We published on time... with seven minutes to spare...

Getting started on this short story publishing website was relaxed but we published on time with seven minutes to spare. Amid the lockdowns and government strictures of the COVID-19 era, I stayed cooped up in my office with its panoramic view of Dead Lane as inspiration…

For centuries that North Essex track has been a smugglers’ and pallbearers’ route to the village graveyard and the adjacent “request stop” for London-bound stagecoaches. Plenty of inspiring social and family history stories. Good news and bad news for locals along that winding track, at each end, and the surrounding fields where history was made.

By Terry WalkerEditorGetting started

I had the idea, and now due to COVID-19, the time to research and to write a memoir covering my 60 years in the “Words Business”. As a trained journalist, turned public relations, turned marketing creative, I have written millions of words for national, regional and local newspapers, magazines and documentaries. My work has taken me to more than 20 countries. There have been lots of adventures and unique encounters.

In those horrendous Covid years, more than 80,000 typed words flowed quickly into a solid draft memoir. Then, I reviewed 1,000s of family and career black and white and colour photos for possible inclusion in the newly titled My Life, In Words. After that, I explored online publishing with greater spontaneity and extra scope for images and videos.

Longer reads for the Twitter X generation

Online searches revealed computer code king Bill Jenson had 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 Literatum theme design is clean and uncluttered focusing the reader’s eyes on the words with few distractions. It has other features make it easy to bring those words to life. These include images, videos, sounds and original documents such as birth certificates and testimonials.

After confirming, that their website creativity would mesh and work well together, I set to work to publish the early chapters of “My Life, In Words” memoir. A newly purchased domain name, Ancestry-stories.com (Note the hyphen) was to carry the content of our family history. Research showed that the Twitter-X generation was, by now, looking for longer “reads”‘ while older generations worldwide were as interested in family history as ever before.

Researchers at Google suggested 1,200-word articles would attract readers across all age groups. Many would have their own true family narratives to share and that would boost the online library provided by Ancestry-Stories.com. Short stories would attract readers of all ages when they commuted (where permitted) languished at home (government orders) or on the beach. Millions of Work from Homers (WFH) with much more time on their hands would add to the potential. Google thought that word count would require a four-minute read.

At Ancestry-Stories, we thought a bit longer, perhaps 1,400 words and more like seven minutes. Further research confirmed we should go with a typical read time of seven minutes. It was a “Go”.

True stories from family history safeguarded

Our published stories are typically around a seven-minute read as we are confident everyone has at least “7-minutes to spare”. Time for a relaxing dip into our ancestors’ lives, antics, trials and tribulations. True stories from family history are now safeguarded for the current and future generations.

Swift editing of earlier chapters to fit a customised online page design enabled us to hit our target of going live by the end of 2023. You might say, with just “seven minutes to spare.” So now, here we are with Ancestry-Stories.com up and running, thanks to the COVID-19 era lockdowns. Ready to enthral and entertain folks with lots of stories from family history. My family and your family:

“Uncovering family secrets”… “Spilling the beans”… “Letting the cat out of the bag” … “Sharing our good news and bad news”.,. “Revealing skeletons from the closet”…”Having our place in history”…

Our first published stories involve family and social history in four countries (Cyprus, England, the Isle of Man and the USA). These stories have a background of significant historical events. Importantly, these and subsequent stories have thrown up links with people who have already secured their place in history. These include the Beatles, President John F Kennedy, Archbishop Makarios and even Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself…

We have many more enthralling stories in our publishing pipeline. And 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?

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