Rainy Day Sale

So this morning, as I was packing up to leave for the Sawyer Yards Arts Market, I received a text and an email from the show’s organizer saying it was cancelled. Bummer! But we’re having some rough weather in Houston, so this is probably for the best. Alas.

Never fret, though — I’ve decided to have a Rainy Day Sale here on my social media instead! It will go this whole weekend, starting now, until 8 p.m. central US time Sunday (tomorrow) evening. Here’s what available:

I’m offering 10% off all of these items if you buy them from me directly. (I’m happy to ship them to you for the cost of whatever the postage and insurance you choose will be.) If you buy the books from Amazon or any other bookstore, you’ll pay their price, since they’re not participating in this impromptu Rainy Day Sale. Just post in the comments here or send me a direct email to forest.of.diamonds@gmail.com with “Rainy Day Sale” in the subject line to tell me what you want. Let me know, too, if you want the books signed.

I’ll update here when I know more about the rescheduling of the arts market. Thank you for your support!

Poetry Art Card #1; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2004
Poetry Art Card #1; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2004

 

Poetry Art Card #2; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #2; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014

 

Poetry Art Card #3; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #3; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #4; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #4; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014

 

Poetry Art Card #5; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #5; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #6; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #6; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #7; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2003
Poetry Art Card #7; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2003

 

Poetry Art Card #8; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2013
Poetry Art Card #8; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2013

 

Poetry Art Card #9; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #9; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014

 

Poetry Art Card #10; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #10; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #11; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #11; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #12; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #12; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

Poetry Art Card #13; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #13; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016

 

A Book I Love — guest post by Kasia James

Today’s post is by Kasia James, the mastermind and book-mother of the anthology The Milk of Female Kindness — An Anthology of Honest Motherhood, of which I was thrilled to be a part.

 

***

 

Occasionally I hit someone who says that they don’t read. Not literally, although I am tempted to slap into them some sense of what they are missing. What I can’t really understand is how anyone can do without the escapism of books. To be absorbed into another world, and one created just as you would wish it to appear, is no small pleasure in the relentlessly attention grabbing world we live in.

When Angélique asked me to write about a book which had been influential to me, I spent a while tangled up in choice. There are many different types of beauty in books, just as there are in people, and the matter is just as subjective.

I thought of John Wyndham’s novels, which are written with sneakily simple language, so that the reader doesn’t realise the complexity of ideas that they are being asked to understand. I thought of Sarah Water’s fabulously twisted dives into history, as detailed and sensory as a tapestry. I thought of The Princess Bride, which my lover read out loud to me on a French riverbank.

Instead, I have chosen The Thirteen Clocks and The Wonderful O by James Thurber. Wait, you say. That’s a kid’s story! And two books to boot! Well, yes, but when I was growing up we had them compiled into one volume. It’s a book which I’ve known since childhood, and yet come back and read every so often, just for the sheer joy of it. It’s possible that I had it as a bedtime story, as my bibliophile parents did make some slightly odd choices at times.

Both stories are fairytales, and that can be refreshing in itself. They are largely free of social commentary, existential angst or complicated relationships – except ones which you know will end happily. I’ve found the same sort of complete retreat in some of Neil Gaiman’s work, and he too is a fan of Thurber. The copy I have on my shelves is introduced by Gaiman as, “probably the best book in the world.” However, they are unlike any fairytale you have read, or ever will read.

They are full of playfulness. The Golux, for example, says of himself:

“I am the Golux,” said the Golux, proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device… Half the places I have been to, never were. I make things up. Half the things I say are there cannot be found. When I was young I told a tale of buried gold, and men from leagues around dug in the woods. I dug myself.”

“But why?”

“I thought the tale of treasure might be true.”

“You said you made it up.”

“I know I did, but then I didn’t know I had. I forget things too.”

Primarily though, their playfulness comes about in the way that Thurber uses language. He juggles it, tickles it, messes about with it in a way that gives you the same feeling as watching a really talented magician. In some ways, they remind me of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

The whole concept of The Wonderful O is to pick out the fancy beads and see what is left of the necklace. A pirate who hated the letter O, “because his mother had become wedged in a porthole and they couldn’t pull her in, so they had to push her out,” sails to the island of Ooroo, and sets about banishing all words with the letter “O.”

“’Dius gre gling mins gress’ meant ‘Odious ogre ogling ominous ogress,’ but only scholars knew it. Spoken words became a hissing and a mumble, or a murmur and a hum. A man named Otto Ott, when asked his name, could only stutter. Ophelia Oliver repeated hers, and vanished from the haunts of men.’

