Oh what a month! (and winner of Helene’s giveaway)

Today is the final day of the financial year!! The hubby, mother and I are celebrating tonight because we have now been in our business (supermarket) for one whole financial year and we’re not yet bankrupt, so we must be doing something alright!! IT’s been a whirlwind year for me writing, but JUNE was the culmination of all that.

In June, my first print book JILTED hit the shelves down under and in NZ. So far I’ve been absolutely astounded by the fantastic reviews and thank all the reviewers out there who’ve taken the time to read JILTED and then blog or leave comments on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

I embarked on first interviews, first book talks and signings and despite being sick at some of these (damn those winter colds) I had a ball at all of these events. I’ve received my first ever reader emails and messages on FB this month and let me tell you, these are the absolute best! They put me on a high ALL day and make me more inspired to keep slogging away over the current ms.

I’ve got some good news I still have to sit on but can’t wait to share with you, so all in all June has been a ripper of a month! School holidays are almost upon us and while writing time will be limited during these weeks, I’m hoping to continue adding words to FAITH (working title of current ms)!

Aside from writing, not much happened in June, but I’m looking forward to a few days away with my family in July! We’re heading north to the part of WA where my current ms is set, so I’ll be taking some photos and sharing them here and on FB.

Now… I’ll stop rambling and announce the winner of Helene Young’s book – BURNING LIES! There was so many awesome comments on that post – read them here – that it was amazingly difficult to pick a winner, but in the end I couldn’t go past Jenn McLeod’s comment about her first flight alone last year. My heart just went out to you Jenn, so congrats and please email Helene at heleneyoung01 at gmail dot com to claim your prize!

Until next month. xox

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My Secret Life with Helene Young

I should probably reconsider renaming this segment because a lot of the things  the authors are sharing are not secret. One such thing is Helene Young’s love of flying! I’m stoked to have my friend and Penguin author Helene talking about what she does when she’s not writing. 

Welcome Helene! I had tingles reading about you pursuing your flying dream 🙂

‘I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…’

Rachael, thanks for having me on your blog to talk about my day job! When I’m not writing Romantic Suspense stories I’m busy flying Dash 8 aircraft for Australia’s largest regional airline. I’ve been flying for almost a quarter of a century now (yikes, but that makes me sound old and I’m sure I’m only twenty-one…). After all that time I still love every minute I spend in my office with its outstanding view.

Cairns from the air (or rather the view from my office)

As a child of the 60’s I was born at the start of the jet age of aviation in Australia. Those shiny new jets landed at Coolangatta airport, roaring over the top of our beach shack at Currumbin Beach. From the first moment I saw them I was hooked on flying.  My older brother and sister and I used to pile out the door to watch those amazing machines whistle over the roof as the house shook and rattled. I can’t watch the movie, The Castle, without having complete empathy with them!

By the time I finished high school I’d decided that flying might have to wait a while. I’d had too much fun at school to bother studying. In subjects like English I managed good marks. Maths and Physics were dismal…

It took me another six years, including three years in the UK, to grow up enough to work out that a dream is worth fighting for. Once I had that illuminating moment the rest became a matter of hard work and perseverance.

A Dash 8 aircraft quite similar to one I fly – this one’s at Brisbane airport.

The inside of a Dash 8 Flight Deck

I signed up for a full time flying course and then worked at night and weekends as a waitress to pay the bills. Most Saturdays were spent running wedding receptions in a gorgeous restaurant that did a wonderful job of making the day special. I’m not sure whether my romantic streak grew from that or whether it was the other way round!

Luckily for me when I finished training the flying school hired me as a brand new instructor and I then spent almost eight years teaching other people to fly. It was a great job that gave me opportunities to do charter work, dugong spotting, aerial survey, search and rescue work as well as flying training. No two days were ever the same and I worked with an amazing group of people. Many are still great friends today.

Eventually I made the decision to move to airline flying. My first posting was to Cairns and I flew a Twin Otter – an 18 seat aircraft – to places like Lizard Island, Dunk Island, Brampton Island and Great Keppel Island. Who knew I’d be paid to visit resorts every day!

