"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Irish Story's Transformation: Multicultural to Universal


It was time to gather books on Ireland, as I had already checked out many books from the library on the Ojibwa and Colombian cultures.

I had several versions of "The Changeling" story, though I wanted to bring more multicultural influences into the piece. Sharing these elements makes the story more universal.

This is one of the storytelling paradoxes: the more details in the story, then the more universal the story.

I certainly want the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere to be universal. When it tours worldwide, the stories will transcend language barriers due to its ability to connect to individuals.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Soundscapes: How a Guitar can Howl like a Wolf


This was the first practice of the "Forsaken Brother" story with guitarist Joshua Payne, and my nerves were on end.

I usually have butterflies in the stomach when I perform, but I had more than usual today.

I would not be alone as Julie Barnson, my story buddy, would also be in the room. That was comforting as she is a long-time storytelling friend. Joshua is still learning about the storytelling world so there is more pressure to be as exceptional as possible.

Luckily, the meeting was called a "practice" so perfection was not required. In fact, this was the place to make mistakes.

While Joshua set up his guitar, I reviewed the French scenes and shared which areas were key for certain sounds from him.

The wolf howls were important to the plot and the wind threaded its way throughout the story.

I was amazed when Joshua demonstrated how his guitar could how like a wolf. He turned some knobs and the eerie sound escaped his instrument.

I had always envisioned having music to enhance the "Forsaken Brother" story, but what I heard surpassed my imaginations.

It was evident that Joshua had done his research before coming to the meeting. He had listened to other stories that merged music with words such as the classic "Peter and the Wolf". Though what we would do was vastly different that than piece, there were techniques that could be drawn from it such as the power of silence or how to not overpower the speaker.

So with less confidence than usual, I told the "Forsaken Brother" story. I attempted to stop after each French scene as Joshua and I decided that each scene could have a different soundscape. My mp3 recorder/microphone caught these moments at the same time of Joshua's recorder.

With all the pauses and word-tumblings, it took 27 minutes to tell! I predicted that the polished story would be between 15-20 minutes. My pacing was slow and words were drawn out so I knew I was on track. Of course, the story must go as long as it must go.

After telling the whole story, Joshua spoke some musical lingo and terminology that was unfamiliar to me.

Here is what we decided after the first time through the story:
  • Story would begin and end with the same soundscape though the beginning would be in the major chord while the ending would be in the minor chord
  • Pause or silence during the chanting would heighten the mood
  • A final howl from the guitar would follow after my last words
  • Time may be given for pure music during seasonal changes in the story
I look forward to more practices to see what develops.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bulk Mailings: When a Sore Wrist is Worth It


My databases are growing due to this "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere.

The information gathered now will help with future mailings.

Eventually I will have contact information for all the school districts in the following counties: Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah.

As the "Save the Date" postcards arrived on December 24th, it was tempting to mail the first batch today. However, I realized that school would not be in session until January 2nd. There may be a build up of mail so best to wait a little.

These schools are in Utah so timing is still fine.

In the meantime, Denae Palm, the Weber State University senior undergraduate student, sent me almost 90 family associations so far as part of her four key tasks.

Rather than slapping on labels and stamps, I prefer the personal touch. Though my wrist hurt afterward, I signed all of them.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Forsaken Brother": Drawing Story Characters to Life


The paper, colored pencils and sharpeners were placed on the table.

Then I took the piles of Ojibwa culture books, mostly from the Juvenile Literature section, and flipped through the pages. These books are wonderful as they tend to have more pictures so to spark the imagination.

If I saw a person who looked like how I pictured the characters in the "Forsaken Brother" story, then I placed a post-it to mark the page.

None of the drawings were traced. They were done free-hand.

I started with the scenery. The story begins during summer, about an hour before sunset. If you look to the left, you can see their lodge, also called a wigwam.

Then I drew the family members in order of age.

The Father--



























The Mother--




























The Sister--




























The Brother--




























The Boy--




























These drawings are for my benefit. The characters are more real and I see them as my friends. I may not be the best artist, but maybe this family will be more real to you, too.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Friday, December 26, 2008

Premiere Pins: Sticking out in the Crowd


As the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere will be the Monday after the Timpanogos Storytelling Conference, I will think outside the box on how to advertise.

I had checked to see if I could have a booth, but the conference was limited to the number of tables. They did plan to reserve a table so that storytellers could place their business cards on it. My postcards could go at this table, but it was even questionable if I could have a poster on an easel in case I took too much room.

If it was about the money, I was willing to pay for a table. It seemed the conference did not work in that way.

Since my premiere was not officially connected to the conference, I also could not had a flier in the folder given to all registrants.

I was allowed to give out business cards. If such an act was permitted, then perhaps I could also give out pins that mentioned the premiere on one side and the other side had all the basic information like place, time, tickets, etc.

