• Blog

    Miss Chicklit 2015 – Celebrating Chicklit May


    Miss Chick Lit 2015

    Miss ChickLit May Pageant – featuring Miss Allegra Johnston from Australia.
    Introduction: “Hi, my name is Allegra Johnston, and I’m representing the Nation of Australia! I run a second-hand bookshop and I’m passionate about vintage fashion and saving the environment, so I’m saving the planet one retro dress at a time, right. My dream is to make sure everyone around me is happy and has plenty to read…and world peace, I’m all about world peace. Is that right? Is that answer okay. I have never actually seen a pageant because I grew up without television…did I do okay?”
    Allegra Holding Books Illustration
    Doris DaySwimsuit
    I’m a not a huge fan of swimsuits in general, which is kind of a problem for me as I live at gorgeous Manly Beach in Sydney.

    I do love vintage fashion and look at the delightful and perky Doris Day in this swimsuit. I have one just like this for the pageant. It’s demure enough that I don’t feel naked and it has all this amazing sculptural boning inside it. I’m a girl with a curvy figure and this sort of swimsuit is perfect for me.

    You’ll never catch me in a teeny weeny itsy bitsy polka dot bikini or even worse a crocheted one (my hippy mother still wears those in her fifties, heaven help me!). This however is a swimsuit I can feel comfortable in, and a little bit sexy.

    My talent today harks back to my childhood. I’m doing an acoustic guitar medley of Joni Mitchell songs. My voice is sadly not as haunting as hers but I hope to capture her essence. I’ll be singing Both Sides Now, Big Yellow Taxi and I Wish I Had a River (to Skate Away on).

    What unique thing have you done to help the environment?
    You may not be aware of this but I grew up on a commune so I spent most of my childhood building solar homes and organic farming – basically I had to build my own home and grow my own food or I didn’t eat. I’m not sure how unique it is but I haven’t met too many other kids who have done it.

    ***If you want to know more about me you can read about me in the novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Mr Right and Other Mongrels

    Sephora Gift Card

    The Grand Prize for this international drawing will be:

    US/Canada winner – $100 gift card to Sephora

    UK winner – £65 gift card to Lush Cosmetics

    Australia winner – $125AUD to Mecca



    How to enter: Answer this question in the comments below and LEAVE YOUR EMAIL so we can contact you if you win.

    What unique thing have you done to help the environment?
    A winner will be chosen via Random.org on Monday, May 18th.

    For more chances to win and to meet the other Miss Chick Lit Pageant Contestants visit these wonderful author pages:


    Pippa Franks
    5/11/2015 12:43:25 am

    Great post Monique! 🙂 x

    Nicole Skalij
    5/11/2015 01:25:49 am

    ….hmm I recycle every week and use my com-poster to help my gardens.
    5/11/2015 11:27:49 am

    You need to leave your email to go in the draw Nicole.

    Whitney Dineen
    5/11/2015 01:57:57 am


    Celia Kennedy
    5/11/2015 04:27:14 am

    Loved this… brave to take on a whole nation. I think I need that swimsuit… but I have no musical talent.

    I became a Landscape Architect that specialized in ecologically friendly resort development (true dat)!

    Bethany Clark
    5/11/2015 04:50:30 am

    I really do not do anything unique per say, but my 5 year old is very in to recycling now and he shows me what to do every day!
    5/11/2015 11:28:52 am

    I love how earnest kids are. (You need to leave your email to go in the draw) You can leave it in this form if you prefer

    Catherine Lavoie
    5/11/2015 06:37:28 am

    Great post! 🙂 Love that Doris Day-inspired suit!

    5/11/2015 09:06:19 am

    I love the title of your book! can’t wait to read it

    Tracy Krimmer
    5/11/2015 09:18:22 am

    Great post!

    Glynis Astie
    5/11/2015 09:34:48 am

    Nicely done, Monique! I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Allegra again. 🙂

    Gina Henning
    5/11/2015 10:58:43 am

    I love “Wish I had a River” by Joni Mitchell and cute suit!
    5/11/2015 11:27:03 am

    That song always makes me mist up!
    5/11/2015 11:26:23 am

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I have a retro swimsuit similar to that which is black and white check…quite flattering.

    Monique McDonell
    5/11/2015 11:29:55 am

    You can leave it as Monique (at) gmail.com if that makes you feel more secure.

