VIDEO: The Making of a Book Cover

There’s a history to this book cover that isn’t alluded to in the video, namely, that the original Journal Keeper jacket was a lovely, softly-lit  photograph of our local train station in the snow.  Everybody, including my publisher, liked it alot, particularly with the  golden light of the approaching train shining down the tracks.  Then, a friend called to tell me that she had recently been in a San Diego bookstore  where she asked the owner if a memoir by an older woman writer about her life would appeal to her book buyers.  “Absolutely,” the owner replied, “as long as there isn’t any snow on the jacket.  I don’t know why, but I’m always sending back books that feature snow scenes.”  We decided that maybe we should re-think our options.

If You Want to Keep a Journal

Listen to Phyllis read this excerpt:

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One of the reasons why people resist keeping a journal is because they assume it will quickly become a garbage can for all of the spoiled plans, bad news and other dark developments in their life. The journal I keep is the spiritual equivalent of a personal light box or cheering section which I create as I go along. This isn’t to say that the pages are without pain or perplexity. The dilemmas in my life were one of the main reasons I began to keep a journal in the first place. But I use it as a tool for solving or understanding them. Whatever insights or glimpses of the truth I glean when sitting quietly in a wing chair – thinking, reading, or simply gazing out the window at a neighbor walking her dog – is what I write down.

There are other, less self-involved motives for keeping a journal. Knowing I have a place to save them keeps me on the lookout for beauty on display, even in a checkout line in Safeway, or on the other side of a grimy train window in the rain. These are my butterflies, halted mid-flight on the page. Then, there is the “Journal As Ragbag” use, where I store stories, anecdotes or phrases that please my mind and ear. When my children were small, they would often say something so heart-breakingly astute or funny that I rushed to preserve it – sometimes for tomorrow’s essay, which used to drive my children crazy. “Nobody else I know has this problem” wailed my daughter, Eliza after she found herself trapped in a car full of other Brownies listening to her mother read an essay on the radio – about embarrassing her children! Read More

VIDEO: The Journal Keeper

In the good old, hands off days of publishing, the writer was responsible for turning in his or her book, after which it was the responsibility of the hundreds of staff members at the publishing house to take it from there. Now, of course, those hundreds of staff members have been laid off, and writers get to do a lot of new things, like writing flap copy, planning book events, and – this is relatively new – creating material that can “go viral” on the Internet. Read More