• Jewel sisters cover teasers
    Blog

    A new look Jewel Sisters Series is coming soon!

    Jewel sisters cover teasers

    It’s a while since I’ve done anything to update any of my book covers and I thought maybe it was time to give the Jewel Sisters series a fresh new look.

    New covers and new blurbs are something I struggle with, mainly because I ‘m usually attached to the original covers.

    In this case, I just couldn’t decide what direction to go. I even ran a poll in m newsletter this time last year between two looks and the results were exactly 50/50 so that didn’t help at all!

    Anyway, I finally made a decision and I’m super happy with how they came out. Everyone I’ve shown them to has been as excited as I am so I hope that means an uptick in sales when the covers and new blurbs go live on Amazon next week.

    You can see the old covers here.

    This is such a fun series set here in Australia and as the series title suggests is about four sisters and their relationship and struggles to find love and happiness. But it is fun and happy and I wanted covers that reflected that, so fingers crossed I’ve got it right.

    Stay tuned and I’ll let you know when the new look version is live. As always if you’ve read them and haven’t yet reviewed the books you know I’d love you to.

  • Marlin Shores series
    Blog

    Looking back on 2021 and towards 2022

    Wow, that’s a wrap on 2021 and I can’t say I’m sorry. I thought I’d kick off looking back on 2021 and towards 2022 for my writing life.

    The year started with my father going to hospital on the first and honestly it’s been a mixed bag since. I lost the first two weeks of January and I was playing catch up for months. (An excellent lesson in not being so last-minute).

    I do try to find the good, so here we go:

    Marlin Shores series

    1. I released Saltwater Tears and Saltwater Wishes in the first quarter of 2021. I love these stories and the town of Marlin Shores – I have ideas for some more stories set there.
    2. I finished my Upper Crust Series with Any Way You Wish It – there may be a spin off trilogy, we shall see.
    3. I released 7 shorts for one pen name in the first half of 2021. That was a lot of fun and that pen name taught me a lot!
    4. I walked away from a couple of writing commitments that were no longer brining me enough joy for the time invested. (This was huge for me!)
    5. I went to Melbourne in May for a week long intensive with a fellow writer and I got all my admin done and that hard work tripled my income in 2 months.
    6. My co-author and I released 6 novels and a list building novella between June and December for our shared pen name. This pen name has been a source of both joy and success for me and the highlight of my year in so many ways.
    7. My March release for a new multi-author series is already written.
    8. My newsletter building/free novella for another new pen name is already written.
    9. I joined two writing groups here in the Newcastle/Hunter region and made lots of new writing friends.
    10. I started doing plotting consults for Love Kissed Promotions and that’s been lots of fun and super interesting.

    Next year:

    1. I have a new release in March.
    2. I will put together a box set for the Marlin Shores trilogy in the first half of 2022
    3. I’m launching a new pen name in March and plan to release 4 books for that name in 2022
    4. I’m expanding my online paperback store to include more of my newer titles in January/February
    5. My co-writer and I have at least 10 books planned for our shared pen name
    6. I’m on the schedule to speak at RWA (Australia) in August about surprise surprise, Launching a Niche Genre Pen Name. (I don’t know that I’ll get to go with border issues, but I’ll cross my fingers)
    7. I’m hoping to go to 20booksvegas – an awesome writing conference I made it to in 2018 and for obvious reasons didn’t get back to.
    8. I’m rebranding a couple of my series
    9. I’m hoping to get my business Indie Author Rescue running properly so I can assist more authors (I do know how to finish a book, manage my time and launch a book that much i certain)
    10. I know it will be my best year yet!

    I hope you have big plans for 2022, do share them with me.

