Published Writing

Posted on April 9, 2015. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , |

My short story, “What Are the Odds,” was published in the March 2015 edition of the Northern Virginia Review.  Read all about it or purchase a copy here.

The publication had a nice author reception, with a few readings and some free copies of the issue. It was fun to be around other creative writers for the afternoon.  And, I must admit, it felt good to see my name printed in a thick magazine with a bunch of other authors.  Usually, when I see my name in lights (yes, the issue came with built-in LEDs) it’s beside other storytellers announcing an upcoming storytelling show. I am proud of all of those shows, but my heart did an extra leap or two at seeing my story published, like, in print.  I’ll have to try it again sometime.

The short nonfiction piece was an adaptation of a spoken word story I told for Better Said Than Done. I have performed over thirty original, true, personal stories at this point in my storytelling career. I don’t write all of the stories out. In fact, as I have gotten more comfortable with the true, personal storytelling format, I rarely write my stories out anymore. Luckily, “What Are the Odds” was one story I had felt needed to be worked through on a computer, since it made use of percentages as a motif, and I am not great with numbers. The fact that it was already in written form made it an obvious choice for a story to submit for publication.

I did rewrite it a bit before submitting it for consideration. It is much easier to adapt a performed story I have written out to the page than to adapt one I have created entirely in my head, not only because it saves me from having to type it out, but also because the way purely spoken stories are formed.  Stories sound more like conversation when you “write” them in your head and through speaking aloud, which is great, if the goal is to perform them. If the goal is to get a story published, the additional work in translating one amounts to basically writing the whole story – other than the structure – from scratch.  The way we read is different from the way we listen. Therefore, the way I write for a listener is different than the way I write for a reader.

That being said, “What Are the Odds” is the second story I have had published that stemmed from a story I first performed. I’m thinking I have about 28 other stories I should see about whipping into shape for publication. I think I’ll start with the ones that are already written out.



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Storytelling on the Fly

Posted on October 9, 2014. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

I hosted and performed in two storytelling shows in September, the second one approximately ten days after the first one. In addition, my company, Better Said Than Done, (aka me) put together and promoted the shows, so it was a busy two weeks for me. That is, of course, in addition to working a real job and taking care of a toddler.

Why, you might ask, should we care? Well, all that is by way of saying, I never really had the chance to write the second story out. When I perform in a storytelling show, I have one of two ways of preparing. The one I do most often is to write out my story, read it out loud, edit it, read it out loud, edit it, and eventually memorize it through repetition. That process allows me to really perfect the story.

But for this performance, I went with option two – saying the story out loud to myself, thinking about what worked and what didn’t, and speaking it a few more times, trying to work it out in my mind before the show. This method has a couple of advantages. Firstly, there’s a lot less preparation. Since it’s not word for word memorization, and since there is no time spent writing things down, it takes up less than half the time as the first method. Also, it does create a more conversational sounding performance, more like I am just telling you a story rather than performing something scripted.
Here’s the story I told a week or so ago about my little bear:

The downside of method two is that it isn’t “perfect.” When I do write out and memorize word for word, there are no “ums” in my story. I do not repeat the same word several times or fumble around for a good way of phrasing something. I can play word games with how something is stated exactly early on in the story and how it is stated slightly differently later in the story. It gives you more options as a writer, or crafter of a story, if you write it all out.

By contrast, here’s a story about my little bear that I wrote out and memorized word for word:

With writing and memorizing word for word, you can sound a bit over prepared. Also, it is much easier to lose your place and much harder to cover it up if you do. When every word is perfect, having a few words not perfect really stands out.

There are good and bad qualities to both methods of preparing for a storytelling show. The good news is, our October storytelling show is improvisational storytelling – so there is absolutely no preparation of any kind! Hope to see you there.

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Storytelling Filled September

Posted on September 10, 2014. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , |

I haven’t really been using this site to promote the nine million storytelling things I have going on at any given time, but September is filled with a lot of great stuff, (and a lot of it’s free!) so figured I might as well share. Here’s what I will be up to this month. Hope to see you at one or all of these events.

