Write to be Healed Journaling Workshop:

This program is designed by Janine De Tillio Cammarata after more than 30 years of writing in and working with her personal journals.

It has been proven that self-inquiry through physically writing in a journal has the ability to heal. This workshop specifically focuses on using a journal to heal from injury, illness, loss or tragedy. It also is designed to empower, enlighten, and support anyone on their personal life path. 

Even if you aren't a writer, you can journal. Like anything else, it's a practice and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Journaling allows us to search within our mind to get to the heart of where we want to be in our lives and what is stopping us. In this workshop, many techniques and exercises are used to build your journaling practice to healing and self-awareness.

It can be personalized for individual or group/retreat workshops.


 The Writer’s Journal: A Guide to Creating Characters to Build Stories

Janine De Tillio Cammarata


Program Theme

Fictional character development within the framework of a story map.

Themes to touch upon:

  • Generating ideas

  • Write to entertain

  • Analyzing characters

  • Co-develop and collaborate with peers

  • Inferences on character behavior and emotions

  • Flexible thinking

  • Creating a lifelong love of writing

  • Immersion in the process

  • Use effective techniques, descriptive details, and clear event sequences

  • Share various tools for publishing in print and digital


Program Description

The Writer’s Journal: A Guide to Creating Characters to Build Stories


Goal: Inspiration for creating characters is all around us. Introduce journal writing to record daily observations and collect data, facts, and ideas. Use these observations, along with collaboration and imagination in creating a story from main character to conflict to resolution.


Share my writing process using examples of characters from The Puzzle Quests’ books, Shimmer’s Eggs and Saving Atlantis.


Workshops can be one-day or expand up to five days, depending on the depth of story development requested.


Day 1: Create Main Character

  • Touch on different genres in fiction and inspiration for ideas

  • Use of a photo prompt to develop a character (collaborative group participation)

    • Physical description, such as hair and eye color, shape of face, gender, age, height, color of skin

    • Emotion based on facial features

    • Surroundings

  • Use current photo or own ideas to create a character using Word Web

    • Answer additional questions about character

      • What does character like to do, hobbies, skills?

      • What are their favorites—color, food, movies, etc.

  • Effectively collaborate with diverse partners, express storyline clearly, and build on feedback.

  • Create problem based on character’s wishes and fears

  • Describe how these fears may show up in the story


Day 2: Character Development and Setting

  • Descriptive Detail Word Web

    • Collaboratively develop a word web for possible character emotions

    • Describe own character’s emotions and why and when they occur in story

  • Setting

    • Use of a photo prompt to develop a setting (collaborative group participation)

    • What character sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells

    • Express mood and emotions connected to the setting

  • Develop one or two settings based on where character’s problems occur

    • Use all senses

    • Describe mood of setting and how it may change as problems are resolved


Day 3: Plot

  • Thickening the plot:

    • Brainstorm on what could go wrong in the story

    • Develop sub-plots

    • How character works around problems to resolve conflict

    • Lessons character learns

    • How character changes

  • Sequence

    • Events and elements leading to the problem, climax, falling action, to resolution.


Day 4: First Draft

  • Beginning the story

  • Writing all possibilities through middle and end


Day 5: Working the Draft

  • How to follow the sequence of events to write scenes

  • Moving past getting stuck

  • Resolving the problem

  • Letting the character’s personality flow. No judgment or editing

  • Reading the story out loud when editing for effectiveness

  • Collaborate with a partner to receive feedback

  • Revision checklist

  • Share information on publishing in print and digital


Activities and detailed lessons are based on grade, length of class, and number of visits. Suitable for 3-8th grade.


What others are saying about

The Writer’s Journal: A Guide to Creating Characters to Build Stories


"Thank you for getting even my most reluctant writers excited and writing today! You’re the best! Top notch, high quality writing instructor!!”

—Marcy Philo, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School



"It was a wonderful day! The students thoroughly enjoyed it and were inspired. Next time you visit, I hope to schedule two days.  One of the best quotes:  'Can we continue this tomorrow?’"

