Two years ago, Elizabeth and I started Briarbook Lane together. To celebrate, we are having a contest! Check out the details on our new Briarbook Lane News blog.
Here is a look back at what I have accomplished this last year.
I started Briarbook Lane Press to self-publish my own work.
I started my newsletter in September 2021. The initial email chain for signing up is seven emails, and I have sent out seven monthly emails.
Make sure to sign up so you don't miss out on future emails. As a bonus, you get a free short story.
I wrote twelve blog posts. It was definitely in spurts, and not on a consistent basis. My newsletter kept to a much better schedule. I will have to do better! Check out the timeline of my posts below.
I hope you stick around with us for another year!
I read at least 57 books in 2021 (probably missed tracking a few picture books or graphic novels). You can see My Year in Books on Goodreads for additional stats and the full list of books.
My Favorite Reads from 2021
What is it?
The A to Z Reading Challenge is simple. You have one year to read 26 books, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I am not sure where I saw this challenge, but decided to adopt it for myself. And I just decided I want to do it twice; this would be a really fun picture book challenge.
Come up with a list of 26 titles, starting with each of the letters of the alphabet. Can be any type of book you want: novel, anthology, graphic novel, novella, poetry, nonfiction, children's book. I'm not judging! My list is mostly novels, with a scattering of short story collections and non-fiction.
Once you have your list, you can start reading. I'm going to wait and start in January. Order is not important. You can read from A to Z, or cross them off in whatever order you are feeling. Pacing should be about two books per month, or one book every two weeks.
I'll keep updated on the sidebar what letter and title I am currently reading. You are welcome to read along with me, or at your own pace. Here is my list on Google Drive.
Where to find books?
Start by looking at your own bookshelves. Are there any books you own and have been meaning to read? Next, check your wishlists, library lists, and Goodreads 'want to read'. Ask your friends, ask social media. You can ask for general suggestions, certain genres, or specific letters. You may find a great recommendation you wouldn't have considered on your own.
If you have trouble finding a title for a certain letter (like X), there are lists on Goodreads!
I am buying one book for this challenge (Xanadu anthology, older book, had to buy used). The rest are coming from my own collection or from the library.
Picture Book Challenge
This is just a fun bonus challenge. I'm not going to get a list of these in advance, due to the nature of my job; I will see plenty of picture books as I work at the library. 26 titles, again starting A to Z, but all picture books. I'll track these on a second tab on my sheet. Later in the year, as my list starts filling in, I may need to look for specific letters, but I'll start by picking up whatever grabs my attention. I'm a sucker for pretty covers, especially on picture books.
Let me know if you're going to do either (or both) of the challenges. I already have my main titles, but feel free to recommend picture books. I'm always happy to recommend books as well, so don't hesitate to ask!
Are these the same show?
We've been watching the first season of Resident Alien as Dexter: New Blood premiered. Resident Alien is a comedic SyFy show starring Alan Tudyk about an alien who crashed on earth and took human form to fit in. Dexter is a (supposedly) reformed serial killer. As different as the concepts for these shows are, I keep seeing more and more similarities. Now, the below commentary is just for fun. I love both of these shows, so am not criticizing them in any way. Merely amused by the similarities. For context, as of this blog, I have seen two episodes of Dexter: New Blood, and five episodes of Resident Alien.
Spoilers below the break.
It's our anniversary! One year ago this month, Elizabeth and I started this venture of Briarbook Lane together. We created this website and our blogs, a virtual home for the two of us to connect with each other and share with the world our passions of fairy-tales, reading, writing, and gaming. Here's a lookback at my own journey this year.
The Inner Child
Meet My Inner Child
My two year old is wearing a pink frilly dress, blonde hair up in pigtails. But that doesn't stop her from getting dirty, or stripping down to a diaper (or less) for true freedom. She's already a night owl, staying up late to play with her toys, telling stories about her Little People.
She is scared of dark places, like under the porch. Her older brothers' friends are so big and make her nervous. [Just like the big publishers.]
My writing is best when I strip down the conventions, stop listening to outside forces. My inner two year old puts on the charm when she gets attention, such as from a good response to my writing. She loves to know others are entertained.
She hides from the darkness, the unknown, of the blank page. She has a hard time moving forward without all the corners being lit. Which explains why I outline, plot, and brainstorm before putting anything down on paper.
She doesn't have many tantrums. Rather, she is more likely to hide. If someone doesn't like her (or her writing), or she feels ignored (which happened too often in a big family) she gets hurt and hides in a corner or cupboard. It takes a lot of coaxing to get her back out again.
My passion is fantasy. My inner two year old loves to create different worlds, and bring fantastic creatures into our own. One of my childhood "imaginary friends" was a unicorn, and I think that unicorn has been inspiring me ever since.
Seeking that which is Lost
I sit cross-legged on oaken floor
In addition to April Showers and Easter, April is known for being National Poetry Month. To celebrate, you can read poetry, write poetry, share poetry. Try a new poet or a new poetry form. Poets.org has an adapted list this year for 30 ways to Celebrate--including ways to incorporate it in a virtual classroom and at home.
Poetry for me is a way to play with words, sometimes used as therapy, and should reveal something to the reader. The poem below is one I feel fitting for this current situation. Uplifting, and introspective. It was published in Snapdragon Journal's Journey issue, and is also included in my poetry book Chiaroscuro.
I have updated the Writing Nook section of the site with some resources for writing and publishing poetry. How will you be celebrating this month?
Seeking That Which is Lost
I sit cross-legged on oaken floor
loosen my muscles from head to toe;
breathe in the fresh, clean air encompassing me,
eyes settle on a single pink flower
in the vine border of the cream wall before me;
outer vision blurs as I journey within.
Break down unsteady walls of insecurity.
Push through foggy layers of forgetfulness.
Swim through the ever-circling moat of procrastination.
Enter the guarded keep of true self.
Seeking that which is lost.
In the bottomless dungeon? No…
there dwells my heart, held under lock and key.
In the gilded tower? No…
there reside my dreams, gazing at the stars.
I pass through the library,
smiling at my muse crafting inspiration,
and finally find that which I sought
deep within the treasury, dwelling in memories.
I take her hand, this child in me,
coax her to stay by my side,
as I return to focused eyes
on the painted wall before me.
Welcome to my corner of the site. I'm Mary, the older sister. I want this blog, this site, to be an escape. I'll be talking books, gaming, poetry, fairy tales, libraries, self-care, and my writing life. Expect a monthly book review. I'll be reviewing fantasy titles, ranging from picture books to poetry to adult. My plan is to post weekly, but bear with me as I get into a rhythm.
With the current state of the world, and many of us staying home for our health and safety, it is so important to find methods of escape and enchantment. You need to take care of yourself to stay healthy and sane. Keep a routine, make sure to move and eat healthy. Some ideas:
Mary W. Jensen. Author, poet, gamer, library shelver.
A to Z