Publishers of books that change lives

Steve Biddulph talks about the relationship between mother and son

Is there a more intense, challenging and yet heart-warming relationship in our lives? Well, possibly mothers and daughters, but that’s a subject for another time.  When I wrote Raising Boys almost 25 years ago, I was aiming to solve one of the problems that most came along in my work with families in crisis or trouble – how to help mums and sons get along.

This month I am releasing a completely rewritten update of that classic book, because times have changed and there is just so much more helpful stuff coming out from researchers into boy psychology.  First of all, the news that boys brains really are much more vulnerable.  It starts in the womb, as the production of testosterone by the boys’ own body actually slows down his brain growth.  We don’t know why this is, but it means he is vulnerable for longer, well into his first year of life, to stress and anxiety (as well as nasty chemicals like pthalates in plastics, which has been linked to ADHD and other problems).  But the main message is that we need to take care of young parents, and mums especially, so they can relax, bond, and engage in that lovely dance of tenderness and comfort that helps a baby learn to regulate their emotions and grow the brain structures that determine a calm and happy level of mental heatlh.

The Full On Fours is another stage – we knew about this – where most boys get very active about this age, but the science has moved on, and it looks like a very early beginning of being not just a toddler, but a BOY toddler.  Of course, every boy is different and so don’t let this be a prescription.  We talk in the book about how to respond to those energy levels, and not make your boy feel bad for being rambunctious. Human beings are very active creatures and we still need to allow for that.

The Emotional Eights are a new discovery from the Murdoch Institute. The actual brain changes at eight signal the Adrenarche, or pre-puberty shift in adrenal hormones, and your son may become very volatile and need help to understand his own inner turmoil.

And did I mention adolescence? Well, there’s lots about that too because there are a thousand different ways to be a boy. How to keep boys safe, happy, and loving and happy with the girls in their lives, so that they stay friends with their mothers long into adulthood.

What could create more happiness than to have that warmth when they are adult, and into our old age! A son who loves us back, and isn’t afraid to show it. What a Mother’s Day present.

More information on Raising Boys in the 21st Century can be found here >>

11 questions in 11 minutes with author Vicki Laveau-Harvie

  1. What is your idea of bliss?

My idea of bliss is a bookshop, big enough to browse in, good lighting, thoughtful displays, with somewhere to sit. Shelves full of books chosen by staff who read and love books, and who become my Best Book Friends Forever. If I can also order coffee there, I’m in heaven.

  1. What is the trait you least like about yourself?

I sometimes second-guess myself, question my first impulse, try to see both sides of any story, and miss the moment when I should speak my mind, undiluted. So basically an occasional failing of self-belief and an excess of prudence.

  1. What do you consider to be the most overrated virtues?

Sociability in excess – I think we all need solitude to know who we are and what we think, and perhaps to write it down.  And I believe any virtue in excess is overrated: prudence, temperance. I like balance.

  1. Greatest regret?

Any situation where I simply didn’t dare, when there was no reason why I shouldn’t have gone for what I wanted. There have been a few of those.

  1. Who would be your nemesis?

Unfortunately, my mother.

  1. Which talent would you most like to have?

On a lighter note, I have never been able to do a decent cartwheel. It’s probably too late now, but I wish I could.

  1. Biggest dislike?

Hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, racism. misogyny and the arrogance of ignorance.

  1. Qualities you admire in a man?

I prize honesty, kindness, intelligence, a sense of perspective, humour, confidence.

  1. Qualities you admire in a woman?

And ditto, as for a man: honesty, kindness, intelligence, a big view of the issues, a sense of humour and a sense of self.

  1. What is your best characteristic?

I know I’m resilient, and I like to believe I am open-minded and warm-hearted. I’m sure about resilient, anyhow.

  1. What would your motto be?

I have a cheerful poster on my study wall that says, in letters all the colours of the rainbow: ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’. So perhaps, ‘Question your basic assumptions’, or more optimistically, ‘En avant, what the heck.’

