Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic is Now Available in Paperback

Hands up who forgot the clocks were going back this morning. At least they went in the right direction and who doesn’t love gaining an hour on a Sunday morning? Looking out of the windows today, it’s evident our long, hot summer has truly disappeared. With whispers of winter once again making themselves heard, it’s always inviting to hibernate with a pile of stories to escape into. So it’s fitting that Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic is now available to buy in paperback format.

Click here for a direct link to buy your copy!

Getting to this point has been nothing short of a labour of love. Many a snatched hour and late night has gone into the production of our first book-baby. As we’re sure you will agree, it’s not too shabby. Christmas will be upon us in the blink of an eye and we think it’d make a great gift.

Please join us in celebrating the launch live on Facebook. Tune in on Friday 6th November at 8pm UK time for story readings, prizes and Q&A. Bring a cocktail or cuppa, so we can toast our fabulous authors and chosen charity, Rosa.

What readers are saying

“Bought. Read first few. Tears, smiles and a feeling that I am not and never have been alone in my mental health journey through this virus! Thank you ladies and well done.”

Ruth, on Facebook

“A hard-hitting, beautifully written, account of authors’ experiences of this pandemic. I have been floored by the writing.”

Ben, on Twitter

About the book

Birch Moon Press is thrilled to announce their inaugural publication is available to buy in paperback. Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic captures a variety of womens’ voices, under the 2020 spring lockdown.

Grief but not as we’ve known it. A bird in a cage and a magical wishing horse. Panic attacks, supermarket trips and high expectations. Sex, love and loneliness in solitude. Envisioned futures worth hoping for? Sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes sad and sometimes wistful, this collection of 20 pieces of poetry and prose, real life and fiction is drenched with love and humanity.

100% of the profits from both the paperback and e-book will be donated to Rosa. Grant making UK charity, Rosa, is committed to putting an end to violence against women and girls. Funding a diverse range of women’s organisations, they tackle the big issues of our time. Learn more about their fantastic work through their website and by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Bringing plans to fruition

And then it was September.

I don’t know about you, but after those months in lockdown which seemed to go on forever the summer of relative freedom has flown by!

Here at Birch Moon Press our attention has been split in all sorts of different ways as we’ve each navigated the summer with our families, balancing work and play and self care and all the life admin that never seems to take a break… Progress with Heartache and Hope has suffered a little in the meantime, with snatched conversations about the details of the paperback publication never quite reaching a conclusion.

But as August shifted into September everything started to feel a little bit more possible again, and we should hopefully have the exciting new of a publication date to share very soon…

The paperback proof copy of Heartache and Hope next to a computer keyboard.

We have also enjoyed a magnificent full moon over this past few days – the Vine Moon in the Celtic moon calendar that led us to our name. And just as the symbolism of the Birch Moon captured our excitement for planning for the future and embracing new opportunities this current lunar month holds motivation of a different kind.

Magic must be balanced with action now, so use nature’s last burst of energy, visible in the vibrant fall colors, to inspire you to complete projects that you started earlier in the year.

I have often found with my writing that, against all my best intentions, summer is never quite the productive time I hope it might be – I convince myself that all those hours of daylight should add up to much more time to do stuff, but actually that ‘stuff’ tends to be much more rooted in relaxation and pleasure than in work. And that’s ok. But it does mean, come September, I am more than ready to get back to a more industrious routine.

So it is with the press.

And we have lots still to do – the aforementioned paperback, some formalising of our structure, and all sorts of decisions about what our next projects might be.

Against the backdrop of a world that is still full of uncertainty and unease it feels good to be bedding back into the serious business of making ideas become reality, harnessing that lunar energy to bring our plans to fruition.

Spoken word poetry at the Primadonna Festival

We were thrilled to have some of our Heartache and Hope authors feature in the Primadonna Festival earlier this month. This is the first UK literary festival to specifically give prominence to work by women and underrepresented groups. As a press supporting women’s voices, it’s right up our street!

The inaugural festival was in 2019 and brought writers, readers, publishers and many more together for a weekend of performance, conversation and creativity. This year, for obvious reasons, the festival was a virtual one but was just as jam-packed with inspiration.

