08-18-18 – Best Selling Canadian Romance Author Donna Alward

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Dream Come True? #amwriting

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions.
I've been writing all my life, but I never considered ever being a published author. I wanted to be an elf, then a Jedi, and then a veterinarian. When I realised the first two weren't going to happen other than in my imagination (although cosplay has allowed me to at least play the parts) and not quite making the university grade requirements for the last, and with my parents aiming for the messiest divorce in the galaxy, I opted for employment.
I got to be a real life mad scientist - well, an analytical chemist anyway - which at least satisfied my love of things scientific.
Up until this point, I wrote purely for the love of writing, of creating worlds, of spinning words together and making them work magic for me. I'd never finished anything anyway that I could ever have submitted. But while me parents were turning my real world upsidedown, the BBC were disrupting my fictional world too. As a lifelong fan of long running scifi series Doctor Who, the news of its demise was just another blow.
18yo me with Sylvester McCoy
In an attempt to heal my broken heart, I spent a frenzied three weeks of Christmas holiday scribbling a 40K story featuring the current regeneration of the Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. It was the first thing I'd ever completed (and quite possibly part of the reason I didn't make the exam grades I needed. Oops?).

I was so happy to have written something start to finish, but now I had, what to do with it?!
Submitting it seemed the logical step (I wish in some ways I could be as naive and innocent as back then). I knew zip about publishing - I got the address of the publisher from the back of one of my many Doctor Who books and just sent it off (I had looked up how to format it and took the time to do so, so not completely ignorant). I got a very nice rejection letter (I wasn't disappointed because I'd expected nothing), full of constructive criticism (something you'd be unlikely to get now. Years later my husband was at a signing for a well known horror author (Graham Joyce) who told him my 'rejection' was pretty much a 'revise and re-submit'!). The simple fact of a response, and one full of advice and compliments on my writing stayed with me for years, even though it took me another two decades to finish another MS.

When I did finish that second story - again, a frenzied few weeks of scribbling after years of not writing - I faced the same dilemma. Did I stuff it in a drawer or try for publication? This time I had the internet to turn to for guidance, and I had the bonus luck of another new author who took me under her wing. She told me the bare-faced reality of today's publishing, that it wasn't the gateway to instant fame and fortune, that luck and hard work were as important as talent, that there are plenty of scammers out there waiting to take your money, that not everyone will love your book...she saved me from a lot of mistakes and cushioned many of the blows.
Even so, publishing has been tough for me and I've been close to quitting a couple of times. Burn-out has meant I've only lately rediscovered my love for the simple act of writing itself, which is after all why I started down this path.
While publishing wasn't the dream come true I thought it would be, I am proud of my achievements today. The eighteen year old me scribbling her Doctor Who story would be amazed to see it led to 17 titles published, with my debut novel still my best seller and a new release coming 1st of September. She wouldn't believe it if I went back in time and told her! But I hope it might make her feel a little less lost.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Living the dream....

I'M SOOO SORRY THIS IS LATE!!! MY HUSBAND IS ON VACATION AND I'M MINDLESS... Everyone has a different dream. And it's okay to have different dreams. This was hard for me to wrap my mind around when I was younger... I fell into that trap of well, if that is what Sally is dreaming then that's what I need to be dreaming. It didn't matter that I didn't want to live in Kayak...it was Sally's dream so it had to be mine.

Luckily, I grew out of that stage..but I do still kayak.
My bestfriend ... 
Kayaking on the river by our house

 Now I am honestly living my dream...

I live less than 2 miles from this....

I hang out this great kid everyday...

I have bakery less than 3 miles that make these wonderful doughnuts....

And this book will be released next Tuesday (you can pre-order it now to help with my dream ;-P - https://www.books2read.com/u/4AYAeA (It will be available August 21))

It's not always easy to remember I'm living my dream...

While I have beautiful shoreline just minutes from house, I live in a very oppressed area. At least 1 person is shot every week... it doesn't always result in death but on May 29th it did. My son was killed. He had lost his way and was living a hard life. That doesn't make his death any easier on this mom's heart.

I know will be raising my grandson as a solo grandma. His dad will be gone forever. Gone are the dreams that my son/his dad would find his way. Gone are my dreams of playing Grandma.

The doughnuts have tons of calories and are bad for my health.

And what if no one buys my book?

I've gone from living the dream to residing in the nightmare. Where can I find and join Sally???

