• Blog

    #1000wordsaday in 2015 – or the New Year’s resolution post


    Electric Keyboard and Coffee CupYou know what the end of December is – that lovely time when we make New Year’s resolutions and then, in many cases, cross our fingers and hope they’ll stick.

    As a writer always goal-setting. I often fall short of the goals I set myself but by having the plan and the goals I get more hits than I do misses. Still, writing can be lonely and finding motivation is hard. I’m lucky that I have a lovely writer’s group here in Sydney and I am a member of some great online groups for chicklit authors as well.

    Still sometimes the motivation to focus on the writing slides.

    After doing #NaNoWriMo yet again in 2014 I looked at the lessons that I could learn from that and I decided that I really could find time to write 1,000 words a day. Not all of those words would be brilliant and many will get the chop later but I could put pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard and write them.

    Thus, I decided to make that my writing resolution for 2015. 1,000 words a day or 365,000 words across the year (That sounds scary but 1,000 words a day doesn’t).

    Then this week I thought about what motivates me and I realised the group force of #NaNoWriMo was another of its strengths so I set up a Facebook group for writers who also want to write #1000wordsaday.

    Here it is if you would like to join:

    Or if you would like to follow my progress you can follow the hashtag #1000wordsaday on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter for regular updates.

    My next post will be looking back a 2014 and forward to the year ahead.


    Isabella Louise Anderson
    12/31/2014 07:57:13 am

    What a great idea, Monique! Good luck to you!
    1/1/2015 10:09:49 am

    Thanks Isabella. So far I’m off to a good start!

  • Blog

    Competition – Me and My Pie – a chance to win an Amazon GC


    NaNoWriMo Participant 2014 BadgeIt’s Wednesday. Did you know that? Somehow I missed the start of the week and bam, here I am.

    One reason is I finished (won as they say) #NaNoWriMo on Monday. 24 days, 50,000 words no wonder some things slipped, like blogging. Oh well, we’re back on track now.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate. I do because even though I am Australian, i like the idea of sitting with family and being grateful. There’s not enough gratitude in the world. I’m certainly not thankful enough in my day to day life so any opportunity to be thankful I embrace. It’s a good reminder – and there is pie.

    This week two of my books are 99c. Any Way You Like it which features plenty of pies and Alphabet Dating which features two Thanksgivings.

    For details visit my Amazon Author Page

    And I’m running a competition this week. Take a photo of you and your Thanksgiving pie(s) and share here or on Facebook to go in the running to win a $20 Amazon GC. (I’ll do a random draw among the entrants).

    I’ll upload my own pie photos when I’ve made my pies.

  • Blog

    #NaNoWriMo at the half way point and a song of encouragement on Musical Monday


    Monique McDonell Amazon Author Page ScreenshotA photo of my Amazon author page.

    So we’ve passed the half-way point in NaNoWriMo and I’ve crossed 40,000 words for the month today. I think this is my best result ever. I can’t remember as far back as my first time (I’m talking about NaNoWriMo people, keep it clean).

    Regardless that’s a pretty good result and I will own it, pat my self on the back and feel good.

    Last Thursday I had a stall at the local night markets and saw lots of people I knew and sold lots of books. I was reminded of how many people still read paperbacks and don’t use e-readers or tablets to read.

    The good news is my first FIVE novels are all available now as paperbacks from Amazon.

    Pop by my author page and purchase them from there. They’ll post the straight to you. If you are in Australia and want me to send you a copy just let me know.

    Here is a link to the Amazon Author Page also note in the picture above you can favorite it now to get regular updates about upcoming releases.

    Speaking of pictures I also had some new author photos taken last week, so look out for a slightly updates image and across all my platforms. I really hate having my photo taken that way. It feels weird and unnatural. I wonder if the Gen Y and Gen Z writers who have grown up in the selfie age are more natural under such pressure. Perhaps.

  • Blog

    Random writing facts on a Musical Monday

    Monique McDonell Paperbacks - Hearts Afire, Building Attraction, A Fair Exchange, Alphabet Dating, Mr Right and Other MongrelsToday I’ll just share with you some random facts about my writing life.

