• Blog

    Happy New Year and a ‘Taste of Tuesday’


    Sydney Harbour Fireworks over Opera HouseIt’s already January 1st in my corner of the universe and it’s Tuesday.

    This year I’m starting a new weekly post on Tuesday’s called “A Taste of Tuesday”. I’m inviting authors to submit an extract or a taste of their novel, answer a few food related questions and include a recipe – maybe one that relates to their novel or something they eat to get themselves through writer’s block…something related.

    So I thought I’d go first.

    Taste of Tuesday – a food-related author interview

    1. Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods (ie cheese or chocolate)?
    Easy for me I’m a savoury girl all the way. Look for me by the dip or cheese at a party.

    2. Red wine or white? (wine obviously)
    Red baby…though good champagne will never be refused.

    3. Do you have a favourite food memory?
    I have a couple. When I was a child my grandmother made an apple pie she called an Apple Charlotte. It was a pie with a very short crust and also it had chocolate icing..it sounds weird but it was heaven. She used to visit us when Iw as little and bring it to my house just for me on a ferry and two trains. I don’t think it is a coincidence my daughter is called Charlotte.

    My most amazing meal ever taste-wise was in a tiny hold in the wall family restaurant in Assisi, Italy. I ate truffle pasta and it was heavenly.

    4. Does food feature in your novel(s)?
    In Mr Right and Other Mongrels Allegra likes to cook organic, in Hearts Afire the lovely Cassie is a caterer and in my next novel Alphabet Dating Serena has an obsession with soups, so I would have to say – yes!

    5. What recipe are you sharing with us and why?
    I’m cheating. I actually have my own food blog so I’m going to add the link. You can pop on over to see lots of my favourite recipes…for example today I’m making the ribs featured on the site!

    (I’ll come back and do a new post here on Taste of Tuesday when Alphabet Dating is released).

    Excerpt -Mr Right and Other Mongrels

    My mother, however, was going nowhere. Worse than that she kept leering at Teddy, which simply made me uncomfortable.

    I really didn’t know what was going on with Teddy and me but I surely didn’t want anything going on between Teddy and Moonbeam.

    “Teddy, do you want to help me get some dinner together?”

    “No Allegra, he can stay and keep me company.” She was good.

    “How about we both help Ally out.” What a guy.

    So we piled into my small kitchen with her standing a bit too close to Teddy for my liking.

    “So what are we having?”

    “Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and a salad.”

    “Cool, what can I do?’

    I had already cooked the potatoes so I put Teddy to work mashing them. And I pulled down a jar of sauce I had made from organic tomatoes earlier in the summer and put it on to simmer.

    Teddy looked at me quizzically “You jar your own sauce?”

    “Uhmm yes”. I was always kind of embarrassed by my love of cooking. It makes me seem like a possessed potential housewife or something. I mean I know you don’t go to a club and discuss organic cooking; it doesn’t get the men flocking. Ultimately though I just like to cook and eat well.

    “Well, Allegra, that being the case I may have to marry you.” He winked just so I’d know he wasn’t serious. “I’ll grow the veggies and you can make the sauce.”

    I noticed Moonbeams dark eyes got a tad darker and flashed a bit wilder.

    “I don’t know that there is room for a veggie patch in my flat or your designer terrace either for that matter,” I laughed.

    “Well, we’ll just have to move to the country.”

    “Sorry can’t leave the shop.”

    “I’m heartbroken,” he feigned distress as he mashed. “I offer to give up my lucrative TV career and to grow veggies and marry you and you won’t leave the bookshop!”

    You can read more about Allegra and Teddy in Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    Girl Holding Books Illustration


    Anne R. Allen
    1/1/2013 11:03:10 am

    This is such a fun idea for interviews–a creative new twist for getting to know an author and introducing new books. I came over from the Facebook “Official Chick Lit” page. Happy New Year!

  • Blog

    2013 the writing year that was


    Mr Right and Other MongrelsIt’s New Year’s Eve and as we all know it’s a time for reflection if we choose to let it be.
    Looking back on my year a whole lot happened in the writing zone for me.

    I blogged pretty much the whole year and with pretty consistently. Along the way I got to meet and interview loads of wonderful authors and grill them about their writing process and learn about their books so that was a whole lot of fun.

    In May of course, I launched my first book Mr Right and Other Mongrels which was quite a trip! It’s been en entirely positive experience and I learnt so much from going through it.

    I also learnt that even you would think getting the second book out afterwards would be easier – surely I learnt something from the first one – that was not the case and Hearts Afire ended up taking three extra months to hit the shelves as a result of a series of delays. That’s why when people ask me when is the next book out I’m now very reluctant to say a date or even a month out loud because I’m now aware that I could be speaking nonsense.





