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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Great Genealogy Education! Save 50% on Legacy Family Tree Webinars Membership through August 13th!

Last week there was big news from Legacy Family Tree - they will soon become a part of MyHeritage. This means Legacy gets to expand both their software and their popular webinar series. 


Legacy users received a message about the merge:

"We are proud to share with you the biggest step forward we have ever made with our Legacy Family Tree software and our FamilyTreeWebinars.com webinar series. We have entered into an acquisition agreement with MyHeritage, a leading global destination for family history and DNA with 91 million users in 196 countries. The acquisition will provide the resources and cutting edge technologies to advance and expand both our #1 rated software and our #1 rated webinar series. Think Legacy is good now? Watch out future – here we come!"

You can read the entire announcement and learn what this means on the Legacy Blog.

To celebrate their news, Legacy Family Tree is offering 50% off their yearly webinar membership until August 13, 2017! If you have an existing membership, add another year!  

Click here to subscribe now. 

I have been a presenter for Legacy Family Tree Webinars since 2011.  With a membership, you can watch any of my 33 classes (and counting) my popular Scrivener for Genealogists and Tracing Your Immigrant Ancestors series, as well as webinars on Trello, Writing Family History, Eastern European Genealogy. and Pennsylvania Research. There are hundreds of other classes too!

As a part of MyHeritage, there is greater opportunity to reach a much larger and worldwide audience. I look forward to more great webinars with Legacy both as a presenter and viewer!

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved


[Note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a Legacy Family Tree Affiliate, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission].




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 + 1 Year Blogiversary for the Accidental Genealogist

Normally people don't make it a point to celebrate the 11th milestone of anything.

For wedding anniversaries, steel (which represents strength), is the traditional material of the eleventh anniversary. It is not shiny (like gold, silver, or diamonds), but rather it is a practical, sturdy material.

Today, I mark 11 years posting as The Accidental Genealogist. Last year I completely missed acknowledging my 10th blogiversary (ten is one of those milestone numbers). I don't know how I forgot, but the date came and went without any post from me.  So this year, I was determined to remember and write a post marking my years blogging.

However, while searching online for information about the number 11, I came across some interesting information, including about how the number is recognized in numerology. Apparently,  11, 1, 11, 111, and 1111 in "Angel Numbers" all mean: "Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts are manifesting instantly into form. Focus only upon your desires and not upon your fears."

So I have chosen this as a sort of appropriate theme for my 11th year of blogging--a decade +1 year of blogging and still going strong.

As a brief retrospective, I have selected the following 11 posts as my favorites (not necessarily in any particular order).

1. Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month (The very first post launching my popular blogging prompts series I have hosted every March from 2010-2017; posted February 28, 2010)

2. Sojourn in Slovakia (Series about my first visit to Slovakia, posted June 15, 2010)

3. Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel (series about my return trip to Slovakia, posted July 01, 2012)

4. Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Mother (posted May 10, 2015) 

5. Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Father (posted June 21, 2015).

6. Ten Things I Miss About Dad: Remembering John Alzo 1925-2005 (posted  November 27, 2015)

7. Free Video for The Write Stuff: Using Nonfiction Writing Techniques to Write a Better Family History(the post I wrote about celebrating 25 years as a nonfiction writer, posted March 20, 2015)

8. Family History Writing on the Go! Review of Scrivener for iOS (posted July 20, 2016)

9.The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive Returns! (posted February 23, 2017)
For more information on my popular course, click here.

10. Advent Calendar: December 1, 2009 (my first post for the Blogging prompt series Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, posted December 1, 2009)

11. No Looking Back: Why I'm Choosing Myself in 2016! (posted December 31, 2015)


Even though an event (such as my 10th blogiversary) passes without recognition, there is no harm in revisiting it.  Also, as I move on from year 11, I am looking forward to what new topics about genealogy and writing will inspire future posts for this blog. 

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Scanning with Friends: I’m Joining the Family Curator’s Genealogy Scan Along. How About You?

For the past month, I have been sorting through what seems like an endless collection of personal and family photographs. My goal is to preserve those images I want to keep and purge those that don't hold as much sentimental value (by purge I don't necessarily mean "destroy" but rather give photographs to family members or perhaps donate some to hometown historical society).  

So when I learned about the Genealogy Scan Along from my colleague and friend, Denise Levenick (aka The Family Curator), I knew this was the perfect opportunity to jumpstart this endeavor. Starting this week, Denise will host a Genealogy Scan Along at The Family Curator website with tutorials and tips to create a family history photo book. Denise calls it a "virtual scanning bee." For four weeks, participants will each work on a scanning project (and connect via a Facebook group) following a weekly tutorial and instructions for creating a family history photo book step-by-step.

Image courtesy of Denise Levenick


The Genealogy Scan Along begins on June 21, 2017, so I have a few days to decide what my first scanning project will be. Likely, it will involve photographs from my mother's side of the family since we are holding our 50th family reunion next month. I have a huge collection of photographs taken in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, (basically up until when I started taking digital photographs).  The first step is to scan them all and then possibly make them into keepsakes or albums. I look forward to learning from Denise, who is the author of How to Archive Family Photos. Plus, it will be fun to scan with friends!

I have already joined the Genealogy Scan Along Facebook Group. I believe this will be an enjoyable and productive way to tackle this important project. Won't you join me?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

When is the Right Time to Tell Your Story? Write NOW! Save 30% on Popular Writing Course

Do you have a family history project on the back burner? A novel inside your head you have always wanted to write? A half-written nonfiction manuscript stashed somewhere on your computer’s hard drive?  Why not start now?

Writing is not just for the winter months. In fact, I think summer is the perfect time to tap into your creativity and finally get that first draft in place! With your laptop, tablet, and writing software, you can write anywhere--at your favorite outdoor cafe, the park, the beach, or even your backyard!



If you are ready, here are three tips to help you to stop dreaming and start writing.

1. Keep it simple. There is no rule that says you have to write a 250-page book or write about everyone in your family tree. A series of profiles or smaller stories about significant events are more likely to entice the non-genealogists in your family to read what you've written. Pick your favorite ancestor, memory, or family story and create a mind map. A mind map involves randomly listing your ideas on a piece of paper or inputting them into a software program to create an initial picture of what you want to write about. [You can read about Mind Maps here]. The next step is to create an outline or storyboard to plot out your project. My favorite software for this task is Scrivener by Literature and Latte. It is available for purchase for Windows or Mac, and there is a 30-Day free trial available. [Note: I am a Scrivener affiliate, so if you click on the Scrivener for Windows or Mac links and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  This does not increase the price you pay as a consumer, it simply helps to supplement my income].

2. One page at a time. You may have heard that old adage: "When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time."  The same applies to writing. Tackle it one page at a time! Even if you just wrote 500 words per week, you would be making progress. Begin with a small time commitment such as 15 minutes per day (come on, we can all find 15 minutes!) and then work your way up to longer sessions. Schedule this time on your calendar, block out all other distractions, and set an alarm or timer. Write until the alarm or timer sounds. The goal is to write something—anything.  Remember: You can’t edit a blank page!

3. Get a push from your peers. Are you having trouble committing to writing your family history or your memoir?  Perhaps a summer writing course where you can receive feedback from a writing instructor and interact with fellow writers? Well, I have just the course ready and waiting (continue reading below). 

Need some motivation?  I can help. I bring over 30 years' experience as a widely published nonfiction author and a passion to coach those who aspire to write a family history!

For you my loyal readers I have an exclusive special discount to inspire you to start that family history writing project!

[The course advertised below is part of my business as a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer]

Save 30% off The Write Stuff Genealogy Intensive through June 4, 2017!

First 15 Registrants receive a FREE consultation!

My popular family history writing course has a new format. It's now self-paced and available anytime you wish to start. 

Here are the highlights:
  • The course is self-paced with no start and end dates. You choose when to begin, and work through each of the five assignments according to your own schedule. Working on one assignment per week is recommended, but it is up to you.
  • There are five instructional videos, plus a bonus video on top writing tips.
  • You gain membership to a private Facebook Group, which is only available to those who purchased the course. Whether or not you choose to participate is for you to decide, but the group serves as a "virtual meeting room" and the hub of activity.  If you submit your assignments to the group, I will provide my feedback, and others in the group may also choose to comment. 
  • It is a collaborative environment where we learn from each other.The Facebook Group will remain open and you will have indefinite access to the group and all the materials posted there.
  • If you are one of the first 15 people to sign up, you will receive one 15-minute consultation with me either over Skype or telephone.

To learn more and register, click HERE

Enter coupon code writenow in the coupon code box to save 30% off the $129 regular course price.

This is the perfect way to jumpstart a family history writing project!

HURRY--Offer expires 4 June 2017 AT 11:59 P.M. EST.

[Disclosure: This blog post contains links to products I either produced or am an affiliate for, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I will receive a commission.]

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Family Tree Webinars Celebrates 500 Webinars and Offers Unprecedented Free Access to Webinar Library - This Weekend Only!

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is celebrating a huge milestone tomorrow, Friday 14 April 2017 with its 500th webinar. You can read more about the history of Legacy Family Tree Webinars here.

[Note: This post contains affiliate links. As a member of the Legacy Family Tree Affiliate program, I will receive a small commission if yo click on them].

To celebrate the occasion, Legacy is offering an unprecedented free weekend access to its complete webinar library through Monday 17 April 2017! Click here to begin watching newly added or past webinars.

Over the past five years, I have had the honor of presenting 33 webinars on a wide range of topics from Eastern European genealogy, writing, immigration, and a series on my favorite writing tool, Scrivener. Click here to see the complete list of my classes.

This week, I presented a live webinar on "Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists" and you can watch it free via this link until Wednesday, April, 17th. 


I also had a webinar released in the bonus library--"Survival Skills for Eastern European Genealogists." Click here to watch.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank Geoff Rasmussen and the team at Legacy for the opportunity to be a part of such a fabulous online environment for genealogy education!  Here's to many more collaborations!


Copyright, 2017, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Taking Time Out to Organize My Writer's Cave - Organize Your Home Office Day!

I just can't take it any longer!

I'm talking about the mess on my desk!  Between writing deadlines, research projects, and the dreaded income taxes, my office/writer's cave is OUT OF CONTROL!


Not my real desk...I'd be too embarrassed to post a photo!


Did you know that today is Organize Your Home Office Day?  I didn't either. [Learn more here]. 

But there is no time like the present, so I am going to follow my own advice and start "taming my inner packrat."

I plan to do the following:

1. Remove all papers from my desk and organize them into neat "to file" piles.

2. File papers into labeled folders.

3. Put folders away in my filing cabinet.

4. Make notes in my daily print and online planner of important "to-do" tasks for the next week.

5. Get a big cup of coffee!

If you would like to join me, you can save $2.00 (TODAY ONLY) on my  Genealogy Clutter Buster Boot Camp – Taming Your Inner Packrat (Digital Download) available through HackGenealogy.com.  Use promo code ORGANIZE at checkout.



In this 90-minute boot camp, I cover:

  • The pros and cons of going paperless
  • A brief lesson on how to organize family history documents, photographs, for quick retrieval
  • Stress-free filing strategies and creating checklists to stay on track
  • Effective ways for distributing and sharing genealogical information with others
  • Tools, apps and resources for taming your paper and electronic monsters
  • And more....


In addition, you can get even more in-depth advice from the special issue on Organizing Your Genealogy I put together with my colleague, Denise Levenick (The Family Curator) for Internet Genealogy Magazine.  To learn more or purchase the issue, click here.




Finally, you will find other organizational resources/products here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a desk to clean!


[Disclosure: This blog post contains links to products I either produced or am an affiliate for, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I will receive a commission.]

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo  All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Five Questions to Ask During Women’s History Month

How much do you know about the women in your family tree?  One of my biggest regrets as a genealogist is not taking the time to talk to my maternal grandmother about her life and immigration story. Grandma died before I was interested in genealogy, but if I could go back in time, I would ask her so many questions about her life while growing up in Slovakia and to tell me about her experiences after she arrived in America. 


Since today is International Women’s Day, and March is designated as National Women’s History Month, there is no better time to talk to your female relatives and ask them questions about their mothers and grandmothers while you still can. You don’t have to be an expert interviewer to get the information you desire. You can easily find out key details by asking five key questions.

1. Who – Who were your parents?  Who were your grandparents?  Encourage the sharing of details about the family unit. Confirm the spelling of first and last names and inquire about any possible name changes.  Can they provide photographs or physical descriptions of family members?  Who else is important in their lives (husbands, spouses, relatives, friends, etc.)?

2. What – What significant historical events did you live through?  What was your occupation or role in the family?  What were some of your favorite things as a child or young adult (games, books, movies, activities or sports)? What foods did you cook?  What were some holiday or other traditions your family observed?

3. When – When were you born? When did you meet your spouse or significant other? When did you marry?  When did your parents, grandparents, or siblings pass away?  Ask for specific dates. When did you live in or leave a specific place? (For example, I know the date my grandmother arrived at Ellis Island and when her ship left the port of Hamburg, but I would ask her for details about when she first left her village to begin her journey to America).

4. Where – As in real estate, location is key for genealogy.  Ask about places. Where did grandma and grandpa live?  Where is aunt Millie buried? Where did you marry (name of church or city hall)?  If the place name sounds foreign or unfamiliar, ask your interviewee to spell it out as best they can.  If they can’t remember an exact town or village, then ask what was the closest big town or city? Did you live close to mountains, down in the valley, near a river, or a forest?

5. Why – As genealogists we like facts, (who, what, when, where), but we often forget to ask “Why?”  Why did you make certain decisions? Did you have a choice?  Why or why not? What inspired or motivated you during your early years or later as an adult?

Tip: Always remember to be respectful, especially of those with infirmities, and be sensitive to the person’s feelings if you experience any degree of reticence. 

Ideally, you should be recording your interviews.  You can use your smartphone and any number of apps-- One of my favorites is StoryCorps because once you have completed the interview, you can share your interview on the StoryCorps website and have it archived in the Library of Congress). Go to the FAQ page on the the StoryCorps site to learn more.

Guidelines for Conducting Oral History Interviews


The National Women’s History Website has some guidelines for conducting oral histories. For example:
  • What was the purpose of this oral history?
  • What do you think was happening when it was recorded? 
  • What can you tell about the person telling the story and their point of view? 
  • What is the significance of this oral history?
  • Is it more personal or historical?
  • How does encountering this story firsthand change its emotional impact? 
  • What can you learn from this oral history?
Take Action Now!

Write down the names of at least three females in your family and then call, Skype, Facetime, or visit them and do those interviews!  If you are a woman, don’t forget to document your own story for future generations!  

Copyright 2017, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved