There be good reviews, and there be bad – Jonathan K Benton

reviewsThere be good reviews, and there be bad, as the pirates would say. A critical review from someone who didn’t like your work is still a good review – carefully considered criticism can be extremely useful. I learn from some of the criticisms levelled at my own work. People must be allowed to have opinions, including whether they like, or dislike, a novel. The nasty reviews from people, who think abuse is some kind of intelligent criticism, are wasting everybody’s time. They reveal more about the reviewer’s character (or lack of) than the book itself.

I’m deep into my next book, using the five P’s to make sure my writing is improving, so it was a nice surprise to receive an email from my publisher advising me that an Amazon top 500 reviewer had read and reviewed A Wicked Kind of Dark (published by Odyssey Books 2013). Pop Bop has a way with words – I enjoyed reading the review for this reason alone. It was also nice to know that someone with such great command of the English language enjoyed reading my book.

So … A big thanks to Pop Bop and all those people who take the time to read and write carefully considered reviews. We authors appreciate it.

Jonathan K Benton

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I’m scared – Jonathan K Benton

bad worldIt’s not me for whom I’m scared. It’s my boys. I must believe there’s more good than bad in this world, but sometimes, jeez, it’s hard. Beautiful Alison was murdered by her husband: the media thinks it’s okay to splash his sordid past all over the papers and television so that Alison’s daughters cannot hide from the kind of man their father was. Lock him up. Forget about him. His daughters won’t. They’ll be scarred for life. Let them come to terms with what happened without having to hear it from their peers at school – inevitable now that the media have dragged out every last detail.

A terrorist thinks it’s okay to shoot down a civilian plane full of innocent men, women and children. Lunatics strap bombs to themselves and governments on all sides call blowing up children ‘collateral damage’. Economists are slowly coming to the conclusion that the widening gap between rich and poor is causing increasing instability spurred on by over-population, and climatologists have come to a consensus that climate change is a serious issue. No one listens. Not enough, anyway.

I know there’s beauty in the world. I hear it in a child’s laugh; I see it in their shining faces. Is it unrealistic to believe we can deliver them a safer world than this one? Are we big enough, are we strong enough?  Simply put, are we good enough?

Jonathan K Benton

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Queen, writing and a kind of magic – Jonathan K Benton

queenI was watching a documentary about Queen and realised that parallels can be drawn between a super group and a great book. Each member of Queen brought their own unique elements to the mix, that when combined, clicked to make extraordinary music.

A great book is a successful combination of elements too: Plot, Theme, Structure , Voice and Character. Think of these things as members of a super group. If you can successfully meld them into a novel, you’ll make ‘A Kind of Magic’ too.

Jonathan K Benton

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I’m feeling inspired – Roger Federer

federerRoger Federer inspires me. I admire Nadal’s snarling ferocity and Djokovic’s quirky athleticism and sense of humour. Both these players are great ambassadors of the game. But Roger Federer transcends tennis with his magnificent behaviour on and off the court. Give him a light sabre instead of a racket and he’d make the perfect Jedi. It might be because I love the arts.  I remember watching the Paris Opera Ballet perform Swan Lake in Sydney – the principal dancer playing Princess Odette pirouetted onto stage and took my breath away. I’d only seen one other person in possession of that kind of balance and perfect poise. Roger Federer. At his exquisite best, he’s unstoppable. Approaching 33 years old – an age when many players have retired – he is still one of the best players in the world. That’s how good he is. I love those slow-motion shots showing Federer’s eyes never leaving the spot where his racket hits the ball. His face is serenely still: there’s no snarl or grimace – regular features on other players’ faces. He’s the only player whom regularly conjures this much emotion from the grandstands. Win or lose tomorrow, thank you Roger.

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Two more P’s and a progress update – Jonathan K Benton

writing updateHalfway through the year, and I’m about to start writing the climax to my new novel. It’s Part One of a young adult fantasy trilogy and should be finished by January 2014. I’ve spent the last nine months polishing the rest of it. It has taken me two years to write, so far.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the three P’s being the three keys to getting published. There are a couple of other P’s that deserve a mention, so I have updated the post to the ‘Five P’s – I promise no more P’s!


Jonathan K Benton

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Someone inspired me and my thought for the week – Jonathan K Benton

a better worldI’ haven’t got much to say this week but I will say this …

There’s nothing more true than ‘actions speak louder than words’. Here’s one remarkable individual moved into action by the hurt and injustice she has seen. Inspiring, Ngaire. I’ll be donating.

And I’ll also say this …

Clean water, healthy food, a safe place to call home. The same level of health care and education for everyone. No more prejudice. I wish I had a magic wand.

Jonathan K Benton


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The five P’s are the five keys to getting published – Jonathan K Benton


I believe authors write because they have to. They cannot stop that fountain of words bubbling up inside them. Some writers might dream of fortune and glory, but these fantasies play second fiddle to a passionate desire to express themselves using the written word. Authors cannot not write.


Writing is a craft and authors need to grow their abilities. I’m a better author now than I was last year and I’ll be even stronger next year. I’m published, and my first book received great reviews in some big papers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. There is. I’ve found a wonderful mentor and I’ll continue developing the craft.

