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  • Blog

    The Write Balance

    1/12/2018

    Vintage Scales
    Last weekend I was at a writing retreat with the gorgeous members of my writing group. It was about starting the year with some real momentum.

    We spent a lot of time on goal setting, pulling together the skeleton of a group project, doing some workshops and yes, even writing. It was awesome and inspiring – and it was also a heatwave and the mercury hit 112 degrees on Sunday but we soldiered on. Go us!

    Let me back-track a little. 2017 kind of kicked my butt.

    Here are some fun facts about me:
    – I released 6 books last year – about 300,000 words worth.
    – I worked 4 days a week for a small non-profit but my workplace was crazy stressful and the truth is I did 5 days a week in 4.I spend my days focusing on global poverty and disease, switching gears can be a challenge.
    – I’m in the sandwich generation. I have a teenage daughter who needs my attention and parents who increasingly rely on me for things both physical and emotional. My husband is lovely but he is the opposite of stressed.
    – I have a reasonable social life although it suffered last year, still I like people as long as I get downtime as well.
    – I have a couple of health conditions that make it hard for me to lose weight (hello PCOS and endometriosis), important that I don’t gain it and of course I gained a few kilos. I’ve always been skinny so this is not good for my morale at all.
    – Oh yeah, I have a spur in my neck and pretty limited movement there so I need to be mindful of that.
    – Oh yes and sleep is elusive as it is for so many.

    Thus I ended 2017 exhausted and feeling like I needed to move again.

    (I’m not saying any of that to complain. That’s what my life looks like. It’s a good life. It’s a fun life and it’s a full life but sometimes you do need to take stock).

    I have 8 projects planned for 2018 and I’m still in that job and if you know anything about the Australian education system add in that my gorgeous daughter is doing her HSC..oh yeah and she plans to go away for Uni (unusual in Australia) so my miracle baby and I have only one more year together. Another big year looms large.

    So back to the retreat – on Saturday morning my friend Pam and I drove to get some supplies and I explained my schedule to her…at my home desk at 7ish, off to work, home to juggle family, back to the home desk…so I said “Well I’m awake at 2am I could go to the gym then because I’m awake, but I’m nervous about being there alone.” We had a chuckle and yet when we did our goal setting it came up again. I was considering it.

    I came home and I really gave it some serious thought. I even discussed it with my husband.

    And then on Tuesday I stopped, looked in the mirror and thought. “Are you insane? You can’t go exercise at 2am, do your job and all this other stuff…What are you thinking?”

    What I was thinking was I have no other time. Still, I have to find time. 2am is not an option.
    So I went and got myself a new Fitbit. Step 1.
    I stocked my pantry with lots of healthy things – I can embrace the superfoods as long as no one mentions kale.
    And I bought a book Called “Two Minute Exercises”.
    Everyone has two minutes and every one has two minutes five times a day. That’s my theory and that’s my plan.

    This post is to keep my mildly accountable – I’ll come back in a month and let you know if I failed.

    Lots of writers are like me. We sit too much especially those of us with desk jobs as well, our bodies suffer and women, well lots of us put ourselves last. I know lots dictate their novel as they walk and I’m looking at that for April/May. For now, this is my plan.

    You might be like me and want to join me. You’d be very welcome.

  • Blog

    36 Real Authors Talking Writing and Publishing – a book #giveaway

    6/21/2016
    How to Be An Author - CoverEarlier this year I was on one of the many Facebook groups for authors that I belong to and another member Ashton Cartwright asked for people who’d like to be involved in a book to help other writers.

    Naturally I said yes and now the book is available as both an e-book and a paperback. I’m one of the 36 authors who contributed to the book.

    (If you’d like to win a copy enter below).

    Now that the paperback is available I thought I’d ask Ashton about how the project came together. Don’t you just love the cover? So pretty!

    1. Ashton, how did you get the idea for the book?
    I’ve been writing and publishing books now for about four years, and I get asked a lot of the questions, generally the same questions and fairly often; things like “How hard is it to become an author” or “I’ve got a good idea for a book, but don’t know how to start.” or even “I’ve written a book, but don’t know how to get people to buy it.”

    So I thought it might be a good idea to write some of my answers down, in the hope that new authors would get a bit of benefit from it, and would hopefully avoid some of the mistakes that I’d made in my own publishing career.