For more information on The Erratics go to here >>

Get to know Harry Cook

Get to know Harry Cook

Harry Cook is an Australian actor and LGBTQI activ­ist. Since the age of 17 he has starred in some major film, TV and theatre productions.  Pink Ink is a memoir of Harry’s life, his career in show busi­ness, his intense battle with addiction and ultimately his resil­ience and push to find acceptance within himself. We get to know Harry a little better as he answers our 11 Questions in 11 Minutes

1.What is your idea of bliss?
An afternoon walk with my husband and our dog on the beach OR a massive tub of ice cream and a good movie.

2.What is the trait you least like about yourself?
Anxiety and over-thinking. I tend to think of the worst-case-scenario far too often.

3.What do you consider to be the most overrated virtues?
Purity. If you live your life without ever making a mistake, I feel like you aren’t living it to the fullest.

4.Greatest regret?
I try not to regret anything, unless it’s eating an entire tub of ice cream.

5.Who would be your nemesis?
Bigots. I don’t have time for people who believe that human rights are negotiable. Human rights are for everyone.

6.Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to play the piano. I used to play as a child but never kept at it. I’ve been thinking of picking it back up recently.

7.Biggest dislike?

8.Qualities you admire in a man?

9.Qualities you admire in a woman?

10.What is your best characteristic?

11.What would your motto be?
Work hard and be nice.

Custom Publishing: So what is it all about?

Sam Miles talks about custom publishing and the successful launch of News Time

Custom Publishing: So what’s it all about?

On Friday March 9, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of smoothfm radio Breakfast host Glenn Daniel’s memoir called News Time. Held at Doltone House it was a remarkably swish affair, with fairy lights, large photos from the book arranged around the room, a host of glamorous people from the radio industry and many, many glasses of champagne!

News Time is Glenn’s recollections of his time spent in commercial FM radio, from the humble beginnings of 2UE in a small building on the outskirts of western Sydney, and spans his 35 years spent at 2SM, 2Day FM, Triple M, ABC News Radio and 101.7 WSFM. It is a fascinating book, full of all the behind the scenes stories that you never get to hear about, as well as containing some truly memorable photos and radio memorabilia.

About 7 months earlier Glenn had come to visit us at Mona Vale and discussed the idea for turning his manuscript into a book. He didn’t want it available in bookshops, as he wanted to sell it through his connections and through a website, to help raise funds for St Alfred’s Hospital. He did want a professionally produced book and through discussions we reached an agreement where we would edit, proofread, design and style Glenn’s book, and then organise printing and shipping. There was also an option to help market the book but as Glenn had the full force of Nova radio network behind him, this was not necessary.

Glenn turned out to not only one of the nicest men in the universe but a dream author: quick to respond, decisive when required, considerate of all the issues and just a real pleasure to work with.

Luckily for me as the project manager, News Time turned out beautifully and Glenn was very happy with the finished book. As Glenn had poured his heart and soul into the book I was one very nervous person on the day it was due to be delivered. I was even having dreams about boxes of books falling off trucks or all the photos being printed upside down!

The service we offered Glenn is called custom publishing. It works well for authors who want their books produced within a particular timeframe or for talks or conferences. As publicity and marketing for books on our publishing list usually start at least 7 months before the book is even edited, traditional publishing always takes a lot longer than many people think. It is not the production that takes up so much time but the pre-selling into bookshops. Custom publishing is also a great option for authors who want a professionally produced book to give as corporate gifts, to sell at seminars or through their own websites or have as family treasures.

We treat your manuscript with as much care and consideration as we would with any book on our publishing list. We use the same people we use for our own books and apply the same standards of quality. We can also help you publicise and market your book, which is almost a full time job in self, as many self-published authors will attest!

Glenn’s book can be found at Having survived cancer and open heart surgery, all profits from the sale of News Time will be donated to the Cardiac Research Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for its ‘world first’ valve replacement program without open heart surgery. Not only is it a really interesting read, you will be supporting a fantastic cause.

