Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions

Ah, it's that time again. There seems to be two camps of thought on New Year's Resolutions. Personally, I like them. It's about setting personal goals and I'm all for that.

2 years ago it was to be published, which happened. Last year was to deliver 4mss which I did NOT - though I came close (the 4th is the WIP). And also to learn more about PR - which I also did. We won't talk about the typical weight loss one that somehow went the way of the dodo about March.

Though maybe we should - because this year my goals are personal ones. I know I'm going to deliver a couple of books to my editor, and work on a separate project. But if I learned anything especially in the last six months, it's that it's no fun if I'm barely keeping my head above water.

So this year it's all about personal well-being.

1. Take my vitamins. They do help. And eat right.

2. Regular exercise...no excuses. I'll feel better in all ways. Of course with the wrist thing now, it's more likely to be walking and yoga and such, at least for a while.

3. Read more.

4. Get outside! Fresh air and sunshine also SOOOO good for me...

5. Say yes, less. I really did over-commit to things last year. I need to keep it simpler.

So my resolutions are the no-brainer things I already knew but ignored. I will feel better and have more energy. Which will make not only me, but my family happier.

Life is way too short - we need to enjoy it, not just live it.

Happy New Year and blessings for 2008!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

S-L-O-W

I am typing slowly since the official verdict is a broken wrist and I'm in a cast. For 6 weeks.

This does not bode well for finishing the WIP. Typing with one hand sux as it is not only slow, but I miss looking at the monitor. At some point over the next week or so I will know if I can type in my cast and if not I'll likely be looking at voice recognition software, though I don't particularly relish the thought of dictating a book. Especially with the kids on winter break. LOL

You do not realize how much you rely on two hands until you're down to one.

I'm off to get some breakfast and some tylenol. :-)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Faith

Merry Christmas!

I wish I had typed up this blog when I first thought of it. Because yesterday I fell skating and sprained my wrist, which means I'm typing with 1 hand.

So you'll please excuse me if you get the Reader's Digest version.

I was thinking the other day about how blessed I am. It is very easy these days to become very cynical about the state of the world in general. I know I despair about it lots. And all the horrible - and even not so horrible - things still go on whether it's Christmas or not. So why is Christmas special anyway.

It's because it's a season of faith. Faith in what the day truly means and faith that there is still hope. Hope for all of us as people. I'm a big believer in hope, after all it's why I write romance to begin with. But I lost sight of that a little bit...I've needed some tlc in recent days and through it I cannot help but feel my faith in people restored.

I have wonderful friends. Friends here where I live; friends that have offered an ear, a hug, even an open invitation do drop my kids for a while if I need time. Friends that worry about me and care more than I realized. Whose genuine caring has made me cry.

Friends in my hometown, who I talk to most of the time through e-mail. Two in particular who I "talk" to on a regular basis and who keep me connected.

And online friends, some who I've met in person and some I haven't, who nevertheless are there for me when I most need them. I can easily say that the last few weeks have been better because of them. I have the best critique partner in the world btw and a cybermum that defies description.

And I certainly can't leave out the blessings that are my sisters. They've made me laugh lately when I've least expected it.

Now, my cp has ordered me away from the keyboard (to rest my wrist I suppose) so I will leave you with some of the lyrics from Josh Groban's song "Thankful" from his album "Noel":

Somedays, we forget to look around us,
Somedays, we can't see the joy that surrounds us,
So caught up inside ourselves we take when we should give
So for tonight we pray for what we know can be,
And on this day we hope for what we still can't see,
It's up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There's so much to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Love Donna

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Best Laid Plans....

How often do we make plans only for them to go awry?

For someone like me, who is scheduled and organized (that sounds SO much better than anal) having a monkey wrench thrown in to the works creates major stress and havoc.

*as an aside - my 7 yr old daughter just informed her older sister when Halley's comet is scheduled to appear and how it was named. Sometimes I am truly amazed at my kids.... *

ANYHOO, one of the things to go sideways is the big present we ordered for our kids. We ordered it November 25...planning enough, wouldn't you say? My husband has spent several minutes (like 40 each time) on hold trying to figure out what's going on with it, and finally last night we got an e-mail saying it had shipped and that we would have it for Christmas.

I'm not holding my breath, so we DO have a backup plan.

Today is the last day of school before holidays, which means early dismissal, undoubtedly treats, caroling, and teacher presents. I for one am helping deliver teacher presents and then coming home for a few last blessed hours of kid-free work - this book will be handed in while they are still on break.

And a little bit of comfort - from the moment I started this book I said that the key to it was going to be layers. For once I was bang on. It's all in the layers, making everything tie together. Hopefully it'll be tied up with a bow and sent to my editor soon after New Year's!

*** update: Said parcel was left at my door during the one hour I was gone today. Hurray! Love it when a plan comes together! ***

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

Here it is....SO FUNNY!

Holiday Schleppiness

I warned you last week I would get into the holiday spirit!

I tried to post a youtube clip and it doesn't seem to be working, so I'm going to do it as a separate post and hope for the best. It's christmas carols run amuck! I laughed so hard when I first saw it...

Onwards...today I'm at the Eharlequin Open House today with scads of other authors. Come and visit and talk about your favourite books this year, what you're looking forward to, ask authors questions and there's even been a recipe or two thrown in already!

And....

I'm also at Tote Bags N Blogs today talking about some of our family's Christmas Traditions. Pop on over for a peek at how we Alwards celebrate our holidays!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Back with a Passion

I'm back! Feeling a bit better and with several things off my to-do list- like school concerts, making a gingerbread train, homemade cards, a dinner party, wrapping, cleaning, laundry, knitting mittens for our church mitten tree (where the items go to charity) and a day at school putting together author club books and laminating. Oh and I managed a *little* bit of writing in there. This week is much clearer - an appt and a few last minute items tomorrow and that's all the running around needed. Fingers crossed for a good writing week - I need one!

Michelle Styles posted a fabulous blog today on passion after reading an article in the Spectator. I read the article and loved it and it reiterates what I feel (and say) a lot of the time. This is a rough business. If you're in it to make money, you're destined to fail. If you have that fire in the belly - the need to write stories - then you will make it. We talk about dedication and discipline and desire....but that doesn't necessarily translate into a dedication to the goal - the end result. It also means a dedication to the stories that you are compelled to tell and that you would want to tell even without publication. That passion is what keeps writers writing during all the rejections.

You can read the article HERE.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Going AWOL

Just so you know I'm going awol until next week.

It's Christmas concert week and I have company coming on the weekend, wrapping to do before then, progress to make on the book and I'm also under the weather and getting it all done right now seems like a huge chore.

But I should be back Monday to catch up on what's been going on and it's also THE LAST WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS and I'm hoping I'll be feeling better and indulging myself in all kinds of schleppy Christmas cheer!

Til then...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Great Thing Known as Book Orders

Do you guys remember getting those Scholastic book order sheets when you were a kid in school? I loved it. And I still do. And not just for my kids.

Don't get me wrong, I order lots for the girls and their prices can't be beat. I got the first 6 Harry Potter books for fifty bucks. I can get Magic Tree House books for $1.99 sometimes. And a lot of their non-fiction is wonderful.

But let's face it - if I'm researching I don't want a high school or university text book. And so this is where I come in. I stamp and staple the orders for my kid's teachers - they send them home and I send them back. So I get to look through and see what's on the teacher pages too. And they are nice enough to order stuff for me and I pay them back, isn't that great?

Doing that I've gotten story starters for Author Club (on the way), an Introduction to Art text, an Introduction to Archaeology text - can I just say right now that I LOVE Usborne books? And yesterday my youngest got her order which included (not from the teacher pages but from hers) - TEN POETRY BOOKS.

