Monday, April 30, 2007

Writing A Chick-Lit Mystery

I’m honored to be a guest blogger at Donna’s today. She’s a talented romance writer! I haven’t known her very long, but when she gave me positive feedback on my contest book excerpt, I knew she was cool. LOL I’m impressed she’s published by both Harlequin and Samhain. One of my goals is to get a contract from Harlequin. Then it was great to learn we both like reading books by Debbie Macomber and LaVyrle Spencer. I enjoy reading Donna’s posts, but I’m glad she’s taking a break. Her tendonitis needs a chance to heal.

Okay, here goes.

Do you like reading murder mysteries? Are you able to correctly guess who the murderer is? A lot of readers have told me how they have enjoyed reading A FIERY SECRET, and said they never guessed the murderer. Although it’s been fun to hear who they thought did it and why, I also felt immense relief. Before my chick-lit mystery released, I had negative thoughts that I didn’t do my job well enough writing the mystery part of the book. I was afraid that the readers would guess the murderer too soon. I’m sure my lack of confidence in myself was caused by it being my first attempt at writing a mystery.

The following is what I wanted to accomplish when I wrote this book:

I felt it was important to mislead the reader without actually lying to her or him.

I didn’t want the mystery story to become tedious, so I brought humor to it.

I wanted to keep the readers guessing throughout the book. To have them thinking a lot about the suspects, the character Catherine made a list of people who had reasons to want her friend Max dead. As she learned more facts, she added details to each person’s background and possible motives.

The character I chose to be the murderer had to be believable, but at the same time a bit of a shock to the reader.

To connect with the reader on an emotional level, I didn’t want the mystery of who killed Max to dominate the story. Catherine needed to have more in her life than just investigating. I thought the romantic aspect made Catherine more realistic. Plus I also wanted to write chick lit so decided it’d be fun to combine the two genres.

In the real world, we all have unique personalities and handicaps. The handicaps might be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. I wanted to show the strength of a secondary character with a disability so the character Miranda was born with Down syndrome.


Even though I received favorable responses to my book from readers with requests to write more mysteries, I still was in a panic mode about what the reviewers would say. Here is a little bit from the reviewers’ comments:

“Author Diane Craver has a way with mystery. This enchanting Chick Lit voiced novel will have you suspecting just about everyone when it comes down to just who killed the janitor?” JoAnn Gonger, Gotta Write Network

“Diane Craver sure knows how to write mystery yet add a tinge of romance to it. Diane Craver did a beautiful job with this book and I hope to read more of her books.” Lena C., Fallen Angel Reviews

“...it’s not the classic chick-lit book. It has more depth than that…” Janet Davies, Once Upon A Romance

“A murder mystery and secrets carried for years make this an enjoyable read. The characters grew up together and think they know all about each other, but soon find out that things aren't what they seem. Interesting secondary characters, including Catherine's godson and her mentally challenged friend, and a surprise ending make this a well- rounded story.” Cindy Himler, Romantic Times

Because of what they said, I think I’ll write another Catherine Steel mystery!

If you leave a comment, your name will be entered in a drawing for a free download of A FIERY SECRET. I'll post the winner here in the comments tomorrow morning!

If you’d like to read an excerpt of A FIERY SECRET, go to: http://www.dianecraver.com and a different excerpt is at: http://samhainpublishing.com/excerpt/a-fiery-secret

Thanks and have a terrific Monday!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Dark Side of Donna Alward

Courtesy of Kris Starr

When Donna asked me if I was willing to guest-blog for her while she has her moment of respite, my first thought was, Are you sure about this??

After all, giving an erotica writer such as myself free rein on the blog of a sweet-romance writer is tantamount to sheer insanity, I think. But then again, that's just me.

