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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Family Saga Friday

What is a family saga? I found this definition on Goodreads:

The family saga chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families. The typical novel follows the generations of a family through a period of time to portray particular historical events, changes of social circumstances, or the ebb and flow of fortunes from a multiple of perspectives.

For some reason after nearly 15 years of writing about two fictional families you would think I would have realized what I wrote was called family saga fiction (case of not seeing the forest for the trees). Thank God I finally know what my novels are since usually when people ask I turn into a complete idiot.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a little on this genre & family history each week (also, if anyone would like to share a piece of their own family saga, memoir or just plain old family memories let me know and we can work on posting it here).

And remember weekends are the perfect time to read family saga fiction!

Happy Friday,

A

LINKS:

MY LOVE OF READING by RITU BHATHAL

40 YEAR OLD FAMILY RECIPE BOOK BRINGS BACK MEMORIES AND TEARS

FIRST LOOK: THE COLLECTION a period drama

 

Good Night

Good Night Then the bright lamp is carried in, The sunless hours again begin; O’er all without, in field and lane, The haunted night returns again. Now we behold the embers flee About the firelit hearth; and see Our faces painted as we pass, Like pictures, on the window glass. Must we to bed indeed? […]

Do We Really Like Homemade Gifts At Christmas?

She looks talented, but I don't know . . .
She looks talented, but I don’t know . . .

There’s always someone at Christmas who says the real spirit of the holidays is lost on shopping and killing each other in stampedes at the malls. I think if people continue to line up on Black Friday year after year, they must get some kick out of the near-death experience and warfare. I go to sleep each night fending off the fear of being buried alive during a dystopian apocalypse so I stay away from malls after Thanksgiving.

My childhood friend used to get a bottle of cheap shampoo every year from her awful grandmother, but I’m not sure a handmade gift would have been any better. While the grandmother was closely related to John Singer Sargent, you could tell by her hair and make-up that she’d have no talent.

Someone always says, “Let’s keep things simple this year. How about only homemade gifts?” Maybe during the Civil War that was a good idea. People whittled back then. I still have my grandmother’s whittled figurines and tiny sword (she was post-Civil War, but still whittled and knit). I wonder why she whittled a tiny sword?

Anyway, the point is I wouldn’t want a homemade gift from my brother. While I’m not impressed with a New York Jets ski mask, I can’t imagine anything good that could come of him crafting something for me.

I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.
I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.

When I was super broke I did the homemade thing because I was fairly good at sewing and painting, but I still got the sense that people were like, “I spent good money on her and she makes me this weird tree ornament with a creepy painted face on it?” I was going for weird and primitive. I thought my weight-lifting, UFO obsessed brother would like that!

Lest we beat ourselves up too much about what Christmas has become, we should remember that in Europe partying hard at Christmas was the tradition for centuries. We only gave all that up as Puritans. Finally as the Civil War progressed we decided we needed a good lift out of the misery of death, doom and destruction. Yes, the gifts were mere tokens compared to the electronic extravaganzas and blood diamonds of today, but people back then were no saints and probably some of their homemade gifts were less than stellar.

Do you really like homemade gifts?