Youngblood Blog

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Under the Wire: November Writing Retreat, Celtic New Year’s style

Insecure Writers’ Support Group [IWSG] Corner

November 5th 2014 weather anomaly Eastern/Central U.S. CA basks in eternal sunshine, map ©NOAA

November 5th 2014 weather anomaly Eastern/Central U.S. CA basks in eternal sunshine, map

Many times this eventful year, I have longed for time/space to write—at least a few lines at my leisure—within my comfort zone. Events have a way of redirecting our otherwise good intentions, don’t they?

So far, 2014 has been short on leisure.

November heralds Celtic New Year and I’m no farther forward than last Samhainn.

Astrochart for now: 11:11p.m. EDT 11/05/14 Saturn leads pack of Starhounds to Orion's chase

Astrochart for now: 11:11p.m. EDT 11/05/14 Saturn leads pack of Starhounds to Orion’s chase

And, now that fall is well and truly here, my writerly output—like my garden shed—is showing its leaks!

Driving our Engines into the Ground
It’s not that we writers aren’t driven to distraction by our need to put graphite to tree pulp; extract or express some primeval desire hidden in the God-given Word; even one in our own God-driven engine-mind. I have known a fellow scribe who went into catatonia for a fortnight—today we call it ‘withdrawal’ or ‘having a bad hair day’—because she couldn’t find her high school propelling pencil.

Like losing a cell phone or iPod, our sudden disconnection fuels our dependency.

Change of season usually alters our work pattern, anyway. Deep inside, we must be akin to swallows, electromagnetically programmed to changing home base. Bureaucratic daylight manipulation makes it worse: disturbs our brain and sleep patterns, resulting in near-writer’s block.

Heaven forbid. I hope my mind hasn’t also flown the coop, along with my summer projects.

All Fall In

Rainstorms bring water, turn grass green again

Rainstorms bring water, turn grass green again

If I’m honest, this is the time when I sometimes admit defeat, float around in ‘can’t cope’ mode for a day or two with the change in weather, or, paradoxically, don ‘wellies’ (Wellington boots, rain gear), grab a pair of lethal secateurs and get forceful with a blackberry root.

Needless to say, I’ve found the culprit: something I can blame. It’s easier to point a finger at retrograde Neptune, floundering in his own exalted sign of Pisces, or beg deathstar Pluto to release his vice-like grip on his fellow planet, Mars conjunct in restrictive structure-driven Capricorn! The ancient SeaGoat rises from the waters to vanquish all malingerers…

Under the Wire
We are, I do believe, supremely grateful for excess H20 which fell from the heavens just in time to save us from a fiery death by 2014 heatwave. Water saved us from our (continuing) careless treatment of our planetary home.

It’s mot for me to criticize. William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle has shown us the way for a decade. We are still playing games with water. I merely add my comment—and gratitude. And pray that fewer hours of light may bring me time to relax, allow me to retreat into inner worlds.

And thanks Alex, as always, for doing what you do.
Dragon of the Stars, indeed. :)
©2014 Marian Youngblood

November 6, 2014 Posted by | astrology, authors, culture, earth changes, environment, fantasy, gardening, nature | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September Blues? Consider Poor Mother Earth


Thanks to our (non-mutant) Ninja Capn. Alex, I make a seasonal appearance as last rays of summer flash, to say hi to my fellow IWSGers, but also to share the pathos of impending equinoctial changes: seasonal, earth-related, celestial and beyond—

Ancient Lughnasadh Festival of Light
I try to celebrate the end of summer, lasting—as all Druid-lore-lovers know—from mid-July to September equinox, plumbing sacred depths of fire festival season centered on:
Lammas Day, August 1st, the Glorious Twelfth.*

Mud-slides: par for course @T-in-the-Park

Mud-slides: par for course @T-in-the-Park

It spans the crazies of [Brit. advertising-cum-financial industry] ‘Silly Season’, culminating at September’s doorway in a frenzy of global music festivals: epitomized by (Brit) Leeds-Reading Extravaganza and (beer-fueled) T-in-the-Park. And BURNING MAN in the Nevada Desert.

Yet I feel pathos and sadness engulfing a season’s end, a dying earth. Our Mother Earth, especially, has suffered much this year.

Burning Man festival of light, Nevada desert

Burning Man festival of light, Nevada desert

*I am not sentimental about the killing of grouse; I never liked the practice, however fashionable and smoothly operated it’s supposed to be. I shall not change my view; but my attitude to what goes on in the ‘Old Country‘, now that I’m an ex-pat, has softened.