--Kathy Kutny, Librarian, Waterford-Halfmoon School District


"Thank you so much for visiting! My kids truly enjoyed your lesson. I've never had so much fun or participation during an author visit. We were all excited to continue working on our pieces!"

--Shannon Race, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School


“Mrs. Cammarata’s writing workshop made me feel like when I was writing the story, I wanted to keep writing and not stop! She made me feel free to use my imagination. Mrs. Cammarata made me want to be a real author, like her."

--Students from Miss Robb's 5th grade class, Blue Creek Elementary


"Students were very engaged the entire writing process. Every student was excited to develop their own characters. They like being able to work with peers when being creative so that was helpful as well."

--Miss Robb, 5th grade teacher & Abby Moynahan, Librarian, Blue Creek Elementary


"Janine was very easy going with the students and they responded with enthusiasm about the writing (and some who do not like to write).  The students were excited to continue working on their stories after the author visit.  She really got them to think about the writing process and be creative about it."

--Ariel Gilbert, 6th grade ELA Teacher, Berlin Middle School


To schedule a visit or plan a workshop, please click here.

What's Being Said?

  • "The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer's Eggs is amazing. Haven't been able to put it down. What a wonderful magical adventure!!"


  • "Eyes of the Goddess, Book Two of the Fianna Cycle, takes up where Warriors Within left off. Present-day New York City is entwined with 3rd century Ireland by their respective inhabitants, Michaela Sommers and Maecha Ruadh Mac Art, heiress to the throne of Tara. Michaela is involved in a search for the drug lord who killed her father, Police Narcotics Officer Jack Sommers, while Maecha is about to embark on a voyage to Alba (ancient Scotland) to free her father, King Cormac, who had been kidnapped by the Picts. The two worlds are connected by the dream travel of Michaela, the chief druid Finnius Amergin, and Natalie, a child who exists in NYC but is destined to save ancient Ireland from ruin. Cammarata's keen knowledge of Celtic lore and skill in martial arts combine to create an exciting story of ancient battles, gods and magic, honor, loyalty and love. Young adults who love a good adventure story will certainly love this one. While Eyes of the Goddess can be read as a stand-alone, readers will want to start with Warriors Within to experience the full epic tale."

    Joan Weiskotten

    Young Adult Librarian
    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library

  • "I SO enjoyed your work, I didn’t want to put it down, and then didn’t want it to end. I am very excited for the next book in the series, to continue my adventure with the sisters."


  • Adult Writing Workshop Review

    "This well-thought-out course covered the essentials of creative writing in a logical progression. Class discussion and activities as well as assignments were thought-provoking and stimulating."


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • "I bought The Warrior Within at a fundraiser although it was not the type of book I usually purchase. I have been missing out..! I was immediately hooked and disappointed that it took so long for Eyes of the Goddess to be published. Please know that I purchased Eyes of the Goddess through Amazon and appreciate how quickly it was delivered. I am amazed a the skill of the author in being able to transition from the present to the past without losing the reader in the process. I love the Celtic aspect and the storyline continues to keep me addicted to this trilogy. I am eagerly waiting for the next (and unfortunately the last) book to be published. A whole new world of books has been opened to me though my initial purchase of The Warrior Within"

    Ann Frantti

  • Adult Journaling Workshop Reviews

    "Being able to take time to journal and focus on myself has been an incredible experience."

     The Writer's Journal School Program

    “Janine Cammarata, a natural teacher of her craft, is able to ignite a spark even in your most reluctant writer!” 

    --Marcy Philo, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY



    "Thank you so much for visiting! My kids truly enjoyed your lesson. I've never had so much fun or participation during an author visit. We were all excited to continue working on our pieces!"

    --Shannon Race, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY

  • "I usually read mysteries or non fiction. Every once in a while I like to try something different. If you like J.R.R. Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia this is a good fit. I enjoyed the story line and the character development. I wonder if and when book 2 will be available?"


  • "I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book. I have been an avid reader of fantasy based novels or most of my life and I found this one refreshing and highly engaging. I truly hope there will be a few more books in this cycle. Thanks!"


