I discovered the Unicorn and Yeti books while shelving at my library. The cute art and fun title immediately caught my eye. I love the unique friendship of a unicorn and a yeti. The first book, Sparkly New Friends, goes over how they meet and how, despite their differences, they can be great friends.
The text is perfect for the advertised reading level. Each book is broken down into three chapters, or mini stories, for easier absorption. Unicorn and Yeti are adorable friends, and I enjoy reading about how they overcome their differences and frustrations, learning to compromise and make their unique friendship work. Even though I don't currently have an early reader in my house, I can say these are enjoyable for all age levels. Both my husband and my 16-year-old son read each book as I bring them home.
These books are part of Scholastics new Acorn line, aimed at readers ages 4-7. There are three books in the series out so far, and two more with publication dates.
Book 1: Sparkly New Friends
Book 2: A Good Team
Book 3: Friends Rock
Book 4: Cheer Up (October 6, 2020)
Book 5: Fair and Square (March 2, 2021)
I first learned about a bliss book from Sylvia van Bruggen during a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference. (Follow her now on Leap to Joy.)
What is bliss? Complete happiness, undisturbed by gain or loss.
What is a Bliss Book? In simplicity: a book that makes you happy.
Whenever I feel my writing sucks, or am generally depressed, I can open my bliss book and bring on a smile. I have words of encouragement about my writing, quotes, lists of favorite things, and I’m always on the lookout for pictures to clip from magazines.
The most important rule is no negativity allowed.
CREATING YOUR OWN BLISS BOOK
Make or buy a pretty journal or notebook. I use a lovely illustrated fairy journal.
Write up a purpose page. What do you want from this book? Here’s what I wrote in mine: Fears have no power here. My bliss book is my quiet place. A way to center myself and find my muse. Smile. Play. Be Free. Free my muse; free my writing; free me from doubt and fear; free me from burdens that I may fly.
Add something regularly. Anything that makes you happy. Ideas: lists, pictures, doodles, quotes, stickers, poems, mantras
I also have a gratitude page (well, multiple sections at this point). Anytime I lose sight of the good things in life, sucked down in negativity, I can search for something to add to this page. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, even in our darkest hours.
Open your book! When you’re in a slump, or forget your motivations for doing what you love (whether that be writing, or parenting, or running). Read it front to back, or open to a random page. Let it inspire you once more.
You can expand this idea of bliss into other forms. A bliss box, a bliss room. Anything or anywhere filled with things that inspire and lift you up.
Heaven's Vault is an amazing video game (Available on Switch, PS4, and Steam). It's an "archaeological science fiction adventure game". You play as an archaeologist in a Nebula system, exploring, finding artifacts, learning about the history and ancient language.
They had a demo weekend on Steam a few weeks back. I tried the demo and didn't want it to end! I bought the full game same day. I love the unique puzzle aspect of the language deciphering. It is so satisfying when you can start matching up the different words. As you go along, you get more complex words and phrases. But they make sense based off previous similar words you discover.
Artifacts aren't just for reading inscriptions to learn the language and history, they are also used for bartering, or given to the scholars perhaps in exchange for similar items they have. Finding multiple items from a similar region will narrow down a search area on your map for discovering a new site.
Space travel is also unique. Traveling between the moons of the Nebula, you sail your ship on the rivers connecting them. It is very soothing, and the views are gorgeous. Once you have been to a location you can fast travel by having your robot companion take the wheel, but often those travel times have dialogue where you can delve deeper into the lore, talking about recent finds and revelations.
This is an open world game. You are given a main task, but how you go about solving it is up to you. There are multiple paths to the end game. My first play through took me 15 hours. I then started up a new game plus, which the developers consider to be the true game. As you start with some existing knowledge of the language (saving what you've learned your first game), the inscriptions generated tend to be even more complex. I am still discovering words and phrases I can't even begin to translate. And that excites me. And I've already found things (both artifacts and lore) that I missed the first time.
I highly recommend this game for its depth in history, language, translation. If the demo becomes available again, give it a try. I hope you love it as much as I do.
For this first Writing Life post, I thought it might be nice to talk about my projects. With the whole pandemic thing going on I haven't been writing much. It's hard to focus on creative creation. The projects below are all in various stages of completion. Some just need to find a home. Most I still need to finish.
The Minotaur Staff A (mostly) modern supernatural adventure, with time travel. A treasure hunter finds an artifact that summons a gladiator from ancient Atlantis. This is currently my main Work in Progress (WIP).
Fly With Me (contemporary fantasy) - mostly still in planning stages. some scenes written.
Trinity Coven (paranormal romance) - good chunk written. on back burner.
Warden of Worlds (portal fantasy) - mostly planning stages.
Race to 100 Deaths (fantasy) - good chunk written.
Untitled paranormal romance - early planning.
Fey Moon (fantasy) - many drafts written. has made submission rounds. currently set aside while I decide if I want to revise more.
Name Thy Price - twist on Rumpelstiltskin. finished. unpublished.
The Blazing Princess - twist on Sleeping Beauty. finished. unpublished.
Mirror - twist on Snow White. finished. unpublished.
Wolf-Dragon - picture book. finished. on submission.
Refractions - Collection of poems about color. Will be paired with photography by my brother-in-law James Schwarz. Will be self-published.
Break Free From Stillness - Finished collection of poetry about movement and dance. Unpublished. Quarter-finalist for the 2016 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize.
I'm not going to list all of my individually published poems here, but these are the bigger projects I was a part of.
Chiaroscuro - My debut poetry book about the contrast and balance between light and dark. It’s a journey through a crumbling world that leaves a gritty taste. It shines light on the edge of awareness where dark magic wars with childish innocence.
Free on Kindle Unlimited. May be self-publishing a print version in the future.
Lifelines - A collection of poetry by my poetry group, The Poetic Muselings. Available in both print and ebook form on Amazon.
Mary W. Jensen. Author, poet, gamer, library shelver.