March 20, 2012

Wrestling & Writing with Vonnie Davis

Sarah, I’ve been waiting for today, eager to be a guest on your blog. Thanks for having me. To celebrate my visit here, I’m giving away a copy of Storm’s Interlude to one lucky commenter who fulfills the requirement listed below, so read on.

I come from a long line of wrestlers. I chuckle as I write that, but it’s true. My brother, nephew and my two sons all wrestled. Mike, my youngest, went to college on a wrestling scholarship and now coaches elementary age kids. His son also wrestles both for his school and on the Maryland Junior Terps exhibition team (grandma bragging alert needed here).

Consequently my rump has spent more hours on hard gymnasium bleachers than it cares to remember. Yes, I am a Wrestler Mom and proud of it! **wink** I’ve also read a gazillion romance novels as I’ve sat on those bleachers waiting for my son to wrestle. And my son still recalls how there was always a Snickers and a Mars bar tucked into his gym bag and a note of encouragement slipped between the laces of his wrestling shoes. Odd the little things kids remember.

Needless to say I love the sport.

Last night while rewriting some scenes, trying to make them less jerky and more fluid, I was also watching the PIAA Collegiate Wrestling Scholarships. One of my favorite commercials came on—author and screenwriter John Irving, ex-national wrestling champ, comparing writing to wrestling. Makes sense, doesn’t it? How often have we wrestled with our plots, our characters, our endings? For me, too often.

John Irving says you have to earn the ending. One earns it by learning the craft and then rewriting and rewriting.

How often have you read a book and marveled at how well the story flowed, how the descriptive imagery created a mental picture or how quickly you came to care about the characters? Drawing the reader in is not easy, yet it’s something I strive for, as do all writers.

Our characters have to be flawed, just as we all are, and yet likable. Three main tools for doing that are deep point of view, internal dialog and zippy verbal dialog.

Here’s a scene from a novella I have coming out June 27th, Those Violet Eyes.

Win is a veteran, having lost part of his leg and hearing in Iraq. He’s come back to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul and open a ranch for children with amputee limbs. Evie can’t wait to get out of Texas and works as a waitress at a honky tonk to earn “get away” money. Win has just started working there part-time as a cook. Kiera, who helps Gus run the honky tonk, tells Evie to go back to the kitchen to introduce herself to the new cook.


Evie charged through the swinging door to the kitchen and skidded to a stop. It couldn’t be. Although his back was toward her, there was no mistaking the height and broad muscled shoulders. This mystery nephew of Gus’s was the guy who’d remarked on her eyes. Her stomach did a little twitchy dance, nerves no doubt.

She ran her suddenly damp palms over her short skirt and cleared her throat. “Excuse me. Win?”

No answer.

She took a couple steps closer and noticed he was washing vegetables under a spray of water. “Win?”

No reply.

Evie rolled her eyes and stepped behind him, tapping him on the back. The metal strainer clattered in the sink and a blur of motion barely registered before steely hands gripped her forearms. Oh my God! In a flurry of movement, he snatched her off the floor and backed her against the stainless steel counter. Cold wet hands viced her arms. Her eyes snapped wide and the air whooshed from her lungs when his body slammed into hers.

Win’s eyes were narrowed, his breathing rapid through a clenched jaw and a vein bulged in his forehead. “Don’t do that.”

The man was every inch the warrior, every hard tensed inch. He held her mid-air, so close they were nearly eyeball to eyeball. As his gaze traveled over her face and awareness evidently crept in as to the sex of his attacker, several inches of his frame hardened even more.

Evie swallowed. Oh, good Lord.

He glared and his nostrils flared.

“I…I’m sorry, Win. I called your name, but…but you didn’t answer. I was only trying to get your attention.” Her lips twitched at the humor in the situation—hadn’t Keira told her the man lost part of his hearing? Evidently she’d startled him. Poor soul. She felt a portion of herself return. A portion she’d hidden for so long; that light-hearted part of her soul that teased and cajoled. “Honest, I wasn’t trying to attack you.” She placed an open palm on his defined pecs and patted. “You’re safe with me, big guy.” Just to rattle him some more, she winked.

