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  • Blog

    How can it be June and other questions for the universe?

    6/3/2015

    Time flies whether you’re having fun or not, right?

    Miss Chick Lit Winner
    It feels like this is one of those blink and you miss it years. One minute it was mid may and then bam we’re into June. (June in Australia means winter and I am SOOOOOOOO not a fan of winter, hence the not having fun!)

    May was a busy month with #ChicklitMay, the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the release of Any Way You Dream It. But somehow I feel like I missed that last week entirely. Not sure what’s up with that. It’s a bit like raising a child. I’m sure my daughter is still meant to be ten and not fourteen.

    Anyway, I had that thing I have after the release of every book – a rather counter-intuitive slump. You’d think one would be euphoric but it never quite pans out that way for me. The last two books have had major editing hassles that sucked any joy I might have expected right out of the experience. If I ever manage the energy to send a book to an editor again it will be a personal triumph.

    I think I’m back in the saddle. I’m doing a #50k30D challenge with the Romance Writers of Australia and so far I’m flying along with book 6 in the Upper Crust Series (13,000 words as of half an hour ago). Of course that means book 3 will need to get to an editor (see above paragraph) before the others can follow. I hope to have the whole series out this year. Any Way You Fight It (book 3) will be out in July.

    I’m enjoying writing about this couple. Todd and Sarah have been bouncing around in my head for a while, waiting their turn. Todd and his brother Mike appear in Any Way You Slice It and Mike gets to tell his story in book 4.

    In other news Allegra placed in the Miss ChickLit pageant as Miss Retro Rad and Mr Right and Other Mongrels had it’s third birthday last week. That’s quite a milestone.

    Lots of guest posts and giveaways this month so make sure you keep stopping by the blog. Or sign up for my newsletter for more chances to win.

  • Blog

    Read a Romance – the romance of food

    5/25/2015

    The Romance of Food
    Pie FaceIs it just me or do so many of the great moments of life take place over a meal? Food weaves it’s way in and out of so many of our memories. The special birthday cake, the traditional holiday foods or even that catastrophic meal you made for a date are all part of our memories.

    I think it is the same for fictional characters, just as food brings us together in real life I think the same is true in books.

    I’ve noticed my fictional characters like to drink a lot of wine, meet a friend and download over a coffee or plan the perfect date or treat for someone they have their eye on. That’s pretty much how my friends in real life are too. I think it is realistic. Let’s face it food is a big part of our day and who we share it with defines us.

    Who we eat with and what we eat also tells us a lot about a character eating Chinese food alone is very different for one going for dim sum with a new boyfriend, fried chicken at a picnic is different to eating a two-piece feed of KFC on your way between jobs.

    I love books where food is almost a character in the story. I still remember reading Like Water for Chocolate when it was released and how the mood of the characters cooking the food affected the taste. It was so beautiful and so moving.

    I’m a keen cook in real life and I can always taste in the meal the amount of love and care I’ve put into it. You can taste the love in cooking, it’s a fact.

    In my latest series – The Upper Crust Series- the focus is on three friends all have some involvement in a chain of food trucks that make Australian style pies. (I as inspired by the Pie Face franchise, you may have seen in the US which began in Australia.) Day in day out they’re involved in the making and selling of the pies. Obviously food is what brings these girls together and it also makes them hyper-aware of the food they eat on dates and at parties. They’re all about the food and it certainly helps them to find love surrounded by the scents of warm fruit and pastry.

    1. Tell us about a magical moment you remember that had a food element to it.
    The year my husband and I got married we went to Europe. It was a shoe-string budget trip and so we at a lot of pasta, pizza and croissants. One night we were in Assisi and we went in to a tiny hole in the wall restaurant not expecting much. In one half of the restaurant the family sat watching I Dream of Genie on the television with Italian subtitles.

    There was no menu and there were no prices. A woman came and told us our choices and I chose fettucinni with a truffle sauce. At the next table were an older American couple and they were finishing up but they had half a plate green beans left and they insisted we take them “These are the best beans we’ve ever eaten. This is the best meal we’ve ever had. Please take them. We’re so full but we can’t throw them out.”

