Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

If you’re new to Monday’s Link Roundup, welcome! My collection of links is very idiosyncratic.  I find articles that “tickle my fancy” and that I hope will interest others with a passion for personal and family histories, life stories, memoirs, writing, or genealogy. Enjoy your visit!

  • The Art of Obituaries.[KQED radio interview]“Some people think of obituaries as sad. Not obit writers, though. It’s been said that the best obits are actually about life and that death is just the footnote. We discuss the craft of obituary writing, what kind of life warrants an obit and the effect of the Internet and social media on how we remember the dead.” [Thanks to Wendy Ledger VoType Transcription Services for alerting me to this item.]
  • The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing About Their Kids. “The ubiquity of confessional writing has spilled over into confessions that implicate not so much the author as the author’s still-underage offspring. Readers are meant to celebrate confessional parenting-writing for its courage, perhaps also because it is a rare creative (sometimes lucrative) outlet for women who identify primarily as mothers. Yet these parents’ “courage” involves telling stories not theirs to tell. Confessional writing is about risk. An author telling of her own troubles risks her own reputation and relationships. But an author doing the same about her kid risks primarily his, not hers.”
  • America’s First Man in Orbit Recording. “From a mail-order placed in September 1962 the original recording of ‘America’s First Man in Orbit’ was sold on 33 1/3 vinyl to relive the exciting new territory from the comfort of your living room. Listen to the full recording digitized here:”
  • What is a biography of a poet for? ” Whom is it for? In the time it takes to read John Keats: A New Life, you could read all of Keats’s poems. If you stick to the major poems, you could read them several times. But unlike a biography, great poems can be hard to read; they demand that you read very slowly, not dispensing with the language in favor of its extractible information, as one might when reading a biography, but rather lingering over the language in spite of a dearth of information…Even the most seasoned reader has more experience with the intricacies of people than the intricacies of poems, so a good book about a poet can focus our experience of reading, returning us to the language of the poems with a renewed vigor, with an appetite for varieties of difficulty that may have eluded or even repulsed us in the past.”
  • How to Format the Interior of Your Book. “If you’re interested in putting together a print version of your book, then it’s especially important to make sure your book’s interior looks as professional as possible. You might have written the next Moby-Dick, but if customers are so used to the way that big publishing houses format their books that they might be put off by yours if it’s not similar! First, here are some things you need to think about:”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

The Top Personal History Blogs of 2012.

fireworks

It gives me great pleasure to announce my fourth annual listing of the best personal history blogs of the year.

I’d like to pay special tribute to two blogs that have consistently shown up on the “best” list since 2009. They demonstrate what it means to be a dedicated blogger.  Please give a rousing cheer to Sharon Lippincott, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, and Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet, Women’s Memoirs.

My listing of the “Top” blogs  is based on each demonstrating:

  • Frequent, consistent, and reliable posting.
  • Personable and clear writing.
  • Short scannable articles.
  • Uncluttered pages.
  • Use of graphics, photographs, and video.
  • Intriguing and descriptive headlines.
  • Useful content.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the top seven personal history blogs for 2012, ranked in alphabetical order.

Congratulations to everyone!

  • DMB Picture. Owner  Debbie Mintz Brodsky describes her company as “a boutique video production company specializing in producing broadcast-quality personal stories for families, non-profits and small businesses.”
  • Reel Tributes. Founded in Philadelphia, PA in 2010 by David Adelman. Reel Tributes describes their objective as, ” [delighting] our clients with a film that surpasses their expectations.”
  • True Stories Well Told.  Owner Sarah White says, “Here’s where I share the thoughts I might bring up for class discussion. Here’s where I post the writings of my fearless, peerless, workshop participants. Here’s where I share stories from my own life, as well as my pet peeves, pointers, and personal observations. I hope to create the atmosphere you find in my classrooms.”
  • Verissima Productions. Owners are Rob Cooper and Pam Pacelli Cooper. Pam says that she and Rob have a, “shared love of preserving history. .. we work to bring… stories to life so vividly that anyone watching will feel they are in the midst of the story as it’s being told.”
  • Women’s Memoirs. Owners Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet have put together a wealth of information that includes writing prompts, book reviews, and more. Women’s Memoirs is not strictly speaking a personal history site but there’s a lot of useful material  here for anyone involved in personal histories.

Photo by Kevin Dooley

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Encore! 9 Great Links to Help With “Pesky” Grammatical Stuff.

grammar

I’ve a confession to make. I’ve never been great with  grammar. Maybe that’s why I work primarily in video ;-)  I’m sure some of you more keen- eyed grammarians have spotted the odd blunder or two in my posts. However, when I do write major pieces I always rely on a good editor to polish my work. For those of you who prefer to work on your own, here’s a great list…Read more.

Book Review: The Wealth of Your Life: A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will.

