• Blog

    Let’s link up


    Hearts AfireToday I’m going to provide you with some chat and then some links to places I’ve been mentioned in cyber space this week or places I think might interest you.

    As you know I was at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. One attends a conference like that for a variety of reasons including professional development, the opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers and as well as networking with other authors.

    I did pitch on the weekend so I need to get busy preparing my submission while busily prepare to launch my next indie title.

    It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people who want to talk about writing and books. (What could be better?) It’s also a chance to put faces to the many writers you meet on Twitter, Facebook and via blogs.

    Now I’m home it’s time to link up. I need to e-mail people, find their Facebook author pages and follow them on Twitter before I do what I did last year and misplace all those lovely business cards I’ve collected.

    Speaking of linking up here are a few links where I’ve been mentioned around the web this week.



    The lovely Cindy Roesel wrote this lovely piece about Mr Right and Other Mongrels on her blog today.

    My friend Pamela Cook who I travelled to the RWA with did a great blog post yesterday about our travels.

    And I understand my novel Hearts Afire has been nominated at Indie Author News for favourite indie book for September here. If you liked it and would like to vote for it this is the link.

  • Blog

    Taste of Tuesday – why chick lit is like French Onion Dip, in a good way!


    French Onion DipI’ve recently returned from the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Perth. Even though I’m Australian Perth still is a long-haul. (Did you know it was the most isolated city in the world? Probably not.)

    And do you know what is more isolating than being in Perth?

    The answer is -being a chick lit author at a romance conference where ‘everyone’ says chick lit is dead, especially when you don’t believe it is.

    Especially when you must answer the women at the conference, not the publishers or the powers that be, but other authors when they ask you what you write.

    “I write chick lit but that you can’t call it chick lit that you have to call it women’s fiction,” said I.

    And they said “Why?”

    And I said. “Apparently no one reads it anymore. I was told that last year and the year before too.”

    And to a one they say “But I love chick lit.”

    It’s a conundrum to be in a room where you’re being told what you write is out of fashion and yet you’re surrounded by people who say they like it. It’s harder still when you love it yourself.

    Chick lit was like the French onion dip of the conference. It’s not very trendy, you won’t see it on a menu anywhere because it’s been pushed aside by hummus and guacamole and even beetroot dip but still there’s barely a woman who when left alone with some French onions dip and crackers won’t take a bite. Not only that she’ll have another dip. She may even find herself embarrassed by the fact that she ate the whole bowl and loved it.

    She may even find herself grabbing a small tub at the supermarket next time she’s there because she forgot how much she really enjoyed it and how much she had missed it.

    Now she may not serve it up on Saturday night (or in the case of the book, recommend her whole book club reads it) but she will enjoy it.

    I think that’s chick lit right now. It’s not widely available or celebrated but people do like it. It’s not trendy but people still read it.

    You know why that is? To my mind at least, it is because chick lit books are about women trying to find themselves in this crazy world with the help (or hindrance) of friends their friends, family, co-workers and lovers.

    That’s also the story of every woman who was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. They were an amazing, wonderful, vibrant group of women who were busy making new friends, building careers while trying to balance family and work. They were trying to find their way, where they fit in and how they could move forward on their journey.

    I didn’t hear anyone talking about their own boyfriends or lovers or needing men to complete them. They were talking about their jobs, balancing that with their families and trying to become their full and happy selves (or happier because there were some gloriously happy people in that room).

    That’s why I believe chick lit (and French onion dip) can both survive because we enjoy them and they are a part of our own stories, even if we may not always admit it.

    (If you would like to come over for a Jatz cracker, some French onion dip and to borrow a book, do let me know!)

    Deborah Nam-Krane
    8/19/2013 08:35:15 pm

    I would totally come over for crackers and dip if you and I lived close by!

    And I think that’s it exactly- chick lit isn’t dead, but it isn’t trendy like it was a few years ago. Oh well. I think the same can be said for certain kinds of mysteries- and yet people still read them.

    Keep writing what works for you- the internet is filled with stories of writers who started writing to be trendy and are miserable.
    Ainslie Paton
    8/19/2013 08:50:20 pm

    Nice one, Mon. Don’t they say, don’t write to where the market is because it will have moved before you get there? Well, that.
    Louise Wise
    8/19/2013 11:49:15 pm

    Grrrr it annoys me when I hear people (usually literary snobs) say chick lit is dead. Of course it isn’t. Give me onion dip over the hummus any day!
    Great post!
    Anne R.Allen
    8/20/2013 02:20:12 am

    Chick lit is alive and kicking her stilettos! It’s just got to be called rom-com now. But with a new Bridget Jones coming out this fall, I think chick lit will be able to speak its name again. Some people do hate it. I’ve got a troll attack on my bestselling chick lit boxed set right now. People keep giving it one stars because they say my heroine is stupid. No. People who don’t understand an unreliable narrator are stupid. And you could say that of every comic heroine from Lucy Ricardo to Bridget Jones. But they’ve knocked me down to three stars, so I guess they think they’ve killed chick lit.
    8/20/2013 08:53:23 am

    I don’t understand why some people see the need to spend their time in destruction when to be productive and creative (like us) is so much more rewarding.
    8/20/2013 08:52:16 am

    I agree you have to write what you enjoy and you have to write the story you want to write and hope it finds it’s audience.

