Winds screaming like a banshee of over 8o mph, rain battering the window panes, debris flying all around the garden. But wait? That was last night! Storms a-coming my way again today? Yep! I missed an apostrophe in there, but I haven’t missed Vonnie Davis.
A great big welcome Vonnie to ‘she said, he said…’, I’m really pleased you’re visiting today. Vonnie’s route to being published is not to be missed so, if you don’t know anything about how ‘Storm’s Interlude’ got published, get the coffee beside you and be ready!
How did it feel when you got the thumbs-up that your first book was going to be published?This is going to be a long drawn-out answer, I’m afraid. My agent started shopping Storm’s Interlude out on a Monday. She queried several publishers from small to large. I got a text from her around ten o’clock Friday night asking if I was available to talk by phone. She called and said I’d gotten a contract offer from a small publisher on the West coast. Because the offer came so quickly—within 5 days of her query—she felt we should wait to see what other publishers thought of my book.
I was in mind numbing shock. She kept asking if I was okay because all she could hear over the phone was my gasping for breath. Poor soul, I think she thought I’d gone into cardiac arrest! Finally, I was able to breathe out one word: “Why?” A few more deep breaths later, I formed a somewhat coherent sentence. “Why would they want my book?” To which she responded, “Why did you write the book? Didn’t you write it to sell it?” We still jokingly refer to that phone call as the “Why” conversation.
I told her I really wanted The Wild Rose Press. I’d researched them and spoken online with some of their authors. They were my dream publisher. So she emailed them along with the other pubs she’d queried earlier in the week telling them all I’d gotten a contract offer and she would hold me off from signing for two weeks to give them time to make a decision. A ballsy move, I thought. I mean, who was I? An unpublished wanna-be. The Wild Rose Press offered after one week. So I had two contract offers in two weeks. To say I was shocked doesn’t begin to describe my emotions.I wanted to sign right away, but my agent wanted to wait another week since she’d more or less given her word to these publishers that she’d keep me from signing for two weeks. The final week of waiting brought a delightful refusal from a Harlequin editor. I have it framed. She praised my book, said she loved Storm and Rachel, but since I wrote so similar to Linda Lael Miller, she’d have a hard time convincing acquisitions to take on a new author with a similar writing style. I laughed. I cried. I mean, seriously, my name does NOT belong in the same sentence with Linda Lael Miller. But the editor was sweet enough to give me a kind refusal. She taught me the value of praise wrapped up within a rejection.
After that wonderful buzz died down a bit were you prepared for how hard you have to work at marketing it?
Heavens, no. I had no clue. There are at least 2000 new books published every day. Now, imagine you are in a room with 2000 books stacked around the perimeter of the room. What will draw you to my book? Certainly not my name. I’m no one important—except to my grandkids. Will my cover catch your eye? TWRP has the most talented artists in the business, in my opinion. Our covers are unique and one of a kind. Will the blurb on the back cover catch a reader’s attention? I’d no clue how important those two or three paragraphs were until I had to write mine. So, I blog. do twitter and some facebook. I promote. Frankly, I’d rather be writing.
Yeah. I think the marketing a much harder job than the writing too. Have you learned something about yourself now you’re a published writer?
Being published is like warm chocolate chip cookies...one always wants more. So I keep writing and hoping TWRP will contract me again.
I’m nosey about the writing traits of other authors so, go on and indulge me. Name three rewarding things about your writing day.
I start my day quickly skimming over emails. I love hearing good news from other writers: a contract offer, a great review, a prize won. For some reason I take great pride in their accomplishments. We are a sisterhood of dreamers, are we not? Therefore, their successes belong to me, too. Gee, did that sound strange? Well, we all know I’m strange, but that, too, is a topic for another blog. The second rewarding thing of the day is reading over the previous day’s work and seeing only a third of it needs rewritten—and not all of it. The third has to be when a scene that woke me during the night flows relatively easily onto the computer screen.
I wish that came naturally to me but by the time I get that first OJ drunk and my first coffee at my elbow I’ve forgotten the fabulous dream ‘writing’. (tried the crinkly paper and torch over night but it woke me up too much- won’t even mention hubby in this sentence!)
Say I’ve not read Storm’s Interlude. You’ve three sentences to tell us about Storm’s Interlude. What would they be?
Storm’s Interlude is a book about dreams, from Native American vision dreams to dreams of being cancer-free to dreams of a life free from abuse. Storm dreams of Rachel for three nights before she arrives on his ranch to home nurse his twin sister. Rachel dreams of finding love that is accepting and not condemning.
Where does Storm’s Interlude fit into in the romance subgenres? And what heat level would you give it?