Welcome Back to 2018 with Sam Miles Publishing Manager

Welcome everyone to the new year at Finch! Already Christmas seems like eons ago…and we have well and truly shaken the sand out of our shoes, eaten the last pine-lime splice ice block and said goodbye to little micro naps after lunch.  It’s back to work!

This year we do have some good reads coming up and pretty much something for everyone. We start the year with some girl power, with Working Mums and Women Like UsWorking Mums is a wonderful collection of stories from well known and not so well known women who work and also happen to be mums. They tell us how they manage the juggle of childcare, their careers and their lives with honesty and clarity. The very funny Mandy Nolan is back in May, and this time with a companion, fellow comic Ellen Briggs, to tell us how it really is to be a women in today’s world in  Women Like Us. They pose the question: Can you be a true feminist and still like to wear nice clothes and high heels? and dive into other pressing issues of being a woman. Not just funny they also offer really quite insightful discussions on body image, marriage, children and raising children. Both Mandy and Ellen tell it how it is, and we applaud them for it.

In May we also have the revised and updated edition of the best-selling and well-loved book Raising Boys from Steve Biddulph. Raising Boys in the Twenty-first Century offers information on how to raise sons in a world which offers gender equality, respect, and a whole new kind of manhood, but is still battered by toxic masculinity, pornography and emotional muteness.  Steve has worked with families for 40 years. During that time he has helped change the nature of boys’ education, brought a generation of fathers into hands-on engagement with their kids, and given mothers the confidence to love their sons and not be afraid of them.  He believes the old saying “boys will be boys” is a weak copout and isn’t afraid to say so. As Steve says, Boys will be the men we make them.  Definitely one to stock up on for any new parents, and parents who want the latest info on how to raise boys.

In June we have the winner of the 2017 Memoir prize and what an astonishingly good read it is! The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie will grip you from the first page. I could not put it down! It is one of the best memoirs we have ever published, in my opinion.

Then for a complete change of pace, in July we have Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail, a wonderful frank, funny and fascinating account of one man’s time in jail and the lessons he learned. If you have ever wondered what life is really like on the inside, then this is for you. I was laughing through my hands with this, more than a little bit horrified but still amused at some of the events that happened.

For all sporting fans we have Around the Grounds by sporting broadcaster Peter Newlinds. For so many years the voice of ABC’s ‘Grandstand’, Peter has some wonderful inspiring stories to tell about his most memorable moments in sport. His stories range from watching the West Indies bowl the bejezus out of the Australians, to covering the most dramatic Sydney to Hobart yatch race in sailing history. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s you will love really love this. You don’t even have to like sport that much to enjoy it!

In September we have another memoir for you, this one of a slightly different kind. Australian actor Harry Cook’s story of growing up gay in contemporary society and how that shaped his future direction in life. Although only quite young, Harry brings a depth of wisdom earned through the hard yards of experience to his tale, and the book is a great insight into looking just how far we have come as an egalitarian and accepting society… and still how far we have to go. It offers comfort and hope to other people who may be going through their own trials and tribulations, in all aspects of life.

I do hope you enjoy your reading this year…and please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment or an email sharing your reactions to our books. It helps us know what you like and what we can do more of!