  • Writers on Wednesday
    Blog

    Let’s talk about making friends as an adult…

    Reflection and life advice at the end of 2021

    So a little context here if you’re new to my blog – in late August 2020 (yes, already a tough year, and if I’m honest, my 2019 was already a doozy for me personally) my husband got transferred for work. We packed up our life,friends rented out our house (which needed more than a little TLC before we could do that), we found somewhere to live and moved to Newcastle, located about 2.5 hours north of Sydney (depending on traffic).

    We lucked out on a great apartment, and my husband went to work. As a writer who also does some professional consulting, I gave myself the rest of the year to adjust and went to work writing…or recovering. It was a brutal move.

    It was the suddenness, I think, combined with the fact that we’d built our house and our college aged daughter had never lived anywhere else. Although I never believed she’d permanently live with us again, our new home was not/is not her home. She has no friends here and no emotional connection to the place.

    Layer on the fact that we’re not people who whine and I’m a big believer in making the best of things. Our photos of the local beaches or the view from our balcony made our new life look awesome. And there’s nothing at all wrong with it, but it wasn’t home and the friends I’d spent a lifetime making were not around the corner.

    Let me be frank, I consider making friends very important. I always have.

    My New Year’s resolution every year includes – make a new friend.

    At every job I start, or every new hobby or activity I commence, I make it a goal to make a new friend. Sometimes I just make one. Sometimes I make many.

    I don’t lack for friends. In fact, I was so overwhelmed by the number of people I needed to put on my list and include for my last significant birthday, I took a vacation instead. I didn’t want to leave anyone out.

    I have high school friends, college friends, mother’s group friends, tennis friends, P&C (PTA friends), bookclub friend, writing friends not to mention the aforementioned work friends – it’s probably lucky I worked alone so much or it would be overwhelming .

    I collect people happily.

    Sometimes, but very rarely, I shed friends. This always makes me sad and I always have regrets about it, especially if I messed up. None of us is perfect. We’re going to say things or make mistakes and that’s painful to deal with. It happens. That doesn’t mean you should stop putting yourself out there and get bitter.

    All this might lead you to believe I’m an extrovert and you would be dead wrong.

    I’m the biggest home body you’ve ever met – I just also like people. I spend hours and hours alone, in silence and I’m 100% okay with it.

    So what’s the point of this blog post? Making friends as an adult is a skill and most of us don’t develop it.

    As kids opportunities for friendship abound – school, sports, activities. As we grow and go to college, and have kids at school those opportunities seem endless, but for adults without children and empty nesters the opportunities come to you less and less.

    It’s hard work putting yourself out there. It’s hard to make the first move. When I arrived in Newcastle, I knew a couple of writers from RWA conferences and several from online writing groups. At the conferences in the past, I always tried to be friendly, and to talk to people who were standing alone or looked lost. Some of these people I saw for a couple of days once a year but not always.

    Anyway, I didn’t know that some of those efforts of putting myself out there when I could have stood with my friends in the corner would pay off years later.

    I was so grateful when these women invited me to join their writing groups. I started 2021 as part of two writing groups. One meets mainly online and the other in person monthly. Here’s the truth – I really did not want to join a writing group – I just wasn’t in the headspace for it but I knew if I didn’t that I wouldn’t get invited again so I said yes to both.

    They have both been sources of great joy and companionship for me. As a result, I’ve had walks, coffees, Zooms, dinners, and glasses of wine with lots of lovely people and I’ve made new friends…and so have they.

    I started writing this after a morning tea with one of these writers. She asked to meet up and I could read even in her email that she was nervous to reach out. She’s a smart and accomplished woman but I suspect it’s a while since she made a new friend. We had a lovely outing and have plans to do it again. I could see how happy and relieved she was that it went well.

    Why am I writing this?

    Never underestimate the difference your offer of friendship might make to someone and try to make new friends. Yes, it can be risky putting yourself out there. Sure someone people turn out to not be your people but you won’t know unless you try and you never know when that skill might be needed more than you ever expected.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Newcastle Writers Retreat 2022
    Blog

    A November wrap up – a little late

    We’re drawing to the end of 2022 if you can believe that. No, I can’t either.