I know this doesn’t sound remotely like a writing moan—as our monthly corner is supposed to be—but there is a connection:

Ancient Lammas, Lughnasadh primal fire festival of the god Lugh, [‘Light’] is known across the indigenous cultural spectrum as First Harvest, Harvest Home, a time to STOP, give thanks and celebrate with offerings—bread from our table. Rejoicing in Mother Earth’s bounty, we share and celebrate her fruitfulness with good food and friends. Traditionally, harvest tables were decked with red, gold, orange, yellow, bronze, citrine, gray, and green: colors now associated with wild dress-couture-masquerade extravaganzas—particularly in U.S.

Corn dollies have been replaced by macho/Ninja? [!!] sickles, scythes, iMax giant scimitars, over fresh veggies & fruits, bread, and sun-wheels. But drumbeat rhythm focuses joy, seeps between the volcanic cracks into the Earth, honoring her cross-cultural daughters of Lugh: Freya, Demeter, Ceres, Pandora et al.—goddesses of fruitfulness,carers of the Earth thru her seasons. In this sense she (Earth Mother) and Hathor are one and the same: primeval Eve, Brittonic Bride, Norse Auohumla, great cow-giant goddess, and ancestor of the Norse gods. She is also Gaia, Sumerian Antu: who became Ishtar, goddess of love and procreation.

Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2014-style

Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2014-style

Summerend, in all cultures—ancient Lammas, now-generation and future Turtle Island—with deference to our Sci-Fi Cap’n’s focus—is always a good time for a celebration.

Now is time to enjoy drinking, eating fresh food, indulging our hedonist within— dancing, expressing joy, getting back to our roots—being oneself.

For a light-deprived northerner, I am grateful for long days of warmth, time in the garden, maybe occasionally, I think about writing…lol. But I digress.

The Caravanserai Headed East
In current Western culture, Burning Man takes precedence. Trailers are rented at great expense, shared rides go East thru the Nevada desert, to pitch camp in an awesome congregation of festival-goers—almost medieval in ethos—with singing, dancing, beating and celebrating the earth, the sun, and being alive— through music, masque, dance and new connections, made over five days.

Leeds-Reading morphs to 4-day festival, à la Burning Man

Leeds-Reading morphs to 4-day festival, à la Burning Man

Glastonbury’s Symposium begins the season mid-June, followed by July drinking madness: Scotland’s T-in the Park, above, originating in 1997 in Strathclyde Country Park, where triple stages were annually bogged down in mud.

Black Rock, NV, 2014 artwork DC

Black Rock, NV, 2014 artwork DC

2014’s TITP was last epic concert to be held on Kinross’s disused Balado field:a medically-better location, where WWII runways provided metaphorical undercarriage for nine multiple stages over three-day weekend.

But, because Forties Field oil pipeline runs under the tarmac, Scots (financial and) Government agencies started yelling ‘health&safety’, so 2014 was its swan song. T-in-the-Park 2015 will migrate to the former boarding school of Strathallan, twenty miles West in Perthshire.

Sunday morning at the ephemeral Cathedral, Black Rock Nevada-ending 2014 Burning Man

Sunday morning at the ephemeral Cathedral, Black Rock Nevada-ending 2014 Burning Man

There follows the majestic three-day wonder of Reading-Leeds Music Festival, at the height of Lammas: August 21-24, 2014.

Leeds-Reading DeafHavana & Bill Bailey

Leeds-Reading DeafHavana & Bill Bailey

It would seem the Brits are following the U.S. lead in widening the window of music sent heavenward in sheer joy of numbers.

Americans wowed by Nevada desert’s five-day Burning Man festival have yet to experience the booze-quotient of a Brit music venue: comparisons of liters/pints of beer drunk at Glastonbury vs. Leeds/Reading shock American/Canadian drinkers who, by law, have to put tankard to lip behind closed doors. Ah, the contrast.

As Britain closes for the summer, the American continent opens. Festivals ripple like musical arpeggios across barren, dry (over-watered) southern states, Austin, Dallas, Nashville. As the earth gets hotter—most of continental U.S. is in grill-bbq grip of unrelenting heat, forest fires, drought.

Here is not the place to bring up city water demands from rural salmon spawning hinterland—Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath, Trinity and Navarro— but we all know Earth is shrieking for us to slow down, take a look at what we are doing to our Pale Blue Dot, called home, and stop.

One could liken it to an Apocalypse scenario. But our Ninja Cap’n knowzzzz all about that.

Thank you Alex, always for providing a corner for a moan, a shared frisson and love for Sci-Fi, and a window on tomorrow’s world—and for letting me in under the wire—late. :)
©2014Marian Youngblood

September 3, 2014 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, belief, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, culture, festivals | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

June—Too Soon to Worry—IWSG-No-Moan-WednesDay

MONTHLY 1st WEDNESDAYS InsecureWritersSupportGroup CORNER

Cyborg-human mindbender Odyssey goes where no gender has gone before...

