Monday, November 30, 2009

It's GONE!

Another book finished and waiting for my editor!

I have a huge to-do list for December but I'm looking forward to wading my way through it!  It feels SO good not to have a deadline right after the holidays!

On The First Day of Christmas - Susan Lyons


I thought it would be great to kick off the contest with a fellow Canadian!  Today you get to meet Susan Lyons.  I met Susan briefly in Washington DC this past summer and she is a petite bundle of energy! 

Susan's contribution to the prize pack is super appropriate since it also has the theme of The 12 Days of Christmas.  Thanks Susan for taking part in the contest!  Without further ado:


Award-winning author Susan Lyons writes sexy romance that’s passionate, heartwarming, and fun. She is published by Kensington Aphrodisia, Berkley Heat, Kensington Brava (as Susan Fox), Harlequin Spice Briefs, The Wild Rose Press, and Freya’s Bower. She has degrees in law and psychology and has had a variety of careers, but fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor. Visit Susan’s website at http://www.susanlyons.ca for excerpts, discussion guides, behind-the-scenes notes, contests, and give-aways.




UNWRAP ME (Kensington Aphrodisia) is an anthology of three sexy holiday stories (written by Susan Lyons, Melissa MacNeal, and Melissa Randall). In Susan’s novella, “Unwrap Me,” heroine Jude Benedetto is a Christmas Grinch. She says the holiday is crass and commercial, but the deeper truth is a soul-deep pain over being abandoned at Christmastime. Twice. Her answer is to banish Christmas from her life. But her girlfriend has other plans. She sends Jude a very special Secret Santa gift: hot firefighter, Nick Buchanan. Named after St. Nick, he’s a huge fan of Christmas. Waging a campaign based on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” he has twelve very sexy days and nights to persuade Jude to open her heart and trust in him, and to rediscover the loving spirit of Christmas.


Today's Clue is WRAPPING PAPER.

To enter, send me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com with the clue as the subject line !  Only one entry per person per day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

TOMORROW!

The TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CONTEST starts tomorrow!

Don't forget to visit and read about our first author and find out what fab book she's donated to the prize!

The countdown is on...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Around the blogosphere...

Working on:  Edits of Doorstep Baby
Listening to:  PD Day at school; so the annoyance that is League of Super Evil is on the tv
Reading: Still the Eloisa James.  I need a couple of solid reading days after this book goes in

I haven't read all week.  Well, not beyond some research materials and my own manuscript as I edit away.  At some point next week, once this book is handed in, I'm taking a few afternoons and curling up with a book.  I am going to INDULGE.  Even if I can't take a few solid days to read, I want to work in the morning (so many odd jobs to do in December!) and take a few hours in the afternoon before the kids get home to get lost in a book or two.  Or three.

Last night we hit a sale and I got the 2 main things we were planning on getting for the kids, so I am that much closer to finishing Christmas shopping.  Then after they were in bed, I finished up a pair of mittens I am knitting for Christmas.  One more pair to go.  I did start to watch Northanger Abbey as I knit - which I'm enjoying A Lot.

And today, it is hopefully going through the last six chapters of the ms.  Tonight is the company Christmas party, so I'd really like to finish this pass so I can do one more refining pass before it goes in (plus I have to write a synopsis). 

So...while I'm doing that stuff, you can visit me at The Pink Heart Society for Must Watch Friday and see what I watched recently in the name of research.  And you can also pop over to Tawny Weber's blog for my Quick Six interview that should be up later this morning.

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Presale - In time for Black Friday!

It  came to my attention today that the January releases are available as a presale item in the eharlequin Ebookstore!  So you can actually go get One Dance With The Cowboy NOW!  Six weeks before official in store release. 

Normally it would be next week I think, but with Black Friday and all...

I am working away on editing Doorstep Baby and mostly making tweaks. It really is true that you know more at the end and then can layer better when you go back through.  Little things that made sense at the time now don't support the ending motivation, but they are easy changes that I hope will strengthen things. 

It is also the time to make the most of little touches, throwaway things that can now take on a bigger meaning and actually work to show changes within the character arc. 

