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Aug 27 12 8:20 AM

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Hello Everyone

It's been 6 months since the Family History Writing Challenge and there hasn't been much action here on the forum. I know many of you follow my blog but we still continue to get new members joining the forum so I thought I would check in to see how everyone is fairing. I hope new members find some help in our past discussions. Believe it or not I am already mulling over ideas for the next challenge in February, I also have some new workshops I'm working on for our family history writers. 

With summer slowly fading this might be a good time to re access your writing goals. I would love to hear how everyone is doing with their writing - good, bad and ugly, don't be shy. We are all here to help and trust me you're not going to shock us, we're all in the same boat. But I want to hear your successes and struggles so I can focus in on your needs for upcoming programs. 

So here are some questions.

What is the biggest challenge or frustration you are having with writing your family history?

What is your dream scenario or outcome - what kind of family history book are you looking to create? Don't be afraid to go in detail. 

What have you tried so far, and why didn't it work? 

What do think is the solution, or what would you like it to be? 

How much would you pay to solve the problem immediately? Either through writing workshops, or ebooks or coaching? 

Feel free to answer in the forum or send me your thoughts to my personal email

 Looking forward to hearing from you. 

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#1 [url]

Sep 8 12 6:25 PM

Hi All.... I took a break to do research in Barrie... and developed a large case of writer's block.  but I have been reading blogs and getting inspiration on how to overcome that problem.  I took two rules to heart:  Put your butt in the chair    Write anything, even if it is bad....just write and you can fix it next edit.

I used that to inspire me to start writing again.   And it is working.

I am also trying the trial version of Scrivener... just setting it up tonight.   Have the new book  Scrivener for Dummies.   A couple of questions:  

Does anyone have a Scrivener family history template they are willing to share

I cannot see anything re inserting photos - but will re-look at the help section rather then my Dummies book...any tips

Also re setting up an index.... 

The Writing Forum inspired me to get started.  And now I am re-starting.... and believe I am on my way!

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#2 [url]

Sep 10 12 7:00 AM

Hi lmboon2

 Glad to hear you're writing again. You're going to love the Scrivener program. I'm working on a set of tutorials using Scrivener specifically for family history writers. What kind of a template? Give me a few more specifics and maybe I can help you out. 

As for adding pictures, are you using the Windows version?  that's what I use. Go to edit click on insert, you'll see upload image file. Then you can add any picture from your pictures file on your computer.  

As for setting up an index I don't believe Scrivener has the capability, but there are software programs out there that can generate an index. 

Hope that helps and like I said give me a few more specifics for a template and I might be able to help. 


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#3 [url]

Sep 10 12 7:50 AM

Hi lynn

I am using window version

I am using novel template but wonder if i should be using non-fiction manuscript template.   

Re pictures i have inserted but want to insure the captions are linked to the photos when i move them when editing.  I have put a couple in tables with the caption in the row below.  Not sure if that is a wise thing to do.     I do have trouble centering a single column two row table on the page...any hints with that.

I look forward to your tutorials re using scrivener.

I purchased scrivener for dummies and have another book re using scrivener to write a novel to get me inspired.

My primary concern is that i dont make an major error on initial format that will come back to haunt me when i get to the compile stage.

I am less concerned right now re a template for family history...i think that is dependent on how each of us put our family story together

Thank you for all comments and suggestions

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#4 [url]

Sep 13 12 5:53 AM

I'm using Scrivener, been using it since last February during the challenge.  Love it.  I'd be really interested in a scrivener workshop of some kind.  Didn't even know about dummies book!  Have to take a look at that.  I'm sure I could do more with the program than I'm doing now.  I love the cork board with my index cards--really keeps me focused and on task.  I don't have a template, just an outline that I have to change as I go.  I do use the CreateSpace template since that's what I plan to publish with, at least as of now.

I had a dry spell in the spring.  Had knee replacement surgery and my creativity just died.  Think it was due mostly to the pain meds.  Had to have them but they vegged me out.  I'm back to the book now and doing pretty well.

I'm also following the blog to book here on the Armchair site and am posting to my family history blog three times a week at minimum.  Every post with my book's name label is a chapter.  I think this is helping me a lot.  It's like I have deadlines.  

Big news--two weeks ago I found my long-lost paternal grandfather online.  I have new cousins, and we email back and forth, sharing stories.  I love it when you hit on something and get all motivated to do the writing.  

I'm glad you posted Lynn.  I didn't know to check the forum.  Always great to have others to hang out with!  Thanks for all the help.

