Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mmmmmmmmmm

This is a quickie post as we're in the midst of a holiday weekend here (although I AM taking out some time to work).

Mmmmmmmm is for the peach/mango crystal lite slurpee I had today. It was SOOOOO good and guilt free.

Nothing else new, just enjoying the fine weather and bbq and possibly a picnic before the long weekend is over.

Happy Canada Day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thursday catch-up

I am not even going to go into my day because you'll either get depressed or think I'm a raving lunatic, and neither of those are good things.

I will say the evening is looking much more promising. As I said to a friend, It's only one day. Tomorrow is another one.

The good news is my mum is home from the hospital and quite chipper. Her only restriction is "don't mow your lawn". The woman has a HUGE lot, it takes her all day between the ride-on and the push mower to trim up, so my nephew is taking up the challenge.

One of the things I need to do is put some sort of order into my house. When my house is in chaos I am too. It doesn't have to be spic and span and perfect, but it needs to look like something other than a tornado has blown through.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Review for ALMOST A FAMILY

Thanks to fellow author Diane Craver, I got this new review today for ALMOST A FAMILY at www.mybookcravings.com.

Sherry gave it five roses and said this:

"Ms. Alward has written a very emotion packed story that will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning as you wait anxiously for the happy ending. "

The whole review is HERE.

My mum had surgery today, but she's doing well and on the mend.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Workshop Virgin no more!

It may come as a surprise to many of you but with the exception of a writer's week I did in University (which seems like a lifetime ago), I have never attended a workshop.

Until today.

My local RWA chapter - CaRWA - had their first annual Summer Solstice Workshop today.

I had such a great time. Good food, great fun, and talking with other writers all day long...people who just GET IT when it comes to what you're doing. One thing I love about my chapter is that it doesn't matter WHAT level your writing is at or where you are on in your journey to publication...everyone has this great camaraderie.

We had 2 workshop sessions - the first by Love Inspired author Carolyne Aarsen on Characters. This was really in depth and a different angle on character development which I thought was fabulous. My stories are so character driven...so this is my territory. EVERYTHING comes from my characters and I took half my notes on the development and the other half jotting down ideas and layers for my characters in my current WIP. Hooray!

After a great lunch, Linda Ford, also a Love Inspired author, gave a talk on Mechanics (no, not the guys that fix your car). I found particularly enlightening the section on scene and sequel and hope that my pacing and tightness will reflect it.

We had an author panel after that, which was a hoot as we were asked questions about the business side of publishing. In particular, when we were asked about cover art Carolyne and I cracked up. Looked at each other and lost it again. Let's face it, there's great covers and then there's not and most of the time we don't have a lot to say about it. If you want to see a funny post about cover art, visit Trish Wylie's latest post.

We finished up with a visualisation from our resident guru Jan Mitchell and after the last of the prizes were handed out, did a quick tidy and headed on our way.

It was a great day, a wonderful experience and I can hardly wait for the next one!

Friday, June 22, 2007

WIP Update...

Have started chapter seven.

It sucks rocks.

:-)

(A p.s. added 6 hours later: I think what I wanted to do was correct, but I started it in the wrong spot and the wrong POV. See? Always another way. Just wish I didn't feel like I'd wasted that time, though.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fixing what's wrong

I got three chapters back from my CP and it took me two mornings and some cutting and adding to get them right, but they are done and they are SO much stronger IMO.

My word count only went up 1k, but that's okay considering how much I deleted. LOL.

And you know, I didn't panic. There were good things...and the things that were good were solid, backbone things. Good characters, good scenes that were in the right place. Because of that, it was really just going back and fixing the places where I'd faltered.

I'd introduced a complication at her suggestion but I did, in her words, try to smash a nut with a sledgehammer. So I pulled back on the complication, so that it has the same effect without overpowering the romance. I was also missing some opportunities for developing the relationship. This is sort of funny, actually, because i have a tendency to rush into that too fast rather than hold back too much. So I've injected some sexual tension into it in the form of internal thoughts, light touches, and a lovely pot of creme brulee.

Changing the impetus behind the subplot was the toughest, as I had to take out those references and replace them with an equally strong motivation.