Cyborg-human mindbender Odyssey goes where no gender has gone before…

A baby cried, a world began.
“Heart action dropping!”
‘Jake, Eunice?’
‘Here, Boss. Grab on. There, we got you.’
‘Is it a boy or a girl?’
‘Who cares, Johann—it’s a baby—one for all and all for one!’
An old world vanished and then there was none.
Robert Heinlein, I Will Fear No Evil, ©1970

Our revered leader, Alex Cavanaugh, would be proud of us minions in the writerly field— mini-minions, even, when it comes to major Sci-fi like current faves, Her, and Gravity—for even attempting to put together occasional works of fiction of the far-out genre. My own passion is cyber-warp-time-differential stuff, with a dishy captain at the helm, of course!

So it will come as only a mild surprise to him that this month I cannot—rather will not—raise my head above the parapet—of other #Iamwriting labors—to complain.

The weather outside is too wonderful, the view of the ocean—when I have the sense to raise my sights and gaze—to die for; and life in general is giving me abundance.

When June brings such a vista, all cares vanish—

When June brings such a vista, all cares vanish—

Will my Wunderkinder colleagues therefore forgive me for not moaning this time around?

It’s June, after all. Let’s relax and enjoy life a little.

If I have to squeeze in a tweak of intellect in an otherwise cerebrally-challenged month, I might suggest that both Her, the cyber-cross-human sex movie with dishy Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg; and blockbuster Sci-fi future classic Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, are gorgeous to look at, but Her is technically based on several previous scripts: Robert Heinlein’s, top; with the lovely Samantha created from the ancient Greek-Sanskrit myth-legend of Persas, that imported Persian harlot vampire who emerged from the ocean and devoured her lovers.

But who’s doing heavy research when the scenes are so vivid and sensually surreal? :)

When our hero—and Alex’s—Robert Heinlein—use the vampire lady in his seminal—and imho under-read classic, top, I Will Fear NO Evil, his words are more relevant today than 40 years ago.

So, all that leaves me is to say thank you to our planetary host, and our mentors-in-spirit—Wells, Heinlein and Bradbury, RIP—and, of course, the legendary PERSAS for her guest appearance. And may we all continue to have mythological creatures from the deep to inspire our writing.
©2014 Marian Youngblood

June 4, 2014 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, fiction, Muse, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Second Anniversary, Insecure Writers’ Support Group

Monthly IWSG Corner

Blowing bubbles to celebrate—Happy Anniversary IWSG

Blowing bubbles to celebrate—Happy Anniversary IWSG

A long time ago we told multi-talented Alex Cavanaugh, author of sci-fi smash hits CassaStar and CassaFire—and imminent release, September 17th, CassaStorm—that if he thought he could retire afterwards and write/play his music, nobody would let him.

It seems we were right.

Not only does his third book have pre-release rave reviews, but he himself has decided to continue his backup team of support writers—us, the IWSG-moaning-minnies—who celebrate our two-year anniversary today.

His little monthly group has kept insecure writers writing—which is the whole point—but the fact that the site is to be jazzed up, amplified and opened up to more writers is the greatest news. He has put it together with the help of a team of fellow writerly bloggers, Joy Campbell, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler Susan Gourley/Kelley, L. Diane Wolfe, and Lynda Young, and hopes that it will turn into a center for writers, with tips, encouragement, support and links.


“My goal isn’t for the site to be just a database—I want it to be THE database of writing databases, with links to places like Elizabeth’s Writer’s Knowledge Database, Query Tracker, and WriteOnCon, plus tons of other links and listings of resources. It will also feature a weekly informative post or two, plus house the main list for the IWSG.”
Alex J. Cavanaugh

They aim for an October launch.

What synchronicity, Alex, just when the rest of us had thought our Muse had abandoned us…my token IWSG moan for this month…:(

_________i love y____________i love yo
______i love you♥i l_______i love you♥i lov
____i love you♥i love y___i love you♥i love y
___i love you♥i love you♥i love you_______i lo
__i love you♥i love you♥i love you_________i lo
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l_______i lo
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love ______i
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥__i l
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l_i
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lov
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lov
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l
__i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i
____i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love yo
______i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lo
_________i love you♥i love you♥i love yo
____________i love you♥i love you♥i l
______________i love you♥i love yo
_________________i love you♥i
___________________i love yo
_____________________i love
______________________i love

May great good fortune go with the launch of CassaStorm, and here’s to loads more years of IWSGing.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