I’ve been in the airline for fifteen years now and I’m a Check and Training Captain on a seventy-four seat aircraft, which means I train new First Officers as they join the company. I also conduct checks on our crews to ensure they’re up to standard. The life of a pilot involves a minimum of five checks a year and that can be pretty stressful. I hope I make those checks as painless as possible while making sure safety is paramount.

As a woman I’m still in a minority at work – industry wide about four to five percent of working pilots are women. Our company does better than that and the Cairns base where I predominantly fly has fifteen percent so some days I go to work and it’s an all female crew including the Flight Attendants! I still smile at the look of wide-eyed amazement on some of our passenger’s faces 🙂

I enjoy being able to combine my flying and my writing and so far all my books have some element of aviation in them. That will change with future stories, but for now I’m writing what I know and loving doing that as much as flying!

The memory of my first flight is still very vivid.  Do you still remember yours?  Was it a long haul flight to Europe? A joy flight? A trip from a regional town to the big smoke? How did you feel? Did you get dressed up for your big experience? Did you get airsick?

Rachael, if you don’t mind choosing the best answer, I’d love to send the funniest contributor a signed copy of Burning Lies, the last book in my Border Watch series.

Find me and more details of my books at : http://www.heleneyoung.com

Follow me on Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/HeleneYoungAustralianAuthor

Find me on twitter: @HeleneYoung

Thanks so much for that fascinating post Helene! I loved your first two books and can’t wait to get stuck into Burning Lies, of which here is the lovely cover and blurb.

Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband’s death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Ryan O’Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn’s world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.

With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.

Set in Australia’s tropical far north, this is an explosive story of peril and passion by the author voted by the Romance Writers of Australia as the most popular novelist of the year.

You can read an extract here.

In answer to your question Helene, the first flight I can remember (first was when I was 18months) was flying from Sydney to Perth as an unaccompanied minor. My Mum had moved to Perth two days earlier and I’d stayed with my grandparents while she got a few things sorted. It was VERY exciting and a little nerve-wracking. I sat next to a quite well known television personality and spilt my lemonade all over him. If I recall correctly, if wasn’t very impressed.

Don’t forget to share your own flight story to go in the running to win Helene’s awesome book 🙂 The contest closes midnight EST and the winner will be announced on Saturday!

What Makes a Cover? (cover chat part two)

Last week I promised a second blog post about my part in the cover-design process for my Carina Press novels, but first I just want to say THANK YOU to all the people who listened to me talk JILTED this weekend and especially those who were kind enough to buy a copy 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading about Flynn and Ellie’s dramas in Hope Junction!

Thanks to Raelene at Brookton Library, Lorreen at Kojonup Library and Deborah from Dymocks Albany for having me in your libraries/shop and to all the people who came – new friends and old! It was so much fun sharing my journey and talking to friends and readers. Can’t wait to do it again with the next book!

Now for the COVER stuff.

As I mentioned before, as an author, I have precious little to do with the design of my covers. Not sure if this changes if I become massively successful (hey, I can dream?) but I’m not sure I’d want it to. So far my two publishers have done a splendid job with my covers! But for my Carina novels, I’m asked to fill in a cover sheet.

Last week, I did this for STAND-IN STAR, which will be released on New Years’ Day next year.

I’m asked to comment on my characters. And can offer images if I like. Here’s what I had to say about Holly and Nate:

HOLLY MCCARTNEY

Titian coloured hair, lilac  eyes, curvaceous figure. Feisty, but not very self-confident, doesn’t feel she’s attractive.

NATE DEVLIN

I have a GORGEOUS picture of him, shirtless and lying on his stomach in BED mind you with a glass of red, but unfortunately I don’t know where I got it and the computer won’t let me copy and paste or save from my word doc. I’m VERY sad, cos you all deserve to see how GORGEOUS he is.

But this is what I said about him – Tall, tanned, muscular, with dark curly hair. A bad boy with a past he’s not proud of.

