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  • Blog

    Sometimes it is easy to forget – why I write

    6/15/2016

    Hearts AfireYesterday I was responding to a blogger about an upcoming promotional opportunity and she wanted a summer themed book. My Upper Crust Series isn’t especially seasonal (except Book 6 which isn’t out yet) but lots of my stand alone novels are.

    It got me to thinking about those books and how I got started writing and well, why I write.

    Reasons I don’t write (ie thinks that are not motivation for my writing):
    – financial success (Despite what you think most writers don’t make a living from it)
    – fame (For every author’s name you know there are thousands you don’t)
    – recognition (Ah considering at social gatherings even the people who know and love me barely acknowledge my writing we can leave this off the list)
    * Disclaimer at various times I have thought my writing might bring me one or more of these things but I no longer believe that.

    So why did I start writing and why do I continue?
    I wrote as a child and in my twenties but then I stopped. Time, motivation and need were all lacking then. (I’ll be honest my twenties rocked. I had a great social life with lots of friends in and out of work and lots of them lived near by me. we had disposable incomes and we ate out, drank like fish and danced until dawn often. Good freaking times!)

    In my early thirties I had a child and struggled with the notion I was lucky to get that one and wasn’t getting anymore, my husband was away around 50% of the time and most of my friends weren’t married or were just married and didn’t have kids. I was alone a lot. And I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t love it.

    Then my imagination came back to help me. Writing allowed me to create the sorts of friends I wanted to hang out with every day, the sorts of friends I had but missed. I got to write fund dates, romantic scenarios and parties. I drew on things I knew from my life, the good bits.

    My early novels particularly Mr Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire had aspects of my personality in them, and my life. Dog phobia is all me. Living by the beach, that’s my life. Meeting a hot guy on a tropical island – hey I did that. My writing was a really good way to draw on my experiences and the better, more fun parts of myself that were kind of taking a back seat to my day-to-day reality.

    Yesterday got me thinking about those characters and how much I loved them. I wondered why and realise it is because they represent the best parts of my friends, my life and my twenties. That’s probably why Cassie and Jack from Hearts Afire remain among my favourite characters. They made my life less lonely more full and they didn’t settle, they were characters who bounced back.

    I’ve always had a vivid imagination and a somewhat quirky world view….drawing on this was a way to connect my past to my future.

    My reasons for writing have changed over the years. I’m more pragmatic – although I still crush on lots of my own characters and mainly write characters I could see myself sharing a glass of wine or a plate of nachos with. Now though, my writing is a daily practice and an extension of who I am now rather than who I used to be.

     

    Comments

    Pamela Cook
    6/15/2016 01:26:22 am

    Great post Monique. Love your honesty. I agree, creating characters we love to hang out with is a huge part of the fun of writing. I always love meeting your imaginary friends. Look forward to meeting many more!
    Reply
    Monique
    6/15/2016 02:22:43 am

    Thanks Pam. That’s the fun part, right? Creating those characters…I have a few more imaginary friends up my sleeve yet.

    Betty Uchytil
    6/15/2016 06:21:21 am

    I loved Mr Right. It was just like talking to you. Now in your later novels it’s like you are telling me an amusing story. I am amazed that you have all of those characters in your head!
    Reply
    Monique
    6/15/2016 04:56:46 pm

    Thanks Betty, I think the voice in Mr Right and Other Mongrels is the closest to mine. Lots of people have said when they read it that it was like talking to me, which I guess is a compliment, if you liked the character 😉

  • Blog

    Life’s a beach

    2/25/2016

    At least mine is…
    It’s summer in Sydney and I happen to live in one of it’s lovely beach areas. I’m not really a sun worshipper because girls with red hair (sadly) are not designed for that sort of activity – big hats, sunscreen and long sleeves are more in my wheelhouse but I love the beach.

