Category Archives: storytelling

My Betas a Thank You!

A writer’s and a storyteller’s journey will begin with story development through research. Then there is a first product and a joy at completing this piece of coalesced magic. Whether this is an oral performance piece or a book manuscript it is a story in its infancy. There is a moment of short-lived thrill that this story is born. The characters come alive; it breathes. Then the reality sets in, this is a rough, rough draft.

My first go through is to find the obvious errors. In telling the story this can be as simple as a scene out of sequence or a lack of introduction or description. In my writing it will be a collection of typos that the computer generously highlights. Then with a finer perception I look for the here that should be hear, the there that should be their. Those the computer only sees as spelled correctly but I look and say how far ahead was my mind that my fingers typed the wrong words unwittingly. You see I’m often several sentences ahead in plot from where I am in typing. My mind is racing about constructing the roads the story will go down.

Once I have made those corrections I am feeling satisfied. This has taken hours on a full manuscript. I’m not counting as that is too daunting to know in a factual form. Now there is a readable script of story. I savor sections and try new voices for oral performance. I may try walking through passages are the motions and facial expressions on cue?  When I’m relatively happy with the work I’ve done to smooth out the bumps in the road I’m ready to share.

This is where the Beta comes in. Some projects have one or two, others have several. I use a story beta that listens to oral performance and story betas to read manuscripts. Right here, right now I need to say thank you for your time and effort!!! Some of their help is the same for either an oral performance or a written piece. They listen and critique with where they were caught missing a thread of story. They comment on the f=voice of certain scenes and the placement. The beach is always referred to in the same place or the person is always the same height when I look to them. This invaluable feedback often comes with some handwritten notes. The written notes are especially important with a long manuscript. The fact that I am always working on multiple projects at once means the notes will bring me back to where I’m working, I can check them off as I go through the story and make changes. Betas are a God send!! Some ask questions which require me to think about my characters in a light I may not have. Did something precipitate that anger? Where is the parent in this scene? Have you considered having the character be less perfect, she might blow up at her frustration.? When I get questions, I take time to read passages and see how that comment was born and how I might rectify it. Of course, I don’t have to follow my Beta’s comments but most of the time I find them right on target.

How do I choose a Beta? First I ask myself; Do I need an expert’s opinion on any portion of this story? For example, in a manuscript I refer to a fish ladder and Salmon restocking. I sent that to a beta who read the fish sections for accuracy of description and detail. His background as the fish expert was invaluable. Not many people know the intricacies of that but if I was wrong misinformation is being spread and you just know some expert will read it and comment.  In another place in the manuscript I talk about having wills drawn up by a lawyer. You can be sure I asked a lawyer to read through that section. Business deals, historical facts, weather in a certain place, mechanical or some other specialty. Those are great places to use a field expert as a Beta Reader. Another Beta reader I had for a manuscript should be a writer. Your writer friends and critique group buddies are a good place to start to find someone with time and inclination to Beta read your work. The input of a writer can run the gamut from grammar to structure. They will ask the questions, seek plot holes and comment on where they need more depth to fully understand. Be prepared to offer some special thanks and return the favor one day.

My oral performance stories also use a beta listener. Sometimes they are written and can be read but for me more often the story is a collection of notes that grows and refines with each telling. Here I use Beta Listeners to hone my performance and respond to feedback given. I find them equally important in creating the final product of an oral piece as a written piece. The goal remains the same to convey a story to an appreciative audience and not lose them on the journey.

Here I am today saying a huge THANK YOU!!! To my Betas past and future you help me shine. What would my stories be with out you?

My Roots Are Showing; Collecting and Telling Historical Family Stories

July 21-24, 2016 The National Storytelling Conference will be held in Kansas City MO.  The host organization is the National Storytelling Network. www.storynet.org their twitter handle is @nsnstorycon  There will be a steady update of happenings from the National Conference where storytellers from around the country and even a few from around the world will… Continue Reading

3 Reasons to Attend Connecticut Storytelling Festival

Only three reasons? It is hard for me to choose three reasons to attend the Connecticut Storytelling Festival, but here I go. http://www.connstorycenter.org/festival.htm 1.) 2016 Festival Headliner Tim Lowry; is funny, interesting, educational, and a general character, a historical speaker bringing history to life! http://www.storytellertimlowry.com/ Well that is a mouthful, but you will see Tim… Continue Reading

