Saturday, January 22, 2011

Journals 'Out Loud': Guest Post by Louise Palanker

Journals: Out loud

Louise Palanker is a renowned film producer, stand-up comedian, and radio host.  Knowing there was a market out there for teens to ask questions about personal questions about their lives, Louise created Journals to "grow a strong, supportive community that fosters open dialogue between parents and teens about the tough questions of growing up: boys, girls, friends, dating, popularity, love, sex, and family issues."  The free app is available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and includes an advice section for Louise to answer questions everyday as well as a lockable diary with writing prompts to help kids overcome their fears of expressing themselves.  An update even allows you to download what you have written to Facebook or other blog sites if you wish to share what you have written.  Over the holidays, the number of listeners and users has grown significantly.  Louise's "Journals: Out Loud" also features a team of teens who assist Louise as she answers listeners' questions.  You can listen on BlogTalkRadio and UStream on Tuesdays 8-9 pm (Pacific).  Following the post, you will find a couple of sample shows, so stay tuned.

Louise Palanker: The story of her top selling teen app Journals

I was motivated to write Journals when I found my father's World War II Journal after he passed away. While I was growing up, Dad would tell me that I could read his journal when I got a little older. But the years went by, I moved to California and my Dad passed away.

I found the journal one Thanksgiving and I was immediately moved to share it. I decided to write from the point of view of me, at 12, had I, in fact, found and read the journal then.

So, Journals is the story of 12-year-old Lanie Spurdle whose world comes into sharper focus as she writes in her own journal and secretly reads her father's.

I became inspired to turn the book into an app as soon as I got my first iPhone and started exploring the app store. I'm a bit of a gadget girl and it was instantly clear to me that authors could use this device to bring books into the hands of children.

What is also so compelling about app development is the ability to a) continuously make improvements on your product through the submission of app updates, b) receive immediate feedback from readers through the user reviews c) Offer added value technologies that enhance the reader's experience and d) Turn your book into an active conversation.

Since I have been mentoring young people throughout my adult life, I asked my programming genius, Ian Broyles, if he could create, in the app, a dialogue between me and the reader, where kids could ask me questions about the topics which challenge Lanie: Boys, friends, parents, bullies, puberty, love and other tough and fascinating things like life.

The questions are now pouring in and kids are not only talking to me, they are communicating with and offering support to each other. We've created a community!

Additionally, within the app, I challenged Ian to create a diary for the user. Readers can now instantly become writers with their own diary which is not just a blank page. It poses prompting questions such as: Today I learned... Today I hope... Today I am angry at... Today I understand...etc.

The Journaler can choose the question which best applies to her or his day and start writing. Our next version of the app update will contain a diary lock.

A recent update allows Journalers to upload their entries to Facebook and other blog sites if they feel inspired to share what they have written.

The most exciting aspect of turning the book into an app is the community we have created which gives voice to kids' concerns and questions. Growing up is so dreadfully hard that most of us have tucked the pain of it all into a safe and far away spot from where it can no longer hurt us. But for kids who are right in the middle of it all, it's very raw and very real.

I think that when they write, kids are looking for confirmation that they are OK. I get a lot of questions about boys and "How do I let him know that I like him?" And I get a lot of questions about friendship and how to fit in.

One of my strong tenets is to emphasize kindness. Tweens and Teens are in such a severe state of survival mode that there is a powerful instinct towards cruelty. I got a letter yesterday from Erin who is noticing that one of her friends is becoming a bully:

Question from Erin
Hey weezy! My bff has a friend who used to be my bff 2 but then she started acting like a “bully”. We are friends but she can be really, really mean. Should I go along with it or tell my other bff?

Weezy: Tell the bff who is becoming a bully, that you liked her much better when she was nice.
Someone said this to me once and it had a huge impact. I wasn’t turning into a bully, I had just become very “bully resistant,” where kids had been so mean to me that I had developed “an edge.” I’m sure it was a tone of voice thing. But my friend, pulled me up short and she just helped me realize that this was NOT who I wanted to become. I was not going to let bullies turn me mean. So, tell your friend. Let her know that she is just starting to come off as really mean and you know that’s not who she really is.

I will more than likely hear back from Erin as she updates all of us on how this situation is unfolding. I will also hear from other kids who have an opinion about Erin's BFF or want to share a similar experience or offer an opinion or support.

To check out or join the conversation, you can download Journals to your iTouch, iPhone or iPad, or you can go to and click on Advice.

Listen or watch the ‘Journals: Out Loud’ podcast:

For a free I Tunes download of Journals: Middle School Love and War, visit:

For more info on Louise Palanker and Journals, please visit:


  1. Love ya Weezy! You rock, don't ever forget that!