• Blog

    Hearts Afire is free on Amazon (in e-book form) this weekend


    Hearts AfireI think the headline says it all really but because it is worth repeating I shall say again “Hearts Afire is free on Amazon” this weekend. The paperback is not free just the e-book.

    Just Click here HEARTS AFIRE  and have it sent straight to your Kindle.

    If you know someone who needs cheering up – send them a copy.
    If you download it – let me know.
    If you like it – click like on Amazon the Hearts Afire page.
    If you really like it – write a review.

    I hope that you download it and enjoy it.

    Feel free to tell your friends.

  • Blog

    Guest post by Kerri Williams – DIY covers and Contracted designers.


    Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

    Well, I’ll confess that in the times of e-books, I am definitely guilty of that. There are literally thousands of books out there on Amazon alone and it’s so easy to flick down the screen and pick a book by the cover that stands out and grabs your attention.

    Whether you are designing it yourself or having a designer do it for you, you still want to be able to have an idea of what you want and what the reader will buy.

    For many this may be a half-naked man, (yes please) for some it may be a child holding a scraggly toy rabbit or maybe it’s artistic and animated. Every ones tastes are different, but I do think that before you go out there and design your cover you should do some research first and make sure it is applicable to the genre your write.

    It’s no good to have a cute young couple holding hands on the front of a book like a YA novel which is actually about a farmer in his thirties who finds a three boobed alien in his corn field. No, your readers will definitely be disappointed, if not, a little freaked out. But once you have that down, it’s much easier to shop for your pictures. Yes I said‘shop’ for your
    pictures because you can’t just go google image surfing and use whatever you like.

    Now, I used a fantastic company called Okay Creations. I already had an idea of what I wanted my cover to portray and any good designer will have questions so he or she will get this just right for you (hopefully the first time round.) This part is important because you don’t want to be wasting your time and definitely not theirs because they have a life too and some may even charge you extra to meet your indecisive needs and when you’re an Indie author, you really don’t want to be forking money out needlessly.

    If you are doing it yourself and have Photoshop on your computer and actually know how to use it, you may be able to design your own cover. Sadly, I’m not one of those lucky or intelligent bastards.

    There are many sites out there like photobucket and other such copyright free photo sites you can use and they aren’t too badly priced either. Some are actually free. I bought three photos for my covers in The Moore Justice Trilogy; all are the same model in different looks so I could grab the appearance of her maturing as the series went along. All three cost me $60.

    You can download awesome fonts for free, but make sure they are from a legal site and can be embedded into your host site (amazon, etc) you can check this by trying to save your file as a pdf. If it doesn’t save, it won’t work. Sometimes, it still won’t work. It all depends on how much you want a fancy font in your book.

    But don’t be thinking that’s all there is to it. You have to get the measurement and pixels right for it to load correctly on Kindle, B&N, Smashwords etc. And then there is the full jacket cover. You need to know your page count once it’s
    loaded on to your host site to make sure you get the cover size right. There are many variables, so research your ass off so you aren’t stuck mid-load having an anxiety attack and reaching for a brown paper bag before you pass out.

    Okay, so I may have scared the pants off you and you have decided you are going to pay a professional, please don’t feel that way because I know when you use CreateSpace, they have cover templates and instructions so you can get through it without a sick bag.

    But for those who do choose to use a professional like I did, make sure you can afford it. Make sure you can make your money back or what’s the point. There are many and I mean many sites out there that offer the service, but some are quite expensive. I, myself wouldn’t go there. This is another research necessity. Ask around, don’t be afraid of forums. You don’t need to comment, just read.

    There is also another option which is cheap and EASY! (I have your attention now, right) Pre-made covers. My cover for NEVER GOODBYE was actually a pre-made cover. CHEAP!!! I saw it one day on facebook and I was writing the novel and knew right then and there it was perfect. I was actually freaking out that I’d miss out on purchasing it.