Friends could help me pass out pins, too.

I would want to make 200 pins due to the attendance I had seen in the past for the Timpanogos Storytelling Conference. In many ways, I had to treat advertising at the conference much as if it was a fringe.

I headed to Hobby Lobby and walked up and down aisles to see what ideas may be triggered on what materials to even use for the pins.

When I came to the unfinished wood aisle, I paused.

I found wooden hearts and tiny bowls. I liked the idea of using wood, though I tossed around the idea of using fun foam. The wooden bowls could be glued on the lower right of the heart. Red fun foam cut in circles could be glued in the bowls to be the soup, while a white marker could make a heart and some steam from the bowl.

If I used wood for the heart and bowl, then it would have a nicer quality and people may even keep them as a memento as well as a reminder.

The wooden hearts could be painted light blue. Then clear mailing labels could print the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" logo on the front. Another clear mailing label would list the basic information on the back.

Any leftover pins from the conference could be given to the first people to arrive at the premiere.

Besides the pins, I thought of other fun ways to grab people's attention. At baby showers, I had seen people take a candy bar and cover it with their own wrapper that said something like "It's a Boy!" or "It's a Girl!". The same idea could be used for my premiere. As the wooden bowl with the tomato soup was a key image in the logo, then I could create a label to go around a can of soup.

This could work. . .but not for the conference. If I had 200 cans of soup, that would be heavy.

I think I will stick with the pins.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something Slipped into the Christmas Letters


With the preparation of the holidays as well as the premiere, the annual Christmas letter to family and friends was delayed.

Part of the preparation was for my brother, Nate, who could celebrate Christmas with us.

After the regular festivities relating to Christmas in the morning, the afternoon was a time to relax. I took this time to print and sign the Christmas letters.

As the letters were stuffed in the envelopes, I also placed a "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" postcard. It seemed only appropriate given the the theme of the program. Besides, the back side of the postcard had a picture of me, which is always good to share with relatives in case they forgot what I looked like.

The letter itself talked about my premiere.

When it comes to support, it is best from family and friends.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Postcard Delivery: An Early Christmas Gift


I got an early Christmas present as the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" postcards arrived today!

I expected the postcards to arrive December 31st so I could take care of labels and have things sent out January 2nd. PrintsMadeEasy.com is closed on Saturdays and Sundays plus the U.S. Postal Service is off a couple days during the holiday season. I must have barely placed the order online to make the December 24th date.

When the doorbell rang and the box was placed on the doorstep, I was so taken aback that I wondered what could be inside the box.

That was only for a moment.

Then I could not open the box fast enough. I squealed like a little girl, a now 29-year-old girl.

When I pulled out the cards, I was impressed. . .except that the light blue background coloring was more purple than light blue. This made some headings harder to read. I made a note to check the printing color for the posters to have the light blue. Since most people would look close at the postcard anyway, then the readability was good enough.

With PrintsMadeEasy.com, I could have opted (for a fee) to have a hard-copy sent to me so I could authorize the coloring. I was more interested in speed. With that choice came consequences.

My friends and family assured me that the postcards did look great.

Nevertheless, the next time I print postcards, or anything else that involves color, I will check the printing.

The trick will be to order them early enough to speed is not as important as the overall quality.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

School Schedules: Practices with "Real" Audiences


Anytime someone listens to one of my stories, I have an audience.

Sometimes that audience is the grand total of one person such as when I meet with my story buddies every week for each story in the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere.

However, a "real" audience is usually when my performance is expected to be polished to some degree. I also tend to think of a "real" audience as being at least 10 people so I have more reactions to absorb while telling the tale.

Denae Palm, the Weber State University senior undergraduate student who is dedicating 30+hours to my program, has one of her core responsibilities to schedule practices with schools from upper elementary to high school.

At the same time, this will spread the word about the event whether or not practices are schedules.

The schools are being told upfront that these are practices, and thus a $50.00 donation is requested rather than my regular fee. There is the understanding that I will ask for feedback from the audience, students and teachers.

The 1st schools to respond have 1st choice of story:
  • The Changeling, an Irish story bookended with a personal tale that indirectly addresses verbal and physical abuse (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for feedback)
  • Forsaken Brother, an Ojibwa tale with soundscapes with guitarist Joshua Payne and upright bass player Geoffrey Rayback that focuses on abandonment (20 minutes plus 5-minute opening story, 5-minute closing story--as Ojibwa tale ends sadly--, and 10 minutes for feedback)
  • The Gardener's Wife, a Colombian tale with two original songs to be sung as duet with Holly Robison and focuses on adoption (40 minutes plus 10 minutes for feedback)
When Denae made calls, the first principal to schedule a date and time was from Bates Elementary School. He chose the Colombian story on adoption. Of the 4th, 5th, or 6th grades, the best behaved grade would hear the story on January 30th at 1:00pm.

