Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending the Year on a High Note

This is it - the last day of the decade!  And I'm happy to be ending it on a high note.

My revisions got turned in last night.  I always have this moment of "did I do enough, did I do too much" when it comes to revisions but I do like the changes and think they improved the story so if further tweaks are needed I'll just DO them.


Also, Donna over at the Pink Heart Society Reviews blog has reviewed One Dance With The Cowboy.  In a personal note to me, she told me I keep getting better.  That is the idea so I'm happy she thinks so!  At the end of the review she said "The way Donna writes is so realistic and refreshing that to read her books brings pure joy."

Bringing anyone pure joy is a compliment of the highest order!  And a perfect example of why I love this job. 

You can catch the whole review here.  And I can't think of a better way to close out the year.

I'll be back in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking back...

My CP did this and I never thought of looking back on a decade rather than just the last year.  When I did, briefly - in my mind - I was staggered at all that's happened since the year 2000.

2000 marked the non-event that was Y2K.  In 2000 I had our second daughter, and had a not so nice experience with post partum depression.  That was also the year that the dh switched jobs.  I said no more children as each time I gave birth he changed companies. In 2001 I was getting better, but still not quite there and after 9/11 and a visit "home" (we were living in Calgary) I started writing.  First as therapy and then because I was hooked.

In 2002 I submitted my first manuscript and got the first of many rejections.

In 2003 I became a school mum.  In 2005, I was still writing and getting rejected and had both kidlets in school.  The husband had switched jobs (at least within the same company) meaning no more shift work.  I began working part time at the kids' school - my first time working since having children - as a teaching assistant and lunch room lady.  The years I spent at that school either working or volunteering were wonderful.

In 2006 I sold four manuscripts, 2 to Samhain Publishing and then 2 more to Harlequin Romance.  We were still living at the same house in Calgary and I was starting to hate it.  That year I got a passport and used it for the first time at customs - for trips to Las Vegas and Orlando.

My Romance debut hit the shelves in May 07.  My passport got used again that September for a bit of a dream come true - I flew to London for the AMBA lunch and reception.  I had lunch with my editor and saw the offices.  I took the tube.  I stood inside St. Paul's Cathedral and meandered through St. James' Park.  I saw many many friends in person for the first time.  It was a magical week.

2008 was the big year.  Harlequin Romances 3 and 4 were released.  My debut won an award.  We had had enough of the neighbourhood and were looking at moving - cue huge surprise when the move turned out to be across the country to the East Coast.  We bought a house - twice the size of our old bungalow, on over an acre, in a quiet and lovely neighbourhood where my biggest  concern for a while was the deer nibbling on my new apple trees.  I gained an office.  And yes - the dh switched jobs again (though still with the same company). 

And my mum got remarried after 19 years of being a widow.  :-)

2009 was the year we seemed to settle.  Not perfect, as we had some family health issues and the rejection fairy visited again for a few months.  But...it's all good.  I handed in my 10th Romance, and sold another to Samhain making for book 13.  I had an incredible trip to Washington DC for RWA National Conference and found my agent there.

And I'm looking ahead to the next year and decade with optimism.  More books, one would hope.  And more travel.  At the end of 2019...the kids will be adults.  It boggles the mind.  We can fit a lot of adventure into a new decade.

When I look back at where I was then and where I am now...if you had told me this was where we'd end up - back in Atlantic Canada and a multi-published author - I would have laughed.  But life has a funny way of ending up different from what you plan, and right now I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cool stuff at the PHS


Today marks our very first Industry Insider post at the Pink Heart Society!  We're thrilled to have editor Kelli Martin of Kimani Romance with us for an interview.  Eharlequin is holding a pitch session for Kimani next week so this is a great chance for authors looking to write for the line to get a glimpse of what they're looking for in a story.

You can have a read by clicking here

The PHS has lots of cool stuff coming up in 2010.  Tomorrow I'll be back with another announcement that is kind of my pet project for the year over there and something I'm looking forward to A LOT!

Now for me it is back to revisions and critiquing a chapter.  But first - breakfast. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Furbaby for Christmas


We have a new family member and he just arrived today after a LOOONG wait.  His name is Peekaboo (Boo for short).

