Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday

I'm not sure where the week has gone. Suddenly it is Thursday! Yesterday was a flurry of writing bits and kids off and parent teacher interviews and errands. But today I made myself focus and the good news is I've finished chapter 3 of the current WIP, and sent it off to my cp. Rumour has it I could be into revisions soon, so now I'm going to put together a synopsis so I can have my editor have a peek while I'm revising. I mean we wouldn't want her twiddling her thumbs all day. LOL Heck, I know she's busier than a one-armed paper hanger, but the goal was to have this ready for her and ready it is. Or shall be, once I write the synop and see what my CP has to say.

I also stumbled upon Paul Potts' music. Those of you across the pond might be saying I'm a late bloomer, but bear in mind we don't get Britain's Got Talent over here. Anyway, I liked listening to the bits I heard a lot and ordered his cd's. They are just the kind of thing I like listening to as I'm writing. I haven't looked into it, but I'm guessing Simon Cowell was heavily involved in Potts' record deal. Many of the songs on the cd's are ones Cowell's creation Il Divo have done and if you look at Potts' latest video, there are many similarities to Il Divo's first video for Regresa a mi.

Tomorrow I will be announcing the winner of April's contest, so if you haven't yet entered, get on the ball. Once I get up in the morning, you've lost your chance. :-)

Now I'm thinking there was more to say and my mind has gone blank. Perhaps because I'm mentally going over the running around to do - take dd2 to yoga class (which is brill - dd2 and I get a half hour of non-interrupted reading as we wait), come home and make a quick dinner of spaghetti and salad, have dd2 back for badminton at 6, home, walk dog, read to girls, maybe have an hour to myself before bed...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gadding about town...

Working on: Chapter 3 of PPBA
Listening to: Il Divo, The Promise
Reading: Breaking Dawn, and a backlog of magazines

I'm gadding about town today - first at the Pink Heart Society with some gorgeous pics of my latest setting and perhaps a wee bit of nostalgia. :-)


Then, I'm over at Kate Walker's blog talking about those delectable Alpha Heroes - and the Romance line version of them. Alphas aren't just for Presents/Modern. Come on over - there are tons of authors discussing these heroes, and not much wonder - we love 'em.


It's also week 3 at Ingela Hyatt's Romantic Ramblings blog - come join us during her Ask An Author promotion! This week's question asks the authors which one of their characters they would like to meet in real life! There's a copy of The Rancher's Runaway Princess up for grabs this week as well...



Finally - The Pink Heart Society Reviews has reviewed HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE and given it 5 Hearts. Donna B, the reviewer, said "Donna Alward once again shows her command of the written word. She draws you right into this wonderful love story." She also said some great things about my choice of subject matter... You can read the whole review etc. HERE.




Have a good day...I'm off to work!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back, refreshed

Working on: The Playboy Prince's Bedroom Assignment
Listening to: The washer's spin cycle
Reading: Breaking Dawn

Thursday brought a ray of sunshine in the form of my RT magazine. I was more than pleased when I checked the June reviews and saw that HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE got a 4! And the reviewer had this to say: “A lovely setting, well-written characters and a completely believable conflict make for an engaging read.” Colour me stupendously happy with that.

This past weekend my mum and stepdad were here for a visit. Friday was work for a few hours in the morning, then rushing out for groceries and trying to clean the house. They arrived in time for supper.

Saturday I took them shopping and I had a few errands and so we were gone most of the day. When we got back, my lovely husband had made a turkey dinner! All that was left to do was peel and slice carrots. He had potatoes, squash, dressing, turkey, gravy and fresh rolls all prepared. I made sweet scone dough for strawberry shortcake. Mmmm! Yesterday the parents took a drive to see some friends, so I did some laundry and read. And then we had supper which was balsamic steak skewers, garlic butter scallops (both done on the barbeque) and salads. Poor stepdad, he likes fish but my mum doesn't, so when he visits I try to accommodate. I'm not a big fish eater myself but salmon and scallops are two things I can do quite happily.

Both mornings I got up early and walked the dog, and it was GORGEOUS. The birds are back for the summer and the noise is spectacular. Woodpeckers are laughing at each other and the pheasants are squawking night and day. On Sunday before I ever left our driveway I saw robins, starlings, blue jays and downy woodpeckers. Then there were the chickadees, the yellow warblers, cedar waxwings, dark-eyed juncos and pheasants on the walk. And I swear I heard an owlet in the woods. Nothing else I can imagine would screech like that. And the ospreys were out circling on Saturday. The only thing I didn't see this weekend were the neighbourhood deer.