I have several of the Norton Anthologies but I hate sitting down to try to read through them. SO MUCH stuffed in one huge volume. This set is called "Poetry for Young People" and includes Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Frost, Whitman, Poe - and themed ones like American poetry and Seasons. When they got home from school we had a great time, sitting around and reading some of it aloud. They especially laughed at my interpretation of the witches in MacBeth. And I got very nostalgic over the Frost - I love Frost.

Anyway I'm going to miss the book orders when my girls no longer have them and I have to shop for books like regular people. :-)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A gorgeous morning...
















These pictures just about say it all. We had a splendid morning. There is one with a nuthatch sitting on my daughter's head which is hysterical.



It was very worth the cold feet. :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ups and Downs

Life runs in ups and downs and I have to say, yesterday was challenging for me just because I felt very ineffectual. LOL. I was grumpy as well and by the end of the day I was feeling the need for solitude and a glass of wine.

But there were ups as well - like receiving my spanish copies of Marriage at Circle M in the mail. And the biggest one was our RWA chapter Christmas meeting last night.

It started off with a potluck (mmmm....not to mention the chocolate that was brought) and then Secret Santa....mine did an awesome job as I got truffles and WINE and a tin of clotted cream biscuits that are going to go so well with my tea later....

And we had Eve Silver come to speak to us as well.

I had a great chat with Vivi Anna both on the way to and from the meeting. And came home feeling much better about the day.

And there are leftover meatballs which made my kids happy and I promised to heat them up and make some rice so they can have them for lunch.

Today the sun is shining, I'm working in my comfy yoga pants again and despite a slight headache the world is a little more rosy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Guardian Article

Another hubbub has erupted in the press over Mills and Boon in the form of an article in the Guardian. I think I was more annoyed yesterday when I saw it than today, to be honest, because the more I think on it the more I realize that Julie Bindel, the "journalist" (and yes, I put that in quotes for a reason)is so very difficult to take seriously. Who are you going to trust as your reliable source? An author for the company, writing RIGHT NOW and so about as familiar with the subject matter as you can get, or a woman who read a handful of books FIFTEEN YEARS ago and quoted authors from as long as FORTY years ago?

Ms. Bindel, do your research. If you'd put any effort into it at all (beyond reading the BACK BLURBS ONLY of a few books) you'd realize that there are a variety of lines within Mills and Boon, a variety of styles and tones and not a single one of them promotes rape or violence against women (or anyone for that matter).

As an author of Romance (and the capital R is intentional too) I am in the position of having to defend our genre quite often. Would I want my daughters reading my books?

Well at their age now, no! But in a few years? Absolutely. When asked I reply that I write stories about 2 people overcoming obstacles to form a lasting, loving commitment to each other. There is absolutely nothing trashy or detestable about that. I think it's a lot of what's missing in society, to be honest.

I was going to post the entire article but Natasha Oakley has already done that as well as posted a great blog. So have Michelle Styles and Kate Walker and Trish Wylie (who appeared on Radio last night as well, except I can't get it to play for me now).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Covers galore! And over at the PHS.....


Before I post my info, I should let you know that I'm over at the Pink Heart Society today for Writer's Wednesday...Talking about THE SECRET to getting published.


I don't know if it's Christmas head or Deadline head or what, but I nearly forgot that Marriage at Circle M is out in Australia this month!


I'm doubly excited because Michelle Douglas, an Aussie author, has her debut out as well and we're shelf mates. So thrilling!








The other very cool thing is that I just got the jpg of my cover for The Soldier's Homecoming yesterday! What do you all think?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A quick P.S

I realized I hadn't answered Janet's comment she left about ideas.

In the comments she said, "I have plenty of ideas but not many of them are good ones."

And my answer to that is, don't worry hon! They don't have to be good ones. They just need to have a seed that you can grow into a bigger better idea.

I had the basic premise for my current wip, and I'm discovering more things all the time. I knew the housekeeper was a necessary character, but WHY? I knew Brody felt responsible for her and the ranch but WHY? But I just kept writing away, having faith that it would come to me. It took a couple of chapters, but it did. And yet...something new hit me again today as I finished going through chapter four that I didn't see that ties a few things together.

You don't need to see it all at once and you don't need to get it 100% right. I honestly think that's what holds some writers back sometimes - the whole fear of getting it wrong. And I think sometimes you have to get it wrong first to know what right is. You can make ANY idea work, I think...(well, there are SOME things that won't fly, but not many) as long as you get to the root of the characters motivations for doing what they're doing. And it might take some tweaking and adjusting. But if you think of your idea as a kernel that you're going to build a world around, I think it helps. And brainstorm! A plot hole that you think is terminal can somehow magically be turned around in a good brainstorming session.

Thanks Janet for commenting - I love it when you ask questions!

PENCILS2MEDIAMOGULS


Trish put this up on her myspace blog (at least that's where I saw it) and I also got it in my inbox yesterday. I've already donated. Here's the skinny - and my apologies to Trish but she just put it so well.....

You kinda have to be very very deeply buried in the cave to not know about the Writer's Strike currently bringing Hollywood to a standstill and with a seedling of an idea planted by fans of TV Shows they've come up with a somewhat ingenious plan to literally bring the 'point' home to the big studio moguls...

PENCILS.

Yup, boxes of pencils. For a teeny weeny donation of a dollar a box, you can send a pencils to the studio heads supporting the writer's cause. And if solidarity doesn't move you, perhaps the knowledge that those shows you put on your pvr or watch faithfully may only have a few weeks left before running out of episodes or may even ultimately cease to exist....

I really believe that good writing trumps everything and you only have to go to United Hollywood and read Ron Moore's blog from November 7 to see some of the issues they're fighting FOR.

And they got creative - shows like Battlestar and Smallville and Army Wives are all getting in on it by donating everything from phone calls to hockey games with Aaron Douglas to Jamie Bamber's towel....

You can click on the link below to be taken right to the donation page.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy Holidays

It's December already! Hard to believe, and today I spent celebrating the first Sunday of Advent, putting together my prezzie parcels for my family in other parts of the country, and making gingersnaps with my children.

The whole month is special to me and so I'm sharing this card with all of you. It reminds me so much of the area where I live...in fact we have snow right now and more on the way!

It's my card to you and since this hasn't cost me a cent in postage...I'm making a donation to UNICEF in lieu of.

I'll be blogging lots between now and New Year's, but I thought this was a great opportunity to say thanks to all of you for visiting the blog, sharing your comments and supporting me and my books.

Cheers,
Donna

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love affair with the west

You know - I never thought I'd write westerns. I really didn't. Until HIRED BY THE COWBOY, I actually hadn't written a book set in the west with the exception of one in Calgary which was more urban than western.
But then I wrote Hired. And then Marriage at Circle M. And Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous. And now I'm writing the Cowboy's Princess and loving every minute of it. Well loving WHERE it is even if writing it has its challenges...

Some people I've talked to aren't surprised by this at all, even though I am. I think it's probably a forest for the trees kind of thing. Looking at something from the inside out rather than the outside in, if you know what I mean.

I suspect that it has to do with the type of stories I write and my voice. I'm very much a home and hearth type writer and that is a style that suits cowboys and western settings very well. Historically those pioneer towns were words unto themselves. A real sense of community and a helping hand. They still are. The people are strong amid hardship, loyal and hardworking. Yet they always knew how to cut loose and add a little fun into the every day. I love that.
And the more I write these settings the happier I am that I'm Canadian. Because the Canadian west is a little different than anywhere else.

Yesterday I went on my daughter's field trip to Fort Calgary. It was very nice and I'm going to go back another time when there's time for me to properly go through the museum. Still....you get a real sense of the early mounties and the kind of life they led; the kind of life in a fledgling town settled by ranchers and then changed by the arrival of the railroad.

