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

Order Testament of Youth and receive a double pass to see it in Cinemas!

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In celebration of the release of Testament of Youth, which has been described by the Evening Standard as “Stunningly good…desperately moving”,  we are giving you a free double pass to see the film when you order a copy of the book.

Synopsis: Testament of Youth is a powerful story of love, war and remembrance, based on the First World War memoir by Vera Brittain, which has become the classic testimony of that war from a woman’s point of view. A searing journey from youthful hopes and dreams to the edge of despair and back again, it’s a film about young love, the futility of war and how to make sense of the darkest times.

Order Testament of Youth and receive a free double pass to see this breathtaking film on the big screen.


testament-of-youth-order-this-book-receive-a-free-double-pass-Testament of Youth

by Vera Brittain

A film tie-in edition of Vera Brittain’s classic autobiography, published to coincide with the major motion picture adaptation starring Dominic West, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan and Kit Harington.

In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the more…

Grab a copy of Testament of Youth here


Vera Brittain (1893-1970) grew up in the north of England. At the end of the war she moved to Oxford where she met Winifred Holtby, author of South Riding. poet-brittain.

30% OFF our entire Mother’s Day Gift Guide!

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It’s always hard trying to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift, so Booktopia has made it easy by selecting great books for every type of mum with our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, which right now has all the books and bobs at 30% off or more. It can’t last long though, get in before midnight April 23rd. Here’s just the very tip of the iceberg….


Love a True Story

boy-from-the-bush-signed-copies-available-Boy from the Bush

Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan

For a limited time only, order Boy from the Bush and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

‘This is my story. These are my songs.’

Lee Kernaghan is ‘The Boy From The Bush’, an iconic star and 2008 Australian of the Year whose music has shaped a generation of country music fans. For the first time, Lee steps off the stage and invites you behind the scenes, into the ute and over the rutted red dirt on a rollocking journey through his songs and the stories that inspired more…

Check out our entire Love a True Story collection here


Love From the Kids

Why I Love My Grandma : For grandmas everywhere, in children’s very own wordswhy-i-love-my-grandma

by Daniel Howarth (Illustrator)

‘I love my grandma because… ‘ Everyone’s grandma is the best. And who better to tell the world than children themselves? This charming book combines endearing things said by children about their grandmas with gentle illustrations of familiar animals. The text is amusing and insightful, with reasons why grandmas are loved by their children ranging from ‘because he says funny things’ to ‘because he makes every day special’.

With beautiful pictures and charming words from children – this is the more…

Check out our entire Love From the Kids collection here


Love Lavish

1001-paintings-you-must-see-before-you-die

1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die

by Stephen Farthing

1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die is the essential visual reference to the most sensational paintings around the world.

With more than 300,000 copies sold worldwide in 15 languages, this newly revised and updated edition of 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die brings you right up to date with an incisive look at the world’s best paintings. From Ancient Egyptian wallpaintings to contemporary Western canvases, this book is truly comprehensive in its scope and beautiful to leaf through. Within its pages you will see displayed 1001 of the most memorable, haunting, powerful, important, controversial and visually more…

Check out our entire Love Lavish collection here


Love to Cook

family-favouritesFamily Favourites

by Sally Wise

Tried and true recipes you’ll cook for the family every day

Sally Wise, author, home chef, cooking school teacher and mother to six children, is an expert at rustling up delicious, nutritious and fuss-free food. Her books have become national bestsellers and she has taught a legion of fans how to get the best out of seasonal produce.

In this book Sally focuses on the recipes she uses every day, the dishes she’s adapted and perfected over the years of fussy small children (one of who wouldn’t eat ice-cream unless it was heated). From classics like more…

Check out our entire Love to Cook collection here


Love to Create

materially-craftedMaterially Crafted

by Victoria Hudgins

Décor blogs, online shelter magazines, Pinterest boards. Design enthusiasts are bombarded with a wealth of beautiful home inspiration at every turn these days, but many lack the foundations necessary to re-create their dream projects.

Materially Crafted is a must-have introduction and guide for the creative and design-savvy, many of whom are embracing their crafty side for the first time. Written by Victoria Hudgins, creator of the popular design blog A Subtle Revelry, Materially Crafted is organized according to materials used—from more…

Check out our entire Love to Create collection here


Love to Read

She’s Having Her Baby9781863957205

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 more…

Check out our entire Love to Read collection here


design-with-colour-and-styleLove to Style

Design with Colour and Style

by Shaynna Blaze

Star of Selling Houses Australia, and expert judge on Channel 9’s The Block

Interior design expert Shaynna Blaze is passionate about helping people uncover their own personal interior style. In this book, she explores the intriguing, enticing elements of colour and style and explains how you can use them to transform your home. Using beautiful photographs and practical examples, Shaynna shows how colour affects a space and the mood of those living in it. She reveals how more…

Check out our entire Love to Style collection here


Love a Bargain

Unlock Your Styleunlock-your-style

by Nikki Parkinson

Dress to impress without the stress! Fabulous fashion tips from the author of the award-winning StylingYou website.

