Monday, February 3, 2014

Shadows of Damascus GFT

 Today I have the wonderful opportunity to have a guest post by the author of the New Adult romance book, Shadows of Damascus, Lilas Taha.  Congrats to her on her debut novel!

Advice for writers

by Lilas Taha
Writing fiction requires not just an active imagination, but a decent ability to tell a lie. Lie with conviction, with complete abandonment of the truth, and create a web to support the lie. That is how I see writing a fictional story. It has to be complete, in all its angles, worlds, twists and turns for it to resonate with a reader. And as a writer, you have to believe the lie yourself.

Other non-character damaging advice I would have to say is keep learning. If you can’t handle criticism well, then I suggest you work hard at bringing down your expectations of your work. No matter how good a writer you may be, there is always a way to make you better. And if someone was gracious enough to point it out to you, then that would be your chance to open up and accept. I’m not saying all criticism is valid, but I’ve come across excellent writers who get offended when someone shines a light on a weak point in their work. In the writing world, and specifically in the publishing world, there is very little room for ego. A writer can always reject or accept suggestions, but a writer who wastes time and energy defending his or her work to a critiquing eye is someone who will remain at a standstill.

Make it better, bring it home for the person who found it lacking in one area or another, and be grateful someone took the time to give you feedback. But above all, trust your instinct. Like anything else we do in life, we tend to have that nagging voice in our heads telling us when something just isn’t right. If it is a plot issue, and you feel like the strings are not knotted tight enough, someone will pick up on that. So do your research, tighten the knots yourself, and make the plot as airtight as possible. If that little voice in your head raises questions about a certain character’s behavior that isn’t consistent with the kind of person you created, fix it. Characters don’t have to be predictable and consistent. Real people are not. But if you took the time to paint a character in a meaningful way, then his or her behavior must match. Redo the scene that bothers you deep down, it will bother your reader too.


Bullet wounds, torture and oppression aren’t the only things that keep a man—or a woman—from being whole.

Debt. Honor. Pain. Solitude. These are things wounded war veteran Adam Wegener knows all about. Love—now, that he is not good at. Not when love equals a closed fist, burns, and suicide attempts. But Adam is one who keeps his word. He owes the man who saved his life in Iraq. And he doesn’t question the measure of the debt, even when it is in the form of an emotionally distant, beautiful woman.

Yasmeen agreed to become the wife of an American veteran so she could flee persecution in war-torn Syria. She counted on being in the United States for a short stay until she could return home. There was one thing she did not count on: wanting more.

Is it too late for Adam and Yasmeen?


Hot cup of coffee in one hand, phone receiver cradled on shoulder, Adam dialed the phone number at eight thirty the following morning. A decent time. A woman’s soft voice greeted him.

“Good morning, ma’am. I’d like to talk to Mr. Pemssy?” He barely contained his excitement.


“My name is Adam Wegener,” he enunciated his words. “I want to speak to Mr. O. R. Pemssy.”

“Wrong number.”


“Damn it.” His excitement disintegrated like a popped balloon. He went back to the kitchen table and re-worked the letters again, only to end up with the same number. Frustrated, he crumbled the papers and threw them across the kitchen floor. To hell with this, he’d wasted enough time on this shit. If Fadi wanted something from him, he damned well better call him.

Hungry and angry, he stabbed a slice of toast and smeared it with peanut butter. Tension building in the muscles of his arms, he wanted to throw or break something. Instead, he swallowed the sandwich and went outside to work. Climbing astride his rusty old tractor, he cranked the motor.

Rising heat squeezed sweat from his body like a sponge with no regard to his fragile mental state. His mind crunched numbers without end while he worked. Thoughts of the cool fridge full of icy drinks beckoned him for an early lunch. He abandoned his tractor in the middle of the field, and headed home, discarding his wet shirt on the way. He walked around the kitchen, stomping papers. It felt good and satisfying. As satisfying as the icy Coke he gulped down. Needing to put things in order, he collected the discarded papers. When he reached to crush the envelope, his eyes landed on the Turkish stamp. A surge of excitement gripped his stomach. One more thing he needed to try.