    Hearts AfireAnyway Hearts Afire eventually hit the shelves in October and that has been a whole lot of fun as well.

    Thanks to all of you who bought, reviewed, blogged, tweeted or shared the news of my books to the universe. I deeply appreciate your support.

    I’ve learnt a bit more about promotion via social media along this journey and have met some amazing people out there in cyber-space which has been lots of fun. I’ve met some wonderful authors and some cool readers as well.

    I’ve also done lots of wonderful things as part of my writing year. I had a great weekend away with members of my writing group back in February.

    I attended several events at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May and hung with some wonderful friends and authors.

    I went to the Gold Coast for the RWA in August where I had an amazing time and met some wonderful authors – some whom I had ‘met’ in cyber space and some who were entirely new to me. It was a wonderful experience.

    I’ve also been lucky enough to attend book launches for several old friends this year including Edwina Shaw and Pamela Cook.




    So if 2012 was anything to go by I expect to have an exciting time in 2013!

    Here are a few snapshots of the year that was.

    Writer Friends Group PhotoSome of the Writers’ Dozen in Milton in February for a writing retreat.

    Monique McDonell Kindle Digital Launch Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Virtual book launch for Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    Hearts Afire Paperback Cover Preview
    Hearts Afire paperbacks!

    Favel, Monique McDonell and Edwina Shaw

    Catch up with Favel Parrett and Edwina Shaw in Sydney. Two of the Joondi 8.

    Pamela Cook and Monique McDonell at Book Launch for Blackwattle Lake

    With the lovely Pamela Cook at her December book launch.

  • Blog

    Q&A with author Linda Schmalz


    1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
    For “A Lonely Sky” which is a women’s fiction romance, I got the idea listening to the song “Lonely Sky” by Chris Deburg. For “What Dead Women Want” (a quirky paranormal), I’ve always believed in ghosts, I actually babysat in the house mentioned in the book, and love the show “Ghost Hunters”.

    2. When did you take up writing?
    I’ve always loved to write, but didn’t seriously put pen to paper, or my fingers to the keyboard until about ten years
    ago, when I became a stay-at-home mom.

    3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    It depends on the novel how important the setting is. In “A Lonely Sky” the setting would be important
    because it represents the huge fracture in the relationship of Sam and Julia. In “What Dead Women Want” the setting is very important because it’s all about a haunted house in a small town.

    4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    I’m currently working on a historical romantic suspense set in 1912. I love my heroine, she’s a fiesty, stubborn yet sweet, Irish immigrant, but I also love writing my villain too, because it’s so fun to be bad!

    5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    To read “On Writing” by Stephen King and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”.

    6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
    No. I try to write in the afternoons and the evenings, but life happens and things get interrupted. It is
    a dream of mine to be able to spend the majority of my day writing, but I have to remind myself that I’m so blessed to have a family to take care of, and they always come first.

    7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
    I always have the main frame of the story in my head, i.e. the beginning, ending and major plot points. But the rest falls into place as I go, and it’s always a delightful surprise how each chapter turns out! I may think I know how a chapter is going to go, but once the characters start interacting, they kind of take over the scene and I let them run with it. So fun!

    8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
    Only three or four? Okay, let’s go! “The Middlesteins” by Jami Attenberg, “Dangerous Inheritance” by Allison Weir, “The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowlings, and “The Inn at Rose Harbor” by Debbie Macomber.

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m currently working on a historical romantic suspense set in 1912. It’s about a young and lovely (of course!) Irish immigrant who finds herself alone in New York City when her fiance’ suddenly perishes. There’s romance, suspense,
    intrigue, a really nasty villain and a fun plot twist you won’t see coming!

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
    Join writer’s groups. Get more than one critique partner. Go to writing conferences. Never stop trying. Believe in
    yourself, and most importantly, keep writing!

    You can find Linda at her blog

    Here books can be found at:
    A Lonely Sky:
    Amazon: http://amzn.com/B0058ZWZ78

    B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-lonely-sky-linda-schmalz/1031810364?ean=9781466491694

    What Dead Women Want: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B005VG3D5M

    B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-dead-women-want-linda-schmalz/1106971484?ean=9781468040869

  • Blog

    Merry Christmas – have a bargain book or two


    $1.99 Christmas Sale 2012 Banner
    Hearts Afire
    This Christmas I’m participating in this sale with authors at anindieaffair.

    Pop over there to read about the books and the 12 authors participating with over 20 books at $1.99.

