Saturday, November 16, 2013


It was a typically cold Autumn evening in Hope, Indiana for the "Goodies, Goblins, and Ghost Stories" event.  The town square was filled with chilly families out to celebrate the season.
The storytellers stayed warm in a cozy heated  tent with hot apple cider (and a few spiders).  
The tent was not only heated, it also was divided into separate sections so that we could tell tales appropriate for younger kids on one side and the scary ones for older kids and adults on the other side.
The audiences came in all sorts of costumes, and listened to some spooky stories --
some that made them shiver,
and some that made them laugh.
This was one festival that set up the environment for storytelling perfectly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflections on the Festival of Ghost Stories

As daylight faded,  the audience began to gather on the hillside and Keith sent the first notes of "Black and Gold" out into the twilight.
Our co-sponsor, Bloomington Parks and Recreation, provided a wonderful well-lit stage, a super sound system, and hot cider for a chilly night.
Waiting backstage we could hear the muffled sounds of appreciative but well mittened applause.  It did get downright cold before the evening was over.
We did not actually burst out of the jack-o-lantern as we came on stage...but Ken is having fun during the sound check.
Stephanie started us out with a gruesome urban legend "The Slasher" (and made us wonder -- do you remember when no one had cell phones and there were actually phone booths at every little store or gas station????)

Patty got the audience warmed up with "Barney McCabe" as we all tried our best to get those dogs there in time to save the kids from the awful witch.

Here's Lisa before her story - no smiling during the tale of poor "Pretty Maid Alana".

We had demon lovers, dreadful deaths, seriously dysfunctional families, really bad food choices, and several severed body parts in the stories and songs that followed.

And Josh sent everyone home laughing -- and at the same time resolving never to leave a baby alone outside.

Thanks to all who told, and to the Monroe County Public Library and Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department for cosponsoring the event.  It was taped by CATS and so if you missed the performance you may yet see it on cable TV.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Listen...and shiver...

It won't just be the chilly temperature that gets you shivering at the Festival of Ghost Stories this Friday night.
As Dana says:
"THIS YEAR'S LINE-UP includes heart stopping tales, cold terror, eerie ballads, a breakneck chase to beat the devil, frightening children, grisly stews and mysterious herbs, a gruesome and embarrassingly funny toe-tapping sing a-long. Oh, and if you've been watching Grimm on TV, we can guarantee a tale from the Brothers Grimm that will leave you shuddering. Don't miss it!"

Ooooh!  See you there: Bryan Park, hillside near the basketball court, 7:00 pm.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dress warmly!

It will be COLD sitting out on the ground in Bryan Park this Friday for the FESTIVAL OF GHOST STORIES!   Bring a blanket and a buddy to stay warm while you listen to shivery stories.

Monday, October 7, 2013

National Storytelling Festival

Dana was one of the lucky folks who made it to the National Storytelling Festival this year. She sent this report back to us:

  Inline image 1
Thursday.  On the road near the Appalachian mountains. It's still a 7 1/2/ hour trip...we're almost to Jonesborough.

How many remember these at a past Storytelling Festival: Doc McConnel's tall tales (Vienna sausages or the snakebit hoe handle) and checking in at the Christopher House on Main Street in Jonesborough?

A few of the Festival's 500 volunteer workers waiting for the crowd to arrive for Tim O'Brien's Thursday pre-festival concert.  
Best quote of the night:  "There are only 2 stories:  Someone goes on a journey, someone new comes to town."

Friday.  10 am.  The 41st National Storytelling Festival begins...after we wait for the train to pass 5 feet behind the Courthouse Tent.  Bring back memories for some of you?     Now it's 2:30.  So far, Bill Lepp, Donald Davis, Tim Lowry, Rev, Robert Jones, Geraldine Buckley...waiting to hear Ed Stivender!

Sheila Kay Adams.  One of my absolute favorite - an amazing storyteller who has also collected mountain ballads her entire life.  
Other tellers new to me that I'm enjoying:  Antonio Rocha, Tim Lowry,  Rev. Robert Jones, and David Novak.  
Saw Ellen Munds yesterday - hope she invites a few of my favorites to Indy soon.  Also ran into Bev Martin and met a lot of friendly storytelling fans from far and near.  Farthest - New Zealand.  

