Monday, 19 October 2015

Meet Our Authors - Donna Alward

Continuing our Meet Our Authors series, today we have bestselling, award winning author Donna Alward. Her latest release is an anthology called Not My 1st Rodeo. Here are some things she had to tell us.

1. Are you a reader? How many books a year do you read?

Of course I’m a reader! I read around 50 books a year. Mostly romance, some non-fic, some in other genres or general fiction.

2. What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

My favorite genre to write is contemporary romance, but my reading taste is firmly in the regency romance camp. I LOVE a good regency romp!

3. If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would say to them?

LaVyrle Spencer and I would say thank you – for the hours and hours of enjoyment. And also for inspiring me to want to write big, heartwarming romance novels.

4. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?

My keeper shelf, a water purification system, and a box of sunscreen because I burn easily.

5. Paper or Plastic? (book or eReader)

Paper. I read about a 70/30 split paper to digital.

6. Plotter or Pantster?


7. What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?

Write, write, and write some more. And realize that it might take several books for your work to be publishable. Don’t rush.

8. What are you reading now?

I’m just starting in on the Christmas books on my TBR. I don’t always get to them all and I can’t read holiday stories after Christmas, lol. So they get saved for the next year.

9. What inspires you?

Peace. Calm. Quiet. Seriously, when I have calm and quiet I can let down my mental guards and let in all the great stuff – and really immerse myself in the story.

10. What is your writing schedule like?

Fairly regular. It has to be. I have teenagers and I am also a freelance editor, so I have to be pretty structured. I try to hit word count every day, and then move on to the next items on the priority list.

11. What is your writing space like?

I have a lovely office. Four windows look over the yard, I have a bookcase on one side, and a futon for curling up and reading or working on paper edits. My husband has a desk and PC in there too, and other than my desk I guess there’s just my cherry filing cabinet. It’s great to have my own space. In my last house I had a 7x7 space and I shared it with kids’ toys, a fish tank, and a piano.

12. What motivates you to write?


13. When did you start writing?

Officially in October of 2001. I’ve always been a writer but I didn’t start really writing until that year. I sold in 2006.

14. Who are your favorite authors?

Tough question! LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, Mary Balogh, Robyn Carr, Lily Everett, Deanna Raybourn. And a host of others.

15. Who inspires you?

My writing buddies. Several of us have belonged to the same “loop” for years. We ALL have gone through some tough stuff, but we still write. We cheer each other on, and are just there for each other. When we get to hang out in person, which is rare, it’s really special.

16. Why did you write this particular story, Not My 1st Rodeo?

I was in Texas at the annual RWA conference, and two RWAC chaptermates (Debbie and Linda) told this silly story about some fertilizer reps which got us on the topic of dating sites…and my co-writers for the series and I just thought it was hysterical. We came home and instantly started writing it.

17. Do you re-read books? If so, what book have you read the most?

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. It might be a tie between that title and Years.

18. What is the closest book to you right now?

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. A grammar book…wow. LOL.

19. What book are you working on / promoting right now?

Not My 1st Rodeo – Samhain has it on sale until the 31st! It’s a real bargain for 3 novellas in one volume.

20. Tell us about that book, what inspired it? What does the title mean? What it’s about etc…?

As I mentioned, the story was inspired at RWA in San Antonio. I have to admit, some of the silly inspiration came from the dating site Farmer’s – a dating site for farmers. Seriously, go do a search for it on youtube and watch some of the ads, lol. We decided that we should have a dating site for cowboys and ranchers who’d been married before and survived to tell the tale. In other words, this isn’t their first rodeo. Then we just ran with it. Each story is very different. My hero’s set up by his sister, and he’s not too happy about it. J

21. Please share any links you’d like to with us.

My website where all my books are listed is

Thanks for giving us the scoop, Donna! We look forward to following your writing career!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Meet our Authors ~ Michelle Helliwell

Today in our Meet Our Authors series, we have Michelle Helliwell. Her debut novel, Not Your Average Beauty, released this summer, and I'm sure we can expect a lot more from this writer.


