Friday, May 22, 2020

New website announcement!

I realize I haven't posted here about my new website!

Briarbook Lane is home to authors Mary W. Jensen and Elizabeth Wilcox, sisters in life and story. An enchanted escape, with book reviews, writer tools, and a fairy tale book club.

This is a new blog start for me. The website hosts three blogs: my new blog "Mary's Expression", Liz's blog "Elizabeth's Musings", and "Enchanted Garden" which is our fairy tale book club. We will be posting our thoughts on our first book club title, "Mirror Mirror" by Gregory Maguire, on June 2 and invite you to read along!

I'd love it if you came over and followed us there.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Books I Read in 2018

The Goal

Last year my main reading goal wasn't for types or numbers, but simply to track what I read. I bought a cute reading tracker (on Etsy) I printed out. I ended up doing two sheets, one for shorter works and one for more standard books. My main sheet didn't fill out, but I had to print off a second one for shorter works. Read a lot more graphic novels than I expected.

Books Read 2018

Here was my breakdown

  • Graphic Novels: 38
  • Picture Books: 25
  • JE (early readers): 8 (all Owl Diaries, super cute series)
  • JF (Junior Fiction): 2
  • Nonfiction: 5 adult, 4 junior
  • Adult and YF novels (didn't designate between them): 26
  • Story Collection: 1
  • Poetry books (from children, to chapbook, to full collection): 17

A total of 126 books!

I read 20 books for work.
10 books with husband or son.
1 audio book.

I also did a summer reading bingo with my son.

New and Unexpected

The book that I was most surprised to enjoy was "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amore Towles. The description had me thinking it would be a long slow read. Never would have even picked it up if not for my book club. Ended up quickly being immersed into the book and its characters, its philosophy.

A new favorite poet is Atticus. I quickly devoured both his books: "The Dark Between Stars" and "Love Her Wild." Resonating poetry, and gorgeous accompanying black and white photography.

Some other standout books:

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (horror)
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts (romantic suspense)
A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw (horror, Lovecraftian)
Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb (self-help)
The Beauty (graphic novel series)
Explorer (graphic novel series, anthologies)
Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife (children's poetry)
Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx (picture book)

What did you read last year?

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Experience with "Diet Right for Your Personality Type"

The Book

I started a 4 week diet plan in mid October, so I would end just before the holidays. The book that got me started was one I saw on display at the library and checked out: "Diet Right for Your Personality Type" by Jen Widerstrom.

She breaks everyone down into 5 types.

  • The Organized Doer
  • The Swinger
  • The Rebel
  • The Everyday Hero
  • The Never-Ever

I'm not going into the differences, but here's a great article that does so: Jen Widerstrom Explains Why Weight Loss Tips Aren't Working For You

I'd tried changing my diet before, but always struggled. What I liked about Jen's plan is that she tailors it to your individual personality type to increase chance of success. I took the quiz, and my results fell where I expected: The Never-Ever. My own worst enemy, gives up easily, fear based thinking. This resonated so much with me that I was more inclined to give her diet a shot. Another thing I liked is that her plan isn't about carbs bad, fish good, or anything. More veggies, yes; less boxed and processed goods. Better plate ratios and portions. Listen to your body, how it reacts to different foods, and drink more water. Also about changing your diet long-term, setting you up for continued success after the structured 4 weeks are over.

My Experience

The initial cost was really high, buying packages of things like quinoa, bone broth, teas, bulk items that I didn't have on hand. My first week the fridge was overflowing with produce. I was surprised how well much of it held up though, and I did buy less on the later weeks. I also had to get a blender, larger teacups, soup mugs to-go, and a thermos for the sipping broth. But I considered it an investment in my health. I made a Pinterest board for the items I ended up getting.

Now, ideally any diet would include an exercise plan. Jen does include workouts, but I focused on the diet rather than the exercise. I did some exercise, but most of my physical activity was just from work. I do have an active job as a library shelver, and I walk and bus. So it's not like I was stuck at a desk all month. I do know I could have lost more weight if I was more active on my days off.

I lost 7 pounds, half of that in the first week. More importantly, I felt a difference physically and mentally. I was less sluggish, took less naps, was able to focus on tasks, even was more creative, feeling more inclined and able to work on my writing projects.

What didn't work for me

I had to adjust some of the recipes, as most of the portions were too big for me. Some I reduced by about a third, others I completely cut in half. I also had to make some substitutions for things out of season or that I couldn't find in my area, or were too expensive (I'm looking at you halibut).

I learned I am allergic to chamomile tea (cousin to ragweed). I really don't like fish, no matter how it is cooked. And brand makes a difference. I have gotten used to Fage greek yogurt, but one bite of an Oikos and I gagged.

What did work

I liked having everything planned, and going to plan my own lunches better so I don't throw something unhealthy together. If have a plan, and stick to it, I'm less likely to eat out or binge on unhealthy snacks.

I ramped up my water drinking. Seemed like a lot starting out, but got used to it as weeks went on. Now sweets are less appealing (still good, just can't eat as much), and fast food / oily food doesn't taste as good. Still working on cutting back soda, but trying to drink more lower calorie options like Mtn Dew Ice or Kickstart.

