Dec 24 2011

Donna Alward

Meet Donna Alward!

Donna Alward has the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mother and romance novelist. In 2001 she penned her first novel, and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript, and now writes heartwarming Romances from her home in Nova Scotia, Canada. Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website at www.donnaalward.com or through her publisher.

First question:

Eggnog or Mimosas? Are you old enough to drink? Mimosas! And sadly, yes. I am old enough.

We’re also taking pictures with Santa, did you bring a gift for him? (Maybe a new release or a pretty book cover…) I’m a last minute shopper…I’m still waiting on some lovely new artwork!

Blurb:

The last thing she needs is a hero…

First Responders, Book 1

Paramedic Gabe Brennan’s job is saving lives. When he witnesses an accident and rushes in to help, the victim brings back memories of the night that marked him forever. The night he almost couldn’t save his best friend, Brandon. Brandon’s sister is in the car. She’s pregnant. And his longing for her is just as sharp as ever.

Carly’s never been so glad to see a friendly face. Gabe’s gallant rescue—and the gentle kiss he bestows upon her at the hospital—resurrect feelings she buried long ago. Having just closed the book on a crumbling marriage, she’s not too keen on opening herself up to hurt again. Not even for the one man who’s always seemed to be there when she needed him most.

Gabe knows he shouldn’t be falling for Carly, especially since she insists she’s off the market. But the chemistry still simmering between them after all these years is no accident. Now all he has to do is convince her she belongs in the empty space he’s always held open for her. The one next to his heart…

Please enter. Drinks are served by the elves in the corner.

What’s your favorite holiday and why? Christmas. It’s happy, it’s colourful. I get downtime with my family that is longer than a long weekend. Plus there’s all the food and good music. What’s not to love?

Did you ask Santa for anything good?  I’m not very adventurous – I asked for a new can opener. An electric one. J

What’s your favorite place to spend the holidays? HOME! No question. We’re spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s hanging with a few friends, but mostly laying around in our sleep pants playing rock band and eating turkey leftovers. It’s perfect.

What is your favorite Christmas memory? There are lots so I probably don’t come up with the same one twice, but right now I’m remembering the first Christmas I spent with my husband (who was then my boyfriend). He gave me a little ring and a tin of pecan caramel clusters. The tin had tigers on it. It was an important time, that first Christmas! This year is our 21st!

Do you have personal resolutions for the New Years? Anything interesting?  I do, actually. I’ve spent the last several years with a huge TBR and a sense of dissatisfaction because I don’t often get to read the books I REALLY want to read. So in 2011 I’m being utterly selfish in my reading and catching up on series I’ve been dying to get into. I’ve got The Hunger Games trilogy ready to go as well as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series AND the Game of Thrones series. I have a bunch of Sherryl Woods books too…I am dying to finish her Chesapeake Shores series.

Why do you write romance? For the happy endings. Because in a world where I’m in control (the book) people may suffer but they triumph in the end. They WIN. They lay their inner demons to rest and find happiness and I think that’s awesome.

How long have you been writing for? And how would you describe your publication journey? I’ve been writing just over 10 years. Five of that was unpublished, but I loved it so I kept writing and submitting. Since 2006 I’ve sold 21 books and I’m working on my 22nd.

Are you a plotter or pantser? What is your routine? Pantser. I discover things as I go along, and I often know my characters but other than a few key scenes I don’t know how the story is going to unfold. Sometimes what I think about characters sounds good in the beginning but doesn’t hold up in the writing and I have to explore a different angle. It can be a bit of trial and error, and I know people will say that pre-planning takes that trial and error step out, but for me it doesn’t work. I’ve learned to trust my process because it works for me, and that’s all that really matters.

What characteristics do all your heroes/heroines have in all your stories? My heroes tend to be a bit brooding, and might be a bit damaged too – either physically or emotionally. And they’re pretty much all tall, virile men. I like tall men.  I’m 5’8” so a good pair of heels puts me close to six feet. I like that my husband is 6’1” and I’m never taller than he is. LOL! My heroines are generally nurturers and looking for a place where they belong.

What writing resources do you abide by as a writer? I’m horribly bad at this. I read a book on craft, and then absorb the inspiration and put it back on the shelf. I think it’s the pantser part of me. I don’t use One Note or Scrivener or any of those tools. I sit down, open a document, type Chapter One and go from there.