  • "I really enjoyed this book. I love Celtic stories. I really enjoyed the dreaming aspect to the book as well. How in our dreams we can go anywhere . The characters in this book , knew that and took advantage of it.

    I had read "Warriors Within", which was her first book. I looked forward to reading this sequel (Eyes of the Goddess) and was not disappointed. I look forward to her next book!!"

    V. McCarney

  • The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer's Eggs
    by Janine De Tillio Cammarata
    Highland Mountain Publishing

    "'What is the quest?' Luke asked, not getting pulled into the excitement of an adventure, even if that was what he had just been hoping for."

    Luke is an active 11-year-old who loves to swim—until one day he is sidelined with an illness that has him bedridden in the hospital. His family, including his brother, Peter, would do anything for Luke to get better. One day, upon waking in the hospital, Luke finds a puzzle next to his bed. Thinking it is a gift from a family member, he and Peter put the puzzle together. But this is no ordinary puzzle. Placing the final puzzle piece brings the puzzle to life and transports Luke and Peter into a medieval world of dragons and knights. A princess named Meriwether needs their help and in exchange will grant them each a wish. Longing for his brother to get better, Peter agrees, and Luke is excited about an adventure away from his hospital room.

    The brothers take a journey to a faraway magical land where they must help Meriwether’s dragon, Shimmer, find all her stolen eggs. But that will prove to be more challenging than either brother thought. Each adventure leads them closer to their goal, and they even bring along their best friends, Mark and Rose. But will they find all the eggs in time? Will they get their wish? Will Luke get better and be able to leave the hospital?

    Cammarata has a vision for medieval worlds and dragons and delightfully portrays that world for young readers. This book is perfectly matched to the minds of 8-12-year-olds and will captivate both boys and girls alike. There are adventures, dragons, knights, kings, and princesses, all twisted together in a beautifully told story of hope and determination. It is a tale of adventure and love.

    RECOMMENDED by the US Review


    "Cammarata's action packed storytelling never lets up. The urgency of the pacing draws the reader into Maecha's world quickly, but it is the fierceness of her loyalty and love that defines the narrative. Well-developed details ground the magical elements and make a world where people time travel in their dreams and are friends with gods believable. Jumping from the ancient past to modern day is at first jarring, but as the characters' lives weave together, their complicated relationships deepen the meaning of the story and give it a powerful sense of destiny fulfilled. "

    The US Review of Books

  • "Your book is excellent – a picture of Celtic landscape and adventure remained in my mind long after I completed the novel - I am looking forward to your sequel!"


  • "I loved learning about the Celtic lore that is written about in this book! Can't wait to read the next one :)"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


Events & Workshops




    Something lurks in 12-year-old Mark’s bedroom. When he sees what has hatched from the rock he took from Dino Island, he knows two things: he has set a dangerous string of events in motion and a new quest has begun that will take him back to the world of Dragonia and his best friend, Luke. Mark prefers to keep his head in his sketchbook, but is forced to confront the malicious Tam and Tim on their prehistoric Quetz Fighters. Can Mark dig deep to protect his team and bring this extinct creature back where it belongs before it’s too late for everyone?

    SKETCHY DINOSAURS is the third book in The Puzzle Quests’ series of adventures that span across time and generations. Being yourself is enough.


    Ages 8-12



    Book Events:

    Sketchy Dinosaurs Book Release Event!
    Sunday, December 8, 2019
    program begins right at 1:30, ends at 3:00pm
    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library
    475 Moe Road
    Clifton Park, NY 12065
    Pre-orders can be picked up that day
    If you would like me to come to your school or bookstore for a writing workshop or book signing, please contact me!
    Join my mailing list to keep updated on book release events!




    Please register for each workshop separately. It helps the library with set up:

    WEDNESDAY, October 9 - Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, November 6 - Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, December 4 - Piracci Board Room

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library from 6:30-8:30pm

    Adults 18+

    Whether it's in a notebook, blog, or sketchpad journaling can help you lead a whole and fulfilling life. It's a way to keep track of goals, life activities, dreams, and is very fun! Learn the many ways to express yourself! Each workshop will be different techniques and themes so come to them all!

    Bring your own journal! We have the rest!