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  • Blog

    Putting on your big girl’s panties aka getting on with it – WHATEVER IT IS

    1/26/2016

    Manly Wharf and FerryLast January I was a whirling dervish of momentum and productivity. This January, #notsomuch. I usually take January off but last year I began the #1000wordsaday challenge and managed to get some great forward motion.

    This year I don’t seem to have had that. It’s summer vacation here in Australia in January. That means sleeping in, long lunches, lazy days. It means no routine, catching up with friends and family. It means the kids are home, the television is on and as soon as you settle in you can be sure someone will want you.

    Of course much of that is just an excuse in my case to put off doing what I am not be that inclined to do anyway. The truth is I do have time to write a book blub, to edit a chapter or to write my #1000wordsaday.

    Maybe I just haven’t felt like it. Or maybe after achieving my many of my personal writing goals I just don’t have the motivation to create new ones. All of the goals I’ve failed to achieve have to do with commercial success. I don’t have control over that. All of the goals I have achieved relate to productivity, deadlines and content.

    It’s possible that after running on the treadmill with limited success I need to rest.

    Would I stay on a diet if I didn’t lose weight? Would I stay on the treadmill if I didn’t get fit? No, I wouldn’t. I’d stop and look at my methods and have a serious re-think, so maybe that’s why I haven’t been so productive this January.

    Maybe pulling up my big girl panties means stepping back and re-evaluating how I spend my time and energy so that writing is a joyous and creative experience again. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m giving myself permission to step back and think until February.

    And then, I guess we will see what shakes out.

  • Blog

    Goal setting and maintaining momentum

    7/27/2015

    Beach and Surf ClubIt probably seems weird to have a picture of the beach beside a post on goal-setting. Beaches and goals are not exactly natural friends. Or are they?

    The truth is writing is a lonely pursuit. You sit with your bum in the chair trying to block the world out and be creative. It’s not a group pursuit. when it comes down to it you just have to do the work all by yourself. Yes you pay editors and proof-readers but you still have to create something for them to work with.

    I love setting goals. I know this makes me a weirdo. I’m not a competitive person except with myself. The truth is deep down I’m a pretty lazy human being. I need goals or nothing gets done.

    This year I set myself the goal of writing #1000wordsaday and I’m actually ahead of schedule. so far this year I’ve written 240,000 words. That’s more than 1000 words a day. In order to do that I have had to create a system for success. I run a small business, I have a family, I have friends and I like people so to get everything done I need a system.

    Not only is writing solitary but I work from home, alone. That’s a bucket-load of alone time. I probably spend more time alone than just about any person I know around my age. The truth is I’m a very social creature, which brings us to the beach.

    My Facebook posts and Twitter and Instagram feed make it look like all I do is go to the beach and drink coffee. “When do you write?” people ask me.

    Well let’s break it down. I don’t have a commute and I eat at my desk so that’s maybe two hours I have that a lot of people don’t. I work alone so there’s no gossiping at the water-cooler and I know from experience most people spend at least half an hour a day doing that.

    So if I spend and hour at the beach having coffee with a friend it’s time that someone else might spend doing those things. Not only that by choosing to go somewhere beautiful and inspiring I return to my desk energised.

    I’m not a morning person. I get up and do all my tedious admin first up. If I am meeting someone at the beach I’m back at my desk by lunchtime…and then I write. That’s my most creative time. I’ve had my treat now it’s time for business.

    That keeps my on track for my goals. If I’m too punitive with myself or too isolated I feel my creativity wane. I become dull and so do my characters. We all need balance in our lives or we lose momentum.

    When I set goals now I ask myself:
    – Is that realistic? (Do you have time? Do have the resources?)
    – Can you sustain that? (I can do 50,000 words on month but not every month).
    – Do you want it badly enough? (If I’m half-hearted to begin with I always fail).
    – What do you need to reach this goal? (Coffee? Company? Solitude? New software? You have to set yourself up to succeed).

    That’s how I set my goals and maintain my momentum – and get to go to the beach. What about you?

     

  • Blog

    Muses, musing and Musical Monday

    7/19/2015

    Any Way You Fight It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverI seem to have been a bit lax in the blogging area of late.

    One of the things about having a #1000wordsaday challenge going is that I spend a lot of time thinking about what to write next in my novels, I think some of that time I used to spend thinking about what to blog next.

    I don’t think we have a finite amount of creativity but I do think we have a finite amount of time to be creative and so we have to pick and choose how we spend it.

    I’m not a huge believer in muses or waiting for the creative impulse to strike. That’s not true either. I happen to think that is a wonderful thing. If I don’t feel like baking a cake or redecorating then I might wait for inspiration. If I was writing purely for pleasure I might do the same.

    However if you have a schedule and deadlines and an agenda just like in any job sometimes you just have to show up and get to work. I had an editing disaster earlier this year. (Actually I had two and neither were my fault and editing is already the least pleasant part of this process for me so frankly, I’m still a little bitter about it.) Anyway, I made a decision when I was an hour away from sending my book to the editor and I lost 10,000 plus words and ten days work. I decided that if this was a job for a PR client I would have sat my bum down in the seat and started again. So that’s exactly what I did. I’m not sure the muse would ever show up and make me feel inspired to do that task. I still feel kind of ill at the memory.