    * I write best between 10am-1pm and 4-7pm. This is good to know because if you’re organising your day to get a big word count, or solve an issue in your writing it’s so much better to work during your best times. Some people think they’re morning people (I do not think this about myself even a teeny tiny bit) but when they analyse their actual output they discover that the morning may not be their most productive time.

    * I really love the thrill of creating a new story. I like getting to know my characters and their friends. I like beginnings in life as well and even though I can be a tad wimpy I like new experiences. Starting a new story is like going on an adventure and I do like an adventure.

    * I’m reasonably disciplined with my self (I’ve worked alone for a lot of years now) but I can’t force creativity. I need to write a story about a chicken/a love triangle/ a murder will probably shut me down. For whatever reason I can’t just create a premise, some people can I guess.

    * I like a challenge. At the time of writing I’ve done 27,000 words of my NaNoWriMo in 10 days. I took 2 of those days off. That’s a pretty good effort. I’m not a competitive person (in fact competition makes me anxious, it is why I don’t enjoy sports) but I do compete with myself and so challenges like NaNoWriMo are good for me.

    * I’m doing a book stall at a local market night this week. I haven’t done one in two years and things like this scare the snot out of me. I feel self-conscious and embarrassed for some reason. Lots of authors are like that so be kind to them in these situations.

    * My first five books are all available in paperback now via Amazon…order a copy here .
    Musical Monday again and today I have chosen a fun classic – Who Wrote the Book of Love.

  • Blog

    Growing the #NaNoWriMo word count, ordering print copies and singing along on #MusicalMonday


    Crazy Busy Messy Work Space
    November already and that means NaNoWriMo is underway.

    Here’s a little update from me this far. As I type (4pm)my word count is 13, 038 words thus far. I managed 6,000 on Saturday, and just over 4,000 tomorrow. I feel I can probably manage a few more today so hopefully another 4,000 word day.

    That seems like a lot and it is. I don’t write like that normally. The truth is I didn’t have anything I had to do this weekend socially and so I didn’t make any plans. My husband was working and my daughter was recovering from exam week so she was fine with having a mellow time of it. That allowed me the luxury of indulging myself by doing not much besides writing.

    The weeks don’t work that way. I have work deadlines, social commitments, places to take the kid to and from. I like to get ahead when I can so that when reality hits hard I don’t fall too far behind.

    Take a look at that photo up there. That’s my writing space. We’re half way through repainting the inside of our very open plan house. So that means this week I’ll be shunted around in the chaos. Oh yes, I probably should help a little so that takes time. A very good incentive to get head, don’t you think?

    Alphabet Dating, A Fair Exchange and Building Attraction Paperbacks
    Aren’t these pretty? I have paperbacks of my first five stand alone novels. They’ll be live on Amazon any day. I’ll let you know. I also have a box on their way to me as next week I’m having a table with another author at the local Christmas night markets. I hope I sell loads.
    It is always hard to sell e-books at something like that. I like selling paperbacks and one feels very authorial signing copies but the truth is I don’t make any more profit this way. Still, I’m well aware, especially here in Australia, how many people still prefer a paperback.

    And now for musical Monday. Let me find a song to fit the mood of my current project.

  • Blog

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo this Musical Monday


    NaNoWriMo Participant 2014 BadgeAnother Monday…another blog post.

    So much for my regular blogging the rest of the week. I hang my blogging head in shame. I didn’t manage anything since last Monday.

    It’s ten days until NaNoWriMo begins and so that means it is time to get my butt in gear. That means I have ten days to finish a romance novel under a pen name to get off to some BETA readers and I need to finish the draft of Book 2 in the series I’m writing Book 3 during November.

    So that’s writing one book, editing one book and planning one book. That seems a little bit much for me. I generally do better with my mind focused on one thing, not several.

    Bad luck Monique. Or as I often say here in real life “suck it up, Princess.” In order to succeed in November I need to do these things in October. They’re not optional.

    One thing I have tried to do is squeeze in some social activities this month so that November is not too full. The truth is here in Australia, while we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (although my little family does) November means end of year activities by the bucket-load. End of year lunches, dinners and catch-ups all happen in November. I’ve already got two Christmas lunches slotted in.

