A Trip to Baltimore, and Wayne Dyer, my Dalai Lama

It has been a remarkable two years, almost to the day when sitting at my computer, the title of my book come effortlessly into my head.  It was simple and plain.  No one would not get what this book was about.  And, that it could be of help to others was the momentum that kept me going.  Yesterday morning, June 22, 2014, at about 7:50, although it was an hour before the Hay House event would begin, there was a substantial crowd of well wishers waiting for a signed copy.  I didn’t stop signing until 9am, when literally the last copy was handed over.  The people I spoke to were lovely: men and women who either journaled in the past and for some reason stopped, another who never journaled before but had been encouraged from the day before’s lectures, from others was ready to try it;  on line was a mom to be, who I insisted she write about the birth of her baby and of being a new mom, either for the first time, or for the second time around.  The hour passed as if it were 60 seconds rather than 60 minutes, and to know that all those copies of the book are now out in the world, well there isn’t much better’n than that.


There was some  serendipity going on this weekend, and one that I will share now, as its memory just rises to the top.

Upon checking into the Marriott at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, I heard some talk that Wayne Dyer had just come into the lobby and had just gone up on the elevator.  Now, Wayne Dyer, for me is like my Dalai Lama.  He is full of wisdom, has a gift of teaching that has mesmerized millions, and he carries himself like I would think the Dalai Lama would.  I was disappointed that I had missed this opportunity to shake his hand and say a few words.  When I got to my room, I noticed that I left my cooler with water bottles in the car and went right back to get them.  As I exited the lobby, heading to the garage, who do I spot right outside the hotel doors, posing for a picture was, lo and behold, my Dalai Lama.  I headed right towards the group, waited for their time with him to be over, and as he turned to walk away, I called his name.  He came towards me with a smile, and I gushed about reading his books, listening to his tapes, I blurted out that I was here to sign my book about journalling.  He told me that journalling was instrumental during his divorce, and that it got him through.  He asked me t he name of the book, and for my name, twice.  And I knew that was all I needed.  I wished him a good day.  He said “God bless,” and I returned the sentiment.  I thought, how amazing was that..just five minutes before, he was heading up the elevator, and in the time it took me to realize that I had to go back to get my bag (maybe two minutes), he was back downstairs.  That amount of time would not have let him do very much, except retrieve his hat?  But one can’t look too deeply into these kinds of incidents.  Just accept them and be grateful.

The weekend was filled with other memorable, serendipitous events.  One thing I will say, Baltimore has one kicking waterfront with a hopping crowd, free entertainment in the form of either “people watching,” or listening to the a capella groups that set up speakers and perform, or a magician doing some mad crazy stunt.  A great weekend all around.  More stories to come.

On the book tour!

I enjoyed a visit to Ye Olde Book Shoppe in Ye Olde Warwick, NY the other night.   Owner, Tom had generously purchased a few books which I signed for future sales, and enjoyed a chat with the Warwick Valley Dispatch reporter, Lon Tytell who came to do a write up.  The book store not only has one of the best spots on Main Street (right at the corner of a busy shopping district), but also have a warm and cozy feeling inside.  Book shelves are conveniently on wheels for easy manuevering for events, and like magic, folding chairs appear, and the audience can total 15-20 easily.  There is a platform for the author, adjacent to the front window, which kind of makes one feel like they are on display, like Macy’s Christmas windows, but hey, to promote a new book, that works for me.

The night was a success in my eyes despite the fact that no one came.  Let me hear just one “Aw,” and get it out of your system.  It was, nonetheless, a wonderful night to rehearse in my head my little talk, prepare door prize slips, and a sheet to collect emails.  I mean, it could have been SRO, or it could’ve been NAW (no attendance whatsoever).  I got to enjoy the book store ambiance and have a great chat with Lon who interviewed me for his story that will still run.  I did a bit of shopping, looked at other local author books, and by the time I was ready to pack it up, my alloted time was coming to an end.

mj with Lon from Warwick Valley Dispatch


I took the opportunity to have my photo taken with Lon, the reporter, and make a date to come back to the book store once my appearance on Radio Station WTBQ is rescheduled.

Anytime I get to sit in a book store, chat with a fellow journalist, get our photos together, and people watch, is still a great night in my book.