In some ways, this is one of my favourite parts of a story.  I hope my CP doesn't read this - she'll laugh that I actually admitted that!

Carrying on...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



THE END THE END THE END!

I have written the end of Doorstep Baby!  This means I have until Monday to tweak and adjust and polish.  We won't mention the time I won't be working this weekend as it is the company party etc, but a girl has to have a break now and again. 

Word count came in just dandy too.  Because I had to add a scene and a half or so to chapters 10 and 11, and one I wasn't anticipating in 12, I ended up just shy of 49k.  Snce I'm limited to 55k tops, and I always add a couple of thousand in edits (and usually a few more in revisions), my word count for the first complete draft is exactly in the right place.

I am taking a short break to put something in the oven and then throw in a load of laundry.  But it is a huge relief to finally have those last words down and now I can get to work shaping them.

Oh yes, and writing a synopsis.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Good News Day

Working on:  The END of Doorstep Baby
Listening to: Must dig out a cd
Reading: An Affair Before Christmas, Eloisa James

Yesterday was a good news day, much needed and much appreciated!  Had a call from my editor and a lovely chat for one, talking about Doorstep Baby, plans for the next book which are very exciting at this point (the lead up is always so much more exciting than the execution, which usually leads into thoughts of "why the hell did I think this was a good idea?), and some news about Her Lone Cowboy.

The most exciting for me was the bit about Her Lone Cowboy.  In the UK, Romances are released as 2 in 1 volumes.  I have never gone retail in the UK before; if my books have shown up in shops it is because they were an introductory offer in limited quantities.  But this Cowboys and Confetti duet is going retail.  January has One Dance with the Cowboy paired up with Jessica Steele's The Girl From Honeysuckle Farm.  Fab!  But while Her Lone Cowboy will be on shelves in the US in March, the UK release has been pushed back until April.

Normally that might be a bit disappointing, but not this time.  This time it's so exciting I might have squealed a little and I definitely bounced.  In April Her Lone Cowboy is paired up with Diana Palmer's Tough To Tame!

I am so very pleased and thrilled and a bit star-struck that my name will be on a book cover with Diana Palmer's!  Yay for lovely editor and scheduling!

The other good news was that the dh picked up the mail and there were a few foreign translations that I didn't know about.  Hired By The Cowboy was out in Denmark and Finland.  So yay!  One was a 2 in 1 with Marion Lennox and the other a standalone.  I LOVE getting foreign editions even if they take up a lot of space in my basement.  It is so neat to see another language and how they are packaged and the cover art, etc.

But today is back to the grind, finishing up the book so I can begin going over it again.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be back to say 'tis done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Night at The Annex

Saturday night I participated in a booksigning, but to call it a booksigning is the understatement of the year.  Yes, there was a selection of authors - a poet, a YA author, a children's author, historical romance, non fiction historical and me.  VERY cool that we were all different genres.  But there's more.  There was a local musician with a CD out who played a few songs from her CD and then played delightful background music throughout the evening, there were Highland Dancers, AND there was food and drink!


So not a booksigning - a major event.  Huge thanks to Carolyn Laurie who put on such a fine evening.

A big thanks to a local reader/fan/friend who brought her mom, brought me a bottle of wine (Heee!) and was gracious enough to take this picture.  She also brought her e-reader with her and made me have techno envy once again.  Thanks Lynne!


And at the end, Carolyn's husband (Carolyn was our fantastic hostess) took a picture with me, Judith James, Carolyn, and Deanna Foster.  :-)

I am printing something for the offspring's homework and then we're puttering around the house.  In pyjama pants.  I earned it.  :-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things to Make You Smile

I totally ripped the blog title for today off Kate Hardy's post yesterday.  Thanks Kate!

The reason why is despite a trying week all around, today I get to share with you something I have waited for, for what seems like FOREVER.

Yesterday, the cover for HER LONE COWBOY showed up on Amazon.

I was afraid for this cover for a few reasons.  One, and most of you who regularly read this already know, my hero is disabled and only has one arm.  I hoped beyond hope that my hero on the cover would not show two hands.  Mistakes happen on covers and I admit it did make things an extra challenge for the art department.