But then my grandson runs into my office and says - "Gramma hear that? That's the lake calling us. It picked us to go swimming today." (We love Moana) And he holds out my swimsuit.

And really I don't care if doughnuts have calories...I hang out a few minutes longer on the treadmill.

I do want people to buy my book...to like my book. But I don't write just for that. I write because it's what my soul needs to be healthy.

The key to living the dream...knowing that even dreams will have a storm or two. Get an umberlla and continue living your dream.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next month.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Of Dreams and Elephants

Dreams are essential. Dreams give us purpose and having a purpose is one of the steps to being happy. I have to admit that with regards to my writing, I don’t dream big. Well not that I consciously admit to anyone, or myself. I think I am guarding myself from failure but the big dreams flit through my mind now and then, they just don’t settle. This is because I believe the best way to achieve the big dreams is to start small – and achievable.

My biggest writing dream (and probably that of most writers) is to make reasonable money from writing. A worthy dream, but one that (to quote a well known tv ad) won’t happen overnight. Rather than wasting emotional energy on bemoaning the fact that that’s not the current situation, and beating myself up because it’s not happening, it’s more productive (practically and emotionally) to concentrate on smaller steps that can be taken to get there.

 Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

One writing dream (naturally) was ‘to be published’. I’m a lazy writer and it wasn’t a dream I pursued with any real determination (the reasons why would take a month's worth of blog posts) but having multiple stories with only three chapters written didn’t help!) When I saw a call for short romance from a small publisher I thought ‘why not?’ It was more to motivate me to actually finish something and send it out, which I did. When my story was accepted, that was a ‘dream come true’. A publisher (didn’t matter they were small) thought my work was good enough to put out into the world. Such a confidence boost. Maybe I could actually write !

With that story, and my next two with the same publisher, I probably made enough money to have a nice dinner out, but it was a small bite into my 'elephant', and it was a start. 

My elephant is still very much in tact, but I’m planning my next bites. My small, achievable dreams.

Another nibble will be to put out a couple of box sets. I have the rights back to my published ‘shorts’ and instead of leaving them to languish in my ‘re-release’ folder, I’m going to bundle them up and self-publish. The bigger part of the dream is that some people might actually buy and read them ! Oh, and like them!

I will also clear my ‘started bits’ and ‘ideas’ folders by writing the stories that have started to brew in my imagination but I’m trying to be disciplined and just work on one project at a time. 

Submitting to publishers again will take a chunk out of the elephant. While self-publishing has come such a long way in a short time, and is now well-respected and has credibility, a part of me still craves the affirmation of ‘professionals’ that I’m good at what I do. The RWAustralia conference is in my home town of Melbourne next year and I'll be pitching the completed first book of my planned Bedford Brothers series (it's here in writing so now I have to take this 'bite').

Even once I've 'eaten the elephant', there is no guarantee my big dream will materialize, but in the process I'm lucky enough to be able to  'live the dream' of being an author. Of having as much time as I need to pursue my passion, of having an awesome 'tribe' to share the journey

As for other dreams, right at this moment it's of the cup of coffee I can rewarding myself with for finishing this post!

Visit Andra at www.andraashe.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

10 Reasons Canada is the Most Romantic Country

by Madelle Morgan

This month the blog is hosting Canadian romance authors. Here are a few reasons why Canada is such a romantic country.

1.  Quebec City—the most romantic city in North America. Winters are so cold you have to snuggle under the blankets, like in this calèche (horse & carriage).

2. Prime minister Justin Trudeau. Enough said...

3. Niagara Fallsa traditional honeymoon destination. 

4. Long nights and Northern Lights.

5. Harlequin—the world's biggest romance publisher originated in Canada. It's now a division of HarperCollins.

6. Hunky Canadian hockey players, many of whom, like Mike Fisher, Carrie Underwood's husband, play(ed) on American teams. You're welcome!

Canadians can lease Crown land for wilderness cabins

7. The wilderness is owned by all Canadians. The majority of Canada's remote lake shores, forests, mountains, and tundra is well beyond the roads network, accessible only by air or water. Only 11 percent of Canada's landmass is in private hands, most of that in a swath along the Canada-United States border. The Crown (government) controls the rest, although aboriginals have legal rights via land claims. They were here first.

8. Canadian Hollywood stars (male): Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Nathan Fillion (Castle), Hayden Christensen (Star Wars), Jason Priestly (90210), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and many more.

