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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Hammer, A Drill and A New Plot

Calvin's bedside lamp broke. The darn thing wouldn't stay turned on. Then in the middle of the night, the crazy thing would decide to pop on and scare the daylights out of us. So he went to Home Depot to buy a new socket, or whatever you call that round thing you screw the light bulb into. He was confident it would be an easy fix.

He went out to the garage shortly after breakfast. It didn't take long for the grumbling to start. Then the pounding of a hammer commenced. I shook my head. I could see a new lamp purchase in our future. There was more racket and the grumbling became rather colorful. Then, for some unknown reason, the electric drill roared to life. So did the cussing! When what sounded like a zillion lamps hit the garage floor, I knew his "easy fix" was done. Well, there was the whirl of the shop vac. He just left to go buy a new lamp--and I shudder to think what it'll look like. My tastes run to the coordinated. His to the cheap.

Still, I could identify with it all. I've had storylines like that. A bright idea popped into my head, got my creative juices flowing and then everything stopped. When I was awake, nothing worked. When I tried to sleep, ideas flitted through my mind only to be forgotten by morning.

Characters I thought were great turned out to behave one way in one instance and a different way in another. You know, bi-polar jerks. And I couldn't see it. My critique partners could point it out, but I was plowing ahead, oblivious to his or her inconsistencies. Then, whammo, it would hit me. This story is nothing but crap.

Or, as one truly good writer recently complained about her current WIP, it's like I've drawn the box, but there's nothing in it.

But there was something in mine...and it stunk...stank...ah...smelled like a complete rewrite.

This is why we need to know our characters before we begin--their pasts, their hurts, the reasons they react to things a certain way. And keep it consistent until we reach their character arc where we can show their point of personal growth and change...and no, it won't happen over night, but it will make them think about things, help them move three steps forward, even if they sometimes make two steps backward. None of us makes a complete, positive change overnight. We do it in steps and stages.

We also need to know how the story will end. What do you envision the ending scene as being? The ways your characters reach that point is your creativity at work. I can envision my ending scene of my current WIP. Now, how I'll reach that point will be the fun part or the agony. Perhaps that's what we should call the writing life--THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY.

Keep writing, folks. If it's junk, it's junk. Better a screen filled with gibberish, than a blank one. We can hammer a bad story into something readable. Or drill out the bad parts with our Delete Key. I've discovered the Delete Key is my best friend.

For a fun Christmas novella, think of purchasing SANTA WORE LEATHERS, the introduction to my firemen's "Wild Heat" series.

Book one of my "Wild Heat" series HOW TO SEDUCE A FIREMAN is available now.

For a dash of paranormal in your Scottish Highland romance, try book one of my contemporary "Highland Beloved" series, A HIGHLANDER'S OBSESSION.

Friday, November 21, 2014

When Someone Says to Me, I'd Like to Write a Book Someday...

We've all heard it. "I'd like to write a book someday." Or we've overheard others encourage a person, "Your life is so interesting, you should write a book." Well, maybe so, but who would buy it? That was cold, wasn't it? But the reality is editors have a shopping list of what they do and don't want. I had a phone conversation the other week with an editor of a Big Five.

* Paranormals are out. Time travel is still in if it has a great hook.
* Reunion stories are hot. My mind went to family reunions and slipped into incest and I didn't hear too much of what she said after that, because I was stuck in the "ick" factor. I'm guessing she meant high school or college reunions.
* Memoirs are hard sells unless you're already famous, which I'm not, so guess I won't write about the day I was flashed on my way to work or how a Jamaican dude grabbed me and said he wanted me for his wife back in America.
* Historical romances don't go over so well. That's funny, I've got gobs of them on my Kindle.
* Romances centered around motorcycle clubs are on her list.
* Secret babies. Aren't we using birth control now-a-days???

When she was through with her list, she told me what she wanted me to write. What my next series should be...setting...the whole she-bang. So much for writing the story of my heart. But you see, that's what writing has become--a business. And I have no problem with that. The publisher wants to make a profit...and so do I. Plus, I've never had a problem writing to spec and putting my own spin on it. In fact, I get a charge out of that.

