• Blog

    How to get unstuck in 2016 – stop being the glue


    Coffee and NotebookA new year, a new notebook.

    Some people hate the blank page, but not me. In life, I love a clean slate and as a writer there’s nothing I like more than starting a new project. I know writers that find all that white space staring back at them scary, but not me. I love it.

    I have a girlfriend who says she’s not a finisher and I think I’m the same. We love to start new things. We love the project. Writing that report at the end, not so much. The handover to the client, not really. Formatting and getting the book out, not exactly.

    I love a new project and I love a new notebook. I get the same on each year in a different colour and I’m on my fourth version of the ones I love now (not the one in the photo). One for every year in a rainbow of colours. They’re a record of my writing life and my life in general – it’s a shame I have the handwriting of a serial killer and no one else will ever decipher them. The fresh notebook symbolizes a new opportunity, a chance to write things anew

    If only it were that easy in life.

    2015 wasn’t a great year for me. I’ll be honest with you it was pretty blah. Flat, flat is probably the best word. (Please let me note I know I’m an incredibly lucky person. I live in a safe and beautiful country and I happen to live in a spectacular part of it. Nothing bad happened to me or my family this year for which I’m extraordinarily grateful.)

    Still, it was a year of waiting, or marking time. Not much new happened. It felt stagnant. I felt flat.

    And here’s the really interesting thing about that, from a personal point of view, no one much noticed. I was quite lonely this year, melancholy for some of it and frustrated for much of it. And no one much noticed.

    There are a couple of reasons for that beyond people having busy all-consuming lives.

    We all play roles in life that’s a fact. There’s a reason there are archetypes and stereotypes in stories because we recognise those people. We know them, heck, we are them. One role I’ve played for a long time is I’m the go-to girl. If you have a problem I’m the one you call. I listen, I help, I step up. People like that.

    Most of us have that person or if we’re lucky, several in our lives. Those people are the glue. They hold together families, friendship groups, workplaces. They babysit, they make you food, they call and ask about your sick mother or your job interview or your broken heart.

    It’s amazing however, how little it works in reverse. Somehow you can be the go to girl but not be the come to girl. (Mon, what does that even mean?) It means people don’t come to me to check on me. They assume I’m fine. They don’t ask otherwise, they just roll with that assumption because it the easy way. First of all they genuinely want to believe I’m happy and cruising along and secondly if they think that then they don’t have to do anything.

    And some of that is my fault as well.

    “She’ll reach out if she needs me.” Yeah, no she won’t. Or probably she won’t. Some people aren’t wired that way and if it takes you three days to call back, if you don’t return texts, if you get on the phone or sit down at lunch and start talking about your own drama the go-to girl is wired to assume your needs are greater.

    So there’s that. So if you have a go-to girl or guy in your life I suggest you make 2016 the year you check up on them just a little. Instigate the contact, it can’t hurt after all.

    And then there’s the second reason – social media with all it’s smoke and mirrors. Liking someone’s Facebook post is not the same as sending them a text. And texting, while convenient, is no substitute for an actual phone call. We all rely on these quick and the easy tools to check in with people way too much – I do too. (If you know me you know I love Facebook and I quite like Instagram as well I’m not dissing them.) We see a photo of someone and their dog or their hamburger and we feel connected to them, as if we know what their day was like. We don’t see the mess in the kitchen or the fight they had with their teenager or their crisis of confidence. Of course none of us post pictures of that stuff.

    That means however that we’re basing our relationships on assumptions and not reality. We have the illusion of connection without the real deal.

    So what does this mean for me? I guess it means in 2016 I have to stop being the glue. I have to stop helping other people to hold it together at the expense of my own needs. Hence the title of this post, I need to stop being the glue to get unstuck.

    So time to open life’s new notebook – the new year – and get writing my own story in a more interesting way.

    (If you’re reading this and you know me for real, in the real non-cyber world. This is a blog post about me and my reflections on the year gone and the year ahead – it’s not about you or how I feel about you.)


    Pamela Cook
    12/31/2015 10:08:39 pm

    A very honest post Mon. You are so right about people hiding their real feelings and life situations. We all do it. And you are so right about social media being a superficial connection. I think we all rely on it now because it is easier and quicker but it doesn’t provide the depth of connection a phone call or face to face catch up does. After my experiences in 2015 I’ve promised myself to make more effort in the ways I connect with friends and family – more meaningful conversations and taking more time to be together. Enjoy your new notebooks and I hope 2016 is a better year for you. x
    1/1/2016 02:22:42 am

    As you know I love me some social media Pam. I just think we need not to rely on it as our only point of contact with the important people in our lives…and we all do it. A new year is a good time to reflect on these things.

  • Blog

    Sometimes taking your own advice is the best advice of all


    Writing Laptop and NotebookI’ve been at this writing game a while now and I’ve managed to get a book or two published. In order to do that you have to learn a few lessons along the way, even if you’re a really slow learner you publish eight books and you will learn a thing or two.

    (Some of the things you learn are more about yourself and your temperament than anything else, maybe those are the hardest lessons of all.)

    As a result of hanging in there so long people do sometimes ask for my advice on all manner of things from how I structure my time, how do I get my ideas, how do I manage my social media…lots of different things about the writing life…and I try and give practical answers.

    There’s a lot of aery fairy information out there that isn’t super helpful. Telling someone to find their muse for example, what does that even mean? And where should they look for her? And when they find her, then what, do you offer her a warm beverage?

    I try to give people more practical advice for while I have the soul of a fairy godmother and would love everyone to be able to make three wishes and have them come true, in life I’m a fairly practical soul. My advice is practical usually and actionable.

    People often respond with “Oh that’s such a great idea!” so I figure some of what I tell them is useful.

    I woke up this morning with a lot of things to do and realised that I probably haven’t been taking my own advice all that much in the latter half of October. Now I’m in a pickle I could have avoided. Don’t you HATE that? I know what to do.

    Here’s an example. When people ask what is the most important thing about social media I always tell them, be consistent. Yet have I written a blog post in the last 10 days? No. My blog posts load across the social media platforms so I get many bites at the cherry for one task…I explain this to people several times a week…yet I have ignored my own advice.

    I’ve had two books on promotion this week. Did I send a mail out to my subscribers? No I did not.

    You get the idea. I know this stuff, I tell other people to do it and I haven’t done it.

    There a couple of reasons – well maybe lame excuses for this – one being I always forget that I feel a bit flat the week of so after I launch a book…the truth is unless your book goes gang-busters this is pretty common. It’s a huge deal to write a book, get it edited and formatted and published. Doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally published or indie – that’s a whole lot of work. The number of people who tell you how happy for you is high, the number who buy your book or leave you a review is way lower and that always stings a little. It can take a few days to shake that off.

    The real reason I haven’t done all the things I meant to was I didn’t have an up to date to-do list. And there’s no excuse for that. The truth is without a list stuff gets forgotten or shoved aside and things just don’t happen. I know this. I’ve essentially worked alone running a small business for fifteen years. It’s not rocket science.

    There are lots of great programs and apps you can do all this organisation on but I like the feeling of crossing that line of chicken scrawl off in my notebook. (I do use the apps as well).

    So here’s my advice…follow your own advice, sometimes that’s the best advice of all.

    And as part of my blog tour for Any Way You Slice It – I’m running a competition to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Please enter below.

  • Blog

    I only have five minutes, I can’t do anything – oh yes you can!


    5 things any writer can do if they only have 5 minutes
    Facebook Screenshot
    We are all time poor and as writers we often struggle to find balance between the writing, the promotion, the social media and our real lives.
    “I don’t have enough time” is almost a mantra we use in modern society. It’s true that if you want to write, a five minute interval really isn’t much use, but what about all the other stuff? What about the horrible nitty-gritty little jobs we put off until we have a long, long list we can’t even stand looking at. Lots of those things are simple five minute jobs.

    1. Create a social media post

    The truth is it really does only take 5 minutes to put a post on Facebook. You can ask a question and add a photo (I just did the one above) and if you have it set up correctly it will link to Twitter as well. You’d really done two things in under 5 minutes.

    2. Schedule some social media for when you can’t be around
    Pop on to Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or whatever social media scheduling platform you use and schedule a post for tonight or tomorrow or some other time you know you will be busy. You can write something about where you’ll be or what’s happening with your life, but you can also link to an old blog post.

    3. Share the love
    Social media is about being social. Take the 5 minutes and visit the Facebook page, Amazon author page or blog of an author or other person you follow. Leave a comment, like their page, send them a message. Or you could go and retweet their lastest tweet. Do something for someone else. You can easily do that in 5 minutes. It will make someone’s day and create good will.

    If you follow hashtags on Twitter such as #MondayBlogs or #BYNR or #Fridayreads go and have a look at who is tweeting what in that hastag

    4. Ask for a review or guest blog spot
    If you are a writer you probably have a list of people you need to approach for a review or you’ve discovered a new blog you think will help you reach your audience. So take 5 minutes and write to the blogger of reviewer in a quick email. You have your book cover and blurb already to attach. You know what you want to say. You can do that in 5 minutes.

    5. Make a list
    Grab a pen and paper or which ever app you use for lists and make a list. Here are 5 you can write in under 5 minutes:
    a basic to do list
    a list of blog posts you’ve already written that you could re-share on social media
    a list of blog topics to write in the future
    a list of Facebook posts
    a list of people who have supported you who you could show some social media love to with a Facebook share, retweet or some other social media engagement.


    Sandie Docker
    7/29/2015 12:43:23 pm

    Such good tips. It’s so easy to make excuses not to do things because there’s no time. There’s always something you can do.
    7/29/2015 01:09:33 pm

    I agree Sandy. Sometimes all we have is 5 minutes but we can usually find something constructive to do with them.

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    7/29/2015 01:17:29 pm

    WOW. This is such a fabulous list. Imagine what 5 days of doing these 5 things would look like – a whole lotta stuff getting accomplished, that’s for sure.

    Great list. Awesome list. (Any chance you’ll brainstorm another list?) So incredibly helpful and such great ideas!
    7/29/2015 01:32:10 pm

    Julie I will brainstorm another list – maybe a 10/15 minute list. I often have 15 minutes….

    Melissa Field
    7/29/2015 02:34:13 pm

    These are great tips, even for when I do have time!!! Social media is something I often blow off because I simply don’t feel like it. When I think of it as a five minute daily investment, then it feels much more enjoyable. Thank you!
    7/29/2015 03:13:21 pm

    I agree Melissa it can be overwhelming – social media feels like a merry-go-round that never stops spinning. Breaking it down into small achievable tasks really helps.

    Sandrine Piat
    7/30/2015 01:28:21 am

    Wow! what great advice – and it actually feels like its really do-able 🙂 I have to admit that I am definitely one of those people who never have time to do anything and when you break it up that way, it really seems like there is a little time to fit everything in. Thank you 🙂

    Pauline Wiles
    7/30/2015 01:46:54 am

    Loved this post! I am constantly telling myself that a small amount of time is not enough to get anything worthwhile done, and of course that’s just not true. I’d love to see your 15-minute list. Meanwhile, I’ll be sharing this one.

  • Blog

    Maintaining Momentum on #MusicalMonday


    Monique McDonell Books and ChampagneAnother Monday rolls around.
    I missed the last couple but the end of summer and back to school activities distracted me and something had to give. That’s life isn’t it? It always feels like something has to give.

    The truth is my one and only child entered Yr9 (9th grade) and every time I think of the fact she has only 4 more years of school and will soon be 18, well I feel a little bit sick inside. The truth is time is flying by at an alarming rate and as I’m powerless to stop that I find the need to balance any decisions I make about how I spend my time around that disturbing notion. I don’t think I’ll look back and think “I wish I’d written a blog post rather than taking my daughter to lunch” and if I do, I can live with that.

    What I haven’t let slide is my commitment to writing #1000wordsaday. As you can see by my slightly faulty counter (I need to find a new one – let’s add that to the to-do list) I have managed 44,000 words since January first. That includes a novella, extra scenes in Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series and the same on books I write under a nom de plume.

    I’m an all or nothing girl. I’m in or I’m out. That’s me, for better or worse. Some days I have written 3,000 words that’s true but mostly I’ve just tried to consistently write the 1,000 words every day.

    A couple of tips if you are doing this:
    – it easier if you don’t skip a day
    – stopping in the middle of a scene can mean you don’t struggle when you start again
    – editing is a separate thing so don’t use that as a reason/excuse to not write
    – a little bit of caffeine never goes astray (and a glass of wine will probably stop you in your tracks)
    – being a member of the Facebook group I set up has been essential to my success, accountability helps.(Feel free to join).

    I was hoping to have Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series out in February but I’m bumping it back to March. The world won’t end but the book will be better for it.

    I’m actually working on Book 4 in the series and I saw a song on Rage last night. (Australians will know what Rage is). Leave me home alone and I will stay up till 2am reading and watching Rage…my inner 18 year old is determined to live on. Now of course I can’t find the band anywhere…2am brain is not the best one…so instead I give you this one of my always makes me happy songs.

  • Blog

    Overwhelmed and underachieving on Musical Monday


    Sleeping HippoIs it really Monday again? Did I really not put up a single blog post in a week? I guess that’s two yeses.

    I’m such a slacker! (That’s me in the picture!)

    Lately I’ve had that overwhelmed and underachieving feeling. I get it every now and then and I can’t quite shake it off. Sadly it doesn’t spur me on to do more it just kind of immobilises me.

    Little things and good intentions slip by unattended to, unfulfilled. Opportunities are squandered.

    It is very annoying.

    Maybe it is because the sun is finally out, after an insanely wet winter, but I feel like I started shaking that off again over the weekend. I made a few plans for myself. Plans that don’t require me to work in with others and that I can quietly look forward to.

    I’m a planner by nature, but I’m married to the man least likely to make a plan. His gravestone could read “Here he lies, he didn’t plan to die.”