    It’s been a crazy year with lockdowns and life changes and adjustments for me.

    Compared to recent years, it looks like I’ve had a light publishing schedule, but the truth is I’ve been working away on a couple of pen names that have kept me very busy. These pen names write books in different genres and they’ve been lots of fun to develop.

    So while books under  my Monique McDonell  name, there have been fewer books, I will have published 9 full-length novels, 2 novellas and 7 short books (10k) this year. That’s around 500,000 words…and I also have my March 2022 Monique McDonell novel drafted so that’s another 50,000 words. No wonder I’m a little tired.

    Anyway, what I’m here to talk about is my November (yes I am aware it’s now December). As well as finally getting to see family after 4 months and some travel to see my daughter who lives 6 hours away (Sniff. Sniff) I did some cool writing things.

    First of all one of the great gifts of 2022 for me has been the writing community here in Newcastle, NSW where I now live. I was invited to join both the Hunter Romance Writers and the Newcastle Romance Writers groups. There is some overlap of membership but the groups are quite different and I love both for different reasons. The Hunter group is smaller, tends to meet online but has more indie authors like me, whereas the Newcastle group meets in person and is a wider cross-section of people (more chances to make friends).

    Newcastle Writers Retreat 2022
    Newcastle Writers Retreat 2022 Attendees

    Anyway, to that end I helped organise and was lucky to attend the first Newcastle Romance Writers Rereat in November.  We probably shouldn’t call it a retreat – it was more of a one day conference. regardless of the name it was a truly awesome day.

    It was a full day of writing, presentations and roundtables. Eighteen of us attended to discuss everything from great openings to conflict to book marketing.

    As none of us can get to the Romance Writers of Australia conference due to COVID travel restrictions and border closures, this was a nice dose of professional development and camaraderie in a year where both have been lacking.

    Lighthouse Arts

    Lighthouse Arts CollageAnother exciting thing that happened this November was I’ve been part of the inaugural group of Artists in Residence in the Lighthouse Arts Program.

    Here’s a little about the program. Lighthouse Arts aims to increase the sustainability and visibility of the arts and culture sector of
    Newcastle City and the Hunter region.
    Lighthouse Arts is an initiative of Hunter Writers Centre inc., a not-for-profit, incorporated
    association established in 1995 and the peak literary hub of the Hunter region NSW.
    Initial funding for Lighthouse Arts has been received via the Industry Response Taskforce grant from the City of Newcastle to provide support for cultural practitioners. Access to Nobbys-
    Whibayganba headland has been obtained under a licence agreement between Hunter Writers Centre and Port Authority NSW.
    The project site is Nobbys-Whibayganba headland. Read its history here.
    Lighthouse Arts’ purpose is to provide supportive, professional and accessible spaces and
    presentation opportunities that foster the development of creative practitioners affected by
    Covid-19, to build a legacy for future creatives and for audiences to experience diverse art forms
    and culture.
    The project includes: Studio Spaces for Artists-in-Residence on weekdays and, on
    weekends, a live events space, an Arts Trading Store and an exhibition space known as The House
    of Stories.
    The program invites creative practitioners to help build a community to produce or advance works
    and offer your original, contemporary creations for exhibition and for sale.

    The project was meant to kick-off mid year, but it didn’t due to more lockdowns, so we headed up the hill to the Lighthouse in early November. My residency has included a gorgeous office every Tuesday to focus on my writing in. I’ve met loads of other writers and creatives as well. I applied to participate with the key objective of connecting with local creatives and I’ve done that.

    Sadly, I have only one more week, but it’s truly been a privilege to have the experience and the opportunity.

    National Novel Writing Month

    Nanowrimo winner badge

    Once again I participated in National Novel Writing Month. If you follow this blog at all you’ll already know it’s a global challenge where authors, established and aspiring, commit to writing a 50,000 word novel – the first draft at least – in a month. If you’re new to my blog, you can get the scoop here.

