Write your memoirs as your personal background check.

Childhood Fears

fright 1

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #14

Can you remember being afraid as a child? What did you fear?


I was afraid of the dark as a child. I wouldn’t go into a dark room without someone with me. When I was six years old, daddy was sick with pneumonia. He was having a real hard chill and mother told me to go get some quilts. The quilts were all the way across the house in a dark room. I was scared, but thought my daddy was dying, so I ran to the room, climbed up on a chair, got the quilts and took them to my mother. Later, it dawned on me that nothing got me. So after that, though I might be anxious, I could go in a dark place when necessary.


Your Childhood Hometown

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #13

 What town did you grow up in?  If more than one, which one do you remember the most? Did you enjoy living there?


Ocala downtown


I grew up in Ocala, Florida. In the 1950’s and early 60’s, this central Florida town offered a small hometown atmosphere and was known for its horse farms, orange blossoms and nearby Silver Springs.

Downtown was  a special place to meet friends and play 45’s in the sound booths at the local record shop, watch a 10 cent Saturday matinee, drink a soda at the Hotel Marion café, shop at Lerner’s and wish you could afford to shop at Rheinauer’s.

Sandlin record


When I was in the eighth grade, Bennett Drugs was the meeting place of the local teen rock star Billy Sandlin’s fan club. He was 19 years old, had his own radio show on WTMC and recordings on Gala and VIM records.  It was a grand day when he came by the drug store and we got to meet him in person. All I have to do to revive the feel of my hometown experience and the excitement of meeting Billy Sandlin, is to watch the “We’re on the Radio” scene from the Tom Hank’s movie, That Thing You Do, on YouTube.

My childhood hometown brings back fond memories.


Remembering Your Grandparents

The last two postings have been helpful guest posts on Authorpreneurship by Sharon Jenkins and “How to Write a Memoir in Twelve Easy Steps” by Lorilyn Roberts. So it’s time to get back to a new memoir writing prompt.

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #11 Describe your grandparents.  What do you remember most about them?

syrup bucket




I remember my grandmother, on my mother’s side, as being rather cantankerous and disagreeable.  My mother’s father was nice and quiet. I used to like to watch him chew his tobacco while he was in his rocking chair by the fireplace. An old syrup bucket sat on the hearth. He could perfectly time rocking forward and releasing a squirt of tobacco juice so the spit went smack-dab in the middle of that can every time.

The grandfather on my father’s side passed away before I knew him, but my daddy’s mother was quite memorable. When she came for a visit, she always held me spell-bound with her storytelling. One story was of an encounter she had with the famous outlaw, Jesse James:

jesse james portrait

  Jesse James

   As a small girl, Grandma’s family lived on different farms as share croppers. They moved around a lot, never making enough money to buy their own farm. At one of the places they farmed, an old widow woman lived on a two trail road a short distance away.  She had a rail fence around her house to keep the cows and hogs out of her yard.  She often sat on her front porch and rocked in an old rocking chair.

One afternoon Grandma and some of her brothers and sisters were playing not far from the old widow’s home and heard a horse galloping up.  They recognized the rider as Jessie James.  He was riding his white horse.  He rode straight to the widow’s home.  The horse jumped over the rail fence and stopped at the edge of the porch.  The old woman just sat there and Jessie tossed, what looked like a canvas bag onto the porch. Grandma remembered he wore two pearl handle pistols. He tipped his hat to the old lady and turned his horse, jumped back over the fence and galloped away.

They heard later the bag was filled with gold coins.  Grandma said Jessie James was known to do things like this. Her dad told her that even Jessie’s horse was well trained. When Jessie was hiding in the woods and sleeping, his horse would watch over him. If the horse smelled or heard someone coming, he would nudge Jessie with his nose, waking him up.

Though a criminal, Grandma believed he had some redeeming qualities.

(A remembrance of LaVelle Pitts)

Memoir Writing–Twelve Easy Steps

Welcome Lorilyn Roberts, guest author, who has agreed to share her TWELVE EASY STEPS for memoir writing. Great tips for moving forward with your personal background investigation!

Memoir Lorilyn Roberts

How to Write a Memoir in Twelve Easy Steps

All of us have lived through dramatic times of ecstasy and pain. For the sensitive and sensate person, memories of these events are etched in the psyche and have molded us into who we are. A memoir is a way to touch at the heart of those feelings and allow them to be shared with others.
A memoir is different from an autobiography because it takes a “snapshot” of certain events in a person’s life. A memoir tends to read more like a novel. Usually a memoir is written in more colorful language than an autobiography and only relevant information is included-not everything about a person’s life should be shared. So how do I get started, you may ask? Here are twelve steps I followed in writing my memoir of adoption in Children of Dreams.