However, I gave her my solemn vow that I wouldn't discuss anything to do with those sordid weekends in Vegas with those leg-holster-wearing, handcuff-toting US Marshalls, nor would I let slip (in full, vivid detail, no less!) Donna's secret fetish fantasies of Jamie Bamber and industrial-sized vats of Cool Whip--

Er. Oops. Was that out loud? Nevermind. Just ignore that last bit, if you would. :)

Thanks to the Internet, I've had the pleasure of knowing Donna for several years now, but it's really only in the last couple that we've gotten to know each other pretty well -- well enough to ascertain that we are, in fact, actually identical twins who were separated at birth.

No, it's true!

Well, okay. Honestly, we don't look much alike. Nor were we born on the same day. But we are regularly on the exact same wavelength. So if sharing brain cells were ever a proof-positive indicator of a blood relationship, then we'd have it in spades.

Probably the most amusing thing about our in-fact-non-related-relationship, though, is that even though we never approached each other with this intention, we've become occasional critique partners for each other. (See that bit above about what I write and what she writes? Yeah. You've got it.)

Curiously enough -- although it may be true and she simply refuses to admit it to me, out of some delusional sense of self-image and/or a "you can't scare me" mentality -- she doesn't seem to have been shocked by anything she's read so far. I guess this just means I have to try harder.

From my side of things, though, I love reading Donna's stuff. She reminds the buried-deep-down inner romantic in me about the beauty and satisfaction of true love and commitment and that all-important Happily-Ever-After.

Something I think we can all use in our lives.

In between trips to Sin City, of course.

Oh, and by the way, in case you're wondering -- I am the Evil Twin. But Donna definitely gives me a good run for my money.

Love you, D.! :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

From Ireland to Canada With Love...

Donna Alward is lovely you know!
(isn't that how you wanted me to start this Blog Donna??? Cheques in the mail you say?)

She is though. When she IM'd me to ask if I'd like to Blog today I said I'd LOVE to. And not just because I never get invited anywhere anymore...(reclusive-cave-dweller-writer-disease) But because I feel very priviledged to be here and if it means she gets her work-a-holic good wee self a few days off then I'd Blog the whole flipping week. Mind you, that way I'd never get invited back again.

Donna's always but an IM away from a chat or a joke or a picture of a hot potential hero and you kinda gotta love that in a friend you've only ever met through cyberspace...We reclusive cave dwellers value our IM Buddies...

Especially when a reclusive cave dwelling single writer gets asked to write a pregnant heroine book. And that writer doesn't have the first notion what having a baby is like! Apparently wandering around the house with a pillow stuffed up my jumper wasn't giving me enough detail - so Donna very kindly filled me in with all the details. Now - y'know when you sometimes ask a question and you then wish you'd never asked??? Yes, all you mother's out there are smiling about now, aren't you? TMI as my neices would say - too-much-information. Necessary yes. Helped me write a convincing story, I hope. But really - eeeeewwwwww.... (another neices phrase) I still wonder to this day if my heroine isn't as fiesty as she is as a result of my rebelling on her behalf for what she was about to go through. I personally never plan on sitting on a toilet seat again - cos that's how it happens, right? Hey - I'm a good Irish girl - My mother told me that! So it must be true...

So I thought I'd bring you some pics of the part of the story I was comfortable with. Horses. And these are all extra special pics just for Donna - to say thanks (no really - thanks hun - even if you did have sooo much fun telling me I couldn't up the sexual tension that soon after the birth!) -'cos these pics, never before seen a-la-internet, are all personal pics. Yes - that is teeny me holding the great big scary horse. And yes - that's me again wearing my 'concentrating face' as I send my horse over the jump that was waaayyy bigger than I'd hoped it would be - and last but not least we have my very beautiful Charlie - the one true love of my life. Who, if he'd been a man, I'd have married and lived happily ever after with. He listens to me waffle on for hours and never interrupts, he takes me out on treks to let me think through a book plot when I get stuck, he lets me cuddle him when I'm in need of some lovin' and every once in a while he does something just so incredibly cheeky that I can't help but laugh, even if I'm feeling low. And he's just soooooo handsome. Well, when he's clean he is. Perfect male. Just two legs too many.