    I’ve been doing it on and off since about 2006 and most years – unless I’m travelling – I manage to hot that target. This time I was working on a book for a new multi-author series I’m part of in 2022.

    Anyway, as that little image shows – I completed my book. Yay for me!

    So no wonder it took me a little while to get to this blog post – that was a lot to cover and catch up from.

    Onward through December and into an amazing 2022, I hope.

     

     

  • Musical Monday
    Blog

    Musical Monday – the Meg Cabot edition.

    Musical Monday

    It’s a while since I did a Musical Monday post but I simply couldn’t resist this week.

    This week I want to talk about the Princess Diaries. I had no idea the Princess Diaries movie was 20 this week until the weekend and let me just say I LOVED that movie. I’m not sure if I thought it was older or younger. In fact, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it and I’ve also lost track of how many Meg Cabot books I’ve read.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read all her adult books – I love them – and she was definitely an inspiration for me when I started writing. She writes sweet, sometimes sexy books about fun female characters who are usually a little bit awkward and out of their depth. The kind of books I enjoy reading. Her male leads are usually pretty tolerant guys, which these ladies need. I’ve fashioned a few or my heroes on similar types of men. I especially loved the Heather Wells series and the Queen of Babble. Last week I read No Offense her latest release, after not having read any of her books for a while and it was a delightful escape.

    Ask any writer and I’m sure most of them will tell you they have a bit of a fantasy of having their books made into movies. Lots of us even cast our books. I know back when I published Mr Right and Other Mongrels I dreamed of Hugh Jackman and Rose Byrne heading the cast.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone dreaming up a more perfect movie casting than The Princess Diaries – come on Julie Andrews as a Queen, Anne Hathaway was brilliant and Hector Elizondo was amazing!

    The Princess Diaries works because it’s the ultimate Cinderella Story, but as much as anything, it’s about the character of Mia growing into herself as anything else.

    This is the perfect mother-daughter movie or sleep over movie or just a movie to cheer you up, and we all need that from time to time.

    I’ve played this song a lot over the years. Probably way more than my husband and daughter have appreciated, but I love it and I do believe miracles happen, sometimes… if you believe.

  • Blog

    Let’s talk french cooking with Carolyn Eychenne, author of Sunrise over Paris

    Taste of Tuesday

    It’s Taste of Tuesday and today we’re off to Paris with

    Carolyn Eychenne, author of Sunrise over Paris

    Many of the readers of my novel Sunrise over Paris have written that they thought the daube in chapter 5 sounded good.  If you feel that way too, wait until you try the recipe below:  8-hour lamb.  Mine is bubbling away right now—we’re on the home stretch of the 8-hour marathon—and my house smells wonderful.  The last time I checked to see if there is enough cooking liquid, I sampled a little piece of meat and it, too, was wonderful.

    You might be thinking that 8 hours is a huge investment for a meal.  It’s not.  Not for the French and not for Stacey, the main character of my novel.  Food is an important part of Sunrise over Paris. Some of the key moments of the story occur over a meal: the fateful dinner in one of the opening scenes where we see Stacey’s, the heroine’s, difficult relationship with her husband and teenage children, the brief moment of harmony while dining on daube, the lunch during which Stacey watches the results of one of her revenge plots, and the luxurious brunch she shares with her two kids as they create a new, stronger, more adult bond.

    Stacey is a foodie, of course, but this is not an oddity in France.  Food is a big deal here.  The French invest a lot of time and energy in eating, at special holiday meals of course, but also every day.  Art de vivre, living so well it becomes an artform, does include everyday meals.  Cooked fresh when possible.  Always seasonal. Always balanced.

    What makes for a balanced meal à la française?

    First of all, three courses.  The starter (interestingly, it’s called l’entrée), the main dish (the entrée in English!), dessert.  Sometimes, there is cheese.  Not every day, but when there is, it comes between the main course and dessert.

