Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interview with Natashya Wilson

There's an interview with SRS editor Natashya Wilson today on Isabel Swift's blog. I found it quite interesting, and the following made me smile from ear to ear.

When asked about movie watching, she admitted she does not like a sad ending: "I know I miss many wonderful, beautiful stories, but the world is full of sad things, and for my entertainment, I want to come away sighing with happiness. "

Isn't that, after all, why we read and write Romance novels? I couldn't have said it better.

I'm Free!

Today is freedom day here at casa de Alward.

Firstly and most importantly, my cast is GONE. This means a few things. Number one, I was able to have a shower and wash my arm and wash my hair with 2 hands last night. And I was also able to put on a watch. Two things I haven't done since the 22 of December.

It also means though that my hand is stiff and yes, sore, and I have to work it but be careful as far as range of motion and the like. It also means it's not going to stand up to as much typing as I've been doing, so output will be slower until I get it built back up again.

And the second thing happening today is that I'm sending in my revisions after one final readthrough. And hopefully it means that I'm clear with this book until AA's.

WHOOO!

For now I'm off to tackle laundry, and yes, stay warm. It was STILL -29 when I got up this morning. Thankfully it looks like it's going to warm up a bit before the end of the day - somewhere around the -15 mark according to the weatherman.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday...

What to write about today? I figure I should as I haven't blogged since last Thursday.

Well, let's see. Friday I got groceries in the morning and then in the afternoon I had a dr. apppointment...one that required stitches and meds and antibiotics and left me with a bit of a headache, so it was nice to get home and realize that the dh had supper under control and that he'd suggested all of us watch The Fellowship of the Ring. My girls are a bit young yet but as they handle the Harry Potter movies without batting an eyelash, we thought we'd try it and they loved it.

Saturday morning we ran a few errands, cleaned the house, and then watched The Two Towers.

And of course yesterday after church, we came home and had lunch and put on The Return of the King. Lots of couch potato-ing going on, but it was very cool. And yesterday was definitely the perfect day for it - we ended up with a bit of a blizzard. Not a lot of snow but the wind was horrible so quite a bit of drifting, and it went from -6 when we got up to -26 when we went to bed. Brrrr. Got up this morning and it was -29 with a windchill of -48. And yet...still school. I think it's funny that the outlying schools cancel, when those kids are bussed, but the city school remain open even though the majority of the kids walk. No one should be out walking in -48.

The block heater in the truck ended up failing, so I had to take the dh to work this morning so I would still have a car to take the kids to school. There is no way I would make them walk. And I think it's stupid to have school because anything taught today will have to be re-taught tomorrow. Lots of parents don't have the option of driving their kids, so attendance will be awful today.

Anyway I'm back to revisions and getting caught up after the weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Drive By....

My revisions arrived yesterday, in a very quick turnaround, and I have a few dr appts that are going to sideline me for a few days, so today's post is going to be short....my apologies.

*good news is though the revisions aren't that heavy so I'm happy*

ANYHOO....I thought I'd just issue a couple of quick reminders.

First of all, there's a week left for you to drop me an e-mail to enter my January contest. Send me a note at donna@donnaalward.com for this month's prize.

There's also a week left to enter the contest over at the HRA blog. Melissa James is giving away this month's release so don't miss your chance.

And don't forget to visit www.harlequinspecialtreat.com for their Valentine's freebies, etc.

Voting is still ongoing at Cataromance to pick your favourite books of the year.

In case I don't make it on the pc this weekend, I'm also going to take this opportunity to say happy early birthday to my friend and CP, Michelle Styles. *waves*

Ok...back to the salt mines.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's all in the details

Sometimes it's the little things that really make a book come alive.


Last spring we had a yard sale at the church and there, on a table, was a shoebox with some navy shoes inside. When I looked closer I realized there was something written on the box..."1930". I asked about them and it was confirmed that these were vintage shoes. They did not fit my feet, but there was something about them. I paid the 10 dollars and put them in my bag because I knew there was a story in the shoes.

Then I wrote The Italian's Surprise Proposal, and then I wrote a proposal for another book, and still no story for the shoes.