But the parents have headed back home again, and I'm back to work. The house needs some love too and I have clothes to hang on the line.

But first - the latest read reviewed!

I finished Eclipse last night. In some ways, I liked this book better than New Moon. Things that I wanted to happen happened - in other words, if I had put my characters in this situation, this is just how I'd get them out. That's not to say it was predictable - I certainly wasn't sure if Meyer would take the route I wanted, but I felt satisfied when she did, for the most part. There also seemed to be a depth to this one that perhaps was missing in the others. The emotions were REAL. I liked how Bella could see Edwards faults and also Jacob's and more importantly, her own. There was one aspect of her relationship with Jacob I would have changed, but I can live with it.

There was a depth to the plotting too that I liked. I loved hearing Jasper's story. You get the sense in the other books that while he's the newest "vegetarian", there is a purity about him. Finding out the truth was cool. I also really wanted the La Push gang and the Cullens to somehow work together - after all, they were facing a common enemy, and it was good how that happened. And while Jacob at times seemed immature, the conversation he has with Edward in the tent was FANTASTIC. There is a line that mentions that if they hadn't been so different, they might have been friends in another life/situation. It reminded me of Band of Brothers where one of the Easy Company men said he wasn't any different from the Germans, and that if they hadn't been on different sides they might have had things in common that made them friends.

Overall I thought there were glimpses of more complexity and depth and I really liked it.

Now I'm on to Breaking Dawn. There seem to be two camps on this - those that hate how Meyer wrapped it up, and those that love it. All I know is that the Volturi are going to be a formidable adversary.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In threes...and fourths

Troubles not only in threes, but fourths it seems as well.

I am going to be taking a brief hiatus from the blog as things get straightened away. In my absence, pop over to Kate Walker's blog because I will be putting in an appearance there sometimes soon I think, and she's having a riveting discussion on the alpha hero. There's also the Pink Heart Society - a guaranteed mood booster.

***update***

That will teach me to be cryptic. Thanks to all of you for the "are you ok" e-mails since I posted. :-) I am. So is our family.

But when you live away for so long, like we did in Calgary, you CHOOSE a family, and members of that family we found and love are going through some horrible, horrible things right now. We lost a friend last night, quite unexpectedly, and as I mentioned, things come in threes so my head is really just kind of spinning and turning over and over.

My energies are simply going there for a few days, and also with my own family. All the news has made me want to hug them even closer.

I'll be back next week.

Give me five - and troubles

I really hope bad news does not come in threes. Over the last few days we've had some sad news that has personally left me quite affected. It is hard to watch friends go through something heartbreaking. Harder to know there is nothing you can do to make it better but be a voice on the other end of the phone or keyboard. The first news came last Friday, the second last night. I'm kind of afraid of what might happen next.

When this kind of thing happens, I feel a little bit guilty for being, well, me. I've got it good. But it can turn on a dime, as I've seen recently. So rather than being guilty, I'm just going to be thankful. I don't know what's around the bend. For right now, I'm one fortunate chick. So God, if you're listening, thank you for my great husband, wonderful kids, the best friends on the planet, the opportunity to do this job for a living and this beautiful piece of earth that I can call home.

Speaking of being thankful, this brings me to my latest Give Me Five post. That's when I get paid and donate 5 percent of my earnings to charity. This time it was a no brainer as I got the reminder in the mailbox a few weeks ago and it is a cause to which I am always happy to donate.

This month I'm supporting the St. Thomas University Giving Campaign - more specifically, the Fenton Burke Memorial Bursary. This award is given to an undergrad who is majoring in English and is awarded based on academic standing.

I know I was thankful for bursaries during university as it definitely helped me make ends meet. And Fenton Burke was perhaps my favourite professor of all. Even then, he was ill, but it didn't stop his passion for teaching, his caring for the students, or his dry wit.

Professor Burke opened each class the same way...with a brief summary of what we talked about last time. And then he'd say..."Comments? Questions? Observations?" It was expected. One day my best friend and I were sitting in class and we mouthed along with him, and he caught us. And laughed. I think he appreciated our cheek.

