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Wednesday, 11 February 2015 16:05

Journaling—Anyone can do it

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The other day I was talking to some of my friends about my journals. For those who have grown up with my kids, it’s well known that if a photo of an event is needed of their child, they can ask me and I’ll probably have it. Plus, I may have an in-depth description of the event in my journal.

I have always kept a diary of some sort since I was in 7th grade. I wasn’t very good with details then, but it reflects the chaos, drama, and fickleness of a teenager. It’s quite funny, but also interesting in that much of it I have forgotten. It doesn’t seem that the writer could be me.

When I became pregnant with Nick, I wanted to keep a detailed journal on my pregnancy and then of his life so that he would remember all that he had done as a baby. We have very select memories and while it’s amazing what we can remember, it’s so sad what we forget.  When Nick was born I had the nurse stamp the outline of his foot in his journal and I collected any newspaper articles about him or the family and stapled them to a page.

Eventually the world of scrapbooking became very popular so my journals became 12” x 12” scrapbooking masterpieces that combined my family’s history with a photo album. I have to say I have been very bad at keeping up with this, but all their school and artwork are in scrapbooks and I have kept up my journaling since 1995. This year will mark 20 years of journaling about my kids, my husband, my family, my hopes, dreams, and disappointments.

I have to say I am very honest in my journals. When I’m mad at someone I write all about it. Very often this gives me clarity and helps me to solve problems. I separate my journals into sections: Boys, Personal reflections, dreams, and rants. When my oldest son, Nick, passed away my scrapbooks became one of my most precious keepsakes. I have nightmares of losing them in a fire and need to scan them onto my computer for extra security. Our lives are in those books.

 Last night I was reading their journal from 2005. This post made me laugh and it made me cry:

"We are working on your anger management skills, Stephen.  The other day you kicked and broke the porch spindle.  You were very brave though because you told Mommy and Daddy.  You have been getting in trouble and not taking responsibility for it.  You told me that you would pay for it if Daddy couldn’t fix it.  Then you were sent to the stairs because Nick said that you bit him.  You told me that Nick pushed you off the swing and your mouth was open so your teeth accidentally hit his arm.  You come up with the funniest lines."

Honestly, who would remember those lines or those moments? It brings me back to when my kids were younger and the only thing I had to worry about was Stephen’s anger. I tell Stephen that he is the keeper of the family history. My hope is that he will share these memories with his children so that they not only know their father, but they get to know their uncle who sadly won’t be there with them. I want Stephen to know that when his child refuses to do chores or screams at his parents and slams his door and breaks it, that’s pretty normal. He went through the same thing.

I especially want him to remember that he did have a good childhood, even though it was cut short by the loss of his brother. When I look back at all we have done, I know that my kids’ lives were filled with fun, love, and laughter.

If you are thinking that you wish you had started a journal for your children or that you would like to start a journal for your kids or just for yourself, it’s never too late. AND you don’t have to be a writer to do this. We are all writers when it comes to journaling.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Tools—How do you want to record your history or your thoughts?
    1. Blog--A lot of people use a blog as their journal and you don’t have to make it public.
    2. Computer—typing out your journal may be a great idea especially if you don’t have neat handwriting. A lot of my journals are unreadable and I am trying to transcribe 20 years of writing.
    3. Journal—I always have a hardcover journal with me. I use one to record the every day happenings and I have another journal for my fiction and blog writing. I write with a Pentel R.S.V.P. fine tip point because it flows so nicely across the page.
    4. Sketchbook—Maybe you are more of a visual artist type journalist. Combine drawing and writing or maybe photos. There is no wrong or right way to journal.
  2. Topics—What do you write about?
    1. Daily life—I try to write every night because I enjoy including the details, and if too many days go by I can’t even remember what I did yesterday. What is happening with your children, your husband, extended family, you?
    2. Family stories—My dad was a great storyteller. He had many adventures as a kid and our family always has something exciting going on. Sometimes I wish we were more boring! I regret that I didn’t write down more of his stories, and it makes me write down the stories of my childhood and my husband’s. This is a definite topic that I need to work harder on.
    3. Current events—I have to admit I’m pretty bad about this. I write more about the weather than what is going on in the world. I figure that is accessible from newspapers and the Internet so I don’t focus on that too much. But if this sparks inspiration, then go for it!
    4. Personal Growth—I write a lot about where I am in my life, what I’d like to be doing. I find journaling to be very therapeutic and believe that it was (and still is) therapy for my grief. When you get the emotions out on paper it’s like releasing toxins.
    5. Dreams—By this, I mean dreams that I have during the night. I keep a journal by my bed and my husband bought me a pilot pen that has a light on the tip so I can write without turning on the light. You may say that you don’t dream, but we all do. It’s just a matter of remembering. When you start to keep a journal by your bed with the intention of writing down your dreams, then you will remember them. I’ll write more about what to do with these dreams in my next post.

Your journal can be whatever you want it to be. The biggest challenge is to get started. Let me know when you do and how it’s working for you. 

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What's Being Said?

