I Know

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

Not long after I had my baby boy last year, a friend added me to a Mum’s group on Facebook – the kind of closed group where people ask questions and share advice about parenting.

Tonight, I left the group. I can no longer deal with the completely ignorant, trivial, outrageously stupid comments. It’s infuriating. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention of the group.

I’m honestly surprised I remained a part of it for so long. Sure, there have been a few helpful posts from time to time, but not often enough to justify seeing absolute dribble pop up in my timeline more often than desired.

Perhaps something went wrong when I had my baby. I didn’t change as a person. I didn’t grind my life to a halt and spend every moment obsessing about my child. I didn’t become paranoid about germs and noise pollution.

I am still the same person.

In fact, I might even be a bit better. A tad wiser. And even less interested in being diplomatic.

Because, after having a child, here’s one thing I know more than anything else: having a child does not make you intelligent or productive or logical or accomplished or attractive. If you didn’t have it before you were a parent, you aren’t going to have it after becoming one.

And contrary to what the world will have you believe, we are not all born equal. I am not the same as you or him or her and certainly not them. We are the product of our environment, our genes, our choices, our experiences, our opinions, our attitude and so much more. Some people are better than others. That’s not even up for debate. It’s the bloody truth. And if you disagree, if you’re offended, you should probably stop reading now.

This is only going to get worse.

Tonight’s post, the one that raised my blood pressure and quickly prompted me to hit ‘leave group’, was from a mum expressing concern that the childcare centre she was considering enrolling her son in had a male carer and that was a major turn off to her. Because, you know, male carers in childcare centres must automatically be child molesters.

I was actually a little disgusted by her view. I read through the comments on the post and some people thought she was being overly paranoid and others agreed with her. And then I thought; I wonder what people would have said if she expressed concern about an Asian carer at the childcare centre? Or an Indian one? Or a homosexual carer?

And then I thought; what kind of men does this woman have in her life? Because all of the men in mine are wonderful and decent and exceptional, and dare I say it, sometimes much better people than their female counterparts.

And then I thought; how did we get to a point where it’s ok to validly and publicly assume that the actions of a few horrible men can define an entire gender and generation?

And then I thought; I bet she watches A Current Affair every night. That or Today Tonight. Because if you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer or you’re more ignorant than informed, it’s the exact type of deluded paranoia that these pathetic programs rely on to keep their ratings afloat.

And now, typing away furiously, I think; why just men? Women can be violent and abusive. What about that?

So that was it for me.

That and the fact I’m not actually interested in half the shit these mothers talk about. Parenting isn’t actually that complicated. Your child is not a robot designed to mimic your life and embody your hopes and dreams. Your job as a parent is to equip your child for the world, to the best of your abilities – to encourage them, to help them grow – physically, emotionally, mentally – to guide them, to give them the tools to be the best person they can possibly be, and hopefully use that in a way that helps others.

No one talks about that in this group. The focus is on more important things, like, you know, how to get your child to sleep in later, so you can sleep in later, and how to buy a house in the right zone so you can get the best education for your child without having to pay for it, and where to stay in Bali, and ‘oh, where was that café again, the one where I can sip my decaf-skim-latte-and-let-my-kids-run-wild?’, and how to give solids to your child, and why weet-bix are evil, and ‘where can I buy a realistic looking doll that doesn’t look too doll-like but is still a doll?’

There’s a lot of that going on.

It’s all funny memes and quotes about motherhood that are supposed to make an ordinary woman who has never done anything significant with her life feel better about her decision to bear children and cries of ‘I’m boooooooored, what can I do today?’

Bored? Bored? I haven’t been bored a day in my life.

And now, thankfully, I won’t get infuriated half as often either.

The mums I know – the ones I’ve made friends with and met along the way – are all amazing women. So I console myself with the hope that the ones that grate me so much are far and few between. Because I don’t want my son growing up in a world where he thinks that being a male child care worker, or a male anything, is weird or uncomfortable or unmanly.

I don’t want him to believe that what he sees on television and in advertising is a true depiction of what it means to be a man. Newsflash; not every man loves his shed and only knows how to navigate a remote control and enjoys beer and is stupid/embarrassing to his family.

