Posts tagged books
The Story of Blotto Botany and a Giveaway!
Blotto Botany: A Lesson in Healing Cordials & Plant Magic

“Blotto Botany started out as a self published zine, something I made while living in a tiny farmhouse attic in Maine. It serves as a constant reminder to do what I love and listen to both my gut and plant allies. Here within the pages of this book, I invite you to make of these recipes what you will. Expand on them, love them, swap plants, swap spirits. This book is meant to be a look into an herbalists log; a variety of experiments and delicious concoctions intended to sprout new idea and connect you with tradition.
Drink to your health, your ancestors, and your friends. Make zines, write daily, make plants and stay true to your own tastes and well-being.”
- An excerpt from Blotto Botany


Creating something is never easy. It’s a daunting, exhausting and consuming experience, while at the same time, rewarding and exhilarating - all the “ings” really. Over the course of 18 months, I poured my heart into the making of this little book. I cried, I giggled, I worried, I judged myself, I acted like a diva brat at times. There were days where I drank too much and days where I didn’t do anything but press the “yes I’m still watching” button on Netflix. From what I understand, this is a very typical process when working on a project so near, dear and long winded. 

The story of Blotto Botany goes like this: 

Back in early 2016, I created a zine called Blotto Botany: a Lesson in Cordial Making. It was 4 inches tall and consisted of pages, that I folded and bound together with string. I created it in a small attic bedroom in an old Maine farmhouse, while navigating heartache and questioning my career path as an herbalist. I wanted to share my love of cordials in book form and a zine seemed like the natural (and cheapest) path for me. I sold it on Etsy then in my own online shop as well as shops around the country. 

6 months later, a lovely editor from HarperCollins found my zine in a shop called, Hauswitch. She took it home and over the course of a few months, recreated some of its recipes. That following January, she got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in turning Blotto Botany into a full length book with HarperCollins. Thinking it was a joke or somehow a mistake on this editors part, my mom, aunt and I scoured the internet to make sure that this was a legitimate human. Much to our delight, she was indeed a real human with a very real and historic publishing company. So we scheduled a time to chat on the phone and from there, we proceeded. 

From there it was a few months of negotiations before I could get started on the manuscript. I spent the summer writing, testing, merrily enjoying my situation while at the same time, feeling inadequate - though the joy and gratitude was more apparent for me. Once the manuscript was turned in, my words were passed around to multiple editors to make sure everything was accurate and well said. When I finally got the go ahead in September, I was able to fully start working on the illustrations, which I mostly completed in about 3 weeks. I also took all the photos for the book, but that is a story for another day…

The process was long and full of unique emotions for me. When you hold Blotto Botany (or any book!!) in your hands, know that is the the result of incredible love and devotion. This little book taught me so much and I’m insanely grateful that I got to bring it out into the world with the help of a really badass editor and a publishing company. And all the friends that listened to me whine and cry more than a few times..


Leave a comment below with your email for an extra chance to win a copy of Blotto Botany for you and a friend! US entries only, please.


Here are some commonly asked questions:

Are you self published?

No. Blotto Botany is published by Morrow Gift, which is an imprint of HarperCollins publisher.

Will you be selling Blotto Botany in the Gingertooth & Twine shop?

Yes. You can get signed copies HERE and you can find other places to shop HERE

Can I order copies of Blotto Botany for my shop?

Yes!! It means so much to me to help you get the book into your shop. While I personally cannot sell the book to you, you can contact to get the book wholesale.

Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan
Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan

What was the process of getting your publisher to believe in your book?

I had the unique experience of being approached by a publisher. The fact that I had made a zine version of B.B. to present and had been selling it for over a year was extremely helpful. So my advice (which could be helpful or not at all), is to start making zines.

The process of editing and scanning the book was different. Since the book has remained so true to its original zine format, it was a unique process and required a bit of explaining from both my editor and I. But we stuck with the vision and successfully saw it through!

Does it matter where I purchase the book? Will you still get the same amount of money?

Unless you are purchasing the book from me directly, either at a signing or somewhere else in person, I get the same amount of money. I’m always supportive of purchasing the book from a local bookshop, but Amazon sales do help the book rank on best seller lists. It’s really up to you where you’d like to purchase the book.

How did you come up with all your recipes?

I’m going to sound like a real asshole right now, but creating recipes is what keeps me up at night. I get most of my ideas as I’m trying to sleep. Coming up with new recipes and figuring out how to relate them back to herbalism is so exciting for me and it’s definitely something that feels so natural for me to do. I also read a lot of cookbooks and watch many food related shows, so I often bounce around what I’ve learned in those moments before bed. With a lot of the recipes in Blotto Botany, I created the cordial name before actually deciding what would be in that cordial.



Leave a comment below with your email and Instagram handle for an extra chance to win a copy of Blotto Botany for you and a friend! US entries only, please. Giveaway closes on Tuesday 10-23.

The original Blotto Botany zine

The original Blotto Botany zine

Essential Books for the Burgeoning Plant Nerd

It's hard for me to call a place home if there aren't any books around. I will readily admit that I have an obsession with books. They take up a majority of the space amongst my things and I almost always fall asleep with a book somewhere in my bed. Books have always provided some source of comfort for me. If I'm having an off day, I often find myself headed in the direction of the nearest bookstore or Goodwill to space out and focus on the lives of all those fictional folk whose stories I have yet to meet. Even before I could read, I felt the pull of the written word. I collected, stacked and organized my books. I found books with blank pages and scribbled upon each line as if I were writing the worlds greatest prose. I was a little weirdo about books and I suppose I still am...

When I first moved to California from Maine to attend herb school, I took 4 books on herbalism, a well loved copy of Patti Smith's, Just Kids, a collection of Richard Brautigan novels and Arthur Rimbaud's, Illuminations. As I unpacked my things in my new little redwood cottage, I felt a lack of something; it was the limited presence of books in my new little house that gave me a ragged, haunted feeling. I admittedly panicked and bought as many books I could get my hands on (typically under $5 bucks as I was a student spending my money on plants, jars and rent). 

Here I've compiled some of those books I sought comfort in and drew knowledge from during my time in the redwoods and now. These authors have have been my greatest teachers, critics and friends throughout my herbal journey and I'm excited to share them with you. I feel that know, more than ever, is the time to arm yourself with such allies and learn as much as you can. Learn for yourself, your community, your family, your animal friends and your earth. 

Got a book or zine you want to add? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!



Healing Foods

Botanical Brews

Medicine Making