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  • Writers on Wednesday
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    Writers on Wednesday with Shail Rajan

    Writers on Wednesday

    Today for Writers on Wednesday we have a Q&A with debut author Shail Rajan

    Shail rajanShail is a contemporary women’s fiction writer and the author of The Summer Breeze, her debut novel which celebrates the role family, friendships, food, and falling in love play in our everyday lives. Shail lives in the Bay Area with her husband and three wonderful, noisy, mischievous children. When she is not writing and reading, she serves as the president of a non-profit, cooks nonstop, tackles the occasional DIY project, and obsesses over her vegetable garden. Don’t be surprised if you hear your stomach growling while reading her books because Shail is a serious foodie and often includes vivid descriptions of the food her characters are eating. If you feel the urge to cook something up, she often shares her recipes on her website and social media!

    1. Why do you write in the genre, you do?

    I’ve always been drawn to stories about strong women taking control of their lives and doing it with grace, kindness, and humour. I love stories which center around new beginnings and second chances. My writing contemporary women’s fiction is just a natural extension of what I love to read.

    1. When did you take up writing?

    I started writing as a way to pass the time back in 2003. Since then, The Summer Breeze and other partially completed manuscripts have been waiting patiently on my laptop. At the end of 2020, I finally mustered up the courage to send my first book baby out into the world!

    1. How important is setting/place in your writing?

    It’s always been very important to me for my readers to be able to vividly imagine setting/place throughout my books. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it would resonate with them. In so many reviews and so much of the feedback I’ve received, people have appreciated the visual imagery I’ve created. It’s a great feeling.

    1. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?

    Callie, the female protagonist in The Summer Breeze, is my absolute favorite. She’s kind, independent, flawed, funny, a foodie, and unstoppable. I think there’s something inherently relatable about a woman who is so multi-dimensional – like so many of us.

    1. Do you have a schedule for writing?

    I’ve always been an early bird and usually wake up a couple of hours before the rest of my family. I try to take advantage of the quite time and focus on my writing in the mornings. I’d love to be able to do more during the day, but it’s been challenging with three kids learning remotely. Once they’re back in school full-time, I think I’ll be able to dedicate even more time creating these stories and characters that I absolutely love.

    1. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?

    When I started out on my writing journey, I tried to wing it. However, I quickly realized I needed to be more of a plotter because I was writing over such a long span of time (years!) that I found myself forgetting details about certain characters and events. Now, since I have committed myself to chasing this dream, I’m writing at a much quicker pace and I’m able to wing it because I can get fully emerged in the story.

    1. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?

    I recently finished reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Both books moved me in different ways, but both educated me about journeys vastly different from my own. Anyone who loves to read knows this is one of the best things about books: the ability to engender empathy for the lives of others.

    For me, American Dirt was a page turner from start to finish. Whenever I had to put it down to do something else, I was eager to get back to it to learn what was coming next. I found myself feeling the stress, anxiety, fear, and hope of the characters throughout the book.

    Know My Name literally pried my eyes open. Learning about the experience of sexual assault through the eyes of the victim – starting with the days and hours leading up to an assault, the actual assault, the response of first responders immediately after, the fear of telling family and friends, the trial and subsequent appeals, and of course, the emotional upheaval that the victim and her family face – was truly an emotional education. Did it make me feel uncomfortable? Yes, incredibly so. Will I have my children read it when they’re older? Most definitely.

    There are also two books that I always have on my nightstand. The first is Pride and Prejudice because I absolutely love everything about Jane Austen, from her writing style, to her description of setting, to her wonderful female characters. And of course, Mr. Darcy.

    The second is A Town Like Alice by Nevile Shute. I came across this book years ago and loved it so much that my husband managed to find a first edition copy which I have read and re-read numerous times. There is something so magical for me in the emotional journey of the main character Jean Paget.

    Note from Monique: A Town Like Alice is also one of my favorite books!!!

    1. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?

    I’m working on two projects right now, and I’m so excited about both of them!

    The first is book #2 in The Summer Breeze series where readers will be able to catch up with all their favorite characters from The Summer Breeze Bed and Breakfast! Callie will continue her unsuccessful attempts to not meddle in her guests’ lives, eat even more mouth-watering food, and try to keep her head on straight when Nick is around. Two weddings and a catastrophe will be the backdrop to Callie’s life in the beautiful lakeside town of Seneca Springs.

    My second projects is a romantic suspense novel that I’m having a the best time researching and writing. Stay tuned for more info on how small town life takes a dark turn when a rock star comes to Sycamore Ridge!

    1. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?

    Do NOT stop. Write every chance you get and be prepared for bumps and detours along the way. I started writing The Summer Breeze in 2003. Take a minute to let that sink in! It took me 18 years to put my dream back at the top of my to-do list and make it happen. But I’m here now, and I’m having the best time ever!

    The Summer Breeze

    The Summer Breeze

    Tired of her fast-paced life in NYC, Callie Williams leaves her successful career and demanding fiancé behind and makes a life-changing decision to open a bed & breakfast in the lakeside town of Seneca Springs. Navigating the complexities of small-town life, Callie forges lifelong friendships, eats more than her fair share of delicious food, and tries not to meddle in the lives of her guests. The only thing hindering her newfound happiness is the attraction she feels for Nick, a rough-around-the-edges construction worker who is determined to get under Callie’s skin.

