Monday 28 February 2011

LAST DAY for submitting your small stones for the book

If you'd like to be in this GORGEOUS book, which already has nearly three hundred stunning small stones in it, we need your submission by the end of the day. Send up to ten small stones and your name to Kaspa at We're accepting small stones from people who've just started writing them as well as those who took part in the January river. 

I've had some very lovely feedback on my free e-book about Lorrie, and my first Writing as Spiritual Practice e-course starts soon (I'm going to run one in April too now - if you're interested, email me Our community forum for people interested in using writing as a way of connecting with the world is BLOOMING like a beautiful peony - come and have a look and let me know if you get stuck. So, what with editing books and cooking roasts and having ten people over yesterday for coffee, cake and Dharma and suchlike, we've been pretty busy ; )

I hope you all have a fantastic week. We'll be back with news of the book as soon as we have it. In the meantime, keep writing those small stones...... 

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Get your free e-book & read Lorrie's story

I finished my e-book yesterday - 'How to write your way home'.

It's my gift to you.

To download your copy, simply click here and then you can save the PDF onto your computer.

In it, you'll get to know Lorrie, who has pea-green eyes and mousey hair. She lives in a narrow grey house and works in a call-centre in a grey office building. If you asked her whether she was happy, she wouldn't know how to answer you. Until she is shown something that's right under her nose, and which changes everything...

Lorrie's story is stitched through the book, which also contains simple instructions to help you feel more connected to yourself & to the world, information on hunting & polishing small stones, advice on how to build a creative network & much more. A kind of manifesto, if you will.

If you enjoy it, you can help me out by sharing it with your friends and family - especially with people like Lorrie who could do with some more colour in their lives.

Let me know what you think : )

(Kaspa & I are making good progress on the river of stones book too. We've been BUSY! The closing date for submissions is the 28th of Feb - we won't be able to include any we receive after that date. Do send them through if you haven't already.)

Thursday 17 February 2011

Submissions up to 15th Feb replied to....

We've just finished replying to all the book submissions up til the 15th of February with a 'yes please' or a 'not quite right please feel free to send some more'. 

If you sent us a submission before this date, you should have an email from Kaspa in your inbox. If you haven't, do let us know.

We have a handful of submissions still to deal with, and as you know we're accepting them up until the 28th of February.

It's been wonderful to read all your work, and we've got such a bunch of jewels... you're going to LOVE the book!

Have wonderful Thursdays, Fiona (& Kaspa)

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Quotes needed for the book... (and a gratuitous picture of cake)

I just wrote a blog about this piece of cake and how it sucks to be self-employed sometimes. I'm putting it here too as it does look extraordinarily yummy and I'm hoping to find something similar when I go into town in a minute : ) 

We're still enjoying reading your small stone submissions. You have until the 28th of February to get them to us - if you're worried about whether we've received them or not, don't worry, we'll reply to everyone in the first week of March and if you don't hear from us there will still be time to send them through again. We've had too many submissions to reply to everyone individually. You can imagine the logistics of at least 2600 small stones.... a river indeed.

We're also enjoying writing some pieces to slot in amongst your small stones. We already have some quotes from your blogs which we'll be using - we'll get in touch with you individually to ask permission first of course - but if anyone else would like to write anything about their experience of writing small stones do email it through to me ( or Kaspa ( 

Thank you!

Friday 11 February 2011

Thank you for your submissions so far

A photo of lavender because the sun is shining this morning, and I'm watching the bulbs appear in the garden and dreaming of bees and sun-cream and lying on the grass with a book. 

Since our reminder for submissions we've had 50 more entries, bringing the total up to more than 200. 

I'd always thought it would be marvellous to have 300, so we're hoping some of you are still hanging onto your small stones before you skip them one by one into the middle of the river. One or ten, send them to And make sure your friends have done the same - even if they write their very first stone this afternoon.

A short post, which is always a good excuse for a poem. Here's one of my old favourites. Have lovely Fridays x


It Was Like This: You Were Happy

It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.

It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.

At other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent – what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.

It does this not in forgiveness –
between you, there is nothing to forgive –
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,
all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.

