• Blog

    Back at my desk for Musical Monday and a give-away

    Gold Coast Beach PathGold Coast BeachGold Coast Beach





    Gold Coast BeachHard Rock Cafe Guitar Sign Gold Coast










    I’ve been a pretty bad blogger the past couple of weeks but admittedly I have been on vacation. See those pictures up above, they prove it. We went on a family road trip from sunny Sydney to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It is the middle of winter so although you see and sand it wasn’t as toasty warm as these photos imply. Whoever said the camera never lies well that guy was a liar.

    Anyway it’s always nice to recharge the batteries, drink a few cocktails, ride some rollercoasters and get ready for the months ahead.

    As a parent I’m amazed at how fast time is passing and am all too aware that my delightful 13 year old will be off on her own adventures soon and I will no longer be part of her vacations so I really do try and seize the moments now because they are all too fleeting.(Having said that I’m kind of theme parked out for now!)

    So back to the desk. My new novella which will be out in August will be making it’s way to the editor this week. That’s exciting for me. I’m working on it’s sequel. The novella is the first in a series and I hope that readers like the characters. I like them. Smart women making their way in the big city while keeping their sense of humour…the kind of women I like to hang out with both in real life and in a book.(Sneak peek of the cover coming soon – sign up to my newsletter if you want to see it.)

    Don’t forget about this giveaway I’m part of. It’s a great opportunity to win some prizes donated by a wide variety of authors. (See entry form below).

    And finally for Musical Monday…one of my favourite songs for singing loudly in the car on a road trip – Story of a Girl. very fitting for a writer whose main characters are usually girls finding their way.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Blog

    Thoughts on a Thursday…a new weekly post


    Dee Why Beach at Autumn
    Dee Why Beach at Autumn

    Sometimes I think my efforts to keep my blog interesting and on topic leave it not that interesting at all.

    I thought I’d introduce a new “Thoughts on Thursday ” feature so I can ramble a little more freely on less bookish topics.

    Of course the first thing I’m going to tell you completely flies in the face of that because it’s about a writing workshop I went to yesterday. It was given by the wonderful Australian author Kate Forsythe. It was two hours of her discussing plot and character, pace and structure and I found it very inspiring.

    As I often do I came home all enthused to be a better writer. I mean this in the sense of better of the craft but mainly better at the job of writing. When I see how methodical, how systematic, how stinking disciplined some people are it puts me to shame.

    I’m not really a competitive person in the pure sense – I don’t think in terms of winning and losing (probably why I’m not a business wunderkind ), I don’t look at someone else succeeding and think I must have failed and I don’t even get envious much these days of other people’s success – but I do often say to myself “For goodness sake, if they can do that, then surely I can.”

    In the case of a writer who sets themself a neat routine and sticks to it I often think “Well if she can do it, why can’t I?”

    I got up and hit my desk today fuelled by a positive attitude and that can do feeling and then the page stared back at me and nothing came. It was one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time.

    What can you do? Keep trying I guess. Get up tomorrow and do better. I attended the workshop with friends from my writing group and I text one friend who said her day was just like mine. She tried and did not get her word count up either. It didn’t make me feel any better to hear that – I always wish my friends success.

    In other unrelated news it is now Autumn and I am really not a fan. I like sunshine and beaches and balmy nights. I dislike Autumn because it’s a prelude to Winter which I detest. My husband loves Autumn – “Great for fishing and the water temperature is still warm.” Then again he fished through a cyclone when we were in Queensland earlier this year so his credibility is shot.

    I might need to download some books set in the tropics to warm me up over the next few months.

    I’m also pondering my writing future (as I often am) this week. What direction should I take, where should I focus my energy and does anybody but me really care? (I know the answer to that last bit by the way, no need to respond). Maybe that’s the problem with both the character in my book and myself – too much thinking and not enough doing.

  • Blog

    What does romance look like in real life?


    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.



    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!
    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 🙂

    3/3/2014 09:45:20 pm

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

    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.

  • Blog

    Let’s talk about setting


    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?


    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!
    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.