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    July 1 – an update on my writing life

    More Thank Ornamental Graphic
    more than ornamental graphic

    It’s been a while since I posted here so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’ve been busy doing as it clearly hasn’t been blogging.

    In June I wrote 90,000 words. That’s my biggest writing month yet. I wrote 44,000 on one novel, 10,000 on another, 20,000 on another and some words for a secret project as well…so that was a whole lot of writing and it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for other things.

    Yesterday I launched More Than Ornamental – a sweet single dad Christmas romance (It originally appeared in the 2019 Romancing the Holidays Boxset). In October and November of 2018 I asked my Facebook followers a ton of questions about what sort of story they wanted to read including tropes, location, character roles and names and this is the novella that came out of it. More Than Ornamental is set on the Australian coast so if you’ve ever wondered what Christmas downunder is like, this is the book for you.

    My next No Brides Club book releases in September and it’s almost ready to go off the the editor, fingers crossed for this week. The Sweet Kisses Limited Edition Box Set releases this month too.

    Kissing the Captain, my contribution is a prequel to my next series which will launch with a trilogy in the next couple of months…I’m expecting to get my covers this week and I can’t wait to share them with you.  He’s the cover of Kissing the Captain with the boxset.

    Kissing the Captain and the Sweet Kisses Box Set
    Kissing the Captain coming soon in the Sweet Kisses Box Set

    So that’s enough to keep me out of mischief for July I think.

    I promise the next chapter of Playing With Trouble will be live this week.

    Anyway, I hope your July is off yo a cracking start!

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Read Along while I write Playing With Trouble Chapter 4.

    Playing With TroubleAnother week another chapter

    I’m sorry for the delay in the next installment of the Courtside Romance series – Playing with Trouble. It’s funny how everyone is talking about life slowing down during this COVID-19 outbreak and so far that hasn’t been the case for me. It’s a coincidence that I’m finishing up my day job and pitching for new clients at the same time, as I re-open my PR consultancy after a couple of years working in house. I’d already resigned when we were all sent home but all the changes have met my cruisy finish up and handover have been anything but.

    Retstaring a new business has all kinds of administration as well as pitching to new clients and let’s not forget my book babies. So, I look forward to next week when I’m100% working for myself again and have a little more control over my time.

    Meanwhile here is the next chapter in Tiffany and Andrew’s story.

    Previous chapters:

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Don’t forget this hasn’t yet been edited so there may be some typos and errors that will be fixed prior to publication.

    ***

    True to her word she was back in ten minutes and he nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw her. She wore sky-high spiked black heels and a dress made of shimmery silver fabric that was high in the front and fell low on her back like a waterfall. He was sure there was a name for that style of dress but as he could barely remember his own name, he didn’t much care. Her long blonde hair fell loosely around her shoulders and she looked amazing.

    “Wow.” Was all he managed. “Just wow.”

    “Thanks, it’s new. I bought it for the week.” He knew that meant she’d bought it for him, and he liked that. Maybe she’d relax and see that this was all still very doable if they were subtle and not overt.

    He stepped closer and put his hand on her back as he guided her towards the lift. “You do realise your dress is not helping your plan to keep me at a distance or to keep my feelings hidden.”

    “Sorry.” She probably was at least a little.

    “I’ll cope.” The lift door closed, and they were alone inside. “But you need to know I’d really rather kiss you than do anything else at all on the planet right now.”

    Her cheeks pinked and she gave him a shy smile. “Likewise.”

    He might have done so if the door hadn’t pinged and opened spilling them into an exclusive section of the casino that Axel had reserved. Thumping music came at them as did a large bouncer with a door list which had both their names on it. Andrew had never wanted to go to a party less in his life but he was going to have to take any time he could get with Tiffany while he tried to win her over and demonstrate their week long fling wasn’t going to impact either of them in any way that was less than positive. And he was going to have to do it without looking like the possessive caveman he felt like as he watched the hungry eyes of the other men in the room devour Tiffany. There was exactly one word for his current predicament and that was torture. Pure and utter torture and yet for Tiffany he would take it. It occurred to him his feelings for the woman were way more than lust but now was not the time for introspection, now was the time to be a perfect non-date while keeping the hands of the likes of Alexi well away from Tiffany.

    Axel was the first to approach back-slapping Andrew and giving Tiff a shy smile and nod.

    “You made it. I wasn’t sure you would.”

    “Sure did. Tiffany wanted to blow off some steam and I said this was the place.”

    A guy with a tray of tequila shots came by and they each took one. Tiffany smiled.

    “Looks like you were right.” She said after downing hers at lightning speed.

    “That must have been quite a day.” He said in her ear before he and Axel downed theirs.

    Andrew wasn’t much of a drinker, body of an athlete and all that. He was now two whiskey’s and a tequila in. He needed to watch it. That was about his limit during season, or ever really. He had a few beers now and then but nothing too serious. Tiffany however had been handed a glass of champagne, no doubt the very expensive stuff and was guzzling it like water.

