Publications

Available on Amazon

Storytelling

How to Write an Inspiring Memoir, Oral History, or Family Genealogy

In her new book, Kristin covers the features she has incorporated in the past 20-plus years for her clients, who include Oscar recipients and a Kennedy Center Honoree.

Kristin shows how she gathers stories from her celebrity clients and researches their history for custom-bound heirloom books, with clear guides on how to capture stories for memoirs about yourself, someone else in your family or your ancestors.

This book is meant to make writing a memoir fun and fairly easy and something anyone can do.

NOW AVAILABLE! Price: $19.95 • Click HERE to order from Amazon.

“I just finished it. I loved it . . . easy read yet full of valuable information. This book could easily be retitled Storytelling For Dummies!! You did a great job.”
— Michael Fitzgerald

First to Die

The Tragic Sinking of the Steamship Vestries

This is the sad story of a disaster that never should have happened. When the steamship Vestries pulled away from her Hoboken pier on a sunny day in November 1928, headed for Buenos Aires, carrying almost 8,000 tons of cargo, 128 civilian passengers, and 197 crew members, all seemed well. In truth, she was a decrepit old ship, not seaworthy in anything but the best of weather. The weather on this trip would prove too severe for this tired vessel.

She went down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, November 12, 1928, with the loss of 111 lives, most of them passengers. There were 214 survivors, 60 of them passengers. These are their stories, told in their own words.

Now Available: Click HERE to purchase from Amazon.

“A compelling and riveting account of a seemingly forgotten yet significant disaster.”
— Captain Robert C. Beauregard, Waterman Steamship Corp.

Solano’s Gold

The People and Their Orchards

Initiated and oversaw this three-year project resulting in a book and museum exhibit.

The publication, featuring over 60 oral history interviews, documents the rich agricultural tradition of the Solano County orchard industry from the mid 1800s, using the words and images of local ranchers who recalled family history, remembered their farming days and/or still participate in this way of life.

Click HERE to purchase from Amazon.

“Because it is loaded with many excellent first-hand accounts, especially of the post-World War II era where stronger memories make for better oral history, Solano’s Gold certainly merits serious attention.”
The Public Historian

A Gold Hunter

Memoirs of John Berry Hill

Based on the recollections of an ancestor, who traveled the Emigrant Road to the California gold fields.

The book also chronicles Hill’s life from boyhood and includes his life after the gold rush.

Selected as an official California Sesquicentennial Resource, the publication has been adopted by a number of school districts as a book link for history studies.

Click HERE to purchase from Amazon.

Additional Work

Smokey Robinson

by Duffy Jennings

“Write On”

Like many others around the country in 1970, I was a huge Motown fan, and the Miracles were performing in town, so I cajoled Daily Datebook editor John Stanley into letting me interview Robinson. After making arrangements with his publicist, I saw the show that night and then went to his hotel room the next morning. Smokey answered the door in a white terry bathrobe, invited me in and asked if I minded waiting while he excused himself for a quick shower. “Sure,” I said, trying to act nonplussed while I’m pinching myself that I’m in Smokey Robinson’s hotel room. A few moments later his unmistakable falsetto voice carries from the shower; he’s singing his most popular song to date:

I did you wrong, My heart went out to play,

But in the game I lost you, What a price to pay

I’m cryin’

Ooo baby baby

Here I was, a 22-year-old copyboy who’d wangled a freelance assignment with one of the most popular pop singers of the day and he’s singing in the shower. I wanted to call somebody and tell them but I couldn’t. It was like making a hole in one by yourself, with no one around to verify it.

When he finally came out to talk, he was polite, sincere and genuinely engaged in our conversation. It’s interesting to look back at his comments about race relations more than four decades ago and see how things have – or haven’t – changed.

I went back to the Chronicle and wrote the following, published April 1, 1970.

“Hey Man, do you wanna be loved?” says Smokey Robinson to a ringside customer at Mr. D’s. “Every now and then,” the young man replies.

“Every now and then?” Smokey laughs in mock disbelief. “Oh, man, I wanna be loved ALL the time!”

Does he really want to be loved ALL the time? “Sure, man, everybody does. Don’t you?” No argument there.

“You know what I really dig?” he asks later in his room at the Miyako Hotel, as he slips a T-shirt over his short, Afro-style hair. “I dig people. I’m all for humanity.”

Robinson, at 30, has been digging people ever since he can remember – and music. Lead singer with the Miracles, now at Mr. D’s through Saturday, he is also vice president of the Motown Record Corporation – the main outlet for Rhythm and Blues music in America. He is a composer, arranger and an extremely gifted lyricist. A dynamo. Bob Dylan calls him today’s greatest living American poet.

People say I’m the life of the party ‘cause I tell a joke or two

Although I might be laughing loud and hearty, deep inside I’m blue

So take a good look at my face

You’ll see my smile looks out of place

If you look closer it’s easy to trace

The tracks of my tears

But despite all that, Robinson possesses no small degree of modesty. Beneath the glitter of his performing get-up – a gold satin Tom Jones-style shirt with purple ruffled front, a sleeveless purple jacket with gold lame trim, high-waisted bell-bottom pants and black patent leather shoes – is a warm and unaffected person.

