Saturday, May 16, 2020

Magic Beans
Marketing Thoughts Offered By Janel Behm

I admit it.
I can’t hide it any longer.
I have a secret identity.

You may know me as a barefooted storyteller with a passion for tales rooted in myth and ancient magic, but long before I became a story artist I was and still am…an entrepreneur.

Over the years, my husband Dennis and I have created, bought and sold several businesses. I don’t pretend to be a marketing expert or advertising guru, but over the years I’ve acquired several “magic beans” of self-promotion that have served me well in my adventure as a storyteller. My “beans” have helped me cultivate opportunities and create gigs at a magical pace with minimal effort.

Five of my favorite magical self-promotion beans:

Magic Bean #1 – Truly tell who you truly are.

Promoting yourself as an artist isn’t selfish or egotistical, it’s actually quite generous. When you tell others what you have to offer, you give them the opportunity to share in the gifts you have been given. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t pretend that what you have to share isn’t of value.

Magic Bean #2 – Do what you do, NOT what you think you can sell.

One of our favorite businesses is a concession stand where we sell funnel cakes at fairs and festivals. We don’t sell pizza, cotton candy, or barbeque, which are also very popular. We sell funnel cakes and we sell a lot of them because they’re the best funnel cakes you’ve ever tasted. Similarly, I tell ancient myths and wisdom tales. Humorous personal narrative and five-minute moth stories are hugely popular right now, but that’s not what I feel called to do. Honing in on your niche doesn’t make you unappealing to the masses, it makes YOU irresistible to YOUR target market.

Magic Bean #3 – Separate your personal prejudice from your professional goals.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with technology which means I love to hate all things digital. Don’t even talk to me about Facebook, it makes my tummy hurt. Professionally, I understand that social media is the most effective way to reach my target market and follow trends in the storytelling world. I’ve learned to set my personal aversion aside so that I can professionally reach my tribe.

Magic Bean #4 – Find the social media sweet spot.

It’s not about how many friends you have on Facebook, it’s about how many of those friends follow you. Post too frequently and you become white noise that no one really hears. Post too little and people forget who you are, and your message never gathers momentum. Craft your posts like you craft your stories…interesting, informative, and entertaining.

Magic Bean #5 – Find a “Media Magician”

The smartest thing I ever did was engage someone to help me with my social media, website, and promotions. My “media magician” spends hours helping me create Facebook posts, adjusting photos, and crafting text that will keep my style consistent across all platforms and in alignment with who I am as a teller. She manages areas of self-promotion that I don’t enjoy which frees me up to do what I LOVE – walking with Story, researching and practicing.

Now, you might be wondering how to find your own media magician and my answer is rather simple: Decide that there’s a place on your team for such a sorcerer and then don’t stop looking until you find one!

Finally, remember that no one can listen to your stories if you don’t tell them you have something special to share.

May these beans help you grow your self-promotion and share the magic of YOU and YOUR stories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Janel Behm is an actress and storyteller from Ohio. She now makes her home in Nokomis, FL. To learn more about Janel, visit her website,

Thursday, April 23, 2020

World Storytelling Cafe Brews New Concept

The World Storytelling cafe was started by Mike And Lucie Anderson in Marrakech. It is an international virtual platform where professional and amateur storytellers are invited to broadcast their tales. 

FSA member Debra Weller is a featured storyteller at The Cafe, and tells us, "I filmed my performance at home with my I-pad. In the instructions Jon or Mike will guide you with performance quality. The finished product can be upload on google docs or iCloud and emailed to them."

Debra says it was a fun experience to be featured on their Facebook Page. 

Daily concerts are posted on the World Storytelling Cafe Facebook page, and on their website.

Check out their FB page here.

To participate go to Contact them and they will send you instructions about uploading your video. The video needs to be a 45 minute performance. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Why Folk and Fairy Tales?

