Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dancing Naked in Dixie

I'm having serious hair envy over my guest today. And of course, it doesn't hurt that she has the same first name as my youngest granddaughter. Combine that with an attention grabbing book title and I'm pleased as punch to introduce my guest. Lauren Clark writes novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. 

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at

Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during her book tour and to the host with the most comments.

Goodness! Who doesn't love a prize? Follow the tour and comment! The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. How cool is that? The tour dates can be found here:

Lauren, I've got one of your fav coffees for you to enjoy while we talk. Tell us, what is your life like away from the computer? Tell us something about your household.  I’m a busy mom of two boys (7 and 14) so there are Lego toys all over my house. Stepping on one is murder – number one, because it hurts, and number two, because you have to dig out the directions and figure out how to put it back together!  I live in a 110-year old house in a historic part of our city. My neighbors are wonderful and I am fortunate to have a circle of close girlfriends. I read a lot – my bedside table is full of books!  I’ve loved to read since I was a child. (My parents shut off the television all summer, every summer, so reading was a great way to spend lazy afternoons!)
What authors and genres do you like to read? My favorite author is Sophie Kinsella. I love the way she tells a story—and I appreciate that her characters aren’t perfect. I adore that her writing makes me laugh out loud! I’m such an eclectic reader and love many authors – Emily Giffin, Juliette Sobanet (Kissed in Paris, Sleeping with Paris) Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, and Audrey Niffenegger did a great job with The Time Traveler’s Wife. I also just finished El James’ Fifty Shades of Grey….steamy!!
Shhuu!! I'm reading it, too.

What is the story behind your book title? I really panicked about the title. I was unsure that readers would like it and didn’t want anyone to think it was erotica. The members of a book club I visited changed my mind—I was there talking about my first novel, Stay Tuned, and everyone asked about my next book. When I shared the title, everyone exclaimed and got really excited, so I knew then that I had to keep the “Naked” in Dixie.

Also, I began with the idea that PD’s pastry creation was going to be the “something special” that made people want to ‘Dance Naked,’ but the story was really Julia’s. After thinking about it, I added the “I’d rather dance naked” comment to her new boss—underscoring how upset she was about being sent to Eufaula. It also provided some nice romantic tension at the end between Julia and Shug!
What part of the writing process brings you the most pleasure? The most angst?  I adore the actual creative part – writing the chapters, developing the storyline and the characters. I detest proofreading. My eyes glaze over and I don’t even see the words after a few pages.

What are you currently working on?  I am researching my next novel, The Pie Lab. The setting will include the real restaurant (of the same name) in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends. 
The Pie Lab, on its own, is a great concept, as the business offers on the job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.

Has your road to publication been a walk in the park or a steep mountain climb? Give us some details?  What a learning experience!  Mountain Climb, definitely!  I actually had a publishing house offer me a contract for Stay Tuned, my first novel. My attorney advised against it, because there was no marketing plan and the royalties were very low. When I decided to go it on my own, I established my own publishing company, Monterey Press, hired an editor to polish up the manuscript, then worked with a graphic artist for the cover design and formatting of Stay Tuned into an ebook and paperback. Once that was finished, I tackled marketing and publicity, reaching out to bloggers and entering the book in contests (It won accolades in both the Writers Type and Dragonfly Book Awards).

I have to say, for Dancing Naked in Dixie, the process has been MUCH easier!! I’ve had help from some excellent editors, graphic designers, and other industry talent. I’m working with Laura Pepper Wu of on the publicity—reaching out to local media, indie bookstores, and regional magazines.


Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage? 

The Best Butts in Alabama, the huge billboard above my head brags. A robust pink pig, dressed in blue overalls and a cowboy hat, winks down at me. Next to the hog’s turned up nose, royal blue letters read ‘Phil’s Bar-B-Q.’ 

Phil certainly knows how to make a first impression. As does Mother Nature.

The sunshine beats down on my shoulder through the window. Is it always this muggy in December? I swipe at my forehead with the back of my hand and do quick surveillance.

Where is the historic, elegant city I was promised in the letter? There is a normal-looking church across the street, a run-of-the-mill real estate business to my right, and a tiny hole-in-the-wall place called The Donut King, which seems to be doing ten times more business than the Winn-Dixie grocery store I just passed.

So far, all I see of Eufaula, Alabama is more in-your-face commercial than traveler chic. Of course, I’m not in the best frame of mind to become one with my surroundings.

After a lousy Thursday morning of sulking and a rushed packing job, I sent an RSVP with regrets for the fundraiser, gave away my tickets to the Met, left a voice mail for Andrew, and changed my ticket to an earlier departure.

Hours later, after fighting through JFK security, surviving the cramped flight to Atlanta, I spent the night in Buckhead, Georgia, picked up my enormous rented SUV this morning (it was either that or a red minivan), and began driving the three-and-a-half hours to reach my pinhole-on-a-map destination.

All to save my job.


Check out her website at


Lauren Clark said...

Vonnie - Thank you so very much for hosting Dancing Naked in Dixie ~ I am thrilled to be here on your blog!

Love your writing buddy and chief editor ... I think I need one of those :)

Congratulations on your own work. Nice nod for the Awards of Merit for a Best Book by a Virginia writer.

All the best, Lauren

marybelle said...

I enjoyed the interview thank you. I'm so glad you kept the title: DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE is attention getting & sounds like such a fun read.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Lauren today.

MomJane said...

I love books that make me smile. I even giggle at some. I think this book has it all. I can hardly wait to read it.

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm pleased to have you here, Lauren. We're getting ready to travel from southern VA to northern MD so we can see our "own" Lauren this weekend. Yup, I'm going for my "grandma fixx." Have a great day here at Vintage Vonnie. And much success to you with DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE.

Karen H in NC said...

Enjoyed the interview today and I'm sold on that title. Don't think it would be the same without it!

What characters are the hardest/easiest for you to write: The hero, the heroine, the villain (or villainess), the secondary male & female characters? What are the most fun to write?

Lauren Clark said...

Marybelle - Yes, it certainly is attention-getting - though I feel like I should label it like the movie ratings!!! (G to PG) LOL Lauren

lauren Clark said...

MomJane ~ Dancing Naked in Dixie should make you smile (or I haven't done a good job!)

Julia Sullivan gets herself in soooo much trouble and it is fun to see how she gets out of it all!

xx, Lauren

Lauren Clark said...

Karen - I would have to say that the main character is the most difficult to write and that character is the one that I STRESS out over the most. The secondary characters (like Mary Katherine, who are deliciously evil) are so much fun to write!) I do have to be careful to give the secondary characters enough depth so that they are not flat and just 'puppets.'

Great question! xx, Lauren

Lauren Clark said...

Vonnie - Enjoy your Lauren time!!! What fun :)

You have a great site here ~ thanks again for hosting Dancing Naked in Dixie!!

xx, Lauren

Calisa Rhose said...

Great interview ladies. Lauren, I thought it might be set in Oklahoma because we have a lake and town named Eufala. :) Your book sounds like a fun read. Love the title! My newest editor loved Paws, Claws and Lacey Bras for my recently contracted contemporary. I had/have the same hesitation as you about it seeming erotic. lol I think I've got her shifted from that title finally. :) But yours is fun! Who wouldn't or hasn't danced nekkid in the south?

Sharing Vonnie's hair envy.

Anonymous said...

My head got turned by the picture of the petits fours. Guess I'm turning into Cookie, looking forward to The Pie Lab too, obviously!


Mona Risk said...

Nice 'meeting you' Lauren. I always have fun at Vonnie Vintage--wink to Vonnie. Imagine my surprise when you said you love 2 of my favorite authors Sophie Kinsella and Juliette Sobanet. Of course I read both, Kissing in Paris and Sleeping with Paris. Give me anything in Paris and I am there in the blink of an eye. You have a fabulous title. I usually sweat my titles and often change them.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Hi ladies. Fun interview. From the tone of your story description, I think the title is inspired, Laura. Sassy and fun. My type of book.

Catherine Lee said...

I've seen The Pie Lab in Southern Living. That will be such a great setting. I hope your research involves baking and/or tasting LOTS of pies.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Nancy Jardine said...

Hello there to both. I love the heat of the south- I guess I'm meaning literally here! Your book sounds great, Lauren. Best wishes with your tour and ...beyond with sales.