    5/11/2015 11:53:34 am

    I’ve reused food containers to make holders for things like my makeup – floyddg@hotmail.com

    steven weber
    5/11/2015 04:28:36 pm

    I take shorter showers

    Tracie Banister
    5/12/2015 06:56:18 am

    Fun post, Monique! I think that Allegra and Willa (from my book, Twin Piques) would get along well since they both love vintage fashion!

    Jessica Meddick
    5/12/2015 07:06:56 am

    I recycle.

    5/14/2015 07:45:48 am

    I self published a Meatless Protein Cookbook on Amazon encouraging people to eat less meat, to save on energy, land, and water.

    5/18/2015 04:20:54 am

    I’m shireen, this is my comment, I’m adding my email address:

    5/14/2015 09:06:43 am

    I wish I could say that I’ve done something unique to save the environment but the only thing I can think of that I do is recycle. I do my best to recycle all paper and plastic products and have influenced my family to do their best to separate recyclable bottles and cans too. I’m open to some clever and creative ideas though!


  • Blog

    Character Interview with Allegra Johnson from Mr Right and Other Mongrels


    ChickLitLove Promo BannerAs part of #ChickLitLove (oragnised by the wonderful ladies at @ChickLitChat) I’m taking part in some fun events here on the blog and on twitter this week.

    Today in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day we have a Q&A with Allegra from Mr Right and Other Mongrels. Although a true romantic Allegra hasn’t exactly been lucky in love so let’s get her thoughts on romance, shall we?

    1)What three qualities do you find most attractive in a partner?
    I find stability very attractive, I had kind of a bumpy childhood so I like a bit of consistency in my men. I’m big on loyalty because I’ve been burned before and I’m not looking to go through that again. Finally I like some good old fashioned manners and courtesy, that might not be fashionable but then I’m not really the most fashion forward girl on the planet.

    2) What’s your idea of romance?
    Romance is walking hand in hand on the beach under the moonlight. However, once you get past that initial blush it is also about showing up, remembering the details and creating a life together. I’m kind of a hopeless romantic. I want a happily ever after, but I’m not exactly expecting one.

    3) Who’s your favorite on-screen couple (Film or TV)?
    You know I did have quite an obsession with Carol and Mike Brady for a while. It was a pity he was gay and she was dating her eldest son off screen, that kind of ruined it. Still, on screen, I loved the way they had such a united approach to their kids and family, plus their colour coordinated flares gave them a touch of something special.

    4) What’s been your most embarrassing moment in regards to the opposite sex?
    One embararssing moment? You want me to choose just one? Seriously most of my encounters with the opposite sex are embarassing…can we please talk about something else?

    5) What was your first impression of your partner or crush? How accurate was it?
    You know I’m very embarassed to say that I didn’t recognise him when I saw him the second time (or the first, apparently everyone in Australia but me would have instantly known him). Admittedly I was quite focussed on having a panic attack and getting away from the humiliation that caused the first time I met him so I did avoid looking at him and eye contact. Still, he’s so cute and my goodness that smile, I don’t know how even I managed to forget that face.

    6) How have you coped with break-ups in the past?
    WOW, do we have to talk break-ups? My last break up was very, very awkward. I caught my boyfriend sleeping with someone, I can’t even tell you who, it’s too awful (if you read the book you’ll understand why). So I just kind of went into a bit of a funk, swore off men and made a nice neat life for myself that revolved around my friends and my business.

    7) Which hot actor would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with and why?
    I like old movies, anything vintage works for me, so I think Cary Grant and I would probably have a fine time on a deserted island. I don’t think we’d last long but we’d look stylish as we went.

    8) What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?

    I haven’t really done anything crazy for love yet but I have a feeling Teddy Green, who is also in Mr Right and Other Mongrels is going to have me going all kinds of crazy.

    9) PDA: How much is acceptable?
    I’m not really all that good with PDA’s for myself. I mean you may go right ahead and snog whomever you like where ever you like, I grew up on a commune so I have seen it all before and I’m not here to judge. Personally when I’m in a relationship I’m more of a hand holding in public and peck on quick kiss on the lips girl, I think some things are just between the two people involved.

    10) What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten?
    The best relationship advice I’ve been given – I just don’t know. I think it is follow your heart, but I don’t exactly trust my heart so it’s quite hard to know where to follow it to.


    Allegra Holding Books IllustrationI hope you enjoyed reading my answers. I think my new boyfriend Teddy will be sharing some of his thoughts on women later this week.









    Mr Right and Other Mongrels

    Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0086L8NBS

  • Blog

    Time to get back in the saddle (or back to the desk)


    Los Angeles Trolly TourWell I’m home safe and sound after my lovely research trip and vacation.