    2.Where did you find the authors?
    I was very fortunate to be a part of several excellent online author groups, both for Australians and for international authors. Writing and publishing is a community in which everyone tends to do their best to help one another, particularly for self-published or indie authors. When I mentioned in a couple of places that I was looking for some authors to give their advice to new writers, there were lots of people very happy to oblige. (35 plus myself in fact!)

    3. Did you learn anything interesting about the authors – something that they all had in common, something that separated them or anything surprising?
    The thing that most hit home with me was that even though we each had a different story to tell, we still had a lot of similarities. Nobody in the book had written an instant bestseller and made millions of dollars. Some of us were able to write full time, but we worked really hard at it to make it happen. Some of us were just starting out, and were also working really hard at it to make it happen. I think a lot of times people assume that if you write a book, your work is done. You just get to sit around at home, waiting for handsome royalty cheques, and signing autographs when people meet you in the street. The truth is usually far different from that. Every author I know that has had even a modicum of success has had to work hard for it; they’ve had to stay focused, stay committed, and just keep learning, writing, and moving forward. Being a writer is definitely not a quick path to success, but it is definitely worth all the effort. 🙂

    If you would like to get your own copy either e-book or paperback you can buy it here.

     

    Comments

    Renee
    6/19/2016 04:58:20 pm

    I’d love to know, when did you decide to start writing an actual book? Was there a defining moment?
    Reply
    Monique
    6/22/2016 10:23:39 pm

    Renee, I always wrote but I took a course at the NSW Writers’ Centre – First Page to First Draft, where you would write a novel in that year so that was when I decided to take it seriously…that was about 10 years ago and that book became Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    Jean
    6/21/2016 03:13:42 am

    This sounds inspiring, I’d like to know how authors stay so focused and get things finished
    Reply
    Monique
    6/22/2016 10:25:18 pm

    That’s a great question and I think (as reading this book with feedback from so many writers will show) everyone is a bit different. In my case I hate to fail at something – so once I set myself a goal I like to get there. I’m not always there in the desired time-frame but I do get there. Focus is really hard. Some people find it harder than others.

    Susan Mehr
    6/21/2016 01:15:03 pm

    Do you find writing a journey inside your own imagination?
    Reply
    Monique
    6/22/2016 10:26:07 pm

    I have a very active imagination, which is a good and a bad thing I suppose.. Writing gives that a nice focus.

    Valerie
    6/21/2016 04:18:06 pm

    Sounds like a great book. Can’t wait to read it.

    Heather Goldsmith
    6/22/2016 02:33:39 am

    One, only one? Um, ok, how long did it take from when you wrote your first book to when it was ready to be sent to a publisher, and was it accepted? Ok, that’s two really, sorry. 😉
    Reply
    Monique
    6/22/2016 10:28:15 pm

    From the time I started my first novel until I started sending it out was about 3 years. That book was Mr Right and Other Mongrels. It made it off the slush pile at agents and publishers all over the world (well UK, US and Australia) and they all said – we like your writing, send us whatever else you have, but we can’t sell chicklit. That’s what I write so I went the indie publishing route instead.

  • Blog

    Thoughts on a Thursday…a new weekly post

    5/14/2014

    Dee Why Beach at Autumn
    Dee Why Beach at Autumn

    Sometimes I think my efforts to keep my blog interesting and on topic leave it not that interesting at all.

    I thought I’d introduce a new “Thoughts on Thursday ” feature so I can ramble a little more freely on less bookish topics.

    Of course the first thing I’m going to tell you completely flies in the face of that because it’s about a writing workshop I went to yesterday. It was given by the wonderful Australian author Kate Forsythe. It was two hours of her discussing plot and character, pace and structure and I found it very inspiring.

    As I often do I came home all enthused to be a better writer. I mean this in the sense of better of the craft but mainly better at the job of writing. When I see how methodical, how systematic, how stinking disciplined some people are it puts me to shame.

    I’m not really a competitive person in the pure sense – I don’t think in terms of winning and losing (probably why I’m not a business wunderkind ), I don’t look at someone else succeeding and think I must have failed and I don’t even get envious much these days of other people’s success – but I do often say to myself “For goodness sake, if they can do that, then surely I can.”

    In the case of a writer who sets themself a neat routine and sticks to it I often think “Well if she can do it, why can’t I?”