So, when someone says to me, I'd like to write a book someday, I want to tell them the following:
* Know the market. What's hot today will be dead by the time you get your first book written and professionally edited.
* Know the length of book--or word count--publishers want for your genre. Don't write 165,000 word book, unless you've got the time to edit it down to 90,000 words, or less.
* Know the genre of your book. If it's a historical, vampire, romantic mystery, just how will the publisher market it? If it goes to print, what section of the store will it be shelved in?
* Don't use said tags. It angers me they're teaching them to kids in school. What a waste. Show who is talking with action beats.
* Learn point of view. If you don't know what that is, you aren't ready to start writing a book.
* Have your book edited...and NOT by your husband or sister who got all A's in English in school. What did they learn about POV, GMC, plot arc, character arc, plot holes and character development. I majored in English in college and didn't learn those things. Oh, the stories I could tell you about my first few terrible, awful, too bad-to-read books.
* Avoid use of "that" and "just" and "feel" and other repetitive words. Don't use see/saw, hear/heard, thought, felt and other words that "tell the action" instead of using vibrant words that "show the action." I use this thick synonym finder to pick just the right, visual inducing word.
* Don't make your characters TSTL (too stupid to live). Young writers do this to get a laugh. More seasoned authors roll their eyes and trash the book.
* Don't fall in love with your sentences, your book's title and your character's names. Your editor might make you change them. And they have that right. Six of my titles have been changed.
* Unless you are the RARE exception, don't expect an advance. Publishers are moving away from advances to larger percentages of royalties. I've written twelve books and only one came with an advance.
* Don't expect to give up your day job. For a book sold this year, some houses won't pay you the royalties until next year. Most wait three to six months. Sometimes I earn enough to buy a cup of coffee and other times, I earn enough to pay our property taxes. It takes a long time to build up an audience who automatically buys whatever you write.
* Learn to promote yourself. You will become a used car salesman of books. Expect to work harder at this business than you have at anything you've ever done. Expect to spend 2-3 hours a day in some kind of self-promo and in helping other authors and at least twice that much time, every day, writing. I'm at my computer from 9am until 1am, seven days a week. But I'm retired and the kids are grown. You may have babies to care for, but do write at least thirty minutes every day, so your mind gets used to that creative time.
* You will love this more than anything you've ever done.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

How's Your Tree Growing? by Vonnie Davis

We all know the factions of publishing. They are like the branches of an old tree growing in their own way, in their own shape and size. The WILD part is, each writer has his/her own tree. Unique. Shaped and pruned the way we want it or the way the winds of a writer's life blew and bent it.

Some of us have bounced around from small ePubs to mid-size publishers to the Big Five. Some of us enjoy the safety and familiarity of staying with a smaller publisher where the editors and owners know us--a version of the big fish in the little pond theory. Some of us want to see if we're good enough for one of the Big Five, so we work like fools to learn our craft to become the small fish in the big ocean. More and more are going their own way by publishing independently. A few are going a combination trail of self and traditional publishing.

Which is right?

Which is wrong?

Which is most productive to our creative souls and our wallets?

No one can answer those questions, but ourselves. Only we know what is best for us, what works for us. And, let's face it, sometimes we just don't know. We try one thing with little success. Then we try something else with slightly more success, but still less than we'd hoped. It takes us several tries to hit on the right path. And, you know, I think that's okay. It's all a learning process. Right? Few of us are overnight successes. This business requires hard work...and sacrifice...and time...and, often, tears of frustration. These are the branches of our tree.

I started out with an agent I've since let go. In four years I've been fortunate to go from a smaller ePublisher, that treated me well, to larger publishers, just to see if I could make the grade. So, I am taking a more traditional route which doesn't work for everyone. We each have our own path to travel...and for our own reasons. Sometimes, we backtrack. We find what we thought we wanted wasn't so great, after all. It just wasn't for us. Why? Because we're all different with varying temperaments. And that's just fine!

I write for HarperImpulse and Random House Loveswept. This works for me--for now. Something else might work twenty times better for you. Having different goals is important, but not as vital as constantly working to become better writers.

For the learning curve of a good writer is eternal...and I'm about a third of the way there. I figure I must have a slow-growing tree.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cover Reveal of A Highlander's Passion

Two of the wildest hearts in Scotland fight for their destiny in this searing-hot romance, sure to be devoured by fans of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series and Shelly Laurenston’s Pride Stories.

As a bear-shifter in a pack roaming the Scottish countryside, Bryce Matheson embodies brute force and untamed abandon. As a widower, he’s running scared. When Bryce attempted to open his scarred heart to another, she grew tired of waiting for him to state his intentions, and the unearthly beauty spurned him for someone who wasn’t worthy. But now that fate has conspired to set Kenzie Denune free once again, Bryce vows to finally win her love.