    We took the beans and ate them. They were amazing. My pasta was the best I’ve ever eaten. It was a strange and wonderful evening. And 20 years later we talk still remember it.

    2. You are stranded on a magical desert island for a year. You can only eat one meal every day for that year. You can have as much as you want of that meal, but that’s the only thing you get to eat. What do you choose?
    That is a hard question. I strongly suspect if left to my own devices I would probably live on homemade popcorn and red wine. (Best I don’t live alone for a while). It’s hot on the island I guess so I’m going to start with coconut shrimp, I’ll have butter chicken and rice for my main and a cheese plate for dessert. And the red wine. If I get a snack I’ll have Smiths Salt and Vinegar Chips…they’re my crack!

    3. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Why?
    In the world? That’s a big question. I live in Sydney, Australia and there are a lot of fine restaurants here. I’m going to have to choose one by the water and it will have to serve seafood I think.
    I’m a firm believer that best restaurant in the world won’t be amazing if the company is bad. I’m going to choose the Manly Wharf Hotel (and do my bit for Sydney tourism). This hotel/bar/restaurant features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. It is right where you step off the Manly Ferry from Sydney. It’s a popular place to meet friends for a drink, to take a seat if you are a tourist or to enjoy a quiet ale. On weekend nights it’s a place to hand out and maybe meet someone new.

    It brings together lots of elements I love in a restaurant. The food is okay but if you want have a long lunch with friends or get to know someone while the water laps the pier and people kayak of paddle-board past then you couldn’t pick a better place.
    Manly Wharf - Wharf Bar
    Outdoor dining at The Manly Wharf Hotel

  • Blog

    Any Way You Dream It – release day!!

    5/25/2015

    Release day for a new book – always a great feeling.
    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original Cover
    It’s already May 26 in some parts of the world (good morning Australia, hello New Zealand) which means that Any Way You Dream It is available right now for some.

    Amazon US:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XBFAUWO
    Amazon Australia: http://www.amazon.com.au/Any-Way-You-Dream-Upper-ebook/dp/B00XBFAUWO

    And then the clock strikes midnight around the world and it magically appears on the e-readers of those that pre-purchased and it is then available everywhere.

    What does that mean to me?

    It means in the past months I:
    – wrote a first draft
    – had a cover designed
    – put it down and revised it and then revised it again
    – sent it to BETA readers who told me what they did and didn’t like
    – made their changes
    – sent it to someone else to read through it for a story edit
    – made those changes
    – sent it to an editor (we had a major disaster this time which set me back ten days)
    – sent it to the editor again
    – waited
    – made the final edits
    – sent it to a formatter who loaded it up for release
    – booked a blog tour
    – reached out to people for review and promotional opportunities
    – waited

    People think that indie authors skip steps, which isn’t true. In many cases it just means we’re just doing all that all by ourselves. It’s kind of a lonely process. In fact as I type this I am alone. Where’s the balloons? The champagne? They’re not in sight – I will go get myself a coffee shortly.

    It’s a bit like the day your child starts kindergarten…lots of hard work to get them ready and then you’re all alone, wondering how they’re doing.

    So if you know any authors indie or otherwise here are some tips.
    Tips for supporting an author when they release a book

    1. Acknowledge their new book -call, email, comment on their Facebook page.
    2. Buy their book and let them know you did. (Take a photo and if it is a paperback take the photo in the store).
    3. Let people know you have a friend who has just written a book – either on your Facebook page or in real life.
    4. Leave them a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc – you have no idea how much that means.
    5. Remember it doesn’t matter if it is their first book or their tenth – to them it is still exciting.

  • Blog

    #ChickLitMay and new releases

    5/18/2015

    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverIt’s been busy here on the blog with #ChickLitMay. I feel like I haven’t done much updating on the writing or my books. If you get my newsletter you know that Any Way You Dream It is out on May 26th and is already available for pre-order.

