Behind The Book: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart

I started setting books in my fictional town of Larch Valley a while ago – in fact, it was the first book I did with my current editor after my first editor at Harlequin got promoted. I wrote the end of it with a cast on my arm, a glass of wine at my elbow and a husband gone to Hawaii in the middle of a brutally cold January. The book was called The Rancher’s Runaway Princess.

Despite the adjustments that happened during the writing of that book, I went on to write a duet set there – One Dance With the Cowboy and Her Lone Cowboy. I loved bringing back characters from the first book and introducing a few new ones. One character I loved writing – even though his role was small – was Clay Gregory. Even with his walk-on role he was a big ol’ sexy cowboy and I knew I wanted to write his story.

But I couldn’t find him the right heroine. I had a few proposals but none of them really flew. I wrote three more books for the Romance line before I finally figured it out. The woman he was supposed to be with was Megan Briggs – his best friend’s little sister.

It was fantastic going back to Larch Valley. Each time I do, past characters show up and a few new ones get introduced. Megan had been mentioned in One Dance With The Cowboy but never on screen; now she’s front and centre after disappearing for cancer treatment. I wrote the opening of this book something like four times (which is not unusual, this happens in nearly every book until I hit upon the right time and place to really start it). In the end, what worked was Meg trying desperately to get her life back to normal. She’s shoveling you know what. And in struts Clay with his boots and heavy jacket and all around sexiness.

It was both difficult and easy to write Meg’s character. Easy because as a cancer survivor, there’s automatically some internal conflict and a lot of emotion built in. Difficult because I feel a great responsibility for getting it RIGHT – all the hopes and dreams and worries and fears that Meg still has.

It really came down to one particular scene for me. One that I thought my editor might read and that she might tell me was too risky. But she never breathed a word about taking it out, and I was thrilled. I cried buckets writing it!

Romantic Times gave it  four stars, but what I really liked was the quote that went with it: Great characters bring life to this beautifully written story that explores trust, friendship and hope.

Trust, friendship, and hope. Yes, that just about nails it.

I’m giving a copy away today to one commenter! And please – don’t forget to do your self exam or get a mammogram if you’re over 40. 🙂

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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

25 thoughts on “Behind The Book: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart”

  1. Hi Donna,
    Welcome to the P&P your book sound fantastic and I would love to read it. Thanks for posting how where you got your idea for this book it was very interesting. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  2. Hi Donna. Thanks for sharing a little of the story behind the book! Am looking forward to reading HaCSHH. :o)

  3. Emotional support is so important when one goes through difficult times. I have a very close friend, Cherie, who had her breast cancer return after 14 years. I also have a co-worker, Denise, who went for her mammogram and found out she had stage 4 breast cancer and it had spread to her lymph nodes. Luckily, they are both survivors and still putting up a strong fight.

    I can see where your heroine Meg just wants her life to return to normal. So true, so true! It sounds like a very touching story.

    Never give up and continue to offer support to your loved ones.

    I agree… do get a mammogram every year. I’d get one even sooner if your family history is positive for breast cancer.

  4. First off, Donna, the books sound great. Will definitely be added to my TBR stack. But more importantly congratulations on being a survivor. Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing in the form of me needing to help out with my grandchildren because my oldest daughter is with the American Cancer Society and travels all around the U.S. When her youngest Addision, who is now in kindergarten, would get upset at night because Mommy wasn’t here and Dad was still at work, I’d always ask her to remember why her mommy wasn’t in town and she’s answer, “‘Cause she’s trying to find the cure for cancer.” That always settled her down and she’d go right off to sleep. Now that she’s a little older, I miss having her and her brother spending the night over here when Kathy is gone, but I do get more work done! Again, congratulation! Hugs to my fellow Filly, Phyliss

  5. One blessing from my bout with breast cancer was that former co-workers scheduled their long overdue mammograms.

    Best wishes for success of How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart and for continued good health.

  6. This is such a fantastic series, Donna, and HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART is one of the best books I’ve read. Not only did you do a wonderful job of taking the reader on Meg’s journey (and I think I know the scene you’re talking about and it was beautiful so glad you didn’t take it out) but you did such a great job showing Clay’s struggles and fears. Loved both of these characters and their friends.

    All around an emotional, lovely, satisfying read.