  • Blog

    Saturday Chat – conference prep, pitching etc


    Today it’s a sunny Saturday in Sydney.
    This time next week I’ll be at the RWA Conference in Perth. I’m so looking forward to it. I’m helping with the newbies a couple of times so you may see me wandering about in a Pirate’s hat. If you do, come and say hello.

    One think people can do at Conference is pitch to a publisher or agent so I thought I’d bump this blog post from last year that explains the pitch process.


    I think I’m about ready for conference…I have my fabulous new postcards. I almost have my outfits planned. I’m going with my writing buddy the wonderful Pamela Cook so it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. it’s Pam’s first conference and my fifth I do believe.

    I’m looking forward to catching up with some lovely authors I’ve met at previous conferences and also online.

    There are lots of great workshops – let’s see if I can finally master Scrivener. Fingers crossed.

    Meanwhile I’m just plugging away on Building Attraction which will be out soon. Have a great Saturday (I have to take my daughter to netball and then we have her birthday party – what fun!).

    Monique McDonell All Books Promotional Card


    Pamela Cook
    8/9/2013 11:00:23 am

    Looking forward to it Monique. Hoping you can show me the ropes. 🙂

  • Blog

    Friday catch-up


    Hearts Afire PaperbacksIt’s Friday afternoon here and absolutely pouring with rain. I mean bucketing down.

    I had an author Q&A planned for today but I did something dumb and popped the file somewhere safe on my computer so I woudn’t lose it and then…lost it.

    So you get a little ramble from me.

    My writing efforts this week have been a bit dismal. A long weekend and my daughter starting high school (Yr 7 for you American readers) just threw me off-kilter. I did also have some of my day job to catch up on.

    If it rains all weekend I might easily make up all that lost time.

    The program for the Riding the Waves, the Australian RWA Conference came out today. It’s in Perth. Flying from Sydney to Perth is a lot like flying from New York to L.A. It takes about as long. I’ve never really been to Perth. Well, I did go for a work induction once but all I saw was the inside of an office building.

    I was planning to skip RWA this year and go to L.A on a research trip for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels but somehow after lunch with author Pamela Cook on Wednesday to discuss our writing year I came home having agreed to attend. That means I will now simply have to do both trips.

    I guess I better get working on my day job with greater ferocity (might need to get some extra clients) and get some more books out into the universe as well!

    Have a lovely weekend. It’s good reading weather where I am, I’ll say that for the weather.

  • Blog

    What a weekend!


    I’m sitting at the Gold Coast airport waiting for my delayed flight home after an exhilirating and exhausting weekend at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference.

    My goodness it was full-on! Then again it always was.

    The highlights were many and varied and frankly I’m a little bit too tired to remember them all clearly right now.

    I think it was my favourite conference so far. There was a really wonderful energy in the place and people were so very friendly. I met loads of lovely new people (a low-light was there were people I’ve met online that I really wanted to have a proper chat with in person who I missed!) I also met a women I worked with twenty years ago and another girl who was a journalist reporting on the conference who recognised me from 25 years ago at University. It’s not a bad thing to be told you look exactly the same now as then. (I know she was being kind but I’ll take it).

    There were some really wonderful sessions and maybe I’m getting better at picking and choosing because everything I went to was really useful for me where I am on my journey. I felt like I got lots and lots out of the sessions. I’ll be sure to post more details of some of the sessions and useful resources once my brain recovers. (I couldn’t sleep last night as I was re-working some plot problems in one of my manuscripts).

    It was a wonderful experience all round. So..more to follow….Time to go home!

    Airplane - Gold Coast Airport

  • Blog

    Thoughts on pitching – how does a pitch work?


    Girl Holding Books IllustrationI was just over on Facebook where a friend was talking about pitching for the upcoming Romance Writers of Australia Conference.

    The first time I pitched I had no idea what to expect. I felt sick. I was anxious. I was out of my depth.

    Why do people pitch? The reason is simple. There are very few ways to sit down with an agent or a publisher and tell them about your book. Many publishers won’t read manuscripts that aren’t submitted to them by an agent and many agents have closed books. This is a golden opportunity for a writer.

    Pitching, for the uninitiated, is like doing a very quick job interview. Well, I think conference pitching is a cross between speed-dating and a job interview actually.

    A conference pitch session is usually 5 minutes which is a lot shorter than any decent job interview. I think if your job interview only lasts five minutes it is safe to say you didn’t get the job. I believe speed dating is usually less time at the table closer to 2-3 minutes. (I am happy to report I’ve never been speed dating which is lucky because I would have stunk at it. I’m flirting impaired. It’s a fact.)

    Like speed-dating lots of conference pitches take place in a group environment where several agents and publishers are in the same room but each at their own little table. When your time comes the door opens and you go and sit opposite the person you have been allocated and then at the end the bell rings and you say your good-byes. Just like speed-dating!

