Browsed by
Author: JHayes

Historic Events Taking Place In Your Lifetime

Historic Events Taking Place In Your Lifetime

You Are A BookYou are living during historic times. Yes, it is true. Twenty-five years from now, today will be history. Include some current events in your story. Maybe your favorite football team won the Super Bowl or perhaps a city in your state was chosen to host a World’s Fair or the Summer Olympics. Your ancestors will enjoy newsy information. They will also want to know your take on other events including weather disasters, political elections, terrorism, wars, and other important world-wide events. Chances are the things you include will not be in the text books your great grandchildren read in school years from now.

In clear sleeves, you can save newspaper or magazine articles about important events. But remember, the most important commentary about the world in which you live, is what you write. Your ancestors want to know how it affected your life, and they want to know how you personally felt about the events and the people involved. History is happening every day, and you are part of it. Write it down for future generations.


Photographs Help Write YOUR Life Story

Photographs Help Write YOUR Life Story

Photographs Are Important!

Your descendants will want to see photographs of you, your home, your parents, siblings, pets, vacations, and more. You can insert photographs where they apply to a specific story such as a vacation, birthday party, or school graduation. You can also create an album in the back of your book, which is organized by years, events, or family members. Set it up the way you feel is the easiest for your descendants to follow. Be sure to identify everyone in a photo and the location and year it was taken. Write the information on the back of the original photos so there is always a record for whoever ends up with them in later years. Don’t write Uncle Don, Aunt Beth, cousins Billy and Joe. PLEASE remember to always include the last name and place the woman’s maiden name in parenthesis. On the back of the photo draw a circle that corresponds to each person in the photograph. Assign a number, and write a list of the numbers and names of everyone in the photograph. If there isn’t room on the back of the photograph, write everything on a small piece of paper you can glue to the back edge of the picture.

If you would like to have pictures of the area where you grew up in the 30s, 40s, 50s, or later, there are a number of excellent online sources for vintage photographs.  You also can find images of things no longer used today such as an icebox, a wringer washing machine, a washboard, cradle, or wooden toys. Other types of vintage images you might be interested in are movie stars, entertainers, old cars, trains, colleges, and points of interest that were important to you and your family. Vintage photos from WWI and WWII, the Civil War, Spanish American War, Korean Conflict, and Viet Nam War can also be found. Maps can also illustrate a location and time period. Don’t use too many photos that aren’t family, but do use those that complement that story you are sharing.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Circa 1913   (a panorama view)

The Library of Congress ( has an extensive collection of photographs available online. Just a few of the categories include:

  • Civil War
  • Great Depression
  • African American
  • American Indian (Edward S. Curtis)
  • Civil War and Post Civil War (Matthew Brady Collection)
  • World Travel Photos (Frank and Frances Carpenter)
  • Southern Architecture
  • Daguerreotypes
  • Large Selection of Vintage Panorama Photographs
  • Graphic Arts (Vintage – Includes some Political)
  • Famous Buildings and Points of Interest
  • Transportation
  • Hundreds of thousands of vintage photographs, maps, graphics, posters, etc.

Additional Sources For Vintage Photographs   (Mostly other countries)

An Internet search will turn up more sights if you don’t find what you need in these websites.

Photographs will enhance your story by providing visuals of people, places, and things that no longer exist. Use your own as much as possible, but it’s perfectly okay to use vintage photographs from other sources as long as you identify them as such.

Email me if you have any questions regarding the use of photographs.






