Month: August, 2011

Cliche or convention?

I recently read a bad review of Winter’s Shadow. Don’t worry – I’m okay. It was touch and go for a few hours there, what with all the crying and self-mutilation, but I came through the experience a much stronger person. Apparently, I’m not the world’s greatest writer? This, I’ve come to terms with. Read the rest of this entry »

Talli Roland

When I first started blogging my publisher, Alice, forwarded me a bunch of links to other blogs for inspiration. One of the best was written by a young woman named Talli Roland, author of The Hating Game and the forthcoming Watching Willow Watts. Her posts managed to straddle the line between self-promotion and self-expression, a tricky task for even the most experienced blogger. They were delightfully irreverent, insightful, and informative, sometimes all at once. There’s a definite craft to blogging (one I’m still trying to master) and Talli is one of the foremost practitioners. She’s also one of the most dedicated, updating her site with new posts almost every single day!    Read the rest of this entry »

Faces with names

What sells books? A good cover? Sure. A recognisable name? Yes. Positive reviews? Doesn’t hurt. A well-written story? Maybe. Actually meeting the bookseller behind the counter and leaving a favourable impression? Definitely. The fine folks who work in the bookstores ultimately have enormous power over whether or not your work is picked up by readers. Being on the front line they have a unique perspective on the current literary trends and have an undeniable influence over shaping those trends. Read the rest of this entry »


I love holidays. Yeah, I know – who doesn’t? It’s great getting away from the daily grind, sleeping in late, eating too much, seeing new sights, and spending quality time with a loved one. Apart from this, I value holidays because they allow my imagination to breathe. Writing fiction takes up a lot of mental real estate. All those characters and plot threads need space, and unless you live alone in a cabin in the woods far from civilisation, with nothing but your writing to occupy yourself with, that space is usually limited. Job stuff, relationship stuff – life stuff – constantly jostles for attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Shearer’s Guest Blog

Hey folks,

Just a quick post today to let you know I’m guest blogging over at Shearer’s Books. You can read it by clicking on the below piccy. Thanks to Mark for giving me the opportunity to rant about imagination-challenged, arrogant dullards. It was a lot of fun.

M. J.

Pencil Marks

Readers of my previous post know why I have an aversion to post-its. I hate those little squares of fluorescent paper because they symbolise my inadequacy as a writer. Oh sure, I can come up with a fairly compelling story, I know a thing or two about character, but ask me to supply a ‘clean’ first draft and I’ll invariably fail. It doesn’t matter how much proofreading I do (or other people doahem…yes, I’m looking at you mum, dad and girlfriend) somehow the typos and the grammatical faux pas escape scrutiny and proliferate. As difficult as it is to admit, I’m a messy writer. Read the rest of this entry »

Behind the curtain

When I was growing up, devouring every Stephen King and Clive Barker book I could get my grubby hands on, I often wished there was some kind of forum allowing me to communicate directly with my favourite authors. There were questions I wanted to ask  – questions about theme and character, about writing methodology. I wanted to know what their favourite horror movie was, and what inspired them to write. I wanted to know if they liked pineapple or pepperoni on their pizza (pizza was very important to me when I was kid… Truth, be told it still is).

This was before the days of the internet so there were no chatrooms or websites offering avenues of communication. Magazine articles, usually in Fangoria, were my best bet if I wanted information, but these came along far too infrequently and were often disappointingly thin on the sort of goss I craved.

With the advent of the digital age suddenly a whole new world opened up. Most writers now had their own websites – blogs, they called them –where they could keep an online journal and interact easily with their fanbase through the message boards. I could now read everything I ever wanted to know about Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman and the other creative people I looked up too. The gulf separating me from idols had shrunk, became a crack I could easily jump over.

Which brings me to the point of this post – the live Q&A. On Thursday 4th of August (tomorrow night – sorry for the late notice) I will be partaking in a live Q&A session via the wonderful Rachel, over at the Fictional Fantasy Facebook page. It starts at 8pm (Sydney time) and will run for about an hour. You can click on the below image if you’d like more information.



There’s no set program – basically its just a chance for me to interact with readers, and answer questions about the book, the writing process and anything else that might come up. If you’ve ever wondered what grade Winter got on her eighth grade Geography exam, or what brand dental floss Blake uses, now is the time to find out. Questions about pizza toppings will not only be considered, they will be encouraged.

Until then,
M. J.