Living to Tell About It: a panel discussion on the art of true, personal storytelling
September 16, 2014
1:30PM – 2:30PM
George Mason University at the Sandy Spring Tent at Johnson Center Plaza
Free Panel Discussion as part of the Fall for the Book Festival
We offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of creating and performing true, personal stories. Moderated by Shawn Westfall, the panel includes storytellers David Supley Foxworth, Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, and Ellouise Schoettler.
More Info Here

Reading, Writing and Art: stories about the people, process and performance of art
September 18th, 2014
7:00PM (Doors Open 6:00PM)
The Auld Shebeen
3971 Chain Bridge Rd.
Fairfax, VA 22030
Free Show as Part of George Mason University’s “Fall for the Book Festival”
Please note – delicious food and drinks (full menu) available for purchase
Hosted by Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, the evening features storytellers Richard Barr, Ann Cavazos Chen, David Supley Foxworth, Karen Lee, Pierce McManus, Miriam Nadel, and Ellouise Schoettler—promising true and unforgettable tales.
More Info Here

Nature Calls: stories about things you can’t ignore

September 27th, 2014
8:00PM (Doors Open 7:30PM)
Reston Walker Nature Center
11450 Glade Drive
Reston, VA 20191
$15 Tickets
Click Here to Purchase in Advance!
All proceeds benefit Friends of Reston for Community Projects (Like Recycling Bins!)
Hosted by Jessica Piscitelli and including stories performed by Mattie Cohan, Dustin Fisher, Susan Gordon, Miriam Nadel, Brad Podliska, Anne Thomas and Zach Wilks.

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Not so much an ending…

Posted on March 17, 2014. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , , , |

A while back I posted about how the end was nigh – meaning the end of my writing career as I knew it. I was referring to the fact that I was about to have a baby. While it is true that all of my free time, and most of my quality sleep time, have vanished, all is not lost.

I was afraid for my writing career on two fronts. First, the lack of time. And yeah, that part I am still trying to work out. Secondly, that I would become one of those people who could only talk about their kids and that there’d be no more creative storytelling. I mean, seriously, you can only tell so many “my kid is a genius” stories before people start to get bored.
baby stories
Happily, I believe, I have not completely dried up on original storytelling. Of course, my novel is pure fiction and has very little, if anything, to do with babies. Then, I just told a true, personal story for Better Said Than Done a few nights ago that also had nothing to do with babies, or at least, actual babies. (It was about a guy I dated who was a child in his own right, but old enough to feed himself and not need diapers.) So, it seems, I can keep mining those classic life events.
But I have told two baby stories, I must confess. My hope is that I have found ways to make potentially stale, overused, material seem fresh.

My first post baby, baby story was actually about breastfeeding, and how it doesn’t quite stand up to all the wonderful descriptions of it they sell you in the baby books. My follow up story was about my pregnancy, and how that was a bit of a nightmare for me, in what I am pretty sure was an unique experience. Both stories went over very well with the live audiences, and have been viewed quite a bit online. (At least as compared to my other stories)

Maybe telling stories about a huge, life changing experience that happens to be shared by a lot of people isn’t the worst thing you could do.  Maybe I’ll even tell a few more.  In fact, I have been working on this great one about how my baby is a genius!

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Back in the Storytelling Saddle Again

Posted on October 8, 2013. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Well, I survived. I had a baby and then my life ended, for a little while, and then I started to get it back.

Two weeks ago, I think, (can’t keep track of time these days) I returned to storytelling in a big way. Basically, all in the same week my baby girl turned two months old (and I have been a stay at home mommy during these months) I had a panel discussion on storytelling at George Mason University, a storytelling show at the Auld Shebeen in Fairfax, a storytelling workshop at the Workhouse Arts Center and another storytelling show at the Reston Nature House.  Phew.


It felt good to be back out there doing grown-up stuff, and was also one of the stupidest things I have ever done.  I planned it all before my baby came into the world, not realizing that babies really do keep you very busy.  Meaning, I had very little time to write and memorize two stories, pull a cast together for two shows, prepare all the materials for a new workshop, and then make arrangements to go to all those events.

But I survived that week as well.  I wouldn’t say I told the best stories of my career, but I wasn’t booed off either stage – which is always a good sign. I had enough storytellers to fill the bill for both shows.  The panel discussion at George Mason was awesome and well attended.  And the workshop was a lot of fun.

