Write your memoirs as your personal background check.

Leaving a Worthwhile Legacy

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #22–family on beach
(Photo courtesy of pdpics.com)

I had to look twice to recognize that the fish in the surf was my granddaughter. At age seven, she shares my joy of the beach.
Though I stand safely a few feet into the water, she goes out beyond the breaking waves with her dad, preparing to ride the next “big one” on her boogie board. Sometimes she washes to shore with the tide, at other times the force pulls her under, and she soon surfaces sputtering and wiping her eyes, already anticipating the next ride.
There is something joyful about watching your family embrace love, I’m sure God shares that feeling as He watches us reveling in the wonders He intentionally provided for us.
I see Him smile when I relax against the backdrop of swishing waves, or when I find that one perfect shell, or smell the scent of fish and salt carried in the wind. In spite of the happiness over my granddaughter loving the beach, my greater joy comes from having her beside me in church, knowing my God is her God.
I am blessed to have all of my grandchildren, those living close and those hundreds of miles away, in church on Sundays. Although the credit is not all mine, this is the legacy I am most proud of.
What are you sharing with our family? Do they share your love of volunteering, or crafting, or running?
Can they make homemade noodles as well as you? Do they can green beans in spite of the work?
Most importantly have you shared God with them? Can they see the Savior in your life?
Not all of our children will follow or ways, but we have the responsibility to try. Spend some time in prayer this week, my friends, for your family—those in the faith, and those still yearning for the love of God.
Thanks to Regina for sharing. Check out Regina’s website and look for book, Deadly Decision, coming out October, 2014.

Remembering Childhood Pets

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #21 What kind of pets did you have? What memory do you have of a pet?


I had a pet coon named Flossie. Coons are very curious and smart. I walked outside one day with food in my hand. Flossie was tied to a tree on a long rope. She came to me and I put the food in my pocket so I could pet her. She climbed up my leg put her front paw in my pocket and took my food out. She got down, carried the food to her water dish, washed then ate it.
This started a big game between the two of us. I would bring something out in my pocket. She would race to me, climb up my leg and dig it out. If I didn’t have food in my pocket she took whatever I had– knife, change, keys etc.–wash it and try to eat it. If she couldn’t eat it or I didn’t have anything in my pocket, she bounced up and down squawking and throwing a temper tantrum like a little kid. It was dangerous to get too close to her when she got mad. She was subject to bite.
Mom and Dad thought it was real cute to see her take food from my pocket until a visiting preacher stopped by our house for dinner. He walked over where Flossie was lying. She was not tied that day, because she wouldn’t leave the yard.
Before anyone could warn him, Flossie captured him by the leg and started climbing up. This was a tall, long-legged preacher. He hollered real loud and danced around, shaking his leg, trying to loose himself from that coon. The more he shook his leg and hollered, the tighter Flossie hung on. I think Flossie was as scared as the preacher and afraid to turn loose.
Dad raced out to help rid the preacher of the coon. He had trouble catching him, since he was circling the yard at a rapid pace. As for me, I was doubled over laughing like crazy. For this, I got a serious reprimand after the preacher left our house, which wasn’t very long. I was also ordered to put the leash back on Flossie.
(LaVelle Pitts’ memoirs)

Writing Memoirs, an Encouragement

quotation marks“There’s a world of wisdom in our personal stories. Your life is a legacy, a gift that only you can give. Why waste something so precious?”

“Too many Americans have ignored their ancestors and family history and not bothered to examine their own life stories, much less share them with others. They too rarely share much of their past lives with friends, or pass them on to their progeny. And yet we desperately need to do all that…” (Dr. Dolly Berthelot, an internationally published writer)

Remembering Family July 4th Celebrations

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck


Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #20
How did your family celebrated the 4th of July?

Writing Family into Fiction

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #19
Identify a family member ‘s story that could form the basis of a fiction book.

kathleen creek

Visiting author, Connie Lounsbury, used her grandmother’s true-life story to create a poignant tale of a mother’s love in the midst of unfathomable circumstances in Kathleen Creek (Oaktara, 2013).

Connie sends a message to memoir writers:

“I think everyone should write their life story for their family. Our descendants are going to want to know what their grandparents and great grandparents were like. How did they live their life? What did they learn?”

