M. H. Collins

M. H. Collins

M.H. Collins  joined a recent book signing by regional authors for the one-year anniversary of Coffee Break Bookstore, Pea Ridge, AR. Her history books, Rogers: The Town the Frisco Built (narrative history), Rogers, AR (pictorial history), Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground, North Carolina were represented. Pre-orders were taken for her latest book, Write History Right, and the book received an enthusiastic response.

Write History Right is a step-by-step guide for writing history for both beginning and seasoned writers. Do you want to preserve the history of your town, region, church, organization, event–or finally collect all those pictures and stories from your family and put them in a book for future generations? Write History Right will help you preserve the story that captures your passion before it is gone, people forgotten, and pictures stored in the attic no loger identifiable- a part of history and the rolei t palyed in our lives is lost forever.

Write History Right gives practical advice to help writers select a topic, locate and document research, conduct individual and group interviews, plan the book, set work and project schedules, and much, much more. Essential sample forms are given in the Appendix. Writers may make copies for their personal use as they write their book.

To Order: contact: CHS Publishing, P. O. Box 1958, Rogers, AR 72758. $16.95 (AR Sales Tax 9% or add $1.53, plus $2 shipping/handling). (check/credit cards accepted) hswc1@cox.net


Arkansas Gardener magazine. September 2008. “A Garden Classroom,” story & photos by Marilyn Collins. This charming children’s garden at Peel Mansion, Bentonville, AR, provides a perfect setting for children to explore the world of nature. Plants invite children to use their senses as they touch a glory plant’s soft, fuzzy texture, smell peony flowers, rattle seeds in a dried gourd, or play hide-and-seek under large, umbrella leaves of the elephant and banana plants. For more information: www.peelmansion.org/ or www.arkansasgardener.com

 AY Magazine magazine, February 2008. “Mercy Medical Center Creates a Healing Environment for Patients,” by Marilyn Collins. Research shows that depicting beautiful, soothing, and true-to-nature art creates a climate in which patients are less stressed and fearful during a difficult time. www.aymag.com

Show me the Ozarks magazine, June 2008. “Historic Downtown Rogers: Today’s Hot Spot,” by Marilyn Collins. Streets are filled with people on the 3rd Friday Night Twilight Walk, shops are open, and good food abounds. Hub of activity swirls around Poor Richard’s Art and the Rabbit Lair on First Street, Rogers, AR. Shops around the downtown are also open as well the the Rogers Historical Museum and the Daisy Airgun Musuem. www.poorrichardsart.com, www.showmetheozarks.com 

Arkansas Gardener magazine, November/December 2007. “Dream Becomes Reality: The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks,” by Marilyn Collins.  Vistors and gardeners alike will enjoy sampling the nine special gardens of the Botanical Gardens in Fayettevelle, AR. Sculptures reach toward the sky, giant butterflies hover, and the trail of a recent dinosaur in the Children’s Garden lead children to climb the treehouse designed by Dr. Gerald Kilgaman. Other art and whimiscal statutes fill the gardens. www.bgso.org, www.arkansasgardener.com

Copyright 2008 CHS Publishing. All rights reserved.



Arkansas Gardener, Virginia Gardener, Georgia Gardener, Louisiana Gardener, Oklahoma Gardener magazine, March 2008. “Just Add Imagination: Keep a colorful garden year-round.” Article based on the Painted Garden Art: Anyone can Do by Lin Wellford, well-known author and workshop leader. Use inexpensive cement garden pavers or rocks found in your area to paint beautiful flower garden paths or borders as well as whimiscal garden critters. Check the several easy-to-follow books by Wellford as well as her upcoming appearances at www.ArtStonePress.com or www.LinWellford.com.

AY magazine. March 2008. “Making History for More Than 125 Years (Rogers, Arkansas) Article focuses on historic downtown Rogers, founded in 1881. Downtown has retained its shopping energy through the years. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of specialty shops including Poor Richard’s Art displaying works by local and regional artists; Rabbit’s Lair, wide selection of material, books, patterns and can-do staff to help you with your quilting and craft needs. Offers a wide selection of reproduction Civil War material. Other shops include a knit shop, antique/jewelry, designer eyewear, photography, flea market and the list goes on. Also enjoy the Rogers Historical Museum and the Daisy Air Gun Musuem. Good food and pleasing surroundings are also available from a several course meal to sandwiches/soup or your favorite coffee/sandwich.

AY Magazine, March 2008. “Oscar’s Prime Rib & Steakhouse: Elegant Dining, Affordable Prices” by Marilyn Collins and Angela Thomas. Review of one of the finest restaurants in Northwest Arkansas. Delicious food in relaxing and attractive surroundings.