    I guess my point is that sometimes you have to push through even when you feel uninspired but there’s a limit to how many areas in life you can do that in. Apparently, for me blogging has gone by the wayside.

    Still I have managed to complete all six books in the Upper Crust Series so you can expect four more releases from me in 2015. Don’t you love the cover for Any Way You Fight It? (I’m sending the book to the editors in the next few days so expect an August release).

    I’m also working on a Christmas novella and I’ve written a summer/Valentine novella as well so I guess the blogging has been lax for a reason. You can’t do it all.

    For Musical Monday here is one of my all time favourite songs by the Eurythmics – Right By Your Side – I actually saw this tour back in 1987 in Sydney. The song is a perfect fit for Zara and Kyle the characters in my Christmas novella.

  • Blog

    Crossed the 100,000 mark in my #1000wordaday challenge this #MusicalMonday

    4/20/2015

    100,500 / 365,000 words.
    I do love a challenge

    It is a strange thing because I’m basically not a very competitive person. I compete with myself but not with others.

    So if you want to beat me there’s every chance I’m going to let you. I hate team sports because the competition makes anxious. I don’t even like to watch team sports because I feel like the worst player on the team is beating themself up and feeling embarrassed.

    As the parent of a child who quite enjoys sports I have come to learn that the worst player on the team often believes themselves to be a star. I’ve watched children who can barely catch correct the play of other children on the netball court,

    In fact I would go so far as to say this has been one of my great failings in life. If you say “I’m better at this than you”, I will probably believe you. I will bow out of the race and let you have it. I have some wonderful examples I could share but on the off-chance I offend someone I shall refrain.

    However, if I set myself a challenge, I will usually embrace it.

    It’s why being self-employed works for me. It’s why I enjoy #NaNoWriMo and it’s why the #1000wordsaday challenge I started this year is a good one for me. I’m doing it with others but I’m running my own race.

    So today I did a little happy dance when I crossed that milestone.

    Meanwhile Book 2 in the UpperCrust series came back from the last reader before it goes to the editor this week. She suggested some changes which I’ll be making in the next few days. Which means a mid-May release!

    Book 3 is out with the BETA readers and I’m hoping to start the re-write on it next week.

    And as part of the #1000wordsaday challenge I’m working on Books 4 and 5. Lots to do.

    Monique McDonell Upper Crust Series Banner
    And finally for Musical Monday here is a song by Vance Joy with reminds me of Chloe and Tom on Book 5 (which has no name yet).

    In fact it is these lines that remind me of these two. “I could easily lose my mind, the way you kiss me will work each time”.

  • Blog

    A writer’s update on #Musical Monday

    3/29/2015

    Alphabet Dating - Monique McDonell - 2015 CoverNew covers, #99cent sales and social media
    It looks like I haven’t managed to do any blogging for the last two weeks. I’ve had a few rather craptastic things happen which have meant my attention has been pulled in a few directions and as they say, something has to give.

    Still, I haven’t been entirely stagnant.

    * The lovely Scarlett Rutgers redesigned the cover for Alphabet Dating for me. (See Left). I just never loved the old cover the way I loved my other illustrated covers so I thought I’d give it a face-lift. I think she’s done a really great job of capturing the mood of the story.

    To celebrate Alphabet Dating is currently on sale for #99cents so if you haven’t got a copy now is a great time to do so. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG

    * I have kept up with my 2015 #1000wordsaday and my total now sits at 78,000 words which all in all I am very happy with. I’ve almost finished the first draft of Book 4 in the Upper Crust Series.

    *Upper Crust Series – Book 2 is back from my BETA readers and I spent today working through Book 3 to send it off. I’m still on track to release Book 2 /Any Way You Dream It for the end of April.

    * I had a great time on the weekend as one of the hosts of the March Madness ChickLit Style Party on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder about the so-called “social” aspects of social media but I feel like I got to connect to some great readers at that event, and hopefully they felt the same way.

    So I guess although my blog has been a little bit quiet I have been staying busy enough.

    And now for Musical Monday – a song that sums up the last few weeks and where I am in my life. This song is an old friend – Landslide the Dixie Chicks version.

  • Blog

    Musical Monday – singing and dancing our way into 2015 #1000wordsaday

    1/11/2015

    Metallic Copper ShoesIt is my first Musical Monday post for the year. Sorry I have been so remiss. I figure my Australian readers were laying on a beach somewhere and my American and UK readers were busy riding (or I hope reading) out the winter.

    January 12 and I’m happy to report I’m at 13,000 words in my #1000wordsaday challenge. I’m pretty happy about that.

    One of the issues I have as a writer, and let’s face it a lot of writers have, is that was stall easily and we get blocked. It really is better to keep going, to just write a bit every day in order to push through the blocks and keep your head in the story. I have periods where I’m great at that but then I finish a project or publish a book or just plain lose momentum. I’m really hoping I can break that habit.

