Greetings! I’m pleased to introduce you to author Vonnie Davis, a fellow author and part of the The Wild Rose Press family.
Vonnie: Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Linda. I’m kicking off my promotional tour of two projects releasing within 9 days of each other. I may be a blithering idiot before it’s all over. If you see me around Thanksgiving, don’t ask what my name is. I might not know.
You mentioned my slogan or mantra. I enjoy writing about all forms of love and try not to limit myself to simply the heroine/hero’s emotions in my stories. I also include the love of family and friendship love. Love of country also factors in some of my plotlines. If one of my characters has a strong belief system, I mention that, too. All emotions blooming from various kinds of love factor into character development, I think.
Linda Joyce (LJ): What do you do to “stop to start?” Do you have a process to transition to writing?
Transition into writing? If I am breathing, I’m writing — either mentally or with tapping fingertips. When I retired, I hung-up the tailored clothes of a technical writer and wrapped the feathered boa of a romance writer around my neck. I am writing or doing self-promotion almost all the time.
LJ: Do you have a writing schedule? Are you able to keep to it?
I get up, feed the cat, make coffee and check emails. I visit some blogs and put my tweets on Hoot Suite, or is it Suit Hoot? Social media confuses me sometimes. *grins* After breakfast, I putter around the house for an hour and then get dressed. My actual writing time begins around eleven. I write until I’ve got dinner ready for Calvin and me around seven. The only time I veer from my schedule is when we’re traveling. Our grown children and grandchildren live in different states and countries from us, so anytime we can go visit, we do. And I have to tell you, NO one can give hugs like my grandchildren. They are my gifts of sunshine.
LJ: What writing books are on your shelf?
When I started writing, I had no clue about the power of point of view. My first book, which will never see the light of day, was written in omniscient point of view. If six people were in the room, by golly I told you what all six people were thinking. Through studying point of view books such as Alicia Rasley’s Power of Point of View and Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, I learned how to show my readers what all six people are thinking via body language and dialogue while still staying in one character’s head. Mastering point of view can really make your stories come to life…and our characters more appealing.
I love the versatility of words and envy writers who can use them in unexpected ways. Although my understanding vocabulary is large, I tend to use the same words over and over when I write. Reading Sandford Lyn’s Writing Poetry From the Inside Out helped me utilize the beauty of words.
Stacia Kane’s Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet helped me let loose of my rigid sexual hang-ups with regards to writing. I’d struggle through a paragraph in an intimate scene and then delete it, almost as if I couldn’t bear to put such language on my computer screen. I mean, I’m a grandma, for heaven’s sake! Yes, I’d peppered my story with sexual tension, but could I allow myself to let loose and write an entire sex scene? When I talked to Calvin about it, my wise husband said, “Write what you enjoy reading. Write it for yourself, and others will enjoy it, too. Seems simple enough. Right? ACK!
So, after a bit of self-analysis and pulling a few “keepers” off my bookshelves to see what I enjoyed about this scene or that, I put on my big girl panties and wrote a scene. Slowly I’m learning I enjoy taking sex less seriously and often write my sensual scenes flavored with a touch of humor. Not always, but often. Story-by-story, I’m learning what works for me as a writer. Stacia Kane’s book helped me pick and chose what worked.
I also have Donald Maas’s Writing the Breakout Novel. It is my least favorite, I must confess. I find it too focused on Donald, the agent, and less helpful to me, the needy writer.
LJ: Which have been most valuable?
I’ve mentioned the books on point of view. Another important one is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Akerman and Becca Puglisi. I have a bad habit of using the same words and phrases over and over, which has to be very boring for my readers. I often have to stop and study what I’ve written, asking myself how can I say this better? Different? More engaging? My thesaurus is always by my side and so is this emotional thesaurus. Writing emotions of fear, betrayal and suspense are a real challenge. I need the extra help—truly.
LJ: You have two books coming out, right?
LJ: How long did it take you to write Tumbleweed Letters? It’s a historical, correct?
Yes, Tumbleweed Letters is an historical novella, part of The Wild Rose Press’s Love Letters series where an unexpected arrival of a letter changes someone’s life. I think I spent more time in research than I did in actual writing. It took me thirty-three days to write the story. The little boy in the story reminds me very much of my oldest grandson when he was three. Nan Swanson was my editor for that project.