For now I'll just give you some pictures to give you an idea. My other daughter is going next month with her class and over the holidays I think we'll go to Deane House - the original house of Captain Deane - for lunch as it's now a restaurant. Then all of us can see it from the inside perspective instead of from the model.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ideas!

Janet asked in the comments: Knowing that you are expected to produce several books a year must be quite daunting. How do you make sure you you are never stumped for a story idea? Do you maybe collect ideas for unwritten stories? Keep a file of newspaper and magazine clippings? Or maybe plan out a series of very brief outlines for future stories, then pick the one that is calling to you? Or maybe you don't even think about the next story until it is time to write it.

Well, Janet, here's the plain old truth.

Writing multiple books in a year can be daunting, only because you actually have to PRODUCE that volume of words. Really. And what makes it hard is that once you're published, you have so much more going on than the actual writing - or at least I do. I know some authors keep a low profile and at times I'll be honest I wish I did...but the truth is I love just about everything about this business with the exception of reading my contract (YAWN!).

But do I have trouble coming up with ideas?

Um...nope.

It's very funny and I think it's just simply because after so many years writing my brain is now "trained" to see new ideas. I used to finish a manuscript and be worried I wouldn't find another idea and then I'd take a few days off and the ideas would start coming. Now...there's not enough hours in the day to write everything bouncing around in my brain.

But not all ideas will work, and sometimes part will work and another part you save for another story and set of characters. And I don't really keep an "ideas" file...though I do have spare synopses/proposals that I pull out as needed. For example, we did a brainstorming exercise in groups at a workshop I was at recently. I asked the two people I was with if I could then use our idea because I really really liked it. So I have those notes.

This really started after I sold Hired By The Cowboy to Harlequin and I'd been working on another ms (which has been buried on my hard drive ever since and that one day I really want to resurrect). I had ALWAYS had another Romance in the hopper in case I got rejected so I could send another one right away, lol. But then I sold and I had NOTHING when my editor said "What else have you got?" The book I'd been writing was not right for the Romance line and we both knew it.

So I came up with 3 proposals....two fairly detailed and one a little more sketchy.

Guess which one she picked?

Yep - the sketchy one. Which became Marriage at Circle M. And one of the other proposals became The Soldier's Homecoming, which is out in March.

Then I wrote Maggie and Nate's story because it is related to Hired and MCM and I didn't want to have more time between them.

And while I was waiting on that one, I wrote the first in a duet about an Italian brother and sister in Canada.

So here's case in point....for various reasons (all of which I happen to agree with), the Italian got put on the shelf for now and I was asked to write another cowboy. So....I still have the Italian's sister's story begging to be written, another book that's going to get a start in January and that pesky one from back in 2006 still sitting on my hard drive patiently waiting for its turn.

So like I said, coming up with the ideas isn't that hard...it's finding the time to get them all down in the midst of the business part of writing, families, and other parts of my life.

And to repeat myself again...I really do think it's a matter of practice. I'm definitely coming up with ideas and characters faster than I did when I started.

Hope that helps!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Breakthroughs

This book is giving me fits. I have tons of conflict and I even know what has to happen. The problem is getting it on the page. It doesn't want to *feel* right. That probably doesn't make sense, I don't know. But it's missing something I can't put my finger on.

The solution to this is probably just to write the darn thing and fix it. I even tried jumping ahead to another scene, thinking that something might twig so I know exactly what happens where I left off. But it didn't feel right either.

Then last night I had a minor breakthrough in the shower...why is it baths and showers provide such clarity anyway? Maybe it's a scent thing...aromatherapy of sorts when you mix steam and fruity bodywash or something. I don't know. Anyway I was running over what needs to happen next and asking why. He doesn't want her going through the files. Why?

Cue orchestra...the answer arrived and made a whole lot of sense.

So I'm hoping that once I've done the school run I'll sit down and things will work out a lot better. And if they don't...well I'll just keep writing and torture my critique partner with it and see if she can see what's wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2007

PHS and stories

Today I'm blogging over at the PHS - about my favourite Male On Monday! And rumour has it the towel pic is giving Hugh a run for his money....


I'm back to work on the book this week. I had a minor breakthrough on Friday with the book and yesterday ended up scribbling notes during the sermon (I know, BAD DONNA) because little lightbulbs just kept coming on. It was the first time that I felt like this book might actually work out.


So I'm going back into the cave for now, but will pop in if anything noteworthy comes my way.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tarred

I am tired...and need to focus on the WIP, so the blog might be quieter for a while. I'm going to commune with my characters, spend some time with my family, and very possibly read.

I'm not completely leaving cyberspace though - check out The Pink Heart Society on Saturday and Monday in particular.

Of course if there is any news of interest, I'll be sure to pop in.

And I won't be gone long....just enough time to get caught up on a few things and move that old word count meter on the side.

Meantimes, feel free to post in the comments anything you'd like me to blog about, whether it's writing or otherwise! My favourite part of workshops are the Q&A sessions where you just talk shop, so if there's anything on your mind let me know!

See ya on the flip side....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Proud Mama Moment and thoughts on Art

Yesterday I had a proud mama moment.

I switched my volunteer day at the school to Wednesday instead of Thursday, because Calgary Opera was coming to perform Cinderella. They arrived an hour before curtain and took 9 students under their wing - 8 to have walk on parts and the other to man the "applause" sign which ended up being a hoot.

My eldest got to be one of the walk ons. They put her in costume and she had a few lines and overall had so much fun and was a little in awe that she performed with the opera. LOL.

I am a huge fan of the arts, which is probably no surprise to anyone reading this. I am constantly amazed at the number of performances we get at our school from either drama troupes or musical events and I think it's wonderful that a lot of these kids - who wouldn't have the chance to see such things - get to experience that world.

I spent a lot of time in my younger years gravitating towards art-type activities, especially music and writing. But I also heard a lot about how it wasn't practical. Yet here I am, years later, beginning a career in one of those very professions. I think...what you are meant to be, you'll be....as long as you recognize it. For me, there was I think only so long I could be something else before that passion came through.

Art- be it traditional art, music, drama, literature - it touches people. I humbly suggest that people DO need to be touched more. They need to be provoked into thinking. When I was growing up those subjects were being cut all over the place, as was phys ed. They were deemed not necessary. What would the ramifications be anyway?

Let's have a look at society as a whole. We cut phys ed at the same time that convenience items were really coming forth - technology and fast food. Now we have a society plagued with obesity. We cut music and drama and art and I'm reminded of that line in Mr. Holland's Opus when Richard Dreyfuss says something like, "You can cut it and focus on reading and writing but without art they'll have nothing to read or write about." Or in Dead Poet's Society when Robin Williams... well, the whole darn movie, to be exact. Both encapsulate everything I believe to be true about art. We can exist without it. Art is what gives us true meaning.

When I visit my children's school, I'm thrilled that they get phys ed pretty much every day, that they have a music program, a teacher willing to take on a drama project every year and even teachers who have willingly volunteered to help me with an author club. We get an "artist in residence" for a few weeks every year that does special projects with the kids.

Creating children who question and think for themselves, children with open minds and a well-rounded education....that sounds just about right to me.

One last bit....even though we celebrated here a month or so ago, Happy Thanksgiving to all my neighbours to the South! (including my brother and his family!) May your day be filled with family and fowl. :-)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Update and a laugh

Why don't we start with the laugh?

I sat in the doctor's office with my youngest again yesterday, and the wait at least wasn't as long as a few weeks ago. This time we went to our family doctor and even as a walk-in without an appointment we waited half as long. Which was lovely. More lovely was our doctor. I love him and will cry buckets when he finally decides to retire. We have had him since moving to Calgary over 10 years ago.