Power In the Classroom – Storytelling Ellis Island

The room hushed, eyes all looked expectantly toward the guest. She stood at the front of the classroom, took a deep breath and held the trance a few extra seconds. Her words spilled out. At first the words came in a soft trickle then stronger as the story grew. The story character climbed the gang plank… Continue Reading

Take Back Childhood

Can you count 10 moments in childhood that you remember as being near perfect? Here are some of mine. These memories have a new job…. #1) Lazy summer days, no agenda, just staying outside all day! #2) Ice Cream Cones – take it back tonight, go out for ice cream! #3) Swimming, the Beach or… Continue Reading

Fair Season, I Have The Story

Children grow up! One minute you are wrapped up in a whirlwind life filled with kids. The next minute you sit back and watch other people working with their kids, and it’s too quiet.          No time of year makes me realize that more, than fair season. We were one of those families who brought… Continue Reading

50 Objects 50 Stories, Connecticut Historical Society

  Connecticut Historical Society had a great idea! They have a new exhibit that highlights 50 varied objects from Connecticut, along with the story of the object. The objects themselves are a varied lot, they range from a Space Suit to a Revolutionary period diary of State Hero Nathan Hale and on to a Pepe’s… Continue Reading

Ancestors at Sea

Did your ancestors work  the sea? What immigrant ship did your ancestors arrive on?  Tell family stories with accuracy to detail, with a visit to a nautical museum or website. Here are some places to begin your voyage of discovery, the family stories from the sea. The whale boat above, is an image from Mystic Seaport,… Continue Reading

5 Ways to Preserve Family Stories

The teen sat on the park bench, hungry, tired, jobless, a boy of New Haven, Connecticut. He wondered what the world would hold for him. He sat staring into space, after awhile his focus landed on a beautiful girl across the street, near the corner of Church and Chapel Streets. She was made of wood! It was… Continue Reading

5 Tips for Memorial Day Family Stories

Memorial Day 2015  Who in your family has a story that needs to be collected before it’s too late? How did they serve our nation? Where were they sent in the service? What branch of the military were they in? My father; the late Herman F. Marshall, a member of the U.S. Army, during WWII.… Continue Reading

Family Recipes, 5 Questions for Family Stories

  Food and Family, the two can hardly be separated.  Family events and every day suppers hold lots of food memories and they are a good place to start collecting family stories too. Everyone has a food story to share! Are you ready to collect a family story? You can ask your kids your elders… Continue Reading

What Does Your Family Sound Like?

Every family has a certain playlist. That constant background music or noise that is seldom acknowledged. When I was a teen I babysat for a family, it was a no TV house, the constant background there was classical music piped softly to every room. It was a serene household, but I always had to fight… Continue Reading

Ties to a Shipyard Story

Allen, that is a family name, my Paternal Grandmother was Pauline Allen Marshall. She was from Port Greville, Nova Scotia Canada.  Here she is as a young woman in Rye New Hampshire.   She came to the United States as a young teen to work in the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester, NH. Allen is an… Continue Reading

What is Wikipedia saying about your Storytelling Festival? NOTHING! Unless YOU change that!

Shared from the National Storytelling Network blog, co-authored by Norah Dooley and Carolyn Stearns   http://blog.storynet.org/what-is-wikipedia-saying-about-your-storytelling-festival-nothing-unless-you-change-that     What is Wikipedia saying about your Storytelling Festival? NOTHING! Unless YOU change that!. Continue Reading

Weathervane Story Resources; Everythings Ducky

Weathervane Story Resources; Everythings Ducky

A Duck in flight tops this building at a fair and tells us which way the wind blows. I love the artistry of the wings, very close to life like. Our foul friends show up in stories let’s see what we can find!   Let’s start our duck resource list with a Russian Folk Tale… Continue Reading

Where do Fish Stories Come From?

Where do Fish Stories Come From?

