Thursday, November 30, 2017

Food, Glorious Food!

Image-Google Images 

Thanksgiving is already under our belts (or should that be bulging at our waistlines)?   But as the rest of the holiday season approaches it got me thinking about food, and how it shapes our celebrations, mirrors our many and varied cultures, and is simply an integral part of how we come together at this time of year with family and friends.

One of my earliest holiday childhood memories growing up in England is being at Grandad’s house, to stir the Christmas Pudding (a mixture of dried fruits, candied peel, a few shots of Irish Whiskey and a bottle of Guinness stout).  He would ceremoniously hand us a huge wooden spoon.  The tradition was that each grandchild – eight of us all together - took a turn.  Our job was to stir the thick, goopy, cake-like mixture, drop in a silver sixpenny piece (for luck!) and make a wish.  If I close my eyes I can still smell the rich fruit spiked in boozy liquid, and hear the mixture slurping in the chipped earthenware bowl as we stirred.   He told us it was a secret family recipe handed down from his great-grandmother.    Sadly he never passed it on before he died and Christmas Pudding has never quite tasted the same ever since.

More recently I was delighted to be invited to share in the celebration of Hanukkah with my dear friend, Madeline.  I savored my first taste of Latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce.   If I close my eyes I can still taste the crunch of the pancakes and the sweetness of the apple.  There is also the bitter taste of defeat as I failed miserably at Dreidel!

It’s amazing when you ask people about food and how many memories that evokes.  Foods they loved.  Foods they hated!  What foods do you remember from childhood that were always part of your family holiday celebration?  Is it granny’s homemade apple pie; mom’s signature sausage and chestnut stuffing; auntie’s giblet gravy; dad’s sugar cookies; or is it boiled-to-death mushy Brussel Sprouts that your cousin insisted she make? 

In this busy season take a few minutes to sit down with your favorite holiday beverage – a warm cup of apple cider; mulled wine; a chilled glass of Chardonnay, or even a nice hot cup of tea – and close your eyes. Think back.   What foods do you remember?  Can you smell it – was the odor sweet, or salty?  How did it sound – did it sizzle in the pan?  Can you taste it?    Did it crunch in your mouth or did it melt?  Did you eat it with your hands and get sticky fingers?  Describe every mouthful.  Was it delicious? Or was it disgusting (like the mushy Brussel Sprouts)? 

As storytellers, we all like to share our heritage and there is no easier way to do this than with food.  And if you can’t think of anything right now, then pay just a little extra attention this year to all that festive fare around us, and look for the stories behind it.   I’m sure you’ll find at least one tale you’ll want to share.

Happy Holidays!

Louise O’Leary

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Teller's Tale - The National Storytelling Festival 2017

By: Madeline L Pots

I arrived in Jonesborough on Thursday afternoon. I have been to this festival many times, but this year I was an invited teller.  I was scheduled to perform at Exchange Place, a concert that featured six tellers new to the national stage.  It put me on the inside of the festival, close up to all those tellers I had admired from the depths of those huge festival tents that are scattered about the tiny town of Jonesborough, TN.  At a welcome dinner for all the tellers, I sat surrounded by all my storytelling idols.  I had to keep myself in check to not appear like a star-struck fan.  If there is a hog heaven for tellers – that was it.

The festival was amazing.  I saw Elizabeth Ellis take the stage with just a few days’ notice.  She was filling in for David Holt who had a pinched nerve.   She told a beautiful and long story, flawlessly.
Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Bil Lepp, Andy Offutt Irwin, Geraldine  Buckley…  the list of my favorite famous tellers went on and on.   And then there were tellers I had heard for the first time the previous year, like Doug Elliott whose stories reveal his profound respect for all nature.  I was so happy to listen to him again.  There were new discoveries -   Josh  Goforth whose musical talent and love of family touched me through and through … and Caludia  Schmidt with energy that took my breath away.  An amazing cast of storytellers presented every style of telling I could imagine … and then some!

Jonesborough in October is a magical place.  The leaves are just starting to turn and the town is decked out for the fall holidays.   The lineup of tellers is beyond impressive.  The people are friendly and the climate is a refreshing change from our endless Florida summer.

I offer this suggestion:  Go to the National Storytelling Festival.   Put it on your calendar and make the trip happen.  And oh yes, bring a cushion to sit on because the stories go from morning to night ….

And BTW, my story went well.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Place to Belong

Photo Courtesy Google Image 
One of the needs of the human spirit, right up there with shelter and food, is the need to belong to a group. We need to feel connected to others and know that we have common interests and dreams. Many of us have found fulfillment in some areas of our lives by belonging to different kinds of groups: churches, fraternities, circles, clubs, and more.

But for those of us whose souls are sweetly stalked by stories asking to be told and heard, we need to belong to a community of people with like passion. We long for that communion with others who understand the drive to not just tell stories, but also the need to carefully craft a tale.

