Okay. so the tree is down, the thank you notes written, and the wrapping paper is neatly folded for use next year. Time to dust your hands off, push up your sleeves, and get to work creating this year’s Christmas presents.

Yes, really.

If you’ve ever promised yourself that One Day you are going to write and preserve your personal and family stories, keep reading because 2/15/14 is One Day. (I’m gonna’ tell you this most important note right up front, though: it is not a quick-and-easy project to add to your already filled-to-the-brim life, so only serious contenders need apply.)

Where most of my friends wore necklaces, I wore a Brownie camera. If you don’t count all those 5-year diaries, I wrote my first personal history in 2000 when I conducted interviews, did the research, and wrote a book about my father-in-law on the occasion of his 80th birthday. That was in late July. When I woke up after sleeping for a week, a little voice whispered “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

“You must be crazy,” I countered. It’s August, and there’s no way I can do all the work to have a book wrapped and under the tree by December.”

“Ahem,” the voice said through clenched teeth, “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

I learned long time ago that I lose every time I argue with The Voice, so I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and got to work. The leather-bound books arrived on Saturday, 12/2/2000 while Daddy was in the hospital, suffering from complications from a fall he took a week before. I gathered the family around his bed, and we started reading the book to Daddy  at 20 minutes till 1, finishing at 15 till 5. Daddy died at 5 minutes till 5.

After that, I penned 16 more personal histories for various family members and clients, and taught the occasional workshop for the more DIY-inclined. I know what I’m doing – I know how hard it is to add this job to an already full life. I know how deflating it can be to sit with a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen. I know how lonely it can be to write. I also know how exhilarating it is to hold a book of your stories in your hand, and how rewarding it is to have other people smile and thank you with tears in their eyes when they unwrap their very own copy. That’s why I’ll offer whatever support you need/want. I can be:

  • the Trellis that provides the structure for you as you grow and bloom
  • the Drill Instructor who demands more of you than you may have ever thought possible
  • the Fairy Godmother who whispers morsels of encouragement just when you need it.

I can’t do it for you, but I can make it fun and do everything I can think of to help you create this lasting legacy.

The first month, you’ll write stories from your personal history. I have a plethora of kindling should you need it.

The second month, you’ll write stories from your family history, and again: I have kindling. If you want to interview family members, I have questions and information about how to conduct a good, solid interview (complete with a checklist of what equipment and materials you’ll need).

The third month, you’ll write stories about things – family heirlooms (clothing, furniture, household items); personal memorabilia (clothing, shoes, jewelry, tools, cars); photos; documents (letters and such). You’ll be creating an inventory that can be used in a variety of ways as well as a treasure trove of information that might otherwise be lost forever.

It’s a low tech workshop that’ll go like this: every day for the 3 months, I’ll post multiple morsels of inspiration, information, ideas, and encouragement in a private, just-for-us Facebook group, and for those who aren’t on FB and don’t want to be, I’ll post the same thing on a just-for-us page on my blog that requires a secret handshake that you’ll receive upon registration. There’ll be handouts, gold stars, silver stars, badges, videos, audio clips, and more. I’ll provide information and direction for what to do once you’ve ready to move from the gathering phase to the harvesting and preserving phase (that means turning them into a book, though you should hear some of the other things you can do, too.) Shoot, we might even have refreshments sometimes. I’ll respond to comments and questions on both Facebook and the blog, and you’re welcome to read and comment on either or both. I’ll be posting inspirational quotes, writing tips, organizational techniques, book recommendations, and more. Much, much more. Though our focus is gathering, I’ll be sharing nuggets about all sorts of things that will help you when you’re ready to string the stories together to make a book.

I’ve dubbed our group the Keepsake Writing Tribe: Path Whackers, and for those who want more, I’ve crafted a Keepsake Writing Tribe called Torch Toters. Torch Toters will enjoy all the benefits of the Path Whackers Tribe plus send me up to 3000 words every other week (for a total of 6 pieces). I’ll read and respond with general reader feedback along with suggestions for light editing and polish. Torch Toters will, of course, enjoy everything the Path Whackers receive, too. There are only a limited number of spaces available in the Torch Toters Tribe, so don’t wait too long to sign up.

Imagine holding a book of stories about your mother and her sewing machine, for example. Or stories about your dad and his first car. Or about that old rickety chair that has always been in the corner of the kitchen. Don’t let these stories and this information be lost forever. Sign up today and let me help you create something of lasting value, something that will be treasured for generations and generations and even more generations to come.


Keepsake Writers: Path Whackers Tribe

Class full. Join us next time?

That’s only a few cents/day, and remember: you can compile the stories and make as many books as you need which means you’ll be creating an affordable, invaluable present. (Book production not included in this price, but there will be information about how and where to do that along with a whole lot more information you’ll need to make book.)

Keepsake Writers: Torch Toters Tribe

This class is full, too. Maybe you’ll join us next time?

That’s less than a cup of coffee a day – still quite affordable pricing for an invaluable gift.


Refunds: Tribe sizes are kept small to allow ample interaction between participants and me (even though I won’t be reading and editing for Path Whackers, I still offer a lot of personal back and forth), so once you’ve paid for a spot in either Tribe, I am counting on your participation and can offer refunds only if something comes up and I have to cancel the class. Which could happen, but I sure hope it won’t cause I am passionate about this. I really am.


41 years ago today, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers met the man who is now her husband. He was a bar tender, Jeanne was a customer. I guess you could say she picked him up in a bar.