Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Small Town Blog Featuring Alison Henderson

I have a special guest today--Alison Henderson. We met when we were both writing for The Wild Rose Press and now both contribute to the Roses of Prose Blog. Alison lives near Carmel, CA with her husband OG and is enjoying her new life of retirement.
Since Vonnie was kind enough to host me today, it seemed only fitting to talk about writing humor. While I’ve never come up with anything as hilariously original as Effie in her pink pelican baffies, I do love to write a little humor into all my stories, and my latest release, Small Town Christmas Tales, is no exception. The book is a collection of ten short holiday romances, rather like ten mini Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, each set in a fictional small town in a different state. Each story has a different tone, but I tried to tuck a bit of humor into most of them. Here are a couple of examples.
“Mistletoe and Misdemeanors” opens like this:
     This was the last place she expected to spend Christmas. Callie Rayburn glanced around the puke-green cinder block cell in the basement of the Hawthorne Springs, Missouri police station. In jail for Christmas. It figured, given the downward spiral her life had taken during the past twenty-four hours.
     A tear slid down the side of her nose. She dashed it away with the back of her hand and snuffled. She didn’t even have a tissue because that jerk Billy Freeman had taken her purse. What kind of town let a pubescent little snot like Billy Freeman wear a badge and carry a gun? It seemed like just last week she’d babysat him and his obnoxious younger brother to earn enough money to buy her dream dress for the senior prom.
     Another tear followed the track of the first. If Billy Freeman was old enough to be a police officer, what did that make her? Ancient. Over the hill. Thirty years old with nothing to show for it. Two days ago she’d been living the high life in St. Louis with a job, a cute apartment she couldn’t afford, and a future. Today—zip, nada, bupkis. And now, to tie the whole thing up with a big fluffy bow, she’d been arrested by Billy Freeman for breaking and entering. Un-freaking-believable.

The humor in “No Room at the Inn” is situational and character-driven, rather than attitude and language-based. In that story, a stranger shows up at the heroine’s inn in the middle of an ice storm with a pregnant Goth teenager in tow. They’re on the run from three Jersey mobsters, but the inn is fully booked for the holidays. Fortunately, as the heroine notes, “No way was she going to put a carpenter named Joe and a pregnant girl named Maria in her barn on Christmas Eve because there was no room at the inn.” Even though they look and sound like extras from The Sopranos, the Wise Guys turn out to be more like the Three Stooges, and ultimately all ends well.

 If you’re in the mood for a little holiday fun, I invite you to check out Small Town Christmas Tales: Ten Short Holiday Romances, available in paperback and ebook exclusively at Amazon. To see more, click here.
Thanks for visiting with me today, and happy holidays!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lionesses Don't Lose Sleep Over the Opinions of Sheep by Vonnie Davis

I've just read this awesome blog by Kristen Lamb. Wooza!!! My neck hurts from all the nodding I did as I read it. Heck, I even used a statement of hers for the title of my post. I'm telling all of you, who write, you have to read it. You. Must.

In short, Kristen Lamb is telling us to stop belittling ourselves. To own our dreams and proclaim them. To stop being afraid of saying--shouting from the rooftops, even--I'm a good writer and I want to be a best seller. A man would do it. Why can't we? Stop being so humble, so insecure about our wants, so prone to put it on the back burner while we see to the needs of everyone else.

I'll admit, while I get her point, I was raised in the generation of "self-praise stinks." So, for me to say I'm a good writer goes against my upbringing, even though I write for the biggest publisher in the world. I want to be a best seller, but putting that out there seems quite ballsy to me. For one, I'm much time do I have left to do this? Besides, can an old broad appeal to a younger audience?

I've published nine books, six or more novellas, and one short story. I'm working on a contract for three more books and there's talk of extending my paranormal series by two more books, depending on sales. I've accomplished this in five years. Oh, let's not forget the nervous breakdown I had the day one of my books released. I had promo and thirteen days to finish another book for another publisher. I was writing fourteen hours everyday. It took me a year to get off the nerve pills. Firing my agent helped, too.

Okay, so maybe I won't proclaim the I wanna be a best seller mantra. But I will claim I'm a writer, a prolific writer, an above average writer. Click on the link above and read the post. It's fabulous.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What My Street Team Means to Me

I had three goals when I set up my street team. I wanted it small, so I could manage it without an assistant. I wanted us to become close. And I wanted them to support me in my writing career.

