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!