September 4, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, novel, popular, writing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

SciFi for Beginners

Monthly IWSG Corner

European Crop Art: Rheigaustrasse Zurich, Switzerland July 4th 2013

European Crop Art: Rheigaustrasse Zurich, Switzerland July 4th 2013

The old folks always used to talk about the weather—for something new to say each day. It happened more in country settings where rain/sunshine affected crops, staple of life; but even city-dwellers seem to have become more weather-conscious of late—space-weather, that is—while our earthly home currently goes through some interesting changes:

Tornadoes in Minnesota, hail and rainstorms running through Missouri and down the Mississippi; annual forest fire battles ongoing in northern California—

Great Britain has had its first month of sunshine (July 2013) since 2010—bringing out a few crop circles—but the country is close to power grid overload from excess use of domestic heaters, because the solar panels don’t work!

By contrast, the Aleutians, Alaskan peninsula, Greenland, Iceland, Shetland, Nordkap and the northern Steppes of Russia had a month of blistering cloudless days, with temperatures over 100ºF.

Japan, it seems, had a month of solid rain, but there the weather is affected by the continuing Fukushima ‘clean-up’. Typhoons have followed on the volcanic ‘murmurs‘ [Richter 3 & up] ongoing in New Zealand.

According to solar buffs, it’s happening because earth, now within the sun’s year of solar maximum—an eleven-year cycle at its peak now—is getting more space weather than usual.

And if we didn’t have enough to occupy us on earth, there are next week’s spectacular Perseid meteors, that always make a show on the glorious twelfth. And glistening planets Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in the dawn sky.

It’s enough to make us writers throw caution to the ethers and turn to sci-fi. I know we IWSGers are reader-fans of sci-fi or we wouldn’t be the minions we are to our revered leader Alex. But I mean WRITE Sci-fi.

Earth envoys—the Voyager twins—enter a whole new dimension: heliopause, between solar system and hyperspace, August 2012

Earth envoys—the Voyager twins—enter a whole new dimension: heliopause, between solar system and hyperspace, August 2012

Add Comet Ison to the mix—a recurrent comet starting to appear on the outer edge of the solar system—and don’t we hear those Voyager vibes in the background? Doesn’t the sci-fi inner child in us all want to come out?

Beloved Voyager—that last vestige of ’fifties technology—hit the edge of the heliosphere, the heliopause, entered ‘outer’ space a year ago last August. Comet Ison appears shortly in our skies, bright by November. I wouldn’t be surprised if it arrives next month, September, just to add glitz and glitter to the launch of Cassastorm.

Come to think of it, Ninja Captain, are you responsible for earthly tornadoes, rain and windstorms, too?
©2013 Marian Youngblood

August 7, 2013 Posted by | astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, fiction, novel, sun, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Procrastinators? Moaning Minnies? Not us IWSGers

Monthly IWSG Corner

I wrote SHASTA: Critical Mass (forthcoming) while still in Scotland

I wrote SHASTA: Critical Mass (forthcoming) while still in Scotland; now what?

I woke up and realized it was IWSG time, with no blog up on the net, and Wednesday already half over in New Hampshire, New Jersey and New Brunswick; banks and all sleepyheads dead to the world in Europe, and who knows how many early birds up-‘n’-at-em in the Orient, Singapore, and at least three-quarters of Australia. So that makes me the late bird, with very few worms to catch.

A big ‘thank you’ to those lovelies on this great Alex-led circuit who read my last post and shared their thoughts. As a peripheral here—until my wifi and life rearrange themselves—I do appreciate input from other writers who have gone through major change. Helps to know I may still be on some kind of writing track—though some days I wonder…

One blogger bravely pointed out that living in the Pacific-NW’s beauty is a major issue in her writing. I agree. Ocean vistas squeeze into our awareness amazingly dauntingly stunningly grandiose dreams and thoughts, into a space where they don’t seem like dreams any more: it’s more like manifestation-in-process, where previously ‘stuck’ items start to feel less part of the procrastination process, more physically do-able.

That doesn’t mean I can balance my books or keep track of stuff in the ‘real’ world—I had to be told about soaring Alaskan temperatures, San Francisco gridlock—but I feel more comfortable in my skin, less ‘on the road’ gypsy. If my Muse will just let down her hair a little, then maybe my writing will, too.

With such new energy comes Schadenfreude, though: the Germanic bipolar word for ‘happy-sadness’, some say a longing, for what we left behind. All writers know what I’m talking about. Stressed, hyper, or super-relaxed and cool, we get to write about what moves us. And who could not be blessed by an ocean which stretches half way across the planet and brings new ideas/inspiration each day? But oh, those little whispers of past times, of places been to in a previous existence. Are they to become part of the next novel, perhaps?

