Happy New Year!

A great New Year to you all! Hope it’s filled with adventures, calm, deep satisfaction, and new experiences.:)

That’s what I’m hoping for, I think. As usual, I’ll probably be going for it with all the enthusiasm of my little guy.

DSC01679

It’s been a big year for me – I spent a lot of it looking after my bub, some of it compiling our new motherhood Anthology, The Milk of Female Kindness, and some of it working in what must be admitted was a somewhat half-hearted fashion, considering everything else going on.

I think I need to take advantage of some of that calm I was talking about earlier to consider whether or not I will try and publish my short story collection this year. They are a rather eclectic mix, rather like me – science fiction, speculative fiction, and some which are probably best described just as ‘odd’.MOFK COVER front final

Anyway, if you are looking for a new experience to start off with, I am currently running a Giveaway on Goodreads for The Milk of Female Kindness. It’s not a how-to guide, but a creative look at being a mother, with artwork, poetry, essays, stories and interviews. It will make you think. there are five paperback copies available to the lucky winners, and it’s free to enter, so pop over there and give it a shot! :)

 

Book launch!

MOFK COVER front finalI’m very excited to announce the launch of our new Anthology about honest motherhood – The Milk of Female Kindness!

It’s out now on Amazon and Createspace, with The Book Depository to follow.

Terrifically proud of the 28 women from all around the world who have shared their thoughts, creativity and time to make this book. It’s wonderfully diverse, with artwork, poetry, short fiction, essays and interviews, from women at all stages of motherhood. Many are established writers and artists: others are new to the world of publishing. Some of them have been featured in Writer’s Block already, and more are to come.

So – if you are a mother, know someone who is, or have a mother (and let’s face it, most of us have at some point ;)), then this book will touch you, challenge you, confront you, and best of all, make you rethink the role of motherhood.

If anyone is looking for a book for the holidays – this could be the one for you. :)

Cover reveal! Milk of Female Kindness

Finally, I can reveal to the world the face of all our hard work over the last year! Drum roll please….

Here is the cover of our anthology of honest stories about motherhood - ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’.

MOFK COVER front final

The Anthology is a collection of the work of twenty-eight women from around the world, who have been brave enough to write honestly about their experiences of motherhood. I’d like to extend my most sincere thanks to all the contributors. It has been an honour working with such an inspiring group of people! :)

Unlike most other books on the subject, we have a creative focus – there is artwork, poetry, short fiction, essays and interviews.

The collection is deliberately diverse, in all senses. All stages of motherhood are reflected, and really the aim is to broaden the range of stories out there, and allow women to think for themselves what it means to be a mother, rather than relying on the shallow and market focused roles that the media might like to push us into. You may disagree with some of the work: others pieces will resonate with you. Whatever happens, it will make you think more deeply about being a parent.

The book will be released in paperback first, with e-book to follow soon after. Stay tuned for developments!

Guest post at the ‘Writer’s Shack’

1378419904

Guest post at the ‘Writer’s Shack’

I’m Guest Posting today over at ‘The Writer’s Shack‘ which is Riley Banks’ blog, with a bit of a grumble about Amazon. Riley makes a very pertinent comment on the post, about how non-US authors are treated. If enough people grumble, could it result in some changes to Amazon? You never know the strength of people power….

Matter of Opinion

I’m back at work now, which is odd. It’s rather like everyone has been in stasis for the year while so many things have changed in my own life.

There is one person who had some news for me though – he and his partner will be expecting a baby about the same time that my lad turns one. We had a chat about it over lunch one day, as even though he’s already a father, it’s been a long time since he had a baby around. And I’m embarrassed to say that I ended up giving him a bit of an ear bashing. Probably not guaranteed to win friends and influence people when you’re newly back into the fold.

What got me going was his attitude to having a baby. He started spouting opinions like “I think women who don’t breastfeed are just bottle feeding for their own convenience,” and “I don’t believe in sending a child to be cared for by strangers.” He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, and to express his thoughts about raising his own child,  but what got my back up is that both these positions cannot help but have serious implications for his partner, unless she tells him to go jump. If she shares them – fine. It seemed to me that he was making decisions for her which would affect her body, identity and career, and that’s not on in my book.

