We made it on time...with 7-minutes to spare...

Dead Lane: Family history route links village to graveyard

The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller and at Ancestry Stories we fully agree with Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Amid the lockdowns and government strictures of 2020, I stayed cooped up in my office with its panoramic view of Dead Lane. It is an old smugglers’ and pallbearers’ route to the London-bound stagecoach and the village graveyard. Plenty of inspiring social and family history along that track…

It has been one covid year from having the idea to write a memoir covering my 60 years in the “Words Business”. As a trained journalist turned PR, turned marketeer, I have written millions of words for newspapers, magazines and documentaries. My work has taken me to more than 20 countries.

In that last year, more than 100,000 typed words flowed quickly into a solid autobiography. Then, I reviewed 1,000s of black and white and colour photos for possible inclusion in the newly titled “My Life, In Words”. After that, I explored online publishing with its greater spontaneity and extra scope for images and videos.

Twitter generation looking for longer reads

Online searches revealed code king Bill Jenson has designed a wonderful, multi-module, off-the-shelf publishing platform. Plus Spanish tech maestro Rafael Martin has hand-coded (twice) a perfect page display theme for writers and publishers. The design is clean, focusing the reader’s eyes on the words with few distractions. Plus, it has other features that make it easy to bring those words to life. These include images, videos, sounds and original documents

After confirming, their website creativity would mesh and work well together, I set to work at the end of November 2020 to publish chapters of “My Life, In Words” memoir. A newly purchased domain name, ancestry-stories.com. (Note the hyphen) was to carry the content. Research showed that the Twitter generation was looking for longer “reads” to while away the long, barren covid days. While older generations around the world were as interested in family history as never before.

The most powerful person is the storyteller - Steve Jobs supports stories and storytelling
The most powerful person is the storyteller – Steve Jobs supports stories and storytelling

Researchers at Google suggested 1,200-word articles would attract readers across all age groups. As, for instance, when they commuted (where permitted), languished at home (government orders) and generally found themselves with much covid time on their hands. Google thought that word count would require a five-minute read. At Ancestry-Stories.com we thought a bit longer, more like seven minutes. Tests confirmed we should go with a typical read time of 7-minutes. Subsequently, Google also settled on 1,200-word articles and 7 minutes to read them. It was a “Go”.

Swift editing of earlier chapters to fit a customised online page design enabled us to hit our target of going live in January 2021 – just. So now, here we are with Ancestry-Stories.com up and running, thanks to the covid lockdowns of 2020. Ready to enthral and entertain folks during covid and beyond!

Our published stories are typically around a seven-minute read.  Therefore, we are confident everyone has at least “7-minutes to spare”. Time for a relaxing dip into our ancestors’ lives, antics, trials and tribulations.

Our first stories involve family history and social history in three countries (Cyprus, Isle of Man and England). As a result, each story has a background of significant historical events. Importantly, some of these have thrown-up links with people who have already secured their place in history. These include the Beatles, President Kennedy, Archbishop Makarios and even Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself…

We have many more enthralling stories in our publishing pipeline. There are opportunities for you to have your family history story published. Ancestry Stories will make it available to 1,000s of avid readers – because there are many out there with an average of 7-minutes to spare. Write on?

by TERRY WALKER | Publisher

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