Friday, August 24, 2012

On Write Support: Monthly Check up With Donna Alward

PHS Columnist Donna Alward is back with an update on her summer...conference, filling the well, and a milestone birthday!

Another month has passed. I made it through RWA Nationals in Anaheim, having a wonderful time with friends, meeting new people, and really learning some new things about this crazy industry. I fell hard with a girl crush for Robyn Carr (due to her awesome speech) and had lots of laughs with new peeps Deanna Raybourn and Trish Morey.

I came home utterly exhausted.
It was time for a break.

You see, I had planned to have *most* of the summer off to refill the well. I was already tired from writing copious amounts this past year. I’m not one bit sorry I did it. I was horrifically productive and it did set me up for the year to come. But it took a toll, and my mantra for a long time was “I just have to get through to June 30”. That was deadline day. I had planned to finish my deadline book AND the revisions my agent sent me on my single title.


Then I got sick. And school ended. And June 30 came and went. Revisions on my Harlequin Romance arrived and I had to drop everything. I sent them on the Friday before conference. I sent my single title revisions on the Monday night, and flew out Tuesday morning.

And when I flew home, it was without any awards, even though I’d been nominated for three.
I’m going to be utterly honest here and admit I was a bit disappointed. I felt some pressure going in. I had so much love and support that I really did feel that by not winning anything, I was letting people down. There's the high of being nominated, of going to the RITA reception and being congratulated when people see that green ribbon on your badge that keeps you alternately excited and terrified during the conference.  But I'd be a liar if I said there wasn't a post-ceremony let down.

Please don't misunderstand: that doesn’t in any way translate into NOT being happy for the winners. When Sarah Morgan won the RITA, I let out a celebratory whoop even though it wasn’t me. I was so pleased it went to her – she’d been nommed the year before, we’re edited out of the same office, and she’s LOVELY. We were all sitting together at the ceremony and I was completely happy for her.  All the Mills and Boon crowd went to the bar for some celebratory champagne - it was fab!

After the RITAs were over, my besties Fiona Harper and Jenna Bayley Burke and I went to the Samhain after party. The photographer there took my favourite pic of the conference! Cute, right?
But on the plane ride home, the inevitable thud came – on the heels of all the exhaustion.

My work wasn’t QUITE done, either – I spent another day agonizing over the synopsis for the single title, as my agent has sent it to my editor for a first read and I’m waiting rather anxiously for the verdict. This is what all the hard work was for. Completing my current contracts, a few shorter pieces for sheer fun and variety, and then the big Cahuna story. This has huge personal stakes for me. I’ve wanted it for a long time, and I feel really proud that I’ve written it from start to finish, and that my agent has given her approval and sent it out. But it all boils down to…

I NEEDED A BREAK. And I didn’t need a doctor to tell me so.
The birthday girl - bringing in laundry before
hitting the pool!
So I’ve taken it. We took the long weekend in August and visited my mum and stayed at my sisters and swam in the pool and played canasta until the wee hours. We came home and vegged and swam in OUR pool. We had company come from Alberta which was fabulous. We used to camp with them, and even though our kids haven’t seen each other in two years it was like they just picked up where they left off before. We ate ginormous amounts of food. We had campfires and made s’mores. We LAUGHED. We celebrated my 40th birthday with a lovely party complete with friends and family, food, and fireworks. We have a few more days until my husband has to go back to work and another week and a bit before the kids are in school.

And you know what?

My well is filled.
I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular schedule. I’m excited about starting my new story, which will be the 4th book in my Cadence Creek Cowboys series.  I’m not entirely sure what lies ahead – I have a couple of Romances to write but after that, who knows? But after just a few short weeks of stepping away, relaxing, and enjoying LIFE, I know that I’m ready to tackle it. As my daughter says… “Come at me, bro!” I’m ready.

Until Sept 5 and school starting, though, I’m putting on my marketing hat for some exciting things going on. You can get my debut Harlequin Romance, HIRED BY THE COWBOY for FREE on Kindle and Nook and also at

And on Tuesday the 28th, the second book in my FIRST RESPONDERS series from Samhain releases. It’s called IN THE LINE OF DUTY and is the follow up to OFF THE CLOCK. I can’t wait. It was such a fun novella to write. As a reviewer said, “What do you get when you cross a cop and an ex-Army bad boy? Pure sizzle.”
See you next month!


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  2. Glad you're feeling refreshed now, Donna.

    Unfortunately, I'm you but on a two-month time lag! (And with NO POOL!) I'm planning on refilling the well in October...if I last that long!