The Writer’s Life – Blog Tour

Judy - birthday - flowers - at home - Nov. 2013

By Judy Berman

In a police lineup, my neighbors would be hard-pressed to identify me. Fresh air and natural light are foreign to me.

That’s what the writing life feels like to me at times. I retreat to our small office, do some research for some of the posts on my blog and I search for photos to go with the story.

It’s not glamorous. But it’s hardly like J.K. Rowling, who took her baby in a pram to a coffee shop so they’d be in a warm place while she wrote her first Harry Potter book.

What’s appealing is that I get to create, to do what I love: write. Until 2011, my personal writing was confined to about a dozen journals. Then, I began blogging. I enjoy the feedback and writing to other bloggers.

Fellow blogger Marian Beaman  invited me to take part in a Blog Tour. It’s a great way to introduce some writers and to learn what motivates them. Plus, I get to share my own writing experiences.

As a memoirist, Marian Beaman tends to weave the literary with the familiar from growing up as a Mennonite girl on farm country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to her move south where she was a teacher in Jacksonville, Florida.  Her writing includes “It’s Not Easy Being Green, WalMart and Me,” which recounts her neighborhood struggle to keep large live oaks and tall pines from biting the dust.

1. What am I working on now?

Right now, I’m doing some historical research for a future post. I’ve already visited the location, taken photos, and gathered some historical documents and photos. While I love writing humor, stories about history excite me because I always learn something new.

Crime Scene tape - Do Not Cross

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My blog is a Personal Blog. timethief of One Cool Site says that: “Each blogger has a unique personality; each has a unique writer’s voice.”

In April, I wrote to her about her post on blogging tips. I wasn’t sure what drew readers to my blog. Timethief said I was “a skilled and engaging storyteller and the brand you are creating is based on that and your experience as a teacher and reporter.”

While I might not know what to expect when I open a vein to write, timethief says she does: “it’s a well told story.” I thank her for that compliment, support and advice.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love to tell stories, something I learned at my Mom’s and Dad’s knees. Depending on the day, I might be writing about my family, my experiences as a reporter or as a teacher, or my interests in travel, reading, movies and music.

4. How does my writing process work?

I aim for the unusual, and for folks without filters. Then, I scribble shorthand notes on small yellow legal pads, trying to frame the story. What are the smells? The sounds? The ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe’ moments? I want to place the reader where I was so that they can experience that time as well. If none of that exists, I weep gently into my computer … and create.

Like Marian, I will tag two unsuspecting blogger friends, Mark Bialczak of  and Kate Crimmins of Views and Mews by Coffee Kat at

Mark Bialczak, a veteran journalist, lives in the Syracuse area. In early 2013, he was set free to write about whatever he wants. He has numerous blog awards for stories about his family, their beloved rescue dog, Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle, and for his music and movie reviews. In his film blog, he wrote of the connection to the song, “Bonjour, Bonjour,” in the movie  “A Fault in Our Stars,” and the city he loves and writes about: Syracuse.

Kate Crimmins shares her experiences as a former human relations executive and as a non-furry parent to her kitties: Hazel, Morgan, Mollie and Jake. Her stories about the trials and tribulations of trying to get them to use a cat tower make me laugh. As do her efforts to get her husband to accompany her to the mall. Kate has numerous blog awards.  Her humorous observations at the gym and elsewhere draw me in time and again and leave me chuckling.

OK, Mark and Kate. “Tag. You’re it.”

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo: Judy – A rare photo of me outside taking a break from my computer

Photo: Crime Scene Tape

  1. Thanks for the honor! I have been following your blog for a long time and I enjoy your reporter’s perspective. You have a great variety (will it be a travel story? or maybe a novelette? or about the family? or a teacher story?) so I never know what I will find when I click on your post. Note to Judy: Jake was offended that he was mentioned last. After all he is the eldest. What can I say? The cats have a mind of their own.

    1. Tell Jake that I saved the best for last. 😉 He knows who’s the boss at home.

      Kate, I’ve enjoyed your stories for several years and can’t wait to read your post about the writing life. You, too, have a variety of stories to tell: your experiences in human relations, in sharing your domain with your creative kitties, and in your humorous observations when you’re out and about. 😉

  2. nice to learn more about you judy, i write because i love to tell stories too, combing the visual with the written word. good to know you won’t be identified in a police lineup, a bonus of being a writer ) beth

    1. I do enjoy your posts, Beth. I think the visual helps draw in readers to a story. I spend a lot of time trying to find the right one to go with my post.