My story is a contemporary romance with a spicy, or mid-level, heat range.
Writers don’t always read the same genres that they write. What about you?
I read all heat levels, but prefer spicy to bone-melting hot. I also read a little erotica—heavens, don’t tell my grandkids—to learn how to write the mechanics of sex, the physicality of it. Then when I write a sex scene I can dribble in more heat while focusing on the characters’ emotions.
In Storm’s Interlude what have you named your heroine and hero?
Rachel, because I feel it’s a strong, yet feminine name. Storm, because of his emotions raging beneath the controlled surface. His twin sister’s name, Sunny, also carries a great deal of importance.
Do the names for characters just pop into your head as soon as you start a book?
Sometimes a name pops in and demands my attention. Often I check through online baby name sites or sites that list and give meaning to names relative to a certain country, like France or Italy, for example.
Yep, I use them, too but get sidetracked quite often! Were there any triggers in your life which led to the plotline for Storm’s Interlude?
I was angry when I started writing the book. In a major snit, really. I’d written a lovely sweet romance with an easy-going hero and many delightful secondary characters. I thought it was the best story. Everyone else saw it for what it was—poorly written. Still, I loved that book. I was fuming over its continual rejection as I took out my frustrations with my vacuum. I was working my way across my carpets, grumbling as I vacuumed. “I suppose if I’d written about the typical alpha male, everyone would have loved it. Or if I’d peppered it with sex, they’d have lapped it right up.” Oh, believe me, I was into a full-blown rant. “Well, I can’t write sex. I simply refuse to even try.”
My muse flitted onto my shoulder, blew on her nails and buffed them against my T-shirt. “Well, if you think you’re not good enough...” The hussy!
Just to show her, I put my vacuum away, powered up my laptop and wrote the most bizarre opening scene I could think of—and my agent loved it. I was into chapter four when I realized I liked the characters, so I kept on writing. In three months it simply wrote itself. I merely took dictation. I gave my heroine diabetes because my husband has the disease. We’ve learned it’s manageable through proper diet and exercise, and I wanted to relay that fact to readers.
Are you biased towards any particular character in Storm’s Interlude because of personality traits you’ve given him/her? Or do you have no real favourites?
I love Noella, the cook, housekeeper, substitute mother and moral compass of the household. She sees everything and voices her opinion, after which she says, “...But I say nothing.” She becomes a touching comedic relief to some serious situations like Sunny’s cancer.
What about settings? Do you tend to write about places you’ve been to…or just ones you would like to visit?
Both. I’m currently writing a series of romantic suspense set in Paris and other European cities that I’ve visited. I’ve never been to Texas, but always dreamed of going there. Storm’s Interlude is set in the Texas hill country.
I’ve been to places in the states but never Texas yet, either. I’d love to visit sometime though, but let’s get acquainted with more of ‘Storm’s Interlude’. Here’s the blurb.
Nurse Rachel Dennison comes to Texas determined to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. What she isn’t counting on is her patient’s twin brother, Storm Masterson. Despite her initial attraction, Storm has two things Rachel can’t abide: a domineering personality and a fiancée. Half Native American, with the ability to have "vision dreams," Storm dreams about Rachel for three nights before her arrival. Both are unprepared for the firestorm of emotions their first encounter ignites. Ultimately, it is Rachel’s past—an abusive, maniacal ex-boyfriend—that threatens to keep them apart…and Storm’s dreams that bring them together again.
Now here’s a little excerpt for us today. Vonnie adds a little aside here: Can you tell I was sneering when I wrote this bizarre beginning?
Someone swaggered out of the moonlit night toward Rachel. Exhausted from a long day of driving, she braked and blinked. Either she was hallucinating or her sugar levels had plummeted. Maybe that accounted for the male mirage, albeit a very magnificent male mirage, trekking toward her. She peered once more into the hot July night at the image illuminated by her headlights. Sure enough, there he was, cresting the hill on foot—a naked man wearing nothing but a black cowboy hat, a pair of boots and a go-to-hell sneer.
Well, well, things really did grow bigger in Texas. The man quickly covered his privates with his black Stetson. Rachel sighed. The show was evidently over. Should she stand up in her Beetle convertible and applaud? Give a couple cat calls? Wolf whistles? Maybe not.
She turned down the music on the car’s CD player. Sounds of crickets and a lonely bullfrog in the distance created a night time symphony in the stillness of this isolated stretch of country road. Lightning bugs darted back and forth, blinking a display of neon yellow glow.