    Yep the big summer of fun that I so look forward to every year starts about mid-November, so I have to be judicious about what I commit to at the start of the month. I hope people understand but I’ve decided for once that it’s okay if they don’t. I’ve been rescheduled, postponed and cancelled for far flimsier reasons than “I’m writing a novel!”

    In book 2 in the Upper Crust Series Lucy goes to her old home town. Her old best friend Marissa is going to get her own book down the track…I think that will be book 4 in the series. I’m pretty sure Book 2 will be Cherie who featured quite heavily in the novella…unless I change my mind and Marissa is Book 3…see these are the sorts of decisions I have to make.

    This musical Monday I’m giving you one of my favourite small-town songs ever. It played out at the end of Northern Exposure (a show I loved and watched until it’s death knell) and I do actually own several of Iris deMent’s albums, as my husband met her through work, back in the day. This is a song that makes me cry every time. Love, loss and reminiscing and a little laughter…let’s hope I can capture all those things in my novel.

    If you have a treasured song about small time life I would love to hear about it. Happy Monday.

  • Blog

    I finished (won) NaNoWriMo and other news for the festive season


    Verve Clicquot ChampagneWell I am very happy to say that I have completed my NaNoWriMo novel with a few days up my sleeves (not that I have sleeves as it’s kind of warm here in Sydney today).

    It’s been a busy month in my corner of the world and so I feel particularly pleased that I managed to reach this goal this year. One of the reasons I enjoy the process of NaNoWriMo so much is that it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment at the pointy difficult end of the year.

    (I didn’t really crack open the Veuve last night though I did have a wine or two but I have so many Christmas gatherings lined up that I’m not worried that I won’t get my fair share of champagne).

    So onwards, time to get back to the business of being a writer. Writers in the modern age have to balance their desire and love of writing with their need to market and promote. This is true for all writers not just indies. I’m sure many of those writers you see on panels at festivals, signing books in shops or being interviewed would in fact rather be at their desk escaping into their own made up world.

    As part of that promotion I have a couple of fun things happening in December.

    1. I have lots of lovely authors stopping by with holiday posts and doing guest blogs, so make sure you keep an eye open for that.

    2. I’m involved in this Coastal Romance Blog Hop if you want to stop by and win a $100 gift card and 26 e-books for Christmas this is your chance….you should visit the blogs of every author for more chances to win- many are doing their own give away as well!

    Meanwhile don’t forget that you can send people a gift of a book direct from Amazon this Christmas. My books are only $2.99 which makes them an inexpensive way to brighten someone’s day. They’re all available at my Amazon author page!!

  • Blog

    Let’s talk – NaNoWriMo and a Thanksgiving novel


    Alphabet Dating CoverSo I haven’t been blogging much this last week or so because life has been extra busy.

    November, when I do NaNoWriMo is always hectic and something has to give, I suppose. In my case it has been the blog. (Oh yes and exercise and cleaning the house but that’s Ok, I don’t miss those things.)

    I enjoy doing NaNoWriMo because it highlights how much time I waste in a normal week when I could be writing. Let’s hope I can remember that in January….and February…someone feel free to remind me. I hate the middle of my NaNoWriMo novel but lucky for me I’ve pushed through and now I’m on the downward run…I do so love that march to a happy ending

    I juts thought I’d remind you that Alphabet Dating is actually a book set in the month of November – one month, one girl, 26 dates….and even a Thanksgiving tragedy.

    You might like to grab a copy if you haven’t already read it. It’s available here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG

    Hopefully I’ll be back on the blogging bandwagon again next week.

  • Blog

    Images of LA – or Mr Right and Other Mongrel sequel


    As many of my regular readers know I went to Los Angeles earlier this year to do a research trip for the sequel to
    Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    I am thinking of writing the sequel for NaNoWriMo in November. If I do I’ll be drawing on these images to inspire me. when I travelled, although I have been to the US before, I tried to look through the eyes of the main character Allegra and see what she might see or be interested in. It was a fun way to travel.

    She would a stranger in a strange land and as normal as anyone’s home is to them, it’s always a little bit odd to the outsider, so often we notice the differences and not the similarities. cars on the opposite side of the road, different names for the same things and people’s accents all delight and fascinate us.

