Category Archives: competitions

A regicidal thank you story.

As one of the crowdfunding rewards for We Are All Ghosts, I promised contributors a personalised poem. I got fairly liberal with the term ‘poem’ after I’d written a dozen or so and just started writing obituaries, dictionary entries and this regicidal thank you story.


It began, as these things often do, with the entrails of a goat. Betwixt that wet and slimy mass of formerly functioning organs her birth was foretold by Jill the soothsayer. Granted, the soothsayer in question had been less than reliable in the past, and what kind of name was ‘Jill’ for a soothsayer anyway? Surely Mercuria or Evangeline or Morgana would have been far more appropriate? On one occasion Jill had sworn that a particularly vital Saturday afternoon would be blue as the ocean, and the king had arranged his birthday festivities accordingly. When the heavens opened up on the vast crowd and left them scurrying for their homes covered in mud and water, he had called for Jill’s head. Fortunately the soothsayer’s guild had presciently (apropos of their trade) started a rumour that a regal order for the beheading of a fortuneteller would bring seven years of terrible famine and vastly underwhelming sex upon the monarch in question.

So she had foretold the birth of the child, many hundreds of years hence, who would be unlike any other. Who would talk to machines with as yet unknown lexicons, who would walk proudly covered in a cosmic quilt of cartoons and colour dancing upon her flesh, and regard the world with two raised fingers and an almighty roar in the key of ‘fuck you!’ And the king did not live to see her birth, for he died some years later when he slipped on the palace stairs, and cracked his head against the cobblestone floor. This may have been just as well, as his brother had been planning to poison him using the root of the deathshade tree, which induces violent diarrhoea and yellowy discharge from the eyes and is considered by most apothecaries to be the second worst possible way to die.*

So the poor king never did set eyes upon the wondrous child, but I did. And my life is much better for it.

* the first is usually listed as ‘being fucked to death by a werewolf’, in case you were wondering.

Stories + cushions = best friends having amazing literary pillow fights forever

Ladies and gentlememes, if you frequent this little corner of the internet on a regular basis then you may have heard that as part of the Brisbane Writers Festival I had a short story, Lenore Meets a Mack Truck, printed on a few cushions scattered around the festival thanks to the good folks at Tiny Owl Workshop. There were a total of five printed, one of these was sold to a charming gentleman who told me he was going to also buy one of Sam George-Allen‘s and make his children fight with them, which sounds hilarious and delightful.

I’m going to keep two of them myself, but I thought it might be fun to give the remaining two homes in strange and unknown places. As a special preXmas offer, anyone who purchases either Zeb and The Great Ruckus or A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India direct through this website in the next week goes into the draw. One book = one chance. You buy both books, you double your chances. You buy 50 copies, you’ve pretty much got it in the bag (hint).

2013-11-21 15.50.42    2013-11-21 15.50.27One has a shiny blue backing and the other is chocolate brown with tassels. Because everything is better with chocolate and tassels. 

My only caveat is that, because these cushions are super large, you’re either going to need to pick them up from my house in Paddington (QLD) or, if you live within a half hour drive of the Brisbane CBD I’ll deliver one to your doorstep. Remember, there are only 5 of these IN THE WORLD, or to put it in modern terms, there are only five times as many of these story cushions as there are women in Tony Abbott’s cabinet. HURRY HURRY HURRY CLICK CLICK CLICK! 

2013-09-06 19.18.25

Here is a handsome man holding one of the super fun story cushions. Perhaps by winning one of these cushions you will  either become or acquire a handsome man of your own! It certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous thing a promotion has ever promised you, I’m sure.

PS This is super secret, but in addition to being a standalone microfiction piece, this story is also the opening page of a novel entitled Lenore’s Last Funeral. I’ve only just started writing the first few chapters, so it’ll probably be released sometime in the next few years. It will most likely be the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. You can think of these cushions as an ultra-exclusive sneak preview.

Book giveaway


Dena over at Books for for Kids (who recently wrote this great review of Zeb) is running a giveaway where you can get your hands…ah…well, eyes at least, on a digital copy of Zeb and the Great Ruckus. Entry is freebies. Check it out here.

40758 Lifeline Bookfest WebBanner 729x108px 1_0

In other book news, one of the highlights of my year, the Lifeline Bookfest starts in just a few days. Lifeline Bookfest is great for the following reasons:

1 Millions of books being sold at 1930s prices

2 The money goes to a good cause

3 Every year the MC dresses up in a safari outfit

4 It is the BEST people watching event of the year. Seriously. You see goths, punks, hipsters, septuagenarians, octogenarias, octuplets, families yelling at each other, couples critiquing each others choices, all kinds of different ages and backgrounds. It’s a veritable gold mine for character ideas.

5 It’s the best place to play a little game I like to call ‘Worst Romance.’ This basically involves finding the tackiest romance novel cover. The winner gets their books paid for by all other participants.

