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Conversations with Barb and Jann

October 2, 2012 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

The Power and Joy of Journaling

The other day I was going through an old childhood trunk I call my Trunk o’ Memories when I came across some of my trip diaries from the ‘60’s. My husband and I sat down, read through them and had a great laugh. Back in the day, my frugal mom would put $25 in an envelope for each day of travel, all road trips, of course. That $25 covered all expenses for me and my mom and dad, including gas and the motel. I duly recorded said expenses in the diary and some days we even had a buck or so left over to add to the next day’s envelope. The diaries brought back so many memories of the places we visited (mostly the northeastern U.S. – we were from Toronto, Canada), the ‘60’s era, my thoughts at the time, and the weather. Yes, I also recorded the daily temperature and precipitation.

I had forgotten about those diaries this summer when we embarked on an epic family road trip where I once again kept a daily diary. This time I tapped away on my iPad in my Pages app. I call it epic. Think eight people in a GMC Yukon SUV, three of them six years old and under, on a road trip up the California coast to Portland, Oregon, and back. We stopped along the way (many times), had some fun and some not-so-fun adventures, went through a lot of diapers, laughed and cried (sometimes it was me), and I duly recorded it all. Yes, including the weather.

What I’d done back in the day and now, was journaling. As I wrote in my journal before bed last night, I realized that I have always journaled. But why? Why did I feel the need to record the daily routines, the life-altering events, my thoughts and feelings, the weather? I’m sure it was not just to place these things in the historic record, to be read twenty or thirty years from now.

Remember that secret diary with the tiny key you kept as a teen, the one your bratty little brother read excerpts from to all his friends? You snatched it from his grubby hands and wrote that night,

Dear Diary,

I’m going to strangle my brother and stuff his body into his stinky gym bag!

That was journaling. Admit it. You felt a darn sight better after venting. And so, that’s why I journal. I feel better afterward. I throw down on the page my innermost thoughts, my deepest feelings, loves and hates, hopes and dreams. For my eyes only.

I think everyone knows this about journaling. But when I was researching the subject, I came across a website that listed no fewer than 100 benefits! Check it out at www.appleseeds.org/100_journaling.htm.

Here are some of my favorites: empowers, strengthens your sense of self, soothes troubled memories, creates awareness, eases decision making, measures and tracks what’s important (so, the weather must be important to me –LOL!). The list includes writing-related benefits: enhances breakthroughs, unfolds the writer in you, allows freedom of expression, enhances self-expression, teaches you how to write stories. In fact, I’ve taken some writing classes where you were required to keep a daily journal. It can actually kick-start your muse. Now we’re at 101 benefits! So, if you’re not journaling, get yourself one of those pretty journals and a favorite pen and place them on your bedside table. Make it a habit to write in it every night whatever comes to mind, even if it’s just the weather. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.  
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Conversations with Barb and Jann

May 2, 2012 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

What do you read during your WIP?

Jann:   Barb, when you’re starting a new WIP, do you only read books in the genre you’re writing?
Barb:  I like to read the genre I’m writing in because it gets me in that frame of mind, that contemporary world. I especially like reading humor, which I try to write. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie both know how to construct a laugh-out-loud scene. For category romance, our own Sandra Paul (aka Sandy Chvostal) has always tickled my funny bone. I still find myself pulling out her Reluctant Hero and Domesticating Luc to see how she incorporates animals in her stories, and Linda Johnston also, with her pet sitter and pet rescue stories.
Jann:  Totally agree. You know I’m writing a series category romance, but I read anything and everything romance–historical, paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary. But I find it’s easier to plot when I read only series romance for at least a couple of weeks before I work on a story idea.
Barb:  Since we were discussing this subject, I asked the Orange County Chapter Pros what they read while they’re writing. Ottilia Scherschel, who writes suspense, is of like mind. She says, “I always read some suspense to get my juices flowing.” She also reads craft books, and interestingly enough, her husband’s magazine American Hunter. She likes the website artofmanliness.com for “anything a man does or ever wanted to do.”  Gotta check that one out!
 Joyce Ward also stayed within her genre when she started writing paranormals, but like you, enjoys a change of pace with other genres. Erin Pryor says, “I tend to read things that are related to whatever I’m struggling with while writing…so, if I’m working on a mystery element I’ll read full-on mysteries, if I’m working on an action scene I often turn to sci-fi/fantasy. Contemporaries for friendship and banter, 19th century novels when I’m worried about tone and manners.”
Jann:  Erin has a good idea mixing the genres to draw on their various strengths. 
  