    Now it’s time to get down to some serious hard work…maybe not today while the jetlag is messing with me…but tomorrow.

    I thought I’d give you a little update on the research trip and what I have planned for the later half of 2013. (Am I the only one who is absolutely blown-away by the fact it is July? My guess is probably not.)

    First up I have the cover for the next novel Building Attraction which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and I’ll be revealing that in the next week or so. I’ll also be sending that book to the beta readers in the next couple of weeks and then off to the editor so I am hoping for an August release. My birthday is in August, maybe I’ll give myself a book launch for my birthday.

    Look forward to some excerpts and teasers in the lead-up to it’s release.

    The research trip was super fun and I met some very cool people as well as seeing some great sites. I visited a lot of places that will definitely end up in the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    I did lots of things I think Allegra would do when she moved to L.A and I visited some great places I know she would adore. I also had some pretty funny experiences that I think she might have (of all my characters she is the one most like me…even if I am several years older, married and was not raised by people with any hippy like tendencies at all!) I visited some really beautiful gardens to help me do some research for what Teddy might be up to in L.A as well.

    Hopefully now I’ll get my writing and blogging groove on again.

    I’m always looking for authors to interview here on the blog so if you are one, let me know.

    In the latter part of this year I’m also planning to add videos to this blog. Yes that’s what you all want in your life isn’t it? Me talking about books and writing. First I need to get my hair done, work on a flattering camera angle and maybe even have a make-over…well I’m, not really having a make-over but I did bring a bucket load of make-up home from the US. (I could do an entire blog post on my adventures in make-up shopping and the price gauging of the Australian consumer on make-up, but I shall resist!)

    So that’s where I’m at…lots of plans for my novels and my blog in the next six months so stay tuned, or keep reading and if the urge hits, le

  • Blog

    LA research trip!


    Los Angeles View Hollywood Hills and Hollywood SignI write this blog post on a Friday night in LA. To say I’m a tad tired would be an understatement. Still, anything in the name of research right?

    I’ve been in town since Tuesday and I think my friends and I have covered a whole lot of territory in essentially three full days.

    This is a research trip for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels so I am trying to see LA through the eyes of the main character Allegra. I want to view things through the prism of her experiences and interests.

    She likes vintage clothing and I found this wonderful shop on Sunset. I also visited some very cool vintage shops in Old Town Pasadena.

    (OK that’s as far as I made it on that tired Friday…it’s now Tuesday in Maui…nine days later…every single day has been go, go, go and I am exhausted in a really good way.)

    Lucky for me I made great notes at the beginning of my trip and took at least a zillion photos because every wonderful day has blurred into the other.

    I can tell you that if Allegra’s L.A. experience is anything like mine was she will eat well, shop lots, visit some amazing, gardens, meet some cool people and have some very funny experiences…stay tuned for more information…when my brain is working again!



    7/3/2013 06:38:45 am

    And if Allegra is anything like you (which she is!), L.A. is going to love her!!

  • Blog

    Dog phobias, leash laws and free books


    Dog on Pile of BooksThis week I was talking to mum about a specific incident from my childhood which made me remember how much of a daily issue my dog phobia used to be.

    It’s less of an issue now because my phobia is less acute partly because we have better leash laws in Australia than we did in the ’70’s and 80’s so one doesn’t get chased by random dogs the way one did then.

    Anyway, on this particular afternoon I arrived home to see a fire truck at the end of our driveway. The house was set back from the road at the end of a long drive that was shaded by an avenue of trees. You really couldn’t see the house from the street so all I could see was a fire truck. I knew my mother an sister were home so you can imagine I was a little bit panicked. (They were fine it was just a fuse box that caught fire!)

    As we reflected on the events of that afternoon my mum said she had run up the drive several times to head me off, so I wouldn’t be worried but I took forever to get home from the station. That we concluded was because I was probably bailed up by a dog and sitting on the bonnet of a car until the dog went away….just like Allegra in Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    That happened to me an awful lot. There were two routes home from the station. One had two dogs and one had one but the one dog was more vicious than either of the other two but statistics were against you if you took that path. My sister and I deliberated the route often. If I was alone I ran the gauntlet without support.

    You can see how a phobia can escalate under those circumstances can’t you? (If you were scared of snakes and had to face them every day I’m not sure you’d just get over it either!)