    There are somewhere between 1,000 and 1,600 different varieties of cheese: cheese from cow, goat, and ewe’s milk are all standard fare.  Some are hard cheeses, some soft and crumbly, others very fresh and creamy.  Some are inoculated with mold (yes, that’s what gives Roquefort cheese its distinctive flavor), some are rolled in herbs, and others have inclusions, like a beautiful Brillat Savarin with truffles which I discovered only a year ago, despite living here for over 30 years.

    Until then, I didn’t really like truffles.  Now… Wow!

    As said earlier, the French don’t have cheese at the end of every meal. And they don’t have very much at a time.  While it’s completely acceptable to have seconds of the other courses, it’s considered rude to have seconds of cheese.  If you do, it’s a way of saying that your hostess hasn’t given you enough to eat.

    Like cheese, dessert isn’t an everyday thing either. At least, not the macarons or petits fours or éclairs au chocolat you’re thinking about right now.  Most days, dessert is a yogurt or a piece of fruit.  But it’s still called ‘dessert’ which can be disappointing for some of us.

    Entrée literally means entrance.  The same word is used for your front door, which makes it a logical name for the starter in a meal.  In traditional French cuisine, a salad is fine for every day, but not something you would serve to company.  Depending on your guests, you might prepare a terrine with a little salad on the side, some lox with buttered toast and lemon wedges, or vol au vent, a little basket made from puff pastry in which you serve snails or shellfish in a creamy bechamel sauce.

    By the way, soupe à l’oignon with its croutons and cheese melting on top is not as common as you might think. I’ve had it many times in restaurants, but never in anyone’s home other than my own.  And, since I’m American-born, that might not count.

    After the starter, the main dish.  This can look like a typical American meal—meat or fish, cooked vegetable and rice, pasta or potato.  Or this can be a plat en sauce, a stew-like dish, which combines the meat and vegetable in one dish which is then served over rice or pasta.  The daube which Stacey cooks in Sunrise over Paris is an example of this.  You might also know boeuf bourguignon or blanquette de veau.  One of my favorite meals is pot-au-feu, literally pot in the fire, because it used to be made in a large cast-iron dutch oven in the coals of the family fireplace. Several different cuts of beef, leeks, carrots, turnips, onions and potatoes all cook together for several hours, creating an amazing broth which you eat as the starter before having the meat and vegetable along with kosher salt, pickles and Dijon mustard for the main course.

    Second only to 8-hour lamb.

    Which brings me back to the recipe.  Please try—and let me know how you like it.  If you overcook it, forgetting it for 11 hours instead of 8, you can always say that you preferred the French author Colette’s recipe to mine! 

    By Carolyn Eychenne

    The recipe:  8-hour lamb

    1 leg of lamb (about 5 pounds)

    3 carrots (I use 4 – 5)

    3 onions

    2 small leeks (I use 4)

    ½ celeriac

    3 cloves

    1 “bouquet garni” (parsley, bay leaf, thyme, celery branch)

    1 entire head of garlic

    10 peppercorns

    2 tablespoons salt

     

    Brown the leg of lamb in a cast iron Dutch oven.  Take out, reserve.

    On the bottom of the Dutch oven, place all the vegetables peeled and chopped into 1-2” sized pieces. Add the garlic, bouquet garni and seasonings. Put the leg of lamb back on top.

    Add water to cover the vegetables but only just touching the lamb.

    Cover and simmer for 8 hours, checking every so often that there is enough liquid. Add if necessary.

    To serve:  Remove the lamb and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Remove the vegetables and place in a strainer over the Dutch oven (the idea is to catch the cooking juices). Handle them carefully so they retain their shape.

    Increase the temperature under the Dutch oven to bring the cooking juices to a boil. Reduce.

