Five Facts about A Fair Exchange

This month, Monique McDonell is the first author to reveal FIVE FACTS about her latest release (she is also offering prizes. Scroll down for details). During the FIVE FACTS month we’ll  be discovering facts about books that their author would rather not be known.


Over to Monique…

 
1. Just like the main character in my novel, A Fair Exchange, I was an exchange student in Massachusetts as a teenager.

2. Of all my novels this one had the longest gestation period.

3. I had lots of fun researching this book doing road trips in Australia and eating out at places in the book.

4. The character of Stacey in the book is an amalgam of a few of my friends when I live in America. (Stacey is a very American name and was not common in Australia in the 1980s and yet I had several American friends by that name – all my Australian friends were called Jennifer, Emma or Kylie).

5. Of all the male characters I’ve written Matt is my favourite so far. If I wasn’t happily married he’d be welcome on my door-step anytime!


A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
Amazon.AU
Amelia Armstrong is about to find out!


It’s just a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself, and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.

 Excerpt  

It was not as if he was the
first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment
had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise
empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said
“Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I
might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a
vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?
What amazed me was that the
Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
 Not that Nick had dumped me,
after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking
basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and
an enormous mortgage.
 No one even commented about
the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way
too much to me.
 No, they commented on the
Vespa.
 What I could not understand
though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue
commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing
sea of tears?
 How had this happened? How had
I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up
thirty-six and alone?
 Didn’t I used to have so much
potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?
 “Amelia Armstrong is something
special.”
 I was one of those shiny young
girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what
she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
 If I hadn’t been that kind of
a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl
would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen,
staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.
 So where was that girl right
now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so
horribly wrong?

About the author – Monique McDonell:


‘I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

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 have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight 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.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.’

Grumpy Wombat Tania McCartney…

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour
Children and Travel
by 
Tania McCartney

I
have a quiet obsession with travel. Of course, like most of us, I never do it
often enough but I still feel grateful to have devoured some large and
delicious slices of the world. One curious thing about travel is that its
beauty and life-changing experiences are only heightened and intensified
through sharing (a bit like slices of cake)… most especially when it comes to
children.
In
2005, our young family was posted for Beijing for four years. My children were
only aged two and four, and although I’d already lived and worked overseas, I
must admit, I was daunted about taking my babies to live in Asia. China had
always been an unknown entity to me – it had sort of slipped to the lower end
of a very long Must-Visit list – and this is why it surprised no one more than
me how quickly we stumbled and fell head-over-heels in love with this ancient
and diverse country.
We simply
adored our time in China, and it was truly some of the most enriching years of
my life, not to mention that of my children. Our life in the capital inspired
my very first children’s picture book – Riley
and the Sleeping Dragon: A journey around Beijing.
This book was originally
a ‘project’ I wanted to create as a memento for our life in Beijing, but it
soon grew into something more than that. After self-publishing and selling out
of two print runs in bookstores across China, I was surprised and delighted
when the book did so well upon our return home to Australia. Perhaps I
shouldn’t have been surprised – we are a nation of voyagers, after all.
For
me, travelling with children is a priceless way to hone a vital psychological
skillset in youngsters. Tolerance, understanding, openness, acceptance,
courage, curiosity, self-confidence, awareness, a hunger for adventure – these
are just some of the benefits of opening the world to kids.
My
children, Ella and Riley (now 11 and 8) have travelled to eight different
countries in their short years on earth, and never have I seen faster and
deeper development in my children than both during- and post-travel. From the
subconscious absorption of language and culture to the wide-eyed fascination of
life so different to their own, through the mind-boggling flavours, scents and
sounds experienced each time we voyage abroad… the educational and
soul-stretching benefits of travel cannot be underestimated.
 
I
have also noticed greater independence, less fear and more curiosity in my
children since taking them abroad – and, most unexpectedly, a deeper love of
both home and coming home. Travel most certainly instills a sense of self- and
national-pride in our kids, and allows them to [so vitally] see just how good
they have things here in Australia.
But
travelling overseas is not the only way to broaden your children through
travel. Voyaging interstate, to country towns or even to the other side of your
city are ways we can embrace the concept of travel in children. Setting out on
an adventure, whether it be to Paris or the local park, is not only exciting
and great fun, it enhances spatial awareness and learning, invites
problem-solving and planning, stretches mental and physical boundaries and –
importantly – allows that priceless (and increasingly rare) one-on-one time between
parent and child.
I
never expected to morph Riley and the
Sleeping Dragon
into a series of books. It sort of happened naturally,
especially when I witnessed the delight children experienced when reading the
book out loud – whether it was in recognition of their home town of Beijing,
revisiting the Beijing they once knew, or visiting Beijing for the very first
time through the pages of a book.
The
Riley series may be serious armchair travel in itself but it was important for
me to embrace and encourage cultural and traditional elements in each book, to
enhance the obvious visual elements. Not only can kids experience new places
through black and white photos, they can also learn more about the unique
idiosyncrasies of each destination in the Riley series through iconic words and
images, metaphors and of course – the local faunal element each book introduces
– a dragon for Beijing, a wombat for Melbourne, etc.
Not
all children have the opportunity to travel far and wide but I feel
passionately about offering every child the chance to travel through the pages
of a book. If my Riley series can ignite the barest flicker of interest in
foreign places… that will be enough for me.
As long
as children love to explore, the Riley series will continue. And if I have to
keep travelling to research each exciting new destination for Riley and his
travelling team of critters, then I guess that’s just what I’ll have to do.
Sigh. It’s a tough job. Paris, anyone?

For
more on Tania’s Riley series and other books, see www.taniamccartney.com and www.fordstreetpublishing.com.


Tania McCartney’s tour schedule can be found here 


Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey around MelbourneTania McCartney, illustrations by Kieron Pratt

Ford Street Publishing, A$22.95, hardcover          

Riley has discovered a wombat in his nanny’s garden. But why is this furry creature so grumpy? Join Riley and his friends from books one, two and three, as they zoom around the stunning sights of Melbourne in search of a wombat that simply needs a place to call home.

Featuring gorgeous black and white photos of Melbourne and surrounds, Riley and the Grumpy Wombat combines photos, illustrations, adorable characters, humour and an adventuresome storyline in a travelogue-style book that showcases Melbourne at its very best.

Tania McCartney is an author, editor, publisher and founder of well-respected children’s literature site, Kids Book Review. She is an experienced speaker, magazine and web writer, photographer and marshmallow gobbler. She is the author of the popular Riley the Little Aviator series of travelogue picture books, and is both published and self-published in children’s fiction and adult non-fiction. Tania lives in Canberra with a husband, two kidlets and a mountain of books.