Coming Soon….

24 06 2011


We’re Winning

21 06 2011
copyright Cavendish Press

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  

You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.  

You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.  

You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.  

We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

~Cesar Chavez
The above picture appears today in the Daily Mail.  Yes, that’s right, the DAILY MAIL.  The blurb mentions nothing negative about breastfeeding.  In fact, the article is a very positive one.
This is such an important moment.  Such.
The culture is slowly turning.  Slowly, sometimes backwards after a few steps forward, but slowly, step by step, inching forward.  This photograph would have been impossible 5 years ago.  A mainstream junky news paper, carrying this image?  Ten years ago, there would have been outrage?  Even two years ago, the editor might have hesitated.  Yes, they have used it deliberately.  Yes, they are expecting a little bit of a frisson.  Yes, their job is to sell newspapers.
But the text… the text reveals nothing but solid, excellent and positive reporting on the flashmob event.
A breastfeeding flashmob!  Who’dv’thunk?  🙂
This picture in the Daily Mail?  Who’dv’thunk?
I don’t post very often anymore.  The reason is, I don’t need to.  As I’ve always said, the internet is changing the world, one mother to another.  One woman to another.  We can connect, reach out, activate: change.  Change ourselves, change the culture.  One breastfeed at a time.  🙂
The above picture fills me with such hope.  Combined with the remarkable events of the past week or so, as the entire lacvavist world has taken arms in support of Alma and Habiba… well, I just smile.  Smile at the fact that we just do it, now.  We just stand up and shout for our babies’ rights… and it’s wonderful
It’s not to say it’s getting easier.  In fact, it’s getting a lot harder in the corporate and political world.  Massive inroads are being made into protection for babies in terms of commercial attack.  The World Health Organisation and the United Nations is being invaded by corporate interests, offering corporate sponsorship to ‘help’ health funds.  Misguided entrepreneurs are pouring billions of dollars into buying pea nut sachets and diarrhea vaccines, rather than in making sure clean water and full breasts are available on demand.  People who are concerned and loving and compassionate, are pouring efforts into dealing with symptoms, not addressing the underlying causes.
Corporate interests mask their need to make money, by handing out money to ‘help’ in ways that may kill more than it saves.  At home, formula advertising is now so skilled at showing formula feeding on tv despite the ban, most of us can’t watch the adverts without screaming any more.  The NHS is undelivering breastfeeding support at an alarming rate.  Formula companies are deftly fighting to have unsubstantiated health claims put on their packaging, and they are winning.
It’s not a good time to be fighting for babies, in the boardrooms.  In the closed and smoky rooms.  In the committee meetings and in the halls of power.  In fact, it’s probably the darkest it has been for a very long long time, for the real political work.
Which just shows you how much effect we’re all having.  🙂
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”  

~ Mohandas Ghandi

They are not laughing anymore.  They are, indeed, fighting back very very hard.  But they are losing the culture battle.  The poltical one they may be making inroads in, but the above photo in today’s Daily Mail, combined with this quote…
A stunned onlooker said: ‘It’s not every day you see that many breasts while out doing your shopping. I suppose it’s a good way of getting people to listen to the message. I fully support them.’ 

… shows just how much we are winning the battle for the daily live.  The being a breastfeeding dyad, in public, and not being oppressed.  Not being laughed at, ridiculed, thrown off the plane, thrown of the bus, sacked, moved job, sent to the bathroom, denied access to our babies… the list goes on.  
As does the battle.  🙂
When you read this post, and rejoice in the photo, and what it says… also remember that when you start to win, they really start to fight back.  We’re winning: they are fighting back.  Big time.  As well as all the other work you are doing, the flashmobs, the picnics, the simple being with your baby and having fun outside in public spaces.  The facebook groups, the internet forums in support… as well as doing all this, you should also do something else.  Something real and tangible to fight those who are seriously fighting back.  You should help the ones walking in the corridors of power, trying to stop the corporate inroads.
Send these people some money.
If we weren’t’ winning, they wouldn’t be fighting so hard.
Help the fight: DONATE
Mother to Mother.  Baby to Baby.  Woman to Woman.
We are all Habiba.
And goodness, ain’t we wonderful?