Kenzie is a witch who summons her powers to protect those too weak to care for themselves. After surviving an abusive husband, she swears off men—even men like Bryce, whose iron muscles make her knees weak, and whose piercing eyes fill her with longing. Her life’s purpose is to help others. However, dark forces have different plans for her gifts. To save herself, Kenzie must team up with the shifter who has always stirred her soul—and trust in a passion powerful enough to set her blood aflame.
This book releases from Random House Loveswept on April 6th.
If you haven't read Book One, THE HIGHLANDER'S OBSESSION, it's available now...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Golden Key Legacy by AJ Nuest

I'm so excited to announce the fabulous cover reveal for...
a fantasy romance serial novel from HarperImpulse

The Golden Key Legacy, Book I: A Furious Muse
~Available November 27, 2014~

Since the day of her birth, Princess Faedrah Austiere has been defined by he place within the kingdom. As the single heir to the half-blood gypsy king and his prophesied white queen, she is fiercely protected, shuttered inside an ivory castle and well-trained in the art of war. Yet neither her obligations as future queen nor the black infestation threatening her kingdom fail to hinder the mysterious pull of the antique armoire hidden in her parents' bedchamber. And stealing the golden key for a leap through time is the only way to confront the dark lord haunting her dreams.

One face. The image of one defiant, relentless woman has been stuck in Rhys McEleod’s head ever since he was old enough to paint her luscious curves on the canvas. But the day she walks into his life off the street—sexier than hell and itching for a fight—he’s not convinced she’s the same women he’s envisioned since childhood. That is, not until he spots the golden key around her neck—an object he’d never fully shown in any of his paintings.

Now if he could just persuade his lovely muse he’s not the enemy. Unless the elusive Faedrah Austiere learns to trust him, he’ll never have her in his bed—the one place he’s convinced she belongs.


The Golden Key Legacy, Book II: The Sacrifice
~Available December 18, 2014~

The second Faedrah Austiere walked into his life off the canvas, everything in Rhys McEleod’s world stopped making sense. Not only does her story sound like a Grimm’s fairy tale, evidently he’s been cast as the villain. If that isn’t enough, the mirror inside that old, beat up armoire at her uncle’s condo is supposedly a doorway to another world. Ever since the pathway opened, something inside him has seemed…off. If what his muse says is true, they are headed for an epic showdown, but he isn’t about to let her go. Nothing is more important than Faedrah’s protection, even if her parents refuse to accept him.  

Though certain their fates are bound by more than the golden key Princess Faedrah wears around her neck, it is paramount Rhys’ true identity be kept secret. Should news of his bloodline ever reach her kingdom, their entire quest to save her people could be lost. Their only hope to prove his loyalty is to steal the map to the dark lord’s Crystal Crypt. Yet her a plan endangers her beloved more than the accusations he faces in her kingdom and, to escape evil’s grasp, she and Rhys must take a leap of faith beyond her wildest imagination. 

The Golden Key Legacy, Book III: A Wizard Rises
~Available January 29, 2015~

The homecoming celebration held in honor of Princess Faedrah is fraught with perilous frustration. Her nightmares have returned thricefold and, to her horror, a horrendous blight has spread like a plague throughout the kingdom. Compounding her worries, Rhys’ arrival in her world has been welcomed with the exact horror-filled reaction she expected. Her beloved has been cast into the dungeons, and no amount of arguing with the king and queen will prove he’s her fated love.

Magical powers were supposed to be a gift, or so Rhys McEleod had always believed. Too bad the second he landed in Faedrah’s world the legacy he inherited slammed into his body like a weight. He’s got zero control and his constant visions of Faedrah fighting an evil entity aren’t helping. At least her parents made the right decision and stuck him away someplace safe. Until he can figure out his next move, prove himself an ally and uncover the clues to stopping Faedrah’s nightmares, he’s got no choice but to wait…and learn exactly what he’s become.

The Golden Key Legacy, Book IV: A Time of Reckoning
~Available February 26, 2015~

Rhys had one job to do. One measly errand that shouldn’t have been a problem, given the nature of his powers. But when an old enemy reappears, detailing the result of his actions, Rhys is forced to make a choice between a future with Faedrah or dying before his time. Frustrated and out of options, he agrees to her suggestion they to leap forward in time to the future…even though a good chance exists his powers will be nothing but a memory in his world. Flying blind on a wing and a prayer, they prepare to fight for everything they love against a wizard of insurmountable power.

Faedrah does her best to gather their closest allies. The sides are squared in a war to control the future of both worlds. With the stakes so high, only one advantage has been cast in their favor. The sigil of utmost protection inherent in Rhys’ signature. If not enough to thwart the evil awaiting at the Austiere gates, she could find herself imprisoned in the future, while her kingdom and all those she has sworn to protect are lost to the mists of time.

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