Cold Vein and MamaMia Podcast

As a regular listenter to some of the podcasts from the MamaMia network I was beyond all states of excitement when I accompanied our author Anne Tonner, the winner of the 2017 Finch Memoir Prize for her book Cold Vein, to the offices of MamaMia in Surry Hills, to record a podcast episode of No Filter with none other than Mia Freedman herself.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as we entered the rather ordinary looking building and took the lift to the third floor but was hugely surprised to discover, upon exiting the lift, a huge (like I mean HUGE) light-filled room filled with desks and computers and people. There was also plants and astro turf and the steady, slightly manic energy of a lot of very busy people.
The podcast recording studio itself is quite small, completely blacked out on the inside and the walls covered in soundproof padding. (I am sure there is a technical name but I have no idea what it is, basically it looked like grey foam eggshell cartons.) I shoved myself in the corner, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible while Anne sat at the desk, looking a bit like she was about to endure a rather unpleasant counselling session…I did feel for her as doing interviews can be quite taxing and frightening but I knew she has prepared. Then Mia swept in and I was surprised to see that she was about as big as me (i.e. short and small) and was not wearing typical office-like clothes but a tee shirt and cargo combat pants. However, she did have on a very impressive pair of silver sneakers which I immediately wanted. A lot.
She very quickly made Anne feel comfortable, asked her if there was anything she didn’t want to talk about and then launched into the interview. For a full hour, without any notes or even referring to the book itself, Mia was able to vividly recall exact wording and phrasing of parts of Anne’s story, and asked some very insightful and interning questions. I was actually rather impressed with her skill (not to mention her sneakers) and thought that Anne answered all her questions beautifully and thoughtfully. It really was a terrific experience and I am sure it will make a great interview. I hope you can find some time to listen to it when it comes out on the No Filter podcast today.
Follow the links below

Anyone for a cup of tea? Or not?

My younger son started uni last year and we have been talking about dating and yes, ok, about sex, which lead to a discussion on recognising a Yes or a No. The signs of sexual consent. Yes, tricky!

He told me that the student body had posted The Cup of Tea PSA, a clever Thames Valley Police 3 minute video featuring stick figures, to ensure the first years understood the concept of sexual consent on campus.

In The Cup of Tea PSA, rules of consent are explained using that most fantastic of English traditions, tea drinking. Almost universally you will be asked the question in every home in Britain, ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

Tea as a euphemism, well, well!

The video begins with the very up front and straight down the line, ‘Oh my God, I would love a cup of tea!’ response, no grey lines here. But then it moves into illustrating where consent lines can get blurry. These responses range from the fairly simple: to understanding that your guest did want tea, but changed his or her mind once you put the kettle on, to the less clear: your guest isn’t really sure how to feel about tea right now.

If you say, ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea?’ and your guest answers, ‘Uh, you know, I’m not really sure,’ then you can make them a cup of tea, but be aware that they might not drink it.

And if they don’t drink it, then — and this is the important bit — don’t make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean they have to drink it. And if they say, ‘No, thank you’, then don’t make them tea. At all.

The video goes on to explain what to do if someone loses consciousness while you are asking them if they want tea, even if they said yes prior to passing out, ‘you should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe and, this is the important part again, don’t make them drink the tea.’

That’s a lot of talk of tea and I get it, I do. My son said that yes it was an important message but he doesn’t have to remember the making a cup of tea analogy to recognise the signs of sexual consent from potential partners and he certainly would never give tea to anyone unconscious!

In Love, Sex and No Regrets for Today’s Teens, author Elizabeth Clarke writes about how important it is being able to practise saying, ‘I’m not comfortable with that, I don’t know you that well, I want to know you better’ or simply ‘No’.

Elizabeth stresses that a healthy sexuality for teens comes down to being old enough and mature enough to know how to say ‘No’ when you need to and to recognise when your partner is saying ‘No’. That means if you aren’t getting a response from your partner, if there’s shrugging or suggestions of ‘I don’t know’ then that is a ‘No’.  An unenthusiastic anything is a ‘No’.

‘Yes, just do it’, or ‘I may as well get it over with’, are responses that really shouldn’t be heard but seem to be accepted in our sexualised society where boundaries do get blurry and issues of self-worth aren’t discussed. Elizabeth tells us what these ‘No’ signs are from other people in a straightforward, honest way.

The Brits do love their tea and the PSA does get the message across, albeit very simplistically.  However, it does ultimately demonstrate the importance of  ‘No means No, which is a message our teenagers need to know the signs of, with or without a cup of tea as their guide.