         Where do fish stories come from? How do we find the vehicle to tell a story and make it compelling for the listening experience.  I am a performance storyteller for all ages, my current project is for a curriculum guided school based program. Whose voice should the story represent and what message do I need… Continue Reading

I’m Leaving You

I’m Leaving You

    My close friends won’t be surprised by my declaration of independence. My neighbors won’t hold any grudge although some will miss socializing with “us” as a couple. I will learn to be social without the pain of the long tenuous relationship.    We set out in our relationship so many years ago. We had the… Continue Reading

The Birth of an Audio CD

The Birth of an Audio CD

         How many hours, how many emails, how many years? Yes, years from start of the CD  idea to CD in hand.  In order to make the best CD, I needed to be ready, and so did the material. This is a storytelling CD, but the same could be said for music, you have to… Continue Reading

Snow Day…Again

Snow Day…Again

      Another Connecticut snow day has me locked away in my home office. I had work to get done, but since I was up early my long day included some arts.         I had a fun time exploring the new set of watercolors, they are fancy, in little aluminum tubes. I painted  this Cod, that… Continue Reading

8 Things to Do When it is Wicked Cold

8 Things to Do When it is Wicked Cold

                                   I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring! It won’t be here for awhile yet in Connecticut and even longer if you live north of this latitude. So I gathered some ideas for things to do when the North wind blows and the snow piles up and the little red line… Continue Reading

2013 National Storytelling Festival

2013 National Storytelling Festival

The National Storytelling Festival       What an adventure it is to attend the National Storytelling Festival! I was invited by my friend Norah Dooley www.norahdooley.com who would be telling in the Exchange Place. I have wanted to go to the festival for a long time and 2013 with Norah’s invite, I finally made it there. We’ve travelled… Continue Reading

Hands Wide Open; Reviewed

Hands Wide Open; Reviewed

Hands Wide Open a CD by Ms. Sheila Arnold Storyteller          Oh! Ms. Sheila what a collection of stories to touch the heart and warm the soul! I was swept away and lingered in the car listening to the last, not yet ready to leave your rich voice and soothing words. The opening story, Weeping Willow… Continue Reading

Job Posting: Troll Caretaker

Job Posting: Troll Caretaker

                                Caretaker Wanted: for single male troll        Person of interest in employment as Troll Caretaker should apply by visiting the realty site and arrange a tour of the home. The  current troll keepers are moving on. The well established and low maintenance troll wishes new caretaker to be easy going and patient with troll like behaviors. New… Continue Reading

Why I Tried Out for America’s Got Talent

Why I Tried Out for America’s Got Talent

  “You went to New York City for the America’s Got Talent T.V. Show auditions …….Really? Why, How ? What was it like? Tell me more!” I’ve heard that a lot in the last week! Imagine this scenario:“Hello CBS Broadcasting how much is a 2 minute commercial?                                        A few questions, of course, yes, Prime Time,… Continue Reading

I Was Absent, But I Produced…

I Was Absent, But I Produced…

       I was absent from my blog.Was there homework? Is there a new assignment?  I took a hiatus from writing and posting, chasing articles and images, I just took a break.  I believe in the power of my blog to reach people and to get information I feel relevant, collected and redistributed. A little bit… Continue Reading

5 Items to Pack for Storytelling with Children

5 Items to Pack for Storytelling with Children

I’m off to a storytelling gig with children.Time to pack my big canvas tote bag. I always prepare a program and some bonus or extra materials. You never know, extra kids, need to shift focus due to unforeseen event, I’m ready. My favorite reason to be flexible, “kids say the darnedest things” thanks Art Linkletter for the… Continue Reading

Days 2 and 3 Middle School Student Storytelling

Days 2 and 3 Middle School Student Storytelling

I began the Vacation Arts Experience 2012 offered by EastConn  www.eastconn.org with the distribution of stories to the middle school age students. They had 3 minutes to  scan a story and move to the next, until they found one they wanted to read  through. By the end of their first class in storytelling they had read the story… Continue Reading

Teach Storytelling to Middle School Students- YES!

Teach Storytelling to Middle School Students- YES!