In fourth year, I went to him about attending the Atlantic English Undergrad Conference, and he put my name forward not for Creative Writing - which I considered much easier, actually - but to present a paper on Adam Bede (almost all of which I have now forgotten, lol!). He had confidence in me. It wasn't much wonder I took just about every course I could from him, and from Professor Thornton, who nurtured my creative side and put the idea of being a writer into my head all those years ago. That year I was awarded the Creative Writing Prize for English and also got a scholarship to attend a week long Writer's Conference at UNB.

St. Thomas is a small liberal arts university on the same campus as the University of New Brunswick, but the education I received there was top notch. I was not just a number filling a seat, but a student willing to learn and who was taught, not lectured to. Learning was exciting, thought provoking, and fun.

Knowing how important those years were for me, I can't think of a better cause than assisting a student with the cost of their secondary education.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inspiration

Working on: The Playboy Prince's Bedroom Assignment
Listening to: Il Divo - The Promise (get used to it, it is my soundtrack for this book)
Reading: Eclipse

I have launched into writing chapter one - will admit, the research has been fun but distracting and time consuming. But I am definitely enjoying Christoff and Evangeline.

A VERY good friend sent me some more pics of the Bamber as Christoff, and I found them very inspiring. I thought today I'd show you some of the moods of Christoff.

The Deep Thinker

The "Don't Mess with the Prince" Look


The "I'm Thinking about Kissing You" Look
The Relaxed and Hanging out Look

The "All Business/Press Conference" Look


Do I need to say anything here?


Now that I'm suitably inspired, I'm off to make my word count....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday....ouch!

Working on: The Playboy Prince's Bedroom Assignment
Listening to: Il Divo - The Promise
Reading - STILL Eclipse

The Ask an Author interviews continue today with week 2 on Ingela Hyatt's blog - Romantic Ramblings. If you want to find out what era your favourite authors (including me) would choose for a month long vacation in the past, pop on over and find out!

Not much has changed in my "working on etc." lines over the weekend as I was horrendously busy but in a good way. The weather was cool but clear and so Friday afternoon and evening I cleaned the house top to bottom with the exclusion of the back hall/half bath. I finished that up Saturday morning and then immediately went outside to begin staining the front railings. It took me 3 hours, all alone as the dh and kidlets went with a buddy to pick up lawn fertilizer and random other items.

The girls had tea at a friend's house in the afternoon, and I then planted dahlias around our tree stump and started the yucky job of picking rocks - which I did until 4 p.m. It is so rocky here I never even left our yard and the good news is if we decide to expand the lawn I have already removed a lot of rock. I got the border of the dahlias done and about half of the big perennial bed. I do like the look of a rock border as it is neat and tidy and also makes mowing so much easier. Then it was making supper and tidying up and oh yes, I'd washed bedspreads and hung them on my newly fixed clothesline. A busy day. So busy I nearly fell asleep watching Brideshead Revisited later that night while sipping a lovely Pinot Noir. (Brideshead was good, not spectacular but the casting was wonderful and it was nicely shot all told.)

Yesterday I was out picking rocks by 9 a.m. so I could finish before 10, I hung out a load of whites and then we were off to the park with friends, kids and dogs. Dreamer went for a swim (Brrrr!) and had the best time. She is truly a water dog and was mostly dry by the time we got back to the truck. We stopped at the newly opened garden centre and stocked up on shrubs as well, which was unplanned. So after lunch, I put the second coat of stain on the railings (this time, it only took 2 hours instead of 3) and then we started planting - a bleeding heart in each of the side beds, heather in dd1's bed, four boxwoods in front of the house, and then in the big perennial bed, a lilac, firebush, and 2 more rhododendrons.

I came inside, made supper, cleaned up, and had NO problem sleeping again.

Now I'm off to hang out more clothes - the weather is supposed to turn wet for the next few days - and get to that word count!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Book, New Soundtrack

Working on: The Playboy Prince's Bedroom Assignment
Listening to: Il Divo, The Promise
Reading: Eclipse

Today's a busy day - I had a dental appt and then a meeting at the bank and a stop at the post office, and after school the eldest has a dental appt too which requires a liquid diet and tylenol, as well as yoga class for the youngest etc. And I just remembered I washed a load of clothes and need to put them in the dryer - my clothesline will hopefully be fixed this weekend.