So Rescued: Mother-To-Be (which is on the shelves now - plug-plug-plug) is a bit of a joint effort. Donna helped me with the ikky pregnancy stuff and I added all the lovely horsie details. We're one heck of a team really! And I hope we'll be friends for a long, long time!

So Donna-ettes - have you made any special friends like mine through the internet? No - not that kind of special friend - a romance community buddy. Cos aren't they just the friendliest crowd on the net??? I tell ya what - I'll even pick one of you to send a copy of Rescued to, how's that sound???

And if you're currently sitting at your computer screen thinking 'Who is this insane woman?' then you can pop by My Website or come join my usual place of insanity at My Blog.

Thanks for the invite Donna! And if you're reading this you better be operating the mouse with your nose! You're supposed to be RESTING!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Michelle Styles: Finding validation

Donna has allowed me to take over her blog today!!!

So I am going to speak about critique partners and the need to have them.

It is a very personal thing to have a critique partner but I wouldn't be without mine. Both of my partners see my work at an early raw stage. First Donna and then Sue after I have worked on the piece. They read it and give their honest opinion.Even if I don't like what they say all the time, I trust their eye. Often I am too close. Sometimes, what I think stinks, doesn't and at others, things need to be changed. CPs are great because they want me and my work to succeed, but they are also not afraid to pull their punches. I truly believe by having my work critiqued, I have fewer revisions from my editor. I also know that if I have skipped over a place where my cps have said -- this doesn't work, nine times out of ten, my editor will also --say have another look at this. They are my validation squad. My biggest cheerleaders, my supporters but they also demand my best. They do not let me get away with half measures.

Neither of my critique partners writes historicals, but they both do write romance so they know the form without being the competition as it were. I think this is a key as well.

As Twyla Tharp says in her excellent book, The Creative Habit to build a validation -- you need people you admire, people who happen to be your friends, people without agenda and most important people who have hammered your work before so you know they are capable of honesty (brutal if needs be). The criticism that matters the most is the honest kind that comes with no agenda from someone who cares enough to be objective but still wants the best.

I found my critique partners through e-harlequin. I had been through several as I knew I was too close to my work, but for a variety of reasons, we parted company. Sometimes, you have to do that -- shake up your validation squad. Luckily my partners are settled at the moment. The way you begin is by exchanging work -- can you respect the other person's opinion? Can you see what she is trying to say? And can you see how to change your work to make it stronger? Does the way she works make sense to you? Luckily it did and it worked for us.

It is much easier for me as my cps know what the business is like. They understand its ups and downs. And most importantly they believe in me as I believe in them. I know that they have helped me make my writing what it is today.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday, Monday

Oh, what a morning. It started with me stepping on the scale. Let's not go there.

We have a brand new pc, which is great, but which created lots of problems for me this morning. First of all, I needed to print something very large from Adobe...only with the change over we no longer had Adobe reader. I went to download it and something went hinky and it took me half an hour of precious time to get a download done and working.

So I start printing. Things are zooming along and...

Spontaneous reboot.

Get things back on track, only to have printing suddenly go all smudgy and icky. This is not a good thing. I want to have this document in the mail this morning along with other things all done up and ready for the post office. I try cleaning the cartridges. Try aligning them. Nada. Smudge city.

I took the girls to school, incredibly frustrated. No joy after that either so I left it a while and had a brainstorm. I hadn't put the settings to grayscale...perhaps it was the colour cartridge acting up since I had printed an e-mail just fine. Voila! Printing restarted.

Now, however, I can't find my favorites file...I know it's on the pc somewhere...and I'm having to remember passwords all over the place this morning.