So I told him what I thought, and knew from other mothers I’d been speaking to. At length, although thankfully not at volume as I’m pretty quiet.

opinionated_people1256328679

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not always forcing my own ideas down other people’s throats, and I sincerely hope that he didn’t take it in that spirit. That said, when I was about nine, a woman came to the house to ask my mother’s opinions about development of our area. I had thoughts of my own, and let her know them. As she left, she said to my mother, “She’s very…articulate, isn’t she?” Mum decoded this euphemism to mean that I was highly opinionated.

Which leads me to ponder the different books I’ve worked on. My novel, ‘The Artemis Effect’, and the short story collection I’m working on are just fun for me. They’re escapism – a telling of the tales which bubble up in my head. But the Anthology, ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’ is different. It’s an honest account of motherhood – sharing the real story, from real women. Someone commented on this blog recently that there are strong parallels between my novel and the anthology, in that they both deal with some of the same issues. This is true, but more of a coincidence than anything else.

The Anthology is where my passionate, opinionated nature erupts forth. I am, as the lady years ago noted, at my most articulate when moved by a subject I care deeply about. It’s a very good thing that there are so many other women involved in ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’, as otherwise it could become my personal rant, and as I’m pretty new to this whole motherhood thing, that could end up being spectacularly ill-informed! It is deliberately diverse, so that we can all have a rant! :)

Hopefully, hearing the stories and opinions of so many different people will allow people reading the book to make up their own minds. It’s a complicated and often ambiguous area, and no-one should have to have a single person’s views forced upon them. Fingers crossed, the partner of my workmate will be thinking for herself.

Author profile: Jessica Kennedy

I’d like you to meet another one of the fabulous women who will be contributing to our Anthology ‘The Milk of Female Kindness – An Anthology of Honest Motherhood.’

Jessica Kennedy writes a terrific blog over at mamaconfessionals,where she writes honestly, and often with terrific humour, about her life and the ups and downs of bringing up three small children, the elder two of whom are identical twins: ‘the ladies.’

She says that Mama Confessionals was created on a feeling. A feeling of disconnect. A desire to feel as a part of a whole. Jessica says:

“I knew as a new mom I needed a space where I could come and know I was not alone on my journey. I wanted to feel and hear the other foot soldiers of motherhood. I wanted a space where my words were heard and someone would understand. I had a strong desired to hear ‘I know, me too!’ I needed a space to come online and find endurance, hope and connection. I wanted to be able to join together with marvelous women who fight their own battles everyday, to share our power and wisdom.

.

Three years ago, I was brutally introduced to motherhood. In January of 2010, I gave birth to identical twin girls. Chloe and Charlotte. The ladies, as I like to call them. I was not ready for them. I thought I was, but no one could have prepared me for twin infancy. It was beautiful, scary and far too revealing. This organic and honest version of myself came bubbling to the surface and she scared me. My chance at perfectionism was thrown away and my raw core was revealed, like an open wound. I was scared and felt extremely disconnected, so I began to blog. I took my long standing love for writing and began to share my words. I began to receive response from women I knew. They appreciated my thoughts, and felt the same way. Knowing that my words were being heard and others felt like me made my heart sing. I felt part of a community and my desire to feel connected was being satisfied.
.
When my girls were about to turn 2, I found out I was pregnant for the second time. In July of 2012, Canton was born. His sisters have lovingly named him Canty-boy. I am now the mama of three wildly amazing children. They smell of lavender, have hilarious one liners, smile like the whole world is looking and sometimes drive their mama crazy.
.
Somedays it is hard… really hard. But I always know that at some point  they will fall asleep and I can watch. I will be transfixed on the beauty of motherhood. I am able to watch their little chests rise up and down, their soft blond hair falling haphazardly all over their pillow, and their tiny fingers gripping their favorite nap time stuffy, and I know I am powerful. Their beauty is always prevalent, but in those moments of pure mama joy, I know I am beautiful and strong. I know I can do this. Our family is complete and I have since found my groove. I know that other mama’s feel similar to me. Desiring more connection, searching for a space to feel the power of ‘mama army’. I want to help create that space, filled with honest, truth and light for the powerful and ever changing mama. A space where we meet to create beautiful light and to be powerful together using our common experiences to flourish and simply be the best possible woman we were intended to be.
.
I wanted to contribute to this outstanding anthology to connect us with stories. I wanted to help tell the story of honest mother hood. We hide from the dark but only with the dark are we able to see the true spectacular beauty of the light. “
Jessica is planning to put together a book of poetry, built around words from children. It’s a terrific idea, and here is one of the poems. Enjoy!
.