  By Simon Brooks

There is so much publicity and cheer leading for personal narrative that I feel we might be getting away from folk and fairy tales, and losing focus. There is much craft that goes into a well-told personal narrative to make it work for an audience. It is also easy to simply tell a personal story for self-gratification. I was into the poetry open mic scene back in the day and you would hear beautifully crafted poems and some crass work which should have been kept within a bedroom or therapists office. I feel the same at some slams, or open mic storytelling too. There is some high art, and there is some rubbish. It can be the same for folk and fairy tales too.  I have seen stories ruined for me with a bad telling.

I have been asked about the relevance of folk and fairy tales, myths and legends these days, and this saddens me. A growing number of kids don’t know Little Red Riding Hood, and have not heard of King Solomon. There are, in many works, references to such tales, and if the youth of today are not hearing these stories then those references are lost. Reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series of graphic novels, you know Gaiman has a deep level of understanding of mythology. As someone who knows these ancient tales and stories I gain another level of enjoyment of the books. It is not only literary references which are lost but a level of understanding too.

Hansel and Gretel is set in reality. In the days when the story was created, young children, the sick and elderly were given over to the forest in times of starvation, or even when the fear of lack of food became apparent, so that the strongest survived. This does not happen these days, although some cultures as recent as 100 years ago still did this. But children, and the elderly are abandoned, or it can feel like that to them, when parents work three jobs to pay bills, or travel away from home for work, or are just ignored, and the elderly are placed in homes. This story can help young folks process what they might be going through.

Stone Soup is also set in fact. A study of warfare in Europe up to the 1700’s will show you that many battles were fought over the same territory, and the same routes were used to march to these places. Soldiers had to find their own food on route and often stole food (appropriated?!) as they passed through villages and towns. Often these soldiers were starving. Only the officers were well fed and clothed, the conscripted soldiers were not professional soldiers but men gathered by force from their homes to fight a war they were not interested in, nor whose stakes would have any effect on them other than the fighting. If stray soldiers found their way into a town, they would have been ignored, in fact there are historical records stating that some soldiers were hung, or even beaten to death. Understandable when some armies burned crops to stop another army from feeding itself, sending a village or town into starvation. This happened to the same villages and towns, year after year. The story of Stone Soup could have been a true personal narrative at one point. Homer, in the Iliad describes what is now known as PTSD. There is truth and power in the old tales.

These stories can be used to teach about our histories and how our cultures have changed, but they also teach about compassion, and how some things have been happening since time began. Sure, some are pure entertainment, the same as some personal narratives are, but there is a depth which, I feel, folk and fairy tales go to and reach in which personal narrative does not. One can lose oneself in a folk or fairy tale and become any of the characters and be safe, so if the subject is hard, you are one step removed. Personal narratives do not necessarily have that. Listening to a personal story can plunge the listener back to their own trauma, or fear more directly.

As human beings we need to be exposed to many different types and styles of telling. We need to hear different stories just like we need to hear all different types of music.  We need a foundation to build from, not just in telling stories, but in life, and the ancient tales, the myths, legends, folk and fairy tales can do that. They teach us that we can survive, we can process things we do not understand through the ancient stories, they can explain the world around us, and they can, most importantly give us hope. So when someone says to me, ‘Why folk and fairy tales?’ I tell them – hope. They always give us hope, and sometimes a really good laugh, too!

Simon Brooks will be a featured storyteller at theFlorida Storytelling Festival in Mt. Dora, FL,  January 23-26, 2020 He recently performed at the National Storytelling Festival where his animated style drew much praise.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tellabration - It's Florida Storytelling Week!

The Florida House of Representatives passed the bill declaring November 16 - 23, 2019, as "Florida Storytelling Week."

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the celebration of telling stories has become known as Tellabration. This is a worldwide event!

