One of the greatest gifts you can leave your posterity is your personal history.

You have a world of memories and stories tucked away in your mind, and it’s time to capture them all for your loved ones.

Think about what’s up there! Without my history, for example, my posterity would never know that I ate an entire box of prunes when I was five, thinking they were candy. They’d never know that a few months later, I ran away from home with my two-year-old brother because my parents were making kielbasa (the dreaded sausage). They’d never know that when my father was dying, I thought cancer was contagious and was terrified for all of us. They’d never know that my favorite toy for a whole year was a small rubber frog. That I thought the school district had me skip the fourth grade because I was too tall. That I used to roll my hair up in Campbell’s soup cans and sleep on them to get my hair straight (and, oh, the headaches!). That I got locked in a J.C. Penney store for the night because I spent too much time in the bathroom.

You have those same kinds of memories. And there’s no time like the present to dust them off and present them to your loved ones.

In an essay titled “In Case You Ever Want to Go Home Again,” bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver wrote, “You can fool history sometimes, but you can’t fool the memory of your intimates. And thank heavens, because in the broad valley between real life and propriety whole herds of important truths can steal away into the underbrush. I hold that valley to be my home territory as a writer. Little girls wear food on their chins, school days are lit by ghostlight, and respectable men wear their undershirts at home. Sometimes there are fits of laughter and sometimes there is despair, and neither one looks a thing like its formal portrait” (in High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never [New York: Harper Perennial, 2003]).

Kingsolver perfectly captured my philosophy on personal histories: every life has spectacular, amazing, monumental moments, and every life is also punctuated by bits and pieces of darkness and despair. And in between it all is the ordinary—the things we take for granted that generations from now will look at with astonished wonder. All of it belongs in your history, else how will you pass on the very essence of your life to those who will benefit most from it?

If you’re like most other people, you have shoeboxes and photo albums and scrapbooks filled with scattered memories. If you’re ready to have them all put into a beautiful written history, let’s get started.

 

icon pershistHow It Works

I give you a detailed questionnaire that you fill out with all the names, dates, places, and other details you can find. Then I guide you on what kind of memorabilia to gather, including plenty of photos. Finally, the fun part begins: I interview you anywhere from five to ten times, ferreting out facts you probably never thought anyone else would be interested in.

We start with the skeleton—the chronological events in your life. These come from records, certificates, your parents, and your own personal knowledge. If you stop here, you’ll have nothing but raw data: a boring read at best.

Next, we put flesh on the bones. We talk about who your ancestors were, because they shape your life more than you might realize. I put on my research hat and weave a fascinating story of what was going on in the world the year you were born. This is where history really comes to life: the year I was born, Julius and Ethel Rosenburg were executed for being spies; the first three-color traffic lights were used; Sugar Smacks and Cheese Whiz were introduced to the market; Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine; the double-helix model of DNA was introduced; and color TVs started making their way into American homes (at a whopping $1,175). Frank Sinatra signed his first record contract, the minimum wage was seventy-five cents an hour, and there were eight operating temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’ll even see what celebrities were born the same year you were: for me, a few included Hulk Hogan, Tim Gunn, John Malkovich, and Jeb Bush.

Those kinds of things are just the beginning. We’ll talk about what things were like in your town, your family, your heart. We’ll explore the kinds of toys you played with (mine was my Betsy-Wetsy doll), the pets you had (I always had a cat), and what you loved to do (all the kids in our neighborhood played cowboys and Indians by the hour in the alfalfa field behind our homes). We’ll capture the things you loved (for me, it was the smell of the Orem City Library in the basement of City Hall) and the things you hated (for me, it was sausage). We’ll even capture your dreams, goals, and fears (I was terrified of sirens and used to hide under the bed whenever I heard one).

Then we’ll carve out the features. We’ll capture your faith-based experiences, miracles you have experienced or witnessed, dreams you saw fulfilled. Throughout it all will be pictures, pictures, pictures—worth a thousand words!

Finally, you’ll become a living, breathing human being. We’ll talk about your challenges and the times you failed. We’ll tell how you overcame disappointment, adversity, and trials. And we’ll celebrate your glorious flaws, something that will help your posterity develop courage.

When I’m done writing: I typeset your history (so it will look like a professionally produced book) and give it to you on a thumb drive. You have a chance to look it over and make sure everything is accurate.

You take it from there. You choose the format you want—anything from a digital journal to a hardbound book. I can give you suggestions about what printing options are best for you based on your budget and how many copies you’d like.

 

icon pershistWhat It Will Cost

I charge $2,000 for a personal history: $500 when the project begins, $500 at the midway point, and $1,000 when the finished history is delivered. For a married couple, I charge $3,500: $1,000 when the project begins, $1,000 at the midway point, and $1,500 when the finished history is delivered.

If you have questions or are ready to get started, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Writer

"Kathy writes compellingly and swiftly, has an eye for detail, and possesses an uncanny sense for how to shape a story to make it pulsate with energy."
 —Taylor Halverson

Editor

"Kathy Jenkins has honed her editing skills with such precision and excellence that today she is viewed by many (including me) as the best editor on the planet. No matter how many times I have read and reworked a manuscript, Kathy improves my writing with meticulous care and good will."
 —Susan Easton Black

Mentor

"Kathy has been so helpful to me in bringing my manuscripts to fruition, encouraging me to work diligently on my writing craft. She makes every author better in every way."
 —Ed J. Pinegar

Consultant

"Kathy brings life in her writing, wisdom in her editing, and experience in her consulting; she has made me a better and more confident author."
 —Ganel-Lyn Condie