Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

Things are definitely looking up for 2009.

First of all, I came back from my few days away to visit family to the latest eharlequin newsletter - imagine my thrill seeing The Rancher's Runaway Princess as a featured book! Whee! Then today...I went on to shop and saw that it's actually number 9 on the current bestsellers!

This is the first time ever I think one of my books has been on the bestseller sidebar so I'm very squee-ish about it. It's a great way to wind up 2008!

I have been thinking a lot about New Year's Resolutions. I personally don't like the term resolutions. On Dec 31 2005, I said that 2006 would be the year that I sold a novel, and it was. It wasn't a fluke, it was because I was determined to do it....and so this year I'm also making determinations.

Now this might sound odd but I'm keeping those determinations quite close to my chest. Not because I don't think I'll do it. I know I will. But let's just say that I'm determined that 2009 is all about taking things to the next level. I'm going to step outside the box a bit and take some risks. It's going to be bigger, better, and fabulous if I have anything to say about it!

It's all kicking off in January, as I do have The Rancher's Runaway Princess out and I'll be "appearing" around cyberspace to promote it. I'll be guesting with Heidi Betts and Petticoats and Pistols, as well as my regular posts at Tote Bags N Blogs and the Pink Heart Society. One of those places also happens to be at e-harlequin, and you'll soon see what's in store thanks to Jayne and the great team at eharl's community.

In the meantime, we're having turkey soup for supper and then heading to a neighbours to ring in the New Year. I hope each and every one of you have a fabulous kick off to 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am working this morning, but then in the afternoon, preparing for the Big Day. I'll tidy the house, make up a few things for tomorrow, put on some carols, and just have fun.

We always have a steak barbeque for Christmas Eve supper and then put the gifts under the tree. Even though my husband no longer works shift work, tonight after the kids are in bed, he'll pop into the airport for a few hours to help the nightshift get done early so they can go home to their families. I don't mind. He worked that shift many times in the past, and others that were not on the schedule often went in to help on Christmas Eve so he and his crewmates could go home early for Christmas morning. In a way it is as much of a tradition as reading The Night Before Christmas.

Tomorrow morning will start EARLY and we will open prezzies, have a special breakfast and then our preparations for dinner.

Christmastime is a natural time to think about those who have come to mean a lot to us, and also about all the good things that have happened during the year. It's been a good year for me. I had 2 books released and was contracted for several more. My debut Romance won an award the same weekend my mum got remarried after nearly 20 years of being a widow. We left the city behind and moved nearly 4000 km to our new home that is within driving distance of family, and the new home is more than I could have imagined last year at this time. We have a new addition to the family - the dog. I have a wonderful supportive husband and great kids who have hardly made a peep about moving from the only home they'd ever known. What more could I possibly ask for? (Besides a new crock pot?)

This fall especially though, one person has really been there, day in and day out and I hope she knows how much she is appreciated.

Several years ago I decided I wanted to make a traditional Christmas pudding for dessert. I had joined e-harlequin and in the interest of researching my fourth manuscript, had popped into a thread for all things British (now the Mouse and Pen). Michelle Styles sent me a recipe.

It was, in the words of Rick Blaine, “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Michelle became my critique partner, and now she’s so much more. I call her my “writing sister”. She is ruthless with my work. She is a shoulder when I need it (and lately that's been a lot) and a voice of reason when I need that too, about writing, about family, about life. I am not sure I could do this without her wisdom and friendship.

I only wish she lived closer so we could share some of this holiday-ness in person!




Wherever you are, and whoever you're with, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases filled with family and friends and lots and lots of cheer.

Merry Christmas,

Donna

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This Just In.....

Merry Christmas to me.....

I know I made rash promises of doing a jig in my underwear down our street when this novella finally sold. Considering the change in the weather, I shan't be stripping to my skivvies anytime soon as I still have a cold and really, this is NOT something the neighbours need to see. Nor do I wish to have frostbite on various parts of my anatomy. I may however be doing a jig in my ski jacket, toque and boots today because

THE NOVELLA IS A GO!

I won't go on ad nauseum about how hard it was because you already know it. I will say when I read those beautiful words, I blinked very hard and let out a ginormous sigh of relief. I had such a good feeling about the latest version but wasn't at all sure it was what they were looking for. I'm really glad it worked!

The antho title is Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage and my contribution is A Bride For Rocking H Ranch, to be released next holiday season.

Now I can actually say that I am COMPLETELY ready for Christmas!

Catching up on Book Blogs

I've read a few books I haven't blogged but I'm keeping it short as, well, I'm pressed for time. These have already been logged for the eharlequin challenge and I'm C&P'ing from there. And signups are going on for the 2009 challenge. It's easy and a great cause, and if you're reading anyway...

Veiled Truth - Vivi Anna

Theron and Lyra in the third installment of the Valorian Chronicles. The windup to the murders happening in Necropolis with an open window to Mahina's story in "Mahina's Storm" and Kellen's story to follow later. The secret "weapon" used to defeat the villian is really great!

Blue Remembered Heels - Nell Dixon

Blue Remembered Heels is Nell Dixon's debut with Headline's Little Black Dress imprint. It's a quirky, fun story told in the first person with a cast of great characters. The heroine is Abbey, who was struck by lightning and now is incapable of lying. The catch? She and her sister and brother are con artists, and little do they know that their latest con also has links to the disappearance of their mother several years before. Throw in a gangster or two, a professional footie player and a cop who's sweet on Abbey and hot on the trail, and you're in for a fun, entertaining read.

