Reflections on Writing and The Past Year

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* Note: Slightly Rambling Blog Post *

Hello Readers,

I’ve not written a personal blog post in quite some time, but thought I’d write one to share some thoughts I’ve had with writing/publishing/blogging and my other interests.

2014 was the first year I spent more time reading and writing non-fiction. This happened as I continued noticing a gradual (and sometimes, not-so-gradual) decline in eBook sales.

My heart has never been in commercial fiction, and it probably never will be. For that reason, I am unlikely to continue eBooks publishing as a business (because as a business, it’s commercial forces one has to consistently observe and adapt to). I have some other personal reasons for no longer having the drive for writing fiction as I used to several years ago when I first ventured into digital publishing.

Towards the end of last year, I had a very strong need to switch directions entirely in terms of profession. I’ve listed some of the things I’ve been / am involved with on my about.me page. It’s a refreshing change and I’m grateful for the new work experiences. I like doing things that have some level of originality/innovation/analysis, and I felt indie publishing was not the right place for me anymore.

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‘Reflection’ photo by Arthur Davison, used under a CC License.

I should add that I almost gave up my interest in socio-political blogging for the sake of a close friendship/relationship (let’s just say that my views were “very divergent” from the other person’s). Regardless of the topic, my personal belief is that people who respect each other would be able to sort out their differences. At the end of the day, I concur with activist Brooke Axtell, who said during the 2015 Grammys:

“Authentic love does not devalue another human being.”
(– activist Brooke Axtell)

To me, a friendship/relationship isn’t worth it if either person feels no guilt/shame/remorse in belittling or disparaging the other person, because they disagree with the other’s views and sentiments. (Perhaps this is partly due to the “Venus Scorpio” in me that highly values self-respect and mutual respect.)

I guess quitting self-publishing (or “turning my professional attention elsewhere” for the time-being) gave me an additional sense of closure to that whole chapter in my life. It just felt like everything had reached a dead-end and that it was time for me to try something new, on both the personal and professional level.

That being said, I’ll always like writing, so you’ll see some of my copyediting material online this year along with socio-political blogging book reviews when I can get down to it (once my current schedule has settled in a little bit more). Writing socio-political blog posts helped me access an “analytical” side of my mind I hadn’t really accessed before, which is why I’m keen to continue those independent/unsponsored blog posts.

I’m thankful for the readers/customers I’ve had and heard from over the years, particularly the readers of my earlier erotic material. I guess that’s a part of my life I’m leaving behind too, in a way (since my early erotic fiction was largely due to my own sexual neuroses!).

I appreciate others’ appreciation of my writing — somehow it feels like that will be something which will inspire me with future projects I get up to. It gives me a sense of comfort/satisfaction to know that my efforts were not completely wasted on meaningless things, since I like to focus on one thing at a time and give my all to it if I’m passionate about something.

I guess my main website (jessINK) may “morph” over the next few years, to reflect my personal interests and projects I’m involved with along the way. I initially branded myself as an “author/artist/non-conformist,” a label I’ve since updated to “writer/blogger/analyst” (the practical Virgo in me loves anything of an “analytical” nature…).

Side Note: It is also this practical Virgo in me that keeps me from enjoying the label/lifestyle of “starving artist” (a label my artistic Pisces moon doesn’t quite mind)…I guess I have a rough idea re: career path (I do best with something that combines creative and analytical skills).

Have you had a similar experience where you just felt you needed to drop (almost) everything and try/do something new? Send me a note via email! (I’m keeping the comments ‘off’ on this post in the spirit of intimacy/privacy.)

Stay happy and healthy in the meantime.

— Jess.

Interview, Marina E Partridge

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* Interview #79, with Darkstar astrologer Marina E Partridge!

* Note from Jess: Marina is the fabulous UK astrologer at Darkstar Astrology. I am a big fan of her website, readings and blog posts — so I decided to send her a quick Q&A on career and life vision!

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Hi Marina! Describe yourself in 5 words:

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Hermit, Studious, Outside-the-box, Fascinated, Paradoxical.

How did you get into studying astrology?

I have been fascinated by astrology all my life but only became a full time Astrologer in 2009. Before that I was an illustrator. I loved surrealism and reading symbols and always had a set of tarot cards on my kitchen table. In 2009 the triple conduction of Jupiter, Neptune & Chiron (The astrologer) on my natal Mars/Lilith conjunction turned me into an Astrologer full time. My approach is very eclectic, just like the Illustration I used to do, which was digital collage. I found astrology was a way of blending of the old and the new.

