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Donna Alward on her RITA Nomination!

Romance author Donna Alward was pleasantly surprised when she received the 'Call!' Read on for which call this was as she was already published!
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Over to Donna....
Being a Romance writer is a wonderful thing, and going to RWA National Conference is an experience unlike any other. This year will only be my third year attending, believe it or not. My first conference was in Washington DC in 2009. Once you go, you want to go EVERY year. It’s just that awesome. There’s an energy about it that is so validating. There is something so equalizing about having romance writers at any stage of their career – unpublished, published, bestsellers – all in the same room together. All joined through their love of the genre. AMAZING.
I wasn’t going to go this year. The West Coast is pretty expensive for us, plus last year I went to New York and we didn’t get a family vacay at all. But we did strike a deal – if I happened to final in the RITAS, I’d go.

I pretty much figured I wasn’t going.

But on March 26, just like every year, I was a bundle of nerves and jumped every time the phone rang. Because no matter how long the long shot, you always hold the tiniest bit of hope that by some fluke, this year might be IT.

And then the phone rang.

And it was a strange area code.

And when I heard the words “from the board” I started to cry.

I can’t explain why. I didn’t even cry when I got THE CALL. I guess maybe because in Romance land, this is IT – the big one.  Or maybe because the longer I’m in this business I realize how wonderful and also incredibly difficult it is. It takes a lot of work to have a career in publishing.  And five of my peers read this book and considered it one of the best. That’s huge – because authors are also readers. But they are readers who read like authors, which makes them a very tough audience indeed.

Anyway, once I got off the phone I stopped crying and calmed down enough to simply shake for an hour or two. And that night I registered for conference.

What has been even more strange and amazing is the overall response that HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART -has had from the contest circuit. I enter a bunch of contests every year with a variety of titles, and simply hope that at some point one of them might final. So far this year, this particular book has finalled in the RITA, the National Reader’s Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and the Colorado Award of Excellence (which it won).  It is humbling and overwhelming and thrilling all at once. A bit hard to believe, really.

But you know, despite the hype and the excitement of buying a dress for the ceremony and shoes and plane tickets and all the other craziness, the truth is I’ve been too busy to think a whole lot about it. Because at the end of the day, I’m a working writer who is trying to meet a few deadlines so she can take some relaxing family time over the summer.  The next books aren’t going to write themselves! The saying that I heard lots when I was unpublished really is true – it’s all about the next book.

And truthfully, it doesn’t matter if I win or not. And that’s the most awesome thing about Romance writers in the end. We are all excited and happy for each other. We celebrate each other’s victories and commiserate with the losses.  It’s a hugely supportive community because honestly – we practice what we preach:

Love. J

If any of you are in Anaheim for conference in July, please say hi if you see me roaming around. I’ll be the Canadian with the big smile.

Best wishes,


PS In the meantime, you can check out THE LAST REAL COWBOY, out this month from Harlequin Romance, and THE GREATEST GIFT: A MOTHER’S DAY COLLECTION featuring a short story by me and also one by my fellow RITA nominee, Tanya Michaels!

Currently Donna is having a contest and will be giving this book away!


  1. Congratulations on being a finalist in all those awards!

  2. Hi Deniz!

    Thanks for coming to read this post!

  3. What an awesome story! It must have been an absolute thrill to hear those words on the phone! Congrats on all the success!

  4. Hi jemi!

    Thanks for coming to read this post!

  5. Thanks Nas, for inviting me to take over your blog for the day!

    And a big hello and thanks to Jemi and Deniz for stopping by! Thrilling is definitely a good word to describe it!

  6. How exciting! Congratulations! It's always wonderful to read the success stories. : )

  7. This award sounds super awesome. Enjoy your conference and congratulatons!


    Hi Nas!

  8. Hi Nas! Hi Donna!

    Donna, mega congratulations on being a RITA finalist! How very exciting! I am looking forward to reading it!

    And I'll certainly cheer you on at the Awards dinner, and speak to you if I see you! I'll be the English/New Zealander at my first RWA conference....

  9. ...and Donna, I'll be the little lost Nas for the first time at the conference at Anaheim! Hopefully we'll meet? And yes, I will be definitely cheering for you!

  10. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your call. I got goosebumps. I'm sure you'll enjoy the conference, and good luck!

  11. Waving hello to Denise, Shelley and Cynthia! Thanks for popping by!

    Louisa, you are going to LOVE it. And Nas, you're coming? COOL! I'll be doing the Literacy signing on Wednesday night, so you can find me there for sure. Stop by the table and say hi!

  12. That's so wonderful. Congratulations!

  13. Hello Nas! Thanks so much for the follow. I'm so glad I met you. Thank you for introducing us to Donna. What awesome news!

    Donna, good luck. I hope you win!

  14. What a fun story! Thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about the energy at conferences. I write fantasy, and went to my first fantasy lit conference last year. I have been craving that conference atmosphere ever since.

    Good luck!

  15. Congrats to Donna! I need to get reading more of your books. The Last Real Cowboy is on my TBR list. :)

  16. That was a great story. Congratulations on your book! :)

    I hope you have a great time at the conference.

  17. What a dream come true! Congratulations. I got choked up reading about THE call.

  18. I love your story through publishing, Donna, and it is gratifying to know you still love everything that goes with it.

  19. Congrats on your nomination. Sending you good wishes for the finals.

  20. Lynda, I can't say I love EVERYTHING, but then, no job is perfect. It's a darn good gig when all is said and done. It makes me happy. :-) When you can get up in the morning and can't wait to get to work - that's pretty special.

  21. Congratulations! Thanks for taking us through the moment. What an exciting call to receive.

  22. Hi Friends!

    Thank you all my lovelies for coming along and congratulating Donna for her awesome nominations!

    Donna, I'll be there on the Literacy Signing to meet you.

  23. Congrats on your many nominations, Donna!


  24. Hello Donna,

    Congratulations on being a finalist in all those awards!

    And your Cadence Creek story sounds fabulous.

  25. Congratulations, and this book looks like a lot of fun (romance = fun :)