Journal according to John -Author Interview – Sheryl Keen

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journal according to johnPaperback Writer is pleased to announce our author for today Sheryl Keen, author of the self-discovery spiritual novel, Journal According to John (iUniverse, November 2008), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in July on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!


Following a nasty bar brawl, John, a twenty-eight-year-old man, follows a close friend’s advice and begins keeping a journal. He’s recently divorced from his wife, Debbie, and he hopes the journal will provide a tool with which to make sense of his brief, failed marriage and to determine why he is so emotionally challenged.

As a therapist specializing in behavioral issues, he knows he has to pull his own life together. If he tells people to clean up their own lives, modify their thoughts, and learn new, more appropriate behaviors, he knows that he’s got to step up and follow his own advice. Early on, he realizes that his mother, the curator of a gallery that specializes in steel art and other nontraditional works, has largely shaped his thoughts and actions. But just how much can he blame her for his current state of affairs?

Soon the words in the journal are flowing easily and quickly. When painful thoughts are no longer avoided and dreams provide fuel for his writing, the journal takes on a life of its own. Will John discover the reasons for his dysfunctional situation? Can keeping a journal help him improve his life?

Book Excerpt:

I am making my second entry in this journal. I’ve taken up this activity on the advice of Maya, my cousin and friend who thinks it will be good for me. I strove hard against the idea of catharsis and all that business of cleansing because I don’t know what good having my problems written down in hard black and white will do. If anything, this constant writing must be a continuous reminder of the kind of life I have cultivated. I also don’t know many men who write in journals, and I don’t want to be a pioneer this way. But sometimes friends win, with their constant and insistent badgering, as only they can. Maya could influence cow to buy milk; her powers of persuasion are limitless. At a time when my marriage has dissolved like Andrews Salts in water, dissolving yet fizzing all over the place, the last thing I want to be committed to is making journal entries, especially about issues that are dark and troublesome, issues I placed at the back of my mind long ago, yet which have shaped this shell of a thing I’ve called my life.


Hi Sheryl,


Welcome to Paperback Writer



Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?  


A: I really just wanted to write a compelling, emotional story from a male perspective and I wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t necessarily male. So I came up with actual journal entries to tell a story about a divorced man who is using his journal as a tool to make sense of his failed marriage and his life.


These journal entries are interesting because they provide a subjective point of view but they also lend themselves to intimacy between the main character and the readers. The readers get to look directly into John’s journal. Also, the main character is trying to find his masculinity, so the journal entries are in direct opposition to this quest.


Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?


A: I usually have a barebones outline with characters, themes and some possible chapters. As I write, the story will flesh itself out. The interesting thing about an outline is that the story never conforms to it.


Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?


A: I usually have a vague idea of how I want a story to end but by the time I get to that I usually have two or three ways in which the story can end. This is where I obsess over which ending to use. In the end, I try to use the most realistic one.


Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?


A: I usually know who the main characters are before I start the writing process. In many instances, they will come to me even before I start to actively think about them. I will spend time making a character sketch of each by writing down their traits, likes, dislikes and their motivation etc. before I start a story. Of course as I write, more of their character is revealed to me. Sometimes the revelations are surprising.


Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?


A: I do think that the statement is true. I don’t necessarily give my traits to a character although that can happen. What I find is that I’ll give characters traits that I want to have like making someone bold and fearless because that’s how I’d like to be. So, in a sense they are like my alto ego.


Q: What is your most favorite part about this book?


A: My favorite part about this book was writing from the perspective of an introspective male.


Q: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?


A: I started to look for a publisher when I finished the entire manuscript.


Q: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?


A: Well, like most other writers I have experienced rejection. But I have used that as motivation to get published and to be a successful writer.


Q: What has been the best part about being published?


A: The best part about being published is hearing what readers think of my work. They have told me that it is good and that they find the story relatable. There is no better compliment.


Q: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?


A: “Journal According to John” is a novel about introspection. What I would want readers to remember is that we are responsible for our actions and thoughts regardless of the things that others may have done to us. Also, I hope that readers will see in the novel that holding on to past hurts can be detrimental to the quality of life of their lives.


Q: Do you have plans to write another book?


A: I am working on two manuscripts right now and I am hopeful that one of them will be finished and edited by the end of fall.


Q: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?


A: So far it has been very good. Dorothy and Tracee have been extremely helpful in getting me and my book out there in front of the public eye.


Q: Where can readers find a copy of your book?


A:, Barnes&Noble, Books-a-million, Target, etc. “Journal According to John” can be found anywhere that books are sold.


Q: Do you have a website for readers to go to?




Thank you, Sheryl A. Keen for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have a successful virtual book tour.


JOURNAL ACCORDING TO JOHN VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ’09  officially began on July 6 and end on July 31. You can visit Sheryl’s blog stops at in July to find out more about this great book and talented author!

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