    The job interview objective is get the job or get a second interview. In speed-dating you want the person you like to choose you and ask you on a date.

    At a pitch you have an objective as well. You want them to ask to see your manuscript. Some agents/authors ask for a partial (manuscript) some ask for a full. You want to be asked for a full. If you’re asked for partial that’s great but it’s more like you’ve been asked out for coffee than dinner and you want dinner! Either way though you dance out of there happy and full of hope (See why it’s like dating?)

    On a side-not I have also done group pitching. I would equate that to being asked on the group date on The Bachelor. It’s pre-set and some publishers/agents only do group pitches. For the pitchee it’s actually more nerve-wracking because on top of the usual fear and jitters you have to worry about the other people at the table. You’re not really competing against each other but it can feel that way and you certainly feed off the energy of the others. It’s awkward and afterwards if one person is asked for a partial and another for nothing, well, there’s less dancing your way out of the room.

    Just like in a job interview you want the interviewee to like what you have to offer. You want to appear competent and knowledgeable. You hope the time you’ve spent developing your skills will shine through and you will be selected. You understand it’s a pragmatic business like interaction. They may not choose you and it may have nothing at all to do with you or your ability. (They’re looking for rural women’s fiction and you are pitching romantic suspense for example. They’re list is full in your area. They just published someone similar to you.)

    However, I think it crosses over into the dating realm again because so much of your heart and soul goes into a book. You love your novel. You want it to be loved. You want the person across from the table to “get you” and want to know more about this great love. You want it to be a shared passion and so the rejection feels personal and so does any success.

    That’s what pitching looks like and feels like. Each time you do it I think it gets less scary. I would say I’m still not great at it and my nerves are evident each time but I keep going back and people keep reading my work which of course is the objective.

    I’ll do another post with practical tips on another day.

  • Blog

    Preparing for a conference


    Gold CoastIt’s writers’ conference season right now.

    In the USA lots of writers are heading to Anaheim for the Romance Writers of America Conference. I have never been to this but one year, in the not too distant future, I would love to go.

    The Romance Writers of Australia Conference is being held on the Gold Coast this year. (For the non-Australian’s that is in Queensland and it’s a very popular holiday/vacation destination). That’s it there on the left. Given how cold and wet the winter in Sydney has been this year I am allowing myself to believe it will look exactly like the photo here and I will be able to feel blissful sunshine on my face. I will be crossing my fingers and toes for the next month.

    I’m going to this one and really looking forward to it. This conference has the unlucky knack of often falling on the same weekend as my daughter’s birthday. Lucky for me this year it doesn’t so I can go.

    Also lucky for me I have been before so I get to see some wonderful women I have met in the past and also some I haven’t met, except on line. That will be fun! Plus I’m going with the wonderful Jen Tomasetti who is a member of The Writers’ Dozen and one of my favourite people on the planet.

    The Australian RWA has some main events. There’s a themed cocktail party on the Friday Night. This year it’s a 60’s inspired Diamonds Are Forever theme. (I still don’t have an outfit), There is the opportunity to pitch to agents (still don’t have the outfit for that either) and as well there is the annual Awards Dinner (I believe the outfit is covered).

    So basically I believe preaparing for a conference has two key components. Preparing your pitch and choosing your outfits. (Of course it is also a good idea to register, book flights and accommodation but I’m pretty sure everybody knows that!)

    If you have thoughts on what to pack or what not to pack for conferences I’d love to hear them. I’ll be back with specifics later.


    Annette Bower
    7/22/2012 01:48:05 pm

    Hello Monique,
    I am off to the RWA in Anaheim on Tuesday on the 6 am flight.
    I too have been before and this time I haven’t booked an editor appointment or an agent appointment. I am thrilled at this because I’m not stressing out. (I’m happy with my e publishers, XoXo Publishers and Soul Mate Publishers.)
    Besides my business casual, I am packing my promotions for the goodie room. And of course my business cards are crisp and new.
    I too look forward to meeting fabulous people who share our passion and I love learning new career and craft pointers.
    I’m taking a tablet and hoping to post from the event.
    Yours truly,

    7/22/2012 02:09:57 pm

    Have a fantastic time. I look forward to hearing all about your adventures.

  • Blog

    A great review and other chat

    Northern Beaches beach walk
    So it’s a very sunny Sunday morning in Sydney. I am being a sloth. Well, not really, I’m doing stuff here on the computer but I feel like I should be walking in the sunshine, or you know, if I was someone else entirely I should probably be going for a run.

    Anyway here is a link to a wonderful review I got on Friday on smittenwithreading for
    Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    I now have 19 reviews on Amazon if you’re interested in what other people think of the book.

    I need to get the edit finished on Hearts Afire so I can hand it to some readers this week so I have time to make the changes that need to be made before my chosen publishing date in late August. Having said that if it’s not ready I’ll just wait and put it up in September. Quality is important.

    This week the lovely Lisa Kelly is going to get started on design ideas for the cover. That’s so fun! I loved all the designs she came up with for Mr Right so much so that it made it REALLY hard to choose one.

    In other writing-related matters I really must think about what I am wearing to the Romance Writers of Australia conference. It’s only a month away now.