Saying yes to teaching a spring vacation storytelling class was a “no brainer”, as the kids say. I love helping kids discover their voice and the power of story….. Day One  Four rotations will come to me over the course of the day. Each group will have a high school aged guide. They will stay… Continue Reading

Nautical Storytelling and Sea Chantey Music

Sea Chantey Demonstration at Mystic Seaport     I have immersed myself in nautical research for a forth coming nautical epic storytelling. I willingly signed on to Mystic Seaport’s Sea Chantey class. www.mysticseaport.org  Four weeks of singing sea chanteys and learning about the music of the sea and the work it was created to support. It is… Continue Reading

School Day  and Story Night

School Day and Story Night

A great school day looks like this:                                                                                     For a storyteller a great school day is getting to share stories with eager listeners. Recently I was  fortunate to share my day with the students and staff at my neighborhood school, Annie Vinton Elementary School in Mansfield, CT.   http://www.mansfieldct.gov/content/11140/default.aspx         Pre-K through 4th grade came… Continue Reading

Weather Vanes Story Resources part 4

Weather Vanes Story Resources part 4

Here is a collection of resources on Deer  etc: How Lizard Beat Big Deer  from storyteller Mike Lockett:www.mikelockett.com/stories.php?actionview&id=7 Deer Hunters Share their stories – how legends are made!www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/multimedia/radio/deer-stories/ From The native American Cultures A Sampling:Deer Woman:www.ghouli.org/GHOSTSTORY/DeerWoman.htm www.angelfire.com/ct/deerwhorns/stories.html  Seems to be some strong natural connection between storytellers and Moose, see below; A whole herd lives up… Continue Reading

Fairy Think-ets Game Review

Fairy Think-ets Game Review

                   Fairy Think-ets by Think-a-lot Toys Review www.think-a-lot.com Once Upon A Time…. It can begin that way but where the tale turns to from there is any ones guess. With the Think-a-lot Fairy set of trinkets imagination is the key to a classic or not so classic fairy tale. With cues from the  selection of  a tiny item… Continue Reading

Think-Ets Game Review

Think-Ets Game Review

Review of Think-ets by Think-a-lot Toys  www.think-a-lot.com Not going out to face the bustle of Black Friday Shopping? You won’t find me out there either! I want to stay home and play a family game, I might even do some online shopping. I will be looking at my list of naughty and nice and deciding… Continue Reading

Story Play Cards; Game Review

Story Play Cards; Game Review

Five Stars for the StoryPlay Cards  by Think-a-lot Toys!!    www.think-a-lot.com   (while you are visiting their site sign up for the  free newsletter you might win a Think-ets game.                                                                                I opened the box with such anticipation for the fun it held inside. I was not to be disappointed. I took out the double deck of… Continue Reading

The Gospel of Mark Alive: Storyteller Rev. Bert Marshall

The Gospel of Mark Alive: Storyteller Rev. Bert Marshall

Stop right now and check November 27, 2011 on your calendar! Sure hope you are free at 2:00 p.m. for this very impressive performance of:  “The Gospel of Mark Alive”  a storytelling performance by Reverend Bert Marshall at First Church of Christ Mansfield Center, CT.                                                                                   Suggested Donation $5.00 per person $15.00 per family. We… Continue Reading

Autumn Colors Assignment

Autumn Colors Assignment

Autumn  Colors Time to Practice Storytelling Technique with Prompts 2011 will be a year to remember the lack of color by. The winds of Irene ( Hurricane downgraded to Tropical Storm) wrecked havoc with new England’s quintessential  fall tourism drive.  There are some stunning tress out there but the hills a less aglow and the … Continue Reading

The Bosun’s Pipe A Calling

The Bosun’s Pipe A Calling

It was not so long ago when I was playing with a slide whistle that I remembered a great whistle. It was a shiny Bosun’s Whistle that had been in the family. I was not sure who it belonged to , but I do remember that I was entranced by it as a child. The… Continue Reading

Education In Cubes – Not Just Child’s Play

Education In Cubes – Not Just Child’s Play

The nine dice rolled across the table top and the students clustered to look at the outcome.  Excited voices called out the images that landed face up on the special dice of the game Rory’s Story Cubes www.storycubes.com   Laughter and groans ensued as each player recognized their challenge of incorporating the image into a group story.… Continue Reading

Secret 6 of Boston Supply Guns to Raid

Secret 6 of Boston Supply Guns to Raid

Guns in cases labeled Bibles or Books      That was how guns were shipped from Boston to Kansas in support of the abolitionist movement before the Civil War began.  Six men of the greater Boston area bankrolled the movement to make Kansas a free state ( slave free)  and to provide leader John Brown with… Continue Reading

Village Smithy

Village Smithy

                                                                            anvil Blacksmith Stories Link: www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/stories www.story-lovers.com/listsblacksmithstories.html Terminology of the Blacksmith: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacksmith                                                   coal fire  and red hot     Functional work of the smithy- today most blacksmiths do  not shoe horses, farriers trim horses feet and shape and put on their shoes. ( This big draft horse is sporting toe clips to hold the shoe on in… Continue Reading

Willimantic Brewing Company and VoiceMail

Willimantic Brewing Company and VoiceMail

Welcome to the Willimantic Brewing Company, Housed in Willimantic CT. ‘s former Post Office  building. www.willibrew.com                                                                               Do you want a tempting appetizer? A full dinner?  Want to try the in house brew? Would you like a story with your dinner?    Let Me Recommend;                                            VOICEMAIL!You can catch VoiceMail once a month at Willi Brew.… Continue Reading

Robin’s Alive –  Game & Story from Ages Past

Robin’s Alive – Game & Story from Ages Past

Game and a Story to Share Children’s Games Played in Streets, School Yards and Camps for Centuries, often were related to events and stories of our history and peoples.Here is  an adaptation to Robin’s Alive to be played by a group of children or youth. There is also a story to correspond with the game. This… Continue Reading

Boom Box Parade

Boom Box Parade

            What does a town do when they can’t get a band to march in their parade?         Resort to good old fashioned Yankee Ingenuity! Kathy Clark did that 26 years ago in coming up with an outrageously simple solution. Everyone carry a boom box radio and the get the main St. radio station WILI  www.wili.com… Continue Reading

The Connecticut Charter Oak

The Connecticut Charter Oak

The Connecticut Charter Oak, what a story! Spring rain on the leaves of a young descendant of the CT. Charter Oak It is Memorial Day weekend and I am reminded  that we are celebrating freedoms earned my many Connecticut citizens. I am in awe of the strength, ingenuity, wit and talents of the Connecticut people.… Continue Reading

Review: Tales From The Hills By Mike Lockett

Review: Tales From The Hills By Mike Lockett

Tales From the Hills  A Storytelling CD by Mike Locket          The soft mountain music eases us into the CD and whisks us away to a front porch nestled along a creek bed in the cusp of a Appalachian mountain. A tail of wood smoke curls down from a chimney and carries the scent of old… Continue Reading

Christian Storytelling Conference Coming- My Photo Inspirations

Christian Storytelling Conference Coming- My Photo Inspirations

My friends Buck Creacy and  Dr. Michael Lockett are part of the team that organizes this conference. They point out this is not performance storytelling but a conference on story as a communication tool.  I suggest you have a look at the list of who is telling and check out their web page. I was… Continue Reading

Unicorn Spotted In New York? White Deer Stories

Whenever nature paints her palette with a new color or a profound event then stories tell us why. For centuries the stories and legends  , myths and hunters tales have captivated our imagination  as we hear about the spirits in the White Deer. I’ve seen one myself, it is magical especially on a foggy morning… Continue Reading

Trojan Horse A Story for All Ages

Trojan Horse A Story for All Ages

                                                                               The story of the Trojan Horse has been passed down for centuries and become the subject of plays, and movies.  The value of  Greek Myths in education as a tool for understanding cultures and  for building an understanding of history can’t be measured.  The Horse figure is a strong attraction, leading to interest in… Continue Reading

Playdough Storytelling Contest

Start with Playdough storytelling for an idea on how this works Make some homemade playdough , just because it’s fun Tell a story and video  a clip of it  To  ENTER  Subscribe or follow this blog …then send your video clip by emailing it to me at mothermoo2001@yahoo.comor a link to it posted on You-Tube! A winner will… Continue Reading

Which hand should I hold the baton in? Be Passionate

Which hand should I hold the baton in? The video is a definition in motion of passion. Click and watch the video. There is no doubt that this young man is passionate about music. It is infectious. When we are passionate other people pay attention and try to figure out why and what makes that… Continue Reading