    Hotcakes Bacon and Eggs Breakfast


    Los Angeles Trolly Tour

    Central Perk

    Central Perk

    Roses in a shop in America

    Floral Arch

    Bonsai Tree

    Fountain in garden


    I’m not sure if I will write this story now or begin it in January?

    What I need for it is a working title.

    Question – what would you name the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels?

  • Blog

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo the 2014 edition

    Electric Keyboard and Coffee CupIt’s October which means all over the world writers are gearing up for NaNoWriMo.

    NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a project with a basic aim – during the month of November enthusiastic writers from across the globe set themselves the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month. (Some crazy people set themselves 100,000 word challenges and other seemingly unattainable goals but let’s just leave them off to the side, shall we?)

    Here is the link to the official site http://nanowrimo.org/

    In 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts on how to prepare for this epic event. If you haven’t read them they cover topics such as like plotting, meal preparation, eliminating distractions and even exercise.

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

    This year I have a few more suggestions I’d like to make. I completed NaNoWriMo again last year and it was kind of rough. The reasons for that were many and varied but largely I ignored my own advice and made things harder for myself than they needed to be.

    Here are a few general tried and true tips that I think you should follow even if you don’t go read my other highly detailed posts.

    1. This is not the time to genre hop.
    If you think you’d like to write an epic fantasy but you don’t have a plot and you usually write sweet romances, chances are you will fail. You’ll stall, you won’t have structures or the habits you’re used to using to fall back on. Write what you know how to write. (I didn’t do this last year and while I did finish there is no way that novel is even a little bit salvageable).

    2. Do some planning.
    I don’t mean a detailed plot map, unless that’s how you usually roll, but have a think about your story in the coming weeks. Have a beginning in mind, gather a cast of characters in your imagination and get some vision together. It will make it easier.

    3. Get Ahead.
    If you can get even a little bit ahead it seems to bode well for success. Tell yourself it’s 2,000 words a day not 1677, even that really helps. If you can while that story is fresh and you’re feeling it hit that word count hard the first few days. This year 1st November is a Friday. Make that weekend count. If you can really get a good start then you will be set up for a good month.

    4. Every day counts – make that every minute.
    The fifteen minutes you usually waste waiting at the school gate sitting in the car, your lunch break (right I know, no one gets an hour anymore), the ten minutes you have while you wait for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook now all have value. You can maybe squeeze out a few hundred words during each…that might be half your daily word count. Set a timer and do a sprint for 15 minutes or half an hour, you’ll be amazed how many words you generate. This small blocks of time we usually waste really keen make a big difference to your NaNoWriMo success or failure.

    5. Get a support crew
    It’s often recommended you tell everyone your writing a book this November. (I don’t hold with that necessarily because people don’t seem to care overly, you may spend valuable time explaining this to someone you barely know and you just won’t get that time back and let’s face it they probably think it’s a nutty pursuit.)

    I recommend you tell all the people that matter. For me this has two prongs. So to me that means tell the people you live with because they need to know and they can help you or hinder you. Tell your friend who you know will drop past wanting to have a coffee/ a wine/ a whinge or talk about themselves ad nauseum (not that I have any friends like that). Tell that person on the committee you refused to assist on that you still can’t help. You get the idea.

    Basically, tell people who will want time you don’t have so that they understand why you’re distracted and you can say “Hey, remember I’m doing this write a novel in a month thing, can we maybe see a movie in December”.

    And tell your cheerleaders – your husband or boyfriend who wants you to succeed, tell your writing buddies so you can have them call to check on you and you can discuss plot holes, writers block and all the people who want to suck your time. These are the people who will keep your bottom in the chair (“Don’t move, I’ll make dinner” or “Let’s do a writing sprint – go!) and who you need in your corner so you need to tell them.

    6. Have fun
    Writing is fun (sometimes/usually). Setting out to write a book in a month (well a first draft anyway) is a silly idea, it’s a fanciful notion so enjoy the whimsy of it.

    We’re so sensible and grown up most of the time. We keep our feet firmly planted here in a reality made up of jobs and mortgages, of orthodontist visits, carpools and spreadsheets. We’re polite to people who probably don’t deserve it and we put our needs aside for others.