1. A memoir should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There should be a problem, a conflict, and a resolution.

2. It might be helpful to pull out old pictures, diaries, and objects to bring to memory the experiences you are writing.  If possible, go to the scene and relive the events in your mind.

3. Allow your feelings to flow freely from your mind and heart-they may be painful, terrifying, hurtful, crazy, or not understood, but to write a good memoir, you must bring the buried nemeses to the surface and write with passion.

4. Listen to music that will transport you from your surroundings to the time and place of the memoir. I like classical music, but anything that stirs your emotions and allows your mind to be absorbed back into that moment will work.

5. Don’t do any major editing until you’ve written all that you can remember. Worry later about clean-up. If you edit too soon, you may change something that is important.

6. Expect to feel like you are going crazy. Your feelings may create powerful emotions that are buried deep, but when you write those hidden passions and distorted thoughts on paper, it can be cathartic. The story may even write itself and come to a resolution you never thought possible.

7. Make sure you validate facts. A memoir is based on truth, so dates, times, names, people, and sequence of events are important. Otherwise, your credibility may come into question if something you have written is shown not to be true. It may be necessary to change names or locations, and this is acceptable provided you put a disclaimer at the beginning.

8. A good memoir is rich in color-metaphors, similes, descriptions, dialogue, and feelings will make your memoir come alive.

9. After you’ve written around one hundred pages, take some time to reflect on what you have said. Then put it aside for a few days, don’t look at it, and come back and re‑read it. It will be easier to spot things that need to be revised or rewritten. Save deletions for later.

10.  Be kind to yourself. Writing a memoir is a very personal, gut-wrenching journey.

11. After you have written the rough draft and edited it as much as you can, including deletions, give your memoir to some trusted friends for feedback. You may see a pattern in their comments, and that’s a good indication of what needs further revision. Don’t be shy and seek a professional editor if needed.

12. Never give up. Never, never give up. Need I say it again? Never, never, never give up.

Why write a memoir, you may ask?

First, the memories are important to you. The intimate details will soon be forgotten if they are not written down. The memoir validates your experience and gives meaning to your life. Your memories become a treasured journey for others to learn from and enjoy.

A memoir can be a gift to your children, your parents, your friends, your country, and the world. Only you can tell the story that you’ve been given, and other people’s lives will be enriched. Most of all, if you’re like me, you will be set free from the past and empowered to write your next story.

You will be changed and healed in ways that would not have been possible without writing your story. Having gone through the journey twice, you will be wiser. Perhaps you will touch others in a way you couldn’t have imagined because the “gestalt” of your experience is universal. Most importantly, you will have accomplished what you set out to do, and that is to write your memoir.

I say it again, never give up. It will be worth it when you have finished.

Lorilyn Roberts
Author and Founder of the John 3:16 Marketing Network

Seventh Dimension – The Door



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It’s a new year and a good time to begin (or continue) to record your memories.  (As a detective, I choose to call this process of compiling remembrances your Personal Background Investigation.)

Following is the 10th assignment , with an example, to help boost your memory.  Remember, your background will be a forever treasure for generations to come.

“Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Personal Background Investigation-Assignment #10

What was a favorite sport or activity you enjoyed as a child?  Why was this activity a favorite?

boy fishing 2

Example:  Catching My First Fish

I was around four years old, when Dad took me fishing in the small pond on our property because it was too wet to plow.  We went to a grassy area and “snored up” some earthworms.  Using an ax, we  drove a wood stake about a foot and half into the ground, then turned the ax on its side and slid it across the top of the stake.  It would make a grinding noise and vibrate the ground several feet around the stake.  This caused the worms to crawl out of the ground.

My job was to pick them up and put them in a can.  I learned to let the worm get completely out of the ground.  If I grabbed one before it was totally out, it wouldl lock itself into the ground and break in two.

Dad sat me on a large cypress stump and he fished near me. We used home-made poles Dad cut from bushes in the woods.  I saw my cork go down. I pulled my pole and it pulled back.  I had hooked something really big.  I was slowly sliding off the stump and yelled to my dad that my “block” (what I called my cork) had sunk.  He dropped his pole and grabbed my pole and me just before I plunged into the pond.

Catching that fish took a while. When we finally got it out of the water, it was the biggest fish I had ever seen in my young life.  According to Dad the fish was a large mouth bass weighing about 12 lbs.  I think my Dad was more proud of the catch than I.  He told everyone he saw about his boy and the big fish.  I think the fish got a little bigger each time he told the story too. Dad cleaned my catch which fed the entire family that night. I learned the accomplishments of your child somehow outshine your own.                                                                                                                        (A remembrance from LaVelle Pitts)

Join this SURVEILLANCE of self.  Please SHARE your own memory, if you like.


