GUEST BLOG: Five Things I Learnt From Editing Mothermorphosis (by Monica Dux)

The importance of valuing the hard work of writers.

The effort that goes into good short form writing is frequently undervalued. People often imagine that all it takes is for someone to come up with an idea, sit down and type out an essay, run a spell check, then deliver their work.

Of course writing a strong essay is so much more than this; for most of us it’s a long and arduous process, from conception to execution, involving an enormous amount of thought, re-writing, re-thinking, editing and polishing. The net result of all this labour is to submerge the effort that was required, making the finished piece read as if it really was easy and effortless.

All the writers who contributed to this collection were professional, and the quality of work reveals how much time and thought they put into their pieces. This is a collection that relied on the good will of its contributors, so I was profoundly grateful for their efforts.

That every mother really does have an important story to tell.

Susan Carland, one of the contributors in Mothermorphosis, wrote in her essay “My unique tale is just the same as yours”.

In the past I’ve thought a lot about this tension, but it became more pronounced for me when reading the contributions. Every mother has her own unique story to tell, but there are also so many things that bind us all, so much that is universal. It’s a fascinating contradiction.

As an editor, it’s amazing how good a prompt, polite decline can make you feel.

There were a few women I invited to contribute to this book who weren’t able to write something for the collection but who declined the offer quickly and graciously. Getting such rejections felt almost as valuable as having a writer come back saying they’d be happy to contribute.

I’m often invited to participate in projects that I don’t have the time or resources for. Editing Mothermorphosis was a timely reminder about the importance of being polite and positive about such offers, even if you are unable to be involved.

Editing is fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting the collection together. Instead of having to angst over my own work, I was able to luxuriate in the excellent work of other writers.

It was a real privilege facilitating this book, especially knowing that we are hoping to raise awareness for PANDA, the Post and Antenatal Depression Association. I feel that not only will the collection be enjoyed by many people, but it also has the potential to contribute to an organisation for which I have immense admiration.

That it’s hard to write an introduction for a collection that you’ve edited.

It took me a long time to get my introduction right. When you’re a contributor you can follow your own path, writing in relative isolation. By comparison, introducing a collection requires you to strike a peculiar sort of balance. To be interesting and engaging, without dominating. To showcase the individual essays in the collection, without simply name checking the various contributors. To write something that contextualises the work and draws out the underlying themes, without resorting to empty generalisations. In the end I hope I managed to pull it off, although I’ll leave it to the readers to decide!

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

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mduxmug-edit-smaller1Monica Dux is a columnist with The Age, a social commentator and author of Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting), and co-author of The Great Feminist Denial.

She can be heard regularly on ABC radio and 3RRR, and has published widely, especially on women’s issues.

You can find Monica on twitter at @monicadux

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mothermorphosisMothermorphosis

Australia’s Best Storytellers Write About Becoming a Mother

In Mothermorphosis , some of Australia’s most talented writers and storytellers share their own experiences of motherhood. In telling their stories they articulate the complex internal conflicts, the exhilaration and the absurdity of the transformation that takes place when we become mothers. We read about the yearning for a child, the private and public expressions of maternal love, the questioning, uncertainty and unexpected delight, as well as unfathomable loss.

Mothermorphosis reveals that there is no ‘right’ version of this epic experience and no single tale that could ever speak for all mothers. Yet it is in reading about other women’s experiences and dash;the hard bits, the joyous bits and even the ridiculous bitsandmdash;that we can become more compassionate, not just to other mothers but hopefully to ourselves.

Mothermorphosis includes writing from: Kate Holden, Kathy Lette, Lorelei Vashti, Rebecca Huntley, George McEnroe, Fatima Measham, Jo Case, Hilary Harper, Cordelia Fine, Jane Caro, Hannah Robert, Susan Carland, Kerri Sackville, Catherine Deveny, Lee Kofman and Dee Madigan.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

Author Josephine Moon talks about her favourite chocolate recipe!

My favourite chocolate recipe: chocolate beetroot cake…

This recipe comes from The Saffron Girl.

10947253_422641974566135_8175922899149544241_oI talk about chocolate a lot. I think about it a lot. And, yes, I even eat it a lot. But what I’ve learned while doing research for The Chocolate Promise, is that you need to know how to eat it in order to get all the great health benefits without all the fat and sugar nastiness that comes with so much of the commercial confectionary on the market.

In this recipe, I take two of my favourite foods—chocolate and cake—add some awesome beetroot and get a delicious, healthy indulgence.

But before we get to the recipe, let’s take a quick look at where chocolate comes from.

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This is a fruit pod from Theobroma Cacao. Inside the pod are flesh-covered beans, and inside the beans are the cacao nibs. And that’s from where we derive cacao, which is fermented, dried and roasted, and artisans then combine it in varying quantities with cocoa butter, some sort of sweetener, and perhaps vanilla or other flavours.
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In its most natural state, cacao is ridiculously good for you, containing a plethora of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and a whopping great load of antioxidants—twice those found in red wine and three times that of green tea.

