Go Marvin! You Can Make It

Today is Marvin Mouse’s birthday. As he sat in Farmer Jack’s cornfield nibbling on an ear of corn, he suddenly realized how late it is. He was going to be late for his birthday party this afternoon to be held in the barn by his family and friends. He dropped the ear of corn and began to run toward the barn.

Running through fields of high grass desperately trying to reach the barn, Marvin falls into a deep hole next to a tree in front of the barn. He calls out, but his small squeaky voice cannot be heard by anyone as far away as the barn. He struggles in vain to climb out of the hole. It’s too deep. Discouraged, he sits down with his head in his paws.

Meanwhile, his sister Marcia, his brother Melvin, and his friends in the barn are wondering where Marvin could be.

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Breathe, Cathy, Breathe

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“Cathy, what are all these cut up magazines, newspapers, and pieces of papers doing strewn all over our living room floor?” her husband, Brad, yelled across the room?

Still wearing khaki work clothes, Brad arrived home after working all day operating a crane at a construction site. Tired, he looked forward to lying down for his usual nap on the couch before dinner.

“Geez Cathy, there isn’t even a clear path to walk to the couch,” he added as he did his best to maneuver in between the piles of paper toward the couch.

Agitated and frustrated weren’t the words he would like to have used to express his annoyance at having to stumble through the cluttered mess on the living room floor.

Sitting on the floor in the middle of the massive pile of papers, Cathy stopped cutting and lay down the scissors she used to create the piles of papers.

Wearing no makeup, her long black hair falling over her face, beaded up perspiration breaking out across her forehead, she looked up at Brad, brushed back the hair from her eyes, and exclaimed, “Hi honey. Guess what? I decided I’m going to enter contests. It’s my new ‘thing’. I’ve been searching through magazines, newspapers, and the internet for contest entry forms.”

Barefoot wearing an oversized white tee shirt that read ‘Save the whales’, she continued, “When I find a contest in a magazine or a newspaper, I cut it out, fill it in, and mail it. If I find one on the internet, I print it and do the same thing.”

Doing his best to hide his exasperation, Brad completed the paper obstacle course to the couch. He plopped his 245 pound body down and leaned back against the back of the couch. Bowed in the middle with a time formed indention the shape of Brad’s body, the sagging threadbare red velour couch had seen better days.

With his arms wrapped across his chest, he looked over at Cathy still sitting on the floor and expelled a sigh. With his head cocked to one side, he glared at her. “Cathy, you’re off on another crazy project again. Do you have any idea what the odds are of you winning one of those contests?”

In his mind he thought, “My dingbat wife is off on another crazy escapade.”

She looked over at him and childlike, responded. “Yes, I’ve read all about it, but I’ve got to give this a try. I’m sure I’m going to win big this time, Brad. I just know I’m going to win the prize I’ve always dreamt I would win. I bought a box of envelopes and stamps to mail in my entries. I talked to the man at the newspaper stand and he agreed to sell me his old magazines and newspapers for a nickel each.”

Brad sighed again. “Well what if all you win is junk you don’t need and will never use like radios or spa coupons, or a trip to Tahiti? In addition, if you’re buying outdated magazines and newspapers, most of the contests will have expired.”

He sucked in more air, let it out and went on, “Do you remember the time you got it in your head to sell old CD’s and DVD’s as coasters. You bought several hundred out-of-date CD’s from Staples. Then you painted multi-colored psychedelic glowing paint swirls on them and tried to sell them on the internet and to your friends as coasters. No one wanted them. You lost money and we still have three boxes of the things sitting in the attic. Should I go on about the other hair brain schemes you’ve come up with? This has got to stop, Cathy. Why don’t you get a job even if it’s volunteering for a charity? That would keep you busy.”

“For heaven’s sake, Brad. Don’t be so negative. I’ve already planned for those contingencies. I can sell the items on the internet and have a garage sale. There are many internet sites where I can list things for sale. I can list my garage sale too. It doesn’t cost much for the envelopes or the stamps. You’ll see.” She grinned as she picked up the scissors and went back to cutting out entry forms.

“I give up.” Brad sighed as he brought his legs up so his six foot four body would fit on the couch. He turned to face the back of the couch; his arms still crossed over his chest.

More exasperated than ever, he muttered, “I can see you’re dead set on doing this. I’m beat. It’s been a long hard day. I’m going to take a nap. Try to be as quiet as possible when you cut out the entry forms or better yet, how about fixing dinner?”

Not long after, the only sound in the room were Brad’s snores and Cathy’s scissors snipping away at an entry form in a magazine.

~ * ~

Several months later, Brad came home from work and opened the front door. Boxes piled one on top of another containing unknown items greeted him. Once he opened the door far enough to allow him to step inside, he wangled his way through another obstacle course to get to the couch. Each day for the past two weeks, more boxes appeared, but Cathy had not opened or disposed of any of them.

“Cathy.” He yelled as loud as he could.

Cathy rushed in from the kitchen all atwitter. “Brad, honey. I’m so glad you’re home. Isn’t this exciting?” She exclaimed in her high-pitched voice. Giddy with excitement, her thin five foot two body shook.

Brad looked around. He saw nothing but boxes with unknown content. Exasperated, not knowing what she was excited about, with a sarcastic tone, he asked her, “Isn’t what exciting? What are you talking about, Cathy? And what is this obstacle course of boxes doing in my living room? I thought you said you were going to sell these on the internet or have a garage sale. When?”

She swept her right arm around the room, her right hand palm up as if she were performing a demonstration of some sort leaving Brad more confused than ever.

As she danced in and out of the stacks of boxes, she said, “Look. These are all things I’ve won so far with the contests I entered. Isn’t it great?”

“You won all this junk?,” Brad asked looking aghast not believing what he just heard.

Still wide-eyed with excitement, Cathy replied, “Well I didn’t exactly win all of it. I had to buy some stuff to get the entry form off the boxes like cereal and other stuff, but we’ll use it. It won’t be a total loss. You’ll see.”

Rolling his eyes, Brad looked up at the ceiling; his hands clasped in a prayer position. He whispered, “Oh Lord. What have I done to deserve this?”

Ignoring Brad, Cathy went on, “And there are more in the garage. Now don’t be mad, honey, right now there isn’t enough room in the garage for your truck. But, this is only temporary. It’s just until I sell everything online or in a garage sale.”

He turned to Cathy, “Are you telling me I can’t even park my truck in the garage? It isn’t bad enough that I can’t even get to the couch anymore. Thank god I can at least get to my bed.” He started walking to the bedroom to take his late afternoon nap.

Cathy’s face turned red. She looked down at the floor, “Uh well, I meant to mention that too. You can get to the bed; you just can’t get in the closet. But don’t worry, honey, I laid all our clothes on the couch. It’s only temporary, just until…”

“Yeah. Yeah. I know,” he said as he interrupted her.

Mimicking her, he continued, “Just until you sell them online or in a garage sale.” He turned toward the bedroom.

Cathy called after him, “Honey, you know I’ve always wanted to win a contest. Have faith.”

He stopped and turned to face her. “Well now that you’ve won, why do you keep entering?”

“Because silly, I haven’t won the prize of my dreams yet.”

Indulging her and out of curiosity, Brad asked, “The prize of your dreams? I didn’t know you had a specific prize goal. What is it?”

Giggling, she responded as she continued whirling around the boxes, “You’ll see when I win it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

Too tired to argue anymore, he continued into the bedroom, shoved aside several of the boxes, laid down and fell sound asleep.

Cathy danced into the kitchen to finish making dinner.

~ * ~

At work the next day, Brad’s friend Jack looked at Brad as he dragged himself into the office for his assignment.

“Man Brad, you look like something the cat dragged in. What happened to you? Your old lady still driving you crazy with her new project?”

“Yeah. Every day for the last few weeks, boxes of crap she won in those contests arrive. I can’t even park my truck in the garage or get into my closet or nap on the couch anymore. She has filled the inside of the house with these boxes of junk. But she swears she can sell it all on the internet or in a garage sale. So far, she hasn’t sold one thing. I tell you Jack, I don’t think I can take much more. I love her, but she is such a dingbat. I can’t get through to her. I can’t make her understand the financial and other consequences of her foolishness like the boxes squeezing us out of our house. She has some fantasy about winning ‘the prize of her dreams’, as she put it.”

Deep in thought, Jack stood for a minute, his left arm across his waist, his right elbow resting on his left arm and his hand on his mouth. As he looked up at nothing, he tapped his mouth with his forefinger. Suddenly he lowered his hands to his hips and looked at Brad.

“Hey, Brad. I have an idea. You know that casino across town?”

“Uh, yeah. What about it?” responded Brad.

“They have slot machines. Take Cathy to the casino, give her say oh maybe fifty bucks and tell her she has to play the slot machines. Tell her if she wins anything at the slot machines, she could go on with her schemes; if she loses, she has to stop. You know the odds of her winning on a slot machine are slim to none if you only give her fifty dollars in quarters. What do you say?”

Brad stood staring at Jack as though Jack had suggested he allow Cathy to gamble away his last penny. He looked at Jack as if he wanted to say, “Jack, are you nuts?”

After a few minutes during which he stood riveted to the floor thinking, he turned his head and looked over at Jack. “You know, Jack. That might work. At first I thought you were nuts, but yeah, that idea might work at that. I’ll try it this weekend. Thanks.”

As Brad turned and began to walk toward the door, he stopped and turned around, “Oh no. Wait a minute, Jack. What if she wins even a dollar or less and loses all of the fifty dollars; I’m still stuck with these stupid costly projects.”

Jack stared at Brad while he paused in thought. “Good point. Give her a limit. I mean tell her that at the end of the evening, she has to come home with fifty dollars plus what she won even if it’s only a quarter over the fifty. That’s almost impossible on a slot machine. Today’s Friday. It’s the weekend. Why not take her there either tonight or tomorrow night?”

“Yeah. I like that. To stop all these projects that cost me money and drive me nuts, it would be worth losing fifty dollars. Thanks. I’ll present this idea to Cathy when I get home. I’ll let you know how it turns out on Monday.”

Brad left for home. During the drive home, he dreaded what he knew would confront him when he opened the front door. However, he also felt excited at the possibility that Jack’s idea might work and rid him of these projects and schemes forever.

~ * ~

When Brad arrived home that evening, he made his way through the maze of boxes to the kitchen where Cathy sat cutting out more contest forms. Since she ran out of room on the living room floor, she moved her project to the kitchen table.

She looked up when she saw him. “Oh hi, honey.” She looked at the clock.

“Oh my gosh. I didn’t realize how late it was. I need to start dinner.”

After dinner while they still sat at the kitchen table, Brad looked across at Cathy.

“Honey, I have a great idea. We’ve been cooped up so long in this house with all of these boxes of stuff, we need to get out. How about we go to the casino tomorrow night and try our hand at the slot machines?”

Her face a total blank, she asked, “What’s a casino and what is a slot machine?”

Brad let out a sigh then went on to explain in simple terms what a casino was and all about slot machines. He only mentioned penny, nickel, and quarter slot machines. He told her the easiest slot machines to win money on were the quarter slot machines.

He finished explaining everything he wanted her to know including his rules that if she lost everything she had to stop with her projects.

The idea excited Cathy. Her large brown eyes opened wide. She clapped her hands. “Can we go tonight?”

Brad smiled, happy with himself for having pulled this off… so far. “Sure honey.”

Several hours later, they were on the road to the casino. Brad made a quick stop at an ATM to withdraw fifty dollars, which he would turn into quarters at the casino.

Cathy wasn’t the only one excited. The end to all of Cathy’s projects excited Brad.

~ * ~

Music blared through the ceiling speakers, melodic noises sounded as the tumblers in the slot machines turned and dropped. The ding, ding, ding whenever someone hit the jackpot followed by the clinking sound of coins dropping into a tray echoed throughout the casino followed by the loud excited utterances of those who won.

The emotional anticipation of people hoping to hit it big and the disappointment of those who lost all they came with charged the atmosphere.

“Boy it sure is noisy in here,” Cathy exclaimed as they entered. “Is it always like this?”

“Yep. These slot machines make a lot of noise. It adds to the excitement,” Brad responded as he walked over to the change window and exchanged his fifty dollars for five rolls of quarters.

He left the window and steered Cathy toward a row of quarter slot machines. She meandered down several aisles until she found the machine she wanted and sat down.

“Okay. What do I do now?”

Brad explained what to do, what would happen when she pulled the handle down and what it took to win. He broke open one of the rolls of quarters and handed them to Cathy. He showed her how to put the quarters in the slots and pull the handle down.

The tumblers began to spin. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. A lemon, a cherry, a cherry, a lemon, and a grape.

“Do I win anything,? Cathy asked her eyes wide.

Secretly happy, Brad responded, “No honey, I’m sorry. Maybe next time.”

This procedure continued until all Cathy had left were five dollars in quarters.

Getting tired of winning one or two times and losing many times, Brad said, “Why don’t you put all of those in the machine this time? You’ll win more money.”

Bored with this whole thing and tired, Cathy said, “Well okay.” She put all twenty quarters into the slot machine and pulled the handle.

The tumblers began to spin. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. A cherry, a cherry, a cherry, a cherry, and another cherry. Bells and sirens went off and lights flashed. People came running.

Brad couldn’t believe what he saw. The lights in the center of the machine kept blinking $50,000.

Cathy started to gulp and gasp for air. “Oh my God. I can’t breathe.”

“Breathe, Cathy, Breathe.” Brad hollered at her.

“Brad. At last, I’ve won the prize of my dreams. Now I can begin a new project.”

Cathy looked around. “Brad, Brad? Where did you go?”

A man standing near Cathy leaned over and said, “Excuse me lady, isn’t that your husband passed out on the floor?”

“END”

Reedsy Prompt provided the inspiration (prompt) for this short story submitted August 23, 2019: “Write a story about someone who wins a contest and the prize of their dreams.” https://blog.reedsy.com/creativewriting-prompts

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Wally, Is that you?


Half asleep, barefoot, wearing the lacy pink nightgown Wally loved, I meandered from the bedroom down the hall to the kitchen. I filled a coffee cup with water, added an Earl Grey tea bag and placed the cup in the microwave. While the water heated, I dropped two slices of bread into the toaster.

As I stared at the toaster waiting for the bread to toast, memories of the mornings when Wally stayed overnight drifted through my mind. “How would you like your eggs this morning, my dear?” he would say in a fake English accent. I would answer, “Scrambled, dahling.” Sometimes I’d say, “Sunny side up, like your smile.” We’d laugh.

I loved his smile and his laugh. He had a deep bass voice.

The toast popped up jolting me out of my revere. Tears accumulated in my eyes and threatened to overflow. Once I had composed myself, I carried everything to the kitchen table, and sat down.

As I ate, more memories came flooding back. Wally and I enjoyed many happy hours together. We were so much in love.

We met at the courthouse where I work as a clerk in the Pinellas County Clerk of Courts office in downtown Clearwater, Florida. Wally’s profession as a bail bondsman brought him to our office quite often. I became his favorite clerk.

Then one day he asked me out for dinner. We dated casually at first. Slowly our relationship grew.

One warm moonlit summer night on the outside deck of our favorite restaurant on Clearwater Beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, he proposed. I accepted, and he slipped the most beautiful diamond ring I’d ever seen on my finger. I’ve never been so happy.

On that fateful night six years ago, as we left the restaurant blissfully walking arm-in-arm to Wally’s car in the parking lot, without warning a man with a gun appeared. He ran up to us, aimed his gun at Wally, and pulled the trigger. Wally fell. As the man looked down at my dying fiancé, he said, “Consider yourself served,” turned and fled.

I screamed, dropped down beside Wally and held his head in my lap. He looked up at me, and with his last breath whispered, “I love you Becca.”

Thanks to witnesses who videotaped the killer with their cell phones, the police caught, tried, and convicted him. Five years earlier, he had skipped bail on a burglary charge. Wally located and arrested him, and took him to jail. He served part of his sentence before the State paroled him. He shot Wally as revenge and is now serving a life sentence in a Florida State prison.

I rose from the table, placed the dishes in the sink and walked back to the bedroom. I looked at the clock. “Seven o’clock, time to get ready and leave for work, Becca. You’ve reminisced about the past long enough for today.”

Choosing pink slacks with a matching top, I finished dressing, arranged my long auburn hair and applied a touch of makeup. Ready to head out the door for the short ride to work from my apartment complex on Court Street, I left my apartment and rode the elevator down three floors to the basement garage.

“#”

“Morning, Becca” chirped Sadie in her usual high-pitched voice. Sadie is our perpetually cheerful resident ‘early bird’ who according to her anyway, gets up with the birds.

“Morning Sadie”, I replied in a sleepy voice as I made my way to my desk.

I waved to my best friend, Libby. She had just left the break room carrying two steaming cups in her hands. I knew one cup held my tea.

Libby and I became instant friends the first day she came to work here four years ago. Not long after, we ate lunch together and have continued the ritual almost every workday since. We discuss everything from politics to prior male relationships including all the ‘juicy’ details of course.

Libby stopped at my desk, handed me the cup of tea, and then stepped across the aisle to her desk.

“Thanks, Libby. I really needed this this morning.”

She looked straight at me with that all knowing look I had learned to recognize. After four years of friendship, she can read me like a book. “Don’t tell me. You had another flashback this morning about Wally didn’t you? You sound and look depressed.”

“I confess. Yes. I had another flashback while I waited for my toast to pop up. I remembered how much fun Wally and I used to have together doing even the littlest things like fixing breakfast.” I stopped, reached up with the back of my hand, and wiped away the tears that began to well up in my eyes being careful not to smear my mascara.

Libby sighed and said, “I’ve been trying to get you to go out dancing with me on the weekend for months. For heaven’s sake Becca, it’s been six years. You’re still wearing his engagement ring. You’ve got to move on, girlfriend.”

“You’re right, but I can’t forget him. Memories of Wally continue to haunt me.”

“That’s why you have to get out. You can’t sit in that apartment when you’re not working and pretend everything is the same because it isn’t. How about this weekend? Let’s go to that new restaurant and lounge that just opened on U.S. 19 below Gulf-to-Bay? I’ve heard the band is terrific. It’s become quite an attraction for singles. C’mon. What do you say? Let’s go.”

“I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Her phone rang ending the conversation.

I didn’t have any desire to go clubbing, but Libby had a point. It’s only Monday. I have plenty of time to think about it.

~ * ~

Lunchtime came. Libby and I left the office, walked to my car parked in the lot across the street and drove across the Memorial Causeway to one of our favorite beachfront restaurants.

Spring is the perfect time of year in Florida to dine outside. The weather is warm; not hot and humid yet. There is always a light breeze across the Gulf of Mexico from the west.

We chit-chatted all the way to Clearwater Beach wishing we could play hooky and spend the day swimming and lying on the beach getting tanned instead of going back to work. Wishful thinking.

After commandeering our tall wicker-backed chairs at the Tiki bar and lunch counter, we placed our orders and enjoyed our lunches.

After we finished, Libby got up and left to visit the lady’s room. As I finished my tea, I sat and mindlessly gazed out across the clear turquoise Gulf water. The sun glared from a cloudless blue sky reflecting off the miles of white sand. People from the north escaping the cold occupied lounge chairs and lay on blankets. The laughter of children at play on the beach and in the water filled the air.

Suddenly, a man caught my eye as he emerged from the water and walked across the sandy beach. I almost dropped my plastic cup still half-full of iced tea.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. My heart beat so fast I felt as if at any moment it would burst out of my chest.

Approximately six feet three inches tall, tanned, and muscular with a full head of dark brown hair wearing a tight black Speedo bathing suit, he looked exactly like Wally. I wanted to cry out. “Wally, is that you?”

When I saw him, I remembered how much I enjoyed resting my head on his hairy chest and snuggling up with him after we’d made love. I loved the fresh smell of him after a shower or after we’d been swimming. My throat tightened; it was getting difficult to breathe.

As I watched, the man turned and headed in my direction. OMG. He has a hairy chest just like Wally. I froze in my chair. Once again, I wanted to shout, “Wally, is that you?”

I thought, “Wake up, Becca. Your mind is playing tricks on you. It’s impossible. That cannot be Wally,” I breathed deeply and tried to turn away, but couldn’t.

Libby returned and sat back down in the chair beside me. She looked at me, reached over, grabbed my shoulder, and shook me. Loudly, to get my attention, she said, “Hey Becca. What are you staring at? Hello Becca? Are you all right? You’re as white as a sheet.”

As I watched, Wally walked up to the bartender and ordered a beer. He laid his money on the counter, turned and walked down the beach carrying his beer. I couldn’t do anything but sit and watch until he disappeared around the corner of a concession stand.

Libby shook me again. “Hey, Becca. Anybody in there? Earth to Becca.”

It took a few seconds to compose myself. “Huh? Oh. Yeah. I’m okay. Libby, you won’t believe this. You’ll think I’m hallucinating. I just saw Wally.”

Libby sat staring at me, her eyes half-closed. “Becca, Wally’s gone. You may have seen a man who resembles him, but Wally died over six years ago.”

“I guess I wanted it to be Wally so bad that I imagined it.” I looked at my watch; twelve forty-eight. “Oh my gosh. I just noticed the time. We’ve got to get back to work.”

Sleep that night was fitful. Visions of the man on the beach mixed with memories of Wally haunted my dreams.

~ * ~

The next day at work, Libby called over to me, “Hey girlfriend, it’s almost lunchtime. Which one of our lunch spots do you want to eat at today? It’s my turn to drive.”

Looking across the aisle, I replied, “I’d like to go back to the Tiki bar and lunch counter.”

With an exasperated look, Libby looked up then down, sighed and exclaimed, “You’re hoping you’ll see that guy you think is Wally again, aren’t you?”

“Yes. I admit it. You’re right. I’m hoping you can see him too so we’ll both know I’m not crazy, that it actually is Wally. Can we please go there?”

“Well okay. I like their food and the bartender is kinda cute so I’ll indulge you.” She said and smiled.

“Oh, thank you, thank you.”

We’d been at the lunch counter for over half an hour, almost time to leave and drive back to work. So far, no sign of Wally. Libby chatted away with the cute bartender while I turned in my chair and kept my eyes peeled on the beach. A group of seagulls were squawking and screeching fighting over a piece of hot dog bun some beach goer dropped on the sand.

A deep bass voice behind me caught my attention. Quickly, I turned around and looked toward the end of the bar. The man who looked like Wally stood there, beer in hand. He turned and began to walk toward a group of people down the beach playing volleyball.

“Libby, Libby. He’s here,” I screeched as I grabbed her by her shoulder, spun her around and pointed in the direction he went.

“Look over there, Libby.” She looked out across the beach.

“What am I looking for?”

“The man I told you I saw yesterday that I’m sure is Wally. I heard his voice. He even sounds like Wally. He just left with a beer and headed in the direction I’m pointing. Don’t you see him over there by the volleyball game? He’s the tall guy in the black Speedo bathing suit. He’s holding a can of beer.”

We both looked as he disappeared into the crowd.

Libby looked at me with a pitied expression and said, “Becca, all I saw was the guy’s back. I can’t tell if he looks like Wally because I never met him. All I’ve seen are pictures. I realize you believe it is Wally, but it can’t be.”

I started to cry. “Libby, am I losing my mind?”

As she placed a comforting arm around my shoulder, she handed me a tissue, “No, Becca, you’re not losing your mind. You have to get out, have some fun, and meet someone to take your mind off Wally. Please promise me you’ll at least consider it.”

After wiping the tears away, I managed a smile and said, “Alright, I promise.”

“We’d better get going now or we’ll be late getting back to work,”

Dejected, I dropped my head as I rose from the chair, I sighed with disappointment as we left the counter. Then an idea struck me.

“Wait a minute, Libby.”

I ran back to the bartender, “Excuse me, but by any chance is the man who just bought a beer and walked across the beach a regular customer?”

He thought for a second or two before he answered, “You mean the tall tan guy who was just here?”

Excited, I could barely contain myself. “Yes, yes. That’s the one. Is he a regular? Do you know his name?”

“No. I’ve only seen him here once or maybe twice. More than likely he’s a snowbird on vacation.”

Disappointed again, I thanked him and ran to catch up with Libby sitting in her car with the motor running waiting for me.

“What was that all about?” Libby asked as she pulled out of the parking lot.

“I asked the bartender if the man was a regular customer and he said he didn’t think so. I was hoping he was a regular, and that the bartender knew his name. No such luck.”

As we drove across the Memorial Causeway heading back to work, Libby said, “Well in a way I’m glad he didn’t know his name because you seem to be latching onto another obsession regarding Wally. This weekend we’re going out; no argument. So get out your best sexy dress because I’m picking you up at eight o’clock Saturday night.”

“You’re right, Libby. I can’t go on like this. I’ll give it a try.”

“Great. I promise you won’t regret it,” Libby grinned.

Later that week, after begging and cajoling on my part, we ate at the Tiki bar and lunch counter two more times, but the man who looked like Wally never appeared again.

~ * ~

Sure enough, at eight o’clock sharp that Saturday night, Libby knocked on my door. Even though I hadn’t worn the dress for some time, I managed to pour my five foot five body into a form fitting coral thigh-length dress. To complement the dress, I wore a matching necklace, bracelet, and earrings set with coral stones. I wore my hair up with bangs and a few wisps of hair in front of my ears.

When I opened the door, Libby whistled and exclaimed. “Boy girl, you’d better bring along a baseball bat to beat off the guys.”

“Thanks. You look great yourself. I like your hair down like that. That green dress with matching jewelry and shoes looks good on you.”

I grabbed my handbag from the sofa and followed Libby out the door to the elevator and down to her burgundy SUV.

When we arrived at the lounge, the band was in full swing. The place was filling up fast. We grabbed a table and sat down. I danced several dances, but couldn’t shake the feeling Wally was still alive.

As I sat and sipped my drink while Libby danced, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned, looked up, and almost fell off the chair. It was Wally.

“Hello, Becca.”

Once again, I couldn’t breathe. There he was, Wally, smiling down at me.

