• Blog

    Putting on your big girl’s panties aka getting on with it – WHATEVER IT IS

    1/26/2016

    Manly Wharf and FerryLast January I was a whirling dervish of momentum and productivity. This January, #notsomuch. I usually take January off but last year I began the #1000wordsaday challenge and managed to get some great forward motion.

    This year I don’t seem to have had that. It’s summer vacation here in Australia in January. That means sleeping in, long lunches, lazy days. It means no routine, catching up with friends and family. It means the kids are home, the television is on and as soon as you settle in you can be sure someone will want you.

    Of course much of that is just an excuse in my case to put off doing what I am not be that inclined to do anyway. The truth is I do have time to write a book blub, to edit a chapter or to write my #1000wordsaday.

    Maybe I just haven’t felt like it. Or maybe after achieving my many of my personal writing goals I just don’t have the motivation to create new ones. All of the goals I’ve failed to achieve have to do with commercial success. I don’t have control over that. All of the goals I have achieved relate to productivity, deadlines and content.

    It’s possible that after running on the treadmill with limited success I need to rest.

    Would I stay on a diet if I didn’t lose weight? Would I stay on the treadmill if I didn’t get fit? No, I wouldn’t. I’d stop and look at my methods and have a serious re-think, so maybe that’s why I haven’t been so productive this January.

    Maybe pulling up my big girl panties means stepping back and re-evaluating how I spend my time and energy so that writing is a joyous and creative experience again. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m giving myself permission to step back and think until February.

    And then, I guess we will see what shakes out.

  • Blog

    2015 a year in review

    12/30/2015

    Writing hits and misses in 2015
    Monique McDonell Books and Champagne Flat Lay2015 is drawing to a close and that means it’s time to reflect on the successes and failures. Goals met or not.

    I suppose one should start with the positive. If I was critiquing someone else that’s what I’d do. (Funny how we much prefer to focus on our own failures and are far kinder to others than ourselves. Or is that just me?)

    I set myself the objective of writing #1000wordsaday. In fact I set up a Facebook group to support other writers with the same objective. The Facebook group has been wonderfully supportive of each other and of me. Having to post the date and my goals has helped me focus.

    One thousand words a day is 365,000 words in a year. Did I achieve that? Actually I did. I wrote two novellas and five novels this year. I didn’t write every day but I had days I wrote more and I had two months where I did 50,000 word challenges so I definitely met my objective.

    I guess that’s my achievement for the year. And it’s not nothing to set a goal like that and meet it so I’m happy about that.
    Monique McDonell Upper Crust Series Banner
    See this pretty series of books above. My goal was to have them all released in 2015 and that certainly didn’t happen. In fact Book 4 which I hoped to release in November and then December will be out next week. And books five and six will be released by April. I’m behind for a variety of reasons and that’s disappointing but they are all written and that’s something.

    I wasn’t a great blogger this year either, I started well but I definitely lost steam so I hope to get a better schedule set up in 2016 to counter that. (I also didn’t do too well with my newsletters but I guess we can discuss that in my 2016 objectives post later this week.)

    The landscape definitely shifted out there this year. Some things definitely became harder for indie authors. Finding traction and visibility is definitely harder than it was for a lot of authors and finding the right balance in book promotion is challenging.

    It will be interesting to see what 2016 brings for me and the industry as a whole.

  • Blog

    Why write stories with a happy ending?

    12/14/2014

    Monique McDonell Books and Champagne
    It’s Monday and I usually do a Musical Monday post but as I went to write this the city of Sydney, my city, is under siege and so I thought I might write about something else.

    When I started writing lots of people were surprised that I decided to write chicklit and stories with an upbeat, romantic bent. Not because I’m not an upbeat person, I actually am, but because there is a huge perception, especially in more intellectual circles, that lighter fiction, happier fiction has less value and is less worthy. The truth is I know lots of people who don’t think my writing is worthy and others who think I’m wasting my talents (on the one hand it is nice they think I have talents, on the other hand that’s not exactly very supportive). In fact, some of those would cite the fact that I’ve written several books (if asked) as evidence of that, because one angst-ridden novel is far more valuable than several lighter ones (in their opinion).

    The truth is – and it has certainly taken me a long time to reach this point – I don’t care what they think, and furthermore I think they’re wrong. The world needs more joy, more hope and more optimism.

    Sadness begets sadness, joy begets joy.

    If some of the world’s great writers wrote stories with less abuse, less torture, less war maybe we would have book clubs sitting around discussing love, kindness and forgiveness. Maybe if there were more redemptive tales we’d feel that there was hope for redemption.

    Maybe if the nice guy came first every now and then maybe we’d be more likely to be nice in real life.

    I write stories with happy endings because I want everyone to have one. Do we all want to walk around thinking we’ll never find love, that good won’t triumph or that misery is living in the house next door? I don’t.

    It might seem naive or foolish to some but negative thinking, exclusion and greed are everywhere. I can turn on the television, go to the movies or peruse the best seller list and there they are. The world isn’t improving as a result.

    I want to focus on the power of friendship to improve your day, how a small flirtation can lift your spirits, how planning a grand adventure, a new start or a change can be a thing of wonder. Maybe I write stories like that because I need to believe that is true, or maybe I’m just lucky enough to have experienced that in my own life so I don’t think it’s wrong to expect it in novels.

    I’ll continue to write about and hope for happy endings not just for my characters but for people everywhere.

  • Blog

    Everything old is new again – or digging through my NaNoWriMo archives

    10/7/2014

    New Release Book Shelf in Book StoreSo it’s October now which means NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is a matter of weeks away.

    If you don’t know what National Novel Writing Month is a simple explanation is that people around the world commit to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

    Here is the post I did last November which outlines my tips for surviving the month.
    http://www.moniquemcdonellauthor.com/blog/preparing-for-nanowrimo-the-2014-edition

    In 2012 I did a series of blog posts helping you to prepare for NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t read them they cover topics such as like plotting, meal preparation, eliminating distractions and even exercise.

    They were:
    Part 1 – Plan Your Writing
    Part 2 – Plan Your Life for NaNoWriMo
    Part 3 – Plan the month of Writing – or tips to
    succeed.
    Part 4 – Plan to Care for your Body ( A Guest post from physiotherapist & author Terri Green)

    I don’t think I have a whole lot new to say on the topic.

    Here are some reasons I love NaNoWriMo.
    1. Writing is a pretty solitary activity – by participating in this event that writers from all over the globe you feel less alone. It gives you a sense of belonging. In fact your city or town probably has write-ins, drinks and other get together’s for people participating so you can even meet people in real life. (Imagine!)

    2. It’s a really good way to bash out a first draft. You’d be surprised how many books on the shelves have been written this way. No one expects a perfect manuscript at the end of the month but an imperfect one gives you something to work with that is far more welcoming than a blank page.

    3. If you are already a writer NaNoWriMo shows you just how much time you squander in a normal month. That half hour you usually describe as “not enough time to write” has a new value. It reminds you that if you use your time wisely you can get more writing done.

    4. Participating also shows you that lots of your regular reasons for not writing are just excuses – I don’t have space (all of a sudden you’re writing on the train or at the beach) or time or you’re blocked (You just write on through that during NaNoWriMo).

    5. It can bolster your spirits. Some years are better than others. Sometimes November hits and you’re left asking yourself “What the heck did I achieve this year?” If you complete NaNoWriMo you can say “Hey I wrote a novel this year.” Lots of people say they will write a novel one day.

    Maybe this November is your one day.

     

    Comments

    Sarah
    10/6/2014 10:10:38 pm

    I participated last year for the first time and found the challenge much harder to accomplish than I thought I would…that said, I’m likely doing it again next month…it’s rewarding, and the social aspect of group writing through word sprints is highly motivating. Few events support the “I can do that” motto quite like NaNo.
    Reply
    Monique
    10/26/2014 07:32:52 am

    I agree Sarah. I think it takes away a lot of that feeling of isolation we get as writers and it makes you feel like you have people cheering you on.

