Aviva Vaughn is the author of BECKONED—slow burn women’s fiction inspired by food, travel, and Jane Austen. A lifelong bibliophile, she enjoys a wide variety of genres from historical fiction to science fiction to non-fiction, and loves reading, and writing, hot—scientifically accurate—sex.
As a young adult, Aviva rejected the romance genre. “My mother had at least sixty of those old-school romances with the Fabio-esque covers. I didn’t like the way they depicted women or sex,” she says. However, after becoming a mother herself, she recognized the potential power of fiction as a force for female empowerment.
Her series—BECKONED—features strong, educated, diverse characters, with heroines who speak their mind and heroes who respect them for doing so. She writes so that her daughter will have inspirational, multicultural book characters to identify with, and a depiction of what a healthy relationship looks like both in the power dynamics and in the sex itself.
Aviva is not afraid to try new things, which has made for an interesting—although not always straight forward—life. Her favorite “two truths and a lie” line is: I have ridden bareback in the Navajo nation, I have jumped out of an airplane over New Zealand, and I have gone spelunking in Costa Rica. The answer appears at the end of BECKONED, Part 4: From Barcelona with Love ;^)
For a list of her favorite books, visit AvivaVaughn.com/about
Jann: Let’s welcome Aviva Vaughn to A Slice of Orange blog today to chat about her series BECKONED.
Jann: When did you start writing? Why romance?
Aviva: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write creatively. I’ve written songs, poetry, and fiction at least since I was thirteen, if not before. I’ve always been fascinated with books and words, and have been an avid reader my entire life. Although my writing covers a variety of genres, the first book I decided to publish was a romance, and the reason why was because it told me to. My slow-burn contemporary series, BECKONED, has been a very bossy master. It wouldn’t leave me alone … it beckoned to me. However, it makes sense that I would start with a romance, because my favorite stories are always the ones where the human relationships are the focus, and the challenges that come up are the all too real challenges of human interaction and miscommunication. I mean, I like plot too, but what makes stories pierce your heart is not plot, but the human relationships. What would Star Wars be without the angst of Darth the wayward father, or the war-torn love of Han and Leia? It’s the relationships that hold one captive, and the stories that focus on them are the ones that I return to again and again. Authors like Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, and Margaret Mitchell, who create characters that just seem to keep missing each other over and over, those are the stories I love, but I wanted to give them a modern twist.
I often describe BECKONED as “a modern story told in an old-fashioned way.” By “modern story” I mean that it’s set in contemporary time, and the characters are diverse, and the heroines are strong. By “old-fashioned” I mean that the language and scene setting are very descriptive and literary feeling. My tagline for BECKONED is “slow burn, second-chance romance inspired by food, travel, and Jane Austen.” If your readers would like to read my series starter for free, they can sign-up for it at SmartURL.it/BeckonedLondonFree
Jann: Your series BECKONED–how, when, or where did your idea for the series come to be? Do you have a goal for the series?
Avivia: BECKONED was birthed by a couple of ideas. The first was that as a multicultural reader—I’m of Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, and European descent and I was born and raised in Los Angeles—I was never able to find a character that looked like me, not even one. I wanted to create characters that my own mixed child could relate to and look up to. So I fashioned Angela: an aspiring entrepreneur putting herself through MBA school who just happens to be of a mixed background. The second idea was kind of inspired by one of the parameters Stephenie Meyer uses in TWILIGHT; in her books, vampires’ personalities are fixed when they become vampires, so her hero, Edward, has the values of someone from the early 1900’s. I liked the tension that it created having her modern heroine fall in love with a old-fashioned guy. I also wanted to have a hero who was the complete opposite of my fiery, multicultural Angeleno, and so I looked to Denmark which is a very homogeneous society and is famous for its gender equality and it felt perfect. So I created my hero, Soren Lund, who is a humble, polite real estate heir that has lived a life of boring privilege until he meets fiery Angela—who melts his heart—and realizes he doesn’t want to live without her.
Those twin inspirations, along with my love for food and travel, are what inspired the series. As far as my goal for the series, I want women to feel inspired and empowered by BECKONED. Many readers have said that they look up to Angela and I think that’s wonderful. I happen to know many women like Angela, so she’s not aspirational, she’s inspirational.