Kathleen Creek a splendid example for memoir writers to see how they might expand their family’s story.

Thank you, Connie, for sharing.
To learn more about her writing, visit her website at www.connielounsbury.com

Hop Along on a Blog Hop

Background Assignment #18
Today’s background assignment features a blog hop. In keeping with the theme, I decided to dedicate this entry to Hopalong Cassidy, cowboy hero of the western movies in the 1930’s and 40’s.

hop along

I thank Zoe M. McCarthy for inviting me to this blog hop in which bloggers post answers to questions about their writing practices. “Hop along” with me and visit some blog sites I believe you will enjoy and hopefully find something to jog your memory for writing your BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION. It is amazing to see the helpful information being posted in “cyberland.”
Visit Zoe’s blog: Creative in Everything zoemmccarthyblog.wordpress.com billed as “adding pizzazz to home, workplace, and volunteer activities,” and you can see her answers to the writing questions I am answering below.

What am I working on?
An inspirational romance, Surprise Marriage, about a floral designer who is handling the flowers for a high profile wedding and is surprised to learn she is legally married to the groom.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
A private investigator always makes an appearance in my stories.

Why do I write what I do?
I have an innate love for learning and developing writing skills has been a part of my educational interests over the years. As a youngster, for fun, I wrote storylines that played out like movies in my head. In elementary school, I enjoyed reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock stories. When given creative writing assignments, I liked to write some kind of mystery or a story with an unexpected twist.
A couple of years ago, I took a college level creative writing class to keep up my teacher certification. That sparked a new desire to write in earnest. Online I discovered a Christian writer’s workshop in South Carolina that fit in with a vacation my husband and I planned. Meeting with real writers was a thrill. Since then I have attended writers conferences, writing retreats and have discovered other Christian writers in my town. My goal is to learn the trade and write fiction to inspire and encourage others.
“For I am full of words and the Spirit within compels me.” Job 32:18
How does my writing process work?
Painstakingly. I have an overall idea, then choose the spiritual takeaway I want to convey. I rough draft the entire manuscript then go back and revise, cut, paste, slash scenes, insert others, contemplate and pray over the right words to use.

Other blogs to visit:
Phyllis Wheeler
Phyllis’s castlegatepress.com asks the question: Do you like your fiction with at least a hint of strange? Besides a “fantastic fiction” blog, her site has marketing tips, submissions requirements and information on the writing craft.
christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com is another blog, that as the name states, offers Christian fantasy book reviews. Included are archives since 2008 and an author search feature.

Renee Ann Smith
Renee’s Doorkeeper site http://reneeannsmith.com features such things as: Christian living, inspiring lives, book reviews and blogging helps that even gives a list of blog hops for each day of the week.

Kimberly Buckner
Kimberly’s ” Snippets and Snapshots” presents a wide variety of topics that touch the heart and thought processes. Her blog declares, “God’s up to something. And I want to see it.”

Happy Hopping!

A Royal Heritage

princess ever after 4
Could there be royalty in your background?

Welcome to guest author, Rachel Hauck. Her book, Princess Ever After, is a great example of a fictional background investigation in which the heroine discovers she is a royal princess.
Rachel sends a note of encouragement to memoir writers:
I kept diaries for 17 years. I wrote in a little red kid’s diary when I was six years old! I’m still baffled how or why I thought to record my life at that age, but I did. Not often but I did write things down.

Now I look back at those journals and laugh, blush, groan and smile. Above all, I remember my yesterdays, and all the good in my life. Yes, even in the struggles. It’s amazing to read about myself at 16, 17, in my own words. I feel so distant from that energetic, optimist girl at times but yet, I AM still that energetic, optimist girl and I think she’d be happy with the choices “we’ve” made in life.

For Princess Ever After, I wrote diary entries from the heroine’s Gram’s perspective. It was her writings that helped the heroine discover and accept her real identity.

I was talking to my sister about my diaries, wondering what to do with them since I have no children, and she assured me her children would love to have them. So, after carefully editing them, I think I’ll leave my yesterdays to my nieces and nephews. 🙂

Whether you’ve kept diaries, journals, or blogs of your life, you can tap into your memories to deepen your stories and your characters’ internal journey.

Happy Writing!
Thank you Rachel for great tips to writers working on their personal background investigation!

