Dec 03

Year

It’s been a Year, hasn’t it. I mean, not since my last post (although close enough) I mean a Year. With a capital Y. One where things happen, and some of them suck. I’m still feeling a bit of a sense of dread, because it’s not over yet. But there’s also a bit of sense of hope, because maybe next year won’t need that cap Y.

I’m not the only one who’s had a Year. And I’m not about to sit here and recap. Instead, I’m going to lean into that hope with two photos.

One of trophies and demon dudes and bone chimes to remind us to work hard at the things we love, and share them with others who just might love them too. Including two new additions: the long awaited 2012 Best New Talent Ditmar (I thought you’d never arrive!) and the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story, for ‘Bullets’.

Trophies

Next, a very old one I found earlier this Year, while cleaning out stuff that needed cleaning. Sara Douglass, signing Pilgrim for me, to remind us of the moments and the people who inspire us.

Sara DouglassI think this must be late 1990s. I do have a lot of hair.

It’s December already. Here’s to another Year.

 

Feb 24

Awards! Stories! Huzzah!

So I’m a little bit behind with this, but am super excited to have a couple of stories up for awards this year! ‘2B’, from Insert Title Here has been shortlisted for a Ditmar and an Aurealis Award! And ‘Bullets’ from In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep has been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award too!

If you’re a Ditmar voter and want to read ‘2B’, Fablecroft have kindly made it available for free here! So check it out if you want to, and enjoy! :)

The full shortlist for the Aurealis Awards is here, and for the Ditmars here. There are so many wonderful writers and publications on these lists, it’s an absolute honour to be among them.

 

Jan 14

In Your Face

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When Tehani from Fablecroft Publishing approached me for a provocative story for her In Your Face anthology I immediately knew what I wanted to write. But oddly enough that wasn’t the story I ended up writing. My original idea was a story I’d wanted to write for a while. It dealt with racism and class in Australia, it explored the divide between the city and the bush, and it’s still a story I want to write and do justice to.

But then I listened to the radio in the car on the way home from a trip to Canberra, and everything changed. It was a devastating interview with a woman who had lost her son to suicide. Her story and the way she told it was absolutely heartbreaking and made it a difficult to drive — tearing up at 110k/hr might be considered a little unsafe. But it also summoned memories of my own teenage years.

I remember a time in my life when self-harm and suicide were…present. Not, thankfully, in a tragic way. Rather, they were I guess what you would call tools. They were discussed, openly and in whispers, and used to bully with, or worn as a badge of honour, or a way of identifying with others. I guess you could say they were a way to assert control at a time when you have little control over your life and body.

When I was a teenager the world wasn’t as connected as it is now. I can’t help but wonder what that would have been like in a world of smart phones, and the ever-presence and pressure of social media in all its forms. I am also keenly aware that we were for the most part white, middle class girls attending a private high school, with all the privileges that brings with it.

So this is what my story in In Your Face explores. ‘A pain that must be suffered’ is about young people, self-harm and suicide in a highly connected world, about entrenched bullying you just can’t escape from, and the difference class makes to all of this.

Fablecroft are running a crowdfunding campaign for the book here.

And if you want to read more about the stories in this amazing looking anthology, check out the blog tour here.

 

Dec 28

Guest Post: Donna Hanson on balancing writing and life!

Today I am lucky enough to be visited by the wonderful Donna Maree Hanson. Her book Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing is free in e-book for a short time. As part of spreading the word about Shatterwing Donna is doing a blog tour and offering a give away of a hard copy of Shatterwing. Winners will be drawn from people who comment during the blog tour. So leave a comment to be in to win.

Dragonwine Postcard

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

I asked Donna to talk about something close to my heart at the moment – balancing writing and life. So take it away, Donna!

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Thank you for having me on your blog Jo. You asked me to talk about balancing writing and my other life.

I’m not sure balancing is the word I’d use. It’s sort of like binge management really. I binge with the writing and then I’m not writing, but absorbed in work. I also make hats and do craft and I binge with that too. I can’t seem to keep it all on an even keel and do bits of all of them. I’m obsessed. Actually my work mate said that I was passionate. So I’m guessing that’s me. I’m just passionate about a lot of things.

My day job can been seen as project work, research, then talking to people and then report writing. In the reporting stage I usually have no capacity to write fiction at home. I’ve given it all to the day job and there’s nothing left. I usually don’t go on the computer at all at this time. I just can’t bear to look at the screen.

A complicating factor too is that I have developed RSI and arthritis in the neck and thoracic spine so it means I have to take breaks at work in the day job and at home. I believe the craft, the millinery in particular, has evolved from my need to take a break from writing. I used to knit but the arm issues sort of killed that. Millinery is a bit lighter on the body.

So when I do write, I have to be careful, not too long, correct posture etc. I now have a sit and stand arrangement which helps a lot. But I write fairly fast so getting that draft down is usually not too hard. Then I can tinker with the revisions and edits over a longer period. Lately though I’ve been a bit naughty. I’m working on more than one project. This makes life a bit complicated and I have found a bit unfocussed too. I had a bad period of RSI this year and that’s affected how productive I was. I feel I’ve hardly written a thing all year. But I did do NaNoWriMo and got 50000 words down on a new novel. I had been dictating a project before then. Dictation is a nice safety valve for me. If I’m not in pain I can dictate. Or if I want to spare myself some typing dictation works.

