• Blog

    Why new characters are like new friends (and Musical Monday)


    Why I enjoy starting a new project
    Any Way You Slice It - Upper Crust Novel - Monique McDonell - Original CoverI’ve been busy this month working on a #50k30D challenge.(That means I need to write 50,000 words in June).

    That’s a lot of writer’s idea of a nightmare. The pressure is too much and they don’t like that feeling of being under the gun. I guess I’m not like that. I kind of love it actually.

    For me writing a new book meets creating new characters – or as I like to call it – making new friends. I love and miss some of my characters from my stand alone books – Allegra will always be one of my favourite people as will Cassie from Hearts Afire and I really can’t speak highly enough of Matt from A Fair Exchange of Harvey from Alphabet Dating. (I’m not a total nutter I do know they’re not real people.) Still I like meeting new characters too.

    The Upper Crust Series allows me to check up on the characters from other books in the series as I write them so it’s the best of both worlds. I’m writing about Todd and Sarah in Book six just now. Todd was in Book 2 and features heavily in book 4 as well. Marissa from Book 4 and Chloe from Book 5 also appear quite a bit, see old friends with the new.

    One of the reasons I like writing a book in a month (albeit a rough first draft) is because you have to be with those characters every day so you really get to know them. What they like to eat, what clothing they wear, what makes them laugh or cry – I know this because I’m spending so much time with them.

    It’s like being on a summer camp or a European bus trip with them. We bond fast and we share our secrets by the campfire or over some chianti and at the end of the month we walk away wondering if we really should have shared all that. I love it.

    I enjoy the newness and the discovery of it all and of course the sense of achievement when I write a scene I’m happy with or hit a goal. Writing can be lonely and soul-destroying so you need those things to spur you on, well I certainly do. Some of the secrets I’m told by the characters will never make the page and others will be edited out down the track but for right now, I’m enjoying just knowing them.

    And because it is Monday we need some music. This is one of my favourite songs at the moment. I love the retro 80’s style video and the energy of the song. I like dancing to it in my car, and it give me permission to say “shut up” which I usually just don’t do.

    Here’s a funky acapella version. This is how I sound in my imagination – which of course is the beauty of having a good imagination – imaginary friends and talents.

  • Blog

    What I’ve learned writing a series and #MusicalMonday (It’s only the beginning)


    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverBook two of my Upper Crust Series – Any Way You Dream It is now with the editor. Yes, I know, those of you who actually read my blog and read my books know it should have happened a while ago, but it has finally gone.

    “Why the delay?” I hear you cry.
    “Good question.” I reply.

    The truth is apparently I am really bad at writing BOOK TWO in a series. Book one is fine and book three is fine. I’ve written two series now (one under a pen name) and I’ve experienced the same issue with both. The whole series has stalled because of Book 2.

    I don’t exactly know why that is. Well, I do, I think in my effort to make the main character in that book different from the main character in the first book in the series I tie myself in knots.

    Additionally, I think book two brings about fear of success (what if everyone loves it?) and fear of failure (what if everyone hates it?) into play in a strange and disturbing way. By the third book I seem to have pushed through it and the interplay between the characters carries me through. By then I’m one of the gang (I’m probably Thelma not Daphne but I’m in the gang) and there is a gang, a group of characters I know well and enjoy spending time with.

    At least now we know. In the Upper Crust Series the good news Any Way You Fight It, Book 3 is done and will be released quickly after the second. Books four and five are also nearly done.

    I really love Chase, the hero in Any Way You Dream It and Lucy is a girl who deserves a happily ever after (HEA) so I think you’ll love the book like I do. (And Six books in the series will have been released by the end of this year, so I really hope you do).

    Now let’s turn up the music because it is Monday.

    I love this song and have since I heard it back in the olden days…it’s a great love song and it features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels…my first book baby.


    Laurie Baxter
    4/29/2015 11:06:57 am

    Ooh, yay! Very excited to hear this! I really enjoyed book one. 🙂

    Sandie Docker
    4/30/2015 07:59:13 pm

    The curse of the second book!!! But to have 6 box released by the end of this year – yay you!