The color must have drained from my face, because he said. “Oh I’m sorry. Did I startle you?”

Stammering, I replied, “Uh yes. I’m Becca. Wally, is that you?”

He grinned. “I apologize. I should have introduced myself. My name is Webster. I’m Wallace’s, I mean Wally’s twin brother. Didn’t he tell you he had an identical twin?”

My jaw dropped. As soon as I regained my composure, I replied, “Now that you mention it, I believe Wally did mention once or twice that he had a twin brother. Since Wally didn’t talk much about you and you and I have never met, I forgot he had a twin.”

Webster continued, “I couldn’t make it to Wally’s funeral. I was out of the country on business and unable to get back in time. Wally told me all about you. I’m in town on business and hoped I could connect with you. I looked up ‘Becca in Clearwater, Florida’ on the internet with no luck. Wally never mentioned your last name or where you worked. But he did send me pictures of the two of you together so when I saw you tonight, I recognized you immediately.”

He took me to dinner the very next night. We’ve been dating for several months now. Memories of Wally haven’t haunted me since. Webster and I are too busy making memories of our own.

“END”

Reedsy Prompt provided the inspiration (prompt) for this short story submitted August 16, 2019: “Write a story about someone who is haunted by their past.”  https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Easy way to enter information into internet or form fields

Easy way to enter information into input fields in forms or on the internet.

How many times have you tried to enter a message or information into an internet site input fields i.e. name, address, city, state, text messages, etc. only to have an annoying error message pop up saying your entry or message exceeds the maximum number of characters including spaces allowed?

You go back and retype the information only to have the same error message appear. If you’re trying to send a message or request for information in a site, you retype the message, but the input field/box is small. What you type moves up out of sight making it difficult to make see/proof what you typed without scrolling.

You’ve finished typing your message. You scroll back to the top of the input field/box to proof your message. You find an error or two or decide to add more text. When you scroll down to the bottom of the text you find that because you’ve exceeded the maximum characters allowed, what you added caused the last sentence or two has been deleted. You try to type add it back in but the site won’t let you because you’re at the maximum limit… or worse… you send it BEFORE you realize it was incomplete.

How many times do you go through this until the message will go through? After two or three tries you want to give up. Frustrating isn’t it?

I FINALLY got smart (at least about this anyway) and came up with a plan. It’s simple, easy, and MUCH LESS frustrating… trust me.

Almost every site on the internet has maximum number of character limitations for entering information into the appropriate input box or field. It’s usually the maximum number of characters including spaces or it can be maximum number of words or lines. This number might be located someplace around the input box.

However, some sites don’t post this information. Instead, when you exceed the maximum, an error message pops up informing you you’ve exceeded the limit of XX number of characters, words or lines.

If you have a potentially long message to send, to avoid this problem, follow these procedures:

Make a note of the maximum number allowed and whether it’s characters, words or lines.

Leaving the internet site open, minimize the window.  Don’t leave the site and do NOT close it out.

Continue reading “Easy way to enter information into internet or form fields”

Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 4 of 4: Types of customers you can receive work from.

In Parts 1 through 3 of this 4-part series, I listed the various types of jobs I’ve actually done that you too can do working at home using just your computer, a printer/scanner and some computer programs.

Below is the final part of this 4-part series, the type of customers you can expect to receive work from:

Apartment Renter’s Associations

Arbitrators

Artists

Attorneys

Authors of Novels, Memoirs, Poems, Short Stories, Plays

Blog sites

Charities

City council meeting minutes

Clinics

Condominium Home Owner’s Associations

Corporations (overflow work)

Doctors/Physicians

Financial Service Advisors

Forums

Graphics Designers

Hospitals

Housing Complex Home Owner’s Associations

Individuals

Insurance Agents

Internet lesson site owners

Internet Web Site designers

Jail inmates

Marine Surveyors

Ministers/Preachers

Mobile Home Park Home Owner’s Associations

Physical Therapists

Private Investigators

Professional Speakers and Lecturers

Psychiatrists

Producers of videos containing seminars, workshops, and video lessons

Real Estate Agents

Retired professionals still working from home

Small businesses

Self-employed business owners

In my future books to be titled Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts and How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Secretarial Service From Home, I go into detail regarding the things you can do and expect working at home.

Be sure to check the link in the paragraph above to the pages in this blog site to read how much valuable information will be contained in my book.

Food for thought: “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” (Paul Bryant)

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If you’re a mystery lover, be sure to check out the pages in this blog site for information about my upcoming novels; Road Rage Dolls: Someone is murdering road rage drivers, Susan’s Stalkers: Double the Fear and my other books.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 3 of 4: Jobs 30 through 43

In Parts 1 through 3 of this four-part article, I list the various types of work I’ve actually done. In Part 4, I list the types of customers you can expect to receive work from.

The type of equipment, computer programs, experience and pricing the job are all covered in the chapters of my upcoming books, How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts. Estimated publication as ebooks and printed publications late in 2018 or 2019.

Regarding the references below to call-in dictation, in one of the chapters of both of my books Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts and How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Secretarial Service From Home, I go into detail regarding what is required and how to set up a call-in dictation line using your phone, your computer and an inexpensive computer program that answers the phone and records the call up to five hours in WAV format that can be transcribed using a free computer transcription program.

Part 3 of this 4-part series: Jobs 30 through 43

30.  Radio/TV shows and newscasts: I’ve had several customers who had radio and/or TV programs. One was a husband and wife team who had a weekly marriage counseling radio program. They recorded their shows and wanted them transcribed so they could write a book containing some of the questions and answers that were called in.

If you have ever watched any of the newscasts or news talk shows like MSNBC, CNN, FOX and others, I’m sure you’ve seen comments made by various people during interviews, debates, talk shows, speeches etc. shown on the screen while the recording or video of that person talking is displayed. The typed version of what is being said is transcribed and shown for clarification. Sometimes the newscaster will read the comments instead. This can be very lucrative work.

31.  Resumes: Word has templates for Resumes or you can purchase a low-cost computer program that contains various layouts. You then fill in the blanks.

32.  Scan & Save Pictures and Documents to CD or DVD: This is a service you might want to offer your customers as well. Offer to give them three copies of the CD to keep in various places. I usually charged a nominal fee per CD or DVD to cover the cost of the disc, the label, and the time to design the label and copy material to the disc.

33.  Scan and/or enhance photographs and other images: If you teach yourself how to do this, it comes in handy when typing manuscripts, designing book covers and all other documents where a customer needs this done.

34.  Scanning of typed documents to be converted to text: This type of work requires the use of a special program. You can actually scan multiple pages using the program then edit and convert the files to a text document that can be changed or edited by you or your customer. This type of job is also very lucrative. One job will more than pay for the cost of the computer program used to do this type of conversion. Several jobs were scanning of typed copies of manuscripts that had been typed that needed to be converted to a computer file for editing then publishing.

35.  Seminars and Workshops: I’ve transcribed seminars for Hospice of the Florida Suncoast and Metropolitan Charities in Pinellas County, Florida and for various authors, financial services agents and real estate agents.

This type of transcribed/typed material is used to write books on the subjects covered in the workshop or seminar or to add to their next seminar or workshop.

With the advent of YouTube, many of these people film their seminars and/or workshops to post on YouTube. The transcribed audio is then posted below the YouTube video and/or used as material for books or articles online in their blog or web sites.

36.  Sermons: You might receive calls from ministers or preachers of churches who record their sermons or Bible study groups and want them transcribed so they can print and distribute their sermons or Bible studies to people who weren’t able to attend.

37.  Speeches: You may receive a request to transcribe a speech. These are easy to do provided the speaker speaks clearly and there is minimal background noise. The problems you may face and how to deal with them are outlined in one of the chapters in both of my books.

38.  Surveys: Survey jobs can either be recorded telephone interviews to be transcribed, filled in forms, or handwritten reports. One of my customers was a Marine Surveyor who surveyed the damage done to boats by accidents, storms, and/or hurricanes. I set up a template with the various items he would report on for his customers and the insurance companies he reported to. He would call in to my business dictation phone line and dictate the information to be typed in the form. I’ve also done two-person recorded telephone interviews for a research company who did recorded telephone surveys for pharmaceutical companies.

39.  Telephone Conference Calls: You may be asked to set up and/or record a Board of Directors meeting or some other type of conference call which you would then transcribe into Meeting Minutes after.

40.  Term Papers and Theses for college students: This type of work will require that you understand the various styles and formats required of the college. Most colleges require the APA style of writing. You can download helpful articles from the internet on the various styles. I have URL’s of these sites in Appendix A of my book How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service. If you plan to go into this kind of work, I highly recommend you purchase the latest versions of The Chicago Manual of Style and The Turabian Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

41.  Video Lessons: There are music businesses that produce and sell video DVD’s or CD’s with lessons on how to play a particular instrument. You could receive a job request from a customer who will want the lessons transcribed into text.

Example: Two different customers purchased online video lessons sites that were already up and running. Unfortunately, they did not have the lessons in text form. Everything was online in the video. They hired me to download the videos and transcribe the audio portion.

42.  Video Taping: This type of work requires a camcorder. You might get calls for this type of work or you can offer it to the right customer. It does pay well. One of my regular customers was the head of a condo association. They needed someone to video tape their annual association meetings for legal purposes then have the audio transcribed to create Meeting Minutes. I charged by the hour for the recording plus the cost for the transcription.

43.  Web sites: You could attract some lucrative business by learning how to post articles in blogs or web sites. Create a web site and a blog for yourself then use what you’ve learned to do this for customers.

Part 4, Types of Customers You Can Receive Work From is next.

Food for thought: “Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts.” (This is the secret of success. Swami Sivananda)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 2 of 4: Jobs 15 through 29

Welcome to Part 2 of this four-part series where I list most of the jobs you can do at home using just your computer, a printer/scanner, and a few specialized computer programs.

In Parts 1 through 3, I list the various types of work I’ve actually done with exampls. In Part 4, I list the types of customers.

Brief descriptions of the various kinds of jobs, equipment, computer programs, and experience necessary as well as how to price the jobs are all covered in chapters of my upcoming books, How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts.

In these books, I also cover advertising, promotion, and the market you want to reach.  For more information regarding what will be in the books, click on the link above.

Regarding the references to call-in dictation, in one of the chapters of both of my books I go into detail regarding what is required and how to set up a call-in dictation line using your phone, your computer and an inexpensive computer program that answers the phone and records the call up to five hours in WAV format that can be transcribed using a free computer transcription program.

Now on to jobs 15 through 29.

15.  Internet Online Lessons: There are more and more internet sites with interactive lessons on everything from learning how to use specific computer programs, learning how to write a novel, to studying for a college degree. I’ve had several of these site owners contact me to record the voices from the online lessons to cassette tapes and transcribe them. One of my customers taught music lessons. I transcribed the audio for guitar lessons and several other instruments. I also transcribed the audio portion of an online course on First Aid for training people studying to be paramedics.

16.  Internet Web Site Design: This is a specialized service that pays well. However, you must learn the newest and latest version of the internet protocol language. There are many great manuals you can purchase to learn VML, HTML, PHP, Java and other internet programing languages. This takes training in graphics design as well.

There are specialized computer programs that help with the initial layout and codes. You might also have to purchase an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program in order to upload the finished web site. Internet Web Site Design work is a specialty that pays well, once you’ve learned how to do it, but be aware, it takes time. There are classes you can take to learn, or you could just type the initial text portion and leave the design work to a professional.

17.  Interviews: I would estimate this type of work counted for at least 45 percent or more of my business. I received many requests to transcribe interviews that were either done in person, over the telephone, in a video, or in an internet video such as YouTube or a video lessons site.

The recorded interviews might be with accident victims for insurance claims or Workman’s Compensations claims or accident witness statements. Interviews can also be in the form of question and answer surveys. The interviews can be one person interviewing another, a conference call with three or more people or may involve an interpreter because several of the people involved do not speak English.

You could receive the recorded sound or video files on cassette tape (standard, mini, VHS or Mini-DV tapes), in WAV or other sound file format by email. Large sound or video files can be uploaded to an internet cloud site with a link email to you for downloading.

18.  Invoicing: Many small business owners or self-employed people need their invoices typed and mailed to customers and don’t have the space or the income to warrant hiring a part or full-time employee. They may need other typing or transcription work done as well such as their correspondence, a manual or a catalog. Sub-contracting the work is also a way to avoid all of the book work involved with hiring an employee.

19.  Legal Documents: You probably won’t get many calls for this type of work because Legal Transcription is a “certified” skill much like Medical Transcription or Court Reporter.

However, you may get calls from self-employed attorneys working at home who need legal briefs or other correspondence typed or from individuals who are involved in a law suit and need documents typed.

I received work from a Professional Arbitrator who arbitrated labor disputes. I have also received request to type and/or transcribe rental agreements or contracts from individuals who rent property.

This type of recording is usually fairly straight forward and easy. Specific information on transcribing legal documents will be in both of my books.

