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Course Overview

  • 1

    Welcome to Sensitive Subjects - Writing about the hard stuff

    • Overview of this course

    • Intro - Rob's story - Quarks of Light

    • Walk through the course interface and format

    • Additional instructor notes about the class format

    • You will need...

    • Download the workbook

    • Getting support along the way

  • 2

    What could possibly go wrong? Spotting the danger zones

    • Your version of the truth

    • Charging in with sensitive information

    • Setting the record straight

    • Afraid to get sued

    • Holding back because the past was painful

    • Unsure because the truth is unflattering to others

    • Fear and shame

    • Exercise - catalog your fears

  • 3

    Mindset shifts to navigate sensitive subjects

    • The value of grappling (it's hard because it's hard)

    • Mindset 1 - Allowing space for other versions

    • Mindset 2 - Sensitivity and empathy

    • Mindset 3 - The power of vulnerability

    • The cost of getting it wrong

  • 4

    Practical Wisdom for dealing with sensitive subjects (Role models)

    • My journey in navigating the truth

    • What I've learned about handling family sensitivities

    • Examples of when not to share the hard stuff

    • How we handled secrets of the deceased

    • An example of people speaking their truth

    • An ethics framework

    • How one man's history taught me that context is everything

    • A pioneer story illustrates the value of writing about the hard stuff

    • Examples of true stories fictionalized

    • How I do it - seeking wisdom and inspiration

  • 5

    Finding your way to your why

  • 6

    Getting support

    • The role of therapy

    • The value of, journals, diaries, and morning pages

    • Getting support - DNAngels

    • Talk it through with a trusted friend

    • Seeking legal advice

    • Post in the Facebook group

    • Get a writing group

    • Coaching and developmental editing

  • 7

    Bonus material: Practical tips and further reading

    • A Moth grand slam champ - practical tips for telling the truth

    • Addressing concerns about getting sued

    • Guidelines for confidentiality and ethics

    • Write first drafts with raw emotions, edit with sensitivity

    • Brene Brown's work on vulnerability

    • Family stories tell us we can do it: From Sheri Dew, CEO of Deseret Book at RootsTech

    • Penny Walters - ethical dilemmas in genealogy

    • Journaling course

  • 8

    Taking the next steps

    • Final recap - when you tell your story, it changes the ending

    • Before you go...


  • How long will this class take me?

    You can watch all the videos within about two hours, with exercises to complete at various stages throughout.

  • Is this self-paced?

    Yes. You can start or stop whenever you like and work on a schedule that is comfortable for you. The lessons are organized in short, bite-sized chunks to make it easy to start and stop.

  • How much of this course is video?

    Nearly all the lessons are short videos (mostly 3-7 minutes). Some are formatted like it's you and me together one-on-one, some are from an in-person class. The other lessons consist of exercises and additional reading. You can preview lessons above to get an idea.

Teaching and Presenting Experience

Speaker RootsTech - February 26-29, Salt Lake City, Utah. Register at RootsTech.org
National Genealogical Society - National Conference Speaker
Weber State University Center for Continuing Education
Long View of History - 67th Annual Utah State Historical Society Conference, 2018
Snow College keynote speaker
Southern California Genealogical Society Speaker
Ogden-Weber Technical College
Women in Business speaker


I now feel inspired


“I have loved your classes. They have changed my life. I now feel inspired to share with others.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed your 'Life Story' class.”


“I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Life Story' class at Weber State. The storyboard info was marvelous and extremely helpful...”

A delightful learning experience


“Your class was a delightful learning experience. It was nice to realize that a few well-told stories of the most impactful lessons of your life are enough to pass on to posterity. Thanks again for your inspiration.”

You are a fabulous teacher


“I never realized how important writing is to me...I feel blessed to have found your class! Thank you for giving me the tools, and now the confidence, to take the words from my head and place them on paper. You are a fabulous teacher."

Encouragement I need to finish my book


“Thank you for teaching this class. It is making my life better and giving me the encouragement I need to finish my book.”

Thank you!


"Thank you! Best class I attended at RootsTech."

It provided a necessary means of accountability


“I have had a terrific time in your class. It has provided a necessary means of accountability. I felt inclined to write some life stories but just wasn't applying the chair glue to do it.”

So many inspiring ideas!


"So many inspiring ideas! Great job!"

Very interesting!


"I really enjoyed your class and feel like I was set to go on a journey. I have to confess that I was not sold on the storyboard idea at the beginning of the class, but as I have studied it and learned a bit more, I can see and recognize it not only in books and movies but in real life. Very interesting!"