    This week Travel Zoo released its list of best beaches in Australia and I was not surprised to find two of my favourites in the Top 10. As you’ll see Shelley Beach and Manly Beach are often in my photos.
    https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/TravelersChoice-Beaches-cTop-g255055-a_Mode.expanded

    Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my own more recent beach shots with you so you can get a taste of life her on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We have a small boat we like to explore Sydney Harbour on so I’m lucky that I get to photograph it from land and sea.

    I often go for a walk at the beach to clear my head when writing and when it’s not so hot (we’re having a heatwave right now) I also like to go and write down by the water.

    My most recent novels aren’t set here but both my first two both have scenes on the Northern Beaches – Hearts Afire just towards the end and Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a set in beautiful Manly.

    So enjoy the photos and if you feel the urge to escape to the beach via a book consider one of those.

    Shelley BeachPelican in the ocean

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Manly Beach WalkOcean Swimming Northern Beaches

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Monique McDonell and Husband drinking champagne at the beachCoastal Flowers

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Pittwater Northern Beaches

    Northern Beaches Headland Ocean View

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Beach View

    Northern Beaches Beach

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Blog

    Getting ready for #NaNoWriMo2015

    10/19/2015

    Time to get ready for National Novel Writing Month
    Hearts AfireHearts Afire http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V2UKWQ
    I woke up in the middle of the night last night and realised it was less than two weeks to November which means National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.

    I’ve written lots of blog posts about it over the years including a series on how to prep for the month that went from the practical – preparing your home and meals in advance and your health – to the more emotional aspects of story writing and stamina. Here is a link to the post I did last year which is very comprehensive – 2014 #NaNoWrimo blog post.

    I think this is my 7th time participating in #NaNoWriMo. Not all of the books have been published but Hearts Afire was my first book I wrote during National Novel Writing month and it remains one of my favourite novels I’ve written (and I think lots of readers agree).

    I haven’t quite decided what I’m writing in November – part of the cold sweats last night. I’m either writing a seventh book in my series that ties everything up in a neat bow, a novel from the series I write under a pen name or a chicklit novel set at my local beach. I have a feeling the last one will win out. It means I can take my laptop down to cafe’s and write and call it research. I’m kind of loving that idea right now.

    Also I think it might be a nice change to take a break from the characters who have occupied so much of my time the last couple of years. A working holiday if you will.

    I’m a pretty disciplined writer these days. Not in October I haven’t been but I’ve stuck pretty faithfully to my #1000wordsaday challenge this year but I really like the commaraderie of National Novel Writing Month. Also because Christmas arrives hot on it’s heels and life seems to lose any sense of rhythm in December and January I enjoy knowing I’ve accomplished something.

    So with the two weeks to go it’s time I followed some of my own advice:
    – pre-make some meals
    – decide on a story and come up with a plot (this one is key I think – all the frozen meals in the world won’t help without this)
    – tell the people in my life I’m doing #NaNoWriMo so they know where my free time is going
    – get ready to say no to a few things
    – set the DVR for any shows I want to watch

    So are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? If so what will you be writing?

    Comment

    Nya
    10/30/2015 04:16:24 pm

    Hi Monique, thank you for passing by!
    I’ve enjoyed reading through your NaNoWrimo prep too! Definitely good tips, this is my first time trying this challenge so it will be a real challenge for me. Good luck to you!

  • Blog

    Here Comes the Bride Blog Hop

    9/28/2015

    Here Comes the Bride Blog Hop - Promo Banner
    Welcome to the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop
    Hearts Afire
    here we are on the first hop of the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop. Please stop by all of the stops on the hop this week (details at the bottom) and be sure to enter our competition to win copies of ebooks from all five authors on the hop.

    ***

    Character interview with Cassie Callahan from Hearts Afire.

    Let’s find out a little bit about Cassie and her wedding day.
    Were you nervous on the big day?
    Actually I really wasn’t nervous at all, I thought I was marrying someone who really got me. I guess that shows what I knew because my fiancé called to say he’d changed his mind on the morning of the wedding and he wasn’t coming.

    Then I was more mad than nervous.