I have 108 members in my group of Vixens. Many authors have well over 200 members. I tell my awesome ladies stories about the crazy things Calvin and I do. We laugh together online. I tell them when I'm stressed with schedules and deadlines and stories that have halted. And they encourage me. I ask them their opinions on a character or a scene, and they give me their thoughts. I trust their judgment. I love them to death.
We have a mascot and voted on a name for him--Magnus. Our Magnus appears in book three of the Highlander's Beloved, BEARING IT ALL. I loved writing about him, no doubt because my Vixens had named Ronan's bear.
My Vixens tweet for me, post to Facebook, and attend all my book release parties. They know how to add their own brand of fun. Some are authors and some are readers, but we all enjoy our man candy and share it when we can. I'm lucky to have each one of my girls.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ashley York, A Hardcore Romantic

I've got a special guest to share with you today--Amazon Best Selling Author, Ashley York, who pens books and novellas of Medieval Romance and Intrigue.

Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? She has a new novella releasing today and, lucky us, we get to hear about it hot off the ebook presses. Here's her blurb:

Outcast and alone, Thomasina MacDonell is hell bent on finding her brother, the only person who can thwart their father's latest scheme to offer her as payment for his gambling debts. Disguised as a lad, she defiantly sets off on foot to locate him—never expecting to find a handsome, Irish warrior riding her beloved horse. The warrior's offer of help and unsolicited advice on how to be manlier sparks an intimate desire to reveal her more feminine side.
Rejected by the love of his life, Sean O'Cisoghe wants simply to return home and heal his broken heart. When a young "lad" steals the horse out from under him, he discerns the spirited woman may be in way over her head against her ruthless father. Finding her brother while keeping her would-be betrothed at bay, Sean must confront the fact that Thomasina has stolen his heart. Will Norman soldiers out for his blood and shifting clan alliances cut short their growing passion?
Sean had expected her to struggle which was why he had her arm tucked between his body and hers, and her other arm held tight to her side. What he had not expected was to be so affected by her. Alarm bells were sending waves of regret—and overwhelming desire—coursing through him. Not one of his finest moments. If she ever settled down, she’d certainly find his arousal as upsetting as her anticipated punishment. He had no plans to actually slap her bottom, he just wanted honest answers. He found a threat worked best.

“So before I land my hand on yer arse since ye’re so deserving—oof.” Her elbow poked into his stomach, knocking the air out of him. He pulled her closer in to him and raised his knees to keep her lodged there. “—how about ye try telling me the truth for once and then I can be on my way.”

“Ye whoreson! Who do ye think ye are? Let me go!” She continued her struggles.

Her tempting bottom wiggling from side to side was hard to ignore. He needed to disarm her and quickly. “What? Nae clearing of yer throat to sound like a lad?”

“Let me go.” She pulled her knees in and managed to plow into his groin. The pain excruciating. He reacted with a hard slap to her bottom. She stilled. He held his breath until the sharp pain lessened then yanked her legs out straight.

He adjusted her away from him to ease the pressure on his groin. She didn’t need to know specifically what she had managed to do. “Try that again and I’ll make ye sorry.”

“I’ll make ye sorry!” she hollered back at him.

He didn’t hide the smile. She remained motionless across his lap. Her delightful bottom at his disposal but he refrained from touching her.

“I’m not an idiot. I ken when ye’re lying to me and here I’ve done nothing but try to assist ye.”

“Assist me? Was that when ye insulted me? Told me I was girly?”

“Ye are a girl!”

“And is that what ye wanted me to tell ye?” She rolled back so she could look him in the face. “Is that why ye teased me mercilessly?”

“Nae! I wanted ye to remember to act like a boy, damn it! Ye kept slipping up! How could I take ye to the village with everyone seeing ye for what ye are? They’d have been all over ye like ticks on a dog.”

“Ye bastard!” She started kicking her legs with wild abandon. “Let me go. Let me go.”

With one arm wrapped around her narrow waist, he stood, holding her like a sack of corn. Placing her away from him, he held each arm in a firm grip against her side. She hunched forward, breathing heavy from the exertion. And all he could think about was covering her mouth with his, of tasting her lips, her skin, of running his fingers through her tangled mane. He was near exploding with desire for her.