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Mary changes with Nature and seasons

Mary changes with Nature and seasons

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row

Contrarily, I wrote ‘SHASTA: Critical Mass‘—forthcoming from AllThingsThatMatter Press—mostly while I lived in Scotland, with occasional visits to California. Now, one of that state’s 38 million residents, does that give me license to wax eloquent on my Caledonian heritage, or, as Mary might suggest, branch out like Alex and… project myself into space? Always a sci-fi addict, I am seriously tempted.

But it seems I have work to do first. And not the fun stuff—the other.

My wonderful editor who held my hand throughout 2012 during ‘Shasta‘ line edits and finals, house move crazies, etc., signed me off while surrounded by packing cases; so I blessed my good fortune and got on with house repair and plumbing permits—wipes brow. Now, several months down the line, it seems my publisher and editor weren’t totally on the same page… Guess who now has to find not only the will but the way to switch back into chop-and-slice mode, instead of what I really want to do, which is WRITE?

Schadenfreude must also mean no rest for the wicked. That, too, has a contrary feel to it. I remind myself that ‘wicked’ in trendy Brit-speak actually means ‘have fun’.

Wish me luck.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

July 3, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, consciousness, environment, fiction, Muse, nature, publishing | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

If You Can Dream… Transitions for IWSGers

Sequoia power: Nature's ultimate weapon is calm

Sequoia power: Nature’s ultimate weapon is calm

I mentioned briefly over the last few months that my various internet incidents have happened because I’ve been moving house. In my new location—the PacificNW—it’s called going through a transition. And, true to character, this forgiving climate breeds forgiving people. Transitions are what everybody is going through here. Join the club.

Nevertheless, the Pacific—some say the Redwoods—seem to have beckoning power, an influence on people who, apparently without forethought or reason, up and take off for the West: it’s almost like a mini-Goldrush, except this time, there is an element of the unknown about it. One of the most famous ‘transitioners’, Eckhart Tolle said he knew he had to move to the PacificNW because he was being called, but he felt California was too ‘out there’ for his style, so settled in British Columbia, Canada!

The realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are’
Eckhart Tolle

To each his own. All I know about is another amazing learning curve called culture shock… for another time~~~

I never was one to watch the news, so my lack of internet has only heightened my separation from the ‘old country’ on one level, but hastened my adaptation to my new adoptive one. It is said some of our greatest moments of revelation come when life knocks us for six [cricket terminology, similar to ‘out of the ball park’ :)], but it is also true that going through a transition is like an initiation ceremony in preparation for an event you don’t as yet understand…

Rudyard Kipling said it better than I ever could; I often wonder if he felt like a ‘stranger in a strange land’, a British ‘exile’ in the India of the Raj. In those days, psychosis was something everyone was more polite about: people had ‘the vapors’ or were having an ‘off day’. Sahib Rudyard wrote frivolous children’s fantasy and serious soul-searching poetry to deal with his bipolarity.

How the Leopard got his Spots—'painted by an Ethiopian'—Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories

How the Leopard got his Spots—’painted by an Ethiopian’—Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

He said a whole lot more—for his time, old Rudyard was the man with the mot juste

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:

Rudyard Kipling would be appalled by our disrespect for Nature

Rudyard Kipling would be appalled by our disrespect for Nature

This novelist, poet, literary innovator (1865-1936) also wrote The Jungle Book, and Tiger, Tiger (short story) while transitioning between London and Bombay. I wish we were all so talented. He in turn was inspired by poets of his grandfather’s generation, like William Blake:

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Williuam Blake (1757-1827)

Both men of their times were inspired by Nature—in their era still plentiful, unendangered and thrilling to witness. What it seems our generation has dealt us are a few scattered rhino, an elephant population preserved in tiny spaces for the cameras, and still (sadly) plentiful zoos. Kipling would be appalled to learn of our disrespect for Nature, our wholesale slaughter of helpless creatures under pressure from big business to cash in.

William Shakespeare said ‘Needs must when the Devil drives…but I prefer Kipling’s calm in the face of mayhem.

The new enlightenment is supposed to come from the West—so say Herr Tolle and others. It looks like I need to take the poet’s advice and keep my head. Solar flares, hell or high water, we writers may be insecure, but we owe it to ourselves to stay in that calm pool: thank you Mr Kipling for allowing us still to dream.