Luckily, that date and time worked for Holly Robison since she sings duet with me for the story.

Later in the day, Denae received a call back from a high school special education teacher to discover if I would be interested to telling for her students. I let Denae know that I was open to such requests because then the story could be tested to see if it would reach all kinds of students.

We shall see what other practices will be scheduled before the premiere day on February 9th.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Monday, December 22, 2008

Geoff Rayback: Upright Bass Player for the Teller


Joshua Payne thought that Geoff Rayback (see picture) may be interested in the "Forsaken Brother" story and add to the accompaniment.

He was right.

I received the call from Joshua today. Geoff was officially our upright bass player.

I have yet to meet him in person. I do know Joshua and I trust him enough to extend that trust to Geoff.



What I know so far--

Geoffrey Rayback is a bassist and producer based in Salt Lake City. He has played with musicians such as Ernie Watts, Cronelius Bumpus, and Ward Swingle. He has engineered and produced more than twenty albums in styles ranging from straight ahead jazz to heavy metal and runs the independent record label Hibiscus Zombie Records.

This would add something more to the whole "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" program.

When I realized that Geoff could join guitarist Joshua Payne and singer/storyteller Holly Robison in this venture, I thought about one of my dreams as a teller.

One year I went with my husband to the Annual Christmas Concert put on by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Besides the world famous choir, there was the Orchestra on Temple Square, the Bells on Temple Square, dancers, and a storyteller.

The storyteller was always a big name--a celebrity name. Someone who did not label themselves as a storyteller on a daily basis.

I knew I would not reach celebrity status, but I played with the idea and asked my family, "Couldn't there be tandem telling with a celebrity?"

The emotions mixed with story and music and song and dance would lift me to the heavens. . .if not for a moment.

When looking at the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" program, Joshua and Geoff will provide "soundscapes" rather than tunes. This makes me wonder how close I may be to what I envisioned a few years before.

At this time, I welcome Geoff as well as Joshua and Holly to share their dreams for what could be the very near future.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Postcards: How I Found the Right Company


I had never sent postcards before as part of my storytelling marketing plans.

I had envisioned the day when it would come. With the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere approaching, that day did arrive.

Then I had a problem.

Which company would print my postcards?

I consulted "The Storytelling Biz Handbook: How to Manage Your Storytelling Career from the Desk to the Stage"by Dianne de Las Casas. She recommended two different services: VistaPrint and ModernPostcard.com.

I had never used VistaPrint, mainly because I thought it was tacky when the VistaPrint logo was printed on the back of business cards or postcards or any other items ordered through them.

The VistaPrint prices may be low, but what was I trading for in return?

Despite my prejudice against VistaPrint, I went to the website and determined the possibilities. Could Vista give me the quality that I desired? Could postcards be created that did not have their company's logo on them?

All that I had seen in the past seemed to say "no". I did not bother to answer all of the above questions. The decision had been made before I got to their website.

So I quickly went to ModernPostcard.com.

I was happier with my choices there, but I wondered if any other online companies or local print shops could give me quality with low cost.

After searching through Google for shops near my home, I finally made the needed phone call.

Who did I call for advice?

Utah Arts Council.

They send postcards all the time, especially to spread the word about gallery pieces. Visual artists must have striking and clear colors to share what they do.

Besides, I had kept a "Save the Date" postcard when the UAC announced the Mountain West Conference on the Art.

I spoke with Jason Bowcutt, who was the same person who had put the "Save the Date" conference postcard together. He recommended PrintsMadeEasy.com.

The title certainly had promise to it.

Jason then said, "Make sure you send me a postcard!"

I told him I would. In fact, I planned on the entire UAC staff to receive one.

I turned to the computer.

I was glad when I could run some quotes on the website. There was even a telephone number. I called it and talked to a real person. That was glorious.

I discovered some wonderful news:
  • I could have full-color on both sides without affecting the cost!
  • I could have the postcards printed and shipped to me faster than the other online businesses or even some of the local print shops.
  • I could order 2,000 postcards for even less than the price than if I had ordered 1,000 from ModernPostcard or local print shops.
  • UV Glossy was possible for the front side with heavy quality paper.
I ordered 2,000 postcards through PrintsMadeEasy.com. This may not seem like a big number, especially considering my plans for the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love". Yet, it was a start.

I expected to mail at least 500 and use the others as nice fliers.

Would you like to know the cost?

2,000 Postcards (4" X 6") of Card Stock - Glossy - Double-sided
$119.99

Shipping and Handling
$53.18*
***Priority Saver to transit in one business day. Could have been about $9.00 if not in rush.