    Did anything go wrong?
    You heard what I just said right? I was jilted on the day of my wedding. Still that actually wasn’t the worst thing that happened that day, believe it or not. I’m a caterer so I decided to cater my own wedding (okay in hindsight maybe not a great idea) and in all the fuss my sister left the stove on and the kitchen caught fire so the fire brigade turned up. I think the real question should be – did anything go right that day?

    Be honest were you a total bridezilla? (Or do you have a Bridezilla story?)
    It turned out was not even a little bit bridezilla, in fact my fiancé chose my wedding dress – maybe he was a groomzilla. Is that a thing? It should be. I am a caterer so I have dealt with my fair share of highly string brides so I think that made me extra anxious about not being one.

    Bridesmaids, how many is too many?
    Well I was only having two, my sister (more about her later) and my best friend Miranda. I think even one bad bridesmaid is one bridesmaid too many. I never wanted to be like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias…so many bridesmaids.

    You can’t have a wedding without family – how did yours behave in the lead-up to the wedding or on the day?
    I don’t have much family. My parents were killed when I was a teenager so it’s always been my sister and I…she set the kitchen on fire and then came with me on my solo honeymoon with me (may as well use the tickets). However she abandoned me on the honeymoon so all in all I guess my family didn’t exactly have my back.

    Are you still a believer in the happily ever after?
    You know what a funny thing happened since my botched wedding day. I’ve started to see that maybe I was with the wrong guy all along and that maybe the right guy isn’t too far away at all.

    Follow the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop authors and enter our giveaway
    Monday – Monique McDonell
    Tuesday – Samantha March/ChickLitPlus
    Wednesday – Laura Chapman
    Thursday – Nikki Mahood
    Friday – Kathleen  Irene Paterka

     

  • Blog

    What does romance look like in real life?

    3/3/2014

    Monique McDonell Wedding PhotoI’m about to head off on a little holiday/vacation with my lovely husband to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (yes, thank you for noticing I was a child bride).

    I have an idea for a novel I think I’ll start while we’re away but of course the anniversary has me pondering what in real life love versus love in a romance novel looks like.

    Like Cassie in Hearts Afire I actually met my husband on a tropical island off the Queensland coast. I was there on my own (long and not very fabulous story involving changed plans and my own battle with chronic fatigue syndrome) and he was there as part of a TV crew. We’re both from Sydney but I don’t think we would have ever met here so I guess it was, as they say, destiny.

    We’re very different people – like totally different – and I don’t think many people thought we’d last long enough to get married and probably once we did marry doubted we’d last this long. And I can see why they felt that way. Since then we’ve done some crazy stuff together – he ran for office and I ran his political campaign (with a lot of help from my friends), we’ve built a house (maybe one day we’ll even finish it) , we’ve travelled, we’ve volunteered, we’ve danced till dawn more often than I can count and of course we’ve had our beautiful daughter. That’s the stuff that makes up the fabric of your life.

    I’m quite romantic in the hearts and flowers sense. Heart shaped pancakes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day (sure), the perfect gift (absolutely) while my husband is really not-so-much. Although in fairness I certainly do get bunches of flowers more than most women I know and he has embraced the all important – flowers from the petrol station don’t count, rule and he certainly will notice how I look and says lovely things to me, a lot.

    But I don’t think that’s what romance looks like really.

    Romance is when you have morning sickness for 22 weeks and he gets you to hospital, gets you some meds and drives you around with a bucket in your lap for that whole time.

    Romance is after you have that baby and you’re miserable in hospital (on day 4) bringing you a bottle of wine and hot pasta to your hospital room because no one can regenerate on hospital food.

    Romance is giving your mother a hand when she needs it. (New pathway, sure. Moving house, no problem. Want that light bulb changed, Ok.)

    Romance is bringing you a cup of tea and all your favourite bits of the Sydney Morning Herald so you can read in bed on a Saturday morning.

    Romance is showing up and helping.

    Romance is designing and creating a mosaic mirror together.

