Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Treasures from the Past

Christine Johnson here to talk about journaling in the midst of a busy month. I have one Love Inspired Historical out and another due to my editor in a couple weeks. It's good to take a break with all of you today. Grab a cup of coffee, and let's settle in for a chat.
Readers often ask me why I chose to write in the post-WWI era. I love how that time had one foot in the horse-and-buggy era and one foot in the modern age of the automobile and airplane. It's also a fabulous period to research since many resources from that time are still available in print or online. As someone who used to write medieval romance, I truly appreciate that!
I'm also blessed that my grandparents grew up in the 1920s and left behind stories and journals of their experiences. My grandmother wrote about her excitement going from the farm to the big city for the first time. Her observations came in handy in All Roads Lead Home, my new release, when small-town girl Anna Simmons makes her first trip to Chicago.
Likewise, my grandfather drove across the country in the 1920s. Though his "journal" wasn't nearly as detailed as my grandmother's, he noted every breakdown - and there were many - as well as how much he spent on every little item. What a great resource for this month's book where Mariah Meeks decides to drive to Montana to rescue an orphan. My grandfather was a mechanic. Mariah is not. That means she needs to find a mechanic to go along. The only one willing is the man she jilted two years before. Add in his little sister, and it's bound to be a pretty rocky two thousand miles.
What a treasure my grandparents left for me! I've tried my hand at a lot of different journals, from travel to daily to devotional, though I'm not yet sure I want the next generation to read my meandering and often immature musings. I suspect they're not much different from prior generations. I could relate to my grandmother's feelings when she saw skyscrapers for the first time or worried over which gentleman would call on her. Some things stay very much the same.
Let's chat about journals and other memory-keepers like photographs. Did anyone in your family leave such treasures behind? If so, which do you value most and from what era? Do you keep a journal? Do you ever wonder if anyone will read it years from now?
Many blessings,
All Roads Lead Home
Love Inspired Historical, January 2012


  1. love the look of your new book. (which state is it in most? this is an important question for someone trying to read a book from all 50 states), i am not a journaller. Cant journal to save myself!. Although I have done some scrapbooking with info in there. I have some of mums photos but we dont have much info which is sad even worse with dads photos. being I am single I am not sure who will appreciate some of the photos but hopefully the nieces may. The cricket ones I hope they do if not I hope a Cricket museum may appreciate a cricket fans memories.

  2. Hi Ausjenny! All Roads Lead Home touches on Michigan, Illinois, and South Dakota but most of the action takes place in Montana.

    Scrapbooks are great! I've done a few of those and love going back to relive the events. My brother, sister and I also put together a scrapbook for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I could tell that meant a lot to them, and your scrapbooks and photos will mean a lot to your nieces. I have letters and photos from distant relations that I treasure just as much as the ones from my grandparents. After going through old photographs, I did learn to note who, where and when on all my photos. We couldn't identify who was in some of those old photos.

    It sounds like you're a huge cricket fan! How wonderful if your memories could be shared through a museum.

  3. I've noticed that a lot of historicals are set in this era lately. And it is an interesting time. I think if I lived back then I'd be the one with both feet in the horse and buggy and naysaying those confounded new-fangled contraptions like automobiles and airplanes! LOL. I'm the one who still clings to the bound volume versus an e-book and doesn't own a cell-phone or a Facebook account! It's obvious that no matter what era I live in I'll cling to the past before I'll embrace the future!

    I have amazing photographs of some rather grim-faced ancestors but no journals to reveal why they were so glum. I used to make up terribly tragic stories about them when I was a kid. I'm envious of your grandparent's journals. What a treasure!

  4. Christine, what a great resource you have in that journal! So far I'm not aware of any family journals, but I do enjoy looking at old photographs. I'm not good at journaling. I feel kinda silly doing it. Kav, I'm like you in that it takes me a while to warm up to change. I still have only regular books, no e-readers yet.

  5. Kav, I read somewhere that the early photographs took a long time to shoot, and the people being photographed had to sit absolutely still for the entire time. That's why they always look so solemn. Try holding a smile for fifteen minutes!

