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. 🙂

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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!

Writer profile: Judith Field

‘The Milk of Female Kindness – an Anthology of Honest Motherhood’ is a collection of poetry, artwork, short stories, essays and interviews by women from all around the world. In putting together the Anthology, it’s been a real privilege getting to know some of these fabulous women, and today I’d like to introduce you to Judith Field, one of our contributing authors.

Judith Field was born in Liverpool and lives in London. She is the daughter of writers, and learned how to agonise over fiction submissions at her mother’s (and father’s) knee. After not writing anything more creative than a shopping list for about 30 years, she made a new year resolution in 2009 to start writing and get published within the year. Pretty soon she realised how unrealistic that was but, in fact, it worked: she got a slot to write a weekly column in a local paper shortly before Christmas of 2009 and that ran for a several years. She still writes occasional feature articles for the paper.

She has two daughters, a son, a granddaughter and a grandson (who inspired her first published story when he broke her laptop keyboard. Unlike in the story, a magical creature didn’t come out of the laptop and fix her life). Her fiction, mainly speculative, has appeared in a variety of publications, mainly in the USA. She speaks five languages and can say, “Please publish this story” in all of them. Some examples can be found here:

http://www.loreleisignal.com/Reboot.html

http://loreleisignal.com/Music.html

http://www.sorceroussignals.com/ShoeFits.html

http://www.untiedshoelacesofthemind.com/Issue7/theman.php

http://www.iridumsound.co.uk/magazines/issue.php?issue_id=16 (page 53)

http://www.fictionontheweb.co.uk/2013/04/sport-of-kings-by-judith-field.html

http://www.fictionontheweb.co.uk/2012/11/diva-by-judith-field.html

http://www.fictionontheweb.co.uk/2013/02/for-old-times-sake-by-judith-field.html

http://www.fabulaargentea.com/and-then-there-were-three/

http://lunastationquarterly.com/issue-014/prototype

She is also a pharmacist, freelance journalist, editor, medical writer, and indexer. She blogs at http://www.millil.blogspot.com.

riotwombles

Personally, I think you have to visit her blog, just to find out more about the phrase:

“My experience of sex shops is also lacking. I have only been in a sex shop once, in 1976, and I was dressed as a Womble.” 🙂

Golden Flash

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I weep for my race. Mute, ancient, unseen, we are slowly plucked from the earth. A tortuous, babbling end to fine minds.

Through an eternity we have watched the stars turn, traced the perfection of their mathematical arcs, wondered at creation. We had all the time in and of the Universe to think – we thought.

Being our planet, lodged and rooted in the rocks, we are a geological race; our synapses golden, nerves of bright copper. Blind to one another, we are yet vibrantly aware of our companions. Slow discussions through the ages: philosophy, poetry and sweet pure mathematics.

Now all that is changed, in a flicker of men faster than the flash of a super-nova. No more than a prickle at first, an itch on our skin, they scampered about in their frenetic, pitiful way, and we paid them no mind.

Then one of our minds started to fade, its golden neurons thoughtlessly mined away, descending into nonsense and confusion. We weep for that mind, and yet cannot assist, cannot prevent the erosion of our people.

The scars of men’s building and digging spread unchecked across our face, myopically delighting in their unfound riches.

If they slow their scrabbling and scratching long enough to consider the current of our pulsed and electric thoughts, will compassion outweigh greed?

Shedding skin

My novel, ‘The Artemis Effect’, is now out there in the big bad world, and ever so slowly, reviews have been trickling in. Some have been good, a few great, and one or two stinkers. I’m really grateful to all those people who have taken their time to read it, and to those who didn’t enjoy the experience, I’m sorry.

Thankfully, there have been far more drop into the good basket than the bad. I suppose that that’s about par for the course: when you look up reviews of any of the books you love (or hate), there will be other people with different opinions. Obviously people are entitled to have their own thoughts about a work. Sometimes it just isn’t their cup of tea (or whatever other warm beverage) : sometimes it seems as if they haven’t really understood it.

However, I have found that my attitude to these reviews has changed. When the book was newly born and still damp and fragile, I confess that I was gutted if I got a less than glowing review. Call me overly sensitive perhaps, but when you spend that long writing something, polishing and honing until you think it is as good as you can make it, then when someone comes along with their boots on and gives it a good kicking, it hurts.