Then, I had to include any visual elements (objects or places) that have significance in the book. I said Nate’s camera, which is HUGELY important to him and plays a significant part in bringing him and Holly together.

Next I had to write a short synopsis – one to two paragraphs. EEK. Here’s what I came up with:

When Aussie cultural anthropologist goes to Hollywood to accept the posthumus Academy Award of her estranged sister Daisy, she’s ill-prepared for the attention of the paparazzi, never mind one particularly appealing ex-papparazzo who just happens to be her sister’s best friend. When Nate Devlin rescues her from a scrape with the media, twice, and offers her his place as a safe house, she doesn’t want to accept but doesn’t feel she has any other choice.

 Determined to keep out of each other’s way, Holly and Nate soon find this is impossible. Not only is tension high due to their differing feelings for Daisy, but both are forced to face the strong, crazy attraction between them. When they finally embark on a steamy night together, neither are expecting the emotions that unravel between them. What was meant to be a quick fling, might just become the passion of a lifetime. 

It’s a bit wordy- writing blurbs is not my thing – but hopefully it’ll give the team at Carina something to work with.

The final request was an elevator pitch. Here’s mine for STAND-IN STAR:

Stand-in Star is a fish out of water story about Holly McCartney who goes to Hollywood to collect her estraged sister’s posthumus Academy Award. The last thing she expects to do is fall in love with her sister’s bad boy friend, ex-papparazzo Nate Devlin. But fall she does into a world of hot sex and scary emotions.

All these questions, including a few simple ones about story setting and tone were asked of me so that the cover design team can come up with a fitting and marketable cover for my book. I think it’ll be a few months before I see that cover but I’m sure it’ll be fab and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Don’t judge a book by…

It’s cover of course!!

I got my cover art sheet for STAND-IN STAR (my next Carina Press release, scheduled for 1/1/13) this week and it got me thinking that maybe there might be some people out there who’d like to read about the cover experiences I’ve had for my books. When I do talks or simply chat about my book to friends or customers in our shop, I’m asked a lot about the cover!

  • Do I know the lady on the front?
  • Did I design the cover myself?
  • How much input did I get?

The answers:  I have no idea who the woman on the front is and I didn’t get any say in the design process.

They are usually HUGELY surprised when I say that for JILTED, I didn’t see the cover until it was FINAL! Within seconds of my publisher sending it to me, I’d forwarded it onto my best writing buddies so they could SQUEE over it with me. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve been blessed by the cover fairies with two fabulous covers – here’s hoping the good luck continues.

I guess because I’ve been pursuing publication for a long time, I’ve learnt a fair bit about the industry and come to accept that things like covers are not the author’s domain. I’m more than happy to trust my publishers to choose the right cover for my book!

With my Carina Press books however, I do have input so far in as I have to fill in an Art Cover-Sheet with info about how I see the tone of my book, characters, etc. For anyone interested, I’ll come back and talk more about this process tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have to know… What do YOU like to see on a cover?! What makes you pick up a book straight away? What turns you off?

Stressing and Strange Things

So, I have one and a half kids sick at the moment (the first throat and gastro and the second a bit of a cough), and last night I was putting clean sheets on the first one’s bed when I glanced at the shelf in their room and saw this random cat (kitten really) sitting there looking at me. It meowed at me and for a second I was seriously confused because it was almost identical to our cat except smaller. Anyway, when I realised it wasn’t our cat, Simba, I called (quietly) to my hubby and I tried to stroke the cat.

Now, despite this cat talking to me, it was not at all  happy when I tried to touch it. It jumped up, claws out, fur stood on edge and tore out the room, skidding through legs of two naked children just out the bath, through the house and out our cat door, where our dog just happened to be sitting on the other side. Our dog is what you’d call quite large – he’s a gorgeous Old English Sheepdog and he totally freaked at this psycho ball of fluff jumping over him. It was quite a sight to watch!

It might have been one of those had to be there moments but it was seriously funny. My two youngest and I had been in the house ALL day and hadn’t noticed this cat venture in. Who knows if we’ll see it again.

So that was the strange.

The stressing is more writing related. I have a book tour your this weekend (visiting three country towns), which I’m REALLY looking forward too, and I’m SO scared I’m gonna catch one of the lurgys going around and be unable to go. So please, cross all your fingers and toes for me.

So far I’ve only done a couple of book talks/signings but they were an absolute blast. I’ve LOVED talking to readers who seem almost as excited by my book as I am. Same goes for the  emails and messages on my Facebook page, which I’ve been getting. These are the absolute best and make all the stresses while I’m writing a book and wondering if it’s going to all come together right worth it. So THANK YOU to everyone who has so far taken the time to write a review or send me a message of THANKS! You ROCK!!!

Guess who’s smooching?

I’m stoked to be the feature author on this week’s Sunday Smooch on the fabulous Lovecats blog.

Come on over, read the extract from JILTED of Flynn and Ellie’s first kiss, leave a comment and you go in the draw to win a signed copy. Even if you’ve already got the book (and thank you if you do), why not enter the contest and give the book as a present!?

Hope to see you there!

And Happy Sunday.

x
Rach!

The Lucky Seven – Man Drought

My lovely fellow RWAus member, Twitter and Facebook friend  Efthalia Pegios has tagged me in the “The Lucky Seven” blog challenge.

The challenge. Post seven lines from an unpublished work of fiction. I’ve chosen to post from MAN DROUGHT, which I hope to have good news about for you soon 🙂 In this scene, the hero’s grandfather is trying to convince the heroine that the hero isn’t all bad!

The Golden Rules:

  •  Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (fiction or non-fiction)
  •  Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
  •  Tag 7 other authors to do the same

Extract – MAN DROUGHT – p.g. 77 line 7.

All of whom appeared to be kind-hearted, fun, hard-working and although maybe not quite as jolt-your-insides-good-looking as Gibson, certainly smiled more. She liked smiling.

‘Good. I’m glad.’ Charlie entered the storeroom behind her and put his pile on a shelf. ‘But I still want to explain. He’s my family and I wouldn’t want you to think we raise them grumpy and rude in the Black clan.’

‘He hasn’t been rude exactly,’ Imogen began, hoping to prove she didn’t need any big revelations, ‘more quiet and reserved.’ Hah!

© 2012, Rachael Johns

And the seven lucky nominees are –

Becca J Heath
Jackie Asheden
Joanne Dannon
Scarlet Wilson
Leah Ashton
Cathryn Hein
Fiona Palmer

Don’t forget to post it in my comments then on your own blog with your seven lucky choices.

Spilling Secrets With Ruthie Knox


I’m delighted to have Avon authoRuthie Knox with me today, talking about her new book About Last Night. I was privileged enough to read an advance copy of this book and it’s such a gorgeous, cute read. Was even more delighted with Ruthie agreed to answer a few questions about it…

Here’s the blurb:

About Last Night, coming from Loveswept (Random House), June 11, 2012!

 Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.

 Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

 Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine — even her name turns him on — with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

 When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

Welcome Ruthie.

Rach –  I loved the premise of the h&H seeing each other every day on the train and especially liked how Cath had nicknamed all the people she frequently traveled with. How did you come up with this idea? And, have you ever lusted after a fellow commuter?

Ruthie – Thanks! This is one of those art-imitating-life things. I lived in London for nine months back in 2001–2001, when I was doing research for my dissertation. I spent a ton of time on trains, commuting back and forth between my flat and various archives. Since I didn’t have any friends, and since I’m an inveterate people-watcher, I did a lot of observing, and I wrote a lot in a journal about what it was like living in London, what I was thinking and feeling, and what I observed. I don’t remember lusting after any specific fellow commuters (though I certainly wouldn’t put it past me), but I definitely saw my fair share of good-looking, suit-wearing Englishmen on my commutes into the city.

When I first conceived of Cath, I imagined her as a lonely expatriate, too. But because she’s a heroine, I made her both worse off and better off than myself. I saddled her with a great deal of life trauma, but I rewarded her with Nev. Poor Cath—but also, lucky Cath!

Rach – Like my June release JILTED, your book deals with some pretty heavy secrets. Did you set out to write a book about secrets or did you start with the characters and then discover the secrets?

Ruthie – The secrets just sort of happened, and they gave me fits! About Last Night was only the second full manuscript I ever wrote, and I didn’t know what I was getting into, writing a heroine with such heavy emotional baggage. I didn’t even know what Cath’s baggage was, at first. I just knew who she was and how she met the hero. In my first draft of the book, which I wrote in a two- or three-week frenzy, I don’t think I’d even figured out Cath’s full backstory until about 80 percent of the way through the book, when she and Nev had a big, poorly-thought-out argument. It didn’t work at all!

Luckily, I was exchanging work with my lovely friend Faye Robertson at the time (who also writes as Serenity Woods), and Faye was also in the middle of writing a novel about a difficult, secret-keeping heroine and her affair with a caring, understanding, patient man. So it was easier for me to see what wasn’t working in Faye’s book than in my own, and vice versa. I rewrote About Last Night completely from scratch, with a much clearer understanding of both my characters, and I like to think it came out better the second time.

Rach – Without giving too much away, I found the heroine’s tattoos fascinating and loved how you brought them into the HEA! Do you have a tattoo? If so, does it have meaning like Cath’s tattoos and if not, what would you get if you did get one?

Ruthie – Thank you! I do have a tattoo, of the tramp stamp variety (though, in my defense, nobody was calling them that at the time I got it), but it’s my own design, and it has meaning for me. It’s not like Cath’s tattoos, though, which are a record of her mistakes and a reminder to herself not to make anymore. My tattoo is very cheerful, see?

 

Rach –  Nev isn’t a traditional romance hero – from his career (banker) to his name (Neville) and his hobby (painting). Did you create an almost anti-hero on purpose?

Ruthie – Sort of yes, sort of no. I think I just wrote the sort of Englishman I would fall for in one millionth of a second, should it have happened that he whisked me home from the train station and made me a bacon sandwich, and then I realized later that he was a bit…unusual. I did know that the name Neville was likely to make people’s lips curl, which is why I nicknamed him “Nev,” but I couldn’t resist it. Elizabeth Jane Howard has this wonderful series of books set in England in the 1930s–60s, about this big family, the Cazalets, who live in the countryside near London. One of the youngest boys in the first novel is named Neville, which I remember thinking was a perfectly horrible name for a perfectly horrible boy. But over the course of the series he really grew on me, and I ended up being very fond of him, which made me very fond of the name. I think when I named my hero “Neville,” I secretly wanted to do the same thing to as many readers as possible. Like, Ha! Now that he’s made your loins explode with lust, then prompted tears of happy romantic mushiness, you can never hate his name again.

Basically, I was just being evil.

Rach – haha, I’m ALL for evil 🙂   I’d say ABOUT LAST NIGHT is almost an opposites attract story? Can you tell us some of your other favourite romance tropes?!

Ruthie – Yes, this is definitely an opposites attract tale — kind of a bad-girl, good-boy story, though of course it’s never quite so simple as that, is it? I also love friends-to-lovers, marriage in trouble, road trip, boy next door, fling / one-night stand, reunion romance, anything with cowboys or tanned farmers (which is why Jilted won me over immediately) . . . pretty much all of them, except I’m iffy on revenge plots, protector plots, and secret babies. Though I can be won over.

Rach –  And finally, any big secrets YOU’D like to share? I promise we’re all good at keeping our mouths shut here!

Ruthie – Oh, yes, I’m sure you are! 😉 Well, I don’t know that it’s a secret, but I did sign contracts the other day for my next two books with Loveswept, a pair of single-title length romances that will be coming out in 2013. I’ve also accepted an offer on a novella, have two other novellas planned and one written, and I’m plotting out the sequel to Ride with Me in my head. So lots of excitement on tap!