I am over at the Pink Heart Society talking about a new CD and one that is featuring in part in my new "soundtrack" for the new book. Some gorgeous sweeping melodies and orchestrations, pop over and have a peek at my review.

And I LOVE the new Il Divo album. I will admit they totally disappointed me live. The stage show was bland and there were some pitch problems as well. But my new cd came with a dvd as well and in the interview Carlos talks about how this album is different, and I would agree with his assessment. I think it is the best of the four (if you include their Christmas album). I was particularly touched at their version of Hallelujah - Aleluya. I saw it on the track list and thought oh no. But they treat it with reverence and sensitivity, and I could listen to Urs all day:



So I will be listening to it a LOT writing this book I imagine.

Last night I watched Nights In Rodanthe and was reminded why I don't like Nicholas Sparks very much. Actually I loved the Notebook movie but it had a happy ending of sorts. And I will admit, I cried towards the end of Nights in Rodanthe, and there were some beautiful mother-daughter moments as well.

But you know, I'd rather have the happy ending. If you don't mind being SPOILED, read ahead...

All that aside, I probably could have forgiven the ending if the rest of the movie had been riveting. But I was bored. It was a beautiful story but lacking in real conflict. There was lots bringing these two together, but not many reasons keeping them apart. I mean on Adrienne's (sp?) side, she had her ex being an idiot, and dealing with single mom stuff. And for his part, he was dealing with his failures. But there was nothing about THEM as a unit keeping them apart. The tension, for me, was not about "how are they going to overcome the problem to be together at the end." It was "la la la nice love story, so when and how is one of them going to bite it because I know there is not a happy ending". (I was right. About which one, not the method).

Right - now I'm off to try to get some work done in the one hour I have left...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The secret we've always known...

The world is clueing in to what we romance writers and readers have always known:

ROMANCE ROCKS.

Harlequin's 60th anniversary is well underway, and so is our recession, but sales are going nowhere but UP.

The last few weeks especially the media has been expressing happy surprise at the way Harlequin is reporting record sales during these tough economic times.

The latest is a segment on ABC's Nightline - which is a great piece, and does concede that Romance does come from Canada. LOL. Favourite bits include Gena Showalter being told she looks innocent and yet naughty, one cover model that looks a lot like Greg Vaughn, and readings by male celebrities. Paul Rudd is fabulous and my personal favourite is Martin Bashir reading from Michelle Douglas's Harlequin Romance - The Aristocrat and the Single Mom.

Other great press is an article from the NY Times - Donna Hayes (Harlequin's CEO) must be floating on air - and on the Today Show where it is called "Tall Tales of Lusty Love", tongue firmly in cheek.

Today has been a crazy day. E-mails, doing a post for the PHS tomorrow, writing a short bit that will appear in cyber space soon, and running out to Best Buy for the new Il Divo CD. I heard a few songs and knew I had to have it for the new book. :-)

Mostly I'm feeling very upbeat about it all, which is very very nice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More research...


This is the funnest (LOL) part of starting a new story - research and discovery, looking for places and things and figuring out my characters. I now have a name for the book: The Playboy Prince's Bedroom Assigment. I guess from the title you can guess this one is slightly hotter than my Romances. Let's just say I'm getting on board with this so I hope what I turn in for sample chapters WORKS.



So, my hero's name is Christoff Ducati and my heroine is the lovely Evangeline Browning. I've created a fictional principality in Europe, and i'm having great fun googling stuff. In my first pic, he looked a bit uptight. He's really not. He's got an infectious smile that turns women's knees to jelly.



Here's Christoff's family home. It's a small shack in the middle of the country. The country itself is landlocked and has borders of France, Italy and Switzerland. :-)




Christoff also drives a very nice car. I caught a glimpse of an Aston Martin on tv the other night and thought it would be perfect. I watched video of this car today. Let's just say the exhaust note nearly did me in. Christoff will be driving the V8 coupe with the sportshift. Purrrrrrrrr.




Evangeline is quite impressed by all this even if they do get off to an...unusual beginning. However, Christoff will be taking her on a tour of the country so she will get to see some great sights...cathedrals, the alps, and vineyards.
















I can hardly wait.

Blogging and Casting



Working on: Prep work for new story
Listening to: Yanni Voices
Reading: Eclipse

I'm over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today, talking about what insanity I've been indulging in since meeting my deadline on April 1. There's a free book up for grabs as well, so pop on over.

