Story Projects Update

Volume 7 coverI know that posts have been sparse for the last several months. I’ve tried to focus on histories for my Mom with varying degrees of success. But I’m happy to report the next volume of our family history “Our Two Grandsons” is finished and distributed to family members. It covered September 1997 to December of 2001. This is the 7th volume in the history of my parents since they met and married in 1956. Based mostly on notes in my Mom’s planners with a few letters to her sisters, it isn’t a great read but the photos are fun and it does a good job of documenting my parents lives and important family miles stones. Yeah for getting it done. I gave it to my Mom on Mother’s Day and she was very happy.

Now I’m focusing on a project for my Dad. He spent 20 years in the Navy and really wants to do a history about it. I’ve worked on it here and there over the last few years in fits and starts. It will need to be a multi-volume history to cover everything. I talked with him for a couple of hours last week about what he wants to accomplish and why it is important too him. He shared several stories that I’ve never heard. I’m excited about this history but intimidated by what needs to be done in writing. While my Mom is super happy with just a factual documentation of her life, my Dad needs and wants something more. In order to do this I’m going to have to really learn how to tell his story. I’ve not done this before. We are focusing first on the years he was an instructor at the Navy’s Underwater Swimmers School in Key West, Florida. My Dad is going to a UWSS reunion next May and wants to take a copy with him.

So here is my plan. I signed up for the Armchair Genealogist‘s family history writing challenge in February. But between RootsTech and taking Dune to Oregon, I decided that it wasn’t the right time. Now I’m going to do it on my own. I saved all the emails and I’ve downloaded her The Companion Guide to The Family History Writing Challenge”. I’m committing to spending at least an hour each weekday to writing the narrative to the Key West volume. There are so many decision yet to be made to how to handle this project but I think that following the steps of Lynn’s challenge will give me a chance at tackling this project.

I think an important part of my commitment to this challenge is to share with you each day the progress I’ve made in first planning and then actually writing. I’m hoping to have the planning and research done by June 1st. Hopefully you won’t get sick of seeing my humble efforts but I think it will help me follow through with this challenge. Today I spent an hour reading “The Companion Guide” and completed the first two chapters and worked on filling out “The Vision Worksheet”.

I’ll check back in tomorrow and tell you how it is going. Wish me luck! I think I’m going to need it.


Zodiac Time-lapse Project

Back in May of 2012 I wrote a post about a cool time-lapse project. It inspired me to try my own time-lapse project with Zodiac. I did pretty good at getting a video clip of Zodiac most weeks while he was growing up. I didn’t get a chance to work on it before he left and it was on the back burner all summer until we got the news he was doing in-home training. That pushed it to the urgent category on my to do list.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

click on photo to link to video


I’ve never done any video editing so I had lots to learn. I first tried to use the slide show software that I have but that couldn’t handle the project at all. I have a very old version of Adobe Premiere Pro so I installed that I started reading the manual. Premiere Pro was surprisingly intuitive and most of the basics was pretty easy to figure out. I didn’t try to get fancy with anything but it came out pretty good considering my lack of experience, the quality of the video (just shot with my basic digital camera) and the not so good lighting or set up I had.

I didn’t try to do this for Dune (which I’m kind of sad about) but I want to do something for Pup “E” coming next Friday. I’m just not sure how I want to do it. I don’t want to do it the same way. While I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it isn’t really what I was hoping for. I want a way to capture how the puppies grow and change over the year that we have them. I’ve got seven days to come up with a plan. Anybody have any suggestions?

“My Grandma Mary” update – hidden pictures

So I’ve official finished editing “My Grandma Mary” and now we are just waiting for the box of books I’ve ordered to print! I’m so excited and nervous as the same time. That takes me to the next step in the Doable approaching to telling your family stories, link. This book brings a whole new area to learn in sharing it with a broader audience.