For some of us, we don’t need to tell the stories so much, but we do need to hear the stories and learn more about ourselves through that listening. We want to be taken away through words to strange and wonderful lands and come safely home again.
Did we just describe you? Are you a teller, a listener, or perhaps both? Do you need a community of story tellers and seekers to give you that fellowship of living life beyond just the moment?

We have that community for you. The Florida Association of Storytellers (FSA) is comprised of storytellers, story listeners and story lovers.  We are people just like you, brought together by story.

The mission of the FSA is:
·         to preserve, perpetuate and promote the art of storytelling in Florida,
·         to educate, nurture and welcome new storytellers,
·         to preserve our cultural and personal history through story,
·         to bring storytelling to new audiences, and
·         to encourage cross-cultural sharing through story.

Are you hearing the call to belong to such a group? If so, you can become a member of FSA and fulfill that need to be connected to folks who understand your story.

If you would like to join FSA, you will benefit in ways more than just the crucial drive to belong. Please take a quick look at the list of Benefits of Membership on our website and then, come on, join! This is where you belong.

Wanda Violet

Photo Courtesy Google Image

Friday, August 25, 2017

Who-whoo Is Ready for Spooky Tales?

Schools all over the country are back in session, and even though some regions have yet to feel a break in the temperature, our hearts know that fall is arriving soon in all its cool and colorful splendor.

 Picture credit, Google Images
As a storyteller, the thoughts of upcoming autumnal telling opportunities are perhaps nudging you to consider some tales appropriate for the season. That, of course, means having a story or three or more ready for Halloween. While you may already have some favorites, or maybe some of you don’t, it is still a good time to ponder this genre with more clarity and vision. The September/October, 2016 issue of FSA’s e-magazine, “Inside Story” has some helpful hints as you prepare to get spooky.

In her article “Got Grimm’s?” Ingrid Nixon encourages you to look again at Grimm’s fairy tales and consider a few things:
  1. Picking up a book of their tales and reading will be a great place to start.
  2. Know a bit of history of the tale that you select and see how time and tradition have modified it.
  3. Find what truths that scary image and its actions are telling us.
  4. Have fun as you thoughtfully examine them and give them your own twist. 

Before you close the e-magazine, be sure to check out the other helpful and entertaining articles.

  • If you do, you will find out how Janice Del Negro “excavates and decorates the bones of traditional folk and fairy tales.”
  • Shhh, grab your oil lantern and keep your ears open for some scary hoof beats coming down the gravel paths of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Linda Schuyler Ford’s lovely tour of those haunted grounds and the stories buried there.
  • Oh, and finally, if you are telling to teens, you will want to know which urban legend was voted most popular by teenagers.

All this and more in that packed issue of “Inside Story”.  So, pour yourself a hot brew and be sure to lock your doors while you read.

Happy Halloween and Happy Spooky Tales Telling to you! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime!

Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime!

We are in the midst of summer and, in spite of a heatwave in many areas, folks are making the best of it - ‘tis the season of lemonade, watermelon, flip flops, family vacations, and air conditioning.
Life takes on a different pace. Schools are out, so school storytelling opportunities are not as abundant. In some states, festivals are on hold until cooler temperatures. So we find some time that we might not have in the other three seasons.

No problem! Whether you are a beginning teller or a seasoned veteran of tale-telling, you might use this time for checking to see where you are with promoting your work.  To help you do that, we have just the thing.

If you are a member of the Florida Storytelling Association, you might have seen our August 2015 e-newsletter, page 5, where Linda Goodman gave us some valuable advice on the fundamentals of promoting your work. This will be a good review for both the experienced self-marketer and also for the teller who is just starting out.

Storyteller for Hire: Marketing to Build Your Storytelling Business

So you know you can spin a good tale, and you want to make a living doing it. Fair warning: It will not be easy. Taking simple steps, however, can get yours to where you want to be if you are willing to spend the time necessary. Based on my 27 years of experience, these are some of the strategies that work for me. More will follow in future issues of this publication.
  • Have a good product. If you want to make your living storytelling, you must have polished stories to market. Ideally, you should have a solid 45-60 minute program of good stories geared to a specific market. Your stories should be unique, and they should be stories that you love. You should have chemistry with your story, just as romantic leads have chemistry with one another in a movie. If the story makes you go "ah", it will have the same effect on your audience.
  • Unless you have saved enough money to support yourself for at least two years, or have a partner who is willing to support you, DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB UNTIL YOU HAVE STEADY INCOME COMING IN ON A REGULAR BASIS FROM YOUR STORYTELLING ENDEAVORS to cover your needs!! It takes time to build a fan base that is large enough and diversified enough to support your making a living at storytelling. Don't allow yourself to be seduced by the sporadic lure of accolades and applause into putting your financial well-being on the line. This is not a get rich quick business.
  • Set up a professional website. It should include photos, your biography, the benefits that your stories offer to your target audience, a summary of your programs and workshops, good videos of you telling your stories, and accolades that you have received from others. If you cannot create a website that looks professional, hire a professional to do it for you. You URL should be something that the public will readily associate with you (your name, your brand, etc).
  • Craft your elevator speech; a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in your storytelling. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds. © Linda Goodman 2015

For more helpful articles like this, be sure to spend some time in FSA’s archives of our e-magazine. In March of 2016, the magazine found a new name, “The InsideStory.”