    “Shall we sit.”

    “Or we could dance.” She said. And then to his utter annoyance she turned to Axel. “You want to dance Axel?”

    He gave a nod and she handed her glass to Andrew. “I’ll be back.”

    Okay. Well, this was not at all what he had in mind.

     

    Tiffany hadn’t danced in ages. Sometimes she felt like she was a forty-year-old woman trapped in the body of a twenty-seven-year-old. It was like she had Dylan at twenty-two and all the fun stuff the parties and the dancing stopped and the serious business of being a grownup had gone into overdrive. Ninety nine percent of the time she was fine with that. She had her cute condo, a great job, some sweet friends she’d made at mommy and me classes and now a few moms from the school she was getting to know. But they did not go dancing at exclusive parties and guzzle very pricey champagne surrounded by A list celebrities. They didn’t look at her like she was hot and young and beautiful and every so often it was nice to feel that way.

    She’d brought the dress on a mark down rack just after the tournament last year, just in case she got to hang with Andrew again this year. She’d had it hanging in her wardrobe and when she needed a boost, she would take it out and look at it and remind herself she was still a young woman with lots of opportunities ahead of her. Part of her had thought it ridiculous and the other part thought there was nothing wrong with a bit of dreaming.

    Now here she was. The man in question was standing off to the side of the dance floor being very polite to the young ingénue who was talking to him. He was holding her drink and his eyes rarely left her. Meanwhile she was shaking her thing with Axel. Wait until she told the PTA moms this, their minds would explode. If she had her preference, she’d be dancing with Andrew, but she needed to blow of some energy, and she would be so obvious dancing with him. Her dance wouldn’t say this is fun it would say, take me now and that couldn’t happen.

    The song switched and she found herself dancing with another tennis player and then by the third dance Alexi. Not at all her preference. She kept moving avoiding him touching her. She was sure the surly Russian was a decent enough guy, but she didn’t feel like that about him and his touching her felt creepy. She knew Andrew was watching and she had a feeling if Alexi’s hand went anywhere it shouldn’t there be a scene.

    “Thanks. I need a drink.” She said at the end of the dance and headed towards and her drink. She had no idea if Alexi would follow. She hoped not.

    Andrew held out her glass when she approached one eyebrow raised. It was probably because she was all sweaty. She grabbed a napkin and discreetly patted her upper lip. “Thanks.”

    The girl next to him gave her the evil eye and Alexi joined them and did the same to Andrew. The champagne tray arrived, and she took a another. The waiter swung by with some canapes and she snagged one of those too. She hadn’t eaten all day thanks to the diva’s antics, which had taken hours to smooth over. Up until now Tiffany had largely only seen the celebrity players at their best, because it was an event for cancer kids they usually behaved impeccably. Usually being the key word.

    “You are good dancer.’ Alexi said.

    “Thanks. I don’t dance much.”

    “This is shame. Pretty women should dance.” She knew he meant it as a compliment and so she gave him a small smile.

    “So, what do you do to blow off steam then?’ Andrew asked.

    “I hit the gun range.” The young woman said, as if he’d asked her.

    “Interesting.” Alexi said, turning his attention on her.

    “I have punching bag I knock the stuffing out of.” Tiffany said. That was true and a better answer than snuggle on the couch with my son, especially to a man who didn’t know you had a son.

    “Well, it would have gotten a workout tonight.”

    @Yeah dancing is more fun.” He raised his glass and they drank.

    “I know another great way that is great fun.” He winked at her and her ovaries did a dance of their own. She was in so much trouble here, but she couldn’t help but answering. “Oh yeah?”

    And then he answered. “Tennis. Great way to blow off steam.” She swatted his arm. And he feigned innocence. “Why what else could I be thinking of?”

    “Nothing, nothing at all.” She shook her head. “You going to dance with me Benjamin?”

    “Sure, I must warn you, I don’t have Axel’s moves.”

    She led the way to the dance floor and in the din of the crowd looked over her shoulder at him and said. “I’ve seen your moves, they are, way way better than Axel’s.”

     

    She wanted to kill him, apparently. Watching her shake her thing on the dance floor had him fixing his jaw and by the time Alexi muscled in he was sure he was grinding his teeth, not that the sweet girl talking to him seemed to notice she just kept flirting away. He hoped he was more subtle than he felt, and that the girl wasn’t just oblivious, but he couldn’t be certain.

    No as he followed Tiffany on to the dance floor in that dress that made her look incredible, he was going to need all the restraint in the world to hold it together and not pull his body up against those sweet curves. Hopefully the universe would throw him a bone and the music would stay fast. Tiffany headed to the middle of the floor and turned and gave him a sultry look. She was a little buzzed, but she was having way too much fun at his expense. The ridiculous part was he was getting nothing out of it but the pleasure of her company, she’d made that well not clear exactly but, he was fairly certain that was the reality.

