March 27, 2011

THE THINGS I NEVER KNEW

Hugs to you, Anna Kathryn, for haivng me here on your lovely blog. One of the things I'm enjoying on this bumpy road to publication is the Sisterhood of Romance Writers. The support and encouragment shared, to say nothing of the knowlege, is phenominal.

I began writing short stories in the fourth grade and knew then I wanted to be a writer. As time progressed, decades actually, I worked on my writing skills here and there, but I had no clue. No clue that writing entailed so much more. And that the media—movies and TV—were erroneously portraying the life of a writer.

You’ve seen them, I’m sure.

Let’s discuss the scene where a writer is disappointed with representation by his/her agent. The writer simply ditches the lazy agent and hires another. Uh-hunh. And what planet is this writer living on?

When I was seeking an agent, I was rudely ignored or coldly criticized. “Make your submission shine,” one agent encouraged on his website. I hired a professional proofreader to edit my manuscript. “Use this grade of paper,” he further ordered. I made a trip to Office Max. I jumped through all the hoops he listed on his fancy-schmancy website.

And what did I get in return for my “shining” manuscript? A two inch slip of paper, cut crooked with the zeroxed remark that my manuscript “did not meet the needs of his agency at this time,” but, hey, he wished me the best of luck anyway. I queried thirty-nine agents before I was offered representation. Silly me, at the beginning of the process, I thought one chose an agent like one chooses a car mechanic or a plumber. I had no clue. For sure, it sure wasn’t like that in the movies.

Then, we have a movie scene where a writer goes for the mail and opens an envelope from a publisher with an acceptance letter and a fabulous advance check. Right. We all know that ain’t happenin’. Large advances are saved for politicians and celebrities, like Keith Richards who received 7 million from Little-Brown for his autobiography. For the newbie writer, expect an acceptance email and zero advance. Nada. Zip. Not even a dickey bird, whatever that is.

Do expect the publisher to ask how YOU will promote and sell your book. Another reality check for me, folks. “Doesn’t the publisher do that kind of thing?” I asked my agent. I heard her topple out of her office chair in laughter. Oh dear, something else to learn. I mean, I was still struggling with point of view. Now I had to morph into a marketing maven as well.

I reluctantly entered the world of self-promotion. Suddenly my days, once joyously filled with writing, were now split into segments of self-promotion, creating a platform, blogging and, in my remaining time, writing.

Still, for all that, I love what I do. I create worlds and characters and sensual scenes. I dribble in humor and mesh it all together with human emotion. No, a writer’s life is nothing like the movies. It’s real and vibrant and imperative for the health of my soul. And so, I write…

My debut novel, Storm’s Interlude, set in the hill country of Texas, will be released by The Wild Rose Press on July 15th.


Here’s an excerpt:

Rachel ducked into a little store, feigning interest in the rack of jeans. Her eyes filled with tears. Okay, she’d give herself five minutes to fall apart before she pulled herself together and showed that lying, cheating jerk he was pond scum.

Lies. It was all a lie. All of it. Storm was not through with Pilar. The woman was still wearing a diamond, a big flashy diamond. She sneered as she shoved hangers of jeans back and forth. He’d lied to her, and she’d fallen right into his arms. She rolled her eyes heavenward. He’d told her he loved her, and she’d believed that, too. What a moron! What a sap! What a pitiful…

“Can I help you? We’re having a great sale today. Clothes have been jumping off the racks.” A cheery, pregnant salesgirl with spiky bleached blonde hair, wearing a nametag that read, “La Keesha,” saddled up to her side. “Oh honey, don’t cry. Believe me, I know how hard it is to grow out of your regular clothes, but the baby’s worth it.” She placed a hand on Rachel’s abdomen. “You gotta embrace the bump, girlfriend.”

“Oh, I’m not pregnant.” She sniffed and rummaged in her purse for a tissue. “I didn’t realize this was a maternity clothing store.” She wiped her eyes, looked at the girl, then started sobbing in earnest.

The strange salesgirl wrapped her arms around Rachel. “Mercy me!” La Keesha patted Rachel’s back. “What is it?”

“He…he lied to me.” More tears flowed. Sobs racked her body.

“Men. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em,” La Keesha added, with the appropriate amount of female commiseration. “But we can cut their peckers off.”

“Rachel? Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Storm tugged on her arm. “I saw you come in here.”

She whirled around to face the man who had shattered her heart. “Liar! You told me you broke off your engagement.”

“I did, but…”

“She’s still wearing her diamond.” She swiped angrily at an errant tear.

He glanced at La Keesha who clearly wasn’t going to give them any privacy. “Do you mind?” he barked.