This review was done last month before things went stupid crazy, so is a bit longer:

The Journey Home - Linda Ford

I'll admit it, I don't read a lot of Steeple Hill. They are just not my thing in general. That being said, I do read them when they come my way, and while some leave me "meh" others I really enjoy.

Linda is a friend of mine but this is the first of hers I'd read. I'm a bit embarrassed about that, and more so because even though SH is NOT my general reading preference, I LOVED this book.

How much I loved it was unexpected. In addition to the inspy thing, the hero is native american - or more accurately, a "half breed". Also not my fave type of hero, and I had some reservations (haha) as I started the first few chapters. But Linda really hits home the "it's all in the execution" thing because I loved her heroine and really grew to love the hero too. He's a good man. A really good man. And like Charlotte and the townspeople learned to look beyond his skin colour, so did I. I cried while reading this book - loved the hero's dad Leland and the ending was happy happy happy.

Linda's LI historicals so far I believe take place during the depression which is something I've not seen before and something I really enjoyed. She has a beautiful voice and there were places in it that I just saw so much of HER in the heroine, and yet Charlotte was just herself.

I'm going to try to get my hands on her other LI Hist. releases as well and if I remember right there's a new one due out early in 09.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, Go Elf Yourself

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Cheryl St John's Christmas Tree Tour

Here's something I forgot - today our Christmas tree is featured on Cheryl St. John's Christmas Tree Tour. It's a really fun thing she does over there, and you can scroll around and find all sorts of beautiful trees and read about different traditions.

Robitussin at regular intervals does seem to help a lot, and I also have in a supply of honey, cough drops, and vicks. I didn't make it to the pharmacy today, but this seems to be holding me for now.

Now I'm off to watch a few episodes of Hearts and Bones. :-)

Annoyed

Ok now I'm getting annoyed.

I didn't even take that much on for Christmas this year. Really, my commitments are way down. But there have been deadlines and shopping and wrapping and the time has sped at warp speed and somehow I ended up with the Canadian version of what Michelle calls "The Cold".

Members of my family now look at me with furrowed brows and annoyed eyes when I cough, which is, unfortunately, about every 20 seconds or so. My sore throat doesn't get any better because I continually hack. I took robitussin last night which helped everything but the sore throat, but this morning I have to run out for a bit and so can't take any more until I'm home.

And we've get to get our Christmas groceries. And I forgot about the garbage pickup today and the truck has already gone.

Sigh.

Is it bedtime yet?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Rancher's Runaway Princess

In all the craziness of revisions and the 12 Days contest, I'm not sure I mentioned that The Rancher's Runaway Princess is available at Mills and Boon and Eharlequin a month early.

You can get them from the websites now, the e-book will be released Jan 1 and the retail release date is Jan 13.

Here's the M&B widget so you can have a quick browse of the book and the Harlequin link.




I'm off to finish up the very last of the shopping, have a facial and watch my kid sing at the airport. Then I shall come home and collapse in a heap.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Friends

I'm over at Tote Bags 'N' Blogs today, so come on over and see what's cookin'.

I had a fairly eventful "day off" in that I did laundry, made Steak and Guinness Pie, washed dishes, helped with a school project, and did Secret Santa stuff for school this week. I even finished up a blog post I have due later in the month. Once I had a nap, I guess I felt like puttering.

Today's post is not long but something that needs to be said because without it I wouldn't have managed this last few weeks. My revisions are in and I do not know what happens now, hopefully they are everything my editor was looking for...I do know I worked my butt off and did my best work. So fingers crossed it did the trick.

It's no secret this project has been a challenge, heck I blogged about it months ago as I was writing the first draft. There's lots of theories as to why it was difficult, and it could just be that it was my turn to have one of "those" books. It doesn't matter why, what matters is that it was the hardest thing I ever wrote and then I turned around and had two huge sets of revisions on it.

As a writer, my confidence took a huge beating. I felt so at sea, and as Trish so eloquently put it recently - the whole I SUCK thing came into play. I truly felt beaten. I felt pressured and inadequate and a whole other gamut of emotions at one point.

And here's the whole point of the post at last...I have great friends.

Jenna, Trish, Natasha - my PHS buds who are on IM and who make me laugh even when I'm crying at my own pity party - thanks. To Liz who assured me I could do it and let me know I wasn't alone, to Kate who sent lovely e-mails and surprised me with a phone call and a bribe for finishing (and thank you darling, because it came and I've started watching already) and for the greatest CP a chick could EVER want - Michelle - who despite being very ill re-read every revised word, talked me off of ledges, and phoned when she was worried I was being buried under used tissues. You guys rock. SERIOUSLY.

And the topic of how supportive my husband has been...wow. He said words I never expected on the phone one day when I was stuck..."Ok, so let's talk through it." Who knew he'd end up being a brainstormer?

The journey with this silly book might not be over but as Michelle keeps telling me, I learned a lot from it.

Maybe the most important thing I learned is how great my friends are.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day off

My revisions are sent and I'm taking a day off. I had a horrible night. We had high winds and rain, and my cough was worse so I slept downstairs. Only I was up what felt like every hour on the hour. I'm completely and utterly bagged this morning. So I'm doing a few things that need doing up (that I ignored during revisions) and a couple of loads of laundry as I've been told the kids would prefer to have pants to wear tomorrow.

Then I'm either sleeping or reading. I think I'll probably start with the reading, and likely fall asleep.

Catch you on the other side- hopefully on the other side of this bug.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Regular blogging resumes

Wow, what a contest! Now that it's over, we can get back to regular blogging which probably isn't anywhere near as exciting.

The contest turned out to be a blessing as I preloaded a lot of the posts. I've been head down into extensive revisions and it meant I didn't need to break focus. I'm still working on them, but the worst of the work is done, and I'm starting a second pass through this morning. The sincere hope is that by tomorrow night, they will be ready to send off.