Two, I adore this book.  I adore Noah.  I adore Lily.  I am always very invested in my books but sometimes one just stays with you forever.  This is one of those books.  So I was hopin' and wishin' for something really great.

And did the art department ever come through!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love it.  I love the colours and the fence and the cowboy on the front with only one arm visible!  I love the tone and the feel and I just feel gushy all over.

I have already e-mailed my editor expressing my pleasure.

Hopefully my UK cover will be just as splendid.And equally one-armed.  :-)



Here's the blurb:

Grouchy Noah was a challenge, but a Noah who started to trust Lily was far more difficult to handle…


Shutting himself off from the world, injured ex-soldier Noah Lamarie plans to lick his wounds in private. For who could love a cowboy who can’t even tie a bale of hay?

Lily Germaine thinks Noah is the most infuriating, stubborn-as-a-mule man she’s ever met. Losing an arm doesn’t mean he has to lose sight of who he is. His courage, strength and loyalty make him one in a million. She just needs to convince him of that!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So Proud of my CP!

Today's post is SHORT because there is one simple thing I have to say and that is go read my critique partner's (Michelle Styles) post at the Pink Heart Society today.

I came away affirmed and inspired - no small task.  And a little lighter in the pocketbook when all is said and done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's coming....




It's only 12 more days...until my TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CONTEST!

I've got a great lineup of authors helping me celebrate this year!  One winner is going to get an AWESOME selection of books, all inside a new tote bag and with a few surprises added in for good measure.

It kicks off on November 30!  The day that also happens to be my deadline, so there should be celebrating all around.  I'm thinking the contest is going to help get me in the holiday spirit right off the bat!

Speaking of deadline - last night I managed to break the 40k mark.  Very good news.  But I was up far too late and will pay for it today!  First things first - a coffee run.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ticking along

Working on - Doorstep Baby
Listening to - nothing at the mo - husband home, dryer running
Reading - not reading much - the deadline approacheth

Yesterday I got a lot done but not everything I wanted to.  I am now doing laundry today and I desperately need to vacuum.  I did however get the Christmas pud made and also some special cookies for a friend that my husband is hand delivering today.  I also went to fill up the truck, go to the post office, and the grocery store.  I made lasagna and garlic bread for dinner.  And I finished Chapter Nine which is a great relief.  I am getting closer to the end and it always seems to move faster, so I have my fingers crossed for a good couple of writing days.

The stack of magazines on my filing cabinet are starting to taunt me though.  We did not get any subscriptions for 2010.  I'll have all I can manage making it through the Travel and Leisure and National Geographics from this year.  Pitiful.  But when I have a chance to read, I normally pick up a book instead.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mix it up Monday

Working on: Doorstep Baby
Listening to:  Kids off; Mythbusters in the background
Reading:  Exclusive! 2005 antho.

We were away on the weekend, visiting my family about 5 hours away.  It was fun but manic.  Friday night we dropped off dog at my inlaws, then stopped at Mc Donalds for supper and ate in the truck.  Arrived at my mum's going on nine - just in time to veg for a few minutes and then punt kids into bed.  Saturday morning was breakfast with mum, visit with sister #1 and drop off their Christmas prezzies, run into town and stop in to see family friend/go to WalMart/have lunch.  Later in the afternoon it was drop off prezzies to sister #2, then back to my mum's for supper. After the kids went to bed, the dh and I went back to sister #2's for a few games of Canasta and a lot of laughs.  Sunday morning was up for breakfast and on the road, lunch and a visit with the inlaws, load up the dog (who had a blast at what we call "nanny camp") and drive home, arriving at 5:30.

BUT my Christmas presents for family are all delivered.  Hooray!

Today it is back to work with a vengeance.  The original plan was to mix up the Christmas pudding yesterday but since we were away, now that has been moved to today.  The kids are off for a PD day and so we will be mixing and stirring and making wishes. 

My Christmas pudding recipe came my way courtesy of my critique partner, Michelle Styles.  She also gave me my favourite rice pudding recipe. 