    Jackie Bouchard
    10/8/2014 12:47:32 am

    Great post! I’m undecided for this year… if I can get some pre-work done then I think I’ll go for it. I did NANO once before a few years back – that messy off-on-many-tangents draft eventually became my 2nd novel “Rescue Me, Maybe”, so would like to do it this time and get a jump on novel #4!
    Reply
    Monique
    10/26/2014 07:34:24 am

    I hope you manage to do it Jackie. A messy first draft is always easier to work with than no draft at all. That’s how I look at it. I have a couple of NaNo novels that were not redeemable but others the flow was right and they’ve been published after much revision.

    Anne R. Allen
    10/26/2014 03:31:08 am

    Great tips and links, Monique. I’ve linked to it on my blog today!
    Reply
    Monique
    10/26/2014 07:34:49 am

    Thanks Anne 🙂

    Sandie
    10/29/2014 10:39:37 pm

    I’ve not done NaNo, but I do like your reasons 3 and 4. I’m excellent at making excuses. Good luck this year. Sandie (also on the Northern Beaches)
    Reply
    Monique
    10/30/2014 09:07:00 am

    Hey Sandie
    I think NaNo is a great way to shake off the bad habits and excuses and sometimes establish some new ones. I also like the write-ins with other authors. Berkelouw Dee Why would be an excellent spot for one (On the northern beaches).

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    10/29/2014 11:53:28 pm

    I am so ready for NaNoWriMo this year. I can’t wait! Only problem – I’m moving my family of six into a new house on November 6th. Hhmm… think packing and unpacking a house will put a wrench in my plans? 🙂

    Thanks for these great links and tips. And thanks for linking this to the October Hump Day Blog Hop on my book blog. Perfect timing – as NaNoWriMo starts this Saturday. So exciting!
    Reply
    Monique
    10/30/2014 09:08:25 am

    I’m excited too…I usually have a bit more plot thought out than this time it will be fine.
    I think moving house is definitely going to make it harder…you may wish to escape into your writing to avoid the mayhem!! Thanks for having me on the Hump Day Blog Hop.

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    10/30/2014 09:31:10 am

    I always look forward to your links on the hop. I greatly appreciate your participation each month. Wonder how our November will go? Wishing you a productive NaNoWriMo, my friend!
    Monique
    10/30/2014 09:44:53 am

    Thanks Julie…I suspect our November posts will be a blend of angst and enthusiasm.

  • Blog

    Everything I know I learned on the Internet (well, most of it)

    9/9/2014

    Laptop and Coffee CupI wish that being an author was as easy as writing a book. That is not to say that writing a book is easy at all, because truthfully it isn’t. How many people have you heard say “I have a great idea for a book” or “I’m going to write a book one day”? How many of those people actually write the book? Not many.

    That’s not the point. If you want to write a book then you sit down and you write it. It might take you years, or even a lifetime, but in the 21st Century that is the easy part.

    These days you need to be a marketing expert to be an author, and it doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or indie, you still need some marketing chops.

    You need to understand branding, author platforms, SEO, blogging, Tumbler, Twitter and Facebook to name but a few things. You need to be able to set up a website and a mailing list and perhaps even a Street Team. And algorithms – they’re going to come up a lot in conversations. (If you’re anything like me you didn’t become an author because you’re into algebra so yeah, what is an algorithm again?) It’s a lot to take in.

    You may not use all this information but you need to absorb it at the outset so that you can then decide which bits are for you and which bits you are going to run away from screaming. You don’t have to do it all but you do probably need to choose what you do wisely.

     

    And here’s the really super annoying thing. Just when you think you have it sorted, the rules will change.

    Here’s an example. When I published my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels back in May 2012 it was quite a thing to get people to tag your book on Amazon and to like those tags. I’d tag it as chicklit or fantasy or horror and then others liked/agree that the book was indeed in that category. That helped people find your book (visibility) in the Amazon shop. Yeah, that system doesn’t exist anymore. Hours wasted.

    Want another one? I have around 850 people who have liked my Facebook Author Page. That did not happen overnight and it did not happen by accident. That took a whole strategy. That took hours of time. I’m going to presume that at least half those people might have wanted to see what I posted from time to time. In 2014 Facebook has moved the goalposts. Now a mere handful of those people who signed up and said they were interested in my books and ramblings about coffee see my posts. You probably don’t see them most of the time. Now Facebook wants me to pay to send this information to people. And even then it doesn’t reach most of them.

    How did I know I needed to tag books? How did I know I needed a Facebook Author page? The internet. And how did I learn I needed to relearn this stuff, the same way.

    When I published my first book as an indie author I knew exactly NO ONE in real life, who had gone the indie route. I was alone in a big, book-filled universe flailing about for answers. I did pretty well considering.

    I found Facebook Groups to join who have given me advice and helped promote my books. I got myself on Twitter and learned the dos and don’ts of negotiating that space. I have a blog and I know about Price Pulsing as well. (It sounds quite sexy but it’s not.) I have finally got my butt in gear and I have a newsletter mailing list – man I wish I’d gotten onto that before Facebook changed things up.

    It’s tiring for authors these days. Lots of us are sweet, introverted people who like to read and drink beverages of the hot and cold varieties while chatting about said books. We can’t so mostly, they’re just like me and they keep pushing forward and adapting to the changes.

    I’m glad the internet is there to help me. Being a writer isn’t the lonely and isolated pursuit of sitting in a garret it used to be. Though, I will say, despite the success stories you read about (again more than likely on the internet) most authors, both indie and traditional, still struggle to make money.

    Some days I would prefer a return to the old days and but most days I take off my luddite hat and embrace the new opportunities out there.

     

    Comments

    Jessica
    9/9/2014 04:34:18 pm

    Wow!! I feel ur pain! I’m so super new to the world of blogging and it’s a major learning curve. Even having groups and communities with other bloggers it’s still all just one huge learning experience. Getting likes, having followers, learning about how to get authors to find u or up find them! It’s really fun, but it’s so much work!

    I tell people, for someone who doesn’t work, I sure am busy all of the time. My family assumes I sit in my room do online shopping or just play all day LOL haha haha. If only. I still don’t know half of what I need to! SEO, that’s super new to me, algorithm NOW U got me scared!

    I do product reviews as well and constantly people want to know how many unique visitors do I have lol. Umm well, I had 3500 page views last month does that count? Lol. Great post!! 😍
    Reply
    Monique
    9/9/2014 05:00:22 pm

    I know it does take hours and then you think hmmmm, did I actually achieve anything today?

    SEO is confusing. I think I’m getting more used to that but maybe I’m just fooling myself…;)

    I think that counts btw Jessica.

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    9/24/2014 11:54:52 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more!

    I just finished listening to a podcast about this topic while driving home from a school carpool. On the one hand, it’s great that the traditional barriers to publishing have been lifted, but yes, that comes with a whole host of things authorpreneurs have to do and learn.

    I think Facebook’s decision (post IPO) to monetize their site through advertising was a HUGE mistake for them. Why in the heck would I work my tail off to get “likes” (which I always felt was like being back in high school) when only a small percentage of my “likes” will even see what I post? I often think about posting a good-bye post to my readers on Facebook to announce I’m shutting down my presence there to focus on other things…

    Thanks so much for linking this blog post to the Hump Day Blog Hop (always the last Wednesday of the month). I read with great interest and totally agree 100% with everything you said. Loved it.

    Cheers!
    Reply
    Monique
    9/27/2014 10:47:02 am

    The whole Facebook situation is ludicrous to me. It has definitely had a massive affect on my book sales. I’m just not reaching people that I used to but I’m certainly not paying to get likes for a page no one sees.

    Thanks for organising the Hump Day Blog, Julie 🙂

    Lori Schafer
    9/25/2014 02:01:30 am

    Sometimes I feel as though being a modern writer is bit like being a parent – a thousand jobs rolled into one. And while it’s beautiful and heartwarming watching your little one learn to walk and talk and ride a bike and one day even drive, in the meantime you still have to change them and feed them and wash their clothes and make them do their homework and yell at them for breaking curfew. Rewarding, but exhausting nonetheless.
    Reply
    Monique
    9/27/2014 10:47:54 am

    It does feel like that – every time I release a new “book baby” I hope it will be liked and accepted and find it’s people.

