I’m stoked to have friend and fabulous romance author, Vonnie Davis visiting today. For those of you who don’t know her, fix that quick! You’ll be so glad you did. She never fails to entertain, even if she is a little … er … quirky. LOL
Take it away, V!
I’M THE “Q” IN QUIRKY
I love quirky characters. Probably because I’m a tad quirky myself. In fact, I’m the Q in quirky. Round like the letter. And see that tail at the bottom? That’s my once firm and high behind that is now draggin’. Yes, chickas, the ass is in the grass.
I’m not a “cookie-cutter” person and neither are my characters. There’s just something endearing about quirky. Don’t you think?
Personally, I’m not fond of perfection in human beings. Perhaps it’s because I know I’ll never measure up. Plus, there’s something boring about a perfect person and all the energy he or she expends to retain that perfection. I’d sooner live, love and laugh.
That’s why at least one of my characters has little habits or quirks that makes the reader smile and nod her head. In Storm’s Interlude, the hero talked his problems out with his animals. And Noella the housekeeper would quickly voice her opinion and then follow with “but I say nothing.” Believe me, the lady said plenty. My heroine in Those Violet Eyes crawled in and out of the window of her car because her door wouldn’t work. She also cornered the market on “sass.” In Tumbleweed Letters, my hero spends time everyday at his dead wife’s grave, sharing his day with her. His son, Eli, loves feeling the textures of cloth. Quirky always has a place in my stories. No doubt because the dial in my mind remains stuck on “eccentric behavior.”
My heroine in A MAN FOR ANNALEE has her quirks, too. She’s short-tempered and quick to tell you she’s a graduate of Miss Feather’s School for Refined Ladies of Culture and Proper Decorum. She keeps to herself that her nickname at the school was Demerit Damsel. She has a devil tongue, you see.
Annalee has come to Cicero Creek, Wyoming to live after losing everything in the Great Fire of Chicago. Single women in these parts are scarce, so when word spreads there’s a new lady in town, the men start showing up. The problem is one man has already decided he’s the man for Annalee, and he’s Boone Hartwell the town’s sheriff.
Like all pioneers, the people of Cicero Creek enjoy any excuse to rally together to socialize. The day Annalee moves into her grandfather’s cabin, neighbors from far and wide—especially the men—come to help. There’s mention here of Boone’s brother, Two Bears. Boone was raised by Indians after the death of his parents. Enjoy the excerpt from this social gathering.
Boone’s back molars hurt. He’d ground them together every time a man came up the lane toward Annalee’s cabin. Some rode in on horseback, a few drove a team of horses or mules attached to buckboards, and two rowed down Cicero Creek in canoes. News of her arrival was like a magnet drawing them all in, and he’d had just about enough of every single man within a twenty-mile radius preening and fawning for Annalee. Every man’s arrival drove him deeper into a dark mood.
He’d been able to tamp his anger earlier when Clarence put his arm around Annalee. And he’d struggled not to get upset when he saw his brother kissing Annalee’s hand. He remained relatively calm by reminding himself that Two Bears knew how his feelings were growing for her. Surely he’d misunderstood what he saw.
Still, not every man had favored well by coming here today. The look on Annalee’s face when Big Jim Thornton showed up with his brood would be a memory he’d chuckle over the rest of his life. He’d been stacking wood along the side of the cabin, near where Big Jim lined up his ragtag girls for an introduction to Annalee. Her eyes grew wide as Big Jim called off his daughters’ names while they stood at attention—dirty, unkempt and hostile.
“Miss Annalee,” Big Jim had said, his thumbs hooked in his suspenders, “these here’s my girls. Pay ‘tention now, ‘cause I’m only gonna say ‘em once. Faith, Frieda, Frannie, Fawn, Felicity, Feather, Fern, Flora, February and the baby, Forever. My wife named her Forever ‘cause she claimed she was through with birthin’ babies—forever.”
Annalee looked first at the line of girls, which contained two sets of twins, and then at Big Jim. “Where…where is your wife, Mr. Thornton?”
“Run off two months back with the travelin’ tinsmith. Left me with these here ten girls and a full set of tin plates and that there tin dishpan I jest give ya.”
The oldest of the girls, who was holding a dirty-faced baby, stomped over to Annalee. “We need a new ma, and you’re it. We done took a vote on it, soon as we heard you got off the stage.” She thrust the scrawling baby into Annalee’s arms. “Here, Forever needs her diapy changed. I’m through bein’ nursemaid to all these kids. I ain’t but eleven years old.” She turned and ran toward the gang of children playing tag in the woods near the creek.
Annalee watched Big Jim’s retreating back as he marched off to the barn, presumably to see what needed fixing there. More than likely he planned to check out the stock. Then she looked at the red-faced, angry, squirming child in her arms. “Ah…Mr. Thornton? You can’t leave your child with me. I’m not prepared to take care of a baby.”
Big Jim, a man rumored to demand his orders be followed, barely paused. “No time like the present to learn. Jest so you know, I done set aside next Friday afta’noon to wed ya. Make sure you’re at the church by one o’clock. I cannot abide a woman bein’ late.”
Two Bears stepped beside Boone. “Did I just hear what I thought I heard?”
Boone folded his arms across his chest and broadened his stance. Annalee puffed up and reared back like a diamond-head snake. “Yup.”
The brothers stood side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder. Two Bears crossed his arms in a mirror image of Boone and grinned. “This ought to be a treat. Big Jim’s got a good hide peeling coming, the way he treats his animals.”
“That’s what I figure.” Boone narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t miss this showdown for the world. The woman is indomitable. If I’m ever in a fight, I hope she’s on my side.”
Annalee stomped after Big Jim. “Mr. Thornton,” she bellowed. “Stop right there, you overgrown, big-feeling, clabber-headed fool!” Before the shocked man could register the list of insults hurled at him, the petite woman thrust the scrawling baby into his arms. “How dare you think for one minute that I, a graduate of Miss Feather’s Finishing School for Refined Ladies of Culture and Proper Decorum, would lower myself to marry an arrogant oaf such as yourself?”
Two Bears grinned. “She’s right fond of that finishing school, isn’t she?”
“Yes, she is. Get used to hearing about it, brother. She’ll hurl it at you every time she gets riled, but mercy ain’t she something when she does? And if I ever catch you kissing her hand again, you’ll be known forever as No Teeth Bear.”
Two Bears laughed. “I could feel the heat of your stare. Why else do you think I did it?”
Annalee was still railing at Big Jim, who was no doubt shocked any woman would and could speak to him in such a forceful manner. “You can’t marry one woman while you’re still married to another, or is that concept too tricky for a moose-jawed lackwit like you to understand? And while we’re talking about concepts, let me inform you that I can’t abide a dictatorial man. No way on God’s green earth would I marry one.”
Big Jim looked flummoxed, his eyes darting around as if he were searching for a place to hide. “Dic…dicta…?”
She planted her hands on slender hips. “Dictatorial. It means someone who issues commands.”
Boone elbowed Two Bears. “Isn’t she beautiful when she’s in full rant?”
Annalee advanced on Big Jim, imitating him as she did. “Now, you git off my prop’a’ty. Take Fern, Feather, Folly and Molly and get goin’ while the gettins’ good. Do I make myself clear?”
Big Jim tentatively—and foolishly—held out his hand. “Can…can I have my dishpan back?”
Yep, Boone thought, smiling as he split another log. Watching her lay into Big Jim Thornton had been the high point of the day. Well, that and seeing Big Jim standing there with a dishpan socked over his head. He snorted. Bet Big Jim’s ears were still ringing, along with his singed pride.