Family Histories: How Family Can Be A Driving Force in Your Writing

Welcome to Family Histories, a series of guest posts by some of my favorite bloggers in which they explore family . . . and history. The families and histories are sometimes their own and sometimes not.

This week JACQUI MURRAY discusses how her children’s military careers inspired her writing.

Family History and It’s Part in My Writing

Jacqui MurrayThank you so much, Adrienne (author of The Tenafly Road Series), for inviting me to participate in this wonderful exploration of families. When I received Adrienne’s invitation, my knee-jerk reaction was it didn’t fit me. My stories about ancient man (the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time) and my Tech-in-Ed writing didn’t have obvious connections to my family; they were tangential at best.

And then I thought about my novels, in the Rowe-Delamagente series. Lots of you know my daughter is a Naval Officer, my son an Army Sergeant, and my husband a saint, but I don’t say much about my family beyond that. Yet, they have been the driving force behind my writing. Here’s a rundown:

Building a Midshipman

This is a personal how-to on preparing for and applying to the United States Naval Academy.  It’s based on my daughter’s experience in high school where she first thought such a selective school was out of her reach and then was accepted into a life-changing activity that would change her forever. My daughter wasn’t the 4.0 (or 5.0 if you’re an IB school) student, the hardest-working or the one with all the answers but as it turns out, that’s not who USNA wants anyway. They wanted tenacious, never-give-up, critically-thinking applicants who always had another way to solve problems. They might as well have stuck her picture by the profile. I wanted to share her story so other high school girls who might think they could never be good enough for an Ivy League college like USNA would think again.

I wrote Building a Midshipman in about two weeks by replaying in my mind how my daughter had accomplished this feat.

To Hunt a Sub

jacqui murray 3This story comes from time spent with friends of my daughters from the Naval Academy who had served on or were serving in the Silent Service. It is a story of brain vs. brawn, creative thinking, and the importance of family in our lives, but at its core is patriotism. Many of my ancestors were in the military though I wasn’t, and by the time I started writing this book, both my children were committed to their paths. I respect the patriotism, single-mindedness, and stalwartness of our warriors–this story reflects that.

This book took about five years to write. I think being my first fiction book, I had little faith in its success so was afraid to turn it loose.

Twenty-four Days

This story takes place in large part on a US warship, the USS Bunker Hill. This was my daughter’s first ship after graduating from the Naval Academy. She secured amazing access for me during my research to the ship and its people. She put herself way out there to help me. For that I am forever grateful.

It took about three years to publish, slowed down a bit because I had an agent at one point, from whom I parted amicably.

Book 3 of the Rowe-Delamagente Series

This third in the series deals with satellites and the weaponization of space–in a nod toward my Army Signal Corps son. I’ve barely begun the outline so I don’t have a good sense of where it’s going but I do know it will be an action-packed thriller where Otto and a new AI friend Ascii will play a major role.

Born in a Treacherous Time

For this book, I go way back on my family tree, long before man was even man, to 1.8 million years ago. It’s always amazed me how our ancestors survived a world filled with vicious predators, not the least of which was the more improved iteration of man. That’s what I explore in this book, Born in a Treacherous Time.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

***Please visit next Sunday for the next guest post!

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32 Comments Add yours

  1. I really liked reading this article, Jacqui, as it expands the little I already knew about your family. In fact, just about everything you write is influenced by family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad Jacqui agreed to share the inside scoop.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I so appreciate the opportunity to be where I can open up a bit. I don’t do that often. Timid, I suppose. Thank you for this, Adrienne.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That is true. Maybe that’s why I’m having such difficulty with Book 3 in my series. I have no family roots to base it on. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And, I like the photos of your attractive family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annika Perry says:

    Although I knew a little about your family connections to the services this post gives a fascinating insight about the creation of your book and yes, I can see why you state that your family are your driving force! Wow, I can’t believe you wrote a book in two weeks!! Inspired and a wonderful story to share of your daughter’s experience. Fiction is totally different and I think it’s brilliant how you use the knowledge you gleaned to write ‘To Hunt a Sub’ and it’s great your daughter could help gain access for research of ‘Twenty-four Day’! Best of luck with your latest two books and warmest wishes to your family and may they always be safe. 😀❤️Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t believe I wrote it that fast, either. It just rolled out of me, much like what I’ve read with some of the great fiction writers. Unfortunately, it never happened again. My current WIP is 20 years in the making!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your daughter must be flattered to have a book inspired by her.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s not always the word she chooses. I did ask her permission before writing and publishing it–it’s a bit personal though I changed her name in it–but I don’t think she quite understood what she was agreeing to. Now, as a LT in the Navy, she gets Ensigns (the lowest rank of officer–newbies) who recognize her from the book! Thankfully, she’s good about it.

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  4. GP Cox says:

    Anyone not falling in love with your family, Jacqui, just hasn’t read your posts!! You and your family deserve all the recognition that you get!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. God definitely blessed me in the family department. So many of my good memories are with them.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks so much for hosting me, Adrienne. My family is definitely the root of my writing. I am constantly inspired by them.

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    1. My pleasure. I’ve enjoyed your writing blog for so long now, it was fun to read about your private life.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Luanne @ TFK says:

    Jacqui, I loved this looked at the books that came out of your daughter’s career. We never know the way our lives are going to go, do we? And our kids can take us along for the ride haha. They all sound wonderful! And I loved getting a better idea of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely had no idea I’d end up writing about the military. We don’t always get to choose the direction our muse takes us, do we?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Luanne @ TFK says:

        No, we absolutely don’t. I keep wondering which way next . . . .

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  7. What a wonderful inside look at the stories behind your books, Jacqui. I loved seeing all of the photos, especially the one of your family. Thank you to your family for their service to our great country. God bless America!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My kids will tell you we never pushed the military or politics on them. They arrived at all of this on their own. I’m happy about that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! I’m always fascinated by family history and it’s cool to see how this can inspire writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I am loving how my fellow bloggers have run with the family history theme.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I am too. I’m a believer in nurture over nature (except when it isn’t).

      Like

  9. hilarymb says:

    Hi Adrienne – great to see Jacqui here … and to read how her stories came about using family connections and ideas … it’s a great way to start a memoir – for future family … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy to share Jacqui’s interesting post here. Thanks for stopping by, Hilary.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Now there’s a thought, Hilary. I’m afraid the most interesting part of my life is my children. I’m pretty happy about that.

      Like

  10. dgkaye says:

    So nice to learn more about you and your writing inspiration through family, Jacqui. 🙂

    Like

  11. cleemckenzie says:

    What a great story of family and how they’ve made your writing so full and interesting. Obviously, you’re a very fortunate lady.

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  12. Nicely done, Jacqui. Even though I already knew a lot about you, I learned much more from this article.

    I love writing about the family dynamic, as you well know. 🙂

    Like

  13. Great guest post! It’s amazing how the people and things in our lives shape our writing in ways we don’t even realize.

    Like

    1. A good thing to think about when we assume everyone should be just like us. 🙂 How could they be?

      Like

  14. What a lovely idea for a series of posts and great to see Jacqui here with her story. I also write a lot about family as that does seem to come really easily to me. Writing what you know is definitely a good writing technique.

    Liked by 1 person

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