Attracion Irrestible (Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous) is out in Spain this month, and slotted for release in the US, Argentina etc. in March.




And Hired by the Cowboy is out in Italy in January, under the title of Due Sconoscuiti a Nozze. It has one of Jennie Adams's covers, which made me do a double take and smile. Every month I've had a book out, so has Jennie.




I have attended Christmas concerts, done Christmas baking, have finished 90% of my shopping and wrapping, and also ended up with a cold/flu thing that is being rather annoying at the moment.

Today I have a post over at the Pink Heart Society for Male on Monday - all about my favourite holiday hunks. Watching Christmas movies is one of my favourite things to do - most often with a cup of tea or cocoa and my kids.



And of course The Rancher's Runaway Princess is available right now on eharlequin and the Mills and Boon sites. The official release date is Jan 13 for in-store and on amazon etc. The e-book will be available on Jan 1 on both sites (hooray for Mills and Boon and e-books!).
Now...I'm off for a cup of tea...honestly tea has never tasted so good as it has the last 2 days...and finishing up revisions. If I can stay awake...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

12 Days of Christmas WINNER!


Congratulations to Anita Mae Draper, who has won the 12 Days of Christmas Contest!


Anita - you have won:


Bookmarks, magnets etc. from the authors involved

One Christmas ornament

Chocolates - that happen to be made by my kids

One Jessica Hart tote bag

And EIGHTEEEN Books!


That would be:


The Rancher's Runaway Princess - Donna Alward

Barefoot Bride - Jessica Hart

Phantom's Touch - Julie Leto

Pursuit of Justice, Broken Lullaby and Everyday Promises - Pamela Tracy

Her Baby's First Christmas - Susan Meier

Her Royal Wedding Wish - Cara Colter

His Son's Teacher - Kay Stockham

His Secret Past - Ellen Hartman

The Italian's Miracle Family - Lucy Gordon

Heart of a Thief - Gail Barrett

Christmas Spirit, Ghost Moon, Beyond Fearless - Rebecca York

Her Kind of Man - Pamela Yaye

Sweet Surrender, No One But You - Michelle Monkou


A majorly huge thank you to ALL who helped me have so much fun with this contest - be on the lookout next December, as I'll definitely be running it again!


Merry Christmas to all of you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In the Doghouse - And Guilty Pleasures

I'm busily getting ready to draw the grand prize winner......but until then, you HAVE to see this. My husband sent it to me and I laughed my butt off. My husband is a VERY smart man.

http://bewareofthedoghouse.com/video.aspx

What's your husband/significant other getting YOU this Christmas?

My critique partner, Michelle Styles, also recently did a post on Guilty Pleasures, or those little indulgences we love. I'm a big fan of indulgence. Don't get me wrong, I love a day at the spa with massages and pampering (in fact I'm having a facial next week!) but it doesn't require anything so time consuming or expensive. It's all about finding pleasure in little things.

So here are my top 7 favourite things to indulge in:

1) A glass of heart-healthy red wine. Sitting back in my comfy chair after a day of writing, housework and being mom and wife, there's nothing better than to just say AHHHHH and sip away. If I sit down with a glass of wine it's an automatic message that you cannot demand more of me on this particular day.

2) A jacuzzi bath. Not one I indulge in on a daily basis, but I do love my new jetted tub. Very often I combine it with my indulgence number three....

3) Reading. It's the double edged sword of all writers. You write write write and do whatever else is required of you and suddenly your time bank for reading has dwindled to pittance. Being a woman and a natural multi tasker, I combine reading with the jacuzzi tub quite often. I couldn't in a regular tub, I was never comfortable. But the way my tub is built, I have natural elbow rests and a neck pillow which is FANTASTIC.

4) Chocolate. I'm not indulging in this as much as I used to. Not sure why. But give me a dark chocolate truffle and I'm automatically a happier person.

5) A walk in the woods. This costs absolutely nothing. And the beauty is, I don't have to go far. In fact we are in a wooded area so even our community will do. I love the smells, I love the sounds. It is like being in a different world. Grass and leaves and the musty, earthy scent of damp ground. Birds in the trees, or the way different species' leaves make different sounds in the breeze. Poplar leaves tinkle. Maples shhhh and oaks rustle. I always come back rejuvenated, unless it's happened to start raining part way through, which is unfortunately quite common living so close to the coast!

6) Girly afternoons. I absolutely love hot cocoa and cookies, or lemonade and popcorn, and cuddling on the couch with my girls for a girlie movie. As they get older the movies just get better and better. We're mostly out of animated ones now. Sometimes we'll also paint our toenails or I'll braid their hair. No boys allowed!

7) and number seven...I can't leave my husband out. And one of my favourite things to do with him is go out on our deck and listen to the frogs (in the summer) and look at the stars. No kids, no jobs, no phone (hopefully). Just us. It makes me feel glad to be alive.

What do you do for special indulgences, to rejuvenate yourself?

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas....

It's HERE! The end! Twelve whole days of fun coming to a close. I'm going to skip the bio today as the featured author is, well, ME! And if you've been visiting the blog regularly, you'll all pretty much have gotten a sense of who I am...

I really need to thank all of the authors who signed books, donated books, donated promo items, and participated, making this my favourite contest I've ever held. I am constantly surprised by the generosity of other writers, though I shouldn't be by now! Honestly, I put out the call and within a half hour my twelve days were full. One lucky reader will be getting a heck of a package! So thank you to all the authors for making this so much fun. I've enjoyed having you all.
And a huge thank you to everyone who came by, commented, entered, and sent lovely e-mails my way telling me how much you enjoyed the contest. I'll definitely be running it again next year.