    Buy Links:

    https://bit.ly/TheSummerBreezebyShailRajan

    Social Links:

    Website: https://www.shailrajan.com/

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shailrajanauthor/

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20957911.Shail_Rajan

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shailrajanauthor

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShailRajan

  • Blog

    Writers on Wednesday with Renee Dahlia author of The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose

    This week for Writers on Wednesday we have a Q&A with Renee Dahlia author of new release The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Author Renee DahliaAbout Renee

    Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side note of awkward humour.

    1.What was the inspiration for your current novel, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride?

    Our family booked a trip to Italy last year but had to cancel due to the pandemic. It was a frustrating process, as we’d saved up for a couple of years for the trip, and didn’t end up getting refunds until months after the trip was cancelled. This novella came from a need to do some travelling! I imagined an Earl on his way home from a Grand Tour getting shipwrecked on a Spanish beach, and it just fell into place from there.

    2. Why do you write in the genre you do?

    I write both historical and contemporary romances, across a range of heat levels and pairings. Why? Because I write to entertain myself and I don’t like feeling restricted to one time period or place. My ideas are often chaotic before they become books. They come from little pieces of conversations that I overhear, or non-fiction that I’m reading, and a whole bunch of other places. I keep all the ideas in a big file and let them kind of roll around for a while until they form enough of a story to become a book. All my books are listed on my website with heat levels and pairing type.

    3. When did you take up writing?

    My first book, To Charm a Bluestocking, was published in 2017. I’ve written non-fiction for about a decade prior to that, mostly magazine articles. Oddly, I didn’t want to be a writer when I left school, and studied science instead. I fell into writing almost accidentally when I was asked to write a series of articles that explained statistical results to non-mathematicians.

    4. How important is setting/place in your writing?

    Not very! Description is my least favourite part of writing. My first drafts are mostly dialogue with a few notes, and I add the descriptions later.

    5. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?

    I’m fickle! My favourite is always the one I’m writing right now! In my novella, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride, the heroine Sofia is a Spanish fisherman’s daughter who has taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach. Her family supplement their income with things they find from shipwrecks, and they dismiss her need for reading. Reading shows her the world, and when Rupert washes up on her beach, she takes the chance to leave. When I first started to write, I imagined her as quite aspirational, but as I wrote, she turned out to be more empathetic and unsure about the decision to leave.

    6. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?

    Read a lot. Read in the genre you want to write in, so you understand what readers love about it, and better yet, write the genre that you love to read because then that understanding comes naturally.

    7. Do you have a schedule for writing?

    Yes. I have a spreadsheet that I’ve designed that tracks both my daily word count and my writing schedule by book.

    8. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?

    Somewhere in the middle. I like to have a good idea of where I’m going, so I set out the book’s basic plot with a few one liners that indicate the emotional arc for the two characters, then I just let the dialogue go where it feels natural. Sometimes I end up in places that I didn’t intend, and have to adjust either the dialogue or the vague plot notes, but that doesn’t happen often.

    9. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?

    I’ve just finished reading Talia Hibbert’s Brown sisters series which is really adorable. My favourite historical novels are Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics and Courtney Milan’s Duchess War. I adore Alexis Hall’s writing – the characterisation in Glitterland is outstanding. How can anyone pick just four books?

    10. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?

    I’m currently writing a medium heat contemporary lesbian romance series set in a Burlesque club in London.

    11. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on
    their journey?

    Read and write. Practice will make you better.

    The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride

    Blurb:

    LORD RUPERT STANMORE was banished to the continent for a grand tour after being caught kissing his best friend, Lord Benburgh. Two years later and life back in England has caught up to him. His father died recently and now he’s the latest Earl of Stanmore. On the way home, his ship is wrecked in a storm, and he washes up on a beach in Spain, only to be rescued by a beautiful woman. As the Earl, he has an obligation to marry. He’d rather be hung for sodomy than allow his mother to choose his bride, and who better to annoy his proper and distant mother than a poor foreigner as a bride? He plots for Sofia to fall in love with him, not expecting to fall for her.

     

    SOFIA LUCIANA RIAL is the only daughter of a fisherman in Spain. She taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach, a skill her widowed Father sees as pointless. In his opinions, she should spend all, not most, of her time doing domestic work. When a man washes up on the beach near their cottage, she realises he might be her ticket out of poverty. She sets about to make him fall in love with her so he can take her to England where she will never again have to worry about where her next meal will come from. Only her plan fails when she falls in love with him. But how can she convince him that her love is real?

     

     

    You can learn more about Renee here: 
    Twitter
    Facebook 
    romance.com.au
    Instagram 
    BookBub

     

  • Cinnamon Bay booksin KU
    Blog

    A renewed commitment to blogging

    A little catch up on what’s happening in my author life.

    Cinnamon Bay booksin KU
    Get these Cinnamon bay Romances in KU today

    I’m sitting here in my office on a very damp Sunday afternoon blogging. Meanwhile most of the East Coast of my home state of NSW is having an “extraordinary weather event” in the form of way too much rain. Flooding, bursting dams and road closures are affecting a lot of people. Fingers crossed everyone stays safe and dry.

    It’s what you’d call “wonderful weather for writing”, but some days you just feel like curling up with a good book. Am I right? I know that’s what I’ll be doing next.

    The books in the original Cinnamon Bay Series are now all in Kindle Unlimited so if you’re a KU subscriber they’re free for you and if not, you can still buy them on Amazon.

    It’s 9 years since I started this blog and I realised over the last few days I really needed to get back to blogging, so hopefully you’ll start to see some more activity here in the coming weeks.