Our dog is being a bit silly about it all (and by silly - I mean...SILLY foolish) but is settling down faster than I thought she would.  Right now the worst is that she wants the kitty toys for herself.  And her nose is a little out of joint at not being the centre of attention.  But everyone just needs to settle and all will be right.





He is soft and a cuddler and really laid back, bless him.  But he's busy exploring and so getting pictures was a bit of a challenge.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Books in the mail

Just in time for Christmas, 2 books arrived in the mail as prezzies from friends.



First of all, my fab CP Michelle Styles sent me the Mills and Boon Christmas Treasury of Romance, a collection of short stories by some authors I know and a few I'm less familiar with.  A lovely surprise was the editor's note on the inside cover.  Maddie was my first editor at Romance and it was so nice to see her picture and read her note to readers.  Since I just finished a book, I think the timing is perfect for me to delve into this one.







Then my daughter's former teacher in Calgary sent us a copy of his book.  It's a children's non fiction titled Pika - Life in the Rocks.  If you remember when I was posting "Jim's pics" on the blog - this is the guy that did all the pics for this book and it's cute as all get out.  This copy is for us.  I've preordered a copy from amazon to donate to the school library here.


Seeing as this is Christmas Eve, now's the time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Kwanzaa...just Happy Holidays.  I hope your holiday is all that you would wish it to be, whether that's quiet and peaceful or loud and boisterous with family and friends.

Back in a few days...in the meantime you can catch up with me and the other PHS editors at the Pink Heart Society today and again with a very special post on Boxing Day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Casting

My next book is set in Argentina, but I have no working title, no character names...even though I do have a lot of the story etc worked out in my head.  The names and especially the title have been elusive.

I do however have casting and setting pics.  :-)  Thought I'd share them with you today as I go about doing revisions - got a small start on them yesterday and I do think they are going to bring the story up another level.

So...here they are. 


























 And a few setting pics for good measure:




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revisions

Revisions have arrived!  Am glad, actually.  The dh is working three days this week and three days next, so that means I can work on these without it intruding on family holiday time, and hopefully get them in right after the new year.  They don't look too difficult...perhaps a bit time consuming as they are things that filter throughout, but make perfect sense. 

I'm looking forward to getting into them - and handing it back in again so I can go full steam ahead with the next book.

Right now I'm putting some things together for the post office - prize winners and such - and I have a few blog posts to load and then I'm going to print out my revision letter and examine it more closely in case I have any questions for lovely editor before the Christmas break.



Oh and I got a glimpse of my UK 2 in 1 cover with Diana Palmer that will be out in April.  I love it as it really fits my book.  With the 2 in 1's, they pick one of the two covers, so I'm not sure if the one on this edition is mine or hers.  Either way - it simply works.

Stay warm.  Shortbread and hot cocoa good for that.  :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Check one more box off the to-do list!

I am refusing to look ahead to January, because the sheer volume of work that will be on my plate is slightly staggering.  But I can say that December has been wonderful.  I've gotten so much accomplished AND I've got myself ready for Christmas in the meantime without feeling utterly exhausted and stressed.  I've even had some time to read.  Bake cookies.  Watch movies.

Today I finished the final polish of a manuscript and sent it to my lovely editor at Samhain.  It was my main work goal for the month and here it is, done.  I know she won't get to it for a while, but the important thing is that it's off my desk so to speak.

I've watched some movies too - like the sheer stupidness of The Love Guru which still made me laugh and I did appreciate the many Canadianisms in it.  The dh and I have been catching up on episodes of Californication and we watched The Bourne Identity yesterday, as we haven't seen it in many years and had forgotten the majority of it.  I also read Don't Bargain With The Devil by Sabrina Jeffries  - I was in the mood for a sexy, historical romp and that was exactly what I got.  Love it when a book delivers! 

But you know what?  Holding books in my left hand plays havoc with my wrist and thumb, so I'm resting it by reading some of the ebooks I've been hanging on to.  Right now I'm reading one of India Grey's and adoring it.  I read Christmas Delivery by Patricia Rosemoor too.  Very enjoyable.  If I keep this up, I'll make 75 books by this year end.  Not the 100 I was aiming for, but a good count just the same.

Anyway I'll deal with January when January is here.  For now, I'm going to enjoy Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

HUGE giveaway....

