• Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

    Weekly Blog Challenge – Characters who remind me of myself

    Given the topic of this week’s blog challenge I guess I should say  The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because yet again, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.” Except I’m actually very punctual in real life so that doesn’t work.

    I’d say in this case maybe I should channel a charcter who isn’t a quitter instead.

    This is actually a tricky topic for me. I love so many characters in books but I don’t necessarily think they remind me of me. I mean I used to want to be like Jo March from Little Women becasue she was a writer but she also was a fish out of water and kind of a non-conformist which I am too. She didn’t marry the man everyone expected her too in the end and neither did I and we’re both fiecely loyal but I don’t know if she reminds me of me.

    I rather fancy myself as a bit of a Pippi Longstocking. She had a crazy imagination, red hair and freckles and again was a non-conformist.

    Here’s one of my favourite quotes from her story:

    The children came to a perfume shop. In the show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?

    ‘What does the sign say?’ asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

    It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’ said Annika.

    ‘Does it indeed?’ said Pippi thoughtfully. ‘Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.’

    She opened the door an”d entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. ‘No!’ she said decidedly.

    ‘What is it you want?’ asked the lady.

    ‘No,’ said Pippi once more.

    ‘I don’t understand what you mean,’ said the lady.

    ‘No, I don’t suffer from freckles,’ said Pippi.

    Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, ‘But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!’

    ‘I know that,’ said Pippi, ‘but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.’

    She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, ‘But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.’

    Unlike Pippi, I would have probably been hurt and angry rather than defiant in that situation but I love that energy. I loved all of Astrid Lingred’s books as a child but Pippi most of all.

    When my bookclub and I read the Time Travellers Wife, which I loved but remains one of our biggest room-dividers after 13 years, I complained about Claire being a bit of a doormat. My friends all informed me that I was Claire. My husband ‘s job met he dropped in and out of our home-life on a whim and I had little to no control of that which sent the rest of our lives in a constant spin. I wasn’t flattered and it definitely didn’t make me very Pippi-like.

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Mr Right and Other Mongrelas

    In my own books many people have told me that when reading my first book Mr Right and Other Mongrels it was like talking to me, I like to think that was meant to be a compliment but who knows. Allegra the main character did share my dog phobia so there’s that.

    This was a hard one. Pop over to Long and Short Reviews to see what everyone else wrote this week.

    (Please note this blog contains affiliate links).







  • Blog

    #ChickLitMay Book Boyfriend Blog Hop


    ChickLitMay Book Boyfriend BLog Hop 2017
    Any Way You Want It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverMy name is Moose well not really but all friends call me Moose and I can see we’re going to be friends. Everyone calls me Moose because I’m from Maine and I’m a big (my mother uses the term strapping) guy with a an exuberant personality.

    It’s possible I have more than a touch of ADHD but don’t hold that against me because that just means I have a lot of energy and I don’t sleep much. I spend the hours other people spend sleeping working out (I’m told the ladies like a man with a six pack) and thinking of ways to make the people in my life happy. I’m full of ideas and I love to execute them, I’m actually a pretty smart guy.

    I grew up in a ski resort and I work for my parent’s in their chain of hotels. I’m an only child which has just taught me how to get on well with others, make friends and make them smile.

    I love women. Not in a creepy way. I think they’re beautiful, amazing creatures. They say interesting things, they smell divine and like me, they love to dance. So if you like dancing I’m your guy.

    Really, what I’m looking for is one special girl and I think I’ve spotted one, her name is Chloe and she runs an ice-cream parlour. I’m a businessman and think what she needs to grow her business is a really awesome coffee machine so I just went and bought her one of those crazy expensive brass ones. Is that too much?

    That’s who I am though. I’m all in. I think that’s a good quality, I hope she does.

    What makes me a good book boyfriend (this is the shameless plug for myself) – I’m all in, I like to dance, I’m in very good shape, I’m kind of loaded but I must tell you I’m really looking for someone that doesn’t matter too and I go out of my way to make the lady in my life feel special. (Oh yeah and is this is a pageant of some sort I feel obligated to say “I want World Peace. You can add watching rom coms to my list of qualities.)

    HOW TO VOTE: If you want to vote for Moose to win the Book Boyfriend Blog Hop:
    Email Tracie at traciebanister@gmail.com and say I VOTE FOR MOOSE in the subject line (I really want to win I’m kind of competitive, and I really want you to win too). By doing that you are entered to win the grand prize!!!!

    P.S – Monique who runs this awesome website (a great person by the way) wanted to share a photo of me but I said no. Not because I’m shy, but because I like a woman with a good imagination. I’m pretty sure you’re imagining me right now.

