I Never Dreamed I'd Do a Book so Big... But, Wow!

by Jiffy Page

Seeing the books others had done lit a spark in me...

Sandy, with Paul's book...

It all began when Renee', a member of a book club I belong to, asked Jiffy to attend to talk about telling your story in memoir and photobooks. Seeing the books others had done lit a spark in me. I was the first to sign up for a follow-up discussion; I now could see how to turn old photos into something more meaningful than piles in boxes!

I signed up for BookCamp and, as my project, I put together a brief history of the Narvell Family (my family of origin) to give my children, nieces, and nephews as a Christmas present. I loved creating the photobook. Though it was a brief (20 pages), it gave them an interesting and fun history of the family illustrated with photos, many of which they’d never seen, with a note on the back cover that read, “To be continued….” And it will be.

Meanwhile, my husband, Paul, was approaching his 70th birthday and I wanted to create a memorable event - a big surprise birthday party as well creating some keepsakes for him. I made a quilt out of his bicycle t-shirts, had him do a recording with our son for StoryCorps and had his DNA tested through Ancestry.com.


But the biggest gift I planned was a book.

Paul had taken memoir classes, first an Emory evening class and then ongoing classes at Callanwolde. Rather than make just a photobook, I asked him if he wanted to combine childhood pictures with some of his writings. It took some discussion and coordination, but, with Jiffy’s guidance, I formulated my idea.

That idea became a 116-page book which included Paul’s essays about his childhood with lots of pictures that I found in dusty boxes, as well letters, handwritten notes, and newspaper articles.

I never dreamed of doing a project so big, but, Wow!


When it was done I was thrilled. And, most importantly, so was Paul!

My dedication said the following –

“Dear Paul, It has been a wonderful, stressful, happy, sad and, above all, thoughtful process to create this book. It is your story, told in your words along with pictures from your past. It also includes pictures that I chose to include. As you like to say, “That’s my wife!” But most importantly, it is done with love. Happy 70th Birthday…Sandy”

I look forward to dreaming up…and creating…my next photobook project! Maybe it's time to continue my family’s story…


- Sandy Thim


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