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#5 [url]

Sep 13 12 7:24 AM

My most serious problem is that I have so much information that I want to pass on.  My tree has 450 names in it. My father's mother was a serious family history writer, and left us almost two file drawers full of memoirs, stories, charts and photographs that she made before 1950.  Cousins and I have been working for 4 years on my father's side, back into Ireland before they immigrated in 1861. We have records from the Ireland Valuation Survey and from Griffith's Valuation. Much of our material is digitized, but not all of it yet. So my problem is not research, but how to preserve and present this stuff to my children, grand and great-grand children and in-laws and etc., ad infinitum. 
One book with all this information in it would be huge. 
I'd like to hear what Forum members think might be the best way to explain and present my family's story.
Bob Parker

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#6 [url]

Sep 13 12 7:13 PM

I have limited my project to a family history memoir covering three generations from my husband's great grandfather to his father. I backed off of writing in order to gain more perspective in character development techniques used in writing fiction, to gather more detail-oriented research, and to structure the book more effectively. It is quite challenging to gain the ancestor's POV and see how their life events shape plot. Moving right along...stop by the blog if you're interested in developing your story as a memoir...

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#7 [url]

Sep 14 12 7:58 AM

Debra, I'm impressed with all of the work you've put into writing your family history memoir.  Your blog is great, and a wonderful source of information for writing this genre.  I left a comment about how I'm writing my family memoir.  I especially picked up some ideas on the birth order and core questions.  This is really interesting, and I want to study more about how to use this in shaping my characters' personalities.  Thanks for the info.

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#8 [url]

Sep 14 12 2:07 PM

You're welcome Bettyann, and thank you for your kind remarks! I'm trying to post every other day...sometimes the challenge for the day/week takes some time to really think. But it's coming along. Hope you'll stop by again sometime to see how I'm making out as I share what I learn about the process. I read your last post & left you a comment as well! I really enjoyed reading your narration! 

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#9 [url]

Sep 14 12 2:19 PM

Bob, don't let the number of entries in your family tree hold you back! The family tree for just my husband's side has 2098 entries, and there's more I haven't even entered, but for which I have documentation! My side of the tree has 3692 entries, and again, there's more documentation not entered. You have to decide whether you want to do an exhaustive and authoritative family tree for the surname and descendants, or some other form of family history book. While one day I plan on doing that for ONE of the surnames on my side of the tree, I have limited my scope to a more manageable size (3 generations on my husband's side), allowing room for other books and more stories to follow. The other thing you need to do is decide WHO you want to read your book. If it's just for people of that surname, it will probably be a very large, very expensive book to purchase, and will only have limited access in libraries and some homes that can afford it. Or, you could publish with a company that only prints as customers order. If you want family members to purchase it, books over $50 usually don't get sold even at family reunions...unless you have a lot of wealthy enthusiasts in your family. Just remember that there's NO one right way to write your book...

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#10 [url]

Sep 15 12 7:55 AM

What do you folks think of using a Web site to publish family history?  I'm doing this to pass on information to future generations,and it seems probable that digital publication will be most accessible to them.  Web sites are cheap and easy now.  Do you know of some that you like?

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#11 [url]

Sep 15 12 2:00 PM

Bob, I'm posting my book chapters on a blog, using Blogger. However, I also plan to self-publish it as a physical book, running limited copies to give to my family.  It will also be on Kindle.  I agree that online makes a lot of sense.  Today, with all of the fantastic achievements in this regard, we have opportunities like never before.  And they're cheap!  And sometimes even free!   

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#12 [url]

Sep 16 12 6:23 AM

Hi Bob

I agree with Debra, don't feel the need to write a family history book that is all encompassing. Break it down into a manageable size especially if this is your first time writing. If others have written about your family history perhaps you want to look at an area they haven't written about that you can tackle. Sounds like your father's Irish family history maybe an opportunity. Don't feel like every ounce of information you have uncovered needs to be represented in a book. Not every document and every name needs to be in the book. However having your sources digitized and organized is an important part of the equation. Identifying your audience is a very important step to writing your family history.and will effect greatly the kind of book you will want to write. And while other family members may have done a lot of the work for you don't discount your own journey, writing a memoir of your genealogical journey is an option. So you can see the approach and the book can and will be as unique as the individual and the history they are writing about. 

As to Bettyann's comments about a website, she is very right in that a website/blog is a wonderful way to organize and write your family history. A website is a great free option to organize and write your stories that can later be curated into a book. Of course again depending on your audience it will depend on your publishing method. Kindle is definitely a wonderful option as is or blogtobook. Again it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Presently, I am writing a series on The Armchair Genealogist about writing a family history blog with the purpose of turning it into a book, The Family History Blog to Book Project. Bob, this may be an approach you wish to consider with the file drawers full of information you have inherited. 

