• Blog

    Three years since my first blog post – look how far I’ve come. (An uncharacteristically self-congratulatory blog post)


    Mr Right and Other MongrelsI was talking to my mother today and I said I’d been at this blogging and self-publishing game for three years. I came on here to check and May 5th is the birthday of this blog. So three years exactly.

    I remember being terrified and excited and overwhelmed – not much has changed there.

    That month – May 2012 – I was bravely preparing to self-publish my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know a single person in real life who had uploaded a work of fiction to sell online. I knew almost no one (certainly here in Australia) with an e-reader. I knew nothing.

    What a gift ignorance can be.

    If I knew how much I didn’t know I probably wouldn’t have jumped off the cliff. Ask any indie author and they will talk about what a steep learning curve it is. Not only that just when you think you know what you’re doing the rules change. I’ve had to unlearn and relearn things many times in the last few years.

    Forget what you knew yesterday – it’s wrong today.

    I often think “Monique, you lazy chick. You’re just not doing enough.” (I’m not that kind to myself, I’m a little judgmental, not so great at celebrating the fabulous.)

    So here is what I have achieved in three years:

    – I’ve written and published six full length novels and one novella under two names.
    – I’ve contributed to two charity anthologies and had a piece in a non-fiction publication.
    – I’ve had a novel included in an international author box-set.
    – I’ve written another five novels that will be released this year.
    – I’ve had over 100,000 copies of my novels downloaded (sadly they haven’t all been paid for but 100,000 plus people have a copy of my books).
    – I’ve hosted countless authors on my blog and kept it running for three years.
    – I’ve handled all my own marketing and PR.
    – I’ve hired cover designers, editors and book formatters to help make my books look good.

    – I’ve guest blogged all over the internet.
    – I’ve done signings and author talks, both of which terrify me.
    – I’ve made hundreds of new friends, both readers and writers.
    – I’ve given loads of advice and support to authors looking to head down this path.
    – I’ve kept going when I wanted to quit.

    I’ve done this on my own, I certainly haven’t done it all right. Some things I’ve done I would undo. Some day, some moments, some choices would be best erased.

    Still, today I choose to focus on the positive. The list of what I have achieved looks pretty good to me right now.

    If you know another author like me who is alone, starting out and fumbling in the dark then – be kind to them. They probably don’t talk about their journey with you because they are pretty sure you’re not that interested but listen to them, support them, buy their books, leave them reviews…it does matter, at least to them.

    Monique McDonell Upper Crust Series Banner

    Kerrie Paterson
    5/5/2015 04:23:07 pm

    Wow, what an awesome list of achievements! Well done!!
    Monique McDonell
    5/5/2015 04:32:39 pm

    Thanks Kerrie, I think as writers we sometimes forget to look at what we’ve achieved. 🙂

    lily malone
    5/5/2015 04:41:15 pm

    I’m with Kerrie – well done Monique. I’ve read Hearts Afire of yours and I really enjoyed it.
    5/5/2015 05:53:37 pm

    Thanks Lily…I know your output has been amazing these last few years. I can hardly keep up!

    Pamela Cook
    5/5/2015 05:10:47 pm

    Nice to see you acknowledging your achievements Monique. And they are massive! You constantly inspire me with your ever increasing word counts, brilliant networking skills and fabulous PR abilities. Not to mention the fun books you write and keep us all entertained with. And the support you give to all your writing buddies, including me. I know it’s been tough at times but hang in there – I’m sure you’ll reap the best is yet to come.
    5/5/2015 05:54:31 pm

    Thanks Pam…I appreciate having you in my corner, reading my work, taking my calls and listening to me moan. I could not have kept going without you.

    Deb Nam-Krane
    5/5/2015 09:59:15 pm

    Happy anniversary, congratulations and good job!
    5/6/2015 08:43:41 am

    Thanks Deb…you’ve been a great supporter on my journey.

  • Blog

    What I’ve Learned on My writing Journey – Pamela Cook


    Blackwattle Lake - CoverToday in the continuing series on What I’ve Learned on My Writing Journey I have Pamela Cook author of Blakwattle Lake and the upcoming release Essie’s Way.

    Three Things I’ve Learnt On My Writing Journey –
    Pamela Cook

    As a recently published author I’m pretty new to this writing game and for the last eighteen months I’ve been on a huge learning curve so the topic of this blog post is very apt.

    Thanks Monique! I sat down and brainstormed the things I’ve learnt on my writing journey and came up with a very long list. Some of these things I’ve learnt over a much longer period of time – I’d been writing for 12 years before being published but I’ve decided to focus on three things I’ve learnt since my debut novel was released last December.

