F for Feeniks

My 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge revisits my best posts from the 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

F for Feeniks (2014)

My fascination with The Firebird and The Phoenix goes back decades, well before Feeniks the bird character and this post emerged. I must have a penchant for avian ‘totems/spirit guides’ since there are at least two more in other writings.

As I write this intro, I’m listening to the 1910 version of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird suite, which I first encountered in its ballet form during my teens.

You can listen to the same powerful music too:

All the research nuggets unearthed while I was creating the game-world for my novel ‘Wyrm Bait’, evolved into my post-apocalyptic saga Gossamer Flames. And the research is ongoing.

Especially doing research into the Slavic Folklore surrounding the Firebird for my short ‘Feathered Fire’. My story appears in the IWSG anthology Voyagers: The Third Ghost. which is released on May 5th 2020. Read more about Zharptica here: https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/02/in-spotlight-roland-clarke-author-of.html

Links to my other A to Z posts can be found here: https://rolandclarke.com/blogging-from-a-to-z/blogging-from-a-to-z-challenge-2020/

To visit other participants see The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/

#IWSG – In The Beginning

The countdown has begun for the new IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost, coming May 5, 2020. I can’t wait to see what other contributors have penned. Whether my story works with the readers remains to be seen; selection was the first hurdle.

Review copies have been ordered, and the eBooks uploaded. These are the purchase links:

Amazon – Print https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/ Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Third-Ghost-Yvonne-Ventresca-ebook/dp/B083C4WPR5/

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857

ITunes – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost

I will be posting more in forthcomings weeks and months—with links to other contributors’ blog posts as well.

UPDATE…STOP PRESS…NEWSFLASH: For the latest anthology news, visit the IWSG Anthologies blog at https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/

I’m grateful the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh created the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as they do such amazing things for writers, from the annual Anthology to the IWSG monthly blog post. Many thanks, Captain Alex.

And that IWSG day is here again – and so am I, less insecure after jumping that first Anthology hurdle.

Anyway, on to the monthly question which creates so many fascinating posts – apologies in advance for the slow visits on my part.

January 8 question – What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

Do childish scribblings count? School projects? Storytelling with toys?

There were early cases, but my memory is foggy. There was a scribbled tale about a fox – stolen from an old book my father owned as a child.

Westland WS-61 Sea King HAR3 – Photographer: Anthony Noble. GNU Free Documentation License

However, I have a letter dated 6 August 1965 – when I was eleven – confirming I won a first prize in the Frog Navy Competition, which offered three days with the Royal Navy. To win, I wrote an essay on ‘A Day in the Life of a Helicopter Pilot’. That sounds factual, but with no family knowledge, it must have been a tad fictional. I believe my imagined pilot flew a rescue chopper.

Did I explore RN/RAF rabbit holes? Probably. But, like many boys of my age, I was fascinated by war stories so read about them in comics and books. I watched some old B&W films at school. I made model planes and boats. The latter included models from Airfix, and that was how I learnt about the competition.

My reading went beyond war, fortunately. History was not just fighting. Fantasy played a major role in the choice of books – and in what I wrote. My first draft novel – a lost manuscript – was fantasy. But it was my first proper job, as a sub-editor on The Field magazine, which triggered my debut equestrian mystery – even if it didn’t emerge until I retired four decades later.

Strange, it’s taken me 55 years to win again, and the latest story merges history and fantasy.


The awesome co-hosts for the awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

(You must agree these guys all have commitments too – but they volunteer. These are the best. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too.)

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

F is for Feeniks


F is for Feeniks: Feeniks is the Finnish for the constellation Phoenix, and the name given to a falcon companion of a key shaman character in the world of Gossamer Steel. The phoenix is a potent mythological figure and symbol of rebirth or renewal so central to the Renascence of the earth. One of its equivalents, the Hindu Garuda, plays a crucial role in the cyber-mystery ‘Wyrm Bait’, appearing in the ‘Gossamer Steel’ MMORPG.

"Phoenix In Fire" by fotographic1980

“Phoenix In Fire” by fotographic1980

Another equivalent, the Firebird appears in many Slavic folk tales, and can symbolize many things. Some legends portray the Firebird as a creature of blessing, while in other tales characters believe that it will bring doom to anyone who captures it. In some stories the Firebird is a symbol of wealth and of power, and in others a prize to be captured, such as that of Prince Ivan. Many artists have been inspired by the legends. Most notably Igor Stravinsky, who on June 25th 1910 immortalized the legend in his ballet score for choreographer, Serge Diaghilev.

F is also for Food – from cloudberries to dosas – and for Fashion – from embroidered Sami gákti to Indian shalwar kameez. Both are key in any world building but an essential part of my two enclaves, The Country and Bhārata, at times being intrinsic to a particular character.

The musical group Duolva Duottar in traditional Sami dress. The man on the left, Ole Mahtte Gaup, is wearing a luhkka. The woman and the other two men are wearing gákti ~ Photo by Petr Brož



A is for Array

B is for the Blood-Marked

C is for Corylus Avellana

D is for Duskweald

E is for Energy

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)


The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel’, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.