    Romance is picking you and your friends up after dinner so you can all enjoy an adult beverage or two.

    Romance is being nice to your partner’s friends and making them welcome in your home.

    Romance is hanging in the hammock at the end of the day having a chat.

    Romance is dancing like a maniac until 3am.

    Romance is bringing extra hankies to a funeral because he knows you will definitely need them.

    Romance is speaking kindly to you and about you.

    Romance is dangling a child by their ankles and tickling them (or chasing them round the room or pushing them on a swing or playing My Little Pony with them).

    Romance is telling every person he meets that you’ve written a book and handing them a postcard about it (it’s embarrassing and romantic all at once).

    So I guess you could say we have had a fairly romantic time of it over the years by my own definition anyway. It’s just that it might not be such an exciting book to read.

     

    Comments

    MaryK
    3/3/2014 02:49:01 pm

    Happy Anniversary Monique and Romantic Ross! So much wisdom in this post! I especially love this: “Romance is speaking kindly to you and about you.”

    Have a wonderful vacation!
    Reply
    Monique
    3/3/2014 03:44:42 pm

    Thanks MaryK. I certainly don’t always succeed in that area but it is something to strive for 🙂

    Betty
    3/3/2014 09:45:20 pm

    Happy Anniversary kids! May the next 20 years be even better!

    Marygail
    3/3/2014 09:57:38 pm

    What a wonderful love note to Ross on your 20th anniversary. Enjoy your anniversary holiday and many more happy years.
    Reply

  • Blog

    #ChickLitLove – an excerpt from Hearts Afire

    2/10/2014

    Hearts Afire - Monique McDonell - #ChickLitLove PromoToday as part of #ChickLitLove I’m giving you an extract from Hearts Afire (which by the way is only 99c on Amazon this week). I love all the men in my books but I have to say of my released novels I do think Jack from Hearts Afire is my favourite (although wait till you meet Matt in A Fair Exchange – due out in April!!!).

    I really like the chemistry between these two and their banter, I hope you do too!

    ***

    Jack leaned down and whispered in her ear. “You’ve done a good job.”

    “Sorry?” Here quizzical eyes looked up at him.

    “With Lisa, that’s what you’re worried about right? Well she’s OK.”

    “I don’t know about that.”

    “Look, she’s a normal twenty-year-old. That’s what they do. That’s how they act.”

    “Selfish, over-sexed, self-absorbed and shallow?”

    “I think so, pretty much.” He smiled at her.

    “Well, we should raise our glasses to what a great parent I was then, because she is all those things.”

    “You wanted to make sure she got a chance to do all the things you didn’t get to do, right?” Cassie nodded at him. “Well look, she’s doing them all.”

    “Does she have to do them all at once, though?” Her voice smiled as she spoke.

    “I guess so.”

    “So now you’re talking to me again, huh?”

    “I have trouble staying mad at you, apparently.” He touched her silky skin lightly on the shoulder. “You do strange things to me.”

    “Yeah, well, if you keep touching me we’re both going to be in big trouble, Jack.” He didn’t move his hand. Instead he ran his finger down her arm. “Listen Jack, I just need to say…”

    “You need to say nothing, Cassie.”

    “No I…”

    He placed a finger over her lips to silence her. With his other hand he grabbed her hand and pulled her back outside. And against the wall which pulsated with the beat from the music from inside, he found her mouth and kissed her hard.

    Cassie leaned into him. It was a warm, inviting, kiss. He was pressed against her and she could feel every muscle of his lean body up and down the length of her own. She closed her eyes and just went with the glorious feeling of his mouth melting into hers. She needed this. She needed him.

    He pulled back and looked into her eyes. It was a searching look. She knew he wanted her to say something now, but what? She didn’t even know what she wanted. She knew he would break her heart but maybe it would be worth it.

    She grabbed his shirt and pulled his mouth down to hers initiating another long searching toe-tingling kiss. Well her toes were tingling anyway, she didn’t know about his toes but she could feel other parts of him springing into action. He wrapped his arms around her and locked one hand in her hair at the back of her neck, holding her in place. It felt amazing.