    1. Write The First Draft Fast

    I spent over five years on one novel, much of which was spent writing sections and revising them over and over rather than moving forward. That novel taught me a huge amount about the craft of writing – description, word choice, sentence structure and the like. But it taught me very little about plot and structure. The two subsequent novels were written very quickly, one as a NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in a month) and the other over three months. In both cases I forced myself to keep going with the story, resisted the urge to re-read or revise and in both cases the story unfolded organically and the structure seemed to come a lot more easily. Both of those novels were accepted for publication.

    Stop-start drafting allows your inner critic to whisper insidiously in your ear. You find yourself second-guessing the quality of your writing and the direction of your story. It may even nag you enough to block your writing altogether.

    2. Whether Your Book Is Published Or Not Is Largely About The Market and Not Necessarily About The Quality Of Your Writing

    I have read some amazing manuscripts – beautifully written, wonderful characterization, interesting plot – a whole variety of stories written by writing buddies. Yet sadly many of them have been rejected by publishers. The reality is that it’s all about the market. Even if a publisher loves a manuscript the bottom line is that it has to be approved by the marketing department. Much depends on popular taste at the time, what other titles the publishing house already has out there and how many copies they think it will be possible to sell. If your book has a strong commercial flavour it may be easier to get it over the line than if it is highly literary. Of course literary works are still sought after but it may take longer to find the right home for such a work. In my own case I just happened to write a novel set in the country which had some romantic elements right around the time the Rural Romance genre was starting to boom. Fortunately for me there was already a market out there for the type of book I’d written which made it that much easier for my manuscript to be picked up. Ultimately you need to write what comes naturally and what you love to write. And now there’s always the option of self publishing if a more traditional deal becomes hard to find.

    3. Hard Work and Perseverance Trump Talent

    I know some will disagree with this belief but after my own experience, and observing the writing journeys of many others I’m sticking by it. Of course there are some writers out there who are born with a natural flair. All they have to do is put pen to paper and the words flow. But that doesn’t guarantee publication. If having your book published is your ultimate goal you need to write, rewrite and then write some more. This will take hours, days and years of your life and you need to be prepared to devote a great deal of time to your writing. Discipline, time management and the ability to say no are all essential requirements if you are aiming for publication. Even the most gifted writers need to put in the hours.

    Those of us who are lesser mortals may have to work a little harder at perfecting our craft but it is the writers who keep at it, who take rejection in their stride and learn from it, and who are determined to find readers – whether through traditional or indie channels – who will be the most successful.

    There’s quite a few other things I’ve learned – and continue to learn – on my writing journey. I’ll be blogging about them in the future. But for now, happy writing, and keep at it.

    Pamela’s books are published by Hachette Australia:

    You can find Pam on her website:

    On Facebook


    Jennie Jones
    8/28/2013 11:53:30 pm

    Monique – what a wonderful blog you have. I had the pleasure of meeting Pamela recently and chatting about writing so it’s wonderful to read her take here. I have to say, 1) So true – but so hard to write the first draft fast! 2) I agree, no matter how hard it is to bear, but these days, it’s becoming easier for those who truly yearn beyond belief to write, to become published. 3) Yes! That’s my view too. Perseverance will out, eventually. It has to, because perseverance means a writer continues to learn and learn and learn … and therefore get better and better and better. Thank you, ladies for an inspirational post.
    8/29/2013 08:34:08 am

    Thanks for stopping by Jennie! You did such a great job as MC at the #RWAus2103.

    It is solid advice isn’t it? Hard to apply but good to remember 🙂

    Jenn J McLeod | House for all Seasons
    8/29/2013 09:19:09 pm

    Oh yeah! I so agree. What a year!

  • Blog

    Bits and pieces for November 1st


    Hearts AfireI’m starting NaNoWriMo today and my best strategy for success is to go hard and go early so this blog post will be a bit cobbled together and bitsy.

    Hearts Afire has been out for a week now. If you haven’t bought a copy now is a good time to do so…why? Well, in my opinion there is no bad time to do so. It’s had a great first week so if you have it already I thank you. If you’re the reviewing type you might like to consider giving it a review.

    Don’t forget my first baby Mr Right and Other Mongrels is out there as well.

    One of my blog posts is included in this month’s Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies! Take a look! http://ow.ly/eLmAP

    Yesterday I was also featured on the lovely Imelda Evan’s blog please stop by!

    And finally for all those people out there doing NaNoWriMo a little song to cheer them up.