Part of that insanity has been finishing up edits on a story I wrote a while back but which was put on the backburner while I did the novella and the Larch Valley duet. I finished that up yesterday - tick that one off the list. And my editor and I have been chatting a bit about a new idea and so that is where I'm at today - trying to figure out who these people are, what matters most, and why being thrown together is going to change EVERYTHING.

The first thing I did after getting a VERY general sense of the characters is casting. Maybe it is my Twilight thing going on right now, but it did provide the perfect casting for my heroine, and I finally, FINALLY! get to put my fangirliness to good use when I realized Jamie Bamber could be a great hero.

So here's my casting, for my as yet working title-less story:




I smell trouble, don't you?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A proud aunty - and a laugh at my BIL's expense

Working on: Edits for BAWB
Listening to: Yanni Voices
Reading: Eclipse

Was just talking to my mum and found out that my niece, who is graduating from university this year, just got a huge scholarship for her Masters degree. Hooray! Congrats, Robin!

And in the same conversation, it was revealed that my brother in law made the dressing for the turkey yesterday, and it didn't taste quite right. Kid number 1 - the scholarship winner - suspected a bag might be missing from the freezer. Indeed it was, and she returned to inform the crowd that her father had made the dressing out of....

homemade dog treats.

I am SO not going to let him live this one down. After years of looking for ammo, I can't wait to see him again *rubs hands together gleefully!* !

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book Blog 23 - New Moon


This weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to finish New Moon.

All told, I actually enjoyed this one more than Twilight. I was caught in the first chapter and it seemed to move quite smoothly for me. I grieved with Bella when Edward left, and I have to admit I laughed when I reached the pages that read only with the name of the month - letting us know that when we picked up again, it was months later. I didn't have any problem with Bella's depression, and probably because her relationship with Edward is not an ordinary relationship. It is, by its very nature, over the top intense, and so her reaction is as well. Bella is old for her years as well, acting like an adult before her time in many ways, and so the violence of her grief for him didn't jar me.


I did however like the dynamic between her and Jacob, and I found her feelings for him...wanting there to be more, wondering if it was okay to settle...very realistic. She cares about him deeply, she trusts him and relies on him. Is it necessary that he be a great passion like Edward? And she's almost RELIEVED when she finds out his secret. It is hard not to like Jacob. He is a good kid, and so is Edward, even if they are on opposite sides.


But here is where we get to a part that DID jar me and once again I've been thinking why this is so. The sudden switch to a storyline that is not Bella/Jacob/Victoria and back to a Bella/Edward was too sharp and unrelated. Edward's reappearance was very loosely connected to what was going on back in Forks, and suddenly Bella is whisked off to Italy without a word to Jacob. The switch was too abrupt.


Once again I think it is one of the risks of being in first person. We do learn what Edward has been doing all this time, etc. but only once the high stakes storyline is somewhat resolved and Edward is safe again. Bella couldn't know what he was doing because they had no contact. But if we'd been in a third person POV, the thread of Edward tracking Victoria and going off course would have made perfect sense and led up to the crisis so much better. It would have been fantastic to have been privy to Edward receiving the bad news from Rosalie as well and all that led to the trip to Italy, rather than experiencing it second hand through Alice. I wanted to SEE Edward make his request to the Volturi, and see his reaction when he decided what he had to do. It would have been SO powerful.


First person can be so limiting, and while I LOVE having Bella's voice and POV, in each book there has always been a distinct disadvantage at not being able to see the other side of the coin.
BUT, that being said, the twist at the end has stuck in my mind and I am dying to find out how Bella can get what she wants and still keep the treaty between the Quileutes and the Cullens.

Ask An Author with Ingela Hyatt!


Before I get started for the week - a heads up about an online event I'm taking part in. Many of the authors involved are donating books for giveaway, so it's worth it to take a minute to pop over to Ingela's blog and see what's happening.


Ask An Author & Win!


Ingela Hyatt isd excited to announce a new segment which she'll be hosting on her Romantic Ramblings blog: Ask An Author!


Beginning on Monday, April 13th, you'll get to learn some interesting facts about some of the newest and brightest stars in the Romance Industry...


Have you ever wandered what Phoebe Conn's favorite "guilty" pleasure is? Or if Michelle Beattie could travel back in time, what Era she'd visit? Have you ever wandered what's the coolest thing that has ever happened to Nancy Haddock?


