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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Dreaming the Impossible

by M. L. Buchman

I'm a huge fan of goals. Unless you have a lot of time, don't ever get me started about Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale... See what I mean?

Thinking ahead is part of what I do. I'm not even sure where I learned it. High school theater I think. We did three large productions a year. I rose from grunt carpenter's hand through the lighting crew to Technical Director and set designer (the only student designed set we ever used). Not only did I run the theater, I taught a weekly course for my entire senior year to train the next generation of theater folks. I did it because I could see that without it, the theater program would never be as good as it could be. And though I didn't continue in the field (much), almost every one of those dozen students made a lifetime career out of it.

I jumped into corporate and I was always looking ahead, setting goals that the company never imagined. Automation, new methods of operation, lean process--I reengineered five or six different firms from the inside. And I'd have to say the biggest lesson for me was that without the goal, without the dream? Squat happens.

This post wasn't going to be about goals...but I seem to be here anyway. Jim Collins (Built to Last and Good to Great--two awesome studies of success in corporate America) talks about the power of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).

Without BHAGs, my old high school theater might well have languished rather than inspired. Any number of corporations might have followed different paths. Some better, some worse...no way to know, but I like to think that the former is far more true. (My various bosses, even years after I left, were inclined to agree with me.)

Speaking of BHAGs: Way back in 1993 I had the idea that I wanted to write a book. I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis, had lost everything (job, career, house, etc), and I'd decided to ride my bicycle around the world for a couple of years. Along the way, I wrote my first novel. Which became book #1 of my Deities Anonymous series: Cookbook From Hell: Reheated.

To that moment, I had written under 2,000 words of fiction in my entire life.

By the time I finished that book, (and took a class, and threw out the manuscript, and rewrote the book, then survived the edits, then...), I knew what I wanted to do.

"I want to make my full-time living as a writer."

Definitely a BHAG worthy of Jim Collins, for a corporate project manager who loved to read but had no experience writing more than a computer manual or systems proposal. What a goal like that does, is that it focuses the attention. It would be another fifteen years from the publication of that first book to walking away from my corporate job to become a full-time writer.

HOWEVER, if I hadn't had that dream, that goal, where would I be? I wouldn't have spent too much on conferences. I wouldn't have read an entire bookcase worth of how-to books. I wouldn't have spent so much effort learning or sacrificed so much to attend so many classes. And I wouldn't have written 55 novels and 70 short stories. www.mlbuchman.com

It was by having the crazy dream...that it turned out to not be so crazy after all.

Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award.

He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Writing Dreams Started with a Dream...by Kristin Wallace

The August topic is “My Writing Dreams”. Ironic since my writing dreams literally started with a dream. It happened in high school. I had been a voracious reader from a young age. The Little Golden Books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, the Chronicles of Narnia, Sweet Valley High, you name it, I would read it. 

I eventually found romance novels as a teenager and would read them all the time. Then one night I had a dream. We all have them, of course, but usually we forget it the minute we wake up. This dream was different. It was really vivid and appeared like a scene from a book or movie. The dream stayed with me after I woke up, so I wrote it down on paper (by hand…I didn’t know how to type back then). Then I just kept on writing, sort of like Forrest Gump when he starts running and then doesn’t stop for 2 years. I had no idea what I was doing, of course, and I certainly never thought about making a career in publishing. It was just something I did for fun. 

I started writing a number of stories in the years after that, but I never finished anything. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I had the "great epiphany" that I was supposed to be a writer. Even then I couldn’t figure out how to make that a reality. It took 10 years before I got my act together enough to join a writer’s organization (Romance Writers of America) and seriously pursue publication. 

The first book
That was in 2005, but I still did not realize the “dream” of publishing a novel until 2013. In between, I experienced A LOT of rejections. There were plenty of “close calls” where editors loved my writing and my story…“but”. As in “but our schedule is full”, “but we don’t know how to market this book”, “but we just signed another author with a series about wedding planners”. Oh there were so many ways to say “but…we’re still rejecting you”. Then I finally got a “yes” from someone, a small digital publisher. That first book was MARRY ME. Then indie publishing came along and I was finally able to make my own publishing dreams come true. (Although I will say that the time I spent getting rejected and revising and learning was not wasted.) 

Five years later, I now have 14 books published with two more on the way this fall. The indie world is tough and I still haven’t achieved the kind of success I want, but every book is a chance to try again.

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She has three series, Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance), Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance), and The Heiress Games/Palm Cove Tales, a sweet contemporary series that sees three very different women competing for custody of a pampered pig…and a $120 million fortune. Buy the books individually or download the Complete Heiress Games Box Set.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Canadian Romance Author Donna Alward

What's your Passion?

by Donna Alward
I always wanted to be a writer. When I graduated university, I had this backup plan of traveling to England and writing in a little cottage for six months. I’d taken creative writing courses (I did my degree in English Lit), wrote a lot of poetry and short stories, and wanted to try a novel.

I took a bit of a detour from that dream for a few years, and never did move to England (though I did manage a trip there in 2007). But in 2001 I started a novel which turned out to be a romance, and I fell in love with the process. Now, twelve years after my first sale, I’m fifty-odd books into my career and I love it.

I always thought writing – and writing romance in particular – was my passion. And it is, in a way. But this year life changed a bit more. I’ve got two kids in university. And the publishing biz is really, really tough right now. I decided to look for some part time work to supplement my income, and just before Christmas got a job at a chocolate shop. Can you imagine a happier place than a chocolate shop at Christmas? I love it.

I took on another part time job in the late spring, working for a bookstore. I mean, if I’m going to work retail, it doesn’t get much better than books and chocolate, right?

I absolutely love working retail (and I only get the odd grouchy customer). There are many reasons, but it wasn’t until I attended a company summit that I realized that I’m actually mislabeled my passion. I thought it was for writing and happy endings, and that’s part of it, but it’s not truly what I’m passionate about.

I love making people happy. Whether I make them smile, or laugh, or help them find the perfect book or card, or pick out the perfect chocolate for their taste…I love making them happy. I love the idea of someone reading my book and smiling at the end, or that it might have helped them get through a rough day or situation. I love talking about chocolate and adding a little sunshine to someone’s day. I also love the thought of someone going home with a book, reading it, and it being exactly what they needed.

Maybe it seems frivolous that I’m not dealing with “necessities”. But then, what makes us human? It’s connection. It’s emotion.  We are almost *too* connected with tech these days, but we don’t always connect with other people. If I can have a customer leave or a reader finish a book feeling better than when they started… my work is done.

Second Chances series

So that’s what I’m passionate about. I knew deep down that I am an optimist, but I really didn’t realize that sharing that optimism is my purpose. And that’s really kind of neat when you think about it.

What’s your passion?

About the Author

Donna is the prolific author of 50+ western and contemporary romance novels. She lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict. Learn more on her press page

You can visit her on the web at www.DonnaAlward.com and join her mailing list at www.DonnaAlward.com/newsletter.

Social media links: Facebook | Twitter: @DonnaAlward
Find all Donna's romance novels on her author page at Amazon.com.

Donna is also a writing coach and content editor at The Red Pen Coach. Check out her non-fiction books for writers.

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