Paying bills, grocery shopping etc. this morning so time is at a premium.  But I wanted to point you in the direction of the Harlequin Romance authors as they are treating their readers to a huge giveaway contest for the holidays.

See what's up for grabs at http://www.harlequinromanceauthors.blogspot.com/ .  You have the weekend to enter.

Now I'm off!  Have a good one.  Oh and thanks for the sicky hugs.  I'm feeling MUCH better today.  And perhaps slightly lighter.  LOL

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ugh

Last night's dinner turned out not so good later as I was up most of the night and my tummy is still a little...fragile.  Ginger Ale and toast is on the menu. 

And reading.  It's a good day to indulge.  And speaking of - I have a post up at the Pink Heart Society about Christmas scenes in books.  :-)  Come on over and share yours.

Hopefully back full strength tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open House

I'm hanging out today at the annual Eharlequin Open House.  There are lots of prizes to be won and fun things going on all day so feel free to pop over and join in.

Otherwise - the dh and I went for coffee this morning and work continues on the project I hope to send by the end of the week. :-)  It is the last item on my December to do list which is kind of incredible, actually.  It *almost* makes me wish revisions would come.

Almost.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday

It is gloomy and foggy and most of our snow has disappeared.  I am currently on day 2 of battling a headache, and today I am winning but the tides could turn at any moment (you know that feeling when it's lurking?).

To top it off, I ran out of lollipop bags last night so a quick trip to the jungle that is WalMart is in order! 

But it's not all gloom.  I'm making good progress on my editing, I'm nearly half way through another book (reading) and I'm also over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs talking about enjoying being off deadline for a few weeks.  There's even an easy recipe over there for something delicious and that takes no time at all to whip up.  My youngest has been making it nearly on her own since she was about six.

Other books I've finished reading are Susannah's Garden by Debbie Macomber and The Silver Chair - only one more to go in the Narnia series.  I had forgotten so much about them that reading them with the kids has been a total rediscovery.

I also watched Confessions of a Shopaholic, which I thought was great fun.  Then my girls watched it - THREE TIMES.  All because we can't find our The Devil Wears Prada dvd.  I know it's here somewhere.

Anyway back to work for me for a while and then it's off to Wally World.  Ick. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Winner!


So...finally it's time to announce the winner of the 12 Days of Christmas Contest!


Major congrats to Audri Schultz of Nevada!!!!!! 

I'll be sending Audri an e-mail with details shortly.  :-)  Thanks to all who participated - there were literally hundreds of entries - too many to put in a hat - so I resorted to a random number picker.  LOL

The weekend was hugely busy with errands on Saturday and much wrapping etc. for me in the afternoon.  Saturday night I was at a girls night in making jewelry and Sunday we cleaned the house and then had friends over for a fondue.  Lots of mess and lots of fun.  :-)

But now it's back to work.  The husband is on holidays this week and has just left to do his Christmas shopping, and I'm editing editing editing.  :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

ON THE 12th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - WIND UP!


Here we are on Day 12 once more!  My goodness, time flies, especially during the Christmas season.  Huge thanks to all the participating authors for their time and for their books! 

And thanks to you, for coming back, and entering, and joining in the fun.  Can you believe I already have next year's contest partially lined up? 

I'll be drawing the winner on the 14th, so be sure to come back for the announcement.  At this point there are hundreds of entries! 



The prize will consist of a book by each of the participating authors (11) plus a copy of Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage by Me and Patricia Thayer.  I decided to put in the UK version (which doesn't have Montana in the title) and I've also included my January book, One Dance With The Cowboy, the first in my Cowboys and Confetti duet.  I'm doing the UK copy of that too, because it's a 2 in 1 which means you also get Jessica Steele's The Girl From Honeysuckle Farm

A few other surprise goodies are in the prize as well and it all comes in a Donna Alward tote bag.

So, it's with a little bit of sadness that I bring the contest to a close with the final clue:

PEACE.

E-mail PEACE to donnaalward@hotmail.com to enter.  :-)

And have yourselves a wonderful holiday season.

Love,

Donna

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drive by savings

Quick note - today's deal in Harlequin's 12 Deals of Christmas is FAB.


eHarlequin's 12 Deals Of Christmas. Starts Dec 1!