Anyway he's looking at dear daughter and I mention a vacation I'm planning for next year. He says, "So how IS the writing business anyway?" I laugh, say I've had a crazy fall, I'm a little tired, but pretty darn happy."

So he steps a little closer. "Do this," he says, and makes a face.

So I do it.

A little smile creeps up his face and he says "Hmmm."

I say, "I know, I'm getting wrinkles."

And he says...no word of a lie...."Yes, you should look into botox." Of course said with a wee smile and a twinkle in his eye. He's so cute I wasn't offended at all - instead we had a bit of a laugh.

Ok, so I'm NOT getting botox, but I can tell you why I'm looking not 100%. One, I'm tired. Two, I've put some weight back on and when I had it off I was eating very well and my skin reflected the proper nutrition it was getting. Three, I haven't been looking after my skin as well as I should and I was also in a ponytail and sans makeup.

I have an appointment for myself in December. Boy am I gonna show him. LOL!

Today I'm at the school instead of my regular Thursday because the Calgary Opera is putting on a performance and I don't want to miss it. I'll do up the laminating at the same time.

And in the cyber world, I'm at Tote Bags 'N' Blogs today talking a little about priorities.

Carry on, and catch you on the flip side tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



The weekend's over, and I'm here to announce the big winner!

Congrats to Denise L who wins the 12 Days of Christmas Box!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm still waiting for one more item to arrive before shipping, but so far this is what's inside:

Signed copies of:

Marriage at Circle M, Donna Alward

Dead Silence , Brenda Novak

The Trouble with Luv, Pamela Yaye
Dark Lies, Vivi Anna

Christmas CD

Handpainted Christmas ornament

Magnets

2008 Agenda/Day Planner

Calendar

Bookmark

Godiva Chocolate

Holiday Post-It Notes

I'll also be sending out a newsletter so check your inboxes soon!

Thank you to all who signed up and entered!!!!!!!!!!!! And don't fret - I frequently hold subscriber only contests so you'll have more chances to win!




Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's to all the band geeks!


This is the last day...well, I'll be generous. I'll take subscriptions over the weekend and draw on Monday. After all, 'tis the season and I won't have time to draw tomorrow, lol.


A quick post as I'm on the way out the door, but I have to blog in response to Grey's Anatomy last night. Poor Miranda. I have to say that the entire show made me SO NOT miss High School and all the drama and angst and other stuff. But when Miranda yelled at Derek and threw out the band uniform thing and he responded with "Sax" I grinned from ear to ear.


Band geeks often are NOT the popular kids in school. But when a band geek goes on and makes good, I want to stand up and cheer.


My name is Donna and I'm a band geek.


Have a good weekend, all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 11...and this and that



Yuppers, it's day 11. Which means you have today and tomorrow left to sign up for my newsletter and get your chance at winning the Christmas package! I was out and about yesterday and picked up the ornament for the prize and the sales lady said, "ooooh, that's my favourite one!" Sooooo pretty...I might have to go back and get one for myself.



Last night I was tired and vegged out in front of the tv watching last week's and this week's episodes of LIFE, a new series this year starring Damian Lewis. I love it. Lewis plays a detective but he's not cookie cutter cop type. His whole approach to life is rather Zen - 12 years in prison will do that to you. Yup, that's right - a detective that spent over a decade in prison for a murder he didn't commit. So now he's kind of philosophical, is methodically putting together pieces to solve his own case, and lives in luxury thanks to the settlement he received. The end of last night's episode made my mouth fall open because several more questions were posed rather than being answered.

I also started laughing at one point in the evening. This might sound corny but you know sometimes I still can't believe I'm here. I worked a long time and even though I've seen 4 books released it still blows me away that I'm writing for a living. How did this happen? I am working on book 5 for Romance. Five! And it seems like yesterday I was hoping they'd buy number ONE!

That sense of the surreal still strikes me.

I'm just very, very lucky and very blessed to get to do this, yanno?

Now I'm off to NOT be a writer today- I'm the juice and cookie lady during school vaccinations, then I'm laminating, then it's Author Club after school. And choir practice tonight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lords a leaping! Day 10!



For those of you who think I'm bananas for holding my Christmas contest already, I stick out my tongue at you and say that last night I started my Christmas cards. :-) I mean seriously, I have lots of international things to post so I need to get on it!


If you're new to the blog, take a sec and sign up for my newsletter in the boxes to the right. Only a couple of days remain for my holiday contest. I think this is the best prize I've ever offered, personally.

A few people have been kind enough to e-mail me about my website and have said how much they like the new look. All credit goes to my webmistress Melissa who did such a fantastic job for me.

So now I'm going to ask YOU...is there anything you'd like to see on the site that ISN'T there? Just drop me a line at donna@donnaalward.com and let me know what you'd like to see on the site.

And one last thing. I watched THE UNIT last night and it was a tissue-box sort of show. Now it's common knowledge that I cry at shows a lot, but last night was different. I didn't just cry. I had warm tears simply STREAMING down my face at regular intervals.

You see, they took care of Hector, and brought his body home. And it was really interesting to see how each member of the team handled the situation.

Bob was given the job of getting the reporter's head on straight so he didn't blow the whistle.

Jonas handled it by going after The Butcher all on his own and kicking some serious butt.

Mack handled it by staying with the body through the autopsy, then going home and gettin' it on with his estranged wife...connecting, if you will. You gotta know the history to know how much sense this made.

And Gray - well, he smashed a White House dude on the head from his hospital bed, and then snuck out to meet Hector's parents at the apartment they'd shared.

And in the end they were all at the memorial together.

Gulp.




LOVE THIS SHOW. Seriously love it.




Ok...now school run time and a day of work for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nine Ladies Dancing....and more stuff


Soon I'll be making another shopping trip for the rest of the items...and it WILL be very soon seeing as we're in the homestretch!

The winner will be announced in my holiday newsletter on Monday, though I'll be in touch with them by e-mail before that.

There will also be some fun stuff in the newsletter, so yet another reason to sign up!

Now I'm getting caught up - there's a brand new post on the Harlequin Romance Author Blog spotlighting Rebecca Winters...as well as a Christmas Anthology out right now. I LOVE this time of year. There are so many special reads out there.

And I've nearly finished my edits for my editor so I am going to zoom off and get those tidied up and sent, and then get to work on the WIP. No rest for the wicked!

But before I go I do have to share something. At the signing we were talking to some people about what we write - all four of us write different types of Romance...Brenda's books were a sampling of her romantic suspense, Vivi's were her paranormal Nocturne's, Pam writes romances for Kimani, and I write traditional romance. Of course I was the only one there that is deemed non-explicit.

So when the question came up, I said that it didn't mean there wasn't potential for lots of sexual tension. It just meant that when it comes to the actual consummation, the bedroom door is shut.

Then I grabbed Marriage at Circle M, went to the end of a chapter, and BRENDA NOVAK READ ALOUD FROM MY BOOK.

This was a thrill for me. A really big thrill.

And I got to thinking...damn, Mike IS hot! Wooooo!

I didn't get a picture of her reading mine, but we did get a pic of her reading from Pam Yaye's latest.

And now I'm off to get to work. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Maids a-milking! News!

My apologies for not having a graphic for my maids a milking. I'm working remotely so without access to my bookmark where I'm getting those cute little pix. HOWEVER the point is, we're at EIGHT people! Which means the TWELVE DAYS are running down fast and you only have 4 more to sign up!


I have books....chocolate....cd....bookmark....and more shopping to do! Get on it already! :-) Remember you just need to sign up for my newsletter in the boxes on the right to be entered!


So...the weekend. It's a long weekend here so I'm trying desperately to get caught up as well as the fact that my author alterations for Dark and Dangerous are glaring at me from the top of my bookcase. But...I did promise pics from the booksigning and thanks to CaRWA member Suzanne who sent this one.