Ethical Wills aren’t  new. In fact they go back to Biblical times. But it’s within the last few decades that they’ve grown in popularity. People feel the need to leave something more than their worldly possessions.  They want to convey to loved  ones what they value, what has made their life meaningful, the hopes they have for their family and friends, lessons learned, and their regrets and achievements.

An excellent place to start composing your own Ethical Will is with Susan Turnbull’s  The Wealth of Your Life: A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will.  This is the third edition of her popular book first published in 2005.

Having designed and run numerous workshops on Ethical Wills myself, I was eager to work through Susan’s guide. To begin with it looks gorgeous. In fact it looks so good I was hesitant to begin writing in it! The 40 page guide is divided into 5 steps: imagining your audience, opening lines, reflecting and making notes, integrating your thoughts, and composing your Ethical Will.

A number of the changes in the Third Edition are cosmetic – changing fonts, redesigning the layout, and adding new visual elements. The core content, however, remains basically unchanged.

What’s new  is that some of the steps have been expanded and are easier to follow. This is particularly true in Step Three: Creating Your Ethical Will which is the core of the guide.  It’s divided into five themes:  your feelings, your values, your perspective, your history, and your will or estate plan.

I know from experience how difficult it is to identify core values. It’s not something we’re asked to do every day.  Step Three’s Your Values theme has been improved by the addition of a referral list of 82 values.  To further aid readers to discover their values they’re asked to write down An activity or role that gives my life meaning and purpose. Then they’re prompted to identify The personal values that are reflected. And finally, readers are asked to consider The biggest reward of that activity/role. These prompts helped me see more clearly why some activities had meaning and purpose in my life.

I worked my way through all the sections of the guide and found that the prompts really  helped me extract the juice from my life. All that remains now is  to take all my notes and complete writing my Ethical Will.

It would have been helpful to include in the guide a few tips on the  process of preparing an Ethical Will. We’re all different in how we like to do things but these few suggestions would give readers some guidance.

  • Make a date with yourself when you can spend quiet, uninterrupted time each day to reflect on the prompts in the guide. Writing your Ethical Will is not something to be done in one sitting. It takes time.
  • Write the way you talk. You’re not trying to win the Nobel Prize for literature.  Friends and family will appreciate hearing your authentic voice.
  • Read aloud what you’ve written. If you stumble over something, rewrite it.
  • Don’t let too much time pass between working through the guide and creating your Ethical Will. A few days delay is okay but a few weeks will rob you of momentum. And there’s the danger you might never get back to completing the final step of actually writing your Ethical Will.
  • When it come time to compose your the final version of your Ethical Will consider handwriting it on archival quality paper.  Even if you’ve done a draft on your computer, handwriting adds a very personal note.

If you’re curious about Ethical Wills and looking for guidance in composing one, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Wealth of Your Life. Remember the words of Bertrand Russell, “One must care about a world one will not see.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Encore! How to Write Your Life Story in Twenty Statements.

listStill putting off writing your life story? Well here’s something you might want to try. Write down a list of twenty statements about yourself that would give someone in the future an idea of who you are… Read more.

The Top Personal History Blogs of 2011.

This is my third annual listing of the best personal history blogs of the year.

I’ve been tougher in my selection this year. Blogs that were either “missing in action” or were visually unappealing or had weak content didn’t make the cut.

My criteria for selection is based on the qualities I wrote about in What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog. Briefly these are:

  • Frequent posts.
  • Consistency.
  • Personal.
  • Short and scannable articles.
  • Uncluttered.
  • Use of graphics, photographs, and video.
  • Catchy headlines.
  • Generous and useful content.

This year there are two newcomers to the list: Beth LaMie’s One Story at a Time and  Sarah White’s True Stories Well Told.

Special mention also goes to three blogs that show what good personal history blogging can be. If you’re not on this year’s list, check these out for inspiration.  The owners know their audience, write great content, post  frequently and consistently, and create a visually appealing format.  Kudos to The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, Women’s Memoirs, and True Stories Well Told.

Without further ado, here are the top eight personal history blogs for 2011, ranked in alphabetical order.  Congratulations to everyone.  Drum role, please!

  • Legacy Multimedia blog. Owner Stefani Twyford says that on her blog “you will read about my passion for personal history, filmmaking techniques, genealogy, and related topics. I will veer off onto other topics from time to time but always come back to the things that make my work and my life a joy.”
  • Memoir Mentor. Owner Dawn Thurston says, “My blog is an attempt to participate in the larger community of people interested in life story writing of all kinds and perhaps help a few people persevere in writing their stories.”
  • One Story at a Time.  Owner Beth LaMie says, “I hope you find my stories of interest, especially if you want to write some of your own family stories.”
  • True Stories Well Told.  Owner Sarah White says, “Here’s where I share the thoughts I might bring up for class discussion. Here’s where I post the writings of my fearless, peerless, workshop participants. Here’s where I share stories from my own life, as well as my pet peeves, pointers, and personal observations. I hope to create the atmosphere you find in my classrooms.”
  • Video Biography Central. Owner Jane Lehmann-Shafron describes her blog as a place for “Advice, essays, samples and inspiration for people interested in preserving their personal and family history through video biography, memorial video, life story and genealogy video.”
  • Women’s Memoirs. Owners Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet have put together a wealth of information that includes writing prompts, book reviews, and more. Women’s Memoirs is not strictly speaking a personal history site but there’s a lot of useful material  here for anyone involved in personal histories.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo by Jackie

Monday’s Link Roundup.