    For the next ten minutes he let her shimmy and shake around him like he was a pole. She was so joyous in her dancing he couldn’t help but enjoy himself, but it was pure torture and that was long enough. He couldn’t leave her alone on the dance floor because it was very clear there were plenty of men happy to come and take his place and as hard as it was being here watching her with someone else would be worse.

    “How about we grab a water?” He wrapped his hand around her waist and hauled her off the dance floor.

    “Party pooper.” She said with an adorable pout. “Can I at least have another champagne?”

    “You can have whatever you like but I’m pretty sure you have an early start and divas to handle tomorrow.”

    He hadn’t released her, and he felt the groan she let out all through his body. It wasn’t exactly the sound he wanted to make her make.

    “Now you’re a total buzz kill…” she looked at the thin gold watch around her delicate wrist. “But you’re also right.”

    “Do you feel better than when you arrived?’

    “Absolutely. I love to dance. I miss it.”

    She lived nearby. There were plenty of places to dance here in Vegas, hundreds in fact. It was odd that she didn’t do it.

    “You should do it more often then.”

    “As long as you don’t have to watch.” She gave him a nudge with her hip.

    “Exactly. Come on pretty girl. Let’s get you to bed before you turn into a pumpkin.”

    “I don’t think that’s exactly how the story goes Benjamin.” She smiled. “I’m still resisting you, though you have made it exceptionally hard tonight.”

    He sighed. Hard was definitely the word for it. The man didn’t like it, but he understood.

    Want to read Book 1 – Playing at Love or Book 2 – Playing it Safe click here.

    *Affiliate links used on this blog.

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Let’s read along as I write – Playing With Trouble Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 a couple of days late.

    How is everyone doing on lockdown. I thought it would make me extra organised but not so far. I’m giving myself until April 1 and then I’m expecting only awesome and organised from myself. It’s good to have goals right? Sorry this is a couple of days late. I promise to do better from now on. The good news is Chapter 2 is today and Chapter 3 is tomorrow, so less of a wait!

    (Don’t forget this is unedited so there will be mistakes and those will all be fixed up before publishing.

    Playing With Trouble

    Ch 2: Tiffany

    Finally, Alexi wound up his story and she made her excuses to head inside, She encouraged him to go talk to the media before she left.

    Inside the club was pumping the heavy base of the music reverberating through her body. They did not play this music on kids television which was where her regular playlist came from.  Her co-worker and boss Cynthia grabbed her as she made her way through the throng.

    “Good crowd. Lots of celebrities and media. You’re doing an amazing job as usual.”

    She smiled, Cynthia was so generous and such a wonderful woman to work with. It made leaving Levi in day care for all those hours and now with an after school sitter so much easier. “It gets bigger every year which is so great for the cause.”

    “Absolutely.” One of the sponsors caught Cynthia’s eye and just as she was hoping find Andrew a hand wrapped around her forearm and a familiar voice whispered in her ear.

    “I was hoping I might see you here.”

    She turned and found him smiling down at her, his breathtaking smile lighting up his face and she couldn’t help but smile back. “Likewise.”

    He pulled her in for a hug. Nothing inappropriate there. She hugged a lot of the regulars. What he whispered in her ear might not have been, however and she felt herself blush as she pulled back.

    “We’ll see about that.”

    He smiled back, a wicked smile that promised he would indeed be more than happy to do what he’d said. And she just shook her head at him.

    The conversation was interrupted by Kevin Blanchard one of the regulars and one of her absolute favourites.

    “Ah the beautiful Tiffany, if I were twenty years younger and not married.”

    She watched Andrew tense beside him. She wanted to say ‘jealous much’ but that would have been wrong on so many levels. Everyone knew Kevin was the quintessential family man.

    She hugged Kevin and asked about his wife and kids.

    “Any chance we’ll be paired together again?” Kevin asked crooking his thumb at Andrew. “I could be the new Benji while his partner is out of action.”

    “You know it’s a random draw.” She said looking towards the stage where the DJ was currently set up. “Speaking of which I better get up there and make sure we do the draw or else we can’t have much of a tournament can we?”

    “Off you go honey, you go work your magic.” Kevin said sweetly.

    “I’ll catch you guys later.” She said looking between them.

    “Count on it.” Andrew replied. And she knew for sure they were on again for the week. She walked off with a little bit more of a sway of the hips than usual. She had to look professional, and she couldn’t let anyone know they were together, but he knew and that sway was all for him.

     

    Andrew watched Tiffany walk away and couldn’t help but smile.

    “Pretty girl,” Kevin said beside her.

    “Indeed.”

    “You could do worse. A lot worse.” Kevin said.

    “I don’t doubt that but we’re just friends, Kev. I see her every year and I enjoy her company. Just like us, man”

    “Sometimes friends turn into more than friends.”