Grand Total
$173.17

Even with Priority Saver, there was a possible four-day setting up and printing and then the mailing. Then, with it close to Christmas, it would not be guaranteed until December 31st. There was the chance to be early.

Crazy enough, with the Priority Saver shipping and handling, it was still less than the cost of 1,000 at ModernPostcard at the cheapest shipping.

When I placed the order, all I could think to say was "Whew!"

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joanna Huffaker: Story Buddy for "The Changeling"


It was like the BYU Storytelling Club days all over again.

Joanna Huffaker was an amazing Vice President and then she had to graduate before me. She missed the semester when we created t-shirts, so after eight years, I finally gave Joanna her club t-shirt.

After some hugs and pictures, we went to "play" with "The Changeling", an Irish story which will open my "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere.

Like what was done with my stories buddies Holly Robison and Julie Barnson, I had Joanna read the story aloud so I could conjure images while listening.

Then it was time to ask questions about "The Changeling":
  • How do the neighbors play a role in the exchange made from the baby to the changeling?
They warned Mrs. Sullivan that if the baby was overly admired, then she would grab the attention of the fairies. Verbal and physical abuse are indirectly addressed as the neighbors suggest that Mrs. Sullivan call the baby names. Then, once the exchange is made, the neighbors suggest to toss the baby into the snow and elements, to burn the nose off, or to roast the child alive on the griddle.
  • What is the "magic number" as to the neighbor suggestions?
Three kinds of verbal abuse are suggested and later three kinds of physical abuse are suggested. Many stories have the power of three, which will also be represented by the three neighbors.
  • Who is Grey Ellen? (a.k.a. Ellen Leah) Is she in any other Irish folklore? Is there significance and/or meaning to her name?
Research is yet to be made.
  • What are the Christian influences?
A crucifix above the cradle is one way to prevent fairies to make an exchange with a baby.
  • What are the opposite images of the baby versus the changeling?
Eyes, Skin, and Hands. They could be bright blue for the baby while dull and lifeless for the changeling. The skin could be smooth for the baby while wrinkled, dry, and tight for the changeling. Finally, the hands could be tiny and delicate for the baby while they appear as talons for the changeling. Again, there is the power of three in the imagery.
  • Was Mrs. Sullivan's fall before she had a chance to plunge the bar down the changeling's throat on purpose or even authentic to the tale? Was this part censored by Jane Yolen, who edited the version I found first? Does this matter to me? How will I approach this scene?
Much wrestling will happen before any answers can be made.

Since I will bookend the story with a personal story, then here are questions for this part:
  • Is my Mom the one showing off my younger brother?
This would bring jealousy.
  • How does "The Changeling" story connect with my personal story?
My brother will be "overly admired" as a baby. Like the neighbors for Mrs. Sullivan, I give the warning to my Mom. I could tell "The Changeling" as learned from a teacher at school. Mom and I could quietly smile at the baby versus "loud" compliments as what Mrs. Sullivan does once her baby is returned.
  • How long do I expect the bookend personal story to take?
It may be about five minutes as the introduction part to the whole piece. The ending would likely be less than 30 seconds.
  • Will the personal story be of general feelings or of one or more specific instances?
I am not sure at this point. The instances could be a list so not as much time is spent with it and so more time can be given to the folktale.

Every time I go through this question and answer process, I am invigorated. How about you?

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Friday, December 19, 2008

"The Gardener's Wife": French Scenes technique


Each story in this "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere will be my chance to use the French Scenes technique for storytelling taught by Don Doyle.

In September 2006, I met with him to work on the Greek epic "Hephaestus: Fire Within", which addressed child abuse at infant and adolescent stages and the results when Hephaestus became an adult.

Click here if you want to know what else I learned from Don Doyle.

Basic concept of French Scenes:
French Scenes are main events of the story that begin with one or more key characters enter the scene and ends when one or more key characters exit the scene. Between entrances and exits are developments to the story whether in understanding the environment, revealing character, and forwarding the plot.

French Scenes tend to be divided into 5 parts though I could have as many as 32+ parts for a complicated story.

While meeting with Holly Robison, my story buddy for "The Gardener's Wife", we pulled out the thesaurus as we brainstormed works for character feelings. Time flew by so we did not complete all the scenes for story. Even one of her daughters came to check our project out. (permission granted to post picture)

Here are the French Scenes so far for this Colombian story--
***Please note that the Gardener's Wife will simply be known as Wife.