Thanks, Dana!  If you want to know more about the National Festival, visit :

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Coming on Friday, Oct. 4

 Time to prepare.

Time to get ready for the season of spooky stories.

Time to work on a tale for the annual Festival of Ghost Stories.
Bring your story, or your idea of a story, to the audition meeting

Friday, October 4th

4:00-6:00 pm

Monroe County Public Library, meeting room 1-A

Questions?  Can't make that time?  Want to see the "Expectations" list to decide if your story fits?  Email the Guild.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Not just for adults

September marks the beginning of our storytelling season.  We're making plans and looking for spooky stories, getting ready for the flurry of activity around Halloween.
This is also when the public library resumes regular preschool storytimes.
Storytellers use books and props and flannelboards
and puppets to enhance the listening experience 
and introduce young audiences to story appreciation.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Picnic and Planning Meeting

 It was a lovely evening in Upper Cascades Park

when the Guild gathered for a planning session

and picnic.
 There were plentiful plates full of good food -  healthy salad,

fruits and veggies --

and one must mention the pie

and the still warm brownies

that accompanied the also plentiful conversation.
We had lots to discuss: the upcoming Festival of Ghost Stories on  Oct. 25, with the auditions on Oct. 4th; some exciting ideas for promotional activities; a weekend of storytelling that will include both Wintertelling and a workshop in February  -- you will be hearing more about all this. 

We welcomed a new member

and missed those of you who could not join us.

It was a fine beginning

to what promises to be a very good Storytelling season!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time for our annual Fall Gathering!

Summer's almost it must be time for our annual Fall Gathering.

The Bloomington Storytellers Guild invites members, their families and friends, and anyone interested in the traditional art of storytelling to join us for a Fall Picnic on Sunday, September 22. We will gather in the Lions Den Shelter House at Upper Cascades Park on Bloomington's north side around 5:00 pm.
(note: this facility IS handicapped accessible!)

Bring a pitch-in dish to share and whatever you prefer to drink, and we'll supply plates, forks, and cups. 

We'll talk about the coming storytelling season and answer questions about the Guild and its activities.  Yes, there might be a story or two as well!

Dues are due, if you are a teller who wants to tell with us, send an email if you have questions about this.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Campfire stories

"While it is possible to have a story session, even a "Campfire program" without a real campfire -- build one if it is at all possible.  Who can help but feel a mystical sense of awareness when staring at the flames of a campfire?...
"The end of the campfire, after the embers have burned down low, is the perfect time for telling a scary story."

from: Campfire Stories...things that go bump in the night, by William Forgey, M.D.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


"Together we can save Story and find a happy ending for us all"

Another book that reminds us of the importance of telling the old fairytales -
otherwise, how will readers know who the characters are?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

For Memorial Day: War Stories

"... the thing about remembering is that you don't forget.”
 “Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

 “In any war story, but especially a true one, it's difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen becomes its own happening and has to be told that way. The angles of vision are skewed. When a booby trap explodes, you close your eyes and duck and float outside yourself. .. The pictures get jumbled, you tend to miss a lot. And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed.”
“And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It's about sunlight. It's about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It's about love and memory. It's about sorrow. It's about sisters who never write back and people who never listen.”

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”

all quotes from Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

Thursday, May 9, 2013


     "I can see her face, fairy-ridden.  I can hear the soft Irish burr on her tongue which made the words join hands and dance, making a fairy ring that completely encircled me.  I can hear her begin the tale of "Wee Meg Barnileg," knowing it already well myself, and feeling the stinging mortification of Meg's own behavior, which might well have been mine.  But Johanna pointed no moral and drew no application.  There was the tale -- I could take it or leave it; and always I took it."

Ruth Sawyer in The Way of the Storyteller

Monday, April 15, 2013

More thoughts on folklore

As we get ready for our meeting on Friday, here's another idea to think about.
Many tellers who tell folktales get the stories from books like this:
 "During the last years of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, these myths and tales were collected by scholars and others who recognized their beauty and their importance in describing the Native American view of the world.  They wished to save them for others to enjoy before Anglo-European culture buried them forever."

