"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

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

  • Inside house looking out to garden
  • Fall time for Colombia (or late summer)
  • Beautiful day--sun, blue sky, hear birds and breeze
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

  • Outside at Garden near River
  • Beautiful day
  • 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.

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