9. Canadian Hollywood stars (female): Neve Campbell, Cobie Smulders, Rachel McAdams, Sandra Oh, Anna Paquin, Sarah Chalke, Tamara Taylor (Bones) and many more.

10. French is a romance language and Canada is a bilingual country—English and French! Regardless of the fact that Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian also have Roman/Latin roots, French is the language of love. Why else would it be called "French" kiss?

About Madelle

Quebec City / Ville de Québec is Madelle's hometown. After university she slept for five years under the northern lights in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (where her romantic suspense, Diamond Hunter, is set. 

She now lives and writes in Ottawa, Canada's capital. She's traveled to every province and territory in the immense country of Canada, and has dipped her toes in the three oceans touching Canada's shores. She speaks French and English.

Connect with Madelle on her website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad

Madelle writes romance set in Canada. Find all her books on Amazon.com

Monday, August 13, 2018

Writing Dreams/Writing Reality

By: Marcia King-Gamble

Being a published author was never a dream of  mine. In fact, it was something I fell into. But once that happened, writing became a total obsession. At the risk of boring you, I will briefly repeat my story. I was a freelance reader for seven years. I had read thousands of plots, giving the publishing house my thoughts on which was worth a second look, and which might be worth publishing. I simply woke up one day and said, "maybe I can do this." One rejection from a publisher later, I received  “the call.”  Oh glorious day! This is always a memorable moment in any author’s life. It’s the kind of surreal moment when you pinch yourself or scream loudly.  After much sweat, blood and sacrifice, your hard work has paid off.

Like the day John Lennon and John F Kennedy Jr. were brutally gunned down, you always remember where you were when “the call”came. I was working for a cruise line and the phones were ringing non-stop. I was in my office when my private line rang.  A cheery voice greeted me, “This is Monica Harris from Kensington Publishing. We put you through a lot, but I’m calling with good news. We’re offering you a two book contract.”

 I’m not a screamer but I screamed. Thankfully my office door was closed. I’d met this editor at a conference about a year ago. At that time she was acquiring historical romances. I didn’t write historicals, so my conversation with her though pleasant, had little to do with writing.

Twenty years and forty plus books later, I have realized many writing dreams and have learned some hard realities along the way. While many of my dreams were realized, others are still pending. Yes, I’ve written for a variety of publishers and I’ve published on my own. I’ve written series books and bigger books that are called mainstream or trade. I’ve had the good fortune to write at least four of these bigger books for traditional publishers. Books like Jade, This Way Home, Shattered Images and Hook, Line and Single, along with those I self-published. I’ve even sold four of my books to Audible.

One of the harsh realities of this writing business is you better be disciplined, meaning in order to earn a living and produce, you must write every day. For traditionally published authors, it is not unrealistic to be expected to produce three to four books a year. Indie authors need to have something to put out every 60-90 days or you get forgotten. It’s the only way to earn more than gas money in this highly competitive market. You’ll need to have at least 8 to 9 books out there to make any substantial money That unfortunately is a harsh reality.    

Another reality is you better know how to market yourself or have the wherewithal to hire someone who markets you.  It’s not enough for an author to just write these days, you must connect with your reading audience and build them. This often means putting yourself out there and navigating the world of social media. You rarely want to turn down interviews or opportunities to blog. And you better show up for conferences. One of the most powerful marketing tools an author can have is her newsletter. Don’t underestimate the power of a newsletter and its reachability.

Yet another harsh reality is that authors are responsible for their own health insurance, and there is no such thing as a 401K. I know this is  a grim picture I paint, but I have several New York Times Bestseller friends that have gone bankrupt.  This less than glamorous business,while highly rewarding,  needs writers to Mind Their Business (a workshop I teach).

Traditionally published authors need to know such things as their print run. They need to read the fine print on their contract. Indies have to make an even more concerted effort to connect with their reading audience, and must constantly remind them that they are out there. The Indie author lays out money from his/her own pocket just to be visible. She must pay cover artist, editors and even formatters.

So why do we keep at it? Because it’s an addiction. As writers we continue to write to feel fulfilled. It’s not something we can stop doing. It’s in the blood. But a word of caution, since few of us are Danielle Steel or the prolific La Nora, while you continue to write, do keep your day job.