So instead of getting near the end of the year feeling like I’ve done nothing, I have actually achieved something. I sent out a revised novel that I wrote last year. I also revised a novel I wrote the year before that. I’m still waiting to get beta reader feedback on that and then I’ll finish with that revision. I’ve also go two partially drafted novels.

I’m moving to a new stage in my life too. I’ve been accepted for a PhD and I’ll be doing that full time. So that will be the new day job. Lucky some of that involves writing a novel. Still I need to get some of these in progress jobs out of the way before February.

I should mention too that writing retreats usually work for me as a way to get a lot of drafting done. We haven’t had a lot of those lately but instead this year I’m taking January off to write. For many years now holidays are opportunities to write. I’m thinking that’s balanced but maybe it’s not.

Now I come to the end of this post and I’m not sure I answered the question properly. When I decided to write, I gave up TV for starters. That liberated 5-6 hours a day. I was pretty intense with my writing passion for about 5 years and then I eased off a bit. I started spending more time with my family. Before that I spent a lot of time writing or reading in the pell-mell fashion I was used to.  I had to balance things out a bit and live life a little. I find I can balance my day job, my family and my writing. I don’t write as fast or as long as I did before, but then I can’t do that physically any more. As long as I can do what I have to do I feel happy with the world.

Thanks Donna, you know I think you’re amazing. Finding a way to do what you have to do to feel happy with the world, is very good advice!

Nov 26

Well… that was a long break wasn’t it

ITH-CoverSo, I just realised I haven’t done an update since February. FEBRUARY. And it’s almost December.

How did that happen?? (I think someone stole a chunk of my year! Help!)

And you know, it’s not like things didn’t happen this year. Writing, and life, and the eternal balancing act between the two. I even had some short stories published. So not a complete waste then, yeah?

‘2B’ was published in Insert Title Here, from Fablecroft

A lovely reviewer on Goodreads describes it as “an incredibly strange, magical and wonderful story of a town where things grow on trees, such as pencils and car tyres.” And I love that description. Thanks Katharine :)

And thanks Stephanie who says: “If you’ve never read any of Anderton’s work, this could be a good place to start, as this story highlights her grasp of imagery and strangeness, while still being able to wring deep emotion out of only a handful of words. Dreamlike and haunting, this is one of my favourites in the anthology.”

510Zq35bwWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Now that certainly warms this little writer’s heart.

 

I was also fortunate enough to be asked to contribute a story for the Australian Horror Writers Association anthology, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep.

In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep is an anthology like no other. The tales herein will take you on a weird and terrifying journey. This inaugural showcase anthology features the work of just a handful of the many talented and darkly imaginative authors who make up the Australian Horror Writers’ Association. If you are unfamiliar with Australian horror, let this book be just the first step on a long voyage of discovery.

I’m sure you can see why I was excited to be involved! My story ‘Bullets’ is a nasty little fairytale about bush fires and the isolation of the Australian outback. Check out the anthology here.

 

 

41uxFc+h0IL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My story ‘Unnamed Children’ was released in October in the Bloodlines anthology, from Ticonderoga Publications. It is edited by Amanda Pillar who also edited the wonderful Bloodstones, and ‘Unnamed Children’ is a bit of a spiritual successor to my Bloodstones story, ‘Sanaa’s Army’.

Bloodlines contains “16 Journeys on the Dark Streets of Urban Fantasy” from some amazing authors and I’m honoured to be among them.

The city in ‘Unnamed Children’ demands sacrifices from its residents. You get to live in comfort and safety, away from the scary outside world. You will be looked after by the doll-like Wards, who run and care for the city and its people. But it’s not free. Everyone must contribute. Some, more than others.

‘Unnamed Children’ is a story about living on the edges, about stepping off the path, about not belonging in a city that has no room for outsiders. Ultimately I think it’s about choosing between security, and freedom. Oh, and blood magic. It’s definitely about blood magic!

 

YearsBest2013And last but not least, I only just noticed this wonderful review of the Year’s Best Young Adult Speculative Fiction 2013, published by Twelfth Planet Press and containing my story, ‘Mah Song’. There are some crazy amazing names on that cover (OMG look at them!) and it’s thrilling to be listed alongside them.

Particularly when A. V. Mather on Marianne de Pierre’s Escape Club blog, says “These are the modern day folk stories and fairy tales – the monster in the woods, the wolf in granny’s clothing, the dark nature within – complete with morals, cautionary predictions and deft commentaries of human nature. They are thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, and heartfelt. We should give thanks that there are writers who care enough about the adults of the future to craft tales that speak to generations increasingly bereft of guidance. ‘Mah Song’ by Joanne Anderton was a standout for me as a chilling tale of human nature and the origins of religion and civilisation.”

Meep.

 

There, see. Things did happen this year. I probably should have talked about them at the time. :)

Better late than never?

 

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