    Winfield
    9/27/2014 05:46:32 am

    I can understand how you feel. I’ve only seriously started taking writing in the past 2 years. Since I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, it is difficult for me to get myself out there where all I want to do is read, watch, write and other individual activities. The amount of stuff that an indie author has to do if they do go the self-publishing route has made me nervous… I’m just trying bit by bit, not trying to rush things.
    Reply
    Monique
    9/27/2014 10:49:14 am

    Winfield I think that traditionally published authors find themselves in similar situations now too. They do get support from publishers but smaller authors still need to do lots of the heavy lifting themselves.

  • Blog

    Two years of blogging and what have we learned? ( including Musical Monday)

    5/11/2014

    Dog on Pile of BooksIt is now just on two years since I started this blog. That’s pretty amazing. The last two years have been a wild ride for me. There are lots of things I would have done differently if I had known back in 2012 what I know now. (As I don’t own a time machine that’s just bad luck isn’t it?)

    I know people who regret their publishing journey and I don’t feel that way. There are certainly things I regret (choices, actions and of course lack of action) but not the whole journey.

    I thought I’d make this post not about the publishing but about the blogging. What have I gleaned over this time period?

    1. Consistently coming up with content is hard.

    2. Many more people read blogs than comment on them – you do very often feel as if you’re chit chatting to your self.

    3. You can lead people to your blog, you can even get them to comment but if you have something to sell (eg books in my case) that doesn’t mean they will do so.

    4. Lots of people who you think in the beginning will read your blog do not.

    5. Having regular memes (eg Musical Monday, Writers on Wednesday) makes it easier for you to generate consistent content.

    6. As a writer hosting other writers, reviews or industry people is a great way to create blog content and hopefully draw new audiences to your blog. I am sure this is true for cooking, mothering and fishing blogs as well. Be generous and welcoming to others and they will reciprocate.

    7. Even though you may not think your blog impacts your business (see point 3) when you don’t blog you will see a downturn in sales. (I do).

    8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

    9. Try and be consistent. Even if you only blog once a week do it regularly and like clockwork. (OK I don’t always do this but I have learned that I should 🙂 )

    Any other bloggers out there what do you think are the key rules for success?

    And for Musical Monday the lovely Norah Jones singing a song that was integral to the writing soundtrack and the story of my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels now celebrating it’s 2nd birthday.

     

    Comments

    louise
    5/11/2014 04:59:00 pm

    That’s honest, and sometimes number four is definitely true with me!
    I began blogging because I wanted to this author platform that everyone told me I needed, and somehow blogging has become part of my life. I love it, and I guess that helps.
    Reply
    Monique
    5/11/2014 05:15:45 pm

    I did the same Louise. I find there are times I love it and others it feels like just one more thing (as many things do on the writer’s journey). overall it’s a a great way to share who you are as a person/writer beyond your books.

    Jana
    5/11/2014 07:23:36 pm

    No. 5 sounds great 🙂
    My blog is new and I don’t post regularly, but I do believe that consistency is very important.
    Reply
    Monique
    5/11/2014 08:07:37 pm

    I think the best blogs are consistent (not citing mine as an example FYI)…lots of people I know only for one or two posts a week but they are for example every Monday and every Thursday and people know that and stop by then. Also it looks very efficient and organised.

    Courtney
    5/11/2014 09:58:57 pm

    I agree with consistency. People will keep coming back if you give them something interesting to read about and they know they’ll be something new and fresh up there the next time they visit. Happy Monday all!
    Reply
    Monique
    5/12/2014 08:55:09 am

    I agree Courtney. The challenge is to come up with that new content every time.

  • Blog

    What I’ve learned on my writing journey so far

    8/1/2013

    Alphabet Dating CoverMr Right and Other MongrelsHearts Afire

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This month I’m running a series where authors will be doing guest posts on what they’ve learned on their writing journey so far…so I thought I had better go first.

