It feels as though Mother Nature really has it in for Australia this summer. Currently, bushfires are raging in Perth. Only days ago, category 5 cyclone Yasi hit Northern Queensland. In December 2010 and January 2011 major floods affected seventy-five per cent of the state of Queensland, including Brisbane (its capital city) causing major damage and loss of life. My brother lives in Queensland and thankfully lives in an area not affected by either the floods or the cyclone, but many other people have been affected.
Watching the devastation unfold on television and reading the heart-wrenching stories around the web left me in shock. But, as with the devastating bushfires two years ago, it has been uplifting seeing not only Australians, but those around the world reaching out to help those affected.
The writing community has pulled together in several ways to help raise funds. In January several writers organised a charity auction. Writers from around the country donated books and offers to critique manuscripts to raise money for the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. Then, following in the tradition of 100 stories for Haiti and 50 stories for Pakistan, a call was put out for short stories to be included in an anthology to be titled 100 stories for Queensland. I knew without a doubt I wanted to submit - to be a part of something that could help raise much needed funds for flood-affected Queensland.
The submission guidelines called for uplifting stories, and my first thought was to submit a comedic rhyming story I wrote last year and had been sitting idly in a folder on my computer. I soon found out, however, that the anthology wasn’t accepting rhyming stories, so it was back to the drawing board. As the days drew closer to the closing date, I started to panic I wouldn’t find inspiration for a story to submit. Finally, an idea developed. A story about a simple wish – about hope.
I wrote and rewrote and edited and proof-read. I passed it on to beta readers, including my friend Rachel who happens to be a history buff and was able to set me straight on a few points I’d overlooked. I submitted right on the deadline.
Last week, I found out my story had made the long list. Today, I found out it made the final list and will be included in the anthology.
My story is called ‘A Penny for a Wish’, but my simple wish is this: When the anthology is released on the 8th of March, please think about purchasing a copy as 100% of the sales profits will be going towards flood relief in Queensland. Two years ago in the Victorian bushfires, one of my best friends lost everything – her house, her property and all of her possessions. I’ve seen first hand how much these funds can help towards rebuilding someone’s life when they’ve lost everything. And even if you don’t want to read some fantastic stories by some amazing authors, consider donating in some other way.
P.S. I just found out about another great writer initiative raising money for flood relief. Writers on Rafts involves a multitude of fantastic Australian authors offering a multitude of prizes. All money raised goes towards the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal and you can enter as many times as you like. Winners are drawn Friday 25th February 2011. (I believe the competition is open to Australian residents only on this one.)