“Hope” is Here!

“Hope” is a project that is close to my heart. I have wanted to do something since I lost my son to suicide in 2006. In many ways, it gave me purpose, which in turn gave me hope. So the anthology is aptly named.

In late 2010 I decided to put my plans into action and I approached writers from around Australia, telling them my story, asking for their help. I was astounded by the response!

Yesterday, Hope was launched online. The book launch is still going and I invite you to head over to the book launch and say hello. You might even win a copy of the ebook. And there’s a real possibility that you’ll win a paperback book too.

My story “Boundaries” is included in the anthology, but for me the story is not important. To me, the message of the book in its entirety is the important thing. Hope gives the reader thirteen speculative fiction stories, but it also raises suicide awareness with short ‘snippets’ of information on suicide. I urge teenagers to read the book so they are able to ‘see’ when a friend may need their help. And I urge parents to read the book so they will ‘know’ when their child may be showing signs of being suicidal. Being suicide aware may save a life. That’s what this book means to me.

I will be forever grateful to the contributors to this anthology. Together, we can make a difference.

And I think it’s important to mention at this point that none of the contributions received payment for their time or their stories. They gave these things willingly because they want to help raise suicide awareness. All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to Beyondblue and The Anika Foundation.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Preface by Karen Henderson
Introduction by Simon Haynes
High Tide at Hot Water Beach by Paul Haines
Suicide: An Introduction by Warren Bartik and Myfanwy Maple
Burned in the Black by Janette Dalgliesh
Australian Suicide Statistics
The Haunted Earth by Sean Williams
The Causes of Suicide
Eliot by Benjamin Solah
Warning Signs
Boundaries by Karen Lee Field
Indigenous Suicides
The Encounter by Sasha Beattie
Drugs and Alcohol
The God on the Mountain by Graham Storrs
Suicide Around the World
Deployment by Craig Hull
Suicide: The Impact by Myfanwy Maple and Warren Bartik
Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden by Joanne Anderton
Helping a Friend Through Loss
Blinded by Jodi Cleghorn
Myths and Facts
The Choosing by Rowena Cory Daniells
How to Help Someone at Risk of Suicide by beyondblue
Duty and Sacrifice by Alan Baxter
What You Can Do to Keep Yourself Safe by beyondblue
A Moment, A Day, A Year… by Pamela Freeman
Where to Get Help
About the Authors

And this is a summary of the stories included by some of Australia’s best speculative fiction writers:

High Tide at Hot Water Beach by Paul Haines
A man dying of a terminal disease bets his life on one last chance at survival, a chance that looks like certain death from the perspective of his family.

Burned in the Black by Janette Dalgliesh
A jaded starbeast herder, with more secrets than she cares for and a difficult task ahead, is swept into an uneasy alliance with a troubled technobard whose unique gifts could mean her salvation … or her downfall.

The Haunted Earth by Sean Williams
Not all aliens are evil, but every first contact comes at a cost.

Eliot by Benjamin Solah
Eliot hides his dark memories in the pages of journals. But there is one memory he needs to uncover once the face paint washes away.

Boundaries by Karen Lee Field
With cursed blood running through his veins and boundaries touched by magic, an escaped slave battles for life as a Freeman.

The Encounter by Sasha Beattie
A woman’s desperation finds her in a small town where she learns of a dark secret that threatens to take away her only hope of happiness.

The God on the Mountain by Graham Storrs
An ambitious scientist’s career may be over if she dare not seek the god on the mountain and confront it.

Deployment by Craig Hull
After choosing the loneliness of deep space, a woman must confront her painful past to save the life of a child.

Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden by Joanne Anderton
In the ruins of a dying magical Garden, two people from opposite sides of a dangerous clash of cultures must learn to trust each other to survive.

Blinded by Jodi Cleghorn
The past and present collide for exo-biologist Dr Thaleia Halligan when the most recent addition to her exploration team is revealed as something other than a field medic for hire.

The Choosing by Rowena Cory Daniells
In a harsh, tropical paradise, a world of scattered islands where the poor live on boats and whole tribes live the canopies of sea- growing trees, two boys set off to prove they are worthy of being called men.

Duty and Sacrifice by Alan Baxter
In endless grasslands an assassin works her way towards the biggest job of her life, and maybe the last.

A Moment, A Day, A Year… by Pamela Freeman
The Oracle ordains everyone’s role in the Yearly Round, but there are more choices to be made than anyone knows, and some of them are deadly.

It’s a brilliant book, so please help us help those in need and you can become suicide aware at the same time. It can be purchased from the publisher’s website.

Raising Suicide Awareness with “Hope”

In the years that followed the death of my son, I have constantly been looking for ways to help other families. This website came from the need to reach out … and, at the same time, it provided me with a method to unscramble the thoughts and feelings whirling around my brain. It gave me purpose and — this might sound strange — but it kept my son alive, in a sense, by marking his existence in this world. For a long time, I fretted over that last point. What if Barry was forgotten? Would that mean he never existed? Or that he only existed to his immediate family? This website proves that Barry was born, he lived … and he, unfortunately, died.

As a writer, I attempted to write his story, but it was too difficult. Memories were chased away by grief. Darkness wrapped itself around me during the day and nightmares came back to haunt me at night. For my own sanity, I gave that notion away.

Yet, I still wanted to do something. It was important to me. And as stupid as it sounds, I needed something good to come out of the worst thing ever. If I could do something that might save another mother going through what I’ve been through, then I would feel happier. But what could one person do?

The idea for Hope was born out of that passionate need. I live in Australia so I decided to contact Australian authors and ask for their help in raising suicide awareness. The response was heart warming. The idea became more than that when an editor stepped forward and offered her services and authors from around the country gladly donated short stories. Then organisations such as Beyondblue and Lifeline wanted to get involved. And finally employees of the University of New England offered to contribute too.