So there's like this cop right? And things always explode around him? Which means it's hard for him to hold down a relationship obviously, until one day he meets a ballistics expert named Rose, who has a dark secret...

This would be a hot contender. There are some better ones out there, but I didn’t think it’d be appropriate to put the cover of ‘Impregnated by the Tentacle’ in this post.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Zeb and the Great Ruckus by Joshua Donellan

Zeb and the Great Ruckus

by Joshua Donellan

Giveaway ends November 30, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Attn: the universe, Goodreads is currently hosting a giveaway competition! If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Zeb for freebies just click on the link above. Also, check out the book trailer below. It has guitars and hilarious kids and other things.  And in other news, I’ve just signed up with Speakers Ink, a booking agency that features authors like Nick Earls and Vernero Armanno, so if you’d like to book to speak or workshop at your school, wedding, divorce party, bar mitzvah or coronation you can head to the ‘Contact & Bookings‘ tab.



It’s here at last! TEN MILLION HUZZAHS!

Hello there citizens of internetland, I trust you are well. I have a heap of announcements that are so exciting that they really should be all IN CAPS but we all know that can be quite annoying so I’ll try and RESTRAIN MYSELF (whoops…) Zeb will see its full, really really real release (try saying that five times fast) in just a few days. Or a few dozen hours. Or a few thousand minutes. You get the idea. Great big squishy thanks to everyone who has already pre-ordered. You are the best.

 For those currently residing in Australia, you can grab it direct from the publisher HERE. This gets me slightly more money than buying it through other retailers, for those lovely people among you who actually care about your money going to the artist so that they can afford extravagant luxuries like rent, socks and copious quantities of two-minute noodles.


Residents of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Madagascar, the UK, the USA or anywhere else in the milky way, you can get it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Amusing sidenote: I once had a friend tell me her slightly eccentric mother had said of Amazon: “It’s so amazing that they can run the world’s largest bookstore from the middle of the jungle!”) UPDATE: Kindle version now available HERE.

Zeb is also available for ITUNES for just $4.99. Seriously, that’s (very very slightly) less than $5. Yes, that’s right, while you’re shopping for Justin Bieber singles or Colonel Claypool’s Bucketful of Bernie Brains albums or old episodes of Xena: The Warrior Princess you can also grab a copy of my book for your ipad.

A list of things that cost less than $5

For those of you who are broke because you spent all your pocket money on yu-gi-oh cards (let’s be honest, we’ve all been there) you should head HERE and see if you can win a copy for FREE (which happens to be my favourite price).



(179 Latrobe tce, Paddington)

September 21st, 5pm

Last but not the opposite of most, don’t forget the launch is next week at Black Cat books followed by a crazy, riotous after party at my house around the corner. Facebook event HERE. This will not be your ordinary launch, no siree Bob. There will be music, performances from some of the best poets in Brisbane, readings, some Qs and some As and all kinds of messy, crazy fun. Finally, here is a great video from one of my favourite people on why books are amazing. Thanks for reading. I hope your day is filled with guitar solos, fireworks and high fives.


Inaugural Premier’s Obituary Award

My Dearest Queensland, I have just returned from a weekend swimming in your resplendant blue waters at Stradbroke island, followed by two nights in the majestic sunshine coast hinterland, only to return to Brisbane and discover that Campbell 'I hate the arts so much you'd think they strangled my puppy' Newman has scrapped the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Bewilderingly, he has deigned to do this during The OFFICIAL YEAR OF READING. Did no one send him a memo? Perhaps they did, and he didn't read it. After all, he has publicly stated that he's 'not into studies and plans.' Not sure how he managed to get an engineering degree, if that's the case…


The money he's 'saving' is a paltry $224 000, an amount that is miniscule in terms of a state budget, but means a great deal to the arts. We are talking about BOOKS here! In the words of George R. R. Martin (via Tyrion Lannister): "The mind need books like a sword needs a whetstone." Newman, it would appear, is all too happy to have some very blunt swords at play.

"If I had to choose between Joffrey and Newman… Hrm. Is there a third option? Stabbing my eyes out with a fork perhaps?"

The loss of the Premier's Literary Award is a devastating blow to the QLD literary community, and if there's one thing I've learnt from a misspent youth reading too many fantasy novels, revenge is a cycle which always ends in joyous victory of good over evil with no sideline ramifications whatsoever. That's why I am, today, right now, announcing the Inaugural Premier's Obituary Award. Whoever can create the most amusing protest (of any kind) against this atrocity, or Mr. Newman in general, will receive:

ReadingMadameBovary_cover  +  Dying +  Cd_ripping

ZEB AND THE GREAT RUCKUS (Um…it doesn't have a cover design yet…)

1 x copy of Reading Madame Bovary The last (ever!?) book to win the Premier's Fiction award

1 x signed copy of my first novel A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India

1 x signed copy of my forthcoming novel Zeb and The Great Ruckus (Due for release later this year).