    I have a good friend who had used this method for two of her novels and they are fantastic and…CHEAP! Did I say that

    So there are a few options for you, but please remember cheaper isn’t always better. Remember you want your reader’s

    I used Okay Creations for HUNGER FOR JUSTICE, HEART FOR JUSTICE & BLOOD FOR JUSTICE. (The Moore Justice Trilogy)

    I used Once Upon A Time for NEVER GOODBYE and my blog banner and author facebook banner is from Boo Savage
    who also does fantastic covers.

    So there is no reason for a drab cover peeps. Go for it; don’t be afraid to ask questions and importantly, do your

    I hope that helps some and if you have any questions I promise I’ll try to help. If they have anything to do with Photoshop, which I own and have tried many times to play with and epically failed, then rack off and go find some other fool to help you. LOL. Although, I am getting better 😉

    Here is where you can find me, stalk me, love me. You get the picture:

    Twitter, Blog/web

    Hunger For Justice- the first novel in The Moore Justice Trilogy


    Hunger for Justice - Kerri Williams - CoverAvailable now!

    Heart for Justice - Kerri Williams - Cover
    Heart for Justice will be out 22nd December 2012



    kerri williams
    12/5/2012 03:26:03 pm

    thanks for having me, Mon.
    Sorry I’m late to the blog everyone, I was stuck at the dreaded day job.

    12/5/2012 06:04:14 pm

    Great post Kerri. Thanks for the advice – I’m looking into this for next year so this will be very useful.

  • Blog

    Q&A with Juliet Madison the author of Fast Forward


    Juliet Madison1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
    The idea for my debut novel, FAST FORWARD (coming out with Escape Publishing in February 2013) first came about when I was reading in bed one night. I don’t remember the book, I just remember that it mentioned a young character who behaved like they were years older, and I thought… ‘I would love to do a story where the character ages suddenly overnight!’. I was reminded of movies like Suddenly 30 (13 Going on 30 for those in the US) and 17 Again but wanted to do something a little different
    where the character becomes an age where they’re NOT in their prime. An age that they don’t want to be. I decided age 50 would be a good milestone to write about, and I chose to make the character a model with no desire for domestic life become a middle-aged housewife and mother overnight. The title Fast Forward came to me then, and gradually the main character and story developed in my mind and I wrote it all down as quickly as I could!

    2. When did you take up writing?
    I always enjoyed writing stories from a young age and in my early twenties I started to get ‘The Itch’.For writing that is. I began jotting down snippets of prose and story ideas, and even wrote one chapter of a mystery/suspense novel, but I never continued this story. Life got in the way and I forgot about writing until some major changes occurred in my life and I thought ‘It’s now or never.’ That was three years ago (late 2009) and I’ve been writing seriously ever since.

    3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    It depends on the type of story I’m writing. For example, for the series I’m writing set in a small Australian town, the setting is very important, it’s like a unique character in itself. For my romantic comedy, Fast Forward, the setting is a
    combination of the city and the suburbs, but it’s more of a generic setting. What’s more important in this story is the time period it’s set in – twenty-five years in the future. I had to think up new inventions that would be plausible but add some interest and comedy to scenes in the book.

    4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    I should say my main character Kelli, but I have quite a soft spot for William – her geeky middle-aged husband in the future. He was the high school nerd who grew into a confident successful man and loving father. He’s a funny, charming, and affectionate character with a positive attitude about life, and will do anything for the woman he loves. He’s quite a Superman (joke – you’ll see why in the book!).

    5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    ‘Write what you care about.’I care about making the most of life, following your passions, and staying true to yourself, and I try to incorporate these themes into my stories.

    6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
    I’d like to, and I do my best to have a routine, but my son does his schooling from home so everything revolves around this. If I can get some writing or editing done in the mornings I will, otherwise I write whenever I can and as often as I
    can. Evening sprint sessions have been productive for me (the writing kind not the physical exercise kind ;)), because I find when I have a strict time limit and another writer sprinting along with me I get more words down. And sometimes
    I write best on the spur of the moment so a combination of going with the flow and military precision works for me.

    7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
    I start with a basic premise in my mind and then wing the first scene or chapter to see what happens and find the voice of the story. Then I become a plotter. I usually start with the beginning and end so I have a clear idea of the purpose of the story, and then write an outline in dot points, listing as many scenes as I can think of to drive the story forwards. If needed I also get a long piece of paper and handwrite a timeline. I usually also work out my characters’ goals, motivations, conflicts, and what they need to learn by the end.

    8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
    It’s hard to choose favourites, it depends on what I’m enjoying reading at certain times in my life. A classic I really enjoyed was The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and two by Sophie Kinsella that I loved were Remember Me (because it inspired me to finally start my first book), and Twenties Girl (because it was so much fun – and I love stories with ghosts!).

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m working on revising a manuscript, outlining the next book in my small town series, while also writing a new manuscript called HauntedHousewives. It’s a similar style and set-up to Fast Forward – taking a character and throwing them head on into an outrageous situation for which escape seems impossible!

    In this case… During a weekend away with her bridesmaids, bride-to-be Sally becomes haunted by the ghost of her fiance’s ex-girlfriend who seems intent on stopping the wedding, while having a lot of fun at Sally’s expense along the way. It’s in no way a horror or suspense novel, it’s a romantic comedy – with a ghost!

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
    If you have a passion for writing, don’t give up! Keep writing and learning your craft, and be true to your own voice. Write the book you’d want to read, and join a writing organisation such as Romance Writers of Australia. Also, learn how to edit your book, and consider getting a critique partner or paying a freelance editor to assess your work and provide feedback before submitting to publishers.

    coming Feb 2013 from Escape Publishing: www.escapepublishing.com.au

    Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

    Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?

    Stay updated by subscribing to Juliet’s newsletter at: www.julietmadison.com
    Blog: www.julietmadison.wordpress.com
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/juliet_madison
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/julietmadisonauthor


    Juliet Madison
    12/4/2012 01:22:45 pm

    Thanks for having me on your blog, Monique, I enjoyed doing the interview! 🙂

    Lily Malone
    12/4/2012 03:01:31 pm

    Enjoyed reading more about Fast Forward Juliet. Congratulations on finishing the book. Bigger congratulations on getting it published. And thanks for the interview Monique. I look forward to having a look around your site.
    Juliet Madison
    12/4/2012 03:40:47 pm

    Thanks Lily, there are so many steps involved in writing & publishing a book, each milestone deserves a celebration I think!

    12/4/2012 03:48:30 pm

    Great interview Juliet 🙂 I love your voice and I can’t wait to read whatever you bring out next! (Haunted Housewives sounds fun!)
    Juliet Madison
    12/4/2012 04:02:08 pm

    Thanks for your nice words, Kez 🙂

    HH is very much a rough work-in-progress but I hope it will be a lot of fun!

    Caroline Praed
    12/4/2012 04:09:25 pm

    Fascinating to hear about how you came to write your book – and so thrilled for you, Juliet. [Australia seems particularly far away today when my part of the UK has heavy snow!] Reply
    Juliet Madison
    12/6/2012 06:44:08 pm

    Thanks Caroline. I’ve always wanted to experience a white Christmas, I bet a hot sunny one for you would feel weird! 😉

    Imelda Evans
    12/5/2012 03:39:55 pm

    I’m FASCINATED by this concept Juliet! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with it. Great interview!
    Juliet Madison
    12/6/2012 06:45:01 pm

    I’m glad, Imelda! I hope you like what I’ve done with the concept 🙂

    Sarah Bell
    12/6/2012 09:47:33 am

    They all sound amazing, Juliet. I can’t wait to read everything!
    Juliet Madison
    12/6/2012 06:45:50 pm

    Thanks Sarah, I can’t wait for you to read them too!