    There have been some changes on social media platforms of late that have made a lot of people nervous about how much visibility we will continue to have. You don’t own your content o Facebook for example but here this is my own domain (and domain name ha ha!)

    If you talk to any writer, they’ll tell you there are a lot of balls to juggle behind the scenes and sometimes things slip. Hopefully, it won’t be my blog  slipping anymore. I’ll be back hosting cover reveals and other writers here, as well as getting back to some of the memes  (Musical Monday, Taste of Tuesday) I loved during the week.  Thanks for hanging in with me during the leaner posting period.

    Apart from secret pen name projects – which I can’t discuss because they’re secrets –  I’m currently working on Any Way You Wish It, Book 9 in the Upper Crust series and Saltwater Wishes, Marlin Shores Book 3…both will be out mid-year. Both stories are pretty fun ones to write so I hope they become fun to read as well.

    If you have any questions about my writing or anything you’d like to see on the blog please leave me  comment below.

     

     

  • Blog

    Marching into March – an update from my desk

     

    saltwater wishes Fb banner

    The month of March is upon me and I’m wondering how that is possible.

    January is always a crazy month here because of summer vacation, and I had some family commitments that ate into the start. I released Saltwater Tears in January, so it wasn’t a total loss. I hope you enjoy reading Banner’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    February I’ve been hunkered down in my writing cave, mainly working on projects for a couple of pen names and planning out my books for 2021. I’m happy to say I have a Cinnamon Bay romance out in June, which is all plotted and the next (and final Upper Crust Novel) will be ready for Christmas in July. I’ve started that one at least and it is all plotted too. I’m still trying to see if I’ll be releasing Saltwater Tears – the third Marlin Shores book in May or August – I’ve also started Tony’s story, and it’s a fun one to write.

    2021 for me is about reflection – I’ve written over 40 books, over 50 if we count pen names and I love writing but I’m considering moving in a new direction with my books so I guess that will take thought and planning. When I started out, I wanted to write a book, then I wanted to publish, then I wanted to see if I could do it again…and again. I’ve reset my goals many times to include being more productive, grow things like my social media following or release more often.

    Aside from my financial goals, I’ve hit every writing target I’ve aimed for. Maybe that’s where my focus needs to be in 2021.

    Meanwhile, there’s a sneak peak, of the cover for the cover for Saltwater Wishes above.

    I hope you have a wonderful month.

     

  • Shine
    Blog

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2021

    Shine

    Welcome to 2021 my lovely readers. Happy New Year!

    I think we’re all more than ready to embrace the new although I don’t think 2021 will be the instant panacea to 2020 many of us are hoping for. I’m optimistic it will be better.

    My word for the year is SHINE. I hope to shine brightly in 2021.

    I had lots of plans for last year and I achieved some. I did write a lot of words. I have a couple of secret pen names and published under those and my own name. 

    I definitely didn’t release everything I wanted to but that’s okay. I became a USA today Bestseller, I came second in the Australian RUBY Awards novella section and released several new books. We’ll take it.

    We moved out of our home of over 24 years and relocated to a new town with about 6 weeks’ notice, so I’m being kind to myself about my lack of accomplishment in the final quarter of 2020.

    The good news is those projects will be completed in the first half of 2021 so all is not lost.

    I started serializing Playing With Trouble in 2020, and I promise to get back to that and share the rest of it with you in 2021. You can catch up here with the opening meanwhile.

    The next books in the Marlin Shores world will be out in January and March and I can’t wait to share those as well. You can preorder Saltwater Tears here.

    Have you read the prequel Kissing The Captain? If not grab your copy here for free.

    We have big plans for the Cinnamon Bay romance world in 2021 so look out for news about that soon.

    I also have Upper Crust Series news…meanwhile have you seen the box sets I made for the Upper Crust series? You can grab them here and they are free in Kindle Unlimited.

    There are a couple of other exciting projects looming in 2021 so stay tuned.

    Happy New Year – 2021 here we come!

    Playing with Trouble

     

  • Blog

    July 1 – an update on my writing life

    More Thank Ornamental Graphic
    more than ornamental graphic

    It’s been a while since I posted here so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’ve been busy doing as it clearly hasn’t been blogging.

    In June I wrote 90,000 words. That’s my biggest writing month yet. I wrote 44,000 on one novel, 10,000 on another, 20,000 on another and some words for a secret project as well…so that was a whole lot of writing and it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for other things.

    Yesterday I launched More Than Ornamental – a sweet single dad Christmas romance (It originally appeared in the 2019 Romancing the Holidays Boxset). In October and November of 2018 I asked my Facebook followers a ton of questions about what sort of story they wanted to read including tropes, location, character roles and names and this is the novella that came out of it. More Than Ornamental is set on the Australian coast so if you’ve ever wondered what Christmas downunder is like, this is the book for you.

    My next No Brides Club book releases in September and it’s almost ready to go off the the editor, fingers crossed for this week. The Sweet Kisses Limited Edition Box Set releases this month too.

    Kissing the Captain, my contribution is a prequel to my next series which will launch with a trilogy in the next couple of months…I’m expecting to get my covers this week and I can’t wait to share them with you.  He’s the cover of Kissing the Captain with the boxset.

    Kissing the Captain and the Sweet Kisses Box Set
    Kissing the Captain coming soon in the Sweet Kisses Box Set

    So that’s enough to keep me out of mischief for July I think.

    I promise the next chapter of Playing With Trouble will be live this week.

    Anyway, I hope your July is off yo a cracking start!

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Read Along while I write Playing With Trouble Chapter 4.