    ***

    If you want to read how Cassie and Jack got into this situation – or if you like sexy firemen and tropical islands -go and download Hearts Afire from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V2UKWQ

     

    Comment

    Hilary
    2/10/2014 08:03:17 pm

    Love it! I so want to read more!

  • Blog

    This and that and musical Monday…

    2/9/2014

    #ChickLitLove Monique McDonell PromoI have a few things to tell you about this week so I thought I’d start the day with a post…and in what may be a first I’ll be back later today with another post…I hope the earth doesn’t spin of it’s axis.

    First off I’m participating in a Valentine’s event called #ChickLitLove this week. Lots of wonderful authors are involved…look for the hashtag on twitter to find their posts.

    I’ll be doing lots of fun stuff here for that this week.

    Secondly I have put Hearts Afire down to just a 99c for a few days so it’s the perfect time to get a copy. For 99c it would also make a cute Valentine for a girlfriend who could use a little love and escapist romance in her life (and who couldn’t?)

    Thirdly you can find me here at J’aimee Brookers website talking about Building Attraction as part of the #Ozromance Valentine’s Showcase.

    http://jaimeebrooker.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/valentines-day-ozromance-showcase-monique-mcdonnell/

    Building Attraction is my newest book and it’s lots of fun. If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll find it a fun read.

    Finally for Musical Monday a song to put some pep in your step….Imagine Dragons – I’m On Top of the World. (Or as my daughter and I call it the happy song you sing when you’re feeling just tad Canadian, eh!) We actually saw them in concert here in Sydney last year with a group of friends…very fun.

    Anyway, I’m not really feeling on top of the world but sometimes you need to act as if and music sure can help.

    I’ll be back later to get my week of #ChickLitLove underway.

  • Blog

    What makes a romance a romantic comedy?

    9/20/2013

    Hearts Afire Hydrant and Heart Hose IllustrationI have been pondering this question this week. what makes a romance a romantic comedy?

    If you go to a bricks and mortar bookstore or onto Amazon there are thousands upon thousands of romance novels and a great many of these fall into the contemporary romance category.

    Within that category some are romantic comedies but certainly not all. So what are the hallmarks? I was thinking about this in relation to movies. There are far, far fewer (I would argue) movies that are straight romances most have a somewhat whimsical element to them.

    In fact I was struggling to think of too many contemporary ones. I came up with the Before Sunrise series with Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke but couldn’t think of too many other contemporary examples that didn’t seem to involve input from one Nicholas Sparks who favours romance through tears over romance through laughter – death, abuse, war, sickness are his paths to true love.

    Try and think of movies that are romantic comedies and you don’t struggle at all – and we can all name the actresses to look for as well – hello Kate Hudson, hello Meg Ryan (the early years), hello Anne Hathaway (pre- Les Miserables), hey Sandra Bullock (pre Oscar) and how are you Katherine Heigl?

    What makes these romantic comedies is the somewhat zany situations the main characters seem to get in and that rather than weep your way through the movie as the protagonists find true love you laugh, or at least chuckle. Often it’s not just the situations they find themselves in but the supporting cast of friends, relatives and co-workers that create the humour.

    I think that’s actually true for real life as well. It’s the funny story about your friend’s wedding, they day your car broke down on your way to that important meeting, the time your co-worker tripped coming into a meeting and spilled coffee everywhere, the time you rescued a friend from a terrible date or your crazy relative going nuts at a party (I’m loathe to cite a example that might incriminate me) that makes your own life funny. These are the stories you share over a drink, these are you “remember when” stories that you rehash and recall when you’re together with friends and family.

    I think romantic comedies – whether they’re books or movies – are made up of these stories. The ones that make you smile when you remember them, they’re the stories you want to revisit as opposed to the ugly break-ups, the broken hearts, the horrible boss who fired you for no good reason, the tragic car accident – those stories are best forgotten.