Breastfeeding Picnics 2011

14 06 2011

A little late this year.  Letting you know.  A combination of circumstances – changing the admin structure, my moving to rural Scotland, a very long turnaround on the permissions from Westminster, due to massive changes brought by the new Gov.  And, of course, we moved it forward a month.  Some of us haven’t realised it’s June yet.  🙂


People wanted flexibility.  So do check the DATE of your local one.  🙂

Breastfeeding Picnics are first and foremost about turning up, having fun with other parents, and going home.  During this fun time, breastfeeding will take place as a normal part of human activity.  That’s actually the most important bit.  Breastfeeding in public is about hungry babies, requiring milk.  That’s all.  Hungry babies get milk. Simples!

In Scotland, it is that simple.  There is a law protecting any caregiver, giving any milk, to a child anywhere the child has a right to be.  The caregiver can not be threatened or asked to stop the feed.  To do so, is an offence, liable to a hefty fine.

In England and Wales, there is no such protection.  For a detailed understanding of this, read the posts here with the Breastfeeding Picnic tag, and the Equalities Act tag.

Breastfeeding Picnics are run by mothers, for mothers.  All parents welcome.  All mothers, fathers, grans and grandads.  All babies, all feeding methods.  Hungry babies need milk: don’t matter if it’s from breast or bottle, Mama or Otherwise.  Hungry babies get fed.  End of.

All are run by volunteers, all take control of their own event.  There is no uber organisation.  Just Mums.  🙂

Go along, show your support, feed your babies.  And invite your local MP too!


Westminster Breastfeeding Picnic
Victoria Tower Gardens
next to Parliament
Noon till 3pm
Sunday 19th June
Facebook Group
contact Elaine


Cambridge Dolally-Doula Breastfeeding Picnic
Lammas Land, Newnham, Cambridge
Noon onwards
Sunday 26th June
contact Maddie


Brighton Bosom Buddies Breastfeeding Picnic
Pavilion Gardens
lawn in front of cafe
1pm to 3pm
Facebook Group
contact Bosom Buddies


Upfront Torpoint Breastfeeding Picnic
Torpoint, Cornwall
Thanckes Park
The Lawns
Monday 20th June
1pm to 3pm
Facebook Group
contact Upfront Torpoint Breastfeeding Group


Stroud Breastfeeding Picnic
Stratford Park
near the bandstand
Saturday June 18th
11am to 2 ish
contact Kirstie


Couple more to be added – check back!  🙂

#SampleSunday – June 12th

11 06 2011

Major Arcana XII:  The Hanged Man

Continuing the Back Work theme, this week is the first 25% of a short story I wrote in the mid 1980s.  It is the sort of stuff I wanted to write: fantasy.  Quite dark fantasy (It is me, after all!), but fantasy none the less.

It’s not ‘me’, ‘though.  It was who I was trying to be,  It was who I wanted to be.  In the absence of true connection, it is, in large part, story-less.  Sorta.  It is lyrical.  It is logical.  It does have a sequence of events.  If my hubby can get the rest typed up by next week, and we can find the last three pages, you may even see the end.  🙂  But it is what much of my early writing was: vignette.  Not complete.  A sketch.

I rewrote the original short short version, and added the title it has now, to signal it would be on story in a sequence of 22 short stories, for a Creative Writing element of my degree at the University of East Anglia.  The 22 short stories would range through the Major Arcana on the Tarot deck – from 0, The Fool, to 21, The World.  Each would illustrate the theme of the card, and in the entire sequence, would be the development of awareness through the journeys of life.  It’s one of the things I keep remembering to think about finishing.  🙂

The Hanged Man, for those not in the Tarot know, is a card of isolation and self-sacrifice: from which comes mystical understanding and knowledge.  But a price must be paid.

I have resisted the urge to polish it up.  A great deal of effort required to do nothing, actually, especially in respect to the adverbs… *shudder*  I can only apologise for the first sentence.

Major Arcana XII : The Hanged Man

            The dawn fell gently into the dark recess of the glade within.  As light brought its life slowly onto the earth, Kylara woke, and sang her morning song to the wind and earth and sky.  Holding herself closed and tight, the wrappings of sleep drifting from her, she hummed the songs and feelings that the night now lost and dead had visited upon her.  Down in the village, past the river that rushed its way to the edge of the land, the notes from her lament filled the ears of those who dared wake and listen.  Her song of the hills whispered into their hearts and left a touch of fey dread.  The sleeping turned and grasped their bedding, hoping to delay awareness till the light was there to hold them.
            Within the glade itself, the Others rose to her song, and started their day with the usual calm, their usual acceptance.  Another day, another night.  As the sun’s strength grew and lifted the veil of night, drying its tears and leaving the air to breathe again, her song changed from the night’s lament to the morning’s glory.  Each leaf that rustled within the glade, each branch that swayed, went into her song and lifted the hearts of the Others, those whose soul were locked into the night.  When the day’s tasks became too many, and the Other’s indifference too large, Kylara’s song slowed, then stopped: locked into the rhythm of another day, another night.
            As the day began to splinter, dark creeping into the glade, the Others laid their tasks to rest, awaiting the night.  The eldest approached Kylara.  She lay curled in the leaves, the night slowly pooling around her, the fogged hands of dark reaching out to drag her down into the night.  Skin glistened with dark moisture, dark, empty eyes, looked through the space the eldest inhabited, and slender hands dug deep into the earth, chasing the last of the days heat.
            The eldest settled his gaze upon the space that was Kylara and once more spoke.
            ‘He will not come.  Do not wait another night.  Go.  We will rise without your song.  The work will be done.’
            ‘He will come.  Light will come.  My song will bring him.’
            The moment stood between them.  The eldest looked to the space that held Kylara, and Kylara looked to the far distant hills that still held the day’s embrace.
            ‘He will come.’
            Her sight withdrew from the light, and settled on the dark earth, preparing for another night within the glade.
            The eldest sighed and returned to the others with his failure.  They settled into their dark.  Down in the valley, past the river that rushed its way to the edge of the land the living people lit fires to warm the night.  Children squirmed into each other’s embrace, falling into sleep with the talk and songs of the fire in the air around them.  Within the glade, Kylara’s soft moans shivered the last of the day into the abyss.
            In this night, with the pace of the day lost into the dreams and fits of the dark, Kylara once more turned and tossed, and clenched her sleeping fists.  She fought with the demons of the night, holding herself free from their grasp: the vision of Him, the touch of Him, the sight of Him, standing fast by her.  Clothed in memory of His light, she raised protection against their assault, removed herself from their taunts, refusing to feed them with that part of her soul they wished.  Once more, however, the dark inside rose to meet the dark outside, and memory and illusion faded.  Standing down, her night was filled with the silence of feasting and all song faded.
            Within the glade within, dawn pushed off the edge of darkness and sneaked some golden warmth onto Kylara.  She felt its gentle embrace and woke into a pattern of another day, of another night.  Her voice stayed behind, in the dark, and no song greeted the Others into the day.  Still they rose, oblivious the rent in the air around them, as the pattern strained and broke.
            The work was started, the tasks begun.  Still, Kylara broke rhythm.  The day, for the Others, altered not.  In the village, past the river that rushed its way to the edge of the land, children whined and soup scalded in the hearth.  Mothers bit their tongues deep into the flesh of those around them, and the fields ploughed crooked.  Dogs hid under carts and the men looked to the broken skies.  As night fell, the tasks finished, the others returned to the abyss.  Silent they fell, alone they fell, but still they fell.
            Kylara lay hidden under a bed of leaves, listening to the dark.  Her tears silently scoured the earth.  Night caught her in its embrace, and she met the demons alone, unaided even by the vision of His light, her love.
            There was no dawn within the glade within, only a lessening of the dark around the Others.  In the valley, a storm raged round the village and rain drove the river so hard that it stopped its rush to the edge of the land and raced instead to the homes of the living people.  The beds of the children were caught in the day’s tears and the mothers wept to see their homes ruined.  The fields flooded and the wheat drowned.  Within the glade, the others completed their tasks and fell deep into their nightly death.  Kylara lay on the cold ground and waited.  The demons came and gloated.
            The dark did not lessen.  Still the Others rose.  A set time, a set task.  Kylara heard for the first time the cries from the village that was no longer a village, by the river that no longer rushed its way to the edge of the land.  She held herself tight against the cries of the living people.  Her lord had left her with no light, and her song was still.  She waited.  The Others worked, oblivious to the dark.
            Kylara slipped so far into the wait that there was no wait and the demons fell swift and fey.  The Others, set into their work, took no note of the nightfallen eternally around them and on finishing their tasks, fell quiet.  Cold frosted the valley, and the living people had no fires to vanquish it.  That night a child died.
            The demons left Kylara as the Others rose to their tasks.  They had no fun in her empty waiting.  There was no game in baiting one who would not fight.  No song to smother in the dark.  Frost rimmed Kylara’s form as the Other’s tasks began.  In the swollen valley, the gray day held funeral to the dead child.  The living people left the valley to its death.
            In the glade, Kylara stirred.  The ice which lay thick on her skin broke and fell to the frozen earth with a tinkle that sounded of light.  Kylara stood.  She walked through the death of the glade within and strode out into the valley.  The Others carried on their day, oblivious to the lack of light.  As she crossed from the glade to the valley she passed the crying child.  Behind her, the eldest greeted the child and gave him a task.
            Kylara walked.  She walked from valley to valley.  Through rivers that rushed their way to the edge of the land, past villages of living people and at times through their dreams as they lay in the night’s death.  Just as sun no longer reached her, she ignored night, and dark.  Demons therein grew long bored with her death (which did not exclude them) and left her alone to her emptiness.
            She walked untouched by the world around her, but a part of the land of the living people.  There were those who perceived her, those unlucky enough to find no respite in the night, who glimpsed her shadow on a wall, and heard the depths of her silence.  There were those who were too young to see what the living people saw, and who followed her path with eyes that delighted in anything new to see, whether it was dark or wholesome.  In this way it was the children’s giggles and cries of mystery that followed Kylara most in her travels.  At last, she reached the edge of the land, and stood stark against the light and water that was the sea.  Over the horizon, she knew, the light turned over before returning in the morning from the land.  She stood and tried to think a thought of what to do.