In Unlock Your Style, Australian fashion expert Nikki Parkinson of stylingyou.com.au shows you how to feel confident in your clothes. Inside these pages you’ll find Nikki’s top tips for every woman – no matter her age, shape or budget.

Including: more…

Check out our entire Love a Bargain collection here


Check out our entire Mother’s Day Gift Guide here

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Monica Dux, author of Mothermorphosis, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

mothermorphosis

 

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Monica Dux

author of Mothermorphosis

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Sydney. Raised by wolves and schooled in the ways of the jungle.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a nun, an actor, the President of the United States, and a Neurosurgeon. Luckily I was part of the Having it All generation, so I didn’t trouble myself with the logistics of fulfilling my dreams.

At 18, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be.

At 30, I wanted to be able to pay my rent while doing something interesting and meaningful that didn’t involve having to say “have a nice day!”

mduxmug-edit-smaller1

Author: Monica Dux

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the three black rectangles I got tattooed onto my arm would always delight.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My husband is a screenwriter and his career had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer. Not so much because I admired his work (although I do), but because I was envious of the fact that he worked from home and so could pop out for a coffee whenever he felt like it.

Being able to make my own hours and not answer to The Man, seemed very attractive. This was before we had kids of course, so sadly it all turned out to be a delusion.

The second big event was having the aforementioned kids. They’ve dictated so much of my career, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and has probably saved me many nights of angsting over choices I don’t now have.

The third thing is all those who’ve continued to publish me. Without a space to publish, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to produce a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

It used to really bug me when people went on about how much they loved the printed book. But I am now one of those people. These days being a writer involves engaging with many different media, and I’m comfortable with that. But the printed book is akin to the wheel – there’s absolutely no need to change it, and I don’t doubt that it will persist, long after various other forms of media have been transformed or become redundant.

mothermorphosis

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Mothermorphosis is a collection of essays about the experience of becoming a mother from some of Australia’s best writers and commentators. It came about as a result of a conversation I had with the commissioning editor Dina Kluska, about how stories of motherhood are not always valued, even though motherhood is such a profound experience. I think it’s crucial that mothers share their stories, in all their variety, and that’s what this book is about.

It’s a gorgeous collection; each contributor has produced something quite special.

We decided to donate part of the royalties to PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association), an organisation which does amazing work helping new parents.

Grab a copy of Monica’s new book Mothermorphosis here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Achieving world peace would be nice. If that’s not going to happen, I’d like to think my work changes ordinary people’s lives for the better, perhaps even in small ways, giving them an insight into other lives and perhaps making them feel less alone. That’s what makes writing worthwhile.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many people I admire. But today I vote for my husband Kris Mrksa. He’s smart and funny and has taught me more about writing than anyone else I know. And he’s been overseas for work, so I’m missing him. He left out a complete clean change of clothes for the kids for every day he was away, which has meant they’ve been able to go to school with clean underwear, and I haven’t had to use the washing machine.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I used to put a lot of pressure on myself about what I wanted to achieve. Now I focus more on just moving forward, on being able to continue creating. I set myself goals, but I’m always aware how quickly things can change, so I’m not too hard on myself if they don’t work out.

I do fear going backwards, but writing is a long game, and I’ve become more comfortable with that reality, and so more resigned to all that it entails. As long as people keep reading my work, I’m happy. I couldn’t keep writing if I thought I had no audience.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

You need to be tenacious. So stay tough. But don’t be precious. No one is interested in your navel.

Monica, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here


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

 

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: Kooshyar Karimi on his incredible new book Leila’s Secret

Kooshyar Karimi is an Iranian Jew who fled his native country after years of living a double life; as a doctor performing secret and illegal operations and as a spy for his country’s secret police. He talks to Caroline Baum about his acclaimed new book Leila’s Secret.

leila-s-secretLeila’s Secret

by Kooshyar Karimi

In fundamentalist Iran, new life sometimes means certain death. When Leila comes to see Doctor Karimi, both are in danger.

Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won’t permit it: he is incapable of turning away the unmarried women who beg him to save their lives by ending the pregnancies that, if discovered, would see them stoned to death.

One of those women is 22-year-old Leila. Beautiful, intelligent, passionate, she yearns to go to university but her strictly traditional family forbids it. Returning home from the library one day – among the few trips she’s allowed out of the house – she meets a handsome shopkeeper, and her fate is sealed. Kooshyar has rescued countless women, but Leila seeks his help for a different reason, one that will haunt him for years afterwards and inspire an impossible quest from faraway Australia.

Spellbinding and heartbreaking. Leila’s Secret shows us everyday life for women in a country where it can be a crime to fall in love. But for all its tragedy, this unforgettable book is paradoxically uplifting, told from the heart of Kooshyar’s immense sympathy, in the hope that each of us – and the stories we tell – can make a difference.

Grab a copy of Leila’s Secret here

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