Friday, May 30, 2008
You can pop over and see all the sneaky tricks to spending a week in a truck with children. *shudders*
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The thing about branding in my opinion is that it's all about reader expectation. If you look at branding in general, it's about providing a certain type of product to a certain kind of consumer. I write books. When a reader picks up one of my books, he or she automatically has an expectation of what that book will be like. When they see my branding, they will have an idea of what they are getting. So someone looking for the kind of book I write will perhaps buy one of my books because of the type of read, and not because I'm the author. Once I lure that reader in, hopefully the writing will please them enough that they come back for more.
Some of that "branding" is done for me. I write for Harlequin, so you know you're getting a short romance. I write for the Romance line, so you also know you're getting an emotional, non-explicit read. I do not like to call them sweet reads. I have had readers describe my books as having tenderness and sweetness in them, but they've also called them gritty and gutsy. They are however always with an emotional core and always on the lighter side of sexual explicitness. My readers know that even if my characters do have sex, it will not be described in detail. And I think we'll leave that topic for another post, because I have some thoughts on that as well.
So what happens if suddenly I didn't write for Romance anymore? What would change? Would my branding stay the same?
And this is the interesting part, for me. I think branding should be tied less to CONTENT and more to VOICE and STYLE. If I write short contemporary romance, or if I moved to writing historical romance, or I decided to write single title women's fiction, my writing would still be MINE. There would be things about it that would never be changed. There would be parts of my writing VOICE that would, one would hope, keep my readers with me even if I crossed subgenres.
I know that no matter WHAT I write, I will always have emotional romances that make you feel good at the end. And so that has become MY branding...on my website, and my siglines, on my promo items. Emotional, Feel-Good Romance. It might not be a marketing breakthrough, but it is ME. That is what my readers will expect and it is, I hope, what I deliver. I know I strive to at any rate.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Until everything is settled, hooked up and plugged in, my internet usage is going to be sporadic. The blog will be quieter than usual but not silent, I actually have a few things lined up as well as the fact that I will have wireless during the transition so you never know when I'll pop in with something to say.
For right now though, I'm racing towards the end. IN the last few days I've written about 8,000 words. Not a pace I can maintain, but I strike while the iron is hot. This book is, I think, the most dramatic I've written to date. It is proving to be a bit draining, but I'm liking it a lot. And if I can get this first draft wrapped up, then I can edit it after we're settled, and let those few weeks provide some much-needed distance and objectivity.
Right then. Time to switch the laundry and open up a new document for chapter 10.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
It's a page turner. I loved Jane. I loved Jonny. There was one point where I was ready for the identity confusion to be over, but once it was, it was cracking. There conflict of the characters was really tight and layered in perfectly. And the hot stuff....was good and hot. :-)
Great job Julie....now I think there's only one of your Modern Extras I haven't read. I'm definitely going to have to remedy that.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The foreword is by Tom Hanks and is truly lovely, and the epilogue is by Robin Laing and Frank John Hughes - the actors that played Babe and Bill in the series. Again, wonderfully done. The book is then "written" by Robyn Post.
That really holds true here.
Monday, May 19, 2008
But the kids and I finished The Horse And His Boy (Narnia) by C.S. Lewis this weekend. It is not my favourite of the Narnia books, but we did enjoy it. And we liked the last chapter best. We are starting Prince Caspian tonight, and we are hopefully going to go to the movie at some point.
But the Reel Review is the thing today.
Last night i finished watching CRANFORD on PBS's Masterpiece. If I had to describe it in three words they would be:
Delightful, brilliant, perfection.
Michelle Styles had said, it is not a love story, but more a slice of life. But I'm not sure of that. It is definitely slice of life....and I don't think I've ever watched a series that made me care about the characters quite so much. I cried so often in this mini that it was stupid. Judi Dench was fantastic as Miss Mattie.