If you’re searching for a way of creating a free professional promotional video for your business, look no further. Check out My Business Story in today’s Monday’s Link Roundup. And reenacted photos in Back to the Future will forever change how you look at childhood pictures of yourself.

  • Moby Offers Up Free Music to Filmmakers. “If you’re an indie filmmaker, non-profit filmmaker or film student, you can head to MobyGratis.com, register for the site, and then start browsing through a fairly extensive catalogue of recordings — 120+ recordings in total.”
  • The Late Word. “When we speak of literature, we should not imagine that we are speaking of some stable and enduring Platonic entity. The history of literature has always been about its highly mutable institutions, whether bookstores, publishers, schools of criticism, or, for the last half century, the mass media.”
  • StoryCorps Gives Voice to Critically Ill. “[StoryCorps]has created the StoryCorps Legacy initiative. Partnering with hospitals, hospices and cancer centers, it helps people with life threatening medical conditions record their stories.”
  • My Business Story. “Google and American Express know every small business has a BIG story. So we’ve created MY Business Story to help you make a professional-quality video. It’s free and easy. Just tell your story and we’ll take care of the rest.”
  • A Plethora of Writing Prompts for Creative Writing and Journaling. “Having a list of prompts that you can pull from every day in order to help you practice your craft, even if it’s just for ten minutes a day, can be very helpful. In addition, sometimes creative writing prompts can help spark an idea when you’re stuck on a short story or some other fiction piece that you’re writing.”
  • Back to the Future. “I love old photos. I admit being a nosey photographer. As soon as I step into someone else’s house, I start sniffing for them. Most of us are fascinated by their retro look but to me, it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today… A few months ago, I decided to actually do this. So, with my camera, I started inviting people to go back to their future.”
  • miniBiography and the 99%. “David Lynch’s Interview Project,[is] an online series of short video documentaries centering on the lives of “normal” people across America. In Interview Project’s 121 mini-biographies, the filmmakers (including Lynch’s son Austin) ask complete strangers piercing, existential questions. It is a source of ever-renewed wonder that each stranger has an answer, and that the answers are so often so rich and brimming with hard-luck stories and lived experience.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup, don’t pass up Affirmation, Etched in Vinyl. It speaks passionately to why personal historians do the work they do. As someone who loves a pen in my hand, I was intrigued by Why creative writing is better with a pen. For a little blast of nostalgia, take a look at What Record Stores Looked Like in the 1960s.

  • How Do You Spell Ms. “Forty years ago, a group of feminists, led by Gloria Steinem, did the unthinkable: They started a magazine for women, published by women—and the first issue sold out in eight days. An oral history of a publication that changed history.”
  • Getting Ready for Next Year–Now. “While the end of the year is likely not in the minds of many, it’s closer than you may think.So before the ball drops and that tax deadline gets even closer, it’s a good time to think about the many things you can do to prepare for the end of the year–and the promising year ahead.”
  • Why creative writing is better with a pen. “In a wonderful article published on the New York Review of Books blog the poet Charles Simic proclaimed “writing with a pen or pencil on a piece of paper is becoming an infrequent activity”. Simic was praising the use of notebooks of course, and, stationery fetishism aside, it got me thinking about authors who write their novels and poems longhand into notebooks rather than directly onto the screen.”
  • Affirmation, Etched in Vinyl. “For years I tried to construct a viable idea of my long-gone father by piecing together scraps of other people’s memories. I was only 6 when he died,…My father’s death stole many things from me, including the sound of his voice. For instance, I have tried to remember his laughter from that final night — its timbre and roll — but my mind is an erased tape. I possess the knowledge of his laughter and of Angie and Johnny’s bubbly white noise but have no memory of the sounds themselves. It’s as if I have garnered these details by reading a biography penned by a stranger.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • 7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless. “Life can be a huge struggle, most of the time, and for years it was a struggle for me.I’ve gradually been learning what causes that struggle, and what works in making life easier, better, smoother.Life can feel effortless, like you’re gliding along, if you learn to swim smoothly, to glide, to stop fighting the waters of life and start using them to buoy you up.”
  • What Record Stores Looked Like in the 1960s. “Just think: kids being born today will probably never see the inside of a record store. And why would they? Buying music used to involve wandering around a store browsing, picking things up based on cover art, putting them down based on scornful glares from record store employees, and generally being outside your house. Now, buying music usually amounts to nothing more than a click of the mouse from the safety of your couch.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.