    “Sometimes they do.” His tone was noncommittal. Andrew looked around the room. The tennis players he knew but the celebrities not so much. Kevin would point out a starlet or young man and give Andrew the whole back story.

    “Do you even watch TV?”

    “Not really, no.” The truth was he didn’t have a lot of downtime and when he did ,he just didn’t tend to spend it sitting. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid which was how he’d ended up in every sport under the sun. He’d loved them all but somehow tennis had been his thing and he’d excelled at it.

    “You, my friend are bad for business.”

    The music wound down and the DJ announced the draw was about to happen. Fifteen minutes later the official proceedings were done and Andrew was teamed up not with Kevin, sadly, but with a young up and coming movie star who got his start in kids TV according to Kevin.

    “Axel is Bit of a punk but it could have been worse.”

    Poor Kevin was paired with a young Greek hothead. He definitely drew the short straw. Maybe it was random after all. He caught Tiffany’s eye and she just shrugged a “don’t blame me” kind of shrug. He didn’t and he knew it would make for a good tournament for the crowds and that was what they wanted after all. They were here to pull in the crowds and raise some serious coin. He’d meant what he’d said to Nate, sure a win was nice but here it was all about the kids.

    He spent an hour making small talk with his new team mate and some of the other celebs, smiling and hamming it up for the cameras before seeking out Tiffany again. She was stuck in a conversation with Alexi. Andrew knew enough about her body language to knows she wanted that conversation done and dusted and fast.

    “Hey Alexi, Tiffany.” He did a chin tilt in the direction of each of them. “Great party Tiffany, am I right Alexi?”

    “Da, is great.”

    “Thanks. Las Vegas is a party town so its hard to have an impact.”

    “The wait staff in the old fashioned tennis whites is doing that.”

    He wanted to get her alone but ten minutes of small talk with the Russian continued. It was tedious but Andrew knew it was important for Tiffany that their annual fling stay under wraps. She’d said it might make her look unprofessional and he understood that. He wasn’t used to being the sort of guy that women hid, he was much more likely to see them share a connection all over social media, but he had agreed to that. A decision he was regretting at present. Luckily Alexi’s phone rang and he had to step out and take the call.

    “Thank goodness,” Tiffany said rolling her eyes. “That man can talk.”

    “Do you say that about me when I walk away.” She just rolled her eyes at him in response. “So, when can you leave?”

    She looked around, the crowd was starting to thin. “Maybe half an hour or forty five minutes I guess. Why what did you have in mind?”

    He had a couple of things in mind but first dinner. “I need to eat. Maybe a steak, a glass of wine?”

    She nodded. “Sounds nice.”

    “I’ll make us a reservation at the Club Room in the hotel. Does that work? Is it okay to be seen alone with me or do you need cover because I’m sure Kevin would be happy to go with and maybe your boss?”

    “Maybe we should do that, at least tonight.”

    “There will be other nights then?” he asked, his voice a combination of hope and suggestiveness.

    “If you’re lucky.” She gave him a wink.

    He definitely felt very lucky indeed right now. He knew he’d been looking forward to seeing her but that promise of spending time together was now real and he knew he was grinning like a fool. He liked her. If his life was different, he were a different guy he’d pursue it further, but he wasn’t. He had no plans to settle down ever and he was fine with that but he had a feeling Tiffany was very much the settling down type. Maybe not today, but in a year or two so he would enjoy every moment he got and be grateful for it.

    “Okay I’ll book for four and make it happen.”

    “Thanks.”

    And he headed off to do just that. It was no hardship but he would much rather have been eating alone with Tiffany, preferably naked. But that could wait.

     

    Torture, that was the word Tiffany would have used to describe the dinner. Andrew sat across from her rubbing his foot up and down her calf as she ate. It was not at all fair and he knew it. It wasn’t that she hated it, it was just that it wasn’t enough.

    Then of course there was the fact that her boss started to tell a story about inappropriate staff fraternisation with celebrities a while back. Andrew’s guilty foot slunk away from her calf.

    “People are adults, they should be allowed to do what they want.” Kevin responded.

    “We’re a children’s charity, that’s all. It doesn’t look good.”

    “I don’t think should matter.” Kevin added.

    Andrew sighed. “I’m so sick of people’s private lives being a matter for anyone else but them. I kind of get the celebrity fascination but who cares otherwise. I mean you’re good hardworking people trying to make a difference in the world. That’s what people should focus on. I’d be disappointed to think any organisation I worked with would judge or penalise a staff member for their after hours decisions.”

    “Well, no of course we would never,” Chelsea said clearly trying to back track but she wasn’t especially convincing and the warm happy buzz Tiffany had been experienced was gone.

    “Excuse me for a minute.” The men stood when she went to leave. Such gentlemen. That was the thing. People could make her relationship, friendship or whatever the heck it was seem sordid but it wasn’t. He treated her with respect and kindness always. When she stepped out of the powder room he as waiting for her.