For the next ten weeks, you'll learn some funny and interesting secrets about these romance writers:
Kate Alister
Donna Alward
Michelle Beattie
Terry Irene Blain
Elaine Charton
Phoebe Conn/ Cinnamon Burke
Michele Dunaway
Nancy Haddock
Kelley Heckart
Ingela F. Hyatt
Paty Jager
Elizabeth L'Inconnu
Sherry Lewis
Carrie Lofty
Bess McBride
Shelley Mosley/Deborah Shelley
Jacquie Rogers
Patricia Sargeant
Patti Shenberger
Elizabeth Sinclair
Roxanne (RG Willems) Snopek
Michele Stegman


PLUS each week you'll get a chance to WIN Romance novels!


All you have to do is leave a comment with our authors, or ask a question of your own (which could be used in the next Ask An Author segment). The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win.


Watch for Ask An Author, starting April 13th, for your chance to discover new authors, and win fabulous prizes!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter

Working on: Editing A Bride at Willow Bend
Listening to: Josh Groban (BAWB music!)
Reading: New Moon

I'm enjoying New Moon a lot so far, but my dentist is far too efficient. Between checking in, getting frozen, and waiting for a piece of equipment to come online, I read exactly 2 pages. I expect I will finish it this weekend.

And I'm carrying on with my editing, which is good. It will feel good to know this book is ready whenever it is time to submit, instead of a chore waiting to be done possibly when I'm in the middle of something else. By the end of next week, it should be good to go.

I have lots of projects to choose from at the moment; finishing Sold to the Highest Bidder which you can see still on my word count meter in the sidebar, then a proposal for something different for my editor, and the single title idea that still has got me in its grip. So it should be good. I also have to put together some things for May and June as I'm participating in an author panel on May 23, and doing a short workshop (during a full day event) for my RWA chapter in June. No rest for the wicked, but if I didn't have something new to work on it would drive me crazy.

I probably won't post for a few days as the family is taking some time away from work and to-do lists for the Easter weekend. I hope you all have a good weekend and come back to next week refreshed, like I hope to!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lake Louise on my cover!

Working on: Edits of A Bride at Willow Bend
Listening to: Josh Groban - Awake
Reading: New Moon - Stephanie Meyer

More odd jobs ongoing. I have some books and prizes to mail today, and a mystery parcel waiting at the post office for me to pick up. I have a chapter to critique this morning, and I am working on editing A Bride at Willow Bend. It is my option book for Romance, that I wrote last spring and summer. But I only had time to write the first draft, so I am going through again. And enjoying it a lot - remembering why Gina and Dante were such lovely characters to work with.

It is also a gorgeous spring day, and the pheasants are trumpeting around the neighbourhood with thoughts of love on their minds. It really is quite funny to hear all the racket and see all the strutting going on. Last night when I was taking my daughter down to the church, a pair was scuttling into the bushes. It made me laugh. My daffodils are up but not budded, but the neighbours swath of crocuses is stunning. It makes me want to grab my rake and start some gardening - maybe I'll do that after the kids are home this afternoon.
Yesterday the mail man delivered a small box to my door which turned out to be my large print copies of Hired: The Italian's Bride. This is the first time I've seen the North American edition and I laughed out loud when I saw the picture on the back cover. It is of the Chateau Lake Louise, somewhere I've been many times. In an odd way, it makes me proud to be a Canadian writer and to have the ability to showcase my country to the world. Other covers have had lighthouses or rolling ranch land, but you can find that anywhere. Lake Louise is different. It is truly Canadian. :-)

And on the inside my November novella is advertised. It always gives me a bit of a start when these things happen, and then a smile. They've done such a great job of promo-ing it that I'll let you in on what it says:

In November, queen of the rugged rancher Patricia Thayer
and sparkling new talent Donna Alward
team up to bring you an extraspecial Christmas treat -
two stories in one volume for double the romance!

Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage

Join sisters Amelia and Kelley for Christmas at Rocking H Ranch,
where these feisty cowgirls swap presents for proposals,
mistletoe for marriage, and experience the unbeatable rush
of falling in love.

Praise for Patricia Thayer:

"Patricia Thayer offers readers a rich reading experience with emotional power, fresh characters and passion." Romantic Times Book Reviews

Praise for Donna Alward:

"Talented Donna Alward weaves a gorgeous secluded setting, intense suspenseful plot and well developed characters into a most rewarding read." Cataromance.com

And don't forget to look out for Christmas extras at the end of each story!