Wanda Violet

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

No Summer Slump

No Summer Slump

So, summer is here, school is out, and people are off in different directions going on vacations. Things seem somewhat quiet, don’t they? Why even the traffic in town is a bit less congested because of the absence of school buses making their rounds twice a day.

Ah, but storytellers, stay alert. Summer is not a dull or dry season when it comes to stories. Listen and watch the world around you. Look for those moments where a story is forming and take a few notes so that you can develop your tale later.

Here are a few practical habits to help you capture stories this summer:

1.     Keep a Bits Journal This is a listing of interesting details that might be used in future stories.  Storytellers are keen observers and keeping a journal will provide a storehouse of potential material.  Entries might include interesting observations, details from your everyday life, snippets of overheard conversation, memories you are interested in exploring, etc.

2.      Visit an art museum Take in the art and ask yourself, “What does this make me think of in my own life?” Often art begets arts.  Surrounding yourself with beauty and creativity will often remind you of something that would make an interesting story.

3.     Visit family members. Talk about shared memories.  Enhance what you remember with the new details offered by their memory of shared experiences.  This informal research will prove valuable if you decide to develop one of these memories later.

4.     Take a vacation tour of your childhood places Visit the home you grew up in, the school you attended, the neighborhood park where you played.  Record any memories these places inspire.

5.     Be on the lookout for stories everywhere.  It may be that while you are digging through your garage looking for that lost life-jacket that you will find a special treasure or beach toy that will stir up a memory asking to be nurtured into a tellable story.

There’s no telling where you will find a story. Nope. When it comes to storytelling, there is no summer slump. Keep your eyes and ears open for your next story. It is just waiting for you to see it, and it is waiting to be told.  Happy summer – happy story gathering!

Robin Schulte and Wanda Violet

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Six Is Better Than One

Six Is Better Than One

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Do you have a favorite number? Is the number seven your lucky number? How about three? This year at the Florida Storytelling Association (FSA) we have a favorite number, too. The number is 33. Yes, that’s right. We love the number 33 because it is, including this current festival, the number of festivals that we have produced and enjoyed with many of you. Remember when it was called “camp”? Yes, storytellers gathered together and camped out telling stories. Now, we have a new atmosphere at our festival as provided by the historic Lakeside Inn. Oh, the stories that beautiful hotel on the lake could tell.
On March 30th, we gather with our featured presenters, Tim Lowry, Jessica McCune, Lyn Ford, Pat Nease and Windell Campbell for a full and fun weekend of stories, workshops, and concerts. If you join us this year, you will be so glad you did.

So register today!  And, for those who preregister, we have a great treat for you! While everyone who buys the weekend package at the door receives a complimentary raffle ticket that is entered in the drawings for the amazing door prizes, if you register by Wednesday night at midnight, you will get a bonus gift of five, yes five, additional raffle tickets that you can use to enter any of the four major door prizes. Think about it, by getting your tickets early, you will have five more chances to win one of the following:
1.     One year membership to the National Storytelling Network
2.     2017 National Storytelling Festival Registration
3.     Bountiful Basket of Story-telling books and resources
4.     2018 Florida Storytelling Festival Registration

Of course you could have purchased those five extra raffle tickets like everyone else when you arrived, but by registering early, you will already have a total of SIX free raffle tickets to use in ANY of the four drawings. Pretty cool!

So, take a moment now and register for the festival. You can register and prepay at

And, who knows, 33 just might be your lucky number.

See you at the 33rd Annual Florida Storytelling Association Festival!

Monday, January 30, 2017



Can you hear it?

The word is out and is blowing in the breeze whispering to you that the 33rd Annual Florida Storytelling Festival is coming to life. Tellers are coming from far and wide, as are attendees, a.k.a. listeners. Stories are simmering on the burners of those tellers’ stoves and will come to full done-ness on the stage at Mt. Dora, making for a wonderful feast for all to enjoy.

The Florida Storytelling Association (FSA) Board of Directors and the Festival Director have all been busy getting the ducks in a row for the event.  If you have attended very many storytelling events, you know that the FSA hosts one of the most exciting, rich events anywhere. With the dynamite main stage, the Florida tellers, the Youthful Voices, the many workshops and open-mic events, you will be overwhelmed with opportunities to participate and to listen.

Join us starting Thursday, March 30, and stay for as many events as you can all the way through Sunday, April 2. While we don’t know which session will be your favorite, we do know that you will leave with some stories to tell!

Visit for workshop descriptions, a complete schedule, and much more!