    –Kirsten

  7. Oh dear – I got the comments in my inbox and I thought Oh my goodness….wires are crossed somewhere! After re-reading my blog, I realize that there’s a line that I was talking about my heroine but it could be construed as talking about myself.

    I am so fortunate that I have never had to use the word “survivor” in reference to myself. I do however appreciate the health wishes though because I do try to look after myself and I know that you just really never know when things could change. Life is precious!

    Thank you all and sending out big hugs!

  8. What a great quote from RT, Donna. I’m sure your book deserves it. It sounds like a beautiful story. Some reader is going to be very lucky today.
    I’ve done a couple of series set in an imaginary place. Isn’t it amazing how real the place becomes to you. I’m betting you can picture every detail of Larch Valley.

  9. I loved reading this, Donna – especially about how the right heroine didn’t reveal herself for a while. Isn’t that how it often goes? Sometimes I have to put a book on hold for a couple of years.

    The story sounds fantastic. I’m going to have to read it!

  10. Donna, I so enjoyed your story about how you found Megan. The story sounds divine. Kudos for your reminder about mammograms. I’m a cancer survivor of throat cancer, so know how important early detection can be. I’d love to read Megan’s story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. I know that early detection is important, I just wish that my dad had had an earlier diagnosis for lung cancer, then maybe he would still be here.

    The cover looks really awesome 🙂

  12. HI Donna, what a terrific plot and character. Definitely going to read it. I lost three friends to breast cancer within six weeks two years ago and my heart still aches. And a recent release of my own deals with the love story of two cancer survivors. I am diligent about my mammograms and please, also make sure your guys do testicular self exams. The directions are on the internet. I’m happy to say my hubby is a survivor of that horrible disease. oxoxox

  13. Donna this book sounds wesome – I’m ading it to my TBR pile now! And I like the way you pointed out that the heroine needs to ‘reveal herself’. That’s how it happens for me too – I don’t create these characters from thin air, they reveal themselves to me, sometimes with frustrating slowness.

  14. I’ve got to find the time to get into this series! Sounds great. We’ve all had Cancer touch our lives either directly or through friends and family members. What we don’t hear about is the struggle to rebuild. Wish we could all have some sexy man strut into our life when needed 😉

  15. Hello everyone! just popping back in – have been working on the prelim stuff for a Christmas story (so much fun!) and soon off to the the mom chauffeur thing. But I’ve enjoyed your comments a lot – keep ’em coming!

  16. Donna, congrats on the new release. It sounds like one those books that you don’t want to see end. An awesome story full of depth and emotion. The title is one that immediately draws you. I’m wishing you lots of success with it. You’ve had a difficult year full of lots of heartache. I hope things smooth out for you.

  17. It’s such a beautiful, well-written book that stayed with me. Donna, you’re a courageous writer. Thanks for bringing us these heartfelt stories.Still thinking about Meg.

  18. I am so looking forward to reading this book. I’m sure I will find it emotional but a good cry is good for everyone.

  19. Hi, Donna,

    Had my annual mammogram late this past summer
    and it showed an irregularity. So back for a
    follow-up which showed calcifications. So I
    was off to the surgeon, who scheduled a special
    non-invasive biopsy. After 3 attempts to com-
    plete the biopsy, I had to go straight to the
    Ultrasound Department. No one saw any masses but
    a surgical biopsy was scheduled.(Now I could have
    told them that we would end up in the surgical
    unit, after all I had already had 3 biopsies
    over the last 36 years!) End of story: biopsy on
    October 11 with benign results. Thanks be to God!

  20. Forgot to add a final note: Never forget to have those mammograms done! You never know, I lost a
    younger sister to an aggressive breast cancer!

    Congratulations on the new release!

  21. This sounds like a lovely story. Getting back on tract with your life can be so difficult after a serious illness. Those who know about it can tend to either ignore it happened or be over protective. So often it is one step forward, two steps back. I love the continuity of a series where the location is an important part of the story. Each story is like a visit back home with friends.
    I had my annual check up a few months ago. Several years ago I found a lump, they did ultra sound and a needle biopsy. Fatty tumor and more small ones have shown up since. No real problem, thank goodness. Thanks for reminding everyone how important an exam is.

    I hope the release of Megan and Clay’s story goes well. I’ll be checking out these books and visiting Larch Valley.

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