I would write more about the whole experience but I hear my baby girl grunting, which means I have just enough time to post this before she starts crying.  Sigh. Back to work!

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I’m back

Posted on September 23, 2013. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , |

Crazy times. Having a baby is exhausting and, man, is it ever time consuming! But I have managed to line up a few activities to get back into writing and storytelling. Unfortunately, they are all in the same week.

This week, I am going to be in storytelling shows, teaching a storytelling workshop, and participating in a panel discussion on storytelling. Check out this impressive list of activities!

Living to Tell About It: a discussion of the art of true, personal storytelling
Tuesday, September 24th
George Mason Campus
Fairfax, VA
More Information and Directions Here
Moderated by Shawn Westfall. Panelists include David Supley Foxworth, Jessica Robinson, Ellouise Schoettler and Anna Marie Trester.

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Storytelling Teacher, nay, Coach

Posted on May 5, 2013. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I am so behind on blogging. The good news is, it’s because I have been so busy! I have been writing, and working, and storytelling.  Lots of storytelling.

I am going to, in the next few days, I think, get around to sharing videos and notes from my last few storytelling shows, but wanted to take a moment to talk about what I will be busy with next Saturday – teaching.  Specifically, teaching storytelling.

My storytelling company, Better Said Than Done, has been offering storytelling workshops for over a year now.  I do share the responsibility of teaching with three other wonderful storytellers, so haven’t lead every workshop, but have been involved in quite a few at this point and I love it.

Better Said Than Done StorytellingOne of my students said to me, “You are not really teaching so much as coaching” and I thought that sounded perfect.  In our workshops, we do offer notes on structure, tips on character building, and general guidance from our years as writers and storytellers, but a big part of what we do is listen to the students, listen to their stories, and then help them figure out what they are trying to say.  It’s the part I love best, because it is always new and exciting, especially for the students, who get to have that “aha moment” when it finally clicks – “that’s what I meant!”

You don’t always get those moments, on your own, as a writer.  So it’s nice to help others find those moments. It’s great to help people discover something that might have taken them a long time to figure out or that maybe they would have otherwise missed.

I am teaching one more workshop, on May 11th, before I take a break to deal with having a baby, and other pressing matters. I already have a four week workshop lined up for September, and am excited for that to start. I am sure the newborn, due August 1st, will be able to take care of herself by then.

If interested in signing up for my last storytelling workshop for a while, read more about it here.  And hurry up and register, because it’s less than a week away!

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Merry Christmas Story

Posted on December 20, 2012. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , |

Better Said Than Done just had our last storytelling show of the year, and it was a holiday theme – “Holiday Cheer.” I chose to do a story about Christmas because I find myself thinking a lot, these days, about what Christmas used to mean to me, and how that’s changed over the years.

Here’s my story. Hope you enjoy my take on the meaning of Christmas.

And a Happy New Year!

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30 Minutes Down

Posted on October 18, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

Last night I performed a 30 minute story at my friend Ellouise Schoettler’s show “Tales in the Village.” The show is monthly and is hosted at the Friendship Heights Community Center.

The reason last night is remarkable is that I have never told a 30 minute story before.  I have told stories for 30 minutes, at another “Tales in the Village” event, but this was the first time I wrote, memorized, and told one story that was 30 minutes long. It was a lot of work!

I think, overall, the performance went well.  There was a bit of distraction in the first few minutes when one of the audience members started complaining that he couldn’t hear. It was a small room, so we had decided not to use the microphone, but as the gentleman persisted, repeatedly, in telling me to be louder, I did eventually grab the mic.

I won’t lie, I had a little heart attack during all that. I have performed over 25 times so at this point I have experienced cell phones, sneezes, people (more…)

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Storytelling Interview

Posted on October 11, 2012. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , |

I got interviewed, for the second time, by the talented and lovely storyteller Ellouise Schoettler on her TV Show “Stories in Focus.” Ellouise and I discussed storytelling, I performed a story into the camera (which is so hard to do!) and then we talked a bit about storytelling business. You can watch the whole interview here.

And just because I never shared it before, here is the video of the first time I appeared on Ellouise’s show, about a year ago.

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