It was a great afternoon - wonderful to hang out with Vivi, catch up with Pam and meet Brenda Novak for the first time. Brenda sat beside me and we kept sneaking chocolate out of the basket. We had lots of laughs and sold lots of books which made ME happy. After the signing was over I had a chat at Starbucks with Paula Eykelhof, and I'm sure I babbled sufficiently though I suppose she's very used to that. Paula's reputation as being a lovely, wonderful editor precedes her and I was as nervous as anyone else would be!


After our chat, several CaRWA members joined Brenda and Paula for dinner at the Danish Canadian Club. Mmmm. Wonderful food and better company....loads of chatter and laughing going on.


Saturday was a busy workshop jam-packed full of information and I found myself nodding a lot with things Brenda and Paula said. It was a reminder of a)how busy we writers get to be as our job is not only writing books but being businesswomen, and b) how much I absolutely love what I'm doing. We had a quick break for lunch and met for a drink at the end of the day, though I left early. My husband had done his share of house and kid duty for the weekend and I was dog-tired.


It was wonderful, though. Absolutely wonderful.


And yesterday at Remembrance Day ceremonies, I got very excited for The Soldier's Homecoming to come out. I kept thinking of my hero, Jonas, and realizing how much respect and gratitude I have for those men and woman who do the tough jobs.


Ok now I'm off...kids and I are making christmas lollipops for the church bazaar this coming weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quick

Time's running out in the contest so make sure you sign up!

I'm just darting through after an amazing weekend workshopping.

Pictures will be up first of the week.

:-)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Day Five and an exciting day for me



Yup - back again. Day Five. Sign up already, will ya? Boxes on the right.




Today's an exciting day for me. I have a booksigning this afternoon and I think it is going to be a hoot. This time I'm not signing books alone...there are four of us. I'm going to be at the NE Chapters in Calgary from 3-5 (That's the shameless plug part of the post) with Calgary authors Vivi Anna (Nocturne), Pamela Yaye (Kimani) and the one and only BRENDA NOVAK!

This is gonna be a wee bit thrilling for moi.

I haven't done an official signing for Marriage at Circle M yet so if any of you are in the area and don't have a copy yet, come on out and grab one. And if you do - well bring it and I'll sign it for you! And it's also your chance to grab Brenda's Stillwater Trilogy, Pam's latest Kimani release and the second installment of Vivi's Valorian Chronicles.

It's actually a kick off to a great weekend, I think. A bunch of us are going to dinner afterwards and then tomorrow Brenda is giving a workshop at the Greenwood Inn (put on by the local RWA chapter, CaRWA). Super editor Paula Eykelhof is also coming which also makes me nervous. But excited too.


I hope to pop in and post Saturday and Sunday but if something happens I don't...regular service will resume on Monday.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursdays....my "other" day


Welcome to day four of the contest! Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they couldn't believe I was holding a Christmas Contest! That it's only November! But as someone who has to ship the majority of presents every year, I wanted to make sure that whoever I send it to gets it in time for the holidays. I'm still debating what kind of chocolate I'm going to put in. There are so many kinds....truffles, dark chocolate, caramel filled.....oh dear.

So, today is Thursday. Thursday is what I call my "other" day. I have volunteered at the school since my kids started there and this year took on the role of "laminating lady". I also do some prep work if time permits. But I could see it becoming crazy so I said at the end of last year that I would come in one day a week and do everything, but only the one day.

So Thursday is my other day. I'll start with some random jobs while the laminator is heating up and then I'll go most of the morning. Over lunch I'm working on my aa's - my kids are visiting lunchroom today and catching up with their friends - and after lunch I'll finish up as much as I can. After school is Author Club - week 4 with some grade 3 and 4 students who are writing stories - and I'll get home sometime after 4:30. And then tonight is choir practice.

I do love Thursdays. I really enjoy being at the school and seeing the staff and the kids. Making it all on one day was a time management issue for me. I'd rather take a whole day and do things rather than get called to do a couple of hours here and a couple there. Plus, they know I'm coming so when I get there this morning everything will be piled up in the workroom waiting for me.

Speaking of - I'd better get at it. Will be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day Three and a shocking development


Today's Day Three! If you haven't signed up for the contest, can I just say that in my opinion it's worth it for the ornament alone. I love these ornaments and frequently buy them for friends for Christmas. Gorgeous and handpainted and in a lovely keepsake box.

My good buddy Michelle has had a fab review today from the Publisher's Weekly blog. Go here and read what this new "convert to Romance" has to say about A CHRISTMAS WEDDING WAGER!



NOTE IF YOU WATCH THE UNIT AND MISSED LAST NIGHT'S SHOW STOP READING RIGHT NOW!


*******************Spoiler Alert*******************

I was so tired last night but refused to go to bed because THE UNIT was on. Last week the preview said "They go as five, but come back as four". And it showed Grey and indeed he is wounded at the very beginning and nearly dies in the middle of Beirut with the escape helo crashed and burned and the Hezbollah going door to door looking for them.


SUCH a good episode. At one point the Lebanese family is cowering and Bob tells the elder son to go help Hector with Grey. The son says "Son of a bitch." Bob murmurs, "I know." as he has his gun trained on the boy's father. Jonas takes the reporter they were sent to get out (and no coincidence he bears a resemblance to Daniel Pearl) and realizes he's been "Stockholmed" adding another complication.

So we get to the end of the episode and it looks like Grey's going to make it and I'm thinking, oh ok, they did the "four" thing as a publicity ploy. The marines are there to evac them out and it's all good and then

Yeah. And then.

Hector. Sniper bullet to the neck. Dies instantly. Just like that.

My hand flew over my mouth and I cried. I did. I LOVE Hector. Loved his character. If there were a Helo (from BSG) on THE UNIT, Hector is it. A truly heroic character that somehow flies under the radar. The fact that he saw the Colonel and Tiffy last week had me so excited and now he's gone.

Story-wise it makes sense though I would have rather have lost Grey. But as a writer it hit me as one of those things that had to happen. The team couldn't stay together forever. Things need to progress. Now they'll need a new team member. Bob won't be the newbie any more. It brings in a whole new story dimension which is needed to keep it fresh.

But Damn. I'm gonna miss Hector.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What's out this month....

On the second day of Donna's contest, my true love sent to me....Two Turtledoves!

Have you signed up yet? Don't miss your chance to receive this great prize!




Ok....upwards and onwards. I discovered yesterday that Marriage at Circle M...otherwise known as Cuentame tus Secretos, isn't out in February as I thought. It's out NOW!


And it kept the same cover, which I'm happy about because sometimes the foreign releases do swap covers and such.





As well, Marriage at Circle M has shown up on the e-harlequin Aussie site. It's a December release there but in Harlequin tradition, the books ARE available online a month early.


That's all for me today...I'm off to run a few errands and then come back home and cloister myself to work on the WIP. I will be sitting in a waiting room though so I'm going to take the opportunity to finish up Julie Cohen's Featured Attraction.



Monday, November 05, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Contest!!!!!!!!!




No...it's not a Partidge in a Pear Tree....today's the FIRST DAY leading up to the draw of my holiday prize!

I realized over the weekend that the first of the month had passed and I hadn't announced the details of my Christmas Contest as I said I would! My bad! Oh well....there's still time...50 days until Christmas and a few weeks to get your names in for your chance to win. And TWELVE DAYS until I do the draw...


Here's what will be in the package:

CHOCOLATE (yes, there's a reason that's capitalized!)

A handpainted Christmas ornament

A Harlequin bookmark

A 2008 Calendar

A fridge magnet
Holiday sticky notes

Christmas CD

and, of course...BOOKS!


This contest is open to newsletter subscribers, so all you need to do is put your info in the boxes to the right. On November 17tth I'll draw from my subscriber list for one lucky winner!

