sent the first one and there was a problem with it, so I wrote to her, explained and asked if she could fix it. In less than 20 minutes she had a second one done. Same idea, different image and colors, and I like this one a whole lot better because it really speaks to the themes of the book: secrets, masks, opera, and a fantastic, magical setting.
So in celebration of this cover image, here’s an excerpt from “Anna Magdalena’s Song”:
Zoë had planned an opera-themed wedding, and in spite of Max’s misgivings, he had agreed. He would stand at the altar as Felicia and Zoë would be costumed as Felicia’s lover, Arturo. “It will be a delicious joke,” Zoë had promised, displaying the lively sense of humor that had drawn them together from the start. “They’ll say we’re mad. Do you mind?”
It wasn’t in his heart to deny her so he told her, “Whatever makes you happy, my dear.” At the time he had found the idea amusing.
Now he was regretting it, at least in part because the enormous powdered wig and multi-layered costume both weighed a ton. “Is it too late to flee?” he asked Frederick who was fussing with several acres of lace.
“Much too late. Finish with that bodice so I can get you into this over-sized pastry of a skirt. Why couldn’t she have chosen a better opera, or at least one with less ridiculous costumes? What about “Lollia” or “Die Absolution der Weißen Mädchen” instead of this idiotic piece?”
“She’s sentimental about the role; it’s the first one she ever saw me sing, and anyway it was my greatest one, everyone says so.”
“I don’t. I think you were best as Lollia.”
“So do I,” Max admitted. “But it’s also one of the few where I don’t die or go mad by the end, so it does have a happy ending to recommend it. I expect she prefers to begin married life that way rather than with the cumulative tragedies of Lollia.”
As he fastened the dozens of hooks and buttons, Frederick said “I was joking about it being too late to flee. If you need to…” He let the thought trail away, but Max understood. Once before, on the day he and Zoë had become engaged, Frederick had asked if Max thought it wise. It was a mark of his concern, and his love for Max that he would ask a second time.
“I have no doubt that this is my best course. Zoë and I have spoken frankly.”
Fred seemed unconvinced. “How frankly?”
Max half turned. “You forget yourself.” Then more softly he added “As frankly as necessary. We have achieved an understanding.”
What he didn’t say, couldn’t say even to Frederick, the one person on earth who knew all his secrets, was that his heart was breaking. “You told me once that I could do better than Niccolò St. Arvid. I have done. That’s an end to it.”