Stephen Pembroke, the Marquess of Barronsfield, believes that where his love of beauty goes, death follows. Cursed to a loveless existence, and with his legacy at stake, Stephen makes a desperate proposal of marriage to Rosalind Schofield, his steward’s new ward - and the plainest girl he has ever met. Rosalind has spent a lifetime being overlooked for prettier faces. When she is singled out for her lack of beauty by the Marquess, she begins to doubt if she is deserving of the love she inwardly craves.

When unusual things start happening around her, Rosalind can’t help but wonder if Lord Barronsfield or his curse are who and what they appear to be. When she openly challenges Stephen about the curse, he begins to doubt everything – and comes to realize that this apparently plain, ordinary woman is not as unremarkable as he believed. Strange things are happening in Barronsfield. As they move closer to the truth, Rosalind unwittingly finds herself in the sights of the real beast in Barronsfield, and Stephen must decide if his growing love for Rosalind will be his salvation or her doom.

We asked her some questions, and here's what Michelle had to so.

1. Are you a reader? How many books a year do you read?

I am, and I tend to be a binge reader - I will read lots for a while, then go cold turkey for a bit, and so on. Hard to know how many - maybe 30 books a year.

2. What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

I read a lot of romance (mostly historical, but also some contemporary and some paranormal), fantasy, and non-fiction. I love a good non-fiction book actually.

3. If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would say to them?

Oh my gosh - I really don't know. I think I'd want to meet another human being living in a different time - someone forgotten by history - and ask them about their life, learn from them.

4. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?

A solar panel that charges a cellphone. A cellphone. A book on "what do to if you're stranded on a desert island."

5. Paper or Plastic? (book or eReader)

Depends. I gobble romances in digital form. Cookbooks, non-fiction, for some reason I prefer paper.

6. Plotter or Pantster?


7. What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?

Just write and see what happens.

8. What are you reading now?

I'm re-reading the Sword of Shannara.

9. What inspires you?

Specifically with writing - other good stories. Wind and moody weather are also good for my writer's soul. Being outdoors.

10. What is your writing schedule like?

I want to say daily but that is more of an aspiration. It moves around depending on my needs. Right now I'm writing in the evenings, after my youngest is in bed.

11. What is your writing space like?

It moves, since I don't have a dedicated space. It might be the corner of my couch, or my bed, or the deck if it's nice, but generally I'm most effective if I'm sitting at my dining room table (and I love my dining room).

12. What motivates you to write?

Not sure. I just want to.

13. When did you start writing?

I started taking writing seriously in 2008, and I wrote my first full manuscript. I didn't know what I was doing, but I had a year's mat leave and I was turning forty in 2009, and I just thought that if I didn't do this and finish, I would regret it forever.

14. Who are your favorite authors?

Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jefferies and Sarah MacLean are some of my favourites, but I love plenty. Scott Westerfeld wrote my favourite series, Leviathan, and Mary Balogh wrote my favourite hero, Wulfric Bedwyn.

15. Who inspires you?

Other people doing interesting things. Really - the world is full of people doing their darnedest to make a good life and this world a better place, and they inspire me.

16. Why did you write Not Your Average Beauty?

I've always loved fairy tales, but I remember quite clearly being given an old copy of Grimm's fairy tales and reading it through and while I loved the stories, I was also sort of disenchanted. The heroines in those stories were always the youngest, always blonde, always so sweet natured and beautiful. And maybe I've got a sweet nature (or not), but I really couldn't identify with that. And Rosalind (my heroine) just kind of popped in there. What if you aren't that stereotypical fairy tale princess?

17. Do you re-read books? If so, what book have you read the most?

I re-read On Writing by Stephen King every few years, and The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn I read when I feel like I'm in a rut. I love that book so much.

18. What is the closest book to you right now?

I'm sitting by my downstairs bookshelf and "Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels" by Janet Todd is staring me in the face. It was a launch day gift from Nicola R. White, who is quite a lovely person herself.

19. What book are you working on / promoting right now?

No Prince Charming - which I am determined to get out by Christmas! It's the follow up to Not Your Average Beauty, and centres around what happens to Edmund Pembroke after we leave him in that story.