Now - the deadline calleth, so I'm off.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freebie Friday

It's Freebie Friday again over at eharlequin.  This week a brand new Romance line author has the featured book - Nina Harrington with ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID!

I'm going to put in my order - how 'bout you?

In other news - I'm going to finish chapter nine today and I have to run an errand and finish the laundry.  All by 2:30.  There is never a dull moment.

Oh and last night I felt like I was playing Monopoly and landed on Chance.  There was a tax error in our favour and we got to collect.  I hadn't checked our accounts all week so when the notification came, I had to see if it was really true!  Was there a deposit made?  And yes!  There was!  I am still glowing from it.  We got to pay off a few things that I was planning on paying off with royalties when they arrive and now I can use that money elsewhere (hello Christmas and winter heating bills).   

I think I might have even felt glee when I clicked the mouse and realized those bills are paid in full.  It's a GREAT feeling.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Long Live the Agent?

Hey - I'm carrying on with the "OMG it's a release month, I must blog everywhere" thing and I'm over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today talking about my mother in law's fruitcake.  :-)

This article was brought to my notice via twitter yesterday.  There have been some comments made in various places about the relevancy of agents in the changing publishing market and some people being of the opinion that they are going the way of the dodo.

I don't think everyone HAS to have an agent, but I don't think agents are going anywhere and nor should they.  I certainly didn't have to have one to sell; I sold my first eleven novels without an agent.  Could I continue selling?  Probably. 

That doesn't mean agents don't have an important place in the industry - and of course you're getting this from an author's point of view so what I'm going to say is obviously biased in that direction.

I have always believed that successful people are successful because of several factors.  In simplest terms, I think success happens when preparation meets opportunity.  But if I look around myself at those authors that are most successful, I see that they surround themselves with the right people.

I'm not going to write a big long dissertation about it, I'm on a deadline.  But I will say that I am not an agent, or a publicist, or an editor, or an artist, or in marketing.  I'm an author.  I'm one member of a larger team whose members all play a part in my success.  Sure, I can learn lots about the business as I go along, and in fact I should, but my main job is writing books.  It is what I do.  It's my agent's job to negotiate contracts and help me make professional decisions - and a good agent is going to do that better than I could do it myself.  Not only that, my agent is my advocate and that is SO important.  My editor edits my books, sees problems, suggests solutions, and gets my book ready for the market.  I can't do her job better than she can.  I sure as hell can't navigate the waters of marketing and publicity as well as someone who does that for their JOB.  And why would I want to?  All of that takes time away from MY job, which is writing books.

With the face of  "traditional" publishing changing every day, I would argue the opposite, actually.  We need agents more than ever.  We especially need good agents with the foresight to see what developments will work to their client's advantage and which ones to avoid.  A number of things are changing with how publishers are doing business.  Let the people in the biz look after the biz.  Writers write.
Who do you want navigating those waters?  You?  Or someone with the expertise to look out for your best interests? 

Don't get rid of agents.  Just surround yourself with good people.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day and I'm blogging about heroes over at The Writing Playground.  Come on over and I think there's also a copy of my latest up for grabs.

Meanwhile I'm just puttering away on Chapter nine today.  I also have to have books back to the library so I'm trying to finish up some research for the next book as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Release day!

This is the official release date for Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage!  It should be on bookstore shelves if it's not already. 

I seriously love this cover so I'm going to post it again just because. 

I am trudging along on the WIP but it went better yesterday.  I just need to keep going.  I can fix it all on the next pass.  Meanwhile, we had a milk incident in my sitting room. It affected my good humour severely when all was said and done.  (I know one shouldn't cry over spilt milk, but no one said anything about serious grumbling). 

It's a shame too because only moments before I had been laughing at the kids' version of "Yo mama's so fat..." jokes. 

My favourite was from the youngest.  Are you ready?

Yo mama's so fat, when she stepped on the scale she said, "O.M.G!  My phone numbah!"

Have a good'un, folks.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Petticoats and Pistols

Grocery shopping done, beef out of the freezer for stroganoff, and the house is clean.  Now if I could find my pudding mould so I could mix up my Christmas pudding, it'd be a great day.