    What’s pre-order? That means you buy it in advance and it magically appears on your reading device on release day.

    You might want to try it. Here is the blurb.

    Any Way You Dream It – An Upper Crust Novel – Book 2.

    Sometimes when life throws you lemons, you create a fake fiancé. That’s exactly what Lucy does when her high school nemesis calls. She didn’t mean to lie. Really, she didn’t. But with nowhere to live and a car that has just decided to die on her, the thought of attending the reunion alone is one she can’t contemplate.

    Cherie thinks arrogant, wealthy and way too handsome Chase is the answer to her friend’s dilemma and for reasons Lucy can’t fathom, Chase agrees. The man is too good to be true – he fixes her car, takes her to stay at his place – more castle than house – and seems to find her fascinating.

    Life hasn’t been easy for Lucy and she has a hard time accepting anyone would believe Chase would be with her. Still, he turns out to be the perfect choice and in the month leading up to the reunion makes himself an indispensable part of her life, which may be the biggest problem of all.

    Lucy knows life is not a fairy tale – she’s living above her place of work, her sister has run off leaving her with three kids and, when the weekend reunion begins, she has to go back to a town where her greatest humiliations took place.

    Will her ‘romance’ with Chase be turn out to be the answer to her dreams or will the whole sham turn into just another nightmare?
    ***
    I need to let you know the winner of the #MIssChickLIt pageant give away was….drum roll… Ariel Deltoro .It was her entry on Rachel L. Hamm’s site that got her the win. Just goes to show that multiple entries is the way to go!

    Don’t forget to enter to win 19 #chicklit books….on yesterday’s blog post.

  • Blog

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

    5/5/2015

    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
    Comments

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

    Wow, what an awesome list of achievements! Well done!!
    Reply
    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.
    Reply
    Monique
    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.
    Reply
    Monique
    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!
    Reply
    Monique
    5/6/2015 08:43:41 am

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

  • Blog

    What I’ve learned writing a series and #MusicalMonday (It’s only the beginning)

    4/27/2015

    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverBook two of my Upper Crust Series – Any Way You Dream It is now with the editor. Yes, I know, those of you who actually read my blog and read my books know it should have happened a while ago, but it has finally gone.

    “Why the delay?” I hear you cry.
    “Good question.” I reply.

    The truth is apparently I am really bad at writing BOOK TWO in a series. Book one is fine and book three is fine. I’ve written two series now (one under a pen name) and I’ve experienced the same issue with both. The whole series has stalled because of Book 2.

    I don’t exactly know why that is. Well, I do, I think in my effort to make the main character in that book different from the main character in the first book in the series I tie myself in knots.

    Additionally, I think book two brings about fear of success (what if everyone loves it?) and fear of failure (what if everyone hates it?) into play in a strange and disturbing way. By the third book I seem to have pushed through it and the interplay between the characters carries me through. By then I’m one of the gang (I’m probably Thelma not Daphne but I’m in the gang) and there is a gang, a group of characters I know well and enjoy spending time with.

    At least now we know. In the Upper Crust Series the good news Any Way You Fight It, Book 3 is done and will be released quickly after the second. Books four and five are also nearly done.

    I really love Chase, the hero in Any Way You Dream It and Lucy is a girl who deserves a happily ever after (HEA) so I think you’ll love the book like I do. (And Six books in the series will have been released by the end of this year, so I really hope you do).

    Now let’s turn up the music because it is Monday.

    I love this song and have since I heard it back in the olden days…it’s a great love song and it features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels…my first book baby.

    Comments

    Laurie Baxter
    4/29/2015 11:06:57 am

    Ooh, yay! Very excited to hear this! I really enjoyed book one. 🙂

    Sandie Docker
    4/30/2015 07:59:13 pm

    The curse of the second book!!! But to have 6 box released by the end of this year – yay you!
    Reply

  • Blog

    Crossed the 100,000 mark in my #1000wordaday challenge this #MusicalMonday

    4/20/2015

    100,500 / 365,000 words.
    I do love a challenge

    It is a strange thing because I’m basically not a very competitive person. I compete with myself but not with others.

