Renee Conoulty: May 2016


Monday, 30 May 2016

Una Tiers Book Review Recipe

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Una Tiers, who I met via the wonderful world of book blogging.

Una Tiers is the pen name for an attorney in Chicago, Illinois who releases stress by murdering people, on paper. Years of law practice have provided her with both the stress and the stories to amuse readers.

Una Tiers writes humorcide/mysteries about the law. Her first series, called the Fiona Gavelle Mysteries has five books. The stories are set in the most magnificent city in the world, Chicago, Illinois. Her characters are compilations of so many people she met over the years. The underlying message? There are lessons about the law woven into the books along with senior power ideas.

Connect with Una via

Guest Post - Book Reviews

A book review is your opinion of a book. It's how you feel about the plot, characters, pace and/0r message. It's how the book made you feel or think. It doesn't have to be more than a few sentences. You should NOT use a spoiler or be mean spirited.

Recently, I heard a speaker who suggested something disturbing about reviews. She said the author should write the reviews, in a pick and chose manner and give them to the reader, with a copy of the book. The reader can then pick the statements they agree with. Reading the book wasn't stressed.

I'm appalled. Still we all remember the book puppet review scandal and have read reviews that all seem suspiciously similar.

Please consider following this modified Easy Bake Oven recipe:

1. Read the book. 
2. Answer a few questions. Some suggestions follow. 
3. Did you like, love or dislike the book? 
4. What reason can you give for your position? Were the characters fun or flat? Did you like the hero of the story? Was the premise unbelievable? 
5. What did you think of the plot? 
6. Did the book have a message?

Books are close to an author's heart because they are something we created. We aren't selling widgets, we are selling a little of our imagination. Consider harsh criticism to be similar to criticizing a friend's spouse. Of course an ex-spouse is fair game. 

If you would like a sample of one of the Fiona Gavelle Mysteries, send us an email:

Check out the books on Amazon

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl Fanfiction Fantasy
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Hey! Here's my review

I read Fangirl a couple of years ago and loved it. I was intrigued by the fanfiction snippets within Fangirl and when I found out Rainbow Rowell was writing her own version of Simon's story, I hunted down a copy. You don't need to have read Fangirl to enjoy this story. If you haven't read Fangirl, it's about a girl who wrote fanfiction about a popular fantasy series (very similar to Harry Potter). This book is Rainbow's take on the last book in that fictional series written by a fictional character.

It does start off in a similar world to Harry Potter, but with its own flavour. The characters are all quite different to Harry Potter and the plotline goes in a different direction. The story started out slow, catching up on the backstory of the previous (unwritten) years, then picked up the pace as we got into the mystery and the love/hate romance. I loved the characters and was cheering them on. 

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Secret Pony by Holly Webb

Silver the pony has a very special secret. He's really a unicorn and more than anything he wants to be free. Can Molly find somewhere he will be happy?

Hey! Here's my review

**Interview with my 5 and 7-year-old kids**

Me: What did you think of this book?
7: Wicka Wicka Wicked
5: W-W-W-W-Wicked

Me: What was your favourite bit?
5: When the little girl was riding a horse and she fell off and she never wanted to ride a horse again until she met the unicorn
7: When the unicorn and Molly made the secret circle and the unicorn would be safe

Me: What kind of pet do you think Molly (in the book) should get?
7: A cat
5: A dog


  • Where: Own book
  • Format: paperback

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How much fact is in your fiction?

Hey Everyone!

I mentioned the other day that I've been doing an online writing course. In one section we had to post two truths and a lie, then see if the other writers could guess which statement was the lie. In most cases it wasn't easy to tell, but the ones that were obvious were the people who made their lie outrageous and impossible. I made a comment after that was succinct enough to share on twitter.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Virginia King *Guest Post, Giveaway & Freebie*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Virginia King, who is on tour with her latest novel, The First Lie.

When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.

Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

Connect with Virginia via

Guest Post

A Ghost Story Needs … a Ghost
by Virginia King

When an author of paranormal mysteries was looking for ghost stories for a collection, I decided not to participate. My psychological mysteries have a mythical twist so I’m into visionary mirrors and mystical graveyards, suspect stalkers and symbolic objects. I’ve never sidled up to a ghost. And I was in the middle of my mystery-in-progress: book three of my Selkie Moon Mystery Series. A ghost story would be a distraction.
But the temptation took up residence in my mind. Ideas crept up on me, especially in the middle of the night – just like a … ghost.

