Posts tagged with: RT Book Reviews

Processing Emotions: Journaling Works For Me

Happy. Sad. Fear. Anger. Love.


I am not one of those writers who can keep writing fiction when my life is falling apart and a whole slew of emotions are bombarding me. Call me unprofessional, undedicated, even a weenie-I’ve called myself all of those names and more.  In the past I used to stop writing and concentrate on getting my life back together-one time it took me almost a decade.

After all, I come from a family of extremes-the one extreme dealt with emotions by screaming. The other side stuffed the emotions to appear calm and in control in the midst of another’s hissy fit. Personally, I thought the calm and in control person looked well…more sane, so that’s the pattern I chose. But by stuffing emotions I never learned to process them. And though I’m no psychotherapist, I figure that’s why I tend to shut down during crises.

After that whole decade-long fiasco of piecing my life back together, I learned a different way to cope.  (Yeah, I can be slow sometimes.) Journaling. It sort of evolved out of The Artists Way and morning pages.

Let me state right now even though I’ve used them in the past and they work, I hate morning pages. I might’ve mentioned this a time or two…or ten. But this journaling is something I do strictly to process my emotions. And I don’t do it daily (like you’re supposed to do with morning pages). I only journal during highly emotional times, sometimes happy times but more often during a stressful situation or a crisis. Those times that have me reaching for those things which start with “ch”. Chocolate. Chips.  Yeah, chocolate chips work, too.

After recording what happened to piss me off  upset me, I then take time to write down how I’m feeling. My emotions, my body’s reactions (like this eye twitch I get when I’m trying hard to be in control) and how I feel about it-yeah, simple enough, right? Not so much when you’ve never allowed yourself to process emotions.

I have found an advantage to using this method which translates to my writing. By making myself experience the emotions and recording what I’m feeling, I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned to help my characters process their emotions, too. It was after I started doing this that my writing seemed to really take off. (By this I mean I started finaling and placing in contests, including the Golden Heart® after 10 years of entering.)

Aha! Not only did I learn how to process emotions in real life, but I also utilized what I learned in my fiction writing. Definitely win-win.

How about you? Are you one who can create through anything? Or do you have to process your emotions first before you turn yourself loose on your fiction? Do you find real life emotional experiences (good and bad) help you with writing your novel?


Just an fyi-I’ll be gone most of the day today-one of those stressful times, I have a son going for his first visit for dyslexia testing. It was scheduled for a week ago but the diagnostician came down with the flu. I didn’t realize the conflict when I rescheduled, and it’s out of town plus it will take up to four hours-so unfortunately I’ll be gone most of the day. I will, however, check in when I get back, and I look forward reading and responding to what you have to say. Thank you!

And one last thing, the normal spiel about me: My indie-pub suspense thriller The Good Daughter is up for the 2012 RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Squee!! To learn more about my books, follow me on social media, subscribe to my newsletter or read past articles I’ve posted, please visit

Talking Romantic Suspense: Heroes for Kick-Butt Heroines

The first romantic suspense book I wrote (which will never be published), the heroine needed rescuing. A stalker was after her. The hero was a martial arts teacher and ultimately taught her enough tactics to defend herself, but she was a long way from the kick-butt heroines I wrote in The Good Daughter or Trust No One.

While there are still ‘ordinary’ women in extraordinary circumstances in romantic suspense stories–those every day moms and working women who find themselves on the run from or caught in the crosshairs of villains–many of today’s heroines are FBI or CIA agents, they’re military officers, sheriffs or spies, or in the case of Trust No One, both the women had been trained as assassins.

Which brings me to the point of this blog-what sort of heroes do these strong, well-trained, take-charge women need?

Characters Confess

When I am struggling with my characters, there are two different techniques I use to get to know them. The first is pretty simple and I bet most writers have tried this: write the scene in first person in that character’s point of view. Most of the time this works for me because by writing in first person, I, in effect, become that character and start seeing things through his or her eyes. (yes, it works male or female)

But then there are those stubborn characters.  The ones who refuse to cooperate or who are so closed off you can’t figure out what they are doing. For those, I resort to character interviews, or as I more appropriately call it here, character confessions. I am like the old-time journalist who grabs hold and refuses to let go until I get the truth. Even if they get mad at me and strike back (with words only, none of my characters would hit me—if one ever did a dreadful painful death would await them.)

The Latest Comments

  • Elizabeth Langston: You’re right–and it is a powerful lingering impression as the last phrase....
  • Darynda Jones: I like what you did here, Beth. I also like the first one. I like the line “determined to...
  • Elizabeth Langston: So I said to lead with city-keeper, and I didn’t do that. Let me take another stab....
  • Darynda Jones: Great pitch, Jenn! I love what you did with it, Beth. This stuff is so hard. LOL
  • Elizabeth Langston: I think this pitch is in good shape. But if I could try anything, I’d want to lead with the...