Posted in Elephant Creek, Elephants, Writers, Writing tips

Grabbing readers with Chapter One

Today I reread Chapter One of Elephant Creek.

I must admit I’m liking what I have done. I hope you do too.

Chapter one

Over the weekend I finished a writing reference Write On! The Writer’s Help Book by Adrian Magson, a read I’d recommend to aspiring and established writers alike. This book reinforced the fundamentals of writing a story that grabs readers (among other things).

It is vital to continue to read writing references to improve your craft.

With a book vying for a readership, the blurb will hopefully gain interest, but when potential readers open the book to read the first couple of pages, they’ll be hooked like a fish on a line or fishtailing it across the ocean, not looking back.

The first chapter questions:

  • Does that first chapter have the reader wanting more?
  • Is it short and to the point?
  • Is it either introducing the main protagonist or setting up a theme?
  • Does it have the right pace?
  • Is their conflict, questions, danger, enticement, part revelations or emotions?

Let’s test it.

I’m going to show you my raw (remember I’m only four chapters into the story and will draft and edit many more times) first chapter of Elephant Creek. Let me know if you like it and if you would read further. I would love your opinion, dear reader.

First Chapter Elephant Creek

“Picture perfect, eh, girl?” Derick smiled, patting Sasha’s wide head as she sat on the worn passenger seat. With her tongue lolling towards the window breeze, she panted in doggy happiness.

The sound of the battered ute broke through the squawking flock of white cockatoos swooping above through the orange, pink, purple sky as the sun faded in the west. Colour reflected on the smooth waters of Currumbin Creek, flashing through the gum trees lining the road’s edge. A full moon had risen in the eastern sky casting light and shadows as a non-dark night descended.

“Don’t let on to Crystal I let you sit in her seat,” Derick said to the dog, chuckling to himself and watching the road. The tan Staffordshire Terrier turned, grinning her approval with a wide gummy-fanged smile.

Derick was a cautious driver. If anything he’d mostly driven under the speed limit. It was probably because he’d often had precious cargo with him; his wife, kid, the grandchild and his beloved dogs. Boss before Sasha and there’d probably be another after the old girl.

Placing his left hand on Sasha’s stomach tumour, a frown creased his mouth. Aged, rheumy eyes welled, making him wipe them with a curled finger. Seriously, he was becoming a sook in his old age. Well, he wasn’t exactly old, but he was turning 66 soon. It was a hell of a lot older than 26, but he didn’t feel much different, despite a few aches. He knew he should give up the cigarette’s too, but he had to have at least one vice.

Sasha let out a sharp bark. Derick took his eyes off the road for a second, glancing at the dog, seeing her nip towards a red dot of light on the dash. Yapping excitedly, she scraped her paws at it, trying to bite it with her teeth.

Derick slowed the car. Perplexed, he glanced up the road wondering about the light source. A blinding flash forced him to momentarily shut his eyes. Slamming his foot on the brake. The car skidded, veering to the side of the road. Blinded except for the violet light still burning under his eyelids, he lifted one arm to shield his eyes. With white knuckles, he gripped the steering wheel, trying to stay on the road he could no longer see.

Tyres screeched. Gravel crunched. The steering wheel spun out of his hands. Glass smashed. Metal ground. As the airbags slammed into his chest and face, Derick felt his lungs explode. The walls of the car closed in around him.

The last things he heard were Sasha’s high-pitched yelp and screams not coming from the squealing tyres.

A different start for a reason.

The chapter is unlike the starts to The Zanzibar Moon and Kendwa’s Secret, but don’t worry there will be steamy chapters early. This time though there is a more complicated plot that ties all three books together. Some of you may remember Derick from Kendwa’s Secret. I won’t spoil who he is for new readers (he’s a likeable guy who may play a bigger part). Ali will return too. And what of Jai? You’ll have to read it to find out.

The blurb for Elephant Creek

The sequel to The Zanzibar Moon brings all three books to a final enthralling, emotional conclusion.

Emma has a dilemma. Does she keep dating rock-star handsome Wade or pursue her crush on sexy, silent Toby, who doesn’t even seem interested in her anyway?

“Wade, the Tinder dater, will either swipe left or become a stalker,” warns her sister Jessy.

Emma and Toby clash over the details of Toby’s father’s car accident, but she only wants to help. To make matters worse she thinks there is a police conspiracy, but she can’t convince stubborn Toby. After one too many visits she discovers the old circus elephant living out its days on his family’s property. Toby warns her to never return.

Toby has enough problems without falling for delightful, spirited Emma. His young daughter, Hope has started mainstream school and he’s worried she’ll be bullied. After years of working a covert operation in North Queensland teaching the Defence Force how to avoid crocodiles, he discovers his nephew was in his hometown.

Furious that Emma’s sister has Kendwa’s son – will he take what’s rightfully his or leave the little boy to live with the family he clearly loves?

Ali can’t get over Toby’s resemblance to Kendwa and how little Jai is growing up with no fear of danger and the spitting image of both. But a little boy in suburban Queensland does not need an uncle with a shady past and temper.

When Hope is attacked at the local school, Jai shows his true family traits by sticking up for the little Down’s Syndrome girl even though there will be a price to pay.

Will Toby ever believe Emma’s version of events to bring his guard down long enough to let love back into his life and save his father’s reputation?

Who can any of them believe when every white lie turns into deception?

Elephant Creek by Donna Munro
The sample cover of Elephant Creek by Donna Munro


Posted in Kendwa's Secret, Marketing books, Publishing, Writers, Writing tips

Kendwa’s Secret Book Launch Oct 27 2018

A quick stroll with my dog, Mahli, showered in sunshine, smelling the star jasmine vine curling around my fence and the white blossoms of the budding gardenia, is a nice enough way to start any day. My Kendwa’s Secret book launch day began that way. Summer in the air, a breeze in my hair and an excited skip to my steps.

Kendwa's Secret Book Launch
Cheetah guarding the books at Donna Munro’s book launch.

You know what it’s like when you’re excited about an event but anxious at the same time, like bees are chasing the butterflies in your stomach? I didn’t want to get as nervous as I had been about my first book launch (The Zanzibar Moon), so my little break with nature helped calm and ground me. Last time I stressed over little details (particularly the speech). This launch I decided to enjoy my achievement with no expectations of the outcome. It didn’t matter how many books were sold or the amount of people who turned up. What did matter was sharing the arrival of Kendwa’s Secret with my loved ones. Together we celebrated another hurdle I’ve leaped over in my attempts to keep running the writing race.

Kendwa's Secret Book Launch
Ella, Donna, Mia and Colleen getting a book signed.
Kendwa's Secret
Ella, Donna, Helen Doyle.
Kendwa's Secret Book Launch
Ella, Donna, Leanne Scaysbrook and Kevin McManus.

Perfect weather was the first blessing. Books arrived in time (through the week). Bookmarks were beautifully printed by Inky Graphix (Brad and Vikki). The event coincided with my mum being available (sadly she missed my first book launch), the absolute reason for the chosen date. My vision of a stunningly laid out book-signing desk became a reality (see the pictures), thanks mostly to my suddenly blooming garden (jasmine draped my book stand, and gardenias dressed the table) and my array of bookish knickknacks. Later joined by a stuffed Cheetah (of The Zanzibar Moon fame). Thanks, my dear writing friend Katrina for that (see hillarious photos to follow).

Kendwa's Secret
Donna and Debbie Daley.
Kendwa's Secret
Donna and Donna Nicholls at signing table.
Kendwa's Secret.
Sue Ashby and Donna Munro signing a book behind the launch table.

My family and friends pitched in for (more than enough) delicious nibbles for the guests. Particular favourites were my mum, Valerie’s caramel slice, along with tuna bake by Karen and the jelly babies from Leanne. With two huge jars of Book Worms (sour jelly worms), it’s a wonder Bevil didn’t arrive with a belly ache as I had to top up the jars three times before we even got to the book launch.

Kendwa's Secret Book Launch
Bevil Munro, Donna and Angela Szpojda. Kendwa’s Secret book launch.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Donna with the book stand made with her mother’s art easel and blooming plants from Donna’s garden.
Kendwa's Secret book launch.
Donna and Bevil Munro at the book stand at Kendwa’s Secret book launch.

The Currumbin Eagles crew, Pat, Sharon, and Darren manned the bar ensuring guest had refreshments. Clicking away for the first time as a designated photographer, my friend Sue took the photos so we wouldn’t miss a moment of the memories. Bevil and Blake were quite happy to entertain the guests while I signed books and greeted people. Ella, once again, helped collect book money and drew the lucky door prize won by Maryanne. For some funny reason, Bevil (the non-book reader) has declared, “I love book launches.” Perhaps it was the beers, or maybe he loves seeing me happy. You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face with Photoshop!

Kendwa's Secret book launch
Proud speach. Daughter and mother; Donna Munro and Valerie Koenecke.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Darci, Colleen, Ella, Bevil, Blake, Donna, Valerie, Wilson, Karen, Ella and Brad – family. Unfortunately, the time of year the launch was held meant many family members are missing.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Proud husband Bevil and Donna with a copy of Kendwa’s Secret.

Microphone in hand, I made a quick, heartfelt speech explaining a little of my improvement as a writer throughout two books I hold dear to my heart; The Zanzibar Moon and Kendwa’s Secret. After thanking everyone I could think of, the speech was over before I even realised I had not planned a single word. It went better than my well-planned (stressed over) previous one. Phew!
Everyone mingled and talked, not just about books but all sorts of things. It was an eclectic crowd, old friends, newer friends, family, business people, readers and writers alike. Book launches are unlike other parties. People talk with openness brought about by the book themes and the idea of a creative life. Towards the end of the party guests took turns reading from Kendwa’s Secret (the steamy parts). Giggles all around. It was fun though I admitted, “It sounds corny when it’s read out aloud.” This was contradicted by, “Rubbish. I can’t wait to read it all now.”

Kendwa's Secret
Fellow writer Katrina MacDonald and Donna patting Cheetah.
Kendwa's Secret
Donna Nicholls and Conner Ashby.
Kendwa's Secret
Donna, Bevil and Leanne Scaysbrook.

Thank you, everyone, who attended and for the many books bought not just one for themselves but also for family and friends for Christmas and other gift occasions (you know who you are Paige, Katrina, Donna, Julie and Bec). To those who helped with any aspect of it or just turned up for moral support, thank you. To the people who bought books early helping me to fund the book launch, thank you too. Now the bookmarks are printed I’ll make sure you receive one.

Kendwa's Secret
Best book buyer Paige Burrage.
Kendwa's Secret
Bevil and Donna with Currumbin Eagles stalwarts Sharon and Darren Howe.
Kendwa's Secret
Leanne Scaysbrook, Kevin McManus and Bevil Munro.

When you have finished reading, please post a review to the review tab on my Facebook page and recommend the books to your avid reading friends. Spread the word and enjoy the magic and the secret.

Kendwa's Secret book launch
Bar staff volunteers Darren and Sharon Howe enjoying food from one of the platters.
Kendwa' Secret
Craig McGauley showing his Currumbin Eagles RLFC cooler.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Angie Szpjoda and Donna Munro with a copy of Kendwa’s Secret.

As for future readings! I think I’ll reconsider my thoughts on readings and possibly include them in the next book launch. I case you’re wondering, the next book in production is Elephant Creek, the sequel to The Zanzibar Moon. If you haven’t got a copy of the first two yet go to my BOOKSTORE and do yourself (or a loved one for Christmas) a favour.

The Zanzibar Moon
Donna and Donna Nicholls near the original poster from The Zanzibar Moon book launch.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Jerry and Jo Dokter enjoying Kendwa’s Secret book launch.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Paige Burrage and Donna later on the night of the book launch.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Bevil giving his wife a hug.
Katrina MacDonald and Donna Munro will be holding an Author Encounter together at Elanora Library in January.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Darren Howe giving Cheetah a lift.
Kendwa's Secret
Shannagains with the well-loved Cheetah.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Debbie Asselman, Donna, Val, Janet McMillan and Debbie Daley.
Kendwa's Secret book launch
Karen, Darci and Wilson Lane, Blake Munro (centre) and Leanne Scaysbrook.

Kendwa's Secret book launch

I hope you enjoyed the photos by amateur photographer Sue Ashby.

The book launch was held at Currumbin Eagles Rugby League Football Club in Currumbin Waters, Saturday October 27, 2018.