#SampleSunday – June 5th

1 06 2011

The next few weeks on sample sunday, I’ll be showing samples from old writing folders.  I explain it all out HERE.

This week, two poems: both from the 1980s.  Typewriter early decade, Co-respondent middle decade.

TYPEWRITER ages me.  🙂  I’m not sure if you can replace the rhythm of tiptap, with clickclack.  Because you are missing the essential sound break of a carriage return of the zip.  Only someone who has written on a manual typewriter, may understand what I’m whittling on about.  Or not.

The photo is of my actual typewriter.  Or the model.  My own one, was thrown out some years ago, something I regret.  I was getting rid of a lot of old clutter in my life, and it was important to throw stuff out.  The typewriter you see pictured, is the one thing I disposed of in an entire skip of stuff, that I should have kept.  I rue the day.  Both poems were typed on it.   Changeling was started on it: I still have the first typed sheet.

CO-RESPONDENT  It was quite surprising to me, to re-read this one, and find the image of the new mouth being carved open on skin.  My readers will recognise that imagery from the last few chapters of Changeling.  And there, I’d used it, all those years ago, and that chapter was written in the past 9 months or so.  All that time, the imagery had been there in my mind, awaiting release. Wow.

the most
in the
whole wide
a universe
of sound

‘So,’ she sniffed
‘you’re divorced
how quaint
What happened?
Another woman?’
I said
‘We just
Grew up.’
I guess.
‘There must be
another woman.’
Their eyes said.
all the time
with their
inner understanding
that it probably hurt
too much
to admit
that there was
someone else
They would not be told.
could not hear.
for in their
there was only one
to desert a
The other woman.
They would not hear.
And I would not speak.
not tell
of the pain
Of the neat line
across my arm
the seam the
doctor had stitched
across the extra
he had given me
And I would not tell.
of the pain
Of the mottles and marks
where teeth had sunk
too deep
too hard
to heal
And I would not tell.
And I would not tell.
And they would not hear.
So, silently
we made more tea
and supped
as they
of the other woman.

Back Work

1 06 2011

#SampleSunday is an interesting thing.  For those of you who do not know what it is, it’s a Twitter event, whereby writers who are working on their own a lot of the time, share snippets of their writing with other writers.    Readers too, and it is an excellent way to get word out about your writing.  I heard about it before I published Changeling, and used it to preview the opening chapters before launch.  I’ve also used it to show character studies and some such elements of How I Write.