Things are looking up though. I got an envelope of promo items for my booksigning in the mail, I talked to the bookstore and confirmed everything, sent an interview I did over the weekend, and then...tried to update my webpage and it's not working. My frontpage files are changed. Publish the site...font issues and my changes are not there. I'm hoping it's just a server issue.

I did have the onerous job of googling photos this a.m. and what did I find but the very picture I wanted for my earlier post on Leg Holsters.
There's a shot in the opening credits of THE UNIT that shows them walking across the tarmac that's even better, but this one will surely do. As Jonas would say..."How 'bout that."

I'm off for a week, hopefully although I'm checking in occasionally...gonna have to check in and see what my guest bloggers are up to....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hooray!

I posted earlier and lost the whole thing, for some reason, so in short:

I have a contest open to newsletter subscribers only...so if you haven't signed up, do so now at donna@donnaalward.com and put NEWSLETTER in the subject line. I'll send you the edition that went out earlier this month so you can get the details to enter - I'll be drawing May 1.

May 1 is also the draw date for the Mother's Day/Debutante Contest that I'm holding with Michelle Willingham and Natalie Anderson. Visit our sites, find the names of our heroes, e-mail one of us and cross your fingers, because the grand prize is a wonderful collection of our books as well as pampering prizes! And the runner up gets copies of the books.

AND.....drum roll please....I've finished the first draft of FALLING FOR THE MARSHAL. It's rough and it's about to wing its way to my critique partner, but I finished it and at this rate may even get the crit comments cleared up before the outlaws arrive on Tuesday.

Now...I'm off to make soup for supper and I just realized I need to get my butt in gear if I'm going to get it done on time...and then it's bubble bath and wine night for me!

Silver Linings

I've had a weird week...mostly just getting really tired and things piling up to the point where I need a calendar to keep it all straight. I had a minor meltdown this morning, then went to the dr to find out I have tendonitis in my elbow....yes, I've apparently been working too hard.

We're on course to get me fixed up...and I am taking a week off starting on Tuesday, but that means I have to work this weekend and I have a lot of little things to get tied up...in short, I'm a bit overwhelmed.

But tonight before tackling THE END of the WIP, a friend IM'd me to say Congrats. Congrats for what, I replied.

I had no idea, but THE GIRL MOST LIKELY was nominated for Best First E-book for 2006 at Cataromance.


A lovely surprise, and as I said on one of the loops - the first thing I've ever been nominated for that wasn't a job no one wanted. LOL. I didn't win, but the fact that SOMEONE thought it was good enough to be included in the best of the year's debuts....that's good enough for me. :-)

Then...I checked in on e-harlequin. I've been a member of subcare since I started writing seriously in 2001. I was thrilled when people said they'd ordered HIRED BY THE COWBOY from e-harl's site (or the M&B site). But hearing them say nice things about it...it does my heart good. Thank you to old friends...Penn, Jana, and Carol, and new friends Georgie and Tamelia who've been so supportive and absolutely lovely.

It just proves to me that it's all worth it, even during weeks like this when I feel wrung out.

Now...I'll be back on Monday, and then next week I have some fun stuff lined up...guest bloggers to entertain while I'm taking a break. I have no idea what they are going to blog about, but I KNOW it'll be stimulating!

D

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Il Divo!

Last night, despite the weather going for a crap, I went to Il Divo's concert! I've been waiting what seems like an age to see them live!

Well, there was a lot of good and a bit of meh, so here we go.

First of all, the opening guy is a pianist and he's great, but he's the same dude that opened for Josh Groban 2 years ago and much of the material was the same. So I was a little disappointed not to be hearing something new. Then...it took FOREVER for the concert to really get underway. Over half an hour between opening act and main event.

Complaint number one....why bother having a jumbotron in the stadium if you're not going to use it? For the first bit, there was nothing. There was a fabulous orchestra, some lighting and the boys in the middle of a rather sparsely set stage. I'd forgotten binoculars so not having any big-screen visual was really disappointing. We later assumed this was a technical problem because after several songs in, suddenly a screen came to life behind them. Only 1/3 of it was blocked by the big-ass speakers, but still we were so glad to have it that was a minor detail.