  • Blog

    What did we learn during NaNoWriMo 2012?


    NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner BadgeWow it’s December 4th already here in Australia, so a little bit of time has past and the dust has settled on the NaNoWriMo experience.

    This was definitely not my best NaNoWriMo to date. On the creative front I never really fell in love with the characters in my book, they were uncooperative and they frustrated me. I usually write characters I like and these girls were annoying.

    I started writing in third person and ended up switching to first person with all three characters telling their own story and that definitely worked better. Still, even with that I don’t see myself going back and doing anything with the book.

    So that aside let’s focus on what was achieved and how and what went wrong and why.

    I’ll be honest I always consider finishing NaNoWriMo to be a huge achievement but this year, despite what I said above, it was mammoth for me. My November was insanely busy. I had so many social functions I can barely believe my husband’s 50th birthday party was only a month ago – it feels like a dim memory. Add in a weekend away and a school reunion and several birthday dinners and I didn’t know who I was some days.

    Of course I also had work to do. That’s new for me in general and especially with NaNoWriMo. I run a boutique PR consultancy and this time last year we were not busy and now we are. It’s wonderful and I’m loving what I’m doing but that definitely meant more to juggle.

    So given all of that I am pleased with the outcome.

    Now to the nitty gritty.

    I lost 3,000 words about a week in. My computer did some weird update…I’m not sure even now how it happened as it seems to autosave every five minutes but it did happen and it really took the wind out of my sails. So our first lesson is be very careful with your technology. I can’t guarantee that won’t happen again, as I still don’t know how it happened but save, save, save.

    I wrote some posts about being organised and I totally think that is the key to success. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been as I had lots of work deadlines at the end of October but still stocking up on food, preparing meals ahead really saved me. It was great to throw that pasta bake in the oven and write for forty minutes while it cooked for example.

    I set my computer up a bit differently based on the advice Terri Green provided on this blog and I didn’t get the crippling sore neck I often do, which was a huge win.

    You also really need to follow some basic principles…try and get ahead at the start, write more than the 1667 word minimum each day, use every 1/2 hour block you have because every 200 words makes a difference.

    The lesson I learn every time I do NaNoWriMo is the same – I waste a lot of time in a day I can find an hour a day to write…the time is there if I go in search of it but it will not find me or be obvious about it’s whereabouts.

    If you did NaNoWriMo in 2012 what did you learn?

  • Blog

    Sunday at Pam Cook’s Book Launch for Blackwattle Lake


    Pam Cook and Monique McDonell at Book Launch for Blackwattle Lake
    Pam Cook and Monique McDonell

    Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend Pam Cook’s book launch of her just-released novel Black Wattle Lake. Te launch was held at the NSW Writer’s Centre which funnily enough is where I first met Pam.

    Pam and I have been in the same writing group for what I’m assured is eight years. That seems impossible to me but I am reliable sources confirm that is the case.

    So for eight years I’ve been with Pam on her journey to publication so I was very, very happy to help her celebrate yesterday.

    There were lots of other wonderful people at the launch who I also happen to like so it was a wonderful day. Lots of members of our writing group were there and it was wonderful to catch up with them. It was also lovely to see the delightful Vanessa Radnidge Pam’s publisher at Hachette Livre who I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2008 when I did the QWC/Manuscript Development course.

    Below are some snapshots from the day…I took lots of photos and I know many many more will be over on Pam’s site.

    Bridget McKern, Pauline Reynolds and Yvonne Louis at book launch
    Bridget McKern, Pauline Reynolds and Yvonne Louis


    Angella Whitton, Margaret Wilcox and Terri Green at Book Launch
    Angella Whitton, Margaret Wilcox and Terri Green

    Tanuj, Jules Jones and Angella Whitton at Book Launch

    Tanuj, Jules Jones and Angella Whitton

    Deborah Green, Yvonne Louis, Angella Whitton, Bridget McKern at Book Launch
    Deborah Green, Yvonne Louis, Angella Whitton, Bridget McKern


    Vanessa Radnidge and Pam Cook at Book Launch
    Vanessa Radnidge and Pam Cook


    Monique McDonell and Jen Tomasetti at Book Launch
    Monique McDonell and Jen Tomasetti. (You’ll always find us in the kitchen at parties!)


    Jen Tomasetti as M.C.
    Jen Tomasetti as M.C.


    Pam Cook signing copies of Blakwattle Lake.
    Pam Cook signing copies of Blakwattle Lake.


    Pamela Cook
    12/2/2012 11:30:28 am

    Thanks for sharing the day and the journey Monique and for posting these beautiful photos.
    12/2/2012 12:37:21 pm

    Such a pleasure Pam!

  • Blog

    A bookish tradition – an advent calendar made of books


    Christmas Tree LightsWhen my daughter was a baby I joined an internet forum, it was me, the token Australian and lots of American and Canadian women.

    They were kind and welcoming and shared so many neat ideas for holiday traditions. If you live in the Northern hemisphere you may not even be aware how many holiday traditions and images are very much focus around the weather – snowmen, driving to see the
    Christmas lights and eggnog for example.

    Well, if you live in Australia and it’s summer at Christmas these traditions don’t translate so well. We go to the beach and swim on Christmas morning, it’s daylight saving so you can’t see the lights till about nine at night and as for egg nog, hot milk isn’t what you want in a heatwave, we’ll have a chardonnay or a beer instead.

    Still, I wanted to create a tradition with my daughter that would be lasting and memorable and hopefully sustainable in the long-term and I wanted to use some of the wonderful ideas I was learning from these women.

    Then I happened along an idea that was perfect for us. Instead of an advent calendar filled with candy (you know chocolate melts right it’s not great for summer) or toys, these women had an idea that was mind expanding and perfect for a book lover.

    It’s a simple concept – find 25 Christmas books and wrap them up, put them in a sack and open one each day in December up until. Genius right? It’s totally perfect for a book lover as well.

    Some people I know number their books so they know what is coming each night and do things like save The Night Before Christmas for Christmas Eve. I never was that technical. I wrapped them and we did it lucky dip style. I think you can adapt it to what suits.

    Now I know what you’re thinking – twenty five books is going to cost me a pretty penny. Still there are ways around

    To start with I used cheap board books, colouring in and sticker books amongst the better quality books. I also scoured cheap and second hand bookshops and online shops like bookcloseouts.com. Some of our favourite books which I bought that way are sadly no longer in print, which is such a pity as I was planning to recommend them to you! I started buying books in the post -Christmas sales for the following year. When my daughter started school the Scholastic catalogues that came home from school were a source of good choices.

    Then each year I would add a few more lovely books or more age appropriate books along the way and remove the ones we’d outgrown. I also let people know about this tradition and several gifted us beautiful books too.

    We’ve had books to suit all phases of development from Strawberry Shortcake to Littlest Petshops mixed in with more classic tales. It doesn’t much matter what the book is, if the child is excited to bound out of bed and read a book every morning.

    My daughter is now twelve. I still try and find one or two new one’s every year.

    We have some favourites of course that we revisit each year even though she is my big girl now. We have books from the US and UK as well as some beautiful Australian ones.

    Here are a few of our Australian favourites if you already do this or are considering starting this tradition with your own

    Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle

    Pearlie and the Christmas Angel

    Letters to Santa

    Wombat Divine

    I think this may be our last year of this wonderful tradition but I have started other families down this path and I drop new books to them at the start of each December. I intend to keep our books for when my daughter has her own children and wants to share some of her favourite memories with her own kids.

    NB: There is no reason you couldn’t do an adult version…you could have 25 Christmas books and unwrap them or you could send a new book to a friend or lover or relative’s Kindle as a gift every day in December…how cool would that be!?