    The truth is I’ve spent some long, luxurious days out on magical Sydney Harbour taking in the sun, drinking wine and laughing with friends since January began. I love those days and normally I don’t write in January at all. I say to myself that I don’t need to, that I get the month off. The thing is I usually give myself December off too, in a post-NaNoWriMo celebration and because December kicks my butt anyway.

    That’s all very lovely but that’s 8 weeks lost. I’m simply trying to maintain the energy while enjoying summer. I have skipped days but I’ve made them back. Now I’m ahead. Ahead works for me psychologically better than behind. it works during NaNoWriMo and I suspect my momentum will pick up in the next couple of days if I can move further ahead. We’ll see.

    Meanwhile I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. (Yes I do take most of my life lessons from stop motion animation, thanks for asking!).

    And because not everyone likes their music to come from their childhood. Here is a song that reminds me of the characters in the second book in my Upper Crust series which I’ve just completed. I love this song and the video, oh yeah and the messages – Love, success, persistance and standing tall.

    Comments

    Katie
    1/11/2015 02:30:46 pm

    Thank you very much for the music video share. I had heard this song, but had never taken the time to watch the video. The message is deeply impactful. I’d like to think that his time machine worked in the end, taking him back to his family’s fire where he could save them. If only we could all be so single-minded and focused in our passion. Indeed if only we could all know so thoroughly what our passions are! Good luck with your writing challenge!
    Reply
    Monique
    1/12/2015 07:22:03 am

    It is a really lovely video isn’t it, Katie? I too believe he gets the happy ending. He deserves it.

  • Blog

    One week in…

    1/7/2015

    7,000 / 365,000 words.
    I do hope if you’re reading this your 2015 is off to a great start.
    Mine has been a lovely mix of boating, sleeping in, sunshine and writing.

    I’m keeping up with my #1000wordsaday challenge. Some days I have skipped but I’m making sure I catch up the next so that I stay on track. This is as much about establishing good habits for me as it is huge word counts.

    I’m at the end of a book. Usually I write chronologically in a story, which is much better for me, but sometimes if I have a block I skip ahead so I don’t stall and then lose a month procrastinating. This week I’ve been going back and filling in missing scenes in book 2 in my Upper Crust Series. This is some of the hardest bits of writing for me and I read through the novel along the way changing bits, adding bits and making notes of what is missing. I think it’s hard because you’re focussing on the flaws. Oh yes and sometimes the reason I have skipped a scene is because it’s hard to write and a couple of months later, well nothing has changed.

    Anyway, after today I’ll be done with that and moving on to Book 4 in the series or perhaps a novella I have an idea for.

    Being out on in the summer sun has made me want to write a book about Sydney again. I have a fun fish out of water idea that I think will work well for a novella so maybe that can be my January project, while the sun is shining and I’m melting into my keyboard.

    One of the reasons I like that idea is I have lots of American readers who find the opposite scenes and traditions here in Australia a little disconcerting so I thought I might write a book for them.

    Meanwhile here’s the cover of Book 2 in the Upper Crust series. If you’ve read Any Way You Slice it you may recall Lucy, who works with Piper at Pied Piper’s Pies. This book is Lucy’s story. Lucy needs a date for her high school reunion and Cherie is keen to put her matchmaking skills to good use again. It’s a fun story about families, friendships and finding your way.
    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original Cover

  • Blog

    #1000wordsaday in 2015 – or the New Year’s resolution post

    12/29/2014

    Electric Keyboard and Coffee CupYou know what the end of December is – that lovely time when we make New Year’s resolutions and then, in many cases, cross our fingers and hope they’ll stick.

    As a writer always goal-setting. I often fall short of the goals I set myself but by having the plan and the goals I get more hits than I do misses. Still, writing can be lonely and finding motivation is hard. I’m lucky that I have a lovely writer’s group here in Sydney and I am a member of some great online groups for chicklit authors as well.

    Still sometimes the motivation to focus on the writing slides.

    After doing #NaNoWriMo yet again in 2014 I looked at the lessons that I could learn from that and I decided that I really could find time to write 1,000 words a day. Not all of those words would be brilliant and many will get the chop later but I could put pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard and write them.

    Thus, I decided to make that my writing resolution for 2015. 1,000 words a day or 365,000 words across the year (That sounds scary but 1,000 words a day doesn’t).

    Then this week I thought about what motivates me and I realised the group force of #NaNoWriMo was another of its strengths so I set up a Facebook group for writers who also want to write #1000wordsaday.

    Here it is if you would like to join:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1522004348059160/

    Or if you would like to follow my progress you can follow the hashtag #1000wordsaday on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter for regular updates.

    My next post will be looking back a 2014 and forward to the year ahead.

    Comments

    Isabella Louise Anderson
    12/31/2014 07:57:13 am

    What a great idea, Monique! Good luck to you!
    Reply
    Monique
    1/1/2015 10:09:49 am

    Thanks Isabella. So far I’m off to a good start!