    Playing With TroubleAnother week another chapter

    I’m sorry for the delay in the next installment of the Courtside Romance series – Playing with Trouble. It’s funny how everyone is talking about life slowing down during this COVID-19 outbreak and so far that hasn’t been the case for me. It’s a coincidence that I’m finishing up my day job and pitching for new clients at the same time, as I re-open my PR consultancy after a couple of years working in house. I’d already resigned when we were all sent home but all the changes have met my cruisy finish up and handover have been anything but.

    Retstaring a new business has all kinds of administration as well as pitching to new clients and let’s not forget my book babies. So, I look forward to next week when I’m100% working for myself again and have a little more control over my time.

    Meanwhile here is the next chapter in Tiffany and Andrew’s story.

    Previous chapters:

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Don’t forget this hasn’t yet been edited so there may be some typos and errors that will be fixed prior to publication.

    ***

    True to her word she was back in ten minutes and he nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw her. She wore sky-high spiked black heels and a dress made of shimmery silver fabric that was high in the front and fell low on her back like a waterfall. He was sure there was a name for that style of dress but as he could barely remember his own name, he didn’t much care. Her long blonde hair fell loosely around her shoulders and she looked amazing.

    “Wow.” Was all he managed. “Just wow.”

    “Thanks, it’s new. I bought it for the week.” He knew that meant she’d bought it for him, and he liked that. Maybe she’d relax and see that this was all still very doable if they were subtle and not overt.

    He stepped closer and put his hand on her back as he guided her towards the lift. “You do realise your dress is not helping your plan to keep me at a distance or to keep my feelings hidden.”

    “Sorry.” She probably was at least a little.

    “I’ll cope.” The lift door closed, and they were alone inside. “But you need to know I’d really rather kiss you than do anything else at all on the planet right now.”

    Her cheeks pinked and she gave him a shy smile. “Likewise.”

    He might have done so if the door hadn’t pinged and opened spilling them into an exclusive section of the casino that Axel had reserved. Thumping music came at them as did a large bouncer with a door list which had both their names on it. Andrew had never wanted to go to a party less in his life but he was going to have to take any time he could get with Tiffany while he tried to win her over and demonstrate their week long fling wasn’t going to impact either of them in any way that was less than positive. And he was going to have to do it without looking like the possessive caveman he felt like as he watched the hungry eyes of the other men in the room devour Tiffany. There was exactly one word for his current predicament and that was torture. Pure and utter torture and yet for Tiffany he would take it. It occurred to him his feelings for the woman were way more than lust but now was not the time for introspection, now was the time to be a perfect non-date while keeping the hands of the likes of Alexi well away from Tiffany.

    Axel was the first to approach back-slapping Andrew and giving Tiff a shy smile and nod.

    “You made it. I wasn’t sure you would.”

    “Sure did. Tiffany wanted to blow off some steam and I said this was the place.”

    A guy with a tray of tequila shots came by and they each took one. Tiffany smiled.

    “Looks like you were right.” She said after downing hers at lightning speed.

    “That must have been quite a day.” He said in her ear before he and Axel downed theirs.

    Andrew wasn’t much of a drinker, body of an athlete and all that. He was now two whiskey’s and a tequila in. He needed to watch it. That was about his limit during season, or ever really. He had a few beers now and then but nothing too serious. Tiffany however had been handed a glass of champagne, no doubt the very expensive stuff and was guzzling it like water.

    “Shall we sit.”

    “Or we could dance.” She said. And then to his utter annoyance she turned to Axel. “You want to dance Axel?”

    He gave a nod and she handed her glass to Andrew. “I’ll be back.”

    Okay. Well, this was not at all what he had in mind.

     

    Tiffany hadn’t danced in ages. Sometimes she felt like she was a forty-year-old woman trapped in the body of a twenty-seven-year-old. It was like she had Dylan at twenty-two and all the fun stuff the parties and the dancing stopped and the serious business of being a grownup had gone into overdrive. Ninety nine percent of the time she was fine with that. She had her cute condo, a great job, some sweet friends she’d made at mommy and me classes and now a few moms from the school she was getting to know. But they did not go dancing at exclusive parties and guzzle very pricey champagne surrounded by A list celebrities. They didn’t look at her like she was hot and young and beautiful and every so often it was nice to feel that way.

    She’d brought the dress on a mark down rack just after the tournament last year, just in case she got to hang with Andrew again this year. She’d had it hanging in her wardrobe and when she needed a boost, she would take it out and look at it and remind herself she was still a young woman with lots of opportunities ahead of her. Part of her had thought it ridiculous and the other part thought there was nothing wrong with a bit of dreaming.

    Now here she was. The man in question was standing off to the side of the dance floor being very polite to the young ingénue who was talking to him. He was holding her drink and his eyes rarely left her. Meanwhile she was shaking her thing with Axel. Wait until she told the PTA moms this, their minds would explode. If she had her preference, she’d be dancing with Andrew, but she needed to blow of some energy, and she would be so obvious dancing with him. Her dance wouldn’t say this is fun it would say, take me now and that couldn’t happen.

    The song switched and she found herself dancing with another tennis player and then by the third dance Alexi. Not at all her preference. She kept moving avoiding him touching her. She was sure the surly Russian was a decent enough guy, but she didn’t feel like that about him and his touching her felt creepy. She knew Andrew was watching and she had a feeling if Alexi’s hand went anywhere it shouldn’t there be a scene.

    “Thanks. I need a drink.” She said at the end of the dance and headed towards and her drink. She had no idea if Alexi would follow. She hoped not.

