This musical Monday I thought I'd introduce you to some Australian Christmas music. It's all very well to sing about snowmen and white Christmases and fireplaces but here in the Southern Hemisphere we don't have Christmas like that.
It's hot. We go to the beach, do our Christmas carolling outside in parks and school playgrounds and we eat lunch outside swatting away flies and mosquitos. It's just a bit different from the Hallmark Channel version but no less lovely.
This first one is all about Santa and his sleigh except it's pulled by Kangaroo's, boomers to be exact and there is not a snowflake in sight.
This one is more a tale or dysfunction and regret and what happens when you yearn for family and friends because you can't get home for Christmas. It's also a song about how we long for tradition and familiarity.
How to Make Gravy by the wonderful Paul Kelly.
Hope these songs get your toes tapping and in the Christmas spirit this Monday.
Sometimes it has to be Christmas
I confess: I can be a bit of a Scrooge. When I was younger, I loved the idea of the magic of Christmas and the rest of the solstice holidays, but as I've gotten older it's become more of an indulgence in crass commercialism. "Buy this, and everyone will love you because they'll know how much you love them!" or "If you're a good citizen, you're going to buy a lot- the economy depends on you
But while I prefer to mark December 25th with the ancient traditions of my people (a movie and Chinese food), I'd have to be living in a hermetically sealed bubble without access to any other people not to notice that "the holidays" are an important part of everyone's lives, whether they like it or not. If nothing else, they focus the attention on people gathering together and making an effort to show their appreciation of those who are important to them. If that frequently takes the form of sweaters (worn with or without irony) and way too many baked goods, maybe that's not such a terrible thing.
Given that the first book in my series The New Pioneers is filled with college students in a famous college town, it would have been foolish not to have taken advantage of the drama that comes with Christmas. The break in classes, the scramble to travel, the young/new adults who are trying to establish new traditions, the return of important characters and, of course, the potential to meet friends of friends: it's pretty clear why many YA and NA writers would include at least one Christmas scene.
In The Smartest Girl in the Room
, Christmas is a time that my heroine Emily feels unrooted after saying goodbye to both her best friend and her new boyfriend and not having a home of her own to return to. She enters into an unfamiliar situation even though she's positive she'll be outclassed. Instead, she's introduced to a very important character with a surprising connection to some of her new- and old- friends. But clarity is postponed by the return of a prodigal son (or in this case, cousin)- and the "gift" Emily receives is to be rushed out before she can meet him.
This is a pivotal moment in my story, and if Christmas hadn't been available I could have worked it into, maybe, Spring Break. But while I would have had a very good reason for getting people out of town, getting important people back into town would have been harder to explain (unless people usually have a good reason to return to Boston in March or Spring that I don't know about). It also would have meant moving the entire timeline of my story around; instead of beginning in autumn, I would have had to have started in winter, and then I would have had to have changed some of the catalysts for my story. Doable? Yes. But ask any writer what happens to a story you have to massage one too many times.
So this year, instead of channeling my usual "Bah Humbug!", I'm going to wink just a little bit when December 25th rolls around- right after I leave a movie theater and head to my favorite Chinese restaurant.
-- About Deb and her writing.Deborah Nam-Krane came up with the kernel of The New Pioneers series when she was barely a teenager. It only took 27 years, but she’s finally ready to let the world read it. The Smartest Girl in the Room was released in late March of 2013 and The Family You Choose was released exactly six months later in September of 2013. The China Doll will be released (fingers crossed) by the end of December.The Smartest Girl in the Room
Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her? The Family You Choose
Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?
-- Please connect with Deborah Nam-Krane on any of the following sites: Join her mail list to find out first about new releases Written By Deb Amazon Author Page Smashwords Author Page Twitter Facebook Google+Goodreads
This is an amazing give-away for American readers who love chick lit and REAL PAPERBACKS.
You have a chance to win 29 wonderful books delivered to your very own front door. How exciting is that?? I would be beyond excited.(Of course I am not able to enter being one of the authors and living in Australia).
It's pretty simple to participate just follow these Rafflecopter instructions and you can have loads of chances to enter!!
You have to be in it to win it!
Just think what a wonderful Christmas present this would be for you (or if you have friends who loves to read you could always give the books away!)
It's funny how, when you sit down to ponder your own holiday experiences, you can be so overwhelmed by memories it becomes hard to decide what to write.
I consider myself a pretty lucky person because I have celebrated Christmas in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, I've celebrated Thanksgiving (Although 'm not American), I've been invited to Hanukah celebrations and I've even celebrated several Muslim holidays.
We all think the way we celebrate is "normal". Doesn't everyone have a White Christmas or Christmas on the beach, for example. We think our normal is the normal. Celebrating different holidays with different people shows you there is no such thing as normal.
Even better it shows you there are many, many ways to celebrate.
When I was a child Christmas looked like this. Wake up in the stinking heat (about 5am if you were me) and do presents with my immediate family, then head to Mass. Next stop family friends for drinks. By noon we were at my father's family for a long, lovely lunch with pudding, Christmas crackers with the bad paper hats, cheap toys and jokes and lots and lots of cousins. Back in the car and off to the next place for dinner, that was my mum's side. Repeat the lunch part fo the day, right down to the menu just add different relatives. Finally load into the car again and drive south from Sydney, through the Royal National Park to my grandparents beach house. Anyone exhausted yet?
One of my favourite Christmas memories as a kid is that my mother would let us have whatever we wanted for breakfast. My sister would choose chocolate custard. I varied my choice a bit - one year it was strawberries and another bacon and eggs. You have to admire someone who did that before the epic day laid out above.
As an adult my husband and I replicated this huge day trip model until our daughter was three. That was about ten years of married life. Our "best effort" included waking up at our beachside flat, driving to my parent's house in Sydney's North, lunch back in the Eastern Suburbs and dessert at my in-laws in a coastal town over four hours north of Sydney. (That was actually a really great Christmas even it might not sound like it!)
No wonder we ran out of steam! No wonder my favourite day of the year is Boxing Day. My Boxing Day looks like this. Wake up late and eat leftovers all day. Lay in the hammock, drink the leftover alcohol and read a book (My husband always gives me a new book for Christmas). Heaven!
Once we decided to do my family one year and the in-laws the next our Christmas has developed it's own rhythm. One Christmas, we were home for lunch because we had family dinner, I asked my daughter what she wanted for lunch. Her answer was party pies. So we had a platter that consisted of prawns, smoked salmon, cherries and party pies - it's still her favourite Christmas meal.
As a writer I love reading about how other people celebrate holidays and create their traditions which become their stories. That becomes their normal.
Well I am very happy to say that I have completed my NaNoWriMo novel with a few days up my sleeves (not that I have sleeves as it's kind of warm here in Sydney today).It's been a busy month in my corner of the world and so I feel particularly pleased that I managed to reach this goal this year. One of the reasons I enjoy the process of NaNoWriMo so much is that it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment at the pointy difficult end of the year.
(I didn't really crack open the Veuve last night though I did have a wine or two but I have so many Christmas gatherings lined up that I'm not worried that I won't get my fair share of champagne).
So onwards, time to get back to the business of being a writer. Writers in the modern age have to balance their desire and love of writing with their need to market and promote. This is true for all writers not just indies. I'm sure many of those writers you see on panels at festivals, signing books in shops or being interviewed would in fact rather be at their desk escaping into their own made up world.
As part of that promotion I have a couple of fun things happening in December.
1. I have lots of lovely authors stopping by with holiday posts and doing guest blogs, so make sure you keep an eye open for that.
2. I'm involved in this Coastal Romance Blog Hop if you want to stop by and win a $100 gift card and 26 e-books for Christmas this is your chance....you should visit the blogs of every author for more chances to win- many are doing their own give away as well!
Meanwhile don't forget that you can send people a gift of a book direct from Amazon this Christmas. My books are only $2.99 which makes them an inexpensive way to brighten someone's day. They're all available at my Amazon author page!!
So I haven't been blogging much this last week or so because life has been extra busy.
November, when I do NaNoWriMo is always hectic and something has to give, I suppose. In my case it has been the blog. (Oh yes and exercise and cleaning the house but that's Ok, I don't miss those things.)
I enjoy doing NaNoWriMo because it highlights how much time I waste in a normal week when I could be writing. Let's hope I can remember that in January....and February...someone feel free to remind me. I hate the middle of my NaNoWriMo novel but lucky for me I've pushed through and now I'm on the downward run...I do so love that march to a happy ending
I juts thought I'd remind you that Alphabet Dating is actually a book set in the month of November - one month, one girl, 26 dates....and even a Thanksgiving tragedy.
You might like to grab a copy if you haven't already read it. It's available here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHEVXG
Hopefully I'll be back on the blogging bandwagon again next week.
As part of the launch of Building Attraction I have had the lovely Jaidis at Juniper Grove Books help me arrange a blog blas/tour.
What that means is that Building Attraction will be featured on a number of wonderful blogs on November 14 & 15 (US time) and that you can visit them to go in the running to win an Amazon GC.
This is the list of all the wonderful bloggers who are hosting on the tour. I hope you stop by their blogs and support them.
Book bloggers do a wonderful job letting readers know about new releases and supporting authors so I urge you to support them. Take a look around their pages...you might find some other wonderful new authors to support yourself.Building Attraction
by Monique McDonell:
Link to your book blast page: http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/building-attraction-monique-mcdonell/
People often ask writers how much of their stories are based on their own lives. In my own case I've drawn on aspects in all my books because it is easier to write what you know. In some cases it's experiences I've had in others it is aspects of my personality.
For Building Attraction I honestly didn't think there was much of me in there at all when I wrote it. That's a funny thing actually. As an author you just write and then of course you have to draw people, scenes and settings from somewhere but a lot of what happens can be quite unplanned.
Then I went back to look at it with fresh eyes as I did the edits.
Have I worked in a PR consultancy very similar to the one in the book? Why yes, yes I have.
Does that boarding school resemble the school I attended, not that I was a boarder, complete with nuns that used to chase down the peeping toms? Why yes, yes I did.
So I guess I drew on more of my experiences than I might have imagined.
I've never been a rural girl working to save my farm. I've never been responsible for teenage siblings either but still, there are elements of me in this story as well. It's amazing what you discover when you read a book, even your own.
I'm launching Building Attraction this Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
That's exciting news isn't it? Well I think so- hence the big print.
Did you know that also happens to be a very big day in the Australian calendar - Melbourne Cup Day. If you don't know it's a very famous horse race - it's Australia's version of the Kentucky Derby. People have long, lunches, bet on the fillies and possibly have a champagne or two.
As you can see from the cover here is a horse or two in Building Attraction.
Here's the book blurb:
Hers has been a life of too many responsibilities and his has been a life of too few. Could the thing that initially repelled them from each other finally be the ultimate source of attraction?
Holly Adams has two jobs in the city, two petulant teenage sisters to support, a farm with a big mortgage and a terrible secret that propels her forward. Brad Winchester has a reputation for being a spoilt playboy who has abandoned his family business but he also has a secret that has finally brought him home.
When they are forced to together at work (Holly works at the cut-throat PR Consultancy that handles his family’s account Winchester Homes – They don’t build homes, they build dreams”) a series of misunderstandings has them at odds.
Still while working together they learn they have more in common than either might have imagined – common friends, family loyalty and dreams of something different. When life keeps pushing them in each other’s paths they must decide whether this is an attraction that might be worth building on after all.
Would you like to win a copy of Building Attraction and a prize?
There are two ways to win:
1. If you're a regular follower of my blog, my Facebook author page or on twitter this one isn't to hard (Hint: pretend it is my horse)... Guess what I named the horse in the novel? That's it. What is Holly's horse called? Tell me in the comments
section and which prize you would like with your e-book - a tote or a mug!
2. Choose your own name for the horse and I'll choose one at random. Tell me in the comments section and which prize you would like with your e-book - a tote or a mug!
Simple....leave a comment here on the BLOG...the prizes are an e-book and a mug or an e-book and a tote - you choose your prize.
Good luck and I hope you back a winner.