Photos of My Father

In assembling a family memories book for my father, I’ve been pestering my mother to send me vintage family photos.  She’s rummaged around and found some great ones.  Thanks goodness for scanners, so she can scan them in and email them to me.  They’ll make great additions to the book about my dad’s life.  It was supposed Gail, Owen, and Clyde Owen Martinto be done for Father’s Day, but I’m still fine tuning it.  Maybe it will be done for his 85th birthday.

Family Memory Writing Group

I’ve started a writing group for the summer.  It’s to inspire me to get busy writing, since I seem to need a deadline hanging over my head.  I’ll share the writing triggers and assignments with you here.  Follow along online and write your own family memory pieces using the assignments from the group.  A good place to post them is on the website.

Here’s the first assignment:

Our memory triggers from this session related to food topics.  Feel free to expand on this or take your own topic.  Just start writing.  Bring something you’ve written to share with the group next time and we’ll have a read-around.
Here’s a list of words to jog your memory:  sweet, sour, baked, roasted, burnt, undercooked, frozen, salty…  Does that bring any incidents to mind?  How about the triggers thrown out in our session (school lunches, holiday meals, church suppers, family picnics, ice cream, learning to cook)?
I remember that my mother was a hasty cook.  She had so many interests that sometimes dinner was an afterthought.  With six children, she had to put something on the table, so she turned the flame on high on the gas stove when cooking.  It’s a wonder that all our meals weren’t blackened.  I find that I follow in her culinary footsteps, wanting the food to get cooked faster so I can go back to my projects.

Fascinated with Making Books

Oh, no.  I’ve gotten hooked on Blurb.  I found it while looking for a place to easily put my mother’s memories into a paperback book.  I’d made a hardback version for her on Photoworks, but the $85 price was just too high for the rest of the family to have copies.  Her book is almost ready to come out on Blurb.  In the meantime, I started Dad’s book since Father’s Day was approaching.  It also is almost done with both books needing a few more vintage family photos to wrap it up.

The versatility of Blurb’s BookSmart software intrigued me, so I gathered my photos of my favorite New Hampshire place and made a photo book of it.  You can see it here.  They have it set up so you can preview the first fifteen pages. 

Photographs of Lake…
By Virginia Allain

I’m hoping to sell a number of them to the summer residents of Lake Forest to raise funds for the local ambulance service.  Every year Lake Forest has a craft fair, golf tournament and raffle to benefit the ambulance service.

My first book using Blurb's print-on-demand publishing.
My first book using Blurb’s print-on-demand publishing.

Now all sorts of book ideas are dancing around in my head.  First I hope to gather enough photos from my niece’s wedding to make a photo book for her.  Then I want to work on a photo book of the four-day writing workshop I attended last summer.  Other books I could make: Baby Sandhill Crane Photos, Butler County Profiles (the writing of my mom and sister, Cynthia Ross), a flower photo book, a collection of my essays and poems, and a tribute book to my sister, Shannon Hyle.

I’m going to be busy, I can see.

Dad’s Book… Making Progress

Here’s the cover for the book I’m working on for my father.  Obviously it’s going to be late for Father’s Day.  I hope to have it mostly together by the end of the month.  I’ve found out from working on Mom’s book that the little details of editing and fine tuning can take a long time.


The cover for Dad's book (needs one more picture)
The cover for Dad’s book (needs one more picture)

Where Do Blog Readers Come From?

I’m always curious about how people find my blog.  Since I have it posted as a link on my eHow profile, a good number jump from there to my blog.  I also use my blog to index my 400 plus articles on eHow.  That way if someone just wants to see my gardening articles or my mother’s eHow recipes, the link takes them to the blog and they choose an article title which takes them back to eHow.  If eHow had a subject index for each profile, I could skip linking through my blog, but they don’t.

Once in awhile, I get a spike in readers.  When I check, I find that I’ve been featured in StumbleUpon or something like that.  Nice to see that.  I just submitted my blog address to who steered six readers to the blog.  Maybe I’ll see more through that blog referral site. Another site like that is  You can submit your blog address to them and they refer viewers to you.

Occasionally I’ll see that someone searched for keywords like “palm tree sunset” or “Disney characters” and ended up at my site.  I hope they enjoyed their visit and will come back sometime for another look.

Many of my blog readers find it after viewing my profile on or  Of course, there are the faithful readers made up of close family members.

Here’s the Cover for Mom’s Book

Here's the cover for the paperback version of Mom's book
Here’s the cover for the paperback version of Mom’s book
I’m still hunting up some old family pictures, but otherwise, it’s pretty much finished.  Since the hardback version ended up being so expensive (on Photoworks), I expect most people will opt for a paperback.  The edition on Blurb will have a hardback and a hardback with a bookjacket too.  Those will only be in the $20 to $30 range for an 80 page book.  Not so bad.  The paperback will be less than $20, I expect.

Progressing on Mom’s Book on Blurb

Gail McGhee in her Boeing work outfit during WWIII thought it would be a breeze transferring the pages from the original book (Photoworks) to the new publisher (Blurb).  After all, I had the page layout and the text editing all done.  What I didn’t take into consideration was the time for learning a new program and Blurb has wonderful features for layout.  Another factor is the page size is different, so that affects picture placement and how much text fits on a page.

I did make good progress yesterday, but need to see if anything can be done to improve the resolution of the vintage photos I’m using.  With photoworks, I just told it to go ahead and publish even though it warned me some of the photos wouldn’t be good.  They were right.  Now on Blurb, I’m paying attention when it warns me.  By reducing the size of the photo, the blurring is reduced but the photo gets too tiny for good viewing.  Sigh.  With a family history book, the photos are important to supplement the text.

I’ve resorted to adding in some photos that I’ve taken at historical museums (for a schoolroom interior).  My preference would be to have just the old black and white 1930s shots for consistency though.