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  • Blog

    Today I interview myself about my writing life

    3/26/2019

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose
    Today I thought I’d ask myself the Top 5 questions I get asked about my writing life.
    Something to Savour - Jewel Sisters Series - Monique McDonell - Cover
    1. How’s your writing going?
    This is the question people who know I write but don’t really know about the details ask. It’s the most common question I get.

    It’s going fine. I have another book out next month and my last release was okay although I didn’t promote it properly. It was a novella and I don’t think people really want novellas from me. My January release No Time For Temptation went well and readers are giving it great reviews which makes me happy.

    2. When is the next book out?
    This is the question from my friends who read and love my books.
    Girlfriend, I’m doing my best here. It takes a lot longer to write a book than read a book you know. I’m working really hard here and but you’ll have books in April, May, June so don’t panic. There will be lots to read. I do really appreciate that you love my books and your support makes me cry all the happy tears.

    3. Can I get it in paperback?
    Asked by lots of non e-reading friends.

    You know I used to do paperbacks and they just don’t sell unless you have a book launch or a signing but I have No Time For Temptation in paperback and it will be live on Amazon soon. I’m also ordering duets of the Upper Crust series soon, I promise.

     

     

    Here’s an example!

    Upper Crust Series Any Way You Slice It and Any Way You Dream It - Paperback Duet Example

     

    4. How do you write so fast?
    This is usually asked by other authors who don’t write as quickly as I do.

    Firstly, I have had years of practice at being quick at turning work around in my day job where I’ve basically written all day for a living. Secondly, I’m not bad at time management in general so I’m really good at using 15 minute increments to get stuff done – a Facebook post, some emails, or some behind the scenes activity. Thirdly, I know my best times of day for creativity and it’s good to work these out for yourself. (Mine are 10am -12noon , 2-4pm, and 5-6.30pm) If I can get two one hour blocks in these times I can get 2-3,000 words of a draft done. I try and do a minimum of 1,000 words a day. That adds up. Fourthly, by writing every day I can dive straight back in where I left off which saves time and backtracking. Finally, i enjoy writing (editing and promoting not so much) but I do it because I like it and that makes it easier.

    There is no correct pace to write at. It depends on a lot of things. I like to release regularly because as an indie romance author that helps me with sales, visibility and the pesky Amazon algorithms. Also I read quickly so I understand that kind of reader who wants to read a series back-to-back. That means I need to write quickly and it’s important to me so I make time for it.

    Also I don’t watch TV hardly at all (except the odd cooking show). I haven’t seen a movie since January 2018 and I don’t play sports or have a time consuming hobby. As does meal preparation (we don’t eat take-away) and planning on the home front. Oh yes, and my house isn’t company ready 95% of the time. You’d be amazed how much time that frees up.

    ​5. How do you come up with your ideas?
    Lots of people ask this.

    Ideas are not an issue for me. I have books planned out and so many things I’d love to write that I’ll never get to. The characters appear before me and then I want to tell their stories. Picking the right stories in the right order is the challenge for me as is deciding what people would like to read. I’ll have a plan and then get distracted by shiny new things. Staying focused is the challenge.

    ​If you have any question please feel free to ask me in the comments below.

  • Blog

    Welcome to 2017 – may it be full of books and laughter

    12/31/2016

    Fall in Love with the Upper Crust Series Banner - Original Covers

    Any Way You Want It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverWelcome readers to the new year.

    I for one am very happy to be kissing 2016 good-bye. I usually do a little recap of the year that was but this year I’m moving on and looking ahead rather than looking back.

    Not that I’m not proud of what I managed to accomplish in 2016 but it didn’t feel like much. A lot of two steps back and one step forward. I will say that I was particularly pleased with the finished novella Snowbound, A Chicklit Christmas Novella and if you haven’t yet read it and you enjoy my books I urge you to get a copy for a fun read.

    I’m very happy to announce that Any Way You Want It, the fifth book in the Upper Crust Series is out this week. I love this book because I adore the main characters. Chloe and Moose have both appeared in previous books as minor characters and now they get their own story which I just loved writing. I think Moose might be my best book-boyfriend yet which is no small call and especially hard for a character called Moose to pull off.

    I have a Valentine’s Day novella I’m hoping to release in February and then the final book in the Upper Crust Series, for now anyway.

    After that we’ll see. I have another series started and a couple of stand-alone novels so we’ll just have to see what speaks to me. (If you have any thoughts on that, let me know). Either way the next batch of books are set back in Australia although they have strong American connections.

    That’s it, for now, Any Way You Slice It I hope 2017 is a good year for all of us.