20. Tell us about that book, what inspired it? What does the title mean? What it’s about?

No Prince Charming is rooted in the story of Snow White. I was inspired by a visit to Uniacke House actually, which is one of my favourite places to visit. There is quite a lovely manor and to the side, a smaller home that might belong to the groundskeeper. There is a story that the builder of the estate, Richard John Uniacke was arrested on suspicion of Treason for his involvement in the Cumberland Revolution (during the American Revolutionary War) in Amherst. He was taken to Halifax by coach for trial, and he passed by the property and declared he was going to build a house on that estate.

I loved the idea of the rogue who becomes the prince, and it really spawned from there - a man who is really a prince (or at least, a gentleman) hiding his true identity for whatever reason. It began from there.

For more about Michelle, you can check out her website at

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Meet Our Authors ~ Nicola R. White

Hi and welcome to our Meet Our Authors series. The first interview we have is with Nicola R. White who recently released her debut novel.

Fury's Kiss (New England Furies #1)

by Nicola R. White



Hawthorne, Massachusetts has always been a nice place, a safe place - a boring place. At least to waitress Tara Walker, who dreams of more excitement than slinging plates of seafood for Cape Cod tourists. But as Tara learns when she is attacked and forced to fight for her life, fate sometimes has a funny way of giving you exactly what you wish for. Faced with strange new powers and embroiled in a murder investigation, Tara must now race to uncover the secrets of the ancient Fury that has woken inside of her - and of the evil that stalks her.

As if Tara’s life hasn’t gotten complicated enough, she is forced to ally herself with Jackson Byrne, witness to her assault and uncle to a pint-sized oracle whose fate is intertwined with hers. Sceptical, stubborn, and oh-so-sexy, Jackson wrestles with demons of his own. He is determined to ignore the attraction rising between them even faster than the body count, but like it or not, he and Tara need each other if they are to unravel the mysteries that surround them.

Sounds great! Here are a few questions for Nicola...

Are you a reader? How many books a year do you read?

I love to read! When I have time, I can read one or two books per day, but unfortunately real life gets in the way of that sometimes. In a regular week, I probably read two to three non-day job books.

Favorite genre to read? To write?

I read pretty much everything, but I like to write characters and worlds that are a bit ‘fantastic’ – paranormal, urban fantasy, and sci fi romance. I do have a gritty romantic suspense project in the works and will write an occasional contemporary short story, but I’m definitely happiest living in an imaginary world!

Plotter or Pantster?

Hmm…I’m somewhere in between. The first book in a series is largely pantsed, though I know the ending by the time I’m halfway finished. Once I finish the first book, I figure out the series arc so I don’t end up with inconsistencies or a plot that drags on and on.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?

Don’t give up! I have a tendency to get bogged down and procrastinate when I’m 2/3 finished writing a book. The beginning is so exciting and the ideas just flow, but that 2/3 mark is when it gets really hard for me. It’s such a tease to be that close to the end—so close, but so far!

What is your writing schedule like?

I don’t have a particular schedule, though I do try to write every day. I’m a morning person, so I like to get up early on the weekends and start the day off by writing before my husband wakes up. About 2,000 words per day is pretty comfortable for me. The most I’ve ever written in one day was 10,000 words, when I was over deadline on getting something to my editor.

What is your writing space like?

I don’t actually have a set writing space. My two favorite spots are on my living room sofa and at a local coffee shop, but sometimes I write at the library or out on my deck. I live in an apartment and love container gardening, so it’s nice to be out there with my plants.

When did you start writing?

I started writing with thoughts of publication in mind about three years ago. Before that, I had taken some creative writing classes and tried my hand at fiction and poetry, but I always felt self-conscious about showing my work to anyone. Eventually, I just decided that pursuing my dream of being a published author was worth pushing through the awkwardness.

Why did you write this particular story?

Fury’s Kiss started out as a way different story! Originally, I thought I was going to write something very dark, maybe even horror, with supernatural elements—the movie The Craft scared me to death when I was younger. But as I wrote, I realized that as much as I love to read horror, I really don’t care for writing it. (At least not yet. I never say never!)

What is the closest book to you right now?

It’s a graphic novel called The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. It’s a crime/mystery story set in the late 40s. I love all things noir, so this is right up my alley.

