A Look Back: What a Year (Mary Strand)

This month at YA Outside the Lines, we’re looking back at 2023.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

How Charles Dickens could've possibly predicted my 2023 in 1859, when A Tale of Two Cities was published, I have no idea, but bravo to him.

This year has truly been the best and worst of times.

In a real sense, it actually began on October 22, 2022, the date of my how-did-I-not-die scooter crash. I've spent the year trying to bring my right arm back to fully functioning. (I'm not there, but I'm closer.) I couldn't write or play guitar for months, and I'm a novelist and musician/songwriter.

So I threw myself even more into the creation of my debut album, Golden Girl, even though for a while I could only do vocals and had to delay my guitar on a few tracks.

I physically couldn't write, and the overwhelming nature of my injuries meant that I didn't have the mental or emotional bandwidth to write funny novels, which is what I do.

But. Ultimately, this year:

1. My Golden Girl album happened, and the CD released on June 23.

2. I had a cool CD release party at the Aster Cafe.

3. My album then released on vinyl. GOLD vinyl. Epic.

4. A publisher contacted me out of the blue and asked me to write a children's novel.

5. It's done, it's about a girl who's into extreme skateboarding, and it comes out in 2024.

6. This past weekend I got to sing at the Turf Club, which was a stretch goal for 2023.

7. I survived a massive house remodel and flashed only four contractors. (Not my fault!)

8. I had a great trip to Austria and France, including my beloved Paris.

9. I can't yet play all sports, but I played softball. And wiped out without new injuries!

10. I climbed back on my scooter and rode it, despite feeling all sorts of terror.

I also choose a "word of the year" every year. In 2023, it was "REBIRTH." (Because of the Scooter Crash.) I powered through a world of pain this year and think I achieved that. For 2024, though, I've already decided on "NOURISH."

And I sure hope "nourish" calls for fruity cocktails.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her books and music at marystrand.com.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! A lot of good to compete hard with the bad! :-)

  2. Waay cool. I cringe at the scooter wipeout, having once driven a Honda 90 into a tree.

    1. Yikes! Ironically, I just got my motorcycle license in 2022 and planned to buy a motorcycle this year, but that's now out of the question. (And thanks!)


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