For all our efforts in telling girls they can be anything they want (and they can), and for all the trail-blazing in helping them get there, we have somehow left behind a few huge gaping holes for our boys.

The holes are everywhere. On our TV screens and in our iPhones and in our schools and coming out of the mouths of women.

Enough.

To the woman concerned about her son being in a centre with a male childcare worker, I only want to know your answer to this:

If you think so poorly of men, how can you ever hope to raise a good man?

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I Am

30

Tyler Knott Gregson - Wrinkles

Tomorrow, I turn 30.

It’s exciting.

People keep asking me how I feel about it.

I don’t quite know what to say.

Apart from the fact I am excited.

There’s more hype when the clock ticks over and you enter a new decade. It’s more of a big deal. Even though it’s very likely that you feel the exact same as you did the decade earlier.

And I do feel the same. Truth be told, I still feel 17.

Well, maybe 17 is a stretch. When I was 17 I was starting University. I don’t feel the same as I do then. I probably feel more like 22.

22. That was a good year.

Actually, all of my years have been good years.

I keep thinking that maybe 30 should be a bigger deal for me. That there should be some clearing out and reinventing and some serious life changes.

But I’ve kind of done all that, to a degree. I like to clear out and reinvent regularly, so as to avoid big life overhauls. I try to work towards being a better version of myself everyday. Not just on grand occasions.

It’s kind of nice to enter a new decade feeling relatively sorted. Without stress or anxiety. Quietly content.

I’ve made a life for myself – one filled with love, good people, a job made up of work that never feels like it, tear-inducing laughter more than is probably necessary and a sense of purpose – a life that I wake up every day chomping at the bit to get stuck into. None of that needs reinventing. I don’t want to clear any of it out.

I will approach 30 with the same attitude I approach any birthday, new year or Monday; with a promise to grab life by the balls and live like I mean it.

Tomorrow I will wake up next to the man that I love. I’ll plant kisses all over my little boy, who is so incredibly perfect it sometimes hurts. I’ll have breakfast and a coffee and walk my dogs through the hills. I’ll venture into the city with O and soak in the Melbourne sunshine while we meander the streets, stopping to watch buskers or the trams. We’ll play at the park for a while. Maybe we’ll pop into the library. Or a Musica Viva concert. Maybe we’ll just be for a while. And there’ll be calls from the people I love and kisses from family and the opening of presents and the excitement of my birthday party mere days away and I will probably sit back at some point and think, ‘well, isn’t this lovely.’

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I Know

Scare The World

Scare The World

I believe two of the most important things in life are being yourself, wholly and fully, and being honest, with yourself, and everyone else.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve grappled with the idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – doing the ‘right’ thing as opposed to what’s right for me. I’ve grappled with being the ‘bigger’ person, as opposed to being the best version of myself.

I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago. And then the other night I drifted from it, just a little bit. And when, the next morning, I realised I’d drifted, I felt sick. To my core.

So I swiftly went about fixing things. For me. Which was not particularly easy. But it was necessary. So necessary.

Because if you’re not who you say you are, then you’re no one. If you’re not the person you promise you will be when the time comes to be it, then you won’t ever be anything.

People spend half their lives ranting in their heads about all the things they’ll do and the words they’ll say, and then they stumble and quaver and choose the easy way out, the one that involves making no choices or avoiding the truth or shying away from the conflict or maybe all of those things combined. And they mask it all with phrases of ‘being the better person’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘keeping the peace’ whilst the truth almost chokes them.

Here’s a few truths; if you sit on the fence, you’ll live your whole life with splinters up your arse. If you avoid conflict, chances are you’ll end up creating more of it. And if you avoid the truth, you are gutless.

It’s easy to say who you are but much harder to be it. But you should never waiver from who you are.

So make the tough calls. Take risks. Stick to your word. Swallow the lump in your throat. Be bloody bold. Make yourself proud.

Scare the world.

And every other mofo who dares to stop you from being honest and being you.