What advice would you give aspiring authors? Keep writing, full stop. You can take all the workshops in the world but unless you’re applying them to manuscripts (yes, plural!), it won’t matter a damn. Write, submit, write another, submit…It’s the only way to really develop your voice and skills.

What are you working on right now? I’m winding up a holiday story that will be coming from Harlequin Romance next November. It’s the middle book in a trilogy by Fiona Harper, me, and Shirley Jump.

What news would you like to share with your readers? My next release is a reprint – Marriage at Circle M is out in March in THEN AND NOW which is a reprint of Linda Lael Miller’s. They’ve paired me up with her as part of the HQ Bestselling Author Collection. Naturally once I stopped hyperventilating about that, I was (and am) thrilled! It’s a bit of a wait for new books, but that’s because I have 2 coming out back to back in May and June of 2012 that I think readers are going to love. The duet is called Cadence Creek Cowboys and they were 2 of my favourite books to write!

Where can readers find you?

    1. Twitter: www.twitter.com/DonnaAlward
    2. Facebook: Donna Alward, Romance Author
    3. Website: www.donnaalward.com
    4. Others:  blog: www.donnaalward.blogspot.com

List other books you have out:

Breathe – just released in print on Dec 6/11

Off the Clock – e-book novella out now

How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart – October 2011

For a full listing of titles you can check out my website.

Thank you so much for joining us at Romance Author Hotspot!

Prize: Choice of backlist book


Mar 7 2011

Party with Shelley Munro! She may share more than New Zealand with you…

Today, our guest of honor is Shelley Munro. It’s so nice to have you here, and I’m sure you’re ready for a good time! Let the party begin!

First Questions:

Wine or beer? (If you want a club soda, I’ll have to send you to the corner.)

Definitely a glass of wine—preferably New Zealand wine and usually white, although a good read is equally acceptable.

How about wine and a good book? Cake or chips? Are you a sugar or salt person?

Cake. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I blame my father. I inherited the sweet tooth!

Are you old enough to drink? LOL.

No. ;-)

Ut oh, we might have a problem then, but I won’t pass judgment until I see what you brought us…

Blurb:

Spicing up her sex life sounds exciting…until the fantasy hits the fan.

When Maggie Drummond buys an erotic romance novel by mistake, she gets more than an unexpected eyeful. She gets an introduction to a world that arouses her to a fever pitch: Spanking.

Her boyfriend isn’t interested in pushing his vanilla-flavored sexual boundaries. Then there’s Connor Grey, who haunts her fantasies like a magical genie. As a source of masculine advice for her and her female friends, he’s off limits. The only safe place to explore her fetish is her anonymous blog.

The recent changes in Maggie don’t escape Connor’s notice. Now that her boyfriend has dropped her, he can finally—carefully—make his move. Given his family history, laying a hand on any woman, even in fun, is a line he’s reluctant to cross. But for Maggie? Anything the lady wants.

As Maggie gives in to the temptation to let Connor add some sin to her life, she finds herself juggling lies, half-truths, friendship and sensual delights. Her job is in jeopardy—and she’s falling in love. Exploring her fantasy is one thing, but she’s beginning to question if indulging her own pleasure is worth the cost to everyone around her. Especially Connor…

Well, I guess your cover works for admission, but first, what makes your character and story so special?

Maggie Drummond could be any one of us. Some people might call her ordinary. She works in the city and has a great circle of friends. She has a few body image problems, but she’s not paranoid about them. She’s conscientious about her job and enjoys the challenge, yet she’s very social and has fun during nights out at the pub, dinners and at rugby matches. Like many women, she has trouble meeting the right man and her current boyfriend is a little pompous. Maggie has dreams and a crush on one of her best friends. She also has things in her past that haunt her and she strives not to make the same mistakes. In The Bottom Line, Maggie decides she wants to change her life in a positive way and she takes steps to make this happen. I think her determined journey and the trials and tribulations she meets along the way make this a special story.

Alright, you can come in. We’ll see if we got some New Zealand wine around here…I could make you work for it. Hehe.

So, why did you want to become an author?

I’ve always been a keen reader and writing seemed an extension of my love of the written word. My parents read to my brother, sister and I a lot when we were kids and, once we could read on our own, we all became regular bookworms. My sister and I drifted toward mysteries and romance (which we both still read) while my brother enjoys sci-fi and fantasy. My sister-in-law is eternally grateful that he has an ereader now. There’s much more room in their garage!

