Smart Girls Read Romance

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where Do Our Story Ideas Come From? -- by Vonnie Davis

Writers get asked this question--or something similar--all the time. And why not? A peek into a creative mind can be interesting. I'd like to ask Bob Dylan how he composed memorable lyrics to create awesome protest songs or Beethoven why certain notes gifted us with timeless masterpieces. Imagine having the artist Monet explain how he chose certain colors and brush strokes to paint his beautiful flowers. I could chat for hours with Shakespeare or Walt Whitman or Carly Simon. So when someone asks me where my stories come from, I am both humbled and a shade embarrassed. Humbled that anyone would want even a tiny peek into how my mind works...and quite embarrassed to explain how it does.

Three years ago, I noticed a pea-sized lump in my left jaw where my upper and lower jaws connect. Odd, I thought. I can feel the jaw joint on this side of my face, but not on the other. About a month later, this lump had doubled in size, and I began to have some concern. Then headaches started, along with a constant earache on that side of my head. So I called my general practitioner. Upon examination, he claimed the lump was closing my left eye too. An MRI showed I had a grape-sized cyst in my saliva gland. Surgery was scheduled to remove it.

The surgeon claimed, "A simple four-hour operation with an incision starting behind my ear, coming over the top of my ear, along the front of the ear and my cheek, over my jaw bone and three inches down my neck to remove the cyst and I'd be good as new."


Chances of it being cancerous? Nil

Recovery time? A week.

The cyst was cancerous. Recovery time? Eight months. Was I sold a bill of goods, or what?

My recovery required returning to the doctor every other day to have fluid drained from my face and neck. I looked like an ogre. And felt as if I'd never heal. You see, they'd cut off three-fourths of my salivary gland and it was, to quote the surgeon, "angry as hell and shooting out spit, thus the constant fluid build-up." Well, gee, thanks for mentioning that possibility. Or that my left cheek and ear would forever be numb.

But enough complaining. After all, I am cancer free--and very lucky. By now, you're asking what does this long tale have to do with story ideas?

Well, you see, about a month after surgery, when I was emotionally at my lowest--remember the surgeon had given me a one-week recovery time--two golden spots started glowing in the back of my head. Brain cancer, thinks I. The doctors at the cancer institute were wrong; they didn't get it all. It's spread to my brain. I was frantic, googling for signs of brain cancer. No where did I read about yellow, glowing spots in the back of one's vision.

It took me time to work up nerve to call the cancer institute to tell them I needed an appointment and why. I had the number in my hand ready to dial when the two glowing spots blinked.

Eyes??? These are eyes? Heck, I didn't need to call an oncologist. I needed to call a shrink!

So, for the next few weeks, these glowing eyes stayed with me--waiting, watching, willing me to talk to them. Well, I might be crazy, but I'm not crazy enough to talk to things I shouldn't be seeing in the first place.

Then one night, the eyes left my head and moved to the foot of our bed. A huge bear formed around them. Now, I have an odd philosophy about characters. I believe they only reveal themselves to writers they believe will tell their story. So I was surprised to see this ginormous bear staring at me from the foot of my bed. "I'm sorry, but you've come to the wrong writer's house," I told him. "I don't write children's stories." He shook his head. "Oh, you're not that kind of bear?"

He shifted into a Scott, wearing a kilt and sporting oodles of muscles.

"I'm sorry, but you're still in the wrong writer's bedroom. I don't write paranormal. Contemporary, historical and romantic suspense, but nothing paranormal."

"Aye, lassie, but ye will." He motioned for me to slide over closer to Calvin, who was snoring away, and then Kilt-Man lay beside me. "Let me tell ye the story of how bears came to be extinct in Scotland." And he began telling me this miraculous tale. I fell asleep snuggled between my sweet husband and my new hero, Creighton Matheson. When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was google "are bears extinct in Scotland"...and chills skittered up and down my spine.

Creighton's story is the first book in A Highlander's Beloved Trilogy, followed by his two younger brother's stories. Look for A Highlander's Obsession in August from Random House's LoveSwept line. You'll already know how the writer came up with the story idea...or how it came to her when she was recovering from cancer. And how Creighton charmed her one night with his Scottish burr.