Click on the above pic: All eBooks are half price with coupon code CUTINHALF at Checkout! That means you can get all of my Romance backlist as well as my January release One Dance with the Cowboy for half price!

Carry on. I'm editing.

ON THE 11th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - VICKIE TAYLOR




The penultimate day of the contest - and what a ride!  Already hundreds of entries! 

Today's spotlighted author is Vickie Taylor.  Read on to learn more about Vickie and see what treat she's adding to the prize!


Vickie Taylor wrote her first novel in 1997. Upon completion, she was too chicken to give the manuscript to anyone she knew to read, so she sent her baby off to a few contests to get some anonymous feedback instead. Little did she know how her life was about to change: a few months later, she had won all four of the Romance Writers of America chapter contests she’d entered, was a Golden Heart finalist and had sold the book to Silhouette Intimate Moments!



Since then, Vickie has written numerous romantic suspense novels for Silhouette Books and paranormal romances for Berkley Sensation, garnering numerous awards including four coveted Romance Writers of America “Rita” nominations.


Vickie lives in a small town in north Texas dubbed “The Heart of Horse Country” where she rounds out her writing days riding horses, volunteering with the local Humane Society, and serving on a K-9 search and rescue team. She is currently celebrating the release of two new books. LEGACY OF STONE is a paranormal romance available now and A DOCTOR’S WATCH will be released by Silhouette Romantic Suspense in January.





The books Vickie is including in our prize is LEGACY OF STONE and A DOCTOR'S WATCH.

So...drop me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com and put today's clue - EGGNOG - as your subject line.  Tomorrow I'll be wrapping it all up with my own personal post!  I can't believe how quickly the time has gone!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

ON THE 10th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - PAMELA STONE


It ain't just Lords a' leaping today.  Today's post is particularly special because it's a debut, and as we all know, your first time only happens once.

So a big blog and contest welcome to new Harlequin American author, Pam Stone!



A little about Pam:


One might ask how an accounting graduate who spent twenty plus years in the technology field became a romance writer. Well, it’s quite simple. Start with an only child whose classy mom put her energy into my wardrobe, dance, and piano lessons. Plus an amazing father who added go-kart racing, slot cars, water skiing, and a pony to the mix. Toss in a wild imagination coupled with summers in the country and lazy walks on my grandparent’s farm. Add to that another grandmother with a shed full of Harlequin romance novels to while away hot afternoons and you come up with me.


Writing is pure escapism. Childhood imaginary friends developed into teenage fantasies. Later as a mother of two young, rambunctious sons, I began writing to keep in touch with the adult world; at least it was worth a shot. I continued writing as a method to wind down in the evenings from long, exhausting days spent in Corporate America. Anybody notice a pattern here? Not enough adult socialization – write. People overload – write. Either way, writing keeps me sane. Cheaper than a therapist and tons more fun.


I still reside in Texas with my childhood sweetheart and husband of; well we won’t mention how many years. In my spare time I enjoy traveling. From Hawaii, to California, to Florida, to the Caribbean, to Galveston, Texas. If there’s a beach, I’m there. I also love spending time with friends and family, especially three adorable grandkids. I love writing romance and sold my first novel, Last Resort: Marriage, to Harlequin American on Friday the 13th, June 2008. How’s that for luck!


And even more exciting, Harlequin American has bought my second book, due out in 2011. WooHoo!


Pam's debut is Last Resort: Marriage!
Desperate times call for a quickie wedding? And desperation is the only reason Charlotte Harrington would even consider marrying local playboy, Aaron Brody. Even if he is the most irresistible man she’s ever laid eyes on.

Charlie’s proposition could be a win-win for both of them. Aaron keeps his charter business afloat and the gorgeous, cool-as-ice hotel heiress keeps her grandfather from selling her hotel out from under her. Besides, it’s temporary.

Isn’t it?

It was supposed to be strictly a business arrangement. Falling in love with her husband wasn’t part of the deal. So when the time comes, will Charlie be able to just shake hands with Aaron and part ways forever?

Today's clue is MISTLETOE.