    1. First write a book and enjoy the process
    When you start out to write a book that’s your goal. Write that book. Finish that book. Get that book re-written and get it ready for it’s journey to publication. Honestly that’s the best bit, and the worst bit. I love writing a new book, I don’t lovely the editing and rewriting process at all. Still, it’s part of the process so if you can learn to enjoy the process I think you’re going to have a better journey.

    The reality is when you begin you are so focussed on finishing that first book you really aren’t thinking you’ll probably have to turn around and do it all again, but most people do.

    2. Branding is important
    It doesn’t matter whether you end up being an indie author or if you go the traditional route you need to understand branding. If you go to pitch at a conference you will need to know your brand. Do you write light-hearted women’s fiction, do you write erotica, books about angels? You need to know and you need to be able to explain it concisely. I know we all want to be unique and don’t want to be hampered by definitions but knowing what you write and who you are like and who your readers are is important for marketing and publishing whichever path you take.

    3. You are your brand – especially on the internet
    I put my three book covers up the top of this piece so you can see how I’ve really worked hard to create a uniform picture of who I am and what I write. Those covers don’t lead you to believe you will be reading anything gritty or anything that might keep you awake at night. That’s not who I am or what I write.

    Similarly, because I write light-hearted women’s fiction my blog posts, Facebook page and Twitter feed reflect that. My political opinion, my religious beliefs and the things I have a bee in my bonnet about have no place in my author brand.

    Know you’re brand. If you write crime fiction probably posts about unicorns are not what you need. These days I think branding is as much about knowing what to leave out as what to include.

    Also try to think about what makes you different within the space you write in and make that your point of difference.

    4. In the indie space (at least) one book is not enough.
    I wish I had better understood this better when I published Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I probably would have held off publication until my second book was ready. I would have had the first four covers ready to go before I began and I would have released my books more closely together.

    One book easily gets lost in the indie space and because the e-books are cheap readers often go straight to see what else you have on offer. If you have nothing they move on and often never make it back. It helps if you give them more than one offering.

    5. You will be amazed by who will support you – and by who won’t.
    When you release a book it is the most exciting thing ever. It’s also terrifying. You’ve spent years writing it and now it’s out there and people start sharing their opinions good and bad about your efforts.

    You will be blown away by people you hardly know who are excited for you. Amazing, gorgeous people will go out of their way to buy your book, tell their friends and promote your work. You’ll find authors and book reviewers who are eager to help spread the word.

    You will also be amazed by the friends who never download or buy your book(s) and certainly never read them. You won’t understand it, it will probably hurt your feelings at first and then, if you’re smart, you’ll let it go. They don’t get it or they don’t get you but you haven’t got time to them. You have plenty of people who have encouraged you and

    6. There is no one “one way”.
    There are many paths to both success and failure, you must find your own. Some people get a publishing deal and go global. Some people get a deal and never make back their advance. Some indie authors sell hundreds of books a day and some never sell a hundred books.

    You’ll advice. In the end you have to use your own best judgement.

  • Blog

    Because a year is a long time…

    5/10/2013

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels Mug and Postcards Promotional MaterialIt’s just on a year since my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels came out on Amazon. Having your first book out is both mind-numbingly terrifying and amazingly exciting.

    Putting yourself out there to be judged by the entire universe is a tough thing to do. Of course you’re going to make mistakes, of course some people won’t like your work, of course some people you thought would jump for joy over your achievement are ambivalent at best.

    Then of course there are the triumphs. The positive reviews, the people you meet on the journey, the unexpected person who does marvel at your efforts.

    Since then I’ve published two more books Hearts Afire and just this week Alphabet Dating so I guess that’s not bad going for a year. I had hoped to have my 4th book out by now but life isn’t that simple is it? Building Attraction will be out in July.

    Anyway because it’s a year since the release, because I’m planning the sequel and because it’s Mothers’ Day this weekend the e-book of Mr Right And Other Mongrels will be only 99c for the next few days!