A Special Christmas Gift

 Personal Background Investigation-Assignment #9

What was the most memorable Christmas gift you received as a child? Why was it memorable?

 red ryder

Reminiscent of the movie, A Christmas Story, I was six years old when I received my most memorable gift—a Red Ryder BB gun. This BB gun became my “equalizer.”

I had an older cousin who lived next door and enjoyed bullying me.  He would chase and pound me regularly. After smacking me on the head one day, I ran into the house and emerged with my new Red Ryder BB gun.  When my cousin saw me with the gun, he climbed as high as he could in a Sycamore tree.

I proceeded to plink his rear end with my BB gun.  He screamed and cried and finally promised to never hit me again. I was proud of handling him, but I couldn’t brag about it. If my parents had caught me shooting at him, my rear end would have suffered worse than his. My cousin never messed with me again, but when I went outside I kept my “equalizer” with me just in case.

(A remembrance from LaVelle Pitts)

Remembering Mother’s Work

Personal Background investigation-Assignment #8

What kind of work did your mother do? Did you have any interest in her work?

 lye soap 3Example from LaVelle Pitts’ childhood

My mother kept house and cooked all the food.  She made lye soap, strong enough to take the hide off,  for use on family members as well as to scrub the wooden floors.  She made all of our clothes, quilts, and saved feathers from the chickens to make feather pillows and mattresses.

In addition, she handled or helped with outside chores.  She fed chickens, milked cows, raked the yards with gallberry bushes tied together—there was no grass.  She tended crops with daddy—thinned peanuts, chopped cotton and pulled corn. When peanuts were ready, she helped shake and stack them to dry and make hay.  When corn matured, she helped sort some to be loaded in the barn to feed the horse, cows and chickens.  The best corn was shelled, put in sacks to take to Hoover’s grist mill to be ground for use at home. She picked cotton which was stacked in the barn, then loaded to take to town and sell at the cotton gin.

I’m sure she did much more than this. I wasn’t always interested in her work, but I learned  these jobs had to be done on the farm.



Remembering Your Father’s Work

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #7

What kind of work did your father do? Did you ever want to follow his line of work?


Example from  LaVelle Pitts’ childhood

     My dad was a farmer along with a preacher and builder.  When I was around the age of four, I loved to follow my dad down the furrows when he plowed.  Even though he walked slowly, I would have to run every now and then to stay up.

I begged him to let me plow.  He would stop the mule and let me hold the Joe Harrow–a plow for working the peanuts.  This plow had iron spikes on two sides that fit over and on each side of the peanut rows.  It would loosen the dirt and turn over the young grass that was growing around the peanut plant. I could barely reach the plow handles and the mule walked too fast for me.

One of my tasks was to run to the house and get a quart jar of water from the well for my dad.  Another big thrill was when we stopped for lunch and unhooked the mule.  Dad would lift me up to sit  behind the harness on the mule’s neck and lead the mule to the barn.  I hung on to the gear around the mule’s neck and loved the ride to the barn and back to the field after lunch.

I wanted to help Dad do everything.  He taught me how to take the harness off the mule and put it on when we headed back to the field.  I really did very little because of my size, but he let me think I did.

One afternoon we returned to the barn early. Dad put the mule up and drug out an old Joe Harrow and got out his tools.  He was a good carpenter and even built several homes in the community.  He sawed and trimmed the Joe Harrow until I could stand behind the handles and walk without having to reach up and stand on my toes.

The next morning when we went to the field he hooked up Sam, the ox, and along with the mule we went out to the peanut field.  The ox is a fine working animal, but walks slowly.  That is why most farmers stopped using an ox and started using mules and horses for their farming.

We got out to the field and Dad hooked Sam up to my special Joe Harrow and put the plow lines in my little hands and said, “Go on son you can plow the row next to mine.”

We started off.  Dad let me go first and helped me plow the first row.  Then I got the hang of it and could make it down most of the row without toppling the plow over.

After two or three rows, I knew I had made it to big times.  Dad would let me go ahead and wait for me to get a big lead and then start the mule.  He would catch up and stop and wait for me to go on to another big lead before catching up again.

I had made it to the big boy world.  I felt six feet tall.  When I was with my dad, I copied everything he did.  I walked like him, spit like him, talked to the mule and the ox like him and even peed in the bushes at the end of the row, just like him.