Jane Hirschfield

Thursday 10 February 2011

The dirty business of publishing (and a new daily small stone group)

When I was on a poetry course once, our tutor talked to us one evening about, as he put it, 'the dirty business of publishing'. This seemed like a perfectly apt description to me. 

It's all very well having pure intentions about connecting with the world. 

What happens when we ask you for your submissions for the river of stones book?

If you're used to submitting your work, you might be like me - sending your writing off with only a faint mix of hope, fear and weariness.

If you've never sent any of your writing to be looked at with critical eyes, you might be quaking underneath the sofa. 

Those used to submitting will know this process well. Our egos really come to attention when we think we're going to be judged (which we are). Some people will struggle with a too-large ego (how DARE they not like my writing? Are they stupid or just mad?) and others with a terrible sense of unworthiness (what makes me think I have any right to ask anyone to read my work?).

If we want to get published in traditional places, then that's just the beginning of the dirty business of publishing. Next there are the rejections (there will be many if we want to be published), and how we recover from them. There is the problem of being accepted, which might lead to a sugar-rush of pride which leads us wanting more (more more more). There's the fear of what people will think of our words when they're out in the world (will they think it's any good? Will they understand us?). There's the disappointment of low sales, or the book not looking like we hoped it would look. Etc. Etc. Etc.

It would feel easier sometimes to keep all my writing in a beautiful notebook under my pillow. Writing only for ourselves is a very good thing - it changes us, and when we change we will have different interactions with the world.

What we're doing with the river of stones book is a much softer version of the usual business of publishing. We are making judgements - whether we like this small stone better, or this one. We can't avoid that. But we'd love to include small stones from as many people as we possibly can - whether you're a beginner or an old hand. We've already taken a lovely small stone from over 95% of current submissions, even though you haven't heard from us yet.

And we are very glad that 160 of you have sent us your small stone submissions. Regardless of how they're written (which varies depending on how much writing (and reading) you've done previously, how carefully things are observed, your use of language, and a good hefty dose of Kaspa & I's idiosyncratic personal opinion) I've such enjoyed knowing that you have been writing in January, and sharing in your worlds.

Sharing what we've written can be very rewarding. There's NOTHING like knowing that you've made someone else smile, or nod in recognition, or say 'mmm' at an exquisite description. You've given me & Kaspa that gift. Thank you. Keep sending those submissions in.

In other exciting news, Margo has started a group on our new community forum called 'Daily Gathering', for anyone who is interested in continuing the daily small stone challenge (or less frequently). There's space to post your daily small stones, and also the possibility to discuss form, technique etc. Most of all you'll have the opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by other writers in the same position as you. To sign up for the forum you need to answer a few questions (e.g. what are your favourite authors) and then I'll 'approve' you (this is just to stop spammers joining the forum). Then find the groups on the left hand side. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Book cover! pay attention: a river of stones

the river of stones book

Here it is! The cover design for the book we're creating to remember and celebrate the January 2011 river. (If you are on our mailing list you will have seen this already.) 

Since the beginning of this month, well over a hundred people have submitted ten of their favorite stones for us to consider. It's been really interesting to read through the submissions and see which themes occur over and over again, to see what works well as a small-stone and what doesn't work so well.

Right from the beginning of the project we've been encouraging you to really look, and listen and so on and record what you discover. The best of the stones are ones that put us straight in touch with the world, often in a fresh way. In the best small stones, the writer is almost invisible.

I looked up Vicki Feaver's page on the Poetry Archive after I learnt she was reading at The Shore in Edinburgh, along with small stone writer Alistair Cook (who will be reading some small stones there). At the top of the page is a wonderful quote from Feaver that echoes what I've learnt reading the stones:
In a good poem the poet disappears. That's what the struggle with language is all about. The point is that in the finished poem you don't lay yourself bare. You create a strongbox of words
For me, when a writer lays themselves bare it creates a closed piece of writing without any mystery. I'm reminded of what the Japanese playwright Zeami said: "When you feel ten, express seven." The audience is drawn in by the mystery; into conversation with the performer. In the space between seven and ten there is a question: What is hidden? What is the mystery of human nature? Of the world?