  • Blog

    Sometimes taking your own advice is the best advice of all

    10/31/2015

    Writing Laptop and NotebookI’ve been at this writing game a while now and I’ve managed to get a book or two published. In order to do that you have to learn a few lessons along the way, even if you’re a really slow learner you publish eight books and you will learn a thing or two.

    (Some of the things you learn are more about yourself and your temperament than anything else, maybe those are the hardest lessons of all.)

    As a result of hanging in there so long people do sometimes ask for my advice on all manner of things from how I structure my time, how do I get my ideas, how do I manage my social media…lots of different things about the writing life…and I try and give practical answers.

    There’s a lot of aery fairy information out there that isn’t super helpful. Telling someone to find their muse for example, what does that even mean? And where should they look for her? And when they find her, then what, do you offer her a warm beverage?

    I try to give people more practical advice for while I have the soul of a fairy godmother and would love everyone to be able to make three wishes and have them come true, in life I’m a fairly practical soul. My advice is practical usually and actionable.

    People often respond with “Oh that’s such a great idea!” so I figure some of what I tell them is useful.

    I woke up this morning with a lot of things to do and realised that I probably haven’t been taking my own advice all that much in the latter half of October. Now I’m in a pickle I could have avoided. Don’t you HATE that? I know what to do.

    Here’s an example. When people ask what is the most important thing about social media I always tell them, be consistent. Yet have I written a blog post in the last 10 days? No. My blog posts load across the social media platforms so I get many bites at the cherry for one task…I explain this to people several times a week…yet I have ignored my own advice.

    I’ve had two books on promotion this week. Did I send a mail out to my subscribers? No I did not.

    You get the idea. I know this stuff, I tell other people to do it and I haven’t done it.

    There a couple of reasons – well maybe lame excuses for this – one being I always forget that I feel a bit flat the week of so after I launch a book…the truth is unless your book goes gang-busters this is pretty common. It’s a huge deal to write a book, get it edited and formatted and published. Doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally published or indie – that’s a whole lot of work. The number of people who tell you how happy for you is high, the number who buy your book or leave you a review is way lower and that always stings a little. It can take a few days to shake that off.

    The real reason I haven’t done all the things I meant to was I didn’t have an up to date to-do list. And there’s no excuse for that. The truth is without a list stuff gets forgotten or shoved aside and things just don’t happen. I know this. I’ve essentially worked alone running a small business for fifteen years. It’s not rocket science.

    There are lots of great programs and apps you can do all this organisation on but I like the feeling of crossing that line of chicken scrawl off in my notebook. (I do use the apps as well).

    So here’s my advice…follow your own advice, sometimes that’s the best advice of all.

    And as part of my blog tour for Any Way You Slice It – I’m running a competition to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Please enter below.

  • Blog

    Bag a bargain from the Upper Crust Series

    10/17/2015

    Monique McDonell Upper Crust Series Banner
    It’s release week for Any Way You Fight It book 3 in my Upper Crust series.

    It is always fun releasing a new book and you hope people enjoy it and support the book. To get you hooked, if you’re not already here are a couple of incentives.

    Any Way You Slice It, the novella that started it all is #free. Download it for a fun, fast read.

    Any Way You Slice It - Upper Crust Novel - Monique McDonell - Original Cover

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As a further teaser Any Way You Dream It is just #99cents. That’s a bargain. Books 1 and 2 for a grand total of #99cents.
    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original Cover

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The easiest way to get them all in one place is to swing by my Amazon Author Page.

  • Blog

    Release time for Any Way You Fight It

    10/14/2015

    Any Way You Fight It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original Cover
    Available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016LLTVJ2
    Finally it is release day for my latest novel in the Upper Crust Series – Any Way You Fight It.
    I’m so excited that this book is finally out there and available for readers. I really enjoyed writing this novel and I love the character of Cherie who was so supportive of her friends in Any Way You Slice It and Any Way You Dream It.
    This is a story about second chances and letting yourself take them. I hope you take a chance on this novel.

    It is available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016LLTVJ2
    And to celebrate the release Any Way You Dream It is only 99cents so grab a copy while you’re at it.