    So if you want to beat me there’s every chance I’m going to let you. I hate team sports because the competition makes anxious. I don’t even like to watch team sports because I feel like the worst player on the team is beating themself up and feeling embarrassed.

    As the parent of a child who quite enjoys sports I have come to learn that the worst player on the team often believes themselves to be a star. I’ve watched children who can barely catch correct the play of other children on the netball court,

    In fact I would go so far as to say this has been one of my great failings in life. If you say “I’m better at this than you”, I will probably believe you. I will bow out of the race and let you have it. I have some wonderful examples I could share but on the off-chance I offend someone I shall refrain.

    However, if I set myself a challenge, I will usually embrace it.

    It’s why being self-employed works for me. It’s why I enjoy #NaNoWriMo and it’s why the #1000wordsaday challenge I started this year is a good one for me. I’m doing it with others but I’m running my own race.

    So today I did a little happy dance when I crossed that milestone.

    Meanwhile Book 2 in the UpperCrust series came back from the last reader before it goes to the editor this week. She suggested some changes which I’ll be making in the next few days. Which means a mid-May release!

    Book 3 is out with the BETA readers and I’m hoping to start the re-write on it next week.

    And as part of the #1000wordsaday challenge I’m working on Books 4 and 5. Lots to do.

    Monique McDonell Upper Crust Series Banner
    And finally for Musical Monday here is a song by Vance Joy with reminds me of Chloe and Tom on Book 5 (which has no name yet).

    In fact it is these lines that remind me of these two. “I could easily lose my mind, the way you kiss me will work each time”.

  • Blog

    We are all busy so you can stop telling everyone now!

    4/13/2015

    Any Way You Slice It Mug and BookWHY ANNOUNCING HOW BUSY YOU ARE IS REDUNDANT
    I started this blog post and I was going to write about the ways in which routine, especially for a writer, can help counter all the busy in our lives but then my mind wandered off.
    ***

    I know we all spend a lot of time these days telling each other how busy we are.

    In fact, if I one more person tells me how busy they are I may scream. Not because they’re not busy but because the truth is most people are busy. (I might even be busy…maybe, probably not, but maybe…)

    If you have a job, elderly parents, kids, a partner, friends, you volunteer, you play a sport, you cook, you go the the gym, you have a hobby, you’re in a bookclub or any combination of those things you are more than likely busy. So I think that pretty much covers most people. We’re all busy.

    (There are also different types of busy – good, happy, I’m planning to climb Everest busy is not the same as bad, scary, I think I’m losing my job and my kid is sick busy. The first is exciting and invigorating and really you shouldn’t complain. The second type is not what I’m talking about here AT ALL. The first is made up of adrenalin and interesting choices and the second is a hard slog where you need to reach out for support because you need some of the other busy people to make some time and help you even if they have to skip bookclub or a yoga class.)

    There are definitely times some people are more busy than others – five kids under five and you are busy, finding elder care for parents and you’re busy, a major work event the week before Christmas and you are busy – all those things at once and well, you’re crazy busy.

    Some people however are always busy and often so busy telling you that, they barely have time to stop and ask you about your life.

    So when I say “please don’t tell me you’re bus”y I mean the day to day life stuff that we all have it’s just life. It’s the life you’ve chosen to have.

    When you tell someone “I’m so busy” you’re really saying. “I’m very important.”

    Or when you say “I’m too busy to volunteer/read a book/join a gym” , which no doubt your companion has just announced that they do, well, what you are really saying is either:

    a) I’m busy doing things that are important to me and that thing you do has little or no value to me (or less value than the things I choose to do). (And that is actually fine…I would rather read than go to a gym any day…busy or not…and I know loads of people who are the opposite.)
    or
    b) I really feel bad I’m not doing that thing, I would kind of like to, so I’ll put the fact that you are doing it down.

    “I’m so busy” as an excuse every time you see someone makes them feel like they should thank you for finding time for them. It also seems to impy you think they aren’t busy. They may in fact just juggle things better, or not tell you about the many things on their plate because you’re too busy to listen, return a phone call or heck even meet up.