The Easter Bunny Is Introduced to the Journal Writing Practice

So, there I was, talking to the Easter Bunny this morning at an egg hunt at Stewart Airport.   We shared stories of journalling, and EB (as I call it…him?  her?), mentioned that it was difficult to write since most bunnies don’t come with thumbs, a most helpful digit to maneuver the pen.  I did give EB permission to use the computer, although I truly believe that pen on paper is pure journalling.  But, hey, whatever works!

easter bunny



Journalling to de-stress

I presented my first official journalling workshop to a group of enthusiastic writers of all levels the other night.  And, what a great time we had.  I think journalling is more popular than people think, but it’s one of those quiet activities, maybe folks don’t always like to talk about it. But this group didn’t need much prompting to get a few journalling exercises in.

The evening was a milestone for me.  It was the first of what I hope will be many such workshops, given to writers around the county, the state, country, and globe.  It is probably a universal need to get out some of our feelings in a safe and healthy way.  Sometimes just journalling about a stressful event takes the teeth out of it.  Maybe we can take a step back and see it in a different light, and then release it.  Since my motto is, “what happens at a journalling/creative writing workshop, stays in the workshop,” so I would never divulge more than just the briefest of details.  But, I will say that it was successful, and I believe that everyone left with one helpful take-away.  Our ending ceremony is a classic.

Each time I present a workshop, it will get better and better and I know that attendees will leave feeling a bit better than they did walking in.  Maybe it’s the writing, maybe the camaraderie, or maybe knowing that we are all working hard at living the best life we can.

With that said, I’ve been a busy author/promoter since the book signing last week, and am very excited about a visit to the WTBQ Radio station later this month to discuss the book and how it got published, AND a just scheduled journalling workshop at Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe on Main Street on May 16, from 6 – 8pm.  (BTW..please support our local book stores!)

In the meantime, if anyone knows of any teens out there who journal and would like to share their story, I’m starting to collect quotes for the next book: How writing can get teens through tough times: no experience necessary.  Drop me a line, or let them know about my project.

Here are pix from the recent book signing.  Thank you all who took time out their busy day to drop in!


mj MJ Goff signing with good friends, Vickie Foley (l) and Caryl Duffy (r) MJ Goff with BumbleFly Cafe owner, Christina DerOhannesian, and her daugther MJ Goff with Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus; book author, Tom Mattingly; and Christine DerOhannesian, owner of BumbleFly Cafe alicia and patty

“We’re good to go.”

Those are probably the best words a book author can say. Four simple words.  What it meant was that I was signing off on my book and cover art,.  That I’d reviewed it carefully, and it has been completed to satisfaction; all errors have been corrected, colors have been tweaked, fonts have been changed.  At some point, one has to say “we’re good to go.”  And that is what I did tonight. It’s in the capable of hands of Balboa Press, a division of Hay House…the self-help giant in the publishing world.

It’s a great feeling.

I remember when I first had the idea.  It was a hot July afternoon and I was sitting at my computer wondering what my next book would be.   Of course something fictional, that’s what most writers write, and I always have a few story outlines in my head.  Would it be about vampires?  Or the paranormal?  Would it be a comedy? Or something sentimental?   All these questions were like paths before me, and I was stalling at this main intersection.  And then, I can’t figure out why, but the idea of completely changing course came to me.  Since I wasn’t able to decide, that’s when I figure it’s time to choose something else.  During this time, it seemed that everywhere I looked, the word “journal” appeared.  I was on a diet plan and told to journal, my daughter was on an exercise plan and was told to journal her progress, a show I was watching handed the main character a journal, and a story I was writing for a magazine included the suggestion to journal.

I don’t need to get hit in the head with a brick to get it.  brick

The path was clear, the title came to me in a flash, and I began to get to work.  The rest of the book was completed within about six months, but the next year and half was just my procrastination about the book’s worth…would it be of any help?  How would I create a book that was part inspiration?  Part journal?   And then, out of the blue, an email from Balboa Press asking if I was in need of a book publisher.  The rest is history.

So, what’s next you ask?

Actually, it’s where the real work begins.  Selling the book, selling the notion of journalling, and travelling the world.  Well, maybe it’s not ALL work!  globe

The book should be available in late March.  I will have some kind of book launch.  Stay tuned!

Thank you to all those who have kept with me on this journey.  I hope you will raise a glass with me.    dunkin




Coming this Spring! MJ’s book on journaling!

balboaWhen you spend Christmas Eve working on the dull loose ends of a book, you know that you’re committed. And, over the past two years, it has been uppermost on my mind to do. It’s one of those things that I thought, I don’t want to go to my grave without getting this done.

Even if it helps one person, it’d be magical.

The manuscript is into my printer, Balboa Press, a division of Hay House. But what’s absolutely thrilling is that it has been chosen as one of the featured new books at the Hay House world event in Baltimore this coming June.