    Serve the leg of lamb covered in this sauce with the vegetables on the side. The lamb is so tender, you might have a hard time cutting it!

    sunrise over paris

    Sunrise Over Rise Blurb:

    What would you do if you found out your husband was cheating on you?
    When Stacey Dupont, an American in Paris, learns that her French husband has been cheating, her happy life crumbles and obsession begins.  Stalking and revenge lead to surprising results!  With Paris as the backdrop and the River Seine playing a main role, Sunrise over Paris follows Stacey on her surprising, emotional, and sometimes zany journey of personal discovery across the City of Light.

    Get it here

     You can learn more about Carolyn here: 
    Facebook 
    Instagram 
    GoodReads

    www.carolyneychenne.com

     

    About Carolyn

    Carolyn Eychenne is an author of fiction and non-fiction works. Sunrise over Paris is her first novel but not the first book she has published, the other being a French-language book about digital platforms. It led her back to her true love, writing.

    Not quite “an American in Paris,” Carolyn Eychenne has lived most of her adult life in the suburbs of Paris, after growing up in southern California.

    Note from Monique: Please comment below and let me know if you made Carolyn’s recipe or what your favorite French meal is.

  • Shine
    Blog

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2021

    Shine

    Welcome to 2021 my lovely readers. Happy New Year!

    I think we’re all more than ready to embrace the new although I don’t think 2021 will be the instant panacea to 2020 many of us are hoping for. I’m optimistic it will be better.

    My word for the year is SHINE. I hope to shine brightly in 2021.

    I had lots of plans for last year and I achieved some. I did write a lot of words. I have a couple of secret pen names and published under those and my own name. 

    I definitely didn’t release everything I wanted to but that’s okay. I became a USA today Bestseller, I came second in the Australian RUBY Awards novella section and released several new books. We’ll take it.

    We moved out of our home of over 24 years and relocated to a new town with about 6 weeks’ notice, so I’m being kind to myself about my lack of accomplishment in the final quarter of 2020.

    The good news is those projects will be completed in the first half of 2021 so all is not lost.

    I started serializing Playing With Trouble in 2020, and I promise to get back to that and share the rest of it with you in 2021. You can catch up here with the opening meanwhile.

    The next books in the Marlin Shores world will be out in January and March and I can’t wait to share those as well. You can preorder Saltwater Tears here.

    Have you read the prequel Kissing The Captain? If not grab your copy here for free.

    We have big plans for the Cinnamon Bay romance world in 2021 so look out for news about that soon.

    I also have Upper Crust Series news…meanwhile have you seen the box sets I made for the Upper Crust series? You can grab them here and they are free in Kindle Unlimited.

    There are a couple of other exciting projects looming in 2021 so stay tuned.

    Happy New Year – 2021 here we come!

    Playing with Trouble

     

  • Blog

    Goals for 2020 – the 52 Week Blogging Challenge

    Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

    Well you’re reading this blog post on my shiny new website so I’ve already achieved one goal that I’m pretty happy about. And I’m a few hours late but I’m participating in this  Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge  over at Long and Short Reviews as well so 2020 isn’t off to a bad start so far.

    I also have new covers for lots of my books that I spent much of 2019 getting ready to go so I feel like I’m in a good place to leap into the year ahead.

    I have very specific publishing goals in 2020 which include participating in three box sets, two books in the No Brides Club series for Sweet Promise Press (March and September) and finally releasing the final two books in the Courtside Romance Series.

    Beyond that I also have a new trilogy I’m excited to kick off this year.

    Aside from publishing new titles I have some box sets coming of my older series which I’m really looking forward to. As an author my main goal in 2020 is to monetize my back-list. I’m just shy of 30 books published and it’s time I started making some serious money from them.

    If you’re a regular follower of me or this blog you’ll know I often talk about how so much of being an author, especially and indie author is embracing new technology.  There are so many platforms and pieces of technology you can use to help you but each one however amazing has it’s own learning curve.