  • Blog

    A writer’s update on #Musical Monday


    Alphabet Dating - Monique McDonell - 2015 CoverNew covers, #99cent sales and social media
    It looks like I haven’t managed to do any blogging for the last two weeks. I’ve had a few rather craptastic things happen which have meant my attention has been pulled in a few directions and as they say, something has to give.

    Still, I haven’t been entirely stagnant.

    * The lovely Scarlett Rutgers redesigned the cover for Alphabet Dating for me. (See Left). I just never loved the old cover the way I loved my other illustrated covers so I thought I’d give it a face-lift. I think she’s done a really great job of capturing the mood of the story.

    To celebrate Alphabet Dating is currently on sale for #99cents so if you haven’t got a copy now is a great time to do so. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG

    * I have kept up with my 2015 #1000wordsaday and my total now sits at 78,000 words which all in all I am very happy with. I’ve almost finished the first draft of Book 4 in the Upper Crust Series.

    *Upper Crust Series – Book 2 is back from my BETA readers and I spent today working through Book 3 to send it off. I’m still on track to release Book 2 /Any Way You Dream It for the end of April.

    * I had a great time on the weekend as one of the hosts of the March Madness ChickLit Style Party on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder about the so-called “social” aspects of social media but I feel like I got to connect to some great readers at that event, and hopefully they felt the same way.

    So I guess although my blog has been a little bit quiet I have been staying busy enough.

    And now for Musical Monday – a song that sums up the last few weeks and where I am in my life. This song is an old friend – Landslide the Dixie Chicks version.

  • Blog

    Life is not like a romance novel (or is it?)- thoughts on 21 years of marriage this #MusicalMonday.


    Monique McDonell and Husband in HawaiiThis week I will have been married 21 years. I have been pondering what that means about me and my life. A girlfriend pointed out recently I have known my husband for half my life, that seems kind of bizarre to me. Part of me can’t remember what life was like before we got married and another part of me thinks “hang on, I just met this guy.”

    Some days I really don’t like being married. Lots of days, actually. It feels like I have to be nice too much of the time and think about other people too much, and you know, act interested when I’m not. Yeah, see I can’t possibly have been married 21 years with that attitude, right? I’m really a petulant fifteen year old at my core. Most of that has little to do with my husband and a lot to do with who I am as a person.

    My husband is a famously and ridiculously nice guy. I do know a couple of people who don’t like him, but they’re pretty rare, and I kind of think that tells you more about them than him. He’s a far more affable human being than I am. He’s nice to old people, is incredibly helpful with my friends and loves small children. He cooks, he irons, he can build stuff and he tells a great story (even if way too many of them involve fishing these days). In fact one of the most annoying things about him is that he’s so damned pleasant I can’t even complain about him to anyone.

    That doesn’t mean that being married to him every day is like living in a romance novel. He also has no short term memory (like none at all), can’t make a plan to save himself, only acknowledges birthdays and holidays as an act of appeasement and has a job that so lacks rhythm we’ve lost our entire social life as a result.

    We’ve had job losses, grief, financial issues, failed dreams and we’ve battled infertility. We’ve made decisions and had circumstanced thrust upon us that made us both sad and a little angry. It certainly has not gone to plan.

    And we haven’t even started on me yet. My husband and I are actually complete opposites (though I would like to think we were both kind) but for every memory he’s lost I’ve held on to five and for every plan he’s failed to make, I’ve made ten. I love celebrations, themed dinners and organisation. All of which has to annoy the snot out of him.

    And yet here we are.

    I look at marriages that work and those that don’t and wonder why that is. On paper, we don’t work. We just don’t. And yet despite the differences here we are.

    So how is our life like a romance novel then?
    We did romantically meet on a tropical island (just like in my novel Hearts Afire) and we’ve been together ever since.
    We do still make each other laugh.
    We like each other.
    We are kind to each other. We never want to see the other fail or get their come-uppance or relish a chance to say ‘I told you so” (even though we’ve both had plenty of them).
    We’re both people people.
    We both have a sense of adventure.
    We appreciate each others differences – you go fishing, I’m off to the art gallery, see you later.
    We’re both romantic in different ways.
    We still go on dates, we hold hands, we dance in the living room.
    He brings me flowers every now and then (And not from the petrol station!)
    We want to tell each other our stories.
    We want each others dreams to come true.

