Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sweet Variety with Guest Blogger: Donna Alward

 Win a copy of In the Line of Duty &
welcome back featured author 
Donna Alward to the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about keeping it fresh and here's what she had to say...

My favorite episode of Everybody Loves Raymond is when he has a flash-back on when he and his wife were dating and she made him lemon chicken. He made the comment that he could eat it every day of his life, it was so good. Fast forward many years to a plate of lemon chicken. Ray’s getting tired of it. He says, “Lemon chicken again?” She says, “What did you make for dinner?” He replies “Nothing”. With a rather superior tone, she answers, “Well, you can eat that, and we’ll eat lemon chicken.”

No matter how much you love something, a little variety can be a welcome change. And while I love writing my ranchers and cowboys for Harlequin Romance, sometimes it’s to do something a little different.

There’s a challenge with this – in delivering the kind of story my readers have come to expect while I play around in a different sandbox. Hopefully the KIND of story I write – deeply emotional with a strong sense of place – translates through no matter if I’m on a cattle ranch in Alberta or if, in my latest release, I’m in small town Nova Scotia with a sexy pub owner and a female RCMP officer.

Doing something different has helped me stay fresh, I think, and it many ways. First of all there’s the setting and characters. My First Responders series with Samhain Publishing is all about the uniform – paramedics, cops, firefighters. Instead of on horseback, they’re zooming on the scene in their cruiser or ambulance.  I also was able to set the stories in the province where I live: Nova Scotia. I picked one of my favorite places as the setting: the Annapolis Valley. It’s close to the ocean, but also features gorgeous farmland and wineries.  There are so many beautiful spots in Canada. I love the prairies and the Rockies, but I am so happy to have this chance to spotlight somewhere new.

It’s also a shorter format for me.  I’m used to writing about 55,000 words for Harlequin Romance, but this series is made up of novellas, all close to the 30,000 word mark. Writing short was challenging (you need to write tight) and fun! It’s a bit of a faster pace and I enjoyed it so much. There are four books total in the series (the third is out in November), so for readers who choose print over e-book, the first two will be in one print volume in 2013 and the last two in a second volume to follow after that.

And I did get a chance to write slightly sexier than normal. Not red-hot, but definitely with a higher sensuality than I usually do.

Finally, the editing process is quite different between my two publishers. By writing something different, I learn things that I can apply to all my writing – like tight writing, how to add bits of sensuality without necessarily adding sex, how different editorial methods highlight different weaknesses and strengths in my writing that I can apply across the board. Not only does switching it up keep ME fresh mentally, but it truly helps keep my writing fresh.

And that’s always a good thing – for me, and hopefully for my awesome readers too!

So here’s my question to you – do you like it when an author does something a little different, and how different is too much?

A Note from the Book Boost:  Great post, Donna.  I'm the complete opposite--I write every genre.  From horror to inspirational--no joke!  But MOST of my stories do have a legal or law enforcement theme thanks to my background.  So, I guess that's the tie that binds for me.  Thanks for joining us and please come again soon.


When it comes to love, sometimes a girl has to go above and beyond. 

Jake Symonds has been a thorn in Constable Kendra Givens’s side since the night they first met, when she’d had to arrest him. In his boxer shorts. The drunken comments he made that night are worsened by the truth she’ll never admit. For a fleeting moment, they’d connected.

Two years later, when she’s called to investigate a break-and-enter at his pub, the last thing she expects is for the now-competent businessman to cook her breakfast. But she’s no fool. The former bad boy still lurks beneath the charm. And his business involves the one thing that she’s hated since it ruined her childhood. Alcohol.

As far as he’s concerned, Jake has changed, but Kendra still has a stick up her butt. Yet he can’t help but like her sass and quick wit. One well-aimed baseball at the carnival dunk tank later and he’s got a date.

Their spark of attraction quickly flares out of control, but their emotional baggage is stacked too high to risk anything deeper—until one tragic night strips the barriers from their deepest fears. And Kendra realizes the greatest danger Jake presents is to her heart.


Warning: Readers should be aware that any sexy comments made to police officers will be used against them in the hottest way possible. 
It had been a long night, and Constable Kendra Givens was ready to clock out and collapse in bed when a call came through twenty minutes before her shift ended. And it couldn't be a run-of-the-mill call either. Oh no. It was a break-and-enter at Jake's Pub. Just who she wanted to deal with this morning - Jake Symonds.

She pulled into the empty parking lot and sighed. The pub was the newest watering hole between Wolfville and Kentville, and she was no stranger to calls from the staff. Sometimes things got a little heated as the night wore on and the drinks flowed freely. Luckily, the majority of calls dealt with throwing a local in the drunk tank for the night to sleep it off.

Most of the time she managed to avoid talking to Jake, with his thickly lashed hazel bedroom eyes and crooked know-it-all smile that met at two ridiculous dimples. He was too confident. Cocky, even. Just the kind of guy that rubbed her the wrong way and tried her patience.

