Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Meet Harlequin Romance Author Donna Alward

Meet Donna Alward 

A busy wife and mother of three (2 daughters and the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist.  

An avid reader since childhood, Donna always made up her own stories. She completed her Arts Degree in English Literature in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she penned her first full-length novel, and found herself hooked on writing romance.  In 2006 she sold her first manuscript.
From her home office in Nova Scotia, Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly 12 years in Alberta where her Harlequin career began, writing about cowboys and the west. Donna’s debut Romance, Hired by the Cowboy, was awarded the Booksellers Best Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Romance. 

With the Atlantic Ocean only minutes from her doorstep, Donna has found a fresh take on life and promises even more great romances in the near future!

Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website, visit her Facebook page, or through her publisher.  Twitter: @DonnaAlward

Book Description:

The cowboy…

After a hard day’s ranching, Wyatt Black wants to kick back with a cold beer.  But when he steps onto his porch he has unexpected company – his tiny abandoned baby niece! 

His doorstep baby…

Against her better judgment, his neighbour Elli Marchuk agrees to help Wyatt for a few days.
 And the girl next door!

Elli soon falls in love with baby Darcy, but it’s her grouchy, gorgeous protector who’s got her head over heels….

Welcome Donna Alward to Romance Author Buzz. Is there a back story to Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle?

Donna:   In a round about sense, yes.  I explore a bit about Post-Partum Depression in this story, which is a very personal issue as I was treated for it after the birth of my second child. At the same time, I watched friends of mine deal with the loss of their babies and how horribly devastating that is. It doesn’t seem like the two issues should go together, right? But it really works for my heroine. After such a loss, having to care for a baby is very bittersweet.

How long have you been writing and what was your call story?

Donna:   I’ve been writing seriously since 2001. It took 4 ½ years of writing and submitting and receiving rejections (lots of them!) before I got The Call. I sold two stories to Samhain Publishing in March and April of 2006, and a few months later I sold Hired By The Cowboy to Harlequin Romance. 2006 was a crazy, wonderful year.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Have you had other jobs along the way?

Donna:   After university I was busy working and kind of “forgot” about writing. Then we started a family and made the decision that I would stay home with the kids during their early years. So, I was a stay at home mom when I really started writing, which in a way was perfect as I never had to make the choice between income and what at the time seemed like indulgence. I fit it around my children’s waking hours and did a lot of writing in the early hours when my husband worked shift work and the kids weren’t up yet. It’s lovely and quiet at in the morning!

But, when my youngest started school and I still hadn’t sold, I had a chance to go back to work – at their school no less. I worked as a casual school assistant when they needed help for short term contracts, and I was a lunchroom supervisor. It doesn’t sound very glam, but it was wonderful. I knew my children’s friends and teachers. I had a fantastic work environment. I loved working with the kids and I could walk to work. I dabbled with the idea of going back to school so I could be certified, actually, but then… well, I started selling books and I never looked back.

Do you plot your stories or let your characters lead you?

Donna:   I am so not a plotter. My plot evolves from the characters and the situation they find themselves in. I usually have that firmly in my mind and I also usually have a few key scenes in my head – sometimes they don’t make it into the book, but most of the time they do. Other than that though, I write what needs to happen next and let what has happened lead me into the following scene. The structure kind of comes to me naturally now, so I worry a lot less about making my characters behave and try to fit them into a plotting box. Most of the time they hate that and make things a real mess for me. LOL

Of all of your characters, do you have a favorite you identify with and why?

Donna:   Oh, I definitely have favourites. I adore the hero from the book I just finished. He really grew on me and when I reached the end I was just…could you be any more lovely? I also have a huge soft spot for Noah, my hero from Her Lone Cowboy. And I’ve always loved Alexis, the heroine from my debut, Hired By The Cowboy.

What are you currently working on?

Donna:   I just handed in my latest, so right now I’m doing revisions on a novella for Samhain Publishing, and then it’s right into my next proposal for Harlequin Romance – and I have some ideas stewing that I think are going to be great. I do know it’s going to be a duet so I’m thinking about concept as well as the characters of the first book.

What is the best thing about your job as an author? What is the hardest thing?