    So for Musical Monday I give you our wedding dance – Into The Mystic.



    Ms. Mary
    3/9/2015 01:43:32 am

    Happy Anniversary, you two! I have seen you in action and you are a lovely, lovely couple! And thanks for some awesome Van Morrison on a Monday! 🙂
    3/10/2015 09:19:28 am

    A little Van Morrison is always good for the soul.

  • Blog

    Getting old on a #MusicalMonday or 30 years? Really?



    A Fair Exchange - Cover
    Some of my experiences from US High School inspired this novel

    One day you wake up and discover The Breakfast Club is 30 years old and you’re never going to have hair like Molly Ringwald did in that movie. For me that was today. I mean I know I’m getting older and that I’m not 15 like I was when I first saw that movie but I sure don’t feel 30 years older than I did that year.

    I was in Year 10 when I saw that Movie (Hoyts Cinema George Street). If that day was like every other time I saw a movie I took a train from the suburbs and probably had a hamburger happy meal and took the pickles off it as well.

    It was an exciting time in my life. That year was epic for me.

    I was chosen to go on an exchange to the US for a year. Yep little fifteen ear old Monique got on a plane and went all on her own (with hundreds of other excited teenagers) to America. Big year. Huge.

    Anyway I remember that the day I left school for a year a friend of mine called MaryAnne sang the theme song Simple Minds’ Don’ You Forget About me to me as I walked out of the classroom for the last time. I was leaving to go to an American High School which I thought was going to be just like The Breakfast Club, because in my fifteen year old mind life was like the movies.

    I must tell you I learned a whole lot of things that year and I had some amazing experiences but not at a school that was anything like the one in that movie. I never did get detention which was lucky because I think the kids in detention probably made Judd Nelson’s character look like he was in kindergarten.

    Of all the Breakfast Club Characters I was definitely most like Claire, without any of the attitude. Spoiled, sure. Prissy, definitely. Cool, sadly not ever. I never got detention in Australia either and that was much to do easier. (My Australian school was so much stricter – No hair ribbons? Detention for you. You are late. Detention for you? Forgot your homework? You get the idea.)

    So thirty years on what did I learn that year at school?
    – What an eye-lash curler was and that some people even used them in History Class (I know, right? That was a surprise).
    – That marshmallow Fluff was a real thing and that the factory is in Lynn, Massachusetts where I went on my exchange.
    – All 50 States and their Capitals and the correct pronunciation of Des Moines.
    – What a lavatory pass was, and in that vein, that hall monitors were a real thing.
    – It snows at the beach…that had honestly never occurred to me…I really was quite ignorant.
    -It is always best to wait until the teacher introduces himself because they guy with the beard at the front of the classroom who looks as old as your Dad might actually just be a dude on the football team and not your new English teacher.
    – That in America kids really do eat inside in cafeteria’s (we sit outside on cold cement here in Australia) and that they’re kind of scary places unless you have friends (and even if you do) and that if you want to see a fight at school that’s probably where it will take place.
    – Some couples put the dates they had sex with each other in their yearbook (for real and I still find that confusing).
    – Not all big hair is the same. (Mine was big and the wrong big FYI).
    – It is good to join clubs because that’s how you make friends at High School.
    – American High School really is a lot like the movies.
    – Most of what I learned in High School didn’t come from the teachers.

    So for Musical Monday I give you two classics. The first is a Whitney Houston number we sang in the school revue. I am a really bad singer but they let me in anyway, I stood between two male football players and sang the male part, it was easier. This song was HUGE at the time and it was a good message (My fave Whitney song from that period was I want to Dance With Somebody).

    The second offering is of course Simple Minds.



    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    2/25/2015 10:46:30 am

    My goodness! Fifteen and headed across the ocean to attend an American high school – in Lynn, Massachusetts? Wow. That must have been amazing, just as it would be if you’d been an American, traveling to an Australian high school.