AY Magazine, February 2008. “Mercy Medical Center Creates a Healing Environment for Patients.” Research shows that soothing, beautiful, nature pictures help create a relaxing and healing environment for patients. The incredible photography of Tim Ernst, Steve Twaddle, Paul Caldwell, William Dark and others are displayed in oversize canvass in the new Mercy Medican Center in Rogers, Arkansas, creating vast panoramas of natural Ozark settings.

Ozarks Magazine, January 2008. “Art Form in Wax: Candle Maker Mel Broder.” This wonderful artist creates his work in wax from his studio on Possum Flat Road in Arkansas to customers around the country including having his work selected for the lavish gift baskets presented at the Academy Awards. His work can be found at the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallerly in Mountain View, Arkansas.

ISSUE SEVEN: Five Tips for Working Well with Museum staffMost researchers of local or regional history will at some point need the assistance of staff at the museum servicing the area of interest. Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a good relationship with the people who have the added expertise you will need to complete your project successfully.

 1. Know as much as possible about your subject before approaching the museum staff so spending time on basic questions will not waste either your time or their time.

2. Have questions in mind before your meeting. Other questions will occur during your interview. Ask about any controversial dates, name spelling, quotes, or stories that are great in the telling, but may not be historical accurate.

 3. Call ahead for an appointment if possible. Trying to get staff attention when a group tour of fourth graders is underway will not make you a welcome visitor.

4. You may be fortunate to have a staff person willing to ”fact-check” your copy before publication. If so, give  them adequate lead time. Furnish them with your best copy, neatly typed, with the spell-checking already done. Also give them a deadline for you to pick up their changes/suggestions.

5. Include staff by name in your Acknowledgments Page. A thank-you doesn’t cost you anything, but is always appreciated. A basket of chocolate is also a good way to show appreciation for their time, effort, and–most of all–expertise.

Based on Write History Right by M. H. Collins, Copyright 2007, CHS Publishing Company

on February 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm Comments (0)

ISSUE SIX: Five Tips for Writing Family History

Issue Five discussed ways to get the most from group interviews. These techniques apply whether you are writing family history or telling the story of the founding of your town. Working with family members sometimes takes a little more finesse. Keep these tips in mind as you interview family members.

1. Stay objective if family squabbles exist. Great Aunt Jessica may not have spoken to her sister in twenty years because of a disagreement over who got their mother’s bureau or the mahogany secretary that stood in the living room for as long as they can remember. You want to know if the furniture was made at a local mill or by a well-known craftsman of their day. Does anyone know approximately how old the furniture is or how it came to be in the family? Try to draw the focus away from the well-worn argument to pertinent information about the history involved. 

2. Genealogy is important. Someone in the family is probably the expert on who begat whom. There are computer programs that help chart the family tree. Unless this is your specialty, let another family member trace the dates and names while you write the story about the people–loves,, hardships, and triumphs. What decisions were made by your great, great, grandfather that affected your family through the generations. Were they part of the large influx of people from Germany that came to this country in the early 1800s? Where did they first settle? What caused them to move from New York to Oklahoma? These decisions probably placed you – physically – where you are today.

3. Identify the pictures. Cleaning out the attic of the family farm house may lead to the discovery of an old box full of pictures. But who are these people? You may recognize some, but will probably need older family members to help you identify the people in the pictures, where they are, what they were doing, and the approximate date. Without identification, these pictures become lost treasures who’ve lost their way in history.

 4, Don’t overlook the simple stories. History is not just the grand gesture and sweeping epic. History is also the story of how your grandfather walked through six feet of snow into the next town with a gunny sack over his shoulder to get groceries for the family. Or the fact that your grandmother was the first business women in your town and was the first retail clerk ever hired there. The laughter and family jokes handed down from generation to generation carry their own special place in history.

 5. Write it down. Video or simply voice tape the stories. If you don’t write it down, the stories may be lost. Beyond the stories, think how wonderful it would be to hear your grandfather’s voice or the voice of your own parents again. The voices, inflections, accents, and warm kind words give meaning even beyond the written words.

Based on Write History Right by M. H. Collins, Copyright 2007, CHS Publishing Company.

For beginning and experienced writers.

Genre: Nonfiction – Writing History (family, town, church, organization, military, events)

ISSUE FIVE: Five Tips for a Productive Group Interview

Issue 4 discussed tips for conducting interviews for your story. Group interviews take a little different approach which can pay big dividends in information as the members of the group stimulate the memories of others. Capture all the information on video and voice recordings. Keep a notepad handy to jot down spellings of names or to note additional questions that occur to you during the interview.

