Friday, July 29, 2011

Author Interview: Vonnie Davis

A big, giant welcome to my friend and romance author, Ms. Vonnie Davis! Vonnie is here today as part of her virtual book tour to promote Storm's Interlude--a fabulous romance, complete with a sassy heroine and a muscular cowboy hero.

Enjoy the interview!!!

Your debut novel Storm's Interlude just released this month. Congratulations! Tell us a little about your journey to get to this point.

Someone asked me if my journey to publication was a walk in the park or a tiring jog over hot coals? I replied it was more like a roller-coaster ride. My family told me, when I first expressed a desire to write at the age of twelve, that I had no talent. I folded my dream and tucked it into that secret, yearning place of my heart where private dreams are warehoused. Every so often, I’d take the treasured dream out, unfold it and wonder. And like that long, slow, eerily quiet ride up the steep first hill of a giant roller-coaster, I kept asking myself could do it? Could I? Could I?

Two years ago, I finished my first book and was able to get an agent. Too bad we couldn’t get a publisher. I set the project and my wounded pride aside and started Storm’s Interlude on the 4th of July last year. The story just flowed, and I had it written in 3 months. Once my agent got around to reading it, she sent me a text saying she was “loving it.” Dawn read it in two days. We did two back-and-forth’s with Tract Changes before she felt it was ready to “shop out.”

Then the roller-coaster executed its first dip, leading to a wild ride of twists and turns. Dawn started shopping it out on a Monday to a list of publishers of varied sizes that we’d agreed upon. A small publisher sent a contract the following Monday. Dawn and I talked on the phone for over an hour about the pros and cons of their offer. I told her I was hoping we’d hear from The Wild Rose Press. Her reply? “If that’s the one you want, let me see what I can do.” Not only did she contact TWRP, but she also emailed all the publishers she queried and told them I’d been offered a contract, but that she’d hold me off from signing for two weeks to give other publishers a chance to offer. I thought at the time she was being very ballsy; I mean, I’m a nobody—and an unpublished nobody, at that. Almost all of them agreed to the two-week deadline. My nerves were a mess. What if no one wanted it? What if the first publisher got miffed because I was stalling on signing and rescinded their offer? Then I’d have nothing. I was living on Tums.

One week later, TWRP offered. So I had two contract offers in two weeks. I was ready to sign to end the angst, believe me. Dawn wanted me to wait—just to see. Calvin went to the drugstore for more Tums.

No more contracts were offered, but I did get the nicest rejection from an editor at Harlequin, who said she loved my characters and story. But since I wrote similar to Linda Lael Miller, she’d have a hard time convincing the acquisitions committee to take on another writer in the same vein. I cried. I mean, just the thought of Ms. Miller and me in the same sentence was overwhelming. I’m sure the lady was just being kind; I could never be in Ms. Miller’s league, but who wouldn’t love such a complement?

So from the time I typed “Chapter One” to the day I held the book in my hands exactly one year passed. One wild, exceptional, lovely year.

You recently had a book release party. How did that go? Any tips for writers who might be thinking about having their own event?

Our book release socials are something we do for all writers in our writers group here in Lynchburg. We have 4 published authors and several who publish in magazines. Our socials are nothing fancy. Everyone brings a dish. We eat, we laugh, we party and the author reads selections from the book. Someone from the local newspaper comes. Friends and family of the author are also invited.

Why romance?

Romance is what I read. It’s what I love. I love stories of hope, and that’s what every romance is—the hope that everyone can be loved exclusively, warts, phobias, cottage cheese thighs and all, by another person.

Any plans to write in another genre?

Have you been inside my mind lately? I’m a “what-if” kind of person. I have to see if I can write all forms of romance. Storm’s Interlude is a contemporary romance. I also write historical and romantic suspense. I’m doing research on werewolves and shapeshifters to try my hand at F,F and P’s (fantasy, futuristic and paranormal). Could I write women’s lit or young adult? I doubt it. I’ve spent so much time studying the tenets and expectations of romance, that I’d almost have to start over with studies on another genre’s form. Of course, one must never say, “Never.”

If your main characters, Rachel and Storm, could each say one thing to readers, what would it be?

Storm would tell you that dreams can come true.

Rachel would encourage you to turn every heartache and every adverse experience into an advantage. Be strong. Be a force to be reckoned with. I love strong female characters.

What's going on in your writing life right now? Anything upcoming or in the works?
This week I’m focusing on the 4 writers I mentor. Seems they’ve all sent me chapters to critique. Their timing isn’t always the greatest, but how are they to know when others need help, too. And face it, we all need help now and then.

I have a short story (38,000 words) under the critical eye of a senior editor. That one is a contemporary romance, involving a wounded vet from the Iraq War. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also have a novel going through the second layer of evaluation; an editor liked it and passed it onto her senior editor. Mona Lisa’s Room is a romantic suspense set in Paris. It’s the first of a trilogy in The Red Hand Conspiracy. The first book involves an older woman, a younger government agent and vengeful terrorists—and, of course, a few chuckles. Both editors tell us we should hear by mid-August, so, it is major nail biting time. Did I say keep your fingers crossed?

What do your kids and grandkids think of their mom/grandma being a published romance author?

My kids are proud; they know how long I’ve dreamed of doing this. I talked to my oldest son last night on the phone. “Mr-Uptight-Assistant-Middle-School-Principal” said he hadn’t worked up courage to read my book yet. Claimed that reading a sex scene written by his mother would be akin to incest. Of course I laughed. He knew I would.

Only 3 of my 6 grandchildren are old enough to read Storm’s Interlude. I did ask my twenty-one year old grandson, Mr-WildÅ„Crazy, to read a sex scene for his opinion. He read a few paragraphs and slid his eyes to mine. “Grandma, this is a side of you I’ve never seen. Gotta tell ya, gives me the willies.” Men! Go figure. And they say women are weak and squeamish.

I’d like to share the beginning of my novel, my hook

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 nighttime 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 strutted 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…
what do you think? Did she go back?

Buy links: -- Amazon. -- Barnes and Noble, NOOK version only. -- The Wild Rose Press

Visit my blog sometime.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Read For A Great Cause: Disaster Relief

I would like to thank Rhiannon for hosting Sarah and I today and for helping spread the word about our charity shorts. Please take a moment to learn about each natural disaster that our books benefit and how you can help by donating and getting a great read! Thank you!

When disaster strikes, there's a moment when we forget all boundaries. Geographic, political, and socioeconomic divisions fall, and there, for some of the most painful, beautiful moments in time, we are one.

Then—hour by hour, day by day, week by week—the vast majority of us lucky enough to do so will move on. As the headlines change our focus moves elsewhere, and save for the occasional media update, many of us don't look back.

Some, however, struggle to look ahead. Here's a glimpse at the staggering numbers and the broken realities affected residents of Alabama and Japan must face every day.

ALABAMA TORNADOES – April 27, 2011

The mile-wide F5 tornado that literally sliced the state of Alabama in half stayed on the ground for an astonishing 300 miles—a record-breaking distance, according to National Geographic. It also left a path of utter devastation in its wake, and recovery hasn't been easy, as evidenced by these facts reported by

• 25,081 families were denied FEMA insurance, including many whose homes had been wiped completely off their foundations. FEMA's reason? Insufficient damage.
• Following the April tornadoes, FEMA deployed 523 inspectors to the region. Together, they've inspected over 5,000 properties a day. That's a lot of destruction, folks.
• Of the $4 million in initial FEMA aid for Alabama, $3.1 million went for temporary housing alone.


A June 29 update from Red Cross Japan reveals the following sober statistics:
• 75,215 people from the three most affected prefectures are still living in shelters or other temporary housing. 7,427 are still missing, their loved ones fearing the worst.
• 119,776 claims for unemployment were filed between March 11 and June 8 in the three most affected prefectures.
• 97,183 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. 35, 514 have left the Fukushima prefecture, forced to start over with nothing.

You Can Help … Today

Authors Elaina Lee and Sarah Ballance, through the generosity of the Astraea Press charity program, are proud to announce 100% of profits from their novellas below will go toward Alabama and Japan Disaster Relief, respectively. To help raise awareness, every comment on their individual blogs or guest blog posts (including this one!) from July 12 through August 8 will double as an entry into a weekly drawing for a $10 gift e-certificate or a free e-book. Winners will be announced on their blogs and contacted via e-mail. As an additional token of appreciation for your support, if you have purchased either of their titles you are invited to contact Elaina or Sarah for a free gift (while supplies last).


Caylie Abrahms bad day gets worse when the teen brother she's responsible for proudly hands her a gift. Just wanting to show how much he appreciates all his sister does for him, Kyle steals what he believes is an ornate glass vase. The gift is anything but however, and now Caylie has to find the owner of an urn. Worst yet, she has to explain her dear brother stole someones loved one.

Against all odds she learns the urn belongs to Rick Marshall, her best friend from college, the man she'd poured her heart out to and been rejected by. She never thought she'd see him again, let alone have to hand him back his father in glass. Will her resolve remain strong in his presence, or will she suffer another broken heart?

HAWTHORNE Sarah Ballance mystery, romance BUY LINK BLOG

After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.

Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?

If you'd like to receive free promotional materials, please contact Elaina @ forthemusedesigns at gmail dot com or Sarah @ sarah at sarahballance dot com. Available while supplies last.