      Well, the lack of recognition is helped by my wearing sunglasses and a trench coat (think: Peter Falk in ‘Columbo’) whenever I leave the house. Yes, even in 90-plus degree heat in Florida. 😉

  3. It was interesting reading about your writing process, Judy. I took notice of your legal pad scribbling. :)Your patio (?) looks very calm and inviting.

    1. Merril … From your blog, I see that we share some of same writing traits: scribbling on legal pads, sticky notes and the backs of envelopes. In a pinch, I also write on grocery and store receipts. 😉 (I think I got the legal pad fever after reading about John Grisham penning his novels during court breaks.)

      The patio is a wonderful place to escape to. It has a view of a “lake” (retention pond) and many different kinds of birds. It is very calming and I should go out there more often. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      1. Your patio sounds even more enchanting than I imagined!

        I love office supplies–and I know it’s something I share with my daughters and several of my friends.

  4. I’m excited to hear what Kate has to say! As for time thief, my blog is that, but what it gives back is so worth it!

    1. Rumpydog … Your blog is a wonderful mixture of stories about your nonfurry companion, Jen, and furry siblings … and of your advocacy for all animals. Thank you for all that you do. 😉

      I’m also eagerly waiting to see what Kate is going to write. 😉

  5. Thank you for giving us a look inside your ears, Judy, to see why these great stories come out the way they do!

    And, thank you for the tap on the shoulder to make me “it” on this tour. I will fashion my answers, tag two more writers, link back to you, and put this all on, sometime this week.

    You are the best, Judy Berman.

    1. I’m betting that’s a pretty twisted trail you followed to get inside my head. 😉

      I’m delighted that you and Kate Crimmins accepted the challenge and I can’t wait to read your responses.

      Mark, your versatility continues to amaze me. I know that whatever you write – about the community in and around Syracuse, your family, your dog, music or movies (or food). – that I’ll always be delighted. 😉

    1. Glad you liked this post, Ronnie. I can’t really say the place I write lends to the creativity … But the ideas usually percolate near the office and are shaped in the office where the computer is. 😉

  6. HI Judy,
    I knew you were going to quote me and I’m happy you did because I meant what I said. Personal blogs are the crème de la crème when it comes to outlets for self expression because they tell our stories. As well as being an excellent writer, you have the storyteller’s gift, and I enjoy not knowing what story you will share next. Blog on!

    1. Your comments are music to my ears, timethief. I’m walking around with a H-U-G-E smile on my face as a result. 😉

      To tell the truth, I often don’t know what I’m going to post next. 😉

      1. What say you? You mean you don’t have a raft of drafts on backburner? Oh no! 😉

        note from earthrider to timethief:
        Some weeks I do have a stockpile of stories. Others, I’m scrambling at the last minute. Now, the truth is out there. 😉

    1. I think each of us has our own way of developing the creative process. Sometimes the ideas just flow, and others have to be yanked kicking and screaming to the surface before we can get them down on the page. Thank you for your comments, Jenny. 😉

  7. One of the interesting things about blogging is how certain people attract each other, which ones stick, and which ones don’t. It’s like this small, evolving universe. Yours, not surprisingly, has storytelling and well-crafted writing at its core.

    1. Thank you, Charles, for being there from the beginning. Your positive comments and support have kept me going. I have been attracted to your stories because of the unexpected twists, the narratives packed with delightful surprises, the nostalgia of your growing up years and your humor. 😉

  8. That is a lovely and informal shot, perhaps you should get out more often 🙂
    Enjoyed reading about your creative process Judy. I always find your variety of subjects and your straightforward narrative refreshing.

    1. I think you’re right, Madhu. I should get out more. That shot was taken on my birthday last year. Thank you for your compliments. I love the photos and stories of your exotic trips. They always leave me wishing I could tag along. 😉

  9. It’s nice to see you taking a break from your computer Judy! 🙂 I know the feeling of fresh air and natural light being foreign, it’s a common problem for a lot people today. Computers and the internet are not very compatible with outdoors! Fascinating as it all is I do wonder if it’s slowly eroding health and fitness though, I guess time will tell if that’s true. I saw an animated gif of Homer Simpson at his ideal exercise desk, you might like this one! 🙂

    It is interesting reading so many different blogs, and they are all so different. A fresh personality behind each one makes them all the more interesting to me. And communicating to others makes it far more interesting than just creating a journal for yourself. And I love your stories about your life Judy, they are always well written and really invite the reader on your trip with you! I find I’ve learnt so much reading blogs, it’s always a great eduction in what’s going on in the world of ordinary people.