    The past eighteen months I’ve been so exhausted from a combination of life and my day job situation that I’ve shied away from new platforms to my own detriment.  (I continued to write and publish because for me that’s the joy of being a writer – I’m a story teller at heart ).

    So one of my major goals in 2020 is to embrace the technology I need to in order to succeed as an author.

    That’s probably enough for one year. My experience with goal[i] setting is that I’m better to concentrate on a few bigger goals rather than lots and lots of little ones.

  • Blog

    A Musical Monday year in review

    12/30/2018

    Musical Monday

    2019 a year in review

    I tried to think of a song to sum up the year and it’s hard to go beyond Seasons of Love from RENT. (Also when is RENT coming back to the stage in Australia it was awesome?) After all, kind of like me the song measures the year in love and cups of coffee.

    This year has been a really mixed one for me in terms of both life and writing. It hasn’t been catastrophic, and I am well aware I lead a very fortunate life, but just like everyone some years are harder than others and this one has been a bit of a slog.

    Let’s start with the not so great writing-wise. I had some plans for some collaborative projects that I was excited by this time last year that fell through – one was a multi-author book and the other was a box set that got cancelled. I was excited by the prospect of not working alone so much, because being an indie author can be pretty lonely. In the end those projects falling through taught me a valuable lesson that I’m often better off on my own working at my own pace.

    I had a target to release a certain number of books in 2018 and I didn’t reach it. In fact I only released three books in 2018 under my name and two under a pen name. That was disappointing and the result of a tough day job that left me no time for anything creative at the end of the day. To be honest i felt out of sorts and like I was swimming through mud from about February onwards.

    So when I think about my writing goals for 2019 I think of this song.

    So moving on what went well? No one wants to dwell on the negative.

    I released the Something to Sing About, from the Jewel Sisters Series just before New Year last year and yesterday I finished the third book in that series Something to Savor so it will be out in February and the final book Something Worth Saving will be out in March.

    I released two books in the new Courtside Romance Series in July and November with two more to come in early 2019.

    Courtside Romance Banner
    The highlight of the year was definitely the release of Any Way You Like It, the final Book in the Upper Crust series. I had a great time with the unicorn themed promotions and the book was really well received. Let’s be honest completing an 8 book series is no mean feat. I did a whole playlist for the book which was fun but this Ed Sheeran song most encapsulates Dave and Tasha’s story and the whole experience of writing the book for me.

    So 2018 was also a fantastic year for me in terms of new opportunities and professional development

    I was chosen to write a book for the No Brides Club Series for Sweet Promise Press which I’m super excited about. It did give me a collaborative experience which I had been looking for. I also joined a group of authors and we established the Coffee Talk on the Boardwalk Facebook group. We’re releasing a series in 2019 and we’ve had a lot of fun with readers naming elements of the town Cinnamon Bay where the stories will be set.

    In July I was in Washington DC for my day job and I hopped over to Denver to visit a friend and meet up with fellow authors attending the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I was able to meet up with the awesome authors who were present from the ChickLItChat Facebook Group for dinner and the next night I met with Melissa Storm the Publisher from Sweet Promise Press and some awesome sweet romance authors.

    In November I was in LAs Vegas for the 20Booksto50k writers conference and I met lots of amazing and inspiring indie authors there. I made some great connections with people I plan to work with and collaborate with moving forward as well as gaining lots of knowledge on how to better market my books – now I just need to implement it all. Finally in December Laura Chapman, a fellow chicklit author was in town and we spent a glorious day talking all things books.

    And I just worked out I read in excess of 200 books in 2018 – okay even I’m blown away by that!

    So what lies ahead for 2019?

    You may not know this about me but I do love a plan. I don’t always stick to my plan but I do like to start out with one. My plan for 2019 is to release a book a month between now and September. The books include for starters a Valentine Novella, No Time For Temptation for the No Brides Club – out January 25th! The last two Jewel Sisters and Courtside Romance novels will be next and then my Cinnamon Bay novel for the Coffee Talk on the Boardwalk series.

