Sunday, December 31, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Champagne will be drunk, chinese eaten, and loads of laughs I hope....but details later...

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy new year and wonderful start to 2007!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mistletoe Memoirs - The Conclusion is up!

Chapter Four of The Mistletoe Memoirs is up on my website!

Drop by to find out how it all ends, and for a very special recipe at the end! Thanks to Kris Starr for providing the recipe for Glogg, or Mulled Wine, and also for putting up with me and providing critique duties as well.

If I'm not on again, the very best of New Year's too you all. I'll be back in 2007 to post my hopes for the next year!

Cheers!

A correction and progress

In an earlier post, when I was accounting my TBR pile, I listed Her Mother's Shadow as being written by Diane Craver.

As it turns out, Diane Chamberlain wrote that book. And it's still on my TBR pile.

But thanks to Diane Craver for visiting my blog and finding the error! LOL

I am making progress on the WIP. I am in the hardest section. Usually it is chapter four, but this book it has taken it's time appearing and has waited until chapter six. I'll likely have another block/difficult chapter around 8 or 9...and then things seem to come together for the end. Middles are hard. So much balancing...your conflicts are established, but now you have to keep conflict going while developing the romance...resolve things and all the ooomph goes out of your book...too much conflict and it's hard to root for the characters....urgh! Picture me pulling my hair out.

But I know my cp will point me in the right direction and I can fix what I need. It'll all come together in the end. And after some layering, I know that truly, I'm almost half way there. I usually end up somewhere between 12 or 13 chapters.

Meanwhile, come back on Friday...which is really only a few hours from now. I'll be posting the FINAL CHAPTER of THE MISTLETOE MEMOIRS on my website.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reading: Crazy About the Boss

In the interests of catching up on TBR piles, I also inhaled Theresa Southwick's Bella Lucia contribution, Crazy About the Boss.

This is such a great series. I haven't read all of the books, but I love how they stand alone yet you also get a real sense of who the Valentine Family is.

What I really liked about this book were the characters. I liked the feisty heroine, although at times I did wish she'd just give the hero a kick in the ass. That's probably due to my own impatience. But what I really liked about Maddie was that it wasn't perfect Jack she fell for, but the imperfect, wounded side that she'd never seen. Yay! Isn't it great when I woman loves a man FOR his flaws, not despite them? (and makes it believable!). After just having read Fiona's book, I sort of got the idea that grand gestures are not to be underestimated...but that's all I'm saying...you'll have to read the book to find out more.

I am sick with a cold now, darnit, but I can't afford to take the time to be lazy. I got back chapter five from my CP and added a few words to it, lol. And my final proofs for my January Samhain release, Almost a Family, just came through so I'll be giving them a look-see. And then on to chapter six tomorrow. Touch wood, but I don't think I'll have to worry about length on this one. I'm almost 1/3 there and there is SO much story left to tell!

Next up on the reading docket - my copy of Sold and Seduced by my CP Michelle. I started it last night and am already seeing where edits and revisions have tightened up this book, which is very cool. It is neat seeing the rough incarnation and then the finished polished product!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Reading: Blind Date Marriage

I vowed that over the holidays I'd catch up on some reading, so yesterday I read Blind Date Marriage from Romance Newbie Fiona Harper.

I was really looking forward to it. I'd heard great things. Fiona and I are both new to the line and I like her :-) so after a week of staring at it, yesterday I excitedly jumped in.

Fiona, you rock.

I really really enjoyed this book. I saw so many things that she did right. I loved her pacing, her blending of a personal quirkiness with emotion...kid, you did good. :-)

I've said before that I truly believe that one really needs to know their characters, and then that the conflict has to come from WITHIN the characters and Fiona did this like a champ.

Congratulations Fiona on a great debut book. I'm so proud of you! I can't wait to read more.

Donna

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Mistletoe Memoirs...Chapter Three!

Again, because of Christmas craziness (this time volunteering at the school and a 1/2 day for kids tomorrow) I am posting my latest chapter of THe Mistletoe Memoirs a day early.

Pop by the site and have a read! Then come back next Friday for the conclusion!

For the next few days I may not have the chance to blog, so I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and my hopes for a wonderful 2007. Many thanks for stopping in and sharing with me through 2006! I'm already so excited to see what 2007 is going to bring!

Happy Holidays,

Donna

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Girl Most Likely Print release!!!!!!!!!

Apparently whatever issues there were, got fixed. Because The Girl Most Likely released today, in PRINT!



It's not up on Amazon yet, although that link will hopefully be up and going soon...but for right now it's available on Samhain's My Bookstore and More.

I can't wait for the author copies to arrive so I can hold it in my hands!

Getting There

I'm getting there, guys.

My edits for Almost a Family are sent, so the next time I see AAF it should be my final proofs before the e-release on January 9!

I also put the finishing touches on chapter 3 of my online read, so make sure you pop by the site on Friday, as it will be up to read and with a fantastic recipe supplied by brand new Harlequin Romance author Fiona Harper!

I have to finish up the final chapter that goes up on the 29th, and then I should have clear sailing for working on the WIP.

I just remembered that I made up a list of what had to be done this week, so I should go check some things off. I have a few extra tasks every day, and admittedly I'm getting tired. I was in bed and asleep by 10:30 last night and other than nightmare issues (both me and my youngest)slept until almost 7 a.m. I made shortbread last night and every evening after the kids go to bed I continue working on one of their presents...although at this pace I should finish perhaps on Saturday night. LOL. Just in time.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Week Before Christmas

Well, holiday stress has greatly dissipated after last week. Concerts are done. We had our "wing nite" finally with our friends on Saturday, the gifts are bought and I just have the tiniest bit of wrapping left to do, which I will do this afternoon.

All in all it's a good thing, because on the work front I'm busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

My copy edits for Marriage at Circle M arrived on Friday, and less than 24 hours later, so did the ones for Almost A Family. While contractually I have more time, practically, because of the holidays, both sets have to be back in this week. Not to mention whatever else I had on my list to finish book-wise this week.

I did sneak some time here and there and spent time with MCM and my red pen, so this morning everything got finished up and sent back. I also heard back on the partial for Home Fires and I'm good to go - now to just finish it! I'm on to the second set of edits now, as long as my eyes don't permanently cross. LOL.

The good news is, thanks to the husband's help, the house is considerably clean and we did up all the laundry yesterday. We should be good for the week, and then we can do our Christmas clean on Saturday. :-) I also have to make christmas dinner dessert.

Pop by and leave a comment as to what you're doing this week and what traditions are in store for Christmas Eve and the big day!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tagged!

Four jobs I've had:
1.Retail Supervisor
2. Receiver of Revenue for Government
3. Apple orchard worker
4 Elementary School Assistant

Four places I've lived:
1 Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick
2 Fredericton, New Brunswick
3 Calgary, Alberta
4 Only three! LOL

Four favorite foods:
1 chocolate
2 pizza
3.beef
4. French fries

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. An Affair to Remember
2. Love Actually
3. White Christmas
4 The Sound of Music

Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. Battlestar Galactica
2. The Unit
3. NCIS
4.Grey's Anatomy

Four places I've traveled:
1. Florida
2. British Columbia
3 Newfoundland
4. Various other Canadian locations

Four places I'd like to visit:
1. The UK
2. Europe. Seriously, pretty much the whole continent
3. South Africa
4 Hawaii

Four websites I go to daily:
1. e-harlequin
2 The Pink Heart Society
3. Jamie Bamber, this is your website
4. various friends' blogs

Four people tagged:
Kris Starr
Trish Wylie
Fiona Harper
Julie Cohen so she is distracted from impending labour.

Don't forget to pop by the online read!!!!!!!!!!

Chapter Two - The Mistletoe Memoirs

Due to general Christmas Craziness and the fact that tomorrow I'll be running around frantically, I've posted Chapter Two of The Mistletoe Memoirs a day early. Pop on by to see what happens this time with CC and Jake, and don't forget to grab the recipe at the bottom! This time it was graciously provided by Modern Extra's Jenna Bayley Burke!

As a side note to kid cute-ness, my eldest is still writing to Santa. She's 8. I read her letter before she sealed the envelope (parent's perogative). She asked for homes, food and money for homeless. That's ALL she asked for. Not one thing for herself.

Sometimes she just simply amazes me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where to find me today...

Today is Harlequin's Open House, so I'll be in and out of the Romance line post party all day...as well as probably poking my head 'round the corner at the Modern Extra thread and Historicals to visit some friends.

Everyone is welcome to come in and say hi. You'll find many of your favorite authors there...too many to list. It's all great fun so come on over!

THe link is HERE.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Disappointment

I received news today that due to some technical issues, The Girl Most Likely print version will not be available until the January print release date.

I'm understandably disappointed...it seems like I've been waiting FOREVER to hold a copy in my hands. And I was particularly excited about it coming out before Christmas. But there's nothing I can do.

For those of you who won print copies in my launch contest, as soon as I have them, I promise they shall be in the mail.

Once I have a solid date for the release next month, I'll post it.

Donna

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why I had kids

Being a parent is hard. You want to do right by your kids. You want to give them things, teach them things. You constantly second-guess your decisions and wonder if you're giving them the foundation they need to make it in this big, scary world. And you're constantly battling the issue of protecting them vs. letting them make their own decisions and consequences.

But sometimes, and it doesn't happen often, you're given a glimpse of your your child's true nature that makes you feel you've done ok so far.

This is Christmas concert week, and I've delivered several edicts to "Wash your hands". The reason being, is that 3 of the 4 of us have had or are on antibiotics. And there's a stomach bug going around at the school, and I really really don't want either of the girls to be sick this week. Talking to the Asst. Principal this morning, I was reminded of last year when my eldest, then in grade 2, missed her concert. She'd been sick, had gone to dress rehearsal but had arrived a little late and someone else filled in for her. She was tearful, but then later that afternoon threw up again. Only the once. I told her if she wanted we could go to the performance and come right home. And instead, she said that the boy that had filled in for her didn't have a speaking part, and that since he had practiced that morning, he should have an opportunity to do it. SHe said this in the midst of her disappointment while having a warm bath. I remember leaving the bathroom and having a little cry at her generosity. She could have insisted on going. But she didn't. And the next morning she said she was happy that this little boy had had a chance to take part.

Note: my youngest DID make her performance. 10 min later she threw up in her classroom. See? WASH YOUR HANDS.

This weekend my youngest, who is now in grade 1, was getting pretty excited for Christmas and was talking about Christmas Eve. She recently lost both her front teeth so has a very cute lisp and a decided twinkle in her eye. We were in the kitchen and she was talking about the 24th. She touched her belly and said, "Mom, it's like there's this big bag of joy right in here." Then she grinned and said..."And then...it just explodes everywhere."

Have you ever heard a better definition of Christmas?

It's moments like these that make me happy I had kids and let me know I'm doing an ok job after all.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bah, Humbug!

This is why I normally do all my shopping in October.

I went shopping this morning. Things were picked over. What wasn't picked over was in complete disarray. Drivers were stupid. The clerk at the Chapters where I went was stunned. Several of the things I wanted were not findable.

I got home feeling ever so stressed.

Now today was just the "whatever I haven't got yet, I'll finish up" day. And it was a prime example of why one should shop early, and on a Tuesday. ACK!

It is saying something when the Dollar Store 2 km from your home is your BEST event.

The good news is that I got home and my husband and kids had cleaned the house top to bottom and had done laundry. And there is a ham with scalloped potatoes in the oven.

THanks, guys. :-)

Friday, December 08, 2006

My Christmas Present to You!



Starting today, I'm posting an online read on my website. It's called The Mistletoe Memoirs and is the story of CC and how all she really wants is to get Jake under the mistletoe!

Chapter One is up today, with the next three chapters coming each Friday until the final chapter on Dec. 29th. Also, at the end you'll find a recipe for a drink featured within that chapter. All the recipes have been provided by other authors! Today's feature is Eggnog by Michelle Styles and it sure looks yummy!

You can get to the read by my home page.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Almost a Family contest!

It's that time again - time for another contest! Those of you who are on my newsletter list already know the skinny...but here are the details!

Almost a Family e-releases on January 9th. To win a copy of the e-release, answer the following question:

What is Jason's old nickname for Molly?



The answer can be found within the excerpt on my webpage at www.donnaalward.com. Then send an e-mail with the subject line CONTEST to donna@donnaalward.com with your answer. I'll be drawing the winner on release day, January 9th!

And make sure you come back tomorrow for some fun, exciting news!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hired By The Cowboy Cover!

It's a good day.

I got my edits for AAF so am working on those, the antibiotics have kicked in and I'm feeling a bit better, still coughing but less dragged down than yesterday.

And to top it off, my editor sent me the cover for Hired By The Cowboy!

I'm in love. So excited, and so happy with how the Romance covers are looking these days. I've been absolutely antsy waiting to see what they'd done...and they sure didn't disappoint. What do you think?







Copyright 2007 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pity Party

Ok, so the on-again off-again bug that hit late last week has dug in for the duration. I woke up yesterday feeling, as my husband puts it, like five pounds of $hit in a three pound bag. I coughed so much in the morning I threw up. I went to the walk in clinic and an hour and a half later returned home with antibiotics and a cough elixir that has enough codeine in it to put a horse in a coma.

But today I still feel like utter crap. The husband is mended and had to go back to work today, so I had to walk the kids to school and I made a detour to the office to leave messages cancelling my day tomorrow. I was going to volunteer in 2 classes and work the lunch room in between. And the party is tonight, which I backed out of as well. The cough is still so bad that this morning my throat was actually bleeding. I came back from dropping the kids off and took a 1/2 dose of the elixir and made tea. Hopefully I won't pass out while writing this post. :-)

Anyway, I've enough to do this week that between that and the bronchitis, I'm going into the cave. If the antibiotics work wonders I shall pop in to post but if I don't I'm either working or sleeping. THe good thing about doing what I do is that I can work for an hour, sleep for an hour. And no one is annoyed by my barking and whinging.

For those of you on my newsletter list, don't fret, it's coming this week with some fun things in store for December! How glad am I that I drafted it earlier and now only have to tweak it a bit? :-)

Also pop over to my CP's blog for her great news of today. She's much more interesting than I have been lately.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sickies

I think I'm on the other side of the sickies. I haven't had a tylenol since first thing this morning, and I still feel ok. But I do have this persistent cough that is annoying. At 3:30 a.m. I woke up and took more medicine, but was awake at 5:30 still coughing. At that point I decided the recliner in the living room would disturb everyone the least. I slept there until 7.

My house is a mess so I need to tidy up, and the kids and I are doing some baking today. Things that I only make at Christmas time. Chocolate squares, gum drop cake, war cake, gingerbread...I think I shall leave the shortbread for another day as I'm still pretty tired. I used to also make chocolate peanut butter balls, top hat balls, and Hello Dolly squares but honestly I'd rather not have too much baking in the house so I keep it to a minimum.

I'll have to do another batch of cooking mid-month for the school craft and bake sale. That will consist of shortbread and gingerbread decorated and probably caramel corn. Yummy!

OK now I'm getting tired just thinking about it. I'd better go do more dishes. :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A new review and getting things done

Well, The Husband has been generous and passed his bug on to me. I am without the fever and only with a slight cough at the moment but the problem is that I'm tired and very achy. I have some things to do today, but once they are done, I'm going to laze about on the sofa. The dh is still home with his bronchitis, although much improved since he started his antibiotics. So he'll probably pick the kids up this afternoon.

My partial is getting sent to my editor today, right on time.

All my Christmas parcels AND my contracts are being mailed right after I drop the kids off at school - with the van again. :-)

Other than that, I think I'm good.

A new review came in for The Girl Most Likely from Fallen Angel Reviews. The reviewer gave it four angels and said, "There are numerous poignant scenes throughout which will touch readers immensely while also demonstrating how well Ms. Alward has drawn readers into the story. This is my first book by this author, but she has definitely caught my attention with her fluid style and fun characters."

The whole review is available HERE.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fangirly SQUEEEE!

I have tickets to see Il Divo!

THe show's not until April, but even by the time I got online to buy them the first night, the seat selection was limited. Anyway it won't matter, everything will be up on the screens and the big thing is to HEAR them. As Carlos would say..."I'm very happy!" LOL

My contracts also arrived yesterday, so getting those ready to mail is first on the list.

But, the husband is sick which isn't much fun. He was laid flat on the weekend with fever and general ickiness, then the cough started. Yesterday I took him to the dr. and for xrays, and he has bronchitis and is on antibiotics. FUN. I had taken the morning off of writing to get my out of town shopping done, which I did, but I missed my weekly volunteering session in dd1's class, so that's on the agenda for this afternoon. Add that into getting this partial ready to send to my cp by tonight and to my editor by tomorrow night, plus getting the boxes together and heading to the post office, and the state of my house....well, I'll see you guys again on Friday. Maybe.

And we're at the end of a deep freeze here. One bonus to him being sick is that I've had a vehicle, which is good because with a windchill in the -30 something range all week, I've been able to drive the kids to school instead of walk.

Ok, now I'm off to get to work - no more fooling around!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Back Cover Blurbs

I got my back cover blurbs for both Hired By The Cowboy and Marriage at Circle M today. I am so excited, I love them and got chills reading them!

First, from Hired By The Cowboy:

Wanted: one contract bride!

Alexis Grayson is good at looking after herself – she's been doing it all her life. So what if she's alone and pregnant? She'll cope! But gorgeous cowboy Connor Madsen seems determined to take care of her. And Alexis can help him – he needs a temporary wife; she needs somewhere to live until the baby's born. A short-term marriage will solve all their difficulties!

As Alexis gets to know the courageous, honourable Connor, she realises that she might have made the biggest mistake of her life. Because all this wife for hire wants is a marriage for real!