    Buy Any Way You Want It

    Book Boyfriend Blog Hop Giveaway Promo
    Tracie Banister
    Becky Monson  
    Hilary Grossman
    Glynis Astie
    Jayne Denker 
    Jennie Marts 
    Barbara Valentin
    Beth Labonte 
    Victoria Cooke 
     Holly Kerr
    Meredith Schorr
    Stacey Wiedower
    Laurie Baxter
    Jennifer Farwell 
    Natalina Reis 
    Celia Kennedy
    Beth Carter
    Ellyn Oaksmith 
    BJ Knapp
    Lizzie Lamb  
    Sylvia Ashby
    Karen M. Cox 
    Lindsay Detwiler
    Kirsty McManus 
    Melissa Baldwin 
    Geralyn Corcillo 
    Cassandra O’Leary 
    Cat Lavoie
    Kate O’Keeffe 
    Monique McDonell 



    Geralyn Corcillo
    5/14/2017 11:37:39 am

    I love Moose! I adore every one of the guys in The Upper Crust Series! For a wonderful supply of yummy book boyfriends, Monique McDonell does NOT disappoint!

    Cat Lavoie
    5/14/2017 06:44:35 pm

    Loves to dance? I’m sold! Vote for Moose! 🙂

    5/15/2017 01:00:49 am

    Who can resist a dancer 😉

    5/15/2017 03:44:54 am

    A dancer with a six-pack. What’s not to love? 🙂

    Meredith Schorr
    5/15/2017 09:17:54 am

    I love this guy. He’s confident without being overly cocky. And he can dance 🙂

    5/15/2017 12:50:55 pm

    I love Moose💖🍵🍧💖

    Karen M Cox
    5/15/2017 01:40:53 pm

    Moose *raises hand* Um – I like to dance 🙂

    Jennifer Farwell
    5/15/2017 06:15:51 pm

    Watches rom coms and has a six-pack? Hi, Moose!

    Beth Carter
    5/16/2017 08:11:46 am

    I love the name Moose!!! He sounds like a sweet guy.
    Monique McDonell
    5/16/2017 03:23:17 pm

    Thanks everyone, Moose wants you to know he appreciates all the positive feedback. He’s dancing with happiness right now, in between sit ups.

    Ann Attwood
    5/17/2017 05:14:17 am

    I love Moose

    Clarissa boggs
    5/17/2017 05:21:01 am

    Voted for Moose, good luck
    Monique McDonell
    5/18/2017 01:08:15 am

    Thanks everyone. Moose and I appreciate it!!

  • Blog

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


    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

    What’s in a name?


    Words in Question Mark ShapeHave you ever watched the Bold and The Beautiful, you know the soap opera? Here is a list of the names of some of the main characters:

    * Thorn,

    * Brick

    * Brooke

    * Ridge

    Have you ever met a 50 year old man called Brick? Thorn? No me either. I’ve long postulated that the show’s creators went away for the weekend, took some nice drugs and came up with the wackiest names they could, thought themselves hilarious and expected that the show would never be made or they would be told to change the names to Mike, Stacey and Alexander.

    My point is ignoring the fact it’s a soap opera and is pure fantasy I think ridiculous names for characters take you out of the story. (“Make love to me Brick?” Sorry he can’t he’s an inanimate object…Ok I think the point is clear.)

    It’s true that now people do have names that are unusual but most of those people are aged under twenty. Even people in their twenties tend to have more traditional names. They have family names or names that have been popular for years. You know they’re called Ben, Adam, Isabella, Chloe or something with Biblical origins like Noah or Mary or Jacob. That’s why in your class at school the teacher struggled to come up with so many nicknames for Elizabeth and why one got Beth, another Liz and another Lizzie and why there was a Mark A and Mark S in your math class.

    It’s a fairly recent phenomenon to name your kid after a car part (Hi Axel), a pop star (Hi Marley, Hey Shakira), or another famous person (Hey Kennedy, Hey Regan), where they were conceived (Come on down Sienna) or a fruit (Apple). Although being named after other plants is a long tradition – Poppy, Fern, Rose, Sage – so I’m not sure why fruits were exempt for so long.

    It isn’t that this isn’t a positive evolution but it is recent so having a thirty five year old male character from a conservative, suburban family called Pistol just doesn’t ring true.

    I’m thinking about this as I start a new novella and am naming the characters. I don’t want to give them dull names that make them pedestrian but I also want the names to have resonance. It’s hard to find a balance between distinctive and just plain silly.

    So here’s my question what are the silliest character names you’ve read in a book lately?

  • Blog

    The major importance of minor characters

    Alphabet Dating CoverI’ve written about my love of minor characters before because I often find them to be some of the0 most interesting people in books.

    Of course their role is often to operate as sounding boards or opportunities for the main character to let the reader know how they feel – tell the best friend and tell the reader at the same time – or even as a way to get independent information about the main players – hello two old women gossiping in the hairdresser about the main character.

