Playing with Fire (blog)

Thoughts about fire, writing, and life

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Fiery Emblems of an Alchemist
Books about alchemy from the late Renaissance sometimes include extraordinary images featuring fire. Though I plan to include a couple of these in my cultural history of fire, others wander too deeply into arcane philosophical backwaters to float in my main stream. Here are some delightfully strange images from Atalanta fugiens (The Flying Atalanta, or, Philosophical Emblems of the Secrets …
Playing with fire
I’ve decided to rename this occasional writing vehicle (blog? newsletter? both?) Playing with Fire—Thoughts about fire, writing, and life. The idea came out of a recent brainstorming session exploring possible titles for my book, in which the suggestion came up of renaming it “Playing with Fire.” I thought: “I bet that’s been used before.” Has it ever! Titles …
Adventures in the public domain
 An unexpected detour on the way to getting my book ready for publication took me deep into the fascinating, fun, but time-consuming world of image research. The draft book proposal completed months ago promised that I would supply a list of possible illustrations on request, drawn from our rich heritage of beautiful, amusing, and intriguing depictions of fire. My book …
Fumigating miasmas and burning love letters
While researching illustrations for 𝘍𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 Imagination, I came across striking images that don’t suit the book but deserve attention somewhere. I’ll post some of them here. Solomon Eagle, or Eccles, was a composer of note until he became a Quaker, decided church music was sinful, and burned all his compositions. Mentioned in Daniel Defoe’s 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘶𝘦
Killing monstrous darlings
I have been relentlessly combing through the draft of Fire in the Mind, trimming it down by over 3000 words in recent weeks. In the process I have had to “kill my darlings,” as the saying goes. Perhaps they will still be of interest presented piecemeal here. Several beta readers thought I was overly fond of fiery yokai in Japanese …
San Francisco Writers Conference
I spent a productive few days at the San Francisco Writers Conference, attending for free after winning the Grand Prize in their 2022 writing contest. Highlights were the many informative “breakout sessions” with agents, acquiring editors, independent editors, writing coaches, and book publicists. Aside from a few useful contacts, the conference gave me good ideas for honing my book proposal, …
Fire in the Mind wins SFWC Grand Prize
Fire in the Mind won the Grand Prize in the 2022 San Francisco Writers Conference Writing Contest. For this annual contest, literary agent judges read excerpts from unpublished manuscripts and choose First Prize Winners in four categories. The Grand Prize Winner is then selected from among the four winners. Fire in the Mind took top honors in Adult Non-Fiction. The …
IHS Presentation on Eternal Flames
On October 16, 2022 Jim gave a presentation on Eternal Flames via Zoom, sponsored by the Institute for Historical Study. View video recording here: …
On procrastination
In starting this blog, I might also congratulate myself (he said with a sigh) for launching what may well prove to be the most alluring method of procrastination yet. Though I constantly tell myself that the book is my first priority, I just as constantly find “little things that need doing so why don’t I get them out of the …
Origins of my book about fire
So now I have decided to write a blog about the process of writing my book about fire, and here is the first entry. I hope it will be a useful exercise to step back and scrutinize my process at some level of abstraction, and even result in something of interest to anyone who stumbles across these musings. This project …

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10 thoughts on “Playing with Fire (blog)”

  1. sygyt, how sad I was to miss your gathering. I’m also a septagarian? born in 52!
    I’m so lame, does this sign me up on your blog?

    1. Took me a sec to find it, but if you see “keep in touch” on the right side of the page, click there and it will give you a little window in which to enter your email address. Yay Jim!

  2. Hey Dancin’
    Thanks for visiting here. Actually, to sign up for the blog look for a sidebar on the right side of the screen with a picture of a candle and the label “Let’s Keep In Touch.” Or if you’re on a phone, scroll down past recent blog entries to find the same thing.

  3. John Gasperini

    Hey Jim!
    Congratulations on reaching this milestone on your way to getting your fire book published along with already having received awards before it’s even published! I look forward to reading some chapters soon. Happy New Year to you! Cheers.
    Love, Brother John

  4. Congratulations Jim! This is a big milestone. Congrats on your award too! Very impressive.

  5. David Currie

    Happy New Year! May the publisher of your dreams emerge at precisely the right moment! Congratulations on the awards and recognition. And, may your healing proceed apace! Much love from your old (but younger than you by a few months) friend!

  6. Dorothy Herzberg

    Congratulations!! What an accomplishment! And congratulations on coming through it all!! You are a champion!!

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