All in all the reason for this post is just to hammer home a point. Sometimes where you're going isn't wrong, there just might be a better route to get there. And it's no big deal to take a detour! In the end it makes the journey that much better. :-)

Tomorrow: at a friend's request, we shall have more eye candy. Oh, the agony. :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I dream, therefore I cast!


While you are all still thinking I'm a bit nutty, here's what's happened since last night's dream.


I realized that the next book I want to write, the sequel to the WIP, is actually Hugh as Dante. Dante doesn't make an appearance in the WIP, though he does get a mention as the hero's best friend.


Dante is incorrigible, has known Gina since she was a little girl, they totally have a love-hate relationship, and he's also loyal, strong, and totally hot in boxer briefs.

He'd also do just about anything for her, but she doesn't know that. And I'm saving him, though he's already got a pretty good start in the character development in my mind stage.

But the hero's sister DOES make an appearance in the WIP, and I had an image of her in my mind though I couldn't put my finger on it. But in remembering Hugh's character EDDIE in Someone Like You (very much like Dante), I IMDB'd the movie.

And found THIS.

In my WIP, the sister is classy, with long nearly black hair and her face is dominated by huge brown eyes. She's a little spunky, a bit of a meddler and has a clear sense of style. She's used to getting her own way yet has such a well-meaning heart it's difficult for anyone to refuse her.


So...now my casting is complete for a new book, and I'm only half way through this one first!

Sometimes I wish I could just fast forward, you know? LOL

As an aside, I think I'll rent Someone Like You just so I can see Hugh and Ashley Judd do the following:
"Is that a hickey on your neck?"
"No. I bit myself shaving."
That cracks me up EVERY single time.



A good reason to eat before bed (silly post)

I have a friend who routinely hates me because I have really, really great dreams.


Dreams so good that it pays to have a snack before beddy-bye, you know? LOL Last night wasn't even anything bad for me, I had a yogurt and an apple around 9 -and went to bed at 11.


In these dreams I have guest stars. It is where some of my casting comes about for my books, to be honest. Last week it was an old "friend" - Max Martini in his role as Mack on THE UNIT. And I was in full gear and on his assault team. (Yeah, I know, weird, but man it was FUN).


Last night was a new star though. Last night I was introduced by my mother (and I know why she was in the dream, but won't go into that) to HUGH JACKMAN. In my dreams I also love how I'm me but such a much nicer physical version of me. Last night I had hair like Emmy Rossum in Phantom and I had a great body in a dress that was reminiscent of Anne Hathaway's at the ball in The Princess Diaries.


Also in my dream Hugh was the greatest kisser on the planet. I'll never test that theory out, but, like in fiction, sometimes the dream is more magical than the reality.


If my husband is reading this, this is also a good indication that it's time for your business trip to be OVER. (snicker)


Monday, June 18, 2007

Someone just made my day

It's a crazy morning, and time is at a premium but someone just made my day.

I had to go to the post office this morning. Now I am there a lot these days, mostly sending out books for review or prizes. So the lady at the 7-11 which is the closest postal outlet was curious a while back and I told her what was in all those envelopes.

She was very cute and asked for the name of my book. I gave her a business card and put the title on the back.

When I went in this morning she jumped right in with "I read your book and loved it!"

She'd been in Edmonton, found it there and bought it. She seemed so genuinely pleased and laughed and said, "I told people I know this author!"

It totally made my day, even if I did have to come home with one of my parcels because the postal code for this town is an utter mystery.

No time to waste - must dash.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I shake my head a lot

You know, it's not often I use my blog as a personal soapbox but now and then I simply get cheesed, yanno?

There is an appalling lack of common courtesy these days. And perhaps I simply wasn't built for city living, but to my mind you cannot escape the fact that houses are only inches apart. I think there is 2 feet between my side doorstep and my next door neighbour's. Logically it goes to follow that any noise will carry.

I am not sure if any adults were home there this weekend, but I know for sure there were kids running in and out up to and after when I went to bed (which was at midnight). And the kids there would be lucky to have "teen" in their ages, I would put most at late elementary school age/early junior high.

This morning when I went out, there were boards broken off and missing from their back gate not to mention windows left wide open and it was pouring down rain.