About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Canadian Bestselling Author Sharon Page

I'm Sharon Page, author of over 20 Regency historical romances and now two 20th century historical women's fiction novels—An American Duchess and The Worthington Wife, both published by Harlequin HQN.

Research Trip to England
I’ve had many fun experiences as an author, but taking a research trip through England was one of the most enjoyable. My plan was three-pronged: to see Regency settings in London, the streets where Jack the Ripper prowled (for a future book idea), and the moors of Dartmoor.

My research on Dartmoor would lead to my first major self-published book, Escape with a Rogue. (The gorgeous cover is by Croco Designs.)

 Here's one of my first views of the moors:

Here's the blurb for Escape with a Rogue:

Can a gently bred young lady prove that a notorious gaming hell owner who escaped from prison is innocent of murder? Wrongfully convicted, Jack Travers has spent two years in jail, first on a dismal prison hulk, then in isolated Dartmoor Prison. Can Lady Madeline Ashby heal his wounded heart and troubled soul?

In the story, Lady Madeline is determined to prove Jack’s innocence and she helps him escape Dartmoor Prison. At that time, local farmers brought in their goods for market days, a fact that allows Madeline a chance to sneak in.

Above is the entry gate to the prison. I stayed in a lovely inn that was the former prison governor’s house. I was able to walk in my character’s shoes—even following a track across the moors that I use for their escape route. All went well until I found a fork in the trail. Desperate, I even asked the sheep for directions and they weren’t impressed. In the end, I made a choice—fortunately it was the right one.

The moors are still remarkably desolate. There are many dangerous bogs.

Back in London, I toured Mayfair and even went up to the front steps of White’s Gentlemen’s Club on St. James’s Street, a setting I have used in many Regency England-set romances. A friend and I took our pictures there (though the doorman came out and told us it was for members only).

It was a dream trip. I took hundreds of photographs to have for reference (including the ones here). And the research came in handy for my latest book, The Worthington Wife, set in the 1920s in England.

Thanks so much for having me here.


About the Author
Sharon Page is a New York Times and USA Today Bestseller of historical romance. She has also penned two romantic women’s fiction titles, An American Duchess and The Worthington Wife. A mother of two, she lives in Canada.

See all of Sharon's novels on her website www.SharonPage.com

Subscribe to Sharon's newsletter for announcements, special excerpts, book tidbits, and giveaways!

Contact Sharon on  Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fair, Fair, Oh, how I love Fairs!!!

by Diana McCollum

Diana writes paranormal romance, always with a happily ever after. In her latest book "The Witch with the Trident Tattoo" you'll find a heroine and hero to root for as they fight against an evil force set on killing all life in the oceans. Along the way are colorful characters. A teenage mermaid with pink hair who can come on land for short periods of time,  an octopus familiar named James, and a host of others.

A great summer read, "The Witch with the Trident Tattoo".

Fairs have been around since before 500 B.C. Fairs were mentioned in the bible as places to socialize and sell goods.

Over time, the fair morphed away from religion and commerce and into periodic gatherings attended by crafters, food brokers, clothing stalls and livestock for show and sale. People bartered for, and exchanged goods, not that much money changed hands, but lots of goods did.

The actual first date of the original fair is unknown. 

The first fair in America was recorded in 1765, in Windsor, Nova Scotia. In 1792, the first fair of Niagara was held, by the Niagara Agricultural Society. Both of these fairs still occur each year right through the present day.

Today, there are around 2,000 fairs each year in North America.

Now days fairs include, but are not limited to: food, shows, rodeos, games to play for prizes, carnival rides, 4-H exhibits, horticulture, livestock, all kinds of new innovated things for sale!

Personally, I love the fair! Hubby and I try to go every year. Here in Deschutes County there is one day , usually opening day, when seniors get in free. We missed that day this year, hubby wasn’t feeling well, but did go the next day to walk through the exhibits. 

What I learned is there are so, so many talented people in this world. From paintings by 13-year-old kids to gorgeous photography to quilts that are definitely a work of art, it humbled me to see all the creations by everyday amateur individuals.
Most exciting, unusual thing we saw? A couple cowboys riding Long Horn Bulls through the streets of the fairgrounds!

Most beautiful craft was this quilt.

Most beautiful flower? This two toned gladiola. 

The most exotic thing? This Styrofoam head decorated with food and flowers.
Do you have a fair near you, and if you do, what do you like doing the best? For me it’s the inside exhibits, including the animal barns.