The final book going into the box is my new release, THE RANCHER'S RUNAWAY PRINCESS. If you haven't yet heard, it's the very first one set in my fictional town of Larch Valley and there are more on the way! It's also got a special place in my heart. There was something about Lucy I really related to, and I loved Brody. It just had a down-home yet fairy-tale quality to it that has hung on, even now, nearly a year after I finished it.

And there are a few other goodies going in the box as well - author goodies, a Christmas ornament, and what prize would be complete without CHOCOLATE?

So send your e-mail to me at donna@donnaalward.com with the final clue - Happy Holidays, for your last chance to be entered in the draw.


I'll be posting the winner the day after tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tomorrow come on back for a bit of fun and a peek into some guilty pleasures...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Harlequin Open House Party

Today is the annual Open House Party at eHarlequin to celebrate the holidays. We're in for another NASTY weather bout here in Atlantic Canada, so whether or not I'm there depends on the power situation here (I'm loading this in advance).

I'm scheduled to be at the Romance post party though, and tons of other authors - over 100 - are slotted to appear at line parties and chat sessions.

You can hopefully access the Romance thread party HERE and even if I'm not there - there are prizes to be won and that includes a copy of THE RANCHER'S RUNAWAY PRINCESS!

Fingers crossed it all works out at this end.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...Jessica Hart

Wow, we're almost to the end, and I've saved someone pretty special for last. One of her holiday themed books, Christmas Eve Marriage, was one that helped convince me the Romance line was where I belonged. That book went on to win a RITA award!


So here's a bit about Jessica Hart (courtesy of fantasticfiction.co.uk), who also happens to be celebrating her 50th book this year!




[Jessica]Hart was born in Scotland, where her mother continues to live. Jessica's earliest dreams were about sitting on a sand dune in the Sahara, working in the Outback, hacking her way through a jungle or bouncing along a dusty track in a battered old Land Rover rather than writing a book. Her itchy feet took her from Afghanistan to Australia, from Algeria to Belize, and Cameroon to Indonesia, with various stops en route, and she loved it all.


Because she was always thinking about where she wanted to go next, she never quite managed a proper career. Instead she had a haphazard series of jobs around the world. Her last 'proper' job was on the foreign newsdesk of a national newspaper. Before that, she was on expedition in West Africa, cooked on an outback cattle station, taught English as a foreign language, was production assistant for a theatre company and research assistant for a publisher of restaurant guides and filled in the gaps between by working as a secretary, waitress, chambermaid and dishwasher. Regular readers will probably recognize how often she has drawn on her wide but lowly working experience for inspiration when it comes to setting and plot!


Now Jessica leads a rather more staid existence, dividing her time between city life in York and a country cottage in Wiltshire where her partner, John, lives. This involves a lot of driving up and down the motorway, which takes up a lot of time. After nine years of research, Jessica finally completed a Ph.D. on York's later medieval and early modern streets in 2004, but still never seems to have enough time to get everything done. When she's not writing romance, she is usually busy doing something connected with food (cooking, meeting friends for a drink, eating, gossiping over coffee etc) or walking her Westie, Mungo, but she also loves history and gardening and reading and travelling, and there are still times, too, when she yearns for wider horizons.


Jessica has written over 45 books for Harlequin Romance, and won the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award for the best traditional romance in 2005. In 2006, she was awarded the Romance Prize for the best category romance by the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association, and is short-listed for the same award in 2007.



For a more humorous glimpse into Jessica's life, go to her website. I laughed out loud!





I got a lovely package in the mail from Jessica. The prize winner will get a signed copy of Barefoot Bride, and a special treat - all of the books will be inside one of Jessica's cute "50th book" celebration tote bags! I saw one in Calgary as a reader had won one and I immediately put in my order!







Today's clue is Santa


As always, one entry per e-mail address a day. Send the clue to me at donna@donnaalward.com with the subject line of 12 Days of Christmas. Only one more day to enter!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the Tenth Day of Christmas - Julie Elizabeth Leto

I was so excited when my next guest e-mailed to ask if there were spaces left in the 12 Days contest. I remember stories she used to tell about her early days of writing and working and juggling time, and now her career is just flying.


So without further ado, here's Julie Elizabeth Leto with her "not a cinderella story"!




I don't have a stepmother, have never been blonde and wouldn't know how to clean a fireplace if ashes were stacked to the flue. But my road to publication didn't come overnight or without a lot of disappointment. Yes, I have my Prince Charming (and a little Princess to boot), but other than that, Cinderella and I have nothing in common. Of course, my becoming published did have a lot to do with finding the perfect fit, so who knows? Maybe I do have a fairy godmother somewhere out there.

Born and raised in Florida to a close-knit family of Italian and Cuban descent, I learned never to give up or give in -- especially when in pursuit of a lifelong dream. I worked over eight years before Harlequin Temptation bought my first book. But what an adventure it was!
A romance reader from age 16, I knew what kind of stories I wanted to write. I started my first romance in 1988 while in graduate school. Soon after, I joined the workforce as an English teacher in Catholic school, which people always get a kick out of. I wrote at night and on weekends. During breaks. I grabbed every free moment I could.


In 1996, I retired from teaching, joined my family's manufacturing business and gave myself more time to write. "The call" from Harlequin came in March of 1997 with an offer to publish SEDUCING SULLIVAN, my fourth completed novel.