Complaint number 2...they had 5 cameras going...it appeared one for each of the guys and one near the orchestra, but dude I do a better job with my videocamera and NO tripod. A little disappointing, really. So let's just say the Visual Entertainment backdrop portion was a little lacking.

But you know, all this was made up for by the great music. Have to say that Carlos and Sebastian have the best live voices....Carlos damn near flawless. David had some upper register issues a couple of times and Urs went pitchy a bit...but hey, that's live. I wouldn't mind dancing with Sebastian, as he wiggled very nicely during "Un Vida Sin Amor" and they played a lot of favorites. Lots from their first and second albums.

All in all it was worth braving the weather, traffic and crowds. And once they got the cameras working...let's just say I STILL love Urs, he still has SKL and...oh...heck, he's just YUM. Enough that I'm posting a pic and he may be renewed hero material for future books.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Embrace change - A P.S. to the Construction Zone

I'm heading into the ending of the WIP and I sent chapter 11 to my cp. She had an issue with the timing and suggested a small tweak.

I knew things weren't quite right, and I was okay with whatever she would send back as I know her suggestions make for better books. In Marriage at Circle M, she suggested a different setting for the ending and it worked wonderfully. Other than the first three chapters, I think I probably revise endings more than any other part. So I was prepared for her e-mail.

It wasn't so long ago that the thought of restructuring the last few chapters and changing the ending would have thrown me into a panic. But let's remember that the goal is to write a solid book. The best book I can. If that means retooling parts, then so be it. Her "small tweak" started a germ of an idea which will translate into the last three chapters being changed significantly.

WHAT is going to happen isn't changing much. The plan is still the same. But HOW it all enfolds, the timing and the pacing...that's going to get played with. I need to write down a sequence of events for the final 24 hours so I have it all clear and then I can start shuffling things around and adding as I need to. I can see the book getting tighter already and this excites me. No panic.

This might also be happening because I don't have a firm deadline. Although I DO want to get this done this week. I really don't want to take a week off and have to come back and write ONE chapter. And I'm supposed to go on a field trip tomorrow although the forecast is heavy snow and it's at the bird sanctuary, so maybe it will be postponed.

Regardless, I can work on the weekend and on Monday.

Anyway the whole point of this post is not to get too attached to your words. Words can be replaced. Just because you created them doesn't mean they deserve to stay...not if there is a better way. Have an open mind, look for the BEST way to do things and then do it. And maybe even do it again...it's worth it in the end.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Every Writer Should Listen to THIS

My CP got this from someone else and passed the link on via her blog.

What a wonderful program on the relationship between publishers, editors and authors and how they work together.

The link is HERE.

I think every writer, published and aspiring, should listen to this. They discuss buying authors, revisions and cover art...Thanks Michelle for turning me on to it. I wish I had it on cd.

Hired By The Cowboy - Review from The Romance Studio


The review for Hired By The Cowboy is up on The Romance Studio site today. It got 4 hearts and the reviewer said, "She has excelled in yet another teary eyed, tension-filled and surprising book. I recommend it highly."

You can read the entire review here.

My good friend Jana read it as well and gave a lovely review on her e-harlequin 10,000 book challenge blog. And I didn't even have to pay her to say those nice things!

Now...back to the salt mines for me. Because time is running short and I really do want to finish this first draft before Monday.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Interview at Once Upon A Romance

I recently did an interview with Connie at Once Upon A Romance. First of all, Connie runs this site herself and does a fantastic job. And I also have to say that I was so impressed with her questions. She has been lovely to talk to from the word go.

The interview went live today, and you can link to it HERE.

Happy Monday!