20.  Mail Merge: This type of work requires knowledge of spreadsheets (I prefer Microsoft Excel) as well as Microsoft Word. I’ve done this type of work for real estate agents, financial services agents, condo associations, and many others. This type of work can range from data input only to merging into a form letter, printing, folding, stuffing, and mailing. You may even be asked to print the envelopes. This could include flyers, postcards, and/or labels.

21.  Manuscripts for Novels, Journals, Poems, Short Stories, Reference Books: There are many people who have written memoirs, journals, poems, and/or stories about their family or personal experiences, short stories, or fiction and want them transcribed or typed from printed, handwritten material, or dictated to either cassette tapes or in digital sound files.

One of my customers took several years to write a reference book of famous artists who lived in the State of Florida. This book included the insertion of many color photographs. Another woman wrote about her entire family complete with photographs. Both of these books ended up containing several hundred pages printed on both sides.

These jobs are more complex in that they require special formatting for publication as well as perhaps even scanning pictures and/or documents and graphics for inclusion in the books.

You may need to refer to a professional for help regarding book cover designs, graphics, editing, and proof reading. This type of work can be time-consuming but very rewarding financially. I’ve added some of my tips and suggestions for this type of work in my book.

For in-depth information regarding the proper formatting of a book for publication there are many informative sites on the internet or books on the subject. I’ve added some of these web site addresses on the Web Site page in Appendix A of my book, How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Secretarial From Home.

Once you’ve established a relationship with an author and they are happy with your work, you could have a repeat customer with new books to be transcribed/typed and formatted then published each year.

22.  Manuals: When businesses are purchased by new owners, many times the new owners want to change the manual to reflect the new business name and change some or many of the procedures. However, they don’t have a computer file for the manual; all they have is a printed copy. They need the manual in text form (usually in Microsoft Word) so they can periodically update it. They may want to change the company name and/or add their own logo.

You can either quote them a price to type it from scratch or offer to scan and convert the document to a text document that can be saved in Word format and edited provided you have a scan-and-covert to text program. Scan and convert to text work is covered in one of the chapters of my book.

Other times you may be asked to type a manual either from typed or handwritten material. This kind of work lends itself well to building a regular relationship with the customer when it comes time to update the manual.

Although this doesn’t occur often, you may be asked to scan images i.e. photographs, graphs, etc. as illustrations in the manual so be sure you know how to scan and insert these items into a Word document or you could lose out on what could potentially be a lucrative job. In my book, I go into detail regarding scanning software and graphic editing programs and how to use them. I add URL’s to sites where you can download for free or purchase software programs, tutorials you can download for free and/or manuals with tips on using the various programs.

23.  Mass Mailing: Mass Mailing via the U. S. Postal Service entails the actual mailing of documents once the documents have been printed. After you have done a Mail Merge job for a customer, they may ask you to print, stuff the envelopes, then affix labels, seals, stamps, and mail them. In my book, I show how to charge for the various parts of this type of work.

24.  Mass Emailing: A customer may ask you to send out material he dictates to you on a regular basis. The email can be monthly sales ads, advice on a particular subject, or updates regarding an association. The list is endless and may either be provided to you or you may be asked to transcribe it. You might even be asked to do some research for the customer on material to be inserted into the newsletter.

25.  Meeting Minutes: Condo, apartment, or mobile home park home owners associations need the minutes of their annual meeting transcribed and saved for legal purposes. They may also need updates to their bylaws typed.

One of my customers, The City of St. Pete Beach, Florida, found me in the local Yellow Book phone directory. Another customer who found my secretarial service business online was The City of Birchwood Village, Minnesota. I transcribed the minutes of their monthly city council meetings after downloading the video-taped meetings from the internet.

This type of work is a bit different than straight typing. The customer should give you information regarding exactly what format to be used for the minutes. More detailed information on this will be in my book.

26.  Newsletters by mass email: This is another type of work that can be regular and lucrative. Customer dictate to you what they want in the newsletter. You transcribe it and send it out to a pre-determined group of people by email. You could be asked to design the newsletter layout to be used on a regular basis.

27.  Patient Evaluations: While true Medical Transcription requires a Certified Medical Transcriptionist, you may receive requests to type Patient Evaluations. Three of my customers were doctors; two were psychiatrists and the other a physical therapist. They called in daily to my business dictation line and dictated their patient evaluations.

28.  Play Scripts: This is another rare type of job you may never receive a request for, but it is possible. I have received several such requests. Once the scripts were done, they were formatted and published as ebooks. Transcribing and formatting play scripts does require that you learn the proper formatting which is much different than formatting for regular ebook or printed publication.

29.  PowerPoint Presentations: Don’t expect to get many, if any, calls for designing presentations unless you have the skills and advertise this service. This type of work is usually contracted to certified professionals. However, If you have the Microsoft Suite of programs that includes PowerPoint or if you have some other presentations program, when you have the time, practice putting together a presentation. Even if you don’t do this type of work for someone else, you can create one for yourself as a promotional tool. There are ad sites on line i.e. YouTube where you can post your presentation. You also never know when you may be able to offer this additional service to a customer who is already impressed with your work. The hourly rate for this type of work is much higher than for the other types of work.

Next is Part 3, Jobs 30 through 43

Food for thought: “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Secretarial, typing and transcription jobs you can do at home – Part 1 of 4: Introduction and Jobs 1 through 14

When people find out I work at home doing secretarial work, I’m often asked exactly what kind of secretarial jobs I do. The usual misconception is that all I do is type correspondence for customers.

I’ll admit that when I started my business in 1998, that’s what I too expected I would be doing. Boy was I wrong. This four-part article will enlighten you as to the actual types of secretarial work you too can do at home.

In these four articles, I list 43 types of jobs that can be done at home with a computer, a printer/scanner, computer software programs, and at least a basic knowledge of how to use a computer, computer software programs, and the internet.

There are brief descriptions of the various jobs I have actually done at home. In my two future books titled How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts (expected publication in 2018), I go into more detail regarding required equipment, computer software programs, experience, training, billing, how to price the jobs, how to deal with customers, hiring and paying sub-contractors to help you with overflow, advertising, marketing and other important topics all based upon my 20 years of personal experience running my own home-based secretarial service.

If you plan to do much transcription, and you probably will, consider investing in two cassette tape transcribers; one for regular size cassette tapes and one for mini-cassette tapes. Even though we are now in the age of digital recordings, many people still have and use cassette tapes recorders. Investment in transcribers with foot pedals is well worth the cost and will pay for themselves in just one or two jobs.

Regarding the references below to call-in dictation, in one of the chapters of both of my books I go into detail regarding what is required and how to set up a call-in dictation line using your phone, your computer and an inexpensive computer program that answers the phone and records the call up to five hours in various sound file formats that can be transcribed using a free computer transcription program. I also cover internet voice mail services.

Please note that as you read through the job descriptions, some of the jobs are easy while others require more knowledge in specific areas. My advice is to keep up with the latest technology. In your spare time learn all you can in the areas you would like to become more proficient in so you can attract more lucrative jobs.

To learn more about the content of my books and publication progress, click on the URL’s to the book pages in this blog.

The first three parts of this series list a total of 43 secretarial service jobs you can do at home.

Part 1 lists jobs 1 through 14.

Part 2 lists jobs 15 through 29

Part 3 lists jobs 30 through 43

Part 4 lists the types of customers you may receive work from.

1.  Bible Scripture: Typing verses of Bible Scripture. I’ve worked for 17 years for a man who writes Christian books and Bible teachings. He calls-in and dictates to an answering program on my computer or mails me standard cassette tapes to transcribe. (My business line is connected to my computer.)

Typing verses of scripture requires special punctuation and formatting. In order to facilitate copying verses of Scripture correctly, I downloaded from the internet a free version of The Amplified Bible (which my customer preferred) in PDF format.

As I transcribed his dictation and he mentioned a verse of Scripture (the name, book, and verse number), I looked up the verse of Scripture in the PDF file, highlighted it and copied/pasted it into the document I was transcribing. All I had to do then was change the font to match the document’s font.

You will need to learn how to type/format a partial verse of Scripture. There are other special steps you should learn as well before tackling this type of work.

2.  Blogs: You may get a request from a customer who doesn’t have time to keep up with their blog. They may dictate what they want you to enter into the blog site on a regular basis. They may also ask you to download email responses and forward them to them to respond to. There are many ways to assist a customer with their blog. If you have your own blog and web site, this experience will be invaluable.

3.  Book Cover Design: This type of work is usually done by professional designers. But if you’re proficient in graphics design using programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Paint and other design and desktop publishing programs, you can do it too. All it takes is a good imagination for designing and knowledge of graphic design. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the covers and instructions as to their requirements.

4.  Book Formatting: As the years went by and digital self-publishing became more and more prevalent with authors, I realized I had to educate myself on book formatting for both ebooks and print versions. By the time I wound down the business in 2017, I had transcribed, typed, formatted, and uploaded to online publishers 24 books for customers now on sale in Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and many other major bookseller sites worldwide.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn how to do book formatting. It’s not as difficult as you may think IF you are proficient in Word. Most of the online on-demand publishers will furnish you with templates for the various size books and instructions as to their requirements

5.  Brochures and Business Cards: Many small businesses don’t have the funds to pay a large advertising firm to create Brochures and/or Business Cards for their business. This kind of work does require that you know how to work with columns, and text boxes. Word has many templates with layouts for brochures, flyers, and business cards. I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) brochures. The layout can also be used for catalogs and may include the insertion of images and photographs. This kind of work lends itself well to building a regular relationship with the customer when it comes time to updating their brochure.

6.  Cassette Tape, CD and DVD Labels: One my customers sells cassette tapes, CD’s, and DVD’s of his lectures. I designed and printed labels for the tapes. I also designed my own CD and DVD labels for my personal material and for customers. Avery and Roxio have excellent label design programs for CD and/or DVD labels.

7.  Catalogs: Some small businesses need their catalog typed listing everything from parts to video tapes to books. Typing catalogs may require that you know how to work in columns, and the use of text boxes. Word has templates. Check them out or download the free templates from Microsoft Word online.

I suggest you consider teaching yourself how to use the layouts in Word and Excel for two, three, or four fold (section) documents. This layout can also be used for brochures and may include the insertion of images and photographs.

8.  Correspondence, Emails: You could establish a regular repeat customer business transcribing daily or weekly customer correspondence and or their invoicing. This type of work will most likely be call-in dictation that you can transcribe using a computer transcription program. Once you’ve established yourself with a customer doing this type of work, you could be asked to do internet research and other secretarial work.

I had two regular customers for over 18 years. They became the mainstay of my business.

9.  Conversion of VHS and Mini-DV video tapes to PC Files and burn to DVD’s: I have received work from several customers requesting that I convert the videos they recorded using their camcorder on Mini-DV video tapes to a computer file to be saved on a DVD or CD. I’ve also been asked to convert videos on VHS tapes to a computer file that can then be saved on a DVD or CD. I cover in detail how this can be done and the necessary equipment and computer programs in my books; How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service and Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets, and Shortcuts.

10.  Data Input: This type of work requires that you know how to do data input into either a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or a database program like Microsoft Access. Examples of this kind of work: requests for data input of names and addresses for mail merging to create letters, envelopes, labels, reports, lists, etc. I’ve had customers send me templates already laid out and the source material to be input. This kind of work can come from real estate agents, insurance agents, financial and investment services people

11.  Desktop Publishing: Desktop publishing is a very specialized type of work. Desktop publishing is used to create newspapers and books, flyers, brochures and business cards because of the program’s ability to create movable sections, columns, images and many special effects you can’t do in a word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. To do this type of work correctly you need a desktop publishing program such as Adobe InDesign. If you have a creative “nature” and think you would like to get into this type of work, check out the Adobe InDesign internet site for additional information.

If you do decide to purchase one of these programs, be aware they are expensive, but well worth the price IF you have a demand for this type of work. You may be able to purchase an older version for less on the internet just to get you started. Currently, Adobe requires an annual subscription for their programs. Be sure to check out their site and others.

To be honest, I’ve never had much call for this type of work. Most customers looking for this kind of work go to professional publishers.

12.  Dissertations for college students: This type of work will require that you understand the various styles and formats required of the college the customer will be submitting their dissertation to. Most colleges require the APA style of writing.

You can download helpful articles from the internet on the various styles. I have URL’s of these sites in Appendix A of my book How to Establish, Run and Build a $ucce$$ful Home-based Secretarial Service. If you plan to go into this kind of work, I highly recommend you purchase the latest versions of The Chicago Manual of Style and the Turabian Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

13.  Flyers: Flyers are pretty straight forward. A variety of templates to create two, three, and four-fold flyers are included with Microsoft Word, Excel and other software programs.

14.  Forms Fill-in and/or Design: This is not the type of job you will get many requests for. However, it helps if you know how to do this kind of work so you can offer it to a customer or if the job you’re doing is one that might require a form to be completed. You might receive a job where the customer has a form that needs to be filled in.

If you have a program like PaperPort, OmniPage Pro, or Adobe Acrobat, you can easily scan the form, create fill-in text boxes in the document then type in the required information. Once the form is complete, save it in PDF format and print it for the customer. Acrobat also has a function whereby if you have the form typed and laid out in a Word document, It will automatically complete a fill-in form for you. (More on this in my book.)