I am a huge fan of your very unique (and precise) Dark Moon Reading—I can only imagine the research involved for your future book on the Lilith archetype and Eris! Was there something about the asteroids that you were initially drawn towards?

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“Black Moon Lilith” | Darkstar

That they show us how we are part of such great cycles. Our souls are infinite. Just when you think there is a limit, it is broken and we are into another dimension. The discovery of Eris has allowed archetypes that are relevant to our modern life to be added to the pantheon of gods. The TNO’s are a symptom of our expanding consciousness. The exiled, divine female has been yearned for, for such a long time. Eris is the missing archetype Persephone. In our charts we had no female outer planet until 2005. Transpersonal energy is enlightening and alchemic. The fact that the transpersonal has been in the hands of the male Gods until now is simply a reflection of humanity in the last 3000 or so years. Then Pluto was demoted and Ceres promoted. The rebalancing has started and in turn that has called for an planetary body to describe that process working in our everyday lives, hence Lilith.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

My technique for reading charts uses the tropical zodiac divided into decans. The fixed stars within those decans determine how the archetype of the zodiac sign is filtered out through the persona while the aspect patterns in one’s birth chart represent the geometry of the soul. I like to blend the ancient with the ultra – modern, like Chiron, the bridge between Saturn and Uranus. My stellium in Aquarius is futuristic like Uranus, but its ancient ruler is Saturn. I have Chiron opposite Uranus exact and it squares my AC by a degree.  The name of the site Darkstar itself an oxymoron. It describes my approach to astrology and life in general.

Share a few of your favorite quotes (10-100 words):

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
~ Carl Jung
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” ~ Isaac Newton
“Those who appear the most sanctified are the worst.” ~ Elizabeth I 

How would you describe the essential purpose of astrology?

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[Image from Vedic Astrology]

Know thyself, Accept yourself, love yourself. Astrology gives you all the tools you need to be the sovereign of your own life.

Please share your #1 tip for aspiring students of astrology:

Stand on the shoulders of giants. Then test out the techniques out for yourself.

Please share your #1 tip for aspiring astrologers:

Same as the above. Empirical research is essential. Don’t be afraid to break the rules. You must have a clear reason why you have done so however, and be able to prove your alternative system works through rigorous testing and examples.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.darkstarastrology.com
https://www.facebook.com/DarkstarAstrology

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Much thanks to the insightful and elegant/sassy Marina E Partridge for taking the time to share her thoughts and advice.

Be sure to check out her full bio and audio readings on Darkstar Astrology!

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Interview, James Braha

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* Interview #73, with Hindu/Vedic and Modern Western Astrologer, James Braha!

* Note from Jess: James Braha is one of the most respected astrologers in America and is the recipient of the Jyotish Kovida award from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. I greatly enjoyed a number of his astrology books — so I decided to send a quick Q&A on career and life vision!

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Hi James! Describe yourself in 5 words:

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Four planets in Tropical Libra.

How did you get into studying astrology?

In 1978, I went for my first astrology reading and was astonished by her accuracy. One of the things she said was that I would have a “retesting of my marriage” in a certain month. When that month arrived, my marriage exploded like a volcano. I then went to Isabel Hickey, a very famous older Boston astrologer, who said my wife would be unhappy with whoever she was with and that I should get her out of my house. Isabel said my wife would return to me in 3 months – all of which happened exactly on schedule. I was so stunned by how someone could my life and my future that I began buying and studying astrology books.

The full story can be found in my autobiographical text ASTRO-LOGOS, REVELATIONS OF A HINDU ASTROLOGER. It is about my early days of learning astrology, and going to India to learn the Hindu system. A rather fun read.

You have written a bunch of informative, insightful, in-depth books on astrology—what a wealth of knowledge! Was there one particular book that was more difficult to complete than the others?

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Actually, no. They all required about the same intensity. But having been an uninterested student in school (other than Drama – I was an actor), I had to learn how to write on my own after the need arose. The first book (ANCIENT HINDU ASTROLOGY FOR THE MODERN WESTERN ASTROLOGER) felt like a gift from god, in that I was able to write clearly and effectively. My second book, ASTRO-LOGOS, is where I began to realize I had some innate writing talent.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

These days I’m mainly doing horoscope readings for seekers. I took a break from astrology for 4 or 5 years and focused on investments with gold and silver stocks. Also, was teaching non duality (Hindu philosophy of Advaita). Now I am doing 4 or 5 Hindu astrology readings a week and enjoying it. Giving the most thorough and detailed readings I can, trying to help people live their lives in the healthiest, most successful way possible.