I discovered my niche with Temptation's sensuous, sexy tone and character-driven stories. My desire to "push the envelope" worked even better when Harlequin launched the new Blaze series, longer books that gave me the freedom to explore sensual stories with a more intricate plot. In 2003, I sold my first single title series to Pocket’s Downtown Press, which is female action-adventure rather than straight romance--though the sequel and subsequent books will be released in mass market paperback as romantic suspense. I’m also doing novellas and special projects for Harlequin, including the occasional Blaze.

Clearly, all the rejection letters and years of working to improve and hone my style paid off. Over the course of nine years, I've sold over twenty-five projects to three major publishers. All hot, all sexy and all fun!


So to be honest, sometimes I do feel like a certain fairytale princess.



Julie has sent a copy of her latest single title release, PHANTOM'S TOUCH, for the prize pack!

You can read more about Julie on her website, www.julieleto.com




Today's clue is Angels


Send the clue to donna@donnaalward.com - one entry per day please! And tomorrow, we're down to our last guest author! Don't miss it!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

On the Ninth Day of Christmas - Pamela Tracy

Today's special guest is Love Inspired author Pamela Tracy. The first contact I had with Pam was after I'd read one of her books and reviewed it and she e-mailed to say thanks. I was so pleased when she e-mailed again to say she'd like to take part. Her biography begins:

Pamela Kaye Tracy is a writer and teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives with a newly acquired husband.

That made me laugh - so here you go with the rest of it!

(Yes, Pamela is somewhat a newlywed. You can be a newlywed for seven years. We’re only on year six) and a confused calico cat (Hey, I had her all to myself for sixteen years. Where’d this guy come from? But, maybe it’s okay. He’s pretty good about feeding me and petting me).

She was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, by Albert and Rosemary Tracy. For forty years she honesty told people she was an only child, and then, just eight years ago, she met her birth mother and as a fringe benefit found a sister and brother. That's now expanded to birth father and his wonderful daughters.

She started writing (A very bad science fiction novel) while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Luckily, that manuscript is missing, but after moving to Arizona, her father made her pack up the stuff in the basement where she discovered a few writings from her teenage years. Most were romances. Most had a hero who suspiciously sounded like David Cassidy. Whoa! In these written-by-hand epics, the heroes were even named David Cassidy. No wonder he didn't have time to do more seasons of the Partridge Family.

Pamela seriously turned to writing after her mother's death in 1993. She'd always told her mother she wanted to be a writer. It was a way to work through sorrow.

Her first novel It Only Takes a Spark was published in 1999. Since then she’s published twelve more writings in both romantic comedy and Christian inspiration romance. Her novella, “I Do, Too” in the anthology Dear Miss Lonely Heart was featured in Crossings book club and released in hardback. Her novella “Murder or Matrimony” in the anthology The Wildflower Brides was featured in the Doubleday book club and also released in hardback. Promises and Prayers for Teachers, an August 2004 Barbour release, was her first non-fiction book and went to number two on the Christian Booksellers Association’s bestseller list.

Pursuit of Justice, her first novel with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense was released in March of 2007 and was a RITA@ finalist. It also took second place the the American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year contest. Broken Lullaby was a Romantic Times magazine top pick in March of 2008!

Pamela attends the Church of Christ. She is an English professor - you'll find no comma errors in this website! Her husband Don is a plumber. Besides going to church, writing, teaching, camping, sewing, reading, grading papers, cleaning house, yakking on the phone to friends, and taking care of her family, she is often asked to speak at various writers’ organizations in the Phoenix area. She belongs to Romance Writers of America, The Society of Southwestern Writers, The Arizona Authors’ Association, and the American Christian Writer’s Association. She serves as the president of their local chapter Christian Writers of the West. In February of 2005, her newlywed status changed to that of newlymom.

Pam sent a very generous package for inclusion in the 12 Days of Christmas Box:


Pursuit of Justice, Broken Lullaby, and a non fiction, gorgeous book called Everyday Promises.

Today's clue is Nativity

Send the clue to donna@donnaalward.com with the subject line of 12 Days of Christmas. One entry per e-mail per day.


And only 3 days to go!

Monday, December 08, 2008

On The Eighth Day of Christmas...Susan Meier

Today's Day EIGHT! I hope you all are having fun, I've had lots of entries so far so keep coming back each day to increase your chances!


The big number 8 is for another fab Romance line author, Susan Meier!


One of eleven children, Susan was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and continues to live there with her husband, three children and two very personable cats. Susan is an avid, but terrible golfer, and a woman who desperately wants to lean to cook without having to involve the fire department. Her 2007 goals include getting involved with blogging -- she but hopes no one is holding his or her breath waiting for that, losing fifteen pounds -- don't hold your breath on that one either -- and figuring out the financing for an ocean front condo in Virginia Beach. She swears she will wear Number 30 sun block and never subject anyone to the site of her in a bikini! (Unless asked -- and paid…handsomely.)


Susan Meier is the author of over 30 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, The Kindness of Strangers. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards.

Susan sent a special message to be included in the blog...something so lovely and heartwarming I'm happy to post it for her.

When Donna put out a call for authors to join her in celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, I answered quickly. I love Christmas! Not because of the presents…well, maybe a little…LOL…but because I love the spirit of the season.

For me "Christmas" began a little before Thanksgiving. I was tired. I’d worked since early morning, while my son slept in. It was, after all, his day off. I’ve noticed that writers don’t get days off…but that’s a blog for another day.

Anyway, Michael has a seizure disorder and doesn’t drive. When he awakened, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to go to the bank, do a little shopping and buy lunch, let’s just say I wasn’t in as festive of a mood as he was.

A dutiful mom, I put on boots and a coat and drove him to the bank and a sandwich shop and then to the discount department store to get his prescription and a few things. I sat in the car and watched him jog inside, waving to friends, yelling greetings and laughing.