But then my editor called me and asked for another cowboy and ideas started coming. Suddenly I had a cowboy and a reluctant princess and a pair of vintage shoes.

Of course the story isn't focused around the shoes, but I do think they are a lovely detail - a thread that adds to the depth of the story. And that's what details do. They give you depth. My sister always e-mails me after reading one of my books and tells me her favourite part and often it's in the details. In Marriage at Circle M it was the daisies. I hadn't even planned on that being a thread in the initial stages. But then...it all came together. In The Cowboy's Princess (the book I just handed in), I also have a song that is meaningful and provides continuity.

One of the best examples I can think of in something I read recently is Trish Wylie's RETURN OF THE REBEL (Released in March by Presents in NA as At The Billionaire's Bidding) and the heroine's penchant for smart ass t-shirts. They weren't just thrown in...they added to the story. I loved those details.

The details are what makes a story memorable, and takes it from a good story to something special and great.

What books have you read lately, and what details stick in your mind making that book special?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reel Review

So I got to thinking, as I'm such a fan of alliteration, that if I have a "Book Blog" perhaps I should also have a "Reel Review" for the films that I watch this year.

I watched 2 yesterday - Shrek The Third with the kids, which was good and had lots of laughs, but the storyline wasn't as solid as the first 2 I don't think. Still...the antics are enough to make it a lot of fun.

But what I really want to talk to you about is The Last Legion.


I had no idea this film even existed, and wonder if it was limited release because I certainly didn't see any ads or hear any hype. I was merely going through the video store and saw it and said, Hey, wait a sec. Colin Firth in Roman garb on a quest to Britannia - I'm SO there!

I saw some reviews of it today that were horrible, and I don't care. I liked it. I am assuming great liberties were taken with history and even legend and again....I don't care. I was entertained. Some complained that Firth was miscast, but I for one enjoyed it because it made Aurelius more than beefcake (Hah, I used "Firth" and "beefcake" in the same sentence!). I also puzzled my way along trying to remember where I'd seen Demetrius and was 2/3 of the way through before I realized it was Rupert Friend. I don't particularly find him that attractive but he was here and then I realized maybe he just had to grow up a bit. I thought he was horribly miscast as Wickham in P&P, but he was great as Demetrius. And Ben Kingsley was Merlin, and he was fantastic as always. I love Ben Kingsley.

Thomas Sangster (Love Actually, Finding Neverland, Nanny McPhee) plays a very young Romulus. And we can't forget John Hannah as a Roman Senator and Kevin McKidd as a villain - a very hairy, mean villian which is quite different from his character in ROME.

Do I think this movie was riding the popularity of ROME? Possibly, though it was partially based on a book that obviously was written earlier. And was it up to ROME standards? Hardly, but then, HBO had 10 hours for season one alone. Oranges and Apples.

What it comes down to is the fact that I enjoyed it and would watch it again.

Ok...now I'm off to work!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This just in...

I was at Kris Starr's blog today and she announced that HIRED BY THE COWBOY has been nominated for Book of the Year at Cataromance!

Wow!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Book Blog #4 and RNA Shortlists


Natalie and I debuted the same month and FINALLY her book is here in NA! I grabbed it last week and finished it last night - it was my treat for finishing my ms!

This is one hot book. Natalie set up very real conflicts and motivations but the chemistry was wa wa wow! A couple of scenes especially stick in my mind - like the stairwell scene. Phew!

Though I kept waiting for the sex in the office. :-(

I kept thinking how amazing it was that Natalie did the revisions on this one after having just delivered twins and in hospital. I'm not sure I would have felt very sexy at that point! And did I mention this book is HOT?

Will I buy Nat's next? You bet! Even my husband approves...his words were, "God Bless Her!"


The RNA Shortlist for the Romance Prize was announced yesterday. I'm thrilled to say the nominees are:
Fiona Harper- with 2! Her Parenthood Assignment and English Lord, Ordinary Lady (Romance)
Lucy Gordon - The Mediterranean Rebel's Bride (Romance)
Liz Fielding - The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella (Romance)
Julie Cohen - Driving Him Wild (Modern Heat)
Kate Hardy - Breakfast at Giovanni's (Modern Heat)


All Mills and Boon books and FOUR from the Romance line! Love it! Congratulations girls!


