Friday, July 27, 2007

What's your weakness?

Ok so I've never 'met' Donna in real life either. I found her on eHarlequin when I signed up back at the end of 2005. Thing is, I'm a shocking lurker - so while I was getting to know Donna, she knew diddly about me. That's the weird thing about forums I guess. I checked in every day and she was there chatting away and so friendly. And I meant to post, I really did but then I'd be called to duty in 'real life' quick smart and never seemed to get around to adding much myself. Back then her alias was Canadian Cook and she always seemed to have just made a fresh batch of muffins...
Anyway, I sold a few months after her and as she was so warm on the boards I didn't feel too shy about contacting her for some advice etc and now Donna is pretty much the person to whom I vent my 'newbie writer angst' - all those things that go through your mind like, OMG its all a fluke and I'll never sell another one; how do I get better at this?; how do I cope with waiting; what if everyone I know hates my book... you know? Terribly pathetic and angsty stuff that you don't really want to share but that Donna totally understands - because she's one step of the way ahead of me...
Anyway, I'm HUGELY grateful to her. Its so good to have someone to talk to who can relate... BTW COME HOME SOON Donna!!!! Needing another vent soon! ;)
Um, so what was I supposed to be writing about? Oh yeah, her old alias got me thinking about something really important... FOOD.
Now I fully admit to being a 'type and chew' person. I write better when my jaw is in action. DREADFUL for the waistline of course! ;) Fortunately when I'm in draft mode I'm happy with chewing gum. Ordinarily, like Willie Wonka, I hate it and hate seeing people chewing gum (just looks kinda rude to me for some reason), but I hide it from the kids and chew on the sly late at night when typing. Better for the waistline I tell myself.
But when faced with revisions or when I'm attemping the final push to the summit of submission (where I'm at right now), chewing gum doesn't cut it. Then I have to have the real thing.
Actually for me, its two things:
1) Cadbury Crunch chocolate - native to New Zealand. Milk chocolate with bits of honey comb - or 'hokey pokey' as we know it - all through it (broken up bits of another NZ bar called Crunchie - I think the Oz equivalent is a thing called Violet Crumble. I'm not sure whether there is something similar in Canada). This is the 'bad' thing - but it isn't really cos I'm sure it gives me the energy I need to stay awake!
2). Cyclops Organic European Style Yoghurt with Raspberry. The richest, creamiest yoghurt topped with a luscious layer of real raspberry puree. So totally divine. And somehow I manage to consume a whole large pottle in one evening's work... and they say on the back of that pack that its FIVE servings??? Never in a million years...
Gimme those two things on the desk beside me and I'll write on and on.
When you're under pressure and wanting to NAIL THE THING (whatever your 'thing' may be) - what do you need to consume vast quantities of? (Please tell me there's something... I'm not alone in this am I??!!)
Looking forward to having you back Donna!
Love Natalie
(MX/Sexy Sensation/Presents Collections newbie)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Celebrations and Parties


Well this is an interesting experience for me. For the past two months I’ve been organising guest bloggers to appear on my blog – pleading with them to come and join me, persuading them to offer prizes, collecting in the posts, putting them up on the blog . . . It’s been great fun – if a little crazy at times. And it’s meant that I’ve hardly had to write a blog at all through June and July. And then Donna invited me to come and be a guest blogger on her blog and suddenly I had to think of something to write about.

Oh – I should have introduced myself – I’m Kate Walker and I write for Harlequin Presents. I’ve never actually met Donna in person, though we’ve been chatting for a long time over on eHarlequin on the message boards there. I ‘knew’ her before her first book was accepted and I was able to cheer and celebrate (in cyber space at least) when H M&B bought Hired by the Cowboy. I even have a copy of the book on my monstrous TBR mountain ( Others might have a To Be Read pile – I have a mountain). I’m taking it to Wales with me next week when I get away from the desk and the computer and the phone for a while and maybe (please!) get a little time to read.

And then I hope to meet Donna herself in person in September when she comes over to London for the Mills & Boon authors’ lunch. I’ll be really looking forward to that event, not just because I’ll be meeting Donna – though that will be very special for me – but also because this M&B party will mark a very special occasion for me. It will be the day that I will be presented with my gold pin - gold for the publication of 50 titles for Harlequin which is the total that I’ve reached this year. This month my book The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge is published in Presents in America and M&B Sexy in Australia (it came out in the UK in M&B Modern last month). And this book is my 50th published title for Harlequin.

