Friday, February 5, 2016


We'd like to share from our alter egos our tribute to Michael W. Davis ~




We are going to step out of our Tattle and Wrye personas to pay tribute to one of Champagne Books Group’s fallen heroes, Michael W. Davis.  This dear, kind and generous soul, exemplified what it meant to an honorable man above men.  His remarkable writing talent with its clean, concise and engaging prose attracted many fans, including us.  We knew if we sat down to read a Michael W. Davis book, we’d be there for the duration.

It isn’t often you come across someone who is so consistent in his devotion to his fellow authors or his home publisher.  CBG is like a home, and everyone a family, looking out for each other.  Mike, affectionately known as Big Mike, was our big brother, even if we were older than him.  He would shepherd almost every newbie in the family, and he was never too busy to offer advice, help with publicity, contribute a blog or article, review a book, or be the Papa Bear on all literary statistics.
Whenever we needed help, he was our go-to person.  In January, we lost Mike to that Big Literary Publisher in Heaven, and mourn that loss deeply.  We offer our condolences to his family, friends, and all the lives he had touched with his contagious joy, quiet humor, unconditional help, and consistent care.  

To quote Mitch Cuento, “Sometimes to someone you love you want to say goodbye, but you can't get the words out. Because in your heart saying goodbye would just be a lie.”  We never got that chance to say goodbye, and are glad for that would indeed be a falsehood.  Mike resides in every word he had ever written, and we will get to see him again and again when we re-read his blogs, articles and stories.  For you, BM, there will never be goodbye, but one day, we hope to laugh and write with you again, in that other place where people never have to be apart.  In the meantime, you will miss you. 
The following are taken from previous Tattle and Wrye columns highlighting Michael W. Davis’ books.


“Nooo!” Tattle screams as horrific images enfold her, empathy pulling concern.

Without thought to peril, he grabs her, yanking her free of her predicament.

She prissily pats her brow with a monogrammed handkerchief that Wrye had provided. “Jump calculations were off. Gracious.” Tattle places a hand to her throat. “Poor Sara... I have just glimpsed a traumatic nightmare that she has consistently.”

“Sara?” He takes back the linen hanky, notices the eye make-up and glares.

“Mark’s wife, his life, his heart. They are the protagonists of the award winning FORGOTTEN CHILDREN by Michael W. Davis, Champagne’s Author of the Year.”

Wrye re-slips the linen to Tattle, looks about the rural seemingly serene town of Lawto, Virginia. “How could such a tranquil environment induce chronic nightmares?”

"A maze of intrigue." Tattle links her arm in the crook of his as they walk along, captivated by the vista. “Lethal danger. A series of deaths. One a former professor.”

"Death?" They pause as Wrye views the street with suspicion. “Ah, isn’t this also the place where all too many children are being born with a rare genetic disease?”

“Why Wrye, you have been reading ahead?” Scolding with a swat of the hanky.

His chin bobbed a notch. “Of course, my snoopy-snoop comrade in prattle.”

They offer a moment of respectful silence to the tragedy solidly buried within the gripping, suspenseful mystery, and then Penza Tattle whispers, “Here's the boggle. All this is happening while Mark and Sara are trying to conceive. Don't you say it.”

“No!” He understood, she understood, he was about not to abstinent the ribald.

“Yes,” Tattle’s head bobs empathically. “And unbeknownst to all, Sara holds the skeleton key to the truth of political and corporate transgressions, shame-shame, which at tome's end has the randy couple battling for their lives and sheet-time.”

Wrye scampers ahead, trying to hurdle clauses through to the last few pages.

Grasping his suspenders, “Oh no, you don’t,” Penza says, “You have to read it a page at a time like the rest of us.” She releases the braces and he stumbles.

"But I have to know if Mark's a papa." As a graduated Evelyn Wood's speed reader he starts eating pages.

"Ok, naughty rascal, you just want to read about the horizontal tango."

"Of course, Michael is the Author of the Year."

"So you think you can dance? We've much to do. Let's Rumba out of here."