Those of you who have been with us all along-  you know the drill.  All you newbies - here's what you do.  Send me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com and put today's clue as the subject line.  I'll be drawing on the 14th and you can enter once each day.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

All Shopped Out

NOTHING - and I mean nothing - tires me out like shopping.  After blogging for the contest, tweeting etc. and revising my "chapter a day keeps the editor away", I zoomed off to the mall.  My credit card is as exhausted as I am.  I refilled the tummy with some chicken shwarma at the food court (which was just okay, should have gone to Sukiyaki for chicken teriyaki instead) and then it was the king of all stores, WalMart.  I managed to fill my cart as well as hand sell the last copy of Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage along with Liz Fielding's and Holly Jacobs' latest books.  Oh yes and bought a copy of Michelle Styles' Viking's Captive Princess as well.

Tonight is Christmas concert night and I have ALL those bags to sort through.

Anyway I've shopped until I practically dropped.  Just wanted to send a reminder as well to send your contest entries to donnaalward@hotmail.com and not my other e-mail address that you might have used in the past.  :-)

ON THE 9th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - LIZ FIELDING


Day Nine brings us one of my dearest friends, who, by some stroke of UNluck, I have never crossed paths with in person.  No matter.  Liz mentored me before I ever sold a book and when I need advice I always turn to her.  She's wise, she's cool, and she writes wonderful books.  She's got a fantastic duo out at the moment, which you're going to hear about in a just a sec.  Here's Liz...




Reading is, and always has been, the first love of my life. Except writing.



Success came early -- I was twelve when I won an Easter egg in a hymn writing competition at school – but life intervened with my plans to become a hot shot author. The day job. Not that this was dull. I travelled to Zambia at the age of twenty where I worked as a secretary, before following my personal hero to the Middle East, Kenya, Botswana and ambition became buried in the joyful business of raising a family.


I never forgot that I was a “writer”, however. I wrote children’s stories for Listen With Mother. Magazines articles. Ghost stories. I was at a point where I wanted to move onto something bigger when I read a magazine piece about Charlotte Lamb and Anne Hampson and discovered, rather late in life, romantic fiction. I read everything I could lay my hands on, then, feeling certain I had a grasp of the genre, began writing. I had three rejections – I still have those letters! -- but my fourth submission became An Image of You and was published in 1992.


Since then seven of my books have been shortlisted for RWA’s RITA award – two of them, THE BEST MAN & THE BRIDESMAID and THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE winning in 2001 and 2006, respectively. A FAMILY OF HIS OWN also won the RNA’s Romance Prize in 2005.


The PH and I are empty-nesters these days, living out in the country where excitement means a visit from the mobile shop, the travelling library, the fish man. But I’m a writer, I invent my own worlds. Once the door to the my cabin in the woods is closed I can be anywhere my imagination takes me; the desert kingdom of Ramal Hamrah, the villages of Upper Haughton, Little Hinton and Longbourne where romance is always just around the corner, or I can jet off to New York, the Mediterranean, even the Himalayas. Pick up a book and come with me…


Liz has Christmas Angel for the Billionaire for our prize, book 1 in her Trading Places duet.
 
Lady Roseanne, orphaned just before Christmas when she was six years old, has become the “people’s angel”. At sixteen she stepped into her parents’ shoes to become the face of the charity they founded. Ten years on, she’s a young woman cut off from real life, confined within the protective bubble of bodyguards and protocol.


Here she is –

Annie smothered a yawn. The room was hot, the lingering scent of food nauseating and all she wanted to do was lay her head on the table in front of her, close her eyes and switch off.

If only.

There was a visit to a hospital, then three hours of Wagner at a charity gala to endure before she could even think about sleep. And even then, no matter how tired she was, thinking about it was as close as she would get.


George Saxon walked away from his family the minute he had a chance. His father never understood him, he is the despair of his mother and his daughter -- well she just wants him to notice her.

Here’s George –

George Saxon, bare feet propped on the deck rail of his California beach house, laptop on his knees, gave up on the problem that had been eluding him for weeks and surfed idly through the headlines of the London newspapers.

His eyes were caught by the picture of a couple leaving some gala. She was one of those tall, patrician women, pale blonde hair swept up off her neck, her fabulously expensive gown cut low to reveal hollows in her shoulders even deeper than those in her cheeks.

But it wasn’t her dress or the fact that she’d so obviously starved herself to get into it that had caught and held his attention. It was her eyes.