    Andrew held out her glass when she approached one eyebrow raised. It was probably because she was all sweaty. She grabbed a napkin and discreetly patted her upper lip. “Thanks.”

    The girl next to him gave her the evil eye and Alexi joined them and did the same to Andrew. The champagne tray arrived, and she took a another. The waiter swung by with some canapes and she snagged one of those too. She hadn’t eaten all day thanks to the diva’s antics, which had taken hours to smooth over. Up until now Tiffany had largely only seen the celebrity players at their best, because it was an event for cancer kids they usually behaved impeccably. Usually being the key word.

    “You are good dancer.’ Alexi said.

    “Thanks. I don’t dance much.”

    “This is shame. Pretty women should dance.” She knew he meant it as a compliment and so she gave him a small smile.

    “So, what do you do to blow off steam then?’ Andrew asked.

    “I hit the gun range.” The young woman said, as if he’d asked her.

    “Interesting.” Alexi said, turning his attention on her.

    “I have punching bag I knock the stuffing out of.” Tiffany said. That was true and a better answer than snuggle on the couch with my son, especially to a man who didn’t know you had a son.

    “Well, it would have gotten a workout tonight.”

    @Yeah dancing is more fun.” He raised his glass and they drank.

    “I know another great way that is great fun.” He winked at her and her ovaries did a dance of their own. She was in so much trouble here, but she couldn’t help but answering. “Oh yeah?”

    And then he answered. “Tennis. Great way to blow off steam.” She swatted his arm. And he feigned innocence. “Why what else could I be thinking of?”

    “Nothing, nothing at all.” She shook her head. “You going to dance with me Benjamin?”

    “Sure, I must warn you, I don’t have Axel’s moves.”

    She led the way to the dance floor and in the din of the crowd looked over her shoulder at him and said. “I’ve seen your moves, they are, way way better than Axel’s.”

     

    She wanted to kill him, apparently. Watching her shake her thing on the dance floor had him fixing his jaw and by the time Alexi muscled in he was sure he was grinding his teeth, not that the sweet girl talking to him seemed to notice she just kept flirting away. He hoped he was more subtle than he felt, and that the girl wasn’t just oblivious, but he couldn’t be certain.

    No as he followed Tiffany on to the dance floor in that dress that made her look incredible, he was going to need all the restraint in the world to hold it together and not pull his body up against those sweet curves. Hopefully the universe would throw him a bone and the music would stay fast. Tiffany headed to the middle of the floor and turned and gave him a sultry look. She was a little buzzed, but she was having way too much fun at his expense. The ridiculous part was he was getting nothing out of it but the pleasure of her company, she’d made that well not clear exactly but, he was fairly certain that was the reality.

    For the next ten minutes he let her shimmy and shake around him like he was a pole. She was so joyous in her dancing he couldn’t help but enjoy himself, but it was pure torture and that was long enough. He couldn’t leave her alone on the dance floor because it was very clear there were plenty of men happy to come and take his place and as hard as it was being here watching her with someone else would be worse.

    “How about we grab a water?” He wrapped his hand around her waist and hauled her off the dance floor.

    “Party pooper.” She said with an adorable pout. “Can I at least have another champagne?”

    “You can have whatever you like but I’m pretty sure you have an early start and divas to handle tomorrow.”

    He hadn’t released her, and he felt the groan she let out all through his body. It wasn’t exactly the sound he wanted to make her make.

    “Now you’re a total buzz kill…” she looked at the thin gold watch around her delicate wrist. “But you’re also right.”

    “Do you feel better than when you arrived?’

    “Absolutely. I love to dance. I miss it.”

    She lived nearby. There were plenty of places to dance here in Vegas, hundreds in fact. It was odd that she didn’t do it.

    “You should do it more often then.”

    “As long as you don’t have to watch.” She gave him a nudge with her hip.

    “Exactly. Come on pretty girl. Let’s get you to bed before you turn into a pumpkin.”

    “I don’t think that’s exactly how the story goes Benjamin.” She smiled. “I’m still resisting you, though you have made it exceptionally hard tonight.”

    He sighed. Hard was definitely the word for it. The man didn’t like it, but he understood.

    Want to read Book 1 – Playing at Love or Book 2 – Playing it Safe click here.

    *Affiliate links used on this blog.

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Let’s read along as I write – Playing With Trouble Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 a couple of days late.

    How is everyone doing on lockdown. I thought it would make me extra organised but not so far. I’m giving myself until April 1 and then I’m expecting only awesome and organised from myself. It’s good to have goals right? Sorry this is a couple of days late. I promise to do better from now on. The good news is Chapter 2 is today and Chapter 3 is tomorrow, so less of a wait!

    (Don’t forget this is unedited so there will be mistakes and those will all be fixed up before publishing.

    Playing With Trouble

    Ch 2: Tiffany

    Finally, Alexi wound up his story and she made her excuses to head inside, She encouraged him to go talk to the media before she left.

    Inside the club was pumping the heavy base of the music reverberating through her body. They did not play this music on kids television which was where her regular playlist came from.  Her co-worker and boss Cynthia grabbed her as she made her way through the throng.

    “Good crowd. Lots of celebrities and media. You’re doing an amazing job as usual.”

    She smiled, Cynthia was so generous and such a wonderful woman to work with. It made leaving Levi in day care for all those hours and now with an after school sitter so much easier. “It gets bigger every year which is so great for the cause.”

    “Absolutely.” One of the sponsors caught Cynthia’s eye and just as she was hoping find Andrew a hand wrapped around her forearm and a familiar voice whispered in her ear.