Our favourite session (not that we’re biased or anything) was ‘Poems at Lunchtime’ hosted by poet and author Salena Godden. Two writers from our anthology – Laura Hanna and Micha Colombo – were part of the fabulous lineup. We’re fans of spoken word poetry and the session was by turns funny, moving, thoughtful and honest, with authors in locations all over the country bringing their words to life. It brought tears to our eyes and is well worth watching.

You can see Laura reading an extract from All the Things I Hear (Sounds of Isolation), a haunting and honest mixed-form piece, at 6.07, and Micha at 24.36 reading her beautiful poem To Water. Both pieces are in Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic

Grab a cuppa (or even some lunch… ) and enjoy!

Please visit the Primadonna website to find out more about the festival and catch up with the rest of programme.

How to Download Ebooks Directly to Your Phone or eReader

As you all know, we proudly published our first anthology last week. Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic was launched, mostly with great success. However, a few people have asked us for specific instructions on how to download ebooks directly to their phones and eReaders, so we thought this blog would be useful. Please get in touch on social media or at if you have any queries.

As a not-for-profit press, downloading Heartache and Hope directly from our website means we avoid third-party distribution fees and can maximise our donation to the wonderful charity Rosa.

How to download ebooks

The following step by step guide is for ePub files which will work on phones and non Kindle eReaders. For Kindles, please follow steps 1-8, then head to Amazon using this link, for their own instructions.

Should you wish to order the paperback for Heartache and Hope, please subscribe below and we will be in touch as soon as it’s available.

Step by step guide for how to download ebooks

Step one: head to the web page selling the book (or click on the image below) and hit the buy button. This will take you to PayPal.

buy heartache and hope

Step two: complete the PayPal form and purchase your book.

Step three: after purchasing your book you will get the following page, asking which file you need. Select “mobi” for kindles and the kindle app or “ePub” for phones and other eReaders.

Step four: once you click on the mobi or ePub link, you will be asked to confirm your download.

Step five: after selecting “download” you will see a little arrow appear in the right-hand corner of your screen to show that the file is being downloaded.

Step six: once the download is complete, you need to retrieve your download wherever your device store its files.

Step seven: go into the “files” app and find the downloads folder.

Step eight: double click on your file which will send it to your books app.

Step nine: open your books app and you’ll find the download in your library.

We hope you enjoy reading our book!

Heartache and Hope Launch Party

On the 3rd of July 2020, we launched our first publication ‘Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic’ which is available to buy now. We have chosen to give 100% of the profits from this book to Rosa, a charity supporting women and girls.

The initial idea for the book came while we were on a zoom call, so we thought a celebration over Zoom seemed rather fitting. We also wanted to be able to share the event with our authors who made the book possible, and our supporters, so we found ourselves going out Live on our Facebook page. Here’s a replay if you want to catch up on anything you missed:

During the session, we spoke about the book, how we pulled together such a big project in such a short space of time and looked to the future of the press. We also opened up about the pieces we wrote, why we chose them and the emotions involved in the journey to where we are now.

The session featured our three words competition, where we asked the authors and our social media audience to contribute three of their own words to sum up the lockdown. The winners were announced on our Facebook page and received a free download of the ebook.

We’d like to thank everybody for their contributions and have put them together in the word cloud below.

It appears we are not alone in feeling that lockdown has had a profound effect – both pushing us apart and pulling us closer together.

It definitely has been the strangest of times.

Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic | E-book Available to Buy Now!

Grief but not as we’ve known it. A bird in a cage and a magical wishing horse. Panic attacks, supermarket trips and high expectations. Sex, love and loneliness in solitude. Envisioned futures worth hoping for? 

Sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes sad and sometimes wistful, this collection of 20 pieces of poetry and prose, real life and fiction is shot through with love and humanity. The first publication of our not-for-profit Birch Moon Press, ‘Heartache and Hope’ gathers a range of women’s voices on life under lockdown. 

Download your copy right now for just £2.99, to any mobile device, by clicking “buy”. You will be taken to PayPal and once your purchase has been confirmed, you’ll be given the option to download a .mobi file (for kindle) or .epub file for Apple Books and other reading devices. The process should take less than one minute and is encrypted for security. Check out our step by step download guide, should you need it.

We are a not-for-profit press and downloading Heartache and Hope directly means that we would not pay commission to a third-party distributor. Which, in turn, means raising even more money for our chosen charity Rosa, to whom we are donating 100% of the profits from this anthology. Alternatively, you can purchase Heartache and Hope from the major online bookstores listed here.

If you would like to purchase a printed copy of Heartache and Hope, please sign up to the waiting list below:

Rosa is a grantmaking charity funding grassroots women’s organisations to make the UK a fairer, safer place for women and girls. Over the past 12 years, Rosa has funded a breadth of specialist women’s organisations and services across the UK working on: economic justice, health and wellbeing, leadership and representation, and safety.

Most recently, Rosa launched an Emergency Fund for BME Women’s Organisations, in partnership with Imkaan, to secure funding for its Covid-19 Response Fund. Rosa’s network of grantees include organisations led by and for BME women, deaf and disabled women, LGBTQI+ communities, survivors of gender-based violence, and more – many of which have been marginalised and excluded from existing funding systems.

A-Z of contributing authors to Heartache and Hope

Rachael B is a writer, poet, communications consultant and personal coach based in London. The thread that runs through all of these roles is connection. She has been writing poetry and stories for as long as she can remember, and although she has had a few poems published in anthologies from her days on the spoken word scene, this is her first published short story. She welcomes anyone who connects with “Once a Day” on a personal level to get in touch if they are moved to do so. You can reach Rachael on Twitter.

Maddy Bennett is an artist, writer and mum of three boys. She lives on a windy hillside in Northumberland where she creates drawings and linocuts for various people and projects – including her greetings card business, Helena Handcart – and pens occasional poems and short stories. She can often be found reading, wandering down country lanes and wondering who ate all the crisps. You can browse her portfolio on her website and follow her on Instagram | Facebook and Twitter.

Micha Colombo is an actor, writer and voice artist based in the South-West. She is particularly interested in stories that explore female voices and experiences. She has mainly been spending lockdown playing the role of UN peace-keeper to her three young kids, attempting to grow vegetables and slowly losing track of time. You can follow Micha on Twitter and Instagram.

Reneé Davis lives in London with her husband and three home educated children and blogs at Mummytries about their roller coaster life. She likes to keep things real in a world that is overly curated and is doing everything in her power to give her kids a childhood they don’t spend a lifetime having to recover from. Reneé’s autobiographical self-help book Become the Best You details her own dysfunctional upbringing and how she turned her life around after mental breakdown and rock bottom. Reneé is also a gut health and fermented food advocate and loves nothing more than cooking up a storm. You can follow her all over social media @mummytries.

Iona Fraser lives in mid Sussex with her family. Her background and work in foraging and mycology heavily influence her writing style. She is currently writing a novel, which she hopes will be published in the next year (or two).

Luisa Giordano is a mum of four children, wife, teacher, trainee therapist and an ad-hoc writer of poetry. She writes to make sense of herself and the context of her life – and it gives her great pleasure to do so.

Laura Hanna is a British-Egyptian actor, singer, theatre-maker and writer from London. She has a degree in English Language and Literature and trained at LAMDA. Born from her love of collaborative, multi-disciplinary work, she has recently begun writing, so far attempting poetry and drama. She also contributes to The Pitch Process, which she co-founded in 2018 to provide coaching in communication and presentation skills for charities and organisations. You can find Laura on Instagram and Twitter.

Kamsin Kaneko is a writer, mum, teacher, and traveller (not necessarily in that order). She has lived in China, Japan, Bosnia, her native UK and currently, calls Singapore home. She holds an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. She writes about living across cultures and the power of creativity to transform your life. You can find her on Instagram most days capturing small moments of beauty in the urban jungle of Singapore. Visit Kamsin’s site for freebies and to learn more about her writing.

Sophie Lovett is a mother, writer, teacher and activist currently living in Devon where she home educates her two boys. As well as writing fiction, Sophie blogs about alternative approaches to parenting and education at Raising Revolutionaries and is currently working on a book of the same title. When she’s not doing any of this she is most likely to be found swimming in the sea and dreaming of the better world we all know is possible. You can connect with Sophie on Instagram and Twitter.