Share a few of your favorite quotes (10-100 words):

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but I do know that the only ones among you who will be happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Although all dualities come from the one, do not be attached even to this one.” ~ Seng T’san – Hsin Hsin Ming

“After the final no, there comes a yes. And on that yes, the future of the world depends.” ~ Wallace Stevens

“Let a man live so that at the closing of each day he may say I have not wasted this day.” ~ The Zohar

How would you describe the essential purpose of astrology?

Vedic_Astrology

[Image from Vedic Astrology]

It is a blueprint of a person’s life. It’s not absolute, but it reveals the essential nature, abilities, flaws, challenges and so on. It’s the most wonderful and helpful tool I’ve ever come across to help a person realize the highest potential and point out areas of difficulty.

Please share your #1 tip for aspiring students of astrology:

Only use what works, throw out what doesn’t. Don’t accept anything a book or astrology teacher says without verifying its accuracy. Ignore whatever so called authority say if it doesn’t prove effective in your practice.

Please share your #1 tip for aspiring astrologers:

Once you work professionally, don’t work 50 weeks each year. Leave enough leisure time for yourself — astrology is a very intense and demanding profession. It can be draining without if you’re not careful.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.jamesbraha.com

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Much thanks to the gracious and very cool James Braha for taking the time to share his thoughts and insightful advice!

Check out his full bio on his website, along with his catalog of books on Amazon.com

* UPDATE (Aug 2013): 17,000 live viewers tuned into this interview with Mr. Braha!

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Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)

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* This post is part of a short series:

QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Jess’s erotic stash / “sex education”

[PART 2: Erotic Books / Non-Fiction]

The art books (in Part I) were nicely complemented with some non-fiction texts. I just so happen to have exactly five erotic art books and five non-fiction books on sex, at the moment.

These non-fiction books provided me with a lot of “valuable information” re: subconscious desires and that kind of stuff. I have a love for hidden things in life (I’ve always had an interest in what lies under the surface, re: the things that matter).

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6. The Perfumed Garden | Amazon.com

Blurb:

The great English explorer and author Richard F. Burton offers this translation of a work on sexuality, female sexuality in particular. Selected contents: Concerning women who deserve to be praised; About women who are to be held in contempt; Concerning everything that is favorable to the act of coition;  Prescriptions for increasing the dimensions of small members, and for making them splendid. This book contains much erotic poetry.

Excerpt:

The Master of the Universe has bestowed upon them the empire of seduction; all men, weak or strong, are subjected to the weakness for the love of woman.

(The Perfumed Garden, Page 75)

Very well-known book that I’ve yet to read in its entirety.

Link: Amazon.com

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7. The Hite Report on Male Sexuality | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Over 7,000 men, ages thirteen to ninety-seven, speak out about: What they think of women — as wives, lovers, and friends; why a majority of men like marriage but are not faithful; what they think about love — and why they often distrust it; how they feel about giving women clitoral stimulation; why they often masturbate even with a regular sex life…and more.

Excerpt:

“The only time I am anxious that I am not ‘man enough’ (hate that juvenile, macho expression!) is when I have inexplicably lost my hard-on and cannot continue. What the hell happened? I ask myself. How come? How delicately am I balanced, anyway? It is frustrating and embarrassing. It makes me feel like I am a little helpless boy, guilty usually. I feel ashamed.” (Page 399)

Another very well-known book. I read both Hite reports (on male and female sexuality) — I enjoyed the male one a lot more. That’s not to say that the female one was not good. I just found the male one a lot more ‘illuminating’ ^^.

Link: Amazon.com

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8. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sextrology | Amazon.com

Blurb:

In this funny, insightful, and practical guide, Megan Skinner, astrologist extraordinaire, explains how to use the stars to find the perfect sexual mate. She profiles the sexual traits of each of the 12 signs, then shows every combination of them and what to expect in bed.

• Ideal for anyone interested in astrology
• Easy to use, encyclopedic in content
• Includes coverage of Sun signs and Moon signs
• Discusses the influence of each planet and house on the sexual dynamics of each sign and each couple

Excerpt:

Venus and Mars connections are all about your sexual chemistry — Venus is the “feminine” aspect of love, representing your deeper sexual and romantic needs. Mars is the “masculine” aspect of love, representing your most primal sexual desires. (Chapter 10)

A good INTRODUCTORY text to the subject of sexual astrology.