1. Invite a small, select group of people who are knowledgeable about your subject. Too large a group may not allow each person to speak and tell his/her story. You also don’t want people talking at the same time which can more easily happen with a large group.

2. Tell interviewees in advance the kinds of questions you plan to ask especially if you are covering a controversial topic. Ask them to check dates or names you have been unable to verify.

3. Video the interview, if possible. A simple voice recorder may not be able to distinguish the person speaking. The local historical association may be interested in helping you set this up as part of their oral history program. Ask a staff person, familiar with the equipment, to run the video allowing you to concentrate on the interview.

4. Keep control of the interview as participants may start to wander off the subject. However, don’t be too quick to bring the subject back as you may discover an entire area of new information.

5. Take a picture of the group. Identify each member of the group with correct spellings and contact information. Ask each person to sign a release form to use the material and possibly the picture in the final published product.

Based on Write History Right by M. H. Collins, Copyright 2007, CHS Publishing Company

ISSUE SIX: Write Family History

For beginning and experienced writers

Genre: Nonfiction–Writing History

ISSUE FOUR: Five Tips for Conducting a Successful Interview

Your goal is to make the person comfortable during the interview. You will get more quality information if the interviewee is at ease with you and the subject matter. Follow these tips to conduct a smooth and successful interview. Give the person time before your meeting to collect his/her thoughts and find photographs or other visuals that will help enhance your story.

1. Good, well-thought questions make for good interviews. Know your subject matter. You may be interviewing a person that you want to recall events and stories from their childhood–which may have been decades ago. Ask short and easy-to-answer questions. Avoid long, drawn-out questions and ones that elicit a “yes” or “no” answer.

2. Set an appointment for morning, if possible. People usually have more energy earlier in the day. Get directions to their home or arrange a meeting in a comfortable place (library, coffee shop, neighbor’s home) where you can speak undisturbed in a relaxed atmosphere.

3. Let the person know how/where you will use the interview material–magazine article, book, other–and the kinds of visuals you need. You may get the answer, “I’m not sure I remember much anymore.” When you start showing pictures or old newspaper clippings from that era and asking about the different people involved, their “remember when” will start to kick in.

4. Always start with easy questions. You may already know some of the answers; however, this approach will set a comfort level for the rest of the interview. Hold controversial questions until later in the interview after you have established a good trust level.

5. Get a signed release form from the person. This allows you to use the interview and any visuals they may give you for your project. The local historical society/museum may be able to give you direction on this and provide you with a copy of the form they use. 

Based on Write History Right by M. H. Collins, Copyright 2007, CHS Publishing Company.

 ISSUE FIVE: Conducting Successful Group Interviews

For Beginning and Experienced Writers

Genre: Nonfiction–Writing History

ISSUE THREE: Five Tips to Organize Your Story

You’ve decided to write about what you know–local history, your family, church, or organization (Issue 1: Five Reasons to Write Local History). Next, you found easy places to find a good story (Issue 2: Find Your Story in Five Easy Places).

Now is the time to settle down and start collecting information, conducting interviews, and identifying all those pictures you found in the attic or local museum. First, let’s make a plan for organizing your story.

 You will probably find lots of information as you research your story. Much of this material may never appear directly in your book, but the background work you do will strengthen your story. If the top of your dining room table is covered in paper and your office is in chaos–check out these easy tips for corralling the piles of research and stacks of photographs into a manageable system. 

1. Establish a timeline. Start with the date when the first thing happens in your story–town is incorporated, great, grandmother’s birthday, or the date of a Civil War battle in your area.

2. List important events. Make two columns–one for the event date, one for the event. You may also want to include census data and events of a world nature taking place outside your primary story. This information adds perspective.

 3. Set chapter breaks. The timeline will divide into natural chapter breaks. Try to keep your chapters close to the same length. Some chapters devoted to less important things–such as the early years of an adult you are covering–may need less space.

4. Plan your work time. How much time should you allow to write each chapter? If you have a publisher’s deadline or one you’ve set for yourself (I have to get this finished before the family reunion!), you can readily determine how much time you need to allocate for the book. Don’t forget to allow time for the pre-story and post-story sections of your book. This will be covered in later issues.

5. List planned interviews. Stories are always more fun to read when you spinkle anecdotes and quotes from people you’ve interviewed. Other quotes may come from diaries, letters, or old newspaper accounts (Be sure to document your sources).

Make a list of names, contact information, date of interview–and be sure to get a signed release form allowing you to use the material (more on this in a future issue).

 (Issue Four: Five Tips for Successful Interviews)

 Based on the upcoming Write History Right by M. H. Collins, © 2007, CHS Publishing Company.