I was born in Southern California to parents who grew up together in Redondo Beach, attended the same high school, and married shortly after my father returned home from the Navy at the end of WWII. As a genealogist, I somehow feel it’s important that you know I have Scots heritage from my mother, Swedish and German from my father.
I spent my childhood in Los Angeles and Orange counties in those carefree days when parents didn’t have to keep their children on a leash and playtime wasn’t structured with classes and teams. I enjoyed reading more than anything, but I also liked roller skating, ballet, and playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids. After high school, my family moved to Ventura (about two hours north of Los Angeles), and it was there I met my future husband. I was 18 and he was 22. We courted when we were students at Brigham Young University and got married when I was barely nineteen! Within a year, we moved to Boston where my husband attended Harvard Law School, and we lived and worked as dorm parents at a private girls school. We became parents in our own right before he finished law school, and returned to California after his graduation with an 18-month-old son.
I earned a degree in English from UCLA in my late 20s, after I’d had a second son. (Those were hectic years!) We ended up with four children, three boys and a girl, who are now grown. While they were in their teens, I returned to college for a master’s degree in communications and soon after began working as a freelance writer.
My husband and I have always been involved in genealogy, and I’ve spent many interesting hours in libraries and court houses trying to find out who I came from. After I wrote a family history about my Scots grandparents, I decided I’d learned so much from the process, I could teach others how to write stories about themselves and their families. For the last 18 years I’ve been teaching classes at Santiago Canyon College in Orange County, California, and teaching seminars and workshops for genealogy societies and other groups interested in learning how to write memoir and family history. Learn more about me and my classes at my website, www.memoirmentor.com.
In 2007 Signature Books published Breathe Life into Your Life Story, a book I co-authored with my husband, that includes much of the material I teach in my classes. It was long hard work, and I now have a deeper respect for anyone who writes and publishes a book.
In 2014 I published a family history of five generations from my father’s side of the family–The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America’s Story. It was a labor of love involving thousands of hours of research and travel to the places they lived in Europe and America’s Midwest, Southern, and Eastern regions. My goal was to bring to life ordinary people, like most of our ancestors, people who left few records behind to show that they lived. It turned out to be a rewarding project.Learn more more about the book here.
My blog is an attempt to participate in the larger community of people interested in writing personal and family histories and perhaps help a few people persevere in writing their stories.