Mother's Milk Books Blog

Behind the scenes at Mother's Milk

Launching 'Hearth' at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Last Sunday, Sarah JamesAngela Topping and I arrived at The Playhouse in Cheltenham to launch their pamphlet of poetry duets, Hearth. Although we had a small audience (the clash with Wenlock Poetry Festival no doubt decreasing numbers) they were a great audience. They listened to Sarah and Angela’s poetry reading with appreciation, and then afterwards the Q&A discussion about creative collaboration, motherhood and how to find time to write amidst busy family life was lively; in fact, we nearly ran over our allotted time slot!

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Writing Prize update and other news

It seems to have been a very long time since I managed to write a post for this blog, but as most of you probably know I’ve been very, very busy! The busyness has been very positive though – some of it has been to do with the Writing Prize, and some of it has been to do with the new website (I hope it looks sufficiently stylish?!) and of course some of the busyness has been to do with the next book we’re publishing: The Forgotten and the Fantastical.

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Cue long pause and me thinking… (the random thoughts of a publisher)

When a friend recently asked me what was involved in publishing, it took me a fair while to reply.

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On bulbs and potential...

When we went to the LLLGB Conference last October we received a lovely goody bag, and one of the gifts inside was a bulb. When we returned home my daughter and I planted it. The other day (before we got all this snow) we checked on the flowerpot where we had planted it and we could see a small spike of the palest green peeking out of the soil. It had already shooted!

We are now looking forward to watching it grow and bloom, and wondering what colour the flower will be…

Bulbs are pretty amazing since they can survive, grow and flower with very little from the surrounding environment. To begin with, they only really need water, and once they start shooting they will utilize carbon dioxide and sunlight in the process of photosynthesis to produce more food for themselves (glucose) and of course oxygen, without which they (or we) couldn’t live.*

Bulbs have a great energy store within them, and viewed from a poet-philosopher’s eye, great potential… rather like humans. Within each of us we carry the great potential to create; whether it be the creation of a family, an enriching relationship, a piece of art or writing, a felt toy or a tasty home-cooked meal… even a clean bathroom or a tidy shelf! We need very little to create something beautiful: a little time, a few materials (or some basic skills) along with some encouraging words.

When I had the germ of an idea for Mother’s Milk Books way back in spring 2011 I had no idea of how it would develop, and I’ve been so proud to watch it grow in its own unique way — slowly, but with great determination! I have loved seeing its first flower Musings on Mothering blossom, and I’m looking forward to seeing how other possible projects develop…

Although I am brimming over with ideas of what to work on next, I am conscious of the fact that there are constraints to me being able to fulfill these ideas: namely time and money (alas, this is one of the few necessities for book production!). But I am rich in encouraging words.

So I plan to take things slowly… do what I can in the moments between looking after my little ones and spending precious time with family and loved ones.

I will have faith that like the flower bulb my daughter and I planted last year, growth – and the continuance of life and creativity — is inevitable. A flower will blossom: I don’t know when, or what form or colour the flower will be. But it will happen.

Thank you and best wishes to all those who have supported me so far. A very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

*Apologies to any plant biologists out there in case my explanation of photosynthesis lacks any crucial details. I am after all, a mere chemist… ;-)

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Remember the chocolate with the breastfeeding image?

It’s been a long time since I was given the bar of chocolate with the beautiful painting by Stanislaw Wyspianski on the packet. His painting depicts a mother breastfeeding her child; a completely normal scene. Yet a beautiful scene.

I was very pleased to receive the chocolate – ah the perks of publishing! – but I promised myself I wouldn’t eat it until Musings on Mothering was published. I hesitated for a long while, but finally found a good time to use (and indulge myself – and others – with) this lovely chocolate.

My daughter’s school was fundraising for Children in Need last Friday – and they asked for parents to bake cakes. Aha, I thought! So I decided to turn the chocolate into a creamy ganache and use it atop the fairy cakes I made. Here is the result: and by pure chance I photographed the cake on our cake/biscuit tin, which funnily enough portrays another beautiful image: Summer Evening on the Skagen Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Kroyer, 1893, by Peder Kroyer.

Oh, and the cakes were tasty!

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