And that’s what my Great Big Blog Party has all been about. It’s a way of celebrating this very special book and sharing the fun and the happiness with all my writer friends on the blog and all my readers who can come along and join in too. Donna posted a blog there - back in June when I was just beginning the whole celebration. Back then I hoped I might make 50 guests coming to blog – now I’m still collecting up new guests and the total has gone over the magical 50 mark. I may even have to continue the party into August!

Already I’ve had 43 guests and there are at least 10 more – and every one of them has offered a giveaway prize to anyone who takes the time to leave a comment in response to a question they’ve posted. So if you’ve never visited , why not drop by and say hello and see who’s guesting today. I’d love to see you and you never know, you might win one of those great prizes.

Because a party isn’t a real celebration unless you’re sharing with friends. I’ve been so lucky in this writing career that I’ve had since my very first book was published way back in 1984 and none of it would have been possible without the wonderful readers who’ve stayed with me and bought and enjoyed my books along the way. I still remember just how it felt to get my first acceptance letter (we didn’t get a call in those days – just a long white envelope with a big red rose on it through the mail). And I still feel just the same thrill when I know that a new book has been accepted or is due out in the shops – it always sends a shiver of excitement through me to see my book and my name up there with all the others published that month.


So that’s why I’m celebrating this ‘golden’ book – and why I’m looking forward to meeting Donna in September – we’ll be able to share the celebrations of her first book and my 50th. And that will help my personal celebration extra special knowing that I’ll have a new friend and great new writer sharing it with me.

Can’t wait! And I hope Donna will come back and blog all about it afterwards.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

No, no. That's not right.

Once upon a time...

Nope, not that, either.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Hm.

When Donna asked me to guest blog for her while she was out gallivanting around the countryside, I said, "Sure! Of course I will!" and immediately thought, aw, man...what am I going to write about?

This is performance anxiety, you know.

Because not only am I here to fill some impressive shoes, I'm also supposed to entertain you all.

Tough, I know. Because you're a hip crowd; a discerning crowd. And of course you are, seeing as how you obviously have excellent tastes -- you're reading Donna's blog, aren't you?

But seriously, folks. Entertaining is what we do, isn't it? Writers are entertainers. We're here to tell stories; to (hopefully!) make you laugh, make you cry, (in my case, make you horny... ahem.) -- to take you away from the trials and tribulations of the world around you.

And we all know that in Donna's case, she does one heck (Look! See? Watching language, even! Aren't you impressed, D? ;) ) of a job with that. I don't know about you, but I couldn't put Hired by the Cowboy down. Donna managed to push all my emotional buttons (Yes, I may be a tart, but I am a tart with heart. Heh. Sometimes I even amuse myself...), and I couldn't wait to find out what happened in the story.

Donna provides just what we're looking for, doesn't she? -- an adventure, a fairy tale. And at the bottom of it all, a love story.

She proves to us, once and for all, that even though the night may be dark and stormy, you can bet your boots the sun will shine in the morning.

(And she wonders why I tell her I want to write just like her when I grow up... ;) )

Thanks, Donna, for sharing your talent with the world.

*smooches*

Kris
http://www.krisstarr.com

Monday, July 23, 2007

Promises and Inspirations

Donna is an inspiration to me.

Why? Because she is doing what she dreamed of doing-writing romances.

We grew up in a small community and we were in the same class from grade one to grade nine. I remember Donna promising her classmates she would one day write romances like the ones she brought to school. And now she is!

Donna does not know this, but she also reminded me of my secret promise that I made to my eleven year old self: To write a romance novel and submit it to Harlequin.

Life in the form of university degrees, career, marriage and children made me forget. But the itch is back with a vengeance!

So, where does one learn the Craft of writing romance?

I started with Donna's Construction Zone article on her website. Then went on to the websites of other romance writers I admire and looked at their writing tips.

I renewed my eharlequin membership, joined RomanceDivas and Romance Novel TV. All of these sites have awesome forums to talk to other published and aspiring authors about the craft. And just a note on that: I cannot believe how wonderful the romance community is about sharing and cheering for each other! It is truly amazing!

I bought a TON of romance writing help books, and books on writing in general. I devoured them, and pulled from them information that I was seeking.