“I like the rain,” Tattle says, and swipes the wetness from her eyes much like Megan, a character who appears in the contemporary novel SHADOW OF GUILT by Michael Davis.

“I like umbrellas,” returns Wrye and opens a striped green and white golf umbrella to cover them both. “I also like weaving our way through Davis’ story. There’s Sean Paterson,” Wyre points out the hero as the duo suddenly find themselves in a cafĂ©, “a man harboring hate, a need for vengeance, and across from him is Detective Christine Sheppy who’s coping with guilt, a guilt born from the simple need to survive.”

Tattle seeps further into the story. “Their lonely conscious ridden lives become entwined as they try to help an estranged teen and her child, who are lost and targeted.”
Wrye becomes lost in prose, his green carnation wilts as if agreeing with the sadness in Wrye’s tone. “The ache for something strong and loving between them becomes fragile and strained as the haunts of their past refuse to let go. Christine trusted with her heart once and ended up hurt. Dare she trust again? He believed in the magic of forever. Will he find his way back to that belief again?”

Sorrow furrows Tattle’s brow. “Sean knows he wants that sweetness of being with someone for a lifetime, but his hate, his need for vengeance and past shadows make him rash, ready to destroy possibilities.”

“Can either of them escape the endless grief? Can they win out over the depraved acts of malevolent men who prey on the helpless? Will their emerging love be enough to conquer all?”
“Read and find out!”

The duet du gossip appears in the small town of Tanglewood Falls with its magnificent view. “Mystery, suspense, romance, it must be BLIND CONSENT BY MICHAEL W. DAVIS, CHAMPAGNE BOOKS AUTHOR OF THE YEAR,” offers Wrye. "But where there's heavenly beauty, one might discover 'ell. Doc Tat, grow us our next plot tree."

“Sapling planted. After the loss of his wife, Ryan returns to search for truth in this poor, forgotten community where trust and blind consent had been unwittingly exploited. Fertilizer applied.”

“I deduce…” Wrye pauses and admits, “from reading it that Ryan has been haunted by dreams and puzzling images for twenty years. Enter ghostly sounds stage left. Exit reality stage right. He is desperately trying to untangle the reality of what happened to him and to his town. Weed Whacker Alert!”

“All true… everything is hidden… so many secrets… even the folklore of the simple people, who believe their Annie is blessed.” She re-laces her high top high heel and checks wobble.

“Annie… the woman he meets during his quest is a lovely lass with her own secrets, her own passion for Ryan and the belief that he is her destiny.” Spinning his double-billed cap, now appearing much like a hang glider on his head, he says, "Remember the adventure of The Red-headed League? Like that, this is providing much boggle for the man. But... it's all 'ell men tree, m'Dear Tattleson, love... love... love!"

"In this outwardly beautiful, peaceful town, where sinister forces anchor its foundation, Ryan and Annie become lost to each other, lost to the mystery, and maybe lost to love. He needs to find himself, but in the end…”

“Shhh,” he says, "Give away no more. Off to 221B Baker Street.”

“Are the real Sherlock and Watson expecting us?”

“Sorry, got caught up in the fiction.”

Read these and his other books so you can always stay connected to a great man and very talented author.

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by: Angelica Hart and Zi
Books by: Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, February 4, 2016

There's a Place Somewhere

In October of last year I banged up a leg and came home in a wheelchair. The leg is still not one hundred percent. Well, at least this should help with your writing, you might say, since now I can still sit at a computer all day instead of wandering. Ah, but there is a catch.

My normal routine, pre leg, was to go for a walk before breakfast no matter what the temperature. I would set off for about a two mile stroll at a fair clip as soon as it was light, just me and the dog walkers, out there in the fresh air. Why wait until daylight you say? To help being spotted by the early morning commuters and people like the gentleman I noticed dropping off his child at school and then driving off with his laptop leaning on his steering wheel.