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I Know

It’s Worth Remembering…

It’s worth remembering that people, not all, but some, will take advantage of you when and if they can.

Being taken advantage of isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that people will often forget the things you have done for them; the very good things. The things you have sacrificed. The time you have spent helping them.

People forgetting the things you have done isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

And it sometimes results in being taken advantage of.

It’s worth remembering not to have too much to do with dumb people.

Dumb people are dumb.

They are forgetful. They aren’t ‘with it’. They’re rarely up-to-speed.

When you have things to do with dumb people you spend a lot of time repeating yourself. Going over old ground. Going around in circles.

It isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that some people are selfish. Some people are obviously selfish and some are less so but selfish is selfish.

So because of that it’s worth remembering to look after yourself; your priorities and interests, first and foremost, before you sacrifice too much and put the dreams and ideas of others before your own.

Because in the end those people will look after themselves; they will take advantage and forget the things you have done because they are dumb and selfish.

And being too loyal, too kind, doesn’t win you any prizes.

Sometimes there’s no prize to be won.

Maybe there’s some acknowledgement or recognition. Maybe there’s a little thank you or some appreciation.

It’s worth remembering that you won’t always get that, even if you never expected it.

And so, it’s worth remembering that you can learn your lesson once, twice, even three times and then still find yourself back to where you once were, wondering how you forgot about people that take advantage and forget the things you have done, people that are selfish and dumb.

So try not to forget.

Do your very best to remember.

Put your energy and effort into the things you love, the things that build your dreams in the night and pump blood to your heart in the day.

Spend your time with the people you know are not selfish and dumb.

And then you will not be forgotten. Or taken advantage of.

But be grateful you once forgot, because it reminded you to stop and walk in a straight line, along some new ground.

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I Am, I Do, I Know

Why I Love Him

This morning I read this beautiful piece, written by Malcolm Turnbull, to his wife, Lucy.

And I loved every line. It’s about real love; the kind that is enduring and somewhat rare. It’s about honest love; love that has grown, with people that have grown.

My favourite lines are these:

Yet, truthfully, we have been so lucky in so many ways. To meet the love of your life at all, let alone at such a young age, is such a blessing.

Over the years, we have grown together. It is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of “Lucy and me” than I do of “me”.

I think I love this piece so much because it reminds me of my great love.

I met my husband when I was 17. He was 19. We have grown and evolved and changed but we did it together, teetering a fine line between growing and thriving personally and staying together, on the same path, walking beside each other but never for each other.

We did it, truthfully, without great effort. Without trying too hard. Or being too conscious of it.

I know people, couples, that have been wonderful but they met and then grew and then grew apart.

I’m not sure why we didn’t grow apart. Life has pulled us in different directions, it has sometimes even chewed one of us up and spat us out, somewhere far away, but together we have stayed.

I also don’t remember what it’s like to not be with Kaz. Even though we both have separate interests, and do things together, but often apart, I know he is always there, somewhere, metaphorically hovering around.

Perhaps that’s where our strength has been; being together whilst also remaining ourselves, pursuing our own interests, whilst supporting and fiercely defending each other.

Perhaps it’s because, before anything else, he is my best friend. And that has never waivered.

Perhaps we are lucky, but I don’t particularly believe in luck. Perhaps we have worked hard at it, but I know that hasn’t been the case, at least not most of the time. Or perhaps it’s because it just works, without too much effort, and maybe that’s the most important part.

Kaz and Sandi Sieger

On our wedding day 

There are so many reasons as to why I love Kaz; because he is kind and caring. Because he is funny and witty. Because he is talented and modest. Because he is fair and clever.

But maybe, and maybe somewhat selfishly, I love him because of how he makes me feel and how he improves my life.

Because he makes me laugh, when I need it most. Because he finds humour, and beauty, in things I would sometimes ignore.

Because he pushes me to be better, when I think I am, or have done, enough.

Because he makes me happy.

Because when I was in labour with O, he was brave, when I needed to be brave, even though he was more frightened than me.

Because he teaches me things, all the time, probably without even knowing it.

Because he makes me more capable than I already am.