I am celebrating as I've sent The Cowboy's Princess to my editor. Today is odd-jobs day where I get to do all the little things that have been piling up or are upcoming so I can start a new project very soon. Look for a brand new word count meter by February 1st!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

News and Blogging


I got a google alert that Marriage at Circle M is on sale in India. I went to the site to look and sure enough, there's the price in the proper currency! It is still in English, and I did know that Mills and Boon were expanding their market in India since we got the news in London in September. But I hadn't really considered that one of my books would be there so soon.

Today is all about tidying up this book so I can send it to my editor ASAP - she's been more than patient! But before I go do that, I'm blogging over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today and I hope you'll pop over and have a gander - and maybe a laugh - at my post.

Now I'm off...wish me luck...the editing cave can be a dark and eerie place!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A HUGE day at Cataromance!

Today is a huge day at Cataromance! First of all, the Reviewer's Choice Award winners were announced.

Colour me shocked - MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M is a winner!

I was so thrilled to see so many of my buddies listed! I'm going to have a go at congratulating and apologies for missing anyone!

January - June

Jennie Adams for MEMO:MARRY ME in Romance!
Liz Fielding for THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA in M&B Romance!
Nicola Marsh for TWO WEEK MISTRESS, Modern Extra (Now Modern Heat)!

July - December

Ally Blake - MILLIONAIRE TO THE RESCUE, Romance!
Melissa James - HER OUTBACK KNIGHT, Romance!
India Grey - THE ITALIAN'S DEFIANT MISTRESS - M&B Modern!
Trish Wylie - BRIDE OF THE EMERALD ISLE - M&B Romance!

A complete list of all the winners is HERE.




As well, now it's time for the readers to have their say! Voting starts on the site today, and there are several categories, including the best book for each line, etc. Just go to http://www.cataromance.com/ and hopefully follow the links!


Of course I had two Romances out this year, so if you liked either or both of them, you can always.....




Ok...positively shameless plug is over. Carry on! (and vote)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fairy Dust!

I'm not sure if it's the imposed break my wrist gave me, or the musical inspiration that's been inundating me lately, or simply a combination of planets being aligned or what. And I have yet to hear what my CP says about it all....but THE COWBOY'S PRINCESS is DONE.

I'm a little staggered.

January 2, I got back to work. I sat down with pen and paper as there was no way I could type as you well know. And with the OCR software I was managing a respectable 1k a day...and I didn't work at all last weekend.

But then on the 9th I got my new cast and my fingers and wrist were standing up to things quite well and I got the go ahead to work if I wanted. And not to over do it. And so I upped my word count to a more respectable 2k.

But then, I hit a couple of songs that spoke to me and scenes started coming, all the more frustrating because I couldn't type them fast enough. I was really starting to get into this. And this weekend was simply crazy.

I ended up at nearly 54k somehow, went through several tissues and hit what I hope are several emotional buttons.

And tonight, as I was writing the last chapter, the heroine said a line that changed everything. I LOVE it when that happens. It caused me to go back and change a few details. And it also caused me to download a version of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". I played it, and bawled my eyes out.

I'm not sure why I'm becoming such a sucker for the old songs. The initial inspiration for the book was the Tennessee Waltz. The copy I had was from a scratchy old LP that they re-recorded just as is, static and all. And when I heard the words, "I was dancing, with my darling, to the Tennessee Waltz..." I just knew. Maybe it's the simple truth in them that just resonates with me, I don't know. But they are honest. And I think sometimes the greatest things come from simple honesty. Just think of it...Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you....Let me hear you whisper that you love me too....Keep the love light glowing in your eyes so true...Let me call you sweetheart...I'm in love with you.... MAGIC I tell you!