A Visiting Preacher

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #17
Did a visiting preacher, missionary or evangelist visit your home or church? What do you remember most about the visit?


Since my father was a preacher, our family was blessed with many visiting preachers. These guests helped thin out the chicken population on our farm. I really don’t remember learning much from these visiting preachers, because we were outside playing while the adults sat around talking and eating. The kids ate separately. In the 1940’s, when folks got together to eat they abided by the old code that children were to be seen, not heard, and ate last. Sometimes there were slim pickin’s.
One thing I did learn, when my mother cooked for a special visitor, she made extra pies, cakes and other goodies. The kids might have slim pickin’s when it came to the chicken, but we always had other good stuff to eat. (From LaVelle Pitts, memoirs)

A Lesson from Dad

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #16
What is a lesson you learned from your father?



Moving 100 lb. Sacks of Fertilizer
Sometimes I listened to my dad’s instructions, but many times his advice only aroused my curiosity until I tried what he told me not to do.
One day we loaded the mule wagon with several 100-pound sacks of fertilizer to put out on our plowed field. Dad knew about how far the fertilizer plow would go before it had to be refilled, so we were dropping off the bags at these locations. I was driving the wagon and my dad would drag a bag to the rear of the wagon, jump out, back up to the tail gate and gently pull the 100-pound sack onto his back. He then walked to the exact spot he wanted to leave it and dropped it. Naturally, I wanted to try this but Dad smiled and said, “No, it’s much too heavy. The sack weighs more than you.” I still thought I could handle it.
My opportunity came sooner than I expected. Someone came down the road on an old car, stopped at the fence and started blowing the horn. Dad recognized the man as a member of his church. He told me to sit tight and went to see what the man wanted. I got tired of waiting and decided to prove my dad wrong and unload a bag by myself.
I was 12 years old and thought I could do anything my dad did. I backed up to the wagon and pulled the sack on my back and immediately went to the ground, face down, with the 100-pound bag on top of me. I barely had enough space to breathe and holler for dad. I lay there until he came and pulled the bag off. The perfect imprint of my body remained on that freshly plowed ground.
My dad just smiled and continued to unload the bags. He asked if I wanted to try another bag and I replied, “No sir.” He always gave me good advice, but I didn’t always heed it. I learned I had a knack for unintentionally proving my dad right. (From LaVelle Pitts, memoirs)

A Lesson from Mother

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #15

What is a lesson you learned from your mother?

How-to-milk-cow-AW1 (1)


Practical instruction on Cow Milking

Mother always sent me to milk the cow with some warm water in the milk bucket. When the cow had a young calf, it would bite the mother cow’s tits and cut little nicks in them that became very sore.  If you grabbed a tit to milk the cow, especially on a cold morning, she would literally kick the fatal daylights out of you. More times than I can remember, I got knocked off the milk stool and flat on my back with the bucket turned over and the milk spilled.  Mother showed me how to gently wash the tits with the warm water.  If you squeezed gently, there was a good chance the cow would let you get away with it.

Another of mother’s rules was to always milk from the right side of the cow.  If you tried the left side, look out for a swift kick.  I don’t know why it had to be the right side, no one ever told me. It must have been a mutual agreement between Noah and his cow, and just handed down to the present day.  (Another unexplained rule is that a horse should be mounted on the left side.  I don’t know who made these rules, but if you try the wrong side, you’ll immediately know it was a bad decision.)

Possibly the most important technique mother taught me about cow milking had to do with the cow’s tail. Our cows loved to wade around in a pond in the back of the field to keep cool and get flies off their bodies.  The fields had plenty sandspurs and cockle burrs that would cling to the cows’ wet tails. In addition, the barnyard was wet with urine where the cows lay at night. The moisture helped embed the prickly spurs, making a cow’s tail a dangerous weapon.

While milking, sometimes a horse fly or a dog fly would bite the cow and she would swipe at it with her tail. When that happened, the bushy part of her tail, wet with urine and full of sharp burrs, would wrap around my head.  This inflicted pain, discomfort and scratches all over my neck and face.

Mother taught me to catch the tail and sit on part of it while milking.  That wet thorny tail was very uncomfortable to sit on, but when I would forget, the cow was faithful to remind me that mother knows best.  (From LaVelle Pitts, memoirs)