Because he is my greatest cheerleader.

Because he usually makes me see the other side of an argument, or issue, and even though I usually fight the point, or disagree, I am later thankful. Sometimes I even change my mind.

I don’t remember ever thinking, or believing, that we’d never end up together, forever. I never saw my life without him in it. I still don’t. It’s unimaginable.

I know what we have is special. Sometimes people tell us that, and it’s a nice reminder. Sometimes we recognise it ourselves. Sometimes, I see a film, or read a piece like I did this morning, and I think, ‘I have that. We have that.’

And it’s all kinds of wonderful.

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I Do

Travelling Made Easy Thanks To My Little Pocket Rocket Friend

First published in onyamagazine.com


Point Leo

I’m currently enjoying a gorgeous summer break on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. My days consist of morning beach walks in Balnarring and Somers, bike rides, meandering around markets, exploring Arthur’s Seat, Red Hill and Flinders, sipping iced coffees in cafes, swimming at Point Leo, catching up on my reading pile and spending time with family.

It’s bliss.

But here’s the thing; I don’t really ever have the luxury of switching off. Well, at least not completely. It’s more about picking and choosing my moments. In my line of work – digital and social media – things don’t ever really stop.

And while I enjoy my holidays immensely, I still need to be connected. Truth be told, I still like being connected.

And that’s where the Telstra Pre-Paid Wi-Fi 4G comes in handy. I need quick, fast internet that I can use on the run and most importantly, I need it to be reliable. No drop outs. No painfully slow speeds. And thankfully, this little 4G pocket rocket delivers.

I’ve been able to stay on top of a few projects that needed my attention while away, I’ve been able to FaceTime my mum from my iPhone so she doesn’t miss out on seeing my eight month old – all from the holiday house, local café or beach. Yes, the beach. I mean, which Grandma wouldn’t want to see this face having fun in the sand?

Sandi Sieger and O

FaceTiming Mum from Point Leo

I love that the Mobile Wi-Fi 4G hotspot is light, compact and functional. It’s 2014 and I don’t believe internet is a luxury, or that it’s even optional; it’s a necessity. A must have. For work and social purposes. I certainly can’t live without it. And thanks to my little pocket rocket friend, I don’t ever have to.

For more information on the Telstra Pre-Paid Wi-Fi 4G, click here

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I Do

A Hills Christmas

I’ve started blogging for a local magazine, The Hillscene. Here’s my first; ‘A Hills Christmas’.

Bethany Claire Cakes

This year, like the past couple of years, I’ll be doing all my Christmas shopping in the hills. I find no reason to venture off the hill; after all, we have some of the best shopping, produce and wine in all of Victoria. We’re truly spoiled for choice. And here’s the thing; I’d much rather support local traders and small businesses – my neighbours – than get frazzled spending forty-five minutes trying to find a car park at a big shopping centre only to leave with a headache.

So here’s a few of my favourite shopping haunts – for Christmas (and everyday) – I hope they inspire you to discover some of the wonderful treats we have on our doorstep.

Hugs for Kids: I’m so happy this gorgeous store opened in Belgrave over a year ago. With clothes, accessories and toys for babies, toddlers and children, I honestly have to restrain myself from buying half the store when I’m in there.

Soak Bathecary at Sassafras: One word – divine. Perfumes, candles, balms, soaps, scrubs…this store is heaven scent (see what I did there?) You’ll likely want to eat a candle or munch on some soap so enticing are the smells. They have some wonderful gift packs at this time of year. I don’t know a woman who wouldn’t love one.

Cream at Sassafras: A foodie’s heaven. Jams, pickles, nougats, ice-creams, cheeses, marinades, gourmet treats of all sorts…pick up a few things for the table at Christmas or create hampers for loved ones. I guarantee that no one could possibly be disappointed with a treat from Cream.

Tea Leaves at Sassafras: The destination for tea lovers. With over 300 luscious teas and infusions from all over the world, not to mention delicious flavoured coffees, hit up Tea Leaves for the one that likes a brew in your life. They also stock a gorgeous array of teapots, cups and accessories.