A couple of nice things happened to me already today. First of all I got my very first feedback on Hired By The Cowboy that was NOT from my Critique partner. LOL. She mentioned how real the characters were which pleased me to no end. Then I learned that on Amazon HBTC has been paired up with Liz Fielding. That's a bit surreal to me as I consider Liz not only a friend but a mentor and in a whole different league. :-)

But I am feeling much more workish. LOL our renovations are complete, with just some cleaning jobs left for me (cupboards and such for spring cleaning). I have a lovely workspace now, I love it love it love it. I'm posting some pics. I'm still in the "dining room" but I have a great new desk and book case so I actually have a place for the books I refer to often. I have a second down in the basement that is loaded with books as well, but this is my "work shelf".





Catch you on the flip side.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hodge Podge

This and that is the topic of the day.

Happy Birthday to Julie Cohen! I popped by her myspace and it's shameful how many birthday messages that girl has! I bet she was one of the popular girls in high school....lol.

I have a new desk sitting in my living room. Tonight we'll clean out the old one and put the new one in place. I'm ecstatic. It is huge and a lovely cherry finish. I may even venture out to Costco to buy a new chair. The thing that makes me happiest is that I'll be able to get rid of the ugly grey metal filing cabinet. :-)

I think I'm developing an RSI in my right elbow. I don't want to let it go, so I'll probably visit the doc sometime in the next week. I'm looking at taking some time off soon anyway as company is arriving for a week of fun, so perhaps that will help.

And, happy Friday the 13th! I find the day lucky after a fashion. On another note, the day always reminds me of my early teens and the horror movies. Four of us, 2 guys and 2 girls, used to get together in Trev's basement and watch them. His mom would make snacks and we'd get scared together.

One time in particular my friend and I arrived a little late and we settled down to watch...one of the guys hadn't come, or so we thought. During the movie, when Jason popped out with a knife, the other guy leapt out of the shadows wearing the mask...we screamed and freaked and laughed our asses off.

Good times, good times...

And about leg holsters...while dh and I were waiting for Grey's to come on last night, we watched part of Dallas SWAT. I'm nothing if not consistent. They got ready to go out, buddy buckled on his thigh holster and I got very girly. Not to mention in THE UNIT episode where I predicted dialogue, was right and said Hoo Rah. DH just rolled his eyes.

Ok this is me stopping rambing and getting breakfast. Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Leg Holsters and .45's

I've just spent a half hour getting completely frustrated looking for pictures. Because there is a shot, well several, actually, in THE UNIT's series premiere featuring Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert) in a long sleeve tee, jeans, and a leg holster.

This is HOT. I mean hot to the point of distraction.

Not only that, but how did I miss it before...at the end of the show Bob (Scott Foley) comes home, also in jeans and with the holster on his thigh.

I don't know what it is about leg holsters. And it's not any leg holster. They show spectacularly well with jeans. I don't know what it is about military/law enforcement men that turns my crank either, but it's definitely turned.

My current hero is a US Marshal and my last was a sniper with the Canadian special forces. I don't know exactly what it is, but a man, in uniform, prepared to put his life on the line...someone who knows what needs to be done. Someone who protects the innocent.

Then there's the firepower. Maybe it's not PC but that cold steel in the right hands - mmm, mmm, mmmm. My marshal source says they are his prized possession...anything from his 9 mm to his .45.

He also sent me a pic of himself in tactical gear. Guess what got my attention first?

Yup. Jeans and that big ol' holster gripping his thigh.

It's adolescent and silly and very shortly in the WIP, the hero will "come out" and the heroine will see him for the first time in gear. When I watched "First Responders", that UNIT episode last night, I knew that Nate had to come out with a leg holster on.

I'm attaching a pic of Jonas in camo and a holster. It's the best I could find, and I'm not going to post a pic of my research source because I'm not sure he'd be comfortable with that and besides his buddies would bust his chops big time. So this pic will have to do.