    “Hey.” He didn’t stand too close he just snagged her wrist. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I just…I can’t lose my job Andrew.”

    “I know. I would never let that happen.”

    “Not intentionally, I know that, but I don’t want to be part of some sort of a scandal.”

    He looked down at her his eyes searching her face. He didn’t know the full story, the real reason that she couldn’t take the risk and it didn’t matter.

    “Of course not, my partner Ben and his girl Abby just went through something like this. It was a hot mess and it’s part of why he’s taking a break right now. I wouldn’t want either of us to have to go through anything like that.” She smiled at him, that was right. She’d watched that story from the sidelines just like everyone else who had any interest in tennis. “In our case we’re supposed to be having fun, so if it’s not fun we don’t do it.”

    “Okay, so we just are friends with no benefits then?” Even as she said it out loud it felt wrong. It was clearly not what either of them wanted.

    “I guess so.” He didn’t look any happier than she felt.

    They walked side by side back to the table. Neither of them having much of an appetite and Tiffany wondering if she hadn’t just turned away the best thing that had ever happened to her, even if he was only a temporary best thing.

    Have you read Playing at Love or Playing it Safe yet? Playing it Safe tells the story of Abby and Benjamin (The other Benji mentioned in this chapter above).

    (Note this post contains Affiliate links).

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Let’s Read along Together as I write Playing With Trouble – Chapter 1

    So I had an idea that I wanted to do something here on the blog that would keep readers occupied in these trying times. I have this third book in the Courtside Romance Series, Playing with Trouble,  about half done…so I thought what if I start sharing chapters regularly – like a serial? I know other authors have done this on their websites or in their newsletters so I thought – why not?

    The book is not edited  (so don’t be surprised if you find the odd error hear and there) and as I haven’t finished it yet it’s possible (no it’s highly likely) that this version will differ somewhat from what gets published later in the year.

    ***

    Playing with Trouble -Monique McDonellPlaying With Trouble

    Ch 1: Andrew

    Andrew kicked off his shoes and sat on the sofa in his opulent suite, taking in the view of the Vegas strip. He loved Vegas. For some reason it was one of the few places he felt relaxed. When he thought about that he knew it was crazy, Vegas was not known for it’s mellow but somehow amidst all the chaos he felt at peace.

    Every year for the past eight he came back to play this same charity tournament to raise funds or teens with cancer. It helped put his own difficulties into perspective yet again. The past twelve months had not been easy. He’s missed several months nursing an injury and then just when he was back on the doubles circuit winning again with his best mate Benjamin Golden, his buddy, had fallen in love and taken a hiatus to get things right with his girl Abby.

    Ben was currently building a tennis training academy in small town America and Andrew was here alone.

    It was okay though because looking out at the madness of the strip he didn’t feel alone and maybe if he was lucky he wouldn’t be alone tonight.

    He never had any trouble finding women but that wasn’t really his style, no matter what the tabloids said. Sure he hooked ups but he tended to have two or three women he reconnected with on tour and here in Vegas it was Tiffany.

    Tiffany was the PR Manager for the tournament and somehow for the last three years they’d ended up spending the week together. There were no promises and they didn’t keep in touch in between but he liked her and if he was honest he even missed her. There’d been times this year he’d thought of hopping a plane to Vegas just to see her but that wasn’t their thing, and he was not a relationship guy.

    He’d been hurt too much in the past to make the mistake of letting someone close agai,n but Tiffany was the only woman he’d ever considered it with. Naturally he’d resisted the urge.

    Still, he hoped that he’ see her out at the pre-tournament mixer tonight. He knew shed be there but maybe she’d moved on. She could be in a relationship or just not interested, he had no idea.

    His phone rang and it was his trainer, Nate. Normally when he played on the ATP, Nate was with him but not for these charity events. It was part of the appeal, not that he’d tell the coach that. Nate was not good for his mellow. Nate usually called to bust his chops, that was the man’s idea of a motivational speech. He hit the speaker button and leaned forward his elbows on his knees, mimicking his coaches famous pose.

    “Hey Nate.”

    “You made it to Vegas?”

    “Of course. I do know how to get on and off a plane buddy.”

    “Just checking.”

    “It’s nice that you care. You’re like my work mom.”

    “Better than being your work wife. Okay ,so I know this is for charity and all that but this is a good chance for you to shine. You can win this thing.”

    “Not everything is about winning Nate.”

    “When you’re on the court it is.” Nate corrected him. “It would be good for you to have a win, set you up for the next solo gig if you insist you don’t want me to find you a temporary doubles partner while Golden Boy is out of the picture.”

    “I play doubles as The Benji’s or not at all. I’ll just play singles and I’ll play mixed doubles with Savannah.”

    Nate groaned at the woman’s name. There was a story there but neither he or Savannah were telling so Andrew didn’t ask.

