Today the Minxes feature the lovely Donna Alward who is so unselfish with her time and always has such wonderful advice for struggling pre-pubbed writers. After reading Donna's answers to our Minxy questions, we're sure you'll join us in thanking Donna for taking time out of her hectic schedule to join us today!
1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
UNPUBLISHED! I was getting close though--I sold my first book 9 months later (in March, 2006) so I was probably working on the book or books that ended up being my first sales.
2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE, which is my first reprint, was actually inspired by a book I wrote before selling. So many things didn't work in the early version, but I did like the idea of a heroine trying to reclaim her life and doing it in the small Rocky Mountain resort town of Banff. The original story had an English story, and I rewrote it with a sexy Italian. I had the heroine as an assistant too, and in this story, she's the acting manager. It does make her butt heads with the hero quite often - something that really puts her out of her comfort zone. And I gave her a different backstory, too - one that really ended up being quite emotional and I loved writing her character arc and how she found herself and also gained her confidence again. Mari has a lot of courage, and Luca is strong and yet gentle enough to understand what it is she needs.
3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Now that would be jinxing myself wouldn't it? And yet--I've always believed in seeing where you want to be and going for it. David Foster said in his book "Hitman" that the road to success is straight let's just say I still see myself writing, and hopefully expanding my readership in a big way. I also see myself putting in a lot of work to get there ... by then I'll have girls in high school so I also hope to still be SANE. :-)
4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Oh, Gosh! I read the More Than Words anthology which features Harlequin bestsellers and really enjoyed it. I also read Jessica Hart's Oh-So-Sensible Secretary, and had writer envy most of the way through. But Jessica's voice is so very different from mine. I really don't want to emulate anyone. I just want to write the best Donna Alward book I possibly can.
5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I say this so often, but LaVyrle Spencer made me fall in love with Romance novels and I have always kind of hoped that I might tap into a fraction of the wonderful warm feelings her writing inspires. I have read her books so often most of them are falling apart. I have been writing since I was a child, but I can't deny the influence her stories have had on me.
6. As a writer for the HMB Romance line, can you tell us what drew you to that line or did the line 'choose' you?
The line kind of chose me - once I found my voice. I fit there. Once I figured it out, it became easier to write the kind of story I needed to write. I knew what sort of story they were looking for and I had the voice for it. It was then a matter of working to get the writing and story elements in line. It took me a few mss to get there, but I finally hit the right notes with HIRED BY THE COWBOY.
7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
After 19 years with the same man, 15 of those married - I can't list just one. But there are moments that stand out. Our first kiss. Dancing beneath the stars while our children slept in the camper. Finishing my first novel and calling him at work to tell him I wrote THE END - and having him show up late for dinner. I gave him a hard time until he told me he'd stopped on the way home to buy me something to celebrate - a new watch. But it's not grand gestures. It's sitting together on the deck and having him reach over and take my hand, or ordering supper if I've had a crazy day. That's real. That's what keeps you going through the tough times.
8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
How hard I'd work. It doesn't get easier; in fact it gets harder as you go along. Being published isn't the key to the city. There may still be rejections, struggles, missed deadlines, poor sales, stress over time management ... I wasn't completely prepared for that. But, you know, I've had books that didn't sell as well as I'd hoped, I've had rejections, and I still get frustrated when writing feels like pulling teeth and I'm still here. Still writing. Still loving the mailman when he delivers author copies and smiling when I get reader mail. It's a damned hard job, but it's a good one. :-) I can't imagine doing anything else.
9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Oh gosh! I've had a lot of good advice but I'll never forget my first editor at Mills and Boon, Maddie West, telling me to go ahead and take risks. Editorial can always pull you back if you go too far, but taking risks can really result in extraordinary fresh stories.
10. Tell us about your latest release.
This year has been crazy with releases which is very good for me. :-) I had an ebook release from Samhain Publishing in April - Sold to the Highest Bidder. It will be out in print in February. July sees the reprint Hired: The Italian's Bride in the UK in the anthology Mediterranean Men and Marriage along with stories by Carol Grace and Raye Morgan. Then in October, Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is out in the UK, and will be out in North America in February 2011. I round out the year with two releases in November - a reprint of A Bride for Rocking H Ranch, a Christmas novella in another UK anthology and Breathe from Samhain Publishing. There are excerpts from all these titles on my website.
11. What's next for you?
I have two more stories written for the romance line that are just waiting for final approval and revisions. This summer I am switching gears a bit to work on an independent project that I'm really excited about. I can't wait to get some chapters in the hands of my agent!
You can catch up with me at my website http://www.donnaalward.com/. I'm also on Facebook - Donna Alward, Romance Author and on Twitter - @donnaalward. Stop by any of those places and say hi!