But perhaps the reason why this book has been sprinkled with fairy dust is because the whole idea came from one of the simplest, yet most romantic moments of my life. When my husband and I danced beneath the stars last summer, with the music of the barn dance behind us and our children asleep in the camper beside us. I put Lucy and Brody there and it just BECAME.

Whatever the reason, I'm happy, and I'm drained, and I really should go to bed as tomorrow is a school day.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A nomination!

Ah, January. That time when sites and groups give out awards and you spend each day wondering if perhaps you really sucked THAT MUCH that you won't be nominated for anything. LOL. And you say to yourself that it's okay because look at how many terrific books you read last year, not to mention the ones you didn't read.

So when a sliver of information comes your way that somebody liked your stuff, it's my feeling that you should instantly celebrate it as it may never come your way again.

All About Romance has their interim results up for their Reader Awards and some kind heart nominated me for Best Debut Author! (whoever you are, the cheque's in the mail)

The fabulous Natasha Oakley also got a nomination for Best Category Romance for Crowned: An Ordinary Girl, and Vivi Anna's fab couple from Dark Lies (yes, the book I just finished yesterday!) was nominated for best couple, as well as Dark Lies being nominated in Best Romance and Best Category Romance!

I have it on reliable authority that if you don't get enough votes you get a little slash through your name as the field is narrowed.

So if you liked what I did last year and want to vote for me, pop over here and cast your vote using the button on the bottom of the screen. And save me from being slashed.

Book Blog 3- Dark Lies by Vivi Anna

I've had this book on my tbr pile longer than I should have, after all I adored the first book in the Nocturne Valorian trilogy, Blood Secrets. I finally settled down to read Dark Lies this week and wasn't disappointed.

What dark secret was she hiding?
When the Otherworld Crime Unit reconvenes to investigate a ritualistic murder, werewolf Jace Jericho can barely set aside his past—and his hatred of humanity—to work with the team's newest member. As far as Jace is concerned, police rookie Tala Channing has two strikes against her: one, she's human, and two, something about her drives him wild with desire.—

Forced to work side by side with Tala, deep into the witching hours, Jace struggles to keep his primal instincts in check. But when they finally succumb to wild passion, Jace realizes Tala has spun a web of lies. And Tala's secret now puts his life—and heart—on the line.—

Vivi is a master at world building. You absolutely believe in where she takes you and who she takes you there with. When I was asked yesterday what kind of stories they are because "werewolves and vampires are samey" I instantly replied that the focus of this story is really on the forensics and how to solve the crimes. And it is - a lot like CSI but with people with cool extra-sensory talents to help them along.

I also think the way she's kept one singular crime threaded throughout both books and now into a third (out later this year I think) is brilliant. There's some partial conclusion so you are somewhat satisfied plot-wise at the end, but we know that the mastermind behind it all is still out there. And the romance plot is always tied up nicely.

Paranormal is not my usual cup of tea, but if it's Vivi I'll buy it anyway.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A sudden flash

I write to music quite often and usually have a playlist going for each book, songs that seem to capture the feeling of what I'm writing or just cd's that I find very conducive - like Josh Groban, RyanDan, that sort of thing. And then occasionally I get a song that just FITS and I know I have to have it.

My husband got a satellite radio for Christmas and we listen to it ALL the time - in the house and in the car. Commercial free - what's not to love? And another feature I love is tagging artists we like and being alerted when something they play is on.

One song I'd heard a couple of times was "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts, and so when we wanted to download some tracks from Puretracks the other night, I popped it in the cart.

And then we played it, and a scene hit me so hard and so brilliantly that I wanted to get writing so I could get that close to the end.

I was writing like mad last night and just wanted to keep going, but there are physical limitations at work here. LOL. I may go back to writing out longhand just because I won't have to worry about the wrist and can save it for fixing OCR errors and layering. Either way, I'm coming into the homestretch and this song has a whole lot to do with it.

Ironically enough, it's an old version of The Tennessee Waltz that really got me going on this book, not something modern at all but very old fashioned. It makes an appearance very soon.

For now I'm going to make french toast for my kids and take them shopping as I promised, then come home and get to work. Until then I leave you with I WISH by Rascal Flatts. Just click on it and it will take you to the file so you can hear it.

