Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Donna Alward

Award-winning author Donna Alward has the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. In 2001 she penned her first novel and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript, and now writes heartwarming Romances from her home in Nova Scotia, Canada. Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website at www.donnaalward.com or through her publisher. Twitter: @DonnaAlward Facebook 

Are Characters Reflections of the Author?

Do you ever wonder if the characters in books are much like the writer? I get asked occasionally if a certain character is like me, and the answer is of course. There’s a part of me in every character I write, because that’s how I relate to them and build their outlook on the world.

Which is a little scary, actually, because when you write deeply emotional stories it’s kind of like standing outside in your underwear.

When Shirley, Fiona and I sat down to talk about the sisters in the Holiday Miracles Trilogy, it was funny how I could see our individual personalities forming in each one.  Shirley’s character, Grace, is independent, a bit sassy, and possesses an innate sense of style. That’s how I see Shirley – her shoe closet is a work of art and she always seems so put together. When we first met I’ll confess I was a little intimidated. The woman has it goin’ ON. I look at Shirley and think Gee, why can’t I do that?

Fiona’s character, Faith, is more of a peacemaker rather than someone who makes a big time about anything. Fiona and I are really good friends and she is always all smiles and really quite logical. I do get the feeling though that if she were ever really fed up and riled she would be a sight to behold. But Fi, for the most part, is really easy to get along with. We’ve been roomies for two RWA conferences now and it’s easy as anything.  When life starts blowing around like a hurricane, Fiona is like the eye of the storm.

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And my character, Hope – well, I can speak about her far better than the other two. Hope is a bit of a perfectionist. She likes to do it herself so she knows it will be done right. She’s a bit of a control freak. Which has served her well professionally, but she also has a softer side that she doesn’t show, because she’s very afraid of getting hurt.

And you know, that’s something that sounds very familiar. I’m a super sensitive person and I feel rather deeply – I must, because I write romances where I don’t skirt around the tough stuff. But when it comes to my own personal emotions I often lock them down if they are too painful. It’s not always a good thing, I don’t think. But I understand it. And I also think that’s why I love the romance genre so much – my heroines always find the one person who they love and trust enough to see them in their underwear (metaphorically AND literally). My husband is that person for me, and after more than twenty years he hasn’t run away yet.

Sleigh Ride with the Rancher

A week before Christmas, city girl Hope McKinnon finds herself snowbound with rugged rancher and all round do-gooder Blake Nelson. What is it about this handsome, generous man that has her blood boiling and her pulse racing? 

Blake knows his ranch is the last place that Hope wants to be, but somehow her presence feels so right! Hope is the first woman guarded Blake has wanted to be around for a long time. Her visit may be temporary, but he has one more night to convince her to stay….


Let's Chat:
Leave me a comment below, I'll be stopping by to chat with readers!

31 comments:

brandi said...

Hi donna. Thanks For coming to our blog chat I'm really looking forward to your new book

calstephanie said...

Hi Donna! Looking forward to reading your book. Ranchers/Cowboys are one of my favorite type of heroes. :)

Donna Alward said...

Hi Brandi and calstephanie! I'm kind of partial to those cowboy types myself... :-)

brandi said...

donna, how do you come up with your plotlines?

calstephanie said...

Donna ~ What was it like working on a trilogy with two other authors?

Donna Alward said...

It was a blast! We actually came up with the idea for the trilogy over dinner in Washington DC at the RWA conference in 09. Fi and Shirley were two people I absolutely trusted and we talked and talked and talked about stuff so there were no surprises. I'd work with them again in a heartbeat. :-)

Donna Alward said...

Hey Brandi! Oh, plotlines! To be honest it usually stems from the characters, since my books are very internal conflict-driven. The book I just finished? I wasn't planning on writing it so I had to come up with something and didn't have a lot of time to do it. My daughter suggested a florist - perfect since she can feed into the next book in the series. But who was the hero? By figuring out what had happened to the heroine, I was able to figure out who the hero was (this is a friends to lovers story) and then made some fun twists in the back and front story. But it totally starts with two characters and evolving from who they are and where they've been.

brandi said...