Thayers_or_variable_king_snake_shedding_its_skin

Now, however, I won’t say that I’m overjoyed with a dubious review, but for some reason it is less painful. I think it’s because my focus has moved on to other projects, which are absorbing all my intellectual energy. I’m working on my own short story collection, and also on compiling a themed anthology. The anthology will hopefully be very diverse, with short stories, essays, poetry, interviews and artwork from women around the world. Both these projects feel intense and demanding of my time, glowing bright, where my novel feels more like cooling embers. It is fading more into the past, finished rather than growing.

The best way I can to describe it is rather like a snake shedding its skin. I can feel that the skin used to fit tightly, that I filled it to the best of my ability at that time, but now I am growing into another. Hopefully it will be more intricately patterned and intriguing than the last.

All aboard the Omnibus!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about my next big project, which will be a collection of short stories. I’m probably at least half way through, with planning done for another 25%. I’ve been mistakenly calling it my Anthology, but apparently that term refers more accurately to a collection of works by different authors. What I’m working on is more properly an Omnibus, but that sounds rather cumbersome and lumbering to me.

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Could this be a Steampunk Omnibus?

A few things I’ve discovered so far:

  • It should be about the same word count as a novel (70K+)
  • Arguably, it should follow a ‘tent’ structure, leading and finishing with the strongest stories, and with another strong story in the middle like a tent pole.
  • The whole should be greater than the sum of its parts: stories should be organised to complement and bounce off one another.
  • Variety is a good thing, but there does need to also be some kind of unifying theme.

All well and good so far. The theme issues does bother me a little, in that my stories are sometimes scifi, sometimes bordering on fantasy, and sometimes just plain quirky (as you may know if you’ve read any of the free published works out there – see my Publications page for links). At the same time, I don’t particularly want to force the production of stories in a particular area to make them fit some contrived theme, so I think I’ll just keep writing the stories which I’d like to tell, and then perhaps discard those which are the sore thumbs of the collection.

I’d love to discuss with anyone out there their thoughts on short story collections.

Do you find it necessary to have a theme? Do you agree with the ‘tent structure’ theory? When reading short story collections, do you dip in, or read them from start to finish (the album vs. the single I suppose, in music terms).

Passionate about Short Fiction

Here is the latest in the series of Guest Posts from fellow bloggers on the subject of Passion, whether literary or personal, which I’ll be posting regularly on a Thursday. If you would like to contribute, please drop me a line at kasia_oz (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Today, Michael Haynes joins us to discuss his passion for writing short fiction: a passion I have come to share! Michael not only blogs about his dedication to writing every day, but also about his incredibly prolific and varied publications at Michael Haynes – A Writing Blog.

Hope you enjoy Michael’s Passion Post.

Lately, when I’ve been writing up biographies for myself for websites or publications, I’ve been more and more likely to mention that I’m an “ardent” reader and writer of short fiction. And one of the synonyms for “ardent” is “passionate”, so when Kasia asked me to write about something I’m passionate about, short fiction seemed like a natural fit!

There was a time when writers could conceivably make some kind of living from writing, at least primarily, short fiction. Writers for the glossy or “slick” magazines like F. Scott Fitzgerald and O. Henry were able to command per-word rates for their fiction which are rare today for even the most prestigious publications. On the other end of the scale, there was such a large demand for fiction for the pulps relative to the number of writers that people who were prolific enough could earn a good bit of money for the time even at a penny a word.

Those days are, for the most part, gone. There may only be one writer living today (Harlan Ellison) who can say they’ve made a living writing primarily short stories. There’s been a small renaissance in online science fiction and fantasy short fiction markets. There are probably more markets that pay “professional” rates for SF/F now than there have been in quite a while. Even so, it would be quite a challenge to make enough sales per year to even those markets to earn a living.

And yet, I put almost all of my writing and reading time into short fiction. Why is that? It’s because it’s what I love. When I was a youngster in the 1980s, I collected anthologies of short fiction, new and old. And every time I’ve taken up writing, I’ve gravitated toward writing short stories. I enjoy the way that the form encourages writers to strip away unnecessary elements. It also makes it less risky to experiment with different styles and methods of storytelling. A failed experiment for a 2,000 word short story results in much less unfruitful effort than a failed experiment with a novel.

