If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is more than writing down simple things like what happened that day although that's pretty much what I do. It's not exactly like practicing cursive as a young student or writing spelling words ten times. It's more like musicians singing or playing the scales or simple songs to limber up. Keeping a journal not only chroncles your life, but it limbers up your writing skills the way jogging slowly before running limbers up your muscles. At least that's my opinion.

I started journaling when I was fourteen. I used a three-ring binder and wrote pages and pages on notebook paper. When I grew up and had teenagers of my own, I was going to remember what it was like to be a teenager. Or so I thought. I kept it up until I graduated, got a job, met my future husband and got too busy. That ended my journaling for over twenty years until my brother and sister-in-law, Jerry and Joanne, gave me a journal for Christmas 1981. The inscription inside read: To Gloria, to gather your thoughts, your prayers and your memories. I misplaced it and didn't find it until March 1982. I was in my second semester of college, and my first entry detailed winning the Virginia Perryman Award for freshmen writers. I was in my early forties at the time, so I probably had the advantage of life experiences, but I was thrilled with winning, not only because I won $60.00, quite a bit at that time, but I was also recognized at an award ceremony at Kent State in April.

From that entry I'd like to say I continued a daily journal, but I didn't. I wrote one entry several days later, skipped a year, added a few more entries then skipped three years until after I graduated from college and had been teaching for a while. I didn't start keeping a steady daily journal until the spring of 1989, and I've faithfully written almost every day since that time.

My journals are not filled with beautiful prose nor are there fanciful flights of poetic thoughts. They're mostly prosaic entries listing what I did that day or the day before.Sometimes I write about feelings or ideas I have, but it's not anything future historians would be interested in. It's good I have no illusions about becoming a famous writer someday. At least I write more than my brother, Jerry did. "Went to the library," "Planted a thousand daffodil bulbs" or "Got the brakes fixed on the truck." But at least he kept a journal. After he died, we sat around the table reading what he'd written and smiled over remembrances of him. His entries were Jerry. To the point. Nothing extraneous.

However, when I've gone back to my beginning journals as I did for this blog, I'm reading things I'd forgotten. I regret I didn't keep a journal when my children were growing up. Fortunately, I wrote letters to my three sisters when they were away at college. My sister, Elaine, saved the ones I sent her and put them in a scrapbook for me years later. She made a quilted cover for it and gave it to me one Christmas. It was one of my favorite gifts because I read things about my children I'd forgotten. I didn't remember until I read one letter that my youngest, Mary, had trouble differentiating between frogs and toads so she called them all froads.

In my journal, I also write on the inside covers every book I've read, the author, and a line or two of my opinion of the book. I keep a gardening journal during gardening season, too. That is even more prosaic than my regular journal.

My journals may all end up in a dumpster someday, but then again maybe not. Maybe my children and grandchildren someday will be interested in them. Probably not, but sometimes I like going back to older ones like the one in which I detailed my battle with the skunk. And as for that 3-ring binder journal I kept as a teenager? It got wet when our basement flooded long before my kids were teenagers. Maybe that's why I wasn't the perfect mother a teenager could wish for, or maybe it was because I had four teenagers at one time. Boggles the imagination, doesn't it?

Have you ever tried keeping a journal? Have you used your journals as research for your novels?                                                                        


Warren Bull said...

I had an English teacher in elementary school who gave us the assignment of writing one page of a spiral-bound notebook daily. It was a great introduction into writing. Wish I knew where they are now.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I've kept journals since I had my first child at a too-young age. I have rows of them in all kinds of notebooks, fancy gold-edged hardbacks, spirals, paperbacks with pretty illustrations or quotes for each day, thick ring binders. Lots of them have pages and pages for each and every day--no misses. Some have a page or more written just about every day for most of a year, then an interruption for a while where the pages are spotty, once a week or twice a week.

Now, I keep several journals at the same time. In my physical one, which tends to be a hardback exercise book like kids take to school, I write about things going on in my life periodically. Big gaps here at times. On the computer, I keep a journal for each novel I write. That gets written in every day as a warm-up to writing and a plan for the day's work. (Stole this idea from Sue Grafton.) I write less in my physical notebook because I'm almost always writing one book or another these days, and most of my journaling goes in here.

I often go back to older journals. I used them to practice my writing with descriptions, snatches of dialogue, writing exercises. I also wrote lots of ideas for stories and for books in them. I've also found forgotten poems in them that I copied out and reworked into publishable poems.

I think journals of one kind or another are the writer's best friend. Who was it who said, "No day without a line?"

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, I had my third grade students write in their journals - a lined notebook - every day after lunch, and every night I'd lug all 20 plus journals home and respond to them. Actually, it was all in the form of a letter: Dear Mrs. Alden and my response, Dear Joe, etc. Often I'd give them a prompt like something dealing with one of the chapter books I was reading to them, or something silly like "You woke up this morning with deer antlers. Tell me about it." And often I'd let them write about anything they wanted to write about. I think few teachers do this because it is quite time consuming.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I am so impressed. Very few people actually keep a journal, but you have gone above and beyond.

My journals sound like yours; the hard cover kind I can pick up at the Dollar Store or Big Lots for two or three dollars. Sometimes I find them even cheaper than that and stock up on them. I've had some bigger and more expensive ones given to me as gifts, too.

I keep poems I write or start on notebook paper in a plastic binder labeled "Works in Progress." If I wrote them in my journals I'd have a hard time finding them.

Patg said...

What's the technical difference between a journal and a diary?

Gloria Alden said...

Probably nothing, Pat. At least not in my mind. I guess I think of diaries as those little books with a lock and key we had as kids. Are you being picky??? :-) Roget's Super Thesaurus says: Diary n. journal, chroncle, account,log, record, daybook. According to Elbert Hubbard - whoever he was it's "The lavatory of literature." Okay? Does that answer your question?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Patg, a diary is usually a listing of daily events and accomplishments. Much like Gloria's brother's that she mentioned in her post. A journal, however, holds reflections on those events and other reflections on the world around, plus for a writer it can hold practice writing, exercises, ideas for future projects, even some first drafts.

Gloria Alden said...

I like your definition, Linda. Actually, when I do go back into them, I often get writing ideas I hadn't thought of in that way at the time. Those little nuggets come in handy sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I will NEVER throw your journals away!! I will cherish them forever!!! I LOVE YOU MOM!! Sue

Gloria Alden said...

I'm glad, Sue, but will you actually read them???? I love you, too. :-)

E. B. Davis said...

I kept journals when I was young. I'm too busy now, but since I never wipe my e-calendars clean, I do have a chronology of events--and that triggers memories of the days. It's better than nothing.

Warren Bull said...

I had lunch with a friend who is reading his great grandmother's diary. He is fascinated. So keep writing. Someone sometime will appreciate it.

Alyx Morgan said...

I have journaled from time to time throughout my life. I've just recently taken to transposing them into e-form, so that they don't take up too much room in my home. It's kind of neat to read them again & see what thoughts I had back when certain items happened.

Doing this has also served to remind me of "little" things that happened over the years that I've forgotten about.

Sue, your loving daughter said...

Yes, I will read them!! So you better not say anything mean about me!! LOL

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. you're right. Anything is better than nothing. I still wish I'd kept a journal when my kids were growing up. I'm not sure I could have written anything when my son died, though. It was too hard to write about it although I did write an essay in my first English class at Kent a year later and my professor talked me into submitting it to the ICON, the literary magazine for the branch campus I went to. They published it and I got a lot of comments about it. Still I thought about writing a memoir about those first few years, but there's too much I've forgotten.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, we have some letters that people sent our grandmother that we've enjoyed reading. However, we don't have anything she wrote since whoever they were sent to either didn't save them or didn't return them to her survivors. I do have letters my father wrote and other relatives, but nothing as old as what you're talking about.

Gloria Alden said...

It is fun to read them again, isn't it, Alyx. People and events you'd forgotten, but it all comes back when you read them. Some things you're sure at the time you'll never forget have a way of slipping out of our memories as we clog our brains up with so many new life experiences.

Gloria Alden said...

My dearest daughter, Susan. As I wrote above, I didn't keep any journals when you were all teenagers. Need I say more??? Actually, you were always a good kid so you wouldn't have to worry even if I did.