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February, 2007

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February 26, 2007

I'm just back from traveling to Mississippi to spend a few days with a client.  I am writing a book about a young man who is a very inspired and creative poet. I had the chance to interview him some more as well as visit where he lives, where he grew up and other important locations in his home state.

It was also a great pleasure to meet many of his family, including parents and grandparents.  What you've heard about southern hospitality is very true!  

One of the reinforced lessons for me from this trip is the importance of extended families and passing those great stories down through generations.  I met one woman (the mother of this client's grandfather's current wife) who is a delight and over ten years ago wrote her story and had it bound and distributed to her family.  Norma Logan had quite the upbringing and when I read her book I was laughing out loud at some of her outrageous stories.  It prompted a few looks from people around me at airports and on the plane (oh well!).

It is good to be back home with my family.  This is a rewarding job that helps me appreciate life fully.

February 19, 2007

Hawley Roddick, a writer and personal historian, was recently profiled in the Napa Valley Register about the importance of writing your life story.  Hawley is a novelist and non-fiction writer who has been published by major publishing houses - a rare feat!

You can read the article here.  Visit her WriteAssets Literary Memoirs website here.

February 16, 2007

I've mentioned before that the very popular site,, has more people posting their stories.  One of the more interesting is an elderly English gentleman who goes by the online handle of geriatric1927.  He has posted several home-made video interviews of himself and now has reached an audience of more two million worldwide.  Such is the power of today's technology.

Peter Oakley is his name, and today he is being interviewed by the BBC as this posting from February 9th notes (here).  You can view a previous BBC story on him here on You Tube.

February 14, 2007

It's a snowy Valentine's Day here in Albuquerque.  We've had a lot of snow this winter for our part of the country, although nothing like upstate New York where I went to High School (Rome, NY).  

I noticed a growing trend online recently.  Personalized romance novels are offered, such as at  This is probably a pretty cool gift idea. However a much more powerful gift idea is tell your real story, not just inserting yourself as a character in a work of fiction.  There are many ways to do this and I certainly encourage you to check out the ease and affordablitity of the iMemoryBook (more info here).

February 11, 2007

Don Clark, an APH member (Word of Mouth Films, Wolverhampton, UK), has put together an excellent short video on World War II veteran and cartoonist Manny Curtis. He was born October 23, 1924 in London and was called into service at the age of 18 in 1942.  

After the war Curtis was an editorial cartoonist.  This was when the field was pretty new for newspapers.  "Somebody said years and years ago, a historian, that if you want to see what a country, or any place in the world was like in any time of history, look to the cartoonists", says Manny.  "That's quite lovely, isn't it?"

You can see the short video and here some of Manny Curtis' interesting story (including his help in breaking down racial stereotypes) on You Tube (here).

February 9, 2007

If there was any doubt that our country is obsessed with celebrities it has been reinforced the past two days.  Anna Nicole Smith's death is a tragedy, to be sure, especially since she just had a baby a couple of months ago. However, she was not famous for an real historical reason; she was not a head of state or someone famous for creating great art.  But she certainly has recieved an inordinate amount of press.

While I maintain that everyone has a story to tell it is sad to see that so many hunger for every little tidbit of the lives of people like her.  Don't misconstrue that I am putting her down.  I'm not!  I'm just ashamed of the public's appetite for this kind of "news".

You, on the other hand — the everyday person raising a family, working hard at your career and striving to make a difference in your community — you are deserving of having others know your story. Even if it is only your friends and family that discover it.  Let's celebrate the real meaning of life and preserve our stories so that others will know how one person can impact others in sometimes quiet and humble ways.

February 6, 2007

Why do some of us write down the stories of our lives?  Reasons can, and do, vary, but I think for most of us who fancy ourselves writers and personal historians we write it down because that's how we make sense of it all.

I was reminded of this after reading Mark Matousek's piece on best-selling author Joan Didion.  The article, Writing to Live (in the March/April 2007 AARP magazine), tells of her motivation to write her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking.  The book received the 2005 National Book Award and this spring it will become a Broadway play.

The book delves into the grief she experienced after losing her husband, novelist John Gregory Dunne, to a sudden coronary at the dinner table.  At the same their daughter, Quintana Roo, was hospitalized from a bout of the flu that turned to septic shock.  She passed away a mere 20 months later of pancreatitis.

"The only way I get things is by writing them down" states Didion.  She also has been quoted that "we tell ourselves stories in order to live".  I like that statement.  It bookends nicely with "your life is your story", which is the name of my website.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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