    I got up and hit my desk today fuelled by a positive attitude and that can do feeling and then the page stared back at me and nothing came. It was one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time.

    What can you do? Keep trying I guess. Get up tomorrow and do better. I attended the workshop with friends from my writing group and I text one friend who said her day was just like mine. She tried and did not get her word count up either. It didn’t make me feel any better to hear that – I always wish my friends success.

    In other unrelated news it is now Autumn and I am really not a fan. I like sunshine and beaches and balmy nights. I dislike Autumn because it’s a prelude to Winter which I detest. My husband loves Autumn – “Great for fishing and the water temperature is still warm.” Then again he fished through a cyclone when we were in Queensland earlier this year so his credibility is shot.

    I might need to download some books set in the tropics to warm me up over the next few months.

    I’m also pondering my writing future (as I often am) this week. What direction should I take, where should I focus my energy and does anybody but me really care? (I know the answer to that last bit by the way, no need to respond). Maybe that’s the problem with both the character in my book and myself – too much thinking and not enough doing.

  • Blog

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

    8/28/2013

    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:
    http://www.hachette.com.au/authors/pamela-cook/

    You can find Pam on her website:
    http://pamelacookauthor.wordpress.com/

    On Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/PamelaCookAuthor

    Comments

    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.
    Reply
    Monique
    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

    What I’ve learned on my writing journey – Louise Wise

    8/15/2013

    The latest in the series “what I’ve Learned on my writing Journey” today features Louise Wise.

    Begin at the End By Louise Wise

    I couldn’t get a more different story line for my two contemporary romances. The premise is the same (as with all romance) man meets woman, or vice versa, there’s an internal denial of love and something, or someone, is stopping them from revealing their feelings. They overcome that, fall in love and live happy ever after—or not, depending on the authors you read.

    Personally, I like a story where I know there is an expected happy ending. A sad ending isn’t a conclusion, it’s a cliff-hanger in my opinion, and they leave me unsatisfied.

    And what I’ve learned on my writing journey is that endings HAVE to be thought of BEFORE you start writing whether they are a happy or a sad finish. To write ‘by the seat of your pants’ is fine but you HAVE to know where you’re going or else your writing will be never-ending (like a soap opera). Even a gloomy ending means you have to tie everything together.

    So, when I have an idea for a story, like most writers, I mull it over in my head to get a feel of the characters. Then I ask myself how I want the story to be resolved. Then I write the ending FIRST.

    It isn’t proper prose, more like notes, and of course it can be changed to suit the characters, storyline or both. But at least I have an idea that the book has an ending. It gives me guidance and something to aim for.

    The Fall of the Misanthrope - Louise Wise - CoverThe Fall of the Misanthrope:
    I bitch, therefore I am
    “They say I’m ‘as hard as my acrylic nails’ but what they don’t understand is I have to be. It’s called self-preservation.” – Valerie Anthrope

    USA: http://amzn.to/Wtbman
    UK: http://amzn.to/Syt3Di

    What happens when Cinderella is brought screaming into the 21st century, where the ugly sisters are Valerie’s thoughts and emotions, and the fairy godmother is a middle-aged busybody from hell.

    The fairy godmother bursts into Valerie’s life with her magic wand (AKA interference) and insists that she can help Valerie—whether Valerie asks for help or not. And she most definitely does not.

    Then there is playboy Lex. The flirty Prince Charming whose “bed ‘em and leave ‘em” motto applies to ALL women—until Valerie fails to fall at his feet as he expects.

    A concoction of fun, tears and cocktails.

     

    A Proper Charlie - Louise Wise - Cover~~~

    A Proper Charlie

    What’s a girl to do when she discovers her boss is a wanted man?

    Turn herself into a honey trap, that’s what.

    All Charlie Wallis wanted was a career and a man. Not just any man, but a man to love and cherish her; someone she can confide in, share jokes and toothbrushes.
    A life partner, not a husband – she’s modern – and a couple of babies like the other girls in her council block. And maybe a fast-paced career like those power-suited women racing around with spouted paper cups of latte in one hand and a briefcase in the other. It wasn’t much to ask, was it?

    Poor Charlie, she should’ve stayed home.