    Great music selections for this post and I especially loved your bulleted list of things you learned. I grew up in Virginia and lived in a Boston suburb as an adult (not Lynn) – and I had never heard of Fluff until a neighbor made me a Fluff and peanut butter sandwich, explaining (as I suspect they all do) that Fluff is made in Lynn. It’s a funny little sandwich topping that’s celebrated in that area of the country. I’m back in Virginia and many of the moms I hang with down here have never heard of Fluff – so you received a delicacy, that’s for sure! 🙂
    2/25/2015 11:39:35 am

    It was quite an adventure! Lynn was so different to where I grew up and went to school in Sydney.

    I actually saw Fluff in a supermarket here not long ago…30 years and they’re now taking on the world.

    Sandie Docker
    2/25/2015 08:12:08 pm

    I was an exchange student at 17, to Germany. Most amazing year of my life! Love the list of things you learned 🙂

    2/25/2015 09:19:16 pm

    I’ll tell you, you are 100% right about the cafeteria. It may have been the scariest part of my school years.

    Lee Ann Howlett
    2/26/2015 08:43:39 am

    Great post! Had me laughing due to some of the ‘flashbacks’ I was having. (Big hair, the school cafeteria, etc.) I went to a number of different schools but they were all in the U.S. (military family) so I can’t imagine taking the leap that you did to another country for a year. Now I’ll have the Simple Minds song going through my head but that’s definitely not a bad thing! 🙂

  • Blog

    Musical Monday – singing and dancing our way into 2015 #1000wordsaday


    Metallic Copper ShoesIt is my first Musical Monday post for the year. Sorry I have been so remiss. I figure my Australian readers were laying on a beach somewhere and my American and UK readers were busy riding (or I hope reading) out the winter.

    January 12 and I’m happy to report I’m at 13,000 words in my #1000wordsaday challenge. I’m pretty happy about that.

    One of the issues I have as a writer, and let’s face it a lot of writers have, is that was stall easily and we get blocked. It really is better to keep going, to just write a bit every day in order to push through the blocks and keep your head in the story. I have periods where I’m great at that but then I finish a project or publish a book or just plain lose momentum. I’m really hoping I can break that habit.

    The truth is I’ve spent some long, luxurious days out on magical Sydney Harbour taking in the sun, drinking wine and laughing with friends since January began. I love those days and normally I don’t write in January at all. I say to myself that I don’t need to, that I get the month off. The thing is I usually give myself December off too, in a post-NaNoWriMo celebration and because December kicks my butt anyway.

    That’s all very lovely but that’s 8 weeks lost. I’m simply trying to maintain the energy while enjoying summer. I have skipped days but I’ve made them back. Now I’m ahead. Ahead works for me psychologically better than behind. it works during NaNoWriMo and I suspect my momentum will pick up in the next couple of days if I can move further ahead. We’ll see.

    Meanwhile I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. (Yes I do take most of my life lessons from stop motion animation, thanks for asking!).

    And because not everyone likes their music to come from their childhood. Here is a song that reminds me of the characters in the second book in my Upper Crust series which I’ve just completed. I love this song and the video, oh yeah and the messages – Love, success, persistance and standing tall.


    1/11/2015 02:30:46 pm

    Thank you very much for the music video share. I had heard this song, but had never taken the time to watch the video. The message is deeply impactful. I’d like to think that his time machine worked in the end, taking him back to his family’s fire where he could save them. If only we could all be so single-minded and focused in our passion. Indeed if only we could all know so thoroughly what our passions are! Good luck with your writing challenge!
    1/12/2015 07:22:03 am

    It is a really lovely video isn’t it, Katie? I too believe he gets the happy ending. He deserves it.

  • Blog

    Merry Christmas 2014 – thanks for the support


    Monique McDonell Books and Christmas Decorations
    This is just a very quick blog post to wish all those who have supported me in 2014 a very Merry Christmas. To those who buy my books, read my blog, leave book reviews or interact with me on social media I say a huge THANK YOU.

    My life is richer for knowing you.

    I wish you peace, love, happiness and laughter this festive season.

    May the end of 2014 be filled with joy and books.

    Here are a couple of my favourite Christmas songs… both are Australian …have a wonderful Christmas.


  • 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.