The problem is that most of what we know as ‘chocolate’ is really just cocoa-flavoured fat and sugar. Bummer! To get the absolute best out of chocolate, you need be consuming high-quality fare of at least 70% cacao.

Better yet, just do what I like to do and put raw cacao powder in whatever you can manage! Smoothies, goodie balls, cakes… go for it!

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So, here is my chocolate beetroot cake. In the first picture, it is still in the making while in the food processor. Look how amazingly red it is! You know it’s good for you when it’s naturally red. Just like tomatoes and red wine, beetroot is full of fantastic cancer-fighting properties because of that red colour.

Red beetroot + chocolate = awesome!

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And here it is out on a plate, with a sprinkle of coconut and a sprig of lavender (because lavender is my thing—seriously, I will put it in everything given half the chance).

My tips for this recipe:

Measure the beetroot accurately (otherwise it can turn out runny if you use too much) and watch it carefully as it’s baking. Anytime I’ve made it, it needs much longer in the oven than the recipe suggests. Every oven is different so use your best judgment.

Also, it goes really well with coconut milk yoghurt and grated dark chocolate on top for decoration.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

•    3 cups of grated, cooked beetroots
•    4 eggs
•    1/2 cup olive oil
•    1/2 cup raw honey
•    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
•    1 teaspoon baking soda
•    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•    1/2 cup raw 100% cacao powder
•    1/3 cup coconut flour (for a slightly fluffier and dryer cake, use 1/2 cup coconut flour)*

Process

1    Preheat oven to 170C (350F).
2    In a food processor or blender, beat the beetroots, eggs and olive oil.
3    Add the honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt and spices. Blend well.
4    Add the cacao powder and coconut flour and mix until well incorporated.
5    Pour into a greased cake pan of choice. I used a 9-inch diameter tart pan.
6    Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7    Cool completely before cutting and serving. Garnish as desired.


MoonThe Chocolate Promise

by Josephine Moon

For a limited time only, order a copy of The Chocolate Promise and get a free copy of My Little Chocolate Book. *Please note: offer available while stocks last and limit one free copy per order.

From Tasmania to Paris and beyond, an enchanting story of the proprietor of a specialist chocolate shop who must learn that some rules are meant to be broken – this real-life fairy godmother must learn to find her own magic. The new novel for readers who love Cathy Kelly and Monica McInerney from the bestselling author of The Tea Chest.

Christmas Livingstone has ten rules for happiness, the most important of which is ‘absolutely no romantic relationships’.

In The Chocolate Apothecary, her more…

Grab a copy of The Chocolate Promise here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The 2015 Vogel’s Literary Award winner Murray Middleton in conversation with John Purcell

Melbourne author Murray Middleton was announced the winner of the coveted Vogel’s Literary Award on Monday night for his exquisite short story collection When There’s Nowhere Else To Run.

The award, which offers publication by Allen & Unwin and $20,000 prize money, has been the launching pad for some of Australia’s most successful writers including Tim Winton, Kate Grenville and Gillian Mears.

We were spoiled with a visit from Murray to chat about his win and sign copies of his breathtaking debut. Check out the video below.

 

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When There’s Nowhere Else to Run – Vogel Winner 2015

by Murray Middleton

For a limited time only, order When There’s Nowhere Else to Run and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

The winner of the 2015 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award.

‘Masterfully controlled … lingers long in the memory.’ Rohan Wilson, author of The Roving Party and To Name Those Lost.

In one way or another, isn’t everyone on the run?

A survivor of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires takes asylum with old friends in the Dandenong Ranges. An editor-in-chief drives his sister halfway around the country to an east-coast rehabilitation clinic. A single mother flies to Perth with her autistic son for one last holiday. A father at the end of his tether tries to survive the chaos of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. A group of young friends hire a luxury beach house in the final weeks of one of their lives. A postman hits a pedestrian and drives off into the night.

When There’s Nowhere Else to Run is a collection of stories about people who find their lives unravelling. They are teachers, lawyers, nurses, firemen, chefs, gamblers, war veterans, hard drinkers, adulterers, widows and romantics. Seeking more…

Grab a copy of When There’s Nowhere Else to Run here


middleton-200x0Murray Middleton was born with fractured hips in 1983. He spent the first three months of his life in plaster and has broken most bones since. He won The Age Short Story Award in 2010 with ‘The Fields of Early Sorrow’. When There’s Nowhere Else to Run is his first published collection of short stories. He currently lives in Melbourne and won’t publish a second collection of stories until the Saints win a second premiership.

The 2015 Stella Prize awarded to Emily Bitto!

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Tuesday night saw Melbourne writer Emily Bitto take out the Stella Prize for her incredible novel The Strays.

The Stella Prize, which Booktopia was honoured to be a major sponsor of, is fast becoming one of the most prestigious awards on the literary calendar, celebrating Australian women’s writing.

The prize is named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria Sarah ‘Miles’ Franklin, and was awarded for the first time in 2013. Both nonfiction and fiction books by Australian women are eligible for entry.