    I had coffee with an old school friend of mine who always had dogs and we were discussing this. Sometimes you think you’re memory is exaggerated but she was able to reassure me that my phobia was as bad as I remember and that I regularly had a panic attack when her dog met me at their front door (good times).

    My dog phobia was pretty crippling by my twenties. When I met my husband I would only picnic in two places in Sydney because they were dog free – on a sandy beach or in a National Park.

    Luckily for me improved leash laws mean I no longer get chased down suburban streets and I can move about more freely.

    If you’d like to read about how Allegra deals with a similar phobia in Mr Right and Other Mongrels it is free right now

  • Blog

    Musical Monday – California Dreamin’


    Mr Right and Other MongrelsThe weather has turned rather autumnal this weekend in Sydney.

    My backyard is a sea of brown, orange and yellow leaves that make an inviting crunch when I walk to the clothesline. The wind has picked up and there is a definite chill in the air.

    I’m not really an autumn and winter girl. I should be I suppose with my Celtic colouring but the truth is I prefer to feel the warm sunshine on my back than just about anything else. I seem to have cold toes from May to September and when I sit and type my hands get icy cold.

    Lucky for me in just on a month I’m heading to LA on a research trip for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    Lots of readers want to know what happens to Teddy and Allegra next and so I’m going to write their story. I never intended to write a sequel but now that I am I’m excited about it.

    So, because that’s what I’m doing today, in here’s a little California Dreamin’.
    1 Comment
    5/19/2013 12:36:38 pm

    California is dreaming of you, too, Monique!! Just a month to go!!

  • Blog

    Character interview with Allegra from Mr Right and Other Mongrels

    Girl Holding Books IllustrationI know lots of authors who do character interviews with their characters and I thought now that Mr Right and Other Mongrels has been out a while I would do an interview with Allegra – just to check in and see how she’s doing.

    1. Hi Allegra, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I know you’re quite private so I appreciate it.

    No problem. It does feel a bit weird having all this attention, honestly. My friends say now that I’m going out with a celebrity I might have to learn to adjust.

    2. So speaking of celebrities, how is Teddy going?
    He’s fine. He’s in L.A. working on his new show, which is very exciting. I’ve been to visit but now I’m getting ready to make a more permanent or semi-permanent (I feel more comfortable with it when I say it like that) move.

    3. So that’s a big move for you! How are you feeling about it?
    You know I’m really, really nervous. I mean Sydney is my home. My bookshop is my home and all my friends are here. I’m going to miss the store, getting up and jogging every morning…everything. Still, everyone assures me I can do it and it looks like I’ll get lots of visitors because Justin has a trip planned already and so do the firls so maybe it will all be Ok.

    4. I hear there’s some great vintage clothing in L.A. That has to be exciting for you.
    Absolutely! I can’t wait to go shopping properly and find a place to live and explore the city.

    5. I have to ask – what will happen to Muffin (that big old dog)?
    Oh my goodness, that is a long, long story…you’ll have to read the next book to find out about Muffin, and about what happens with Teddy and I, because I can’t tell you because I don’t even know yet.

    Dog on Pile of Books
    I’ll be doing a research trip to L.A for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels in June…so stay tuned for a release date.











    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Mr Right and Other Mongrels is available on Amazon.

  • Blog

    Photo Friday


    Beach view from towelI thought I’d start a new trend on this blog called photo Friday. I’ll try and get a photo up that relates to my novels or my writing life (Be warned you may see lots of coffee cups). Yes I know it’s Saturday in Sydney but it’s still Friday in lots of places and I did take these on a Friday so I’m going to pretend it counts.

    Yesterday afternoon I happened to be at the beach with my daughter and her friends. This beach features in Mr Right and Other Mongrels briefly. Allegra often takes her morning un around to this beach. She’s certainly not alone. This is a very popular pathway to ride, walk or run.

    The beach is also a popular spot to snorkel and scuba dive and yesterday the water was warm and crystal clear and there loads of international tourists making the most of it, and a few locals.

    Anyway my walk down to the beach had me thinking about hidden treasures tucked away in some of our favourite spots and how we associate certain images with certain places and often miss the other aspects of a suburb or town or setting.

    So here are a couple of other images from the same spot. I’m not the world’s best photographer and I was balancing towels, shoes, snacks, picnic blankets, a bowl of watermelon and bottles of water as I took these.
    Hidden Leafy Beach Path

    Morton Bay Fig Tree

    Mr Right and Other MongrelsMr Right and Other Mongrels


    2/8/2013 04:01:29 pm

    Nice to see where Allegra hung out!

  • 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!