    I’m not entirely sure what a blog tour is, I keep seeing bloggers mention them, but no-one really explains what it involves. And thanks for the the links to the blogs, I will get back to them tomorrow and have a look around! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Suzy. I love the Homer Simpson gif. I was an avid fan of The Simpsons the first ten years, but I have rarely seen it since then. Unfortunately, I think you’re right. People do need to get out more – myself included. My husband and I do take a walk – about a mile or 1 1/2 miles a day.

      I also read a lot of blogs and it is interesting to see the personalities behind them. I’ve enjoyed your stories as well and learned a lot from you about life across the pond. I’ve also “traveled” as a result of many bloggers as I see their country thru their eyes. Always fascinating. I love to travel and am inspired to see these places as a result of what I read.

      A blog tour, based on the one I was invited to be part of, is set up like this: In the opening, blogger introduces the person who invited them to be part of the blog tour. In my case, it was Marian Beaman of Plain and Fancy Girl. Then the blogger introduces him/herself, answers the four questions (that are in my blog – above), then the blogger introduces two other bloggers. Those two other bloggers repeat the same process. There, apparently, is more than one type of blog tour. One blogger I know has one that show cases bloggers who write books.

      You can see how it’s done by backtracking. Go to Marian Beaman’s blog. See who invited her to take part. Marian also invited merrildsmith (who has a comment on my blog here).

      1. OK, the short version of the Blog Tour is: It offers those invited to share their writing experiences and for them to invite two others to write about what motivates them. It’s an opportunity to draw in new readers. Win. Win. 😉

  10. Dear raconteur, Timethief was spot on in describing your work: a skilled and engaging storyteller and the brand you are creating is based on that and your experience as a teacher and reporter.” Like you, I enjoy the instant feedback of writing posts.

    Also, I like your relaxed photo, the links you provided, and that wry humor always poking through. I see that Merril Smith has joined in. Great!

    1. Thank you for offering me this opportunity via the Blog Tour, Marian, and for your comments.

      That wry humor you noted must be a byproduct of Pennsylvania where we both got our start in life. I love the stories you write about family and your humor as well.

      Glad to hear from Merril Smith. I hope I described the Blog Tour correctly to my friend SuzyHazelwood. I think it’s a smashing idea and it was a lot of fun. 😉

  11. I loved your comment on finding the imagery for each post. If you want to write a truly effective story that places the reader in the middle of the scene, you have to hit those senses!

    1. Thanks, Traci. To me, the photos are as important as the story. When I worked at a newspaper, I always tried to involve the photographers as I knew their photos would enhance the story and engage the readers. So many times, their photos were eye catching and just perfect!

  12. Kate sent me over this way. I’ve always enjoyed learning about how people do things– especially when it is how someone goes about writing. I look forward to reading more of your posts now that I know that you’re here.

  13. I liked this a lot Mom, it is always nice to see how your thought process is. Hope your eye doctor visit went well, I went last week and got new glasses.
    Trying to get back in the blog grove. Luv you!

    1. Except for needing glasses to see small things like my car … Fine! 😉

      Glad to hear you’re getting back into writing. It’s a wonderful way to express yourself and meet others who share your enthusiasm for writing. Luv you, too. 😉

  14. Timethief described you and your writing talents perfectly, Judy! And I love your relaxed picture and the flowers. And don’t you enjoy getting a comment from your daughter and responding? When Molly does that, it’s so much fun.
    Excellent post!

    1. As a long-time admirer of your writing, I appreciate your comments. The relaxed pose and flowers (from my hubby) were for my birthday last year. It is a reminder that I do have to get out more. .

      I agree, Marilyn, hearing from my daughter, Jenn, (aka msdiznee) is always a treat. We do share a love of writing and reading. Thank you for writing and hope all is going well. 😉

  15. HI Judy, I still feel such a novice at all of this that it is sort of reassuring to see that bloggers who have been at it for a while struggle a bit with various…well, demons might be too strong….but you know what I mean. I found you through Mark B.’s blog and was attracted immediately to your authentic voice. I look forward to reading what you in store for us next.

    1. If “authentic voice” is a euphemism for “C-R-A-Z-Y,” then you’ve come to the right place. I do appreciate your comments, Barbara. At times, It is a struggle to hit the right notes as I want to capture that person or that experience … and do it justice. My most difficult one, recently, was the one I wrote for my Dad who passed in 2011 – finding those photos helped me put that time of life into words. 😉

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