    “I was hoping I might see you here.”

    She turned and found him smiling down at her, his breathtaking smile lighting up his face and she couldn’t help but smile back. “Likewise.”

    He pulled her in for a hug. Nothing inappropriate there. She hugged a lot of the regulars. What he whispered in her ear might not have been, however and she felt herself blush as she pulled back.

    “We’ll see about that.”

    He smiled back, a wicked smile that promised he would indeed be more than happy to do what he’d said. And she just shook her head at him.

    The conversation was interrupted by Kevin Blanchard one of the regulars and one of her absolute favourites.

    “Ah the beautiful Tiffany, if I were twenty years younger and not married.”

    She watched Andrew tense beside him. She wanted to say ‘jealous much’ but that would have been wrong on so many levels. Everyone knew Kevin was the quintessential family man.

    She hugged Kevin and asked about his wife and kids.

    “Any chance we’ll be paired together again?” Kevin asked crooking his thumb at Andrew. “I could be the new Benji while his partner is out of action.”

    “You know it’s a random draw.” She said looking towards the stage where the DJ was currently set up. “Speaking of which I better get up there and make sure we do the draw or else we can’t have much of a tournament can we?”

    “Off you go honey, you go work your magic.” Kevin said sweetly.

    “I’ll catch you guys later.” She said looking between them.

    “Count on it.” Andrew replied. And she knew for sure they were on again for the week. She walked off with a little bit more of a sway of the hips than usual. She had to look professional, and she couldn’t let anyone know they were together, but he knew and that sway was all for him.

     

    Andrew watched Tiffany walk away and couldn’t help but smile.

    “Pretty girl,” Kevin said beside her.

    “Indeed.”

    “You could do worse. A lot worse.” Kevin said.

    “I don’t doubt that but we’re just friends, Kev. I see her every year and I enjoy her company. Just like us, man”

    “Sometimes friends turn into more than friends.”

    “Sometimes they do.” His tone was noncommittal. Andrew looked around the room. The tennis players he knew but the celebrities not so much. Kevin would point out a starlet or young man and give Andrew the whole back story.

    “Do you even watch TV?”

    “Not really, no.” The truth was he didn’t have a lot of downtime and when he did ,he just didn’t tend to spend it sitting. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid which was how he’d ended up in every sport under the sun. He’d loved them all but somehow tennis had been his thing and he’d excelled at it.

    “You, my friend are bad for business.”

    The music wound down and the DJ announced the draw was about to happen. Fifteen minutes later the official proceedings were done and Andrew was teamed up not with Kevin, sadly, but with a young up and coming movie star who got his start in kids TV according to Kevin.

    “Axel is Bit of a punk but it could have been worse.”

    Poor Kevin was paired with a young Greek hothead. He definitely drew the short straw. Maybe it was random after all. He caught Tiffany’s eye and she just shrugged a “don’t blame me” kind of shrug. He didn’t and he knew it would make for a good tournament for the crowds and that was what they wanted after all. They were here to pull in the crowds and raise some serious coin. He’d meant what he’d said to Nate, sure a win was nice but here it was all about the kids.

    He spent an hour making small talk with his new team mate and some of the other celebs, smiling and hamming it up for the cameras before seeking out Tiffany again. She was stuck in a conversation with Alexi. Andrew knew enough about her body language to knows she wanted that conversation done and dusted and fast.

    “Hey Alexi, Tiffany.” He did a chin tilt in the direction of each of them. “Great party Tiffany, am I right Alexi?”

    “Da, is great.”

    “Thanks. Las Vegas is a party town so its hard to have an impact.”

    “The wait staff in the old fashioned tennis whites is doing that.”

    He wanted to get her alone but ten minutes of small talk with the Russian continued. It was tedious but Andrew knew it was important for Tiffany that their annual fling stay under wraps. She’d said it might make her look unprofessional and he understood that. He wasn’t used to being the sort of guy that women hid, he was much more likely to see them share a connection all over social media, but he had agreed to that. A decision he was regretting at present. Luckily Alexi’s phone rang and he had to step out and take the call.

    “Thank goodness,” Tiffany said rolling her eyes. “That man can talk.”

    “Do you say that about me when I walk away.” She just rolled her eyes at him in response. “So, when can you leave?”

    She looked around, the crowd was starting to thin. “Maybe half an hour or forty five minutes I guess. Why what did you have in mind?”

    He had a couple of things in mind but first dinner. “I need to eat. Maybe a steak, a glass of wine?”

    She nodded. “Sounds nice.”

    “I’ll make us a reservation at the Club Room in the hotel. Does that work? Is it okay to be seen alone with me or do you need cover because I’m sure Kevin would be happy to go with and maybe your boss?”

    “Maybe we should do that, at least tonight.”

    “There will be other nights then?” he asked, his voice a combination of hope and suggestiveness.

    “If you’re lucky.” She gave him a wink.

    He definitely felt very lucky indeed right now. He knew he’d been looking forward to seeing her but that promise of spending time together was now real and he knew he was grinning like a fool. He liked her. If his life was different, he were a different guy he’d pursue it further, but he wasn’t. He had no plans to settle down ever and he was fine with that but he had a feeling Tiffany was very much the settling down type. Maybe not today, but in a year or two so he would enjoy every moment he got and be grateful for it.

    “Okay I’ll book for four and make it happen.”

    “Thanks.”

    And he headed off to do just that. It was no hardship but he would much rather have been eating alone with Tiffany, preferably naked. But that could wait.