Scene 1:
Enter Wife
Exit Husband

Environment--
  • Inside house looking out to garden
  • Fall time for Colombia (or late summer)
  • Beautiful day--sun, blue sky, hear birds and breeze
Character/Feelings--
  • Wife--longing, wishful, hopeful, happy/sad, bewildered at husband's view
  • Husband--happy, befuddled at the answer that his wife wants of him, preoccupied with work
***Both have feelings of love and playfulness
Moving Plot Forward--
  • Establish that the Wife and Husband are childless
Scene 2:
Enter Thoughts about the 3 Sisters
Exit with Triple Weddings

Environment--
  • Garden--flowers will trigger memories about the village gossip
  • Same day as Scene 1--still beautiful day
  • Eventually memories transport from Garden to the Castle and Castle Grounds for weddings
Character/Feelings--
  • Wife--reflecting on comical "story", eye to detail, honored
  • All Sisters--joking, playful, dreamy, hungry
  • 1st Sister--(oldest)--leader and turns jealous and resentful
  • 2nd Sister--(middle)--follows the oldest Sister but likes the 3rd Sister's answer best
  • 3rd Sister--(youngest)--has bigger vision and spoiled
Moving Plot Forward--
  • Explains vengeance of two older Sisters towards the youngest (leads to babies switched)
  • Emphasize indifference of the King
Scene 3:
Enter Pregnant 3rd Sister
Exit 1st Baby Boy

Environment--
  • Castle and Castle Grounds with buzz by subjects of 1st born and turns to gasp/silence as discover the dog
  • 10 months later
  • Midwife Room
  • River
Character/Feelings--
  • 3rd Sister (pregnant)--loud, in pain, sleep deprived
  • 1st Sister (leader of scheme)--even more jealous, conniving, vengeful, grumpy
  • 2nd Sister (follower of scheme)--same as 1st Sister except nervous, worried to get caught
  • King--unconcerned, indifferent
  • 1st Baby Boy--quiet otherwise people would not believe the dog was born in its place
Moving Plot Forward--
  • Strange reactions for Queen and King of baby "dog", though Queen feels like something is missing later on
  • Baby will arrive to the Wife and Husband so the audience will know to whom the Baby belongs
Scene 4:
Enter Wife and Husband
Exit Wife with 1st Baby Boy into Home

Environment--
  • Outside at Garden near River
  • Beautiful day
Character/Feelings--
  • Wife--grieving, longing, despair, hopeless (another 10 months childless), then turns to surprise, curious, joy, tenderness, love, celebration, praising, thankful, wonder
  • Husband--happy, confused, worries more of where Baby comes from, otherwise same as the Wife
  • 1st Baby Boy--loved, content, though ill from being tossed on the water, tired when hears lullaby until completely asleep
Moving Plot Forward--
  • 1st Baby Boy has Home


More scenes will be added in a future post.















Until we tell again,


Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mail Debate: "Return to Sender, Address Unknown"


When sharing information with people who may not have ever met me before, I am wary of sharing my home address.

The same is true for postcards or the Internet.

Since I chose to use first class stamps for the postcards, then one of the benefits is that if an address is wrong, then the postcards return to me. Then I can check my records and correct them before any other mailings.

I have an office address, but I was unsure whether to use it as it connected with my Aflac Insurance life rather than storytelling. Everyone in the office knows that I am "the storyteller" and are patient with my "artistic views and use" of the place.

Since storytelling has taken over the time I used to spend with Aflac, then I am due for a PO Box address. Besides, I could check the box and it would be closer to home.

Yet, I had to place the order for the postcards in a timely manner. The PO Box address would have to wait.

So I chose the address that could be found on my website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other my listings on the Internet:

8180 South 700 East, Ste. 120 Sandy, UT 84070

I had www.rachelhedman.com and email of info@rachelhedman.com listed underneath the office address. A website could also be known as a web address.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joanna Huffaker: My 3rd Story Buddy Found


This was a reunion picture of Joanna Huffaker and I while at the October 2008 meeting for the Utah Storytelling Guild Olympus chapter. After eight years since the BYU Storytelling Club, Joanna could still recognize me despite the costume.

Since there are three stories, I wanted three story buddies that I would meet at least on a weekly basis.

Until my opening story was found, you could say that I "reserved" for Joanna Huffaker to be my buddy.

I was thrilled when I learned she moved from the Idaho back to the Utah area. My joy was even more full when she came to the Salt Lake City area and attends the same chapter guild meeting for the Utah Storytelling Guild.

When I founded the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club in 1997, she was my Vice President for a couple years until she graduated.

Here are memories of my "first encounter" with Joanna:

At BYU we have an area known as "The Gauntlet". It is probably one of the most dangerous areas of BYU. The Gauntlet is about 150 feet in length. On one side are all the booths. The other side has a railing. The trick is to try to get through the Gauntlet without getting any fliers--at least as few as possible. A lucky day meant I only got 3 fliers instead of 50.

Since the only way across campus was through the Gauntlet, I got a lot of practice dodging people with fliers. It became an art. Of course, it helped that in high school I was on the Cross Country team--not that I sprinted across. I had an assistant coach who had the team cool down by speed walking. We had speed walking races back to the school. I was known as the Queen of Speed Walking.

But then my view of the Gauntlet changed when I realized I needed to become part of the Gauntlet. I had to tell everyone about the new storytelling club, which meant I had to have a booth. . .with fliers.

I had written the club charter and I had found advisers. Now it was time to recruit members.

I got the signs ready for the booth with all the information necessary. I armed myself with duct tape and signs and set-up the booth. I positioned myself in front of the booth--ready to talk to anyone who came within 30 feet of me. I chased after people the whole day. My legs and mouth were especially sore, but I didn't care. I had a whole week of booths.

Then one day, when I was a few inches from the booth, I heard "Thud!"

I looked to see where the sound had come from. A girl with long brown hair had dropped her backpack. Some of the contents spilled out, but she didn't seem to care. She furiously scribbled on a piece of paper.

I slowly approached her.

"Would you like to know about the Storytelling Club?" I asked.

The girl stopped her scribbling and looked at me. "That's what I'm writing down."

I introduced myself. "Hi, I am Rachel Parkinson and . . ."

"Oh! You're the one I'm supposed to contact for more info! Oh, wow! I'm Joanna Huffaker!"

At that moment, I knew Joanna was going to be a strong member. She came to the meetings with enthusiasm.

So now you know what I will look forward to her being my story buddy for the Irish story "The Changeling".

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Word Wrestling: Narrative Production vs. Storytelling


I labeled "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" as a "narrative production" since August 2008 and it seemed like a hands-down win.

Then today Elizabeth Ellis, national storyteller and one of my Storytelling Masters professors at East Tennessee State University, asked, "Why?" in an email.

I called her in order to have help in this wrestle with words. None of my other storytelling friends had asked, "Why?"

Ellis was genuinely interested as to my reasons for "narrative production".

I found it hard to respond as she asked me questions so I could come up with my own answer.

Yet, this was the time to answer it because I was about to order postcards and posters. The wording could be changed, if necessary. "Narrative production" was used throughout the Internet, but the Internet could be easily edited for whatever term I chose to use.

Ellis continued, "I find it strange that so many people use the term 'storytelling' when those who call themselves 'storyteller' are afraid to use it." She felt not enough of us "raise the banner" in using the word "storytelling".

She was right. Filmmakers, authors, musicians, speakers, and many other performing artists use the word "storytelling" freely.

Guilt. More guilt.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a storytelling advocate. Of my "Voice--A Storyteller's Lifestyle" blog, Tim Ereneta proclaimed, "It's clear from her regular and varied postings that she is passionate not only about storytelling but about the storytelling movement."

Then my college education came to mind.

Since I studied Communications Marketing at Brigham Young University, I knew that if a certain word or phrase evoked images or formed connotations that did not match my message, then it was best to use another word or phrase that did meet my goal.

Usually when "storytelling" is mentioned, people think about an old lady reading a story to preschoolers.

I am not an old lady. . .yet. (I am only 29.)

I do not read when on stage. I read books for research.


This program has a minimum age of 8 yet geared to 12-year-olds+ due to the themes of child abuse, abandonment, and adoption.
Hmmm.

Then I looked at what I currently labeled the event: a world premiere narrative production to be recorded live.

I wanted a more sophisticated sound, but did I go too far?

I called David Novak, another national storyteller and professor at ETSU.

He seemed to think that I could be more creative in how I expressed the program. He thought I might even invent a new word or phrase that could become my trademark.

I was glad for his confidence in me, though now I felt the pressure to be a genius.

He agreed that to reach teenagers and college students, perhaps a different label was needed than "storytelling".

As I brainstormed other phrases, I went on Facebook and instant messaged people who were online for opinions.

A lot of my cousins were online including Greg Wallendal. He directs plays at a high school and was more aware of the terms that may fit with what I had in mind.

Greg granted permission to share part of our conversation--

Rachel: I wanted advice on wording. . ."narrative production" versus "storytelling" or "story"-something.

Greg: Hmmm.

Rachel: It's geared for 12-year-olds and older. No one under 8 is admitted.

Greg: Give me the full sentence as it stands right now.

Rachel: World premiere narrative production to be recorded live

Greg: Are you moving around for your story telling or are you standing behind a podium?

Rachel: No podium. Never podium for storytelling. I have a guest guitarist and a guest singer. Storytelling is the main stage art.

Greg: Are you moving around creating different characters with body language, gesture, voice, etc.?

Rachel: Other arts blend with the storytelling. Telling in 3rd person though with dialogue with characters. I am all of them.

Greg: I'm leaning heavily toward "storytelling production". Do you have fancy lighting or special visuals going on with this, or anything? A set?

