Marilynn H. Collins

Class Title: Turn Family Treasures into Lasting Stories
Instructor: Marilynn H. Collins
Class Term: June 3-July 1, 2019
We are not accepting any more enrollments for Marilynn's class; the class has started.


Did you inherit your grandmother’s pie safe, your great grandmother’s wedding ring, travel souvenirs, or boxes of amazing photographs/old postcards? Are you planning to give your own great, great grandfather’s pocket watch and gold chain, diamond earrings you wore at your wedding, a favorite children’s book, or a work of art--to someone special? You want them to know the story behind each of these treasures so they will become their treasures too. It's the story behind each that preserves them. You will develop the skills to tell these stories that will become the retold family stories for years.

Class Description

You will identify 5 - 6 special items (small or very large), identify their source (if possible), write colorful descriptions with guidance, and write the story (as you know it)about the people or circumstances of each treasure. You may select one that the story "is" why its origin is unknown. You will post your findings/writing on line. You will have instruction from me but may ask questions at any time.

Class Goals

This course will provide a great jump-start to writing your family history through the treasures that were special to them--and now are special to you. Writing family history can be overwhelming but choosing one focus for your storytelling will make the organizing and writing much more doable. AND you will be giving future generations a real understanding of the kind of people they come from.

Group participation


Class Methods

I will post instructions on Monday of each week with guidelines for your response for Friday online. You may ask questions at any time. You'll have a fun and relaxed time approaching family history in this way.


  • Unit 1: I will send easy-to-follow instructions each Monday helping you with that week's part of the course. For Week One, you'll identify 4 - 6 treasures and completely describe each. I'll send examples for describing the complete physical aspects. If possible, send a picture of the item with your descriptions on Friday.
  • Unit 2: I will go over your descriptions with you. Now that you have the physical description, you'll next name (if known) the person (or persons) who owned or was connected to the item. Tell why that person is special to you--or that you know little about them but it was given to you by someone you did know well. Tell as much as you know in bullet form for this class. Attach that person's picture.
  • Unit 3: Now the storytelling begins. Take what you know about the history of the item and the connected person and write your story (1 - 2 pages double spaced).
  • Unit 4: I give you any helpful tips on your writing. You will write another story for this week's submission. You will have a great start to writing many other family stories that will preserve not only the treasure but the bring life to the family member as well.

Time Commitment

2-3 hours for the first two weeks, 2 - 4 hours for the last two weeks depending on their individual writing time.

Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required

Basic computer skills, email, all levels.

Tuition/Fees for this course

SCN members: $128. Non-SCN members: $160.


I have taught many writing workshops including online for SCN and also lead writing workshops for conferences. My writing includes a practical Step-by-Step Writing Guide series focused on writing family history, memoir writing, marketing, and writing local/regional history. I write history and have published over 100 magazine articles. I am a writing coach and editor. Participants in my courses find them to helpful and a comfortable environment to write and share their work. I look forward to working with you.

InetExp: I have taught online workshops for SCN and others, edit/mentor clients online, present writing workshops for writing conferences and writing events, wrote a newsletter for writers online for several years, write my website and blog on that site, work with a few email groups, and work with Mail Chimp to organize/store my mailing lists. I work on Facebook (personal and professional), Twitter and LinkedIn.

Instructor Bio

Marilyn H. Collins is an author of books/magazine articles, a conference speaker, workshop leader, writing coach, and editor. She offers individual coaching, marketing, and editorial services. Collins works with each workshop participant where they currently need help. Her Step-by-Step Writing Guides offer a workbook format that is practical and easy to follow. Her website.

Social Media:

Praise for Marilynn's Classes

  • Marilyn Collins's course exceeded my expectations. Even though I'm further along in the publishing process than some of the other participants, I learned a great deal more from Marilyn about how to promote my book, things I had never thought of. She has a great deal of experience and generously shared it all with her students. The course was worth every penny... If God is in the details, then Marilyn must know Him! Thank you, Marilyn, for your penetrating eye and encouragement. —Marilea R., Rio Rancho NM

  • Helpful suggestions, tips, ideas, all given in a way that was applicable to my current project status and designed to help me move forward. I love Marilyn Collins' classes. Her expertise motivates and inspires me and helps me make progress on whatever project I'm working on. Her suggestions are always personal, practical and empowering, never critical. She makes me want to write! —Bonnie F., Brookings OR

  • This course actually beat my expectations. It helped me to focus more and enabled me to organize my book. For the first time I can actually see it coming together. Marilyn Collins was an excellent instructor. Her feedback was timely and positive. I definitely plan on taking another course with her if she offers one. —Mary Anne D., Riverhead NY

  • Marilyn Collins is the best! My writing skills improved considerably from her excellent critiques. She has very real skill at encouraging and describing mistakes. Thank you Marilyn! —Devon J., Bentonville AR

  • Thanks for another great class, Marilyn Collins. With the pre and post story sections done and five more stories ready, I have made significant progress on my memoir project. —Lorraine C., Calgary AB CANADA

  • Marilyn Collins' class helped me to approach my writing in several new ways and add some different dimensions to my usual kinds of stories. I also got an idea for using and sharing my stories. Can't wait for her next class! —Bonnie F., Brookings OR

  • Marilyn Collins made timely and very helpful comments...valuable critique. —Susan F., Fairfield Bay, AR

  • I loved this course. Marilyn Collins was very positive and also very honest and constructive in her comments and suggestions. —Sally B., Atherton CA

  • Marilyn Collins is an excellent instructor whose suggestions improved and enhanced my writing without changing my intent. If anyone is serious about making tangible steps to organizing a collection of stories, Marilyn can help you do that. Thanks again Marilyn. —Lorraine C., Calgary AB CANADA