Barb:  Now, Mary Kozlowski writes contemporaries, but loves reading Regencies. She says she can keep a pretty consistent voice, so is not affected by reading in another genre. And this reading your husband’s magazines must be catching on. She reads her husband’s VFW, American Legion and NRA mags because “they have lots of interesting articles about real heroes.”
Roy (Griff) Griffis also reads outside his genre. As he says, “I don’t want to read anything in a
similar genre to avoid contaminating my vision and voice.” Research is the focus of Dolores Else’s reading, both for accurate historical information and to get a feel for the time period. 
Jann:  I have a couple of story ideas that require substantial research, and have put them aside for awhile. What I need to be doing is “writing what I know” for now. Research can be a lot of fun, but it can be very time consuming if you’re not careful.
Barb:  I know what you mean. Been there. Researching is not writing. 
Shauna Roberts, who I know would use her time wisely, finds herself so interested in some of her background research topics that she will keep reading about them after her book is finished.  She also will read articles and how-to books on the craft of writing to reinforce her writing skills.   She reads in different genres regardless of her writing, so I assume they don’t influence her voice.  

Jann:  The Pros have some great comments, and it’s interesting to see what others do. I better get back to my WIP. Remember those goals we talked about a couple of months ago? Well, I just set one with our critique group at our last gathering that I’ve got to make.

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Conversations with Barb and Jann

February 2, 2012 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , , , ,

    
by Barb DeLong and Jann Audiss

Jann:  Well, Barb, how are you doing in Kitty’s on-line Time Management class?

Barb:  Not so well.  Can’t seem to find the time to get assignments done.

Jann:  I know what you mean.  I did my first two assignments and posted every day what I loved about my writing, then fell off the wagon on Sunday.

Barb:  We’ll get back on track.  What’ll help is when we get down to the nitty gritty and mark up our calendars. 

Jann:  Calendars?  Last night I counted five: my Smart Phone, my Franklin, my day planner, my pocket planner and the cutest Mary Engelbreit calendar, if I could only find it.  I want to settle on only one because it’s driving me crazy.  I might miss a hair appointment if I’m not careful.

Barb:  And we can’t have that.  I’m afraid after I fill out the calendar or calendars with all my appointments, working full time, yada yada, there won’t be enough time to write.

Jann:  That’s what we’re taking this class for, Barb.  Where are your priorities?  Is writing even among them?

Barb:  Okay, mom.  I am getting some writing done, but there’s only so many quality pages one can do in the bathtub.

Jann:  Thanks for that picture.  Seriously, it’s all in how you figure out your goals and prioritize them.  You’ve got to take a hard look, decide what you really want.

Barb:  Well, baths take a long time.  I could cut them out, but showers will get my paper wet.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m following the class.  I’m working on Lecture Four.

Jann:  Hate to tell you, but Kitty has just posted Lecture Five.

Barb:  Oh, crap.     
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Conversations with Barb and Jann

January 2, 2012 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

 by Barb DeLong and Jann Audiss
We have been friends for what seems like forever and been struggling with our writing as well.  So to start 2012 off with a bang, we have decided to blog on the Slice of Orange.  What better place to get our mojo working.  We decided to do a conversational blog between the two of us exchanging our thoughts and ideas about our writing.
Jann:  Hi, Happy New Year. Yada, yada…been thinking about blogging again.  What do you think about blogging together?  I remember when we were doing it as a group several years ago?

Barb:  Yes, I remember.  I also had a Pro blog and my own blog for a while.  But I stopped writing them, as it seems I do regularly with my creative writing.  I plunge in, all excited about a new story, write feverishly, then more slowly, then I hit the skids.  How can I make this year different?

Jann:  I know what you mean. One problem I have is getting sidetracked with other obligations. Remember when we use to meet once or twice a month for critique group?  We were actually getting pages out, why don’t we try committing to – oops backup and remove “try”, let’s commit to meeting twice a month to write for 2 hours or critique.  If we critique, let’s set a page minimum – doesn’t’ matter if the pages are good, bad or ugly. 

Barb: The goal is ACCOUNTABILITY! 

Jann: Hey, what about taking Kitty’s Online Class for January.  Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer??  Sounds like we could use it.
Barb:  Setting goals, supporting each other – sounds like a plan, Jann!  And hey, I think we just did our first blog!  Blogging is writing, so we actually wrote something.  I like this already.  

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