  • Blog

    My lovely writerly weekend

    11/30/2012 0 Comments

    Favel, Monique McDonell and Edwina Shaw
    Favel, Monique McDonell and Edwina Shaw at Breakfast

    I’m feeling very lucky this weekend because I have a couple of lovely writerly events on.
    That doesn’t happen that often really and certainly in the midst of this scorching Sydney heat-wave and the madness that is December it’s a lovely treat.

    This morning I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Edwina Shaw, author of Thrill Seekers and Favel Parrett, author of Past the Shallows. They were both up for awards at last night’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Sadly neither of them took home the gong but what an honour to be nominated!

    I met both women when I did the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program a few years back. Favel is now published with Hachette. Although I’m not, I really recommend any Australian writers out there to apply for the program because it really is an excellent opportunity…I was lucky I also got lots of lovely friends out of it.

    It was lovely to catch-up with both Edwina and Favel and hear about their next projects and what they’re working on. (We did also cover other important topics such as being pale and redheaded, high heels at formal functions and what clothing writers wear (or not) when writing, finding an agent and what happens at a pitch.)

    Tomorrow I get to back this up with the lovely Pam Cook’s bok launch for Blackwattle Lake which she is holding at the NSW Writer’s Centre. It will be a great opportunity to celebrate her publication – also as a result of the QWC/Hachette Development Program.

    For me it will also be a wonderful chance to see members of my writing group The Writers’ Dozen, who no longer attend with regularity as well as those gorgeous regulars who have kept me writing and kept me motivated on my own writing journey.

  • Blog

    Q&A with Pam Cook author of Blackwattle Lake


    Pam Cook1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
    For this particular novel it was the old “write what you know” advice. I spend a lot of time with horses so decided to write something set on a horse property. And then I had an image of a woman standing at the gate of the property unable to get in. She turned out to be Eve Nicholls, my protagonist.

    2. When did you take up writing?
    I’ve written on and off all my life – mainly poetry and journals when I was younger. In 2000, sick of marking high school English essays, I decided to try my hand at something more creative and enrolled in a Masters in Creative Writing at UNSW. I had my third daughter during that time and decided to teach part time and continue writing, which I’ve been doing ever since.

    3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    I adore novels that have a strong sense of place, stories that transport me somewhere else. I try to do the same in my own writing. My first novel (as yet unpublished) is set in Nepal, a country I fell in love with and I really enjoyed evoking the atmosphere of the streets of Kathmandu and the awesomeness of the Himalayas. Blackwattle Lake is set in a fictional place somewhere around 5 hours south of Sydney. I spend a lot of time on the south coast of NSW and also at the ranch where we agist our horses. I’ve drawn on both places to create the setting of Yarabee and Mossy creek Farm. I hope readers get a sense of really being there and love it as much as I do.

    4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    Eve, the main character is definitely my favourite. She doesn’t let people push her around, says what she thinks, is independent and will have a go at anything. At the same time she has a vulnerability that stems from tragedy
    in her past and she also loves animals and horses. Her best friend is a kelpie and she drives a kombi. What’s not to love? The thing I enjoyed about writing this novel is that all the characters became my friends. It was great hanging
    out with them all and I miss them now!

    5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    That’s a tough one. I’m addicted to books on writing so I’ve read a lot of good tips over the years. Two things that stand out though, one is to write first and foremost for the love of writing and not for any perceived audience. That comes later in the revision stages – if you’re looking for a wider audience or hoping to be published. The second piece of advice, from the wonderful writer Markus Zusak, was that rejection makes you a better writer. That’s hard to believe when the rejection happens but it does make you hone your skills and improve your writing.

    6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
    I wish I did! But as hard as I try that doesn’t seem to happen. I go for weeks and months doing morning pages (which I highly recommend) and then a late night brings me to a halt. As far as my fiction writing goes I tend to write in bursts a few times a week, squeezing it around family life. I’ll continue to keep working at creating a daily schedule. Hopefully it will happen soon!