Her mouth was smiling for the camera, but her eyes, large, blue seemed to be looking straight at him, sending him a silent appeal for help.

He clicked swiftly back to the program he’d been working on. Sometimes switching in and out of a problem cleared the blockage but this one was stubborn, which was why he’d left his Chicago office, his lakeside apartment. Escaping the frantic pre-Christmas party atmosphere for the peace of the beach.

Behind him, inside the house, the phone began to ring. It would be his accountant, or his lawyer, or his office but success had insulated him from the need to jump when the phone rang and he left it for the machine to pick up. There was nothing, no one --

‘George? It’s your dad…’

But then again there were exceptions to every rule.

And here’s what Romantic Times had to say –

CHRISTMAS ANGEL FOR THE BILLIONAIRE (4.5) A delicate blending of fantasy and reality, this story has everything, including a difficult but irresistible hero and a clever, gutsy heroine who's in every way his match.

Today's clue is GRINCH!
 
Put it in the subject line of your e-mail to donnaalward@hotmail.com and you're entered!
 
Only three days left...

Monday, December 07, 2009

ON THE 8th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - KIMBERLY LANG!



Day Eight, and boy is this a treat!  I met Kim Lang this past summer in Washington, DC at RWA Nationals.  I will never forget breakfast with the "newbie" group and finding out that Kim does, in fact, have minions to do her bidding.

Well, it made me laugh then and it still makes me laugh now.  I even laughed reading her bio (says one who is also married to Dilbert).  See for yourself...




Kimberly Lang hid romance novels behind her textbooks in junior high, and even a master’s program in English couldn’t break her obsession with dashing heroes and Happily Ever After. A ballet dancer turned English teacher, Kimberly married an electrical engineer and turned her life into an ongoing episode of “When Dilbert Met Frasier.” She and her Darling Geek live in beautiful North Alabama with their one Amazing Child—who, unfortunately, shows an aptitude to sports.



Visit Kimberly at www.booksbykimberly.com for the latest news or visit her group site at www.WritingPlayground.com for all kinds of fun!

Kim's contribution to the prize is The Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress (or for short, MMM!)
 

Perfect, polite… and passionate!


As Dallas’s most eligible bachelor and heir to his family fortune, billionaire Will Harrison knows how to handle the paparazzi – but his little sister Evie is a worry…

Miss Behavior, etiquette expert Gwen Sawyer, has only three weeks to work her magic on Evie before a society ball, and so moves into Will’s luxurious penthouse. However, she discovers too late that etiquette is the last thing on devilishly handsome Will’s mind…


Today's clue is ELVES  - after all aren't they the ultimate minions?

Send an e-mail to donnaalward@hotmail.com with the clue as the subject line.  Easy peasy!  One entry per day!  And not many days left, so make sure you get your name in the hat!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

ON THE 7th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - PAULA GRAVES





Here we are at Day 7 with an author I've known for a LONG time.  Since before we sold, certainly.  I'm thrilled she's hangin' out with us during the 12 Days of Christmas!

Please welcome Paula Graves to the party!





Down here in the American South, we don't hide our crazy people. We showcase them. I've always thought it was because eccentric people make for the best stories, and we Southerners love our stories. Faulkner, McCullars, O'Connor, Porter--these are our chroniclers, writers steeped in the slow, steady pulse of the South's pride, suffering, honor, madness, venality and redemption. I grew up in Alabama, the heart of the South, and live here still. The need to tell stories has been a driving force in my life from a very young age.



As a child, my favorite books were Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and Harlequin Romances. When I realized there were books that featured both romance and mystery, I knew I'd found my calling. Now I write for Harlequin Intrigue, where I get to play both matchmaker and murderer and get paid for it.

In addition, I work a full-time day job at a Birmingham ad agency, where I'm a copywriter and graphic designer, a background that comes in handy when it's time to redesign my website and create promotional materials for my books. I'm also known among certain circles as the Cat Whisperer, but that's a whole other story. I love to hear from readers, so please visit my website at www.paulagraves.com, click the contact button and tell me what you think about my books.


In my handy dandy tote bag is a copy of Paula's Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming.
 
