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. πŸ™‚

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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.” πŸ™‚

Are we aliens?

alien-life-1Are we aliens?

If you’re looking for something to change your perspective on things, take the time to read this article. Not only have they found organic life in space, they think that all life on Earth may have originated from space. Curiously, I wrote a short story on this basis a while ago, but now it looks like it might be true after all.

We’re aliens after all. Great thought for a Friday. πŸ™‚

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?

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).

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. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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!

 

Book review: The Illustrated Man

I have a confession to make.

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never read any Ray Bradbury. I saw a lot of the blog posts when he died in June this year, and was impressed by the depth of affection and respect readers of sci-fi held for him, but was immune to the tide of weeping and wailing. However, I saw that it was high time that I remedied this deficiency in my education.

For anyone out there as ignorant as I, the premise of ‘The Illustrated Man’ is that an unfortunate carnival performer is tattooed by a witch from the future. The tattoos, although of great beauty, all move at night, each telling its own tale. And on his back is a place left free of adornment, in which you will see your own future…

The book is a collection of 16 short stories, all quite different, loosely threaded together by the idea that they all are represented on the body of the tattooed performer. They vary from dark and hopeless (Kaleidoscope, which describes what goes through men’s minds as they fall through space to their deaths), to social commentary (The Other Foot, in which racism has been allowed to prevail to the extent that black and white people live on different planets), to the faintly ridiculous, although still menacing (The Veld, where lions created by a cyber-nursery eat parents).

One of the stories which has particularly stuck with me personally is The Long Rain. It so painfully and accurately describes the mental anguish that men on Venus undergo as it never, ever stops raining. Their hair and skin become bleached with the relentless water, and as they trudge along, lost, they are unable to sleep with the rain drumming on their skulls. When they finally find refuge, a Sun Dome, it is smashed, and the rain beats in where it should be dry and warm.

The lieutenant felt the cold rain on his cheeks and on his neck and on his moving arms. The cold was beginning to seep into his lungs. He felt the rain on his ears, on his eyes, on his legs.

‘I didn’t sleep last night,’ he said.

‘Who could? Who has? When? How many nights have we slept? Thirty nights, thirty days! Who can sleep with rain slamming their head, banging away…I’d give anything for a hat. Anything at all, just so it wouldn’t hit my head any more.”

‘The Illustrated Man’ was first published in 1952, and the stories do read as being ‘of their time’. That is, they are beautifully written and crafted, and don’t rely a great deal on hard science facts, as we understand them today. There are a few spots where the representation of women is a little dated, as you might expect, but no so badly that it is offensive to a modern reader.

After a couple ofΒ  stories, Bradbury drops the pretence of stringing the stories together with tattoos, and we don’t hear of the Illustrated Man again until the (somewhat predictable) Epilogue.

I suppose what I’m really interested in, as someone working on an anthology of stories, is whether this device works? Do we need an overarching theme to bring a group of stories together? I seem to recall once reading a collection of stories which linked them all with a map.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Flash fiction – Time and Space

Inspired by onehundredthousandwords blog, I thought I’d try my hand at a little bit of flash fiction. This story is inspired by the land around Richmond in Queensland, where they have been finding the most amazing dinosaur bones (Mutaburrasaurus, ichthyosaurs, Giant Turtles etc) for some time.

Please let me know what you think! πŸ™‚

The road to Richmond, Qld.

He was a man steeped in space. Eyes forever focussed on the horizon, he walked with long strides through the short, stiff wheat stalks.
Tha land and the man were united in their minimalism. Long lean limbs, thin topsoil, no unnecessary curves. Fence posts perspective the land like his steps.

Patrolling the expanse one day, the man notices something different in the soil. A punctuation mark on the plain. He squats, the sweat beading on the back of his scorched neck, scratches with a stick.

His broad gaze is intensified as it narrows to the near-at-hand. Fingernails rasp on stone, dirt coats his palms and knees. Unmasked, a giant jawbone lies in the dirt, as unexpected and uncaring as a thunderstorm in the Dry.

A smile bends his thin, hard lips into an uncharacteristic curve, as his eyes return to the horizon. The land’s plentiful gifts: not just space, but time.

Free shorts on the Ether

Ether Books are a publisher with a fascinating model: they publish short stories on an App, which can be read either on an iPhone or iPad. I understand that they are also coming to Android soon. The idea is that they provide short stories for people on the go.

Best of all, I have had three stories accepted by them, two of which are completely free! They are called Transparency, Perpendicularity, and The Observer.

The latter of these is science fiction, but the first two are what they call ‘Feel Good Fiction’. You can find my stories by searching for my name (Kasia James) under ‘All Genres’.

If you’d like to check them out, please feel free – I’d love to know what you think of them!Β  πŸ™‚