The naked man strode toward her car, and Rachel’s heart rate kicked up. Common sense told her to step on the gas, yet what woman wanted to drive away from such a riveting sight? Still, life had taught her to be careful. She reached into her handbag and extracted her chrome revolver. Before he reached her car, she quickly slid her gun under the folds of her skirt. Just let him try anything funny—I know how to take care of myself.
Both of his large hands clasped his hat to his groin. His face bore annoyance and a touch of chagrin. “I need a ride.” By his bearing and commanding tone of voice, she guessed the man was used to giving orders and having them followed.
Her eyes took a slow journey across his face. Even in the moonlight, she could see traces of Native heritage. His shoulder-length ebony hair, too long for her tastes, glistened against his bronzed skin. Proud arrogant eyes sparked anger.
Because Rachel believed in indulging herself, she allowed her eyes to travel over his broad shoulders, muscular chest and tight abdominal muscles. She saw a thin trail of dark hair starting below his navel, knowing full well where it ended, and fought back a groan. Her eyes slid back up to lock on his. “You need a pair of pants, too.” Knowing her voice hummed with desire, she cleared her throat, hoping the naked man hadn’t noticed.
He looked up at the sky for a beat. “Just my freakin’ luck! A birthday party gone bad, and now I’m bein’ ogled by some horny kid with damnable blue eyes.”
What the heck was wrong with her eyes? She quickly glanced in her rearview mirror and saw nothing amiss. She narrowed those “damnable blue eyes” and sneered. “Look, buster, I’m not the one prancing around Texas naked as a jaybird. I’ll have you know I’m hardly a kid.” She glanced down at the black cowboy hat. “And, furthermore, stop hiding behind that big ol’ Stetson. From what I saw, a French beret would do the job.”
There, let the arrogant fool stew on that while he struted back to whatever rock he crawled out from under. She slammed her car in gear and sped off.
She swore she wouldn’t look in her rearview mirror. Nope, she would not look. Like a magnet emitting a powerful homing signal, her eyes slowly slid to the glass surface. He was standing where she’d left him, his Stetson tilted back on his head, his hands fisted on his narrow naked hips and his mouth moving. He was no doubt cussing her out.
(What do you think? Did she turn around and go back?) - Aha! The all telling answer here so…I’m going to leave that for our readers!!!
Here’s the personally speaking bit! I understand you met your husband online. Can you share that experience?
I’d love to. I’d been alone for over 10 years when I thought I’d give match dot com a try. I should preface that by saying I’ve always been a magnet for the absurd. My ad on the personal site brought all the weirdoes out of the dark creepy cyber-corners, let me tell you. Oh, the stories I could share (slaps forehead). Most of their crazy emails I never answered. Then one day Calvin sashayed into my mailbox on a jazzbeat and a smile. We were married a year to the day of his first email. He’s a published author, too, so we have much in common.
That’s a lovely success story Vonnie. So, what’s your favourite family thing to do?
My 6 grandchildren are growing up too fast. I love watching them in their various activities when we get to see them. We live in southern Virginia and my grandchildren are in Indiana and Maryland. Even so, I love going to their dance recitals, bowling and wrestling tournaments, football and baseball games.
Yep! They don’t stop growing and wait for us to catch up, so we don’t want to miss anything about them. (says the grandmother of exactly 1 12 week old granddaughter.)Let’s find out what you’re currently working on now, and what can we look forward to.
I have two projects under contract with The Wild Rose Press. One is a novella or short story for the Honky Tonk Hearts series, entitled Those Violet Eyes. It, too, is set in Texas and involves an ex-Marine who lost part of a leg in Iraq. I also have a romantic suspense set in Paris, Mona Lisa’s Room—an older heroine, a young government agent and vengeful terrorists. The second in the series is Rain is a Love Song and is set in Paris and Budapest. As soon as I finish here I’m writing a scene with my heroine doing a pole dance in a Budapest strip club, much to the shock, enticement and annoyance of my hero. I can’t wait to see his reaction...
If readers want to find out more about Vonnie Davis or her writing use the following links:
Follow me on Twitter at @VonnieWrites
The buy links for Storm’s Interlude are:
TWRP -- http://bit.ly/rcCIMa
Amazon -- http://amzn.to/pkkcLq
It’s fabulous to have you here today, Vonnie. And you know what? Since I’m probably 7 hours ahead of you in Scotland I’m going to pop over and see my grandkid right now for a wee whiley but….I’ll pop in and out all day long!
One lucky comment pulled out of the 'very random' hat today will receive a pack of my 'specially created for you' Scottish Castle cards and gift tags! So leave a way of contacting you in the comment box, please.
See you soon and have a nice day.