    “If you say so. Well, all the more reason to nail your singles game.”

    “Nate, I’ll do my best but this tournament is about more than tennis.”

    “Yeah well just because you’re in Vegas doesn’t mean it should be all about chasing tail and drinking like a lunatic.”

    “Chasing tail? Nate who even says that?” He heard Nate growl down the phone. “Message received mommy, I’ll be  a good boy. Having said that I need to shower and get to the event mixer and get my photo taken with the fans. So we’ll talk later.”

    “Excellent.” And the phone went silent.

    The lights were coming on down on the strip. Time to get moving and if he was lucky go and find Tiffany.

     

    An hour later he took his walk along the celebrity red carpet outside the club. He smiled for the cameras, as requested. The tournament had a celebrity stream as well as the traditional tennis players and for doubles he would be teamed up with one of the celebrities. It was supposed to be random but he had a feeling it was less random than most people thought, because he’d been teamed the last couple of years with people who could actually play. That made it a much better experience. Ahead of him in the carpet was Kevin Blanchard an 80’s sitcom star he’d played with two years ago and with whom he’d won. The man was perpetually tanned and seemingly ageless.

    Kevin pulled him in for a back-slapping man-hug and they posed for the camera.

    “I hope we’re together again buddy.” He said.

    “Me too.”

    “Last year that Russian player was no fun at all. I want to win but I also want to smile.”

    “I hear you.” The cameras clicked as they struck a pose. “How about we go find ourselves some drinks and get started with the feel good vibe?.”

    Walking in he thought he spotted Tiffany talking to the Russian in question but it could have been someone else. He hoped so, Alexi was a hideous flirt and even though he had n say in the matter he didn’t want the man any where near Tiffany.

     

     

     

  • Blog

    Today I interview myself about my writing life

    3/26/2019

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose
    Today I thought I’d ask myself the Top 5 questions I get asked about my writing life.
    Something to Savour - Jewel Sisters Series - Monique McDonell - Cover
    1. How’s your writing going?
    This is the question people who know I write but don’t really know about the details ask. It’s the most common question I get.

    It’s going fine. I have another book out next month and my last release was okay although I didn’t promote it properly. It was a novella and I don’t think people really want novellas from me. My January release No Time For Temptation went well and readers are giving it great reviews which makes me happy.

    2. When is the next book out?
    This is the question from my friends who read and love my books.
    Girlfriend, I’m doing my best here. It takes a lot longer to write a book than read a book you know. I’m working really hard here and but you’ll have books in April, May, June so don’t panic. There will be lots to read. I do really appreciate that you love my books and your support makes me cry all the happy tears.

    3. Can I get it in paperback?
    Asked by lots of non e-reading friends.

    You know I used to do paperbacks and they just don’t sell unless you have a book launch or a signing but I have No Time For Temptation in paperback and it will be live on Amazon soon. I’m also ordering duets of the Upper Crust series soon, I promise.

     

     

    Here’s an example!

    Upper Crust Series Any Way You Slice It and Any Way You Dream It - Paperback Duet Example

     

    4. How do you write so fast?
    This is usually asked by other authors who don’t write as quickly as I do.

    Firstly, I have had years of practice at being quick at turning work around in my day job where I’ve basically written all day for a living. Secondly, I’m not bad at time management in general so I’m really good at using 15 minute increments to get stuff done – a Facebook post, some emails, or some behind the scenes activity. Thirdly, I know my best times of day for creativity and it’s good to work these out for yourself. (Mine are 10am -12noon , 2-4pm, and 5-6.30pm) If I can get two one hour blocks in these times I can get 2-3,000 words of a draft done. I try and do a minimum of 1,000 words a day. That adds up. Fourthly, by writing every day I can dive straight back in where I left off which saves time and backtracking. Finally, i enjoy writing (editing and promoting not so much) but I do it because I like it and that makes it easier.

    There is no correct pace to write at. It depends on a lot of things. I like to release regularly because as an indie romance author that helps me with sales, visibility and the pesky Amazon algorithms. Also I read quickly so I understand that kind of reader who wants to read a series back-to-back. That means I need to write quickly and it’s important to me so I make time for it.

    Also I don’t watch TV hardly at all (except the odd cooking show). I haven’t seen a movie since January 2018 and I don’t play sports or have a time consuming hobby. As does meal preparation (we don’t eat take-away) and planning on the home front. Oh yes, and my house isn’t company ready 95% of the time. You’d be amazed how much time that frees up.

    ​5. How do you come up with your ideas?
    Lots of people ask this.

    Ideas are not an issue for me. I have books planned out and so many things I’d love to write that I’ll never get to. The characters appear before me and then I want to tell their stories. Picking the right stories in the right order is the challenge for me as is deciding what people would like to read. I’ll have a plan and then get distracted by shiny new things. Staying focused is the challenge.

