Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free For All Friday -- And I Have A SURPRISE!!

I'm so excited to host my first MALE author here on the blog! Please help me welcome CALVIN DAVIS. We'll try to go easy on you, Calvin, tho' your lovely wife tells me you are a true southern charmer, so maybe I should tell you to go easy on my readers;)  LOL  You might leave a trail of broken hearts after today!
Ladies, Calvin has brought THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS, a romantic suspense! Here are the links to find out more about Calvin's work,
but be sure to come back and leave a comment for this brave guinea -- I mean man;)  Thanks again for joining me here today, Calvin!

Jennifer, thank you for having a guy on your lovely blog. I understand you are a historical author. Well, at my age, I am a piece of history, so be gentle with me.

What is the most difficult for you to write: Characters, conflict, emotions?
Emotion. To write an emotional scene, one must make a withdrawal from a character’s emotional bank. To do that, the writer must know the amounts and types of deposits to that character’s account. Were they shown love with total abandon? Were they constantly criticized? Compared to others? Were they spurned? Abused? For example, it’s often hard for me to put myself into a female’s head. Take sexual harassment on a job, for example. Or a sexual assault. I have no clue what that would do to the female psyche. For sure, I have a general idea, but I struggle with all the nuances of the emotional scars such acts would leave. Men think in generalities. Women, in the details. I can walk down a dark street at night with zero fear. Not so for a woman. I have to stretch to understand her fears, how her heart would pound, how every noise would up her stress ante. Thank goodness, I can talk it over with Vonnie and gain her insight.

If you were going to cast the hero of your book, what actor would get the part?
Ben Affleck. I like his intensity; it matches Paul’s, I think.

What was the best advice you were given leading you to getting published?
I have two good pieces of advice. The first came from my brother when he got his PhD from Harvard. It’s not always the smartest or most talented who succeed, but those who refuse to give up. The second I heard in a writers’ group years ago: Don’t be afraid to kill off your children. Sometimes sentences have to go, no matter how well-written or poetic they are.

Favorite romance movie?
Woody Allen’s recent release, “Midnight in Paris.” Most of it was filmed on the Left Bank. The scenery was like going back home. I lived on the Left Bank for a year in 1968-69. I sat at sidewalk cafes for hours and wrote, sipped espressos and absorbed French culture. An interesting note: I’d taken French in high school, college and graduate school, plus a Berlitz immersion class prior to taking my sabbatical. When I stepped off the plane and heard French people speak, I thought the plane had landed in the wrong country. Conversational French is miles apart from classroom French.

Do you believe in love at first sight or just lust at first sight?
Now is this a fair question knowing my wife will read this post? You’re killing me here. First, let’s define lust. I think physical attraction is important initially. For example, I’m a sucker for a nice smile or pretty eyes. Vonnie and I met on an internet dating site. We emailed and instant messaged every night for a couple months. So we knew a lot about each other. We’d formed a tentative bond. The first time I saw Vonnie, I thought “Look at that pretty smile.” But I have to admit, it was that first hug that sealed the deal. She melted into me, and I was lost. Then, as we grew closer, I realized we had a lot in common. I realized she was a very gentle, compassionate person. I also learned she’d go up against a bully in the blink of an eye if she saw someone being pushed around—and if that someone were a child, God help the bully. I knew I’d found a good-hearted woman in a cold-hearted world. Lucky me.

If you could time travel would you go forward or backward?
Backward. I’ve had some good times in my life. It would be nice to go back and relive them. Calling back the good times of yesterday would be sweet. Would I want to go back further in time? No.

What music are you listening to lately?
Tom Jones new album “Rain,” Charles Asnovour’s  “Le Bohme,” Anything by Willie Nelson and, of course, The  Beatles.

Blurb for The Phantom Lady of Paris
A suspense-filled love story, The Phantom Lady of Paris, tells of American Paul Lasser and his sojourn in the City of Light, where he meets the mysterious Phantom Lady, Bonnie Silver a woman who is more question marks than periods. Why is she in Paris and why do French pilice investigate her and her “persons-of-interest” friends? One friend, a flower child, overdoses on drugs. Another morphs into a terrorist, bombing cafes. Is a communist agitator an associate of Bonne’s? Slowly, Paul unearths answers and while they quench his need to know, they will forever haunt him.

Excerpt –
The Phantom Lady of Paris? I knew her well. On the other hand—as I later discovered—I didn’t know her at all. The woman did everything wrong. She did nothing wrong. She was a Jezebel, deceptive in every way. I’ve never known a more honest and straightforward person. During our relationship, she kept me constantly jittery and perturbed. The happiest days of my life were those I shared with the Phantom Lady of Paris. They were the golden days, the good times, good, that is, until…
Don’t let her name mislead. She was not an apparition, nor a creation of some writer’s fantasy, a fiend-like character in, say, an Edgar Allen Poe tale or one by Stephen King or Franz Kafka. No, she was real all right and, above all, she was human, more human than anyone I’d known and, I’m sure, will ever know again. And in spite of my blundering ways, she taught me what it really means to be a human being.
The Phantom Lady was a down-to-earth mortal possessing a unique dream, one fabricated from her passion for living, some of which passion she shared with me and with others fortunate enough to have known her.    
As her name suggests, she lived in Paris, lived there during the most turbulent times the city has known since the bloodletting and mayhem of the French Revolution. She resided in The City of Light during the Vietnam War and peace protests in the United States and Europe, Sorbonne student riots on the Left Bank and worldwide clashes between “The Establishment” and “The Flower Generation.” It was an era of cataclysmic social eruption and revolutionary clashes of ideas and age groups.
I was a grown man when I met the Phantom Lady. All was going well with me. My life was in balance, and I knew how to live it. In spite of that, the moment the Phantom Lady and I met marked the real beginning of my life. Everything preceding that instant was meaningless prologue. During our initial chat, which lasted about three hours--though it seemed a fleeting moment--I learned for the first time what life is all about and how I should live mine.
On the morning we met, she taught me many things about myself that were, until then, mysteries. And what did I learn about her? Very little. Basically, I learned that she was more question marks than periods, and that something mysterious lurked behind each question mark. I wasn’t prepared for what the hidden thing turned out to be. But looking back at what happened the morning I met her and everything that ensued, I wonder, what human being could have possibly been prepared for the startling revelation that developed and how it would change not only my life, but hers…and change both forever?
            Who could have been prepared?                          
No one.



  1. Hi y'all!
    What a helpful and enjoyable post! I loved the part about advice for writers. Sigh. . . "Kill your children" and "never give up". Sounds like some of my psych clients. (Har har)
    Calvin, you're awesome.
    You've just scored a new fan!

  2. My dear Jennifer, thank you for opening your blog to a clumsy guy. I've been looking forward to this.

  3. Cecily, how nice of you to drop by. A writer can never have too many fans--and truth be told, you're probably fan number three after Vonnie and our seventeen-year old grandaughter.

  4. Sue, I hear good things about you from Vonnie. She says you're exactly the critique partner she needed. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. Lovely to 'meet' you Calvin. After hearing some of your stories through posts from Vonnie, I feel like I know you already : )

    I'm glad to hear its just as difficult to get into a woman's head as it is for us girls to get into our hero's head. Seems only fair : ) But you and Vonnie have each other to bounce ideas off - what a winning combination! All the very best of luck to you both and I'll see you around again soon.

    The Phantom Lady of Paris is on my TBR pile. It sounds intriguing - thank you!

  6. Calvin,
    Love, love, love your explanation for writing emotions. And love your excerpt. I'd stick around to say more but I'm guesting on the lovely Vonnie Davis' blog today. :-)

  7. I'm with Lilly--excellent perspective; future reference info for sure! Love the image of you writing at that French cafe...maybe one day...

  8. Hi Calvin! It's sooooo great to meet you! And what a handsome guy! Vonnie has been telling us about The Phantom Lady of Paris, so we're all pretty excited! How awesome that you get to share your release month with your lovely wife! I loved your analogy about withdrawing your character's emotions from their emotional bank, and seeing what kind of deposits had been made in order to do so. That's so true. Congrats and here's to many sales. Adding Phantom to my ever-growing TBR pile!

  9. LaVerne, thanks for stopping by. Vonnie's always talking about how nice the "Roses" are, and I have to admit I met some lovely, lively and likable ladies at TWRP writers retreeat in Asheville.(illeration, don't you love it) Now, as I'm blogging here and reading all the comments, I'm struck once again by everyone's generosity of spirit.

  10. Lilly, with the sparkling smile. Yes, Vonnie told me you were her guest today. She's in the blogging world so much more than I. She also gave me a lecture on proper blogging protocol, as she calls it. How's a guy to know all this, I ask you.

  11. Joanna, ah, French cafes--my world. When I lived in Paris, I spend hours every day writing at sidewalk cafes. When I took Vonnie there six years ago, we both did that. I took her to my old haunts, and we discovered a few more. She had a Coke poured as only a French waiter can pour one. It was quite a show, and I mentioned it in my book to show how the French love to turn the ordinary into something grand. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. AJ, THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS is truly the book of my heart. Perhaps because the city of Paris is also a character in the novel. She is a beautiful lady that beguiles and bedazzles. I was born in Lynchburg, VA, but the birthplace of my soul was Paris.

  13. Nice to meet you Calvin :) Great interview and I really liked the excerpt. I wish you continued success!

  14. And I really liked your love story between you and Vonnie... *sigh*

  15. Hi Honey, great interview. I never thought of Paul looking like Ben Affleck, but it works. Paul is a bit uptight and Ben could pull that off. You've written a charming story and you should be proud. I know I am.

  16. Calvin, nice to 'see' you again. It was so wonderful to meet you at the retreat.

    After this, I'm off to get your book. Your excerpt was so poetic and so was your description of meeting Vonnie. You are such a keeper.

  17. Wow, ladies, you are showin' some love today! Calvin, I hope you're enjoying dipping your toe into the blogging waters! :) I truly enjoyed having you here. You are as nice as Vonnie says. Loved your Paris story --- also love your and Vonnie's story. Very sweet :)
    Thanks again!

  18. Hi Calvin, Great to meet you here. Your excerpt sounds super, but the story will be hard to beat that of your and Vonnie's adventure. Like Jennifer, I loved your recollection of Paris. I could almost hear the concertina playing in the background. Good luck with your book!

  19. Kellie, I like our love story, too, and I'll sigh right along with you. By the way, my son's name is Kelly. He's my only child, born when I was nearly 40, so you'll forgive a bit of fatherly bragging when I tell you he holds a PhD. in "High Energy Theroetical Particle Physics"

  20. Vonnie, my angel, I'm proud of you, too.

  21. Jill, oh how I envy your strength. Your luggage was lost on your way to the retreat in Asheville, and yet you handled it all with such grace, a smile on your face. Your remark about my excerpt being poetic was the highest of compliments. You're probaly reading the 45th version of it. I labor over every word I use and I am seldom satisfied. But when I hear remarks like yours, I want to stand up and cheer, "YES! Someone got what I was trying to do!"

  22. Jennifer, thank you for having me. I'm having a great time with all these lovely ladies...who knew book promotion could be so much fun?

  23. Barbara, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I made the city of Paris one of my characters. She entices and beguiles. My aim was to take the reader to Paris on a magic carpet ride of words.

  24. Wonderful look at your writing and some great advice for those of us who tend to cling to every sentence we pen! And, of course, I'm sitting here smiling smugly as I read, because I've had the pleasure of meeting you and your lovely lady!

  25. Calvin, so nice to meet the other half of Calvin and Vonnie. Your writing style is unique and engaging. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Nice story blurb, definitely intriguing. LOVE the description of your wife, and of meeting her for the first time in person. sigh I can guess why she "melted" into you. lol
    Good luck with your Phantom Lady. Thanks, Jennifer for being brave enough to invite him.

  27. Hi Calvin,

    I'm glad I finally was able to stop by the blog today. WOW! You are a delight for sure! I so enjoyed your thoughts on expressing emotions and reading your excerpt. "The Phantom Lady of Paris" sounds like an intriguing read. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

    Jennifer, thank you for another wonderful interview and for bringing a man into the mix. :)

  28. Judy, do you know Vonnie and I still refer to you as "the lady with the strange truck in her driveway?" Thanks for stopping by.

  29. Caroline, thank you for stopping by to get a taste of Paris and for your kind remarks.

  30. Megan, I love our love story, too. Do you find it odd that years before I'd met Vonnie, I'd written the first draft of The Phantom Lady, calling my heroine Bonnie?

  31. JD, thank you for your sweet words. I have to tell you I've enjoyed meself today. How many retired men get to spend time with lovely ladies who say such nice things? This has been a real treat.

  32. What a fascinating interview. I especially enjoyed your descriptions of Paris as my daughter just graduated with double major in French and art. Enjoyed your excerpt too, most intriguing. But most of all how you and Vonnie met. Very touching.