Sarah Blundell

Getting a Lift Mick’s Way – Ep1

Mick Miller has a chat with some important people in his life in his faithful ’68 VW Beetle. Mick survived cancer and packed up the Rocket and headed out around Australia. He speaks with some of the people who helped make that possible for him and the resulting book Travelling Australia Mick’s Way.

Finch Memoir Prize announced!!

Finch Publishing is pleased to announce that the winner for the 2018 Finch Memoir Prize is Vicki Laveau-Harvie with Okotoks Erratic.
The three judges, Candida Baker, Caroline Baum and Mark O’Flynn, were in complete agreement about this dark humoured story of an out of control family beset with decay and bitterness.
Caroline Baum said, ‘Okotoks Erratic grabbed me by the throat and never let go …  Its sharp vinegary tone added  a thrilling and bracing  note to  this portrayal  of an extreme  dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place … I loved it.’
Candida Baker described the manuscript as reminding her of ‘a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro’.
Mark O’Flynn said the writing was ‘clear and concise, and wonderfully written’.
The winner, Vicki Laveau-Harvie, says: I am so very pleased to be the winner of the 2018 FinchMemoir Prize. Writing memoir represents freedom and possibility for anyone who chooses to do it. To share what I’ve written as a result of this prize will be an enduring joy for me.’
The judges also wished to award a Highly Commended to Fay Keegan and her manuscript
All Stations to Waterfall.
The winning manuscript will be published in June 2018.

Mix it up this Christmas, come on step out of your Book Comfort Zone! 

A typical conversation between my husband and myself about a new book goes something like this:

Me: Just finished this great book. Do you want to read it? I think you’ll enjoy it.
Him: Mmm is it a Sci-fi?
Me: No it is a surprisingly compelling memoir given the subject matter. I didn’t want to put it down…
Him: Sounds like a YOU sort of book… I am on book #23 of [insert sci-fi series here] at the moment, so no I don’t think so.
Me: (eye rolling)

Book comfort zones, we all have one, that safe couple of aisles in the bookstore where we feel guaranteed to find something that we will enjoy. My husband resides squarely in Sci-fi land, sometimes straying onto thriller aisle but very rarely.

I was chatting to the fountain of all wisdom, my hairdresser, about this phenomenon and it turns out that most people are either firmly in the fiction or non-fiction camp and rarely cross over. As an example her husband will not read anything other than a biography or memoir.

Now I have a confession to make. Prior to working here at Finch Publishing I would rarely, if ever, go into the non-fiction section, maybe for a cookbook and then only to satisfy my guilt and have a quick look at the dieting books but basically that was it. My comfort zone is definitely in the fiction section. I prefer novels, a TV drama over a reality TV show and would rather watch a movie instead of documentary any day!

Well that was then and since non-fiction has become a necessary part of my reading – at times the only reading I have time to do – a whole new section in the bookstore has revealed itself to me. Intriguing, well written memoirs allowing me to share someone’s story, now present themselves invitingly. I have taken steps past the rows and rows of cook books to discover a land of new titles. I Knew You’d Have Brown Eyes, Home Truths, Emotional Fitness, The Happiness Quest , Raise Your Voice and yes I know they are all FINCH titles but they were all new to me and each one filled with the potential for changing my life!

Some truly have, after reading The Priests by James Miller I realised that my brother may also have suffered from a type of PTSD and so began to look at things with different eyes. Home Truths by Mandy Nolan is a totally underrated book particularly if you are a mum completely over the yummy mummy crew, this one will give you a good laugh with your glass of Pinot Gris and made me re-evaluate what I call ‘Home’ and why. Life a Guide by Andrew Fuller is the only book that my husband actually picked up and it truly did help him get out of bed one morning…Hitchy Feet, Cold Vein, Love Sex and No Regrets so many more have all had an effect on me.

So really all I am saying is, yes, there are those comforting aisles in your bookshop where we all feel safe and at home, familiar authors with familiar covers, but maybe step beyond those on your next visit and pick up something that is truly out of your book comfort zone and you may be pleasantly surprised!