Tag Archives: Australian Literature anthology

2nd Blogiversary: The Highs and Lows of the Past Year

Wow, what a year!

This time last year I was celebrating the very first blogiversary of this blog, I can’t believe another year has past. So much has happened in this past year; these are some of the biggest ups and downs:

I took part in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. After finding it hard to get into the story I’d planned, I ended up writing a fanfic and reaching my goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. (The previous year I’d only managed half that.)

– The worst day of my life was the day I found out I had a miscarriage and lost my baby. I didn’t cope at all with the loss and sunk into depression. I found it hard to write for a while. I’m still struggling with the loss, but I’m writing.

After entering my completed YA fantasy MS into a couple of novel competitions and having no luck, I decided to put it aside for the time being, rather than following my original plan of querying it. I decided to focus on my YA thriller WIP instead.

– After the devastating floods in Queensland at the start of the year, I was compelled to submit a story to the anthology 100 Stories to Queensland. I was thrilled to first make the longlist and then the shortlist and have my story ‘A Penny for a Wish’ included in the anthology. The anthology has gone on to raise much needed funds for disaster relief in Queensland.

– I was surprised and thrilled to find out my story ‘Angel Blood’ was to be included in the Australian Literature anthology (and I also totally bawled my eyes out as it was to be my first story I would be getting paid for). It was released at the same time as 100 Stories for Queensland. I couldn’t believe my debut as a published author involved two separate stories being published at the same time.

– I jumped at the opportunity to get on board an anthology called Literary Mix Tapes: Eighty-Nine where I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other authors and an editor (the fabulous Jodi Cleghorn). Working on my short story ‘Eighteen for Life’ has been a great learning experience for me as a writer. Eighty-Nine is due for release next month.

– I’ve had the honour of being invited to write short stories for several other upcoming anthologies (which I will tell you more about as the release dates come closer).

I found out I was pregnant again, but kept the pregnancy secret despite the fact I was suffering the worst morning sickness of all my pregnancies so far. Thankfully the morning sickness has now subsided. I’m nearly at the halfway point!

My family and I were all plagued by illness over the winter months, and in fact it got so bad my son ended up in hospital for a week (with me staying there with him) and my daughter ended up in hospital overnight. Even once we were home it was a long road to recovery (compounded by the fact I was also suffering horrendous morning sickness at the time). Needless to say my writing suffered during this time, as did my poor blog.

I worked up the courage to send a couple picture book (and one chapter book) manuscripts to publishers. So far no luck, but…

– Only last week I received the exciting news my picture book ‘Monster Sister’ was shortlisted for the CYA competition’s preschool category. (CYA = Children and Young Adult Writer conference, which is held annually in Brisbane, Australia.) I just found out the winner as I was about to hit ‘publish’ on this post. Unfortunately ‘Monster Sister’ did not win, but I feel so privileged to have even been shortlisted and to have had the opportunity for my story to be seen by a publisher.

Edit: Just had to make an edit, because I just found out that although ‘Monster Sister’ did not win the CYA preschool category, it did place second!

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May is Short Story Month

What is a short story?

A story whose plot (beginning, conflict and resolution) is told in a minimal number of words. Often a short story involves some kind of twist at the end (though this isn’t necessary). A short story can be any genre.

How short is a short story?

A short story is generally a story of no more than 10,000 words. Most short story competitions will ask for stories between 1,000 to 3,000 words on average. Anthologies may ask for short stories up to 10,000 words.

Why write a short story?

1. They’re a great exercise in concise writing. A smaller word count to write a story means ensuring your writing is as tight as it can be.

2. It’s a great way to explore other genres. Because many short story competitions and anthologies ask for you to write to a certain theme, they can push you out of your writing comfort zone to try something new. You might even find you enjoy writing in a genre you never thought you would write.

3. It’s a great outlet when you need a break from/are procrastinating on your novel.

4. Some competitions and anthologies will pay you if you win/your story is accepted. And even if the payment is only minimal you are getting your work out there which is exciting in itself.

5. It’s good practice for when you start submitting your novel. You won’t be accepted in every anthology and you won’t win every competition, so you will become more accustomed to rejection, but also keep trying. It’s encouraging when a piece does get accepted and validates that someone does think you can write (other than your mum or significant other). Those published/winning pieces can also look good when mentioned in the bio section of a query letter (as long as the publications/competitions aren’t too obscure).

There are lots of great anthologies/competitions out there for every genre you can think of (try googling). I like to keep a list of anthologies/competitions currently seeking submissions (along with the due date). I don’t always get inspiration or time to submit by the due date, but I keep the list handy in case I do get the time or inspiration to write something.

Coincidentally, May is a monumental month for me in terms of short story writing as I have had not one, but two debut stories released (twins!). The launch of Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories (with my story ‘Angel Blood’) took place at the end of April and just became available on Amazon. At the start of May the charity anthology 100 Stories for Queensland (with my short story ‘A Penny for a Wish’) was launched and is now available on Amazon as well (in fact as I type a chart rush is taking place and 100 Stories for Queensland has shot up the bestseller list from #444,000 yesterday to #1,121 this morning on Amazon US – raising lots of money for Queensland flood victims).