Chrissie Metcalf is a writer, mother and tech geek from the South Coast of the UK. An avid fan of NaNoWriMo, she writes at least one first draft of a novel per year and is working towards making them beautiful enough to be published. 2020 is her second year in the Romantic Novelist’s Association New Writers’ Scheme. When she’s not writing, she’s experimenting with new technology, knitting, and talking about life with mental illness.

Alice Speirs is a wife, mother and writer. She’s woven her way back to a childhood love of writing from her former career as a nurse. She writes occasional poems and prose but is mainly working on her first novel. When not writing, or child wrangling, she can either be found outside in nature or indoors with a book. You can find her on Instagram.

Jo Winwood is a retired secondary English teacher who has invented people and stories since she was old enough to skip across the room and entertain an audience. She writes flash fiction, short stories and is currently writing her second novel. She is originally from Birmingham but now lives in Oxfordshire, the county of her mother’s birth, with her family and cats. (Funny how things come full circle.) You can follow Jo on Twitter and through her blog Jo’s Writing Space.

Nikki Young is a freelance writer, author and editor. She lives in Kent with her husband, three children, a crazy Boston Terrier dog and a needy rescue cat. Nikki is the author of children’s books The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants, Time School: We Will Remember Them and Time School: We Will Honour Them. In addition to writing middle grade and young adult fiction Nikki runs, Storymakers, a creative writing club that provides weekly groups, holiday workshops and 1:1 tuition for children aged seven and above. You can learn more through Nikki’s website and social channels Instagram | Facebook and Twitter.

Get in touch with us on social media @birchmoonpress and tell us what you think of Heartache and Hope!

You’re Invited to Our Virtual Book Launch!

Join us live on Facebook for the virtual launch of our first publication.

Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic will be available to buy from Friday 3rd July. Our live event on Facebook will start at 8pm.

There will be a competition to win copies of the ebook, author readings and a lively Q&A session. Head over to our Facebook page for all the details.

We look forward to seeing you there so you can join us in celebrating. Don’t forget to bring a drink!

Our Story

Birch Moon Press is a not-for-profit organisation, run by women and supporting female voices. That’s the short version, at least.  As an independent press though, we’re all about stories and we thought you might like to hear a little more of ours…

Our press is run by six women: Maddy, Chrissie, Alice, Sophie, Reneé and Nicola.  Back in 2014 we were all bloggers juggling small kids, jobs, families and a shared dream to become published authors. We met through our blogs and soon formed our own online creative writing group to help us achieve our goals. The group quickly grew to over fifty members and, while there was no requirement to be female in order to join us, somehow that’s how it turned out.

In the years since then, many of us have met up multiple times in real life, books, poetry and stories of all kinds have burst from amongst us and great friendships have developed and flourished. We’ve been through good times and bad and between us we’ve seen what amazing things can be achieved when women support each other.

As a supportive group, naturally, when the pandemic hit and spirits were low, we arranged a zoom call. And so, early in lockdown, some of us found ourselves chatting about what we could do to make those times a little brighter. We came up with an idea to produce and publish a book of short stories and poetry together – something creative and cathartic to give us a positive focus during the pandemic. We weren’t sure how we were going to achieve it but we have a whole range of publishing, writing and illustrating experience between us so anything seemed possible. And as we wrote and planned and chatted over the subsequent weeks our little project developed to include more writers, potential further publications, a plan to donate profits to charity and then, well, we needed a whole new press to achieve this through! 

As for the name – the Birch Moon is the first month in the Celtic calendar running from December 24th (just after the winter solstice) to January 20th. It is a time of new beginnings, of re-birth and regeneration, of planning for the future and embracing new potentials and opportunities. 

As we worked on our project we began to see our publications – present and future – as something good that could arise from the pain and grief of the pandemic. Our press was that new beginning, that possibility, that opportunity that the birch moon traditionally represents. And so Birch Moon Press it became.

Our logo has six birch trees to represent the six of us… but, like trees in a forest, we hope to support many more.