Jann: Beckoned Part 6 – Adrift in New Zealand makes its debut on May16th. What can you share with us about this new book?
Avivia: Hhhhmmmm … all I can say is that books 1-4 are kind of like “The Bachelor,” where there is a love triangle, and the man who doesn’t get the girl becomes the focus of Books 5 and 6. Readers have loved that I’ve been tying up the loose end of the guy who “lost”. Part 6 will be a very satisfying conclusion to this part of BECKONED.
Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Avivia: The best writing advice I’ve received can be summed up in four points
My tip: I carry a Bluetooth keyboard so that I can “write on my phone.” This lets me write everywhere. I’ve had this $20 keyboard for four years and it’s still as responsive as ever and it weighs nothing. https://amzn.to/2TpmMli
Avivia: I’m working on a collection of steamy slow-burn stories as a way to introduce different couples to my readers and get their feedback on whom I should turn into my next full-length book. I’ll also have some previously unwritten scenes for Angela and Soren to introduce new readers to BECKONED. This collection might come out as early as March 2019, so stay tuned!
Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?
Avivia: I don’t think I can pick just one! Some of my favorite quotesfrom reviews are:
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Avivia: Choose your favorite way to follow me! I love interacting with readers. If you are in the Southern California area, I have a bunch of readings and signings coming up.
Jann: Thank you Avivia for chatting with us here on A Slice of Orange.
Rain has been pouring off and on for two days. My driveway is a small pond, the backyard is more than saturated, all of our plants look perky and happy, and so am I. As long as I know that my guys are all safe, and I don’t have to go anywhere, I love a rainy day. When I was a little girl, cold rainy days meant that my mother probably had a simmering pot of soup on the stove, meatball, chicken noodle or navy bean…meatball was my favorite… and more importantly, there would be warm cookies waiting when I got off the bus from school. My boys could count on much the same when they were growing up.
It’s funny how a rainy day makes me think of my mother’s cookies, or my own little boys walking in the door inhaling deeply hoping for the aroma of their favorite chocolate chip, peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies.
I just finished a Valentine’s novella, that will be releasing next month, and I’m working on my 1920’s historical women’s fiction novel, and even while I’m writing, food comes up. Some of my characters love to cook, others eat in fine restaurants, others eat absentmindedly at their desks while they work.
As a former food writer, it’s not surprising that I love to write about the dishes my characters enjoy…or not. Some of my favorite research is looking for recipes in antique cookbooks, new cookbooks, online or perusing restaurant menus. Old restaurant menus can give you a real taste of the times, great descriptions and even prices. And antique recipe cards or cookbooks can tell you how differently we cook today. The ingredients, cooking tools, and terminology all can be clues to the era or region of a story.
Since I love both books and cooking, I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks. I have culled the number after a couple of recent moves, but I look for them whenever I’m in used bookstores, and people often give them to me for gifts. One of my favorites is The One Maid Cookery Book, printed in London in 1913. I found this in an antique store. The minute I saw the title I knew I had to have the book. One maid, I have no maid! Oh, wait, I might be the maid!
Another is The American Woman’s Cook Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, and published by Garden City Publishing Company in New York, 1943. This book was left behind in a house my husband and I rented years ago. It’s filled with information on table setting, entertaining, menu planning for every day, holidays, or a limited budget. The pictures are wonderful and set a real flavor for the time.
The rain seems to have slowed outside, and my husband and youngest son will be home soon. I think I’ll go get something warm in the oven. Today I think I’ll go with the chocolate brownies that are loved by Lucy, the main character in my Valentine’s romance #PleaseSayYes.
What are your favorite food memories? Do you use food to set the scene or add to the story when you write? When you read do you skip the food descriptions or do they speak to you? Can you be found sitting in the bathtub reading a cookbook like a novel? Or maybe that’s just me…
Since Thanksgiving is a week away, it’s only natural that many of us are thinking about food. I love autumn and all the wonderful dishes that make up the traditional Thanksgiving feast, but did you know how many of them are New World foods?
The food supply expanded when Columbus “discovered” the New World. There were no potatoes, yams, tomatoes, pumpkins turkeys or maize (Indian corn) in the Middle Ages.
In Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s (& Editor’s) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths, author Susanne Alleyn takes a swipe at Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage in the Disney movie. The carriage it doesn’t bother me so much, since Disney’s Cinderella is apparently set in the 18th century, if the gowns are anything to go on. At least it’s an improvement on the scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the Huntsman leads Snow White into an American forest. I’m pretty sure I spotted a raccoon and an alligator. (Known fact: You can’t trust Hollywood when it comes to research.)
There was also no chocolate, no tea and no coffee in the Middle Ages. Peasants drank beer at every meal. The nobility drank wine. The introduction of coffee and tea in the 17th century helped to sober up Europe for the Industrial Revolution, thank goodness. Even the sober Pilgrims and Puritans drank beer in the 1600’s. If you’re writing a Medieval romance, don’t show your characters drinking tea, even if it’s herbal. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese, and didn’t enter the English language until around 1655. Herbal infusions, sometimes called tisannes, were mainly used for medicinal purposes.
Chocolate is native to the Americas, so the Spaniards were the first Europeans to encounter it. It became popular at court after the Spanish added sugar or honey to sweeten the natural bitterness. From there, chocolate spread through Europe in the 1600’s, and how thankful I am that it did. The best hot chocolate I’ve ever had was the dark, molten variety you find in France.
Coffee drinking started in Arabia in the middle of the 15th century and had spread to Europe in the 16th century. It became more popular after 1600 when Pope Clement VIII declared it a “Christian” beverage. When Britain cut off America’s tea supply during the War of 1812, Americans turned to coffee and we’ve been a coffee-drinking nation ever since.
Tea comes from Asia and was introduced to Holland in 1610, in common use by 1675; introduced to England about 1660, where it steadily increased in popularity. The ritual we know as afternoon tea didn’t start until the 1840s. Afternoon tea was for the idle rich and includes finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. High tea, which isn’t nearly as grand as it sounds, was the name for the evening meal used by the working class and features a hot dish like a meat pie or stew.
Linda McLaughlin w/a Lyndi Lamont
When the calendar changes to September, the days begin to quickly change. The neighborhood kids walk to school with brand new backpacks and shiny lunch-boxes, and I can hear the morning announcements from the elementary school one block from my house. The leaves will soon turn oranges, golds and browns and slowly drift from the trees, and the air will turn brisk and nippy… okay, well maybe not here in Los Angeles, but it’s happening somewhere besides my imagination. Autumn is a time of renewal, exciting and fresh with lots of possibilities.
Passing Labor Day for me still means putting away my white clothes…although here in Southern California we never really put away our summer clothes… working on holiday projects and planning new menus.
I re-evaluate and update my goals for the year, and I remind myself to count my blessings, as we head toward the end of the year.
So now that Labor Day has passed and the days are moving quickly toward autumn, have you paused to take stock of your goals and count your blessings and do you put away your white clothes for another year (or is that just me)?
Before I began writing fiction I was a food writer. I thought I’d share one of my favorite autumn recipes with you.
Autumn Delicious Cake
1 spice cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 T cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Combine cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Put cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, pumpkin water and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread half of batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with ½ of the cinnamon sugar, then top with the remaining batter spreading it evenly over the sugared layer, reserve half of the cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a fork or skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then flip onto a serving platter, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
And the Kindle Scout benefits just keep on coming…
Cinderella is a smart shopper and she loves a deal.
Especially from Amazon.
Amazon loves to promote their Kindle Scout winners (officially Kindle Press or KP Authors). I’ve seen my fellow authors show up on Kindle Daily Deals, as the lead book in emails, and earning that coveted “#1 Best Seller” Orange Banner.
This month until November 30th, my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER is an Amazon Holiday Deal! The discounted price is $1.99. Check out my video below:
Another benefit is the wonderful support you receive from the other authors.
Iâ€™m so proud to be a Kindle Scout Winner and Kindle Press Author â€” a big bonus for me was meeting and hanging out with the other winners.
Such a talented, witty group â€” and good cooks, too!
So a bunch of us decided to cook our books. Weâ€™ve just released a FREE anthology of recipes:
You can read an excerpt from my book along with a fun chat with my heroines, Liberty and Pauletta Sue.
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