Is it Worth it? Of Course it is!

by Donna Alward, author of Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle (Harlequin Romance February 2011) and this month’s FREE online read Remember Me, Cowboy

Last Tuesday I spent the day at the Harlequin offices in Toronto. When I say it was a whirlwind tour, I don’t exaggerate. I flew in on Monday night and flew back out Tuesday at five.  A short trip – but I’m so glad I went. I’d planned it as a treat – both for finishing my last deadline (January 31st!) and to celebrate the release date of my 10th Harlequin Romance – Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle.

Ten.

There’s a fun bit of symmetry to all this. It took me nearly five years from when I started writing seriously to selling to Harlequin. During that time I did a lot of dreaming. I dreamt about what it would be like to get the call, to hold my first book, to see my first  cover… What it would be like to visit the “Mother Ship” of Harlequin Enterprises. What it would be like to be a Real Harlequin Author. When rejections arrived one after the other, there were lots of times I asked myself if it was worth it.

Fast forward nearly five years after getting The Call from Romance, and I finally managed to visit the offices. Jayne Hoogenberk, eHarlequin Community Manager (and so much more!) picked me up at the airport and we went out for a late dinner.  I’ve known Jayne a long time but never in person – I’ve been a member of the eHarlequin community since 2001. It was like hanging out with an old friend because we are. The music selection was odd but worked…in fact I might have made her cry about it over dinner. I fell in love with her cat, too, when we went back to her place where I spent the night. Check out the pic from the restaurant…I think we both felt VERY tall…

In the morning my tour began courtesy of Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd, who was so generous with her time and showed me around editorial.  I finally got to put faces (and smiles!) to names I’ve known for years – including Adrienne Macintosh, who recently worked on a short and super fun project with me (more about that later).   From editorial it was on to production, where I met Kevin and so many of the people who work on getting the books looking just right before they go to print. At one point I stopped at a table holding a stack of proofed manuscripts.  All I could think was that there were hundreds and hundreds of hours that went into writing those books – and hundreds more on behalf of the other departments who turn my plain old word file into something that hits bookstore shelves!

I was just on my way back to editorial when someone popped out of a cubicle to greet me – Vicki Essex, who recently sold to Superromance! Vicki is goofy and wonderful. And if you don’t believe me, check out this picture. She makes me laugh!

Then it was meeting people in the art department, who really understand the importance of a cover to an author. It’s the first thing people see, after all, and we look forward to getting that first glimpse for months! Personally I think the cover for my latest is my favourite to date – and I’ve been blessed with some goodies.

Before we left for lunch, I had a wonderful chat with CEO Donna Hayes, who despite being our fearless leader also put me at ease from the first moment.  There are some things that never get old no matter how many books I have beneath my belt, and when she asked me to sign my latest for her it was a lovely, lovely moment.  Here I am with Donna and Birgit!

We took a break for lunch, and after lunch Jayne gave me the tour of the digital department. This is a FUN group and I wished I’d had more time so we could have hung out after hours.  It was super exciting meeting some of the Carina team including Malle Vallik who is a goddess of all things digital. And Olga tells me that she isn’t really all that visible on this blog, so let’s remedy that right now – here are some of the digital team members and if I tell you Olga is personality plus I’ll leave you to figure out which one is her.  I think if we spent much time together we could get into some mischief!


Editor’s Note: I swear I was NOT posing! 😀 ~ Olga

And then it was back to the airport for me.

It was the perfect way to celebrate what’s turned out to be a milestone month for me…first the new release, and now this week marks the launch of my first ever online read at eharlequin – Remember Me, Cowboy! Chapter One was posted on Valentine’s Day and it’s running 3 times a week for 3 weeks.  It was super fun to write and features my first amnesia plot! Logan hasn’t lost all his memory, but he’s forgotten a pretty significant event…kissing Carrie at a Valentine’s wedding!

And to top it all off, my current Harlequin Romance, Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle, is on the Harlequin Boutique Widget at www.tryharlequin.com. Click on the Recommended Read to download the first chapter in PDF.

 

So much work goes into a book before it reaches our fabulous readers – and it is a privilege to be part of such a fabulous team!

So was it worth the wait? It sure was – times about a zillion. It was all I’d dreamed of and more!

Love,

Donna

www.donnaalward.com
@DonnaAlward

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Comments ( 17 )
  1. Michelle Styles
    February 15, 2011 at 7:53 am
    Reply

    Wonderful to hear about your trip Donna.

    I am v envious.
    I adore the Wall of Books behind you, Birgit and Donna H

    And it is lovely to put faces and smiles to the digital team. Is Olga the one in hot pink?

  2. Kaelee
    February 15, 2011 at 9:17 am
    Reply

    Thank you Donna for the wonderful look into the office. I have been reading on the Superromance blog about a day in the life of an editor. It’s really wonderful to get a glimpse into the office and see faces. Back in 2008 when I first started to blog on eHarlequin Ellen Hartman took us all along on her tour of the publishing plant. I just love this types of posts.

    Jayne if you are reading this your cat looks almost like my cat Dash ~ he’s the one who posted something by mistake one time and I couldn’t get it deleted. Sent a panicked email to you before my husband managed to get it deleted. Got to love those computer cats.

  3. Kaelee
    February 15, 2011 at 9:21 am
    Reply

    Forgive me. I didn’t edit my post above. I meant these types of posts. Boy are the Captcha’s long for this blog. Better than having spam to sort out.

  4. Donna Alward
    February 15, 2011 at 9:33 am
    Reply

    Thanks Michelle for popping in!(Michelle is my critique partner and she was very jealous of my pics and the fact that everywhere you turn there are books, books, books!)

    Kaelee – Jayne’s cat is FABULOUS. He is too smart for his own good and I lurve him!

  5. Emma Cunningham
    February 15, 2011 at 9:56 am
    Reply

    I’m sorry I was out of the office on Tuesday and missed you! Hopefully I’ll catch you next time you’re in town.

  6. Anne MacFarlane
    February 15, 2011 at 10:19 am
    Reply

    Looks like a fabulous trip, Donna. Enjoyed all the pictures and putting names to faces.

  7. Marcie
    February 15, 2011 at 10:28 am
    Reply

    You believed in yourself. You never gave up. It’s great to have support of others, but if you don’t believe in yourself you stand still.
    I’ve read several of your books (won some too) and am glad you kept trying.
    Congrats on #10.
    p.s. I love reading your personal blog on Wednesdays when you ‘mentor’ all of us.

  8. Donna Alward
    February 15, 2011 at 10:43 am
    Reply

    Emma, I was hoping to meet you too!

    Thanks for stopping by, Anne!

    Marcie – I am sending you a big squishy hug! I felt badly not holding my pitch contest this year, so I’m glad the Wednesday craft blogs are coming in handy!

  9. Julianne
    February 15, 2011 at 11:08 am
    Reply

    Loved seeing the pictures, Donna! Sounds like a dreamy trip, and congrats on 10 books!! Quite an accomplishment.

  10. Tweets that mention Is it Worth it? Of Course it is! | Harlequin Blog -- Topsy.com
    February 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm
    Reply

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harlequin Books and Jayne Hoogenberk, Donna Alward. Donna Alward said: RT @harlequinbooks: @DonnaAlward came to visit Harlequin HQ 2 celebrate 10th Har. Romance! Pics and story on the blog : http://bit.ly/eEVvdD […]

  11. Jayne
    February 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    Reply

    Hi everyone, having Donna visit was a total delight and Kaelee I suspect Chip was on his very best behavior because I told him “NO biting authors” and I laughed SO much that time that Dash posted on your behalf!

    Jayne

  12. Maurine
    February 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    Reply

    Awesome!

  13. Nas
    February 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm
    Reply

    Sounds like a dream come true for you, Donna.

    I loved seeing all the lovely photos.

    Congratulations on your 10th Harlequin Romance – Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle.

  14. Madison Chase
    February 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm
    Reply

    What a fun trip! Thanks for sharing your photos so we can all put smiles to names. And congrats on #10!

  15. Donna Alward
    February 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm
    Reply

    Thank you all – and to Olga who looked after my post and pics today!

  16. ChrissieSue
    February 16, 2011 at 12:53 am
    Reply

    Donna, thanks for sharing your trip and photos. What fun!
    Congratulations on your 10th book. Everyday I expect my copy to show up in the mail box, but not yet.
    I work in the production dept of a newspaper/magazine company, I’d love, love, love to tour the production dept at Harlequin.
    Jayne, I have a cat like yours, too. He weighs 15 lbs and is not fat. He’s computer illiterate, but makes up for it in snuggles.

  17. Birgit
    February 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm
    Reply

    Donna, everyone at Harlequin really enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for the glimpse into your life as an author. And happy to hear you made it home–in time for more snow!

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