And for Marriage at Circle M:

Secrets are hard to keep in a small town…

But Grace Lundquist is determined to hide her pain. Hardworking, pretty and always cheerful, she’s the town's sweetheart. Everybody loves her…

Mike Gardner can see right through Grace's act. And, try as she might to keep the strong, gorgeous rancher out of her business, Grace can't douse the spark between them. Except she will never be able to give him the one thing he really needs – a family to call his own.

But all this cowboy wants is Grace in his arms…


I can't wait to have covers to go with them!

Otherwise, things are going well. Good friends of ours had a baby less than a week ago, only for the baby to have some medical difficulties...but we got the call last night that the prognosis is good, so that's a huge relief.

I am middle of the way through chapter 2 of the new book and feeling optimistic that it isn't, as Kris says, Mule Puke.

Yesterday I used the word ostensibly in a sentence.

See? It's all good.

Have a good weekend, all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome to the World, Ansley!

I can't believe how absurdly excited I am to make the following announcement:

I am a great aunt!

My nephew and his wife have a baby girl, Ansley Grace Jones. They almost lost her a few months ago, and Becky has been in hospital ever since. Last night Ansley was born, weighing 3 lbs 3 oz and screaming like a champ apparently. She must have the Jones lungs (my maiden name). All seems to be well, although she IS a preemie so she'll be in hospital for a while.

You know, it doesn't make me feel old, instead I feel younger! My mom, a great-grandmother for the first time, said the same thing.

I can't believe my nephew is a Daddy. There's only 8 years between us. But I still think of him as a boy, you know?

Congrats, Matt and Becky!

TV

While I was away, I set up a lot of my favorite shows to tape. Grey's Anatomy, for one. And I am still giggling at Patrick Dempsey. His line - "Have you tried soap? I hear it's good and slippery." was delivered with such a cute, impish expression I rewound it and watched it a good half dozen times. Then there was NCIS. THe dynamics have changed a bit this season and it throws me off a bit...but I like the development of Tony's character, and I like how McGee is getting more buff...You know Sean Murray is actually quite cute!

I taped Battlestar and honestly I'm ready to see more of the humans and less of the cylons. And More.Lee.Is.Required. I have it on good authority there is an episode where Jamie and Tahmoh box. DROOOL!

But the best show I taped was The Unit. While I was gone it was a "Bob" episode. It paralelled Bob's current "pickle" with how he made it through selection into The Unit...somethine we hadn't seen before. He was the newbie to the team last year and now we know how he got there. There were some good one liners courtesy of Bob too. And last night's episode - Report By Exception - was AMAZING. I felt totally gypped at the end. Dennis Haysbert was SO HOT in this episode, and at the end he unbuttons his shirt, peels it off his shoulder and....

credits. Sigh.

His character, Jonas, is usually the "dad" of the team. But last night he was the leader of the mission and so incredibly hot....

Have I said that he was hot?

LOL

I've finally sunk my teeth into the new book, which is due January 31st. It is a good feeling to be working, although my contracts are due anytime and I'll have to take a break to go over things, etc. And I'll have some work to do on the January Samhain release. Still, if I can manage 1000 - 1200 words a day, I'll be in good shape. With the kids in school, and me not working lunchroom, it should come much easier.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Orlando, baby!

So, on to the trip.

Until a week and a half ago, I'd never really been on a bonafide trip. Our honeymoon even was driving from New Brunswick to Newfoundland, and we had a blast, but this was the first time we have gotten on a plane to go somewhere OTHER than home to visit family. And I really didn't get excited until I hit the airport and got all giggly with the customs agent, who was a complete doll.

We didn't get into Orlando until almost 1 a.m., picked up our rental car, drove to the resort and by the time we got up to our apartment and put kids to bed, etc., it was 3:30 before we got to sleep and we were up bright and early (before 7) in the a.m. But that was FINE. We were READY. LOL I had coffee on the balcony in SHORTS, looking over the palms. I had never seen palm trees before.

On Sunday we hit the Magic Kingdom and had a blast. All the kids went on Splash Mountain, including the big kids. Then the younger ones stuck to carousels, Magic Carpets, Dumbo, etc. My brother in law Pat, my husband, my 10 yr old niece and I then did Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain roller coasters and had a ball. After the Spectromagic parade, we watched the fireworks. I didn't realize it's all choreographed to a story...and at the end, both my sister in law and I were wet around the lashes. LOL.


Our next trip out was Seaworld and it was my favorite day. It was less "amusement parkish" and very personal. We started out patting the stingrays, which are like slimy velvet and so very cool to watch. Then we went to the Shamu show. I was so touched. It is amazing to see these huge animals be so gentle. I didn't realize the show would be so much interaction between trainers and animals right in the water. When they play the song "Believe" and they "dance" together it hits you square in the heart.

After some lunch we saw sharks, penguins, puffins, manatees...and we did the Journey to Atlantis ride. My niece totally turned me into a giant kid and convinced me to sit in the very front. OMG. We hit the bottom and I was soaked. Then I didn't realize there's a second part to the ride, we got THERE and a big wave came up over and crashed on my feet. I was so wet I had to change my shorts because you could see RIGHT THROUGH THEM. We darn near busted a gut. Then we hit the dolphin show which in my opinion was even better than Shamu. At the end, when there are dancers, dolphins, birds and flag wavers, I was overwhelmed and admittedly cried again. We also fed the dolphins and touched them which was beyond cool. After going to the "dolphin nursery" they closed the park and we went back to the resort.


Another day we went to Typhoon Lagoon water park. The wave pool generates 6 ft waves and sounds like a giant toilet flushing when it starts. I'd hear it and get all excited. LOL But the best part of the day was the Crush'n Gusher. It's a "watercoaster". You sit in a double tube that looks like a peanut (and there are 2 and 3 person ones) and away you go, up and down and through the water until you come out screaming at the bottom. My 8 yr old went with her uncle and I went with my neice, then we went back for Dad. The 3-person line was much faster, and after we came down he had this big grin on his face. There was no one waiting so he asked the lady, "Can we go again?" LOL He was a giant kid - I think we did it 7 or 8 times, the three of us all together (and OMG you go MUCH faster with three!).

We spent an afternoon shopping at Downtown Disney and I haven't even touched on the resort. We stayed at Bonnet Creek, about 5 min from Magic Kingdom. On the "off" days we played beach volleyball, swam in the 2 pools, tubed the Lazy River, lounged in the hot tubs, played ping pong...and generally laughed our asses off. I laughed so much.


It was truly a trip of a lifetime..and the good news is we might even go back in 2009 for Christmas...how cool would that be?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back in the saddle

Wouldn't you know. I spend a week acting like a total child, get home and my body decides to do the exact opposite and go all OLD on me. I've thrown out my back. I am using the excuse that sitting so long in extremely uncomfortable airplane seats is the culprit. Right now I could kiss and hug the agent in Calgary who upgraded us on the way to Orlando. From Denver to Orlando we had more leg room than I knew what to do with. Alas, not on the way home.

One nice thing is that I came home to two new reviews for The Girl Most Likely. Love Romances and More gave it 4 hearts and had this to say:

"Author Donna Alward has given readers two characters that truly belong together even if only one of them thinks so. The attraction is very intense, but this isn’t an erotic story. It is very sweet. There is true romance and very little sex, which is very refreshing, kudos to Ms Alward!

This reviewer was impressed with the idea of the restaurant that Katie came up with. In this day of fast food and convenience, it is a wonderful idea to have food that is not only healthy and convenient but yummy too. And Katie isn’t afraid of hard work.

THE GIRL MOST LIKELY is a wonderful book that should not be missed. This reviewer is very impressed and will certainly look forward to future offerings from this author."


What I love about this review is that the reviewer totally gets how I write sexual tension. My romances are "sweet", but I really try to keep that edge of tension all the way through, and it looks like I did my job! And of course, I don't mind garnering a new reader either!

THEN, the icing on the cake, was my review from The Romance Studio.
It got 5 hearts! WOOOOOOOT! The reviewer says: "Ms. Donna Alward, author, did a superb job of writing this story. It was compelling and I really had a hard time putting it down. The book left me wanting to know more and trying to find other books by Ms. Alward. You will definitely not be disappointed if you read this book!"

To read the whole reviews, just click on those links (the ones for the review sites in the body of the post).

Now...I have tons to catch up on. Tomorrow I'll post a few pics about my trip. And oops - I almost forgot. Look at this picture and see if he doesn't remind you of the hero on my AAF cover below:

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yes, I'm still alive

I was cryptic, I know.

Truth is, I just spent a wonderful week in Orlando. We took the kidlets and had a fabulous time, and I'll post more about that later.

I'm still here, though. :-)

And as an aside to the cover I posted before I left, wait until Monday when I post who I am certain my hero model is. LOL. Or at least who I think he looks like.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A splendiforous day!

I logged on to some great news today.

