Happy Birthday Sir John Tenniel

Sir John Tenniel (28 February 1820 – 25 February 1914) was an English illustrator, graphic humorist, and political cartoonist prominent in the second half of the 19th century. He was knighted for his artistic achievements in 1893. Tenniel is remembered especially as the principal political cartoonist for Punch magazine for over 50 years, and for his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). (Wikipedia)

BUY NOW: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Books of Wonder)

We Are the Authors of Our Lives

As many of you know, I’ve been a long-time fan and follower of Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology — since my early 20s, when he was an 8-point type addition at the back of the old New Haven Advocate. Now, his poetic wisdom arrives through the ethernet, always delivering good things to think on and fodder for deep contemplations.

This week’s newsletter included, among other tasty morsels, thoughts on Mercury Retrograde, change, transition, and Zen Buddhism, a poem by William Stafford, a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, and pieces of good and redeeming social news to soothe the weary soul.

And then this, my horoscope for the week:

Cancerian novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1819–1875) is famous for Vanity Fair, a satirical panorama of 19th-century British society. The phrase “Vanity Fair” had been previously used, though with different meanings, in the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes, as well as in works by John Bunyan and St. Augustine. Thackeray was lying in bed near sleep one night when the idea flew into his head to use it for his own story. He was so thrilled, he leaped up and ran around his room chanting “Vanity Fair! Vanity Fair!” I’m foreseeing at least one epiphany like this for you in the coming weeks, Cancerian. What area of your life needs a burst of delicious inspiration?

Well, funny you should mention it, Rob.

For the past month, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my new book, Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story. But something has kept me from saying Done! and hitting Send! I wasn’t sure what until…

Vanity Fair! Vanity Fair!

A brilliant piece of inspiration that walked into my consciousness just two days ago and handed me the keystone. Handed me a beautiful, odd-shaped addition that holds the whole story together — thank you Brené Brown’s Rising Strong. Done.

Now one might think that sending a new book off to press in the throes of Mercury Retrograde is risky, but let’s consider it brave, shall we?

Brave because not only is Mercury Retrograde a dicey time for all things technology and communication, but also brave because Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story is a sweet piece of creative non-fiction, a true story deserving to be told by this writer who finally decided to claim it as her own.

Watch for more about Water Under the Bridge, due out this spring!


I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains;
I invented a brighter flame for myself. — Friedrich Nietzsche


 

YOUR SUPPORT IS APPRECIATED

Copies of my new book Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story can be pre-ordered now, click here. Books are expected to ship by the end of March 2020. (Sales processed through Words by Jen of Branford, CT)

 

 

Post ©2020, Jen Payne. IMAGE: Writing, Zhang Xiaogang. Blog title is a nod to Brené Brown’s “Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted,” from Rising Strong. Horoscope text from Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology. Book cover art by Sarah Zar.

Thinking

I think I am thinking too much. The flood gate that held in and held up this grief is lifting, slowly, and in its wake: thinking. A rush so fast, when I wake in the morning, I hear its swooshing and pulsing, traveling from dreams to the day. Dreams filled with corridors and missed meetings, days suddenly steady-paced and interesting again.

IMAGE: Ann, Thinking, with Flowers by John Bratby.

The thing about books is…


“Perhaps the book opened a door; books have a way of causing ripples.” ― Erika Swyler, The Book of Speculation


There is a particular joy in the serendipity of books. How one leads you to the next, how one echoes another without your choosing. How someone can ask have you read…? and you have, or have wanted to for a long time. How someone can say you must read… and you do and you know exactly why you should have.

I look forward to the new year, if for no other reason than the possibility of new books, new open doors, and new ripples upon which to surf. Join me?

I’ve just signed up for my 8th annual Goodreads Reading Challenge with a goal of reading 50 books. You can too!

CLICK HERE to take the challenge now.

Then let’s open the door and talk about books! Click here to connect with me on Goodreads.

©2020, Jen Payne. Photo from LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, which can be purchased here.

2019: The Year in Books


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles W. Eliot


As the years winds down, I have a book in queue (The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler) and the manuscript for a dear friend’s new book in my lap. It’s my favorite reading time of year: this hot coffee, chilly air, fire in the fireplace, cat on the lap season that it is.

In this week’s in-box, the Goodreads “Your Year in Books” reports that I have read 51 books this year, and some 13,451 pages. The shortest, at 40 pages, was Wabi Sabi, a wonderfully collaged children’s book by Mark Reibstein; the longest at a whopping 545 pages was The Witches of New York by Ami McKay.

Speaking of pages, this was the year I instituted my 29-page rule: if I’m not all-in by page 29, I’m all-out. Life is too short to be half-in on anything, isn’t it?

Books with 5-star, all-in ratings this year included:

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly
  • Almost Everything, Notes on Hope, Anne Lamott
  • Witchmark, C.L. Polk
  • The Alice Network, Kate Quinn
  • Peony in Love, Lisa See
  • The Forest Lover, Susan Vreeland
  • Beyond the Bright Sea, Lauren Wolk

Through no fault of her own, Barbara Kingsolver earned the only one-star rating this year for Unsheltered. My review said something like this: “I adore Kingsolver’s work and her commitment to helping us better understand the natural world and our environment, but…we. are. still. living. the. nightmare. I’m off to read some escapist fiction now. Thank you. And no hard feelings.”

Which could explain why I devoured Ottessa Moshgegh’s book My Year of Rest and Relaxation, in which the protagonist drug-sleeps her way through an entire year.

But who needs drugs when you have books? I mean, what better way to escape for a moment or week than to time travel (Time After Time, Lisa Grunwald), get lost in a mystery (The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton), consider other monsters (Melmoth, Sarah Perry), or just find solitude (The Salt House, Cynthia Huntington ).

What better way indeed?

Now, here’s some happy news with which to start your year…the new Ransom Riggs book, The Conference of the Birds, hits shelves January 14! I’m pre-ordered. Are you?

Happy New Year and Blissful Reading!

©2019, Jen Payne. IMAGE: The submissive reader, Rene Magritte

This Too Shall Pass

“There once was a king who was going to put to death many people, but before doing so he offered a challenge.

If any of them could come up with something which would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy, he would spare their lives. All night the wise men meditated on the matter.

In the morning, they brought the king a ring. The king said that he did not see how the ring would serve to make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy.

The wise men pointed to the inscription. When the king read it, he was so delighted that he spared them all.

And the inscription? This too shall pass.

— RAM DASS —

A Holiday Toast

“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

— JANE KENYON —

Happy Holidays & Heartfelt
Best Wishes for the New Year!