    I’m really excited about the year ahead. I’ve quite my day job and will be looking at new things work wise in 2019. Hopefully I’ll have a little more balance and creative energy.

    I’m keen to explore dictating my books so that I can walk and write – You can’t write a book a month, work, run a family and exercise any other way – or I can’t anyway.

    I’m looking to aim high in 2019. What are your plans? Goals? Aspirations?

    We started with a show tune so I figured we’d go out with one. Happy New Year. Thanks for reading and best wishes for a fabulous 2019.

     

  • Blog

    The Write Balance

    1/12/2018

    Vintage Scales
    Last weekend I was at a writing retreat with the gorgeous members of my writing group. It was about starting the year with some real momentum.

    We spent a lot of time on goal setting, pulling together the skeleton of a group project, doing some workshops and yes, even writing. It was awesome and inspiring – and it was also a heatwave and the mercury hit 112 degrees on Sunday but we soldiered on. Go us!

    Let me back-track a little. 2017 kind of kicked my butt.

    Here are some fun facts about me:
    – I released 6 books last year – about 300,000 words worth.
    – I worked 4 days a week for a small non-profit but my workplace was crazy stressful and the truth is I did 5 days a week in 4.I spend my days focusing on global poverty and disease, switching gears can be a challenge.
    – I’m in the sandwich generation. I have a teenage daughter who needs my attention and parents who increasingly rely on me for things both physical and emotional. My husband is lovely but he is the opposite of stressed.
    – I have a reasonable social life although it suffered last year, still I like people as long as I get downtime as well.
    – I have a couple of health conditions that make it hard for me to lose weight (hello PCOS and endometriosis), important that I don’t gain it and of course I gained a few kilos. I’ve always been skinny so this is not good for my morale at all.
    – Oh yeah, I have a spur in my neck and pretty limited movement there so I need to be mindful of that.
    – Oh yes and sleep is elusive as it is for so many.

    Thus I ended 2017 exhausted and feeling like I needed to move again.

    (I’m not saying any of that to complain. That’s what my life looks like. It’s a good life. It’s a fun life and it’s a full life but sometimes you do need to take stock).

    I have 8 projects planned for 2018 and I’m still in that job and if you know anything about the Australian education system add in that my gorgeous daughter is doing her HSC..oh yeah and she plans to go away for Uni (unusual in Australia) so my miracle baby and I have only one more year together. Another big year looms large.

    So back to the retreat – on Saturday morning my friend Pam and I drove to get some supplies and I explained my schedule to her…at my home desk at 7ish, off to work, home to juggle family, back to the home desk…so I said “Well I’m awake at 2am I could go to the gym then because I’m awake, but I’m nervous about being there alone.” We had a chuckle and yet when we did our goal setting it came up again. I was considering it.

    I came home and I really gave it some serious thought. I even discussed it with my husband.

    And then on Tuesday I stopped, looked in the mirror and thought. “Are you insane? You can’t go exercise at 2am, do your job and all this other stuff…What are you thinking?”

    What I was thinking was I have no other time. Still, I have to find time. 2am is not an option.
    So I went and got myself a new Fitbit. Step 1.
    I stocked my pantry with lots of healthy things – I can embrace the superfoods as long as no one mentions kale.
    And I bought a book Called “Two Minute Exercises”.
    Everyone has two minutes and every one has two minutes five times a day. That’s my theory and that’s my plan.

    This post is to keep my mildly accountable – I’ll come back in a month and let you know if I failed.

    Lots of writers are like me. We sit too much especially those of us with desk jobs as well, our bodies suffer and women, well lots of us put ourselves last. I know lots dictate their novel as they walk and I’m looking at that for April/May. For now, this is my plan.

    You might be like me and want to join me. You’d be very welcome.