“I’m here for moral support.” The salesgirl laid a protective arm across Rachel’s shoulders. “I’m not leaving unless my new BFF wants me to.”

“What the hell is BFF?”

La Keesha sighed as if he were the most stupid man on the face of the earth. “Best friend forever.”

Rachel leaned into her. “Yea, La Keesha knows how I feel, you lying, cheating mass of horse shit.”

He placed fisted hands on his narrow hips. “Horse shit?”

“You heard the lady.” La Keesha pointed a finger at him. Two more pregnant women ambled over, their expressions questioning.

“Rachel, can we please go someplace private so I can explain.”

“Explain? You mean explain how it was a lie when you told me this morning, in your bed I might add, that I was yours and would be yours forever? Or perhaps you could explain to me how you could promise, when we were having hot standing-up-against-the-wall sex last night, you would never allow another woman to touch you? Maybe you want to claim that was a figment of my imagination.” Her voice rose with agitation. She was trembling, trembling and crumbling into a thousand pieces.

“Hunh,” La Keesha chimed in. “Don’t see how one could imagine having standing-up-against-the-wall-sex. Fanaticize about it, sure, but you’d definitely know if you were havin’ it or not.” The two pregnant onlookers were joined by another.

“Then today I see you all but kissing Pilar here in the mall, tucking her hair behind her ear, running your hand up her arm and leaning in to whisper to her.”

“I can explain all that.” His eyes darted to the group of pregnant woman who’d moved a step closer to him, whispering and sneering.

Rachel wiped her nose and waved the hand clutching a wadded tissue. “I suppose you can explain how you could introduce me as your sister’s nurse!” There was a collective gasp among the eavesdropping women, as if they’d all sucked in air at the same time. Eyes swept from Rachel to Storm.

“Suppose you stop being childish about this!” More sucking in of air by the pregnant mob. Two called him foul names. One asked if he’d like to sing soprano for the rest of his life.

“Childish?” Rachel drew a fist and socked him in his rock-hard stomach, nearly breaking her wrist. “I’ll show you childish.”

He grabbed her by the elbow and looked at La Keesha. “You got someplace private we can talk? A dressing room maybe?”

“Oh no! I’m not letting you use my dressing room. What if you end up having up-against-the-wall—”

“For God’s sake!” Storm tightened his hold on Rachel’s elbow and all but dragged her out of the store. “I’ll explain everything to you as soon as we get one damn private moment alone,” he vowed through clenched teeth.

I'd love it if you delightful readers would stop by my blog sometime. I blog at http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com/


The book trailer for Storm's Interlude is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvzCgLEgTL0  

8 comments:

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Vonnie. Thanks for being my guest author today. Great post. Always good to pass on the things we've learned along the way.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love your voice. You definitely have kickass characters and they sound fun to read.

You're right - the writing business can be difficult, but the rewards are worth it. I tried to stop writing after a disappoint once, it didn't last long before words were back flowing onto the computer. Yep - he rewards and hard work are worth the dedication. :)

Nice to meet you today, Vonnie.

Sarah Grimm said...

LOL Love the excerpt, Vonnie!

Oh, to pull out the mail and find an acceptance letter and check...wouldn't that be fantastic?! I also like how in the movies, no matter what type of book the character wrote, it's an automatic best seller and they're immediately rolling in cash. Yeah. Right. :)

marybelle said...

Great to 'meet' you. I a headed over to your blog now.

marypres@gmail.com

Vonnie Davis said...

Thank you ladies. Writing is so much more than telling a good story, it's a matter of taking control of our writing careers and moving them forward, which requires an internal strength. But since we write about strong women, we know we've got that same strength within us.

I'm proofing/editing my next novel, a romantic suspense set in Paris. My CP told me I had her TDTL, and when I reread the opening chapters, I realized she was right. Yikes! Now she's strong and take charge, just the way I like my heroines. The learning curve in writing has a long, continual arc.

Tess said...

Great blog, Vonnie!!! And loved the excerpt!

DL Thomas said...

Ok..to start, I am just a reader, so I don't know everything that an author goes through. However, I was already sure that all of you put a lot of time and effort into your writings. But, WOW! I can honestly say that I thought your publisher would promote your books! You guys just have keep developing one skill after another. Hmmm..wonder if there is a job in there somewhere for me...lol (voluntary of course). ;-)

I applaud all authors even more and definitely admire you more.

Thank you once again for all your hard work and talent.

Deb
mammy4423@yahoo.com

Leah St. James said...

Hey, Vonnie - great post! I had those same misconceptions about a writer's life. And like you, I now spend about half my "writing" time on promotional activities. But I've heard the best promotion for a new author is publishing a second book, then a third, so we have to keep focused!

Loved your excerpt too! You really brought your characters to life. :-)