But there were several love stories at work...in that way I suppose it wasn't ONE love story at the core of it, like North and South was. But there was Miss Mattie's romance, and Jesse's, and Martha and Jem, and of course the Dr. Harrison and all the woman that swooned over the new doc. And there were opportunities missed....like Mr. Carter (who really really grew on me as a hero, dear me). The cast was stellar. I just really really cared. And the little boy...Harry...just broke my heart close to the end.
In the end, despite irreversible things that happened that made me sad, the beauty was that everything ended as it should have. The love story worked out for Dr. Harrison, other pairings were made, and people were with the right people. Miss Mattie's muslin was made up into the Mrs. Harrison's wedding gown. And Cranford was, in the end, still Cranford.
I'm sure the dvd will sneak its way on to an amazon order one of these days.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I made some headway on the wip, go me! Currently I'm trying to decide whether to work more on it tonight, or put in North and South and ogle Richard Armitage for inspiration. It's a close run thing. I AM really enjoying this book though. It's very dramatic.
Tuesday started out kind of cool. I did an interview by e-mail for my university alumni magazine which is doing a feature on grads who have gone on to write as their career. I'm still having a hard time considering this a career, by the way. It feels kind of presumptuous. Though I suppose I'm not bringing in any income doing anything else, so it fits the definition, lol. My interviewer is none other than the wife of my old Jr. High Band teacher. LOL We had a laugh about that.
But then my daughter called from school saying she felt ill and so I was off, and making a visit to the walk-in clinic. Came out feeling ok...but she was misdiagnosed which I'll get to in a moment....
Wednesday I worked in the morning and then spent the afternoon singing my guts out. Our choir is doing a cd and I went in to put down the alto tracks. Since I'm moving they bumped things up so I could get in first, so there were no other vocals but me coming through the headset. It was a really odd but fun experience, and I wanted to do it because I've never done anything like that before.
Wednesday everything went to hell. Crisis at dh's work meant he was getting geared up for an unplanned trip. This also meant we had to cancel our plans for the long weekend. We were tired and I was in bed a short while when my youngest was crying. Gave her some advil for the ache that was misdiagnosed as a "muscle cramp". It was a muscle cramp all right - of the gastric variety. A half hour later started the "long night". I caught snippets of half hour rests between bucket-holding. Dh got up and headed for the airport, with no help from me whatsoever.
Thankfully by 8 a.m. she was better and spent yesterday recuperating on the couch while I got back to my glamorous life. Now bear in mind the night I had and imagine WHAT I LOOKED LIKE. Let's just say it's a good thing it was not for television. LOL. I did my very first radio interview. It wasn't live so it will be edited, etc. Thank God. Suddenly you realize how many times you say UM, or pause, or talk at faster-than-light speed. (Hah. I got in Faster Than Light. FTL. Reminds me, Battlestar is on tonight.)
Last night I was bagged. Today was a little more singing to finish things up and running around. Like for laundry detergent. Seeing as we ran out Wednesday night.
And did I mention we're still making arrangements for the big move?
The week was busy, it wasn't pretty, but I sure am glad it's over.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
But then the mail came, and my latest amazon order, and in it, BROTHERS IN BATTLE - BEST OF FRIENDS.
I have never read Stephen Ambrose's BAND OF BROTHERS, but I have watched the series - brought to HBO by Tom Hanks and the ever-wonderful Spielberg. I've watched it many times. It changed my perspective of the world, and that's not exaggeration.
So when I spied this book I knew it was one I had to have. It's the story of 2 of Easy Company's most dynamic members - Babe Heffron and Bill Guarnere. Who can forget them sitting in a pub in Holland, just before Operation Market Garden, and Bill telling the replacements the story about the "Dear Babe" letter and the airplane named Doris???? What a character.
I'm in the middle of another book, but I had to read the foreword which is by Tom Hanks. Even those few pages brought back so many of the feelings from watching the series that I had to wipe my eyes.