First of all, here's the cover for my January release. Many thanks to Samhain's cover artist, Vanessa Hawthorne, who designed it. She was awesome to work with and got some great details RIGHT.



And then, I got an e-mail from a reviewer at Romance Junkies! The Girl Most Likely scored a 4 1/2 ribbon review!

She said..."Readers will love Katie’s determined spirit and the way her self-confidence grows as she gets the business up and running. Both characters are battling their own insecurities and believe me, you don’t want to miss their triumphs!"

And they included this...my first ever review graphic!



You can go HERE to read the whole review.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Antsy

*taps fingernails on desk*

I am antsy. I'm in that limbo point where I'm not really working on the WIP this week (for reasons that will become obvious in the near future, how's that for cryptic?) and I'm waiting for a few things.

First of all I'm waiting for my contract to arrive from Toronto. Now I realize it could be a few weeks but last time it was here within 3 days and I'd love to be able to mail it back by Friday.

Secondly I'm waiting for approval for my cover of Almost a Family, my Samhain January release. I've seen it, I like it a lot, but I need to get the official go ahead before I can post it on here.

You know, I'm not a violent person but this morning I got really annoyed. This guy is dropping his kid off at school (not our school, the other one) and pulls up and stops RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROSS WALK. Then as I'm walking home, he goes to turn and cuts me off at the alley. Dude, pedestrians have the right of way. Get your head out of your butt.

Tomorrow is my last day at the temporary school job. It's been fun being back and I'll miss seeing everyone (just like I did before) BUT I will not be sorry to have my day back for writing again.

Now I'm off to hound the e-mail some more. Stay tuned because I can't wait to post my cover!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Newsletter

Well, I signed up for Bravenet and decided I didn't like it- for now. Which is ok. Perhaps down the road, if/when it becomes too hard to manage subscribers, I'll go that way. But for now...I'm gonna do it the old fashioned way. Plain old e-mail. I just didn't feel like the template I had set up for Bravenet seemed very personal. Perhaps I just need a course on HTML. Who knows. LOL.

SO, as I'm drafting up a November newsletter, this is your formal invitation to sign up to my mailing list if you haven't already. All you have to do is send an e-mail to donna@donnaalward.com and put "Newsletter" in the subject line.

And then watch your inboxes for the next installment!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Page Turning Quality (PTQ)

I devoured a book over the weekend - scratch 2 from the TBR pile. Last week I finished Start Late, Finish Rich. And this weekend I read The DaVinci Code. All of it.

Now, that's not to say it's a perfect book. Far from it. At times, especially in the beginning, there was simply too much detail. It felt a bit like reading a travel tour book. "On your right you'll see the blah blah from the thirteenth century, constructed completely out of..." that sort of thing. Also, I am not sure of the correct use of the past participle of awake, which is awoken, but OH MY GOD Mr. Brown overused it. Everytime I read it I got frustrated. It really pulled me out. I'd give an example but it's monday morning and I'm not that ambitious to go through the pages. AND, my final complaint is character development. Or lack thereof. We do get bits and pieces of Sophie more than Robert, but not much. We see more of Sophie simply because her family past is part of the plot. There is a feeble attempt at depth with Robert's Mickey Mouse watch. In a more well-rounded development, it might have been significant. But that importance was lost because without anything else, it didn't mean much besides looking silly.

HOWEVER. I couldn't put it down despite these things. And so I have to say, Dan Brown is a master at constructing an external plot. This book has MAJOR PTQ.

The characters were either only a half step ahead of the bad guys, or a step behind, leaving you wondering how the heck they were going to get out of it. I kept reading and reading and reading. The history, the tiny details of deciphering the clues, were brilliant. And it's been a long time since I had the burning need to just read read read and get through to the end - especially in a book of that size. That says it for itself.

If I were to rate this book I'd still have to give it an 8-9 out of 10, with the marks being deducted for lack of character depth and that damned word, AWOKEN. :-)

Now I'm off for tons of tiny jobs that must be done.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!

Harlequin Romance has bought my sequel!!!!!!!!!!

I sent my revisions yesterday, and this morning I had an e-mail with some of the sweetest words on the planet: I’ve read your revisions, and I think you’ve cracked it! I’m going to call you in a couple of hours to talk contracts...

I cried. I admit I did, and I didn't when I made the first sale. But second book-itis hit hard when I started this one, and I worked damn hard. I loved this book the whole time, cried writing the ending. So when she called and said they were buying it AND that they were offering a 2-book contract...you can't imagine how I felt. My next book is due Jan 31. And I pitched the soldier story and got the go ahead.

This day cannot POSSIBLY get any better.

I even get to keep the title - Marriage at Circle M AND it's a September 2007 release. So two books out next year with Harlequin, and one with Samhain. What a year this has been - four sales since March.

I know I say it a lot, but many many thanks to my CP Michelle. You RULE.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Light at the end of the tunnel

My revisions are almost there. I have to give a final readthrough to make sure things are seamless and make sense, but the bulk of the writing of them is done.

I love my editor. And that's no exaggeration. I was in the middle of the trickiest part yesterday and sent her an e-mail. She responded, putting my mind at ease. She is very good at that. One of the things I really appreciate is how she's so upbeat and positive. Even when she sees problems, she offers solutions. She makes me see possibilities. If I'm feeling blah about something her enthusiasm is infectious. Working with her has been nothing but fun.

Yesterday was frantically busy, and I was all sixes and sevens in the afternoon, working at the school on Halloween (what was I thinking?) and then our own halloween evening...but when dh took the kids out, I finished up the 30 pages I had left. When he returned I was a different person. LOL I watched tv until 11. Last night was my fave tv night. Dancing with the Stars, NCIS and The Unit. Tonight is the DWTS results show...and Il Divo is performing!!!!!!!!!! I love them, so I must tape it. I can't wait.

Now I'm off to do the school run and back to finish up. I think I shall change the font of my ms document for the read-through and see if the perspective changes. I'd print it out, but I don't think I have enough paper left in my brick. :-)

One more thing - it is Samhain Publishing's first anniversary today! Pop over to the cafe and join in the festivities!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Into the Cave

I did NOT want to think about what might be in my revisions e-mail, and I also wanted to have things done so I didn't have to do them this week. I wanted to be able to FOCUS. SO this is what I did this weekend.

Saturday morning I washed all the bedding, tidied up from breakfast, dug out the Halloween decorations and we put them up. Then all of us took in our recyclables, dropped by the bank machine, recylcled some old computer equipment and went to the dollar store.

After lunch, the husband and I cleaned the house. In addition, I washed the walls and the cupboards in the bathroom - officially the END of spring cleaning, LOL! I took clothes off the line. I worked out. I folded towels and put them away. I organized the very few christmas prezzies I had. And I did the ironing.

Yesterday was church. In the afternoon we got groceries. We had homework to get done. Dh carved a pumpkin with the kids. I got craft stuff ready and the girls and I made ornaments for the church bazaar coming up. We had supper and tidied up. Phew!

AND, my revisions came this morning. As revisions go they are minor...one is a tweak through a few scenes and the other is a layer to add...but it may take me some time. Adding a whole new layer and motivation affects the whole book.

SO, I'm taking the week to do them, and I'm heading into the cave. I shall emerge by Friday. If I don't....and Kriss BACK OFF - send in the mounties. Or maybe cowboys would be more appropriate. LOL

Grabs flashlight and heads fearlessly into dark revision cave....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Character and conflict in your opening paragraphs - and an update

Julie posted today about how your opening paragraphs can say something about your character(s) and conflict. And she posted a challenge to others to do the same. I'm only posting one because I'm in a huge hurry today.

Without further ado:
From HIRED BY THE COWBOY, Harlequin Romance, May 2007

“Miss? Wake up. Can you hear me?”
The deep voice came first, then Alex’s vision gradually started to clear.
“Oh thank God. Are you all right?”
Alex’s eyes followed the sound of the voice as she looked up, dazed. Trying hard to focus, she found herself staring into the most beautiful set of brown eyes she’d ever seen. They were stunning, dark brown with golden flecks throughout, large and thickly lashed. So we know he's a stranger, and a stunner. And that he's basically rescued her...
Men shouldn’t have eyes that pretty, she thought irrationally, realizing with a jolt that she was captured in the arms of the eyes’ owner.
“Oh, goodness!” She's not comfortable being in this position! The eyes crinkled at the corners at her exclamation and she felt his hands on her arm and behind her back, helping her to rise.
“Slowly now. You fainted.”
Really? I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy being unconscious. She bit back the sarcastic retort when she saw the genuine concern in his eyes. He even made sure she was standing firmly on her feet before releasing her—and then stayed close, as if he didn’t quite trust her to remain steady. We see that he's chivalrous, and by her noticing, we know she's not used to that from men.
He would have fainted too, in her condition and with this heat…and the lack of air conditioning in the convenience store hadn’t helped much either. What's her condition? A little mystery (although it's pretty obvious).
“I’m so sorry,” she blustered, brushing off her pants and avoiding his eyes. She avoids his eyes because she's embarrassed and uncomfortable. And so we have questions. What's going on with her, who is this knight in shining armor and how is he going to fit into the picture?