 
To pre-order, go to http://amzn.com/B00ILX9WC0
 

To learn more about Vonnie's writing, go to www.vonniedavis.com

29 comments:

  1. Vonnie, I didn't know you'd had cancer. Brenda Daniels on this site had the same salivary operation, but hers was benign. I had thyroid cancer. As one cancer doctor told me--if you live long enough, you'll have cancer. You are fortunate to have had a visitor give you a story idea. I can hardly wait to read the book! I love your writing. Best wishes for continued good health and lots of sales.

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  2. What a spectacular story. Okay, not including the cancer. I remember your surgery, but I had no idea it was cancer. ((((HUGS)))) on fighting a terrible battle. But you won, right? And I'm with Caroline...sounds like you had a visitor whispering in your ear. I get the same. I don't write my stories alone. I have help as well. So, when I get stuck? I close my eyes and whisper, "Please help me do this" and suddenly I'm UNstuck.

    I love hearing your stories, V. Crossing my fingers you stay nice and healthy! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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    1. Joanne, it's not easy telling people these glowing eyes came into your mind and waited for the right time to morph into a bear and then shifted into a hunky Scot who told you this story. I mean, when you do, their eyes dart around, no doubt looking for the nearest Exit sign. Thanks for popping in and reading my true, but weird tale. (((HUGS))) to you, too, darlin'.

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  3. Thanks, Caroline. It was actually my second time. The first was a large spot on my back, which got me writing in the first place. Cancer scares you. Wakes you up to your immorality. For me, I thought, man if I'm ever going to write, I better get started. The skin cancer on my back left a 3" scar, but spurred my writing. The salivary operation gave me the paranormal series. Sometimes good comes out of bad things. Although I didn't have thyroid cancer, I did have to have mine destroyed through radiation. It had gone amuck--much like my mind, at times--and I trembled so badly I couldn't walk through the house or breathe at a normal rate. That was a rough year, too, but we women are survivors of so much, aren't we, Caroline.

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  4. Absolutely loved your story, Vonnie! You are an amazing woman to have gone through so much and then create these fantastic stories. I am so looking forward to reading this book. :)

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    1. Thank you, Mary. You're very kind. All those old sayings...those song lyrics of years ago...often hold some truth. For me, it's look for the silver lining. My silver lining happened to be wearing a kilt. LOL

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  5. Vonnie, your visitors are always such a delight and I am thinking you should write a book about an author who has these uninvited guests in the middle of the night.

    My stories come from my great, great grandmother Mary Kirke. I discovered she lives in my head with my muse when I started writing sentences verbatim to what she wrote in her stories all those years ago. She is the first woman to have stories published in a magazine. When I read her first story, I was stunned to see it was so similar to my story and two of her sentences read exactly as mine, it was a shock - to say the least. And, that particular story of hers was about her life. What I wrote was so similar to what she had lived and written about, that I asked the person who came to speak to my land chapter about past lives if I inherited my g, g, grandmother's memories. She thought I had inherited her. I have no explanation as to where my stories come from or why I am bent on this timeperiod, but if it keeps Mary Kirke happy and talking, then I intend to keep feeding and pampering her. ;)

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    1. Paisley, how blessed you are by all this. My Calvin is always saying we haven't yet learned all the intricacies of the mind, how it works, the memories it passes on from one generation to another. I think he may be right. Your connection to Mary Kirke is a treasure.

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  6. Mine usually come from a situation, but I've been known to take one look at a picture and suddenly I have it. I think that's my favorite...naked guy in a bathtub...that was the best...had me laughing and imagining all sorts of ways he got there and she walked in.

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    1. Don't you love when that happens, Deb? I was listening to a song on the car radio the other day and an entire scene unfolded in front of me. I nearly wrecked the car. I need a bumper sticker that reads: Caution: Driver of this car is a writer plotting her next sex scene. Whoot!!!