I’m not really Scrooge, but I did look at him and think, it must be nice to have all that energy. Then I remembered he was going into the store to buy medication that stops his seizures but makes him tired. He fights it. He has a job that pays him a decent wage, but he still has to live with his parents. (That can’t be easy.) But he rarely complains. He makes the best of what he has.

In a few minutes, he ran out again and by this time the Salvation Army bell ringer was in place. Without hesitation, Mikie dug into his pockets and pulled out a few bills which he tossed into the pot. The bell ringer thanked him. He shrugged off the thanks and ran to the car, ready to go home and eat lunch.

In that moment I wasn’t sure if I was more proud of him or more in need of the V-8 head-thump myself. Sometimes we get so bogged down in what we perceive to be the necessities of life that we forget life’s biggest joy is giving. Not merely money, but smiles, waves, little acts of kindness.

Mikie knows how to appreciate the holiday because he doesn’t see what he’s lacking; he appreciates what he has and he turns his appreciation into action. He starts early, gives generously, loves mightily.

On that day in November, I decided to take a page from his book. I started early. I’m giving. Not just money, but time and conversation.

And I’m loving mightily. I’m looking around, seeing who needs to be loved. Who needs a smile. Who needs a prayer. Who needs someone to show him or her a simple kindness. And I’m doing those things. Even if it means going out of my way, giving up my place in the checkout line to someone who looks more tired than I am, being patient in traffic.

Celebrate the season by giving yourself the best gift of all…the gift of giving. Watch the smiles of your week double, the sincere thanks warm your heart and the love you give come back in wonderful, unexpected ways.






Susan has generously sent me a HARDCOVER copy of her Christmas release, Her Baby's First Christmas for inclusion in the box.









You can find out more about Susan and her books at http://www.susanmeier.com/.


Today's clue is Candy Cane



One entry per person, with the clue in the body of the e-mail and 12 Days of Christmas in the subject line to donna@donnaalward.com.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Christmas - Michelle Monkou

Today's Day 7, and our special featured author is someone I met over at Tote Bags 'N' Blogs, where we're both columnists for Lee Hyat - Michelle Monkou. Michelle always has such presence, and yet she's so very friendly and welcoming...I always look forward to her posts. I'm very pleased she's joined me this week!

Here's a little about Michelle:

Michelle Monkou became a world traveler at three years old when she left her birthplace of London, England and moved to Guyana, South America. She then moved to the United States as a young teen. An avid reader, mixed with her cultural experiences, set the tone for a vivid imagination. It wasn't long before the stories in her head became stories on paper.

In the middle of writing romantic fiction, she added a Master's of International Business to her Bachelor's in English. Michelle was nominated for the 2003 Emma Award for Favorite New Author for her debut novel -- Open Your Heart. Her second book - Finders Keepers - earned Top Pick by the Romantic Times Bookclub magazine. Her third book, a Kwanzaa-themed story - Making Promises - was featured as a holiday pick by the Baltimore Sun. Her recent April release - Island Rendezvous garnered rave reviews, which also happens to be a sequel to Finders Keepers.

Since September '06, Michelle became part of the launch of Harlequin's new African American romance line, Kimani Romance. She launched her three-book series about the Masterson family and will debut a new five-book series, Ladies of Distinction, with No One But You and Gamble On Love due for release in April and October 2008.



Michelle has sent for the gift box Sweet Surrender, and No One But You.

You can learn more about Michelle at her website, http://www.michellemonkou.com/.

Today's clue is Eggnog

Put the clue in an email and send it to me at donna@donnaalward.com to enter...one entry per e-mail address a day!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...Cara Colter


On the sixth day of Christmas, I'm bringing you the only other Canadian author for the Harlequin Romance line, Cara Colter - and she's been at it a lot longer than I have. I finally got a chance to meet Cara at the booksigning we did in Calgary - she's a member of our group but lives in British Columbia. I wish we'd had a chance to meet sooner!

Cara Colter, a journalism graduate, lives in British Columbia, Canada, on an acreage she shares with eleven horses,and the man of her dreams, Rob. They have three grown children, Richard, Jeffrey and Cassidy, and one grandchild, Brayden. Cara enjoys reading and flower gardening but her greatest love (after Rob and the kids!) is exploring the hundreds of acres of woodland trails near her home on her leopard-spotted Appaloosa, Dakota.

Winner of the 2006 Romantic Times Career Achievement award in the Love and Laughter category, Cara has written over forty novels. Her return to Harlequin Romance was kicked off in March of 2007 with the paperback release of THE PRINCE AND THE NANNY, which placed on the Waldenbooks bestseller list.



We've got a signed copy of Cara's Her Royal Wedding Wish in the prize box...this is a book I read right after meeting her and loved it!


Today's clue is Christmas Tree
E-mail the clue to donna@donnaalward.com with the subject line 12 Days of Christmas to be entered! (Need I say it? one entry per day, please).

Friday, December 05, 2008

On the Fifth Day of Christmas - Superrific!

Before I get to today's authors, I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who has entered, commented on the blog or mentioned in their entries how much they're enjoying this. I am too. I was so excited I was definitely thinking of making this an annual event. Now there's no question. So thank you everyone!

Now to get back to the fun:

Today we have 2 authors to highlight, both Superromance authors, both incredibly witty and fun. I met both Kay and Ellen on the eharlequin boards. They're both likely to stir up a little trouble, in the best possible way of course. I'm hoping they pop over to the comments today to create some mischief!
Here's Kay Stockham - and isn't she disgustingly gorgeous??????
I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since the age of seven or eight when I copied the pictures out of a Charlie Brown book and rewrote the story because I didn't like the plot. Through the years my stories have changed, but one thing has always stayed true: romance. Each and every one of my manuscripts included a love story so what else could I be but a romance writer?