Openings need to do a few things...give us a basic sense of character, of conflict, and most of all I try to give them action. I hate it when books start with internal monologue backstory. Throw me into the thick of it. Most of the time I have my characters together in the first few paragraphs, and the first few pages for sure. I aim for immediacy.

I got a brief note from my editor saying I'd get revisions after the weekend. Yay! It was a positive note so I'm very, very happy.

I also did my banking. Let's just say it's a darker spot on my otherwise lovely day.

Have a marvelous weekend, all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Need to Read More

I'm not sure how to fit it into my day, but I need to read more.

I used to devour books. I really did. But since I started writing, that has slowed to a crawl. Especially the last year or so...between working part time a lot, writing, kids, the house, choir, etc. etc. the list goes on, sometimes I just need to veg in front of the tv. And even when I do that, quite often I'll have knitting in my hand.

But I do need to read more.

On the PHS today a member posted that she had a spreadsheet to track her TBR pile. I think that's possibly a bit anal but really smart and organized. I have books sitting around that are not organized AT ALL. So, I'm starting a TBR list. I think I'll put it on my webpage too, the next time I update. And then, once I finish one, I'll check it off. For the record, for the most part I am not including most category length in here because usually I impulse buy those and devour them in a few hours. They are lovely little morsels for me. BUT, without further blathering, here is my list of what's on the shelf and not yet tackled:

Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach - half done
Friendly Fire by Michael Friscolanti - half done
A Tangled Web by Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Noble Captive by Michelle Styles
There's Something About Christmas by Debbie Macomber
The DaVinci Code
Angels and Demons both by Dan Brown
Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherford
Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe, which I shall finish nevermore.
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Romola by George Eliot
Her Mother's Shadow by Diane Craver

Then there are other non-fictions that I should read just to LEARN - I usually buy these through my daughter's scholastic book orders, because they are simple, not university depth texts, but give really nice overviews. So far I have

Usborne Introduction to Art
Usborne Introduction to Archaeology
And bigger tomes of "Don't Know Much about Mythology" and "The Handy History Answer Book".

I think I've about maxxed my book budget for a while. LOL

So there it is, for the record. Oy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Organization

So I don't know if it's submission jitters from handing in MCM, procrastinating starting something new (I still make myself write, lol), or hormone fluctuations, but I'm on an organizational kick.

One thing most people don't realize is that just because you've sold a book doesn't mean you're swimming in moola. Without mentioning exact numbers, I can tell you that category romance advances do NOT make you rich by a long stretch. And royalties? Well guys, my first release comes out in May and I won't see royalties until probably a year after that. Right now every little bit I bring in is BONUS money. Even if/when I do really get a good head of steam going, I doubt I'll ever have a big salary. A very nice second income for the family? Maybe. I hope so.

But for right now, we're still basically a one-income family. And so my latest "organization" project is our finances.

I started reading David Bach's "Start Late Finish Rich" book last night. Will I implement every single thing he says? Nope. But I'm only half way through and I have found a few really solid ways to make what we DO have work harder for us. Most of all, we need to start paying cash for stuff.

The first thing to do is really find out where you're at. Then you can look at where you're going. By January 1st I plan to compare right now with where we are then and see how much we've improved matters. And yes, that means over Christmas too. Yikes!

Here's hoping the "kick" lasts, because I still haven't finished spring housecleaning. LOL BUT, all I have left is to wash the bathroom walls, and clean out the cupboards in there. Otherwise, everything else is done.

I managed a solid 1000 words on the WIP this morning too. Slow and steady. I still have Thursday and Friday to finish this chapter. Which is good, because I plan to send it to my CP on the weekend, as long as she's finished her revisions.

Right now I'm off for work. Catch you on the flip side!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finding His Family

I started the new book today!

I'm very excited. It seems I've waiting a long time to write this book. I've done research...articles on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, e-mailing a former sniper for military info, getting some physiotherapy details, reading a book on peacekeeping and still reading Friendly Fire, although I'm now on the court case and past the part that describes the actual event in Afghanistan. I've done a basic proposal synopsis that outlines the motivations and progressions throughout the book, even though the actual scenes aren't nailed down. I've done a character sheet for each of my characters. And today, I finished the prologue.

I don't know if it will stay. I want it to. My hero is wounded in action. I wanted what happened to him to be firmly in the reader's mind so everything he/she reads what my hero does, they have that point of reference. It will at least stay through my first draft, and then I'll decide.

His name is Jonas Kirkpatrick, he's got a permanent limp, symptoms of PTSD, and THEN discovers he has a daughter he knew nothing about. He's a tough guy, and more than ever he's built a wall around himself. He was a sniper when he was deployed and not a man to be trifled with.

Scott Foley's character Bob Brown is the casting inspiration for this one, and because today is my day of firsts, here are a couple of my favorite pictures. Granted, I like him with longer hair but that just doesn't suit the role, so you get THE UNIT military cut.





Enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Business Arrangement Bride by Jessica Hart



As a reward to myself for finishing and sending MCM, I bought Jessica Hart's latest, Business Arrangement Bride. Jessica is one of my favorite Harlequin Romance authors. When I joined the author loop and she welcomed me I got a little fangirly. It just didn't seem right, me being there with HER, you know? Anyway, I stayed up until midnight finishing it last night.

Her hero, Tyler, is alpha to his toes. Jessica does a great job making him tough. And I mean TOUGH. For the most part he doesn't even SMILE. But, she offers little glimpses of what it's like to be him, so we can't hate him for being cold. We get to see little vulnerabilities. And her heroine's baby, Bea, is the one that breaks the ice for him. We see him respond to her in ways he can't to Mary, the heroine.

Mary is often dishevelled, her clothes don't fit right because she's still carrying baby weight, and she lavishes love on her daughter rather than on herself. As a mom, boy do I respond to that. I would have liked to have seen MORE of her feeling more of a woman and less of a mom. I know Tyler had to love her as she was and not some ideal, but when a man makes a woman's heart beat like Tyler does Mary's, she's gonna make some effort. There is a scene where they go to a party, and she's dressed up and gorgeous and the scene is steamy....THAT was perfection.

I also didn't expect to cry in this one. But I did. There is a reason women love a man with a baby, and I'll leave it at that.

Finally, if you're a fan at all of Pride and Prejudice, you're gonna love the ending of this book. I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but I definitely heard echoes of Darcy in Tyler's speech to Mary. Sigh. Makes me want to watch the "new" version all over again!

Thanks Jessica for the fantastic read!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Good and the Bad

Today there's good news and bad news. And the bad news isn't that bad, so it's no biggie.

I sent a proposal and first chapter to my editor at Samhain for a christmas anthology that they are putting together. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the five picked...but the writers and the titles of those who DID make the cut sound so great, it's hard to feel bad about it.

I knew there was a slim chance I'd be picked, so I have a plan B.

I'm still planning on writing the last 3 chapters of The Mistletoe Memoirs. And then, on my website, I'm going to post a chapter a week leading up until New Year's Eve as a FREE READ. So stay tuned for more information as Christmas gets closer. As soon as I post a chapter, I'll make sure I put a link here.

I watched Battlestar Galactica last night. IT WAS PHENOMENAL. Possibly the best episode of all three seasons, even if there wasn't quite enough Lee for my liking. It's time to get rid of the prosthetic, Mr. Moore. We want Lean Lee...and we want him back as the CAG and in a viper again. The episode, though, packed SO much into an hour. I was on the edge of my seat during the action, said a couple of "NO WAY!"s and cried twice. Michael Hogan has been incredible so far this season.

FINALLY, more good news. I have to send in my proofs for TGML, but after that I get to start my wounded soldier story. I've waited a LONG time to write it and the plan is to have a partial ready for my editor by November 9. It gives me three weeks, so that should be lots of time. I'm still doing background research though and first things first - I have to finish up the character sheets I started with "write a book with Trish". But look for that word count to start moving by the end of the week.

Now I'm off...have a marvelous Sunday everyone.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

BOMBS AWAY!

My sequel to Hired by the Cowboy, is GONE. As in sent to my editor, complete with suckopsis.

She e-mailed this morning saying she was "desperate to read it" after having read the partial. That's good news...she liked it! But in the back of my mind is this little crow cawing, "What if she's disappointed?"

ANYWAY, when I look back over the last few months, I feel pretty damn good. I wrote this book from inception to completion in the last 9 weeks. In addition to that, I did second round edits on TGML, copy edits on TGML, first round edits on Almost a Family, my Samhain January release, AND did up a proposal and first chapter for a special project that Samhain is putting together, and which I should hear soon whether or not my story's going to make it in or not. AND, we were away for 6 days this month. So not bad, all in all!