That sounds great! Thanks Nicola for letting us interview you! Happy sales with your new release! You can find out more about Nicola at the links below!


Monday, 1 September 2014

How I Got My Audio Rights Back From My Publisher

by Julianne MacLean

I wish I could tell the tale of an epic battle where I triumphed magnificently, but getting my audio rights back from my publisher was actually quite simple. All I had to do was request that they return them to me. Thirty days later, they did.

Of course, it’s not always that easy. It depends on what your contract says. So if you are a traditionally published author with books that are still controlled by your publisher, at least go and read your contract. You may be able to get this one important subsidiary right reverted.

In my case, I had sold nine books to Avon/Harper Collins between the years 2002 and 2007.  In each of those contracts, this is what the audio book reversion clause looked like, and it was boilerplate at the time:

“6(d) If the Publisher does not either exercise or license audio recording rights to any Work within 60 days from the date of the Publisher’s initial publication of such Work, the Author may request in writing that the Publisher revert to the Author such rights, and the Publisher shall revert such rights to such Work within 30 days of such request.”

I’m sure this language is no longer standard, however, because audiobooks are now in a stage of tremendous growth in the marketplace. Moving forward, publishers will no doubt want to hang onto those rights. So this is something to consider when negotiating a new deal with your publisher.

First of all, try and keep your audiobook rights if you can. If that is not possible, do your best to arrive at terms that provide a decent reversion clause.

So what can you do if you get your audio rights back?

You basically have three choices: sell those rights to an audiobook publisher for an advance; publish your own editions independently; or do nothing.

Personally, I chose to publish the audio editions independently through ACX. Within a week of receiving the reversion letter from my publisher, I had contracted Rosalyn Landor to narrate and had pushed the entire Pembroke Palace series into production.

I had to create my own covers for the audio editions because I did not own the rights to Avon's cover art. Instead, I hired my usual cover designer, Kim Killion.

All the audiobooks in my Pembroke Palace series are published by me through ACX and are currently for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  I am now gearing up to get audio editions produced for my American Heiress series (6 books which are still published by Avon in print and ebook formats). That will happen in 2015, and I will use the same excellent narrator, Rosalyn Landor.

Finally, I am capitalizing on a format I had not been able to break into while I was at Avon - and yes, it’s lucrative.  And I am very glad I checked the reversion clauses on my old contracts. You just never know what you’ll be able to claim as your own.

Julianne MacLean

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Kindness and other lessons from the day job

by Linda O'Toole

Looking back over my working history I realize I had only about a dozen different jobs, with only one or two where I would be paid to do any kind of writing.  That being said, I was only employed by two employers in my many, many years of working.  Here are a couple of jobs that stand out as being memorable.

My first job was working in the stock control office of a local building supply company.  It was my job to keep records of weekly inventory counts so that I could make up the orders for stock from suppliers.  For the most part it was boring.  Counting widgets and add the information to the stock cards – yes it was all done by paper then.  (Did I mention I was a child protégé and started working when I was 2 years old?  Just kidding!)  But one day every two weeks I got to place the orders.  For one company that was in Holland, I would send a telex.  It used to amaze me how that long strip of yellow paper with all those holes punched in it could relay the exact order that I had entered.  I would sit and worry that I had put the paper on the machine backwards and we would get a container load of really weird things…

The other way I ordered things was to punch information into a machine that looked like an adding machine.  After the order was all in, I would dial a phone number and then tuck the telephone receiver into a box connected to the adding machine look alike.  The order was then sent via modem to the supplier.  This was leading edge technology at the time. 

The big joke every week was that my co-workers would stand at the window of the office when the delivery truck arrived stating they were waiting to see if a pink elephant was unloaded!  They swore someday I would make a mistake in my order numbers and one would be escorted off the truck when it arrived.

I stayed with this employer for 15 years.  Over that time I was given the chance to learn all of the jobs in the office and some in the warehouse.  Accounts Receivable, accounts payable, cashier, human resources, forklift driver, etc.  I was also given the chance to take a blueprint reading course and then a construction estimating course, not a typical area of study for women back then.  I had no work experience when I joined this company but they believed in me and gave me the opportunity to learn a great many skills.

One of the other jobs that sticks out in my mind was working with the Kosovo Refugees when they landed in Canada.  I was part of a group from Health Canada that set up shop at the DND base in Greenwood.  I was there when every plane arrived.  Although I did not work directly with the refugees I was fortunate enough to mingle and speak with a number of them while they were waiting to be seen by medical staff or others to look after their needs.  Someone had dropped off a box full of bubbles and kiddies sunglasses so before our shifts started or during breaks we would put on our star shaped sunglasses and grab our bottle of bubbles and join the kids out back. I still don’t know who had more fun, them or us.  The people that arrived on the planes were very grateful and friendly.  It was hard to believe that having to leave their homeland behind they still had such a great outlook.  They truly were a wonderful group of people.

I would have to say that it was the hardest few weeks I have ever worked, but it was also the most fulfilling.  The planes continued to come in every second day, with the day between filled with processing paperwork.  The sense of making a difference in the lives of others was overwhelming and an experience I will never forget. It was an honour to have had the chance to work on this project and speak with so many amazing people.

Things I have learned over the course of my working life:

·       Show others kindness even if you don’t know them.  It only takes one person to do something nice and change the life of another.  Small things can have a big impact.
·       You can do just about anything you set your mind to especially if you have the support of others.
·       Today’s technology will lead to something greater in the future.
·       Appreciate everything you have, there are others out there who do not have as much and you never know when it may all be gone.

What does all this have to do with being a romance writer?   I think all of the jobs I have had including the two above, have helped me see the world in a different light.  They have opened my eyes to possibilities that I may not have even imagined if I had not had the opportunity to experience them.  Will any of my jobs make their way into my stories?  Maybe, but it will not be the duties of the jobs so much as what I have learned about people and life in general that will make the difference. 

I attended an amazing workshop this past weekend.  Three topics were discussed by three different presenters who each did an outstanding job.  I got lots of tips and great handouts- things I will certainly use.  There may even have been a light bulb moment or two. 

The third presentation was on Character and Emotion.  In my notes I wrote the following:
·       “Write what you know which equals write what you feel and feelings are universal even if the situations are not quite the same.”
·       “Create Characters that you care about.  Emotional experience is what counts”. 

I repeat – What does my job experience have to do with being a writer? - These two lines sum it up nicely.


Website:   (Site is live but under construction)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Baby or No Baby?

by Deborah Hale

How do you feel about children in romance novels and on covers?

When I wrote my first romance novel back in the early 90’s, my own four children were very young. A friend used to call writing my sanity-retention mechanism. After a day of unglamorous parenting and housework, I would escape into my Georgian era story, swanning off to the theatre or the pleasure gardens in gorgeous gowns. Needless to say, there were no children in my story.

The next one had a pregnant heroine whose infant made an appearance for the last couple of pages of the book. Book three had a brief appearance by some children. Books four and five were entirely child-free. Book five was part of a continuity series and I was assigned a story with a heroine who was the nanny of the hero’s young nephew. I think my editor realized that a mother of four and former teacher, I should be “writing what I knew.” After that children began cropping up in my stories more and more.

Now that my busy, demanding toddlers have grown into bright, independent young adults, I miss having little ones around. Six out of my last eight books had children in them and I will soon be releasing the first book of a trilogy that puts a Regency spin on Three Men and a Baby. When an infant is left on the doorstep of three notorious bachelors with a note suggesting that one of them is the father, their rakish lifestyle is turned upside down. I considered titling either the first book or the series Three Noblemen and a Baby, but research of popular Regency covers and titles suggested I should go for something different.

What do you think of my cover and new title: Scandal on His Doorstep? Do you like reading romance novels with children in the story? Would the presence of children on the cover attract you to buy the book or put you off?

~ Deborah Hale is a Golden Heart winner and RITA nominee, the author of more than thirty historical and fantasy romance novels. Her latest book is part of a multi-author series of Regency novels that color outside the box with shades of time-travel, suspense, vampires and babies. Watch for the first three books of A Most Peculiar Season to appear this fall!