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    2. You better be careful where you drive that car with that bumper sticker, Vonnie. You may bring a parade home with you like the Pied Piper and Calvin may shack his head while he is laughing. ;)

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    3. Oh Paisley, Calvin would roar with laughter. Although we usually go most everywhere together, so he'd be in the front seat, constantly glancing over his shoulder. "Why are all those men following us?" I'd be my usual clueless self...LOL...and say, "Beats me."

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  7. Vonnie, no one will ever have a "where did your idea come from?" story to top this one! I remember your cancer experience but never heard about the bear. He must be quite a hero!

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    1. He was quite bossy on having his story told a certain way, let me tell you. And when the editor started messing with the story, he raged at me. LOL I had to explain that I wasn't too happy about her demands either. He and I worked out a plan...and kept in all she wanted deleted. We just placed it in other chapters, is smaller segments and so far, so good. I allowed the heroine's grandma to be my alter-ego. Except for being skinny and wiry, she is me...and stole lots of my one-liners.

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  8. Thank you for sharing! I was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (still weird for me to say it) and I am encouraged and strengthened by your personal journey. I've had quite a time keeping my concentration on writing and wondered if my creativity was tapped. Again, thank you for shining a light and giving hope that inspiration comes in all shapes and forms. Entranced by the premise of your new Highlander story, I have my copy pre-ordered and look forward to seeing it drop into my Kindle.

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  9. Dear C.C...((HUGS)) Health changes can be scary. As I was going through the surgery and post op treatments, I chose not to tell my editors at The Wild Rose Press, for whom I was writing at the time. I did not want special treatment. During that time I edited a novella that won first place in the NERFA (national excellence in romantic fiction award) and a 95,000 word romantic suspense that won the HOLT medallion award of merit in two categories. I did not tell Rhonda, who heads The Wild Rose Press until the worst of my treatments were over. Why? My writing kept me sane. I wanted to dwell on the bad and I think that's human nature, but if I told no one at The Wild Rose Press then my deadlines remained a very real obligation....something for me to focus on instead of me.

    Your creativity will return. In fact, it's probably there, waiting patiently for you to open the door to let it back in. Granted, you might not write at the speed you did before, but you might write with greater depth or with a sweeter sense of humor. I hope you enjoy my story.

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  10. Vonnie, you are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Well, thanks Angels, you are pretty amazing yourself. I'm glad you didn't think me a complete nut for sharing my story. I almost hesitated to tell it all for fear I'd be labeled as that crazy lady who writes books.

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  11. There's a wonderful story. Now I'll have to read your book . . .

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    1. Beppie, the book comes out August 19th. But you can pre-order it now. My heroes come to me in the strangest of ways. My heroines I have to work for and it takes me a while to get to know them. But, oh, those men...they charge right into my mind full of sex appeal and attitude.

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  12. I always smile when I hear of how a hero--any hero--comes to you, Vonnie. :) I'm so, so glad the cancer is gone! But those glowing things...do they look a little like glowing boobs or butt to anyone else? *snort* Glad they were just eyes! Love ya, babe.

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    1. Oh, I love you, too, Calisa. They looked like glowing yellow spots. But when I went looking for a picture to show you all what I saw, the best I could find was this. But the spots I saw were oval and glowed...and I was sure I had lost my mind. Well...maybe I have, but we don't need to do there now, do we??? ((HUGS))

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  13. Wow! That's awesome. Scary but again, something wonderful came out of something bad. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. A few people have suggested that the bear must be my totem. Well, I'm so dumb, I had to look up what a totem meant. LOL Thanks for stopping in!

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  14. Vonnie, I've heard some fascinating how stories came to be, even have some of my own, but this one is really up there. Wow.

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    1. Honest, Beth, I'm not nuts. LOL Weird things just seem to happen to me. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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  15. Vonnie, What an amazing story about how your book came to be. I'm glad you stayed strong and beat the big C.

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  16. Vonnie, first of all, I'm thankful you are cancer free. Since cancer is a constant threat in my husband's family, it's heartening to hear survivor stories. Second, that's an absolutely fabulous story of the genesis of a book--and what a hunky Scot on the cover.

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