Donna:   The best thing is reader mail. I love hearing from readers, and the second best thing is when author copies come in the mail and I get to hold them in my hands. It truly never gets old.

The hardest thing?  Time management I think will be the hardest thing forever. And self-doubt. Rejections, revisions – these are parts of the business that you still have to worry about after you’re published. They can really be confidence killers if you’re not careful.

If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?

Donna:   The relevance of Category Romance novels in today’s world.
Describe a day in the life of Donna Alward.

Donna:   I get up at and spent the next 2 hours getting people ready for work/school, eating breakfast, checking e-mail, and walking the dog. Maybe putting in a load of laundry. Then I work until (taking a break for lunch) when my youngest gets home. She is a total chatterbox so any attempt to concentrate is blown – for at least 15 minutes it is catching up on her day. Her sister gets home (most days) an hour later and then the two of them have to catch up with each other…and an hour after that the Lord and Master is home. It does mean that unless truly pressed or on a roll, I do admin stuff after , because my mind is so frequently pulled out of the story.

4:30 is time to hit the home gym with The Mister (aka Lord and Master and Dearest Husband) and then dinner and minor housework and possibly playing chauffeur on sports days – both my girls are in different programs so we don’t run a lot, but there is a certain amount of transportation required. They go off to bed, I chillax for an hour with a book or fave tv show, and then it’s off to la la land.

What is something you definitely want readers to know about you?

Donna:   That I truly value them. Readers are the whole point, really. And I try with every book to tell a story that’s going to touch their heart and leave them with a smile at the end.

When the time comes for you to retire from writing, what would you like your readers to remember the most about you and your writing?

Donna:   RETIRE???????????? That’s so not on my radar… I can imagine slowing down, taking time to travel and hopefully enjoy grandbabies many years down the road. But I truly can’t imagine a world where I’m not working on SOMETHING.

Who is your favorite author?

Donna:   LaVyrle Spencer, hands down, no contest. I will heart her forever. She got me hooked on romance and I’ve read all her books so many times they are falling apart.

What are you currently reading?

It’s RITA season! Which means my current reads are a well-guarded secret. I can say that I’m enjoying them tons. I got GREAT books this year. 

Before I let you go is there anything I forgot to ask that you want the readers and fans to know?

Donna:   Yes, a couple of things, actually! At Try Harlequin, my debut Romance HIRED BY THE COWBOY is available for free download this year! And for more freebies, to celebrate the release of PROUD RANCHER, PRECIOUS BUNDLE this month, I have an online read beginning on Valentine’s Day at EHarlequin. It’s called REMEMBER ME, COWBOY and it’s my first ever amnesia story. It was so much fun to write!

And February’s a big month: my Samhain title SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER is out in print beginning February 1.

Donna, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me!

Donna’s Website
Facebook Page Donna Alward, Romance Author
Twitter: @DonnaAlward
Donna’s Blog

I’ll give a copy of my new Romance release, Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle away! Just answer this question and send it to me at my email address:  donnaalward@hotmail.com

Why is baby Darcy crying? You can find the answer at my website.  Winner will be announced February 27th.


Laney4 said...

Thanks, Marilyn, for offering another interesting blog interview.

I can relate, Donna, to your comment about LaVyrle Spencer. I enjoyed sooo many of her books (Bittersweet, Bygones, Forgiving, Heart Speaks, Morning Glory, Separate Beds, A Promise to Cherish, Forsaking All Others, The Endearment, The Fulfilment, The Hellion, November of the Heart, Spring Fancy, Sweet Memories, Twice Loved, Vows, Years, and The Hummingbird). Yes, she's that good that I keep track. I have a list of her books I've read so that I can pick up any missing ones when I'm out and about (but they are hard to find).

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, Marilyn (although I wish my stupid TBR mountain ranges weren't so big!). I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail about this. I've got it posted at West of Mars Win a Book -- be sure to stop in and see what I wrote as I posted this one!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Susan, thanks.....you're the best!

Julianne MacLean said...

Lovely interview ladies. Looking forward to getting my hands on your new book, Donna!

Donna Alward said...

Thanks everyone - and to Marilyn for inviting me! :-)

Susan - thanks for the link and I know just what you mean about TBRs...


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