The Thirteen Clocks also produces conjuring tricks like this astonishing snippet of alliteration and onomatopoeia.

“The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Father along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leapt over bleating sheep creeping knee deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets.”

Tell me the author of that wasn’t having fun.

One of the many things which I love about these books, other than the way he plays with language, is that they remind me that it is really not necessary to write within defined genres, which are of course largely constructed by the publishing industry to be able to flog books to readers. It is hard to sell something you can’t define, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth writing.

I know that Thurber did painfully revise and rewrite parts of these books, and had to be told to stop tinkering, but all that work is concealed from the reader, like the clockwork in an automaton. However, there is nothing laboured or mechanical when you read these stories. They flow and tumble into a different, and above all more lightheaded, world. It’s a world well worth the journey.

 

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

In honor of Mother’s Day coming up this weekend (at least in the US, where I live), I’m giving away three copies of an excellent anthology I was fortunate to be included in, The Milk of Female Kindness–An Anthology of Honest Motherhood.

This book brings together women from many countries and cultures who have shared their writing and artwork on the theme of motherhood, and not just the concept of motherhood that mainstream media conditions us with. It’s an excellent, thoughtful project (and makes a wonderful Mother’s Day gift).

Milk of Female Kindness front cover

So how can you obtain one of the copies I’m giving away? Easy!

1.  In the comments below, write about your mother or some other woman in your life who nurtured you in a maternal way. I’m interested in your stories. They can be funny, poignant, bizarre. The first three people to do this will win a copy. (And if you’re planning to give your prize as a Mother’s Day gift, then the sooner the better so I can mail it to you before Friday afternoon!)

2.  Include your email address so I can contact you for your mailing address. (If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you a prize.)

3.  Finally, watch this space, because I’ll be confirming the winners here in the comments section. (Added bonus: you get to read other people’s stories!)

Here is a list of some of the reviews that have come in so far for The Milk of Female Kindness. (I wrote “some” because I know there are other reviews out there that I don’t have listed here.)

*  from blog The Reluctant Retiree

*  from blogger Carol Cameleon

*  from blogger Madhusmita Phukon

*  from Michelle Clements James at Book Chat

*  from Sharon Bonin-Pratt at Ink Flare

*  from Dale Newton at EllaDee Words

*  from blog My Train of Thoughts On…

*  several on Goodreads

I was so grateful to have my poems and essays included in this anthology. Kudos to Kasia James, the contributing editor whose brainchild it was, and to all the other authors and artists in it!

Reviews for THE MILK OF FEMALE KINDNESS and Links to Buy FINIS.

By now you now that this week, my newest publication, Finis., launched. I’ve tried not to overwhelm the Interwebz with announcements of it, but I admit that Tuesday, Launch Day, I was online most of the day just trying to keep up with the traffic and buzz about it and reactions to it. It was a great day, and I’m so grateful to those of you who’ve already bought the book, read it, and given me reviews. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far! (Links to places where Finis. is currently on sale appear at the end of this post.)

 

cover design by Lauren Volness
cover design by Lauren Volness

 

This Sunday is our official launch party, and if you’re in Houston that day, please feel free to drop by! It will be at The Black Labrador from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in their Churchill Room.

Finis. is an ebook only at this time, due to its length, but there will be copies of an anthology I was recently published in, The Milk of Female Kindness — An Anthology of Honest Motherhood, for sale at the launch party. This wonderful international project brought together authors from all over the world; the book contains poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and artwork around the theme of motherhood and offers a wide variety of perspectives. (It also contains two of my essays and three of my poems.)

 

The Milk of Female Kindness: An Anthology of Honest Motherhood

 

Here is a list of some of the reviews that have come in so far for The Milk of Female Kindness. (I wrote “some” because I know there are other reviews out there that I don’t have listed here.)

*  from blog The Reluctant Retiree

*  from blogger Carol Cameleon

*  from blogger Madhusmita Phukon

*  from Michelle Clements James at Book Chat

*  from Sharon Bonin-Pratt at Ink Flare

*  from Dale Newton at EllaDee Words

*  from blog My Train of Thoughts On…

*  several on Goodreads

I was so grateful to be included in this anthology; it really is an excellent publication. Kudos to Kasia James, the contributing editor whose brainchild it was, and to all the other authors and artists in it!

***

As promised, here are links to buy Finis. More retailers will be coming available soon, and when they are, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Smashwords

Amazon (This link is for the US store, but it is also available through Amazon in India, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.)

Finis. is also available through Apple’s iBooks store, but be sure you get the title that has my name attached to it, or you might end up with some very different literature you weren’t necessarily looking for!

 

 

Featured Poet: Kasia James

Today’s featured poet is the marvelous woman who brought The Milk of Female Kindness to the light of day; the anthology was her brainchild.

Kasia James writes primarily speculative fiction but has started to wonder if it is her mission in life to complete books in as many different genres as possible. She is the author of The Artemis Effect, which is an optimist’s science-fiction dystopia, and was contributing editor of The Milk of Female Kindness — An Anthology of Honest Motherhood

She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with a hydrologist, an ankle-biter, and a big black cat called George.  Enjoy her blog here.

***

Train Traveller

Whisker rasped whisky
Dirty camouflage reflected in sunglasses
Rumbling with surprising calm
Before the amber bottle

 

 

Featured Poet: Sandra Danby

Another writer I’ve been privileged to make a connection with throughout that whole lovely motherhood anthology project is Sandra Danby. Her novel Ignoring Gravity, about two pairs of sisters linked by a generation of secrets, is scheduled for publication in September 2014 by BNBS Books. It is part of the new publishing imprint, Britain’s Next Bestseller from BNBS Books, where book readers get to choose the books they want to see published.

She is currently writing on the sequel, Connectedness, in which Ignoring Gravity’s journalist Rose Haldane becomes an identity detective. She interviews controversial artist Justine Tree and falls once again into the turmoil of adoption secrets, a trail which leads her from Yorkshire to Spain in search of Justine’s truth.

Sandra Danby’s award-winning blog at http://www.sandrandanby.com features her own fiction, her thoughts and ideas on the process of writing, and reviews of new and classic fiction.

Her short stories have appeared online, in magazines, and published in two anthologies: Diaspora City: The London New Writing Anthology [Arcadia] and The Milk of Female Kindness: An Anthology of Honest Motherhood [Kasia James]. Both anthologies are available from Amazon. Her short stories and flash fiction have been shortlisted for various prizes. She has written about books for MsLexia magazine and The Bookseller.

She also blogs about her life in rural Spain here, writing about nature, wildlife, Spanish culture, Spanish food, fiction and non-fiction books about Spain.

Here are some more links if you want to find her online:

Blog: www.sandradanby.com

Click here to pre0order Ignoring Gravity before its September 2014 launch.

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

 

***

Waiting for the last breath

 

My breath

Mum’s breath

My breath

Mum’s breath

My breath

My breath

… Mum’s breath

My breath

My breath

My breath

… Mum’s breath

My breath

My breath

…Mum’s breath

My breath

My breath

My breath

 

 

Featured Poet: Heather Sadiechild Harris

Heather Sadiechild Harris is a writer who has been featured in an anthology which also, for better or worse, included some of my essays and poems.  This anthology, The Milk of Female Kindness: An Anthology of Honest Motherhood, is the brainchild of Kasia James and has been a really collaborative and international effort to include a wide variety of perspectives on motherhood — the kind of perspectives that aren’t necessarily shared in the mainstream media.  While I’m proud to have been included in the book and also think it’s just a wonderful collection of works by some stunningly excellent women, one of my favorite things about that project is the community it spawned of the women involved in the project (authors, editors, etc.).  You may expect to see the poems of several of the authors from that anthology featured here on my blog this month.

Here’s the introduction of today’s featured poem, written by the author herself:

“This came from seeing many child soldiers in my working travels. A lot of young girls are child soldiers sacrificing their lives, and their sacrifice goes unnoticed. Other parts of the reflection relate to the various wars in West Africa over the years and the atrocities committed in the name of commerce. This is to acknowledge all those children who have fought in wars and who still are fighting today.”

***

Child Soldier

 

She got a new toy, she play wi’ da big boys
She’s got a big gun, no more little girl fun
No more neighbourhood, no more playin’ childhood
No more bein’ good, even if she still could.
Girl soldier fight hard, girl soldier die hard
Little girl won’t be miss, lots of other girls to kiss.

Not much to choose here, not much to lose here
Livin’ in da enclave, big soldier’s sex slave.
Short sleeve, long sleeve, child soldier can’t leave
Short leg, no leg, make dem refugees beg.
Ya Mama misses you too, but what can ya Mama do?
She gotta feed the bruddas, tha deal for da muddas

Yeah she’s a fighter, she didn’t get to travel far,
But there’s oil for ya shiny car, blood stained diamonds for ya.
And coltran for ya Nokia.
She gone wid da boys, she gone wid da big boys
She gone, gone, gone.