Ordinary men, who by their deeds became extraordinary. I am really looking forward to digging into it.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I am on my way out the door presently but I have posted new excerpts on my website. You can find one for FALLING FOR MR DARK AND DANGEROUS at http://www.donnaalward.com/DDpage.htm
and you can find a new one for my January book, THE RANCHER'S RUNAWAY PRINCESS at http://www.donnaalward.com/Runaway%20Princess.htm
Catch you on the flip side...
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
You are Macbeth! A supposed retelling of the true story of King Macbeth of Scotland, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's bloodiest plays. Macbeth, after hearing the prophesy of three witches, believes he will be named king of Scotland. However, this line of thinking eventually leads Macbeth down a horrible road of blood and death as he fights first to gain, and then to keep hold of the crown. Believing the play to be cursed, many actors will not even say the name of the play inside of a theater unless it is being performed and refer to it simply as "The Scottish Play". But you probably don't care about some stupid old curse. As Macbeth you most likely don't take warnings too well and you are so headstrong that you can't take good advice when it comes your way, even if it is for your own good. But being Macbeth isn't all bad. You are most likely a man (or woman) of action. People probably like you because you are good at thinking on your feet and making quick decisions. But be careful, as your rash behavior may also get you in to trouble along the way.
Your Score: Macbeth
You scored 39% = Tragic, 28% = Comic, 38% = Romantic, 51% = Historic
Monday, May 12, 2008
This contest is judged solely by booksellers and librarians...the people responsible for ultimately making our books available to the public...and I'm especially thrilled that my very first Harlequin Romance has made the final cut.
My mates in the Traditional category are Ally Blake, Michelle Douglas, Lucy Gordon, and Claire Baxter! Lovely.
And also congrats to fellow Pink Heart editor Trish Wylie for finalling in the Short Contemporary category.
Reel Review: I also watched another movie on the weekend. Now Natasha mentioned in the comments that she thought Music and Lyrics was a terrible movie. I'll concede it wasn't one of those movies that blew me away, but I did enjoy it. At least there were little bits of dialogue in there that resonated with me as a writer...like when Hugh Grant accuses her of her worst fear. Which is more than I can say for the other flick I watched on Saturday: Catch and Release.
It was boring, except for the times it was annoying.
Just when you thought you were going to get a moment of truth, it would dart away to something else. It seemed to be an arty experiment on subtlety, only in this case it failed miserably in my opinion. And Kevin what's his name ( I could IMDB it but I couldn't be bothered) was a pig. Or rather his character was, which at least I suppose provided a distraction from the utter boredom.
It's not often that I truly don't enjoy a movie in any way. But this is one of those rare occasions. Timothy Olyphant's dimples were the best thing in it.
On to something far more lovely....
Two years ago she left Raul without one word of regret. Now chance has thrown them together once more, and the proud Spanish aristocrat will see that Alannah pays for her mistake!
He wanted Alannah Redfern the first moment he saw her. Her unique combination of purity and passion intrigued, then intoxicated him. And Raul Esteban was a man used to getting everything he wanted.
Now Raul knows that beautiful Alannah is no longer a naive girl. Until their one night of passion proves that Alannah is still an innocent! Raul will do whatever it takes to keep her at his mercy...
Kate has succeeded yet again in writing a great alpha hero. He's tough. He's really tough. BUT he also has this vulnerable side. And I think this is part of what makes her such a success. Her heroes still have all the trademarks of the romance novel "Alpha" and yet there is something that we empathize with. The characters remain relatable. I love that. I still might be a Guido woman, but her Raul is a very close second. :-)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
In this movie he plays a has-been 80's pop icon who has 36 hours to make his come back by writing a song for a young pop-lette. In comes the "plant lady" (Drew Barrymore) who has a gift for putting lyrics together. Quirky and cute - which just about summarizes the whole movie. Lots of little laugh out loud bits too.