Stalking the Spectre

My modern mysteries are inspired by folktales and mythology. I recalled a Russian folktale with an unusual ghostly theme. Perfect. If I set my modern ghost story in Pearl Beach north of Sydney – a good place to locate a deserted beach house and generate some suspense – then a character with a Russian name would usher in elements inspired by the original tale. The story started to take shape, quietly preparing the red carpet for the arrival of the apparition. Until I realised that an idea from this same folktale had seeped into my mystery-in-progress. If I used even a hint of the same theme in the ghost story, it would be a spoiler for the novel.

Googling the Ghost

I started researching other folktales. In a collection of Celtic supernatural stories, the introduction suggests a new angle on ghosts: ‘ghosts’ are created when violent acts leave an imprint on the landscape, like a sound recording. This imprint is reactivated at a future date by individuals sensitive enough to evoke it. Hmmm.
A quote from Robert Louis Stevenson became the epigraph to my story:
Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwreck.
Then I ‘googled upon’ a murder ballad from the 1700s that has been reinterpreted by musical artists ever since. But it’s not well-known and many versions include … a ghost. These three elements inspired my story.

Freebie - Laying Ghosts

Laying Ghosts is a 24-page ghost story with one character inspired by a Russian folktale, a dank garden imprinted with past violence like a Celtic landscape, and a haunting refrain with origins in a murder ballad from the 1700s. 

You can download your free copy here:

Giveaway of The First Lie

You could be one of ten lucky winners who will choose either a signed paperback or an audio book of The First Lie plus a $15 Amazon gift code. One grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift code.

Stay tuned for my review of the audiobook edition of The First Lie.


Friday, 20 May 2016

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower by Rebecca Raisin *Cover Reveal*


Hey Everyone!

Don’t miss the exciting new title The Little Antique Shop Under the Eiffel Tower by Rebecca Raisin available on July 1, 2016 - pre-order your copy today!


Book Information

Title: The Little Antique Shop Under the Eiffel Tower
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Series: The Little Paris Collection, Book 2
Standalone?: Yes
Release Date: July 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Watch for more in The Little Paris Collection
  1. The Little Bookshop on the Seine (available now)
  2. The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower
  3. The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées
What reviewers are saying about The Little Bookshop on the Seine

‘ This novel is a love letter to Paris, and even more so a love letter to books; it is absolutely a must-read book for book lovers.’ – Rather Too Fond of Books

‘easy to read and devoured quickly, I literally could not get enough and I was so sad to finish it. It was a truly captivating, spellbinding tale of taking chances and living life to the full that I am sure will ring true with many readers.’ – Compelling Reads

‘I love love love this author, and this book cements the fact that this series is a winner!’ – Fiona (Goodreads)

‘I loved every second of The Little Bookshop on the Seine, easy to read, with words oozing charm and good feeling, that just made me feel warm and cosy.’ – Rachel’s Random Reads

‘a beautifully written novel’ – Hilda (Goodreads)

‘A delightful story that's perfect for reading in your favorite cozy chair. … Such a good book to lose yourself in.’ – Janet Robel (Goodreads)

‘It really brought Paris to life … extremely romantic, love is most definitely on the menu’ – Elaine (Goodreads)

‘a great escape to Paris and I’m looking forward to the other books in the Little Paris Collection.’ – French Village Diaries

Book Links

About Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Connect with Rebecca via


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Invisible Bunny by Holly Webb

Molly loves animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up just like her dad - as everyone says; she's got the magic touch! Snowdrop, the rabbit, is behaving very oddly. Not only does he have the hiccups - he keeps disappearing. Will Molly be able to find him before his owner returns?

Hey! Here's my review

**Interview with my 5 and 7-year-old kids**

Me: What did you think of this book?
7: W-W- W-W-Wicked!
5: W-W-W-W-Wicked!

Me: Who was your favourite character?
5: Molly
7: Molly

Me: What was your favourite bit?
5: When the bunny sneezed and disappeared
7: When she thought the bunny had disappeared and her Dad was coming

Me: If you could do a magic trick, what would it be?
7: If I had a bunny in my hand and I could just tap it with a wand and it would go poof and disappear
5: If a bunny n my hand and I kiss it and it disappears

  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook

Monday, 16 May 2016

Accidental Makeovers by Carol Maloney Scott *Review*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Carol Maloney Scott, who is on tour with her latest novel, Accidental Makeovers. 

Carol Maloney Scott, author of the Rom-Com on the Edge series, is a frazzled new bride and wiener dog fanatic. She is a lover of donuts, and a hater mornings. Recently unearthing a childhood passion for writing, she can once again be seen carrying around a notebook and staring into space. Her stories are witty, fresh and real, just like life.
Join her on “The Edge” for giveaways, cover reveals, excerpts, contests and members-only content at

Accidental Makeovers by Carol Maloney Scott

Twenty-something, single mom Bianca yearns for more. The cosmetology license she worked so hard to get is collecting dust while she waitresses for her mother’s catering business, but she has no clue how to turn her dreams of being a makeup artist into reality. Adding to her unhappiness is her dead-end relationship with her immature, video game-obsessed baby daddy, Max. Although he runs a successful business and Bianca still gets a thrill whenever she sees him play the drums in his cover band, Chain, she can’t deny that he’s starting to feel like her big, tattooed second child. 

In desperate need of a life makeover, her fortune takes a positive turn when she crosses paths with an impulsive, runaway bride who has the connections to help Bianca achieve her goals. Suddenly, doors are being opened for her and she has a fabulous, new job that’s reigniting her zest for life. Too bad Max isn’t on board with these changes, and he starts acting like a jealous jerk, which brings their faltering relationship to a boiling point just about the time Bianca meets Eric, a sexy and charming financial manager. Eric comes from a different world, but one Bianca is increasingly eager to join. 

Bianca expects her friends and family to be supportive of her budding romance with Eric, but to her surprise, they’re all on Team Max and they rally behind him when he launches a campaign to win her back. Nothing wrong with bar fights, fake girlfriends, and strategically placed rodents when they're all in the name of true love, right? 

Quite by accident her world is transformed overnight, but can a career makeover beautify her love life?

Hey! Here's my review.

This is the fourth book in the Rom-Com on the Edge series. I haven't read the previous books yet (but have book one sitting on my e-reader waiting for me), so I know this can be read as a stand alone, though if you've read the earlier books, I think you will enjoy revisiting these characters even more. 

The story is told in first person, but split between several characters, so although you feel like you know exactly what's going on, you don't have the all seeing eye of the narrator and things still pop up to surprise you. 

I liked Bianca and cheered her on throughout the book. I kept changing my mind about who I thought she should end up with, but I was happy with who she chose. There were lots of laugh out loud, light and fluffy moments, interspersed with some deeper ones. A well balanced, entertaining chick lit novel.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

One More Life by T.R. Lykins

Elizabeth Renee Watson never dreamt that she would ever be proposed to.

She's had several bad relationships end because of an illness that almost killed her. Now she has this wonderful guy down on one knee, asking her to marry him. Can she say yes or will her illness come back to haunt her? Will Tyler be able to deal with her illness or will he run like the rest of them.

Tyler James Smith had given up on finding his "forever girl" until he took his best friend's son to school one day. When he walked into that classroom, he finally met the girl of his dreams. Tyler had always envied his friends and their loving relationships. He wanted what they had.

Can Elizabeth and Tyler have the "forever" they've always dreamed of?

Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third book in the Last Heartbeat series. It could be read as a stand alone, but you will recognise a few characters if you've read the first two books.

This is a sweet new adult romance, continuing the theme of organ transplant and organ donation. I enjoyed the story and seeing how it fit in with the first two books in the series. 

I listened to the audiobook edition which I received free in exchange for an honest review. The narrator spoke clearly and at a good pace.


  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: audiobook

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Bluegrass Bend by Mandy Magro

She couldn't let her past steal her future any longer...

Ivy Tucker was a gifted musician with big dreams but the night she was viciously attacked took all that away from her. Without the intervention of a mystery man she would have been killed. She has no idea what her protector looks like and though she wrote to him, he never responded. She can't blame him wanting to forget the past, she feels the same. To survive, she focuses on the healing work she does alongside her aunts at Healing Hills – working with horses to help people rebuild their shattered lives. But her home, her life and her business are under threat...

Ronny Sinclair is finally free after eight years in prison. He regrets ending a life, but in the heat of the moment it was the only way to save another. The young woman he protected was worth every second he spent locked up, and her face and angelic voice are etched in his heart and mind forever. A bittersweet twist of fate gives him a new start in her hometown, Bluegrass Bend. Would she recognise him? Could she, after the terrible state she'd been left in?

Fate intervenes, pushing Ronny and Ivy together at a fundraising event. When Ivy needs Ronny to help her save Healing Hills, he knows he should keep his past hidden, that he should stay away from her, but their love of the country, horses and music brings Ivy and Ronny closer – dangerously so. As feelings build their fragile trust is threatened by Ronny's secret. Will his determination to leave the past behind him cost them their chance at love?

Hey! Heres'my review.

The cover for Bluegrass Bend is stunning, and I requested a review copy from NetGalley on that alone.

I loved the setting, rural Australia on a farm where horses are used therapeutically. I love this idea. I've spent some time helping at Riding for the Disabled and I know what a wonderful experience that can be. Though Ivy is so busy helping others heal, that she hasn't fully healed herself. I loved following her as she continued her healing journey.

This novel is full of secrets and brings up the question of when is keeping a secret the best choice, and when should it be shared? Who are secrets really protecting? The person they are being kept from or the person keeping them?

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Hey Everyone!

Happy Mother's Day to all my Mummy readers (especially my Mummy - hi Mum)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the NT Writers' Festival Wordstorm program. The theme this year was the fabric of family. My favourite panel was the family recipe, a discussion about how those four authors incorporated food into their memoirs and how food helped them write about family. 

In the morning, I attended an editing workshop. Beth Yahp shared her editing skills wisdom with us, the process of reverse engineering a story and strengthening shaky foundations. She also described editing as walking in the snow without leaving footprints. The best thing I took away from the workshop was a new friend - it was a fantastic way to network and meet local writers who share my passion for words. 

Today I'm sipping coffee, eating chocolate (I hope they remembered to get me chocolate), cuddling my kids, calling my Mum and my Nanna, and praising scheduled blog posts that allow me to laze about on the couch reading while still appearing to be busy.

What are you doing on Mother's Day?

Mothers and Daughters
Four generations of girls
This was taken about five years ago
- the only time all four of us have been together

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Lad Lit Blog Tour

Hey Everyone!

What's Lad Lit I hear you say. Ok, I imagine you say, I'm not really hiding outside your window... We've heard of chick lit (that's what I'm currently working on) but what is lad lit? Here to tell you more is Steven Scaffardi, who is on tour with his latest lad lit novel, The Flood.

G’day fellow book lovers! It’s day 18 of the Lad Lit Blog Tour and I’m here in sunny Australia with Hey Said Renee. For the past two and half weeks I have been busy promoting my books and championing lad lit, but I’m worried people might be getting bored of hearing from me. So to change things up a bit, I interviewed chick lit fan and book reviewer Kell Smurthwaite, to get her take on lad lit…

Hi Kell, thank you for joining me for this interview to discuss everything lad lit as part of the Lad Lit Blog Tour. For readers who have never read lad lit before, how would you describe it?
That's a tough one, because Lad-Lit is such a wide-ranging genre that can incorporate anything from sci-fi to historical fiction to action, and everything in between. One thing that I do see recurring most often, though, is a darker sense of humour than Chick-Lit, which I love. I've also never really been a fan of romances, as I tend to find them a bit namby-pamby and very unrealistic, whereas, if there happens to be a bit of love interest in a Lad-Lit novel, there is that ever-present undercurrent of humour, and a little more realism, rather than idealism.

As a fan of both chick lit and lad lit, what do you think are the biggest differences and similarities between the two genres?
I think the way romantic encounters are portrayed are probably the biggest difference. As I mentioned before, there's that element of poking fun at the protagonist, and a more realistic approach to the foibles of the partners in Lad-Lit, whereas Chick-Lit often puts a soft focus on those scenes, painting a picture of the perfect man for the heroine. I live in an imperfect world, and I don't want an impossibly perfect image of a man – it kind of sets the standards too high for real life relationships, if you get what I mean! Lad-Lit definitely has the edge for me there. I guess I'd say the biggest similarity between the genres is the imperfection of the lead character. In Chick-Lit, you'll often have a ditzy girl who can't get her life together till she meets the right guy (I know, right? Since when was life made easier by love?), and Lad-Lit will often have a similarly clueless guy in the lead, often a bit of a Jack-the-lad, although, he doesn't always settle down when he finds the right girl. In fact, he usually screws it up in some way. I guess I prefer the complications involved there – far more realistic!

Who is your favourite lad lit author and why?
I love Nick Hornby! I recognise an awful lot of his leading men as being very like guys I know and have known in the past. I usually find them rather endearing, often because of, rather than in spite of, their idiosyncrasies.

What is the best lad lit book you've ever read?
I know it's probably a little clichéd to say it, but High Fidelity by Nick Hornby is one of my favourites. I think partially because of my own love of music, but largely because of how raw the emotions of Rob and Laura are portrayed. Their reactions to their relationship problems and life in general are very real and very, well, human. It's just a great book, full stop. Everyone should read it, male or female!

In your opinion, why has lad lit never hit the heights of chick lit?
The only reason I can think of could possibly be that reading has largely been seen as a more feminine pastime – although I know plenty of men who do read, I know far more women who do, and the reading men in my circle are heavily outnumbered by the non-readers. I love it when I see a guy reading. A man with a book in his hands is instantly infinitely more attractive to me – it shows he can engage his mind in a way to which I can personally relate. And let's face it, who doesn't love talking about their favourite books with other people?

If you had 20 seconds to convince someone why they should read lad lit what would you say?
People should just read, full stop! Seriously, pick up a book and start reading. It doesn't matter what genre, just read! And if you don't like the book you're reading, put it down and try a different one. There are so many great books out there, and if you don't enjoy reading, it's just because you haven't found the right book to light that fire in you that makes you want to keep going and read more. Find that book, and you'll never look back!

Steven Scaffardi is the author of the Sex, Love and Dating Disaster series. His first novel, The Drought, is the laugh-out-loud tale of one man's quest to overcome the throes of a sexual drought. After the stormy break-up with his girlfriend of three years, Dan Hilles is faced with the daunting task of throwing himself back into the life of a single man. With the help of his three best pals, Dan is desperate and determined to get his leg-over with hilarious consequences!

The Drought and his new novel The Flood – a comedy about one man trying to juggle four women at the same time – are both available for just 99c on the Kindle at Amazon.

Follow all of the fun on his blog tour by following him on Twitter @SteveScaffardi or by using the hashtag #LadLitBlogTour. More information about Steven and his books can be found on his blog.

The Flood by Steven Scaffardi

Lad Lit
One bet, four girls, eight weeks, multiple dates. What could possibly go wrong? 

Following his traumatic eight month dry spell, Dan Hilles is back in the driving seat and ready to put his dating disasters behind him.

But if only it were that simple.

After a drunken afternoon in the pub, fuelled by the confidence of alcohol, Dan makes a bet with his three best pals that will complicate his love-life more than ever when he brazenly declares that he could juggle multiple women all at the same time.

With just eight weeks to prove his point, Dan is about to find out how hard it is to date a flood of women without them all finding out about each other, especially when they come in the shape of an ex-girlfriend, a stalker, the office ice queen and the one that got away.

The Flood is the hilarious follow-up to The Drought by lad lit author Steven Scaffardi, chronicling the adventures of unlucky-in-love Dan Hilles. Available at Amazon and all good book retailers from March 2016.

Hey! Here's my review.

This story of the nice guy trying to be a bad boy had me laughing out loud on several occasions. This is the second book in the series and although I really enjoyed it without reading the first book, I think The Flood would have been even better if I'd read The Drought.