And thanks as ever to Alex and IWSGers, of course.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

June 5, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, crop circles, fiction, writing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

IWSG: Desert Island Inventory: Books for a Transition

Monthly IWSG Corner

Some time between in post-fifties Britain before the ‘Sixties’ revolution, BBC Radio aired a weekly show, Desert Island Disks, allowing a celebrity castaway to a fictional ‘desert island’ to take with him a handful of favored tunes, to accompany him in his exultant solitude.

Some of you will know I recently moved lock, stock and library shelves to a new abode [PDT is my excuse for being three hours late, Alex]. And while my internet hiccups continue—I know, it’s getting boring—I seem to have discovered a Desert Island Inventory of my own.

Higgledy piggledy among a few other life-enhancing objects—my possessions recently completed a circuit by sea from Europe to North America via the Panama Canal. I add quickly, I did not. I came the other way. And while I am still ‘camping out’, I’m gradually able to open a few boxes, and thought the readers/hoarders/collectors among us IWSGers might enjoy what came out of the first couple of cartons. I swear I didn’t pack them—this was movers’ choice. Isn’t it interesting to see one’s life flash before one’s eyes?

There follows a sample of my lifetime reading—as they emerged from the box. In the opinion of some, a ‘wasted youth'; but IMHO, Goodreads, eat your heart out.

Robert Heinlein's seminal work: Stranger in a Strange Land; moved a generation

Robert Heinlein’s seminal work: Stranger in a Strange Land; moved a generation

Joseph Conrad: Outcast of the Islands, Limited Ed. Avon, CN 1979
Frank Herbert: God Emperor of Dune, Berkley Books [Putnam’s], 1981
Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End, Penguin, 1963
Arthur C. Clarke: 2010 Odyssey Two, Penguin, 1986
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary—on historical principles—Vol. II N-Z, Clarendon Oxford, 1965 (‘shorter’ edition requires only mild magnifying glass)
William Golding: Lord of the Flies, Capricorn [Putnam’s] New York 1959
Fred Hoyle: Astronomy, MacDonald, London, 1962
Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land, Berkley, 1975
Jeffrey Archer: As the Crow Flies, Coronet, Hodder & Stoughton 1991 [no apology]
Shirley MacLaine: Dancing in the Light, Bantam New York, 1987
[in my suitcase as current reading are:
Shirley MacLaine: Going Within,
Ken Carey: Return of the Bird Tribes so I guess my reading habits alter little!]
Victor Hugo: Notre Dame of Paris, Vols I, II & IV[??] Dent London, 1899
Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Ox,U.P. 1979
Mrs Gaskell: Cranford, Nelson, London 1945
Illustration from Reign of King Herla in Fairyland

Illustration from Reign of King Herla in Fairyland

True Annals of Fairyland in the Reign of King Herla, Dent London Dutton NY, prob. 1940s
Wallis Budge, E.A., Egyptian Book of the Dead—Papyrus of Ani, Dover NY, 1967
Evans-Wentz, W.Y. Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries Oxford Univ. Press, 1911
Concise Oxford Dictionary [don’t ask; handier single volume] Oxford Univ. Press, 1976
Aldous Huxley: Point Counterpoint, Chatto & Windus, London 1938
Thornton Wilder: The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Penguin (2 copies?), 1966, 1971
Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon: Scots Heraldry, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1945
Lyall Watson: Heaven’s Breath, A Natural History of the Wind, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1984
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Sunday School Union, Ludgate Hill, London 1896
G.Brook-Shepherd: The Last Habsburg, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1968
L & J Laing: Picts and Scots, Sutton, Stroud, 1996
Marion Campbell: The Dark Twin, Colonsay, Argyll, 1973
E.B. Lytton: Last Days of Pompeii, King, London 1832
Bros. Grimm: Household Tales, Dover, London 1963
P.D. James: A Taste for Death, Faber London, 1986
Lyall Watson: Lifetide—Biology of the Unconscious, Coronet 1980
J.V.Luce The End of Atlantis, Paladin [Thames-Hudson], 1973
J.C.Lilly: Centre of the Cyclone, an autobiography of Inner Space Paladin [Thames-Hudson], 1974
J.C.Lilly: The Human Computer; Abacus, 1968
David Austin's Mary Rose old English shrub rose

David Austin’s Mary Rose old English shrub rose

New Oxford Book of English Verse, OUP, 1972
S.Rushdie: The Satanic Verses, Viking, London, 1988
Taylor Caldwell: Dear and Glorious Physician, Fontana/Collins, 1959
Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth, V. Gollancz, London, 1985
Rbt. Burns: Poetic Works, Kilmarnock edition, Scot.Daily Express, Glasgow. 1938.
E.A. Poe: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Bracken, London, 1987
Salley H.E. & Greer, H.E.: Rhododendron Hybrids, Batsford London, 1986
David Austin: English Roses, RHS, Kew London, 1997
Reader’s Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary, Vol. II L-Z, 1984

One bonus to having even a single volume of the last item: it comes in handy when the wireless goes … I won’t mention it again… but round here, the internet service isn’t called Suddenlink for no reason…
I suspect you’re getting a little insight into my dilemma.
Onward and upward.