What has all this to do with writing? I am a pantser. Sometimes I start writing a novel with only a first or last sentence, an opening scene, or a single character. Walking a route I have covered over a number of years means I can disconnect a good part of my brain. No nasty comments please. When in need I could freewheel and conjure up new scenes, witty (I think) dialogue, and how to get characters out of, or into, difficult situations.

I realized how important this walking bit was when I started hobbling on a shorter version of the walk last month. This effort took me a few weeks, but now that I don’t have to concentrate on watching my feet, or remembering how to walk without a limp, the literary ideas are flowing again.

I suspect everyone needs a place to go to, either physically, or simply inside their head, while they are searching for inspiration. I never used to worry about writer’s block, but I was getting close to that point until I got back on the move. I have found a new second choice, however. Eyes closed, soaking in a warm bathtub without any interruptions, is a possible alternative.

If you don’t have that idea hideout for your writing, I suggest you discover one that suits your style and mine the ideas you find there.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1) (volume 2, The Queen’s Man, due out shortly!)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Are Conferences Worth Your Time?

Before beginning the month's post, I just want to say how sad I am about Big Mike. He was generous with his support, suggestions, and humor. I will miss him.

Much as my heart isn't it this, I want to talk about writers conferences. You may wonder if they are worth the time and cost? They most definitely are, especially for those of you new to writing, Last year I was unable to attend a single conference and I feel that I missed out. I attended my first writers conference in Austin in 2008 before I even considered becoming a writer. Not only did I learn about the basics of completing a novel, I met dozens of enthusiastic writers, and, most importantly, left energized and excited. So all of you, no matter where you are in the profession, do yourself a favor and commit to going to a conference in 2016.

Chuck Sambuchino in the blog, The Write Life, wrote a useful post about choosing the right conference. Go to The Writer's Life Conference Advice and read it. I decided to attend a one day conference called The Houston Writing Conference for a couple of reasons: it's 45 minutes from my house, it's only one day, and a couple of agents I planned on contacting are attending. It's next month so I'll fill you in how it went in my next post.

This is short, but I'm feeling sad about Big Mike. I'll do better next month.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Say Thank You

As a TWV contributor, my monthly posts always followed Big Mike's by a couple of days - he was Friday, I was Sunday.

If I didn't have an idea for a post, Big Mike's would spark something. 

And this month, he's giving me the same gift: a spark of an idea, to muse on the gratitude I feel for all he has given the CBG author community. 

There are a lot of people who have reached out to me since I "came out" as an aspiring author. I appreciate all of them, but I don't tell them often enough how much they mean to me. 

So, just one more suggestion to honor Big Mike: 

Thank your mentors, those who encourage, support, and challenge you.

Don't wait.

Say thank you, today.

Friday, January 22, 2016

For Big Mike

Never Forgotten by M.W.Davis (cover)

Regular TWV readers will recognize author Michael Davis, affectionately known to his fellow authors as Big Mike, as one of the strongest voices on this blog.

Sadly, Big Mike lost his battle with cancer earlier this month. Today (January 22) would have been his day to post. 

In his honor, we ask two things of you all: 

Post in the comments any thoughts, memories, stories, etc. that capture Big Mike for you. 

And, of course - read his books.

Big Mike would love nothing so much as to know that his stories live on in our lives, just as his memory lives on in our hearts.

His web site is here.  As we would expect, it is set up so you can easily find and buy his work.

While you are there, read his biography. And remember the last line of it:

To those that make my characters come to life by reading my stories, Thank you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's All About Words

Many years ago during an interview, the owner of one of the world’s all-time greatest voices, Luciano Pavarotti was asked what he was thinking about when he sang. One might have expected it to be the notes, the tale the song conveyed, head voice, the opening of the mouth, or any number of things. The great tenor’s reply was, “The next breath.” Of all the things that go into singing, he kept his mind focused on the most basic and most important of all the tools at a singer’s disposal. Without breathing, he can sing no song.

Writers of English works have twenty six tools of communication known as letters. Depending upon how they are combined, they become words. Words are a basic element for both oral and written communication. Each word has its own subtle meaning that differentiates it from all other words, including its synonyms. The job of the writer is not to simply put words on paper. It is to put the correct words on paper (or walls, or digital formats, or whatever your medium happens to be). Jonathan Swift put it better: Writing is proper words in proper places.