The Confectory at Belgrave: Merchants of all things sweet for those big and small in your life. I absolutely love the selection at The Confectory, and they also stock a great range of vegan, gluten free and sugar free treats. An essential stop before Christmas.

Cameo Cinemas at Belgrave: Christmas shopping is never completed before a few Cameo gift cards are purchased – they make a wonderful present, for all ages.

Smits & Bits: This Sassafras based treasure trove is always a winner – full to the brim of gorgeous homewares.

Belgrave Book Barn: Great prices, great selection. No more words needed.

Olinda Cellars: This family business is probably one of the last true wine cellars; boutique wine specialists, selecting wine on taste, not value. Pick up a few bottles for Christmas lunch (and dinner) or their incredible range is sure to make a perfect gift.

I also like to hit up the local arts, craft and produce markets before Christmas. Here’s some of my favourites:

Kallista Community Market: First Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm

Emerald Craft & Produce Market: Third Sunday of the month, 9am-3pm

Belgrave Big Dreams Market: Second Sunday of the month, 9am-2pm

Grassroots Markets: Next market March 29, 9am-2pm at Upwey

Image credit: Adriana Alvarez

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I Know

It’s Not Often Enough…

It’s not often enough, in amongst the daily grind, and the busy-ness, and the rush, and the hopping between text messages and email bings and Twitter notifications, and the running to and from, and the endless pursuit of ticking things off the to-do list, and the driving here and there, listening to ads screeching through the radio, and the beeping and the ringing, and the reorganising and the scheduling, and the managing and the planning, that we sit back, truly sit back, and realise, recognise, how good this life is.

How wonderfully, beautifully, incredibly good it all is.

And it is.

It’s so, so good.

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I Am, I Do

Cutting Through The Bullshit

There’s a quiet still in my house that can only come from it being 6.15am on a Sunday morning. My husband is asleep, the baby is asleep… even my chow chow is curled up and breathing deeply.

It’s a nice place to be. It’s a nice thing to sit in the thick of. And, I’ve realised, sometimes you need moments of pure silence so you can hear yourself the clearest, and the loudest.

Over the past few days I’ve been meaning to find a moment to sit and reassess. Check in with myself and make sure everything’s on track. I’m generally in a good rhythm, but sometimes I can miss a beat.

Missing beats, for me, aren’t necessarily big things. They’re little things that, over time, add up until suddenly I find myself wondering…what am I doing?

You know what I mean.

The meeting you agreed to, but probably shouldn’t have. The coffee date you wish you hadn’t have made. Time spent doing a favour for someone you don’t even like…when you should have just said no. The phone call you keep taking. The salesperson you allowed to sway you, just a little.

I saw a dear friend yesterday, Gaynor Alder, and she said something that I know is true (and couldn’t have come at a better time):

“You’re all about cutting through the bullshit. It’s what I love about you.”

I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullshit. I just can’t stand it and I’ve no interest in playing with it. But, like anyone, from time to time I find myself dancing in a little pile of it, because I think that’s what’s required to play along… but it isn’t.

And the reality is that now, more than ever before, I’ve got the best ‘excuse’ for my zero tolerance policy. He’s about 57cm long and cute as a button.

A couple of months ago, my best friend Mickey told me that after you have a child, you really reassess what’s important in your life. Your friendships, your job, your commitments, everything, because your time is so precious. And you do, even in a subconscious way. Sometimes, even before your baby has entered the world.

Since having my little boy, I’ve been surprised at how determined I am to do better and be better. My passion for my work has not trembled. But my time has, and with that, my questioning of what I want to value my time with.

Do I want to travel to and spend time in meetings devoid of actual purpose? No. Do I want to sit and meet with faux friends, the ones who natter on about their everything, but fail to ask how you are? Hell no.

I want to sit in meetings that matter. Meetings that achieve things. Have coffee with people that allow for a two-way conversation. I want to work, and write, and continue to grow Onya Magazine, and O&S Publishing, and run camps for kids and be a goddamn firecracker, but I don’t want to waste any time.