My Wish.wma

A quick note

Ok so I get the go ahead to work. All is hunky dory.


Except my brain is writing cheques my body can't cash - the story is SCREAMING in my mind and my wrist can't keep up.

Oh well. Over 2 k today and it needs a rest, so it shall get its rest so I can go on to write another day. I will be back over the weekend to talk about how the breakthrough in inspiration came about.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HALLELUJAH!

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!!!

Just a quick flyby post to say that I've been to the doc and have brilliant news! I have a new blue cast that's smaller, tighter and the nurse molded it to fit so I can type!

I did get the all clear to work and it feels SO much better just having the new one and its support. I just have to be careful not to over work it.

And I go back in 3 weeks to have it off. Huzzah!

On the flip side, I managed to a) lock my keys in the car at the post office and b) forget we have a CAA membership, and walked to my friends where I finally got ahold of my husband. He will not let me live this down for a LOOOOONG time.

This and That (otherwise known as bits and bobs)

Just a few reminders today....

Send e-mail to donna@donnaalward.com to enter my January contest. Seriously. Send it now.

Eharlequin's community has a new look and I love it! It's very cool and fun to navigate once you get a handle on it. I especially like how you can participate in the book challenge as there is a running counter. And you can save your favourite threads. Very cool. Each member has their own blog...well just go over and see for yourself.

And Harlequin has launched a site for Valentine's Day! Go to www.harlequinspecialtreat.com for on-line reads, fun and games, a fun valentine to send to friends and family, access to the annual Romance Report and more. I've been and it's quite neat actually!

I'm off for today, I have a chapter back from my CP to tidy up, and she's sending me her own chapters, and then I'm off to the hospital for xrays and in all likelihood a brand new cast. My daughters are debating which colour I'll have. LOL.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Contest Info

Today the new SPOTLIGHT IN SIX is up at the Harlequin Romance Author blog. Melissa James is the featured author and in keeping with Centenary celebrations, she's generously offered a signed copy of MOTHER IN A MILLION as a prize. Pop on over and enter.

In addition to the paperback of THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING that I'm giving away, and the calendar magnet (which, incidentally, I am really happy with), I'm sending this month's winner a postcard with a 1914 Mills and Boon cover on it.


I got this information from the National Gallery site.
Arthur Applin: Novelist and playwright. At the age of 22 Applin went to train with the Ben Greet Shakespeare Company. He appeared in plays including in Black Tulip and Sweet Nell of Drury and as well as producing plays including Gerhart Hauptmann's Hannele. Applin's novels and plays such as Rags (1913), London Love (1926) and murder-mystery The Death Mask (1931) were hugely popular but were often criticised by the intellectual elite. A Life of Admiral Jellicoe (1914) won praise and his Philandering Angler (1948) is described as 'one of the few angling books that women might find essential reading.'

Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Blog 2 - Wicked Pleasures

My fab CP sent me a copy of Christmas by Candlelight which contained her story, A Christmas Wedding Wager, and Wicked Pleasures, by Helen Dickson. This weekend I finished up Dickson's story - if fact I hated to put it down to do the necessary chores!

I love historicals, and this was a fabulous story that wasn't quite your typical regency....I don't think I've ever read one with a heroine so independent...and her friends are the same way...in fact, I desperately want to read Lettie's story as I'm sure there will be one.

Here's the cover and blurb. It ends my holiday themed reading. And both these stories are very worth having, so don't be afraid to give amazon a workout.

At Westwood Hall this Christmas there are wicked schemes afoot which bring dark, dashing Grant Leighton and the threat of scandal into the life of innocent, young Adeline Osbourne...

Betrothed against her will Adeline had been resigned to a loveless marriage. Can the festive season work its magic and lead to pleasures Adeline thought impossible?

In other news, I found out that The Soldier's Homecoming is being released in Australia and New Zealand in April.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Book Blog: A Christmas to Remember

Before I launch into the book blog, I found this when I logged in.

The fact that I'm listed next to Danielle Steel and Jo Barrett made me giddy. Just seeing it, mind you. I'm apparently easily thrilled.