Win’s hazel eyes flashed for a second, then he slowly leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You’re not safe with me.”

A shiver galloped pell-mell through her. He smelled of pine soap and musk. His short, spiky, straw-colored hair tickled her neck when he lowered his head a fraction. Warm lips barely grazed her skin, igniting a sensual fire in her system. Her eyebrows furrowed in question. Had he just kissed her below the ear? It was so brief, so feather light her mind wasn’t sure. Her nipples, though, piped up in confirmation. Hell yeah, he kissed you! Me next, me next!

My debut book, Storm’s Interlude, was nominated Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews. It is available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Buy links: TWRP ~
Amazon ~

To enter the drawing for a copy of Storm’s Interlude, hop over to my blog and sign-up to follow and also leave a brief comment with your email address at the bottom of the post “Keep Your Fingers Crossed.” I’ll need your email address to notify you should you win. Good luck!


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for having me guest today, Sarah and for allowing me to share a part of my family's passion--wrestling.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Vonnie and Sarah. I'm a wrestling Mom, too. Not being a wrestler, watching my son on the mat for the first time made me squirm and wonder who was going to dislocate something first. It sure is intense.

I totally get how you could compare wrestling to writing! Now I can tell my husband, a wrestler of old, and my son I'm a wrestler, too. A word wrestler.

Sheila Tenold said...

Vonnie, what a fun scene from THOSE VIOLET EYES! Love, love, love it.

And thanks for sharing the great wrestling and writing analogy.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

OH, Karyn, nothing beats wrestling. When a wrestler steps out on the mat, it's all on him. He can't blame another player 'cause he got in his way or didn't pass him the ball. It's a lesson in personal resposibility and hard work. Mike started wrestling in elementary school and is still rolling around on the mats at age 39. Thanks for commenting.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Sheila, so glad you liked the excerpt. The relationship between these two was so much fun to write.

Lynne Marshall said...

Vonnie! I loved that John Irving video AND the excerpt from your novella.

What lovely memories you sprinkled into your son's lives with kind mommies touches in their gym bags.


Mary Ricksen said...

You got me with the excerpt Vonnie!
I forget whatever else you said!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

As usual, loved your post, Vonnie. I had never thought of writing as wrestling, but now that you mention it....

How nice that you left candy and notes for the kids. I did that too and could hardly wait for them to get home to hear their comments at my imaginative prose on their account. What did it get me - a child who loves to help me brainstorm my plots at lunch once a week.

Hugs to you, my friend.

Jennifer Jakes said...

Do you realize what a tease you are?? I can barely wait for this new release;) -- and here you are with excerpts! LOL
Wishing you much continued success, my friend. And don't enter me in the drawing. I already have my (much re-read) copy of STORM!
Hugs -

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Lynne, my kids still talk about Mom's love notes, as they called them. Now they get love texts at unexpected moments.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, Mary, so glad you liked the excerpt.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I wrestle with my writing all the time, Paisley. I hate it when my plot puts me in a head lock. LOL

How nice you have a child who loves to brainstorm plots. Sounds very bonding.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Jennifer, aren't you the sweetest? Me, a tease? Oh, hon, you have no idea.

Calisa Rhose said...

Me next! Lmao I love that, Vonnie! I can't wait to read the new one. I can't wait to read SI for that matter. I used to thrive on Friday night wrestling, pro, with the Von Erich brothers. Those were the days...

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, yes, pro-wrestling. My older son, Steve, has a 4th degree black belt in karate (He reads over my fight scenes and tells me how to make them more accurate). Any how, he went to some pro-wrestlers and offered a trade. If they'd teach him the "falls" and "fake moves", he'd teach them some karate moves to incorproate into their act. They beat the piss out of he learned a new appreciation for their showmanship. Thanks for stopping by Calisa.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vonnie, Enjoyed the comparison, though there are no wrestlers in our family, unless you count the many times my brother and I rolled around on the floor during an argument, yelling Mom, Mom, when one got the better of the other. I like comparing that to my writing today since I miss my brother so much.
Thanks for the reminder.
By the way the excerpt was fabulous for lack of a better adjective.