But I don’t have a huge folder of back work to use for fodder, for #SampleSunday.  I don’t have massive amounts of written work hanging around!  And I’m writing the new stuff,and that can’t go out every week.

However, I find #SampleSunday a useful discipline.  It concentrates me on my readers, once a week.  It makes me think of you, and wonder what snippet I can offer you?

And that’s very useful.  And nice.  Thinking of readers reading my work, makes me happy.  Not quite as happy as actually writing does, but it’s a nice side dish.

So, in the spirit of finding snippets, and odds and bobs, and knowing how popular my How I Write posts are… I have dug out the massive folders from the very back of the cupboard.  Typed.  Typed on a manual typewriter.  Filled with bits, bobs, half started, half finished, almost begun, never quite got there, bits of words.

Very little of it is horror.  Much of it is fantasy, with a little bit of science fiction.  Some of it is poetry.  There are three very fine short stories.  Complete.  Almost.  Looks like the odd page is missing in the folder.  Oops. Type written.  No back up disc.  We’ll see.

I will offer this folder to you, over the next few weeks.  Some of it is dire.  Some of it is mediocre.  Some of it is okay.  A couple of bits are great.  There are hints of greatness, just every now and then, gleaming under the leaves.

Quite a lot of it is self-indulgent.  It’s the stuff I wrote on my way to making myself a writer.  The raw ideas that were JUST WONDERFUL the night I had them, and total dross two weeks later when I read them back.  It was before I’d learned to sweat.  To toil.  To murder my innocents.  Before the voice of the editor became strong enough to force me to make the idea work better.  Before the word smith had learned to take out here, put in there.  Jump time frames, move about perspective, change the viewpoint.

They are also, mostly, before I found my voice.  I didn’t want to be a horror writer.  Science Fiction is my great love.  Was my great love.  Will always be my great love.  Fantasy too.  Pure fantasy, less so, but Science Fantasy, Fantasy Lite, I have always adored.  I wanted to write the stuff I loved reading best.

But I can’t write Science Fiction.  I’m bereft of a single idea that would come under science fiction.   If I try and write sf, I’m crap of such epic proportions, I knew it was crap the day I wrote it.

I was slightly better at fantasy.  Indeed, my fist published writing, on winning competitions, was fantasy.  They won as the writing itself was sound.  Unfortunately, the stories were generic.  In fact, when I won my first short story competition, and it was published in a fantasy gaming magazine wiht the runner up.  The editor of the magazine told me that the runner up story was a better story, but mine was better writing.  I’d won because I was a better word smith.

I was extremely annoyed by this at the time.  I WAS THE BEST WRITER THE WORLD HAD EVER SEEN.   Well, nearly.  I knew I still had stuff to learn, but really, if you didn’t think you were good, you’d never keep going.

Double edged sword.

Now, looking back at the folders, I not only agree with the editor, I understand it in a profound way.  My fantasy writing was generic as it was not my voice.  It was what I wanted to write, not what was truly in me. I liked reading horror, don’t get me wrong.  But I guess I wanted to live in a nicer world.  I wanted space ships and dragons and harpers and sidhe and magical islands and fairy stories that were soft around the edges.   But it was not to be.

My fairy stories have hard edges.  My fairy stories are the ones were blood and death are up front.  Where Snow White’s stepmother was invited to the wedding and had red hot iron boots soldered to her feet and she danced in agony until she died in front of the wedding guests, for her wickedness.  My fairy stories are ones were the heroine suffers the beating with real blood and cuts, not a gentle tongue lashing as she clean out the cinders.

It wasn’t until I went with my true voice, that I found my power.  And most of that power is in Changeling.  Not much else was written, apart from the Trilogy, for the past 15 years or so.

So there is not much back work to show you, that makes sense of who I am as a writer now.  But what is interesting, is that the kernel is there, in everything I wrote.  Sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden.  The themes and sub tests of isolation and pain and being changed… all there.  So I’m going to present it to you over the next few weeks, in #SampleSunday.

Even the really bad stuff.  🙂  After all, it’s about the journey.  My journey as a writer.  Some of you will enjoy seeing the foot steps.

Just Remember!  I really did get better.  Much better.  Honest.  🙂