Logging onto his laptop, he searched Turkey’s city codes for area code 216. Istanbul on the Asian side. He searched for the country code, then the time difference. Eight hours ahead put it close to nine p.m. in Istanbul.

He dialed the sequence of international code numbers and held his breath while the same ringing tone played with his nerves.

“’Allo?” A man’s voice greeted.

“May I speak to Mr. Pemssy?”
“Yust a minute.” The man spoke with an unmistakable heavy accent.

Adam dropped in a chair and closed his eyes in anticipation.

“I see you got my letter,” a deep voice said.

“You’re the one who sent it? Who am I speaking to?” Eyes wide open now. Could it be Fadi? Damn it, he couldn’t remember his voice.

“You know who I am. I can’t use my real name. How is zat hib of yours? Giving you trouble?”

Fadi. Same annoying accent. “What the hell is going on?” He grit his teeth and tried to ignore the mispronunciations. “Couldn’t you have given me your phone number in the letter, or called me directly?”

“I didn’t know if you still lived at that address, and I didn’t want my number to fall in the wrong hands. You’re not listed. I knew you liked to count things. That was the best I could come up with.”

“I too tried to find you many times. What can I do for you, man? What do you need?” Was there a better way to say he hadn’t forgotten Fadi?

“I need a favor. But I can’t explain over the phone. Get on a plane and come here as soon as possible.”

“You want me to fly to Turkey? You serious?”

“You promised to help if I needed anything, and I do. Desperately.”

Adam coughed to steal a moment. What the hell? Fly over there? Could he even afford it? He’d like to help the guy, but this was insane.

“Can’t just drop everything and leave. I’ll do my best to help you from here if you tell me what you need. Nothing illegal, you should know this upfront.”

“I can’t tell you, and I can’t stay on the line for too long. A life is at stake. Are you in or out?”

Adam was torn. Torn and ashamed to admit he looked for a way out of the promise he’d given years earlier. “Your life?”

Fadi remained silent for a few seconds.

He heard an agonized exhale.

“You’re my only hope.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lilas Taha is a writer at heart, an electrical engineer by training, and an advocate for domestic abuse victims by choice. She was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, and immigrated to the U.S. as a result of the Gulf war in 1990. She earned a master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. There, Lilas met her beloved husband and true friend, and moved with him to Sugar Land, Texas to establish a family. She is the proud mother of a daughter and a son. Instead of working in an industrial field, she applied herself to the field of social safety, working with victims of domestic violence.

Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Lilas brings her professional interests, and her Middle Eastern background together in her debut fictional novel, Shadows of Damascus.

Author Facebook Page
Book Facebook page
Twitter: Follow @LilasTaha

Buy Links:




 One randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.  Please use the Rafflecopter and leave a comment about whether you are or would like to be a writer and what your biggest challenge is.

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Additional tour stops can be found at this link.



  1. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on your blog.

    1. I am happy to have you visit, congrats and good luck with your debut title, that must be so exciting! And thank you for your work with those who suffer from domestic abuse.

  2. Replies
    1. You are welcome, my apologies for the snafu about the time!

  3. My favorite part of this post is this sentence, No matter how good a writer you may be, there is always a way to make you better. I believe you can replace the word writer with any profession and it would apply. ---Rae

    1. I agree, Rae. It's so important to keep that in one's head in any profession and job.

    2. That is quite true, Rae. Thanks for taking the time to visit!

  4. Congrats to Lilas on the new release! Thanks for sharing ;)

  5. Replies
    1. Not interested in being a writer

    2. bn100, not everyone is and thanks for being honest about it :)

    3. Thanks, bn. I can see that through your very streamlined replies, bn, however, I know that you love to read so it's a nice balance, lol. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Thank you for hosting me today on your blog. I hope your readers get to enjoy my book, and best of luck to everyone.

    1. You are quite welcome, hope the tour is going well and that lots of new readers discover you! Thanks for visiting.

  7. I think it takes a lot of courage to write & then release your work out into the world. A great post thank you.

  8. This sounds like a complex and thoroughly engrossing read. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for visiting, Elise-Maria!