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#13 [url]

Jan 29 13 1:12 PM

I am not sure if this is where I should respond. It looks like al the reponses are from last year.
I have spent time putting together (organizing in one place!) all the information I have about my paternal grandparents. Now I can begin thinking about how much I actually know right now. Right now, it looks like the best way to procede will be a combination of a memoir and themes. I can see all the areas that need further research, but since this is an exercise in writing, I can always fill in additional findings later.

My issue is how do you know whan you have aproduct that is complete enough to share? I realize it is never really finished, but I'm not getting any younger and have to call a halt at some point.


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#14 [url]

Jan 30 13 4:41 AM

Hi Deb
Yes, at some point you have to let go and put it out there into the world. You have to remember, you know there are missing pieces of information but will your reader? Is it a complete story? I would suggest finding a beta reader and getting their feedback. You may be holding out for more information but if the story reads as a complete story with developed characters, a plot line that resolves and some great themes then let it go. I know you have plenty more books behind it and the learning from releasing it to the world will be tremendous for own personal journey and the knowledge you will take to your next book. 

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#15 [url]

Feb 2 13 6:55 AM

Yesterday, I wrote a little over 250 words, mostly random thoughts and memories of my Grandfather. From reading today's newsletter, they could be considered an ugly brain dump! It's not the firdt time I've attempted this. I just thought it was wrong. I didn't get to the point of creating an actual paragraph because the sentences were quite disjointed. Today, I will go to the documents I collected and write about them, especially as they pertain to what I wrote yesterday.

My plan is to write about my paternal grandparents. I will describe each one separately until they married and then will continue with the couple and their descendents. In some ways I can visualize it 
as an online (or DVD) narrative with links to each family member. It would certainly simplify knowing how much detail to give about each one in a narrative concentrating on just two people.

In writing yesterday's memories, I mentioned what my sister and I did. Now I think I need to briefly introduce myself and my immediate family first. Writing seems so messy. No wonder I only talk about writing and never do - there is so much to write about!!! I had no trouble writing articles and books in my professional life so I find it hard to understand the problems now.


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#16 [url]

Feb 2 13 7:31 AM

Day 1 went well. I knew where I wanted to go and did a lot more research so that I could write each point as a vignette. Woke up this morning and realized that I have "The" perfect ending for the 1st vignette but that would destroy my whole timeline. Now I have to decided if I am a story teller with a really good ending or work it all the way through to my original 1929 end date. I am glad this is more than a one day challenge because I think I will write day two with the perfect ending. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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#17 [url]

Feb 5 13 9:10 PM

I spent a week with a friend at a writing retreat we cooked up and it was marvelous. We read from books on writing and devoted big chunks of time to writing, read our work to each other and took long walks to redirect. I wrote about 25 pages. Now I'm home and I feel the panic rising. I don't have time. I don't have inspiration. I can't possibly do this. Thanks for the forum. It's good to know I'm not alone.

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#18 [url]

Feb 5 13 10:25 PM

    I am frustrated for I have allowed myself to get sidetracked.  I wanted to put more into my story about the area and what was going on at that time and felt I would just do a quick search as to when the area was settled and sure enough my scheduled writing time simply evaporated.  Now I am behind, had a really hard day totally unrelated to writing and am not in the mood to write.  I will close my complaining and try to make myself write for 30 minutes and then go to bed.  Tomorrow is another day and as with life..... some days are better than others.


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#19 [url]

Feb 5 13 10:53 PM

I've managed at least 250 words each day which was my pledge - am glad I set this realistically as it hasn't felt like a chore yet. I've changed direction though - had planned to write short stories for my blog and began with my grandmother's Aunt Alice who died in an Asylum. But I have got immersed in her story so am now thinking about writing it from different perspectives - mine as the 21st C researcher, Alice's and perhaps that of her sister. There are other women in my ancestry who were "outside" society at some point for different reasons - so I am going to focus on their stories as "Hidden Women".

Thanks for the challenge - it has really inspired me to do something with my research!

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#20 [url]

Feb 6 13 12:39 AM

    Earlier I was grumpy and discouraged but I said I would write for 30 minutes and then go to bed. I really thought I would but as I started to write I found I had made a lot of mistakes earlier and started going about fixing them next thing you know 2 hours have gone by.  I am sooo glad I got into it because now I have caught back up and on track.  I saw the new topic about posting your blog address and asked on it if I should upload there.  Will find out tomorrow.  I did upload tonight on my Pioneer Women of the Appalachians topic if anyone wants to check it out.  I feel so elated even if my story isn't that great because I was so discouraged earlier tonight and plugged through and didn't quit!!!  Ending a rough day and a terrific note.  Nite everyone!  Sweet dreams.


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