    Romantic comedy takes looks at life through the prism of laughter and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    My romantic comedy Hearts Afire is currently on sale at Amazon for 99c.
    Hearts Afire

    Comment

    Anne R. Allen
    9/21/2013 03:04:21 am

    I think one of the most important elements of comedy–any kind of comedy is bad choices. The heroine has to make some mistakes. The other is deception. People try to hide things from each other. Romantic comedy is generally more like real life than romance. But I’m amazed at how many reviews I get from people who don’t know what comedy is. They complain that the heroine “doesn’t make the right choices” or that “all the characters lie to each other.” Well, yeah, that’s because it’s um, a comedy.

  • Blog

    Let’s link up

    8/21/2013

    Hearts AfireToday I’m going to provide you with some chat and then some links to places I’ve been mentioned in cyber space this week or places I think might interest you.

    As you know I was at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. One attends a conference like that for a variety of reasons including professional development, the opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers and as well as networking with other authors.

    I did pitch on the weekend so I need to get busy preparing my submission while busily prepare to launch my next indie title.

    It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people who want to talk about writing and books. (What could be better?) It’s also a chance to put faces to the many writers you meet on Twitter, Facebook and via blogs.

    Now I’m home it’s time to link up. I need to e-mail people, find their Facebook author pages and follow them on Twitter before I do what I did last year and misplace all those lovely business cards I’ve collected.

    Speaking of linking up here are a few links where I’ve been mentioned around the web this week.

     

     

    The lovely Cindy Roesel wrote this lovely piece about Mr Right and Other Mongrels on her blog today.
    http://cindyroesel.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/and-they-live-happily-ever-after.html#.UhVs9KF–P9

    My friend Pamela Cook who I travelled to the RWA with did a great blog post yesterday about our travels.
    http://pamelacook.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/riding-the-waves-my-wrap-up-of-rwas-2013-conference/

    And I understand my novel Hearts Afire has been nominated at Indie Author News for favourite indie book for September here. If you liked it and would like to vote for it this is the link.
    http://www.indieauthornews.com/p/top-50-indie-books.html

  • Blog

    Let’s talk about setting

    8/7/2013

    Does the setting of a book affect whether or not you choose to read it?

    If you read a book set somewhere you know do you prefer that? Or what about if it’s somewhere you know but in the book you’re reading it looks unrecognisable. “Hey that’s not my town, that’s not right!”

    Here are a few thoughts of my own on setting.
    Sometimes all you need to do is change the name to protect the innocent. In my second book Hearts Afire the island I describe is a real island in Queensland but I changed it’s name so I could take some creative license. Likewise the characters live in Stanton – no such place exists in Sydney’s inner-west, at least not by that name.

    If you want to use a real setting my best advice is to make it real. get the facts right and no one will complain, get it wrong and well, you’ll certainly hear about it.

    So do you like books set in real places or do you prefer created towns, cities and villages?

    Comments

    Brea Brown
    8/7/2013 10:27:15 am

    I like to read books set in places I know, would like to know, or would like to visit. I’ll admit that if a book is set somewhere that doesn’t interest me, I generally won’t read the book. There aren’t too many places that don’t interest me, though, so setting is rarely something that rules out a book for me. I enjoy writing about places I know or creating completely fictional settings. Mixing the two is also a lot of fun. Great post! Love the video!
    Reply
    Monique
    8/7/2013 10:45:12 am

    I’m the same Brea…there are a couple of places that I prefer to avoid but otherwise I’m pretty open…as long as it’s a good premise I’m in!

    Pamela Cook
    8/7/2013 05:37:08 pm

    I love a good setting. One of the reasons I read is to escape (don’t we all?) and an evocative setting will take me away every time. I agree about the need to get the details right. Love the outdoor video. More please!

    Louise Wise
    8/7/2013 07:06:55 pm

    I love to read books and see that it’s set close to where I live. I’d be annoyed if the author was anything but complimentary about my home town, but forgive them if they lived there.