Isn't that just wowie wow wow?????!

I am really looking forward to seeing the cover of this one too. It'll be my first Christmas cover.

Anyway I'd better get to it, Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Book Blog -- Twilight


The biggest YA since Harry Potter reeled me in too.... for my 22nd book of the year.

I am really enjoying reading a lot of YA lately. It is one thing my girls and I now do together and it is so fun. At night we read together - right now it's Narnia, which I haven't read since I was a child and so am rediscovering almost from scratch, to be honest.

But I bought the Twilight series for ME. And then I will let the girls read it later.

There's a lot of hype surrounding these books and now I get it. I'll admit - for the first 7 chapters or so I really didn't. I didn't like Edward. (Gasp!) He did a lot of smirking and other negative body language. Bella was drawn to him but at the same time she felt extremely excluded...he kept laughing at her and she did not know why. Building this great love and attraction just didn't work for me during that segment.

But then it all turned around. And it happened when Bella and Edward actually started spending time together. Having conversations, even if they were frustrating. In essence, actually interacting.

It did bring to mind why in category we are told to bring the heroine and hero together asap. Because for me, that's when the story began. I actually think you could take the first hundred pages and cut them for pacing. Is some of it necessary? Absolutely. But it could have been much tighter. And the reason we need to see them together has a great deal to do with the fact that we're in first person. Once Bella and Edward start talking, then we get to see the WHY behind some of Edward's actions. We can't see that before because we're always in Bella's head and so he seems like a jerk. It is a challenge of first person writing and I think it's part of the reason why the first chunk was disappointing.

The turning point, again, for ME, seemed to be the trip to Port Angeles. Suddenly we have upped the stakes. Bella is in danger. Edward is there. Bella seems to be clueing in to the fact that he's "different". They have dinner. Edward drives like a maniac...ok, finally, here is the sexy, enigmatic, bad boy that girls DREAM of capturing. He is EXCITING. He likes her, a lot. He is a protector. He has an edge of danger. Yes, yes, yes.

And towards the end it got even better. I can't wait to see how Jasper develops. Jasper made me cry. When he tells Bella that she IS worth it, I was so touched. And there were a few other spots where I was sniffly too, towards the end.

Now, as a final note, I've also seen the movie. There are some great things about it that the book could have benefited from, actually. For one, in the movie, you know about the danger from "the others" as there are a few unexplained deaths. That is a crucial tie that should have been in the book. It is the plausibility factor that links the others with the anxiety of the native tribe and puts the family in jeopardy of being discovered. When Carlisle says their hunting habits have caused problems, it doesn't make sense in the context of the book like it does in the movie.
But a few things that the movie left out that I loved in the book was a slightly bigger development of Emmett who comes across as beefcake in the film but in the book is very loyal to Edward and supportive of Bella and actually quite FUN. He has a playful side you don't get to see. As well, the link between James and Alice was FANTASTIC and I would have liked to have seen that. It does explain why Alice does not remember being human before she was turned.

A long review this time but I am very much looking forward to New Moon.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday Madness

Is it just me, or is it hard to focus when you don't have to focus?

I'll explain what I mean. Now that my book is in, that tight focus I had to maintain for several weeks is suddenly relaxed. At first it felt great. Like getting outdoors after a week of rain and letting the sun on your face. Not that I equate writing this last book to a week of rain, on the contrary. I quite enjoyed writing it. But stepping out into the sun, blinking at the bright light and feeling the freedom of it is very much how I was feeling last Thursday.

But suddenly tons of other jobs started piling up. Jobs that I could very easily put aside a whole month to accomplish (not all writing, by the way). Things that when I was very deadlined could think about and say, "When I finish I'm going to do this and this and this" and be excited about it.

Only now those jobs are feeling a little overwhelming and I'm missing the focus bit.

(Not only that, but I've now spent 5 days without writing. I'm itching to get back into the swing of things. A lot of writers will tell you they need a break to refill the well after writing a book. They'll also tell you that break usually doesn't last as long as you think it will. For me, usually about half the time. Or less. So I thought I'd take a week, 10 days to not write. Day 5 and I'm squirrely. O-K.)