What was supposed to be a quiet vacation in scenic Wyoming turned deadly when Hannah Cooper became the target of a serial killer. Although she survived the attack, the ordeal was far from over. But she wasn’t alone. Not when Riley Patterson appointed himself her protector.


Beneath Riley’s strapping, solemn exterior hid a hard-driving sheriff who would stop at nothing to catch a killer. He promised Hannah safety, but it was the danger he posed that drew her in. Riley was as much a mystery as the man who sought to take her life. Trapped on his ranch, with no one but each other to trust, only justice could set them free…and possibly separate them forever.

Cooper Justice: One family determined to do what’s right.


Today's code word - er - clue,  is SNOWMAN.

Put the clue in your subject line and e-mail me at donnaalward@hotmail.com.  That's all you need to do to be entered!  Don't forget - one entry per day. 

Saturday, December 05, 2009

ON THE 6th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - MISSY TIPPENS




Day 6 already, and the contest is half through!  Today's special guest is Missy Tippens, another new-to-me author with a fantastic holiday book out right now.  I just love the covers of the Steeple Hill books this Christmas!

Meet Missy!


Missy Tippens is an award-winning writer and was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest. After ten years of pursuing her dream, she made her first sale of a full-length novel to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She still pinches herself to see if it really happened! Her debut novel, Her Unlikely Family (Feb. 2008) was a 2009 finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest. Her next two books include His Forever Love (June 2009) and A Forever Christmas (November 2009). Missy loves to hear from readers through her website, www.missytippens.com, or by e-mail: missytippens@aol.com.



Missy's contribution to the prize is A FOREVER CHRISTMAS.
 
The single dad is working himself to the bone to give his boys the Christmas of their dreams, when all they want is some family time. Time that includes a new mommy. If Sarah can learn to open her heart, she may receive the most wonderful present of all—a family of her own.

Today's clue is ANGEL.

To enter, send me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com with today's clue as the subject line.  One entry per day please!

Friday, December 04, 2009

ON THE 5th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - MAGGIE PRICE!




One of the things I love about this contest is that every year I get to meet new authors.  Some are new, some have been in the biz a long time.  This year I met Maggie Price, and now I'm going to share her with you.  :-)  Welcome to the contest, Maggie!

About Maggie:


A former police crime analyst for the Oklahoma City Police Department, Maggie Price has never tried to distance herself from her dark "cop side" to write the riveting romantic suspense that has become her trademark. If anything, that meshing of the cop side with the romance side is a natural blending...and her stories show us that sometimes, love can kill.



The riveting authenticity of been-there-done-that police work and sizzling passion she brings to her novels have earned numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, a National Readers' Choice Award, a Bookseller's Best Award and a coveted RITA nomination. Other honors received include Romantic Times Magazine's Career Achievement Award for series romantic suspense, and its Reviewer's Choice Award for "Best Silhouette Intimate Moments."


Visit Maggie's website at www.MaggiePrice.com

Maggie's contribution to the splendiforous prize is BANKING ON HOPE.
BANKING ON HOPE
Harlequin 2009 NASCAR Continuity Series - Book 12
December 2009

Money, women and fame aren’t everything they’re cracked up to be. Former NASCAR driver Brent Sanford should know. He had it all and lost it when he was accused of sabotaging a rival’s race car. In the four years since then, he’s centered all his attention on building his air charter company, but his focus on business takes a big detour when a sexy psychologist walks into his life.

After learning that her fiancĂ© bilked funds from lonely Texas widows, Dr. Hope Hunt wants nothing more to do with slime-weasel cheaters. She’s heard the rumors about Brent Sanford and believes them ... until she meets the pilot with a charmer’s grin. Suddenly, not only are those beliefs challenged, but also Hope’s determination to stay far away from the same type of man who broke her heart.

The clue for today is SANTA'S SLEIGH.  Send me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com with the clue as the subject.  You can enter once each day!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

ON THE 4th DAY OF CHRISTMAS - MICHELLE STYLES


Today's author is someone very special - my critique partner and "writing sister" Michelle Styles.  We've been working together since 2003.  She sold to Harlequin Historicals in 2005, a year before I sold to Romance.  Now she's working on her 14th book for Mills and Boon/Harlequin.  Her latest release is The Viking's Captive Princess which is out in North America RIGHT NOW - and it's a fantastic read!