"How are we to understand these myths?  Certainly not as "just-so" stories about the way things were, or as scientific explanations of the natural world.  They are allegories or parables that attempt to explain what it means to be human in an often unfriendly world.  Some tell how people should act and how to obey the customs of the tribe.  Others simply describe the way this are or how they came to be.  Some stories are regarded as sacred; others are not. All of them give tribal members standards to live by."
 (quotes from the Preface)

How does someone who is not from the original culture that told the story go about transmitting it to others?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Getting ready for our meeting

Since we will be discussing folktales at our meeting on Friday, April 19, here is a classic collection:
And a comment from the translator:
"Why, in English, were they called fairy tales in the first place?  For, despite a considerable population of devils, witches, goblins, and elves, there are, strictly speaking, no fairies in these stories.....
The reason is that when the tales first arrived in England, such "absurdities" were thought to be fit only for children, who were distinctly second-class citizens at the time. ... And since the tales were addressed to children, they were termed fairy tales and , by and large, gift-wrapped in a fairy-tale style that was supposed to appeal to children.
In the present century, however, and especially in the last few decades, the Tales for Young and Old....have, with no change on their part, become more and more modern..."

Do you think folktales still speak to adults?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Storytelling with Folktales - Our next meeting

Once upon a time...
Join us for a meeting on Friday, April 19, at 6:30 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Fee Lane in Bloomington.  We'll be talking about storytelling with folktales and sharing some stories.  IF you would like to share a story as part of this meeting, please email the coordinator at the Guild address.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Listening to the tale

"Filling up blank sheets of paper is, indeed, not the same as the sound of your own voice shaping a tale as it wells up out of your memory and as your own fancy plays with all its twists and turns.  And the best part of it is that finally by some mysterious process you find that you are listening to the tale yourself as much as the listeners around you."

Richard Chase, in the preface to Grandfather Tales.
Illus by Berkeley Williams, Jr.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Divafest - The Storytelling Stage

You know we love those Divas, especially when one is our own Stephanie Holman....

Yes, this year Diva Fest  in Indianapolis features a Storytelling Stage.  Here's an opportunity for you to hear original stories told by four wonderful women on Sunday, March 10, from 2 - 5 p.m.

The program will be at Indy Reads Books, 911 Massachusetts Avenue, and tickets are $12.00 at the door.

Stephanie will open the program at 2:00 with three of her original stories, collected under the title "Move It or Lose It."   We know listeners will enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"...somehow it works."

    "Let me explain something.  In some ways, nothing can be more preposterous than telling stories.  You think up some odd little ideas.  You make some noises with your tongue and mouth. You share your dreams and ideas with other people -- your listeners.  Everything I've told you about Jack Storyteller is true, yet the truth doesn't make his story any less preposterous.  The same for any other story.  Yet somehow it works.  The dreams spread from your mind to theirs.  The sounds you make, the stories you tell, release the dreams into the world."

     "One last thing.
What matters most is that you live your own story to the fullest and that you tell it well.  Make sure you fully develop your main character.  Fill the tales with lots of other characters -- men, women, children, even animals --who tell their own stories.  Make your listeners laugh or cry...or even sneeze.  Have lots of twists and turns in the plot, but not too many, before you reach your final resolution.  Then, when the day is done, you can feel confident that your characters have been fulfilled, your craft mastered, your story well told."

by Edward Myers

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jack Storyteller

  "At that moment Jack reached an insight, one he never forgot: a bee in a story could tickle worse than a real bee.  He realized, too, that a story peach could be sweeter than a real peach, a story flower more fragrant than a real flower, a story song more melodious than a real song.  What existed in a story could be more real than what existed in the world.  And by reaching this insight, Jack understood the true power of his art."
-Edward Myers

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wintertelling 2013

 It was a lovely evening for our annual Wintertelling event,
sponsored by the Monroe County Public Library (thank you, Sara, for setting everything up!)

People came in chilly from the cold night and took their seats in the auditorium, chatting to each other, and preparing to listen and be entertained.
As the storytellers took the stage one by one, I watched the audience react to each story --some stories brought smiles and chuckles, even a few belly laughs; some stories brought rueful head nods and sighs; some stories had people wiping away a tear.

Each teller presented their carefully crafted story like a jewel for the audience to appreciate.
 Applause to all who participated!  
It was a Wintertelling to remember.