    Both my books will be available for just $1.99 through December 26th or Boxing Day (Australian time).

    If you haven’t already take the opportunity to download Hearts Afire or Mr Right and Other Mongrels. If you do I’d love you to pop back and let me know if you enjoyed them.





    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    I wish you a very Merry Christmas, or Festivus and best wishes for a wonderful 2013 filled with love, laughter and books.

  • Blog

    An Australian Christmas Carol


    Here in Australia we see an awful lot of Christmas images that really don’t pertain to us. We don’t build snowmen, ride sleighs and drink egg nog because it’s hot hot hot at Christmas. Today it’s in the 90’s at my place.

    Most of the carols are all about sleigh-bells, white Christmases and roasting chestnuts a whilst lovely and traditional well, somewhat out of step with our life.

    Here however is one lovely song by the amazing Rolf Harris – Six White Boomers. (On an unrelated note although they looked nothing alike as younger men, my father now looks so much like Rolf Harris people ask him for his autograph.)

    There is also a wonderful illustrated book and CD pack of this so the kids can read and sing along.

    It’s not much of a video so I suggest you listen rather than look.

    Merry Christmas from Australia.


    12/22/2012 01:47:28 pm

    Thanks Mon, after our Christmas yacht race on Sydney Harbour today, we were discussing who had grown up with this over our BBQ lunch. We had two Germans and two Canadians on board so a new experience for them! HB
    12/22/2012 03:08:50 pm

    How fun…it’s one of our family favourites here…we like to boom out the chorus!

  • Blog

    Guest post by 12 year old Charlotte – last minute Christmas book recommendations for 10-13 year old set.


    CharlotteI asked my 12 year old to put together a guest post today with book recommendations for 10-13year olds. Here is what she came up with. She is an avid reader but she focussed on series that she thinks have mass appeal to both boys and girls.


    For a series of action packed books that’s great for girls and guys the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson is a brilliant choice. I’d recommend this book to ages 12 and up. It’s an awesome book about six kids who are 2% bird and have wings along with multiple other strange abilities. They’ve escaped from a science facility that’s trying to destroy them but now they have to destroy it before it destroys the world for a reason they’re not quite sure of. It’s an amazing series and I couldn’t stop reading it I was never sure what would happen next and the narrator, a girl called Maximum Ride, was always making witty comments making me laugh or smirk.

    Despite the action packed awesomeness there were hidden messages in it about loyalty, friendship and how just because we’re different that doesn’t mean we’re not awesome. This is a great series and I really hope you read it and it brings you as much joy as it did me. For rating this 1-10 this is a definite 10.


    Another series that will captivate kids is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. This is a spectacular series about a boy called Percy Jackson the son of the Greek god Poseidon, god of the sea. He goes from a normal life into one full of monsters, magic and other dangerous things he couldn’t even begin to imagine. He meets new friends, enemies and has to overcome challenges he didn’t think he could. I’m in love with this series and am currently enjoying the sequel to the brilliant series and seeing some of my favourite characters come back to face stunning challenges. I recommend this book for ages 11 to fourteen and the second series 11 to maybe 16 or possibly 17. On a scale of 1-10 this series is a 9 ¾. This book is great for guys and girls.


    A trilogy of books that is also brilliant is the Sun Sword trilogy by Belinda Murrell. The trilogy is about four kids in a strange world where their land has been invaded by an invading country and they take it upon themselves to save it. But what can a princess, a tailor’s son, a healer’s daughter and a horseman’s son do against a trained and armed army? If you read you’ll find out won’t you. I’m crazy about these books and have read the trilogy 3 times. I recommend this book for ages 10-13 or maybe 14. On a scale of 1-10 this book would be an eight or a nine. I hope you love this Aussie author’s books just as much as I did and still do.


    by Charlotte


    12/21/2012 09:20:38 am

    What a great post, Charlotte! My sister who is quite a few years past her teens enjoyed the Maximum Ride series, too. You may have persuaded me to give them a read.

  • Blog

    A catch-up and a review of my free days on Amazon KDP


    Hearts Afire
    I know it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog this past week.

    In Australia the festive season coincides with a mad scramble for everyone to get all their work done before Christmas, when most people have their summer holidays/vacation and also the end of the school year.

    This year my lovely daughter is finishing Primary School. Here our school system runs a bit differently than in the US for example and we have no middle school so they finish Primary school at the end of 6th grade and head straight to High School. The end of primary school means farewells, dinners, graduation ceremonies and in my case – lots of tears.

    Just before the madness began last week I had my first experience of Amazon KDP’s free days with Hearts Afire. If you have a book enrolled in this program you can have 6 free days a month.