Lots more will be announced about the book in the coming weeks, but I wanted to make sure to make the first announcement of this on my website. It’s been a long time coming (but at two years, not really). I plan to have local book signings, book discounts on my facebook page, workshops, and just lots of fun….I am going to take this ride as long as it lasts.

If you know someone who is struggling with something, and want to be their bestest friend, let them know about this book and the beautiful simplicity that is journalling.

P.S. My book has nothing to do with Brad Pitt, but he’s just nice to look at!

You know that phrase, “S#i$ or get off the pot”?

balboahay houseYes, I am using a bit of profanity here, but look how nicely I typed it! A little number sign here, and a dollar sign there, and the word is now acceptable. The reason I used such a title is to express my “it’s about time” emotion to say that I’ve signed on with Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, to help me publish the book I’ve been discussing, like, for eons and eons. It started as a little idea this exact time last year, actually. I was listening to a teleseminar by Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and he was talking about how we should write what we are an expert in. Now, there isn’t much out there that I can say I’m an expert in, but they say that if you’ve been doing something for at least twenty years, pretty steadily, and you still enjoy it, well then, maybe that’s something. For me, it was and will always be writing.


Plus, I started writing even longer than twenty years ago, for my own joy and therapy in the late 70’s, when I started going through what I call my “panic attack” phase. The journals I’d collected since then numbered in the thirties. Marble covered books, or spirals, the kind you get at the dollar store. They were simple, cheap, and didn’t shout “DIARY.” To anyone who spotted it, they probably thought it was an old school book. Pages and pages I’d write about whatever it was I was feeling, and I think the depths I descended to at that time probably helped as my writing career blossomed. I wanted to know the what’s, and the why’s and the when’s for everything.

When Jack said, “write what you feel you are an expert in,” I thought, I’m going to write a book about the joy of writing, but specifically about journal writing. The title came to me instantly, and from then on, the idea never left my mind. Over the next twelve months, I went to a writer’s conference to learn more about writing a successful book, took more seminars on making it a bestseller, learned how to create an ebook, and on and on. A year. And, after taking the time last May to complete it in a little cabin in the woods, I now know I have, have, have to get this finally down in published form.

Not only for me, and my desire to finally do it, but for the many who wrote to me with their own stories of journaling, and who write me still with their support. I also have to write it for those out there, maybe suffering through something, and have not really given journaling a try. All the many quotes and testimonials that have come my way will surely back up my claim, which is also the same title of the book which hasn’t changed since that July day back in 2012: “How writing can get you through tough times: no experience necessary.”

What I hope to do is write about my experiences from now until the book is in my hands. I just signed on with Balboa Press, was warmly welcomed into the Hay House family by Shelby, my rep for this great adventure. So, whether or not you’ve ever thought about writing a book and self-publishing it, or are interested to just watch from the sidelines, stay tuned! The fun is just beginning.

A writers’ cabin in the woods

I’m somewhere in Cornwall, looking out onto the woods, sitting at a desk with simplicity around me. A hotplate, dorm-size fridge, single bed, toilet, shelf, and plenty of outlets. I’ve been here since yesterday, late afternoon. Just me, the sounds of the birds, and something, not a woodpecker, knocking on something else at dawn. I’m writing a book about journal writing. I have all of the information in my laptop, I just needed a few days to compile it, create a few passages that fill the book out, add some further reading suggestions, and now have about 18,000 words written, either my words, or those from all the other journal writers around the world who graciously sent me their submissions.

2013-05-18 11.06.15

It’s not too late to get in what will be (because I’m a positive person), a wonderful encouragement to those who have never considered journaling for their own growth and healing, and peace of mind. That’s what it ultimately provides…better than a gallon of ice cream, or a pack of cigarettes (though as a former smoker, I can’t pooh-pooh the entire smoking experience), or overdoing it at the liquor cabinet.

If you’re reading this and have something to add, like your own journaling experience (and YES, I’m looking at you!) send it to me quick. I will get out to you a permission slip because that’s what I was told to do at a writer’s workshop. And I can only promise you a copy of the book when it’s done.

I do have to mention one thing. It’s very quiet here, blessingly quiet. For other’s this would be a nightmare, for me, it’s bliss. I know I’m in the right place because inside this remarkably well-equipped cabin is a book shelf. On top of the book shelf is a plain book. It almost looked designed like a classic from years ago, but it had no title, no author. I picked it up finally last night as I took a break from writing. And I got a chill down my back. It was a journal. From 1984. Of all those who wanted to put their stamp on their stay here in the isolated cabin in the woods. I doubt any of them were writers, per se, but they put a bit of their soul in these pages. Who came to find peace, who came as a regular break from their busy life in the city, who came to remember a loved one, who booked their stay on Labor Day of 2001, and arrived on 9/24. She wrote about her experiences being in the city, working on a high floor, being evacuated and the aftermath of that terrible day. I saw that the book was dedicated to a woman named Jane. I lost my mom, Jane, in 2011, and dreamed of us together last night, she and I sitting on a couch, I couldn’t tell where we were, but I woke up feeling that we’d been really together. If you also know the Long Island Medium (I LOVE HER!), she would say, “that was your mom’s soul reaching out to you.”