Rachel: I told another storytelling professor "storytelling production", and he thought I could be more clever. That's pressure! I do have technicians and I had planned on minor lighting like making it more blue when the boy is starving in the middle of winter for the Ojibwa tale. No sets though. Lights will be up on the audience slightly so there can be a little interaction.

Greg: Maybe add some tease to the title. Kind of a "Don't miss this event" tone to it.

Several ideas were tossed around, but what meant the most was when Greg said, "I'm here for you."

Eventually I thought of "a world premiere storytelling feast for the senses".

Besides positive feedback to my new phrase, I kept the following in mind for my decision: Other areas of the nation may not be as familiar with "storytelling" and what it all entails, but, for Utah, it was a word worth keeping.

Though the winners vary depending on the event and the intended audience, in this word wrestling round "storytelling" won.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stamp Away: Bulk Mailing for the Storyteller



















I will mail 500+ "Save the Date" postcards for the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere and so I researched bulk mailing to see if it applied to me.


This may not be a huge number, though it was large enough a number to meet some of the "rules" of bulk mailing set by the United States Postal Service.

If you check with the main postal office for your area, there is usually a free short course on preparing bulk mail offered every week. Though I did not attend one of these workshops, I did learn much from the United States Postal Service website.

In order to receive the reduced postage rates through bulk mail, then a permit is required. At this time, it costs $180/year and it does not matter how often you use it with such savings like 42 cents for First Class reduced to as little as 21.6 cents.

Yet, to get this low rate, there is extra work to do so as to save time for the USPS. This could mean adding and printing barcodes for each of the addresses in the database. Having the 5-digit zip code plus the four extra numbers would be required for each of the addresses, too. Special software is out there to make this process easier (see Postage $aver Low-Cost Software for Postal Bulk Mail).

As in relating to my "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere, between the permit and the extra work to earn the reduced rate, it did not seem worth it.

Eventually I plan to be more regular in sending postcards. Then gaining the permit and software may be helpful. Paying the full First Class rate is not so bad in the meantime.

Right when I had decided to be "normal" in sending the postcards, I learned about the option of Standard Class (Third Class). As I have always sent items by First Class, I did not explore what may be available if I did not mind the mail taking slower to arrive at its destination. Standard class is usually denied unless there are at least 500 pieces that are the same in messages with no personal additions. Even signing them could be considered "personal".

I like adding the human touch through a signature.

Again, I debated if I wanted Standard Class, especially when the mail does not forward or get returned to you in case the address is off. Then I learned that Standard Class is not available for postcards.

This made my decision-making easy. I would send the postcards as I have sent postcards in the past--with First Class stamps.

At least the time spent in research will help me as I use postcard marketing more often.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poster Perfect: Working with Designer who Listens


When Dawn Bloxham sent the first draft of the poster, I was impressed.

She focused on my requests, and she did not let 24 hours pass before addressing any questions or comments from me.

My response to her was the following--

What I Love:
  • The font and positioning is perfect for "Family Famine: Hunger for Love". I think you purposely lined up the "F" "U" "L" in a vertical way, which has a fun meaning for those who are observant.
  • The title, in and of itself, is a work of art.
  • The hands with the bowl of soup/heart really does work!
  • The red, white, and blue colors reflect Americana and traditional family values.
  • Your sense of balance and the power of threes in your artwork. For example, you are smart that the hands make a triangle shape pointing to the information. You are also conscientious of having some red on top, red in the middle, and red in the soup.
  • You understand the "less is more" concept.
  • Dark brown works as an outline color rather than a black.
  • Lining up of all the wording in a pleasing manner.
Things to Explore/Play:
  • Let's have bolder and richer colors of the red, white, and blue colors. What would happen if we had the same/similar bright blue as on my business card for the background? Blood-red or similar shade of red as on my business card? At the same time, I like how the skin color of the hand blends into the background--very artistic. Yet, the color is muted and not engaging enough to make someone stop while walking past the poster. The trick is what to do about the font color with such a background? Please save the original version as well as this "play with color" one.
  • Let's have "action" to the image by having big swirls of steam from the soup. Perhaps reflect the style as the heart in the soup.
  • Could my picture be enlarged without distracting from the title or bowl? I know white space is important.
  • Could the hands have a texture to look more 2D or 3D rather than flat?
  • Add possible contrast to the hands and bowl. For example, the tree on my business card has the white with the dark brown so it has almost a "shock" value. Same with the white pixie against the dark background. This may make the hands, in particular, less flat-looking.
Wording/Item to Change:
  • A couple people did not know what I meant by "recorded live" in connection with "World premiere narrative production recorded live". Do you think it will be more clear if it was "World premiere narrative production to be recorded live"?
  • The white font of "Monday, February 9th at 8:00pm" is hard to read against the tan background.
When Dawn changed the background color for the poster, darkened the blues and reds, and added the steam from the bowl of soup with the heart in it, I knew we had it. The contrast or the request to make the hands look more 2D or 3D became unnecessary.

