There’s not enough time but there's always time for a writing tip – Jonathan K Benton

writing tip and updateI’m approaching the end of my new manuscript and I’m really excited. This book has been a collaborative effort – I’ve realised that you don’t have to write solo. My mentor’s contribution has been immense and I’m kind of hoping she’ll continue to work with me as my writing grows. I don’t think the manuscript will be ready until February but I can taste the final sentence. It’s not far off.

Which is the reason I haven’t blogged for the last two weeks. My apologies. It also explains why this week’s blog is short and sweet. My manuscript consumes me at the moment. Yesterday I managed to squeeze in a course at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival held by the energetic, witty and intelligent Lenny Bartulin – I was so impressed by him I raced out and bought one of his books. Infamy is the next book on my reading pile, behind Anna Dressed in Blood.

Here’s something I learned at the course – six questions you need to ask yourself when starting to write a novel. I can’t read my scrawling notes so I apologise if I am misquoting the source – I believes it’s Robert Mckee.

  • Who are the characters?
  • What do they want (desire – in its myriad forms – moves the story forward)?
  • Why do they want it?
  • How do they go about getting it?
  • What stops them?
  • What are the consequences?


Jonathan K Benton

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

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

Queensland’s largest newspaper The Courier-Mail reviews A Wicked Kind of Dark


Courier Mail 1I truly love it here in Queensland. The support given to me by the people of this justifiably proud and beautiful State has been overwhelming. Councillor for the Deagon Ward, the amazing Victoria Newton, read and recommended A Wicked Kind of Dark to the Brisbane City Council libraries. The sensational Jacqueline Husson from one of my favourite papers the Bayside and Northern Suburbs Star interviewed me, and now Queensland’s largest newspaper The Courier-Mail has run the following book review:


‘Brisbane writer Jonathan K Benton has created a parallel world of magic interwoven with reality in this dramatic debut tale of good and evil.


Young hero Robert Duncan refuses to believe in the supernatural until a chilling phone call from an unknown woman forces him to remember his past and his childhood sweetheart. Robert finds himself thrust into the dark, dangerous world of Minaea, where magic is everywhere and humans are forbidden. But a powerful demon threatens to overshadow the good of Minaea and, to save the world from darkness, Robert must find his lost friend Luthien before the next blood moon.


Dripping with descriptive language, A Wicked Kind of Dark is a sinister kind of fairy tale that grips readers from the first chapter. It is a climactic tale for teens that explores the limitless power of the imagination.’


A big thank you to The Courier-Mail

This link will take you to a smorgasbord of places where you can purchase A Wicked Kind of Dark.

And thank you, Queensland.


I love the Sunshine State

Jonathan K Benton

Courier Mail 2

Courier Mail 3

A wonderful, thought-provoking guest blog by Joelene Pynnonen

corelandsWhen Jonathan kindly (and perhaps a little too trustingly) invited me to do a guest blog, I was befittingly flattered. When he came up with the topic for me, I was delighted. He’d unwittingly done all of the hard work and I could claim it as my own. This, by the way, is my modus operandi. What made it even more perfect, however, was that the topic seemed tailored for me. As in, if Jonathan had shadowed me for a week like a detective – or a stalker – he could not have posed a better question. Granted, had he done that, his question might well have been ‘Why is your cat the only one who loves you?’. I hate being left with loose ends so, FYI, I feed her. It’s not love so much as common sense.

Okay, so that previous paragraph? Procrastination. Level: expert. Let’s stop that and jump right into the topic at hand. What would I like to see more of in YA and where do I see the market heading in the future?

Surprisingly enough, the answer to the former is also the answer to the latter. Both are very simple. ‘What are they?’ I hear you ask. “More hot boys? More hot girls? More bunny rabbits?’ No, no…and a few more bunnies wouldn’t go astray but it wasn’t what I was thinking of.

I want diversity.

So yeah, simple. One word and we’re done…

Oh, I’m meant to explain?

Okay. I want to see the kaleidoscope of our world depicted in YA. I want major characters to be people of colour, gay people or people with disabilities. I want to read about women who own their stories, set their own pace and don’t let anyone push them around. Or, you know what? Throw me a combination. I can handle it. But it needs to be realistic, respectful, thoughtful. It needs to be researched.

And, for the love of all things holy, no consolation traits. I don’t want to read an Asian character who I am assured is ‘exotic’ in the hopes of making her more palatable. I don’t want a gay character who is just so super-lovable that I’ll forgive their sexual proclivities, a female character who can do everything to make up for all of the ones who can do nothing, or a paraplegic who is an amazing genius because what else could she have to offer? Like all characters, their personalities are what they have to offer. Make us believe in them and we won’t need a consolation prize for their supposed defects.

White, male, able-bodied and beautiful has to stop being the default for books everywhere. It is destroying our understanding of everything that matters. We live in an incomprehensible world where we can watch a movie and deeply empathise with three metre tall blue people who communicate with their flipping hair, but we can’t accept the amazingly talented Amandla Stenberg being cast as Rue in the Hunger Games because she’s African American. The problem with having such a standard mould for major characters is that even when we’re expressly told that a character shatters that mould, we don’t get it. So authors everywhere need to be smashing those moulds until we do.

And they are. I’d love to be able to say that it’s a snowball effect going on but, quite frankly, the snow is not yet falling fast enough to cover the ground let alone warrant snowballs (and this sentence here? This is why Joelene is not allowed into the metaphor jar).

I can see this changing, though (not the metaphor jar. Joelene will never be allowed into the metaphor jar. We’re talking diversity again). Some very brave authors are pushing diversity in their novels, hoping to help shape a more open-minded world than ours is yet. Some very brave agents are supporting them. And what better market to do it with than YA? The age where people are still evaluating and re-evaluating the world around them; not yet set in their ways. The age where they question themselves, their parents and the world in general.

It isn’t perfect yet but if we, as readers, buy and read and recommend books by or about (or, better yet, by and about) culturally, mentally and physically diverse men and women, we will be the catalyst for change. And it’s well past time to hear voices unlike the dominant voices in our stories, speaking from an unfamiliar background. This world is a beautiful, messy, confounding and diverse place. It is time that YA fiction reflected the truth of it.

Joelene’s Bio

Joelene Pynnonen embraces the life of an avid book lover in every way. Her household is ruled cruelly by a wrathful cat; and should a fire ever start it is doubtful that she would make it past the elegant stacks of novels to her room door. At least once a year she coerces her mother into watching the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with her, and will often follow up by re-reading the book.

When not reading or bowing to the will of the tyrant cat, Joelene likes to draw, make futile attempts at learning Finnish and occasionally work in a bookstore.