I created a blog to document my journey and as a reference for me. Now if I find something profound, I blog it. It saves me from chasing kids, dogs, and husband for missing post it notes. They really appreciate it!

And last but not least, I read Read READ the current books from the line I want to target. I tell my husband it is research and I cannot possibly do his sock laundry until I finish the book. I also use the same excuse while trolling the net for handsome hero pics. Hmmmm. Might need a new excuse. Don't want to wear that one out!! :)

So in closing, a promise is a promise, even if it is to yourself. Therefore dream, put in the hard work required, and never give up. You can achieve your dream.

Thanks Donna! :)

Melissa Leavitt

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Italian's Surprise Proposal - Finished!

Good news....I finished the first draft of THE ITALIAN'S SURPRISE PROPOSAL today!

It's rough, and I know there will be significant work during the second draft, but the bones of it are there for me to mold and shape and make right.

I will say I did enjoy the story despite the trouble it seemed to give me. I think getting to the end and looking back will help clarify a lot of the earlier problems, so that revising it should bring it together much better. I think this one will have a bit of a special place in my heart, though. There is definitely a little bit of magic in it for me.

Starting on Monday, I'm taking a wee break and I've lined up some guest bloggers for your entertainment - from a variety of sources! I have Ellora's Cave author Kris Starr, Presents queen Kate Walker, Modern Extra's newbie Natalie Anderson and Romance's rising star Fiona Harper. I'm going to be spending lots of time reading....which means that depending who I'm talking to, I'm either working or I'm relaxing. :-) Nice how reading fits into both of those categories! Productive relaxation. LOL.

What are you reading this summer?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ALMOST A FAMILY PRINT RELEASE TODAY!


ALMOST A FAMILY is released in print today!


If you're in the US, huzzah! Because you can buy it instore at Borders and perhaps even Barnes and Noble.


If you're not....well, if you're like me you do most of your book shopping online anyway. So you can visit any of the amazons and find it there!


Can a four year old girl, a snowball fight and a six-year-old diamond ring finally keep Molly and Jason together?

Prominent lawyer Molly Schaeffer rearranges her life to return home and take care of her niece after a car accident leaves Molly's sister hospitalized. Little does she know that Jason Elliot, her ex-boyfriend-turned-hot-veterinarian, is her sister's next-door neighbor.

Jason's been burned by Molly before and has no intention of letting it happen again. He's made his own success with a lucrative practice. But what he secretly wants is a family of his own, and he knows that a career woman like Molly is not the sort to give it to him. Since Molly turned down his proposal six years before and left town, he's kept his broken heart under wraps. Can they forgive each other enough to make a new start? Or is this the final goodbye they never really had?


And here's what reviewers have said about ALMOST A FAMILY:

"Ms. Alward adds the fair amount of humor in Almost a Family. I enjoyed the lighthearted moments; I really enjoyed how the playful times could turn to full blown passion so seamlessly. This is my first book by Donna Alward, and I’m intrigued to see what else this talented author has up her sleeves." (Fallen Angels Reviews, 5 Angels)

"Donna Alward has written an emotionally packed tear jerker...She shows that, even though attraction is still sizzling, sometimes chemistry is not enough to secure a future together. The story is sweet and loving and a true winner." (The Romance Studio, 5 Hearts)

"...well written and romantic." (Romance Reviews Today)

"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! " (Romance Junkies, 4.5 Ribbons)

You can read an excerpt HERE.

I hope that's whet your appetite...

And for those of you who haven't entered my July contest yet - send me the names of my two upcoming releases at donna@donnaalward.com and on August 4 I'll be drawing for print copies of ALMOST A FAMILY and MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M, my second Harlequin Romance.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harlequin Romance Authors Blog

The Harlequin Romance authors blog is back online and we've kicked things off with news of Barb's RITA win...so pop over for pics of the cover, the blurb, and a link to a fab excerpt!

The blog will feature spotlights once a month as well as heralding each month's new releases and breaking news.

You can click on the link in my sidebar or you can simply click HERE.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Marriage at Circle M UK paperback cover

I know I shouldn't get so excited over these things, but this showed up on amazon.ca and co.uk today.


The more I see this cover the more I like it, and I really think it's fun to see how the same cover is packaged differently in the UK and Aussie versions. I think the sweep of pink is very romantic.


The Last - and Best - Traditional

Congratulations to Barbara Hannay for winning the Best Traditional Romance at the RITA awards! For those of you who don't know what that is, it's the romance community equivalent of the Oscars, held at the national conference of the Romance Writers of America.

Barb won for her book CLAIMING HIS FAMILY.

Changes to the RITAs also happened this year which means that this win is also the very last one for the Traditional category as it is being discontinued, now to be under, simply, the "contemporary" umbrella.

Congratulations to Barbara! You can find out all about her and her lovely, lovely books on her website at www.barbarahannay.com.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My husband the hero

There are times when I really don't give my dh the credit he deserves for being a great guy. Yeah, he can drive me round the bend, but when push comes to shove, he's pretty great to have around.

Case in point: On Tuesday at Hoover Dam, we decided to cross the dam into Arizona after we did the tour. We stopped at a pull-off spot for pics and I noticed a lady standing by her Ford Explorer, trying to get her spare tire cranked down (as it is stowed beneath the truck).

I mentioned she might need a hand.

Enter the dh. Bear in mind it was 114 degrees that day. He got her spare down, jacked up the truck, changed the tire, put the old one back under the truck and wished her a nice day. (Note: actually I found all the people in Nevada super friendly, and while he was changing the tire at least 2 other guys who had pulled in asked if he needed a hand).

She was very grateful and offered to pay him, which he of course refused. Wiped his hands on a wet-wipe from my handy dandy bag and off we went.

This morning it is hot here...and opening our windows let us immediately know that our neighbours hadn't quite finished the party they'd started at 6 a.m. (which is another long post that I will not subject you to). So we had to close the windows and keep the fans on. We had new windows put in this spring and we were sure our air conditioner and "frame" wouldn't fit the new window. We were right, but it was close. So my very resourceful husband made a few modifications and now I'm typing in air conditioned comfort.

He really is pretty good to have around, you know. And case in point - a buddy just called because he's having car trouble and guess where the dh is??? :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vegas and Newsletter Contest winner!

I'm back from Vegas, and I'm going to post some pics of our trip, but first of all, I want to announce the winner of the newsletter contest! Thanks to all of you who signed up through Bravenet (and I'm going to send out a special bulletin announcing the winner). The winner is subscriber 33, PAM KINSEY! Pam, I need your mailing address....

And your prize is a bookmark from Red Rock Canyon, NV and a Romance by an author who calls Las Vegas "home". :-)

We had a great time...were a little overwhelmed arriving tired while the casino was in full swing. And we were put in a less-than-desirable room. But the next morning things were much more rosy. We had breakfast at IHOP, went for a drive, came back and were given a much nicer room on the 6th floor. The dh had to teach Monday afternoon, so the girls and I hit the pool, and the dh joined us later when he was finished. We also did some shopping in the hotel shops, and we did the "Tournament of Kings" dinner theatre that night, eating with our fingers and enjoying ourselves immensely! Almost made me want to write a medieval romance, especially watching the King of Hungary gallop around the arena on his steed! LOL.

Tuesday we went to the Hoover Dam. It actually didn't look like I expected, but we did take the tour which was really, really great. It was hot, by the way. Triple digits the entire time - I think Monday and Tuesday it hovered somewhere around 110 and 114. Tuesday afternoon we hit the pool again, and after dinner dh had to teach again so the kids and I called it an early night.





Yesterday we checked out and then went to Red Rock Canyon, which was my favourite part. It was less busy than anywhere we'd been. The exhibits were great, I found a book about true Romances of the west, and then we did a short walk, seeing memorials to armed forces members as well as the 9/11 memorial. Then we got in our rental car (and we had a Charger, colour me thrilled) and did the 13 mile loop around the canyon, stopping in the middle for a snack in the shade. It was gorgeous.

And then we shopped. 'Nuff said.

We got back home at 2 a.m. with some tired but happy girls, and we all slept until 9 this morning until the phone woke us up. :-)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sin City

I'm off for a quickie trip to Sin City....Vegas, that is. Not that I intend on sinning much, the kidlets are going along and it's hot as hades there right now. But I do intend to have scads of fun.

I may be able to post at some point, if not I'll be back mid-week next week with an update and hopefully pictures!

'Til then....

D

Friday, July 06, 2007

Interview with Linda Ford

Linda Ford asked if I'd do an interview for her blog after she read HIRED BY THE COWBOY, and I said "Absolutely!" Linda is lovely and funny and she gave a fab talk on mechanics at our spring workshop a few weeks ago.

It is up today at her blog.

http://lindaford.org/wordpress/

Go over, have a read, and make a comment, because I'm giving away a copy of Marriage at Circle M!

Otherwise, man, it was hot here yesterday and we don't have air conditioning. Last night when we went to bed, it was 28 celcius in the house. We are in a bungalow so can't sleep with the windows open - I just don't feel safe! So the fans were going all night and when I got up this morning it was still 27 in the house and 16 and windy outside.

I quickly opened all the windows and it's lovely in here now. Which will last until about noon and then it will be hot again.

Makes me wish I were at the lake RIGHT NOW, yanno?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Banff and Brouhahas

For those of you popping over from my newsletter list....thanks for coming.

I had a bit of a brouhaha with Outlook yesterday and the latest newsletter, namely getting it to actually SEND and even then it did not make it to everyone.

I've now set everything up with Bravenet and I think it's going to work much better. If you're interested in receiving my newsletter, just fill out the subscribe boxes to the right and you're in like flint. (I've already received some notifications, so THANK YOU!)

As an added incentive to those who have been so PATIENT with me...I'm drawing for a prize from the first 50 subscribers. :-)

Now...I meant to post these earlier but somehow the week ran away with me!

On Monday the family drove to Banff. I'd forgotten how heavy the crowds are in the summer time and also Banff Avenue - the main street - is undergoing SERIOUS reconstruction. Even so, it was a beautiful day and I did a little shopping for those lovely people I'll be meeting in September.

I also took some pictures after our picnic, so I thought I'd share some with you.


Cascade Pond - where we had our picnic

Mama and Baby Bighorn Sheep (and I didn't have to even use the zoom, they were that close)


Bow Falls


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July Contest Time!

To coincide with the July Newsletter and also with a website update (which I hope to get to later today), I'm announcing my July contest.

It's summer and so I wanted to make it easy for you. All you need to do is e-mail me at donna@donnaalward.com and tell me the titles of the 2 releases I have upcoming. Easy peasy!

First prize is a copy of ALMOST A FAMILY and another goodie I'll pick up on my summer travels. And seeing as ALMOST A FAMILY is a bit more limited in its release, this is a great chance for you to get your hands on it.

Second prize is an advance copy of MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M.

Good luck! Contest closes on August 4- one month from today!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What's new for July

I will be sending out a newsletter for July within the next few days, but here's what's new for the month from me:

First of all, my second Harlequin Romance MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M is out in hardcover. I love how Mills and Boon have this hardcover program...it's a real thrill when my author copies come.

This is the "sequel" to HIRED BY THE COWBOY...and you can revisit Connor and Alex!


Secrets are hard to keep in a small town...
But Grace Lundquist is determined to hide her pain. Hardworking, pretty and always cheerful, she's the town's sweetheart. Everybody loves her...

Mike Gardner can see right through Grace's act. And, try as she might to keep the strong, gorgeous rancher out of her business, Grace can't douse the spark between them. Except she will never be able to give him the one thing he really needs - a family to call his own.

But all this cowboy wants is Grace in his arms...


Also in July is the print release of ALMOST A FAMILY, my second book with Samhain Publishing! I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I loved the cover...the details are really, really right, and this is the first book that I set in my home province of New Brunswick, Canada.


Can a four year old girl, a snowball fight and a six-year-old diamond ring finally keep Molly and Jason together?

Prominent lawyer Molly Schaeffer rearranges her life to return home and take care of her niece after a car accident leaves Molly’s sister hospitalized. Little does she know that Jason Elliot, her ex-boyfriend-turned-hot-veterinarian, is her sister’s next-door neighbor.

Jason’s been burned by Molly before and has no intention of letting it happen again. He’s made his own success with a lucrative practice. But what he secretly wants is a family of his own, and he knows that a career woman like Molly is not the sort to give it to him. Since Molly turned down his proposal six years before and left town, he’s kept his broken heart under wraps. Can they forgive each other enough to make a new start? Or is this the final goodbye they never really had?
ALMOST A FAMILY is released on July 17th and is sold on Samhain's http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/ , Barnes and Noble, the Amazons, as well as Borders in the US.
MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M is available on July 6th in hardcover from amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk. The paperback release is September 11th.
I'll also be announcing a contest to celebrate the release of Almost a Family very soon, so come back for more info!