What started out as an idea is now a full blown publication. Hope will be released on 7 October 2011 by Kayelle Press. It will include thirteen short stories, four short essays and half a dozen ‘snippets’ of information on suicide. Everyone who contributed donated their time and their work. No one will receive any payment from the sale of the book, except Beyondblue and the Anika Foundation as all profits will be donated to these two organisations.

The book is dedicated to Barry.

One person can make a difference. This publication is tribute to that. I am extremely proud of the book and thank everyone involved with its creation from the bottom of my heart.

Writing My Way to the Future

For many months I have been working on a manuscript called Mirror Image. It is a project I have always felt was worthy of telling – not only for the story itself, but for the underlying messages too. It is a manuscript I believe in and I know that, if I were to write it well, it is a story that would catch editors’ attention.

However, it is also a story that runs parallel with my own life. Whilst it isn’t the story of my son’s suicide, it closely travels the path of what my family went through. This makes it a manuscript that stirs emotions in me that I cannot control, cannot combat. And I doubt I’ll ever be in the situation to face the heartache that the manuscript puts me through when I’m working on it.

After much thought and soul searching, I have decided to put this manuscript aside…permanently. The pain it causes me isn’t healthy. The feelings it stirs in me makes me depressed, which leads to not being able to sleep and when I do…I have nightmares. In turn, the sleep deprivation causes me to feel irritable and angry towards other people. And I don’t mean just angry, I mean really, really angry – to the point of wanting to hurt someone, anyone. This isn’t me at all and it scars me. I thought I could pull myself through it and I thought it would become easier with time, but I can’t and it isn’t. For my own sake, I have decided that I have to put my health first in the hope that my emotional strength will improve over time.

I have also decided, finally, not to tackle the manuscript I had planned and started to write called Suicide: A Mother’s Story. If I can’t write a fictitious story about suicide, there’s no way I’ll be able to write the true story.

Having given myself permission to stop, I feel somewhat relieved…and free. I didn’t realise these two manuscripts were like dark clouds hanging over me until the decision to stop was finally made. There’s no guilt, which is something I expected. I do not see the time spent on these manuscripts, especially Mirror Image, as a waste of time either. I can chalk the time up as writing practice, but more importantly I see the writing as therapy. Maybe that’s all I really needed from the manuscript. To face the emotions and torment I felt. Maybe I’ve spent the last two years working on something that has made me face my past so that I can move on to my future.

Introduction

This weekend I wrote the introduction to my non-fiction project – Suicide: A Mother’s Story. I decided to change the name of the book, after doing a lot of research, to a title which will leave the reader in no doubt what the book is about.

I want the first paragraph to be quite powerful. It has to grab the reader and pull them right in (this is essential for any reader, but especially so if the reader is an editor of a publishing company). I feel I achieved that goal. The words that follow come from the heart. It’s important to get the reasons for the book firmly established at this point. Then…I have a one sentence last paragraph that should leave the reader in a state of “reality” shock.

The introduction is only four (double spaced) pages. This isn’t long, but I believe everything that needs to be said, has been covered. It took me a long time to write. I kept changing my mind and then rearranging the paragraphs, adding this and deleting that, but eventually I was happy.

I’ve made a start. I’m not sure where to go from here. I think I’ll write our story first. The posts from Crumbling Walls have been copied into a word document. This will be my starting point. The posts were written at the time everything was happening and are the most accurate account of what happened. Naturally, I plan on expanding on the posts. I also want to write about Barry’s life before I go any further. However, I’m finding this extremely difficult to do. My mind isn’t allowing the memories to come through in chronological order, but I’ll find a way around that.

I have created a new category in the sidebar called The Book. Click on this link to follow the progress of the manuscript.

Crumbling Walls – The Book

On a couple of occasions I’ve mentioned that I am a writer. I normally write children’s fiction. I’m unpublished, but that won’t be the case forever. I’m working on that constantly.

My councillor keeps telling me to write, write, and write some more. She tells me it’s a way of relieving anger, stress, and heartache. It will also help put things in perspective.

Gary keeps telling me to write too. He insists that my knowledge of writing and my experience with the aftermath of suicide should be combined. He keeps telling me that other people need my help. He’s not saying this to pressure me, he’s saying it to encourage me to do something I obviously want to do, but don’t know how, because I’ve never attempted non-fiction.

I’ve spent two weeks researching “how-to write non-fiction” and have already made good progress. Many of the websites I’ve visited ask the same question: “Why do you want to write this book?”

Here are my reasons for wanting to write this book, which will be called Crumbling Walls after this website.

  • Because there is a market out there, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because the topic is suicide and, in all honesty, I wish books of this kind were not needed. I wish our children, and our elderly, didn’t feel the need to end their lives prematurely for whatever reasons they have. But, in real life, it is happening…much more than any ordinary person realises.
  • Because it’s important to raise awareness about suicide and writing a book about my own experiences will open the eyes of other people…people who had never thought about the consequences of suicide, who also think it could never happen to them. It could.
  • Because writing this book will be therapy for me. Yes, it will make me revisit places I don’t want to go, but it will also make me face issues from all angles and maybe that will help me heal in the long term.
  • Because deep in my heart I know this book needs to be written, and I’m passionate to get the message across – there are always other options. Always. This is the most important reason of all. It drives me on. If I can help another family keep their child, then all the misery and heartbreak I’ve been through will not be in vain.

By turning the emotions I feel every day into something positive and worth while, I believe I will be helping me, but eventually I will be helping other families and that is reason enough to do this project.