Thursday, May 20, 2010


"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead - and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." Thornton Wilder

After my mother passed away in 2008, we began the long process of sorting through the many things she had saved in her 84 years on this earth. We were anxious to find "the story of her life." For years, she'd talked about the family history she was working on. It would include stories about her life and those of our ancestors.

We searched every nook and cranny. Finally we located the large leather-bound journal that we'd given her years ago to record the stories of her life. Holding my breath, I carefully opened the book... It was blank - not a word! What had happened to all the stories she told us over the years? There was nothing left, nobody to ask anymore...

While we found detailed geneological records (Thanks, Mother!)- names, birth,and death dates going back several hundered years - the stories were gone.

This was a wake-up call for me, hopefully for all of us. How many of you plan to write your life - someday? Sometimes it's too late by the time we get around to it. Important pieces of our lives disappear into misty memories that change over time.

I decided to complete my mother's final goal in life - writing our family history. Of course, there will be missing pieces. The stories will be told from my point of view. It will be MY story, my legacy for my children, grandchildren, and on down the family tree.

I encourage you to write the story of your life. I am fortunate to have thousands of pages of my old journals to jog my memory as I write.You may have old letters, old photos, and other mementos to jog your memory. If not, there are some great resources out there to help you recall childhood memories and family stories:

"Writing Your Life, Putting your Past on Paper" by Lou Willett Stanek

"My Life, A Collection of Memories" by Alison Bing (includes thousands of memory-jogging questions - and space for you to write your answers, to write your life)

Stay tuned - and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Writer's Journey...

It can be a lonely life at times...sitting here staring at my computer, waiting for the words to magically flow onto the blank screen. Maybe it's time to check my email again...or even harvest my farm on Farmville! Nobody else will ever know, right?

I do cherish the solitude here on my lake in the northwoods of Wisconsin. I thrive on having time to think, write, and read - and the ability to set my own schedule. However, it takes discipline to write. It's easy to get distracted... as a black bear casually saunters across my deck. Seriously, that's exactly what happened today. In fact, two cubs tumbled playfully behind Mama Bear. So much for my walk today. I don't like to encounter bears on my treks through the woods. They tend to be a tad ornery and defensive when their offspring are scampering about.

So, I'm back at my computer, finally at work. Tomorrow I will attend my St. Croix Writers group meeting in Solon Springs. I've found that writers need connections with other writers. We share our works in progress, our accomplishments, and our rejection letters! We support each other and offer feedback. Writing groups can be a wonderful way to connect with other writers who have similar interests.

Writing is a journey of lifelong learning, and there are so many resources out there for us. I highly recommend writers conferences. I just returned from the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association( conference in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I came home inspired and refreshed after networking with other writers and listening to excellent speakers.

Writers read! We read books in our own genres or areas of interest, but we also read books and magazines to help us improve our craft. Some of my favorite magazines include The Writer, Writer's Digest, and Poets & Writers.

There are also many excellent books on the art of writing. One of my all-time favorites is "The Writer's Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers" by Christopher Vogler. Based upon the depth psychology of Carl G. Jung and the mythic studies of Joseph Campbell, this book provides guidelines for structuring plots and creating realistic characters. Whether you are writing movie scripts or novels, it is important to understand that "all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams and movies. These ancient tools of the storyteller's craft still have tremendous power to heal our people and make the world a better place." (Christopher Vogler)

Stay tuned, and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And the winners are...

I'm pleased to announce the winners of my book promotion contest! They are:

Joanne Weister of Washburn, Wisconsin - $100 gift certificate to The Thunderbird Lodge, Rainy Lake, MN (

Penny Thompson of Albert Lea, Minnesota - $100 gift certificate to Kettle Falls Hotel, Rainy Lake, MN (

David Lawrence of Greenville, Alabama - $50 gift certificate for a cruise on Rainy Lake with Voyageur's National Park Service (

Michelle Dry of Cordova, Tennessee - autographed copy of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky

Theresa Hawn of Seeley Lake, Montana - $25 gift certificate to The Grizzly Claw Trading Post in Seeley Lake

Most of my prizes relate to Rainy Lake. This is where my novel is set, a place that I fell in love with while doing my research there.

Congratulations to you all, and thanks to all who submitted entries. I found that this contest was also a great way to drive traffic to my website ( I highly recommend this to other writers. Another tip for anyone sponsoring a contest - enter your contest at You will find that the hits on your website will increase greatly.

I had so much fun with this contest that I've decided to start another one. Prizes in my new contest include:

An autographed copy of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, to be awarded each month

$100 gift certificate to The Lakeview, A Summer Residence on Rainy Lake. Prize to be awarded May 1, 2011

$25 gift certificate to Ronnings ( in International Falls, MN (the place for Northwoods books, moccasins, wild rice, Hudson Bay blankets, etc. Check out their wild rice recipes on line)Prize to be awarded May 1, 2011

$25 gift certificate to Grandma's Pantry restaurant in Ranier, MN. Prize to be awarded May 1, 2011 sure to sign up for my NEW contest at Good luck!