Meanwhile, I'm hanging out with the chicas over at Petticoats and Pistols, and talking about mixing things up a bit in Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage.  There's a copy up for grabs as well so come on over!

Friday, November 06, 2009

SNOW?!!!

I woke up this morning to white stuff. This is even earlier than last year! In fact yesterday we changed our plans to go visit my mum this weekend for several reasons, but getting up and seeing the snow and the wind and what not, I was glad we weren't going.


I'm also glad I thought to buy my eldest new winter boots a few weeks ago as her feet grew more than 2 sizes since last year! After breakfast it was evident that dollar store stretchy gloves would not be enough so down to the basement I went for winter jackets, sturdy gloves, and warm hats.

The bus was late, so the dh and I decided NOT to do the longer walk as we were already snow-covered. Instead we put our heads to the wind and walked home, shaking off our outerwear before we came inside. I'll have to venture out later to shake off our apple trees, as they need to be staked and were bent with the heavy weight of the snow this morning.

The kids are ready for hot chocolate and Christmas movies. I'll confess...I just might be too, as well as thinking about pulling a holiday story out of my tbr. All I can say is while I love snow for Christmas, November 6 is a *bit* early and I'm glad that by Monday it should be mostly gone.

For now - has anyone seen my shovel?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brrr

Working on: Chapter Six of Doorstep Baby
Listening to: Josh Groban
Reading: The Viking's Captive Princess, Michelle Styles

It is a bleak, cold, November day outside.  The rain is icy cold and the air goes through to your bones.  After a quick, necessary walk for the dog, we came back home to a warm breakfast of maple oatmeal and an extra half-cup of coffee.  I have a lamp on for cozy light (it's very dark, even with the blind open) and I put on "comfort music" - Josh Groban.  Now fingers crossed for a good writing morning.

I should catch up with reel reviews right?  Last night the dh and I finished watching the final season of The Unit.  We were only going to watch a few episodes and we ended up watching the final four.  I was on the edge of my seat trying to keep it all straight.  For the most part, things ended in a satisfying way.  I am really going to miss this show.  It is one of those where even though it is fictional - and over - you wonder what is going to happen to the characters next. 

I did like how they handed the Colonel and Jonas.  Viewer loyalty - and the loyalty of the men - has always been with Jonas, so the Colonel's situation ended just right.  And may I say that Max Martini is vastly underestimated as an actor.  His scenes in the church had me wiping my eyes.  I'm thrilled with how his storyline ended as well. 

Anyway in a lighter vein - we watched Paul Blart Mall Cop on the weekend.  It is SO funny.  I love Kevin James and he's at his best here.  It's nothing profound but it is fine entertainment to watch with the kids.  All four of us laughed lots, so it was the perfect downtime activity.

The girls and I have watched all the Hornblowers, so last night we moved on to North and South.  It is a proud moment when they go to the dvd cabinet and the three choices they come out with are North and South, Cranford, and Jane Eyre.

P.S. Just read This Interview with Nora Roberts.  I love her thoughts on not leaving the house for three weeks.  I agree COMPLETELY.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The World is my...Lobster

I can't resist.  Even the dog got suited up - Maritime Style - for Halloween.

Have crossed several items off to-do list.  Have no idea what is for supper, nor is there a drop of milk in the house.  Will cross that bridge after homework is done!

Anyway  - here's that pic.  She is my Princess Baby Dog.


A New Month

The clocks have been set back, Halloween is over, and here we are in November.

That means  - my newsletter has just gone out.  If you haven't signed up and would like to - check out the box on the right sidebar.  :-)

My site will also be updated in the next short while.

And yes, I'm up wayyy too late.  After complaining of being so tired, I can't sleep so I'm tackling the to-do list.  Not sure what the problem is, though I suspect several things acting in concert is keeping the zzzz's at bay.

Anyhoo - congrats to Colleen Conklin who has won October's contest!  Next up is my Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Contest.  It all kicks off on Deadline Day - November 30! 

Twelve Days.  Twelve Authors.  One Big Prize.

I can't wait!