Definitely worth a watch on a Saturday when you just want to kick back and relax.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Something I did this morning was finally set up a playlist for this book. Sometimes I write to complete silence, other times I like background music and sometimes I have THEME music...like for THE RANCHER'S RUNAWAY PRINCESS I had Let Me Call You Sweetheart, The Tennessee Waltz and My Wish (by Rascal Flatts).
This time though It's mostly mood music. I have a couple of italians at a winery in British Columbia...you'd think a fish out of water, wouldn't you? But not so much. So I have a mix of Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, RyanDan, Il Divo and one song by Damien Rice.
It's working for me, and that's what matters.
I do think I'll spend the afternoon cleaning the house...the kids are home on Friday afternoons. That way we won't have to do it tomorrow, and I might be able to pull out the laptop.
Sunday is Mother's Day here. I don't think there is anything planned, beyond a cruise in the new car and maybe an ice cream. :-)
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
It's an Infiniti G35x. I'm happy as it has all wheel drive. And leather interior. And gadgets. I think the dh really enjoyed the drive too. I know I'm looking forward to it and I'll have a better time driving it than I would trying to get used to a performance car.
So in other news today, Natasha Oakley is the new SPOTLIGHT IN SIX on the Harlequin Romance Author Blog...I'm going over there to post it right now.
She's also issued a chocolate challenge over at the Pink Heart Society.
Without further ado...my choccie recipe for FANTASTIC FUDGE BROWNIES
1 Cup Butter
2 cups sugar
4 heaping tbsp cocoa
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter, sugar and cocoa. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Add flour. Add nuts at this point if you want nuts...(pecans are my favourite...between 1/2 and 1 cup depending on how nutty you are).
Bake in a 9x13 greased pan at 350 until done. I know this sounds nebulous but my guess is it's about 45 minutes. Then you have to test...you do not want your tester to come out dry, but not with gooey batter either...there should be fudgey bits on it, or it comes out clean but with a coating of moisture.
Frost right away (because then it melts to a glaze) with: 2 cups icing sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp boiling water and 2 tsp vanilla.
YUM YUM YUM.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Which reminds me....if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, why not? This month the contest will be for newsletter subscribers, so this is your chance. Just add your name and e-mail to the little box to the right here and it's all done.
For now...I'm thinking I should have a hands free set for my phone with all the calls to make this morning.
The site is updated and my newsletter is queued for delivery. My contest this month is for newsletter subscribers. There is a signed advance copy of FALLING FOR MR DARK AND DANGEROUS up for grabs, as well as bookmarks the the Mills and Boon postcard. Instructions for entering are within my latest newsletter. If you are a new subscriber, you will automatically be entered.
Friday, May 02, 2008
My first to-do list is for moving details, mostly phone calls about connecting and disconnecting and address notifications. There are 27 items on it. Only 6 are crossed off.
Two loads of laundry are on the bed, waiting to be folded.
The dishwasher has clean dishes that need to go away so I can put the counter full of dirty dishes in it.
I need a few groceries. Milk and bread and chicken and coffee filters, to name a few.
I have a dresser piled with things that must be ironed. Sigh. Oh and mending. I refuse to wear clothes with the seams popping.
I can no longer put anything in the "to be filed" holder as it is full...so filing on the list.
AND....most importantly, the new book is burning a hole in my brain. I got the first three chapters back from my CP and I really want to dig in and get those "right", then I need to insert a scene for BEFORE the scene I wrote yesterday. I am really loving it and I think the lightbulb I had a few weeks ago made all the difference in the conflict. I now wish I could lock myself away for a few days and ride the wave. As it is I might end up getting out the laptop and working some tonight or tomorrow night, even if I can get 1k a day it will be forward motion. That was the goal yesterday and I wrote nearly 1400. Not huge volume but with everything going on, it just feels good to finally be making PROGRESS.
Oh yes and Monday is Music Monday across Canada so I am playing piano for the school concert, and Tuesday is another dental appointment. Good thing I'm not busy or anything.
Catch you on Monday...hopefully with a report on how much got accomplished on the weekend.