    This November enjoying the art of make believe. Relish the opportunity to create a new world full of new characters and adventures. Celebrate the idea that you can have new ideas and take chances all without leaving the comfort of your keyboard.



    10/14/2013 12:21:16 pm

    Great tips. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo the last couple of years & failed both times… must get more organised for this year!

    Sarah Belle
    10/14/2013 03:02:40 pm

    Excellent advice, Monique! I am a NaNoWriMo virgin but will be popping my cherry this year – definitely with your advice!
    10/14/2013 03:50:07 pm

    Melissa I really think organisation and planning are the keys to success.
    10/14/2013 03:50:46 pm

    Sarah Belle we can cheer each other along!

    Cinthia Ritchie
    10/28/2015 05:25:15 am

    Love these idea, and so helpful, too. This is my first year attempting NaNoWriMo and while I have my novel somewhat mapped and my characters profiled, etc., the idea of writing, and producing, each day is rather daunting. Scary, actually. I love that you said that it’s a silly idea. Because it is. But it’s also kind of a brilliant, too. Cheers and happy writing.
    10/29/2015 04:27:06 pm

    Good luck Cinthia. If you want to buddy up on the NaNo site let me know. It is silly but also lots of fun.

    10/28/2015 05:52:38 am

    Thanks for the advice – this will be my 3rd year, and I’m hoping a different approach might let me win this time!
    10/29/2015 04:27:49 pm

    I’m sure you’ll win this time…think of all you learned from the last experiences…you’ll nail it!

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    10/28/2015 08:48:26 am

    I definitely think the key to NaNoWriMo is having your ducks in a row by November 1. Outline, plan, plot. And then WRITE your tail off! It’s so much fun. But I do wonder who chose November as the month. Ugh! Such a busy time of the year.
    10/29/2015 04:29:57 pm

    November is actually a good month for me…and I like ending the year on a writing high…

    Pauline Wiles
    10/28/2015 09:35:57 am

    Love these tips, especially about getting ahead and making the small bits of time count. Thanks, from a first time NaNo-er!
    10/29/2015 04:28:43 pm

    One thing I love about NaNo actually is it holds a mirror up to how much time we waste…not a bad reminder for us writers.
    10/29/2015 04:30:24 pm

    Good luck!!!! You can do it.

    Jackie Bouchard
    10/28/2015 03:17:09 pm

    Great tips! I’ve only done Nano once, but I finished, and that book eventually got turned into “Rescue Me, Maybe.” One of these days I’d like to do it again – but, man, it’s tough! Best of luck to you!

    Tracy Krimmer
    10/28/2015 04:43:30 pm

    I’m not genre hopping, but writing a YA romance instead of adult 🙂

    Cassandra Piat
    10/29/2015 03:24:39 am

    That sounds like a lot of hard work and a lot of fun 🙂 Thanks for the great advice. Will have to give it a try one day!

    10/29/2015 04:16:05 pm

    I lol’d at “I ignored my own advice”.

    I’ve not done NaNo, but your tips are awesome.
    10/29/2015 04:29:19 pm

    Thanks Sandie!

    Melissa Sugar
    10/24/2016 03:23:05 pm

    Fabulous post chock full of informative tips for getting a jump start on NaNo and crossing the finish line. I especially like the tips about getting ahead when we can. You never know when you won’t be able to write on a certain day, so getting ahead really helps. And even those 15-30 minute increments add up. I’ve written some of my best work while waiting on kids to finish soccer practice or waiting for them to come out to the car at one place or another. I have complete solitude and nothing like a television to distract me and usually no one to interrupt me. Thanks for sharing your suggestions. I wanted to let you know that when I clicked on the links you provided for more NaNo tips ( you’d written in previous years or maybe from other bloggers- not sure now) the links didn’t work. It could be a problem on my end. I don’t know if anyone else had the same problem. I got one of those 404 page messages. Just thought you would want to know, in case you need to fix a broken link. I’m sure everyone else is as eager as I am to read more of your helpful ideas and tips. Thanks again and good luck with NaNo this year.