I'm taking tomorrow and Saturday off, and then Sunday afternoon I'll probably start my galleys for the print version of The Girl Most Likely. The print release date is December 19...more info on that as the time gets closer.

To celebrate this ms being FINISHED, I'm posting a pic of Max Martini, one of THE UNIT boys. I was reminded how much I love his character in last week's episode. And he made the PERFECT casting inspiration for my cowboy hero, Mike Gardner. So THANK YOU MAX!



Have a fantabulous weekend, all. I'm off to celebrate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When it all comes together....

I'm feeling particularly squishy towards my CP Michelle.

She sent back chapter 12. Axe the epilogue. Layer layer layer chapter 12. Small tweaks, I promise.

Then she threw in, how about changing it to a neutral location instead of where I set the final scene?

As a throw in, that's a damn good one. Because I did that and suddenly everything came together.

Now, it certainly took more than small tweaks. It took a heck of a lot of revising, but suddenly an ending that yesterday was "meh", became RIGHT. I cried. I cheered, dancing in the kitchen.

I still have to "edit" chapters 3-12, but that's perfectly ok. When I send this later this week, I know in my heart that for better or worse, I am proud of this book. In fact, I'm now so excited I can't wait to get it all put together so I can send it to my editor and see what she thinks.

I loved Hired by the Cowboy. It is a special book, special enough that I rewrote it in its entirety because I thought it deserved to be told. But Marriage at Circle M is equally as special to me in its own way. Mike and Grace are real people to me that deserve to be happy.

Michelle, you're a gem. I hope you don't get tired of me saying it.

In other news, my brother will be in town this weekend, for work but he has about 24 hours where he's free before he flies out again, so I'll be seeing him for the first time since my Gram's funeral a few years ago.

Now I have to get some stuff edited...because I also agreed to do some temporary work at my old job, and I have to be there in an hour. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A P.S....FINISHED!

I've completed my first draft!

Now it's on to edits and layering. As you can see I have about 5k I need to add to this story, which shouldn't be too bad as I go through and layer in emotion and sensory stuff.

BUT WHAT A RELIEF TO HAVE IT DONE!

New Author Profile

My new author profile is up on E-harlequin! There is a slight error - it says I live on a ranch, which I don't. Maybe I was channelling, because I'd love to have acres and acres. LOL You can see it HERE.

This week it's finishing the book and subbing it, working on Tuesday as I'm still listed as an "on-call" for my old job...and my galleys came for THE GIRL MOST LIKELY print version. My release date is official...DECEMBER 19th! So right after I deliver MCM, that's what's on the agenda. I have a smaller, special project coming up and then the plan is to have the next book for Romance in by Jan. 1. I wanted it to be earlier, but then realized I'll likely have revisions on MCM, and my revisions and copy edits for ALMOST A FAMILY, which comes out at Samhain the first week of January. Never any shortage of work! But it's all very exciting.

And don't forget to pop over to the Pink Heart Society, because it's just so darn fun!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Weekend, New TV and Benefits

I forgot to post that it was Friday today and so the weekend...it was a short week this week, but filled with lots of things to do.

On Sunday night, I'm singing in a benefit for Hospice Calgary. The proceeds of course will go to their organization, making things easier for cancer patients and their families. Hopefully I won't get too nervous and forget any of the words, LOL.

Other than that, I'm almost finished the first draft of my WIP, with only the very end of the last chapter and an epilogue to go...so if I get a chance on the weekend, I'll be finishing that up.

I'm also enjoying fall tv. Grey's is great, I'm enjoying NCIS a lot too. I actually really liked the shows where Tony took the lead when Gibbs was gone...I'd like to see more friction between them. I'd like to see Tony save Gibbs when Gibbs makes a mistake. Anyway, onward. Battlestar Galactica's season 3 debuted last weekend with a two-hour opener. WOW. I am constantly astounded by the depth of the writing, the directing, and the willingness of the writers to tackle really hard subject matter. The fact that the humans started using suicide bombers? DARING. And while we feel their desperation, the Chief sums it up with "There are some things you just don't do Colonel. Not even in war." I'll be glued to the SPACE channel on Sat. night.

My other MUST WATCH is CBS's THE UNIT. I just want to get up and kick some ass during each and every episode. Tuesday night's epi looks fabulous...it looks like a tribute to Katrina.

It's also our anniversary this weekend, so I'm predicting a night in with wine and movies, since we were away last weekend and sort of blew our cash. :-)

Layers

In Shrek, he says, "Onions have layers. Ogres are like onions."

It has been fun putting layers into this story. One of the things that I HAVEN'T panicked about with this manuscript is my character arcs. I have solid characters and solid motivations, and the biggest challenge has been executing the story in the right way. But my characters...they've been good to me.

They've been full of a few surprises too. For example, there wasn't supposed to be any sex happening, but half way through all of a sudden the heroine demanded to have sex with the hero. Now, as I'm nearing the end, things are popping up all over the place. Little angles that I hadn't really explored before. It's exciting, actually. My heroine's main conflict has just taken on another layer...and the hero is the one to point it out in a most painful way.

I see a marked difference in this too. In other manuscripts, published and unpublished, I've layered in things but they've always been "added" rather than having "developed" from the general conflict, and this feels so much better. I'd love to give you an example, but that would be spoiling the ending. And since it's my fervent hope that Harlequin will buy this (especially as it's a sequel to my May release) and since my editor has already seen the first three chapters and liked it, I'm going to keep my mouth shut and hope you get to read it down the road.

I actually think I prefer Donkey's analogy, come to think of it. Parfaits have layers. I'll take a parfait over an onion any day of the week.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hugs

Today I'm sending out incredibly belated hugs to my nephew and his wife. Sometimes it feels very strange to know he's all married and grown up. There are fewer years between us than there are between my sister and myself. Anyway, Matt and his wife are pregnant and expecting in February, but due to some serious complications, mum is in hospital and the best case scenario at the moment is complete bed rest to keep labour from starting. Hang in there Matt and Becky. Every day your little girl grows is a blessing and a reason to cheer. Know that lots of hugs and prayers are being sent to you and yours.

Love,

Donna

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

There's One in Every Book

One what, you may ask?

One bloody chapter that just will NOT seem to go my way.

You know as I get closer to the end of this manuscript, I was really really hoping I was going to get through without such a chapter. But nope, it looks like it's going to be chapter ten. I started it, hated it, and started again. Wrote the bulk of it, knew it was wrong, went back and revised it. Sent it to my CP - and I need to revise it AGAIN.

However I'm sick to death of this chapter right now and so instead of labouring and cursing over it further at this moment, I'm simply going to push through and finish the first draft of this book and then go back and look at the last 3-4 chapters. After that I'll go through the whole thing and layer, and then there'll be one more "polish" read through before I send it in next Friday.

Thanksgiving was fun. We went to Kamloops, BC to visit family. I did lots of walking which I hoped might counteract the eating we did but no such luck. I did have fun walking though. We took the kids through the hills near my bil's house, and then twice I took their rather large dog out for a good 45 min. walk around the neighbourhood. It's very hilly compared to where I am so at least my legs felt good. But boy, I've got to be a lot more diligent and ramp up the workouts. I did buy some arch supports for my running shoes which I hope will help with my arch pain so I can get more cardio in.

Otherwise, I've got my butt planted in this chair. If I'm not back by next Friday, send in the Mounties. :-)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there! Tomorrow is turkey day. This morning we baked dessert - an Apple Crisp Cheesecake. And my sister in law is currently making pumpkin pie (you can't have Thanksgiving without it!).

I'm making a wee bit of progress on the WIP this weekend because the deadline demands it, but when I get back it'll be major major writing. COMPLETE FOCUS.

Maybe having leftovers will be a very handy thing for a few days!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Smooch of the Day at ECataromance!

I totally forgot about this...but you can certainly still view it!

My smooch became a "smooch of the day" on ecataromance.

To read Ric and Katie's first kiss from The Girl Most Likely, click HERE!




And Michelle Styles is the featured call story on the Pink Heart Society blog, so go over and read about her journey to publication with Mills and Boon Historicals!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Samhain Books in Canada!

One of the other Canadian authors for Samhain discovered her book available at Chapters Indigo online. I checked too and other authors are featured. Now bear in mind that this is only for the print version, not the e-book of course. But it is BRILLIANT news that they are carrying them. When The Girl Most Likely and Almost a Family come out in print form, people will be able to order them from Chapters instead of having to go through a US company and worry about customs, shipping, and exchange rates! TGML should be available just before Christmas, the official print release date is Dec. 19. And Almost a Family will be released in print on the third Tuesday in May if things stay on schedule!

Now, if they started carrying them in-store I'd nearly die of happiness.

It is onward with the ms. Slight problems with my chapter nine but nothing as disastrous as I envisioned. LOL I need to get through the next chapter or so and then I'm close to the ending and the pace *should* take care of itself as things come to a head.

In more boring but happy news, my Battlestar Galactica Season 2 dvd's came yesterday. And season 3 starts Saturday night, squeeeeeeee!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stress

Ok...three weeks to deadline, but I think I can make it. :-) I have to bust my butt, though.

I just hope I don't have another week like I did last week. I did get a fair amount of writing done despite everything that went on, but there are a couple of situations that have been causing me a LOT of stress that have nothing to do with work. I was pretty distracted and frazzled by the end of it. In fact, I think by Friday night I said to my husband, THANK GOD that week is over. I was so distracted that when I took something out of the freezer Friday morning I left the turkey on top of the washer. When we went downstairs to workout, I saw it sitting there - nearly completely thawed. So Friday night I cooked a turkey and Saturday we ended up having a turkey dinner.

The kidlets have fall break coming up starting on Thursday and continuing into all of the next week. We have some fun things planned over Thanksgiving and hopefully some R&R, as well as me getting this first draft finished by the 13th. I write a pretty complete draft as my chapters are critiqued and "adjusted" as I go, so a week at the end should give me adequate time to go through and edit and polish.

As for the stress, I have a standing order for red wine and dark chocolate.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A P.S. to POV

I also discovered today that it matters WHERE you set scenes. I set one in the hospital. Like a hospital, it was cold and sterile. I hope by moving it OUT to somewhere else, it worked better.

But chapter eight has been a PITA. No doubt about it.

Point of View (POV)

I started a new chapter yesterday. But something wasn't ringing true with me. It just didn't feel right, and something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on it. I thought maybe I just wasn't in the "zone". But last night after I went to bed, it hit me what was wrong.

I was in the wrong POV.

I left it in the heroine's POV. Since we need to relate mostly to the heroine, her POV is the dominant one. But sometimes we need the hero's perspective. And this is one of those times.

We know how she felt the "morning after". We know how she's dreading what's coming next. So leaving it in her POV is just drawing that out and the pacing fell off. It was lacklustre. But putting it in my hero's POV...now that's different. We don't know how he feels about having slept with the heroine. And since I can't show the actual act (due to line requirements), we only have my heroine's word for it. We need HIS perspective.

Plus, with what's coming, it sets things up better.

So today is going back, rewriting that section in HIS pov, and seeing how it works. POV is not something random that you say, "Gee, I think I should use his now," or "I'll just leave it in hers," indiscriminately. Picking the most effective POV can make a real difference in the execution of your story!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What to do when characters don't cooperate

The honeymoon couldn't last forever.

Up to this point, my characters have been very obliging. My hero's been tough, tender, and delicious, at least to me. My heroine has been spunky, down on her luck, and helplessly attracted to the hero. But now, she wants to do something I never planned on her doing.

She wants to have sex with the hero. I mean she always did, but she wants to go through with it. So now I have a choice to make.

Do I listen to her? Or do I ignore her and beat her into submission?

My cp says to remember I AM GOD. I could get drunk with power and let all that go to my head. But the point is, I am writing this story, so ultimately I craft it the way I want. The question is, do I want to weild that power, or do I listen to what my heroine is saying to me?

The key to letting them do it is making sure all the motivations are there. It has to make sense. It can't be arbitrary or a "get it out of my system" thing. It has to be for the right reasons. And it has to complicate things rather than resolve them. Sometimes the sex all of a sudden takes the tension out of the book. They've done it - now what?

My heroine is a careful character. She's played it safe. She knows it's wrong to pursue anything serious with the hero. So what prompts her to do this has to be mighty big...and it is.

As you can tell I want to do it. I think it can really add a whole other dimension to the story, and can deepen the conflict rather than resolve it. So this once I'm going to listen to her, give her what she wants, but on MY terms. If it works, fabulous. If it doesn't, then that's what the delete button is for and I will have learned something new.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Girl Most Likely gets its first review!!!

I have received my first review for The Girl Most Likely!

Once Upon a Romance gave it a 4.0 rating!

I read it and my first thought was, IT DIDN'T SUCK. LOL Actually she had some great things to say about it. Including bits like:

"...a story of with all human elements. The need to be loved, the fear of failure and being scared to put yourself out there in case of rejection. But it’s also about keeping faith and seeing people for who they really are. Anyone reading this story can identify with that."

"...it is like real life, as how many times have you wondered why the some people just didn’t get together and stop the insanity? It’s readable for the fact alone."

See the whole review HERE.

Buckling Down

After a less than stellar production week last week, I need to buckle down.

It is quite possible that I needed the break to get some things straight in my mind with regards to the story. I got chapter six back from my critique partner and am left with not so much ERRORS but with having to shift and tweak. I did something that I don't like in other writers- I did a backstory dump. The information had to be there but I didn't do it the right way. So bits of it will be cut, moved, restructured and put into chapters 4 and 5. It will fill them out like they needed. Not a fun job, mind you...but necessary and one that will make the pace and structure of the story much more unified. This is why I LOVE her. I can say without hesitation that having Michelle as a critique partner is probably the most important writing relationship I have with the possible exception of my editor (who has the power, LOL). I know for a fact that if not for her taking me on over 2 years ago, I would not have progressed to the point where I am now.

She is also very disciplined, and that too is very good for me, because I have to focus big time to get this ms finished.

On the agenda today - finish up chapters 4-6, and start chapter seven. Seven and eight must be finished this week.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mood Music

Yesterday Kris really got into the whole music thing. Honestly, give her one song and she runs wild. She came up with a top ten list of songs for "doin' it". My list is a little different, and since I write to a soundtrack and I've written something like over 10 novels now, it's also quite varied. I have personal favorites that run from the raunchy to the sweet emotional type songs.


Figured You Out by Nickelback…who can resist dirty lyrics like “ I like your pants around your feet And I like the dirt that's on your knees And I like the way you still say please While you're looking up at me” ???

Harder to Breathe by Maroon Five. I find it hard to breathe just listening to it.

The Blower’s Daughter By Damian Rice - I saw Sale and Pelletier skate to this and it was like sex on ice.

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Turn Me On, by Norah Jones

And how could you NOT include The Principles of Lust by Enigma?

For one character I used "My Confession" by Josh Groban.

You Can Leave Your Hat On. That's got to be one of the absolute best. A total stripper song.

My mind's a blank for any more...either it's too early or there are just too many.

I have so much to do over the next few days it's scary, so I'll be back on Monday with my vat of coffee to post on either "OMG how am I ever going to meet my deadline", "What to do when characters don't cooperate", or "Beginnings". LOL

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Myspace

I now have a myspace. For the first few days, I had a public profile, but it scared me. LOL I got a few weird e-mails. So now my profile is private and I have an extreme lack of "friends".

But most of you who read my blog on a regular basis I know, so if you have a myspace account, please feel free to request to friend me.

Even if you don't have a myspace account, you can see what I've got up there at www.myspace.com/dalward.

In other news, my current WIP is now due October 20, so I have to get my butt in gear and get it finished up. A month should be lots of time.

Tomorrow is the AMBA lunch in London. I wish I could be there. Rumour has it there shall be champagne and cake. All I ask is that my friends that ARE going have some cake and bubbly for me and give me all the details when they get back home! And if things go well, maybe next year I'll be able to join them.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

P.S. I have done it again. I am either improving or turning into a total sap. But I made myself cry while writing this morning. I take it as a positive sign - I cried during the last ms too. LOL

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Research and alternate realities

Trish and I really ARE on the same wavelength. After she finished with setting, and I blogged about it, I mentioned research would probably be next...lo and behold, her part 4 is indeed about getting the details right.

The nice thing about writing novels is that you can immerse yourself in an alternate reality. If there's something you wanted to do, you can have your characters do it. It's quite fun, actually!

For my previous books most of my research has been done by either personal knowledge and a few questions answered by acquaintances or family, or by GOOGLE. Google is, as Trish puts it, a writer's best friend. A source of infinite information at your fingertips. In TGML, I looked up what I'd need for permits to start a restaurant in Calgary. In Almost a Family, I honestly didn't have to research much. It is set in my home town and my hero is a veterinarian, so whatever I needed I asked my sister...which honestly wasn't much as I hung around the clinic since I was about 14 anyway. (She and her husband are both vets). For Hired By The Cowboy I researched Mad Cow disease and ranch information.

One of the great things about writing for the line that I am is that the focus is so much on the hero and heroine that oftentimes research is not overwhelming. And inevitably you will know more than will ever make it into the manuscript. The focus is always on the hero and heroine. For MCM, the sequel to Hired By the Cowboy, I refreshed my memory as to the area and a few weeks ago, drove up to Sundre Alberta, visited the museum, and just drove around. I got an idea for a whole other book too...as I went down this dirt road, suddenly I came upon a paved driveway, with iron gates and video surveillance. The house and other buildings were set down on the slope, so I could only see the roof. I wonder who could possibly live there...in their own little fortress.

ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand. For FhF, the next book, I am researching my little heart out. There are two reasons for this. The military is a culture on to its own and one I don't know much about, despite having a weakness for military tv shows. Since my hero is a former sniper, but he's wounded, I have to make sure what I do with him is plausible from a military standpoint. The other reason for this is that I truly believe that our men and women in the forces deserve for me to get this right. Which is a topic for another day.