The Australian Literature Review is currently running a short story competition (with 2 days left to enter). They are also calling for submissions for a comedy anthology (submissions due by 30th September). Keep an eye on them because they often run short story competitions and put calls out for anthologies.

If you’re interested in supporting a worthy cause, and reading some fantastic short stories in a variety of genres, consider buying a copy of 100 Stories for Queensland as all profits go towards The Premier’s Queensland Flood Relief fund. And as an added bonus, if you live in Australia or New Zealand, Amazon UK currently have free shipping to Australia and New Zealand for orders over 25 pounds.

Interview on Fleur McDonald’s Blog

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed the lovely Fleur McDonald (author of the Australian novels Red Dust and Blue Skies). I am lucky enough to have a short story appearing in the same anthology as Fleur (Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories). Today Fleur has posted an interview with me on her blog where I talk about my writing, balancing writing with motherhood and a little bit on my short story in the anthology.

http://fleurmcdonald.com/2011/05/guest-blog-jo-hart/

Author Interview with Fleur McDonald

I’d like to welcome Australian author Fleur McDonald to my blog. Fleur is the author of the novels Red Dust and Blue Skies and is one of the authors featured in the soon-to-be-released anthology Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write the short story ‘Gone’, which will be appearing in the anthology Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories?

I was wanting to branch out a bit from my normal farm/rural type stories, but still with a mystery/crime basis. It took me a little while to come up with the storyline and I was hesitant about my short story writing skills, having not written many before. It took a lot more drafts than what my novels do!

(You have nothing to be hesitant about, I loved reading your story ‘Gone’.)

 ‘Gone’ is quite an emotional story. As a mother it really hit home for me as it plays on every mother’s worst fears. Did being a mother yourself make it easier or more difficult to write this story?

I’ve lost quite a few family and friends to cancer and I know the difficulties faced by the families and friends of the dying. Trying to imagine my own children in that situation is quite frightening and the whole time I was writing Gone, there was this terrible sinking feeling, sitting in my tummy.

Because of that, it did make difficult to write, but the experiences I’ve already faced, with this type of situation, meant I could make it realistic and in turn that part was easier to write.

 In ‘Gone’ you write from Detective Indy Sullivan’s point-of-view. What made you decide to write from Indy’s point-of-view, rather than the parents or even fellow detective, Jack?

I’m not sure. Indy sort of jumped into my mind and stayed there. Writing it from Jack’s point of view would be an interesting experience. Maybe I should try that!

 How do you balance writing with being a mother and living on the land?

Well, it’s always a juggling act, especially this time of the year, when it hasn’t rained and we’re busy feeding animals every day. I often only write once a week, on my day in town. If I get any more time than that, it’s a bonus.

(I can totally relate! We’re lucky to have had a lot of rain this season on this side of the country, which isn’t always the case. It’s great you can make that time for your writing.)

Your published novels, Red Dust and Blue Skies, are both based on the land in rural Australia. How much are your own experiences living on a farm reflected in your novels?

Well, I guess the most experience I draw on is the setting – living where I do, makes it easy for me. The plots that I put my characters into, thankfully, I’ve never experienced.

As it’s Aussie Author Month this month, can you tell us about some of your favourite Australian Authors and how they’ve influenced/inspired your own writing?

Tamara McKinley, Belinda Alexandra, Rachael Treasure, Monica McInerney and Tony Parsons are just a few that have influenced me. Tamara, Belinda and Monica all write such wonderful sagas and I wanted to be able to do that in a rural setting – that’s where Rachael and Tony come into it – but with a crime influence (most of my crime favourites are American or English).

There’s many more that have inspired me, since I started to write and I’ve met them, either face to face or through the social media. Katherine Howell would now be one of my favourite crime writers.

 What are you working on at the moment?

My third book Purple Roads is due at the publishers in July and I’m nearly finished. I’m heading to Perth this week as my daughter is having a large operation and I’m hoping to finish it while I’m up there.

 (I hope all goes well with your daughter’s operation.)

Any words of advice for aspiring authors?

Never ever give up. Just because your MS isn’t wanted one day, doesn’t mean it won’t be wanted the next.

Fleur McDonald grew up among the farming communities of Orroroo in SA and now lives east of Esperance, on 8,000 acres. Here, she cares for a husband, two children and a menagerie of dogs, cattle, sheep and a bit of crop, not to mention tractors and other machinery!

Fleur is the best selling author of Red Dust and Blue Skies, both published by Allen and Unwin. When she has five spare minutes, she is writing her third and forth books, Purple Roads and Silver Gums.

For more information visit www.fleurmcdonald.com or follow her on Twitter @fleurmcdonald or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fleur-McDonald/204949640064?ref=ts

For more information on Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories visit The Australian Literature Review.