    Any Way You Fight It – Blurb
    Matchmaking came easily for Cherie . . . unless she was matching herself. A successful realtor, Cherie could sell a piece of property with ease, she could match up her friends with their perfect mates, but she couldn’t seem to find love for herself. Heck, even her seventy-five-year-old Nona was dating again! Cherie had the perfect love once, or so she had thought. But that was a long time ago, and yet, Luke was the standard by which she measured all potential mates.
    After matching her two best friends and watching them live their happily ever afters, Cherie decides it’s time to make a change and get back in the game. Now all she needs to do is balance what she wants (a Luke-alike) with the demands of her crazy Italian family (a good, Catholic Italian boy).
    Just when she is ready to shake off her past and move forward, her past walks through the door of her favorite local pub with her best friends. Luke is back, looks better than ever, and still has eyes for Cherie. And Cherie can’t control the heat she still has for him. But as with most long-lost loves, he has a past as well, and that past just might prevent Cherie from finding her happiness despite what her Nona’s visions predict.
    Can Cherie and Luke make peace with their pasts and look forward to a new life together? Or will this be the final good-bye?

    Extract from Any Way You Fight It
    “Right—I’m going to give you the abridged version.”
    “I’ll take whatever you offer,” she said.
    “Well, when I was eighteen I had a romance, I suppose you’d call it.”
    “Yeah if this was eighteenth-century England.”
    “Whatever,” I sighed. “And it was a secret. He knew, I knew, and one friend.”
    “No family?”
    “Nope, he wasn’t Italian, and I just didn’t want them stalking me and ruining everything.”
    “Makes sense. I never had that kind of family. I could have dated an axe murderer and my mom would have been happy I had a man, but I can see your situation was different.”
    “Yeah, so we had this lovely summer fling. And then he dumped me.”
    “Ouch.”
    “Yeah, and he just left and didn’t say good-bye.”
    “That’s low.”
    “Yeah, it was. And it hurt and probably more so because no one knew so I had to act all normal and I couldn’t discuss it with anyone.”
    “So, you’ve never talked about it?” Her eyes popped wide.
    “I never have.” I took a fortifying sip of beer. “The thing is I date, I flirt, but I haven’t really met anyone who made me feel like that guy did.”
    “Wow. That’s a long time between boyfriends.”
    “Yeah, I went out with a couple of nice guys in college, one for almost a year, but that spark or whatever wasn’t there. And because of my parents’ whole ‘you can’t end up with someone who isn’t Italian’ attitude and because I haven’t met any Italian guys who lit that flame . . .”
    “You’ve stayed single . . .”
    “Exactly.” I sighed.
    “But now you’re ready to move forward, why is that? I mean I know that was big for you to tell me, but you didn’t tell me anything Piper couldn’t have handled.”
    “There’s more . . .”
    “Oh goody!” She clapped her hands.
    “Calm down, Glinda the Good Witch. This is hard for me.”
    “Sorry, but what’s changed? Is it because Piper and I have found someone?”
    “I think partly, but a couple other triggers have hit as well.”
    “I think we need fries for this part?” she asked, waving down the waiter. “Okay continue.”
    “First, although it didn’t happen first, my mother has waived the Italian rule. Apparently having a single thirty-year-old daughter who isn’t producing offspring means she has to compromise, so I’m allowed to date non-Italians now.”
    “That’s pretty huge for her.”
    “Yeah and for me. The thing is part of me is really resentful about it. I’m happy but I’m also thinking—now, why now? Why not ten years ago, five? All these years . . .”
    “That makes sense.” The fries landed and we each took one and blew it. We had years of experience and neither of us was stupid enough to burn our tongues now. I squirted ketchup in the corner of the basket. We liked to dunk or scrape our fries through not smother them. “On the other hand, better now than never.”
    “I know.”
    “So that’s good news for moving forward.” She snapped her fry and popped half in her mouth. “So, what was the other thing?”
    “I saw him again.”
    “Him? The guy from way back when?”
    I nodded. “The guy.”
    “Wow. Where? When? Who?”
    “Here. Last week. Luke.”

    “Holy shit, Cherie. Luke?” Lucy’s eyes were bugging out of their sockets.
    “Yep, holy shit.”
    “You dated Luke? He dumped you and then he walked in to this very bar years later?”
    “Yes.”
    “And we made you guys hang?”
    “Yes.”
    “And how was that?”
    “It was freaking weird.” That was an understatement.
    “He’s very hot; I can see why you had a fling with him. You have excellent taste.”
    “Thanks, I think.”
    “So, did you find out why he dumped you?”
    “I didn’t ask. It doesn’t matter. It’s old news. Seeing him again just proved to me it is time to get on with my life. It’s time to take a chance again, and now that I can date beyond the Italian-American community, I can find myself a Luke-alike.”
    “A what?”
    “A Luke-alike. A guy like Luke.”
    “Why can’t you just date the real Luke?”
    It did seem like an obvious solution but the real Luke was in love with his dead fiancée. I didn’t need to go into that.
    “The real Luke lives in New York and is emotionally unavailable. But I will admit he is hot, and apparently that kind of hot is my kind of hot.”
    “So you want my help to find you a Luke-alike?” she asked, finally putting the pieces to the puzzle together.
    “Chase must know tons of blond, buff babes who could maybe like me.”
    “Babe, anyone who doesn’t like you is an idiot. Have you seen yourself? You are gorgeous. And now you’re gorgeous and open to possibilities.”
    “I guess.”
    She clapped her hands again. “This is going to be so fun. Now I get to be the matchmaker.”
    I wasn’t sure how Lucy’s matchmaking skills were to be honest, but she was all I had. It did feel better to have told someone.