“Man, for me life is a whole gob of experiences. Every day you go through so many experiences. They say it’s the best teacher. I can dig that, but I don’t have to experience everything myself to know what it’s like.

“I can just feel it. When I write a sad song it isn’t consciously because of some personal experience. I’ve never consciously written a song from personal experience.” He has written hundreds.

“There’s just so much sadness in the world today. It’s really an abundant thing when you think about it. And I can feel it.”

Although he and the Miracles (Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers and Ronnie White) have been making hits for 16 years, Smokey admits that his success long ago surpassed his wildest dreams.

“I used to go to class with a transistor radio plugged into my ear. We were recording when we were in high school and I’d listen for our record.”

When he dropped out of junior college in his home town of Detroit to pursue his desire to sing, his father, a city truck driver, was disappointed. “He told me if it didn’t work out, to go back to school.” He never went back.

The Miracles performance is virtually unchanged after 16 years, except that Smokey’s wife of ten years, Claudette, no longer travels with them. She still records with the group in Detroit, however.

“I made her stop, man. It was killing her. I’ll tell you how hard it was on her. She had six miscarriages.”

The Robinsons now have a son, 19 months old, with a name that reads like the Acknowledgements sections of a book – Berry (after Berry Gordy, Motown president and Smokey’s dearest friend), Borope (a combination of the first two initials of the first names of the Miracles) Robinson.

Smokey’s feeling for all people is the reason behind his decision to use the stage as an outlet for a personal crusade for the rights of black people.

“Look here, I don’t have to get up on stage and tell the people I’m black. Man, they can SEE that!” Smokey stops, stands up and walks over to the closet. “Don’t get me wrong now,” he says, buttoning up a knitted leather and wool latticework cardigan, “this is a beautiful history period for black people. They’re becoming aware of their blackness and they’re digging it!

“But there’s a time and place for everything, I think. I’m proud of my black heritage, sure, but I don’t think the stage is a place to lecture about it. The people come to be entertained. They want to hear “Ooo baby baby” or “Goin’ to A Go Go” or “Tracks of My Tears,” not a lecture. Young people get lectures every day.

“Like I said, I’m for humanity first. I don’t care if a guy’s black, blue, white or orange.” He smiles. “Anybody who’s not a bigot is cool with me.”

Smokey’s lyrical talents have won him two gold records and the top composer’s award from Broadcast Music Incorporated. “I haven’t changed my style much. I try to avoid the new fads, like the psychedelic trend, for instance. I want to write songs that will mean something to people 20 years from now.

“I’ve got no plans for slowing down yet. Motown still has growing pains and I’m going to keep writing songs for a long time.”

Write on, Smokey, write on.

A Down Easter Out West

Biography of a man descended from a successful Maine family, whose ancestor adventured out West where he established a large business enterprise in San Francisco.

The business eventually moved to the famed Silicon Valley. Segments of this history published by the California Historian.

Life in China, Taiwan and the United States

Jen Huang, A Life Story

Biography of a man born of a Chinese farming family, who rose in rank in the Kuomintang army.

The story covers his years as an officer in war-torn China, followed by his years spent in exile in Taiwan. In his later life, he migrated to the United States where he worked in a Chinese restaurant.

Biography interlaced with memory dialogue from oldest daughter.

“I have had a chance now to read over the memoir you helped the Huang family create. It is a wonderful life story of Jen Huang, enriched by the comments of his daughter and the introductions by the two younger generations in the family. Researchers will appreciate the supporting material you have included and the care you took to describe how the finished product evolved, which makes the joint effort between Jen Huang and his daughter Regina much more valuable as a research source. It is a treasure.”
— Ann Lage, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

100 Years with Lillie

Biography of a North Dakota farm girl, who established herself as a cook for lumber camps and in small town cafés.

As a divorcee in the 1930s, she moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where she found work in the homes of some of the area’s most notable families.

A Gentleman

Apple Henley

Albert Thomas Henley, known throughout his life as “Apple,” tells anecdotal stories about his life and family. Born in 1916, into one of the wealthiest families in America, he recalled homes in Long Island, New York, and San Diego, California, during the twenties and thirties. His tales take us through the Depression years and World War II.

Having attended Stanford University, Apple settled in the San Francisco Bay Area after the war where he established a law career in which he was recognized as an expert in water rights.

Apple’s stories also tell us about his years as an early resident of Los Altos Hills, California.

Oral Histories

Buena Vista Café

San Francisco’s landmark bar-restaurant famous for developing and serving the first Irish Coffee in the United States.

This history resulted in an extensive public relations packet.
 
 
 

Elizabeth Cooper Terwilliger

A picture of life on the Honolulu Sugar Plantation circa 1900s.

Terwilliger is a famed California naturalist.
 
 

James Glover

Father of Actor Danny Glover

An oral history of his life and times, archived to the African-American Museum.
 

Vacaville Reporter Archives

Click HERE to view a collection of oral history essays from the newspaper.