Next is Part 2, Jobs 15 through 29

Food for thought: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Medical Information Cards – Part 2: List of Information to Include

Below is a list of suggested Item Headings and Information to include in your Medical Emergency Information Cards and Information Documents:

*  Your name, address, phone number, status: Living alone, single, married, working, retired, living with a roommate, etc. Be sure to give the names of the people you live with and their contact information.

*  Emergency Contacts: Include the relationship i.e. daughter, son, husband, wife, friend, significant other, fiancé, roommate, etc. List all phone number for these people i.e. cell, home, work, etc.

*  Insurance Information: Be sure to type in ONLY the last few digits of your insurance policy number, the name and address of the insurance company and their claims phone number. NEVER include your full social security number, policy numbers, or passwords to your insurance information. If you give that information and your emergency information card is lost or stolen, it could be used by others to use your insurance.

*  Physicians: Include their specialty i.e. primary care, gynecologist, dermatologist, optometrist, surgeon, etc. Give their phone and fax numbers as well as their addresses.

*  Current Medical Issues: Cancer, diabetes, high BP, asthma, psoriasis, MS, thyroid condition, lupus, leukemia, strokes, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Aids, Hep C, etc.

*  Surgeries: Include the reason for the surgery, date, where it was performed, and the physician. Also list any complications that may have occurred either before or after the surgery.

*  Current Medications AND Supplements: Over-the-counter vitamins and supplements CAN interact with other medications. IF you end up in the ER or with a doctor NOT familiar with your history and leave this out, it could mean the difference between life and death.

*  Allergies: Airborne, food, animals, latex, medications, vitamins, lotions and any other items that you are have allergic reactions to. If you know it, put down the date when you had your first reaction and/or were diagnosed with this allergy. They may also ask you what your reaction is i.e. a rash (describe), short of breath, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Implants: Replacement lenses from cataract surgery, hip, knee, heart or other replacement, pins or screws from bone fractures, heart monitor or pacemaker. If you have any type of implant and the doctor gave you the information as to the model number, manufacturer, etc., be sure to add that.

*  Immunizations: Flu, tetanus shot, pneumonia, measles, etc. Be sure to mark down the dates and keep this information up to date.

*  Tests: Blood tests, MRI, CAT Scans, PAP, colonoscopy, dates, doctor, hospital and the reason for the tests.

If you know your blood type, be sure to add it. If you’ve given blood and you have credit for the blood given, be sure to include this in case you ever need blood yourself.

Are you an organ donor?

*  Do you wear glasses or contact lenses or have glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye, or other eye issues?

*  Do you have a hearing loss or wear a hearing aid?

*  Do you wear dentures?

*  Special Diet Considerations: In case you’re in the hospital be sure to note if you have any food allergies, are diabetic or have digestive issues i.e. Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

*  Family History: Any information a doctor or paramedic should know about i.e. your family has a history of heart disease, diabetes, high BP, asthma, cancer (type), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Aids, etc.

* Other considerations: Be sure to list all other important considerations i.e. prone to seizures, depression, and any and all other issues that can periodically occur.

Keep one set of cards in your wallet, every purse, the glove compartment in your car, on your refrigerator with a magnet in plain sight and in every suitcase when you travel.

Give copies to your family, a neighbor, a close friend, the office of the complex where you live, a coworker and/or your employer. Ask your family to create Emergency Medical Information Cards as well and carry them with them at all times.

I keep a copy of this information printed out and placed in a manila folder on the top of my refrigerator plainly marked in large red letters: MEDICAL INFORMATION FOR ….. (YOUR NAME).

On the refrigerator door I have an 8/12” x 11” page with my picture on it marked, “FOR MEDICAL INFORMATION ON (NAME), PLEASE TAKE THE ENVELOPE ON TOP OF THE REFRIGERATOR.

On that same page, print any other CRITICAL information a paramedic should know immediately

 * Do you live alone?

 * Do you live with husband, wife, son, daughter, caregiver, roommate?

 * Are you living in an assisted living facility? If Yes, give the name of the facility, address, phone numbers and name of people or person to contact.

Last but not least, if you have a relative or are caring for someone with dementia, strokes, Alzheimer’s or other illnesses that have severely impaired them, suggest they have a family member complete this information for them or do it for them yourself.

Not only do these cards come in handy in an emergency, but as a reference for you should you find yourself in the hospital, a doctor’s office or even in an ambulance and need this information. If it’s an emergency situation and you are conscious, you can hand it to the paramedic, doctor, or nurse or tell them where to find it. They can serve as a reminder of things you probably would not have thought of or remembered.

If you’re unable to communicate, chances are an ER doctor or paramedic will check your purse or wallet for identification information and find the card. It’s accurate and contains everything they need to know about you in order to properly treat you.

I hope you never need the Emergency Medical Information Card and Information Documents but I guarantee it, if you put these together, it will give you peace of mind just knowing you have it. If you do need it, it could help save your life.

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If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books.

Food for thought: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” (Confucius)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Medical Emergency Information Cards – Part 1: Instructions

How many times have you been sitting in a new doctor’s office, an emergency room, or a walk-in clinic and had to remember very important information for the endless forms like the one above you have to fill out?

The form asks you for the dates you had your last tetanus or flu shot, PAP test, colonoscopy, mammogram or physical.

They’ll ask you about surgeries you’ve had i.e. date, the name of the doctor, hospital you were in, what the surgery was, where it was performed, any complications, and other details.

Another important question will be about any allergies you may have; food, airborne, or medications of any kind including prescriptions and/or over-the-counter drugs like aspirin. This is especially important if you are allergic to any medications i.e. penicillin.

Could you give the answers ASAP especially if you’re hurt or sick? Chances are your answer is No.

Have you ever been in an emergency situation and been asked for vital information by a doctor or a paramedic?

Have you ever thought about how important certain information concerning your medical history or current medications would be to a paramedic or an ER doctor in an emergency situation especially if you’re unconscious and can’t communicate?

Do you have emergency contact information on you at all times in case you’re unconscious? Even if the paramedics were able to find information and contact your family, would your family member know or could they give all of the information a doctor or paramedic should have to properly treat you i.e. your current medical conditions i.e. diabetes, thyroid condition, high BP, etc.?

Would they know the exact medications AND supplements you currently take, the reason for the medication, the dosage and when you last took it? This information is vital to the doctor, nurse, and/or medic taking care of you. Not having this information could mean the difference between life and death… yours!!!

Instructions for creating the cards

If you have a computer and a printer and I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this post, you can easily create a set of Medical Emergency Information Cards containing this information using reasonably priced business card stock available in most office supply stores. The cards are small yet can contain vital information about you that could save your life in an emergency.

Using Microsoft Word, open the Avery business card layout template. Type in the information suggested below and print the cards. It may take from three to six cards to type in all of the information. Use a size 9 or 10 font. On the first card, you can insert a small headshot picture of yourself to serve as additional identification.

You can type some of information on the first page of ten cards (or more if you need them) then create a second page to add the rest. Print the cards front and back printing page one on the front and page two on the back. Staple them together at the left end. If you need help or have questions setting this up, use the Leave a Reply section below.

Click on the link to go to Part 2 of this article “List of items to be sure to add to your medical emergency cards”.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Making dictated changes in typed documents

Transcribing dictated corrections, deletions, and/or additions to a typed document can be more daunting than typing it from scratch.

If you are a transcriptionist, below are some suggestions to help make your job easier: NOTE: These suggestions can be useful even if you are the one dictating changes to your own document,

1 – To keep track of each Draft or Version, be sure to save each version or draft as a separate file. At the top of each draft or version, type Draft #1 or Version #1 centered in bold print just under the title of the document. IMPORTANT: Do this before you begin making any changes.

2 – Rename each draft or version until the FINAL draft. Below is an example of how you might name Draft #1 or Version #1 of this procedure using Word:

Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents D#1.docx

OR

Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents V#1.docx

Name the next version the same name changing only the number to #2, #3, etc. until the final draft. Either name it FINAL Draft or leave out the Draft version completely leaving only the file name.

Once the final version is complete and approved, you can delete the prior saved drafts/versions.

3 – Double or triple space each draft of the document to allow room for your customer to write in their changes. When you’re all through transcribing the changes and the final document has been approved, you can change the spacing back to either single or 1.5. I would suggest you check with the person dictating the changes first and ask if they would like the draft copies of the document be double or triple spaced.

6 – Ask the person dictating to give you the following information before they begin dictating the changes:

a – Page number

b – Paragraph number on the page. They could also identify a paragraph by saying, “The paragraph that begins with (word or words).”

c – Line number in the paragraph.

d – The sentence – ask them to state a word or two at the beginning of the sentence where the change is to be made to help you find it.

e – Ask them to please repeat the sentence as it is NOW supposed to read AFTER the change(s) has been dictated so you’re sure you didn’t delete something you shouldn’t have or that you DID delete the correct word(s) and type in the changes correctly. This is especially important when making many changes in the same paragraph.

Example: Page two, second paragraph beginning with the word (word), third line, the sentence that begins with (the word).

7 – When the person dictating gives you a word or two to identify the paragraph or sentence, you may be able to use the Find feature to go right to the exact place in the sentence to make the change(s). NOTE: This will only work correctly if you are given two to three words to identify the exact place where the change is to be made. Using the Find feature can save a lot of time.

8 – Ask the person dictating to please pronounce the words clearly. Many people who talk fast or have an accent don’t realize it’s much harder to make the correct changes and/or corrections if they don’t speak slowly. Words and/or letters that sound alike can easily be misunderstood when a person speaks too fast.

9 – If from time to time a word is spelled out and if the first letter in the word is one of the letters that sound alike, b, c, d, e, g, p, t, and z, ask the person dictating to use that letter in a word. Example: A as in apple, B as in boy, C as in Charles, D as in David, etc. If they don’t make the first letter clear so you can make out the entire word, you could find yourself backspacing over and over to figure out what that word is.

10 – As the person dictating is going through the document page by page, if they skip to another paragraph and/or another page, ask that they clearly identify where the next change is.

Example: “The next five paragraphs are okay. There are no changes. Skip to Page six, paragraph #2 that begins with the words ‘There are’, Line #3 and the Sentence that begins with the word ‘Although’.”

11 – If the entire sentence or paragraph is to be deleted, they should make this very clear as well as when they want something added i.e. “Right after the word(s) (words), add this….” or “Delete the rest of the paragraph.” Then they should restate the sentence or paragraph exactly as it should read now (after the changes).

12 – If one or more sentences in a paragraph are to be switched around with no changes, the NEW order they want the sentences placed in should be clearly stated FOLLOWED by restating the paragraph as it should now read (after the changes). The same applies if they switch paragraph order or the order of words in the same sentence. These changes can be very confusing if they are not stated clearly.

13 – In order to ensure these procedures are followed, type a list of the procedures to give to the person dictating. Be sure you let them know that by following these procedures, you will be able to finish the changes and/or corrections much faster and accurately.

14 – Below is a list of directions to suggest to the person dictating to help ensure the correct changes are made:

“Take out everything after…….”

“End that paragraph with…….”

“Continue with….”

“Go on with…..”

“The rest of the paragraph (or sentence) is the same.”

“Underline, bold, italicize, highlight, etc. the words (words)……”

“Switch sentence #1 with #4. I want the last sentence to now be the first sentence and the last sentence to now be the first sentence.”

The next three features are optional. However, when you have long document, it can make your job much easier if you learn to use these features. If you don’t already know how to turn on these features, search the Help in your version of Word or other word processing program for instructions on how to turn these features on or off.

15 – Use the Track Changes feature in Word to track and compare the versions in your document.

16 – Use the Strikeout or Strikethrough feature for text you want to delete. Using this feature, the program will draw a red line through (Strikethrough) the word(s) to be deleted while leaving the word visible for editing/proofing purposes until the Strikeout (word to be deleted) has been approved. If you erroneously used this feature or the person dictating changed their mind, the feature can be turned off returning the word(s) back to normal.

17 – Immediately after NEW text that is to replace deleted text (Strikeouts), the new text should be Highlighted (Red Lined) by changing the text color to Blue (or some other color that stands out) or bolding it to make it stand out. This will clearly indicate that the text to be deleted will be replaced by the text in Blue.

Example: Strikethrough. Red Line

Once your changes have been approved, you can go back and delete the word to be deleted and change the NEW text to the correct font color.

NOTE: This article is one small part of one of the chapters in each of my two books to be published late in 2016 or early 2017; Dictation Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts and How to Establish, Build and Run a $ucce$$uful Secretarial Service From Home.

Food for thought: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” (Norman Vincent Peale)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

Timing your work for billing and/or personal purposes with a computer program.

TIME STAMP – A Computer TIMING pROGRAM

Have you ever had a need to time a job or have your employee(s) or sub-contractor(s) time their work for billing purposes? Have you ever wanted to keep track of the time it takes you to perform a task, type a manuscript or other task? If so, then this tip is for you.

When I started my home-based secretarial services business in January, 1998, I was faced with the dilemma of how to charge for my services. I quickly found that charging everything by the hour was not practical especially when you sub-contract typing and transcription work to others. Some sub-contractors type faster (and more accurately) than others so charging customers and paying sub-contractors using an hourly rate didn’t work.

I knew I had to charge either by-the-typed line or by-the-typed page. But how could I come up with a charge that would result in the hourly rate I wanted for both myself and my sub-contractors. I decided on a per-typed-line rate based on a 12 point Arial font with 1” margins, single spaced.

When you charge the customer by the typed line rate instead of by the page, the customer doesn’t pay for a partial page or for more pages because the document is double-spaced. The customer would pay the same rate whether the page was the standard letter size (8 ½” x 11”), legal size (8 ½” x 14”) or any other size. This is fair to the customer and to the sub-contractors.

The only way I could determine the time it takes to complete each of the different types of jobs I do, typing and transcription work in particular, was to keep track of my time and keep records. But how could I do that efficiently, accurately and fairly?

Searching the internet, I found a small, easy to download and install utility timing program called Time Stamp. Time Stamp has many great features I list at the end of this article.

To find the program, click on this link: (URL) Syntap.

Using Time Stamp to time the typing and/or transcription jobs I was able to determine the time it took to do the job. I timed typing and/or transcription work from handwritten material, documents that contained many strikeouts and handwritten notes, documents that contained tables, financial information, technical terms, etc. I timed transcription from cassette tapes, videos, and digital content based upon the quality of the recording and the quality of the person dictating. I timed transcription from meetings where many people were involved and meetings with questions and answers and many interruptions.

I then counted the number of words typed in the timed job and divided the total minutes by the total number of words. Using this formula I was able to determine a fair rate to charge the customer according to the type of source documentation provided by the customer to be typed or transcribed. I paid my sub-contractors sixty percent of what I charged the customer. This worked out perfectly thanks to Time Stamp.

Many of the jobs I’ve done i.e scanning and converting to text jobs, special formatting, etc. can’t be charged by-the-typed line so I use this program for accurate invoicing of those jobs as well.

I used Time Stamp to estimate how long other types of work took to do so I could determine an estimate when a prospective customer called. I made a chart in Excel with all of this information and kept it handy to give customers a quote either over the phone or by email.

If you decide to try the program, go to the web site listed above. Click on Downloads and follow the instructions from there. This program is FREE… well actually, it’s “Donationware” which means it’s free but the author would appreciate a contribution to continue enhancements and support, which I gladly sent because this program is well worth it. If you decide to use the program, I’m sure you will agree.

To use the program after you install it:

1) Type in the hourly rate you wish to charge and click on Timing.

2) If you are interrupted before you finish the job, click on Slacking.

The timer will divide the time into Work (billable) Time and Slack Time listed at the top listing the total time and cost for each.

You can time different phases of a job by stopping the timer then starting it again.

3) To stop timing the job, simply click on Timing a second time.

Each phase of the job you time will be listed on a different line containing the work time, slack time and total of that phase of the job.

At the end of each line under the Notes column, you can type a short explanation of what you did during that time.

The file can be saved using a file (job) name in any folder you wish. When you’re finished with the job, you can print out the entire page showing all of this information.

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If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books. I hope to publish my first novel, Road Rage Dolls: Someone is Murdering Road Rage Drivers in 2021.

My second novel to be published in 2018 is titled Susan’s Stalkers – Double The Fear.

Food for thought: What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” (Ralph Marston )

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 7: Typing, Copying, Printing and Commercial Publication

Part 7 (the final part of this 7-part series) contains information regarding saving your book to a CD or DVD, printing and publication options, creating a PowerPoint presentation or an e-book.

Once your book is complete, typed and ready to be distributed, you need to decide how you want it published. The following are options to consider:

Saving your book to a CD or DVD: This is the least expensive way to distribute your book in several ways. You save on the cost of paper, ink, and mailing.

Keep in mind that the only way anyone can view your family history will be on a computer screen, a DVD player or on a TV screen with a DVD player connected.

*  If you save the book as a Word or text document, anyone can make changes to your file. If you do not want anyone else to be able to make changes, consider password protecting the document so no one else but you can make changes.

*  You can save the document in PDF format which will prevent anyone from making changes. PDF files are easier to read. To read a PDF file will require the reader(s) to have a computer or a tablet or other file reader unless you save it to a DVD formatted for an external DVD player.

*..If you save the book to a DVD, be sure the format is one that can be universally read by all DVD’s. Check the save to DVD instructions in your DVD software program.

*  If you save the book to a CD or a DVD, be sure to check the size of your file.

Double-check the format. Not everyone has Blue-Ray compatible players so you may not want to purchase Blue-Ray DVD’s. To learn more about Blue-Ray format, check online.

If you have quite a few pictures and document images, it probably won’t fit on a CD and may not even fit on just one DVD. You can save it to two or more discs by splitting the file into however many parts are necessary to make them fit. If you do have to split your file, be sure to add a first and last page to indicate the file is in X number of files and which part this disc is.

If you do NOT want someone to be able to make any changes to your files, I suggest you use regular CD-R’s or DVD-R’s NOT CD-RW (Read/Write) or DVD-RW discs.

Here is the URL to a site that can give you information about size and capacity of these discs:

Link to site with CD and DVD size information

Printing: You can either print copies of your book yourself at home using your own printer or use an outside copy service. Per page copy prices whether you copy them yourself using your printer or using a copy service will vary depending upon the following factors:

*  Printing two-sided pages (printing on the front and the back of each page).

*  Printing in color or black print only.

*  Using a laser printer or an inkjet printer. If you decide to print the book yourself and intend to use an inkjet printer, depending upon the number of pages, this could be costly… more than using a copy service. Be sure to call different copy/printing services for prices before you decide. If you want your book printed in color, ask the service if they use laser color printers or inkjet. Most copiers today use laser printers.

Binding:

*  Printing on 3-hole punch paper for insertion and distribution in a folder or 3-ring binder. When you are estimating the cost to print one book, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the folders or 3-ring binders in addition to the cost of the paper.

*  Coil binding. This can only be done using a copy service. NOTE: One of the advantages to coil binding and printing on 3-hole punched paper is that if you or any other family member should want to add pages to the book later, it can easily be done.

*  Perfect or soft binding (pages glued together at the spine). This type of binding is usually used for paperback publications. However, if your copy service will do this for a reasonable price, it’s a nice finishing touch to your book.

PowerPoint Presentations:  Your text and all the pictures and images can be imported and saved in a PowerPoint Presentation. Voice recordings, video clips, music, narration, and special effects can be added. Presentations can be saved to CD’s or DVD’s with menus to send to family members or uploaded to one of many sites online that only you and your designated family members and friends can view.

As for the cost if you don’t know how to create a PowerPoint presentation yourself, there are many services that can do this for you.

E-Books:  E-books require special formatting to create in order to read them on a tablet, Kindle, Nook, computer or other ebook reading device. There are many ebook publishing services that offer this type of formatting.

Cost: Keep in mind that the more pictures and documents you have, the higher the cost will be especially if you want the book printed in color. The cost to put your book together can include any or all of the following:

*  Typing of the text and Table of Contents

*  Pictures and document scanning, cropping, size scaling, adding text titles, image editing (if necessary), and insertion into the file.

*  The time to save each photograph and/or document as a file then combine them in the desired order.

*  Printing costs vary depending upon the number of pages.

*  Printing in color will cost more than in black only.

*  Special paper. If you choose special paper, this will cost more.

*  Binding costs if you choose to have your book bound.

The text portion of your book:  Most likely you’re going to do the writing or typing yourself. You may even be able to scan the pictures and documents yourself. If you know how to scan images and insert them into a document and if you know how to save a document to a CD, you might not have to pay for anything more than the cost of the CD’s.

If you don’t need many copies, you can print them at home. Remember that color copies with pictures can use up a lot of ink. It might be cheaper to save the file to a CD and take it to a copy service to have copies made.

You may be thinking, “I can’t afford to publish or print a book nor do I even want to.” It doesn’t have to be a published book. Once you have ALL of the material put together in a computer file, you can take the file to any printer or most office supply store and have copies run off for your family. You can also save copies to CD’s or DVD’s for distribution. The cost is not all that much. Price what the cost of one book will be, before you.

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you.If you found this article useful, I would love to hear from you.

In 2021 I plan to put all seven parts together into one ebook that can be downloaded in many formats from this site or from Smashwords.com. Check back with this site and the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles  to find out when it will be published.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 6: Putting everything together for typing

My Great-Great-Grandmother Nancy Ann

Part 6 of this 7-part article contains information about assembling all of the information you’ve gathered to prepare for typing it up for publication.

If you are going to give all of the information you’ve gathered to someone to type for you, it is imperative you keep everything about each family member (chapter content) together in their own large marked envelope including the chapter number on the front of the envelope and the chapter heading. You may prefer to use file folders and write this information on the front of the folder.

Inside the envelope or folder, include your handwritten or typed summaries and other notes for the typist in addition to the photographs and document images to be included in this chapter.

If someone else is going to be typing your book for you, in each envelope/folder, be sure to reference on your handwritten or typed notes, each picture by number, names of the people in the picture and other information that identifies the photo or document. Make notes of what title you want the typist to type under each photo and/or document image on the page in the book.

Include notes for the typist where the image should be inserted, i.e. on the same page as your notes, on the top, bottom, or back of the page or on a page of its own. If you want multiple pictures or document images inserted, be sure to note for the typist in what order they are to be inserted and if you want more than one image on the same page. Number them clearly.

All of the family history journals/books I typed and formatted for publication for customers, were either dictated on cassette tapes, digital wav files for transcription or given to me as handwritten or typed material. I then scanned all of the photographs and documents as JPG images to be inserted in the final document.

You might want to consider placing all of the images/photos you want on the same page in small envelopes with notes attached to the outside as to what titles you want under each image and in what order on the page they should be placed. Then place the smaller envelope with the images and your notes inside the appropriate large envelope or folder.

If you already have scanned JPG images, copy them to a CD or DVD and give them to your typist to insert into your typed book. Remember that some or many of the photos may need enhancements especially if they’re old and possibly even bent or cracked.

Examples of the various chapters of your book and what they should contain:

The beginning of the book:

The Title page (The very first page): Think of an appropriate and unique title. Consider adding a logo, family photograph, a collage of family pictures or your family crest.

The Sutherland Clan Crest

If you are going to type the information in your book yourself in Word or another word-processing program, be sure a blank page follows the Title page. That way when your book is printed, the blank page will be on the other side of the Title page.

About the Author:  Write some background information about you, why you wrote this book, and when you wrote it. Add a picture of yourself. Mention where you’re living and where you were born. Use your imagination. Make it short (about one page or less) yet interesting.

Acknowledgment and Dedication Page:  This is the page where you may want to acknowledge any assistance you received and dedicate the book to one or more people.

Table of Contents:  Here you’ll list the chapters and page numbers. This will be the last thing you fill in after the book is complete with all of the chapters typed and pictures inserted.

Introduction:  Elaborate more on what prompted you to write the book and some background about you, your current family, and ancestry. One customer I typed/formatted a book for inserted maps of the area her family was from in Russia. She added copies of information she found online about the ships her ancestors sailed to the U.S. from Russia on. She elaborated on where they came from to familiarize a reader with the family in general and what to expect to find in the book i.e. stories about her family both in Russia and in America as related by each family member.

Sections:  Each surname family should be in their own section i.e. a section for your father and his side of the family, one section for your mother and her side of the family and maybe even another section for close friends. You and your siblings will most likely be included in all of the sections with different photos and notes about special events and memories.

The chapters in each section:  Each family member should have their own chapter complete with pictures and document images. Name the chapters after the family member the chapter is about. This makes it much easier when you’re putting the book together or browsing through the published book. If you have one long file, it makes it harder to find the section and chapter you want to add the information to or if you want to go directly to a specific family member’s chapter.

Because you’re going to have different sections by surname i.e. Jones (father’s) section and Smith (mother’s) section of your book, it would help if you name the envelope or folder you are going to store your notes, writings and images as follows:

The section name first then the family member name (Chapter in the section):

Jones Section – Emily Jones

Jones Section – name, etc.

Smith Section – Dolly Smith

Smith Section – name, etc.

In the next and final part of this article, Part 7, we discuss the various copy, printing, and/or publication options.

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found series this useful.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 5: The writing process; ideas to write about.

My GreatGrandfather George Sutherland Kibby

Now we begin the writing process. You can do this by writing, typing or dictating/ recording your ideas.

I recommend you put all of your ideas and thoughts down as a first draft and come back to it later. You’ll find you may want to do several drafts until it’s perfected. Things you didn’t think of when you wrote the first draft will pop into your mind later. You may decide to take something out or elaborate more on one particular subject of part of a story.

Now the following may get a bit confusing but I’m going to try my best to explain.

As I’ve mentioned previously, you’re going to want to create a section for each family surname (your father’s last name and your mother’s maiden name). There will of course be some duplication but don’t worry about that. You’re going to write one chapter about each family member under each surname and reference the chapters in the Table of Contents. Yes, when you’re done with the book, you’re going to create a Table of Contents.