Thanks for having me to visit, Rachael!

You are absolutely WELCOME Ruthie! Now folks, you can buy ABOUT LAST NIGHT online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and many more fabulous stores. Check out Ruthie online at her website, Twitter and Facebook

JILTED on Harlequin TV

Forgive me if you’ve already seen this video through my Tweets or on Facebook, but my fabulous publishers Harlequin Australia have featured JILTED on this month’s Harlequin TV. They say some absolutely fabulous things and even talk about who might play the character of Flynn Quartermaine in the movie. Haha!! A girl can dream, right?

Check out the video here and then if you’ve already read JILTED, please tell me who YOU think should play Ellie and Flynn should there ever be a movie 🙂

AND fab blogger RLA Everyday The Same asked me today if she could buy JILTED outside Australia and NZ. I didn’t think so, unless you ordered from an Aussie site and paid the postage, but she discovered that you can buy the ebook through Harlequin Australia. So if you’re one of the fabulously supportive overseas readers, you can buy Jilted here!

Why Monique McDonnell wrote about dogs!

Today I have a guest on my blog and I’m also appearing on her blog. My fabulous guest is the delightful Monique McDonnell who has just released MR RIGHT AND OTHER MONGRELS! I’ve downloaded this book to my Kindle and can’t wait to get to it. Not only is the title simple gorgeous, and the cover, but the dog on the front is an Old English Sheepdog, exactly like our dog Rodger. So I asked Monique to talk about that dog and why she wrote about them…

Welcome Monique!

Mr Right and Other Mongrels has a variety of key characters that I love the main ones being Allegra Johnson, who runs a second-hand bookshop near Manly Beach and her potential love interest Teddy Green, Australia’s favourite garden make-guru. They are brought together by a mischievous Old English sheepdog called Muffin who appears quite prominently on the book’s cover.

When I was writing this book I knew straight away that Allegra would be scared of dogs or more precisely have a full-blown dog-phobia. I myself suffer from this affliction and it a rather hard one to deal with in social situations. I wanted to use the characters, and a very likeable dog, to show how difficult this can be for someone who deals with this in day to day life.

Lots of people suffer from phobias. It’s pretty common. If you say you are scared of spiders or snakes or heights or even birds and people are pretty accepting of that. Usually they offer support and sympathy “Oh yes I don’t like spiders either!”

That’s not the case with dogs. People often take your dog phobia quite personally because they love their dog very much and honestly can’t understand why you don’t as well. Of course it’s not personal at all, it’s a phobia and you can’t help it, in fact you’d really rather not be scared of their dog at all but that’s a message that’s hard to get through.

So I wanted the dog in Mr Right and Other Mongrels to be a breed that people universally like, don’t find scary and respond to with a big “awww” when they see them.

Old English sheepdogs are beautiful and furry and they do have sweet faces but they are also big and can knock you down and for someone with a phobia the mere idea of that is enough to cause panic. However you don’t gain much sympathy from passers-by who see these dogs and loveable cuddly soft toys and that I guess is the point. (Having been chased home from the station after school many times by both an Old English sheepdog and a scary German shepherd respectively I can assure you the breed of dog does affect people’s reactions when you plead for assistance.)

Muffin is a lovely dog and maybe he can help Allegra deal with her dog phobia if given time, or maybe not. How Teddy deals with Allegra and her dog-issues is a big part of how their relationship develops.

(Despite my phobia my own daughter is absolutely dog crazy and I now live in a house with a dog called Skip. I still can’t walk Skip or be near other unleashed dogs but owning a dog at all – I consider that big progress!)

Thanks so much for sharing Monique, that was fascinating and I can assure you quite a few people are a little scared of our massive dog but really he’s a total teddy bear.

You can read the blurb for Monique’s new book below. MR RIGHT AND OTHER MONGRELS is available now on Amazon!

Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough?

When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!

Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.

Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much? Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.

You can find Monique on Twitter, Facebook and her website.