The entire property is in a horrible state of disrepair. I don't think there is a single screen left in any of the windows, the front bay window is actually broken, the backyard is littered with crap and all in all it's simply been abused. Which is a crying shame, because before these tenants moved in, the organization that owns the property spent at least two months renovating it, making it look lovely again.

So I shake my head a lot when I see the complete lack of pride, respect and courtesy. Feel a sense of futility when I put my kids to bed for a good night's sleep and they can't sleep because of the shouting and banging. Of mowing my grass when their yard hasn't been mowed for over three years and is a dandelion farm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Fab Review for ALMOST A FAMILY!

Well, here's a nice bit of news that perked up my day. :-)


My review for ALMOST A FAMILY went live at Romance Junkies. This is great timing as the print release is actually almost exactly one month away! I have to admit to being a little surprised (in a good way) at how this book has been received....the reviews have been wonderful. Which makes me happy, of course, but more so because it's my first published book that I set in the area where I grew up.


The reviewer says, "Donna Alward does a fantastic job of leading her readers on a wonderful journey of the heart. This is a delightful story that is endearing, sizzling, but oh so refreshing as a glass of cold lemonade on a summer day! "

And I have to add a personal bit she put in my e-mail:

"You write withsuch conviction that your words are deeply felt. The story stayed with me long after I finished the last page. "

How much does that thrill me? Isn't that what every writer hopes for? (Happy sigh)
You can read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Middles and why they drive me crazy

I have finished the partial of The Italian's Surprise Proposal and a draft of chapter four. I'm actually pretty happy with the partial at this point.

But I wrote half of chapter four yesterday and realized very quickly that I'd goofed.

You know the key is the why. Motivations, people. And I find it doesn't matter how much I do character sheets before hand, I might know the big motivations but when it comes to scenes, it's different. It's the little why's.

I had my characters gallivant off to a picnic. Sure, great for developing the romance. But oops...where's the conflict other than she doesn't WANT a romance? So these questions pop up...why would he ask her on a picnic? Why would she accept? And bingo, we need a set up scene to make sense of it all. What does he hope to achieve? What does she? And oddly enough, they both want the same thing. Only what they want and what they get are going to be very different. Oh, they'll think they've achieved it for a little bit. But not for long.

My CP came up with a good idea that I'm going to incorporate very soon, which will take this tiny bit of status quo and blow it up.

But really, it's not about just what motivates your characters but the little motivations, the layers of what they want and what they don't, all mixed together with their inner conflicts and then the external pressures - the situation that they're in - weighing on them. And that's what the middle of the book is for and it's one of the absolute hardest things for me to do which is why middles drive me bonkers. It's better when you get to the last 10-15 k and you can start blowing up worlds and putting things together for the HEA.

Of course when I get to that part, I'll likely blog about why I hate writing happy endings. LOL




Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Duel

A few years ago I bought the complete Horatio Hornblower series on DVD. LOVE IT. It was where I first discovered Jamie Bamber and Ioan Gruffudd, not to mention Robert Lindsay and a supporting cast that is just fantastic.

However, somehow episode 1 - The Duel - got broken. Literally, the dvd got cracked. And so I've watched other episodes but not the one that started it all. But it was hard to find just that particular episode, especially in the correct region.

I found it a few weeks ago on e-bay and the price was right, so I bought it. Hooray! It arrived yesterday.

On the spur of the moment, the dh suggested we go to Cochrane for ice cream after dinner. We were gone a couple of hours, which meant the girls were late getting to bed. But it was a lovely lovely drive and I said to him that I think I'm going to have to set a book there at some point. Perhaps my next cowboy? But once the kidlets were in bed, I sparked up the dvd player and settled in.

I love this series, I love the characters and most of all, because there are eight movies in all, I love watching the character arcs. For me, Archie's is a more intriguing arc, even moreso than Horatio's, and that's not just because he's played by JB.

So I'm going to post a few pics because I'm so happy my boxed set is together again.




And then I'm going to go fix chapter three. I seriously do not know what I'd do without my CP.






Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We Need a Little Fun

I just noticed there's hardly been a picture or a fun post for a while, so I think it's time. Possibly for a little hero worship. And it might just be that I'm inspired by Mistress T's 30 BT's in 30 Days over on e-harlequin, but whatever. It's not like I seriously need an excuse.
So without further ado, some of my very favorite hero pics....how about one for every Romance I've done? (and I'll throw in an extra because he's going to be an upcoming hero.)

Connor Madsen (Jason Behr) HIRED BY THE COWBOY









Mike Gardner (Max Martini) MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M

Jonas Kirkpatrick (Scott Foley) THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING
















Nate Griffith (Greg Vaughn) working title FALLING FOR THE MARSHAL

Luca Fiori (Maksim from Dancing with the Stars) working title THE ITALIAN'S SURPRISE PROPOSAL















AND a future hero as yet to be named (though I know which book he's destined for): Tahmoh Penikett (Who plays Helo on BSG)
Of course...the list wouldn't be complete without my absolute favorite:
















There, now I'm suitably inspired to go to work. (Happy sigh).

Monday, June 11, 2007

BUPA test

Ok, so I did this. Figured I was a blue triangle. Turns out I'm a pink square, but that's okay. For the most part this is pretty true of me.


The results suggest you are a Pink Square.When asked to name their shape squares are often reluctant to select the square as their symbol. However, they invariably recognise themselves in the description of a square.Squares like order; they are organised, logical, analytical and task-orientated. You have a high degree of perfectionism, but you are also sure-footed and self-confident. When you are given a job to do you will always see it through to its conclusion.As your shape suggests, you are straightforward and honest; you can be trusted both at work and at play. You are loyal and dependable, and always a committed friend and partner. You probably find that people come to you for help, particularly on a practical rather than an emotional level.Squares tend to be left-brained, tactical thinkers. You make notes and lists, but often get bogged down by too much information and this hampers your ability to make decisions. In life, you are invariably striving towards something quite specific and you might have more fun if you could manage a bit more spontaneity. Try taking a few risks and make some spur of the moment decisions. You could be surprised how much fun you’ll have – particularly if your partner is a triangle or a squiggle.Your colour is pink. Traditionally the colour of femininity, pink denotes a sensitive, caring side to your personality and really gives a softer edge to the square personality. Even if you don’t always show it, you are deeply caring and – even if you don’t normally let it show – you can be very sensual. This spills over into your attitude to your health and wellbeing; you make sure you stay well so that you are there for those around you.Celebrity squares include Daniel Craig, Victoria Beckham, Prince Charles, Philip Schofield and Richard Madeley.

Why I love doing what I do

I watched a couple of chick flicks on the weekend - Must Love Dogs and Sweet Home Alabama.

I was really reminded of why I'm doing what I am. Writing short, romantic fiction.

You know, there are times I get tired of people who put down Romance as a genre and dismiss it as unsophisticated and utter frivolity. Perhaps we should be reading something more provocative, more high-brow, more educated. And that's great, if that's what you like. But there is room for romance.

In my mind category romance is very similar to Romantic Comedies/chick flicks, especially in the way they are structured. And why not reach that HEA? Why not feel that little bit of hope in the end? The world is depressing enough.

And then last night before Sweet Home Alabama, a professor gave a blurb about the role of romance in the industry and "Stereomythical" characters. He made a fabulous point that the characters in these movies are "types". The ugly duckling, the computer geek, the cocky boss...whatever. Think about it...characters and hooks. Yes'm, just the same as in category romance. And he went on to say that these types of stories have existed for thousands of years, modified by the times but at the core the same story, making them MYTH. Therefore the characters become "Stereomythical". Cool, huh? That even sounds...er...educated.

But the main reason I love it is because it's simple, and clear. And there is nothing wrong with that. God, life is so much of a rat race that you can't throw a stone without hitting someone who longs for a simpler life, less stress, more back to basics. A story of one man, one woman, both searching for something spectacular, and going through trials to get it. And then a satisfactory ending. It reduces things to the common denominator - our need to be loved and validated. Or, as said in SHALL WE DANCE...a witness to our lives. Away from stress and the rat race and so yes, a bit of escapism.

I love what I do, I love how it makes me feel and I hope that my readers feel the same way.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lunch and a new look!