Killing Them with Kindness.

The monster is coming.

Hide in the trees.

Waiting and waiting but not to be found.

I ask, Is he still here?

Yes.

We hide in the bush.

couched low to the ground, listening.

I ask again, Is he still here?

Yes.

We hide in his house.

A big wooded house.

It echos and creaks.

Surely we will hear the bedlam of this beast.

But only silence surrounds.

Is he still here?

No, she says.

I saved him.

He was a nice monster.

I kissed him.

Now he is gone.

copyright Jessica Kennedy, 2013

Title reveal! Our new Anthology

A little while ago, I discussed the search for a new name for an Anthology I’m putting together. It’s always a tricky process – finding something which captures the essence of a work, and balancing the temptation of an intriguingly obscure name with one which simply tells you what the book is about!

The Anthology is a collection of work – artwork, poetry, essay, short fiction and interviews – on the subject of honest motherhood. The real experience, in all it’s complexity, addressing the conflicts it raises for women, the changes in our lives, and also the rich variety of experiences that women have as mothers. We feel that the media discusses the issue in a simplistic and dumbed-down way, and we’re trying to expand the conversation about motherhood, and give us some new ways of thinking about it.

The name?

The Milk of Female Kindness – An Anthology of Honest Motherhood

Obscure? Hopefully not too much!

It comes from part of the screenplay of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’, in which Orlando and her lover Shelmerdine are discussing the implications of their gender roles.

Orlando: If I were a man…

Shelmerdine: You?

Orlando: I might choose not to risk my life for an uncertain cause. I might think that freedom won by death is not worth having. In fact…

Shelmerdine: You might choose not to be a real man at all. Say, if I were a woman…

Orlando: You?

Shelmerdine: I might choose not to sacrifice my life caring for my children, nor my children’s children, nor to drown anonymously in the milk of female kindness, but instead, say, to go abroad. Would I then be…

Orlando: A real woman?

Love to hear your thoughts! :)

 

Art dirtied by the mighty dollar

Image

In a reversal of the usual roles, yesterday I interviewed a psychiatrist. Perhaps it was novel for her: it was certainly informative for me. The interview will hopefully form part of the Anthology I’m working on, with many other writers from around the globe, on the subject of motherhood. It’s even tentatively acquired a title now (which I will post about another time), so it must be starting to resolve itself, like the image appearing gradually on photographic paper. I’ll just have to keep swirling it in the developing fluid of continued effort, and hopefully it will emerge as something beautiful.

Anyway, one slight stumbling block in the interview was her continued confusion as to what the Anthology was for, and whether it would be commercial. Had I looked at all the other works about motherhood out there? Was ours going to fill a niche? Would it be useful? What, in short, is the market?

I suppose that a more mercenary person would have considered these issues in more detail, but for me, to complete the project as well as I am able is actually enough. If I’m going to give it the self-aggrandising name of ‘Art’, then I think art can, and perhaps needs to, be created just for itself.

Not that I’m saying that I wouldn’t like it to be successful, but it feels like something that needs to happen regardless. One of the best rewards a writer can have, I feel, is to have people enjoy their work. In the case of this Anthology, we’re perhaps hoping even for some social change, by deepening and widening the discussions around the experience of motherhood. The current level of conversation on the subject in wider society seems to be at the moment at best trite, and at worst shallow and deceptive.

Anyway, the psychiatrist’s emphasis on the commercial viability of the project got me thinking. I’ve always been someone who writes and paints ‘just because’. It’s an outlet of my subconscious, which has taken me to some surprising and very varied places. I don’t have a consistent painting style, and perhaps that is a reflection that I am an amateur. But I also write about diverse subjects – few things could be further apart than this current Anthology and my novel, which is science fiction! Perhaps my brain would explode if I didn’t let this stuff out.

I’m aware that other writers do find a niche, research a market, and write accordingly, and no doubt many of them are more commercial successful than I am. In the case of non-fiction, that seems an entirely justified approach. But I wonder if that whole process doesn’t compromise the creativity of fiction writing. It feels to me a little manipulative: like having an ulterior motive to do a good deed. I read a great post over at the ‘the Writing Blues’ some time ago about how she might lose her real voice if she started to think too much about what her readers would like to hear.

I’d be very interested to hear what others think about this issue. Is creation of art for arts sake enough? Am I just naive? Does having a market in mind compromise your work?

The next big thing

Although I have been sadly remiss in letting this go, I was flattered, chuffed, humbled and generally pretty cheery to be tagged as one of the authors in ‘The Next Big Thing‘ by the very talented Marc Schuster, for my debut novel, ‘The Artemis Effect‘.

It’s a lovely way for us to share some of the books we have really enjoyed. Having spent some of this afternoon in the garden enjoying our gorgeous autumn weather, I can’t help but think of it in terms of the jungle, which my garden is increasingly resembling. Sometimes the big plants shade out the small, which may be especially lovely things, and this is perhaps a way of letting in a bit of light, and bringing them to other’s attention.

As presumably I can’t tag Marc Schuster’s ‘The Grievers’ back, much as I enjoyed it, I’d like to tag the following from my recent reading:

Fires of Justice‘Fires of Justice’ by Sabrina Garie. This is an erotic romance, but with a fun and highly cohesive fantasy element. It is, in short, a romp and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who needs to escape, in te words of Tom Lehrer, ‘their drab, wretched lives.’

516e0fAdt4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-52,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

 

‘Rich Pickings for Ravens‘ by Tom Conrad. A truly unusual and funny who-dunnit, starting with the lead character’s death, and his subsequent quest to find out who killed him, and why.

 

‘Ththe-jpeg-of-graves-3_desolation-ware Prince of Graves’ by W.E. Linde. In the tradition of Tolkien, this fantasy novella is the first part of what will be a truly epic trilogy of books. Amazing battle scenes by an author who obviously loves the genre.

 

 

I look forward to seeing their recommendations, and also your opinions of these books if you’ve also been lucky enough to give them a go! :)

The faulty magic of spellchecker

magic wandIn my limited free time, I’ve been reading a novel by an Indie author on my Kindle, and although the story is fine, I have to say that I am finding it just a tad irritating. Although we turn out books often with no budget and very limited returns, I think Indie authors still really need to do their best to make sure that the book reads just as well as one produced by a commercial publisher. In this case, the spelling is driving me bonkers! It really interrupts the flow of a passage when you have to stop and decide whether the author is getting a bit funky with a metaphor, or if they have just bungled the spelling.

This book has not only the ubiquitous ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’, but also walking across a sandy ‘dessert’, and lifting his ‘shinning’ knife. Ouch! I can understand how the proofreader would have missed ‘mummer’ for ‘murmur’.

I’m not saying that my own work is perfect – every time I reread it I seem to find something which makes me cringe – but sometimes it seems as if people are relying on the computer’s spellchecker alone. Unfortunately, nothing replaces human eyes for picking up these bloopers. In an early draft of my novel, a character entered through the French ‘widow’ (window), which was rather unfortunate for both of them!

Enough ranting for now. I’ll calm down and keep reading, and perhaps you can join me in Visualising Whirled Peas.