When in a quandary about which word is proper, there are a number of things to keep in mind that are useful in helping you out.

Invented and unusual words are to be used sparingly even when you are writing in one of the few genres in which they are appropriate, like poetry. However, unless your name is Francis Thompson or James Joyce, don’t be surprised when the critics bash your work. There are tens of thousands of words added to the English language since those men wrote. Don’t expect to get away with what you consider the ultimate creativity so easily.

Try putting the word or words you are considering in context. Read the passage out loud. If you don’t quickly find what feels like the perfect word to you, simply mark the place and move on. Don’t let finding the perfect word slow down your output. By the same token, when you get to The End, don’t forget to go back to those marked passages and rework them. In some cases, you may discover you already had the right word. Some will take longer than you think necessary to satisfy you. This is part of the craft of writing. a part sadly being lost in our make-a-buck-on-Amazon world.

Use a dictionary sparingly and a thesaurus frequently and judiciously. If it takes a dictionary for you to write a work, it will take a dictionary for a reader to read it. You won’t earn intellectual points. You’ll just make the reader angry or frustrated and lose them in the future. The best time to use a dictionary is for determining the subtle shades of difference in the meaning of words in a list in a thesaurus. Then try each word in context and decide which one gives the perfect shade of meaning to the thought you are trying to express.

Know the difference between connotative and denotative words. Connotative words tend to appeal to the emotional core. They also tend to express the author’s personal opinion. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, your opinion has a place. Just make sure you are choosing wisely. Denotative words are generally used when expressing facts. Like connotative words, they have a place in both fiction and nonfiction. Denotative words should make a truth more easily understood. However, connotative words , while they may take longer, can make a truth understood,  incite an emotional response, and sway an opinion at the same time. Connotative words also tend to draw a reader more deeply into a fictional tale, leading to a greater degree of escapism, very important to authors of romantic fiction.

The words you use also depend on your audience and how much of yourself you are willing to risk in the writing, because in the end, the words you share will be used by others to judge you. Good or bad, make sure your word choices are the ones you truly wish to make.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Meeting Deadlines

“Hi, I’m your Writers Vineyard .deadline, nice to meet you. You’re about nine hours past due, which makes you late. You didn’t meet your deadline.

“Congratulations on nearly meeting your goal of ten pages yesterday for your Saturday writing group, but six pages is NOT what you promised. You did not meet your deadline.

“Your next three deadlines have to do with competitions you are judging. How’s that going?
“And last, but not least, what about the twenty pages you’ll be owing to your fiction writers group in three weeks?”

These are not meet and greets I want to be a part of, but I’ve set myself up for all of the above and while discipline has never been my strong suit, neither has failure to meet deadlines. Lately I’ve been enjoying free-floating through my two novels, flying by the seat of my pants in telling the stories. Now the crunch has come. While I’ve carefully plotted out the two novels and I know where they are going, it is the middle of them that always gets me down. How to sustain the story, maintain reader interest while leading them to the hopefully exciting and satisfying conclusions.

And while doing all that, also fulfilling my roles in other areas, such as writing for the Vineyard, reading for the various organizations and making fair judgments on others’ works. I know the blood, sweat and tears that went into the writing of all those novels. Each author deserves a fair reading.

Something’s got to give. I need to make a schedule and stick to it. I need to stop going on-line and scrolling through facebook as if the world would collapse if I didn’t watch every clip, read every essay, and “like” all my friends’ posts. I play word games, telling myself that helps improve my brain and wards off dementia (apparently unproven.)

My friends, readers and fellow writers, what are your methods of maintaining your schedules so you meet your deadlines?

Veronica Helen Hart is the author of seven published novels, and many more sitting in the drawers or files waiting to be dusted off and reconsidered/revised/tossed.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Calling All Authors: Can You Relate?

New Year's resolutions, anyone?

