Biff and Nancy Barnes

Biff and Nancy Barnes

Nancy Barnes is the founder and managing editor of Stories To Tell, a team of editors and book designers who help authors to prepare their books for publishing. She is also the author of Stories To Tell: An Easy Guide to Self Publishing Family History Books and Memoirs. Building on a career as an award-winning teacher, she has specialized in the “creative nonfiction” of memoir and family history. Nancy also has experience in graphic design and commercial publishing, coordinating projects with marketers, designers, and printers. Her successful career path was recently featured in Starting Your Career as a Freelance Editor by Mary Embree.Biff Barnes, an Editor at Stories To Tell, is a writer, educator, and historian. He earned his MA in History from the University of San Francisco, and was a William Robertson Coe Fellow in American History at Stanford University. He taught history and writing for 28 years. His work appears in California Publisher, California History, California Living, and American West. Biff has extensive experience with historical research, oral history, and interviewing techniques. He provides editing and coaching to fiction and nonfiction authors as they gather and prepare their stories for publication.

Why Narrative Family History Is Best

New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler asked himself, “What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?” The answers he discovered appeared in a piece in the Sunday Times titled The Stories That Bind Us. It should be required reading for genealogists and family historians. Feiler consulted Emory University psychologist Marshall Duke who had explored myth and ritual in American families. What he learned was...

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Ancestors Speak Out: Creating Scenes in Your Family History Book

How do you write about the past in ways that bring the characters to life, while being true to the facts of the time and place? By writing “…books that communicate information in a scenic, dramatic fashion,” says Lee Gutkind, who was once described by Vanity Fair magazine as “The Godfather” of creative nonfiction. Creating a dramatic scene presents a nonfiction writer with some unique problems. You can rely on historical sources to recreate a vivid description...

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Getting Beneath the Surface of Your Family History

David McCulloch, who won Pulitzer Prizes for his books on Harry Truman and John Adams, knows how to write a good life story. Says McCulloch, “I believe very strongly that the essence of writing is to know your subject…to get beneath the surface.” As you create your personal or family history book that’s advice you should take to heart. Unfortunately it’s something we may forget when we set out to research our genealogy or create a family...

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Stop Researching and Start Writing Your Family History Book

How much research is enough? Do you know genealogists who say, “I want to write a family history book, but I need to finish my research first?” Somehow they never get to their book. More research leads to new avenues of information that should be explored. They charge off seeking the vital records of previously unknown ancestors. You have to admire their dogged determination. Just a bit more research and they’ll be ready. I thought about those...

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