On a slightly more advanced level, I’m a Venus conjunct Pluto in Scorpio 8th house (which kind of explains this entire series of blog posts…).

Links: Amazon.com | Astro.com

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9. The Joy of Sex | Amazon.com

Blurb:

An international bestseller since it was first published in 1972, this updated edition brings this imaginative, uninhibited guide to lovemaking and sex to a whole new generation. It has been revised in such a way to retain Dr. Comfort’s original, revelatory advice while making it appropriate for the 21st century (balances responsibility with the importance of happy and relaxed sexuality in people’s lives). The drawings capture in full, frank detail the intimacy of the act of love.

Excerpt:

Real sex is the sort our culture and most mass media propaganda don’t recognize: not that intercourse, or masturbation, or genital kisses aren’t real sex, but some other things are real sex too, which people need, but which don’t excite our time and age. . .

(The Joy of Sex: “Appetizers” / Page 57)

Also a very well-known book. I absolutely adore the 80 very nicely done line illustrations (realistic, simple and very sensuous/intimate).

Link: Amazon.com

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10. The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People | Amazon.com

Blurb:

From the indefatigable Wallace family, authors of The Book of Lists and The People’s Almanac series (New York Times bestsellers that sold over eight million copies internationally), came 1981’s The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People.

This compelling bestseller that kept many a reader up at night with its two hundred revealing profiles and three hundred rare photos just got better with a dozen new entries on the nocturnal fascinations of the iconic Tupac Shakur, Carlos Casteneda, Jim Morrison, Nico, Wilt Chamberlain, Ayn Rand, Kurt Cobain, Princess Diana, Aleister Crowley, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Hutchence, and Malcolm X.

Excerpt:

“I loved my mother like a lover,” Lawrence admitted after her death in 1910. . .Always thin and consumpive, never particularly virile, with tousled hair, a “flaming” red beard, and eyes “intense as blue stars,” Lawrence attracted by the force of his personality a succession of wealthy, titled patronesses. “Income on two legs” he called these women, who subscribed to the Lawrencean sexual mystique and subsidized his nomadic lifestyle.
(Prodigal Son: D. H. Lawrence, Page 190)

This book is a real riot. I’ve read many of the profiles and have yet to be disappointed!

Link: Amazon.com

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Full Moon in Astrology

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By Guest Blogger Ray (Raymond Johnson)

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[“Virgo Moon” image from DailyHoroscope.com]

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Hi there. I’m Ray and I have been a spiritual seeker for a long time and I will share this with you. Welcome!

Today I’ll talk about astrology because today (8 March 2012) we have a full moon in Virgo squared with the (Pisces) sun. Generally a square, much like a retrograde, brings some conflict and tension. I can usually tell when mercury is retrograde because it just seems so much harder to say what I mean in a way people can actually understand.

With this full moon you may feel moody and possibly even sad or angry when you normally wouldn’t be. Full moons are chaotic anyway. It will definitely keep police and paramedics busy. I’ve never seen a study that proves it, but I definitely hear sirens more often when there is a full moon.

So what does this mean for you? Astrology isn’t destiny. You can use the knowledge to pay attention to what you do and say. That way you don’t say the wrong thing. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Not always. Negative comments hurt long after someone says them. I think we’re all here to play. God, Allah, the divine source, whatever you want to call it, put us here to play and explore. That means we need to play well with others since we’re not in this alone.

OK, so not everyone feels that way. But if you look at any religion, its founding prophet would never do any of the things its followers do, especially its leaders. People ask, “What would Jesus do?” I don’t know but I know what he wouldn’t do. 99% of what his supposed followers think is right to do.

[JESS: I think the problem lies with hypocritical and corrupt leaders, more so than the vast majority of followers. With power comes responsibility, and when that power is abused…]

Anyway this full moon is an opportunity to explore your feelings and really explore what’s important to you. It also nudges us to pay attention to ourselves and others. Pay attention and it will pay you back.

~ Ray

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Author Bio:

Ray has been a student of spirituality and philosophy for many years. He has studied astrology and has read tarot professionally. He also has a deep understanding of sexuality in all its diversity. He believes sexuality and spirituality require a great amount of trust and intimacy that takes one to new levels of existence. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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As a Sun Virgo/Moon Pisces, this post was of great interest to me ;)! Here are a couple of links you might like to check out:

(1) Lunarium is a website where you can find your moon sign (you’ll need your birth time).

(2) Pathway to Ascension discusses how astrology is not about “worshiping the stars.”

— Jess C Scott / jessINK