Once again, my thanks to Alex and his team of stalwart IWSGers. And a teeny weeny apology for not getting to press under the midnite deadline, EST. Raps own knuckles. Will try better next time.

And, BTW, oh so HAPPY MAY!
©2013 Marian Youngblood

May 2, 2013 Posted by | authors, culture, fiction, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Weathering the Digital Storm: e-book, Durabook or Leatherbound?

Monthly IWSG Corner: or
Are [Insecure] Writers better at weathering stormy times than other people? :)

There is no doubt that—if one watches the news at all—we are all heading for hell in a handbasket, according to media-directed focus on the negative aspects of our economy, environment, life-expectancy and statistics on survival. But, quietly, behind the scenes other aspects of our lives are changing for the good… if we but extract ostrich-like heads from sand and look around to see what we may have achieved.

Some years ago, the book publishing industry used toxic solvents, bleach compounds, felled a lot of non-regenerating trees and had no interest in recycling materials or finding alternatives to the [sometimes candy-coated] printed page. In fact, if we are honest, since the days of the Gutenberg press, we (writers) as a race, have probably been addicted to the sensation/smell of a good book in our hands.

Cradle-to-Cradle (2000) by McDonough & Baumgart revolutionized recyclable printing

Cradle-to-Cradle (2000) by McDonough & Braungart revolutionized recyclable printing

“Achieving the great economic transition to more equitable, ecologically sustainable societies requires nothing less than a design revolution beyond today’s fossilized industrialism. This enlightened and enlightening book—Cradle to Cradle—shows us how and indeed, that ‘God is in the details.'”
Hazel Henderson, author of Building a Win-Win World and Beyond Globalization: Shaping a Sustainable Global Economy

Cradle to Cradle

Then, in 2002, along came William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s seminal edition of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things, manufactured from ‘upcyclable’ material. The ‘Durabook’ feels substantial, pages wipe clean and at the time (before the great upswing to e-books), it was the darling of all ‘progressive’ universities. It looked so good on the second-hand book shelf!

With the advent of the e-book, electronic art, IT-in-all-schools, mass web access, we writers may have been guilty of continuing to keep our heads buried in the sand: not wanting to see what was happening: while the industry was changing—writers and indy publishers taking the business under their own wing; writers providing platforms, support systems for fellow-writers—we may even have rebelled internally, determined not to lose that most elusive of pleasures (to an author), the sensation of holding a ‘good book’ in one’s hands.

Durabook from Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart launches April 16th

Durabook from Bill McDonough & Michael Braungart launch April 16

Now, eleven years after their first Durabook (a synthetic made from recycled plastic resins and inorganic fillers), McDonough and Braungart launch their ‘sequel’ from Northpoint Press, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance, on April 16th. The foreword is by former president William T. Clinton. Northpoint is a subsidiary arm of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

In the early 1990s, then President Bill Clinton asked Bill McDonough to help with the White House ‘Greening’ program, to make drastic reductions in presidential fuel bills. The former president enthusiastically contributes to the new ‘durabook’ with a foreword clearly showing his support for the architect-chemist team’s solution to the world’s ills:

“Bill and Michael proposed that a better-designed world would be good for business, good for people’s health and good for the environment. Their first book introduced these ideas to the broader public and gave momentum to the sustainability movement, urging us to eliminate waste and consider no resource dispensable… essence of Bill and Michael’s work is the genuine desire to help others, coupled with intellectual curiosity and a deep commitment to transform ‘good enough’ into the very best. They focus on making the right things the right way.” President William T. Clinton

While the publishing industry may be slow (almost as leviathan as the banking industry, if we are being honest), there is certainly a sense of camaraderie developing among fellow writers-bloggers-authors by the fresh breeze blown in by indy publishers and independent e-book self-publishers in the last decade.