The best small stones leave me with something to think about, rather than telling me how it is. If the question of the stone is answered in the stone - what is there to take away?

We've included something from nearly everyone that has submitted to us. The ones that we're not including fall into two categories, they are either too long and not small stones, or they lay the writer bare, to the exclusion of anything else.

We have had some really lovely submissions. If you have written small stones and haven't submitted, we'd still love to hear from you. I know looking at my own stones I sometimes don't want anyone else to see them at all, but a fresh pair of eyes might see something completely different. Send, send, send!

The submission deadline is the 28th February. Email ten of your favorites to me, Kaspalita. Please write your small stones in the body of the email and include your name.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

What next? Book submissions and more

(image by zimpenfish)

Wow. It's been really wonderful reading everyone's last stones. As well of the stones lots of people have either emailed or written on their blogs about the process of writing and how good it's been. It's been  really touching to read everyone's comments and stories. Fiona and I are really pleased how well a river of stones has taken off. Thank you all.

What next?

1) Join the writing community at Writing Our Way Home.

2) Look out for the July 2011 river of stones.

3) Submit to the January 2011 book (see below).

a river of stones book
To remember the January 2011 river Fiona and I are going to produce a beautiful book with a selection of your stones in. We spent some time looking at cover designs this morning and I'm very excited. As well as lots of wonderful pieces of your writing we're going to include some articles about the process of observing and of writing.

what you need to do to submit
Although Fiona and I have read lots of your stones, because so many people were writing it's been impossible to read every single one. I'd like each person who wants to be included in the book to choose up to ten small stones and email me. 

A book has a finite number of pages and so Fiona and I are going to wield the editorial red pen. We want this to be really special and will be choosing stones that compliment one another. 

In the body of the email please put up to ten of your favourite stones (polish them first, if you like) and your name. Nothing else (we're hoping to get lots and lots of these, so I want to make it as easy for us to collate as possible). Please put aros in the subject of the email, and send it to me: Kaspalita (

Submission deadline: Feburary 28th

Remember, this isn't the end. Lots of people are still writing small stones everyday, and even if you stop writing, the practice of being open the world is one we can all engage in (I know I have room for improvement here!)

Thank you again everyone... Until next time.


Kaspa & Fiona

The sound of silence (and win a free book)

Thank you all SO much for your small stones and lovely comments and emails. We'll be back soon with submission requirements for the river of stones book, but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy one of the weekly musings from my book A Year of Questions: How to slow down and fall in love with life. I'm giving three copies away as a celebration of the new site and forum, if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning, just email me with 'book' as the title before the 14th of Feb. It might be your Valentine...


This weekend I'm off to Salisbury for a day-long meditation. There will be an opportunity to sit still in a silent room with other people for half hour intervals from 10 am until 4 pm. Nobody will look up into each other’s eyes once we have begun. We’ll be on our own.

There's a part of me that can't wait for this. A whole day to sit and just be. And there's another part that's terrified! What will it be like to stop 'doing' for so long? What will emerge from the silence?

This meditation day is a chapter in my ongoing battle between clearing space in my life and filling it back up again. No sooner have I arranged a free weekend or cut back on a commitment, than I find myself saying yes to something else, or deciding to start a new writing project.

I know that more space is a good thing for me. It feeds my muse, and it puts me back in touch with who I am and what I really want. But I need to acknowledge that it's scary too. Sometimes it’s only when we give ourselves enough space that we get ill, or feel sad or angry. What have I been trying to avoid?

Things you might be curious about

What happens when you give yourself enough space to get in touch with yourself? What resistance do you have to doing nothing and just being? What opportunities might you have to stop doing and start being a bit more?

Suggestions for this week

Put aside a short period of time each day to be quiet, or a longer period at the weekend. Sit and do nothing. During this time, note the thoughts and feelings that arise and then let them go. Afterwards, be gently curious about what came up for you.

I love the deep quiet in which I live and grow against the world and harvest what they cannot take from me by fire or sword. 
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. 
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh