Between scientists and conspiracy theorists I’m not sure which give scribblers more crazy wonderful character ideas. Although— I challenge any author of science-fiction, who is also diligent in their research of real-life science and theoretical physics, to swear that they have never ever had a tinfoil hat moment. Such as when Google starts popping up conspiracy theories after you innocently ask it something quantum. My television is connected via my internet provider through a little box thing that they supply, which puts me in the very happy situation of being able to watch Youtube videos on my TV from the comfort of my couch with a nice glass of vino. Probably not ideal for a writer of things, vino notwithstanding. Youtube, being just like its daddy Google, will then recommend similar things to your recent views and send you spinning down rabbit holes all over the place, while holding tightly on to your tinfoil protection against the deadly rays being directed at all times, by dark forces, at your noggin.
Sometimes I wonder though. What I’m currently wondering is whether NASA and Co get some sort of thrill out of deliberately taunting innocent conspiracy theorists. Several ancient legends tell of a rogue planet—either a single planet or a system of small planets circling a brown dwarf star—depending on the legend. It has been called all sorts of things—Niburu, Nemesis, Wormwood, the Destroyer, and so on. Nothing about its apparent destined arrival is in any way fabulous. Some have it appearing in the sky with gassy wings. Mostly they say that it is going to do some damage to our world, if not destroy it completely. All agree on its redness though. Modern doomsday planet experts predict pretty much every year that it is sure to appear imminently and either squish us all like bugs or send us into some kind of ice age shortly on the heels of planetwide floods, earthquakes, and other horrible stuff in general.
So when Planet 9 was actually discovered a few years ago there was a whole lot of conspiracy theorist “I Told You So-ing!” Much orbit plotting happened and soon our beloved conspiracy theorists shared their plottings to show a huge elliptical orbit taking thousands of years as Number 9 zoomed way out to the Kuiper Belt before zooming right back to an alarmingly close proximity to Earth. Time frames coincided nicely with everything from Noah’s flood to the destruction of Göbekli Tepe and other strangely amazing constructions of humans in the distant past that we cannot at all reproduce today with all of our cleverness. Explanations were offered of our similarity to Hugh Howey’s characters as post apocalyptic “rememberers”. Apparently this thing zooms by every so often thousand years and sends us down the snake to the bottom of the ladder. While good stuff for science-fiction—Planet 9 is a fabulous part of one of the books in my own series—I gave the idea of being squished no more thought after reading about it a couple of years ago. Then, in the past few days, up popped planet (225088) 2007 (OR) 10, which was found, with its own little moon, beyond Neptune in 2007. I assume that Planet 9 and 2007 (OR) 10 are one and the same potential death star. At least I hope so. Two Destroyers would be a bit much on the universal humour scale.
This planet has remained monikerless until now while its discoverers apparently needed to “research” it a little more. It was originally dubbed Snow White as it glowed white and was assumed to be small, and only something rather large would reflect white from that distance if it was a dark colour. As things turned out it was not small and white after all—it was large, and RED, and in possession of its very own methane. “Checks tinfoil hat” The scientists who discovered it are asking the public to help by choosing one of three available names for the not so newly discovered planet. ONLY these three names are available to choose from. They, and their meanings are:
Gonggong. Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.
What’s that you say?!!!
Holle. Holle is a European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth and women.
Vili. Vili is a Nordic deity who defeated frost giant Ymir and used the body to create the universe.
As for Gonggong—all I can say is please let’s not pick that one. The other two, while seemingly rather boring and innocuous, have too much to do with winter and frost (read ICE AGE after SQUISHING) for my tin hat liking—not to mention the rebirth bit–which would only be needed after a good squishing after all, so I would like to suggest a slightly sweeter name for that poor innocent planet. Seriously scientist people, couldn’t you just have gone with Rose Red seeing as Snow White turned out to not be white? Luckily Amazon is already aware of the danger and writers have a whole lot more to make real.
International Childrens Book Day
Today is International Children’s Book Day. It is also Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday. The annual event is sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People and has been celebrated since 1967. Each year a different national section gets to be the international sponsor of the day. An author from that country writes a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator designs a poster for that year. The 2019 sponsor is Lithuania, and both the message and this year’s poster are by author illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius, with the theme for the year being “Books Help Us Slow Down”.
The objective of the day is to share great children’s books, so of course, who but the fabulous Myrtle the Purple Turtle could I share on such a day?
Written by Cynthia Reyes for her daughter Lauren, the first Myrtle book shares the lesson that while people might sometimes appear to be different superficially, we are all just the same. It shares messages of love and friendship and never judging before knowing all you need to know. Illustrating book one was wonderful and terrifying in equal measures for me. I did not want to get it wrong. I am sure I did get quite a lot wrong, but Cynthia and her family were all involved in the birthing of the visual Myrtle into the world, and they were kind and patient as the little purple turtle came to life.
Myrtle is a lovely Turtle. Not an ordinary Turtle. She is Purple and different from other turtles. After being bullied by another turtle, Myrtle tries to become someone else. In the end, Myrtle and her friends help children learn to not be afraid of being different. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a thoroughly engaging story that stresses the importance of self-acceptance and friendship.
Myrtle’s second adventure was much easier, illustration-wise, but I was plagued with life dramas that just kept coming, so it took a lot longer to become reality than it should have done. Once again, the Reyes and Reyes-Grange family astounded me with their patience and care, and Myrtle did indeed get to show a whole bunch of animals that just because you’re a little slow, that does not mean that you can’t succeed at anything that you set your mind to.
Myrtle the Purple Turtle returns with another great adventure! Myrtle and her friends are turned away when they try to join in a game with others. The friends walk away, feeling hurt, but that’s just the start of the story. Find out how Myrtle, Gertie, Hurtle and Snapper solve the problem, in this second picture book about Myrtle the Purple Turtle. A perfect book for children ages 3 to 8 (and adults who like turtles), it follows Myrtle the Purple Turtle — a bestseller, praised by thousands of children and adults, teachers and librarians around the world.
Now Myrtle has begun her third adventure. There are new creatures around The Big Pond to meet, and a new obstacle to be overcome in this sweet little purple girl’s own inimitable way. This journey will be much quicker to publication than the previous two, so watch this space for more of Myrtle.
An Honest House
A truly inspirational read indeed!
Thank You and a Few Freebies
A massive thank you to all who shared my cover reveal post for The Secret Life of People and the request for answers to questions. There has been a HUGE email response and I am very busily answering everyone as well as requesting interviews for future posts with some truly amazing people – and catching up on comments and posts too. If I haven’t answered you yet I promise that it will be by no later than tomorrow. Thank you very much to all of you!
At the same time I am rearranging the layout of the book and adding the results from all of your answers to the questions. I do think that I should have added another question to “Do you believe in life after death?” in the form of “What do you believe happens after death?”, so if anyone feels up to answering that one in the comments or privately it would make me a very happy bunny indeed.
In the few weeks leading to the launch of The Secret Life of People I’m going to be dusting off some of my older books and shorts and putting them on either free promotion or Kindle Countdown deals for anyone who hasn’t read them yet. Currently Echoes of Narcissus and Nkoninkoni are free and African Me & Satellite TV will start its 99 cents Countdown Deal sometime tomorrow if anyone fancies a read. In case you think that Nkoninkoni is some kind of foreign, an especially huge thank you to the very popular author Kevin Cooper for his review of it, which can be found here. While you are there I thoroughly recommend that you start on his own list with a download of Miedo – absolutely brilliant!
What is the Most Horrible Illustrated Book Ever Written
Any writer who doesn’t collect books is lacking in the tools of their trade in my opinion. No matter how many degrees you have, or how many times you can insert the words thus and henceforth into your manuscript, if you don’t read a whole lot you are missing in your writerly education. Seeing the words thus and henceforth would stop me reading anything by the way, but that could just be a personal weird quirk I suppose. Chuck Wendig thinks that reading The Lord of the Rings is tantamount to the worst kind of abuse with all the oldy worldy stuff, so I’m not in bad company. Loved the movies. Chuck is fabulous in general and in his honest originality – poop bits notwithstanding. I tend to avoid people who use words like that. Go away users of the word thus! I have a huge collection of books. More than 3000 in my Amazon Cloud alone. The paperbacks that I have are all special though, given that space no longer allows for the piles I had previously accumulated.
I will beat old ladies with sticks at boot sales to lay my hands on a first edition of any sort of recipe book or children’s illustrated book. Among other ancient collections of receipts, as recipes used to be called, I have a first edition Mrs Beeton which is much loved. Apart from the dead parrot recipes and lark’s tongue bits, I love it. Lark’s tongues on the menu – seriously? They are rare (the books – and the lark’s tongues I expect) but finding a really old children’s book in good condition is a much rarer find. Children tend to be a little rough with their books, so they don’t tend to survive as long as recipe books. Looking in general at the children’s books that are most sought after online the other day – as you do, I opened a list of “the most horrible children’s books of all time” thinking that it might be good for a laugh. It was. Then I found lots of people listing The Giving Tree as the most horrible. I had to look.
I tried to read it with an open mind. Some people said that it was a lesson in selflessness. Others said that it had been banned in schools – or libraries – I forget – because it was sexist. I tried really hard to wear my “what we writers write is our business and if you don’t like it you can lump it hat” but I couldn’t keep it on. Adults can mostly see the truth for themselves, apart from those who still think that 50 Shades of Gray is still the best book ever – but children learn from books. In The Giving Tree, the tree loves the man so much that she is prepared to give him anything. He is not backward in coming forward with requests, and soon he has taken her apples, branches, and finally her whole trunk. The fact that the tree is a she and the human is a he might have some meaning, in which case, it is indeed sexist. Finally, the poor tree is left as a stump, and the final illustration in the book is of the man sitting on it.
The overall message I got from this book was that it is loving to be a doormat and take any abuse coming. It is loving to let someone take and take until there is nothing left of you, and then to finally disrespect that nothing by plonking his backside on it. On the other side of the issue, the lesson is – it is fine to take as much as you want from someone who loves you enough to be prepared to give it, no matter how big of a tool you are, and then – when they are all in – it is fine to sit on the bit of them that is left after your selfish depredations. A horrible book indeed.
A couple of years ago I wrote a children’s book (Winnow and Blooey) – even got around to illustrating a few pages – about a little boy who learns how to respect and care for his badly neglected budgie from a fabulous wild canary after getting lost in the woods, and accidentally shrunk when he got hungry enough to eat a wild mushroom. Yes – I know – magic mushrooms are probably not the best subject for kiddies. When I really got around to thinking about it, I was so terrified about leading young minds in dodgy directions that I trashed it right away. Now I am very happy to illustrate for children’s authors who know what they are doing, but not at all ready to take the chance myself. Whoever published The Giving Tree hopefully meant it for adults, although what the actual message was still eludes me. Also – children like picture books if they can lay their hands on them – no matter who they were intended for, so it is generally dangerous to leave lying around. It has 2659 five star reviews on Amazon – over ninety percent loving readers, but so far, it is the first book, ever, that I have considered giving one star. That seems too much to me so I am going to give it my newly minted MINUS TEN STAR PANTS award. Hopefully it will teach the people who read it that it is a book about how not to behave – both as the tree and the human.
Something to Think About – The R’s of Live – Survival in a Modern World – Rejection – A fact of Life by Sally Cronin
Wow! I’ve never thought about the concept of a mental or emotional immune system, but as Sally Cronin – who is an expert on health and wellness – says, it is something we all should work on.
A Couple of Questions and Cover Reveal
After a couple of very ‘educational” years, and a whole lot of stress every time I happened to think about my unfinished work, and also my as yet unpublished books lying around gathering dust, I’ve come out the other side quite happy that I did not in fact publish them when I wanted to. It would not have been fun, and publishing a book should always be fun. After a couple of health scares to the point where I assumed that I was on the verge of departing this mortal coil, and stressing over every little thing, I finally realized that not only have I no intention of expiring any time soon, living in fear of the future, the present, or the past, is absolutely useless to anyone. So I decided that as far as my health was concerned, I was going to go herbal, and as far as anything scary was concerned, I was going to go eyeball to eyeball with whatever came up and see who caved first. So far I feel great health-wise with the herbals, and my inner critic and her cohort, the craven one, have gone into hiding. Which is why I am particularly happy that I never got around to publishing my non-fiction book, The Secret Life of People, because I had yet to figure out the final chapter by living it. Now it is almost ready to make its debut and I am more excited about it than anything else I’ve ever written. There are a couple of things I’d like to get a few people’s beliefs on, so I’d be grateful for any answers to the questions below. If you don’t want to put your opinions in the comments I would really appreciate an email via the contact me button above.
Other news is that Cynthia Reyes and her daughter Lauren’s Myrtle the Purple Turtle has already begun her third adventure, and it is, of course, just as fabulous as that little turtle’s adventures always are. I’m getting caught up quicker than I thought possible and very happy that my online friends are still going strong, and also still talking to me after my long absence. Here goes with the questions.
1. Do you believe that you are living a fulfilled life?
2. Do you think that people have a purpose, and if so, do you know what yours is?
3. Are you satisfied with the way the world and your country is governed?
4. Do you think that civilised societies today are on the right track?
5. If you work, are you happy with your job?
6. If money was no object, what would you do with your days?
7. Do you believe in life after death or reincarnation?
8. Do you believe that there will be consequences for good or evil acts?
9. Do you or someone that you know have problems with anxiety or depression?
African Me & Satellite TV
Thank you for the wonderful review Kevin – also back to the bloggerverse and looking forward to fun chats again! ❤
Mira Prabhu – In Memoriam
A great loss to the world. Mira and I were good friends a while ago when I was active every day online. We read each other’s books and chatted on our blogs. Mira is the author of the fabulous book The Whip of the Wild Gods and others. She was a brilliant author who wove wisdom and life into fiction in ways that was not only inspired but hugely inspiring. I thought she was a bit of a genius when I read that book. She was hilarious too, and down to earth. I’ll never forget how hard I laughed when she told me about the time she learned that smiling at wild monkeys while eating anything was a bad idea when she ended up getting pounced on by one and losing her snack. Thank you for posting this wonderful memorial to her memory and may her journeys always be filled with love as she lights the way for others from where she is now. Rest in peace fabulous Mira Prabhu.
