• Blog

    It’s a week until NANOWRIMO 2020, let’s get ready!

    Nanowrimo 2020 badgeHey there,

    It’s almost time for NanoWrimo – National Novel Writing Month where people try to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel in a month. I’ve taken part at various times all the way back to 2011, I believe.

    In 2012, I did a series of posts about prepping that hold the test of time and they’re linked below. (I migrated my website a year ago from Weebly to WordPress and not every image made the journey, but the content is solid and worth a read).

    My life is so different now to then. I don’t have a young family to juggle and I have written a lot of books since. These days it’s not unusual for me to write 50,000 words several months a year but I love the participation and community of Nano and I love getting that final novel for the year done. December is crazy, we all know that and I tend to ease off on the writing in favour of Christmas lunches and drinks with friends.

    I still know a few things work for me:

    1. Get a big count early.

    I love writing a new book. LOVE IT! So the beginning is the easy part. To stay om track for NanNo you need to write 1667 words a day. I like to start with a few 3,00 even 5,000 word days and then I’m ahead and the pressure is off.

    1. Round up.

    Don’t stop at 1667  the recommended daily word count needed to reach your target. Aim to reach at least get to 2000 words a day. You’ll thank yourself mid-month.

    1. Sprints

    That’s where you set a timer for 20 minutes or 30 and just write. Three of those a day and I will make the 1667 easily.

    1. Plotting

    I don’t always plot my books. I’m a weirdo who sometimes just writes, sometimes plots an entire novel and sometimes gets to 15k and plots the rest. Heck, sometimes I make bullet points and just plot the next chapter. The bullet points mean I won’t start at the screen for an hour…I always have a scene I can write.

    1. Remember, it’s a draft.

    This is not what gets published, it’s your first draft, so it’s okay to write and leave things blank– add description later, check this character’s name/hair/eye colour, insert sex scene, research this bit and -MOVE ON. You can fill all that in later, but don’t let it stop you from continuing to write.

    1. Write something fun – especially in 2020.

    It’s going to be work regardless but don’t put yourself in a zone of misery before you begin. We all know this year has been and continues to be tough, so don’t set yourself up for misery and/or failure. Pick a story that will excite you and write that.

    So there’s some advice.…I do recommend you read the post below, especially if you’re a Nano newbie.

    Let me know if you’re signed up for this year in the comments.

    From the 2012 Archives

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo – Part 1 Plan the Writing


    NaNoWriMo – Planning your Life

    NaNoWriMo – Planning your Life


    How to survive NaNoWriMo – Part 3, Organise Your Writing Life

    How to survive NaNoWriMo – Part 3, Organise Your Writing Life


    NaNoWriMo Planning Series – Part 4 – Plan to care for Your Body


    My 2017 Advice

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo the 2017 edition

  • Playing with Trouble

    Let’s read along together as I write – Playing With Trouble, Chapter 3

    Playing With Trouble

    I’m a day or two behind but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m still finding my rhythm in the work at home world.

    Things are starting to heat up between Tiffany and Andrew. I hope you’re enjoying their story. I really like them as a couple and there’s a whole lot of trouble coming their way soon.

    (Remember this isn’t edited and there’ll be changes between this and the final version).


    If you missed the beginning – start here.


    Chapter 3

    Andrew turned up to the tennis centre with a smile plastered on his face because he was a professional, but that smile was fake. He hadn’t slept well because he’d slept alone and not with the beautiful woman whose face and body had occupied his thoughts all night long. She’d looked so sad, and so apologetic last night in the hallway. He knew she wanted what he wanted and he was pretty sure they could still have it without her being compromised but he understood she was the one who would be impacted. She might lose her job and have her professional reputation tarnished, not him. He was mad that was even an issue in the twenty-first century but he was even madder about that kind of double-standard.

    Yeah, he was mad but he realised he was also more than a little disappointed. He knew he like Tiffany. He didn’t spend time with women he didn’t like, he was not that guy. Still, the way he’d felt in the hours since it had been made clear he and Tiffany would not be reigniting their “thing” had shown him he cared for her more than a little. That bugged him because he prided himself on staying detached and because he was not used to not getting what he wanted.


    On the court his young partner for the week was dressed in an outfit perfect for a music video and not so perfect for tennis. Andrew felt like there was an old man living in his head but he couldn’t help thinking the guys shorts were hanging so low he might well trip over them.