    ​If you have any question please feel free to ask me in the comments below.

  • Blog

    Reviving my blog in the second half of 2018 – or I can’t do everything.

    5/29/2018

    Colourful UnicornIn my mind I’m like this sparkling unicorn. Full of magic and miracles and devoid of the impossible.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?

    I’ve been at this author game for a while now and it is like a game. I think I know the rules and they change – whether it’s Amazon, Facebook or even the recent GDPR changes…something is always changing. Just when I think I have it sorted something new comes along and I have to figure it out.

    The writing is the easy part, at least for me. That’s where the real magic happens. I love starting a new book or a new series because that’s what I’m in this for. I love the characters and going on the journey with them. A lot of the other things are things one must do to sell books.

    Unlike a lot of authors I quite like social media, I like people and interacting with them. I love hearing from readers and
    I like connecting with other authors.

    I don’t however love doing newsletters and some of the pure marketing aspects of being an author in the 21st century and as I have what amounts to a full-time job sometimes I have to make decisions about how I spend my time. I’m pretty sure I often make the wrong ones or my book sales would be better than they are but a girl can only do so much.

    Still, I do like blogging and I’ve been running this blog for over 5 years now so I have made a vow to myself that I’ll get back in a rhythm as of June or next week.

    Expect: Musical Monday, Taste of Tuesday, Writing on Wednesday all to make a reappearance as well as posts by other authors on these and other topics.

    If you have any questions or suggestions for blog posts please comment below.

  • 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

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo the 2017 edition

    10/21/2017

    NaNoWriMo 2017 Participant Badge

    Way back in 2012 I did a series of blog posts about how to best prepare for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

    NaNoWriMo, if you don’t know, is global online challenge where people commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. According to their website I’ve succesded 5 out of the last 6 years so I guess I’ve learned a thing of two along the way.

    You can look at the tips I shared back then. I divided them up into weekly topics and I just reread them all and I stand by the advice I gave so take a look.(Heck I even created a meal plan for you!)

    They were:
    Part 1 – Plan Your Writing
    Part 2 – Plan Your Life for NaNoWriMo
    Part 3 – Plan the month of Writing – or tips to
    succeed.
    Part 4 – Plan to Care for your Body ( A Guest post from physiotherapist & author Terri Green)

    All these years later I know the key tips for my own success are:
    1. Get a lot of words down on day one – this year I launching a book, hosting an online book party, going to my writing group and lunch for a writing friend (I think we can all agree if I get my 2,000 words down I should be happy).

    2. Try and do at least 2,000 words a day so that you’re never behind and you have some words in the bank. I know for me Christmas celebrations seem to start in November so my social life gets nutty as the month moves along – it helps to be ahead.

    3. Let people know so then when you turn them down for something you can say “Remember I have a 50,000 word novel to write” and also I like to be accountable. I’m not a fan of public failure.

    4. Don’t fly blind – I’m not much of a plotter but even a few notes help. Write down even five or six scenes you think you want to include..and add to the list as you go. Cross one off and add one.

    5. Sprint. A writing sprint is where you set a timer for a set amount of time , for example 30 minutes, and you write. I find 30 minute 45 minute and 1 hour sprints work for me. With a couple of sprints I can make my daily word count.

    6. Don’t reinvent the wheel – this may not be true for others but the years I failed I switched to a cozy mystery and a women’s fiction novel. The slightly different styles of books were harder for me than chicklit and romance and I struggled.

    I know some people think this is a ridiculous exercise and no one can write a decent novel in a month. What I say to that is – who knows what someone else can achieve in a month? Who knows what they might create or what joy it might bring them? Who knows what they’ll learn about themselves, about their writing style or the lessons they’ll learn that they can take with them into 2018?

    It may not be for everyone but I love the challenge, the sense of achievement and the annual lesson on how much time I waste the rest of the year.

    My final advice is to have fun. Seriously – if it’s not fun you’ll quit. If you’re not enjoying it that will come through in your writing and that’s no good either.

    Have fun, get writing and let me know how you go.

  • Blog

    Time for an update on my writing life

    9/29/2017

    Long time no blog…
    Jewel Sisters - Something of a Spark - Original CoverIt seems like it is ages because I’ve done any blogging here in earnest and I suppose that’s because it is. Since I went back to work last year I seem to have less and less time to do all the fun extra parts of my writing life.

    I like blogging because I like writing but it gets pushed aside in the favour of the need to actually write the books, which is logical enough I suppose but still not idea.

    I’ve had this blog going for over five years now, so I don’t want it to feel neglected. Like everything else I just need to get myself organised and get it done.

    As I write this Something of a Spark, the pretty cover of which you see to the left, is off with the editor (out later this month) and I am busily working on book 2 in the series, Something to Sing About.

    Writing a new series has been fun, I’ve been doing the Upper Crust series for a while now and even though I love it some of the fun for me is meeting a whole slew of new characters and I can do that with a fresh series.