Mira Prabhu is now free from the torment of physical suffering caused by her cancer. Death claimed Mira at a young age when she was on the verge of becoming well known for her writings and spiritual novels. Mira left her body on January 6, 2019, in Chennai, India.
Mira was a beautiful soul with a kind heart and I felt her warmth and love that she naturally had for Bhagavan Ramana devotees. We used to post each other’s blog posts on our respective blog sites. Mira often shared my FB posts on her wall. She was always generous in her comments and very supportive as we were both Bhagavan Ramana devotees.
Mira was a prolific and gifted writer. She was also a yogini and mystic. She was a devotee of Bhagavan Ramana and also followed Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. Mira had been living close to the Holy Hill of Arunachala…
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Can Words Be Dangerous?
Writers all have their own quirks. They all have different ways of coping with stress or “writers block”. For me, writers block has never been a real thing in a way that I couldn’t write anything at all, but it has been a thing insofar as what I could write joyfully. I love writing non-fiction and I love research, but writing fiction has always been the thing that I do that makes me happier than doing anything else. Fiction writers hold the universe in their hands, and they can literally do anything with it. I think it comes with a responsibility though. Good fiction can change minds, and sometimes it can change lives.
I’ve always had a broad spectrum of genres that I enjoy to read in both fiction and non-fiction. History, good literary works, humour, and horror. In my teens there was a short sojourn into soppy romances but that didn’t last very long. Always at the top of my list have been science-fiction and fantasy. An early addiction to Stephen King and Dean Koontz however led to sleeping with the light on for a long time, and to this day I dip into horror sparingly. King’s books are amazingly cerebral when you consider his writing style. He gets psychopaths in ways that are fabulously terrifying to read. I’m really not at all into the new “let’s make friends with the devil” trend though.
The biggest problem that I have with trends like these (see also the It’s Sexy to Have Vampires Sucking on Your Neck – poor hungry guys) is because in the hands of really good writers, blood-sucking demons can start to look very cool, especially when they’re tall, have six-packs, have a good reason to be pitied, and possibly are a tiny bit sparkly. A great writer can make readers feel sorry for the devil himself, while really wanting to help him get over his traumatic childhood. When a book like that becomes a bestseller it becomes a bit of our social history. Just like Shades of Grey set off a generation of people thinking that it is quite acceptable for young girls to be treated like rubbish, as long as it made for good jollies all around in the end. That particular book has to go down in history as one of the most badly written—ever—but it is still loved and defended by a whole lot of people.
Fairy tales seem to last forever, and there are still people today who believe that fairies actually exist. Maybe they do. Maybe the act of writing about them makes them pop into existence somewhere. I do like to think that the creatures that come alive in my mind when I write them exist somewhere now in our vast universe. If you believe in the law of attraction, you create in your life what you focus on. This has been proved right a lot more than not, so it makes me wonder, what happens when we concentrate on evil things, in whatever form, shiny and good-looking or gnarly with big claws and teeth? I’m not innocent in this respect because of the seriously gnarly and evil Nefandus in one of my own books—those guys scared me when I wrote them—still do as I write more of them.
The thing is, it is clear that they are the bad guys. They don’t have groupies Googling “how can I summon a Nefandus that has a lot of muscly bits?” That is not as funny as it sounds because there are actual Google searches of people trying to find out how to either become a vampire or locate one. It just seems wrong to me to put books out there where the devil is the one who has been wronged, and to glorify powers that have historically been seen as demonic. Banshees are no longer feared—rather their “powers” are considered enviable. Aliens are eminently bonkable, their being related to fish notwithstanding apparently. Demons are great as long as they look good and had an unhappy childhood. Vampires—well—
I remember when the Interview with a Vampire books and movies came out. I remember feeling a lot of pity for those poor things—and admiration for their gorgeousness. Almost every teenage girl in the eighties had a crush on Tom Cruise—back before we found out that he had to stand on boxes to look smoulderingly down on his leading ladies. And the whole couch bouncing thing of course—
That’s just the opinion of this particular scribbler though. Reading is all about escapism after all, and we should be able to differentiate between what could be possible and what is just too way out there. Still—you never know—while I like to think of friendly cartoon Pegasus and dragon having marshmallow parties with their buddies somewhere out there, I would not be so happy with some of my other “creations” zooming around anywhere at all.
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