    “Axel.” He said by way of greeting. “Ready to play.”

    “I’m ready to win.” The kid replid offering him a fist to bump.

    “Good attitude.”  He had a chat to the kid and it was clear he was athletic and had at least has some lessons.

    “My agent loves tennis. So, we play sometimes. It’s a big reason I’m here and also, man, is he excited we’re teamed up. He arrives tonight.”

    The kid’s enthusiasm was infectious. Last night he’s seemed like a bit of a punk but the more he got to know him the more he could see he had depths which reminded him he shouldn’t have been so quick to judge in the first place.

    “Awesome, can’t wait to meet him. Now should we get some practice in so we can wow the crowd at or first match.”

    The kid did a fist pump and headed down court and Andrew tried hard not to think about how this week would have been perfect if he’d just been able to have Tiffany as well.


    An hour later he was a hot sweaty mess when the woman herself appeared courtside. The tennis complex was filling up and fans had gathered to watch them. Axel went to sign some autographs and Andrew made a bee-line towards the beautiful blonde. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she wore a cap and a t-shirt with the event logo on them and cute cropped jeans and runners.  She was holding a clip board and phone. She looked like an American teenager and he felt young and foolish walking over to her.

    “Nice warm up.” She said with a smile, lifting his towel and handing it to him.

    “Thanks. I think we’ll be a good pairing.”

    “Not as good as us.” She gave him a wink.

    “No.” It was nice that she was normalising it he supposed. “I missed you last night.”

    “Likewise. I spent a lot of time wondering if I over-reacted.”

    Ah there it was hope. “Oh yeah, what did you decide?”

    “My head says one thing, my hormones say another.” Well that was honest.

    “That pesky head.” He teased. “Well you let me know when the hormones take charge.”

    “Don’t you mean if?”

    He leaned in his voice low and grvaelly in her ear. “Oh no, I definitely mean when.”

    Then he grabbed his gear and walked over to join Axel before he did something stupid like kiss her here in front of the entire crowd.


    Well now her hormones were in overdrive. It was her own fault. She’d walked right over  and started the conversation. She also took it in that direction, but it was like her feet and her mouth had their own plans where Andrew was concerned, just like her hormones. She watched him walk away as she pulled herself together.

    Maybe she had overeacted. As she considered that her phone rang and the reason she had to be so careful was on the other end.

    “Hey mommy.”

    “Hi Dylan baby, how are you?”

    “Good. Aunty Fran and I are going to the park today but I wanted to say hi first.”

    “Well I’m glad you called. I miss you.”

    “Me too. You’ll be home in a few sleeps right?”

    “I absolutely will. You have a great day and put Frannie on.”

    He handed the phone over and her sister’s voice came on the phone. “All good here. No need to panic mama.”

    Tiffany laughed. She did have a small tendency to be over-protective of her son. He had been born premature and sine then he’d had several struggles. He was fine now, mostly. He still had chronic asthma but that was mostly under control. Being a single mom, because Dyaln’s father had died in a car crash while he was still in the NICU, had made her fiercely protective. Dylan was her world.

    “He called me, remember?”

    “I do. You two are peas in a pod, but he’s fine. How’s it going there?” She loved Frannie and she appreciated her sister using a week’s leave from her accounting job to come and do this for her every year. It was a shame she didn’t live closer than LA and that they couldn’t spend more time together. She’d moved to Vegas with Mick and once Dylan had been born and Mick died she just hadn’t quite found the energy to relocate and now with a job she loved and Dylan settled at school it seemed the timing was all wrong.

    “All good. The matches begin shortly and the we’ll see. Good crowds and yeah, so far all good.”

    “Any cute guys?” Tiffany had not told Frannie about Andrew because it was the one thing in her whole life that was just hers. She didn’t want to dissect it or share it with anyone even Frannie who was her biggest supporter.

    “Please Frannie, we have more cute guys than you’ve ever seen in one place in your life, which may explain why women buy most of the tickets.”

    “Whatever raises the money, right?”

    “Exactly. Okay you two have fun and thanks Frannie. I appreciate it.”

    “Please, you’re my sister. I’ve got your back.”

    She hung up and headed towards the control centre only glancing in Andrew’s direction for a minute. If she wasn’t going to be getting any of that fine man she certainly didn’t want anyone even for a minute thinking she was. As to be expected it was a flurry of activity on opening day. They were sold out and there was lots of media around. Right now, Tiffany’s team was doing everything they needed to do and she was happy to be behind the scenes just waiting for whatever was going to go wrong happened early and they got it over with. That was the thing with organising events like this something always did.