Right. Carry on. And SIGN UP!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Review for MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M


I just got an e-mail from the coordinator at Cataromance saying that the review for Marriage at Circle M was up. I've been waiting to see what they thought and it was SO worth the wait...the reviewer gave it 4.5 Stars!

I was thrilled to bits when I read this: "I laughed with them; I cried with them, I cheered them on, hoping they would reach the point they could heal each other. Donna Alward has penned a truly uplifting story of pain and the healing power of love. This one is truly a must-read book for anyone who loves a great love story."

I did a fair amount of laughing and crying with Grace and Mike myself. :-)

Anyway you can read the whole thing by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boy Crazy

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd be posting an interesting topic today and I can only say it's been interesting for me the last few days as I kind of had a look at myself as, probably, someone else might look at me and then looked at me from the inside.

When I was a teenager, I was boy crazy. People said it; it was true. I didn't actually date anywhere near as often as people thought, but I had lots of crushes and for a long time, I figured that was just me being a teen.

However, I recently came to the shocking discovery that I'm STILL boy crazy. And this after spending 16 years with my husband and having a couple of kids!

The truth is, I still appreciate good looks, strong character, charisma. And I'll say so.

Here's an example. At church last week we had a guest speaker who was young, reasonably attractive, and just struck me as intelligent. I made a couple of flippant comments and then later, during coffee, spoke to him with a group of others.

The mistake people make I think is with the perception. There is a vast difference between appreciating someone's looks or sense of humour or intelligence (you'll hear this often, I think a sharp brain is astoundingly attractive) and being interested in being with them on a personal level. Number one, my eyes aren't broken and never have been. And number two, I simply like people. So I appreciate the package and enjoy talking to and learning about people. Was I "interested" in this person? Of course not. I'm happily married. Was I interested ABOUT this person? Absolutely.

So let's jump back a decade or so and to my teenage years. Was I in love with all those crushes? Of course not. So why was it I had them to begin with?

And this week suddenly it ALL made sense.

Before I even knew I was going to be a writer, I got caught up in the drama of "What if". I saw boys - men - as potential heroes of a situation. At sixteen, I was the heroine. Now my horizons have broadened considerably. Now it's a general curiosity and study of character. Who is this person? What has shaped him? Why does he look intelligent? What is it in his eyes that gives a woman that jolt in the gut?

Hah. Turns out I'm not boy crazy at all. I'm character crazy. What a relief!

Let's face it folks, if you care to look, PEOPLE ARE INTERESTING. As a writer of character driven books, I want to know!!!!!!!! So all this time I thought I was boy crazy it turns out I really just like to see people as a big picture and see possibilities. What would happen to him if he went here, or met this sort of person? Scenes start unfolding in my mind. It's all about the potential.

Do I do this with women? Not as much, but then AS a woman I think naturally I gravitate towards heroes a lot. But I can give you an example. When I was in London, we had lunch at a pub and there was a couple sitting at a table. The woman was stunning. Simply gorgeous, with fine skin and beautiful hair and eyes that would bring any man to his knees...a sense of style and yet a sweetness that said she didn't use the package as power. I could see her right away as a heroine. Who is she? What does she do for a living? What kind of situation could I put her in so she's in conflict?

That doesn't make me woman crazy either, it just makes me curious and creative.

Let me just say, this has been a revelation.

Now that I've let it all hang out....for you writers out there....do you get this? or am I completely out to lunch?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Update

Despite that I need to leave in half an hour, I wanted to update.

Because of NaNoWriMo, the word counter thingy isn't accessible right now. That's because last year all the users for NaNoWriMo actually crashed it. LOL. Darn those productive people! So for the next little while, I won't be able to update it.

I CAN tell you however that I am approx 4 k into the new story and enjoying it. I do believe the key to this one is going to be layers and layers and layers.

Also, I may just be hormonal but I made myself all teary in Chapter Two. I don't think that's ever happened before. I think I just empathise with my heroine a lot and so suddenly she wanted something and I could feel that longing right along with her.

I wish I could stay home today and just WRITE. Alas...not in the schedule.

Come back for tomorrow's post because I have an idea for a topic that I think will be fun. And may tell you more about me than you expect.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Manic Monday

Yeah, I've got that silly song from The Bangles in my head, but I'm bracing myself today for the week from hell.

Yesterday someone said they had volunteer opportunities for me in my free time. I laughed and said, I think, that I might have other plans for that five minutes. This fall has been just STUPID schedule wise and no one's to blame but me, I know it, I take full responsibility. At some point books need to get written and I've made the mistake of fitting that in around other things when it should be the other way around. I hope my editor's not reading this. I promise to do better, I do!

ANYWAY, today I am running a few errands, trying to finish chapter one, doing the school runs, and I have a meeting this afternoon which at least is here at my house so I don't need to travel out for it. Tomorrow is the school's major fundraiser and I snagged a day shift, which means that I'm on from 11-7:30 p.m...so the kids will have to go to lunchroom and Dad is on dinner duty. Wednesday I'm working lunchroom but should be able to get some writing done. Thursday is my morning at the school, plus working lunchroom, plus Author Club after school, plus choir practice. And Friday my husband is off work and we will be needing to replenish the fridge. And he might like a little attention.

Oy.

Anyway if the blog is quiet this week that will be why, and if I start to panic and go into denial expect regular postings. :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday!

It's Friday, the end of the work week, the school week, and various other things. For the first time in quite a while, the whole family is going to be home tomorrow which means a relaxing morning of laying in and getting up eventually and the husband making omelettes. Bliss.



BUT for today, you can find me at the PHS for FILM ON FRIDAY where I talk about MUST LOVE DOGS.


In other news, my editor has read my synop for The Cowboy's Princess and I got the thumbs up...so more writing this morning I hope.


And what else....hmmmm....oh yes, last night I watched Grey's Anatomy. FINALLY a really well written episode. My one complaint....Eva/Rebecca. Why did Alex not admit he'd gone after her? Why would she say she's come to find him when she's still in her marriage? Grrrr.


But I loved the rest. I really did. I'm waiting with glee for George and Izzy's relationship to blow up. Knowing it will is the one reason I am not rebelling about the apparent happiness they are sharing. lol. I loved how Cristina shunned Izzy for sleeping with someone else's husband and how she told off Dr. Hahn. I loved Derek and Sloane's joking around...I like how they've become friends again. When Derek paid the kid to say, "Hi Daddy" and the look on Sloane's face, I totally cracked up. I liked Meredith and Lexy's moment (is it Lexy or Lexi?) and her whole mother thing. And I was happy to see spunky Cally and Miranda again. And Cally and Cristina laughing their butts of in surgery was great.


Yup - happy with the episode.


I don't watch Big Shots, but as I was getting ready for bed one scene had me laughing so hard I nearly coughed up a lung:


Shrink: " When was the last time you had sex?"


Male character: (makes motion like thumbing through book) "Let's see, I'll check my almanac, the frost was one the vine...."


TOO FUNNY. And probably one of those "you had to be there" moments but still...


Ok so I'm off to work now, have a great day and a better weekend and I'll catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Synopsis writing - before and after

Mel asked if I would elaborate on the way that synopses differ when you write them BEFORE you write the book and when you write them AFTER. This is a new thing for me...until a year ago, I ALWAYS wrote the book and then did the synopsis. But all that changed when I started selling books and editors started wanting to know what I had in the pipeline.

The first time I wrote a synopsis for a story unwritten it was short. I even remember saying to my editor, I don't know HOW this is going to play out but this is what needs to happen. Recently I've been brainstorming more so the synopses I put together now are longer - it's just that they are a little different from a finished book synop.

To illustrate this, I'm going to give you a paragraph or two of different synopses.

This first bit is from what I sent with Hired By The Cowboy. You do get a sense of scene...he goes to his grandmother, goes to Alex, she thinks for a weekend, she screws up in the kitchen. There is less of motivation and a lot more of what actually happens in the book.

Connor goes to his grandmother to ask her to release his trust fund early. She reveals that the only way to get his trust fund early is to get married. Unattached, Connor thinks this is ridiculous, knowing he cannot find a bride and get married in time to save the ranch. That is, until he remembers Alex, and devises a scheme that will benefit them both.

He asks Alex to marry him, a temporary arrangement. He’ll get his money and she and her baby will be provided for, so she can give her child a good start in life.

After a weekend of consideration, and still sceptical, Alex agrees to a trial period at the ranch. She is not at all sure she is cut out for farm life, and after a horrible attempt at cooking, she thinks she should leave. Connor’s tolerant and practical reaction shows her how understanding he is. Out of options she takes the leap and agrees to a wedding.

Now, when I do a proposal type synopsis, I don't have that many scenes in my head. I know WHAT has to happen but not how I'm going to execute it. So those scene details are missing. I usually have between 1 and 3 scenes that I know will make it into the book, but that's all. The rest evolves from what I know of my characters and their arcs.

What does get sent though is a deeper insight into what drives the characters.

This is from what I sent my editor today...working title The Cowboy's Princess. You will notice there is no concrete scene where these things happen. It's all about the characters and their motivations, what is keeping them apart and what draws them together.

From the get-go Lucy resents Brody. He represents everything she thought she had…he knows his place and he’s happy in it. His days have purpose and he simply belongs in the world he’s created. He has the kind of home she’s been longing for, and it’s a stark reminder of what she’s lost. He’s also good at what he does…producing some of the best stock she’s seen.

She’s attracted to him right from the start, and it seems to be mutual. Yet Lucy isn’t willing to explore it, no matter how much she wants to – she already knows what a quick affair cost her mother and won’t let that happen to herself. It’s clear that Brody’s obligation is to his ranch, just like her father’s was to his country. And on Brody’s part…he’s stunned at how he’s reacted to Lucy’s presence and it makes him back off. He’s been in a relationship where things burned hot and fast and then burned out just as quickly and he won’t make that mistake again.

Now, maybe not everyone works this way, and I know there are times when I've pitched a story on a paragraph and then today when I send a couple of pages. It depends on if you're a planner or pantser. I'm lucky that the most my editor has ever said about my synopsis is a caution about watching a certain thing. It's more so she knows where I'm going with a current book and if any big holes pop up she can give me the heads up.

I hope this helps a little bit Mel. Thanks for commenting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Details that bring things to life

As you know from my earlier post, I've spent a couple of days synopsis writing for 2 different stories. The Brainstorming was a blast...so very cool. (We do it on MSN) I love how when Kris and I do that, we'll often have an idea, type, send it and it pops up and we've suggested essentially the same thing. LOL. A synop on a book unwritten is usually more about hitting the right motivations and the timing...the actual execution and sequence of scenes is all up for grabs during the actual writing. At least for me...I'm half-planner half-pantser. I like having a general roadmap, but think sometimes the best magic happens when you go off track a little bit. As long as you get to the destination in the end.

Now, the more you know, the more details filter through so you can see more of your story unravelling. I recently read Trish Wylie's Return of the Rebel and she is a great one for details that really elevate a good story to something great. In RotR it was the t-shirts. I love how little details provide continuity - and intimacy. Not necessarily between the characters themselves but between the characters and the reader.

Just this morning 2 of these details jumped out at me with regards to The Cowboy's Princess. Little things that are for Lucy and Lucy alone. I think I first really did this in Marriage at Circle M with the daisies. So you can understand why, when I saw the cover, I was so happy Mike was holding a bouquet of daisies.

Tomorrow I'm at the school, but on Friday I'm planning on getting a firm start on this book, FINALLY! I'm hoping once I get past those first few pages I'll hit my stride.

As I get going I'll be posting some pics, of my hero, my heroine, and some of the cool things I discover as I'm writing.

Now I'm off...character sheets to finish and a mountain of filing to do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brainstorming and plain speaking

I have a couple of synopses to put together - of the proposal variety - and so I had a brainstorming session with Kris Starr yesterday afternoon.

I love how talking to someone just opens everything up. I had a basic situation but there was so much I didn't know about my characters and how I was going to set up the situation that just running everything by her was so helpful. This book has gone from being a somewhat nebulous idea to me getting excited to write it. I want to tell their story. I want to torture them and get them to the HEA.

Do you guys brainstorm? I will still go forward and do up my character sheets, etc., but sometimes getting another writer's input is gold, pure gold and something they say suddenly makes everything clear.

Little does Kris know thought that next time she comes online I have another story to iron out with her.

As well, something someone sent me last week has stuck in my mind a lot and so I'm going to share it with you the same as I shared it with the group I spoke to on the weekend. The woman that I was in contact with (and who was my chauffeur, thanks Janet ;-) ) e-mailed me with a quote that I simply loved.

People ask me a lot what really got me to the point where I was published. There is no one answer I suppose, yet in my heart I know what it was. It was work. It was making the writing a priority and doing it, whatever "it" was. Whether it was finishing a new manuscript or getting a rejection or giving a critique (and getting them)...but it was work, plain and simple. It was hard work and lots of it. I've never been one of those people to whom things come easily. I think a lot of people think that but the truth is even in school, I had to work very hard for my marks.

So when Janet sent me this excerpt I nodded my head a lot. I've seen a lot of people say they want to do a lot of things. What separates them from the ones that do it is putting in the work and the time. The ones that know this is true will be nodding as they read this and the ones that don't will be reading and thinking of reasons why they haven't done it.

The quote comes from "Secrets of Earning a Living as a Writer" by Jo Ann LeQuang.

"The business of writing separates the sheep from the goats...Writers who want to support themselves writing need to stop thinking and talking about writing and focus on the business.

If you want to earn a living as a writer, you have to sell what
you've written."

Hate to disillusion you folks, but it wasn't supreme innate talent that made someone buy my books. It was five years of hard work and sacrifice and learning and rejection. Don't let this dishearten you, let it motivate you! If I can do it, so can you. All it takes is commitment to putting in the work.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back to Business

I'm back from a wonderful weekend in Saskatoon where I spoke to a group of writers about "The Business of Writing".

It was my first day-long workshop and I was considerably nervous, though I shouldn't have been as everyone was completely lovely. The workshop was held at the gorgeous "Willows" Golf Club and may I just say thanks to the coordinators for securing such a great venue as well as all the leg work they put into the day.

We talked lots about the writing and the business but out of everything what I loved the most was simply being with other writers and talking shop. Writing can be a very lonely task and being able to get together and talk and people "get it" and don't look at you like you're crazy is a blessing.

After the speaking part of the day was over, those of us staying at a hotel went back, recharged, and then went for dinner hosted by one of the members. And then after we went back to the hotel I ended up chatting with another couple of writers until I realized that it was nearly 10:30! I was already tired and feeling the beginnings of a cold, so off to bed I went.

The next morning I was croaky and tired, but had a hot shower and 7 of us went for breakfast where we talked...and talked...and talked...

So all in all it was relatively painless and thoroughly enjoyable. Now I'm back home with a brand new to-do list of things to accomplish this week! Oh and tea....lots and lots of tea to try to fix this cold....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sign up...

I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel - my workshop last night turned out ok I think, my one for Saturday is nearly in the tube, and the stress level is starting to relax a bit. Next week I should only have the creative writing club at the school and the actual prep work for the new book. Bliss! LOL.

So that got me to thinking...what else is coming up? *taps fingernails, thinking*

Oh yes...Christmas!

Now I hear all the collective groans but hold on a minute. For one, I LOVE Christmas. I love the food, the lights, the decorations, the music, the general overall warmth of it.