3 Tips When Writing YOUR Story

3 Tips When Writing YOUR Story

Author Judith HayesONE: Writing your story is not as daunting a task as it might seem. Too often we make things hard for ourselves by trying to do things perfectly. That isn’t necessary. When writing your story for your family, the most important thing is to make it full of interesting facts and information about your life. You may not remember what year you and your best friend pulled a prank on her brother, but the story isn’t dependent on the date. If you kept a diary or journal at different times in your life, you may find dates and place names relating to your story, but they aren’t necessary. You can tell stories without dates by saying things similar to the following:

One summer, when I was a teenager, my best friend and I pulled a hilarious prank on her brother. (follow with the story)

One Christmas eve, when I was quite young, I thought I heard Santa on the roof. (follow with the story)

One summer, when I was in junior high school, my parents rented a camp on a pretty lake somewhere in New Hampshire. We had some great adventures that summer that I want to share with you. (follow with the story)

Exact details are not necessary to tell a fun story about yourself. Don’t leave something special out of your book because you are unsure of a date or a name. Simply say something like, “I don’t remember the year, but I was still in grammar school when it happened. (follow with the story)

TWO: Don’t try and write your life in the order of events. Write about people, experiences, trips, and important life events as you think of them. This is why it is helpful to have a notebook handy to jot things down as you remember them. You can put all your notes, memories, and stories into the order you choose later on in the process. If you are using a computer for your notes, make a main folder to hold everything and individual folders for various topics, such as holiday celebrations, school days, birthdays, best friends, hobbies, vacations, and more. This will make it easy to assemble our book quickly when you are ready to put it in its final form.

THREE:  Be sure you are writing as YOU and not as an observer. A women sent me a bit from the book she was Judith Hayes, writerwriting for her children and grandchildren for a critique. I found in many instances she wrote as an observer. When she tells about a school field-trip that turned into quite an adventure when a bear showed up at their picnic, she wrote it like a news story. She related the facts, but nothing about her personally until the last sentence when she said, “I was one of the kids on the field-trip.” I encouraged her to write it differently and include her emotions and feelings as a participant in the story. This time the story became exciting. She gave me her permission to include a bit of this story. One sentence read, “My heart was pounding and I thought I would pee my pants. We were all trying to be quiet and not move. Suddenly our teacher grabbed her berry pail and started banging on it and told us to do the same with ours. When we were all banging the buckets, that old bear took off running! When it was all over, we laughed and cried and laughed some more. Don’t tell anyone, but your old granny did pee her pants that day, but I wasn’t the only one!” It’s easy to see how this little story is far more exiting and interesting than the original news report style. Plus, the reader now knows Granny’s little secret.

Future generations want to know YOU, not just about you. Put lots of your personality into the stories. Say what makes you sad, mad, happy, and silly. Don’t just write a book about you… remember, YOU are the book!




Don’t Use Figures Of Speech (or hashtags)

Don’t Use Figures Of Speech (or hashtags)

That might seem like a strange comment. After all, writers use figures of speech all the time to enhance their stories and articles. BUT, they are writing for an audience living today and who know what these expressions mean. Figures of speech use words in an imaginative way. – Example: His attitude was as cold as ice. – When your gr. grandchildren read your personal or family history twenty or thirty years from now, that statement many not mean anything and just confuse them. Expressions change from one generation to the next.

Judith Hayes - You Are A BookTechnology terms will change too, as will social media lingo. If you choose to talk about enjoying social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, be sure you explain what the expression you use mean. People may not be using hashtags (#) in 5 years, let alone in 20. Don’t say that you used #bluebling at the end of all your tweets unless you explain what Twitter and Tweets are (or were) and how and why hashtags (#) were used.

Everything you include in your personal story should be clear for future generations. Simple explanations go a long way to make your story something your great grandchildren will love to hear over and over.

Spelling Matters

Spelling Matters

You Are A BookSince the Internet, people have become more lazy in their spelling habits. While abbreviating terms and words may seem like fun when texting, tweeting, and communicating on social media, spelling correctly in your book is important. If you use Microsoft Word, Open Office, or a similar word processing program, the spell checker will catch some errors and typos, but it won’t catch them all. Many typos contain words that are spelled correctly but are the wrong form of the word.

One common example is “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”  The proper uses of these three words that all sound the same, are as follows:

There – (a place, location, destination) We are going there after we get out of work.

Their – (possessive) It is their car. The package is theirs.

They’re (contraction ) They are the owners. –  They’re the owners.

You can buy a dictionary or use a good online dictionary, such as I think it’s smart to have both options available as you won’t always be online while you are preparing materials for your book.

Correct Spelling Of Places, Cities, Streets, and Names

You Are A BookCity and street names can sometimes have unusual spellings. Check all location spellings on a map to be sure they are correct. Many times a city, street, or building may be named after a person. We are a country built on immigration, which can mean street names may be difficult to spell for people not familiar with them. There are also different spellings of both first and last names that are pronounced the same way. There are hundreds of names this could apply to. Here are just a few.


Johnson – Johnsen – Jonsen

Hayes – Hays

Hanson – Hansen

Sheryl – Cheryl

John – Jon

Alicia – Alisia

Leanne – Leigh Ann – Leann

Always double check your spelling and be sure to use the right form of the word. We’ll have more on WORDS in another post. So keep checking back!


Judith Hayes

Tools For Organizing

Tools For Organizing

You Are A BookYour story can be written as a diary or journal, a story, a memoir, or a genealogy styled book. There are many self-publishers that will let you print and purchase a single book, or one for every member of the family. If your book is written in such a way that people outside your family will find it interesting, you can print extra copies to sell. I will be providing the names of some companies providing these services in a later post. Here is what you need to get started:

  • File box and folders
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Photo storage box for older photos
  • CD or memory stick for digital photos and scanned photographs
  • Your memory and that of older family members who knew you as a child. (They will tell you the naughty things you did as well as the good ones)


Happy Writing
Judith Hayes

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started on any project is the hardest part. Once you are underway, it will be much easier. There are some supplies that will help you get and stay organized. If you are writing your story without any genealogy references, the following items will be helpful.

You Are A Book

  • Spiral notebooks to organize your life by years, events, family stories, holidays, and more
  • Photographs from birth to the present (Choose sharp, clear photos)
  • A scanner to load printed photos into your computer (you can also have them loaded onto a CD if you don’t have a scanner
  • Computer and storage disks
  • A place to work that’s quiet
  • The desire to leave the gift of YOU to future generations of family

Once you get started, you won’t want to stop!


Happy Writing
Judith Hayes

YOU Are A Book

YOU Are A Book

You Are A BookThere has never been another person exactly like you. From the moment you were born, you impacted the lives of those around you. You were responsible for laughter, tears, and perhaps a touch of sibling jealousy. Your nose belonged to Aunt Martha and your ears to Uncle Frank. Those beautiful eyes came from your Grandma Simmons and everyone knows those pretty curls atop your head came from your Grandpa Joe.

You were photographed, kissed, hugged, poked at, tickled and adored. You had no secrets! Your weight was public knowledge, as was your length. And if you were a boy,  your Dad knew his bragging rights and used them. You were right at home naked or clothed and you probably preferred naked, since there are plenty of pictures of your bottom in the family album.

Your book began nine months earlier, back when you were upsetting your mother’s stomach and inspiring her to learn to knit booties. Yes, you were causing a ruckus even before you presented with all the pomp and circumstance rightfully granted to a new member of the universe. Your parents opened a bank account for your college education long before you ever cracked open a book, because they knew you would be someone special.

Now I know not everyone has had a perfect beginning, or grown up in a perfect family, but every moment of your life is important and valuable. Your experiences, written and shared, will be the strength for which another soul is searching. Your mistakes will be lessons and your successes will be challenges for those who read your words. Your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews will love learning about how you grew up and became the person they know today.

Judith Hayes AuthorYes, you are a book, from the past, in the present, and in untold years to come. Today is the day, to put yourself on paper, to record who you are, who you want to be, and all the joy and sorrows you have known.

Do it in story or history form, do it in poems. Do it any way you want. Just do it; for you are the book your children, grandchildren, and beyond need to read. You are the book that you need to write.

For, in so doing, you cement yourself as a block in the foundation of your family, your community, your country, and your world.

Today is the day to start writing your book.

Happy Writing
Judith Hayes