    Amazon.UK
    http://amzn.to/Qxv3w6
    Amazon.com http://amzn.to/PHLrL8
    ***

    Married, with four children, Louise Wise lives in England. She is a pharmacist technician by day and a writer by night. She was educated in an ordinary state school and left without achieving much in the way of qualifications; you could say she was the result of a crap state-funded school. Hungry for knowledge she enrolled in an Adult Education centre and
    studied English, maths and creative writing. Whereas other young girls asked for makeup and clothes for their birthdays, she asked for encyclopedias!

    Louise Wise used her general love of romantic fiction and interest in astronomy to write and publish her first book, Eden. It was an experimental novel and was never meant to see the light of day! She had received many rejections, which stated that the novel was just too original for the current market. An agent took it on but failed to find a publisher for it, this urged Louise into believing in herself as a writer. Since then she believes she has found her niche with romantic
    comedy.

    Her books include: Eden, A Proper Charlie and non-fiction So You Want an Author Platform? And newly released, The
    Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am.

    Links:
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/louise_wise
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WiseWordsBookBlogger
    Pinterest: Book Junkies Library of indie books – http://pinterest.com/bookjunkies/

    Blog: http://louisewise.com

    Comment

    Louise Wise
    8/15/2013 06:29:33 pm

    Thank you very much for having me here.

  • Blog

    What I’ve learned on my writing journey – guest post by Deb Nam-Krane

    8/8/2013
    Deborah Nam-KraneHere is the second post in my series – what I’ve learned on my writing journey by Deb Nam-Krane
    ***
    What I’ve Learned

    I published my book a little less than six months ago. As far as crafting a story,
    I don’t think I’ve learned anything that you haven’t already heard: Keep
    reading, keep writing and keep editing. I’ll add that it doesn’t matter whether
    you’re going to publish it or not what the genre is- or even if it’s fiction- as
    long as you keep up your job as a storyteller.

    Nothing new there. It’s the business side- just maybe- where I might have learned something.

    I made the decision when I launched to make my book available exclusively through Amazon via their KDP Select program. While I liked the idea of making my book available on multiple platforms, a number of authors I respected talked about the exposure they were able to get via KDP Select. I was also hearing from many that getting the formatting right for Smashwords (the preferred program for non-Amazon booksellers) was a frustrating experience. Most importantly, getting Amazon to match the other platforms’ price didn’t seem to be a predictable process either. That last was very important for me as I wanted to reward some very supportive friends and family (aka my first newsletter subscribers) with the opportunity to download my book for free. With that in mind, I enrolled in KDP Select, in large part to take advantage of the five free days I could offer.

    Mind you, I wouldn’t characterize it as a failure. Over 90 days, courtesy of KDP Select, over 7000 people downloaded my book. Great! Now here’s hoping some of them will read it, a number of those will review it, and- god willing- some of
    them will like it. With just one book out, I’m about where I expected I’d be in numbers, and I’m not expecting a big uptick in sales or ranking until I have more titles out. (That’s just simple Search Engine Optimization!)

    But maybe I could be doing better. The chatter I’m hearing from other authors is that free promotions are not nearly as productive for authors as they used to be. In part this is because the KDP Select program is so much more popular (and
    they’ve changed some of their rules), in part this is because as the ebook (and ereader) market matures, we’re seeing a little more supply and a little less demand. Mind you, there’s still room for growth, but the ease some indies might
    have had a few years ago making sales isn’t there now for their “newer” peers. Also, as attractive as Amazon has made their e-readers, not everyone owns a Kindle. In other words, when my KDP Select period runs out (yes, I re-enrolled),
    I’m uploading to the other formats as well.

    Let me stress: I am NOT expecting to see a huge difference, and for all I know I’ll have even fewer sales because I can’t stoke the Amazon engine as well as I can now. Maybe, but it’s worth a shot.

    So what have I learned? Keep trying new things.

    Deborah Nam-Krane has been writing in one way or another since she was eight years old (and telling stories well before that). The Smartest Girl in the Room, the first book in her series The New Pioneers, was published in late March. Her sequel The Family You Choose will be coming out any day now.

    The Smartest Girl in the Room - Cover
    Please connect with Deborah Nam-Krane on any of the following sites:

    Written By Deb

    Deb In the City

    Adventures in Urban Homeschooling

    Amazon Author  Page

    Twitter

    Facebook

    LinkedIn

    Google+

    Goodreads

    Join her mail list to find out first about new releases.