One of the fun things about this book is that we have put hidden images throughout the book that represent other stories from the Martin Handcart Company that we didn’t put into the main storyline. The book refers to this blog for help in finding these images. I decided to do 4 levels of hints. The first level of hints in under the “My Grandma Mary” tab above and the rest I wrote as post that you can see below. I have links to these posts of the “My Grandma Mary” tab. Hopefully that this will work well in helping those who get stuck finding all the images. Some of them are really pretty easy but some are much harder. DOABLE Sidebar L

“My Grandma Mary” update

I seem to have jumped through all the hoops to get a proof copy of “My Grandma Mary” printed by Lightning Source! I got an email today confirming the order from last week. The holiday has slowed things down but if I understand how it works, I should have the proof copy in my hand this week! I’m really excited to see it. If everything looks good than I will make it available for sell asap. My mom is usually really patient about histories but on this one she asks me about it every time I talk to her. It has taken a long time to get to this point. I’ve learned so much. But I’m sure there is a lot more to learn.

One thing I’ve realized is I’m glad there are places like Blurb and places like Lightning Source. Even though they are both print on demand companies their business models and target customers are completely different. I can see that I’ll be using both companies in the future depending on the project. For small runs, Blurb is a better choice. For books with a larger audience Lightning Source can be the better choice. While Blurb has a higher price per book they have no set up costs and no on going cost to keep the book available to print. While LSI has a much cheaper price per book they set up cost of about $100 mean you have to order at least a certain number of books to make it more cost-effective than Blurb. In the case of “My Grandma Mary” you have to order at least 5 copies to make LSI a more cost-effective option.

I’m still waiting to see how the quality of Lightning Source compares to Blurb.


“My Grandma Mary” update

I’ve been trying to finish things up on “My Grandma Mary” for several weeks now. Because I want to make this book available to more than just my extended family, I decided that we needed another printer than Blurb. Blurb is still great for printing a few books and their quality is wonderful. But to get “My Grandma Mary” into more distribution channels there needs to be some room for wholesale and retail mark-ups.I looked at:

I’m trying to jump through all the hoops to use Lightning Source. There are lots of new stuff to learn and things like ISBN numbers to deal with. Today I stumbled across a new option that is coming in July called IngramSpark. It is a sister company to Lightning Source but geared for smaller publishers and more user-friendly. Now I don’t know if I should wait and see what it is like or keep working it through with Lightning Source. My mom is getting anxious to get copies for her brothers and sister, so I think I’ll keep working on the Lightning Source route and if IngramSpark comes up before I get through it all I’ll check it out.

All of this has overwhelmed me at times. The layout for the book needs to be done again to fit their trim sizes and the export files have different specs than Blurb. I still haven’t got all that figured out but I think I’m getting close. I’m so glad that there are printers like Blurb to use for most of my projects. DOABLE Sidebar L

Understand Book Publishing Paths

Understand the Key Book Publishing Paths by Jane Friedman

Today I’ve been doing some research on publishing “My Grandma Mary” book. I still have so much to learn. This story project has a broader potential audience than my other projects. So I need to learn new things and try new things to share this book with those who might have an interest in it. I’ve loved Blurb for my other projects but I’m coming to realize that they aren’t the best option for “My Grandma Mary”. Just when I think I’m almost done I realize I’m not done. Silly me. If I just look at my DOABLE approach I would know that I still have a couple of steps to go; link (sharing the project) and evaluating. Now I’m getting sidetracked from the purpose of this post. In my research I came across this well-organized infographic on book publishing paths by Jane Friedman. You can find Jane’s full article here. I’ll be keeping this handy for referring to now and in the future. This is information to keep in mind from the beginning of a story project to the wrapping up stages.

DOABLE Sidebar DDOABLE Sidebar L

step five: link with the DOABLE Approach to Telling Your Family’s Tales

Step Five: Link

Having made it this far, you deserve to celebrate! That is much of what this step is about, sharing your accomplishment with your family, friends and anyone else who might be interested. There is a good chance that your “why” included hoping that this story project would impact others. Now you are ready to make that happen. Depending on your project some ways of sharing make more sense than others. Here are some ideas on ways to share your story project:

  • share it in person at a family gathering or one on one
  • send it by mail, hard copy, cd or dvd etc.
  • send it by e-mail, dropbox or other electronic methods
  • share it by social mediaFacebook, twitter etc.
  • post it on a blog, YouTube or website etc.
  • share it at other kinds of gatherings like conferences
  • talk about it with friends or other people you meet

Be excited to share your accomplishment. You never know who might be interested. Think about some creative ways to get your story project out there. Just be patient and look for opportunities.