    You know that expression “If you want something done give it to a busy person?” Chances are someone with far more on their plate than you has the time to do that thing you can’t. Just don’t tell them how busy you are as the reason you can’t do it.

    ***
    My post on the power of routine will appear later in the week.

  • Blog

    A writer’s update on #Musical Monday

    3/29/2015

    Alphabet Dating - Monique McDonell - 2015 CoverNew covers, #99cent sales and social media
    It looks like I haven’t managed to do any blogging for the last two weeks. I’ve had a few rather craptastic things happen which have meant my attention has been pulled in a few directions and as they say, something has to give.

    Still, I haven’t been entirely stagnant.

    * The lovely Scarlett Rutgers redesigned the cover for Alphabet Dating for me. (See Left). I just never loved the old cover the way I loved my other illustrated covers so I thought I’d give it a face-lift. I think she’s done a really great job of capturing the mood of the story.

    To celebrate Alphabet Dating is currently on sale for #99cents so if you haven’t got a copy now is a great time to do so. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG

    * I have kept up with my 2015 #1000wordsaday and my total now sits at 78,000 words which all in all I am very happy with. I’ve almost finished the first draft of Book 4 in the Upper Crust Series.

    *Upper Crust Series – Book 2 is back from my BETA readers and I spent today working through Book 3 to send it off. I’m still on track to release Book 2 /Any Way You Dream It for the end of April.

    * I had a great time on the weekend as one of the hosts of the March Madness ChickLit Style Party on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder about the so-called “social” aspects of social media but I feel like I got to connect to some great readers at that event, and hopefully they felt the same way.

    So I guess although my blog has been a little bit quiet I have been staying busy enough.

    And now for Musical Monday – a song that sums up the last few weeks and where I am in my life. This song is an old friend – Landslide the Dixie Chicks version.

  • Blog

    Why I wrote Any Way You Slice It – or the girl gets the guy not the reverse

    3/5/2015

    Any Way You Slice It - Upper Crust Novel - Monique McDonell - Original CoverI was talking to a writer friend this week who BETA read the second book in my Upper Crust Series, Any Way You Dream It (due out April). We were discussing the book series and I was explaining to her how I came to write it.

    I realised that I hadn’t actually shared the impetus here so I thought I would do that now.

    About this time last year I downloaded a novel by a very successful romance author whose novels include marriages of convenience in them. Her books do hugely well, she’s an international best seller and she writes really well. I admire her work, her output and her career a lot. ( I read a lot of successful authors books sometimes for the stories and often to see if I can find the keys to the treasure chest of success.)

    So I sat up and read one book in her series while my husband lay beside me snoring in a rather un-melodious way. (Yep I do paint a pretty picture of marital bliss, don’t I?) I thought the book was well written (and I have read others in the series since then) but I kind of wanted to throw the book across the room.

    “Why Monique?” I hear you cry. “Why?”

    These books took smart, successful business women and had them agreeing to arranged marriages with smarter, more successful businessmen – preferably billionaires. Of course the woman had a choice in the books and the ‘marriage of convenience’ is a well-known romance trope and I know it is fantasy, but it annoyed me.

    “Why?” Simple, it still seemed to me the guys were getting the better end of the deal and the women tended to need a little bit of rescuing. It wasn’t simply a business translation, they needed to save a sick relative or a family business or someone else’s reputation. These were nice, smart girls but they weren’t girls with a lot of options.

    So, I decided to write a ‘marriage of convenience’ story where ultimately it was the woman seeking the partner and yes there has to be quid pro quo for these relationships to work but I didn’t want there to be a massive power imbalance.

    In Any Way You Slice It, Piper needs to be married to stay in America because her successful business is really taking off. Aaron who offers to marry her needs something too, but really this is Piper’s story, it’s about our heroine getting what she wants, without compromising herself along the way. Well, that was what I set out to do with this book.

    I guess only the readers can decide if that worked or not.