     

    Torture, that was the word Tiffany would have used to describe the dinner. Andrew sat across from her rubbing his foot up and down her calf as she ate. It was not at all fair and he knew it. It wasn’t that she hated it, it was just that it wasn’t enough.

    Then of course there was the fact that her boss started to tell a story about inappropriate staff fraternisation with celebrities a while back. Andrew’s guilty foot slunk away from her calf.

    “People are adults, they should be allowed to do what they want.” Kevin responded.

    “We’re a children’s charity, that’s all. It doesn’t look good.”

    “I don’t think should matter.” Kevin added.

    Andrew sighed. “I’m so sick of people’s private lives being a matter for anyone else but them. I kind of get the celebrity fascination but who cares otherwise. I mean you’re good hardworking people trying to make a difference in the world. That’s what people should focus on. I’d be disappointed to think any organisation I worked with would judge or penalise a staff member for their after hours decisions.”

    “Well, no of course we would never,” Chelsea said clearly trying to back track but she wasn’t especially convincing and the warm happy buzz Tiffany had been experienced was gone.

    “Excuse me for a minute.” The men stood when she went to leave. Such gentlemen. That was the thing. People could make her relationship, friendship or whatever the heck it was seem sordid but it wasn’t. He treated her with respect and kindness always. When she stepped out of the powder room he as waiting for her.

    “Hey.” He didn’t stand too close he just snagged her wrist. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I just…I can’t lose my job Andrew.”

    “I know. I would never let that happen.”

    “Not intentionally, I know that, but I don’t want to be part of some sort of a scandal.”

    He looked down at her his eyes searching her face. He didn’t know the full story, the real reason that she couldn’t take the risk and it didn’t matter.

    “Of course not, my partner Ben and his girl Abby just went through something like this. It was a hot mess and it’s part of why he’s taking a break right now. I wouldn’t want either of us to have to go through anything like that.” She smiled at him, that was right. She’d watched that story from the sidelines just like everyone else who had any interest in tennis. “In our case we’re supposed to be having fun, so if it’s not fun we don’t do it.”

    “Okay, so we just are friends with no benefits then?” Even as she said it out loud it felt wrong. It was clearly not what either of them wanted.

    “I guess so.” He didn’t look any happier than she felt.

    They walked side by side back to the table. Neither of them having much of an appetite and Tiffany wondering if she hadn’t just turned away the best thing that had ever happened to her, even if he was only a temporary best thing.

    Have you read Playing at Love or Playing it Safe yet? Playing it Safe tells the story of Abby and Benjamin (The other Benji mentioned in this chapter above).

    (Note this post contains Affiliate links).

     

  • Playing with Trouble
    Blog

    Let’s Read along Together as I write Playing With Trouble – Chapter 1

    So I had an idea that I wanted to do something here on the blog that would keep readers occupied in these trying times. I have this third book in the Courtside Romance Series, Playing with Trouble,  about half done…so I thought what if I start sharing chapters regularly – like a serial? I know other authors have done this on their websites or in their newsletters so I thought – why not?

    The book is not edited  (so don’t be surprised if you find the odd error hear and there) and as I haven’t finished it yet it’s possible (no it’s highly likely) that this version will differ somewhat from what gets published later in the year.

    ***

    Playing with Trouble -Monique McDonellPlaying With Trouble

    Ch 1: Andrew

    Andrew kicked off his shoes and sat on the sofa in his opulent suite, taking in the view of the Vegas strip. He loved Vegas. For some reason it was one of the few places he felt relaxed. When he thought about that he knew it was crazy, Vegas was not known for it’s mellow but somehow amidst all the chaos he felt at peace.

    Every year for the past eight he came back to play this same charity tournament to raise funds or teens with cancer. It helped put his own difficulties into perspective yet again. The past twelve months had not been easy. He’s missed several months nursing an injury and then just when he was back on the doubles circuit winning again with his best mate Benjamin Golden, his buddy, had fallen in love and taken a hiatus to get things right with his girl Abby.

    Ben was currently building a tennis training academy in small town America and Andrew was here alone.

    It was okay though because looking out at the madness of the strip he didn’t feel alone and maybe if he was lucky he wouldn’t be alone tonight.

    He never had any trouble finding women but that wasn’t really his style, no matter what the tabloids said. Sure he hooked ups but he tended to have two or three women he reconnected with on tour and here in Vegas it was Tiffany.

    Tiffany was the PR Manager for the tournament and somehow for the last three years they’d ended up spending the week together. There were no promises and they didn’t keep in touch in between but he liked her and if he was honest he even missed her. There’d been times this year he’d thought of hopping a plane to Vegas just to see her but that wasn’t their thing, and he was not a relationship guy.

    He’d been hurt too much in the past to make the mistake of letting someone close agai,n but Tiffany was the only woman he’d ever considered it with. Naturally he’d resisted the urge.

    Still, he hoped that he’ see her out at the pre-tournament mixer tonight. He knew shed be there but maybe she’d moved on. She could be in a relationship or just not interested, he had no idea.

    His phone rang and it was his trainer, Nate. Normally when he played on the ATP, Nate was with him but not for these charity events. It was part of the appeal, not that he’d tell the coach that. Nate was not good for his mellow. Nate usually called to bust his chops, that was the man’s idea of a motivational speech. He hit the speaker button and leaned forward his elbows on his knees, mimicking his coaches famous pose.

    “Hey Nate.”

    “You made it to Vegas?”

    “Of course. I do know how to get on and off a plane buddy.”

    “Just checking.”