    I’d never done it before so I did lots of reading about other author’s experiences and what they did to maximise the opportunity. The reality is you’re aiming to reach people who don’t already know about you when you do something like this not your mother or your friend from the office.

    There are lots of websites, twitter services and facebook pages that let readers know about free books every day so I made a list of them and contacted as many as I could. Some you need a certain number of reviews to qualify for, others need a week’s notice, some want you to pay so you need to look at them on a book by book basis. I didn’t do any paid services because honestly I had no idea if that was worth it for me.

    I chose a weekend because I thought it would be easier for me to keep track of what was happening. I also felt people have more time to read on weekends. I don’t know if that’s true or not and I do know lots of people download books just because they’re free and never read them as well, heck I’ve even done that myself.

    So how did it go? By the end of the two day’s sale I was #3 in free contemporary romance and #8 in the free Amazon store which was pretty amazing. That meant over 15,000 people had downloaded my book. That’s pretty amazing really.
    As a writer your goal is to have people read your work…of course you’d prefer they paid for it…but actually the objective after the joy of writing is to find an audience.

    So I wondered how that would affect my sales when the book was back at $2.99 which is still not a huge cost for a book, is it?

    It’s now 10 days later and the book was up at around the #1,700 mark in the Kindle store right after the promotion ended.

    What this has obviously meant is people have been able to find the book because the sales especially the first three days after the promotion were very good. That was my objective – to be found. I also had sales on Mr Right and Other Mongrels, which I was hoping for, nothing like on Hearts Afire but I’ll take them!

    It also meant people found the book to borrow it. Not one person had borrowed the book before the promotion and lots of people have done so since.

    Sales have declined slowly but are still much better day by day than they were beforehand.

    The upshot is this promotion, for me anyway, was very successful.

    Lots of people have said the free days aren’t working for them anymore. My experience was entirely positive. Why? Perhaps because the book is romance and romance readers are pretty savvy. Perhaps because I had never had a free book before so I was ‘new’ to the readers. Perhaps the beautiful cover caught people’s eye. Perhaps because at least some of the promotional pages I contacted did include my book in their free days promotions (though lots didn’t).

    Honestly, I don’t know exactly why it succeeded but it did and I’m happy about that.

    I’d love to hear other people’s experiences of free days or their thoughts on the topic.


    12/18/2012 06:55:20 pm

    I will confess your free offer reminded me to buy your other book. I have not read either yet but wish you all the luck with your writing.

    Anna Hackett
    12/18/2012 11:05:39 pm

    Hi Monique – so pleased to hear your free days went so well! And Hearts Afire really does have a great cover!

    12/22/2012 04:35:06 am

    I just did a free day and was very happy with the results. I have almost 4000 free downloads. I have noticed a significant uptake in sales since the preview. I have also had some loans, and I had none before. I did the same as you with the free preview sites. And I also posted on a few spots on Goodreads and on Amazon itself on the forum. Am considering a second free preview day since the first one went so well.
    12/22/2012 08:23:53 am

    Thanks Marjorie and Anna….
    It is an interesting experience isn’t it Caroline…lots to learn and lots to gain from it.

  • Blog

    Summer and the beach in my books


    Foot Print in the SandIt’s summer in Sydney. I love summer. I’m not really designed for summer what with the red hair and the pale skin and the freckles but I love it anyway.

    I love the smell of the ocean, walking along the sand, the sound of waves crashing onto the shore. I love the sounds the birds and the insects make. The cicada song is like a lullaby to me.

    What I realised is this love of warmer climates is reflected in both the novels I released this year. Allegra in Mr Right and Other Mongrels lives at Manly Beach and her life revolves around the beach quite a bit.

    In Hearts Afire Cassie and Jack find themselves on a North Queensland tropical island also getting some sand between their toes.

    There is something so freeing about sunshine and summer, I think it reveals a different side to people and certainly I think it does for the characters in both these books.

    Here are some of my favourite beachy photos from this year on the blog…just to warm up those of you in cooler climes.

    Sculpture by the Sea Manly
    Manly Beach rock pools
    Manly Beach


    Pamela Cook
    12/13/2012 10:05:43 am

    Thanks for sharing the beach pics Monique. Hopefully we’ll get a decent summer this year and be able to get out there and enjoy it!

  • Blog

    Best dates and worst dates…


    Romantic couple with BalloonsI’m busy working on getting my third novel ready for release in January.

    The book is called Alphabet Dating and it’s the story of a girl (Serena) whose friends set her up on twenty-six dates in a month – you guessed it, one for every letter of the alphabet.