    7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
    I definitely wing it which can mean I end up without any definite plot for quite a while. I like to write character based fiction so it’s easy to get sidetracked with backstory. I have learnt over the years that plot does matter so I’m trying harder to work more consciously on the story arc. Freewriting is still really important for a first draft. It’s part of my process and helps me learn who the characters are and what they want.

    8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
    I recently read Secrets of The Tides by Hannah Richell. It’s about a family living with a tragedy and secrets. The way Richell weaves the narratives of the three main characters keeps you turning the page and her writing is very evocative. I’ve been reading The Hobbit out loud with my daughter and am loving sharing one of my all time favourites with her. Tolkien is the master of creating another world and making it one hundred percent believable. I just finished Jilted
    by Rachael Johns which is a lovely rural romance with a very hot hero. And my current read is The Streetsweeper
    by Elliot Pearlman which I was finding very hard to get in to at first but he is such a wonderful writer that I can’t wait to get back to it each day and see how he’s weaving the plot lines od the various characters together. As you can see,
    I have very eclectic tastes!

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m currently behind with my nano project which is proving to be a perfect example of writing a first draft with no definite plot in mind. It has elements of forbidden love, a shipwreck, prophetic dreams and is set once again on the south coast. Hopefully it will develop into something more solid.

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
    Persistence and determination are the keys if you really want to be published. You will go through times where you can’t see the point and feel like giving up but if you keep at it you will achieve your dream in some form or another. Be careful who you show your writing to but do find a critique partner you trust and do listen to and act on feedback. And most importantly, write because you love to write.

    Blackwattle Lake is available at bookstores and department stores across Australia.

    For more information visit

    Blackwattle Lake - Cover






















    Jenn J McLeod
    11/29/2012 05:26:32 pm

    Lovely interview. I like that you too have a ‘first novel’ you hold dear. Yours is Nepal. Mine is Positano, on the Amalfi Coast. One day, Pam!!!!

  • Blog

    Place in a story

    Sydney Opera House VividAs I was having lunch with my lovely husband on a recent Saturday we had an interesting conversation about place in books.

    We’re Sydney people, though we’ve both travelled and lived elsewhere. There’s something about this city that is just magical. It’s the beaches, the harbour and the climate combined I think.

    The disadvantage of Sydney, which is also part of it’s charm and really the whole of Australia suffers from this problem, is its distance from the rest of the world.

    It’s a very long way on a plane to just about everywhere. Still Australians like to travel, we don’t let this deter us. When you write a story it’s important to have a good sense of place and yet so often in books towns are fabricated. Partly that’s because it’s fun to create your own town or city and sometimes these places are amalgams of real towns or are in fact a real town with the name changed (to protect the innocent – I suppose).

    When you write about a real city or town and don’t change it’s name you have to get it right. People will know you can’t get from Kirribilli to say Watson’s Bay in Sydney in seven minutes, people know where the cafes are, how long a train trip takes and whether the 136 bus does in fact go from Manly to Chatswood or not (it does but it’s a very slow bus!).

    In Mr Right and Other Mongrels I set the book in Sydney and I left everything apart from a couple of street names the same. (For your reference there is in fact a Dream House Lane in Sydney but it is not in Lavender Bay where Teddy lived but in another Northern Sydney suburb…I just wanted you to know that while it is a very cheesy name it is real.)

    In Hearts Afire I used parts of Sydney but I did create the name of the suburb where Cassie lives. That suburb is an amalgam of a few suburbs in Sydney’s inner west. (Feel free to guess which ones). The island on the Reef is based on a couple of islands I’ve visited up there.

    So do you like books set in real places you know, or places you might visit or do you prefer a whole new created world?

