Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brave YOU World: Create & Fund an Unorthodox Life

Jerusha rockin' it a la peacock
at Houston Pride 2015
My fabulous daughter, Jerusha Rodgers, spent the better part of two years traveling the world with nothing but her own ingenuity, a genuine desire to live in a yurt, and an income cobbled together from freelance editing and online essay grading.

My amazing dad, Del Lonnquist, scaled tall buildings and toured with a rock band in his youth. More recently, he cared for my mom as she was dying of Alzheimer's and then took to the road on his motorcycle-sidecar rig. He's since ridden tens of thousands of miles and, at age 80, earned his Iron Butt certification as one of the World's Toughest Riders.

And then there's me. Hate to toot my own horn, but I will claim for myself that I discovered the absolutely WORST Way to Become an Almost Famous Author.

In addition to the gene pool and our love for lefse, all three of us share a flare for the arts, an insatiable curiosity about what lies around the next bend, and an uncanny knack for combining the two in an unconventional lifestyle. What works for us may not work for everyone, but it does indicate that anyone can create an unconventional path that works for her/himself. It's about living by decision, being true to your authentic self, and focusing on giving and doing as opposed to getting and having.

Dad was up up and away, skydiving and hot air
ballooning to celebrate his 80th birthday
Jerusha had the brilliant idea to bring our peripatetic POV to SXSW Interactive 2016 in a three-generation panel: Brave YOU World: Create & Fund an Unorthodox Life. We need your vote to get on the SXSW roster!

Here's the official pitch:
Everyone knows exactly what they’d to do if X, Y and Z didn’t stand in the way, but how do people leap and trust a net will appear? For author and sidecar-biker Del Lonnquist, his daughter, NYT bestseller Joni Rodgers, and her daughter, freelance editor Jerusha, it was three perfect storms of adventurous spirits, necessity and a willingness to try new things. This generational panel discusses the pragmatic approach to exploring and combing disparate skills to develop, grow, and keep a creative career that makes every day the life you dream of. Two SXSW vets and a newcomer to the Texas stage know how to work the world—from frustrations to elations and making the most of things as they come.

Please hop on the SXSW Panel Picker, take a moment to register, and vote. 

Your support is hugely appreciated! Hope to see you at SXSW16. :)



Monday, August 03, 2015

Into the Mystic: Prepare to discover/rediscover the great WB Yeats in Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross

On the flight over to Ireland this weekend, I was reading The Secret Rose, a strange and wonderful collection of stories by William Butler Yeats. One of the many lines that leapt off the page:

"...the dreamers who must do what they dream, the doers who must dream what they do."

The words find new context in Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross, the first in a trilogy of novels about young Willie Yeats and Maud Gonne, a British heiress, change agent, mystic seeker and champion of Irish civil rights.

Gonne was the muse that catalyzed Yeats' career as she became the object of his unrequited passion/obsession. Their political and personal lives were intimately entwined; they were kindred spirits, soul mates, and partners in a long journey of spiritual exploration that included mind-altering drugs and secret occult rituals.

But Maud had another life, another love, that Willie knew nothing about, and inevitably, the two worlds would collide. With great insight, wit, lyrical skill and deep-dive research, Orna Ross transports readers to an extraordinary moment in the history of Ireland and allows us to see it through the eyes of two people whose passion for justice and poetry changed the world.

Limited edition hardcover with Gyles cover design
As a literary artist and publishing industry revolutionary, Ross is a modern day dreamer and doer named twice to Bookseller's list of the 100 Most Influential People in publishing. In honor of the Yeats Sesquicentennial, she's created a special edition of Her Secret Rose bound in one volume with The Secret Rose by WB Yeats. The new limited edition hardcover features the spectacular original cover design created for The Secret Rose by Yeats' friend, artist Althea Gyles, and includes two stories the original publisher insisted on removing from the first edition, though Yeats intended them to be read as part of the collection.

I was thrilled to participate in this project as the editor of Her Secret Rose, and I'm in Ireland to celebrate the book's official launch tonight at the Yeats Memorial Building in Sligo.

I've spent the past few days tromping the green hillsides, exploring the ancient burial sites at Carrowmore, and eavesdropping on musical Irish dialog in the pubs. For me, this experience has been uniquely rich because the poetry and mystic prose of Yeats is resonating through it all. On a bus somewhere between Shannon and Knock, listening to the lively conversations of young and old people around me, I suddenly realized that the voice heard throughout this novel is the voice of Ireland. It's verdant and proud, with a unique melody, hard-won wisdom and wry humor.

I always loved the idea of Ireland. This book finally brought me here. I always loved the idea of Yeats, the firebrand poet. This book brought me to his life and work in a way that made it vibrant, meaningful and completely, timelessly relevant.

THANK YOU

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