The style of writing reminded me of the self depreciating humour of a stand up comedian (probably because, as it turns out, the author is a stand up comedian). I enjoyed the insight into the inner workings of a man's mind. The eclectic collection of women he was attempting to date at the same time had me hurling advice Dan's way, then the ridiculous situations he ended up in had me saying "I told you so".

If you're looking for some fun escapism, grab both these books, then wait with bated breath for the next one. Please tell me there will be a next one!

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Any Way You Plan It by Monique McDonell *Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Monique McDonell, who is on tour with her latest novel, Any Way You Plan It. Here she is.

I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I am the author of five stand alone novels including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on an Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. In 2015 had a piece on writing chicklit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.

I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter where I run a boutique PR consultancy.

Connect with Monique via

Guest Post 
Why spelling is no longer my favourite/favorite thing.

When I started out writing novels and short stories I thought that the hardest part would be finishing the novel and maybe keeping the ideas alive long enough to sustain a full book. I was very, very wrong about that. It turns out there were lots of things I didn’t even consider that were going to be difficult.

For example keeping track of characters and their names and what colour/color their eyes are is quite tricky and when you write a series you need to know for every single book. Making sure your timelines are synched up is pretty hard when you write a non-linear story. And let’s not even get started on book formatting or marketing. Lots to worry about for a professional worrier like me (seriously I could worry for Australia I’m that good at it).

One of the things I was not worried about was spelling. No, that was not going to be a problem because I was already a writer. I have worked in PR since what feels like the beginning of time and is in fact nearly 30 years. I spend my days writing media releases, scripts and brochures. People got me to check their spelling. Spelling I had under control.

Then I published my first book Mr. Right and Other Mongrels via Amazon. Most of my readers, it turned out were American, and as far as they were concerned I couldn’t spell. It wasn’t just things like mum/mom that were different either or that a jumper is a type of dress over there. No it was far more complicated than that. You have no idea how many words are different until you find yourself having to check though 60,000 of them.

And what about my Australian readers? If I decided to use American spelling what happens to them? So I decided to use a caveat at the start of my novels explaining that I was using Australian English because the books were set in Australia. My American readers didn’t like it and I think the reason was there are so many words you just don’t realize/realise are different until, well you do.

When I wrote my novel Alphabet Dating it was actually set in New York, so even though the main character Serena was an Australian she was living in New York so I thought the spelling should be American. The caveat in that book says she uses some Australianisms like “mum” because she would. So that was a book with largely American spelling and a little bit of Australian thrown in

Confused yet? I am.

Fast forward to the Upper Crust Series. I have American editors now and all the spelling is American. Of course this doesn’t help my Australian readers and now when I write I honestly have no idea if the word is telling me a word is incorrect it’s because I’ve typed it wrong or I just have the wrong spelling.

So now I have books that are all traditional Australian spelling, all American spelling and hybrids.

What does this mean for me? I can no longer spell in any language, and even when I get a word right I’m never quite sure I have.

I guess I’m not heading off to The Great Australian Spelling Bee anytime soon, but I still think I might place in the Great Australian Worry-athon.

Any Way You Plan It by Monique McDonell

Mike warned Marissa back in high school that if they kissed, she’d never get over it. He was joking, but he was also right.

Ten years later and Marissa is well and truly stuck in Mike’s friend-zone and he’s made it very clear that’s where she’s staying. Her love-life isn’t the only part of her life that’s in a rut so when her elderly parents pack up and move South, Marissa admits it’s time to move on with her life.

With the encouragement of her friends Lucy and Cherie, the matchmaker, she updates her wardrobe and her attitude. Lucy’s engagement party is the perfect place to start fresh and find her old self again, the self that likes to dance until dawn. Mike wants Marissa to be happy and he’s convinced he’s not up to the job, but he doesn’t like watching her flirt with other men or worse, dating again. His twin brother, Todd, who is Marissa’s best friend warns him to back off, he’s had his chance.

Is this a case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone? And if so what is Mike prepared to do to get Marissa back with the whole town there to offer him advice.

Will Marissa and Mike get their happily ever after or is it a case of too little too late?

Any Way You Plan It is Book 4 in The Upper Crust Series
Book 1 – Any Way You Slice It
Book 2 – Any Way You Dream It
Book 3 – Any Way You Fight It.