So I’m reassessing. I’m cutting through the bullshit. I’m making sure I’m on track. Not missing any beats.

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I Write

Show + Tell

A few months ago, I stumbled upon new website Show + Tell, the brainchild of Monty Dimond and Brooke Campbell (read my interview with Monty here, where she explains the inspiration behind the website). I loved it instantly – its rawness, freshness and realness appealed to me.

So, naturally, I was thrilled to have a little piece of writing appear on there recently.

Check it out here.

Show + Tell

Stay tuned for more!

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I Do, I Read

Books Don’t Harm Kids, They Arm Them

“Books don’t harm kids, they arm them.” – Mem Fox

I popped into The Little Bookroom on Degraves Street in Melbourne yesterday afternoon. Of course, now I’ve legitimately got a reason to spend quite a bit of time scouring the shelves. I just love the little store – and I would have been mad about it as a child.

I was mad about books as a youngster. Still am. And it’s a love I hope my little man inherits. I read him a story every day. Many people would say it’s a waste of time. Many people would assume he doesn’t understand any part of it. But I know that with each story being read his language is developing. His mind and imagination are expanding. He’s becoming more empathetic, more understanding, more curious. And it’s a beautiful part of my day, one of my favourites, sitting with him and reading.

“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.”  ― Mem Fox, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

When I was two years old, I had already memorised my favourite book, The Little Red Caboose. I never struggled with reading, not for a single moment. I know the confidence that comes from being able to read and communicate well. It’s a basic skill I believe all children should have – and it’s not hard for them to have, all we need to do is read to them. Five minutes a day. To change their lives forever.

And so, because I love books, and because I’m armoured with all the reasons as to why reading is so beneficial for children (if you need the reasons, check out Mem Fox’s Reading Magic), I can’t stop buying them for O. I’ve gone a little mad. But I think it’s more than worth it.

photo copy 3

Vader's Little Princess

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I Write

Wine Day Trips and Where To Eat in Melbourne…

Melbourne Restaurants

If you love Melbourne, you’ll enjoy my latest blogs for Forbes Travel Guide…

Melbourne is renowned for its world-class food — the strong influences from various cultures shine through in its restaurant offerings. From European and Cantonese flavours to a 19th-century mansion serving contemporary Australian fare, there’s no doubt taste buds will be pleased with this city’s eats…so where are my top five restaurants? Find out here.

and

When you think of wine regions around Melbourne, the famed Yarra Valley, an area peppered with vineyards and postcard views, is usually the destination du jour for locals and tourists alike. But, if you prefer venturing off the beaten path, the following trails and regions are well worth exploring. So where to go? Click here for my unique wine trails.

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I Do

Sincere Forms of Flattery

Sincere Forms of Flattery

So, I’m certain you already know about O&S Publishing, a little e-pub business I started with my friend, Olivia Hambrett. And I know I’ve written about Sincere Forms of Flattery on this blog before. And now, there’s only one week left until we release our little love project – très exciting.

But if you don’t know? Here’s what it’s about…

It was the idea that started it all. An anthology that drew together a cluster of top notch young writers and asked them to write a short story in the style of their most beloved writer. Accompanying the story would be an essay on why their chosen writer is so important to them and how their own craft has been affected by this wordsmith. The anthology would be an homage to writers of the past and those who continue to enthrall today. A volume of love and appreciation.

Originally, we were going to print it, but when the idea for O&S Publishing took hold, we decided to make Sincere Forms of Flattery our first title, and try e-publishing. We would have complete editorial and aesthetic control and the book would be instantly and globally available.

SFOF brings together a handful of some of the most exciting voices we know, honouring some of the most terrific voices literature has ever known. It will be the first title of O&S Publishing and it is coming this year.

Get ready for a seriously good read.

Sincere Forms of Flattery will be available for download on June 3rd, 2013 for $7.99. If you would like to pre-order your copy, at the discounted rate of $5.99, please email sfoforders@gmail.com with your name, email address and what e-reading device you use by June 2nd and we will contact you with the next (extremely uncomplicated) steps. 

I’m so excited to share this fab, fab read with you all.

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