And the covers for The Soldier's Homecoming have appeared on amazon I noticed.

I'm also at the PHS today talking about Film on Friday and Jane Eyre.
So...on to the first book blog!


I have been reading lots since injuring myself and on Jan 1 curled up on the couch with my first ever Betty Neels, A Christmas to Remember.

I know, I know. How is it that someone writing for Harlequin Romance has never read Betty Neels? Her books still sell like hotcakes years after their release. I actually found this one at a church yard sale and grabbed it. It is a 2-in-1 - featuring her stories The Mistletoe Kiss and Roses for Christmas.

The Mistletoe Kiss: Emmy Foster works patiently as a receptionist in London's St. Luke's Hospital, and can't imagine why handsome but arrogant Professor Ruerd ter Mennolt would take an interest in a country mouse like her. But when the professor invites her to his home in Holland for Christmas, Emmy can't deny the spark that blossoms between them. . .

Roses For Christmas:Eleanor hasn't seen her childhood neighbor Fulk Van Hensum for twenty years, but she still remembers what a horrid boy he'd been. . .and it takes only two minutes to discover he's grown into an equally horrid man. Even if he is handsome. . .and the new doctor at a hospital where she's a nurse! He hasn't changed a bit-so why can't Eleanor stop thinking about him?

Both stories are, from what I gather, typical Neels : rich Dutch hero and capable, independent nurse heroines. The first was written in the late 90's, the latter in the seventies, where really only language like "groovy" and "super" gave it away. Both were lovely, old fashioned stories and only in the good sense. Lots of narrative but executed in such a way it pulls you along.

They are of course, non-explicit but there is one passage that made me laugh and marvel at its brilliance. Eleanor has been kissed by brother and then the hero. She says that Henry (the brother) had kissed with childish enthusiasm, "but Fulk's technique had been perfect; moreover the enthusiasm hadn't been lacking, either."

Lovely.

All told I did see what the fuss about Betty Neels was about and will definitely read any more that come my way.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What's coming up for 2008 - and the first contest of the year


There are lots of big plans for 2008!

I have 2 Romances out this year. The first is in March and is called The Soldier's Homecoming. I'm really excited for this book to hit the shelves, and later I'll be talking more about writing it and how it was formed....because it really was a book that grew rather than being written.

Then in August the 3rd of the "Windover" books is out called Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous. It is the story of Maggie and Nate. Maggie is the cousin of Mike, the hero from Marriage at Circle M. She runs a bed and breakfast and Nate is a US Marshal.

2008 is also a big year for Mills and Boon (the London office of Harlequin still goes by company name of Mills and Boon). M&B is celebrating its centenary and there are lots of special things happening, both within the company and with the authors.
In particular, the Romance authors at the HRA Blog are giving away a release each month, so don't forget to pop by the blog regularly. First up I believe is Melissa James's January release, Mother in a Million. Her post will be up early next week and I'll post a reminder on the day.
Each month I'll have a small contest. The prizes will change, but one thing that will be included each time is a commemorative postcard featuring a Mills and Boon cover from the past.
My paperbacks have just arrived, so this month's contest prize is...a signed copy of The Soldier's Homecoming, a postcard, and a 2008 magnetic calendar.
Drop me a line at donna@donnaalward.com and I'll do a draw at the end of the month. This month you get off easily - no question to answer, but throughout the year I'll also be posting factoids about M&B that may find their way into questions!
Tomorrow I will be posting my first "Book Blog".

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Feature for the New Year

I have decided on a new feature on the blog for the New Year. In 2007, I participated in the 10,000 Book Challenge on Eharlequin with an author team. I really enjoyed it so I thought I'd do something similar on my blog. (By the way, I don't know the official results of that challenge yet, but it should be interesting!)


I can't promise it will be an every week kind of thing, but I do intend to blog about what I'm reading. I'm just finishing up a book now - this wrist thing means I've read lots over the last week or so - but this will be my first official read of the New Year.


Also I'll be back tomorrow with news about what else special is happening this year... but this might give you an idea....