For example: Judy Jones’ father’s surname is Jones.  Her mother’s maiden name is Smith. She would have two sections; one for Jones and one for Smith.

Judy would write stories about herself in a chapter in the Jones section (her father’s surname) but not necessarily in the Smith section (her mother’s maiden name). An alternative would be for Judy to write a completely different story about herself to go in the Smith section; events etc. that relate mostly to her mother’s side (the Smith side) of Judy Jones’s family. The choice is yours. I personally wrote different chapters about myself and chapters about my brother to go in both sections, my father’s and my mother’s side of our family thus avoiding duplication of the same material i.e. the same material in two sections.

In the Table of Contents, Judy’s name would be listed under the Jones section AND under the Smith section. If Judy had decided to only write one story/article about herself in the Jones section and NOT in the Smith section, she could make a reference in the Smith section back to the Jones section, i.e. (refer to the Section on Jones.)

But we’ll get to sections and chapter creation for individual family member stories later on.

Suggested topics for the written material:

Memorable parties or get-togethers with friends from school, work, college, an organization you belong to or neighbors (current and former).

Over the hill birthday parties

Engagement parties

Batchelor parties

Were any of your family members a member of an organization and served as an officer or did something noteworthy? You may want to include any recognition documents i.e. certificates of merit.

Military service

Events that happened way back then that are nonexistent today. I can remember when photographers would go door to door and take pictures of children on a pony. I have one of my brother and I.

Do you remember milk tokens, ordering milk from a delivery milkman (the top was always the cream), returnable bottles for refund, ration stamps during WWII, rag men who rode in horse drawn carts collecting paper and rags, mood rings, secret ID rings in cereal boxes, maple syrup in a can shaped like a log cabin, crystal sets, Barbie dolls, G.I. Joe dolls, etc.

All of these things should be very interesting to your younger family members today and in the future.

Mood rings

Mezpah

Mustard Seed Jewelry

Radio Broadcasts (before TV)

Commercials

If these things were before your time, ask your family members and friends. Look them up online. Adding these things to your story will make your book that much more interesting to your readers especially for future generations.

Have you saved your old address and phone number books? I have and so did my mother. I found names and addresses for people I had forgotten about long ago. Seeing the names triggered memories I then wrote about. I used the old addresses for relatives who have passed away as part of my stories. I also looked up some of the addresses for close relatives in Google Earth and saved pictures of the residence to include in my stories. Even if the person you’re writing about has been gone for many years, it is still interesting to those reading about them to see where they used to live especially if the person reading it is also a relative.

To make stories more interesting, especially when you don’t have any pictures of the person you’re writing about, I added images from Google Earth showing the area where an ancestor lived… even the house itself… if I had the address. I downloaded pictures from the internet of what the area looked like when they lived there i.e. my Great-Grandfather was born in 1840 in Spencer, Tompkins County, New York and lived in Chemung, New York. I searched and found several picture postcards on the internet of what Chemung, New York looked like in the 1800’s. (Refer to the pictures at the top of this article.)

For example a business card may remind you of a friend you knew a long time ago and some things you did together.  If you kept all of your own business cards, they could be scanned and included in your book to serve as a visual illustration of your promotional climb at work.

Examples:  My uncle Bill passed away in 1959. He was born in Brooklyn, NY. I happened to find the address in some of my father’s things after he passed away. I looked up the address in Google Earth, found the residence and saved the picture for the story about Uncle Bill.

My father was born in Buffalo, NY in my Aunt’s home. I found the address, looked it up in Google Earth and saved the picture of the home to add to my story about my father.

Through research, I found out that my great-great-grandfather lived in a little town called Spargurville, in Highland County near Rainsboro, Ohio. I didn’t know the address but I looked up the town in Google Earth and saved several pictures of Spargurville. I also looked up some history of Spargurville and added that to my story.

For example I found out my GGGGrandfather came to America from Ireland in 1790 with his father and fought in the American Revolution. I wrote to the government archives and obtained a copy of a handwritten account of his service, how he fought for two years escorting settlers to safety from the area around Pittsburg, PA to the Philadelphia area during the Indian uprisings just before the revolution. He then reenlisted for another two years and guarded the British prisoners after the fall of Yorktown. I found that three GGrandfathers fought in the Civil War, two on the side of the Union and one in the Army of the Confederacy. Two of them almost died of Typhoid fever and one was captured and held in a Confederate prison. I found a lot of historical information I never read about in school.

Include friends. You might even want to add a section for those special lifelong friends as well.

Look up stories and pictures about the time your relatives were born and lived: It makes your stories more interesting if you add in interesting bits and pieces about where they were born and lived especially if they came from another country and you know the time period.

Example:  My great-grandfather George Sutherland was born in Inverness, Scotland. (His picture is above.) I do not know when but, judging by my grandmother’s age, I estimate it must have been around 1850 or 1860. I looked up the history of Scotland and found pictures of Inverness, Scotland around that time. I also knew that my great-grandfather was a member of the Black Watch. I looked it up and found pictures and information about the Black Watch. I added those stories and pictures to the story about my great-grandfather.

Be sure to do a search for all the surnames you want to write about in your book. This may sound crazy but someone may have already started a site for one of those names.  I found a site for my maiden name with a lot of very interesting facts. I also found out there is an entire book written about my maiden name going back to the 1,600’s. The book contains names, birth dates, death dates, last known city and state, who they married, information about them and their children with dates and a complete lineage of ancestors for each name in the book. My name and my entire family are in that book and I didn’t even know it.

Potential Problems:

Below I’ve listed just a few facts. To learn more, there are FAQ files in many ancestry searching sites online.

  1. When you’re doing research, you’ll find it’s difficult tracing women because of married names especially if they’ve been divorced and married again. Obtaining Social Security records when possible can yield a lot of information regarding maiden names.
  2. When you go back two or three generations, you’ll find most men didn’t have middle names which makes it difficult to pin down a specific name especially if it’s a commonly used last name. You’ll need as much information as you can about that person to definitely identify him i.e. age, where he lived, who he married, how many children he had and their names, where he was born and when.
  3. Only fragments remain of the 1890 Census report. The building they were housed in burned down. For more information on all of the Census reports every done, go to http://www.censusfinder.com. This site contains a lot of good information about all of the census reports.
  4. In the beginning, Census Takers went door to door and wrote things down by hand. As a result, you’ll find many errors with name spelling and other information. In addition, errors occurred when the records were converted to computer files because the typist couldn’t make out the handwriting or made typing errors i.e. spelling, etc.
  5. Obtaining records from the states of New York, Pennsylvania and New England states can be very difficult and daunting because that is where most of the people immigrated to and settled before the American Revolution. Many people were born at home so there are no records. Checking ship and Ellis Island records can be helpful if you know approximate dates.
  6. Immigrants and settlers came into America through New York (Ellis Island), North and South Carolina and even through Nova Scotia and down through Canada.

Family members should be listed in the order of their position of hierarchy in the family (see the basic sample illustration below). Most ancestry sites provide a variety of hierarchy listings to guide you.

To make it clearer to your readers, in addition to the Table of Contents, consider creating a list for each family member showing the relationships.

Sample Hierarchies:

GGGGGrandfather

GGGGrandfather

GGGrandfather

GGrandfather

Grandfather

Father

You

Your children

Your Grandchildren

Your GGrandchildren

If you have a video on a CD, DVD or even a VCR tape, pictures can be taken from the video (a frame) and saved as a snapshot for insertion into your book.

If you pass on a CD or DVD to family members, hopefully, one of your relatives or more might decide to continue on and keep adding to it making this a perpetual living family album. This would be your legacy to your family.

Refer to the various pictures in your text. If you have titles under the pictures with short explanations, this will help cut down on the text you have to type.

I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts.  The next post is Part 6 – Putting everything together for your book .

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Journal for publication is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found this series useful.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 4: Organizing and Cataloging Pictures and Documents

My Great-Grandmother with my grandfather and my great-aunts and uncles.

On to organizing and cataloging all the material you’ve gathered for your book thus far.

1)  Now that you’ve sorted the pictures, documents and mementos by family member and section into piles, go back through them to be sure you’ve picked the best ones to t in your book. If your funds to print the book are limited, this will be especially important. The more pictures and document images you include, the more pages there will be in the book which will raise the printing or copy cost per book especially if the book is going to be printed in color. However, if you are going to save the book to a CD or a DVD or create a PowerPoint presentation, video/movie or e-book to distribute on CD’s or DVD’s, the printing cost will not be an issue. The cost of CD’s and DVD’s are much less than printing, copying or publishing. We discuss printing costs in the last chapter.

2)  Once you’ve picked all the pictures, documents and mementos you want to use, sort the items in order by age starting with the youngest first. Stories should usually begin when the person was the youngest and lead up to the present time.

3) On a legal pad or notebook page, write each family member’s name at the top of the page. Create a separate page for every family member you are going to include in your book or, if you created an Excel Workbook, enter the information in the appropriate page.

4) Once you’ve written a family member’s name at the top of the page, number down the side leaving every other line empty.

5) Number each picture and document on the back lightly in pencil. For some pictures or documents you can use post-it sticky notes to place numbers on them so as not to deface the picture or document.

6) How many times have you looked at a photo and wondered who the people were, when was the photo taken, where and what was the event? The stories in your book will be much more realistic, interesting, and meaningful if you identify each photo or document you use in your book using the names of the people in the picture, dates, where the picture was taken, the event and other meaningful information. Identifying the pictures and documents will make the reader (including you) feel they were there too and a part of the story especially if the reader is a family member who knows or knew the person the chapter is about or was there at the event. Ask friends and family members if they can help you identify the people in the photo and the date, if possible.

Below are some recommendations:

a)  The person, place, and date the picture was taken including month, day and year and any other significant information to identify it.

Examples:

Mom playing baseball at the family picnic on the Fourth of July, 1997.

OR

Don Smith, Jim Jones and Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.

b)  Consider adding some descriptions or comments either in the title or description in the picture or document image or in the story directly below.

Examples:  “My hair was much longer there then than it is now.”, “This picture was taken after the accident.” “This is our old house in the background.” OR  “This was my first car, a 1950, Chevy convertible. Boy I loved that car.”

c)  Name the people in the order they appear in the picture from left to right.

d)  If the picture has more than one row of people, identify them as: Back Row: John Smith and Jim Jones, Front row, Sally Jones and I.

e)  If all the people are in one row, identify them this way: Left to Right, John Smith, Jim Jones, Sally Jones and I.

f)  It helps to use last names because some people, including distant relatives or future relatives might not know the people or remember them in the future including you. People change and you might not recognize them later.

Example:

Left to Right: My first cousins Don and John Smith, Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.

OR

Back Row:  My first cousins Don and John Smith

Bottom Row:  Sally Jones and I at Sally’s engagement party at (place), June 1, 2000.

g)  You might even want to put ages in. Example: “This is a picture of me at grandma Smith’s house in Cleveland in 1965. I was only two years old then.”

h)  Place each picture in the book on the same page as you write about the event even if it’s just a short sentence. When you write about the event, reference the picture. Example: (See picture above or below).

i)  If you decide you want to use the same picture in several different sections of the book, make a note of that in the family member’s identification sheet.

Example after you have written the complete description, write: This picture to also be used in the section or sections (name) in the chapter or chapters for (name).

An alternative to placing the same picture in more than once section or chapter might be to make a reference on the page you’re writing to the page where the picture or document is located. Example:  See section (name), chapter (name), page (number).

7)  Next, go to one family member’s pile of pictures and documents. Find the page you created for that family member in Step #3 (or go to the page in your spreadsheet) with that family member’s name on it.

8)  Choose the first image or document you previously numbered in Step #5 (i.e. Item #1) that you want to include in this family member’s chapter and write the information recommended in Step 6 about that image on Line #1 of the page. This information is the information that will be typed below the image in the book. The information can either be typed in the picture or document image itself as a title or in the story under the image. This is especially important if you are going to add the information to the image itself as a title at the bottom of the image.

9)  Continue doing this with every picture and document you’ve gathered for that same family member. When done, put everything including the list in the envelope.

10)  Follow this same procedure for every family member.

11)  Sort all the envelopes containing pictures and documents by family surname, most likely two piles; one pile of envelopes for your father’s family section and one for your mother’s family section (her maiden name). For family members branching off under different surnames, we’re going to make sub-sections under the main sections, etc. If you had a step-mother or step-father, they would have their own sections. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Don’t worry about a family member needing to be listed in more than one section. I’ll cover that and make this clearer in the next part of this article. For now we’re going to just have two piles; one for your father’s side of the family and another for your mother’s side. We’ll break them down later.

An example would be:

Chapters about your father’s family to be included in your father’s section would be the following in this order:

First would be a chapter about your father’s mother and father (your grandparents)

Next, a chapter about your father.

Next, your father’s sisters and/or brothers (your aunts and uncles)

Your aunts and uncles children (your cousins)

Your cousin’s children etc.

Chapters about your mother’s family would go in her section under her maiden name in the same order. The same would apply to step-parents, brothers and sisters.

12)  Now write the surname (Section name) for each family member on each of the envelopes that belong to that family name above their name and number them in order by oldest family member first, youngest last. (See above.)

