Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ten Steps to Starting Your Genealogy Research

Example of a family tree.

If you're working on a memoir or a family history book, it's usually good to start with at least a basic framework of your family tree. As you decide which stories to tell, it's important to research deeper into the past. Here are some steps that will help you stay organized and focused on the information you need.
1. Get organized. Decide what information you're looking for. Do you just want important dates (birth, marriage, death, etc,) or do you want to find out more information. Land deeds, immigration dates, lawsuits and other non-census information can all tell great stories if you find all the related information.
2. Start at with the present. In the case of genealogy, that's you. Write down all your important dates, parents, spouse and children if applicable. From there you will work back through each family group and create a data sheet for each family. (free data sheets are available at http://www.genealogysearch.org/free/forms.html)
Individual Worksheet
3. Document everything. As you find information, make sure you write down what you found and where you found it. That way if you find it necessary to return to the source, you can do that easily.
4. Ask questions. Start with your immediate family and ask them for information about their lives and about family members that may no longer be around.
5. Check for online genealogy sources. If someone else has already completed parts of your family tree, you may be able to find them online. The Church of Latter-Day Saints has most of their information online and Ancestry.com is a fee-based service that allows you to connect to others family trees. Some public libraries offer a free membership to ancestry.com with library membership.
6. Check the Census. The U.S. Census has a lot of family household information available. If you can't make it to The National Archives in Washington, D.C., see if there is a local branch in your area. Much of the census is online now.
7. Use the library. Many libraries have created large genealogy research sections that are available for patrons. A lot of these collections include the census records as well. Make sure to ask if they have fees associated with them first.
8. Invest in software. If you plan on investigating your entire family tree and all the related stories, it is probably worth it to invest in genealogy software. This will help organize everything without paper piling up everywhere.
9. Identify photos that pertain to individuals and make clear labels in your files so that you may connect the people with your writing later.
10. Share your information with family members. This does two things. It helps others see where they are in the family tree. More than that, they can help serve as fact-checking assistants. We can never do without those people in our lives.
Enjoy!



Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Bookspublishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk projectbuilding a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: nerandolph@jstwrite.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Another Ten Things You Can Have Done for $5

We recently did a blog about a website called Fiverr.com where you are able to procure the services of individuals at a rate of $5. Below are another ten services we found may be helpful for authors and writers.
Custom header for Just Write Books
Cu 1. Create a custom blog header. As a regular blog writer, it's important to maintain your branding. If you don't have the skills to create an appropriate header, you can have someone do it for you.


2. Have someone create a video testimonial. Usually, you'll have to write the script, but having a professional-looking video testimonial can be advantageous. People are more likely to believe and trust someone they can see.
3. Write an elevator speech. Several providers will either help you write your elevator speech or write it for you. This is a 30-second "commercial" that you can say to someone to engage their attention in your book, business or organization.
Key words for Just Write Books
4. SEO keyword research. Search Engine Optimization helps identify the content of webpages and present the information according to a searcher's parameters. If you want to ensure that more traffic reaches your book's website, this is a good service to employ.
5. Get a website. Just Write Books really believes that every book should have its own website in order to maintain a presence on the website. If this is not within your skill set, there are many people who will create one it for you.
6. Translate your work. If you feel that your work has a market in another language, it may be worth having someone translate it for you. Check the amount of words they translate for $5 and read the reviews before selecting your service provider.
7. Professional Bio. Whether it’s for the back cover of your book or for other marketing materials, it helps to have a biography on hand. If you don’t feel comfortable writing it, send a Fiverr service provider all the necessary information and they will write one for you.
Example of a Facebook cover image
8. Create a custom Facebook cover image. As you publish new books or want to highlight older ones for a specific event, it’s good to keep your social media up to date with your publishing life. Someone can even create one for events you may be participating in.
  

9. Hire a virtual assistant. If you’ve become so busy that is necessary to outsource some of the more mundane tasks, check for services that are available. There are individuals who will complete data entry, research and more.
10. Book review or testimonial. If you haven’t had much luck finding newspapers and other media outlets to review your book, you can find someone who will provide a review for you.
If you have a chance to browse through the services on Fiverr, what would you have done for your $5?


Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Bookspublishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk projectbuilding a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: nerandolph@jstwrite.com.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Doughty interns with Just Write Books

Sarah Doughty, English major at Saint Michael's College
 in Colchester, Vermont, interns with  Just Write Books Spring 2014.
(Topsham, Maine) This spring, Sarah Doughty, a Gorham, Maine, resident, and an English major at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, joined Just Write Books' publishing team as an intern for the publisher Nancy E. Randolph. Sarah is set to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2015. After which, she aspires to work in New York City as a book editor, helping passionate individuals make their mark in the literary world. Under Randolph’s tutelage she is gaining the knowledge to reach her goal. Sarah says she's learning little things that will help her in the future. "I'm really enjoying editing "The People and the Idiots" a story about a boy growing up in a cult and surviving without education or caring parents." Sarah says the time flies when she is working at Just Write Books. "Honing the skills required for publishing will help me in my continuing education and the rest of my life."


Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Bookspublishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk projectbuilding a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: nerandolph@jstwrite.com.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guest Blog: This Stuff Just Cracks Me Up

“The little boat drifted gently across the pond exactly the way a bowling bowl wouldn’t.” ~ High school essay, Springfield, Virginia.

Yes, I know that hilariously awkward analogies don’t exactly fit in a newsletter devoted to clear and efficient business communications. But I also know that nothing loosens up one of my writing seminars like a good laugh at what a fellow human being can do with the English language, like this from a Woodbridge, Va., student: “His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.”

For an even odder slant, have a look at this:

“Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of  100 can. fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.

“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be
in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!”

As it says in the intro, 55 percent of us, myself included, can read this straight through and get the point. I have no earthly idea what that says about us. I just found it intriguing enough to share with you. Any thoughts, please let me know at dave@davegriffithscommunications.com. And thanks to those of you who have responded to my newsletters over the last year.

But Seriously, Folks… Be A Meticulous Self-Editor

Moving right along—and in direct opposition to my behavior in the preceding article—like to say a few words about editing, or quality control. No matter how clever and succinct a writer you may be, you risk blowing it if you don’t edit yourself. By edit, I mean proofreading for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., as well as revising or rewriting. You can do the latter as you go, or you can let your words flow, then give it several careful reads before hitting the “send” button or printing it out and offering it to your client, customer, boss, vendor, coworkers, etc.

Why? Because that’s you on the email or report. As such, assuming you care about your image or reputation, it should look both professional and natural. Or, to put it more tellingly in the words of the great novelist Toni Morrison: “The language must be careful and appear effortless. It must not sweat.”

How do you get there? Somewhere along the line, I came up with six rules for careful editing. Read them and some may find that you already follow these rules without being aware of it. Others may find that you’re not giving self-editing the attention it deserves:

1. Read for the message. Does it say what you want it to say? Do you contradict yourself at any point? Is the message clearly stated within the first two or three paragraphs?

2. Read again for organization. Are the paragraphs in the right order? When you change topics are you starting a new paragraph? Are you repeating yourself?

3. Read at the sentence level. Are they in the right order?

4. Read each sentence for internal construction. Is everything parallel (WRONG: He suggested closing loopholes for the rich and rejection of salary increases for government officials. RIGHT: He suggested closing loopholes for the rich and rejecting salary increases for government officials)? Did you use active voice (WRONG: The touchdown pass was thrown by Tom Brady. RIGHT: Tom Brady threw the touchdown pass.)? Does the sentence make sense?

5. Read the words. Replace words that don’t convey your message. Avoid repetitive use of any word. So, how do you find more words in your brain? As Stephen King says, “The only way to be a good writer is to read a lot and write a lot.”

6. Check for and correct errors in punctuation and spelling and typos. Don’t rely solely on spell-check.



Dave Griffiths Bio
Dave Griffiths a free-lance writer and editor who travels widely to do writing and media and presentation skills training for clients ranging from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the Veterans Administration to nonprofits such as the Red Cross and private companies needing help with technical writing and written sales proposals. His professional background is journalism, covering national security for Business Week magazine and teaching at Penn State's College of Communications. Dave has a degree in English from the University of Virginia and a Master in Journalism from the University of Missouri.



Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Bookspublishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk projectbuilding a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: nerandolph@jstwrite.com.