    In my own writing I love the minor characters. My books are riddled with friends, relatives and colleagues of the protagonists. I enjoy creating people who I would like to have in my own life and I especially enjoy writing those fun characters that it’s good to spend a few pages with but I wouldn’t want around for Christmas dinner each year.

    My most recent novel Alphabet Dating features many male characters who only show up for one date – to play gold, see a movie or maybe take in an art gallery.

    I don’t enjoy books where the characters seem to have existed in a bubble before page one. Everyone has connections in their life, positive or negative, that impact who they are and how they react – a weird neighbour, an office nemesis or a best friend.

    Maybe its like real life where I don’t like to imagine anyone sitting alone on their birthday I like characters who have full lives. I don’t mind if they’re running away from the mob, falling in love or facing the zombie apocalypse I would like to think someone was worrying about how it turned out for them.

    What about you? How important are minor characters to you in fiction?

    Alphabet Dating is available on Amazon


    Mark Henwick
    6/10/2013 05:19:30 pm

    I don’t like to think of them as minor characters unless they genuinely have a walk on-walk off part. At least some of the secondary characters must have the flavour of major characters. It gives depth and can be useful to keep the reader guessing where the story is going. It’s also vital in most series to have strong secondary characters that give continuity and provide some of the incentive to keep reading.

    6/10/2013 07:28:42 pm

    I love minor characters too – both when reading and writing. Seeing how a character treats others and what their friends are like really helps us to get to know them.
    6/11/2013 06:01:36 pm

    I agree with you Mark. Secondary characters is a better name :)Though wouldn’t have worked for my heading!)

    I agree Patsy seeing characters through each other’s eyes does give you insight into them.


  • Blog

    Taste of Tuesday – with Serena form Alphabet Dating


    Alphabet Dating CoverToday I thought I’d do a twist on my usual Taste of Tuesday feature and interview Serena the main character in Alphabet Dating which will be out next week!
    First of all Serena please tell us a little bit about yourself:
    Ok, Monique. I’m an ex-pat Australian living in New York. I work as a book reviewer though I am also writing my own novel, very slowly. I also have a crazy bunch of friends who came up with a hair-brained scheme they called The Alphabet Dating Plan. It means I have to go on 26 dates in one month, one for every letter of the alphabet!

    1. Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods (i.e. cheese or chocolate)?
    Oh definitely savoury! I mean I won’t say no to a Tim Tam but give me a cheese plate any day.

    2. Red wine or white? (Wine obviously)
    Actually I rather like a nice French champagne.

    3. Do you have a favourite food memory?
    My family and I have lived all over the world so I have lots of amazing food memories but after I had a car accident a few years back I have developed an obsession with soups. I find them nurturing and so comforting.

    4. Does food feature in your novel(s)?
    Food features quite a bit in Alphabet Dating. It’s hard to go on so many dates and not eat! There’s also my obsession with soups and a Thanksgiving feast in the book so plenty for the food lovers.

    5. What recipe are you sharing with us and why?

    I’m sharing a recipe for Carrot Soup. It’s super simple, inexpensive and very yummy.

    Carrot Soup
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 onion diced
    3 rashers of bacon, diced
    1 teaspoon of dill.
    500g carrots, peeled and sliced
    250ml chicken stock or veggie
    100ml cream

    1. Melt butter in saucepan and soften onion slowly.
    2. Add bacon and stir till just cooked.
    3. Add carrots, dill, s &p.
    4. Add stock to cover carrots (if not quite enough add some water). Simmer until carrots soften.
    5. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender.
    6. Stir through cream.
    7. Enjoy!

    Alphabet Dating will be out soon

  • Blog

    Get back on the page characters…stay in the story.


    Writing a book has some pretty clear phases for me anyway…the first euphoric phase of NaNoWriMo has passed me by now. I’m at 15,000 odd words and the easy bits I planned are already on the page.

    Now I’m in that phase where I have to work a bit harder to keep the story moving forward so that the characters don’t wander off in all directions. A bit of wandering is fine but this book has three main characters and it’s probably best they all stay in the same story or I’ll be in a bit of a mess at the end of the book.

    I want to shout at them “Get back on the page. Stay in the story.”

    I don’t know how my crowd

    So while I’m busy doing that, here is a song by Travis – Writing to Reach You for a sunny Monday.

  • Blog

    Get back on the page characters…stay in the story.


    Hearts Afire Helmet
    Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and it’s one of the significant ones that ends in a zero. We’ve known each other just over twenty years. So one of our first dates was spent celebrating a different birthday ending in a zero.

    That was a romantic and very fun evening, if I recall and I do.

    Tomorrow morning we’re going out to breakfast, as a family, because he has to work tomorrow night. I suppose that’s romantic in it’s own way…but you know, not the same way. (We do have other things planned on the weekend as well.)