Search for a Tell-a-bration event happening THIS WEEKEND in your area.
Check out the Florida Storytelling Association online calendar:

According to the National Storytelling Network:

TELLABRATION!™ is a worldwide evening of storytelling. It creates a network of storytelling enthusiasts bonded together in spirit at the same time and on the same weekend.
TELLABRATION!™ originator J. G. Pinkerton envisioned this international event as a means of building community support for storytelling. In 1988 the event was launched by the Connecticut Storytelling Center in six locations across the state. A great success, TELLABRATION!™ extended to several other states the following year, and then, in 1990, expanded nationwide under the umbrella of the National Storytelling Network (then called NAPPS, and later the National Storytelling Association).
In 1995, for the first time, there was a TELLABRATION!™ in Japan, brought there by Japanese storyteller Masako Sueyoshi, who had been a part of TELLABRATION!™ when she lived in Connecticut for several years. By 1997, there were TELLABRATION!™ events on every continent but Antarctica. (Anyone know any good penguin storytellers?)
TELLABRATION!™ is traditionally held on the third Saturday in November. Some events, however, may be at an alternate time during the same weekend.
Anyone can produce a TELLABRATION!™: storytelling organizations and centers, schools, libraries, colleges, museums, performing-arts centers, story-swap groups, story enthusiasts, and others.
NSN serves as a partner to producers and a clearinghouse for information. NSN publicizes TELLABRATION!™ events worldwide and offers a Guidebook and Promotional Kit for producers.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Telling and Reading to Elementary School Students  

 Contributed by Pete Abdalla

When I retired almost 20 years ago, I started volunteering in the elementary

schools by telling stories to various classes to encourage reading. To emphasize
how important I thought it was to enjoying reading, in my first meeting with each
class I would point to my watch and say “Do you see what time it is? This is the
time I usually take my nap, but instead I’m here to help you see how much fun
reading can be!”
Before I started volunteering, I built up my repertoire of children’s stories. Some
of the best resources are the “Ready To Tell” books. I still use many of those
stories today, including some for adults. The stories all fit in the time period that
a Teller needs (6 to 10 minutes), the authors give recommendations for the age of
the audience for which the story would be most appropriate and they also give
hints for how to tell the story.
The web site “” is an excellent site to find stories for all ages. The
home page has links to four age groups of students. When you go to the age
group you are interested in, there will be a list of stories, the time each story lasts
and the artist. You click on the story that interests you and hear the artist tell the
story. There are many stories for each age group. For instance, the 4 to 9 age
group has over 140 stories.
You can find an endless number of sites that will spell out stories when you
Google the type of story you are searching for, i.e. folk tales, adventure stories,
love stories, pirate stories etc., etc. In my experience, I have found the above
listed sources to be most satisfying.
For years I only told stories in the classrooms. I would tell something about the
story to set it up, tell the story, then talk about the story and generate questions
about the plot, characters, likes and dislike about the story. One day when I was
visiting my family in Pennsylvania, one of my grandchildren was reading a story to
me. He went along in a dull monotone, just saying words no matter what was
happening in the story. I asked if we could alternate reading and, since I am a real
ham anyway, I read very excitedly. He caught on and really got into the story.

Now, before I tell, I first read a story to the class with lots of expression and
animation to give the students an idea of reading in the same way. I believe that
it is very important that when you are preparing to read, write down any words
that the students might not know and decide on a definition that they can easily
comprehend. If you are going to work with the same classes, that is if you will
read/tell to the same classes, explain some of the terms that define a book. Front
(cover), back, head (top), tail (bottom), spine, endpapers (page glued to the front
and back covers). It can be fun as well as informative. Show how the author
sometimes uses the endpapers to tell you something about the book. Generate
discussion by asking what the cover makes you think the story is about. As you
read, when it is appropriate ask what they think is going to happen next. If it is a
picture book, always hold the book so that they can see the page that you are
reading and make sure you rotate the book to insure all of the kids see the page.
If you asked me what one thing helps the most in telling to Elementary School
students I would tell you to embrace being silly. I sometime just mispronounce a
word that kindergartners know and they think I am the funniest storyteller in
the world. Many of the stories you will tell to this age group involve something
humorous or silly. I practice in front of a mirror when a story involves witches,
animals ogres etc. One story that I tell has three witches and it took me awhile to
come up with three different voices and facial expressions to distinguish between
them. Of course it helps if you have someone who can listen and critique to firm
up the storytelling. One thing I have learned is to always wrap up all details of a
story. For instance, in the “Belly Button Monster”, say that the monster says he
will leave Florida forever. Or in “Jack and the Robbers”, say that Jack’s father tells
the animals they can live on the farm now. If you don’t, you will be asked “But
what happened to…”

If you go to a class on a regular basis, you will know what a rock star feels like.
The kid will love you and you will love them. There is a wonderful feeling when a
child comes up to you and tells you what they have been reading. And, of course,
they will tell you that you are the best storyteller ever!

The uber expressive, marvelously talented Pete Abdalla lives in Orlando, FL, and delights audiences all around the state. You can catch him in Mt. Dora, January 23-26, 2020, as he will be one of the Florida Storytelling Festival's featured performers.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Haunting Tales ~ Ghosts in the Garden

The month of October is full of haunting Storytelling Events.
Check out the FSA calendar online:

Here's one ....
After many years hiatus, "Ghosts in the Garden" are back 
at Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, as ...

Haunting Tales

Fri Oct 11
7:30pm - 10pm

For more events,
check out the FSA calendar online:

Sunday, September 15, 2019


by Morgen Reynolds

I came to storytelling via the stage; I was a theater major in college. A transfer to a smaller college necessitated a change to an English major. Then came love, followed by marriage, then came me with a baby carriage. First there was Isaac. . . followed by little sister Lucy. . and finally our caboose, Emma. Kids, laundry, life, and survival became the order of the day and my time on the stage slipped away.

And still I ached for it. I missed the work, the smells, the study, all of it. But, how could I do nightly rehearsals when dinner had to be made? And then there was the personal matter of content. I had some lines I wouldn’t cross for a character and that put a limit on what I could and would do on stage. It seemed my theatrical path had run its proverbial course.

Then, as silly as it might seem. . I had a dream. And in the dream I was on a stage, just me, all alone. I wasn’t really in a play. I was “telling” a play. I woke up and thought, “Hey, I could do that! I could just tell a play!”

What I didn’t know was that people were already doing this--they were just calling it storytelling. I had never seen or heard a storyteller, at least not a professional one. I had yet to discover the world of the teller and her festivals. Nope, I just had a hunch and an idea. So, I went with it. I started telling stories. Now, I was on the stage all by my lonesome. But even if I was the only one on the stage, I was not the only one in the story.

One of the most important rules as an actor is this: LISTEN. If you merely memorize your lines and recite them on your cue, then the audience might be impressed with your memorization skills, but they won’t go with you on your journey. Listening to the other actors, no matter how many times you’ve heard them say those lines brings you into that moment. You are aware of the nuanced changes and can shift accordingly. And the audience will be right there with you, experiencing it all for the first time, even if it is your 30th time in a row. Listening makes the magic.

Storytelling requires listening. If a story is too perfectly memorized, the audience might get the sense that it doesn’t matter if they are there or not. Listening to them, watching them, and responding to them completes the circle. Then, the story belongs to everyone. The best storytellers are tuned into the audience. They make eye contact, shift the story, and adapt to changes. Their stories are a living creation, not a memorized soliloquy. It is a wonderful thing to watch. How do we get there? I think we get there the same way we get anywhere we aren’t right now. We start moving and we practice.

We try to look people in the eyes more the next time we tell a story. We look for signals that we are losing them. We listen carefully to everything that is happening before we start our story, and try to add one detail on the fly that would feel like a little easter egg the audience finds in our story. We memorize our story, yes, but we also mark some points where we could play a little. And, once in awhile, if we are brave enough, we create a live story in the moment with the audience. I’ve done this before and it is a little terrifying and a lot magical.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that humans love stories. But, another universally acknowledged truth is this: people love being heard. Yes, we are the storytellers. But the story listeners have something to say as well. They say it how they are sitting, laughing, looking, and thinking. If we listen carefully, they will help shape the story into something new, right then. And we will all be better for it.

Morgen Reynolds will be a featured storyteller at the 2020 Florida Storytelling Festival. Learn more about her work below.

Find me on YouTube!