    “It’s nice that you care. You’re like my work mom.”

    “Better than being your work wife. Okay ,so I know this is for charity and all that but this is a good chance for you to shine. You can win this thing.”

    “Not everything is about winning Nate.”

    “When you’re on the court it is.” Nate corrected him. “It would be good for you to have a win, set you up for the next solo gig if you insist you don’t want me to find you a temporary doubles partner while Golden Boy is out of the picture.”

    “I play doubles as The Benji’s or not at all. I’ll just play singles and I’ll play mixed doubles with Savannah.”

    Nate groaned at the woman’s name. There was a story there but neither he or Savannah were telling so Andrew didn’t ask.

    “If you say so. Well, all the more reason to nail your singles game.”

    “Nate, I’ll do my best but this tournament is about more than tennis.”

    “Yeah well just because you’re in Vegas doesn’t mean it should be all about chasing tail and drinking like a lunatic.”

    “Chasing tail? Nate who even says that?” He heard Nate growl down the phone. “Message received mommy, I’ll be  a good boy. Having said that I need to shower and get to the event mixer and get my photo taken with the fans. So we’ll talk later.”

    “Excellent.” And the phone went silent.

    The lights were coming on down on the strip. Time to get moving and if he was lucky go and find Tiffany.

     

    An hour later he took his walk along the celebrity red carpet outside the club. He smiled for the cameras, as requested. The tournament had a celebrity stream as well as the traditional tennis players and for doubles he would be teamed up with one of the celebrities. It was supposed to be random but he had a feeling it was less random than most people thought, because he’d been teamed the last couple of years with people who could actually play. That made it a much better experience. Ahead of him in the carpet was Kevin Blanchard an 80’s sitcom star he’d played with two years ago and with whom he’d won. The man was perpetually tanned and seemingly ageless.

    Kevin pulled him in for a back-slapping man-hug and they posed for the camera.

    “I hope we’re together again buddy.” He said.

    “Me too.”

    “Last year that Russian player was no fun at all. I want to win but I also want to smile.”

    “I hear you.” The cameras clicked as they struck a pose. “How about we go find ourselves some drinks and get started with the feel good vibe?.”

    Walking in he thought he spotted Tiffany talking to the Russian in question but it could have been someone else. He hoped so, Alexi was a hideous flirt and even though he had n say in the matter he didn’t want the man any where near Tiffany.

     

     

     

  • Blog

    Today I interview myself about my writing life

    3/26/2019

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose
    Today I thought I’d ask myself the Top 5 questions I get asked about my writing life.
    Something to Savour - Jewel Sisters Series - Monique McDonell - Cover
    1. How’s your writing going?
    This is the question people who know I write but don’t really know about the details ask. It’s the most common question I get.

    It’s going fine. I have another book out next month and my last release was okay although I didn’t promote it properly. It was a novella and I don’t think people really want novellas from me. My January release No Time For Temptation went well and readers are giving it great reviews which makes me happy.

    2. When is the next book out?
    This is the question from my friends who read and love my books.
    Girlfriend, I’m doing my best here. It takes a lot longer to write a book than read a book you know. I’m working really hard here and but you’ll have books in April, May, June so don’t panic. There will be lots to read. I do really appreciate that you love my books and your support makes me cry all the happy tears.

    3. Can I get it in paperback?
    Asked by lots of non e-reading friends.

    You know I used to do paperbacks and they just don’t sell unless you have a book launch or a signing but I have No Time For Temptation in paperback and it will be live on Amazon soon. I’m also ordering duets of the Upper Crust series soon, I promise.

     

     

    Here’s an example!

    Upper Crust Series Any Way You Slice It and Any Way You Dream It - Paperback Duet Example

     

    4. How do you write so fast?
    This is usually asked by other authors who don’t write as quickly as I do.

    Firstly, I have had years of practice at being quick at turning work around in my day job where I’ve basically written all day for a living. Secondly, I’m not bad at time management in general so I’m really good at using 15 minute increments to get stuff done – a Facebook post, some emails, or some behind the scenes activity. Thirdly, I know my best times of day for creativity and it’s good to work these out for yourself. (Mine are 10am -12noon , 2-4pm, and 5-6.30pm) If I can get two one hour blocks in these times I can get 2-3,000 words of a draft done. I try and do a minimum of 1,000 words a day. That adds up. Fourthly, by writing every day I can dive straight back in where I left off which saves time and backtracking. Finally, i enjoy writing (editing and promoting not so much) but I do it because I like it and that makes it easier.

    There is no correct pace to write at. It depends on a lot of things. I like to release regularly because as an indie romance author that helps me with sales, visibility and the pesky Amazon algorithms. Also I read quickly so I understand that kind of reader who wants to read a series back-to-back. That means I need to write quickly and it’s important to me so I make time for it.

    Also I don’t watch TV hardly at all (except the odd cooking show). I haven’t seen a movie since January 2018 and I don’t play sports or have a time consuming hobby. As does meal preparation (we don’t eat take-away) and planning on the home front. Oh yes, and my house isn’t company ready 95% of the time. You’d be amazed how much time that frees up.

    ​5. How do you come up with your ideas?
    Lots of people ask this.

    Ideas are not an issue for me. I have books planned out and so many things I’d love to write that I’ll never get to. The characters appear before me and then I want to tell their stories. Picking the right stories in the right order is the challenge for me as is deciding what people would like to read. I’ll have a plan and then get distracted by shiny new things. Staying focused is the challenge.

    ​If you have any question please feel free to ask me in the comments below.