As she shut off the cruiser he appeared in the door of the pub. The sun was already up and cast a golden light on the shrubs and trees around the barn-like structure. It was August, and she should be just getting up to enjoy the summer day rather than wanting to go to bed. She should be looking forward to an afternoon at the beach rather than sleeping in her hot apartment with no air conditioning.

Instead she was face-to-face with cocky Jake Symonds. Perfect.

She slammed the door of the car and strode to the pub entrance. It's your job, she thought. Just get it over with and then it's beddy-bye time.

Jake was waiting for her at the doorway, wearing faded jeans and a button-down shirt that was, thankfully, buttoned but left untucked. His eyes looked sleepy, and the shadow of a day's whiskers stubbled his jaw. Dammit. She might not like Jake, but she couldn't deny he was a looker. Especially now, all sexily rumpled and without his trademark half-smile. He looked pretty grouchy now that she thought about it.

For some reason the idea gave her pleasure. The day was looking up after all. Perhaps this time she'd have the upper hand. Because normally Jake had a way of staring at her that made her feel about four inches shorter and about ten years younger. With pimples. And braces.

"Jake," she greeted, keeping her voice curt. She was here to do a job, and the sooner they got through it the sooner she could be out of here.

"Constable Givens. Pleasure as usual."

Annoyance flared at the ironic tone in his voice. She suspected that getting under her skin was his goal anyway, so she ignored it and looked blandly into his stupidly handsome face. "Heard you had a break in."

"Looks that way. Woke up when I heard the car doors slam, but I was too late. Got a make and partial plate for you though."

"Great. Let's go in and get this over with, shall we?"

Jake stood aside and let her open the door. Her cheeks heated as she realized he'd deliberately let her do it herself. Not that she expected a man to open a door for her everywhere she went, but she knew with Jake it was deliberate. He didn't do anything without a purpose. It had always been that way, she suspected.

The inside of the pub was dim with the lights off. The smell of alcohol from the previous night still lingered in the air, mingled with the scent of frying grease and French fries. Kendra's stomach let out a low growl, but in the silence of the open room it was embarrassingly loud.

"End of shift for you, I expect."

"Yes, just about, so let's get this done so I can go home, yeah?"

He moved past her and his scent followed, something fresh and slightly spicy, and she realized quite suddenly that Jake had showered before bed. None of the smells of a night tending bar were on him. She swallowed thickly as an image - quite unwanted - flitted through her brain of Jake underneath the hot shower spray in the middle of the night.

Was he as beautifully built as he used to be? She imagined so. She swallowed. She'd been a newbie officer, and he'd been home on leave before being deployed overseas again. That was before he'd opened his own place. Back then he'd taken to frequenting the other establishments in the area. And on that particular night he'd been the one in trouble for public drunkenness, and she'd been the arresting officer who'd had to put him in the tank to cool his jets.

Right after she'd made him put his clothes back on. The memory of that evening still made her squirm uncomfortably. His eyes had laughed at her, all green and impish and knowing.

She probably hadn't needed to cuff him, but she had anyway to prove a point. Of course, Jake being Jake, that had opened the door to a whole other level of innuendo. Suggestions he'd felt free to make during the whole drive.

Now he was supposed to be all respectable, a business owner in the community, blah, blah. Kendra frowned at his back as they made their way to the back entrance of the pub. She should be able to forget it, right?

But she suspected a woman didn't easily forget the sight of nearly naked Jake. And what made matters worse was that he knew it.


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yael kaner said...

I just finished savouring "Honeymood with a Rancher" here in Israel. Everytime I can find a copy of your books I snap them up! Thank you for all you do to male the world a lovely place.

Yael Kaner Baltimore to Maaleh Adumim,Israel 2011

Zippy said...

I love your books and would love to win! Thanks for the giveaway!

Donna Alward said...

Yael - I can't tell you how exciting it is to hear from a reader so far away! Your post made my day.

Zippy - thanks and glad you stopped by!

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Hi Donna,
I love it when authors try new things. Thanks for the chance to win your book.

Natalija said...

Greetings from Italy, Donna! Great post, thanks for sharing! I love that it's set in Canada & you get to write about places that are dear to your heart. I admire authors who try something new, but I'll read it as long as it's in my fav. genre: contemporary or historical romance.

Kathleen O said...

I love to try new things now and again... But I must admit, I am a little hesitant at making the move to do so...
I love your books and I can't wait to read this one...

Donna Alward said...

Natalija - greetings to you too!

You know, when I first started writing I wasn't sure if publishers would go for a Canadian setting. But I've never had any issue! I'm glad. I love where I live. And I love reading about new places too.

bas1chs said...

I certainly don't mind variety as long as I know that is what is coming. What irks me would be when you are into the story and think it is the good ol' trusted author and then bam! out of left field there is a curve ball. That is more jarring to me than to market it as a diversion. Just my experience - but I like to know what I'm getting.

bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

Karen Schmidt said...

I love your books Donna!! I started with the free copy of Hired by the Cowboy and have loved everything I have read since. I can't wait to read the First Responders Series now. Thanks for the contest and I would love to win!!

bn100 said...

The book sounds good.