My family was supportive. I couldn't have done it without them. They tried some of the meals with me, and made separate meals the other nights (so many dishes). They were willing to taste most everything. We all cut back on sweets.

Moving Forward

We may not have liked all of the recipes, but did keep some to add to our new rotation. Eating healthy can taste good and wasn't as expensive as we feared. We are making changes moving forward, cutting out boxed meals, and moving to more healthy options. And coming up with a rotating meal plan to make planning and shopping easier.

My new goal is to continue eating healthier, and start exercising more consistently on my days off.

Staying with the healthy theme, for my birthday last month my husband bought me a Fitbit. I like being able to track how much walking I actually do, and the reminders to get moving. Default goal is 10,000 steps but that felt too high to start with, so I'm aiming for 5,000.

What choices will you make today to be healthier?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lifelines Returns

Hi Again!

It's been a while since I posted, but I plan to get this blogging thing going again.

I do have some news since I was last here. Lifelines, the poetry collection put together by my group The Poetic Muselings, is back in print and newly available in digital form.

Link to Lifelines print book.
Link to Lifelines for Kindle.

Here's our lovely new cover, photo by group member Michele Graf.

Lifelines New Cover

Suggest a Purchase

If you can't afford a book but still want to read it, remember to use your library. Library purchases still support authors. Most libraries have a way to request a purchase. Here's what the form looks like on the Salt Lake County Library site.

If you don't know how to request a purchase for your library, simply ask the librarian. They are there to help you. You can get info from the Amazon listing on the ISBN, publication date, publisher, etc. Support both your authors and your local library.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Anticipation for April

Tomorrow begins a new month. But it’s not just any month, it’s April! What does that mean? National Poetry Month. April is prolific with prompts, and I always write an abundance of new poems.

In addition to taking on the challenge of writing a poem a day, I am taking the upcoming course How Writers Write Poetry. It’s a free online 7 week poetry course. Since the start date got delayed, the entrants have been invited to submit poems on the theme of “anticipation”. Here’s one of mine:


The air is heavy,
clouds rich with moisture,
the world on hold, waiting…

I tip my head to the sky
and breathe in the fresh breeze--
nearly taste the rain.

Branches stretch,
unfurling leaves and blossoms,
eager for a taste of their own.

How will you be celebrating National Poetry Month? Need some ideas?

30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month
Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge
30 Day Poetry Challenge

Monday, July 21, 2014

Poetry News

I was recently interviewed by Margaret Fieland about Chiaroscuro and writing. She asked some great questions about the process behind compiling and publishing Chiaroscuro, as well as how I balance fantasy and poetry. Go leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my book.

The Poetic Muselings are having a summer poetry challenge. We challenged each other to see who could write (and post) the most new poems between July 15 and Sept 1. Come join in the fun.

Today I wrote my first poem for the challenge. (I am behind!) Since my son was sitting nearby, I asked him for a topic. He chose dinosaurs, as that’s our theme for this week. We’ve picked out themes for each week of summer, to help with activity ideas. So, in honor of dinosaur week and my son, I wrote the following poem. This poem/song also got us up and moving to do the Stego Stomp. So I’d call it a success: a new poem, collaboration with my son, and exercise! Stomp along.

Stego Stomp

Come into the stomping ground
Best party to be found

DJ Rex will never fail
Every dino shake your tail

Through the valley we will romp
Time for the Stego Stomp

Clap your plates to the beat
Move all four of your feet

Stomp left, then stomp right
Jump up with all your might

Nose to the ground, tail in the air,
Wave that thing like you don't care

Spin around, then grab a snack
(Making sure to watch your back)

Blast out a mighty roar
You are a dinosaur!

As a bonus for you, I took a picture of part of my rough draft notes and doodles. When I mentioned DJ Rex, my son pointed out that due to his short arms a t-rex would spin with his nose.

Stego Stomp draft

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Poem and a Prompt

Whether just starting as a poet, or well-experienced, you can learn by imitation. Choose a poem by another poet, classic or modern, and write a poem in the same style. There's a few ways you could approach this:

  • Write a poem as a direct response to the subject.
  • Write your own poem inspired by the topic.
  • Follow the poetry form only.

Here's an example of one of my early poems. I personalized Emily Dickinson's "This is My Letter to the World." I kept it in a similar style, and thought: What would I say to the world?

vintage photoalbum pages with butterfly

My Letter to the World

What do I have to say to the world
That all but deserted me?
Would anyone listen to a single soul
Through the unheard art of poetry?

Although surrounded by others,
Wanting my voice to be heard,
I’m often isolated
For no one will hear my words.

Can I make a difference in someone’s life,
As others did in mine?
Will anyone read the simple words
That I wrote in my spare time?

I may be a shy, quiet person
But I have a message of my own;
Won’t someone come and discover
The soul within my poems.

The message of my poem remains true today. I want my voice, my poems, to be heard. Which is why I am giving away a free copy of my new poetry book, Chiaroscuro. One week left to enter. Go here to the blog post with the Rafflecopter giveaway.

I'd love it if you shared your own poem based on the prompt.