20 x new release CDs from both major and indie labels. (From my other job as a music reviewer. Selection will depend on what the hell they give me).

All of this will be hand delivered by me. I'll even make you dinner if you like. (Although I am a terrible cook.)

Email your entries (photos/word docs/media files/whatever you’ve got) to jmdonellan(AT)gmail(DOT)com by June 30th. The winner will be decided on August 30th.

You should also sign this petition to have the award reinstated and check out the Queensland Literary awards, recently established by Krissy Keen and Matthew Condon.


FOR SALE: 1 x reincarnation of historical figure Franz Ferdinand.

Hello the Internet.

How are you today? I hope Charlie Sheen hasn't been keeping you too busy. I just thought I'd use my blog to yell into the digital universe and let you know that I'd entered this competition where you have to make a story about three objects for sale.

The items this week were:



Which was strangely convenient as I acutally did have a shetland pony, surfboard and jetski to sell, so I simply told the truth, which is as follows:

Dear person and/or spambot. Thankyou for choosing to view my items instead of the many other interesting things on the internet, such as blogs devoted to things that look like cats and cats that look like things.

For sale is my pride and joy, Franz the Shetland pony. He is the reincarnation of Franz Ferdinand (the historical figure, not the band, whom he hates. Please refrain from playing their music or he may fly into a fit of violent pony rage.)

It is with great regret that I must sell my beloved Franz because my old landlord died in a mysterious pogo stick accident and my new landlord has a bizarre and very specific allergy to Shetland ponies who are the reincarnations of famous historical figures.

I am also selling Franz's jetski and surfboard, which would only remind me of him and thus produce salty discharge in my eyeholes.

You can and also should vote for my entry here.

Ironically the grand prize of $10 000 is substantially larger than many major literary awards. Perhaps my time would be better vested in writing 150 word creative entries for competitions than 100 000 word novels for actual humans. That would leave me time to pursue my true passion; arranging and photographing paper clip collections.

In other news, the 100 stories for QLD anthology featuring my story STUNT KITE has been delayed but should be out any day now, and I will be recording more lines for the pocket hipster tomorrow.

What have you been up to?

(Just kidding, I don't actually care. I was just trying to be polite.)



You may have heard of vampires. These lovable sun-loathing scamps have populated the pages of novels ever since the early something-forties. I used to be quite found of vampire stories, the intrigue of immortality and all that gaff, but I am now, unequivocally, irrevocably, MOTHERFUCKING SICK of vampire stories and every jerk who is jumping on that already overloaded bandwagon.

My reaction to this phenomenon is so intense I've actually developed a medical condition so rare that my doctor insists it doesn't even actually exist. It forces me to violently convulse every time someone mentions Twilight or the Vampire Diaries. Strangely, this convulsion always localises in the area of my fist and seems to inevitably collide with the speaker's face.

I've decided to do something about this by encouraging people to write stories about anything at all besides vampires with the INAUGURAL JM DONELLAN AWARD FOR A SHORT STORY ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT VAMPIRES.


Those of you have submitted to short story comps/publishers in the past will now that their guidelines are typically more rigid and inflexible than the 'must be straight and anglo-saxon' component of the Klu Klux Klan membership requirements.


This competition is different. I WANT your cover letter to be ridiculous. Include pictures, photos, nick nacks, whatever the goddam hell you feel like. Just be original and don't write about vampires.

Word limit is 5 000 words. Preferably these words should be arranged into sentences with appropriate punctuation and paragraphing. Eg:

Green elephant

is unacceptable.


is perfect, if a little strange.

Competition opens June 28th at 10.39am and closes September 22 at 12.59pm.
Send your entries to jmdonellan[at]

1st Prize



$20.15, the current contents of my wallet. You also get a signed copy of my novel, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India. Hot diggity damn!
2nd Prize

You get a signed copy of my novel, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India. Sweet captain cupcakes on toasted rye!

Everyone else your prize is the fact that you have managed to write a story that is not about vampires. Be proud.


1 Q: My story is about vampires, is it eligible?
A: Please send me your full name and address so that I can promptly dispatch a team of ninjas to have you killed.

2 Q: Geez Louise man, what's yer freaking beef with the nosferatu?

A: see above

3 Q: Is this just an elaborate ploy to harvest other people's ideas for the purpose of possible future plagarism?

A: Not according to my very expensive lawyer, no.

4 Q: My story is about a gay penguin on the quest to discover his true calling as an internationally acclaimed hula hooper with the guidance of a breakdancing shaman with a dark and troubled past. Am I going to win?

A: Ask again here.

5 Q:Is this a joke?

A: No, the Twilight series, that was a joke. This is a legitimate competition with way awesome and furthermore radical prizes, bro.

6 Q: Have you ever written a story about someone with a pathological fear of Phil Collins?

A: Why yes, now that you mention it. You can read it here:

Download Fearing Phil Collins by JM Donellan