    This got me What constitutes romance for people in real life – not in books? Some people find a man ironing very romantic, other people like flowers and candlelight, other people find making plans to renovate romantic.

    Of course romance evolves…If someone brings you flowers every Friday for fifteen years that might be kind of unromantic. It requires no imagination to walk past the same shop on the way home and get flowers every Friday, it’s a habit. (Not that those flowers wouldn’t be lovely but that’s not that romantic in my opinion…then again it doesn’t happen to me, maybe if it did I’d find it deeply touching.)

    I think romance is all about thoughtfulness, myself. Doing the extra thing or the thoughtful thing and making the extra effort. It’s doing that special something that will make the person you love smile not because you have to, or because it’s expected but because you want to.

    So what sorts of things do you think constitute romantic gestures? Have you got great stories of things that happened to you or a friend? I’d love to hear them.

  • Blog

    Pollyanna syndrome – or why conflict avoidance isn’t good for the writing


    Girl Holding Books IllustrationOne of the great things about going to a writing conference such as the Romance Writers of Australia Conference I attended on the weekend is that you get to go to some really wonderful workshops.

    You have the opportunity to look at the craft of writing and how you structure your writing, your time and stories. A bit like choosing from a menu sometimes after you’ve chosen you reflect and wish you’d ordered the chicken and not the steak. At this conference for the first time ever I think, every workshop I went to was spot on for me and wheere I’m at right now. I did indeed order correctly! (If I could only apply the same strategy in choosing the right check-out at the supermarket my life would be almost perfect.)

    So since Saturday when I went to my first workshop I’ve been thinking hard about books I’ve written and books that need editing and revisions and how I can apply all that I gleaned to my writing.

    Somehow, despite there not being a workshop on this topic I decided one of my biggest issues is my Pollyanna complex. In real life I just honestly want everyone to be happy. It’s not a platitude and it’s not that I’m an especially optimistic person. In fact I think part of it is pure selfishness, other people’s misery and sadness seeps into my life and makes me sad.

    I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. When tensions rise I try and smooth them over. If there are people in my life who upset me it’s a rare thing that I will discuss it with them…it’s just not my style. If you’ve met me, you probably know this about me already.

    So what does that have to do with writing? Well when you write a story you need conflict. You need obstacles and secrets and drama and tragedy or it’s not much of a story.

    They all lived happily ever after is a pretty short novel…

    Some people I know say characters who are too happy and too nice are unrealistic but in reality I know lots of happy, kind, well adjusted people who are funny and also have interesting stories to tell. In fact some of the least tortured people I know have the best stories because they embrace life and opportunity and take on challenges with enthusiasm. The truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.

    Because I like my characters I find it painful to put them in painful situations. Some writers love this…I’m sure you could name many…but it goes against my nature, I suppose.

    So now it’s time to get over that in the name of writing. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem…I’ll try to be less nice to my characters…


    Annette Bower
    8/21/2012 02:56:11 am

    I agree Monique. I too have the polyanna syndrome. Hmm, perhaps we both need to learn from the people who upset us and use their strategies.
    8/21/2012 10:06:02 am

    We do…or maybe we can use our writing as revenge to do and say all the things we would never do and say to people in real life!

  • Blog

    Sydney as a character in Mr Right and Other Mongrels


    Sydney Opera House - Vivid
    One of the things I enjoyed in writing Mr Right and Other Mongrels was the opportunity to showcase parts of Sydney not always focussed on in books and movies.

    Everyone recognises this iconic building here (although it does look a bit different lit up for the Vivid Festival) but there are so many other fascinating parts of Sydney.

    Allegra’s bookshop is set in beachside Manly, a suburb very close to where I live. It is a fairly popular tourist spot as well but we tend to forget that people live in tourist spots. They run the shops and restaurants and schools in those places and live in the side-streets and up the small stair-cases we often walk past on our travels.

    I can regularly be found walking the route at Manly that Allegra runs in the novel (I’d like to say I ran it but anyone who knew me and read this would know that was a blatant lie), having a drink at the Manly Wharf Hotel or catching the Ferry across to the city. My family and I also love walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (or biking in the case of my husband and daughter).

    Other places featured in the book include Lavendar Bay, Balmain, the Rocks and Watsons Bay.

    I’ll make an effort to get out and take photos of these places to include on this blog because they are very much a part of the story. They also showcase what a wonderful city Sydney is to live in and visit if you get out and enjoy it.

    Monique Walking in the Rain
    This is me attempting to capture some of Sydney’s Rocks district in the rain on Saturday.


    Karly Lane
    6/4/2012 07:00:53 pm

    Loved recognising some of the locations in this book Monique- Congratulations on such a great read- it put a smile on my face and left me with a happy sigh! loved it x
    6/4/2012 07:11:26 pm

    Thanks Karly!! I am so very happy you enjoyed it!