I've worked as a receptionist/secretary for several law firms, a grunt in a library, a computer lab tech and also tried my hand at being a secretary/office manager for a large commercial real estate development company. But while these various jobs paid the bills, I wanted more.

My chance came after I quit work to stay home with my family. But while I loved being home, I was climbing the walls. Honestly, I HATE housekeeping. Dirty clothes, dishes, sweeping? I'd rather read, but what do you do when you run out of things to read? Write. So I did. In between diaper changes, teething, another baby, preschool and kindergarten, I was about to toss in the towel and go job-hunting when I sold my first book to Superromance. My feet haven't touched the floor since getting the call. Talk about thrilling! I'm living my dream. To date I've contracted eleven stories, but I hope it's only the beginning.

And now the ever hysterical Ellen Hartman - honestly this woman can keep me in stitches. How can you not laugh at a woman whose website proclaims "Love is no joke. But it sure is funny."?

I've been making a living as a writer ever since I got my creative writing degree from Carnegie Mellon University and went to work for Microsoft. I spent fifteen years writing technical manuals no one ever read until I finally decided to take a shot at writing what I really love—romance.

I wrote much of my first novel in the back of a preschool classroom while I was trying to ease my younger son’s separation anxiety. I had agreed to stick around for a day, maybe two. Somehow—the exact chain of events is hazy—one day turned into a full year of scribbling in a notebook on the bench in the corner. My son is now a completely independent elementary school student (phew!), and that book became my first sale to Superromance.

My husband and I are both from Scranton, Pennsylvania. We met on a blind date on New Year’s Eve in a mutual love-at-first-sight moment—which would make an awesome novel, if only my husband would agree to be “fictionalized.” We live with our sons in a college town in New York State. I'm still employed as a technical writer, working at the local university. In my spare time (HA!), I write romance, read as much as I can, and hang out with my boys.


Kay and Ellen have donated the following books to the prize pack:
















You can visit their sites too, at http://www.kaystockham.com/ and http://www.ellenhartman.com/.

Today's clue is Wreath

As always - one entry per day, to donna@donnaalward.com with 12 Days of Christmas in the subject line and today's clue in the body of the e-mail.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

On the Fourth Day of Christmas....Lucy Gordon

Today's the fourth and I'm pleased that one of my very favourite authors is our spotlight today. A reviewer once spoke our names in the same breath and I was SO flattered. Not to mention the story of her and her husband is one of the most romantic ones I've ever heard.

So here's that love story - courtesy of Award Winning Romance author Lucy Gordon!


The most romantic love story I have ever known is my own. It started when I was taking a short holiday in Venice, Italy.

I can remember sitting at a little cafe in St.Mark's Square, listening to the orchestra, watching the sun wink off my wine glass, and wondering what this magical city would bring me. Three hours later I met a tall, dark, handsome Venetian, who asked me to have dinner with him that night.

"Definitely not!!" I said. "I've dated Italians before, "and you're all hands."

He looked shocked at my suspicions. "Just friendly!" he promised. But he didn't keep his word - Thank goodness!

He had (and still has) more charm than any man has a right to have, and the evening was pure magic. We ate at a little canal side cafe, and took a motor bus up the Grand Canal, where the beautiful old buildings were bathed in floodlight. And, of course, we took a ride in a gondola.

He was in his thirties, and an old hand at dodging wedding bells. But that same evening he began to drop hints about the kind of woman he wanted to marry. Gradually I realized that he was serious. In the end it took him a whole twenty four hours to propose formally. I said yes. It was complete madness, but I was in love.

My family and friends were aghast, muttering darkly about 'holiday romances'. But now, more than twenty years later, we are still married, still happy and in love.

We have lived mostly in England. My husband is an artist. I was a journalist for some years, working on a major women's magazine. While writing features I found myself in some fascinating situations. I've camped out with lions in Africa, flown with the flying ambulances of the remote Scottish islands, and tried the gaming tables in Monte Carlo.

When I finally gave up journalism to write romances, all these experiences crept into my work.

I also interviewed some of the world's most interesting and attractive men, Warren Beatty, Richard Chamberlain, Roger Moore, Charlton Heston. Even when I took a fill in job in a London store, I found myself serving Michael Caine.

We did return to Italy for a couple of years, and rented a villa just outside Venice. It was then that I really got to know the Italian people, and the rest of the country.

It is no accident that so many of my books are set in Italy. I've used Venice as a background, but also Rome, Florence, Milan, Tuscany and Sicily. I love writing Italian heroes. The legend of the romantic Italian male has a lot of truth in it. The men from this hot, colorful country have a full hearted, emotional reaction to life that makes them wonderful to be with - and to write about.

We now live in the English midlands. We have no children, but our cat and dog make sure they leave us no time to spare.My husband paints and I write. We return to Venice every year, sometimes more often, to walk the streets we remember. Venice is as timeless as love itself, and the little canals and bridges haven't altered since that first night. Nor has the Grand Canal, or the gondolas. And nor have we.

Lucy's kindly donated to the box:





The Italian's Miracle Family








You can read more about Lucy at http://www.lucy-gordon.com/


Today's clue is Pannetone

E-mail the clue with the subject line of 12 Days of Christmas to donna@donnaalward.com. Remember only one entry per e-mail address a day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas...Gail Barrett

Welcome to day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas!