I’ll never get rich writing short fiction. I’ll never get famous for it, either. But it’s what I love to read and what I love to write. Might I try to write and publish novels in the future? Well, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. But for now, short stories are what I’m passionate about and where I choose to devote my literary energy.

You can follow Michael’d blog at: http://michael-haynes.blogspot.com.au/

A passion for New Worlds

Today, the latest in the series Guest Posts from fellow bloggers on the subject of Passion, whether literary or personal, which I’ll be posting regularly on a Thursday. If you would like to contribute, please drop me a line at kasia_oz (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Today we have an inspirational post from Matt Williams at Stories by Williams, who blogs about writing, fascinating new developments in science, and everything else sci fi! I understand that if you are interested, there may still be some spots available for stories in the Yuva Anthology, so please contact Matt at his terrific and always informative blog Stories by Williams.

Hope you enjoy Matt’s Passion Post.

A good friend of mine once told me how she dreamed her son would one day set foot on Mars. She lamented that, as an adult, he no longer entertained the same dreams of going into space as he had as a child. But to her, the dream was still alive. As she put it, “the awe­some­ness of our great uni­verse, of the chaotic ran­dom­ness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grate­ful for, and of how utterly minus­cule we peo­ple really are in the grand scheme of things,” were still things that intrigued her.

Immediately, I felt something growing within me. It was that same sense of child-like wonder I would feel anytime the something or someone reminded me of the true awe and wonder of universe and our place within it. I immediately recommended she write her thoughts down, and then added to that by saying we all needed to write something about space travel and base our next writing project on the subject. As fellow members of a writing group, this was sort of our thing. We were in the midst of compiling an anthology of science fiction and speculative writing, and were on the lookout for something new to write about.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Not only was Mars being featured in the news quite heavily, ever since Curiosity had finished the last leg of its journey and was beginning to land. What’s more, the passing of Ray Bradbury had also drawn my attention back to the venerated master after many years, not to mention what many considered to be his magnum opus, The Martian Chronicles. If possible, I wanted our work to capture the same spirit of his work, focusing on the lives of individuals, but also the larger issues of new frontiers, colonization, and what happens when one people are pushed aside to make way for another.

Immediately, friends of ours began to enlist, friends and colleagues who were part of the same writing group. They offered their ideas, their insights, and their research skills to help our group find a suitable location to write about, as well as other details we knew were going to come up. In addition to embracing all the philosophical, moral and spiritual implications, we wanted a narrative that was based on hard science as much as possible. We also wanted our story, even though it was inspired by the works of other great writers, to be original in its outlook. Hence, the people in our story would not be going to Mars, the Moon, or Alpha Centauri. Instead, they would be going to Gliese 581, to the fourth planet from the red dwarf which NASA scientists believe to be the most Earth-like planet in our corner of the Galaxy.

After several months of writing, recruiting, and imagining, our story has really begun to take shape. And to think, it all began in the imagination of a mother and her son. But then again, that’s how the best ideas are born, aren’t they? They begin as germs of curiosity and fascination, and eventually grow to become articulated visions. And finally, they strike a chord with readers, igniting their imaginations by sharing that same sense of awe and wonder that inspired the idea in the first place. And that’s precisely what we set out to accomplish. Only time will tell if we were successful…

Halloween story update

On Monday, I posted about a Halloween short story of mine, which is available free on Ether, called ‘Balancing Darkness’.

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, when I posted, it wasn’t there! Sorry to anyone who tried to download it.

It is now up and running, and available on the Ether Books App. There are 61 other stories, so maybe go and have a browse and see which ones you like best!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. 🙂

A Halloween treat (this is not a trick!)

Today, Ether Books are publishing a whole host of Halloween short stories for your delectation.

One of them, ‘Balancing Darkness’ is by yours truly. It tells the story of what happens when a suicide bomber meets an all consuming alien, disguised as a sweet little black cat. Silly? Well, yes, possibly. Hopefully enjoyable. I’d love to know what you think of it! 🙂

If you have an iPhone, iPad or other device by which you can download Apps, Ether Books is free, as are all the Halloween stories, and many many more. There are actually a few of my other stories up there too – Perpendicularity, Transparency, and The Observer.

Please check them out!