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© Tom Gilbert

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                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy of personal historian  

April, 2017

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A Publisher's Good Tips About Writing Your Life Story

April 25, 2017

I am not a publisher. I don't publish manuscripts, I don't print books and I am not an agent to help get you published.

I am, however, a personal historian with the skills to help you write and preserve your life story, memoir or autobiography.

You might wonder what publishers think about people writing a book about their lives. If you don't already know it, the field of publishing is extremely competitive. Many people dream of writing a best-seller and getting their book into the hands of thousands or millions of people. But the odds are tough. Publishers don't like to take many risks. They get thousands of unsolicited manuscripts and you can imagine that many hardly get a look, much less a consideration.

Does that mean you shouldn't attempt it? Not according to Henry Quinlan from Omni Publishing Company. He, like most publishers, will tell you how challenging it is to get published. And he will also tell you that in your first effort you should self-publish. I agree with that approach. But he also has some good encouraging advice, such as figuring out who your audience is, coming up with a good title, knowing who you before you try to share your story, and most importantly, focus on the writing. 

You can read the consise post, Publisher offers secrets to scribbling your life story (from the Sippican Week) and see what you think. I believe the publisher has some good timps about writing your life story.

The First Woman to Run in the Boston Marathon Runs Again

April 18, 2017

Yesterday was the 121st running of the Boston Marathon. This is the granddaddy of marathons with a lot of history in a city with a lot of history. For those who have followed my blog and writing for some time you know that I am a huge Boston Red Sox fan as well as a long distance runner. I've never run in the Boston Marathon (it's on my bucket list), but I have run marathons and half marathons. It would be cool to do this race and run past Fenway Park!

Four years ago the world was shocked and angered when two terrorists set off bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 2013 became the year of "Boston Strong" with rallying cries that included David "Big Papi" Ortiz of the Red Sox. The baseball team fittingly won the World Series that year and it was probably a cathartic thing for all those who were sadly affected by the bombings. I happened to watch the movie about those events of 2013, Patriots Day, on Sunday night. The movie is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

One of the great stories from this year's Boston Marathon was Katherine Switzer at the age of 70 running the marathon 50 years after being the first female to run in the race. It's sad to think that at one time the race didn't allow women runners and in 1967 she had to "sneak" in by using initials in her entry. During the race there was an attempt by the race director to stop her, but other runners intervened and she finished in 4 hours 20 minutes.  Running it again this year was a triumph for her and other women runners, all 14,000 of them.

To me this is a great story. So many people have interesting lives and experiences. I have a special fondness for runners because I know the difficulty of the training and long miles of marathons. Perhaps you are a runner - consider documenting your story and experiences. It could provide inspiration to others.

Find a Team that Works

April 12, 2017

Teamwork is a common theme at our workplaces, schools and homes. If people don't work well together it can create a lot of friction and headaches. If you are part of a team striving to reach a goal it takes all the team members collaborating to achieve the goal.

This is obvious to me as an elementary school teacher. The students work together in teams on a lot of projects. Tomorrow, in fact, we "go to Mars" to join with students from other schools in our Mission to Mars project. It's a highlight of the 5th grade year. All the students have had individual assignments during the year in learning about colonizing Mars, but they also have had many group (team) assignments.

Teamwork applies as well to a personal history project. You can try to do it all yourself. But that is really hard and can be more time consuming and frustrating that it's worth. If you hire a professional to help you preserve your life story you create a team. You are part of the team along with the professionals you hire. 

I do lots of consulting, coaching and writing with individuals, but I've also worked with organizations. I also collaborate and network with other personal history professionals. I've found I don't have all the skills or desire to do every part of a book project. This is particularly true when it comes to the book layout, binding and printing. I'd rather use people who specialize in this work. I'm much better at the interviewing and the writing process.

If you are looking for memoir or life story assistance I invite you to explore this website further, especially for life story services and the many free articles I have written over the years. Additionally, as a member of the Association of Personal Historians (APH), I am in contact with other professionals who may be able to assist you in your life story needs.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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