 

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the-straysThe Strays – The Stella Prize 2015 Winner

by Emily Bitto

In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists. They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan. At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena’s daughter Eva.

Lily is infatuated by the world she bears witness to, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family. As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

Grab a copy of The Strays here


emily bittoEmily Bitto lives in Melbourne. She has a Masters in literary studies and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, where she is also a sessional teacher and supervisor in the creative writing program. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Heat, Harvest, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Literary Review. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

BREAKING NEWS: 2015 Australian Book Industry Award shortlists announced!

The shortlists for the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards have just been announced!

Voted on by some of Australia’s most influential readers, publishers and booksellers, the awards also feature a collection of new prizes, headlined by the Matt Richell Award for Best New Writer.

Agree with the judges? Tell us in the comments below…

General Fiction Book of the Year

Laurinda by Alice Pung

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett

The Golden Age by Joan London

Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

Amnesia by Peter Carey

General Non-fiction Book of the Year

The Bush by Don Watson

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World by Tim Low

Gallipoli by Peter Fitzsimons

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner

Biography Book of the Year

Never, Um, Ever Ending Story by Molly Meldrum

Love Your Sister by Connie Johnson and Samuel Johnson

Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action by Bob Brown

A Bone of Fact by David Walsh

My Story by Julia Gillard

Older Children (age range 8 to 14 years)

Clariel by Garth Nix

Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell

Alice-Miranda in Japan by Jacqueline Harvey

Brotherband 5: Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan

Friday Barnes 1: Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Younger Children (age range 0 to 8 years)

Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

Mr Chicken Lands on London by Leigh Hobbs

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Clementine Rose and the Seaside Escape by Jacqueline Harvey

The Last King of Angkor Wat by Graeme Base

Illustrated Book of the Year

What a Croc! by NT News

New Feast by Greg And Lucy Malouf

Community by Hetty Mckinnon

Australian Art: A History by Sasha Grishin

Anzac Treasures by Peter Pedersen

International Book of the Year

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Matt Richell Award for New Writer

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa

Are you a winner of 1 of 6 Fiona McCallum packs? Take a leap of faith!

In celebration of the release of Fiona McCallum’s book Leap of Faith, we gave customers the opportunity to win 1 of 6 Fiona McCallum packs, containing Paycheque and Nowhere Else. All you had to do to enter was order a copy of Leap of Faith by April 6th!

…and the winners are:

D.Willis, Booborowie, SA
L.Hicks, Neuarpurr, VIC
B.Taber, Riverstone. NSW
J.McDonald, Echunga, SA
M.Park, Geilston Bay, TAS
L.Pickles, Coleraine, VIC


leap-of-faithLeap of Faith

by Fiona McCallum

The highly anticipated new novel from beloved Australian writer Fiona McCallum.

Jessica Harrington is a promising horse rider who dreams of representing her country. But the recent death of her father her coach and mentor has left her doubting her ability to continue in the sport. When she fails at the Adelaide International Horse Trials her fears are confirmed and her world begins to fall apart.

Unable to bear seeing her well bred, highly trained horses languishing in the paddock, she makes the snap decision to sell. She’s broken her own heart, but can’t see any other way – now she will just have to focus on a life without them. Her husband Steve and best friend Tiffany, however, can see through her bravado.

Jessica is dismayed when Steve brings home a horse from a clearing sale, a horse so skinny and forlorn he just couldn’t leave it behind. Unwilling to be drawn back into the world of horses, she/s reluctant to get involved. But when a summer thunderstorm brings on a life or death emergency, she finds she underestimated the heart of one little horse. Can Jessica put her trust in Faith?

 

Grab a copy of Leap of Faith here


Congratulations to the winners!
Not a winner? Don’t worry, we have more prizes to giveaway! You could win an awesome Mother’s Day gift. Check them out here.

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VIDEO: Lauren Sams on the inspiration behind her new book She’s Having Her Baby

Lauren Sams began her career at Cosmopolitan before moving to Girlfriend as deputy editor. She’s now back at Cosmo as Associate Editor and Managing Editor of Cosmopolitan Bride. She writes for Elle, Marie Claire and Sunday Style, and her work regularly appears on dailylife.com.au. She chats to Elizabeth Earl about her new novel She’s Having Her Baby.

she-s-having-her-babyShe’s Having Her Baby

by Lauren Sams

Georgie Henderson doesn’t want to have kids, but her best friend, Nina Doherty, has wanted to have a baby for as long as she can remember. Sadly, Nina’s uterus refuses to cooperate. One drunken evening, Nina asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would she carry a baby for her? Georgie says yes . . . and spends the next nine months discovering what she’s got herself into.

With intense bacon-and-egg roll cravings, a foundering friendship and distant memories of what her feet look like, Georgie also tries to keep it all together in her dream job as the editor of Jolie, a magazine whose readership is shrinking as fast as Georgie’s waist is expanding.

She’s Having Her Baby is an entertaining story about pregnancy, dating and modern parenting, and – ultimately – the indomitable power of female friendship.

Grab a copy of She’s Having Her Baby here

 

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