My point is: practise undoubtedly makes perfect, no matter what stage of your writing career this blog finds you at.


This is by far the most important of the three P’s. Without it, your manuscript will likely never make it out of the dreaded slush pile. Perseverance isn’t just about repeating the same thing. Remember: it’s often your third or fourth manuscript that snags that illusive publishing contract. Persevere with practising – find a writers’ group and share ideas. Persevere with writing – try to finish the manuscript even if it feels like it’s going nowhere. Writing begets writing. Immerse yourself in your stories and never give up. It can take years – it can take a lifetime.


There are many levels to this one: Scheduling times to write throughout the week; planning what to write about during these times; fleshing out characters to make them real enough to drive the plot forward. I’ve said this before – I think it’s extremely useful to bounce ideas off another writer throughout the drafting process. I regret not having done it with my first book. I’ve found a new mentor and she’s brought a whole other dimension to my writing. Planning is all this, and so much more.


Don’t submit your novel until it’s ready. Don’t take shortcuts. Unpack those lazy sentences. Get the manuscript reviewed by an expert before you shop it around. Put it in a drawer for a month. Then read it again. You’ll be surprised how many improvements you’ll find. Patience will save you time in the long run.

Which brings us full circle. Passion. If you truly love creating stories: that in itself should fill most of the gap. Writers tend to be idealists. I am.

Jonathan K Benton

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I wish I was a superhero. Then perhaps … Jonathan K Benton

good badRage – I experienced it yesterday morning before work. I logged onto the Internet to skim through the news. A judge sentenced a thug to nine years in jail for viciously assaulting a refugee who had arrived in Australia seeking a better life. The assault had been caught on CCTV, which had been linked into the article. I watched a soulless thug savagely mug an innocent person. Extremely confronting. The thug’s accomplice loitered at the end of the alley making sure there were no witnesses. My heart goes out to the victim – I hope his future is filled with happiness, peace and love.

I want to believe life is beautiful. It can be, but for a lot of people it’s not. This was just another example of the empty scumbags with whom we share the planet. I make no apologies for believing that if someone is capable of such a ruthless crime, then they are undeserving and in most cases incapable, of rehabilitation. Murder, assault and sexual offences stay with the victim forever, lest we forget.

The CCTV footage served notice to me. Pink Floyd summed it up perfectly in this song … Don’t turn away. The more we support the victims of these crimes, and the more bullies, thugs and sexual predators we remove from society, the better off we will be.

Jonathan K Benton



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Saturday Night Fever – Jonathan K Benton

GROVER-Saturday-Night-FeverI always have good intentions surrounding my blog. Big ideas. Global peace and the betterment of humankind. Then Saturday rocks around and I’m staring at an empty page.

Thank goodness for Saturday night television and the plethora of movies that I’d already seen. I picked one of the greatest movies this side of 2000 AD and used the ads to channel surf the other six.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Great special FX could not save this one.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I think it’s the best of the series.

Men in Black 2. It’s fun, but suffers from the same spit and polish issues as most sequels (Terminator 2 and The Empire Strikes Back are rare examples of sequels improving their respective stories).

Six Days and Seven Nights. No comment.

New Years Eve. It’s nice, but it’s no Love Actually.

Miami Vice. Hmmm.

When the ads finished, I returned to the truly great film. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. I give it a Wow rating. Yep – it’s that good. Brilliant scripting; it’s quirky and original, and superbly acted. I loved spending Saturday night with Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers and thank them for inspiring this blog.

Let me know a movie that you think deserves a Wow rating (or even a Terrifying rating based on my unique system) and I’ll watch it.

Jonathan K Benton

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Balancing the budget – Jonathan K Benton

budgetBalancing the budget is important. I’m not an economist but it makes sense. On a micro level, if my own household cannot balance its books it would sink. Here’s the problem, though. The median income in Australia is around 58k (the average income is skewed to approximately 75k because of the hefty salaries earned by Australia’s wealthiest citizens). The population is growing – it’s incorrect to think that if the economy (under its current model) grows the whole country benefits. The reality is that the median wage is not rising anywhere near as fast as the cost of living, as prices are increased to grow profit.

For example: the cost to use the trains in Brisbane has risen by at least 22.5 per cent in the last 2 years. Power has risen by over 20 percent too. Petrol will likely rise more than it normally would in light of the new federal budget, and do not dismiss the effect $7.00 per person per visit to the doctors will have on a family budget that is already squeezed tight.

I’ve seen no evidence from either of Australia’s two major political parties to suggest they can solve the real problem, which I have already outlined on an emotional level in a previous blog.

 There’s a lot to be grateful for in Australia. It’s a beautiful democratic country alive with culture and brimming with talent. Pure socialism works in a kibbutz, but not at a national level where large administrations sick with self-preservation and greed suck up money and resources that should be for the people. Nobody wants to experience communism. Some bright spark – someone a lot smarter than me – needs to create a new sustainable evolutionary economic model that encourages entrepreneurial talent and yet does not forget the median, or the needy. I believe we need to change our perception of ‘reward’ and truly transform (at an emotional level) how we perceive ‘status’, while not losing some of the core values, like freedom of choice, that underpin our society.

Signing off

Jonathan K Benton

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