  • Blog

    Why new characters are like new friends (and Musical Monday)

    6/14/2015

    Why I enjoy starting a new project
    Any Way You Slice It - Upper Crust Novel - Monique McDonell - Original CoverI’ve been busy this month working on a #50k30D challenge.(That means I need to write 50,000 words in June).

    That’s a lot of writer’s idea of a nightmare. The pressure is too much and they don’t like that feeling of being under the gun. I guess I’m not like that. I kind of love it actually.

    For me writing a new book meets creating new characters – or as I like to call it – making new friends. I love and miss some of my characters from my stand alone books – Allegra will always be one of my favourite people as will Cassie from Hearts Afire and I really can’t speak highly enough of Matt from A Fair Exchange of Harvey from Alphabet Dating. (I’m not a total nutter I do know they’re not real people.) Still I like meeting new characters too.

    The Upper Crust Series allows me to check up on the characters from other books in the series as I write them so it’s the best of both worlds. I’m writing about Todd and Sarah in Book six just now. Todd was in Book 2 and features heavily in book 4 as well. Marissa from Book 4 and Chloe from Book 5 also appear quite a bit, see old friends with the new.

    One of the reasons I like writing a book in a month (albeit a rough first draft) is because you have to be with those characters every day so you really get to know them. What they like to eat, what clothing they wear, what makes them laugh or cry – I know this because I’m spending so much time with them.

    It’s like being on a summer camp or a European bus trip with them. We bond fast and we share our secrets by the campfire or over some chianti and at the end of the month we walk away wondering if we really should have shared all that. I love it.

    I enjoy the newness and the discovery of it all and of course the sense of achievement when I write a scene I’m happy with or hit a goal. Writing can be lonely and soul-destroying so you need those things to spur you on, well I certainly do. Some of the secrets I’m told by the characters will never make the page and others will be edited out down the track but for right now, I’m enjoying just knowing them.

    And because it is Monday we need some music. This is one of my favourite songs at the moment. I love the retro 80’s style video and the energy of the song. I like dancing to it in my car, and it give me permission to say “shut up” which I usually just don’t do.

    Here’s a funky acapella version. This is how I sound in my imagination – which of course is the beauty of having a good imagination – imaginary friends and talents.

  • Blog

    How can it be June and other questions for the universe?

    6/3/2015

    Time flies whether you’re having fun or not, right?

    Miss Chick Lit Winner
    It feels like this is one of those blink and you miss it years. One minute it was mid may and then bam we’re into June. (June in Australia means winter and I am SOOOOOOOO not a fan of winter, hence the not having fun!)

    May was a busy month with #ChicklitMay, the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the release of Any Way You Dream It. But somehow I feel like I missed that last week entirely. Not sure what’s up with that. It’s a bit like raising a child. I’m sure my daughter is still meant to be ten and not fourteen.

    Anyway, I had that thing I have after the release of every book – a rather counter-intuitive slump. You’d think one would be euphoric but it never quite pans out that way for me. The last two books have had major editing hassles that sucked any joy I might have expected right out of the experience. If I ever manage the energy to send a book to an editor again it will be a personal triumph.

    I think I’m back in the saddle. I’m doing a #50k30D challenge with the Romance Writers of Australia and so far I’m flying along with book 6 in the Upper Crust Series (13,000 words as of half an hour ago). Of course that means book 3 will need to get to an editor (see above paragraph) before the others can follow. I hope to have the whole series out this year. Any Way You Fight It (book 3) will be out in July.

    I’m enjoying writing about this couple. Todd and Sarah have been bouncing around in my head for a while, waiting their turn. Todd and his brother Mike appear in Any Way You Slice It and Mike gets to tell his story in book 4.

    In other news Allegra placed in the Miss ChickLit pageant as Miss Retro Rad and Mr Right and Other Mongrels had it’s third birthday last week. That’s quite a milestone.

    Lots of guest posts and giveaways this month so make sure you keep stopping by the blog. Or sign up for my newsletter for more chances to win.

  • Blog

    We are all busy so you can stop telling everyone now!