Today's featured author is Gail Barrett, a Silhouette Romantic Suspense author. Here's Gail's Bio:


The nuns in my Catholic elementary school always said that each of us has a gift, a reason we were put here on earth. Our job is to discover what that purpose is. Well, I knew early on that I was meant to be a writer. Who else would spend her childhood grinding sparkling rocks into fairy dust and convince her friends it was real? Or daydream her way through elementary school, spend high school reading philosophy and playing the bagpipes, and then head off to Spain during college to live the writer's life?

After four years in Madrid I straggled back home, broke but fluent in Spanish, and discovered that I'd acquired a marketable skill. So instead of writing, I began teaching Spanish. I also married a Coast Guard Officer and followed him around the country as he rescued ships and saved lives.

The years passed. We had two sons. I earned my master's degree and continued teaching, which I really enjoyed. We met interesting people and acquired a quirky dog.

But the desire to write kept lurking in my mind. That was my dream, what I knew I'd been destined to do -- and yet, I had never done it. Then one day I made a decision. If I wanted to become a published author, I had to stop fantasizing about writing and actually do it.
So I began my first book –- and discovered that writing a saleable novel was much harder than I'd dreamed. Fortunately, I inherited a healthy dose of Irish stubbornness, a strong mid-western work ethic and a love of challenges that helped me persevere.


So here I am at last, just as the nuns instructed and right where I hoped I would be –- writing stories about characters struggling along their own paths of self-discovery. I hope you enjoy their journey home.

Gail's contribution to the 12 Days of Christmas is:





HEART OF A THIEF











You can check out Gail at http://www.gailbarrett.com/

Today's clue is Holly

To enter send the clue to donna@donnaalward.com with the subject line of 12 Days of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas - Pamela Yaye

Here we are at Day 2, with another friend of mine and a member of the Calgary RWA chapter. Pamela Yaye writes for Harlequin's KIMANI line, and I'm thrilled to have a book of hers in the contest.

Here's Pam with a bit about herself:

I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada and my love for reading developed at an early age. My parents, Daniel and Gwendolyn Odidison are both avid readers and encouraged me to read as much as possible. Trips to the public library were the highlight of my week (they still are) and by the time I was in junior high I was reading everything from biographies to romantic suspense to travel magazines.

I got my big “break” when I was only fourteen-years-old. I read one of my poems at my local church and received a standing ovation. Reading my poetry and seeing my plays come to life on stage proved to me that I had a God-given talent for the written word.After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education, I hugged my family goodbye and boarded a plane for Seoul, South Korea. I loved every minute of living in Seoul. The people, the food, the culture, the SHOPPING! Three years later, I returned home with a fresh outlook on life and a handsome fiancĂ© (yeah me!) Jean-Claude and I married, relocated to picturesque Calgary, Alberta and now have an adorable, (she’s mischievous too) daughter, Aysiah, who keeps us very busy!

I penned my first novella while teaching in South Korea and upon the advice of a good friend and colleague I expanded, Other People’s Business, into a full-length novel. I wrote The Trouble With Luv’ soon after. Two years and thirty rejection letters later, I signed with super-agent Sha-Shana Crichton from Crichton and Associates. Six weeks later I had a two-book deal contract with Harlequin’s African-American Romance line, Kimani Books.

Pam's contribution to the prize box is:


HER KIND OF MAN
You can learn more about Pamela and her books at www.pamelayaye.com.
Today's clue is Angel

Monday, December 01, 2008

On The First Day Of Christmas...Rebecca York

Today is December 1, and that means a couple of things. First of all, it means The Rancher's Runaway Princess is available at eharlequin.com and millsandboon.co.uk, in both print and e-book formats. I notice on the M&B site if you buy now you're guaranteed delivery before Christmas. I assume the same is true for Harlequin in North America. Why not treat yourself or grab as a stocking stuffer? :-)

Anyway, enough of promo-ing myself. The other exciting thing happening today is the launch of my 12 Days of Christmas Contest!

Here's what you do. You have a gander at today's featured author, and you find the holiday clue. Then you e-mail me at donna@donnaalward.com with the subject line of "12 Days of Christmas" with the day's clue. One entry per e-mail address per day only. You can come back all 12 days and enter again! And on December 14, I'll be announcing the prize winner.

We're kicking it all off with Day 1 - not a partridge in a pear tree but a New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-selling and award-winning author, REBECCA YORK!

I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca this past October in Calgary at the Calgary RWA chapter fall workshop. We participated in a group signing and I left with three wonderful books for my 12 Days contest.

A bit about Rebecca:

Ever since she can remember, Rebecca York has loved making up stories full of adventure, romance, and suspense. As a child she corralled her friends into adventure games or acted out romantic suspense stories with a cast of dolls. But she never assumed she could be an author because she couldn't spell. Her life changed dramatically with the invention of the word processor and spelling checker--and the help of her husband, Norman Glick, who spots spelling errors from fifty paces away.

She and her husband live in Columbia, Maryland. They have two grown children, Elissa (a librarian) and Ethan (a Foreign Service Officer), and two grandsons, Jesse and Leo. Rebecca holds a B. A. in American Thought and Civilization from The George Washington University and an M. A. in American Studies from The University of Maryland. She heads the Columbia Writers Workshop. She is profiled in Who's Who in America, Contemporary Authors, and Who's Who of American Women.

Rebecca's books in this package are:





Christmas Spirit











Ghost Moon (Part of the Moon Series)













Beyond Fearless







You can read more about Rebecca and her books at http://www.rebeccayork.com/.

Today's clue is Mistletoe

Send the clue in an e-mail to donna@donnaalward.com to be entered!

And come back tomorrow for our next author!