As you can see, I have a new look on the blog and also on my website!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HUGE thanks to old school friend Melissa who designed it for me and had it up and going in 48 hours! I can't believe she found apple blossoms and lilacs...my 2 absolute favorites!!!!!!!!! (So in case I haven't said it already, thanks Melissa!).

I went out to lunch on Thursday and had a lovely time with Supers author CJ Carmichael, Desire author Barbara Dunlop (Who is a RITA finalist this year!) and a few other members from our local RWA chapter (waves at Suzanne, Vicki and Astrid). I didn't get any pictures...we were too busy chatting...but it was so much fun, I hope we get to do it again whenever Barb is in town.

And yesterday was the zoo field trip which was so much fun.

Today I finally got a handle on all the jobs needing done around the house. It's clean, the laundry is clean, my flower bed is weed free, the dh washed windows and mowed the lawn, and the new bbq is put together and the garage is empty of recyclable material. I'm so glad, because with all that out of the way, the road is clear to FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS on the WIP next week!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

LoveLetter Magazine and Odds and Ends

Here's a bit of a cool thing... this month I've an interview in LoveLetter Magazine in Germany.

I've e-mailed to see if I can get a copy...but basically it was a "newcomer" interview.

Today I'm finishing up my copy edits, attempting to finish cleaning my house (I got most of it done yesterday) and then I'm off to lunch...hopefully I'll post pictures tomorrow.

And keep your eyes peeled...very soon my webpage, blog and newsletter are going to have a new look and I'm SO excited! An old friend from home offered to revamp me and she's done an incredible job IMO...and we're just about ready to go live...gosh maybe I'll have to have a contest to celebrate...I'll have a think on that....

Other than that, life is just ticking along. And I must offer congrats to my CP Michelle Styles on her brand new 4 book contract with M&B Historicals. :-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Little Bit of Squee!

First of all, I was on amazon today and found this:

HIRED BY THE COWBOY, Translated

No cover yet, but I had no idea so that's so exciting!

Then, the September covers are up at Barnes and Noble...you can see Marriage at Circle M in NA cover format here:

Marriage at Circle M

Yay!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ok, so here's a bright spot

Remember the library talk from last week?

It made the local Sundre paper.

Here's the link...it's short and sweet so go take a gander at the picture.

http://www.sundreroundup.ca/news1.html

Oy

Hanging out on Kate's blog yesterday was a blast, and talking cowboys is always fun. But now it's back to the drudgery.

My copy edits for The Soldier's Homecoming arrived yesterday, in the craziest of crazy weeks. I'm not sure how this keeps happening, you know. I should take about four hours and clean my house and iron and mend (because yes, I do do those things, only the stack of mending has been sitting a month without me touching it, just stares at me balefully). But I'm not, I'm going to critique three chapters for my cp and get to those edits, dammit. And if it doesn't rain today I'm watering my flower bed tonight and I am making dinner.

Yesterday an additional kink was thrown in when my daughter announced she had a birthday party right after school. She was lucky I had to get groceries, because I picked up a present and card and paper and had it ready for her at dismissal. I wouldn't normally do that, I'd say it was too short notice and suck it up. Kind, I know. She had the invitation on Friday but forgot to bring it home.

And later this week I have some things going on which eats away at the time, so spending time online should not be an option. I find myself here just because facing that huge to-do list is daunting and this way I can stay in denial just a little longer.

But...enough is enough. If I don't surface by Friday, you know what to do (Hot mounties, for you new readers).

Monday, June 04, 2007

Calling all Cowboy Lovers!

The lovely, incredible Kate Walker has started off her 50th BOOK BLOG CELEBRATIONS and yes I capitalized that on purpose - 50 books! I'm the guest blogger today and it's your chance to win a copy of Hired By The Cowboy (which goes off NA shelves tomorrow, and is now out in Aus/NZ). Pop on over to her BLOG for your chance to weigh in and WIN! and to help Kate celebrate this great milestone.

Then, all week long, we have an event on e-harlequin...about boys your father warned you about. If you've read Hired By The Cowboy, if it's on your tbr pile, or if you just want to come over and talk hot cowboy traits....the link is HERE. I don't want to be over there rhapsodizing alone, so come on over and join in the fun!

And for newsletter subscribers...check your inboxes later today!