I do not like the crowds, or the parents that feel the need to talk through school concerts, or the fact that so many charities canvass over the holidays and you simply can't support every one and you feel like a heel for not doing so.

I'm not asking you to spend a red cent though, I'm not asking you to go out and brave the throngs in the malls or even sit quietly as my kids perform brilliantly. Nope. In fact, I'll do all the work.

Here's what you have to do. Easy peasy. If you haven't already, sign up for my newsletter. The subscription box is on the sidebar. On November 1, I'll announce the details of my Christmas contest. No questions to answer, no surfing required...just a random drawing from those who have kindly signed up. The contest will stay open until Christmas Eve, and then I'll do the drawing!

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guest Blogging and a Shoptalk

Today is my October day on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs, where I talk about what a fraud I am.

In keeping with that, tonight is my very first "shoptalk" at my RWA chapter. During the second part of the meeting we're discussing editorial revisions and how they are really not scary.

I'm not too nervous about it because I love revisions. I also did a Q&A on eharlequin earlier this year about it and the discussions generated there helped a lot.

The week keeps ticking along, before I know it it'll be over and I'll be able to breathe again. Each job done is another ticked off my list.

Man, I sound utterly boring.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A change in plans...

I was all set to write A Bride at Willow Bend when my editor called with a specific request.

I had to catch my breath for a minute and switch gears, but that's perfectly ok. In fact, I have a workshop to finish putting together this week and all I really want to do is start on the new story.

My working title is going to be The Cowboy's Princess and I've already done the casting. I remember quite a while ago, seeing a video with this person and saying to my husband, "when I write another cowboy, he's going to be my hero." And he is. He's exactly what I want.

My heroine is a princess, though she hasn't known that fact for long. In fact, she's sure she doesn't fit in anywhere, except at the royal stables. So when she heads for the hero's ranch, she goes as "Lucy", rather than Princess Luciana. Problem is, she really doesn't know who either of those people are.

Without further ado...my casting choices:





However, I do have a workshop to give tomorrow night, I have to work the old day job today, I have a creative writing club on Thursday after school, and I have a day-long workshop to finish putting together for Saturday, so the blog might be a bit quiet this week....hopefully life will return to normal after this coming Sunday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Soldier's Homecoming and a great review for Marriage at Circle M

I'm going to share with you today something that I'm SOOOO excited about...the cover and blurb for The Soldier's Homecoming. I got this proof when I was in London and I am so pleased with it! I can't wait to get the hardbacks...probably in about a month's time.


A hero for his country - now he will win her heart!

Jonas Kirkpatrick left town to be a soldier without ever looking back. But Shannyn saw him every day in her little girl's green eyes...

Six years later Jonas has come home, changed utterly from the carefree boy Shannyn once knew. Hardened by war, Jonas can't allow himself to open his heart.

Until he discovers what he left behind - the unbreakable bond with a child he never knew existed, and the enduring love of the only woman who can make him whole again...


In other news, Marriage at Circle M has been reviewed by Romance Junkies and got 4.5 ribbons!


"Donna Alward writes a powerful story of coming out of the world of past hurts and embracing the future. The emotions are compelling and they carry you away with each page... This warmhearted tale contains all the important elements of love and friendship...a gem."

You can read the whole review HERE!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Harlequin Romance Day

I'm appearing with some other authors on Cataromance's Harlequin Romance Day. In preparation for the event, they also posted a short interview with me on Friday. To visit the event, go HERE.

There is also a new Spotlight in Six on the Harlequin Romance Author Blog. This month it features Jackie Braun, who penned the last in the "Secrets We Keep" Trilogy. Be sure to pop over and give it a read.

Now I'm off to do other work-like things as well as enjoy leftovers from last night's feast. Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada which means that my house smells like turkey right now. My husband has made the dressing and my mom and I made pumpkin pie yesterday. We have potatoes and carrots and squash and coleslaw. Mmmmm. Better yet are the leftovers we'll enjoy all week.

I am having a wonderful visit with my mum and my husband is up to his armpits in truck engine so all are happy. The weather is lovely and we all think fall is the best season. Life is good.

I am very behind though in work, because I have a couple of workshops coming up that I'm not ready for. So I'm going to try to sneak in a little work time this week. In between touring, shopping and eating, that is. :-)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A new title....

I just got my title for my August release...this is for the US Marshal book set in Alberta.

FALLING FOR MR DARK AND DANGEROUS

What do y'all think?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Review, Hot Guys and a quiet blog...

Almost a Family has had yet another review....on the GottaWriteNetwork...and Kathy gave it a 4/5. You can see her thoughts HERE.

Over at the Pink Heart Society today, the topic is military heroes. Nic Marsh has done a great job of finding pictures...personally i LOVE military and law enforcement types and so I really enjoyed her post.

And, the blog may be slightly quieter than usual this week as my mum is here for a visit and I have a book to hand in...so the name of the game is going to be FOCUS and FUN. :-)

If anything of particular interest pops up, though, I'll be sure to post. Otherwise, have a good one!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

A lot of response has come from a program that ran on BBC4 Radio yesterday called Guilty Pleasures. It is a 30 minute look at Mills and Boon.

Did I enjoy it? Most of it, yes. However there were some rather closed-minded opinions...well heck, let's just say that a few things said were incredibly insulting not only to the authors but really towards the readers.

Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Walker all posted responses, and mine is up at Tote Bags n' Blogs in my inaugural post as a monthly contributor.

Sometimes you think, oh, I won't bother responding because it won't change anything. But I did want to address it because it went beyond an informed look at the genre and was demeaning to women in a huge way.

Anyway I'm off to get more work done...slowly making my way through my to-do list...and I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

London - Part Three and THE END!

Saturday was more relaxed....we had a Mouse and Pen get-together (the Mouse and Pen is a thread on e-harlequin where UK members and anglophiles hang out). Nell Dixon traveled to be in attendance and I also got to meet Carol C who is gorgeous and glowing in pregnancy, and then there were the usual suspects - Julie Cohen with Fecklet, Biddy, Fiona Harper, Anna and myself.


We went to a turkish restaurant and had a wonderful time. No alcohol consumed, oddly enough. I think I may have still had an elevated blood alcohol level from the previous night, but the food was great and the company better.

We went back to Biddy's flat and were lazy for a bit, until we had to say goodbye to some people.

We did manage to get off our collective butts and head to Biddy's sister's for drinkies before dinner. Can I just say right now that I LOVED Pimlico. Gorgeous white row houses and tended flowers...just perfect. After wine (and I really have NO willpower when it comes to the grape) we went to dinner. Where I actually had to think as we went over favourite novels, favourite romance novels, favourite movies...


Anna and I stayed at the flat and the next morning we ate breakfast at Anna the sister's lol. From there we went to Battersea which was wonderful. I love walking and it was a gorgeous day. I took pictures and we had coffee by the pond...and on the way back stopped for a proper Sunday lunch where I had treacle tart served by a VERY good looking waiter. (Yes, Anna???LOL)

Alas I had to say goodbye to Anna on the train, and I struck out on my own for a final tourist blitz in the form of an open-top bus tour.


The real way to see London though is to know where you want to go and walk it. I got off at St. Paul's and went inside, caught the bus and got off again at the palace. Then I took my sweet time walking around St. James's Park to the HorseGuards and then, because it was getting dark, I made my way back to Biddy's in time for us to go grab one last meal together. (This pic is at St. James's Park)


I was going to go on the Thames boat tour the next morning before I had to leave, but I woke up to heaving rain and decided against. Instead I spent a morning with the best hostess EVER and whom I cannot thank enough. And I caught a cab, took the train to Heathrow and after 9 very long hours I was home to kisses and hugs and flowers.