The next article in this article is Part 5 – The writing process; ideas to write about.

I hope this 7-part article about putting together a Family History Book is helpful to you. I would love to hear from you if you found this series useful. I’m more than happy to help.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

Bookmark this site and be sure to check the Schedule of Future Posts and Past Articles Page. The schedule will be updated regularly.

When you subscribe to my website you will receive occasional email updates and notifications about new articles and short stories, my full novel publication dates, FREE ebook downloads, and future events and contests. Sign up using the Subscribe form below.

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 3: Suggested List of Pictures and Documents

My 6th grade class picture, can you guess which one is me? I’m right behing the teacher.

Gather all the items you think you want to include in your book. All pictures and documents will be scanned and saved as images that will be inserted into your family history book in the article about that person.

Include all of the family members you have information about. If you don’t know much about a family member, ask other family members. Get them involved in helping you create something that everyone will treasure for years. If your parents and grandparents are still living, be sure to talk with them. I didn’t get interested in my ancestry until after my parents and grandparents had passed away. I regret every day that I didn’t learn as much as I could from them before it was too late. I’m sure there were many memorable pictures, stories, and valuable documents that are long gone. Future generations of my family will now have a documented record they will value. My hope is that one or more of them will pass it on and continue to add to it making it a living legacy.

If there is a particular person or persons in your life who have been a significant part of your life but they’re not family members, consider adding them to your book in a separate section. Example; there are two women I’ve known all my life. Their parents double-dated with my parents before they were married. Their parents were like an aunt and uncle to me and their daughters my cousins. We still keep in touch through Facebook and email. I have many pictures of them and their parents. A family history wouldn’t be the same without them in it.

If someone else is going to edit and format your book for printing or publishing along with scanning your pictures and/or documents, do NOT make copies of pictures and/or documents to give to them. Copies of pictures and documents do NOT scan well. Use originals for scanning. Don’t discard or rule out old pictures or documents that may be cracked or faded. Originals of old pictures or documents can be enhanced and restored through the scanning process and use of a photograph/ document enhancement program. I’ve had old pictures that, after they were enhanced, looked almost as good as I’m sure the original did. If you have some pictures that need enhancing or resizing and don’t know how to do it, you may have to hire a professional to do this for you.

If you know how to scan pictures and plan to have someone else format the final book for publication including inserting the pictures with titles etc., scan the pictures and save them in JPG format. You can then copy them to a CD or DVD and give them to the person formatting your book for the final production.

If the pictures need resizing and/or enhancing and you don’t know how to do that, the person who will be doing the final formatting can probably help you with that as well. By the way, be sure to ask about that before you hire someone. You don’t want to have to hire two different people. That could get costly.

All of the items you gather will serve as “memory joggers” as well as illustrations as you write. As you read through this list many of these items will have significant meaning for you and help you to remember events that happened or topics you want to write about. There are many examples to assist you in Part 4 of this 7-part series.

Suggestion: Print and keep this list handy as a “memory jogger” as you begin the writing process. You may even want to print one copy for each family member and highlight the item on the list you want to write about. I’ve added a line to write in the family member’s name in case you would like to print a copy for a particular family member.

Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 3: Suggested List of Pictures and Documents”

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 2: Getting Started

My Junior Prom – 1952. I’m the second one from the right. I made my prom dress is sewing class.

Part 2 of this 7-part article assumes that you’ve read the Introduction and that you have an interest in writing a family history book or journal.

Your family history book is going to contain a chapter about every one of your family members going back as many generations as you can even if it is just one short paragraph or two. It should contain stories and as much information about them as you know and/or can locate. Note: you may wish to confine your book to current immediate family members only and not include and ancestors. That’s okay too.

Your family history book should include pictures and documents as part of your stories. Each chapter will serve as a short biography of this person including your connection and experiences involving the members you knew personally. You can make the chapters as short or as long as you want. Note: some of your immediate family members may be deceased. I suggest you write a short chapter about them with pictures anyway.

Your family history book is going to have sections containing the chapters. The minimum number would be two sections; one section for your mother’s side of the family (her maiden name) and one section for your father’s side of the family. You may want to add another section for special friends if you like or a step-parent or in-laws.

I go into more detail with many ideas of what you can do to make your book more interesting, colorful, real and “alive” in Part 4. If you have some ideas and suggestions you would like to share, please leave me a comment below and I’ll add them to Part 7 with recognition of your contribution using a first name or initials only.

If you want to get into genealogy researching to find out as much as you can about all of your ancestors as far back as possible, there are many sites on the internet to help you; some are free, others are by subscription. There are several very good computer programs that are reasonably priced that you can purchase and install on your computer, then enter your information and the program will organize lineage, your family tree and many other features including the ability to imbed images of documents and photographs, stories, etc. There may be classes offered on this subject online, through your local community center, school or an organization you belong to.

There are now DNA services where you send away a sample of your DNA and find out information about your heritage. More on this later.

Okay! Are you ready? Let’s get started. Below are the first steps.

In order to organize everything prior to writing and gathering pictures, documents and other items, you’re going to need the following:

Supplies:

  1. A package or box of 8 ½” x 11” mailing envelopes. (Very inexpensive.)The number of envelopes you need will depend upon how many people you’re going to write about. You’re going to use one envelope for each person to store all the pictures, documents and other mementos related to that person.
  2. You’ll need a package of sticky notes. I suggest you get the medium to larger size with plenty of room to write on.
  3. A pad of legal paper or lined notebook paper.
  4. Several colored Highlighter pens.

Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 2: Getting Started”

How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 1: Introduction

The woman standing up is my grandmother with her sister – 1912

Welcome to Part 1 – The Introduction of the 7-part series on How to Create a Family History Journal for Publication.

Have you ever thought about or wanted to create a journal or book about your family containing stories, pictures, and information about your current family and your ancestors; something permanent you can share with your family now and pass along to future generations? A journal about your family member that can continue to be added onto as time goes on?

If so, be sure to read this 6-part article with instructions about what to do to create and document your family history as well as ideas of what to include. Creating your family history may be a little time consuming at first but the rewards are well worth it. You can start with some of the items you probably already have in your possession. Maybe you have already begun making notes about events and meaningful experiences.

It’s not as difficult or costly as you might think. Part 6 of this article contains information regarding copying, printing, publication options, and approximate cost.

Your book would not only serve as a valuable piece of family history for you and your family to enjoy, it would be something you will have fun creating. Your book would be something you will enjoy going back through from time to time to bring back memorable events you can relive in your mind over and over again.

Creating a book about your family and ancestors is an important way of converting and preserving memories forever with the printed word, pictures, video clips, and recorded narrations. You could use the book to create a PowerPoint presentation, home movie or an e-book.

History of how I came to write this series: I transcribed and put together a family history book for one of my customers. It contained 500 pages and 350 photographs and images of important documents. The final printed copy was one inch thick. Continue reading “How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 1: Introduction”

Emergency Computer & Computer Software Preparation

If you had to leave your home (evacuate) at a moment’s notice for any reason i.e. fire, hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster, what about your valuable computer software programs, and files?

If your computer hard drive crashes or your computer is infected with a virus and you need to completely reformat or replace your hard drive, are you prepared?

If you purchase a new computer, laptop, or tablet and have to install everything from scratch including all the programs and important files you have saved, do you have everything you need at your fingertips?

In this post, I explain what I have done with all my computer programs and files. You have no idea how handy it is to have all your program discs and files on discs in one place when you need them even if you have an external backup drive. You can’t put your programs and all the information required to reinstall them on an external drive. You need the original discs. If you work with your computer a lot as I do, you never know when any of these things will occur.

Following this procedure will take a little time and effort, but trust me, it pays off. Take your time. It doesn’t have to be done in an hour or even a day.

If you don’t have a portable CD or DVD pouch carrier, purchase one. They are zippered, cloth 3-ring binders containing pages with compartments for each disc. They are fairly inexpensive, $17 to $20 for a binder that holds up to 48 discs. Be sure to purchase one that holds a minimum of 30 discs. (You may actually need two or more depending upon how many discs you have.)

  1. Gather all the discs that contain the installation program files for all the hardware on every computer you own i.e. modem, motherboard, Windows operating system, graphics boards, sound boards, DVD and/or CD drives, printers, mouse, scanners, cameras, etc. Sort them by category, i.e. graphics, hardware equipment, games, business software, personal software, etc.
  2. Regarding programs you downloaded, saved, and installed from the internet including updates to programs you have discs for, create a sub-directory on your hard drive under My Documents and name it Downloaded Programs. Copy all the downloaded setup or installation files for those programs to that directory. Hopefully you saved them. If not, try downloading them again. (You probably should anyway to be sure you have the more recent updated version.) When you have all of the setup or installation files located in that directory, burn (copy) them to Read/Writeable CD’s or DVD’s. (It may take more than one disc.) Be sure to include any programs you use when on the internet, i.e. your internet service provider connection program, browser software, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger, other chat programs, email programs, anti-spyware, anti-virus, etc.
  3. Sort all the CD’s or DVD’s by hardware installation programs and other software programs by category i.e. hardware installation, graphics-photographs, etc. Insert them in the disc pouch carrier. Include the disc(s) you created that contain the setup or installation files for programs you downloaded from the internet. I purchased a binder for each category then sorted the discs alphabetically inside the binder to make it easier to locate any particular disc I may need.
  4. Gather all the information you have for all of the program installation discs, i.e. Key ID numbers, Serial numbers, Product codes, passwords, etc.… all the information necessary to install or reinstall the programs if you should ever need to.
  5. Create information forms using a spreadsheet program. The square forms should be laid out 3″ by 3″ with six squares to a Page. Type in the following information: PROGRAM: VERSION #: #OF DISCS: PASSWORDS: KEYS OR CODES TO INSTALL: Put lines next to each item. Print the page and cut into squares. Now write in the information for each CD in the square and put that information form in the disc pouch over top of each CD/DVD it applies to. For the discs that contain multiple files or programs, complete a separate form with a list of those files/programs and any other information you will need. If you have more than one computer and have different brand names or model parts installed on different computers, write down what part it is, the model number, serial number and what computer the part is installed on. If you don’t know how to create the form in Excel or Word, write the information down on small pieces of paper.
  6. List all the downloaded programs you saved to a disc and put that list with the disc you created so you will know what is on that disc and the necessary installation information.
  7. Create a spreadsheet on your computer or write on a legal pad. List the names of all the installation discs and program discs along with all the necessary information you need for installation. Be sure to make notes that will be helpful during installation i.e. came with Windows XP or came with the modem. NOTE: some hardware installation discs also contain other programs on the same disc. List those programs and what disc they are on. Print the list and keep it with the pouch.
  8. You should also have an external backup drive so you can copy all your important files on a regular basis. If you don’t, a minimum of once a month (depending upon your computer usage) copy all the important files you have on your computer to Read/Write CD’s or DVD;s. (No need to make a list of all the files.) Put these discs in the pouch as well. Make note on a paper to keep in the pouch when the last date was that you copied files to the discs. ESPECIALLY do this if there is a hurricane warning and you only have a few days notice to get this done.

Now, if you have to evacuate or leave your home in an emergency situation for any reason you can just “grab” the pouch and your backup drive (if you have one) and go. You won’t have to worry about taking the entire computer with you. Even if you could take the computer i.e. laptop or a tablet, what about your program discs if something happens to your home and they are destroyed and you needed them for a new hard drive or computer in the future? If anything happens to your computer or the hard drive, you have all the necessary discs and information with which to install the programs and copy your files to another computer or hard drive.

Another suggestion, if you are inclined and have the time, go through all the programs you use, one at a time, list and type up all the preferences, defaults, user names, email log-ins you used and passwords. This will also save you hours of time and frustration because you probably won’t remember them all, should you ever need to reinstall everything on another computer, new or reformatted hard drive.

I hope you never need to reinstall but if use your computer on a daily basis as I do, sooner or later you will more than likely either have a serious enough problem to need to do a complete reinstall or you will want to upgrade to a newer more up-to-date computer or hard drive. Taking the time to do the steps above will save you valuable time and frustration. Be sure to keep the discs, installation information, and lists up-to-date each time you purchase a computer, new hardware, program, or upgrade.

If you purchase a new computer that comes with hardware installed, save those discs with all the installation information. Do the same if you change a hardware part i.e. a printer, modem or graphics board and no longer have the old part. To avoid confusion, discard discs for computers or hardware parts you no longer have.

There are special programs that will allow you to completely copy everything from one hard drive to another, but only if you know for certain there are no problems with the old drive depending upon how old it is. There could even be some hard drive compatibility issues. If there are problems with the old drive and you do a copy, you could be copying the problems too so most computer techs will probably tell you it’s best to do a fresh install. You wouldn’t even be able to do this if your hard drive is totally corrupted or something happens to your home and your computer is gone so please think about taking the time to do these steps. It may take a little time at first, but the benefits, convenience and time you will save later will by far outweigh the time it takes now. Do it now while there is no emergency. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

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If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site and browse the pages for my various books. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books.

Food for thought: “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope you enjoy my stories and I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to write about, just let me know by email at: GSKWAuthor@mindspring.com

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