    Don’t get me wrong I like to be spontaneous but I also like some structure. A girlfriend and I say we like “organised spontaneity”. I’m happy to go off on a whim but damned if I don’t want to take the bus schedule, some snacks, bandaid, some ibuprofen and a jacket just in case.

    Putting a few plans in place both for my work life, my writing and my home life help.

    Meanwhile I’m plugging away at Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series and deciding which book to write for NaNoWriMo in November. It will either be Book 3 in the series or the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels (if you have an opnion, do let me know).

    This song is very much the soundtrack in my mind at least for Book 2 in the series. So it’s today’s Musical Monday offering. And it really is a beautiful song.

  • Blog

    Who am I? Or the author brand….


    Alphabet Dating Mug and Kindle EditionMonique McDonell All Books Promotional CardBuilding Attraction Tote and Mug







    This week I’ve read quite a few surveys about author earnings and what makes an author, especially an indie author, successful.

    I find these articles really interesting for a variety of reasons which I list in no particular order:

    1. I’m a bit of an information whore…I love it, I gather it, I covet it.

    2. I have a PR and Marketing background so they how and why and the why not of book sales is interesting to me.

    3. I look at my writing career (when I’m not suffering from writer’s block, deep frustration or the inevitable self-loathing that is part and parcel of writing) as a bit of a puzzle. I like finding the pieces and putting them together…although I think writing’s probably more like a rubix cube…in that there is more than one way to finish it off…(That’s good and bad for me because while I’m not bad at puzzles I’m absolutely rubbish at that multi-coloured cube.)

    4. They’re often written from a very specific point of view – and especially the interpretation of the studies and the comments which I find fascinating. I find most writers to be a lovely accepting bunch, but there are always a few judgemental types out there. Fascinating!

    Anyway, I digress…one of the articles read broke down what these studies said one should do to succeed as an indie.

    These things included:

    – write a series

    – get professional cover design

    – get professional editing

    – release a certain number of books per year and over more than one year

    Finally – and this is where the branding comes in I suppose. The survey showed you which genre’s to write in if you wanted to succeed ie how to brand yourself for success like those very successful authors.

    Chicklit, is what I write and naturally it wasn’t one of those areas recommended for success – of course if I write a chicklit series I would increase my odds (see above) but unless I added some other elements then that still probably isn’t enough. (I do write in other genres and I have been published in them but I do that under a different name.)

    This is where branding comes in. As you can see by my banner, my covers and my collateral I’m very much branded as a chicklit author. I’ve done that on purpose because I don’t want to mislead my readers.

    This is where it gets interesting I suppose because everyone who knows anything about writing will tell you that you must write the story in your heart, you must write the story the characters tell you and you must be true to yourself and your story.

    So how do you match those things up? Writing what you want to write and writing what sells best. (By the way I think people read chicklit and I know plenty of people who sell it – it just doesn’t sell “best”.)

    So what does an author do?

    I think you just continue to be yourself. I mean, maybe you don’t have the blinding success of someone who loves to write erotica but then again maybe the wheel will turn and next year the surveys will tell people to start writing chicklit. Either way I don’t think you succeed when you’re disingenuous and certainly not in creative pursuits.

  • Blog

    What can a writer do when motivation is elusive?


    Alphabet Dating Mug and Kindle EditionI’m having trouble getting my writing motivation back in this new year.

    There are several reasons/excuses for this – it’s summer holidays here so there’s no routine, I had a big end of the year work-wise and I’m regrouping, I probably have too much time on my hands and I do better when I’m busy – among other things.



    Still I need to get back on track so what are some good strategies for this?

    1. Read

    I find reading to be motivating for me. It gets me thinking about my own characters and what they might do in a similar situation. If a book is well-written and engaging that inspires me to do better and if it’s a bit lack-lustre (especially if it sells well) I think “surely if this book can find a market mine can too.

    2. Connect with other writers

    Right now most of my writing buddies are away at such exotic locations as India, Paris, Uluru and Byron Bay to name a few which is part of my writing problem I think (they keep me honest) but I belong to lots of online groups where I can go for advice and motivation.

    3. Make a plan

    Honestly, having a plan motivates me. I like to know I have deadlines to work towards. What’s that saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

    4. Focus on the marketing

    Write some blog posts, line up some guest blogs, get my social media hat on and focus on that aspect of writing. It’s most definitely not my favourite part but it’s a necessary evil and you can at least get to the end of the day and say “Hey I did achieve something”.

    5. Just write

    I know that seems kind of obvious but you just have to start sometimes. Start small – write a scene or a page even and you often find that you just keep going. Or set a word limit of just 500 words. That’s nothing really.

    In the end a combination of these things usually gets me moving again. Fingers crossed that happens today. Meanwhile I’m off to read.

  • Blog

    What I’ve learned on my writing journey so far


    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.