Tumbleweed Letters: When rancher and single father Cam McBride finds a letter tucked in a strip of cloth tied to a tumbleweed, he is captivated by the mysterious author. Finding a second tumbleweed letter further pulls him under the lonely writer’s spell. He needs a mother for his little boy and a wife to warm his bed. Could this mysterious woman fill his needs?
Sophie Flannigan is alone, scared, and on the run from a rogue Pinkerton agent. She spends her days as a scrub lady at Madame Dora’s brothel and her nights writing notes to the four winds. Her life holds little hope until a small boy lays claim to her and his handsome father proposes an advantageous arrangement.
Can these three benefit from a marriage of convenience, or will a determined Pinkerton agent destroy their fragile, newly formed bond?
LJ: How did you research details for Mona Lisa’s Room?
Calvin took me to Paris for a few weeks about five years ago. He wanted to show me where he lived and wrote during the year he lived in Paris on sabbatical. It was my first trip abroad, and I took hundreds of pictures. I hadn’t started writing fulltime yet, so I never dreamed many of the people and sights I saw would wind up in a romantic suspense trilogy about a ruthless band of terrorists.
As I wrote, I poured over our picture albums of our time there. I also used a site called vpike where you can plug in an address anywhere in the world and will get a picture of the building. You can then pan the camera around in a large circle to get a feel for the look of the neighborhood. A great tool for writing about an area you can’t visit in person. I researched the security I’d have to pass through to enter the Louvre. I also Googled information on terrorists, weapons and fighting. If Homeland Security ever comes knocking at my door, I’ll have a lot of explaining to do, won’t I?
In naming my band of villains, I researched names of terrorist groups. One was The Black Hand and another was The Red Death. I combined the names and came up with The Red Hand.
My son is a fourth degree black belt, so I had him read and critique my fighting scenes. I could hear him laughing from three-hundred-miles away.
Slowly it all came together. Johanna Melangaro is my editor for this project. Book two of the series is Rain is a Love Song. Book three, which I’m writing now, is Jazzbeat of Surrender.
LJ: Do you have a method for switching between genres?
No, I read the last chapter I wrote and then keep on writing. My mind flits around a lot. I can be eyeball deep in an historical and think, oh, I need to add this to the first chapter of my contemporary. Me thinks I have ADD. *chuckles*
LJ: What do you do to move past writing blocks?
I have 3 or 4 stories going at once. When I hit a tough spot in one, I open up another project and work on it while my mind pushes and tugs at the blocks in the first story, so my creativity can flow through again.
LJ: Of your cast of characters, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?
Win, my hero in Those Violet Eyes, is a wounded vet who touched my heart. I love that he never gives up. This story is part of The Wild Rose Press’s Honky Tonk Hearts series. Ladies, if you love cowboys, check out Honky Tonk Hearts. Just sayin’…
LJ: What do you think readers would be surprised to know about you?
I was one of those typical “Grandma Goes to College” stories. My son, the karate dude, encouraged me to take some college courses as a way of battling my depression after my divorce. He was thinking a course or two on creative writing. You know, to ease into things. Instead, I enrolled as a full-time student with a double major. So I worked fulltime at night and went to college fulltime during the day and slept whenever I could. It was the best time of my life.
I took a course in Theatre and wrote a play as my semester project. The professor loved it, and several students acted it out for Lunchtime Theatre at Penn State. I was overcome, seeing characters I’d written come to life in front of clapping and cheering people. I cried. Sobbed like a baby…yup…I am an emotional soul. The kids hugged me afterward. It was one of those unforgettable moments.
Since then, I’ve written many comedies for non-profit theater groups. But none have compared to that first play. I guess in all things, we remember our first.
LJ: Do you feel it’s beneficial to be married to another writer?
Calvin and I met online. Match dot com, can you believe it? Two old fogies looking for love online. Yes, being married to a fellow writer is wonderful. Calvin understands when I talk to my characters in my sleep. He doesn’t mind the hours I spend at my laptop. He’s a great help around the house so I can keep working. We do read each other’s work to offer corrections and suggestions—and then ignore the offered advice completely. LOL
LJ: What’s next for you?
I’m doing edits with my editor on my second entry into the Honky Tonk Hearts series. This one is called Back Where You Belong and touches on school bullying. I love the heroine in this story. Just love her. I’m also editing a short story for Still Moments Publishing and rewriting a book at the request of my agent. Oh, and I’m trying my hand at a paranormal, too. Did I mention I think I have ADD???
Happy Reading and Writing!