Anyways, I have to stand up, stretch, heat up my cup of tea and get back to work. Again, if you have something to submit, give me a shout at mjwrites@optonline.net.


About to enter the world of “The Shining”

Every writer who reads this is probably nodding his or her head. They know right where I am going with this. In my quest to write a book about writing, I am going to hole myself up in a cabin in the woods. Actually the woods in Cornwall where there is a lovely little writer’s retreat. A small bathroom, a view of trees and sky, I think some kind of fridge and cooking equipment, my laptop and me. (Hopefully a few outlets as well.) No wifi, but that’s okay. Everything I need is either in a word document, in a another book or two, or in my head.

The trip is going to happen in a few weeks, and I’m both terribly excited, but also a bit intimidated. It’s so easy to say the words, “I’m writing a book,” or “Coming in (insert month or season) is MJ’s new book!” It’s easy to collect information for the book, contemplate what it may look like, or how it would be priced, and the fun of a book signing when it’s completed. The hard part, the truly hard part, is in between, when I turn on the laptop and actually get started. I have a few drafts of the opening chapters, a tentative table of contents, a thought or two of the acknowledgement section, and what I might like on the cover. I met with a very nice local publishing expert in the winter, and actually said I’d have the manuscript by mid-April. HA!

I sometimes wonder if there is a career in “talking about writing a book.” If so, then I have that one down pat. I could do the book club circuit and talk about the book, go to Barnes & Noble and scout out a shelf spot for it under “local voices.” I could create cover after cover, and even start planning the sequel – all without having anything actually published. Oh, but the fun I will have.

As I prepare for my “Shining” experience (thank goodness there is no snow predicted!), I will keep updating this Joyful Writing blog. I will need to need help keeping scary thoughts at bay, reminders to not bring too much chocolate, suggestions on the right kind of 24/7 pajamas to pack, and a survey on whether or not I should bring a toothbrush. I’ll ask if anyone has any thoughts on a writing schedule, like, write for two hours and then go look for frogs, or write for three hours and then collect any inside spiders and shoo them outside. Here’s a good one: write for one hour and then watch a Brad Pitt movie.

I think just thinking about writing in a cabin in the woods is a lot of fun, too!

I’ve been remiss, but I’m still here.

I have never left joyfulwriting.com, although I’ve been on the quiet side. I’ve been just writing a lot of stories for other publications, and when I get home from interviewing, or researching, I then have to write the stories. When it comes to my own writing, it takes a back seat. Or, I’m just out of words, and can’t think of a sentence worthy of a blog. But, I’ve still been working behind the curtain, so to speak, on my printed, soon-to-be-published book, “How writing can get you through tough times: no experience necessary.” blog post

The one stumbling block has been figuring out how it will get published, i.e., self-published, find a print on demand guy, continue to search for a publisher, figuring out how much $$$ I can put into it, and on and on. Do I go with CreateSpace, or AuthorHouse, or make the hard copy version? It’s enough to just make you stand still and just put your index finger to your lips and wave it up and down like a cartoon character, or Lewis Black. Take your pick. authorhouse

But, all along I’ve been encouraged by the folks who have used writing as therapy, for whatever ailed them at the time. A health crisis, a sick relative, bad memories, addictions, stress, what have you. And, this one big boost has me all tingly.

I’d signed up to take the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation challenge where every morning a cheery note from him and Oprah comes into my email. First, Oprah introduces us to the meditation for the day, and then Deepak takes us through a wonderful 15 minute meditation that never fails to release stress and get me ready for the day. deepak

On the website page where you click “play” for the meditation, there is a column for comments, and they are activated by your facebook account. There are thousands of comments on this thing. So, I log in and write a message: If anyone uses journalling as a way to help them through a life challenge, write me,” and I listed my email. And, every day, I’ve had one or two emails. One more thing: I wrote to two online journal websites, the kind that promotes writing in a journal, and I asked the founder to put the same query to their membership. Lo and behold, another bunch of emails coming in, all proving to me that my book is something that is generating a spark in people, and that despite my other writing, and my mind’s weariness, I have a mission to get this project completed.

Please be patient!

Have a great day.