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!


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.”



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

Better late than never?


Feb 28

In February, the writing continues

Today is the last day of February, and the WIP is now 50k. I’m still behind my goal.

Almost two weeks of this already short month were written off when my husband became very ill, and then had a reaction to the antibiotics that were, up until that point, the only thing that seemed to help. Those were two weeks of very little sleep, a lot of worry, many trips to the doctor and the pharmacy, and very little writing. I did have a major freak out at one point, but thankfully I am surrounded by wonderfully supportive people. Husband is well again, which is really all that matters.

Once again, life happened. I keep plugging away, snatching writing time when I can find it, and thoroughly enjoying the story as it unfolds. It’s a rough as guts 0-draft, but that’s ok. Actually, that’s the point. That’s how I work out what the hell the story is about in the first place.

March will also be troublesome — thanks to a work trip that will take up all of the last week. But I know what my goal is, and I will keep working towards it.

Feb 22

The Australian Shadows demon needs a home!

Guess who I picked up at the airport this week? (yes really, that’s what happened)

IMG_1055The Australian Shadows demon! Otherwise known as the award The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won last year! I think I shall name him Bob. Isn’t he amazing? Also, he’s really heavy. But he needs a home.

Should he sit on my desk, where he can scowl at me as I work? “Write more words or I’ll eat your soul”. He can chat to the robot lamp if he gets lonely.


Or on the shelf with a couple other awards, and a herd of tiny elephants?

IMG_1058 In the lounge room, where he is lord of all he surveys?


Or just freaking out the dog some more?


It’s hard to decide, because he is just that awesome! Any thoughts? :)


Feb 01

On January, goals and the list

Ok so it’s February. At this point I was hoping to write a blog post about how I’d crossed off ALL the things on my January to-do list. Sadly, that’s not the case, although I’m pretty close!

30k on my current WIP – The Fiery Skies – should have been possible. As it is, I only got 25k.

I’m not beating myself up about it. There are reasons I couldn’t quite make that last 5k. A lot of them are the same reasons I reconsidered my original goal of 45k. Some are outside of my control (like my poor, very sick husband currently asleep on the couch) and there are some I need to address. I’m already working on those.

I love lists. I need them. I have my to-do list on a whiteboard in my study, and I cross it off as I go rather than wipe it clean, so I can see my progress. It keeps me honest, and focused, and I love the feeling of crossing something off like that. Looking up at all those tasks I’ve completed actually gives me a little rush. It says, yeah, you might not have got to 30k but look at everything else you did! So you should keep going! You can do this!

Sometimes life can be shitty and get in the way. The only way to deal with it AND write that book (or whatever your goal may be) is to keep on working.

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