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 you get this? or am I completely out to lunch?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


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 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.


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


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 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 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 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.


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 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!