    Like you, I prefer a printed book. I love the smell and the feel of the cover and the paper on my fingertips. An ereader just doesn't give the same multi-sensory experience.

  6. Hi Karen! I must confess that I'm not much of a journaler these days. I still keep a travel journal, but the daily journals are a thing of the past. Hmm, wonder if it's age or just that I spend so much time writing all day I'm anxious for some other experiences in my off time?

  7. I just read my uncles battle diary yesterday before putting it in our safety deposit box for safe-keeping. He died in WWII in the Pacific.

    I have my Granddad's accounting of when God came to him after my uncle died and offered him comfort.

    I have my dad's memoirs I helped him edit.

    Finished your book and really enjoyed it. I don't want to reveal any spoilers but you really got me with the ending. Thanks for the different twist!

    Peace, Julie

  8. Hey Christine,
    Loved the book, by the way. All Roads Lead Home is a very exciting read!!
    Unfortunately no one in my family has left any journals behind. But my dad has drawings from when he was a young college student hoping to become a cartoonist. He went into sales after my sister was born, but he used his drawing talents to entertain us kids.

    My husband, however, keeps good records of our life - both in photo and story form. He's a riot when it comes to telling stories on and off paper - whether it's tales from his childhood or our last vacation.

  9. Hi Julie! Great to see you here, and thanks for not giving any spoilers! What a wonderful gift to have your uncle's diary, your granddad's account, and your father's memoirs. Priceless! Just reading your comment choked me up.

    Jenna! Thanks for stopping by! Future generations will love the memories your husband has left for them.

  10. Sadly, neither my parents nor my grandparents left behind diaries or journals.I have a sermon that my dad wrote, and my aunt gave me a family history written by her late husband. It tells about growing up on the South Dakota prairie during the depression.

  11. Hi Merrillee! That family history is a great resource, especially growing up during the Depression. It must be fascinating reading.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I'm so glad your grandparents left journals. All the stories my grandmother told me are in my head and I know I've lost some. I wish I would have asked her to write them down when I was younger, but alas it wasn't as important to me then as it is now. She passed away several years ago, but we lost her before due to dementia. Enjoy those journals and keep them safe for your children and theirs. That world back then just doesn't really exist anymore.

  13. Would love to read your new book! Loved The Matrimony Plan.

    I do have a journal (although it covers a short period of time) of my (deceased) Mom's.......I really cherish it!! Daugher just put Mom's SLIDES onto computer and gave me thumb print to put on mine. We have had so much fun looking at them! Never thought about no smiles in older pictures due to taking long time to "shoot"!!!

  14. Hi Christine! I absolutely LOVED this book! You did a superb job with the way Mariah and Hendrick play off each other. Kept me smiling all the way through! As for journals, no one in my family kept (or keeps one), but I certainly love looking at all the old family photographs. And while I’m happy to live in the new-fangled world of digital technology, I must admit there are times that I wish we still did things the ‘old-fashioned’ way … at least the way we shared the memories, flipping through the albums together, laughing and chatting and saying “remember when?”


  15. Hi Kim! We really don't think about getting the stories down while we can. That's true for me too. I'm blessed by the work of other farsighted relatives.

    Jackie S - So glad you liked The Matrimony Plan! Isn't it fun seeing the old slides again? About a year ago I saw some of my grandpa's slides from many years ago and was struck by how young my parents were when they were raising me, LOL. At the time, of course, I thought they were quite "mature."

  16. Hi Kathy! Ah, we still need to flip through the albums. I love doing that, and - surprise - even the kids with their electronic gadgets like the old photos. Maybe it's the stories that inevitably surface.

  17. I wish I had my parents journals. I use to journal when I had time. My very first book came about because I accidentally turned my journal in to the public library. And, it was after I broke up with a boyfriend (okay, he broke up with me).No way did I want anyone reading that angst.

  18. Oh Pamela! I feel your pain. Of course that's a great plot for a book. My teenaged and college-aged journals are filled with just that sort of angst, which is why I'm not so sure I want future generations to read them. They'll think I was a total emotional wreck, LOL. I'm sure your book touched feelings we all have in common. Great way to turn real life into art.


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