I’m Creating A Book With My Dad’s Stories

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I got my dad to create some recordings of his stories several years ago. I think the stories I heard around the dinner table from my dad and mom were the big reason I got involved in genealogy.

I hounded my dad for quite a long time to record the stories he used to tell us. I even went so far as to buy an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder for him to make the recording on. (I actually checked on Amazon, and they don’t even carry this model anymore, but they do have others.) Then finally, on January 29, 2015, he started recording. He created eight recordings in total. At first, he just winged it but later, he starting making a list to remind himself of what he wanted to talk about.

So I have all these recordings, and I have them stored in my FOREVER account, but I wanted to do something with them to be enjoyed a bit easier. So here’s what I’m doing.

Each of the recordings is a URL in my FOREVER account that I can share. When I share that link, even if the file is private, the person I’m sharing the link with can access the recording. But with that URL, I can create a QR code. You probably know what that is, but if you don’t, it’s that squiggly box that you sometimes see (see below). With a QR reader, you could scan this code below, and you’ll hear my grandparents singing.

This is the QR code to my grandparents singing

When you create the QR code, it creates a jpeg, which works perfectly for what I’m going to do. All you have to do is “Google” QR generators, and you’ll find the programs to create one.

So now I have my QR code as a jpeg or what equates to a photo, and I’m all set. But we’ll put that part of the project aside for now.

I’m going to create my book by creating a page in FOREVER Artisan and then saving each page as a PNG file. Each of these PNG files will be put into an album in my FOREVER Storage account, and then using all those PNG photos, I’m going to create an AutoBook. Now I could create the entire book in FOREVER Artisan, but I thought I do it this way. But if it doesn’t work, I still have the Artisan file. I wanted to try it this way to see if it will work.

I can create the book or the PNG pages by using FOREVER Artisan. You might think that the program is a bit pricy, (make sure you check the DEALS tab at FOREVER because there is usually a sale.) but I think it’s not so bad because I recently had to upgrade from Artisan 5 to 6, but Artisan 5 was around for quite a few years before I bought it in 2015 so I got good value from my purchase so I’m sure 6 will be the same. Also, Artisan 6 comes with 15 art kits to get you started, and if your not sure you can give the FREE trial a try to see what you think.

What I like about Artisan is that I own the program and only have to purchase the art that I want. So you’re not renting the program like so many of the software programs that are around these days. You own the program and the art.

So I start a new project in Artisan and it asks me what type of project I’d like to create.

In this case, I’m going to choose a 2×12 hardbound book, but there are many choices. I can even change my mind later once it’s created in a 12×12 because you can always convert down but never up (so I almost always start with 12×12).

It then asks me if I want to add photos which I don’t do, and it asks me if I want to use a template in my digital art, but in both cases, I choose no because I’m going to “freestyle.” Finally, it asks for the title of my project.

I decided to make each of the eight recordings into a chapter for the book. In each recording, my dad would tell stories on a subject, and I thought then I could create pages for each of the parts of the story.

So in the first chapter, he talked about going to school and his friends. My thought is that each chapter will have photos from my collection that I store in FOREVER Storage and perhaps a bit of text. This way I can add extra details that I’ve learned about things like when the school was established.

Here you can see some of the art that I’ve purchased. So the background is the art, and so are the embellishments. I don’t get real fancy with my pages, but some people can really be creative.

More examples of paper and elements

Here’s how I’m using the QR codes. Because it’s been saved as a jpeg, I can make a photo holder on the page and include it.

For this chapter, my dad speaks about his great grandmother, Elizabeth Alice Oliver, who came to Canada with my grandmother, Gladys, and Elizabeth’s other daughter Beatrice, my great aunt. My great grandfather Jesse Oliver had already gone ahead to Canada and was waiting for the family. It was actually because of the questions I’d asked my great-grandmother when I interviewed her when I was seventeen that I became interested in genealogy.

More paper and elements and a story about his first car

I’m not absolutely positive if this is his first car but I still love the photo.

Here is the cover I created

I think when I get this done, I’ll have just over 32 pages if you consider eight recordings and three or so pages per recording.

As I mentioned, I could easily create this directly from the FOREVER Artisan program right into any size book, but I wanted to experiment. So I saved each page as a separate PNG file, and I’ve added it to an album in my FOREVER Storage account.

The AutoBook Example

Now I’m not quite finished with my book because I have a couple more chapters to work on but I thought I’d put together a quick video to show you how I create an AutoBook.

So I encourage you to record your parent’s stories if you are lucky enough to still have them with you. If you don’t, then why not record your own story. It’s even easier now because so many people have smartphones that they can use to record audio or video. I would have loved to do a video of my dad.. it was actually my intent to do one once I came home from Arizona in 2020, but because I came home, quarantined and then was only able to be with him for two days before he passed away that wasn’t in the cards.

Here’s are some tips for creating those audio or video recordings.

  • Decide what you are going to use for creating your recording. Is it a smartphone, or are you going to use your computer? You could also record on a free Zoom account and then download your recording. These are just some ideas.
  • If you’re not sure how to create the recording. Ask someone techy to help you. Maybe it’s one of your children, grandchildren, or neighbors.
  • Plan ahead as to what you are going to talk about. Write it down so you can refer to it if you need to.
  • Create a timeline to see if there is a period of time that you’d like to talk about but you’ve missed.
  • Make your video short because they are easier to manage. If they are shorter, you are less likely to make a mistake and have to start over. Even if you have to make a small correction during your recording, that’s not really a big deal to your listener.
  • If you do need to edit, you could use a program I use called Wondershare – Filmora.

P.S. I became a FOREVER Senior Ambassador because I feel strongly that we all need a place to preserve our genealogy, photos, videos, audio recordings, and more. With the FOREVER Guarantee Fund, your collection will be preserved for your lifetime plus 100 years and you can make someone your beneficiary.

Please accept my invitation to try FOREVER Storage out. You’ll receive a 2GB account Free to try and you’ll also receive $20 to spend in the next 60 days. You can sign up HERE.

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