“We do not want sustainability, because that is not enough. We want real quality”
Michael Braungart

Judging by the press releases, the sequel to Cradle-to-Cradle may be even more inspiring than the original. Eleven years worth the wait? I am not totally confident that we insecure writers—led always to our fearless Alex J Cavanaugh, will succeed in plunging—all at once—into the new world of Durabooks or plastic substitutes, because of … our insecurities, you know: our favorite ‘feel-good’ and ‘smell-good’ sensations are indulged in when we curl up with our… well …you-know-what …

… Or do our insecurities insist that a good book isn’t the same if it doesn’t come from a tree? We shall have to wait and see. Thanks for listening, IWSGers and Alex. And great achievement, Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

April 3, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, environment, fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wrapping Troubles in Fog-Ocean Dreams

POWER OF A Piscean Stellium
Monthly IWSG Corner
Many times during a new transition, a house move, rearrangement of one’s life, writing has to go on the back burner. Much though we would like to keep up the pace, our stamina—our ability to get through it—flags and we feel the need to let it all go.

Ocean pulls in her skirts gracefully

Ocean pulls in her skirts gracefully; see poem below

So it seems poignant and synchronous that some of us IWSGers over the last month have felt ourselves swayed, influenced—in our writing flow and in other ways—by a huge swelling wave, a virtual convocation of planets and heavenly bodies in the astrological sign of Pisces, the Fish. It is the ultimate watery sign of duality, emotional excess, unbridled boundlessness—some say chaos. A return to our primeval form.

Stellium in Pisces
With the present swing in public fancy to the ‘Astroview’, it will astonish nobody to learn that we are currently midway through a major stellium in Pisces. For the uninitiated, this is astrospeak for turmoil of the heart/emotional mayhem throughout the run-up to the new moon [in Pisces] March 10-11th, 2013.
On those nights, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Chiron, Venus, Mars, Neptune are held in a crucible within the bosom of Pisces—the most emotional, watery, spiritual sign of the zodiac. These bodies already stand in close conjunction, waiting for the Moon.

Following in the wake of the recurring potent three-year-long stress of a Grand Cross, it isn’t surprising that we now feel like a wet dish rag.

March 2013: bowl astro-chart: Piscean emotion holds 7 planets suspended in a 'stellium', as Jupiter & Saturn maintain balance

March 2013: crucible astro-chart: Piscean emotion holds seven planets suspended in a ‘stellium’, while Jupiter & Saturn maintain balance on either side

Psychic Piscean ‘Go with the Flow’
Life-affirming Piscean tendencies include:
Compassion, forgiveness and healing without sacrificing your self-esteem
Using the energy of the dream/fantasy to create something that touches people
Faith in what’s healthy for you
Letting go of what drags you down
Seeing what lies beyond the mundane world
Allowing things to happen

Less-than constructive qualities include:
Compassion, forgiveness and healing that drains you
Using the energy of the dream/fantasy to become addicted to someone
Faith in anything/everything, whether it’s healthy or not
Letting go of all boundaries
Denying the mundane world
Passively waiting for things to happen

For those who like specifics,
Neptune entered its watery home sign two years ago and will remain in Pisces through 2024;
Mars moved into Pisces: February 1st
Mercury into Pisces: February 5th
Sun into Pisces: February 18th
Venus into Pisces: February 25th
Moon stood in Virgo (full) on February 28th and
will move (new moon) into Pisces March 11th.

The immediate window extends through March 21st, equinox. So, brace yourself!

Being guided by one’s heart and following one’s intuition seems the only way. Or, to translate that in psychiatric concepts: allowing the left hemisphere to dominate—right handedness—will only lead to grief. By allowing our right hemisphere to guide us—left handed creativity—we may pull through this massive—planet-wide—emotional storm.

Sometimes, during Insecure Writers’ Support Week, we get to throw out a little nugget of a favorite subject—astro being one of mine—and our tolerant Ninja Cap’n Alex allows us the liberty of rabbiting on about matters unrelated to the honored art of writing. Such is this post; but since it DOES have a ‘space’ theme, and gives us a little insight into what we’re currently experiencing, never before having been exposed to such a degree of cosmic force, may I wish us all Godspeed and stamina to sail these choppy waters in uncertain times.

Cassini's fragile image of Venus cradled in Saturn's G-ring

Cassini’s fragile Venus cradled in Saturn’s G-ring

To end on a (positive) romantic note, when in trouble, dream…
… and a poem-let of inspiration by my nine-year old muse, inspired by [Neptune and] her ocean vista, top.

The Ocean by Oriah
The Ocean’s waves gracefully in the sunset
Where the seagulls fly
Pink clouds gently float away while the Moon rises
Then the Ocean comes back

No doubt our SpaceCaptain feels mucho at home in the rarified reaches of planetary atmospheres—Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all familiar territory; so maybe wishing ourselves well through this emotional roller-coaster is the best support we can give each other. May all our blogs be guided by superlative cosmic forces… sounds like a phrase from his forthcoming CassaStorm.
Thanks again for being there, fellow IWSGers and Alex.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

March 6, 2013 Posted by | astrology, authors, blogging, poetry, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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