I've made a few, some regarding writing, some not. Mostly I just want to continue the ones I've made in the past. I lost 65 pounds a few years back, then had surgery last year, gained 16, ugh, but want to go back to working out more and better and eating less and better.

And I want to publish and write as many books as possible this year:)


Grace spent time in prison for a crime she did not commit. Her now-ex fiance framed  her and hired a corrupt attorney to see to it she went to jail in his stead. Now she is out and wants to clear her name and get her life back, if she can escape the clutches of the stalker her ex has set on a path to keep her from doing that. Love is not on her agenda.

Sal is an attorney, rising to the top of his firm and trying to make partner, but when he meets Grace, all he wants to do is help her find justice and end the sadness and mistrust he reads in her eyes toward him as a man and a lawyer. Then he falls in love...

To be entered to win a copy of this book, email via contact form on my website:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rooted in Unrootedness

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “home” lately. Probably because it’s a theme in my current work-in-progress, exploring the question of how “home” shapes us, and what ties it binds upon us. One of my characters is making a trip to visit her parents after a long absence. What she finds, and what she discovers about herself (and her parents) isn’t really what she expected. But no matter what, “home is where the heart is,” right?

Actually that concept of home is a bit thorny. While Dorothy Gale says “There’s no place like home,” Thomas Wolfe says “You can’t go home again.” Who’s right?

Recently I was listening to a cd by the acclaimed singer-songwriter Mac McAnally, eight-time CMA Musician of the Year and an integral part of Jimmy Buffet’s band. Mac has a song about "home"--about growing up in Belmont, Mississippi, titled “Back Where I Come From.” It's a song that really resonates with me. For all the wrong reasons.

That's because I don’t have a place where I “come from”. Before I hit sixth grade I’d been in about eleven different schools in four different states (Georgia, Alabama, Florida, a short stint in Idaho). My step-dad liked to move around a lot, always looking for that greener pasture (which, by the way, I don’t think he ever really found). But all that relocating made it difficult to make friends—I was always the new kid, and always knew I wasn’t going to be there very long anyway. Not much basis for being able to say “that’s where I come from.”

I ended up living with my grandparents in a small town in Georgia from sixth grade until I graduated from high school. It was as close as anything I had to “where I come from.” But I really didn’t—and still don’t—consider it that way. It just seemed like one more way-station on the road of life—a bit more long-term, perhaps, but it still didn’t have that sense of rootedness that Mac sings about. I wasn’t born and raised there, so I was an outsider. Accepted, tolerated, but not really an integral part of things like so many of the other kids were. For most of them, their families had been there for generations.

So you’d think I’d have been drawn to someone who had lived in the same house all her life, had a close-knit family and cousins galore up and down the block. Wrong! I went away to college, met and fell in love with a wonderful girl, and ended up marrying her. And her father liked to move every three years. She had no real roots either.

Since we’ve been together (now these thirty-six years) we’ve moved a total of eight or nine times (I’ve rather lost count over the years). We’ve been kind of like human tumbleweeds, gathering no rocks. (Ok, if a rolling stone gathers no moss, than it stands to reason that a rolling moss gathers no stones…)

Our current home has set a record—we’ve now been in the same place for over seventeen years. Absolutely amazing. But even  though this is where I am at the moment, there’s still no sense of long-term rootedness, no anchor to the past. No connection to the nostalgia of family and friends and Sunday dinners at Grandma’s.

That’s not to say unrootedness has necessarily worked against me. I’ve seen a lot of places, met a lot of people, and generally had a good time. I can’t honestly say I’m any worse off than some of the people I went to school with back in Georgia, many of whom still live within five miles of the place they were born. There’s something to be said both ways—for having those rock-solid connections, and for being free to go wherever the wind takes you.

All in all, I guess for me “where I come from” is more an internal locale than any real sense of external roots. I come from wherever I am at the moment, living securely in the here and now, and looking not towards the past but towards what the future may hold. For while where you come from can be an anchor, sometimes an anchor can weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. 
Now, to work that into my next book...