    Obviously I had to think up lots of interesting dates for Serena to go on – some fabulous and some a whole lot less fabulous.

    So best dates, worst dates…we’ve all had them.

    Share your story with me. Don’t worry the book is already written so I’m not going to steal your story (well not for this book anyway!)

    I haven’t been on any really bad dates, which is lucky for me…or if I have I’ve expunged the memory. Oh I did go to a dance once with a guy who refused to dance…that was a pretty dud experience but I think that’s not uncommon. Sad though because I do love to dance…

    Great dates…I’ve had a few of those…what about you?

  • Blog

    Christmas Guest Post on Magic from Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy


    One word often describes the holiday season: magic. Even though most of us find ourselves running fast in an effort to keep up with the increased activities, entertainments, and events we want to believe in magic. Maybe it dates back to our childhoods when the sparkle of Christmas lights strung on the tree or the appearance of Santa Claus made magic come alive.

    I suppose most kids believe in Santa at one point in their life although I’ve known a few parents who wouldn’t
    let the legend live for their broods. My own belief in the jolly old elf exceeded the basic expectations but
    then I have a very good reason for that – Santa Claus is my uncle.

    My Uncle Bill Puett put aside his everyday life as a delivery route man for Just-Rite Dairy in my hometown of
    St. Joseph, Missouri each December. Since he happened to be a large man year round, he fit the physical
    description to perfection and his demeanor happened to be both cheerful and giving. He started out playing
    Santa for some dairy promotions back in the day when Just-Rite featured special ice cream novelties for the holidays. Their individual serving size Christmas trees, Santa faces, and big ice cream cakes were a hit in northern Missouri and
    Uncle Bill promoted them well.

    He enjoyed the role so much he bought his own Santa Claus suit and before long, he filled those black boots
    like the real deal. I bought into the entire Santa thing with a whole heart as a young child. Why wouldn’t I when on a routine trip to a local supermarket Santa Claus himself approached me and called me by name? Or how about the Christmas Eve evening visit from my Aunt Janet who just happened to run across Santa Claus out on the
    walk and invite him to come in with her?

    So I grew up believing in Santa, hanging onto the mystery and magic a little longer than most kids probably do. And even when I learned the story of Santa Claus embodies the spirit of love and giving, I still believed in the magic if not the man.

    Believing in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is an important factor in my Christmas release from Rebel Ink Press. In Sing We Now of Christmas, my heroine is a young bride whose beloved husband fails to return from a Fourth of July fishing trip and is presumed dead. She doesn’t buy it and so she waits with hope in her heart for Christmas, the season when they first met for a miracle. If I hadn’t believed in Santa, then maybe I couldn’t believe in hope either.


    He fit into his faded Wranglers as if they’d been made just for his long legs and his pearl snap button blue patterned Western shirt suited him. He towered above her, taller by several inches even without the worn cowboy boots he wore.
    She inhaled his scent, a potent mixture of musky cologne, tobacco smoke, and beneath it all, Irish Spring soap.
    His hands, still holding her arms, were warm against her bare skin and she was glad, now, that she’d worn the black silk halter top despite the cold instead of the red sweater she’d worn to school. Jessica made her voice work with effort, “Thank you.”

    “No problem,” he said and she drank in his voice, strong and comforting with just enough Oklahoma twang to make it interesting. “Would you care to dance?”

    “I’d love it,” Jessica said as he released his grip on her arms to grab her hand instead. “My name’s Jessica Martin.”

    “I’m Johnny,” he said and she committed the name to memory, “Johnny Devereaux.”

    He led her onto the tiny dance floor just as Mark began to sing the softer, sweeter vintage country song, Lookin’ For Love. The old Johnny Lee song she remembered from that movie, Urban Cowboy, now felt like a theme song. She recalled watching it one late night in college, hating the boot scooting dance moves and the mechanical bull riding but loving the scene where Debra Winger danced to this same music with John Travolta. Such a coincidence she mused, Johnny Lee, John Travolta, and Johnny Devereaux.

    Johnny put his arms around her and she cuddled close against him for the slow dance. They swayed together, their easy motions in time with the music, and she felt safe. Jessica’s head fell short of his shoulder and so as they danced, she could hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. Above them, the stationary silver ball that must have once spun reflected the colorful Christmas lights strung above the bar and Jessica felt the strangest sense of coming home in his arms. She wanted to stay there forever, wrapped in that magic cocoon of his embrace, and hold this moment close to her heart.

    From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

    Website/blog: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogpspot.com

    Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

    Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I

    Buy Links:



    Book trailer:

    Sing We Now at Christmas