    4/13/2015

    Any Way You Slice It Mug and BookWHY ANNOUNCING HOW BUSY YOU ARE IS REDUNDANT
    I started this blog post and I was going to write about the ways in which routine, especially for a writer, can help counter all the busy in our lives but then my mind wandered off.
    ***

    I know we all spend a lot of time these days telling each other how busy we are.

    In fact, if I one more person tells me how busy they are I may scream. Not because they’re not busy but because the truth is most people are busy. (I might even be busy…maybe, probably not, but maybe…)

    If you have a job, elderly parents, kids, a partner, friends, you volunteer, you play a sport, you cook, you go the the gym, you have a hobby, you’re in a bookclub or any combination of those things you are more than likely busy. So I think that pretty much covers most people. We’re all busy.

    (There are also different types of busy – good, happy, I’m planning to climb Everest busy is not the same as bad, scary, I think I’m losing my job and my kid is sick busy. The first is exciting and invigorating and really you shouldn’t complain. The second type is not what I’m talking about here AT ALL. The first is made up of adrenalin and interesting choices and the second is a hard slog where you need to reach out for support because you need some of the other busy people to make some time and help you even if they have to skip bookclub or a yoga class.)

    There are definitely times some people are more busy than others – five kids under five and you are busy, finding elder care for parents and you’re busy, a major work event the week before Christmas and you are busy – all those things at once and well, you’re crazy busy.

    Some people however are always busy and often so busy telling you that, they barely have time to stop and ask you about your life.

    So when I say “please don’t tell me you’re bus”y I mean the day to day life stuff that we all have it’s just life. It’s the life you’ve chosen to have.

    When you tell someone “I’m so busy” you’re really saying. “I’m very important.”

    Or when you say “I’m too busy to volunteer/read a book/join a gym” , which no doubt your companion has just announced that they do, well, what you are really saying is either:

    a) I’m busy doing things that are important to me and that thing you do has little or no value to me (or less value than the things I choose to do). (And that is actually fine…I would rather read than go to a gym any day…busy or not…and I know loads of people who are the opposite.)
    or
    b) I really feel bad I’m not doing that thing, I would kind of like to, so I’ll put the fact that you are doing it down.

    “I’m so busy” as an excuse every time you see someone makes them feel like they should thank you for finding time for them. It also seems to impy you think they aren’t busy. They may in fact just juggle things better, or not tell you about the many things on their plate because you’re too busy to listen, return a phone call or heck even meet up.

    You know that expression “If you want something done give it to a busy person?” Chances are someone with far more on their plate than you has the time to do that thing you can’t. Just don’t tell them how busy you are as the reason you can’t do it.

    ***
    My post on the power of routine will appear later in the week.

  • Blog

    #ChickLitLove and the Fairytale synopsis

    2/11/2015

    #ChickLitLove 2015 promo
    The gorgeous gals that run #Chicklitchat a Facebook group and twitter hashtag I follow (although beware the hashtag now does have lots of ads for teenage phone sex like the rest of the twittersphere) are running a fairytale themed week for Valentine’s Day.

    Now if you follow my Facebook page you know my week has been utterly craptastic but last night I lay in bed and planned my blog post for the #ChicklitChat only to wake up and realise I GOT IT WRONG (it is that kind of week). I was supposed to re-fashion a fairy tale as a chicklit book synopsis, instead I wrote the synopsis of my most recent book as a fairy tale – so here it is.

    A Fairytale Synopsis for Any Way You Slice It, An Upper Crust Novella
    Piper, a lowly baker, follows an unworthy cad to a new Kingdom, for love but instead builds a life for herself selling pies. However, she cannot stay in the Kingdom and enjoy good fortune with her business without a husband, such are the rules of the land. Without a husband she must return home.

    She confides in her friend, Cherie, a part-time matchmaker, that she needs a suitor and Cherie suggests her own cousin, Aaron, a wealthy and respected law-maker who needs a partner to advance his station in life.

    They meet and sparks fly. Why must her suitor be so prince-like and gallant? His flirting and his attempts to win her affections make it hard to remember that this is to be just a contract, nothing more. While resisting his advances she must convince all their colleagues, her future mother-in-law and his persistent ex-girlfriend that this is a true love match.

    When he takes her on an opulent journey, to a glamorous city showing her a life the likes of which she could never have imagined, she must decide what she is willing to risk for love. Will Piper and Aaron get their happily ever after or will theirs merely be a contract of marriage.

    Read Any Way You Slice It, An Upper Crust Novella to find out.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MXFOMD6

    Any Way You Slice It - Upper Crust Novel - Monique McDonell - Original Cover

  • 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