    I am working on the eighth book in the Upper Crust Series and I will be writing a spin off series in 2018 so I’m not done with those characters yet.

    The new series takes place between Australia and Nashville with a bit of Napa thrown in for fun. I have a cousin in Napa, I wonder if I can visit her in the name of research?

    I also have a book coming out for Christmas in a multi-author box set. I haven’t done that before so fingers crossed it is a good experience for me, because I’m signed up for another one next year as well.

    This is a tough business so I’m always looking at new ways to reach readers so hopefully the box sets help.

    If you really want to keep up to date with my books your best bet is to follow me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter…that’s where all the real secrets are revealed.

  • Blog

    An Introverted Writer’s Very Extroverted Week

    8/27/2016

    Thanks for the explanation Myers-Briggs
    Beach and Pier - 2016
    I am a a very friendly person. That’s a fact. I really like people and it breaks my little heart to see someone sitting alone or sad in a corner. My husband can tell you I’ve ruined more dinners with my anxiety over the fact that the couple at the next table don’t seem to be talking – it freaks me out.

    As a result people are always amazed when I describe myself as an introvert. There is universal confusion about the fact that introverts are shy people. I’m not shy but if you meet me I’d much rather talk about you than me. I’m going to ask you questions and maybe not give very long answers when talking about myself and my real interests. (Though I will usually share a cracking yarn with you).

    Those Myers-Briggs tests explain that introverts need time to recharge between events and experiences. We need some space around us. Hence you’ll find a lot of writers who are introverts. It doesn’t mean we lack social skills (although some absolutely do) but it means we work well alone and we’re not that excited to be the centre of attention. We like a little quite around us. Turn off the radio and television when we come to visit please!

    With all that in mind I find August to be my most taxing month. I think half of my known universe has a birthday in August (including my daughter and I) which means a whole lot of socialisation – lunches and parties – and I usually attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. I’m already at capacity normally.

    So let me tell you about my week.

    This time last week I was at the #RWAus16 Conference in Glenelg, South Australia. On the Thursday I somehow managed to be organising a lovely Barossa Valley (wine country) tour for fifteen people, ten of whom I had never met. That really was fun but when you put your hand up to organise something you feel responsible for other people’s enjoyment and that can be stressful.

    As it turned out we had a great day and I think everyone got along well. Having left home at four in the morning to get there some of the details are a tad sketchy for me but I think everyone had fun.
    Next up we checked in to our apartment which was awesome. Five women in a four bedroom apartment, five women who didn’t all know each other and I was the only link through. Again – no pressure. I’m so lucky to say that almost everyone I’ve met on my writing journey is a delight and these ladies, many of whom are already in my writing group, were no exception but that’s a lot of togetherness.

    Friday was all about meeting people – I did a pitch, I helped a friend who came in as a journalist find her contacts for her story and I met writers I only knew from the internet. That’s a lot more for one little introvert.

    And then Friday night we dressed up for the cocktail party – fancy dress is actually good for introverts in my opinion. Dressed as someone else you can relax. Three of us went as old-fashioned cigarette girls and won second place in the fancy dress competition. Introverts don’t really want to go on stage and get a prize in front of 400 people but they do it.
    The rest of the conference is a bit of a blur but it was lovely to make new friends and catch up with old and see some good presentations. I especially enjoyed presentations by Kerri Arthur, Fiona McDonald and an intimate session where the publisher Esi Sogah from Kensington, New York. It’s a blur because that’s a lot for an introvert to take in.

    Then I came home and it was my birthday. It’s lovely to have a birthday and in a world where people are increasingly disconnected birthdays make people reach out and touch base.

    Finally I started a new role at a non-profit – in their office, with actual human beings, as opposed to working from my home office which I have done for years.

    That’s epic for an introvert. It’s a really positive move for me. You can have too much alone time. It makes you stagnant. Sometimes we need people to recharge us. (Maybe not so many people as I had this week but still it’s a good plan).

    Yes that was certainly a big week for introverted old me. It was a good week and a varied week and I don’t regret any of it but I sure was ready for a nice, quiet weekend.
    Turns out life didn’t get any quieter after that
    I wrote this blog post a month ago – a whole month. I guess that tells you how life has been tracking for me.

    This week I actually feel I might be finally getting my rhythm back and a sense of normalcy. Hopefully that means I can get my writing and blogging back on track too.

    This year has been one of those where every plan I’ve made has pretty much had to be changed at the last minute – from what I make for dinner to when I’ll release a book.

    I’m rolling with it but I do hope to get some control back soon.

    I have two more Upper Crust books and a Christmas novella I’d like to release this year….perhaps only two of those and the Christmas anthology I’m in is a more realistic goal.

    For those of you who have hung in with me, thank you.

    Now I better get my introverted self out of the house for the day.