I read a book on peacekeeping and I'm currently reading Friendly Fire by Michael Friscolanti. It is wonderful for painting a picture about what it is like serving in Afghanistan. But I needed more. And this is where a network comes in handy.

I posted on e-harlequin, asking for information on the Canadian Military. I had e-mails within an hour. One source I've heard back from already. It is so exciting! My source is ex-special forces, with sniper qualifications, so when I get an answer to a question, it's a good one!

I will only use about 10% of what I will learn within the book. But the thing is, I can really make the most of what I do reveal by being well informed. I was very happy to learn that what I wanted to do with my hero is plausible. I have information about everything from sniping to what an every day uniform is called (combats).

Now, I'm thinking once you have your characters, setting, and research done...the next thing is one of the hardest....finding the right starting point!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

PREMIERE NIGHT

I am in a horrible rush this morning but am posting a very quick note because I AM SO EXCITED that tonight is premiere night for my fave tv shows. Well, 2 of them anyway.

NCIS goes at 9 and THE UNIT at 10 on CBS. I can't wait to see THE UNIT especially. I got some research questions back today and the whole thing is just keeping me SO pumped!

I'm off... but the Unit cadence theme is in my head. Yeah boy.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Setting

Write a Book with Trish is in part 3. And now that we've done up our character sheets, and the casting (which oh my was SO much fun), her next topic is setting.

I've known WHERE this was going to be set for some time.

I needed a military base close by, so I picked Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, just outside my hometown. A more detailed setting is deciding where your scenes will take place. Many of them will happen at my heroine's house. She lives there with their daughter, and it is a real home. My hero hasn't had a home like that in some time, and so the atmosphere and tone of it really matters. In juxtaposition to that is HIS home. He will be renting, his apartment will be functional and sparse. It will be a reflection of his military life. And a reflection of his life...functional, but devoid of joy. Other scenes will take place around the area...which leads me to a linked subject being TIMING.

WHEN is the story going to happen? What season? And this is important. The book I'm writing now (MCM) is taking place in the fall. I love the fall. It's my favourite season of the year. It woos me. And my characters are being wooed into falling for each other, even though they've known each other for years. It's a time of harvest and completion and nesting. Both things that are important thematically in this book. I can't say more without giving away huge conflict points away, but fall just WORKS for this book.

But the new book, (FhF)will take place in the summer I think. While the hero is burdened, I really feel like the heroine and her daughter have to represent the fun, light-hearted feel of summer. Lemonade and swimming pools and the smell of cut grass. LIFE. And that's something that the hero finds he's lost sight of. Besides, the Saint John River is stunning in the summer, beautiful, with the lush green grass and towering trees along the banks.


So, now I have setting and my season set for my book....I wonder what Trish's next stage will be? I'm not sure... but I'm relatively sure that later this week I'll be blogging about RESEARCH. Because I'm doing lots of it for this particular project.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Funny thing, marriage

Marriage does funny things to people. You finish each other's sentences. Sometimes you even know what the other is going to say without them saying a word. Take what happened at our house last night.

I'm in the tub, enjoying bubbles. I hear dh's footsteps coming down the hall. He opens the door and before he can say a word, I say, "Sure."

He pauses, a little taken aback I think. I'm grinning behind the glass doors. I knew EXACTLY what he was going to ask. So he thinks he'll be smart and says, "What?"

I answer, "It needs to breathe anyway."

He says: "My God, that's scary." Shuts the door. Next thing I hear is the kitchen drawer as he gets out the corkscrew to open my bottle of red.

Managed to squeeze in some work this morning, but I've GOT to shut down and clean the house. :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

A WONDERFUL End to the week

I just wanted to post a quick p.s. to today's post...to congratulate a writer who's busted her butt to get published.

Congratulations to Michelle Willingham, who sold to Mills and Boon Historicals today! Pop over to her blog at www.michellewillingham.com/blog and offer your congratulations.

WTG babe. YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!

D

A Cast-mate for Scotty

I've cast my hero for FhF - as you can tell. LOL But poor Mr. Foley was getting all lonely with only his rifle/rocket launcher for company, so I found him a heroine.

I have to thank Trish and Natasha for it. I mentioned not being able to find the right face and Trish sent me to Natasha's blog, and there she was. I hope you don't mind me borrowing her, Natasha. :-)

Now, don't they look cute together?





Otherwise, I'm happy to report chapter four did NOT suck, it just needed some tweaks, which I've done. So now to keep up with Trish's "Book with Trish" assignments, I'm off to do my character sheets for FhF.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Oh, and buy my book.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Write A Book and the Chapter 4 slump

One of my cp's and friends, Trish Wylie, is doing something cool on her blog. She's starting her new ms for Modern Extra, and she's holding a "Write A Book with Trish" workshop.

I'm not exactly at the beginning of my book but that's ok. I can tinker with the "assignments" as they come, working them in to where I am in my own projects. If nothing else it's renewed motivation to get cracking with both my mss. I managed nearly 1800 words yesterday which is a good day. My goal is 1000 - 1500. Any time I get more than that...without them rushing out and needing serious revision...is a bonus.

Right now I'm on chapters 4 and 5. I do not, as a rule, like these chapters as far as writing them. I always get a sense of completion after chapter 3 and then chapter 4 feels like starting over again, if that makes sense. In chapters 4 and 5, pacing is critical. You have to take the set up from chapters 1-3 and now use it to build on both the conflict and the attraction. For me, these two chapters have a tendency to go flat. So I have to watch this very closely. I'm sure when I send them off to be critiqued, there will be a number of comments. That's ok. I am resigned to the fact that I must, can and will, fix them.

I did realize yesterday that I'd started chapter four in the wrong place, so I went back. And the slump has nothing to do with my characters, thank goodness. I still love them as much as ever. But pacing, conflict, emotion...those are the key things I need to keep going. Once I get past the next few chapters, things tend to take care of themselves as the pitch rises through the second half of the book.

Maybe Trish's workshop will help me with that, too.

In other news, I've just been in contact with a Canadian Military research source, which is very cool. I wouldn't mind having my hero be a former sniper. So in honour of that....I told you I had lots of pics....



Booyah.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two More Pics

I couldn't resist. I went to www.maxmartini.com and found another pic. AND, I laughed at a comment posted by none other than Scott Foley on Max's blog. What a couple of clowns.

SO...because I said my hero Mike is into horses....






And because I have SO many of Scott I can't resist posting one...I could probably do one a day for the rest of the month...

Hero Pic-Fest

I'm working on two books at once. Now, I AM focusing on one and diddling with the other when I have time or if I get stuck on the WIP and need to change things up a bit. And I'm doing planning in my head which usually ends up benefiting the writing - it tends to come out more smoothly.

THe other benefit is having two men on a string at the same time. LOL I have two heroes clamoring for attention, and I love it. Googling pictures is a difficult chore, but I've done it.

First up we have my hero from my WIP. In my book he's Mike Gardner, in the Unit he's Mack Gerhardt, and in real life he's Max Martini. In my ms, he's an ex-rodeo rider who's finally stopped running and goes into business with his best friend, my hero from Hired By The Cowboy. Now he's raising quarterhorses.

He's the toughest hero I've written. He's overprotective of the heroine, which drives her crazy. He's stubborn and quite often says one thing when he really means another. I think he's infuriatingly charming, and frequently just infuriating. :-)




There is a definite dearth of pics of Mr. Martini available for me...but I have 2 that I like. The first is a pretty good idea of what I picture my hero to look like, and the second is the exact look he's gonna have on his face when he "saves" my heroine from a pervy patron at the local watering hole.



Now we're on to hero number two. I have TONS of pics of my hero Jonas. Otherwise known as Bob Brown on The Unit,(and what a lovely show to be so obliging to pick such a great cast) or in real life, Scott Foley. Yes, Jennifer Garner's ex.

Scott Foley has the most beautiful eyes, perhaps the coolest on the planet. They even change colour. But they are golden-y green and stunning.

In THAT ms, he's a Canadian soldier come home after being wounded in Afghanistan. So, he has a permanent limp. AND, he arrives home to find that the woman he loved years before has been keeping a secret - he has a five year-old daughter.

Before I get carried away, I'll just post the pics. :-)





I was surprised at how few there are of him in uniform, but you get the idea. I even have a great one up on my pc as my wallpaper.

Gotta love heroes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wrap Up

Thanks everyone who popped by today and who posted comments. It's been a cool day, sort of a monumental thing for me.

Come back tomorrow, as the plan is to post oodles and scads of pictures of my current heroes. Ah, research is SO demanding. I don't know how I do it, really.

CONTEST WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!



CONGRATULATIONS to the two winners!

Cheryl Strange and Jana Hill!!!!!!!!!

I'll be e-mailing you both to get some more information, but congrats on winning! I hope you like the book!

Donna