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Saturday, April 26, 2014

I write humor, not heavy. So, why did I try?

I love a dash of humor in my stories. For me, it's one of my strengths. One of my weaknesses? Oh boy, which one shall I chose? The one that bothers me the most, I suppose. My lack of being able to write deep emotion. I just don't feel I can do it as well as I'd like. I want to make your heart ache with sadness. I want your chest to constrict with pain. I want you to cry. Doesn't every writer want to elicit emotions from humor to anger to heartache to joy? I know I do--someday.

So, when I designed my heroine and hero for book one of my Firemen's Wild Heat series, To Catch a Flame, I wanted a darker hero, one who was more emotionally damaged, one who didn't believe in love. Enter Quinn. Exit my good sense.

Things started out good enough. Really, they did. My critique partner assured me I was breaking her heart over the damaged soul of this guy. I was off to a good start and just as pleased as punch.

Then my sense of humor reared it's nasty head.

Quinn knew he had fallen in love with Cassie, but felt he was too damaged for her innocence. Now, Cassie may have been sexually innocent, but she was also a bit of a pistol. Get her angry and she would go off like a roman candle. To get away from her before he damages her in any way, Quinn decides to leave town. As soon as she finds out, she storms over to his apartment to find out "why" he's leaving without telling her. They exchange words at the U-Haul trailer Quinn's packing. Quinn walks away from her snit--a BAD move for any man--and storms upstairs to his second floor apartment. He packs more boxes, waiting for Cassie to come up to continue the argument....

Still no Cassie.

Had she given up and gone home? He carried the box containing his microwave into the living room and peered out the sliding glass doors overlooking the parking lot.

Holy Mother of God!

How had she gotten his Harley untied and out of the trailer? She’d pushed it onto the small patch of yard in front of the apartment building. All of his neckties flapped from the handlebars and what looked to be his jock strap was stretched across the back of its seat. Jammed into the ground at both ends of his bike were his water skis. The rope that had secured his bike upright in the U-haul was now strung from one ski to the other with all of his damn boxers hanging from the rope. In a semi-circle around the bike sat his high school and college football trophies.

His gas grill had also been dragged from the trailer, and hanging like dogs’ ears from the closed chrome lid was every sock he owned. He narrowed his eyes as his blood pressure exploded through the stratosphere. Because there…there…in the midst of all his previously packed boxes was the object of his wrath, kicking each of the cartons, arms waving, mouth moving as if she were cussing someone out. And he had a damn good idea who that lucky son of a bitch was, especially when she scowled up at his balcony and shook her fist.

Just what did she think all this chaos would do?

She stormed back to the trailer and crawled into its cavernous interior. He leaned toward the glass and cocked the box on his hip. Now what was she after? His gaze scanned his belongs scattered helter-skelter over the lawn. She’d already removed everything he’d worked so hard to pack. Except for his…oh no. Oh, hell no! A flurry of movement flashed in the corner of his eye, followed by an unholy sound, resembling a moose in heat. His narrowed gaze swung to Cassie standing below his window playing his treasured saxophone. If one could classify the metalized shrieking she produced as playing.

She’s a dead woman. That horn’s all I have left of Uncle Mat.

He slammed the box onto the sofa and barreled out of his apartment. By the time he sprinted down the steps and charged through the building’s door, every dog in the complex was howling along with Cassie’s demented saxophone caterwauling.

“What the hell are you doing?” He tried to grab the instrument from her hands, but she spun and hit a high note he’d never imagined an alto sax capable of reaching.

“If you don’t stop that infernal racket, I’m calling the cops!” Milt Garland, the old coot who lived on the first floor, ambled out of the building. “I had to turn down my hearing aid.” He gestured to his trembling Chihuahua, snuggled between his arm and his chest. “Scared poor Killer so bad, he peed on the floor.”

“I’m sorry, Milt. I’m trying to stop her.”

Cassie slipped the mouthpiece from her lips. “I’m serenading the man I love. Don’t tell me you’re against romance, Milt—” She hip-bumped the old man and winked at him. “Not a stud muffin like you.”

Milt’s wire-framed glasses all but fogged up and a cheesy grin spread. “Well, no, I’m all for a little romance, sugar plum.” His gaze shot to Quinn. “Don’t know if this young whipper-snapper can deliver, though.” He smirked and his pigeon chest puffed out. “Maybe you’d be better off with an older, more experienced gent.”

The neighborhood dogs quieted since Cassie had stopped frantically pounding the instrument’s keys as if she were typing a letter to Santa.

She leaned against Milt’s bony shoulder. “I’m going to marry this young whipper-snapper.”

Milt narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips while he petted Killer. “Don’t look like the marrying type to me.”

Quinn folded his arms and widened his stance. “That’s because I’m not the marrying type. I’m more the one-night stand type.” This whole conversation was totally bizarre. He glared at Cassie. Thanks to her shenanigans, he’d have to repack everything.

“Oh, you can make book on this, Milt. Hot lips here is mine. His ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower.” Cassie sucked a bucketful of air and blew four sour notes at one time.

Quinn jammed his index fingers into his ears and cursed.

Milt jerked his hearing aid out of his ear.

And Killer pissed on Milt’s shirt.


OK, so maybe writing deep emotion, the kind that touches your heart with sadness won't be my thing, after all. We all write what we write. Right? Still, we can dream a little. Try to stretch our wings. I emailed this manuscript to my editor at HarperImpulse two weeks ago. So far she hasn't fainted--that I've heard of. Keep your fingers crossed for me and my dark hero. Or maybe Quinn's not so dark, maybe he's more grey or deep tan. But here's how I envisioned him.

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  1. Hahahahaha!! I love humor...especially YOUR humor, Vonnie. I don't need a writer to make me sob. Reality and the evening news take care of that emotion just fine. I read to get away and your stories fit the bill. Keep writing just the way you do!

    1. Thanks, Maeve. Cassie is a spitfire and Quinn needs someone who won't give up on him. Poor man just doesn't realize that yet. Some guys are just slow learners, you know?

  2. I enjoy reading and writing humor and feel it's an important - though underrated - healing tool. Life is too short to cry the whole damn time.

    1. I think you may be onto something there, Ashantay. I've certainly cried plenty in my lifetime. For the longest time, all I seemed to attract were the toads of society. Laughing is so much better.

  3. Great scene, Vonnie. I was sorta hoping she intended to douse his stuff with gas and start a roast. :)

    1. Thanks, Melissa. She's on a special kind of mission here, so any fire she starts would be of a different variety.

  4. Vonnie, I agree with Maeve that we don't need sadness due to the reality of life. I love humor, and you do it so well. That scene shows plenty of emotion, plus it entertains the reader. Can't ask for more than that.

    1. Thanks, Caroline. So many editors are asking for darker heroes, thanks to Fifty Shades and the rash of copy-cat books. I had a series declined because my heroes weren't dark enough, so I thought I'd try writing deeper emotion with emotionally damaged men. I'm not so sure it's my cup of tea. I managed to a point, but he and I butted heads more than my youngest and I did when he was a teenager. I felt like I was this guy's momma, giving him lectures. LOL

  5. Not everyone has your talent at writing situational humor. Embrace it and see where it takes you.

  6. Thanks, Linda. I love it when I'm laughing as I'm writing.

  7. I write romantic comedy because that's what I like to read so hang on to your strengths. The world needs humor.

  8. Super post, Vonnie. I love your humor. :)


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