Now - in the comments - tell me what tv heroes you like and what is it about them that makes them special?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Retirement Plans

The family was driving in the truck yesterday and the kids began discussing what they wanted to do when they grow up. Seeing as we went to Orlando last year, they would like to move to Florida. My eldest thinks she would like to be a writer. Which I think is great, but I asked her what she was going to do for a day job until she got established. Her solution was to work at Disneyworld or Seaworld. LOL. Then my youngest piped up that she'd like to own a cafe. I thought that was a pretty cool idea for a 6 yr old. LOL. Apparently when I'm retired I can come work for her and make peach and blueberry tarts.

But the best part was what she said to her sister.

"When you work at Disneyworld you can come to my cafe and I'll make you an ice cream sundae and a peanut butter sandwich."

Ah, out of the mouths of babes.

Just plugging away on the WIP today. I should listen to my CP. I asked her about POV for the new chapter, she gave her input and I didn't listen. However I switched POV about 4 pages in and realized she was right, it should have been in the heroine's all along. So I'll be fixing that this morning and moving on. :-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Glamorous Life of an Author

Over the last week, we've been doing minor renovations.

When I say minor, I mean that we didn't tear out any walls or anything. We did, however, have some adventures and misadventures.

Let me start by saying that for anyone who thinks authors have some sort of glamorous lifestyle, you did not see me walking into Home Depot on a Saturday evening in paint and grease stained scrubs, a hoodie I've had since 1990, and messy hair shoved into a ponytail. I'm sure the two guys that helped me with my ceramic tile dilemma/debacle thought I was out to lunch - rather, I was just at the end of my rope. And they were rather nice and demonstrated that there really are some nice people left in the world (thanks guys!).

It all started with "your new windows are coming". The husband had to take off a row of tile around the bathroom window and also fix some drywall at the bottom of the living room windows. The living room went fairly smoothly. However one row of tile didn't come off too well as he'd glued the hell out of it when he'd replaced the wall a few years ago. This time chunks of drywall came off, so a list was procured including new tile, a sheet of drywall, grout and sealer.

He had 50 tiles left from the last time so got half the wall done, opened the new box and discovered they were a quarter inch smaller than the others. So off to Rona I go, to pick up a new box. Got the box home and we discover that THIS tile is 2 mm thinner than the original. Back I go again....only to be told THEY CANNOT MATCH IT. So I went to Home Depot and met the two lovely men who probably thought me crazy.

I bought the wrong GFI and lightswitch too. Got that rectified. Painted trim and chair rail on the weekend.

The bathroom window went in, as did the kitchen and dining room window. Yee haw!

Then Monday came the living room windows. It had turned cold - and snowy. Not only that but the installers had to "build up" the window since the new was smaller than the old (we got the longest they made). But they had to build it up much more than expected, and had to drywall. I took one look at it, knew my husband would blow a gasket, and issued a cease and desist order! They cut the trim and left it, and the husband did a fabulous, if LONG job of crackfilling and sanding several coats and painting the wall for the second time - a coat of primer and THREE COATS of paint. We also painted the bathroom and put up the chair rail, and gave the other living room, office and hall walls a fresh coat of paint - the same colour, but a lovely pick-me-up. He also went to grout in the bathroom and realized he'd bought MAPLE coloured grout! Back to Rona I went...again....

In the kitchen, dh ground out the old grout and regrouted the backsplash, and we painted it. Also took off all the closet doors and painted them too.

Finally, by Saturday night at 11, we had it done and started putting things back together. It is nice to have the house back although I'm exhausted, and there are still several small jobs to be done. THe good news is, once I make it through the list, I will have spring cleaning done with the exception of the bedrooms. Hooray!

I also had church three times over Holy Week, the kids are off on Spring Break for this week as well as last, and yesterday we went out of town for a lovely Easter Dinner with friends.

I added over 2k to the WIP today, and I'm incredibly happy with that. All things considered!