When I was about seventeen, I decided I could write a romance. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult? After all, I read lots of books. (Yes, I can hear your sniggers all the way down here in New Zealand) I made several starts before my social life took off and writing took a back seat. My husband and I traveled after we were married, spending six years overseas. On our return, I started to think about writing again. One day I woke up and thought if I didn’t start writing soon, I’d run out of time. That week I discovered a romance writing course at my local university and came across an article about a local romance author, Susan Napier. She mentioned the Romance Writers of New Zealand in the article. I made enquiries, joined the organization and my writing career started.

New Zealand is starting to stick in my head… What do you like doing besides writing and reading? Is it dangerous?

I enjoy walking and cycling. (Could be construed as dangerous since I fell off my bike and ended up with a black eye. My husband didn’t like walking with me for a good week because of the weird looks people gave us) I usually carry my camera with me everywhere and take loads of photos. I love cooking, although my recent health kick/diet means I’m not doing as much baking and experimenting with recipes. And finally, both my husband and I like to travel. We try to get away to explore a new corner of the world every year. We’ve traveled extensively in Africa, Asia, Europe, Britain, Australia, USA and Central America. In December we did a cruise around New Zealand that took in several New Zealand ports as well as Hobart and ended in Sydney. In a couple of months we’re doing another cruise around Noumea, Vanuatu and Norfolk Island. We’re hoping to visit China next year, all things going well.

Wow. I’m impressed. Do you have a favorite of your own books and why?

I have a series called Middlemarch Mates. It’s a paranormal series about a community of black leopard shifters who live in the small New Zealand country town of Middlemarch. I’ve just finished writing the draft of the twelfth and final book in my series. It’s a little sad because the characters have become like a family to me. I know the ins and outs of their lives and they’re definitely my favorite books.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Managing to keep my butt in the chair and actually write. The idea part is easy, it’s the translation to paper that is really hard.

Very true. Who is your favorite author and why? Do you write what you read?

I have countless favorite authors and read widely. I’ll mention two newer authors who I’ve discovered during the last year. I enjoy Emma Wildes historical romances with their touches of humor. I’m currently reading Zoe Archer’s Warrior, which is a paranormal historical. I like the combination of magic and history plus the unique setting. Warrior is set in Mongolia.

I’m a big reader and constantly have a book on the go. I’m a big believer in writers using books as “textbooks” and learning the intricacies of writing a book. I think a writer learns and absorbs a lot while reading and the lessons learned become instinctive when you sit down and work on your own stories.

Do you like more Alpha or Beta heroes?

I definitely prefer the alpha end of the scale. I like strong characters who know what they want and rise to meet a challenge.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I’m a pantser. The moment I think about plotting my brain freezes. I like learning about the plot and what happens along with my characters. If I have a plan for my plot, I tend to lose interest. It’s no fun when I already know what happens.

Where can our partygoers find you and your work?

I write for four different publishers: Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Liquid Silver Books and Samhain Publishing and in lots of different genres. You can purchase/check out my books at these publishers or at places like All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online sellers like Books on Board and Diesel ebooks.

You’ll also find blurb, excerpts and purchase links at my website: http://www.shelleymunro.com

Thanks so much for coming!

Comment, have fun! One lucky winner will receive a print copy of The Bottom Line!


Jan 4 2011

What’s in a Name?

It’s Blog Wednesday! And we have Ms. Gabriella Hewitt here to talk about names! Don’t be shy! Join in the fun! You actually might get a good chuckle.


What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Shakespeare

Just like Romeo and Juliet, I am struggling with names right now. Finding the right name for a character is like finding jeans that fit. I agonize for days trying to find the perfect fit, trying on one pair after another. Some are too flamboyant, some too old-fashioned, some too ridiculous to contemplate and others too sappy that I have to wonder if they make my butt look big.

-Gabriella

LOL. Comment! Share your names and enter to win a PDF copy of Gabriella’s Dark Waters!

Blurb:

A predator stalks paradise and she’s next.

On a tropical isle, Frankie Montalvo discovers roots to a past she never knew. Tales of witchcraft, missing girls and el chupacabra surround her, but it will take more than superstitions to scare her away. Determined to create her own home, she enlists the help of an enigmatic beach bum.

Special Agent Rico Lopez has been to the depths of hell and back. He returns to his native island of Vieques to forget an ICE mission gone wrong only to find himself caught up in the search for a neighbor’s daughter—a victim of the legendary el chupacabra. Paradise has a predator and all leads point to a dilapidated old plantation and its sexy as sin owner. Lying to Frankie is the only way to do his job, but is he protecting her or himself?