That sounds so sweet! I can't wait to get it!

calstephanie said...

That's great! :) I love connecting books, especially when you see characters from previous ones pop in and you get a glimpse of their lives.

joder said...

I enjoy connecting books too and that sense of family in seeing characters grow from book to book. It also gives characters the chance to grow on you as you see bits of them from each subsequent book.

gogi1_2 AT yahoo DOT com

brandi said...

Donna, What is your take on an epilogue? Some authors do it and some don't. I prefer it as I like to know that the couple is well set in their relationship.

Blogless Pat said...

Hi Donna,
I love Christmas stories. They are usually so heartwarming.

brandi said...

donna,

thanks for being here to chat with us.

Donna Alward said...

Joder - I love series, as long as I don't have those "huh?" moments like I missed something, you know? The nice thing about the Holiday Miracles trilogy is that they all stand alone but there are bits of the other books in all three. And I'm currently starting the fifth book in my Cadence Creek Cowboys series - I'm sure having fun with that. It's fun bringing other characters back for cameos, you know? And introducing some characters for books to come, lol!

Donna Alward said...

Brandi, I don't mind an epilogue at all if it's right for the story. For example, in my first Harlequin, the heroine was pregnant but hadn't had the baby by the end of the book. I wrote a short epilogue showing the family a year down the road. Sometimes I write what I think of as an epilogue only it happens close enough to the HEA that I just make it a new chapter or scene - like in HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART and the wedding at the end. I just think - if readers are going to finish and say "but what about..." then you should write one. If not, leave it out.

Donna Alward said...

Hi Blogless Pat! I love holiday stories too - and I'm excited that I'm writing one next. It's much more fun to write them during the lead up to Christmas rather than after the hoopla is over!

Nikki McIntosh said...

It's funny how all of your personalities came through your characters - now I want to meet everyone!!

Linda Henderson said...

I always enjoy your stories and I always look forward to your latest.

Lorna said...

Yay! A Canadian writer :-)

When you published your first book, did you use a US or Canadian company?

Donna Alward said...

Lorna - my first book ever was sold to Samhain Publishing, in the US. Then I sold to Harlequin - and they're a Canadian company! :-) *waves the maple leaf flag*

Donna Alward said...

Nikki... you must have met Fiona in Anaheim - she was my roomie and we were always together! You would love Shirley's shoes...

Jan Douglas said...

Hi Donna

Elf2060 said...

Beautiful cover (although I am definitely NOT ready to be that cold yet). I love your description of romance and am glad you that you found someone you could be comfortable with!

SiNn said...

I am soo ready for winter and that cover is just wow !! cant wiat to read it i fell in love with ur work first snippet i read u been an auto buy since

Liz Fielding said...

Sounds like a wonderful trilogy, Donna. Can't wait to read it.

Donna Alward said...

Hi Jan, Elf2060 (this makes me chuckle since we're talking Christmas here!) and SiNn! SiNn you made my morning by saying I'm an autobuy! Authors love to hear that!

Laurie G said...

SLEIGH RIDE WITH A RANCHER Perfect cover! I'd love to read how Hope and Blake work everything out!!

Trust is essential to any relationship!

Shirley Jump said...

Donna has the best of character traits--she kept us all on track and was the one who kept track of details and things. I'm a bit more scattered and procrastinating, like my character Grace (in Mistletoe Kisses with the Billionaire, out in December). So I totally agree that our characters are often a reflection of us!

Donna Alward said...

That's Shirley's polite way of saying I'm a nag. :-)

Shadow said...

Love the cover! This sounds great! I love ranchers. Oh my!

flchen1 said...

Heh! Donna, that's a GOOD thing ;) I love that you write a range of kinds of stories--I love them all!