“Stop this! I deserve to ken the truth.” Sean’s voice sounded strained and he prayed she wouldn’t realize why. “Thomasina!”

It was a beautiful name. It fit her perfectly.

Closing her mouth, Tommy looked to be getting herself under control. Her eyes on him, she shook as if overcome by his audacity. Mayhap he should have taken to paddling her as she so deserved but he feared he’d feel worse than she would. Beating a woman was not in his nature. That one spank had been an unexpected reaction to pain. Slapping her bottom was the farthest thing from what he wanted to do with it.

“Truth!” he groaned aloud. “Put me out of my misery.”

She looked surprised at his outburst then took a shaky breath. “Yea! Ye deserve the truth.”

“And do ye ken the truth?” Sean leveled his gaze. “I dunna need any more pretenses here. Not now.”

Not when his body yearned to be betwixt her legs as he pounded into her, receiving his need, answering with her own passion. She had no idea. She would have no idea. He kept his gaze fixed on her face despite the heaving breasts and the sweat trickling down her neck into places he’d like to follow with his tongue. 

Connect with her online at:
Twitter: @ashleyyork1066

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Feeling For That Opening Hook

Don't you love it when the opening sentence or paragraph of a book grabs you by the throat? I do. We all know how important the first page of our manuscript is. It's do-or-die important. So, drop the reader into the action right away. Then go back and evaluate every word. Rewrite it until you've got an opening hook that keeps the reader's eyes glued to the page.

I've heard a few editors say they can tell from the first paragraph if they want to contract the book. Yoowza! Where's my file? Let me sharpen my opening hook?

Sometimes you get a visual of how you want a book to start. I did with my first published book, Storm's Interlude. I've gotten the rights back to it, revamped it, and altered the storyline a little. The book will be included in a romantic bundle from various romance authors, coming out in February. But I did not change the opening paragraph.

Someone swaggered out of the moonlit night toward Rachel Dennison. 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 and the full moon. Sure enough, there he was, cresting the hill on foot—a naked man wearing nothing but a tan cowboy hat, a pair of boots and a go-to-hell sneer.

Other times you put yourself into the character's head at the moment, feel her or his emotion and the opening line just smacks you. In fact, you make it the complete paragraph.
Her new neighbor was a man-whore.

The worst times are when you feel you have to give a bit of background to set the scene or describe a character. I have those times more than the ones above that I seem to luck into. This means writing and rewriting. Pouring through my thesauruses and synonym finder books, searching for the right word and, often it's the simplest word.

Kenzie Denune pedaled the bicycle harder, her thighs burning from the exertion. Thanks to a car that refused to start, she was going to be late fer her job interview at Iverson Loch Manor. Grunting and pounding from the shrubs ahead, near the road’s edge, snagged her attention.
Naked shoulders glistened in the afternoon sun. Back muscles bulged and undulated with every thrust. “Bloody hell. Come fer me. Come.”
In all of Mathe Bay in the Scottish Highlands, only one deep masculine voice had the power to raise the hair on her arms like this. A man with braided russet-colored hair that brushed broad shoulders inked with a bear’s claw marks, woven into an intricate tribal design—Bryce Matheson. Damn him to hell. Who’s he shagging in broad daylight? Out in the open, no less. Has he no shame?
There's a bit of confusion in this beginning and I love leading the reader on, if only for a few lines. In my current WIP about ex-SEALs, I did this...
Dustin Franks sat on the edge of the bed, gasping for breath as sweat poured off of him. His palms settled on his moist thighs and his chin rested against his collarbone.
“You went longer than you ever have. I was beginning to think you’d never finish.”
His gaze slowly shifted to hers. “You had me fired up.”
“I meant every word I said.”
He blotted the perspiration from his face and neck with a towel. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
His physical therapist rubbed her small baby bump. “No, you big worrier. You’re leaning less on me and the bar and putting more weight on the titanium calf and foot.” Rebecca handed him a cup of water. “Drink. You know the drill.”
They don't come easily. Or quickly. I often spend days on opening hooks to hone them to my satisfaction. Even then, the editor might change it. But it has to be good enough to grab her attention and make her want to read on. Or her pinky finger will edge toward that delete key.