Here's a bit about Michelle:

Although I was born and raised near San Francisco, California, USA, I have lived in Britain since 1988 when I married .



The deal was if he passed his Bar exams, I would quit my job in insurance, and go to Northumberland, see how I liked it for a year and then we would decide where our future together would be. We spent our honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies discussing how and why if he were an examiner, my husband would surely have failed. He flew back to the UK and arrived the morning the results were print in The Times. The first time through, he missed his name but then saw it -- the examiners had not followed his fears, but had passed with him with a high mark. My hand trembled as I hung up the phone. It had come to pass. I was about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I gave my notice to my manager who was sorry to lose me, made arrangements for furniture to be sent across the Atlantic and started reading Catherine Cookson novels to get a flavour of the area. For although I spent my junior year of college at Lancaster University, I had not bothered to travel to the North East.


After reading about ten novels and Catherine Cookson’s autobiography, I thought -- oh no what have I done here and rapidly checked with my manager I could return to my job if things did not work out. I need not have worried. Northumberland is beautiful, truly a forgotten corner of the British Isles with green fields, stone buildings and a landscape littered with castles, and Roman remains. I fell in love with the North East, and in particular with the Tyne Valley. So after, all this time, with three children, two dogs, two cats, and assort of chickens and ducks, I believe we are settled.


A copy of The Viking's Captive Princess is added to the tote bag of books and goodies.

To enter, e-mail me at donnaalward@hotmail.com and put today's clue of PUDDING in the subject line.  Why pudding?  Well, because when Michelle and I had just met, one of the first favours she did me was sending me her Christmas pudding recipe.  Which reminds me - just about time to give mine another shot of brandy...

See you all tomorrow when I get to showcase another great author!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

ON THE 3RD DAY OF CHRISTMAS - JENNIFER LEWIS





Today's Day Three, and with us is Jennifer Lewis!  Jennifer has sent along The Maverick's Virgin Mistress for the bag 'o books.





Jennifer Lewis has been making up stories as long as she can remember. She loves the fact that it gives her an excuse to stare into space and say that she is "working." The Maverick's Virgin Mistress (November 2009) is her 8th book for Silhouette Desire. Jen seems to spend her life moving back and forth from New York to London, England, where she currently lives with her husband and two children in a rural area a short distance from the city.

Go ahead and browse the book!



Then send me an e-mail at donnaalward@hotmail.com with the clue FRUITCAKE in the subject line.  One entry per day please!  That's all you have to do to put your name in the hat!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sales too good to miss


eHarlequin's 12 Deals Of Christmas. Starts Dec 1!

eHarlequin has their 12 Deals of Christmas goin' on, and today is buy a book and get a free featured e-book.  Not only that, but One Dance With The Cowboy is available starting today, hint hint!


North Pole Meltdown: Save 40% on Holiday Books!

Also Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage is on for 40% off!  Gotta love those Christmas Deals.

On The 2nd Day of Christmas - Louise Allen!



On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a hot naval officer on the high seas....

Ok, so my rhyming leaves a little to be desired, but honestly one of the best (and worst!) things about this contest is receiving all the books and NOT reading them all before giving them away.  But I have been good, I promise!  And so today I bring you Louise Allen and showcase a bit about her book she's kindly added to the prize!



Louise Allen is at work on her 35th historical romance. With a passion for the Regency period she likes to take her characters out of the drawing room and into the rough and tumble of early 19thc life. Louise lives in Norfolk, England with her husband and rather too many books for comfort. http://www.louiseallenregency.co.uk/






Miss Clemence Ravenhurst never expected to find herself dressed as a boy and fleeing through the night time streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Nor was being snatched by some of the nastiest pirates in the Caribbean the sort of thing a wealthy heiress expected to happen. But even worse than life on board Red Matthew McTiernan’s ship was the realisation that she was falling in love with Nathan Stanier, renegade naval officer, ship’s navigator and her only protector. Clemence finds herself fighting for her life and her love on both the high seas and the drawing rooms of fashionable England alongside a man with his own battle between his desires and his duty.


Today's clue is HOLLY.

All you need to do is send an e-mail with the clue as the subject line to enter today!  One entry per person per day pls!

And don't forget to come back tomorrow!