Thursday, February 20, 2014

Writing Your Story - Techniques of Writing


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Genealogy tip for the day: Writing Your Story – Techniques of Writing

The Techniques of Writing
We have been looking at writing our family story and what it takes to get it done. 
The mind is a funny thing. If you have a lot of white space, as we talked in the last post, the text won’t look as heavy. People are more apt to read something that looks light and easy.

There are many ways you can accomplish this. You can use shorter paragraphs, wider margins, side bars and indented quotes. Quotations in a different font or italics serve many purposes. It gives variety to the page and makes it obvious it is something different from the rest of the page. There are other things we talked about in our last post, as well.

What else can you do? You can use standard fonts for the body of the work. These are fonts with serifs or little flags on the ends of the lines of letters. Use bold for chapter titles, captions and the like, but sparingly. 

When it comes to editing, the very best idea is to have someone else read what you have written. If that is not possible set it aside for a few days to a week, at least, and let it get ‘cold’. Amazingly, reading it out loud does many things. You can hear the “voice” of the writer or the tone. You can detect where it sounds stilted. It slows you down to read out loud and you are more apt to catch mistakes.

As you write chapters I would suggest you save one chapter to a file, and save all files in a folder with the name of your book. If you want more help you can go on line and find lots of help for authors, tips on writing, finding a publisher and lots of more. 

By this time, you will need to have printed out a copy of your book, or what is called a manuscript. When you think you are ready to send it to a publisher, read it one more time – at least. You might save yourself from embarrassment before you see it and your name in print.

“History is who we are; Genealogy is who I am” sg

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US Postal Service

February 20

Pope Julius II dies. He will lay in rest in a huge tomb sculptured by Michelangelo.

New Hampshire militiamen partake in the first recorded scalping of Indians by whites in North America.

The U.S. Postal Service is created.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the power of the federal government is greater than any individual state in the Union.

Polish revolutionaries defeat the Russians in the Battle of Growchow.

Confederate troops defeat a Union army sent to bring Florida into the union at the Battle of Olustee, Fla.

J.F. Pickering patents his airship.

Russian troops seize large portions of Mongolia.

President Woodrow Wilson opens the Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

The Soviet Red Army seizes Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine.

Hitler demands self-determination for Germans in Austria and Czechoslovakia.

The United States sends war planes to the Pacific.

Lt. Edward O'Hare downs five out of nine Japanese bombers that are attacking the carrier Lexington.

German troops of the Afrika Korps break through the Kasserine Pass, defeating U.S. forces.

The Ford Foundation gives a $25 million grant to the Fund for Advancement of Education.

The FCC applies the equal time rule to TV newscasts of political candidates.

Mercury astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

Moscow offers to allow on-site inspection of nuclear testing.

Ranger 8 hits the moon and sends back 7,000 photos to the United States.

North Vietnamese army chief in Hue orders all looters to be shot on sight.

Young people protest having to cut their long hair in Athens, Greece.

Carnegie Hall in New York begins $20 million in renovations.
Born on February 20

William Prescott, U.S. Revolutionary War hero at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Honore Daumier, French caricaturist.

Ludwig Boltzmann, atomic physics engineer

Marie Rambert, ballet dancer and director.

Curt Richter, biologist.

Jimmy Yancey, American blues pianist.

Rene Dubos, microbiologist, developed the first commercial antibiotic.

Louis I. Kahn, architect.

Ansel Adams, American landscape photographer, especially of western wilderness and mountain panoramas.

Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union (1964-1980).

Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer

Robert Altman, film director (Nashville, The Player).

Sidney Poitier, American actor, first African American male to win an Oscar (Lillies of the Field).

Sidney Poitier

A right word is the most direct route between two minds. Sure, you can take a circuitous path, but it's easy to get lost on the way. You can say Nina can't stop laughing after she has heard a joke or you can simply say that she is a hypergelast. You can complain that Neil suffers from an inability to remember names or you can say that he has anomia.

This week we'll feature five words that will help you succinctly convey what you wish to say, though we can't help if you have dysanagnosia (an inability to understand certain words).



1. An ornamental or protective plate surrounding a keyhole, light switch, door handle, etc.
2. Used in the phrase: blot on one's escutcheon (a stain on one's reputation).
3. A shield or shield-shaped surface bearing a coat of arms.

From Latin scutum (shield). Earliest documented use: 1480.

"Georgina drew the bolts on the front door and turned the large key in its handsome escutcheon."
Gina Rossi; The Wild Heart; The Wild Rose Press; 2012.

"I've never been arrested. I did get a parking ticket last week, but that's about the only blot on my escutcheon."
Lawrence Block; A Week as Andrea Benstock; Arbor House; 1975.

They know enough who know how to learn. -Henry Adams, historian and teacher (1838-1918)

Today’s Recipe
February - Chocolate Lover’s Month


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

February’s Recipes:


Now You Know!