  • "Cammarata's action packed storytelling never lets up. The urgency of the pacing draws the reader into Maecha's world quickly, but it is the fierceness of her loyalty and love that defines the narrative. Well-developed details ground the magical elements and make a world where people time travel in their dreams and are friends with gods believable. Jumping from the ancient past to modern day is at first jarring, but as the characters' lives weave together, their complicated relationships deepen the meaning of the story and give it a powerful sense of destiny fulfilled. "

    The US Review of Books

  • "I loved learning about the Celtic lore that is written about in this book! Can't wait to read the next one :)"


  • "I really enjoyed this book. I love Celtic stories. I really enjoyed the dreaming aspect to the book as well. How in our dreams we can go anywhere . The characters in this book , knew that and took advantage of it.

    I had read "Warriors Within", which was her first book. I looked forward to reading this sequel (Eyes of the Goddess) and was not disappointed. I look forward to her next book!!"

    V. McCarney

  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • Adult Journaling Workshop Reviews

    "Being able to take time to journal and focus on myself has been an incredible experience."


  • "Your book is excellent – a picture of Celtic landscape and adventure remained in my mind long after I completed the novel - I am looking forward to your sequel!"


  • "I usually read mysteries or non fiction. Every once in a while I like to try something different. If you like J.R.R. Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia this is a good fit. I enjoyed the story line and the character development. I wonder if and when book 2 will be available?"


  • "Eyes of the Goddess, Book Two of the Fianna Cycle, takes up where Warriors Within left off. Present-day New York City is entwined with 3rd century Ireland by their respective inhabitants, Michaela Sommers and Maecha Ruadh Mac Art, heiress to the throne of Tara. Michaela is involved in a search for the drug lord who killed her father, Police Narcotics Officer Jack Sommers, while Maecha is about to embark on a voyage to Alba (ancient Scotland) to free her father, King Cormac, who had been kidnapped by the Picts. The two worlds are connected by the dream travel of Michaela, the chief druid Finnius Amergin, and Natalie, a child who exists in NYC but is destined to save ancient Ireland from ruin. Cammarata's keen knowledge of Celtic lore and skill in martial arts combine to create an exciting story of ancient battles, gods and magic, honor, loyalty and love. Young adults who love a good adventure story will certainly love this one. While Eyes of the Goddess can be read as a stand-alone, readers will want to start with Warriors Within to experience the full epic tale."

    Joan Weiskotten

    Young Adult Librarian
    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library

  • "I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book. I have been an avid reader of fantasy based novels or most of my life and I found this one refreshing and highly engaging. I truly hope there will be a few more books in this cycle. Thanks!"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • "I SO enjoyed your work, I didn’t want to put it down, and then didn’t want it to end. I am very excited for the next book in the series, to continue my adventure with the sisters."


  • "I bought The Warrior Within at a fundraiser although it was not the type of book I usually purchase. I have been missing out..! I was immediately hooked and disappointed that it took so long for Eyes of the Goddess to be published. Please know that I purchased Eyes of the Goddess through Amazon and appreciate how quickly it was delivered. I am amazed a the skill of the author in being able to transition from the present to the past without losing the reader in the process. I love the Celtic aspect and the storyline continues to keep me addicted to this trilogy. I am eagerly waiting for the next (and unfortunately the last) book to be published. A whole new world of books has been opened to me though my initial purchase of The Warrior Within"

    Ann Frantti

  • Adult Writing Workshop Review

    "This well-thought-out course covered the essentials of creative writing in a logical progression. Class discussion and activities as well as assignments were thought-provoking and stimulating."


Events & Workshops

  • Kids' Creative Writing Workshop


    For teens in grades 6-8th or home-school equivalent.


    Learn all the different topics and techniques you can use in your personalized journal. No experience necessary, just the desire to express yourself!

    Award-winning author, Janine De Tillio Cammarata will explore types of journals and how to personalize them, photo collage, personal motivation, creating stories, and much more.

    Registration opens 8/28/17 at 9:30am

    Register at


    Must register for each workshop separately:

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13--Program Room C

    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17--Jo Piracci Board Room


    FROM 6:30-8:30pm


    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Piracci Board Room

    Adults 18+

    Whether it's in a notebook, blog, or sketchpad journaling can help you lead a whole and fulfilling life. It's a way to keep track of goals, life activities, dreams, and is very fun! Learn the many ways to express yourself! Each workshop will be different so come to them all!





    WEDNESDAYS, NOVEMBER 1, 18, & 15 FROM  5-6PM

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Jo Piracci Board Room

    Teens in grades 6-8 or homeschool equivalent

    Do you have a story in you, but don’t know how to start, are stuck in the middle or can’t figure out how to end? Join award-winning author Janine De Tillio Cammarata for a writing workshop, which will focus on creating and finishing short stories that may be expanded into a novel! All level of writer’s welcome! Each class builds upon the previous so commitment to all three classes is recommended.

    Bring a notebook and pen

    Register at: CPH Library Website


    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Piracci Board Room

    For teens in grades 9-12 or home-school equivalent


    REGISTRATION OPENS 8/28/2017 at 9:30am!

    Fiction writing class for short stories or novels. All levels of writers are welcome. Will touch on character development, setting, dialogue, plot, and more. Group critique is optional, but encouraged. Janine De Tillio Cammarata is an award-winning writer with three published books and has been teaching writing classes for many years.

    Please bring notebook and pen.

    Register at: CPH Library Website