  • Blog

    Q&A with author of Christmas in Wine Country, Addison Westlake


    Addison Westlake1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
    I first got the idea for “Christmas in Wine Country” while spending a December weekend in Mendocino, a tiny, remote and gorgeous town up
    on the Northern California coast. In the mist and rain, with the romance of the surf pounding against the rocky coastline I thought—this would be a fantastic setting for a novel.

    From there, I imagined what a perfect place it would be to retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city, perhaps after a terrific disaster—and the idea was hatched.

    2. When did you take up writing?
    I’ve been writing since I was about 9 years old. I remember loving the Sweet Valley High books but thinking I could improve upon them. I
    think I rewrote a chapter or two.

    In high school and college my writing took on a more self-important and occasionally angry political tone. Happily, I’m back where I started, enjoying life and writing books that hopefully will make other people smile.

    3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    I could answer this in two ways – in the fiction I write, place is extremely important. In some ways, it shapes the action. “Christmas in Wine Country” has the location right up there in the title.

    In terms of where I do my writing, I’m not too choosy. With three little kids I basically take whatever chance I get. I’ve jotted down notes, ideas and scraps of dialogue on the backs of envelopes or preschool enrolment forms, made voice recordings on my iPhone while sitting in the grocery store parking lot. And, yes, sometimes I sit down in the midst of an insanely cluttered kitchen table, ignoring all dishes and unpaid bills, and catch some uninterrupted time with my laptop to actually write. But I’m not picky.

    4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    I love my main character, Lila, because I feel like we’ve all been there. She’s in the late-20s phase when you think you should have everything figured out but don’t because, let’s face it, no one really does at that point. You think you’re old and wise but really you’re young and silly. I love that over the course of the year she’s able to loosen up, have some fun and, of course, fall in love. And I enjoy the scene when she stands in front of the refrigerator and makes an ice cream sundae in her mouth.

    5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    I remember the worst piece of advice—never use the verb“to be.” Ever. It imposed this ridiculous straightjacket on my writing and for the class I was taking with this particular teacher I came up with all sorts of ill-fitting, inappropriate verbal calisthenics to avoid little old “to be.”

    Best advice – I suppose to revise and then revise again. And don’t take harsh criticism personally. Still working on that

    6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
    I wrote this novel largely during my kids’ nap time, so 1pm-3pm (oldest is in elementary school). Then my middle child stopped napping and all hell broke loose. I’m still trying to get back into a schedule instead of writing on scraps of paper in the minivan while I wait for my kids to finish their activities/classes/sports, etc.

    7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
    PLOTTER. The mere suggestion of winging it gives me a twitch. I’m super type A, though somehow thought of myself as an artsy creative type until my late 20s. Go figure.

    8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
    Oh goodness I’ve been on a rather dreary diet of parenting books lately. I’m reading a lot about brain development. Not that sexy, is it? And the most recent novel I read I really ended up not liking so I don’t want to say something negative. I always love re-reading Pride and Prejudice!!!! And Kristan Higgans’ novels make me laugh.

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m so excited about my new novel. It’s about four friends 15 years out of college. The central character is one of the two without children. She started out all ablaze about social justice and wanting to Fight the Power. 15 years into it she’s in a pointless bureaucratic job, out of a failed relationship, and tucking into pints of ice cream and glasses of red wine each
    night as she obsessively visits her ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page… I’m laughing as I re-read this description because it sounds so depressing, but I’m LOVING the maudlin nature of it all. Especially with all the exciting and romantic life-changing events I have cooked up for her. So excited to tell this one!

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
    Write what you love not what you think you should. Get lots of feedback but don’t feel obliged to do whatever anyone tells you. And keep at it!

    You can find Addison at:
    twitter: @AddisonWestlake

    Christmas in Wine Country - Cover

    Addison Westlake
    11/26/2012 03:14:24 pm

    Thank you so much for the Q&A, Monique!
    I’m excited that “Christmas in Wine Country” reached #13 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” today in both the Humor and Women’s Fiction-Single Women categories!
    Go lucky #13!