FINALLY, I can't sign off without offering HUGE congrats to fellow romance authors Trish Wylie, Ally Blake, Natasha Oakley and Shirley Jump who all finalled in the HOLT award. WTG girls!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING and a FAB review for ALMOST A FAMILY!

I'm insanely pleased to announce that Harlequin has bought a third romance, entitled THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING and due out in March of 2008!

I struggled and agonized over this book, fought with my characters at times and with myself at others. THe one thing that kept me going was knowing it would be worth it in the end. Thanks to my editor's help this book got whipped into shape into what I wanted it to be all along...now here's hoping the readers agree.

Coffee Time Romance has reviewed Almost a Family and I could hug the reviewer, Cherokee, for her generous words!

"Almost a Family is one of those feel good stories that hook the reader and leaves an unforgettable emotional sensation to the heart. The characters of Molly, Jason, even Kim and little Sara are exceptionally well cast. The past and present relationship that spins around Jason and Molly makes the reader get a better knowledge of the situation at hand. Ms. Alward weaves an extraordinary story that leaves the reader wonderfully satisfied. This poignant tale is so believably real, even down to Kim’s car accident that the characters almost leap from this wonderful read that garnishes a 5-cup rating. "

You can read the whole review HERE.
I'm off to grab some breakfast, celebrate a wee bit, and get my newsletter whipped into shape so I can send it out ASAP!


And don't forget to enter the contest!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Virtual Model

Oh dear. Jenna over at the PHS started this and now I'm hooked.

I can see what I look like I guess...although my bits seem a bit more wibbly than my virtual self. The first picture is of me now. The second is of me at my goal weight. Sigh. Even at my goal weight, I'm not that slim...but I know what my frame is like. And honestly smoothing out some bits right now is the main priority.

I like how I can change my hair colour though and go shopping for clothes for myself! LOL




Happy Birthday, Harrison

My mom called me yesterday to tell me about a birthday.

Harry Gilbey, a lovely man from "home", turns 89 today.

I gave Harry a call, because I couldn't resist the chance to wish him a happy day OR to tease him just a little bit. Harry's kind of a special dude. I first met him when I was a kid, and his granddaughter and I were friends. I never called him Mr. Gilbey or even Harry, as most know him. To me he was always Harrison, usually said with a cheeky grin and a twinkle in my eye.

Harry is tall, handsome, and with the most beautiful, thick white hair on earth. One summer many years ago, I'm guessing somewhere around the time I got married, we ended up at "the store" together. (It is a small community, if you needed anything from gas to birthday cards, you went to "the store" which was actually Brewer's General Store.) Harry made the comment that behind every man....

And I finished with "is a woman who picks up his ass when he falls down."

He laughed a lot, and never forgot it.

When I was home last summer, he gave me a hug at church and said I got prettier every time he saw me. I'm pretty sure I blushed.

We had a lovely chat a few minutes ago and he admitted he only feels 65, maybe 66. Harry lives the "age is just a number" theory - he's still sharp as a tack and thirsty to learn.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Harrison, have a wonderful day with your family, and next time I'm home I'm expecting a big hug.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Debutante Contest!


It's April, which means launch month for HIRED BY THE COWBOY is only a month away! To celebrate, three "debutantes" have joined forces for a FABULOUS contest!

Michelle Willingham's first Harlequin Historical HER IRISH WARRIOR debuts in May, as well as Natalie Anderson's Modern Extra, ALL NIGHT WITH THE BOSS, and of course, myself with the Romance, HIRED BY THE COWBOY.

Here's what to do. Visit our websites and find the names of our HEROES. Then send an e-mail to any of us with all three names, your name and address. Easy peasy.

We'll be combining the entries and doing a draw on May 1!

Here's what you win: Grand Prize: A signed copy of each book, as well as goodies from our specific corners of the world. The grand prize winner will get a taste of western Canada, the eastern US and New Zealand!

Runner up receives a signed copy of our books.