There are projects I want - need - to get to work on. Yesterday's RWAC meeting kind of drove that home - there's nothing like spending an afternoon with a group of writers to get you pumped for what's next and to generate ideas (especially the chat that happens after the meeting is officially over...) So today *should* be the last day for me to fritter time on "odd jobs" work-wise. Tomorrow I will be looking at increasing word count once again.

Incidentally, there's a Male On Monday post over at the PHS that fits in with the book I'm reading. :-)

Now I'm off to call the accountant and cross more things off my list. But before I go, a shout out to Hazel whose e-mail I received yesterday and who made my weekend. Hazel and I met in Saskatoon when I did a workshop there what feels like EONS ago. And she reads this blog (which was what the note was about) and so Hazel, if you're reading this, thanks for the note and lovely thoughts! :-)

Check in tomorrow.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Drive by posting

Holy smokes, where do the hours go? For some reason I cannot seem to get as much done as I set out to do....

But developments have been made. Congrats to Judy Cox who has won the March contest. Her prize will go in the mail next week.

For April's contest, send me an e-mail with the subject line April Contest and tell me the name of the town where Hired: The Italian's Bride is set (hint - you can find the answer on my site). I'll draw at the end of the month. The winner will get:

1 Donna Alward pen
1 Donna Alward keychain
a Hired: The Italian's Bride magnet
bookmarks
and an advance signed copy of Hired: The Italian's Bride!

I have also been to the grocery store and done some laundry and caught up on some other paperwork type things. The initial euphoria of handing in the book has worn off though, and I'm now in the post-book sleep for three days thing only without the sleeping.

My website has been updated as well, and I delivered a bag of hand-me-downs to goodwill. I guess it's not all a bust....

I'll be back after the weekend.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

G-O-N-E

Working on: laundry and to-do list
Listening to: nothing -waiting for the house to clear out
Reading: Twilight

The manuscript is GONE!!!!!!!!!! Along with synopsis and a page of pics that I had saved during my research. Heard from my editor that it arrived safe and sound, so I'm feeling very happy.

So, I started reading Twilight last night and will reserve judgment until I reach the end. I also cheated and fed my family chicken fingers for dinner. I didn't get the ms sent until 4:30, so tonight I will be Mrs. Domesticity and make a proper meal. I also have laundry already on the go.

Otherwise I'm tackling a to-do list of odd jobs including updating my site and sending out my newsletter and drawing my latest contest winner. Stay tuned for all those developments hopefully later today!

Now I'm off to do the school run and dog walk. It is our last day of sun for a while so I plan to enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Cruel April Fool's Joke and some news....

Reading: Twilight, starting the moment this book is sent
Listening to: Just got back from my walk, and the birds were crazy and lovely
Working on: the polishing round of deadline book due today



TWILIGHT (and the rest of the series) finally arrived yesterday! It is my reward for finishing this book, and I will not open it until after I've hit the send button. See it sitting there so prettily on my bookcase?


I am taking a few days "off" which means reading, and also a list of things to do that have gone by the wayside over the last few weeks because of the deadline.


This morning as the dh and I were in bed after the alarm, listening to the news, the broadcaster announced that due to all the storm days the school year was being extended to July 10 so that the instructional days requirement would be met.


After I picked my jaw up from the footboard, well. I went ballistic. We have friends coming - the whole family - the day after school is out. Plane tickets have been purchased. And I went on about how there were so many other options to make up time than extending the school year, etc. etc. Even the dh was quite put out.


Then my youngest came out of bed with a cute smile and said, Hey, April Fool's Day!


And the lightbulb went on.


Sure enough, it's all an April Fool's Joke and they got me GOOD. School will be ending on June 29 as planned.


ANYHOO Can't stay long as I have the final pass to make on this ms. However I did say there was some news and so I should share that before I go. The bad news is that half a book I had sent my editor that was NOT for Romance was ultimately rejected. However she explained why it didn't work in depth and it was all stuff I suspected might be problematic (which is why I wanted her to look at the first half anyway). But the silver lining is that while it clearly does not fit this line, it does not mean it might not eventually find a home somewhere, so I'm going to finish it anyway and just have fun with it.


The GOOD news is that Rescued By The Rancher has been accepted! Yay! No more work (besides copy edits). I'm still waiting for official word on the title and release date so I'll share that once I know.


Now I'm off to whip this into shape and get it sent. Happy April Fool's Day!