Yet, not to be hasty, I again sent this file to my story buddies. They had helped catch things in the past that I would not have seen until it was too late.

After feedback from my story buddies, I knew that the poster was finalized.

Dawn certainly has artistic flair and listens to me at the same time.
Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Friday, December 12, 2008

"The Gardener's Wife" & Heart-Song Scribblings


I always imagined two songs in "The Gardener's Wife": a grieving song and a lullaby.

While with my story buddy, Holly Robison, we explored the possibilities for the grieving song. The grieving song would be prompted when she is alone. She is strong when her husband is nearby.

In August 2008, I had the following ideas or what I labeled as "Scribblings from my Heart"--

An empty table.
An empty chair.
An empty family that should be there.


This was our starting point for our brainstorming and one of our handy tools was the thesaurus.

I realized that I would like to delve into the senses such as sight, sound, touch/feel, smell and taste. The empty table and chair were visual, but what about for sound or for touch/feel? Holly and I did not think that we could do much with smell or taste for this song.

I sensed that three verses were needed. Originally I thought the song would be sung all at once at the beginning. This would be before the Gardener's Wife is blessed with three children. Then I expressed to Holly that in some ways it was too bad that it would be sung once as the lullaby would be sung several times throughout the story.

Holly asked, "Does it have to be sung all at once?"

Silence. My mind racing.

"No, it doesn't!" I exclaimed.

As there are three children, one of the three verses could be sung before a baby comes to her. The lullaby would then be sung after a baby come.

First verse--rough draft:
A silent cradle.
A silent room.
A silent home that sounds like a tomb.
As not a single baby is in the home, it would be silent. The focus would be on the sense of sound.

Other things could be silent besides a cradle and room:
  • laughter
  • songs
  • stories
  • crying
  • sharing
  • chat/conversation/talk
  • play
  • room
  • home
  • corner
  • place
Second verse--rough draft:
A lonely ______. (needs to be two syllables)
A lonely ______. (needs to be one syllable)
A lonely ___________________. (2nd and 3rd lines need to rhyme)
The Gardener's Wife knows that though she is not as lonely as before, she still does not feel complete. There is also not a playmate or sibling for the first baby. The focus would be on the sense of touch/feel.

Things that could create loneliness:
  • moment
  • time
  • hour
  • hand
  • walk
  • hug
  • thought
  • meal
  • baby items
  • places
Third verse--rough draft:
An empty table.
An empty chair.
An empty family that should be there.
The Gardener's Wife knows, as a mother, that someone is missing. A third child needs to come to the home. The focus would be on the sense of sight.

Other words could be like empty:
  • barren
  • nothing
  • zero
  • lack
  • silent
  • bare
  • blank
  • vacant
  • unfulfilled
  • forgotten

There will be a day when this "grieving" song will not be silent, lonely, or empty. All will be complete. . .soon.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

The 3:00am Discovery: Opening Story Found!


Oh how glorious it is to feel like the whole program is in place for "Family Famine: Hunger for Love"!

I wrestled at night, for my mind was bothered that I did not have an opening story. With less than two months away, I was in panic mode.

I had actually found center and finale stories for other "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" programs beyond the premiere--but no opening stories.

Yesterday I talked with Don Doyle on the telephone for some advice. I did not talk long as he was in the hospice to be at the bedside of his wife. If I had known before I placed the call, I would not have called.

Nevertheless, he brought up the Irish story The Changeling also known as The Brewery of Eggshells. My mind was shaken when he mentioned it as I had considered the story at one time for the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere. I had brushed the story aside as I thought that it was a tale too familiar with people. I tend to gravitate towards stories that few people know.

However, this may connect me with the audience faster as they hear something familiar yet shared with a Rachel twist.

So as this story tossed around in my head, I tossed about and could not sleep. Then at 3:05am I knew that The Changeling really was the story for this premiere and by 3:08am I sent an email to Elizabeth Ellis on my decision.

I had told this story for my St. Patrick's Day set in March 2008 and bookended this story with a personal moment being the oldest sister and my Mom showing off my little brother to everyone. This was similar to Mrs. Sullivan and her baby. She showed off her baby so much that the fairies exchanged her baby for one of their people.

The way I told it had humor as well as a kind of suspense found in a ghost story. I did a little research on fairies and changelings, though I could do more. This story could also address child abuse indirectly as Mrs. Sullivan asks her neighbors what to do. Some say to roast the child alive and other say to burn off its nose. I could emphasize this slightly and have Mrs. Sullivan wonder about her neighbor's children as a result of their answers.

Interestingly enough, this was my opening story in March 2008 and now it will be my opening story in February 2009!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller