Friday, April 27, 2012

On Write Support: Monthly Checkup with Donna Alward

This month I told PHS editor Jenna Bayley-Burke that the title of my checkup post was going to be Good News, Bad News, spin in a circle and collapse in a heap.

There are some months that just kick the crap out of a writer. A perfect storm of things that occur and that by the end of it your head is spinning and you're still not quite sure where you are. And by the way, it doesn't have to be negative things, either. Having good things happen can still take a lot of energy - physical, mental, and emotional. So welcome to my roller coaster, otherwise known as the month of April...

Let's start with good news on the work front because there's lots of it.  HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART got another contest nom in the form of the National Reader's Choice Awards - that makes it a lovely round hat trick of three nominations this year and that is amazing and a bit overwhelming to be honest. Sometimes when you write a book it is particularly meaningful and you HOPE that readers see that too. To actually have it happen - that's pretty special. I also wrote this book after coming off a bunch of rejections, at a time when I was really struggling. I think those times happen when a writer is growing, and I definitely had some growing pains. If this is what came out the other side, they were worth it.

I also proposed a new story to my editor and got the thumbs up, so I'm starting a new story set again in Cadence Creek (the setting of my duet releasing May and June!).  I'm really excited about it.

My buddy Fiona Harper let me know she's going to RWA Nationals, so I have a roommate and I'm so thrilled that I'm going to see her again!

Those are all good things, but being excited can be draining. A good draining, but draining just the same. Now add in the bad news, which isn't exactly BAD, just...well, the nitty gritty of life as a writer.

The truth is that while I'm excited about the RITA nomination, I haven't actually had time to think much about it. I took a few months between deadlines especially to work on a new project. I only had (have) a finite amount of time to work on it. Why? Well, I have three more deadlines coming up, and I do want to have it spit-shined and ready to go by conference. It is easily the hardest thing I've ever written; it's challenged me no end, I've had several crises of confidence about it and I'm actually very, very proud to have written THE END of it - at least now I have a complete manuscript to mold and shape. Instead of resting on my laurels, I spent most of April working very, very hard, promising myself I'd think of the other fun stuff later.

I also did edits on my August Samhain release, IN THE LINE OF DUTY.

And I have spent far too much time in my desk chair and despite 2 daily walks and regular workouts, my back is rebelling.

So the spinning in a circle? Well, I don't live in a bubble. The last few days of March included a 3 day intensive musical weekend for my youngest. Right after Easter, badminton season started up for the eldest, and the whole of that season is pretty much packed into 2 weeks - we had Zones, Counties, Regionals, Zone Finals, and Provincials. The good news is that my eldest and her doubles partner came in first in every tournament except provincials, in which they came second. It was a great year for her!

There was choir rehearsal, after school clubs, furniture pickups, orthodontist appointments, meeting with the accountant, hot lunch, music festival, HOUSEWORK (can't forget that)...all in around my "OMG I need to write 40,000 words this month". And honestly - by the time I hit last weekend I'd reached the "collapse in a heap with a bottle of wine and bar of chocolate the size of the Hindenberg" stage.

If I told all this to my imaginary "doctor" of this column, I'm pretty sure the advice would be "Hey Lady, slow down!"

The truth is, sometimes you can't really slow down, you just have to go through it a step at a time, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel. Get enough sleep (I'm trying). Eat well. (Check) Get regular exercise. (Check) And in the end, plan a reward. I've done that, and I'll be telling you about it next month (since it's happening in May).

And now here's the part where I let you know what I've got coming up: you can check out my new releases this month. First of all my short story, SECOND-CHANCE MOTHER in the digital anthology THE GREATEST GIFT: A Harlequin Mother's Day Collection. Meet Ben and Cami. Ben's head of the local RCMP detachment in Cadence Creek and Cami is a lawyer who does a lot of work helping troubled kids. Imagine her surprise when she finds out Ben is a dad...

Then enjoy more Cadence Creek in THE LAST REAL COWBOY, the first book in my Cadence Creek Cowboys duet. Sam Diamond is trouble. And social worker Angela Beck is just the woman to keep him on the straight and narrow.

See you next month - when I hope to be a little more zen.

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