    She took a seat at her designated desk and spent the next hour signing forms, answering questions and generally working like a maniac. She didn’t have time to think about Andrew or her decisions where he was concerned, except that every so often someone would say his name or mention on of his matches and she had to be sure not to look overly interested of concerned. No one said anything so she had to assume she was doing a good job.

    Just like she could assume that no one would be surprised when she went down to watch Axel and Andrew play their first match on centre ocurt against Alexi and his partner, a country music star. The tournament was round robin for points so that every pair had at least three matches before they could be knocked out. That way all the celebrities got some time and that drew in the crowds. It didn’t really matter which team won right now but she’d be lying if she hadn’t picked a favourite. She still had her headphones on and could take calls but she was able to watch most of the match.

    Andrew was different on the court. She found the dicotomy fascinating. Off court he was sweet and mellow but on the court he was focussed and intense. It shouldn’t be unexpected. No one got to be an elite athelet by lacking focus but she didn’t see that when they hung out. Then again the circumstances were entirely different. Here on the court it was obvious he was playing to win but unlike Alexi down the far end he was walso trying to make sure Axel got some skin in the game. In fact Andrew knew there were two games going on one was the tennis and the other was winning the fans over. Lots of the crwod, especially the young women were here for the celebrities and Axel was a big draw card he needed time to shine and Andrew gave him that. He was smart and strategic and as a result his team won.

    They met in the middle for back slaps and hand shakes and when he reached the courtside he caught her eye and gave her a chin tilt that said he knew she was there, she was still watching and her hormones were still in charge.



    It had been a long day. Andrew and Axel had won their match and by the end the kid had his total respect. Meanwhile andrew wondreed when he started refering to other men as ‘the kid’ even in his mind. He felt old next to the young buck who had left with a bevvy of beauties and asked ANdrew to meet him for drinks at the high roller bar at the casino they were both staying at later. Andrew wasn’t sure it was such a great plan and he for sure knew Nate would say it wasn’t but he’d also won his singles match against an ageing Czech player he’d never defeated before. He knew the other man wasn’t at peak but he’d take the win because the older guy had fought for it. Andrew had earned it and he was hapy about that.

    He and Axel weren’t playing until late the next day so maybe he’d get that drink. He didn’t have plans here in town because he had hoped he’d be spending his time with Tiffany but that wasn’t so. He hadn’t seen her since the match in the morning.

    He knew there’d been some incident with a female celebrity losing her mind over some big nothing so no doubt that had occupied a big chunk of her day.

    While he contemplated the evening ahead Andrew took a stool at the casino’s sports bar and ordered a whisky. Lucky for him it was American football on the screen so no one recognised him. He liked sports bars that way, oddly even though he was a high profile athlete they afforded him some anonymity. He was staring blankly at the screen when the seat next to him was taken and an elegant hand reached out snagged his drink and took a sip. He turned to see Tiffany eyeing him over the glass before taking a sip and sighing in satisfaction.

    It was one of the sexiest things he’d ever seen.


    “That day was…well there are no words.”

    The bar tender came past and he ordered two more. “I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”

    She shook her head. “I can’t because sadly I signed a confidentiality agreement.”

    He knew all about those, in fact he had lots of people he worked with sign them too. “Should I have gotten you to sign one?”

    “I don’t know should I have asked you to?”

    He clinked his glass against hers. Fair play. She was fiesty tonight and he deserved it. Why were his secrets any more valuable really? Well they were because someone might pay for them but ultimately it was the privacy violation people wanted to stop.

    “Okay so no talking about it. What would you like to do instead?”

    “Well I don’t think we can do that either. My hormones and I are still in discussions. What were you planning to do?”

    “Besides hoping your hormones had caved?” She nodded. “Axel invited me to a thing with his posse.”

    “So, we could do that?”

    “Sure, although I don’t think it’s a jeans and t-shirts crowd Tiff.” He gave her ponytail a tug. “Sadly, I like this look on you.”

    She gave him a sweet smile. “Thanks. I’ll try and find something you’ll like even more. Give me ten.”

    “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

    The first two books in the series are live on Amazon and you can buy them here.

    *(Affiliate links are used in this blog post)
  • Blog

    2015 a year in review


    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.